Auckland Sweater

For the past month, I’ve been furiously working on a sweater for my roommate as a gift for her thesis defense (today!) and PhD graduation. I finally finished the sweater early this week and, after showing it off at knit night, I gave it to her! I finished the entire sweater in one month and one day. Also it is my very first sweater ever. I’m super proud of it, and I think she really likes it. I really want to make one for myself.

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I used the Sonation pattern by Mari Chiba in the 51.75” bust size. The pattern is designed for at least 10” of positive ease, so I went with the larger of the two sizes I was deciding between to get a really floppy, comfy piece. I think I could actually have gone with the smaller 48” bust size without making much of a difference in fit – but I would have had one fewer lace repeat! Curses!

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I used Madelinetosh Twist Light yarn in colorways Void and Rocky Mountain High (2 skeins each). The sweater is bottom up, and I switched from Rocky Mountain High to Void after I ran out of Rocky Mountain High yarn, and then I used Void for the sleeves as well. I really love the bright variegated colors of Rocky Mountain High, but I thought an entire sweater made of it was too much, so I chose a dark, more sophisticated color for the top. And I love how the contrast turned out. The pattern calls for fingering weight yarn, which the Tosh Twist Light is, but I still had to go to a US size 2 needle to get gauge (I am a very loose knitter). I also chose to mattress stitch the shoulder seams instead of doing a 3-needle bind off because a friend of mine advised me that it is more stable in the long run.

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I was sort of worried in starting this project that the lace would kill me, but it honestly wasn’t that bad for the majority of the sweater. At the armholes, the front and back are separated and worked flat for a bit, and that was definitely more annoying than the rest of the sweater, which is worked in the round. I like the effect of the lace – it ‘s not too open but has enough texture to be interesting.

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Finishing this sweater in time for my roommate graduating did require me to suspend work on my other projects, so I still haven’t finished my May or June block-a-month squares, and I haven’t touched the Poison Oak sweater I’m making for myself. I did finish a hat, which I’ll post about soon! I’m hoping this summer I’ll have lots of time to catch up on everything! I have a lot of cast on ideas as well… so we’ll see what happens there. What are you all knitting/crocheting this summer?

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El Camino Crop Top

It definitely feels like summer has started here in the bay area – it’s been so hot for the past week. It reminds me that California is not necessarily the best place to live as a yarn-crafter. Big sweaters and scarves are not really wardrobe staples. Last summer, I had the idea to make a hybrid sort of garment. I bought a plain crop top on sale (at American Apparel I think?) and added a crochet lace border.

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It was super quick and easy, and I really love the result. It’s a top I wear a lot. I used the border from this crochet shawl pattern. I made this beautiful shawl as a gift for a friend’s mom a few years ago and definitely recommend the pattern. I really liked the edging for the shawl, so I decided to use it for this, but there are tons of free crochet (or knit!) lace patterns that would be great for a shirt edging.

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I made this top by measuring the circumference of the bottom edge of the shirt, crocheting a border piece in the round with a few rows of single crochet that was the same length around, and then working the lace pattern. I used embroidery thread to sew the single crochets to the shirt from inside of the hem so that you can’t see the single crochets or the stitching. I’m not 100% sure what yarn I used, but I think it was Blue Heron Yarns Rayon Metallic.

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I’m planning to make a few more of these for this summer! I was also considering adding some lace edging to a pair of jean shorts. We’ll see.

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Any other ideas for clothes to add some yarn to?

April Afghan Squares

I managed to get a picture of all the squares I’ve completed so far for my block-a-month afghan! I’m really in love with how it all looks together. (You can read more about the block-a-month crochet-a-long I’ve been doing in my posts for January, February, and March or on the CAL Ravelry page).

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I wanted this blanket to be really loud and crazy and not look like a traditional afghan. I think I’m achieving that! I’m excited that I’ve made it 1/3 of the way through the year without falling behind (thanks to many hours of crocheting on the last weekend of each month…). I can’t wait for the end of the year to see my finished project! Stay tuned.

The first square I made for April is the Key Lime Pie square by Lettice Rose, which is available as a free Ravelry download. If made in the right colors, this square really looks like a key lime pie! I kept the green color for the lime slices but didn’t go much further. I like how it came out sort of mandala-esque. I used Malabrigo Rios (which I’m using for the entire afghan) in colorways Lettuce, Sunset, and Teal Feather.

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The other 12” square is the spiral flower square (also available as a free Ravelry download) by Mehlika Akkaya at Sculptures in Disguise. The flower motif in the middle was really fun to make and is available online – I may use it for something else in the future! I used colorways Archangel, Purple Mystery, and Fresco y Seco for this square.

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The 6” square for April is called Twisted Braids and is by Aurora Suominen. It’s also available for free on Ravelry. I used colorways Lettuce, Glazed Carrot, and Whales Road.

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Here’s hoping I get started a bit earlier on my May squares…

Yarn Adventures: Monarch Knitting in Pacific Grove, CA

I attended a conference at Asilomar this past week (no, it wasn’t Amy Herzog’s knitting retreat, which is held there every spring, but I wish it was!). Of course, I took the opportunity to do a little yarn shopping. The conference was only three days, and the schedule was pretty packed, so I didn’t have a lot of time to check out all the yarn that the Monterey area has to offer. I did skip one afternoon session to go for a very pleasant run along the coast and into town to check out Monarch Knitting. It’s located in Pacific Grove, CA, and it has an adorable storefront and an open, welcoming interior.

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The yarn was organized by weight – starting at lace weight to the right of the door and increasing to bulky on the far left. I thought this was a much more convenient way for a yarn store to be organized than, for example, by brand. There were also tons of cute little nooks for knitting/crocheting all around the store and some people hanging out doing cross stitch.

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I ended up getting some Madelinetosh Twist Light for a sweater that I’m planning to make as a gift for a friend (any lacy sweater pattern suggestions for fingering weight yarn, send them my way!). I’m planning to get some dark grey to go with it.

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I also got some super cute stitch markers because they were made of teeny-tiny shells, and I was on the coast, so I couldn’t resist. Cabin Fiber Co. makes a lot of nature inspired stitch markers. They also have an Etsy store!

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But seriously, looking for lacy sweater patterns for this yarn!

Midtown Wrap

I’m currently in the middle of working on my first sweater (Poison Oak by Carina Spencer), so I don’t have any current finished objects to post about this week. This crocheted wrap/scarf that I made a few years ago is one of my go-to pieces because it’s big and warm and soft and goes with pretty much everything, so I wanted to write about it. Also I took some pretty pictures of it at this weird modern art thing near where I live.

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The wrap is just 6 really large granny squares sewn together. The yarn is Classic Elite Yarns Vail (70% baby alpaca and 30% bamboo viscose) in Camel and Charcoal. I really like how the center panel of Charcoal in contrast to the outside panels of Camel turned out. It also looks cool when worn as a scarf because then the part wrapped around my neck is a different color than the ends that hang down.

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I get a lot of compliments on this piece, but it was so easy to make! It’s a good example of how nice yarn and strategic color choices can make really simple things look beautiful and unique.

What are some of your favorite simple pieces?

March Afghan Squares

I’m a little late in posting about my March squares for the block-a-month afghan I’ve been working on this year – I actually finished the squares before March ended (yay!), but I didn’t get around to getting them photographed or writing about them until now. I’ve had a really busy April! I haven’t even been able to get started on my April squares yet.

If you’re new to reading the blog (welcome!), I’m working on a crochet afghan through a Ravelry crochet-a-long. I make 3 different blocks each month. You can read more about the CAL and about the squares I’ve made so far in my posts for January and February.

So, without further ado, here are the squares I made for March!

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My favorite of the 12” squares was the Picture Frame Square by Lisa Naskrent. It’s available for free as one of the squares in this Interweave Crochet Chain Reaction Afghan Project booklet. A lot of the other squares actually looked pretty cool as well – future afghan project? I’m using Malabrigo Rios for this afghan, and this square is made in colorways Lettuce, Glazed Carrot, and Fresco y Seco.

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The other 12” square is called That one Sister, and it’s by Melinda Miller – you can download the free pattern on Ravelry. I used colorways Archangel, Sunset, and Fresco y Seco for this one. I really like the appliqué flowers! I noticed after completing this square that it’s made of Mardi Gras colors, so it’s very appropriate for March.

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The 6” square for March is the Popcorn Puff Square by Ruth C. Roy. It’s a cute, simple square that’s actually really clever. The puff stitch flower isn’t a appliqué, but is worked as the center of the square, and subsequent rows are worked in the backs of the stitches. You can download the pattern for free on Ravelry. I made it in colorways Fresco y Seco, Whales Road, and Teal Feather.

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After I finish my April squares, I’ll be officially 1/3 of the way finished with this CAL! I’m planning to get some pictures of all of the squares I’ve made so far next month to see how the afghan as a whole is progressing. I’m still enjoying this project so far – doing all different squares certainly makes an afghan less boring to work up!

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I’ve also been working on a knit-a-long hosted by Tayler of the Wool, Needles, Hands blog. I’ve recently been watching her podcast, and I love it! The KAL is for a lacy spring hat and ends in May – I’ll be sharing my hat here once I finish it! What crochet/knit-a-longs are you working on?

Yarn Adventures: The Altered Stitch and Gather DTLA in Los Angeles, CA

This past weekend, I took a road trip to Los Angeles with my boyfriend to visit my sister and her boyfriend. While there, I took the opportunity to hit up a few yarn stores. I’d done some research before by looking at the stores that participate in the LA Yarn Crawl. The LA Yarn Crawl is one of the largest yarn crawls in the US, and it’s taking place next weekend! I actually considered going, but the 6 hour drive to LA is a little too much for two weekends in a row.

The first store I visited (The Altered Stitch) I’d chosen mostly due to convenience – it was on the north side of the LA, and I stopped there on my way down. I’m really glad I decided to stop by, though, because it was a really great store! They had a huge selection of Hedgehog Fibers, which I’ve been really wanting some skeins of. The women working in the store were super friendly and fun to talk to, and they had a bunch of beautiful shawls hanging all over the walls of the shop. There was a lot of space for sitting and knitting – it made me wish I lived close enough to visit regularly!

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I got 3 skeins of Hedgehog Fibers Merino DK in the colorway Salty Tales. I’ve been wanting to make something DK weight, and I was thinking I could pair these with a brownish yarn – any suggestions out there for patterns or DK yarns?

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I also visited Gather DTLA while I was in Los Angeles. The yarn store is on the second floor of The Last Bookstore, which was a cool place to visit in and of itself.

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The yarn store itself was pretty small, but did have some interesting looking yarns and friendly people. I didn’t end up buying anything since I had already bought yarn on the trip, and nothing seemed special enough. I did consider picking up a copy of West Knits Best Knits, which I’ve been wanting to own, but I decided to hold off on that.

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I wish I could have visited more yarn stores in the LA area (there are so many!), but I think the two I did get to visit were definitely good choices. What yarn stores in LA (or elsewhere!) are worth a visit?

 

Waiting for Rain

Happy spring everyone! It’s been a pretty rainy winter/first week of spring in the San Francisco Bay Area, so it’s pretty fitting that I just finished my Waiting for Rain Shawl. When I saw this pattern on Ravelry after I’d first started knitting, I immediately knew I wanted to make it someday. It was also one of Ravelry’s top patterns of 2016, so apparently a lot of others out there agree that it’s gorgeous. I particularly liked the striped versions that I saw, so I was happy to discover that the pattern comes with an extra document about how to customize the shawl. I’m in love with garter stripes!

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The yarn I used is Kismet Fiber Works Refuge Fingering. I’m not sure if this yarn is still being made, and I had a lot of trouble trying to figure out much about it. I believe the colorways I used are Larc’s Song and Twiggy, but I’m not positive. It was a really pleasant yarn to work with! It’s a 50%/50% camel and silk blend.

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The pattern is a top-down shawl in mostly garter stitch with short row lace. This was my first short row lace shawl, and I thought it was really fun – a nice break to the monotony of garter stitch. One thing I would change: my turning edges came out a little tight. I would probably yarn over at the end of each row if I were to make this pattern again. I used an i-cord bind off for the first time as well, and I love how professional and neat it makes the edge look!

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What are your favorite shawl patterns? If you’ve got a finished shawl to share, put a link in the comments – I’d love to check it out!

Eureka Vest

This post is a super exciting one for me to write! I’ve always been interested in designing knit/crochet patterns. Although I’ve designed a few simple things (like this hat and this cowl), I haven’t designed any real garments. However, for my local yarn store’s Finish it in February challenge, I really wanted to use up some Frog Tree Chunky Alpaca yarn I’d had for a while, but I couldn’t find any pattern that I loved that called for the amount of yarn I had (about 400 yards)… So I decided to go for it and design my own pattern! I’ve been really into high-low pieces recently, so I designed a vest that’s cropped in the back and hangs longer in the front.

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At about the same time I was starting to think about this pattern, I attended Stitches West and took a class taught by the Shibaguyz about creating fabulous crochet fabrics. It was a really great class that taught me a lot about how to make interesting textures with simple crochet stitches.

The fabric of this vest has a couple of simple but noticeable details – the front panels have a vertical lined texture, and the back panel has just a little bit of open work up its middle.

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I’m really in love with how the vest turned out! Although I kept track of everything I was doing as I made the vest, it took me a few weeks to actually get it into a format that would be easy to follow. I also made a charted pattern for the back panel, which took a bit of time because I’d never written a chart before.

The pattern is available in my Ravelry store. As I said, it’s the first real pattern I’ve ever written, so if you feel like giving it a go, please don’t hesitate to ask for clarifications or give me any suggestions on pattern writing.

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I’d love to see any of the first patterns you all designed and to learn more about the pattern design process – leave me a comment if you’ve got any tips or examples of first patterns!

Solar System Mobile

This past weekend I attended a baby shower for a friend – the first baby shower I’ve ever been to! My friend is having a boy who is due in April. Being a knitter/crocheter, I obviously wanted to make something instead of buying something from the registry. However, I’ve never loved the idea of spending hours making a sweater that will be too small in a few months. So… a baby blanket? That’s sensible, but I think I’d want to make a sensible one that could be washed after inevitably being thrown up on, and I felt like making something pretty and fun, not sensible.

So I decided to make a mobile! I’ve done a little amigurumi type crochet in the past, and my boyfriend got excited about helping me assemble and hang everything. I decided to do a solar system: I’m a scientist, spheres are easy to crochet, and the whole thing can be colorful and detailed and cute but still classy.

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I used this free ideal sphere pattern available on Ravelry to make different sizes of spheres. I added a flat round ring to Saturn and ruffles of solar plumes to the sun.

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I love how it turned out! It looks handmade but not too frumpy or clunky. I assembled the mobile with white cotton yarn, super glue, and wooden craft sticks from Michaels. The yarn is various colors of sock yarn I had lying around. I used a 2 mm crochet hook so that the fabric would be really tight. I like to save yarn ends in a big jar and use them for stuffing amigurumi – this project used up quite a large chunk of my ends!

If you have any questions about the actual yarn, colors, or sphere sizes I used for specific planets, I’d be happy to answer! I’m thinking about making another mobile for another baby in my life – any ideas on a theme for my next mobile?