School Spirit Clogs

My son, J, is a freshman at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and loving it. The only downside is that it’s a lot colder than he’s used to.

He has always loved the Felted Clogs that I’ve made him, but had completely worn through his last pair. With his feet getting a bit chilly in his dorm room, he asked me to make him another pair, but in his school colors of blue, yellow, and white, and he also wanted them striped with black soles.

I picked up 2 skeins of black, 1 of white, 1 of goldenrod, and 1 of Kentucky blue Cascade 220 at Tempe Yarn and Fiber, and got to work.

I was a little worried I wouldn’t have enough black, so I did the inner sole with both the black and white yarn, but it turns out I hadn’t needed to worry. The upper I striped with the blue and yellow, each stripe 2 rows long, and the cuff in white. When he came home for Thanksgiving, I felted* them to size.

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I looked at the amount of yarn leftover and thought I might be able to make another pair. So I did.

Instead of stripes, I did blocks of the blue, yellow, and white, but kept the cuff white. The soles are more white than black, too. I did run out of both white and black while knitting, but was able to pull some black Patons Classic Wool and white Knit Picks Wool of the Andes scraps out of my stash to make it work.

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He loves both pairs, and maybe now they’ll last at least through the winter.

*I am aware that these are technically fulled, not felted. However, I’m going with felted because it’s in the name of the pattern, and is what this is commonly called.

Umm… Hi!

True confessions time.

I forgot I had a blog.

I’d been busy getting ready for the holidays, and initially, at the end of the day I’d think, “Oh! I was going to blog about this. Well, I’ll just do it tomorrow.” Eventually, I just forgot about it.

Then I received an email about the blog, so here I am again.

If anyone other than myself is reading this, my apologies.

Enabling, Part II

Shortly after Thanksgiving, I received an email from Paradise Fibers announcing a sale and including a coupon code for free shipping. I’ve been wanting to get some more fiber and decided it wouldn’t hurt to look, so I did.

They have a “Deal of the Day” section on their homepage in which I spied some lovey Ashford Merino/Silk Sliver. I was oh so tempted, but decided to see what else I could find before putting it in my cart.

There were so many beautiful things! I decided to go with fibers from companies I’d heard good things about, but hadn’t yet had an opportunity to try.

The first thing that jumped into my cart was a 4 oz. braid of 75% Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) and 25% silk from Abstract Fibers in the Rhapsody colorway. The blues and purples with just a bit of sheen make my heart sing.

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Then there was the Sweet Georgia Yarns bfl+silk in the ultraviolet colorway. This is a 100 g braid of 75% BFL/ 25% tussah silk blend of absolutely gorgeous purples, continuing the aria in my heart.

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Mountain Colors BFL Roving came next. The colorway is Swift Current and it is 4 oz. of beautiful blues, purples, and greens. And the song goes on.

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I’d only just heard that Malabrigo is now selling fiber (in addition to their fabulous yarns) that they call Nube. This is super soft, 100% Merino sold in 4 oz. braids. Two of their amazing colorways made it into my cart next. First up is Solis — blues and greens with just a touch of white, followed by Persia — shades of blue with a bit of charcoal . Simply stunning.

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Finally, I went back to the Ashford Merino/Silk Sliver that was in the “Deal of the Day” section. There were two colorways: Poppy Seed, which is silver, gray, and just a bit of red, and Gemstone, which is jewel tones of red, green, blue, purple, and white. These were being sold by the ounce, in increments of 4 oz. Rather that try to choose between them, I ended up getting both, 8 oz. of each.

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My heart was performing a full-blown opera by this point.

The only hiccough came when the free shipping code didn’t work during check out. I made a note of it in the “Special Requests” portion of the order form, then followed up with a phone call a couple of days later before everything had shipped. Their customer service was wonderful. The gentleman that I spoke with was very apologetic, and quickly refunded the shipping charge. He then, at my request, went to shipping to find out when my package was to be sent. That day, as it turned out.

Impatiently, and a bit obsessively, I began tracking my package. The holidays have slowed down the postal service, as they took several days to get my package sent from the sorting facility to my destination, and had to change my delivery date to two days later than originally anticipated. It made it here safely, though, and my joy was complete.

Now I just have to decide what to start spinning first.

Enabling

I am making several gifts for Christmas this year. Several people have requested handknits, and I’ve decided to oblige. One of the gifts, a pair of thrummed mittens, required a trip to the yarn/fiber store. Since there isn’t one in my town, that meant a trip to the city.

One of my favorites in the Metro area is Tempe Yarn and Fiber(TYF). They’ve recently opened a sister store named Arizona Yarn and Fiber(AYF), and since I’d not yet been there, it’s where I decided I’d shop.

At both locations you are greeted by a staff member who offers their assistance, but at AYF they also ask if you’ve been there before, and if not, show you around the store so you can more easily find what you’re looking for. They had a good selection of yarn, but a very limited selection of fiber, and nothing in the color I was looking for. So, I headed over to TYF.

Unbeknownst to me, they were hosting a Local Artists Celebration. The store was packed with artisans and customers — there was so much to see! After drooling over everything, and perhaps placing a special order for some fiber, I went and picked up the materials I needed. I got a skein of Cascade 220 in the Christmas Red colorway, and 2 oz. of 100% Merino wool in red. These will make lovely mittens.

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I just couldn’t resist, so a braid of TYF’s Dyelicious Fibers also made it’s way home with me. I cannot find the name of the colorway, but it’s 4 oz. of 100% superwash Merino hand painted with dark purple, blue, and green, medium purple and green, and just a bit of orangey-brown. That last color is a bit outside my comfort zone, but the others are right up my alley. It will be interesting to see how this spins up.

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Also sneaking into my bag was a ball of Schoppel-Wolle Crazy Zauberball in colorway 2133. This 100 gram yarn ball is 459 yards (420 meters) of 75% wool, 25% nylon, 2-ply, marled, blue and green goodness. I’ve been needing some more handknit socks, and this will make a beautiful pair. Or two. Seriously, did you see the yardage?!?

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I hope your shopping is bringing you as much happiness as mine did.

Technique: Tubular Cast-On

For the last 3 months, I have been making hats — so, so many hats. A couple of them have had a rolled stockinette brim, but most have had ribbing that is either 1×1 or 2×2. Now, I think that the rolled brim worked well on the hats that were designed to use it, but I really prefer the look and fit of ribbing.

For a long time, the only cast-on I used was the long-tail cast-on. It worked, but was more noticeable and less stretchy than I really like for cuffs and hats/hat bands. The stretchiness could be improved by casting on very loosely, but I had a harder time keeping it evenly tensioned.

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I heard about the tubular cast-on and gave it a try. This was the cast-on I was looking for — invisible and extremely stretchy for a very polished finished appearance.

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The downside was that it was very easy to twist the stitches when joining in the round, making an accidental möbius edge. After a bit more searching, I’ve discovered that there are multiple versions of this cast-on, and the version I use is probably the easiest to twist. Figures. Having checked the other versions out, it’s still the one I prefer.

This is the version I prefer (Only the first 7 minutes is 1×1 rib).

This is the long-tail version.

This is the waste yarn version.

Another version.

More recently, I learned the long-tail cast-on that is more like ribbing and has a bit more stretch, but it’s still noticeable in the final project. That makes this a cast-on I won’t be using much. It is fabulous for new knitters, though. I recently taught someone to knit who wanted to make hats and they absolutely prefer this for their projects.

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Bottom line, the tubular cast-on is the one I will always go to first for ribbed edges.

Yarn Review: Serenity Chunky Weight

I’m doing a lot of Christmas knitting this year. One of the people I’m knitting for has very sensitive skin, and seems to be allergic to almost everything. She also needs her things to be machine washable. For her gift, I went in search of a very soft, acrylic yarn, and found it in Premier Yarns Serenity Chunky Weight from the Deborah Norville Collection.

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This yarn is a bulky, two-ply, 100% acrylic, machine wash and dry. It comes in a 100 gram/3.5 oz ball which has 100 meters/109 yards. Included on the ball band is a free pattern (mine had the Crocheted Criss-Cross Afghan by Vicki Blizzard). It is also extremely soft — in the ball, while working with it, and in the final project.

I purchased 5 balls in the “Seven Seas” colorway at JoAnn, to make a winter basics set of hat, scarf, and mittens. Using the recommended US 11 (8mm) needles for the hat and scarf, and switching down to US 10.5 (6.5mm) needles for the mittens, I was able to complete everything using only 4 balls of the yarn.

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It has been my experience that even the softest acrylic yarns get a bit plastic-y feeling, slightly scratchy and squeaky, after working with them for a while, and long before the project is finished. This did not happen with this yarn. It was delightful to work with from start to finish, with one exception: knots.

3 of the 4 balls that I worked with had knots in them. This seems to me to be an unusually high percentage to be considered acceptable, and I don’t know if the company is aware of the issue. I find it unacceptable to leave the knots in, so this necessitated my cutting them out and rejoining the yarn, which meant more ends that had to be woven in. I do hope they are aware, and that the issue is corrected, because it is an otherwise lovely yarn to work with.

I washed the finished projects on normal wash cycle with warm water, and tumble dried on the medium (permanent press) setting, and they came through very well, with a slight halo.

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Overall, I would recommend this yarn. It knits up quickly, is pleasant to work with, and at only $3.99/ball, is a great value.

The “OMB! I WON!” Shawl

As I mentioned in my last post, I listen to a lot of podcasts, one of which is the High Fiber Diet. Many podcasts run giveaways, and this one is no exception.

On November 4, a copy of the Aila Grace Shawl, designed and donated by Boston Jen, host of the Down Cellar Studio Podcast, was put up for a giveaway on The High Fiber Diet Podcast. To enter you had to answer the question “What yarn would you use to make this shawl?”

The pattern calls for 400 yards of fingering weight yarn, so I answered that I’d use the Alaskan Yarn Co. Sock Yarn in the “Fireweed” colorway that I picked up on my trip to Alaska at A Flyin’ Skein in Seward.

When I heard my name was drawn, I thought, “Wait, what? Was that my name?” (Rewind and re-listen) “OMB! It was! But… But… I never win!”

I was extremely excited.

When I told my dh I’d won, he said, “That’s great! You like to knit shawls.”

Yes. Yes, I do.

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The pattern is charted, but the chart is unlike any other that I’ve ever used. It’s a bit like a spreadsheet, with directions for every row written out (no symbols), and is always read from left to right. All this makes it very easy to follow for all skill levels.

The shawl itself was a quick and easy knit. There are several pattern sections which include stockinette, garter, eyelet, and textured stitch sections. The result is a very pretty shawl. I did end up using most of my skein of yarn — I’d estimate that I had less than 20 yards left. Although this wasn’t a problem for me (actually, I thought it a good thing), be sure to check your gauge so you know you’ll have enough yarn.

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Before blocking, it looked like it was going to be more of a shawlette size, but oh how it grew! To preserve the garter sections, I placed blocking wires and pins in as a stop to prevent over stretching. The stockinette, eyelets, and textured stitches were blocked fairly aggressively to achieve the look I liked.

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I would definitely recommend this pattern, and the shawl would make a lovely gift.

Crafting a life, one stitch at a time.