A Chance to Win…

I don’t know exactly what it is about late spring and early summer, but I always decide I need to knit a few washcloths. When I found myself finished with all but one major project this week and the one project I had was not super travel friendly and my kids wanted to hit a local park to go biking after I’d already mowed the lawn and had to sit out the activity, I thought I should just go ahead and sneak in a quick wash cloth. Perfect, right?!

I’d caught wind of the Knitter’s Pride Spring Home Decor KAL/CAL and it was just the ticket to motivate me. I grabbed the new free pattern from Stefanie from over at Handmade by Stefanie, the Spa-Riffic Wash Cloth and got to work.

I did share these photos earlier in the week, but I thought Id’ share with the full story today because I just couldn’t believe how fast this knit up.

This was my quick cast-on before we left home…

And this was just about an hour and a half at the park with the kids…

And by the evening I was done.

One more photo of the finished wash cloth? Of course!

It’s awesome! It’s really large — I did an extra couple repeats just to use up the yarn I had, so it’s 11 x 11inches. It’s totally reversible, too, so I think this pattern would be awesome for wash cloths and hand towels if you just adjust sizing to your preference.

For those interested, the Knitter’s Pride Home Decor KAL/CAL runs through June 30th — pop over here to the Knitter’s Pride blog for more information on how to participate. They’ve got some pretty sweet prizes up for grabs for participants including a set of the same interchangeable needles I used for my wash cloth — the Royale Special Interchangeable Set — and a couple super awesome goodies. Definitely take a little time to check it out if you’re so inclined and maybe knit yourself your spring/summer wash cloths and maybe even win a prize doing it!

For When You Need A Little Something Extra

This is the time of year when we start to think about and stock up on stocking stuffers. Not necessarily actually destined for stockings, these are little extras that you can pop into a package when you do a swap with a friend or can round out a secret santa situation or maybe just help you put together a little goodie bag if you have a crafternoon with a friend.  A while back I got a few items Knitter’s Pride and as I’ve been testing them out and getting to know them, I was wondering what would be the best way to share them with you when it dawned on me that they would make perfect “extras” in these type of situations. So today, I get to share a couple ‘little something extra’ ideas with you — what fun!

First of all, check out this Circular Needle Protector.

img_5169It’s so handy!

img_5170You just pop the needles in through the topper and the very lightweight metal tube protects your needles. Not only does it protect your needle tips & connectors, it also protects your project bags (and your person!) from getting poked as well when your projects are in transit.

img_5171These protectors come in packs of three that you could easily break up — maybe keep one for you and share the other two with friends? Perfect!

For anyone who is into sock knitting, perhaps trying out some 9″ mini circulars would be a fun adventure.

img_5172I really love my DPNs, but every now and then it’s fun to try something different. These Knitter’s Pride Nova Platina mini-circs are just the perfect ‘something different’. The needle tips and feel I already know & love in my Nova Platina DPNs, but in a speedy little 9″ circ! I go back and forth every few years with the mini-circs. They always take a little while to get used to, but they are fun and very, very quick for socks once you get going. It’s easy enough to gather intel regarding your knitting buddy’s most used knitting needle size for sock knitting, but a US 1 for fingering or US 3 for sport weight are usually pretty good guesses.

And finally, who couldn’t use a nice, good sized notions bag?

img_5173These come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors and are classic looking and very well-made. Especially when I’m traveling or on-the-go, this type of bag is a must-have. A place where I can tuck a small notebook, pen & pencil, a lotion bar and any other general notions I might need is just essential and this is such a pretty option. This version is from the “Reverie” collection and is the medium size.

Of course these are just three ideas for ‘extras.’ Stitch markers are a great go-to — there are just unlimited option for where to get them and I’ve had tremendous luck trying out any number of indie makers. Lotion bars from Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe or Love + Leche. An extra repair hook will never not be used and appreciated. If you’re looking to be a little more frugal, what about winding your extra yarns into mini-skeins? Now is the time to stock up! If you’re like me, those swaps and trades always sneak up on you and it pays to have those little extra on hand and ready to go!

Enjoying the Sunshine & Finding Peace

We had a beautiful weekend this past weekend. It was pushing 70°F both Saturday and Sunday and with rain a a cool down headed our way this week, it was the perfect time to clean up the yard. On Saturday, we worked. I cleaned out gutters while the kids raked leaves. I tend to rate cleaning gutters in the realm of dealing with toilet malfunctions on the disgusting meter, but slopping the leaves and general sludge is so much less awful when it’s warm & sunny out and the water from the hose doesn’t quite feel so cold.

img_5130And it helps that the daisies and echinacea and snapdragons are still blooming in my yard, too.

I rounded things out by starting to tidy up our “Boat House” (a fancy way of saying the shed where we store our boats [and the lawnmower, and other random odds and ends]). Since my hubby sometimes takes the kiddos out there to read and enjoy cocoa and the fire in the winter, I try to make sure it’s ready and comfortable for these events.

I’ll admit that after all the up and down on the ladder and having lifted the ladder all around the house, I was a little tired and sore. I managed to somehow pull something in my shoulder walking the dog earlier in the week and I think sometimes favoring an injury like that taxes your body more than the injury itself. I rested a bit and did some cleaning inside the house. And then I felt as though I’d sufficiently earned some time with my spindle.

img_5076This is a project I started about a year ago and largely ignored most of those twelve months. I’ve been picking it up here and there though and I had just an ounce or two left to tackle. And that’s just what I did. The spindle was seriously overloaded and not working all too well at the end, but I got the last little bits of fiber on it. I’m planning to wind it and the bobbin I wound off previously into a center-pull ball and then create a nice thick and thin 2-ply yarn with it.

Our work finished, on Sunday we played.

img_5079We started the day off with a beautiful hike. Oh, how I love the long shadows of this time of year!

img_5119And our hike ended at a playground for the kids. Mr. Knitting Sarah edited some photos he’d taken with his phone and I did some spindle spinning in the beautiful warmth of the sunshine. After about 30 minutes my husband turned to me and said, “Gah! I can feel myself getting sunburned!” And I knew it was time to head out.

We got home and had an early lunch. And then I did some spinning on my Three Waters Farm ‘Stand of Trees’ on Finn.

img_5121Oh how I love these blues! My husband’s been working some long hours lately so he was interested in a fair bit of relaxing. I took full advantage and spun my little heart out.

And when I started to get a little tired and my back got sore…

img_5125I switched over to knit a few stitches on my current sock WIP. The yarn is from last year’s String Theory Colorworks Sock Club and it was the perfect opportunity to play around with my new Knitter’s Pride 9″ circular needles. I really love my Nova Platina DPNs, so trying out the 9″ Nova Platina circs seemed like a logical step. I will write up a full report on those soon, I promise.

Monday morning I awoke and decided it was high time to pick my handspun Featherweight Cardigan up again…

img_5128I’m within about an inch of the ribbing on the sleeves and then just the neckband is left. I’m sure that once the stitches are picked up it will fly.

It was a peaceful, productive weekend followed by a peaceful and productive Monday. And today… while I know there is something very big happening out there in the big world (something that I attended to last week), today I hope we can enjoy more of the same. I hope we all have a peaceful and productive day.

Like a Freight Train

Life truly does keep moving on and on… like a freight train. Doesn’t it? And now we’re so deeply entrenched in the “must soak up as much sun and nice weather as possible” mode that being inside during the day for stretches of time beyond school & rainy days is a rarity. The crispness of the morning air is an ever-present reminder that winter is on its way and we have much to do before it arrives, so balancing indoor tasks and outdoor fun (and chores) is a very delicate dance. We’re muddling through, though, as we always do.

Despite being a little late to the game, last week we made our way to the Wade House for their Civil War Reenactment weekend. We actually spent two pretty full days there — Friday with their “school day” and Saturday at the actual reenactment event. The school day is really cool and I’m so thankful we were allowed to sign up even though I called just a couple days before. They break you up into groups of 20-30 students and you move through stations that highlight different aspects of the war.

img_4487You hear Abe Lincoln talk…

img_4488Get to hear some period music… And a bunch of other very informative things. Our kiddos are at the perfect age to soak up the info in this type of environment and it so enriched when we went back on Saturday. We really had two gorgeous days for it and I’m so glad the kiddos got to experience this incredible event.

It does seem that autumn is more or less in full swing here and we’ve been spending lots of time outside, soaking up all the wonderfulness that is the season. We took a wonderful meandering hike yesterday…

img_4531And there were all sort of signs of the season.

img_4690Trails littered with fallen leaves…

img_4693Chilly woolly bears…

img_4539And those moody, end of summer/beginning of autumn colors.

img_4710My hubby created a nature checklist for the kids to keep them engaged and help point out some seasonal changes and it made for a pretty wonderful morning. Mr Knitting Sarah was also kind enough to help out with taking some FO photos, too, so those will be coming soon — let’s all say three cheers for his help! We had a mid-morning picnic and then made our way back home for the afternoon. Unfortunately my hubby seems to be catching the upper respiratory situation (which we now assume was likely pneumonia) that I dealt with over the last 6 weeks, so had a chillaxed afternoon.

I was able to work on my Three Waters Farm Summer’s End singles…

img_4717And finish them up…

img_4718I love that this spinning project has a totally different mood depending on where you are in it.  I plan to chain ply this and I’m really excited to see the results.

I also managed to buckle down and get some Spinzilla prep done.

605c2055-7d1e-4ebe-9b21-9cdc43f8776aPardon the plastic baggies — they aren’t pretty, but they are helping me keep things in order for the busy week ahead. I do have a couple more braids I hope to prep — whether I get to them for Spinzilla or not is kind of a moot point since they are next up on my list anyway.

Of course, having finished up two knitting project over the last few days there was also some casting-on that happened…

img_4722A simple vanilla String Theory Colorworks stripey sock using my new Knitter’s Pride Nova Platina 9″ circs to fulfill my need for mindless sock knitting.

And…

img_4721A colorwork hat.

Having written all this, I’m beginning to wonder if it isn’t life that is moving along like a freight train. I always tend to look at it this way, but I make the choices that keep me this busy, don’t I? As all the beautiful scenery moves by step-by-step on our hikes, as I truck through project after project and school subject after school subject, perhaps, just perhaps, it’s me that’s moving through life like that big ‘ol freight train. Either way, I’ve got brownies coming out of the oven and math lessons to correct and maybe some stitches to sneak in here or there. It doesn’t look like I’ll be slowing down any time soon.

In Review: Knitter’s Pride Royale Needle Set

I’ve tried my share of interchangeable needle sets and yet I am always excited to try a new set. I just love how each different kind of needle has a unique feel in my hands as well as different lengths, tips, etc. And while it’s true that any type of knitting needles will get the job done, I find it pretty awesome that we have so many options from which to choose and narrow down our own personal preferences.

When I started out, I really only used bamboo or birch needles. And then I slowly started to switch over to metal & shortly after I made the leap into interchangeables. For any knitter that knits regularly and uses circular needles regularly, an interchangeable set is a great idea. For new knitters, needles are a constant expense that can really start to add up when you realize that there aren’t just a lot of sizes, but a lot of lengths of needles, too — and each pattern you create may call for any combination of those two. Interchangeable sets automatically give you a wide range of those options and that can save you money in the long run not to mention headaches in trying to remember which needles you’ve got as you select your next project.

As I said, the options available when selecting interchangeable sets are pretty wide ranging. You can get bamboo, metal, metal tips with carbon fiber shafts, brass plated with chrome — there really is ample opportunity to find exactly the right needle for you. The new Knitter’s Pride Royale Special Interchangeable Needle Set is indeed a special set. This set of needles combines birch shafts with metal tips that are very similar to (if not the same as) their cousins, the rightfully lauded Karbonz needles.

img_4486You can see those tips right here in a project I was working over the weekend. I’m a big fan of these tips — they are a good balance of sharp, but not so sharp you split your yarn as you knit. The birch shafts are a little more substantial than the Karbonz and even though they are perfectly smooth and painted with lovely colors, you can feel that hint of wood grain. As someone who started with wooden needles and moved into metal, this is a detail I really love.

img_4484As I mentioned, they are painted in some really lovely, subdued hues (pardon the size 6s that are missing — they were in my project!).

img_4483And let’s not forget their adorable case.

Now the “special” part of the Royale Special Interchangeable Needle Set is that the needles are just 4″ long. Unlike the regular interchangeable set, this one is designed specifically to let you create 16″ needles. If you knits hats this is essential, so that’s a big deal! This set comes with needles sizes 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 and two 16″ cables. Because the sets with longer shafts are not capable of the 16″ set-up, they come with a bigger selection of cables — it’s a simple trade-off. I’ve found, though, that my Karbonz cables work just fine with this set of Royale needles, but as I’m a little low on 24″ & 32″ cables for these sets (let’s not talk about what might be hibernating with projects), so there’s a good chance that at some point I’ll pop over & pick up some extra cables. They are really not expensive (at the time of this post they are listed at $2.50/cable) and there’s the added bonus that Knitter’s Pride is now color-coding their cables which will make them extra easy to sort and use.

You know, I’ve been using Knitter’s Pride interchangeable sets for a few years now and while I have other brand sets at my disposal, I definitely find myself reaching for my Knitter’s Pride sets more and more often. They’ve become a brand that I know & trust, one that lasts and really is a great value. The addition of this Royale set is really such a treat. In fact…

img_4518I’ve had them less than two weeks and they are already in their second project. With the options I have here, that little fact proves this review is definitely a rave!

In Review: Knitter’s Pride Knit Blockers

I have a confession to make today. I am an impatient blocker. In fact, I may be the impatient blocker. Like swatching though, blocking is one of those necessary evils for creating beautiful handknits. Sure, I block my knitted items, but I will do anything to make the blocking process go as quickly as possible.  You and I both know it’s pretty boring. Painfully boring. And it always takes at least three times longer than you anticipate. I really kind of hate blocking wires too because –let’s be honest — is there anything slower than installing blocking wires? I’m pretty sure there isn’t. Of course, a million T-pins isn’t much faster. But alas, as knitters we are kind of stuck there, aren’t we?

Well, many moons ago I promised you I’d tell you about a little something special…knit blockersRemember these?

These little white paddles are Knitter’s Pride Knit Blockers. I got them in September and have used them on a few projects now and I just have to say… I love them. Those little paddles are actually — get this — they’re actually pins!

knitblockers3Where I used to have to take the time to place 5 or 6 individual pins, now I plunk down one of the large paddles and I’m done. How could I not love that?

The paddles are made a of rigid plastic & include little anchor holes which allow you to adjust and maintain tension while your handknits dry. The pins are rust resistant stainless steel and — be warned — they are very sharp!

knitblockers2They come in a nice little storage box which contain 12 blockers with 8 pins (the larger paddles) and 8 blockers with 4 pins, so you can easily block a variety of shapes. I’ve found that I can even block multiple projects at once — a huge bonus, especially around the holidays when there is always the potential for oodles of gift knitting happening.

knitblockersIn the time it used to take me to pin this section out, I had the whole 84″ scarf done. I’m not kidding or exaggerating. I found the paddles held a suitable tension on their own and held the edge of my scarf very nicely throughout the blocking process (and this photo makes the edge look crooked, but I swear it’s the angle of the photo, not the scarf!). This is one tool that as soon as I saw it, I knew it was for me. When I got to actually use it, that assumption was not only confirmed, but I discovered just how easy blocking could be. This impatient blocker is one happy camper — I’m so happy these are a part of my toolkit!