Sunday, April 25, 2010

Stockinette Stitch Shrug


So I did end up starting the Stockinette Stitch Shrug for my mom for Mother's Day.  My mom likes very clean design in sweaters and is not a ruffle kinda gal.  So this Stockinette Stitch Shrug is perfect for her.  It's also very casual and I knit it in one of her two favorite colors: grey!  And knowing my mom, giving her a sweater knit in an alpaca or wool would drive her crazy because she wouldn't want to hand wash and block out to dry.  So I chose Red Heart Soft Solids Yarn in Lt Heather Grey color.  I will need 4 skeins to complete the project.  I'm almost at the end of the 2nd skein.  As the pattern dictates, it's 2 inches rib plus 34 inches ss plus another 2 inches of rib.  I've got 15 inches down and another 23 inches to go.

This shrug is such a simple and relaxing knit.  It's terrific for the beginner knitter or the advanced knitter who'd just like something mindless to knit in the evenings to relax.  Although it can be mundane at times, I have found it to be really relaxing and a terrific knitting group project. (Unlike lace)  I've gotta get this shrug knit and seamed this week and get a jump on the Rose Leaf Trellis Shawl (I still need to CO) for the KAL I'm involved in.  I can't seem to let this shrug go long enough to work on my lace projects though.  I know I have a deadline (Mother's Day) and it's so easy to work on while watching TV or multitasking.. that I have been stuck to it like glue during any free time I may have.

ONE NOTE: If you do decide to knit this shrug and you knit it out of acrylic like I am - at the beginning & end of each row add more rib or a simple garter border.  Unfortunately, I wasn't thinking when I started knitting it and realized after a couple of inches of stockinette stitch that it curls quite a bit.  And acrylic is near impossible to block.  So knitting it as the pattern calls for, in a natural fiber, is a good idea if you wish to block.  OR if you prefer acrylic, just be sure to knit a border on the sides.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Red Heart Announces New Yarns & More Colors

Since knitting, crochet, and fiber arts have made an enormous comeback, the yarn companies have sat up and taken notice.  Knitters now have the internet.  We mingle on Ravelry.  We chat with each other via Twitter.  We even post about yarns on Facebook.  And this has resulted in the average Jane Knitter acquiring yarns from virtually anywhere, not just their local craft retailer.  And this means the yarns of the local craft retailer are working just as hard to keep your business and retain viability in the fiber industry.

Just in February, Coats & Clark released the Stitch Nation line by fiberista, Debbie Stoller, in an effort to provide natural fibers at an affordable price.  And now the Red Heart brand has rolled out new yarns & some new colors.  Red Heart is known for it's cost-effective, acrylic yarns. Here's what I know about their new yarns & colors:

New Red Heart® Shimmer combines beautiful rich solid shades with a matching strand of metallic for just a hint of sparkle. In tune with today’s trends, Shimmer is perfect for fashions and accessories and comes in 7 rich shades.  A machine wash and dryable, medium-weight size 4 yarn, each ball is 100 grams.  Its free pattern leaflet, “Lace Cardi” (LW2125), highlights the understated glitz and fashion sense of this yarn. 

Also new in the popular size 5 bulky yarns is Red Heart® Chunky.  This extremely versatile yarn is made of soft, 100% acrylic and is perfect for quick, trendy accessories and wearables. Chunky comes in 7 tonal colors including Fire, a combination of reds and shades of oranges; Malted, tones of soft browns and neutrals; Leaves, from springy to grassy greens; Berry Breeze, lovely shades of pinks and berry tones; Taffy, fun purples and jazzy pinks; Blue Hawaii, shades of the ocean; and Coastal, shades of sand and sea. 

In the baby category, Red Heart is adding two new yarns that offer knitters and crocheters traditional baby colors, softness and a significant amount of “awe”-factor; Red Heart® Sweet Baby   and Red Heart® Buttercup.  Sweet Baby is a clever yarn created from two plies of super-soft 100% acrylic.  One ply is a solid shade and the other is a blend of delicate shades that form subtle waves of color as you knit or crochet.  Available in 7 color ways, Sweet Baby is an easy-care, size 4 medium-weight yarn in 100 gram balls, perfect for baby sweaters, booties, blankets, and toys. An adorable “Keep-em Cozy Pullover” (LW2123) free pattern leaflet inspires your creativity.

Red Heart® Buttercup is super soft and snugly.  Tiny pompoms of color blend with a fleecy yarn to make it squeezably soft.  In 7 shades, Buttercup is a bulky size 5 yarn that works up quickly. The “Cotton Candy Booties” (LW1822) and “Huggable Hoodie” (LW2138) free pattern leaflets play upon the softness of this yarn and are certain to be a favorite for mom and baby.

New Colors Compliment Red Heart® Favorites
To round out its new introductions, Red Heart® is adding new colors to some of our favorite yarns, broadening their creative range.  In the ever popular Pomp-a-Doodle, which features fluffy pompoms strung together by a twisted yarn cording, eight new colors have been added; creamy Fluff, blue and white Avalanche, purple and white multi Purple Passion, Sage, Cotton Candy Pink, Bluebird, Jet and Red Velvet.

Lilac, Spearmint and multi's Goulash and Jewel tone have been added to Red Heart Soft.  Plus, two new colors round out each of these Red Heart basics; Classic, Baby Clouds and Light & Lofty.

Adding to its already rich spectrum is Red Heart® Super Saver®.  Economy has added Lemon and Coral to the solid, and Mirage, French Country, Platoon, Urban Camo, Desert Camo and Dress Blues to the multi range.  

Super Saver® Jumbo has five new solid colors; Aran, Buff, Paddy Green, Petal Pink and Frosty Green. 

Regular Super Saver® offers seven new solid shades; Gold, Amethyst, CafĂ©, Paddy Green, Burgundy, Pretty ‘n Pink and Delft Blue.

This information was provided to me from a press release via Coats & Clark.  This is an unpaid post and no product was received for review.  KnitPurlGurl Disclosure Policy Applies.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Book Review Week! Day 4: Northern Knits

Northern Knits: Designs Inspired by the Knitting Traditions of Scandinavia, Iceland, and the Shetland Isles

Title: Northern Knits: Designs Inspired by the Knitting Traditions of Scandinavia, Iceland, and the Shetland Isles
Author: Lucinda Guy
Publisher: Interweave Press
Approx. Retail Price: $24.95
Release Date: 2010

In Northern Knits, Lucinda Guy draws her inspiration from Iceland, Shetland, Norway, & Sweden to bring us sweaters, mittens, caps, shawls, jackets, and socks with distinctive Northern European design.  Guy divides the book into sections of patterns which relate to each Northern European area.  Not only does she provide us with rich textiles and drool-worthy hand knits, but delves into the history of folkart and hand knits from each area.  And keeping in tradition, Guy also knits each garment with wool found locally to that area.

I found these patterns to not only be visually interesting, but also to carry Northern European tradition in a modern way.  I enjoyed reading the history of these folk crafts as well as reading the interesting tidbits about each pattern.  For many knitters, these Northern European styles are the holy grail of knitting.  And for myself, I've always felt intimated by these techniques.  But in Northern Knits, Guy covers a wide range of these techniques, including: knitting in the round, lace, Fair Isle, twined knitting, and embroidery as well as explain the culture and personal connections knitting has had in these areas for hundreds of years.

For anyone interested in learning more about these techniques, or wanting a great shawl pattern, or interested in the history of these techniques or all three: you will not be disappointed.

Iceland: Hulda Striped Pullover, Ennid Laceweight Shawl, Unnur Icelandic Pullover, Yrsa Laceweight Mitts, Lilja Textured Jacket
Shetland: Crowning Glory Cobweb Shawl, Moth Short-Sleeved Top, Effie Fair Isle Pullover, Nell Shetland Cap, Hester Chevron Lace Pullover
Norway: Annemor Pullover, Thora Cardigan, Inger Ski Cap and Gloves, Liv Patterned Socks
Sweden: Ola Placket Pullover, Pia Laceweight Pullover, Marta Embroidered Bag, Ulla Twined Socks, Ottilia Twined Mittens

Thank you to Jaime of Interweave Press for sending me a free review copy of Northern Knits.  KnitPurlGurl Disclosure Policy applies.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Book Review Week! Day 3: Power Cables

Power Cables: The Ultimate Guide to Knitting Inventive Cables

Title: Power Cables: The Ultimate Guide to Knitting Inventive Cables
Author: Lily M. Chin
Publisher: Interweave Press
Approx. Retail Value: $24.95
Release Date: June 1, 2010

When I first learned to knit years ago, all I wanted to do was learn to knit cables.  I was scared and excited.  I remember thinking, I can't do this.  I've only knit rectangles.  How am I going to learn this difficult technique?  Then I decided to knit up Silver's Palindrome Scarf and was hooked on cables immediately.  I had never imagined how easy it was to knit cables.  And then something happened.  Cables were my new thing.  I wanted everything I knit to have cables in them.  Then after a while, not so much..  ;p

So when Interweave Press sent me Power Cables, I thought, Hmmmm.. another book of cable patterns. This should be nice.  Well when I saw the book was by master designer, Lily Chin, I knew I was in for a creative and innovative book.  And let me just say, Lily did not disappoint. Even if you think you've read/seen everything there is about cables, I guarantee this book will teach you something new or at the very least, inspire you to try something new.

Power Cables is truly a book that should be read cover to cover as each chapter builds on the previous one.  And as Lily says in her book, even those who are proficient at cables should not skip Chapter 1: Understanding Cables.  Chapter 1 is a treasure trove of cable knowledge.  From a basic primer to cable math to charting to cabling without cable needles to various swatches to learning how to vary cables, Lily covers it all!  Each pattern in the book is a lesson in a particular type of cable technique.  With full color photos, detailed notes about each project, extensive written and charted patterns, and illustrated pattern details, even the newer cable knitter will feel confident in attempting one of these patterns.

What really impressed me about Power Cables was Lily's thorough explanations throughout each chapter.  For example, she explains Identical vs. Fraternal Reversibility, Stitch Multiples, Keeping Track of Rows, Crossings, Seen & Unseen, and Cable Integration.  But perhaps the most eye opening part of this book was seeing her colorful and textured cables.  Lily demonstrates intarsia, pinstripped, mosaic, mirrored pinstripe, and multi-colored pinstripe cables.  She even explores techniques for making these colorful cables reversible!  I was amazed and dazzled to see these cables.  I had never seen someone use colorwork in knitted cables.  And not just colorwork.  Lily combines texture and colorwork in some of her cables to induce a whole new sensory experience in cable knitting.

And finally, Lily explains how to put it all together to design a pattern that will not only create a marvelous garment, but will provide the knitter with a terrific experience.

Chapters included in this book:
  1. Understanding Cables
  2. Wide Rib Cables
  3. Ribbed Reversible Cables
  4. Textural Cables
  5. Traveling Stitch Cables
  6. Colorful Cables
  7. Raised Wale Cables
  8. Phony Cables
  9. Cable Integration
Projects: Honeycomb V-Neck Pullover, Widening-Rib Cabled Scarf, Reversible Honeycomb Scarf, Reversible-Cuff Cabled Socks, XOX Raglan Turtleneck, Textured Totebag, Staghorn Cabled Coat, Background Stitches Cable Vest, Five-Way Cabled Shrug, Pinstriped Cable Pullover, Bi-Color Brioche Stole, Reversible Cuffs Hat & Mittens, Two-Colored Handbag, Turnaround Stole, and Three-Fakes Hoodie.

A big thanks to the lovely Jaime over at Interweave Press for sending me a FREE review copy of Power CablesKnitPurlGurl Disclosure Policy applies.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Better Pics of my Peony Shrug

Here are some better pics of my Peony Shrug:


Back View:



Completed - Birthday Cowl

I finally got off my bum and finished the Birthday Cowl.  I knit this cowl using 250 yds of sKNITches Big Tryst in Scarlet Letter colorway and a size 8 needle.  I made this quite a bit larger than the original pattern called for, but I wanted a loose, free-flowing cowl that didn't feel tight against my neck.




Saturday, April 17, 2010

Peony Shrug

I finished my Peony Shrug, formerly known as my Peony Stole, formerly known as The Crocus Bud Crocheted Shawl. I deviated quite a bit from the pattern.  The original pattern called for lace yarn with a 5.5 mm hook.  I decided that I wanted something a little warmer for my shoulders when reading on the couch.  So I crocheted it in worsted weight yarn (Stitch Nation Full o' Sheep in Peony color) and an 8.00 mm hook.  Additionally, I started this shrug with a Chainless Foundation (sc) and ended with a row of sc.  Once I got further along in the project, I decided that I liked it better as a shrug.  So I folded it in half, right sides together, and seamed on each end approx. 3" in.  Then I weaved in the ends and turned right side out.
The middle pic is a little blurry but you get the basic idea of the fit.  The last pic displays the pattern a little better.





Friday, April 16, 2010

Stitch & Dish: Annie Modesitt, Knitting Heretic

A great BIG THANK YOU to amazing designer, knitter, crocheter, person, & guest, Annie Modesitt for joining me on Stitch & Dish on MomTV! To learn more about Annie or to connect with her, please click on any of the links below:


Mixing it Up

This week has been CRAZY busy for me.  I'm in the process of finishing out the reviews of the amazing Interweave Press books I received.  I am also reading two fiction works (for review) - Hannah's List by Debbie Macomber and Waking up in the Land of Glitter by Kathy Cano-Murillo (The Crafty Chica).  AND I'm reviewing some products related to my mommy blog, Momma'Tudes.


 Peony Lace Stole (crocheted in Stitch Nation Full o' Sheep, Peony color)

But as I promised myself, I have made some time for fiber this past week.  Of course last Saturday, I attended A Knitter's Fantasy Fiber Show in Youngstown, Ohio.  I have been working on completing my Birthday Cowl project (just about ready to bind off). I've been working (just a TEENY bit) on my Victorian Rose Scarf.  And I'm about 1/5 of the way done on my latest project, Peony Lace Stole.

For Mother's Day, I'm considering knitting up the Knit Stockinette Shrug for my mom, who's current cardigan looks like it could be a costume from Oliver Twist. It looks like a really quick knit that I could whip out.  Perhaps she'll let me give her other cardi a Viking burial.

Cascade Yarns Baby Alpaca Chunky in Mimosa Colorway

I just got my Cascade Yarns Baby Alpaca Chunky yarn in Mimosa colorway in the mail today.  And I'm excited to start on the Ellemyra Shrug!  Of course, there are a few things I need to finish prior to casting on.  (I'm trying hard to limit my WIPs)

And TONIGHT - The FAB Annie Modesitt is appearing on my Stitch & Dish Web Show to dish her latest projects!  SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Next Generation Fiber Addict

My DD, age 5, learns to single crochet with a little help from mom.


Book Review Week Day 2: Knitwear Design Workshop

Title: Knitwear Design Workshop: A Comprehensive Guide to Handknits
Author: Shirley Paden
Publisher: Interweave Press
Approx. Retail Value: $40.00
Release Date: 2/15/2010

In Knitwear Design Workshop, Shirley Paden provides a designing class in a book!  The book, designed to take you from planning to finished project, is THE book to have in every knitwear designer's library - whether budding designer or established.  As Paden states in the beginning of the book, she has written this book not to magically turn the reader into a professional designer, but rather to help the regular Jane knitter properly design, plan, and produce products of professional quality.

Right off the bat before I even read the book, I was in love with the spiral bound and notebook like design.  Although the book is a hard cover book, it has the feel of a book to be used in a class, as a learning tool.  Infact, in the very beginning of the book, Paden provides wonderful worksheets to plan your design and measure yourself  (or whomever you are knitting for), taking care to describe each measurement and how to obtain it correctly.She even describes how to allow for ease and provides an Ease Allowance Chart for easy measurement rendering.  Also at the beginning of the book, Paden describes body shapes and provides worksheets for drawing designs based on those shapes.

Step by step, Knitwear Design Workshop takes you through the basics of selecting yarns, taking care to educate the knitter about fibers, fiber properties, yarn construction, and weight.  (Personally, I feel whether or not one takes the leap and designs one's own garment, this section of the book should be read by every knitter!)  And she doesn't stop at the basics of selecting yarn. Paden goes on to give the knitter instruction on choosing stitch patterns, understanding and writing charts, gauge swatching, translating measurements to stitches & rows, and calculating yarn requirements - all before Chapter 3, no less!

Each chapter is designed to use sample garments to highlight Paden's lessons in construction.  Each lesson has full descriptions, math & measurement calculations, charts, worksheets, and tips to help ensure that every aspect of design and construction is covered and each garment fits the way the knitter prefers it to fit.  It truly IS a comprehensive guide to handknits.

If you are a newbie knitter, do not let this book intimidate you.  Flipping through the pages can seem overwhelming to the newer knitter/designer.  But once you start reading the book, you realize it's not out of your reach.  The techniques in design and construction are well explained - including transitions, increases/decreases, shaping, and finishing.

Over all, I learned a TREMENDOUS amount of information from this book.  For some odd reason, I expected designers to have some incredible magic force that allowed them to simply knit up a garment and then write it down.  I honestly thought designing would not be a part of my knitting repertoire.  But after reading this book, I realized that it's really a matter of planning, careful measurement, and creative expression that leads to a beautiful and properly fit garment.  I feel empowered to give it a whirl!  (And you should too!)

Chapters included in this book:
  1. Planning Your Design
  2. Selecting the Fabric
  3. Classic Silhouette Pullover
  4. Alternate Silhouettes 
  5. Cardigans
  6. Skirts and Dresses
  7. Alternate Armhole Shaping
  8. Sleeves and Cuffs
  9. Necklines
  10. Neckbands, Collars, and Lapels
  11. Finishing Techniques
Projects: Twist Flowers Pullover, Cable Coat with Cape Collar, Double Leaves and Twists Duster, & Peacoat (my favorite)
Thanks to Interweave Press for providing me with a free review copy of Knitwear Design Workshop: A Comprehensive Guide to HandknitsKnitPurlGurl Disclosure Policy applies.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Book Review Week Day 1: Knitting Green

Knitting Green

Title: Knitting Green
Author: Ann Budd
Publisher: Interweave Press
Approx. Retail Price:  $24.95
Release Date: 5/01/2010

First off before I give you my review of this fab book, I have to tell you that the amazing people over at Interweave gave me a digital copy of this book to review - thus keeping it VERY green.  I LOVE that Interweave provides digital copies for their reviewers.  Not that I don't enjoy a beautiful book in my hands, but we all need to do our part to reduce waste.  Now onto the review..

Knitting Green is a terrific book that helps to educate the knitter about how our hobby has an environmental impact.  It's neither preachy nor condescending.  Ann Budd strives to shed light on our knitting carbon footprint in order to allow the knitter to make educated decisions while providing top notch patterns from talented designers such as Katie Himmelberg, Cecily Glowick Macdonald, Kristen TenDyke, Therese Chynoweth, Michele Rose Orne, Vicki Square, Veronik Avery, JoLene Treace, Deborah Newton, Nancy Bush, Kristeen Griffin-Grimes, Kim Hamlin, Pam Allen, Mags Kandis, and Budd herself.   Knitting Green includes an enlightening forward by Knitter's Editor, Clara Parkes, as well as articles by Pam Allen, Lisa R. Meyers, Sandi Wiseheart, Carmen S. Hall, Kristeen Griffin-Grimes, Darlene Hayes, Kristin Nicholas, and Amy R. Singer.

Yearning to learn why Organic Cotton can make a huge difference versus other cotton yarns?  Which plants require no pesticides to grow easily? What the heck is Tencel anyways?  Are all plant fibers "green?"  What are the conditions of workers all over the world who process our fibers?  And why is this important?  How do I know which yarns are truly green yarns?  These questions and more are answered in this eco-smart book as we learn "The Gray of Green."

And of course - there are PATTERNS!  Oh my goodness, I'm in love with the patterns!  My must have faves from this book include: a gorgeous cabled vest pattern, Eco Vest, a lace tunic knitted in a linen yarn named for Al Gore, Allegoro Lace Tunic, another fab Kimono from Vicki Square, Soy Silk Kimono, a gorgeous pullover cabled sweater, Tree Hugger Pullover, the perfect spring/summer lace pullover, Cunene River Pullover, and of course a lightweight, lacey shawl, Videvik Shawl.  The patterns are all so well written and explained, leaving nothing to chance.  With multiple full-color photos, charts, and detailed notes & pattern instructions, even the newbie knitter will find a project to tackle. 

I also enjoyed seeing some of these eco-friendly yarns knit up.  Not having heaps of experience with eco-yarns, I had never knit with many of these.  To see the way these garments drape on a model is so very helpful.  In Knitting Green, Budd selected yarns such as Cascade Eco Wool, Classic Elite Solstice, LanaKnits #101 AllHemp3, STC Pure, Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton, La Lana Wools Phat Silk Fine, Himalaya Yarn Sweet Earth, and more..

So do yourselves a favor and pick up a copy of this environmentally-conscious book (which just happens to have uber cute patterns).  I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing it.

Thank you to Interweave Press for sending me a FREE review copy of Knitting Green by Ann BuddKnitPurlGurl Disclosure Policy applies.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Knitter's Fantasy in Youngstown, OH

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'Had a GREAT time at A Knitter's Fantasy in OH!  Celeste, Marybeth, & I rode together.  I picked up some Noro and some Annadele Alpacas yarn.  The fashion show was AMAZING.  I would've gotten pics, but I was seated too far away.

One thing I would like to say to vendors out there: I stopped at a booth (which shall remain anonymous) and wanted to buy a pattern.  The pattern called for 5 skeins of a yarn they carried.  The yarn was $30/skein.  I really liked one colorway, but they only had 3 skeins.  Then I chose another colorway - but they only had 3 skeins of it.  Then I was told that unfortunately, they were discontinuing this yarn.  They only had 2 colors, one of which I kinda liked (but wasn't at the top of my list) in which they had enough skeins for the pattern.  I decided I didn't want to spend $150 on yarn I kinda liked for a garment I would wear. So I told the saleswoman that I would like to only purchase the pattern.  She told me that they would not sell me the pattern unless I bought the yarn.  I walked away.  I got on my smartphone and downloaded the pattern for $8 from Ravelry right next to their booth!  They have lost me as a customer.  And instead of making $8 or even $10 off of me, they made NO sale.  AND all of the knitters from the knitting group witnessed it and also did not want to buy anything there.  This is a prominent yarn store in Ohio.  This is NOT the way to do business.  It is rude.  And unless the knitter has no other way to obtain the pattern but through your shop, you've GOT TO BE STUPID not to sell the pattern alone when a knitter will gladly spend the money somewhere else for it.

UPDATE: Just bought Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky yarn from WEBS closeout in color I LURVE (Mimosa) - got enough for the entire pattern PLUS 1 skein extra.  Buying pattern directly from the designer and yarn from WEBS - $38 (TOTAL).  Buying pattern and yarn from snobbish vendor would have been $160 (TOTAL).  Knowing I spent my money wisely and with people who have TERRIFIC customer service - PRICELESS.

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