New camera
My “local” yarn shop

NEEDLES

Knit Picks Interchangeable
I just checked the Addi site and see they’re running a promo for 20% off needles right now! Get yo self some Lace needles!
Addi Turbo
Addi Turbo Lace

ChiaoGoo 9″ Circulars
Kamille’s Yarn Shop
Austermann Step
Simplicity by HiKoo
Plymouth Baby Alpaca Lace
Juniper Moon Farm Findley
Spellbound Fiber Co Air
Pi Shawls
Manos Del Uruguay Maxima

GIVEAWAY!

Watch the video for details.  I’ll accept entries until midnight, March 31, 2015.

manos del uruguay maxima copy

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Henslowe Shawl – Finished!

by Stef on March 23, 2015

in Knitting

henslowe shawl

Alan and I had a short work trip to Salt Lake City last week.  While we were in civilization, I decided it was time to finally upgrade my camera.  The new one (not an affiliate link, just being helpful) is incredible but ooooo boy there is no hiding from its attention to detail.  This thing will catch every single little flaw, stray dog hair, and speck of dust.  I can no longer hide behind semi tolerable photos and snazzy editing in Photoshop.  Since this camera and I are still figuring each other out, I decided I should just test myself even further and try to take some photos outside.  It maybe worked? ehh?

henslowe shawl 1

This shawl is Henslowe by Beth Kling, available for purchase on Ravelry here.  The yarn is Tanis Fiber Arts Red Label, a single ply cashmere/merino/silk blend (75% merino,15% cashmere, 10% silk) in the color Ravine.  I’ve talked about this yarn before – it was a splurge purchase from the Tanis Fiber Arts Etsy store on Boxing Day.  I just looked back on the TFA blog post about this sale and Tanis calls these yarns “One Of A Kinds“.  I still don’t really know if that means one-off special colors, if they’re skeins that don’t meet regular production standards, if they’re just experiments…?  Now that I’ve worked through one entire skein and half of another, I’m totally thrilled with the yarn.  My two skeins were consistent enough in color that I didn’t even bother alternating rows.  My first skein – the crescent body of the shawl – had quite a few thick spots.  I wouldn’t really call it a complaint, just something worth noting.  I’m happy these spots ended up hidden in the garter stitch and didn’t appear in the lace.  My second skein is flawless.  I’ll pull out my digital scale before I update any project notes on Ravelry, but I suspect I have at least 1/3, maybe 1/2 of the skein left over. 

henslowe shawl

Since making the purchase in December, I debated using this yarn for a few different projects.  When I saw that you could eek out a regular size Henslowe from just one skein, I considered making twin Henslowe shawls and giving one away to a family member.  Unfortunately, while working the garter section and counting my rows I started to worry that I wouldn’t be satisfied with the size of the shawl as originally written.  I read through a bunch of different project notes on Ravelry which only confirmed my suspicions.  The original shawl isn’t remarkably small, I just knew it would be too small for me.  A petite person, I am not, and I don’t wear small shawls well.  I decided to plug along on the crescent shape until I finished one entire skein of yarn, then to start the lace section from my second skein.  As you can see above, I also decided against doing the entire crescent in garter stitch.  Aesthetically, I partially regret my decision.  Process wise, I just doooooooooo not have the patience to do miles and miles of garter with nothing to break it up.  Here I am again, struggling with process vs. end result…  all garter or all stockinette may have looked better, but I can’t spend ages on a project that I don’t find interesting.

In the lace, I added an extra repeat of the Roman Stripe motif plus a few extra rows of garter and row of YOs before starting my picot bind off.  I don’t want to give away too many details of how the shawl is constructed, but if you’ve made one of these yourself, hopefully you’ll know what I’m talking about here — I considered adding a picot edge to the first bind off, but stopped myself and now I’m not sure if I regret that decision or not.  I decided to do the suspended bind off as written, and I’m happy about that, because the finished edge is lovely.

As always, I love a project where I learn something new.  Again, I don’t want to just spoil how the shawl is constructed, but the method was totally new to me.  I learned the suspended bind off, a new way to increase at the edges, finally tried a knit-on edge, and it was my first picot bind off (do the little picot edges on FYA2 count? I don’t think so).  Gorgeous yarn, fun pattern, and totally wearable, lovely end result? Can’t beat it!

henslowe shawl

henslowe shawl

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Toe-up Two-at-a-time Socks – Finished!

by Stef on March 19, 2015

in Knitting

two at a time toe up knit socks

I finally got some pictures of my completed two-at-a-time toe-up socks.  First of all, certain people in the comments, those obviously smarter than me, have been abbreviating this as TaaT socks, which is genius, because I’ve typed out two-at-a-time toe-up more times than I can count.

two at a time toe up knit sock

two at a time toe up knit sock

I know we’ve all gone back and forth multiple times over what constitutes a pattern and what doesn’t.  To be clear – I didn’t use a pattern for these socks.  I used a method.  I’ve definitely learned my lesson that some people need patterns and I get that.  Personally, I want to develop a skill set that results in me not needing to rely on so many patterns.  I’m sure there are other people already championing this idea, but I’ve just been referring to it as patternless knitting.  If you understand the method of creating Toe-Up TaaT socks, I honestly think you don’t need a pattern.  All this said, I am certainly not above learning, and happen to have a copy of Toe-Up 2-at-a-Time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes on my bookshelf.  Now that I’ve tackled these on my own, I’m going to backtrack and read the book and identify points of improvement.  We all have different ways of learning and I happen to make the biggest strides when I just try things on my own.  If you need a book or pattern to start, I’ve heard great things about this one.

two at a time toe up sock3

two at a time toe up sock5

I used this method to specifically combat some of my knitting issues.  I’ve said it before, but I totally suffer from second sock/sleeve/mitt/glove syndrome.  With those amazing Karbonz needles at my disposal, I decided it was the perfect time to try TaaT socks, and definitely wasn’t disappointed by the process.  Starting two socks from Judy’s Magic Cast On is not… difficult.  I did find it… cumbersome.  Honestly, the first time I started my toes, the purl ridge was on the outside so, ya know, we all make mistakes and there’s always room for learning.  Process wise, I much (so very much) preferred a short row heel over the heel flap and gusset method.  I’m struggling with this part though – the fit of a heel flap + gusset seems far superior to the fit of a short row heel.  But, for me, the heel flap + gusset method was just… long and boring.  Again, it’s not difficult, I just flat out didn’t enjoy it.  Meanwhile, I didn’t even need a tutorial for the short row method.  It was quick, intuitive, and a breeze to complete, but the fit just isn’t as good.  These socks definitely have some bagging around the heels.  I’m not sure where I stand on this.  Which is better – a process you enjoy, but which results in a less than stellar fit, or a perfect fit with a process that isn’t much fun?

knit sock construction

My Method for Two-at-a-time Toe-up Socks

1.  Cast on with Judy’s Magic Cast on (written instructions)

2.  Increase for toes
row 1 (every odd row): knit all
row 2 (every even row): k2, increase, knit to 2 before end, increase, k2 (repeat all that a 2nd time).

Note: I cast on 22 and increased to 68 stitches but I now think my socks are a bit too big.  This is the joy of toe up socks though! Cast on 20 and increase to 64.  Cast on 22 and increase to 68.  For bigger feet, maybe cast on 24 and increase to 72.  Because of the slant of my toes, I prefer to cast on fewer stitches to start  If you have a wider toe box, you could certainly start with 24 or 26 stitches and have fewer increase rounds.  Try it out, see what works!

3.  I stopped my increases once the toe area was at the base of my littlest toe and the total number of stitches seemed sufficient to wrap my entire foot.  With half the stitches on one needle and half on the other, I worked my motif on the top of the socks and continued in stockinette on the bottom.  I didn’t write a “pattern” for this design.  I just came up with something quickly that looked cute and I knew I could memorize.  If it’s helpful, see below:

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 10.53.43 PM

*The numbers above don’t indicate the row, they indicate the number of stitches that need to be worked.  Like all (almost all?) patterns, start at the bottom and work towards the top.*

If you need tips on placing the motif, let’s say you have 64 total stitches.  They’ll be divided in half, 32 on each needle.   The motif above is written 18 stitches wide.  32 – 18 = 14.  Divide that in half so you know where to center your motif.  14/2 = 7.  So you’ll have 7 stitches, work the motif above, then another 7 stitches on the other side.  Easy enough!

4.  I tried these bad boys on multiple times as I was knitting.  Once the instep was long enough, I worked a short row heel (written instructions Again, this isn’t exactly what I did because I did mine without instructions, but it looks sufficiently helpful)

When your heel is done, rejoin and work the ankle, continuing until it’s the length you want or you’re running short on yarn. Add a few rounds of 1×1 or 2×2 ribbing (I think I did 12, 20 would have been better) then finish with your favorite stretchy bind off.

two at a time toe up sock4

These socks are only my second pair and are certainly not perfect.  I’m so self conscious about having wide feet that I overly increased and should have done 64 stitches, not 68.  I love the short row heel technique but I’m not sold on the fit.  I should have made the socks a bit longer and added more ribbing at the top.  Once I read the book mentioned above, I’m sure I’ll learn new things that I want to test.

With plenty of lessons learned here, I’m going to continue this year o’ socks and start another pair fairly soon.  I recently stumbled into a For Sale thread on Ravelry and scored a set of braaaand new teeny tiny 9″ ChiaoGoo bamboo circulars.  Since I’m giving away that awesome set of Karbonz, I don’t have another set of needles well suited to TaaT socks so I’m curious if these little circulars will change my mind about working the socks one at a time.

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Let’s start with the good.  I know many others in the Fiberista Clubouse on Ravelry can’t say the same, but my box arrived once again with zero shipping issues.  I received shipping notification on Friday and my box was at our PO Box by Monday.  For rural Wyoming, I consider that pretty fantastic.  This was also the first month of Platinum Boxes! Twenty-five lucky recipients received copies of the newly released book, Wrapped in Color: 30 Shawls to Knit in Koigu Handpainted Yarns.  Some extra lucky people (person?) received a set of addi ART Diamond circular needles.  I was not one of these lucky people.

Now let’s talk about what happens when you pay for a subscription box and don’t love what shows up in your box.  First up, the skeins are hand painted by indie dyer, Love Spun Yarns.  Honestly, this has been a bit divisive on Ravelry.  Some people feel like our selections lately have gone beyond “exclusive” and into just plain obscure.  For the past two months, we’ve received yarns from companies that don’t even have websites (at least that I can find), aren’t listed in the Ravelry database, and aren’t selling on Etsy.  I guess… I get it.  I understand that frustration.  If you’re receiving products from companies you don’t recognize, it’s sort of hard to really trust the “value” of what you’re holding.  We’re told that these are “exclusive and luxurious” yarns but if you don’t know the company, don’t really understand the complexity or rarity of certain fibers, and can’t see any proof of the labor intensity of the dye process, then you just have to trust that they’re worth what we’re told they’re worth.  So… I’m not really taking issue with the selections the way others have, but I definitely see where they’re coming from.

Love Spun Yarns in Blood Orange Merino Camel blend fingering weight

I received two skeins of 80% superfine merino, 20% baby camel in fingering weight.  There are 250m per skein which works out to 273 yards, 546 yards total.  At first glance the skeins look tiny, so I’m a little shocked and definitely happy to know just how many yards are in the skeins.  On the plus side, the yarn is lovely.  I haven’t opened my skeins, but it feels delightful. On the negative side, I’m just not sure about the color.  I can’t fake my reactions in the video.  My immediate instinct was, “oh, nooo.  No way.”  Right after filming, I posted to the Trade/Swap thread on Ravelry.  Fiberista immediately offered to swap for a different color because they are totally committed to making sure everyone is happy.  Once I gave the yarn another chance, I think I maaaaay actually be coming around to it.  It’s not fire engine red like it appears on video.  Officially, the color is Blood Orange.  I’d call it an orange red, maybe like the color of a poppy?  It would make a great nail polish!  So, we’ve established – it’s beautiful, even as a non-red person.  I just have no idea what to do with it!  It’s definitely not something I wear right now and, if I think about it in terms of value, do I really want $50 socks or fingerless mitts that I’ll never wear?  Maybe I’ll make something and love it so much that the color grows on me? I decided to pick “all colors, all hues” specifically to test my limits.  I can certainly take the easy way out and swap this for another option I know I’ll like, but does one person really need more of the same colors in their collection?  They’ve already posted a reveal showing all the colors and I see lots of (beautiful!) blues, greens, deep purples, and grays – colors that I already have plenty of.  This is really the only color that’s totally outside my comfort zone.  Maybe I should just stretch that comfort zone?

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Milkshed on Facebook

by Stef on March 14, 2015

in Uncategorized

milkshedfacebook

I’m probably going to age myself here, by Facebook really isn’t my style.  I do not hate Facebook.  I absolutely understand the appeal, I know how to use it, I don’t get particularly angry when they make constant changes.  I just… eh… not really into it.  If you’ve tried to friend me on my personal Facebook account recently and I haven’t replied, don’t be offended!  It’s just because my personal Facebook will offer you very little.

That said, I know a LOT of people really are into it, and to that I say – rock on, give the people what they want!  Facebook is incredibly important for our small business so I can see why it could be important for Milkshed and, with that, I decided to finally make us all a page.  If you like to “follow” blogs but are’t fond of email notifications or something like Bloglovin’, maybe Facebook is what you prefer.  For now, things are looking very bleak.  I’ll get things properly situated and start sharing fun things over time.  If Facebook is just your style, check the new page out right here.

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Knitter's Pride Karbonz Fixed Circular Needles 40"

These needles were provided to me by Stitchcraft Marketing.  I was not provided with additional compensation nor obligated to write a positive review. 

When I got the opportunity to try some needles from Knitter’s Pride, I decided to test myself and check out something totally outside my comfort zone.  You already know that two-at-a-time toe-up socks were sitting at the top of my To Do list.  What you may not know is that I’m a die hard devotee of wood interchangeable circular needles.  You’ll find plenty of DPNs, straight needles, and a few rogue metal circulars in my toolbox, but they’re literally never in use.  Since I wanted to try something totally new and have been thinking about socks, I zeroed in on the Knitter’s Pride Karbonz fixed circulars in 40″ length.

knitters pride karbonz3

Knitter's Pride Karbonz Fixed Circular Needles 40"

First impressions? These things look and feel fantastic!

Like most (all?) knitters, I’m after a few specific things when looking for great circulars.  I want a nice smooth connection where the cable meets the needles.  I like a needle that provides some “grip” which is why I’ve shied away from metal needles in the past.  As I move away from my bulky or worsted yarns and favor fingering, sock, and lace, I’ve started to place more importance on a tip that is pointy but won’t poke my fingertips.  The Knitter’s Pride Karbonz easily met all these criteria and addressed so many of my other wants.  The cables are super smooth, flexible, and, most importantly, don’t kink based on how they were shipped in the package or stored in my knitting bag.  Gah! This alone is a revelation!  Now that I know how amazing this cable feels, I’m realizing how long I’ve been fighting kinks and weird shapes in my other cables when trying to work a little garter tab for a shawl or start socks from Judy’s Magic Cast on.

The combination of carbon fiber needles with tips in nickel plated brass means that needle has enough grip while the tip has a smooth, perfect point that makes it easy to catch stitches without splitting my yarn.  I have certain needle sizes in near constant use and have recently noticed my wood tips wearing down and becoming more rounded with use.  I love knowing that I won’t have the same issue with these metal tips.  I also immediately noticed that the size is printed on the carbon fiber needles and etched onto the metal join between the cable and needle.  My current needles aren’t printed with sizes, so I always need to have a needle gauge on hand.  This may seem like a little detail, but it’s just one more thing that works towards making these my new favorite needles in my knitting bag.

Knitter's Pride Karbonz Fixed Circular Needles 40"

For my test drive, I put the needles to work on those two-at-a-time toe-up socks I’ve had on the brain.  What better time to try a totally new needles than with totally new techniques?  Better yet, I decided that I want to become a master of patternless knitting, so I jumped right in with some ideas in mind, but no pattern to guide me along the way.  I used Judy’s Magic Cast on, then increased until the fit felt right, trying my socks on along the way – here’s another time when that super flexible cable totally came in handy.  I didn’t want plain socks, so I came up with a simple little motif that was easy to memorize.  I tried my hand at a short row heel using shadow wrap short rows, then continued the motif up the front of the sock until it was a suitable length, before finishing off with a simple 2×2 rib.  I’ll share this sock “recipe” in more detail next, but for now I just want to say how much these needles contributed to my success.

For real, guys, these things are great. Absolutely no part of me wants to see them leave, but I want someone else to know how great they are, so I’m offering up my own set as a giveaway.  To go with it, I’m including two balls of Knit Picks Capretta in Harbor, the same yarn shown above and what I used for my socks (you’ll see those next).

For more information about Knitter’s Pride, you can check out their site or Facebook.

GIVEAWAY! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Edit: I asked about cable needles above, but meant circular! It doesn’t matter though – your answer obviously won’t affect your ability to win! Sorry for the brain fart.  

Prize: 1 Knitter’s Pride Karbonz 40″ fixed circular needle in US 2.5 (3 mm) + 2 balls of Knit Picks Capretta in Harbor.  This is my first giveaway, so please be patient and fingers crossed everything goes well!

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Back in action

March 10, 2015

If you follow along on Instagram, I’m sadly not sharing anything you haven’t already seen.  I didn’t take a proper camera along on our trip and eventually stopped using my phone pretty much all together, so my photos are limited. Alan and I finally returned home late last night. Traveling from rural Wyoming is never […]

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Slow Stitching Movement Podcast

March 6, 2015

I first crossed paths with the phenomenal Mark Lipinski when he linked to my Brioche Cowl back in December.   I did some clicking around online and quickly discovered that Mark is a total badass celebrity in the cross stitch and quilting world.  He later tracked me down on Facebook and said he wanted to chat about […]

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Video // Yarn Chat #2 (vacation, site news, finished projects, mini yarn haul)

March 4, 2015

Alan and I are out of town on a work trip at the moment.  Since we made the long haul to Florida for our conference, we decided to extend our travels a few days and turn the trip into a full-blown Disney Fun-Fest family vacation.  Since I’m away from Wyoming and the blog, I tried to pull […]

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Follow Your Arrow 2 – Finished!

March 2, 2015

You’ve seen this project in countless stages now, watching it come together clue by clue.  Honestly, I’ve gone back and forth on how I feel about it.  I was skeptical about the yarn, then loved it.  I enjoyed the clues, but didn’t like how they were coming together.  I was ready to abandon the whole […]

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