New Year Planning

Some of us have spent the last few weeks looking forward to the new year (well, those of us who were pretty sure the world wasn’t actually going to end on December 21). Most of this year was not so fantastic for me and I’m having trouble believing that 2013 will be any different, BUT my oh my I am so looking forward to January and some upcoming crafty fun times I have planned.

First, in the Sweater Odyssey group we’re kicking off the new year with a Heidi Kirrmaier KAL. Come join us—you get to knit any adult garment pattern by Heidi, and she has quite a few fantastic patterns. I’m going with Raindance in two shades of Quince and Co Chickadee.

And then, in the Amy Christoffers fanclub, we’re doing a couple of KALs: a Lilac Wine knitalong and a sweater knitalong (similar to the Sweater Odyssey group, just pick a pattern from the designer and go). The Roam Tunic and Stonecutter’s Cardigan I recently posted? Both Amy C patterns. You know you want to.

And THEN, I came across this Crocheted Puff Stitch Scarf and I have to have it. HAVE TO. I’m 99% sure one of my friends is making one for me as a gift, but I think I’m going to need multitudes. So @jacintillating on Twitter and I plotted and schemed a Crochetalong. I mean, can you blame me? This is going to be a blog-based CAL, meaning there’s no place on Ravelry to currently chat about it, but I figure we’ll probably bleed all over the internet—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, maybe even Tumblr, who knows? And I’ll be asking participants for photos to share here on the blog (with links to your own blog if you’re writing about the CAL).


Photo from the Ravelry pattern page

The CAL details:

  • Start hooking on February 1 or later.
  • Finish by March 1 and who knows, there could be a prize.
  • Leave a comment here letting me know you’re planning to participate.
  • Tag project updates on your social media platform of choice (Ravelry, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) with #puffyCAL
  • Have fun and end up with a sweet scarf.

Questions? Please ask! You should know by now that I make most of this crap up as I go.

What are you looking forward to in the new year? Have any big crafting goals in mind?

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Guest Post: Stefanie of Handmade by Stefanie

Today marks the half-way mark through NaBloPoMo and I’m going strong! Mostly thanks to the efforts of some of my bloggy friends and their guest posts. This week in particular has been full of guest posts and today is another one! I’m not actually that lazy, I just let people choose general dates for their posts and this is how it played out. You’ll be stuck with me for the next few days at least!

Today’s guest post comes from Stefanie at Handmade by Stefanie. She has a slew of great ideas for gift crafting, for knitters and crocheters alike! Be sure to check out her new pattern, Lettuce Lattice, as well.


The Mad Dash for Holiday Crafts!

If you’re like me, you have the best of intentions to start your holiday gift knitting, crocheting or shopping early. Unfortunately, life often has other plans, be it a year-long case of startitis, a much-needed indulgence in selfish knitting, or just a hectic work schedule and social life. Thankfully, there are a host of easy-to-make patterns to whip up quickly as the holiday countdown begins. This year, I’m excited to put my new-found crochet skills to work, since I’ve now reached the point in my skills where I can crochet just as quickly as I knit! Below are plenty of projects for crafters of all persuasions. Let the countdown begin!

Toys
What do you get the person who has everything? For me, the answer is often a cute little stuffie in their favorite color! My go-to patterns which can be made in 1-2 days’ time include several Rebecca Danger patterns (Maddox the Mischievous Monster, Chubby Chirps, and Penelope the Empathetic Monster all top my list), Stacey Trock’s crocheted Amigurumi Blue Bird, and my own design, Button Bunnies.


Not sure if your recipient will like a toy? Make them a Sweet Little Owlet keychain – you know they’ll put it to good use!

Small Accessories
Hats, cowls and wristwarmers are gifts that are always appreciated. No need to do any fancy stitchery – usually the simplest pattern is the one that gets the most comments (go figure!). Veera Välimäki’s Little Things hat knits up quickly, even though the pattern calls for fingering-weight yarn – plus, it’s available as a free Ravelry download!

Breean Miller’s Indigo Swan Cowl uses bulky-weight yarn to knit a cowl that is as beautiful as it is warm. Crocheters of all skill levels will love the way Shireen Nadir’s The Mushin Cowl looks when crocheted with a hand-dyed yarn (you only need to know single crochet and double crochet to complete this easy project).


Looking to destash? Elizabeth Trantham’s free Colorful Stripey Fingerless Mitts pattern crochets up quickly using whatever yarns you happen to have on hand. I’m also partial to the Purl Bee’s Colorblock Handwarmers, a free knitting pattern on the Purl Soho blog.

Baby
It seems like everyone I know is expecting a baby in 2013! I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my pre-ordered copy of Rebecca Danger’s Knit a Monster Nursery, which came out just last week. To tide me over, I’ve been working on a quick-knitting baby blanket with one of my favorite yarns, Malabrigo Rios. I just released the pattern, Lettuce Lattice, earlier this week, in fact! This project took just over a month to complete – for a baby blanket, I think that’s relatively quick! It’s pictured with Mr. Nubbins, an easy-to-make toy pattern knit with Malabrigo Rios.

Household
This year, my-go to stocking stuffer (provided I don’t run out of knitting hours, of course!) will be some fancy tea wrapped in a Tea Toter, a free pattern by Julie Tarsha. Coasters, potholders, or place mats are also can’t-miss: there are tons of free patterns to knit or crochet in designs ranging from simple (the Grit Stitch Placemat and Coaster Set by Cult of Crochet) to complex (Heather Zoppetti’s double-knit TPHPE coasters) and even silly (such as the Gobble Coaster and Walk on the Beach Coaster—both crochet patterns are designed by Amber Jones).

Have you started your holiday crafting? Are you crafting gifts this year?

A diversion

I’ve been avoiding knitting lately. I’m just sort of burned out and don’t want to do it. Luckily, I had concocted a plan last year and was finally able to put it into action.

I decided last year that I was going to crochet a blanket for myself as a thirtieth birthday present. The original plan was to work on two squares a month for fifteen months, starting in September, which would give me thirty squares just in time for my birthday in December. That didn’t quite happen.

Birthday blanket squares

(Let’s just agree to ignore the fact that I need to dust that coffee table.)

Luckily, crochet squares go super fast, and so over the last week or so, I’ve churned out fifteen squares, which means I’m half way done. I think I’ll probably just keep on going and finish the squares, and then I can take my time with blocking and stitching them together with the grey yarn I have waiting in the wings.

I’m using crochet block patterns from 200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws, and Afghans. So far I’ve used Wisteria, Tricolor Square (though I made mine with 4 colors), and Granny in the Middle. Fun fact: This is the first time I’ve ever crocheted a Granny square.

I have plans to knit a Whisper Cardigan (Ravelry link) soon as part of a knit-along with some of my knitting friends. I may even attempt to swatch for it this week, but right now, I’m digging the crochet.

A long time coming

This post has been haunting me for a couple of years. I mean, in the way that a goal, idealized and not yet realized, can haunt a person.

Let me back up. I started knitting a little more than three years ago. Two years ago, I decided that I’d be brilliant and knit Christmas gifts for my immediate family. I did everything the ambitious and enthusiastic new knitter does–I chose projects of a variety I’d never done before. I knit my brother a hat, the first hat I’d ever knit, I think, and that one was finished and appreciated on Christmas day (and probably never worn again, as he lives in Florida and well… it’s in the 70s there this week). I knit my dad socks, the first socks I’d ever tried to knit, and the man wears a US 14. They were larger than the cat. I only finished one before Christmas, but I boxed it up and wrapped it and then showed him the other sock, in situ, on the needles and about half-way done.

For my mother, whom I love dearly and find myself becoming more and more like each day (which has both it’s positives and negatives), I decided she needed a blanket. I’d only ever really knit scarves before this point, and what is a blanket except an exceptionally wide and long scarf that you wrap around your body instead of your neck?

I told you, I was new to this game. The hat was finished on time, the socks were finished soon after, and the blanket, while technically finished by Christmas day, was all wrong. Approximately three feet by 7 feet (which really is a wide scarf, so I guess I succeeded in that regard), it was too long and not wide enough to be an effective blanket. But my mother was incredibly excited about it, and so when I told her I’d take it home with me and re-do it, I’m sure she thought it would happen sooner rather than later.

In the great scheme of things, I suppose two years later really isn’t that bad.

Mom's Blanket -- Christmas 2007

The original blanket was knit flat, with panels of alternating stockinette and reverse stockinette stitch. This incarnation is crocheted — 20 single crochet blocks, 45 stitches wide and about 12″ long, stitched together with a single crochet on the back side.

Mom's Blanket -- Christmas 2007

I did one round of double crochet on the edges, after the blocks were stitched together, and then a little ripple effect on top of that to give it a little sass—it’s approximately four feet by five feet of single crochet. It needed some sass.

Mom's Blanket -- Christmas 2007

The yarn is Elizabeth Austen’s Wool of the Andes. I’m fairly certain it’s been discontinued. It was probably about to be discontinued when I bought the initial skeins of yarn, because that’s my luck, so finding more skeins of yarn to finish the blanket was cause for excitement. I now have two more skeins left over, and absolutely no idea what to do with them. Maybe I’ll make a pillow to match.

As an aside, do you have any idea how difficult it is to get a cat to lay where you want her? Anything I don’t want her to lay on, she plops right down on. I ask her politely to be my model and look pretty on my blanket, and nothing doing.

Blanket and Vera

Many treats were devoured in the taking of these photos. My parents’ cats are probably going to hate this blanket—it’s going to smell teasingly of cat treats and Other Cat.

Baby Monkey Hat

Today marks one whole week since this little fellow came into the world and greeted his mom and dad, two of my best friends.

When I got the text that he had been born, I immediately knew that I had to make this hat (Rav link) for him, and I did. That night. In about 3 hours.

IMG_6170

To say this is a quick project is a bit of an understatement. It is crochet, which is faster than knitting, but man. I was not expecting to finish it the same day I started it. The pattern is really easy to follow, and the yarn I worked with is a dream. I’m sorely tempted to make myself an adult-sized hat.

Details
Pattern: Baby monkey hat
Yarn: Valley Yarns Lenox (camel) and Berocco Plush (white)
Hook: 5 mm (US H)
Modifications: not a one.

Lacking any wee ones handy, I had to improvise my modeled shot.

IMG_6175

COMING SOON: Free scarf pattern, with a contest to win yarn to make the scarf; the lace project of DOOM that is finally starting to go my way; panicking about the proximity of the holidays and the lack of fundage/knitting time. Sweet.

Pattern Overload

You know that phrase, “my eyes were bigger than my stomach?” I’m pretty sure my eyes are bigger than my hands, so to speak. Maybe I should say “my knitting needles.”

I feel like I have a million projects to do, and I’m looking forward so very, very much to this weekend, even though it’s not really a “fun” weekend. I’ll be finishing up the final stages of my Westerly move and settling into my very own apartment, just down the street from my friends’ house. I’ll get to have my yarn room (slash “library” slash “office” slash “guest room”) again! My kitty will be able to roam an entire house without worrying about crossing paths with curious dogs (who didn’t mean to frighten her the one time they met) or other cats (she seems to dislike other cats just as a matter of fact). I’ll get to sit in my cozy chair and make a mess in the living room with bits of yarn and pattern books and cat toys strewn about. You know, after I organize the movers and unpack the boxes and put everything away.

Soon, my pretties, soon.

Anyway, I have a number of projects on-deck (all links lead to Ravelry): finishing up my Ishbel (the work-in-progress photography for this shawl is uninspiring, shall we say, and so you will not be seeing it today), finishing up a second Sweet Honey Beret, finishing up some socks (a very kind lady on Ravelry responded to my query regarding some left over Koigu she seemed to have and so hopefully I’ll be able to finish those socks!), test knitting a sock pattern for one friend, test knitting some laceweight yarn for another friend, knitting a baby blanket, and then hopefully designing some patterns that have been percolating in my mind for a few weeks.

Funny how no matter what job I have, I’m always wishing I did not have to work, so I could spend more time knitting. Hm.

Speaking of work, my starteritis was most certainly not helped by the release of the new KnitScene. Once I came across a copy of it, I immediately favorited a lot of the patterns (I’ve somewhat stopped queuing things, as my Ravelry queue makes me feel a bit overwhelmed…).

Melissa Wehrle’s lovely Carnaby Street Pullover, Berkshire Dolman Sweater, and Emerald Isle Cardigan immediately went into the Favorites folder.

Kate Gagnon’s Hollywood Herringbone Pullover is straight-up starlet power, I simply have got to have my own version of Cecily Glowick MacDonald’s Indigo Banded Cardigan, and who doesn’t need their own pair of the comfy looking Freshman Cable Socks from Star Athena?

I’m also fangirling-but-running-out-of-steam-so-you’ll-have-to-look-these-up-for-pictures Robyn Chacula’s Crocheted Co-Ed Vest, Katya Wilsher’s Chevron Trinity Cardigan, Katie Himmelberg’s Maximum Stripe Pullover, and Matthew Gnagy’s Cecile Pullover (which isn’t in Ravelry yet…odd).

I just need about 4 more arms and I should be good to go!