Exit Your Comfort Zone

Woooo spring break! While it still does not look anything like spring here in the gland (that’s New En-gland, to you), I am deeply appreciative of the upcoming week off. Time to catch up on knitting and Downton Abbey season 5 (don’t tell me anything!!) and oh yeah, schoolwork. Or something.

How has your week been? I hope it has been lovely.

I must say I had a great time last night at – get this – knit night! The struggle has been real (so real) out here, separated from my knit group in Montreal. It’s awesome to follow knitting friends virtually and listen to podcasts and (of course) nurse my sweet baby blog, but I have been wanting some real needle-to-needle knit connection. Ravelry had the answer. Doesn’t Ravelry always have the answer? I found a lively and fun knitting group in my part of town, and they hang out once a week.

It was a little nerve-wracking walking to the meeting, knowing I would have to approach a group of strangers and just be like, “Hello! I am new! Accept me!” And I may have invented many excuses to not go, and just remain safely at home. But in my heart of hearts I knew that knitter get each other, and it would be awesome and worth it. I met up with them for the first time last night and immediately knew things were off to a good start. Why: as soon as I said hi, I was bombarded with compliments on my hat and cowl, and questioned on what the yarns and patterns were. Amazing! And this group was working on some pretty impressive projects of their own. I will definitely be meeting up with them again 🙂

Now, if you have been following my riveting sock knitting needle saga, there is finally closure.

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YES those are 40″ Addi Sock Rockets in the apparently elusive 2.25 mm size. I don’t even know how many pairs I have ordered to try and get these to knit Jason’s socks. It’s really quite shameful. In my defense, the list of needle sizes on Amazon is not intuitive and it didn’t match up with my resource for US-metric needle size conversions.

The website Yarn Forward lists 2.25 mm as US size 1, so I went looking for size 1s. Here’s what shows up on Amazon:

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There is Size 1 and Size US 01 (2.5 mm) but no mention of 2.25 mm – so I thought. Not until a few days ago when I finally solved this drama did I see at the bottom of the list Size US 2.25 mm. That doesn’t even really make sense to me – is there no US equivalent for 2.25 mm? Anyway, very odd to have such disorganization in this list!

I am happy to report that the socks can now carry on happily, with a comfortable length of cord for magic loop. Here is sock 2 this afternoon, right before switching needles:

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Another thing happened needle-wise. My Twigs and Willows Mitts were coming out way too small, which is really not surprising since I have found that my gauge is way tighter than what the pattern calls for in Alana’s patterns. My fault for not swatching on these mitts, but there you go. I went ahead and restarted the mitts with 2.5 mm and 3.25 mm needles.

This required purchasing 3.25 mm needles. Ahem. Motivated by price after my Addi saga, I went with the more economical ChiaoGoo Red Lace 40″ circulars, which I have heard great things about. I will say I’m a die-hard Addi fan, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. My pet peeve with magic loop is the rigidness and auto-coil tendency of the cord that seems to attack my hands and knitting.

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Well, these needles are clearly something else. I could tell they were fabulous as soon as I took them out of the package. You know how Addis coil up on their own? (And I thought this was common to all circulars) – check this out.

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I laid the ChiaoGoos out on the table in this shape, and they didn’t budge. They just chilled there. The cord is very pliable and totally relaxed! Miracles upon miracles. Things are going fabulously with my mitts now! Why did I never try this brand before? That just goes to show me – try new things now and then! Even if it’s just needles. They’ll change your life, bruh.

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If you’re wondering about the actual needle parts, the Addis and ChiaoGoos are comparable but not the same. I have only knit with the ChiaoGoos for an hour so I don’t totally know them yet, but at this point I still prefer the finish on the Addis. The Addi needles feel smoother and more frictionless. That said, I prefer the ChiaoGoos overall for magic loop due to the amazing Red Lace cord. In terms of needle pointiness, here is a comparison of the 3.25 mm ChiaoGoos (left) and 2.25 mm Addi Sock Rocks (right):

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Considering the size difference, the pointiness seems comparable. I am doing some cabling and M1R/M1L in the Twigs and Willows mitts and not having any issues with those finicky maneuvers. In the future, I would like to try ChiaoGoos in a smaller needle size for socks, but I am done with sock needle shopping for quite a while.

Have a fabulous weekend, fibre friends!

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Waiting for Spring

Mondays, amirite?

Hi guys, I’ve got some knitting to show you today! (Shocking, I know)!

Remember the abandoned Rikke hat that I found the other day? Well, I actually was able to finish it just a day later. For some reason, I remember setting it aside because the miles of garter stitch in the round was poisoning my mind Théoden, King of Rohan style. K not really, that’s a super extreme comparison, but you know what I mean if you’re not a fan of purling. My motivators were 1) clearing some ancient UFOs off the needles (a current goal), 2) loving the look of the finished product, and 3) actually needing a spring hat, preferably slouchy.

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No mods to the pattern except knitting only 8″ plain before the crown decreases, instead of 9″. It is still plenty slouchy (here’s my project page with more photos).

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Photo courtesy of Mom, who was in town this weekend. Side note: I realized, while traipsing about Boston, that my mom, Jason, and I were all wearing hats that I had knit. ❤

Jason’s Canucks socks are coming along. These are some plain vanilla (not to knock vanilla) toe-up afterthought heel socks knit from Tumbleweed Yarn. I got the yarn as a kit which includes a mini skein of matching blue for the heels and toes. He was a little wary of his heel-less sock after I took out the waste yarn (excuse the pile of Mom-stuff).photo 1 (34)

The saga with incorrect needle size continues, in which I lied last time that I finally had the right needles. I don’t!!! They’re actually 40″ 2.0 mm instead of 2.25 mm. GARRRH. I no longer even know if it’s possible to order 40″ 2.25 mm Addis on Amazon. Part of it is possibly me messing up with US needle sizes. I shall forge on with my current 32″ needles. There’s no way this project is going to cost me another set of Addis! (But if you do know which size to order… help a knitter out. So far I have tried US 1 and US 0).

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I was worried that this sock construction wouldn’t allow enough room in the gusset, since I have knit a pair of afterthought heel socks for myself and they were way too tight in that area. However, I recommend the pattern that I’m using, which cleverly adds a few stitches before and after the heel, to make the gusset roomier. Can I still say gusset if there’s no heel flap? Hmm. Anyway, the pattern is Vanilla Socks by Carle’ Dehning.

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Lastly, I cast on a new project today! This is for 2 KALs that are happening on Ravelry. The first is the Alana Along with the 2 Knit Lit Chicks, in which we have until March 31st to knit any one of Alana Dakos’s beautiful patterns. The second KAL is the Malabrigo March 2015 Giveaway with my secret lover, Mr. Yarn. We have until March 31st to knit any project out of Malabrigo yarn.

I am knitting Twigs and Willow Mitts by Alana Dakos out of Malabrigo Sock in the Ivy colourway. 2 birds, yo!

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So far it is going swimmingly. I can’t wait to have a pair of fingerless mitts for spring! I’m about 30% into the left hand mitt, and enjoying seeing the little leaves emerge. Lots of new-to-me techniques in this one, so it does require a good amount of attention, but not so much that I can’t watch this week’s episode of The Knit Girllls at the same time 🙂

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That’s it for knits at the moment. We took on Monday head-first today with homemade pizza for dinner. I hope you have a fabulous week, spend lots of time with your fave fibres, and I will see you Friday!

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Mail Day

The beautiful and dangerous thing about this country is the free shipping. It’s everywhere! Some online shops have free shipping on all orders (love you Mr. Yarn), others you have to spend x dollars to get it, but it’s usually not a huge amount. And if you are paying for shipping, it’s probably not too prohibitive – maybe $3.00. This is not so much a thing in the motherland (Canada). I looked into ordering a beeswax candle online one time from Ontario and the price of shipping was almost as much as the $20 candle.

The other thing is that things arrive so darn quickly. Hellooooo free 2-day shipping from Amazon!

Today I’m mostly going to flood you with some things that happened this week, materialistically speaking. I have a feeling that if I add too much WIP-talk, this post is going to get way too long. So I’m considering adding another weekly post – does that make this blog biweekly? Wait. I just googled it. It’s semi-weekly. (Is that what bihebdomadairement means en français? If hebdo = weekly… and yet biweekly ≠ twice a week…I don’t know people, it’s not an issue). All this to say, I will contemplate which are the best 2 days a week to post posts!

Also, I appreciate that some people might not be interested in just seeing photos of yarn and bags, rather than actual knitting. On the other hand, I know that I personally like seeing what goodies other knitters have purchased, because I might be interested in those things too. So in the spirit of sharing (not boasting!), here we go:

1. WOLLMEISE

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Yes, it’s true, I ordered this 2 weeks and 3 days ago, and picked it up from the post office today. My first sip of the Germanic Kool-Aid. I chose 3 skeins of DK in the colourway “Unbeschreiblich” which means “unexpected” and 1 skein of Twin in the colourway “Zarte Knospe” which I think means “tender shoot”…?

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I am so excited to get swatching and knitting away with these guys! The first thing I noticed was the skeins are mega-heavy and wound so compactly. I swear I could knock someone out with that skein of sock yarn alone.

Unbeschreiblich is destined to become either a Grandpa Cardigan or a Lucky (me). I am not yet decided, and am still open to other suggestions of cozy cabled cardigans that take 1500 yards of DK or fewer. Let me know what you think!

I think the Zarte Knospe would be cool as some Ivy Trellis mitts.

PS the bag has all these German-English knitting translations! Seems like it would be easy to follow a German pattern if you just have this paper bag.

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2. Shetland roving

A whopping 2 lb of incredibly priced Shetland roving from Paradise Fibers showed up this week. I have a dream of spinning this into a 3-ply worsted weight to knit either a sweater or the ever-dreamy Loro Vest.

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This is a natural Shetland colour (i.e. undyed) which is called “fawn”. I was expecting it to be a bit scratchy, since Shetland is one of those ancient, rustic breeds – not so much that superwash merino yarn which is what every yarn company seems to be using. But lo, it is actually surprisingly cuddly soft! I think it will be perfect as a sweater.

3. Fat Squirrel Bag

Another!! I could’t help myself. I stalked another Fat Squirrel update because… loooook – Little Red Riding Hood theme with tiny mushrooms in a sock project size, with wood grain lining?? Thank you Amy Beth!

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If you haven’t watched AB’s knitting/spinning podcast, The Fat Squirrel Speaks, I highly highly recommend it! She has such an amazing energy and is downright hilarious. You can also get the inside scoop on her shop updates there.

4. Farm Fiber Days

So, I didn’t end up posting a big update about Farm Fiber Days in Wayland, MA because I put a little update in this NH Knits discussion thread on Ravelry, and, well, that kind of exhausted me. I will say that it was AMAZING, and not only full of fabulous local fibre, but also full of fabulous local food! I will certainly return next year.

The goodies:

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Roving (in the bags up top):

  • This was ~5 oz of bulk llama fibre from River Valley Farm Wools & Wovens in Pittsfield, MA.

Yarn (left to right):

  • 3 skeins of 100% alpaca sport weight from Hamden Hills Alpacas
  • 2 skeins (the white one and the grey one) of 100% merino DK weight from Greenwood Hill Farm
  • 1 skein of 65% mohair/35% cormo from Moonshine Design at Keldaby Farm

Deliciousness abounds!

Here’s a peek at the Canucks socks for Jason that I’ve been working on, out of some Tumbleweed Yarn in the Lariat colourway.

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Toe-up, 2.25 mm, using exactly half of each skein to make them as long as possible. That red stripe of yarn in my placeholder for the afterthought heel.

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Can I just say…I have now gone through four different sets of needles to make these socks, and I had to buy new ones every time. #1: DPNs. I bought metal ones because I have wooden DPNS but always break them. These were okay, but very frustrating for knitting the toe, which is only on 2 needles, and they were creating some ladders in the rest of the sock. #2: 32″ circulars. I usually don’t like magic loop but gave it a go for these socks, and actually thought it was an improvement! The cable seemed too short, though. #3: 40″ circulars. The sizing on Amazon was listed weirdly and they came in the wrong size (2.5 mm). #4: 40″ circulars in the correct size. Holy moly people. I can take no more! 

/RANT

I try to stay positive here, but I feel like knitters can relate to this kind of frustration..?

We went to a Bruins-Canucks game on Tuesday night, and I really wanted to take my Canucks socks. In the end, I didn’t, because you can’t bring bags in (and presumably not sharp sticks either), and I really didn’t want to risk them confiscating my knitting! Knitters, man. They’re an unpredictable folk.

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We won, though 🙂 GO NUCKS.

See you people in a few days!

Places Where You Can Knit

Guys. Guys guys guys. Look at this cool thing I made omg 

Deeeep breath. Hi everyone, I hope you’ve had a fantastic week. As you can tell, I’m super pumped to share with you my finished handspun (remember the one I posted last week?) It’s Sweet Georgia 100% merino fibre in the colourway “Midnight Garden”. This was a nighttime photo, so not the best, but….

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It was a wonderful spin. It’s merino, so the staple length is a little short than what I’m used to. (She says, even though she’s only ever spun a few skeins ever!) Anyhow, I ended up using the tiniest whorl, which I believe means I was spinning at a large ratio, right? Big wheel spins one time, whorl and bobbin spin many times. Spinning people, help me out here.

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These colours… they are EYE POPPING. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t stop spinning this week (and..uh..didn’t really knit anything to speak of). I ended up doing a 2-ply yarn from a centre-pull ball, figuring that the colours would barber pole and be all jumbly and fun. Not so! By some stroke of crazy coincidence, or more like… I could have easily figured this out… the colours aligned almost perfectly to create nice long progressions from colour to colour. It’s not a gradient because the colours repeat, but it’s more like long bands of colour.

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454 yards, fingering weight. Say what?? Double my previous best yardage from a 100g skein. I must shout it from the mountain tops.

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How cool, right? It’s enough to do one fairly large shawl or other neckthing. I’m thinking this. It has a cool textured pattern that I am guessing wouldn’t be outcompeted by the crazy colour changes of my yarn. What do you think? Any suggestions for patterns?

In other news, I tidied up my knitting space yesterday and wanted to show you guys where the dirty work gets done around here! I recently discovered this hashtag on Instagram #placeswhereyoucanknit. And it’s literally just photos of people and their knitting in various locations. I actually love seeing where people knit, both outside and – especially – the little knit nests they have created for themselves at home. This could be the most boring post of all time to some people (nonknitters, to be sure!) but if you’re like me, it could be of interest! So here’s my usual habitat.

Peeking out from my bed/reading nook. Note single cushion for lumbar support.

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The Sidekick lives here, and then when I want to spin, I just pop it in front of the couch. In this photo, I just plied my most recent handspun so in a rare scene, it is bare-bobbined. Then there are two shelves of yarn stash, specifically the stuff that is still in full skeins. (Spot the sea turtle). The black basket holds my DPNs, circulars, interchangeable needle set, and notions.

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Random half-used balls of yarn live in these two baskets on the shelf, and the bottom drawer has spinning fibre. That bigger basket off to the side has my WIPs. I may have discovered previously forgotten projects as I cleaned up. There may or may not be 8 projects in there. (Strokkur sweater has full priority sitting in its Fat Squirrel bag on high).

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Jarz of straight needles and my very small spindle collection. A tableau with a possibly dying money tree.

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That green spindle actually has a cool story which I will abbreviate: Something like 10 years ago, I went to a learn-to-drop-spindle workshop at the Fisheries Museum in Lunenburg, NS. Totally coincidental – a very friendly lady dressed in pioneer garb was giving lessons and I happened to be at the museum that day. Although I had never been interested in spinning, I got really into it and bought a kit that included this spindle made by her husband. Fast forward to this past summer. I had newly acquired a spinning wheel and wanted to learn how to use it. My grandmother in NS said there was a local master spinner who offered lessons and I should bring my wheel. So I did! We joked about how funny it would be if this was the same lady who did the drop spindling workshop. GUYS of course it was the same wonderful lady, and she gave me a most amazing private spinning lesson in her home. She freaked out a little when I told her how she had inspired me to learn to spin so many years before. Anyhow, totally tangential, but that green spindle has many memories!

Now, lastly, don’t let me fool you into thinking that my fibre collection is so seemingly small and organized. There’s fibre in my closet and chest of drawers, and some other baskets here and there. This one by my desk is apparently an advertisement for Spunky Eclectic but that’s pretty much where I’m getting my fibre these days.

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Tomorrow I will be going to the Farm Fiber Days in Wayland, MA hosted by Russell’s Garden Center. They have a weekly farmers’ market, but on this particular day, they are also hosting fibre vendors! I’m hoping there will be lots of rustic yarns and sheepy roving/fleeces, and maybe even live sheep?? Who knows, but I’m super excited as this is my first fibre event. I’m also excited to meet up with a fellow NH Knits listener and Ravelry friend who also lives in Mass. So I might just have to do an update on the event before next Friday 🙂

I leave you with these puzzling words from my afternoon tea time:

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Rebound Knitting

Happy Friday the 13th, everyone!

Just a quick post from me today, but heavy on the pictures. We had another two snow days this week, which is starting to get a little old. Not that I don’t love snow days – I actually do. On snow days, it’s pretty much expected to hide under the blankets, knit, and drink tea all day, which is a perfect day in my books. But come on, Boston! It’s like the city has just had enough, that’s it, everything is cancelled. No one go anywhere, because the T has become a giant Ötzi and you won’t be able to find your car until July.

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But onto the fibre!

My Ease pullover is still in time out. I’ve decided that there’s no point in continuing with the sleeves since I know in my knitter’s heart that it is too big and I won’t wear it. It must be frogged! But I can’t bring myself to do it yet. For now, I am easing the pain with a new project, Strokkur by Ysolda Teague, which is happily living in my new Fat Squirrel bag! I’m using Quince and Co. Osprey, which is an aran-weight yarn.

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At this point, I have reached the end of the waist decreases and am soon moving onto the increase section. My stitch gauge is great but my row gauge is seriously off. So off that if I knit the sweater as written, it would probably reach my knees. To avoid this, I’m doing a little mathemagic. (PS. About that bag, can I just say again how awesome it is – it is currently holding 6 cakes of yarn, my project on the needles, plus notions).

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Smaug is making sure this sweater doesn’t get up to any funny business. Maybe I should have used him for Ease… I love this stitch marker – it’s actually part of a set of Hobbit themed stitch markers (including a little Arkenstone!) from Inglenook Fibers.

Now for a journey in pictures. Today I finished spinning and plying some amazing Polwarth that was from Spunky Eclectic‘s October 2014 fibre club. The colourway is called Hungry as it was inspired by sushi! I love it. This was both my first time spinning Polwarth and attempting to fractal spin. I didn’t get fancy about it – just split the fibre in half lengthwise and then took the first half, and split it a bunch more times. I spun those skinny guys end to end, and then spun the other half as one large continuation of colour. Let me know if that didn’t make sense and I will try to explain better! Here we go:

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This skein is still dripping away in my shower, so next week I will show you what it looks like in its final form 🙂 I got 234 yards pre-bath so I will be interested to see if the yardage changes post-bath. So far, I’m really jazzed with this spin. I’m still a spinning newbie, but I would say this is my best spin so far! Pretty consistent and pretty good yardage!

Next up, from my moderate-yet-growing fibre stash, is this insane merino braid from Sweet Georgia in the Midnight Garden colourway. I’m guessing it will be more challenging as merino has a fairly short staple length but those colours… that name… mmm I just want to dive right in!

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For my Hungry skein, if you have suggestions for what to do with ~200 yards of a (maybe worsted weight? Haven’t done WPI yet) fractal-spun yarn, I’d love to hear them. So far, I’m thinking some kind of hat, maybe with cables if they show up well in this handspun? Decisions, decisions.

Tomorrow is February 14th so I wish you all a happy Valentine’s Day! Whether you love the day or not so much, I do hope you get to spend it with some truly special fibre ❤

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EZ as Pi

Hehehe get it? EZ… as… Pi?

Elizabeth Zimmerman’s pi shawl is complete! And it really was easy. The hardest thing was blocking it: trying to make my blocking mats cover a big enough surface area and trying to pin the whole thing out in a relatively circular shape, all in my wee studio. And trying not to irritate Jason too much as he worked on his Stats homework.

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Before washing the shawl, I thought that my large(ish) collection of blocking mats would be more than enough. But after taking it out of its bath, it was like wrangling a python or something comparatively large and unwieldy. IT GREW. It grew like a just-add-water sponge toy. Which was such a happy surprise because I thought the shawl looked kind of small when it came off the needles. So I got creative and supplemented my blocking mats with towels.

One problem I had (being new to blocking round things) was how to pin the shawl out without getting a bunch of points on the edges. I ended up pinning the shawl right at the inside edge of the border (you can see how it scallops there) which let the real edge remain smooth. It’s not too noticeable now that it’s dry, but I wonder if this is the best method. Do you have any tips for blocking circular pieces?

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I’m also really happy with this dark, moody shade of purple that is Grand Street Ink, a colourway chosen by Brooklyn Tweed for Lorna’s Laces.

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Here’s an incredibly Nessie-quality photo of how I have been wearing it:

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The shawl was a lot of knitting (clearly) but a lot of really fun knitting. I highly recommend it! This only took 2.5 skeins of Shepherd Sock so if I can get my math right next time (yes there will be a next time) I could make an even bigger one. But not too big; as EZ said, we’re not trying to knit a football field.

To borrow a phrase from Claire of NH Knits (I love her podcast), a few things have decided that they want to come live with me this week. First up is this Aurora Self-Striping Kit in the Lariat colourway, by Tumbleweed Yarn. Any Canadians or hockey fans might recognize these colours 🙂

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I bought this yarn to knit a pair of Canucks socks for Jason! Note the contrasting mini skein to knit the toes and heels. I am so excited to cast on for a toe-up sock with afterthought heel, which is a style I have only tried once before but it will work best with the stripes. Laura of The Knit Girllls is coming out with a pattern for afterthought heel socks with short rows, so I’m just waiting for that to drop. The only other pair of afterthought heel socks I have knit ended up being really tight in the gusset, so I’m going to try to use the short row heel to add some more room in that area.

Lastly… I’ve been eyeing the Fat Squirrel bags that other knitters (of the Interwebs) have been showing off and fallen in love with Amy Beth’s fabric choices and bag styles. I actually have been in need of a big sweater project bag for a while (oversized Ziploc is just too gauche, no?) and so I finally decided to get my hands on one. Easier said than done, as Fat Squirrel bags seem to sell out the moment there’s a shop update. If I was going to get one of these bags, I’d have to be quick! I set a calendar reminder on my phone for her next update, stalked the website 10 min ahead of time, refreshed the page again and again… and nabbed one the moment they were posted! I’M CRAZY.

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It arrived today! All the way from Indiana. The first thing I noticed was that it smelled amazing. Amy Beth includes a little lavender sachet in each bag. The bag itself is actually massive and clearly very sturdy. It will be the perfect vessel to take care of my sweater projects.

That’s all for tonight, dear knitters. Have a happy weekend and I’ll be back for a new post on Friday the 13th! 

PS. For my readers (I know there’s a few of you out there) thank you so much for checking out my blog! It would make me so happy if you leave a comment and let me know a bit about you, any comments you have, or even if you have a blog, too. I’d love to know who is out there!

Hunkering Down

Hi, there.

Winter Storm Juno has come and gone, leaving us stunned and with over 2 feet of snow that no one really knows what to do with. Things started to get blustery on Monday night (the 26th) and since we all knew what was coming, people got into Survival Mode. School was cancelled for that afternoon and Tuesday (and then, amazingly, Wednesday). The grocery store was a general panic-fest: I went in on Monday to get some olive oil for soap making (that’s another story) and saw that all the bottled water was gone and just a few loaves of bread remained. Stranger still, there were no individual checkout lines – just one superline that snaked around the perimetre of the store (at least a 40 min wait I would guess) with the store manager marshalling people to available cashiers. Considering that I had enough groceries to get through the next few days anyway, I just turned around and left.

A winter storm isn’t so bad when you have knitting. (I think knitters would do really well in apocalyptic scenarios: we could knit garments for survival while staying entertained and relatively stress-free). In this case, since the power never went out (hallelujah) things were cozy indeed. I knit on my Ease sweater and contemplated the view outside.

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That was only around lunchtime.

While it was great to get some one-on-one with Ease, I’m really not sure how the old girl is doing. It’s really roomy up top, to the point that I’m not sure if it will cross the line from casual chic to just frumpy. I knit a bit on the ribbed hem and then put those stitches on hold. My plan is to finish the sweater and then see if adding more length would visually balance out the boxier upper portion. I then moved onto the funnel neck! After picking up the stitches and knitting a few rows, the neckline already looked way more fitted. Round and round I knit, until the funnel neck was complete (drawstring to come).

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Excuse the Sasquatch-like photo quality. Looks kind of cool, right? What concerns me is the collar rolling so much. It rolls right over, making it look as if I’m wearing a neck donut. Could this be something that blocking will help sort out? Or is this whole sweater just a train wreck that would be better to frog and knit a size smaller…

I don’t know, you guys. I’m at a loss.

In times like these, therapy is casting on a new project. Preferably with a yummy yarn. Preferably with a coveted skein of Tanis Fibre Arts “Red Label” cashmere/silk single-ply in the Sunset colourway. Mmm…

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This was one of those I-see-you-looking-at-me-looking-at-you-across-the-room-could-it-be-love purchases at Espace Tricot in Montreal. In which there was no particular project in mind but it didn’t matter, the yarn would soon tell me what it needed.

And so it did: Herbivore by Stephen West.

This yarn is like something out of a dream. It’s so soft it makes angels weep. This pattern is a joy to knit; the perfect balance of relaxing yet still interesting. And look at the colours. Just look!

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It’s going to be okay.

Pure Laine

Hi!

Well, it’s back to the grind here in Boss-town. I’ve successfully removed my brain and shaken out any knowledge that had managed to stick around since last semester. Then I wiped out my cranium, reinserted my tender, newly emptied brain, and am ready to roll for ROUND TWO – FIGHT! of nutrition learning.

This past weekend (MLK long weekend here in the States) I was able to sneak away to Montreal for one last hurrah of the Christmas break. Jason drove the 600 mile round trip. I knit and curated playlists and cogné des clous.

Heading back to my once-home of 6 years includes: a) hitting all our favourite food spots, b) meeting up with the best knitting friends, c) visiting all 3 favourite yarn shops, or d) being outdoorsy on the mountain? Trick question, yo. All of the above! Although, visiting 3 yarn shops in 3 days was kind of extreme even to me – but not exactly unwelcome. One of these was La Maison Tricotée, traditional knitting-and-tea-meet-up location for some of my favourite people. If you’re reading this, you know who you are! I don’t think there’s anything more wonderful or indulgent than reconnecting with friends over tea in fancy teapots and knitting on beautiful projects. Meanwhile, completely insulated from the -20˚C weather outside, thanks to the shelves and baskets of yarn surrounding us.

These are also ideal conditions for expanding the stash. Not that I have room for more stuff to come home with me. But hey. There’s been a lot of knitting going on with dental floss and toothpicks (e.g. monstrous fingering weight pi shawl, a pair of socks I’m not really feeling at the moment) and a big ol’ skein of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Sookie called out to me at Maison. It’s the colour of snow on a bright day (that hint of blue in the right lighting) and looks and feels like a cumulus cloud come down to Earth. It’s a mega-bulky single-ply that demands 10 mm needles or above. It was really one of those moments where you realize that your whole life you had been searching for something… and then here it was in your hands. I cast on the same day I bought it.

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No need for a pattern when all I wanted was something outrageously voluminous to wrap around my neck. I jotted down the general recipe on my project page.

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And it works doubled-up, too! Seems like a miracle for a 130-yard skein.

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Now that that bulky affair is out of my system, it’s back to the usual suspects. Currently, I am working on my Ease pullover, which at this point, is just starting the hip increases. I put it on a longer pair of circular needles so I could un-bunch the thing and see how it’s doing. Prognosis: questionable.photo 3 (23)

Should it be looking like this?? This is a size small, I got gauge, and it’s supposed to have a few inches of ease built in. The body is less fitted than I was expecting, which is fine, but you guys… the shoulders and arms look like they’re going to the Super Bowl. They’re massive! I could fit both my arms into one armhole. Now, I personally believe that my arms are twigs relative to the rest of me, but would this arm size even make sense for anyone? I guess at this point all I can do is start knitting the arms and see what happens. Hopefully this is just some terrible optical illusion based on the fact that the arm stitches are currently on hold and the neckline is not finished. Otherwise, I’ll try decreasing down to an arm circumference more appropriate to my ET-like body:arm ratio. Or maybe just work on my guns.

Surfacing

Hi guys, whaaat’s happening.

Yeeeahh… I’m gonna need to you to ignore my lack of posts lately… mmhm yeahh… so if you could just go ahead and do that, that would be great.

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Look for new posts every Friday, right here on this very blog. That’s my 2015 resolution, guys. Because I have been knitting. So much knitting. Buried in UFOs and random skeins and tangled in my new swift.

Check it out! No more winding balls of yarn by hand for an hour with a contraption of chairs, kettle bells, or other people’s limbs as my skein holders. The best part is the whole thing collapses into a slim little case that I can easily put in my suitcase. Here it is over Christmas break, winding another skein of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock for my pi shawl. Now that I’m back in Boston, I’ve been putting it to good use with my ball winder and whipping out yarn cakes like it ain’t a thang.

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See that crumpled mess on the table? This pi shawl is my first Elizabeth Zimmermann (EZ) project. This has been said before but it doesn’t hurt to repeat that the woman is a genius. Not just in terms of pattern brilliance, but the Knitter’s Almanac (where the shawl pattern exists) is also storytelling brilliance and humour brilliance. Check out the link above for the 2000+ pi shawls that other Ravelers have made. At this point, I’m working on the border, and it’s not as bad as I was expecting. True, there are ~600 stitches per row so the border is time consuming but I’m just looking forward to the massive finished product. Can’t wait to have this behemoth off the needles and blocked to its full potential.

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The shawl even came on the family ski trip, though I admit there wasn’t as much knitting potential during the two 6-hour drives as I would have liked. 3 adults in the back seat of a car apparently means elbows are in lockdown. But the trip itself was out of control in all the right ways:

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Dat pow. This is a -20˚C morning on Silver Star mountain.

Back in Boston now and another project has leapt onto the needles: Ease by Alicia Plummer, which I am knitting in the “old” Dream in Colour Classy base. The colourway is Deep Regret, charming as usual. I should have about 1250 yards total, so that should be enough to do the cool funnel collar. I love the look of this sweater! And the yarn is so satisfying to work with… it’s round and sproingy and a beautiful colour. I also noticed that unlike similar yarns out there, there’s no undyed white “core” in Classy, at least not this batch I have. Anyone know if this is a good sign? It seems like a good thing to me. Or maybe this is just a result of the way it’s dyed and has no effect on the yarn’s quality. Here’s a questionable-quality photo of the sweater in progress, all bunched up due to too-short circular needles.

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Can you see that knitting takes priority over biochem reading? For anyone considering this pattern, so far it’s been very simple to follow. It’s a top-down raglan, so everything is knit seamlessly, then the optional funnel neck knit after by picking up and knitting the neckline stitches.

Lastly, a wee taste of what I’ve been spinning lately! This is my first Spunky Eclectic fibre club shipment from October; it’s polwarth dyed in a sushi coloured theme (amazing). Yo I have never spun polwarth before in my young spinning life, but it’s so easy to spin and surprisingly soft. I’m attempting to fractal spin this (we will see if it works) and make a chunky hat with a pom-pom! That seems like a good antidote to the depths of winter.

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On the other hand, winter today was not bad. 

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And what, pray tell, are you?

I’ve been catching up with Vancouver friends for the past couple months since I’ve been home. And also Vancouver acquaintances. Like the older parent-and-grandparent set that I encounter solely at church and don’t really know that well, but who know quite a bit about me. The same conversation goes down each time.

Them: So… what have you been doing this summer? Working? Summer school?

Me: Nope, just hangin out.

Them: Oh. So are you volunteering somewhere?

Me: Mmmnope. Literally just hangin out.

Them: So… what do you DO?

Me: Nothing. I literally just sit at home and knit and run.

*uncomfortable silence*

It’s true, you guys. This summer, I have no gainful employment or fulfilling volunteer work that gives back to my community. I am having the most selfish summer I’ve ever had. I’ve gone camping, hiking, lunching, and visiting family for a few weeks “out east” (in which east is anything east of Manitoba). But most of all, I’ve been knitting and spinning. Because you know… that is what I enjoy doing. 

Heavily filtered view of Lawrence Beach, Nova Scotia

Heavily filtered view of Lawrence Beach, Nova Scotia

I’ve felt guilty about being really and truly funemployed this summer whenever I try to explain this situation to people who are not close friends. And I’ve even rationalized to them that with all the travel my family had planned this summer, it would actually be impossible to find a job that would accommodate that schedule. But we all know that if I really wanted to work, I would find a way. 

But then I stopped feeling guilty because I actually planned to have this genre of lazy summer. I called it my mental health summer, joking not joking. Last summer was a bonafide train wreck of work and school and stress and melt downs. This was followed by a year of mind-bending science courses at a new school with a pretty sizeable commute. This plus other non-school stresses made me a pretty sad mess. I’m not trying to garner pity here, y’all. But I vowed to take a breather before transitioning to Boston this September, and another new school, and making a new home after 6 years in Montreal. Realign the chakras and whatnot.

It’s much easier to just be aloof about my chill summer when explaining it to casual acquaintances rather than taking them on a journey through my own mind. But it’s funny how much people judge each other based on what they do for a living. Just gotta brush it off, yo, and know that it’s totally worth it to spend quality time with my family and friends (human and otherwise). 

Mad respect cuz I hung out with pigs this summer

They refused to play fetch, you know.

So I guess this is a knitting blog. I’ll show you what I’ve been up to with minimal chatter. The blog has been neglected lately, probably due to great summer weather and a desire to remain a pole’s length away from the computer at all times. So get ready for this:

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This beautiful braid of BFL/silk from Inglenook Fibers (in the Gandalf colourway no less) became a fulled single-ply yarn. Which was promptly knitted into a TGV shawlette. This is the first project I’ve knitted in my own handspun and let me tell you… it’s magical. It made the knitting so much more enjoyable, just feeling the yarn and seeing what stripey colours emerged.

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So that’s what came out of the Gandalf yarn. This is pre-blocking (I’m the worst, I know) so it will probably grow a bit and be less lumpy towards the top once I’m done with it. 

This Open Air Wrap also happened. I washed and blocked it, and I do admit that it looks very chic on the hanger. But in real life, it’s stiff and kind of unpleasant to wear. So. If you have any suggestions or would like to take it off my hands… let me know. 

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This scarf/wrap/shawl/beast made me think of the White Witch in the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe movie (the 1988 version, please) where she encounters Edmund and asks him in this withering tone, “And what, pray tell, are you?” This is what I ask of this knitted garment.

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Also completed is this Silken Straw Summer Sweater. The actual shirt had been finished for months, but cast aside after multiple failed attempts at the i-cord border. Eventually, one of the many Youtube tutorials clicked (ha), and I was on my way. This is one of those things that is really transformed by blocking. It went from this weird scraggly lump to a soft and drapey shirt! And it really is perfect for summer.

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I like my filters, ok.

The most recent finished object is this Flax sweater. I’m not going to go into how or why this happened but I cast on and cast off within 7 days. Just… don’t think about it too much.

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 There’s quite a bit of spinning going on lately (and a story I can’t wait to tell you) and a new project on the needles (Astrid). But I’ll leave that for next time.