Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Company Review - Paradise Fibers

Let me start by saying that I am in no way connected to Paradise Fibers other than being a regular customer. I was searching online for a quality source of roving when I first started spinning and their name came up in many of the online communities. I have consistently used them as my first stop when shopping for spinning supplies.

I get a monthly newsletter emailed to me with their sales, specials and offers. Love it! I didn't know they had such a nice selection of knitting and weaving supplies too. Well, in one of their newsletters they asked for bloggers to help get their name out by becoming an affiliate. I had no clue what that was but since I have had a great experience with them so far I looked in to it.

When you become an affiliate you just put their code on your blog and when people click through to shop and eventually buy something you get credit in the form of a discount on your next purchase. It reminded me of something like a "refer a friend" policy.

So if you're in the market to buy some yarn, roving, knitting, spinning or weaving supplies go ahead and shop thru my link if you don't mind. I would love to stock up on some yarn . . .

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Organized - Home & Online

Today is a dreary day with flurries here and there and a mix of icy wind. My husband is overseas again for work with a 7 hour time difference between us. I'm trying to get work done and putter around the house at the same time. It's very hard to stay motivated.

I made a list. I have lots of lists actually and they're super helpful when I'm overwhelmed. Today's list is stuff I'd like to get done before he comes home. My favorite list is all of the projects that I already own the yarn for. Years and years of happiness right there my friend!

All this puttering made me realize that I'm not using Ravelry to it's fullest potential. Their queue is good for storing patterns but did you know that you can print a shopping list based on your queue? Man - that made my day when I found that little button. Next time my LYS is having a sale I can just print my list and go. I will be completely prepared with my customized list!

In order to have this handy dandy list you have to enter in the yarn that you already own with the corresponding project. That took some time. I've got a little stash of lace weights started and I wasn't sure if I had enough patterns to match (I do). I also have several patterns in mind for some special yarn that I'm saving - I was able to group those together so when I'm ready to make a decision I can quickly have all of my choices in one place.

The last thing I did was enter useful information in the notes section. Things like "sweater possibility for Dad" or "3 color choices for this pattern" will be helpful in the future. I made a discovery while doing this part - I have several cabled sweaters saved for myself and I have yet to knit myself a sweater. That's something I'll have to remedy!

This is just one tiny section of Ravelry (if you're in Ravelry already check you can see what I was talking about in my queue). I can't tell you how many times I've used the pattern browser or how many times I've looked at other peoples projects to see what they made with a particular yarn that's been sitting in my stash. Such a good website to have as a resource . . .

If you haven't discovered it yet go ahead and take the leap to put your name on the waiting list right now. I've heard that the invites are just flying now. This is still a beta site but I can't imagine how cool it's going to be once they open it up fully.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Almost Finished

I finished knitting and seaming and weaving in the ends for the Pea Pod sweater last night. No pictures because my mother took it home with her to find the perfect buttons. She's going to sew them on sometime this week - I'm so happy that I'm not doing that. Seaming and sewing buttons are not my strengths.

I've got the matching hat started and now I'm looking for cute bootie patterns on Ravelry. I've got a ton of Knit Picks Shine Worsted left so I'm going to see what else I can make this week to match.

In related knitting news I'm due to get another charity baby blanket from the Knitting Help forums to work on this week. It's a Patriotic themed blanket this time and I think I might already have the yarn in the right color. If not - I've got 2 coupons for Micheal's and I heard they're having a good sale this week. I'm planning to go there to shop on Thursday anyway just to stock up on some yarn for charity projects.

My husband and I stopped by there on Saturday to pick up something small. I hope to have a large gift card coming to me this summer so I was trying to see if it would be better to use it in the store or just order what I need online. I have to say - my local store doesn't really have much in terms of needles and supplies. A little disappointing but all the more reason to visit my local yarn shops I guess!

Friday, January 18, 2008

GAAA Preparation

I am almost finished with the second sleeve of my Pea Pod sweater and hope to be finished completely with the project in about a week or so. I've already decided to try to finish up my lace Glorianna scarf next. I'm at least half way done with that and it shouldn't take long to finish that. Then I will have nothing on the needles . . .

That's just scary. Once I finished a project, had nothing else on needles and it took me several days to come up with the next project. It was agonizing to be stuck in such a limbo with myself. Work on this or that? Indecision kills me every time!

So in preparation for the next-next project to cast on I decided to work a square from The Great American Aran Afghan (KAL link) since it is one of my 2008 resolutions to finish it this year. I can't remember which one I picked but this afternoon I photo copied the chart page and turned it from this:

To this:

Isn't it beautiful? So organized and clearly labeled! So easy to see which cable to use with just a glance! I learned this trick from ArtLady over at KnittingHelp and I'm sure many other people do this as well. I started color coding my cable charts for the Aran Sweater that I made and now I'm completely hooked! I've probably even talked about it here before but I don't care - it helped me so much that it bears repeating.

My personal technique is to use matching colors for similar stitches. For example, 2 of the cables are worked over only 3 stitches so I chose red and blue. For another set I used green and gold. For the last set I ran out of matching colors (my colored pencils set is missing a few) so I choose pink and brown because they greatly contrasted each other. It doesn't really matter what colors you use as long as there's a way to make them significant enough for you to remember which symbol they're for.

I may be getting ahead of myself but I'm excited to cast on another GAAA square. I thought about color coding the lace charts as I start to get into more complicated patterns. I'm not ready to work those yet but when I am this should definitely help.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Pea Pod Sweater - The Sequel

I haven't been blogging much lately because I'm working on my second Pea Pod Sweater Set. Normally I would post in progress pictures but it's the same pattern using the same color as I did before. Not very exciting to blog about. I am glad that I printed out the pattern though because the link on Interweave Press isn't working anymore.

My mother saw the first one that I made for our friends and she loved it so much she wanted the same exact set for a friend of hers. She ordered the yarn and I started knitting on Tuesday, January 8th. I've got the body of the sweater done and I should finish the first sleeve tonight:

It's definitely much faster the second time around. I'm not over thinking the pattern and just going with the flow. It's given me time to think about my projects for the year and I just recently picked out the next GAAA square that I'd like to work on. I'm leaning towards working on a square and then alternating with the lace scarf - but then again I'm also leaning towards finishing the scarf before I start the square. It will probably come down to how ambitious I'm feeling when I finally finish this Pea Pod set.

The fun thing about knitting this with the same color yarn is that I always order more than what I think I'll need just in case. Now I'll have several balls left over that I can make into something else. Not sure if the dye lots are too different from each other but I'm going to start looking around in Ravelry to see what I can find.

Monday, January 7, 2008

What's on the Needles?

Now that the holidays are over I'm taking a step back to prioritize my projects. First I finished all projects that were on needles at the time except for the beautiful Glorianna:

My husband got a few new games for his xbox 360 so after we put our son to bed he plays his games while I knit lace. This scarf is going to be beautiful. The colors in this yarn are very appealing to me - sometimes it's more of a dark red, sometimes it's a burnt sienna with varying specs. It's been nice to knit.

Lace knitting in general is so much more enjoyable when you use sticky notes and something to hold the pattern. It makes it very easy to see where I'm at in the pattern and quickly count if I think I made a mistake.

Oh yeah, I'm not using lifelines either. I'm living on the edge baby!

A weird thing happened during the Christmas week. My in-laws gave me a Knifty Knitter set for Christmas and I never would have thought that I would like it. It's very addicting. As a family we decided to make afghans for our local Project Linus chapters and everyone loved their Knifty Knitters so it wouldn't have looked right if my squares were knit regularly. Here's my three squares so far:

Since we bought worsted weight yarn we decided to use two strands since it technically looks better with the chunky weights. They turned out very nice. We plan to seam them all up into afghans at our next family get together in May. Here's a close up of the stitches:

I will say that the first night I tried it I felt like I was cheating. Such a guilty feeling came over me and my Mother-in-law shared that she felt the same way when she first learned how to machine quilt. It's all about different techniques for different projects. Now I really like my Knifty Knitter and I'll use it once and a while to crank out a few squares for our family charity projects. It's absolute mindless knitting - right on the same level as a garter stitch scarf. So relaxing . . .

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Finished Object - Boa Tube Scarf

It makes perfect sense to me that my first completed project for this year is an unplanned replacement gift. A year or two back I make a Fun Fur scarf for my Mother just for fun and she loved it. It's knit in the round so you have a wonderful, lush, tube boa scarf that's very sturdy and a bit warm too.

Anyway, they were visiting for the holiday and my son happened to rip a big hole in it while they were playing outside. That afternoon I went to my local AC Moore and picked up 2 balls of the same vibrant blue color and got knitting. It took me about 4 nights to complete but overall I think it's a very quick project.

The nice thing about these scarves is that you can't even see the hole yet. It's probably unraveling now but with the Fun Fur it's completely hidden. She's wearing it until the next time we see each other and I can give her the replacement scarf. Her damaged one will most likely make it to some lucky girls dress up box!

Pattern: My Own (brace yourself - it's super difficult!)
Yarn: Lion Brand Fun Fur
Needles: US size 10 DPNs
Time Frame: 4 nights of knitting during the holiday blur

Project Note: I've noticed that there's a ton of knitters that despise knitting with novelty yarns like Fun Fur. I love using it for these types of projects. Stores like Michael's, Jo Ann's and AC Moore will often discount Fun Fur heavily and you can pick up several at a great price. I'll stock up whenever I can and then I've got a great present for a niece or little girl that likes dressing up. It's sturdy and doesn't shed - unlike store bought boas with feathers (trust me on this).