Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Two Sisters, One Knitting Technique: Lace Work

This is my Rebel Scarf: an infinity scarf of my own design.
While it is a bit lacey, it is funky rather than precious. 

Last week Shelagh wrote about Fair Isle knitting and how she isn't fond of doing it but appreciates the look of it. So I thought I would share my thoughts about Lace Work.

Funnily enough, my feelings about working on lacey projects are pretty much like Shelagh's about Fair Isle! I love the look of it but I'm not keen on that knitting technique. But I had seen Shelagh working on a lot of different shawl patterns. She enjoyed making them and that joy is infectious. So I tried a few patterns that are considered lacey--you've seen them if you've been following our blog posts. Do you recall my Rebel Scarf--which was my own design? Or how about the Colorflo Shawl I made for myself?

Here's a close up of the lace pattern along the bottom edge of my small Colorflo scarf/shawl.
It's pretty and not as complicated as some lace patterns. 
But I still hadn't fallen in love with lace knitting the way Shelagh had. So when I saw the Sunray Shawl with its much simpler "lace effect" using strategically placed yarn-overs and knit-togethers, I thought I'd give lace knitting one more go. Besides, I had this cake of beautiful green merino yarn from artisan dyer Georgian Bay Fibre Co. and I knew the shawl would show that yarn to perfection.

Want a better view of the "rays" pattern? Check out our earlier post for some great photos!
Better yet, check out our Etsy shop for photos and info. 
I love the simplicity of the Sunray Shawl pattern, both in the work and the finished piece. And, as you can tell, lace patterns can range from delicate to funky. I'm glad Shelagh's passion pushed me to try lace knitting. But I don't think I have her patience to do that work often. I will stick to simpler pieces, I think.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Commuter's Wife

We are really excited to share some news: we have several of our hand-knit hats available for sale at a retail store in Uxbridge!

That's right! We were invited to sell our hats at The Commuter's Wife on Brock Street in Uxbridge. This is a bricks-and-mortar store owned by Kristy Burgess and it's a lovely little shop that reminds us of a small "One of a Kind Show." Kristy has a great eye and has found some amazing items from artisans in Canada, and especially local artists. Shelagh and I are proud to have our hats among the beautiful items available from other artisans.

Shelagh and I work hard to capture the feeling of our knit pieces for our Etsy shop, photographing and describing items to show how they truly are and how they would work in your life. But really, a big part of the experience of knitwear is missing from the online shop: the tactile experience of picking up the piece, trying it on, feeling it against your skin.

So, now that we have a few pieces available in a bricks-and-mortar store, you can get the full experience of our knitted accessories. And better than that, you can find them nestled among some truly lovely pieces in the very welcoming shop called The Coummuter's Wife in Uxbridge.

Kristy has also begun using her shop as an artisan space for her customers. That is, she brings in local artists to teach their craft to customers. Doesn't that sound cool?

I'd say it's definitely worth the drive to check out Kristy's shop and all it has to offer!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Two Sisters, One Knitting Technique: Fair Isle

Robert's wee pullover and matching toque.

 One of the wonderful pleasures of we two sisters working together is we really balance each other. And this goes for knitting too! I love knitting lace patterns, especially in shawls: it is a challenge that I enjoy. I love seeing how all the yarn overs and knit together's create the lacey design. I enjoy concentrating and focusing just that and blocking out the world to create something beautiful.

But colour work—that's definitely not for me! The most I will do is creating something with stripes. Colour work is knitting with two or more colours to create a pattern. It's called Fair Isle knitting and it's a traditional knitting technique used to create patterns with multiple colours. It is named after Fair Isle, a tiny island in the north of Scotland, that forms part of the Shetland islands. I love the results, but to be honest, I haven't knit with multiple colours because it looks too finicky to me.

However, Margaret enjoys colour work. I remember she made me, my husband, and my son matching Fair Isle sweaters and a hat for my son. This was in the late 1980s from one of those Mary Maxim patterns. I was thrilled even then because I wouldn't ever consider making something like that.

Robert wearing the toque his Auntie Margaret made for him.
I see some Fair Isle work and I am in awe over it! I might try some simple colour work but no more than two colours to create the design or pattern. Maybe a hat. I have seen some great patterns with simple designs.

It's funny, though, Margaret hasn't made anything using the Fair Isle technique in years! I wonder if she has lost interest after making those three sweaters for us all those years ago?! 

I guess it is my own self-confidence holding me back. I am sure I can do it. But sometimes I wonder if I want to do it and put it out there.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Why Hand Made Matters

The blanket my Gran made for me in the 1970s.

When it comes to gift-giving, it's easier and often less expensive to buy something from a retail store when we head out shopping with a checklist. But I've been thinking a lot lately about the beauty of giving--and receiving--hand-made gifts. I've been thinking about why hand made matters. 

Links to our Past

Do you remember your parents or grandparents making something for you? Perhaps your grandmother crocheted or your mother sewed. Or maybe your father did wood carving and your grandfather painted in oils. Think of the time someone spent on what they loved to do, especially if they made something specifically for you. These are part of your family story.

For Shelagh and me, our love of giving something special, something hand made, comes from our mother and her mother. Gran was amazingly talented: she sewed, crocheted, and knit. When I was a teenager, she sent me a beautiful crocheted afghan that she and her sisters (I think) made. Gran mailed it from Scotland, where our parents were from originally. Although I loved it, I know my teenage self didn't completely appreciate it. But I still have it and every time I look at it, I think of my grandmother.

Supports Creativity

Face it, most of our days are spent on the "have to" activities: grocery shopping, children's events, house cleaning, even exercising. But creativity should be part of our lives, whether through our own pursuits or appreciating other people's. I read a great quote from Elizabeth Gilbert that I think sums up why creativity is good for our mental health: "If I am not actively creating something, then chances are I am probably actively destroying something--myself, a relationship, or my own peace of mind."

The beauty of creativity is that it looks different for each of us. And often we appreciate that "thing" we cannot do: painting, knitting, jewellery-making, writing. Pursuing those creative activities is a wonderful outlet. Purchasing an artisan's creations might fire up your own creativity.

"Slow Living"

The growth of mindfulness has occurred as people becoming tired of a hectic, hyper-connected, over-marketed lifestyle. Living mindfully means slowing things down, choosing simplicity over excess, being present and aware of what we have, and practising gratitude.

Making something by hand means having the chance to be active creatively and mindfully. Buying something hand made means choosing creativity, simplicity, and a story over speed, excess, and a checklist.

These are just some of the benefits I see for why hand made matters. What do you think? What do you see as the benefits of choosing hand made over store bought?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Three Reasons to Shop the Neighbourhood

Have you seen the advertisements for the Yellow Pages "Shop the Neighbourhood" campaign? Here's the description on their website: "On November 28, 2015, Canadians nationwide will be encouraged to make a local purchases and take advantage of exclusive event day deals offered by businesses in their neighbourhoods."

We love the idea of shopping local: small businesses are an important part of the local economy, although they do not garner the same headlines given to large companies or government offices moving into town.

Shelagh and I aren't a bricks-and-mortar store, but we do consider ourselves to be a small business. So here are our top three reasons to support local businesses this weekend:

  1. Support larger industries. Small business provide support for other larger industries in a town as well as goods and services for the local population. Everything from coffee shops and restaurants, taxi services, and auto parts provide much-needed support for any larger offices and industries in town.
  2. Provide job opportunities. Small businesses offer job opportunities for locals, even family-owned and -operated businesses often need help if they are growing. I think many of us started working in high school for a locally owned restaurant or fast-food place. Or perhaps in a small retail store. Many of these are small businesses and if you worked for one, you were part of the small business family.
  3. Add character and community. Small businesses add to the character and sense of community in their towns. Have you heard your neighbours talk about not feeling a sense of community? Do you wish there were more character where you live? Figure out where you spend your hard-earned cash in your town: Is it at a bakery, toy store, boutique, or auto shop? Or a bunch of big box stores? Maybe a mix of both? However you normally shop, your patterns will show you what kind of community you want.
I like to think Shelagh and I participate in shopping local throughout the year. We love yarn--in case you missed that tidbit of information!--and we love going to our local yarn store, Soper Creek Yarn Store; visiting fibre festivals, where many indie dyers attend to sell their finished yarns; or even shopping online to find great yarns. We purposely look for Canadian artisan or indie dyers (shout out to Fleece Artist, IndigoDragonfly, and Sweet Georgia Yarns) and also some local dyers (thank you Yarn Enabler, The Yarn Therapist, and The Cozy Knitter).

We love being part of the indie, hand-making community: it's a fun and creative group of women (mostly) who support and encourage one another.

That's the community I want.

Have fun shopping local on the 28th!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Fashion Friday - Three Ways to Wear a Skinny Scarf

A skinny scarf is perfect for transitioning from summer to Fall. It's not too bulky and it stylishly provides a layer of warmth as the temperature drops. The scarf we're showing here is a Merino / Bamboo blend, so it's light but warm and breathable. And it's blue, which provides a great pop of colour to a wardrobe of neutrals / classics. Here's how to wear it now.

First, at work: I mean, what a great way to add some interest to a plain white shirt and black skirt. The tie-blouse became popular last year and we still see it on runways and in stores. But for that classic shirt you already have, why not add a skinny scarf instead of a necklace? It looks great and keeps you warm if you have to go to a meeting in a chilly conference room!

A skinny scarf is a great way to change up a traditional office look. 

Next, picking up / dropping off the kids for after school activities. Skinny jeans and rubber boots, a bulky pullover and a yellow mac: the style quotient for this look is amped up by wrapping a skinny scarf around your neck multiple times. The only other accessories you will need is coffee and a wallet.

Doesn't the blue pair well with a yellow mac?

Finally, let the skinny scarf release your inner rock star! Think Steven Tyler as you dress for a fun night out. Skinny jeans, a white T-shirt, high-heeled booties, and a rockin' belt all topped with a sequin-laden jacket and your skinny scarf wrapped once and draping down. 

How would you rock a skinny scarf?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Gift for a Friend

Our sister Irene was always looking for something special with peacocks on it for her sister-in-law; Teena loves peacocks and are quite meaningful for her. Irene always had a good eye for hunting down something unique for Teena, so when I saw some yarn the Yarn Enabler dyed in a colourway she named "Peacock." I knew I had to get some to make something for Teena.

Then Yarn Enabler brought a couple of skeins of the "Peacock" yarn to Knit Night at our local yarn store. She had dyed a couple of different yarn bases and they were both beautiful but slightly different. It is amazing how different each yarn base affects how the dyes absorb. The woman who had ordered the colour originally bought the ones she wanted . . . but there was one left that she didn't want. It was 75% Superwash merino and 25% nylon sock yarn! Soft and squishy! So I said "Sold!"

Now that I had a skein I had to find a pattern to do this gorgeous colour justice. Baadeck Yarns posted a free pattern that intrigued me. I looked it up on Ravelry and thought it a perfect match for this yarn and for Teena. The pattern is Seaglass by Jessamyn Leigh.

The pattern is written for using DK weight yarn and I was using sock weight. I knit it up to the initial specifications of the pattern just to get a feel for it. I loved how this pattern and yarn look together, but it was way too small. I frogged it after weighing the finished scarf, then figuring out how much to adjust the cast-on to make the scarf.

Once I made the pattern adjustments, the scarf knit up quickly. I worked on it while away on holidays: knitting in the car, by the pool, or just when having a quiet evening back at the room.

Back home, I took it to Knit Night and they loved how it turned out, including Yarn Enabler. But more importantly, Teena loved it!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Fashion Friday - Three Ways to Wear a Knit Shawl

For today's Fashion Friday, we're talking shawls. While not quite the same as ponchos, which are everywhere this season, shawls are truly versatile accessories. These mid-size triangles can be worn multiple ways. First up: two ways to wear your shawl for that funky and comfortable "boho" look.

To start your boho look, wear a sheer top over a tank or long-sleeved T-shirt. Worn with tights, ballet flats and a leather tote, your shawl can either be worn traditionally (shown above, over both shoulders, point down the back) or “rolled” to a narrow shape and tied (see below). This look would be great for running around or, better yet, for travelling. The rolled shawl is a nice accessory as you move through platforms or gates; then, once seated, unroll and throw over your shoulders to keep you warm.

The final look takes traditional accessories and amps them up for a fun look with your LBD. How about wearing your pearl necklace twisted around your wrist as a bracelet? Then add a funky cocktail ring and pearl-studded clutch to really make your look vintage. And we always we need a wrap, so why not keep the vintage look with a colourful shawl? While everything is vintage, this really ain't your grandma's look!

So there you have it: a shawl provides function, style, warmth.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Margaret's Green Sunray Shawl

It's finished! You may recall I started working on this project back in April. Yikes! Back then I named it the "Spring Greens" shawl because it seemed so timely. Now that I've completed this project, though, it's simply a green Sunray Shawl. No matter the name, I'm delighted with how it turned out.

While working on this project I came across this excerpt from "Answer to a Child's Question" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

But green leaves, and blossoms, and sunny warm weather,
And singing, and loving -- all come back together.
But the lark is so brimful of gladness and love,
The green fields below him, the blue sky above,
That he sings, and he sings; and for ever sings he--
"I love my Love, and my Love loves me!"

These few words really resonated with me because of knitting this shawl in April and seeing everything "green up" throughout the month. And the sentiment of this piece is just so . . . perfect. This shawl is exactly like Spring: green and bright and warming, both physically and to the heart. 

No matter the season, green is such an inviting and calm colour. It's great to surround yourself with green, sitting in the garden or wrapped in a shawl. Green allows you to be "brimful of gladness and love."


Friday, October 9, 2015

Fashion Friday - How to Wear an Orange Cowl

Welcome to a new feature of our blog! In Fashion Friday posts, we'll take one item from our shop and show how you can wear it in a couple of different ways. We'll use items from our own closets because we think we have pieces most women would have.

For our first post, we'll show you how to wear the "Mean Tangerine" cowl. We know orange isn't a colour for everyone. But this time of year—Autumn in southern Ontario—we are seeing a lot of it in nature: leaves are changing; mums are in bloom; and pumpkins are everywhere. And this year orange is being seen in fashion magazines as a hot colour trend. So why not add a touch to your wardrobe? Here's how:

First, how about wearing this for a night out with the girls? We've paired this bright cowl with a couple this Fall's trends: an animal print topped with a black leather jacket. Accessories include black pumps and a black clutch. Sure, you will be seen. But an orange cowl will ensure you'll be noticed

Here's a completely different look with the exact same cowl. 

Our other look is much more casual, kind of a meeting-friends-for-coffee-after-running-errands look. Jeans, a long-sleeved gray T-shirt, and a gray boyfriend cardigan accessorized by a brown fringe bag and hiking boots. The orange cowl adds a pop of colour to a neutral wardrobe and is just the right size to keep you warm without getting too hot. Perfect! 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Y-Knot? 25 Ways to Wear a Scarf

Have you ever seen women walk by wearing a great scarf in a really cool way and wonder, "How'd she do that?" I know I have. Most mornings, I just stumble out the door and quickly wrap something around my neck without much thought.

But the the other day I was checking out Fall styles online and came across this very cool video. The young woman in the video, Wendy, uses rectangular or square fabric scarves, not knit scarves or shawls like we make. But I do think some of these style would work well with one of our scarves.

Now, I'm not saying I'm going to do all these styles, but I will look at one or two of these more closely and perhaps adopt them to up my style quotient a bit.

Shelagh's Lilac Sunray shawl at the top of the page is a great example of how to work with a triangular scarf shape. First, we folded the point of the scarf up to the centre top. Then we continued folding the scarf evenly, up to the long edge. That gave us a long, narrow scarf--kind of the shape of a man's tie. Then we simply tied it around the Judy's "neck" and let the pretty picot edges flutter freely. This is a great way to show of the pattern while keeping warm in the early Fall morning.

Below is a style I've always liked, but I think that statement gives away my age!

I always loved this look. But do you think it's too '80s?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Y-Knot? A Night to Dye For

Shelagh and I are so fortunate to have such talented ladies in our Knit night group. One of the ladies, Jenn aka The Yarn Therapist, suggested something different than the usual knitting together: she offered to teach us to dye our own yarns! Of course, the entire group heartily agreed because, well, let's face it, we're all yarn lovers. And who wouldn't want to create a custom yarn?

Jenn is an avid knitter, yarn lover, and she dyes her own yarns. She and another of the Ladies, Amanda aka Yarn Enabler, walked us through the process while Christina, aka The Cozy Knitter, was one of our cheerleaders.

So Jenn ordered some yarn blanks in both fingering/sock weight and worsted weight; made up over a dozen containers of dye; and brought along lots of aluminum containers to use for our artistic adventure. Someone brought apple fritters; someone brought coffee; and Shelagh and I brought sangria--'cause that's how we roll.

Shelagh chose two skeins of fingering weight 80/20 Superwash Merino and nylon. I chose two skeins of worsted weight Superwash Merino. And then we spent at least half an hour deciding on colours. Honestly, when confronted by so much choice, it really is difficult to narrow it down to what we wanted.

Did we want a variegated yarn of one colour? Or perhaps chunks of different colours? Or maybe a solid base with speckles of different colours? The choices seem to be endless!

At the top and above, Shelagh "painting" her skeins.

Shelagh went with a different look for each of her skeins; I decided one look for both--I figured I'd need two the same to make something like a scarf.

The photo left shows my two blank skeins in one container as well as each of them after I dyed them using colour Silver Gray.

Below is a photo of my finished skeins wrapped scarf-like on our dressmaker's Judy. Can you see the teal, turquoise, purple and black that I added? When Jenn was showing us the colour options, I fell in love with what I thought of as "peacock colours," those bright colours at the "eye" of the feather. I knew they would look amazing on the platinum background.

Now I want to come up for an appropriate name for my yarn; although it will be considered a one-of-a-kind yarn, I think it deserves a lovely name.

I have some ideas, but what would you call it?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

WIP Wednesday - Something New

I've been working on something new, at least for me. I've been writing out some of the patterns I've created! I have designed a few patterns when I couldn't find one I liked. I usually source stitches from 96 Stitches: Knit Stitch Guide by Rita Weiss, a small book I picked up from Michael's last year. And I also reference Youtube videos to watch someone actually making the stitch.

I found a free Pattern Template that I use on my Word-like program. And it has been set up so I really can't forget anything: tools, gauge, abbreviations, photos, charts. Everything is accounted for.

Mostly I'm writing  to track what I've done and figure out where some refinements can be made. It's kind of fun, actually! Some of my patterns have worked out really well and some, well, let's just say they need refining. So, Shelagh or I may reproduce the pattern to make sure it works.

So far I haven't yet created anything very complicated, so my patterns are generally only one page. I've written out three patterns so far, including one for boot toppers, pictured above. I've made a couple of pairs of these, but I need to re-create it to find the best yarn to use. But I've got high hopes for it!

Have you ever written out a pattern for sharing? What info should I make sure to include?

Friday, June 19, 2015

FO Friday—Summer Scarves: Two Blue for You

I was going to write the post about how much I loved making my Lace Bias Scarf (which I did love making) and how much I loved working with this new yarn (I did). This summer scarf was, in fact, as fun and easy to knit up as I'd hoped. And I definitely love the finished scarf, it's really pretty and a perfect accessory for summer fun. See the photo at the bottom of this post.

But a bit of serendipity occurred as finished and took the scarf to Shelagh's to block: She finished up a pretty little summery scarf in shades of blue as well! So both blue scarves were laid out on her ping pong table simultaneously! Funny! 

You remember that Shelagh had about 65 g left of her Baby Boo Lace by Turtlepurl Yarns after making the Jamie Crescent Shawl. We found the “Here Be Water Dragons” pattern by Quinton Lime (akqguy on Ravelry) and she decided to try it. That's it blocking (above) and on our mannequin (below). They are both so lovely and soft and perfect accessories. Now that is a happy coincidence!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

WIP Wednesday—Well, Sort of. . . .

I don't actually have a new project on the go at the moment--the Spring Greens Shawl is still on my needles, patiently waiting for me. However, what I have is a couple of skeins of amazing yarn I've been itching to get my hands on!

Back in April, Shelagh and I a a few of the Knit Night Ladies went into Toronto for the Knitters' Frolic. It was heaven for anyone who loves working with fibre, including us. It was there I purchased some beautiful yarn from Fleece Artist, a lovely blend of superwash Merino wool and Tencel, which she refers to as "tree wool." It is a pretty blend of matte and shiny, with the shininess coming from the tencel. I've never worked with that fibre before, and Fleece Artist's spun and dyed yarn really caught my attention because of the sheen, the softness, and the name: Beach House. Isn't that perfect?

So, for World-wide Knit in Public Day this past Saturday, I thought I'd do a little test swatch to check what it's like to work with and, more importantly, how many stitches and rows per inch I will get from the yarn. 

I do have a project in mind, but it is from a magazine so uses a more standard yarn. You can see what I've completed of my swatch so far, but I wait to share the pattern until I know for sure it is the right one for this yarn.

What's on your needles?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

WIP Wednesday - I Have a Bias for the Sea

You may recall I was working with a gorgeous cotton/rayon blend yarn from Blue Heron Yarns back in April. At the time, I was struggling to find a pattern and had tried making something on my own. I had a vision of a summer wrap, but it just wasn't working.

Then, one of the Knit Night ladies from our LYS commented on my post: she thought she had just the pattern for the yarn. Suzanne lent me her Spring/Summer 2011 edition of Vogue Knitting that showed a couple of gorgeous skinny summer scarves. I picked the one called "Bias Lace Scarf" and began knitting. . . and promptly fell in love with it! The cast on edge is a pretty lacy pattern--my one adjustment was to cast on with a larger needle size than the pattern called for. Then, as you can see in the photo above, it's mostly stockinette with a little garter and yo, ssk thrown in to break it up.

Currently I'm about 75% complete. And I'm really looking forward to the cast off because the pattern calls for a picot edge, something I've never done before. I love that each edge will be different. So cool!

Oh and the name I came up with for this scarf? "I Have a Bias for the Sea"? A big part of the pattern is the decreases on one side and increases on the other to create the bias look. Matched with the yarn name, Deep Blue Sea, I think it is the perfect name! 

Friday, May 29, 2015

FO Friday - Yoga Socks are Done!

You might recall that I started another pair of yoga socks a while back. I was inspired by my friend Wendy, who was beginning her first pair of yoga socks back in April. She told me about the Karma Socks initiative for The Hospital for Sick Children (aka Sick Kids). This initiative is to bring yoga to teens going through cancer treatments. And I also heard from our local yarn store about this Karma Project: knit and donate a pair (or two) of yoga socks for the teens.

What a brilliant idea! As an emerging yoga teacher (as is Wendy) and avid knitter, this seemed like the perfect meshing of my two loves . . . and to support young people going through cancer treatments, well, I'm there.

Although I used some stash sock yarn and not the yarn suggested, I did use the pattern . . . and I modified it. So, now I'm done and gave the socks to Shelagh to bring to Knit Night for the store to send along to the hospital.

My wish is for the wearer to accomplish Vrsksasana or Tree Pose. I love this pose because I feel simultaneously rooted and ready to take flight. I send my heartfelt wish for health and happiness and love and joy for the wearer. Above, I'm demonstrating a version of Tree Pose that shows off these fun socks knit with love.

Friday, May 15, 2015

FO Jamie Crescent Shawlette Finished!!!

Well when I left off with this shawlette last November, I had only the first few rows started on it. When I finally got back to it I couldn't figure out which row I was on even though I had tried to keep track. So I frogged it and cast on all 243 stitches again. I know this sounds frustrating and like a lot of work, but it actually worked out to my benefit. When I finished the first few rows again I realized the new work looked nothing like what I had frogged!

I really like knitting lace, although I have to pay close attention to my stitch count and all the repeats. That can be difficult when you are trying to get even one row done and people keep talking to you . . . even when they see you intently talking to yourself, knitting and continually glancing back at the pattern. My husband is the main culprit in my house. I actually had to tell him to not talk to me if he saw me knitting with the blue yarn I was using.

 Even though the lace pattern was only 14 rows done twice for the edging, it was time consuming while working it. But one of the great things about this pattern is that I learned short rows while knitting the main body of the shawlette. I didn't think it would be difficult, especially since the short-row sections were small. So it was probably one of the easier short row patterns to learn on.

It is now finally done, washed and blocked. I look forward to my next project.  I do have just over 65gm out of the 100gm  I started with. So what next for this lovely Baby Boo Lace? I may just have an idea or two!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

WIP Wednesday - Spring Greens Shawl

Confession: Although I purchased a fair bit of yarn at the Toronto Knitters' Frolic on April 25, I had already purchased lots of yarn on April 1. No joke!

I couldn't help myself--about one week prior to April Fool's Day, one of my favourite indie dyers announced a sale. So on the morning of April 1, I signed in to the Georgian Bay Fibre Co. site and bought some yarn. Those four skeins at the top of the page are what I was able to get . . . man, they moved fast!

As soon as I received the package, I knew I wanted to start making something with these gorgeous yarns! I talked to Shelagh about a shawl--something I don't have a lot of experience with but she does--and she showed me a bunch of patterns she had. And when I saw the Sunray Shawl from Ravelry, I knew this would be it!

So, I picked the green yarn--a lovely blend of BFL and silk-- and I started on the shawl. I've renamed mine "Spring Greens Shawl" because of the lovely soft shades of green in the yarn: it really looks like fresh shoots of green seen everywhere in the Spring. And the light airiness of this wool makes me think of Spring and Summer.

Starting with a garter tab cast on, the eyelet details in this shawl lead out in a "ray" pattern.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Manic Monday - Knitters' Frolic

Clockwise from top left: two skeins of MerGoat Sock yarn from Indigo Dragonfly; horn and seed pod buttons; two skeins of Tree Wool yarn from Fleece Artist; one skein of Special Edition Merino sock yarn (Pinot Butter) from Indigo Dragonfly; one skein of Athena Sock from Luna Grey Fiber Arts out of Colorado; and one skein of "Copper & Zinc" from Riverside Studio.

Toronto Knitters' Guild organizes a Knitters' Frolic held at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. This year was the 18th year and the first year that Shelagh and I went along. We decided to go because the Knit Night ladies from our LYS went last year and raved about it!

We marked our calendars a year ago--and we were not disappointed!

The colours . . . the textures . . . so much fibre-y goodness!

Five of us travelled with Shelagh in the "party" van (and by party, I mean knitting) and, after figuring out the detours with road closures, we arrived ready to search and shop! (FYI: Toronto has two seasons: winter and construction.)

Shelagh had printed off the floor plan and she and I had already decided we would spend our time looking at hard-to-find yarn, particularly those from indie dyers we had heard about. The photo above is my haul (Shelagh purchased some, but I went crazy). I was thrilled with my purchases: I've been wanting to find yarn from Indigo Dragonfly for a while, and the yarn did not disappoint. I've seen yarn from Fleece Artist--and Shelagh loved making a shawl from some of their yarn--so I wanted to try some myself.

As for Riverside Studio, I hadn't heard of her before but I immediately fell for her colours. It was hard to settle on one, but that Copper & Zinc really spoke to me!

All these new skeins are added to some new yarns I ordered from Georgian Bay Fibre Co. earlier in April. So, now my only problem is: what will I work on first!?!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Knitting On the Road

So my husband and I went away for a couple of weeks. We decided we would drive down to Florida. Once we started planning the trip we realized we have never driven down to Florida on our own. EVER!! We have driven several times when the boys were small and again when they were in high school. We have flown several times with my in-laws, friends, family and ourselves. But driving on our own WOW! Would we survive it being just the two of us? Hubby will do most of the driving but I will take the wheel when needed. Generally I will knit.

My husband takes care of making all the arrangements. We get lots of maps too! No we don't have a GPS. He relies on a good old map and I have become a pretty good map reader.

We usually start staging our packing about a week before. But when it comes to projects to work on while travelling--or sitting by the pool!--I start a couple of days before I leave. I go through my patterns and see what would be appropriate to bring along. I usually have at least four projects with me. One I am generally working on and the others are to start once that is finished or if I want a change of pace. I also ensure I have stitch markers, measuring tape, my Knitters Pride interchangeable needle set, scissors and darning needles. All the little things you might need to complete projects.

Once the destination of the trip is decided I start researching yarn stores in that area. I have come across many a wonderful yarn store that way. I look for ones that carry yarns that area not carried at my LYS and one that might carry a local spinner and/or dyer. That helps write the story behind the project. This trip I found a great yarn store called A Good Yarn in Sarasota, Florida. I found the staff very helpful. They carried many brands I was familiar with and they also carried brands I had only seen advertised in magazines! I asked about locally dyed yarn. They did not have any but they have had some dyed by name brands specifically for their store. They also have a great clearance section too! Who doesn't like getting nice yarn on sales?

I will knit pretty much anywhere. I love sitting by the pool working on my projects. It is a great conversation starter. Many people approached me about the pattern and the yarn. They loved the yarn especially. I let them know that it was dyed by Yarn Enabler! A friend at my local knit night! I had many people this last trip see me on our walks and say, "You're the lady knitting at the pool!" By the time we left, I began seeing other women bring their knitting to the pool.

If you are lucky enough to be able to knit while you are the passenger on a road trip, there is so much you can accomplish.

How do you prepare for a road trip? How far in advance do you start considering which projects to bring? Do you research yarn stores? What has been your favourite knitting spot while on vacation?

Friday, April 10, 2015

FO Friday - Baby Hat

About 15 years ago or so, I began visiting a registered massage therapists to help with the tension in my shoulders that caused headaches. Over the years, circumstances have given me three different therapist. I've loved them all!

When Natalie, my current RMT, told me a while back she was pregnant, I was really happy for her. And then last week I saw her and we realized I wouldn't see her again until after her maternity leave! Natalie told me she was having a girl, so I decided to make something with some leftover pink yarn I had in my stash: a baby hat!

I found a cute pattern and knit it up: seed stitch border and stockinette for the body. Really straightforward but lovely.

You know what I love about hats? That "swirl" that appears at the top from reducing stitches. It's so cute! and it looks like a flower.

So I dropped it off on Wednesday and Natalie was surprised . . . and delighted I'm happy to say.

I can't wait to see a photo of her little girl wearing it.

The "flower swirl" at the top.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

WIP Wednesday - Summer Wrap

I know, I know! It doesn't even feel like Spring and I'm working on a summer wrap. Well, I can't help it . . . the few sunny / warm days we've enjoyed just make me so happy. As does the beautiful yarn I bought last year when Shelagh and I visited The Frayed Knot yarn store in Savannah.

The yarn is 630 yards of gorgeous cotton rayon hand painted by Blue Heron Yarns out of Maryland. It's got a lovely shiny and matte look to it. And the colour is called Deep Blue Sea. Cotton. Aqua. Deep Blue Sea. Summer, right?

But what to make? In my mind I picture a lovely summer shawl, a wide rectangle in waves of blue to throw over your shoulder when the air conditioning is a bit much at the office . . . or out at dinner. And because it's cotton, it could be wrapped like a scarf over a bright white T-shirt with a pair of comfy jeans. Something lacy but not too precious.

After looking for patterns in stitch guides and online--I even started a few rows of the ubiquitous Seafoam pattern--I finally found this unnamed stitch. The site considers it to be part of the lace family. I've done a few rows and I really like it . . . but should the entire wrap be done like this or maybe break it up with some stockinette to show all the lovely qualities of the yarn?

I'm going to do a few more rows like this and then decide, but I'd love some feedback: knit an entire wrap like this or add some stockinette to break it up? I'd love to hear from you!

Here's the openwork stitch. Can you see an entire wrap done like this?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Manic Monday - The Yarn Yogi

Back in February, Shelagh and I made yarn bowls at a local paint-your-own pottery place. We each had our own approach to painting our noodle / yarn bowl, but we had so much fun just painting and talking. So when my friend Susan told me she would be taking a week's "stay-cation," I told her about the fun we had.

Susan knits as well and, as I thought, she was up for doing something a little different. And I wanted to do another bowl anyway.

Again, we each had our own approach, but it was fun!

As you can see, I came up with an idea to blend my two passions: knitting and yoga! The pink-haired yogi in easy seated position is me, knitting with her heart. And I got really creative by painting the ball of yarn inside the bowl to flow out easily.

I think this yarn bowl painting is becoming addictive!