December 31, 2015

A Look Back: 2015

2015 saw me immerse myself in knitting more than ever. I continue to enjoy learning about it and am constantly impressed with the variety of yarns, patterns, books, blogs and videos, etc. dedicated to this craft.  It's a great time to be a knitter and I still have so much to learn.  In honour of all things knitting I present you with my second annual list of Knitting Favourites of 2015.

Best Yarn Shop:  I had the pleasure of visiting 88 Stitches this past spring and I liked everything about it.  88 Stitches is located in Langley, B.C. and is the perfect size for a yarn shop, carrying a great variety of yarn including my favourite, Sweet Fiber Yarns. In fact Melissa Thomson's mother owns this shop. It was bright and sunny in the store and the owner was so friendly.  I truly wish this was my neighbourhood store as I would love to visit frequently.

Best Shawl: Of the seven shawls I knit this year I would have to say that Cladonia, by Kirsten Kapur is my favourite of the year.  Knit in Sweet Fiber Yarn Super Sweet Sock in Chartreuse and String Theory Caper Sock Yarn in Java, it is a beautiful combination of colour and pattern. The shape of the shawl makes it easy to wear and the cashmere in Caper Sock Yarn makes it so soft.

Cladonia by Kirsten Kapur

Best Sweater/Cardigan:  This was a hard choice for me to make as I knit four cardigans and three sweaters, all of which I absolutely love.  However, I am choosing Japan Sleeves, a sweater by Joji Locatelli because of its unique and fun construction.  I enjoyed every second of knitting this sweater.  The  lace inserts in the sleeves were knit first, and if you look at the photos below, you can see how the body of the sweater was constructed.  It was such a unique way to knit a sweater.  I hadn't had as much fun knitting a sweater since I knit Hitofude last year.  I also liked the colour combination of Madelinetosh's Molly Ringwald and Teddy Bear, creating a perfect spring sweater.

Lace panels were knit first and then the sleeve construction began

Once the sleeves were done knitting the body was knit in the round

Knit in Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light:  Teddy Bear and Molly Ringwald

Best Knitted Accesssory:  2015 is the year I knit my first pair of socks so I must choose my Wildflower Socks knit in Sweet Fiber Yarns Super Sweet Sock. I followed Susan B. Anderson's How I Knit My Socks, a great basic pattern for newbies like me.  I have to say I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed knitting them.   But to me, the best part of sock knitting is wearing the socks.   They are so much better than store bought ones.  I definitely see more knitted socks in my future.

Sweet Fiber Yarns Super Sweet Sock:  Wildflowers

Best Yarn Brand:  My choice from last year was Canada's own Melissa Thomson of Sweet Fiber Yarns.  Her eye for colour is beautiful. But if I had to pick a new yarn brand for this year I would have to choose Woolfolk yarn. I had the opportunity to knit the pattern Pure Worsted with Woolfolk Far that I purchased at Purl Soho in New York.  It is a 100% merino with a chainette construction having a micron count of 17.5 (instead of the usual 35 which most wool products have).  I can't say enough good things about this yarn.  It is so soft that knitting and wearing an item knit in this yarn is pure bliss.

Best Yarn Colour:  This year I have continued becoming more passionate about photographing yarn and I have hundreds of photos to prove it.  There are so many gorgeous colourways available.   However, I would say that my favourite colourway of the year would be Monarch in Sweet Fiber Yarns Super Sweet Sock.  This yarn was part of Sweet Fiber's 2015 Sock Club and this is a skein that needs to be admired for a while before being knitted with.

Yarn That Surprised Me:  I tried Plucky Knitter Scholar for the first time this year, not knowing what to expect.  When you buy yarn online, without seeing it in person, it is always a risk.  However, I was not disappointed.  This worsted weight yarn is a 25% cashmere 75% wool blend.  I chose to knit Mailin by Isabell Kraemer with it.  This yarn gives you the perfect level of warmth but is not overly heavy or scratchy in the slightest.  I would love to knit a cardigan out of it but I will have to wait for the Canadian dollar to bounce back.

Mailin by Isabell Kraemer

Best Lookbook:  Although Brooklyn Tweed is still my favourite I think this year I would choose the Plucky Knitter Fall Collection Lookbook.  The Plucky Knitter has continued to make great strides this year to provide beautiful, highly wearable patterns and their lookbook shares their fun attitude toward knitting.  The use of bright colours and beautiful scenery in the Lookbook makes you want to knit every pattern that is in it.

Best Knitting Book:  I bought several knitting books this year but the one that stands out is Home and Away:  Knits for Everyday Adventures by Hannah Fettig. Often I buy knitting books that are beautiful to look at but only contain one or two patterns that I would ever knit.  However, I would love to knit each item in this book.  Another great feature of the book is that each pattern consists of directions for knitting a seamed or non-seamed sweater, depending on your preference.

Best Knitting Blog:   My choice is, without a doubt Fringe Association written by Karen Templer of Fringe Supply Co. If you haven't read this blog yet I can't recommend it enough.  Karen writes about knitting and sewing in an unique way.  For example, this year she hosted a Fringe and Friends Knitalong where she chose a sweater to knit and invited famous knitwear designers to knit the same sweater, and share their modifications and experiences.  It's a great way to learn about ways to modify and the reasons to do so.  She also has a year long hat knitalong and offered free hat patterns to knit.  I always learn a lot from this blog and the content is so varied, it is never boring.

Best Knitting Vlog/Podcast:  I enjoyed knitting while listening to podcasts as well as watching video blogs (vlogs) this year.  The one I found the most entertaining is Along the Lanes by Vero (thatcanadiangirl on Ravelry).
Born in Ottawa, Canada, Vero now resides in the United Kingdom. Although Vero only began her vlog this year her enthusiasm and expertise are evident. The vlog really stand out as being unique, creative and fun to watch, you never know what to expect.  For example, in one episode she takes the viewers along with her on a London yarn crawl.  It's a ton of should really check her out.

Most Helpful Video:  A great crafting website that I turn to for help is Craftsy. The variety and level of expertise offered through this website is impressive. The Craftsy video that I have turned to the most this year is Essential Techniques Every Knitter Should Know by Sally Melville.  Even the most experienced knitter will get tips from this Craftsy class. The best part is you can return to it again and again.

Best Knitting Accessory:  I am smitten with these lovely screen printed bags created by Jenna Rose, an artisan from Ontario, Canada.  They are just so pretty and unique.

So there you have my round up of my 2015 favourites.  Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to read and comment on my blog this year.  It really means the world to me.  The knitting and yarn world is an exciting one to be a part of.  I look forward to knitting along with everyone in 2016. Happy New Year and all the best in the coming year! Thanks for stopping by.

December 20, 2015

A Very Special Man

During the Christmas season I try to find time to reflect on where I am at in my life and think about those people who are special to me, and have made a difference in my life.  Although both my in-laws fit this bill, today I want to focus on my father-in-law.  Almost 80 years old, he lives every day with passion and energy.  A long retired architect, my father-in-law is a family man and supportive member of our family.  He takes an avid interest in each of his seven grandchildren and texts with them, and shows up to their soccer games. He reads his newspaper on an iPad and has his computer figured out.  He even plays a mean game of golf.  He is a passionate traveller and has visited many areas of the world.  

I could keep going on but today I wanted to focus on his artistic skill.  Over the years he has gifted many of his stained glass creations to not only his family members and friends, but also has completed stained glass windows for his church (and those windows were completed in the last few years).  He just doesn't stop.  I thought I would share some of the pictures I have taken over the years of his work.  Sometimes we give him a picture of a stained glass we have seen on the internet as inspiration and sometimes he uses his own ideas. These are just a few stained glass pieces he has done over the years.

He tried to teach me how to do stained glass years ago but I did not have the patience for it.  It is a very labour intensive craft and I am always amazed with what he accomplishes.
My father-in-law Jim and my son

This year I knit him a scarf, the No-Purl Ribbed Scarf, a free pattern by Purl Soho for Christmas using Madelinetosh Pashmina Worsted in the colourway Fog. This yarn is a merino, cashmere and silk blend, making it very soft on the skin. I always forget how long it takes to knit a scarf it but it was totally worth it for my father-in-law. I could not believe how much this scarf grew with blocking.  I had knit it to a length of 68 inches and after blocking it grew in length to 81 inches, a length that was way too long for my father-in-law.  I ripped some of it out and I will have to see if it needs a further adjustment.  It is my tiny way of saying thank you to an incredible man.

December 13, 2015

The Joy of Beautiful Yarn

Looking back at my Ravelry Project page I realize I have been obsessed with knitting for five years now.  I'll never forget when my mother-in-law first told me about Ravelry.  I was hooked. The wealth of knowledge in this website astounded me.  Five years later I can honestly say I am more passionate about knitting than ever. I don't think a day goes by without me knitting a few stitches.  It just brings me that much joy.

Over the past five years I have bought a lot of yarn.  At the beginning, I had no idea what I was doing.  I just bought what attracted me.  At the time I couldn't get over how the variety of yarn available had changed, compared to when I had first learned to knit in my younger days.  But the more I read, the more I perused Ravelry and many knitter's blogs, the more I learned.  Books like The Knitter's Book of Wool by Clara Parkes as well as her Craftsy video Know Your Yarn helped me gain knowledge.  Nowadays I am much more picky about what I buy and I enjoying trying new yarn.

Besides learning about the variety of yarn available, I am also fascinated with the way dyers dye their yarn and the beautiful colourways they create.  Once such dyer is Melissa Thomson of Sweet Fiber Yarns. Her colourways are so appealing.  This year I joined the Sweet Fiber's Sock Yarn Club and was continuously impressed with the yarn I received.  I really love the expertise in which she dyes beautiful unique colourways.  Have a look:

Indigo Dreams

Stepping Stones

I have to admit that I had a hard time choosing just a few pictures of her yarn to share with you. I realize, as I was looking at my photo library, that I seem to take an inordinate amount of Sweet Fiber Yarn pictures.  They are just that pretty.  Here's a few more if I haven't convinced you yet.


When you join a Yarn Club it is a bit of a risk.  However, I was never disappointed.  I think it was money well spent.

This year another Sweet Fiber colourway that really caught my interest was Chartreuse.  I used the colourway in Cladonia by Kirsten Kapur, one of my favourite shawls I knit this year.


I loved it so much I couldn't resist knitting Amy Miller's Lake Effect in it as well.

Super Sweet Sock:  Chartreuse
Lake Effect

I have some other Sweet Fiber colourways in my stash and I excited to knit with them in 2016.  I look forward to seeing what colourways Melissa comes up with in the coming year.  When you are knitting the right pattern combined with the right yarn it is so joyous.  That's how I feel when I knit with Sweet Fiber Yarns. 

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.  : )