Tuesday, June 30, 2015

At Last, My Arm is Complete Again

I was teaching a class and complaining that they don't make bent-tip darning needles that are the right size for socks. One of my students said, "Um, they totally do. They're right over here."


That is all. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Friday, June 26, 2015

Sock Knitting Class

No matter how many times I do it, I get a kick out of making just the heel turns with my students. Here you see, in gray, just the absolutely most vital part of the Balbriggan heel. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Colorwork or Texture?

Again, I swear I was paying attention in church, but LOOK at those grates! So pretty!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Mystery Slippers

One of my students brought this in to my class. I deconstructed it for her and wrote up some instructions that I think will work. But, just in case, I thought I'd check and see if anyone out there knows the pattern? It's mostly garter stitch, with a little ribbing. It appears to have been cast on at the back of the heel and knit back and forth. Seams run along the back of the heel and the top of the foot. 

Anyone? Bueller?

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Home for A Bell

Q: What is it? 

Me: I don't know, I just like it. 

I took a corner piece for some very fancy crown molding, painted it black, stenciled on some gold, and added a hook. 

It turned out to be the perfect "home" for a bell that a family member brought back from their travels. It's in our back hallway now, and you can even ring it as you walk by, if you wish. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Knitting for Dummies

Travis says that all humans are kind of dummies.

Knitting for Dummies may not seem like a great knitting book, and I don't think it should be the only knitting book you own. But, it does have really good illustrations and help for when you mess up, which most knitting books don't really cover. So, I recommend it for beginning to intermediate knitters. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Travis Yawn

I adore this little cat. That is all. Happy Wednesday, everybody!

Monday, June 15, 2015

When Degloss Becomes De-Paint

I took the doors off of a weird counter-thing that the movers brought from the old house. (We didn't really want it, but it wasn't nailed down, and before we knew what was happening, it was already on the truck.)

It's perfectly serviceable as extra storage in the garage, so we're using it that way. But, I ran out of things to paint and mess with, so I decided to use it for a little practice.

The doors are different colors. No, I don't know why. I took all of the hardware off and hit them with some deglosser. 

A lot of the paint simply came off! I guess someone must have added those darker colors in an attempt to improve the piece at some point. I actually kind of like the color underneath! I might try to just remove all of the top layer of paint, then leave it alone. (Or I might decide to practice stenciling on it, who knows?)

Friday, June 12, 2015

25 Free PDF Craft Guides from Craftsy

Craftsy sent me a link to 25 free guides to share with you!

They aren't all about knitting, but there's one that I think is perfect for World Wide Knit in Public Day - Knitting Stitches You Need to Know.

It's 18 pages and a perfect guide to:

Garter stitch
Stockinette stitch
Seed stitch
Waffle stitch
Kitchener stitch
Linen stitch
Bobble stitch

Share them around with new and new(ish) knitters this weekend!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Knitty Wrote About Me!

Reviews are every author's bread and butter, even if they don't know it. Hearing that a friend "gets" your work is a nice thing, but it's truly wonderful and exciting when it's another person in your field.

It takes a lot to write a book. I mean time, of course, and work, but also a little courage, chutzpah, guts, craziness, or whatever you want to call it. You write, you work, you sweat, you cry, and you do it all not knowing if it will be useful to anybody or if anyone will want to read it.

So, anyway, I'm very, very happy today.

Basement Studio

So, I finally went from this: 

To this:


and this:

Yes, Boomer is my constant companion in the basement!

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Beth Brown-Reinsel's Twined Knitting Craftsy Class + Enter to Win!

This post contains an affiliate link, but you know that doesn't influence what I say, right? 

In this Craftsy class, Beth Brown-Reinsel teaches a wonderful folk knitting technique from Sweden, Tvaandsstickning. In English, we usually call it "Twined Knitting." The class includes a lot of techniques and a full mitten pattern in twined knitting.

I'm a sucker for a new-to-me cast on!

When I first started knitting again in college, my sister took up spinning. I stumbled across twined knitting early on - and so I asked Lisa to spin me yarn in the "opposite" way - with a Z-ply. It got her some strange looks from more experienced spinners, at the time! (If you don't understand more than 5 words of what I just said, don't worry, Beth explains it really well and there are also graphics in the class to help.) I made a pair of mittens, at the time, with the wonderfully unique yarn my sister made.

Even if you don't go full-scale into twined knitting (and, really, you could, it's fascinating), you could still get a lot of use out of this class.

The cast ons, cast offs and color work in twined knitting are absolutely fascinating. They really look more like magic than knitting, in a lot of cases. It's worth learning it for just those techniques. It would be fun to use them to make a really simple fingerless glove or even a dishcloth a little more fancy.

Beth shows an absolutely gorgeous sweater in the class that is mostly "standard" two-color knitting, but has lovely twined knitting at the cuffs, collar and bottom edge. Truly inspiring!

She's also a clear-spoken and relaxed teacher. I love her style. She's really good at breaking down complex concepts and making everything simple.

The pattern in the class is for a mitten, but since you learn how to increase, decrease, pick up stitches, cast on and cast off, you actually have a lot of tools here to forge ahead with your own designs. Hats would be easy, as would scarves and cowls knit in the round. A sweater isn't out of the question, if you have the will to try it!

Beth has offered to give one lucky reader of this blog a free enrollment in her class! Leave a comment on this post by 6/16/15 to enter. I'll notify the winner on 6/17/15. Good luck!

Monday, June 08, 2015

Sugar Scrub + Sensitive Skin

I'm representing Beeswax Alchemy at work. It's a dangerous thing, being a crafty person and working in crafty marketing. You find yourself being pulled into trying new things!

I'm not going to try to make candles or soap (yet), but I had to try making sugar scrub. 

Basically, you round up your ingredients, measure them, melt them, stir, and put it into jars. Easy!

I've made it with vanilla fragrance and I love it! I might try lavender or some blends at some point, but right now I love vanilla so much, I don't really want to branch out too far. 

I had to make a few changes to Petra's recipe. I'm allergic to mangoes, avocados, bananas, and any fruit that has a pit. Mango and avocado butters are used in a ton of natural beauty products, so I simply have to skip most of them. I played around a bit with substitutions for the mango butter Petra used in the scrub, and I'm really happy with the results. 

My mom, my sister and I all also have super-sensitive skin. A lot of products just don't work for us. The morning after I made my first batch of scrub, I think I scared Petra a little bit with my effusive email. The scrub made my skin soft, smelled fantastic, AND didn't make my skin react! I sent jars to my mom and sister, and they're really excited, too. 

People who don't have sensitive skin won't get this, but it's so frustrating to basically never try anything new because you're afraid of your skin freaking out. I used a certain shampoo for years that I loved. Then, one day, I had hives all of the way down my back, wherever my hair touched my skin. Cross that one of my list! Getting a haircut or a manicure can be a problem, too, just because I'm not sure what they're going to use and I might have a reaction. 

For my second batch, I tried changing out some of the sugar for ground coffee and it worked and smelled fantastic - but clogged the drain. Oops. That's why it's always important to test, I guess! As soon as I get my hands on some finer-ground coffee, I'm going to try again. 

It's not going to replace knitting, but it's fun to have (yet) another creative arrow in my quiver. 2015 has turned into a Try New Things year, for me!

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Last Day: BIG Sale on Every Craftsy Class

Try something new, explore something old, or just enjoy the chance to learn more about the crafts you love. The big Craftsy class sale (ending tonight), along with their love-it-or-your-money-back guarantee, is your chance to jump right in! (If you use my link, I get a little help along the way, too.)

Friday, June 05, 2015

"One Lifetime Isn't Long Enough" and Weekend Class Savings

After our visit to the American Swedish Institute (which is just amazing, on so many levels), I thought, "Huh, maybe I'll do a knitting pattern incorporating that amazing Hilma Berglund quote."

It's kind of a good thing that I didn't start on that thought! This week, I picked up Swedish Handknits and, well, there's a glove design that does that right on the cover. :)

P.S. - This Sunday, I'll be at Park the Street 2. Come say hi!

P.P.S. - There is a HUGE sale this weekend on Craftsy classes. Every class is up to 50% off. (If you click through this link to check it out, it helps me no matter which class you choose, so, you know, please do so!)

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Creative Options Medium Rack System

It's a funny name, but a very useful product! Creative Options sent me one to try, in a new color (I found one online, but it's a different color.)

I had to admit, I really couldn't think of a way to store knitting stuff in this. Maybe a knitter who had a truly massive button collection could use this, but really, I think its true calling is in holding hardware and paintbrushes (and, maybe, also stamps and sewing supplies.) The storage on top is nice without being too large. The drawers inside the system come out and can be customized, which is great. I'm using mine for: 

Hardware storage, when I take hardware off of things. 


And my smaller bottles of paint and little things like cup hooks.

I love it!

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Sock Seams

Modern knitters are often a bit shocked to hear about sock seams that run under the heel (and even, under the entire foot, as in this example from the American Swedish Institute.) It's from the 1920s or the 1930s.

It's hard to see in this photo, but I swear the seam is there. It runs all of the way from the top of the cuff, down around the heel and under the foot to the toe. 

I think people did have tougher feet back then. Shoe style and fit expectations can change how a sock really "needs" to fit and feel, too. But, people also had different expectations of their clothes. Now, comfort is the most important element of most of our clothing. Then, practicality, cost, durability, and style were all more important, usually, than flat-out comfort. 

Socks with seams down the back and sole are easy to make on a regular knitting machine (someone, please correct me if I'm wrong). That made them inexpensive and widely available. But, it also explains why hand-knit socks were such a focus of knitting for war efforts, even during WWII. Most hand-made socks wear better, generally, and provide better padding in heavy boots than most machine-made socks, especially if you are comparing a sock with seams to a sock without seams.

I grew up wearing machine-knit socks with seams across the top of the toe. It never bothered me - until I tried my first pair of hand-knit socks. After that, there was no going back!