4.30.2013

An Inspinknity Blocking Wire Review and Giveaway!

I do love to wax poetic about blocking, especially blocking lace!  If any of you have watched my Craftsy classes you'll know I delve deeply into my adoration of what happens to a piece of lace when you wet it and stretch it out!  MAGIC!

But, I've never loved my blocking wires, I always had to be careful with the tips of my wires as they weren't "delicate" enough for the yarns I work with and I easily snagged my yarn. Also, many of the wires in the set bent with use and wouldn't "un" bend again.  Blocking takes time, but no where near as long as it takes to knit a whole lace shawl... why not use a tool that makes it enjoyable and fun to do!

So, for my birthday I decided to buy myself a new set of wires... it was an impulse purchase, I didn't do a ton of research.  But, I had heard about Inspinknity Blocking Wires, and decided to invest in a set as a little present!  (The fact that it was a write off didn't escape my keen business sense!)  I decided to start with the Premium Wires as they were described on the site as "Super flexible and strong, you can use premium wires for blocking sweater pieces, scarves, and fingering weight shawls."  Since most of my knitting leans in this direction I decided to start with those!  I do, though plan on getting the Ultra Fine Wires for a lace shawl that is on my needles next!

Once I got them I decided some testing was in order... right?

First I blocked some Pioneer Cuffs I have almost ready for a kit release:
pioneer_blocking
In this case I was testing how straight I could get the wires to lie.  I used my ironing board with it's handy dandy ruler marks to help me keep things line... and it was EASY!

Next up, my Kinetik (sans beads) that I wore everyday in Iceland and really really really needed to be rewashed and blocked.
kinetik_blocking
Kinetik is blocked with a straight upper edge, and two parallel wires coming down each side of the center panel, and finally has wires going up each triangular edge.  Want to hear the coolest thing?  I've always had to use more than one wire from my set for long straight edges at the top of shawls, but this set has a 67 " long wire that worked perfectly!  For the center panel I was able to use one long wire instead of two!

Finally Clarus knit in Anzula Cloud which I always meant to block bigger, and really needed a good soaking as well... this is another shawl of mine that gets alot of wear!  
clarus_blocking
Clarus has delicate points that need to get blocked out in a arc along the sides and bottom edge.  Holy moly, these wires were easy insert and the shaping just came together without too much coaxing or finagling!

I'm not entirely sure what the material is that the blocking wires are made of, but the website says they are "Made from a super-elastic wire with seemingly magical flexibility, these blocking wires will not rust, tarnish, corrode, or easily kink. They will not stain your knitting, and will last for many, many, many years! These premium blocking wires are incredibly strong, yet flexible enough to use for curved edges as well as straight lines. You can arch and curve these wires as you need, and they will always return to straight. This special property allows these wires to be used over and over again without weakening from repeated bending and straightening."

I can attest to this last sentence... when I was done with my blocking experiments I wound my wires back up and put them back into their handy bag ready to be used again.  They did not show any visible bend or kinks and I was purposefully rough with them!  The other thing is that the tip of the wire was so smooth and fine that it slipped in between the stitches perfectly not causing any snags or damage to the yarn.

So, WHO WANTS TO WIN A SET of the Deluxe Premium Wires?????  Just leave a comment below by May 10th letting me know what you want to block first when you if you win them! I'll chose a winner by random number generator on May 11th!

Disclaimer:  I was in no way paid by Inspinknity to write this post, I ordered the wires, fell in love, and then e-mailed and asked if they would be willing to give a set away to one of you!  When I do reviews like this it is because I have purposefully sought out something I think you would be interested in!

A note: I just found out that Inspinknity is waiting on more premium wire... so they have offered a coupon code to you all!  NELKINGIFT and will be active through the month of May. It will take $3.50 off any order placed now through 5/31. It is only good for purchases made at www.inspinknity.com

4.25.2013

Birds of a Feather.... A Quick Cowl

So this little project is for those Juego-ites who are a bit challenged by Clues #1 and 2!  I noticed a little grumbling in my Ravelry group the other day and threatened to make my next Mystery KAL a bulky cowl.....
Birds of a Feather
So, when I saw this yarn at The Yarn Cupboard retreat this weekend, I couldn't really resist and bought a skein to whip something up!  I've been SUPER deep into book designing/knitting/writing and this was just the break I needed!
Birds of a Feather
Knit in Plumes, a Super Bulky Single ply merino with dyed chicken feathers hand felted into the fiber.... it took less than 2 hours to whip this cowl up, and since half of that was with knit group, I was laughing most of the time!  
Birds of a Feather
One member of my group (SARAH!) even suggested I make kits... complete with sheep, chicken, kool aid (for dying the feathers) and a felting needle.  But, since I'm probably not going to do that, I did find out that Knitting Etc has some of this yarn in stock. Just in case you need some Birds of a Feather therapy too!

BIRDS OF A FEATHER
Materials1 skein Pagewood Farms Plume
Size 15 (10mm) 16 inch circular needle
Gauge: Approx 7 sts= 4 inches in st st
Finished Measurements: 34 inches around x 5.5 inches high

Cowl

Cast on 60 stitches, join into the round being careful not to twist your sts.  Place a marker.
Purl 5 rounds.
Knit 5 rounds.
Repeat these 10 rounds once more.
Purl 4 rounds and bind off.  Weave in your ends, put it on and do the funky chicken... or make your dog wear it, like I did!  (because she looked bored!)
Birds of a Feather
You know what they say... Birds of a Feather, we flock together! 

4.23.2013

Topsy Turvy Turtle-to-Egg

Earlier this year when I saw this video for Susan B Anderson's new book Topsy Turvy Inside Out Knit Toys I knew I would get it the moment it came out!



Before the book even got here I was lucky enough to meet Susan at Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle and she gave me a "special" pattern to make a reversible Turtle/Egg! So this weekend while chatting away between classes at the Yarn Cupboard Retreat I whipped one up for my 3 year old friend who I've been missing spending time with! 

Egg-to-Turtle

Egg-to-Turtle (turning)

Turtle-to-Egg

Seriously, how freaking cute, right? I'm a bit addicted!  The only mod I made to the pattern was to use my circular cast on for the start of the egg and turtle... you all know that when I am starting in the round with only a few stitches that this is my cast on of choice!  It is so FUN to just follow a well-written pattern from start to finish and end up with an adorable project to gift!  Next on my knitting wish list is the Egg to Penguin!

Susan will be handing out cards with this pattern at her next few events... you can learn more about those, and the book, on her blog; which is one of my favorites!

4.16.2013

Want to help me choose some beads?

I just spent the most wonderful hour in my studio trying to decide on beads for some new Ribband kits for the Fall!  It's been great fun watching everyone choose beads and yarn for Juego and I was itching to do some yarn/bead play of my own!
playing

A few of the colors were easy to decide on, but this grey teal is driving me crazy as there are SO MANY beads in my stash that look great on it! Want to help me choose?

choices1
Which Bead Combination Do You Like Best?
A- Transparent Aqua with gold lining and Valentinite Crystals
B- Emerald AB with silver lined square holes and Emerald Crystals
C- Silver AB with silver lined square holes and Montana Blue Crystals
D- Transparent AB and Valentinite Crystals
I had a fancy schmacy poll here... but it broke down after the first 24 hours... I will tell you that B was the clear winner before it reset itself!

Also, I instagram'd a version of this photo over the weekend... but want to see the after effects of late Sat night stash diving? My studio is kinda a mess right now!
stashmess

Thanks so much for helping me out!!!!! (ETA- the poll broke, so I had to fix the post... sorry!)

4.11.2013

Thankyou Vogue Knitting Live!

Last weekend I was honored to teach at Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle!  What a fun, inspiring weekend! In true Seattle fashion it rained the whole time I was there, but that didn't matter, I was inside teaching my favorite thing: Knitting with Beads!  Want to see some photos from the weekend?  (please forgive their quality, we were indoors for them all!)
Beads being strung on hemp... a great choice for a summer Ribband!
Karen from One Planet, wearing her Trapeze and knitting a Butin!
I even got Allegra from Petite Purls a bit addicted!
Making a Mudra to match her Signature Needles is totally satisfying this knitter!
Julia and her gorgeous Trapeze....
Gorgeous silk skeins from Red Fish Dyeworks.. I kinda sorta wish I got some!
Yarn Ball Candles from Bar Maids... these babies came home with me!
Giving a demo (and fist bump?) at the marketplace.... (photo courtesy KathyCad on Instagram)
There were so many moments with students and friends that didn't get captured... but rest assured, we all worked, learned and played hard!  A HUGE thankyou to Vogue for flying me across the country to share my passion and commune with the knittahs!!!!!  If you ever have a chance to attend a Vogue Knitting Live event I encourage you to do so... they are beautifully orchestrated knitting events and I'd love to see you in Chicago or New York later this year!

4.09.2013

Pinterest.... falling down the rabbit hole!

This week I was invited to be a guest pinner on Craftsy's Pinterest account!  I've actually really been trying to STAY AWAY from Pinterest as I'm worried I could loose hours looking at pretty things and become distracted from the tasks at hand.  But, laws, it is SO MUCH FUN!  So this week, since I've got a "work commitment" to pin, I'll be spending more time getting to know Pinterest better!  I started yesterday, and am already having a great time... in fact, it's the first thing I did when I woke up this morning.  I think that's a good sign I might be in for a new addiction!
I am guest pinning with Kim Werker who I got to meet in January at TNNA, what a perfect playmate!  You might get to see some shenanigans this week....  There's a great interview over at the Craftsy blog about Kim and I and our "pinning" philosophies. My personal favorite use for Pinterest is to be a visual filing cabinet of things, like tutorials, or recipes, that I want to be able to find again! 

So, you can follow me on Pinterest, and see the board I am collaborating on with Craftsy.  It's sure to be a fun week!  (Hoping I can manage to get some work and my taxes finished too!)

4.03.2013

Accola!

Great news!  Remember Accola, which I designed for my Craftsy class Knitting with Beads?  Well since it's a year since the class was released I can make it available as a pdf on my site and Ravelry

Accola
Smaller version in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Midway
Accola is a semicircular shawl that incorporates nupps, placing beads, and double-sided beaded lace. Accola is worked from the bottom up, starting with a long narrow lace border that has stitches picked up along the top edge of it.  The shawl body consists of two triangles separated by a center panel that incorporates double sided beaded lace to create a stunning central focal point. The shawl is written for two weights of yarn and two sizes.
Jan's Accola
Larger version by JanElinRN
To celebrate I've teamed up with Jill Draper to give a the yarn, beads and pattern to March's winner of the 1st Quarter KAL.  Since this marks the end of the KAL I thought I would announce the winner here!  There were 89 finished Nelkin Designs posted in March!  WOW, so many beauties!  So, Congrats to MnBerg, who knit ALOT of my jewelry designs this month, I particularly love the Butin on the horse!

Accola
Larger Version in Jill Draper Makes Stuff Nimbus, in Bottle I can't wait to design another shawl in this yarn!
This was the first time I did a Quartelry KAL in my Ravelry group... and definitely won't be the last!  What a community sprung up around it (and we all found out we are a bunch of Chatty Cathy's!)!  It's the perfect time to take a break as the Juego MKAL is released at the end of next week and I think that will keep everyone busy enough for a bit!  Expect another KAL later this year!

I'm off to Seattle in the early early early am to teach at Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle... hope to see some of you there!  I did check the weather, and are you surprised?  It's raining the whole time I'm in town!  Luckily, I'm not teaching outside!