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.

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Black Trillium Fibre Studio Pebble Sock



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


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 :)







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