Sunday, March 20, 2016

Dated or Not? ~ and Spring Treats

I'm doing some stash knitting and realized that my taste and my perception of what's appealing to knit has changed in the last couple of years.  I had always assumed knitting was an insular hobby unaffected by time or trends. Rather like building model airplanes.  Or growing bonsai trees.  The projects and materials that you love today you will love and enjoy always.  Right?

Not quite.  While I love this shawl I'm not sure I would have picked either this yarn or this pattern today. And I only purchase this yarn 2 years ago.  Since I don't consider myself a trendy person that realization surprised me.  Could my taste in so short of a time period (relatively speaking) change to the extent that it so dramatically affected the types of patterns and yarns that appealed to me?  Yet there is no doubt that today I have a strong preference for more vibrant colors and patterns that use multiple colors of yarn.  Knitting with a single color felt passe to me and diminished the enjoyment I should have had in knitting this shawl.  With no fault to the shawl, which is lovely without question.

But it does make me wonder whether I'll still love and adore my recent acquisitions of speckled yarns, space dyed colors and bright hues in another year or two. Apparently I'm more fickle than I realized.  Note to Self: no more stash acquisitions while I give this matter further consideration.

I'm curious if this project seems dated to you or not?  There are clearly timeless knitting projects.  But what makes something timeless is difficult to define as much of what we knit and wear is also fashion.  I wonder if this is a function of the information age where we are exposed to more and more ideas and possibilities?  Something to consider when investing in your next yarn purchase.  

Particulars: Mansion House; designed by Toby Roxane Barna; US 8 needles; 2 skeins DK weigh yarn 100g/256m Eileen (hand dyed yarn) by Juno Fiber Arts; colorway Pond.  A very easy pattern to knit. I made no modifications whatsoever.

Springs Treats ~ Indoors and Out

Spring is a wonderful time of year filled with light, beauty, renewal, and rebirth.  Whatever your religious beliefs it is also a time for reflection, rejoicing and family celebrations.   As I celebrate both Easter and Passover I use this time to think about the ways that my journey in this life is either bringing lightness or darkness into this world and what are the internal thoughts and actions that enslave me and prevent me from being the person I wish to be.  It really comes down to whether or not (despite the actions of others) you chose to add sweetness, beauty and light to this world.

Speaking of another kind of sweetness, Easter is a particularly fun holiday with the tradition of Easter baskets and hiding eggs for children.  Since I'm still a child at heart but no longer receive an Easter basket I like to make Easter Sweet Buns for my afternoon tea (recipe blogged several years ago). These are easy and fun to decorate and will satisfy the inner child within anyone.  Personally, I don't limit myself to eating these just at Easter.

Another Spring treat, of an outdoor variety, is seeing the return of butterflies and all the pretty wildflowers blooming along the hillsides. Some of the nicest hikes that Simcha and I take are at this time of year and I'm always a little sad when I realize this season has past.

Until next time, be well and love well and may your Spring be filled with sweetness, beauty and light. Happy Easter ~

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Yarn Crush box Review and Giveaway!

We all have our weaknesses.  And mine happens to be surprises.  To be more specific, yarn surprises delivered by the mailman.  It's probably because I live in a fairly isolated location and after the Great Recession many yarn shops in my area closed.  But who am I kidding.  I'm hooked on yarn clubs (I'm currently enrolled in 3).  But don't try an intervention because you can't help someone who doesn't want help.  And I don't have a problem.

When Yarn Crush recently approached me about reviewing their subscription box service they used words I found irresistible "you will receive a surprise box in the mail." I hardly paid any attention after that but did quickly scan the rest of the email and gathered that they wanted my honest opinion blah blah blah and that they wanted to give a box to one of my readers.  I was delighted to accepted on your and my behalf!  You can't have missed that its become increasingly popular for knitting blogs to host giveaways for their readers and I thought why shouldn't my readers have a chance at some swag too? I'm embarrassed to admit it has been 7 years since I last hosted a giveaway and that was in memorial to Mr. Puffy and his namesake teacozy.  I just haven't had the heart to do it since.  But it's time and I hope you enjoy the review and giveaway.

~ The Review ~

First the review.  I had only a vague idea of what would be coming in my box.  I knew it would contain yarn to complete a project; two patterns (one knit and one crochet); and the notions needed for the project, sans needles (all Yarn Crush boxes are "kits" and come with these items). I had expected the project to be a shawl and was completely surprised and delighted to find my box contained a kit to make a cute clutch purse.  So delighted in fact that I decided that before I could properly review the box I would in fact have to make the clutch.  Because it's one thing to say you have everything needed to make a project and quite another to be able to actually complete the project.

Having now made my clutch I can honestly say that I'm thrilled with it!  It's going to be perfect for summer evenings, garden weddings or afternoon tea parties (if I should be so lucky to be invited to one) and definitely was something that my wardrobe was lacking.  I also had fun making the purse because it was very different from my typical project which kept it interesting.  The yarn was a perfect choice and the pattern was well written and cleverly designed.  The pattern is rated "intermediate" skill level and I agree with that rating. Because while the pattern is not complicated it does require a variety of skills such as a provisional cast-on, knitting in the round, working increases/decreases on the wrong side (right and left slanting purl increases) and uses small needles (US 1).  If you are a beginner knitter not all would be lost though because the yarn is gorgeous and could just as easily have been made into a lovely shawl or considered a learning project where you acquire new skills (which you will want to learn in any event as you progress as a knitter).   Speaking of skills I want to give you a link to what I believe is the best provisional cast-on method. I've always found a provisional cast-on daunting but this made it easy for me.  Just make sure that your waste yarn will not felt into the main yarn or you will have a nightmare trying to remove the waste yarn.  I speak from tearful experience on this issue.

The lining for the clutch is optional and the kit did not provide the fabric (just a small amount is needed).   I happened to have some fat quarters hanging about the house (waiting for me to learn to quilt) and one square was a perfect match for this yarn.  I did use an iron-on interfacing but could just as easily have basted on another piece of fabric instead.  The only stressful part of this project for me was when I realized that after sewing my lining to the yarn I no longer had any "give" to the yarn/fabric and along with that came the awful realization that if I was off on my measurements the purse would not fit into the frame! Fortunately I had blocked the purse to the lining template provided with the pattern and the lining template was an exact match to the purse frame that came with the kit so it all worked out well. Needless angst on my part.  I did find it helpful to watch a Youtube tutorial on installing a purse frame to get a general idea on how it was done having never made anything like this before.

Yarn Crush is a subscription yarn club and I want to say a word or two about yarn clubs in general.  They are a gamble but if you are like me and enjoy being surprised and are okay with leaving your comfort zone (i.e. exploring different colors, yarn bases, designs, and indie dyers) then they can be incredibly fun. They usually have a Ravelry forum group where you can post pattern questions, meet fellow club members, and join in the online fun.  Should you receive a shipment that isn't your cup of tea that's where to list it for sale.  In all clubs it is not at all uncommon to see people selling club yarns (designated "FS") or in search of a club yarns (designated "ISO") when they missed out on one. Here's a link to Yarn Crush's Ravelry Forum Group.

Particulars ~  Yarn Crush Subscription Box (December 2015); Hellebore Clutch (designed by Joanna Rankin); US 1 circular needles; 1 skein Zed Lux Sock 400 yrd  (70% merino wool, 20% cashmere, and 10% nylon) from Yarn Indulgences; 4 mm Swarovski crystal beads; template for optional lining; and Rhinestone Clutch Frame.  For those interested in making the clutch I've added some helpful (hopefully) notes to my Ravelry project page. Until April 30, 2016 there is 25% off the Hellebore Clutch pattern with coupon code MrPuffy.

A cool part of the Yarn Crush boxes is that the retail value is actually higher than the cost you pay. You can choose to receive boxes monthly or bi-monthly and save more if you prepay for a 3 or 6 month subscription.  The box I received totaled in retail value $50.97 (USD) but the cost to subscribe for a box is $32.99 (monthly) or $34.99 (bi-monthly) plus shipping.

Yarn Crush is currently running several promotions.  You get a free gift worth about $20 (a notions pouch stuffed with surprise goodies) when you sign up for a 3-12 month prepaid plan (no coupon code necessary).  Or if you'd rather sign up month to month you get 15% off your first month with coupon code HELLO.

~ Giveaway Details ~

Yarn Crush will be giving a surprise subscription box to one of my readers.  This giveaway is open to readers worldwide.  To enter all you need to do is leave a comment on this post and include in the comment either your email address or your Ravelry ID (so there is a way to contact you).  Entries to this giveaway will close midnight March 15, 2016, pacific time zone.  The winner will be selected by a random number generator.  Good luck!

~ Transparency Note ~ all opinions are my own.  The only compensation I received, will receive, or want to receive is the value of the subscription box reviewed in this post.

Until next time be well and love well and wherever you may be I hope your Spring will be bright, colorful and creative.