Thursday, December 18, 2014

Some birthday booty (er...ex-squeeze me?)

My Husband planned this elaborate birthday extravaganza for me in Chicago this last weekend. We stayed at the beautiful Palmer House in the heart of the downtown area that was walkable to our planned destinations.

What a ritzy place! It has a beautiful golden peacock door at the entrance and decorative ceilings on the lobby floor. It is now owned by Hilton.

Once we checked in, we fancied ourselves up and went to a great Italian restaurant before heading to the Nutcracker.
On Saturday, we ate breakfast at Meli's Cafe, which is a hip restaurant that prides itself on having a large smoothy/juice/liquor bar. We walked two blocks down to W. Polka Street to Loopy Yarns where I got some birthday booty. LOTS of amazing booty. What's that look for? You know, yarn loot? What where you thinking? 

Then, we did our annual Christkindlemarket shopping. It was a mad zoo! We waited for about half an hour in a mass line (or was it a line?) to get our hot spiced wine. 
I actually overheard someone talk about a birthday coupon, which ended up saving me 10% off my entire purchase because of that conversation. I mentioned that I was in town for my birthday and haven't been receiving emails from the last time I visited. She gladly gave me the discount. Yelp has mixed reviews about the employees, but they were courteous and friendly with me both (yes, I said both) times I came there. Let me explain:
I came in with the hopes of obtaining all yarn and roving for thrummed mittens for the boys in my life (plus mommy too). I was exited to see that they had many colors to choose from. The boys will have rainbow mitts, and my husband will have the green and natural colors, and mommy (me) will eventually have the teal and purple-pinks. The yarn?
I choose a natural shade instead of white in Cascade 220. My husband choose the grey colorway. 
I ended up returning Sunday to get a little bit more roving because I didn't want to run out since I've never done thrummed mittens and I had two sets of children mittens to do in rainbow colors. It's not like I could pop back at the store when I ran out. I figured having a little extra was way better than 'Scrooging it.'
I picked up some dark teal malabrigo yarn for a hat pattern I will whip up with large buttons at the rim.
These three skeins were a splurge. They are a sinfully-soft baby alpaca, cashmere, camel and silk blend in a soft heathered teal colorway (the real shade is slightly darker than the photo). The yarn is called "Road to China Light" in Abalone. You just have to rub it against your cheeks or squish it. It's heavenly. I imagine it will become a small shawl one day. I have about 480 yards total.
Buttons for upcoming projects. The dark teal/green is for the hat (malabrigo yarn above) and the triangular buttons is for my WIP "Mrs. Darcy Cardigan." I expect to use about 5 buttons, but bought one more just in case.

I was sick earlier in December, and my boys have been sick pretty much since October. After helping out at their Preschool on Thursday (one kid sneezed in my face), and from being in Chicago in general, I returned from my trip sick as a dog. I am now starting to act a little more human, now that my coughing is reducing, and not feeling so weak. I had that non-stop unproductive coughing that was eating at me. Not even medicine would curb the coughing.
I put my red cardigan on hold so that I can finish these socks in time for Christmas. I am halfway through the gusset. What's slowing me down is that I am doing tons of piano accompanying as a sub, with piles of new music to learn. This month has been totally exhausting. I am technically on break from teaching, but this is a temporary side job. I would have enjoyed more down time knitting and baking, but I wouldn't necessarily have gotten all of these opportunities to sub as a pianist at this particular church. Plus, what better time spent on practicing and music to play than Christmas?

Sunday, December 07, 2014

FO: Pumpkin Ale Sweater

Well, folks, I have finally gotten a chance to post photos of the finished Pumpkin Ale Sweater.

She's warm and snuggley, and just the ticket to complete a fall ensemble.

I barely scraped by, finishing it minutes before our last Thanksgiving dinner engagement. That's cutting it a little too close.

We had two Thanksgivings to attend, and I missed my deadline for the first one at lunch time. I was actually finishing the bind-off and pockets in the car! Try sewing with a sharp needle as a passenger in a car and count how many times you get stabbed.

I might have lost the time-battle, but won the war in the end.
One of the things that I like best about this sweater is that the cables are heavy in the back, and simple in the front. It's a yen-yang effect for knitting. 

Started: February 2014
Finished: November 27th, 2014
Needles: Size US5 and US7
Yarn: 11.5 skeins of Elann's Peruvian Highland Wool in "Harvest Heather"
Modifications: Needle size, and adding a couple of rows to the pocket and garter border 

Read past posts on this project:
Post 1     Post 2     Post 3     Post 4
The pattern was simple enough. The back panel really took the longest, and then things picked up pace rapidly after. I learned a short-row wrapless technique along the way for the hip shaping, and was pleased with the results.
I was impressed with Ysolda's finishing techniques to give this sweater a clean, professional look: slipped edge stitches, I-cord edging, wrapless rows to look invisible, etc. You can tell that the designer knew what she was doing when creating the pattern. 

She also takes a woman's natural shape into consideration, especially when it comes to the shaping in the back panel. As cabling can get heavy and not flattering at times, she made sure the shape the back so to make you look leaner from behind.
 My only one concern is that the shoulder feels a little saggy. It's a small gripe, but it fits fine. 
The pockets are generous, which means it must be sewn completely to the inside of the sweater so that it doesn't droop. I used a slip-stitch needling sewing method to do this, just like I did when attaching the liner to the pocket. 
I have completed one of my sleeves to the "Mrs. Darcy Cardigan." I am now working on the second sleeve. Knitting has slowed down greatly since I have a lot of piano accompanying to do this Advent season for a church in need, as well as having lost a week filled with illness and three trips to the doctor with my two boys having RSV. I'll send you an update soon though.

Monday, December 01, 2014

WIPS in the round

First off, I promised you the finished photos of my Pumpkin Ale Sweater. I have to break that promise. Our whole family has been sick, one if not both of the twins have RSV, fevers plus an ear infection, and it's been gloomy out (which makes for horrible lighting), so I'll just wait until things are back in order with our situation.

I didn't, however, have an unproductive knitting weekend and return empty-handed.
Can you believe that?  You can? ...Well, I can't!
I finished the first sock of one of my Christmas gifts, and casted on immediately for the second sock, because you know me...if I don't, it won't get knit! As much as you all love me (eh hem!) and have come to appreciate my yarnie eye-candy around here, we all know that this blog author is the #1 leading sock orphan contributor in society. It's a sad, sad, truth, but someone's gotta do it. ;)

I already have completed a few inches to the leg. It's a 2x2 rib in my KUAS colorway "Hawkeye," in a soft superwash blend finger-weight yarn. I usually don't go for ribbing with striping socks, but this person happens to be a huge Hawkeye fan, and I wanted the sock to fit like a glove. The colorway would have worked beautifully in plain stockinette.
Hawkeyes bleed black and gold, in case you didn't know that useless piece of info from a Hawkeye Alumn.

I'm so excited (and nervous) to be finally casting on for this cardigan! Seriously, I've been lusted over this project for years! Can you tell that I have been bit by the sweater bug? Just wait. I have more sweaters/cardigans in my queue. Mwa ha ha. Anyway, this is Mary Weaver's reworked pattern "Mrs. Darcy Cardigan" from the book "Knits that Fit." I have scoured Ravelry to see the fit situation for various sizes, and have seen that this model's cardigan doesn't exactly translate to looking quite so figure-friendly for any silhouette with the slightest (or more like me) of hip-shape (except all those in size XS), particularly in the deep-V shaping, so I'm going to have to be really careful to modify the pattern if I see it as an issue with mine. Which I'm sure there will be! I'm pear-shaped!

I purchased 4 skeins of Paton's Classic Wool Worsted for this project because I believe the finished project for this pattern begs to be blocked properly, and I didn't want to sacrifice wear-ability over saving $8. You know the saying: cheap yarn yields cheap looking projects. Even the nicest looking pattern can turn sour over bad yarn choices, weights, fibers, and especially wrong needle sizes.
I learned a new technique! Magic Loop! If you haven't learned this yet, or even know what I'm referring to, check out that 3 minute video and learn it! It's so easy and useful! I didn't have size US9 dpns for the sleeves, so I used this needle method to work the sleeves.  

I have already modified the sleeves. Believe it or not, but I have already added two sets of increases (2 stitches added each increase) by this point, and it's still this narrow. It fits like a glove, but I plan on adding one or two more increases because let's face it, most people don't have twig arms and I intend to wear something other than my birthday suit under it. :)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Give-away winner

Congrats! Stitchy McFloss! You have won the 2014 Thanksgiving Give-away grand prize! Please email me (knittingupastormATgmailDOTcom) with your name and an address to send this package to. 

Sorry for the suspense. I got home much later than anticipated...10pm and was too tired to announce yesterday. 

However, I have a Black Friday sale going on at Ravelry that will take 50% any or all KUAS patterns that you purchase today. Yowza! That's like .99 or $1.99 for almost all patterns! Was there something that you've been meaning to try out?

Coupon code:  Blacksheepfriday14

Sweater update later. I have finished it in time for my second Thanksgiving meal of the day yesterday. Meet you back here later? 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!  
Don't forget to enter in the Thanksgiving GRAND PRIZE give-away that ends at 8pm (CT).

I've been keeping so busy baking and doing holiday things with the boys and practicing like mad for piano accompaniments that finishing this sweater on the day of my deadline is cutting it a little too close! I did a couple more garter border rows this morning and as we speak, I am working on the I-Cord edging on this sweater. Then I have to sew in this last pocket (and technically block, but I think I will do a quick steam on the sleeves if I can and do some real blocking after the holidays). I will make my Thanksgiving lunch & dinner deadline! Good thing I don't have to cook today!
Photos of the finished sweater, and winner of the prize hopefully tomorrow. Catch you then.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

2014 KUAS Thanksgiving Grand Prize (ends 11/27 @ 8pm!)

Hi there! Happy Thanksgiving!
I've decided to flip-flop the place to win the grand prize and have it end here, on the blog rather than the facebook group page. So? Who wants to win this generous grand prize? This one will be won differently than the previous prizes. I will choose at random the winner from the comments from this post. Read below how to win.

How to win: 1 winner will be chosen at random. Please comment below answering this question to enter:
Who is the most influential person in your life? 
This is someone who has shaped or nudged you to be who you are today. This person doesn't have to be your parent or sibling.  This could be a teacher or even someone who hasn't even been in your life long...or at all. This could be a famous person, a person from a Youtube video, etc. REALLY, think about it... who do you owe some "thanks" to?
Deadline: Thursday, November 27th at 8pm (Central Time)
When announced: sometime after 8pm or 9pm! (Remember, it's Thanksgiving...)
If you win, email me your human name and an address to send your package...and thank that person who you mentioned!

Thank YOU for being part of this blog. Otherwise, I'm just talking to myself like a crazy yarn lady! :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Let the give-aways begin

I just wanted to let you know that the week leading up to Thanksgiving is a week filled with give-aways. It's my "thank you" to my readers who are an active part of this blog. I appreciate you and your continued support of my blog and work.

I won't post on this blog every time there is a give-away, so make sure you join the group so that you can receive a notification via Facebook. You have to be a member to win anyways. I'll try to do give-aways at various times of day due to different time-zones and work schedules.

To win is simple: just be the first person to answer the question in the post! That's it.

The final give-away (on Thanksgiving) is big! It' a secret though!

To my knowledge, no one has commented yet to the give-away as I write hurry up!

Just do me a favor if you win: pay it forward by thanking someone in your life who has helped make you who you are today (family, friend, teacher, etc.). 

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