Tools of the trade

I recently was given some coupons for some good deals, so naturally I decided to get some tools I’ve had my eye on for a bit. Regular household items like a steamer and a kitchen scale…

  

Except that I have ulterior plans.

Sure, they will come in handy for cleaning pet stains, steaming wrinkles out of clothes (I HATE ironing, so this is good) and measuring recipe ingredients. However their main purpose will be yarn related. The steamer will help me block with greater ease, and the scale will help me figure out how many grams I have of a particular yarn. There is nothing more annoying than having to guesstimate because you want to cast on for a project that needs 120 grams and you have the perfect yarn for it but you no longer have the ball band and/or used only part of the skein in an earlier project and so have absolutely no idea how many grams you have left.

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Knitter’s Frolic

So this past weekend was the annual Knitter’s Frolic. I went with some members of my knitting group, and we had a lot of fun.

  Above photos from CanadianChia.

And saw some amazing things.

  CASHMERE ROVING. IT FEELS LIKE CLOUDS.

And when it comes to shopping, I made out like a bandit this year. A bandit who pays for all their loot, but a bandit nonetheless.

Everything there was just SO AWESOME this year. More awesome than it already normally is. Plus I got more back that I thought I would with my tax return, so happy early birthday to me.

Here is the pile, in all its glory:

IMG_0533

And now for the breakdown, minus the Addi Turbos and the Indigodragonfly project bag with the hilarious print.

First we have some beautiful lace weight. Seriously, the picture does not do the emerald tones of this skein justice. It’s Shalimar Yarn‘s Breathless Lace in Loden. Handpainted! 850 yds! $30! 😀

I plan on making this beauty with it.

Then I stopped by a family-owned farm‘s stall and grabbed me some more hand painted goodness:

Once again, my camera does not do the deep hues of this yellow any justice. I normally don’t go for yellows, but it was so gorgeous it had to come home with me.

The Black Lamb (another local yarn producer) had this at their booth:

Merino mixed with angora rabbit! Get in my shopping bag now please!

Then at the booth for Gateway Fibreworks (another local outfit that makes yarn from Ontario alpacas – noticing a “local” theme yet?) I saw this skein, the last one they had of it’s colourful yet undyed (these are natural alpaca fleece colours) kind and had to have it.

While I was there I grabbed these mini skeins because alpaca mini skeins.

I’m thinking it should be enough for fingerless gloves.

So that’s it for the local fibres. I had planned on buying only local, normally-hard-to-get-your-hands-on stuff, but then…

Classic Elite Yarns Provence on sale for 30% off at EweKnit‘s booth.

Since I needed some DK weight cotton for this vest, I figured I might as well buy it while it’s on sale.

This Habu skein was also 50% off at Unraveled. I’ve always wanted to try Habu (the ones that brought you yarns made from paper, steel, and etc) and at this price for a little skein I figured why not?

It’s called Kibiso silk. It may not look very silky, but that’s because it is actually made from the waste silk, which is the fuzzy bits on the surface one gets when you reel silk from a cocoon.

And last, but not least, we have this skein from Skein (har har). When I saw it at Shall We Knit‘s booth, I had to have it. It’s just so different. The colourway is Tuscany.

I also got a good deal on hand carders from Gemini Fibres. I’ll need them if I ever actually start spinning.

Speaking of starting spinning, I’ve taken a step in the right direction! I took Barb Aikman’s class on the Sunday of the Frolic.

I’ve got a long way to go, but at least it’s a start. I had trouble with the single treadle I was using, so a fellow student was kind enough to let me try her Ashford Joy2. Muuuuch better.

…aaand now I want an Ashford Joy2. It’s a beautiful machine.

But, before I can think of that, or use all this new yarn that is burning a hole in my stash, I must finish the baby knitting (yes, there is still another set of these:

as well as a blanket to go) plus the shawl I’ve started for myself:

I think I needed to finally make something for myself. People are starting to ask why I knit so much but hardly wear any knitwear :S

Luckily this shawl is in worsted weight, so hopefully it won’t take too long.

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.

4 months of knitting

It’s been awhile I know. I choose to blame several things: post-wedding craziness, the holidays, and some health problems experienced by both my husband and myself.

This post is essentially just going to be a run-down of things I have been working on. It features some great patterns, including one I am writing myself (my first!). I guess that might be another reason for my lack of blogging: knitting addiction. I state where I got each of the patterns. To see which yarn(s) I used, click on the image to see a Ravelry description page.

I’ll start off with the arm knitting trend. Despite my already large stash, I decided to buy some extra bulky yarn and give it a whorl. I used the tutorial here and followed the guidance of Unwind Yarn House in using Mirasol Ushya yarn held double. I’m pretty happy with the look of the result, albeit it’s not as warm as some of my other scarves, and I’m worried that getting a stitch snagged on something might cause the whole thing to be pulled out of shape. We shall see.

Curious to see what arm knitting might possibly look like in progress? Voilà.

PS: I entered this in the Ravellenic Games, which coincides with the Olympics.

I’m also planning on entering a pair of slippers that I’m making for my husband in colours from Fallout, his favourite video game. I started off following this pattern, but had to make so many modifications due to hubby’s extra extra large shoe size that it’s practically its own pattern now. I’m considering publishing it 🙂

Before these I finished Shara Lambeth’s Dentelle Cowl for my mother-in-law. It’s a lovely short cowl, and I really like the finished result. Though I will suggest that if you plan on trying to make your own that you make the foundation chain very loose. The stitch pattern is very stretchy, plus you will be putting many dcs into the foundation chain, so it needs to be able to give a little.

Being at that age where friends and cousins start having kids, I’ve also been doing some baby knits.

This adorbale pair of booties is based on a Saartje de Bruijn pattern. Albeit I used the seamless version by Fleegle instead, because I hate seams. Hate. I had to learn the Turkish cast-on it order to do it. I highly recommend FluffyKnitterDeb’s tutorial, it’s really easy to follow. A little tricky until you get the hang of it, but I’m glad I’ve learned how to do it. It makes beautiful sock toes, bag bottoms, mitten tips, etc.

One of the babies was born in December. She of course required something more warm and snuggly, hence I made her a hat using the Bulky EarFlap Hat pattern from As the Bunny Spins and booties using Simple Soft Baby Booties from Adirondack Mama.

She might not be so happy about wearing it, but I think her parents are glad she’s warm in these -20°C tempertures we’ve been getting.

Then there was my Christmas knitting.

I made a Jayne hat again. This time it was for my middle brother, and I used this pattern, which I think I was happier with.

Here they both are, sporting their hats in true browncoat style 🙂

And now for my pride and joy of the whole lot. The pattern is Fightin’ Words by Annie Watts of Wattsolak Designs. These fingerless mitts were for my youngest brother, who seemed to get a kick out of them.

My first true stranded colourwork. A pretty awesome pattern, and a pretty awesome job, if I do say so myself.

TTC Knit-a-long 2013

The annual TTC Knitalong was this past Saturday. I was on Team Intarsia (a.k.a. the best team).

Team Intarsia started at Creative Yarns in Scarborough, which had a great sale and the Zauberball I’ve been coveting, so I did a lot of my shopping there (the Malabrigo and the Louisa Harding below were both from there too).

After that it was a long bus and subway ride to The Purple Purl. My friend Ilana broke a DPN en route!

But she bought new ones when we got to the Purl, where is where I got the Sweet Georgia DK. I normally don’t do crazy colours, but the skein was just so vibrant I couldn’t say no. It was calling to me. You know how it is. Ilana’s DPN troubles were soothed when she won the Purple Purl’s draw for their limited edition Indigodragonfly colourway and a pattern.

It was also at the Purl that I started binding off my wedding shrug 😀

Then it was on to Romni Wools. I bought a spindle there that is hopefully better quality than the current homemade one I have. It’s Ashford, so it should be. Romni was also giving away free needles and this little adorable guy, who now resides in my craft room.

We discovered that Romni also apparently sells the stuff you’d need to make muppets.

Then it was on to Americo Original, where everyone got a free skein of lace weight 100% llama for FREE. I was nearly done binding off at this point.

I walked down the street like this too. Really weirded out some of the uninitiated, lol.

At the Rivoli I finally finished the shrug.

AND I got the following certificate, after my team leaders nominated me <3! The lovely Glenna C. was one of them. She has some great photos of the day (and of the most awesome team, if I do say so) on her blog here.

A damn good day.

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:

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.

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…