Update – Reindeer Games, Sweet Fiber and some FOs

Living the dream

I’ve got a week off from work and have naturally spent it in a knitting frenzy.  In fact, I’ve spent so much time knitting that feel a little guilty (okay, not really) that I’ve neglected some other things I’m supposed to be doing.  For instance, my Sunday vacuuming and dusting didn’t get done until yesterday and, what’s more reprehensible, bookclub is tomorrow and I’ve only read the back cover of the book.

Here’s what’s been distracting me this week:

Reindeer Games

The Girl has been begging me for a Vintage Reindeer Cardigan (to match her Dad’s) and I’ve finally cast on using Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky. The first picture illustrates what I love about colour-work, i.e. watching a motif appear, row by row.  In this case, reindeer footprints above the ribbing then two reindeer frolicking in the forest.  Then, the second picture shows what I absolutely LOATHE about colour-work, i.e. all the frickin’ tangle-y bobbins and countless ends to weave in. Sometimes it gets so convolutedly messy that I have to just put down the mangled mess and take a break.  🙂  The good news is that this bulky yarn knits up pretty quickly on 6.0 mm needles.

The back in progress

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yargh!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More yarn! – Sweet Fiber Yarns

Yeah, yeah, I’m supposedly on a yarn diet (whatever!), but I really, really needed some of Sweet Fiber Yarn’s special Super Sweet Sock yarn (80% Merino, 20% nylon, 415 yds, $25) It’s an exclusive colourway created especially for Knit City 2012.  It’s also available in Cashmerino Worsted (80% Merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon, 200 yds, $28).  Go immediately to the Knit Social Shop to order some.  While you’re there, check out their other special Knit City merch.

Super Sweet Sock Yarn, in Knit City 2012

Hats off!

As for Finished Objects, in addition to the Celestial Cowl mentioned in my previous post, I banged out a couple of hats for Christmas gifts.  The Husband works outdoors so I made him a cozy toque with Spud & Chloe Fine yarn in two manly shades of grey (insert joke here), Hippo and Sidewalk.  It’s a free pattern on Ravelry, Susan B. Anderson’s Chili Pepper Hat. I looks great as a hipster slouch and also as a watch cap with the striped cuff turned up.

Chili Pepper Hat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, I whipped up a Felicity hat (another free pattern).  This more than slightly crappy picture doesn’t show how pretty this colour is.  This pattern is perfect for the rustic thick-and-thin Manos del Uruguay Wool Classica in Lime.

Felicity hat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miscellaneous ongoing WIPs

I’m continuing to work on my Cashmere Chili Pepper – holy doodle, is this Handmaiden Cashmere ever soft!  (Attention anyone who might be hoping this is a gift: sorry, this one’s mos def for me.)

Cashmere Chili Pepper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As well, I’m forging on with my Snowbird Cardigan. After completing the yoke, I’m now about a quarter of the way through the first sleeve, which I’m working on DPNs because I hate seaming with a passion (although not as much as I hate using bobbins).  Can’t wait to wear this.  It’s a quintessential cozy cardi.

Next – I love you Twist Collective!

Up next, I’ll weigh in on my favourites from the Winter 2012 issue of Twist Collective.  (There are so many that it needs a separate post!)

 

Report from Circle Craft 2012: Indigo Moon Yarns

I’m over the moon about Indigo Moon Yarns

Last Friday, after a busy day at the sausage factory, I nipped over to the Circle Craft Christmas Market at the Convention Centre in Vancouver.  Yes, there were galloons of very talented artisans on hand with their beautiful wares, but my main purpose of going was to see my lovely friend Trish Moon and to moon over her ridiculously stunning hand-dyed Indigo Moon yarns.  Circle Craft was her last show of 2012 so it was my last chance to see her until next year.  I’m so supposed to be on a yarn diet (these two words should never appear together) so I had pre-limited myself to buying only two skeins of yarn.

I don’t like the pics my BlackBerry takes – so blurry!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In particular, I couldn’t wait to see her 100% Merino Wool Worsted in the lovely colourway, Celestial Blue.  A cowl made with the yarn was on display in her booth and, believe me, neither the yarn or the cowl disappointed.  I’ve discovered that, at least with technology available to me, it is practically impossible to take a photo that even remotely does this yarn justice.  There is such depth and richness of colour and the stitch definition is just plain ridiculous that you have to see it with your own eyes to believe it.  The pic below comes very close to capturing the shimmering night-sky blues in this yarn. Trish is a true master dyer – her work is simply magical.

Pure gorgeousness!

A Noble Cowl

As soon as I got home that night, I cast on the same lacy cowl that was on display in Trish’s booth, A Noble Cowl (bonus: it’s a free pattern on Ravelry!).  It required only a single skein of yarn (185 m/200 yds), however, if you use a slightly bigger needle than called for, knit a little loose or use a bind-off that uses a lot of yarn (I used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off which famously sucks up yarn but is perfect for edges that need a lot of give), you may run out of yarn, like I did.  To avoid that and the weeping that may ensue, you might want to work a lifeline towards the end of the pattern, just in case.  I ended up unpicking the last couple of rows of the pattern and as you can tell from the pic, no harm was done, and I used all but about 30 cm of the yarn.  The pic below was taken in sunlight, which brings out the turquoise undertones.

A Noble Cowl in Celestial Blue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Berries Sock Yarn

I was also eager to see Trish’s deliciously squishy Blue-Faced Leiscester sock yarn in the juicy Wild Berries colourway.  A sample shawl was on display in her booth (you can see it in the pic at the top of this post) and as predicted, I was unable to resist this yarn either.  Think fuchsia-purple-raspberry and you’ll get the picture.  I have to meditate on what to make with this yarn – it’s so touchable and beautiful to gaze upon that I will likely make a cowl, scarf or shawl – something that will show it off.  While it would make spectacular socks, it seems a shame to hide this yarn under pant legs or tucked into shoes.

BFL sock in Wild Berries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to the woolly BFL sheep for this lovely yarn

More than just yarn – weaving too!

Trish Moon is famous for her beautiful hand-dyed yarn, but you may not be aware that she is also a master weaver.  On the Weavings page of her site, you’ll find luxurious silk and wool shawls, wraps, scarves and blankets, all drapey and soft and made with her gorgeous hand-dyed yarns.  Delightfully, she also makes the loveliest hand-woven 100% cotton tea towels, again in billions of yummy colours – so pretty you’ll actually want to dry the dishes!  Look what I came home with (thanks again, Trish – you’re the best!)

Hand-woven 100% cotton tea towel – pure luxury!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fingers crossed that Indigo Moon Yarns will be at Knit City again next year (I know where I’ll be on October 26-27, 2013).

Me with the hugely talented and very lovely Trish Moon at Circle Craft (note to self: never take pictures with a BlackBerry!)

 

Rose Song, Zen Cardigan and Shit Knitters Say

Snowbird Rose Song Shawl – Carol Feller

Carol Feller (aka Littlefellers of www.stolenstitches.com) is one of those designers whose work I just adore. She’s a master of textured fabric – I just love what she does with cables and YOs. I’ll never live long enough to make all of my favourite Stolen Stitches designs, but crossed off my bucket list this week: her Rose Song shawl. Not only is it probably the fastest shawl you’ll ever make (I zipped it off in less than 24 hours – you gotta love 8 mm needles), but it’s simply beautiful. And as always with Carol’s creations, the pattern is well-written and easy to follow.

Snowbird Rose Song – blocking

Carol Feller’s original Rose Song

I fell in love with the yummy fuschia yarn she used for the original, Fyberspates Chunky Scrumptious Solid, but knew I’d have to substitute something more affordable. Turns out I didn’t have to go shopping for yarn at all. After finishing my POP Blanket, I had heaps of cream Cascade Yarns Ecological Wool left over. I hadn’t envisioned my Rose Song in creamy winter white, but it works beautifully. Not only did it knit perfectly to gauge, but I think it’s gorgeous and who doesn’t love a white rose?

Snowbird Rose

Another FO – Zen Cardigan

I’m especially happy with my Zen Cardigan. The yarn is perfect (it washes and machine dries very nicely) and it’s just adorable with the little shell buttons. I also whipped up a coordinating beret from Debbie Bliss’ Simply Baby. Just the thing for a well-dressed baby girl about town.

Zen Cardigan

 

 

 

 

 

Une petite béret

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shit Knitters Say

I love this! I especially like the reference to sneaking yarn into the house. “My husband can’t know I’ve bought more yarn.”

Enjoy – and happy knitting y’all!

Test-knitting, an FO and the Yarn Harlot in Vancouver

Okay, enough pet-peeving. Let’s get back to what really matters: knitting and stuff I’ve been working on!

Now and Zen (Cardigan, that is)

When I first clapped eyes on al-abrigo‘s Zen Cardigan a few weeks ago, I knew I must make it. The pattern wasn’t available yet so I just added it to the favourites pile for future reference. Of course, I have no particular babies to knit for but if a certain someone’s next grandchild is a girl, this is for her. Otherwise, I’ll tuck it away in the gift stash.  Anyhoo, I’m minding my own business trolling Ravelry as I’m wont to do when suddenly I see an opportunity to test knit Zen. Hmmm. Let me think it over. Not!  No thinking required! Of course I volunteered immediately and, as soon as humanly possible, cast on for the 12-18 months size.

It calls for a sport weight yarn so straight away I think of Baby Cashmerino by Debbie Bliss in a deliciously delicate pale, pale lilac that I found at Urban Yarns in Edgemont Village. Here it is in progress. Ain’t it purdy?

Zen Cardigan in progress

Some people like to dis Debbie Bliss yarns but Baby Cashmerino really is lovely. Yes, it’s pricey but dammit, don’t all little babies need at least one expensive handknit woolie made with love? Besides, DB’s colours are scrumptious. And this yarn is good for gifting – no need for the harried new mom to worry too much about hand washing. I’ve got four skeins which is enough for the cardi and a wee matching Parisian beret, non?

Baby Cashmerino – pale lilac

FO Update – Willow Tweed Aranami Shawl

As a human magpie, if something isn’t shiny and right in front of my face, I forget about it and it falls off my radar. Anyway, I’m crawling on the floor of my knitting room the other day arranging the layout of the jolly squares for POP Blanket, and I see folded ever so neatly on the daybed my luscious Willow Tweed Aranami Shawl and it occurred to me that I have failed to share an FO photo of it with the world.  Here it is, resplendent in my back garden:

Willow Tweed Aranami in my backyard

This is one of my very most favourite projects. It’s soooooo nice to touch, it’s soft and squishy and just warm enough to keep the chill off your neck when walking the dog late on a summer’s night. (Okay, if you live anywhere else but Vancouver, you’re thinking: what? Chilly on a summer night? WTF? But in Vancouver, nine times out of ten, it can get dang cold on July evenings.)

Yarn Harlot – Knitting for Speed and Efficiency

Thanks to Knit Social for a fun evening on July 12. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee was in town to teach the rabble how to knit faster in her class Knitting for Speed and Efficiency at the downtown branch of the Vancouver Public Library.

Lord knows I could stand to pick up the pace. If I want to use up even half of the yarn stored under the beds, in the closets and under the floorboards before my 100th birthday, I’m going to have to go into overdrive.

Of course, the number one way to knit faster is this: Stop knitting so bloody slow. Thankfully, Stephanie didn’t actually say that to us. Instead, she gave us a very entertaining talk about the history of knitting, why the modern knitter is so slow and gave us tips to increase our speed. We learned how the craft evolved from being a way for the great unwashed to earn a living while tromping across the moors (they enjoyed eating at least once a day and were therefore serious speed knitters) to a pleasant way for the great washed to while away empty afternoons in the drawing-room while Bates and Mrs. Hughes scurried about understairs decanting wine and admonishing scullery maids.

I often walk while knitting but usually look slightly less grim than our little Shetland friend here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the advent of machine knitting, the uppercrusters took up the needles and “civilized” needlework by making it an idle pastime rather than a way to feed one’s family. In it’s newly respectable incarnation, knitting was no longer a race against time, but a way to squander your afternoons. Much like Pinterest and Ravelry are nowadays.

Our grandmothers learned the “slow” Victorian way to knit which they in turn taught us, rather than the super-speedy “lever” method of the peasantry that Stephanie then showed us. Check this video of Stephanie demonstrating the lever method using long straight needles, with the right one stuck under her arm. Very interesting, no?

It was definitely fun and eye-opening to learn a new method. I’ll likely not be switching to lever knitting any time soon, but I have refined my technique to make my “throwing” hand move more lever-like and have therefore definitely increased my speed. Also, by “spring-loading” the stitches on your left needle and consciously eliminating extraneous hand and finger movements (including stopping every row to admire one’s work), you experience less fatigue and can go faster than before. Plus, Stephanie is a very engaging speaker and we all had loads of fun learning from her.  It was a great group of knitters.

Thanks again to Knit Social – by the way, can’t wait for Knit City this October!

Summertime, and the knittin’ is easy

POP Blanket – Loving it!

I sat in the shade under the blossoming weigela tree, the birds were sing-songing and the sun shone relentlessly.  A cool glass of lemonade within arm’s reach at all times, I knit away the hours.  This is an accurate description of how I spent my entire weekend.  No joke.  It was heaven on earth.  I prepared no meals, did no housework (except for unloading the dishwasher once and running a load of laundry on Sunday afternoon) and the only exertion my brain suffered was calculating how much more yarn I was going to need to finish my POP Blanket and wondering what DH was going to make me for dinner.  (Don’t worry, I know exactly how lucky I am.)

POP is gorgeous and one of my very most favourite projects ever.  I had never knit with Noro before so Kureyon was my baptism.  I had always thought it just too scratchy for a delicate flower such as myself.  But in fact, Kureyon is really quite lovely, especially after blocking.  And the colours are a.maze.ing.  Urban Yarns in Edgemont has a good selection of colours, by the way, along with lots of Cascade Ecological Wool in cream for the background colour.  Even though it’s lovely and summery right now, part of me is looking forward to fall and my Sunday afternoon naps, snuggled under POP.

So far, I’ve completed almost 30 squares and they’re blocking out to be about 5¾” square.  I’ll probably make at least 35 (5 squares x 7 squares).  We’ll see how big it turns out.

Pop in progress – FYI blocking these squares uses a LOT of T-pins!

 

Yarn Harlot tonight

Knit Social is presenting Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (aka the Yarn Harlot) at the Vancouver Public Library downtown today – she’s given two classes (afternoon and evening) called Knitting for Speed and Efficiency.  She also gave a talk last night called “This is Your Brain on Knitting” which, by all accounts was hugely entertaining. I’m not the slowest knitter in the world but will surely benefit from kicking it up a notch.

My queue and stash are expanding exponentially every year and unless I can speed up a little, I’ll never manage to finish everything on my list before I go to the big LYS in the sky.  (Which is far from imminent, but still.  Oh, can you imagine what the yarn store in heaven is like?  My guess is there is a great deal of cashmere.  Sigh.  Assuming that’s where I’m going, of course.)  I did a little calculating and even if I’m reincarnated three or four times, I’ll likely never live long enough to use up all my yarn or knit everything in my queue.

Which reminds me:  Knit Social will be opening up class registration for this October’s Knit City at 8:00 a.m. on August 1.  I’m thinking of registering for the Two Socks in One class.  The idea of making two socks at the same time, one inside the other, is intriguing.  And providing one doesn’t screw it up too much, could be faster than doing them one at a time.  Click the poster below from the Knit Social website for info.

Hetty’s Sunday Cuffs – Thank you to Lady Alice

Another finished object for the pile:  Hetty’s Sunday Cuffs, the cover project from the splendiferous Summer 2012 issue of Jane Austen Knits.  The very thoughtful and fellow Queen-adoring Lady Alice brought me a tin of Fortnum & Mason’s special Jubilee tea from her recent trip to Ye Olde Londontown.  She would brook no recompense so I was forced to knit her something in appreciation.  Thus, Hetty’s Sunday Cuffs.  In Spud & Chloë’s beautiful Fine yarn, they are just the thing for a card-carrying Jane Austen Society member to be worn when reading in bed on a winter’s eve.  Nothing worse than having damned chilly wrists when one is trying to enjoy a little Sense and Sensibility.

Hetty’s Sunday Cuffs in Spud & Chloe Fine

Fortnum & Mason’s Jubilee Tea

 

 

 

 

Knitting and other Jubilations

Whatever have I been doing?  Why, enjoying the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and knitting of course.

Willow Tweed Aranami Shawl

Since my last post, I managed to finish my Willow Tweed Aranami shawl.  The yarn is absolutely heavenly and the finished product is drapey, silky and cozy with just enough weight.  And because it knits up with a slightly larger gauge than the original, it’s extra long so wraps very luxuriously –  I absolutely love it.   Olga Buraya-Kefelian’s (aka olgajazzy) original pattern calls for using Brooklyn Tweed’s Loft but being a cheapskate, I decided instead to use Louisa Harding’s Willow Tweed that was on sale on Elann at the time.  I improvised the colour gradations and am very happy with the result.  Fortunately (sadly), the weather in Vancouver is so terrible that I’ve had loads of opportunities to wear my beautiful Aranami.  Because there have been virtually no sunny days for ages, I haven’t had a chance to make a pretty picture of the finished shawl, so this one will have to do until the clouds finally decide to leave:

Weaving in the ends…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unsinkable

When I became consumed with my Aranami, I had laid aside my previous obsession, Kirsten Kapur’s incredibly beautiful Unsinkable, a shawl/wrap/scarf of unrivalled gorgeosity.  I bought the kit from Wooly Wonka Fibers – the yarn is an unspeakably soft and squishy Merino/Silk/Metallic blend called Arianrhod Sock and the colour is Iceberg, a icy blue-green with a faint starry-night sparkle.  As soon as I’m done a test-knit I’m working on, I’ll get back to Unsinkable.  If summer doesn’t show up soon, I’m going to need this yummy shawl sooner rather than later.

Unsinkable in progress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Iceberg” Wooly Wonka Fibers Arianrhod Sock

 

 

Tea and the Diamond Jubilee

Anyone who knows me knows that I am mental for the Royal Family and adore the Queen.  So of course, I got up early on Sunday morning to watch the Royal Flotilla up the Thames.  Amazing to see the old bird and Prince Philip standing the entire time!  Too bad the DoE had a bit of back luck with the old bladder the next day and missed the rest of the Jubilee fun.  Of course, I drank a great deal of Murchies’ Diamond Jubilee tea this weekend (naturally, this is something I would have done anyway, but the special occasion made it all the more fun).  I alternated between using my special Royal Worcester commemorative tea cup (which you can see is 100% Queen approved) and the one I just bought from Crown & Crumpet (the prettiest place in the world!) whilst on vacay in San Francisco recently.

Tea with the Queen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Naturally, this is what I drank all weekend (in between G&Ts, of course)

 

 

 

 

Well, that’s all for now.  Remain on the edges of your tuffets, my muffets, for more very soon!  Now I must away.

Blame it on Downton Abbey

I shan’t waste time with excuses as to why I haven’t posted in so long.  However, I will say that my obsession with all things Downton Abbey have so utterly consumed me that I’ve barely had time to live my own life, what will all the fretting over Lady Mary and Matthew & Co.  And heavens, whatever will become of Lady Edith and Bates ‘n Anna?  And O’Brien and her evil soap – she almost came clean as Lady Cora teetered on death’s precipice.  I did so much breath-holding and hand wringing in season 2 that I just about succumbed to the vapours several times.

Oh Matthew!  Oh Mary!

Anyway, I’ve been knitting a fair bit whilst glued to the TV and managed to complete a few projects since my last scribbles.  I’m especially pleased with a lovely Tuesday Night Cowl for my SIL, a Fun and Fast Tea Cozy for her birthday, FINALLY finishing my favourite gloves ever, Shibui’s Transition Gloves, a Baby Bolero for the gift stash, DH’s Elementary Watson SocksVancouver Fog Mitts for my BFF for Xmas, a Cladonia Shawl with yarn at got from Elann.com for a song, a Skull & Crossbones Argyle dog coat for a friend’s beloved pet, a sweet sweater for MY beloved Lottie, a Cherry Garcia for The Girl, and cashmere Midsummer Night’s Dream Socks pour moi, not necessarily in that order.  Phew!  Oh, and a Gaufre Beret by Veronik Avery from some luscious St-Denis Sommet.

Fun and Fast Tea Cozy – 100% Queen approved!

So I may not have written and goddamn thing since November, but at least I made myself useful and turned string into beautiful things! 

 New projects in progress include Veronik’s Lace Weekend Socks from St-Denis Magazine Issue 3 in her Boreale yarn – really lovely to work with, so soft and wooly!  I’m also finishing up a beautiful beaded Kinetic Mystery KAL by Laura Nelkin.  It’s not really a mystery anymore and I’m now officially in the “plodders” group.  I honestly don’t know how people can finish such complicated stuff so quickly!

Next up:  beauty-ful new yarn and some book reviews, including the reissued The Principles of Knitting by the legendary June Simmons Hiatt and Clara Parkes’ The Knitter’s Book of Socks, and perhaps a paragraph or two about my obsession with Pinterest

The Knitter's Book of Socks: The Yarn Lover's Ultimate Guide to Creating Socks That Fit Well, Feel Great, and Last a Lifetime

The Principles of Knitting