Ideas and Inspiration, Uncategorized

Spats!

Spick and Spats by Madelaine Pippa Bartlett
Spick and Spats by Madelaine Pippa Bartlett

During the cold months (which is most of the year where I live) my wardrobe is entirely based around leggings with pencil skirts. I own about a dozen pairs of leggings (mostly black) and about a dozen different pencil skirts and mini-skirts (many of which I made myself), so it is very easy to toss together an outfit. Just add a neutral sweater and bam! Fancy outfit!

Grey- grey legwarmers by Katya Gorbacheva
Grey- grey legwarmers by Katya Gorbacheva

My extreme laziness loves it. Maybe some would argue that because I am overweight I shouldn’t be wearing pencil skirts, but they’d be wrong. I look fabulous. And more to the point, I feel fabulous in them. And I apparently have a reputation at work for looking spiffy and well put together, so I must be doing something right.

My problem comes with the shoes.

I don’t own a huge number of shoes that work with leggings. Ankle booties are the style I favour with my leggings and I own 2 pairs, but I get tired of wearing the same two pairs of booties all fall, winter, and spring. It gets boring. And, in all honesty, none of them are quite high enough or warm enough for the crazy snow that we get. It hasn’t been a huge deal because the walk from my car into my office is about 9 feet, but my office is moving and our parking is no longer going to be 9 feet away, it is going to be almost two blocks away. Suddenly my less-than-toasty leggings and booties are more of a problem.

So guess what I’m knitting!

SPATS!

No, seriously, just go with me on this for a minute. This is a brilliant idea.

  • Quick knitting project, so I can fairly easy get a few pairs in different colours/designs hammered out.
  • Spats will allow me to change up the look of my shoes/outfit with very little effort.
  • I can make them with a foldable cuff. On super cold days I can extend the cuff to create a sort of leg warmer.
  • Warm feet!
  • Keeps up with my whole retro look (…though I will admit the era of spats isn’t in alignment with my retro 50’s look I’m rocking these days)

I’ve already started a pair. Just a super basic 2×2 rib in black Redheart Super Saver I had kicking around. Mostly just a proof of concept, but honestly I can’t see why I wouldn’t love some spats. If these work out (and I can’t see why they wouldn’t) I will start experimenting with different design elements like ruffles, lace, buttons, cables, etc. as well as bright colours.

General, Ideas and Inspiration, Real Life, Uncategorized

Back in the saddle

20160630_131115 we’ve been in our new house for a month now and holy hell, is it ever wonderful. Best part is that the house is basically unpacked a d sorted out now, including……. MY SANCTUARY! (aka. My office aka. My knitting room)

20160605_142607You know I wasn’t sure if this room would be as good as I hoped it would be. I tend to Clark Griswold things, invest a lot of energy and emotion on certain things working out a certain way, building things up in my head, and inevitably sometimes they don’t quite live up to what I imagined. This room though has actually surpassed my expectations!

It features :

  • A super comfy day bed positively covered in pillows, quilts, a sheepskin, and other soft squishy comfortable things. (cheaper and waaaaay better than a couch)
  • A big over sized desk (given to me by my aunt and uncle who didn’t want it anymore) for me to use when I work from home
  • A smart TV that also serves as a second monitor for me when I work from home
  • A knitting closet for storing all my knitting supplies/stash
  • A DOOR so I can close myself off and have some quiet Lesley time when I need it

It is, as you can imagine, magnificent. It works in every way. It is a great home office for me. It is a great private space for me. And it is a great knitting room for me.

20160605_142513
This is before I got my desk fromy aunt and uncle, but you get the idea.

 

So now that things are sorted I have finally been getting back to knitting. Currently I’m working on my sock yarn blanket and holy hell, does it ever feel great to get back into knitting. The relaxation and meditative nature of knitting for me was sorely missed. I haven’t counted the new of blocks I’m at, my plan is to counter once I’m at the end of a row again.

 

In other news, my need for winter gear is getting jacked up. My office is moving and the parking is going to be about 2 blocks walk away so I am really going to need warm snow gear this year. Since I primarily wear pencil skirts with leggings I  definitely going to want leg warmers or something like that. I have some ideas involving multiple sock yarns. We shall see.

 

General, Ideas and Inspiration, Real Life, Uncategorized, Yarn

An unemployed Lady Eleanor

Today is my last day at my current job. Been here for eight years, and have been working for the government for almost ten years (!!!) and today is my last day. I start a new job September 8th, so I have 10 days to be “unemployed”. THRILLING! Ten whole days off! Yahoo!!!!

Err, I actually have no idea what the hell I am going to do with myself for the next week. I have some things planned, like a beach day with my best friend who is taking a day off just for me, and I want to finalize my pattern write up for my Tri-Blend cowl, but for the most part I’m looking at a week of… I don’t know what. Its sort of pathetic, I know. Everyone (myself included) always wishes they had more time off, and now I have it and I’m panicking. (It is sort of like my experience with the furby.) The yesterday was my going away lunch here at work, and they presented me with a giftcard for Yarns On York (my LYS) and I got an idea…

Wouldn’t it be nice to use that yarn gift card on some yarn for an “unemployment project”?

Lady Eleanor Entrelac Stole
© lunchables

So that’s the new plan – to start a new project using yarn purchased with my parting gift, and then see how much I can get done during my 10 day stint between jobs, and the pattern I am looking at is the Lady Eleanor Entrelac Stole. After making my entrelac hat and seeing how easy entrelac is and loving the end result, I’m definitely ready to do another, larger entrelac project. This stole is gorgeous and looks really impressive. It looks like one of those “seems a lot harder than it actually was” projects, which are always fun. Sort of like the old Rice Crispy Treats commercial. (Remember that commercial? For whatever reason that commercial is burned in my brain for all time.)

Anyway, the stole. Yeah, I really like it, and a big part of that is because of the colour blocks that happen. I looked at the projects for that pattern and it would appear that a LOT of people used Noro Silk Garden yarn.

This is a problem because Noro, to me, feels yucky. I’ve never knit with it, and I am fully prepared to admit that it may very well be fantastic and wonderful. The fact that so many people use and love Noro should lead me to believe that it is probably nice, but man… it feels yucky. Coarse or something. Every time I go to a yarn shop I look at Noro and wonder if maybe I should give it a shot because, man, I love those colours, but then I pick up a ball and have a “Eeeuuugh!” reaction and put it back.

I asked on Ravelry what the deal was with so many people making this project with Noro Yarn and the consensus seems to be that the colours of the Noro yarns work really well with this pattern, and that Noro yarn knits up a lot more nicely than it feels in the balls. Apparently it knits up quite nicely and it apparently gets softer and nicer with repeated washings. I am fairly trusting in the advice of people on Ravelry, but this is a big project, and I would need 10 skeins of the stuff…. Big investment.

So what’s a girl to do?

Honestly, I think I’m going to bit the bullet and just get the 10 skeins of Noro Silk Garden and hope it ends up okay. I like the project enough to risk it. I mean, seriously, look at that picture! How gorgeous is that!! And maybe the yarn leap of faith is fitting since I am making it to mark my career change leap of faith. 🙂

 

If anyone has any experience with Noro yarns go ahead and tell me what you think in the comments!

2015 projects, General, Ideas and Inspiration, projects, Uncategorized

Learning a new technique is so gratifying!

Today I decided to cast on using the yarn I purchased at Belfast Mini-Mills. I love the yarn, love the colours, but it was looking pretty insane all on its own. I am all for crazy fun colours, but this was just too much, even for me. I dug through my stash and found some leftover dark grey wool from the striped hat I made for Ryan this past spring and figured it would work to tone down the rainbow. But how? Stripes? Checker board? Some other sort of colourwork?

 

What about entrelac?

 

I hadn’t even attempted it before, it looks so beautiful and complicated but also super intimidating. Whatever..no time like the present. And of course I am insane and decided to plough ahead without a pattern. Nothing says “likely to succeed at new technique” like winging it… 

Entrelac As it turns out it is actually TOTALLY turning out! And entrelac is way easier than I expected! I am absolutely loving how this is knitting up, the grey has done exactly what I hoped it would. The rainbow now pops without being crazy in your face insane looking. I love how each block of the rainbow looks sort of like it’s own perfect little miniature rainbow. Man, I just love this.

 

Hurray for learning new techniques!

Ideas and Inspiration, Reference, Roundup, Uncategorized

Week of Discussion: Day Five – Techniques (one of the main Ravelry Boards)

This week I am featuring the best of the Ravelry discussion boards. Each day I highlight a particular group, forum, or topic that I personally find either interesting, informative, inspiring, or just plain cool! Be sure to log in to your Ravelry account to be able to view boards/threads! (It is free to sign up and well worth it if you ask me!)

Day One: Gorgeous Gradients

Day Two: Yarn (one of the main Ravelry forums)

Day Three: Lovin’ the Freebies!

Day Four: Selfish Knitters & Crocheters


Day Five – Techniques (one of the main Ravelry boards)

I learned about the "Bubble Wrap" stitch from a random post on the Techniques board!
I learned about the “Bubble Wrap” stitch from a random post on the Techniques board!

I saved this board for last because, for me, this board is pretty spectacularly useful. If you follow only one board on Ravelry, this should be it. I have learned more about knitting from this one discussion board than anything else on the internet. There are a couple specific threads that are particularly treasure trove-y in terms of valuable tips and information, but the real value in this discussion board is due to the fact that there are questions of all sorts constantly being asked (and answered). Everything from “How should I block this awkwardly shaped item?” to “Something messed up, can you help me figure out where I went wrong?” to “Can you identify this stitch pattern?”. Perhaps a weird way of putting it, but I have learned a tremendous amount from everyone else’s questions, concerns, mistakes, and problems. I read pretty much every thread in that board, even if the question being posed isn’t at all related to the type of knitting I do, because I think the more I know, the more ways of solving all types of problems I’m aware of, the better knitter I will be. (It bares saying that, like the Yarn forum, this is one of the main Ravelry boards and is therefore pretty closely moderated. To me this is good because it keeps the posts on-topic and not filled with unhelpful, uninformative chatter, resulting in a concentrated board of informative awesomeness.)

The piece de resistance is the Personal Tips and Resources thread. It isn’t a place to ask questions, but rather to post about the tips, shortcuts, tools, and solutions you came across (or invented) that you personally find helpful, and maybe it will help someone else. As I make this post there is over 5,700 posts in that thread, and I have read every single one of them. It took me a long time (obviously) but I did, and holy hannah have I taken a lot away from it. I love that sometimes someone will post their tip and other people will come in and confirm it, or (more interestingly) disagree and then explain why that doesn’t work for them.


 

There are tons of other discussion boards and groups on Ravelry, covering every topic and interest, so definitely browse around. I guarantee you’ll find at least a few that suit you! I have a number of honourable mention groups that I could have posted about (like the Fans of Wolle’s Color Changing Cotton group and the Harry Potter Lovers group) so maybe someday I’ll revisit this, but really the point I wanted to make is that the Ravelry discussion boards are hugely powerful, valuable, and worthwhile, and I encourage everyone to participate. 🙂

 

There ends the week of discussion. It was fun doing this theme week of sorts, but I look forward to getting back to normal posts next week.

Ideas and Inspiration, Roundup, Uncategorized

Week Of Discussion: Day Three – Lovin’ the Freebies!

This week I am featuring the best of the Ravelry discussion boards. Each day I highlight a particular group, forum, or topic that I personally find either interesting, informative, inspiring, or just plain cool! Be sure to log in to your Ravelry account to be able to view boards/threads! (It is free to sign up and well worth it if you ask me!)

Day One: Gorgeous Gradients

Day Two: Yarn (one of the main Ravelry forums)


Day Three: Lovin’ the Freebies!

My sock yarn blanket is one of my favourite freebies to date!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against paying for patterns. I will drop a fair amount of money on a pattern if it is truly what I’m looking for, and the patterns I have paid for so far were for the most part not inexpensive but each has been worth it. HOWEVER! I do loves me a free pattern, and this group shares that sentiment. Great resource for finding free patterns, as well as seeing what people have done without a pattern at all (ie. they designed it themselves). The group isn’t about casting a negative light on those designs that DO cost money, but rather highlighting some of the really great patterns that are free. (I personally have created and released some free patterns, in case you’re curious!)

Some particular threads worth checking out:

  • I designed it myself! – It isn’t about free patterns, but rather what people have done without using any sort of a pattern they got from someone/somewhere else. In that sense it is a “freebie”, and I love seeing the types of things people have come up with on their own. It helps to reinforce the feeling that it can be worth trying to design something yourself, that you don’t always have to rely on someone else to design it for you!
  • Forever Free 2015 (along with this previous thread) – The place where people post about new free patterns they have found, as well as a place for designers to advertise their new free pattern.
  • Finished Freebies – If you’ve been paying attention you’ve probably noticed by now that I really like the threads where it is more or less a wall of pictures people have posted of their finished items. This is another one of those, but I personally find it nice knowing that every one of the finished items was a free pattern.
Ideas and Inspiration, Roundup, Uncategorized

Week of Discussion: Day Two – Yarn (one of the main Ravelry forums)

This week I am featuring the best of the Ravelry discussion boards. Each day I highlight a particular group, forum, or topic that I personally find either interesting, informative, inspiring, or just plain cool! Be sure to log in to your Ravelry account to be able to view boards/threads! (It is free to sign up and well worth it if you ask me!)

Day One: Gorgeous Gradients


 

Day Two: Yarn (One of the main Ravelry forums)

Have a question that is even slightly relating to yarn? This is the place to go! The topics in this forum are so all encompasing, going from “What is the best wool/nylon ration for socks?” to “Does anyone know what this yarn is made of?” to “The colours in my fair isle have bled! Help!”. You can get suggestions for what yarn would work best with a particular project you wish to make, the best ways of handling difficult/hard to work with yarns (mohair, I’m looking at you!), or try to find a few balls of your favourite discontinued yarn!

The only caveat to keep in mind is that this IS one of the main Ravelry boards, and therefore is pretty closely moderated. This means that digressions and wanderings way off topic aren’t kosher, but to me this isn’t a bad thing.

BirthdaySprinklesHatSlider
An example of acrylic awesomeness – my birthday sprinkles ski bonnet! And yes, I did post this to that thread. 🙂
  • Best Examples Of Acrylic Awesomeness– It is exactly what you think it is… pages and pages of amazing projects people have made using acrylic yarn! In a hobby that (unfortunately) sometimes suffers from yarn snobbery, this post does a great job of showing that less expensive acrylic yarns can still make amazing things. It is a pretty active thread, and with almost 15,000 posts there is a ton of eye candy to bask in!
  • Blocking – Before and After – Not sure if blocking your finished garment is worth the effort? Think blocking is only necessary for lace? Take a gander at this thread and I’m guessing you’ll soon be convinced that blocking is pretty important and powerful! I have had so many “Holy crap!” reactions to posts in this thread, simply because the difference between an unblocked and blocked project can be so huge! And not just for lacework, either!
  • Non-Dishcloth kitchen cotton masterpieces – Similar to the acrylic thread, this thread will convince you that kitchen cotton is good for a whole lot more than just dishcloths, and (like the acrylic thread) it is a solid reminder that wool isn’t the end all be all fiber.
  • Examples of Pooling – Good and bad– I had no idea what pooling even WAS before stumbling upon this thread, and sweet mercy, it is a crazy crazy time. This thread is sometimes pretty hilarious, but also really mind-boggling, especially when it comes to people making patterns by INTENTIONALLY pooling.
Ideas and Inspiration, Roundup, Uncategorized

Week of Discussion: Day one – Gorgeous Gradients

Ah, Ravelry! Yes, there is a metric ton of patterns (which I spend way too much time browsing), but the discussion boards/groups are really where Ravelry turns it up to eleven. What an incredible resource! I can say with total certainty that I would not be half the knitter I am were it not for all the help and information found on Ravelry, but the boards are so so much more than just knitting help. There is a real feeling of community and “We’re all in this together” on those boards which I just love. And then there is the base level awesomeness of seeing other people’s amazing work.

So today I wanted to highlight some of my favourite groups, discussion boards, and even specific posts that I personally really enjoy, featuring one a day all week long. Obviously it would make sense for you to join Ravelry in order to see and participate in these boards, but the membership is free and I see no idea why you wouldn’t want to!


 

Day One: Gorgeous Gradients

Step 4: Rinse and dry the yarn
My DIY Gradient Yarn

This board is all about colour gradients, both in terms of gradient yarns but also gradient finished objects. It is very much a welcoming group, and a lot (maybe most) members seem to have been directly sought out and recruited by the moderator when they saw that they had a gradient knit! That is how I found this group. Lots of inspiration, ideas, and eye candy. And even pattern suggestions that show off the gradient!

There are some particular threads on that forum that I keep an eye on:

This forum has lots more to offer, and is a great place for anyone in love with gradient knits!

General, Ideas and Inspiration, Uncategorized

Can I use Reverse Psychology to convince myself that I don’t want to start this new shawl immediately?

I’m not usually one for Family Guy references, but this seemed pretty on point for how I feel right now..

I am apparently insane. I currently have three big projects on the go: Fellowship of the Shawl, Sock Yarn Blanket, and Stripes Gone Crazy sweater. They are the three biggest projects I have EVER taken on and not a single one has even made it to the halfway point. Why? Because, like I said, I am buckets of crazy and started THREE HUGE PROJECTS AT THE SAME TIME! I mean, really, what was I thinking!! No sane person would do this.

The fact is that really like all three of these projects, like working on them, like how they’re looking (though I’m still not happy with my shoulder in my sweater…), and am excited to see them all done (if I ever finish them). Having these three big projects on the go and switching between them means that they each are going to take a small age to actually finish since I never really dedicate enough time to one to finish it in a timely fashion. This has always been something I have struggled with, ever since I started knitting.Always lots of projects on the go, all of which I’m excited about, but never quite focused enough to just sit down and FINISH ONE. And despite knowing I have too much on the go already I am always on the lookout for the next project.  Hell, I have this problem with EVERYTHING in my life, not just knitting.

I never lack in enthusiasm, but focus? Yeah, not so mu– Ooo! Shiny dinosaur sticker!!

Yeah, well, this brand of insanity persists because I have already started looking at new shawl patterns I want to make. I keep saying to myself that I won’t start a new shawl until AFTER I am done my Fellowship shawl, but man…. temptation. This is temptation. But for now, lets all assume I have at least a bit of common sense and that this project won’t be started until after I finish what I’m currently working on. (ha…..)

Reverse Psychology - © stormyk9
Reverse Psychology© stormyk9

The pattern I’m lusting over is Reverse Psychology. I think it is a pretty cool pattern and very appealing for a shawl pattern for a number of reasons.

  1. it is reversible. I love that there isn’t a right side or wrong side.
  2. it is more wearable and interesting than your average triangle or half-pi shawl. Asymmetrical = interest!
  3. it can be made with or without beading (something I am sort of interested in trying)
  4. it is pretty simple to make (or so I’m told)
  5. it is specifically made to work using Wolle’s Color Changing Cotton!

Yes, this pattern was made with that specific yarn in mind, made to really work with and accentuate the colour gradient of the yarn. And you can see from the projects people have made using this yarn, the pattern really does work great with the yarn.

As I have posted previously, I really like Wolle’s yarn. I used it in my Mizzle and loved the result. I am currently using it in my Fellowship of the Shawl and am loving the result. The gradients her yarn makes are really striking and beautiful. I get that the yarn isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I frankly really love working with it. And hey, 100% cotton works great if I’m looking to make something for someone with a wool allergy. 🙂

Wolle's Color Changing Cotton 100g - Truffle 2
Wolle’s Color Changing Cotton 100g – Truffle 2

Right now I have a 100g skein of Wolle’s in the Truffle 2 colourway (chocolate brown – camel/tan – turquoise) that is just crying out to be made into something awesome. Unlike my Sand and Snow skeins I don’t have any extra of the end colour, so any project I make with this has to be able to be finished with just the one ball. Reverse Psychology seems like just that pattern!

I really love this colour way, I love the blend of browns and the turquoise, and I think it will look really great knit up into this project. The colorway I am using for my Fellowship shawl is more subtle or subdued, and therefore works well when the knit itself has a lot of interest (in my case, lacework). This one, though, has a lot of impact all on its own, so I think it will work better on a project that lets the color change be more of the focus, if you know what I mean. If I do use beads (and I have not decided if I am going to or not) I’d have to do some proper pondering over the colour of the beads. It would need to be something that worked well across the three colours of the yarn, which could be hard to nail down. Clear beads maybe? No idea.

So basically, I’m thinking this shawl in this yarn is next on the docket, but man… I really gotta finish SOMETHING before I start this… right?

Ideas and Inspiration, Roundup, Uncategorized

Wool-free knits for the home

I have some people in my life who aren’t wool friendly. Either by preference or due to allergy, some people just don’t want wool things. I feel bad for them for wool is a pretty fantastic fiber with a lot of pretty amazing qualities and since learning to knit my appreciation and love of wool has exploded. Plus, in terms of yarn to knit with, it has been my experience that wool is just nicer and more comfortable to knit with.

But I digress. Sometimes you want to knit something for someone and wool is just out of the question, and that is a situation I am currently faced with. My eldest sister Amy is allergic to wool, and yet I would like to knit her something. I had originally planned to knit her mittens but that ended badly (to put it mildly). And where the winter is coming to a close I think I’d like to knit her something she could use all year around. I don’t have it in me to knit her a blanket (the one I am making for myself is enough, thank you very much) so I am left with items for the home. After doing some pattern searching on Ravelry I have come up with a couple of ideas.

Dishcloths

Dishcloths like Grandmother’s Favourite (free pattern) are the obvious choice and clearly a very popular design. I’m not in love with the idea of making some dishcloths as it seems so cliche and a bit of a cop out.  Their utility and the high likelihood of their being used is appealing though. If I did make her some dishcloths they would have to be interesting or special or unique in some way. Something like Sinkmates (paid pattern) would allow me to make it at least a bit interesting with different colours of borders. The interest could come from the shape of the cloths, like in The Almost Lost Washcloth (free pattern). The vaguely floral shape is at least a little more fun. The other option would be to make them more interesting by using a different stitch pattern like in the pattern Three Dishcloths (free pattern). More interesting or not, they would still be dishcloths and a little boring.

Potholders

See, this is where I start to gain interest. There is SO MUCH POTENTIAL for awesomeness in potholders, mostly because they are very often done in double knitting so you can make them in fun patterns and much more personalized. Like these awesome Star Trek Pot Holders (free pattern). We’re all Trekkies so this would be pretty cool. Hell, I want to make these for myself! Or what about this Pizza Potholder (free pattern)! Amy loves pizza so maybe this is a brilliant idea. Of, of course, I could always go the more grown up route and just make them pretty and classy, like these Scrollwork DF-Square in 2 Options (paid pattern). Super pretty and probably would be at least interesting to knit. The problem with potholders, though, is that I always feel like they should be done in wool for the best heat resistance and safety etc.

Other Various Options

Amy likes to drink tea so maybe a tea cosy would be good, like the Cabled cafetière & tea cosy(free pattern). I think it looks quite nice actually, but a problem arises in terms of teapot size and whether it would fit. I feel like I would have to buy a teapot, knit a cosy to fit it, and then give her both the teapot and the cosy, and I’m pretty positive she already has at least one teapot.

I really like this Home Pillow (paid pattern) and I think it would be a nice little gift, especially since Amy has semi-recently purchased her first home. It would be easy to add a second word or motif on the back as well to make it more personalized. I always worry about giving people large items for their home like this because it is pretty presumptuous that your gift will fit their style.

Maybe something small and simple, like A Burst Of Light Tealight Cosy (free pattern). One, it wouldn’t take me very long to make it. I’d probably be able to make a couple as a little set. It would be fun to show off some different stitch patterns, a different pattern for each one. And I really think they are quite pretty, with the light shining through the knit, showing off the stitch detail. Then again, the only reason why I think these are so cute is very likely because I am a knitter and a non-knitter may find them kind of cheesy.

 

Many options to decide from. As yet I haven’t been able to decide what would be best.

I am always open to suggestions so please leave in the comments any other patterns or ideas!

 

Links to all the patterns mentioned in this post:

Grandmother’s Favorite by Traditional Design

Sinkmates by Lorilee Beltman

The Almost Lost Washcloth by Julie Tarsha

Three Dishcloths by Joan James

2009_0805af_medium_small2
Star Trek Potholders by Ilana MacDonald

Pizza Potholder by Lina Wolf

Scrollwork DF-Square in 2 Options by Wineta

Cabled cafetière & tea cosy by Ruth Churchman

The Home Pillow by Fifty Four Ten Studio

A Burst Of Light Tealight Cosy by Emma Percy