Monday, March 08, 2010

Blissfully Overwhelmed!

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I participated in a February swap to help us crafty types get through what was (for my part of the world, anyway) a nasty, bitterly cold, snow-ridden month! A huge thank-you to Leah, who was our swap hostess.

My swap partner was Karin over at The Periwinkle Sheep. Karin also has a shop on etsy, which has some of the most beautifully hand-dyed yarns ever! I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Karin and had a wonderful time reading her blog. Today my swap package arrived, and I just about fainted when I opened it. Karin's generosity was truly amazing and I can't find the words to say how thankful and touched I am (and lucky)!

Here's what I saw when I opened the box:

One of the parameters of this swap was to choose 4 things from a list (all very thoughtful ideas, thanks to Leah). Well, I counted 5 just at a first glance, 3 of them being HUGE SKEINS OF YARN!

Here's a shot of the complete contents:

I was, and still am, flabbergasted by all the wonderful things:

a handmade project bag (which I've been wanting one like this for evah!)
lovely hand cream
2 boxes of tea
2 chocolate bars (super fancy ones!)
and 3 incredible skeins of yarn

Look at this chocolate! I'm a huge fan of dark chocolate. I love the amazing combinations going on here, too!

The purple and green yarns were hand-dyed by Karin, herself! They are each 400+ yards of yummy fingering weight yarn. They are super soft and I just adore the colors --- so vibrant and spring-like! Yay for spring!

The gray yarn is from an "almost local" (as Karin said) yarn place in New Hampshire. It's a lovely shade of gray and it's very soft and warm. Really nice stuff!

Can't wait to try the tea! I am so looking forward to that lemon lavender one, particularly!

And I am all about nice hand lotion. Seriously. My hands are a disaster in the winter. They get so bad, they crack and bleed. So this is greatly appreciated and needed! Also? Check out the fragrance: chocolate mint. Oh man. It smells like mint chocolate chip ice-cream.

Ok so I wouldn't be at all surprised if Karin all the way up in Albany heard me screaming from Claymont, DE when I saw this project bag. I have been wanting one of these cute, little, wristlet-type bags for forever. Every time I set myself to get one, they are either insanely expensive or sold out. This is so pretty, too. Colors, execution, shape, size --- it's all perfect. I lurve it.


Thank you SO much, Karin, for your wonderful, generous gifts! I absolutely love everything!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

More Sock Love

I have been cranking along with my Talbot socks (the houndstooth pattern). I finished 70 rounds of the pattern, which is the official stopping point for the leg in the pattern. But I think I am going to have plenty of yarn to extend the socks another 20 rounds so that they will be knee-high. There is unique gusset stitching as part of this pattern that has me a little nervous. It sort of looks like a checkerboard---very cool. I hope that I can do it. Maybe I am just stalling so I don't have to do that part? The 39690 round sock leg....

Here's a picture when I had about 40 rounds done:

Anyway, I am very happy with how these are turning out. I think part of the reason for my joy is the yarn I'm using. I just can't say enough good things about KnitPicks Essential (or Stroll, as it's now called) sock yarn. It's cheap as chips, soft as a cloud, and the yarn never frays, splits, untwists, knots or gets too thick or thin somewhere down the line. I've purchased many of the kettle-dyed solids, which are now on clearance. (I even bought another skein of the soot colorway that I am using in the Talbot socks, just to have it on hand.) I also have several of the hand-pained colorways, including Tiger, Tree Fort, Tea Party, and Make Believe. All more beautiful in person, truly.

I am interested in trying the Imagination Hand Painted yarn at some point. (I'm a sucker for anything with alpaca in it.) If anyone has tried this yarn, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. Although, it's pretty reasonably priced that I could just buy a skein and try it out!

The other yarn I'm using is Fortissima Colori Disco. I like this one too. It has a nice hand (though not as nice as the Essential) and the sparkly bits aren't scratchy. It's been discontinued, so if you are interested in getting some, Little Knits (linked above) is the only place that I've seen this yarn. And it's pretty cheap. I ordered another ball in the same colorway that I'm using in the Talbot socks.

I have another pair of socks going, too. Just a generic pair in self-patterning yarn -- another yarn that deserves a mention. Premier Serenity Sock Yarn. It's part of the Deborah Norville collection. Yes, Deborah Norville's el cheapo sock yarn is actually very lovely. This yarn runs about $3-$3.50 a ball, so you can make a pair of socks for $6-$7. The yarn itself is a blend of wool, bamboo, and nylon. It's super soft, easy on your hands, and it patterns very nicely. And they feel wonderful on your feet.

True story: I knit a pair of socks this fall using this yarn in the thyme colorway. I wore them once, washed them (washed beautifully) and packed them when I went to visit my sister in NC in December. One night she mentioned that her feet were cold and all she had available at that moment were trouser socks (those semi-sheer, hosiery-type things), and her little ankle-high running socks. So I said, "I have a pair you can wear." I pulled out the Deborah Norville socks. She put them on and had a nice, toasty evening. She wore them again the next night. And the next. That night she said, "Ok, so how much do you want for these socks? Because you're not getting them back." I laughed and said, "Oh, you can have them!" I was so delighted that she liked them. I think that was probably once of the nicest comments a knitter could receive. Just WEAR the stuff we knit!

So anyway, I had planned on experimenting with a short-row heel. I wanted to have the look of continued striping going, rather than the large blocks of color that you end up with when doing the heel-flap kind. I've heard that the short-row heels are easier, faster, and use less yarn. Uh huh. Oh. My. Dog. It took me forever to do that stupid short-row heel, and it looked horrendous. Very holey and flimsy. I ripped it out and did the standard heel flap, which, honestly, doesn't look all that bad and just seems sturdier and more substantial. There is another type of heel that I am interested in trying, the afterthought heel. This looks basically like your a making a toe dome where the heel is. Maybe I'll attempt that on my next pair.