Tuesday, March 31, 2009

knit 2, purl 2, sip 1

knitting lends itself well to both the solitary and the social. you can certainly relax at home with nothing but cables for company or take the show on the road and share stitches with a few friends. being such a versatile craft, knitting attracts all kinds of people with all sorts of interests. that's why you'll see knitting groups popping up just about everywhere. for the literati, there are knit-lit nights where you can loop-the-loop and discuss the latest bestseller. the sports minded bind-off in the bleachers of baseball games at area stitch and pitch events. ravelry is overrun with groups of knitters whose common thread ranges from favorite fiber to tonight's television watching.

but it isn't always about the theme, sometimes it is just the "togetherness." and there is nothing that brings people together like a little tipple. mix together a love of knitting and a double-hop i.p.a. or a crisp california white wine and you get this new book: pints and purls: portable projects for the social knitter. co-authored by karida collins and libby bruce, it is full to the brim with cute, creative projects that are perfect for a knit night out. this chickadee got a little taste of what is inside at the homespun yarn party, where karida had an advanced copy on display at her neighborhood fiber co. booth. many of her yummy yarns were used in the book and if you haven't yet checked them out, you owe yourself the pleasure.

want to find out what's on tap? here's what the editors had to say:
Recipes for tasty cocktails and delicious hors d’oeuvres are not the only things that you’ll find in Pints and Purls. For the social knitter who likes to have one drink (or a few!), there are a variety of portable projects such as drink cozies and soft scarves that feature simple-to-follow patterns, plus tips and tricks for fixing mistakes should you have a bit too much while knitting. The pocket size and quick-to-knit projects are perfect for the knitter on the go.
if the "happy hour cappy" or the "barfly pullover" sound like your sort of projects, you can meet up with other like-minded knitters at a tangled skein in hyattsville, md on april 4th for a 5pm book launch/signing/sampling. click here for more details about the event.

if you miss out on this one, be on the look out for another potable purling party at knit happens in alexandria, va.

Monday, March 30, 2009

birth and taxes

benjamin franklin must have been a bit of a pessimist. sure, death is certain too...but from this chickadee's perch it looks like the birds and the bees are getting along just fine. maybe my friends are just looking for a way to get some sweet little handknits? the pitter-patter of tiny feet around their homes means the clicking and clacking of knitting needles around here.

this is the pinwheel sweater pattern from shirley mackie. available in a child and adult version, it is knit almost completely in the round, starting from the center back. the yarn used, universal classic worsted tapestry, complemented the circular construction by changing colors and making stripes all on its own. it took about a skein and half to complete the chickadee version of the child size, with a little left over that could be used to make booties (this one differs a bit from the original, the loopy edge was omitted and a little liberty was taken with the sleeves). the trickiest part of the otherwise straightforward pattern was the sleeve join. a link from ravlery lead me to this post, which is a must read if you are thinking of casting on.

now it is time to take care of those taxes...

Monday, March 23, 2009

spring chickadee

this chickadee has a serious case of spring fever. dangerous if left untreated, it is best to nip it in the bud (pardon the pun) lest it persist and threaten productivity for the whole season. so there will be a little blog break this week while we manufacture some vitamin d and recharge the batteries. xo.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

so happy together

friend, blogger and fellow knitter christy of knitting pretty in dc has had a big week. not only did she study for and successfully complete the GREs, she also managed to publish a new knitting pattern. the "it all comes together" beret is her stellar sophomore effort.

you might remember her first foray into pattern writing, the perfectly delightful prettybird neckwarmer. not long after its release, it joined the chickadee cast-on club and the results were pretty indeed.

for the beret, this chickadee got a jump on the competition and gladly accepted an offer to be a test knitter. it look less than one skein of the alpaca yarn company's glimmer to make this jaunty cap. the sprinkle stitch that makes up the body of the beret sparkled with flecks of gold that were spun right into the yarn. the chapeau's crowning glory are the rows of reverse stockinette that make up the very middle. a joy to knit and a pleasure to wear, you'll want to add "it all comes together" to your knitting queue too.

way to go christy! can't wait for lots more lovely knits and purls from knitting pretty in dc.

Friday, March 20, 2009

sweet painted lady

after two months and multiple trips to local stores in search of more yarn to match, the chickadee version of the lady eleanor stole (from the interweave press book scarf style) is finally finished! just in time for warmer weather (sigh) but no matter. even if it can't be worn out, it still looks lovely draped over the back of the sofa. and drape it does. the original thought was to make something a bit smaller than the original pattern, but in the end the entrelac was too rapturous to resist.

it measures 20"x75" (before blocking) which is slightly skinnier and a little longer than the pattern projected. but there were some liberties taken with gauge. i liked the way that it looked on size 9 needles so much better than the 10 1/2 needles it called for. so size 9 it was. worked with noro kureyon worsted weight yarn, the 9's created a warm, dense fabric with lots of depth. and the colors! like a mixed berry pie, bursting with brilliant purples and pinks. yum.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

mama's got a brand new bag

time to meet another new addition to the chickadee line-up. these knitting project bags were stitched up especially for the homespun yarn party. they are a great way to transport your project and prevent snags or slipped stitches.

measuring 9"x11", they can comfortably cradle a small project like socks or something that you've just started working on. there's a handle for easy transport and a tie at the top to keep it all together. and since the sack is reversible, you can switch it around to match your mood or the current colorway you are knitting with.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

loop love

a little while back, this chickadee flew up to philadelphia for the day. on the list of things to do in a few short hours: visit loop, a knitting store on south street -- it would have also been great to visit their sister store spool (which is right next door) but it was closed that day. loop is a darling store with shelves overflowing with all sorts of yarns in so many colors. plenty of temping projects were on display and draped over the comfortable sofas that were just calling for someone to sit down and knit. confronted with so many colorful choices, pressed for time to make it back before the beltway jammed, but determined not to walk out empty handed, the day's winner was one skein of noro kuryeon sock yarn.

this sublime skein went on to become the catch a wave shawl that you met earlier on this blog. now that very same shawl is featured in the most recent loop post. how flattering! thank you to the lovely folks over at loop. let's hope that our paths cross again very soon.

here's a snippet:

click on the pic to read the rest. and while you are at it, take a look around loop land. you'll love it for sure.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

homespun hangover

if i told you that there was a line to get in to the homespun yarn party on sunday, would you believe me? what if i told you that the line starting forming as the vendors were setting up...and grew so long that it snaked around the halls of savage mill out to the parking lot? this is the absolute truth. and it was an amazing site to behold. a whole host of (mostly) women mad about fiber lined up at the starting gates like the ponies at the preakness, ready to run to the stall of their favorite sheep and snatch up three bags full of wool.

it was the event of the season for anyone with itchy stitchy fingers. you just had to be there...and if you were, and you stopped by the chickadee both...it was very nice to meet you. many thanks for your support. extra special thanks go out again to my extra special family for bravely stepping foot into a venue where the majority of the people were wearing handmade socks.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

see ewe there!

don't forget about the homespun yarn party... today! sunday march 15th, from noon-5pm at savage mill. the chickadee crew is flying up there right now!

Friday, March 13, 2009

portable pocket

pining for a place to stash those stitch holders? need a nest for your needles? time to find a tote for your tape measure? never fear, this chickadee's new portable zip pocket is here!

not only do knitters collect copious amounts of yarn, they also accumulate all sorts of accessories. having them close at hand is important for proper project completion...and it also prevents time spent searching for scissors and stitch markers. an 8" x 5" fully lined pouch, the portable zip pocket can accommodate all sorts of necessary notions.

meet the newest addition to the chickadee line-up on sunday at the homespun yarn party (noon-5pm).

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

misty water colored memories

nothing new to show you today, as this chickadee is a bit behind in preparation for the homespun yarn party. instead, here's a little bit more about last week's trip. an interested reader wrote in and asked about the names of the stores that i saw when out in santa monica.

the first stop was a mano yarn center in venice. a nice little bike ride along the strand from santa monica and a short jaunt along venice boulevard brought me to this shop. (it took a while for me to figure out that the name, a mano, means by hand. maybe the sun made the brain work slow) a mano is a small store but stocked to the gills with all sorts of yarns. you'll see some of that yarn soon, after it is put to good use...

(oops, forgot to take pictures inside. see their website)

the next day brought new adventures, including a hike to wildfiber, located several blocks into downtown santa monica. it was worth the walk! a roomy store stocked from floor to ceiling with all sorts of lovely fibers. they boast a comprehensive selection of koigu, plus lots of cottons for spring knitting. there's no chance of walking out of this place empty handed.

last, but certainly not least, was the urban craft center on main street in santa monica. for more on this shop, click over to hello craft for the feature.

stash baskets

it was with the homespun yarn party in mind that this chickadee whipped up a new batch of bowls. knitters are well known for their inability to control themselves when it comes to fancy fibers, and hardly a knitter out there knows what to do with all of that "must-have" yarn. enter the chickadee bowl patrol, a handy place to heap your overflowing collection of handspun. some of these bowls grew to unusually large size, so they'd be the perfect basket for super bulky weight yarn. see them sunday!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

snap shots

it is all systems go here at chickadee central as we amp up production for this sunday's homespun yarn party. hopefully, by the end of the week, we'll have stocked up on several new products to suit the needs of knitters. while we continue to work on our mad dash to the finish, have a look at some photos from the trip:

the last leg of the trip was spent by the sea in santa monica. not only are there awesome ocean vistas, there are several local yarn, fabric and craft stores to check out. hopefully there will be a chance to talk more about those places later, as they all had a wonderful selection and sweet, helpful salespeople. it is a wonder that i was able to limit myself to one little bag of goodies.

Monday, March 9, 2009

catch a wave

seemingly endless hours of travel both in the car and on a plane might sound like murder to most people, but for this chickadee, it is an opportunity to knit non-stop. the noro kureyon sock yarn that left the house coiled up tightly in a ball returned in the shape of a shoulder hugging shawl. just one skein was used to make my version of this wavy wrap, another pattern found on ravelry. (you lucky non-ravelers can also find sarah bradberry's endlessly adjustable instructions for her feather and fan shawl online here)

the pattern is perfect for any type of yarn, from the thinnest lace-weight to the woolliest worsted. just use the appropriate needle for your yarn selection and repeat the working section of the pattern until you've made enough waves...or, in my case, until you run out of yarn. variegated yarn stripes-up superbly but solids or semi-solids would look lovely as well.

Friday, March 6, 2009

on the road again...

like a band of gypsies we went down the highway...leaving las vegas with slot machines still ringing in our ears and enough second hand smoke in our lungs to last a lifetime. what to do on a 4+ hour drive through desert? if you are anything like this chickadee, you find that it is the perfect time to start another knitting project!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

one-armed bandit beret

of course you know that no cross-country trip would ever be attempted without some sort of craft tagging along. thankfully, knitting travels well and provides plenty of opportunity to pass the time on the plane and in various stolen moments off of the strip.

the spring beret by natalie larson (available as a ravelry download) was just the thing to bring. begun just after take-off and bound off before you can say "all-you-can-eat buffet," it came in quite handy when the sun went to sleep and its warmth deserted the desert. made with malabrigo worsted, it feels and looks springy. it is just the right amount of warmth for a little chill and looks forward to the coming season like the crocus. no modifications were made to the original pattern, although personal gauge might have made my version a bit smaller.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

spin city

this chickadee has flown the coop for a few days. first stop, fantastical las vegas, nevada to drop a couple of coins in the slot machines and stare at the spectacle that is sin city. always on a mission to unearth the independent spirit, the corners of the casinos were searched high and low for some kind of sign that craft was alive and well amidst the all the commercial glitz and glimmer.

it was a sign alright...