Slytherin Socks

April 30, 2014 14:31 by Suzy

Back in February, I discovered a group on Ravelry called Sock Knitters Anonymous (SKA)...every month there is a different "Sockdown" Challenge with various options to choose from. Members choose the challenge option and cast on during the challenge month, and must finish the socks and post photos in the group by the end of the following month. It's a really fun group, and I like how the different challenge options encourage you to work outside your comfort zone. There are two featured designers each month, or you can pick one of the design/construction/theme challenge options. Some months there is also a Mystery Sock (MOCK) pattern as well.  At the end of each challenge period, the group moderators hold a random drawing from all of the completed projects for various prizes donated by some awesome pattern designers, yarn companies, and other knitting-related vendors. Great motivation to finish your socks, don't you think?  My Monkey Squalor socks were my first entry in the SKA group...one of the February challenge options was designer Cookie A. She had TONS of patterns to choose from, and the Monkey pattern is one of her most popular on Ravelry.

For the March Sockdown, Heidi Nick was one of the featured designers. After browsing her patterns, and adding a bunch to my Ravelry Favorites, I decided to make the Dolores Umbridge socks. I really liked the mock cabling and the unique zig-zig running down each side. I had another indigodragonfly special edition colorway in my stash...Owl Week: A Bad Week To Be A Field Mouse in the Sad Lester Sock base. I fell hard for this gorgeous rich green as soon as it was featured on the website last summer. I was originally planning to make the Nennir cowl, which has a really cool Celtic knotwork pattern that I thought would be perfect with the green. Once I got the yarn, however, I realized it was not the best choice for a project to be worn around the neck. The Sad Lester Sock base is made from 100% Bluefaced Leicester wool, which I hadn't used before. The wool is soft, but not as soft as Merino wool or the other indigodragonfly Merino blends. It takes colors beautifully, however, which is why the green was so awesome. So, I decided to make socks from it instead.

Now, in case you are unfamiliar with the Harry Potter universe, Dolores Umbridge is a truly evil witch disguised as a sweet old lady. She acts syrupy sweet, dresses in pink with big bows on her head, and decorates her office with collectable kitten plates...and is a fan of incredibly severe punishments for anyone who crosses her, or anyone of less than pure Wizard blood. Creepy, creepy lady.  

In addition, most of the villains in the Harry Potter world are/were members of the Slytherin House at Hogwarts School of Magic. The colors of Slytherin are green and silver, and the mascot is a serpent.  So with a pattern name of Dolores Umbridge, and using striking green yarn, I had to name this project Slytherin Socks!

How amazing are these??? Cables twisting snake-like down the legs, all the way to the toes. 

This was a great pattern...my first time working exclusively from charts, and I really liked the heel construction. Instead of a typical heel-flap, the increases for the gusset are worked at the same time as the heel, so there was no picking up stitches. Very cool.

So I definitely see myself knitting a pair of socks for each month's SKA challenge for the rest of 2014! I'm nearly finished with this month's challenge (good thing I have until May 31) and I already have my pattern and yarn ready for May. Stay tuned for more sock posts as they are completed!



Monkeys and Tulips and Greystone, Oh My!

March 27, 2014 13:37 by Suzy

2014 continues to be productive on the knitting front...4 more projects finished since my last post!

Last fall, Shalimar Yarns offered a Monkey Jacobus kit using their Enzo Sport yarn. I had never made knitted toys (called "softies") before, but the monkey looked so cute I couldn't resist! Shalimar yarn has always held a special place in my heart, as my first-ever knitting project was made with their Homage fingering weight...my first taste of luxury yarn! Plus, they are Maryland-based, not far from where JD and I used to live.

When I received the kit, I was a bit intimidated by the lengthy and complicated-looking pattern (10+ pages!) so I was hesitant to get started. So the kit languished in my WIP bin until I finally got the nerve to give it a shot in February. Surprisingly, the pattern was not nearly as difficult as I had feared...just very detailed...I just followed the instructions and before I knew it, I had an adorable monkey, ready to stuff.


Isn't she cute? I named her Bernadette!

At the same time, I started a new pair of socks, with the awesome pattern name of Monkey, designed by Cookie A. I had some yarn in my stash that I thought would be perfect for this project...an indigodragonfly club yarn from last year. The base is called Filament o' Squid (70% Merino/30% Seacell) in the colorway Squalor Amongst the Ankles. I must admit, I wasn't in love with the yarn when I first received it...the color is kind of a muddy green with a bit of yellow/gold in it, and the fiber texture is different...not unpleasant, just different. Every month or so I would take it out of my stash bin, give it a look and a squeeze, and I started liking it more and more. I think it looks great with this pattern, don't you?


This was my first lace pattern sock, and I just love it. I also used a different cast on method, as I noticed the cuffs on my first two sock projects were a little tight. I used the slip-knot cast on and I really like how it turned out. The edge has an almost folded-accordion look to it.

Next, I made the Greystone hat with my first Bare Naked Knitspot club yarn. The yarn is Kent Worsted (60% Merino/40% Romney wool) in the Driftwood colorway. I love this color...completely from undyed natural wools. It's a beautiful blend of browns and greys with a great sheen. The texture seemed a bit rustic at first but softened up considerably after a soak and blocking.


The cables look great in this yarn, don't you think?

Finally, our good friends back in Maryland were about to celebrate the first birthday of their daughter, and I knew I had to make her something special. She is the lucky recipient of my Baby Girl Blanket and Sproutlette Dress, so I had to top myself, you know? Enter the Tulips Cardigan pattern...simple and practical, yet oh-so-cute and in such beautiful colors! The Coldwater Yarns online shop has a great selection of kits in different color themes...I chose the Anita's Rainbow kit. The kit comes with enough yarn of each color (9 colors in all!) to make the cardigan...so you don't have to buy full skeins of each. The yarn is Dream in Color Classy, which is a worsted superwash wool. The colors are amazing...not boring solids but beautiful and rich and complex.


(Note the picture above is pre-blocking) Various project notes on Ravelry for this pattern indicated that the cardigan runs small, so I made the 24-month size and also modified the pattern to have 10 rows in each color vs. only 8 rows. Luckily I didn't run out of yarn!


Isn't she adorable? And don't the colors look perfect on her?

I currently have another pair of socks on the needles, as well as my first project using lace yarn. My brain is already two or three projects ahead and I can't wait for my next club packages to arrive!

Happy knitting!

Ravelry project links:
Bernadette Monkey
Monkey Squalor
Greystone: The Legend of Romney
Birthday Tulips



Keeping Warm With Two Sticks And Wool

February 13, 2014 08:48 by Suzy

I'm off to a great start for 2014!

In January, I completed 3 projects...my Charades in the Acid Rain socks, Sweet Rizzo hat, and Mars Attacks! socks.

For my first pair of socks, I used my Giftapalooza yarn from indigodragonfly...the colorway is called "Acid Reindeer" and it's a beautiful mix of rich blues and violets in the MCN Sock base. I didn't want to make a boring stockinette sock, but I also didn't want to make anything too complicated for my first sock project, so the Charade design was a great choice. Plus it's a free pattern!

Then I went on to use my December club yarn, also from indigodragonfly...Merino Silk DK with the aweseome name of "Light The Lamp, Not The Rat!". This is one of those colors that I probably never would have chosen myself, but once I received the package I fell in love with the shiny spun gold...it looks like it's glowing! This is why I join this club...so I get to try new colors and yarn bases and get me out of my comfort zone.

In case anyone is confused about the color name...here is a link to the inspiration from the holiday classic "A Muppet Christmas Carol"...I love Rizzo!

The Sweet William pattern was already in my queue and I thought it was a perfect match for the yarn and the gorgeous color. This is the first hat I made for myself, and I love it. It's much warmer than you would think so it has been a regular fixture in my bundling-up routine each morning.

Finally, I tackled another pair of socks.  This time, I wanted to try Susan B. Anderson's simple stockinette sock design, and used Wisdom Yarns Saki Silk in the "Mystery Mars" colorway. Blues and greens mix with orange for a fun, random-stripe look. I got the yarn from Webs when I ordered my sock blockers (I needed something to add to the cart to get free shipping) and I liked it even more than I had hoped. Very soft and easy to knit with, and I can tell they will wear well with very little pilling.

At the moment, I am working on several monkey-related projects (can't wait to share pictures!) and hope to finish my CustomFit cardigan soon as well. My first Bare Naked Knitspot club shipment should arrive any day now, as well as my next indigodragonfly club package, so I will have no shortage of goodies to fondle and get on the needles. Good thing, since it looks like spring will never come!

One particularly cold morning this month...

 



The Princess and the Canoe

December 16, 2013 12:24 by Suzy

This is, hands down, the most beautiful thing I have ever created.  I've made some pretty desserts and fine-looking main dishes, and I was very happy with my Left Bank Cardigan and fingerless mitts, but this by far surpasses them all.  Can you believe I made this myself???

I discovered this pattern back in March, when I had only been knitting for a few months.  I drooled over it and favorited it in Ravelry, and even went ahead and purchased the pattern, but I don't think I really believed that it would be something I could, or would ever, be able to make.  A few months later, indigodragonfly released a special edition colorway in their Merino Silk 4-ply Sock base that I thought would be perfect for this project, so I splurged and bought the yarn, and soon after found just the right beads.  The pattern and the yarn sat, waiting patiently, in the background while I continued to work on simpler projects and gained confidence in my knitting.

Towards the end of September, I decided I was ready, and with one false start, cast on (509 stitches!) on September 29.  And surprise, LilyGo's pattern is so well written that I really didn't have any problems at all.  I just kept plugging away, learned how to read my work and made sure the stitch counts were right after each repeat and the end of each row.  Slowly but surely, the gorgeous design started to emerge.  I was driving poor JD nuts every night, insisting on showing him my work in progress as soon as I finished a section, but I couldn't help it!

A little over a month later (much sooner than I had expected), my shawl was finished.  A good soak and careful pinning later, and I was holding my greatest knitting achievement (so far!).  I really felt that I had done LilyGo's wonderful pattern justice.  The yarn is perfect...gorgeous colors and with the sheen of the silk and the drape of the wool it really shows the design well.  

The lesson here?  Don't assume something is too difficult or out of your reach...make a goal and work towards achieving it.  It was great having this as a "dream project" on my radar for this past year.  Every time I looked at it, the goal seemed more real and more achievable.  The pattern became less complex as I learned more and more with my other projects.  I'm so glad I took the plunge!

About the name...the pattern is called Princess and the Pea (see those pea pods throughout the design?) and the colorway is Canoe Up To The Beer Store (there was severe flooding in an area of Canada this past spring and indigodragonfly was donating money from the sale of this yarn to help those affected) so I came up with The Princess and the Canoe.  

Thank you thank you so much to indigodragonfly for coming up with such wonderful yarn and colors, and BIG thanks to LilyGo for designing such a beautiful pattern that is written so well and is easy to follow!!!

Link to my Ravelry project page here.



These Still Count As Goodies, Right?

October 7, 2013 21:54 by Suzy

These still count as goodies, right?

No, I haven’t completely given up cooking and baking goodies…I've just added knitted goodies to my repertoire!

JD and I moved to southern Ohio this past spring, and we’re loving the quiet, small town life. Definitely don’t miss the traffic, crowds, and high prices of DC. I was lucky enough to find a really good job fairly quickly, and JD is spending his days working outside with his grandfather…taking care of the house and 70+ acres of property, including a lake! We are both truly blessed.

So, in between my job, enjoying the peace and quiet of rural Ohio, and getting into Big 10 football in addition to the NFL (there go my Saturdays and Sundays!), I have been making food goodies in the kitchen and knitting goodies in the living room.

Most recently, I finished my Left Bank Cardigan and Moutons' Boutons fingerless mitts…

The Left Bank Cardigan is a design from Linda Wilgus of Wooly Mammoth Knits. It’s a great pattern, completely seamless, knit from the top down in an easy but distinctive rib pattern. I will confess, I did get a bit bored towards the end but the end result was so worth it! After finishing the body (whew!), the sleeves are knit in the round with a bit of the rib pattern at the cuffs. Then stitches are picked up along the edge and a seed stitch button band and collar is added.

The rib pattern is lovely, and gives the cardigan a nice fitted shape. I was very pleased with how this project turned out and it’s a perfect go-with-everything piece for my work wardrobe. I was also flattered and thrilled to hear from Linda Wilgus after I posted my finished project on Ravelry…she complimented my finished cardigan and asked if she could include my pictures on her pattern page! Wow!

I used Fyberspates Scrumptious yarn, in the Water colorway. Beautiful blend of Merino wool and silk.

Link to Ravelry project here.

Back in August I received my club yarn shipment from indigodragonfly yarns and OH MY GOD it was so gorgeous…a beautiful mix of purples, greens and blues in their super-soft-super-squishy MCN Sport base. I immediately began searching for the perfect pattern to match up with this treasure. A complex stitch pattern would get lost in the variegated colorway, so I looked for something simple and elegant.

Enter the Moutons' Boutons pattern. I loved the idea of surrounding my hands with the glorious Merino-Cashmere blend, and I even had the perfect buttons left over from the Left Bank Cardigan project!

The pattern is simple but not boring, and the sport weight helps make them a very quick knit…I finished them in 2 days! I love having the button band to add a little visual interest, plus you can get creative and a little wacky with your button choices. These would make great gifts that you can personalize.

Can't wait for the cold weather to get here so I can start wearing these mitts!

Link to Ravelry project here.

So that’s what’s going on here…I’m hoping to do some baking now that fall has arrived so you should see posts of that nature coming up. I’m planning to have regular posts to update “What’s On My Needles” and “What’s Cookin’, Good Lookin’,” as well as make some general updates to the About Me and Index pages and other stuff.

Stay tuned!



Foodbuzz