Knitting: My second knitting project

After my first knitting project I was on a roll, and with five balls (doubled up) of  Loop & Threads kaleidoscope yarn in Mousse from Michaels I made up this scarf/cowl.  It’s an acrylic/wool mix, so my initial hope was that I could felt it up just a little – however when I finished it off, I like how thick and spongy it is, and it’s dense enough with the yarn doubled up that I didn’t think I needed to.

Loops & Threads is Michael’s own ‘house brand’ yarn – but the price point seems to be similar to Bernat – though Michael’s doesn’t really have a big enough selection for me to really judge things equally.  I also didn’t really think of comparing amounts either while I was there… I was more looking for “do I like this” than anything else at this point.

so thick and cozy!

So this yarn transitions with ivory,  a light heather (speckled) grey, a light brown-grey, a caramel colour, a purple-brown, and a darker chocolate brown.  Normally browns don’t appeal to me, but I loved the purple in this, and they didn’t really have it in many ‘subtle’ colourways… all of the colourways they had were quite bold and bright with high-contrast… or super pale.  I can certainly wear this with some of my steampunk things though!  Since I used two balls at a time, in one stitch there are two colours, which I think is really interesting. In parts, there are stripes of just chocolate brown or just the light grey, (where both strands met with the same colour) but for the most part it is speckled.  I think it’s interesting… I did this only in a knit-stitch (not a knit and purl) mostly because as I was making this that’s the only stitch I knew, and I didn’t want to complicate my brain more than I had to to be able to do both knit and purl.  I actually really like the way this worked out though…

Using the two yarns together it made up pretty quickly – I think I finished it off in about three hours in total which is very gratifying for a newbie!  It also made it nice and dense – thick and cosy!  Mom mentioned that trying to do two yarns at once was probably a bit more difficult – but again… just like my first project, how could I possibly do anything the easy way?

I finished the cowl off with three massive huge buttons.  I would have preferred them in brown for this, but I only had black.  If I ever find (or make) huge buttons in brown instead… I’ll switch them out!

I picked up another ball of this yarn in a different colourway (I think it’s called Night Sky – but the yarn isn’t on the Micheal’s website at all for me to check…) which I’m doing single-strand with smaller needles – they only had one skein though, so we’ll see how it all turns out – if I can make anything at all from it (right now it’s just being worked up as a narrow scarf…) or if I’ll be felting it to see how it felts – and then possibly made up into a small purse.

The feeling of the yarn itself – well, it’s not as soft as I would like.  I wonder if it’s the itch-factor from the wool, or if the acrylic in it just isn’t very soft to begin with.  I think that as a scarf/cowl it’s great – but I don’t think I’d want anything that would be against bare skin made of this yarn.

So… what do you think?  Experienced knitters – be kind!

Book Review: Amy Butler’s Style Stitches

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When I started making a few little totes and purses, I noticed really great Amy Butler purse/bag patterns in some of the quilting shops.  I didn’t pick any up, but instead I looked for a book… and found Amy Butler’s Style Stitches.

The book has great photographs and illustrations, and all of the projects use the beautiful, floral, kind of funky fabrics that Amy Butler is so well-known for.  The directions all seem clear and well-written, though perhaps a little wordy. I confess, I wouldn’t really follow too many instructions in this book, but I rarely follow pattern instructions anymore unless there is an unusual feature that I’m less familiar with.

Generally speaking, the patterns seem quite simple, so I think that they would work for any sewing level.  Advanced sewers could probably whip one up quickly or add their own personal touches, while less experienced sewers might want to take the time to read all of the directions and work more carefully.  The patterns are printed full-size (hurray for not having to enlarge them!) on large format (I didn’t measure but I’m guessing about 20×24″) regular paper – so if I were making any up I’d still want to trace them out.  The book has a great project-friendly binding –  the book lays perfectly flat because of the coil binding.  This is a great feature when you really want to work along with a book project rather than just referring back once or twice throughout the project.   I do find that it’s a little less “sitting-on-the-couch-reading” friendly though because of this binding.  Unfortunately, none of the designs themselves (as nice as they are) really appeal to me today, so I won’t be making up any of the projects right away.

Sewing ideas and inspiration

While wandering online, I’ve found some great things that I’d love to make…

Cowl/Funnel neck sweater

From J’adore Vogue – I love the grey sleeveless sweater tunic/dress on the left.  I have something with this similar funnel/cowl neckline – and I find it so comfortable, comforting, and interesting to wear.  I actually found a number of items on a recent shopping trip with this general kind of neckline.  The only problem here will be finding the knitted yardage.  Nice knits that are this heavy are reallllly hard to find.  I actually have a few things that I would like to make, if I can ever find the right fabric! (Like another long cardigan!)  Perhaps this is on the “I just learned to knit and am feeling inspired” list too?

Rebublic top

With more clubwear in mind than comfort, I also loved this cool top from Republic.  While I wouldn’t make it a super-tight mini dress with a tube-top… (that would look stupid on my body!) I really like this almost bib-like front of the top.  It’s just the front, gathered up into a halter neckline.  Very cute.  I could see this working over a spaghetti strap dress instead perhaps – or even something with a halter neckline (though I usually stay away from them, just because of the bra issue!).

The Little Things in Life

While searching for images of a green velvet dress, I came across this image from The Little Things in Life.  Yes, I know it’s a jewelry hanger,  but it’s more just inspiration, rather than aspiration!  The idea behind it could make for a very cool cocktail/evening dress – or even something club-y.  I love finding cool stuff like this that makes me think about possibilities!

You would think that with all of this inspiration I could actually find some time to SEW.

But nope!

Knitting: I finally learnt how to knit!

I’m terribly proud of myself… I finally learnt how to knit partially from YouTube videos, and partially (ok, primarily!) from my mom.  She’s tried to teach me twice before and I just got frustrated and bored with it – largely because it took so long, but after looking at so many great patterns and books, not to mention gorgeous yarns – I finally succumbed and put some attention into it, and have already made a few pieces!

The turning point was very likely finding this fantastic yarn at (of all places) Wal-Mart.  It’s Fab Faux from Bernat– and I picked up two balls in shades of brown (initially thinking of making yarnfalls with them), four in black/grey, and one in purple (I would have picked up more of the purple but that was all they had…)

I also picked up another yarn to ask mum to knit me something for xmas/birthday – like the  lovely blanket she made me last year.

Because it’s so thick, it worked up really quickly – although mum mentioned more than once that because it’s so fuzzy and thick that it wasn’t likely the best yarn to learn with.  Still, working up quickly gave me the gratification I needed to keep at it. (Even though I didn’t have a pattern to follow and ended up getting almost done twice before undoing it and getting halfway before undoing it once … before I finally finished off a final version.)

My first hand-knitted project

My first project – a cowl!  In my garments -to- make postI mentioned the knitter on Etsy who I found very inspiring – the chunkiness of this was definitely something I wouldn’t have thought I’d like until I had seen these examples.

It’s not perfect, but I like it!

Book Review: Big Stitch Knitting

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Not long ago I reviewed another knitting book, Knitting Vintage, and here’s another that I picked up.  I love the idea of big stitch knitting – even though I don’t actually knit… yet!

(Don’t even get me  started on how I need another hobby like I need a hole in the head…)

If any book were to inspire me to take up knitting (without actually having knitting instructions for utter beginners) it would be this book.  Author Becca Smith shows a number of projects (mostly rectangle-based things like shawls, pillow covers, throws, scarves, and bags) using multiple yarns to create lush, textured, wonderfully coloured projects.

Now, if the idea of just knitting has me hesitant – the idea of resting knitting needles the width of bananas and the length of my arm on my lap isn’t too terribly appealing either.  The thought of wrestling with six or seven balls of yarn at a time doesn’t sound too good either come to think of it.

Still – the texture!

The idea of finishing a project in a few hours is appealing as well.  Ah, if only I could knit….

Other than just wishing I could knit – I like to look at knitting books for inspiration for sewing projects.  So many ideas translate nicely when I have access to knitted yardage.  Unfortunately, with the knit itself (that nice big, chunky multi-yarn knit) being the highlight of these projects – it would be hard to convert the projects for sewing without finding big, chunky knitted yardage.   Beyond that, most of the projects are really super simple shapes; there isn’t really a lot here to be translated from knitting to sewing.