Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Life is a Textured Simplicity Knit Scarf

Over the course of an evening back in June spent at a gal's home who I didn't know with other gals I didn't know well , it came to be know that I knit. Immediately the four other wives decided then and there that we would start a knitting club and that I would be the teacher. So, for the past few months, I've been getting to know some gals through teaching them to knit.

Each month, we set the date and our excitement grows. When the evening comes, we arrive sans kids and toting goodies, we boast about what we've accomplished on our projects since the last meeting. We share frustrations and joys, failures and successes, knitting and life. It's a group of girls that I had originally known as acquaintances because of our husbands and as the months have passed they have become a great group of friends. We come from different walks of life, different stages of marriage and familyhood, but we all have one thing in common...a passion for knitting, sharing life and building relationships.

As I prepared my guest blogging series on Learn to Knit, I kept thinking of my knitting club friends. Our relationships are complex yet simple. We discuss the mundane and the deep. We share and intertwine our lives. I kept coming back to this idea that no matter how complex a relationship becomes, it's always built upon the simple things: a phone call, an e-mail, a letter, a coffee date, a knitting club get-together. So, I dedicate this scarf to these girls whom I've come to love. As we share something simple: learning to knit, we build something beautiful: a friendship. And like all good things in life, it comes free and holds the promise of joy.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Spend Your Money Where It Counts...on Yarn! Part 3

In Lesson 1, we looked at the fact that to be a good knitter, you don't need every expensive knitting gadget known to man. In Lesson 2, we looked at ways to get the best bang for your buck when it comes to yarn shopping. In Lesson 3, we're going to look at what you may have in your junk drawer that you can use for knitting tools.

As I was putting around in the Ravelry forums looking for info for Lesson 1, I decided to throw out a post asking other knitters what they've found around the house that they use for knitting. The responses were delightful and insightful! I'm going to share my findings below because the ideas are just too good to keep to myself! Have fun reading and then digging around in your junk drawer to see if you have any creative solutions to your knitting woes!

Stitch holders: paper clips, baby cloth diaper pins, safety pins, unwanted yarn scraps, pencil with two end-cap erasers...

Stitch markers: cut up straws, small hair bands, yarn tied in loops, bobby pins, jumprings (for jewelry making)

Swift: lamp shade with the finial nut unscrewed, chair back, weights,

Ball winder: variable-speed electric drill with a dowel to tape the yarn onto, fishing reel

Yarn holders/Knitting bags: plastic bags with a corner cut off to feed the yarn through, knit your own, large plastic cup w/ domed lid (think blended coffee w/ whip), clean pot turned over so yarn can be fed through the hole on the bottom, multi-pocket tote or purse works as a great bag

Yarn: go to a thrift store and look for good quality knit sweaters with sewn (not serged) seams, unravel them and voila! you've got great yarn at a cheap price!

I found that I've begun to hunt around my house looking at things and wondering, "Hmmm, could I use this for knitting?" It's amazing how creative your mind can get once it begins thinking out of the box! The ideas above are just a starting point! If you have some great tips, share them below by adding a comment!

Lesson 3: Great Books and Resources to Add to Your Knitting Library will be up next Monday so tell your friends and think about what books you may want to add to the list!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Spend Your Money Where It Counts...on Yarn! Part 2

Ok, so in Lesson 1: You don't need every knitting gadget known to man, I discussed just one way to make the most of your knitting budget. Though there are tons of ways to cut down on unnecessary purchases, we'll go into those on a later post. Let's move on to

Lesson 2: Shop in person. Research online. Buy the best.

When it comes to buying yarn, high price doesn't always mean good quality nor does low price always mean poor quality. As you shop for your yarn, there are multiple resources available at your fingertips to make sure you are choosing the best quality yarn and getting it at the best price. Just a note before you begin reading: Whenever possible, always support your local yarn store first. Without supporting them financially, they would not be able to be there for us when we get stuck in a sticky knitting situation and provide priceless instruction. With that in mind, before you just go and buy, consider the following three steps:

Step 1: Shop in person. Go to your LYS (local yarn shop for our newbies out there!) and feel. Take yarn that appeals to your eye and check if it appeals to your skin, your fingers. Tug it, twist it, ask if you could knit a few stitches with it (it never hurts to ask). You're looking for a) strength of fibers - no splitting, breaking of strands, etc; b) physical appeal - does it make your hands sweat? does it move easily across your fingers? does it itch or scratch? does it make you sneeze?; and c) overall quality - does the color begin to stain your fingers? does it shed when it shouldn't? compare yarn of similar characteristics and their brands - do you notice a difference in quality.

Step 2: Research online. Compare prices and look at reviews of the yarns in question. You may find that what looks good in the wrapper doesn't hold up after one time through the washer or maybe it's a bear to knit with causing you to give up. We don't want wasted $$! After you've narrowed down your options. Take home the info and research the different yarns online. There are vast numbers of websites that offer great quality yarns at discount prices Here are some favorite sites among my friends at Ravelry: Elann, Webs, KnitPicks, LittleKnits, PoppyYarns (UK), FabulousYarn, the list could go on, I'm sure!

Speaking of Ravelry, it's an absolutely amazing resource that you have to check out. You can research project patterns, yarns, patterns knitted with certain yarns, ask questions on projects, connect with other knitters locally and not so local, it is an endless source of all things knitting. Set up a profile and won't be disappointed!

Step 3: Buy the best. I don't just mean best price. Whether the best is at your LYS or online is different for every project. Remember, support your LYS first, even if it means sometimes giving up a small discount of a few bucks. But let's look at a little hypothetical: You have two yarns and many people say Yarn A is good but Yarn B is great. Yarn A costs $3/ball and Yarn B is $5/ball. If you purchase solely based on price, you may only pay $18 for enough yarn to knit a sweater but if that yarn pills like there's no tomorrow you won't ever wear it. Now, that would be a waste. However, if you spent $30 and bought better quality yarn (Yarn B), and your sweater lasts you three years, that's money well spent! It's worth paying a few more bucks to get yarn that's good quality, well manufactured and will withstand whatever life throws at it.

Come back for Lesson 3: Knitting gadgets from the junk drawer

Friday, September 18, 2009

Free Baby Pattern! Boutique Baby Knit Headband

When my daughter was born, I had an arsenal of bows at the ready. Polka dots, flowers, velcro, alligator clip, barrett, big and fluffy, smooth and sleek teeny tiny. I was ready! And then came Taylor Joy: adorable, sweet, joyful, and bald. Hmmm...what does a mom do with all these bows bought and received with love and anticipation? I wanted to use them with headbands but all the headbands I had already were adorned with a bow. Plus, my girl needs a bow so that strangers don't say, "Ooh! So cute! How old is he?" It gets really old, really fast. So...

I created my own interchangeable headband. The Boutique Baby Headband is the perfect option because it allows me to customize my little girl's hair accessories to perfectly match her outfit. This serves double duty. Not only do I get to knit for my baby, but I save money as well because now I don't have to buy more and more and more, I just use and enjoy what I already have!

At just one year, my baby still hasn't grownenough hair to hold a bow steadfast. Nota problem! She received tons of adorable outfits at her birthday party but no bows to match? Not a problem! Best of all...The pattern is free! There are so many mom's out there whose little girls need a headband to adorn their sweet, little, bald heads that I couldn't imagine not giving this pattern for free! Pass it around, link to it on your site, give it to friends, post it at your LYS.

To download, simply enter your name and e-mail address below and you'll automatically receive
a link to the pdf file! Enjoy!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Spend Your Money Where It Counts...on Yarn!

My husband and I are frugal. Not cheap...frugal. We live on a budget and we don't like to spend our money on things just to have more things. We like to spend our money on items that we believe will improve our life. We don't have cable because we find that when we watch tv we become zombies and forget to talk to each other. He doesn't golf because 4 hours on a Saturday afternoon could be spent doing something better - like enjoying the delights that are our two children. I don't leisure shop because really, I don't need another purse or another pair of shoes. Food. Diapers and wipes. Books. Coffee. Dinner together. Zoo trips with the kids. Family trips. Mountain biking (hubby). Yarn (me). Since the last item is by far the most important of all (besides the kids, of course), I'll focus on ways to make your money count when it comes to yarn. Some of these ideas are mine, some are great tips from others but one thing is for sure: they're all great ideas for saving money on what's not necessary so we can buy more of what we love...yarn!

Lesson #1: You don't need every knitting gadget known to man.

When I first began to knit, I wanted it all. Fancy stitch markers, beautiful stitch holders, needles in all shapes and sizes with funky bobbles on the ends, handles for all the purses I'm sure I'll knit someday, the latest knitting bags and pouches plus all the yarn a girl could handle (which I've come to discover is an amount that I'll never achieve because I could have all the yarn in the world and it still wouldn't be enough!). However, as I wound ball after ball after ball of yarn, the thing I began to covet was a swift and a ball winder. As of today, I have yet to buy one. Why? Because the $70 I would spend on a ball winder and swift could be much better spent on beautiful, luxurious yarn. When one knits, you need three things: yarn, needles and hands. That's it.

Granted, I still would love to have a swift and ball winder someday, but, until my knitting budget grows substantially larger or someone gives them to me for Christmas, I've found a great alternative in the mean time. Dumbells. I have these two pink 5 lb - dumbells lying around the house that I like to tell my husband I use to "exercise." I do use them, just not for their intended purpose. Instead, I place my untwisted skein of yarn around them and use them to keep my yarn from sliding everywhere as I ball it. Balling yarn has become less tiresome because I find I'm not fighting with my yarn, I'm not holding it with my toes until they go numb, and, if my husband walks in, I can quickly change gears and act as if I've been toning my triceps for the last 15 minutes!

Stay tuned for Lesson #2: Look in person, research online, buy where the price is right! Tips for getting the most bang (or yards!) for your buck!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Which stitch to pick?

In a recent design, I came upon a problem that to me is not so bad to have. I began knitting the Picture Day Perfect Knit Vest with a vision in my head of what the finished outcome would be. Perfectly reasonable and, quite honestly, hard to not do. However, as I finished the front and then was well into the back I found that I was having a hard time deciding which was the right side (aka "RS" or the public side). By the time I finished and seamed together the front and the back I found myself in quite a conundrum...which is best? As you can see below they both look great. If you were 18 months old and your mom dressed you in this incredibly adorable (if I do say so myself) vest, what side would you want all your friends to see? Which do you think is "Picture Day Perfect"?

Option A: Horizontal Stockinette with
Reverse Stockinette Vertical Stripes

or Option B: Horizontal Reverse Stockinette with Regular Stockinette Vertical Stripes

Leave a comment below and tell me your thoughts!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Will I guest blog? Heck yes!

I feel like I'm moving up in the world! As word has gotten out about Monday Morning Knits (many thanks to all of you!), there have been so many comments, compliments, requests and questions regarding my recently-embarked-upon journey as a knitwear designer. So much so that I've actually been asked to guest blog on! WOW! My goodness! Holy guacamole! Que excelente! No way, Jose! What other cheesy exclamations can I make? Don't touch 'cuz I'm hot! (ok, so I just made that one up and it was really bad, I admit).

I'm gearing up for my first guest blogging series on "Wanna's how!" So many people have been asking me how to knit and I'm wondering, "How will I have time to do it all?". Plus, there are times when schedules don't mesh, kids don't cooperate (that's a surprise), or maybe we don't even know each other yet but you still want to learn and I still want to teach. So, I'll be posting written commentary, video tutorials, as well as still pictures to assist you on your journey.

Whether you already know how to knit or are just beginning to learn the craft, check out the blog to learn new techniques, re-learn a skill, download videos to keep on file, or just explore what knitting is!

Monday, September 7, 2009

And the winner is...Goody Two Shoes Knit Baby Loafers!

I got so many responses, both via e-mail and via blog comments, to the "Name that pattern" contest to name the baby loafers that choosing the winner was very difficult! However, the one that seemed to fit the best was Goody Two Shoes! Congrats to the lucky get the pattern for free! I hope you all enjoy knitting these adorable booties as much as I've enjoyed designing and creating them.

Knitted with a worsted weight yarn and only needing two 50g. balls (one for the main color and one for the contrasting color), the Goody Two Shoes Knit Baby Loafers pattern is a must for your collection. Ranging in sizes from Toddler 1-2 to Toddler 5-6, they're sure to be the perfect fit! You can purchase them below or on Ravelry as well!

To purchase, click the "Buy Now" button below. After processing payment via Paypal, be sure to click the orange "Complete Purchase" button. A link to the pattern pdf will be emailed to you...
Buy Now

...or, feel free to use the E-junkie cart option for multiple pattern purchases. Simply click "Add To Cart" below and continue shopping on! When you're done shopping, click "View Cart" from any page to complete your order and get knitting!
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Friday, September 4, 2009

Knitting and they mix?

Have you ever tried to knit while camping? I attempted this feat over the weekend hoping that I'd come back from the mountains with loads done. Hmmm...not so fast, Melissa. First things first, camping is very dirty. It's been a year and I'd forgotten just how much dirt Mother Nature has at her disposal. My knitting over the course of the weekend went something like this: sit down, take out my project, get through half a row when all of a sudden I hear, "Mom, Taylor is eating dirt!" or "Mom, I got an owie!" or, at times, "Honey, when are we eating?" So, down onto my chair the needles would go and off I'd go to the rescue.

My only saving grace was nap time. It's still light enough to work and no little fingers caked with grime are trying to see what I'm doing. No one's calling my name, wanting food or needing Dr. Mom. For two hours in the afternoon, I was in heaven. Beautiful, tall pine trees creating the perfect amount of shade, cool weather, birds chirping, squirrels scurrying and my knitting...ooh, life is good!

Tell me, what unlikely places have you found yourself knitting? The most bizarre place receives their choice of either the Baby Loafer pattern or the Sweet Lil' Thing Toddler Dress pattern for free!

(Here I am competing in the annual Jiffy Pop-off!)