2009 - A Knitting Review

So last year I made a list of my knitting goals for 2009. I hit some of my goals that I made, fell short on others, but overall I am happy with my 2009 year o' knitting.

I did stick to knit from the sock yarn stash. I originally said no sock yarn until Stitches, but I changed that to no sock yarn until Sock Summit once I realized that SS09 was a reality. It was a good decision to make that change. I got lots of good stuff in Portland. And, honestly, how was I going to go to Sock Summit and not buy sock yarn? Please. :)

Another goal was to knit a pair of socks a month. I did knit 12 pairs of socks this year, but it did not work out to a pair a month (I mean, I really did knit three pairs of socks over Sock Summit weekend!). But, 12 pairs is good enough to say goal accomplished.

And then there was the 5 sweater goal. Hmm, how about three? I guess I didn't turn into the sweater knitter I hoped to. I blame it on catching the Ishbel bug. :)

Those couple of WIPs that I have had for years are still just as unfinished as they were last December. I have not yet frogged the projects, but I am seriously considering it.

Here is a run down of a few things I knit this year:

  • 1 clapotis

  • 6 hats (3 adult sized, 1 kid sized, 2 baby sized)

  • 3 Ishbels

  • 1 beet

  • 2 Noro striped scarves

Obviously, you can check out more of what I knit this year on my Ravelry project page.

So, what will 2010 bring for my knitting? Hmm, I don't really know. There are a couple things that I have up my sleeve, including a CPH, a whole bunch of baby knitting, and with any luck some wedding knitting (gotta get a ring first for this one, though!).

Hope everyone has a great New Year. Thanks for reading the blog and I hope you will stitck around in 2010. I think it's going to be a very good year for knitting!

So, what are your knitting plans for 2010?


Podcast Review: Knitmore Girls

Over the last year or so I have really gotten into the knitting podcast. And especially now that I have moved about 40 minutes away from work (opposed to the 9 minutes I was while in the apartment) I have been keeping up with them much better.

So, I thought I might talk to you about some of these podcasts I have been listening to. And, I thought I would start with one of my favorites: The Knitmore Girls.

Gigi and Jasmin have been podcasting since April of 2008. I love that they are a mother/daughter duo! It is really awesome to hear the two of them share a common interest and share their love of all things knitting and fibery with the knitting world.

The pair have pretty much stuck to a once a week podcasting schedule. I really like that this is one of the podcasts that you can rely on to actually be there once a week. It really is one of the things I love about it. In addition to a well-kept schedule, the two are extremely organized in their podcast. The topics often include 'On the Needles,' 'Straw into Gold' (a spinning segment), and 'When Knitting Attacks.' The podcast almost always stay on topic. There is little else other than the knitting/fiber to fill up the podcast. Don't get me wrong--there certainly are podcasts that I enjoy that talk about the happenings in the podcaster's life, but it is very nice to have one where they stay on topic so very well.

I think the Knitmore Girls is one of the best resources for finding about knitting patterns. Often I have seen something on Ravelry and then will hear about Jasmin or Gigi knitting it. I like that they seem to give me confidence to try some of this stuff. I am not much of a sweater knitter, but listening to them sometimes makes me want to become one.

Finally, I think one of the things I appreciate the most about this podcast is the well-detailed shownotes. I love that there are links to everything that they talked about in the notes. I often jot things down while they are talking about them (although that doesn't always work when I am in the car driving). I like knowing that I can rely on those shownotes to get the information that I need.

Overall, I think the Knitmore Girls is one fantastic podcast. It really is one of my faves and one I look for every week.

Here is some information for learning more about this podcast.

Shownotes can be found at http://knitmoregirls.blogspot.com

Jasmin can be found as cuteknitter on Ravelry

Gigi can be found as gigidahling on Ravelry

They have their own (very active!) group on Ravelry which can be found here.

So, what are some of your favorite fiber related podcasts (I am always looking for new ones to listen to!)?


Contest Winner and Upcoming Book Reviews!

Well, I used the trusty random number generator to find a winner of the Easy Cable Knits book. And the winner is. . . .


(Ella - please check your Rav mail. I sent you a message about collecting your prize!)

Thanks to everyone for stopping by the blog. I do hope you will be coming by again to read more reviews and see some things I've knit and stuff.

So, while we are on the topic of book reviews, I thought I would talk a little about some book goodies I got for Christmas! This year was full of lots of books. I plan on reviewing the knitting ones in the future here on the ol' blog. So, let's see. I got Big Girl Knits and Vintage Baby Knits. Both were books I asked for and I can't wait to take a better look at. Alex also gave me a book called The Natural Knitter. I hadn't heard of this book, but it seems really cool. And, I thought it was super thoughtful as we have enjoyed looking at alpacas this past summer. I was also very lucky and got a gift card to Webs. You can bet that was spent in no time!

Something else that Alex gave me was a Podcastudio and the book Podcasting for Dummies. Now, I have not decided for sure that a knitting podcast is in my future, but I am about 97% sure. :) So, stay tuned for that.

Anyway, kind of a long weird post to say thanks for reading the blog, there are more reviews coming and maybe even a podcast.

Coming up tomorrow. . . . a podcast review! Happy knitting. :)


Grinchy Kid Socks

Here is the last of the Christmas knitting I did this year. It's some kid-sized socks! I was told by the recipient that she wanted green in her socks.
I think this works well. Some nice little anklets for a nice little kid.
The Specs:

The Pattern: I went with a toe up sock with heel flap. For the ankle. I did 8 rounds of mock cable rib (like from my Mock Cable Rib Sock pattern)
The Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock in the Grinchy Colorway
The Needles: US Size 2
The Time to Knit: 3 days.

Don't forget you have one more day to enter by book giveaway. Details are in this blog post.

Happy knitting!


Turn a Square, Part II

So, like I said in the previous post, I think everyone needs to knit lots of Turn a Square hats. They are easy, amazing stash busters, and they all look good.

This one I knit for ten year old, Peter. His dad is getting the bigger one I knit recently, and I think it's nice when dads and sons have nicely complimenting hats. I think it's cute.

Here are the two together. They are similar but not too matchy matchy. Ah, the magic of Noro and the super long color repeats. I love it.

The Specs:

The Pattern: Turn a Square by Jared Flood (free Rav download there)
The Yarn: About a third of a skein or less of Valley Yarns Northampton and about half a ball of Noro Silk Garden in color 246 (I cut out the purple in this skein. That is not something a ten year old has much interest in, I think. You can bet I saved that little bit of yarn for the next Turn a Square hat I make!).
The Needles: US 5 & 7.
The Time to Knit: 2 days
The Mods: I did a little research (I swear everyone needs Last Minute Knitted Gifts just for all the hat options in there!) and decided the plan on how to small-i-fy the hat to fit a ten year old boy. Here's what I did:
  • Cast on 76 stitches
  • K2, P2 rib for one inch

  • Switched to the bigger needle and increased by 8 stitches evenly accross the next row

  • Knit following the pattern until hat measured 4.5 inches from cast on edge

  • k21, pm, k21, pm, k21, pm, k21

  • Decreased following the pattern
Easy peasy hat knitting!

Happy knitting!

Turn a Square - Oh for the love of Noro

Recently I have developed a love of all things Noro. I can waste hours on Ravelry looking at things people have knit with it.

I spent at least 30 minutes clicking through the Turn a Square projects. And then promptly started my own.

I had a acquired a couple of balls of Silk Garden from my friend Jen when she was destashing recently. And, I noticed that in one of them, as long as I didn't get into the purple, it could make quite a manly Turn a Square hat.

Yes, it's quite manly. Perfect for the man I gifted this to for Christmas.

The Specs:

The Pattern: Turn a Square by Jared Flood (free Rav download there)
The Yarn: About a half a skein or less of Valley Yarns Northampton and about half a ball of Noro Silk Garden in color 246.
The Needles: US 5 & 7.
The Time to Knit: About a week and a half.
The Mods: None. I think I followed the pattern exactly.

I think everyone needs to knit one of these. Or 13. Whatever.

Happy knitting!


Book Review: Easy Cable Knits

Hmm, well it seems that Wednesday is turning into review day. Seems like a perfectly good day to do reviews. :) And, I want to point out that I am going to start reviewing more than just books. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks I will get my act together and will start reviewing podcasts and yarn and things.

But, onto the book review. . . .

This week I took a look at Easy Cable Knits for All Seasons by Andra Knight-Bowman. This book was published just in September, so it is a fairly new book. As with most knitting books it starts out with the usual basic guidelines on how to do your basic knitting techniques. Always good when you need a little refresher!

The book then goes straight into the patterns, which are rated at beginner, intermediate and experienced. I always like when patterns have these ratings. I always worry about a super beginning knitter trying something too hard for your first project and then giving up on knitting all together. In this book I felt the ratings were accurate for what the pattern was.

There were lots of things I really like about this book. First off, I like that most of the garments have sizes that are for larger women. Most of the patterns go up to a 2X (which was usually 52 or 54" bust). As a larger lady, I like having the math done for me, rather than trying to have to do it myself. So, I was very happy to see that in this book.

I also really liked that several of the patterns give you options for sleeves. You have the option to make something as a tank/vest or add short or long sleeves. Again, something you can work out yourself depending on your style, but it's nice to see the book doing it for you. And, I liked that the patterns that contained those options contained photos of the garment knit in the different ways.

There were a couple patterns in particular that I liked. The "Scarf & Hat in the Round" and "Vest & a Twist" are both things I could see myself knitting.

The majority of the patterns in this book is what I describe as classic. So, if you are one that likes some of the newer super trendy knitting patterns, I would not recommend this book. But, if you love some nice basic cable patterns on classic sweater designs then I would say this book is for you.

Easy Cable Knits for All Seasons is available through Martingale and Company. You can get yours on Amazon for $18.99.

Love cables? Want a book with some nice classic looks that would fit any wardrobe? Then this book is for you. Just leave a comment between now and next Tuesday (12/29) at 5pm and you will be entered into a random drawing to win this book! Please include your Ravelry name or a link to your blog or email so I am able to contact you should you win. Good luck!


Jenna's Socks

There is something so satisfying about knitting kid socks. I think it's just the novelty of knitting a pair of socks in just a few short hours.

These are for Jenna, one of the three kids I babysit from time to time. I made her try one on to see if it fit. She was super pleased at thought of these socks. And, for a girl that is turning three this week, I am impressed and thrilled by her desire to acquire handknits.

The Specs:

The Pattern: One that is in my head. I measured Jenna's foot, did some math and knit a cuff done sock with a heel flap.
The Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Mediumweight Mill End. I have no idea what color that was supposed to become.
The Needles: US Size 2, you know, the usual
The Time to Knit: 2-ish days.
The Modifications: I made it up as I went, so I don't think you can really say I did any modifications, huh? :)

Happy knitting!


From The Queue Friday - New Knitty!

Well, I was originally going to do a different From the Queue Friday this week, but then the new Knitty came out and that went down the tubes (although I have a feeling my original picks from this week will probably be seen next Friday!).

I really loved lots and lots of stuff in this issue of Knitty but these two I fell head over heels in love with. First is Frost Diamonds by Stefanie Japel:

I love literally everything about this shawl. The color, the shape, the lace. It's all good. In fact, seeing some of these fitted shawls on Stefanie's website made me sign up for her upcoming "Design Your Own Shawl" class!

The next pattern is a lovely cardigan that is everything I ever hope for in a sweater:

This one is Zora by Kristen Rengren. I love that there are different ways to wear it. I love the deep v and I love that ribbing around the middle. This one is just beautiful!

Obviously, as these are Knitty patterns, they are available for free on the Knitty website.

What a great addition to my Ravelry Queue! I am sure they won't be there for long (cut to me finishing up this blog entry to go yarn shopping).

So, what were your faves in the new Knitty?


Book Review: The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques

It's time for another book review! This time, it's a book about finishing: The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques by Nancie Wiseman.
I actually heard about this book on the Webs podcast awhile back before I obtained a copy. I remember hearing on the podcast that this book was essential for all knitters. And, I have to say, they were right!

For me, who is someone who learned to knit out of some flimsy little 12 page book from a big box craft store, I still (even almost six years later) feel like I am missing some of the skills that could make my knitting look incredible. This book covers almost everything I would want to know about those finishing techniques. The book covers all kinds of things: cast ons, increases, decreases, selvages, bind offs, seams, picking up stitches, borders and button holes. While the first few sections were a review for me, the material in seams, picking up stitches, and button holes I found particularly useful.

Each section includes descriptions on the technique, written out steps on how to execute the technique, a pro/con list, and a couple diagram/pictures.The photos of the actual knitting were very clear and I found it nice to have those pics in there. The next time I make a buttonhole, you can bet I will be referring to this book and then checking to see if my knitting looks like the picture! :)

I seriously mean it when I say that I think just about every knitter can benefit from having this book. It will fit in most knitting bags, and it covers lots of stuff that you might not have memorized if you aren't doing it in your knitting all the time.

The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques is published through Martingale and Company and is available on Amazon for $16.47.

Got any good knitting books lately?


The Office Swap, Round Three

Most of the time when I do a swap on Ravelry, it's a one time thing. I don't typically go back to the same group over and over and do swaps with that group. I don't know, I guess I like to keep things interesting. :)

The Office Swap group on Ravelry is one that I have been a part of for some time now. And, everytime there is a swap sign up in the group, I am so there. It's a great group of people and it's so fun finding all that 'Office' related stuff to put in the package. I think I will be swapping in this group until we decide that we aren't swapping anymore.

So, here it is. My package from the latest installment of The Office Swap:

Let's take a closer look at that Jim, shall we?

This one came from Kathleen (aka watermelon on Rav). Gotta love that crocheted Jim! And Swedish Fish!? A staple in my diet. I also got some lovely yarn to knit a Calorimetry out of. I love that pattern and I love that yarn, so I think it will be a good combo!

Want to see my other Office Swap packages? Just check out here and here.

Join any good fibery swaps lately? Happy knitting!


From The Queue Friday

Well, it's getting all cold and snowy up here in the Northern IL area. Everytime we get a big snow it always makes me want to knit up some new mittens.

Here is a mitten pattern that has made its way to the queue. It's the Swedish Fish Mittens by SpillyJane:

I had seen this pattern on Ravelry awhile ago and then I heard about it on a podcast recently (sorry, I can't remember which one). Once I heard about it on the podcast I was reminded of how cute and lovely they are. Definitely the perfect kind of mittens for shoveling a bunch of snow!

The Swedish Fish pattern is available as a Ravelry download for $6.50. I love mittens, and I love Swedish Fish!

So, what's new in your queue this week?


Book Review: Mostly Mittens

Sometimes a knitting book comes along that you just have to have. Sometimes it's the pretty pictures, or because you saw someone else on Ravelry had knit something out of it, or sometimes you just need the book because you have recently developed an obsession for wanting to knit things like what can be found in the book.

Enter Mostly Mittens by Charlene Schurch.
This book was originally published in 1998. From what I can gather it must have gone out of print, because that original publishing is available on Amazon for $72!

Mostly Mittens is a book that specifically focuses on the ethnic knitting designs from Russia (hence the subtitle, Ethnic Knitting Designs from Russia). More specifically, it focuses on those of the Komi people, a group of people who settled in the NE part of Russia near the Arctic Circle in about 1700 (according to the book).

This book does a very good job of going into the history of the Komi, their knitting and their influence on knitting traditions. It also discusses the Komi patterns and what the characteristics of these patterns are. I actually really enjoyed this part of the book. I knew from looking at the patterns that things looked a little different than other fair isle mittens I have seen. Something about the geometry of the patterns is different. I really liked that there was explanation for this in the book. I don't normally care a lot about the history of knitting (which maybe is bad of me, but usually I am more concerned with the question of 'is it pretty?' instead of 'how did it come to be?'), but this time I was glad it was there.

But let's get into what everyone really cares about: the patterns! The book is broken down into six section, based on the type of mitten (from Basic Mittens all the way to Complex Borders, and even a few hat patterns made their way into the book). The each pattern has a full color picture of the mitten and then the usual yarn, gauge, needle size info. After that is a brief written instruction for the cuff and then goes straight into the colorwork of the mitten. The chart for the hand and thumb is in the book in landscape format, which makes it very easy to read (no flipping over pages back and forth, all the charts are on one page).

Some of my favorite mittens in the book are Mitten 4, 9, 11, 20 and 24 (not the best name for mittens, but at least they are easy to locate in the book!)

The patterns call for fingering weight yarn and the needles to go along with that weight of yarn (US 0-3). Not too bad for people that like to knit socks and things on teeny needles.

I would recommend this book to an intermediate knitter. If you hate charts, then you need to steer clear of this book. The book is pretty much all charts. But, if you are a lover of knitting charts then I think you might like this book. I would say this book is best suited for someone who has knitted some kind of fair isle before and loves those charts. Sounds like a book for me!

This book is currently available through Martingale and Company with a list price of $24.99. You can get your copy on Amazon for $16.49.


Handspun Socks: I did it!

Well, when I first decided that I wanted to take up spinning, the whole point was to be able to spin my own sock yarn. Finally! I spun enough yardage to be able to knit a pair of socks. A worsted weight pair of socks, but still. I am quite pleased with myself.

These socks are the warmest, softest things ever. Perfect for when I have to be out at the poop plant collecting samples in the middle of January.
The roving is the Cherry Plum colorway, which I purchased from Whimzy Pimzy's etsy shop. It was 4oz of a merino wool top. I think I ended up with about 300 yards total.
The Specs:

The Pattern: The toe up pattern I have in my brain. Complete with short row heel.
The Yarn: My handspun, in the Cherry Plum colorway
The Needles: US Size 3
The Time to Knit: Um, seven months. Well, it took a total of about three days to knit the socks, there was just six months and twenty-something days in between the knitting of the socks. You know how it goes.

Happy knitting! And spinning!


Noro Striped Scarf, Part Deux

Well, almost a year has gone by since I knit the first Noro Striped Scarf. I had been resisting the urge to knit another one for some time now. But, alas, it hit me all at once. My coworker definitely needed one.

My coworker is such a good egg. The other week she brought me a little wooden sheep that has a "Got Wool?" sign hanging from it. She said she knew I was having a rough go at work and thought the sheep would cheer me up. If that is not a reason to knit the lady a scarf, I don't know what one is!

So here it is, Noro Striped Scarf, Part Deux. Going to another coworker. I may need to knit one for myself in the very near future.

The Specs:

The Pattern: Noro Striped Scarf as seen on the Brooklyn Tweed blog
The Yarn:
Noro Silk Garden, 4 skeins total. The lack of being able to find the ballbands makes it impossible for me to tell you the color numbers, sorry.
The Needles:
US Size 5
The Time to Knit:
10 days
The Mods:
It's 1x1 rib. No mods needed there!

Coming up? Handspun socks, swap packages, and yarn dyeing, oh my!


From the Queue Friday - Baby Edition!

Well, if you are my Facebook friend or following me on Twitter, you already know this. My sister and her husband revealed on Saturday that they are pregnant! I really cannot wait to be the fun aunt! :)

Anyway, so here you have it. The From the Queue Friday Baby Edition. These are some things that are on the list of things I hope to knit for little baby.

I absolutely love love love this baby blanket. It's Serenity by Laura Wilson-Martos. It's available as a free Ravelry download.

Next, it's Baby Moc-a-Soc. Available for $5.99 on Ravelry by Bekah Knits. I think these are just so adorable and they look like they would be hard for a baby to kick off their little feet.

Finally, it's Cardigan for Merry. Available as a free Ravelry download by annypurls (Rav Links). It's an adaptation of the Cardigan for Arwen pattern by Kate Gilbert (Arwen is adult sized). This one is so beautiful!

So, what's new in your queue? Anything exciting you are looking forward to knitting?

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