March 28, 2015

Las Vegas: Part One

In all the craziness that is Las Vegas there are places of real beauty.  My husband and I recently visited Las Vegas and although gambling is not my thing (so much better to spend my money on yarn!) I really enjoyed myself.  My favourite spot to visit was the Bellagio Hotel...as a person who has lived in the depths of winter since November the Bellagio Hotel was an oasis.   Although I wasn't staying at this hotel I enjoyed walking through to admire the beautiful displays and get a taste of spring.  I just wanted to share with you a few pictures of the stunning displays there.

When you are in the hotel lobby there are so many areas that catch your eye. First there are the gardens behind the check in desks:



Then, when you look up to the 18-foot ceiling in the lobby you see the most beautiful glass sculpture consisting of 2000 hand-blown glass blossoms. 




Everywhere I looked I was impressed. This beautiful horse was also in the lobby.

Then while walking through the hallways of the hotel I looked up and these umbrellas caught my attention. 





But my favourite area was the Bellagio Conservatory which showcases different gardens each season. Unfortunately for me, this area was being changed over, so I could only see it partially completed.  Despite that it really was a thing of beauty.  












This turtle's back was made of mostly roses...just stunning.

Then there was the floor to ceiling chocolate fountain with cascading chocolate fourteen feet down running 24 hours a day at the hotel's pastry shop. 

 

And of course there was the infamous water show that is set to music outside the hotel.


I hope you can now understand why I walked through this hotel more than once!  I think it is definitely worth a visit if you are ever visiting Las Vegas. 

And just so you don't think I spent my whole time wandering in a hotel I wasn't even staying in, next time I will share a few other spots in Las Vegas that also caught my attention.

March 14, 2015

Vancouver in Springtime

I had the pleasure of visiting Vancouver for a very quick weekend away and fortunately the weather was sunny and warm.  We rented a car and drove to Squamish, about a forty minute drive from downtown and took the Sea to Sky Gondola up the mountain and admired the amazing scenery.   There were a lot of hiking trails to choose from and I really wish we could have spent more time there.










Then we took a walk around Stanley Park.  Signs of spring were everywhere.








The next day we took a walk to the Waterfront from our hotel.  Imagine living here and seeing this scenery everyday!






As we were walking around at night we passed by a florist and saw this lovely display.  Unfortunately I didn't get the name of the store but the flowers were stunning.









 We returned to sunny, warmer temperatures back East with spring around the corner.  Thank goodness : )

March 11, 2015

Spotlight: 88 Stitches

Everytime I travel I like to visit the yarn stores in the area.  Luckily I have a wonderful husband who supports my habit.  A perfect yarn store to me is a store that carries a good variety of interesting yarns, in a welcoming, cozy atmosphere run by someone who is knowledgeable, but not pushy.

This time when we visited Vancouver we stopped by a lovely store called 88 Stitches which fits this description.  As a fan of Melissa Thomson and her Sweet Fiber yarns I had wanted to visit this store as it owned by her mother, and of course is one of the retailers that carries Melissa's yarn.  The second I walked into the store I just loved it.  It is a bright and sunny place with a beautiful selection of yarns, and the owner was very welcoming and helpful.





So much yarny goodness!
This yarn store carried a great variety of brands including Rowan, Shibui, Jamieson's, Swan's Island Yarns, Sweet Georgia and Berroco to name a few.










All the samples from Sweet Fiber Yarns' pattern collection were there.  The patterns combined with the beautiful yarn were even more impressive in person.

Bridgeway & York

DocksideBrae 

Bedford Cowl

Capilano:  a cowl made with 2 skeins of Cashmerino Worsted in Moss

Of course I had to buy some Sweet Fiber Yarn.  Unfortunately the stock was a bit low as Melissa Thomson has just finished relocating her dyeing studio.  But the good news, for those that live in the Toronto area, is that Melissa Thomson is coming with her yarn to the Toronto Knitters Frolic at the Japanese Cultural on April 25th.  Hopefully many people can visit her booth that day and then will understand why I like it so much.

Sweet Fiber Merino Twist DK in Chartreuse


West Yorkshire Spinners Bluefaced Leicester Yarn
and Sweet Fiber Yarns Super Sweet Sock in Parchment

I just wish this was my neighbourhood yarn store.  I would be there all the time!

March 1, 2015

Olivia: Amy Miller & the Joy of Craftsy


When I am choosing something to knit I often try to pick a pattern which has an interesting element/stitch/technique/construction that I have not used before.  I am always on a quest to improve my knitting skills.  Isn't that the great thing about knitting?  There is always something new to learn.

I just completed Olivia by Amy Miller, using a new to me stitch, called knit one below (k1b) which creates a rib like pattern.  While knitting Olivia I soon learned that this stitch is very difficult to fix if an error is made, and at the time I unable to find a video to show me how to correct it, and I ended up ripping out quite a bit.  It was only after I finished knitting the pattern that I found a good one made by Bristol Ivy here. This was a fun pattern to knit and I really like how it turned out.  I had to modify it (see my notes) as the pattern seemed to consume a ton of yarn and three skeins of Tanis Fiber Arts Orange Label Yarn that I had on hand was not enough. Orange Label, a merino, cashmere and silk blend is so cozy to wear that I have had this scarf on quite a bit since I made it. I would love to knit a sweater with Orange Label.


Olivia by Amy Miller

Tanis Fiber Arts Orange Label:  Painted Jeans
Tanis Fiber Arts Orange Label

Another great resource I use frequently to help improve my skills is Craftsy, a website which has many how to videos on not only knitting, but a variety of other crafts as well.  The beauty of Craftsy is that you can learn from experts around the world about your favourite craft, and once you pay for the class you have access to the video forever, to refer to when needed.  

One such video that I have found to be very helpful is Patty Lyons Improve Your Knitting that teaches about the kinds of knitting styles.  I am an English style knitter and I have used her video to not only improve my English style knitting skills but also to experiment with other styles as well.  I feel that my speed has increased since I followed Patty Lyon's tutorial on how to purl Portuguese style. When knitting Japan Sleeves there are extremely long rows of purling and by using Portuguese knitting style I found the purling went much faster.  I can't tell you what a difference it made when knitting this sweater.

Another tutorial that I have found particularly useful is Sally Melville's  Essential Techniques Which Every Knitter Should Know which goes beyond the basics of knitting and purling and teaches you how to do increases, decreases, seaming, etc.  It has been extremely helpful to me with various patterns.  I have had the pleasure of attending one of Sally Melville's classes before and I can say that her Craftsy class was just as great except it can be replayed as often as I want!

Then of course there are the videos by Anne Hanson call the Ins and Outs of Grafting (it's free!) as well as Button Bands and Buttonholes.  Again both are well done and I refer to them often.  

Craftsy is a great place to help boost your knitting skills and confidence.  There are so many other great videos that I didn't even mention.  Have a look!

Have a great week everyone.








February 22, 2015

Algiers #2: Try and Try Again

It's so interesting how some patterns just seem to flow off the needles, every stitch falling into place easily.  Japan Sleeves by Joji Locatelli is a pattern that is doing that for me.  I am having so much fun knitting this pattern that I resent being tired and having to put the needles down to go to bed.  I just want to keep knitting.  I can't wait to see what's next.

Japan Sleeves in progress

Then there are those patterns, that for whatever reason, create a challenge from start to finish. This was the case for me when knitting a shawl for my lovely sister-in-law's birthday. I had planned to knit the shawl pattern, Algiers by Kirsten Kapur, a pattern that I had knit before.  I chose to knit it in Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in a beautiful colourway called Coquette.  To me it was the perfect combination of pattern, colour and yarn.  As I tried to knit this pattern during a very busy work month I ended up ripping it out three times. This was due mainly to losing focus on the lace pattern and making silly mistakes.  I gave up and tried a simpler pattern and still I was making errors.  I ripped that attempt out and once things started calming down on the work front I retried Algiers and this time was able to do it.  Lesson learned...stay away from knitting complicated patterns when you are busy elsewhere.


Despite all the frustration I am glad I persisted because I am very happy with how it turned out.




Coquette is a beautiful shade of pink with a very slight variegation which was hard to pick up on camera.  Luckily I had bought a couple skeins of this yarn because Tosh Merino Light does not like to be ripped out three times.  It became quite fuzzy and fortunately I had enough yarn that I did not have to reuse the yarn that been ripped out.  However, going forward, if I am going to do a complicated pattern again I think I would use another yarn.



As always I found blocking to be a miraculous thing, as the two pictures below show you before and after shots.  Tosh Merino Light really grows and blocks beautifully.  Despite my difficulties this is a well written pattern that creates a wonderful result.  There are both charts and written directions.  Don't let my adventures with this pattern prevent you from checking it out.

This shawl is in progress after I knit the third section


Post-blocking

Have a great week!  Hopefully things will start thawing out around here.  I am ready for spring.  How about you?