Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Announcing a Giveaway!

Be sure to head over to my other blog and sign up to win a set of 4 all cotton cloths. They're in lovely spring colors...

I only wish I could include a dishwasher or maid in the deal. So sorry!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Are you bi-stitchual???

Hmmm...that sounds very risque doesn't it????

Are you thinking that I've lost my mind? Nope. I'm fine. This post really is about knitting. Honest!

Take another look. That's B-I-S-T-I-T-C-H-U-A-L.


Bi - meaning "two"

Stitch - referencing stitches we make when when knitting or crocheting

ual - referring to U ALL...hehehe...just kidding!


So, are you? Can you crochet AND knit (or knit and crochet - I certainly don't want to offend)?

It's said that Jen, a lady from Ravelry, coined this phrase. I'm not sure, but it is an attention getter. I also believe that it's applicable to many of us.

Ok, guys. This is your new word for the day!

Say it loud and say it proud -


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Knitting vs. Crochet

Photo from Flickr

Since I've recently learned to crochet I've had quite a few people ask me which one I like better. Here's what I've decided.

Knitting :

PROS - It's fairly easy to learn. You can make pretty much anything with those two sticks, if you set your mind to it! I definitely like circular needles. They allow you to easily connect your project sides, without any additional stitching.

Stockinette stitch is one of my favorites. The chevron pattern that appears can be spectacular with certain yarns! The multitude of patterns that you can make are mind boggling. I believe you could knit a different pattern every day for a year and not even put a dent in the spectrum of patterns.

I prefer the tightness that can be achieved with knitted fabrics. This is particularly helpful in sweaters, glove, hats, and the like.

CONS - Some of the designs are fairly complicated to achieve. The "wrong" side of some of the patterns is not very pretty and could potentially cause problems when putting on or taking off the item.

When you make a (noticeable) mistake it can be difficult to back down to the error for correction. The last time I backed down, somehow I ended up on the bias and was then forced to unravel twice as much yarn as I originally needed to.

Carrying the entire weight of some projects can be tiring to your arms and hands.

Crochet -

PROS - Even easier to learn. The patterns are fairly simple and quick to grasp. Having one needle has it's benefits. This may actually make it easier to participate in other things while continuing your project. Additionally, you carry less weight on your arms by releasing the project as you go, which may allow you to work longer.

Triple and Quadruple crochet sets make light and airy projects a breeze. These are wonderful for spring, summer, and fall accessories. I love the ease of creating circular and connecting rows for more stitchless projects!

The best thing about crochet to me is the ease of correcting errors. You know they're going to happen and the ability to take out one individual set at a time makes it much less frustrating to correct the problem.

CONS - Crochet projects are touted to use more yarn than knit items. Counting is pretty much a given for any project due to half double, double, triple, etc... If you miss count then you mess up the stitch.

The hand that I hold my project with tends to cramp from holding the project in a similar position for extended periods of time. Even though the hand position is similar to the one you use in traditional knitting, this position bothers me more than the knitting position. It may have something to do with the tension...

Things I love about both -

Available yarn selections are phenomenal! Whether you want basic acrylic, wool or silk you can find what you need in hundreds of color varieties. The possibilities of creating the exact same project as some one else has to be close to a million to one.

Portability is a huge plus for me. I LOVE the fact that I can take my craft anywhere and work. Waiting for appointments has never been so pleasurable!


Do you have a preference? Which one do you like better and why? Or do you appreciate them both?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Admirable efforts

While working on my new Etsy shop configuration, I've also been doing research on what sales on their site. I'm thinking that rather than being inspirational or assisting me in pricing comparisons, this may end up being detrimental to my slim, trim pocketbook...

These beautiful creations are all sold in one shop on Etsy - Gsakowski Designs . The photos are a sampling of their collection. My first visit to their shop left me drooling. A few are reminiscent of the 1900's and all are graceful, colorful, and so artistic. Of course, my deep love of flowers certainly taints my opinion...

The saving grace - I have no where to wear this gorgeous creations to (otherwise, I may buy out the store!)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Another Knitting Machine masterpiece...

Truly, it's not really a masterpiece but, that sounded good didn't it? Oh, to be the Michelangelo of the knitting world! I suppose that will have to wait. Guess I better get back to the reality of it all...

This shawl began last week as a creative attempt in crochet. I found a beautiful pattern for a triangular shawl. Honestly, I tried to stick to the pattern. Promise. However, when I got to the 4th step I was lost. It looked and sounded complicated. There was no way that I could wrap my mind around that concept. Rather than give up on the start I had, I messed around a bit with the original stitches, to no avail.

Unraveling that bit led me to another attempt at a triangular shawl. This one was shear imagination on my part. It started well, but I landed in the place of "I should've increased more" once again. My mother, who was sitting nearby crocheting her heart out, told me to give up and unravel it. Not being a quitter by nature, I staunchly refused and kept going.

Two days later I was racking my brain for ideas on how to salvage what would've been a fantastic shawl, had I only changed the increase rate. I began to improvise with rotation and addition along the sides, which looked good (for a while). Somehow I ended up with what appeared to be a VERY large thong - definitely NOT what I was looking for. Resigning to failure, I begrudgingly unraveled the "thong" and quickly resolved to complete a shawl on my new knitting machine.

After letting the yarn relax overnight, I began the process loading the machine. Four hours later I had a complete shawl base. Please note that the four hour time frame includes a forty-five minute learning allowance for me. I wanted to attempt a cabled edge at either side of the shawl. It worked fairly well, although there was a step that I neglected to follow through with. That step would've made the cable a bit more pronounced. (The recommendation was to remove the stitches on either side of the cable. By then I was afraid to ruin this project again, so I skipped that part.)

The effect is nice, even though the cable is not as raised as one would expect it to be. The yarn used is a basic white cotton by Lily. Normally, it would be used for washcloths or rugs, but someone donated it to the prayer shawl ministry. Ideally, it will become a super soft, durable shawl for someone!

The following morning the fringe was added. I felt that the width of the shawl was a bit shorter than I'd hoped. It was a little hard to properly gauge the length while knitting the shawl as you have to roll the fabric in on itself to keep the weight properly balanced. The fringe helped with this matter.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Help! They're taking over!

Do you ever get to that point?

Have you ever completed so many projects in such a short time that you dream of the pattern?

Do you knit or crochet in your sleep?

Do you jump up in the middle of the night to hurriedly scribble on a note pad, because you know that if you wait for the morning you'll forget the pattern idea?

I'm there! (But, I'm not sure if that good or not...) I've been here before - when learning to tinker with new recipes, when learning a new language, when starting a new relationship as a teen. I suppose we all go through this when learning anything new. Some days it's fun because I never quite lose motivation. Others is wish I could sit down without grabbing needles.

There are so many completed projects sitting around my house that I think they're starting to take over! It's like those bad 80's horror movies. You know the ones...where something oozes around the corner chasing you or the black entity that is always lurking close by.

Here they are - don't let them follow you home...

Of course all are for sale in my Etsy shop - VidaDulce...it's ok if you do want them to follow you home...but only if you promise to provide a good, loving home for them!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dolls of Hope

Our church publishes a worldwide, monthly publication that contains information on things going on all over the US and other countries involving our congregations. It's called "The Moravian". The most recent copy contained something near and dear to my heart - KNITTING!

As a church, we have a decent presence there and during visits with the local congregations the Director of Likewise/AIDS Ministries of the Board of World Mission, Kim Bartholomew, learned of a need to bring comfort to hurting children. The idea is to bring them comfort through dolls and other stuffed animals. They have started a Duduza Doll Ministry through the Board of World Mission.

"My heart both broke and rejoiced as I thought about the great possibilities for this ministry. It grieved me to be reminded that there are children without anything to hold as they live lives filled with trauma and pain. Yet, excitement bubbled up within as I searched for possible patterns and watched my first doll take shape,"
says article author Pastor Kelly Moore.

They have issued an invitation to be creative and create knitted, crocheted, or sewn dolls to share with these children a world away. If you are interested in more information please visit the Moravian Board of World Mission website. The site has links to online patterns.

If you are so inclined, start a ministry in your church or neighborhood. You needn't feel compelled to participate in ours, but participate somewhere!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Busy, busy bee...

My hands have been busy this past week creating many, many crocheted dish cloths and some knitted reusable "swiffer" cleaning pads. They've turned out well and I've had fun making photos to post to Etsy, my blog and Ravelry. Sometimes it's challenge to get the lighting just right and the photos cropped to suit you, but it's always worth it for a good photo.

Although, I have seen some really top notch photos on other blogs. Perhaps I should invest in a better digital camera????? (Here I go again. Always dreaming up more ways to spend money!)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The large scale knitting dream...

If you're in your 30's, as I am, you may remember an infomercial from the mid 90's about a knitting machine. Many sleepless nights were spent in bleary-eyed envy watching those actors knit at alarming speeds to produce custom sweaters, handbags, and various other projects. Some nights I even stayed up channel surfing, hoping to catch a glimpse of the machine in action! (Sad isn't it?)

Fast forward to last November. I was fortunate to bunk with my pastors wife at a retreat. She's chock full of stories and information on things that most people never ever think about. I always enjoy picking her brain and gobbling up the morsels of information. Somehow knitting came into the chat and she mentioned the recent purchase of a knitting machine -

STOP, hold your horses, did you say knitting machine?

Yes, I thought that once we finished remodeling our kitchen I'd give it a try. It looks easy enough!

Intermingled with drool came my hundreds of questions, the most important of which being "When do you think you'll try it?" The look on my face would've been enough to stop most people in their tracks, tuck tail, and run. Not Debbie. She patiently answered all of my questions, never minding the drool!

This brings us to the receipt of my tax refund. Two weeks ago, coincidentally the same day I received my tax refund, I found a "50% off any item" coupon for one of my favorite craft stores, AC Moore. Shortly after Debbie informed me of her knitting machine purchase I began pricing them at local stores and I knew that AC Moore had the best price without a coupon. Being extremely frugal (i.e. cheap) there was no way on earth I could justify spending over $100 on this. The coupon was the perfect excuse. Hooray for coupons!

The next day was spent assembling the kit and attempting to knit a few rows. The recommendations were for the machine to be mounted to a stable, sturdy table and the only one that I have that's large enough to hold it is cluttered with our homeschool books and papers. Therefore, the initial project was started on the floor. I quickly realized that the table was going to be a necessity. Fortunately, I had another project waiting in the wings to bring this to fruition!

This past week the table was ready and off I went. My first project was a baby hat, which was made partly according to the instructional video and with the yarn that came with the machine, Caron Simply Soft in yellow. It took about 3 hours to complete which includes the time to watch and re-watch the instructional DVD, read the instruction manual for further information, cast on and cast off. Not too bad. I will say that I think the machine works better with some knitting know-how, otherwise casting off would be a true chore to figure out. Otherwise, I love the machine!

I can't wait to conquer all of the projects included in the instruction booklet. They walk you through various projects to enable mastering of machine, which is fantastic in my book!

I thought this would be perfect for those of us who would like to knit on a large scale. Don't misunderstand. I LOVE to knit by hand, but knitting by hand and selling your wears for near the cost of yarn is not viable in my humble opinion. Is this wrong? Does it ruin the effect of thoughtfully made items?

**By the way, the machine I purchased is called The Ultimate Sweater Machine by Bond America. Their website claims that you can produce 20" of knitting in about 5 minutes. I'll assume this is without any ornamentation and once you're completely comfortable using the machine. **

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tartar sauce...

No, I'm not eating fish. I'm pouting.

"Tartar sauce" is the saying that my dear son used when younger to show his frustration. I thought I'd borrow it today...

Last night I drove to the other side of town for the first CraftDen meeting and found out that the leader had a family emergency. While hoping it was nothing too serious and easily remedied, I found myself pouting about the cancellation. I've so looked forward to the get together. But, life happens. Hopefully everything is ok and we'll get together soon.

I had another "tartar sauce" moment this week when the crocheted, triangular shawl I was working on was deemed "granny panties" by half of the ladies in my prayer shawl ministry group. I don't know about their grandmothers, but mine NEVER wore a thong! ;-)

Needless to say that project was scrapped. Oh well! I think I'll try cabling something on my new knitting machine this weekend.

Hmmm....that idea made everything brighter!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My new knitting group...

Tonight is the first meeting of a new knitting group that I found on this neat meeting group website, Meet Up.com. I found this site purely by accident. After completing a search for local knitting groups through GoodSearch, I followed a link that led me to another link, which led me to this link. How lucky can you get?

I've been searching for a group since the early fall and finally happened upon this one that started in January. What does the bible say? "Ask and you shall receive, knock and the door will be opened..."

It's called CraftDen and it's for anyone that has a portable handcraft - knitting, crochet, smaller quilting, etc... A nice lady that moved to the area from another state thought this one up for us. When I joined in early February there were about 10 other members. Now there are over 30! From the looks of it most are knitters. Wow! Apparently there were alot of us waiting on someone else to take the initiative...

We'll be meeting tonight at a local Starbucks. I'll let you know how it turns out!

In the mean time, get yourselves on over to MeetUp.com and find some local groups in your area. They have everything from crafts, weekend getaway clubs, and paranormal societies to chess and motorcycle clubs. I'm sure you'll find something to get involved with!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

My new Etsy shop...

You may have noticed that I was absent from my blogs for a few days. (If not, I still love you anyway!) I took a break last week to get my Etsy store up and going. It's called La Vida Dulce and there is a box on the right hand side of the screen where you can preview my current offerings.

I discovered Etsy completely by accident. I've had an e-Bay Store for years and was searching for another selling venue, when I happened upon Etsy. They're very similar as to how listings are posted, although their fees are substantially different and Etsy is oriented almost entirely toward handmade items and support for those crafty people.

Etsy is also a "Buy-It-Now" community. There is no auction and waiting period. If you want it, you buy it. There is the familiar feedback and store set up, but the listings all look very similar. There apparently is no use of HTML, which keeps the listings from being overly gaudy or sensational.

Of course, I'll still have my e-Bay store, as I sell books there. Did I tell you that I'm a book worm from way back? It's true. And I love to learn! When I was piecing together my sons' curriculum for homeschool this year I went so far overboard I almost touched the bottom of the ocean! Embarrassing but true. Hence the textbook selection. I would never need all of those books on hand and I'm not planning on starting a library anytime soon, so off to e-Bay we went!

I will be selling a variety of items on Etsy, made in between projects for the Prayer Shawl Ministry. The first of which is listed now - a Pink and Black boucle shrug. Perfect for spring!

Thanks to my lovely friend, Lauren, for being my model!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

My Hubby's Christmas scarf

So, after several complaints from me on how badly the stockinette rolls and 3 attempts at a proper scarf for my husband, this is what we arrived at...

I decided to go with the roll effect and utilize it. I ribbed the scarf by alternating knit and purl from side to side. You knit the purls and purl the knits on each rotation. I love the effect and it gives him some extra warmth due to the propensity of the ribs to remain closed.

I wish that it was wider than this, but I had no more of the blue yarn and can't remember the manufacturer information since it's been so long since I made the first scarf. Hubby seems ok with it, but wasn't so excited as the first scarf. He has yet to wear it and I finished it 2 weeks ago.
Oh well, I tried!

Friday, March 6, 2009

My 2nd crochet project

Ok, so technically this is the first total crochet project, but the second project that I have crocheted some part of. Does that make sense? (Does it matter???? *laughing at myself*...)

I was in desperate need to make another prayer shawl since I recently made several personal projects and some hats and lap robes for the ministry. Wanting to continue with my new found crochet skills was a given. If you follow this blog, you know that I rebel against patterns, so of course, I made this one up. It satisfies my desire to test out the difference between double and triple crochet. This also allowed me plenty of time to play with the tension and develop my hooking skills!

What a joy it is to learn a new skill. This long, lean, lacy shawl will wrap someone in love and, hopefully, they will feel the joy that went into making it!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Did I tell you that...

Did I tell you guys that learning how to crochet was also on my to-do list? Well, it was. Did you hear the sound of me checking it off?

I started by putting an edge on this baby blanket/lap robe that I knitted in stockinette. Yes, stockinette. As much as I complain about the rolling issue, I love the way it looks and feels, especially with a yarn that patterns. Speaking of self-patterning yarn - I pulled this cute wool yarn out of the Prayer Shawl Ministry stash. There was only one skein and this particular yarn is no longer being manufactured. I paired it up with this super soft acrylic, also from the stash and discontinued.

The self-patterning yarn was navy blue with random color changes from teal to yellow to peach, but very subtle and understated colors. This may have made up some great socks! The problem came with the pairing. The acrylic was a similar shade of blue and initially the two looked great together. However, after several rows I noticed that the pattern was lost in the mix. Darn it. When you stand back it almost makes the blanket look worn or dirty. Oh, well! It's still super soft and cozy warm. I can just picture some little baby snuggled up for bedtime in it!

Once the crochet edging had been completed it did look better, but still not quite how I had pictured. AND, of course, the blanket still rolls, although not as badly. Perhaps once it's washed it will stop the incessant rolling.

Oh, and no, that's not a pocket in the middle. I got tired of the same stitch about halfway through and decided to add a square in the center. This enabled me to switch up the stitch by changing from purl to knit and vice versa periodically, while leaving an interesting design on both sides. This is another design trick I can check off my list!