Saturday, March 26, 2011

Knit Picks Options Interchangeable Needles - Product Review

I really loved working with the circular needles for the market bag project.  I found them to be more comfortable than straight needles and I do not hit the cat or the bearded dragon in the head with the ends!  LOL!  I wanted to get some but if I was to buy them individually between all the needle sizes and different cord lengths, it could cost a fortune.  So I did lots of research and discovered Knit Picks Options Interchangeable needles.  I purchased the Try It needle set that contains a size 6 Harmony Wood, size 7 Nickel Plated and size 8 Zephyr Acrylic needles along with (2) 24" cords, (4) end caps and a cable key for $19.99.

My needles arrived on Wednesday and I took them out to play right away.  I used each one for 30 minutes by casting on 10 stitches and did several rows of knits, purls, yarn over and knit 2 togethers using 100% cotton yarn which I have been using the most lately.  This way I got a feel for how each one handled all the stitches and techniques that I use regularly on my favorite yarn.

I used the Zephyr size 8 first.  When I was reading some forums about this needle, the biggest complaint was that they squeaked.  It was recommended that you wipe down each needle with warm soapy water before using them.  I did that and I did not hear any squeaking!  I loved how light they felt in my hands.  The fact that the needles are clear did not bother or confuse me while knitting.  I can see that it will be helpful when working with darker yarn.  The needles are super pointy and sharp which comes in handy since I have a tendency to knit tight.  This needle will be great if I decide to try knitting something lacy in the future. 

Next I used the Nickel Plated size 7 needle.  I loved the little bit of added weight above the Zephyr needles.  This needle has the same sharp tip as the Zephyrs.  It is a little slicker but I have always liked using metal needles when working with cotton yarn since the yarn does not have much play.  I also liked the fact that the whole needle is all one piece unlike the other two where there is the metal base and the different material inserted into to it for the tip.

Finally I used the Harmony Wood size 6 needle.  I did not like this one at all.  This needle was too sticky when working with the cotton yarn.  It also felt too delicate to me and I was afraid of breaking it when I tried to knit 2 together.  Also, the colors within the wood grain bothered me and looked too busy.  I had a hard time focusing on the yarn on the needle.  This needle is not for me!  Phew, they are the expensive set!  LOL!

After trying out all three types, I really wanted a full set of the Zephyr AND Nickel Plated needles.  Since I purchased the Try It set, Knit Picks sent me a promotional code for $10 off a full set of Zephyr needles before my Try It needles arrived.  So for $39.99 how could I resist??!!

I bought the full set of Zephyr needles along with a size 15 needle, 40" cables, view sizer and clear needle cable case.

Then it gets even better!  I was surfing on Ravelry and I saw a post under the Knit Picks Options group that someone was selling a full set of Nickel Plate needles, some even unused, for $60 including shipping!  I had to grab it for that price!  Now I have both sets that I loved!!!!

Knitting needles are a very personal purchase.  You can read all the reviews and forums about every brand out there, but you do not know what works for you until you try it yourself!  I would recommend checking out your local yarn store to see what they have in stock to touch and try.  If you do not have local store, then I would recommend purchasing the Try It needle set from Knit Picks.  These are the most reasonably priced interchangeable needles on the market.  They offer a great well-made product and even better customer service with a one year replacement warranty.  Since the needles in the Try It set come in the most common sizes, you will use them even if you don't buy a whole set or you will have doubles of the ones that you use the most if you do.  These three needles will not go unused in any knitters collection of needles.

If you are end up purchasing any of these needles from Knit Picks, please take a moment to watch this video from You Tube on how to use the cable key.  When I first screwed on my metal tips, they kept unscrewing until I tightened them the right way.  Now they do not even move!

Happy knitting and shopping!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Chinese Wave Dishcloth Set

I made this set of 4 dishcloths for my Mom's birthday next month:

I really love these dishcloths!  They are so thick and durable.  I am adding these to a basket with some soaps from Bath and Body Works.

Pattern: Chinese Wave Dishcloth
Yarn: Lily Sugar N' Cream #00001 - White & #00010 Yellow
Needles: US 7

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Denise Interchangeable Needles - Product Review

Well I thought I had my mind made up about which brand of interchangeable needles to buy, but I was totally wrong.  I went to my local yarn store, Mt. Laurel Yarn Boutique in Sturbridge, MA, to get more information and to see first hand what they had to offer for interchangeable needles.  They had Denise, Hiya Hiya, Addi Click, Rosewood Interchangeable by Plymouth Yarn and had Clover but it was on the way and not in store yet.

It was very nice to see and touch all these brands of interchangeable needles in one place.  Plus the store was very quiet so I was able to ask lots of questions without feeling like I was hogging their time.  The owner uses Denise as her primary needles while the other woman used the Hiya Hiya.  The owner said that there are several regulars to her store that use Denise needles religiously as their primary needles even some busy knitting teachers.  I told her that I did not mind spending the money for quality needles that will last.  She still recommended the Denise needles to me.

Here are some things that sold me on the Denise interchangeable needles before even using them.  The set included needles from sizes 5 to 15.  It also had six cables from size 5" to 19" along with 2 connectors to make them longer and 4 end caps to save your project or make them as straight needles.  This whole set was only $50 in a nice storage case.  Denise offers a lifetime guarantee!  If anything ever needs to be replaced, I can bring them to the store OR contact the manufacturer myself for a replacement at NO COST.  Finally, and probably the most important selling point to me, the are made in the USA!  In addtion, I purchased the companion set (in lavendar) and the size 19 needle.  I will be getting the size 17 needle too but they were out of stock.

After switching out the fixed circular needles that I borrowed, I was able to play with them for over four hours.  Here is a picture of the just about completed bottom of my hexagonal market bag:

I had some difficulty using the longest cable by itself since I did not have much room to play.  So I squished it together and added a connector and another cable.  This worked much better.  As you can see, I am using two different sized needles right now.  I am completing the knit row using the 10.5 needle from the 5 needle.  I just twisted it off and changed it.  I will be knitting the mesh part of the bag next with both of the 10.5 needles until I get to the top.

By the way, I was bad on Monday.  I bought the rest of the accessories for the Denise needles.  I got all of the long cords, to do Magic Loop, in 30", 40" and 52", size 17 needles, size 10.75 needles and the Denise organizer in red.  I am so glad that I tried these needles and did not follow the advice of several other reviews and forums.  I am very happy with these as they are functional and were not super expensive even after buying all the accessories.  I would highly recommend these to anyone in the market for interchangeable circular knitting needles!!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Secrets of Harmony Grove - Mindy Starns Clark

Summary from Good Reads: From the bestselling author of Shadows of Lancaster County comes an exciting new romantic mystery set in Amish country.

When Philadelphia marketing executive Sienna Collins finds herself unemployed, she moves out of her pricey Philadelphia condominium to sleepy Harmony Grove, Pennsylvania. She plans on running the bed-and-breakfast she had bought as an investment in Lancaster County. However, when the manager she lets go is later found murdered on the property, Sienna’s troubles take a serious turn.
A handsome local wishes to befriend her, but can she trust him? And when her ex-boyfriend shows up, wanting to reconcile, can she cope with him in the middle of this crisis? Sienna must learn to depend on the Savior she has recently taken into her heart. And she’ll need all the help she can get, because the secrets she uncovers in Harmony Grove threaten her livelihood, her safety, and ultimately her life.

Sienna heads back to Philadelphia from business trip in Boston to discover that she had lost her job and after some soul searching, she headed out to Lancaster, PA to the Bed & Breakfast that she owns.  When she gets there, someone is dead and two others are not responding.  Things are certainly different here.  Her ex-boyfriend, Troy, is dead and left plenty of secrets and lies behind that needed to be sorted through.  With the help of her Amish relatives who lived close by, they all worked with the police to figure things out.

Sienna is a very strong and independant woman who has learned to take care of herself.  She may not have made the most wise financial decisions but she went back to the B & B that was in her family that she has owned for a couple of years to get away and try to figure things out.  Along the way she learns of many family secrets and some that are still unsolved.  Her boyfriend Heath travels down to be with her through all of this.  She realizes her love for him and for God need to be worked on so she may move on in live.

I enjoyed this book.  It is the first one that I have read from Mindy Starns Clark.  I love her style of writing.  It made me feel like I was in Sienna's head all the time.  She developed strong characters and the description of the area was outstanding.  I am looking forward to reading more from her soon.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Double Bump Dishcloth

Here is my latest dishcloth:

Here is a close up of the pattern:

This dishcloth was very easy to knit.  I found that the stitches were much looser than normal this time.  I do have a hard time seeing the pattern with the variegate yarn so I will have to make it again with a solid color.

Pattern: Double Bump Dishcloth
Yarn: Lily Sugar N' Cream #19739 Over the Rainbow
Needles: US 7

Friday, March 18, 2011

Happy 59th!

I made this for my uncle whose birthday is Sunday.

I wanted to make something different yet masculine for him.  So I broke out my Papertrey Ink stash and put this together.

Stamps: Papertrey Ink - Get To The Point, Papertrey Ink - Get To The Point Sentiments, Papertrey Ink - Fillable Frames #4, Papertrey Ink - Big Birthday Wishes, Papertrey Ink - Background Basics: Retro
Paper: GP White, PTI Kraft, PTI Ripe Avecado
Ink: PTI Ripe Avecado, PTI Vintage Touch Tea Dye Duo, Archival Jet Black
Accessories: Cuttlebug, Papertrey Ink Fillable Frames #4 Die, SU 1-1/4" Circle Punch, SU 1-3/8" Circle Punch

Monday, March 14, 2011

Making Waves

Here is a dishcloth using the Chinese Waves pattern:

This dishcloth uses lots of slip stitches to make a more fuller dishcloth than I have made before.  

Pattern: Chinese Waves Dishcloth
Yarn: Lily's Sugar N' Cream #18046 - Rose Pink
Needles: US 7

Friday, March 11, 2011

Room - Emma Donaghue

Summary from Good Reads: Amazon Best of the Month, September 2010: In many ways, Jack is a typical 5-year-old. He likes to read books, watch TV, and play games with his Ma. But Jack is different in a big way--he has lived his entire life in a single room, sharing the tiny space with only his mother and an unnerving nighttime visitor known as Old Nick. For Jack, Room is the only world he knows, but for Ma, it is a prison in which she has tried to craft a normal life for her son. When their insular world suddenly expands beyond the confines of their four walls, the consequences are piercing and extraordinary. Despite its profoundly disturbing premise, Emma Donoghue's Room is rife with moments of hope and beauty, and the dogged determination to live, even in the most desolate circumstances. A stunning and original novel of survival in captivity, readers who enter Room will leave staggered, as though, like Jack, they are seeing the world for the very first time. --Lynette Mong

Ma and Jack are living in an eleven by eleven Room for seven years.  Everything Jack knows is in this Room.  He has never been outside or met anyone but Ma.  After he turns five, Ma starts to tell Jack about things that start to upset him about other people, places and things Outside.  When things change and they are both suddenly Outside, Jack has lots to learn and has a hard time adjusting.  He is scared and brave (known by Jack as scave) as he learns about Outside.

Wow, this book made me stop and think about everything that we know and how life would be by not knowing it.  Simple things like learning to walk the stairs and bees and taking a shower are all new to Jack.  I really liked how this book explained inside the Room, getting out and learning to live from Jack's point of view.  I really enjoyed this book!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Farrow Rib Scarf

Here is a scarf for me:

Out of all the scarves I have made, I have not kept one for me except for the first one.  I wanted one for myself that I am proud to show off!

Pattern: Easiest Farrow Rib Scarf
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick #1234 Raspberry
Needles: US 13

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy 65th!

I was asked to make an old and funny card for a co-worker for his 65th bithday.  Here it is:

Inside it reads: "Birthdays aren't that bad.  Now come down off that ledge."

Stamps: Stampin' Up - Viola, Papertrey Ink - Big Birthday Wishes
Paper: PTI Vintage Cream, Gina K Luxury White, Brilliant Blue, Basic Black
Ink: Archival Jet Black, Momento Tuxedo Black, Copics
Accessories: Cuttlebug, Papertrey Ink - By the Numbers Collection Dies

Monday, March 7, 2011

Over the Rainbow Dishcloth

Here's my latest dishcloth:

I love knitting this dishcloth!  I can get one of these down super quick too!  I found this yarn at Joann's Fabric on Sunday and I had to use it right away.  I love all the bright colors in it!

Pattern: Garter Dishcloth with Pointy Corners
Yarn: Lily's Sugar N' Cream #19739 - Over the Rainbow
Needles: US 7

Friday, March 4, 2011

Happy Birthday Kyla!

Here is the birthday card for Kyla to go along with her knitted birthday gifts:

I was able to play with some of my new items from Papertrey Ink that came in last week.  Lately, this is the only place I have been buying stamping related items.  I totally love all their stamps, paper, ink and ribbon!  Then I fell in love with their dies that coordinate with their stamp sets.  It is a stamper's heaven!

Stamps: Papertey Ink - Birthday Bash Sentiments, Papertrey Ink - Round & Round 2010 Anniversary Stamp Set (Not For Sale)
Paper: PTI White, PTI Kraft, PTI Lavendar Moon, PTI Plum Pudding
Ink: PTI Lavender Moon, PTI Plum Pudding

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gifts for Kyla

Our best friend's daughter, Kyla, is turning 7.  For her birthday, I decided to make her some knitted items to show off my newly acquired skills.

Here is her scarf:

Here are her fingerless gloves:

I thought this was a great chance for me to try something other than scarves and dishcloths by making some simple fingerless gloves without thumbs.  In reading some of the project comments, lots of kids love these, I hope she does too!  Since her favorite color is purple (duh, I bet you figured that out yourself ~ LOL!), I made both of these using the same yarn to match.  I tried them on and they are a little tight on me so they should fit perfectly on her!

Scarf Supplies:
Pattern: Super Easy Squishy Scarf
Yarn: Lion Brand Vanna's Choice Solids & Heathers #101 - Pink & #146 - Purple
Needles: US 11

Fingerless Gloves Supplies:
Pattern: Learn to Knit Cuff #90239AD
Yarn: Lion Brand Vanna's Choice Solids & Heathers #101 - Pink & #146 - Purple
Needles: US 11

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Another Purse Scarf

Here is another purse scarf:

This time I changed it up a little.  I used chunky yarn with size 11 needles and I cast on 14 stitches.  I love this varigated yarn too!  It looks so neat!

Pattern: Purse Scarf
Yarn: Loops & Threads - Charisma #20 Bouquet
Needles: US 11

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Garter Stitch Dishcloth with Pointy Corners

Here is my latest dishcloth:

This one is made in the diagonal but it is pretty easy to do.  As you may see, I had a problem with one corner, the lower right one; it was my last one.  I need to read up more about S1, K2TG, PSSO, K2TG because it is just not right.  But then again, it is just a dishcloth!  LOL!

Pattern: Garter Dishcloth with Pointy Corners
Yarn: Lily's Sugar N' Cream Twist #20010 Natural Twist
Needles: US 7