A+ for service

Of late I have had the pleasure of dealing with Quince and Co‘s customer service rep. I ordered a sweater’s worth of Puffin yarn in the Twig shade a few weeks ago, and while I’d received a confirmation email when I placed the order, I never got a shipping notification.

I emailed the ladies at Q&C, and not only did they confirm that it had indeed shipped, I got a personal message saying they had tracked it down and my package had already reached Australia! I was given the tracking number and an apology.

Honestly I wasn’t too worried about my yarn arriving quickly. Ordering things from my homeland usually takes time. I just wanted to make sure my shade wasn’t back-ordered or something. But as luck would have it, my package came Tuesday, soon after our correspondence. I was absolutely thrilled.

Puffin in Twig

Puffin in Twig

I’ve been dying to try Q&C, as mentioned in previous blog posts. I’m very much looking forward to making several of the new designs that have come out featuring Q&C Owl, which is a worsted weight yarn (50% wool, 50% alpaca) with a lovely halo to it.

But I’ve also had my eye on Kate Davies‘ very popular Owls sweater pattern for quite some time now. It suits my personality completely, and I needed the perfect chunky/bulky weight yarn to go with the pattern. I’ve never knit with a single-ply bulky yarn before, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

I hemmed and hawed over color choice, finally settling on Twig since I wanted the owl design, rather than the color, to be the “hero” of the piece. Turns out my decision was a good one.

Tonight I did a circular gauge swatch (Hannah Fettig has just released a great little guide to doing so on Knitbot), and soaked it to see how it came out. I didn’t get perfect row gauge, but my stitch gauge was right on, and I’m confident that I can make any necessary adjustments.

photo 4

Swatchya doing?

The yarn doesn’t retain much water, making it very quick-drying. What was already soft and ever-so-slightly fuzzy material is drying beautifully as a swatch. I couldn’t help but rub it against my check and implore Matt to do the same. It’s 100% American wool and knits up with beautiful stitch definition.

Knitting up nicely

Knitting up nicely

Back to my excellent customer service experience…I wrote back my thanks and appreciation. In response, I was told that oh by the way, did I know that Suzy Hausfrau sells Q&C yarns out of Canberra? Um, NO! I didn’t. But now I’ve got a great new yarn resource within Australia! How exciting. Suzy offers free shipping within Oz, as well as 10% off purchases over $75! What could be better?

In an age when we get pretty much anything at the click of a button, it’s such a great feeling when a company goes above and beyond to help you out. Bravo Q&C, I’m in love!

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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!

So-called “selfish” knitting

DISCLAIMER: I disagree that knitting for yourself is, in any way, selfish.

NaNoWriMo ends in 10 days, which has got Matt and I both a little frantic. Though that’s probably also due to lack of a good night’s sleep in over a month.

Even so, I am using precious writing energy juices to challenge this idea of “selfish knitting” that seems to be cropping up everywhere. I’m not sure how it started, but I’ve heard about it both on The Knitmore Girls and Knit Knit Cafe. From what I remember, it sounds like the original idea was proposed as a “good” thing. As in, we should take the time to do some “selfish knitting” during the crazy holiday season. Both the Knitmores and Abby of KKC found this term to be offensive, and so do I.

Last night I finally finished my mom’s Christmas present, which was the last of the items I’m making for the holidays. Once they’ve opened them, I promise to post photos, but for now it must remain a surprise for my parents and sisters. It was a relief to finish it, as it had taken me longer than expected, and I felt an overwhelming urge to immediately cast on something for myself.

Listening to Abby get so worked up today made me feel inclined to share my thoughts on the matter. It takes time and money to finish a knitted item. I love making gifts for other people, but it can also get exhausting, often because I’m the kind of person to put a lot of pressure on myself. Many experienced knitters stop knitting for others, knowing that more often than not gifts that have taken hours to make will not be properly appreciated or cared for.

I think that’s part of why I’m enjoying my Rock Coast cardigan so much. I’ve run out of yarn at the moment, so I need to wait until the weekend to stock up and get back to it, but I’ve finished the body and one sleeve.

Rocky Coast Cardigan in progress

Rocky Coast Cardigan in progress

Last night I did a little writing, and then wound up a skein of Malabrigo sock in the Solis colorway, to be combined with my already wound Ivy ball to create a Daybreak shawl for myself.

For my Daybreak

For my Daybreak

What I’ve realized in the process of making so many items for others lately (with many projects for friends and one for my sister still on order), is that I don’t mind as long as I simultaneously have a project on the needles for myself that I really enjoy.

I read this article today (23 things women should stop doing), and I think this all ties into the same thing. Why is it that when women do something for themselves, it’s considered selfish?

It’s not even a men vs. women thing, it’s a society vs. women thing. We perpetuate this idea that women should be selfless all of the time, conditioning which starts practically from birth. “Boys will be boys” aka “boys can do whatever they like all of the time with no regard for consequences” is a terrible cliché.

I say do things for yourself, whether it’s crafting, taking time to spend on your own, or just a bit of R&R, YOU ARE NOT SELFISH, you’re human and it’s healthy.

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!

Attack of the yarn monster

Lately I’ve been listening to The Knitmore Girls podcast. They are a mother-daughter team who post a new episode every week. There are around 250 episodes to date, so it’s been fun slowly catching up on years of knitting stories with them. I’m still listening to podcasts to and from work, on my lunch break, and sometimes while I knit in the evenings. Gigi and Jasmin break their episodes into familiar segments, and my favorite is When knitting attacks!

It’s great to hear about the struggles of other knitters. I find I learn a lot from segments like these in this and in other podcasts. It’s nice to know even the best knitters run into trouble just like the rest of us. Plus there’s the small mercy that this horror isn’t currently befalling you.

I was victim of a knit attack last night, but first I’ll set the scene for you. Yesterday afternoon my four lovely skeins of Malabrigo sock finally came in the mail at the office and I was THRILLED. (I say “finally,” when in reality it only took a week.) Purlwise even included a gorgeous little sample of Cascade silk in a lovely orange-peachy color. I have to say I was tickled.

When I got home I finished the hexipuff I’d been working on during the bus ride. Matt and I heated up leftovers from the night before and then I pulled out my beautiful skeins to admire and show him. We agreed on a favorite, and I resolved to wind up each ball before finishing Harold.

Harold just needs a face!

Harold just needs a face!

Little did I know I wouldn’t get past the first skein. I carefully removed the string and tag holding it together and located the end. My plan was to untwist the skein and hang it from my arm as I quickly balled it up.

Well that escalated quickly

Well that escalated quickly

I swear, within SECONDS, it was a crazy tangled mess. Plenty of it was hanging dutifully from my arm, but mostly it just went EVERYWHERE. I couldn’t believe it. Yet I somehow remained calm, mesmerized by my attraction to this gorgeous yarn.

Yards and yards to go

Yards and yards to go

This lovely skein of thin strong sock weight yarn is a whopping 440 yards long. Needless to say I was winding all night. About an hour in, Super-Size Me came on. I’d never seen it, so it was a good distraction as I weaved my growing yarn ball through the tangles.

Yarn monster! Run for your lives!

Yarn monster! Run for your lives!

The yarn monster remained sizable as I made slow and steady progress. The movie finished, and by the time I went to bed, Matt and I estimated that I’d spent about three and a half hours on it so far. I say “so far” because sadly, it’s not over. At one point I did come across the other end and got started on a ball from it.

One night's progress

One night’s progress

The night time lighting in our living room isn’t great, but when it’s finally all balled up I’ll try to get a good shot of the color. It’s just beautiful. Amazingly I only got frustrated when it was time to admit defeat and go to bed. I knew I wouldn’t want to wake up to this thing this morning.

Alas, the yarn monster is still waiting patiently for me in my office (the second bedroom). Matt just kept shaking his head at me in sympathy last night. Poor guy’s going to have to watch me suffer for a few more hours I’d imagine.

With the three remaining skeins, I OF COURSE am going to consult the gurus at my local yarn store and hope they have advice. I’m really hoping they’ll just wind it for me, so cross your fingers!

Poor Harold. Guy just wants a face and some ends woven in.