Thursday, December 30, 2010

{2010 In Pictures}

I've been quite the productive knitter this past year!  With the help of picasa, I've pulled together a collage of (most of) my projects completed during 2010. 

(just for fun, here's last year's collage for comparison's sake)

I've made a lot of progress this year!  I think  2009 was decidedly the year of hats, but this year I can't really put a label to it.  I knitted more kids' sweaters, venturing in to top down raglan designs, fair isle, as well as pieces knit separately and seamed.  I knit a lot more lace this year, including 4 shawls, as well as a couple pairs of lace socks.  I did a couple pairs of mittens this year, both fingerless and with fingers, which I'm planning on doing more of very shortly.  It was a good year!

In the new year, I'd like to do more sweaters for me and try to knit more for me.  It's amazing how much of what's above I've kept for myself.  7 of the items above are still with me ( and three of those are toques).  I'm still working on melding what I like to wear with what I like to knit, ya know?   I want to knit more socks, for sure.  But my main goal I think is to knit more in a finer gauge.  I think I'm happier with projects when I do, and my knitting is certainly teaching me patience.   Maybe there's a fingering-weight sweater in my not-too-distant future. :)

What about you guys? What are your knitting / crafting goals for 2011?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

{The Christmas Haul}

Hi folks!  I hope your breaks are all going just lovely.  Did you have a good Christmas?  Mine was really wonderful over here. We had snow on christmas eve and then a little more on christmas day, which was just beautiful.  Not very much... just a couple of inches, but I'll take it. :)

I had a very fibery Christmas, too!  My mom bought me some GORGEOUS hand spun undyed alpaca from a little farm back home.  The alpacas name is Hamlet. hehe Any suggestions on what to knit from this?  I really don't know the yardage, and it varies from bulky in some spots to more like dk in others.  Maybe a cowl of some kind? Where on Ravelry would I search for patterns that are good for hand spun yarn?

The Mr. Pie bought me some yarn I've had my eye on for a long time now!  It's 100% cotton Color Changing Yarn from Wolle's Yarn Creations on Etsy.

It's really neat yarn and I LOVE the colours.  It's made up of 4 very small threads and the colour changes happen by changing one thread at a time to the new colour.  Pretty cool.  What I'm not a huge fan of is that the yarn isn't plied, which is kind of strange, and they just kinda tie in the new colour so you end up knitting with 6 threads for a little bit and you have ends to snip off.   I'm super excited about this one and knew immediately what I would cast on - the Lace Christmas Rose scarf by Susann Hajjar.   

What I love about this pattern is how there are so many different lace patterns, but they all blend so beautifully in to one another.  It's very fluid.  You can see I chose to knit green on the ends and it'll be the light tan colour in the middle.  I love waiting to see when the changes will come!  It's exciting knitting.  Also, I never get bored of the lace pattern, which is my typical problem with these long lace scarves.  I just finished the first of 6 sections! 15% done!

The first pictures of well received Christmas gifts are trickling in, too.  Here's one of my baby niece and god-daughter Alora in her new sweater (the baby body armor) and the tutu her Great-Grandpa bought her. Oh my goodness it's WAY too cute!

The sweater fits nice! The arms were a tad long, but my sister just rolled them up for her.  I suppose they could be rolled down if her hands are cold.  And the cables look great!  At first my sister didn't think it would fit but it's way way stretchy!  I'm calling this one a success.  I hope I get other photos of my knitting being worn and loved!  The pictures mean so much to me because I spend so long wondering how my creations will fit and if the recipient will love it and wear it.

I also finished a project over Christmas!  Mr. Pie's socks that I was knitting out of a great dark green Araucania wool yarn.

This was a another pattern out of the Toe Up Socks book that I got for Christmas last year. I think it's my third or fourth one!  I'm thinking the other books might be coming my way soon!  I had a TON Of this yarn left over because after my last incident where I ran out of yarn, I was wary of it happening again.  Mr. Pie bought me my very own yarn scale though, so never again! YAY!

Did you guys get as spoiled as I did this Christmas?  Do you have snow where you are?  I have one week of vacation left, and I intend to knit my heart out! :D

Thursday, December 23, 2010

{My Swap Package!!}

YAY!! It's finally here!!  Laura Jane is from Needles, Pins and Baking Tins blog.  I can't remember if I found her or if she found me, but once I read her site I was hooked!  She's more of a quilter turned crochet/knitter and I'm a knitter trying to do some quilting.  She also has the EXACT same sewing machine that I have! How cool is that??  We're also both math type people, which is cool to find. :) Totally kindred spirits!

So of course, one thing lead to another and we began emailing back and forth.  The idea of a swap was brought up and I jumped at the chance!  I love swapping with my international friends. :)   We set a deadline for sending out our packages on December 1st.  Mine somehow got to her at lightening speed and she wrote about it here , and for some other random reason mine took until today to get here!  And let me tell you... it was WELL worth the wait.  I've totally been spoiled!

I was impatient and didn't take a picture of the pretty box!  You can see Popeye climbed in the pretty stripey paper instantly. hehe  The yarn was all wrapped up in some some CUTE reindeer paper and there were hand written notes!!  I love a great hand written note. hehe

Oh my goodness there are SO MANY yummy goodies in this box!!  I'll save the yarn to show you last. ;)

The food yummies here are some Jammie Dodgers (these are them, Laura Jane! YAY!), some mince meat pies!! Oh my goodness oh my goodnesssssss! The real ones!  These will be going in the oven one by one!! for just ME! And some HP sauce for Mr. Pie to eat on his Bacon Sarnies. hehe

Then there's a VERY cute recipe book ( which I can't wait to delve in to) from a British magazine, some Twinings tea that I don't recognize the name of (very cool), some GREAT lipton teas, a few candies, which are so much fun, and the felt hearts are on my tree!

Some traditional marmalade, orange and strawberry, then finally some awesome scraps of fabric to start building up my stash!  Even some from Laura Jane's baby blanket that her mom made her way back when!  It's these personal details that make swaps the best thing on the entire planet.  I could not be more excited about all of these things!!

Then... The yarn.  Does this face say it all?

There are two balls of Sirdar Eco Wool, 100% undyed virgin wool.   It is soooo much softer than you think it might be.  I LOVE this! I think I could buy undyed for absolutely everything and I'd be perfectly happy. 

Laura Jane sent two balls of Debbie Bliss Aran Tweed that are to DIE for!   I hadn't had a chance to knit in a tweed yet but I've been chomping at the bit! This dark brown is just so incredibly lovely:

Then finally.... an absolutely gorgeous skein of recycled Sari yarn!  I'd heard of it before but I had never seen it in person!  The shine this yarn has is stunning.  I already have a project brewing for this one!

So Laura Jane, in response to your comments about me spoiling you and going over board -  I think I got the better end of this deal! hehe  You asked for less expensive yarn than I did for sure!  I can not wait to get knitting with these and testing all my yummy goodies! Thank you so much, Laura Jane!  This was an excellent Christmas Eve Eve surprise!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

{A Finished Sweater}

This pattern, The Opulent Raglan, has proven to me that top down seamless raglan sweaters are all I ever want to knit for myself. Ever.

This beauty came together in 5 days.  FIVE DAYS!  It is aran yarn on size 8's, but still.  I just LOVED knitting it.  I tried it on every step of the way to make sure the waist shaping was right and the decreases in the arm were working for me. 

You may notice that it's missing the puffy arm thing ( I wanted to be able to wear this sweater without dragging the arm in my soup. hehe) and I also made it a touch shorter than in the pattern photo.  I like this length on me that just brushes the top of my hips because I think it's flattering.

The edge detailing used in the pattern is really pretty.  You knit your desired length and then knit a purl row, then knit in stockinette for about inch or so.  The material naturally folds at the purl row and you can tack the inch of stockinette under like a hem.  It's so pretty on the bottom and on the arms.

And the yarn... Lord have mercy the yarn.... it is Heaven. Sundara Silky Merino, 50% silk, 50% merino wool, and it is so incredibly warm and soft.  I can't stop touching my sweater!  It's a single ply, which from what I hear will pill, so I have to be careful about shaving it when it does.  I also haven't blocked it yet, which I'm scared to do because at $32 a skein this sweater is worth over $100 in yarn alone.  I'm so SO lucky that my friend Hope gifted me this yarn!  It's SO gorgeous and I certainly don't feel worthy!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

{11 Days Until Christmas!}

and my last gifts are in the mail! So how do I celebrate?  I sew a new bag for ME!  The idea struck when I surfed in to these directions at New Green Mama. Fantastic full tutorial with a TON of pictures!  I had been pondering what to do with the rest of the fabric I bought for the treeskirt and this pattern totally fit the bill!

It's about 12" x 14" wide and the size is perfect for a math textbook and a notebook, plus pencils and erasers and stuff.  There's two pockets, little square one and the one that's the whole width on the solid red side.  And did you notice it's fully reversible?  I love it! Thank you Green Mama for the pattern!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

{The Perfect Sunday}

The perfect Sunday began by sleeping in WAY later than normal (like 8 o'clock people. It's unnatural for me), then a pancake breakfast!  Shortly after, with a cup of hot chai in hand, I began my final exam for International Politics class.  2 1/2 hours plus 8 pages type written later, I was finished with the whole day ahead of me!

Mr. Pie and I made a quick grocery store run and I came back to chat with two of my favorite people ever - Jenny and Anna - on Skype.   (do you Skype?  I kinda heart it hard.)  Then as the sun was going down the Christmassy Spirit arose!  We made bread bowls from scratch and some clam chowder to go in them for dinner, plus homemade eggnog for dessert.  SO easy and SO SO SO much better than store bought eggnog!

Bing Crosby went straight in to the cd player and some tree decorating begun!!

It was really hard to get a good picture of the tree, so it looks kinda bare. I'll try again tomorrow in the natural light, I promise. Here's a few of our favorite ornaments and our angel topper too. :)

I also have an FO to show you!! How exciting is that?  Mr. Pie asked for a balaclava to wear to work next week since it's going to be in the teens in the early morning and he'll be working outside (!!!) so of course I was happy to oblige.  I pulled out some cascade pastaza, which is 50% wool and 50% llama, VERY warm!

This is a super simple knit, just a 2x2 rib, I cast on 88 stitches and knit it in the round until it was long enough to cover his nose.  I cast off about 32 stitches, knit two rows back and forth, then used the backward loop method to cast the 32 back on.  From there I did about an inch and a half of rib then switched to stockinette so that the decreases were easier.  I knit 6, knit 2 together, all the way around, knit one row straight, then knit 5 knit two together all the way across, etc. 

I ran out of yarn so close to the end that you may notice the very tippy top is a slightly mixed green. hehe I think it's kinda cute!  This knit will certainly be super warm and functional.  That's one of my favorite parts of knitting I think, just knowing the things I create help keep my loved ones warm and cozy. :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

{ I Sewed A Tree Skirt!}

This afternoon, after a long day of shopping in the big city of Roanoke, Mr. Pie and I stopped at our favorite locally owned tree dealer to pick up our Christmas tree!  She's a beauty!

Oh my goodness! What's that wrapping delicately around the base of our tree? 

Well well well.  That's the new tree skirt I sewed ALL BY MYSELF!   Yep, you read that right!  Isn't that fabric to die for?    I absolutely adore it!  The tree skirt reversible too with a solid red linen texture fabric that's just as gorgeous!  Both fabrics were bought at on Black Friday when they were 50% off, so with shipping two yards of each was $36.  Mr. Pie also bought me the pretty red thread and some new heavy-weight needles for my sewing machine.  I got to figure out how to install new needles! hehehe

I'll be the first to admit that it isn't perfect, but I love it.  This tree skirt is just the kind of project that I like - simple and beautiful.  Nothing fancy, just two doughnut shaped fabric sewed together with some ties to close it up.   This is also the first time I've had to sew circles!

What do you think?  Can you tell I'm happy as a clam and proud as a peach?? :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

{More Frogging than Knitting}

I'm not traditionally a frogger.  I loathe the idea of undoing hours of time and work and starting from the beginning, so instead I usually try to make do.  But I tried on my bottom-up sweater only to find that it was about 6" too large in the waist for me, which isn't really fixable, so two skeins of Sundara Silky Merino made their way back in to cakes and I recast on for a much smaller size.  This yarn is just too good to not wear when my V-Neck sweater is complete! The frogging had an added bonus of allowing me a second chance at the cast on since I found it was rolling something terrible.  I restarted with an I-Cord cast on instead of a few rows of garder.  It took two days to do, but I really like the result.  I'll talk more about the project when I'm a little farther along and have something to show you.

I have had significantly more success in doing small projects around the house!  I found the inspiration for this 5 minute project on Design Sponge where they wrapped yarn around balls to create their snowmen, but when I first saw it I just thought it was stacked cakes!  So that's what I did! 

The buttons are just attacked with two stick pins and the arms are tiny twigs.  It was just what I was looking for in my display!  I love the textures beside each other (cotton, wool and linen) plus the slightly different cream colours and fun too.

Mr. Pie and I also made our second annual Gingerbread House!  We had such fun last year that we decided to give it another go. 

We struggled with our dough in the morning and by the afternoon I'd become so frustrated I ditched it for a kit from the grocery store.  I like the simplicity of just putting it together and decorating it, but it lacks personality I think. So next year the secret will be to refrigerate the HECK out of the gingerbread dough so it's not sticky.

 And we got our first snowfall this weekend!  Always an exciting time!  We took the opportunity to do a teensy bit of baking. What you see are some chocolate covered almost and pecans setting in the cold because the cutting board didn't fit in the fridge. hehe 

They were super easy - just melt some chocolate chips in a double boiler (or a metal bowl and a regular soup pot, as it was in our case) and then toss the nuts in the chocolate until you feel like you've got them covered without too much chocolate left over, them spoon them on to some wax paper and allow them to cool. We were a bit impatient. hehe

I hope your December is coming along as nicely as ours is here!  The final projects for the semester have been turned in, but that hardly means I'm done.  I have two big final exams coming up that will be the bain of my existence for about the next week or so.  Wish me luck!