Wednesday, July 31, 2013

End of July Already?!

How did this happen? July flew by for me. Since Wednesday happens to be the last day of the month, I'm combining my WIP and LYL updates into one.
See how I did at my county fair this year! I did surprisingly well.

Here's the progress on my bottom up raglan sweater:

As of 3PM Tuesday, I had 2 3/4" out of the 4 1/2" needed to finish the
bottom ribbing. At 4 1/2" I can start the first fair isle section.


And for my LYL July goals, they were met on Friday night/Saturday morning. My goal for August? More of the same. Another pattern repeat (read: 48 rows) or two, if I don't get called to start nursing school this fall.
As for reading, a lot of Fr. Z lately.

  

Previous LYL posts:

January Goals
January Wrap-up
February Goals
February Wrap-up
March Goals 

April Goals
April Wrap-up/May goals
May Wrap-up
June Goals

Monday, July 29, 2013

Yarn Review Monday 7: Vanna's Choice by Lion Brand

What is YRM: I honestly believe there are good things and bad things about every type of yarn, no matter how much you save or how much you break the bank. 

This is for the lay-knitter, not professionals. This is for people like me who might not necessarily be fiber experts despite being a crocheter or knitter for a long time, but need an honest opinion about yarn before they dive into a project with it.

The yarn: 
Vanna's Choice by Lion Brand
100% acrylic
3oz/85g - 145yd/133m
Woods print colorway
3.5 years after finishing the sweater,
 I still have a little in the stash.



The project: Knitting Pure and Simple pattern 991: Neck down Pullover for Men. The first sweater I ever made. It was for my husband, before we got married. Fantastic pattern for raglan, top-down sweaters. Perfect for beginners.



 
What I liked: I liked how the colors striped for the most part, except that weird and obvious black stripe right at the waistline which makes the rest of the striping look kind of funny. It also holds its shape really nicely and hasn't even begun to pill after repeated washing. It was good to use to practice sweater making.

What I didn't like: Only one out of the six or seven skeins I used wasn't full of knots. Not just knots where the yarn was knotted into itself, I can deal with that. It was full of knots where the yarn had ended and was tied together to make the rest of the length. I complained to the company (went to the Lion Brand website and filled out one of their official complaint forms) mid-way through the project and was never responded to. I could have forgiven them if they would have, at the very least, apologized, but I didn't even get that. It was overall a disappointing experience.

Where you can buy it:  I got mine at JoAnn's.

Affordability: $3.99 regularly, but JoAnn's currently (as of 7.26.13) for $2.99

Overall rating:







Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this or asked to review this yarn by any store or the company itself. Opinions are my own.

To the fair!

The county fair here just ended so here are some photos from the last four days.

My entries:




All of my projects together


Cool place for little ones. Kiddie pools filled with seeds. One had soybeans, one had corn, I think this one is wheat?

The yarn I treated myself to. Made by a local vendor. I really like her yarns:



Friday, July 26, 2013

Knitting Madness Recap

knitting madness hangout.

Today was another Knitting Madness event hosted by Natalie from Marigold's Loft. We discussed our favorite yarns and got to meet some other women who knit and blog about it.
We also showed off projects made from our favorite yarns and Natalie put together a PDF of the yarns we chose to share with each other.
Here are some screenshots from the Hangout.




Next month's topic is needles. Will you join us? It will be at 2pm central time (US)/9PM European on August 23.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Another New WIP

Morning edit: Every time I open a tab with your projects, my son exclaims, "Wow, knitting!" If he only did that for me...

So, I cast on, knit 100 stitches, realized I never made sure it wouldn't be twisted. After I fixed that, I got within 180 stitches from the end of the row and saw this:



Why yes that IS my stitch market cast into my first row. So I had to rip the whole thing out. 380 stithes of cast- on plus 200 stitches that I had knit on size 1US needles.
And naturally the yarn knotted on its own fibers so I was unable to frog. The yarn ripped. Yes, ripped. Plus I had to cut my stitch market out. Sick, I know. That's not the best part. I couldn't salvage at least a yard or two of Malabrigo. Grrrrr.

My mother was shocked that I had to start with 380 stitches when we bought the yarn.

"Isn't that an insane amount of stitches?"
"Yeah. You basically make stitches until you want to kill yourself, and then you add some more."

That was the conversation we actually had. And yes, already this project has gotten me to the kill-myself-but-persevere point.


I bought this on Saturday morning. The unofficial Harry Potter knits. The sweaters were the selling point for me. I've come across few sweater patterns that I love enough that I think I could knit well, maintain my motivation to actually finish it, and then the important part, wearing it. I mean really, I am already in love with Ginny's owl sweater and Luna's vest. They're both in the photo above.

I need some help.
What knitting supplies are allowed in carry-on bags when flying? I'm sure I won't get any knitting done because of the kids but I'd like to bring my sweater. It's on circulars and they're very small needles. Is that allowed?
Thanks ladies! See more here:


  

Monday, July 22, 2013

Yarn Review Monday 6: Berroco Vintage(TM) Chunky

What is YRM: I honestly believe there are good things and bad things about every type of yarn, no matter how much you save or how much you break the bank. 

This is for the lay-knitter, not professionals. This is for people like me who might not necessarily be fiber experts despite being a crocheter or knitter for a long time, but need an honest opinion about yarn before they dive into a project with it.

The yarn: 
Berroco Vintage(TM) Chunky
50% acrylic
40% wool
10% polymide nylon
3.53 oz/100 g; 130 yds/ 119 m

The pink and blue skeins are the stars of the show today.


The project: The stripes and lace on my Quaking Aspen shawl.



 
What I liked: Project-specifically, I liked how it balanced the rougher orange hand spun yarn both in color and texture. Takes a good 'frogging.' It maintained its softness and bounciness after being frogged partially and completely (the whole skein) twice. Also held its original squish and softness after blocking.  I am also in love with the subtleties in the color. I think in that first photo you can see strands of pink among the blue. That really helped it go well with my project.

What I didn't like: It splits from purling but that's to be expected. Otherwise I really don't have a whole lot to complain about. It's like meth- you could get addicted after one use. Not that I know about that personally, but that's what I hear. But the yarn... I am addicted and it might get unhealthy. It is a little too thick for lace, which is not what it is made for anyway. My lace e edging turned out a bit stiffer than I expected since it is so soft and hangs well in garter stitch.

Where you can buy it: I bought my skeins at A2Z Yarns in Brainard, MN on a mini vacation. I think Berroco is sold at most local yarn shops. You would have to ask the LYS near you to find out.The Berroco retailer store locator can help you too.

Affordability: $7.50 regular price at the LYS (A2Z Yarns) I purchased it at. The particular color way was on clearance for 50% off though. Ravelry says normal retail is $8 though. 

Overall rating:


 

After using it once I am compelled to use it for everything. Everything. I wasn't kidding when I said addicted. Every time I think about going yarn shopping, I think about buying more of this. The softness-oh the softness!- and how beautiful their colors are... I am in love.

If you think I've been giving too many glowing reviews, next week I will be changing the tone of things and talking about a yarn I don't ever plan on buying again. Stay tuned.



Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this or asked to review this yarn by any store or the company itself. Opinions are my own.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Texture!

I will show a rather cryptic photo for this week's work in progress since it is a gift.



To the untrained eye this hopefully doesn't look like much. All I can say is: I love the textures in this. I love how the different stitches make the knitting go so much faster too. I'm going to exceed my July Library goal for it.

I don't think I've read anything for myself in over a month because I've been focusing on my son's reading sheets for story time at our local library. As a result we've been reading a lot of preschool- appropriate books lately. Too many to list, in fact.

See more by clicking below:

  


Some items of "business."
I finally ended my game of yarn chicken with my Quaking Aspen Shawl on Saturday. See the FO here.

I've done six Yarn Review Monday posts since I decided to do them back in May. The links are listed below if you are interested.
Yarn Reviews:
Bernat Boa ( Eyelash yarn; "unofficial" yarn review)
Caron Simply Soft Solids and Simply Soft Light
Cascade 220 Sport Weight
Deborah Norville's Serenity Chunky Sprinkles
DGB Confetti
Paton's Classic Wool

Speaking of yarn, Marigold's Loft is hosting another Knitting Madness G+ Hangout next Friday. You have until this Friday to get a form and fill it out, and email it back to her if you want to join us. It is a lot of fun! Give it a try.


I had to add this... My co- worker made me some stitch markers after showing her some cake ones I loved on Etsy. They're adorable. Check them out!

Can they get any cuter?! Plus I can use them on larger needles. No, it does not get cuter than that.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Yarn Review Monday 5: Caron Simply Soft

What is YRM: I honestly believe there are good things and bad things about every type of yarn, no matter how much you save or how much you break the bank. 

This is for the lay-knitter, not professionals. This is for people like me who might not necessarily be fiber experts despite being a crocheter or knitter for a long time, but need an honest opinion about yarn before they dive into a project with it.

The yarn: 
Caron Simply Soft Solids, Simply Soft Light
100% acrylic
6 oz/170 g; 315 yds/288 m
Chocolate (Solids) and Hawaiian Sky (Light) color ways





Hawaiian Sky for Simply Soft Light
Appears darker than it is, see project below for a better idea of how it looks.





The projects: The back and accents on the Devan and my Tallulah bolero




 
What I liked: I was able to easily string beads for the beadwork on my bolero. Soft as the name suggests and works well for clothing items. There are also so many colors to choose from. There really is a "sheen" like the description on the JoAnn's website says too. My photos do not show that off.
What I didn't like: It splits from purling but that's to be expected. Otherwise I really don't have a whole lot to complain about.

Where you can buy it: I bought 6 or 7 skeins combined from JoAnn's, both in-store and online. You can also purchase directly from the Caron website.

Affordability: Very. $4.50 regular price at JoAnn's and the Caron website linked to above. 


Overall rating:


 













Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this or asked to review this yarn by any store or the company itself. Opinions are my own.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Day Late, Yardage Short

Despite finishing two hours ago, I think I'll still do an FO Friday post.
It is about half the size it was designed to be. It is the Quaking Aspen Shawl from Ravelry. Also, it's a free pattern.
Please excuse my work uniform...



All I need to do now is block it...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

DIY: Decorate Phineas and Ferb Themed Cupcakes

I like to go a little crazy with my kids' birthday cakes since that's really the extent of my birthday party efforts. Last year it was Adventure Time:

This year my little one asked for Phineas and Ferb. I decided to go the cupcake route and ended up with this:

Originally I thought making stencils would make this process easier. I don't recommend it because it is incredibly messy and very difficult to add the icing in the cutout.


 The materials I needed once the cupcakes were made were:

  • Chocolate icing (or a base color) with the sprinkles included (or your own favorite sprinkles)
  • Vanilla or a white colored icing
  •  Four spoons
  •  Vanilla wafer cookies
  • Food coloring colors: red, yellow, green, blue
  • Toothpicks
  • Small plastic sandwich bag
The Caucasian skin color was made with three drops of yellow with one of red. I lightened it to the correct shade by adding undyed vanillas icing.

I dyed half the vanilla icing turquoise for my Perry cupcakes. I used about one regular spoonful of icing for the skin color, and about 1/4c icing for the green and red.

Caucasian skin color: 3 drops yellow, 1 drop red, add plain icing to lighten
Turquoise: 3 drops blue, 1 drop green
Start by mixing the colors, then ice half the cupcakes with chocolate or your base color.
Both boys have easy, basic shapes to draw so don't get intimidated!

Ferb was easier so I'll start with him:
  • Basic shape: rectangle
  • Add green icing to a sandwich bag, snip a small hole in corner. Too small of a hole will cause the icing to curl, which is cool but not what you're going for.
  • Draw two long lines, connected at their bottom. Draw a line between them without picking up your icing bag. See the path drawn below:


  • Add a small circle on one side for his big nose, and a smaller dab of icing just above it for the eye.
  • Using a toothpick,  drag some of the green from the back of the rectangle to make his hair (Pictured further down). Do the same once under his nose for his characteristic lip.
Phineas is a little tricky due to his mouth, but still doable. The key is keeping sharp corners.
  • Basic shape: triangle
  • Take a chocolate iced cupcake and, after doing this with the skin colored icing, add red food coloring to make his red hair color.  This also let's you reuse the icing if you're going to mostly make them as silhouettes like I did. Using the bag drawing technique, draw half of a triangle, shown below with arrows in two steps starting with the line already pictured.



  • When you add that top jaw you will need to curve the line to create the open mouthed smile, as shown with the second arrow.
  • Put a dab of icing on top of the triangle for his eyes. Spread icing from back of triangle to make hair using a separate toothpick.

 When you decorate the cupcakes that aren't silhouettes, you add the hair the same way, with a toothpick, but it off a spoon instead of spreading it from the back of the head.
You will also use that technique to add a dab of undyed vanilla icing for their eyes.

Using the sprinkles that came with the icing, take a pinch and sprinkle around the silhouettes in the background color and ads one of the flat sprinkles to each plain dab of icing for the iris of their eyes.


All you do for Perry's butt is to ice with the turquoise and stick a half or third of the wafer cookie in it. Perry was a favorite and so so easy, that I made a dozen of them just as Perry and the rest were split 1/2 and 1/2.

All two dozen cupcakes:

Depending on your candles, you might want to have a plain cupcake. Then get ready to song and blow out the candles!

Stick candles (number included) found at Wall-Mart for $1.50 and 99¢.