Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Best Kind of Knitting Bag is a Free Knitting Bag

Hey there fellow knitters!  I just wanted to drop you a note to tell you to leave a comment on A Philosophy Degree and Fifty Cents for a chance at a new chevron stripe knitting bag.  This tote bag (handmade by me) is perfect for knitters, because it's big enough to hold any project and has no velcro and any other pokey thing that can snag a knitting project.

Did I mention the chevrons?  I am currently obsessed with chevron stripes.  I even love the word "chevron."

Did I also mention that I am offering it free to one lucky comment leaver?  This is the first giveaway I've done and I am disproportionately excited about it. Seriously - I can't wait to see who wins.  So click on over there, knitting friends!  :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Death of Knitty McPurly

It was a dark and stormy night.  Knitty was sitting on her couch watching Downton Abbey, knitting a red sweater.  Red, like the color of blood.  The lightning struck. The thunder crashed.  Suddenly, the lights went out.  There was a bloodcurdling scream!  Her knitting needles fell to the floor with a loud clink, and the red sweater spilled out over the couch, as if in slow motion.  When the lights came back on, Knitty breathed her last breath...

Ok, it wasn't actually that dramatic.  But why not have a little fun on the way out, right?  Don't worry - while Knitty McPurly has died (the blog, not the person.  Sheesh - what did you THINK I was talking about???) a new blog has risen up out of her ashes.

Sigh... I don't know why I have to be such a drama queen.  Most people would just say, "Hey folks, I decided I wanted to write about more than just knitting, so please continue to follow me at my new blog: A Philosophy Degree and Fifty Cents. It's about all the good stuff in life, and I hope you like it."

 I'll see you there for more drama...

- Devin :)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Swatching: Who Needs It?

Well, it seems that I need it.  I was so excited, after making things for other people for the past few months (which I loved, don't get me wrong), to be making a sweater for ME.  The Abalone Sweater.  Very simple.  All stockinette and garter stitch.  It would be PERFECT.

Until... it wasn't.  Apparently, I knit more tightly than the person who wrote the pattern and the sweater ended up too small. (For the hordes of readers that I have who are non-knitters, you're supposed to check your gauge, which means knitting a test swatch to see if you have the right number of stitches per inch.)

Wait - don't close this browser window!  It gets more interesting!  ...  Ok, no it doesn't. 

Did I check my gauge?  Do I even know how to do that?  No. And No. So now I have a gorgeous sweater made with about $60 worth of fabulous yarn that doesn't fit.  Luckily, it looks great on my daughter as an oversized sweater.  She actually looks super cute in it and can't wait for fall so she can actually wear it.  And she's very happy.  Which is worth $60 and ten or so hours.

This church dress isn't the best choice for showing off the awesomeness of the sweater, but if you have a seven year old girl, then you know why I chose not to fight this battle.


 Moving right along! I am planning my next project which is the most gorgeous sweater I have ever seen: Opposite Pole by Joji Locatell.  I love everything about this sweater.  The cables, the shape, the flattering waistline, the soft, squishy Malabrigo merino worsted that it's made of, even the color she chose: Simply Taupe, which is also the color I'll be using.

I know you're wondering if I'll be swatching for this sweater.  I know the question is just looming in your mind....  Um, YES.  I researched how to make and measure swatches, how to count stitches, and even how to adjust the pattern to fit the gauge you naturally knit with.  (Did I just blow your mind?  Because it kind of blew mine. And let me just take this opportunity to say that the reason for this blog is that when I get super excited about something like adjusting a pattern to fit my gauge, my husband's eyes glaze over faster than I thought eyes could do that.  So, thanks for reading this far.)

I have finished two swatches.  I like the way the size 10 needles make the fabric look, but the size 11s get me the gauge the pattern calls for.  So, what will I do?  I'll leave you on the edge of your seat...

Saturday, May 25, 2013

World's Worst Blogger

I apologize for being a terrible blogger. I could tell you that I will get better, really I will, but that is probably a lie.  Fantasy Devin writes a blog entry everyday, and they are all packed with wit, interesting facts you never read anywhere else and glorious, glorious knitting.  Fantasy Devin does tons of stuff that Real Devin never does.  I love Fantasy Devin...

Anyway, I finished Green Baby Blanket 2.0, but didn't photograph it. That's ok. It's just a stockinette blanket.  I also knitted a Lettuce Leaf scarf for my wonderful friend who just turned 40. I made it with Knit Picks Galileo, and it's just so squishy and ruffly.  (The pattern for this isn't on ravelry, but is given out with purchase at my LYS: Needles in the Haymarket.)  What do you think?

Finishing these two projects meant something very important for Real Devin: the commencement of the Season of Selfish Knitting. I haven't made much for myself since last summer.  Which is fine, because I have amazing friends who aren't even knitters but still act like they won the lottery when they find out I knitted them something.  But every now and then, I'd like to keep and wear something I've made.  So I started an Abalone sweater for me out of some Madelinetosh Vintage in Baltic of which I have a bootload. This is a ridiculously simple sweater with no shaping that I really hope turns out cute.  We'll see...

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Beyond Merino

I should quit my job.  First of all, the hours are terrible.  Works starts at 5am, if I'm lucky.  I don't get done until 7pm, if I'm lucky. And the littlest of my three slave drivers wakes me up once or twice in the middle of the night, if I'm lucky.  ... But he's just so cute, right?  I can't resist him. So, I guess I'll keep working.  And I DO get paid in kisses and snuggles, and the pay is great.  Ok, maybe I'll quit sleeping instead.

The bottom line is that I need more knitting hours in the day, because there is just so much YARN. Today I went to my very first knitting retreat which took place in scenic, rural, central Virginia, nestled in the foothills of the Shenandoah Mountains.  It was the kind of place where you kept expecting to see hobbits. The special guest speakers (and the reason why I went) were the ladies of Solitude Wool.  They raise sheep and spin breed specific yarn.  Breed. Specific. Yarn.  It's taking yarn snobbery to a whole new level.

Is it just me, or is there a lot of merino out there?  It seems like most of the wool I come across is merino.  And I like merino. It's very nice.  But there's also Corriedale.  Romney. Cotswold. Border Leicester.  Targhee. These are AMAZING wools, and many of them are raised right here in Virginia.

Cotswold.  This one is my favorite.  It positively glistens.
Gorgeous Romney photobombed by a glass of chardonnay.
This is a skein of undyed alpaca from Platinum Alpacas, which was a vendor a the retreat.  The lady at the table was just so sweet, and no one was going over there.  I don't know why because her yarn was super soft and very weighty for alpaca.  I see a future Milo Vest for my little boy out of this amazing yarn...
At this knitting retreat they passed around spun yarn and the raw fleece that goes with it for these and other sheep breeds.  (If you want a little taste of what this must have been like, check out The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook.  I am crazy about this book. I have it in hard copy AND on my Kindle.  Yeah...)

What amazed me was the luster and shine of the Cotswold, Targhee and Romney yarn.  Ok, I fell in love with them.  And dropped some money on some gorgeous yarn.  I left it in the bag, because it will still feel new when I have time to actually knit with it.  It may be that now I only knit with yarn from Solitude Wool.  It is amazing.  I'm in love.

Here are a few facts about sheep that I picked up today that I think I can really use:

1.  A sheep costs, like, $200. (Feeding them is kind of expensive though...)
2. You can keep 3-5 sheep on one acre of land.  (I live on 1/3 of an acre!  That's 1-2 sheep.  Now to convince the HOA...)
3. Sheep do not require shelter.  They do require shade.  (I can handle that.)

So, I need a sheep.  Or two. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Knitting Break

I know I promised a book review about sheep, and it's coming.  It really is. But I have been plugging away on some other projects that I promised people.  (Why do I keep promising stuff?) I paint portraits and I just finished a painting of a friend's parents.  He doesn't even know it's coming. I can't wait to see his face when I give it to him...

So, during this knitting break, I have knitted several small toys: one Bunny Nugget for my husband's friend's new baby, an angry Chubby Chirp for my husband's office, and I started some of Rebecca Danger's monsters for my middle daughter. It seems that if I'm physically able to knit, then I'm still knitting.  Even during a break.

Angry Chubby Chirp named Uncle Leo
Now, I'm working on a soul-crushing blanket for my mom. It's a baby blanket.  A green baby blanket.  (Yes, another one.) And it's crushing my soul.  "Why is your soul the victim here?" you might be wondering... It's several reasons, really, and if you're a knitter, I think you'll understand all of them.

First, it's a blanket. So it's big, even if it's for a baby.

Second, it's in stockinette stitch, the whole thing, with a garter stitch border. This is my fault, because I could have done cables, or lace or something, but I wanted mindless knitting.  Sigh...

Third, it's in a soul-crushing yarn. It's 60% cotton and 40% modal, which is a fiber from beech trees, but feels kind of synthetic.  Yes, the yarn is soft, definitely, but it's...  green.  And there's a lot of it.  And I just don't love knitting with it. And there's no end in sight.

The good news is that when this blanket is done, in five years, when I finish it, all the things I agreed to do for other people will be done!  Yay!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Giraffe Finished!

I am in love with this little guy...  So is my oldest daughter.  She kind of wishes he were hers. Doesn't he just look so pensive? And relaxed?  I bet you want to hug him, don't you?

 The pattern called for eleven spots, but he ended up with three.  Three's good...

And now. a knitting break.  I have a painting project that needs some attention, and I'll be blogging about an awesome book that I'm reading: The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook.  It is filled with interesting facts about sheep.  Book review to come!