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

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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:

Voilà 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.

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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:

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Or any of these other titles.

Or perhaps you celebrate Hanukkah?

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See more here.

How about Kwanzaa?

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See more here.

And then there are resources everyone can use:

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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:

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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:

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

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

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Wood working? How about searching for books like this:

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The possibilities are endless.

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

Happy Holiday Handcrafting!

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.

Voilà 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 Lamé. 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.

Books

I’ve been writing about knitting a lot lately, and technically this blog is supposed to also be related to the fact that I am a librarian. So, without further ado, some book-ish things (though some of it is still yarn-related, but I digress) :

The Toronto Public Library’s Arthur Conan Doyle Collection recently acquired an autograph notebook. This item was purchased from someone who found it at a flea market in England.

What makes this find so interesting is that it seems to have belonged to two children with the last name Cubitt. On one of its pages they concocted a unique code using images of dancing stick figures.

This was in 1902. In 1903 Doyle signed the book for the children.

What is interesting is that in that same year Doyle published his Sherlock Holmes story “The Adventure of the Dancing Men,” and Holmes’ client in the story bears the last name Cubitt. Additionally, Doyle is said to have gotten the idea for this inventive code after seeing some stick-figure letters drawn by a young boy in an autograph book. Intriguing, wouldn’t you say? Full story here.

Sometimes I wish I worked in a collection like the Doyle Collection. For one, I’m a nerd who likes history and having the responsibility of preserving it, but another reason is that it would get me out of public service.

Don’t get me wrong, 90% of the time I like it. You get your difficult patrons, of which there have been many of late for some reason, but the good experiences make up for it. And I’m too social a person to be content hiding behing books all day. It’s just that this coming week I have my first class visit :S

I love doing storytimes for the kiddos, and have been doing that for almost two years, but this is another level. It’s not just fun and games, read them books, teach them songs, and just get across that literacy = fun. I have to talk about what the library is and offers… to 5 year olds. Do they even know what “borrow” means? Probably not. I need to remember to explain absolutely everything, but as simply and non-boringly as possible. And their teachers will be watching. Adults are so much harder to please than kids…

This brings me to this new book I’m quite impressed with:

Show Me a Story by Emily K. Neuburger has been giving me lots of ideas of things to try next week. It might just save my bacon…

And now for the latest editions to books-Erin-shouldn’t-be-buying-but-did:

Sewing Basics : All You Need to Know About Machine and Hand Sewing by Sandra Bardwell I am hoping will answer all of my myriad of questions as I enter the netherworld of sewing machine use. By the look of things, it will:

That's a lot of types of machine feet...

So excited for Knitting in the Old Way by Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts and Deborah Robson, which I scored for $10. Priscilla also wrote this other gem, which I wrote about here. It’s not flashy, but it is packed with information. If you are at all interested in textile history, this is one you should pick up.

I got these two books at the Creativ Festival today, where I modelled for the fashion show displaying local designers, organized by Creative Yarns. It was a lot of fun and very inspiring (we have a lot of talent in Toronto). Off to bed now for round two and more shopping tomorrow.

I leave you with the progress I’ve made on my fingerless gloves WIP…

and Ozzy the alpaca.

And as a bonus for making it to the end of this post, have some free book plates I’ve pinned on Pinterest. Cheers!

Hi-yah!

Besides the fact that the fiancé and I were sick for a bit, it’s been a good couple weeks. First off, I must take a moment to point out an initiative very close to my heart that I found out about through a post on the wonderful Simply Notable blog:

The idea behind the Purple Stitch Project is to knit, crochet, or sew purple (the epilepsy awareness color) gifts for kids with seizure disorders. These gifts will serve as a reminder that they are not alone — that they have community support. The 2nd goal of PSP is to raise awareness about epilepsy, the 3rd most prevalent neurological disorder (next to stroke and Alzheimer’s). With every purple stitch made and every handmade item worn or carried, perhaps a collective conversation will begin about a disorder that surprisingly little is known about.

As some of you know, my fiancé has epilepsy, hence I am super excited to hear about such an awesome initiative. The fact that it involves the hobby I love helps too.

There are all kinds of patterns listed on Craftsy and Pinterest. Including awesomeness like this:

Everyone should make one!

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In other news, my shrug is coming along well. If I like it, I might also make it in white for the wedding 😀

Isn’t the drawstring square-bottom project bag you see in the photo awesome? I got it, along with another one in a funky pink, gold, and white fabric, from one of my fellow World Wide Knit in Public Day organizers, who made them for all of us who helped plan WWKIP Toronto Edition. It was such a nice surprise!

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On Friday I went to the latest

If you’ve never been and you’re ever in the area, you should go. Click on the Knitty logo/banner for the link to more info, but essentially it’s a great time in one of Toronto’s greatest (and probably coziest) yarn stores, The Purple Purl. You and twenty-nine other knitters get to test and review five new yarns ranging from super luxury skeins to bargain ones. The reviews are used by Knitty for their magazine.

Voilà, the swatch I had at the end of the night. There be alpaca, merino, and even cashmere in them there hills of inadvertent garter stitch.
And their are door prizes! I went home with this:

And the entire store was on sale, so this had to follow me home:

Did you spot my invasive cat in, not one, but both of the pics above? Because, you know, I don’t give him any attention, not at all.

More free things! :

This is chunky/bulky weight wool yarn from Briggs & Little that I got from a destashing friend.

Last weekend I visited family out in the country, and came back from antique shopping with some pieces of handicraft history.

These are two antique yarn bobbins/spools. Well used from the looks of them. See how they would have been used here.

This handkerchief is hand embroidered and edged with crochet. I love the little pieces of detail. And I couldn’t very well resist a four leafed (leaved?) clover.

Beyond that I’ve found myself cooking and baking a lot. It’s the fall weather – it is finally not too hot to have the oven on, and nothing is better than long-simmering soup, à la this recipe for Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup I made on the weekend. Pinterest is likely also partially to blame. I’ve been pinning way too much.

Speaking of baking…

We had a potluck at work. One of my colleagues and I are a) very nerdy and b) share a love of Game of Thrones (we’re librarians, so it’s not a surprise). Plus there is my love of all things medieval. This led to us using this:

To make things like this (complete with explanatory notes) :

Whole story here.

Wonder Woman Costume, by Dad

Father Sews Wonder Woman Costume for Daughter | The Mary Sue.

Words cannot explain my love for this. A crafting father makes a Wonder Woman hero/princess costume for his daughter because she didn’t like the idea of having to be a princess for a birthday party whose theme required that the boys dress as superheroes and the girls as princesses.

Take that kiddy princess culture AND “crafting is for women” mentality!