Drool Warning! Baby Alpaca Yarn!

Blogged under crochet and knitting,Fiber Fun by Tammy on Monday 11 June 2012 at 6:22 am

While visiting family in Rockledge, Florida, I took another trip to Knit and Stitch in Cocoa Village. It was a Friday versus a Saturday, so I had hoped the place wasn’t as busy and I’d be able to shop without so much chaos, but the store was still jamming. There was a knitting class going on and lots of other yarn shoppers like myself. At least now I have a new strategy when it comes to trying out yarns. I have at least a few projects in mind and then try to find yarn that I can use for those. This time I had picked out a hat pattern by Linda Permann in the July/Aug 2012 issue of Crochet Today.  And I also had planned to make another shawl.

For the hat, I picked out this gorgeous baby Alpaca yarn. It is so, so, so, so soft! The color is blue but with a mix of shades and even flecks of purples here and there. And did I say it is soft? My mom just about passed out when she saw it cost $17 for 100 grams (220 yards), but I pointed out to her that I was going to use it to make something for me (for a change), and I’m worth $17. I guess my previous concerns about yarn costs are mellowing.

I also purchased more Big Trend yarn, which is not new to me any more, but I did pick a different palette. This one has bright colors for a more rainbow affect. I plan to use it to make another ripple shawl, which may be gifted to someone.

Spinning Fiber Is Everywhere

Blogged under Around the Web,Crafty Videos,Fiber Fun by Tammy on Tuesday 29 May 2012 at 11:19 am

As I have been spending a chunk of my summer vacation catching up on craft podcasts and finding new podcasts, I have noticed that spinning fiber is super popular right now. Of course, this may be because knitting, which tends to dominate the world of crafting podcasts, relates to spinning since knitters can make their own yarn from fiber that they buy, which I have learned is referred to “roving.” I sure as heck do not need another craft to spend my time and money on, but I have to admit that I am very curious and spinning looks pretty dang cool.

As I watch video podcasts and listen to audio podcasts that talk about knitting and spinning, I have realized that there is all kinds of terminology involved that I am not familiar with. Many of the folks doing these shows seem to assume I know too, so I went over to YouTube to find some spinning basics. Below is one video that shows how to use a basic drop spindle.

Here are some links to a few other spinning videos that I found helpful:

Hand Spindles – This video shows the different types of hand spindles available and also briefly shows how to use some of them.

Drafting Wool – In this video, Megan LaCore shows how to prepare fiber for spinning.

Finishing Yarn – Again, Megan is back showing how to take the yarn you spun and prepare it so you can knit or crochet with it.

Alpaca Direct – This is really an ad, but there is some good basic info in this about the fiber that I found helpful.

Felting Failure

Blogged under CFEs/Contests,Crafty Products,Fiber Fun by Tammy on Monday 28 May 2012 at 4:16 pm

I posted recently that after frogging a shawl that I was making using purple wool yarn I was playing around with the idea of using the reclaimed yarn for making bags and then felting them. I even did a fair amount of research, though admittedly I did briefly and unsuccessfully try felting a few years ago. This time would be different (I told myself). I watched a few YouTube videos and found instructions on line as well. I even combed through some Ravelry.com archived forum posts. I was set!

First I knitted a swatch. Yes, me swatching! Who would believe it? But I figured I needed to know how much shrinkage to expect. I knitted up a 2 1/4 inch by 6 1/2 inch swatch to experiment on.

Then I found an old pair of jeans, set my washer to the hot setting, and threw in the jeans, swatch, a little baking soda, and some soap. Voila! errr…well…not exactly voila…

Not only is the swatch not felted, though yes a little on the fuzzy side, it actually grew to almost 8 inches long! So I figured I’d give it another go in the washer. I noticed my hot cycle ends with a cold cycle. This time I opted for the warm/warm cycle instead, and to help with the shrinking issue, I dried it as well. And voillllaaaa???

It was a tad fuzzier but still not felted. It was maybe a tiny bit smaller than the expanded version but not much smaller. So I had to attempt one more time. I threw the swatch in with a load of clothes (since the dye did not run at all in previous washings) and also dried it with the same load. And….

It is smaller (2 inches by 6 inches), the fuzz shortened up somewhat, but still no felting is going on! I went back to the web and read more about felting and watched a few more videos, and finally, I found the answer! According to a KnitPicks.com video, you can’t felt super wash wool. I then checked the label and am now banging my head on my desk! I did not see this handy little factoid any place else on-line! Back to square 1 of what to do with a heck of a lot of purple wool yarn!

Yarn Store Trip – Knit and Stitch in Cocoa Village

Blogged under crochet and knitting,Fiber Fun by Tammy on Monday 26 March 2012 at 4:48 pm

I was visiting family in Rockledge, Florida this past weekend, and since I was in town, I thought it might be a good excuse to check out a yarn store I had been curious about that is located in Cocoa Village called Knit and Stitch. Besides the fact that I was just curious, I had a really good excuse for going because I was running out of the Big Trend yarn I was using for shawl number 2. Originally, I bought just two skeins with the idea I was going to make a hat and maybe a scarf, so needless to say, two skeins is not enough for a big shawl!

Granted, I could probably have gotten more of the same yarn from the shop here in town, but I thought I’d at least see if Knit and Stitch had it since I was in the area. Not only did they have it but in the same exact dye lot too, woot!

As a native Floridian, I have not exactly been to tons of yarn shops, so I’m not sure really what to expect, but boy, howdy, this place was awesome! It had yarn, yarn, and more yarn. I mean floor to ceiling, wall to wall, baskets on and under tables, there was yarn all over the place! Luckily, I had a few things keeping me from spending my entire pay check. When we walked in, there was a knitting circle right in the center of the store. Many of the knitters greeted us when we came in, which was very friendly, but it was kind of hard to move around in the store because it was packed with people. Then there was my mom who had come with me. She has knitted and crocheted in the past, but it’s not her thing any more, so she had to keep remarking to me about how expensive the yarn was. Yes, a “Debbie Downer” will help keep you from going too crazy with the yarn spending. Then, finally, there was still my own sticker shock demon that I continue to fight.

I ended up getting two more skeins of the Big Trend to finish my shawl (or at least I hope it’s enough to finish it). Then I just bought a few skeins to taste test. I keep hearing about Merino, which I really don’t know what that is exactly other than it’s wool. So I bought a 50 gram/180 yard cake of Zarina Print Tweed extra fine superwash wool Merino. I can’t see if there is any specific name of the color of yarn on the label. This is from Italy, so some of the label is in Italian. I know this is one little bit of yarn, but I’m hoping it’s enough to make a lace-type scarf. It was on sale, normally $12.50 marked down to $9.95. (Yes, for this tiny little cake of yarn, $10, but it is so cute and soft).

My second experimental splurge is a little 50 gram/170 meter skein of Peter Pan Double Knit 55% nylon and 45% acrylic. I couldn’t find anything on the label that indicated the name of the colorway. This skein was $6.75, and more than likely I will make some baby hats with it.

My yarn strategy was that I would get a few small skeins and see how I liked them. I am clearly still out of my element when it comes to fancy yarn shops, and unless I have a specific project in mind, I’m not ready to pluck down a lot of many for yarn that I don’t have a very specific purpose for. I ended up spending about $40 total, which isn’t too bad, and I received a discount card from Knit and Stitch. For every $10 you spend, they stamp the card. Then once you reach $100 total (not difficult to do in a fabulous place like that), you get 10% off your total purchase, including sale items.

Though the shop felt very knit-centric (everyone there was knitting and they have a knitting cruise scheduled for November), I found the store and everyone in very inviting. I hope to go again on my next visit to the area, this time possibly without mom and hopefully a few less knitting circle people so I can see more of the yarn and not have an extra voice telling me that the yarn is expensive.

Snuggly Buggly Blanket Yarn

Blogged under Charity Crafting,Fiber Fun,Projects in Progress by Tammy on Monday 5 March 2012 at 5:49 am

Technically, my February donation drive is over (since it’s March), but I have a few weeks left before I bring the donated items over to Okeechobee, so I thought I’d try to squeeze in one last baby afghan. During a recent (and unplanned) yarn purchase, I picked up a skein of Bernat Baby Blanket yarn. It was on sale, and I was in the mood to try something new. Let me tell you; this is one hunk of a skein of yarn. It is 10.5 ounces (300 grams) and 258 yards. It is also super chunky weight, so my hope is that I can make a small granny square style baby ghan out of just one skein. I hope…I hope…it will be enough. I’ve learned that sometimes chunky yarn can be deceiving as far as how much you think you have versus how far it will go in a project.

I’m using a size N crochet hook, and the thickness of this yarn took me a little while to get used to. However, I’m getting more comfortable with it, and boy, howdy, I am so falling in love with this yarn. It is so, so, so SOFT! And it is squishy, and well, as we say around here, “It is snuggly buggly.” Yes, it is made in China (yeah, bummer!), and yes, it is 100% polyester, but it’s washable, and I am now a blanket yarn convert.

LYS Trip No. 2

Blogged under Crafty Products,crochet and knitting,Fiber Fun,Yada, Yada, Yada by Tammy on Monday 13 February 2012 at 6:03 am

As promised (to myself), I waited to go back and visit the local yarn store (Yarn It!) after I had used the yarn I bought during my first visit to the store. Before I went, I researched a few crochet projects that I want to make, so this way, I had an idea about the yarn I would need. I have wanted to make myself a shawl to wear around the house when hubby has the AC cranking, and I also found a cute hat pattern (called the Rook Hat which is a free pattern on Ravelry) that required some unusual yarn, so I printed the instructions up for these and brought them with me.

For trip number 2, I felt a little better. At least I had a plan as far as what I was going to do with the yarn; however, I have to admit that I still feel out of my element. First of all, the pricing is hard to get used to, and I’m not saying the cost of the yarn is not worth it. I totally get that there is a world of difference between hand-dyed wool from Peru versus acrylic yarn from Michael’s. And I’m also not saying that the yarn store owner should put stuff on sale because I can only imagine her overhead and want to do what I can to make sure she keeps the doors open.

I’m saying that I’m used to buying the cheap stuff at JoAnn’s dot com when there is a 30% off sale and I have a promotion code for free shipping to boot. Even buying the cheap stuff, I am super frugal and rarely pay full price. It is just in my nature to try get some kind of sale on whatever it is I buy. So when you are used to buying skeins of yarn for $2.50 and you are shopping in a fancy yarn store where the least expensive skeins in the entire store are at best $6 each, well, it takes some mental adjusting.

The other issue that I’m tackling is learning about the different fibers and having a better understanding of them. Wool, for example, is not something you see much of in Florida. Seriously, I have just a few sweaters that I wear maybe one or two days a year, most of which are made from cotton. I have lots of cardigans because these are great for layering, and when you are in buildings where the AC is on full blast, you need those. But when I think of wool, I think of itchy, thick, and well, yucky, suffocating even. Of course, this is not the case for all wool.

I had prepared myself for a large purchase, which meant a large price tag, because I do not have time to drop by the shop that much. With one big project (the shawl) and one small project (the hat), I figured I would get a bunch of yarn that would keep me busy for a few months before I allowed myself another trip. In fact, this month I’m dedicating all my yarn time to making donation items, but March is going to be the “me” month, as in making stuff for me, myself, and I!

Here is the yarn I bought for the hat. Since Celeste does not buy yarn from China (which I think is kind of cool…good for her), she helped me find an alternative to Noro yarn that the pattern calls for. She had some of this worked up in a scarf, and it was GORGEOUS!

Then here is the yarn for the shawl, which, gulp, takes a lot of yarn! I ended up buying some of the same brand and color that I bought last time because I love it. In hind sight, maybe I should have at least gotten a different color, but I’m still attracted to the bright purple and think this will be a beautiful shawl.

Don’t even ask me how much money I spent. Let’s just say a lot. Hopefully, my crochet skills will do justice to my yarn purchase, and in a few months when I have completed these two projects and used up my fancy smancy yarn, I will make trip number 3.

Yarn Shortage

Blogged under Fiber Fun,Projects in Progress by Tammy on Monday 23 January 2012 at 6:25 am

Argh! I thought I was going to be fine with this design, and of course, I am short on the bright pink yarn. It’s called Berrylicious and is from the Vanna’s Choice Baby Yarn collection. Michael’s has about 2 colors from this group, neither of which are Berrylious. So, now what to do? It is 31 inches at its widest points, but I am thinking I need another 5 inches all around, and as you can see from the little bit of bright pink yarn I have left, that probably isn’t going to happen without buying more yarn.

Other than treating myself to the good stuff now and then from my LYS, I had told myself “no more yarn buying.” I have checked Etsy, Ebay, and Ravelry…I just need one more Berrylious skein people!

Crochet Cup Cozy

Blogged under crochet and knitting,Design Ideas,Fiber Fun,Finished Projects,Free Craft Projects by Tammy on Thursday 5 January 2012 at 5:08 pm

Here is another little project that I crocheted as part of a holiday gift, a cup cozy. One of my sisters is getting into hot tea, so for her gift I purchased an assortment of teas from the Teaman (over at Etsy), bought her this funky cup from Pier 1, and then crocheted a cup cozy for it to help her keep her tea warm.

At the time, though I did look around for some patterns, I was in a hurry and could not find any that accommodated the handle, so I decided to just wing it with some left over cotton yarn and double crochet. To secure it around the cup, I made ties on both ends of the crocheted piece.

It turned out okay, but of course since then, I found a great cup cozy tutorial at All About Ami. Instead of a tie, it incorporates a big button, way cute!

My sister was very pleased with the gift, and this is something I plan to probably try again, only make a cozy with a button.

Pleasant Local Yarn Shop Visit

Blogged under crochet and knitting,Fiber Fun by Tammy on Thursday 22 December 2011 at 10:10 am

Not surprisingly, there are not a ton of local yarn shops (LYS) in Florida. Before today, the only other time I actually visited one (and it not just a yarn shop but it was a stitching shop too) was about 15 years ago. I was working 30 plus miles south of where I now live, and this place was nearby where I worked. I went there a few times during my lunch hour.

The LYS I visited yesterday, Yarn It in Port Saint Lucie, opened about a year ago, but it was in downtown Ft. Pierce, an area I try to avoid for a number of reasons; however, a few months ago, the shop moved a little closer to me. It took me a while to find the place because it was not at all where I mentally pictured it, and though it is in a plaza right off US1, it is tricky getting into the plaza because there is no direct entrance. But my persistence paid off, especially after I called a friend who I knew went to the gym near there and had told me about the yarn shop being in the same plaza.

I often hear that some yarn shops can have an attitude (sort like some bead shops). This can be especially true of shops that cater more to knitters than crocheters, but that is not the case at all with Yarn It. The owner, Celeste Briglia, actually knits and crochets. In fact, there were some Crochet Today magazines on the counter, an immediate sign of a crochet friendly shop.

I am not sure exactly what I was expecting. Walls and walls of yarn and dark wood all around maybe? But what I found was an open and airy shop with a specialized selection of unique yarns that I have to admit were kind of over my head. I am used to shopping at big box stores like Michael’s, and you just are not going to find hand-spun yarn at a big box store. Of course, there were lots of other yarn related items, including some vintage books and magazines. But I was there for the yarn.

Since I purchased Intermediate Scarves and Stitches, I needed yarn for the first project. Okay, honestly, I don’t really need yarn. While my stash does not rival many dedicated yarn crafters’, I will say it is plenty healthy. So I will say instead that I wanted some yarn for my first project, and of course, when you go to a yarn shop, heck, you are going to by yarn, no?!

I hope to go back and get some more yarn education and learn more about what she has, but as I said, I felt sort of out of my element. I told Celeste about my project, and she helped me pick out some pretty purple Lambs Pride Super Wash bulky from Brown Sheep Company. It was $6.10 for 110 yards, and I bought two, so that is not too bad considering I’m taking a step up from acrylic.

My eyes also locked onto some way cool looking yarn made in Italy, la lana Asia. It is the swirly pink, blue, purple skeins pictured above. It is bumpy and full of texture, and it probably isn’t the best for a beginning knitter, but I loved it and it bought two skeins with the idea I could make a scarf with it as well. It was $9.20 for 100 grams, and it is made of 60% merino, 9% alpaca, 5% nylon, and 26% acrylic.

I set my skeins on the car seat next to me, and as I was driving home I noticed that the purple wool yarn actually looked good next to the Asia yarn because of the little bits of purple in the swirls, so I have decided to make a loom knit hat with the Asia and that way I will have a matching purple scarf. At least some day I will have a purple scarf since I am very slow at knitting compared to crochet.

I will keep you posted on my progress, and of course, I plan to squeeze in time to visit the yarn shop again. I do not see myself giving up my big box acrylics, but it would be nice to infuse my yarn work with some unique yarns once in awhile.

Tips for Fast Crochet Projects

Blogged under crochet and knitting,Fiber Fun by Tammy on Friday 9 December 2011 at 10:18 am

While I still cannot show off any of the crochet gifts I finished or am in the middle of right now, I have to say that I am thrilled that I am making some progress. Not that long ago, I was sure I would not be able to make anyone anything. One reason, other than finding a little time now, that I am making so much progress is because I picked some super fast projects to do as well as some helpful yarn too. so I thought I’d share some tips for making fast crochet project that make nice gifts too.

First, the yarn…bulky is your best friend. A Knifty Knitter loom and some Wool-Ease Thick and Quick yarn, and you can whip up hats in a matter of a few hours. How much TV time do you spend? Bring your loom along and you will have at least one project done pretty quickly.

If hats are not your thing to make, there are a lot of other small accessory items that work great as small gift ideas:

Fingerless Gloves are great, and there are tons of free patterns on line.

Scarves – Again, get some thick yarn and either large crochet hook or knitting needles, and you will be shocked has fast you can make these. For crochet scarves, I like just using double crochet stitch for something very fast and easy to do while watching TV at night.

Use some inexpensive cotton yarn, make a few wash clothes, tie them with ribbon, and include some soap. Stop by the dollar store for gift baskets which you can fill with the soaps and wash clothes.

And, of course, bags are great to make. You can make market bags, or you can make small tote bags. There are tons of crochet bag patterns on the Lion Brand Yarn site. I am working on a small bag now that I plan to put something I purchased inside, so it kind of works as the wrapping paper too.

For those who are into coffee or ice cream, consider making a cozy. This free pattern from the Crochet Dude can be used to warm up a pint of ice cream or cool down the sides of a hot cup of coffee.

So, yes, we only have a few more weeks, but I think it is possible to make a little something for everyone on my gift list!

« Previous PageNext Page »