Friday, February 25, 2011

Stitches West 2011 shopping spree

I went to Stitches West 2011 last friday and shopped the marketplace. If yarn shopping is any indicator of the state of the economy, then it must be booming because the place was packed. I got there shortly after noon and it took several circles around the parking lot to find a space. I remember the attendance being pretty sparse in both 2009 and 2010. I myself purchased more than I did last year.

At the WEBS booth, I bought 3 bags of yarn. Two of them are Louisa Harding Grace-silk & wool. The third is Valley Yarns Northfield. I also purchased the Norah Gaughan volume 8 booklet. I've already cast on for Nespelem using the green Louisa Harding yarn.

From the Woolstock Yarn Shop booth, I bought a sale bag of Sublime Organic Merino DK yarn.

I bought this interesting shawl/sweater "safety-pin" from a vendor selling lots of wooden crafty things, but I forgot to pick up a business card.

I got this interesting button from Bob's Buttons. It's made from a Micronesian palm seed and embellished with turquoise.

Finally, I visited my favorite button vendor and got these plastic buttons which are made to look like metal. They are very lightweight, which makes them great for knits.

Monday, February 14, 2011

FO: Cafe Tunic

This is Cafe Tunic from Modern Top-down Knitting by Kristina McGowan. I used Fibranatura Heaven, which is a very soft and light merino/silk blend. It's great for wearing with leggings or thick tights. Anything else would be too bulky and show too many lumps and bumps under the skirt section. It's not tight at the bottom, but I find that knits just tend to show lumps and bumps unless they are much looser or much thicker. I made many little adjustments to the pattern to get the look I wanted.

I added the honeycomb stitch pattern to the top and the hem because I thought it looked just too boring with all that stockinette. All my edges are finished with a row of single crochet followed by a row of reverse single crochet -- I think that looks way more finished and less "homemade" that just a row of single crochet.

The part I fussed with most is that middle band. The pattern calls for binding off stitches, then picking up single crochet and skipping some knit stitches for the gathering, and then knitting after that. I knew that I needed that middle section to hug the torso in order not to look frumpy but it also had to pull over my shoulders. I ended up adding a dense row of half double crochets and using it to encase 1/4" elastic and then picking up the bottom knit stitches from that. This brings in the middle nicely. The neckline also took several tries with different hook sizes to pull the it in just so without puckering. Otherwise, it would fall off my shoulders too easily, and I was not interested in achieving the Flashdance look.
For the sleeves, I did not bother with elastic cord -- I just skipped stitches with the single crochet to get the right amount of gathering.
I did the more standard A-line increases on the bottom instead of doing concentrated increases at the top hip area. The bottom flares out a bit because the honeycomb pattern is a looser gauge, but I'm happy with look.
Finally, I added some short rows to the front to keep the gathering level from front to back.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

And the winner is.....

The winner of my yarn giveaway is Melissa! Congratulations on winning some free stash enhancement!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mid-winter/Groundhog Day/Lunar New Year yarn giveaway!

Hi there! One third of the US seems to be covered in some sort of giant snow storm right now, but for some reason, the SF bay area has had a few too many days of sun. It's nice and all, but we do need rain. Anyway, to cheer everyone up, I'm giving away some of my leftover yarn. These yarns are all leftovers from one project or another and now they just take up space. Stitches West is coming, and I do need to make a bit of room. What I'm giving away, all in one prize, is the following:
- 3 balls of di.VĂ© Zenith, used to make this climbing vines pullover.
- 2 skeins and then some of Berroco Lustra, used to make this dress. I recently converted that dress to just a skirt, but I'll blog about that another day.
- 1 ball of Classic Silk from Classic Elite yarns, used to make Ambrosia.
- 2 balls of Debbie Bliss Stella, used to make Mirabella and this cowl
- 1 ball of Fibranatura Mermaid, used to make Ingenue.
- 1 skein of elsebeth lavold Silky Wool, used to make slinky ribs pullover. NOTE -- this one is omitted from the photo.

To win this lovely pile of yarny goodness, all you have to do is leave a comment before midnight, Sunday February 13. If you don't think I know who you are, please leave a clue as to how to contact you. A ravelry id always works, or if I can navigate to your blog, that would work also. Otherwise, you will have to leave an email address.

Happy groundhog day, and good old Phil is predicting an early spring.

Also, since tomorrow is the lunar new year, Happy New Year!