Monday, November 21, 2011

On updating Ravelry...

First and foremost, I love Ravelry. It is a fantastic resource that the developers have made available, and I would like to thank everyone who advertises for doing so and keeping it a *FREE* resource. The fact that I can find a yarn, its yardage, its weight, and local shops that carry it around me is fantastic. I hate ordering yarn, and prefer to support local shops whenever humanly possible.

I don’t update my Ravelry page that often. I find that I am always a few projects behind. I did take a few minutes the other day to post the Nutkin socks that I just finished (with yarn from Indigo Dragonfly in the ‘Captain Tight Pants’ colorway - see my previous "Socks" post for more info), as well as the vest that I finished as well. However, all of the items that I did for the recent craft fair I did aren’t up. The newest yoga socks, sweaters, and hats that I did for a local boutique aren’t there, and neither is the plethora of armwarmers/fingerless that I did for another shop. I find that if I don’t have the time to post it from my phone, then I rarely update.

I wish I had the option of an app to post my stash as I acquire it, or projects as I finish them. Unfortunately, I have yet to come across an app. It is my understanding that there is one for Android users, however, I have an iPhone… and no Ravelry app. If there is a developer out there reading this… please?  I would (and I’m sure that there are many other knitters out there) love you forever, and ever, and ever!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Socks, socks, and more socks!

The first pair...
Approximately one year ago (give or take a couple of weeks) I decided, “Screw it. I’m learning how to use those stupid itty bitty DPNs and I’m making socks.” Five days later, I had my first pair. They were done in a Red Heart Heart and Sole with Aloe yarn, and I haven’t looked back.

Obviously, my sock yarn palette has become more sophisticated, but for that first pair, I didn’t want to screw it up, so I used something cheap. I don’t think anyone can fault me for that! I still have this first pair of socks and I love them. They show that even though I was a beginner (with socks, at least), I was able to set a goal and accomplish it. Now, I have enough socks to wear a hand knit pair every day for about a week, and I have about five other balls of sock yarn sitting in my stash waiting for me to get to them. I think they sit there, not so much waiting as lurking. ;)

Horseshoe Cables with ShiBui

After starting with said Heart and Sole, I moved on to some Hazel Knits, then to some ShiBui Sock (which, in my humble opinion is still one of the best deals out there in terms of quality to price ratio), I have in my stash some gorgeous blue from Miss Babs (purchased at Sock Summit specifically for Tardis socks), a beautiful bright yellow with sparkles from Knitted Wit, a really cool camo colorway from Pico Accuardi, and yes, even some of Lion Brand’s sock… what can I say, it was on sale, and I kinda dig the color.

Ann Budd design with Sanguine Gryphon
I love the sense of completion when a pair of socks is done. You know that you will get use out of them. Probably more so than anything else that you take the time to knit. You ALWAYS need socks. Yes, I know there is magic loop, and knitting two at a time on circulars, but something about doing them each individually is ultra satisfying to me. Watching this little tube grow… I don’t know. It’s just kind of cool. There are so many methods and different types of heels, toes, cast-ons, cast offs… the variety is endless, and so are the patterns! I have several sock pattern books, yet always crave more! Cookie A is one of my favs, but I also really enjoy just a simple ribbed sock, which makes for great tv knitting, or audio book knitting… or knitting when there are kids around.
Nutkin with IndigoDragonfly's Captain TightPants

I don’t think that my love for socks is going anywhere anytime soon… and I look forward to the next time Sock Summit comes to PDX!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Social Media and... Contests?

I don’t win things. Flat out. The only thing I have ever won was an Atari 2600 when I was about four years old. Okay, my parents won it, but I was the one that put up the hissy fit about going to McDonald’s that night, and if we hadn’t gone, they wouldn’t have entered, and we wouldn’t have won. Ergo, I won the Atari. (That my stupid little brother then turned around and sold a few years ago… but I’m not bitter or anything…)

Over the last few weeks, I seem to be on something of a winning streak. I haven’t been crocheting very long, and usually when I see a crochet contest, I’ll enter, because I would love to round out my knitting books with some additional crochet books! A few weeks ago, I did just that, and entered a contest on the Cute Crochet blog to win a copy of Sarah London’s Granny Square Love. I’m really good with crocheted washcloths and hats, but the world of Granny Squares is one that I haven’t ventured into. Imagine my shock and surprise when I got an email saying that I had won! I was so excited! When the book arrived, I flipped through the pages, and I am delighted to say that it is a gorgeous book and the images are fun, vibrant, and a great resource to compliment the pattern. We have all seen or attempted patterns that, even though they have a beautiful image, aren’t the most clear, and the accompanying image is of little to no help. I seriously can’t wait to do several patterns from this book… after Christmas.

Next up was a random contest from Keen Footwear. I have sworn by Keen shoes for the kids for years. Ethan got his first pair when he was in preschool and Xavier got his first pair of sandals when he was barely a year old. They are by far the most durable, perfect for kids shoes I have ever come across. Not only do they last for one kid, my kids (who tear through shoes) have passed their Keens along to other kids, who have worn them for just as long! Todd has had several pairs, and although he is currently banned from any more sandals (they just reek after a few weeks… nothing that can really be done about it), he found a great deal on a pair of mid-height boots at REI during one of their sales.

Jenni's Betty Boots!

If you couldn’t tell, I really swear by (and LOVE) their shoes! So when I saw a tweet from them asking if you won a Keen Recess kit, who would you share it with? I immediately thought of Ethan’s Second Grade teacher. She is his favorite teacher ever, and quite frankly, with all of the cutbacks in our district, well, they don’t get rewarded enough for all that they do.

My Bern Baby Bern Boots!

WE WON! Our kit included t-shirts for both of us, socks, note pads, lanyards, hacky sacks, lip balm (side note: one of the best lip balms I have ever used!), and a pair of shoes for EACH of us! She didn’t believe me when I told her we actually won!  It was a great surprise and many, many thanks to Keen for choosing us! For us, they are a local company that does a TON of great things for our area and I am happy to promote and support what they do!

Fyberspates Scrumptious in Teal
Finally, I commented on the Lantern Moon blog and won DK/Worsted weight of their new Fyberspates Scrumptious yarn! I’m waiting on this to arrive and will do a full review when it does, but I am SO excited to get this one!

All in all, I’m considering myself a pretty lucky girl! I’m pretty sure I should go play the lottery now. I am recusing myself from any further contests until after the new year though, to give others the chance to win something!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Holiday Shop Updates!

Let’s face it, as crafty people, the last thing we really want to be doing is spending hours upon hours listing items for the various sites that we sell our wares on. Saturday afternoon/evening, however, that is exactly what I did. I got about half of them up. After about three hours.

I have a ton of new stitch markers, including the ever popular Lego heads, as well as some Pirate themed ones, some adorable hands with little hearts in them, and some basic little ones too with pearls and beads. In addition, I have HANDSPUN cowls (only two!) for only $35 dollars! I am not above shameless self promotion on my blog. :) I haven’t figured out a way to effectively list the TON of project bags that I have available as well, so if anyone is interested, just shoot me a message and I can create a custom listing.
For my lovely Twitter and Facebook pals, enter either ‘Twitter’ or ‘Facebook’ into the coupon code area for an extra 10% off! Also, starting on Black Friday, if you enter ‘PDXETSY2011’ as your code, you will receive FREE SHIPPING!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Dennis' Seven Dees Holiday Fair

For the third year in a row, Dennis’ Seven Dees (a local landscaping/nursery company) held their Holiday fair/bazaar/crafty festival as a benefit for the Tucker-Maxon School here in Portland. This school focuses on children that have hearing and speech issues, whether it be complete loss of hearing, partial loss, cochlear implants, etc., but they also have welcomed children that have full abilities as well. I’m not sure what the exact politically correct terms are, so forgive me if I have misspoken. We actually considered Tucker-Maxon when we were looking at preschool options for our youngest son, Xavier, who has been in speech therapy since he was almost two.

When I got the Etsy convo, I was most certainly in! The totally cool thing was that there was no table fee. Table and application fees are the bane of my existence, and quite frankly, the reason I don’t do more shows. I hate having to wait to see if I’ve been accepted, and I don’t keep a ton of stock on hand, as I tend to do more custom work than anything else. What they do for this show, and did I mention it is a FANTASTIC idea, is they ask for an item donation from each of the vendors in lieu of a fee. They then sell raffle tickets, and people put them in little jars at each table for the item that they want to be entered into the drawing to win. I am far more inclined to donate a higher value item than I am to pay a table fee! For this, I donated something that I had actually intended for myself, and it was made with a gorgeous silver Madelinetosh merino wool yarn, with a retail of around $30 (and I under price things, so it was probably worth about $45 from another seller).

Not only was this my most successful show ever, it was also the most successful event that they have had, and raised the most that they ever had for Tucker-Maxon! Even though it was rainy, cold, dreary… and both Ethan and I were sick, we still had a great time and totally enjoyed meeting everyone! It was lovely to see some of my Twitter pals and fellow PDX Etsians. I am excited to participate next year, especially since I have a better handle on what sells at this event!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bulky Lace? Why Not?

Back lace section in progress...
As anyone who knows me is well aware, New England Knits is one of my most very favorite books… I love nearly every pattern in the book, and have made four of them at this point. One that caught my immediate attention was the Montague Bulky Lace Vest.

I know that a lot of people don’t care for bulky weight yarn when used in garments. I, however, am super tiny and can get away with it. Quite honestly, it kind of helps me look a little less tiny and more normal sized! I found this particular yarn at a stash sale at Urban Fiber Arts in downtown Portland a few months ago. I passed on it at first, thinking, okay, well, we don’t really have a random $40 to spend on yarn that I don’t necessarily NEED. But, when I met back up with Todd, he asked how much it was versus how much it would normally be. That’s when I kind of realized how good of a deal it truly was! (And that Todd is awfully understanding when it comes to yarn sales!)

Front view, shawl pin from Twisted PDX
Out of the stash sale, I snagged five balls of Rowan’s Big Wool, which, though the pattern called for more, I really only used about four and a half balls. My gauge was spot on, too… Hmmmm. I guess I used less for seaming than was planned by the designer. I had even gone and purchased an extra ball of baby alpaca for the front banding, just in case I didn’t have enough. So, now, I have a half a ball of the Big Wool left, as well as a whole ball of chunky baby alpaca… hellooooo pretty cowl!

One change I did make though, the pattern calls for changing needle size for the front banding. Instead of changing to a 10(US), I felt this would be a little small for the scale of the rest of the vest, so I went down to an 11(US) instead. I think that this turned out perfectly. It made the front banding tighter, yet doesn’t pull up on the bottom. I also did about half an inch less on the banding, as I didn’t want the back of the neck as high as it was in the pattern image.

An unexpected outcome was that (again, because I am tiny) I was able to wear it without needing to block it! Since I am the impatient type, this is always a good thing for me. Usually I will make the next size up, specifically so that I don’t have to block it, or worry about having to block it when I wash it. I don’t know if this gets me bonus points for foresight or negative points for being lazy…