You win some, you lose some

Ah, knitting, she can be a fickle mistress, giving you so much hope and happiness, and then snatching it away, but sometimes she lets you hang on to it. Case in point: my son’s sweater (apologies for the blurry pic, I’ve been having issues, as they say, with downloading my camera pictures).

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Looks pretty good, right? WRONG. The sleeves are WAY to wide at the top (I will rip back halfway and cease increasing). Too many buttons, it would take him 20 minutes to button up this beast. But the worst of it, which doesn’t show, is that the front (although in theory and by row-count is the same length as the back) actually measures 34″ from the shoulder while the back measures 30″. Why? WHY, you may ask, as I did, almost sobbing. Well, a number of factors. Back neck shaping. DON’T DO IT, when knitting a v-neck cardi with pockets. Not to mention that the back neck was way to wide. (I was following a pattern and should have listened to my gut – even if that is what George W. Bush recommends).

The pockets add weight, hands in pockets add even more. The v-neck is open and loosey-goosey compared to a crew neck, so that the back shaping slides up to the back of the neck, dropping the centre shoulder seam forward and the whole front slides down. Now I understand why for some sweaters you just cast off across the whole back or even add some shoulder shaping, RAISING the back neck (which is what I have done now). This way the back has no where to slide, because it is already snugly against the neck. In addition, I threw in a couple of short rows on the front to raise it, so when hands go in pockets, or the sweater starts to sag a bit from the weight of the pockets, it will all lie straight.

You have figured out by now that I am reknitting about half this sweater. Yes, I cut off the buttons, unraveled the collar, cut all the seams and ripped back as far as was needed. In addition to the changes mentioned above, I’m moving the v-neck higher, adding depth to the shawl collar and reducing the number of buttons. The knitting muses were conspiring against me this time, but I must say, I learned a lot from my mistakes. Even though it seems easy to just follow a pattern, it’s better to just use it as a suggestion and make the changes you think are necessary. As good ole George says, listen to your gut (except when deciding to wage war). I will take another pic when it is properly finished.

On to happier news, this! THIS!!!

31759904_unknownOMG, I am so happy with this shawl! It is called Find Your Fade, hugely popular on Ravelry (1450 projects so far). I knit it to showcase our yarn, Kathryn is picking her colours and I will knit another one – Kathryn does knit, but my fingers fly faster. Check out our Instagram feed for more colour suggestions.

img_3902I used a combo of yarns, singles, 3 ply sock, 8 ply sock, and MCN sock. It looks fine. Don’t be afraid to mix. The colours are (from right to left) Ghost, Sailor, Poppy Seed Cake, Scarab, Wicked, Twilight and Bewitched. I had a bit of crocking with Wicked and Bewitched (on all my right hand fingers too):

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There is a lot of dye in these colours and a layer of black, but the dye did not bleed at all. The first colour only uses about 20 gm of yarn, so you could use a couple of minis. I did make some changes to the pattern, I only did single yarn overs, instead of doubles; I skipped a few rows (could have skipped more) and I knit tightly so when it was washed it wouldn’t stretch out too much. The shawl as written is HUGE. Mine is a nice size I think. I even threw it in the dryer! I did not want it to stretch out. And it looks fine.

I will include one more pic because I am so freaking pumped about it!

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I also have some totally mindless knitting, also known as knitFlix:

img_3740This is the gorgeous pattern Helsinki (got the kit from Debbie Wilson at Sheeps Ahoy). It is a bottom-up sweater, but I have decided to do all my yoke sweaters, yoke first. I didn’t have the patience to recalculate to do this top-down so I cast on provisionally for the body and knit 3″, did the same for the sleeves, then joined them as per the pattern instructions and knit my yoke. This way I could try it on, make sure the armhole depth was good and now I just have to knit downwards and watch Netflix. I can easily decide how wide and how long I want it by trying it on as I go (I wasn’t sure if wanted to make the 37 or the 40, I knit a 37 yoke but might widen the body, we’ll see). I plan on doing all my Kate Davies sweaters this way too. I just love the colour choices, the yoke positively glows. Of course with all my other projects on the go, I should be finished just in time for summer, yay!

Because after reknitting my favourite son’s cardigan, I have to get going on this:

img_3917I am almost finished the lobster portion of this double-knit blanket, next, more fish, crabs, and sea shells. I have to get this done for March, when I go back down to see my grandkids, and it’s Oscar’s birthday. And I have to squeeze in a sweater for him too somewhere. I am having lots of fun knitting this blanket. I am using free pot holder charts on Ravelry, and Berroco Comfort DK. This yarn holds up very nicely after multiple washings and dryings. Even if wool is superwash, it will felt up after being thrown in the dryer a number of times (which I know will happen, I’m not judging my daughter, haha, so I use washable AND dryable yarn).

Speaking of yarn… we have some new colours, and more in the works. This is Jewel, I’m knitting up a sample shawl in it. A deep gold, with flecks of magenta, purple and blue.

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We’ll have more popping up on Instagram as we dye them.

That’s all for now, I’ll leave you with Frankie and Shelma hoofing it down our road, well, Frankie is sauntering while Shelma is jogging.img_3755

TWIST! and am I bat-shit crazy?

Twist Festival is this weekend!! We are bringing loads and loads of yarn and we have a new label, with a logo and everything. This is not all of it….

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New label! (there is a pale stockinette pattern on the background)

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Piles of samples!

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I finished my sweater! I’m loving it so much, I won’t even mind when the weather cools.

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Now for the bat-shit crazy part:  the pile of stuff I have to finish. Three sweaters (all for me BTW, cause I’m selfish like that).

Ambergris, love the whale tails.

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These you have seen already, I’ve been distracted…

Three shawls, samples and/or for me/ who knows…

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Two more shawls and a scarf, samples and/or for me, depending how greedy I’m feeling.

Socks, definitely for me and/or sample, depending how dirty I get them (in new colour Oxidized – darker than photo).

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Shrug for my daughter (in perennial favourite Cobalt&Rust) – I do knit 1 out of 100 for someone else.

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I did finish this hat and cowl set, with one skein of worsted singles in Sand and the stripes are sock yarn held double. Pattern is Windschief.  It is a sample! So, maybe 2 out of 100 are not for MOI.

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These are just the WIPs from our own yarn. You have NO idea how many I have with other yarns (because I am a tad promiscuous in my love of yarn). I will get these done, this fall, by the end of the fall, for sure, I swear. Then I have family obligation knitting, grandkids – fast, yay!, son – not so fast 😦   and a vest for hubby if I recover in time from not-so-fast-son knitting.

Anyway, come to Twist and check out our yarns and samples. I hear there might be a few other vendors 😉  Don’t miss this cornucopia of yarn! Loads of new colours!

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But if you miss it, we will be in Almonte at the Mississippi Mills Fibrefest 10-11 September. However, after Twist and before Almonte, I’m heading down south to see my munchkins. This little guy says, “See you later”.

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What would you pay?

I’ve decided to make a few shawls to sell. We are constantly being asked at shows if the sample shawls are for sale. Now, I have no real idea what people are thinking when they ask this. I am sure if I said $200, they would say WHA? and if they offered me $60 I’d say WTF? Nevertheless, I’ve decided to knit up a few shawls and cowls. I’m using fingering- weight 100% silk, which I dyed and which I knit from my own patterns (which mostly reside in my head). The cowls will be knit from merino, and merino/cashmere. I am planning on charging between $80 and $170, depending on the complexity and size.IMG_1771

Notice the beaded bind off…IMG_1774

This one also has beads.

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I’m quite proud of this one, a crescent shawl. I used a German lace pattern for the bottom half. (My camera needs to be recharged so these are from the iPad).IMG_2485

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I think my prices are still a bargain. I am not counting the hours of knitting lest I stain these shawls with my tears in figuring out an hourly wage, haha. But I enjoy knitting them, and coming up with my own ideas, and I am curious to see if they will sell. If they sell like hot-cakes, I might up my prices, if they don’t, I won’t lower the prices, I’ll just prance around the house in all my silk-shawled glory, and if family and friends are really nice to me…

I have even managed to knit for myself. This tunic, Serenity, has been finished for quite a while. I used our fingering singles in the colour Dusk. I really love it, and I don’t look quite as fat in real life as I do in these pictures, although this IS an excellent sweater to hide all kinds of lumps and bumps.

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(Frankie never worries about the size of HIS ass).

I also knit another cowl, which goes fabulously with my tunic. I used Mushroom and Damson & Denim in merino/cashmere/nylon lace. I have enough to knit another, which I might sell.

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I still have another sweater to finish before the Twist Festival in our 8 ply sock, and a few more shawls, I hope.

(a wee update to the post – another sweater I knit!) I completely forgot to add this sweater to my post, Persimmon:

1aIMG_1744 I used Berroco’s Indigo, a yarn from recycled jeans. I really like the feel and love the colour (and I love matching my bag!) I changed the top pattern since the original just uses garter stitch. This yarn is not terribly bouncy and the garter stitch part was much wider, so I ripped back and substituted another pattern. I also knit an i-cord at the beginning of the garter stitch edges. It makes for a much neater edge.

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Since I’ve already given you gratuitous Frankie butt shots, I’ll leave you with this cutie, can’t wait to see him again. He’s rocking that electro-static hair look!e

Just a drive by…

This won’t be a long post. Both Kathryn and I are desperately trying to finish up a lot of things. It didn’t help that I was AWOL for two weeks. Here:1aSpending time with the grandkid! It went really quickly. Kathryn was back home slaving in the studio 😦  while I was eating these 🙂1b courtesy my daughter, the expert baker, and seeing these 🙂1bacBut now I’m back and helping her pump these out:1abadSpeaking of which, Kathryn will be at the Ottawa Valley Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild Exhibition and Sale. It runs from Friday Nov. 6, 5-8 pm, Saturday 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm at the Glebe Community Centre. It’s a great show with lots of hand-made items, roving, fleece and yarn. I won’t be there because I’ll be at the Needlers’ Retreat, teaching double knitting and eating and drinking WAY too much.

Need. More. Hands.

I’ll have all kinds of things in this post, dyeing, knitted presents, future knitted presents, current knitting, even some future sewing (don’t worry I’m not one of those knitters who will go down the quilting black hole).

First up, the presents I made for my grand-son’s first birthday. I made a much larger version, in thinner yarn (Berroco Comfort DK) than the pattern here. I also knitted the back in large stripes  (which I of course forgot to photograph) and made a different a border. I basically just used the graph. This was knit in the round and steeked. Since the yarn was very slippery, I used a sewing machine to reinforce the steeks. Then I picked up stitches around the entire blanket and knit the border, bound off on three sides and then knit my way down the back and sewed up all the sides.IMG_1653(By the way, the pottery statue on the shelf – a sleeping figure with an overturned book – is from sculptor Raymond Warren.  I gave it to my fairly recently retired hubby since I imagine that is what he does most of the day, read and snooze, snooze and read, repeat. I am exaggerating of course but can’t a working girl be bitter?)

But back to my cutie-pie sleeping with his blanket (and it even matches the sweater I made him!):image (18)I also gave him an old toy that used to belong to my sister and me, it is a bit hideous, but kids these days have too many cute things:

photo (56)My mother reknit him a body long ago and sewed pants and crocheted feet because otherwise all that would have remained of him would have been his head and his hands, which would have been way more creepy, don’t you think? Finn actually makes faces at it, sticks his tongue out at it. I think he is trying to imitate the expression on the toy’s face, but I could be wrong and maybe he’s trying to tell us to get this thing away from him. Have I traumatized him? Somebody’s got to. At least it’s not a monkey dressed as a clown. That would be traumatic.

Since I love colourwork, and love knitting for this little guy, I bought this pattern, Walking on Dinosaurs, which is a sock pattern but I plan on knitting it as a pullover for him.

Last week I went to Kathryn’s studio to dye up some roving for myself, superwash merino and 20% nylon, and to help with other dyeing. Here is Kathryn hard at work.IMG_1676Kathryn has piles of fingering weight silk (that is just what she has skeined, there are piles more), and it dyes up beautifully! IMG_1685

IMG_1674And here is a mix of yarns drying, some silk, some merino:IMG_1688I really like this yarn that she had already dyed, the colour reminds me of copper when it is turning green, which needless to say my camera did NOT capture:IMG_1673I dyed roving which  I am spinning up for socks. I am using a spindle and will spin three plies and then ply them on another spindle. The strongest socks I have are from yarn I spun in this way. I tend to overspin on the spindle and am better at spinning very thin yarn, so the resulting 3 ply is super strong and hardly wears out at all. Then I will knit my hubby some socks which should last longer than the other pair he wore to death (no picture, but his entire heel was sticking out, ersatz yoga socks?) I am spinning the blue/grey and gold, the green and gold roving will also be for socks, for the both of us. I figure it’s not too crazy to have matching socks, sweaters would be to cutesy, and we don’t do cutesy.IMG_1686IMG_1691I am also working on 3 sweaters, one for a friend, the pattern is Reverb, in merino from Colourmart. I’m holding one strand of the merino (dk weight) with a strand of laceweight to get a worsted gauge:IMG_1695And two for me! (Because the ratio should always be, 1 to give away, 2, or even 3, for me). I am knitting with my friend Robin’s yarn, Polwarth, super squishy beautiful yarn:IMG_1693And I am using up stash yarn (from at least 5 years ago) for a casual cardigan called BlueSand: (the brown is more grey than this picture suggests – bad, bad camera)IMG_1696So I am lugging some of this to Guelph next week, where I will be visiting my mom. And much to my delight I have discovered another yarn source in Guelph. It is actually a quilting shop, but carries Jamieson & Smith, among other brands. But it also has canvas fabric with Charley Harper prints, my absolute favourite illustrator. There is a tutorial on another fabric website for sewing a tote bag, which I have decided to make. I am thinking of using these two prints:

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Lastly, while I am romping in my new sweater (Green Mountain Spinnery Wonderfully Wooly, pattern – Pippin – a fantastic pattern, interesting construction, love the cowl, finished in about 2 weeks!!):IMG_1680Frankie and his buddy are romping in the piles of snow we have – with more to come I’m sure  😦IMG_1668aAnd Henry says, you have got to be kidding, I am not getting out of bed:DSCF3878

Just catching my breath…

It has been a very busy fall for all of us. Maureen was working flat out for a pottery show that took place in early November, Kathryn has been dyeing yarn no stop for some large store orders, for the Vorlage craft fair which was in early November  and for Idle Hands Art, Craft and Vintage sale which will be on 1 December (St. Anthony’s Banquet Hall in Ottawa). Now that I’m home, I helped Kathryn, mostly grunt work, skeining, tagging etc. So guess where I was?DSCF3709Why yes, that is the ocean and my grandson (in a hand knit sweater)! I was in Cape Cod again, for 2 weeks of beautiful weather and family time. I gave my daughter a few hand knit items for her birthday:darThe hat is from Kate Davies, Colours of Shetland, and the sweater from Melissa Wehrle’s Metropolitan Knits. Both books are fantastic and I plan on knitting virtually every single thing in them.

It was close to Halloween so we dressed the cutey up in an outfit that was his dad’s as a baby. DSCF3775He took his role as Parts Manager (or Farts Manager as his dad suggested) for Gulf a tad seriously but melted many a heart in Provincetown as we strolled along and then topped for a fantastic lunch.

He is 9 months old and starting to walk fairly regularly – even without mom’s helping hands. (oh, and is that another hand-knit sweater?)

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When I came home, I was off to the Gananoque for an annual knitting retreat that I go to with some friends. It was a blast as usual. We had an enormous room, with a living area and a bar and 2 bathrooms! It’s right on the water, this was our view:

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The classes were great, Natalie Servant, a fantastic designer and overall super nice person, gave a class on an Estonian technique called Roositud. It looks like embroidery but you weave the other colour of yarn as you are knitting. It is a great  alternative to intarsia for those of us who hate intarsia more than doing taxes (that would be me). Natalie of course pushed it to the nth degree, knitting 24 little Xmas mitts for her tree. She was working on them all through the retreat:DSCF3850And managed to get them all done! Crazy girl.DSCF3852This a more complicated version of this technique (also knit by Natalie). I can definitely see it in my future…IMG_6148_medium2Natalie gave me a spindle made with what looks like marbles (and there are heavier ones you can substitute these for and spin thicker yarn). I had given her one that didn’t do anything for me, so she reciprocated. Then she even won some roving during our raffle night and shared some with me. How nice is that?DSCF3860Anna Dalvi taught shaping shawls and had many beautiful samples to show. I have both her books and am itching to get knitting on some her shawls (once my Xmas knitting is done).DSCF3845And then there is Mary Pat. She often teaches at this retreat, and sometimes just comes as a civilian, and her classes are always wacky and fun. This year we picked from a list of techniques that she thought should be a part of any good knitter’s toolbox. She wrote and sang a knitter’s version of “A Few of My Favourite Things”. You had to be there. Plus she has the best hair, eyeglasses, earrings and outfits. Always a blast. IMG_6158_medium2

We also have a show and tell. So many beautiful things… this shawl was knit by Noreen in Kathryn’s yarn.IMG_6135_medium2The pattern is Radiance Shawl, and she used yarn that she bought from me at the last retreat (we also have a vendors night). Wouldn’t it look great with a purple or indigo dress? You’d never get lost in a crowd!

And my room-mate Nancy made this one from Twist Collective, Celestarium:IMG_6128_medium2The night sky! In beads! Nancy added that border to make it larger.

We also all come dressed in all our knitted finery. I wore my Kate Davies outfit from Colours of Shetland. The hat is made with Jamieson & Smith, and the tunic with Knitpicks Palette. IMG_6212_medium2

IMG_6217_medium2On the way home, we were already plotting what to knit for the next retreat, it sure gets your knitting juices running, haha.

In other knitting news, Kathryn and I both finished our Toujours, both in her wool/tussah silk blend. We chose very different fits. Her is more fitted and I went with loose and long. Which got looser and longer after washing. Argh.photo (49)I like it but I liked it better before washing. So I washed it again and threw it in the dryer. I kept an eye on it and it tightened up just enough. The yarn held up fantastically well and I probably could have left it in the dryer till it was bone dry but didn’t dare. So now it’s not quite as “wavy” as in the picture.

Here is a peek at the piles of yarn Kathryn dyed up:photo (51)(I’m knitting Ninian with that green yarn – because why can’t a person have 20 green sweaters? – anyway it only takes 2 skeins of Kathryn’s cashmere lace weight/light fingering yarn). Well that was our busy month of October and some of November.

I’ll end this post with a picture I forgot to add to my last one about my mom. It is one of my favourite pictures. The quality isn’t very good. But how prescient is it?IMG_NEWHalf a century before DeadMau5!

Deadmau5 In Concert At L'Olympia