Wednesday, 28 April 2010

plain old sock parade

The other night I finished a pair of plain old stockinette socks. I knit socks for myself on 64 sts, using either 2.25mm or 2.5mm needles depending on the yarn. A bit of k2, p2 ribbing, a no fuss heel and toe, easy-peasy, super comfortable, practical socks.

This pair was knit using this yarn. I was reminded that I had it in my stash after completing this pair of handspun socks. The multiple coloured ply's in this yarn remind me of handspun, however the splitty, sort of crunchy texture of this commercial yarn is far from the lovely, soft, bouncy feel of handspun, which is actually very comforting. I'm glad that commercial yarns can't compare to handspun, if they did, then I wouldn't have a reason to spin. Though I do think that these socks are pretty, they're just not the same.


I think that they turned out very nicely. They were just what I needed to relax when I was tired of reading lace charts. I find the colour shifts interesting. They don't seem to follow an obvious pattern. The sock on the left starts green, yellow, purple, red... the sock on the right goes green purple, red, yellow. Its a bit of an illusion, at spots they look the same, but upon closer inspection they aren't. I think its neat.

As soon as I cast off those socks I started another pair of plain vanilla socks, this time using zitron trekking xxl in colour 108.


Clearly, I'm in a place with my knitting where I don't feel like having to think about what I'm doing. I also don't feel like having to get up and wind a skein into a cake to knit from, so I'm just pulling old balls of commercial yarn out of my stash. I can't remember exactly when I bought this yarn, but it was at least 3 1/2 years ago. Its about time I use it up!

The irony is, since I knit a lot of socks, both plain and fancy, and I have a handful of friends and family members who all wear the same size socks as me, I have a gift drawer. I knit way more socks than I personally need, so when I finish a pair of socks, I usually end up putting them in the drawer and saving them for gift giving, unless I'm knitting a pair that I totally love and greedily keep for myself! However, I've learnt that my friends and family, though appreciative of any gift, prefer wearing socks that I've knit out of my own yarn. It makes sense, they want to be able to wear them and tell all their friends that I knit them and that I even dyed the yarn, its a matter of pride, and I love that they are all so proud of me! Its also been noted that my yarn washes and wears better then some of the other sock yarns I've knit with. Which just thrills me! My mom has more than once pulled out a pair of my dads socks from the laundry to show me the difference between the TFA wear and the commercial wear, particularly on the heels that tend to pill and kind of matt up or melt together like there is some sort of plasticky material in the fiber.

At any rate, what I'm trying to say is that this leaves me with a drawer full of plain, flat, commercially dyed socks. Don't get me wrong, I obviously saw something that I liked in the yarn when I bought it, and I do love watching the colours shift in those funky skeins, but it just doesn't seem right that my friends and family all prance around in hand dyed, hand knit socks and I'm left sitting here in commercially dyed socks! Oh well, I have no one to blame but myself. Its actually kind of funny, since people know that I dye yarn for a living, when I'm at a friends house and they see my knit socks they immediately comment on them and ask if they were knit with my yarn, when I answer "no" they look at me so puzzled.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who does this. Do you ever give away all your good knits only to be left wearing socks with holes in them!?

Next, I'm going to knit a pair of socks with my new cashmere blend sock yarn, and I'm going to keep them for myself!!! That will make everything all right.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

TFA Tuesday - Mondo Cable cardi

I can't remember if the first time I saw this project on Ravelry I realized that it had been knit with my yarn... but I do remember loving it instantly! 

This is the Mondo Cable Cardi by  ExecutiveKnitter, knit in TFA Green Label Aran weight in Stormy.

I think that this project is successful and inspiring for several reasons, it's beautiful and totally wearable, the collar and the cable add lots of interest and are a really great scale. The colours in the yarn don't distract from the motifs and the motifs don't mask the colours, it's a perfect match of pattern and yarn.

I think that my favorite thing about this project is the fact that ExecutiveKnitter (the name says it all!) achieved the ultimate goal of not only knitting a totally wearable sweater out of hand dyed yarn, but also a sophisticated sweater. Sophistication and hand dyed yarn aren't words that often get strung together. We more often think of hand dyed yarns as cute for kids and accessories, but this piece proves that by combining the right yarn with the right pattern in the right colourway (I can't guarantee that this project would look as polished and sophisticated if it were knit in Orange Blossom!) hand dyed yarns can result in very chic and fashionable knit wear.

I want to knit one for myself, my little sister, my cousin and my mom, I love this sweater!

Sunday, 25 April 2010


Ever since Chris and I bought our house I've been trying hard not to get too carried away day dreaming about all the great things that we're going to get to put in it. I love being surrounded by beautiful things, and I love flipping through design magazines and putting my mark on my living space, but living in an apartment it can be frustrating to not be able to do all the things that I'd like to do. I've always put up art and taken pride in painting and decorating my apartments, but lately, work has taken over about 90% of our living space and no matter how much I "decorate" around it there is just no prettying up the fact that I have 7 boxes full of yarn stacked behind my living room sofa. And though I could always add nice tea towels or candles, I couldn't change the ugly counter tops or cheap ceramic tile in my apartment kitchen.

Anyways, my point is I am very excited to know that we are going to be living in this new house for many years (another drawback of apartment living, for me it always felt a bit temporary) and that we can finally invest in furniture that will really suit our space.

We have never had a dining room, and the fact that we will have one in our house is soooo exciting for us! As I've mentioned before, Chris worked as a professional cook for over 10 years, so preparing meals (and eating well!) is a very big part of our lives. One of the first things that we hoped to be able to purchase for our house was a dining room table. And we knew just the style that we wanted! I had been looking online and found a couple photos of the exact style that we wanted, I e-mailed them to my mom just 'cause, but we never actually thought that we would find the table or even more, be able to afford it for some time. We were planning on eating picnic style in the dining room for the first year or so! This is the style we were looking for, like this but larger, like this but not so country/shabby chic and with square legs and less chunky.

So, my mom got my e-mails and said "that's lovely dear" and then we both went about our lives, not giving it that much thought... until Friday when mom was casually walking through an estate sale that her friend helped to organize. She browsed through the whole house and then finished off in the basement, and wouldn't you know that in the corner of the laundry room she spotted the perfect table! Solid oak, in perfect shape, perfect rich colour, two drawers, square legs with just enough detail, unbelievable! And it had a coordinating small hutch/cabinet thing that is super multifunctional, we probably won't use it in the dining room, but it will be great in another room. Plus, they were practically giving it away! Mom called me and I headed over there in a hurry, we snatched it up immediately. Because we were feeling lucky we headed into a VON furniture store near my parents house, there we found a really great, really large desk with drawers for $20! I thought that it was a steal at $40, but was thrilled when I found out it was on sale for 1/2 price. We've been using a small-ish table as a desk for the last little while, and it was killing me not to have drawers to hide my papers and pencils in, right now they are cluttering up my little work surface in a bad way. Thinking we had done pretty well for ourselves mom and I called it a day, but not before running into mom's neighbour and making a deal to purchase her year old washer and dryer for a very good price because she was desperate to get rid of them.

So, on Saturday Chris and I borrowed a friends truck and drove around picking up our new purchases and storing them in mom's garage until we move to our own house on May 22nd. Thats why I have no photos of my lovely new furniture, it's all stacked in the garage! Not exactly photo friendly, but I will definitely be taking lots of pictures once we move in (in less then a month!) But so not to leave you with a photo-less post here is a shot of some silk waiting to be packed up and shipped...

I've been knitting to... more on that another day. I'm too busy day dreaming about eating our first meal in our new home at a real dining room table! Mind you... we still don't have chairs...

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Travelling Woman Shawl

What a perfect quick and easy shawl pattern. I knit this Travelling Woman shawl in 3 days of casual knitting, using one skein of yarn.

Travelling Woman Shawl in Velvet

As I was knitting this I wasn't sure that I was going to love the results. The shawl increases on both sides, at a quicker than I'm used to pace. Most of the shawls that I've been knitting end up looking somewhat like equilateral triangles, but this one is much more elongated, making for a long and narrow shawl. As soon as I was finished the knitting and the blocking and I got the chance to wrap this shawl around my neck I immediately fell in love with the long and narrow scarf like shape. I always wear my shawls wrapped around my neck like a bandana, or a scarf, with the point in the front, so this shawl, with it's long arms really works for me.

I knit this shawl exactly as written, except that I did 3 repeats of chart A (instead of 2, because I had plenty of yarn). My shawl is 58"wide and 15"deep.

Travelling Woman Shawl in Velvet

The yarn, my new cashmere blend sock yarn (look for it to debut at the Frolic!) lived up to every hope and expectation that I had for it. It's soft, it's velvety, it's luscious and is perfect for this type of item worn nuzzled up around your throat and face. Definitely results in something that you want to snuggle up with, so beware knitting socks with it lest you end up curled up in a ball, hugging and petting your socks!

Travelling Woman Shawl in Velvet

This colourway is called Velvet, it will be available in my shop soon.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

TFA Tuesday - bird themed knee high socks

This next TFA Tuesday featured knit pretty much speaks for itself:

Honestly, a super beautiful, impressive, difficult pair of colourwork knee high's!? If these don't make your jaw drop, I don't know what will! These socks were knit by pSTATqueen (on Ravelry.) Find her project page for these socks here. These socks were knit using TFA Blue Label Yarn in Garnet and Louet Gem's Pearl in Balck. 

The purpose of TFA Tuesday is to be inspired by other peoples knits, so for me, these socks certainly hit the mark. If you read pSTATqueen's project notes on Ravelry you'll learn that this was her first pair of toe up socks and that despite that, she improvised parts of the design to better suit her needs. I think you'll also find that she has a very casual and relaxed approach to knitting such a complicated pattern, she admits to having made little blips in the pattern, but not badly enough that anyone would ever notice, so she didn't bother ripping back for the little things. I think that is awesome! If you go into a project with an open mind and the notion that you will be ok if things don't end up totally perfect, I think you are far more likely to succeed in the long run, and to be happy with your results.

These socks are beautiful and if I had them I would do exactly what the model in the photos is doing, I would wear them outside with bare legs and no shoes for everyone to truly admire!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

sneak peek

I've got a brand new yarn that I'll be debuting at the Frolic, it's a wonderful, soft, squishy, velvety merino/cashmere/nylon blend sock yarn. I know that I'm not the first hand dyer to fall in love with this blend, and I certainly won't be the last, because this stuff is very lovable.

I've also got a few new colours that I will be introducing at the Frolic. Five new colours that I love and that I hope you will too. When I started dreaming up my collection of colours I was very concerned with making sure that I had all my bases covered. I wanted to represent every colour in the rainbow. Now that I think I've got at least one thing for every taste, I can start building on with colourways that don't simply fill a gap on the colour wheel, but rather add a dynamic punch and think out side the box. Here is a sneak peak of a new colour that I am working up into a sample for my booth at this year's Frolic.

This colour is called Velvet.

Using my new cashmere blend yarn I am knitting the Travelling Woman shawl. I wanted something simple and quick that I wouldn't lose my mind knitting on a deadline. I also wanted to pick a free pattern. When I knit samples for my booth I like to use patterns that are either sold by me and are available in my booth, or are free and easy to find. I want people to be able to see a sample that they like and not have to track down an illusive and hard to find issue of an out of print magazine to be able to knit it themselves. So, the Travelling Woman shawl fit the bill perfectly!

I am very happy with how this new colourway is working up. It's rich and dark and very wearable. Knitting with this yarn is like getting a manicure. It leaves my hands feeling like I spent all afternoon moisturizing. Its the cashmere, it's just so lovable!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Aeolian shawl

I finished knitting and blocking my Aeolian shawl the other day. This is the third and final shawl in my series of shawls for my bridesmaids. Considering there is still almost two months (or should I be saying only two months!) until the wedding I feel like I'm quite ahead of the game!

Aeolian Shawl

I think that this shawl is just soooo pretty. For me, its all about the border. It was quite a pain at first to figure out what points exactly I was supposed to be pinning out, but after a bit of Ravelry image searching and a little trial and error I was off and running. I actually LOVE blocking lace. Not only for the end result, which is always so satisfying, but for the process itself. When I blocked the Girasole blanket I knit for my friend Jenna's wedding gift I pinned out every little loop, one pin in each. It took all afternoon, but I was in heaven!

Aeolian Shawl

I chose to knit this shawl using the alternative narrow edging rather than the original edging. To compensate for the smaller border I did 6 repeats of the yucca chart instead of 4. If I were to knit this shawl, in this yarn, again and wanted to do the original thicker border I would only do 4 repeats of the yucca chart to ensure that I don't run out of yarn.

Aeolian Shawl

The yarn is Tanis Fiber Arts Silver Label Mulberry silk in the Plum colourway, I used about 90% of one skein. After having knit 3 shawls in this yarn I can very confidently say that I am very proud to have this yarn as a part of my collection. But I think I've already gone on at length about how much I love this yarn, so I'll stop now.

Sara's Aeolian shawl

At first I wasn't sure I loved the swooped wings on this shawl. But by not swooping them too dramatically I think that I can easily learn to live with it, in fact, I think I actually quite like it.

Aeolian Shawl

The pattern suggests 7 stitch or 9 stitch nupps. I instead elected to do 5 stitch nupps, for no other reason than because I was feeling lazy when I came around to the first nupp row. I think that next time I would make them 7 stitch nupps because if you're going to go to all the trouble of doing nupps, you might as well make them big!

Aeolian Shawl

Stella doesn't understand this whole knitting photography thing.

Aeolian Shawl
She finds the whole process very bizarre and unusual indeed.

Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

TFA Tuesday - Oyster Bay Shawl

I love reading craft and design blogs. I love seeing what people are knitting and what they are up to. I also love learning about what other people are inspired by. We all know that I knit a lot, and that I knit a lot with Tanis Fiber Arts yarn. Lately I've been seeing so many beautiful and inspiring projects knit by other talented knitters in TFA yarn, projects that I wish I had knit myself. So because of that I've decided to start doing a planned post every Tuesday called TFA Tuesday that will feature a work of art knit in TFA yarn by someone other than myself. Hopefully readers will find inspiration in these pieces like I do.

So, to kick off my inaugural TFA Tuesday post, I've chosen the beautiful Oyster Bay Shawl knit by GlennaC. (ravelry link, blog link)

Glenna knit this shawl in TFA Blue Label Fingering Weight yarn in the Royal Flush colourway. The reason I've chosen this project for my first post is because it has sentimental meaning to me. Not only is it really beautiful, but Glenna was wearing this shawl last year at the Knitters Frolic when I met her for the first time. Glenna has since become a great knitting friend to me. She is a super talented designer and has done some awesome design work for me this past year.

I love seeing people knit things other than socks with sock yarn. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE knitted socks too, its just really neat to see something as graceful and beautiful as a lace shawl come out of something as humble as a simple skein of sock yarn.

Last week, when I came up with my TFA Tuesday post plan, I knew right away that Glenna's Oyster Bay shawl would be my first featured knit, this morning as I was perusing her blog to find her post about it I discovered that she posted it exactly one year ago today! April 13th, 2009, its as if it was meant to be! Incidentally, today also happens to be my birthday!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

on the bright side

It was less than a year ago that Chris and I moved to this great, bright, spacious apartment on the top floor of our building, the penthouse if you will. We were very excited about the move, and this place has served us well. But once again I've gotten myself into the very unfortunate position of having to sublet my apartment. I hate being responsible for finding a tenant. I don't know why, I've done it twice before and both times everything worked out just fine. I really do believe that our apartment is a lovely place to live and whoever ends up here will be happy, it just feels like a lot of pressure, it makes me feel like a salesman. Anyhow, the bright side of all of this is that each time we have moved we've staged the apartment and taken some pretty flattering photo's of the space to show it off on Craigslist.

Its nice to have a few photos to remember each space by as we move on.

This last photo I did not include in the listing. The house has a basement, so soon, instead of just having a "yarn room", we will have an entire level of our living space devoted to yarn!

Our new house has plenty of beautiful features and is light and bright, but I know that I'll miss the 10 ft high ceilings and the amazing light quality that this place has. So though I'm not thrilled at having to tidy up and organize a sublet, on the bright side it is the perfect excuse to take a few photos and capture this place where we've spent 10 months of our lives making memories.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Big News!

You may remember me casually mentioning from time to time that Chris and I have been house hunting. Well, the hunt is officially over. We bought a house! This week has been crazy! We saw the listing Monday afternoon, visited the house Monday evening, put in an offer and had it accepted by Monday night! We've spent the rest of the week getting paperwork in order, having a home inspection done, and being pretty much flabbergasted at what just happened. We are very excited, its much better than what we ever thought we could afford, its in our perfect neighbourhood and is pretty much move in ready... which is great news since we'll be moving in mid-May, less than a month before the wedding, so we won't really have time to deal with much home improvement right off the bat.

So there you go! I still can't really believe it. It feels like for years Chris and I have been dreaming about "one day" way off in the future, when we would own our own little house, with a yard, a place to plant herbs and for the dog to run around. We feel so lucky.

My knitting/blogging time might be a little scarce for the next little while. With the show, the move and the wedding coming up I've got a lot on my mind. I've got an idea for a new blog segment that will keep this place from being too silent. You'll find out more about that on Tuesday. For now, I'm content just to sit and knit plain socks in colourful yarn and dream about sitting and knitting in my new house soon!

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

All over the place

I am knitting my third silk shawl for my third bridesmaid. This time I chose the awesome Aeolian Shawl and I'm knitting it in Plum.

I love this pattern so far! Just enough nupps, just enough charts to make it really interesting and oh so pretty. I don't have a WIP shot today, its raining and grey, plus it is at the stage where it just looks like a purple blob of bumps and holes. I'm on the edging now, I'm working the Alternative Narrow Edging not because I'm worried about running short on yarn, but because I think that I prefer it.

As usual, things are crazy around these parts lately. I feel like I need to stop saying that and just accept the fact that busy is my normal (and only) speed! The Toronto Knitters Frolic is coming up in a month, so I'm revving up to start getting all that organized. I love the Frolic, last year was my first year and it was so much fun! So I'm definitely keeping my drying racks full of yarn, yarn for the show, yarn for orders, either way I'm surrounded by yarn, so sure I may be busy, but I live in a cloud of yarn! I'm not complaining!

To ease my racing mind sometimes I need to knit plain stockinette socks. After knitting these socks I was reminded of this ball of yarn that I've had in my stash for a couple of years now:
Gradual colour shifts, bright shades, just what I need when the Aeolian charts seem like more than I can handle. I've got one sock down, one to go.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Happy Easter weekend!

Thanks to everyone who left such nice comments on my last post about my handspun shawl, you are all so lovely and encouraging! I will definitely take some time to write up the pattern for you all. But this weekend I'm relaxing, mom is hosting a big family Easter dinner on Sunday and I'm really looking forward to it. The weather here is amazing! Yesterday I was wearing shorts and sunscreen (and a t-shirt, but thats not as uncommon.)

Happy weekend everyone, hope you are all enjoying the sun as much as I am!

Handspun Prism Shawl

Thanks to everyone who left such nice comments.