Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Lily Mittens Re-release!

Today I have re-released my Lily Mittens pattern!

Originally published in Knit Now Magazine #45, they're a lovely pair of fancy mittens. You can find more information on my patterns page (there's a tab to reach the patterns page at any time right below the blog header). The mittens are available via Ravelry and LoveKnitting.

To celebrate this re-release, and knitting season generally (sure I knit all year, but there's something special about it in the fall, right?) I have arranged a 25% off sale on Ravelry for my winter accessories patterns, running from October 1st to the end of October 15th (GMT). The included patterns are: Lily Mittens, Floral Heart Mittens, Popinjays, Penguin Mittens, Myshka Tuque, and Irish Cowboy.

Happy Knitting!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

In Which Shiny things are Finished, and New Projects Beckon

On the weekend, I finished up the socks! (Yay!) Between a meeting, a school field trip, and a camping weekend with the extended family, the rest of the sock seemed to take no time at all. (Double yay!)

The new owner seems pleased. I've cast-on her mittens, but they're only on the third row of ribbing, so they are not very exciting just yet.

Another thing I did on the weekend was to practice lucet-braiding to make new bootlaces (the old ones were falling apart, and one was already greatly reduced). I finished one on the drive out, and the other while visiting around the campfire.

I used some Regia Flusi das Sockenmonster in the Susi colourway. I had only bought one ball each of this yarn, and it turns out the kids find it scratchy anyhow, so I enjoyed using the yarn to add a bit of brightness to my boots.

I have a couple of new things to show off in October sometime, and am working on another thing in the meantime, but there is a project I can share that I will be joining-in on. I'm quite excited about my plans to participate in the Knit British swatch-along!

Now, swatches are wonderful things. For knitting, they help you to ensure that you will end up with the size you have planned on making, and, if you're substituting, they can help you sort out if you've picked a compatible yarn. For designing, they are the basis of all your math, give you a space to try a few things out if you're testing an idea, and can help you sort out if you've picked the right sort of yarn for the project type, stitch pattern, general look, structure, etc.

Another use for swatches though is to get to know a fibre better in general. There are so many sheep breeds (and so little time to spin and knit them!), and they are so very different from each other in how they feel and behave. Getting to know different wools allows for a better understanding of just what is available out there.

I will mostly be using this as a spinning exercise on top of a swatching exercise, and will be using both British and locally sourced wools that are from British sheep breeds (including a few breeds that originated elsewhere, but that are now popular in Britain). This is a great chance to use the small bits of sample spinning I have done or have been planning to do, and I'm jumping right in. I'll be blogging my progress on the various swatch projects, and will include notes to explain some of the spinning jargon I've slipped into using of late (with the disclaimer that I'm very much a beginner still and that I have a limited understanding of quite a few areas of spinning as a result).

My current list of fibre to try is: Manx Loughtan, Masham, Wensleydale, Romney, Shetland, Lincoln and Gotland, some Blue-Faced Leicester (already in yarn form, courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners), and with Dorset, Cotswold, and more Wensleydale (I have an idea) on the way via A Curious Spin!

Cast-on for the Swatch-along is October 5th (though I'll be spinning for it in the meantime as well), and if you're interested in joining-in, the Knit British group on Ravelry is a fun and lively place to do so!

Skeins: Top is Blue-Faced Leicester, below is Manx Loughtan. Balls, L-R: Romney singles x2, Shetland in assorted colours x 5, and Wensleydale.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Sixth Sock Syndrome

In May 2014, I started to knit neon socks for my nephew and my two daughters. I finished the first set (nephew) in July of that year, the second pair, for my youngest, in February of this year, and am half-way through the second of my eldest's socks, having turned the heel and picked up the gusset stitches last night.

(I'm apparently enough used to pattern writing at the moment that I have to remind myself not to use pattern abbreviations in my blog; I nearly wrote "pu gusset sts")

Now, being bored of the pattern and not wanting to knit the second sock in a set (or at least, not as much as wanting to knit the first sock in another set) is common enough to be referred to as Second Sock Syndrome, but this is now the sixth sock in the same pattern. I'm wishing now that I hadn't left the largest size for last. At least there is one change, and that's the contrasting colour. We were running out of green, so I suggested a few options, and my daughter went with just switching to pink for the second colour for the second sock.

The colours really are at least as bright as they show up in the photos too!

What I'd really like to get working on is the mittens that my eldest picked out (the pattern that she wants is Tiny Dogs Mittens, which feature Chihuahuas), and as it's getting slightly chilly, I'd best get on with it. However, the needles I need are currently occupied with the sock, so I'm suddenly very interested in finishing this sock by the end of the weekend (work projects allowing).

Spinning-wise, I've finished up the 'Chaos Theory' Polwarth roving from Sea Turtle Design!

I enjoyed trying out chain plying, and managed to only snap my singles once while I was trying to fix a stray loop that got away from me. My yarn came out at approximately sport weight, and there's probably around 240 metres of it. After a bit of browsing, I've queued up the Reeds and Rushes Cowl, as I think it will do nicely for showing off the yarn with a little bit of added texture. No rush to get started though; I'm enjoying having the yarn hanging around the living room where I can admire it in the meantime.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Order from Chaos

I've been trying to get myself to write a post all through August, but just couldn't bring myself to do so. It's not that I'm not enjoying blogging, but rather that I was just way too overtired to even think about trying to sum up, condense, or explain anything.

In short, I needed a vacation, so I took one. I have quite a few blog post plans that have piled up throughout this time, some of which I will get around to, some of which I won't, but in the meantime, on the kids' first day back at school (they had an extra week of summer this year, and believe me, we have all been ready for a return to routine by the start of that week, particularly the kids, who were ready lightning-quick this morning and pulling me out the door on the way to school), I'm just going to try getting back into the swing of things with a quick post about a current project that I love.

I'm really enjoying spinning this Polwarth (seen below on the dash of my mom's car) that I bought from The Loop at Kensington in Calgary. The top is dyed by Sea Turtle Design, a local dyer. I was going to buy one of the more sedate colourways, thinking that I probably wouldn't wear anything made with this one, but hey, it's not all about the wearing, (and if nothing else the kids like bright colours); in fact, it's rather more about the spinning, and why not give it a whirl? The colourway is called “Chaos Theory,” but is perfectly well-planned.

The creamy white sections are doing a great deal to tone-down the brightness, and they are also helping to reduce any muddying of the colours. Sometimes the colours are blending, but mostly, I've got a barber-pole style effect going on.

The general consensus at my Friday knitting group (not that I'm there every Friday, much as I'd like to be) is that chain-plying will be the way to go with this, and I quite agree. The colours gradually transition (on average, because there still are dashes of mixed areas throughout) from green to blue to purple, to red to, well, I'm not quite there yet, but it looks like it finishes up on orange so far, with a bit of blue and/or purple and/or green in-between. Chain-plying would be the best way to keep this effect intact, so I'm going to try to learn it.

So far, I've enjoyed this set of instructions, largely because of how I really, really dislike trying to learn from videos (works great for so many people, but just not my cup of tea). I had read about the technique before in Abby Franquemont's Respect the Spindle, but it's great to have a quick refresher that suits my learning style just a quick link away.

I might spin up a quick sample to practice on, but we'll see if I'm actually that patient. As it is, I need to free up my plying spindle first, and I'm maybe half-way through that batch of plying.

I can't explain just how lovely this fibre feels, but you can see the fine crimp if you hold it up at eye level while drafting, you can feel an elastic spring to it, and it drafts and spins rather effortlessly. Also, I have trouble putting it down because I just want to see what this next bit looks like. And this next bit. Oh look, there's a new colour coming up next....

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Here is the Zephirine Tunic, which I designed for Knit Now's 50th issue!

©Photograph by Dan Walmsley for Practical Publishing, used with permission.

Zephirine, a fun and floaty summer tunic, is knit with Yarn Stories Fine Merino 4ply, which is ridiculously lovely yarn to work with! It has good stitch definition and a lovely hand, and has a nice bounce to it. I like their colours, and would work with it again in a heartbeat; might have to try the alpaca blend next! 
©Photograph by Dan Walmsley for Practical Publishing, used with permission.

I'm quite pleased with how Zephirine turned out, particularly the sleeves, as I had been worried that they would turn out to have not made as much sense in reality as they did in my head. It's always a delight to see something you worked on in sketch, math, and stitch form come all together with the finishing.

There are several lovely tops and sweaters in this issue, and also some great accessories! The previews are starting to turn up on Ravelry, and I think you'll find that in addition to the warm summer's day knits, that quite a few that are just right for a chilly summer evening or for the inevitable transition to fall.

Hard copies of the magazine can be ordered here: http://www.moremags.com/knitting/knit-now
Digital editions are available via this app: http://www.moremags.com/digital-editions

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Getting Around to Things

I've been having a bit of trouble sleeping of late (nothing major, just can't settle, it seems), so I thought, since I was up anyway, perhaps I could make a bit of a push to finish knitting up my Firth Waves Cushion.

I have one repeat to go now, but I'm running low on one colour. There's no problems with the pattern here; it calls for two balls of the yarn for that one, and I only had one in my stash. There's nearly enough, but not quite, so I went to order more, and I'll be waiting now for when it is back in stock. Luckily, there's no rush to finish it up really, so it's just been put aside once again for a little while.

In the meantime, I plied up those singles of my new batt from the Curious Spin Batt Buffet, and I now have something that rather reminds me of marshmallows, both in lovely puffiness and colour.

It's meant to coordinate with the Creamsicle batt that I had previously spun up so that they can play together in an eventual knitting project, and I think it works nicely. I might just go with a third batt to round them out though.

I'm also halfway through spinning up the singles from the BFL that I picked up at Celeigh Wool. The colours remind me of various shades of blue jeans. This is a delightful, relaxed spin with no particular project in mind just yet.

I'd finished spinning my blue silk singles ages ago, but yesterday, I finally decided to get around to winding off some plying balls so I could start plying. Unfortunately, the singles snapped in a couple of places. If it had been wool, I would have spliced it, but as it was, I ended up with four batches of plying balls (two of which were quite, quite small, but the other two of decent size). Also, there's another wee ball of singles that I'm ignoring for now.

I found a silver lining in that though. Since it's my first time working with silk, I wasn't entirely sure just how much twist there should be in the ply. It had been suggested, in some of my reading, that the answer is quite a lot. But, it's hard to remain confident when your plied work twists itself and looks like this after winding it off:

After a bath though, they're well-behaved, so it was nice to be able to test the two smaller lengths before plying the rest.

Today, we're off to pick raspberries, but later, I want to swatch a couple of things. Here's the current plan for the non-work-related one:

Friday, July 17, 2015

This Past Week

This past week I have:

-Cleaned at least part of the house (or at least, tidied it a lot, not that you can tell anymore now that the week has passed by).
-Spun up a 100g Batt and started to ply it.

-Finished up a work sample and sent it in.
-Taken the kids back and forth from their Super Fun Summer Camp that they had a Really Great Time at.
-Set up a spreadsheet for a new thing, and got started on the grading.
-Wove-in the ends for a baby hat that had been otherwise finished for weeks.

-Crocheted bits for a special project related to a play that you should go see at Fringe in Edmonton if you are anywhere near here during Fringe.

-Been given a new-to-me camera by my family as an early birthday present. Loving it, but it will be a lot of reading the manual before I actually have a clue what I'm doing. It's already easy to tell how much better it is than our decade-old camera though!

-Visited with the great ladies at the two knit groups that I occasionally get a chance to attend.
-Went yarn shopping.
-Spent wonderful time with family.
-Planned an embroidery project.
-Not at all gotten around to sewing. Maybe next week?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Luxury of Time

I've been quite quiet because I've been working on a third-party publication deadline at the same time as end-of-school and soccer coaching. Now that all of that is winding down, I have a whole week ahead of me next week where the kids are off to summer camp (which would have been handier this past week while I was busy rather than the upcoming one where I am not), and I now have a whole long list of "things I will do when this project is done", but not sure what to do first.

-Clean the whole house (or at least a reasonable part of it)
-Sew all the things (or at least one of the things I promised my kids a year ago that I would make).
-Spin and ply.
-Figure out which design project I want to develop first out of the several that have been coming to mind while I was too busy to work on them (like that one I shared a swatch for a few months ago but have not done anything else with, and do any of you know what size needle I used? Hope I wrote it down somewhere, or at least left a needle threaded through the project or something).
-Catch up on the knitting Works In Progress hanging about.
-Blog more than once next week to make up for the last several weeks (well, it could happen...)

Good odds that I'll be doing a little bit of everything, but in all honesty, I'll be starting out with hanging about making lists.

Tidying up my knitting nook might just be the first step (the current deadline project is hiding in one of those bags). I know it's not insanely untidy, but there are several strata of project bits to be sorted through in order to remember what those projects actually are!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Olds Fibre Week 2015

Last Saturday, I went to Olds Fibre Week, and am only just now getting to posting about it. It's been a busy month so far, but is winding down towards then end; for instance, tonight's the first non-soccer night in ages!

Olds Fibre Week is an annual event that includes a variety of excellent classes, including but not limited to those for the Master Spinner and Master Weaver programmes. Just think of it as a brilliant Summer Camp for Grownups who are interested in weaving, dyeing, spinning, felting, knitting, crocheting, etc.

I didn't get to take any classes (hoping to do so next year though!), but I did get in a good bit of shopping and visiting at the truly excellent merchant mall. Each year, the merchant mall is attracting more and more high quality vendors, so I highly recommend attending and/or shopping next year! My mom met me there to join in the fun, and we had a lovely time! Definitely the trip called for a Splendid People You Should Know About post.

We had a great time visiting with Kate Bostwick of Cowtown Knits, who had a beautiful booth full of all her gorgeous patterns. We met the Fundy Tides Collection in person, and they are just as cozy as they look in their photos! Kate is @cowtownknits on Twitter.

We stopped in to visit Lindsay of Sewn by Lindsay, who I first met at our knit group in North Edmonton, but who has since moved to Saskatchewan. It was nice to catch up, and also great to check out her wares in person! Lindsay sews some amazing project bags, including this clever spindle wedge bag, which is padded to help protect your spindle. Also, it has foxes with monocles, so I needed one! Lindsay is @Sewnbylindsay on Twitter.

The Grey Shetland on the spindle is from Celeigh Wool from a prior shopping trip; we had a chance to visit with Marg from that shop while we were at Olds as well!

I was in the market for a lucet, as my younger daughter had tried working with a make-shift one at St. Albert Children's Festival at the Viking tent, and she quite enjoyed it. I suspected that Danware might make that sort of thing, and was glad to have that confirmed! Not only does Jan make gorgeous things out of wood, but he makes clever things out of wood, like a yarn-bowl with an attachment that fits it into your car's cup-holder! I picked up one gorgeous lucet, and my daughter and I are both enjoying testing it out. My daughter currently is planning a series of bookmarks, now that she is a budding reader!

Last, but not least, I stopped by A Curious Spin, where it was great visiting with Andrea, who I asked to blend some lovely Corriedale at the Batt Buffet! You may recall the Orange Creamsicle Batt that I had finished spinning up in this post; I now have a Cotton Candy Batt to complement it if I can manage to replicate the gauge near enough. I should have at least enough for a hat, but if it's getting reasonably close to kids' sweater quantity between the two, I may just have to have a third batt blended to go with them and round them out...

This one has only a little hint of sparkle, and is somewhat subtler than the Creamsicle Batt, though I went with slightly less blended for this one because it just seemed right.

This batt is very much my carrot for getting both my current spinning and my current work knitting done; I can't wait!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Woodland Cardigan Re-Release

I'm so pleased to be able to say that the Woodland Cardigan that I had designed for Knit Now Magazine issue #39 is now available for purchase in my Ravelry store! Now, you don't have to be a Ravelry member to shop on Ravelry... just head to my patterns page and click the "buy now" button.

I first announced the Woodland Cardigan in this post, but I'll also remind you here that it's knit in J C Rennie's Supersoft Lambswool 4ply, which can be bought at knitrennie.com. It's lovely stuff, and washes up super-soft, just like the name.

I'm still tickled-pink by the hedgehogs (and bunnies and acorns), and hope you will enjoy them too!