Monday, May 30, 2011

Some FOs

I have been busy doing something I'd been putting off. I'm making my demo reel and preparing to start applying for jobs later this week. I need to do it, and I need to get a job, but that doesn't make it any more fun. I'm waiting on an email from a former employer right now, hoping to get some old work.
I don't like applying for jobs. I know it's not how it works, but I want to just be given a day or two to show them how hard a worker I am! They can call my references, they'll tell them I'm a good employee. I don't mind working really hard at a job- but I'm intimidated by the work that goes into applying for jobs. Walking into a place and handing over my work is scary!
But it needs to be done. Hopefully I'll have done all my applying by the end of the week. Even better would be having a job in the next two weeks. Fingers crossed.

I have been crocheting still. I need something to relax me- and while I'm waiting to hear from my old job, there's not much else I can do. My resume is in order, my reel is just waiting to have the work dropped in.
I finished these socks last week. The first one was a pain, the second was relatively easy. I made changes between them- the second one, on the right, has a nicer heel because I figured out crochet stockinette worked flat. The heel uppers on both need to get changed next time- I worked sc for height, but it would have been much nicer in stockinette. Next time! I also need to remember that ankles will stretch and I should work them tighter than I think I need to. They're still really comfy and cute though!
Once I finish my current project (the stockinette one) I will be starting in on a pair of knee-highs. They'll have this plain foot base, then I'll start in on a pattern from a different pair on the ankle. I'm excited!

I made this shawl mostly while my nephew was here in the mornings when he and my sister in law were sleeping off the jet lag (by the way, I have the cutest nephew in the world, just thought you should know!).(the sweetest guy in the world wearing a hat and booties made by his auntie!)

Finished it in a week and have been really loving it. I will definitely make another in just one solid yarn- I don't totally love the combination of the two yarns here, and it really doesn't help that one is lace and the other is fingering weight!
Speaking of shawls, my Nana seemed to like hers. She wore it all weekend and thanked me for it, which is about all I needed! I'm happy.

This was what I finished the day after I finished the socks. I'm loving this shirt! It's a mysterious cotton blend- I'm thinking cotton/acrylic. It feels nice and soft and drapey and has a great sheen to it that I need to get a picture of. It's like a thin band of mercerized cotton twisted with something matte, and the yarn is almost ribbon like.
The shirt is great. I want to add more to the bottom band, but otherwise I'm pleased. It has a tendency to slide off my shoulder, but it ends up looking really cute. It's just really comfy and a nice addition to a simple tank top.

Alright, back to my stockinette top- almost finished the back. Then it'll be just the sleeves left. Yay!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Crochet Stockinette

ETA: since this post, I have begun working on my crochet stockinette in a different way.
Check more out here

I always thought that it must be somehow possible to crochet something like stockinette. Something flat, non-holey, with a little stretch, just simple, plain looking fabric no thicker or denser than the yarn. I've been trying lots of things- different stitches, hooks, etc. I wasn't having a huge amount of luck until yesterday.
Now I knew that sl st flo worked in the round gave you a nice flat even stockinette-like fabric. My favorite sock pattern ever, Smoothie Socks (trust me, you won't be disappointed with how they feel!) uses that as part of it's awesomeness. What I didn't know was how to work it flat. Working flo then blo on the ws made ridges. I tried working the right loop from behind- no dice. Turning just wasn't an option.
Then suddenly it clicked- don't turn.I'm starting a project (who's pattern I may release soon!) and it's awesome. Soft and smooth, light and only as thick as the yarn itself. It's a little bit slow going, but it's so, so worth it. And I doubt it's any slower than normal stockinette (and way faster than learning to knit good stockinette!).
I was debating on showing the process before I release my pattern, but honestly, I'm pretty excited and want to share!

The Process
Chain as many stitches as you'd like (10 was a pretty good swatch) plus one.
Sl st into the second ch and across, working the top loop only.

Here's where it gets a bit interesting. Don't turn. Chain one (from here on in, when you chain at the end of the row, pull it tight. You don't need the height, just the separation from the other stitch). Find the front loop of the stitch to the right of your hook.
(If you have trouble finding the first stitch, don't worry. You can try a stitch marker, holding it differently, etc. As long as the hook goes through from the rs and you hold the fabric that way when you work, it'll be fine!)
Insert the hook into the front loop only of the stitch to the right of your hook.

Turn your hook upside down
With your upside down hook, grab the yarn.

Pull the yarn through the two loops on your hook. Twisting it upwards as you go can help. Work loose!

Work across the row, front loops only. Count every stitch while you get used to this pattern. When you get to the end, ch 1, pull tight, don't turn. Start working in the stitches to the left of your hook. Continue as needed.

Decreases in sl st can be worked as normal- to increase, work first the front loop then the back loop, or both loops together then the front, etc.

(Please let me know if you have any questions or could use more photos or a video!)

ETA: One more note- I find my starting chain tends to be too loose. Try it yourself and see, but don't go as loose as you normally would.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Some Pretties and a Lull

Look, I made some more yarn! I'm starting to get more even. I turned that one into a ball of heavy worsted. Now I'm working on more- this time I'm getting somewhere between lace and fingering/sport on the single. More even- not perfect, but a definite improvement.
I've also finally been able to draft and spin at the same time- no more park 'n' draft for me! I feel like a wizard. Tonight Andrew was just sitting and watching me work. I'm starting to kinda look like I know what I'm doing.

I finally finished the shawl for my Nana. Isn't it just gorgeous?
I think I'm gonna make one for myself- but I'll make it out of my own yarn once I can spin well enough. Pink, definitely. I need more floaty soft dreamy pink shawls.
I'm really pleased with how it turned out. It felt like it took forever, and I cut it close with the yarn. I had maybe 20 yards left- and I was guessing from a whole repeat of leaves how much I would need. Phew. I would never have pulled it all out and it looks much nicer with the full edging.
When I pinned it out to block, Andrew looked at it. His first comment was that it looked like a bird- he's right! It did look like it could take off. Then he said "Wow, no wonder it took you so long! That pattern is so intricate- it looks great. You did a really good job."
Talk about the right thing to say!

I will probably be away from blog for the next few weeks. I'll be staying with my brother and his wife and my little nephew at the hotel this week. They've asked me since he'll be working long hours and they will be really jet lagged. I get to help with the baby! I can't wait to meet him. Then it's Pop's 90th birthday weekend with a lot of great relatives and after that, more different relatives- everyone wants to meet the baby. I'm excited, I really love my family.

So, I will be away from the computer awhile! Don't cry too much without me...

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Dark Side

Meet my first yarn.
Ok, not the first yarn I've ever had, or used or anything like that. This is the first yarn I've ever spun.
Oh yeah, that's right. I've gone to the dark side.

Last night I went out to a pub event. My friend Gabe came along with her spindles and a promise to teach me.
Today I went out and got myself some awesome fluffiness and a spindle of my own.

The super thick white rope stuff is what I made last night- after my first little teeny bit. It's from roving I got ages ago before I knew what that meant. Using it all makes a nice, even and very thick yarn, which was kinda nice as a beginner.
(The pink is my latest attempt- just a little bit to try and get something more like sport weight.)

Today I started in with some of my plain white yarn (below). My results were not so awesome, and it turned out underspun in many areas, overspun in others and generally just meh. I mean, not too surprising for a first attempt, but still.

Then I learned an important lesson- my couch sucks. Ok, I knew that. But it sucks in ways that make spinning a lot harder. See, it sinks. I can't get any height, which means I couldn't get my spindle spinning properly. My attempt with the pink yarn, sitting at my (pink!) desk chair was much better. I felt like a wizard :D

Still, it's totally awesome to be starting a project with yarn I made, even if it sucks.
Maybe I'll just felt this one :)

In other news, I made the fluffiest sweater ever. I went past a Zellers on Monday, and decided to stop in. You know, tempt my willpower. But then they had this Bernat Pipsqueak in mill end bags. I have no willpower. I do have this, a lot of buttons and some soft, fluffy yummy acrylic mohair.
The sweater worked up really quickly. It's thick and warm- it actually makes a great spring jacket.
It also makes me a hug magnet. I went out last night and made everyone pet my soft jacket. I love this thing. Oh jacket. You are gonna get so much wear.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Presents in the Mail and WIPs

Isn't it cute? This is the little owl hat I made for my nephew. He'll be in town in less than a week. I CAN'T WAIT! I finally get to meet him! I keep making baby noises whenever I talk about him. My boyfriend has been laughing at me a lot, in totally unrelated news.

I got a present today in the mail!
The doorbell rang and I plodded downstairs in my pj's, only to find the mail carrier holding my package from ebay! My very own swift! EEEEEE!
I also got a set of bamboo crochet hooks. Aren't they pretty? They're so pretty!

So of course I had to cake up some yarns I'd been avoiding winding. The brown ball on top is the same as what I've been using for a shawl for my Nana. Winding it on the ball winder without the swift took me almost a freakin' hour. With the swift? Pfff, not ten minutes.
In the background sits something else that I wouldn't have thought of winding without a swift- an indecent amount of laceweight from Habu. Seriously, without a swift, winding that would have been HOURS of torture. Maybe days. With a swift, I still think it'll be getting into at least an hour. Heeheeheee, I kinda can't wait. My arm will hurt, but it'll be worth it for the look on my boyfriend's face.
The golden yellow and yellow/pink cakes are for a shawl. I don't know which, but I can't wait. It's Lorna's Laces and Fleece Artist, and they are both just gorgeous! I'm really excited, but I am trying to finish my other projects first. The stuff that has priority, like mother's day gifts.

Speaking of which, this bag is for my mom. She has totally proven herself worthy of the most gorgeous gifts when her response to the scarf I made for her birthday was "Oh my gosh, there are so many stitches! It's beautiful! This much have been so much work!"
And who doesn't like a good mesh market bag? I love this cotton- I got a mill end bag of it. Yeah, 6$ for a pound of pretty rainbow cotton? Sold! I am so tempted to get more. Except that, you know, I've bought about 5 pounds of yarn this week. Shh...

And the socks I'm making. Or, the sock. I ripped that damn heel out no less than 4 times. And that is some sticky, grippy freaking yarn. Ugh. I was about to cut the yarn off and stick my tongue out at it, but it's really pretty and expensive sock yarn. So rip I did... rip rip rip through the three times I'd cut it for the first go at the heel/ankle. Sigh. Finally getting somewhere with it, though.