Monthly Archives: May 2011

Get Sheep(ish) with Vickie Howell’s new Stitch. Rock. Love yarn!

Sheep(ish) Yarn from Vickie Howell and CaronI’ve been working with yarn in one way or another since I was a kid – back from when my mom first taught me to finger crochet and use a french knitting spool, to my college years when I learned to crochet and made afghans for everybody I knew – right up to these past years of motherhood, when knitting has become a true passion. I love yarn – working with it, looking at it, running my fingers over it, drooling over colors or fibers that I wish I could bring home but simply don’t have the space (or money) for… Not all yarn needs to be expensive or difficult to find though – and Caron’s newest yarn offering from spokesperson Vickie Howell (the first in her new line of Stitch. Rock. Love yarns) is an affordably-priced, versatile option called Sheep(ish).

Sheep(ish) Yarn from Vickie Howell and Caron

I’ve been working with the new Sheep(ish) yarn for the past couple of weeks – I was sent three skeins in the Olive(ish) colorway to try out, which made me very happy since green is my favorite color and this is a beautiful shade of it. Sheep(ish) is a single-ply, wool/acrylic blend (30% wool to 70% acrylic) of a worsted roving yarn (medium weight – 4). It comes in a 3 oz. (85 g) skein with 167 yards (153 m). The suggested needle size is #8 US and hook size is H-8 US. Sheep(ish) is machine washable (cold on gentle cycle), but items should be laid flat to dry. There are 21 different colors all told, so that you’re sure to find the perfect one for your next project.

Sheep(ish) Yarn from Vickie Howell and Caron

I initially decided to knit a hat with my Sheep(ish) yarn – I’d found a pattern a little while ago on Ravelry that I’d wanted to try (the Amanda Hat) and since it calls for a single-ply worsted weight yarn, I thought it would be a good fit. The pattern calls for a size US 9 needle, so because my 16” circular is a US 8, I made sure to knit a gauge swatch before beginning the hat. It was also a good way to get a sense of how the Sheep(ish) yarn would be to work with before starting an actual project. I’m glad I took the time to make the swatch – the hat pattern calls for a gauge of 4 sts per inch and I was getting 5 sts per inch instead. So I made a few adjustments in the pattern to account for the gauge difference.

Amanda Hat in Sheep(ish) yarn

Amanda Hat in Sheep(ish) yarn

Amanda Hat in Sheep(ish) yarn

I really like how the hat turned out and the Sheep(ish) yarn was wonderful to work with. I don’t usually like using totally synthetic fibers because I don’t like how they feel against my fingers. I generally prefer more natural fibers when possible, but also prefer  yarn that’s machine washable, so the mix of acrylic and wool here is really nice. The yarn slides well through my fingers and onto the needles – and being a single ply, there’s no worry about the yarn splitting as I knit. The Sheep(ish) yarn has a nice sheen to it that I like in the finished product, and it’s just slightly fuzzy. So far I’ve not run into any knots – the skeins are center-pull and it’s been pretty easy to find the ends inside them when I begin one too. This hat fits me well – and my older daughters were more than happy to model it for me. :)

Amanda Hat in Sheep(ish) yarnAmanda Hat in Sheep(ish) yarn

After finishing the Amanda Hat, I still had almost 2 full skeins of Sheep(ish) left, so I decided to try another project. I’d seen the new free patterns that Vickie Howell has designed specifically for this new yarn, and love her Urban Revival slouchie beanie. I was able to get a copy of the pattern a few days before it was released and began working on the hat last weekend. It’s a nice quick project in general – this is the first time in several years that I’ve crocheted something instead of knit, so I’ve almost had to re-teach myself how to crochet as well.

Here are a few photos of the hat in-progress – first the band, and then the main hat…

Sheep(ish) Yarn Urban Revival slouchie beanie

Urban Revival Slouchie Beanie 003

I found a couple of silver buttons that I really like at Walmart, so added those to the band, after I stitched it onto the hat:

Urban Revival Slouchie Beanie 007

And here’s the finished product – both off and on. I love it – and look forward to wearing it once the weather gets cold out again next fall!

Urban Revival Slouchie Beanie 006 Urban Revival Slouchie Beanie 010

I am so thrilled to have had this chance to work with the new Sheep(ish) yarn from Vickie Howell’s new Stitch. Rock. Love line from Caron, and can’t wait to try more projects in it (and in more colors) as well. Sheep(ish) is now officially available online at Buy.Caron.com and at JoAnn super stores nationwide To find a location near you that carries it, check out the Sheep(ish) finder app on Vickie’s website. Sheep(ish) is also available through the Herrschners catalogue and will soon be available in select, independent stores. And if you’re in or near Columbus, OH on Sunday, June 12th – Vickie will be at the Notions Marketing booth at TNNA for a Sheep(ish) Make & Take (make your own chopstick cozy!) and an AwareKnits book signing.

You can follow along on the rest of the stops on the Sheep(ish) blog tour here:

Happy knitting (and crocheting)! :)

I received 3 skeins of Sheep(ish) yarn as part of this blog tour, but all opinions here are 100% my own.

Nifty knitting things

When it comes to supplies, knitting has its fair share of stuff to stock up on. Needles and yarn, of course. A pair or two of scissors of some sort too. But then there are lots of things that you don’t necessarily have to have, but which can make knitting a lot easier – like stitch markers. And stitch holders. And counters. And something to keep your yarn stash and needles. Not to mention your works-in-progress. And then there are patterns – books, leaflets, downloads or however else you buy them. Knitting can be a fairly frugal hobby – you can buy inexpensive yarns and needles that work perfectly well, and there are plenty of free patterns to be had online. But it is nice to be able to splurge a little bit if you can.

I don’t buy a lot – nothing fancy or terribly expensive, although I do have to admit a weakness for Addi Turbo needles, because I love the slick metal needles and smooth joins. But I’ve discovered a few less expensive options that work almost just as well – the last pair I bought was from KnitPicks (the needles I’m currently using on my daughter’s socks), and I’ve heard of some others which I’d like to try someday, like Hiya Hiya or Kollage’s square needles.

I hadn’t originally thought much about stitch markers – I have a cheap package of them that I’d bought way back when I first started knitting but hadn’t really used much, mainly because I hadn’t needed to. Yet. On the smock top that I started recently, there’s a series of decrease rows. You don’t have to have stitch markers for them, but as I’m finding out – it makes it a lot easier if you do. And I also realized that the cheap ones I had don’t work very well because they’re made of thick plastic and it’s hard to knit over or around them.  So I went shopping on Etsy.

Oh my goodness, there are some beautiful things to be had on Etsy.com – and the best part is that they’re all handmade so you’re supporting other crafters and artisans. And prices can be really good too – I found a set of beautiful little stitch markers for only a few dollars. Not only do they work much better, with thin loops to go around the needles, but they make my project look prettier while I’m working on them. :)

StitchMarkers 003StitchMarkers 002

Speaking of Etsy, it’s also where I found my favorite knitting bag a while back – the shop is called KnittingsMyBag, and she makes knitting bags and needle cases that are sturdy, have lots of pockets to hold stuff and I love many of the fabrics she uses. My bag has held up extremely well for 1-1/2 years now and I wish I’d bought a matching one in a larger size when she had it available, because while this one is perfect to take along places and hold small projects, I’d love to have one to keep larger ones in too. I do have matching dpn case and little notions pocket that came with my bag though and love them as well.

KnittingBag

Up until now, I hadn’t had any good way to store circular needles, but this past weekend I visited a new yarn shop (new to me anyway) while in Holland, MI for a conference. It was a really cute shop and I could have spent much more time (and $) in there than I did, but I did find one thing that I splurged a little bit on with a gift card I’d won a few weeks ago. It’s a circular needle case from Offhand Designs and it holds a ton of circulars! Plus it’s got some dpn storage as well as a zippered pocket for notions and such. Perfect!

CircularCase

Don’t even get me started on yarn… And that’s the subject of a whole other post. I don’t have a huge stash – but that’s only due to financial and space restrictions. I love browsing through craft and yarn stores to see the different fibers and shades. And then trying to find the right project to match a specific yarn (or vice versa) – it’s one of the most fun parts of the craft.

I don’t have a stitch counter – and I’ll post more about why not and what I use instead in the future. I do have a small collection of pattern books – but I get most of my patterns from Ravelry or other online sources if I can. Having said that, I spent an hour at the bookstore a few weeks ago browsing through pattern books and looking for inspiration for a project and thoroughly enjoying myself.

There’s a lot more that can be said about the things that you use to knit and crochet with – and I’m sure I’ll get more into that in the future. It’s fun to be able to splurge a little every now and then – but also nice to not have to if you can’t. And to know that you’re making something useful as well in the end.  :)

Watch for my review of the new Sheep(ish) yarn from Caron coming up on May 28th!

Knitting Updates

So it seems like forever since I’ve posted an update here! Not that I haven’t been knitting. Or taking photos either. I just haven’t had a chance to get them off of the camera until now. :)

And yes, I am still working on the second sock of the pair I’m making for my daughter. But – they are coming along, and I’m finding the forethought heel to be much easier this time around too. I’m still not totally sure if I like this type of heel in the end product or not, but it doesn’t scare me anymore like it did at first. And that’s a good thing.

Here are a few pictures of the second sock-in-progress:

HannahsSecondSock 002

I do like that the color sequence appears to be matching pretty closely to the first sock, and that was almost completely by accident – just where the yarn happened to end after the first sock was done. It’ll be a little off for the heel, since I can’t pick up the color progression in the same spot on the other end of the skein very easily, but I think it’ll be close enough. And besides, the heel’s on the bottom of the foot where it’s rarely seen anyway. Right? ;)

One reason why the sock is moving so slowly right now is that I recently cast on a second project. I know – two projects at once, what am I thinking of? :) But I’m finding that the tedious nature of the sock sometimes means that I don’t always want to work on it, even at times when I still feel like knitting. And with the warmer weather coming (eventually), the sock isn’t a huge priority at the moment.

I decided to re-try a project that I worked on last summer and put aside – the Smock Top pattern from Claire Montgomerie’s Easy Kids Knits book. I like the look of this top and that it’s good for summer, since it’s sleeveless. I stopped working on the first one, mainly because I realized partly through that I’d misjudged the size and it would be too small, even for my youngest daughter. So this time I’m simply making the largest pattern size. I figure that it’s bound to fit somebody, or even if it ends up too big, my oldest will grow into it before too long. She’s just about into Junior sizes in general though, so I’m sure it’ll fit one of the 3 girls.

SmockTopTake2 001

I’m using a yarn that I’d picked up last year on clearance at the LYS – it’s a wool/cotton blend. Hopefully it’ll be light enough for this top. It’s a pretty basic stockinette stitch knit, with a garter stitch border on both sides where the top will button up the back once it’s done. I like that it’s simple knitting – no pattern to pay attention to or remember, and also that it’s knit on size 7 needles (pattern calls for a 6, but I don’t have one and can’t afford a new needle right now so am using a 7). It’s a good project for home, and then I can take the sock with me when I’m out and about.