merino

Monsters in the closet

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My very best friend just recently had a baby so I’ve been on a rampage gathering all sorts of baby-related patterns and things, and let me tell you that it is candy for the eyes! There are so many cute, adorable baby things out there, it’s like a knitter’s paradise!

You may (or may not) remember that I finished a gray baby blanket earlier this spring, and you may (or may not) remember that my honeybee gave me Rebecca Danger’s Big Book of Knitted Monsters for Christmas. Well wonders happened, and I put together a little gift for my friend including those two little beauties here:

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This is the very first time I’ve ever knitted a plush toy, and it was so much fun that I can foresee many-a-plushie for me in the future. The yet-to-be-named little monster (or Hugo the couch potato monster, as referred to by the author) was an easy, quick and fun knit, that provided lots of instant gratification and allowed me to combine two (otherwise unusable) small 50g skeins to create a unique, playful and soft toy for someone’s special little person. In this case, I used a little over half a skein of blue Malabrigo Silky Merino yarn and ¾ of a skein of gray Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool yarn, leaving some room for (maybe!) another smaller monster in the same color palette. Who knows?

Looking through the book, I fell in love all over again with all those adorable monsters and I can tell you that there might soon be an Angus the Attic Monster, an Irving the Icebox Monster, a Dot the Dress Up Box Monster or a Bea the Basement Monster in the works. Hurray for babies (and plushies)!

Peacock beauty

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The last few weeks have been crazy busy for me, both at work and in my personal life, and in my book that generally means dealing with A LOT of stress. As a form of damage control and to let off some steam I’ve been trying to crunch a few minutes of knitting or spinning when I can to (somewhat) try to keep the stress under control. Fortunately for me, it’s been successful on two fronts; I’ve been able to keep stress on a manageable level and I’ve been making great progress on some super fun yarny projects, so yay!

The first thing I want to show you is my last spin, a fingering weight navajo plied yarn I just finished yesterday using some malabrigo nube I had in stash, in color “solis”. It’s 112 grams and 407 yards of yummy merino goodness, and I’m really excited to show it to you because it’s the first time I’ve plied a full skein using the navajo plying technique, I am so thrilled!

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On the knitting front, I’ve also been making pretty good progress on my golden afternoon sweater, an all-over lace pattern called Clementine Pullover, from Carole Francone. I am not thrilled with the pattern, I’ll give you a full review once the sweater is done, but I must say that I absolutely LOVE the lace stitch. To make this the perfect summer top, I’m using some Euroflax Sport Weight yarn in color Goldenrod.

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Double First

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Earlier this week, I finished this amazing Askews Me Dickey cowl from Stephen West for my good friend Alex, and I couldn’t be more pleased at how it turned out! This project is a double first for me, it’s the first time I knit anything from (the VERY popular) Stephen West, and it’s also is my very first brioche stitch project.

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Although it felt a little strange at first since I’ve never knitted brioche stitch and also because I don’t knit very often with more that one color at once, I must admit that I loved every single stitch of this amazing cowl; the pattern was easy enough to follow for a first-time brioche knitter, the yarn and pattern combo was perfect and the construction of the cowl itself was very interesting. As a bonus, the pattern also features my all time favorite I-cord  bind-off. Sweetness! All in all, I had a lot of fun making this project, and I can foresee many a brioche stitch in my future. I actually loved this cowl so much that I think I’ll make one for myself one in a different color some time this year, I’m very much looking forward to it!

Yarn A: 1 skein of worsted weight merino yarn, hand dyed by the lovely Yana from Artfil
Yarn B: 1 skein of Berroco Vintage yarn in black

Needle: 4.5mm caspian circular needle

And sometimes, magic happens!

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For the longest time, I’ve been wanting to make a project using some of the handspun yarns I have. I’ve been spinning for a couple years now and during this time I’ve made several yummy handspun additions to my stash.

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I must confess though that aside from my unsuccessful BlueSand Cardigan attempt currently wasting away in the slumber pile, I had yet to finish a project using any of those gorgeous handspuns, and I thought it was such a shame! But earlier this week, inspiration stroke as I was going through my friend’s activity feed on Ravelry, and noticed someone had made an Arika Cowl. The pattern immediately piqued my interest because I thought it would be a perfect match for my Cheshire Cat purple handspun; it was the right yarn weight and yardage combined with a fun and unusual construction for a cowl, with an amazing fringe as a bonus.

I got so excited that I immediately bought the pattern and cast-on on Monday. Tuesday, the body was done, and I still had a full skein left so I thought I could make a matching hat. Since I had decided at that point to make the cowl with buttons instead of a seam, I quickly went around the pattern database looking for a hat pattern with a button in about the same yarn weight, and found the (free!) Moss Stitch Hat pattern from Erin Anton. Just perfect!

And following this streak of sudden inspiration, magic happened…

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Tour de Fleece 2015 and stuff

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Well guys, I feel like I really owe you all an heartfelt apology. Although I have been keeping myself pretty busy lately with many fiber things, I have been selfish enough to not share it with you. Unforgivable, right? Well, to make amends, I decided to share with you all today what I’ve been working on in the last couple weeks.

First things first, I decided to participate again this year in the Tour de Fleece with the girls from Papote et Placote. However, as I am not a very competitive spinner, I’m simply tagging along at my own rhythm, never mind the slow turtle pace. Since the beginning of the tour, which was on July 4th, I have spun about 60 grams of yummy Malabrigo sweetness that I am quite happy about. Here’s what it looks like:

FotorCreatedI have not been a very dedicated spinner since my neck has been killing me for days now, but I do what I can. And since the Tour de Fleece has been putting me into a spinning mood, I have also been thinking about how to use all those beautiful handspun yarns I have, that I still haven’t touched. I know, I’m lowering my head in shame now but I have to admit that since I started spinning last year, I have not used a single yard of handspun. Shame on me! It’s not because I don’t like them, on the contrary! But I think I have been waiting for an illumination; for the perfect project to showcase my handspun yarn. And after many a thought about it, I think I finally found it. Here’s the magical project I have in mind for one of my latest handspun named heaven:

FotorCreated2Yep, the BlueSand Cardigan from La Maison Rililie! I paired my blue and purple handspun with 2 solid shades of gray in Cascade Heritage yarn. The pattern usually calls for DK weight but the yarn I chose is actually fingering weight, so I’ll use a modified gauge and simply follow instructions for one size up what I actually want. I’m so thrilled about this project!

Now that I shared my idea with you, I really want do know what you, wonderful spinners out there, generally use your handspun for! Do you spin with a specific project in mind or are you like me and you spin something and let it sit for a while until you find the perfect project for it? Please leave a comment below and let me know 🙂

The Spinning Mojo

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Since I have finished most of my current knitting projects now and didn’t quite feel like starting another big one, I decided last weekend to dust my poor little spinning wheel and give it some love. I have had the same project on it since March, and it wasn’t even because it was a LONG project (just a 4 oz merino roving) but truth is, I just didn’t feel like it (maybe I lost my spinning mojo?).  Either way, I wanted to get my rusty articulations back into shape because the Tour de Fleece is coming very quicky (start off is on july 4th) and I signed up to participate with the girls of Papote et Placote.

So I decided it was time to finish that project and take it off the wheel, so I took my little kiwi for a spin. The yarn I got out of it is a very fine fractal, 2 ply, lace to light fingering weight yarn with a generous 575 yards for 104 grams. I used the left over singles to spin a 3 ply navajo fingering weight yarn, it is 61 yards (14 grams) of pure cuteness. Yummy!

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The fiber I used was Malabrigo Nube in the color Zarzamora, it’s a beautiful mix of purple and green and blue.

Any of you guys participating in the upcoming Tour de Fleece?

New Release

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Hey guys!

Just popping here to let you know that my Fluttering Feet pattern has now been released, yay! 🙂 You can fin it here (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/fluttering-feet) and use the promo code “BIRDSOFAFEATHER” for a 50% off until the end of the month. Thank you all! 🙂

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Mock Cable Sweetness!

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There’s nothing that can quite compare to the feeling of accomplishment you get when finishing a big project, is there? There is a project I have been working on since early January that just recently came to an end; what was before a shapeless UFO suddenly became a beautiful garment, right before my very eyes.

What I mean is that I just finished the Evelyn Cardigan I was test-knitting for the lovely Paula Ladd, and I simply love it!

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This mock cable design is very delicate and elegant, and it was a pleasure to knit. This cardigan is worked seamlessly from the bottom up, and stitches are picked up and knit at the end for both button bands. The only three mods I made were to add waist shaping, add length and I did not knit the last neck decrease, or else the neck would have been too tight. It was a challenge for me because I generally have trouble keeping myself motivated until the end when knitting bottom up sweaters, but I am so glad I pulled it through because the finished piece is just so beautiful!

I also recently made a set of placemats I gave to a friend as a housewarming gift, and I simply LOVE the color scheme! I think I might use the idea for a few more, and maybe a bag or two 🙂

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And finally, I have been missing my wheel so I worked up a little spin this week. Here’s what I came up with:

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That’s it for me! What have you guys been up to, lately? What are your current projects?

FO Friday!

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Heyho crafties!

Just a short post to share with you guys my latest FO, a cutesy easy shawl started on September 27th, 2014 and finished on January 14th, 2015. It is my second FO of the year, W00T!! The pattern is called “Bamboo wedding shawl“, from Purl Soho, and the yarn I used is Cascade Heritage in the color Como Blue. I used a size 4mm needle instead of the 3.25mm needle the pattern called for because I have knitted with Cascade Heritage on 3.25mm needles before, and I just knew I wanted this shawl to be more airy and supple than that.

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/Crafty-Effie/bamboo-wedding-shawl-2
http://www.ravelry.com/projects/Crafty-Effie/bamboo-wedding-shawl-2

It is the second time I have knitted this pattern, the first time was a little over a year ago as a Christmas present for my mom. It was before I started blogging so there is no photo of it anywhere here, but here’s one just for the heck of it 🙂

1039842_10151909815602475_405873816_oAs you can see it’s very thick, very wide, full of mistakes and not very long to boot. It was also my very first lace project, and I must say I made a lot of progress since then. The pattern that seemed so complicated to me at first now feels so easy and relaxing to knit now, and the result looks so much better too. Ah, the miracles of time!