FO: Flying Dutchman Socks

The second round of Sock Madness had us knitting intarsia, which is a method I have never tired before. It’s a method of colourwork that is worked back and forth by twisting the threads, instead of carrying your yarn like fair isle. It is a preferred method of colourwork if you have a motif to knit rather than an entire band of colour change.

2013-03-27 22.39.04These socks have alternating colour stripes, and the stripes reverse for a motif that shows a ship on the leg. These were absolutely brilliant. The result of switching out the striping colours is a slightly hidden motif. The socks were named the Flying Dutchman of course in reference to the famed ghost ship.

I LOVED LOVED LOVED knitting these socks. The instructions were very clear, the pattern easy to follow, and I absolutely love these socks.

I want to knit them again. One for every day of the week.

I was concerned when I was knitting the ship that I may have been pulling my threads too tightly as I’m a fairly tight knitter; but I needn’t have worried. It came out beautifully, and I found that I didn’t have the spacing that I saw other knitters have on the same sock.

These were knit with an alpaca blend for the purple, and Red Heart Stardust for the peach.  The alpaca is not the best for socks, I admit, but I hope that if I stick to the hand washing/air drying of them they will last a bit (and that will give me a chance to knit more!).

I also found I really really really wanted these to be a sweater vest. Maybe one day?

Needless to say, I loved these so much that they were knit up in no time at all, and I advanced to round three of Sock Madness without any issue.

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FO: Sock Madness the first

If you have been reading my blog for a while you know I partake in Nerd Wars on Ravelry; a 3 month crafting challenge (tournament 8 sign ups begin May 15, btw!). This past tournament I participated in a different team that I normally do and one of the discussions we had was about another tournament called Sock Madness.

Sock Madness emulates March Madness in that it gives out 8 knit sock patterns and challengers whittle down tournament style to see who is the fastest knitter. I found this intriguing  and though I realize my sock knitting speed is far from being fastest, I did want to see how far into the tournament I could get.

2013-03-19 21.32.15The first sock pattern issued was Sockdolager. This is a cuff down sock with a fleegle heel and kitchener toe. The leg has a chevron pattern that looks really great in a self striping yarn.

The pattern was super easy. In fact, I am sure this is the first knit I have ever done where I didn’t have any dropped stitches or errors on my part at all. It was a very easy, pleasant knit.

2013-03-19 21.33.41That being said, I don’t like it. I really really want to, but I just don’t. I originally knit it in a blue Red Heart Stardust yarn. It is a pretty yarn, but as I went it seemed to not suit the sock. Once I finished it, the sock came out too large despite multiple measuring as I went along. It turns out the first sock was knit with 2.75 mm needles rather than 2.5 mm, which would account for most of the issue.

I also felt like this sock was emulating a mid-80s sweater. You  know the ones I mean. The bulky striped sweaters that were worn with tight pants and high tops. And everyone wore them.

So I tried the second sock in a different yarn and the correct needles. I had some Wollemeise remaining from my Wingspan and it did come out a little bit better. The fit was closer, and as the yarn has a bit more structured to hold up. By this time, however, I decided I just didn’t like those darn chevrons enough to keep the pair. They are now pulled out and the yarn waiting for another project.

As far as Sock Madness is concerned, however, I made it through the first round.

FO: Hobbes

HobbesI had intended this project to be finished in time for my nephew’s birth as well. Unlike the baby diamonds blanket, I was too late for that event, but he does have it now.

This is a free pattern that is fairly easy to work up. There is a bit of free thought involved here and you do need to do a few steps in a manner that suits you the best. The designer does do her best to give you as clear instructions as possible, but sometimes that isn’t always possible.

The only changes I made were the face pieces were crocheted instead of using felt. I did place his eyes a bit too high, but otherwise I think this guy is absolutely perfect – right down to his crooked mouth. The only problem with finishing him is now I need to crochet five more for each member of this family.

FOs: Baby coccoons

I do a bit of custom orders for folks through my shop, and recently did some baby cocoons as photo props.

Mermaid tailThe first was a mermaid tail. This was a knit pattern from 4aSong on Etsy. This was a pretty easy and enjoyable knit. I like the effect the drawn forward yarn had on the tail to create a scale effect. The tail itself was pretty easy, and the whole thing knit up very quickly.

Mermaid tail

Aside from a small error in the pattern (line 103 should read as line 87), I had absolutely no issues with this pattern.

Special thanks to Pinkie Bear for modelling.

The next cocoon I worked up was not so lovely. I purchased this pattern, and quite frankly am irritated I spent the $3.50.

carrot cocoonIt is no secret I knit and crochet a lot of free patterns.  I’m fully aware that you get what you pay for and with free that is no exception.

Having purchased this pattern, I would have expected it to be at least better written than a free pattern. This read to me like it was someone’s notes after the fact and she forgot half of what she did. There were errors all over the place, no indication of colour changes in the hat, it was not clear at all what needed to be done with the top of the carrot. Double crochet rows were to be started with a single crochet, which of course doesn’t match the height at all and if I had started each row this way, each row would be horribly messy and lopsided.

In the end, I did it my way, and could have spent my money elsewhere. Quite frankly, it baffles me since this designer has 109 patterns up on Ravelry, many with a lot of loves to them. I honestly don’t think I’m expecting too much from an obviously experienced designer to have some clarity in her patterns.

Lesson learned, I guess. Not everything can be a rose every time.

FO: Baby Diamonds Blanket

Baby diamonds blanketThis was a project I started in November, and took me a bit longer than I wanted to get it finished. I had intended this blanket to be finished before my nephew was born; and it was, by only a few days. The trick now was to get it out to him before he turned 20. Since making it to the post office seems to be an issue for me.

This pattern came from a stitch dictionary, The Complete Photo Guide to Crochet. Actually, it has a super long title, you’d think this was written in the Renaissance, but no. For brevity I’m shortening the title here. I’ve actually reviewed the book here.

Baby Diamonds blanketAnyway. This blanket uses a Tunisian Entrelac method, which is a very interesting technique. Once you get going, it is pretty brainless crochet, and if you are doing it correctly, there is not even any need to count as it seems to form itself. It makes for a nice substantial fabric, not too heavy, but not something light and breezy. It was enough that I thought adding a liner to the back might be too much for a baby.

Baby diamonds blanketIf I remember correctly (seriously, I need to at least draft these blog posts when I’m done with a project, or take better notes), I did more rows than the pattern called for just to make sure my own colour pattern matched. As a result, my border would not work out in the count it suggested so I created my own border. It’s pretty similar to the pattern, just a basic shell around the outside, ensuring a corner shell was applied in the right spot.

Photo courtesy of my sister

Photo courtesy of my sister

You will be happy to learn I did make it out to the post office before my nephew’s birthday, in fact he only received it a few months too late. Here he is enjoying his new blanket.

One other little thing to share, I try to get my photos with as much natural light as possible, so I propped this baby up in the window to get some good shots. When I was done, my son grabbed his doll blanket and put it in the window as well, so that I could take a picture of that, too.

2013-02-06 12.44.38

FO: Dragonfly Wings

Wow it’s been a while, I apologize for the hold up. I was on Ravelry this morning doing some updates and realized it’s been 10 finishes since I last blogged. Ten. That’s quite a while.

So I thought I would share my most recent one first since I’m super excited about it, and I’ll post over the upcoming weeks about the other finishes.

Dragonfly shawlThe Dragonfly shawl is complete (Iink is to my Ravelry project page). I used Central Park Fingering in the colour Roller Rink by Nooch Fiber.

This was such a fantastic project, I cannot express how excited I am. I felt like dancing every time I picked up the needles to work on it, I was sad every time I had to put them down.

The pattern is SUPER easy, I love that the designer put the stitch count at the end of every row. Since my most used knitting tool is my crochet hook (to pick up my dropped stitches), this was invaluable.

DSCF2588This took me three months to complete, not because it wasn’t easy knitting, but because I paced myself to do it right. During this time, I’ve knit a few other things that showed exactly how badly I’ve been doing my increases. In fact, if you look at the center row of this shawl, my increases look more like yarn overs instead of M1L’s and M1R’s.

Dragonfly Wings

That’s not to say they were horrible enough to pull out, just that if you didn’t realize they weren’t supposed to be yarn overs, you do now.

Adding beads was far easier than I thought it should be. Not that I’m complaining, mind, but I had more trouble finding beads than I did actually putting them on. Thankfully my daughter has a nice collection of beads that she was willing to share with me, since our local stores were woefully lacking.

Dragonfly shawlThe yarn is delightfully squishy. It feels fantastic on the skin, and it is absolutely fantastic once it’s blocked.

If you are looking for a new project to cast on, and are thinking of lace, I highly recommend this one. Super fast, super easy, and super rewarding.

Recipe: Bacon Broccoli Pesto

We eat an awful lot of pasta in this house, which is quite unseemly for an Irish family as my husband likes to remind me. However, it’s cheap and plentiful and we love it.

Well, most of us. The girls don’t like it as much as Scott and I do, and would like to see a bit more variety than the red sauces and cheese sauces we normally use. I’m pretty sure I could never tire of a good bolognese, but there are others in the family to consider.

So we’ve been trying out pesto, and I think last night I came up with the best combination ever. Because one of the deciding ingredients is bacon, and we all know how full of win that is.

DSCF2548So here’s what I used:

1 pkg bacon
2 cups mushrooms cut into large chunks
2 red onion, sliced into large slices
a fair amount of fresh broccoli (we love broccoli so I added quite a bit)
450g rotini (enough to make about 6 cups cooked. I did mention we love pasta?)
Pesto sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Here’s what I did:

I cooked the pasta and broccoli separately. I almost always cook the broccoli separately since we are pretty picky about how we like it, and don’t prefer it mushy or burnt. So when its added to anything, I pre-cook it, then add it in at the end. (This includes stirfrys, etc.)

I cut the bacon into chunks, and set it to fry. Once it was almost done, I drained most of the fat, leaving a little bit so the rest didn’t stick to the pan. I added the mushrooms and onions, and fried it until the onions were sauteed the way we like it.

DSCF2549Once everything was cooked up, we just mixed it all together. That’s it. We used a jar of pre-made pesto, since it’s still the middle of winter here in Canada and I don’t have access to good fresh basil. Mix all the parts together, add your salt & pepper as you wish and voila. It is fabulous with a bit of parmesan as well.

This made enough for our family of five plus there are left overs for lunch today. Let me know what you think and what you would do differently!