Monday, September 26, 2011

WI Sheep and Wool Festival

One of two vendor barns

Sun Valley Fibers booth

A couple weeks ago I attended the WI Sheep and Wool Festival. Given that I have been knitting for nine years, and living in Wisconsin for seven, it's a surprise to me that I've never attended. I was able to slip away from the family for a few hours and I loved every moment I spent shopping, asking questions and taking in all that goes into the wool/sheep/yarn/knitting industry.

My yarn purchases were restricted to local WI vendors -

400 yds of fantastic red alpaca/nylon sock yarn from Alpacas of Prairie Station, and

a sage green merino/nylon sock yarn from Sun Valley Fibers. Can you tell I'm getting ready to knit up some more socks?

I also couldn't pass these lovelies up when I came across them. They are crafted by Jennie the Potter who is located in Minneapolis, MN. This set of stitch markers could easily double as necklace charms don't you think?

And these buttons will be perfect on a toddler sweater for my youngest.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

FO: 7th Anniversary Monogram

The traditional gift for the seventh wedding anniversary is linen or wool. I was thrilled to learn this, but quickly remembered our anniversary gifts are about the two of us: about togetherness and our union, not about each of us individuals. So I modified my dream of crates and crates of yarn to something more symbolic and attainable.

I temporarily entertained a couple of other fantasies: a fairly-traded, hand-woven, wool rug, or matching Aran sweaters (that I would knit myself), but quickly let both of these go too. The first one for cost, and the second one for time. Instead I settled on something for our home, something that incorporated our name, and something that wouldn't take me six months to complete.

Per the suggestion of a good friend, I modified the wedding monogram pattern from A Rainbow of Stitches to include just one initial, in this case an "O" for our shared last name. It is a counted cross-stitch design, stitched with white embroidery thread on natural, undyed linen. And I am so very happy with the end result.

I am not sure how I want to display this. The book showed the final piece unframed, but pulled over canvas stretchers. I may go with a traditional frame - with so many little people about I would worry too much about the spills and splatters that could happen, not to mention the, ahem, dust factor.

So far I have only located one other blogger that has completed this project. You can see her work here.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

FO: Tiny Tea Leaves

This sweet little cardigan is for my 3 yo (she'll be 4 in a couple weeks), but can you believe that I had to knit the size 6 to match her measurements? She is a lot taller than her sisters were at her age. With luck she'll be able to wear this for two seasons, and have the arms shift from full-length to three-quarter.

I have had the yarn in my stash for quite awhile. And I had a lot of it, just under 1000 yds. But I could never settle in an idea for myself so I am happy to have used a bunch of it for a kids cardigan. The pattern was very easy to follow and I love the final look. The arms are nicely tailored and the button closure is adorable.

This pattern also comes in adult sizes, and knit up in a dk weight would be gorgeous. I used worsted wool for my daughter, but I think that would be too bulky or too warm for an adult.

The colors in the photos aren't quite right - it is more bright then you see here. The last picture with the button is most true to color.

Monday, September 12, 2011

FO: Two Hats for Fall

Fall is in the air. It's back up into the high 80's today, but we had a few days of chilly weather come our way. Another round of lettuce and spinach have been planted, the kids are back into the routine of school and the baby is predictably napping. If I weren't fearful of jinxing it all, I'd would say life is hitting nice rhythm.

Over the past few weeks I've finished up two hats. The first is the hat pictured above. I had been coveting the the pattern for a few years already. It's the Noro Hat (free pattern) and I am so happy that I finally knit it. I'm not terribly thrilled with the final hat - it's a bit too bulky at the top for my taste, and let's face it Noro yarn is scratchy - but those colors! And the hat could be tailored with some modifications to the decrease rounds. And I love it enough that I've cast on for a second one with Cascade Eco Duo, a luscious blend of alpaca and wool in gray hues.

The second hat is Ride the Wave by Amy Anderson, a local knitwear designer. This hat was a store sample and I knew immediately I needed one myself. I love the patterning; those sharp angles set off by bright colors. The written pattern was easy too. There was a nice chart to follow, but the simple words, "every row is a repeat of four or two" was a the most helpful of all. Can you believe that counts of two and four make this gorgeous thing? Nature, in all her numerical wisdom, is an aesthetic genius.

The brim of the hat is too wide for me, so I just seamed it under and now it flares out just a bit, but I think, in a flattering way. I may also block the hat to see if I can squeeze a bit more ease out of it. If I were to re-knit this hat I'd go for a simple ribbed brim, using a smaller size needle.

Also, taking photos of yourself, wearing hats, in the bathroom mirror is a strange experience.