June Big Beanie Bag Review

Have you heard of jimmybeanswool’s beanie bags?  They’re a brilliant yarn project subscription that comes in two different sizes.  I had to cancel my subscriptions last year because life, but I re-upped a few weeks ago and am psyched about the new monthly pretties that comes in the mail for me to play with!

This is a review of June (2017) Big Beanie Bag.  It’s only $25 a month shipped and you get a cute drawstring project bag with a bunch of goodies!  Here’s all about June’s —

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First, yay, yellow project bag!  (favorite color)  The bag itself is approx. 11″x10″, the perfect size for a small project that you can toss into a tote bag or a large purse.  This month’s pattern was provided by Rachel from Unraveled Designs — cute fingerless mitts!

Here’s what’s in the bag!

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— There’s approx. 180 yards altogether of this gorgeous wool, Filitura di Crosa Zara and Zara Color.  It’s smooth and soft and a dream to work with!

— Two adorable sheep stitch markers from Lantern Moon

— A Boye stitch holder

— A brilliant DPN tube to hold your project safely, from Nancy’s Knitknacks

— Amazing hand cream sample from Soak

 

I’m not a fan of working with DPNs so I bought a new mini circular to work this project and I’m about halfway through one mitt.  I’ll post an update when they’re finished!  They’ll be available for sale in my main shop, http://www.sophiechic.etsy.com.

If you’re interested in starting your own subscription of Big Beanie Bags you should head here:  Big Beanie Bag

It’s insanely worth it in my opinion for only $25/month!  You can opt for monthly, 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month subscriptions in different color palettes.  You don’t have to use the yarn for that month’s project if you don’t want to, and it’s a great way to find new yarn without committing to buying full skeins without first being able to feel or work with it.

Happy Knitting!

The Importance Of Blocking

Blocking knit work — is it important?  Not everyone blocks their work and not every piece of work needs to be blocked.  I’m going to show you why I block some of my items and how and you can decide if this is something you need to be doing with your creations!

If you’re coming to this page as a photographer who has purchased my (or anyone’s) knit items then you can learn how to keep your handmade props looking like new for years to come.  It’s best to treat all hand knit items as hand wash only – this does not mean running them through a delicate cycle or a dryer.  See ‘washing notes’ below for proper handwash instructions.  But if you’ve washed and dried them in the machine don’t fret!  A good blocking will return your knit item back to like-new condition!

First, common rule-of-thumb is that natural fibers require wet blocking in order to properly set the shape and detail.  Acrylic and other man-made fibers can be blocked but it’s mostly unnecessary.  Blocking is typically done by the maker but sometimes issues arise (shipping deadlines or an accidental machine wash) that require the buyer to block their purchase.

What You’ll Need:
– a sturdy foam board (I use large foam puzzle squares from the dollar store)
– pins
– shallow container or sink
– conditioner (there is a product called Soak specifically created for things like this, but you can also use inexpensive, unscented/undyed conditioner)

Fill the sink or container with 1-2 inches of warm (not hot!) water and add a teaspoon of conditioner or Soakwash.

Submerge the knit item(s) and gently squeeze out the air.  If the item is soiled and requires washing then see ‘washing notes’ below; if you’re blocking, take out when saturated.

Gently lift the item from the basin and carefully squeeze the water out – the weight of the water may put stress on the fiber in larger items so do this with care.  To remove excess water roll the knit item in a towel.  Item should be damp just prior to blocking.

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straight off needles

TO BLOCK:  Lay your item flat on the foam board and pin to dimensions.  Note:  Newborn bonnets should be blocked to 5″ x 5″

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Leave overnight to dry completely.  If you’re against the clock then you can run a blow dryer over it (set on cool).

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Don’t remove pins until completely dry.  Item should retain pinned shape (shown above).

And viola!

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blocked

Your item is shaped and ready to use!

 

Washing Notes
Fill the sink or container with 1-2 inches of warm (not hot!) water and add a teaspoon of conditioner or Soakwash.

Submerge the knit item(s) and gently squeeze out the air.  If the item is heavily soiled then allow to soak for up to 15 minutes.  If soiled area does not lift out then you can rub against the area with your fingers — refrain from rubbing the fibers together.

Gently lift the item from the basin and carefully squeeze the water out – the weight of the water may put stress on the fiber in larger items so do this with care.  To remove excess water roll the knit item in a towel.

IF YOU ARE NEEDING TO BLOCK THEN FOLLOW DIRECTIONS ABOVE.
IF YOU ARE SIMPLY HANDWASHING, CONTINUE BELOW.

Lay item flat and allow to air-dry.  Unless previously washed in a machine then you do not need to re-block.

Pumpkin Hat — FREE PATTERN

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Pumpkin Hat

You’ll need
– approx. 50 yards of worsted weight yarn
– approx. 5 yards of two alternate colors worsted weight yarn
– 6mm needles (straight) or 14″ 6mm circulars
– scissors
– 4.25mm crochet hook
– stitch marker

Cast on 44 stitches, leaving long tail for sewing.  If working on circs, place st marker and join for round 1 below.  If working with straight needles, continue down to ‘straight needle’ instructions.

Circular Instructions:
Round 1 – [k, k, k, p] repeat around.

Continue repeating Round 1 until hat measures 5″.  DO NOT BIND OFF.  Continue to ‘finishing’.

Straight Needle Instructions:
Row 1 (WS) – [p, p, p, k] across
Row 2 (RS) – [p, k, k, k] across

Repeat Row 1 and Row 2 until hat measures 5″.  DO NOT BIND OFF.  Continue to ‘finishing’.

Finishing:
If worked on straight needles, it’s up to you whether you sew up the side seam prior to or after this next step.  I’ve done it both ways and really don’t have a preference but one might be easier for you than the other.  Use beginning tail from cast-on to sew side.

Pull working yarn tail through all 44 stitches; do NOT pull taught.  Only pull until it tightens as much as it can without putting strain on the yarn.  You’ll have an open space, see photo.
pumpkin3

 

 

Join alternate color 1 (I use brown) to the working yarn by knotting it together.

With crochet hook, you’re going to put one sc around in each purled stitch; you’ll have 11 single-crochets around the top.  You can either join and ch1 to work in joined rounds or continue on working in the round.

Sc around for three more rows (44 total sc).  Then, dc5tog, dc5tog, and finish off.  Sew any open hole at the top closed, weave in end.

pumpkin

With alternate color 2 (I use green) chain 15.  (2sc) in second ch from hook and each ch after — this makes the curly vine.  Then, ch 7.  (sc, hdc, dc, dc, hdc, sc) back down the chain — this makes the leaf.  Fasten off.

Pull both ends of the curl/leaf through the top of the hat near the stem, tie them together on the inside.  Viola!

If you’d like to purchase a pumpkin hat, please check out my Etsy shop!  www.sophiechic.etsy.com

The ‘Alexander’ Bonnet — FREE PATTERN

alpacaalexanderbonnet

‘Alexander’ Bonnet (and beanie!)

You’ll need
– approx. 50 yards of worsted weight yarn
– approx. 5 yards of alternate color worsted weight yarn
– 6mm needles
– scissors
– 4.5mm crochet hook (for bonnet)

Cast on 44 stitches, leaving long tail for sewing.  Leave extra long beginning tail for bonnet.  Both bonnet and beanie are worked in back-and-forth rows.

Row 1 – [k,k,p,p] across
Row 2 – rep Row 1
Row 3 – rep Row 1
Row 4 – rep Row 1
Row 5 – rep Row 1
Row 6 – rep Row 1; switch color.
Row 7 – knit across
Row 8 – knit across
Row 9 – purl across

Alternate row 8 and 9 until hat measures 3.5″; end on purl row.

Next row – [knit 9, k2tog] repeat across
purl across
[knit 8, k2tog] rep across
purl across
[knit 7, k2tog] rep across
purl across
[knit 6, k2tog] rep across
[purl 5, p2tog] rep across
[knit 4, k2tog] rep across
[purl 3, p2tog] rep across

Cutting a long yarn tail (extra long if making a bonnet), weave end through last 16 stitches and pull tightly to close.

If making beanie, start with beginning tail and seam hat to the crown.  Knot with ending tail, weave/trim ends.

If making bonnet, start with ending tail and seam until you reach first decrease row.  Then, whichever bonnet corner doesn’t have beginning tail weave end tail along bonnet edge to it (so now both tails will be coming out both corners of bonnet).  Using crochet hook, chain 56 with the tails to make ties.  Fasten off, trim end.

If you’d like to purchase a bonnet, please check out my Etsy shop!  www.sophiechic.etsy.com ❤

The ‘James’ Bonnet — FREE PATTERN

alpacajamesbonnet

‘James’ Bonnet (and beanie!)

You’ll need
– approx. 50 yards of worsted weight yarn
– approx. 5 yards of alternate color worsted weight yarn
– 6mm needles
– scissors
– 4.5mm crochet hook (for bonnet)

Cast on 44 stitches, leaving long tail for sewing.  Leave extra long beginning tail for bonnet.  Both bonnet and beanie are worked in back-and-forth rows.

Row 1 – [k,k,p,p] across
Row 2 – rep Row 1
Row 3 – rep Row 1
Row 4 – rep Row 1; switch colors
Row 5 – knit across
Row 6 – knit across
Row 7 – purl across
Row 8 – knit across
Row 9 – purl across
Row 10 – knit across; switch colors
Row 11 – knit across
Row 12 – knit across
Row 13 – purl across

Alternate row 12 and 13 until hat measures 3.5″; end on purl row.

Next row – [knit 9, k2tog] repeat across
purl across
[knit 8, k2tog] rep across
purl across
[knit 7, k2tog] rep across
purl across
[knit 6, k2tog] rep across
[purl 5, p2tog] rep across
[knit 4, k2tog] rep across
[purl 3, p2tog] rep across

Cutting a long yarn tail (extra long if making a bonnet), weave end through last 16 stitches and pull tightly to close.

If making beanie, start with beginning tail and seam hat to the crown.  Knot with ending tail, weave/trim ends.

If making bonnet, start with ending tail and seam until you reach first decrease row.  Then, whichever bonnet corner doesn’t have beginning tail weave end tail along bonnet edge to it (so now both tails will be coming out both corners of bonnet).  Using crochet hook, chain 56 with the tails to make ties.  Fasten off, trim end.

If you’d like to purchase a bonnet, please check out my Etsy shop!  www.sophiechic.etsy.com ❤

Knit Romper Pattern

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So how super cute is this little guy?!  Photo courtesy Claire Brown of Claire Brown Photography in Phoenix, AZ http://www.clairebrownphotography.com

Since I’ve learned to knit, I’ve ventured into the land of pattern writing!  I have this pattern available for sale in my Ravelry and Etsy stores.  Sizing includes newborn, sitter (6 months), and 12 months.

I’d LOVE to see any that you make, and of course you’re welcome to sell anything you create from these patterns!  ❤ ❤

Happy Knitting!

A Year Later

I have been busy this past year, both in and out of SophieChic.

Like all people who create things from their mind, who create with their hands, whose lives pretty much revolve around their craft and artwork, I lost my way a bit.  I used to get so inspired by seeing things other people have created, but somewhere last summer I started feeling very intimidated instead.  I was also getting discouraged over all the new things I was trying because I wasn’t good at any of them!

Well, I’m happy to say I’ve healed my confusion and have been creating things I’m proud of nearly every day!  I cut myself a break and slowed down with introducing new things (I haven’t touched my spinning wheel in over a year, but I’ll get her back out soon) and I’m all the better for it.  My product photography has improved, I’ve stepped up my supply game, and I’ve even published several of my own knitting and crochet patterns!  Here’s a little before-and-after, it’s so strange but also very refreshing to see how far I’ve come.

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not too terrible, I know

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still learning, but ta-da!

 

Hang in there, you can do it!  ❤ fauna

Adventures in Upcycling/Reclaiming

With spring came that familiar itch — I want to do nothing but organize, create, and reuse.

I’ve started a new ‘day’ on my business page, #thriftythursday, and I can’t tell you how very excited I am about it!  Since I’ve decided to throw myself into my business, I’ve had thoughts and ideas coming out of my ears!

This past Thursday, I visited our local thrift store.  I had my eye out for spring-colored cotton clothing to make some fabric yarn, but I found some pretty items that begged me to reclaim the yarn they were made from!

Recently I’ve been trying to stray from acrylics more and stick to the natural fibers, but two of the sweaters I found were so pretty I had to grab them (and at half-off, who could resist?).  My husband liked all of them and wanted me to keep them as-is to wear in the fall, but I was on a mission and it was not to pad my already overfilled wardrobe.

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looky what I found!                     

The colors aren’t very true in those photos, hazards of photographing at night, but they are so pretty!

Well, what I did was used my seam ripper to take the pieces apart.  The first sweater was considerably more difficult to unravel than I’d expected, so I only managed to get through one part of it before I threw my hands up for the rest and put it into a whelping box for our cat, who should be expecting in just under a month.  Let the kitties appreciate the rest of that 😉  This is what I managed to get out of the purple sweater:

11164810_10155564492015565_4476018394595868705_nTada!  129 yards of pretty bulky yarn!

It is quite a nice yarn, for an acrylic.  I’d compare it to Alpine Wool or pencil roving, it works up similar and is incredibly soft.  Now, onto what came of the pink sweater . . .

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Whoo!  A neckwarmer, some layering blankets for
photography use, and 171 yards of beautiful bulky-weight yarn!

The second sweater came apart so easily, it’s like it couldn’t wait for its second life to begin!  I’d compare this yarn to Homespun, but without the annoying way Homespun tends to work up when being crocheted.  You can see the definition of these stitches when worked up, and it is just as soft!  The neckwarmer is basically the entire neck section of the sweater with a little bit of tweaking — I had to crochet the ends so that the knit wouldn’t unravel.  I could have continued the knit pattern, but I personally like the look of a crocheted edge and the contrast between it and knit.

Onto the third and final sweater and what it yielded!

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Tons of yarn and fabric to work with!

The grey sweater-dress was a-LOT of yarn.  I didn’t completely unravel the whole thing, so the bottom of both sides became layering blankets in different lengths.  The sleeves came apart so cleanly that I immediately saw them becoming a swaddle sack for photography prop use, and the purling around the neck was so pretty I kept it as an asymmetrical neckwarmer.  I added two vintage floral buttons to it that I think complimented it nicely.  Then, to top it all off, the rest of the sweater became nearly 250 yards of beautiful yarn!  This was the only sweater that was wool, and it also has a very pretty metallic thread throughout.

It was a slow re-entry to the world of reclaim/upcycled materials and I intend to be pickier of what I choose in the future, but being able to give these sad sweaters new life makes me very happy and it was a lot of fun!  There’s something cathartic about unraveling a large project, especially if it’s to make something better!

Happy thrifting!  My next blog post will be about turning cotton shirts into yarn, so stay tuned!

**All of these ‘new’ items are available in my Etsy shop, http://www.sophiechic.etsy.com

First-Mate Crochet Pattern!

piratehat

Just in time for Halloween!  Your little one can be a First Mate, arrrrr!

As of right now, I only have this pattern written up for newborn — I’ll get larger sizes added over the coming weeks, but if you’re savvy at sizing it’s a simple enough pattern to adjust increases and length 🙂

 

First Mate Hat with Eyepatch, Newborn — Beginner Pattern

What you’ll need:

  • H-8/5mm crochet hook
  • Needle (for weaving ends)
  • Scissors
  • < 50 yards of WW yarn (I used Red Heart With Love) in White, Red, and Black
  • Measuring tape

Finished hat will measure approx. 6″ across (12″ around) unstretched and 4.5″ long.
All rows are joined and worked in rounds; do not turn after each round.  Ch1 after join does not count as first stitch.
Pattern is written in US terms.

Hat
R1 — With white, start by making a magic ring; 11hdc into ring.  Join with a slip stitch to first hdc, ch1.
R2 — 2hdc in each st around (22hdc)
R3 — (hdc, 2hdc) around (33hdc)  Switch to red.
R4 — (hdc, 2hdc, hdc) around (44hdc)
R5 — Hdc around (44hdc)  Switch to white.
R6-7 — Hdc around, join.  Switch to red after round 7.
R8-9 — Hdc around, join.  Switch to white after round 9.
R10 — Hdc around, join.
R11-12 — Sc around, fo after row 12.  Weave in ends.

Ties (optional)
With red, chain 20.  Slip stitch in first chain from hook, sc in next 18 across.  Chain 20, slip stitch in first chain from hook, sc in next 18 across.  Join to opposite side, fasten off.  Sew to back of hat.

Eyepatch
Row 1 — With black, chain 7.  Sc in 2nd chain from hook and each across (6sc); ch1, turn.
Row 2 — Sc in each across (6sc); ch1, turn.
Row 3 — Sc2tog, sc, sc, sc2tog (4sc); ch1, turn.
Row 4 — Sc2tog, sc2tog (2sc); ch1, do not turn.

Slip stitch up the side of eyepatch to the top row; ch 39 (not too tightly but not too loose).  Careful not to twist, join with a slip stitch into opposite side of first row.  Slip stitch down side and across bottom to first slip stitch; fasten off, weave in end.

Viola!

Phat Fiber July Sampler Box, ‘Fluff’

Did you see my other blog post about the sampler boxes from Phat Fiber?  A couple weeks ago I wrote about the ‘stitches’ box, which contained samples of handspun yarns and stitch markers and other goodies.  Took me a bit longer than anticipated, but here is my ‘fluff’ box from July, which was themed ‘Birds of Paradise’ — it’s filled to the brim with fiber samples from some amazing people!

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yummmmm!

 

All of the samples are incredible, but I pulled out the ones I’m especially anxious to spin up (as soon as I find the time!, hopefully next weekend I’ll get to pull out my spindle and my wheel).  First up is this absolutely stunning sample from Haylofts.  It’s incredibly light and airy, and I love the color streak!

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Next is this hand-dyed sample from Phoenix Fiber Co — I LOVE the saturated colors, and that teal/coral beside each other is so pretty!

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Some more lovelies!

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http://www.kinfolkyarnandfibre.etsy.com

 

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http://www.jencom72.etsy.com

 

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http://www.oldmanwoolfarm.etsy.com

 

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http://www.thekiwipopstudio.com

 

There were a dozen others in the box but these ones caught my eye.  Other contributors are:

With additional fiber-related items from:

 

I received my e-mail two days ago regarding when the August box is going to be available for sale — did you sign up for yours?  You can do so at http://www.phatfiber.com, and join in the fiber-y shenanigans!

 

I’m off to snuggle my fiber now 😀

 

— Fauna