And sometimes, magic happens!

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For the longest time, I’ve been wanting to make a project using some of the handspun yarns I have. I’ve been spinning for a couple years now and during this time I’ve made several yummy handspun additions to my stash.

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I must confess though that aside from my unsuccessful BlueSand Cardigan attempt currently wasting away in the slumber pile, I had yet to finish a project using any of those gorgeous handspuns, and I thought it was such a shame! But earlier this week, inspiration stroke as I was going through my friend’s activity feed on Ravelry, and noticed someone had made an Arika Cowl. The pattern immediately piqued my interest because I thought it would be a perfect match for my Cheshire Cat purple handspun; it was the right yarn weight and yardage combined with a fun and unusual construction for a cowl, with an amazing fringe as a bonus.

I got so excited that I immediately bought the pattern and cast-on on Monday. Tuesday, the body was done, and I still had a full skein left so I thought I could make a matching hat. Since I had decided at that point to make the cowl with buttons instead of a seam, I quickly went around the pattern database looking for a hat pattern with a button in about the same yarn weight, and found the (free!) Moss Stitch Hat pattern from Erin Anton. Just perfect!

And following this streak of sudden inspiration, magic happened…

FotorCreated

Repetition kills… Creativity

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Last Christmas I made a white pompom version of the Star Anise hat for my brother’s girlfriend Virginie, and my step mom Carole was so enthralled with it that she asked me to make her the SAME hat in the SAME color. Hm.

Now I must say I love making knit garments for my loved ones, but never have I been asked to make the EXACT same thing twice (in a row!). As much as I wanted to please her, after receiving that request I just couldn’t bring myself to start anything and kept dreaming of hundreds of hats or patterns or projects that have been on my mind for a while, and how much fun they would be to try.

So after a little pondering, I decided to follow my heart and cast on a hat – not a Star Anise hat, and certainly not white – I opted for a soft pink, slightly slouchy version of the Tiima hat by the lovely Lilja Palmgren. And you know what? I’m in love.

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To make it more personal, I changed the border a bit from the original pattern, ditched the (time consuming) beads and the ribbon and added a pompom. I used Jade Sapphire’s Silk/Cashmere 2-ply yarn in color “Pinksicle” and I LOVED every stitch of it. It is perfectly soft, fluffy & yummy, the only downside is that it’s a very fragile yarn that tends to break easily – so be careful when working with it.

The hat turned out much bigger and slouchier than I was expecting looking at the pattern pictures (this is partly my fault for using larger needles for the main body), but as it turns out, I LOVE this version – and most importantly, my step mother does, too.

I think sometimes, people think they know what they want but their decision is only based on partial knowledge – because they simply don’t know what ELSE is out there, and how much better for them something else would be.

I chose a white Star Anise hat for Virginie because I thought it would be perfect for her, and I chose a pink Tiima hat for Carole because I knew it would fit her perfectly – and I think it’s good once in a while to take a guess and follow your instinct, because sometimes that’s the best way to find THE present that your loved ones will go crazy for.

Happiness is a simple thing

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I just finished the new sample for my feather and fan lace sweater pattern that is currently being tested, and I am SOOOO happy at how it turned out! It feels breezy, sunny, fun and perfect for spring. Awesomeness! I still have a few things to fix here and there before the pattern can be released, but I’m shooting for mid-February to early March. Things are moving so fast!

Feather and Fan lace Sweater

2015 in numbers

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2015 came to an end, which means it’s time for me to look back on what I accomplished and set new goals for the year to come.

2015

In 2015, I used 9372 yards of yarn in a total of 17 projects. Out of those 17 projects, 16 were knitted, 1 was crocheted and 0 were woven.

These numbers are telling me that I used 8.9% less yardage than last year, but I’m still satisfied by my performance since I made more project (17 compared to 16) and that most of them were knitted (16 compared to 11); and as most of you know, knitted items generally tend to use less yarn and more time than crocheted ones.

Now let’s review the resolutions I posted here last year and assess whether or not I was able to achieve my goals in 2015. Drumroll….

  1. I want to learn how to relax more.
    This one is a work in progress, and although I think I was able to make some time for myself this year, I think I still need to make a few more changes in my everyday life to make it more zen.
  2. I want to start less and finish more.
    Ok, maybe I didn’t ACE this one, but I think I did a pretty good job. I still have 3 WIPs on the needles and a couple projects hibernating in my closet, but at least I was able to go through my WIPs, frog the ones I knew wouldn’t go anywhere and concentrated my efforts in projects I was actually interested in and finished them. In my book, that’s a good thing, so I call this one a success.
  3. I want to knit from stash.
    Last year I promised myself I would try to knit from stash as much as possible, and buy yarn only for specific projects I didn’t already have suitable yarn for. Hm. Let’s look at the numbers and see. This year, 51 skeins (12 209 yards) were added to my stash. Thrown out just like that, it’s 8 skeins (2837 yards) more than what I actually used in the entire year, but let’s break it down and see what the REAL damage is. Out of those 51 skeins added to my stash, 7 of them (1736 yards) were gifted to me. Let’s be real, although I didn’t want to buy yarn, I certainly won’t turn it down if it’s offered to me for free – so those shouldn’t be counted. To that number, we also have to subtract 35 skeins (7018 yards) that I bought for specific projects that were started or even completed in 2015, which I was allowing myself to do so that’s also all good. Considering all that, the damage really isn’t that bad. Turns out I bought only 9 skeins (3455 yards) of yarn “just because”, which is a definite improvement compared to the 64 skeins (15076 yards) of yarn I bought in 2014 that are still collecting dust in my stash. Although it doesn’t look that way at first, I think I think I did a pretty good job on this resolution this year, and I definitely want to keep it going in 2016. I also want to add an additional challenge, and try to USE more yarn than I actually BUY/GET. Wish me luck!
  4. I want to weave more.
    Ok, this one I miserably failed. I did buy some more weaving yarn, but I failed to use my loom even once this year. Why? I think I simply had to much to think about considering I wrote 2 new designs, made most of my Christmas presents and renovated 2 rooms in the house. A failure is not the end of the world though, and I will give this resolution a second chance in 2016.
  5. I want to keep this blog going. 
    Well, this one I sure did. I’m still here! And let’s hope it will continue in 2016, because I really enjoy sharing my little stories with you guys!
  6. I want to publish more designs.
    In 2015, I DID publish my Sea Breeze Sweater pattern, and I have another sweater pattern currently being tested and a basic headband pattern all written out, ready to be tested. Yes!

Looking back, I guess I didn’t have a “perfect” craft year since I couldn’t achieve all the goals I set myself in the beginning of the year, but I feel very satisfied and accomplished, and I think that’s what matters the most.  So cheers to the new year! :)

Oh, and I can also now safely post the last few projects I made in 2015 that were meant to be gifted on Christmas. Exciting!

There’s my mom’s Casu Cowl
Casu Cowl

My brother’s girlfriend’s Anise Hat
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And my sister-in-law’s infinity scarf, no pattern used – but maybe another design coming? Who knows!
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And you guys, what’s your 2015 recap? Any resolutions for the new year?

Testers wanted!

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Hey guys!

I just recently opened a test-knit for my feather & fan sweater pattern, if you are interested head over to this thread in the Ravelry Forums, there’s still a few spots open ! Here’s a short description of the requirements.

first-sweater

This sweater in worked top down and in the round using a DK weight bamboo yarn. It has a lace pattern on both sleeves and the front, and a progressive rib from the waist down. Please note that since bamboo tends to grow a lot when worn, I wrote the pattern with 2” negative allowance. If you plan on using a yarn that’s a little less forgiving, you might want to size up a little.

This test is scheduled to start on January 1st, 2016.

Deadline: February 15, 2016, for a release on March 1st.

SIZES:
S (30”) for 32” bust, M (34”) for 36” bust, L (38”) for 40” bust.

GAUGE:
20 sts & 8 rows for a 4” square on size 6 (4 mm) needle in stockinette st

TECHNIQUES USED:
This pattern is pretty easy, you need to know how to Knit, purl, SSK, K2tog, YO, M1L & M1R. The instructions are written, no charts are provided.

Fashion issues

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Today I’ll put the yarn and needles aside to talk to you about something a little more serious. I recently read an article posted by fellow knitter and blogger Lauren, from lollyknits.com on the clothing and fashion industry and I felt like I had a lot to say on the topic, so I decided to post a little something of my own to fully express my views on the subject.

More and more now people present themselves as self-esteem advocates celebrating different women’s body types and shapes, it’s a “trend” that’s catching on rapidly, as we see more people criticizing unrealistic beauty standards presented on television and in magazines. The fashion industry though has been notably undisturbed by it all, sticking to their tried-and-true recipes oriented towards perfect presentation and perfect bodies. Although some companies have decided to accommodate different body types by using a wider range of models, some companies simply refuse to hop the wagon, and continue to ignore the pleas of the public for clothes designed for “real” people.

My take on this is that we can (and should) pressure the fashion industry to make and market clothes that are designed for real women’s bodies, but I think we also have to realize as a society that there is only so much adaptation you can do with mass-produced clothing.

What I mean by that is that there is a lot of different body types in this world. Don’t blindly believe you can only be a “pear shape” or an “hourglass shape” – reality is far more complex than that. Partly due to your genetical baggage, your lifestyle, habits and hobbies, your body can present an astonishing number of features that can vary from one individual to the other. Some are tall, some others are short, some are rounder, or thinner, some others are curvier, some have a long torso and short legs, some others have long legs and a short torso, some have broad shoulders and a long neck, or narrow shoulders but long arms – there’s an infinite amount of possible combinations, and it makes it so that every woman’s body is unique.

With so much variety when it comes to body shapes, how can we expect mass produced garments to fit all of them equally as good? It’s impossible. And this is exactly why so many women struggle to find clothes that fit. There is nothing wrong with your body, there is something wrong with the way we shop for clothes.

I am not an expert on the issue – just a (sometimes unsatisfied) customer who has trouble finding clothes that fit, but I think a lot of other women experience similar issues, which is why I wanted to share my views on the subject and suggest alternatives. I feel there can be a few different ways to solve (or at least minimize) this problem – it’s possible to to have clothes custom made, to continue shopping for generic clothes but tailor them to fit your body, or to make better choices in the clothes you buy and wear/accessorize them in a smarter way.

Not all patterns or alterations are hard or complicated, and sometimes just a little time and patience can eliminate hours of frustration shopping for clothes. You can consult with a professional tailor or seamstress, but you can also try to learn how to crochet, knit, sew or how to make alterations on your clothes yourself. Having a garment that fits will undoubtedly help you regain confidence, and feel more comfortable in your clothes and in your own skin. Please go read this article on Craftsy, talking about the benefits of tailoring and the various classes they offer on the subject.

If nothing here above works for you, I also have advice for the shoppers:

  1. Look for versatile, classic pieces that can be easily matched with different outfits (when you find one thing that fits, wear the heck out of it!);
  2. Choose fabrics that offer a little bit of stretch to better accommodate different body types;
  3. Add accessories to emphasis the things you like about your body (a belt to accentuate a thin waist, gloves for delicate & elegant hands, a scarf to match the color of your eyes, etc.);
  4. Be patient and don’t be afraid to step into stores that are not necessarily “hip” or “trendy” – you might be surprised at what you can find;
  5. If you shop online, try to go to a website that uses real-size models and offer a comment section where people can talk about the shape and the fit of the garments (I personally like to shop at ModCloth), or there’s also some websites who offer tailoring services for a small fee (like eshakti.com) – whichever way, please remember to stay away from any Chinese one-size-fits-all clothing websites.

I sincerely hope this will help some of you, and please feel free to express your opinion or share your experience in the comment box below.

The sweater-dress concoction

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November 30th, perfect day to present you my finished NaKniSweMo 2015 project – my 50 174 sts Laurie.

Laurie dress

I am absolutely thrilled by the final result and I love every stitch of this wonderful dress, but I must admit this was not was I was going for – not the smallest bit. This project was originally supposed to be just another sweater; no more no less, and I have nobody or nothing to blame for the (happy) mistake except for my very own foolishness in thinking I could pick a pattern without checking the number of stitches first, and my sinus infection for not realizing sooner how long this “sweater” was becoming.

For those who don’t know what NaKniSweMo is, let me explain first so you can understand better what my predicament was. NaKniSweMo stands for “National Knit a Sweater in a Month”. It’s basically a month long knit-along (KAL) where the main goal is to start and finish an entire sweater within the month of november. The main criteria for this KAL is that the sweater you pick must be at least 50 000 stitches.

Earlier in November, I decided to participate, choosing Laurie (from Josée Paquin), as my project for the challenge. Even though the sweater was using DK weight yarn, I didn’t bother to check the number of stitches before I started because I thought it’d be fine since it’s kind of an oversized model and I generally like longer sweaters anyways (I have always added length to every single sweater pattern I’ve ever knitted). I cast on and worked about 50% of this sweater, carefully marking my progress as I went, but somewhere around the middle of the month, I got a sinus infection.

I was feeling groggy and out of it, but still tried to make some progress – all I could focus on though was the 50k stitches goal, that was really all I could manage given the sickly state I was in. At one point I stopped working the body, worked one sleeve as a point of reference, then calculated (based on how many stitches I already had and how may stitches both sleeves were going to be) how much longer the body needed to be in order for me to reach 50k stitches. With that knowledge, I kept working on the body again, and again, and again until I finally reached the desired amount of stitches and bound it off around November 19th.

Around that time I started to feel better and my head was finally starting to get out of the clouds, and that’s when I realized just how long my “sweater” has gotten in my sickly slumber. I tried it on and realized the finished piece was going all the way to my knee… *sigh* I had knitted a dress instead of a sweater. Fancy that. I was still very happy with the project though, so I knit the second sleeve then washed and blocked the project and voilà ! A brand new autumn dress, I guess :)