2016 Finished Projects [number three]

Here'a another project I finished back in the winter: So Fly by Justyna Lorkowska (aka Lete's Knits on Ravelry)! Justyna is one of my favorite designers. She has such a wide variety of patterns to choose from: hats, shawls, cardigans, pullovers - all beautiful and precisely designed. The photographs that accompany all of her patterns are also always wonderful. I think her husband is a photographer so it makes sense!

I've had a hank of a deep purple Malabrigo Rios in Purpuras in my stash for a long time. I think I got it on sale back when All About Ewe was still open and there was only one hank left! I'd been waiting on the perfect hat pattern for it, and since this pattern called for Rios, I knew it was time to wind that skein and knit her up!

I ended up ripping out this hat after a couple inches because something looked off to me. In between the large cable sections are little twists. I think I may have skipped a round at one point, which throws those off more than the large cables. Instead of attempting to fix the pattern myself some point down the line, I decided to just rip it out and start again. I'm glad I did!

I actually swatched this hat (gasp!) but it still turned out a little smaller than I was expecting. (The photo on the left shows how it looked just after casting off. Color isn't accurate at all - see other photo below!) After my initial blocking attempt, I still wasn't pleased with the fit so ended up blocking it again. It's still not as slouchy as the one in the photo, buuuut I also have a huge head and poofy hair, so that could have everything to do with it!

I think that when the fall rolls around once more and I start wearing this hat again, I'll block this one more aggressively for a third time so I have more slouch! If I made this hat again, I'd stick with smaller needles for the brim and go up a needle size or two for the body of the hat. :)

Thanks for reading! Let me know what's on your needles in the comments below!

Until next time... happy knitting!

2016 Finished Projects [number two]

I finished this one back in February, but I'm FINALLY getting around to posting about it. Better late than never to post about a finished knitting project, right?

There are a couple of reasons for my absence. Here they are:

  1. I'm back in school. Back in school = less time for creating things in general
  2. My mouse ears shop has kind of blown up. Trust me - I'm super happy about this, but working on mouse ears pretty much every waking hour NOT spent doing schoolwork definitely puts a crimp in my knitting life.
  3. Laziness. Sometimes I just can't be bothered to write a blog post. I'm still trying to get better about this!

This time, I'm presenting the Waiting for Rain shawl by Softsweater Knits (or Sylvia Bo Bilvia as she's known on Ravelry). It's an absolutely stunning shawl featuring inlays of SHORT ROW LACE! How cool is that?! The photo on the right shows how it looks all finished, and was slurped from the Ravelry pattern page. (Click the photo or the link above to visit it and purchase the pattern!) It's an absolutely beautiful knit and such a pleasure to knit up. I wasn't bored of it AT. ALL. and that's saying a lot since my attention span for knitting can sometimes be ridiculously short. (Don't ask me then why one of my favorite things to make are shawls which typically take forever!)

I happened across the pattern at the end of last month and noticed that Sylvia was advertising a Knit-Along for the pattern beginning February 1, so I joined in. I was the 6th person to enter out of about 350 - I'm never this ahead of the crowd! I followed along a really fun forum about the KAL on Ravelry and I loved seeing everyone's yarn choices. I also just love the support everyone is giving each other, no matter how quickly or slowly they're making their way through the pattern.

As for me, I chose to go with some madelinetosh Feather in Found Pottery. It's a beautifully colorful speckled yarn that looks ridiculously lovely when knit up, so much more so that it does in the skein. This really confirmed for me that sometimes you just need to see yarn knit up to realize its true potential because this yarn SURPRISED me so much when I started knitting. I love it!

I decided to name my shawl Magic Gardens, and the inspiration for the name came from two places. The colorway I'm using is called Found Pottery, and it immediately made me think of Philadelphia's Magic Gardens. It's a permanent public art exhibit in Philadelphia, and the museum's main feature is an outdoor gallery created by artist Isaiah Zagar who "created the space using nontraditional materials such as folk art statues, found objects, bicycle wheels, colorful glass bottles, hand-made tiles, and thousands of glittering mirrors." (quoted from website - click above to visit)

Because the Magic Gardens include to many re-purposed materials - including ceramics and pottery - I thought it would be a perfect name! But as I started knitting, I also realized how much the colors remind me of those that would be in a garden: greens with pinks and purples and blues, all like flowers. So the name stuck, and it worked out to be more fitting than I had originally intended!

I followed the pattern completely as written, with the addition of a few more garter ridges at the end because I had plenty of yarn left. The pattern said to knit 12 rows (6 ridges) and I knit 20 rows (10 ridges).

Sadly because my camera skills are severely lacking, this is the only photo I have of the shawl fully complete. It's more to show off the short row lace sections than anything else; if you want a good look at the color, see the photos above. :)


Update on my Ashburn Shawl from my previous post:

I blocked it and THE DARK BLUE BLED ONTO THE OTHER TWO COLORS. It really isn't that noticeable to be honest, and you'd probably only notice it if you were really looking (in fact, I didn't even realize it until a few days after I was done blocking!) but since I spend SO much time and SO much energy and SO much money on it, it's really frustrating to finish it with a slight feeling that you've ruined it.

A friendly raveler commented on my Ravelry project page about it, saying:

Ah…go easy on yourself about the bleeding. It happens. Your colors are great and I’m sure you’ll get a lot of use from such a beautiful shawl.

And she really is right. Things like this happen and the shawl is still really lovely. I'm just disappointed in myself for not thinking the suuuuper dark blue would bleed onto the other two light colors. But oh well! You live and learn!

Until next time... happy knitting!

Maggie

2016 Finished Projects [number one]

Yesterday was not only my golden birthday, but also the day I finally finished my Ashburn Shawl! I keep saying it, but I keep meaning it: this might be the best birthday gift I've ever given myself!

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Pattern: Ashburn by Melanie Berg
Yarn: Neighborhood Fiber Co. Rustic Fingering in Penn North [yellow], Mrs Crosby Satchel in Creme Fraiche [cream], & Dragonfly Fibers Pixie in Blue Velvet [dark blue] 

I've been working on this shawl since September and have been slowly but surely making my way through the pattern. It truly is such a good pattern (Melanie's patterns always are), and I was able to memorize it quickly and knit while doing other things. But since I was only knitting it every so often due to other work, it was taking me fooooor. ehhhhh. ver!

But with the HUGE snowstorm that hit us here in New Jersey last weekend, it was finally my chance to get to work on this baby and finish her up! I finished all the knitting on Monday night, then all the finishing work yesterday afternoon. While not COMPLETELY finished (I still have to block this beaut), I am done with the actual work of the shawl and am calling this one DONE!

First finished project of 2016? CHECK!

I haven't had the chance to take some actually good photos of the shawl yet, so you'll have to deal with these selfies. Hope to have more soon!

Countdown to Fun

November is almost halfway over, which seems cah-razy to me! I'm pretty sure I say this all the time to anyone who listens, but time seems to be going so quickly recently and I don't like it! Maybe it's because I'm still in the process of figuring my life out, but I always worry that I'm just not. doing. enough. Anyone else feel this way: 25 and kind of floundering, making her first big step toward a future but wishing she had made that move three years earlier? Okay, good.

I've mentioned that big step before, but here it is again: I'M GOING BACK TO SCHOOL! Everything is officially official, and I'll be starting classes again in January on the track toward getting my certification to teach social studies/history. I won't be starting my education classes until the summer/fall since I have to get 2 prerequisites out of the way that weren't covered by the classes I took in college, but I am BEYOND excited to being this journey. (I often hate when people use the word "journey" for stuff like this, but it really applies here! It HAS been a really long journey getting here, and I'm proud to say I've hit a really important checkpoint.) I should be done by December 2017! Seems far away, but I know it'll go by really quickly!

But on to the two other things that I'm looking forward to before school even begins!

Number 1 is CHRISTMAS!

Who doesn't love a good holiday, am I right? For the first Christmas ever I'm honestly at a point where I don't really WANT anything. Weird, right? Is this a sign of adulthood? Sure, getting things is always nice, but there's nothing right now about which I'm saying to myself, "I NEED THIS THING." I'll probably throw together a list with a few things (because I know my mother will riot if I don't), but I'm more than happy just getting money to help pay for school!

I'm more of a gift-giver for the holidays. I love thinking about what I want to make people and putting that into action (and then scrambling to finish everything). And because I have so much yarn potential in what I have in my stash, I will not be buying any more yarn for any of these projects! (De-stashing details coming in another post!) Here's what I've got on my list so far, yarn-wise:

  1. Katie (sister): this little fella you see on the right, since she has an a wee bit of an unhealthy obsession with penguins; some sort of crochet granny square pillow (haven't decided on a pattern just yet); pom pom wall hanging like this one
  2. Colleen (sister): This one is an exception to my no-yarn-buying policy for this year! She sent me a photo of this hat from Target and said she wants me to make her one like it. So I am! Because why spend $16.99 for a hat when you can make it yourself with yarn worth over $30?! I'm also working on a pair of Toy Story Buzz & Woody themed mouse ears for her. :)
  3. Mom: 2 pairs of the socks shown on the left, likely in purple and yellow; Tower of Terror themed mouse ears
  4. Dad: This man is both ridiculously easy and ridiculously difficult to buy gifts for. So, I'm making him one pair of the aforementioned socks and then I'll probably buy him some beer!
  5. Andrew (boyfriend): I probably won't be making Andrew anything this year. He's not much of a knitted items wearer, but maybe if I'm feeling ambitious, I'll make him a pair of socks, too. :)

Number 2 is DISNEY WORLD!

My Walt Disney World vacation is only 52 days away! We're leaving on January 5 and I'm past the point of excitement and into the zone of "IT'S SO CLOSE AND I JUST WANT IT TO BE HERE ALREADY DAMMIT!" This will be my third trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth in less than three years (May 2013, September 2014, January 2016), but both of my previous trips were planned and booked less than 6 weeks beforehand, so they came and went so quickly!

The anticipation for this one has been building up since July, and I'm so happy it's coming soon! I didn't think I could be more excited for Disney World than I had been for those previous trips, but the long wait time made the excitement so much better! I'M SERIOUSLY ITCHING WITH EXCITEMENT AS I WRITE THIS. All of our meal reservations have been made, all of our FastPasses have been chosen, all schedules have been created and I AM READY.

So, with the month halfway over, Thanksgiving coming soon, and the Christmas/holiday season starting in full swing, this is going to be a really fun and exciting few weeks. I'm looking forward to all of it.

BRING ON THE FUN!

Ravelry Finds: New Patterns // 9.26.2015

Today, I took another glance through the patterns most recently added to Ravelry. I thought, Hey, why not go all the way back to what was most recent when you checked last week? Weeeeeell, 35 pages later, I've finally narrowed it down. I had no idea SO MANY patterns were added to that website each week! Cah-razy!

Here are my picks for this week! Hope you enjoy! As always, click on either the pattern name or its photo to be redirected to its pattern page on Ravelry. Happy clicking!


I'm really a fan of this cowl's triangle shape. It gives the illusion of a triangle shawl but doesn't run the risk of coming unwrapped like shawls sometimes can. I also really love the colors in this sample!


This is more in the realm of "interesting Ravelry finds" than in the "things I'd like to make" realm. It's pretty creative, I've got to say! I'm not exactly sure how those needles stay put, but the "necklace" portion is actually part of a kit (found here, I think) so it has to be secure, right?


I really like this! But the trouble with soft cases like these is that I'd never be convinced my tablet was actually protected! If I were to make this, I'd make it large enough to fit OVER my hard case. That wouldn't be weird, would it?


My favorite of the bunch and FREE! I'd add this baby to your Ravelry library ASAP in case it become a paid pattern anytime in the future! This crescent shawl would be perfect for any leftovers. Definitely adding it to my list!


Two weeks of unicorns in a row? Is this becoming a unicorn appreciation blog? If it means seeing photos of adorable unicorn patterns, I won't complain!


Last but not least, a little granny square action! Classic and classy. Love it.

Until knits time!

Etsy Finds: Aran Weight Wool // 9.22.2015

Saturday's post on new Ravelry finds and my discovery of the stunning Charmer hat inspired me to take a look around Etsy for some equally stunning aran weight yarn. It's not a yarn weight I typically work it, mostly because I feel like it's a bit of a neglected weight, snuggled there between worsted and bulky, trying to do its own thing. But it's SUCH a good weight of yarn. Sometimes worsted just isn't quite thick enough for what we want to make and bulky is just too, well... bulky!

So here are some aran weight yarns I've found today on Etsy. Enjoy, and leave a comment if you have a favorite shop or company that sells lovely aran weight yarn!

Click each photo or the shop name to see its listing on Etsy. All prices are in US dollars and shipping prices reflect cost to the US.


Wharfdale Woolworks
Location: UK
Colorway: Banana Split
Price: $18.50 + $7.00 shipping

I may have a slight obsession with every single shade of yellow and gold. This colorway only fuels that fire.


Lollipop Guild Yarns
Location: United Kingdom
Colorway: none provided
(described as musky purple and mustard yellow, fading into ecru down the middle)
Price: $20.65 + $9.06 shipping

Why does it seem like all the best yarns come from the UK? Is it because of their overabundance of wool and sheep? At $9.06, shipping for this skein is a bit steep, but aren't the colors lovely? Being the Disney lover I am, of course I see lots of Rapunzel inspiration. I'd name this colorway "Tower" or "Golden Flower" if it were mine!


A Fine Fish Yarns
Location: Belfast, UK
Colorway: Blurred Lines
Price: $19.07 + $7.94 shipping

Love these speckles! The pale pink makes the speckles not too crazy and allows the more subtle speckles to pop just as much as the bright ones.


Chaleur Hand Dyed Yarn
Location: Idaho, USA
Colorway: Carnival Spills
Price: $15.00 + $3.00 shipping

I honestly can't get enough of this colorway. Isn't it wonderful? It's colorful without being bright, and all of the shades go together perfectly.

(If you click the link you'll notice that it's bringing you to the shop as a whole, and that's because this skein is now mine! So excited!)

So much yarn, so little time, right? ;-) See you on the knit side!

Maggie

Ravelry Finds: New Patterns // 9.19.2015

Today, I took a few minutes to go through the most recently added patterns on Ravelry. I really should know better by now! There are so many patterns that I want to try, some that I just NEED to try, and others that are so so creative. It's a knitter's paradise! I tried to stop myself at the first 10 pages but I kept clicking and clicking. Knitting is an addiction, guys! Non-knitters won't ever get it, but once you have the knitting bug, there's no cure.

But without further ado, here are some of my favorites from the first 10 pages of the "most recently added to Ravelry" pattern search option! Click the name of each pattern or the photo to get to its Ravelry page.

Charmer Hat by Kristy Childress - $6

DEFINITELY my favorite of this bunch. Look at the crown detailing! I've added this one to my cart and plan on making one of my own before the cold weather hits! It's knit with Aran weight yarn, and the suggested yarn is Malabrigo Yarn Merino Worsted - and I'm pretty sure I already have some of that in my stash. I do love the gold color of the sample, which is perfect for the changing leaves of the approaching fall season. (I seriously CANNOT wait for fall to get here. Shawl weather is my favorite kind of weather!)


This design makes me giggle, and the German part of me loves every bit of it. Who doesn't love a good pretzel - or Bretzel, as they say auf Deutsch? Oktoberfest comes a little bit early this year with this one! Note that this is a felting project, so you'll need to make it with wool yarn!


Ah, crescent shawls! I love the simplicity of this one, and I am ALL ABOUT garter stitch, especially when it's accompanied by some subtle design. I made have to add this one to my to-knit list!


SUPER bummed that this hat is only available in Knitscene magazine, because this pattern would be mine if available individually. I'm not really a fan of the other patterns in this issue, so probably can't justify the cost of the entire thing. Oh, well! Maybe there's someone out there who likes them all!

As a side note, I just noticed that I have the dress that model is wearing! Alright, Old Navy!


This has to be the most unique and adorable unicorn hat I've ever seen! LOVE that braided mane! In 2012, I made a unicorn hat for myself for Halloween, and it was so floppy. Maybe this one will be a better option - and yes, the pattern is available in adult size!

Just noticed the Unicorn Hooded Cowl by the same designer! Another adorable pattern!


Top Hygge by Karie Westermann - £3.50 (about $5.59 as of today)

There's something about this lace pattern! It's reminiscent of cathedrals, so of course it reminds me of one of my favorite books, The Pillars of the Earth.

Ever notice how sometimes the color a designer chooses has a big effect on the pattern? This is definitely one of them, since the orange color (there's my love of fall, again!) is what drew me to this hat in the first place.

This pattern is also available as part of a pattern collection called Hygge!


So, what do you think? Do you love these patterns as much as I do? Have you seen any patterns lately that you don't think you'll be able to resist? Let me know in the comments!

Pat on the Back

I'm proud of myself.

It's not wrong to be proud of yourself, right? Pride is one of those pesky seven deadly sins, but PRIDE is a much more packed word than the phrase "I'm proud of myself for this thing I did and where I'm going and what I'm planning to do in the future." Right?

Here's the thing: I'm going back to school.

I'm not doing the whole graduate school thing and going for my master's degree, although I would like to do that eventually. Instead, I'm going to apply for a spot at a nearby university's Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Certification program for social studies & history education. Big step, right? Could be bigger, but it's big enough for me.

Here's the second thing: I had to take four exams in order to even apply.

I was required to take the Praxis Core exams in Reading, Writing, and Math (three separate tests, though I took them all in one sitting) and the Praxis II Social Studies Content & Knowledge exam.  Four exams in two weeks wasn't exactly a fun time, let me tell you.

Here's the third thing: I passed the Praxis II exam with a score of 171 (out of 200) and got a perfect score on the Praxis Core exams.

Whaaaaaaat?! But you read that correctly: perfect. score. I hate bragging and I'm not typically one to share my achievements or anything like that with the world, but I want to tell eeeeeeeverybody. People told me that I would probably fail all of them and have to take them upwards of four or five times (especially the Social Studies one) but I passed all of them on the first try and I want to shout a bit HA! at the world.

I guess it should be noted here that I'm a really good test taker. I never get intimidated by standardized tests so taking them was really a breeze for me. But I don't like saying that because it kind of works to undermine my success (a la people who are "bad" test takers saying, "I know the material, but I just froze") but it's true. I make standardized tests my bitch. :P

So, yeah! All that's left is applying, which is still a pretty big thing, but it's a smaller thing that 4 exams. And with scores like these, who could say no? (I kid, I kid.)

But I'm also proud of myself when it comes to another thing: my new Etsy shop slash crafting venture, Elephant & Mouse Shop. As a Disney lover, I wanted to make my own mouse ears, and whenever I saw ones that other people had, I thought to myself, I could make those. So I did. Yesterday I hit 14 sales, which is pretty good for such a short amount of time, if I do say so myself! I love making them, and I'm excited, and I can't wait for this business to grow. Check out photos of some of them at the end of this post!

That's where I'm at. I'm excited for the future and for the present right now. I guess you could say I'm pretty happy, and that's always, always a good thing. Until next time!

Maggie