Thursday, February 11, 2010

Warm and Cozy

Warm and cozy, that is how I feel after finishing my first knitted article of clothing.  It was also my first design, which makes me feel good too.  I am going to wait to give you more details about this because it is a gift for my husband, and he is in the room as I am typing this.  But it is driving me nuts not to be able to talk more in depth about it!  It was so wonderful to put it on and feel how cozy and warm it is.  I finally get to feel the luxury of knitting something myself, and wearing it.

I think it will be a great Valentine's gift for him, and I have the feeling that I will be making more of these in the future.  More details to come...; D

I <3 Amigurumi

I found out about Amigurumi recently, which opened up another little world of knitted toys to me.  Amigurumi is knitted or crocheted, Japanese dolls.  It can be any little knitted or crocheted doll, really.  A lot of them are very stylized, but some of them are very realistic. Some of Jean Greenhowe or Alan Dart's work would qualify.  In fact, I found several great Amigurumi groups on Ravelry, and entered a contest with the most recent doll that I made (Jean Greenhowe's Winefred)

I also found a neat blog called  She has wonderful patterns that you can buy, as well as some that are free.  The designer's name is Anna, and I encourage you to find her on Ravelry and look at her blog if you are interested in knitting little, adorable Amigurumi dolls.

I was looking for a pattern for little knitted hearts and found her pattern.  Her hearts are so cute!!!  They are super easy to make, also.  (They are not knitted in the round, which is something I am just learning and can't do well yet.)  I made two in one day.  If I can do that while taking care of a 2 year old all day, you know that it is a really easy and quick knit.  (I knit a row here and there.)

Here are two of the three hearts I have made so far (I gave one away before I could photograph it):

I also found a really great Amigurumi knitting book that I really want to get.  I have looked all over for the best deals, and here is the best deal:  Knit Picks!  They are are having a 40% Sale on their books until February 22.  I have two books that I really want to get:  Amigurumi Knits and The Knitter's Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmerman.  (I actually have a really long list of books that I want on Knit Picks and Amazon, but getting just those two on sale is a little more realistic for me.)
Please share with me your Valentine's projects.  I would love to see them!

I hope you all have a Splended Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Well, I turned in my submission for the Vanna's Choice Contest in time, but by the skin of my teeth.  : D  I was knitting up until the last minute, quite literally.  If you remember, I found out about the contest only about 3 weeks before the deadline, so I was on a very tight deadline.  (Being somewhat new to the amazing world of knitting sometimes has its disadvantages.)  Anyway, I thought it would be fun to at least try to turn something in, and, it was!  While I don't anticipate winning, I am very excited that I did this and entered the contest.  It was a really neat experience.

Step 1:  Shopping for Vanna's Choice Yarn

I shopped for Vanna's Choice Yarn at Michael's,  and bought a lot of yarn!  I decided to come up with my own color combinations, and this proved more challenging than I had anticipated.  I ended up picking a lot of different colors, thinking that I would return whatever I didn't use.  After picking out my yarn, I had to look around at a few more things (who can resist browsing at a craft store?)  I ran into a family friend and talked to a couple of shoppers.  Everyone commented on how much yarn I was buying.  I finally realized that because both mine and my daughter's coats, as well as the diaper bag, were filling up the entire bottom of the itsy bitsy, teeny weeny shopping cart, that it made my 10 or 15 skeins look like the entire shopping cart was filled and packed to the brim with yarn.  No wonder they thought I was buying a ton of yarn!  (Michael's, knitters and crafters everywhere emplore you to bring in some bigger carts.) 

Step 2:  Knitting, err, uh....Picking out Colors

A few days after buying the yarn, I finally got down to knitting.  Then I realized that if I was going to use my own color choices, that I was going to have to make sure that they all went together well.  There was not only clothing, but also shoes, hair, accessories,  a pet, etc.  Man, this was harder than it seemed.  

Step 3:  Knitting

After choosing pink to start the doll's stockings, I started knitting away on the Jean Greenhowe pattern that I had picked out:  Winefred's Wool Shop from the Little Dumpling Dolls, Part 1.  Now I was into the knitting part of the project, and the real fun began.  I had a deadline, and I was going to make it!  But not without some distractions.

Step 4:  Attempting to Dodge Distractions...

During this mad dash for the finish line, I also decided that I had to have the Dumpling Dolls, Part 2 knitting booklet.  I searched on Ebay and found several, however, they were going for absorbitent prices.  One sold for about $45!  These are wonderful booklets, and one could argue that Jean Greenhowe booklets are more than worth $45,  especially this one since it is out of print.  However, for one on a tight budget,  what something is worth and how much you want it doesn't always win out over the pocket book and how much is in it.  So, I kept looking.  

While I was looking for the Dumpling Dolls book, I found some other neat books on Ebay for great prices!  One of the pattern books contains knitting patterns for Care Bear dolls and matching sweaters.  I really loved the Care Bears when I was little, so this was nastalgic for me.  I watched the shows and movies, and my best friend and I had fun playing with her Care Bear house and little figures.  (We also loved Barbies, My Little Ponies, and Strawberry Shortcake.) I found several other booklets,which I won't go into now, but I have had a blast finding the most unique patterns, and most of them at extremely low prices. 

Well, it seemed like I could find anything at a decent price, except the main booklet that I was looking for.  I decided to post something in a Ravelry forum for Jean Greenhowe fans.  I promptly got a reply from someone in Scotland who had several copies.  She had found them in a dress shop in the Outer Hebrides Islands off the west coast of Scotland.  The store stocks a small amount of yarn.  The books were tucked away in a little box and seemed to have been from a previous owner, as the current owner didn't have any information about them.  I am so thankful to her, as I was able to pay her 6 pounds, including shipping!  (This was only about $9.50 in U.S. dollars!)  It is on it's way, and I will be able to knit little vegetables and food for the Dumpling Dolls, as well as the little men.  This definitely beats $45!   

Step 5:  Getting Back on Track

Well, my little booklet hunting detour was fun, but was a little distracting.  It didn't keep me from knitting my doll, but did take away some of my time.  (I am sure some of you Ravelholics out there can relate to something knitting-related taking away your knitting time.)  Anyway, I continued to knit the doll, her shop counter, the yarn balls, etc.  I decided not to knit the little dog, but to knit a little cat that I had seen in another Jean Greenhowe booklet.  

It was a lot of fun knitting all these pieces and sewing it all together.  My husband and I recently started the first season of "Lost,"  so I did a lot of the knitting while watching the show.  (Please don't tell me anything!)  My husband was very helpful, especially when I was stumped with color choices.  He was the one to suggest I make Winefred's hair blonde, which I love!  It goes well with her outfit.

Step 6:  Crossing the Finish Line  

I was knitting the little sweater that goes on the shop counter up until the last minute.  I was knitting as quickly as I could and sewing it together.  I was really disappointed in the construction of the shop counter, but there was no turning back.  My time was getting away with me and midnight drew near.  I had to fill out my application online, take and upload pictures, and get it all in on time.  After all this,  would I be able to complete my mission?  The clock was ticking.  I took pictures, uploaded, filled out the form, and submitted 11:57 pm!  Whewhh! I made it!  So relieving. 

Step 7:  Incomplete?   

I decided that I should check my email to see if they emailed me a confirmation, and they did.  It was delivered at 11:57 pm, so that was confirmation for me that I got it in on time by their standards.  In fact, the email actually gave me a confirmation number.  It also told me,  however, that my four photographs had not uploaded correctly, and that my submission couldn't be considered without a photo.  Oh no!  I was so upset!  What went wrong?  

I logged into the Lion Brand website and uploaded the pictures again.  Now it said that I had submitted it on February 2.  That is no good!  The deadline was February 1.  So I promptly emailed the company to find out if everything was okay with my submission.  I would have to wait until the next day to find out for sure. 

Step 8:  Relaxation

The next morning the phone woke me up bright and early.  Since I didn't recognize the number, I let it go to voicemail.  When I checked it, I was shocked to find out that it was Lion Brand calling.  They were just calling to tell me that I was, "good to go" with my submission.  What a pleasant suprise! 

So, that is basically the story of my first knitting contest experience.  I am so glad I did it, despite the ups and downs (and interests) in life distracting me.  I was able to pick out a pattern and yarn, knit it up, and submit it on time, however at the last minute it was.  I would highly recommend this to every knitter out there.  

As for me, I will try to find out about these things sooner.  Does anyone out there know of another contest?  As for the yarn, do you really think I am going to take back what I didn't use?  I think you know the answer to that question.  : D

Happy Knitting!!!