June 26, 2016

The Elder Tree Shawl & Cinecittà

Every now and then I get a skein of yarn that feels more special than the rest. Then, I challenge myself to pick the perfect pattern to showcase that yarn.  The skein I am referring to today is a skein of yarn produced by the one and only Clara Parkes. (Remember the first skein I ever knit of hers?)  It is called CVM/Romeldale 2.0, a two-ply fingering weight yarn in the colourway Aborio.  It hardly weighs anything, but it will be quite warm because it's so wooly.  I only have one skein of this lovely yarn measuring 370m.  


Clara Yarn:  CVM/Romeldale 2.0

After much searching the pattern I ended up finally choosing was The Elder Tree Shawl by Sylvia Bo Bilvia (also known as softsweater), a Canadian from Vancouver.  This designer is quite hot right now on Ravelry.  She is the designer behind such beautiful patterns as Waiting for Rain, The Lonely Tree Shawl and her newest pattern The Rain Outside, just to name a few.  The Elder Tree Shawl is a simple lace pattern, which is easy to follow and I am very happy with the result so far.  Hopefully, with blocking one skein will be enough to make a small sized shawl.  Oh, how I wish I bought two skeins because this pattern is written so that you can keep knitting for as long as you have yarn.  It would have been great to knit this to be a bigger shawl.  This yarn is so different than anything I have ever had the opportunity to knit with.  It is a woolen spun yarn and according to Clara Parkes CVM is the most critically rare sheep breed in the United States.  Here is what I have knit so far:


The Elder Tree Shawl by Sylvia Bo Bilvia
If you are interested in being alerted whenever Clara Parkes comes out with a new yarn you can sign up for  her newsletter.  But you have to be fast...it sells out very quickly.


As for finished objects I participated in the Very Shannon Tops, Tanks and Tees Knit a Long  through April and May and ended up knitting a La Maison Rililie pattern called Cinecittà.  It is knit top down, and right from the start you work the lace pattern that will be on the sleeve.  Although the pattern is well written my mind was not as focused as I should have been when starting this pattern and I ended up ripping out the beginning a few times.  Once I was focused though, I knit it in eleven days which I think is a record for me. 





 I knit the first sleeve as directed in the pattern which in place of the ribbing on the sleeves had a lovely cable sweater.  I knit the first sleeve as directed, but once trying it on decided to rip out the cables and reknit it as plain ribbing.  I was much happier with the result. 

First attempt


Second Attempt with ribbing

 The yarn I used was the luxurious Madelinetosh Pashmina in the Baroque Violet colourway.  It was deep in my stash and it feels very good to finally use it.

Madelinetosh Pashmina:  Baroque Violet

Now I am looking forward to picking a few patterns to knit this summer.  I am on vacation in a week and I have so many patterns in my queue that I want to knit next.  I am so excited...stay tuned to my Instagram account as I will try and post some of my trip photos and knitting progress.  Happy summer everyone!  I hope you are all taking some time for yourself.

June 19, 2016

Spectrum: Joji Locatelli

I am funny about spending money.  I don't hesitate to buy a skein of yarn that catches my eye, but I have had the same raincoat for over 20 years. I never liked wearing it.  It is a well built raincoat, timeless in its design and did an excellent job of keeping the rain off.  But the colour was not one I enjoyed wearing. Everytime I put it on, I groaned inwardly. But the practical side of me just couldn't see spending money on a new one.  

Well I am glad to say I finally bought myself a new raincoat that I love.  Once I bought it I knew, as any knitter would, that I just had to knit an accessory to go with it.  I chose Joji Locatelli's Spectrum, a two coloured garter stitch scarf that was perfect for my raincoat.  It is knit in Indigodragonfly Merino Nylon Sock in a beautiful navy called Tardis, combined with Malabrigo Yarn Sock in Light of Love I happily knit away and tah-dah here is the finished product:

In progress






Once I got the shawl off my needles I was worried about the size of it.  The pattern states that the finished shawl should by 72 x 23".  I expected mine to be smaller, as I had chosen to go down a needle size.   I used 3.75mm instead of the 4mm suggested.  I was worried when prior to blocking it only measured 44 x 17"...but thankfully it grew to 60 x 20".   I didn't expect it to grow quite as much as it did as I was not aggressive at all when pinning it out. But the size is perfect and the beauty of the shape of this shawl is that you can wear it several ways.






Now I had visions of modelling it for you in the rain, with an umbrella over my head but I don't know about where you live but we have had very little rain lately and there is none in the forecast.  So here it is pictured on a beautiful sunny day.  Bring on the rain!

May 15, 2016

Fun Colours on a Gloomy Day

It is a cool, rainy, spring day here and I don't know about you, but I am craving a bit of colour.  I checked out my Photo Library and Instagram account and came up with some of these photos to share with you.  Just looking at them has the immediate effect of cheering me up.

Socks

Julie Asselin Piccolo in Plume
Business Casual Socks pattern by Tanis Lavalee


Scrumptiouspurl Stripe Me Up Yarn "Bird of a Feather" colourway
My First Top Up Socks by Susan B. Anderson (Craftsy class) using an Afterthought Heel

Knits in Progress (sort of)
Vitsippa by Joji Locatelli (awaiting frogging as it is sadly too small) in Tanis Fiber Arts Red Label in colourway "Papaya"

Yarn

Hedgehog Fibres Sock Yarn in "Jelly" colourway

Malabrigo Sock Yarn in "Light of Love" colourway

Sunrise
On my way to work
Notions
Stitch Markers
My future (I wish) Fringe Supply Bag at Purl Soho

And finally check out this car that I saw when on a trip to San Diego a few years ago.
San Diego
  Love the colour!
Have a lovely week with lots of colour!!

May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day and Suggestions on How To Spend a Day of Leisure

Happy Mother's Day!


Hopefully you will find time to relax this weekend whether you are a mother or not.  May I humbly offer a few suggestions to help fill your day?

While sipping on your morning coffee/tea, how about reading a few blogs?

Inspiring Blogs
The Fringe Association
Knitted Bliss
The Gift of Knitting
Purl Soho
The Blue Brick
Blueberry Hill Crafting

Pick up a knitting/crocheting project and watch some vlogs to keep you entertained:

Favourite Vlogs
Along the Lanes
Legacy Knitz
Casey Neistat
Fun for Louis

Of course checking out the newest patterns on Ravelry is a must.  Brooklyn Tweed is coming out with a new pattern collection May 11th, which I am sure many of you are looking forward to checking out.

Craftsy Tutorials
How about picking a Craftsy Class and learn something new?  There are so many classes to choose from in a variety of the arts.  Recently I bought My First Toe Up Socks by Susan B. Anderson.  I have been working on a pair of striped socks using Scrumptiouspurl Stripe Me Up yarn that I purchased at the Knitter Frolic's show in Toronto last weekend from Shall We Knit, a yarn store located in Waterloo.
Scrumptiouspurl Yarn

This class was the perfect cure to a hectic week.  I followed along listening to Susan's calming and encouraging voice and before I knew it I had knit my first pair of striped toe up socks.  It was the perfect balance to my crazy week. This is the fifth pair of socks I have ever knit but my first pair of toe up socks, using the afterthought heel and Russian bind off.  I am so pleased with my socks because Susan's instructions on gauge and fit are extremely helpful and have led to the first pair I have knit that truly fit.  

Essential Techniques Every Knitter Should Know  by Sally Melville is another Craftsy video that I recommend to all my knitting friends. I love this kind of platform for learning.  You can return to your video time and time again and even ask questions if you get stuck. Let's face it some of the videos on Youtube teaching knitting are not the best.  Craftsy gives you a chance to learn from an expert instructor who teaches knitting for a living.
Awaiting the afterthought heel

Books & Magazines
There are so many knitting books and magazines available.  Have you had a look at these?
Swoon
Knitlandia
Knit-Wear Magazine



And for a non-knitting favourite, here is a fantastic cookbook that comes highly recommended to me by a friend who is a cooking expert.
The Yellow Table 


I am looking forward to doing a few of these suggestions today while I enjoy some knitting time.  Those socks are awaiting the after thought heels and I will finish them up today.

And lastly, how about checking out some Instagram feeds. (Don't forget about mine:  woolercoaster :) There are so many fantastic ones out there.  Here are a few yarn stores Instagram feeds that I love, some of which I have had the good fortune to visit.

Instagram 
La Bien Aimée-a yarn store in France
Do Ewe Knit-a New Jersey yarn store with the best yarn photos
Fibre Space-a yarn store in Alexandria, Virginia
Loop London-another fabulous yarn store in London

Happy Mother's Day!

Have a wonderful day!

April 24, 2016

F.O. Aibrean

Pattern: Aibrean by Isabell Kraemer



Colour:  Tannenbaum

Yarn: 80/10/10 Madelinetosh Sport, a merino, cashmere, nylon blend
          4.5 skeins alternating 3 skeins throughout body and two skeins on                     sleeves



This was my first time knitting with a sport weight and I have to say that I am really happy with how light it feels on.  It's warm, but not too warm, if you know what I mean.  I sometimes shy away from knitting sweaters in heavier yarn, feeling like I won't get enough use out of it because it can only be worn on the colder days.  But this, to me, is exactly the perfect level of warmth for a sweater and will get a lot of use.


Needles: 4mm Signature Convertible Circular Needles


Added Notes:  
1)The stitch pattern is both on the front and back with the exception of the sleeves.  I was a bit leery of having to work this pattern for so much of the sweater but I was pleasantly surprised with how quick and easy it was.  Another bonus is that the majority of the sweater is worked in the round and alternate rows are just knitted.  Also, it is easy to see where you have made and error and so simple to fix if you do.

2)  Blocking is essential to this pattern.  Before blocking I was nervous as the sweater was quite tight fitting through the body.  But it blocked out beautifully and the width of the body grew by four inches which was perfect for me.

This is my third sweater by Isabell Kraemer (see my Mailin and my Seashore) and I really admire how well written her patterns are.  As I have mentioned before, they are the sweaters that get the most use in my cupboard.

Next up:  I have joined the Very Shannon Tops, Tanks and Tees KAL, I will be knitting CineCittà by La Maison Rililie. 

CineCittà

If anyone else has joined, let me know, and if you have never tried a Knit A Long this is a great one.  It just started so it's not too late to join.  Even if you don't want to join you can follow along on Instagram at #TTTKAL.

Happy knitting everyone : )

April 10, 2016

WIP: Aibrean

Patterns designed by Isabell Kraemer are wonderful to knit. You are guaranteed directions that are easy to follow and an FO that will be comfortable to wear and that will look great.  I was so happy to finally get one of her patterns called Aibrean on my needles as it had been in my queue for some time. I knew that my Madelinetosh 80/10/10 Sport in the colourway Tannenbaum would be a great match for it.
Madelinetosh 80/10/10 Sport

Colourway:  Tannenbaum

What I didn't expect was that after working on the pattern for one week, I would be ripping it out and starting over.  Not because I made any knitting errors.  No, I had no issues following this well written pattern.  As I knit this sweater, mostly in the evenings, I did not notice how different the skeins were from each other.  What I stupidly did was decide not to alternate skeins until I got to the part in the pattern where I put the sleeve stitches on hold.  MISTAKE.  I had reasoned in my head that since I bought all the skeins at the same time that they would be from the same dye lot and would look very similar.  Nope.  Wrong.  What I should have done before I grabbed the first skein was to lay out all the skeins in the daylight, side by side, and look to see if they were the same. When I finally had a closer look I noticed that each skein was slightly different. I don't know if you can see where I started alternating in the picture below but the section in the lower part of the sweater is definitely darker.  If I hadn't started over, the sleeves especially would look weird once I start knitting them because no other skein is as light as the first skein I used.

First attempt.  Notice the darker section when I finally started alternating skeins

So I ripped it out and started over.  Seriously I would think by now I would know better and alternate from the beginning.  Another lesson learned.  They say you will keep repeating lessons until you learn them.  I don't know who 'they' are but 'they' are right!

Well here is my progress a couple weeks after I started over.  I am almost at the ribbing section.

Second attempt alternating three skeins



It is very hard for me to capture the exact colours in this yarn.  It is a beautiful combination of a rich forest green, a lighter green and brown.  I will be very interested to see how this sweater blocks out and how much it grows as I have never knit this patterned stitch before.

While I was on my holiday a few weeks ago I managed to finish the beautiful Pebble Beach Shawl by Helen Stewart.  This is the second one I have knitted. The first Pebble Beach Shawl I knit was gifted so I had wanted to make another one for some time.  It is the perfect size and shape to wear around your neck.  This is a very popular pattern with good reason.  There are no charts.  Instead it is written line by line giving you an indication of how far along you are in the pattern.  So, for example, it will tell you when you are 50% along.  This is extremely helpful if you want to use a whole skein of yarn, or if you want to make sure you do not run out.  
Pebble Beach Shawl

Colourway:  Blue Bell

I knit this shawl in Madelinetosh 80/10/10 fingering in the colourway Blue Bell, a lovely soft combination of merino, cashmere and nylon.  This is a great pattern to showcase a special skein of yarn.  The revised pattern also comes in two other larger sizes.

Now off I go to work on Aibrean.  Enjoy what's left of your weekend and don't make the mistake I made..ripping out is not fun.

April 2, 2016

Fibre Space: Alexandria, Virginia

Fibre Space.  I have been a fan of this store's blog for some time, admiring all the yarn lines they carry and knitting ideas shared each week.  Imagine how happy I was when I figured out that Fibre Space, in Alexandria, Virginia was actually a few subway stops away from where I was staying in Washington, D.C. (Get off at the King Street/Old Town station).   Of course my trip would not have been complete without a visit to this store.



Fibre Space was incredible.  I liked everything about it.  In addition to all the varied yarn lines it is roomy enough to hold classes/knit nights.  It is so well stocked with knitting needles, yarns, fiber, patterns, and yarn bags.  Just about everything you can imagine.   The staff were sweet and so helpful.  But seriously, the yarn...


Highland Handmade Sugar Maple Sock
Jill Draper Makes Stuff
Everywhere I looked were more special skeins.
Shepherd's Wool

The Fibre Company Terra

Woolfolk



Hazel Kits, Crave Yarn & Hedgehog Fibres
Neighborhood Fiber Co. Studio DK

Crave Yarn


Sweet Georgia


And then there was the most beautiful table of Hedgehog Fibres Merino DK





There were so many gorgeous knitted samples too.  Seriously, it was knitting heaven.

Knock Out Round Shawl (free pattern on their website):  Neighbourhood Fiber Co. Studio





















Bonnie Banks Shawl in Dovestone DK


Braidsmaid (by Martina Behm) in Sweet Fiber Yarns DK
I was completely mesmerized by this store.  I just kept walking around the store looking at all the incredible yarn.  How I wish this yarn store was near my house. If it was I would just hang out there all the time.  I would volunteer to work there for free!  The really great thing was that Looped Yarn Works which I visited in Washington D.C. earlier in the week had a different variety of beautiful yarn....so between the two stores the choices are unbelieveable.

And right around the corner from this store was an antique store with the most incredible selection of vintage buttons (so many tubs of them). The owner told me that he gets so many knitters coming in.  It is definitely worth a visit too.


It was so hard to choose what to buy.  Here a few skeins I picked:
Crave Yarn Summit Fingering, Hazel Kits Entice Fingering & Hedgehog Fibres Sock Yarn

I loved every moment of my time in this store.  If you ever have the chance to Fibre Space I strongly urge you to go!  Can I come with you? ;o)