Tuesday, 31 August 2010

TFA Tuesday - Katie's Wispy(er) cardigan

Katie is a very old friend of mine. She has lived most of her life in the southern United States, and I've always lived in Eastern Canada, but we've grown up together spending our summers at our family cottages in Nova Scotia. A while back Katie asked me if I could dye a special colourway for her. She's working on a huge TFA project, a blanket out of Green Label Aran weight yarn. She had chosen her colours and thought that a nice pop of chartreuse would round out the scheme she had planned. Since Katie is a good friend, of course I complied and the colourway we all know and love as Lemongrass was born! (I still sometimes think of it as Katie green!)

This summer at the cottage Katie was working on a Wisper/Wispy cardigan hybrid out of Pink Label Lace weight yarn in her custom colourway. It looked great on the needles, and now that its all done it makes me want one of my own very badly!

In her own words, here's what Katie had to say about this knit:

"I used the whisper cardigan pattern, but edited the sleeves to be straight and have ribbing at the cuffs like the wispy cardigan. I like the hem of the whisper, so I didn't add the ribbing there.

It's shown on my dressform, but I made it for someone smaller than me, so it will drape more on her, probably. It took 76 grams of laceweight, so not quite enough leftover to make another, but two skeins of laceweight would make 3 cardigans.

I love the way that the different directions of knitting are evident in the different colors and how the arms turn to orient with the hem. It was a good knit, took about 1 week of off and on knitting and a week of good solid knitting at the Shore."

Absolutely stunning! I love all the lace weight cardigans I've been seeing around lately and this is just the push I needed to start planning my own!

Thanks Katie!

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Purple Scraps Scarf

Thanks to everyone who has left a comment on my last post to enter the giveaway! I've learnt of a couple fabulous new-to-me shawl patterns thanks to you all! I'll be excepting comments until Friday, Sept. 2nd so if you haven't entered yet what are you waiting for!?

Despite my long post detailing all my current WIP's and all that I'd like to finish up sooner rather than later, my brief window of success after finishing up my new favorite Sweetheart Socks was quickly replaced by my weakness in the face of startitis.

I finished up my socks, grafted the toe shut and then went to toss the leftover yarn in my sock yarn scraps vase (yes, I keep all my leftover scraps of sock yarn in a lovely decorative vase that adds a touch of yarny, colourful goodness to any space!) Instead of just tossing the little ball of red yarn in among the rest, I decided that it was time to peruse the scraps and see what my collection currently consisted of. I have a ton of leftover sock yarn... I knit a lot of fingering weight yarn projects and have tiny little feet, so I always have yarn leftover! I started grouping my leftovers according to colour, 'cuz thats how my mind works, and I became rather fond of this particular grouping.

Purple scarps scarf

Nice, pretty, little purple and pink balls of yarn. Funny, because I didn't think that I knit that much in this colour scheme, but apparently I've knit plenty of purple/pink projects.
Some go waaaaaay back to years ago when I first started knitting socks (those two mismatched socks in the bottom right of the above photo were among my firsts. Pre-TFA and pre'-blog for sure!) With my perfectly coordinating collection of scraps I quickly cast on 500 stitches (well, as quickly as I could!) and started a simple linen stitch scarf. I'm not using a pattern, but I'd say that it's going to look something like this. Its so satisfying to be using up all these leftovers!

Purple scarps scarf

Friday, 27 August 2010

Sweetheart Socks - Plus a GIVEAWAY!

I finally finished my Sweetheart Socks and they were well worth the wait. They are beautiful! They are the prettiest socks I have ever knit and just looking at them makes me happy.

Royal Flush Sweetheart Socks

While finishing them I realized why they took so long from beginning to end, all those tiny little cables on tiny little needles really is tough on the hands! But they fit well and they look good from every angle!

I probably won't be knitting this pattern again, but I'm glad that I've done it this once. That heart cable is just so pretty!

Royal Flush Sweetheart Socks

Now to the fun part, I've got a beautiful skein of Silver Label Mulberry Silk yarn in the Royal Flush colourway to give away. Its the same colourway used in for my Sweetheart Socks, though the socks were knit in my Blue Label Fingering Weight yarn.

Here is the lovely skein of yarn that is up for grabs:

This skein is 95g, 475yds. A bit shy of my regular 115g, 550yds put up that I do for my silk yarn. It would be perfect for a small shawl or any shawl or scarf pattern that is typically written for a skein of sock yarn (perhaps a Haruni shawl?) To enter to win simply leave a comment under this blog post telling me what you would like to make with this skein. A winner will be chosen at random and announced here on the blog next Friday and this skein will be mailed to them asap. Please don't forget to leave your e-mail address in the comments so I will be able to get in touch with you should you win!

Good luck!

*Contest is now closed, a winner has been chosen and announced! Thanks for entering.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Wrap it up!

I feel like my knitting mojo needs to kick it up a notch. I'm knitting, not as much as I'd like to be since most of my time these days is fully taken by show prep, but nevertheless I'm still knitting yet somehow have nothing to show for it! I need a good FO to make me feel like I'm back on track. Here's a little run down on what I've been working on.

First up, socks! I've got 2 pairs of socks on the needles right now, both have been WIP's for months! The red Sweetheart Socks were started on Valentines day, and the maroon socks were cast on at the end of May. Good news is I finished one of the maroon socks last night! So at least I have that small victory. I have only the heel and foot of my second Sweetheart sock to finish off the pair, then I'll feel like I really accomplished something. I love those pretty socks and can't wait to show them off, I have no idea why they are taking so long. My goal for this week is to finish them!

Next up, another red knit, my bamboo Shedir. I started this hat while on vacation this summer, and sadly, I just don't think its a good match of yarn to pattern. I love the yarn, its soft and shiny and a beautiful shade of red, but all those cables in the hat pattern call for a yarn with more stretch. I haven't frogged it yet, but its only a matter of time. Don't you hate it when that happens?


I've been working on a little cardigan out of my Purple Label Cashmere sock yarn in the Deep Sea colourway. I swatched for it earlier this summer and love the swatch (done in Velvet).

My goal is to knit a light, throw-it-on-with-anything cardigan inspired by the look and feel of this little number. My problem with this knit is that I don't have 100% confidence in myself. I'm not positive that I'm clever enough to pull it off. I'm not working from a pattern, I just swatched and then did some calculations and have a plan, but its all very experimental and I'm new to this designing thing. I think my issue is that I'm getting close to where I'll have to start the sleeves... knitting a body is one thing, but then fitting in sleeves gets a little more complicated. Hopefully I'll muster up the courage (and faith in myself) to plow on. I really want this to work out! A cashmere cardigan would be so nice to wrap myself up in!

Of course I'm still picking up my hook and churning out a couple more circles when the mood strikes. This project is nowhere near the finish line, but it is coming along nicely.

Crocheted circles!

I've got one last project on my needles, this was a real spur of the moment decision. I've owned this Patons pattern booklet for a couple of years now and have had my eye on this Reindeer coat. I'd love to be able to wear it with jeans and boots for autumn walks in the forest with the dog. While I was on vacation this summer we went into town one day and this yarn was staring me in the face, and was on sale! I picked my colours (very similar to the ones used in the pattern, but instead of charcoal I'm using a purply-brown) bought the yarn and brought it all home with me.

Reindeer Coat

I completed the back in one day. This chunky yarn thing sure is satisfyingly speedy! I've knit half of one of the fronts and am not worried about having put it down for a while. I'm sure I'll pick it up again as soon as the air starts to get a little crisper and I can actually picture the day that I'll be able to wear it.

reindeer coat

So, there you have it. A round up of projects. Hopefully soon I'll have a round up of FO's to share! I'd love to knock a couple of these WIP's off the list of things to do. Its funny how I can get so excited about the start of a new project and can't wait to cast on, and then as soon as I do, all I want is to be able to cast off and call it finished. I just love checking things off that list!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

TFA Tuesday - Pfong001's pretty little girl cardigans

When I saw these next two cardigans pop up on Ravelry I was immediately smitten. I love the use of bold colour for kids, the cute accent buttons and those girls! They are just so pretty! Since I can't chose a favorite, I've decided to feature them both this week.

This week's talented knitter is pfong001. Here is the Tiny Tea Leaves Cardi knit in TFA Green Label in four bold and beautiful colours, Orange Blossom, Royal Flush, Peacock and Jewel. (Ravelry project page here.)

Next up is the always adorable February Baby Sweater knit in TFA Green Label in Peacock. (Ravelry project page here.) I've knit this sweater a couple times myself, but always in wee sizes for a tiny baby, seeing it knit for a 3 year old makes me want to make a bigger one for my almost 5 year old God-daughter. And those buttons! Such a nice touch.

Both sweaters feature these super cute, bold, tri-coloured flower buttons and I really think that they are what take these sweaters way over the top for me. I always think that buttons can take a knit from ok to really special if you think outside the box and put in a little bit of extra effort.

Knitting for kids is one of my favorite types of knitting. There is so much freedom to have fun with colour, shape and details. And when they look as happy to wear and show off their hand knit sweaters as these two cuties do, it's so rewarding too!

*images by pfong001 on Ravelry.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Waves of colour

More rainbow colours, this time its rows of mini skeins lined up to be made into kits. I love that this angle makes the skeins look like colourful undulating waves.

I'm flying back to the East Coast this weekend for a dear friend's wedding in Halifax. I'll be spending the weekend with my best girlfriends, the girls I met while at NSCAD learning about art and colour.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Happy Circles!

Ah, what a way to spend a couple hours on a Saturday morning! While doing my Fine Arts Degree I took 2 photography classes, I always liked the idea of photography, but the technical aspects and all that time in the dark room always left me cold. I just couldn't get into it, now I'm thinking I just wasn't working with the right subjects. Give me a whippet, or a stack of colourful crocheted circles and I'm happy for hours!

It took me a while to figure out what arrangement I liked best. First I started just stacking them. I liked it, and it was interesting because I divided them into colour groupings based exclusively on the outside colour, so even if the center of the circle was red and the second round was orange, if the outer colour was green, it went in the green pile. It was a new way of looking at these circles for me, and I think that it made me change my plans for the blanket that these circles will eventually become.

I tried a couple other ways of arranging the circles, in stripes, in a grid, neither way really worked for me in terms of a final photograph. Then I tried a flower. Pretty!

From there I made a bigger flower!

Then I decided to get random! After all, my original goal with the circles was to make a completely random, crazy, multicoloured blanket with them. I blogged a bit about it here. I let Chris pick out some weird colour combo's, I tried not to think about what I was doing and just go for it. I even started crocheting some of them together, just picking randomly out of the pile and working with whatever circle came up next. I liked this random approach, until...

I just couldn't help myself, no matter how random I try and be I am just too ruled by my colour wheel. I've proven it time and time again. I love the organized, gradual shifts in colour of a rainbow. I just can't fight the urge to put things in rainbow formation (even my sweaters in my closet are organized according to colour, and in rainbow formation naturally.)

This is when I think that I really hit my stride. I started getting all "photographer" on these circles, lying down to get the right angle, squatting in the closet to fit it all in the shot. It was so much fun!

I think I've officially changed my approach for my circles blanket, I'm going to have to do it in rainbow formation. Random colour chaos is great for some people, but I just can't do it.

I think that this is my favorite shot:
Ah... yup, just looking at these lovely rainbows of crocheted circles really makes me happy!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

TFA Tuesday - Crochet edition

This week's TFA Tuesday post is different than most for several reasons. First, I'm featuring two projects. Second, they are both crocheted. And third, this is the first post to feature objects not found on Ravelry.

These beautiful photos popped up in my inbox one day. Shireen sent me a note just to let me know that she had worked with my yarn and had enjoyed it. She sent along these shots to show me what my yarns had become in her capable hands. I love to see what people have come up with for my yarns. I usually browse Ravelry to see what inspiring knits are out there, but to have something show up in my inbox is a real treat. If anyone out there has a project that you think I might like, please share! I'll never get tired of it!

This purse is too cute. She's used a heavier dark brown yarn held with a strand of my Blue Label Fingering Weight yarn in Mallard for the body and then Mallard alone for the flower embellishments. The leather strap, the ribbon and the button detail, along with the flowers of course, really make this purse look finished and professional.

Shireen also worked up a gorgeous beaded shawl in my Blue Label Fingering weight yarn in Grape.

All I've ever crocheted are granny squares and circles, so this is very inspiring to me!

Even more, Shireen made up both patterns as she went along. I love that type of originality and boldness. It takes guts to trust your instincts and design for yourself, and its not easy. But when it works, clearly the results are well worth the effort!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Stella's close up

I am having a blast with my borrowed camera this weekend! Last night I went around stalking my favorite model and took plenty of shots. Here are a few of my faves:

This is Stella "not begging":

How could I ever resist that face!? Those ears!? I love how her face is in focus and her body is more blurry, I could never have taken that photo with my little camera.

Stella looking out the window:

Stella looking right at me, I rarely am patient enough to wait for a shot like this, but I'm glad that I did! When I think of Stella, this is the face I see.

And this is Stella in one of her all time favorite poses. Face squished up against a pillow, one leg curled under, one leg casually hanging, basking in the sun, completely relaxed... and only slightly annoyed by me shoving a camera in her face.

And don't think that I haven't devoted any time to my second favorite photography subject!

I spent close to 2 hours this morning taking photos of my little crocheted circles. I've got over 300 shots to sort through. I think I've decided on a favorite, but I'll save it for another day.

Friday, 13 August 2010

The Blue Blrick

I got a really nice e-mail the other day from a lovely lady named Shireen. Shireen makes beautiful objets and takes beautiful photos of what she makes. She knits, she crochets, she makes jewelry and pottery, and one project often influences the next. I love how the colours in this skein of Stormy found their way into this mug.
I am lucky enough to be able to borrow a friends high end camera this weekend to play around with. I have plans to invest in a really good camera this fall, my little point and shoot has served me well, but it definitely has its limits and there is much more I'd like to try. Luckily we've been dyeing like mad all week so I should have lots of colourful yarns to shoot with my borrowed camera.

Happy weekend!

image from: thebluebrick.ca

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Grammy's Peacock Cardigan

Last Christmas my 91 year old Grammy made the trip from Truro, Nova Scotia to Montreal to spend the holidays with us. Seeing as how she is my knitting mentor I thought it only fitting to give her a sweaters worth of yarn for Christmas. She started working on it right away.

She happily knit away at it over the holidays and then continued working on it when she got back home to Truro. She had to take a break from it when she had surgery on her eye, Grammy was almost blind when she started this sweater, and despite still having very poor vision after her surgery she was able to feel her way through the process. Knitting is so instinctual to her and is such a part of the way her hands move that she didn't need to be able to see to finish her sweater. She does know her limits though, I know it was hard for her but she asked me to sew up her finished cardigan pieces and then pick up the stitches for the collar, the fiddly work is just too hard on her (now 92 year old!) eyes.

I was able to finish it for her this summer at the cottage, and man, I don't know that I've ever been so happy about a knit in all my life! When Grammy put on her finished sweater she smiled from ear to ear. I can just picture her walking around her seniors apartment residence strutting her stuff in her Peacock sweater. She is very, very proud of it, and she beams when she wears it. My Grammy is a star, and to think that my simple gift of yarn could bring her so much joy just warms my heart.

Because Grammy and I share a deep, devoted and undying love of all things blue, here are some shots of my Aunt Linda's gorgeous blue hydrangea.

I really need to get one of these (or several) for my garden.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Design nod

A few months ago a friend got me hooked on this super cute design blog called Young House Love. It reminded me a lot of Chris and I, just a few years ahead of us...

I am super excited because they've honoured me with a coveted Reader Redesign spot on their very popular blog. Check it out!

While I'm at it, check out another of my favorite blogs. Today my very talented friend Jenna posted a recent revamped lamp she DIY-ed, I love the lamp, and I LOVE that she photographed her gorgeous bedroom with the Girasole I knit for her wedding present last year. I'm glad that the blanket is so at home and just right in her space, I recently found out that it lives on their bed permanently and that makes me so happy!

*photo by Jenna Rose

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

TFA Tuesday - Chris' first knit

I can't tell you how proud I am of Chris. While on vacation he knit his first hat, and he liked it! He's already planning many more knits for this Fall/Winter knitting season. I'm knocking on wood that this isn't just a phase and that he has really caught the knitting bug!

Without further ado, here is Chris' first knit, and this weeks TFA Tuesday inspiration knit!

Chris knit Brooklyn Tweed's Turn a Square hat in TFA Green Label in Moss and some left over Kureyon scraps I had laying around. He picked the colours, he gets full credit for this project. I simply helped if he asked me to and let him be when he was in the zone. In knitting this hat Chris learnt how to cast on, do ribbing, M1 stitch, knit jogless stripes, k2tog, ssk, knit in the round on circular needles and on dpn's and weave in ends. He's mastered it all and plans to tackle a sweater next. Congrats Chris!

His hat was a big hit with my family at the cottage, everyone wanted to try it on, and I think it looked great on everyone! Doesn't my parent's dog Chase look adorable in it? It looks almost natural!

And then there's poor little Stella, hats just don't suit her tiny little head.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Best vacation ever

I have spent every single summer of my entire life at my family cottage in Nova Scotia. When I was young, mom would pack us all up and we would move to the cottage the day after school let out, we would spend all summer there and then move back home usually the day before school was going to start up again (or as close to it as possible). Then I got older and things like summer jobs and then full time jobs got in the way of spending as much time there as I'd like. The past two years I've managed to squeeze in a one week vacation, but upon each return I always moaned about how one week just wasn't enough. This year, since Chris and I are both self employed we decided to take advantage of our summer and spend 18 glorious days at the beach! Sure, two of those days involved an 11 hour drive to get there and back, but oh was it ever worth it! Nova Scotia is so beautiful. I often wonder why I don't live there all year round, Chris and I have discussed moving to the East Coast many times, but our family ties and the fact that we love Montreal always prevent us from doing so. For now we're happy to just spend as much of our summers there as possible.

The weather this year was perfect. Mostly warm, sunny beach days with a few rainy days mixed in. The rainy days are welcome (as long as there aren't too many of them) because then I don't feel bad about leaving the beach to go into town for a morning.

This year Stella learned to swim. She had never expressed any interest in the water and, in fact her standard reaction was to stop on a dime as soon as her ankles got wet. But this year I think that she forgot that she didn't like the water and spent as much time as she could running on the beach and swimming from one sand bar to the next. Then, exhausted and cold (she's a whippet, she always cold!) we would bring her up from the beach and wrap her in a blanket so she could warm up.

Chris and I got the chance to go boating with my Uncle Hughie. It was a windy day, but its always fun to see the beach from the ocean's perspective.

We spent one of our grey days on a little day trip which included a visit to Lismore Sheep Farm. I love that place! I took a ton of photos of the cutest, wee-est little lambs you've ever seen, but unfortunately the lighting in the barn didn't play well with my camera and none turned out well. Just trust me that they were adorable and tiny. One completely black lamb was very friendly and loved to be pet, he even sucked on our fingers if we gave him the chance! We didn't leave empty handed, Chris and I both picked up a sweaters worth of rustic, wooly goodness.

Like I said, we spent most day playing on the beach. Sitting, tanning, swimming, walking, collecting beach glass, chasing after dogs, chasing after kids...

My Aunt Ruthie (she's not really my Aunt, but that's what I call her) got a puppy. Tucker spent a lot of time sleeping under beach chairs.

We spent one night dancing 'til the wee hours of the morning at the annual barn party. Its literally a dance party in a barn, and its awesome.

We ate lobster twice, we played cards and board games, we spent every day, every night, and almost every meal surrounded by friends and family. Chris and I have both unanimously voted that this was our best vacation ever.

photo's by me and Steve Cloutier via Facebook. Thanks Steve!