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 🙂

Knitting, painting and other summer things

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Except for a couple rainy days here and there, the weather here this summer has been just wonderful; warm and sunny during the day and usually pretty cool at night. I have been taking advantage of the great weather to go for walks and enjoy the outdoors, but it hasn’t prevented me from making quite a bit of progress on other more “indoorsy” projects that I have been working on recently.

First off, I want to show you guys the Lissome cowl I just finished using a handspun I made just about 5 years ago during the tour de fleece. It’s a 100% merino salmon pink-ish barber pole yarn in a sports-ish weight. At first I really wasn’t sure how this was going to knit up, but I think it turned out beautiful on this gorgeously well structured cowl.

Lissome

Susan Pandorf is a genius for having designed such a wonderful pattern! It is simple, yet impressively well thought and well written. The first 4 rows were a bit counter-intuitive for me so I had to pay more attention working those, but once I got used to it, this cowl just knits up like a breeze! The texture is absolutely amazing and the finished cowl is delicate enough yet not too lacy – a great balance!

I used all but two yards of the two skeins I had, and was able to work up 14 repeats of the main body. The finished cowl was blocked at about 10” high and 25” long folded, so 50” circumference in total. As usual, all the details can be found on my project page so you can go check it out there.

While this cowl was under construction, I was also lucky enough to have a little photo session with the lovely Emily from Cyclopes photographie. See, I needed a professional portrait done and she does stock photography, so we agreed on an exchange – she would do my portrait for free if I agreed to be used as a model for some stock images. Now I have a lot of hobbies so I had a fun time trying to decide which one I wanted to feature for the stock pictures, but I opted for spinning, knitting and yoga.

As you can see, the pictures turned out simply amazing, I just have no words.

And in other news, I also spent some time last weekend painting an accent wall in my dining room. It took a little bit longer than I expected, but as you can see it was well worth every minute!

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That’s all for now folks, wish you all a great week  🙂

Tour de fleece-ing (ish)

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As many spinners do every year in July, last month I bust out my spinning wheel to spin along the cyclists of the Tour de France, which was held July 6-28th. I gotta say that with the move and everything that’s going on in my life right now, I didn’t set any expectations to put out a good production, I was really just looking forward to spending a bit of time on a different activity for a little while, no pressure. And I’m happy to report that I did just that!

I set out the spinning wheel in the living room and putted at it every few days while watching the new season of Queer eye. Bliss!

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All in all, I was able to spin about 5-ish oz. I spun (and plied) a Manos del Uruguay pink and purple 100g merino roving into a cute chain plied sport weight yarn, very soft and springy.

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I also started spinning a green 4 oz merino-silk roving from Ashland Bay, But since I’m only about a quarter of the way through I decided to keep the spinning wheel out and I’ll keep on working on it here and there throughout the summer, and hopefully have another handspun to show you this fall.

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To stay in the spinning spirit, I also started working on a cowl using my Flamboyant Flamingo handspun yarn, made during the tour de fleece a good 5 years ago. I wasn’t sure at first how it was going to turn out since the yarn is a 2-ply barber pole and quite think and thin since I still was pretty new to spinning, but it’s actually turning out pretty well with the structure of this wonderful cowl pattern. I will give a more through review of the Lissome pattern once I’m done, but let’s just say that I am really (REALLY) loving this design from Susan Pandorf.

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Out of season?

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Ok, so the new house thing is getting under control (ish). Work is still insane (as always). The tour de Fleece is in full swing (yay!). And as any sane human being would do in the middle of sultry July, I just put the last stitches on bulky weight yarn wool blanket? (Ok, maybe not.) No matter how odd (and out of season) it sounds, I am still very happy to have finally finished this little blanket that I started back in December. Heck, I have so many unfinished projects sleeping away in a bag somewhere that completing anything at all actually feels great (instant-ish gratification?)! Why the hell do I start so many projects but struggle to finish anything at all?

Anyways without further ado, here’s the breakdown for this little cutie here.

Spruce Blanket

This little 34″X 36″ blanket was made without a pattern, it’s simple enough to do but if you’re interested in making one for yourself I detailed all the instructions on my Ravelry project page. To make this, I used 5 full skeins (713 yards) of Aslan Trends’s Guanaco, which is a 60% Alpaca/ 40% Merino wool bulky weight yarn. I’ve had this in my stash since 2013 (no joke!!!) but I couldn’t find the right project to make with it. There was too much for a scarf, not enough for a full size throw, probably enough for a short sleeve sweater but the bulky yarn wouldn’t be a good fit for it, plus I thought the yarn was kind of scratchy so I didn’t want to actually wear it. So after much pondering (or just a fuck it moment) I opted for a small lap throw (the size of a baby blanket) to cover my legs/knees when I crash on the couch to watch TV. BOOM, problem solved!

Now let’s just wait half a year until I finally get to use it…??