Friday, November 20, 2015


Sorry for the long delay in posts...I've been dealing with some medical issues lately and am finally (FINALLY!) getting back to normal.

How about a look at some hats :)  I had a flurry of hat making at one point in the late summer/early fall and banged out 3 beauties. I did all three as test knits through Ravelry and all came out lovely.

Hat #1: Oak Hat 
This hat is a slouchy beanie with oak leaves and an acorn and knitted up quite fast using a worsted weight yarn and 5.0 mm (US8) needles.

The leaf tips are a little fiddly but it all turned out in the end.  I used Cascade 220, my first time working with this yarn, and it was beautiful to work with.  I foresee many knitted things in the future from this yarn.

The pattern can be purchased on Ravelry and is called Deciduous Hat.

Hat #2: Cresmont Hat
While the Oak hat was for me, my other half also has need of a warm head this winter so I decided to make my second hat in a more manly size.  It looks much more complicated than it actually is and the pattern is well written with very clear and precise instructions.

It uses small cables and twists to create the effect which makes the hat beautifully squishy and warm. And it fits too!

I may need to make this hat again in the smaller size (it has multiple sizes in the pattern) and maybe in more of a blue tone so I can have one too.

I used Patons North America Classic Wool Worsted yarn in colour Mercury

The pattern can be purchased on Ravelry and is called Cresmont Hat.

Hat #3: Crunchy Leaves
With quite a bit of leftover wool from the Cresmont and some of the same yarn in a pink, I decided to do some mosaic knitting and chose this lovely hat which uses a houndstooth pattern.

There is no stranding, you only knit with one colour at a time; slipped stitches create the pattern. This was a really fun pattern to knit but be warned, it takes longer than a traditional hat because of all the slipping.  Not exceptionally longer but it was slower going than usual for me.
I love how the patterning came out though.  I shortened the hat from the pattern because I did not want a slouchy look but a more fitted style.

The pattern can be purchased on Ravelry and is called Crunchy Leaves.

Whoop Whoop for warm heads this winter :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Visual Guide to WPI

I recently discovered this item while reading a Knitty blog post:

It's basically a quick visual reference to check yarn WPI while spinning to ensure your getting the weight you want.  However, I noticed a lot of comments here and there that its a good quick check when determining yarn weight of an unknown yarn rather than actually wrapping and counting. Since I thrift a lot of yarn and a lot of it has no label, this would speed up my identification process. 

As a cheap, quick visual reference card, I just wanted a printable version.  I found one (that's it...only one) that I could print but try as I might, I could not get it to scale.   I then decided to make one myself using Excel, and it turned out great.  I printed it at actual size and it matches up perfectly to sizing.  I added a few things for easy reference based on Ravelry's Standard Weights  and voila...a super handy reference which can be printed and laminated.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Yarn Thrifting: Part 1 - Buying and Prepping

Previously I talked about my second hand yarn obsession and how I prefer to wash my yarn before using.  If your interested, here's the details on that process from bargain bin to finished object.

First, the primary reason I wash thrifted yarn is I don't know where it came from.  Sometimes there is a smoky smell, or a musty smell and those items are first in the wash bin.  There's also a very distinct "thrift store item" smell which seems to permeate everything, be it yarn or clothing or furniture. Maybe they use a deodorizer for items before it goes to the floor...who knows?

At my local Value Village, they store the yarn and miscellaneous bits and bobs for crafting in a bin with half open packages of incontinence products.  True story.  Maybe they think the two go hand in hand?  Old ladies need incontinence products and yarn...why not put them together?  Hilarious.

Here's the bin:

I sort through the random skeins and bags, pick out the ones I think I'd use, usually in a multiple of 6 if I can (there are a LOT of novelty yarns which I don't tend to go for), then head to the counter. Once home, I take everything out and give it a good once over.  I check for obvious stains or defects (I once found a skein that had been sliced by something through the label and a good inch in, the yarn was in short strings...I salvaged about a half skein), then I photograph each skein with its intact label (if it has one) so I can identify it after washing.  If it has no label, no photo until after washing.

A typical haul looks like this:

Next, I get out my beautiful swift and start turning each skein into a hank.  Please note my lovely assistant in the background who much prefers playing fetch over playing with yarn.

Once everything has been turned into a hank, it's ready for the wash basin.

Stay tuned for Part 2 - Washing Process.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Web Stumblings - Knitulator

Behold!  The Knitulator!

This handy little tool (brought to us by the uber helpful blog Eskimimi Makes) helps calculate where to place increases and decreases so its evenly spaced.  For example, you select whether you want to increase or decrease, then enter your current total stitch count (i.e. 20), then your total required increases  (i.e. 10).  The calculator then returns this:

Isn't that awesome?  I can see this being very useful in future projects.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Web Stumblings -

As a thrifter and "random yarn" buyer, I rarely have the yarn suggested in a pattern. Often, the suggested yarn is something a bit beyond my payscale or specific to the designers region (i.e. a common UK yarn may not be a common Canada yarn), or I may just not want to spend any more cash on yarn when I already have a room full.  I have searched for advice online for substituting yarn (this blogpost from Tumped Duck was very handy) but there are not a lot of resources that I found which actually show you how yarns compare.  Ravelry has its database of yarn in which you can manually search for a yarn with similar parameters.  You select the parameters, search through each yarn and compare. This is very useful but can be time consuming.

Then I found this site:

Basically, you plug in your yarn name, and they generate a list of yarns which are comparable based on yarn weight or category, texture, fiber content, recommended needle size, gauge, ball weight, yardage/meterage, and care instructions.  Crazy right?

Check this out.  I entered Loops & Threads Charisma.


Is that not awesome?  This is just a sample; there were 22 on the list, each with a description of how it matched.  You can search for comparable yarns that have certain parameters, such as an acrylic free version of Charisma.  For more how-to on that process, see this article.  Try it out; you won't be sorry.

Happy subbing :)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Summer Knitting

Being a newcomer to knitting, I was unaware that summer knitting is viewed by many as an odd thing to do.  Who knew?  Numerous times in the past month or so I've heard the phrase "Shouldn't you wait until its colder to do that?" or "Knitting is for the winter" or "Why are you doing that now?". I'm not sure where people think knit items come from when it get colder, but apparently they magically get knit on the first day of winter for immediate use...

I have noticed that I'm less inclined to knit heavy items (sorry, not sorry Brighton Cowl...we'll have a reunion in October, I promise) and am leaning more towards socks and lightweight pieces.

I'm currently working on a sock test knit.  It's an ankle sock with a really clever pattern on the top which using decreases followed by increases every few rows to create ridges on the top of the sock. This is my first non-vanilla sock pattern and I love it so far.  Here's a sneak peek (from when I was knitting in the Halifax Public Gardens yesterday).

You can see the texture lines to the right of my stitch marker.  

The yarn is Red Heart Heart & Sole in Green Envy.  Its especially fitting for summer knitting with its bright greens, oranges and yellows.  I'll link to the pattern once it goes live You can find the pattern here for purchase :)

Here's to summer knitting!  Cheers!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Fingerless Mittens

I'm always of two minds when I look at a fingerless mitten pattern.  They are one of those items that are fun to knit, gratifying in that they don't take long, but I never quite know when I'll wear them.  I live in Canada so if it's cold enough for gloves, you need your fingers covered too.  Wearing them in the house is an option but I find knitting awkward while wearing anything on my hands and I just feel silly wearing them while watching TV...what's a girl to do.  Well, they do make quick and easy gifts.

One of my very first projects after a garter scarf was a pair of fingerless mittens.  They were knit flat and seamed on the side, leaving an opening for the thumb.

I loved them.  I had made them all by myself and they actually fit AND they looked good...I was very proud.  That being said, I never really wore them that much.  They were a cheap scratchy acrylic with no give so they weren't ideal.  Looking at the pattern projects on Ravelry now, the pattern looks so much nicer in a lighter, softer, yarn.  Maybe I'll revisit this pattern in the future with a nicer yarn.


I decided to make a "finer" pair of fingerless mittens.  I saw this pattern from Courtney Spainhower on Very Pink Knits and decided I'd give it a shot.  VeryPink also has a great YouTube video that covers the pattern.

These turned out great.  They're well fitted, colourful, and comfy.  I haven't quite decided if I'll keep or gift but either way, I'm happy with how they turned out.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Recent FOs

I am bringing my WIPs total down!

I finished my Strong Heel Socks on July 31st :)

And they were Titan approved!

I also finished the test knit I started after the socks.  Behold the Razzle Dazzle Cowl!

There were two option: a long infinity scarf or a short cowl.  Based on my yarn amounts, I opted for the short and snuggly cowl.  I definitely made the right choice; I think I'll keep this one for myself!

I'll add a link for the pattern once it goes live for purchase.  

Many thanks to Stana (Fifinka on Ravelry) of Stana's Critters Etc. for inviting me to test knit.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Tools of the Trade for Yarn Thrifting

I'm very lucky in that I have a dedicated room for my hobbies.  This room has a designated knitting corner which is slowly spreading across the room (This pic was taken a few months back...things have "expanded" since then).

With my penchant for thrifting yarn, a swift and winder are very, very useful.  The winder I had no trouble finding and purchasing.  The one pictured above I got on Amazon for $25.  It's a bare basics hand crank model which works great.  The swift was made by my husband.  It was the temporary model while he worked out the plans for a more permanent version:

Isn't it lovely?  Don't ask me about the mechanics...all I know is it works great and is smooth and sturdy.  I use this swift when I'm making hanks from thrifted yarn; its sturdy construction allows me to quickly dismantle a ball of yarn into a hank I can then wash and dry, like these lovely darlings:

 When the hanks are dry, I either leave them as is but twisted (like this).

Or I wind them using the ball winder.  Unfortunately, because the wooden swift from the hubby is not adjustable, and sometimes the hanks shrink after washing, I bought a cheap plastic umbrella swift to make life easier.  It also works for yarn I buy new as hanks like the Cascade Heritage pictured above.

This thing works but I'm not sure how well it will hold up.  It feels rather flimsy compared to the wooden version but it is easily adjustable so it makes winding from a hank easy.  I did try making hanks using this swift and it sucks.  Its ok for lightweight yarn but anything heavier than DK and this baby is bouncing around like crazy.  It is adjustable from horizontal to vertical which is nice but I still prefer the wooden version for making hanks.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Adventures in Sock Making - The Well-Heeled Edition

So far in my knitting adventure I have only knit socks cuff down.  Some day I may try toe-up, but for now, I'm happy as a cuff down knitter.  I have been testing out different heels though.  So far I have tried a standard heel flap and gusset using Susan B. Anderson's tutorial, an afterthought heel (with modifications), and am almost finished a pair with a strong heel.  

My very first socks were large, worsted weight and knit based on this awesome tutorial from Staci Perry (she has, by far, some of THE best tutorial videos).  This was my first introduction to the heel flap and gusset.

For my next two pairs, I went to smaller needles and sock weight yarn but stuck with the heel flap and gusset using Susan B. Anderson's tutorial for stitch counts.

Wanting to change it up a bit, I then tried an afterthought heel.  I researched it a bit and found this fantastic post which provided excellent guidance and instructions on adding lifelines to make adding the heel easier.  The heel didn't look as nice as the standard heel flap and gusset so I'm not completely sold on this one just yet.

I also misjudged the sizing and these socks were quite large...they fit my husbands size 10 rather than my size 8.  If I use this heel in the future I'll have to adjust my "sock before adding the heel" length.

My current in-progress sock has an intriguing "strong" heel.  This heel doesn't require picking up stitches and reminds me a lot of the thumb gusset in mittens.  The heel is increased forming a gusset, then you turn the heel and rejoin, continuing on in the round.  It is the most convenient of heels so far.

As I enjoy knitting mittens, the paired increases were familiar too.  The only thing I don't like is the tiny hole when you begin working in the round after the heel turn.  It's small, but annoying (you can see it in the picture below in the skinny brown coloured row that comes across the heel).  I did try picking up the stitch between but its not ideal.  I'll have to work on that.

I might take a small sock making break when this pair is finished but I think the strong heel may be my go to from now on.  I may experiment with adding slipped stitches in the heel gusset (similar to a heel flap) to strengthen it...I'll keep you posted :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

WIP Anxiety

I am discovering that multi-tasking knitting projects is not my thing.

Up until about a month or so ago, I sailed along completing one project before starting another. Then, halfway through a sock project, I started a second so I could "mix -it-up".  Then I started a MKAL, and another, and suddenly I had 5 projects underway.  There were 2 pairs of socks, a pair of fingerless mittens, a softie, and a cowl.  I was stressing over neglecting one while working on another, and trying to budget time for them much for my relaxing hobby.

So, I prioritized.  One pair of socks and the fingerless mittens were MKALs and I really wasn't enjoying them so I frogged both.  The designs were more complicated and labour intensive than I wanted and I knew I would probably never wear either.  I was also HATING the yarn I used for the socks....TANGENT TIME!!

Loops and Threads Pizzazz (Rav link) is not a pleasant yarn to work with.  I tried...I really did.  
The yarn is very scratchy and the metallic thread is really rough.  I have other metallic yarns which are similar sock weight make with wool and nylon (such as Red Heart Stardust) which are not scratchy at all.  Even the pure acrylics with metallic are softer and nicer to work with (i.e. Red Heart Holiday).  
I attempted the MKAL for Bovary:
I then tried the Baktus scarf (it was horrible, I didn't even take a picture).  I've since re-started this pattern for the third time (this time I'm using Paton's Blue Ragg) so you'll see that on here in the future I'm sure.
This yarn was not for me and will probably stay at the bottom of my stash until I give it away.
Ok, back to the projects.  I was now down to a pair of socks,  a cowl, and a softie.  I finished the MKAL Softie, Cecile. She turned out lovely.  I was quite proud of my first knit toy.

I still have the socks (just half a foot and the toe to go!), the cowl (which I haven't touched in 2 weeks), and restarted the Karius verision of Baktus (Karius is stockinette, Baktus is garter).  I also have some recycled yarn drying from a recent Value Village haul to start a test knit for an infinity scarf.

The plan: I will have the socks done before the end of the month...or die trying.  Then its the infinity scarf, then the Baktus, and then the other cowl.  Hopefully.  Wish me luck.

Monday, July 20, 2015


A few months back I completed the Hitchhiker scarf by Martina Behm, becoming 1 of over 20,000 knitters to start this project according to Ravelry.  It was a great knit.  It's one of those scarves that immediately jazzes up an outfit without being fussy.  Here's my version knit in Special Merino Lace from (an awesome place to shop for yarn BTW).  The yarn was being discontinued so a grabbed 4 skeins (2 in a mottled purpley colour and 2 in green) at a steal of a price.  Its 100% Merino and beautifully soft and squishy.

I learned several things from this scarf.

First, this yarn is a dream to knit with.  Its soft, not splitty, and glides across the needles.  Its a shame its been discontinued.  I foresee more Merino purchases in my future.

Second, if you want the same size as the pattern, you need to swatch and match gauge.  I didn't swatch so my scarf was a bit smaller than I would have liked and the fabric a teensy bit on the dense side.  Blocking stretched things out a bit but bigger would have been nicer.

Third, and most humbling of all, sometimes math and logic will fail you if you don't look at the big picture.  I was happily knitting away and realized my scarf was coming out small so I checked the gauge and then the finished measurements and did some math.  Based on my math, things didn't add up.  I huffily kept knitting, thinking I was mislead about the size.  Then, I stretched my knitting and realized I was an idiot...the scarf stretches on a diagonal because of the construction.  I contritely continued knitting and apologized (in my head) to Martina Behm for doubting her.