December 5, 2016

Christmas and Holiday Fun

As the countdown to Christmas continues there are so many opportunities to join in the Christmas and holiday fun.

Here's a round-up of just a few seasonal ideas that caught my attention.

1.  First up there is Vlogmas.  Many crafty YouTubers are spreading Christmas cheer by podcasting everyday until December 25th.  One of my favourites is Kristen from the YarnGasm podcast who is a very successful hand dyer (Voolenvine Yarns) and knitter, to name just a few of her talents.  She always has fun and creative content in her videos.  Another favourite of mine is Molly of A Homespun House.  She lives in Berlin and is also a hand dyer and crafter.  I also have been watching Eric from the Sticks and Twine podcast. He lives in Toronto and is one of the authors of the new Rib Magazine that is coming out soon.  He is quite a character.

Voolenvine Yarn Wolke Base in "Deck the Halls"
Pattern:  Vanilla Latte Socks

2. Have you heard about this one?  The infamous Kate Davies has started the Islay Club, which starts on December 14th, so you still have plenty of time to join. Club members will receive a Kate Davies pattern each week for twelve weeks.  Once all the patterns have been delivered to your Inbox her new Inspired by Islay book will be mailed out to members.

3.  Another fun one is a KAL (knit-a-long) with designer Laura Aylor called Just for You 3.  Starting on December 13, KAL members will receive small bits of a new pattern to knit for twelve days, using DK yarn.  If you are too busy at this time of year to join in the fun, don't worry!  There will be another KAL starting on Christmas Day for the same pattern, with a new chat thread on Ravelry.  If you have bought a previous pattern from Laura Aylor, then this pattern is free. If not Laura will donate the $2 fee to a charity. So you can't lose!

4.  Here's an original idea for this time of year.  On Facebook Tin Can Knits is hosting a Hackathon.  Select a Tin Can Knits pattern (some are free) to knit and then your are encouraged to add your own inspiration and create something unique.  Post the result for all to see.  It just started so there is plenty of time to join in.  To top it off they are offering a new pattern called The World's Simplest Mittens which would be a perfect pattern to add your own twist to.  The Hackathon goes until January 17th.

I love Tin Can Knits patterns. I just finished a pair of mitts called Paddle.  Many of their patterns come in many sizes and ranges from mitts, hats, sweaters, shawls...something for everyone. Paddle is a very simple pattern knit in DK yarn, perfect for a last minute gift, and it comes in a variety of sizes.

Pattern:  Paddle (Size medium)
Designer:  Tin Can Knits
Black Yarn:  Madelinetosh Tosh Merino DK
Colourway:  Thunderstorm
Blue Yarn:  Tanis Fiber Arts Green Label
Colourway:  Midnight
Needles:  3.25 mm and 3.75mm

Paddle Mitts by Tin Can Knits

5.  And finally, here's a reason to take a breather and put up your feet and relax, if only for a few minutes. For all you tea lovers,  David's Tea has a wonderful kit called the 24 Days of Tea.  Each day there is a new flavour of tea to try.  If you don't have time to get it, here's another one that you don't open until December 25th.  It looks fun too.

A perfect end to a day

Each drawer has a different flavour of tea

Well that's my list to get you started.  Don't you just love the knitting community?  There are so many generous, kind-hearted, and creative people out there with a passion for yarn.  Have you heard of any Christmas/holiday fun?  Let me know below so I can check it out.  Thanks for stopping by...I appreciate it.

November 27, 2016

Christmas Market and Spree Socks

One of my dreams is to visit the Christmas Markets held in Germany each year. However, with the job I have I am never able to travel in early December.  The closest I can get is the Toronto Christmas Market held annually in the Distillery District.  It is one of the Christmas activities that my family enjoys doing together each year.   I think the best time is to go in the evening to see all the amazing lights.  This year the event seemed better than ever.

every Christmas market needs a fabulous tree

an orange snowman!

a lovely outdoor bar

a forest of pink Christmas trees

And as for knitting this week I needed a diversion.  I ended up digging into my stash and whipping up this crazy pair of socks.  This is a great free pattern for using up the variegated DK or worsted weight yarn in your stash.  It would be a perfect gift since it is a fast knit and creates such a cozy sock to wear on those cold days.

Pattern:  Spree Socks 
Designer:  Kemper Way
Needles:  3.25mm and 3.5mm
Yarn:  Madelinetosh DK Twist
Colourway:  Electric Rainbow
Notes:  Instead of the 18 rows suggested I knit 25 rows for a bit of a longer sock.

I hope you all had a great week and had time to do something fun for yourself. Cheers!

November 20, 2016

November Inspiration and an F.O.

November can be a challenging month to enjoy.  Once the beautiful leaves blow off the trees, the damp cold settles in, and the longer hours of darkness increase, I often find myself looking for inspiration.  One rainy afternoon I decided to look through some of my photos I took recently and they cheered me up.  I hope you don't mind if I share just a few of my favourite ones with you today:

Peace Fleece:  Marigold
Fibre Optic Yarns Paintbox Gradient
Julie Asselin Piccolo:  Arlequin & Voolenvine Wolke:  Faerie Hair

Hedgehog Fibres Skinny Singles:  Bramble

Of course November is the perfect month for knitting too.  Here is a pair of mittens just off the needles ready to be wrapped up for Christmas.  These mittens, knit in a bulky weight yarn, and knit up very quickly.

Pattern:  Antler Mittens
Designer:  tincanknits
Yarn:  Madelinetosh Chunky in Smokestack
Size:  Adult M
Notes:  This is my first time using Madelinetosh's Chunky yarn and I have to say I quite like it.  The knitted mittens are quiet warm and the variegation in the colourway is beautiful.
Antler Mittens by tincanknits

Now I am debating how much Christmas gift knitting I should do.  I have several bigger projects on the needles that are not intended for gifts.  Do I leave them aside for now and jump into more Christmas knitting?  That is the question of the day : )

October 30, 2016

F.O. Georgetown Cardigan and Some W.I.P.

Pattern:  Georgetown from Home and Away
Shawl:  Line Break
Designer:  Hannah Fettig 

Yarn:  West Yorkshire Spinners 100% Bluefaced Leicester DK 6.5 skeins

Colour:  Natural Brown
Needles:  4.5mm and 3.75mm for ribbing
1)  I really wanted a cardigan that I could snuggle into during the cold winter months.  The long range forecast in Ontario is for a very cold winter. Whatever happens I will be ready with this cozy cardigan.  I started this cardigan at the end of February and then put it away and didn't touch it until a few weeks ago. Then on my long trek to Rhinebeck I got a big chunk of it done.
2)  Hannah Fettig's pattern gives the knitter two options:  either seamed or non-seamed.  I decided to go with knitting the pieces flat and then seaming them together.  I find seamed cardigans are much more structured and the small pieces are manageable to cart around and work on.  Sometime ago I knit Hannah's Calligraphy cardigan, seamless from the top down, and I find that it continually falls off my shoulders.  I don't know if that has to do with the lack of seaming, but I am sure that it has some connection.  I also wanted to work on my seaming skills, and with this kind of yarn, it was great for hiding any mistakes.

3) I bought this yarn a few years ago on a wonderful trip to Scotland that I took with my family.  Isn't it fun to knit with yarn that you associate with good memories?  The yarn smells so sheepy too, which I love and has a lovely halo. It blocked beautifully and resulted in a very warm DK weight sweater.  It would be perfect for hats or mitts too.  Here's a child's hat I knit with this same yarn:

Gray Rose:  by Thea Colman

4)  The pattern is well written and easy to follow.  To be honest it was a bit boring, knitting all the rows of stockinette, and then 8.5 inches of ribbing for the collar.  However, I knew that it would be totally worth it, as it is one of those wardrobe staples that will get a lot of wear.

On the Needles:

Now that my cardigan is finished I have a number of items that I need to turn back and focus on. 

Antler Mittens by Tin Can Knits knit in Madelinetosh Chunky in the colourway Smokestack.  
I love the way the cables are popping on these mitts that I am knitting for a Christmas gift.  As suggested by Espace Tricot's blog I am going to knit a liner for them.  Anyone that lives in a city that has temperatures that drop down to -30 degrees Celsius knows that liners are essential to keeping warm.

Lanterns by Sylvia McFadden knit in the luxurious Sweet Fiber Yarns Cashmere DK.  As this pattern is written for a fingering weight yarn I have to adjust the pattern and figure out which needle size to go with. I started using a 4mm but I stopped because I wonder if I should be using a 3.75mm.  I have to play around with it for a bit, but I am anxious to get this gorgeous pattern done.

I hope you are all finding time to knit too!  Have a great week everyone and thanks for stopping by.

October 23, 2016

Rhinebeck Weekend: Part Two

I had such fun last weekend when I went for the first time to Rhinebeck, to attend the New York Sheep & Wool Festival.  The event lived up to to it's reputation.  The crowds were huge, the food lines were ridiculous and the variety of yarn for sale was incredible.  I present to you, my dear friends, some photos I managed to take when I wasn't being caught up in the crowd.

Me and my Rhinebeck sweater

Bartlett Yarns:  Sport

Dragonfly Fibers Gradient Set

Dragonfly Fibers Pixie Yarn:  "Vote"colourway
Harrisville Yarn

Bijou Basin Himalayan Trail Yarn
One of my favourite booths was Fiber Optics which had so many knitted samples.  Here are just a few of them:
Holey Chevrons by Stephen West

Party on My Needles by Joji Locatelli
Lamina Wrap by Ambah O'Brien and On the Spice Market by Melanie Berg

Fiber Optics Paintbox Gradient that came home with me

I also really enjoyed the O-Wool booth and was quite taken by some of their samples:
The Girl In Me in O-Wool 

Balconet Shawl in O-Wool

I couldn't resist this gorgeous yarn and ended up buying some.

I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to attend this festival (and a special thank you to my husband for going with me).  If I ever get to go again here are some tips I want to remember:

Things I Learned As A Newbie:
1.  Although the gates on Saturday don't open until 9a.m. a line up does start to form around 8:00 a.m.  I sat in my car keeping warm until about 8:15 a.m. and when I lined up I wasn't too far back in the line.  The bonus with coming early is you can park quite close to the entrance and then go back and forth to drop things off during the day very easily.
2.  There is more than one entrance.  Figure out what vendor is your top priority to visit first and figure out which entrance is the closest to where you want to go.  
3.  Prepay your entrance fee online before you go.  It saves time.
4.  If you want to get close to Miss Babs yarn (in Building C) you MUST GO RIGHT AWAY.  As a rookie I lined up at the wrong entrance, and by the time I got to Building C I couldn't even get near the booth. The line up was already out the door.  I tried several times during the day to get to Miss Babs, but the crowds continued, and the line up to pay stayed ridiculously long.  I didn't really care that much...I was just curious to see what the fuss was all about.  Best to stay two days next time and visit the booth on the Sunday.  (Same applies for Jennie the Potter).
5.  Go to Rhinebeck with a pre-made list of the basic things you want to walk away with.  There are so many temptations everywhere you look and it really helps to keep some focus.  For example, I knew I wanted a sweater's worth of sport weight yarn and I ended up with O-Wash Sport by O-Wool.  I also have a weakness for fingering weight yarn and I had promised myself not to buy any as I have enough to last me a long time.  The only fingering weight yarn I bought was at the Indy Untangled show and it was Voolenvine Yarn.  How could I resist? Enough said.
6.  Time your lunch early.  I lined up at about 10:45 for the infamous Aba's Falafel and the line up was quite short.  Later when I walked by there was at least an hour wait.
7.  Same for the Apple Cider Donuts.  Don't wait until lunch time.  Why waste precious time in a line when you can be looking at gorgeous yarn?
The infamous Apple Cider Donut

8.  Wear your hand made sweater/shawl/socks etc.  It was so fun to admire everyone's beautiful knitted/crocheted items.
9.  Make sure you spend time going into the town of Rhinebeck.  It is so beautiful and the restaurants are amazing.
10.  Take time to visit all the sheep, alpacas, etc. at the show.  There were sheep shearing events and even a dog show.

11.  And one last time go also on the Sunday.  From what I hear it is way less crowded.  There were so many knitted samples in all the booths that I would have liked to look at them more closely and take way more photographs.

I will continue to remember many happy moments that I experienced at Rhinebeck.   It was so much fun.  Do you have any tips to add to my list?