Brooklyn Tweed’s Fall 2015 Lookbook

Willamette Scarf from the Brooklyn Tweed Lookbook
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Brooklyn Tweed released their gorgeous Fall 2015 Lookbook today and it’s focused around one of my favorite things: The Pacific Northwest! Since they’ve moved their offices to Portland, I guess they’re feeling a bit inspired. I know the feeling.

The lookbook is beautiful and makes me want to pack up my needles and knit in Oregon somewhere.

Brooklyn Tweed's Quarry in Lazulite colorway

Brooklyn Tweed’s Quarry in Lazulite colorway

They have also released a new line of yarn: Quarry – a beautiful, bulky yarn that comes in the loveliest, earthy colorways! I’m a sucker for roving-style yarn and this one is sourced from Targhee-Columbia sheep in Wyoming, dyed in Philadelphia and spun in New Hampshire, keeping the process all in the US. It will definitely have a spot on my holiday wishlist!

Trying new things: Hand spinning yarn

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I began thinking about someday owning my own alpacas after John and I went to an alpaca farm / yarn shop while visiting my parents in Wimberley, TX. In this shop, they sold yarn spun from specific alpacas and each skein came with a little card of information about that alpaca. Yes, the yarn was lovely and soft, but it was actually those silly little cards and knowing the alpaca’s name that made me buy the yarn.

Before this, I only bought yarn based on how it felt and looked. After this, I started looking at the fiber content of the yarn I bought and I started reading books about fiber:

The Natural Knitter by Barbara Albright — I own this one and love it. Each fiber discussed is accompanied by a project that works well with it and the book has gorgeous full-color photos from cover to cover.

The Knitter’s Book of Yarn by Clara Parkes — This is one of the first fiber books I checked out from the library and it is JAM PACKED with information and super cute illustrations of animals.

Spinner’s Book of Fleece by Beth Smith — This one is only about sheep, but goes into great detail about many breeds of sheep and each breed is accompanied by knitted swatches of hand spun yarn made from that fleece. It’s a great way to visualize the differences between the different breeds.

*(These are affiliate links.)

I found Spinner’s Book of Fleece interesting because of the sheep and how each fleece could be so different. Spinning was on a list of things that I’d do if the opportunity ever arose but I wasn’t really looking to buy new gadgets for yet another hobby.

…And I already have enough yarn to last a lifetime.

When we helped out at Evan’s Knob Farm a couple of weeks ago, that opportunity to learn how to spin did arise. Kathy, the farm’s overlord (hehe), let me pick out some roving she had created from her flock of sheep and sat me down at her spinning wheel. That first night of spinning was a bit frustrating, but I kept at it for hours until it finally clicked.

My first attempt at spinning yarn on a wheel

My first attempt at spinning yarn on a wheel

And then I went back to it another night and finished this kinda gnarly but in its own way lovely skein of yarn.

After earning my “Hand Spinning Newbie” badge and my “Sort of Helped Shear a Sheep” badge, Kathy sent me home with a big bag of fleece!

When I got home, I ordered a drop spindle and some hand carders from The Woolery (these were a lot more pricey than I was expecting but I couldn’t find many cheaper hand carders on the web that didn’t look like someone had grabbed dog brushes and attempted to market them as hand carders).

Wool on a carder

My first time using hand carders. Look at those fluffy fibers!

The carders worked well, and I think I got the hang of carding pretty quickly. I carded 5 or 6 little batches and rolled them up into rolags.

Then I had to figure out how to use a top whorl drop spindle… Nothing that a little Googling couldn’t fix.

Hand spinning wool

Look, ma! More yarn!

I spent about two hours spinning the bits of wool that I’d carded. A little slow, but I still enjoyed it.

Yarn on a drop spindle

Two hours worth of yarn… phew!

I need to remember to put a cloth or something over my clothes the next time I spin. All of those little sheep fibers cling to my clothes!

If you’ve been into yarny crafts for a while but have never tried spinning, I’d suggest giving it a try. There’s a little learning curve but it’s no worse than the one for knitting or crocheting. Unless you buy fleece, you’ll only need a drop spindle (mine came with a niddy noddy and was less than $20 for both) and some roving to play with.

Let me know if you decide to try it! I’d love to see your first attempts!

Crochet Monday: Baby Stuff

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I just wanted to write a quick post today because I should be crocheting, rather than writing about crocheting. 🙂

I was asked by Amanda Kern, one of my teachers from college and now a partner in crime (haha!), whether I’d ever thought of opening an Etsy store to start selling any of the crafty bits I’d started to make. I had been considering it for a while, though I couldn’t really sell anything that I’d made thus far because I’d been following patterns that didn’t allow for the selling of the projects created with them.

She has been great so far, giving me ideas for new projects having to do with the baby photography scene. You can see some photographs she’s taken of newborns on her photostream. So, Friday night we went out and she graciously (and generously) bought yarns so I could get started on making baby hats for her photo shoots!
So, Friday night I started creating a little square hat. I even worked on it through the commercials and movie trailers when I went to see The Happening that night. (Great movie, by the way, if you like M. Night Shyamalan.)

Angel Hair Stripes

And yesterday, I went back to JoAnns and bought a couple more skeins of yarn and some cute little buttons that may adorn some future hats! They’re so cute. Button-buying could be addictive. :/

Buttons

Crochet Monday: Mostly pictures, not much progress.

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I don’t have too much to report on. I didn’t carve out very much time to work on my projects this week.

Totoro WIP

I have gotten much farther on my “secret” WIP, which I must finally unveil as being an amigurumi Totoro. I’m making him for my little sister (I think she’ll definitely catch on to what the surprise is when she sees the eyes I just sewed on). We grew up watching My Neighbor Totoro by Miyazaki because our grandfather, with no knowledge of anime or probably that the movie was originally in Japanese, bought us the Fox version of the movie on VHS. We watched that movie all the time. This stemmed an obsession of anime for years to come and an even bigger obsession of all things Totoro (and Miyazaki). We’re actually planning on getting matching tattoos of Satsuki and Mei (the older and younger sisters).

Totoro WIPThe movie is a big comfort to me. Sadly, I don’t own it because I don’t own a VHS player. The only English version of the movie that came out on DVD is the Disney version and they redubbed the voices. To me, the re-dubbing of the voices is bad but I’m probably biased because the Fox version was so much a part of my childhood. The inflection in the characters’ voices are all so different from the previous version. My sister and I were both disappointed. If anyone’s ever seen the Fox version, some of the random quotes my sister and I blurt out are, “I’m not stupid!!” and, with hands slapped together, “Hey look sis, I got one!”

I should probably just invest in a Japanese version of the movie and have it imported over to me.

Anyway, enough about Totoro.

Tiramisu Blanket WIP

I was able to crochet a couple rows of the Tiramisu blanket. So far, so good. (I know, it looks like a scarf at this point. So puny.) I am loving the red color of this yarn and the stitches are so soft. I can’t wait to finish this! I wish I wasn’t so easily distracted by the Internet and life. 😛 I could get more crocheting done!

SensationsLast but not least, a question. I was looking through my stash, taking pictures of a batch that I had ordered online a while ago but never took the time to take pictures of (for Ravelry). I bought this green Reflections yarn, thinking I would make myself a scarf with it. I enjoy making scarves but I honestly have no business wearing them here in Florida. So I was just wondering if anyone had any suggestions for a different project that might be better suited for this yarn. I have 2 skeins (164.0 yards/150.0 m).

Crochet Monday: Another scarf, a pouch, blanket and uh oh…

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So I had a pretty good weekend when it came to crochet. I finished a scarf, started and finished this Hundred Yen Pouch, bought enough yarn to start this Tiramisu baby blanket, and some extra yarn to… dun dun dun, try and learn to knit!

Scarf

ScarfI created this scarf with Lion Brand Landscapes yarn, just a simple single crochet stitch throughout the whole thing, except the little “window” where I used double crochet.

I think this is the first project I should block before called it “finished”. The “window” bows in from the rest of the scarf just a little bit. I’ve never had to block anything, sooo I guess we’ll see. I guess you need an iron for that though and an iron I do not own.

I love the way the scarf turned out though, blocking or not. Who knows when I’ll ever get to wear it. It gets cold enough for a scarf maybe a day or two out of the year here in Orlando.

Hundred Yen Pouch

100 Yen PouchI have trouble keeping my purses and totes organized, even with a couple pockets here and there, I’m always fishing for my keys. I was reading Imagine—Melissa needed a pouch to keep track of all of her yen while living in Japan. I thought it was so cute that I decided to make one for myself in a slightly larger size so I could keep my keys and chapstick in it. (Honestly, I wanted to put my little cellphone in there but was too lazy to check the dimensions of my phone while I was working on the pouch to size the whole project correctly. Shame on me…)

100 Yen PouchSo with the rest of my Landscapes yarn, I made my own Hundred Yen Pouch. It turned out great and was so easy to make, I want to make a few more. I’ve already gotten compliments on it from my family. (I think that means they want one. ;p)

Some in thinner yarns would be nice for this pattern, like the worsted weight Melissa used. And while I’m making things to compartmentalize my purse, maybe I could make a little cellphone holder. It’s going to get so scratched up in my bag with nothing to protect it. I’ll have to do some research and see how I should go about doing that.

Tiramisu Blanket

Since I’ve learned to crochet, I’ve been wanting to make a blanket so bad. I guess it’s the thought of being curled up in the corner of the couch, snuggled up and crocheting seems so nice.

Bernat SatinI noticed fairly recently that I seem to have a lot of red accents in my apartment, so I thought it would be nice to create the blanket in a dark red to help bring out those random accents.

I really like this yarn, it was pretty cheap. I got the last seven skeins they had left at Joanns. (Hopefully that should be enough.)

Knitting

I don’t know what it is, but since I’ve been crocheting and researching techniques, yarn, patterns, I’ve felt a bit left out when it came to certain websites or patterns. I would see something so cute and want to make it but alas, it was for knitters only!

Saturday night, I started teaching myself with the help of knittinghelp.com. I was pretty discouraged at first, even with the videos, I was having trouble deciphering the movements. After a couple hours, I was finally able to get through a couple rows of knit stitches! Then I gave up for a while. 🙂 I’ll let it really settle in my brain before trying that again.

If anyone knows of any other good “learn-to-knit” sites other than knittinghelp.com, could you leave a comment? As much as the videos help, I’m still having trouble and think some drawings might help.

Anyway, I probably won’t be adding another day to the blog schedule for knitting and will try to keep it to crochet on Mondays. (Might sneak in some knitting if it doesn’t defeat me.)

Happy Memorial Day, all!

Crochet Monday: Starting something new.

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Single CrochetI’m starting another project. I know I already have three work-in-progresses… I just can’t help myself. I haven’t finished the squid because the tentacles are a big pain. The doily is a long, detailed process—I really have to be in the mood to work on that. And the “secret” WIP is getting a bit repetitive and working up very slowly.

I’m getting a little cold, so I wanted to work on something that wouldn’t take quite so much concentration. I decided on a scarf. I’ve only been crocheting for half a year now and have already finished two scarves, so they’re easy enough. Saturday night I started a pattern with double crochet stitches and puff stitches, I got through about 10 rows and decided I didn’t really like the way it was looking with my Landscapes yarn and ripped it out.

I started over on Sunday, trying a few different patterns. I didn’t really like any of the patterns I was trying—they had detailed stitches but the yarn is so chunky that you couldn’t really appreciate the complexity of the patterns. So I did a couple swatches of single crochet, half double crochet and double crochet and asked my sister what she liked best—single crochet was the winner.

Single CrochetI’m still working out how I want the scarf to end up but so far I think the single crochet works well with the colors in the yarn. The yarn reminds me of candy, birthday cake with sprinkles or any other colorful kid’s dessert food.

It’s so soft, I really like working with it. Most yarns I’ve tried start to feel weird between my fingers, like I can feel every fiber as the yarn passes through my fingers, but this one feels nice.

It’s also feltable, I’m not sure if that’s a plus with me or not, seeing as I’ve never felted a thing in my life. Maybe it’s time to try. A little coin purse or something could be really cute!

I don’t really have much else to talk about for crochet. Since I’m getting sick, I’m sure Wednesday’s tea post will be full of “I tasted this” and “I tasted that”. (Or maybe that I drank lots of tea but couldn’t taste a thing.)

Crochet Monday: Amigurumi Coffee Cup, a Scarf and a WIP.

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My most recent amigurumi creation is the “Cafe con Leche” pattern from Amigurumi World: Seriously Cute Crochet. What a cute pattern!

Cafe con Leche

I created mine using the Lavendar colorway of Lion Brand Microspun yarn and a little bit of Mocha for the coffee top. (I didn’t even plan that!) I used a little bit of pink felt for the cheeks, some eyes I found at Jo-Ann Fabrics and some black thread.

The hardest part of this whole pattern was the mouth and sewing on the cheeks. I don’t have much experience sewing anything. I had to retry adding the mouth about five times (I’m picky), and I removed a cheek and reapplied it once.

This project would probably take a more experienced crocheter a few hours, it took me about 5-6. I’m getting better though!

Starting a new projectAnd a few weeks ago, I finished this scarf for my niece. It’s cute—skinny but thick and full of beautiful colors. I can’t wait to give it to her on her birthday. She’s going to be moving to California where the weather is a bit nicer than hot hot Orlando, so I’m hoping she’ll get some use out of it.

Last but not least, my secret WIP. I’m making it for my little sister, wonder what it’ll be… 🙂

Happy Cinco de Mayo to all! 😀