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. :)