Follow me as I go undercover to bring you information about my adventures in knitting and motherhood.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Holiday Fun

Happy New Year's Eve to all!  Sorry for my absence from the blogsphere.  I could make lots of excuses but frankly I've just been super busy with the holiday hustle and bustle and haven't made the time to blog.  My New Year's resolution is to get back on track!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday.  I have lots of fun images from the holiday to share.  Just because I haven't been blogging doesn't mean I haven't been knitting!

The first image is of the holiday stockings, felted, and filled to the brim.

As you might remember, I had big plan to decorate these stockings once I completed them but they looked so cute as they were I just left them alone.  I also managed to whip up another Frog for Sammy's stocking.  This is really a great little knit and takes no time at all.

I also knitted up the most adorable cardigan for Sammy for Christmas.  He's modeling it here.
I know I'm biased but is he not the cutest kid ever???  This is the Sheep Yoke Cardigan from Looking Glass Knits.  I made it a little on the big side hoping it would last more than one winter.  I'll be posting my project notes on Ravelry soon if you are interested in how I re-sized the sweater. Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the end result although it is a bit big in the shoulders for him.  My favorite part is that I even found sheep for the buttons! 

I also made what I think is the perfect sports team hat for my husband in Virginia Tech colors.  Here's his self portrait.

I'll be posting the pattern for the this one in the coming weeks after I test the pattern.

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe New Year's Eve filled with lots of joy and knitting!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Frog In Time-Out

Remember how when we last spoke, I was planning to knit up this adorable little frog for a friend of mine at work?  Well let's just say it did not go well.  The pattern requires you to start out knitting on double pointed needles, a first for me but not something I thought would be overly difficult.  Boy was I wrong!  I just can not get the hang of it for some reason.  My pal Ashley even spent some time on Sunday trying to tutor me but I found it so frustrating that I just threw the needles down in disgust and starting knitting what I do a best...a HAT!  

Here's a photo of the Noedel hat.  I knit it up using Spud and Chole Sweater in Grass.  I may get creative and make a pink flower for the brim as well.

Hopefully, I'll give the frog another try after he's spent a bit longer in time-out.  He earned it.

On my needles right now is the Cowl With a Little Twist.  I knit one up for myself last week and liked it so much that I'm making another one for my Mother-In-Law for Christmas.  

I also worked on a new hat design last week but I won't be able to share that with you until after the holidays since it's a present for my husband and I know you are reading baby!


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Shopping Trip....

Happy Hump Day everyone!  I hope you all had an exciting election day.  I'll admit I'm disappointed with the results but it did have an unexpected benefit.  Fibre Space, a great yarn shop in Alexandria, VA, offered a 10% discount yesterday if you came in wearing your I Voted sticker.  Since they carry Spud and Chloe, which I've been dying to try, I decided to throw Sam in the car yesterday afternoon and make the normally 45 minute trek to check out the store.  Honestly, I'm not sure it was the best decision I ever made only because traffic on 495 was a disaster and Sam was less than pleased about being in his car seat for over three hours total.  

I did manage to spend a few minutes browsing in the store before we had to head back out into traffic.  It's a beautiful store.  Very cozy and it made me wish I was sans-Sam so I could just sit down and knit.  They had a great selection of Spud and Chloe yarn as well.  I purchased some beautiful Sweater in Grass and Turtle.

And some Fine in Snorkel and Shitake.

Since I've completed the last of my Christmas stockings, I'll be using the Grass to knit this adorable frog for a friend at work who is expecting a baby in January.  If it turns out well I'll use the Turtle to make one for Sam.  I have to say though that I've fallen in love with the Turtle color and may have to steal it to make something for myself!  

I also found this fantastic stich marker at the checkout counter. 

Now at first look you might just think he's an adorable little red dog.  But wait...

He's hiding scissors!  I can't wait to use this tool!  If you want more information on where to find your own, leave a comment and I'll get you the information.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Contest Winner and A Knitting Diversion

Happy Thursday everyone!  The Darkside Hat has been doing far better than I even dreamed.  So far, 61 people have favorited the hat on Ravelry, 2 people are working on active projects and 10 others have queued the pattern.  I'm thrilled with all the interest and am hopeful that those first knitters enjoy the results as much as I do.  

My parents are in town for a visit this week and my Mom took one look at the white hat and packed it in her suitcase.  Little does she know that I made it from wool I had leftover from her scarf so she'll have a perfect matching set.  Maybe I'll try to squeeze in some mitts for her to match before the holidays.

I'm also finally getting around to announcing the winner of the Darkside Hat contest.  My apolgies for the delay but it's been a crazy week at our house and I'm just getting a chance to catch up in blog world.  The winner of my first ever contest is....DRUMROLL....Lisa.  One beautiful skein of Knit Picks DK Swish is on it's way to you as soon as I get an email from you with your address!  Unfortunately you didn't leave a way for me to get in touch.

In other news, I've had a bit of a knitting diversion this week.  With my Mom in town we decided to tackle making a quilted Christmas Tree Skirt for my new tree.  

Here's a photo of the finished product.  

I'm really pleased with the results but I have to tell you there are good solid reasons I'm a knitter and not a seamstress!  Luckily despite our pattern hiccups we managed to stay in good spirits and knock the project out in about 9 hours of work.  It could have been faster if we weren't so error prone and a pair of gigglers!

Here's a close up of my favorite fabric that was used in the project.  Aren't the reindeer just too cute???

I've got the second of our Christmas stockings on the needles right now and am hopeful that I'll have it finished by the end of the weekend or at least that is my goal.  My friend Ashley is coming over Sunday to take some photos of Sam and to spend some time teaching me how to knit using a chart.  Once that happens I'm itching to get started on a project I've had in my queue for Sam.  I'll share more details about that soon...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Darkside Hat

The Darkside Hat pattern is finally complete!  Here is the pdf link.  I had a blast designing it and am hopeful that others will enjoy knitting it as much as I did.  It's based on Sarah Fama's Darkside Cowl and Sarah Hood has written up project notes for a matching set of mitts.  If you're looking for a great set to make for Christmas presents, this one could be a winner. 

Here are some pictures of the two versions I knit up while working out the design.  This one is made out of some gorgeous Trendsetter yarn.  I've already made the cowl to match and have some yarn left that will be made into mitts.

This second version I knit out of some white Paton's Classic Wool.  I like that the design stands out really well with a solid color of yarn but I do think that it's a bit stiff.  If I had it to do over again, I would use some of my Knit Picks Swish Worsted.

In honor of my first design, I'm hosting a contest.  Leave a comment by midnight 10/23/10 with your thoughts on the hat and you could win a skein of Knit Picks Swish DK.  Be sure to leave an email address so I can get in touch with you to let you know you've won.  Happy Knitting!

Christmas is Coming!

Is it just me or does it seem like Christmas is approaching at a rapid pace?  I can't believe that it's the middle of October already.  We spend our Sunday today out at the pumpkin patch picking out our annual pumpkins.  We'll be carving them up next weekend so they are all ready for the trick-or-treaters.  Sammy is going as a skeleton this year.  I'm sure I'll be unable to resist posting pictures of that!

In preparation for the holidays, I've been working on making some stockings for my expanded family.  Last year I was a bit of a humbug at the holidays due to the newborn exhaustion that was still running rampant in our household.  But this year, we'll be doing it up right which includes stocking stuffing.

I found a great pattern for felted stockings by Annie's Woolens on Ravelry of course! I was a little intimidated as I've never even knit a regular sized sock before but it was surprisingly simple and now I'm looking forward to trying my hand at socks after the holidays.  I've got one out of three completed.  I think I'll be keeping this gold one for myself.  

I've got yarn for a navy and a red one as well.  Once I have all three completed I'll do a felt along and share my results.  If all goes well, I'll be decorating them with our names and some cute holiday goodies.  I'm really looking forward to seeing the end product.

I've also been working away on my first pattern which I'll be posting shortly.  More on that soon.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Finished Object Friday

Happy Friday!  I thought I'd take a few minutes this morning to show you one of my new favorite hat patterns, the Hermione Hat.  It's a beautiful pattern that features a cable and eyelet design and has my first attempt at both of these techniques.  I've made three versions now and I love each one a little more.  The hat is an easy but interesting knit that I highly recommend.  

Here are some photos of version one.

This one will be a Christmas gift for my sister-in-law and I made a smaller matching version for my Niece.  I also made a lovely gray one for myself that I completed while I was home in Indiana a few weeks ago.  My Grandma loved it so much that I'll be making version number four for her as a Christmas gift.  I just can't get enough of this hat, can you tell? 

I tried to start my version of a Darkside Hat yesterday but was so jet lagged that I was having trouble counting...never a good sign.  I started over this morning and am continuing to have the same problem.  I'm not sure at this point I can blame my issues on jet lag and it may be that I just can't count.  But in any event I'll keep chugging along and hopefully will have another finished object and some pattern notes to share with you soon.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Adventures in Traveling

I am finally back from an absolutely crazy three weeks of traveling and training.  Some of my traveling was a trip to Indiana for my Niece's sixth birthday but the majority of it was work related.  I'm exhausted to say the least but happy that life is finally going to be getting back to normal and I'll be back to my part time schedule next week.

The sad news is that my knitting needles have been sitting empty for over a week.  I can't even remember the last time that happened.  It's a sad state of affairs when I'm too busy to knit.  I'm going to remedy that as soon as I complete this post.  

I've got an outline for a hat pattern I'm going to take a stab at designing.  I knit up the Darkside Cowl a few weeks ago and I've been looking for just the right hat to match with no luck.  So I'm going to take the advice of my fellow knitters and try to modify the cowl pattern into a hat.  I'm not sure this will really count as my first true design but I'm planning to write up the process to save others the trouble.  If I can get permission from the original designer, I'll post it on Ravelry.

That's all I've got time for right now.  Look for a Finished Object Friday post tomorrow.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Finished Object Saturday?

My big plan for my first finished object Friday did not go as planned.  I was home with my 13 month old son yesterday and the day just got away from there is a new tooth breaking through.  Need I say more?  

In any event, I'm finally getting around to posting some of my latest finished objects.  After procrastinating for a week, I finally put the fringe on the Fibonacci Scarf for my Mom last night and it is now officially completed.  I'm really pleased with the end result and the fringe ended up not being as complicated to put on as I thought it would be.  I saw the word crochet hook and immediately panicked.  Luckily, I found a great read along on Deep Fried Kudzu, complete with pictures that walked me right through the process.

Here's a picture of the finished result.

I'm also just about at the end of my Christmas knitting projects, so I thought I'd start sharing some of those finished objects as well.  

Here's a shot of a hat I made for my Dad.  

It's also in Colts Blue and White and I'm hoping it will be his game day hat.  I had a horrible time finding a pattern for exactly what I wanted and this is the closest I could get.  I'm still not 100% happy with the stripe placement so I may have to do some design work and come up with the perfect sport team hat for future use.  

Also, as promised, here's a better shot of my completed Bella Hat.

I LOVE this hat and am clearly going to have to make another one for myself in the near future.  

My plan for the rest of the weekend is to finish up one of my last Christmas gift items, a hat for my brother.  I attempted the Hat Fit for a Boyfriend this week and it ended up being way too short so I'm going to have to save it for Sammy to wear one day!  

I think I may have to go back to my boy hat favorite, the Regular Guy Beanie.  It's such a nice hat and a quick knit.  Here's a shot of the one I made for my husband.  Isn't he the best hat model???

Once that's completed I just have a surprise item to work on for my husband and another pair of French Press Slippers for my mother-in-law and then my must do knitting is done.  

That leaves me plenty of time before the holidays to tackle some new projects that I'm super excited about. I spent $92.00 at KnitPicks online yesterday, a new yarn record for me.  I received a notice last night that it's already been shipped and I can hardly wait to dive in once it arrives.  More about what's planned on that note soon.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Adventures in Blocking and More on Jogless Stripes

I've completed the Fibonacci Scarf and have some news to report back from my adventures in blocking.  I had heard some real horror stories from friends about blocking mishaps so I was more than a bit hesitant to experiement with three weeks of hard work.  However, I'm shocked to say that it was a piece of cake.  

I used the spray blocking technique, which basically involves pinning the item in the shape that you want to end up with, spraying it down with water, and waiting for it to dry.  I laid the scarf out on our guest room bed, with a towel and sheet underneath to protect the mattress and pinned the scarf right into the mattress.  I used an old quilting block square that I had left over from my quilting days to help ensure that I was pinning the scarf out reasonably evenly.  I also made sure that my "jogless stripe edge" was laid out to be one of the scarf seams just to ensure that they wouldn't show.

Here are some shots of the scarf all laid out and pinned.

I then sprayed it down, turned the fan on in the room and left it overnight to dry.  And here are the results....

The scarf is now perfectly even and straight and the majority of my jogs diasppeared.  I'm extremly pleased with the results even though I was still on the fence about how I felt about my jogless slip stich experiment.  

Just for fun, I knit up the Bella Hat on Sunday without using any method to avoid jogs and blocked it last evening to see how it would turn out.  

Here it is pre-blocking.  As you can see the color changes have left quite a few jogs.

Here's a shot of it pinned out.

And here it is post-blocking.  Hopefully, you can see that the majority of the jogs are gone.  It's not perfect, but it's pretty close.

The verdict is....blocking is apparently magic and is a much better alternative to the slip stitch method because it doesn't create loose fabric.  Also, the Bella Hat is adorable and a quick and fun knit that I'm hoping my college age cousin will enjoy as a Christmas present.  I highly recommend it.  

Check back in on Friday when I'll be bringing you a new feature, Finished Object (FO) Fridays which will include a better shot of the Bella Hat and some other projects I've been working on. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Adventures in Colorwork

I am finally back from my leadership adventure and settling back in at home.  It was an intense experience to say the least and included a 27 hour trek in the wilderness.  Unfortunately, there was less time for knitting than I had anticipated so I just finished the scarf yesterday and spent some time blocking it last evening. 

I took some shots of the scarf pre-blocking to show you how my attempts at the jogless stripe went.  This first picture is a good illustration of what happens if you just knit normally.  You can see a noticeable jog in the stripe at the beginning of the round.

In this second photo, I slipped the first stitch after I had completed the color change round.  In this case, after I had added a round of white.  As you can see the jog is much less noticeable. 

In this photo, I slipped the first stitch after completing both color changes.  So in this case, after a row of white and then after completing a row of blue.

In my opinion, the last technique produced the best results.  However, you'll notice that my fabric is looser in that area due to the number of slipped stitches.  I tired all three methods with the single row changes and wasn't pleased with any of the results.  My opinion is that for a single color changes row, just knit normally and plan to block.

And speaking of blocking, my next post will detail my adventures in spray blocking so stay tuned!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Double Standard

Today I'm getting ready to head out of town for a week long class that is being held about an hour and a half from my house.  It's a leadership course that is required for my job.  It's the first of many unusual work engagements I have coming up this month.  

As I am getting ready to pack, I can't seem to get one the Yarn Harlot's latest posts out of my head.  She had just gotten back from traveling and was lamenting about someone who asked her a question about whether her husband minded being left with all the work while she was away.  

Why is it as women that we feel like it is our job to take care of our children's needs (and our spouses for that matter) ahead of our own and if we leave them to their own devices we are bad mothers and wives?  Why do I feel so guilty for leaving them alone for the week?  Don't get me wrong, I'm going to miss them both terribly and I feel that every time I leave them for any length of time.  But why guilt?  And why in these situations is the husband seen as the hero?

When my son was born, I had the privilege of being able to stay home with him full time for the first five months.  Then when I did finally head back to the office, I only went back part time.  I typically work two ten hour days and a four hour morning per week leaving me with plenty of quality time with my little man.  And I love it.  I wouldn't change it for a thing.  I don't want to look back on his childhood and think "man I missed it".  

But, when I tell people that my husband watches Sam on the morning that I work, they are amazed and have nothing but praise for him.  Where is my praise for the other days that I spend with him?  It doesn't occur to anyone to comment on the sacrifices a mother makes.  That's our job after all. 

So in any event, I'll be spending today getting ready to head out for the week.  Of course I'll be taking some knitting along with me on my trip.  My current project is the Fibonacci Scarf.  

I'm making it in Colts blue and white (I'm originally from Indianapolis) as a present for my Mom for Christmas.  This is my first project with any sort of striping or color work and I've been experimenting with jogless stripes along the way.  It's an interesting patten in that the stripes can be as small as one row or as large as 34 rows.  I have quickly discovered that all methods are not equal in this case.  The slip stitch method works great for the larger stripes but is way too noticeable in the one row stripes.  

This means that this project will be my first color work and my first blocking experiment.  My hope is that by the time I'm able to blog again next weekend.  I'll be able to show you the finished product and detail my adventure in blocking.

Have a great week!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Welcome to Undercover Knits

Hello everyone in the blog sphere...or no one!  I guess that's probably a more realistic view of who is reading my blog at this point.  In fact, maybe I should just do a shout out to those of you who I know will be reading at this early date...hi Mom!  

So what is Undercover Knits?  Well at this point it's where you can find this blog.  As the title alludes to, I'm hoping to document my adventures in knitting and motherhood.  I started knitting in September of 2008 when I started working with a group of devout knitters.  I remember when my friend Jaclyn asked me if I wanted to learn, I said that yes I would love to but I warned her that I might be a challenging student.  Everyone in my family crochets and my Mom has attempted to teach me no fewer than ten times over the course of my life.  I suck at it.  It just doesn't stick in my head.  I assumed it would be a complete disaster and end in the usual tears and ripping of yarn.

But in any event I looked forward to my knitting lesson with optimism and against all the odds, I took to knitting like a duck to water.  I was hooked or needled, as the case may be.  I started knitting lots of washcloths and taught myself how to knit in the round within the first few months.  Then in November of 2008, my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child.  The knitting beast was kicked into full gear...well at least after the never ending morning sickness finally passed.  I ran right out and bought a copy of Susan B. Anderson's Itty Bitty Hats and Itty Bitty Nursery

Once we found out that the baby was a boy, I quickly knit up the Simple Baby Cap 1 to be used as our little bundle's first winter hat.  This was my first actual project and my first adventure in using double pointed needles.  Frankly, I hated it.  I loved making the hat, but I was disappointed about my results once I switched to the double pointed needles.  Ladders abounded.  

I learned my first knitting lesson.  Follow the designers yarn recommendations.  I made the hat out of some 100% cotton yarn that I bought at a great yarn store in Alexandria, VA called Knit Happens.  Since I was a rookie, I didn't look at the yarn weight or really anything else and frankly I didn't even know what yarn weight meant.  I saw pretty yarn that was soft, bought it and got to knitting.  It turns out that when you make hats out of cotton yarn, your laddering really shows.  Also since I hadn't followed the yarn weight guidelines, the hat ended up being bigger than I intended as it stretched super easily.  But ladders or not, I put that first hat on my beautiful boy and he wore it all winter long.  Luckily babies don't care about laddering or if their hat rolls down into their eyes from time to time.

Here's a picture of my beautiful boy, Sam, and his cap.  Yes it still fits a year later!

So what can you look forward to in future posts?  I'll be documenting some of the other projects I've been working on, the new techniques I'm adding to my repertoire and the lessons I've learned along the way including my adventures in felting, color work, blocking, cables, eyelets, and the dreaded gauge.  Look for lots of before, after, and during shots and some random stories about my life and family.

Thanks for reading!

P.S.  If you are interested in more of my adventures and current projects you can check me out on Ravelry