Saturday, November 29, 2014

Black Friday purchases and a Crafty Thanksgiving!

Happy Holidays! I had a great day yesterday, cooking up the turkey and our Thanksgiving meal for 8. I made more food than necessary, as usual, but the leftovers were great for my crafty get together today, so it all worked out.

I had been looking around, and one of my Facebook groups mentioned that Knitpicks was having a sale, so I browsed around, and ended up putting just enough in my cart for free shipping. I had my mom look at some of the yarn, and managed to snag some of the ones she wanted (I think they will be her Christmas gift this year!). I'm going making good progress on my socks, so I also ordered some self-striping yarn for the next pair in my queue.

In other news, I had a few friends over for a Crafts and Thanskgiving Leftovers party. We had lunch with all of the leftovers my parents wanted to get rid of, and had a fun time knitting, making Christmas cards, and watching Harry Potter. We had a great discussion about how strange and sad it is that the HP series are over. We basically grew up around HP, the books and the movies.

All in all, it was a great Friday. Not too much crazy Black Friday-ness around here, but just enough.

*update* Okay. Confession time. After I published the post, I then caved and bought 5 of Alana Dakos's patterns on Ravelry. They were 50% off! I couldn't resist! Can't wait to add them to my queue, though: they are GORGEOUS. That is all. ~Z

Friday, November 28, 2014

Yarn Haul! And a visit to a LYS!

I had been feeling bad that I hadn't visited any of the local yarn shops in town, so I searched around (Google and Ravelry), and found that there was a really cool shop not too far away, called Sin City Knit Shop. It was on my way back from school today, and since I had taken a tough exam today, I felt that I deserved a little fun time.

I loved visiting the shop, and though it was a quick visit, I liked what I saw. They were having a sit-and-spin session in one corner, and a few ladies had spinning wheels out. There were some large tables where you could sit and knit all day, and the walls were covered in shelves of colorful yarn that I could just stare at (and knit) all day! I also LOVED their collection of funky and cute knitting needles.

The saleslady was quite pleasant, and let me browse as much as possible. I wasn't going to buy anything at the beginning, but I got caught up in the specialty yarns, and ended up buying a hank of specially-dyed for the store worsted weight striped yarn, as well as a ball of sock yarn that I'm hoping to knit into socks for my mom.

It was great to see yarn outside of big box stores, and I'll hope to visit the store again soon, though my wallet probably won't welcome it as much. The one thing I do have to say is that yarn is a bit more expensive in the local yarn store, as is fabric in a local quilt shop, but it is worth it, to make sure that people can earn a living, and that we are contributing to the local economy. :) I can't afford to buy much, but given the choice, I try to spend as much as I can at the local economic level.

Now, back to my socks! Happy Knitting! ~Z

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

WIP update! Sock 1 completed!

I'm so excited! I just finished my first sock! Ahhh! It's so cool! I've wanted to knit socks for YEARS, and the heel part always intimidated me. Here is the link to the pattern I used. It's great for beginners because the author leads you through each step, and you don't even have to READ the pattern:

Here is a picture of the first sock, completed!

I've already cast on for the second one, and hopefully it will also fit! I've learned so much from knitting this one, and I'm excited for the possibilities of the future: different colors, patterns, striping, etc! I've gotten so addicted to Ravelry, and I've got quite a few projects queued up, but let's finish the second sock first! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Book Review/rant: Knit-lit!

I've been doing some reading lately of what have been called "knit-lits". (Well, that is what one of the authors in the genre, Rachael Herron calls them!) I sometimes find that when I am having trouble with a pattern, it helps to take a break and read something light and fun that incorporates the craft I am doing.

As it is fall, I've mentioned that I've been putting away the papercrafts and switching to knitting, and I wanted to find some books about knitting. Enter Rachael Herron's series, the Cypress Hollow books, which are indeed contemporary chick-lit books (romance novels, if you will), that all feature protagonists who knit or deal with knitting. From a doctor to a bookshop owner, a hand-crafts seller to an author, the characters featured in this series are all strong women who deal with everyday life. I heartily approve of this series and its characters, and the icing on the cake is that each of the books includes a free pattern in the end, a project that the protagonist worked on during the novel. How cool is that?

I must admit that I started reading Rachael's books accidentally (I'd been searching on my library's website for knitting ebooks, and one of her books actually popped up along with the pattern books), but I've enjoyed all of the thoroughly. I started with the first, and within a week not only worked my way through all of them, but bought four out of the five books! With my own money! (Cheapskate that I am, that is a BIG deal.) That's how good the books are. Now, these are romance novels, so they also do have the spicy bit. :)

I also read my way through the first of Terri DuLong's novels, Spinning Forward, which was good but somehow paled against Herron's books. I found the protagonist a little wishy-washy, and things seemed to happen too much in coincidence. Overall, though, the story is strong, and I would give this book a read again, if only through checking it out from the library.

Friday Night Knitting Club was my third pick, the book that apparently (in my ignorance I read third), started the whole "knit-lit" genre! It was a great story about a single-mother/yarn store owner, and I cried over the book when it ended. The characters were great and the story believable, but somehow I felt like some parts that could have been more elaborate were shorter, and other exposition that could have been cut went on and on. Overall, I loved the story, and I may buy this in the future for a re-read.

All these books were a pretty quick/light read, and reading them definitely helped me to become motivated again to knit. Most of these books are available in audiobook form, so you can think about knitting while listening to a novel about knitting while actually knitting...mind=blown!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Progress on WIP!

I started reading (in Rachael Herron's words) "Knit-lit", which is chick-lit that revolves around knitting, and I decided that it was TIME. Time for me to learn how to knit socks, that is! I've knit many many scarves, a blanket, as well as some hats and costume headbands/ears. (Incidentally, I actually started knitting again because I accidentally mentioned that I could knit some ears as Halloween costumes for the pediatrics office staff, and then I had to make good on my words and actually bring my knitting to the office. Peds! My favorite (and most hardworking) clerkship I've been on, mostly because the day when something like this: 

9am: See the 2-3pts that are here before school starts
10am-12pm: see 1-2 pts that are here for walk-in appts d/t emergencies, or the children are too young to be in school, then sit in the office and knit with S,my fellow med student (who is also on this Peds rotation with me), 
12pm: lunch provided by the preceptor (She cooks for us! And it is ALWAYS delicious!)
12:30pm-3pm: knit and study for the clerkship exam
3:30pm-7pm: See the 20-40pts (yes, up to FORTY pts come in within those four and a half hours after school!), that come after school, usually in families of 4-5 kids

7pm: help clean up, stand awkwardly for a while, and then go home in the dark. 

Anyways, enough random rambling. I started knitting socks, as I stated before, and here is a picture of the sock! I've made slightly more progress than the picture, but I wanted to show off my ribbed section. :) 

One final note about knitting socks: I wanted to do it right the first time, so I read up a bunch and everything said I HAD to use sock-weight yarn, which is teeny tiny compared to my normal sport/worsted/chunky weight skeins used for scarves and hats. Progress has been slow, but now that I've turned the heel, the end (or at least the toe) is in sight, and I'm SO excited! More pics when I finish the first sock! ~Z

Saturday, November 22, 2014

It's Fall...

Which means that I switch from cardmaking and scrapbooking to knitting and quilting! I'm on surgery rotation this month, which is a lot of sitting and waiting around for cases to start, as well as days on call where there isn't much to do but to wait for something to happen, which is perfect for knitting.

I learned to knit when I was little. It was inevitable in my household, where the Chinese aunties subtly try to one-up each other with their newest handknits and no one gets through a winter without at least one new handknit sweater. My mom actually taught me how to knit in grade school, but I didn't really do much with the knowledge until I began college. (I was tired of my mom haranguing about how I was holding the needles, so I learned to knit and then promptly quit knitting.) In college, knitting was just getting popular again, and all my friends were knitting each other scarves, so I went out to the nearest big-box store and bought myself some new double pointed needles and a few skeins of acrylics (hey, I was on a budget.) and joined right in.

I discovered that knitting is FUN. It always seemed to me when I was growing up that knitting was just a skill that people did, and it was the means to an end (pretty, warm sweaters that you could also use as bragging rights), but it never occurred to me that it could also be fun and relaxing at the same time. So now, with this knowledge, I added knitting onto my ever-revolving cache of crafts that switch as the seasons (and my interests) change.

On a side note, I also discovered that there are such things as knitting podcasts! Most are simple affairs, with the podcaster talking about what they'd finished knitting, their works in progress (WIPs), and what they want to knit next, as well as some tidbits from their lives. Some of them also do book reviews, product reviews, and interviews with authors! Some of my favorites so far: TapGurlKnits, BostonJen (DownCellar Studio), Knitting in circles (on Youtube), and the Knitmore Girls!