Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Daily Review - Knitting Cast-on E-book

A while back, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to review an e-book on Brioche Knitting.  The author of that e-book, Liat of KNITFreedom has a new video course - this time a guide to knitting cast-ons

When it comes to knitting cast-ons, I've always defaulted to the trusty long-tail cast-on.  It's the first cast-on I learned and works for most things.  There are definitely those times though when the long-tail cast-on just isn't as pretty and fitting as the piece calls for.  I do know that there are lots of other cast-ons out there, but I didn't know how many until taking a look at this e-book!   [Did you know multi-colored braided cast-ons even existed?  Mind blown!]

The course covers some basic info on cast-ons, even including some tips about the long-tail cast on that I didn't know.  No more pulling 100 stitches off the needle when the tail gets too short!  Turns out there's a pretty easy fix for that.  As with Liat's other video courses, the videos themselves are clear and very easy to follow along.  It's a lot easier than scouring YouTube for something when you're not entirely sure what it's called.  There is a very handy table of contents at the top of the guide which takes you to the exact spot you need - whether you're looking for a cast-on by name or category.    I really like the short description included with each cast-on video, explaining how it is best used, along with tips, and a clear swatch photo to show what the finished product is supposed to look like. The only thing I would have liked would be a video covering how to get a nice clean join when casting-on in the round (i.e. for a hat or top-down sock). 

In the end, I think this video course is a fantastic reference tool for knitters looking to take their craft to the next level.  For all the hours of care and love put into a project, starting with the perfect cast-on makes sense, making this a great resource to have at your fingertips.  I know it's going to make me think twice next time I pick up the needles to start a project and I'm excited to try some new techniques.

This cast-on video e-book is available for $24.99 through the KNITFreedom site.  Check out the other classes on offer too!

DISCLAIMER:  I received no money for this review, but received a preview copy of the e-book prior to release.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Daily Craft - My design needs your vote!

You may remember a few weeks back that I won a set of beads through Artbeads' "Tuscon Ten" contest.  So, part two of the contest was to create a design using those beads, with the beads making up at least 50% of the design.  Usually, I just let inspiration come to me when thinking about jewelry pieces, so it was different to have the parameters of my design set by the beads in hand.  The biggest challenge I faced was figuring out how to combine the different sets of beads, which I may not think to put together under other circumstances. 

In the end, I designed two necklaces.  The intent was that they could be worn separately, or together.  The first necklace used the giraffe beads combined with the tiny peacock pearls, and wire wrapped together with antiqued brass wire.  The second necklace tied in the antiqued brass with chain, and I decided to go with a lariat style so that I could feature a couple of the larger beads at each end.  I think the end result ended up being pretty cool!

Now onto the second part of the contest though.  I could win a giftcard from Artbeads for my design and could use your help!  If you could take a minute to vote for my design, please scoot on over to this Facebook page.  Voting is open through May 20th.  You can also check out the designs on the Tuscon Ten Pinterest Board.  Thanks all! 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Daily Ramblings - Birthdays and un-birthdays

Our household was recently hit by the dreaded lurgy (which is one of those British phrases I'd very much like to get people using here in the US).  A couple of weeks ago, Owen brought home a daycare cold, which resulted in getting me sick.  He recovered pretty quickly but, having given the munchkin all my antibodies, I didn't fare so well.  After the cold symptoms dissipated, the following week of sinus headaches led me to the ENT doctor.  He congratulated me on the general disturbing state of my sinuses and tonsils, then sent me home with a 10 day dose of antibiotics.  The drugs had just taken hold on my infection when Owen started coughing and wheezing, leading to a weekend trip to urgent care where he was diagnosed with bronchitis.  Now we have to give him breathing treatments with albuterol twice a day, which essentially means we wave a wand that is spewing vapor into his mouth and try to get him to stay still for 10 minutes while it works it's magic and opens up his airways.  There is nothing fun about this.  Trying to get a six month old to stay in one spot for 10 minutes is hard enough as is, let alone with something that he doesn't understand shoved in his face.  If he doesn't start crying straight away, I will potentially spend those 10 minutes trying to wrestle the wand out of his hands because he's trying to eat it.  This morning he thought it was a gigantic straw and was trying to suck liquid out of it, then got frustrated because it wasn't working.  The kid is too smart for his own good.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, we did have cause for celebration.  Owen turned 6 months on Monday. That's half a year since he burst into our lives and changed us forever.  I can hardly believe it.  In that he was sick, I didn't get to do the photoshoot that I was hoping to, but snapped some pics on my cell phone to commemorate.  I'll do a proper photoshoot with him in the next couple of weeks.  I'd say his "blue steel" is pretty good already though.

Yesterday, it was my birthday.  I'd say 34 is a relative non-event, and the universe did feel the need to remind me of that as I struggled with car trouble and a wheezing baby, which meant my celebratory dinner ended up being Indian takeout, obtained and hand-delivered by my loving husband.  It certainly wasn't the ideal birthday but, in the end, I was surrounded by my boys (the big one, the small one, and the furry one) and I can't complain about that too much.