June 30, 2014

Through the Loops Mystery KAL

I took part in the Through the Loops Mystery KAL by Kirsten Kapur during the month of June.  Each week I received a part of the pattern, five clues in total.  Here is the finished shawl:
Ta-da


I can't tell you how happy I was with the whole process.  First the yarn...this was my first time using Black Trillium Fibres and it is so beautiful I cannot capture it on camera.   The colours seem to glow and the slight variegation in each skein was so pretty.  The yarn blocked beautifully.  I will definitely buy more of this yarn, there are just so many pretty colours to choose from.

The pattern:  I have been slowly working on improving my lace knitting skills.  This was the most challenging lace project I have done to date.  In fact if I had seen what the finished shawl looked like before starting it I might have shied away from doing it at all.  By getting a part of the pattern each week it made it feel manageable.  I was happy to discover that there were no tricky stitches and I solely used the charts (although written directions were provided).  For me the difficulty lay when I occasionally missed a yarn over, throwing off my stitch count.  I would then have to go back and figure out where I had gone wrong.  However, I quickly learned that using stitch markers throughout each row, to mark the repeated part of the pattern, was extremely helpful as well as putting in the occasional life line. The directions were very well written with enlarged charts to follow and the pattern was fun to knit.  I highly recommend it.  Look here to see the other finished shawls...each one is gorgeous.

Blocking:  Ahhhh the magic of blocking.  Look at this pattern completed before blocking:
Pre-blocking

Now look at it after...It was so much fun to block and see the magical transformation.  That's my favourite part of knitting.

After blocking
So if you are looking for a shawl pattern to knit this summer you can't go wrong with Kristin Kapur's design.

June 22, 2014

First Day of Summer

Saturday turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous day and my husband and I decided to forget about our weekend chores and simply enjoy ourselves.  It was one of those days where everything fell into place.  It all started when I read the Blue Brick blog.  In a post the writer, Shireen Nadir, mentioned that she would be in Niagara-on-the-Lake in an Art Show at Frogpond Winery selling some of her jewellery.  This blogger is a favourite of mine because not only is she a knitter, but she takes amazing photos and designs very unique jewellery.  So we decided to go down and check it out.  Unfortunately I forgot my camera so I only got a few photos from my phone.  I had the pleasure of meeting Shireen and she was kind enough to take a photo with me.

Shireen Nadir and me!
Here is a sample of her jewellery:
Blue Brick jewellery
 It was hard to choose but this is the necklace I ended up buying:



Since we were in Niagara we couldn't leave without checking out my favourite Ontario winery called Colaneri Estate Winery where we enjoyed a delicious pizza and a glass of wine looking out over the vineyard, followed by a lovely wine tasting.  There I bumped into a very good friend of mine and had a good chat with her.  

On the way home my husband surprised me and stopped by a yarn store that I have always wanted to visit in Ancaster called The Needle Emporium.  Talk about a great selection of yarn, especially the largest variety of Madelinetosh I have ever seen available in the GTA. The store has everything from Madelinetosh, Rowan, Lorna's Laces, and Spud & Chloe just to name a few.  This store also carries the new line of Mrs. Crosby, a brand just introduced by Lorna's Laces.  Here is a shawl called Groovy I just finished in Mrs. Crosby Carpet Bag, a DK weighted yarn in 80% merino and 20% silk blend.  

Groovy in Mrs. Crosby "Carpet Bag"

I really enjoyed knitting with this yarn. The colours available are quite beautiful and the colourway I chose is a slightly variegated turquoise blue called Sunset Regatta.  The store is definitely worth a visit if you are ever in the area.  I really like that the owner had a huge amount of knitted samples which helps when making yarn buying decisions.  Once we got home we had a delicious barbeque and then I sat and knitted outside until the light started to fade.  What a peaceful day.  I hope you enjoyed the first day of summer too.

June 15, 2014

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there.  Although I lost my mother a number of years ago my dad is still doing well and I look forward to a nice visit with him today.  My father-in-law is also a healthy, active man.  My family is so fortunate to have both of them in our lives.  To celebrate Father's Day, in my grade six class this week, I had the students pick a character trait that best describes their dad and make a picture depicting that trait. Some of the students made a picture of their dad as a superhero...hopefully the dads will like them.




Look what I got in mail.   A new copy of Wendy Bernard's Up, Down All Around a beautifully made Stitch Dictionary.
New book by Wendy Bernard

 I already have my eye on a specific pattern that I would love to make up as a scarf. Have a look:  I think it would look great in a beautiful colour of Madelinetosh Light.


I also liked this interesting edging.  It would be beautiful at the bottom of a sweater.  This is a clearly written book which I can see myself using again and again.



I have been plugging away on my two shawl KALs, challenging myself, by trying to complete two different lace patterns. I made it through Clue 2 of  the Through the Loops Mystery Shawl.  I am learning the value of using markers and checking my work frequently for stitch counts.  For each clue that is given I use a darker gradient of the colour of the Black Trillium Fibre colourway called Grasshopper.  It is a very subtle shift between colours which I appreciate.  I will enjoy seeing what the third clue brings today.  Stay tuned!
Through the Loops Mystery KAL
I hope all the dads out there have a wonderful day!  Happy Father's Day!


June 1, 2014

Off the Needles: Jackson Creek Cardigan

I finished this sweater by Glenna C. for MadMay with the exception of the buttons.  I am very excited to know that I can knit a sweater in about three weeks as I have never done that before.  I always say that I am not a fast knitter but I am an enthusiastic knitter!   I was very happy with the fit as well....those gauge swatches really work.  This pattern was knit in pieces and then seamed together.  All the seams look okay except for the shoulder area.  I may have to rip that part out again to see if I can get the sleeves to lay flatter.
Jackson Creek Cardigan
I have put the cardigan aside for now so that I can focus on these two fun patterns.

My projects for June are two KALs....This one is a swatch for Through the Loops Mystery Shawl KAL (knit-a-long) by Kristin Kapur.  Once a week through June a part of the pattern is sent to each participant to knit.  What the final shawl looks like remains a mystery until you receive the last clue.

Swatch for the Mystery Shawl

I am using Black Trillium Fibre Studio Pebble Sock in the colourway Grasshopper.  I have to say that I am very impressed with the vibrancy of the colour, my photos do not do it justice.  It is a gradient hand dyed yarn in one of my favourite colours...it just makes me smile when I look at it.  Each skein is about 127 yards.  The colour choices in the Black Trillium Etsy store are simply beautiful.  I definitely see more of this yarn in my future.

Black Trillium Fibre Studio Pebble Sock in Grasshopper

I have also joined the Tanis Fiber Arts Shawl Knit-a-long.  The goal is to knit a shawl throughout June completing it by the end of the month.  For this KAL I chose a skein of TFA Silver Label (100% fingering silk yarn), one of the yarns from the 2013 Year in Colour Club called Boysenberry.  I decided to do a shawl called Fine Vine by Marisa Herandez. 



Fine Vine
 It is a lacy pattern and one of my goals is to improve my lace knitting skills.  This shawl, as well as the Through the Loops Shawl, should really help me on my way to meeting my goal.
The interesting thing about this KAL is that each participant can choose whatever shawl pattern they want.

If you have never thought of joining a KAL you should really consider it.  When you join a KAL you can receive support and encouragement when needed on Ravelry.  Each KAL has a discussion group.  It's fun to see what other people across the world are knitting.  Also a KAL is very motivating because there are usually deadlines that you are trying to meet.  Before you know it the KAL is over, and you find out that you have finished another knitted item, and met (virtually) some nice people along the way.  

May 25, 2014

MadMay 2014: Setting Goals

Do not underestimate the power of setting goals for yourself.  As I get older this belief has proven to be true again and again.  Even when it comes to knitting!  This month I joined the MadMay group on Ravelry.  For those of you unaware of this glorious group let me explain.  Basically it means that for the month of May you commit to knitting a pattern(s) with Madelinetosh Yarn.  Last May I knit two items:  my version of Happy Street in Madelinetosh Sock.
Happy Street

And Arbutus in a pretty colourway called Cove.
Arbutus in Tosh DK

This year I challenged myself to knit a seamed cardigan called the Jackson Creek Cardigan using Tosh DK in Silver Fox.  For some knitters completing a cardigan in a month would be no big deal.  For me it is a different story.  Although I am a highly enthusiastic knitter I am not the quickest knitter and so completing a sweater while working full time is challenging.  However, once I committed to doing this I am proud to say that it looks like I am going to get it done by the deadline of May 30th.

The pattern I chose is written by a Canadian from Hamilton named Glenna C. who has written many beautiful patterns including the Northside Pullover, Dundurn and Queen St. Mitts (which I knit some time ago).  I have almost finished this cardigan because I have been knitting like a mad woman.  This pattern was clearly written and easy to follow.  I am really hoping this cardigan will fit me properly as I have a habit of knitting sweaters that are too big.  Madelinetosh DK has grown considerably in other patterns I have knit so hopefully I picked the right size and needles.  Yes I did do a gauge swatch but I am still nervous.

Here is a picture of where it was a week ago.
Jackson Creek Cardigan
I had the fronts and the back done and was working on the sleeves.  Now I am happy to tell you that everything but the sleeves are finished.  The sleeves need to be seamed and then attached to the sweater and I will be done.  Done!

I really must set some more goals for myself.  It works!

p.s. I have yet to try it on so whether it will fit well or not is another story.
p.p.s.  I will show you the finished sweater next weekend.
Have a great week.

May 11, 2014

So Pretty: Line Break Shawl

Remember this yarn?

Well I am pleased to announce that I finished my Line Break Shawl by Veera Valimaki in Malabrigo Sock and I couldn't be happier with it.  You know the feeling, knitters, when the yarn and the pattern feel just right together.  That's how I felt when knitting this shawl.  When choosing this pattern I was looking for something that would show off the beauty of the yarn and not compete with it.  This pattern allowed the colour to be the star of the show.  Line Break was very calming to work on but not boring, especially when knitting with such a variegated colourway.  I never knew what colour was coming next.  This piece blocked out quite nicely. The preblocking measurement was 55 x 17 inches to 74 x 21 after blocking.  The result was an airy large shawl perfect for the this time of year.
Line Break Shawl




I am really becoming a fan of Malabrigo yarn.  The combination of colours in their yarns are quite beautiful.

May 4, 2014

Sea Stones: Melissa Schaschwary

I love the patterns by Melissa Schaschwary....a.k.a. Dandiliongirl Designs.  Her designs are beautiful to look at, true classics.  I have many of her clearly written patterns in my queue, Heathered and Cattails to name just two.  I just recently finished knitting her Sea Stones.  This is the second pattern I have knit by her, the first being my Fallow Mitts.  My version of Sea Stones took me way longer than it should to complete, as I was working on other patterns at the same time, and I was frustrated with my yarn choice, Rowan Creative Focus Worsted, a 75%, 25% alpaca blend.  I love the colour of the yarn but as I mentioned in a previous post it splits very easily and is very difficult to rip out.  However, I am happy with how it looks finished.  It is a lofty and warm wool blend that will be great to wear in the winter.

Sea Stones

Lovely yarn colour


I only made a couple modifications.  I changed the ribbing portion of my sweater to ptbl twice and then knitting twice.  Also I had trouble knitting into the purl bumps along the bottom part of the body with this yarn and just omitted it.

Hopefully it will be too warm to wear this sweater for some time.  But when the weather starts getting cooler this will be one of the first items I will choose to put on.