A tale of two winders

Another three months gone! Time just keeps slipping by without me noticing, it seems, but I’m hoping these periods of blogging silence will soon be at an end. There are a lot of things going on in my life at the moment, but I’m taking steps to allow myself enough time to write again, even if it’s just a short post or two a week.

This week, I wanted to share some pictures and info about a recent order I placed with Knit Picks. If you haven’t heard of them, they’re an awesome online store that sells yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks, and tons of other handy tools for yarn-minded individuals. I’ve ordered a ton from them in the past, and I can tell you with utmost sincerity that I’ve never been disappointed in an item I’ve bought from them.

Let me show you what I got this time!

A new hand winder! When I first started knitting and crocheting enough to need one, I bought a crappy Loops & Threads winder at Michael’s. That sucker was $30, but luckily I had a 50% off coupon at the time. Let me tell you, that thing has given me such a headache! It’s just not a great design, and I can’t tell you how many times T has teased me for mumbling angrily in the corner as I attempt to wind my yarn up into pretty little cakes.

I took the time to test out my new winder before writing this entry, and it’s far superior to the Loops & Threads winder in many ways. For one, the little dootybob that holds the yarn is stationary in the Knit Picks winder. The Loops & Threads one swings back and forth, which causes the yarn to fall off the front or back of the cake that you’re trying to wind. (If you’re really unlucky, it’ll get stuck in the wheel! Ouch!)

Another thing I noticed that made it way better for me is the Knit Picks winder has this particular way of rotating that winds the cake up all nice and neat with this pretty sort of criss-cross pattern. It seems like it winds tighter and neater than the Loops & Threads winder.

Last but not least, the Knit Picks winder was super affordable at $20 (plus shipping). You can get the Loops & Threads one for cheaper using a coupon as I did, but at the end of the day, I really wish I had just paid the extra $5 and gone for the Knit Picks brand. It would’ve saved me a ton of time and headache.

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Next, I decided to splurge and buy a swift! If you don’t know what a swift is, it’s a tool for holding yarn that you’ve bought by the hank (or spun yourself) as you wind it. It expands using a mechanism similar to an umbrella, and it spins freely to allow you to easily wind your yarn without worrying about tangling.

I’ve been hand-spinning quite a bit recently, and I have a couple hanks of yarn ready to be wound. I’ve put it off until now because I was afraid of knotting all my hard work up, but it won’t be a problem with this swift around!

IMG_2695-01Lastly, Knit Picks was having a special where you get a free hank of yarn if you spend $50 or more. I chose this beautiful lace weight yarn. The line is Shadow and the color is Tidepool Heather. It’s 100% merino wool, and it’s amazingly soft. I can’t wait to make something with this. I have a project picked out, but it’ll have to wait until I finish some of my current WIPs.

(Also, I was not paid by Knit Picks, or anyone else for that matter, to write this post. I just really loved the stuff I bought and wanted to share. 🙂 )

I love duplicate stitch!

I’ve dabbled in colorwork a little bit in the past, knitting up little swatches of fair isle or striping, but I’ve never attempted to incorporate colorwork into a project. Colorwork kind of terrifies me, to be honest. I’m afraid to ruin a perfectly good project and hours of labor because I’ve made it halfway through a project only to realize that I miscounted my rows or stitches, my design is off, or some other knitting mishap like that. I know it’s silly to think that way because I’ll never make progress if I don’t try. Which is why I’ve decided stick my toes in the water and see how it feels.

In my last post, I showed off my first attempts at colorwork with my striped beanie and my Overwatch hat. And now I regret being afraid of colorwork all this time! It was much simpler than I first thought it would be, and there weren’t any major hiccups. Of course, I wasn’t doing anything super advanced, but still, through this experience, I think I’ve overcome my aversion.

Also, I’ve completely fallen in love with duplicate stitch! For those of you that aren’t familiar with the technique, it’s when you take a tapestry needle and make copies of (or duplicate) your knit stitches on top of your work using different colored yarn to make a design. It’s much simpler than intarsia or fair isle because you knit the item using just one color all the way through, then you come in later and add the design.

I’ve had a ton of fun coming up with ideas for designs, and the Overwatch hat was so popular that I got a request for a custom piece! I probably won’t do any more pieces like this because it’s just too time consuming, especially considering some of the other things going on in my life right now. But it came out great so I wanted to post it!

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The recipient chose the colors and told me the designs they wanted so I did the best I could. They seemed super pleased with the work.

I guess what I’m trying to say with this post is this: if you’ve never tried duplicate stitch before, you really ought to give it a shot. It’s amazing and the amount of things you can do with it is literally endless.

For anyone who wants to try it, you can find a great video tutorial by Knit Purl Hunter here.

Christmas 2016

Even though I told myself that I wouldn’t make handmade Christmas gifts this year, I ended up making some anyway. As before, I wanted to share them here since I’m really happy with how they came out.

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First, I made several bath poufs for my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law. I packaged them with some facial masks, bubble bath, and bath salts. Unfortunately, the bath pouf in the picture isn’t one of the ones I gifted. I didn’t have time to take pictures of them. It’s the same pattern though!

I kind of hate those plastic bath poufs that you buy at the store. It’s almost impossible to clean and rinse them out completely. Once they mold and start to smell, there’s nothing you can do except throw them away. (And they don’t even clean that well!)

These cotton poufs are awesome though! The texture of the yarn scrubs really well and leaves you feeling super clean. Once you’ve used it, you can just throw it into the wash and they’re clean and ready to go next time.

I guess the argument could be made that you could just make regular washcloths, but bath poufs are so fun! I had to make at least one. (But I really made four.)

The pattern is just called “Bath Pouf“, and I used one skein of cotton yarn for each pouf.

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I’ve been really keen to write a few hat patterns lately, so I decided to make some hats to become more familiar with their construction. This particular hat has been in my library on Ravelry for a while now. I can’t believe I’m just now getting around to it!

One of the coolest things about this pattern is the neat little pin-striping effect you get. I love finding new techniques for unique designs so I think I’ll be trying this on other projects!

The pattern is All Grown Up Striped Slouch hat.

I crocheted it with Caron Simply Soft and Lion Brand Heartland. The colors matched so well, and I feel like the difference in the fiber really added some interest!

Last but not least, my colorwork debut!

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My brother-in-law loves the game Overwatch so I knew exactly what to make for him for Christmas! And he loved it, yay! I know he loved it because he wore it out in public… I know, right!?

Clearly, this is my most successful gift to date!

The body of the hat was made using the pattern Siksak, but I made the design myself and stitched it on using duplicate stitch. It was my first time ever trying duplicate stitch, but I’m in love with it. I never want to knit anything plain ever again!

I used Caron Simply Soft for the whole thing. It came out so fluffy and warm!

All in all, everyone seemed pleased with their Christmas gifts. I was so relieved to see how well they were received.

So, friends, do you make gifts for Christmas? What do you think was the best and/or worst gift you ever gave? Looking forward to seeing your stories in the comments!

Not too good to spit (splice)

Over the past week I’ve been reorganizing my yarn stash. There were tons of skeins that I had forgotten I’d bought so I decided to roll them into tidy cakes for easier storage. Everything was going smoothly, but I hit a snag as I was caking (Can I make “cake” a verb?) some rather expensive sock yarn I’d bought last year.

I had settled into a good rhythm and was happily spinning along when I found the end of my yarn even though I was only halfway through the skein. Upon inspecting the skein closer, I found that 5 or 6 threads had been cut through in this one particular area! My guess is that someone nicked the skein with a razor while opening the shipping packaging. The threads were really well hidden so I never noticed!

So I learned my lesson: always dig around and check the skeins thoroughly before purchasing.

Now that I had identified my problem, I decided to try out a technique that I had heard about before: spit splicing! Even though my yarn was only 50% wool, I thought it’d be worth it to try it anyway. I was so concerned about saving my pretty sock yarn that I was willing to do whatever it took.

For those of you that aren’t familiar, spit splicing is exactly what it sounds like. You spit on your wool and, using heat and friction from your hands/pants, felt it back into one piece. I’ve seen some people online say that they don’t like the idea of getting saliva on their yarn, but in my opinion, you wash it after you finish your project so why does it matter?

Let’s just say that it worked wonders, and I was able to save my whole skein of sock yarn with minimal loss of material! I tried the spit splice, now I’m a believer!

FO: Hand socks

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My brother was born without a hand. He’s not really sensitive about it, and he’s learned to do literally everything you could possibly think of that a two-handed person can do. (You should see him play video games!)
One problem he does have is that he can buy all the pairs of gloves he wants, but his “nub”, as he calls it, is always left to suffer in the cold. So he requested that I make him a glove with a little sock for his nub. There is no way I could deny a request like that so I immediately got to work on these.

The pattern I used for the full glove is Basic Glove Pattern by Harry Wells. (It’s a free pattern!) I just winged the nub sock, which came out perfect, yay! This was my first time doing the fingers of a glove so I had a few hiccups along the way, mostly involving rejoining the yarn for each finger. I was left with these gaping holes that looked horrible. The pattern recommended closing them up with the yarn tails, but they were so huge! I was concerned that there would be too much of a gap to close it all the way with just the tails so I knit and unknit several fingers until they were to my satisfaction. My brother was super pleased with them, so mission accomplished!

Yarn: Knit Picks Comfy in Black