Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Stole My Thunder :-\

If you noticed my sidebar lately, I made a change. I added a "works in progress" list. In that list is the Lady Eleanor "Scarf". I had a brilliant idea to take the Lady Eleanor pattern from Scarf Style and turn it into a skinny version, which would make a great, fashionable scarf. I thought that this was my brilliant idea to share with the world. Until I saw this. Instead of stole my thunder, maybe I should say scarf my thunder... ok, it's not funny.

Anyway, I'm knitting the scarf with just one color - Patons SWS in the colorway Natural Earth. Which is a great combination of colors to go with almost any sweater or coat I pull out of my closet.

As I'm knitting, I'm just so impressed with how well the yarn's name fits its color - the spectrum of browns and greys that make up soil, running into the blues, reds, and ambers of a sunset, all pulled together with the greens of a vibrant forest. I looked down while I was knitting and had to take a picture of the skein as it unveiled the rainbow of colors.

Side note - I WILL put up the second half of the double-sided knitting tutorial. I just thought I'd give you some more time to practice!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Blog's Namesake

Winter had finally arrived in Boston! We had unbelievably cold weather the past week. While I hate being cold, I love bundling up in soft sweaters and puffy coats. So, that's just what I did yesterday as I headed out for a walk in the arboretum. It was time to photograph some of the Winter Foliage! Enjoy

Hope you spent some time this weekend in front of a toasty fire!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Best Kept Secrets

The internet constantly amazes me. As we all know, there is just so much information out there, and it is truly a skill to conduct a quality search for information. I haven't checked lately, but I really hope that kids are learning how to conduct successful searches. This can replace lessons on using the card catalogs in the library.** It's both frustrating and rewarding to do weeks of research and just when you're at your wits' end you find the golden nugget!

For me, one of those great finds is Knit Picks Yarn Sellers. This website sells quality yarns at unbelievable prices!
Seriously. Superwash sock yarn for $3.50 a skein (230 yards!), 100% Merino DK weight for `2.75, 100% Merino sport weight for $1.99. Yes - $1.99. I still can't get over my amazement. I placed my first order two weeks ago and am still giddy about the amount of yarn I received for $20. Bonus - if you place an order over $45 you receive free shipping. Can it get any better?!

Oh yes, and here's what I've accomplished with my new purchase:

A food secret: Vanilla Icecream and Almond Butter are a match made in heaven. Try it.

**I LOVE card catalogs. All of the little drawers. I dream of having one and filling it with fun stuff. There has to be a card catalog looking for a home.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Surprise Projects

I have two surprises in the works. Since I want them to stay that way, I can't blog about them and it may drive me crazy! Particularly since I've only worked on the surprises for the past couple of days. So without them, I have little to say. I may just give you a peak of one and let your imaginations run wild!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Relaxing Weekend in the Snow!

I went to New Hampshire for the weekend with some friends. It was great to be away in the cold and snow. They did the skiing and I did some knitting!

I used my purple alpaca yarn from christmas to knit the small version of the Counterpane Carpet Bag from Handknit Holidays by Melanie Falick. I finished both sides of the bag over the weekend, I just have to block them and put it together! I want to pick a jazzy printed fabric for the lining.

For how intricate the scallops look, this is a fairly easy pattern. I would recommend using stitch markers because it can be difficult to keep track of the repeats without counting and recounting what you've done.

I've ooh and ahhed over this book for about a year before I finally bought it. The book is full of fun and interesting projects. I see myself knitting many of them in the future. The beautiful photography in the book may be the cause of this need to knit. For example, "If I knit the afghan on page 94, will I be standing in a beautiful barn all nice and cozy? or If I knit the thigh high socks on page 85 will my calves look that skinny?". I doubt it, but I will keep dreaming as I turn the pages.

Between knitting, I took a beautiful and chilly walk to this frozen site:

Friday, January 19, 2007

Double Knitting Tutorial!

ETA: I wanted to give a big thank you to everyone that has used this tutorial, shared it with others, and given. I'm so happy that you've found it helpful, and I would thank you each personally if I could. If you have completed a double knitting project after seeing this tutorial - share a link to it in the comments, I would love to see your work! 

I have received some anonymous questions in the comments that I can't respond to individually, so I thought I would put the answers here (they might be helpful to others?). 

1. If you're going to use a pattern that calls for double knitting, you shouldn't have to change any of the numbers in that pattern (for example the number of cast-on stitches), they should have already (hopefully) taken that into account when writing the pattern. 

2. There was some confusion when I said purl or knit "every other stitch" below. You won't skip any stitches, just switch back and forth between the stitches. In other words: when you are working a row, you will end up working every stitch, you will purl one, knit one, purl one, etc. Hopefully that helps! 

Finally ~ I've created a new blog, Seasoned, with my sister, and if you like any of the work I've done on Winter Foliage, I think you'll like the new space. Please come over and check it out! 

I've been encouraging a lot of people to try double knitting. There might be some other good resources on the web, but I like the process of double knitting so much that I decided to put together a tutorial. I took pictures (A LOT OF PICTURES) for each of the main steps, and I'm going to write up a small description of the process. If you have any questions or need clarification, let me know.

This is going to be a two part tutorial. The first part covers basic double knitting. The second part will incorporate a design by switching the colors to create a design. I'll post part 2 early next week.

I'm writing this with the assumption that you're making a scarf or other flat item,

--Decide upon the number of stitches for your scarf. You're going to cast on twice the number of stitches plus 1. For example, if you want a scarf that's 15 stitches wide, cast on 31 stitches. (I'm using only 19 stitches for this example).

For this example, I'm using one light and one dark color. I choose to cast on with the dark color and use an odd number of stitches so that i start and end each row with the dark color, as you'll see, this produces a dark end on all sides of the item.

--First Row--

Knit the first stitch, and every other stitch using the dark color.

Add the lighter color by just tying it between the first and second stitches. You'll weave in the end of this yarn when you're finished.

Bring both the dark and light yarn to the front of the work. You will now purl the next stitch and every other stitch with the light yarn.

**Important - whenever purling a stitch, make sure that both yarns are brought to the front (as in the above picture). Whenever knitting a stitch, make sure that both yarns are brought to the back of the piece(as in the next picture).

Continue knitting and purling everyother stitch until the end of the row. When you look at your needle, every other stitch should be the lighter color and the row should begin and end with a dark stitch:

--Second Row--

At the end of each row, the yarns have to be wrapped (this keeps the two sides of the piece together). I do this by taking the dark yarn and bringing it under the light yarn before starting the next row.

For the second row, you will purl all of the dark stitches and knit all of the light stitches. **And remember that when purling, you should move both yarns to the front of the piece and when knitting you should move each of the yarns to the back of the piece.

After a couple of rows, you should begin to see the development of the two sides:

End of part one! Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Christmas Loot!

I'm finally back in Boston after a month of vacation! I spent the evening organizing and reorganizing in an attempt to get ready for school. I have some major work to do on my stash of yarn. I realized that I have a lot of yarn that I know I won't use. Most of it is partial skeins, so I think I'm going to donate it to the ladies I knit with! Plus, I received such great gifts of yarn, that I have plenty to keep me busy:

Blue Sky Alpaca: 100% Alpaca, sport weight. Two skeins of grape, one of oatmeal, one of green.

Ironstone Yarns: Harmony Yarn, 100% wool. Two skeins of green.

Rio de la Plata: Hand spun, 100% Wool. One skein lavender, one skein dark purple.

I also realized while organizing that I have to do a better job of documenting my projects - keeping track of everything from yarn and needles, to pattern modifications and final notes. I have a great notebook just for this purpose, I just. have. to. open. it!

Here are the promised shots of my needle case:
The case is now filled with needles. I didn't want to put too many in for the picture, to not hide the beauty of the case:-D.

And finally, my feet are happy with my new socks (also knitted from some gift yarn!).

Tomorrow's the start of a new semester!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Quality Handmade Gifts are the BEST!

Last night I exchanged gifts with my craftiest of crafty friends Nikki. I was blown away by the gift she gave me, and my pictures don't do it justice!

The full gift included: a large tote bag (with many pockets!), a smaller bag for stitch markers and other gadgets, a knitting needle case, two balls of green wool, and a big bag of buttons. I already have a project in mind for the yarn, it involves felting and a brand new pattern that exists only in my mind. I'm so excited about my growing button collection. While I want to keep my supply of craft materials to a minimum (until I have my own house with a craft room!), I've needed a lot of buttons lately and have wished that I had some on hand. Now I do!

I can't post a picture the needle case justice until I fill it with my needles, so that picture will come in a few days.

Needless to say, I think she put my gifts to shame! Look for her kicka$$ line of totes in a shop near you.

I'm almost done with my own pair of falling leaf socks, so until they are completed I leave you with this silhouette of the socks:

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Busy as a Beaver!

I think I'm in the midst of an end-of-break craft crunch. I know I have a serious semester of school work ahead of me, so I'm working hard (and having fun!) to get my fill of crafting and baking.

I happily learned that my brother and sister love biscotti, and since I love baking it, we have a perfect match!

The basic biscotti recipe I use:
-Cream together 1 stick butter and 3/4 cup sugar
-Mix in 3 eggs, 1 at a time
-Add 1 tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp almond extract, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1/4 tsp salt
-Add 3 cups flour, 1 cup at a time
-Add 1.5 cups ground (or coursely chopped, your choice) toasted almonds
**there are many options for spicing up this recipe - see below**

-Preheat oven to 350F
-Shape into a rectangle 1 inch high and about 4 inches wide
-Bake for 20-25 minutes
-Let cool for about 5 minutes
-Slice into 1 inch wide pieces
-Bake on one side for 10 minutes, flip and bake for an additional 10 minutes

My brother was into candy bar varieties this year, so this is what I came up with:

Almond Joy Version

-Add 3/4 cup toasted coconut to the batter
-Once completely cooled, dip in melted chocolate chips and sprinkle with more coconut

Peanut Butter Cup Version
-Add 3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter to the basic recipe.
-Reduce the almonds to 3/4 cup (and I use coursely chopped nuts)
-Once completely cooled, dip in melted chocolate chips

Chunky Chocolate Chips and Nuts (pictured above)
-Keep the almonds coursely chopped (I even added a few whole almonds)
-Add 3/4 cups chocolate chips to the batter

In crafting news:
I'm helping my sister to complete some cosmetic bags for her friends. I love the combinations of buttons she used to decorate the bags!

I have more to post, but I'll let you bake some biscotti first!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Do you understand my wish for a merry Christmas?

My vaca to Colorado was great - full of wonderful people, food, and weather! The whole visit was a lot of fun! I look like a giant on skis:

While out there, I received many gifts of great yarn to add to my stash:
-Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn in the Martha's Vineyard Colorway- already being knit into a pair of falling leaf socks for myself.
-Blue Skies Alpalca - in purple, green, and tan. I'd like to turn this into a soft, wintry hat. Possibly Brooklyntweed's Red Light Special.
-Light and dark purple new wool - I'm still thinking of a project for these.

I also bought a beautiful knitting book that is full of pictures of both knitted swatches and nature shots, called The Art of Knitting.

Finally - one of my goals for 2007 - KNIT A SWEATER! I'm going to place an order for knit picks yarn as soon as I get back to Boston.

ps. Today is Russian Christmas, although with no snow on the east coast, it sure doesn't feel like it!