Finished Objects

Hourglass Cowl

When I think about it, it’s kind of surprising how infrequently I wear things I’ve made. This project is an exception, though – I’ve put it in regular wardrobe rotation lately. I love the size, the colors, the pattern and the drape.

The Hourglass Cowl (free pattern on Ravelry) is really like two projects in one. The “front” of the piece has a curvy hourglass design…

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…with a ribbed edging. I used Boutique Unforgettable yarn in Echo. I have to say, the chain craft store brands have really been “upping their game” in the past few years when it comes to premium acrylic options. The Unforgettable line has become one of my favorites.

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The Hourglass pattern is definitely gorgeous enough on its own. It’s knit in the round, so there’s no need to worry about seaming. But wait, there’s more! 😉

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The reverse side knits up as a basket weave pattern. I can’t decide which side I like better.

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Here’s a closer look at the basket weave pattern, and the yarn. In manufacturer photos, the yarn often looks brighter than it actually is. As you can see, it’s actually a pretty muted color palette.

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Here’s a side-by-side look at the cowl’s dual personalities to give you a sense of scale. I really think this was the best possible yarn choice for this project. It’s one of those patterns that you’ll want to make over and over!

Hourglass Cowl

Uncategorized

Yarn & Heritage

Fiber crafts are rewarding for many reasons, but at times it’s really remarkable to consider how participating in the activities is part of our heritage. One of my other hobbies is genealogy, so I may be more invested in the concept than most. 🙂

I can trace quite a few branches of my family back to the 1700s (and much earlier in some cases). I’m so grateful for the work of the many generations before who painstakingly recorded the vital records of these branches (especially since other branches remain a mystery despite years of my own research). These genealogies also come with some family anecdotes, and I found a listing in one of my ancestors’ wills today that directly relates to my favorite hobbies:

[Name] spun the yarn for this coverlet in 1784 when their oldest child was an infant … This coverlet has been in use for every winter for 69 years. In 1858 I knit this fringe and sewed it on, as the old fringe was nearly gone.

Amazing. I wonder if anything I’ve made will last that long – here’s hoping! Of course, I have a more recent family connection in that I learned how to crochet from my grandma. It’s very cool to know that creating projects out of yarn goes way further back in the family.

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Uncategorized

Knitting Groups: Have You Joined One?

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I’ve never belonged to a regular knitting/crocheting group. I used to get together with a group of friends to work on various types of craft projects (mostly scrapbooking), but we drifted apart when, well, life intervened. I also hang out with crafty family members, which is so much fun.

But I do feel a little disconnected from the fiber crafters in my area, and it seems like a missed opportunity. I’d love other chances to meet others in the area who love yarn as much as I do! Apart from special events (which I haven’t attended for a long time) and the instances mentioned above, most of my crafting time happens with the husband, Netflix and the cat (when she deigns to grace us with her presence) for company.

Some crafters I know have to really concentrate on their projects when they’re working on them, and it can be tough for them to carry on a conversation. I can relate to this on some projects, so I think I’d have to pick something fairly simple/repetitive for a group meet up.

This is really just a long-winded, rambling way to ask: What has your experience been like with your local knitting or crocheting group?

Fun Stuff, Yarns

New Orleans

The husband and I celebrated a milestone anniversary this year with a cruise out of the Port of New Orleans. Neither of us had been to NOLA before, so we specifically chose this cruise so we could spend a couple of days there prior to setting sail. We stayed quite close to the French Quarter and focused most of our time in that area since our stay was short.

Naturally, the trip included a crafty shopping component. In the spirit of keeping things relevant around here, I’ll cut to the chase and deliver the yarn store goods first. Then, if you’re interested, stick around for some other trip highlights. 🙂

Yarn

The Quarter Stitch on Chartres St. is lovely, with a selection that’s broad without being overwhelming. There was definitely a “community” vibe when I was in the store – the staff was very friendly, stepping in to offer customers advice on patterns and chatting about the merits of different fibers with customers. Overall, a very pleasant experience.

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I picked up a skein as a souvenir of the trip. I just love it when yarn stores pack your purchases in fancy wrapping. Here’s mine, on the ledge of our hotel window.

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I’m a big believer in the importance of providing a unique and memorable customer experience. There’s a lot of competition in the market, and seemingly small gestures can turn a relatively ordinary experience (making a purchase) into something special. Ribbons? Tissue paper? Heart-shaped confetti and an adorable tag? My yarn purchase is still stored in this wrapping, in fact, and you can bet I’ll remember the store when I’m ready to use it.

And here’s my yarn – a skein of my beloved Blue Heron Rayon Metallic.

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I picked the Mossy Place colorway because of its fun and festive shades – a reminder of the vibrant character of the city. I also had my eye on the Tapestry colorway, but ultimately couldn’t resist this one.

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Gorgeous as always – I just love this yarn and save it for really special projects. (I just finished my Gail shawl in Turquoise – it’s blocked and drying as I type!)

Visiting

Although our stay was short, we discovered that there really is something for everyone who visits. And, apparently, anyone who is in the market for real estate. Whatever your stance on the supernatural, there’s a property for you. (Budget allowing, of course. 😉 )

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Food & Drink

One of the first orders of business was to check out the infamous Bourbon Street. The Pat O’Brien’s location on Bourbon Street has a beautiful courtyard – a welcome oasis after traveling. Hurricanes and mint juleps all around. Speaking of unique customer experiences – they wash out your glass for you, box it up and let you take it home as a souvenir. Again, small gestures make a difference.

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We ate dinner at Mother’s one evening, which is something of a New Orleans institution. It’s not cheap, but they do make a great po’ boy.

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Rounding out our tourist-heavy food & drink itinerary is the obligatory Café du Monde pilgrimage. We stood in an impressively long line at the “to go” window, to avoid an even more daunting line for those wanting to eat “inside” the airy structure. There were some areas to sit behind the French Market, and so we grabbed our beignets and coffee and sat in the relative peace and quiet to enjoy. Yes, it’s touristy. Yes, it’s a long wait. But we weren’t about to visit NOLA for the first time without doing it.

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Sights

We also made our visit a cultural one, stopping at two Louisiana State Museum sites in Jackson Square: The Cabildo (pictured below – and note the jazz musicians playing on the nearby balcony) and The Presbytère. The latter is home to a compelling Katrina exhibit with multimedia displays and artifacts, plus a Mardi Gras exhibit that includes many costumes, parade float components and other treasures.

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Jackson Square is so pretty, and look! Thanks to a combination of luck and a sudden, short burst of rain that cleared the area, I got the iconic Jackson Square photo without a ton of (other) tourists in it. I know everyone takes a photo from this spot, but it’s still by far my favorite one from the trip. 🙂

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We peeked inside Saint Louis Cathedral while we were there, too.

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One of our last stops was Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1. It was quite a hike to get here from our hotel. I’d done a bit of reading about the cemetery before our trip, so we saw most of the highlights (including Nicholas Cage’s pyramid tomb…). If we’d had a bit more time, I think we might have benefitted from a guided tour.

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So there you have it – our short and sweet trip. Have you been to New Orleans, and if so, what were the highlights of your trip?

Finished Objects

Glitz at the Ritz Shawl

Now that the fair contest is over and I’ve picked up my projects, it’s time for a good old-fashioned online show and tell. 🙂 So without further fanfare, here’s part 1 of my 16-part (!) series of posts on this year’s contest entries.

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Project numero uno is my take on the lovely Glitz at the Ritz shawl pattern by Helen Stewart. It’s available for FREE and is incredibly fun to make.

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Okay, maybe the beading part was less-than-fun – as I have discovered before. If you’ve ever tried to shove a loop of yarn through a Size 6 bead (I used a pushpin to “fish” the yarn through – good times), you know what I’m talking about. Multiplied by about a zillion beads. Yep, it was a time-consuming, finger-endangering process.

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Roll that beautiful bead footage. I used Bead Treasures beads in Beach Party, which coordinated very well with the yarn (I just omitted the green beads in the pack, and still had more than enough). As for the yarn, it’s the Araucania Nuble yarn from my stash – purchased on my trip to St. Louis.

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I love the contrast between the main body lace pattern and the “star lace” pattern toward the bottom edge. It’s such a great pattern – reviewing these photos makes me want to make another one!

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The edging was simple and stress-free. It’s all in the blocking!

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Star lace makes this a yarn-thrifty project. I used less than two skeins of the Araucania Nuble – crazy for a project of this size. The beads lend weight and substance to this otherwise-airy shawl.

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Love the staggered polka dots in the main body lace.

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Although this one didn’t receive a ribbon, it got a perfect score in the judged criteria. (It’s a very competitive category – I don’t envy the judges for having to make tough calls!) I’m proud of it because I learned a couple of new techniques.

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Now that I’m done writing about this shawl, I’ll get back to my Gail (Nightsongs) – which I just frogged for the umpteenth time this weekend! With great yarn comes great responsibility…

Inspiration

Fair Contest Report

I’ve mentioned it before, but the main reason I enter my local contest is to get inspired by others’ projects. It’s fun when I even recognize some of the patterns and yarns that were used.

Of course, the competitive aspect of the contest is also part of the fun. I was completely shocked – and extremely flattered – to receive Best of Show for crochet, among other honors. But mostly, I’m lucky to have access to such a large and impressive display of talent – the picture below doesn’t even include half of the exhibit space for fabric and threads!

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I’ll show pictures of my projects (with as many construction/materials details as I can remember) in future posts. But first, I wanted to show my photos of a few projects that inspired me at the exhibit. The most visible names on the projects have been clumsily Photoshopped out to protect privacy – I’m sensitive to the fact that not everyone wants their name displayed online. But on the off chance that one of them is yours and you’d like to claim credit by name, let me know! 🙂

If you happen to recognize a pattern for one of the projects pictured, feel free to mention it in the comments – I’d love to add it to the post so others can make it too!

This first project was in the baby blanket class. I loved the abundance of texture in the pattern. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful in-the-round baby blankets I’ve seen. I kind of want to make it as a doily, too!

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Lately I’ve been loving lacy knit shawls in white/ivory yarn. It’s tough for me to pass up colorful yarn in favor of the simplicity of white yarn, but after seeing so many stunning results I’m going to have to give it a try.

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I can’t confirm the pattern for this crocheted afghan, but it does remind me of the Popcorn Ripple Afghan pattern that I’ve had in my Ravelry favorites forever.

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I took several photos of this shawl – I just have to make it! Any leads as to the whereabouts of the pattern would be greatly appreciated. 🙂

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This crocheted cardigan appears to have been made from Loops & Threads Payette. I have bunch of that yarn in my stash for another project (in another color way), and it was nice to see that it works up so beautifully.

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Look at those tiny perfect stitches! The shawl below has great colors, a lovely, simple design, and wonderful technique. An all-around winner in my book!

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I swear I just saw the pattern for this gorgeous square doily, and now I can’t find it. I’m thinking perhaps it’s adapted from a table runner, but that’s a guess. In any case, it’s another one I want to make myself.

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This yarn. It’s beautiful and I would want to get some ASAP… if I knew what it was. The crocheter showed it off to advantage with this swirling fan pattern. (Update: I figured out that this is Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable in Sunrise. And yes, I bought some. 🙂 )

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Finally, here’s one I recognize – it’s the famous “Bigger on the Inside” shawl! I’ll be completely honest – this awesome TARDIS-inspired shawl pattern is one of the key reasons (in addition to cables) that I wanted to learn how to knit in the first place. As a beginner, I looked at the pattern, sighed at my lack of skill, and filed it away for future use. But I just bought the yarn to make it and hope to get started in the not-too-distant future. I wonder which stitch markers I’ll use…

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Thanks for sticking with me through this post – I hope you enjoyed looking at these inspiring projects as much as I did!

Finished Objects, Past Projects

Ready or not…

…it’s almost time to enter my knitting and crochet projects into this year’s fair contest. It looks like I’ll have 16 entries this year – down from last year’s 20, but still not too bad. 🙂 Here’s a peek at a few of my projects:

Victorian Romantic Pineapples 5

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Circular Motif Shawl by Babycakes Creates

Nennir Scarf

Donna Spiral Doily

And now that I’ve cut myself off from making contest projects before this year’s deadline, I’m spending time on some fun projects with no pressure. I’m finally using my Blue Heron Rayon Metallic to make a shawl, and it… is… amazing. It just knits up beautifully. More on that project later!

Fun Stuff

The Stitch Marker is On

I’m playing catchup on some posts and wanted to share one of the goodies I got for my birthday. In addition to this adorable cupcake, that is.

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It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the show Sherlock and have been a bit of an evangelist to recruit new fans. It’s become a running joke whenever anyone talks about TV shows in my immediate vicinity: “Hey, you know what’s a good show? Sherlock.” Fine. But seriously, you do need to watch it.

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For my birthday, my husband got me a set of Sherlock stitch markers on Etsy in honor of my fandom. I love them.

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My fellow fans will recognize the references and that trademark Sherlock stare. The game is on.

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Inspiration

Mary Poppins Scarf

Last fall while on my trip to Chicago, I visited Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives at the Museum of Science and Industry. What an awesome exhibit! It’s still open, and will be through August 3 – it’s well worth a trip if you’ll be in Chicago this summer.

One of my favorite parts of the exhibit was the Mary Poppins portion (they had the snowglobe on display!). Among the artifacts was this Mary Poppins costume, and guess which part interested me most?

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I’d love to make a replica of the scarf, but haven’t done too much research on yarn/patterns that would work well. I do like this lovely interpretation on stitchknit. If you were going to make a version this scarf, what yarn would you use?

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