I Gots Mad Skills. And Three Dogs.

I find it suspect- er, funny- that whenever my children see me knitting away furiously at deadline knitting, they immediatly begin conspiring- er, agreeing- on what Mommy should knit for them.  In this case, they requested dogs.  They had been asking for a real dog since we moved, but our landlord refuses.  So to ease their sad little hearts, we decided upon the pattern for Tofu the Gentle Dachshund by Rebecca Danger at DangerCrafts.  Growing up, my family always had Doxies and I absolutely adore them!  So I finished up the deadline knitting, and put aside the design book and future sample knitting to knit this little pups.  And gosh did they turn out cute!

And, just like their new owners, in their natural habitat- wrestling and dogpiling:

This is a great pattern- clearly written with tons of clear photos to demonstrate along the way.  It does, however, ask that the knitter possess a scary skill: Magic Loop.  You know, for such a fun sounding skill, it terrified me.  I have bought several of Rebecca’s patterns, but strictly on the basis that I was going to find a way around this whole magic loop business.  And also because they are maddeningly cute.  But, as luck would have it, on cast on day I had a random though- why not just learn to magic loop?  Luckily, Rebecca has a how-to video posted on her website HERE.

I have to say, after a few trys, it was really simple!  And Im really glad that 1- I learned a new skill!  And 2- Now I can finally knit all of those great Danger patterns I bought!  Oh and of course 3- Now I can get back to the book!

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Must Have Monday- Really Good Yarn!

This weeks Must Have Monday features another major essential for establishing knitty nirvana- Really good yarn.  As I said last week, I began my knitting journey with a skein of Red Heart Super Saver.  It was burgundy, scratchy, and I could swear I heard it squeaking when I knit it up too tightly.  Having no LYS’s in my area, nor friends who knit, I had no idea that there was yarn beyond my local Wal-Marts selection. 

I remember clearly my first step into a Local Yarn Store.  It was Anacapa Fine Yarns in Ventura, CA.  I had just moved home after 3 years in Virginia and was desperate to expand my yarn knowledge.  The first step was a glorious one- and my eyes were immediately at task taking in every bright color, my hands began exploring the many textures and fibers.  I was in love, and ended up showing said love by dropping $150 on yarn.  Yarn that had wool content!  Yarn that did not squeak at too tight of gauge!  Yarn that was soft.  I was in knitting heaven.

I make no secret of my love for Madelinetosh yarns.  The colors are deeply saturated and vibrant.  The yarn has been described as “buttery soft” and I would not disagree in the slightest.  It is smooth, exceptionally soft, and a dream to work with.  When knit up at proper gauge, it produces amazing results.  While it can be on the rather expensive side, it tends to be my go-to yarn for most projects.  My absolutely most favorite finished object knit with Madelinetosh would be my Horray Cardigan:

But while Madelinetosh is my all time favorite, it is my no means the only good yarn in my stash!  While knitting up a sample for a pattern for Left Coast Knits, I discovered Squoosh Fiberarts.  The pattern calls for fingering weight yarn, and I used Squoosh Fiberarts Ultra Sock.  It was a fabulous experience!  The yarn is amazingly soft and the colors are saturated.  Saturated color is very important to me, if you can’t tell.  While this isn’t the color that I used for the sample, this is an example from Eatsleepknit.com to show you the beautifully deep colors:


Although Squoosh can also be on the pricey side, it is a good investment if you need a deeply saturated, extremely soft fingering weight yarn! 

Are you looking for an equally fantastic, yet easier on the wallet alternative?  I would enthusiastically recommend KnitPicks!  Knit Picks offers great yarns in many different fiber combinations at very good prices.  While you will have to buy a few balls to equal the yardage found in most other brands, Knit Picks yarn is in no way inferior.  The prices are fantastic, and once you hit $50 worth of products (which is VERY easy to do with their amazing product selection!), they offer free ground shipping!  One of my most favorite yarns from Knit Picks is without a doubt their Swish Worsted yarn.  A superwash Merino wool with a put up of 110 yards sold for $3.79, or $3.99 for heathered colors.  Buy 2 balls and you have 220 yards of SUPERWASH MERINO wool for less than $8!  That is a fantastic deal considering non-superwash, non-merino Cascade 220 sells for an average of $7 in most stores and online. 

So that is this week’s Must Have Monday!  I’d love to hear what are some of YOUR really good yarn suggestions, or your stash essentials!  Also, my 30th birthday is quickly approaching, so be on the lookout for some giveaways in the month of August!

Must Have Monday- Really Good Needles!

Oops!  A day late, but a must-have nonetheless!  Must Have Monday #2 is a definant necessity: Really good needles!  And the must-have needles in my opinon are those made of bamboo. 

 

My entry into the wonderful world of knitting began with a set of Boye aluminum needles and a skein of really scratchy Red Heart Super Saver.  My wonderful Husband bought me a set sold at Walmart which included a knitting instruction book, 2 pairs of Boye aluminum needles, and a few notions, along with a skein of RH.  I taught myself the basics, but had no one in my life who could teach me the more advanced things, nor that there were other yarns or needles out there.  After a few months, I found a Michaels store and discovered Clover Takumi bamboo needles and picked up a pair, along with a few balls of Wool-Ease.  I was amazed at how the needles knit up fabric.  It seemed that they knit differently than the metal needles, and the way that warmed in my hands, and were slightly bendable made them easier on my hands.  Immediatly they became my go-to needles and to this day they remain so.  A good majority of my rather sizeable needle stash is Clover Takumi.  A few years ago, Clover introduced Takumi Velvet needles:

The finish on these needles  is satiny smooth and really nice, although this might make it easier to drop stitches.  I do own a set of these needles in the 14 inch length, but I dont use them as much as the regular bamboos.  Another of my favorite brands is HiyaHiya, and I would definantly recommend these as well! 

 

You can find HiyaHiya needles at theloopyewe.com.

While I DO love my beloved bamboo needles, sometimes I do find myself in need of a good metal needle, as well.  In those times, I turn to KnitPicks nickle plated needles. 

They are nice and sharp, easy on the hands, and the circulars have exceptionally smooth joins!  Like the Takumis, they prices are very reasonable, although when visiting the Knitpicks website, if you are anything like me, you will likely find yourself loading up your shopping cart with lovely yarns.

New Pattern: Red Tide Cowl!

Im excited to announce the release of my newest pattern, Red Tide Cowl

Originaly designed to be a part of Left Coast Knits, I decided to replace it with a different design already in the works.  I absolutely love this cowl- the simplicity of the seed stitch mixed with the cables makes for such a beautiful fabric.   I knit this sample using Madelinetosh tosh Vintage in Scarlet, but any worsted weight yarn would work well.  You might prefer a wool yarn over acrylic so that you could block the cabled edges to make them really stand out. 

Red Tide Cowl makes a great last minute gift for yourself or for someone else.  It uses less than one skein of yarn, and is perfect for that one luxury skein you’ve been waiting to use for something really special.

You can purchase Red Tide Cowl on Ravelry HERE

Must-Have Monday #1- Ravelry!

Welcome to the first installment of my new attempt to blog more regularly- Must-Have Mondays!  Every Monday, I plan to blog diligently about some of my absolute must-have favorite things.  And to start the project off right, my first Must -Have Monday features my favorite website EVER- RAVELRY!

If you are a knitter, crocheter, designer, or all around craft geek- chances are you are on Ravelry or at the very least know what it is.  Aside from providing it’s users with a daily dose of fiber ™, Ravelry provides it’s users with a plethora of patterns- both free and pay patterns- as well as project pages to maintain notes and photographs of your projects.  Each user has a “Notebook” in which to keep project notes, photos of your stashed yarns, a queue of patterns you intend to knit, a list of projects or patterns or yarns that you have favorited, a place to keep track of what size needles you have, as well as links to your groups in which you are a member.  Behold- the Notebook of one “MissBecca

Groups are another amazing aspect of Ravelry.  There are so many different groups with so many different purposes.  There are swap groups, knit-along or crochet-along groups, a group for fans of Ysolda, groups for knitters in the same geographic areas and groups for fans of Dexter.  And if you cant find a group in which you feel like you belong- you can start your own! 

But without a doubt- the BEST aspect of this multi-faceted site has to be it’s users.  Ravelry.com boasts some of the kindest, most encouraging users that you will find on any other crafting website.  Have a question about the best bind off for that sock you’re knitting?  Click on some of the other project pages for that pattern and see what the other knitters have done.  If you dont find what you’re looking for in their notes, you can “Private message” or PM users to ask them personally.  I have found myself doing this several times and each time I recieve a warm, kind response from my fellow users.  I have yet to come across a fellow Ravelry user whose personality I find abrasive or unwelcoming.  Although I suppose it’s hard to be unkind when you are talking about wool… or silk… or wool/silk blend… or Pashmina…. oooooohhhhhhh…

If you have yet to discover Ravelry for yourself, I highly encourage you to do so.  And when you do- look up MissBecca and friend her- I promise you a warm welcome, and a kind word in response!

Celebrating Freedom

Im a little late, but Happy Birthday, America!  To celebrate, I spent my Holiday weekend celebrating freedom in all sorts of different ways:

We celebrated our freedom to grill delicious food:

YUM!  Hubs grilled up some delicious marinated steaks and spicy sausages and some pineapple.  I had to talk him out of getting sparklers for the kids, mostly due to the fact that this area is so arid and dry.  Everything here is a huge fire hazard and thats a very scary thought. 

On Sunday, I celebrated my freedom to bake sweet treats:


Second only to cupcakes, my most favorite sweet treat to make for my family are my S’mores cookies.  Baked using the Tollhouse Chocolate Chunk cookies recipe as a template, I bake the cookies for 9 minutes, pull them out of the oven, add 4-5 mini marshmallows to the tops of each cookie, and continue to bake them for another 3 minutes.  The texture of the marshmallows once the cookies have cooled is DIVINE.  I absolutely love them.

And finally today, I am celebrating my freedom to dye my own yarn:

So Happy birthday, America!  And THANK YOU to all of the Men and Women who have fought to keep America safe and free.

Hello, July.

It’s July 1, and do you know what that means?  Only 35 more months until I leave this place!  I wish Summer could be the way it was when I was a kid- weeks of camping in the Sierra Nevadas, laying on the beach basking in the sun, Otter Pops in the front yard with my sisters… Now it’s just not as fun.  I’ve been trying to figure out fun things to do around here to keep the kids happy, but when the weather is topping 110 degrees daily, going outside is not an option.  I’ve also discovered that the farmers down here burn their crops when they are done harvesting.  The smoke in the air, along with God knows what else, is stifling and Icant stand to take the kids out in it.  Its disgusting, really.  But I digress.  It’s a new month!  And it’s also my friend Preita’s birthday and she’s having  a contest over at her blog to celebrate!  So click the linky and go wish her a happy birthday and maybe win some of her beautiful patterns in return! 

Have a great month, all!