December 31, 2016

A Look Back: 2016

2016 was a great year for knitters. People were blogging, instagramming and podcasting about knitting and yarn more than ever before.  Everyday there seemed to be either a new pattern, yarn or Knit-a-long.  In honour of all things knitting I present my third annual list of Knitting Favourites of 2016. (You can check out my previous picks here:  2014 and 2015).  I have provided links if you wish to read more about any of my favourites.  

Best Yarn Shop:  I had the pleasure of visiting several amazing knitting stores this year.  Although I loved Fibre Space in Virginia I would have to say Tolt Yarn and Wool in Carnation, Washington is my absolute favourite yarn store. I loved everything about this store.  The staff were friendly, the variety and quantity of yarns were amazing, and the size and layout of the store was perfect. I admit it was quite a drive from Seattle, but I would do it all over again if I had the chance.  I had heard the hype about this store and after going there I truly get it.  It's that good

Tolt Yarn and Wool





Best Sweater/Cardigan:  This was a hard choice for me to make as I knit four cardigans and three sweaters, all of which I love.  I am improving on knitting the appropriate size for myself and picking the right yarn.  I decided to pick two favourites, the one I wear the most and then the one that I enjoyed knitting the most.  The one I wear the most is Madewell by Joji Locatelli knit in Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label (Painted Jeans colourway).  I love the multiple colours in this yarn and the style of this sweater.  It goes with everything.

Madewell by Joji Locatelli

My favourite sweater to make was the Clarke Sweater, by Jane Richmond, in Malabrigo Rios (Piedras colourway). I really love how this sweater showcases the yarn.  Although each skein appeared to be similar at first glance, once I started knitting I noticed how much each skein varied. I decided to alternate three skeins of Piedras and that seemed to help. Despite having to alternate skeins I loved knitting this pattern.  I am a big Jane Richmond fan as her patterns are gorgeous and well written.  I suspect I will knit another Clarke Sweater one day.
Clarke Sweater by Jane Richmond

Malabrigo Rios:  Piedras colourway

Best Knitted Accesssory:  My Antiquity Mitts by Alicia Plummer are my favourite accessory this year.  This pattern was the perfect fit with Camellia Fiber Company CFC Flax DK yarn (a combination of Alpaca, Linen and Silk).  I was amazed at how this yarn feels as it is so different from other yarns I have knit with.  I definitely would love to knit with this yarn again.
Camellia Fiber Company CFC Flax DK


Best Yarn Brand:  This year I really became interested in yarn that was not overly processed.  Although I have a lot of superwash yarn in my stash I have enjoyed trying yarn like Targhee-ColumbiaBluefaced Leicester and CVM/Romeldale  yarn.  I hope to continue trying other natural yarns in 2017. One of the coziest sweaters I knit this year is Georgetown by Hannah Fettig knit in West Yorkshire Spinners Fleece Bluefaced Leicester DK yarn.  This yarn is a work horse of a yarn and is the coziest sweater I have ever knit. I would love to try knitting cables with this yarn.

Georgetown by Hannah Fettig

Best Yarn Colour: There are so many pretty yarn colourways.  However, one really stood out for me this year.  When attending Indie Untangled in Rhinebeck I was able to see Voolenvine Yarns in person this year.  Now I see what the fuss is all about.  The colourways are stunning.  Look at this one in Kristen's Wolke base:

Voolenvine Yarns:  Faeirie Hair


Best Knitting Book:  I bought several knitting books this year but my favourite is Take Heart by Fiona Alice. This book was published by the same women who publish PomPom Quarterly and I think they did a wonderful job.  The patterns and photography are beautiful.


Best Knitting Instagram Feed:  There are so many amazing Instagrammers that I follow.  One of my favourites is The Plucky Knitter.  They are always posting inspiring photos of the most beautiful yarns and the patterns that I would love to knit.

Best Knitting Magazine:  I am a big fan of Pom Pom Quarterly.  There are several patterns I find I want to knit from each issue.  I finally got to knitting Vitsippa by Joji Locatelli from Issue 12 and was so pleased with the result.
Vitsippa by Joji Locatelli

Other honourable mentions go to two new magazines:  Making by Carrie Bostick Hoge and By Hand by Andrea Hungerford.  I really enjoyed reading them this year.



Best Knitting Blog: And speaking of Andrea Hungerford, my favourite knitting blog of the year is her Blueberry Hill Crafting blog.  Andrea is a prolific knitter and crafter and is always knitting items that I have in my queue.  She knits with the most amazing yarns, ones that I also have on my wishlist. She is honest in her analysis of her F.O.'s which I find extremely helpful.  You should check her out. 

Best Knitting Vlog/Podcast:  2016 was the year I got into the Grocery Girls podcast, knitting obsessed Canadian sisters living in Edmonton, Alberta.  They are so much fun to watch.  Even Joji Locatelli is a fan of theirs, naming her latest shawl The Girl From the Grocery Store, in honour of them.  I am definitely casting on this shawl in the New Year.

Best Knitting Accessory:  I am still smitten with these lovely screen printed bags created by Jenna Rose, an artisan from Ontario, Canada.  I love giving them as gifts.
Jenna Rose bag
Well that's it for another year.  Thank you for reading through my list of favourites.  I appreciate everyone who drops by my blog and especially those who take the time to add a comment. I look forward to seeing what everyone makes in 2017.   Happy New Year!!!  All the best in the coming year.

December 18, 2016

#bestnine2016

#bestnine2016

I am probably the last to know about this, but if you have an Instagram account you can use this handy link, and your best nine Instagram photos of the year are automatically generated.  It is no surprise to me that most of my best photos from 2016  are about knitting.  Not only did I post pictures of these items on my Instagram account I also wrote about them on my blog.   The sweaters above are the items I am most proud of knitting this year.  

If you missed reading about any of these items I have included the links below, starting with the green sweater in upper left corner and working clockwise:

Aibrean by Isabell Kraemer
My trip to Seattle (part of Knitted Bliss' #CraftyBlissChallenge)
Vitsippa by Joji Locatelli
The Girl In Me from the O-Wool booth at Rhinebeck
Clarke Pullover by Jane Richmond
Madewell by Joji Locatelli
Clarke Pullover in progress
Looking up at Rhinebeck (part of Knitted Bliss' #CraftyBlissChallenge)

I am furiously knitting away on Thunderstorm by Alicia Plummer in the most gorgeous yarn: Sweet Georgia's Cashluxe Spark in the Shoreline Colourway. This yarn consists of 80% superwash merino wool, 10% cashmere and 10% silver stellina. 

I was worried that the stellina would make the yarn feel scratchy but it is incredibly soft and I highly recommend it.  I would love to have this sparkly shawl finished by Christmas but I know that it is not possible.  However, I will enjoy knitting on it through the holidays and hopefully finish it by New Year's.

Imagine this shawl with a lot of sparkle...I wish I could capture it properly

And, finally, if you would like something to watch while you steal away some knitting time, I found an enjoyable new podcast.  The owners of Espace Tricot, a Montreal based yarn shop have started their own podcast.  I love how the friendship between these two women is so evident.  On the podcast they share such an interesting story about how they got started in this industry.  There are two episodes available so far.  Espace Tricot is a yarn store that I have had on my list to visit for so long.  Maybe 2017 will be the year!  I recommend taking a knitting break and watching this podcast, while sipping on a hot beverage. You won't be sorry.


Espace Tricot Podcast




December 12, 2016

F.O. Voolenvine Vanilla Latte Socks

Pattern:  Vanilla Latte Socks
Designer:  Virginia Rose-Jeanes
Yarn:  Voolenvine Yarns Wolke
80/10/10 blend merino/cashmere/nylon
Colourway:  Deck the Halls
Needles:  2.5 mm 

Voolenvine Yarns Wolke Base

I bought this skein of Voolenvine yarn during Rhinebeck weekend at Indie Untangled.  I was quite taken by this colourway when I saw it in person.  I tried a couple shawl patterns first but I decided the colourway looked best knit as socks.  There are so many sock patterns to choose from, it can be a bit overwhelming for a new sock knitter.  I decided on the Vanilla Latte Socks as I saw there were over 7000 projects using this pattern.  After knitting them now I know why this pattern is so popular.  This sock pattern was great, not only because it was a free pattern, but because it offered the knitter a few options. First there were three heel flaps to choose from:  Stockinette, Slip Stitch Rib and the one I chose which was the pretty Eye of Partridge. Then there were the Toe Shaping choices: the Rounded Wedge Toe (that's what I did) or the Star Toe.  I was quite happy with how the pattern turned out and the fit is great.  This is the first time I knit a sock with 56 stitches and it really helped me get the proper fit.  I think I have been knitting my socks too big in the past with 64 stitches.




The second sock is much lighter than the first
Notes:  I knit the first sock from the outside of the skein and the second sock from the inside out.  I am not sure why I did that.  However, the first sock is much darker than the second sock.  Lesson learned when knitting with hand dyed yarn.  I won't do that again.  However, the sock feels so lovely on...perfect socks to wear on Christmas Day.

This is my fifth pair of socks that I have knitted.  Although I absolutely love wearing knitted socks and prefer them over store bought ones, I still question if it is worth it. I am not the fastest knitter and with limited knitting time one pair takes me a couple weeks.  I think I would rather invest my time in other kinds of projects.  For the next while I think I will focus on knitting some patterns that are not fingering weight.

p.s.  That's not quite true.  I just cast on a shawl in Sweet Georgia's Cashluxe Spark which is a fingering weight yarn!  But my other projects will not be fingering weight. I swear!
Sweet Georgia Cashluxe Spark in the colourway Shoreline

December 5, 2016

Christmas and Holiday Fun

As the countdown to Christmas continues there are so many opportunities to join in the Christmas and holiday fun.

Here's a round-up of just a few seasonal ideas that caught my attention.

1.  First up there is Vlogmas.  Many crafty YouTubers are spreading Christmas cheer by podcasting everyday until December 25th.  One of my favourites is Kristen from the YarnGasm podcast who is a very successful hand dyer (Voolenvine Yarns) and knitter, to name just a few of her talents.  She always has fun and creative content in her videos.  Another favourite of mine is Molly of A Homespun House.  She lives in Berlin and is also a hand dyer and crafter.  I also have been watching Eric from the Sticks and Twine podcast. He lives in Toronto and is one of the authors of the new Rib Magazine that is coming out soon.  He is quite a character.

Voolenvine Yarn Wolke Base in "Deck the Halls"
Pattern:  Vanilla Latte Socks

2. Have you heard about this one?  The infamous Kate Davies has started the Islay Club, which starts on December 14th, so you still have plenty of time to join. Club members will receive a Kate Davies pattern each week for twelve weeks.  Once all the patterns have been delivered to your Inbox her new Inspired by Islay book will be mailed out to members.


3.  Another fun one is a KAL (knit-a-long) with designer Laura Aylor called Just for You 3.  Starting on December 13, KAL members will receive small bits of a new pattern to knit for twelve days, using DK yarn.  If you are too busy at this time of year to join in the fun, don't worry!  There will be another KAL starting on Christmas Day for the same pattern, with a new chat thread on Ravelry.  If you have bought a previous pattern from Laura Aylor, then this pattern is free. If not Laura will donate the $2 fee to a charity. So you can't lose!

4.  Here's an original idea for this time of year.  On Facebook Tin Can Knits is hosting a Hackathon.  Select a Tin Can Knits pattern (some are free) to knit and then your are encouraged to add your own inspiration and create something unique.  Post the result for all to see.  It just started so there is plenty of time to join in.  To top it off they are offering a new pattern called The World's Simplest Mittens which would be a perfect pattern to add your own twist to.  The Hackathon goes until January 17th.

I love Tin Can Knits patterns. I just finished a pair of mitts called Paddle.  Many of their patterns come in many sizes and ranges from mitts, hats, sweaters, shawls...something for everyone. Paddle is a very simple pattern knit in DK yarn, perfect for a last minute gift, and it comes in a variety of sizes.

Pattern:  Paddle (Size medium)
Designer:  Tin Can Knits
Black Yarn:  Madelinetosh Tosh Merino DK
Colourway:  Thunderstorm
Blue Yarn:  Tanis Fiber Arts Green Label
Colourway:  Midnight
Needles:  3.25 mm and 3.75mm



Paddle Mitts by Tin Can Knits


5.  And finally, here's a reason to take a breather and put up your feet and relax, if only for a few minutes. For all you tea lovers,  David's Tea has a wonderful kit called the 24 Days of Tea.  Each day there is a new flavour of tea to try.  If you don't have time to get it, here's another one that you don't open until December 25th.  It looks fun too.


A perfect end to a day


Each drawer has a different flavour of tea


Well that's my list to get you started.  Don't you just love the knitting community?  There are so many generous, kind-hearted, and creative people out there with a passion for yarn.  Have you heard of any Christmas/holiday fun?  Let me know below so I can check it out.  Thanks for stopping by...I appreciate it.

November 27, 2016

Christmas Market and Spree Socks

One of my dreams is to visit the Christmas Markets held in Germany each year. However, with the job I have I am never able to travel in early December.  The closest I can get is the Toronto Christmas Market held annually in the Distillery District.  It is one of the Christmas activities that my family enjoys doing together each year.   I think the best time is to go in the evening to see all the amazing lights.  This year the event seemed better than ever.

every Christmas market needs a fabulous tree










an orange snowman!


a lovely outdoor bar




a forest of pink Christmas trees



And as for knitting this week I needed a diversion.  I ended up digging into my stash and whipping up this crazy pair of socks.  This is a great free pattern for using up the variegated DK or worsted weight yarn in your stash.  It would be a perfect gift since it is a fast knit and creates such a cozy sock to wear on those cold days.

Pattern:  Spree Socks 
Designer:  Kemper Way
Needles:  3.25mm and 3.5mm
Yarn:  Madelinetosh DK Twist
Colourway:  Electric Rainbow
Notes:  Instead of the 18 rows suggested I knit 25 rows for a bit of a longer sock.



I hope you all had a great week and had time to do something fun for yourself. Cheers!

November 20, 2016

November Inspiration and an F.O.

November can be a challenging month to enjoy.  Once the beautiful leaves blow off the trees, the damp cold settles in, and the longer hours of darkness increase, I often find myself looking for inspiration.  One rainy afternoon I decided to look through some of my photos I took recently and they cheered me up.  I hope you don't mind if I share just a few of my favourite ones with you today:

Peace Fleece:  Marigold
Fibre Optic Yarns Paintbox Gradient
Julie Asselin Piccolo:  Arlequin & Voolenvine Wolke:  Faerie Hair

Hedgehog Fibres Skinny Singles:  Bramble







Of course November is the perfect month for knitting too.  Here is a pair of mittens just off the needles ready to be wrapped up for Christmas.  These mittens, knit in a bulky weight yarn, and knit up very quickly.

Pattern:  Antler Mittens
Designer:  tincanknits
Yarn:  Madelinetosh Chunky in Smokestack
Size:  Adult M
Notes:  This is my first time using Madelinetosh's Chunky yarn and I have to say I quite like it.  The knitted mittens are quiet warm and the variegation in the colourway is beautiful.
Antler Mittens by tincanknits

Now I am debating how much Christmas gift knitting I should do.  I have several bigger projects on the needles that are not intended for gifts.  Do I leave them aside for now and jump into more Christmas knitting?  That is the question of the day : )