NaKniSweMo – try to say that 5 times fast!

November 13th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

NaKniSweMo is on!  For anyone not familiar with this acronym, it stands for National Knit [a] Sweater Month, and information about what it is/how its done is here.  Due to my overachieving nature Christmas knitting schedule of 3 sweaters for my nephews, I am participating this year.  This type of event is done on a voluntary basis, and there is no prize or committee to congratulate one’s success on actually knitting a sweater during the month of November.  Rather, it serves as a personal challenge to get a sweater done – especially if its mocking you from your yarn stash & project queue.  There’s also a Ravelry group to cheer you on if you need it.

But I need to backtrack for a moment and report that yes indeedy, nephew sweater #1 is done!  I haven’t blocked it yet, and given that it’s a Christmas (ahhhhh, the C-word!) gift, I’m going to do my regular project run-down with details later on.  Here’s a photo of the completed sweater though.  My only concern is whether the hole is big enough for a head to fit through.  It looks a bit small to me, but perhaps it will block bigger.  Here’s a pic of the pre-blocked finished “Twisted Tree” sweater:

twisted tree

And now onto the actual NaKniSweMo project I have going on – nephew sweater #2!  So far, I am absolutely loving this pattern, Soledad.  Its traversing cables are lovely and the pattern is very intuitive.  Here’s how much I’ve managed to knit up since casting on (size = age 4) on Saturday evening:

Soledad in progress

Not bad huh?  Its making me feel much less anxious about the fact that I still have a whole other kid sweater to knit before C-day.  Perhaps one day I’ll figure out the math and make one of these Soledad sweaters for myself.  I really do like this pattern that much.

I’m off to Mexico on Friday for about a week, and will be taking this sweater with me.  Who knows, I may come back with a tan and a completed sweater.  I can only hope…

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Knit City Round-Up

October 30th, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

This past weekend was the 2nd Annual Knit City event here in Vancouver.  The event was held over two days and included workshops, knit-ins, a talk by the Yarn Harlot (who also wrote a blog about her experience of the event), and of course, the ever-tempting marketplace. 

I wasn’t originally planning on going to Knit City this year because I wasn’t really feeling the call to take a class, and I have heard the Yarn Harlot give a speech before.  I was planning on having a quiet weekend to myself, knowing full well that I would be hearing about all the classes and yarn purchases from my knittas the following weekend.  That plan was shot though, when my regular Sunday knitting group decided to hold the meet-up at the Knit City event.  The fates had decided for me that I was going…

Whenever I know that I’m going to a craft event that features a marketplace full of delectable fibre goodies, I try to come up with a plan of attack…  In previous years, I would kind of lose all sense of space, time, and knowledge of available funds in my bank account.  All I would see was aisles of local and international retailers selling me the crafter’s version of crack – YARN. PROJECT BAGS. SPINDLES. ROVING. BUTTONS. SHAWL PINS. EMBROIDERY DOODADS etc. Its hard not to start salivating when seeing these goodies laid out so prettily.  Well, after a few years of succumbing to marketplace madness, I developed a pragmatists’ approach to these venues:

  1. Have a yarn budget and/or skein limit
  2. Tour the entire marketplace before buying anything first – take it all in
  3. Make a must-have list for projects that will actually happen and not just in my wildest dreams
  4. Allow 1 treat of minimal value to offset the need to buy everything in sight just because its pretty

 

This strategy seemed to work pretty well last weekend, and I’m happy to say that I was successful in keeping to my budget.  I have actual plans for the yarn that I bought :-)  And doing the tour of the marketplace first brought me face-to-face with several vendors that I have not seen in years and that I’m rather fond of/close to.  Such as Muse Fibre Works – Shannon is a long-time indie-dyer that I met many years ago at Gibsons Fibre Art Festival.  She’s local to Vancouver, and her yarns come in beautiful colours and wear well.   I bought 2 skeins of yarn from her:
Muse yarn
The blue tonal yarn is a worsted/aran weight yarn that will become a hat for my boyfriend.  I have a pattern waiting in the wings for that yarn, but I’m keeping it under-wraps as its for Christmas (there’s that darn C-word again).  The plum yarn is a sock yarn that I’m saving for myself.  I have often lusted after patterned socks listed on Ravelry, but 99% of the time all I have in my stash is a variegated or self-striping yarn that would obliterate the pattern from being seen for the colours.  I don’t have a pattern waiting in the wings for this plum sock yarn yet, but I’m already day-dreaming about having lovely plum tootsies.  The other item in this photo is a shawl pin by Pollika (another local supplier).  In total, I spent $42.50 in the market.  I call that a success!

In other news, I’m thisclose to finishing nephew sweater #1.  And I’m planning on knitting nephew #2’s sweater all within the month of November as part of the NaNoSweMo or National November Sweater knitting Month.  But really, maybe I’m just way to ambitious for my own good when it comes to knitting.  Only time will tell!

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Around and around

October 21st, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

The seasons have changed, and once again the wheel of the year has turned around and its officially autumn.  I also seem to find myself going around town trying to do all the things without depleting my energy during this time of gathering in.  And I seem to be knitting many projects in the round these days as well – although I suppose that isn’t all that surprising to those who know that I have no love for knitting things flat and then seaming them.  There’s a freedom that comes from knitting items in the round – it feels like second nature to me now.  I suppose that I’ve taken a cue from the Knitting Guru herself, Elizabeth Zimmerman.

My latest FO (or Finished Object for you non-Ravelry type folks) is an infinity scarf for my RMT, Jamie Davey.  What is an infinity scarf?  Well, if you have looked around town, you will have likely seen many people warming up with long, loopy scarves that can be wrapped around the head for maximum insulation from the elements.  Its basically a giant circle (or oval), and they are certainly en vogue maintenant.  Just type “infinity scarf” into a Google search and you will know what I’m talking about.

Jamie has a love of large, chunky, cozy knits.  She couldn’t find any infinity scarves that would suit her needs – must be chunky, and wolfish-grey to go with lots of items in her wardrobe.  So she commissioned me to make her an infinity scarf, and off we went to Three Bags Full to buy some yarn.  If you’ve seen my Instagram feed, you will have seen some of the photos that I posted along the way as I knitted up this scarf.

A note about Jamie – this wonderful lady has been helping me heal from my 3 car accidents with her deep tissue massages for almost the past 4 years.  She is professional, personable, and funny.  Jamie recently opened up her own business this year, huzzah!  Here she is in her office, The Treatment Room:

snug up James

She was super stoked with having her scarf done quickly in time for the colder weather.  After some indoor shots, I shooed her outside for some awesome autumnal glamour shots.

jamie in leaves

And a great close-up of the scarf here:
closeup infinity scarf

Project Details:

Project name: To Infinity, and Beyond!
Pattern: The Vortex Infinity Scarf – free pattern
Yarn: Cascade Magnum
Yardage: approximately 200 yards (still need to measure for stash-down certainty)
Needles: 10mm (US15) circular needles (on a 40″ cable)

 In other news, I’m getting close to finished on nephew sweater #1 (also knitted in the round, hehe).  I will be posting another blog with photos and info next week if all goes according to plan 😉 .  Then I need to get moving on nephew #2 and #3’s sweaters.  Sometimes I think that I’m nuts for doing 3 child sweaters for Christmas, but I know that they will go to good use and will be loved by my sweet nephews.  Well, that’s what I hope at least!

 

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Babies on the brain

September 18th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Before anyone gets excited, no – I’m NOT pregnant.  Just had to throw that out there before I get started on this post.

Its been a summer of odds & ends crafting it seems.  I focused on small projects to carry around with me as its been a rather hot & dry summer season here in the usually rainy west coast. To finish up with some leftover yarn from the items I made for my co-worker Dayna (see previous blog post), I made her a cool braided i-cord headband:

headband

Apologies for the craptacular photo, its hard to take pictures in my apartment now that the lighting has changed with the season.  I used up 13.75 yards of the same Agave Oracle yarn from my previous blog post.  Basically, I made 3 i-cords on 3.75mm DPNs and knitted for about 9 inches long before casting-off, and then braided them (including the tails) together to make a headband.  Pretty cool, huh?  Totally a design of my own!

Another quickie project that I managed to do over a day and a half is a really sweet baby hat for my co-worker Paula who is having her first child.  Here it is in all its tri-peaked glory as it blocks over a balloon.

hat

Project name: Newborn Tri-corn hat
Project pattern: Baby Tri-Peak (external link for everyone)
Yarn: Elann’s Peruvian Highland Wool, worsted weight, in colour #1898 (or kind of a dark raspberry jam colour)
Yardage: 60 yards for stashdown!
Needles: 4.5mm 16″ circular needle, 4.5 DPNs, and a tapestry needle

Here’s another photo with natural light to show colour & bonus smile of the baby-mama in question:

paula with hat

 

And now that we are half-way through September, I’m looking forward at the upcoming cold (and inevitable damp) months and that means Christmas knitting. 

While I know that most folks may run screaming from their computer screens at the mere mention of the C-word (as I shall call Christmas henceforth), as a knitter of intermediate speed with chronic pain, I need to be able to plan out my C-word knitting projects to have them completed in time.  The plan for this year (because I’m nuts) is to knit 3 sweaters (or to be specific, 2 sweaters and 1 cardigan) for my three nephews.  Luckily, I will not have to mail out any packages containing these sweaters, so I have right up until December 22 to work on things!  Also lucky for me is that these 3 boys are all under the age of 4, so that should make things go a bit faster…

The current sweater that I’m working on is for one of my nephews (for the sake of keeping things under wraps until the C-day comes around, I won’t identify whose getting what until afterwards) in a lovely green colour that should wash & wear well.  Here’s what this sweater looked like about a week & a half ago:

twisted tree in progress

That’s the sweater with 4 completed pattern repeats of twisted cable stitches running down the side “seams” of this sweater.   As of this posting, I’m on repeat #9.  So, almost ready to divide for the sleeves!  Exciting times, but I still have 2 full other baby sweaters to make – hence my blog post title.  Onwards!

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A woman about town…

August 16th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Summer can be a bit of a lull time for most knitters as its so warm & humid that the idea of working with yarn (especially wool or animal fibre yarns) seems like an obtuse idea.  No so for me, as I find ways around the heat by knitting smaller, lacier, somewhat “instant gratification” type projects. 

Since I have stalled on my purple Passion Flowers shawl (I have a couple valid excuses – I swear!), I felt it was time to get back on the knitting horse and get some projects done.  But I didn’t have anything in my queue that I really wanted for myself, so I made good on a promise to a co-worker a few months ago to make her something…

My co-worker Dayna has often admired my craftiness and had expressed interested previously in having me make something for her, with the proviso that it not interfere with any other knitting-related deadlines that I may have.  Sweet of her, huh?   I showed her a cowl pattern that I’ve had in my queue for forever (no really, its been in my queue since 2008!) that I wanted to knit and was she interested?  Hells yes!

Away we went with the pattern in hand to the LYS Wool is Not Enough where Dayna bought some gorgeous Twisted Sisters Oracle yarn in Agave.  This yarn is a delicious blend of 60% merino wool and 40% bamboo.  The yarn has that lovely sheen that only comes with bamboo, and it behaved more like a plant-fibre base rather than an animal-fibre base yarn (namely, that it didn’t have a lot of give when knitting it up).  We bought 2 skeins (= 420 yards stash-in) because the cowl looked like it would eat up more than what the pattern called for.  I suggested to Dayna that I make her a matching pair of mitts because hey, what makes a lady ready for autumn winds and temperatures?  A smart, matching set of mitts & a cowl, that’s what! 

set

Set break-down:
1) Cowl
Pattern: Eleanor from Knitty (free pattern)
Yarn: Twisted Sisters Oracle in Agave
Yardage: 174.25 yards for stash-down
Needles: 3.75mm 16″ circular and 3.5mm 16″ circular needles (pattern also called for 4mm to cast-on, but I didn’t like the baggy look of the cast-on edge when I initially started the cowl so I dropped down to the 3.75mm to cast-on instead).

just the cowl

2) Fingerless Mitts
Pattern: Foliage Lace Mitts (free pattern)
Yarn: Twisted Sisters Oracle in Agave
Yardage: 179.75 yards for stash-down
Needles: 4mm dpns
Modifications: I made a fair number of modifications to make these mitts a better fit (the pattern had no wrist-shaping) and look more finished

Wrist shaping:
Pattern repeat 5, rows 7, 9, and 11, I decreased on the inside & outside wrist (either K2tog or SSK like doing the toe of a sock) as this pattern has no shaping in it at all.

I increased during the thumb gusset part thus:
Row 1: increase on both inside/outside wrist by either M1R or M1L as appropriate.
Row 4: increased on inside wrist only
Row 10: increased on both
Row 13: increase on outside wrist only
All thumb gusset increases were M1R or M1L rather than Kfb as I don’t like the look of those increases.
I also picked up 6 rather than 5 stitches after putting the 15 sts on waste yarn to help close the gap.

Thumb:
I picked up 12 rather than 8 sts to help close the gap and divided the stitches amongst 3 needles.
Thumb was made thus:
Row 1: K all
Row 2: K1, K2tog, K to 3 sts before 3rd needle, SSK, K1, K2tog, K to end
Row 3: K to beginning of 3rd needle, K1, K2tog, then K to 3 sts before end, SSK, K1
Row 4: K all
Row 5: K1, K2tog, K to last 3 sts before end of round, SSK, K1 (20 sts)
Row 6-8: K all
Row 9: K1, K2tog, K to last 3 sts, SSK, K1
Row 10-12: K all
Cast-off

Finishing
I also wanted to make these mitts look a bit more finished as they didn’t have any ribbing around either cuffs. So I did SC around the arm cuff, and did an applied i-cord bind-off around the finger cuffs.

just the mitts

Dayna is officially (at least in my books) a woman about town. :)

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A Tale of Two Hats

July 23rd, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Summer is a great time to do little knitting (or crochet, if your interest bends in that direction) projects that keep you motivated while larger projects are on the needles.  I’ve been working on my Passion Flowers Shawl (Ravelry link) but I’ve had to stall it because the project requires pretty much all of my brain power to do with its complicated charts and lots of repeats. I’m about to start the most difficult part of the pattern with scary-large charts but I WILL DO IT. Eventually…

Here’s what it looked like on June 11 before I did the second section:
passion flowers yah

I will get back to knitting on it. I just can’t make an excuse to sit inside on a sunny evening pouring over complicated lace charts right now.

Nope, simpler projects have been calling me lately. Cue – hats!

Here goes the story:
Once upon a time I made a hat for my boyfriend. He loved it so much, he wore it every day all last winter. He would forget that it was on his head as he walked into the shower (this happened a couple of times). He asked me to make him another hat. I figured, “Heck ya! He loved the last one, so he will love whatever else I knit him.”  Assumptions do what? Oh yah, make an ass of u and me.

I asked D what colours he would like for his new hat. He said “green & blue” but failed to mention exactly which shade of green or blue (or both!) that he would like. So I went off on a search for yarn and came up with this:

Kroy sox yo

I thought that the muted colours would look awesome with his wardrobe but alas, when I showed him the yarn, he was not pleased. So I thought, “Fine, I’ll find another yarn that hopefully he will like.”  Off I went to another LYS to find man-appropriate yarn and came out with some lovely Noro that I thought was mostly green. Here’s the resulting hat:

D's hat

Project Name:  Twisted Reversible Hat
Yarn: Noro Takeuma in colourway 6, dyelot A
Yardage: 128.8 yards for stashdown (huzzah!)
Needles: 4mm 16″ circular + dpns

Then I was left with the Kroy sock yarn and wondering what to do with it. I decided to make the exact same hat but for my friend Carsen, who I have been promising to knit a hat for since last winter. So I did:

LB's hat

I had to mess around with the pattern a little to make it work because I was using fingering weight yarn for this version when the pattern calls for DK weight yarn.

Yarn: Pattons Kroy Socks FX in 1212 colourway
Yardage: 99.6 yards for stashdown (huzzah!)
Needles: 3.5mm dpns

I’ve got another few blogs in the back of my mind, so be prepared for more yarny updates in the near future!

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Getting my Dye On

July 4th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

I’ve only dyed yarn once before.  It for the Harry Potter Knitting House Cup Challenge (yes, I am that kind of nerd) and the class I was “taking” was Herbology.  So I dyed yarn using eucalyptus leaves.  It made my house smell great!  I used the yarn for a crazy teapot cozy (probably the ugliest project I’ve ever knitted, no joke), and promptly never dyed yarn again.

Until, that is, just a few days ago.  I had my rubber arm twisted by a new knitter friend, Rebecca.  There was yarn dyeing offered during Canada Day celebrations at the Fibre Art Studio on Granville Island.  We found out about it through Ravelry and signed ourselves up for 10:30am – nice and early to escape the crowds & heat! 

The yarn was dyed using dyes from Maiwa Supply (not sure if they were acid dyes or what, this wasn’t made clear at the time).  The event itself was very well organized.  Check it:

  1. They prepared skeins of sock yarn, pre-soaked and ready to dye.
  2. We showed up, buy the prepared skein(s) of sock yarn (75 or 100 gram skeins), and hand-painted them with dyes.
  3. They steamed the yarn for us to fix the dyes.
  4. We picked up your own sock yarn one hour later.

Honestly, the organization made this the easiest yarn dying experience ever!  The staff & volunteers were great, and it was a lot of fun.  I felt a bit out of my element as I’m not predominantly a dyer, so I just played like a kid with finger paints and winged it.

Here’s a pic of me & Rebecca getting our dye on:

dye this shit!

And here’s a close up of my dyed skein wrapped in saran wrap and ready for steaming:

wrapped up

And here’s the final dried creation:

Yarrrrn!

It was tough to get a good photo of the colours.  I have to say, its rather tie-dyed looking but I’m fairly happy with it.  It will be interesting to see how it knits up!  It will likely be a pair of socks for me (goodness knows that I have a lots of sock patterns queued on Ravelry!)  It is 75 grams of yarny goodness.  I suppose I’ll have to update my stash now!

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Spinning for Charity – oh what a feeling!

April 29th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Last night I dragged my spinning wheel on the bus in a large roller-duffle bag along with a bunch of wool fibre, handspun yarns, and other goodies to sell, as well as a basket in my other hand.  Why in the name of all that is holy would I attempt such a thing on a Sunday evening on an overcrowded city bus on a humid night in Vancouver?  For a charity show, that’s why! 

As mentioned in my previous blog post, I’ve been dealing with a lot of chronic pain stuff (and all that it entails) lately and I wasn’t able to make new items to sell at this charity event for the PACE Society.  So I brainstormed and came up with the idea to spin yarn for PACE at $1 for every 2 minutes spun. 

jar

The results?  $28+ was put in my jar, which equates to 56 minutes spun (almost an hour!)  I’m pretty sure I spun longer than that though, as many people were curious about what exactly I was doing.  Part of the reason why I thought the spinning wheel would make a good piece to the art show was because of the fact that it’s interactive.  People asked questions: how does spinning work? Is this what Ghandi used? (the answer to that is no, he used a charka) Why does your spinning wheel look so different than in the fairytales? (it’s a modern Lendrum, that’s why, etc).

Honestly, I love teaching people about spinning (and crafts in general) – it’s a part of our collective cultural heritage.  Where would be we without spinning?  Still wearing loincloths, that’s where!  I also love that I was able to bring in donations via live demonstration.  At one point, my friend Jessie told another friend “I can hear Siobhan making money out there” as coins were dropped into my “Spin for PACE” jar.  And while $28 doesn’t seem like an awful lot of donations, every dollar going to this charity helps. 

Thank you to everyone who came out, who donated, and was curious!

And now, for some photos…

spin it
Getting my spin on!

listening
Listening to questions from donors about spinning.

feet
Many folks commented on the fact that I was spinning barefoot – its the best way to spin as I can feel the motion of the wheel better.

More photos available on my Flickr page.  Thanks to Carolyn for taking the pics!

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What are you doing this Sunday? Oh, just spinning for charity…

April 23rd, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

This Sunday, April 28th, I will be participating in a charity event that benefits the PACE Society.  Originally, I was going to knit some cotton hats & some fingerless mitts etc to sell at the show but I had to get honest about what was going on in my life lately.  That is, I’ve been experiencing high levels of stress which has been interacting with chronic pain to make me a rather unproductive knitter lately.  I came clean with my friend Ryan (who is running the event) about how I’ve been feeling but I wanted to still contribute to the charity event in some other format.

So I meditated and came up with this idea: to spin for PACE.

Basically, for every dollar donated in my “Spin for PACE” jar, I will spin yarn on my spinning wheel for 2 minutes. I thought this would be a cool idea as its interactive, I can do some quick “teaching” about how the wheel works, and I can demonstrate how yarn is made.  Pretty cool eh?  I may incorporate this into other charity events in future as I think its a good idea.  100% of the proceeds from the spinning will be going to PACE.  I will also have some handspun yarns for sale at the event with 30% proceeds going to PACE – so come on by and help support this awesome local charity!

Event information here. And poster below.

event poster

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When warping goes awry

March 1st, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Last night I was super keen about warping my rigid heddle loom with my knitter friend Jenn to get a weaving project underway for a charity sale that I’m selling my craft items in.  I had most of the warp yarns picked out and the weft yarn as well.  Jenn was wanting to learn how to warp a loom, and learning on a rigid heddle loom is a good place to start as its fairly simple.  So away we went with loading the warp onto the loom using the finest reed I have (12.5 dpi) and everything was going smoothly as we wound the yarn onto the back beam of the loom. 

That is, until I cut the warp loop in preparation for threading, and the inertia from the wound warp uncoiled on the back beam.  Which is akin to a roll-blind boing-ing back up onto itself (I searched for an appropriate youtube video, but none to be found).  The warp could not be salvaged.  I was crestfallen as we had spent over an hour just putting the warp on the loom.  Its a good thing I was in a good mood & drinking wine, otherwise I may have burst into tears.
Here’s the waste:
loom waste
That’s a lot of cobweb-lace yarn on the floor that I can no longer use.  If you know of anyone who makes dolls, it would be good for stuffing them/hair – please comment below…

At 9:17pm, I asked Jenn if we should start again.  She said yes, and so away we went.  We motored away and managed to warp & thread my loom by 10:40pm.  Here’s the proof that we actually managed to warp, thread, and tie on the warp yarn.

The weft is also going to be cobweb lace (apparently, I’m feeling masochistic about weaving these days) that looks like this:

Jojoland
Its Jojoland Harmony in HC06 colourway – variegated yumminess .

Wish me luck on the rest of this weaving expedition!

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