2.28.2010

Acrylic yarns, the good, bad and the ugly, and some vintage crochet afghan patterns

Your weak points are your strengths run amok. This is especially true for acrylic yarns. But it goes both ways.

Good or Bad?  You decide….

Indestructible = Still in use after 30 years, ah the memories, and now we can resale them as vintage

Wide range of colors = Not always good color choices, or remember what we thought looked good together, arugh….

Scratchy and cheap = great dish scrubbies, and car window bug scrubbers

Machine wash and dry = Hey, spill on it, abuse it, like Mike Tyson says it’s asking for it

Non-allergenic = no animal fibers, unless you get a wool blend

Can be blended with any natural fiber = results in the best of both worlds

I was recently at a family members house and saw an afghan that I had crocheted when I was in collage. (yes it was till surviving, although in rather a sad pilly form).

granny squares

I learned to crochet in grade school, but didn’t start making afghans until I was in high school. My first was a country blue one, in a ripple stitch. I had decided I wanted one big enough to cover a queen size bed, for when I got married. Well I bought 18 skeins of 8 oz acrylic yarn and got started, I did finish it and actually used it when I did get married. It was so big and heavy it slid off the bed all by itself, it had a life of its own. I washed and dried it and used it, until I could stand the color anymore and gave it to Goodwill.

I was so proud of this huge creation, it started me on a marathon of crochet afghans that was both loved and hated.  It was the perfect gift in my mind. No matter what the event, just adjust the size!  I made one (smaller) for everyone that got married, or had a baby (even smaller). My favorite easy baby blanket pattern.

I know, for some knitters acrylic is a dirty word. Synthetic knitting yarn is made from coal or petroleum products. Types of synthetic knitting yarn include acrylic, nylon, polyester, spandex, and polypropylene.  Acrylic yarn can be rough, scratchy, or squeaky, but not all acrylic’s are bad. They are not the same yarns that we remember from the 70’s, that burnt orange and avocado green afghan that is still in the basement.

acrylic yarn

I admit  I still use natural fibers almost exclusively, and there are so many new ones out there to get excited about, but that is another blog post. But there are very much improved manmade blends out there.  I urge you to get out there and take a look at some of the new acrylic yarns and their blends. Just stop past and feel some in your local craft chain stores. Squish them and see what you think.

I’m currently destashing and as a result I am knitting scarves out of my acrylics and my friends are getting them.  They seem to love them, and want those, instead of “wool” ones.

When you use acrylic yarns, use good ones, (look at the cost, remember what your mother taught you is true, you get what you pay for). If you have bought one and it is terrible to knit with (squeaky is bad), don’t continue, stop and look for a better quality yarn. Listen to your hands and the needles. If your finished project won’t feel or look good. It is not worth you time.

I like to use acrylic yarn for baby blankets, or a fine acrylic and wool blend, this allows for great wear and ease of care. The other items are scarves and  pet blankets. No worries if you spill, well anything on you item. The durability and ease of care is a great plus, especially for infants. I have even had a neighbor bleach a baby afghan that I gave her after an especially heinous leakage occurred. I think it was made of Red Heart, and it came out fine, the color didn’t even change. She REALLY loved that.

I am still amazed at the people that “hate” wool, most of my family, friends and co-workers. They can’t understand why anyone would knit with wool. I guess they remember that band uniform, that hot scratchy, heavy, ugly thing, (oops some band memories I forgot), and those poor people that are allergic to wool, (but now, happily, for any that are allergic there are so many new “natural” fibers to pick from).  script-ohio

After a lot of trial and error, the below are my recommendations. These are based on using them for afghans and scarves, which get a lot of heavy wear, and washing. All of the below yarns are worsted weight unless noted otherwise.

SOFT ACRYLICS…

-Red Heart Soft and Caron Simply Soft- Feels nice and soft, has a good selection of colors, and a subtle sheen, may not hold up well if you are using it to knit, can get “ploopy”, and limp, or loose its shape”,  after washing.  Nice if you want something with “drape”. But I use these two for crochet, since crochet is thicker and sturdier than knitting.  I DO recommend these for Amgurumi crochet. Free Amgurumi bear tutorial here.  If you are a Red Heart lover, there is even a Ravelry Red Heart Group.

There are acrylics that are described as “super fine”, usually a blend of acrylic and nylon, when I first found these I was surprised. They are a good option, low to medium price and nice feel.

GOOD OPTION FOR KNITTING

-Berroco Comfort-ultra-soft blend of Super Fine Acrylic and Super Fine Nylon. This seems to be a magical combo, great colors, feels great and good wear. Close to my holy grail. Soft, yet does not bag, after a period of time.

-Caron Simply Soft Eco-this yarn is made with recycled plastic bottles, and somehow gives us the best of all worlds, soft, good color range, and body. Super easy care and pleasant to work with.

-Patons Canadiana Yarn- This yarn has been out there for years, soft feel, holds up, great color choice. Good price.

-Lion Brand Wool-Ease, acrylic/wool (generally 80/20) blend, easy care, soft, feels good knitting it, good color range.  (I have noticed that this can pill after numerous washings.  Machine washing and drying over and over. Maybe not suited to a baby blanket, but great for a scarf) I give this yarn high marks.

So get out there and start feeling some yarn, pick some up and squosh it. I think you will be surprised.

In memory of those afghans, here are some of those patterns that some of us remember…there may even be one in your basement, attic or grandma’s house.

Big Granny Square Afghan

Granny Square Traditional  this link is from Bev’s Country Cottage and has just about any granny square answer you need (usually made out of scrap yarn, all colors)

Navajo Afghan

Popcorn Ripple

Ripple stripe

Granny’s Flowers

Star Shell

Jacob’s Ladder

2.25.2010

The hat worn by Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn as she won the gold medal in Vancouver at the 2010 Olympic Games

I've been wondering if someone has this pattern! When Lindsey won the gold, we were all excited. As knitters we were glued to the screen, looking at her hat!
Sorry pattern is not longer available due to Olympic committee see link if you want more info
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-06-22/why-the-u-dot-s-dot-olympic-committee-cracked-down-on-a-knitting-group

http://picasaweb.google.com/belgianwaffle/Waffleknits#slideshow/5440351034956179602

Thanks to belgianwaffleknit at My Waffle House blog we can now knit that cute hat worn by Lindsey Vonn!
Ravelry link here
Check out her blog
Now go knit your hat, even if you don’t ski!
hat 006

2.24.2010

Wouldn't you like to be knitting here....

2010 Olympic Light Display- Vancouer

I'm sitting here knitting on my olympic reindeer/moose hat pattern by by Helena Bristow , see ravelry for free download!http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/olympic-reindeer-hat
Enjoy the games, and get your knitting out!

2.23.2010

Featured Etsy Blogger

TiLt Creations is a creative gal with 2 Etsy shops and check out her blogs, here and here.

She is a stay at home mom of a 14 and 4 year old boy. She sews and creates whenever possible. Her creations are all made by hand. Please take your time and browse around.
Visit her Tilt Too shop here on etsy for some supply destash.

Of course, knitter that I am, my theory is you can’t have too many bags. I really like her bags of all sizes, whether you knit or just need a bag to carry back and forth to work she has a large variety at reasonable prices.

My favorites include:

Wristlet Pouch in Patchy Print $25.00 usd

wristlet

I think this would be good to store my knitting necessities, it is small enough to carry with me, so I don’t get stuck at work, crafting a paper clip into a yarn sewing needle. (which does work in an emergency)

Wristlet with Bracelet in Olive Mock Reptile $20.00 usd

croco

A bangle wristlet, good for holding just what you need to dash out somewhere, dressy enough to take on a serious night out.

Large Tote in Tropical Iota Pebbles with Pink and Green, Hand Painted $50.00

tote

My favorite, I could pack everything I need in here to travel to work, lunch, knitting and a book. Still looking fabulous and organized. And I like the bright colors this time of year, it makes me think spring is on the way.

Shop around she has all types of bags, purses and backpacks. Also don’t forget her Destash shop if you need to pick up some fabric or patterns.

2.18.2010

Lace patterns that make me go ahhhh

Here are some free face patterns from fabulous knitters.

Woman-Knitting Woman Knitting by Martin Driscoll

Aeolian Shawl pattern from Knitty

From Subversive Knitting, her pattern Aunt Phebe’s Comfort Shawl

I like the Column of Leaves lace scarf pattern from Brooke, see her on Ravelry

Sticks and Circuits has this beautiful Raindrop Shawl

At Elann.com by Shui Kuen Kozinski this Lacewing Shawl, elegant.

From Knitty the Laminaria shawl by Elizabeth Freeman

All beautiful

Enjoy some lace knitting while we wait for spring

2.17.2010

Winter dream vacation

007 From this…..

If you could take some time off, now, and go anywhere, where would that be?

I think this time of year Jan-Feb is when I want to escape and find some warm sunny spot to enjoy. We have moderate winter temps (in the 30-40’s most of the time). Which is nice, but also means rain, clouds and mud. Rare are the days that we see sun, and then sometimes just 15 min or so. I am seriously thinking about investing in a light therapy box. (on a side note, anyone have one of these? recommendations? thoughts?)

If we could take off, I would plan a trip, just long enough, 10 days to really unwind. We love to camp and connect with the outdoors, so I think camping. Location?  Believe it or not, we are on a  Somewhere sunny and warmer, hummmm…..

Got it! Big Sur, California! Their winter camping is  one of Big Surs' best kept secrets. The weather is perfect for hiking, not too hot or cold. I love brisk nights. California Condors are flying overhead throughout Big Sur. Humpback and Blue whales are feeding along Big Sur. December and January: the gray whale migrates south to Mexico. February is the quietest month when you would have the beaches and the forest to yourself, what a perfect Valentines Day trip.

The name "Big Sur" is derived from the original Spanish-language "el sur grande", which translates as "the big south", or from "el paĆ­s grande del sur", "the big country of the south". And so it seemed to early settlers in Monterey. The coastal area to their south was huge and unexplored, and its coastline was especially treacherous to ships.

Some people assume that Big Sur is a state or national park. Though there are state parks in Big Sur, including two with the word "Sur" in their names, they cover only a small fraction of the Big Sur region of the central California coast, and much of what there is to see and do in Big Sur is not in any of the state parks

Lots of hiking in the area

hiking big surTo this…

2.15.2010

Olympic knitting patterns

016

I don’t know maybe it is just me, but there just wasn’t enough knitwear in the opening ceremonies to satisfy me! Of course we are in the middle of a blizzard with high winds. I’m bundled up on the sofa with my DH watching the nations enter with their flags was beautiful. Yes, the outfits were great, nice colors, and patterns. I saw a few sweaters, mostly hats and mittens, But I wanted to see some serious knitwear, that looked “real” (hand knit), and soft, like I wanted to touch it and bury my face in the warmth of it. I didn’t see enough, but here are my favorites.

When I think of the opening ceremony for the winter Olympics  I want to see some serious sweaters! Something like Dale of Norway. Here is the link for the Norwegian delegation sweater pattern. Of course they know how to make great sweaters. Check out some Ravelry knitters results here, here,and here for your sweater fix.(oops more, and more) Now that we all agree that Dale of Norway knows how to do inspirational knit patterns.

OK now I feel like, thanks to many Ravelry knitters I have my sweater fix taken care of, onward. I loved the Canadian mittens, pattern available here for $5.00 [rav link], here is a hat [rav link $5.00] that looks like it matches the mittens on Ravelry. Here are some Canadian mittens (free download) that have the red maple leaf design, very nice.  These mittens (free download) were designed to coordinate with official gear worn by Canadians, very nice, I have never knitted, what I think of as a Nordic design, this looks like a perfect intro project into the pattern. You want some mini Olympic mittens? Here is a free download of some mini size red mittens, sporting the Olympic logo and a maple leaf, knit them for a child's bear or hang them on your car mirror to show your support.

If your a sock knitter, and who isn’t this is a free download for Olympic Flame socks

 

Vancouver Olympics Opening Ceremony

Andorra had sweaters! I didn’t even know where that was! You can buy the sweaters or the hats here, although I believe if you take a look at Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting Around book, you can make them, or something near it. Or this classic book Norwegian Hand knits: Heirloom Designs from Vesterheim Museum, if your heart is yearning for a challenge.

andoora

Thanks to Monaco for treating us to these lovely sweaters with some nice looking men.

monoco sweater

But as I sat and wishing for some good knits, I  saw the USA hat! I thought it was perfect and loved it! (Of course I’m still in my hat knitting marathon) Although it is designed by Ralph Lauren and you can buy one for $65.00 here

413183_M20

OR Look here for the pattern free on Ravelry if you need to knit this hat! Thanks to Helena Bristow owner of Cleverknits.com, for making this available to us!! Moose or reindeer? ( There is some debate about whether these are reindeer or moose. Ralph calls them moose, but several antler-experts say reindeer) I love them either way. Thanks Helena!!

What do you think they look like?
moose
reindeer
 
pollcode.com free polls
hat usahat

So get out your knitting needles and cast on something warm, even if it isn’t Olympic proportions.

027 

2.14.2010

Have a Berry Good Valentines Day

007

I had to work on Valentines day, but my husband cooked up some great cobbler!

I thought I would share his recipe and send some berry good love to you!

Berry Good Cobbler

2 cups fresh blueberries

1 cup fresh blackberries

1 cup fresh raspberries

1 t vanilla

1/2 lemon juiced

1 cup natural sugar

4 T flour

1 T butter

1 3/4 cup white flour + 1/4 whole wheat flour

4 t baking powder

6 T sugar

5 T butter (yes the real thing)

1 1/4 cup milk

2 T sugar

several pinches cinnamon

Grease an 8 inch square baking dish. Place the berries into the dish and mix with vanilla and lemon juice. Sprinkle with 1 cup of sugar and 4 T flour, toss very lightly. Stir in the T of melted butter. Set aside.

In a bowl, stir together the white and whole wheat flour, baking powder, and 6 T sugar. Cut in the 5 T of butter using a fork. Make a well in the center and quickly stir in the milk. Mix until just moistened, The batter should be very thick, like a wet dough. Let this rest for 10 min.

Preheat over to 375 degrees F, spoon the batter over the berries, leaving a few small holes for the berries to peer through. Mix together the cinnamon 2 T sugar and sprinkle over top.

Bake for 20 to 25 min or until top is golden brown. A knife inserted into the topping should come out clean.

Let cool before serving, but serve warm.

Of course I think ice cream is a necessity!

Enjoy!

010

Happy Valentines Day!


E. Z. heart, originally uploaded by staceyjoy.

Love is the thing that enables a woman to sing while she mops up the floor after her husband has walked across it in his barn boots

Now go hug someone!

2.10.2010

Spinning the blues away

During the grey rainy days of winter here. I have found one of the best activities that chases the blues away is spinning.

With not much energy to think about a big project, spinning is a mindless, and rewarding activity.

Here is my girlfriend spinning, this is her first try on a wheel. She is a master at the spindle. So it was no surprise that in one day she spun about 4 oz of a mixed batt up.

004 Spinning with her hat made of spindle spun.

005 Before

009 After

This came out beautiful!!

I’m working on spinning some persimmon roving from Paradise Fibers.

I actually got a lace shawl out of the corner of my closet and started on it again.

Get your knitting needles out and get going.

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