FO Friday – Christmas Knitting #1

Every year, I say no more Christmas knitting.  I never mean it, this year especially.  Obviously, with a new nephew, there will be Christmas knitting.  His first holiday package went out today,  the reversible hat (that you saw on Monday) and a new stuffed friend!


The little friend is not my favorite.  He’s a Rebecca Danger creature using her Basic Uni-Body design.  I meant to make a blue striped monkey but once I stuffed the body, I didn’t like it enough to do the monkey add ons.  There would have been ears, a tail and a protruding snout piece.

The snout piece was just too much.  It involves picking up a circle of stitches on the face, knitting outwards while shaping into a dome, stuffing it, closing it and then embroidering onto it.  I was not in the mood, so he’s just a funny, stripey, blue thingamabob.


Of course, because I don’t like him, I expect this will be Marcus’s favorite.  His floppy arms are perfect for grabbing and chewing!  I think those little legs are likely to get chewed on too!

I’ll attempt the monkey again something but I’ll skip the stripes.  Before that though, it’s time for Baby’s First Christmas Sweater.  It won’t be ugly.  It won’t even be tacky.  It will be a little naughty though!


I’m halfway through the back and with a little determination, this could be done by next Friday!  Three cheers for aran weight yarn and 4 stitches per inch!  Wooooooo!


Jimmy’s SmartStix Needle Review


I’m happy to have my needles clicking again…I don’t have much to show for my renewed efforts though…at least not on my Striped Esjan Shawl.  It’s going to be scrunched on the needles and hard to see for a while longer but I’m transitioning to the border so next to you see it, at least it’ll have new colors to look at!

In the meantime, let me tell you about Jimmy Beans new SmartStick knitting needle + tape measure combo.


Firstly, because of the recent kerfuffle with Making Things, I’ll tell you, I paid for these needles because I wanted to try them.  I’m not being compensated for this review.  I’m not getting kickbacks.  There’s no affiliate links (or links at all.  If you decide you want the needles, I’m sure you’re clever enough to find them on your own!)


So, the gimmick here (and yes, it is a total gimmick) is the needle has 1″ segments marked from tip to tip so it can double as a tape measure.

I’m firmly in the camp that says you measure with a ruler.  It’s the Elizabeth Zimmerman camp and she’s never wrong.  The logic here is you want the most accurate measurement and the firm edge of a ruler provides that.  Measuring flat on a table with a tape measure isn’t so bad but there’s still flexibility and wiggle room with that method.   Firm edge = best possible measurement.   Measuring with the floppy cord of a knitting needle (with knitting attached?) on your lap will never give you an accurate measurement.  I will never use this needle in that manner.  Seriously, I’m nixing this idea from the very beginning.

That said, I’ll step off my soap box and acknowledge that is not what the folks at Jimmy Beans are encouraging.  They say themselves on the package ‘for quick & dirty measuring on the go’.  Okay fine.

I’m really just in it for the needles.  I’m a die hard Addi fixed needle user.  I really do knit faster with the amazing Addi Turbo.  That’s not just lip service but I’m open to trying other needles.  One day something better than an Addi fixed may come along.   The SmartStix happen to be Knitter’s Pride needles, which I’ve never used.  There’s lots of things I like about it.


The join is smooth.  The tip is pointy but not so pointy that I impale my thumb.  I’m an occasional pusher.  I don’t do it all the time but when I do, I don’t want a needle so sharp it hurts.  The 1″ segments along the barrel are joined nicely, they don’t catch or snag.  I like the foil packaging with the sturdy zip top.  I store my needles in their original packaging, clearly the intent of this bag.


Personally, I prefer my needles a bit more slick.  In my mind, Addi’s are slick, not slippery.  If you think Addi’s are too slippery and you lose stitches off the end, you’ll enjoy the finish on these needles.  The feel of metal without the slipperiness.

The cord is soft and pliable despite being on the thick side.  It’s got a nice suppleness to it. It’s not stiff or inflexible.  I like the cord.  The markings on the needle barrel are engraved so no rubbing off.  I think the marks on the cord could wear off over time.  I tried my best to scratch one of the spots off with my finger nail.  I couldn’t so I think that bodes well for those who are into the tape measure gimmick.  It’ll require a lot of use before those marks show signs of wear and tear.

Ultimately, these are nice needles and the price is right.  I like them fine but they’ll never become my go to needles.  I wish they weren’t pink.  They’re color coded by cord length, 16″ are red, 24″ are blue, 32″ are green and 40″ are pink.  You get what you get.  40″ size 4 is my most used size so I went with it.  I’m sure it will get use…I always want to cast on another shawl.  I’m not rushing out to buy the interchangeable set or even another pair of the fixed needles though.

Now…on to that shawl edge!  I’m ready to tackle those 600 stitch rows!


A Triumphant Return!


Etsy Holiday Emporium weekend is over!  The show was a big success!  I had a really great time talking to all the people who came by.  It was so fun to see people connect with my brand of snark and laugh at all the same things I laugh.  It’s nice to have your art appreciated but this went a step beyond that.  It was a big helping of personal validation and who doesn’t like that.  Even better than that though, now that it’s over…I can get back to my knitting!

It’s been a month of virtually no knitting, in prep for the show.  I was excited to get right down to it, casting on a hat to work on throughout the weekend.  I picked a fun little slip stitch pattern that’s easy to memorize but has a big impact.

And, it’s reversible!  Spotted on one side, striped on the other…super fun!

Here’s how it works, in the round…

Round 1: With color A, K1, P1

Rounds 2 & 3:  With color B, S1 wyib, P1, K1, P1

Round 4:  With color A, K1, P1

So, really only two rows, just knits, purls and an occasional slip stitch.  Super easy!

The other noteworthy feature of this hat, is the cast on.  I’m going to tell you about it and hope you’ll try it out too.  I really love it.  This is the Alternating Cable Cast On.


I use it as a stand in for the Tubular Cast On.  The Alternating Cable Cast On is a lovely stretchy alternative that is easier and faster to execute.  I first learned it from Wooly Wormhead and she’s the goddess of hat, if there ever was one.  Here’s her tutorial for it, because she can surely give you the steps better than I can.

The basic explanation is this:  It’s the Cable Cast On with one change.  Instead of ‘knitting’ every stitch (inserting the needle from the front) you alternate between knit and purl (inserting the needle from the back).  It’s aptly named, the Alternating Cable Cast On…just a cable cast on that alternates between knits and purls, perfect for ribbing!

It’s a minor detail but I love minor details.  It’s the sort of thing that elevates homemade to handmade.  It’s a little bit of finesse that add to the polish of the finished hat tenfold!  I highly recommend it.

Of course, one hat didn’t last me long.  Day 2 of the show required another cast on…this time, I added a third color and went for a spiral knit stripey hat!


And, just like that, Christmas knitting has begun.  Next up, an ugly Christmas sweater for my cute little nephew and a whole slew of new stuffie animal friends for him.  It’s gonna be so good!  So, stand by as we have now returned to our regular knitting agenda!   Wooooo!


Reno Yarn Shops

I haven’t touched my knitting since we spoke last.  This is surely some sort of record for the longest I’ve gone without knitting in a decade.  Rest assured though, I am thinking about it.  I’m looking forward to getting back to it soon.

Mostly though, I’ve been working on craft fair preparations.  Cross stitching all I can and working on my table setup.

If you’re in San Francisco over Thanksgiving weekend, come visit the Etsy Holiday Emporium!  It’s Saturday and Sunday, down at Pier 35.


Okay, now that the self-promotion is out of the way, let’s get back to the part where I’m thinking about knitting.  What am I thinking about knitting?  I’m thinking, if you’re a knitter…Reno is a pretty fantastic place to live.

With the air quality so poor in San Francisco, I checked the map for the nearest clean air…Reno!  As usual, when I travel, local yarn shops were a factor in the decision.  Reno has Jimmy Beans Wool.  I’ve ordered from them a lot so getting to finally see the store was a no brainer!   I was out the door in no time…


They saved me a spot right in front!  As a city dweller, anytime I can drive up to a location and just park…it’s big news!  I’ve amassed a large collection of photos of my car in front of yarn shops.  It’s one of those things that is entirely trivial to most Jimmy Beans shoppers.  Reno has parking, everywhere, all the time.  It’s amazing.  Totally worth the 3.5 hour commute!

The general theme of having space continued.  Jimmy Beans is huge and spacious by most standards and certainly in comparison to Bay Area shops.  They have a big showroom with plenty of sofas and armchairs, complete with coffee tables.  Really, an impressive amount of furniture.  Perfect for sitting and knitting!

Adjacent to the big open floor, is a series of rooms.  Offices, once upon a time, but now, yarn rooms!  One for Rowan, One for Lorna’s Laces, One for MadelineTosh and so on.  Each one spacious and perfectly merchandised.  It’s a really lovely store for shopping in.  There was a lot to see and going from room to room was like a treasure hunt…what will we find in the next room?

I am going to knock them a bit though.  All that gorgeous space and beautiful merchandising but I wasn’t wowed by the actual merchandise.  I didn’t find anything special, unusual or new to me.  Malabrigo is great.  I love it but I can get it anywhere.  MadTosh…still the most amazing colorways but it’s everywhere these days.  Same with Shibui.  Lorna’s Laces and Rowan, old standbys.  Not exciting and new.  I did find something to buy though…fear not!  I picked up a couple skeins of electric blue Kidsilk Haze to give my shawl edging a fun pop when I finally get back to my knitting.

Now, don’t get me wrong…I’ll continue to shop with Jimmy Beans.  They ship fast, have great prices and a large selection of yarns I’m familiar with (always key when ordering online) but for new, exciting, trendy yarns…I’ll go across town to Yarn Refuge!


Again with the parking right in front!  Seriously, it never gets old.  And, again, with the large shop, full of furniture but still clean, uncluttered and spacious!

The first yarn you find upon entering the shop is Brooklyn Tweed.  That’s always a good sign.  They also had Rowan, Swans Island and Noro.  Beyond that, it was lots of indie dyers, some that I know, Anzula, Urth Yarns and lots that I’d never even heard of…Brew City Yarns and Arkaik Fibers to name a few.

I ended up with a skein from Storyteller Yarns.  An indie dyer from the Lake Tahoe area that I’ve followed on instagram for some time.  A beautiful green speckly colorway called Witch Mountain.  It’ll fit my green speckle fade collection perfectly!  I’m very excited to get back to my knitting so I can use it!

I think my favorite part of Yarn Refuge was the owner though.  She had a house full of Saturday afternoon regulars knitting and chatting away.  I don’t need to be helped in a yarn store.  This ain’t my first rodeo but when the time comes, I do want my money to be taken promptly.  As a retailer, you need to take my money easily.  If you make me work to give you my money, I’m probably not going to do it.

The owner at Yarn Refuge has great retail skills.  Something I think most yarn store owners overlook — the actual ability to run the shop seamlessly.  She was great at moving from chatting with regulars to helping customers.  I wasn’t the only one shopping but when the time came, one simple look and she knew I was ready to go.  It’s hard to find that perfect balance of how much help each customer wants…some people want to be talked to, some people don’t.  Those interactions and knowing how to read different customers is a nuance of retail work that’s not often found.  I really appreciated everything about my Yarn Refuge experience.

Great space + great yarn selection + great service = a perfect knitting experience.  Without a doubt, I highly recommend visiting the Yarn Refuge when you’re in Reno.  I think you’ll like it too!


WIP Wednesday

The progress on my Striped Esjan is slow but steady!  I’m nearly ready to make the switch from body to border.  I may have to stash dive again to come up with more color choices.  We’ll see…this sucker is definitely eating up the yarn!

I’m still spending most of my time preparing for the SFEtsy Holiday Emporium!  I feel a Bah Humbug coming on…

Here’s the details, if you’ll be in San Francisco Thanksgiving weekend!


Now, back to the stitching and the booth building!  There’s still loads to be done!