FO’s for August

Well, not much this month but here’s what got done during August:

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Yarn: Keppi by Lion Brand Pattern: Jazzy Knit Hat (on label)

First up is the Jazzy Knit hat that was on my needles earlier this month.  This was a super quick knit and as noted in my earlier post a fun and super soft yarn to work with.  The pom pom is a little tricky to attach because it is pretty solid so getting the needle through it is a challenge but I love the way it turned out.  I’m working on a pink one now and they will both be donated to my friend who hosts a fundraiser to raise money for MS.

The only other completed project for the month was my Melody’s Makings test knit which I talked about last week.  If you missed the post, here’s another picture of the cute baby pants and hat.

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I’ve got a ton of stuff on the needles right now so eventually those things have to get finished, right??  Please, tell me I’m right!

My First Test Knit

I was so excited to be tagged by the amazing Melody Jo Rogers for a test knit this month.  I discovered Melody’s patterns a couple of years ago when I decided to start selling finished items.  Her patterns are great and come in a wide range of sizes and, most importantly, she grants permission to sell finished items.  That’s a big issue for me and probably should be a separate post.  I had signed up to test knit for her awhile back and just had not been able to jump in on any of the opportunities until two weeks ago.

I’ve had some work changes this summer and, as I have mentioned, I have lots of time to listen to podcasts with my current job.  Sadly, I don’t have wifi so most of the day I’m off-line to save on data on the phone.  As I was at work I was listening to one of the knitting podcasts I listen to and started thinking about how I wanted to get into test/sample knitting and how I needed to get a plan for that.  I then recalled that Melody had recently posted she had switched up her test knitting process and I decided I would read up on that when I got home to make sure I was still on her list.  Meanwhile, I got a voicemail on my phone so I had to turn my data on.  When I did that I had Facebook notifications that I was tagged by Melody in a post – a post announcing it was my turn for an opportunity to test knit her newest pattern.  What???  Hello Universe, I’m listening!  It was not the best timing but when the universe hits you over the head I feel you better answer.

So, on to the knitting!  This was for a hat and, because I took the newborn size, baby pants.  I signed up for the newborn size because I really wanted to work on figuring out newborn sizing as I find my hats almost always come out way too big.  Because this was for a test knit I actually swatched!!!  And, I could not reach row gauge.  I read articles on Knitty http://knitty.com/ISSUEsummer05/FEATsum05TBP.html), Craftsy (http://www.craftsy.com/blog/2013/11/knitting-gauge-adjustment/) and I think a few other random sites.  I switched yarns and needles and then gave up.  The sum of all the articles I was reading seemed to indicate that stitch gauge is way more important than row gauge.  And, because I was test knitting, I knit according to the pattern but if it had been just for me I could have adjusted the row count to make up for the difference.  Here are the swatches I did.

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They actually almost all came out the same length.  The one on the far left was a bit taller but it was made out of a heavier yarn.  I ended up using the purple yarn as it came out closest the required gauge.

The pattern was well written and easy to follow as are all of Melody’s patterns.  The hat and pants came out super cute!  I did run out of purple but had the same yarn in green so used that in the mix as well and I actually like it better.  The green and purple are Brown Sheep Nature Spun Fingering.  The cream is a Bernat or something similar that I got at one of the large box craft stores.  The pants did come out a little longer than the pattern had indicated due to the row gauge issue.

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You can find all of Melody’s patterns on her website by clicking here!  It was a lot of fun for my first test knit and if you need any help with test knitting get in contact with me!!

I Heart NY*

I really, really love NYC with one tiny exception – Times Square.  I know this is contrary to everything that NYC is about but I consider it a necessary evil that I have to walk through in order to see shows on Broadway.  So, this is the tourist post from my recent trip.  Last week I covered all things yarn related.  This week I will talk about the touristy things I did this time, which will include Times Square.

I arrived on Thursday afternoon and had a reservation at the Fitzpatrick Hotel which was located across the street from Grand Central Station.  I found it on Booking.com and it was amazing!  Super reasonable rates, close to the subway and I had a really nice room.  The only downside was that it was summer so in order to get anywhere on the west side I had to transfer subways at Time Square and that station was a toaster oven.  As I was riding the escalator out of the depths I felt like a bagel that was fully toasted by the time I got to the top.  Otherwise, I will definitely keep this hotel in mind for future trips.

I do not consider myself a food person but when I got to NYC most of my plans involve food.  This trip – Shake Shack and Big Gay Ice Cream were tops on the list.  Shake Shack is totally worth the hype and I’m willing to open one here in Cleveland.  There was an Asian tv station filming some sort of tv episode while I was eating which was kind of fun.  From there I headed to the TKTS booth.  For my pre-show dinner I stopped at Big Gay Ice Cream.  I went to the West Village shop and it was my first time walking around the West Village.  The shop was easy to find and the staff was really friendly.  I ordered the American Globs which was a huge cone of soft serve vanilla mixed with pretzels and sea salt and then dipped in chocolate.  It was amazing!

It was an absolutely sweltering day in the city.  It was close to 90 degrees and I heard later that the humidity, at one point, had been as high as 85% plus all that concrete.  I can only imagine the person who came up with the term sweltering was in NYC on a similar day.  I was so happy the show started at 7:00 in highly air conditioned theater so I could sit and cool off for two hours.  It was a great show and I can’t wait to see it again.  I thought it was everything a musical should be – a bit campy, had a big musical number, great costumes and really smart writing.

My plan for Friday was to take the Metro North up to Connecticut to visit a former colleague (now friend) of mine.  It was great to escape the heat and the train ride was fun.  We spent the afternoon at the beach on the Long Island Sound.  It was the day of the blue moon so the when the tide started going out, it really went out.  The water was very clear so I could see all these minnows swimming around and it seemed that every shell had a hermit crab inside which really amused my friend’s children.  As the tide went out a bunch of the kids found a real crab, I think it was a spider crab and it was quite the attraction.

Saturday morning was the last free time I had before I had to head out to the church in Bayside, Queens where I was speaking that weekend.  I decided to head over to Roosevelt Island and what a great decision that was.  It only cost a subway fare.  There is a tram that runs from E.60th and 2nd over to the island and then it is about a 10 minute walk to the memorial to FDR.  On the way there is a deserted (and crumbling) old hospital that has been marked as a historical building and beautiful views of the NY skyline, some of the best views I’ve seen and all for the price of a subway ride!  The memorial park is free so it’s a very reasonable day out in NYC.  There was a food truck parked and where I grabbed a quick lunch before heading back.  It was very peaceful and not very crowded – a little hidden gem!

I had no idea what to expect in Bayside.  It turned out to be very “suburban” and not nearly as easy to get around without a car as the city.  The church I was speaking at was in an area with a large population of Korean-Americans and so one of the masses was entirely in Korean which was really interesting to see their different customs.  I lucked out again and the priest at this parish was very supportive of our work in El Salvador.

One last note – I bash United Airlines, a lot since they took over Continental.  But these two weekends of travel for COAR I had six total legs – 4 in and out of O’Hare and 2 out of LaGuardia and every flight left on time and landed on time or early so maybe it was just good karma because I was doing good work, either way it was really, really nice.

August Yarn of the Month

It’s the final month for my yarn of the month club!  I can’t believe it’s been a year – time really does fly.  But, back to the yarn.  I had figured out the last neighborhood based on a clue I got last month.  This month’s inspiration is Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood.  Yes, there is one in Cleveland and it’s pretty awesome!  Now, it wasn’t that they were saving the best for last, it’s more that August is Little Italy’s month.  As one can imagine, the area is very Catholic and the church has a huge festival to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption which is today (August 15th).  In Cleveland, it’s just the Feast.  It’s completely crazy but a whole lot of fun if you can handle the crowds.  I expected yarn that was red, white and green just like the Italian flag.  Not quite what we got, so here it is and then I’ll talk about the colors.

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There is that pop of green in the middle!  I should be thankful that Rachel did not take the neighborhood quite as literally as I did because white, green and red yarn would just scream Christmas to me.  Her explanation of the palette makes perfect sense.  In it she talks about the sunflowers, red brick streets, red wine, marinara sauce and dried herbs.  Yep, that sums up our Little Italy.  It’s 100% superwash and I can’t wait to start lining up all 12 skeins to see what might work for my Cleveland project!

As I mentioned the biggest event in Little Italy is the Feast which is going on as I type.  I’ve been to it, back in my younger days and the food is great!  The crowds are not so great.  Outside of the Feast it’s a fun neighborhood to spend an afternoon.  There are a lot of little shops and galleries and food, have I mentioned food???  Pizza, pasta and pastries – it’s all good and you need to spend the rest of the afternoon walking through the hilly streets to work off all the food.  Little Italy is on the eastern end of Cleveland and is surrounded by Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Heights and Lakeview Cemetery.  It’s about a 15 minute drive from downtown.  If you need more exercise after eating all that food, then a quick trip to Lakeview will do the trick.  You can check out the graves of James Garfield, Eliot Ness, John D. Rockerfeller and Alan Freed.  You can also see an original Tiffany window in the Wade Chapel.

Now, just finding the time to put these all together and cast on my epic Cleveland project, that’s going to be the trick!  Thanks to River Colors for organizing the club, Stephanie at Space Cadet for dying the yarn and Rachel for coming up with the amazing color palettes each month!!  It was loads of fun and I can’t wait to make something great!

Big Yarn in the Big Apple

My next trip took my to one of my favorite places – the Big Apple!  This post will focus on all the yarn related activities took place during the trip and next week I will look at all the tourist things I did.  I mentioned in Saturday’s post that I went to the Lion Brand Studio so I figure I should follow up with more details.  But first, I try to get NYC about once a year or so and I always go to Purl Soho, because, well – it’s Purl Soho.  This trip I really wanted to make it to the Lion Brand studio because I had seen pictures of their summer window which had a farmers market theme and it looked so cute.  In that vein, I thought I would maybe branch out and check out some other stores.

To get some ideas, I left Kristin from the Yarngasm podcast a message asking what her favorite yarn stores were in NYC.  She was so kind and answered my question in episdoe 157 and I was so excited to hear my Ravelry name mentioned and my question answered.  She mentioned some stores that look great online, including Gauge + Tension, La Casita and Brooklyn General and I really wanted to do a Brooklyn yarn crawl, however, that did happen this trip but will definitely make it happen on my next trip.  I was spending Saturday and Sunday in Bayside, Queens and had no good way to get to Brooklyn.

Where did I make it to?  Lion Brand and String.  So, let’s start with Lion Brand.  It’s definitely a little out of the way, near Union Square and on the edge of the West Village, it’s on a very quiet side street and I almost walked right by it.  It’s very accessible by subway using the 14th Street stop on the F train.  I got in right before another huge downpour and it was hot and humid so I was almost melted by the time I got there.  The window was even more amazing in person and there was so much to look at in the store.  I wandered around, took some pictures and pet some yarn.  I was just about to leave when I noticed how hard it had started raining so I wandered some more and that’s when I decided to pick up the hat yarn.  The girls working at the store were so nice, friendly and helpful.  I sat down at the knitting table to wait out the rain and talked the two ladies who were working out some crochet issues across from me.  Here are some pictures from the store.

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The next morning I had some time and so I headed to String which is located on the Upper East Side and is also pretty accessible via subway, although, you have to get off either at 77th or 68th of the 4, 5, 6 trains as it is at 74th street.  It’s on the second floor of the building and it took me awhile to figure out how to get in.  As I was Googling to make sure it was open, I was reading the Google reviews (I never put stock in them but they are interesting to read) and it was getting killed in the reviews.  I just looked again as I was writing this and I see someone posted a new review last week and I would totally agree with it.  But, back to getting in – there is a buzzer and you have to get buzzed in to the store.  Once you get up there it is a bright and beautiful space.  The store is very small but they make the most of the space.  There was a knitting group going on at one end and the girl working was very friendly and helpful.  I did think there were limited brands available but of the brands they carried they had a wide variety of fibers and colors.  I loved that they had a little knitting bar and I also loved these yarn wrapped sticks on one of the tables.

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I did not buy anything at String as there was nothing there that I could not live without or get at home but I was glad I had visited!  I really want to make some yarn covered sticks and I have plenty of both at my house!

What’s on My Needles This Weekend

The title should actually be “What’s Not on My Needles This Weekend”, it’s one of those weeks  This is a picture of the chair that holds all of my “in progress” project bags:

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That’s 5, if you’re counting and this does include my purse project or the basket of small projects (2 more bags…).  It also does not include the Land of Forgotten Projects.  I’m knitting donations for two upcoming benefits, a test knit that is due next Friday, my own test knit for a special order, another Wren Wolf cowl, a Christmas present, the rainbow cowl I cast on in celebration in June, another random project, and, of course, socks.  I’m working in deadline order so really, I have the test knit on my needles but will do a post on that once the pattern is released!

So, my purse knitting right now will be used for benefit donations I’m working on.  I had big plans for my donations at the start of the year but the summer really got away from me and things have been a bit unsettled around here so I needed to get realistic about my knitting time I had for these projects.  I was in New York last weekend (read more about it on Travel Tuesday :) ) and I went to the Lion Brand Yarn Studio and found the perfect thing!

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It’s a Keppi hat and comes with that big fuzzy pom pom – everything you needs for a hat in one tiny package!  I got this aqua one and a pink one.  Some have crochet patterns on the other side of the label and some of knit patterns.  I ended up with one of each but something to look out for when buying if you specifically need one or the other.  But it’s a simple hat so no pattern is really necessary.  I think these will look really cute in a raffle basket.  I’m making a child size hat but it’s pretty stretchy so it might also fit a small adult.  It’s knitting up super fast on size 7 needles – here’s what I’ve got so far:

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I would say I’m about halfway done and quite pleased!  It’s great purse knitting too!  What’s on your needles this weekend?

Glass, Yarn and Cows – A Weekend in Wisconsin

The past few weeks have been busy travel weeks for me.  My first trip was to Appleton, Wisconsin, it also happened to be my first trip ever to the state of Wisconsin (another one checked off the list!)  I serve on the board of a non-profit, COAR and we are assigned churches to speak at each summer so I volunteered to do a couple of the talks.  Please feel free to check out our webpage or my blog posts from earlier this year on my trip to El Salvador.  End of commercial – back to Wisconsin.

I had some interesting airport experiences the morning I left.  Starting with guy who kept asking where he could eat because he wanted beer and breakfast before his flight.  I stopped in the newsstand to get my water (I never get on a plane without a bottle of water and a snack because you just never know these days) and I had a bag that I won at a raffle that has the picture of a knock off Monet on it.  The guy ringing me up asks if that is Monet on my bag, why, yes it is, thanks for noticing.  And, ending with the girl sitting next to me on the plane who could not figure out that we lost an hour going from Cleveland to Chicago and that she would lose two more hours going from Chicago to San Diego.  But, I finally arrived in the tiny Appleton airport where they do not even have the spikes for you to drive your rental car over when you leave.

As luck would have it, I have a friend who lives in the area so I gave her call and we made plans to get together on Saturday which gave me Friday afternoon to explore.  I read about a glass museum (and it was free and it was in the town where there was a yarn store – double bonus!) and decided to head that way.  It’s the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass and you can read more about it here.  It is located in an old mansion so the actual building has a lot to offer and the collection of glass was very interesting.  I believe there 3-4 rooms just of paperweights and they were stunning.  The museum was very close to the shores of Lake Winnebago so I headed down there next where I found a little park to get out and walk around.

Now, the important part of the day – yarn store!!  I also have a friend in Madison, WI who was enjoying Knit Camp while I was there but before she left I had asked for recommendations.  She suggested Yarns By Design and she did not disappoint!  I was greeted by a very friendly clerk and explained I was in town visiting so she explained the layout of the store and was happy to let me wander at my own pace.  We did end up chatting quite a bit.  They had a great selection of sock yarns (my kryptonite…).  I did have to give her a hard time as she failed to disclose they had Regia Arne & Carlos sock yarn which I found upon closer inspection of the sock yarns.  I had been trying to get my hands on some of that for months! I bought the yarn and the needles so I could cast on new socks that night!!

On Saturday I headed out to meet up with my friend.  She married a Wisconsin farmer so I went out to their farm and met all their cows, I mean all their cows!  They raise cows for beef and farm wheat, corn, soy and alfalfa.  It was really interesting and I have a whole new appreciation for my food after seeing what all goes on down on the farm.  After that it was time for me to go to work.

The church I was assigned to was actually two parishes that had four separate locations.  Each church was so different.  These were rural churches and the one church was 150 years old and had been built by the original German immigrants in the area.  I finished up Sunday around noon and my next stop (which I believe some in the area also think is a place of worship) was Lambeau Field.  I feel like every football fan has to go if they are in the area.  I was surprised to find it was crowded, in fact, there was even a line to eat at the restaurant.  I didn’t take the tour but walked around the open spaces and snapped a few pictures and then drove around Green Bay.  Not much to see there.  I was trying to find a good space to check out the bay but really never found that.  And then it was time to head back to the giant Appleton airport and head home.  I enjoyed my short stay in Wisconsin and was happy to raise money for COAR and check off another state from the list!