Knitter in the Wild: Stitches SoCal 2018

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the very first Stitches SoCal, held at the Pasadena Convention Center.  Stitches is the convention name for events held across the country by XRX, and are four day events filled with classes devoted to fiber arts, fashion shows, demonstrations and a marketplace. The closest Stitches event to me used to be Stitches West, held in Santa Clara, CA, which always fell during a busy time of year at the day job which made attendance impossible, so I was excited to have an event come right to my backyard.

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Ideally,  I would fill all four days up with classes, but this year I was only able to sign up for one, so I chose the Intro to Double Knitting class taught be Alasdair Post-Quinn.  This class was fabulous! I had never attempted double knitting before, so I was a little nervous about keeping up with the pace, but it turned out I was perfectly fine.  Alasdair’s teaching style was very clear, he took plenty of time walking by all of the students checking our work at critical points, and his handouts were great reference material.  After finishing this class, I totally feel like I could tackle a basic double knitting project with success.  Our class project was a simple square, which we ran out of time to finish completely,  but you still get the gist of the sorcery this technique produces.

Check it out!  Isn’t it magic?  And it totally isn’t hard to do, either!

After class, I walked the marketplace with a friend.  I had a general idea of what I wanted to buy, and I was determined to stick to my budget.  As a result, I mostly just browsed, but found plenty of delightful surprises along the way.  For instance, did you know punch needle embroidery was a thing?  Look at these amazing examples in the booth.

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I need another hobby like I need an IRS audit, but if I had more free time I could totally see myself doing this.

And check out this amazing display of quilt squares devoted to Prince, courtesy of a challenge hosted by Cherrywood Fabrics.  The squares were unbelievable in their attention to detail and craftsmanship.  I was amazed at how good all the squares were.

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My sewing machine is sad that it will never make anything as amazing as those ribbon winners.

When browsing marketplace booths, it’s always fun to see new ways of displaying basics.  These embroidery hoops filled with knitted swatches in the Pam Powers Knits booth were very clever.

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I thought it was a great way to show off the samples of the yarn.

I would love to be able to show all the booths, but the floor was filled and it would make this post way too long.  Here are a few other eye catching or creative displays.

For my purchases, I managed to pick up two things that were on my list and stay within my budget, so I considered my shopping experience a success.  A pattern keeper by Erin Lane Bags and a beautiful wood nostepinne by Kromski.  I have wanted a nostepinne for quite a while, so finding one with such a beautiful finish made me a very happy knitter.

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Overall, my Stitches experience was tons of fun and I highly recommend attending an event if a location near you is doable for your budget.  Next time I will definitely take more classes, as you can’t beat the lineup of instructors.  If a Stitches event isn’t close enough to make a visit a reality, you may also want to check out Vogue Knitting Live, which has a similar format.

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Stash Enhancement Saturday: Woodland Cottage Farm Bullet Journal Cover

My usual planning system includes my Erin Condren Life Planner coupled with a bullet journal.  Since my EC already has my appointments and daily to do lists, I use my bullet journal mostly for collections, trackers, goal setting, and other types of lists.  While functional, I really like the freedom to be creative that the bullet journal system gives me. I have always been a list maker, so having all of my lists in one place makes me happy.

I usually carry at least one, if not both, of my planners with me every day.  As I throw them in my handbag, I have been searching for protective covers for both in order to protect them from the rest of the random stuff in my bag like keys, medications, knitting projects, and makeup.  Given my commute and hours at the day job, I carry a lot of stuff in that bag since I am gone all day.

For my bullet journal, I use a LT1917 A5 dotted notebook.  This notebook fits perfectly in a Foxy Fix No. 8 traveler’s notebook, and I had my journal and a couple of TN inserts all in there together. I loved this set up, but there were some drawbacks, most notably I was then afraid to scratch my beautiful leather TN in my purse. As a protective cover, that kind of defeats the purpose.  It also was rather bulky, making it heavy to carry around.

Enter Woodland Cottage Farm.  Woodland Cottage Farm sells custom fabric covers for a variety of planners in a variety of sizes.  After picking the fabric from the options available and deciding on the number of ribbon bookmarks I wanted, I ordered an A5 cover specifically for the LT1917.  Shipping was within the time frame advertised and packaged well to endure shipping.  This is the front and back view of the one I ordered:

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The inside has pockets on both the front and back flaps.  The back flap also has a pen loop of substantial size, and an attached ribbon that you enclose over the front cover to secure the covers and keep the whole thing closed.

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This is the point in the review where I have to admit that I am kind of dumb sometimes. I could not figure out how to get the cover on!  I mean, sure, I figured out the cover of the notebook slides into the fabric cover behind the pockets, but once I had the back cover slid in I could not figure out how to get the front cover in without taking the back cover out again.  I sat there puzzled for longer than I would like to admit.  (Just in case anyone else is struggling, you have to open the notebook cover all the way back – like almost until they are opened enough where the outside covers touch one another.  Then you can slide that cover right on.)

The cover fit is snug.  Given how the cover is made, I highly recommend buying the cover specifically listed for your journal.  While I have not tested it yet, I am not confident that another brand notebook in the same size would fit in the cover.  With the cover on, the notebook still opens and lays flat, so there are no concerns in that regard.

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Here are a couple of photos with the notebook closed while in the cover.

So, to recap, I like that the fabric cover means I worry less about throwing my journal in my bag, and since it only holds the journal it is lighter to carry around.  The cover is well made, and there are customizable options with the fabric choices and bookmarks.  Because it is tailored to specific notebooks, it fits well.

The one con I would have, if it even counts as a con, is also the tailoring to specific notebooks. I was considering switching from an LT1917 to a Scribbles That Matter or Archer and Olive notebook next time I need one, and I am not sure that the cover will fit if I do so.  It makes switching around notebooks on a whim a bit difficult unless you buy covers to fit each of them to have on hand.  To be fair, this is true of other planners,  as well – it’s not like EC covers fit in Happy Planners, so consider this as only a very minor concern.  I am not even sure if this is something to really be concerned about, but since I am wondering about it, I thought I would mention it in case others are, too.

 

The Landmark Project: CHL#369

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CHL# 369 CHAPEL OF SANTA YSABEL (SITE OF)

The first mass at a site nearby was celebrated September 20, 1818 by Father Fernando Martin. By 1822, Santa Ysabel was an asistencia, or mission outpost, that had a chapel, a granary, several houses, a cemetery, and about 450 neophytes. After secularization in the 1830s, priestly visits became rare. When the roof caved in, after 1850, ramadas were erected against one wall and services were held there. Tradition asserts this site has been used for religious services since 1818. The present chapel was constructed in 1924.

Descriptions of each landmark are from the California Office of Historical Preservation website.

The Landmark Project: CHL#412

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CHL# 412 JULIAN

Following the discovery of gold nearby during the winter of 1869-70, this valley became the commercial and social center of a thriving mining district. Ex-Confederate soldier Drury D. Batley laid out the town on his farmland and named it for his cousin and fellow native of Georgia, Michael S. Julian. By 1906 most mines were unprofitable. Since then the area has become more famous for the variety and quality of its apple crop.

Descriptions of each landmark are from the California Office of Historical Preservation website.

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FO Friday: Another Bubble Up Beanie with a Bonus Topper

I had made a couple of the DMC Top This! hats for a friend’s daughter a year or two ago.  Her older stepdaughter expressed interest in one, but wanted me to somehow incorporate blue into the hat, so the project languished for a bit while I focused on grad school and my day job. It wasn’t that I was putting off making the hat necessarily. I think I was just overwhelmed with other areas of life and trying to track down yarn that matched the dog topper she wanted but also had the requested blue was time consuming. I just sort of kept it on my to do list for ages. That is, until this week!

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The DMC Top This! hat toppers are cute, and I like their variety to choose from.  The yarn in the kit just isn’t my favorite,  and quite honestly,  there isn’t enough yarn to actually make a large kid hat, let alone an adult hat, out of the quantity included.   As a result, I usually end up buying two kits in order to have enough yarn, or I just simply toss the yarn and pair the topper with yarn of my choice.  The latter is my preferred method.

After deciding I had procrastinated long enough,  I went in search of a variegated skein that included white, tan, and the requested blue. The closest I could come to yarn that met these requirements was Red Heart with Love Stripes in the Sandbar Stripe colorway.  The yarn is a worsted weight, 100% acrylic, self stripping yarn.  I don’t really enjoy knitting with acrylic, but I needed the hat off my to do list and my options were slim.  And I have to give a little credit where it’s due – the yarn isn’t too bad.  It doesn’t seem squeaky like acrylic can sometimes be, and it also doesn’t split easily.  If I had use for acrylic again, I’d consider it.

I paired it with the Bubble Up Beanie pattern by Nicole Tsou, because I enjoyed the messy bun hat I made a few weeks back and had already essentially memorized the pattern, which made knitting on the go easier. US8 and US9 needles were used with the Magic Loop method.

I lucked out with the color changes in the stripes – they came close to where I would have swapped out colors with separate skeins if I wasn’t being a lazy ass by using the shortcut self striping yarn provides.  Apparently my friends don’t hate it, as after sharing a pic on Instagram I now have an owl and a lamb hat on my to do list.

To break up all the hat knitting I have been doing lately, I cast on the Gradient Band Cowl by Joji Locatelli, and I’ll share pics of that project soon.  It is knitting up much faster than I thought it would given the fingering weight yardage required.

Stash Enhancement Saturday – on a Sunday: Cosmo by Lecien Floss Bobbins

I have been in a very cross stitch mood as of late and my supplies are kind of strewn all over the table.  I knew I needed to buy some bobbins and wind the floss, but it kind of annoys me that the only real option to organize floss is the bobbin/plastic box option. I was contemplating going with the laundry pin or tongue depresser route that is all over Pinterest (look, I’m very basic), but that required me to find those, and so procrastination set in.  Then I randomly came across the Cosmo by Lecien large floss bobbins, and the Francophile in me was suddenly very motivated to find a solution.

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The mere fact they weren’t plain white was enough to intrigue me.  The fact there was space for three was also interesting.   But mostly, if I am being completely honest, the fact they were French inspired made me buy them.  (PS – for actual French haberdashery supplies, check out Maison Sajou!)

The bobbins are hard and relatively thick cardboard.  They are not flimsy like some other cardboard bobbins on the market, and since I am a little rough on my supplies, I appreciate the sturdy construction.  The print is only on the front, the back is plain white.  I didn’t mind this, as that left room for me to identify the colors of floss in some way.

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The bobbins come in packs of 2 and are a bit on the pricey side.  I have seen them listed for anywhere between $2.39 and $4 for the pack.  I think part of the reason the price point is so high is that they are hard to find.  Every brick and mortar store website I found them on were sold out, so I ended up having to get mine on Etsy.  I had to have them anyway!  I mean, look how pretty they are.

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While cute, they aren’t without issue.  For those of us that organize by color family, it’s probably a bit easier to pick three colors to house together on one bobbin.  But if you organize by floss number, you will need to come to terms with mixed color families on each bobbin.  I mostly blame DMC for this – why can’t they number their colors in a more reasonable fashion?!  Also, since I don’t own all the colors,  what happens when I buy a color that is numbered between two already on a bobbin?  I see rewinding in my future.  To identify the colors, I used the pack of stickers you can buy from DMC.  Be forewarned,  the stickers are super tiny.

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They are also too large to fit in the Darice bobbin storage case, so be prepared to find a new option there, too, should you pick some up.  The Creative Options Deep Utility Box is a suitable replacement,  as it’s tall enough, but I’ll be keeping an eye out for something a bit cuter.

Overall thoughts: Cute for the Francophile looking for a new way to store floss, but a bit pricey and perhaps a little impractical.

 

FO Friday: Bubble Up Messy Bun Hat

I know what you’re thinking.   Who took over this blog and what did she do with Christine? There is no way that Christine is posting her third finished object in less than two months. But yet, it’s true and I totally am.  I present the Bubble Up Messy Bun Hat!

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I seem to have found my knitting mojo again.  I don’t know if it was prompted by responsiblity avoidance or the start of the Down Cellar Studio’s annual Pigskin Party,  but I took a weekend to do absolutely nothing of importance and just knit all day.  (If you don’t know what the DCS Pigskin Party is, check out the link here.  It’s my favorite KAL of the year! Mostly because I get to knit whatever I want and I can take months to finish it without being judged.)

A friend had asked for a messy bun hat awhile ago, I just needed to find a cute pattern.  I am pretty sure I looked at every pattern on Ravelry until I found the right one.  The Bubble Up Messy Bun Hat by Nicole Tsou comes in a set with three patterns – a regular beanie, a slouchy beanie, and the messy bun.  It retails for $2.50, which is pretty darn cheap considering you get three patterns.

Pattern in hand,  I wanted to match it with the perfect squishy yarn, so I used Hazel Knits Cadence, which is a superwash merino in a worsted weight.  My friend chose the Chocoberry colorway to match her coat.  US8 and US9 needles were called for in thd pattern.

Here is another view modeled by the infamous Pier 1 glass head.  (Remember when knitters decided this head was the perfect hat blocker and sold Pier 1 out across the country? I bet their buyers were so confused about why the strange head became so popular. It is such a weird little head. Crafters are funny. And resourceful.)

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I enjoyed this pattern so much, I think I am going to make another one.

Stash Enhancement Saturday: Erin Lane Project Bags

Every fiber artist needs a project bag or ten.  I probably have more than ten.  Okay, I actually probably have around 50, but I have a lot of WIPs!  I said that a little defensively,  I guess – can you feel personally attacked by your own words?  I also like how I used “a lot of WIPs” as an excuse there in that sentence instead of being ashamed that I start multiple projects without finishing the ones that came before. No matter, the point of this post is not my knitting habits, it is about the project bags made by Erin Lane Bags.

I love a good project bag, particularly in a cute fabric.  I am not typically drawn to traditional knitting bag patterns that contain frolicking sheep or balls of yarn on them, but if you can take sheep and put a twist on them with hand drawn characters in familiar situations, I can be intrigued.  Throw in some foul language, and my interest is piqued more.  And that is how I found myself buying multiple bags with Erin Lane’s signature sheep, Larry, on them.

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Poor Larry.  Things just don’t go his way.  I feel like he might be a little depressed.  I kind of want to give him a big hug and knit him a hat. In the picture above I have the large and sock sized drawstring project bags.  (Boy do they look wrinkled in that picture! I refuse to iron project bags, though.  I don’t even iron my clothes if I can help it!)

Larry isn’t the only unique sheep at Erin Lane. The brand has a wide range of exclusive fabrics containing what they call Sheeple, often placed in your favorite fandom, such as Harry Potter, Outlander and Star Wars.  I picked up a California themed Sheeple print in a sock bag and crafting Sheeple in a dice bag.

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If the sheeps aren’t your jam, don’t worry, Erin Lane does make project bags in other fabrics that you’ll see in some more of these pictures. I actually think Lindsey, the owner, has quite the knack for finding cute fabric.

Let’s start with the things I like.  All of the bags are fully lined with light colored fabric to keep needles from poking through and keeping the inside of the bag from being too dark to find your errant needles. The drawstring bags are self-locking, so you don’t need to worry about them coming open in your tote and small items falling out.  The fabric is also incredibly lightweight. A lot of other projects bags can feel thick and heavy, adding weight to toting your projects around, but I find Erin Lane bags to feel as light as a favorite worn t-shirt.

Large drawstring bags measure 15″ x 15″.  In this picture, I loaded it up with three balls of DK weight cotton yarn for reference.

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As you can see, there is still plenty of room for more yarn and your project in there.  I am currently carrying around a project that has 1000 yards of fingering weight yarn in it, and it all fits fine.  One of the drawbacks of this bag is that there is no box bottom, so if you like to knit right out of your bag, keep that in mind.

The sock project bag is my personal favorite size in the line up, and it DOES have a 5″ box bottom and stands about 7″ tall.  It also comes with a looped snap should you decide to hang it from a bag, chair, or your jeans.  For reference, this one is holding 2 of those same DK weight cotton balls.

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I am currently carrying around a sock bag that contains a ball of worsted merino, a hat, and two sizes of circular needles and it has so much room I am considering throwing another ball of worsted in there just in case I finish the hat and want to start another while I am away from home.

Erin Lane also has zippered bags.  They aren’t my favorite, but I do have a couple in my collection. This is the Z-Pro, which is 12″ x 9″ x 4″.  For reference, those DK cotton balls are back for another appearance.

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Also in the Erin Lane lineup, but which I don’t own any to show, are tote bags, bucket bags, and vinyl see through bags.  There are also needle and notions packs.  This is the KnitPack Notions bag.  The magnet closure actually slides and accommodates the bag when you add so many notions it gets a little chunky.

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As you can probably tell from the number of bags I own, I am a fan.  There are a couple of things that you should be aware of, though. None of these things will keep me from buying again, but I wanted to be fair in this review.

The website does not adequately show the bags available. The best way to see the selection is to find the Erin Lane booth at a fiber event or catch one of their Facebook live sales.  During the Facebook live, Lindsey will hold up a bag with the price,  and then if you are fast enough, you can claim and purchase the bag.  I find the live sales fun, but some items do immediately sell out, so if you are easily frustrated be prepared.

I wish the bags had a pocket inside.  I like to bring small notions with me like a tape measure, stitch markers,  or scissors, and without a pocket these items roll around the bottom of the bag with the yarn and project. Not a dealbreaker for me, but I wouldn’t mind paying a couple extra bucks for one.

And lastly, take a close look at your item before you use it.  I have had three kind of annoying things happen that have taught me a few lessons. First, sometimes the strings on the bag come without a knot.  It’s easy to knot yourself, but the first time I tried to close a bag that didn’t have a knot I was taken by surprise.

The other two annoyances came up with mail packaging. One bag came to me with the string closed up in the adhesive of the envelope, so I had to get the “goo” off of it.  The second instance was more disappointing.   I purchased a Larry mug from Pawley Studios during a live sale, and there was so little protective wrapping around the mug, it arrived in pieces. I’d recommend buying your mug directly from the Pawley Studios website.  (Pick up a Knitmore Girls mug there, too!)

Stash Enhancement Saturday: KAD Washi Cards

Krissyanne Designs has been a popular shop in the planner community for years, and with good reason.  Her stickers are amazing,  she collaborates with some of my favorite artists, and she frequently gives back to the community through her numerous sponsorships at events.  I definitely own my fair share of stuffed KAD sticker binders. This post isn’t about her stickers, though.  A few weeks ago she introduced perhaps my favorite KAD product to date – washi cards.

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People have long used things like embroidery floss bobbins or empty gift cards to trade washi samples or carry just a few strips in their bag rather than having to pack several rolls when crafting away from home.  KAD now gives us the opportunity to order personalized cards that are made from metal that will serve this purpose.  We can all stop stealing pretty (empty) gift cards at checkout stands now.  In honor of the start of football season, I pulled a couple rolls out to demonstrate.

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Having a metal edge means your washi card can actually double as a washi cutter.  Just lay your washi down, hold the edge of the card against where you want the cut to be, and pull up on your washi.  Voila! A crisp, clean edge.

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I used to carry around a palette knife to use as a cutter since cutting washi straight with a pair of scissors eludes me.  Palette knives work great, but they can also be a little bulky when trying to cram supplies in a pouch.  The washi card solves the space issue and works just as well.

Normally I try to be a bit balanced and offer some drawbacks to products if there are any, but I honestly can’t think of any.  I like them so much I plan to order quite a few to use as table mate gifts at meetups or to advertise with.  I highly recommend you order a few of your own just in case I love mine so much I can’t part with any.

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FO Friday: 3 Color Cashmere Cowl

Didn’t finish a project in more than a year, and now I am already back with a second FO in the span of a few weeks!  It’s a bloody miracle.  While I knew going back for a graduate degree would be time consuming,  I honestly didn’t think it would be this time consuming.   It will be over soon, though, so I just need to keep moving forward and being patient with the lack of creative time.

I started this project all the way back in 2016 during the Olympics.  It was my Ravellenics project that year and I clearly didn’t medal.   I did enjoy the project, despite the lack of medals, so I was determined to finish it.

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The pattern is the 3 Color Cashmere Cowl by Joji Locatelli.  I had purchased the yarn as a kit during the LA Yarn Crawl that year, so while the colors of the Lux Adorna Knits 100% Cashmere Sport Weight is beautiful, I get zero credit for matching the colors.  The colors included were Jackolope, Bikini and Spring.

I used a US 5 size needle, and if I were to make another one I would go down a needle size for the ribbing.  Here is what it looks like when flat.  You can see how loose the ribbing is in the picture.

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Joji’s patterns are a lot of fun to knit, so I highly recommend you attempt one yourself.