What a little QT 3.14159!

The first sleeve on my sweater is done (and fits this time!) and the second one is several inches in. It would have been done by now if I hadn’t had to redo the first sleeve and then got burned out on it. To alleviate that exhaustion, I focused on a different project. Something cute, fun and quick to finish. Taking my time it took 5 days from start to finish to work this plushie. It was a nice break and the end result is smashing!

So meet my little bud, QT 3.14159 (Cutie Pie)!

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I used the pattern Louie the Lovebot with Lion Brand’s yarn Hometown USA in colorways Dallas Grey and Key Lime. I won one skein of Dallas Grey last year when I placed in an art contest and bought one more in the same colorway and one in Key Lime (you can’t tell the gray is in two different dye lots). I used a size 7mm circulars. Two skeins of the gray turned out to be too little but one skein of green was plenty. I ended up knitting one arm and one leg in reverse colors so I would have enough yarn for everything.

The result itself is very cute but the pattern itself isn’t optimal. I ended up knitting the body flat with 2 extra stitches at CO so I could mattress stitch up the sides and avoid the impossible intarsia in the round. I stranded the colorwork. Next time I think I may just duplicate stitch for a better tension and neater look, cause working super bulky yarn on too small needles is hard work by itself, but colorwork becomes a drama! Some of the construction is also a bit weird.

Things I would do different next time:

  • Work the body in the round without colorwork and duplicate stitch the heart instead (marking the first color stitch with a stitchmarker).
  • Use a provisional CO for the body so that I can kitchener stitch the body closed after stuffing for a neater finish.
  • Instead of using the 3 needle bindoff for the body, kitchener stitch it closed on the shoulders and leave the stitches between the markers live on the needles. You’re going to pick them up again for the head anyway. You can sew the gap between the body and head shut later from the inside without it being visible.
  • Pick up stitches on the body to start the arms with to avoid having to sew them on (it was difficult and didn’t look neat at all).
  • When CO the feet, you start with the heels. I would use Judy’s Magic CO to avoid having a gap and needing to sew it shut, it would look better.
  • I’d probably pick up stitches and knit the ear bolts on directly rather than sew them on.

Part of these modifications stem from the fact I hate sewing. Most people dislike weaving in, or kitchener stitch or similar things. I like those. I hate sewing! The less I have to do it, the better.

I’m actually excited to knit him a little buddy. He’s about 55cm/21.5″ tall from the top of this head to the bottom of his feet with super bulky yarn on 7mm needles.  I think a worsted or DK yarn might be good for a little guy. 🙂

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Buying good yarn on a budget

I don’t make it a secret that my financial situation is less than ideal. I’m on disability, I’m up to my ears in debt, almost everything I own, ranging from furniture to clothing, is second- or even third-hand gifts and donations. I have to be careful with my food budget and I need to plan my cats’ boosters a year in advance so I can afford them. I have to occasionally buy them kibble that they don’t like (but still tentatively eat) to ensure the three of us can eat.

That means buying yarn is really a luxury for me. It’s my main hobby and every penny that I don’t spend on food and essentials goes towards it. I reel when I see a single, 50 gram skein being sold for $15. I could never afford or justify it, so a lot on my wishlist will probably forever remain a wish. And that’s okay.

Being frugal means I have no problem with buying cheap yarn. I’ve found that certain projects bear no benefits from using expensive animal fiber wool when acrylics do the job just as well. But cheap doesn’t have to mean ‘no animal fibers’ ever, nor does it mean the quality is low! I’ve wanted to write a post about how to buy good yarn on a budget for a while, and I hope this can help other yarn enthusiasts on a budget to get excellent fibers at a low price! So let’s get started. 😉

Not every project needs animal fiber yarn

As the proud owner of multiple pattern books that were gifted to me by amazing friends, I was astonished to find out that many pattern designers and writers recommend animal fiber yarns for their projects even if the project is non-wearable. I strongly believe that every fiber has its own purpose, and I tend to use wool exclusively for items that will be worn and need to provide warmth. Animal fibers lend excellent qualities in terms of water resistance as well! But when your project is a table cloth or a plushie, you may want to consider switching to an acrylic yarn.

I know that acrylic has a bad reputation with a lot of knitters, particularly with older generations who remember low grade acrylic yarn from several decades ago. I’ve found that nowadays, many acrylic yarns do their job excellently in all sorts of projects. Sweaters, hats, mittens, plushies, cozies and more can all be made with acrylic yarn at a high quality! This is especially useful when you or someone you knit for has a sensitivity or allergy to animal fibers. So if you harbor a grudge against acrylics, or you’ve heard bad stories, give the modern acrylic yarns a whirl. You don’t have to use them exclusively, but it can make a huge difference in your budget if you swap animal fibers for acrylics in projects that don’t rely on wool’s unique qualities.

Dollar Stores

When I first started knitting, I wasn’t ready to invest in expensive yarn with a non-existent skill level. The dollar store was my place to go because the yarn was not only cheap, it was lovely too! Although acrylic seems their main yarn of choice, I’ve noticed that quite a few stores in my area have begun to sell cotton and wool blends as well. Only a few weeks ago I picked up a wonderful wool twisted ply skein, 100 grams for €2.99 ($3,27). While it’s definitely in the more expensive range for a dollar store, it’s half as expensive as the yarn at my LYS.

In many cases I can get 100 gram skeins in acrylic for €0.90 in various colorways. The more extravagant colorways can be a euro extra, but it’s still incredibly affordable. Many people can’t really tell the difference between my real wool yarns and acrylics in both touch and feel. 🙂

If you’re looking for a bargain without sacrificing quality, I recommend you check your dollar store (or perhaps even your big supermarket) and see what they’ve got to offer. My only recommendation is to stay away from single ply yarns (by this I mean the actual ply, not the weight like DK, Worsted etc.). I’ve found that even though they’re super soft, the yarn is also fragile. I’ve had trouble with weaving in ends because the strand kept breaking from a gentle tug. Keep that in mind, but don’t dismiss acrylic yarns altogether because of their price or their fiber content. You’d be surprised at how lovely they can be.

Search online auction/marketplace sites

This is something I had success with recently! I was browsing the Dutch equivalent of Craigslist and stumbled on a leftover lot of discontinued yarn. Retail value for the whole lot was €146 minimum, and I was able to pick up 40 skeins of yarn (nylon/acrylic/wool/silk blend) in various colorways for only €37. That was my entire crafting budget for the month, but for 40 skeins I can hardly complain! I knit a wonderful hat with it last week that I essentially paid less than €2 for instead of €8.

Similarly, I sometimes see ads from people who used to knit or crochet but haven’t done so in years. They’re selling their entire stash for a small price. While you have to be slightly careful with this (ask questions and, if possible, go see them and look at the whole lot before you commit to buying, make sure they’re from a smoke-free home etc.) it’s another great way of fetching good yarn for little money. Many people have true treasure stashes and are eager to clean up their home from items they don’t do anything with, yarn included!

Shop online/for special promotion sales

It’s important to support local businesses, but with a limited budget this isn’t always a possibility no matter how much we want it to be. My go-to site for online shopping is www.iceyarns.com. While shipping can be more expensive for US residents, it’s very affordable for the EU. I haven’t had a single yarn from them so far that I didn’t like!

Their only ‘downside’ is that they sell in lots (usually of 4 skeins of 100 grams or 8 skeins of 50 grams), meaning you can’t buy individual skeins and you can’t return the leftovers. However, with prices as low as $0.50 per skein (for actual animal fiber blends!) this doesn’t matter much to me at all. They have regular bargain sales and promotions, which is exactly what allowed me to knit my boyfriend’s wool blend sweater (45% wool and 55% acrylic) to be knit with only $8 worth of yarn in 12 skeins. It sounds pretty crazy, but thanks to the sale they were having we managed to buy the yarn at such an affordable price it felt surreal.

Of course they have more expensive yarns as well, but there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t have a complete adult’s sweater for $30, including shipping, when you keep an eye on their promotions. 🙂

I’m certain there are websites like this that ship from within the US as well. In any case, signing up for newsletters on your favorite yarn sites (perhaps even your LYS’s website) is a good way to get notified of sales that fit within your budget. In fact, sales are the primary drive behind my ability to buy yarn these days!

Limit your purchases to projects you have planned

This is a piece of advice I don’t follow myself at this time. I’m sorry if that’s a bit hypocritical, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important to include in this post! It’s easy to blow your budget on a yarn that looks absolutely amazing and you must have it now cause you ran into it without planning. But what good is yarn that collects dust in a corner for years and never gets knit up? If you struggle with this, it can be important to make a habit out of buying for projects you will start within a week versus making a big stash that won’t get used up. That way you’re not wasting money on yarn you never use and you can buy the yarn for the projects you want to make.

Although I’m still a bit of a stash hoarder, my recent purchases have all been assigned projects as I bought them. It helps to avoid impulse purchases that I can’t actually afford. Almost everything in my stash is currently ‘going towards a project’, which means it’s easier to tell myself “You don’t have any projects planned, you don’t need this yarn!” when something pops up.

 

These are my main ‘tricks’ for getting my hands on wonderful high quality yarns for a low price. I think the most important message I have for you is that animal fibers aren’t superior to other fibers, and that high quality animal fibers don’t need to cost $10 a skein to be worthy of knitting into a sweater. There is a lot of stigma in the knitting community regarding acrylics and cheap yarns that I find a bit silly. I haven’t run into any yarn snobs on WordPress, but they’re abundant on Facebook and other sites. It makes me sad because acrylic yarns have served me well and can be just as hard wearing and warm as wool.

There are more ideas I’ve had for budget purchases, but none that I have experienced myself yet. I feel I’m in no position to write about or recommend them for that reason, but I might get the chance for it one day and I’ll be sure to let you know when I do. 🙂

Floating around

Today is the third Friday that I went swimming with my group. I don’t think any of us ‘felt it’. One lady had a headache,  the other didn’t feel okay,  my back acted up and the fourth lady was very tired. That means we showered and changed early and had coffee at the cafetaria downstairs.

Now we’re back at the group building being artsy and crafty until lunch starts twenty minutes from now.

Of course I brought my mom’s socks with me to work on during the coffee break and for the rest of the afternoon. I promised a picture!

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I keep disliking and then loving this colorway and I can’t make up my mind. It feels very earthy and forest-y one moment and ‘dirty’ the next. I’m going to finish the pair though,  I think I might really like it when they’re done and the yarn had a chance to show itself in all of its glory. (I may also be a big optimist!)

As for my Yarn It, I’m in love and very happy with it! My only complaint is that my conventional 100 grams yarn cakes don’t fit. I think it was designed with 50 gram skeins in mind, which means I had to knit the toes and a chunk of the foot before I could stash the cake in the bowl and work from it. I’ve been thinking about this and concluded a few things:

1. An actual ball could potentially fit because it will fit better than a cake. The downside is that you can’t pull from both ends this way, and you need to know how to make a center pull ball if it won’t rotate.
2. For most of my yarn and projects it’s absolutely no problem to make two 50gr cakes instead.
3. I will make two 50gr cakes with my next sock yarn and see if they will squish together in the Yarn It. Since they’re both center pull they don’t need to rotate as long as the yarn can be pulled from both holes.

Overall I’m thrilled with this accessory so far! I love having my darning needles and stitch markers safely stashed in the foot, and I haven’t dropped my yarn on the floor since I got it.

It also makes for a nice conversation starter. 😉

A warm thank you to all the craft bloggers out there

Thank you for contributing your magnificent creations to the world.

Thank you for sharing your happy thoughts with us.

Thank you for sharing your frustrations with us.

Thank you for being so kind when helping others out.

Thank you for encouraging other crafters.

Thank you for being so generous with your time and creations.

When I first started blogging about knitting, I had no idea just how much I would find here on WordPress. There are so many lovely knitters and other crafters out there who make my days better by sharing their creations, and so many kind likes and comments on my own that make me warm and fuzzy on the inside.

It’s easy to feel like insignificant sources of noise on the world wide web, but then the connections happen. Wonderful, lasting connections with people from all around the world who each have something unique and delightful to contribute.

Please keep going, keep doing your thing! You’re making a difference in someone’s world.

Shedding some light on dying

For years I’ve been an avid fan of first person zombie shooters. Among my favorites are Left 4 Dead and Dead Island. I do enjoy other genres – Mirror’s Edge is an amazing FP parkour game that I replay countless times (even though I’m terrified of heights, even virtual ones!).

Needless to say I was absolutely ecstatic when a message popped up in Steam telling me my boyfriend gifted me a copy of Dying Light. This game is stunning and incredibly fun, like an amazing mixture between all the aforementioned games. Not only does it combine parkour with combat and crafting, it adds a new element of danger at night. Special zombies who only emerge in the dark and are vicious, ruthless hunters unlike the sluggish undead by day.

I’m usually not very frightened by games, even horror ones, but my blood gets pumping when I have to run missions at night!

There are definitely some bugs that still need addressing here and there, but I have to say I’m super pleased with this game as it is right now. It’s the first game that truly shows my rig’s age though – at an average of 22 FPS I have to admit that I’m going to have to upgrade my video card again in the future. If my motherboard wasn’t so close to dying that’s all I’d need though.

Mr Zombie was in a safe area where he wasn't supposed to be. When I confronted him and took his picture as evidence for the zombie police, he had the audacity to try and shield his face! That dirty trick won't work, Mr Zombie. You're busted!

Mr Zombie was in a safe area where he wasn’t supposed to be. When I confronted him and took his picture as evidence for the zombie police, he had the audacity to try and shield his face!
That dirty trick won’t work, Mr Zombie. You’re busted!

I’ve had tons of fun playing with my boyfriend and I’m looking forward to making it to the finale of the game.