Montana Sweaters

I know it’s been a long time since my last post but a lot has been going on. My husband and I took one small step to having our own farm and got chickens! They have grown a lot since the picture below and actually look like chickens now with feathers. We will need to finish painting their coop and build their fenced area but they will be making eggs soon!

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I also got a part time job at Knitche in Downers Grove. This place has been my local yarn shop and I attend their Saturday morning knit a long. When I heard they were hiring I was very excited and filled out an application right away! They must have liked me because I got the job and have been working there a couple weeks now. The ladies are lovely and I can’t wait to learn all I can from these wise women.

Now on to my knitting. I’ve been working on a bunch of projects but I just finished these two baby sweaters that are just too sweet not to share. They are for our friends that live out in Montana, Paul and Emily. They just got married in October and they are expecting twins this summer! They are having a boy and a girl. I decided to make them sweaters similar to Baby Rauen’s sweater. I love this pattern because it is is simple and turns out great every time.  You can find the pattern on Ravelry at Sweet Tweet Jacket.

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I love these jackets because you can customize them. On these I did duplicate stitches and stitched on a horse and a deer head. The parents have some horses and love hunting, so I thought it was appropriate. I used the recommended yarn in the pattern, Quince and Co. Lark. I love this yarn because it is 100% American Wool, there are so many fabulous colors, it’s just a great yarn to work with and has great stitch definition.

I can’t wait to see the little ones in these!

Check this project out on Ravelry!

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RedditGifts

My husband is a regular Reddit user and he came across this thing called RedditGifts. They were having a yarn exchange, which I though was an awesome idea! The way it works is you sign up, give some information about what you like and details about you. Reddit will match you with someone and someone else is matched for you, it is not a one to one exchange.

My match happened to live not to far, just a couple towns over. This was great because I got her some yarn from a local yarn shop pretty close to both of us. She is actually a crocheter, so that was a little challenging in figuring out what she would like. But, I think I did well.

wowi-sure-got-spoiled-i-love-it-all-1427335721-937612583738I got her some yarn called “Lova”, this looked liked a yarn that could make a cool crochet project. I also got her some Quince and Co. Lark, one of my favorite yarns! Let’s just say I think she loved it, see her post in the Yarn Exchange 2015 here.

I got my package the other day and I was just amazed at the thoughtfulness of the contents.

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I got some sock yarn which is great because I would love to start making more socks. Some yarn from Nice and Knit, which is lovely hand dyed yarn. I have been following their blog for a while and just haven’t purchased their yarn yet. This color is exactly my taste and I can’t wait to knit something up. There was also a Miss Bab’s Hand Dyed Yarn & Fiber mini skein, it’s so cute! There was also some Nice and Knit Stitch Markers, you can never have too many stitch markers. You can see my post in the Yarn Exchange 2015 Gallery here.

This was just an awesome experience and I could feel the love and passion in this amazing fiber community. I’m so glad to be a part of it.

Spinning 101

Back in January I was looking around in search of a spinning class in my area. Any type of spinning class. I just wanted to get my foot in the door and try it to see if I even liked it. I happened across the classes page at Esther’s Place Fiber Arts Studio. At first glance, I was very impressed by the variety of classes offered and I found the class for me: Spinning 101. Here is the description:

“Perhaps the crème de la crème of our spinning classes, this class starts at the sheep with washing the fleece, carding and spindling, progressing through the six weeks to cover a wide range of skills and techniques. End the class with a dyeing workshop, making this a very thorough course. Class includes rental of a Schacht Spindle Matchless wheel so you can spin at home during class!”

It was exactly what I was looking for! I found it on a Wednesday and realized it started that Saturday and the location was about 45 minutes from my house. I ran it past my husband, he was thrilled and said go for it! So that next Saturday morning I was in Big Rock, IL at my first spinning class.

Week 1:

I arrived at Esther’s place and it was so cute! We started out learning how to wash fleece just sheered off the sheep. Then we carded with hand carders to make rolags. Finally we learned how to spin those rolags on the drop spindle. Our homework was to card some more in to rolags and make more yarn on the drop spindle.

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Esther’s Place

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Week 1 homework

Week 2:

This week we learned how to ply on the drop spindle from a center pull ball of yarn the we had done for homework. I made a total of 11 yards! Then we learned the basics on the spinning wheel and got to take it home to practice.

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Single plyed yarn from the drop spindle

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Left: my two ply yarn from the drop spindle. Right: The Schacht Spindle Matchless

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Buckled up in the car

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My first time spinning on the wheel

 Week 3:

We learned how to make 2 ply yarn on the spinning wheel

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Making the yarn for 2 ply

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2 ply yarn off the wheel

Week 3 also happened to be Valentine’s day. Esther’s Place was having an open house and you could needle felt your own love bug. I have never needle felted before, it was a great learning experience and I got to keep this cute little bug.

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Week 3 Homework:

We got some yarn to practice plying and I loved the colors!

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Week 4:

This week we learned how to add beads and sequins to yarn. It was like plying but little more exciting. We also learned how to woolen spin. That was something I really struggled with. I think I’m going to stick to worsted.

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Week 4 Homework:

We had to prepare our yarn in a certain way. We had to do it by colors in order to prepare for Navajo plying. I didn’t really understand the concept of Navajo plying so I just did what made sense to me. After learning what it was I realized i didn’t have to make the different balls of yarn but that was okay, I got practice in joining the yarn!

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Week 5:

We learned how to Navajo ply! Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures of the other things we did. But we also learned how to add curls to 2 ply yarn and how to spin from the fold.

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Week 5 “Homework”:

We didn’t have any home work this week but it was the last week renting the spinning wheel. I wanted to take full advantage of this opportunity so I bought 4 oz of Bluefaced Leicester and made a lofty goal of spinning it all!

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Blueface Leicester

 I pretty much spent all my free time spinning and stayed up late on the night before class to finish.

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Single Ply

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Ready to 2 ply

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2 ply!

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Finished

I finished and I can’t wait to wash it. I’m thinking it will fluff up a little when I wash it. I made about 170 yards of 2 ply and now I need to figure out what project is worthy enough to be made out of my hand spun yarn.

Week 6:

This week we dyed yarn! I had just done a dyeing workshop the previous week so I was excited to get a second shot at it. I went with pinks, oranges and yellows.

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Last week I get to ride with the wheel

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Prepping fiber to be dyed

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My dyed fiber

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I really loved this class! It covered a ton of things in just 7 weeks. It was a little sad the next Saturday to not drive 45 minutes to Big Rock. I’m so thankful for Esther’s Place and what they do there! I hope they keep doing what they are doing.

Dyeing Workshop

This past week I had the opportunity to participate in a dyeing workshop at my local yarn shop, Knitche. For the past month they have been hosting Rocking the Wool in their Pop-up shop. They usually do an event along with the pop up shop and this month it was a dyeing workshop. I have been itching to start dyeing yarn so I saw this as a perfect opportunity. I called the day after I got the Knitche newsletter talking about the workshop and there was already a waiting list! I was pretty bummed. But, the next day I got a call saying they were adding another workshop right after the first. I was thrilled and signed right up!

The workshop was nice and simple. We started out with safety. They use a Greener Shades dyes, which are heavy metal free acid dyes. I had never heard of such a thing so I was very interested. We just had to wear gloves and the instructor did all the dye mixes. At the beginning of the workshop we had to pick between kettle dyeing the yarn or hand painting, we all chose hand painting.

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It kind of looks like we were doing some kind of experiment. The mason jars had the dye in them and we poured them in to our own cups and made our own color or just used the existing dye. I used color blue and yellow and they bled together and made green!

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Wet, newly dyed yarn in a bag.

We laid out the yarn the had been prepared for us on saran wrap and painted on the colors we wanted with spoons. Once we were done “painting” we wrapped the yarn up in the saran wrap and put it in the microwave to set.

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When I got home I was told to rinse the yarn with tap water then let it dry. It looked awesome on the hanger!

IMG_3929Kathy, the owner of Knitche, got this awesome shot of us all dyeing. I’m on the top left!

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I am beyond thrilled with the result of my dyeing! The colors are just perfect. The yellows are very bright and so are the blues and when they come together they make this beautiful green. I can’t wait to knit something up with this. I had such a great time at this workshop that I think more dyeing might be in my future.

After learning about the acid dyes and how the process works I think I’m going to try and focus on natural dyeing. I have a garden and it would be so fun to make dyes out of what I can plant. Has anyone done any hand dyeing or have any tips about dyeing?

Man Sweater

My knit a long started doing a “Man Sweater” project back in November. The original pattern is Timberline by Brooklyn Tweed. We dubbed it “The Liam Sweater” named after the model in the photos who we call Liam. One women made this sweater for her husband. The KAL staff member made this sweater for herself. Another women decided on a totally different sweater. I showed my husband the Timberline and his response was “I will never wear that”. At first I was bummed because I was really excited to cable and make a whole sweater out of cables. But, I realized I would be more upset if my husband never wore it. So, I told him he could pick out his own sweater and the search began on Ravelry. We finally settled on Colonel Henley by Spud and Chloe.

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I got a great deal at Vogue Knitting Live on some Ella Rae Classic yarn that my mom found. When I first started this pattern I got beyond frustrated with making the shoulders work. I actually ripped it out and started over twice. I eventually contacted the designer on Ravelry and tried to figure out what I was doing wrong. We figured it out  and on the third try I got it right. It was a new technique to me on how to make the shoulders. The sweater went very smoothly after that. It was just a lot of work. Making a men’s sweater is much bigger then a women’s sweater.

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He has already worn it to work twice and to church to show it off a little. I’m very pleased with this sweater and my husband really loves it, that’s all that matters! Check out this project on Ravelry!

Left Shark

On Superbowl Sunday I watched the big game even though I did not care at all who won. I love football but I would rather cheer on my team (Chicago Bears). I basically watched the game for the halftime show. I’m also not in love with Katy Perry but I did really enjoy the halftime show, especially the dancing sharks, trees and beach balls. Apparently everyone else also loved these guys especially the left shark. Here’s a little article about how viral this shark got, Consider the Left Shark. I really was clueless to this phenomenon, I just thought they were cute. Then my long time friend tweeted “Did they make plush stuffed Katy Perry sharks yet, because I think I’m going to need one.” Her birthday is this week and I thought this was a perfect opportunity to try and recreate Katy Perry’s Left Shark. I really made it up as I went and tried to write it down as I knitted. I have some knowledge of toy construction making toys from MochiMochi Land. But, once he was done he was perfect. I gave it to her at her surprise birthday dinner and I can’t really describe her reaction other then, she loved him.

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The picture does not do him justice at all, he is way cuter in person. He’s about 2 inches of adorableness. I’m pretty proud of this little project and so glad it brought my friend happiness on her birthday!

A Little Selfish Knitting

I’ve been knitting a lot of gifts lately for Christmas and babies. As you can see in this post I got a lot of awesome presents from my family that needed to be made. First I needed some better gloves or mittens. I saw these Snowfling Mittens on Tanis Fiber Arts and I just had to make them! I’m not an expert in color work but I can make do and I thought these would be a perfect project to practice on. My in-laws had gotten me the kit and I picked out the colors that match my winter trench coat perfectly.

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The kit came with two Yellow Label DK Weight yarn (Charcoal and Natural) and one Purple Label Cashmere Sock yarn (Poppy). These colors were perfect and they also match the colors of my favorite NHL hockey team, the Chicago Blackhawks!

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I worked on these everyday after work for a couple weeks because I was just so excited to wear them. The two layers of knitted fabric is a brilliant mitten design. It keeps your fingers extra warm and fits your hand so nicely. I especially like the cashmere lining. I wear rings daily and I’ve had issues in the past with knitted items getting stuck as I put them on past my hands. But this cashmere makes a nice tight fabric and my rings don’t get caught! I’m not sure if that was intentional in the design but it’s a great perk. Check this project out on Ravelry!

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For Christmas I bought myself a little present from the Pop Up shop at Knitche. I bought Rauma Finullgarn of Norway which was presented by The Yarn Guys. My KAL leader Amanda Davidson introduced me to this yarn and pattern.

IMG_3758At first I was very frustrated with the Quadrifurcus pattern. I was trying to obtain gauge and I was just no where near the measurements. I just kept staring at the pattern and was waiting for it to tell me what I was doing wrong. I put it down for a while and thought about it and then it just hit me. Looking back it was just stupidity on my part. The pattern calls for a gauge in a basket weave stitch. The only kind of basket weave stitch I know is like the image below:

BasketWeaveWhy I thought this was the basket weave stitch they were talking about, I have no idea. This stitch is not even in the pattern. I eventually figured out that they were talking about this basket weave stitch:

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Once I figured out what the pattern was actually talking about, it got much easier. You really have to pay attention as you knit it though, it’s easy to get lost in the stitches and miss something. The pattern is written out and made in to a chart. I finished the hat just in time for the 5th worst blizzard in Chicago’s history!

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I really love the colors I chose and how they over lap each other. I also love this “new” basket weave stitch. It looks complicated but is really very easy once you get the hang of it.

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Yesterday was the Monday after this big blizzard. Unfortunately, I still had work. But, I got to wear a lot of my hand knit items to work! My new Quadrifurcus, my striped cowl from a couple years ago and my Baldrun Sweater (Click links to check them out on Ravelry).

I hope all you knitters out there take time to make something for your self. I get a great sense of pride when I wear my own hand made stuff.