Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

I love Halloween.  I always have.  It was an equal-opportunity holiday.  Halloween fun isn't dependent upon your socio-economic status.  You can be dirt poor and still have a great time, as long as you don't mind a little cold and you're willing to pound the pavement.  My poor mom would be out with us for hours as we walked half way across town and back, getting as much candy as we could possibly carry.  It would be enough to last for a month if we played our cards right.  And on what other night were we allowed to be out way past dark, or be up way past bedtime?

painting pumpkins

And then there were the spooky, kid-friendly, light weight horror movies that I loved so much!  The Ghost and Mister Chicken was a personal favorite, as was the Disney version of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  I watched that every year!  I also learned to love Hammer Productions' Dracula movies with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.  My love of scary movies has mostly passed Dante by, but Alex definitely got that gene, and we've been watching every Halloween episode of every cartoon we can find on Netflix (some of them more than once a day, lol).

Later, after he comes home from school, we'll watch another spooky movie and have a snack, and then get ready to go out Trick or Treating.  I sure hope it warms up a little before then because it's only in the 20's right now.  Dante's already said he's out if it get too cold, but Alex is a die-hard so we'll all have to bundle up and go out there.  I just hope he isn't too exhausted to be able to handle himself, and I don't have to haul him home kicking and screaming like I had to on Sunday at the ward party.

So, with that in mind, I'll leave you with the knowledge that I'm totally wearing my Night of the Living Socks right now, and these awesome pics of Alex as a pirate (comic book style for fun).  I've got homework to do, Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow to watch, a sweater to knit, and candy apples to make.  I hope you have a blast!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Now available: Heritage Silk Lace Mittens

As most of you know, I completed another design for Cascade Yarns a few months ago and I've been eagerly stalking their site for it's release.  I'm excited to say that my Heritage Silk Lace Mittens are now available for download on Ravelry, or directly from Cascade's website.  They did another wonderful job with the photos and I'm really excited to finally share the pattern with you!

The mittens are two-layered, with anatomical thumb placement to keep the pretty lace design on the back of your hand (where it belongs).  The inner mitten is worked at a smaller gauge and has ribbing at the cuff, to help keep the wind and cold out.  The pattern suggests that you "pick-up and knit" when starting the outer cuff, but if you would rather use a provisional cast on to do this step, feel free (just remember to do that when you start the inner mitten). 

The outer mitten has a picot edge, a lace cuff, and eyelet holes at the wrist for an optional ribbon if you really want to girl these up.  The lace pattern is worked over a small number of stitches and rows, and was easy to memorize after a little while.  The pattern is written for three sizes, S (7" - 7.5"), M (8" - 8.5"), and L (9" - 9'5") in circumference, and includes written and charted direction for the lace (on the last page, so you don't have to print them if you don't use them).

You can use any colors you like, but the design shows best if you choose yarns with high contrast.  I would also advise that if you substitute yarns, make sure that they are both colorfast as these mittens are attached. 

I used Heritage Silk in 5630 (aqua), and 5618 (winter white), and knit the medium.  It was funny because not only did I have to rip the lace portion at least 4 times on the first mitten (so I can attest to the durability of the Heritage Silk yarn), but I also had to rip back the inner mitten because I started to knit these to fit myself.  I'm 6' tall and I always have to add at least 2 inches to any mitten/glove pattern.  Here I was, happily knitting my mittens when I remembered that the model probably has average size hands (as you can see from the photos, I was correct) and I wouldn't need to knit these quite as long as I normally would, lol.  That was an interesting moment for me :)

Anyway, I'm really pleased with these.  They're my first attempt at designing with lace.  They were tough to figure out (how do I attach these?, how do I get the correct number for 2 mittens at different gauges?, how do I...).  I have to say that it wasn't nearly as difficult to send these off as it was to send away the blanket.  Maybe it's because I don't have any other accessories in that color?  But I'm planning on making another pair for myself, with what's left of my Ruby River to match my beret and scarf this winter.  That is, if I can find the time :)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Night of the Living Sock (just in time for Halloween)

Introducing my latest release for the Super Sock Scarefest:

 This is the 6th pattern (and my 2nd contribution) for the 2011 round of Super Sock Scarefest. I was inspired by the classic Night of the Living Dead, and decided to knit a sock that looks like something the fashionable zombie-chick would wear.  It took a while to find the perfect color, but once I located the green (at Fresh Purls) I knew I was ready to go.
The pattern features a faux-tear and several randomly placed runs to add to the look of ”I’ve been chased through the woods by flesh-eating monsters”.  The runs were easy enough to manage and I had a blast knitting them.  The tear was another matter.  I had one in the first sock but it looked more like a giant hole and I hated it so I ripped it back.  While I finished the first sock, I figured out how to make it work and included it in the second sock.  However, it still looked more like a circle and less like a rip in the fabric, so I decided last minute to 'stitch the wound' and I'm pleased with how it turned out.
 The sample was knit to accommodate my size 10 foot.  They only used about half a skein of Dream In Color Smooshy in Scorched Lime, less than one ball of Knit Picks Palette in Bittersweet, about 25 yds of Palette in Fairy Tale, and 5 yds of Cascade Heritage in Cherry.  Not too bad at all!  If you have some left-overs from another sock project, you could easily substitute them for the contrasting stripes and save some cash!  I might end up making another pair, because Dante said he'd like a pair with black and white stripes.  I think that might be cool looking too, so don't be surprised if you see another pair of these real soon!

Be ready for the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse!  Get your copy now.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

photo shoot preview

Today was the photo shoot for my latest design for the Super Sock Scarefest, which will launch this Friday.  As you may remember, the design needs to remain secret until their release date, so I can't show you all the photos yet.  However, I was able to block them out and give you this beauty!

Think classic 1960's horror film that launched an entire horror genre, and lots and lots of remakes.  And hopefully you'll also notice the yellow cast and film grain in this photo, which I hope adds to the feel of what I'm trying to express.  This shoot is more of a story and I hope that it'll flow nicely and do Raini's wonderful photos justice.

This picture is my best attempt at showing fear, lol.  I am a horrible actress and every time Raini tried to direct me, I'd just start laughing.  Not very 'scary movie-ish' when the hapless victim is cracking up.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Here's what I can show you...

Possible crocheted design?
I've been a busy bee!  I know, I know... 'what else is knew?' you're saying to yourself, lol.  Well, I'll tell you!

This last few weeks, I've had a crap-ton of homework (I know, not exactly new but just stay with me here).  This week I've been involved in a group project...well, it really started last week but I'm finishing it up this week.  Notice I said that "I'm finishing it" and not "we're finishing it".  Bingo!  I'm the victim of the all-too-common group project curse...the one where you get assigned to a group and at first everyone's working together but pretty quickly it's just down to you and one other girl, and before you know it, the actual work part starts and you're the last man standing.  Thankfully, we're supposed to be working in a discussion board set up for our group, and this board stamps every response with a date and time stamp, so it's obvious who's participated and who hasn't.  Plus I emailed my professor and let him know.  When I turn in the project and they don't, I'll get a grade and they'll fail the project.  So, at least it's not one of those situations where I'm the only one who actually cares about my GPA, so I do all the work and we all get the same grade.

Meanwhile, while all this is going on, I've been finishing up some projects and swatching for others.  I finished knitting my newest design for the SSS2011, due for release this Friday the 21st.  The photo shoot is tomorrow and I'm pretty excited about it.  I called on the resources of my buddy Raini again.  She's amazing!  It was pretty last minute and I didn't think she'd have time to do it, so I asked my hubby if he'd help, and if he had any ideas.  He said "well, we own that movie so I was thinking we'd prop up the DVD case, and lay your sock in front of it..."  I may have freaked a little bit inside, lol, but I did manage to calmly tell him that these things are best when the socks are on a model's feet.  That's when he tossed out this gem: "so, we paint you up like a [insert movie monster here] and we put you in a cute little dress and have you sit like this [think pin-up pose], and we take the photo".  Thanks honey, but I think I'll just call Raini and beg her to help me, lol!

Now, while all this was going on, I remembered that I have an almost finished pattern collection awaiting my attention.  I've got a hat, and a neckwarmer (which will need to be reknit in another yarn), and I started a set of convertible handwarmers but I never quite finished the first one.  I finished it the other day but I didn't really love the flap when it was worn closed.  It have a very Dr. Seuse quality to it.  Then I did a little research on Ravelry and found that most mitts used the same flap but that the photos never showed them worn closed...hummm...  Guess I know the reason for that.  Then I started having this other idea using some short-rows so I knit the mate and tried my idea.  It worked, but the flap was too shallow.  Then I realized that I would have to use some combination of the two, and last night I reknit one of the mitts.  Success!  Now I have to reknit the flap on the other one and adjust the pattern accordingly, and then its off to the testers.

And as if that wasn't enough, I also finished the commissioned shawl, almost finished the body of my Takoma sweater, and I started swatching for what I thought was going to be a reproduction of a vintage crocheted baby blanket, that I repaired for a customer.  I've done two swatches, and I'm about to do a third in the color that I think I'll be using for this project.  However, I thought about it again and I realized that I'd love to have it as a skirt.  Now, I learned to crochet way before I ever learned to knit and I even learned to read crochet patterns, but I never made many garments so I'm not sure I can pull off a garment like this, but I'm gonna give it a shot and see what happens.  There's a submission for a project that I would love to be involved with, and I think this might just fit what they're looking for.  I have three ideas actually, so I'm going to flesh them out and send in some good swatches, and then see what happens.  So, don't be surprised if you see a whole mess of posts about stuff I can't exactly show you yet.  I'll try to splice in some things you can see :)

Now, off to go check and see if I've been accepted as a test knitter for this :)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Illnesses, Vogue Knitting, and Candace Flynn

In the effort to blog something (because I haven't blogged anything), I thought I'd bring you a totally random collection of stuff from my week.

Alex has been pretty sick since Wednesday and I've had to sit with him at the ER and the Urgent Care center, twice in the last three days.  Not because he was on the verge of death or anything...  He looked like he was having another episode of low blood sugar and I was instructed to take him directly to Hasbro to have specific tests done (because they have the best lab available), so I did.  However, when we got down there he started to spike a fever and he got sick in the triage room.  His blood sugar was really good, so they figured he just had a virus and that was the cause of the symptoms.  We took him home and kept him out of school for two days (until he was fever-free for 24 hours).

Yesterday I sent him to school and they called me at 2:30 to tell me that he was in the nurses office with a bad headache.  I went down to get him and they told me that he'd gotten sick in the office.  I tried to get an appointment at his pediatrician's office but they were booked solid, so I had to take him into Urgent Care instead.  Poor guy got sick 5 times in 2 hours, and his fever kept coming and going.  They aren't sure what's going on, and they suggested that I watch him over night and bring him back in again today.  Naturally, he feels just find this morning.  I'm gonna watch him for a little while and bring him in later.

In other news, I was stalking Cascade Yarn's website to see if my Heritage Silk mitten pattern had been released yet when I found a link on their site to the latest Vogue news letter.  Vogue featured several Cascade Yarns free patterns in their news letter, and my Quilt and Cable Blanket was among the group of patterns to be selected!  How flippin cool is that?!  I don't even know how to contain myself.  If you haven't made one, now's the season for it...and it's only 4 skeins of Eco wool.

Speaking of patterns, I've got one coming up on the 21st (another design for the Super Sock Scarefest 2011) and another that should be ready for release soon.  I've been working on this one off-and-on since March.  I just worked out a design issue, and now I just have to go back and fix the pattern to reflect the changes.  This is my first mini-collection and I'll be releasing them when I debut my brand.  Keep a look out, cause these are gonna be cool!

Finally, if you've read this blog for any length of time, you'll know that I'm a huge Phineas and Ferb fan (don't judge me...)  I was watching the episode where Candace is given a super-growth formula and grows to 50 ft tall.  Before that she went to the Flawless Girl (think spoof of Cover Girl) audition to try out for the new spoke-woman job.  She didn't meet the criteria (being at least 5' 10"), and in her despair she hollers "I'll always be two inches too ugly!" lol.  It reminded me of my hormonal rant last week...nice to be able to laugh at ourselves (and at cartoons).

Monday, October 3, 2011

Man, I love colorwork!

This, folks, is the Takoma sweater with just about three motifs completed.  You can see where I'll be cutting this baby when I finish.  I wish I could describe what it is about colorwork that I find so appealing, because I know that many people out there think it's difficult and I'd really like to change that misconception. 

I love watching a picture grow off my knitting needles.  I love how the little squares on the graph exactly match the little stitches on my needles.  I always know where I stand with colorwork.  You know if there's a mistake because you can easily see it in your work.  You can take it a row at a time, and an individual repeat at a time (unless you're me, in which case you have to finish an entire row before you can put it down).  You can be surprised by the way some colors play well together despite your expectations, and how others simply don't work out.  It's sort of like paint-by-numbers, only with yarn.

Don't be afraid to do colorwork.  Give it a try.  Just two strands of yarn and your needles.  Start with something simple like a hat or a mitten or sock, and work your way out.  Check out the blog tutorials, the youtube videos, the articles in knitting magazines.  Take a class at your LYS (I taught one last week).  Just try it!  Cut yourself a break, accept that your tension is going to be wonky on the first project, and have fun with the process.  You might just surprise yourself and find that you've got a natural talent for it, and next thing you know, you're knitting a fair-isle pullover, lol.  Or not, but at least you will have given it a try and not let fear hold you back from attempting something that you've always liked the look of, but thought you didn't have the skill set for. 

Now, this week is a crazy homework week for me so don't be surprised if there's a little radio-silence on the blog.  Rest assured, I'll be doing lots and lots of homework, working on my Takoma, and trying to get my latest Scarefest design ready for the October 21st release date :)