The kind you find in a second-hand store

2013-Winner-Facebook-Cover

Big news y’all! I’ve had a busy few days, but on Friday I finished or “won” NaNoWriMo a day early at 50,233 words. My novel isn’t finished yet, but I hit the goal and am feeling proud. The fiancé also succeeded, so we had celebratory brunch with friends this morning.

I’ve had quite a bit on the needles to share. First I am happy to say that I finished my “raspberry beret,” which I wore today at brunch.

This is an awesome free pattern which can be found HERE. I had a few knitting attacks while working on this, which made the process take probably twice as long as it should have. Hint: read the clarification on the Ravelry page before completing. Sigh.

Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin pie anyone?

Thursday night Matt and I went to Thanksgiving dinner at an American bar. I brought the pumpkin pie, which went over very well. We met some cool people and had a DELICIOUS meal.

Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving dinner

On Friday I got in a shipment of yarn I’d ordered to make legwarmers for my sister. She picked out the color herself. It’s Cascade 220 in the Tutu shade. A bit pink for my taste, but I know she’ll love them.

Legwarmers for Rachel

Legwarmers for Rachel

I also finally picked up the last skein to finish off my Rocky Coast Cardigan. I wet-blocked it last night and it’s nearly dry. I had a mini panic thinking it might stretch out, but I laid it out flat in the measurements I wanted, and it seems to be snapping back into place nicely. Can’t wait for it to be dry so I can get a photo in it!

Rocky Coast Cardigan

Rocky Coast Cardigan

I made it out of Loyal 10ply, my favorite 100% wool New Zealand yarn. It comes in some amazing colors. My raspberry beret was also made out of Loyal.

Other than that I’ve been making a gift for someone, so that’s hush hush until it’s finished. Basically my fingers are exhausted! I knit up the legwarmers at lightening speed so I could get them in the package with my family’s Xmas gifts, which heads to the States tomorrow morning!

knits by emma hits the streets!

Picture 8

I’m proud to announce that knits by emma will make its first public appearance at the Smart Street Parties series happening down in Mandurah’s Smart Street Mall.

The series includes four events spread out over the next four months, and I will be showcasing at the January and February Suitcase Markets next year. I will fill a suitcase of beautiful knits to sell and display. 1 suitcase=1 stall. It will literally be a trunk show!

Check out their blog for more information. The Twilight Markets will take place on Fridays from 5-9pm on November 8th, December 6th, January 17th and Valentine’s Day.

I’ll post more info as it gets closer to the date. If you’re a Perth-based crafter looking to participate, I encourage you to apply quick as places are limited!

The little tweaks keep crafting fun!

Hi readers! It’s the Monday night of a three-day weekend and I have to say I’m feeling refreshed and rejuvenated after a good weekend of fun, friends, quality time with my man, and of course plenty of knitting.

A new cable, a new copper beauty

A new cable, a new copper beauty

I finished this new headband design for the shop in a beautiful copper shade, and wore one of my other headbands out on Saturday night for a bit of casual promotion while catching up with mates. Since it picked up a hint of “pub” smell, I had a great excuse to test the yarn for machine wash-ability. It came out of the machine completely intact and even softer than it went in!

I also played around with some ideas for an upcoming craft blogging event in which I have been kindly invited to participate (won’t give too much away just yet).

Today after a good gym session I spent most of the day just adding potential patterns to my Ravelry queue. I must have been living under a rock because I haven’t really gotten into the site until the last month or so. The long weekend gave me the time to actually browse through patterns properly. Any knitters not already on the site should join immediately. It’s such a great source for patterns, advice, ideas, yarn reviews and to see what other knitters are up to.

I was keen to try something a bit more fun this evening, so I landed on the Kimono Slippers. This was a great, simple little project that I could tell would be super quick and give me a great chance to dip into some stash yarn. I ended up using Panda Tempo 100% acrylic (I’m not exactly a fiber snob, and this yarn happens to be very pretty and soft) which I bought on sale for $3/skein some time ago.

Kimono Slipper prior to stitching up

Kimono Slipper prior to stitching up

As you can see, these slippers are worked flat, which is great for a quick project. I didn’t bother with gauge or even using the recommended needle size. I just went for it and made sure to sew it up well.

One down, one to go

One down, one to go

I finished one slipper tonight while Matt kindly cooked up our steak dinner. I was in the knitting zone. After dinner I sewed up the edges according to the instructions. I think this one is actually meant to be the left slipper, but it feels more comfortable on my right foot, so I’ve just gone with that. I was ready for a break, so I resolved to make its partner later in the week.

However after leaving it be for about 10 minutes, I decided it just wasn’t right. It needed a bit of an embellishment before I’d really be satisfied with it. And so…

Garter stitch strap with button hole to the rescue!

Garter stitch strap with button hole to the rescue!

I thought it would make a nice touch to knit up a quick garter stitch strap and add a button to make it a bit more exciting. Matt agrees that it looks heaps better, and I’m pretty happy with it too. The strap is also functional, as it’ll keep my foot from slipping out. It’s great to take the framework of an existing pattern and spruce it up using your own knowledge. This is definitely one of my favorite things about crafting.

I made the smallest size as my feet aren’t all that big, but I could maybe have gone medium. In any event this slipper is easy to “try on” while you’re stitching it up to ensure it will fit. I still have plenty of yarn on the skein as well, so hopefully I can get a second slipper out of it without having to break into another.

Booty from below

Booty from below

These acrylic slippers are great for the Australian climate, since they protect my bare feet from the chilly floors, but also won’t make me overheat in the warmer months. If you want something really cozy, I’d go for wool.

For the strap, I cast on 6 stitches, working a garter stitch pattern (knitting every row) and creating a button hole three stitches wide a few rows before the end (there are heaps of great buttonhole tutorials out there, it can be tricky the first few times). My advice for this whole project (including the strap) is to slip the first stitch of every row (knitwise or purlwise appropriately) to keep the edges nice and clean.

I encourage everyone to take chances in your crafting. You never know what sort of touch ups might just add a little personal flair to your project. Plus it’s great to use extra supplies that are just lying around your craft space. I have a whole bag of buttons just waiting for opportunities like this.

What to do when crafting gets you down

Picture this: You’re home after a long day, compounded with the fact that it’s been a long week and it’s not even Friday yet. You can’t wait to get in PJs and settle into some warm and fuzzy crafty goodness. Before long, nothing is working out the way you planned. You become frustrated, tired, and just plain over it. What do you do? You don’t want to waste this prime opportunity to be creative, but nothing is going right.

This was me last night my friends. I wanted to knit. In fact, I’d been longing to knit all day. I still need to pump out a few headband samples so I can get them on models and take photos. There is one design that I started the other day, but ended up ripping out when it proved a bit thin. Last night I started over using the same pattern, but on slightly larger needles. This left gaping holes where the cabling occurred, so I produced a heavy sigh and ripped out to start over.

Next I decided to take a break from that design and make something new. I have a few headbands floating around in my mind, but I have yet to actually sit down and work out a stitch count. I must have tried to work out about three different patterns to no avail. I was much too frustrated to take the time and work it out properly.

My fiancé could hear me getting frustrated with every dramatic ripping out of my projects. He prodded, asking what was wrong and if there was anything he could do. He was kind enough to spare me the logical suggestion of just setting down my work and taking a breather.

It was getting late, so eventually I had to rip out yet again and go bring the laundry in off the clothesline and cook dinner. I was feeling depressed, so I let him keep playing video games, rather than asking for help in the kitchen. Normally I love cooking together. It gives us a great chance to catch up on our days and it makes the process go faster when we’re really not in the mood to be stuck in the kitchen. But at that point, I just needed some time to myself to regroup.

After the quiches were safely in the oven, I came back into the living room to try one more option. This was the original design from the other day, with an extra cable. I thought these extra stitches on the original smaller needles would make it wide enough without creating gaps when stretched over a person’s head. So I did one (almost) final cast on and got to work.

Amazingly, the short pause was enough to keep me sane. Even when I had done a few rows of only 22 stitches when I needed 23, I had peace of mind, and dutifully ripped out and cast on again. This time it was project success!

I think that is what gets me down sometimes during frustrating knitting sessions. I don’t mind the ripping out and starting over, it’s the cast on that makes me insane. Especially a provisional cast on. I ended up needing to get out new provisional yarn after overworking my original crochet chain in the myriad other cast ons throughout the evening. (A provisional cast on knits into a crochet chain to create “live” stitches making it cleaner to graft the two ends together when a project is finished. It works great with headbands and infinity scarves or cowls.)

Now the headband is looking even better than I could have imagined. I still wish I could have finished it last night, but I’m glad that I took a break and got perspective rather than giving up completely.

So I say when crafting, writing or general creating has you banging your head against the wall, don’t give up. Just take a short break and come back with a clear mind. Last night I considered just giving up and watching TV or working on hexipuffs instead, but I knew I wanted to make progress on my headbands.

As a writer, I know I should be applying this same strategy. Lately I haven’t been in the mood to devote the necessary energy to my fiction writing. But I really just need to sit down and get to it, taking pause when I really need it, and coming back revitalized.

For all you creators out there, I would love to hear your stories of when you got stuck and how you dealt with it. With so little precious time for being creative amidst life’s many challenges and demands, how do you find peace and time for your activity of choice? How do you find your flow?

If at first you don’t succeed, just go to bed

There are two types of people in this world: morning people, and night people.

If you ask most people, I’m sure they would say, “Oh, I’m not a morning person.” To this statement, many nod in recognition, declaring war on anyone and anything that would deprive them of a little extra shut-eye in the early AM hours.

Then there are people like me, who basically stop functioning around 10:30pm (sometimes earlier). One reason for this is that I am accustomed to getting up early to fit in my workout before I head the office, usually seated at my desk by 8 o’clock. Another is that I am a slave to the sun. Even on weekend mornings, the blaring light through my bedroom curtains tells me it’s time to get up by 7:15 at the latest.

That being said, I am also at my most clear-minded and productive between about 7:15 and 10am. Fortunately for my employer, this mostly falls while I’m at work. Unfortunately for my knitting, my free time usually lands in the late evenings.

Last night I fell prey to my own stubbornness, as 11pm came and went while I refused to set down my knitting. I reached the row that I had deemed would contain two buttonholes. Now, I’ve learned to do buttonholes in the past, but I have not applied them much in my own knitting, and that fact combined with the late hour was a recipe for disaster.

This was a beautiful cream merino headband, and the third I had made this weekend as samples for my knits by emma line. Before I go any further I just want to say I have found yarn love. I have heard others express love for yarn, but I had yet to truly experience it myself. For my line of headbands, I will be using exclusively Australian 100% chunky merino by Heirloom. The best part is it’s apparently machine washable (though I still need to test them). Here’s a little preview for you, lovely blog readers.

New headbands in Moss and Slate

New headbands in Moss and Slate

Last night I just couldn’t seem to calculate the spacing and number of seams for my buttonholes. I don’t know what was with me, but it was as if I was too sleepy and frustrated to get it right. Every time I failed to make them look as perfect as I wanted, I ripped back about 4 or 5 rows, re-knit to my place, and tried again. (Thankfully my beautiful Australian merino is so durable, that there is no visible evidence of how much I reworked the final section of this headband.)

Eventually my poor fiancé begged me to give up and resume in the morning. By the time he’d protested for the third time, I conceded it was time to throw in the towel and go to sleep. All day at work I itched to get home and try again. This afternoon I got it on the first try, and proceeded to “try on” my knitting in front of the mirror.

After all of that effort, heartache and lost sleep…I like it better without the buttons! I ended up ripping back AGAIN and finishing it off with a mattress stitch. I will probably try it with a provisional cast on and kitchener next time just to see which way looks better for the pattern. There’s a little sneak peak of the finished product in my instagram over on the sidebar, for anyone who wants to check it out. It’s amazing how such a simple headband can cause so many problems. Thankfully I love the end result!