Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rainbow-socks, a new project and some mysterious needles

We had two leftover skeins of tico tico with different colorways from our shawls, so I decided to use those and knit something small. Naturally I also wanted to try something new, so I decided to knit socks with Hat heel pattern by Kathleen Sperling. You get quite wide stripes with the yarn, which I don't like so much, so I decided to use both of the colorways, changing after every row. The socks are made in special way starting from the heel. Since picture is worth thousand words, instead of trying to explain it to you, here's a picture how it's done from Knitty.com:

Picture by Kathleen Sperling.

And here's my attempt on those:

Project info
Name: Rainbow-socks
Pattern: Hat-heel by Kathleen Sperling
Craft: Knitting
Made for: Amoena

Needles: US 1½ / 2.5 mm
Yarn: Novita Tico Tico
Colorway: 836 Blue-Green & 852 Red-Orange

These were quite fun to knit. Though after the heel there wasn't really anything special but still, it was fun to knit a sock this way. I also like how it looks with those two colorways. Amoena wanted the socks to be different so I didn't even try to match the stripes.

Guess who?

I have also started my next project. I saw a cute sweater/vest at school and I thought that it would be cool to knit something similar: lacy and long ribbings with not-so-furry mohair. I think it's knitted, or at least I'm trying to knit it kinda like the Shawl Collar Vest, in one piece, only adding small extensions for the sleeves in the middle. Since this can't really be tried on before it's almost finished, I hope I estimated the required amount of stitches correctly.

These substitutes for Addi's are not so great.

My mom visited Estonia some time ago and I asked her to bring us some circular needles by Addi for souvenir, since I've heard that they cost there about a half what they cost here in Finland. Well, unfortunately she didn't find them, but she brought us some quite pretty bamboo needles by some mysterious Estonian manufacturer you can't find any reviews about. So it wasn't that big of a surprise that those aren't that good to knit with. The yarn gets often stuck between the metal and bamboo. Those might work better with something else than mohair, but still, so far I'm not impressed.

Finnish summary: Huiveista oli jäänyt pari jämäkerää tico ticoa, joten ajattelin kutoa niistä jotain pientä. Halusin tottakai kokeilla jotain uutta, joten päätin kutoa sukat Kathleen Sperlingin Hat heel -ohjeella. Sukka aloitetaan jännästi kantapäästä. Postauksen alussa oleva kuva esittelee tuon idean tarkemmin.

Näin koulussa nätin neuletakkiliivin, jonka tyylistä koitan itsekin kutoa: suhteellisen leveät 1o1n joustimet ja pitsiä mohair-langalla. Tuota tekelettä ei oikein voi kokeilla ennen kuin se on melkein valmis, joten toivottavasti arvioin tarvittavan silmukkamäärän oikein.

Pyysin myös äidiltä tuliaisiksi Virosta Addin pyöröpuikkoja, joiden pitäisi olla suhteellisen halpoja siellä. Valitettavasti hän ei löytänyt niitä, mutta toi sen sijaan nättejä bambuisia pyöröpuikkoja. Valmistaja on joku outo virolainen, josta ei löydy mistään mitään tietoa, joten ei ollut kovin iso yllätys ettei puikot ole kovin loistavat. Lanka tuppaa usein jäämään jumiin metallin ja bambun väliin, tosin voi olla että toimivat paremmin jonkun vähemmän pörröisen langan kanssa.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cuddly Crochet book review + giveaway

Hello and welcome! This post is part of Stacey Trock's Cuddly Crochet blog tour. I hope you enjoy your stay! Before we start, I would like to remind you that even though I got this book for a review purpose, I have only written my own honest opinions about it. It would need more than one crochet book to alter my opinions.

I love knitting books, I love crochet books, and most of all, I love the smell of a new book and the way it fills my bookshelf. So when the mailman brought me a copy of Stacey Trock's "Cuddly Crochet" I was really excited. I new book for me to read through!
Adorable Toys, Hats, and More
So what is "Cuddly Crochet"? This is how the book describes itself: "Looking for a great gift for a special youngster? Choose from 10 adorable stuffed animals and pair them with 10 practical items such as blankets, hats, and bibs for the perfect baby-gift combo. [..] Each toy - including a cool truck - is the perfect size to be carried and cuddled by toddlers. With patterns just right for the novice, this books offers plenty for crocheters of all levels."

But let me warn you right away: If you're hoping to find amigurumi patterns, you will be disappointed. This is not an amigurumi book. This book contains patterns for stuffed toys that kids can actually play with. I'm a former amigurumi crocheter, so at first glance I found the toys quite dull. They didn't have small details or gigantic heads or plate-sized eyes or whatever is typical for amigurumis. But as I read through Stacey's introduction to the book, I understood how right she was: amigurumis are cute, but totally impractical for small children. Small children need toys that are large enough for them to cuddle, and safe for them to play with. Toys like the ones you can find from the Cuddly Crochet book.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm a former amigurumi crocheter. With this information given, you could expect me to be quite experienced crochet pattern reader as well. But no, you're wrong. I'm hopeless with crochet patterns, just ask J.R. He helped me time after time with the same basic things. And because I'm totally aware of my lack of crochet pattern reading skills, I wanted to try to crochet something from the book all by myself. It would be an excellent way to find out how sufficient the instructions are.

I picked the easiest pattern from the book, Annie the Adorable Bluebird, because it was also the smallest project in the book. I don't have anything against stuffed toys, I just figured it would be smarter to go with a smaller toy because they naturally take less space from our amigurumi shelf (it's crowded). So here's Annie from the book:

Photo: Courtesy of Martingale Publications.
As you can see, Annie doesn't look too challenging. And she certainly wasn't too challenging to crochet either. I was able to follow the whole pattern without problems! Everything was clear as water, and that's a real achievement for me. I didn't have to ask advice from J.R. even once. It would be safe to say that based on this experiment, the instructions are very sufficient indeed. And look, my pink bird looks almost as good as the original Annie:

Almost as cute as the original Annie
Annie the Adorable Bluebird is not the only adorable pattern in the book. In fact, they are all quite adorable. I feel that I'm well prepared now if someone in my neighborhood decides to have a baby. Just bring it on, I have baby-gift ideas for the next ten babies! And because the book has such a good introduction to crocheting and the patterns are very clear, I feel that I could actually crochet everything from the book if I wanted to.

I feel like a total book geek for mentioning this, but I really enjoyed the layout of this book. The pictures have nice borders around them, there are cute fonts, lovely colors and very outstanding information boxes... I've seen many craft books with less attractive layouts.

Lovely, lovely layout
So, I could go on and on about this, but I think it's better to stop babbling before people get bored. To prevent this review from getting ridiculously long, I have gathered a simple list of all the things I liked in Cuddly Crochet. There are quite many of them:
  • Good introduction to the crocheting techniques
  • Unique concept: stuffed toys with matching blankets, hats and bibs
  • Animals are quite unisex, both boys and girls like them
  • Attractive and cute layout
  • Patterns for beginner crocheters as well as for more advanced crocheters
  • Very good pictures of finished products
  • Clear patterns
  • Guidance how to make the toys safe for small children.
My last conclusion is that Cuddly Crochet is a nice addition to anyone's craft book collection, even if you don't have your own kids. You never know when you have an urgent need of crocheted animals.

**GIVEAWAY** CLOSED

Because Stacey Trock is nice and awesome, she sent us an extra book for a giveaway. Just comment this post and you're in. If you are a subscriber, whether you are an old one or you just subscribed after reading this post, mention that in your comment. Subscribers will get one extra entry.

International entries are also welcome, we'll ship worldwide on our own expense. The giveaway closes on Friday 30.4. The winner will be chosen randomly. We will announce the winner on our blog on Saturday 1.5 and also contact the winner personally. Please make sure we have a way to contact you.

GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED

Saturday, April 17, 2010

About us

Hello friends and strangers! I just wanted to let you know that we have finally written some decent about pages. Now you can learn more about me, J-R, and Papu the dog, just visit our individual about pages:

About Amoena
About J-R
About Papu the dog

These links can also be found from the sidebar under the "About Us" title.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Today the mailman was kind to me

I got an announcement today from the post office that they have a package there waiting for me. I knew immediately what package it was, since couple weeks ago I won a giveaway over Knitting Knoobie's blog. It was the first giveaway I have ever won, so I was naturally quite excited. Here's what Susie sent me:

"Mommy, I'm so tired with this modeling thing. Please give me a break."
The book is "Strip & Knit with Style" by Mark Hordyszynski. I still have not read it through, since I just got it, but I already know that my mother would probably love it. She's not into knitting, but she likes crafts that use recycled materials. I can easily imagine her knitting pillows from old clothes. Obviously she would need some serious help with the English language if she actually wanted to recreate some projects from the book, but I think it's enough for her to get inspired simply by looking the pictures.

Susie also sent me a skein of Tofutsie sock yarn. It's 50% superwash wool, 25% soysilk, 22.5% cotton and 2.5% chitin. And because it's "light fingering", I can actually start knitting my third lace shawl sooner than I thought! Even though we live in Espoo, which is a relatively large city right next to Finland's capital city, Helsinki, we don't have any proper yarn stores close to us. The closest decent yarn store is in Helsinki, and it takes time and effort to travel all the way there. I'm so happy that I got suitable yarn for the shawl without having to make that trip.

I read from Ravelry that the yarn can be quite splitty, but I'm actually quite positive about this. There were more than one commenters who said that they had no problems with splitting when they were using extra sharp knitting needles, like Addi's... And I just happened to give the Addi Turbo Lace circular needles to J.R. and he's not using them at the moment.

Colorway 726 One Foot in Front of the Other
By the way, I was quite surprised to learn that on the other side of the world, Addi knitting needles are considered as "luxury" needles and KnitPro's as a cheaper option. Here it's the other way round. I would like to try KnitPro's too, to see why people think they're so great. I just find the weird rainbow colors somehow disgusting.

Finnish summary: Voitin pari viikkoa sitten Knitting Knoobien blogissa arvonnan, ja tänään posti toi paketissa kirjan ja kerän lankaa. Kirjaa en ole ehtinyt vielä selaamaan, mutta se vaikuttaa ihan sellaiselta, että äiti voisi tykätä siitä vaikka ei kutomisesta erityisesti välitäkään. Kirja on tosin tietenkin englanniksi, mutta kuvia katselemallakin voi saada kierrätysideoita. Kirjassa idea on siis, että kankaasta tehdään lankaa ja langasta kudotaan erilaisia juttuja. Tofutsies-lankakin oli tosi kiva yllätys, kun se oli niin ohutta että sopii seuraavaan pitsihuiviin. Ei tarvitse tehdä erillistä reissua Helsinkiin pelkän langan takia.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A bit early summer breeze

After Amoena had finished her first shawl , I wanted to knit something similar too. Though of course mine had to be a bit more challenging and complex than Amoena's. Competitive? Me? Anyway, I really liked how the yarn Amoena used self-striped so I decided to go with the same yarn, only different colorway. And it's also probably the only fingering weight yarn we can get from our local store.


Project info
Name: Kesätuuli
Pattern: Windsbraut - Sommerwind by Monika Eckert
Craft: Knitting
Made for: Amoena

Needle: US 4 / 3.5 mm
Yarn: Novita Tico Tico 1.2 skeins
Colorway: 836 Blue-Green

The stripes really steal the focus from the lace pattern. I knew that it's going to be this way but it's still quite a shame. I actually had some problems with understanding the border chart. At first I couldn't find the focal points what to follow with the chart and just didn't understand how it was supposed to go. And I was thrilled. I think I really do like challenges and it's been a while since I have had this sort of problems. After few rows knitting started to flow again. I think this is the most lacy thing I've ever knit.

And of course there has to be a pic of Papu wearing whatever we have finished.

Amoena also got me about the best thing a man can get. Premium 80cm 3,5mm circular lace-needles with extra sharp tips by Addi!

Probably the best needles I've ever knitted with.

At first I was a bit suspicious. Yeah, I was knitting with some old, plastic circular needles, but still, how big a difference there can be? A huge. After switching to these little wonders even the purl rows were fun. No more problems with stitches gettings stuck or anything. I also noticed that I started to knit tighter since the stitches slided so much better. Luckily the difference wasn't that big.

Finnish summary: Minäkin päätin kutoa pitsihuivin. Ohjeen huivista tuli hieman isompi kuin aikaisemmista, mutta sen kuitenkin mahtui blokkaamaan sängyllä. Loppujen lopuksi hyvä tuli, vaikka olikin hieman ongelmia reunuksen ohjeen ymmärtämisessä. Sain myös uudet pitsipuikot, joilla kutominen käy kuin tanssi.