Thursday, September 6, 2012

a bag of bicycles

about this time last summer, i started this bag. i really wanted to make a bag with this crazy awesome bicycle fabric fabric, and i was really attracted to the pattern because it looks a lot like my favorite purse. (my honey kindly pointed out that i haven't been actively working on it for over a year, it's just been in progress for over a year).

i placed an order with purl soho, i gathered supplies from my local joann's, and i spent some quality time with my sewing machine. so much so that it started to smoke. kidding, but i was pretty much attached to it for a few days.

and then i ran into a problem. i needed some rectangle metal sliders for the purse strap, to make it adjustable. i couldn't find them anywhere locally, but managed to find some online. carries them in a variety of sizes, for a great price, with free shipping! score!

i fell in love with this bicycle fabric, and still really love it now. last summer, if you remember, i was repairing and reconstructing a rescued bicycle (which also finally got finished this year, since my honey 'stole' it and put a chain on it).

the only major problem i had is that the strap didn't come out long enough as per the instructions. so, i cut an extra 20", and attached it to the longer part of the overall strap. and i guess my biggest complaint would the that the pockets are kinda shallow.

overall, i'm really happy with the pattern, it's fairly easy, for my 3rd sewing project! it was a great learning experience for how to do pleats and use fusible interfacing. now if only i could finish the dress that i've been working on for the same amount of time!

pattern: simplicity 2205, B
main fabric: birch fabrics avalon girl cruiser
contrast fabric: cotton, blue feathers, from joann's sale rack

Friday, August 31, 2012

adios august

i meant to do individual posts for all these projects, but, well, time makes fools of us all. so here they are, all in one!

first off, i'm in love with my amy's scarf. and i adore this ella rae lace merino. it's so soft, bouncy, and comes in fantastic colors (this is color 131). i might be scheming other projects for it...

amy van de laar shared with the world this amazing free scarf pattern. this lace was pretty easy, if i paid attention, and kept me entertained and busy throughout the entire length of this scarf, which is really quite the feat. the lace pattern is known by several names, my favorite being 'shooting stars.'

we had a mini photoshoot during our weekend beach vacation
i also got to use the blocking supplies i got for my birthday from my amazing parents!

what else can i say? i'm in love! i mentioned this scarf a few weeks back, and met my goal of finishing it before class started again!

another brilliant, free, doctor who-inspired scarf pattern is bigger on the inside by kate atherley. i ordered some yarn from nerd girl yarns as a birthday present to myself, exactly for this scarf!

i learned a new lace design, and how to cable without a cable needle! how awesome is that? my only problem is that i don't know how to wear it... it's not wide long enough to tie like a triangle scarf, but that might be because i forgot to look at what size i should have blocked it out to, so it's a few inches off in each dimension.  i'm thinking i'll try to block it out more aggressively.

i love nerd girl yarns, so many fandoms and absolutely lovely colorways to choose from! this colorway is 'sexy,' on the shimma base. and the colors are so true to the site, i'd happily order more!

this has been the month of awesome free fandom patterns. i've already made a pair of erica leuder's hermione's everyday socks, but when i saw the colors that knitterjenny had chosen, out of one of my favorite yarns, i couldn't resist! i actually started these socks months ago, trying to do the entire heel and gusset in the white, leaving me with about 40,000 ends to weave in. huge mistake. after realizing that i would never, ever weave those in, i finally took them out and redid them!

one day in the library while i was knitting and studying, a girl passed me a note that read 'those are kind of fantastic.' it totally made my day! so now here they are, my 'huge mistake, kinda fantastic hermione socks.'

august got 460 yards from the ella rae scarf, ~480 yards from the TARDIS scarf, ~380 yards for the socks , and 190 yards from two more skeins to the rocky coast cardigan, for a total of .85 miles for august!

Monday, August 20, 2012

little monsters

one of my favorite things to do whenever a friend has a baby is to make them a toy or two. i really prefer doing this over clothing, because a toy can never be the wrong size, and they aren't easily outgrown (i still have a box full of my favorite childhood toys in my closet). also, they don't take very much time or yarn.

my dear friend and coworker, cassy, just had a baby a few weeks ago. little zooey arrived before the baby shower, so i held on to these toys for a while until i could go and visit them.

'where the wild things are,' by maurice sendak, was one of my favorite books as a kid. so when i saw this carol/moishe toy by allison hoffman, i knew i had to make one! it was a little daunting for my third crochet project, and there was some frustration, but i kept on keeping on and i'm pretty proud how he turned out!

this little wild thing is made entirely out of berroco comfort. i held the darker grey double for the hair to achieve the bulky weight. and it kinda looked like weird candy corn when it started out...

rebecca danger is another great designer for toys, and her presley pattern is perfect for infants, with his one long arm to grab on to and carry around. i used koigu kppm for this one, and used almost all of the skein.

have i mentioned i love koigu?

these were the secret squirrel projects i mentioned in this post.

a few days ago, i visited cassy to knit and chat, just generally have some girl time. i also got to meet little zooey, and she is just as precious as all the pictures i've seen. i hope the little monster likes these little monsters :)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

my whimsical notions: distractions

this week, i've decided to do a series of posts on some of my favorite things: materials, techniques, tricks, and a few other things! this is basically a place for me to write about things i haven't found a place for.

 like most people, i prefer to do other things while i knit. here are just a few:

Doctor Who: while my honey was gone, i had a few days of marathoning doctor who, from the 10th doctor, all the films, and up through the 11th doctor (thank you, netflix!)! i've entered a new fandom! and found a bunch of whovian patterns i can't wait to make up! and these gorgeous colorways from nerd girl yarns aren't helping! this show is brilliant, hilarious, witty, poignant, and really appeals to my love of history, time-travel, and sci-fi!

Cartoons: when i'm working on crochet, or a difficult lace pattern, i don't want to sit in silence, but i want some noise. i usually put on one of these cartoons that i know all the plots and lines to fill the void. archer, south park, futurama, simpsons, all are good!

newsroom: a fantastic, witty new show by aaron sorkin. i wish the news was really like this! the characters act like real people, not one of them is one-dimensional

via imdb
sherlock: this show from the bbc is amazing. i cannot recommend it enough! it's a modern take on sherlock holmes, where holmes works as a consulting detective and messes around in the basement of the hospital, and john watson is a veteran of the most recent afghanistan war. it combines some of the classic stories, lifting whole lines, and putting it in the 21st century. just 3 episodes per season, but they're over 80 minutes long, and benedict cumberbatch is brilliant as sherlock!

a year ago, i taught myself to read and knit at the same time. mostly it's simple knits, seed-stitch, garter, easy things, mindless knits. recently, i've been really into:
  • game of thrones by george r. r. martin: sci-fi/fantasy, of an alternate universe medieval england. a bit along the lines of j.r.r. tolkein in terms of length and descriptive mastery. i'm totally hooked! (i like the show a lot too, but got frustrated with season 2 as it strayed so much from the books! season 1 was perfect because it stayed with the book i already knew and loved!)
  • lauren willig's pink carnation series: historical fiction spy-novels set during the french revolution with (mostly) strong female protagonists. it also bounces to the present to follow the research one woman conducts, and the trouble she finds herself in while attempting to revel the identity of the pink carnation. pretty fluffy, but addictive!
  • the night circus by erin morgenstern: magicians! love! magic! circuses! it's so hard to describe, but so so good! i almost read this book again immediately after i finished it!
it's easiest to read and knit when i download books on my kindle, so i don't have to worry about propping the book up, weighing it down, or physically turning the page. plus, i think i read faster on the kindle.

the bugle: john oliver and andy zaltzman are brilliant. think the daily show, but make it british, and weekly. they are hilarious, and frequently make me laugh out loud. keep an eye out for the American, and references to jet skis.

stuff you missed in history class: this podcast from is always informative, even if i consider myself fairly well versed in the subject. the narrators are engaging and knowledgable, and usually have good book recommendations too, to follow up on their subject.

i don't follow any knitting podcasts, does anyone have any favorites they could recommend?

i tend to go back to the same movies a lot, star wars, the princess bride, but having some new movie recommendations would be awesome too!

**i have not received money, sponsorship, yarn, or candy from any of these people/companies for featuring their products/techniques. this is my tribute to my favorite things, and is entirely my own opinion, communicated under no duress at my own volition.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

my whimsical notions: tricks and techniques

this week, i've decided to do a series of posts on some of my favorite things: materials, techniques, tricks, and a few other things! this is basically a place for me to write about things i haven't found a place for.

long tail cast on: i start almost all of my knitting projects with the long tail cast on. it's a wonderfully stretchy way to begin a project, especially good for sleeve cuffs and hat brims. with practice, it gets easier to anticipate just how much tail you need for the cast on. i can get kinda obsessive and will take out a cast on if i have too much tail left. i also think it's one of the easiest cast-ons to teach beginners. here's a great video.

russian join: joining yarn can be one of the most difficult and frustrating things for knitters. i don't like having a bunch of ends to weave in, so if i've reached the end of one ball, and have to join another ball of the same color, i use the russian join. it's neat and simple, and i've never had a problem with it coming undone, or being obvious after some light blocking. i like to use two blunted needles at the same time, so i make sure that i have it all woven correctly. then it's fun to pull both needles apart at the same time. here's a good picture tutorial from knitpicks.

twisted rib: i really love this type of ribbing, how the knits pop out just by knitting them through the back of the loop. it's so simple, yet the textural aesthetic really appeals to me. this hat i designed uses this stitch exclusively.

elizabeth zimmerman's fake seam: this technique is really handy to give a piece without shaping (like a sweater body knit in the round), an illusion of separate pieces and fitting. it's just what it sounds like. i've also used this technique a lot when my pieces have suffered from really bad laddering, and it clears things right up. all you have to do is drop a stitch to right before the cast on, and then crochet it back up, picking up one thread, then two threads, and repeating back to the top. purlbee has a great tutorial here.

toe-up, two-at-a-time socks, magic-loop, with a slip-stitch heel: that's a lot of hyphenation! this is my favorite method of making socks because 1) i can try them on as i go (or have the recipient try them on while they're still on the needles), and easily customize them, 2) both socks are done at once! no second sock syndrome! i think they go faster than single socks, but others will argue it takes the same amount of time. 3) the heel is really strong and won't wear out with regular use, and 4) you can use ever last bit of your skein of yarn, knitting them as far up your legs as you want to, and 5) you only need one needle, no need for annoying double points and the possibility of losing one. i've used this method for eight pairs of socks! and there are hundreds of tutorials out there. knitpicks has a good free pattern, and melissa morgan-oakes has a whole book of how to make socks this way.

jeny's surprisingly stretchy bind off: for a sock bind-off, i use this tutorial from it is indeed surprisingly stretchy, making it perfect for sock cuffs! i always have to look it up again for the visual of how to yarn-over in the wrong direction.

fair-isle: one of my favorite, favorite, favorite things to knit! i'd love to do an entire sweater fair-isle! i've done about half a dozen fair-isle/colorwork projects (tradtional fair-isle only uses 2 colors in a row). remember the moulin rouge mitts? mittens and other small projects are great for fair-isle (though i've yet to try socks), because they don't take up a whole lot of yarn, and it looks fantastic! just remember to keep loose, or go up a needle size so that it doesn't get too tight (like my flora hat, which doesn't even fit on my head now (i think my problem there was that i was too worried about running out of yarn)).

**i have not received money, sponsorship, yarn, or candy from any of these people/companies for featuring their products/techniques. this is my tribute to my favorite things, and is entirely my own opinion, communicated under no duress at my own volition.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

my whimsical notions: tools of the trade

this week, i've decided to do a series of posts on some of my favorite things: materials, techniques, tricks, and a few other things! this is basically a place for me to write about things i haven't found a place for. is one of those sites i found when i was just starting out again, and i go back to frequently when i encounter an abbreviation i don't know, or can't remember the difference between a M1L and a M1R (despite the number of times i've used these increases, this happens a lot). they've got a great setup, with clear, concise videos that walk you through it every step of the way. is one of the greatest resources for knitters and crocheters of all skill levels. at it's heart, it's a huge database of patterns and yarns from all over the world. it's also so much more than that: you can add patterns, yarns, and designers to your favorites, make a queue, keep track of your needles and hooks, follow your friends to see their favorites and projects, and post photos and details of your own finished objects! what's truly great about ravelry is that it's free to be a member!

image from
my favorite knitting needles are addi turbo circulars. especially the ones with the blue plastic wire connecting them. if i could start over buying needles again, i'd just buy 24 and 40" lengths in every size. 24"s for sweater bodies and scarves, and 40"s for sleeves, socks, and hats magic loop'd! now that i've been seriously knitting for a few years, i really know what i like, what feels good in my hand when paired with yarns of all fibers. i avoid double-pointed needles like the plague, and it's just uncomfortable for me to work with wooden, straight needles. also, the addi's have a lifetime guarantee on them!

in my notions bag, i always carry 3 important things. things that i probably wouldn't be able to find on the fly if i left them at home.
  • locking stitch markers: these little guys are especially awesome for marking a specific stitch (and maybe to avoid laddering? i'm still testing this hypothesis)

  • a tape measure with inches and centimeters: sometimes conversions get muddled, so it's best to know where your pattern comes from in order to read the most accurate measurements. if you're working on a smallish project, a dollar bill will do in a pinch, as they're 6" long (however this falls apart if you're project is bigger or smaller than 6". and if you don't carry cash...)
  • a blunt, bent finishing needle: exactly what you need for russian-joining, weaving in ends, and many other things! i like the bent-tip, because it's easier to grab stitches when weaving in.

my favorite project bag is my bluesky pretty cheep bag. not only does it have an adorable little bird on it, it's got a draw-string closure, and is the perfect size for socks and other projects to throw into your purse or backpack!

**i have not received money, sponsorship, yarn, or candy from any of these people/companies for featuring their products/techniques. this is my tribute to my favorite things, and is entirely my own opinion, communicated under no duress at my own volition.

Monday, August 6, 2012

my whimsical notions: materials

 this week, i've decided to do a series of posts on some of my favorite things: materials, techniques, tricks, and a few other things! this is basically a place for me to write about things i haven't found a place for.

wool: before i started knitting, i hated buying wool garments from shops in the mall. they were always itchy and awful. the real blame rests on the commercial manufacturers (and on the consumer too...), and the desire for cheap supplies that makes such a sub-par product. buying wool yarn, though, is like a miracle in it's softness, spring, and versatility. wool is perfect for sweaters, socks, gloves, hats, scarves, literally anything i can think of. if you think wool is itchy and awful, i'd love to give you a skein of merino to cuddle for a little while.

linen: linen is great for summer garments, market bags, anything you want to be sturdy and light! and with most linens, it gets softer with washing!

hand-dyed/painted: hand-dyeds/painteds look best when knit in garter or seed stitch, anything to give it a little texture and really make the color pop! if your hand-dyed is lightly variegated, it'll work well with a more complicated stitch pattern. what you don't want to do is mix a super variegated yarn with a complicated stitch pattern, or all your hard stitching won't be shown off.

koigu kppm: did you ever play that game as a kid, or for an ice-breaker, that goes: if you were trapped on a deserted island, what 1 book/movie/video game/candy would you choose to be stuck there with? well, koigu is my 'deserted island' yarn. i've used it for a few pairs of socks, a scarf, and most recently, an entire sweater! koigu painter's palette merino is 100% merino wool (read: extra soft!), with a tight twist that makes it super springy, and some of the most gorgeous colors. it works as a fingering or a sport. i think it'd be impossible to find something that wouldn't work for this yarn!

spud & chloe sock: this silk and wool fingering blend is great for socks, because it's got the springiness of wool and the silk holds it all together and gives it some support. i've also used it for fingerless gloves to great success! and the colorways are so vibrant!!

donegal tweed: a great all-around worsted weight wool, i've especially enjoyed it for hats, and for needle felting. kind of rough-spun, 1ply, with lovely complimentary tweeds! i'd really like to make a cowl, or use this yarn for fair-isle.

colinette jitterbug: i've only used this yarn twice-ish but i am in love! another great hand-painted fingering weight, with enough yarn for a pair of socks in one skein! i can't wait to use it for more pieces!

color and fiber content are always vying for supremacy in my knitting, and it usually has to be a case-by-case decision if i'll settle for a color for a better fiber content for the piece, or choose better colors.

**i have not received money, sponsorship, yarn, or candy from any of these people/companies for featuring their products/techniques. this is my tribute to my favorite things, and is entirely my own opinion, communicated under no duress at my own volition.