Frigid Princesses

Given that focus of my knitting business is kids’ hats, I’m always trying to keep up with the latest trends in their little world.  Over the past year I think we all know what that has been – Frozen!  Frozen mania has taken over the world.  It’s no different for the all the little kids I know.  With Christmas around the corner I started perusing Ravelry for patterns based on a Frozen theme.  The first thing I found were these adorable Anna and Elsa dolls – the pattern is free so I thought I would give it a whirl.

One of the most important things to me on projects like this is to the get the coloring right.  The number of projects I see on Ravelry or Etsy or Pinterest where the crafter has just not used the correct colors.  It makes such a huge difference.  I know it can be a real pain to try and match colors but it’s really worth the time and effort.  KnitPicks is great for color work like this because they have so many colors in very affordable yarns.  I ordered a bunch of yarn and got started.  I shared a picture on my Facebook page and the reaction was all the Frozen mania you would expect.  One of my friends did not even know what it was but wanted two.

This all leads to the biggest problem – trademark issues.  In my post I was careful to say they were not for sale and I was experimenting.  All of which was true at the time.  I had recently seen an article (which I can’t find now) that Disney was cracking down on Etsy sellers who had Disney themed products for sale.  Being a lawyer, I totally understand the trademark issues involved here.  However, part of me thinks none of this is hurting Disney and maybe they should worry about more important things but I like to be a law abiding citizen so I’m careful with what I sell and how I market those things.

Once my bundle of carefully chosen yarn colors arrived I set off to work.  In the end, I did enjoy the finished project.  I love the way the pattern was written and the dolls turn inside out so they have their ball gowns on one side and their winter wear on the other.  My big problem with this type of project is making the faces.  I’m terrible at the face making part and if you can’t get the faces right it doesn’t really matter how good the rest of it works.  These are going to be Christmas presents for my friend’s daughter.  She’s an easy going girl and won’t be bothered by the weird faces!

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After this, I gave up on the frigid princess knit items, until, I got a request from a friend.  Her daughters are dressing as Anna and Elsa for Halloween.  She did not want to buy them the wigs for sale in the stores and had found some cute knitted hats on Pinterest and was wondering if I could recreate those.  So, I set off on another frigid journey.  I still had the blue from the dolls for the Elsa like hat.  I’m much more pleased at the outcome of these hats.

I found a pattern for a crown hat for newborns that I was able to size up for the 4 year old who would be getting the hat.  The interesting thing about this pattern was it was written for magic loop and I despite magic loop with all my being.  I’m a dpn girl through and through.  Ordinarily this difference does not matter but in this case, the hat is constructed inside out so you are purling the entire hat and that is tiresome on dpns and creates almost unavoidable jags when the decreases start.  I knew there had to be a way to knit this hat (without grafting it to the crown later).  I stopped in my LYS yesterday with this exact burning question – how do I flip this hat so I can knit it?  Turns out the answer is to make a mistake we all probably made when learning how to knit on circular needles – flip the direction.  It’s amazing how hard it is to make that mistake when you are trying to do it.  I definitely remember realizing halfway up a hat that I had knit it the other way and being utterly at a loss for how it happened.  I cast on the new hat today and am happily knitting it up –  no grafting, no purling and boy, it is going faster!  So this is how my frigid princess hats turned out!

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I think the girls will look adorable and will have nice warm heads which is important where we live!!

October’s Yarn

This is month 2 of the yarn of the month club I talked about last month.  We got the e-mail letting us know the yarn was ready for pick up.  There was also an invite to a sit and knit social for yarn club members.  This was another incentive for me to join – the promise of social meet ups in the various neighborhoods which are providing the color inspiration.  But, let’s start with this month’s yarn.  The neighborhood is Tremont and this is what we got.

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Tremont is just west of downtown and close to the steel mills that used to be the main industry here in Cleveland.  The entire neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  There are a number of very old churches in the area.  It is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Cleveland.  I think the colors used this month reflect that age and grittiness of the area.  In recent years it has undergone a transformation and is now full of art galleries, trendy restaurants and independent shops.  Some people would say it’s the “hipster” section of Cleveland.  Probably the most famous thing in Tremont is the Christmas Story house, the outside of the house was used in the movie A Christmas Story and is now a museum.  For me, Tremont is that neighborhood I can never find.  I almost always have to use my GPS to get there and/or get home.  Don’t ask me why, I just am at a loss when I have to there.  Over the summer we had knit night down there – we started at one of the hip restaurants and then went to the large public park which is at the center of the neighborhood where we watched a free dance performance.  It was one of those nights where it kind of felt like we lived in a real city.

And now, today was the social sit and knit for club members.  It was being held outside and so we were lucky and the weather more than cooperated – it was a perfect fall day.  It was held as the Seltzer Sculpture Garden which is located in the Edgewater neighborhood that inspired last month’s colors.  I have driven down this street hundreds of times and never knew the park existed.  I had always seen this large globe and just thought the people that lived in that house had interesting taste in yard decorations.

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Turns out I’m not the only one who thought this was private.  I posted a picture on Facebook and had several comments from people who live in the area and did not know it was a public park.  The story is that the people who live in the house next to the park are artists so they purchased the two lots adjacent to their property and set up this sculpture park.  They have set up a fund to endow the park after they are gone and now I’m telling everyone about this!  What a hidden gem here in our city!  I can’t wait to take my knitting group back to sit and knit.

As it worked out, I’m the only club member who showed up.  It was still great, I got to spend the afternoon with the owner of my LYS and the woman who came up the color palettes for the club. I did not work on any projects with my club yarn (way to go me – did not cast on a new project :) ) but did continue to work on Campfire cowl I wrote about last week.  I hope more people will come to the next event because they really missed out.  And, I can’t wait to see what next month brings!!

Here are a few more pictures from the park today – enjoy!

What’s on My Needles This Weekend?

My plan was to stick to only the Christmas knitting projects that need to be finished before casting on any new projects.  One particular project has a significant amount of knitting to be done in what is, a very quickly, shrinking time period.  Hence, my rule, that project has to be finished and nothing else can be worked on until that time.  I was doing well with, however, I wasn’t knitting.  I was just finding other things to do.  I realized I really wanted to knit with the awesome yarn I bought at the trunk shows from Destination Yarns.  Specifically, the Campfire colorway which screams fall.  I thought it was an ombre dyed yarn and spent a lot of time on Ravelry searching for a cowl pattern that would show off the ombre effect and finally found one.  I went upstairs to wind the yarn and found it I was wrong, it’s not ombre dyed.  Back to the drawing board…

I could not find anything that was speaking to me, nothing this yarn wanted to be.  At long last, I stumbled across Emita.  The fun thing about this choice is that it’s done by one of our local knitters which makes this an all Cleveland project.  I’ve had a lot of time to work on it this week and it’s coming along nicely.  I just adore the colors in it and I really feel like I should be sitting around a campfire knitting it.

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I can’t wait until it’s finished!  I think at the end of the year I will have to take a look back on all these posts and see if any were actually finished and give a year-end update!

Thursday

I try to write a post every weekend, usually Saturday night (which probably says something about my social life).  But really, the last thing I want to do during the week is spend more time on the computer when I get home so by Saturday night I’m willing to turn it on and catch up on my blog and other knitting related pursuits.  This year I’ve had a goal of posting What’s on My Needles once a month and that’s been going okay.  The rest of the month I either write about something that has happened during the week or catch up on projects that I have not yet blogged about.  On Thursday, much like Alexander (of children’s book fame) I had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, well at least morning.

I knew it was not going to be a fun day because I had received an e-mail late on Wednesday which I decided to deal with on Thursday morning so I did go home angry.  And deal with it I did.  First thing when I got into the office on Thursday morning I responded and the exchange went about as bad, if not worse, than I had anticipated.  By lunch time there was smoke coming out of my ears and I’m sure my blood pressure was not good.  The only good thing was that the whole incident was over by lunch so I shut my door and played some Candy Crush (don’t judge, it clears the mind…) and then, because I didn’t have any actual knitting with me (again, don’t judge, my profession frowns on such handicrafts), I decided to browse Ravelry.  As I was doing that I got a text from one of my knitting buddies about Thursday night knitting.  I told her I’d better go, otherwise I might kill people.  We’ve all seen the t-shirt and we all know we would wear one.  I found that not only does actual knitting calm the mind, but browsing knitting projects can also calm the mind and ease frazzled spirits.  Bonus – I had a message waiting for me on Ravelry that my LYS wanted to use pictures of my recently finished poncho in this week’s newsletter which made me so happy!

As I continued with my afternoon I was thinking about what a boost my short 1/2 hour on Ravelry had been for me.  It got me thinking about all those articles which have been popping up about the health benefits of knitting.  I had seen this one and it talks about both the physical and mental benefits.  I had no idea it would keep my joints lubricated and I’m all for staving off memory loss.  We’re lucky – our LYS is right next to a delightful bakery so we start our evening at the bakery with tea and a little treat.  By the time I got to the bakery I was completely calmed down and over the whole nasty morning.  Our group is currently working on a baby blanket.  One of our friends is expecting a new grandbaby next month.  Each of us takes one skein of yarn and works a pattern of our choosing and then we pass on to the next person.  I had the blanket on Thursday and had chosen a snowflake pattern.  What a great project to work on after my day.  It required a little bit of thinking, but not too much and it is for a new baby – how happy is that!

When I got home that night I was reading Twitter and came across this essay that Franklin Habit had just written about the same topic for the Lion Brand blog.  His post is great and I thought “maybe I shouldn’t write about this since his so awesome” but there is always room for more voices on this topic.  We can never sing the praises of knitting too much!  And, this is definitely a hot button topic in the knitting world right now!

As the all articles say, we knitters have known this for a long time.  I remember several years ago I was involved in a trial at work and it was a crazy stressful few weeks.  When I came home I would sit in my chair and I knit a yoga mat bag, and I finished it – an entire yoga mat bag!!!  It was brilliant because all I had to do was knit in a circle.  No pattern, no thinking, not even any purling, and think about it – a yoga mat bag has to be pretty long.  It’s a beautiful bag – made out of Mission Falls cotton with random striping.  That whole incident led to one of my life mantras – sometimes all you can do is knit in a circle.  Simple advice – but when you do that you are making progress and that may be all you need.  Knitting in a circle is also very rhythmic so as you ravel together the yarn, the mind can unravel and de-stress.  On the flip side, there are days when my job is very, very boring and when I come home I need to make my mind think and work and those are days when I pull out a lace project or some other projects that requires attention and gets that brain working.

In the end, I’m not sure knitting is actually cheaper than therapy (I suppose that depends on your taste in yarn) but it certainly seems more productive.  Heck, at the end you have a finished object of some kind!  You can visually track your progress.  If you don’t want to, you don’t need to leave your house to do it.  And, one last bonus that I tell people about all the time – knitting and eating are incompatible activities which leads to less night time snacking.  There are nights where I just don’t want to break from knitting long enough to snack, plus, knitting burns calories, right????

The Hat

I recently was invited to a baby shower and on the invitation it asked guests to help start baby’s library by bringing a book instead of a card.  I loved this idea.  The Mom-to-be is someone who I really got to know through knitting.  She crochets and had started a group at her house to knit chemo caps which she donated to a local hospital. I’m always the only knitter at these gatherings but we all co-exist.  Because of this connection I knew I would also have to knit a hat and I really wanted a book that featured a knit hat so I could make my own gift set.  I asked a few of my librarian friends and browsed the bookstore.  I settled on the book The Hat by Jan Brett.

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The story is about a little hedgehog who takes a sock from a child’s clothesline and wears it as a hat.  The hat looks like this:

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What I decided to do was knit a hat loosely based on Hedgie’s sock hat.  I started with a white brim and then did one block of snowflakes around.  To really add the sock idea into the hat I used a standard toe decrease in white (like on Hedgie’s) on the hat instead of a usual hat decrease.  I then did a 3 needle bind off.  I think it turned out pretty good considering I was making it up as I went along!

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Side note to this whole project – I got done with the snowflake pattern and ran out of white.   Sadly, my LYS was out of the true white and the white I bought elsewhere did not exactly match.  I was debating whether of not to put a red stripe in and then start with the other white thinking it would break it up and not be as obvious.  As I was saying this our friend who works at the store walked by and said “No”!  I ended up finding the yarn online and am happy that Jimmy Beans was able to get me the yarn in time to finish the hat.  In the end this was my little gift box (I was able to recycle the box and I used yarn as the bow!)

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My First Yarn Club

I’ve never joined a yarn club.  I know there are a number of different clubs out there, especially with the indie dyers I love, and I’m always tempted but I never want to commit to having to buy pre-selected yarn each month when something else might pop up that I want more (my friends will tell you this is just another sign of my deeper commitment issues, but whatever!).  This month I finally broke down and joined a yarn club.  I’m pleased to say I can drop out at anytime so it’s perfect for my commitment issues and I had no reason not to join.

So, what finally made be break down and do it?  Well, I think it was the perfect combination of theme, yarn, oh and that out…  The yarn club is being run by my awesome LYS, River Colors Studio.  The yarn is being dyed by Stephanie at Space Cadet Yarns and the theme is our revitalized city, Cleveland.  Here’s how it is working.  One of the girls who works at the shop is studying textile design.  She is using various neighborhoods and areas of Cleveland as inspiration for a color palette.  That palette is being sent to Space Cadet and she is dying the yarn.  Space Cadet had a great trunk show at the store and everyone loved her yarn so we’re excited to get these specially dyed colors based on the all places we enjoy.

This month was the first month and we got to pick up our yarn.  I could hardly work all day knowing that I was going to stop on my way home!  I was even more excited when I got a box, complete with bow on it to tear open like Christmas morning to see what was inside.  And, here’s what I found:

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This month the colors were inspired by the Edgewater and Shoreway communities and is lovely pink, purple, blue superwash merino.  And, there was even a special treat from a local chocolate shop, Sweet Designs (it was delicious!).

I have not decided what to do with it yet, I may collect them all and see what I have.  I do know that I want to take some of each month and put it into a project that will incorporate all of the Cleveland yarn and be my Cleveland piece.  Still working through those details in my head but I’ve got a whole year to think about.  The information we received about the club told us all the yarn will be of fingering weight but the bases may vary throughout the yarn so that should be interesting as well.

The Edgewater and Shoreway communities sit on Lake Erie’s shores.  There is quite a bit of beach and park land and it is the best place to catch the beautiful Lake Erie sunsets (and I guess sunrises but I’m never up that early…)  The blues, pinks and purples in this yarn really remind me of time spent at the lake.  I can’t wait to see where next month’s inspiration takes us and how that plays out in color!

What’s on My Needles This Weekend

I should narrow this topic and call it “what I’m obsessed with this weekend” because there is always a pile of projects on many, many needles.  Thursday I broke a rule I had managed to stick to all summer – don’t start anything new until I clean out the UFO area of the yarn room.  How did this happen?  To answer we have to go back to Thursday night.

I felt like it was the first day back to school at knit night.  As I mentioned, we took advantage of the summer weather and knit everywhere but inside.  So, even thought it was unseasonably warm on Thursday we headed back to our LYS.  This was prompted mostly by the e-mails and Facebook posts of the all the wonderful fall yarns which were coming in daily.  Not much knitting was going to get done because there was also a plethora of new magazines and books to peruse.  I became obsessed with the Colorblocked Poncho in Vogue Knitting.  This coincided with my obsession with the new chunky MadTosh that had come in.  Now, an entire poncho out of MadTosh would be amazing but completely bank breaking.  Ah, the beauty of color blocking.  I set off to find a more reasonably priced bulky yarn for the two larger portions and decided to then pick out a MadTosh for the center stripe.  I found Encore, a good old stand-by, it’s like the yarn that never lets you down.  It’s a nice, reasonably priced yarn that comes in many colors and weights.  I chose black and gray and then picked out Optic for the center stripe.  If you have not seen it, it is amazing!  A cream base with splotches of gray, black and a few other colors here and there.  It’s perfect!!!

I needed needles so I decided to go ahead and cast on right there.  I was making the comment that I hope I finish it in time to wear it this fall.  Everyone pointed out that it was being knit on size 13s in bulky weight yarn so it should be done by next week.  Still I doubted but now I’m taking it as a personal challenge.  I started Thursday and ended up having to rip out a because I had done the increases correctly.  It looked like this:

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I worked on it last night and most of today and am not quite halfway done:

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I couldn’t believe I had finally cracked on starting something new when I already have so much that I want to start and keep stopping myself.  But, sometimes when something is just screaming your name I think you have to give in and knit it.  I knew if I just bought the magazine and added it to my library I would never actually make the poncho so I threw caution to the wind and cast it on.  Now, if I can surprise everyone and actually finish before next Thursday I won’t even have the guilt of adding it to the UFO corner!!