Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Boye Needles + Options Cables = Love!

I've been so excited to share this, I've been going nearly mad waiting for this tiny little package to arrive in the mail for the last month!

My very first set of interchangeable knitting needles was a brand new package of Boye Interchangeables I found on ebay for just $10. I used those pretty exclusively for a year or so, until I decided to give into the peer pressure (ie everyone raving about them) and try out Knit Picks Options. Since I couldn't afford a whole set, I just bought 3 sizes of needle tips and a set of two cables.

What I discovered was that the needles themselves were great, but I was just as happy with my Boye needles (plus they're so pretty with all their colours!). I also discovered, however, that the Options cables are far, FAR superior to the Boye cables. I instantly became spoiled, and found myself cursing the Boye cables whenever I had to do a project that I didn't have the correct size Options for. It didn't take long for me to try putting my Boye tips onto the Options cables, but the tips were just a little too small to screw on more than a half turn.

Once again, I turned to Google. First I found Fleegle, who had her tips converted by a gunsmith. Great! It could be done! But I wasn't about to spend $3+ per tip to have them done, I just knew there had to be a more frugal option. After much searching, I found Kat's story of how her father converted her tips for her, using a small handheld tap. I figured, I'm pretty handy, so why couldn't I do it myself, too? Kat helpfully provided the correct tap size, 3-56. Or for my fellow Canadians, if you're luckier than me and can find one locally, the metric conversion is M 2.5 x 0.45 I couldn't find one this small locally, but was able to get one from an ebay store called CoulterPrecision for just under $5 US, including shipping. They were great to work with, my only complaint being with Canadian Customs for holding my package up for several weeks.

With some help from Jeff, we rigged up a little vise grip to help turn the tap by hand. The round rubber grippy pad that came with my Boye needles (to help screw them in tightly) turned out to be perfect for holding the needle tip while tapping it. The trick with tapping them, is to go slowly, screw in the tap a few turns, then unscrew a few turns each time while blowing out the little metal shavings it creates.

With a little bit of patience, it will give you a join that is pretty near perfect:

There is a barely perceptible ridge at the join, and after knitting a few rows in both fingering weight and worsted, I didn't experience any snagging at all. I really couldn't tell the difference between knitting with the Boye tip vs the Options tip. Here are the two, side by side:

And here is my Frankenstein Options cable, with a Boye tip on one end, and an Options tip on the other:

I now feel like I have the best of both worlds. I plan to keep an eye open for a 2nd Boye Interchangeable set, so I can have two sets of the different needle sizes, and I'm going to stock up on the different sizes of Options cables. If you decide to attempt surgery on your needles, I love to know about it!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sweet Harmony Handbag

I haven't done any crafting the last couple of days, it seems like everyone in my house has been sick with one thing or another this past week. I did, however, finish a new handbag just a couple of weeks ago that I want to share. The pattern is Amy Butler's Sweet Harmony Handbag and Tote. I made the larger tote version first, as a gift for my MIL, who picked out the fabrics. I love everything about the pattern except for the handles:

There's only one handle, and between the length of it and the way it's attached, I found it really awkward to really get in the tote to rummage around for stuff.

So, I went on to make the handbag version. I really love the handbag version of this pattern! It's a great size for someone like me who always seems to have to lug around a ton of stuff. It fits my wallet, sunglasses, coin purse and Kobo eReader in the main compartment perfectly. Instead of the pattern handle, I made two simple handles instead, which easily fall open to the sides for easy access to the interior.

Inside, I added zippers to both interior pockets (the pattern called for one zippered and one not).

I made two other modifications. I didn't have any magnetic snaps, so instead I made a button flap closure. I also added an additional small pocket inside each of the exterior pockets (one on each side. The pattern called for just one small pocket on one side). They're perfect for holding a cell phone, iPod, small notebook, or anything else you need quick and easy access to.

The Sweet Harmony pattern is not included in Amy's Style Stitches book. It can be found in several different online stores for around $12.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Give a Hoot!

 In the spirit of my new owlie blog design, I thought I'd share a pair of mittens I finished last month. The pattern is called Give a Hoot, and it's seriously adorable.

This first photo best shows the actual colour, while the other two let you see more of the detail in the pattern. This pattern has the absolute best thumb gusset ever, they just hug your hand as though they were designed just for you.

You can find this free pattern directly on the designer's website, Kelbourne Woolens, and it also has a project page on Ravelry. If you're a knitter and you're not yet a Ravelry member, why not?! It's fantastic and you should check it out!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A New Look!

Well, I couldn't get any crafting done today, really. Corban wasn't feeling well all day and was really clingy, so I spent most of my day on the couch with him snuggled up with me. Since all I could really do was use the computer, I decided to revamp my blog. I currently have a tiny obsession with cute owls, so I thought I'd incorporate some into my design.

The cute owls and branches are PhotoShop brushes from Theshelfs on deviantART and Pumpkins&Posies, and the clouds in the background are also PS brushes, from tomqvaxy on deviantART. Thanks to them for their awesome graphic design skills!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Today's Project: Blossom Bag

Like I said in yesterday's post, I'm really loving Amy Butler's new Style Stitches book. Based on looks alone, my favourite bag from the book is the Blossom Bag:

I love everything about it. The shape, the size, the awesome details on the straps. And look at all the great compartments inside! I picked out some gorgeous home decor weight fabric last week, with this bag in mind. This fabric was on these big rolls right across from one of the cutting tables at the store, and it had been calling my name the last several times I was in the store. At $19.99/meter, though, I just couldn't ever justify the cost. Well, Jeff got a great tax refund this year, and we each got a bit of spending money AND the fabric store was having a big sale. I got my regular 20% member discount, plus an additional 30% off the pink lining fabric. And on top of that, I found a meter of the home dec weight white fabric (for the interior dividers)  in the remnants bin for a measly $2.50 !!! Check it out, isn't it lovely?

Today I plan to get all my pattern pieces cut out, and my interfacing ironed on, at least. Then I'll try and get started on the sewing. I'm going to get stuck at one point when it comes to putting the exterior together, though, as I'm waiting on a mail delivery from Hong Kong of some magnetic snaps for the closure.
For anyone else who thinks this Blossom Bag is full of awesome, you don't have to buy the book. The pattern is available for free on the Sew Mama Sew blog!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Amy Butler's Style Stitches

Wow, it's been almost a whole year since I've posted anything to this blog. It's amazing how quickly time goes by. In the past, this blog has kind of gone in all different directions and has been pretty random. Moving forward, I think I'm going to focus it on my hobbies.

With that, I'm going to start with a review of and sharing a project from Amy Butler's newest pattern book Style Stitches. I bought this book a couple of weeks ago and I simply adore it!

The tagline says "12 easy ways to 26 wonderful bags!", which basically means there are 12 bag patterns and most of them include some sort of variation. Most of these variations are in the size of the bag, ie a smaller handbag size and a larger tote size of the same pattern. Still, with a little imagination, almost every bag is easily customizable beyond just choosing your fabric, whether it be changing up the straps or closures, or adding your own embellishments.

The book itself has some really great features. First of all, it's spiral-bound, so all the pages lay open flat for easy use. It has lots of great photographs and diagrams, easy-to-follow directions and detailed material lists for each project. It also includes a pocket at the back filled with all the pattern pieces you'll need to make any of the bags.

Here's a project I just finished. The bags are the Teardrop Bag, and the Key Keeper Coin Purse.


These particular bags are being given away as prizes on the online forum I help run, Fresh Start Forums. I really like them, though, and plan on making a set for myself soon, too. First up for me, though, is going to be the Blossom Bag from the book. I've already bought the most gorgeous home decor fabric for it.

If you already have Style Stitches, or are planning to buy it, you might also want to check out the fun Style Stitches Monthly Bag Challenge sew-a-long happening over at JemJam!