Monday, April 24, 2017

On the Spice Market Shawl from Blazing Needles - Day 2

Flying colors...

Ah, the colors!  For someone who can’t put colors together, I sure love to watch how brilliantly other people do it.  The interplay of hue and design in this piece is nothing short of stunning—even at this early stage.

The construction is no slouch, either.  German short rows are a technique I’d heard of, but never tried.  The unique treatment of the pivot stitch gets rid of that pesky space that always shows up in other short rows.  It’s nearly invisible in this shawl.  

It’s a technique worth learning, but one that is best acquired in video.  I’d read the written instructions twice, but couldn’t quite picture how the pivot stitch was “pulled up” on top of the needle…until I managed to find a video.  After that “Aha! So that’s what they mean” moment, it was smooth sailing, and I grinned with satisfaction of having added another tool to my knitter’s toolbox.

There are a lot of colors involved, but the nice thing about this project is that you’re only really working with two colors at a time, so the project—at least for now—is still nicely portable.  That’s good, because I’m traveling this week.  You don’t want to be near me if I have to travel without my knitting, but I don’t want to be lugging a big bag of yarn around, either.

Yes, the rows are getting longer, but I don’t yet mind.  The stripes and nifty little starry polkadots of this section are too delightful to let me care.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

April Reader Who Crochets--Lisa Leoni

It's the third Wednesday of the month, and that means meeting a Reader Who Crochets! DestiKNITters, meet Lisa Leoni.

Lisa, what are you crocheting right now?
I’m working on a brain beanie, but keep re-starting because I’m not getting the beanie size right. It’s a fun pattern! It’s a standard beanie, then a long crocheted strand sewn to the beanie to look like a brain. I’m making the whole thing in a light pink, requested by a friend. 

What feels like your favorite/greatest crochet accomplishment?
I recently finished a simple blanket for my baby cousin and I’m pleased I completed it. One of my bad crafting habits (beyond buying so many craft supplies) is starting lots of projects, but not finishing them. The number of times I’ve had to tear out blankets because I forgot what stitch or needle size I used…*sobs* I’m thrilled I finished this one! I’m always more motivated when it’s a gift instead of just for myself. 

What feels like the worst crochet mistake/foible/wrong choice youve ever made?
Few things in crochet have hurt worse than getting inches deep in a blanket to realize it’s not wide enough. Gah! I should spend more time making gauges and calculating things out.

Do you have a favorite stitch?
My interests vary wildly. Depending on the intensity of the project and how much I want to concentrate, my favorite stitches vary. I do tend to enjoy the basics so I can watch TV or listen to an audiobook without having to carefully count.

Metal or wood needles?
I had exclusively metal needles and hooks for a while because they were handed down to me, or I bought kits from big box craft stores. A couple of years ago I took a scarf project with me on a vacation to the United Kingdom and lost my crochet hook. I went to a nearby store and found a beautiful wooden needle with a rainbow of colors. It’s now my favorite! Aside from my late grandmother’s set – those are special. I used a plastic one recently, but it has a bend to it and is hard to work with.

White chocolate, milk chocolate, or dark chocolate?
*wipes milk chocolate from mouth* Milk chocolate, all the way!

Coffee or tea?
Black coffee. I don’t want anything between me and my ambrosia. 

Whats your favorite Allie novel?
I think I’ve connected with The Perfect Blend the best. Such a fun read! I’m enjoying that whole series.
What are you reading now?
I’m between books right now, but next up in my TBR pile is “I Dare You!” by Farrah Rochon. She recently spoke at a local event and was so wonderful. I can’t wait to read one of her books!

Do you have a favorite crochet/knitting character from a book, movie, or television show? 
I enjoy the knitting element and characters in Penny Reid’s “Knitting in the City” series. 

Give a shout out to your favorite local yarn store.
When I want the good stuff for a special project, I go to:
Rosemary Ridge Farm Yarn & Fiber Arts 
226 S Main Street
Independence, OR

As a thank you for being featured, Lisa receives a three-skein collection from Knitche and a copy of A Ranger for the Holidays for herself and an ebook of My So-Called Love Life for her friend. You can, too! If you'd like more information on how to be featured on Readers Who Knit/Crochet, email me at for details.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

On the Spice Market Shawl from Blazing Needles - Day 1

Checking all the boxes...

I love kits.

Especially on projects where color—or more exactly color combinations—are crucial. God has given me many skills in life, but putting colors together has never been one of them.  

Pick out a yarn, a single yarn, and I’m great.  I know exactly what I want when I see it.  Tell me I have to combine that yarn with others, and it’s a crime to leave me unsupervised.  It will not end well, I assure you.

So when you take a shawl that dramatically combines six different colors, you can bet I’m not going into that alone.  I drooled over this shawl when I saw it on the wall at Blazing Needles. I was near giddy when owner Cynthia Mills said I could have the kit as my Knit-Along project.  A stunning array of Shibui Stacatto in colors perfect for me, eye-catching in the way I love shawls to be, a generous size, funky and artistic but not fussy. This shawl pretty much embodies my check-list for the perfect knitted accessory.

It has only one flaw—if you can even call it a flaw.  A full-sized shawl on size 2.5 needles means a lot of stitches. Sure, most of them are garter, but there are some luscious color changes and ingenious German short rows to entertain me. And yes...the rows get longer as you go.  You already know how I don't deal with that well. 

Still, I'm absolutely in love the interplay of colors so far.

Happy Easter and Passover, DestiKNITters!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Little Cotton Rabbit from Willow Hill Yarn Company — Done!

So cute...

I love it when a project comes together. 

And really, how much more satisfying can you get than an adorable rabbit just before Easter?

We won’t talk about how I had to stuff the arms after I attached them (oops!) or how the dress is a smidge too big, because just look at her.  She’s as cute as cute can be.

There was only one way to improve on this wonderfulness, and her name was Grace. I knew this bunny needed to be in hands as cute as she was. With no relative in appropriate age range, I opted for the nearest bundle of sweetness and handed off my bunny to Grace with Easter glee.  I’d had all the fun I needed making it, now it was time for Grace to get to enjoy her.

Thanks, Willow Hill, for a perfect Eastertide yarny adventure!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Little Cotton Rabbit from Willow Hill Yarn Company — Day 5

Bunny body...

I’m so pleased.  My little rabbit looks just like I wanted her to.  Right down to the adorable little tail—which I opted to make tan like the rest of her body rather than white (half rebellion, half not wanting to haul myself upstairs to my yarn stash and hunt for white yarn).

The body proportions feel right to me, and the level of cuteness is perfect.  So satisfying. And Julie Williams—as well as Emily from Willow Hill—is correct in identifying my new urge to give this adorable critter a wardrobe.  I keep looking at her thinking, “what about a white dress?  Or light blue?  If I lived in Salt Lake, I would definitely join the knitting group at Willow Hill that will be making sets of clothes for Little Cotton Rabbits.  If I had grandchildren or young nieces, this could easily become an addiction.

I did discover, upon review, that I’d made the dress with the wrong size needles.  As such, it’s just a touch larger than it ought to be.  My bunny has a maxi dress rather than just a Sunday jumper.  But I think once I block it, it will still suit her just fine.

I admit, the stuff-and-construct aspects of projects like this aren’t my favorite thing.  All that poking, seaming, sewing, and fretting—I’d really rather just knit. But the payoff for this project is superb. I love it.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Little Cotton Rabbit from Willow Hill Yarn Company — Day 4

Lucky rabbit's foot...

I wasn’t at all sure this would work. Stitches didn’t match up the way they were supposed to, and I was working on such a tiny scale. Like any cookbook or Pinterest page, the pressure of living up to the helpful-yet-slightly-intimidating photos runs deep.  Williams’ bunnies look classic and charming, as if they walked off a Beatrix Potter page.  I’m living in fear mine will look as if it walked off the page of a neurological disorders manual.

Fortunately, as my mother used to say, “If they’re staring at your shoes, you’ve already done something wrong.” As such, I place slightly less quality emphasis on bunny feet than a bunny face.  Remembering that the dress is finished and downright adorable (what a tactical advantage that decision was!), I worked my way through the complicated process of constructing the shoes, straps, and legs that make up our rabbit’s lower appendages.

I don’t think it turned out too badly.  The shoe straps are a bit clunky—had I to do it over again, I’d use a backwards-loop cast-on rather than a bulkier long-tail cast-on.  And I was sure the shoes would never curve into the blobby little feet they needed to be, but they did.  A chopstick proved truly useful to get the bits of batting where they needed to go. I think perhaps one foot is a tad larger than the other, but no one should really notice.

Truth be told, the proportions don’t look out of whack. And I am proud to say that all this assembling has enabled me to finally master the mattress stitch!  Adding the head and arms will tell the true tale, but I think we’re on the right track.  Or is that rabbit trail?

Friday, March 31, 2017

Little Cotton Rabbit from Willow Hill Yarn Company — Day 3


Now we get down to the nitty gritty of bunny architecture.  This feels more like science than art, but I have to admit it’s cute science.  I’m glad to take this in small sections, because knitting small items with tiny needles is hard on my hands.  

The body is relatively easy—a rounded rectangle that you seam up the back, but the legs get tricky.  You’ve got to pay seriously close attention. The feet are downright complicated, but Williams does provide both clear instructions and lots of useful photos.

I have to say, this Little Cotton Rabbit is smaller than I thought it would be.  A part of me wants to try this again with a larger gauge yarn to make a bigger bunny.  Having not yet even gotten through it the first small time, I know better than to trust that instinct.  

I’m nervous that the proportions will be all out of whack on this, but there’s no way to know until it’s finished.

So, I press on, building a bunny, part by bitty knitted part.