TTC Knitalong 2014

A little late, but I changed jobs last week so I’ve been a bit swamped.

Saturday July 12 was the annual TTC Knitalong. It’s that annual event where Toronto’s knitters (and others! I know people come from far and wide) break off into teams and travel from LYS to LYS via Toronto’s public transit system, the TTC. I was on the best team (sorry, everyone else): Team Lace. We got to visit Passionknit, Creative Yarns, The Purple Purl, and Romni Wools.

Here is a great photo of us at the Purple Purl that I stole from Lynn.

Jennifer the Happy has another version of the same picture on Instagram and Twitter:

And here is the day’s stash additions of my 3 knitting group friends and myself. Not too shabby.

I especially enjoy Alia‘s open mouth of joy and Kara’s fingering of the silk ball in the bottom right corner. I regret none of the innuendos in the preceding sentence.

There are more awesome photos in Lynn’s blog post.

Here’s what I got 😀

(click on the photo for what store and colourway/dye lot info)

100% silk! And Passionknit had 25% off all yarn so… I really couldn’t say no.

NEON SOCK YARN. Need I say more? Lynn, Kara, and I decided we had to have it as soon as we saw it at Creative Yarns. Other team members judged us, but I don’t care. At one of our knit nights we plan on all showing up with neon socks-in-progress. It’s going to be epic.

And that is all the yarn I bought. I KNOW, right? But Lord knows I have enough stash at the moment.

BUT, Passionknit was lovely enough to give out free Mirasol lace weight. Yes, you read that right.

Other awesome freebies included this gorgeous wooden crochet hook and some stitch markers from the Purple Purl,

 

 

 

 

and this cool button from Wool Gathering (then again, I love buttons) sporting a sentiment I happen to share,

 

 

 

 

 

 

as well as a bag, back-issue magazine, and yarn from Romni Wools. How incredibly generous LYSes can be.

And here is this year’s official button and bag, both of which are probably my favourite of the three years I’ve been doing this.

I also won a prize! Which floored me, because I never win anything. I won a copy of French Girl Knits by Kristeen Griffin-Grimes and a skein of Diamond Luxury Collection Fine Merino Superwash Lace from Knitty and Diamond, respectively.

And I like almost every pattern in French Girl Knits. Bonus! I mean, how could you not. Look at this gorgeousness:

I also bought two books. This is likely not a surprise to anyone who reads this blog…

Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitting Workshop is a classic. The late Mrs. Zimmermann was a master knitter from a European generation who memorized “recipes” for patterns, rather than rely on following written patterns verbatim. Take this page from her instructions for The Original Shetland Shawl as an example:

Marianne Kinzel’s First Book of Modern Lace Knitting is in the same vein, albeit the lace work featured in it is so detailed, some instructions are needed. I would like to try this doozy. Wish me luck.

Of course I will be using it as a shawl rather than a dinner cloth 😉 I’ll be damned if I let anyone eat off of this sucker.

Can’t wait till next year’s TTC Knitalong. It will be the 10th anniversary!

I have a problem

It’s books (and knitting and yarn buying, but that’s another story).

Recently, I borrowed this from work:

And now I waaaant it.

I mean look,

dalesbred

Each breed/animal has at least a full page dedicated to how to best spin, dye, and knit the fleece, as well as a swatch showing what it looks like knit up and a description of what types of garments it is best for.

It’s like the last piece in my collection. I figure I will have a library of ALL THE KNITTING KNOWLEDGE once I have it on my shelf.

… I really am in the right profession as a librarian…

I want it, I want it soooo bad. But I already own:

this,

and this, 

and a few books on how to spin and should really just be happy. I mean, I haven’t even actually started learning to spin yet. But then I tell myself “but it will be a great resource for when I actually do start! And it will make me a better knitter too!” If it sounds reminiscent of the talk of an addict trying to reason their way to their next fix, that’s likely a fair and accurate statement. Though I like to think I ended up making a small sacrifice for the good of my wallet: instead of the huge coffee table book, I ended up buying this instead:

Same topic, same authors, a heck of a lot cheaper. It’s like the light version. Also, it will fit in my purse while shopping 😀 I mean, what?

My sickness isn’t limited to books on yarn and fleece. In the same transaction I also bought:

this 

and this 

because the other day I bought these:

SO EXCITED.

I know, I know, this all adds up to a lot of $. But the Raspberry Pi and Arduino are work/career related, so there. Plus I got the books online for cheaper than at the hobby store where I got the Raspberry Pi and Arduino. Plus I rarely shop for myself. I’m treating myself after the rough winter I’ve had (more addict-style rationalizing…)

God knows when I’ll find the time to learn how to use the Raspberry Pi and Arduino with all this spinning I plan on doing…

And lastly, I got this:

I have a good reason! I have an older car! It makes strange noises I want to understand. Not to mention I’d like to not look so dim the next time I go to the mechanic.

…I’m going to go broke.

Then again, if I can fix and make my own stuff…

Kidding! No more book buying for a long time, I swear.

Flora and Fauna

First, the fauna:

Happy Easter Monday! From Desmond

Now for the flora:

As mentioned in previous posts, I (with the help of some awesome fellow knitters) am knitting the flowers for my wedding in addition to my shrug. This is why I’ve essentially been away from the blogosphere for the past month or so. That and the other elements of wedding planning and getting ready to move in May. Now I finally have some actual FO flowers worth sharing, so I thought I would.

First is this tulip from Lesley Stanfield’s beautiful book 100 Flowers to Knit & Crochet. (she has also made it available in a few other places, one for free!). I think it might be my favourite so far.

So favourited, I had to take several pictures.

Here are the others I’ve been working on:

An anemone, also from Lesley’s book.

This calla lily is another favourite. The pattern is by Cathy Ren.

A peony, also from Leslie’s book.

And lastly, a rose. It’s this pattern I mentioned in this post.

I think the calla lily and tulips will win out as the bouquet flowers. Now to figure out what I want to do for corsages and boutonniĂšres…

A Winter Wonderland

sheep_shearing_1_mdContinuing on the topic of using real wool from another recent post, I wanted to point out an exciting trend of going “back to wool” that I’ve noticed in my web travels. And I don’t mean just knitting with it, I mean interest in the whole process, from farm to shearer to spindle to needle.

1) Clara Parkes of Knitter’s Review recently accounced her Great White Bale project.

2) Juniper Moon’s The Shepherd and The Shearer

3) Kate Davies‘ love of Jamieson & Smith Real Shetland Wool.

If I had more disposable income, I’d be all over all of these.

Instead, I’ve made a slightly smaller splurge and bought Parkes’ book The Knitter’s Book of Yarn

It’s a delightful doorstop of a book, with lots of info on fibre types and sources, how it’s made, plying, and what each yarn is best used for. To illustrate the latter over 38 patterns are featured, which includes gorgeousness such as this:

I was also coveting her The Knitter’s Book of Wool:

It is equally as gorgeous, and perhaps even more detailed since it goes into great depth on sheep breeds and their wools. But since I don’t use wool exclusively (and since my budget and bookshelf can only take so many new acquisitions), the more general overview in The Knitter’s Book of Yarn won out.

Speaking of great depths, Penny Walsh’s The Yarn Book, a part of the University of Pennsylvania Press’ Textile Arts series, is brimming with all of the technical information you’ll ever need.

Baaaa

baa

I’m also excited about…

I’m on the organizing committee for Pucks n’ Purls this year. This is our second year and we’re continuing to grow. Over 200 seats sold so far! Hockey (a Canadian tradition), ice skating (likewise), and so many prizes to win, donated by some awesome companies, designers, and local yarn stores. Just look at all of the names on this list:

Knit-O-Matic, Lettuce Knit, Old Mill Knitting, Estelle, Michelle Porter, Creative Yarns, Denise Powell, Indigodragonfly, Tanis Fiber Arts, Wool & Wicker, Linda’s Craftique, Soak, Westminster Fibers, and Fiona Ellis.

One of the prizes is temporarily living in my house until game day. So much temptation…

And now I’m finally going to share what I made for the holidays.

Hat for Dad

TravelWees (such a cute idea) for my neices.

This was the first time I’ve sewn in a while. Luckily, it doesn’t look like I forgot how. I also made my nieces each a necklace, as well as another type of necklace for my stepmom and a brooch for my Grandma.

And a holiday recap isn’t complete without mention of my awesome present:

VoilĂ  my Pandora braclet. I’ve slowly started collecting charms, and was dismayed to find there is no knitting related one. I found this delightful yarn basket charm on eBay. It’s not official Pandora, but it fits, it’s .925 silver and it’s knitting!

I leave you with some snow-filled photos of my New Years spent up north.

Noodle

I came into work the other day to find this little gem on my desk.

Isn’t she cute?! She’s from the book Noodle’s Knitting by Sheryl Webster, illustrated by Caroline Pedler.

A coworker from another branch (the same lovely individual who made this) made her for a knitting and fiction themed craft program and, knowing I love the book and have used it in storytimes more than once, made a second one for me.

I was so touched! Not to mention thrilled to be able to put something this adorable on my mantle. Right now she’s sitting beside my TARDIS, a product of the Ravhellenic Games. Mine is definitely the home of a nerdy knitter.

Speaking of knitting themed picture books, I don’t believe I’ve shared this other favourite of mine yet (hard to believe since I’ve written about them here and here):

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen.

These two images from the book pretty much sum up how awesome it is (though there is a great review here if you need more convincing):

For the love of yarn

It’s been officially over a month since my last post. It was the holiday season and I was furiously knitting, crocheting, and sewing, so I make no apologies. More to come on those adventures soon. For now I’ll continue on the topic of my being a process knitter, or “knitting for knitting’s sake,” lest things get disjointed.

More proof of my process bent can be found in the fact that I recently got a copy of this in the mail:

One of EZ‘s best, but perhaps most esoteric works. Lots of great patterns and knitting advice next to divergent stories about her life. Because of this, some find it tedious and lacking in enough patterns to be “worth it.” Yet I find her life supremely interesting: her stories of first learning to knit as a child, how this creative spark later translated into going to school for fine art and into starting her own knitting related business, how she loved to create clothes for her family and ended up passing her passion on to her daughter Meg. To me it’s inspiring.

Let’s be frank, my love for “Knitting Around” isn’t just proof of my being a process knitter, it also exemplifies the extend of my nerdiness. Take, for example, this other tome I bought (I use tome judiciously – it is rather large):

As this review states, the book is a sort of social history told through mittens. It is a collection of traditional knitting patterns and the stories behind them. Robin Hansen “gathered them from authoritative sources in New England, the Canadian Maritimes and Scandinavia—from knitters who are grandmothers, fishermen, lumberjacks and farmers, men and women, and who learned them from parents, aunts and neighbors.”

Does this kind of talk get the interests of you guys piqued, or is it just me?

As a side note, Hansen also wrote Sunny’s Mittens (which I’ve written about previously) and this other kid’s book I just stumbled across:

As a knitter, history lover, and children’s librarian, I heart you Ms. Hansen.

The same author appeared mentioned in another book I’ve read lately:

The author, Gwen Steege has put together a great compilation of things you need to know to be a knitter who can truly say she knows her craft. In it she mentions Hansen’s “Favourite Mittens” and talks at length about her work on twined knitting:

“Twined knitting was used throughout northern Europe and the Middle East whenever a firm, flat edging was needed, such as on scooped necklines or stocking caps. Today it turns up in eastern European and Middle Eastern knitting as a decorative edging, often called ‘braided edging’, although the effect of the two-color twined purl is more like a series of sideways chevrons than braid. The apparent reason for twined knitting’s demise in many regions has to do with the spread of the German or continental method of knitting in much of Europe
 In twined knitting two strands are worked alternately, usually two ends of the same (quite small) ball. The strand for the present stitch is brought consistently either under or over the strand just used, creating a half-twist between stitches
 The knit side is typically quite flat and firm, and the fabric has only slight elasticity… Although working twined knitting initially seems slow, the resulting fabric is firm, warm, and durable and, depending on the yarn and ornamentation, can also be quite elegant.”

A great tutorial on twined knitting by Knitty can be found here.

Since books seems to be the theme (yet again) I have to share this other recent acquirement (sales! all sales! I swear!) :

By the great Margaret Radcliffe, this is hands-down the best book on colour knitting I’ve seen.

Lastly, I need to share this:

“From the neo-feudalistic slubs, the corn-filled world of Tane’s youth, to his apprenticeship among the deadly saleswarriors of Seattlehama–the sex-and-shopping capital of the world–to the horrors of a polluted Antarctica, Yarn tells a stylish tale of love, deceit, and memory. Tane Cedar is the master tailor, the supreme outfitter of the wealthy, the beautiful, and the powerful. When an ex-lover, on the run from the authorities, asks him to create a garment from the dangerous and illegal Xi yarn–a psychedelic opiate–to ease her final hours, Tane’s world is torn apart. Armed with just his yarn pulls, scissors, Mini-Air-Juki handheld sewing machine, and his wits, Tane journeys through the shadowy underworld where he must untangle the deadly mysteries and machinations of decades of deceit.”

Um, awesome? It’s on my to-read list.

ADDENDUM: while on the topic of nerdy knitting things, I just found this post on knitting in Shakespeare by fellow blogger Katknit. “I mean, that my heart unto yours is knit” – I might have to use that in my wedding vows…

Last minute gifts to make

Here’s a copy of a blog post I did for work. Enjoy!

Link to the original: Last minute gifts to make.

Ok, so it’s not really last minute if you’re shopping, but if you plan on making gifts to give this holiday season, the time to start is now!

Here are some great books full of instructions and inspiration.

(click on a title for link to item)

For those who celebrate Christmas:

Index

Index4

Index2

Or any of these other titles.

Or perhaps you celebrate Hanukkah?

Index

See more here.

How about Kwanzaa?

Index

See more here.

And then there are resources everyone can use:

Index

more card making resources here.

Maybe you have a particular craft you’re drawn to?

If you’re a knitter like me you might want to try searching for books with patterns for knitted gifts, such as this one:

Index

Or, if you aren’t the fastest knitter (also like me) or are running out of time (me again), try some of the quick-n’-easy patterns in these books:

Index

Index

Into paper crafts? Want to make someone their very own unique fabric-bound journal? Try a search like this, to get books like this:

Index

Beading? Try a search like this one to get books like this:

Index

Wood working? How about searching for books like this:

Index

The possibilities are endless.

And don’t forget to have a gander at our librarian Recommended Websites too.

Happy Holiday Handcrafting!

All Hallows Eve

Happy Hallowe’en!

In honour of this most creepy of holidays, here are some spooky-type projects.

The lovely Teresa Gregorio has recently published an entire book of patterns inspired by ghosts. In addition to the patterns, there are essays exploring how different cultures view the “physical” apparition of a ghost.

This new free pattern from Red Heart is freaking amazing:

Definitely planning on this for next year.

I know, I know, it may be a little hard to get something knit and blocked by tonight, but you can always get a head start on next year. Or you’ll be all set to celebrate Christmas Tim Burton style.

Source: Shayne on Geekcrafts

Zero the Ghostly Dog by Meg-Ann Skilton

In the same vein, you could choose to start getting ready for the Mayan apocalypse on Dec 21:

Judith Shangold’s Mayan Scarf.

Quetzal Mayan Bird from Erssie Major’s Magickal Throw.

Speaking of Christmas, better get cracking on those gifts!

KatKnit over at Dances with Wool has a list of cute free patterns to get you started. I personally love the elf slippers:

And for those that celebrate other holidays at this time of year:

I saw this posted by Knitomatic in my Pinterest feed. Frigging adorable. Look at the wee little candles! For little toddler hands!

Just a Little Bit of History Repeating

It is no secret that I have a passion for traditional and historical information on both knitting and fibre art in general. Arans, Guernseys, Fair Isle, Dutch knitting, Peruvian knitting, Bosnian knitting, Shepherd’s knitting and crochet, Turkish socks, and medieval knitting and spinning have all featured in my blog at some point. Examples include this post and this post and this post and this post. Well, it’s been a few months since such a post, and I’ve a) found some new crafts to share, and b) have some updates to the ones I’ve discussed before and to my recources. Excited? So am I!

I’ll start with a wonderful recent post from a fellow Toronto blogger (who also happens to run Wise Daughters) on her great aunts’ samplers and the emotional connection we have to tradition and herilooms.

I was perhaps most excited to find out about the ancient art of nĂ„lebinding. NĂ„lebinding is a Danish word literally meaning “binding with a needle” or “needle-binding”, also spelled naalbinding, nĂ„lbinding or naalebinding. In English it is known as “knotless netting,” “knotless knitting,” or “single needle knitting” according to Wikipedia and this blogger. It is a predecesor to knitting that was used by the Vikings and employed only one needle. I have a large list of links indexed in my Delicious account if you’re interested in finding out more. This is what it looks like:

Click mittens photo to see more. Heck, click it to see a whole lot more pretty pictures of Northern European reconstructionist living. Including lots of textiles. I’m seriously drooling a little bit right now… Here’s the permalink to the photographer’s Flickr.

NĂ„lebinding techniques were not limited to the Vikings. Many cultures used single-needle tools to make knitted-like fabric. Some of the different stitch styles can be found in my Delicious links, as mentioned above. It is still practiced in parts of Peru. They use it to make bracelets. It used to be used for hats like these before knitting needles were introduced:

Speaking of Peru, I found another great article on textiles in that country in an issue of Twist Collective.

NĂ„lebinding was even practiced in ancient Egypt too, where these socks are from.

Did you know that true knitting, meaning the less sloppy two stick variety, started in Egypt? At least that is where the earliest example has been found, dating to about 1000 CE. Knitty has a good overview of the beginnings of our favourite craft here.

I also need to share Kate Davies’ blog with you. I mentioned her, though not by name, in my Storytelling and Fibre Art post as a source for info on Estonian knitting. Little did I know the treasure-trove I had stumbled across. Suffice it to say she is a historian specializing in textiles who publishes her own e-zine called Textisles. She’s where I found out about the Irish Hands book I discuss below.

Antique pattern library is another amazing recource I recently stumbled across while trying to help a patron at work find J.P. Coates’ filet crochet book on insertions by Anne Champe Orr from 1910. It has hundred of now public domain pattern books available as pdf downloads. My iPad is now full of ’em. I’ve also been pinning all kinds of other free, public domain patterns on my History and Folklore of Crafts and Vintage boards on Pinterest since then…

Another cool resource I’m glad I found is this great site by Gordon Reid on the history and creation of ganseys and guernseys. He led me to this book:

Cornish Guernseys & Knit-Frocks by Mary Wright. It’s short, but absolute perfection. Read it. Now.

The beautiful free wool I recently acquired from a generous de-stashing friend, which you may remember from this post, got me interested in the mill it came from – Briggs and Little in New Brunswick. They pride themselves on being Canada’s oldest woolen mill and use only Canadian pure wool. They have also published a book called Knits from the North Country that I would really like to get my hands on. Alas, it’s quite expensive and a little too obscure for libraries to carry. Maybe one day…

Speaking of Canadian knitwear…

I recently took out Sylvia Olsen‘s Working With Wool: A Coast Salish Legacy and the Cowichan Sweater from the library and am quite impressed so far.

Ms. Olsen has also written a very charming advanced picture book on the subject called Yetsa’s Sweater:

Index

Speaking of Canadian traditions, I want to include Marilyn I. Walker’s Ontario Heritage Quilts. It isn’t knitting related, but it’s still a handicraft and many knitters quilt and quilters knit, so there. I was just excited to find out we even have heritage quilts in Ontario.

Another book I’ve been coveting is Annemor SundbĂž‘s Invisible Threads in Knitting. It is essentially her richly illustrated musings on knitting history based on years spent, and treasures found, in the Torridal Tweed factory she acquired in the the early 1980s. Unfortunately it is mysteriously hard to find. Unlike her other, very popular, books, this one is only available for sale through her website. The large format and glossy photos also help to make it rather expensive. Luckily, Ottawa Public Library owns a copy, so I put in a request with my library to borrow it from them (called an inter-library loan). This is why Worldcat is my friend :). My review? The accuracy of all of the information is suspect (SundbĂž does repeatedly remind the reader that these are her personal observations), but still highly worth a read. She’s one of knitting’s gurus, afterall.

Irish Hands by Sybil Connolly is the book that Kate Davies recommended. It is full of information and beautiful photography. And it’s not all romantic Celtic knot work. Sybil Connolly was (she sadly passed in 1998) Ireland’s grand dame of textiles – she knew her stuff. Since it’s an older book, it is very easy to find copies of this on used book sites for quite cheap.

I’ve mentioned Nicki Epstein’s wonderful Knitting on Top of the World in pervious posts. I recently was given a copy of Lela Nargi’s Knitting Around the World and must say it gives Epstein’s work a pretty good run for its money. I think it actually has more historical information than Epstein’s does.

B.T. Batsford Publishing’s “Complete Book of Traditional…” series is older, but also worth a look (though I’m not a fan of the Aran one).

Fair Isle Knitting by Sheila McGregor

Aran Knitting by Shelagh Hollingworth

Scandinavian Knitting by Sheila McGregor

Traditional Knitting by Rae Compton

Speaking of Scandinavian knitting, another great book is Annemor SundbĂž’s Norwegian Mittens and Gloves.

Index

There is also this really cute little book by Robin Hansen called Sunny’s Mittens. Similar to Yetsa’s Sweater, it is a picture books about a girl learning to knit from her grandmother. However in this story, they are making Swedish folk mittens called Lovikka mittens.

Index

A pair of Lovikka mittens:

Prodimage_2202

Finally, we have Wrapped in Lace: Knitted Heirloom Designs from Around the World by Margaret Stove. Though Interweave Press is often critiqued for the historical accuracy of some of the books it publishes, I have to say that it looks like Stove has really done her research in this one. Plus, the creations throughout are jaw-droppingly gorgeous.

And that’s a wrap! (Sorry, bad pun). All of the resources I’ve used can be found not only in the posts concerning them, but also on my links page as well.

Creativ Festival haul

Two posts a tad close together, I know, but I had to share the fruits of my second day at the Creativ Festival. Pics of my adventures as a model for the Fashion Knits show to hopefully come soon.

VoilĂ  my haul of goodies, comprising both days:

Breaking it down, we have the two awesome books I got, more detail in my other post. Both are entirely worth the investment, but I love that I got them at a huge discount from Grantham Books. They’re at the festival every year, and I always come home with something. On their site they list other shows they go to as well as permanent locations.

In the foreground you can see some navy blue DK possum merino. That’s right, possum. It is made in New Zealand, and available in Canada here, the UK here, and the USA here or here. Apparently, “the possum fur is hollow and, when spun with merino wool, produces a hardwearing yarn with superior heat retaining qualities.” Either way, it feels awesome and I am excited to try it. Here’s a close-up.

I also picked up some good ol’ Berroco Vintage Chunky in white from Creative Yarns. It shall one day (soon) become the shrug for my wedding dress. I’ll be using the same pattern as for the one I talk about here.

I think it will be gorgeous. Actually, I know it will be because someone has already done it:

I also got some neats beads, pendants, and a pair of cool glass earrings at this store’s booth.

After much hunting, I was finally able to find a booth that sold Brother equipment for my Brother sewing machine. I got some thread, extra bobbins, a blind presser foot for fancy hems on dresses and dress pants (I have a backlog of stuff to fix…), and a teflon foot and twin needle for sewing onto knitting, so that maybe I can finally get the lining onto my cabled belt from way back.

One thing I did not buy, purely because I have a large enough stash already, is the HPKY I fell in love with. Their website isn’t the greatest, but I believe the yarn is called LamĂ©. It’s a bulkier weight and has strands of glitter running through it. The booth selling it (called Yarn Deals, LLC) I could not find a website for anywhere, but they had these wicked knitted samples that only need 1 skein:

I especially like the one with the tapered and braided ends. It makes it really easy to wear as a scarf or snood/hood type thing. Gotta remember this design idea for later.

And finally, you may remember Ozzy the Alpaca from yesterday’s post. Today, I leave you with a fortune.