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, 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 :)

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.

September 14, 2014

Hitofude + Madelinetosh Merino Light

There are so many fingering weight yarns to choose from in the yarn world these days. If you looked at my stash you would see that this weight of yarn is one that I have the most of.  You can knit anything in this weight from socks, to shawls, to cardigans. And the colourways available are spectacular.  For example look at this beauty that I just received in the mail:
Pigeonroof Silky High Twist Sock in Railroad Stake
I have it sitting on my desk and it makes me happy everytime I look at it.

But, one of my favourite reliable fingering weight yarns, that I go back to again and again, is Madelinetosh Merino Light, a single ply yarn.  Not only does Madelinetosh produce some amazing colourways but the way the yarn reacts to blocking is so impressive.  It truly is magic.

Take a look at my latest knitted cardigan (Ravelry notes here) that I just recently finished:  Hitofude. I am always attracted to patterns that will teach me something new and help me improve my knitting skills.  I had read a lot about this pattern and it's unique design.  Many people used Madelinetosh Merino Light.  I am always happy when I can stashbust and I happen to have had a number of skeins in a colourway named Teddybear, which is now discontinued, sitting in my stash. This pattern was so cleverly unique in its construction.  First I knitted a large rectangle:

Then I folded it and seamed the sleeves

Then I worked on the body.

Unblocked Hifotude

And then I blocked it and the finished cardigan looked like this:

The blocking just opens the lace up beautifully.

The whole time I was knitting Hitofude I was worried that it looked too small but this yarn blocked to the perfect size.  I could have made the sweater even bigger if I wanted to reblock it more aggressively but I was satisfied with the result.  This is a very verstaile cardigan that can be worn with a dress or skirt, but also more casually, with pants.  So if you are ready for a little challenge and can follow some basic lace directions I think this cardigan is one to try.  You won't be bored and you will end up with something very wearable.  And if you have never tried Madelinetosh Merino Light you really should. (That's my tip of the day!)

Now what shall I do with my Pigeonroof High Twist Sock?