Monday, 29 December 2008

Gifts and fun

Christmas has come and gone already, it's always a bit shocking. This year it was just the family for Christmas, often we've had rather large elaborate Christmas's with extended family either home or out of town, and they've always been great, but this year it was just us, and it was really, really lovely. I did a ton of Christmas knitting this year, in fact I knit almost all of my gifts, or at least part of them. I've already shared a lot of what I knit here. For my cousin Lesley it was the snowflake mittens and the little Inga hat, for my sister it was the Noro shawl, my dad got socks, my mom got socks, my friend Jo got socks and a scarf, my brothers got hats (they haven't been photographed yet) I did a lot of knitting... I'm sure I'm missing some.

Mom got the swallowtail shawl, knit in Tanis Fiber Arts yarn in an early variation of my Royal Flush colourway.

She unwrapped it on Christmas morning, tied it around her neck, and hasn't taken it off since! Honestly, she got up before I did, and when I'd come down for coffee in the morning, she'd already be wearing it! I'm thrilled, I think that means she likes it! 

Chris and I attempted to take a holiday photo of our little family... it's tough making a dog look cute when she's all legs! (Note: I'm wearing a new sweater! The Drops Jacket that I started in December got a lot of wear over the holidays, I'll post more about it soon.)

A last little update, my mom loves my colourwheel quilt so much, and is really on a big sewing kick these days, so I bought her the kit, we had tons of fun laying out all the colours and studying the fabrics. it's so neat because though some fabrics I can honestly say I would never have picked myself, they all come together the look really awesome. And it's a totally different bundle from the quilt I made, so we'll have lots of fabric scarps to play with when she's all done, and that's almost half the fun!

Monday, 8 December 2008

Mission accomplished

I was planning on ending today's post by telling you that I had started a new sweater. But for some reason when I upload pictures to blogger these days they appear in the reverse order of how I'd intended, so instead I'll start this post with my new sweater in progress. Remember last time how I said that I was itching for a sweater project? Well, I couldn't put it off until after Christmas as is proven by the fact that I cast on for the Drops Jacket on Friday. By now I've completed the back and am going to cast on for the front this afternoon. I'm knitting it in Elann Peruvian Sierra Aran in the Atlantis colurway. It's a really gorgeous deep blue green and I'm really loving it. When I opened the box from Elann and saw this deep rich blue I was a little surprised because it's not at all the colour that my monitor led me to believe I was ordering, but I like the colour I got much more then the colour I bought... if that makes any sense! (Basically, my monitor just displayed the colour as being much lighter and greener, but I prefer what the yarn looks like in person.) So, here it is, kind of boring at the stage it was at on Saturday when I took this picture:

Today's post is really supposed to be about how I finally finished a project that was in progress for almost two years! I cast on the left mitten in the spring of 07, and finished it in a matter of days, but didn't get around the doing the same for the right mitten until last week when I finally buckled down and got 'er done. And I'm so happy that I did! 

My motivation for finishing my Northern Lights Mittens (flickr link) was that I decided to give them to someone I know for Christmas, that proved to be just the kick in the pants I needed. Now that they're done (and I really have no idea what took me so long to finish this project, I loved the left mitten, you would think that I'd want to knit the right one...) anyways, now that they're done, I'm almost sad to part with them. I'm toying with the idea of making another pair for myself, but this time hopefully I can squeak them in in under two years!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Tough times for blogging

There has been a lot of knitting going on around here lately, lots of stuff I'm very happy with, but oddly, there has been very little blogging to go along with said knitting. There are a couple reasons for this: one, is that I'm knitting Christmas gifts, and I'm worried that if I post about them, then they won't be a surprise for the recipient, two, it's December, and the lighting has been pretty dreary these days, I've tried taking pictures of a couple things and they've all ended up looking sad and grey... I'll have to hope for a sunny day soon to properly document my work in a favorable light. 

So, while I'm not sharing any of my recent work here today, I thought that I was overdue for a post and decided to show and tell a couple images from my "fiber inspiration" photo file. Here's something I stumbled across on Etsy:

I am having an impossible time finding the seller of these adorable felted owls on Etsy right now, if I come up with something, I'll let you know asap. I'm not sure what they're supposed to be used for, but I think that they are just so cute!

Next up we have this gorgeous version of the Babette blanket. Inspired by this version, I bought the pattern, despite not knowing how to crochet. I plan on learning and making my own Babette in monochromatic tones someday.

And lastly for today, we have the Colourwheel quilt from Joelle Hoverson's awesome book. I bought the kit, I made my quilt a bit bigger to fit a twin bed, and have already had it quilted, now I just have to sew the binding and it'll officially be finished. I attempted to photograph mine, but it was too gloomy to really show it off at it's finest. It really is striking, I'm in love with it. And even though I've already been inspired by this quilt and made this project, I know the colour wheel will continue to inspire me for years to come.

Christmas knitting has been keeping me busy lately, but I'm almost done (I think) and am really looking forward to knitting a bigger project, for me! I've got a couple sweaters swimming around in my mind that I think I'll be swatching for soon.

Friday, 21 November 2008

First TFA hat in progress

I'm pretty sure that my big brother Luke would really appreciate a hand knit hat for Christmas this year. And not just any hat. A one of a kind Tanis Fiber Arts hat that was designed just for him. So, with task in hand I set out to make him something special. So far so good, I came away with a decent prototype that, though too small and not the right colourway for him, will be perfect in it's next incarnation. This is the test version:

Knit in TFA Green Label Aran in the Shadow colourway I think there's just a bit too much variation in colour to really highlight the cables. The cables were obviously inspired by this sweater, knit earlier this year: ( I have no idea why this is writing like this, it's not intentional)

I'm happy with how it's coming together, I even think I did a good job hiding the decreases in the cable pattern at the top of the hat. I think I'll put the pattern up as a free download when it's all said and done. I'm also feeling nostalgic about these cables lately:

I really loved knitting this vest, but have only worn it once... it's too big for me and just really not my style. I tried giving it to my sister, but I think it's now sitting in my mom's basement... I may give it another chance soon, or at least reclaim the yarn. The diamond cable pattern is really pretty though!

In other Christmas knitting news, here's a sneak peek at something else I've just finished. It's a surprise for someone who doesn't read my blog. I think I love it!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Prett yarn, pretty colours

This morning I was playing around with colour combo's. I lined up my yarn in a tons of schemes, then because I was so excited by all my colour options I snapped a photo of a couple of them:

The top row is my blue and purples, the types of colours that I always gravitate towards. The middle row are colours that I rarely think of immediately, a little safer, more livable colours, but I'm really liking them all together! Earthy and rich, a bit jewel toned, very pretty. And the bottom row is my tried and true bright rainbow. I'm supposed to be an adult, but I still love rainbows!

Lining them all up like this really inspired me to want to knit with colour! With lots of colour! After I get my Christmas knitting done, I have to start working with these combo's!

Monday, 17 November 2008

Sock yarn stash

I think I have a lot of yarn. I know my boyfriend thinks I have a lot of yarn. But when I broke it down earlier last week and took inventory of my sock yarn stash, I realized that I don't have nearly as much as I thought. The thing is, I dye my own yarn right? So although I have literally an unlimited supply of sock yarn in my apartment at any given time, I don't consider that to be stash because it's my stock, and is always being sold and then replenished. And I guess that because I don't consider the couple hundred skeins of stock that I always have handy as "stash", even though I knit from it whenever I feel like it, which is almost always, I've managed to convince myself that my actual stash is quite minimal. So, here it is:

From the top left, the 2 big skeins are Dream in Colour Smooshy in Deep Seaflower, and my own hand dyed (from before the days of TFA) in an experimental red. The 5 skeins next on the right were also experiments, but those are 50g skeins, so they will be matched up for a couple pairs of striped socks. On the bottom right we have 4 skeins of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock lightweight. The one that's already in a ball is Lucy, then from right to left it's Gypsum, Seastone and Moody Blues. I love these colours, at least I love them in the skeins, but find that the 100% wool content lake for poor lasting socks... I recently had my favorite pair get a massive whole in the bottom after not nearly enough wear, so I don't think I'll be making socks with those 4 skeins, I'll have to come up with a new plan for them. Bottom left are 3 recent purchases from Webs: Regia Canyon Color in 2804 (the one with the pink stripe) and 2805 (the more blue one, and On Linesupersocke in 1060. And on top of those there is one ball of Trekking xxl in #71, and 2 balls of Meilenweit Mega Boots Stretch in #710 and #704. 
This is pretty much an accurate representation of my sock yarn stash, there are a couple other odd balls in there, but for the most part that's it. Just enough to keep me busy for a little while (or a long while). The best part is, it all fits in this tidy little box:

I don't think I'm going to bother going under the day-bed to unearth the non sock-yarn stash today, I may leave that to another post, it's a little less tidy, and very much not in one little box... 
I have a new pair of socks, a hat, and a shawl to show off, but I'll save them for another day.
Peace Vince!
xox Tan

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

One extra picture

Yesterday when I posted about my first baby Surprise Jacket, I was having technical difficulties and couldn't upload this last picture. I like this pic because my socks match the sweater... duh, the sweater was knit with the leftover's from these socks plus the blue on the ground. Lovely.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Baby Surprise Jacket

I don't know why I've waited so long to blog about this project, it's been done for well over a month now! And I love it! You'd think that would be enough motivation to get it blogged promptly. Anyways, here it is, my first Baby Surprise Jacket. I knit it using leftover sock yarn. knit on 3.25mm needles. It's teensy, but it's adorable.

I combined 2 leftover skeins of sock yarn, Kaffe Fassett for Regia in Storm, and my own Blue Label Fingering weight yarn in lagoon. I'm really pleased with how the colours coordinate.  just sort of knit a little bit with one, then switched to the other, no rhyme or reason behind the placement. it was my first BSJ, so I couldn't plan the stripes seeing as how the whole thing just looked like a blob until the very end.

The pattern is totally ingenious. I'll definitely be knitting more of these little lovelies, but the next time, I think I'll up needle sizes to 3.5mm or 3.75mm, this one is pretty small, but it's so cute that even if it only fits the recipient for a month, or not at all and ends up being a dolls sweater, it'll still have been worth it.

Here's the required shot of the thing before it's folded origami style and seamed up into an actually sweater, sorry for the bad lighting, it was night and I couldn't wait to seam it up so I just took a picture of it with the flash... bad shot, but you get the idea.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

She does look good in red!

Remember back when I knit Stella her first sweater? It was very cute and I was proud of myself for fitting her very curvy body. But I thought that she needed something a little bit more special, something less grey and more red! So, here she is in her new red sweater! And I think she looks very pretty.

The yarn is my new aran weight in the Royal Flush Colourway. I'm very happy with the result, both with the pattern and the yarn. It fits her much better than the first one. The first was really just the prototype, now I've got the formula down pat. This red version has a nice big turtleneck to cover her long neck, and is significantly longer in the body, it actually curves over her bum to cover her hips and is really nice and warm. 

I put a cable down the back, and I love this cable. I only wish that I had put some little border cables down either side of the center braid, I think it would have been nicer and more finished looking. But Stella doesn't seem to mind.

I've also completed my first pair of monkey's! I turned this:

into these:

I really like these socks and think that the pattern is very simple yet clever. But I can't help but feel like it's waisted on a multicoloured yarn. You can barely see the cool geometric lace pattern. I'm almost done my second pair of monkey's, this pair is being knit with my tonal yarn, and I think I'm liking the results much more. Hopefully I'll have them done by the weekend.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Shop Update!

I've finally gotten around to sitting down and spending some real quality time with my Etsy site! I've updated it to include listings for my new Green label Aran Weight yarn. Here are a few pics:

To see more visit my shop. It took forever to photograph all the colours, but now that they're all up I feel like I've been so productive today! I also mailed 2 wholesale orders today. So, things are really moving along over here at TFA. Progress is very exciting!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Best shoes ever!

About a month ago I decided that I needed new casual shoes to wear around with jeans and my usual casual apparel, but I also decided that I was too lazy to trek it downtown to do some actual shopping. I ended up at this website, and the rest is history. Yesterday my lovely custom keds arrived in the mail and I couldn't be more smitten.

I didn't actually plan on designing or buying a pair of custom keds, but then one thing led to another and I was experimenting and playing and ended up with what I think is a pretty cool result! It's a photo of a swatch that I knit with yarn that I dyed printed onto a shoe that I customized. They just feel so special! I just wish that I had had the foresight of printing Tanis Fiber Arts on the side so that then they'd be a complete TFA marketing package! But maybe the knitted shoe look speaks for itself. Chris said they kind of look like slippers... 

I love them!

I think they look especially nice when worn with a nice pair of hand knit socks!

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Elijah in blue

Last year for Christmas I made this adorable wee elephant for my god-daughter. The pattern was so cute and though my particular version turned out a little bit wonky (crooked trunk and all) I loved the overall result. There's just something so sweet about a hand made stuffed animal! So when I saw tons of these being knit up on ravelry, I couldn't resist continuing the stuffed elephant trend and made this year's Christmas gift, Elijah, in Tanis Fiber Arts Tidal Colourway.

If it's possible, this elephant is even cuter than the first. I have plans to make one in every colour I dye. It would be so cute it pink or yellow! I'm not sure what I'll do with them all, maybe just line them all up and hug them when I need a pick me up!

I've got a couple other projects to blog about in the near future. I made my first pair of Monkeys using this lovely skein of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Purple Rain:

They're lovely and I'm a convert to the monkey's. I've already cast on my second pair in Tanis Fiber Arts Orange Blossom, and though I love my Purple Rain monkey's, they're really nice in the tonal colourway because it really shows off the graphic lace.  Finished photo's will be posted shortly.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

TFA Koolhaas

There's an exciting new yarn from Tanis Fiber Arts (if I do say so myself!) It's an aran weight superwash merino wool. (To be added to my Etsy site shortly!) Perfect for cool weather winter knits, like this hat!

It's Brooklyn tweed's beautiful Koolhaas pattern knit in my chestnut colourway. I think the subtle colour variations work really well with this textured geometric pattern. I can't wait to knit up more projects using this yarn. I think that next on my needles will be the February Lady Sweater, but I just can't decide what colour to knit it in! I think it's a good sign that I like all of my colourways enough to want to knit my favorite projects out of them. Not to sound like a brat, but it would be bad if I made colourways that I didn't even like myself, but seeing as how I like them all so much that I can't chose which one to knit first... that's got to be a good sign!

This hat's supposed to be a gift for Chris's uncle... but it may not make it out of the apartment... Chris seems to have taken a liking to it.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Turn a square hat

Ever since my Fiddlehead mittens, I have become a huge fan of using kureyon yarn with a neutral base. I followed the pattern for brooklyn tweed's Turn a square hat exactly and have reconfirmed to myself why I love this combo so much. Here's the finished result, please forgive my model for being so serious looking in this photo:

And here's a detail shot of how the circles turn into squares at the top of the hat, genius! 

I think that this colour combo is especially successful because it's very subtle in places, like at the top where it fades to very light shades of green and yellow. It doesn't have to scream "Hey! I'm multicoloured Noro yarn!" It still gets the point across. I was so inspired by this combination of yarns that I'm cooking up plans for a classic cardigan for me using this stripe effect, as well as a striped sweater for Stella, but we won't wear them at the same time of course. I was sort of planning on giving this hat to my brother for Christmas, but I'm kind of in love with it, plus I've already worn it a couple times, so I may have to make him another one, I also think that my dad would look awfully cute in a striped hat. Good news is, it's a nights worth of knitting! We may be a very stripy family before I'm over this. 

And just for kicks, this is what passes for very amusing in my household. It a dog with a tiny head wearing a hat!  

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Mr. Greenjeans

Remember a little while ago when I showed you this?

It was the beginnings of a pair of socks that turned into these:

They are my first new pair of socks for the winter 08/09 sock wearing season and I feel like I'm off to a good start! They were knit in Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Lightweight in the Mr. Greenjeans colourway. I knit them top down on 64 stitches on 2.25mm needles. I downsized to 2mm needles for the short row heel and for the toe. I think that they're perfect for me! I wouldn't change a thing! To be perfectly honest, I prefer a standard slip stitch heel, but because the of changes in the number of stitches due to the decreases after picking up stitches from the gusset, it always ends up really distorting the rhythm of self striping yarns. I'd rather deal with a slightly tight heel then have to stare at weird pooling. Very pleased. Gorgeous blue-green colourway, so sad it's been discontinued! 

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Dad's Moss Socks

There are some people that I don't really knit for. When an occasion comes along where I feel inclined to give them a gift, say a birthday or Christmas, I'd rather just buy something thoughtful rather then knit them something. It's not because I don't like them as much as I like the people that I do knit for, it's just that I've found that some people just don't understand the effort, the time and the love that goes into knitting a gift by hand. They receive the gift and graciously say thank you, and they probably even think that it was really nice that you knit them something, but then they put it aside with all their other possessions and don't give it the importance it deserves. I don't blame them, chances are they probably weren't raised in a household that emphasized crafts and hand made gifts. They just don't realize how much of you is actually a part of that gift. I once gave a friend a sweater for her baby and despite seeing them every couple of weeks since the day he was born I never once saw him in the sweater. Now, I just buy them gifts. I still love them, but I shop for them, I don't knit for them.

My cousin Michelle is not one of the people I shop for. For her, I knit so much she's probably sick of it! When I was first figuring out how to knit I made her baby a sweater that was falling apart at the seems after one afternoon of wearing it, but she still put it on her every chance she got! I once gave her a sweater that I'm sure was kind of tight in the armpits and knit out of a particularly scratchy wool, not very comfortable, but she wore it like a champ whenever it got chilly. And she still wears all the stripy, pooly, crazy socks I knit her when I was nuts about multicoloured sock yarns, even though they are pretty outrageous. She's the kind of person I love to knit for. But we grew up with a grandmother who knit in all her spare time, and we had the value and importance and specialness of hand-knits engrained in us since we were little. That's the kind of person that's rewarding to knit for. Someone who understands and really appreciates the process, wether the result is as perfect as something that could be bought at the Gap is so not the point, it's the fact that you made it yourself, that's where the value comes from. 

Another wonderful person that I love to knit for... my Dad! When it comes to my dad it's all about the hand knit socks. Last year I made him his first pair of knit socks and after about a month my mother begged me to knit him another pair because she said that it was all he would wear! She would have to pull them off his feet to put them in the laundry and then he'd put them right back on the second they were dry. Clearly, he needed another pair. So I made him another pair. During the following 6 months or so of appropriately cold weather I did not see my father even once when he wasn't wearing one of the 2 pairs of socks that I had knit him. That's the kind of person I like to knit for! So here you go Dad, your next pair of socks to help get you through the winter:

They are the Retro Rib Socks from Interweave Knits Favorite Socks. I knit them in my own yarn in the Moss colourway. Hope you like them!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Kiri Shawl

I never really thought of myself as a lace shawl person. Though I admired their craftsmanship and thought that they were really beautiful as objects, I couldn't imagine how I would work one into my wardrobe. But then I realized that even if I were to technically knit myself a shawl, nothing would be stopping me from wearing it wrapped around my neck like a scarf, which is something that I have plenty of use for, I love scarves! So, with that in my head I set out to knit my first shawl. The Kiri Shawl. I had been wanting to knit a lacy shawl with my fingering weight yarn for a while (because even though I didn't consider myself a shawl person I knew that my yarn would lend itself very well to the application). So, here it is, my first shawl, knit in my Peacock colourway:

When I actually wear it, I probably look more like this.

I'm really happy with how the whole thing turned out. I've been wearing it casually thrown around my neck all week, even though it hasn't really been all that cold. I went to the movies on Sunday and it proved very handy in the heavily air conditioned cinema. I love how I can wear it all scrunched up around my neck and have it look lovely, but then when I take it off, say when I sit down to eat at a restaurant, and drape it over the back of my chair, it transforms from a scarf into an intricate, lacy, fascinating piece of knitting. 

The colour was very difficult to capture in these photo's, this is probably the most accurate:

Can you sort of see how there are bits of darker blue and greener turquoise? It's really quite varied in tones, but I'm not as good at photo-taking or photo-shopping as I need to be to really show off the qualities of this yarn. A great introduction to shawls.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Gathered Pullover

I think I have a new all time favorite sweater. Presenting the Gathered Pullover from Interweave Knits Winter 2007, arguably my most successful and wearable knit-by-me sweater ever:

See, so wearable, I'm just casually wearing it at the dog park while I give my puppy a run. I knew while I was knitting this that I was potentially going to love it, the yarn is so soft, the colour is everything I love (purple with blue, teal and pink all shimmering through in it's heathery goodness) and the pattern is simple and elegant yet interesting and special. Such a great combination. I made the smallest size and added a little bit of waist shaping, but other then that followed the pattern exactly. Actually, I added a hem to the bottom because is was really curling, and I did a purl row half an inch up the wrist because it helped keep the curling to an appropriate level on the cuff. But that's it. 

Not much else to say about it. I just love it, and plan on wearing it all winter, every winter, for many winters to come. And it only took me a week from start to finish.

Now, I'm knitting this sock:

(Stella loves to pop her head in my pictures, did you notice her in the first Gathered Pullover shot? She's too much!) It's going to be a pair of basic socks knit on 2.25mm needles over 64 stitches using BMFA Socks that Rock Lightweight in the Mr. Greenjeans colourway ( Sadly, I think it's been discontinued). I'm going to do a short row heel on a 2mm needle to a) assure durability and b) keep the striping continuous. They are going to be lovely, practical and durable. You never can tell how successful multicoloured self striping yarns are going to be, sometimes they just pool horribly, but to my relief I think that this striping is happening in a very lovely rhythm. 

I finished my Kiri shawl this weekend, but I'll save that update for another post. Peace!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008


Today I did a little assessment of my works in progress. You see, I'm actually a very guilty knitter. When I start a new project I feel very conflicted. I'm usually very excited to be knitting a new and exciting project that I'm crazy about right at that moment, but then at the same time I feel bad because I almost always have at least one other project on the needles that I felt the exact same way about hen I started it. I'm a fickle knitter. Lately I've been trying really hard to finish up projects that I had started and then discarded, or if I start something new to stick with it until it's done and not let the allure of something new pull me away from it. And today I'm proud of myself. I only really have 2 WIP's that I need to get my butt in gear to finish. Both were started in the Winter/Spring of 2007 (I think around March), and both were my pure obsession for all of a couple of days when I first started them. The first is my Bohus Yellow Lace Collar sweater

I still think it's absolutely stunning, and I'll wear it very proudly when I eventually finish it, but I just can't seem to muster up the interest in knitting two hundred and some odd stitches of knits and purls with colour changes on 2mm needles these days. I think that my lack of inspiration/motivation with this project lies in the poor colour choice I made for myself. As always, I was trying to veer away from my usual all blue habits and take a risk and knit something classic and elegant with subtle beauty that I would love forever even though it wasn't blue, and I picked this kit containing green's and beiges that I think are really beautiful, but just aren't really me. I will finish it, my goal for this bad boy is to have it done by my birthday (in April).

My next WIP is a sad lonely mitten. My one Northern Lights Mitten from Knitpicks in palette (my own choice of colour combinations) has been without a mate for far too long. I really enjoyed this first mitten, but couldn't seem to convince myself to cast on for it's twin. My goal for this project is to make this single mitten a partner by Christmas, and then maybe even gift it to someone! That'll get me going. 

Of course I don't count my Mitered Square Afghan as a Wip because I've intended all along that it be the type of thing that I pick up whenever the mood should strike me, knit a little bit, and then come back to when I next feel like it. I also don't count socks, because I've always got at least one pair of socks going. Something simple to carry with me and work on when I'm away from home. 

So, having concluded that I only have 2 WIP's hiding in boxes under my daybed, and firm-ish deadlines for when they are to be completed by, I can move on to my next project feeling absolutely no guilt! As soon as I post this entry I'm going to cast on for the Kiri shawl and knit it in this lovely yarn:

It's my own fingering weight yarn in Peacock. A colour I'm particularly fond of. I've never knit a lace shawl before, I didn't really think that I could picture myself in a shawl, but I see myself wearing this more as a scarf, not draped over my shoulders, so hopefully it'll all work out. Here I go!