The Rocky Coast Cardigan

Over the weekend we really started to see some scary high summer temps, so naturally I cast on a cardigan.

I’ve been an admirer of Alana Dakos (of Never Not Knitting) and Hannah Fettig (of Knitbot) for some time now. Basically anything Hannah Fettig has ever done, I want to knit. I’ve purchased patterns from both women, and one of my sisters is even getting a Hannah Fettig accessory from for Christmas.

The pair of them collaborated to bring us Coastal Knits. I’m actually having buyer’s remorse because I foolishly bought the Rocky Coast Cardigan pdf by itself rather than taking the time to really decide whether I wanted the whole book or not. Turns out I do.

Based on the comments and reviews on Ravelry, I decided to knit a size bigger than I actually require. I’d rather have it too big than too small. It’s a top-down sweater knit in one piece, meaning I won’t have to do any seaming at the sides. I started it on Saturday and after a few silly mistakes (read: not properly reading the instructions), I divided for the sleeves two nights ago and now it’s really cruising.

By now I’m sure my love of cables is totally obvious. I can tell this is going to turn out just beautifully. I love the ecru I chose (in Loyal 10ply). Matt was with me when I picked it out, and he agreed that it would look great on my coloring and be totally versatile.

I also blocked my sisters’ Christmas presents over the weekend. Now I just need to finish and block Mom’s gift. And also knit up everything for my upcoming craft fair appearance. Yikes!

When I finish Rocky Coast, I’m eager to get started on Alana’s new Sprig sweater design. She released the pattern early, and it will appear in her upcoming book. She’s generously allowed people to purchase it now, and then later get the book at the full price minus the cost of this pattern if they chose to buy it in advance. I’m definitely buying the whole book this time. Not making that mistake again!

Welcome to Knitober!

October is out and Knitober is in folks! I hope that all you crafters have been smarter than me about preparing for your Christmas crafting. I realized the other day that it is crunch time. I’ve decided to launch Knits by Emma on January 1st 2014 (to give it a sense of occasion), so between that and all the prezzies I need to make, we have entered Knitober.

It’s been about three months now since I picked up the needles again and I am loving every minute. I’m knitting in front of the TV, on my lunch break at work, and even tucked into bed long after I should have gone to sleep.

I’ve ordered some lovely Malabrigo sock for my mom and sisters’ presents, and later today I’m hitting a few stores to stock up on some new needles and yarn for a secret new project I alluded to in the last post.

Despite having so much to do, I couldn’t help but start a new project this week. My first toy!

It's not a teepee!

It’s not a teepee!

I’ve heard several people claim that toys are their favorite thing to knit. The sound of it, honestly, has never appealed to me. I don’t have kids (yet) and none of my super close friends do either, and knitting toys has seemed to be more about the finished product that enjoyment of the actual process. Boy, was I wrong!

Fiber fill time

Fiber fill time

While trolling on ravelry this week, I became fascinated with Rebecca Danger’s The Big Book of Knitted Monsters. I thought they were so cute and I could just imagine making tons of these funny little guys to add character to our home. Unable to wait for it to be posted out to me, I opted to purchase the ebook. While I was at it, I bought Susan B. Anderson’s Itty Bitty Toys as well, just…for good measure? I’ve heard about Susan as a knitted toy genius, so I definitely wanted to learn from the best.

Two colors for a nice thick body

Two colors for a nice thick body

I read carefully through both ebooks, quickly noticing that I did not have the right needle sizes in my stash to start any of the monsters. In fact, I only have one set of 3.25mm double-pointed needles (dpns), and a too-short circular needle. Today I plan to round out that collection with a few more, but the other night when I was itchy to start something, I went with a project from Itty Bitty instead.

Head and a kindle

Head and a kindle

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kindle. I love that when I’m desperate to read a book, I can download it in seconds. My parents got me this kindle when Matt and I were home in Minnesota for Christmas last year. I promptly went out to the Mall of America to get my new toy a lovely case from Vera Bradley. I also have an old duffel bag from them that I love to keep my knitting in when I bring it with me out and about. It’s great to have tons of books in my handbag at all times all conveniently stored on my little e-reader. However, I will say that if I could have, I would have purchased the actual books in this instance. For knitting, and especially for toys, it would be nice to be able to flip back and forth quickly between pattern pages, and the tips in the beginning chapters. And seeing everything in color would be preferable as well.

Kitchener stitch for the nose

Kitchener stitch for the nose

One thing in the kindle’s favor, though, is that I don’t have to hold it open. Some books don’t sit open nicely for you to just glance at every now and then. My kindle fits lovely on the arm of the couch.

I’ve still been listening to podcasts while knitting, and funnily enough, I happened upon the Never Not Knitting episode where Alana interviews Susan about Itty Bitty! It was so crazy to be in the middle ofΒ  knitting up one of her patterns and listening to her talk about the book at the same time!

Have you guessed what it is yet?

Have you guessed what it is yet?

Late last night after a lovely dinner and a movie date with Matt, I finished up the head. This morning I whipstitched the head onto the body and got started on an arm while Skyping my dad. I have a busy day of errands and yarn shops ahead, but I’ve been dying to blog for days so I wanted to post quick before I go.

I probably shouldn’t have started a toy project when I have so much deadline knitting to do, but I just couldn’t help myself. And I have to say, I’m a convert! I simply LOVE knitting toys. It might even be my favorite thing…go figure!

A handy cable cheat

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have recently become obsessed with the Never Not Knitting podcast by Alana Dakos. When I first searched for knitting podcasts in the itunes store, her latest episode was the first thing I listened to.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been catching up on her older episodes (she’s done over 70) and it’s been amazing getting to know her and hearing her reviews about so much great yarn and patterns. One thing she mentions more than once is how much she hates using cable needles, and I’m sure a lot of you knitters out there can relate.

They’re so small and easily slip out and get lost in the couch or in Alana’s case, between the front seats of the car. I certainly sympathize, but I cannot say I’ve ever had this experience.

When I finally launch my shop and reveal the headbands I’ve been working on, you will all see that I simply LOVE knitting cables. I find them so visually interesting, and I’ve been hooked ever since I first learned to knit them.

I pointed out in my recent Trial and Error post that after a five year hiatus, I initially started knitting again because of all the beautiful things I saw on Etsy. Rather than pay for a set of lovely handmade boot cuffs, I figured that even with my dormant beginner skills, I could probably make them myself.

When I first hit my local Spotlight, the Australian chain craft warehouse, I stocked up on every skein that caught my eye and several sets of needles. All of my old yarn and needles are probably still buried in the closet of my old room at my parents’ house in Minnesota, so it was time to invest in new tools and a new stash. The one thing I forgot to get was a cable needle. Sigh.

But never fear, this is how I came up with this handy cable cheat that I would love to share with all of you. When I started to work with cables in my headbands, I didn’t have a cable needle, so instead I used my thin and seemingly useless circular needle as a substitute.

Circular needle to the rescue!

Circular needle to the rescue!

There are several reasons why this is an amazing cheat. First is that you can slip the stitches all the way onto the rounded plastic bit and LET GO. Yes that’s right, if you need to you can completely let go of the project and leave it right where you are!

Slip stitches to the circular needle

Slip stitches onto the circular needle

The second great thing about this method, is that rather than transferring the stitches back to your straight needle, you can simply push them around to the other side and knit directly off the circular needle.

Knitting from the circular needle

Knitting from the circular needle

Lastly, and probably most obvious, circular needles are much harder to lose to the hungry couch monster (although on occasion it can still happen — ravenous little bugger).

So give this cheat a go and let me know what you think. Is it easier or harder than using a standard cable needle? This little method works great for me, and I certainly don’t see myself wasting money on a cable needle anytime soon.

My strange addiction: Knitting podcasts

Before I dive into the meat of this post, I just wanted to announce that I did eventually get around to knitting the left fingerless mitten in the set I posted about last week. The second one looks a bit better than the first, but they are both so lovely and warm and I love the deep brown color. I’m excited to experiment with other designs in the future, but for now it’s on to other projects!

Brownie fingerless mittens

Brownie fingerless mittens

Over the past week or so, I have developed a strange new addiction: podcasts about knitting. I’m currently reading a book by craft business guru, Kari Chapin, which was recently gifted to me by my lovely and supportive friend Maria. She saw it while out and about and immediately thought of me. In the book (which I will review properly when I’m finished reading it) Kari suggests that podcasts are a great way to reach other crafters and promote your blog or business.

For those of you who haven’t listened to podcasts before, I HIGHLY recommend them. I first looked up a Kari-recommended podcast by Sister Diane of Craftypod. After listening to a few great episodes, I decided to search for knitting-specific podcasts. My favorite at the moment is by Alana of Never Not Knitting.

I cannot stop listening to podcasts. I’m listening on the bus, before I go to sleep, and even on my lunch break at work. Best of all, I’m listening while crafting. It puts me in such an inspired mindset, not to mention gives me dozens of new project ideas.

One thing Alana is working on has lit a fire under me, and I have since taken on my most exciting project yet: The beekeeper’s quilt. A monster project, which will easily take me a year to complete. I bought the pattern for about $5.50 on Ravelry from Tiny Owl Knits. Anyone wanting to take this on should proceed with caution, because as Alana warns: You WILL get addicted.

Pre-stuffed hexipuff

Pre-stuffed hexipuff

The quilt is made up of hundreds of little “hexipuffs” each knit in the round then stuffed. I have made seven squishy little guys so far. The first one I made had to be taken out and restarted three times. There were a few new skills to learn in the process, and I wasn’t used to working with needles this small. But I’m happy to report that I’m getting faster now, and I’m loving my cute little puffs.

Hexipuff awesome blossom

Hexipuff awesome blossom

I’ll keep you abreast of my progress on this massive undertaking. In the meantime I’m still sorting out which products to include on my Etsy shop, as well as figuring out which yarn to knit my headbands with since the yarn I’ve been loving is (to my devastation) not consistently stocked at my local craft store.