New craft!

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Hey guys! Last fall, I decided I needed something new in my live and decided to try my hand at a different craft. I didn’t really think about it too much, an opportunity just sort of opened up and I took it, and MANNN am I happy I did?

What’s this craft, you say? Well… I decided to take up pottery, and I’m in love!

I’ve done all kinds of stuff back when I was in college studying visual arts, I tried painting, sculpting, digital art, etc. but I never had a chance to try pottery. So when I heard there was a spot open at a nearby pottery studio, I jumped on the occasion and have been going there every Tuesday night since.

Now, I’m definitely very new to this and I’m not very good at it yet so there is most certainly room for improvement, but I very much enjoy it! I still struggle to make pieces that are straight and even, and sometimes even struggle trying to get them centered on the wheel, but I’m learning and having fun­ every time.

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All but one of the pieces you can see on this picture were made with the help and coaching of Annik, from the studio Terramiel. She has been nothing but patient with me, she is very nice and welcoming and the other girls in class are all super fun and chatty.

Given my limited abilities, most of what I’ve been making so far is bowls of various shapes and sizes, a couple plates, few little tea cups and small yarn bowl. Although pretty small, the yarn bowl is actually the perfect size for small 50g balls of yarn so it’s quite perfect for socks or delicate lace projects 🙂

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There’s one piece though that differs from the rest, and that would be this white bowl :

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This bowl was shaped with the coiling technique rather than on a pottery wheel like the others, and the reason for that is that this one was actually made in Japan, at a little pottery studio called Ginza Craft Yeeyo, where I followed an introduction class to pottery with the lovely Maiko. I made this piece while I was in Japan around Halloween. I found the class on AirBnb “experiences”, and I found it very fun and interesting!

First, we were served delicious tea and traditional Japanese sweets, all the teacher passed around sheets of instructions that were written down in English with pictures. There was an interpreter present there to translate the teachers’s explanations regarding the process so that we could understand. We had to choose between 3 different types of clay, a light beige one, a red one (traditional in Japan) and a black one (that is a bit drier and harder to work with. I decided to go for traditional red clay with a white glaze on top.

Now if you’ve ever done pottery at all, you could probably guess that we did not apply the glaze ourselves during class, as the pieces were obviously not dry. After the class, the teacher fired the pieces and got them glazed following our wishes (we had to draw a little picture of what we wanted and indicate the color), then got them shipped to each student. I got mine in January, and I’ve been using it ever since 🙂

What about you guys, what have you been up to?

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Longing for spring

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While the weather lately here has been oscillating on wide cycles ranging from rain and freezing rain to heavy snow and extreme cold, I’ve just been busy trying to get back into an exercise routine, chipping ice off the patio steps and finishing up some projects, all the while wishing spring was here already.

And the project I’m going to show you today is just that: the sincere, deep and heartfelt expression of me looking forward to end of winter.

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I started this project late in November as a test knit for the lovely Beatriz from SambaKnits and it’s bright, it’s light, it’s airy, it’s leafy; all things spring that I so wish to see. The pattern is yet to be published, but once it is, it will be linked to my Ravelry Project Page. The pattern, that offers both written & charted instructions, is well designed, clear and easy to understand. The design is very elegant with asymmetrical lace sections sprouting from opposite corners of the wrap, and although some things I would have done differently, the pattern is built in a way that is easy to alter if you wish to change the width, the length, or alter the lace increases or decreases.

The yarn I used is Malabrigo’s Silkpaca in the “pollen” colorway. It’s a lace weight yarn, and I must say that I don’t particularly like working with lace weight yarns since they are so thin and so flimsy, but this one is especially soft and absolutely stunning so it made it all worth it!

With this shawl done, I still have a couple more projects on the needles that I would like to complete this month, namely here a little chevron lap throw and a second Dessine-Moi Un Mouton so please look forward to it in the next few weeks as I’ll be sharing my progress on both these projects soon.

Cheers! 🙂

Is it spring yet?

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Hey guys! A couple weeks ago I wrapped up and reflected on 2018, and now I think it’s time to kick start 2019! To start the year fresh, I decided to start by “refreshing” my home a bit by sewing a cover for a chair in the living room.

It’s a chair I’ve had for quite a long time, and I really like it. The cats really like it to… Which is kind of a problem. My two adorable feline friends, Cassy and Picasso, have both been climbing on that chair for years and the fabric has gotten quite worn and torn with time. Since the chair has a fairly simple shape, I figured it would be pretty easy to make a cover for it, so I decided to give it a try.

I had bought a very nice, textured ivory fabric for this a couple years back, but since it’s kind of an expensive fabric I wanted to draft a pattern and try it out first, so I opted for a combination of coordinated fabric remnants I had in stash. In other words, the chair cover that I’m showing you right now is basically a “wearable muslin” version of the chair cover that I want to make.

chair cover 01

There’s a couple things on this pattern I’ll have to fix for the actual project (better fit around the curved edge and the seat, length of the velcro strip, etc.) but I’m actually quite happy with the result! It’s clean and fresh and fun and playful, and more than anything it’s very colorful! Doesn’t it just feels like spring? or fall, maybe… Either way, anything but winter (hopefully)…!

I’ve had both of those fabrics for so many years now thought that I don’t quite remember what they are or where I got them from, but what I can tell you is that the floral is most likely a printed polyester woven fabric, and the solid rust one is a (very wide – 120″?) percale, normally intended for bed sheets. And as you can see, the cats already love it! And having an actual cover on the chair also makes cleaning a lot easier for me, as when the chair gets dusty or dirty, I can simply remove it and wash separately.

Either way, muslin or not, I’ll probably keep this chair cover on for a little longer before I make the other one, but with such a pretty motif I will no doubt keep it and use it again if the color scheme of my living room changes or if I move this chair into a different room.

How about you guys, what have you been up to since the beginning of the year?

2018 Wrap-up

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Oh, 2018… What a year! You’ve been full of new challenges and experiences, full of hopes and dreams, and so very, very fulfilling! Although it doesn’t show so much here on the blog (or on my Ravelry page… Yikes!) 2018 has been a very good year to me, both personally and professionally, and it felt good to reflect on it while cozily drinking some hot cocoa by the fire at my in-laws. I lost a lot of weight, made some lifestyle changes, advanced my career and I’ve been working a lot on myself to become a more positive and grounded person. My husband and I have taken a big plunge this year as he finally became a permanent resident here in Canada, and also got his first (french-speaking) job. We’ve had a chance to spend more time together as he settles in his new life, and it allowed us to deepen our relationship in many ways. I was also blessed with the chance to go on two amazing (life changing!) trips to Asia and was fortunate enough to meet many kind and generous people I’m lucky to call friends.

On the blogging & crafting front, I did very little knitting in the first half of 2018 but worked on many sewing projects whereas I’ve been knitting more and sewing less in second half of the year.

2018 projects

All in all, Ravelry told me that I’ve completed 9 projects in 2018, totaling 4715 yards of yarn. That’s 2 more projects than what I did in 2017, although it represents 766 yards less. To that though, I think we can also add the second Solace sock I had to reknit from the previous year to complete the pair, as well as a couple WIPs I’ve been making serious progress on, but simply couldn’t finish before the year end. There’s first a bulky weight chevron lap blanket that’s about 75% done, and a beautiful lace shawl that I’ve been working as a test-knit for the lovely Beatriz Rubio (Sambaknits).

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Doesn’t it look just lovely? I’m about 70% done now, so this project may be the very first you’ll get to see completed on the blog this year – please look forward to it!

For 2019, I wish to simply continue working on the same goals, namely here get fit and eat healthy, be positive and grounded and be kinder to myself and others. There might be some big changes coming my way in 2019, so there might be a lot to share in the upcoming months.

Until then folks, I wish you all the best for 2019. Cheers!

Snowflake

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So many projects, so little time!! Last weekend, I finally finished a sweater that has been on the needles since May 2017 (ahem!..) and I’m so happy it finally came together! Not only is it another project I can check off the WIP list, but it’s also a really pretty and cozy sweater,  right on time for the cold season.

The pattern is (of course!) Tin Can Knits’s beautiful Snowflake, and the yarn is some Berroco Folio yarn I had in stash in color “Raspberry coulis” and “tan”. Since I had only a couple skeins of each, I decided on a striped version of the sweater to maximize the use of every yard. I ended up using all but 3 grams of the tan and 13 grams of the purple. As always, all the details on the yardage, striping sequence and mods can be found on my project page so take a look at them there if you’re interested!

Now this is my second snowflake sweater, but I haven’t been able to wear the first one that I made 4 years ago at all recently because I’ve lost a lot of weight and the bottom half of the body has been incredibly loose and shapeless. I’m very happy to have this model on my sweater rotation again, but I’ll definitely have to do something about the older one at some point this winter.

I think it should be an easy fix, since I could probably just pick up stitches around the waist where it still fits, frog the bottom half and re-knit it with less hip increases (or none at all). Whatever I do, I’ll make sure to keep you posted on my sweater surgery, so wish me luck!

Now if you don’t mind I’ll go back to my needles, because I definitely got some catching up to do before the year is over!

Cheers 🙂

Sock weather (& fixing up mistakes!)

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Yep, winter is here! In Quebec at least. In the last couple weeks here, we’ve been hit with very heavy snow falls wrecking havoc across town and causing major power outages in the area, and just like that winter rolled around a whole month in advance.

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All this white fluffy chaos going on encouraged me to stay warm and cozy (while we had power, at least) on the couch, knitting stuff. Of course, season oblige, I worked on cold weather garments, like socks and scarves and things. I guess I kicked things off with a pair of socks I started on the plain to Taiwan and I’m quite happy at how they turned out.

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I used my own Will you be my Valentine sock pattern but modified it a tad bit to add some 2X2 ribbing under the foot and around the ankle for stability. I like how the colors played out, and I’m still quite satisfied with the look and feel of the German short row heel. I gave this pair away to my pottery teacher, hope she likes them!

The other things I worked on the last few weeks though, I must say, were more about clearing WIPs from my craft room and fixing things that needed fixing… You’ll understand what I mean here in a minute.

The second pair of socks I completed last week was a pair of Solace socks I had started last year, but encountered a bit of a problem with. Now don’t get me wrong, Vanessa’s pattern is perfect in every way (as her patterns always are!) but I worked the first sock on size 2.5 mm needle (as per pattern), but mistakenly worked the second sock on size 2.25 mm needle, resulting in a totally different size sock. Oopsie much?

You may imagine my dismay when I noticed this little mishap, I was quite disheartened with the whole thing. So much so that the socks slumbered at the bottom of a bag for more than a year before I finally decided to fix it. Since the sock that actually fit better on me was the 2.25mm needle, I ended up frogging the larger sock, an reknit it again on size 2.25 mm needle to get a matching pair. All in all though, I think it worked out wonderfully – what do you guys think?

Solace socks

Lastly, I worked up a very simple double-sided broken rib scarf with a few skeins of Debbie Bliss’s Andes yarn I’ve had in stash forever. The thing with this yarn though is that I bought it in an off-white color that I afterwards decided I wasn’t too fond of, and tried to dye it. Unfortunately for me, Things didn’t work out as well as I thought they would, and I ended up with a very spotty minty yarn that I was even less a fan of. I tried using it for a couple different projects, but nothing would really work out and I ended up frogging many attempts. Now, since this yarn is a very soft and pliable single, it doesn’t like frogging too too much. Consequently, I ended up damaging the yarn, loosing quite a bit of it in the process and still didn’t have any idea what to do with it.

After much pondering, I decided that simple was best, and ended up working a narrow very simple scarf that I would over-dye afterwards, to mask my unsightly early attempts at dyeing. Here’s a before shot, just so you know what I was working with.

Scrunchable scarf before

Now all the details are as always on my project page, but I ended up doing a dip-dye gradient using some Wilton’s food colouring in the “sky blue” and “black” hues. The blue and black mixture broke down a bit and made a few small splotches of pink here and there, but I think the experiment was mostly successful, and I am very (VERY!!) happy with the result.

Scrunchable scarf

What do you guys think? Yay? Or nay?

The travel bug

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As promised in my last post, I wanted to take a moment today to update you guys on my most recent adventures. As some of you might know, I just recently came back from an amazing trip out to Asia (again). I spent a whole week in Taiwan then a short 5 days in Tokyo and I had so much fun guys, this whole trip was insane!  Although I most certainly hate flying, the 20 hour trip there and back was absolutely worth it, as everywhere I went I  was fortunate enough to meet a mixture of old and new and friends who were kind enough to make me discover their area.

I cannot be thankful enough to all the kind people I met, and I can’t express just how grateful I am that they went out of their way to spend time with me, even if just for a little bit.

The first thanks goes to Fion-san, with whom I explored Taipei’s night markets, visited Ruifang, Jiufen and the cat village and tried my hand at painting kanjis on a giant paper lantern. You are such a kind soul! Thank you for helping me with the trains!

I also want to thank Mina, whom I met in Tokyo last spring, who drove me around Taichung on her scooter. Going around museums and markets with you was much fun!

A big thank you is also in order to my good friend Vincent,  with whom I rode a bike in the chaotic Taiwan traffic to the Chisingtan beach, had meaningful conversations on the world and society and explored Hualien’s night market (I feel I’m still soaked from all that rain!!! 😂)

The warmest thanks goes to Joana, who was kind enough to invite me out to eat with a bunch of her friends from around the world (Hi everyone!) and  with whom I experienced the craziness of Halloween in Shibuya. INSANITY!!!!

And finally thank you to Amano-san and Kuma-chan, who allowed me to taste delicious food and drinks and with whom I was blessed to see Tokyo Station and the breathtaking view of the city at night from above (42th floor, no less!). I appreciate all the laughs and the conversations, and I am thankful for your time and warm welcome.

Exploring Taiwan and Tokyo on my own was a lot of fun, I shopped around, rode trains, got my nails done, went for couple hikes, got a tattoo done (!), ate SO MUCH FOOD, and enjoyed a sunny day out in Asakusa before coming back home to Quebec.

Of course, I went fabric shopping but I’ll leave that up for another post.

Until next time, everyone XXX