Cotton cable comfort

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Weather recently has been yo-yoing between fresh spring and scorching hot summer with very little transition, and so it’s been a little difficult lately to just know what to expect or how to dress from day to day. As such, I’m actually very happy to present to you today a new very versatile addition to my wardrobe, this lovely cozy little cardigan that I’ve made as a test-knit for Beatriz Rubio from sambaknits, that should be published in Miss Babs fall 2020 collection.

The pattern calls for DK weight yarn, and I used Zooey Aran , a 60% cotton and 40% linen yarn from Juniper Moon Farm. Although technically a different yarn weight, it actually feels more like a light worsted yarn to me, and it actually knitted up to gauge almost perfectly so it worked out well. I knit the smallest size, and used almost all of the 5 skeins I had, a whopping total of 972 yards. I made no mods whatsoever, except for knitting 12 rows of collar instead of the 8 rows the pattern called for. I also think that if I had had any more yarn to spare, I would have made the collar even puffier as this design I feel would look simply amazing with a large folded collar.

It was a fairly easy knit, straightforward and well explained with a chart. The pattern is simply knitted and blocked as a big rectangle, then folded and seamed before adding the collar.

The finished cardigan is comfy, warm but still breathable and extremely soft! I know for sure that I will be wearing this a lot this summer on windy days or chill nights.

As you can imagine, the pattern is not out yet but I will make sure to link my project to the pattern page once it is.

Hope you guys are all safe and well!

Cobra Socks

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Guys, I finally released this week a new sock pattern, may I present to you my Cobra Socks!

They’re cute and funky, fit like a glove and more important than anything they’re one of those fun summer projects you can carry with you just about anywhere!

The pattern is written for toe-up two-at-a-time, and features a german short-row heel as weel as simple mock cables running along the top of the foot and wrapping around the leg.

The pattern is written in 4 different sizes from 7.5″ to 9″ foot circumference and it is worked with sock weight yarn on size 2.5 mm needle. I first came up with this pattern in April using a couple skeins of Manos del Uruguay’s Serena yarn, and I loved them so much I made a second pair in May using Malabrigo Sock yarn to add to my rotation, because I seriously had those socks on my feet all the time! I thought other people might also like this design as much as I did so I decided to write up the pattern, get it tested and then… Voila! It is now out there for all those interested 🙂

Pinky swear

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As the pandemic quarantine continues, I’ve been knitting a lot more recently, actually more than I’ve ever done in the past few years. Which is great, because I feel like I’ve been neglecting my hobbies recently, and by doing so also neglecting myself a little bit.

So far in 2020 (and we’re only 4 months in!), I’ve already knitted 4598 yards in 6 projects, which is more than what I did the entire 2019 year (3473 yards in 6 projects) and already very close to 2018, where I knit 4715 yards in 9 projects. Given that we’re only at the beginning of May and that there’s still no sign of the end of the work from home situation yet, I will more than likely surpass my 2017 stats (which came up to 5481 yards in 7 projects) and may potentially even reach my 2016 numbers by the end of the year, which came up to a wonderfully impressive 10 928 yards in 17 projects. 2015 and 2014 are also very close behind, with 9314 yards in 16 projects and 10 292 yards in 15 projects respectively.

Now numbers don’t tell the whole story though, as I’ve been picking up more hobbies in the past 4 years (namely here spinning, pottery and I’ve also been much more phyisically active and cooking at home more) so it’s totally normal that my knitting numbers now are lower than the ones I had 4 or 5 years ago (and for very good and healthy reasons). But I think it’s also safe to say that I may potentially have not been putting aside as much time for myself as I should have, leading me to experience more stress, anxiety and affecting my overall mental health. I think this time “on pause” as led me to realize this, and hopefully, I will learn from this moving forward. I will try very hard in the future not to neglect myself and my mental health, pinky swear!!!

So without further ado, I would like to show you today a couple of the projects I’ve completed recently, namely here this cute pair of mesh market bags. I used the Ilene Bag pattern from Hannah Mason and knitted them out of 4 skeins of Fibra Natura’s Sea Song cotton yarn in pink and a few grams of plain white unnamed cotton yarn I had in stash.

I worked the bottom of the bag and the mesh section in the pink, then switched a contrasting color for the ribbing and the handle. Each bag used about 1.9 skein of sea song (just about 207 yards) and 100 yards of white for the ribbing and handle, for a grand total of about 307 yards per bag.

I did make a few small changes to the pattern, namely here adding some plain rows before the mesh pattern and some ribbing rows at the end; all the details are on my project page as usual so feel free to check it out there.

So how’s your quarantine going guys? How are you taking care of your mental health? Any tips to share?

The things we love most

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After spending so much time home recently, I came to realize that it’s very easy to establish our own little routines, and get comfort from the small things. One of the things I noticed the past few weeks is that I truly love the handmade pottery pieces I have, and that I keep using them all the time. I even see it on my instagram feed, as most food pictures I post on there also happen to feature some hand made items.

Seeing that, I thought I could present you guys the last pieces I finished in 2019, talk a little bit more about the process and show you the full collections I’ve been using constantly since then.

First off, I think the last time we talked pottery, I told you my favorite part of it was actually applying the glaze, because it was always kind of a surprise how things were really going to turn out. Here’s a very good example of what I mean by that. Left picture is just after applying the glaze, right is the same pieces once out of the kiln.

You can tell it’s the same pieces, but man do they look different! Sometimes you can try to imagine as much as you want, but it’ll turn into something you never expected, especially if it’s a glaze you’ve never used before. Now since I’ve been using the same colour combos for a while now I sort of know what to expect, but I still do get surprises every now and then nonetheless.

The two main “collections” if you will, that I’ve been working on are this classic black and white (my Moody set) and the wavy white and teal (my Ocean set).

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This black set basically starts with an even black base, then the pieces are dipped in white glaze on one side as an overlay. Except for the onces with the interesting texture, they’re pretty much all the same. The two small plates have specks on them, something I tried here (but didn’t quite like in this palette) but exploited a lot more in the second set I made, that I affectionately call my Ocean set.

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Half of those pieces (mostly the bowls) have a gradient-ish exterior and a plain white interior. The other ones (mostly the plates) have a basic white glaze with a bold teal brush stroke and a few specks here and there, reminiscent (to me) of the waves of the ocean.

I love those two sets so much I’ve just been using and washing and reusing them non stop since the holidays, and I really don’t think I will ever stop. They are very close to my heart, and although I do (and will probably continue to) experiment with other colours, just like the yellow ones in the first picture, I think I will definitely keep making pieces to add to these two collections as I go.

Talking about experiments, I tried something fun and different with these 3 pieces right there, as they were meant as a gift. There is some texture to them as I added some stripes on the side, then used a dark blue and green scheme with a lot of splashes of colour.

Overall I’m pretty happy with the result, and I hope the intended recipient will be too!

That’s it for today folks, new post knitting post coming soon 🙂

Cheers!

The Unfinishables

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We all have some of those, right? Well, staying home a lot more recently has given me an opportunity to revisit those, and to put the final stitches on a couple projects I (really) should’ve finished long ago.

First off is this luscious green cardigan I’ve started in October 2017 as a test-knit for the lovely Anne, for her French Kiss cardigan pattern. Now I feel particularly terrible about this one because I’m the type who will not sign up for a test knit unless I know for sure I can finish before the deadline. As luck would have it though, many unexpected things happened during that time frame that prevented me from completing the test. I felt horrible and apologized profusely, but after the pattern was published I didn’t feel as much pressure to finish the project so I just left it there and forgot about it. I’m so happy (and relieved) it is finally done, and right on time too – the colour and the yarn are perfect for spring / summer.

I used about 6 and a half skeins of Nettle Grove yarn from Plymouth Yarn in the colour “Mermaid”. This yarn is an interesting cotton, linen, silk and nettle mix, and although I’m not a huge fan, I gotta say that the final washed fabric is actually pretty soft and has very good stitch definition. I pretty much followed pattern instructions exactly, all the details are on my Ravelry project page.

Second project I want to show you guys is my second iteration of the Dessine-Moi Un Mouton sweater by La Maison Rililie that I had started in December 2018. It’s no secret that I love this design, I’ve used it before to make my Spilled Wine sweater (and made quite a fuss about it), and I seem to always gravitate towards this design to showcase something special. First time was a gradient yarn set from Wonderland Yarns, and now this time it’s one of my very first handspun yarn, that I had attempted to use for a BlueSand Cardigan before but ended up frogging (the unsuccessful attempt is still documented here).

Just like the first time I made this sweater, I’m using a staple yarn for me, Cascade’s Heritage Solids yarn, but this time I went for charcoal grey. I also again worked on a modified gauge (since I’m using fingering weight yarn), though this time I made this sweater one size smaller, since I’ve lost a lot of weight since I made the first iteration of this sweater.

Overall, I am just SO happy at how this one turned out, and I really cannot wait to wear it!! It’s fun, it’s playful, it’s comfy and more than anything, it’s not on a needle anymore. As usual the details on yardage and mods are available on my project page so feel free to check it out 🙂

Cheers!

Pandemic knitting (& life update)

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Happy lovely spring to all you guys, from my couch as I self-isolate through this COVID-19 pandemic! I know a lot of us are feeling stressed, lonely, worried about health, job, financial situation, and all of that both for ourselves and our loved ones. But let’s just keep being positive, following Public Health guidelines and work our way through this one stitch at a time!

As a quick personal update, I’m sorry for being so notably absent again from the blog as I have been quite busy the past few months. The holidays passed in a breeze, and come January I started a new job that has been proving to be a bit challenging to adapt to. You may remember I had been working for many years as a city planner for a small town in central Quebec, well the new job isn’t only at a different government level but also in a different province and in a different language than my own. The learning curve has been incredibly steep, and it has taken me a lot of time and energy to acclimate to the new job and the new work environment so I have been doing not much aside from working, driving and trying to catch up on sleep. It is an incredibly interesting and challenging job and I am so glad I made the jump, although it was a little bit of a leap of faith, I’m telling you.

All that to say, the work from home situation I’ve been placed in since a couple weeks ago has actually been beneficial to my mental and physical health as the work has slightly slowed down and I’ve had more time to focus on myself, my needs and my wellbeing. I’ve been cooking more healthy meals for myself, exercising more regularly, sleeping better and also picked back up my long neglected hobbies. Although it is a bit lonely at times with the social distancing measures put in place, I really have nothing to complain about – I still have a job, still getting paid, still have everything I need and (more than anything) I am healthy.

Amidst all of this craziness, one thing I can say for sure though is that my time at home has been spent in good company with very cuddly kitties, many cups of warm delicious tea and cozy knitting breaks on the couch, which has resulted in me knitting up a brand new sweater in barely over a week. This new addition to my wardrobe is the Raindrops pattern from tincanknits, a pattern I’ve been wanting to knit for the longest time but just simply never got around to it. I knit this in size M using size 3.5mm needle instead of the recommended 3.25mm (as I’m kind of a tight knitter) and also changed up the cuff and bottom edge, to go for a split front/back with seed stitch border that would better suit my silhouette.

The yarn I used is Fiore from Nako, a yarn company I had never heard of before. It’s a 40% bamboo, 35% cotton and 15% linen yarn that is soft, supple and offers great stitch definition. It does tend to split a bit so you gotta be a little careful when knitting, but I gotta say it’s been a charm to work with, and as I tend to feel more comfortable wearing natural cotton and linen fibres per wool, it’s just perfect for me.

Overall, I’m super happy about how this turned out, and altough I’ve worn it a couple times inside the house, I really can’t wait for this quarantine thing to be over so I can show it off to the outside world.

I hope this short post has provided you a little bit of entertainment, and if any one of you is in need of anything (even if just someone to talk to) please feel free to reach out. Through these trying times, it is all the more important to care about one another and be an active (though distant) part of our close-knit communities.

Cheers!

Wheeling away

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Fall is slowly settling in here in the Great White North, the temperatures have been dropping (though this week has been kind of warm) and the leaves have turned deep and saturated shades of purple, red and orange everywhere you look. It’s great and bright and crisp and sweater weather is just around the corner; needless to say that I’m in a good mood.

And as I am just starting my third pottery session at the studio Terramiel, I wanted to show you guys what I’ve been working on on that front. Throughout the past year, I’ve come to develop a deep love for pottery, and although I’m nowhere near good enough just yet, I’m slowly but surely making progress.

While most of my first pieces were blue or blue and white, I have since then opted for a couple different color schemes. I made quite a few black pieces dipped in white and a few white and teal pieces, some of them in a gradient-ish glaze and some of them sporting a bolt brush stroke and a few playful specks of teal over the surface.

I like applying the glaze because it’s always a little bit unclear/uncertain what the final result will look like. This element of surprise is something that I am quite fond of, and that’s probably why it’s also my favorite part of the process.

As you may have noticed, some of the black and white pieces have a bit of a different texture than what you would expect from a dipped piece, and that very well captures the uncertainty I’m talking about.

Those pieces were glazed the exact same way I glazed my other black and white pieces, but the firing process went a bit differently. They were put in the kiln by my pottery teacher, but she set it at the wrong temperature. She noticed about 6 hours in and stopped it, then restarted it at the right temperature, but the change made the glaze react a bit differently and it created clumps and bumps here and there on the surface where the pieces were dipped and the glaze was thicker. Though those pieces ended up looking nothing like what I expected, I think it’s such a happy accident because I love how they look and feel.

I am working on some more pieces, and will have more to share in the next couple months, but that’s it for now – and that’s fine, because it’ll give me time to rearrange my (overflowing) cabinets to make more room for the new pieces to come.

Cheers!

Third time’s the charm?

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Or not. But then again, maybe. I just recently finished my third Askews Me Dickey from Stephen West, and although it definitely is my favorite one of the bunch, it is also the one that looks the least like what I was expecting it to? Just hear me out here.

Askews me Dickey is a DK weight brioche cowl pattern worked on 4.5mm needles. It is a very structured cowl with a long slanted neck and a very wide yoke. Here’s a picture of the two first cowls I made using this pattern, and you will immediately see what I mean by “structured”.

The two times I made this cowl in the past, it was always a black yarn in the background and a red or a purple-ish color on top, and both times the cowl turned out nice and firm, stretchy and comfy but slightly too large around my neck/face.

Be that as it may, I wasn’t planning on making a third one of this, because I don’t wear cowls all that often (and I just finished the lissome cowl that I’m very much looking forward to wearing), but while I was going through my box of leftovers for another project, I found a couple balls of leftover Eucalyptus yarn from Mary Maxim.

Most of you probably have no idea what that yarn is because it’s been discontinued for a while and I really don’t think it was all that popular, but I have used it twice in the past for a shawl and a cowl (made respectively in the gray & the natural color). For those who have never seen it, it’s an insanely soft and luscious yarn composed of 50% acrylic and 50% viloft, a natural fiber made from Eucalyptus. The yarn is super soft and pliable, it behaves a little bit like bamboo with a nice stretch but has a much heavier weight to it which makes it feel much more decadent. Honestly, I can’t even find the words to describe it – that’s just how much I love this yarn. Anyways, you can probably imagine that when I saw I had some of this leftover in two colors, I just HAD to find something to do with it, and since I had very little of both colors, I thought it’d be a great fit for a brioche cowl.

Obviously this yarn is much finer that what the pattern calls for, being a sport weight yarn rather than a DK. But knowing the cowl turned out a tad too large both times I’ve made it in the past, I thought it’d be perfect with this and a smaller needle. I settled on a 4mm, and looking back I probably should’ve went down to a 3.75 or 3.5mm needle.

Either way I knitted this up in just a few days since it is such a quick knit, but as I went, I realized that the very soft and pliable yarn was not responding very well to the structure of the cowl. I still finished it though, figuring that it might turn out ok once I had the yoke completed, but it really didn’t give any more body to this cowl. I looked at the finished product in dismay, I stuffed it in a bag and let it sit there for a few days before I came around to it. You see, I had so many expectations for this cowl and it just didn’t turn out the way I thought it would so I felt a bit sad, disappointed and apprehensive of how it would look like on me.

When I finally did try it on though, I realized that I liked this cowl all the same, and that it was OK that it didn’t turn out the way I thought it would. Lesson learned. Sometimes, life has a different plan for you. What do you guys think? Have you ever put time and effort in a project only to realize it didn’t become what you had envisioned? Did you get disappointed? Were you able to come around? Let me know!

And as always, if you’re interested in the cowl, feel free to check out my project page on Ravelry.

Cheers guys!

Autumn Vamping

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I just recently finished my own version of Jennifer Dassau’s Vamping shawl pattern, a very popular choice among knitters for gradient yarns, and I am very pleased to report that it is just as wonderful of a pattern as people make it out to be. I mean, look at those sexy lines!

Now you see I’ve had this gorgeous 100% merino gradient yarn from The Blue Brick in my stash for a few years, over 3 I think, and I wasn’t really sure what to do with it. This yarn base called “Manitoulin Merino” (discontinued now – and the colorway, which was called “rose”, has also been discontinued since I think) is just insanely soft and pliable, but it is a single, and as such tends to be quite fragile so I wanted to keep it for something delicate that wouldn’t be subjected to too much wear.

As such, a shawl was very well suited, but I couldn’t for the life of me choose which pattern I wanted to make with it. I’ve already made an Iron Maiden, a Glitz at the Ritz, a couple Sunwalker from Melanie Berg, I’ve also made a Bosc Pear and most recently a Winterlight that would all have been very well suited for a gradient yarn and which I have all loved knitting. But I guess I just really wanted to try something new, ideally a different type of structure that would be a bit different from the traditional half circle or triangular shawls; something with a different architecture that would present the gradient in a different and original way.

And Jennifer Dassau’s Vamping is just that. The structure is interesting with central decreases instead of being at the beginning or the end, and it creates sort of a “V” pattern that is very fresh (at least in my mind) compared to so many other patterns out there. So I gave it a shot, and I am very pleased to report that the result is simply stunning. The pattern is very simple, but it does require to pay attention at least a little bit on the couple lace rows, which I have to admit I did not do. Consequently, I messed up in a couple places here and there, but the pattern is very forgiving and I don’t think it shows too much (I never ever use life line, and couldn’t be bothered to frog and fix it, so yea ^^). As always, all the details are on my project page so you can go check them out there.

All in all, I would most certainly make this pattern again, as I think it would be a great way to feature any gradient or handspun yarn you cherish.

Cheers 🙂

Cushion and chair cover galore

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Hey guys! Recently I’ve been a bit tied up with the house, with multiple projects going on and many ideas brewing so this week I have a few more home dec projects to share! Now I hadn’t made cushions covers in such a long time, probably years in fact, so I felt like it was time to finally make some new ones – especially now that I have a beautiful wooden bench around my dining room table to dress up.

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And while I was at it, why not make a couple more to replace the old ones in the living room, move the furniture around, sew a new chair cover, paint & reupholster my old bench and paint the backsplash in the kitchen (because it’s the same paint, you know…)? Ok, I admit it – I might have gone a tad bit overboard with the house stuff. But it looks absolutely gorgeous so I have absolutely no regrets! And with the new furniture now in, my dining room finally looks complete. Yes!!

All the fabrics I used for the cushions were 100% cotton, the chair cover is (I think) a linen or linen blend and the back of seems like a dark teal polyester/ nylon mix of sorts. The bench was reupholstered using some beautiful textured purple velvet I found for cheap at a local fabric store. So very happy to see it all come together!

Is it just me or if it feels like recently my blog has been turning into a design show? Next post, I promise, it will be all knitting and fiber and things!

Until then, cheers 🙂