And now a word from our sponsor.

Not really; I have no sponsors. I am going to pimp some products right now, though.

Last year at Stitches West 2011, there was one item that everyone flocked to in the marketplace: the Stitch Light by Buffy Ann Designs. I bought one, of course, and made a friend in the process, owner Liz Schaeffer. Saw her again at Sock Summit last year, and just last week at Stitches West 2012. She’s so nice that I decided to write something about her stuff.

Yarn Cozy & Stitch Light
Yarn Cozy & Stitch Light

First off we have the Stitch Light, a nifty little gadget that hangs around your neck and focuses light from an LED light on your knitting or whatever you’re doing with your hands. It’s a nice little design, stays put on your chest and has a cute little pouch for storing stitch markers and the like. I got the purple one last year (matched my hair), but this year I got a new improved teal pouch for it (to match my hair!).

Stitch Light
So handy!

New this year (I think!) is the Yarn Cozy. It’s a little sock for your yarn, to keep your ball or cake or skein from coming apart while you’re working with it. I think they look like little yarn panties, myself. They come 3 to a pack. And they do hold yarn together nicely; maybe I can quit using plastic baggies now.

Yarn Cozy
Everyone loves cozy balls!

So, that’s it. Two little things that’ll make your fibery life just a little easier.

Note: In the interst of full disclosure, while I bought my Stitch Light last year, Liz did give me a package of Yarn Cozies and a new pouch and strap for my light at this year’s Stitches. See? I told you she’s nice!

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Thing-a-Week #44

Last month there was a discussion thread on Ravelry about a $300 hooded scarf from Spratters & Jayne. The basic tenor of the thread was that people couldn’t believe someone was charging $300 for a chunky scarf. I was intrigued, and decided to see if I could make one too. This is the result.

Thing a Week #44: Hooded Scarf

I reverse engineered the scarf based only on pictures on the web. I also chose a yarn–Cascade Magnum–that appeared to be very similar to what they used. It’s a very thick single, made from Peruvian Highland Wool. It’s so similar (even down to color selection!) that I have a feeling it’s from the same mill. It’s crochet, using a Q hook (which is very large… 15mm). Minus any small differences in stitch count, gauge, or construction, I think my scarf came very close to the original (found here).

Thing a Week #44: Hooded Scarf

(This picture is my own; I arranged the scarf so that it appears similar to the manufacturer’s pictures for comparison.)

What I learned during this exercise was that $300 is not really that far off. The yarn cost me nearly $80 alone. It only took a few hours to make, but once you factor in that, shipping, and distribution, it’s not that much of a stretch, even with reduced material and labor costs for the manufacturer.

I think people are incredulous at high prices because they think that hand-knit and -crochet items are inherently cheap, something you do because you can’t afford to buy the “real” thing at the store. So not true. Handcrafted items can take many (many, many!) hours to make, but they’re often sold for only a little over the cost of materials. Knitters and crocheters undervalue their time, and buyers don’t want to pay what the item is really worth. It’s why I never even think about selling what I make; it’s only for the pleasure of making it. Still, it’s nice to see a business model that works.

Hooded Scarf

I do love this scarf. The yarn is great, and the scarf so very warm and soft. I can see why people would shell out $300 for it, though I’m glad I can just make it myself.

Hooded Scarf

Thanks to my husband Bryan for the photos. I keep saying how handy he is!

(Note: I am not making the pattern available for this scarf. This was solely for the challenge; I have no interest in encroaching on Spratters & Jayne’s turf, either by distrbuting the pattern or by selling the completed scarf. However, it’s really not that hard to figure out if you really want to make one for yourself!)

Hooded Scarf

And another thing

Right. So I haven’t been doing Thing-a-Week lately, but I have two things that should’ve taken a week and took a month each instead. Close enough, right?

First, we have a knit hat:

Lamb's Lace Beret

The pattern is Lamb’s Lace Beret by Christina Wall of Classic Cable Knits. The yarn is Old Maiden Aunt superwash merino 4-ply in Ultraviolet, a gift from my friend Ewenique. The color is gorgeous. I just made it for me, though I’m not sure it suits me. Maybe I’m just not used to berets.

After I finished the hat, I moved on to something I’ve been wanting to make for a while. If you know your internet memes, you’ll recognize this:

Nyan Cat Scarf

That’s right, it’s a Nyan Cat in scarf form. The pattern is Amigurumi Pop Tart Cat Scarf by Mevlinn Gusick, and it’s crocheted in wool. It was fun to make and even more fun to wear. You can’t help but smile at it!

Nyan Cat Scarf

So I do have something lined up to attempt this week, so I might just get back into Thing-a-Week real soon. Let’s hope!

Thing-a-Week #13

Whew. I made it a quarter of the way through my year of things-a-week. Never thought I’d get this far!

I thought it fitting that I actually finish that little neckwarmer project I was working on (Things 3, 4, 5, and 7). The final step was to actually publish the pattern, and I did that today. It’s a free pattern, available for download in PDF format.

Thing a Week #13: Neckwarmer Pattern

Details about the pattern and where to download it are here.

Helen Neckwarmer

A couple of months ago, I spun some yarn for my friend Helen. The yarn was an odd weight, sorta-bulky and sorta-aran, and I thought she might have some trouble finding a pattern for it. So, I wrote one up!

Helen Neckwarmer
Download pattern (PDF)

This neckwarmer is edged in eyelets, which can be used for any arrangement of buttonholes. The body is simple alternating single and double crochet stitches. It was designed with handspun yarn in mind, but also looks striking with commercial self-striping yarn.

The pattern is available here in PDF format. Enjoy!

Thing-a-Week #7

Back to the neckwarmer thingy. If you remember, I made a ill-fitting prototype for Thing #3, wrote the pattern for Thing #4, and then spun the yarn for it for Thing #5. This week, I actually made it for real.

Thing a Week #7: Neckwarmer

It’s a nice and warm, and actually fits a human neck this time. I just wish I had some better buttons.

Thing-a-Week #4

Warning: this post isn’t very exciting.

This week I wrote the pattern for the neckwarmer I made last week. I made some minor tweaks to resize it, but I think it’s going to be pretty close.

It’s not quite ready to publish yet; I want to test it out first, so I have nothing to show you this week. You’ll just have to take my word for it!

Thing-a-Week #3

I gave away the yarn I spun last week, but it later occurred to me that the recipient might not know what to do with it. There wasn’t a lot of yardage, and it was sort of an odd weight. So, I decided to write a pattern for it. I settled on a neckwarmer and began making a prototype. This is it:

Thing a Week #3: Neckwarmer prototype

It’s crochet, and this prototype was made with Patons Soy Wool Stripes. This is an example of a thing-a-week that isn’t quite right… I got the overall stitch pattern I wanted, but I didn’t make it long enough, so the neck opening is too small. That’s ok, though. I’ll write up the pattern and give it another try, which should give me at least two more things-a-week to do!

Stitches West 2011: Epilogue

Well, I’m home. The flight home was totally uneventful. No annoyances whatsoever.

Today, I took a better picture of my market haul:

haul
(The Bugga is the gray one in the middle, and the Codex is the magenta one below it.)

And some nice ones of that weaving project I’m so enamored with.

weaving project

weaving project

I haven’t washed it yet, so I expect it’ll still smooth out a little bit.

That’s it! I’m feeling a little less tired now, too. I guess I’m recuperating!

Stitches West 2011: Day 4

Well, that’s it. It’s over. It was a jam-packed, exhausting time.

This morning I had a Farmyard Friends: Needle Felted Animals class with Sharon Costello. I made a sheep. Well, most of a sheep, since we ran out of time to finish.

Class

Aren’t the samples cute?

Samples

After class, it was back to the market for last minute stuff and the grand prize drawing. Nothing really grabbed me except a couple of dizzes and buttons, and I didn’t win anything. What a drag.

Sherry was kind enough to drop me at the airport for my flight home, so here I sit, waiting for my flight.

I’m completely worn out, but I had a wonderful time. Thanks to all my great Northern California friends, you made me feel a part of the family. See you next year!