Posted in Knit & Crochet , on May 22, 2009
On sale for just $3!

On sale for just $3!

That’s right, my Cthulhu Toque pattern is FOR SALE! :D It’s available for the low price of just $3.00 now, so if you’ve been wanting to make one of your very own, now is the time. I promise it’s easy, even for a beginner, and you’ll love the super cute results.

Where Can I Buy the Pattern?

The Pink Toque Shop

You can purchase from whichever site is easiest and most convenient for you :) You’ll love the way Cthulhu looks innocently over the top of your head as he noms on you. I cannot be held responsible for any problems resulting from your new abundance of coolness and popularity once you go strolling down the block wearing one of these on your head. Note: If you purchase from Ravelry you will be able to instantly download the PDF pattern from the site after purchase; If you purchase from the Pink Toque Shop, you will receive your PDF pattern via email within 24 hours of purchase via email.

All the Details

* 1 skein of worsted weight or sport-weight wool or acrylic, green
* Size I or H hook (or size to obtain gauge. Size I for sport-weight, H for worsted)
* Safety eyes, buttons, felt or black embroidery floss for eyes
* Darning needle
* Stitch marker

Approximately 4 single crochet stitches = 1″ in worsted weight.

Stitches and Terms Used
* chain (ch)
* single crochet (sc)
* double crochet (dc)
* slip stitch (sl st)
* half double crochet (hdc)

See how easy it can be to sport your very own crochet Cthulhu toque? But Lesley, I don’t know how to crochet! Well that’s easy – you can also purchase a completed toque, already handmade by yours truly in case you don’t have the skills to make one for yourself.  It’s never been easier to get your hands on a one-of-a-kind creation that will make you the talk of the neighborhood. For serious.

I have another pattern I’d like to complete and release sometime next week, but until then enjoy your Cthulhu toques and thanks for your business :) Have a great weekend! Updates coming soon on Lucas and I’s Father’s Day sock projects…

More Cthulhu Toques

Posted in Knit & Crochet , on May 21, 2009

I had an order for one of my Cthulhu crochet toques to fill this week and whipped up a new one to ship off yesterday. I’m really proud of how well it turned out, and especially how well the pictures turned out. So another shameless plug… check out the cute new pics:

copyright Lesley Karpiuk

copyright Lesley Karpiuk

copyright Lesley Karpiuk

copyright Lesley Karpiuk

copyright Lesley Karpiuk

copyright Lesley Karpiuk

Want to buy a handmade Cthulhu toque? Check out my shop! But wait, do you already possess the skills to crochet yourself? Then just buy the pattern ;)

In the (Knitting) Zone

Posted in Knit & Crochet , on May 20, 2009
Lucas, knitting and music make me whole

Lucas, knitting and music make me whole on the commute

This weekend I got my hands on my very first real MP3 player. We’re talking a decent amount of space, not one you spend $10 on that will hold 30-40 songs and run through a pair of AA batteries 5 minutes after you turn it on; no, I purchased a real 8gb Zune that will allow me to listen to all of my favorite music, podcasts, and even watch videos. (Knitting technique video clips on me wherever I go? Priceless.) While I’m not thrilled that it’s a Microsoft product considering 90% of the computers in the house are currently Linux, (That was an arbitrary percentage to indicate that most computers are Linux, with one or two that can dual boot into either Windows or Linux, OR run a virtual Win box within Linux) it does fit my needs without breaking the bank. Score. (EDIT: Or so I thought. I had some major issues with the Microsoft proprietary software that I was forced to use with this thing, [big surprise! It’s Microsoft; I should’ve known better] and after my 5th day having it, I’d had enough. It shouldn’t have been this fiddly or stressful! I returned the Zune to get the same 8gb Sony Walkman brand my husband uses, with the same features! Hurrah! Unfortunately it’s not pink, but oh well. The brand of 8gb music/video player doesn’t matter to the rest of the post, however, so keep on reading!)

The morning and afternoon commute consists of my husband and I sharing a seat on the Calgary CTrain, aka public transit. We’re on the train for around a half hour each way to get into downtown for work. I always carry some knitting and he usually reads the free morning paper on the way in. I enjoy using public transit; there are lots of interesting people on the train and I don’t have to deal with traffic. Unfortunately, that also means I (along with everyone else) am usually subjected to random idiocy, such as Loud-Talking-People who simply MUST have that private conversation about their recent medical exam or issue with “that horrible girl from accounting” as loudly as possible on their cell phones. They do realize that they are on public transit, right? Their conversations are aired out to the world and most of the time they don’t even realize they are forcing everyone else on the train to listen in on their private lives. It’s annoying. I don’t care that you split your pants at work, nor do I want to hear how you just can’t stand so-n-so or “Like, omg you should’ve heard what she said to me!” drama.  No thanks.

Suddenly with an MP3 player, my issues seem to be solved. I get on the train, snuggle next to Lucas as he reads his paper, and get lost in my knitting zone.  It’s zen: my favorite music is playing — quietly enough to not disturb those around me or kill my ear drum, but also at a level where most everyone else is tuned out — and I knit. And I knit. And before you know it, I hear the signal that I’m a stop or two away from where we get off for work and I put my things away and smile happily; a happy sigh that can only be achieved by pure bliss. Sure I still have to smell some of the other passengers, but not being forced to listen to the ones that talk so loudly about things no one wants to hear while still getting to enjoy hubby and my knitting for a full half hour (twice a day!) is fantastic. I have found my knitting zen.

Now I just gotta be sure to not turn into one of *those* mp3 listeners — it’s been hard to keep myself from breaking into song occasionally (music will do that to you), and I do find myself gently tapping my foot or getting my knitting into the rhythm of whatever song is playing.  As long as I can keep it confined to my hands and my knitting instead of singing aloud, it’ll be all good. Because trust me… no one wants to hear that.

Just Ducky!

Posted in Featured, Knit & Crochet, Sewing , on May 14, 2009
Photo copyright to Jill D'Aubery

Photo copyright to Jill D'Aubery

I love, love LOVE when people send me emails, showing off things they’ve knitted from a pattern or made from a tutorial of mine. This week I got a lovely email from Jill D’Aubery who made her own version of my knitted duck plush, [on ravelry as well] making some fabulous adjustments to the wings and beak to suit. She even added a tie! The changes and resulting duck is simply FANTASTIC and Jill has given me permission to share her pattern changes with all of you so that you can follow her method on your own ducks. But first, the back story. Jill writes,

“My brother-in-law, who is in his 60s, is in love with rubber duckies.  For years now I have knitted something for his wife, but never for him…until I saw your pattern!  I had seen the Lion Brand pattern and felt exactly the same way you did about it.  So I tried your pattern and made a couple of changes and the result is in the attachment.  It’s adorable!!!  I gave the ducky a tie since it’s for a guy and I knitted the tie out of silk embroidery floss with a #1 needle…very difficult but very wonderful.”

“The changes I made were to the wings and beak.  I did the wings lengthwise and bound off tightly which give them a little scalloped effect. 

Photo copyright to Jill

Photo copyright to Jill D'Aubery

Cast on 14 st. 
Knit every row for 10 rows or so…until the wing is the size you want.
Bind off tightly.
Attach to the body at the bound off end/side.

The Beak
Cast on 7 st.
Knit in Stockingknit stitch (knit on right side, purl on wrong side) for 6 rows,
k 2tog on each side, purl one row, add 1 stitch on each side and continue for 5 more rows. 
Bind off.
Attach to body from the slightly narrow middle with the smooth side on the outside.
The beak curls nicely and opens just like a ducky beak!  Of course, you can make the beak larger or smaller as you wish.  Also, I attached the feet on the narrow end so that they sort of flare out like a duck foot does.”

Picture copyright to Jill

Picture copyright to Jill D'Aubery

Now don’t you agree, the result is fantastic? Jill’s ducky rocks my socks off, and when I first read her email and saw the little knitted tie on her ducky, I squealed aloud. SO cute. Great job, Jill, and thank you so much for sharing your pattern with us!

Around here it’s almost time for a long weekend, so hope you all have a great weekend. I’ll be back to update you on our Father’s Day sock progress soon!

Purls of Wisdom

Posted in Knit & Crochet , on May 12, 2009

The Boston Globe published a very interesting article that will cause knitters all over the world to smile: Purls of Wisdom. The author, Irene Sege, explains how she took up knitting for the good of her brain. It’s one of the activities recommended by doctors to potentially help keep your brain healthy, active and sharp in the prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease.  Knitting, as Irene’s doctor pointed out, could “open new neural pathways that Sudoku and crossword puzzles couldn’t” and the article delves into the ways that knitting helps to strengthen your focus and concentration skills. As one commenter on the article pointed out, learning *new* things and using *new* skills is what counts to open new pathways in your brain to keep it healthy, though I truly feel knitting still fits the bill as you learn and grow with it because there is SO much to learn in the realm of knitting and other fiber arts. I know it will be a very long time before I learn everything there is to know about knitting and it will take years to learn all the techniques. Each new technique and skill that I learn over time is a chance to open those pathways. And as I work to design my own patterns down the road, I am creating more growth, too. It’s a really great read!

Happy Mother's Day!

Posted in Knit & Crochet , on May 10, 2009

My focus this past week was on my feverish attempts to finish some Mother’s Day gifts in time to ship them out ASAP. As I mentioned in a previous post, Lucas and I spent a Saturday morning over at a do-it-yourself ceramic painting studio, where we painted three mugs: one for my mom in purple, one for Lucas’ mom in blue, and one for Lucas’ step mom in yellow and blue. Our moms will get quite the treat when the mugs arrive in the mail: each mug will contain a packet of tea (and coincidentally the teas we chose are packaged in wrapping that matches the color of the mug) and each mug will be hugged by a handknit coffee mug wrap by yours truly. It’s the same Coffee Mug Wrap pattern by DaniDo Crafty that I made recently for Lucas and I, only these have been made in (surprise!) coordinating colors to match the recipient’s mug, of course. Each have a little handmade tag attached to the handle (made from graphics I created myself in Photoshop) to let our moms know that we painted the mugs and knit the cozies for them to wish them a Happy Mother’s Day. I think the gifts will be well received :) They shipped out Tuesday, which was later than I wanted to get them out, so hopefully they’ll arrive soon.

We really had a fun time at the ceramic studio, even Lucas really loved the whole process and wanted to paint everything in sight. We saw lots of other people in the studio painting things for their moms and there were a lot of really neat painting techniques that we would’ve never thought of that produced some amazing results with the paint. One such technique was blowing bubbles! One person blew bubbles that were in a paint and bubble solution in a shallow bowl and the other person placed the ceramic piece against the bubbles as they were being blown, and when they popped they left a really neat painted effect on the side. Definitely something we want to try when we go back for other things. You can see all of the pictures we took of our fun afternoon at UB the Artist in Mackenzie Towne in our gallery. There you can also see more photos of the final mug sets all prettied up before they were shipped off earlier this week.

I recently realized that two of my co-workers knit, and so our conversations once we became aware of our kindred hobby have been most exciting. I was working this past week on  Daniella’s fabulous patterns for a Star Stitch Headband during one of my breaks at work, which brought us together. The headband turned out gorgeous, by the way! So gorgeous that I cast on another one last week for a friend’s upcoming birthday. One co-worker who really admired the star stitch has now encouraged me to try Fair Isle/stranding and cables — she swears each are much easier than I think! I’ve been itching to give both a try, but with Father’s Day (and Lucas and I’s wedding anniversary) gifts looming on the horizon with very real deadlines and knowing it may take us forever to complete our sock project, I may just hold off until they are finished. But you know how I am; the craft ADD will take over and I’ll find myself having to try just a little during a (hopefully) quick detour of finishing those projects. I haven’t even had time to play with my new drop spindle and roving kit yet! I’m sure I can sneak in a few minutes sometime soon ;) Hope you had a Happy Mother’s Day!

Lucas the Knitter

Posted in Knit & Crochet , on May 9, 2009
My handsome husband's first swatch. Note the garter AND stockinette stitches!

My handsome husband's first knitted swatch. Notice it contains garter AND stockinette stitching!

With Mother’s Day gifts finished up and shipped off earlier this week, I’m already thinking ahead to Father’s Day.  I’d been thinking that I’d love to knit up some socks for our dads this year, but I’m not the fastest knitter in the world so I’m not sure I can manage it in time.  I mentioned this time concern to Lucas on Thursday afternoon, who then suggested I teach him to knit so that he can help by knitting his dad’s socks while I knit my dad’s socks, and together we’d create knitted socks for our dads for Father’s Day.

My jaw dropped.

He then said, “If your new needles are there when we get home tonight, maybe we can spend the evening with them and you can teach me how to cast on, knit and purl.” (My KnitPicks interchangeable needles did arrive that night, woohoo!)

My jaw dropped again.

Not only does he want to spend the evening snuggled with me and my KP needles, he knew all of the basic terminology for the techniques he needs to know and wants to learn them!


Dare I say my husband may turn into a knitter?

My mind fast forwards to him having his own Ravelry account and uploading FO pictures and asking me what kind of yarn he should use for his next project. And shopping the LYS together. And how many more things we can knit for our future kiddos if there’s two of us knitting for them!

I think I just died and went to heaven.

Lucas knitting

Lucas knitting

When I came out of my daydreaming haze and picked up my jaw from the floor, I realized he was serious. Thursday evening I taught him the basics of knit and purl and he’s been doing really well!  We practiced again last night and I really think we’ll be able to attempt Father’s Day socks for our dads Magic Loop style. It’ll be a learning experience for both of us since I’ve only done socks with DPNs and only played with ML for the ribbed cuff of a sock before, but it can’t be that hard once I get to the heel, right?

Wish us luck! I don’t know about you, but I’m still in shock.

Knitter's Geek Code

Posted in Knit & Crochet , on May 7, 2009

I’m a knitter. And I’m a geek. So of course when I realized there is a such thing as Knitter’s Geek Code, I was ecstatic. The Knitter’s Geek code is hosted over at Knitty and was written by Kate A. It’s adapted from and inspired by The Geek Code, invented by Robert Hayden in 1993.  This hilarious but functional bit of “programming” allows you to identify the kind of knitter you are in a standardized way with every other knitter. Anyone else who has gone through the Knitter’s Geek Code will be able to look at my code output and completely understand what type of knitter I am, what materials I enjoy (and dislike) working with, how experienced I am and a whole lot more. It’s fascinating! So without further ado, here is my current Knitter’s Geek Output:

KER+ Exp+ SPM->+ KP++@ Bam+(+) Wool+(+) Cot+(+) Syn+(+) Stash(+) Scale+ Fin-> Ent? FI-> Int? Tex-> Lace-> Felt+ Flat Circ++ DPN+ ML+ Swatch- KIP++ Blog+++ FO+ WIP(+) GaugeW++ ALTCr++Sw+(+)

If someone asked me on the street what kind of knitter I am and I was unable to display this beautiful work of art that is geek code, I would explain simlpy that I knit right handed, english style and have been for only a few short years, but I feel I’m at least somewhat intermediate at knitting, though I knit fairly slowly in my opinion, and I use KnitPicks metal needles most exclusively for everything with the occasional use/enjoyment of using bamboo needles when necessary or for certain situations/projects.  My favorite fiber to work with is wool, but at any time I may be using cotton or synthetics, as I have a lot of that in my stash from time to time as needed (and as a newbie).  I’ve knit things larger than a dishcloth and more than just squares but am not up to doing multiple huge projects in a year yet. (Too slow!) I dread the seaming and finishing up part but I strive to be better about weaving in ends as I go so it’s not so bad, because really… finishing is something that just has to be done so I need to get over it.  I have no idea what entrelac or intarsia is really, (well, how to do it) but when it comes to fair isle and cabling/texture I know what it is and the basics of how to do it, but lack experience and am aiming to try those soon. Same with lace. I have felted (successfully) before and think it’s good in moderation; I don’t do it often but can if the project requires it.  I knit flat but rarely use straights anymore as I prefer to knit everything on circulars… even flat pieces.  For small diameter knitting in the round I use both DPNs and Magic Loop method fairly equally. I dislike and rarely swatch, even though I know I should, and I love to knit in public and do so a lot. I also blog a lot (as you can see) about knitting and projects.  I have quite a few finished objects to speak of and try to keep my list of works in progress (WIP) short, though I have been known to be affected by project ADD and so it’s not unusual to have several WIPs going. I work mostly with worsted weight and in addition to knitting, my alternate fiber-related crafts include lots of crochet and some sewing.  WHEW!

Now of course a person’s Knitter’s Geek Code is subject to change; as we learn and grow as knitters and better hone our skills or our preferences change, so does our code. For example, you’ll notice I don’t have any fancy or expensive yarn on my preferences list… this isn’t because I don’t prefer it, it’s just because I’ve not experienced using those types of yarn yet due to my lack of knitting savvy. I’m sure once I do they’ll be my preferred yarn to work with, budget permitting of course. I also hope to add spinning to my alternate fiber-related crafts section, and of course I’d like to see + progress in the things I noted that I wish to improve/learn such as lace, fair isle and cables.

While figuring out and typing out my Knitter’s Geek Code was deliciously enjoyable in a guilty pleasure sort of way, its existance in simple black and white terms helps me to see where I want to improve myself in order to round out my knitting experience. It’s rather eye opening and I like the fact that it will grow and evolve as my knitting does. Maybe one day everything will have three + after it, indicating my awesome seasoned veteran status and abilities. Time and practice will only tell.  I can dream, right? ;)

And… though I know no one but me is on the edge of their seat stalking… erm, I mean, waiting for my KnitPicks nickel-plated interchangeables set to arrive, I am ECSTATIC to report that FINALLY the status message on the Canada Post tracking website has changed from “An order has been electronically submitted” to “Item out for delivery.” ITEM OUT FOR DELIVERY!!!!???!!?! That means it’s possible I will receive my order by the weekend. Now I’m really dreaming. Cross your fingers, toes and anything else you have available! Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

And speaking of “squee”, you have to check out my latest post on our personal/everything-else-in-life blog, Look At Us Go — we had some baby geese hatch in a nest snuggled into a nook on a ledge of my office building this week. The photos and video are to die for. SO fuzzy and cute!  Check it out here. Have a great day! :)

Mmmm, Goodies!

Posted in Featured, Knit & Crochet , on May 5, 2009
Drop Spindle set by Maine Woods Yarn & Fiber!

Drop Spindle set by Maine Woods Yarn & Fiber!

No, my KnitPicks nickel-plated interchangeables haven’t arrived yet (trust me, I stalk the tracking number 800 times a day) BUT more goodies arrived today; my first wool roving and drop spindle kit! The kit comes from Maine Woods Yarn & Fiber, and I highly recommend ordering from them if you plan to learn spinning or if you need gorgeous (gorgeous handpainted!) roving to spin with. You can order from their website or check them out on eBay, where I originally found them. The customer service is absolutely fantastic and it was a pleasure working with the owner, Arlyne. I will definitely be ordering from them again — especially because I can’t help but drool over their yarn swift.  I ended up with a maple wood top whorl and bottom whorl drop spindle and have been scouring YouTube for good instructional videos to accompany the great booklets that came with the kit. (I’m a visual learner.) I think I’m going to work with the top whorl first, because this video by theartofmegan is very clear and easy to understand. With written instructions from Arlyne and the video to guide me, I think I can handle it! Once I spin some yarn I plan to give dyeing a try — this will be a very noobish, first time experience for me on many levels. I’m so excited! Not that I don’t have 100 other things I need to finish, like starting Father’s Day gifts, working on birthday presents for a couple friends and a wedding anniversary present for Lucas, all within the next two months or less. Ahhh! But how can I say no to getting started with these wonderful goodies sitting here in front of me, practically calling my name? What would YOU do?

A Well Organized Saturday

Posted in Knit & Crochet , on April 25, 2009
My first KnitPicks order!

My first KnitPicks order!

First, I want to squeal like a little girl… my very first KnitPicks order arrived (finally) yesterday. I yanked out the fingering weight sock yarn and got to work playing with my new sock-sized DPNs and even tried magic loop with the fixed 40″ circs (also sock-sized.) … and WOW, was I ever impressed. Like, really impressed. As a side note, I finally caught on to the magic loop method and was successful, and I truly believe it’s because of the great needles. I was trying magic loop on some cheapy no-name brand circs I bought a long time ago and the join just wasn’t smooth so I was getting frustrated, thinking I just couldn’t do it. Then the KnitPicks needles saunter in and suddenly I’m a magic loop pro. They are fantastic needles, and I finally understand what all of the fuss is about. I’m giddy with excitement that I’ve already placed an order for the complete nickel plated interchangeables set. WOOHOO!

Crafty tacklebox

Crafty tacklebox

This weekend Lucas and I did a little crafty shopping. After helping me put some supplies away earlier in the week he commented on my horrible (or lack thereof really) organizational tools, so we stopped by Michaels with a coupon I had to look at my options. Turns out that’s what a lot of other people did, too, and the giant craft tacklebox we had in mind was nowhere to be found in the store. That’s when we stopped in at Wal-Mart, because I needed buttons to finish my amazing Coffee Cup Wrap (which is finished! See below!) and lo and behold … there was the crafty tacklebox contraption we were looking for at Michaels. We snagged it and I spent a good hour organizing every little thing I could think of into this amazing device. I still have some leftover room in the thing, which is great since those interchangeables and other tiny accessories will be coming soon…

all opened up

all opened up

I’ve got all of my needles in the top, with lots of leftover room. My mini netbook even fits up there with my needles, LOL! I’m thinking of making a needle roll to organize those better up there in the future. In the body of this gadget there are three tiers of plastic mini tackleboxes with do-it-yourself dividers to really personalize the space. In the top one I have my knitting notions, the middle one contains all of my sewing supplies, and the bottom one holds all of my general crafty/leftover and miscellaenous stuff. It’s so handy! I’ll keep the little needle case I’d sewn a few years back for in my carry-along knitting bag so that I can take the supplies I need for whatever WIP that’s with me, but this new organizational device will be perfect to have at home so all of my supplies are with me no matter where I am in the house, easily accessible. *happy sigh* I love being organized.

cozy coffee!

cozy coffee!

As mentioned, I finished my Coffee Mug Wrap, pattern by Danido Crafty! I loooooooooooooooooooove it, have I mentioned that yet? lol. Today Lucas and I spent the afternoon at a paint-your-own ceramic place and made mugs for our moms for Mother’s Day. As part of the whole package gift I plan to tuck some tea into the mugs along with making a suitable mug wrap for each. More about that whole fun crafty adventure painting ceramics together next weekend when we pick up the finished pieces and can show them off! It’s sure been a great day :) I plan to relax the rest of the evening and watch some playoff hockey soon and attempt some socks with my new KnitPicks needles. Hope everyone else is having a great weekend, too!