I have completed my Berry Hill mitts in Great Northern Yarns Mink/Cashmere yarn. These mitts are quick to knit with only 40 sts on a size 4 (3.5 mm) Addi Lace 32" needles, but I kept refining the pattern to fit me so they took longer. I started with a size 5 needle and had nearly completed the mitt and decided it was too big. I shortened the bottom cuff and lengthened the top piece. I also changed the thumb gusset increases to every third round, centered the thumb in the middle of the mitt and made the thumb 2 sts smaller in diameter. I ended with the sewn bind-off which is nicely featured in Wendy's Toe-Up Socks for Every Body. She includes a helpful tip on smoothing out the join to the beginning of the round. These mitts are very comfortable and the yarn is wonderfully soft. Thank you to Laura for this lovely birthday yarn.
Speaking of birthdays, Caitlin (right) & Colin (left) turn 2 years old tomorrow. Here they are watching Belle & Sebastian on my Coachella DVD with me. Coachella started on Friday night, so we were quietly having our own little Coachella. We took them to Pet Smart today and picked up a few new toys and a new bed for them. Let's hope Caitlin is finally past chewing the zippers out of everything and they actually get to enjoy their new bed.
I have completed my Lavender Fields socks and with this cold weather, it is nice to have a new pair of wool/nylon socks to wear. This Superwash Sock yarn is 75% wool & 25% nylon and is dyed by Crash into Ewe. I had knitted my Berroco Sox with 72 sts on size 2.25 mm Addi circular needles and ended up re-knitting them on size 2.00 mm dpns as they stretched quite a bit the first time I wore them. For these socks, I used 2.00 mm Addi Lace circular needles (as the yarn is a bit stretchy) with 72 sts and they fit very nicely. I worked a k2, p2 rib for 64 rounds, followed by 20 rounds of stockinette stitch. After a short-row heel down to 12 sts, I knitted 80 rounds of stockinette and then worked standard toe decreases. The socks are a bit more purple, this color is very difficult to photograph. I think they will be a long-wearing and comfortable pair of socks.
With all the snow we have had in the past week, I broke out my "rainy day" toys for Caitlin & Colin. They were chewing contently on their toys and then Caitlin started reaching for Colin's new toy. Caitlin usually has to have all the new toys, however, Colin has started standing up to her these days. I ended up cutting those plastic feet off that toy and pulling out the leg stuffing as Caitlin started to eat the plastic. It is going to be a while before all this snow melts and they can return to playing in the backyard.
My Ravelry BFF, Laura, helped me to celebrate my 45th birthday with these lovely gifts. The yarn is 70% mink and 30% cashmere from Great Northern Yarns. I have taken lots of spinning classes and spun almost every exotic fiber, or so I thought. I have never seen mink fiber. These healthy, stress-free minks are sheared once a year. Their fiber is blended with Mongolian cashmere to create this luxurious yarn, the softest yarn I have ever held. It is Double Knitting weight with 230 yards per skein. I'm thinking of knitting a beaded cowl, though I have not decided for certain.
The book is Knitting Patterns Book 250 and is filled with beautiful Japanese stitch patterns. I own several German stitch pattern books and these Japanese patterns are even prettier and more intricate than I could have ever imagined. Laura included some translation pages given to her by her LYS owner for some of the more complicated stitch patterns. Thank you to Laura for her thoughtful birthday gifts!
In other news, we received about 18" of snow over the weekend. I did get to do some knitting and spinning, but a lot of our time was spent shoveling in the hope that we will eventually receive our mail and our newspapers at some point in the near future. Here is Caitlin on an adventure in the yard. She & Colin love the snow, even if it is taller than they are.
Here is Caitlin modeling her new sweater for winter. I made her the mock cable sweater with the Polo collar from the Fiber Trends Dandy Dog Sweaters pattern. I used 4 balls of Knit Picks Swish Worsted in the Wisteria colorway and my size 8 Namaste straight glass needles. She seems to like it okay so far, but time will tell if she tries to wiggle out of it.
The sizing was a bit of a challenge as the mock cable pulled the knitting in a bit more than I expected and I might have been knitting more tightly with the glass needles. I made the top piece in the large size and the bottom piece in the XXL size to compensate for the top piece being a little small. I sewed the bottom piece for 4" on each side and then left a 4" gap for her legs. The pattern starts with about 2" of ribbing and increases on each edge, every other row. It turns out that the end of the row increases are neater than the beginning of the row increases, so I would suggest increasing at the end of each row starting with the first row after the cast on.
Ann in Australia is now learning to spin. I gladly traded her some drop spindles for one of her Knitting Inspiration Sock Club packages. The beautiful yarn is Handmaiden Casbah (81% merino/9% cashmere/10% nylon) in the Berry colorway. She also included her clever fimo row counter and a gorgeous knitting bag (with stitch markers on the ribbon) from her recent knitting retreat. The Tim Tam cookies were a delicious surprise, too. Thank you to Ann for all of her lovely gifts. I have the yarn wound and ready to go. This yarn is so soft, I can't wait to see how it knits up.
Caitlin & Colin were still long enough for me to snap this photo. They do a lot of cute things, but by the time we get the camera ready, they are off doing something else. They do their share of playing & fighting. It is nice to see them settle down together like this.
I've started spinning my Blue Moon Fiber Arts Sheep 2 Shoe kit in the Never on Sunday colorway. Tina recommends splitting the roving into thirds lengthwise before spinning. I found this daunting when I spun my Lapis Sheep 2 Shoe kit. I chose instead to split it crosswise into 4 matching sections, and I ended up with a good bit barberpole yarn. I thought I would split the roving lengthwise this time. I split it in half and then split the first half into half. I will split the send half into half sometime later. This is over 8 ounces of roving so it is a lot to split. I have almost completed my first bobbin as shown here in my photo. I am spinning the singles on my Wyatt wheel at the 1:12 ratio.
Caitlin & Colin celebrated their first birthday on Sunday. Here they are playing with one of their new toys. Caitlin really likes the plastic handle on it, at least Colin is enjoying the rope part. They like to tug on ropes and run next to each other and I thought this would be the perfect gift for them.
I brought Lawrence's Aguona laptop bag to work with me, however, I forgot to bring my pins and needle and thread to sew the finishing touches inside the bag. I worked on my Ostara sock instead and will hopefully be blocking the bag tonight. Ostara is the new springtime colorway created by Eric of Cables and Lace. I really like his Dragon Feet yarn which is 70% merino and 30% silk. I'm using 64 sts and my Signature Needle Arts 2.25 mm 5" stiletto dpns following the same general pattern I used for my Samhain socks. The bright colors in this yarn make it a lot of fun to knit and remind me that spring is actually on its way after our snow storm last week.
Here is a recent picture of Colin (left) and Caitlin (right). They turn 1 year old next month. It is a challenge to get a good picture of them together as they are always running around and playing.