January 17, 2015

January WIP

January is typically one of my busiest months work-wise.  I bring work home at night and there is very little knitting time.  But I would like to show you what I started knitting.

A pattern that has been in my queue for some time is the Joji Locatelli sweater called Japan Sleeves.  I thought I would start the pattern this month, originally thinking that all those rows of striped knitting would be easy for me when my brain is so engaged with work.  But much to my surprise after reading the pattern, I realized that I had to do the sleeve lace inserts first, repeating the lace chart about eight times! Not exactly t.v. watching.  So I decided that every morning when I have my coffee I would knit a few rows.  It is growing very slowly and by this rate I may have the sweater done by December!  Anyway this is the yarn I chose:  Madelinetosh Merino Light in Teddy Bear and Molly Ringwald, a beautiful pale pink.  I thought it would be a pretty sweater for spring.  Now the question is will it be spring of 2015 or 2016?

Japan Sleeves

The other piece I am working on is my second Pebble Beach Shawlette by Helen Stewart in Tosh Merino Light called Coquette.  I don't usually knit with pink and so I looked at many yarn lines to see what they had to offer.  Coquette, was by far, the prettiest pink I came across.  The slight variation in shades of pink made such a lovely skein of yarn.  This is going to be a special gift for someone's birthday.  The pattern is laid out in a unique way and on the side of the pattern the designer has written what percentage you have completed which motivates me in some way.  I think I can get it done in time, as it is an easy pattern to follow.

Tosh Merino Light in Coquette

Look what came in the mail for me from an Etsy sale held by Tanis Fiber Arts. This is her Orange Label Yarn, a soft blend of merino, silk and cashmere.  It is one of those yarns where you spend more time squishing it then knitting with it. The colourway is called Painted Jeans and is hard to capture on camera...a mix of blue, purple brown and grey.  I don't know what I will do with this yet.  Any suggestions?

Tanis Fiber Arts Orange Label

Oh well, back to my work.  I hope everyone has more time for crafting than I do at the moment.

January 5, 2015

Capall Dubh: Carol Feller

Setting goals is a tricky thing.  I am all about setting goals for myself but as I have become older I am trying to be kinder to myself when I don't reach my goals. I am trying hard to go with the flow and accept that some things happen that can alter what I want to achieve.

I joined Carol Feller's KAL in the fall with the intention of knitting this lovely sweater, named Capall Dubh, by mid December.  However, I did not complete it until the beginning of January due to work obligations and Christmas preparations.  In the past this would have bothered me but I decided to let it go and not worry about it.  Life happens.

This is the first Carol Feller pattern I have ever knit and I think it is very well written.  I used Madelinetosh Pashmina in the Alabaster colourway.  It is a sport weight yarn in a lovely merino, silk, and cashmere blend.  The colour is hard to photograph but I would describe it as the colour of honey with darker undertones.  This was the first time I knit with Pashmina and it is going to be so luxurious to wear.  

Madelinetosh Pashmina

The cardigan was knit from the top down and the sleeves were knit in the round.

 The lace pattern was easy to follow and the resulting cardigan fits very well.

I had to reknit the first sleeve as it came out way too tight.  Knitting two sleeves is hard enough but knitting three sleeves was torture!  Well I might not have met my deadline but I am starting the New Year with a new sweater.  As for other New Year resolutions I am going to try to enjoy the moment more and not always look immediately to setting the next goal.

Happy New Year to everyone!  I wish you all the best in 2015.

December 30, 2014

A Look Back: 2014

First of all I want to thank all the readers who take the time to read my blog.  It always thrills me to find out that there are actually real people reading what I have to say.  I am still excited (my husband would say obsessed) with all things yarn and I just wish there were more hours in the day, less demands at work and that I was a faster knitter.

I thought I would take this time to reflect on my blogging year and recognize what stood out for me in 2014 in the world of knitting:

Best Yarn Shop:  I had the pleasure of visiting many yarn shops this year including the Gingertwist Studio in Edinburgh, Beehive Wool Shop in Victoria and Purl Soho in New York City.  Of course there are all the terrific Toronto based yarn shops which I visit frequently.  But if I were only able to visit one of the yarn stores again it would have to be Knitty City in New York City. The variety and the amount of beautiful yarn was spectacular.  I still regret not buying a yarn I had my eye on when I was there.  (As an added bonus there is a bookstore down the street for patient husbands to sit and wait).  I must go back.

Table display at Knitty City

Best Online Shop in Canada:  The service was excellent and the delivery was fast from any online Canadian yarn shop I ordered from this year.  However, ValleyYarns.com is one that I have used several times as I find their prices are competitive and they offer a huge selection.  Also delivery is free if you spend over $100.  But I have found that it is worth my time to shop around as prices do vary from site to site.

Best Shawl: As I am becoming a more experienced knitter I am getting very picky about what shawls I will knit.  I have knit some beautiful shawls in the past that I find are challenging to wear comfortably.  I prefer to wear shawls that can be worn a number of ways and that don't overwhelm my shorter height. With that in mind the shawl I find myself turning to again and again is Algiers by Kristin Kapur which was part of a Fan of Through the Loops Mystery KAL.  Knit in the beautiful Black Trillium Fibres Studio Pebble Sock yarn it really is the perfect shawl for me.  This shawl also represents the first completely lace shawl I have knit. When I started this KAL I had no idea what the finished shawl was going to look like.  Each week I was sent the next part of the pattern.  I think if I had seen what the finished shawl had looked like before I started I would have felt intimidated and not tried it.  It really was not that difficult and it helped me gain confidence in my knitting skills.  I am currently knitting another one in a solid colour.

Algiers by Kristin Kapur

Best Cardigan:  This one is an easy one to choose.   Grace by Jane Richmond knit in the most beautiful yarn by Sweet Fiber Yarns Cashmerino Luxe is my top choice of the year.  I had tried knitting this cardigan in the previous summer and had no luck getting through the lace part at the beginning.  This summer I was able to get through it and make a sweater that fits great and is so soft to wear. I love everything about it.

Grace by Jane Richmond

Best Knitted Accessory: Tanis Fiber Arts Snowfling Mittens knit during the Olympics.  The red cashmere lining with the beautiful black and white snowflake pattern were well worth the time and effort.
Snowfling Mittens by Tanis Lavalee

Best Yarn:  Well this is the trickiest category so I will break it down:

Best Yarn Colour:  The colour in Pigeonroof Silky High Twist Sock in Railroad Stake is incredible to me.  I am hesitant to knit with it because I want to pick a pattern that does this colour justice.


Best Yarn Brand:  Seriously there are so many I could choose.  But I have to say Sweet Fiber Yarns has to be my top choice.  From the consistently beautiful colour to the quality of the yarn I can't get my hands on enough of it. The owner, Melissa Thomson, has announced that she is expanding her business by moving to a much larger workshop.  I also had the pleasure of test knitting some of her patterns this summer and it always impresses me when someone can both dye yarn and design beautiful patterns.  I am excited to see what she comes up with next.

Sweet Fiber Cashmerino Luxe and Coastal yarn

Yarn That Surprised Me:  I knit the Colour Play Mohair Scarf in Rowan Kidsilk Haze, a 70% Mohair 30% silk blend.  I had never knit with mohair before and I was worried that the yarn would be itchy to wear.  It did not itch me at all and turned out to be a warm, light scarf that is a pleasure to wear and looks great.
Colour Play Mohair Scarf

Best Lookbook:  Can there be any contest?  Brooklyn Tweeds Lookbooks created by Jared Flood are highly anticipated by all knitters.  The photography paired with the beauty of the patterns and yarn are hugely impressive.

Best Knitting Book:  Although I have bought a few books this year I only wrote about this one on my blog as it really stood out for me.  The 150 patterns are cleverly written top down, bottom up, back and forth, and in the round.

All-Around Stitch Dictionary by Wendy Bernard

Best Knitting Blog:  There are so many beautiful blogs that I like to follow it was very difficult to choose. It really amazes me how much talent is out there.

Best Yarn Store Blog:  Purlbee  This is one gorgeous blog.  Each week a new project is shared and most patterns are free. The photography of the yarn and the finished products are stunning.
Best Canadian Blog:  This is a tie between Tanis Fiber Arts and Julie Crawford's Knitted Bliss.  I have been a longtime fans of both.  Both of these women are innovative, highly skilled crafters and have a fantastic eye for colour. The fact that they accomplish everything they do in addition to having young children is impressive to me.  I look forward to their postings every week.

Well there you have it.  The knitting world is growing by leaps and bounds and it's such a great time to be a knitter.  What are some of your favourites?

I wish everyone a Happy New Year and lots of crafting time in 2015.  I hope you come to visit my blog in the New Year.  I always look forward to your comments.

All the best!


December 14, 2014

Christmas Knitting: Borough Market Mitts & Vector

Christmas is fast approaching and, like many other knitters, I am trying to fit in knitting a few gifts.  I have lots of projects that I would like to complete but there are so many other interruptions. However, I have been able to finish a couple projects this week. This first project, Borough Market Mitts, by Alex Tinsley was highly satisfying because it was knit in two nights and used Tanis Fiber Arts Green Label in Royal Flush, Charcoal and Natural, yarn that was in my stash already.  This aran yarn knit up to be a cozy warm pair of mitts.  I like how the top cuff of the mitts can be folded up or down depending on your needs.

Borough Market Mitts

 The next gift I have been able to finish is a pattern my friend requested called Vector by Tanis Lavalee (of Tanis Fiber Arts).  This pattern appeared in the infamous Brooklyn Tweed's Wool People Vol. 7 in both a wrap and a scarf version.  I chose to knit the scarf using this beautiful yarn by Black Trillium Fibre Studio.  The gradient colours are absolutely beautiful in person.  You may recall that I knit Algiers in the colourway called Grasshopper earlier this year, one of my all time favourite patterns.  The only modification I made was knitting each colour only once in the scarf.

Black Trillium Fibre Studio Pebble Sock

The result was a garter stitched scarf that shows of the gradient yarn beautifully. 

I used pretty much all the yarn and the result was a long scarf that you can wrap around your neck a couple times.  Hopefully my friend will be happy with it.

And on a funny note, I guess my grade six students realize how passionate I am about knitting.  Here is a part of a poster one of my students made, with me in the sled.  It really made me laugh.

I hope your preparations are going smoothly and you are finding time to enjoy yourself (including some knitting time)!

November 23, 2014

Tanis Fiber Arts: Year in Colour Club

I have been a member of Tanis Fiber Arts Year in Colour Club for the last two years and I have found it really fun.  As part of your membership, six times a year, a lovely skein of yarn in a new colourway arrives in the mail followed by an emailed pattern.  The yarns are of various weights and the colour is a surprise. If you have never tried one of Tanis' yarns I highly recommend it. This Canadian dyer has an exceptional eye for colour and her yarn is of high quality.  Club patterns have consisted of cowls, scarves, mitts, shawls etc.  This year we even received a pattern for a lace tank which I have not had a chance to knit yet.  Another Club membership option is to sign up for the patterns only if you don't want to invest in the yarn. 

Here is what I knit from November's installment, the Tantramar Toque.

Tanis Fiber Arts Green Label
Colourways:  Cloudless and Concord

 This was a really fun, quick knit.  I would like to knit this hat pattern in some different colour combinations.  It would be a great Christmas present.
The Club is an easy way for you to try the different yarns available through Tanis Fiber Arts.  Another perk of joining the Club is if a certain month's yarn catches your interest you can order more of that yarn from Tanis.  Check out the information at Tanis' website here.  Will you join me?

November 16, 2014

Sally Melville: Knitting Pattern Essentials

As I have gained experience knitting, certain patterns such as hats, mittens and scarves, have been much easier to do.  However, knitting cardigans and sweaters that fit properly have been a challenge for me.  On my quest to improve my knitting skills I recently had the pleasure of spending a day in class at Shalll We Knit in Waterloo, listening to the infamous Sally Melville, author of Knitting Pattern Essentials.  

Sally Melville believes strongly that we should knit what we actually wear...that we should be looking in our cupboard and picking knitting patterns that are similar to clothes we own.  Instead we often pick patterns that we want to knit rather than wear.  She stated that the number one mistake knitters make is following the pattern...instead of changing it up to suit our body types.  Sally is a big proponent of knitting flat (knitting in pieces), since she believes that seams are the essential skeleton, holding the shape of the garment.  When participants complained about having to seam, Sally stated that if you have trouble seaming a cardigan it's because the pattern has not been written properly. 

If you are unable to hear Sally Melville speak in person I highly recommend her book Knitting Pattern Essentials.  Everything she talked about in the class is thoroughly covered in the book. If you are a newer knitter this book explains how to look at a pattern and adjust it to fit you properly.  For more advanced knitters the books covers how to draft and knit your own sweater design.

One of my knitted cardigans that I feel fits me properly is Jane Richmond's Grace that I showed you in my last blog. This cardigan was knit top down before I attended the workshop.  Besides doing a gauge swatch for this cardigan and adjusting the size of the armhole I knit the pattern as written.  I guess I was lucky that it fits me so well. Another tip Sally gave us was to use sweaters/cardigans that we feel fit us well and use their measurements to help guide us when picking new patterns and adjusting the size.  I can definitely use this cardigan to help me with that.

But I have made other top down cardigans which don't fit me as well, one being my Calligraphy Cardigan by Alana Dakos.  In this case I feel I am always fighting to keep the sweater from sliding off my shoulders.  I think it would stay on much better with seams.
Calligraphy Cardigan

I am still undecided as to what style of knitting cardigans I prefer.  I am exploring many different methods.  All I know is that I am tired of knitting a cardigan that doesn't fit me properly.  This workshop really made me think about patterns in a more informed way.  I also like the challenge Sally gave us of finding a bought sweater that we like and using the information given in her book to try and replicate it.  Maybe that's my challenge for 2015.

October 25, 2014

Grace by Jane Richmond

I love this pattern.
Grace by Jane Richmond

I love this yarn.
Sweet Fiber Cashmerino Luxe in Marshland
I love these buttons.
Buttons from Liberty in London

I love the fit.
Enough said :)