Monday, March 31, 2014

The Deets

Tomorrow's April! Crazy, right? Spring is finally rubbing the snowy sleep out of her eyes here, so I have been doing somewhat springy things around the house, some of which I showed you last week. When I'm trapped inside all winter long, I create cluttered areas where I spend all my time. Naturally, the futon and surrounding area is the worst because that's where I knit, grade, watch tv, eat, and generally spend about 75% of my day! The bulk of my clutter is knitting stuff--surprise, surprise--so now it's time to take care of that.

Wednesday, I'm kicking off the Spring Cleaning Knit-Along right here on Bunnies and Bettas. I want you to spring clean with me! Pick up an old work-in-progress or pull some forgotten yarn out of your stash and let's make some things, yeah? Knit or crochet, new or ancient WIP, fresh or stale stash: doesn't matter! Let's just move it right along and clean up around here a little bit!

We'll start Wednesday, April 2nd and wrap it up on Wednesday, April 30th. Drop in or out as you desire. I'll post my KAL progress every Wednesday this month and I encourage you to do the same! Drop links to your blog posts on the comments, chat about your projects there, and use the tag springcleaningkal on Ravelry, Instagram, and Twitter to see everyone else is working on.

Finally, I have lined up some prizes for participants, which I'll give away at the end of the KAL. If you are a vendor of any crafty goods and want to get involved in the giveaway, let me know!

I've been thinking long and hard about what to focus on finishing this month. It's going to be tough to decide. I have two socks that need mates, two sweaters that are half-finished and perfect for spring, two shawls that are more than halfway done, and a tank top that needs straps. Can I do them all in a month? Well, I can try, right? I'll try to decide by Wednesday. :)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Spring Cleaning and Spring Waiting

First things first: I'm hosting a Knit-Along right here beginning April 2nd. I'm calling it the "Spring Cleaning KAL" (crocheting and spinning are also highly encouraged!). I've read so many posts about how many works-in-progress we all have piling up or how we are only knitting from the stash this year that I thought we might need a place to gather and encourage one another in these endeavors for a month. For the entire month of April, pick up your poor, forgotten WIPs or pull out your stash and let's churn out some projects! Sound good? Good! There will be prizes, too. ;) I'll give you all of the details on Monday.

It's been cold and rainy around here. As warm and sunny as my shawl is, it has no power over the weather, unfortunately. :P


Pattern: Damask by Kitman Figueroa
Yarn: SweetGeorgia Yarns Cashluxe Fine in Lemon Curd
Needles: US 6 (and 10.5 for the cast-on)
Project Page

I've been drooling over this pattern for years! I queued it in 2011 and here it is at last. I won a gift certificate a couple of years ago, I believe it was, during one of Very Shannon's KALs. I knew immediately that I wanted luxurious yarn for this wonderfully complex shawl and I got it. Cashmere in a golden color fit for the queen of Damaskos!

It really only looks wonderfully complex. Lace is great that way. You don't have to know how to do anything complicated for the pattern to look complicated. It is all decreases and yarn-overs. The nupps are a pain to purl together, but incredibly easy to do otherwise. I couldn't use the pattern's charts because there were a lot of them scattered throughout the pattern, they used non-standard symbols, and the key to them was on the 17th page. I am lazy and often don't print patterns, so digitally flipping between pages didn't appeal to me in the least. I realize my complaints could easily be remedied with a tiny bit of printing, even if only of the key. :) It was just easier to use the written line-by-line directions.

The pattern provided directions for three sizes. I knit the largest because I love huge shawls. I wish this were even a bit larger, however. That's the problem with bottom-up shawls: you can't make them bigger when you get to the end. :P It probably wouldn't be difficult to make it extra large. You would just cast on 34 extra stitches, working one extra 17-st repeat on each side of the shawl. Should work....

In any case, I love it. I loved working on it and now I can love wearing it!

For more FO Friday posts, go to Tami's Amis!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Scrap Happy

I did some more cleaning (sorting, really), though I didn't intend to. I was looking for some yarn for a colorwork hat the other day, which set me digging through a bag of scraps I have. I think all of us knitters have one of these scrap collections. Mine is little balls of leftover yarn that aren't quite enough to do anything with right this second, but might be enough for details or parts of amigurumi or other small toys. It does come in handy.

I didn't find the yarn I was looking for in that bag, but I did find enough cotton or hemp yarn for some garter stitch washcloths (I've been using one that was given to me obsessively and decided I need many more) and all of these sock yarn scraps.

My friend Ann knits Franken-socks from time to time and I love them! Now that I've dug out some of my own scraps, I'll be counting the days until I have my own Franken-socks! I just don't know whether to wait until I have more scraps or plow ahead with a pair....

Do I stick to color families or pull out random, surprise scraps? Should the second sock have the same colors? Same sequence of colors? So much to think about! I'll be happy just to pull these little guys out from time to time and imagine all the fun socks I'll have some day soon. :)

Eliza is also a spectacular scrap-buster. What do you do or hope to do with your scraps? Maybe you would like to knit a pair of Franken-socks to decrease that stash in a Spring Cleaning KAL with me during April?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring Cleaning

I spent my Sunday in a small flurry of activity trying to do everything I'd procrastinated in doing on my Spring Break. It was a delightfully relaxed Spring Break. :)

I organized thousands of bunny and knitting pictures on my computer at long last. Sub-folders are my friends! I also graded everything I've avoided for the last two weeks...

...and took drastic measures to save John's poor, mysteriously ailing orchid. My other two are doing fine, so I'll see if this helps.

I thought a bit about a blog face-lift, but I just don't have the time or the know-how to do it just yet, so pardon any dust that might rise up if I get ambitious. For the rest of the week, I'm going to carefully plan out my April Spring Cleaning on the knitting front. I mentioned a while ago that I'd love to get a knit-along together for those of us with one too many knitting projects on the needles or maybe a skein too much yarn in the closet. I think I might be ready to roll on that idea next week. We can make it an April-long event! All are invited!

Are you doing any spring cleaning? Want to add some stash-busting or WIP finishing to the list? Stay tuned. ;)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Mittens at Last!

Vilja Mittens

Pattern: LINDEN Mittens by Jane Richmond
Yarn: Knitlob's Lair Louhitar in Vilja
Needles: US 1
Project Page

I received this yarn in a swap of sorts and suddenly realized I don't knit with sport weight yarn very often. I had no idea what do with it! Mittens were the solution, I decided, as Eliza posted some of hergreat finds. Then, Jane Richmond published this mitten pattern and announced a knit-along. I'm in! I've been pining for my own pair of warm mittens or gloves all winter. :P

These are amazing! I fitted them nice and tight, so they will be highly functional mittens and super warm (I hate floppy mittens :P). The only modification I made was to shorten the hand about an inch before the final decreases. I have short fingers.

The yarn is a Finnish yarn that doesn't seem to be available in the States. It's made of 100% Finnish wool and I'm crazy about it! Anyone who loves woolly wool would love it. It's stout and slightly coarse like woolly wool, but also soft and slightly fuzzy. I should have enough left from these mittens for some fingerless mitts now that spring seems to have decided it's going to come around after all.

I'm going to cast on another pair of Linden Mittens this weekend out of cotton fingering yarn. I'm excited to see how they turn out. Then, I'll be set for next winter. :) Or the onset of the next Ice Age. Whatevs.

For more FO Friday posts, visit Tami's Amis!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Spring Socks

A late one. :)

Hermione's Hopscotch Socks

Pattern: Hermione's Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder
Yarn: Hedgehog Fibres Sock in Hopscotch
Needles: US 1
Project Page

I love these socks. The end. Just kidding! I'll tell you why: they were addictive, they were fast, the yarn is so soft, and the color is too fun to set down! The finished socks are super comfy and they fit perfectly.

The only modification I made to the pattern was to try a slanted toe instead of knitting them as written. I've been meaning to test the fit of slanted toes since I read an article somewhere (do you think I can find it anywhere?!) about different toe shapes to fit your foot. My toes are slanty, so my sock toes should be too, right? See my notes for specifics. They fit great! I sometimes find that my big toe gets a bit sore in traditional socks and traditional sock toes because it's longer than the sock. I always worry about getting a hole there. I haven't yet in my hand-knit socks, but I know the day will come. I hope that this shaping will save these socks that inevitable hole since there's more room for my big toe.

I can't wait to knit up all of my sock yarn so I can buy more of this sock yarn. I'm going to treat myself to the dyer's sock club at the end of the year if I keep up with my destashing. I did have a slip up about a week ago and ordered some yarn...but once you see it, I'm sure you'll understand. ;)

Are there any sock modifications you make specifically for your feet? What is your favorite heel? Favorite toe?

For more FO Friday posts, visit Tami's Amis!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


An exciting thing happened Monday: the beginning of the Linden Mittens KAL with Jane Richmond! Why am I so excited about a mitten KAL? Because it's a wonder I still have fingers after this winter, haha. I love knitting mittens, fingerless or otherwise, yet I don't have a pair of warm, functional, fingered, hand-knit mitts or gloves for myself. I tried to steal the ones I made for John, but I made them too suitable for his hands and they are big on me. :P And we won't talk about the Robot mittens. I might finish them. Someday. Maybe.

I was going to wait to cast on until I finished a shawl, but Jane Goodall(!!!) came to town and I thought mittens would be a much more suitable lecture knit than anything else I have on the needles. After a gauge bump, I'm back on track and loving this little fuzzy yellow guy.

I have a plan for two pair: the sport weight you see here in a special wool from Finland and a fingering weight in some striped cotton sock yarn I won for being a fast knitter. ;) I'm not sure how I feel about the particular striping of the fingering yarn or cotton mittens, so those will be an experiment.

Need some mittens? Have some self-striping sport or fingering weight yarn? Join in! You could win some lovely yarn! There are only two weeks, so jump in soon!

For more WIP Wednesday posts, visit Tami's Amis!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Bunny Update

Because I don't tell you about them nearly enough, I thought I'd give you a glimpse of how the buns are doing these days. Sweet Teddy gets a lot of love because a) he lives all by himself and b) we (John, mostly) can swing open his cage door and love on him whenever we want to.

John decided the big buns deserved the same sort of treatment. It was a bit tricky to get into the big buns' set-up (which is good because it also meant it was hard for them to get out of!), so John set up a velociraptor pen that allows us to swing open a door for them to get lots of love whenever anybun likes, too.

Sweetpea doesn't like anyone having easy access to her, she's so skiddish, but she loves the little bit of extra room we've given them (though you wouldn't know it, the way Spike always manages to squish her into a corner for lovin'). She also likes that she can rattle the cage a bit easier without the lid on top. Our little anarchist. :)

The bunnies are all quite happy. For all the photos we take of them, I'm not sure why I don't get them on the blog more often. :P But! At long last, I have joined Instagram! I have previously been thwarted by my affection for Windows, which has been slow on the Instagram front (and still isn't quite there). But I've finally let desperation inform my inventiveness and I'm on Instagram at long last! ;) If you're held back by your Windows devices, let me know. I have tips!

Anyway, I'm on Instagram and there are bunny photos and there will be more bunny photos and knitting photos and out and about photos and other things that people post there if you want to follow along! Oh, and the fish! I'm convincing John that even if he's too busy to post about his fish here, it'll only take him a moment to show some pictures of his lovely angelfish from time to time. If you're there and you want me to follow you, let me know your username in the comments and I'll come find you.

If you don't have Instagram and don't care, no worries. You won't miss much. I'm sure many of the better photos I post over there will find their way over here (especially the knitting and bunny ones and maybe the fish).

And a bonus bunny pic:

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Special Skein

I have a whole pile of finished knits to show you, so whether I'm on top of things enough to write all my blog posts during the week or not, I will be sure to get an FO up on Friday for you! Extended winter has put a damper on my picture taking, so I make no promises about the photos being decent (as you shall see!).

Alexandrite Shawl

Pattern: Blackcurrant Shawl by Veera Välimäki
Yarn: String Theory Hand Dyed Yarn Caper Sock in Alexandrite
Needles: US 10

I received this yarn as a gift from a knitting friend who went on a knitting retreat and came back with bags of yarn. I appreciated it more than I could express when she gave it to me, but now that I've knitted with it...nope, still no words. The yarn is fabulous. You just have to get some for yourself!

I knew I wanted a pattern that would show off the incredible color without hiding it, would use up every inch of yarn, and could be worn close to the skin so I could cuddle with it. Blackcurrant was a check, check, check. Guys, it took me only two days to knit this shawl! It was addicting, interesting, fun, and super simple! I ended with a teeny tiny bit of yarn left, perhaps enough to make a mini sock. Instead of stopping the garter edge as written, I just kept going until I had just enough yarn to bind off. I was worried that the huge garter border would distract from the fun stockinette wedges, but I think it's all nicely balanced. The shape is interesting, too. You can see a picture on the project page. John said, "Batman!" while it was blocking. :)

Do you have a special skein of sock yarn waiting for the perfect pattern? I recommend this one, but I know there are others. Have you found the perfect pattern for that special skein of sock yarn (or any weight)? Share! We all love a little pattern enabling. ;) And yarn enabling while we're at it! Tell us where we can find some special skeins!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Warm Thoughts

I didn't mean to disappear on you last week! When I wasn't knitting like the wind, I was at school. My department is hiring and that means lunches and lectures for us grad students. I finished a few things last week, so I'll share those (and other finished things that have not yet appeared) in the coming weeks.

Goodness! Am I ever ready for spring! I just cast on a spring scarf for John. I think it will take me all of March to knit. I only hope that spring will arrive by then so he can wear it right away.

I'm pretty lazy no matter the time of year, but this extended winter makes me want to get out and do spring things. In the fall, John and I bought a neat planter for the front stoop. I've been trying to decide what to plant in it. Have you ever forced bulbs to bloom? I'm tempted to try that on some tulips and daffodils and perhaps transplant them to the planter when it warms up outside. My desire to plant things isn't helped by the fact that I lost one of my orchids to crown rot and my terrarium perished rather suddenly and mysteriously. :/ I'm in need of some green thumb mojo.

Do you have a garden or planters? What do you grow? If I wanted to grow some herbs for the bunnies this year, would they do well in pots (the herbs, not the bunnies!)? What are you itching to do in the warmer weather? If you've had a lot of warm weather (Australia's been hot!) and are tired of it, go ahead and complain a bit. ;)

For more WIP Wednesday posts, visit Tami's Amis!