Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Handspun Prism Shawl

Fastest shawl I've ever knit. I cast on Saturday, by Sunday night I was done!

Handspun Prism Shawl

I loved this skein of yarn. I loved it so much that I thought I'd just wind it into a cake and take some photos of it.

Prism handspun

Once I had it wound into a cake and I had snapped a few photos, I decided that I might as well just go ahead and see how it would knit up.

Prism handspun

I took a couple of my favorite shawl construction elements and then just went at it! I wanted something quick and simple, I only had 327yds of handspun and wanted to use up every last yard of it. I didn't want to knit a lace pattern that was too fancy because I thought that the bold colour shifts would take away from any intricate patterning. So I simply alternated between plain stockinette portions, garter stitch rows and eyelet rows.

Handspun Prism Shawl

When I was running out of yarn I worked a simple graphic border. I didn't want it to just end... I love a little bit of a scalloped edge and pointy tips on my shawls.

I didn't let the shawl dry completely before I pulled it off of the blocking board (or "blocking bed" in my case) I was too excited to try it on! Plus, Stella was giving me the evil eye, she was tired of being stuck in the corner of her own day bed!

So please excuse the fluttery edges, I'll have to re-block it someday... if I ever stop wearing it.

One of the things that I'm quite happy about is the way that the colour repeats flowed. I was a little worried that as the shawl grew and I had more stitches on my needles and as the colour repeats got shorter that I wouldn't like the look of it. I don't particularly like the look of triangular shawls that are knit with yarns that have long colour repeats, you get big clear blocks of colour at the beginning and then short, stripy bits at the edge, it just doesn't flow for me.

Handspun Prism Shawl

The reason that I think the colours work well in this particular case is because of the blue-purple portions. It wasn't something that I was clever enough to plan, but I'm so happy that they are there to anchor the rest of the rainbowy colourful madness.

Handspun Prism Shawl

The blue portion even fell perfectly on the cast-off.

Handspun Prism Shawl

This shawl just makes me happy. Honestly, I'm pretty sure that I would love it even if it turned out horribly, I'm still a new spinner and am always amazed that I can actually make yarn, so to make a shawl out of yarn that I made is enough to put me over the moon! Add to that the fact that it is so soft, light, squishy and huggable and I've found my new favorite casual shawl.

Handspun Prism Shawl

Since it features every colour in the rainbow that means it matches everything, right?

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Lilia's nightsongs shawl

I finished knitting a nightsongs shawl in my new Mulberry Silk yarn for my sister Lilia. I thought about keeping it as a surprise, Lilia is going to be my maid of honour at my wedding in June and I wanted to knit her, and my two bridesmaids, silk shawls. But then one day Lilia was over at my place and we were looking at all the silks and I was asking her what colour she liked (she eventually chose Blueberry as her favorite) and then we talked about patterns and one thing lead to another and I totally told her what I had planned. I won't show her the finished shawl in person until I actually give it to her, that will be the surprise. I do my best to take decent photographs, but the softness and the drape really have to be appreciated in person.

Without further ado... here it is!

Lilia's Nightsongs Shawl

I had some issues with the pattern the first time I knit this shawl. It is a free pattern and I hate to criticize something that I got for free, but I just don't get why someone would go to so much trouble to make charts and write instructions for such a beautiful shawl but then not follow through with proper editing and clarifications. Last year when I knit my first version I spent a good deal of time searching for helpful notes on Ravelry to figure out where to stop and start on the chart. For this version I thought that I remembered what I did, I had a section of the chart highlighted and figured something out. I omitted the double yarn overs that ran down the center of the shawl because I didn't love them in my first version and I think that I took better notes this time around.

Lilia's Nightsongs Shawl

The colour changes in the yarn were very difficult to capture in photos. The shawl is a purply-blue with streaks of brighter purple and turquoise running through it. If you look closely in the photos above and below you can see hints of it.

I still love all the things that I loved from knitting it the first time around, the pointy border, the organic feather shapes, the sheen and crispness of lace...

Lilia's Nightsongs Shawl

And oh the drape!!! I just love how it hangs. This might be one of my favorite qualities in my Mulberry Silk, the feel. Its hard to describe, it just feels so lovely wrapped around my shoulders.

Lilia's Nightsongs Shawl

Below is version 1 (on the left, I've been wearing it for months and haven't re-blocked it) and version 2 on the right. See the big holes running down the center of the first shawl and how I omitted them on the second? I'm happy that I did, but I think that in doing so I added stitches somehow and made the edge differently... I don't know exactly what happened there, I don't think that you would notice unless you laid it flat on the ground like this and examined it, draped around shoulders you would never see that it has extra points around the tip, but if I make a version 3 (which I probably will someday) I'll try and get the edging to look more like version 1.

Nightsongs Shawl - old and new

I learnt a lot while knitting this shawl. I've figured out some basic things that I like and that I don't like in a shawl construction. Things that are easy to modify in any pattern, and that is very exciting for me. I think that I'm becoming comfortable with lace and shawl design and I can start knitting shawls sort of like I knit socks. I'll read a sock pattern and then maybe substitute my favorite heel and toe, knit it top-down instead of toe up, make little changes that I know I'll prefer. Now, I can start applying my preferences to my shawls as well!

Lilia's Nightsongs Shawl

I've got two silk shawls down and one more to go for my bridesmaids, I haven't decided on a colour or pattern for the third, but I'm definitely looking forward to knitting with silk again!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

handspun socks

I feel like I have blogged about this yarn about a million times already! (ok, maybe only 6 times.) Now I'm going to blog about it for a 7th time because I have an FO in it!

Plain, simple, top-down handspun socks. Really fun and quick to knit because I was always looking ahead to see what colour would come next.

First ever handspun socks!

The 2 socks are definitely not identical twins, but I kind of prefer my multicoloured socks to be fraternal twins anyways.

First ever handspun socks!

So, to answer a question posed in one of my earlier postings about this yarn... was it worth all the time it took me to spin this 3 ply? Absolutely! I am so proud to be able to wear socks that I knit out of yarn that I spun myself! (Not that I'm actually wearing them, for now they are still only for admiring!) And I still have just over 120g (475 yds) of yarn left to make into a shawl. That being said, I've put the remaining yarn on the shelf for a while, I won't be blogging about it again for a bit, I think we could all use a little break from having to type/read Crabby McCrabbypants!

First ever handspun socks!

Monday, 22 March 2010

wedding invitations

I was in the middle of writing a blog post all about my wedding invitations when it occurred to me that I had not shared my Save the Date's with you all yet! So, today will be a full review of my wedding stationary so far! Sorry, no knitting, spinning or fiber fun content here today, come back tomorrow if wedding stuff isn't really your thing.

The timing worked out well for us and we were able to use one of our engagement shots for a Save the date Holiday card. Below is the photo we used for the front of our card and the Save the Date info that we had printed on the inside left of the card. The inside right said Happy Holidays with a hand written message from us, and on the back we had a little shot of our mittened hands as a last personal touch when you turned the card over. It was fun, we ordered the cards off of Kodak gallery. It was inexpensive, we were able to customize every side of the card and it was quick and easy! The quality wasn't super amazing, but you get what you pay for, and for what we paid, I think that it was just fine. People seemed to like them! It's always fun getting holiday cards, and these were a little extra special and personal so hopefully it upped the fun factor when our family and friends opened them.

So, that brings us to our actual formal invitations. I wanted to show you the Save the Dates first because we tried to carry through some of the design elements. Oh, by the way, isn't it funny that our Save the Date design is similar to my TFA label design!? We didn't do it on purpose, but obviously blue borders and navy text is a look we like!

Chris and I brainstormed what we wanted to see in our invitations, we came up with: the colour blue, a "crest" design that could be re-interpreted on all of our wedding stationary, love birds, our initials and dots. It seems like a lot, but we managed to get just about everything on each page element. The front of our invitation features elements from the crest that Chris designed (which you'll see in full in a bit). We also tried to incorporate textures, the side of the card is frayed, the shiny ribbon, linen paper, contrasting textured papers... since we were doing all the work ourselves we wanted to make sure that one of the payoffs would be that we would end up saving money. It seems obvious, but trust me, once you get to the scrap-booking section of your local craft store and are staring at a wall of gorgeously fabulous shiny, sparkly, textured and super expensive papers, its very easy to get carried away! Since we weren't going to spend a bundle, we chose a few pretty papers to use in small doses for maximum impact.

The inside of the invitation is where all the info is! The right side features our crest in full along with the formal invite. The left side has an envelope with a scalloped top edge and three cards that fit neatly (and snuggly) into it; our RSVP postcard, our Wedding Information card and our Reception card. The cards all overlap to reveal just the top half inch of the card behind it, they all line up just under a row of dots. The love birds are courting each other from one card to the next.

We chose to do a postcard for our RSVP cards. Saves on the cost of an extra envelope and allowed us to get our crest printed in larger scale, of course with a polka dot background.

And of course, just in case anybody wasn't sure, we wanted to make it very clear that we made these ourselves! I mean, come on! We worked really hard, I wanted there to be no mistake as to where they came from.

Now that they are all done and mailed and there is no more invitation drama to deal with, the fun part has begun! The RSVP cards are flowing in and I love checking the mail every day! People's comments are so nice to read.

It makes me so excited for the big day!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Prism handspun

Well, it certainly didn't take long for me to hold true to my claim that I would start spinning with my own multi's asap. I posted about it on Wednesday and had my finished bobbin full of 2-ply yarn by Thursday. Gotta love how quick and easy a simple 100g of 2-ply is now that I've tackled the challenge of spinning 240g of fingering weight 3-ply!

This colourway always makes me smile. Doesn't it just look like the lightest, prettiest, funnest cloud of pre-drafted roving you've ever seen!?

All spun up, 100g = 327yds of sport weight 2-ply yarn. It has long colour repeats, I think I'm going to make a scarf or shawlette with this.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Multi's in roving!

Since I'm clearly drawn to multicoloured rovings I decided that it was high time I start dyeing my own! So, without further ado, here is my superwash merino roving done up in my multi's.

I'm smitten, can you tell?

Naturally, I think that the first one I'll play around with is the most multicoloured of them all! Prism!
If you'd like to add some of these beauties to your stash, please visit my shop.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

thanks Sara!

My best friend Sara is an extremely talented painter. She also does needle felting in her spare time. This year for her birthday I sent her a little box of scrap roving, some of my hand dyed BFL, some leftovers from other projects. This morning I found this adorable brooch waiting for me in my mail box! Isn't it cute? Sara used the roving that I sent her to make me a thank you gift. I love it. Thanks Sara!

I cast on for a simple sock with my Crabby McCrabbypants handspun yesterday. It is just flying off the needles. I love knitting plain, easy, fast socks like this. Its so fast to knit, but with cool yarn that keeps changing colours its never boring.

I'm also working on a shawl for my sister in my Mulberry Silk yarn. She picked the colour and the pattern and I'm doing the knitting. It doesn't look like much in the photo below, but trust me, its going to be beautiful!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Crabby McCrabbypants handspun

While I was spinning this yarn I sort of hated it. From start to finish it took close to 3 weeks. I had 240g of roving and I wanted to spin it all at once. I loved the colours, but I had never spun a 3-ply yarn before and wasn't super confident that I would be happy with the results, so the fact that I was spending so much time on it was worrying me. I just wanted to finish it so at least I would know if it was worth it or not. Well, now that I'm done and I can stand back and admire it I can safely say that I love it! Was it worth it? I don't know, I'll have to wait and see how it knits up before I know for sure if I'll be spinning many more 3-ply's.

I wanted to do a 3-ply for a couple of reasons, 1) I wanted to try and learn something new and 2) I had this notion that maybe I would knit myself a pair of amazing handspun socks and that a 3-ply yarn would be sturdier. As I was spinning away I changed my mind about the socks, it seemed crazy to spend so much time and effort on something that if loved and worn frequently, would inevitably get holes in them and be ruined! However, now that I'm done and I've calculated the yardage and realized that I have almost 800yds of fingering weight yarn I've changed my mind again and decided that not only will I knit myself a beautiful pair of socks, but since I have tiny feet I'll have plenty of yarn left over to knit a lovely shawl as well. So I get the best of both worlds! A pair of socks that will be fun but won't last forever, and a shawl that will be funky and will last for years.

Crabby McCrabbypants Handspun

197g: 792yds!!! That's more yardage than 2 skeins of Socks that Rock lightweight! I spun the singles as thin as I could and gave them quite a bit of twist. When plying I was very careful to make sure that there was plenty of twist to balance the singles and make for a sturdy and durable yarn, give my socks a fighting chance to last at least a couple of seasons! I gave the finished yarn a really good soak and then hung it from a doorknob with a can of tomatoes weighing it down to set the twist and that really worked! I dare say that it is a very balanced yarn.

Crabby McCrabbypants Handspun

One of my bobbins ran out before the other 2 when I was plying, that's why I have this 52g skein of Navajo plied yarn on top of my jumbo 3-ply skein.

Crabby McCrabbypants Handspun

I figured that since I was learning new skills I might as well try another spinning technique that looked really interesting and fun. Navajo plying did not disappoint! I watched this YouTube video than just dove in. It is so amazing to me that the same singles can combine to create such a different yarn. I'm really looking forward to experimenting with this technique on future spinning projects.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

from start to finish

It took much longer than I had thought it would (close to 3 weeks from start to finish!) but I have successfully spun my first 3 ply yarn! I don't have much time to blog today, so I'll just let the photo's speak for themselves.

A grand total of 249g's of handspun. 792yds of 3 ply and 200yds of navajo-plied leftovers. Ah...

I'll be back with more details on this handspun and more importantly, my plans for using it, tomorrow.

Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The Silk is finally here!

Very, very exciting news! My new mulberry silk yarn that I have been talking about for ages has not only arrived, it has been dyed and photographed and listed on the website and is totally ready for prime-time!

Ah, so silky... so shiny... so soft... so beautiful.

I can't say enough about this yarn. It's decadent. It's luxurious. It just begs to be photographed and is the kind of yarn that I have a hard time actually winding into a cake and knitting with because it just looks so darn good sitting there in a skein in all it's silky glory.

The dyeing process for this yarn, which I couldn't resist calling "Silver label" any other colour name just didn't seem appropriate, is much more labour intensive then my usual routine. Silk doesn't take the dye the same way that merino does, but adjusting my methods to achieve rich and dynamic colours is definitely worth the effort.

There are several colours that I just couldn't wait to see in the silk; Peacock, Blueberry and Shadow, all colours that I love and knew would translate well on silk. But a couple other colours really pleasantly surprised me.

Garnet, so rich.

Sand, I find it really looks like a precious metal, this would make a gorgeous shawl.

Amber looks like copper. The sheen of the silk really adds to the metallic look. Love it.

I've got my next project all ready to start. I'm so happy to finally be able to share this new yarn with everyone. I hope that you all love it as much as I do!

Friday, 5 March 2010

the little things

I've had a bit of a stressful week. Things are leveling out now and after several phone calls to my mom I'm gaining a bit of perspective. But being an adult is tough! Planning a wedding, running a business, house hunting... all stressful! People had told me to expect the occasional meltdown when the whole wedding planning process started, I haven't had any major freak outs yet, but I came pretty close on Wednesday. Y'know how Chris and I spent forever making our own wedding invitations? Well, on Monday we had them all stuffed, sealed, stamped and ready to mail, Chris brought them to our regular post office, mailed a few orders and then dropped nearly 100 wedding invitations in the mail bin. Janice, our lovely full time post office manager, saw him mailing all the invites and as he was doing it she noticed that they looked rather substantial. So, she pulled one out of the bin, measured it and weighed it and wouldn't you know, they were too heavy! They needed extra postage! By this time Chris was long gone, so Janice fished through the entire bin, pulled out every last invite and put them aside for me. I was back at the post office on Wednesday and nearly had a heart attach when she handed me this big pile of envelopes! I am SO relieved that she did though, because had she not taken the time to check they would have all been mailed and in about 2 weeks they would have all come back to me with big black X's on them and the words "insufficient postage" scribbled all over them! It would have been a disaster! It was just a little thing, but the fact that she took the couple of minutes to do that for me really saved me a lot of grief, and potentially also saved my marriage!

As a little thanks, I picked up a cute potted violet on the way to the post office this morning. I wanted to let Janice know how much I appreciated what she did. When I handed her the flower, just a little token of my appreciation, she looked like she was going to cry! I think I made her day! It was such a little gesture, but it had a wonderful effect. And of course, it made my day knowing that I brightened up her day.

I finished spinning the 3 bobbins of singles that I need to make my first ever 3-ply yarn. Pretty right?

I'm so impressed that even after hours of spinning all three bobbins have the same colour order. I know that it only makes sense that they should all be the same, I divided the roving into three lengthwise in order to attempt to spin 3 singles that changed from one colour to the next at the same rate. But I didn't really think that it would work! Between roving tearing, Stella walking through it, and me just messing up, I figured that I'd inevitably have three lovely but different looking bobbins. The fact that they match is another little thing that makes me very happy.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Starting the day off right!

I just love starting my day off with a cup of coffee. I dream of one day having a cappuccino machine, but even then I think I would brew some good ol' regular coffee in the morning and then enjoy a latte with my afternoon snack. Coffee has been made even better lately thanks to my new mug, the Stella mug, I just love waking up to that silly little face!

This mug actually belongs to Chris. I have become the queen of giving Chris gifts that I like as much (ok, maybe even more) than he does. For his birthday I gave him a stylish new desk chair for our office, a chair I'd been eyeing for a while! (It was on sale significantly when I bought it! I swear I didn't spend that much on a chair! Also, ours is white.) Next, since he's the cook in the family (did you know Chris cooked professionally for over 10 years, stopping just recently to join me at TFA? Best quality ever in a partner.) Anyways, so since he's the cook I bought him a beautiful red Le Creuset enamel pot for braising and roasts and what not, a pot that I have admired in cooking stores since I was a teenager. And then, the other day, this mug. I was ordering some prints on Kodak gallery and then totally fell for the trap that they set up for you at the end where they suggest other items you should buy. I've never had a custom photo mug before, I think it could get weird if all our mugs had photo's of us and our pets on them, but one mug is ok right?

I swear I'll have some good knitting content soon! Spinning up this 3-ply that I've been working on and knitting faithfully on one sock project has made for some pretty boring blogging as of late. But the 3-ply is almost done and the sock has had plenty of alone time with me, it's time to start something new!