November 28, 2015

A Fangirl's Guide to Clara Parkes

Clara Parkes is a name familiar to those crafters wanting to expand their knowledge of yarn.  Whether it's through any of her books, such as the Knitter's Book of Wool, her Craftsy classes (Know Your Yarn  is a favourite of mine), her blog, Knitter's Review,  or the many retreats she teaches at, Clara has shared her yarn expertise. Of course, I shouldn't forget to mention her Instagram and Twitter accounts where she has a huge following.  I think we can all agree that Clara Parkes is the Yarn Guru of the Crafting World.  

If all that didn't keep her busy enough, she has recently become involved in manufacturing her own wool.  I was lucky enough to get my hands on some Clara Yarn 2.0, a 100% Cormo, DK weight yarn.  

Clara Yarn:  Cormo 2.0

I waited several months before I decided what pattern to knit with my two skeins of this special yarn.  I finally decided on a lace shawl pattern called Over the Sea to Skye by Kalurah Hudson.  I really wanted to knit a shawl that consisted of a variety of stitches to see what this yarn could do, and this pattern was a perfect fit.  As a bonus, I had visited the Isle of Skye with my family so I chose this pattern for sentimental reasons as well.

In progress

I had never knit with Cormo before and I have to admit that I enjoyed every minute of it. The yarn was so soft and I was surprised at how different it felt from knitting with merino.  Cormo 2.0 is truly a gorgeous yarn.  I swear I could have finished the pattern much earlier if I hadn't frequently stopped to admire it.  I honestly was sad to knit the last stitch of this pattern and I would have loved to have had enough yarn to knit a sweater.

Blocking had a magical effect on the shawl.  The yarn bloomed, the lace opened up, and the dimensions of the shawl grew quite a bit which is exactly what I wanted. 

It must be amazing to create such a yarn.  Clara Parkes has really opened my eyes to the variety of yarn available and I am leaning toward knitting with more natural yarn and less of the superwashed variety.  I definitely want to expand my yarn palette.

Thank you Clara for such a lovely yarn. I look forward to seeing what you come out with next.

November 22, 2015

Slade: An F.O. (almost)

Ta-dah!  Here is my latest finished object for my very patient son:   Slade, a seamed cardigan, by designer Michele Wang, published in Brooklyn Tweed's Men Volume One.  This enjoyable pattern was clearly written and easy to follow.

The pattern suggests that the ribbing in the back, front and sleeves begin with a Tubular Cast On. This was the first time I used this particular cast on, and although I found it quite fiddly, I am very happy with the result.  I think it works perfectly in a pattern like this.

Ravelled here

The only part of the cardigan that I am not happy with are the sleeves.  The sleeves are knit from the cuff up and seamed into the cardigan.  There seems to be an excess amount of knitted fabric in the upper part of the sleeves.  My gut is telling me to try to reknit the upper sleeves and reduce the amount of stitches to make the sleeves lay more nicely.

But I am ignoring that inner voice for the time being.  Honestly, it is at times like these that I wish I had a friend who was a super knitter, who could tell me what to do to fix it.  Hopefully I can figure it out myself.  I think I just need a bit of a break from from this cardigan for the moment while I get some Christmas knitting done.

I have not yet found the perfect buttons for this cardigan, but I think it's the kind of cardigan that looks better unbuttoned. 

As for the yarn I couldn't be happier.  I used Harrisville  Designs WATERshed, a worsted weight 100% wool yarn.  It feels very similar to Brooklyn Tweed's yarn. (in fact it's made in the same place).  This is the colour Granite which I showed you in an earlier post.  I bought this yarn at Urban Yarns in Vancouver.  If you can't get to this yarn store to check it out, they have a great online store where you can order any of the many beautiful colourways available.  This yarn was so lofty that it even hid the seaming I did.

The flecks of colour found within the yarn just add an extra degree of interest to what is basically a plainly knit sweater.  I would definitely like to use this yarn again.

Maybe next time I will try Harrisville Shetland which is a 100% wool fingering weight yarn, also available at Urban Yarns.  If anyone has any words of wisdom to solve my sleeve problem let me know! 

I hope you are all finding time to craft at this busy time of year.  : )

November 15, 2015

Knitting Comfort

After hearing about the terrorist acts in Paris on Friday, I feel very shaken up by all the reports of what happened that day.  I find it very challenging as a teacher of a grade seven class to make sense of it all, and to deal with my students' fears.  I pray for all the victims and their families.

The Thinker/Le Penseur at the Rodin Museum in Paris

It seems silly to talk about knitting at times like these, but I know many knitters who would agree that knitting can be a very relaxing way to take your mind off your troubles. So knitting it is!  Lately I have been devoting all my free time to finishing up my son's sweater Slade by Michele Wang.  I am putting pressure on myself to get it done soon, because this year I would like to try to get a few knitted gifts finished in time for Christmas.  All I have left of the cardigan is one more inch of ribbing along the front and then it's onto the seaming.  My cabled needles are a bit short so the ribbing may look a bit oddly shaped in the photo below.

Slade by Michele Wang in Harrisville Watershed awaiting seaming

One of the first Christmas items I will start once the cardigan is done, is a scarf knitted in Madelinetosh Pashmina Worsted in the colourway 'Fog' (75% merino, 15% silk, 10% cashmere).   I made sure I picked a worsted weight pattern so hopefully it will go fast.  I chose the pattern called the No Purl Ribbed Scarf, a free pattern by Purl Soho.  This is a simple pattern that I hope will showcase this luxurious yarn. 

Madelinetosh Worsted Pashmina

I always seem to plan to knit more Christmas presents then in reality I have the time for.  The scarf is the most important project to me to get done so I will see how long it takes and then plan from there.  I am looking forward to getting some smaller projects on the needles.  Do you have any Christmas gift giving plans?

November 3, 2015

Jenna Rose: Printed Textiles

I have lots of things on the needles but sadly no finished objects to show you this week.  I am currently knitting quite a few projects at the same time, and since I am splitting my time up between these projects, nothing seems to be getting finished quickly.  But I love the variety!

In the meantime I thought I would share with you some new things that I have received.

First up is this beautiful bag I ordered from Jenna Rose, as a Christmas present to me from my husband.  I have one other printed textile bag from this Etsy shop and I just love it.  I think this is the perfect size to fit a number of my ongoing projects instead of having them laying around everywhere.  I convinced my husband to let me take a few photos with the leaves to show you all, and now it is put away until Christmas.  He is such an agreeable man.  :) 

And then I couldn't resist this cute one from Jenna Rose as well.  This bag is the perfect size to store my sock knitting and it fits easily in my purse.  Each bag Jenna Rose makes is so unique and it makes me feel so good to support Canadian crafters.

Front view

Back view

Today I received my final installment from the Sweet Fiber Yarn Sock Club. This skein is called Monarch and consists of a deep chocolate brown colour with a mix of orange, gold and grey. Once again Melissa Thomson has created a beautiful colourway.  I think this skein will become a shawl.  I am looking forward to seeing what patterns/yarn kits Melissa comes out with this month as she has hinted that something new is going to be announced very shortly.  So stay tuned to her website.

Sweet Fiber Yarn Super Sweet Sock

Lastly there is this lovely autumnal yarn that showed up in the mail.  Sweet Fiber Yarns Cashmere DK in Spiced Pumpkin.  It is as soft as you would imagine.  I haven't settled on a pattern yet but I can hardly wait to get knitting with it.

Other news:

Have you checked out Hue Loco's new podcast?  The podcaster, Nicole Clark, lives in Colorado, and despite having young children and homeschooling them, she has time to sew project bags, dye yarn and knit. What really caught my interest is that she just released a video on how to sew a Christmas bag. Not only does she provide the how to on the video, she also has a pdf file you can download with the pattern.  I have decided to challenge myself and try to sew a few bags. With the help of Hue Loco's detailed video I am sure I can manage it. Now I just have to locate a sewing machine.  She has also suggested that she will be coming out with a few how-to video on dying yarn, which I am also looking forward to viewing.

I don't ever talk about apps but I have to say I am loving this free Apple app called Bitmoji Keyboard. In this app you create an image for yourself and then it creates a variety of emotions/sayings designed using your character. The great thing is you can email, message, tweet, etc. these sayings.  I can't tell you how many laughs I have got from it. Now we just have to get the designers of the program to create an expression for knitters.  I probably am the last person to know about this app but if you haven't checked it out have a look.  I think you will enjoy it.  To add to the fun they also have lots of designer outfits to chose from.  Here are just a few of my favourites:

I hope you all enjoy your week and get in a good amount of crafting time.  Take care!

October 25, 2015

The Magic of Blocking

One of my favourite parts of knitting is blocking.  Blocking is a method of stretching and shaping a finished piece to reach the dimensions suggested in the pattern.  It also makes your stitches look and nicer and appear more even. Lace especially needs to be blocked to open up the design to show off all those lovely stitches.  

To demonstrate what I mean have a look at my Playground Shawl by Justyna Lorkowska knit in Caterpillargreen Yarns. This pattern alternates grey garter stitch rows with colour rows, knit in a easy to follow lace pattern.  It looked quite nice prior to blocking but a bit small.


But then I blocked it.  The shawl grew after blocking and the lace just opened up and looked so much more attractive. Have a look:


Here's a few other shawls, that I knit, which really show off the magic of blocking:

Algiers by Kirsten Kapur:


 And finally, Brickless by Martina Behm.


I especially love blocking lace sweaters and cardigans.  I find that when I knit these kind of patterns I often worry that my F.O. is going to be too small.  But after blocking the lace opens up and size is no longer a concern.  For example, look at Lake Effect by Amy Miller:


Look at the difference below!  The lace looked so much better and the size was just what I aiming for.


There are lots of great videos on how to block your knits.  I hope I convinced you to try it out if you have never attempted it before.  You won't be sorry.

I wonder what I can block next?

October 4, 2015

F.O. Mailin in Plucky Knitter Scholar

Did you ever knit a pattern where every moment spent on it was so relaxing and it simply made you happy?  That's what happened when I was knitting this beautiful sweater by Isabell Kraemer called Mailin.  The pattern was well written and easy to follow, and the combination of pattern and yarn just worked out beautifully.  The yarn I chose for this project was the colourway Twill in Plucky Knitter Scholar, a lovely combination of merino (75%) and cashmere (25%). 

Plucky Knitter:  Scholar
Although I had other projects on the go, including two other sweaters, it was this project that I wanted to knit the most.  This pattern was straight forward, which I really appreciated, as my work life was extremely hectic during the time I knit it. Scholar was lovely to work with and I have found that a sweater knit up in this yarn is soft, lofty and warm. Knitting in a worsted weight yarn is so satisfying as you feel like you are making quick progress.  

I used three circular needles to knit the sleeves instead of the suggested dpns. I find that when using dpns my gauge gets much tighter and I have to adjust either the stitches and/or the needle size.  But using three circular needles completely solves the problem and I knit in a gauge that is consistent with the rest of the sweater.

Using circular needles on my sleeves
Instead of using the suggested M1R/M1L increases in the sleeve area I choose to use lifted increases as recommended in the Craftsy video:  Essential Techniques You Should Know by knitting expert Sally Melville.  It is Sally's preferred increase. This video is an excellent resource that I highly recommend…I use it over and over again and I think even the most experienced knitter would discover some helpful tips.

Anyway here is the finished product...I am so pleased with it.  This is one of these sweaters that I am looking forward to snuggling into as the days get cooler.  And I will always remember how knitting this sweater, during one of my busiest times at work, really helped me relax after a long day.  Knitting is magical, don't you agree?

September 20, 2015

Caterpillargreen Yarns

Sometimes when I get new yarn, it stops me in my tracks and I leave it on my desk where I can admire it.  This is the yarn that I am currently enjoying:

Of course, it didn't arrive in that state.  It arrived like this, hiding it's inner beauty:

 But then when it was opened up this gorgeous rainbow of colour appeared.

This beauty, my friends, is Caterpillargreen Yarns created on Vancouver Island located in British Columbia.  I was lucky to grab a skein during an online sale in order to make the Playground Shawl by Justyna Lorkowska, a free pattern available on Ravelry.  It is MCN Fingering yarn in the colourway Concrete & Tulips, a 70% superwash merino, 20% cashmere and 10% nylon blend.  So soft!  If you have never seen the Caterpillargreen Yarns website, I highly recommend you check it out.  The yarn sold on this website is self-striping and comes in many gorgeous colourways.  They are not made available very often so you have to be quick.  However, you're in luck if you live in Vancouver or nearby. Caterpillargreen Yarns will have a booth at Knit City October 2-4. 

As for me this yarn will stay on my desk for some time where I can admire it.  


That's all I have to say : )