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 :)

October 22, 2014

Sweet Fiber Accessories e-book

I had so much fun test knitting some patterns for Melissa Thomson's e-book just released last week called Sweet Fiber Accessories.  The patterns are gorgeous as is the photography for this e-book.   I am also a huge fan of her beautifully dyed yarn.  Although I would have loved to knit these pieces in Sweet Fiber Yarn I decided to do some stashbusting with yarn I had on hand.

First up was Dockside, a hat with some cabling and double seed stitch making a very warm slouchy hat.  My daughter loved it.  I knit this in some Madelinetosh 80/10/10 MCN, a merino, cashmere, nylon blend, a favourite of mine.

Dockside in Madelinetosh 80/10/10 in Sand Dune

The second pattern was a pattern called York a lovely cabled hat that I knit with some Malabrigo Merino Worsted, a 100% merino yarn.  This was the first time I knit with this yarn and I have to say I was impressed.  This is a beautiful yarn, incredibly soft and warm and available in so many beautiful colours. I will definitely be knitting with it again in the future.  I really think it is the perfect hat yarn.  

York in Malabrigo Worsted in Jade

The third pattern I knit was the Bedford Cowl, a beautiful cabled cowl using 600 yards (550 m) of yarn which created a substantial cowl for those very cold days. For this project I used Manos del Uruguay Maxima, a 100% Merino yarn in a beautiful shade of turquoise.  This was also the first time I have used this yarn and I have to say I was disappointed.  As I knit my hands were constantly turning blue and when I went to block it the dye that came out in the water was incredible.  The final colour once the cowl was dry was considerably less vibrant.

Bedford Cowl in Manos del Uruguay Maxima

Besides the shawl, Endsleigh, which I featured in my last blog, there are also two more hats and another cowl.  If you are looking for a fun project for the upcoming winter months you should really check out this e-book.

October 14, 2014

Sweet Fiber Accessories: Endsleigh

Over the summer I had the delightful opportunity to test knit a few patterns from a collection called Sweet Fiber Accessories, which was released today by Melissa Thomson, owner of Sweet Fiber Yarns in Vancouver.  This collection consists of a beautiful shawl named Endsleigh, four hats and two cowls.  

The first pattern I knit from this collection was Endsleigh.  Although the pattern called for Sweet Fiber Yarn Merino Twist Worsted I used Coastal, a DK weight yarn, in Vintage Lace, using up about 2.5 skeins. The yarn blocked out beautifully creating a perfectly sized shawl.

Sweet Fiber Coastal

The pattern was well written and easy to follow. Any errors I made were easy to fix, making this a perfect pattern for those that are learning how to knit lace. This 50% merino and 50% silk combination feels heavenly and I will definitely be getting a lot of wear out of this beautiful shawl.

The perfect sized shawl

The colours in Sweet Fiber Yarn are so stunning.  Check out Melissa Thomson's online shop .  I may just be headed over there now ;o)

Stay tuned for my next blog entry about the other patterns I knit from this beautiful collection.

October 5, 2014

Part Three Scotland: Stirling Castle

I just realized that I never published the last of my Scotland photos.  As I have mentioned before Scotland had the most stunning views and I loved every moment of the trip...even the weather!  Near the end of our Scotland tour we visited Stirling Castle.  What a beautiful building as you can see from these photos.  The view from the castle was stunning and I really loved learning about the history of this castle.  If you ever go to Scotland this castle is definitely worth the visit.

A lovely house we saw on the way back to our hotel

September 29, 2014

In My Queue: Knitting Goals

New patterns are popping up on Ravelry everyday lately.  It's crazy!  There are so many beautiful patterns that I have added to my queue recently.  The choice is a bit overwhelming to be honest.  Apparently cabled sweaters are really in this fall my sources tell me.  A few of the patterns mentioned below include some cables.

Here's my list in no particular order:

1.  Endearment by Hanna Maciejewska, a beautiful cardigan with a cable and lace pattern in the front knit in fingering weight yarn.  I have wanted to try a pattern by this designer for some time.  I think some of my Sweet Fiber Yarn Super Sweet Sock in Sapphire would work well.

Sweet Fiber Super Sweet Sock in Sapphire

2. Capall Dubh by Carol Feller knit in a sportweight yarn.  This lovely cardigan has a lace shoulder and back.  I have been working on improving my lace knitting skills and I want to challenge myself in this area. This looks like the perfect pattern to do just that.  The designer is hosting a KAL (knit-along) starting in November and I find them very helpful and motivating. For this pattern I have some Madelinetosh Pashmina which Carol Feller has said would be a good substitute for the suggested yarn.  I am going to knit up a gauge swatch to see if it will work.

Madelinetosh Pashmina:  Baroque Violet

3.  Japan Sleeves by Joji Locatelli is a fingering weight striped sweater with a lace panel going up the sleeves.  I have some leftover Tosh Merino Light in Teddy Bear and I am thinking of pairing it up with Tosh Merino Light in Robin's Egg.

4.  Vector,  found in Wool People 7, by Tanis Lavalee.  This scarf pattern looks like a great project to do on the side, when I need a break from all that sweater knitting.  It is knit mainly in garter stitch using a finger weight yarn.  I have bought another Pebble Sock  Black Trillium Gradient Kit in shades of grey.  I think it will make a lovely scarf for a friend of mine.
Black Trillium Gradient Kit in Pebble Sock:   Crater

5. One last sweater that I think is stunning is Caroline by Amy Miller.  Guess what?  It's in fingering weight yarn again.  I must be a sucker for punishment.  I love the lines of this sweater and the cabling up the sides.  It is simply beautiful. I also like that it is a seamed sweater because I think seamed sweaters hold up the best.

Of course there are lots of beautiful shawls and cowls that I would love to do as well.  Too bad I work for a living!

As you can see I have hours of knitting ahead in the above mentioned patterns. It will really help me fly through the winter.  If only these patterns were knit in a sensible weight like DK or aran, not in fingering weight yarn!  Slow knitters like me would be crazy to attempt the above.

Call me crazy!

What's on your list?

September 21, 2014

Autumn Knitting: Julie Asselin

I love this time of year.  The air is getting crisper and suddenly everyone is need of a knitted item to stay warm.  Yarn shops are full of yarn just waiting to be bought to help knitters survive the fall and winter ahead.  And as for the patterns....everyday new patterns pop up on Ravelry...there are so many that I am adding to my knitting queue daily. 

In the spirit of autumn, I had to do my knitterly part, and so this weekend I visited a yarn shop called Lettuce Knit located in Kensington Market in Toronto. 

Fun spider web outside Lettuce Knit

 If you are a tourist travelling in Toronto and want to get your hands on yarn by Canadian dyers this is the place to go.  This yarn store really focuses on promoting Canadian yarn and carries such brands as Ancient Art Yarns, Biscotte and Cie, Yarns of Rhichard Davrieze, Handmaiden, Indigo Moon, NBK and my current favourite, Julie Asselin, to name a few.  Have a look at Julie Asselin's Colorways page to get a sense of her extraordinary sense of colour. Lately patterns using her yarn are popping up on Ravelry.  One of my favourites is the Campside shawl by Alicia Plummer, a free pattern using three skeins of Julie Asselin Leizu DK, a 90% merino and 10% silk blend.  Another popular pattern using this yarn is a gorgeous sweater called Poivre & Sel.  Also a new pattern that can be downloaded for free (for a short time only) is First Crush, a cabled cowl by Kalurah also knit in Leizu DK.   The very popular shawl pattern, Spinel, by Paulina Popoliek has the most gorgeous lace panel knit in a fingering weight yarn called Fino (75% merino, 15% cashmere, 10%silk).

As you can imagine I had a hard time deciding, as seeing the colours in person made it even more difficult.  Here's what I purchased: 

Merlotto (lace weight) in Coraline

Nanos (fingering) in Blood Orange

Piccolo (fingering) in Plume

The colours are so vibrant

Lettuce Knit has samples of all the yarn colours Julie Asselin creates and will order any colour you require.  The yarn, at this time, is not available online from Julie Asselin's website but can only be purchased through stores that carry the line (there are a few online stores as well).

If you are in the market for some yarn to carry you through the months ahead and are in the Toronto area, or just passing through, go to Lettuce Knit.  You won't be disappointed.