Sunday, March 27, 2011

FO: (Non) Blizzard Mittens

Only a few days after I started these fun Lovikka mittens, and they're already felted, embroidered, and keeping my hands warm and snug against the not-quite-spring winds!
I'm really happy with how they turned out, and now I finally have a pair to call my own after making a couple already for presents. I've worn them already, and I'm pretty sure they're going to be one of my new favorite winter pieces!
Pattern: Lovikka mittens from the book Folk Mittens by Marcia Lewandowski.
Yarn: Cascade 220 in a creamy off-white- 1 skein for both mittens. The embroidery is leftover red heathered and purple from other projects, both in Cascade 220.
Needles: 6- pattern called for 7
Made for: Myself! :)
Timeline: March 20-26th, one of my shortest ever for a pair of mittens
Modifications: Went down a needle size from what the pattern calls for, and when picking up 18 stitches for the thumb, I picked up one extra on each side so there wasn't a gaping hole, then after 2 rounds K2tog on those two extra stitches.
Worst Part: Not much- probably the wait to felt it, dry it, and embroider it.
Best Part: How quickly they knit up- the second mitten took about a day!
I also cast on for a spring shawl- and my first shawl ever. :) In bright turquoise, I'm excited with how fast it's knitting up!
Things have been pretty rough for me lately- I went from having the flu earlier this week to catching a cold and sore throat, then yesterday one of my eyes was all puffy and infected. Today both of my eyes are super puffy and infected, pointing to maybe pink eye. Going out in bright sunlight makes my eyes explode in pain, and I'm going in tomorrow to get it checked. So today, not only can I not breath from the cold or swallow well from the sore throat, I can't even see well. It's like my body wants to get all the sicknesses for the year over with in one big go- or at least that's my reasoning.
Off to do more homework, and maybe have a tiny nap.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Katie Knits

I finished knitting the (non) Blizzard Mittens, and they're currently in the washer before going to the dryer to be felted. I've been still down and out as I recover from a particularly nasty bout of the flu, which means a little more down time (sort of) for knitting. These knit up so fast I'll hopefully still be able to wear them before it gets too cold out. :)
All right, I have to admit I need a little help from all of you readers out there. I found a great little website that lets you put your own personal emblem on a piece of ribbon, which I could then sew into anything that I make for a friend or as a barter. It's actually very reasonably priced, and one spool would last for awhile!
Since I can be fairly drawing-challenged, I enlisted the help of my awesome Mom to draw up a few ideas for "Katie Knits" or "Katie's Knits", and she sent me about 30-40 really cute choices. From them, these are a few of my favorites.
Choice # 1- I like the way this incorporates what could either be knitting needles or sewing pins...
Choice #2- This is one of my favorites- simple and cute, with little needles...
Choice #3- A fair amount of flow, still simple but still some fun swirls...
Choice #4- A little more decoration on each end, but still feels nice and simple...
Choice #5- A bit of decoration, but less then the last one...
Choice #5- I don't know why I like this one so much, but I do. Fun and cute!
It was hard enough to narrow it down to even these 5 (and I'm still debating a couple other designs), so let me know which one you like, or would smile if you saw on the inside of a hand-knit good from a friend...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Silly MN, Blizzards are for Kids

One of my favorite things about living in Minnesota is that we're usually guaranteed a couple of blizzards every year. One or two of them usually occur in the springtime, after everyone is ready to see green grass and put away the thick winter jackets.
The last couple of days have been like this. The forecast has been ominous- 40 mph gusts of winds, blowing snow, white-out conditions- but the only thing that really seemed to happen was the crazy wind. In order to ensure that no snow days would occur, or crazy weather was to be had, I cast on for a pair of Lovikka mittens I've been meaning to make for myself for those windy, blizzardy days like those promised.
I figured if I cast on for those mittens, there was no way we would get the blizzard. After all, being prepared means it usually doesn't happen, right?
It held true all of yesterday. I was inside battling the flu most of the day, and every few hours would wake up, peek out my window, feel the wind shaking the building (they weren't kidding about that), and note that there really wasn't any snow on the ground.
I couldn't believe it- maybe I was helping avert the blizzard!
Maybe it wouldn't happen!!
Dragged myself to class this morning- still through crazy wind- but by now, the skies had held off long enough.
By the time I got home- and nearly to the top of the first mitten...
the snow has started to fall.
Darn it. And here I thought I was helping jinx this silly blizzard nonsense (or un-jinx it, depending on how you look at it).
Guess I better make sure my avalanche shovel is in the trunk of my car to dig myself out...

Sunday, March 20, 2011


It's amazing how fast this week has gone by! Luckily, I feel that I made the most of it, by relaxing, doing homework, and crafting as much as I could. I've got major progress on quite a few of my projects, and I'm even in the home stretch for some of the big ones.
First off are the chalk bags! I've been trying to perfect my pattern for making chalkbags, and I'm making the two of these side by side- one as a donation for a local high school climbing club, and one for my ballet friend (as incentive to come climbing more!). I'm finally happy with the sizes that they're turning out to be, but I'm still learning things along the way (for instance, double check how to put a grommet in before you actually punch holes in fabric!).
I have to make a quick run to Michael's in the next couple of days to get a drawstring before I can go any further, but thus far I'm very excited with how good they're turning out! Of course, saying this means that the sewing gods are going to strike a big bolt out of the sky right down on my head, so expect unhappy posts soon about these...
Next, the first of the Alice mittens is really taking shape! I'm almost to the top of the thumb, which should make them go considerably faster once I put those stitches on the holder. This particular pattern is a little more difficult for fair isle, as the yarn has to sometimes run quite a ways between colors, but I'm still really satisfied with how it's turning out. It's exciting to see it take shape (which is one of my favorite things about fair isle)!
I'm about two rows away from being finished with the back of my Thursday Next Vest, and I'll be starting soon on the front to finish it up- woohoo! This one was an impulse make, and even though I usually don't wear vests I'm excited to see how this one turns out. If I wear it a lot and I enjoy it, I have one or two other vests/vest-like things already in mind that I'd like to cast on for...
Last but not least is the big beauty in my pack, the Vivian sweater. I'm finally up to the yolk of the shoulders, and I'm really excited to finally get this thing finished so I can wear it with pride! If I hadn't let it just sit forever because I would get stuck on one little stitch here or there, it would have been finished months ago. Ah well... next time I do a sweater, I'll do better, I know! ;)
I'm especially happy with how pretty the cabling on the back is... I added two cables in the center seed stitch section that go up the back, and I think it'll add to the overall effect a lot. This is going to be one of the more difficult sweaters I've ever knit, and I love it! Cabling sweaters are definitely for me. :)
With so many projects close to the finish line, I'm trying to just get the big ones done and out of the way before I start anything else. The only problem is just that- they're big, bulky, and not very friendly for bus knitting or sticking-in-my-purse knitting (the Alice mittens are just too fiddly to do that). So I guess I'll be forced to cast on for something to knit for the bus ride to school... question is, exactly what might that be?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring Break Fun!

Despite the homework load I've had this break, I've managed to put a little bit of random fun into the days I have off. I found a fantastic cookie recipe online for chocolate chip cookies, and for the first time in awhile was able to bake successfully!
Super easy recipe:
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 Tblsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 cups chocolate chips (I used Nestle Milk Chocolate chips- sooo good!)
~ Preheat oven to 325
~ Sift together flour, baking soda and salt.
~ Cream butter and sugar until well blended. Beat in vanilla and eggs until light and creamy. Mix in with the sifted stuff until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.
~ Drop dough in about 1/4 cup at a time, about 3 inches apart.
~ Bake 10-15 minutes, until edges lightly toasted.
~ Cool on baking sheets before transferring to wire rack.
Makes a little less than two dozen cookies. Let's just say that between giving them away and how tasty they were, they didn't last long. :)
I also have been doing a lot of ballet barre and center, getting ready for my final two recreations in my ballet class.
For one, we'll be given a female variation on pointe from the ballet La Bayadere. I'm not sure which variation it will be yet- we'll be learning it in a week or so. We get to choose the other, and I found this video that I really enjoy and have started to work on. It's a little slower, but in reality it makes it more controlled and a little more difficult. Hopefully I can get the whole thing figured out and practiced by the time finals week rolls around!
My shoes are starting to show the wear and tear of months of daily practice, and late last week I was beginning to feel the satin on the bottom of the box really deteriorate, making it more painful to be up on pointe.
Pointe shoes. Brand new, beautiful, Bloch Serenade, and on sale. :)
Knitting and other crafts update tomorrow...

Monday, March 14, 2011

FO: Electric Kool-Aid Socks

A long time ago, in a yarn store far, far away, I found a beautiful skein of Jitterbug yarn. It was a creamy white, interrupted by bands of beautiful and crazy bright colors that screamed "FUN!". It's hard enough to resist Jitterbug yarn, but tie-dye crazy in the middle of a gray spring is impossible.
I got the yarn and realized I had no idea what to make with it. It hung out in my stash until about mid-summer, when I decided a nice lace scarf was exactly what to do.
I got about half-way through that project before I realized I really didn't like the way it looked, and frogged it back. I spent a good few months waiting for the right pattern to emerge. It had to be simple, since the colors would take away from any lace or cabling, but it had to be interesting enough to keep me entertained.
I finally found a great pattern online, called "A Nice Ribbed Sock", (Ravelry link), which would help keep the sock on my banana ballet-girl feet and still be fun and easy to knit during class time.
I decided to call my socks the "Electric Kool-Aid Socks", since the crazy bright colors are going to be a nice lift for me on these gross spring days before the colors start to really show!
Yarn: the yarn is the Colinette Jitterbug, in white/tie-dye variation.
Needles: size 1
Best Part: Probably the colors. I enjoyed watching them evolve as the sock progressed!
Worst Part: The heel was a problem for me due to my tight knit, so I had to knit a bit more than the pattern originally called for in order to get the 18 stitches necessary to do the gusset. In the future, I might modify the pattern to just have a short row heel. In relation to the yarn, another worst part was figuring out what pattern to use!
The fit is pretty good- a little on the loose side for my taste, so I might give them a good hot bath and see if I can block them nice and snug.
Overall, a fun pattern and a warm and bright pair of socks to keep my feetsies warm!

Today I've been spring cleaning my apartment like mad. I already have three bags of crap to bring to the donation center, and next on my list is to completely gut and clean out my room. I have the time to do it today, and it would feel amazing to have a clean, organized workplace when school really begins to pick up at the end of the semester.
I've been working on my Pointe Socks during down time, and I'm loving the pattern so far.
It's such a pretty yarn to work with, too! I'm a little nervous that they're going to be a little loose as well- is there any way that I can fix this after the fact? A good round in the wash? Suggestions?
Off to tackle the living room... and maybe go through my books for a book exchange while I'm at it! :)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

FO: Midterm Cowl

Springtime in Duluth is usually fairly crummy. Case in point- yesterday, the dusting of snow turned into a rain/snow mix by the time I was biking home from work, and this morning I'm enjoying my morning coffee while watching big fat snowflakes drift down. Mother Nature takes about three months to figure out whether or not she's in winter or summer up here, giving 40 degrees and sun one day but a twenty degree drop, plus winds and ice and snow the next.
This means one must be prepared in terms of winter apparel. I got the cowl bug from Red's recent posting, and after only a few days cranked out one of my new favorite pieces to my wardrobe!
Specs: From the Burberry Cowl pattern by Julianne Smith, available for free! I called it my "Midterm Cowl", since it was my stress relief knit while studying for midterms and working on my abstracts for papers.
Yarn: I used the delicious Baby Alpaca Grande from Plymouth Yarn, and it was ridiculously soft and cozy to knit with. It's got a fair bit of bulk around my neck, which is perfect for keeping on the chilly wind coming off Lake Superior.
The pattern was super easy to knit. I can't decide if the pattern or the yarn is the best part about this project, because both were amazing! The speed that I got it done means it'll be one of my go-to pieces for a fast present knit, plus I know a few people that would probably wear it!
The only snag I hit was that I ran out of yarn before I could get the full four repeats that the pattern called for- I ended up about 10 rows from where it was supposed to end. Not a huge deal, as it still fits perfectly and will keep me plenty snug!
As I enter my spring break week, I'm going to make it a point to attempt to finish off at least a couple of the lingering projects I have waiting in my Ravelry "Works in Progress" list. My Vivian sweater, for instance, needs just the yolk, the hood, and a zipper before it's completely done. I'm going to make it my goal to finish that sweater during this break week so I can wear it in the chilly Minnesota spring, which usually extends through May and into June. Plenty of time to wear it left. :)
Today, I'm heading down to the DECC- the girls that I teach competition tap dancing to are competing today in the first competition of the year! I'm a little nervous, hoping that they won't forget their steps or arms or smiles, which still enjoying being onstage. Guess I'll have to wait and see...

Sunday, March 6, 2011


In between all the studying this weekend, I got to take a quick break to go cheer on the UMD Bulldogs against Nebraska-Omaha on Saturday night!
Normally I frequent the student section, but I had a special treat from my friend Isaac- he had an extra ticket in a box suite, right on center ice! I was pretty stoked, and was sitting on the edge of my seat most of the game!
I was working diligently on my cowl in between periods in order to calm down from all the cheering, excitement and action...
and afterwards I was able to stop off and see a crazy brother in the curling club for a quick talk and a drink before heading home.
Next weekend- PLAYOFFS!!!
It's my last week before spring break, so a big push to get a lot done. I'm already almost done with the cowl, so hopefully I'll finish that and get some pictures in the next couple of days. We'll see?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Midterm Alert

Things are decidedly heating up around here. I spent a long night Tuesday editing and re-editing and checking facts before handing in another draft of my thesis paper on Wednesday, bought my graduation rope and ordered my Master's hood on Thursday, and today I'm working on the essay portion of my take-home midterm for Victorian lit. The semester is definitely putting the heat on!
In celebration of my thesis draft, I took a small detour to Yarn Harbor after seeing Red's blog post about a certain cowl... in a certain type of yarn...
Remember when I fell in love with Malabrigo, saying it was like knitting with butter and I would never look back?
I hadn't touched Plymouth Yarn's Baby Alpaca Grande yet.
Normally, this is a lot nicer yarn than I would ever get for myself. However, a beautifully done and much-coveted cowl pattern makes it worthwhile, plus it's a fast knit and will be perfect for the damp and chilly Minnesota spring. The utter and complete fuzzy softness will couple perfectly with lighter spring jackets, yet keep me cozy when biking around.
Plus, having a rough week means it's nice to treat yourself once in awhile. :)
I got the yarn on Thursday, expecting to maybe start the project after next week, when my spring break was starting.
But the yarn just sat there... cozy... pretty... making yarny eyes at me... coaxing me with promises of a quick, soft, glorious knit..
And I couldn't help myself.
Now I'm just going to limit it to a couple of rows every fifteen minutes. A little reward for all the homework.
Better sooner than later... right?