Friday, December 28, 2012

Yule Knits

With three kiddos to knit for each Yule now, I'm going to have to start earlier if I ever plan to make something larger than a wee stuffy.
This year the girls each received a Flower Power Elephant in Koigu (orphans) I picked up before moving.

Correction, Little Lucy's elephant on top in the last photo was knit with hand-dyed Berroco Ultra Alpaca fine created for a baby blanket in 2011.  Abi's is the blue-pink elephant and she picked out the yarn last spring.  Claire's has the not-matching pink ears and feet because I used the leftovers from her alien/monster stuffy and only had enough for the body.

The pattern is simple and adorable, although I made the legs a few stitches wider for better support. I suspect if I'd used a heavier yarn (knit tightly) I wouldn't have needed to adjust the legs.

For Robin, I saved myself the trouble of knitting socks by buying a hand-knit pair at a craft sale. As I told my mom who asked if they were a good price, "I could buy the yarn for that price..."  Actually, I probably couldn't buy the yarn I would have bought - hand-dyed from Etsy or some such - for that price (less than $20).  They're a nice warm wool (blend?) and will keep him cozy while ice skating with the girls and curling.

Christmas knits will be another post as soon as I have my new camera.  It's nothing fancy, but an upgrade from our old digital P&S.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Spintastic - Start to Turkish

I love spinning.  It has me wrapped around its little spindle.
One day I shall have a wheel.
In the meantime, I am quite content with my small collection of spinning tools.

After my very first home-made spindle,
this is what PhD-dissertation-induced 2am boredom can get you if you have a few office supplies on hand and a bag of fibre to stare at

I borrowed a few spindles from a friend and decided I liked the Turkish style spindles best (of suspended spindles), although I did have fun with a lovely top whorl as my first serious foray into spinning. (Thanks again to Lofty Fibres J for getting me started.)

I was so PROUD of my first "real" spinning.

Rigged this up for plying.
Not too shabby for my first attempts
I bought a Knit Picks spindle first - an inexpensive investment - and some delicious BFL from Etsy.
(My very first fibre above was white Romni I picked up at Romni Wools in Toronto to stuff a wool teddy bear.)

Single ply

project in stages (FO was frogged and is a different UFO now)

Or maybe this Lofty Fibres was my first spinning-fibre purchase.  It seems like forever ago.  They were roughly from the same "era" of my spinning... back when I only had one spindle.

times have changed.

The majority of my spindles are now from Threads Thru Time / Thomas Creations on Etsy.  I have purchased 2 mediums, 1 tiny, and 2 large Turkish spindles.  (Alas, one medium disappeared.)  I love them. They're so much prettier than my KP spindle.  They spin wonderfully.
However, in looking for posts about spinning angora I found these beauties by Jeri Brock and I need one.

Plying on a large blue

comparing my large and tiny and plying from both ends of my single ply

tiny spindle of silk - current project

large spindle of alpaca - current project
One of the wonderful things about using my Turkish spindles is being able to spin while still taking care of babies.  They also love watching the spinning.

Baby asleep in a wrap as I spin

That's enough spindle pictures for one post. Next time I'll feature my non-Turkish spindles.  (Note to self, get some decent photos of other spindles...)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

needle felting

Once upon a time I didn't like knitting.  Then one day I loved it.
Once upon a I didn't have a yarn stash. (Mer and Heather are chuckling.) Then we went yarn-store-hopping. And there were regular excursions to Shall We Knit just to get out of the house with kiddo.
Once upon a time I didn't spin.  Then I was bored late one night and built a spindle from a CD, highlighter and paper clip to spin the fibre I'd bought years earlier to stuff a bear.
Once upon a time I didn't poke at fibre with a needle...

Priscilla the Eco Fairy needed wings for her new sleeper-sleeve-tube dress.  So kiddo and I mozied out to the big box craft store with two 50% off coupons and picked up a couple needle felting tools.  Priscilla's wings were my very first project.

 Next I a formed some fibre into a heart and added kiddo's initial for fun.

I needed more things to play with... I cut up a small (accidentally) felted soaker and cut a tree to decorate.  But all my fibre was too dark. I needed something bright.

This variegated sock yarn leftover was the perfect solution and now I have another way to make use of yarn ends.

I also have this package of mini fibre balls to play with. (Thanks Chris).

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Berries and Blue

As I began to spin the new silk I realized it greatly reminds me (fibre type aside) of my first hand-dyed fibre, which I purchased from a friend -- Lofty Fibres of KW

That wool blend colourway was named Berries and Blue.  My new silk has the same wine-purple and blues as I spin it.

My intention, now, is to ply it with my black alpaca for mittens. Thus I can play with the silk now without feeling guilty for starting a new 'project'.  Also working on the alpaca.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Don't you love when you forget that you ordered fiber on Etsy and then it arrives?

I do.
This was my silky order. A merino-silk blend (80/20 on top) and silk top.
It made my day a little brighter when I placed the order a couple weeks ago (Oct 20) and brighter yet when it arrived today. It's only been 2 weeks - but that's 2 weeks of twin-time, which feels longer.

I've spun a wee bit of silk hanky - a sample bit from another order (To-Ply Fiber Arts on Etsy).

It was fun - and luxurious. 

Which would explain why I added more silk to my fiber stash. Now that I'm looking, I have 8 oz of merino silk in 'garnet' waiting to be spun also. Plus the luxury batt and top my friend sent from KW Knitters Fair.

I definitely need to get to spinning silk!

And let's be honest, what's the likelyhood I'll finish spinning my black alpaca for mittens?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Testing, testing, 1,2,3. Check.

I recently had the urge to test some other designers' patterns. I don't know why - since I'm testing my own designs too.  It's all towards Yule gifts, so I consider it additional motivation to finish stuff by the 21st of December.

Okay, well, these adorable baby hats are not Yule gifts, but they are warm winter hats. For indoors. I wouldn't expect them to keep a cold wind out in Winnipeg.  I like to peruse the Free Pattern Testers list on Ravelry for the new listings with few responses.  When I saw this London Slouch hat (though I wouldn't personally call it a slouch hat since it's not designed with enough fabric to be "slouchy") I thought it would be a cute, fun, quick baby knit and she needed baby sizes tested.

I used Lion Brand Martha Stewart merino that I picked up on clearance for $3.  I'd sure never pay full retail price for it, but thought I'd try it out.  Colour selection was meh, softness is poor for a merino, there are knots a plenty, yardage is short at 120yds, and while it claims to be a worsted weight, it is much closer to DK.  Not even close to being valued at $12 a skein! No wonder it was on clearance.  And this is why I'd much rather shop at my LYSes for quality yarns at a better price than what the box stores carry.

Having completed the hat testing, I had an urge to knit socks (other than the Winter Night Hawks I'm labouring away on, grudgingly). Consequently, I am now testing two sock designs (one test only requires one sock to be knit) -
Butterfly Flower socks in Brown Sheep Wildfoote Luxury Sock yarn (Columbine colourway)

and Twisted Tapestry socks in this mystery yarn:

I know, they don't look like much yet. Note, these are also the yarns Abi asked me to knit socks for her from... but first I need to knit adults socks to have leftovers to knit with.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Wee stash busting

Until the other day when I rescued my lace stash from storage, all I'd had to work with was a lot of thicker odds and ends that, somehow, came to the house.  Clearly I didn't think through all the details of my storage/stashing before the move.  Granted, I also imagined I'd be in a new home by this point - I'm an optimist. (I had packed up several projects for the move. Some I completed. Some are still slow WIPs.)

I'd been using up bits for things like the future blanket bits (discussed before) and this hyperbolic surface I thought would make a cute toy for the babies to squish their fingers in.  Plenty of alpaca and wool and mohair fuzziness to squish in there.

Then I needed somewhere to display my badges on the fabulously cute little notions bag I found at the thrift store. That project was the topic of last week's post (which was technically written after this post was drafted.)

I also thought it would be fun(ny) to knit up these novelty yarns into a fuzzy vest.  The recipe is quite fun to work with.  Lesson learned however - I thought I was sizing it to myself/my mom (it was going to be a gag Yule gift) but it turned out to fit Abi. She likes it provided I add a button. It's missing a (huge, gaudy) button.

I whipped up these Madrid cuffs for a friend in BC, because she needs many friends to hold her hands right now and I can't be there to do that.  They used leftovers from my Butterfly Forest shawl (aka my nursing cover).

Checking my recent projects list on Ravelry... almost everything else used new/ish yarns or full skein amounts which, even if they came from my stash, are not wee projects.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Knitting and Pins/Buttons

What's the fun of having knit-related pins if you can't display them properly.  Knitting bags tend to be of a material not conducive to pinning things to - because if you could pins things to it, then your fine point needles could also poke through that fabric.  I've used those bags...
I picked up this adorable little handbag the other day because I thought it perfect for my knitting notions.  It had a keyring hook just begging to have something done with it and I've been wanting somewhere to stick my pins.  A bit of scrap yarn later I had this:

Next task will be to knit a handle cover to add more pins to. Because there are more pins to add.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Happy Stash

Christmas came early for me and I saved us a whole bunch of money.

I smuggled some of my stash from storage into the house. (Currently sharing a roof with my parents while we move.)

Not just any yarn of course.  I smuggled in the good stuff!

Lace and Fingering weight yarns

Abi helped me dig through it.  She found the purple sock yarn and has requested a pair of socks.

Handing me some blue jean Montague. *heaven*

Found this yarn... yeah, I forgot about those socks for the frog pond.
There are many wonderful yarns inside.  I'm most excited to work with some Montague yarn by Waterloo Wools again.
delicious merino silk lace in Spice Trail. NOM

Of course, I'm also rather fond of my Painted Fleece yarns. (I'd link her, but her online presence has disappeared. Thankfully I've always been able to catch her at the KW Knitters Fair. Until this year when I was absent.)

lovely natural dyes yarn in fingering weight. two skeins for a large shawl.

I don't know where to begin, so I'm working away on some other projects - WIPs. Yule gift stuff.
However, the next time I'm struck by an itch to knit lace, I won't have to look beyond my closet - in the back corner.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Special Requests

As a knitter, I love when people ask me to knit them something.
Within reason.
Don't ask me to knit you a sweater...
I will gladly knit you one (one day), but don't expect me to make you large projects. And I'll be doin it on my schedule, my choice of yarn and pattern (something I will enjoy).
Unless you can actually afford to pay me. Even then, I'd have to approve the yarn and pattern.
I accept payment in fine yarns.

Anyhow, when my sister asked if I could knit my nephew a cowl I jumped all over that.  Jumped myself right over to the yarn show that was conveniently on my way home from the eyeglasses shop.  Grabbed a bulky, fluffy, singles in green and blue. Decided on a Fisherman's Ribbing pattern for optimal squishiness and warmth, designed it on a bias, had a few false starts with the design, and am now knitting away in gifterly-knitterly bliss.

Other projects can wait. I've got a special order to fill for my favourite nephew. (Only nephew... but he's fabulously awesome! Obviously if I had many nephews I wouldn't play favourites.)

Saturday, September 29, 2012


I love reversible stitch patterns.  I recently designed a stole * that is fully reversible so that the wearer need not wonder which is the "right" side - because I've noticed that many of my loving, well-meaning family members (who are deserving of hand-knits) still do not know the difference between a knit and a purl when looking at lace (or stockinette).

Thus I had high hopes for this book when I saw it on the library shelf.
Reversible Knitting by Lynne Barr more than met my expectations and is now on my must-have-for-personal-library list.  It wasn't quite the form of reversibility that I was expecting.  This is more "it also looks interesting on the back side" type of reversibility for the most part, which is fine. I was expecting it would be more like reversible cables. However, what Barr has done with her new stitches her is even more fun than that.  She utilizes many different techniques, knits in multiple directions, works in multiple colours (double knitting, slipped sts, etc), even develops faux-crochet stitches.  There is some seriously cool stuff in here to challenge a knitter like me who loves new things.

* The Corey Stole is still in testing phase and I do not have great photos of it, but the bride did wear it on her wedding day so I know there will be some great wedding shots of it worn like a scarf.  I desperately need a new camera.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Not just knitting

A quick pic to show that I don't just knit fabric. Yes, I also crochet. (No, I do not weave. Yet.)
That is the start of a hat in leftover lace yarn.  I borrowed Crochet So Fine (by Kristin Omdahl) from the library and have confirmed what I already suspected from looking at the patterns on Ravelry. I need this book in my personal library. I love it.  There are several pieces I would certainly crochet one day.  I truly appreciate the mix of different crochet techniques, including broomstick lace and hairpin lace (which I've played with once before), among the stitches used.

Monday, September 24, 2012

15 months

15 months.
It was worth every stitch.
At last my mystery KAL project based on the novel Around the World in 80 Days is complete, blocked, and ready to show off.  I wore it to my sister-in-law's wedding this weekend.

A windy afternoon for pictures.

A large square!
Now what giant project shall I start next?
(yeah yeah, I should finish my own Tread Softly shawl and Sabbatical lace cardigan.)

Friday, September 21, 2012


Is there anything better than finding these in your mailbox, fresh from the KW Knitters' Fair and Shall We Knit? ?

CLassic Elite Silky Alpaca

Lace weight. But I previously bought this colourway in fingering weight and made delicious socks.
This begs the question - what will I spin to knit and what will I knit??? Stay tuned...

Great big hugs to my wonderful friend Erin M for sharing some Knitters Fair love with me.