Monday, September 28, 2015

Babies, Babies, Babies.

I do love a good baby knit. So when Judith Durant and Storey Publishing came knocking, asking for submissions to her latest "101" book, I was all about it. Happily my submissions were chosen, which means I get a copy of the book to review, and I get to see my name in print again - always a fun thing - and YOU get to see this blog post in which I review "One Skein Wonders for Babies"!

First let's talk about me. I have two patterns in this book. The first is a lovely little sweater set called "Birthday Baby" that I designed with one of our grandbabies in mind. (FOUR! We have FOUR grandbabies now!). It's a pretty simple knit and would make an excellent gift for any new little one. It knits up quickly from the top down, and I personally love it. The basic design is my go-to for new babies, and I alter the pattern stitch on the body and sleeves as desired - for this occasion I chose a textured ribs sort of pattern, but you could change it up pretty easily to a lace pattern, or even a cable if you're using a solid colored yarn.
My second design for this book is "Wee Britches", a pair of (conveniently, for this purpose, color-coordinating) footless tights or pants. I find them adorable, a quick little knit, and so useful on their own, or for layering in colder weather. I sometimes knit a bootie into the leg to create footed tights, but for this incarnation there's no foot on the tights, just TOES! Who doesn't love baby toes?
 Now about the book - true to the "One Skein" series, this book is conveniently sized, 287 pages long, and has a comprehensive glossary of knitting terms, and a useful chart of abbreviations inside the back cover. The patterns run a wide range and are organized into chapters - "Little Tops", "Little Bottoms" and so forth. But don't think it's just tops and bottoms - there's the sweetest little hats, some completely adorable toys, and a host of accessories and blankets. 
If you've got babies about, or have babies on the way, or just like to knit things for babies that may show up someday (because they're so fun to knit for!), this is a great little book to add to your knitting library. Like all of the One Skein books, the yarn commitment is low, which makes it perfect for those times when you're left pondering what to do with this or that single ball.

In other review-type news...It's not a secret that I am kind of an obsessive dog mom, is it? I mean, the boys are a huge part of my life. Last year when Gene was "out here" and I was "back there", a lot of my life revolved around these dogs. Some days they were my only reason to get up in the morning. Have to get up. Have to walk the boys. Have to get moving. Have to walk the boys. Walking the boys has it's ups, but it also has some downs. Last year I dropped a leash on an ice cold day when I couldn't feel my fingers. That led to the acquisition of a wide nylon belt that I could run the leash handles through so that there would be no more inadvertant dropping incidents. But that led to another issue - two leashes around my waist, one two feet longer than the other. Constant juggling and tangling and occasional tripping was the outcome. But then last week at a Scallop Festival in Bourne, I ran across The Black Leash, a small company that hand makes nautical rope leashes and horse leads, handcrafted leather products, and reflective collars. They had a double dog leash that I fell in love with. It looked a little bit like this:
Except that the rope was thicker, and the leash latches were both swivel hooks of polished brass. I loved the idea, but I had reservations. Yoshi once managed to get the thumb press part of a convention leash latch open. I'd only had him for a couple of days, and I nearly lost him. He was torn - woods. New mom. Woods. New mom. It was a terrifying minute, and if a truck or car had come tearing down the road, he would have been gone. He did not like motor vehicles. Since then I refuse to walk him with a conventional swivel hook, preferring a trigger type mechanism - and even then I am edgy about it. 
You may have figured out by now that I got a leash, right? I mean, all the pictures, it's kind of a dead giveaway. I got a leash all right - a custom leash, just for me, made to my specific needs! Bradley has a convention swivel hook of bronze - harder than iron! - and Yoshi... Yoshi has a high speed Kong Frog cable connector, rated to suspend mountain climbers in thin air without dropping them. 
One hopes this is sufficient to put my mind at rest. 
And it mostly I can worry about his collar links snapping, instead. I LOVE this leash! I had it made 5' long, rather than 6' which is what a "normal sized" person might use. It has a second "handle" about halfway down so that I can grab them closer if I need to. The two separate leash ends work perfectly - Yoshi generally is on the inside and Brad on the outside as we walk. There is no tangling. The only problem I had, and it wasn't really a problem, just a user error, was when both boys were going finished, and I didn't realize that I needed to stop the "finished" dog from trotting off, dragging the "not yet done" dog off balance. But now that mommy has gotten smarter, we're well past that, and I simply. LOVE. This. Leash! 

I started knitting with the Plymouth Knitters Group, which meets once a week, and knits items for the Plimoth Plantation interpreters - the folks who wander around the village in 17th century garb, speaking as if they'd just fallen off a boat from 1620. (For fun, ask them a question to which the answer is "zombies". The word didn't exist! It's fun to ask modern questions and get answers from a completely different time)
I am knitting a waistcoat. The yarn is spun by Harrisville and is called New Plimoth Worsted and I love it. The patterns used to create garb for the 17th century village are from a book called "Knitted Garb - Inspired by Originals: Designs for Plimoth Plantation and Beyond". The book is a labor of love and a collaboration between The Weavers' Guild of Boston and The Greater Boston Knitting Guild. It included 12 patterns, ranging from stockings and garters to waistcoats and caps, mittens and gloves - everything a chilly Pilgrim might need for the beginning of a mini ice age. There are no knitting patterns as we know them from that time period, but there are some examples of garments or pieces of garments from which patterns had been extrapolated. This book brings those patterns together and standardizes the language, streamlines the directions, and makes the items knittable by a modern knitter. 
Today we are peacefully diffusing Young Living oils - Abundance and Envision. It's delicious in here, with a little breeze outside reminding me that summer is waning. Yoshi is resting at my feet and I am FINALLY knitting my Tilted Duster - Interweave 2007. That's how long I've held on to this yarn and pattern. Since 2007. And finally now I can make the thing - hopefully while there's still enough fall left to appreciate it.
I am loving the pattern. Not sure how I feel about the yarn, and I think I would like to remake it in something plied. I am just not a single ply fan - unless we are talking about Silk Garden or Kureyon, but that's Noro and so falls into a different category. Noro is the exception to every rule.

Hope you had an excellent weekend!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

View and Re-View

It looks as if this is going to be book review month here at Ye Old Blog. It would have already started if I'd found my camera. If anyone sees my camera...give a shout, hey? Sorry in advance for the images - I am shooting with my phone for the time being!
As always, books that I review on this blog were given to me by the publisher but I will not review a book I don't like, or don't think has some relevance in the marketplace. If you see it here, it struck a chord with me. If I don't like them, I simply don't review them.
First up is a new release from Running Press that will be available in October titled Knitless: 50 No-Knit, Stash-Busting Yarn Projects by Laura McFadden, author of 1,000 Handmade Greetings (and others). Of course, you probably don't need a book like this. I am sure that none of my readers have yarn they just don't know what to do with, right? I mean, we all know exactly what to do with yarn. Even those big baskets of partial balls, and the remainder skeins stuffed into the recycled comforter bags under the bed, right? Right! Of course we do. No? Me either... until now. Now we have options!

With a wide range of projects, Knitless gives knitters (and others) a host of things to do with yarn, from the artistic and aesthetic, to the practical and functional - and in some cases a nice blend of both.

Take this, for example - coasters! Practical and functional. Pretty and useful. I can get behind that! And it isn't like I don't have enough yarn to make this happen. I can see these as excellent gifts as well, in a basket for example with lots of yummy coffee samples and a couple of mugs...

Do you have piles of loose earrings sitting around in piles? I know I used to before I stopped wearing them. This is an excellent way to organize them and use up some yarn in the process - a customized piece using a simple frame that can easily be coordinated with any decor.

Speaking of decor - custom art anyone? An excellent use for scraps - yarn painting. I love this idea!
But I really love this - probably my favorite in the book - a concentric circle rug created using paracord and yarn. I've been needing a new kitchen rug...and it isn't like I don't have any yarn with which to create this project! In fact I could probably make a whole new living room carpet out of these circles...

In most instances the yarn amounts are fairly small, making them perfect for those little balls left after completing of a project. Once you've filled all the empty glass jars in your house with random balls of this or that, and have run out of things to do, Knitless comes to the rescue with a wide range of projects for all skill levels and time investments, from wearable pieces to art pieces to functional items - I've just scratched the surface with the very few projects I've shown here.

The directions for these projects are very clear, and templates are included where needed. Whether you are making your own suspension bridge side table (LOVE it!) or yarn bombing a bike (because why not!?), Knitless may be just the book to inspire you to set down your needles - just for a MINUTE, mind you - and let your yarn do something new and different!

In all there are 50 uses for yarn divided into four chapters. The book is neatly sized at 208 pages, and handily paperback with flaps for page marking. Look for it in October - an excellent stocking stuffer idea!