Winter Buzz

As I debated what to do with my houzuki hat and subsequently waited for the yarn to arrive, I cast on a project I've wanted to knit since June, when my sweet husband purchased 3 skeins of Spud & Chloe Sweater for me.  As we picked out the yarn, I saw a hat & mitten set that I absolutely fell in love with.  This set, the Winter Buzz Hat & Mittens by Michelle Hunter, just looked so comfy cozy sitting that I had to make both.

The mittens went together fairly quickly.  The cables rows occurred every four rounds, and the cabling was only done on the top side of the mitten.

 

Winter Buzz Mittens

As you can see, I still need finish the thumbs, but the mittens are awesome and just as comfy cozy as I had hoped.  The thumbs just had to wait until I finished the hat, because if the mittens were this awesome, the hat HAD to be phenomenal.

It did NOT disappoint.

Winter Buzz Hat

This is absolutely the most comfortable hat I've ever worn.  I love it!

Winter Buzz Makes Me Happy

See how happy I am?  Best.  Hat. EVER!

Houzuki Hat

During Christmas last year (2011), my friend Andrea went to Fresno to visit her family. My husband and I watched her awesome dogs, Hazel and Timber while they were away. As a thank you, Andrea gifted me with some pretty awesome yarn. First, this skein of Madeline Tosh in Betty Draper's Blues, which has become my Rikke hat.

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Anzula For Better or Worsted

And second, this gorgeous skein of Anzula For Better or Worsted in the color way 1Red Shoe.

I absolutely loved receiving both of these skeins of yarn, and even though the Madelinetosh is awesome, the Anzula was extra special.  First, it's from Fresno, which is where my friend grew up.  Second, it's hard to tell from this picture, but this is the PERFECT shade of red.  Absolutely perfect.

I waffled for a while about which pattern to make with the Anzula. I knew I wanted a hat, but am terrible at picking out hats for myself to make.  Probably because I can be the world's worst hat knitter.  Seriously.  I'm terrible at judging how how a hat is going to fit.  This includes how it will fit my own head.  Yes, I know I can try a hat on as I knit, but for some reason, I've made some seriously badly fitting hats in the past.  I'm getting better, though.  Anyway, my friend Mary is an awesome hat knitter.  She made a hat recently for a swap she participated in, and as I watched her work on the hat at our weekly knitting group, I knew I wanted to make that hat.  She used Cascade 220 for the hat, so the Anzula, measuring at just 200 yards, was going to be a little short.  I knew this going in, but Mary was able to get a pom pom out of it and I'm a VERY tight knitter, so I figured I had *just* enough yarn to make this hat.  I was, sadly, wrong.  The yarn is a thicker worsted than Cascade 220, so as I got closer and closer to the end of the ball, I realized that I was going to run out of yarn before I ran out of hat.  I was 6 rows from the end, and I had to throw in the towel.

Houzuki Hat with only 6 rows left and not enough yarn

If only I had just 20 more yards of this yarn, I would be able to finish, and it would be an amazing hat.  Trying it on like this, the hat was slouchy to a tee.  It was comfortable.  I wouldn't have enough for the awesome pom pom, but I could live with that.  I discussed my options with my knitting group.  We decided I had two choices, buy more yarn, which at $34 a skein was not a budget friendly option when I just needed 20 yards, or I could rip back and remove a repeat of the flower pattern.  I went for option 2.

Houzuki Hat minus a flower repeat

I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but this is not a slouchy hat.  As my husband says, "It's very form fitting".  I was not going for a beanie with this pattern.  So back to option 1.  Buy another skein.  I've done that - I got the skein from Chelsea Yarns who was having a 20% off Valentine's Day Sale last week.  Score!  The skein arrived yesterday, and my fears of completely mismatched dye lots has been quelched.  The colors are near perfect, at least in the light in my living room, so here's hoping there won't be any issues in the hat.  Soon, I'm going to have a slouchy hat - complete with pom pom.

The Year of Hats

I've noticed a trend in my knitting over the past few years.  2011 was the year of socks.  No, really. I participated in the Sock Knitters Anonymous Sockdown challenge (which began in 2010) and knit a whole lot of socks that year.  2012 was the year of the cowl, because I participated in the The Great KAL.  I also made a few as gifts.  Oddly, my favorite two...

Honey Cowl

and

Dots Cowl

both went to my knitting friend Meg in swaps.  That girl is cowl lucky!

So 2013 is the Year of Hats.  I've already gotten few off the needles.

Rikke

Wurm

I'm currently working on another, which was giving me fits (more on that later!), and have several planned!  In the queue:

  1. Ruche Beret by Susan B. Anderson (yarn planned is Cascade Eco Duo)
  2. Winter Buzz by Michelle Hunter (yarn planned is Spud & Chloe Sweater)
  3. Dripping on the Side by Justyna Lorkowska
  4. Chelsea Market Hat by Caryl Style

What hats do you love?

Day of Mystery

Anyone who knows me probably knows that my husband is *literally* the nicest guy in the whole wide world.  He never has a mean thing to say about anyone and he'd do just about anything for you if you ask. I feel truly blessed that he's  a part of my life, because he's so awesome!  Sometimes, though, he's awesome times infinity!  For my birthday, he planned a 'Day of Mystery' for me. He began hinting at the 'Day of Mystery' two or three weeks before my birthday, and I tried my darndest to find out what it was.  I knew that it had to be some sort of road trip, as my dad goofed a little and told me he was watching the dogs that day.  So I knew we weren't going to be in close proximity to our house.  That left a few choices:

1. IKEA - I've been talking about how I might want to go here to a) get meatballs and b) look at organizational stuff.

2. Columbus - We've been saying that we wanted to go to Columbus for a while, just to shop and tool around; maybe have dinner with some friends.

3. Ft. Wayne - I've been telling Chris that I'd like to visit the brick and mortar shop for Simply Socks Yarn Company.  This one was a long shot, but hey, a girl can dream that her man will take her sock yarn shopping, right?

Since I was super sleuthing it (or trying to) and we were in the midst of watching the BBC production of Sherlock, my husband started calling me Sherlock.  He never would tell me if I guessed correctly, though, so I had to deduce that I was right, just by how he squirmed.  But I didn't get the whole story.  I had guessed that we were going to Columbus.  He knows that one of my favorite places to eat when I'm there is Noodles & Company, and he had mentioned that day involved food.

What I didn't know, though, was that it also involved YARN!  That's right, my husband took me to Columbus to go to yarn stores - one in particular, though he said if there were others, he'd be glad to tag along and buy me yarn.  Yup, he was also buying me yarn.

We left our house around 9 a.m. and dropped the pups off at my parents house.  The drive was leisurely, though, in my head I tried to continually plan out what we were going to do/where we were going to go.  I know of, and really like, a few stores in Columbus, but there were only two that I truly wanted to hit up -  Knitter's Mercantile and Temptations.  The first stop was Knitter's Mercantile (super easy to get to from I-71).  I perused the store, but had told myself that I was only going to get something if I couldn't easily get it near Akron. My main goal was something by Spud & Chloe, but if something struck, I'd get it.  Sadly, no yarn struck me at Knitter's Mercantile, but the buttons sure were calling my name!  I purchased 3 pedestal buttons in Chocolate leather...

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1 button to enclose my needlebook case...

Needlebook Case for Handstitched Class

and 3 other random buttons for a (hopefully) cardigan.

After that, it was off to Temptations.  I went a different way than normal, and as I was getting close to Temptations, what did I see practically right next door?  A Jeni's!!  I have heard awesome things about this ice cream, but the 1 little batch that I got... well... it wasn't my favorite.  I know my husband and he is ALWAYS up for ice cream, so I made a note that we had to stop there after the yarn store.

Tempatations, as always, failed to disappoint!  They had exactly what I was looking for, but I didn't know it until I discovered something else I wanted.  Every yarn store has samples, and if the sample is a hat or mittens, I'm compelled to try them on!  The Winter Buzz mittens caught my eye first, followed closely by it's matching slouchy hat.  I'm always saying I'd like to make a matching hat and mitten set (to whom, I don't know.  You've probably never heard me say that!  But I tell it to myself all the time) and this set fit the bill.  I figured if I found some yarn I liked, then I'd make the set.  Lo and behold, they had Spud & Chloe sweater!

3 skeins turned out to be *just enough* yardage to make both the hat and the mittens.  I thought the store sample hat was a wee bit big, so I might see if I can size it down just a bit.  The mittens, though, fit like a dream.  I plan on making those first, and then making the hat.  That should be the best way to conserve yardage.  The ladies that work at the store were supremely helpful, and gave me some good tips on possibly getting my ball winder fixed!*

After we had purchased the yarn, it was nearly lunch time, but I wasn't about to head out without trying a bite of the Jeni's.  This time, the flavor I picked was a definite winner!


Sorry for the insanely dark photo... iPhone

I got Wildberry Lavendar, and boy, was it amazing!  I'd definitely get that again.  Chris, however, got Salty Caramel, which happens to be the only flavor I've ever tried before, and, not surprisingly, he wasn't impressed.  To me, it tastes like burnt sugar.  Which, I realize, is basically what caramel is, but you can make it flavorfully.  I warned him, though!

The rest of the day was all about 'regular' shopping - though we did eat Noodles & Company before hitting up Easton. We just walked around mostly, but it was such a spectacular day that the walking was awesome!  We did go into The Container Store, which Chris fell in love with.  While we were there, they had a travel demonstration.  I mentioned how nice Chris is, right?  Well, he's so nice, we participated (I would have walked away) and I ended up winning a $15 gift card!

After that, we hit up Polaris, but only for a minute.  I wanted to go to The Great Indoors, but sadly (very sadly!), it was going out of business.  Thanks to the 70% off/Everything MUST Go Sale, we ended up getting a really nice lamp set for a steal.  At this point in the day, I was exhausted.  Chris and I drove back over to Dublin, had dinner at Pizzeria Uno, and maybe got more ice cream at Graeters.  Can i just say that the Coconut Chocolate Chip is awesome?!  Truly.

We didn't get home until after midnight (which is WAY late for us!).  It was truly a wonderful day.  I'm so grateful that my husband is as thoughtful and caring as he is.

 

The beginning of my Handstitched Journey

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I'm taking a Handstitched class this summer.  The class is taught by Rachel over at Stitched In Color and it is fantastic.  The first lesson has dealt with reverse applique, a technique that involves cutting out a portion of fabric to reveal a layer below.  I was very busy last week with a) birthday celebrations! and b) preparing for my Stitch n' Bitch's upcoming yarn bombing and c) a special YARN SHOPPING* trip to Columbus that my sweet, sweet husband planned all by himself, so I didn't have a lot of time to sew.  But Sunday... Sunday I set aside the whole day to get into Handstitched gear.

I made this:

Needlebook Case for Handstitched Class

It is a needlebook to store my scissors, needles, and any other little doodads that my sewing heart desires.

Inside the needlebook case for Handstitched Class

I adore it, but man... did it take longer than I thought it would!  First, I got a rather late start to my day, as I got a little bit of a cleaning bug in the morning.  I have a lot of embroidery floss, and I decided that Sunday morning would be a good time to organize it.  Once I got started, though, the needlebook went fairly quickly.  It was just the prep-work and the second-guessing myself that slowed me down.

You see, I'm not usually someone who sews.  I have the fabric, a machine, and the skills to sew, but I always get bogged down in the prep.  With knitting, I just get my yarn, a pattern, and some needles and I start knitting.  With sewing, I have to set up the iron, iron the fabric, measure the fabric, cut the fabric, prep the machine (if I'm using a machine), pin things... there are just a lot of steps.  And it's all those steps that I sometimes forget about when I start planning my sewing time.  I suppose I need to be better prepared when sewing.

I've started the second project, a dogwood blossom quilt block (picture here if you're interested).  There wasn't as much prep, but I did have a hard time picking out fabrics.  I'm not sure I'm the greatest with reverse applique and cotton, so this block *may* be a practice block.  I have plenty of fabric left to make a second block, so I'm not to worried about it right now.  Practice will make perfect :)

Points too Pointy

I've decided not to do the other project for this particular series - at least for now.  The project is a tank top (or tee shirt) with reverse applique at the shoulder and waist.  I've lost 50 pounds in the last 9 months, and am not sure I want to put the work into a tee shirt that I won't fit into in a few months.  I might change my mind on this one, though. as I'm trying to learn the most I can from this class.

All in all, I'm truly enjoying the class.  We had a chat last Thursday with some of the other 'campers' (class is treated like camp, since it's taking place in the summertime), and it was great to 'meet' the other ladies that I'm learning with. It seemed that all were seasoned quilters, so it was a little intimidating.  I'm really hoping to get the class quilt (this is what the dogwood blossom square is for) finished this summer.  The quilt is gorgeous!!!  See what I mean?

 

* I'll blog about the trip to Columbus later this week.  It was a blast, and I'm the luckiest girl in the world!!!

Great Lakes Fiber Show Recap

I had a wonderful time last Saturday with my knitting group at the Great Lakes Fiber Show.  We saw some awesome alpacas...

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bunnies...

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Bunnies!

yarn...

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and some roving...

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Know what I didn't see?  Any dark wood crochet hooks that didn't cost $20 each.  So you know what I brought home?  These pictures.  And some super great memories of hanging out with my friends.  I rode down to the show with Meg, whom I always enjoy talking to at group, but have never had a chance to talk to outside of knitting group.  I enjoyed our ride immensely, and am glad I got to know her better!  We had Stacey and her fiancee in the car on the way down, and it was fun talking to Adam about zany celebrities (he works at a Theater).   A few of us got to have lunch, too, though we sort of separated at the show and had a hard time finding everyone when we were ready to go get lunch.  It was a pretty great day, even if I didn't increase the size of my stash!

Great Lakes Fiber Show

Today, my knitting group is attending the Great Lakes Fiber Show, a local 'sheep and wool' held at the Wayne County Fairgrounds in Wooster, OH.  I have attended this show for about 4 or 5 years, and each year, it grows.  This thrills me to no end as there is such an interest in knitting/spinning/crochet/weaving that it warms my heart.  I love seeing other people who love the things I love.  However, I don't need yarn!  I believe last year, when I attended with my friends Mary and Andrea, I bought a niddy noddy and a 40" size 8 needle.  I can't remember any yarn coming home with me.  That will probably be the case this year, as well.  What I really want - and TOTALLY don't need - are some beautiful crochet hooks.  I'll be on the lookout!

No matter if I need yarn or not, my reason for visiting this show - or any fiber-related event - is the camaraderie! I seriously have one of the greatest knitting groups on the planet.  These ladies (and gentleman) are funny, charming, intelligent, and just all-around wonderful!  My Wednesday nights would not be the same without them.

Playing Catch Up

I have been knitting... honest.  Just haven't been doing a bang-up job blogging about it.  There's proof, too!

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Flurries Cowl

Most of these were Christmas presents.  Two were cowls that I knit during the Great Cowl Knit-Along.  That sort of deserves it's own post... we'll get to it.  And since I finished that, I've almost finished a secret project (that probably isn't so secret, but we'll just pretend, ok?) and a hat for my mother-in-law.  I've knit another cowl for an awesome swap I just participated in.  And I believe I've knit a few rows on a sock I've been working on since February.

Are we caught up?  Good!  Because I have something fun on the horizon!

I recently signed up for an online handstitching class (hosted and taught by Rachel at Stitched in Color).  It starts on June 4 (a very special day for me as it's my birthday!) and runs through August 3rd.  There will be 5 lessons, complete with project plans to give some practice for the skills we are learning.  Each lesson will also have an online chat, an aspect of the class that I'm looking forward to.   I'm really looking forward to getting to know my fellow classmates (or campmates, since Rachel is treating this as a summer camp) while learning a few new skillz to add to the crafty toolbelt.

 

Fall Knitting Recap (a wee bit late…)

This fall - well, last fall really.  It was LAST year after all - I decided to be all crafty for my family.  It started out innocently enough, with wanting to make my nieces something I'd had in the back of my mind for a long time.  They go to a school whose mascot is a Panther.  And their logo is a paw.  How cool would that be as an illusion scarf?!?  So I set out to knit two before their football season ended.  I got them to them on October 29.  Pretty good timing, I think.

Pretty nifty, no?

My nieces enjoyed the scarves, too.

OK, maybe Rachel enjoyed her Halloween candy more...

Yup, Grace looks happy

You can tell pretty well in the second picture that the paw print doesn't show up straight on, but in the final picture, you can see it starting to pop.  I'm proud of those little scarves, and they honestly weren't hard to make.  I think my nieces will enjoy them for a while.  Now, I need to make my other niece and nephew one, as they go to a school with a polar bear mascot. Polar bears also have paws...

 

Almost Done…

I've seamed all of the squares together.  Tomorrow, it will get a good bath, and then, it's off to block.  After that, all I have to do is the i-cord edging.  Perfect lap blanket.

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