Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Best of KUAS 2014

Happy New Year, dear readers! I wish you blessings and prosperity as we approach this new year. 2015! Wow! Can you believe it? Keeping up with my New Year tradition, here is "the best of 2014" from the KUAS blog (not in any particular order):

The Best of 2013
The Best of 2012

I'll meet you back here in a fresh new year with updates on my Mrs. Darcy Cardigan. :)

Friday, December 26, 2014

WIP: Christmas Socks

I hope all of you enjoyed a wonderful Christmas!  I finished my MIL's Christmas socks (aka "Hawkeye Socks") the day before Christmas Eve. It was such a relief to get it done the day before all of the festivities began.

Yarn: KUAS fingering weight yarn in a superwash merino blend (colorway "Bleed in Black & Gold")
Needles: size US2
Started: not telling!          Finished: December 23rd, 2014
Specs: 64 sts, 8'' leg, size US 7.5 women's shoe
Blog Posts: Post 1    Post 2

 I dyed this yarn a long time ago in the colorway "Bleed in Black & Gold." That silly colorway name is a slogan from the University of Iowa for their football team, the Hawkeyes, who bleed in black and gold. Not only did my husband and I graduate from that college, but so did his parents. So we are all big Hawkeye fans.
I realize that ribbing is not the most effective way to display striped or variegated colorways, but I was going more for function than ascetics. I wanted to make sure that it fit really well, since some socks have a tendency to stretch out with time.
Here's another example of packaging hand-knits. Joe and I tried to calculate how many stitches went into making this pair of socks (and the result makes me a little sick to my stomach): approx. 24,500 stitches. If you are going to spend that much time knitting them, fancy up the packaging.

I included a nice instruction care card (with a plea to hand-wash and to never let this sock so much as look at a dyer unless you want it to fit my toddler's feet), and also included a little wool-wash sample. She was pleasantly surprised. Well, she should be, since she asked for it last Christmas, and that never happened. Ha ha ha...whoops. What was I supposed to do, give her one sock?
I'll miss these little buggers. I was contemplating finishing them up "magic loop" style, but decided against it. I have another pair (yes, an actual pair running to avoid secondsockities) half done from the Ice Age era, and I'll probably slide them onto a circular needle and try them two at a time.
 My husband was putting the boys down when I finished the last toe, and came down surprised to see me wearing them. He was wondering if would finish them in time with all of the happenings going on this particular season. I pretended for a couple of minutes that they were mine. :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Punk-Chic Jewelry

I'm a firm believer in dressing up homemade presents with pretty boxes and bows. Here's a gift I made a month ago for a friend.

We a both fans of the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I wanted to make a punk necklace similar (although with some major liberties) to the one in the end of the series. Sorry, don't remember which episode it was. Mine have pointy spikes and a heart for the chain to run through.
The idea was to make something a little sexy with a tank-top, dress or a V-cut shirt. The chain is a little adjustable, so you can alter the length of the spikes by how much you pull it through the heart.
The earrings aren't necessarily supposed to match, but I made this before her sister's wedding, and I told her that if she didn't already have something fancy to wear on her ears, this might work well. She loves big earrings.
The earrings were very easy to make. I bought it mostly assembled. I basically just attached the earring portion. But, then again, I paid extra for that sort of convenience because they were gorgeous.
The necklace is what took the longest. These chain links were so tiny, and were a big pain to open and close and get just right.
This has been over a month, so this post is long overdo. She thanked me for the jewelry when it was dropped off at her house, but I haven't heard from her on how it actually wears (or if she has worn it at all yet, even) I'm not sure it she likes it as much as I thought she would. Oh well. Is my jewelry too eccentric?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Some (knitter's) birthday booty

My Husband planned this elaborate birthday extravaganza for me in Chicago this last weekend. We stayed at the beautiful Palmer House in the heart of the downtown area that was walkable to our planned destinations.

What a ritzy place! It has a beautiful golden peacock door at the entrance and decorative ceilings on the lobby floor. It is now owned by Hilton.

Once we checked in, we fancied ourselves up and went to a great Italian restaurant before heading to the Nutcracker.
On Saturday, we ate breakfast at Meli's Cafe, which is a hip restaurant that prides itself on having a large smoothy/juice/liquor bar. We walked two blocks down to W. Polka Street to Loopy Yarns where I got some birthday booty. LOTS of amazing booty. What's that look for? You know, yarn loot? What where you thinking? 

Then, we did our annual Christkindlemarket shopping. It was a mad zoo! We waited for about half an hour in a mass line (or was it a line?) to get our hot spiced wine. 
I actually overheard someone talk about a birthday coupon, which ended up saving me 10% off my entire purchase because of that conversation. I mentioned that I was in town for my birthday and haven't been receiving emails from the last time I visited. She gladly gave me the discount. Yelp has mixed reviews about the employees, but they were courteous and friendly with me both (yes, I said both) times I came there. Let me explain:
I came in with the hopes of obtaining all yarn and roving for thrummed mittens for the boys in my life (plus mommy too). I was exited to see that they had many colors to choose from. The boys will have rainbow mitts, and my husband will have the green and natural colors, and mommy (me) will eventually have the teal and purple-pinks. The yarn?
I choose a natural shade instead of white in Cascade 220. My husband choose the grey colorway. 
I ended up returning Sunday to get a little bit more roving because I didn't want to run out since I've never done thrummed mittens and I had two sets of children mittens to do in rainbow colors. It's not like I could pop back at the store when I ran out. I figured having a little extra was way better than 'Scrooging it.'
I picked up some dark teal malabrigo yarn for a hat pattern I will whip up with large buttons at the rim.
These three skeins were a splurge. They are a sinfully-soft baby alpaca, cashmere, camel and silk blend in a soft heathered teal colorway (the real shade is slightly darker than the photo). The yarn is called "Road to China Light" in Abalone. You just have to rub it against your cheeks or squish it. It's heavenly. I imagine it will become a small shawl one day. I have about 480 yards total.
Buttons for upcoming projects. The dark teal/green is for the hat (malabrigo yarn above) and the triangular buttons is for my WIP "Mrs. Darcy Cardigan." I expect to use about 5 buttons, but bought one more just in case.

I was sick earlier in December, and my boys have been sick pretty much since October. After helping out at their Preschool on Thursday (one kid sneezed in my face), and from being in Chicago in general, I returned from my trip sick as a dog. I am now starting to act a little more human, now that my coughing is reducing, and not feeling so weak. I had that non-stop unproductive coughing that was eating at me. Not even medicine would curb the coughing.
I put my red cardigan on hold so that I can finish these socks in time for Christmas. I am halfway through the gusset. What's slowing me down is that I am doing tons of piano accompanying as a sub, with piles of new music to learn. This month has been totally exhausting. I am technically on break from teaching, but this is a temporary side job. I would have enjoyed more down time knitting and baking, but I wouldn't necessarily have gotten all of these opportunities to sub as a pianist at this particular church. Plus, what better time spent on practicing and music to play than Christmas?

Sunday, December 07, 2014

FO: Pumpkin Ale Sweater

Well, folks, I have finally gotten a chance to post photos of the finished Pumpkin Ale Sweater.

She's warm and snuggley, and just the ticket to complete a fall ensemble.

I barely scraped by, finishing it minutes before our last Thanksgiving dinner engagement. That's cutting it a little too close.

We had two Thanksgivings to attend, and I missed my deadline for the first one at lunch time. I was actually finishing the bind-off and pockets in the car! Try sewing with a sharp needle as a passenger in a car and count how many times you get stabbed.

I might have lost the time-battle, but won the war in the end.
One of the things that I like best about this sweater is that the cables are heavy in the back, and simple in the front. It's a yen-yang effect for knitting. 

Started: February 2014
Finished: November 27th, 2014
Needles: Size US5 and US7
Yarn: 11.5 skeins of Elann's Peruvian Highland Wool in "Harvest Heather"
Modifications: Needle size, and adding a couple of rows to the pocket and garter border 

Read past posts on this project:
Post 1     Post 2     Post 3     Post 4
The pattern was simple enough. The back panel really took the longest, and then things picked up pace rapidly after. I learned a short-row wrapless technique along the way for the hip shaping, and was pleased with the results.
I was impressed with Ysolda's finishing techniques to give this sweater a clean, professional look: slipped edge stitches, I-cord edging, wrapless rows to look invisible, etc. You can tell that the designer knew what she was doing when creating the pattern. 

She also takes a woman's natural shape into consideration, especially when it comes to the shaping in the back panel. As cabling can get heavy and not flattering at times, she made sure the shape the back so to make you look leaner from behind.
 My only one concern is that the shoulder feels a little saggy. It's a small gripe, but it fits fine. 
The pockets are generous, which means it must be sewn completely to the inside of the sweater so that it doesn't droop. I used a slip-stitch needling sewing method to do this, just like I did when attaching the liner to the pocket. 
I have completed one of my sleeves to the "Mrs. Darcy Cardigan." I am now working on the second sleeve. Knitting has slowed down greatly since I have a lot of piano accompanying to do this Advent season for a church in need, as well as having lost a week filled with illness and three trips to the doctor with my two boys having RSV. I'll send you an update soon though.

Monday, December 01, 2014

WIPS in the round

First off, I promised you the finished photos of my Pumpkin Ale Sweater. I have to break that promise. Our whole family has been sick, one if not both of the twins have RSV, fevers plus an ear infection, and it's been gloomy out (which makes for horrible lighting), so I'll just wait until things are back in order with our situation.

I didn't, however, have an unproductive knitting weekend and return empty-handed.
Can you believe that?  You can? ...Well, I can't!
I finished the first sock of one of my Christmas gifts, and casted on immediately for the second sock, because you know me...if I don't, it won't get knit! As much as you all love me (eh hem!) and have come to appreciate my yarnie eye-candy around here, we all know that this blog author is the #1 leading sock orphan contributor in society. It's a sad, sad, truth, but someone's gotta do it. ;)

I already have completed a few inches to the leg. It's a 2x2 rib in my KUAS colorway "Hawkeye," in a soft superwash blend finger-weight yarn. I usually don't go for ribbing with striping socks, but this person happens to be a huge Hawkeye fan, and I wanted the sock to fit like a glove. The colorway would have worked beautifully in plain stockinette.
Hawkeyes bleed black and gold, in case you didn't know that useless piece of info from a Hawkeye Alumn.

I'm so excited (and nervous) to be finally casting on for this cardigan! Seriously, I've been lusted over this project for years! Can you tell that I have been bit by the sweater bug? Just wait. I have more sweaters/cardigans in my queue. Mwa ha ha. Anyway, this is Mary Weaver's reworked pattern "Mrs. Darcy Cardigan" from the book "Knits that Fit." I have scoured Ravelry to see the fit situation for various sizes, and have seen that this model's cardigan doesn't exactly translate to looking quite so figure-friendly for any silhouette with the slightest (or more like me) of hip-shape (except all those in size XS), particularly in the deep-V shaping, so I'm going to have to be really careful to modify the pattern if I see it as an issue with mine. Which I'm sure there will be! I'm pear-shaped!

I purchased 4 skeins of Paton's Classic Wool Worsted for this project because I believe the finished project for this pattern begs to be blocked properly, and I didn't want to sacrifice wear-ability over saving $8. You know the saying: cheap yarn yields cheap looking projects. Even the nicest looking pattern can turn sour over bad yarn choices, weights, fibers, and especially wrong needle sizes.
I learned a new technique! Magic Loop! If you haven't learned this yet, or even know what I'm referring to, check out that 3 minute video and learn it! It's so easy and useful! I didn't have size US9 dpns for the sleeves, so I used this needle method to work the sleeves.  

I have already modified the sleeves. Believe it or not, but I have already added two sets of increases (2 stitches added each increase) by this point, and it's still this narrow. It fits like a glove, but I plan on adding one or two more increases because let's face it, most people don't have twig arms and I intend to wear something other than my birthday suit under it. :)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Give-away winner

Congrats! Stitchy McFloss! You have won the 2014 Thanksgiving Give-away grand prize! Please email me (knittingupastormATgmailDOTcom) with your name and an address to send this package to. 

Sorry for the suspense. I got home much later than anticipated...10pm and was too tired to announce yesterday. 

However, I have a Black Friday sale going on at Ravelry that will take 50% any or all KUAS patterns that you purchase today. Yowza! That's like .99 or $1.99 for almost all patterns! Was there something that you've been meaning to try out?

Coupon code:  Blacksheepfriday14

Sweater update later. I have finished it in time for my second Thanksgiving meal of the day yesterday. Meet you back here later? 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!  
Don't forget to enter in the Thanksgiving GRAND PRIZE give-away that ends at 8pm (CT).

I've been keeping so busy baking and doing holiday things with the boys and practicing like mad for piano accompaniments that finishing this sweater on the day of my deadline is cutting it a little too close! I did a couple more garter border rows this morning and as we speak, I am working on the I-Cord edging on this sweater. Then I have to sew in this last pocket (and technically block, but I think I will do a quick steam on the sleeves if I can and do some real blocking after the holidays). I will make my Thanksgiving lunch & dinner deadline! Good thing I don't have to cook today!
Photos of the finished sweater, and winner of the prize hopefully tomorrow. Catch you then.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

2014 KUAS Thanksgiving Grand Prize (ends 11/27 @ 8pm!)

Hi there! Happy Thanksgiving!
I've decided to flip-flop the place to win the grand prize and have it end here, on the blog rather than the facebook group page. So? Who wants to win this generous grand prize? This one will be won differently than the previous prizes. I will choose at random the winner from the comments from this post. Read below how to win.

How to win: 1 winner will be chosen at random. Please comment below answering this question to enter:
Who is the most influential person in your life? 
This is someone who has shaped or nudged you to be who you are today. This person doesn't have to be your parent or sibling.  This could be a teacher or even someone who hasn't even been in your life long...or at all. This could be a famous person, a person from a Youtube video, etc. REALLY, think about it... who do you owe some "thanks" to?
Deadline: Thursday, November 27th at 8pm (Central Time)
When announced: sometime after 8pm or 9pm! (Remember, it's Thanksgiving...)
If you win, email me your human name and an address to send your package...and thank that person who you mentioned!

Thank YOU for being part of this blog. Otherwise, I'm just talking to myself like a crazy yarn lady! :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Let the give-aways begin

I just wanted to let you know that the week leading up to Thanksgiving is a week filled with give-aways. It's my "thank you" to my readers who are an active part of this blog. I appreciate you and your continued support of my blog and work.

I won't post on this blog every time there is a give-away, so make sure you join the group so that you can receive a notification via Facebook. You have to be a member to win anyways. I'll try to do give-aways at various times of day due to different time-zones and work schedules.

To win is simple: just be the first person to answer the question in the post! That's it.

The final give-away (on Thanksgiving) is big! It' a secret though!

To my knowledge, no one has commented yet to the give-away as I write hurry up!

Just do me a favor if you win: pay it forward by thanking someone in your life who has helped make you who you are today (family, friend, teacher, etc.). 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Spinning Blue

My Ashford Elizabeth II has been sitting in my craft room, and then in my bed room collecting dust longer than I feel comfortable sharing. After the boys were born, I barely spun. They just turned 4, and I feel more able to get back into the swing of things again (yay for crafting and blogging regularly again). I've been watching a ton of knitting podcasts lately, trying to entertain myself and not feel so lonely while knitting up my Pumpkin Ale Sweater. One of the podcasts is from my friend from high school called Rain Drop Knits. She recently got herself a spinning wheel and watching her sheer happiness has made me reminisce and feel that urge to spin again. So hurray to making yarn again. Thanks Sarah! This is my second bobbin of blue merino (?) wool. I bought 8oz, and unfortunately did not keep the tag for the colorway name. I believe it was Old Barn (something like that, I will check the other roving label that I bought together with this). Ain't she a beaut? There are flecks of storm grey and pink. I plan on double plying, so when that happens, I believe it will come out to about sport weight once soaked. We'll see.
I'm running a "right here, right now, post what you are crafting on" in my "Knitting up a storm, the blog" group page on facebook. Make sure to post a pic on the post. Now's a good time to join the group if you haven't already, as I plan on starting up more of my random give-aways on the group page to the first member to respond to the post(s). Thanksgiving will be a very giving-y time for me :)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

You've gotta pick a pocket or two

Hi there! This Pumpkin Ale Sweater is getting so close to completion, I can taste it! I've been keeping you in the loop about every single adventure along the way in this sweater, so I hope you aren't bored to tears seeing photos of this orange object!

I believe it is my most involved-not largest, but most tricky-knitting project thus far, and I feel incredibly slow at it, even though I've been putting in hours a day. But it's worth it.

You'll have to excuse the inconsistent color of the sweater in the next photos because I took them at different times of the day (it gets so dark so quickly now!), but I'm convinced that orange, even heathered, is non-photogenic under most lighting conditions. My colorway is almost exactly the same as Ysolda's.

I am just about at the second cuff, so let's get talking about the pockets!
I made sure that I did not confuse the ends of my provisional cast-on by making several extra crochet chains and securing it with a knot. This helped me find the end that unziped all of those live stitches.

Oh, by the way. I was a little rebellious. Nothing too serious, but in the pattern, the pockets were the last thing to complete, and I decided to get a head-start on the more fussy things so that I have less work by the end. I also decided to make the knitted portion of the pocket a little bit longer, in hopes that the liner will sit further down, making it more hidden. Rebel. Mwa ha ha.
A long while back, I bought these circular needle stitch holders on clearance from Hobby Lobby, and I am finally using them. I do have every variety of stitch holders known to man, but who can help themselves with a 75% off knitting notion? I had no idea what the little white contraption at the end was for until I got a closer look at it. It locks the needle and the end together. Cool.
Anyways, this is what the knitted potion of the pocket looks like. You don't knit the full pocket. You start knitting a couple of inches, and then bind off. You sew yourself a liner and attach it to the bind-off area of the pocket in the end. Ysolda instructs you to make a faux-seam of purling a stitch on the sides. I think the reason was for it to match the edge seams in the liner easier.
Next, I picked out my liner. I had this leftover from a purse liner from the Fake-a-gamo purse many years back. Just in case you are curious, the second purse is my cute modified clutch version.
Now here's when things went a little sour. My sewing machine decided last night that it would rather eat fabric than sew. I took that thing apart as far as I was comfortable with, but couldn't find the problem. I found lint (which I removed), but couldn't find out why it would work fine without fabric, but once you but feed the cloth through, the needle would tangle inside with the thread underneath and chew through the fabric. I re-threaded many times, re-adjusted the needle, the footer, the bobbin, etc. I'm not a seamstress, so I haven't a clue.

So, I also got to use this portable Singer sewing machine for the first time. Now, let's be real. Sewing actually scares the crud out of me. I have nightmares about my finger getting in the way of the needle. Now, this machine is like that nightmare on crack. Once you bring the needle up, you have to physically lift the metal footer up to slide the fabric under... and quick frankly, I almost ran my finger over with the needle a couple of times in the process. The sewer would turn on if I bumped/pushed down slightly on the red top portion which lifting the footer. Yikes. The sewing isn't as neat as the real machine, and I couldn't zig-zag to have a nice border, but it did the job. I went over it 2-3 times just in case. Sorry, I'm not hand-sewing the whole thing:
"Ain't nobody got time for that."
After my sewing fiasco, I was further disappointed that I had no idea on how to attach this thing. Like I said, I don't sew. I can do basic, basic things and this knowledge does not come naturally.

So, if you are in the same boat, let me gift you with my discoveries to save you some time and frustration! In the photo above, notice how I pinned the knit pocket fabric. I only folded the side that is closest to the garter border. 
First, do your necessary sewing for the liner's edging. Do yourself a favor and iron the top where you are going to pin (unlike me) and then pin the fabric to the knitting as such, right at the bind-off edge of the knit pocket.
Now listen up! You want a nice, clean, invisible sewing job, right? Make sure you do a sneaky-sneaky "slip-stitch" job around the fabric. Youtube it, if you've never done the stitch (that's what I did). Trust me, you don't want to see a visible sewing job because the top portion of the liner is visible to the public. Like in the photo, do your slip-stitching just behind (but not too far behind) the edge of the liner and then do your sewing into the knit fabric right around the same area and it should HIDE all that sewing. Neat, huh?
You'll probably want to sew behind where the fold in the knit pocket was, but I haven't finished this yet. Don't judge my liner's edging...remember, my sewing machine was broken and I couldn't zig-zag it!
The result? A beautiful and well-invisible sewing job.
Like I said, I haven't knit the garter border yet, but when I do the pockets, the liner will be fully hidden, and I will sew the liner edge to the border so it doesn't "flop" around. :) Almost done, people! Yay!