Friday, 31 December 2010

Last post

I've said it over and over again this year, 2010 was a massive and amazing year for Chris and I. I've been reading all of my favorite blogs the past couple of days, loving all of the year-in-review posts detailing the high-lights and the low-lights of the year, I feel like I too should do a roundup, but right now, after the chaos and delight of the holidays, I am just too overwhelmed at all of our good fortune to sit and write it all down. I need a bit of time to think about it, let it sink in and then maybe I'll be able to sum it all up in one tidy post. 

Instead, for today, this last day of this amazing year, I'll leave you with this lovely photo of piles and piles of a custom Valentines day colourway I recently shipped off to a new retailer. I love that this colourway is sweet and romantic without being over the top red or hot pink. I did a little interview for the stores blog over the holidays that was posted today, feel free to pop on over and have a look! 

Thanks to everyone who has stopped by the blog over the past year to see what we've been creating. Chris, Stella and I are eternally grateful that there are so many wonderful and supportive knitters out there. See you all next year!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

A Handspun Shawl for Mom

I started knitting this project in secret this past September. I finally finished it on December 16th and I am absolutely thrilled with the result, and even more thrilled that I can finally share it! Voila, the Eliina shawl knit in my own handspun yarn!

Pretty Handspun Shawl

You may recognize this handspun from a very long series of blog posts that began last February and finally wrapped up in March. I was working on this yarn, my very first 3-ply handspun for weeks! The roving is Blue Moon Fiber Arts Sheep 2 Shoe in Crabby McCrabbypants. It was definitely a labour of love, and absolutely worth all the effort now that I've got 2 beautiful FO's out of it. The first FO was a pair of awesome, simple socks that I knit for myself last March after finally completing all the spinning.

Crabby McCrabbypants Handspun

It was so hard to keep this project a secret! My mom is a very faithful follower of my blog, and she is always very up to date on my current knitting projects. I talk to her every day, and usually tell her everything, from what I ate for breakfast to where I took Stella for a walk and definitely what I'm working on, especially if it's a cool handspun shawl that I'm particularly excited about. I really wanted it to be a surprise for her. So, for months I fought the urge to spill the beans about this project and on Christmas day, when she opened her present and saw this handspun beauty, the look on her face made my months of secrecy totally worth it!
Pretty Handspun Shawl

Buying gifts for my mom really isn't very difficult for me. I know what she likes and what she needs, I could buy her something nice and useful, and I know that she would love it and appreciate it, but this year I really wanted to give her something extra special. She does so much for all her kids, but this year especially, between the new house, the wedding and running our business, she has helped Chris and I more than I can explain. I don't know what we would have done without her.

Pretty Handspun Shawl

What could be more special and appropriate than a handspun shawl. I knit a shawl for her for Christmas a couple of years ago, (a swallowtail shawl) and I gave her a silk stole that she wore all night at our wedding, and I thought that it was time for a new, simple but beautiful shawl that she could wear everyday.
Pretty Handspun Shawl

Picking a shawl pattern that high-lights rather than distracts from handspun yarn is pretty easy. I wrote about my process when I designed my Prism Shawl, I tend to choose patterns that are simple and graphic, with just a touch of something, like maybe a couple of eyelet rows, to keep things interesting but still keep the focus on the yarn and the fabulous shifts in colour. I also can't resist a pretty border. The Eliina shawl has a gorgeous, light and airy border that I am crazy about! It features a crochet cast-off that I love, just like my other favorite pattern, the Haruni shawl (I've knit it twice, here and here. The first one was gifted to my cousin for Christmas this year.)

I love how the shift in pattern on the border makes the stripes of colour turn into undulating waves. Particularly that burgundy wave that runs right down the middle of the border, so pretty!

Pretty Handspun Shawl

Of course I had to test out the shawl in a mini photo-shoot the other day. I wrapped it around my neck and was very happy with the size and the drape and the way that it casually falls so gracefully and beautifully over the shoulders. I love shawls, they are just so elegant.

Cinder Block Socks

After all that work at secrecy for my mom, my poor dad got a pair of cashmere socks for Christmas (as well as a hat made by Chris!) but the socks weren't a secret. He knows that he's always going to get socks and he loves them, the only surprise this year was that I was actually able to get them finished and wrapped up in time to give them to him on Christmas day! He likes his socks very much, They are Anne Hanson's Cinder Block sock pattern knit in TFA Purple Label Cashmere sock yarn in the Olive colourway.

Pretty Handspun shawl Ravelry project page.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

TFA Tuesday - tesha's Royal Flush

Wow, Christmas has already come and gone. Though I still have my siblings in town and I'm still wearing my pajama's so I'm still feeling very festive!

This week's TFA Tuesday features a simple but lovely and practical pair of socks knit by Tesha (Ravelry Link, Blog Link) in TFA Yellow Label DK weight yarn in Royal Flush.

The reason I've chosen this knit is because I've recently become a convert to the brilliance of a heavier weight, hand knit sock. I knit a pair of socks for my soon to be sister in law in a heavier than fingering weight gauge for Christmas and she loves them! She is always cold, especially her hands and feet, when she put on her sportweight socks she looked immediately warm and happy. She commented on how much she liked them and how warm her feet were, and I know she was telling the truth because she didn't even put on slippers! Next year I'll make her a pair of TFA Yellow Label socks, maybe even in this exact pretty cabled pattern, they knit up fast, they are toasty warm and are a perfect gift.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve already! Wow. I'm still hoping to finish one last knitted gift, but realistically, I think I'll be giving my dad 1 1/2 socks this year. He's cool, he'll understand. 

My family is all gathered at my parents house. We've all spent the past couple of days shopping, wrapping, baking, cooking and eating! We had the pleasure of hosting the gang at our very own house this year! That was a real thrill. We've entertained in our new house plenty since we moved in last May, but in a year of so many firsts, I think that hosting our first Holiday family dinner was really special. My mom definitely still has the honour of cooking the tortieres on Christmas Eve and the turkey on Christmas day, but maybe boeuf bourguignon at our place will be a new holiday tradition!

Chris, Stella and I would like to wish you all a warm and happy holiday! This time of year is so magical,  I'm so happy to be able to spend it with the people I love.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

TFA Tuesday - SkeinSparrow's Dipped Infinity Mitts

This project was completed back in September, and I don't know how I missed seeing it until today. It is stunning. The very clever knitter behind these beautiful mitts is skeinsparrow (on Ravelry). She knit herself a Dipped Infinity Scarf using my Greens kit and with the leftover yarn she knit herself a gorgeous pair of mitts to match!

I'm not sure how she did it exactly. It looks like there are a couple stitch patterns present in the mitts and that they aren't done exactly the same way as the scarf, whatever she did I love it! Isn't this just the perfect scarf/mitt combo? A matching hat would be too much, but the scarf and mitts is just right!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Secret Santa

Every year my girlfriends from NSCAD and I do a Secret Santa gift exchange. This tradition started while we were in University and has continued on through the years since. Now we are spread out over Canada and on even the US, but we still do the gift exchange. It has become one of my new favorite holiday traditions. Jenna blogged very eloquently about it today.

This year my Secret Santa was Sara Caracristi. I've mentioned her here before because she was one of my bridesmaids and because she is a very talented artist and gave Chris and I a beautiful painting for our wedding. For Christmas she painted this gorgeous canvas of Stella. It is so perfect, she captured her look exactly and I don't think I could love it any more than I do!

Sara has recently opened an Etsy shop with her partner and fellow artist Marcel called 3x4 where they sell small 3"x4" original paintings. Both of their work is amazing. 

Stella likes it too... though she seems to be more interested in the cookie than the canvas. 

Friday, 17 December 2010

Oh Christmas Stars

You didn't think I was actually done talking about these stars did you? I just can't get enough of them. Aren't they just the most beautiful, sparkly, colourful little soldiers you've ever seen?

After I was done admiring row after row of shining stars I started picking out ones that looked like they belonged together, in groups of 4, to give as gifts. A colourful grouping below:

This next grouping reminds me of an 80's glam look. It's the black, it's tough to pair black and hot pink without it looking like the 80's. I like it, this set will go to my glamorous sister in law.

And here's a sampling of a few that I've already hung on our very own Christmas tree. 

Our Christmas tree is a collection of old and new ornaments. This year my mom gave me a very sweet gift of all the decorations that I'd been given as a child. In the bottom right hand photo in the collage above there's a little brass baby, it's engraved with my name, the year 1984 and it says baby's first Christmas. I love that we've got at least a few ornaments with some history to them on our tree!

And in case you're worried that this is no longer a knitting blog and has somehow morphed into a star-blog, have no fear! I am starting a very, very cool new project over the holidays. This week I received the inaugural pattern for the Tanis Fiber Arts Year in Colour Club! And it's awesome! The colourway that we came up with for the first ever shipment is very me, and the pattern is beautiful, I just have to cast on and knit it myself immediately. 

It's never too late to join the Club! Need a great gift for the knitter in your life? A Club membership will definitely do the trick!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

A few more Christmas gifts

Last night I crossed another WIP off the list. It's especially rewarding to do this when said WIP is a Christmas gift isn't it? 
Slip Jig Socks

I finished the Slip Jig Socks that I was knitting for my soon to be sister in law (aka: my brother's fiancée.) They are lovely, colourful and warm. I think she's really going to like them.

I also recently finished the Just Enough Ruffles scarf that I was knitting for my mother in law. 

Cashmere Just Enough Ruffles Scarf

This scarf was knit holding 2 strands of TFA Purple label Cashmere Sock yarn in Poppy together. It is amazingly soft and squishy. I completely love it and may have to knit another for myself.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Sparkly Stars

It's a good thing I gave myself plenty of time to make these Christmas stars I was working on, because I needed it! Things have been rather hectic around here this month (I know we're not the only household to get chaotic around the holidays!) Folding and tucking these little colourful stars has been a real meditative treat when I needed a break from work. I would do a couple at a time, and before I knew it I had folded all the paper strips that came in my DIY star kit from theStarcraft

Last night I dipped them in melted paraffin wax and let them harden. It was literally as easy as it sounds, I bought paraffin at the crogery store, melted it in a double boiler and dipped each star in with a pair of tongs. I let as much wax drip off as I could, carefully shaking it above the bowl of paraffin for about 30 seconds each so that when I laid the star down on wax paper to set the wax wouldn't pool at the tips. They dry and cool in a matter of minutes. They are significantly more solid and sturdy once dipped, also, the colour darkens quite a bit and even the pastels turn much more saturated. Very pretty.

Today I sprayed them all with silver glitter from a spray can. It was like watching magic happen before my very eyes! They began as crafty, origami style folded paper and turned into these lux, super sparkly fantastical designer ornaments! I'm completely enamored!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

TFA Tuesday - Mayapof's mitts

This week's TFA Tuesday post is special to me for several reasons. First, it features mittens! And I just love mittens. Second, all these mittens were knit by my little brother Vincent's friend Maya (Mayapof on Ravelry). Maya has been following my blog and knitting with my yarns ever since she met Vince. I'm touched that Vince talks about me and my knitting/yarns to his friends. When I was visiting Vince in Vancouver last month I got the chance to meet Maya and she is lovely! We talked about knitting, I looked at her knitting books, admired her knits, drank tea from her extremely expansive tea collection, good times were had by all!

Maya has become quite the two-coloured mitten designer! The Totoro Mittens were designed by Brella, and Maya designed the Space Invaders and Japanese Fan mitts featured here today and knit them all in TFA Green Label Aran weight yarn.

I love this pair she knit for her fiancé. If I remember correctly he works in software/video games, so these custom mitts are so perfect for him! 

And these japanese fan mitts are stunning. On her Ravelry project page Maya has said that she will write up the pattern for all these mitts soon. I think that these could become an instant classic, they are beautiful! 

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Grammy's Hats and Mittens pattern

Grammy's Hats and Mitts. I've worn them my entire life, every single member of my family has worn them their entire lives (and I'm not just talking brothers and sister, I mean cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews!) When I went to Vancouver last month and my brother and I were waiting for the bus and it was un-seasonally cold, we both pulled out our mitts from Grammy. (Vince was wearing a hat from Grammy too, but I was wearing my Winter Snowflake hat.)

Tuques for everyone!

Anyways, all that to say that it wasn't until recently that I really discovered the brilliance of Grammy's hat pattern. I think that I always took it for granted because I was so used to it, but after knitting several this past week, I'm officially a big fan and will never take it for granted again. The brilliance of this pattern lies in the ribbing. The entire body of the hat is knit in 6x2 ribbing, so though it's a wide and subtle rib, it means that the hat fits perfectly every time. It hugs the contours of the head and is stretchy so it fits just about any head size. The rim is worked in 2x2 ribbing, and meant to be turned up so not only do you get a double layer of warmth over your ears, depending on how much you roll up the rim you can make it longer or shorter, again making it fit any head size! That makes this hat perfect for gifts, since you don't always have the recipients head available for fitting, you know this hat will fit every time.

Tuques for everyone!

This is a great project for using up leftover yarns by making fun stripy hats. Grammy's hats were almost always striped and always had a pompom on top. I love the pompom!

Tuque for Elliot

Now that you've got your winter hat, you need mitts... don't worry, Grammy's got a pattern for mitts too!


Download Grammy's Hat and Mitts pattern by clicking the link below:

Ravelry pattern page for Mitts here.
Ravelry pattern page for Hat here.


This is another perfect use for leftover yarn. To me, the stripes are what make these mittens special. The crazier the combo, the better!


Thursday, 9 December 2010

My first parcel of Christmas gifts was mailed yesterday. I feel very organized and proud of myself for that one. My cousin and her two kids celebrate their birthdays on Dec. 7th, 9th and 11th... As if this time of year isn't busy enough as it is! So, I mailed off 3 birthday gifts and 3 Christmas gifts yesterday (I know I said that I was organized and awesome, but I actually missed the Dec. 7th birthday... oh well, it's fun to spread out the gift opening isn't it?)

Among the gifts sent was my Playful Stripes cardigan with it's perfect purple and white flower buttons. Those buttons are the perfect girly finishing touch.

playful stripes button band

Chris and I have been enjoying our Christmas tree for a good two weeks already. I love it, I plug it in every night and enjoy our festive little nook. My mom kicked our seasonal mojo up a notch when she brought over this beautiful blue poinsettia for us! She knows how much I love blue, this plant is perfect.

I've been knitting lots of Grammy's hats. Here they are all piled up on the table after a little photo shoot out in the snow. I'll try and get a few modeled shots tomorrow and then write up the super simple pattern. I am not tired of knitting these, they are just the perfect hat.

Tuques for everyone!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

This past weekend I was lucky enough to have a lovely brunch with Glenna (aka: Crazy knitting lady from the wonderful Knitting to Stay Sane blog). Glenna and I are cooking up lots of new ideas for future TFA collaborations. She's got ideas for designs, I've got ideas for colourways, we've both got big dreams and hopefully, with the two of us scheming together we'll come up with something really great. 

I've knit several quick little hats this week. It was all prompted by Chris stating that he wanted to make himself a simple fisherman's cap, I thought about it for a second and decided that the best way to go about it was to knit my Grammy's hat pattern. Grammy used to knit hat after hat and give multiple hats to everyone in the family for Christmas. They always fit perfectly, were warm and comfortable, they are truly the perfect hats.

Tuque for Elliot

As a beginner knitter Grammy's hat pattern was the only pattern I knew and the only hat I knit. As I discovered more beautiful patterns I strayed and knit fancy cabled hats, colourwork hats, earflap hats, all sorts of pretty hats. But now I've come full circle and have rediscovered Grammy's simple hat pattern and am actually a little bit in awe at her cleverness. I'll share the pattern and a few more examples of it later on this week. I think I'll start another one tonight. 

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

TFA Tuesday - Patricia's Baby Shane Blankets

The sweetest e-mail popped up in my inbox this weekend from Chris' Auntie Patricia who is a knitter! (She's not really his Auntie... but grew up with his mother in Ireland and is such a sweet person that she really feels like an Auntie!) Anyways, she came all the way from Ireland for our wedding this past June and did not leave the TFA headquarters empty handed. Among her newly acquired stash were a couple baby blankets that she planned on making for a her nephew who was expecting twins! Well, a few months have passed, the blankets have been knit and most importantly the twins have been born!

Seeing these two tiny little babies wrapped up in Baby Shane Blankets just warms my heart to no end!

We got our first big snowfall of the season. It started snowing yesterday afternoon and hasn't stopped yet! I wanted to take a picture of all the snow on our back deck to show you all how heavy the snowfall was, but by the time I had gotten to the back door Chris had already shoveled it clean. He is a very enthusiastic shoveler. I'm not complaining, but I do find it amusing. He was so happy to be out there in the snow!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Baby Blanket - done!

Log Cabin Moderne

Half way through knitting this baby blanket, at about day 6, I started thinking that I had made a huge mistake. Maybe I should have just knit a wee-sweater instead? Finally, after 10 days of knitting, I had finished my blanket and am now very happy with it.

Log Cabin Moderne

I knit this blanket in TFA Yellow Label DK Weight yarn in all the leftover pinks and purples I had laying around: royal flush, sweet heart, ultraviolet, lilac, jewel, grape and blueberry. It's girly without being too sweet because of the modern chunky stripe style. The finished blanket measures roughly 30"square, a very practical, useful size. Perfect for wrapping around a little bundle of joy.

Log Cabin Moderne

I was rather proud of myself for finishing the blanket in time for the shower (which was earlier today, the mother-to-be loves her blanket! which makes me a very happy and fulfilled knitter indeed!) I took a couple minutes to wrap the gift up in style before heading off to the shower. I had ribbon and boxes left over from wedding gifts which I used to package the blanket, and then I made a little star that both coordinated with the box and the blanket on the inside to adorn the box. I threaded a loop of purple yarn through one of the points so it can be hung in the baby's room, or on the Christmas tree this holiday season. This is the type of thing that I always wish I had done, but am usually too disorganized to actually do. Lianne made a big deal about the star too, she's a great person to give gifts to, she's very appreciative of things hand-made.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Winter Snowflake Hat

Winter Snowflake Hat

Another fair Isle slouchy hat inspired by a season... Could this be the beginning of a collection? I guess we'll have to just wait and see. ;)

Winter Snowflake Hat

When I finished my Autumn Roses hat I was thrilled with the fit, but found myself longing for the perfectly classic colour pairings of my Fall Flowers hat. I was left with no choice, I had to knit myself yet another slouchy hat, I would use the same template as I used for my Autumn Roses hat, use a wintery snowflake pattern instead of the rose motif, keep the meandering vines but change the colour palette and voila! Winter Snowflakes. My go-to hat of the season!

Winter Snowflake Hat

This hat has already made a trip to Vancouver and back and has done a very good job of matching everything I own while at the same time keeping me warm and covering up bad hair days. I love it. And though I keep mentioning the beauty of these hats for camouflaging unruly hair, they also do equally well at highlighting good hair days! So have no fear, despite the fact that I seem to have more bad hair days then good, you don't have to have crazy hair to pull it off.

Winter Snowflake Hat

I knit this hat in TFA Blue Label Fingering weight yarn in Tidal, Midnight, Cobalt, Moss and Garnet, I also used a light grey from knitpicks palette because I had it sitting around from when I knit my Fall Flowers hat. I wish that I had substituted Sand to keep it all TFA... it would have added a little bit of warmth and would have been very pretty, I will if I knit this hat again.

Winter Snowflake Hat

I'm having so much fun with these slouchy hat designs, they are the perfect vehicle for fun colourwork. I just can't seem to tire of designing them or knitting them!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Baby Blanket - day 8

The weather is miserable here today! Rainy and grey, a good day to stay inside and be productive. Thats my plan.

I am moseying along on my baby blanket, it has to be all done for a baby shower on Sunday. I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. In the beginning it was so fast! Just whipping off bands of colour in a flash, but now that the bands are getting longer and longer I'm starting to really look forward to having this finished. I don't intend to make it huge, I'm aiming for about 30"square. Big enough to be useful but not so big that it's cumbersome. Just a small, practical blanket that can be wrapped around a baby in a car seat or in a stroller without hanging over and dragging on the ground. Portability is key. Just another thick band on two of the sides and then an inch or two of border and I'll be done! 

When I need a break from knitting I'll treat myself to a couple minutes of star craft! I bought these strips and instructions from theStarcraft on Etsy. Last night I had a friend over, we made cheese fondue (perfect for a cool rainy night!) and after a very frustrating first hour of trying to figure it out we had finally mastered the folding and tucking technique. I am now whizzing through them. It's so much fun to pick colours and see these little stars magically emerge from flat strips of paper. I may tie string loops to one of the points and hang them from the Christmas tree, but for now I'm just collecting them on the coffee table and then setting them in the tree as I please. I'm not sure how durable they are, but for now they are source of endless entertainment for me.