Thrifted treasure

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I found a complete gem yesterday. One of my favorite places in Champaign-Urbana is the Idea Store, a place that specializes in re-using and recycling everyday materials for craft projects. They sell everything by weight, so I’ve bought a whole sweater’s worth of yarn for about $3 before. Yesterday I was looking at their knitting supplies when I spotted an unassuming, vintage-looking case.

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Upon opening it, I discovered that it was a nearly complete set of interchangeable needles. It’s missing the size 15 needles, but everything else is there. The plastic cables are a bit stiff and definitely need a hot-water bath to soften them up a little, but I’m so excited about putting them to work on a new project.  The case looks very 70’s, and it’s kind of shabby. It might need some sprucing up soon, but for now I’m excited about my new find!

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Beginnings and ends

Today I had another pupil in my beginning knitting school. I have taught a few people to knit, with varying degrees of success. Some are too busy to practice, others don’t get the hang of it or get bored, but many have converted to the Way of Knitting. Today I sent another disciple down the path.

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I got Val started on a beer sock. She took to it like a fish to water and is a few dozen rows in. I think her stitches are remarkably even for a beginning knitter!!

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In other news, my cowl is done but the pattern is unfinished. Here is a prototype – I need different buttoms

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Also, I did some sweater surgery – It looks fitted and cute now. Though I have to say, cutting my knitwear was extremely stressfull!

Green and Blue.

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Today I watched my favorite team lose the NFC Championship game. The Packers fought hard, nearly won, and gave it up in the last quarter. It was a hard loss to watch, especially when we’d had so much hope for three quarters of the game. Five minutes destroyed our hopes for a Super Bowl shot.

Even so, I’m still proud of my Packers. We had an amazing season and I enjoyed the ride. Hopefully next year we can come back strong, healthy, and full of fight.

I wore my most recent shawl with my jersey today, because doesn’t a hand-knit shawl go with everything?

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I’m going to spend the rest of today enjoying two of my favorite things, knitting and manhattans. My cowl is nearly done and is just waiting on some trim, buttons,   and blocking. Look for a pattern early next week!

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My Manhattan ended up looking a little like Mickey Mouse.

Sometimes, I underestimate myself.

Today I did it twice.

I brought home two skeins of orange yarn for my sweater project – 150 yards total.I don’t know why I thought two measly skeins would get me through a month at home, but they didn’t. I’m all out of yarn and I still have four days to go, so I decided to dig through the stash of my Grandma’s old yarn that I inherited a few years ago.

Two words: Gold. Mine.

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In addition to a few hundred yards of pine-green wool, she also had two GIANT CONES of a mohair blend. MOHAIR. It’s got acrylic in it, but it still has that fuzzy, beautiful mohair halo.

I’ve decided to test-knit a pattern I designed a while ago but haven’t published. It’s a cowl in a two-color stitch pattern called the Royal Quilt stitch. Google it, it’s a bombshell.

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In addition to my knitting abilities, I also underestimated my academic skills. Back in September I applied for a pretty hefty grant, which I really didn’t think I was capable of getting. Well, today I received word that I made it to the final round! No guarantees yet, but I’m pretty proud that I made it this far. I’m lucky to have a lot of great mentors and professors who helped me along the way, and I couldn’t have gotten this far without them.

P.S: I made this terrarium for a friend today. Terrariums are such a fun way to bring some green into your life, as well as recycle old glass!

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Measure twice, knit once (Or: How I learned to Stop Guesstimating and Love The Swatch).

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I’ve decided to dive into sweater design, head-on and with full knowledge that I’m probably a little crazy. For proof of my craziness, know that I have only knit two sweaters before – a lace sweater and a cabled sweater – and my third sweater will be the first of my own design. Oh, and it’s also an icelandic Lopapeysa.

Like many others, news of the Thanksgiving KnitPicks sale sent me scurrying to my wallet for my credit card information, and I came away with enough KnitPicks Wool of the Andes for my planned colorwork sweater for a mere $35. A steal, I know.

None of the patterns I saw on Ravelry quite matched my vision. I wanted something fitted, something with a contrasting waistband, something befitting my vaguely University of Illinois-themed color palette. So, I decided to design my own. I’m about a week into the process and it’s proving to be far easier than I imagined.

Step one: Measure every single inch of your torso – shoulders, waist, underbust, bust, overbust, underarm, wrist, shoulder-to-bellybutton, even your head circumference, to make sure the neck-hole has enough clearance.

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Step two: Chart the pattern for the yoke and collars

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Step three: Swatch everything (in the round!) – and measure your gauge carefully.I swatched the fabric in its natural state as well as stretched out (as this sweater isn’t going to have too much ease).

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Step four: Math. Sweaters take a lot more math than one might expect – cautiously calculate the exact number of stitches you’ll need for each part of the sweater.

Step five: Cast on and start going.

Currently I’m about seven inches into the torso of the sweater. I’ve tried it on probably four or five times now, and so far everything’s going swimmingly.

I’m kind of in love. The cabled ribbing is my favorite part, and I’m so excited to get to the yoke.

I’m Dreaming of a Late Christmas

Oops! I did it again. I left Christmas presents to the last minute, which, in my case, is mid-January. After spending January with my family, I’m heading back to Urbana, Illinois, and I still need Christmas gifts for a few of my good friends. I decided to go the quick-and-dirty route and knit them some cowls in big chunky yarn. At this point, spring is coming soon, and I figure some cool, cottony cowls will be just the thing to keep them well-decorated and cozy without smothering under the weight of wool.

My friends are a bunch of hippie recyclers, so the only thing better than a handmade cowl would be a handmade cowl made of recycled materials. Luckily, Lion Brand’s Fettucini yarn is made of factory remnants of various fabrics, mostly cotton. You never know what color or pattern you’ll get, so it’s hard to match lots. This makes it perfect for one-skein projects like scarves.

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I picked up a black skein with a bit of white screenprint, a robin’s-egg-blue, a plain cream, and a periwinkle with a leafy pattern in white.

I tried knitting the periwinkle first, but it was clearly too discolored for a cowl. It looked like it had been wrapped around a rusty rod and rolled around a shop floor. A shampoo bath and a dip in hydrogen peroxide got out the darkest of the stains, but it’s still not scarf-worthy. Instead, I decided to make a knitting bag for myself.

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It has a square base and a pyramid top, with no bind-off and a handy wrist-strap. My mom agreed to model it – looks like she needs to improve her knitting technique a bit 😉 She’s holding a sweater I’m currently in the process of designing – stay tuned for updates on that!

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Here’s a link to the pattern on Ravelry – it’s free! http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/knitting-wristlet

I made the robin’s-egg and the black-and-white into simple cowls for my friends. The first is based on the Drop Stitch Cowl – a Ravelry staple. The Lion Brand yarn is a bit stiff, making the drop-stitches rather annoying. It bulks up the scarf’s volume quickly, though, which is useful when yarn is limited.

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http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/drop-stitch-cowl-3

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The second is even simpler – stockinette with a few rows of seed stitch to keep it from curling. This one’s my favorite – I think it looks a bit like constellations in a night sky.

Thanks for reading!