Category: knitting

Voila… happy feet.

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Project: May Socks

Pattern: None

Yarn: Turtlepurl Striped Turtle Toes in colorway “What is it all about?”

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Finishing up my socks this month was super easy and super fast. These socks practically knit themselves. I used my basic plain, vanilla sock pattern, working from the cuff down. After I had already started, I decided I wanted to do the heel and toes in a contrast color, so I had a small delay waiting for the black yarn to arrive, but as soon as it did, I was back to knitting like a fiend.

I picked up this yarn at this year’s Toronto’s Knitters Frolic. Usually, I tour around the festival a bit deciding on the yarns I want to splurge on, but there were only two skeins of this colorway left, so I immediately scooped it up and held it close and tight. It’s becoming a bit of a tradition to pick up a lovely skein (or two) of Turtlepurl yarn each year at the Frolic. I just love basically all of the colorways (it really can be hard to chose) and I like that I’m supporting a smaller Canadian dyer.

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I have just enough yarn left to knit up another pair of these beauties, so this pair will be shipped off to Austin, Texas for my sister’s birthday. Austin isn’t usually a place where you need wool socks, no matter the time of the year, but both my sister and I tend to suffer from cold-feet syndrome, so I know she’ll get some good use out of these handknit socks.

And, be sure to check out the other great socks made this month for Liesl’s challenge.

Linking up with KCCO.

Rainbow power

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This week…

Knitting: My May socks for Liesl’s challenge are chugging right along. And they make me happy. I’ll be sitting on the subway, lost in my own little world, just chugging out some gray stockinette, and then POW! Rainbow power!

I don’t know why self-striping yarn has such a power over me, but it really is something a bit magical. The stripes, they just appear. I oddly derive such satisfaction at just watching the stripes appear. And from my own personal experience, I have to say that rainbow stripes are some of the best stripes you can have magically manifest from your needles. This pair will be a birthday present for my sister, who, I’m sure, will be so impressed at my superhuman ability to make stripes spontaneously appear in my knitting.

Reading: I’ve fallen so behind on reading. Lately my mind has just been taken over with knitting design. I’ve been reading up a lot on design principles and tips on self-publishing, as well as just sketching, diagraming, and collecting inspirations. And I haven’t budgeted very well for my personal reading time, which has left me about 50 pages into Shadow Scale, the sequel to the great Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. This stalling is in no way a reflection of the book, but just priorities at the moment. I will get back on schedule, soon, I hope, if I want to make my Good Reads goal for this year.

Linking up with yarn along & KCCO.

 

Taking a step forward

This past week, I’ve been working on realizing a knitting goal of mine: designing my own knitting patterns. Pattern design is something I’ve been thinking about trying my hand at for awhile now, but every time I would spend any amount of time pondering the idea, I would talk myself out of it. It was something I wanted to do, but also a prospect I was completely daunted by.

I have designed and self-published several crochet patterns before (I even had two featured in a book several years ago), but making the leap in knitting just completely scared the crap out of me. I think part of it was that I hadn’t convinced myself that I was comfortable enough with knitting techniques to apply them in new ways or without the guidance a pattern provides. Another part of me felt afraid that I would have nothing new to bring to knitting, I wouldn’t have a voice anyone wanted to hear, I wouldn’t have designs anyone would be particularly interested in. After knitting up so many patterns from some talented and well-established designers, the prestigious world of knitting design just seemed so glamorous, polished, and out of my reach.

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But I really, really just needed to get over myself. Often it is the things that really scare us that end up pushing us to a better place. I’m not too shabby at knitting. I have ideas. And I change patterns for myself all the time. What am I so afraid of? Why not just give it a try? (Plus, I have you guys to help build up my confidence, right?)

So, I started charting patterns, I started swatching, and I started playing around with some ideas over the past couple of days.

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It’s still completely scary and I still find myself doubting my designs and ideas more than I would like. But I’m also stubborn. When I set my mind to an idea, I become a bit obsessed with it. It’s like I’m wearing blinders and everything else just falls away until I’ve accomplished what I’ve set out to do. When I get started on something, it basically drives me nuts until I worked to a level that I feel satisfied.

So I’ll keep reading up on design (the Ravelry group is, of course, great), stashing away stitch inspirations, and swatching until that crazy part of my brain is silenced. And maybe at the end, I’ll have a new pattern or two to share.

Growing romance

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This week…

Knitting: My Spring Romance cardigan is making progress. I finished both lace panels fo the sleeves, blocked them, and have started working on the sleeves and the body of the sweater. I’ve got one sleeve all finished up and the second in progress. I’m enjoying the fresh, original construction of the this sweater – short rows and grafting are used to shape the shoulders and sleeves. It keeps me on my toes and pushed me to make sure my wrap and turns are nice and neat. Also grafting 90+ stitches taught me that my kitchener isn’t the neatest, but I don’t think anyone but me will notice.

Reading: I finished Station Eleven earlier this week. I loved it. One of the better books I have read in awhile. I loved it’s clean, beautiful writing along with the creative weaving together of each of the characters’ lives through flashbacks and glimpses of their individual experiences struggling through the terrifying events once humanity is wiped out by disease. It is a dystopian novel, but not the kind you’ve come to expect lately. For a book about the end of humanity, it held a lot of beautiful insights into how we define our lives and persevere.

Now I’m reading The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.

Watching: I finished Daredevil on Netflix this weekend. I was really getting into it, and then it’s over. Binge watching has that effect, I suppose. Now I’m trying to find something new to pick up, but I’m not feeling very inspired to hunt out something. In the mean time, I may just rewatch Game of Thrones to pass the time.

Linking up with Love your Library, KCCO, and yarn along.

Spring knits…

Spring has arrived in Toronto. At last. It’s splendid. Every year I’m always amazed at the effect the weather has on my mood. Warmer days, lovely afternoon showers, bright blue skies, chirping birds, and a smile on my face.


  

This week…

Knitting: I think knitting lace just fits in so perfectly with spring. I can watch something delicate, soft, and floral grow off of my needles. Perfect for knitting away breezy spring afternoon storms or enjoying sunlight out on the patio while I sip iced tea (if I had a patio, of course. For now I just borrow someone else’s.)

I’m currently working on the lace inserts for my Spring Romance cardigan, which has a splendidly unique construction, starting from the lacy sleeves insets and then working out from the sleeves. Right now it seems a little magical to me, but my curiosity is completely peaked. I don’t tend to knit a lot of lace, but I’ve been enjoying the knitting these panels. They are just enough to be fun and challenging without not overwhelming me, like larger lace projects tend to.

Reading: I’ve totally been sucked into Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It’s set in a dystopian future where mankind has been decimated by a disease and tells the story of a band of travelling performers. The story is told in a compelling fashion through different character’s view points and flashbacks. I am always amazed at how quickly a good book pulls you in – I was immediately enthralled with the story and connected to the characters so quickly. Needless to say, the writing is effortlessly wonderful.

Watching: So much Netflix binging. House of Cards, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Daredevil have been taking up my weekend viewing. All so different, but great viewing.

Linking up with KCCO, yarn along, and love your library.

Tweedy Ravello

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Project: Tweedy Ravello

Pattern: Ravello by Isabell Kraemer

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Donegal Fine

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I originally bought this yarn with some birthday money back in November. When I picked it out, I had a completely different project in mind. Something rustically tweedy with colorwork throughout the whole body. I was really on a stranded knitting, steeked cardigan phase back then. (Let’s be honest, I still sort of am… I don’t think it’s something I’ll grow out of.) But once I got started on the project, it just wasn’t coming out the way I had envisioned. And the yarn was not the most fun to knit colorwork with. It just didn’t slide through my fingers in the way I wanted when I was working with more than one strand at a time, throwing off my tension, and making any progress feel like it was taking forever. And when the knitting stops being fun, it’s time to rethink things. So I set it aside for a bit, hoping for a project to come around that would be a good fit for the yarn, the colors, and work with the amount I had on hand.

But silly me, that pattern was sitting in my queue – Ravello was a perfect fit for this yarn.

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I have many of Isabell’s patterns on my favorite’s list, but this is the first one I’ve knit. I admire her aesthetic – it’s sporty, casual, stylish, makes great use of lines and patterns, and provides you with tons of great opportunities to play with color. All things that totally jive with me and easily fit into my wardrobe. Ravello is a spectacular example of Isabell’s beautiful design and I had great fun working it up. The pattern was well written and easy to follow. Just as you would imagine, her patterns are straight-forward and beautifully simple in their construction. You can follow the pattern to the letter and end up with a great product, or you can easily customize it and put your own spin on things. (For a little inspiration look at all the great customized projects creative knitters have been working on.) I changed mine just a bit. I worked two extra stripes on the sleeves (because I was afraid of running out of the cream yarn) and added in a bit of waist shaping (this sweater has zero shaping and I need all I can get).

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The sweater is light weight, so I’m looking forward to getting a nice bit of wear out of it this spring before it has to be put away for fall. The yarn is nice and relatively soft against the skin. The slight thick-thin texture plus the tweed flecks gives it just the perfect amount of a rustic, homespun feel without losing modernity. Really, my main complaint is that it just breaks so darn easily. The tiniest snag and it will break – ask me how I know. (Minutes after taking these photos, I picked up Rufus and his nail caught in the sweater and ripped a tiny hole right in the front. It’s fixed and not noticeable, but now I know to be very, very careful.)

This sweater wraps up my first Love your Library project and I happily declare it a success. I used a pattern I had on my queue for ages, yarn I had in my stash, and am left with a great, comfortable sweater to wear for many seasons to come. Unsurprisingly, I’ve already cast on my next challenge project – Joji’s Old Romance. Because you can never have enough beautiful cardigans.

Pendulum shawl

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Project: Pendulum shawl

Pattern: Pendulum by Amy Miller

Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Light in Charcoal and Medieval

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When times get stressful, sometimes all I need is an escape into a mindless knitting project. So when I had a quick moment to myself during the past month, I would grab my Pendulum shawl for some perfectly squishy garter stitch to de-stress from all the strike action. The wide stripes and short rows were the perfect amount of thinking my brain could handle, making this one really awesome and satisfying escape project.

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Now that the weather is (kinda, sorta, maybe) warming up a bit, a shawl makes a perfect removable layer. (Let’s just completely ignore the fact that it snowed yesterday. It’s melted away already, so it’s basically like it never happened.) I’m still aiming to make shawls work more with my wardrobe and lifestyle. There are so many beautiful patterns for them on Ravelry that I want to make, but I still sometimes feel awkward incorporating into my every day style. (A shawl + backpack just doesn’t always work the best when I head off to work.) There’s always the go-to, oversized scarf look, but with a shawl like this, you want to show off the great structural elements of the tapered rows. And I’ll admit I’m still a little stuck in the mindset that they are more of an older woman accessory when worn over the shoulders… but with so many modern and intriguing shawl patterns available, all it takes is a little confidence and styling to make a shawl work on any fabulous woman. And darn it, I will be one of those fabulous shawl women!

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This pattern is super dooper easy to follow and the end project is fun, graphically beautiful, and customizable. Like the other patterns of Amy Miller’s that I’ve made, I highly recommend it. And of course, Madtosh makes it warm, soft, and cozy. This shawl was made entirely with left over yarn from my previous Amy Miller project, my Crew sweater. I just love knitting with Madtosh. The love affair continues. If only my budget would stop betraying me with daily necessities and allow me to swim in a pile of beautiful merino-y goodness.

A project off the needles equals an excuse to cast on a new one. I’m leaning towards Old Romance, which is one of the projects on my Love Your Library challenge list. And by leaning, I mean I’ve already gotten out the yarn winder and started balling the skeins. Whoops.

March Fruit Loop Socks

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Project: March Fruit Loop Socks

Pattern: Froot Loop

Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Solids

One thing that I did manage to work on during the strike last month were my March socks for Liesl’s monthly sock challenge. And I finished them just in time.

For March, I chose something bright and happy to help shoo away the grey wintery blues. I don’t usually buy solid sock yarns. I think my brain just sees all the beautiful colors of handdyed skeins and, like some kind of psychotic bird, can’t help but hoarding them all. But I also often am drawn to sock patterns that just don’t work well with those sorts of yarns, like Froot Loop, where the beautiful stitch patterns would be completely lost in a variegated yarn. This pattern has been in my queue for a long while now, but I didn’t have a yarn suitable for it in my stash. Until I bought this yellow skein of Stroll on a whim when it was on sale a little while back. And it just matched up – cheery bright yellow and lacey cables like sprouting vines – perfect socks for welcoming spring (soon, I hope!)

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I really enjoyed this pattern. The eyelet lace pattern is one of my favorite to work and it provides interest without being too holey. I don’t like a lot of lace socks because I find them too open for my tastes in socks, and as a person whose feet are just always cold, even in the summer, I need my socks to do their job and keep my feet warm. But be pretty. Is that too much to ask?

But this pattern is a great one (and it’s free – hello!). It would make a fantastic pair of gift socks because it looks complicated and beautiful, but is relatively simple. The repeating pattern is so easy to follow and work on mindlessly without getting bored. Those are some of my favorite characteristics of sock patterns. And because they are ribbed, these socks are also forgiving in the width department.

And I have enough yarn left over that I’ve started a pair of Stitch Surfers with some left over self-striping yarn for my April socks.

Getting back

Last night, the strike came to an end after a month, the longest strike in University of Toronto history. Both sides decided to go to binding arbitration because we were at an impasse over the language of the agreement. Now it goes off to a neutral, third-party arbitrator and we wait to see what the outcome is. The whole thing ended up taking so much more time and effort than I had originally believed, that most days I found myself physically and emotionally drained.

The strike was full of frozen fingers and toes. It was full of warm coffee and fire barrels. It was full of new friends I would have never met. It was full of new understandings of the living conditions of my peers less well off. It was full of passion. It was full of fear. It was full of frustration. It was full of uncertainty. It was full of juice boxes and warm samosas. It was full of early mornings and late evenings. It was full of creativity. And it was even full of laughs. It had high points and low points. It had beautiful, brave undergraduates and faculty who stood behind us. It had misunderstandings and anger from those who wished to bring us down. But above all it was full of solidarity.

But now it’s time to try to heal and get back to our lives. And that means getting back to knitting. Here are some of the goodies I have in the works and on the needles. Hopefully with my free time back, I can get these finished up soon.

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Retro Flower Cardigan

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Project: Retro Flower Cardigan

Pattern: Adapted from Paper Dolls by Kate Davies

Yarn: Knit Picks Palette

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One of my very first knitting projects was Kate Davies’ Paper Dolls adapted with a Totoro yoke. It has some issues (like the sleeves being waaay too tight) because I was a little ambitious thinking I could jump in with all these fancy techniques after just learning to knit. But it’s not too bad if I say so myself. And the pattern is a great one. It’s well written, easy to follow, and produces a fantastic finished product.

And the pattern is super easy to adapt with a custom yoke. Just look at all the amazing adaptations people have come up with on the project page. So after getting very frustrated with my big planned stranded cardigan of 2015, I decided the best medicine for my poor ego was to get back on the stranded knitting horse and challenge myself to design my own custom yoke for Paper Dolls.

I was inspired by the great colors I had on hand for the original disaster cardigan and Kate Davies’ beautiful work in her new Yokes pattern book, specifically her Foxglove cardigan. So out of all of the chaos sprouted my Retro Flower cardigan. I originally planned all of the flowers to be the bright blue, but it was a little overwhelming, so I went with a more traditional poppy red with just one peek-a-boo blue flower.

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It was super easy to adjust the pattern to work it for a cardigan, changing the start of the round to the front where the steek stitches were placed. I secured my steek with crochet before I cut using Kate’s tutorial (can you tell that Kate is like the queen of fabulous yoke sweaters/cardigans and basically was a giant inspiration for this project?). I then covered the raw steek edges with a cute ribbon in a matching golden yellow for a cute little surprise on the inside.

Apart from steeking the sweater for a cardigan, I also worked 3/4 sleeves instead of the short-sleeves originally called for. I know I will get a ton more wear out of a cardigan with longer sleeves, and 3/4 sleeves make it adaptable across multiple seasons. I’m really excited to add this cardigan to my closet.

I loved working on this project. So much that I’m already planning another one. I want a long sleeve cardigan with a bit more positive ease. And the yoke will be foxes. These yoke cardigans are becoming an obsession. I have a bad case of Kate Davies fever.