Challenge and Reward


I had a challenging week. The good kind of challenging where I got to stretch myself, try new things, learn stuff and remember that I really like my job. But it was also a sixty hour week where I was ON for three days and I was exhausted at the end.

I dragged myself to The Knitter's Frolic and I'm glad I did. Being around knitters and the yarn was restorative. I got to see my knitting peeps and get inspired with new yarn and projects.

I'm sorry if I didn't chat very much when I saw you. I was seriously done with being social. I actually used up all my extroverted self (and if you know me, you'll find that staggering). We should get together and knit some time and I'll make it up to you.

My favourite purchase was a Tornadoz gradient box from Indigodragonfly.

The colours glow. I started an easy cowl and am in the second colour already. I needed a new project to celebrate Spring and getting through my challenge. (It doesn't glow in the dark though--trust me it's beautiful.)

 



Slow Scarfing

I'm a product knitter. I like having finished pieces. I like blocking and seaming and weaving in ends because they represent getting something done, and the opportunity to start another new project.

But some knits start out great and then lose their appeal. The pattern is too complicated for my current headspace or I like the finished project but not the knitting itself. Or the yarn/needle combination isn't right. Or I start a heavy mohair thing in April and can't stand to touch it when the weather warms up (I could probably start a mohair King sized blanket this year because it's never going to get warm).

The beautiful Kirkingwood Paisley shawl I'm working on is one of those slow projects. I feel in love with it the moment I saw it (Fiona was knitting it on my couch the first time we met in person*) and bought the pattern and Indigodragonfly yarn as soon as it was available at the 2014 Knitter's Frolic.

I realize that it's almost been a year since I started the scarf and I'm wanting it's beautiful red silkiness around my neck and I'm only 41 rows into a 70 row pattern. This is slow scarfing. I'm making the biggest size and it takes almost an hour to knit a row.

It's not really a pick up, knit a bit and go stir the soup kind of knit. That's okay, there should be long, slow, meticulous patterns. They're good for the brain and they make very pretty things. Just look at how some cables and lace make paisleys--genius.

To get this done, I'm following some advice I read from some wise knitter: spend 10 minutes a day on the stalled projects to move them along. I don't get to this one all the time, but much like the trick I play on myself to run when I don't want to, just picking up and committing to only a short time with this knit is resulting in some beautiful and enjoyable knitting.

Will I have it done by this year's Frolic? Probably not, but will it sit in the basket for years? Nope. Only 30 rows before the garter stitch. I freakin love garter stitch...


*I don't randomly invite fabulous knitting designers to my house--we have mutual friends who were visiting and we all like good yarn and good beers. Though on reflection, I should invite more people like Fiona over because good things happen.

 


Carnaby skirt


I finished my skirt! I rather like it!



And because the cold weather is never going to stop, I've even happy opportunities to wear it.



It's a good fit, but does stretch a bit. I'm planning to reinforce the waist with grosgrain ribbon, or pick up stitches and do a waistband and add an elastic.



The tweed yarn is perfect. It's not very soft, but it's sturdy and firm. It's a cone from the back catalogue of my stash and I still have enough left for a sweater.


And I know I was pessimistic about ever getting this done. And to that I say:



We will ignore the fact that I finished it weeks ago, had to sew the buttons on 3 times to get the fit right and am just blogging about it now.


Knitting = Me Time

Lots of work and lots of parenting really cuts into knitting. I missed having a hour in front of the TV to relax with my knitting and make something that doesn't involve a computer.

I also realized that not taking that time for myself is not a good thing. I get grumpy when I don't have time for myself to do something that I enjoy. Turns out the Purple Purl newsletter gave me a nudge and I found a project that made me want to take the time and make something.

The Purple Purl was hosting a knit-along of the Seasons Hat.  Gripped by the longest coldest February I've experienced in Toronto, another hat seemed like a good thing to knit and I had yarn leftover from my much-loved Vinterblomster mittens which would make a nice coordinated, but not matchy-matchy set, so I was IN.

Less than a week later, I was almost done the colour work.  Every time I do a colour project I remember that one of the main reasons I knit is COLOUR.  I love pulling out the yarn and figuring out what colours to use.  This time I had the three Vinterblomster colours and added orange and a lighter grey.  

I find it hard to stop knitting when I start colour bands--I want to see how they'll turn out.  I also just enjoyed this yarn, the ease of the project and gave myself the time to get it done.

It took a mere 10 days.  It's perfect. 

 My photography is not so great.  I seem to always finish things at night!

 And this hat became part of my favourite instagram selfie ever.

I accidentally hit the button while turning to get better light.  (Let's keep that as our secret.) 


A List

1. Julia in KW was the winner of the Burton Hills Coat pattern!  Hooray Julia!

2. I am never going to finish my Carnaby Skirt.  Ever.

3. I don't know why Carnaby is such a slog, but right now everything else wooly is tempting me.  

4. Temptation One: A headband for my SIL.  Elisbeth in Shelter.  So nice to knit with.  Fun pattern.

5. Temptation Two: I liked it so much I made the hat for myself with another odd ball of Shelter. 

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6. Temptation Three: Seasons Hat whereby I joined the Purple Purl KAL and almost finished it in a weekend except that I decided to finish Carnaby dammit.

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7. Did you know I didn't type temptation properly in any of the above?

8. I'm at the buttonholes for Carnaby but it will never get done. 

9. I really want to finish this skirt so I can wear it once before Spring.  The yarn on the cone covered in spinning oils is unpleasant to work with, but washed up it's perfect--brown, hardwearing, tweedy.

10. I'll shut up and go knit now.

 


Burton Hills Coat: From Folly Cove

If you've been following the From Folly Cove Blog Tour, I'm betting you've been drooling over the beautiful designs from Julia Farwell-Clay.  Butterflies, a dress, a skirt, shawls and wraps, snazzy-dress-to-impress-pieces and cozy-frolicking-in-the-garden-knits.

While I want to embody the gorgeous style that is the cover piece of Julia's book (featured yesterday on Getting Stitched on the Farm), I'm not really the flowing hair, ribboned-beret type.  

Today's featured pattern, the Burton Hills Jacket, IS me.  It's an innovative knit that makes a wear-anywear jacket.  I'm also not willowy, so the proportions and lines of this coat suit my figure.  

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Julia is a SMART woman and a CRAFTY knitter.  This is interesting knitting.  It's got an element of challenge, but it's not a follow-every-square-on-the-chart difficult.  

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I love the swooping lines and that touch of a colour change which gives those lines some emphasis.  I'm also a sucker for the woodsy colours.

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It's knit in Blackthorn by Classic Elite Yarns.  This would be an awesome kit to have and Classic Elite is giving away yarn to a lucky winner who comments on their blog at the end of the tour on February 6th (I'll wait while you go and bookmark their blog).

And this week only, the all the patterns in the From Folly Cover collection including the Burton Hills jacket are 10% off on Ravelry using the code: FFC10.  

And!

One lucky commenter on my blog will receive a free copy of the Burton Hills Jacket pattern.  

So tell me what kind of knit you like to wear vs what kind of knit you sorta wish you wore and I'll choose one of you at random and let Classic Elite know you're the winner!  Comments close at midnight EST on February 6th.

While Burton Hills is going into my queue, I'm also excited about the Natti pullover which will be featured tomorrow on Ana Campos' Toil and Trouble blog.  Be sure to check it out.


Blogging like it's 2007...A Blog Tour!

The fabulous and talented Julia Farwell-Clay has a new book out and she's cleverly organized a blog tour to promote her beautiful designs. Remember blog tours? I loved reading them!

The book is called From Folly Cove and is full of lovely wearable knits. I'm one of the last stops on the tour so I don't want to say too much. But there are contests! And discounts! Classic Elite, the publisher of the collection is even giving one lucky winner yarn to knit whatever design from the book they choose.

Check it out on Julia's blog or Ravelry.

 

 


Sixteen

(Let's pretend this post happened on January 14th.)

Happy Birthday Emma.

Wow. 16.

It seems like the perfect time for your friends to treat you like a princess. I love that you are surrounded by people who love you for the fun, enthusiastic, joyful person that you are.

 
And it was smart of you not to assume the birthday princess role and try to stage a coup d'état at home. You're a great kid who is kind and helpful and knows when to push for things you want and mostly when to lay off.
 
I'm glad you like that rings we got you. The sunshine reminded me of the necklace you made at your 7th birthday when we did the bead party.
 
You wore that necklace for years; we restrung it when the cord broke, changed the sun pendant when it literally wore down to a blob (I'm a little disturbed to think of what it was made of).

 
This ring is a grown up, more permanent version.

I hope this year is amazing for you!
 

 


Catching Up, #WomanWhoGetsShitDone Style

One of the greatest things about my job is that we close for two weeks over Christmas.  Not only do I have two weeks off (on top of my holiday allotment) everyone else does too--I get nothing but spam in my inbox while I'm away and there's no work piling up.  Everyone returns pretty happy and refreshed and it's probably the BEST benefit ever.

The first week does tend to get sucked up by the run up to Christmas--shopping, cleaning or travelling, parties, and that initial need to sleep as much as possible.  

It was worth it for looks like this:

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Santa Meme and Memere got him the WiiU he's been wanting since they came out.

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The time after Christmas is far far better in my mind.  It's quiet. We're all home (Craig gets almost the same time off from his employer) and while we're a bit lazy, we also catch up.  We have pyjama days, movie nights, lots of computer game time, and for me, a whole lot of fibre fun.

I finished a few things.  Sallah Cowl in Indigodragonfly Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock

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A Frankensweater in Collinette Tagliatelli.  It used to be this sweater that I frogged.  And then it was supposed to be a proper Collinette pattern but everything went wrong so I winged it.  The collar and cuffs are some leftovers from my Carnaby Street sweater and it's a super jaunty oversized sweater on Emma (I may borrow it, but fear my jaunty days are long passed).

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I even warped the loom!

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In between all this, I got crazy and catalogued my entire stash of yarn and fibre--it's now all photographed and logged on Ravelry.  Tomorrow I'll probably download and see if I hit "stash neutral" for 2014 (where I used at least the same amount of yarn that I brought in).  I put a few things in the goodwill pile and had a nice hard look at what I have. 

I love it all.  But I should probably knit, spin and weave from what I have for a bit.

I went for a few runs--that felt good.  I will say that I don't think the TVT surgery worked as well as I hoped--I still leak a bit.  It's MUCH better than before, but I was hoping for perfection and well, that may take a bit more time.  At least I can cough and sneeze and stay dry.  

I saw some friends, had some beers, read a book, took a long bath, and baked.

Then I went into full #womanwhogetsshitdone mode and finally filed all the kids school memories and report cards into their memory books--I was about two years behind.  And all of our Epic Road Trip photos are now downloaded, put on Flickr and backed up on the external drive.

Like I said, this break is for Catching Up--I don't fool around.


How to shorten a mitten cuff in ten years or less

Stranded mittens are beautiful but I find getting the fit right can be a challenge since the colour work pattern will determine the size of the mitten and row gauge (something I almost never seem to knit to) is crucial.

If the mitten has a cuff without the main pattern there's a opportunity to adjust the length a bit but again I can't always tells how it will all come together AND interact with my various coat sleeves. I like my winter outerwear to be free of gaps to I can keep warm.

I made these mittens almost ten years ago, wear them often, but never liked the length of the cuffs. They are a bit too long and bunch up against my coat sleeves or I have to tuck them in like when I was a kid, but I have no mom to do the second sleeve (remember when your mom did that?)

Last week I decided to fix them by shortening the cuff. Crazy? A little. But I got out my scissors and got brave.

The pictures are of the second mitten. The first one took a LOT longer and had to be redone after the second mitten because it was longer and I didn't like the bind off. Hacking an old knit can take a lot of time and may yield unexpected issues.

Step one: figure out how much you want to remove and use a stitch marker to hold that stitch. I used my absolutely perfect Fiddlehead mittens as a guide. Also, I found that I ended up taking off an extra row or two because the corrugated ribbing is more complicated to undo, so plan for that.

Step two: cut, yes snip, one stitch and start unravelling that row. It's a bit like doing a reverse Kitchener and is a bit fiddly. I found it easier to use a needle to unpick the stitches. These mittens are well worn and the stitches are happy and snug where they are.

 
I'm about halfway here. Don't worry too much about the live stitches. Knitting doesn't easier unravel this direction so the stitches will stay put until you need them.
 
 
Step three: once the cuff is off, use smaller than called for needles (guess if your mittens and really old and you have no idea what needles you used) pick up the live stitches. They're a bit weird with the two colour ribbing and because they're upside down, but the idea is to get all the stitches back on the needles. You might have to unpick another row to get this accomplished.
 
Step four: this one is easy. Knit a row. I used the brown yarn because it was the colour I used for the cast on and would be the one I'd use to bind off. There was no way I would try to do any ribbing on these.
 
Step five: with a larger needle, bind off neatly. This took me a few tries. A sewn bind off would have been really nice, as would an icord, but at this point I wanted them finished.
 
Step six: try on an admire. Now the mittens graze the cuff of my coat without bunching!
 
 
Should have done this year's ago. I'm wearing them a lot more now.