Monday, September 19, 2011

Magazine Review: Oct/Nov 2011 Issue of Knitting Today!

The October/November 2011 issue of Knitting Today! came out this past week and I love it! There are so many great patterns in here. Everything from quick holiday-themed items like the Haunted House & Candy Corn Pillows by Monica Rodriquez Fuertes to beautiful, wearable basics like the Grace Sweater by Deborah Newton. The very first things that I'm casting-on for, though, are the Pup & Puss Bags by Noreen Crone-Findley. They're super cute and I know that Robert and Venetia will love them!

 Since this is their holiday issue, Knitting Today! has a Countdown to the Holidays section where they give you porject ideas for each of the 3 months leading up to the Holidays. Most of these projects are very do-able. (Like 3 months for the Gift Box Blanket by Bobbi Anderson and 2 months for the All Wrapped-Up Scarf by Sarah Wilson.) However, I don't know a single knitter who would knit a family's worth  of mix-and-match hats and scarves in the month before the holidays (All in the Family Set by Jamie Strong). The patterns in the set are very pretty and knit with chunky yarn, but I still think that I would have to start that sort of gift project in July if I actually wanted to have it finished by December.

There really are just so many great projects in this magazine that I want to make. Almost all of them recommend some sort of Red Heart yarn so I'll be making lots of substitutions, but the patterns are still very nice for holiday knitting. Some of the other ones that I'll be casting-on in short order are:

Every knitting magazine has product reviews/recommendations. Knitting Today! does too, but they also have Charity Knitting recommendations each issue which I think is wonderful. Sometimes it's so easy to focus on all the new toys that we want that it's hard to think about how we can be using these tools and skills to help others. Knitting Today! gives you an overview of the organization, their goals and how you can help. This issue the focus is on making scarves for the athletes of the Special Olympics. "Handmade scarves donated as a result of the 2012 Special Olympics USA Scarf Project will be a symbol of unity, support, compassion and empowerment, as the Special Olympics athletes, coaches, families, volunteers and supporters wear them with pride in knowing they have become part of the Special Olympics family." (Taken from the 2012 Special Olympics Scarf Project page.) As someone who has had family members participate in the SO for a number of years, I can assure you that this is a wonderful organization that helps people of all ages feel good about what they can do while making friends and having lots of fun. I encourage everyone to make at least one scarf for this charity because the recipients truly do enjoy these events and a handmade reminder is something that they can use for years to come.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Yarn Review: Dream In Color Starry

I was part of the Dream In Color Club for 6 months this past year and Starry in the Honeymoon color-way was our yarn for February. I loved it as soon as I saw it, but wasn't sure if I really wanted to knit the pattern that came with it or if I should make something else. So I decided to let it marinate in the stash for awhile. After the frustrations with my Devon Socks, I decided that I just needed something pretty that was simple, but fun. So, I went for the brightest thing in my stash... This beautiful, hot-pink, sparkly, Barbie-esque yarn!

The picture doesn't show it as well, but there is a slight tonal variation to the pink which gives this yarn a depth and lets the super bright pink work. Without that, this yarn would definitely give off a plastic-y, acrylic vibe because of the brightness of the color and the metallic strands. The yarn doesn't have that cheap feel like most yarns with metallic do. It's super squishy and wonderful and I can't wait to finish the shawl pattern so that I can wrap it around me. I have a feeling that this is going to be one of my favorite scarves just because the yarn is so wonderful!

I did notice that the yarn can be a bit thick and thin in places. It isn't enough to notice in the finished project, but you can see it while knitting with the yarn. Also, even though the yarn is super-wash and promoted as "Sock Weight" on the ball band, I would shy away from making socks that will be worn quite a bit just because there is no nylon content in the fiber mix.

All in all, though, I think that I've found a new yarn that I'm going to need in every color I can get my hands on! I just love it so much!!


Thursday, September 15, 2011


Normally, I'm pretty good about always intending to finish a project completely once I've found it as a UFO in my stash pile. I almost never have to put a project aside because it's too frustrating. They usually just get shoved aside because something that seems more exciting comes along.

Durring our move at the end of June, I found all sorts of projects that I had completely forgotten about. One, in particular, was a pair of socks from Cookie A's first book "Sock Innovation". I love the yarn that I was using because it's soft & has bright colors in gradual color changes. The pattern that I picked for my first Cookie A. sock is called "Devon". This pattern is what I would imagine you would get if you made argyle a texture instead of a color-work technique.

I haven't worked much with charts or lace (never lace in the round) and this pattern had 5 separate charts for the lace. After a few issues with getting going on the first sock I finished most of it then, apparently, it was absorbed back into the stash when I was one repeat away from starting the toe. And that's where it's been languishing since February. When I found it and realized that I was so close, I started back in on it and didn't have any problems with finishing it up in a day or so.

Thinking that I had this whole charted-lace-in-the-round-thing down, I cast-on the second sock and got to work on the ribbing. I made it all the way to starting the first chart and was a couple of rounds into it when I realized that the ribbing didn't match with the pattern. After looking closer, I realized that I worked the chart for the cuff backwards and was working the lace pattern in the opposite direction. So, rather than confuse myself further, I just ripped out the whole thing and started over.

This time I made it all the way through the first few rounds of the gussets before I noticed the mistake. I'm not sure how, but somewhere along the process of starting the chart for the top of the foot and shaping the gussets I messed-up the patterning. Severely. I tried dropping down and re-working the pattern a few different ways, but I just couldn't get it to sit right. So, I ripped it out again out of frustration.

I'm putting this project in time-out for a bit and maybe I'll pick it back up in another six months or so when I've forgotten why I banished it. Hopefully, I won't make the same mistakes again and will just be able to enjoy knitting it rather than being super frustrated. Maybe I'll find some easier lace knitting to work on in the meantime...