New Skeins on the Block

Hello??  Anybody out there…?  Shew, I am so sorry all TLMYC blog readers…I have been such a terrible blogger over the past couple of weeks!  I won’t go into the details of why I’ve been away, but let’s just say using the term “busy” to describe my recent life would be an understatement…  (Busy in such a good way, though it has been exhausting…)  If you’re still around after my hiatus, I thank you.  Life happens, right?  But I promise to do better in the future.

Anyway, what have I been up to that’s kept me away for so long?  Well, in just a few words, I have been invited to participate in a Christmas craft/gift show at a local-to-me boutique!  I’m thrilled to be able to participate, but I’ve been crafting like a lunatic in order to get ready.  (Not to mention eating, sleeping, and my day job…)  Also keeping me up at night, I’ve been dyeing like crazy!  A week or so ago, I realized that I was doing so well in my Etsy sales, that I was quickly running low on inventory and needed to rectify that STAT!   (Thank you wonderful TLMYC patrons for this awesome problem!!  🙂 )  So I went on a bit of a spree…got a new yarn base (hello Comfy DK!), fulfilled a few custom orders, and launched into some brand spankin’ new colorways.  Would you like to see?


 

Starting in on the winter (but not Christmas) themed colors, first I created ‘Evergreen’ and ‘Snowy Pine’…  These turned out beautiful, with ‘Snowy Pine’ being shades of spruce green on a white base, and ‘Evergreen’ a lovely, deep tonal green.

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‘Snowy Pine’ on Wanderer Sock

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‘Evergreen’ on Glitter Sock

Also, some of my favorites of these batches, I created a couple of new “splashy” color ways to accompany ‘Seaweed’ , including ‘Berry Sundae’, ‘Ember’, ‘Grapeness’, and (an unexpected one) ‘Clown Car’!

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‘Berry Sundae’ on Wanderer Sock

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Ember’ on Wanderer Sock

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‘Grapeness’ on Wanderer Sock

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‘Clown Car’ on Wanderer Sock

Last, I experimented with a couple new tonals…’Desert Rose’ and ‘Horizon’.  These two are actually somewhat similar — shades of red, pink, and some orange — however, they are different enough to merit differing names.  ‘Desert Rose’ involves more shades of pink, whereas ‘Horizon’ has more of an orange-ish hue.  I call them my fraternal twins.  😛  Different, but both lovely.  (“They’re not the same, they’re similar….”  Gosh.  Ha!)

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‘Desert Rose’ on Glitter Sock

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‘Horizon’ on Glitter Sock

In addition to these new-kids-on-the-block, I’ve also dyed up and listed some oldies-but-goodies on my new base: Comfy DK!  The ones currently listed are ‘Police Box’, “Bowties are Cool’, and ‘Exploding TARDIS’.

So, clearly I’ve been hitting the dyepot hard over the last couple of weeks…  I mean, I feel like I have.  Whew!  Very happy with (most) of my outcomes, though.  🙂  Most of these new colors were created as experiments to see if I could come up with some new regular colorways to feature.  The only ones I’ve so far decided to keep as regulars are ‘Berry Sundae’, ‘Desert Rose’, ‘Snowy Pine’, and ‘Evergreen’, therefore, many of these are OOAK skeins that will likely not be repeated…so if you see one you like, grab it quick!  😉


Well…that’s just about the extent of my dyeing update for, oh, probably a while…(not.)  I’d love to tell you that I’m a machine and, in addition to dyeing all of these and getting ready for the craft show, I’ve also knit up 5 pairs of socks, 3 hats, and a sweater, but alas…that is not the case….  The state of my knitting right now…?

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Left: Vanilla Latte Socks in TLMYC’s ‘Sanderson Sisters’ Glitter Sock

Right: 6×2 ribbed socks in KnitsomniacDesign’s ‘It’s a Dead Man’s Party’ Sparkle Sock

Both of these are Halloween colorways, and first socks…..let’s just say I failed Socktober.  (womp womp)  But oh well!  Plenty of time to knit during winter, right?  Well, that’s what I’ve been up to lately!  Again, so sorry for the absence, but thanks for stopping by…and please let me know what you think of my new colorways in the comments!  🙂

What are your current crafty endeavors?

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Outside Inspiration

Sometimes when I’m at the dye-pot, I can’t hardly move fast enough because of all of the colorway ideas I’m bouncing around.  But other times…I need a little bit of help.  I’m sure many of you out there are just as obsessed with Pinterest as I am.  (Be honest.  No judgement.)  While a lot of time is wasted around the world on this most addictive website, Pinterest is actually a pretty useful tool sometimes.  When dyeing, I use Pinterest quite a bit to get ideas about what colors might go together well, colors I might not have thought of, and general inspiration for new colorways.  Here is an example of what I mean:

 

 

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1. This gentle mix of light blue, white, orchid, dark pink, and green would make a beautiful spring colorway.

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2. From this photo, I’m picturing a rich, vibrant tonal of blues: pale, almost white all the way to deep navy, with just the slightest hint of aqua green.

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3. A summer color — light & dark aqua/teal with bits of pale sky blue and white.  Gorgeous.

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4. A little less typical than paintings or photos, but anything can be color inspiration!  In this I see a color of bright yellow & teal (obviously), with possibly some white and even a light brown.

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5. This one is a little bit more unexpected, but would make for a wonderful, bright sunset colorway.  I see pink, purple, yellow, orange, blue, green, and black.  Perhaps a striping colorway?

Finding external inspiration is actually something I’ve struggled with as I’ve become a more prolific creator.  Can I really say I’m creative if I got the idea for a colorway from a photo or piece of art?  Obviously, the answer is unequivocally yes.  Being creative doesn’t mean that everything you make has to come directly from your brain.  Creative people constantly look for bits of inspiration around them to feed their creative process.  Anything you make is a product of your creativity…regardless of what or who gave you the idea.

Yarn dyeing is such a unique process, yet definitely a creative one.  Sometimes the colorway inspiration comes first, and sometimes I just let my creativity go wild and figure out what the color resembles later.  Both ways are correct.  All that matters is that I’m making.

Where do you get your creative inspiration?

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Author’s Note: All photos from Pinterest.com.  I was not compensated for this post — Pinterest is simply a tool used to assist my creative process.

((Want to follow my Dyeing Inspiration Pinterest board? Click HERE.))

Halloween Hermiones

 

 

Whew!  Finally we have a new FO!  It feels like it’s been months…  Guess that’s what happens when you cast on ALL THE THINGS.  Ha!

I’m pretty much an inexplicable sock knitter.  Based on my knitting personality, I should hate knitting socks.  (i.e., I am generally a product-knitter, and socks are on such teeny-tiny needles so they take foreeeeeever…)  But I’m addicted…go figure.

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Hand-made teapot sock blockers from Purrfectly Catchy Designs — purchased at Stitches Midwest 2013

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably heard more than enough about these socks…  They’re knit out of my own hand-dyed yarn — Wanderer Sock in the ‘Sweet Treat’ candy corn colorway.  A few weeks ago I was Jones-ing for a pair of Halloween socks, and this yarn fit the bill perfectly.

This pair, as you may be able to tell, was knit using the Hermione’s Everyday Sock pattern.  (Hence the name Halloween Hermiones.)  I’ve made three pairs so far and would recommend this pattern to any sock knitter (newbie or otherwise) that doesn’t want to have to think too much while knitting…they’re quick and easy, yet still interesting.  (Plus I love Harry Potter, so…  😛 )  I was so excited about finishing these that I didn’t even get any FO objects before they were worn…(these photos were taken after washing/drying.)

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Photo from Instagram

They’ve been finished for about five days and I’ve already worn them several times and washed/dryed them.  (I was thrilled with how well the color held in the washer — I’m paranoid when it comes to machine washing knits…even if they’re super wash.)

(P.S. A quick little plug for my TLMYC Etsy shop — if you’re interested in making some Halloween Hermiones for yourself, my Wanderer Sock ‘Sweet Treat’ yarn is on sale until October 31.  No coupon necessary!)

I can tell already that these are going to get a looooot of love this fall and winter.  🙂  Onto the next pair!

What’s your favorite sock pattern?

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Autumn Knits

Hello!  Happy September!  I strayed from my normal posting schedule and took a Labor Day blogging break this week, so it feels like it’s been a while since I posted!  I hope everyone had a great weekend.  🙂

Here in the US, this past Monday was our Labor Day holiday, giving us a wonderful 3-day weekend, (…we’ve discussed my feelings about 3-day weekends already).  Though the “official” change of seasons isn’t until the 21st of this month, Labor Day tends to signify the end of summer and the move into fall.  I’ve been over summer for a while now, (not a hot weather person), but now I can freely express my autumn love without being rebuked for not enjoying the nice, warm weather.  (Blegh…)

Living is such a beautiful place as Kentucky, fall is already my favorite season.  The autumn scenery is stunning here, there’s festivals abound, and — most importantly — autumn is horse racing season in Lexington.  

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Fall horse racing at Keeneland Race Track in Lexington, KY (Source: Keeneland.com)

But, being a knitter, I have even more reason to love fall.  Cold weather is coming (*cough* Winter is Coming for all you GoT fans…  😛 ) and there’s no more perfect time to cuddle up with some lovely wool.  (Plus, we’ll be needing those knitted items soon enough…especially if we get another Polar Vortex this year…)

Moving slowly into this beautiful season, I’m chomping at the bit to get some autumn-flavored knits on the needles.  Here are some of my favorites so far:

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  1. Shawl Collared Cowl by Alana Dakos — My biggest winter pet peeve is a chilly neck.  Too small scarves and cowls often cover the back of the neck, but do not extend down into my coat far enough to keep me nice and toasty.  With this cozy bulky cowl, there would be no question of a chilly neck.  And a cowl with a collar to turn up against the wind and snow?  It’s a yes from me.
  2. Levenwick Cardigan by Gudrun Johnston — As ashamed as I am to say it, I have never knit anything designed by Gudrun Johnston…  After finding the Levenwick Cardigan, however, this may have to change.  I’m just completely in love with this beautiful button band.  The perfect blend of stylish and comfy.
  3. Autumn Vines Beret by Alana Dakos — A second choice from Alana of Never Not Knitting, this cabled leaf hat is the most perfect for chilly autumn mornings.  Just enough to keep the top of your head warm, but not completely engulf your head.
  4. Oak Grove by Alana Dakos — (Well, clearly I’m a huge Alana Dakos fan…but she does such a great job with autumn knits, doesn’t she?)  Another NNK design, the beautiful leaf motif on these mitts is just to die for.  I’m such a sucker for detailed designs.
  5. Spice and Clove Pumpkins by Hannah Maier — Knitting + pumpkins = autumn perfection. I will have to whip up a few of these to add to my autumn decorations.  Plus, this free pattern is written for knitting and crochet!
  6. Stockholm Scarf by KnittedBliss — Again solving the chilly neck problem, this lacy neck scarf is just gorgeous.  And it’s a free pattern?  From KnittedBliss?!  Casting this on ASAP!
  7. Larch Cardigan by Amy Christoffers —  Another beautiful autumn sweater — this cozy cardigan almost has the look of a blazer, but much more comfortable.  Perfect for work or leisure.
  8. Nutkin by Beth LaPensee — Can’t go an autumn season without at least one new pair of knitted socks, amiright?  This quick and easy free pattern would be perfect to highlight that perfect autumn sock yarn you’ve been hiding in your stash.
  9. Acorn Ornament by Carmen Rigby-Willson — To go with the knitted pumpkins, of course!  Now we just need a knitted squirrel…

((Disclosure: None of these pictures are mine — they were all borrowed from the original pattern pages on Ravelry.))

Maybe autumn makes your heart sing (like me), and maybe you’re a little sad to be letting go of summer, but hopefully these autumn selections have gotten you inspired for the lovely knitty season that is to come.  Personally, I can’t wait to get started.  🙂

Lastly — unrelated to autumn knitting — I want to send a quick thank you to the lovely Andi of the My Sister’s Knitter blog for her wonderful comments on my Imagine When shawl in her most recent post!  Such a compliment to inspire someone who has previously been such an inspiration to me.  🙂

What are your picks for autumn knitting?

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Shop Update and a SALE!

Well, we’ve made it.  Say it with me: three-day weekend!!  (Labor Day holiday in the US.)  What could be better than THREE WHOLE DAYS to knit, sew, sleep, go hiking, eat nachos, not wear real pants……whatever it is you like to do, here are three wonderful days to do it.  Even if you’re lucky enough to truly enjoy your day job, you have to admit that three day weekends are glorious.

SO…to celebrate this lovely weekend — the “official” ending of summer and launching into [my favorite season] autumn — TLMYC is having a sale!

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I try not to “sell” my shop on here tooooooo much, but I couldn’t resist letting you all in on the fun.  🙂

If you follow me on Instagram, you may know about this already…but from now through Monday, Sept. 1, you can get 10% off your entire order by using the coupon code LABORDAY10.  

I’m especially excited to be having this promotion this weekend because I’ve been working hard for the past few weeks to get more of a variety of items in my shop.  Check ’em out:

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This is a new color way that I call ‘Seaweed‘.  It’s dyed on my Wanderer Base (80/20 super wash merino/nylon, 2-ply fingering weight) and there are currently two (2) avaliable!  

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This lovely color is the result of a new dyeing technique experiment — but I’m glad to say that the results are stunning!  It’s always a little difficult to tell what the result is going to be when the yarn and dye are steeping in the pot or pan.  This makes for some anxiety about unpleasant results sometimes…but when the big reveal looks like this, it’s a wonderful surprise!  🙂

Another exciting announcement is the addition of a new yarn base!  Meet my new sparkle base — Glitter Sock:

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(Shown here dyed in the color way ‘Exploding TARDIS‘)

As you can tell, the shimmer of this yarn is slight…but it’s just enough to give your socks that little something *extra*.  Glitter Sock is similar in appearance to my Wanderer Sock base — 2-ply fingering with a lovely twist — but is a mix of 75/20/5 super wash merino/nylon/stellina.

 

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(Glitter Sock in ‘Elsa‘ colorway)

Currently, only my ‘Exploding TARDIS‘ and ‘Elsa‘ colorways are avaliable in Glitter Sock…but I can’t wait to try out some other colors on this base as well!  Hmm….’Police Box‘ maybe?  🙂

In addition to the new colorways and yarn bases I’ve added, I’m also glad to say that TLMYC is (finally!) officially carrying project bags as well!

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Happy Hooooo-loween

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Ghosts & Jack’o’Lanterns

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Halloweenie

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Happy Hoooo-loween: Tiny Owls

If you’re craving a little Halloween already — like I am — these bags are perfect for getting you in the spirit!   There are only Halloween bags listed currently, but there are many more to come, I can assure you.

Okay, that’s enough of a preview for now…  (Whew — why do I feel like I was just on an infomercial…  ha!)  Well, I hope you all enjoyed seeing what I’ve been working on lately.  I’ve been in such a creative place for the past couple of weeks, and I’ve been having the best time creating these new items!  🙂

Now I’m off to work on my newest project — Effortless Cardigan by Hannah Fettig.  (Oh, did I not mention?  : P  Pictures to come soon!)

What are you working on over this long weekend?

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FO: Imagine When

It’s finished!!!  Woo!!  I’m so excited/relieved, I could sing about it.  Normally I’m all about the garter stitch.  Miles and miles of mindless knitting where I don’t have to focus, I can just sit back, relax, and knit away.  That’s my bread & butter.  Usually.  This one, however…not so much.

ImagineWhen1It’s not that I didn’t like the pattern.  (It’s a Joji Locatelli pattern, so obviously I did.)  It was a great knit on paper — easy, yet with a very construction details to make it look interesting.  Simple, yet enough to (theoretically) keep my interest.  However, this was not the case…

ImagineWhen2I’m not sure if I was just working on this one for too long that I got bored, or if I just had other projects on the brain…but this was a struggle.  But (finally), after diligently working monogamously for a week — and very dutifully putting off swatching for a new sweater — I finished it.  And it’s beautiful.  And it’s cozy.  But, most importantly, it’s finished.

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(Thanks to my mom for modeling this for me.  I much prefer staying behind the camera for this sort of thing…  :P)

Pattern: Imagine When by Joji Locatelli  (See my Ravelry project page here)

Yarn: KnitPicks Hawthorne in the Mt. Tabor color-way

Have you finished anything recently?

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Crafting Dangerously

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Allow me to make a quick introduction.  These skeins right here?  This is my new favorite color way of all time.  Oh, and did I mention, I DYED THEM.  I’m ridiculously proud of myself right now.  : P  These I created on a whim.  I was trying out some new dye colors I had just received, using a new dyeing technique, on a new yarn base.  And wouldn’t you know, it turned out like this.

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Seriously, I’m in love.  You can probably tell by now that one of my favorite TV shows is the BBC’s Doctor Who.  (Did you see the Season 8 premiere??  YAY!)  If you watch the show, you will hopefully appreciate this color way as well.  This yarn is dyed to mimic Van Gogh’s “Exploding TARDIS” painting from Season 5.  (see below)

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SOURCE (Exploding TARDIS Poster)

What do you think?  Currently, there are two of these listed in my Etsy shop, and more on the way!  Possibly in a sparkle base…  (spoilers!  😉 )  Also,  listeners of the Commuter Knitter Podcast keep a lookout — I just sent a skein of this to Jen for a podcast giveaway soon!

As excited as I am for these new skeins, this is only a portion of the crafting I’ve been doing over the past week.  For the past few days, I’ve been working away at — of all things — sewing!  I’ve always had a mild interest with sewing, but since I got back from Peru, I’ve been completely obsessed.  I’m at my sewing machine so much, my back is hurting from hunching over…I’m even dreaming about it!  I’m a woman inspired.

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These preppy little bags are made from printed duck that I got at Hobby Lobby.  If you’re not a sewer, duck is thicker than regular fabric, and is good for more durable projects.  There’s also a small lining of fleece interfacing to give these some additional structure.  As you can see, I’ve made three sizes so far — sweater, shawl, and sock.  And they’re all currently in use.  🙂

Not only have I been working on “regular” everyday project bags, but I’ve churned out a few little seasonal projects as well…

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I’ve heard before of the fabled enabling powers of Instagram, and now I am a believer!  After seeing other crafter’s posts of adorable Halloween projects bags and quilts, I could not rest until I made some for myself.  This bag is the first of the many Halloween projects I have made/hope to make over the next couple of weeks. ( I’ve also got a Halloween quilt in the works as well!)

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Now that I’ve got some patterns and skills under my belt, I’m planning on adding some of these adorable project bags to my Etsy shop soon!  Keep an eye out if you’re interested!  🙂

Well, (thankfully) it doesn’t seem like my recent bout of creative inspiration is going anywhere anytime soon — and a new shipment of undyed yarn just came in!– soooooo back to the dye-pot and sewing machine I go!

What are you crafting on this week?

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Made in Peru

I’m a shopper.  Always have been and always will be.  This was frustrating to my parents when I was a child — no gift shop could be passed up, every excursion required a souvenir (even just grocery store ones), and infomercials…let’s just say they were dangerous.  Now that I have grown up and the urge to shop has not receded, they have accepted my habit.  (Though my mom still tries to push her budgeting advice…  No one uses a checkbook ledger anymore, Mom.  Sheesh.)  Knowing what was in store for our Peru trip, they accepted their fate and dutifully traipsed through market after market until there was literally no more to be seen.  (Thanks family!)  As I am thoroughly excited and overly entertained by my new acquisitions, I thought I might show some to you all and share a little bit more of this colorful culture.


 

Peruvian Acquisitions: Part 1 of 53

(Just kidding  : P)

Of course, me being a knitter and it being Peru, shopping for yarn was top of the list.  For most of the trip there was not a skein to be found, but — thankfully — on our last day in Cusco, we happened to drive past the only yarn shop for miles.  (I think I was being drawn there.)  While I’m a big-time knitter and very passionate yarn buyer, I generally don’t have the budget to purchase large quantities of yarn at a time.  (This is partially why I have never knit an adult sweater…)  However, this shop was different.  This shop had 10-ball packs of baby alpaca yarn for $30.  I could hear the Hallelujah chorus.

Yarn1Apologies for the *shine* in the photos from the packaging…this is due to my unwillingness to try and deal with 40 loose balls of yarn on my back porch.  There are dogs…you understand.  : P

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Look at the Peruvian girl with her little alpaca friend on the label! So cute!! 🙂

Wanting to make the most of the opportunity, I made sure to purchase a lot.  I toyed between four & five packs for a while, before finally settling on four due to lack of available suitcase space.  What I ended up with: two packs of natural/undyed, one pack of dyed grey, and one pack of burgundy.  It was a good day.

As I mentioned in my Peru Re-Cap post, I didn’t find any yarn until the very end of the trip — this bunch was actually purchased on our very last day in Peru, just minutes before we went back to our hotel to begin packing.  (Talk about under the wire.)  As such, there was quite a bit more shopping that occurred throughout the rest of the two-week excursion…

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A favorite item of mine were these beautiful woven alpaca scarves — these were found and any and every market we passed…(talk about enabling).  I have never tried weaving and, honestly, the mechanics of it totally baffle me.  So to me these seemed like art.

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Such intricate patterns…

For most of the *cough* four scarves that I bought, the seller claimed they were hand-made.  (I question this, but chose to buy them anyway.)  As I’ve mentioned previously, the prices of goods in Peru are extremely cheap compared to American standards — especially for hand-made items.  These scarves cost an average of around $7 each.  (Incredible!)

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Ahh, 100% Peru…. (Ha!)

Because of the intracity of these patterns, the fabric of these scarves is pretty dense — but they’ll be perfect to bundle up under a coat collar this winter.

I also managed to snag this super soft & comfy woven blanket.  Now I KNOW this one isn’t hand-made…but it was so colorful and so squishy that I couldn’t resist…   I can’t wait for it to be cold so I can cuddle up in this!

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The last large item that I managed to grab — my pride & joy of the trip — was a “hand-knitted” alpaca sweater.  (Again, I question the truth of this claim…) I was told before leaving that Peru had beautiful knitted sweaters and that I should plan on buying one while I was there.  Therefore, I was constantly on the lookout for the *perfect* sweater — it must be hand-knit, it must be cozy & fit well, and it MUST have alpacas on it.

After searching markets and stores for over a week, I finally ran across this one hanging up in a shop that we entered somewhat unintentionally.  (It was fate.)  It fit very well — in that way that makes you want to curl up beside a fire somewhere — and the seller claimed it was hand-made.  (As a knitter, I did check this out, but the results of this examination were inconclusive.)

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See that little fair-isle mistake? Hand-knit, perhaps?

Either way, hand-knit or not, it was perfect.  I snatched it up immediately and wore it for the rest of the trip.

Those who know me in real life know that I have weaknesses just like anyone else — (as much as I try to hide these online).  One of these weaknesses?  Trinkets.  Especially when the trinkets cost less than $2 per item.  Here is a small (really small) selection of the neatest small things I picked up:

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I may have developed a somewhat unhealthy obsession with these little guys. I now have…oh, about 50.

Bet you’re wondering how I got all of this in my suitcase, aren’t you?  Well, let’s just say, I know what’s really important.  Dirty laundry?  Nah…  Ha, just kidding.  But we did actually buy big duffel bag for extra space.  It was necessary.  Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the shopping in Peru.  Seeing the different styles of garments and accessories was another really interesting way of experiencing the culture.  I may have overloaded just a bit…but hey, when am I going to be in Peru again?  😉

What’s your favorite of my Peruvian souvenirs?  (Hint: Maybe a giveaway soon?)

Happy Saturday!

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Peruvian Adventure 2014 Re-Cap

Okay, okay…I’ve been promising Peru updates for over a week now and haven’t delivered.  I’m the worst…  After getting back home last Sunday, life picked up just where it left off and I found myself struggling to catch up…catch up with work at my day job, catch up with work for my Etsy shop, and — of course — catch up on sleep as well.

For those who are new to my Andean journey–I was lucky enough to spend July 28th-August 10th touring the wonderful, wooly country of Peru. As part of this amazing adventure, I toured through cities and countryside, traveled by plane, train, and automobile — (in an experience that I can only describe as “interesting”) — and took photos of every llama I saw.  Every.Single.One.  : P  In addition to seeing all of the lovely culture and scenery that Peru had to offer, you can imagine that, as a knitter, I was on a certain mission…  Happily, I can say that this mission was achieved!  But more on that later.  🙂

With this blog post in mind throughout the entire trip, I traipsed all across that country with a DSLR camera, thinking with every shot about what you all would most like to see.   I burned through two memory cards and took a grand total of 974 pictures BY MYSELF.  (This does not count the photos that the rest of my family took…)  I captured just about every sight I saw on that trip…and got a lot of really great photos in the process.  (This made for quite a job to look through and pick out what was most essential to share, let me tell you.)  But FINALLY, pictures are uploaded, edited, & organized, and sharing can begin!

Organization for a post like this can be a little overwhelming.  So I’ve decided to just share a quick run down of the most interesting parts of our journey and share some of my favorite photos from the trip.  (Be warned, there are a lot.  Narrowing down over 900 pictures is difficult.)  Ready for photo overload?  Okay, here we go…

(Disclaimer: all photos used in this post were taken and edited by me and are not to be used — other than for personal use — without my express permission.  Thanks!)

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Arriving in Lima on the 28th, my sister and I met up with the rest of our family (who was already there) and began our adventure.  Though we were in Lima for three days, we didn’t do too much, as we were trying to get acclimated to the new environment.  However, we did make a few excursions into the city.  The first thing we saw in Lima was the Convento de San Francisco.  The Saint Francis Monastery (in English) is a beautiful Baroque-style church and convent that is part of the Historic Centre of Lima.  One of the most memorable parts of the tour was definitely the catacombs…  Used as the primary burial place in Lima during (I think) the 17th century, over 30,000 people were buried here as they believed being buried under a church would help them to be closer to God.  After being discovered in 1943, these mass graves were excavated, resulting in the bones of thousands being arranged, not by person, but by type of bone, (i.e., skull, femur, etc.).  This has resulted in multiple pits of various bones with little to no identification — some of these are even in (slightly creepy) designs.  (Here is the Wikipedia page if you would like to learn more about the Convento de San Francisco.)

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Convento de San Francisco

Leaving Lima, we headed to Cusco — but not to stay.  Upon landing in Cusco, we got the heck out of Dodge as quickly as we could so as not to be negatively impacted by the altitude.  Cusco is at about 11,000 feet in altitude, so in order to adjust to the altitude more gradually, we travelled first to a  countryside town called Ollantaytambo (pronounced O-yan-tay-tambo) — a town at about 8,000 feet in altitude.

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Made a brief stop for photos on our way through the mountains and saw these ladies selling their products.
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Ollantaytambo
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View from hotel balcony in Ollantaytambo

While in Ollantaytambo, which is a small town in a valley of the Andean mountains, we got our first real taste of traditional Peruvian culture.  Our time spent here was not hurried…the main attraction being the Incan ruins on the side of a nearby mountain.  But there was much to see in the way of Peruvian markets and (sometimes) hand-crafted items.

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There are lots of unsupervised dogs in Peru…this one was at the base of the ruins in Ollantaytambo.  Cutie.  🙂
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I’m almost too big for the Incan doorways. There probably weren’t very many 5’10” Incans….
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Large marketplace full of “traditional” Peruvian items. (aka, my crack… Ha!)

One of my favorite parts of the whole trip was getting to peruse the marketplaces.  These were all over, and people even walked the streets selling their items.  (This got annoying after a while…)  Though many of these items are mass produced, it was possible to find hand-made items through asking the merchants specifically.  Additionally, these markets presented a plethora of negotiating opportunities, as many merchants mark up prices for tourists.  Thankfully, my sister is pretty fluent in Spanish and was able to translate these negotiations for us.  As the USD to Sole exchange rate greatly favors the American dollar, we were able to score lots of these goodies at prices unheard of in the US.  (i.e., hand-woven alpaca scarves for the equivalent of $7!)  I had lots of fun with this.  : P

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Peruvian natives are experts in taking advantage of tourist situations…(this is meant in a complimentary way).  In addition to the masses of markets, stores, and independent sellers, it was not uncommon to see Peruvians walking around in traditional dress, taking photos with tourists for tips.

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These precious little baby goats were only 5 days old at the time of this photo.

After spending a few days in Ollantaytambo, we caught a train heading through the countryside to the base of Machu Picchu.  This was a huge bucket list item on the itinerary as it is now considered one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

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Created in the early-mid 15th century, Machu Picchu took about 50 years to build, but was inhabited for less than 100 years.  Though the name Machu Picchu is associated with the ruins themselves, the name is originally derived from one of the mountains present at this site.  Located between the mountains of Machu Picchu (meaning “old mountain”) and Huayna Picchu (meaning “young mountain”), the Machu Picchu Incan city was used as a place where people could come and study, as the Incas considered the joining of old and new to be the optimum place for learning.  Due to news of the Spanish invasion into Peru in 1550, the Incans abandoned Machu Picchu and fled into the mountains to avoid the Spanish Conquest.  Because of this, the Spanish never found Machu Picchu and, therefore, it was not destroyed with the many other Incan cities invaded at the time.  (Visit the official Machu Picchu website or the Wikipedia page to learn more about the history of the Machu Picchu site.)

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As we left at 6am to avoid long lines, our first views were a little foggy.
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There we go!
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Knitwear at Machu Picchu!

Needless to say, seeing Machu Picchu in real life was incredible.  As I’ve said before, this was a bucket list item that I never thought would get crossed off, and I feel extremely lucky to have experienced this wonderful historic site.

After spending a couple of days at the base of the mountain — in a town that is also called Machu Picchu — we headed out on the train again, back to Ollantaytambo, and then, by car, on back to Cusco.

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Beautiful hotel (that I can’t remember the name of) where we stopped for lunch on our way to Cusco.
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I just really like this photo. 😛 Doesn’t it kind of look French?
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Spotted! Alpaca & owner walking on the side of the road. (Sorry for the blurriness…this photo was taken through the window of a moving vehicle.)
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More alpacas/llamas… And, is that a sheep?

During our car trip to Cusco, and while touring around Cusco, we had Peruvian guides providing interesting information about everything we saw.  One of my favorite facts was about how a llama got its name…  Apparently, when the Spanish conquered Peru, they asked (in Spanish) what the name of this animal — that they had never seen — was.  As the Spanish word for ‘name’ is ‘llama’ (pronounced yama), the Peruvians (who spoke Quechua) thought they were naming it…thus, it is now called a llama.  Cool, huh?

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Arrived in Cusco!

Our last stop of the trip was the ancient Incan capital of Cusco.  This vibrant city is everything you think of when you think of Peru.  It’s got the beautiful architecture, the mountains, the history, and all the culture you could imagine.  While we were in Cusco, our primary excursion was a vehicle tour around the city and the surrounding mountains.  (Let me tell you, Incan ruins…they’re everywhere in this country.  Ha.)

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Plaza de Armas — considered one of the most beautiful churches in Peru.
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More Incan ruins…and more knitwear!  (PS, recognize this hat?  😉 )
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Traditional flower of the Incan culture.
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Found this woman crocheting away while selling her wares. (I’m not sure how ‘traditional’ Angry Birds hats are though… haha!)
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Couldn’t help but snap a photo of this lady in her more modern traditional dress.

As I said before, being a knitter, I was on a certain mission while being in a country with as many alpacas and llamas as Peru has.  I searched high and low for alpaca yarn while touring markets and shops…but to no avail.  However, thanks to a tip from a fellow knitter online, I was able to search out a yarn shop while in Cusco!  Behold, Michell…

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Once we had a vague location in mind, my family and I traipsed through the city on a mission to find this store.  After walking through narrow and winding Cuscuan streets, we arrived to find it closed for lunch…  Ugh.  Thankfully, however, it was scheduled to re-open soon after we arrived, so we waited — under threat of thunderstorm — until the owner arrived to re-open the shop.  (My family is so supportive of my addiction…bless them.)

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Open! Hooray!

Finally making it inside, I was greeted by a literal WALL of beautiful alpaca yarn.  I was in heaven.  Unfortunately, I was unable to buy one of those glorious cones due to lack of suitcase space…but I did come away with several (*couch* FOUR) packs of baby alpaca DK weight (10 skeins each) in various colors.  Plus, each pack of 10 skeins cost approximately the equivalent of $30 in the US!  It was a good day.  🙂

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A vision of beauty.

For anyone looking for this shop in the future, it is located just off of the San Francisco Square, on a street that is called both Grenada and Theatro.  About a 10-15 minute walk from the main square.

We apparently found the “knitting” part of town on this excursion as, on our way walking back from the yarn shop, we spotted several Peruvians knitting, crocheting, and even spinning while going about their business.

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Well, that’s pretty much it!  After our journey to the yarn shop, we headed back to our hotel to pack, as we were heading home the next day.  A nice conclusion to the trip though, don’t you think?  Ahh, to end a great trip with great yarn.  Bliss.  : P

As I mentioned, this is only a teeny-tiny fraction of the photos that I took on the trip.  But I hope you enjoyed taking this journey with me!  I truly had a blast on this trip and feel truly fortunate to have been able to experience this culture…but I’m SUPER glad to be home, (funny how travel makes you appreciate your home).

For those of you who followed along with my journey, whether through my earlier blog posts, Instagram posts, or just by actually getting to the end of this post (Bravo!), thank you!  I’m really enjoying this blogging adventure, and hope you are enjoying it as well.  🙂

Now that I’m back to normal life again, I’m glad to say I’m crafting away and will have lots of knitting, dyeing, and even sewing projects to share in the near future!  So stay tuned!

So, what do you think of my Peruvian adventure?  Would you like to visit Peru someday?

Happy Wednesday!

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Creative Dabbling….and an Announcement!

Here’s a weird thing…I took two sock projects with me to Peru.  Both very simple, mindless knitting for planes and trains.  Due to travel complications and the fact that Peruvian airlines generally don’t allow knitting needles on flights, I didn’t actually knit on either of these projects much…but they were my only knitting for two whole weeks, (aka, representative of a very large part of my soul).  Naturally, being away from my stash, all I could think about knitting-wise was aaalllllll of the other things that I wanted to knit and how I had the yarn to knit them if I only had access to my stash.  Now that I’m back, however?  I’ve been knitting on those same two sock projects…  What gives?

Though my actual knitting leave much to be desired by way of creativity, my mind is currently buzzing with new pattern design ideas.  As you may have noticed from this post, I am beginning to dabble in the art of designing knitting patterns.  Since I got the hang of these silly sticks and string several years ago, I’ve been adjusting patterns to my liking, improvising designs, and musing about whether or not I could tackle being an actual, real-life knitwear designer.  I still don’t know if this will be my ultimate career, but I’ve decided to jump into the design pool by publishing a couple of my most recent pattern ideas.

The first one to be released will be my hat pattern design that I discussed in this post — the Garter/Moss Textured Hat.  Look for this one to be posted on Ravelry within the next week, (I hope!).  [In the meantime, you can find it here.]  A preview of my next pattern?

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These socks — that I’m calling the “Impossible Girl Socks” as a nod to my favorite time-traveling BBC show (*cough* Doctor Who *cough*) — are a relatively simple mock-cable pattern to add a little twist to plain-Jane vanilla socks.  This first pair is knit with KnitPicks Stroll Tweed Sock Yarn, but the pattern would work well with any solid/semi-solid yarn.

This one will also be a free pattern, but will be a pdf for download instead of blog post.  I am working on the write-up currently and will hopefully be able to release it within the next couple of weeks.

In addition to these two patterns that are finished — or close to finished — I have a multitude of other ideas brewing.  Not all of these have made it past the brainstorming stage yet, but I’m definitely working in that direction.  I may just be a designer yet — stay tuned!  🙂  (Want more updates on projects in the works?  Follow me on Instagram!)

collage3In other news, five new color ways have been posted in my Etsy shop — Elsa, Ocean Depths, Burning Day, Antique Velvet, & Strawberry Fields (not pictured).  Check these out and let me know what you think!  I’ve been experimenting with new color ways for a while, and would like to know which ones should become regulars.  🙂

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Additionally, a very special announcement for TheLittleMountYarnCo Etsy shop — a shipment of a new yarn base has arrived!  It’s an absolutely lovely 2-ply, 80/20 superwash merino/nylon blend that’s got a beautiful twist and is very squishy.  🙂  I’m calling this base Wanderer Sock.  I’m busy dyeing all weekend, so be looking for another Etsy update soon!

What are you crafting on this weekend?

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