Slice of life

Spring revival

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Ok, 4 months is a long time. I have to admit, I really (REALLY) have been neglecting my blog… But then again I guess I’ve been neglecting a lot of things, because in those 4 months, I haven’t used my spinning wheel or my loom, only used my sewing machine for minor clothing repairs and barely made any progress on the WIPs I’ve had on the needles for months.

There could many different reasons behind this general disinterest I have been experiencing towards both crafting and the blog, but I think it’s mostly a mix of bad case of winter blues and a much needed break after completing such a big (and kind of stressful) project as a wedding dress. Add to that the fact that I also fell back into an old love of mine and picked up a couple good books to read, and there you have it – almost nothing to show for the last 4 months.

Actually, that’s not entirely true either because I DID finish one project since January, and that is the Star Anise hat that I started in December for my sister in law.

Anise hat

I also have a couple sweaters on the needles, namely here the Dessine-moi un mouton I showed you in July last year and the striped Snowflake I started early in January using some Berroco Folio I had in stash in color “tan” and “raspberry coulis”.

In other news, my honeybee and I also spent 4 days visiting Washington DC last month, and we had a blast! Although we were a bit late for the cherry blossoms, we still had a lot of fun visiting parks, memorials and monuments and visiting the US Capitol and the weather was just GORGEOUS the whole time we were there. For those interested, here’s a little photo recap of our fun-filled vacation in DC.

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So that’s it for now folks, and I surely hope next time won’t be in another 4 months! Cheers!

Radio Silence

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Yep, it’s been radio silence here on the blog for almost two months now – I know, it’s totally unacceptable! But as you may have guessed, things have been busy again both at work and at home, and I also couldn’t really post pictures of most of the tings I was working on in the last couple months as they were intended to become Christmas presents, and you know how much I hate spoiling surprises 🙂 As the holidays are now over, I am now pretty excited to show you the result of my hard work AND of my little Christmas shopping spree, but first things first I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year! 🙂

Now, let’s talk knitted presents. For my mom, I made an Iron Maiden shawl using an almost full skein of Tosh Merino light in color “Shire”. The shawl came out pretty big, and my mom was so happy she made a little dance when she unwrapped it 🙂 I made a few small changes to the number of repeats for each section that are detailed on my project page here.

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My brother’s girlfriend received the Call & Response cowl I made over the summer, that you may (or may not) have seen posted on the blog here – it was a wonderful test-knit for Sarah Schira.

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For my step-brother’s girlfriend, I made a Fidra hat using a skein of Katia’s Peru in a very pretty olive green (the actual color looks more like the picture on the left). I am currently working on completing the set by making a pair of wristers that’ll probably appear on a blog within a couple weeks, using the second skein I have of the same yarn.

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Lastly, for my sister in law, I am working on a very purple Star Anise hat to match the infinity scarf I made her last year. I’m hoping to finish it and get it in the mail by mid-January, since I ran out of yarn and couldn’t finish it while we are here in Ohio. I still love the pattern as much as I did when I made one for my brother’s girlfriend last year, but this time I downsized to 2.75 – 3.25 mm needles instead of the recommended 3.25 – 3.5 mm since hers turned out a little bit on the large side. I am using a purple Baby Luv 100% acrylic yarn bought at Walmart in Canada, the very same one I used for her scarf. I don’t usually like to work with acrylic, but it seemed to be the best option here as I wanted both the scarf and the hat to wash easy and not shrink or wrinkle, and my sister in law finds wool to be very itchy so this baby soft acrylic seemed to be the perfect option.

As for me, I guess I have to admit that I was spoiled rotten by my mom in law who offered me a very nice adjustable sewing dressform (more precisely a Dritz Celine Standard Plus) and a yarn store gift certificate, to which a very funny story is attached. Since I didn’t have time this year to make her a little handmade something for Christmas like I usually do, my honeybee and I stopped at a little yarn store when we arrived in Ohio so I could get her a little present and a gift certificate – I thought is was the perfect idea since she also likes to knit and weave. The store we stopped at is Yarn Cravin’, a cute little yarn shop in Perrysburg, OH that I happen to really like shopping at when we’re in the area. Funny thing is, my mom in law actually remembered I had mentionned liking this store, so she had also bought a gift certificate for me for the same store! We laughed so darn hard! Either way, I made good use of my present this week and came back with these little lovelies here:

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There’s 2 skeins of Dream in Color’s Wisp yarn, which is a 2 play lace weight yarn in a 50/50 merino-silk blend, 2 skeins of Berroco’s Folio yarn in color “Raspberry coulis” and 8 skeins of Plymouth’s Nettle Grove yarn in color “Mermaid”, which is a nice sport weight Cotton/linen blend yarn that will be more than perfect for a summer top.

Once we’re back in Quebec, I’ll make some time to prepare my 2016 recap and review the good and the bad shots of the year. Stay tuned! 🙂

Twist Recap

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Last weekend, I went to Twist Festival in St-André-Avelin, QC. For those who have never heard of it, Twist is actually one of the biggest fiber festival in Canada, with more than a hundred vendors, workshops and conferences in both French and English given by masters of their arts from across the country and sometimes beyond. It’s guaranteed to be good fun for every fiber artist, as almost every fiber craft was represented – spinning, weaving, knitting, crocheting, hand dyeing, sewing, quilting, felting; there really was a little something for everybody.

As any obsessive-compulsive knitter would, I made it a point to wear one of my hand knit sweater to the event (namely here my Golden Afternoon sweater) and I got quite a few compliments from total strangers, so that was cool.

I was also able to visit all my favorite kiosques (Pompon, la Julie Factrie, Artfil and The Blue Brick were all there, so lucky!) and I got to meet and chat with a lot of nice people from guilds or businesses I previously didn’t know of, so that was really awesome.

My new crushes:
Doudoulab. Annie creates beautiful rag dolls and plushies from new or recycled fabric and can even customize them for your child. That’s so cute!

Montreal Modern Quilt Guild. I totally didn’t know we had quilt guilds in Quebec. This is awesome, and now that I know they exist, I will make it a point to go see their quilt show (and maybe try to infiltrate their ranks). I also got to chat with Stacy & Betsy from Craft de Ville, who sell online various sewing and quilting and embroidery supplies.

La Vie en Bleu. This cute couple from Guadeloupe had a natural dye kiosque where they sold hand dyed tapestries, bags, scarves and clothes, all using indigo natural dyes and hammered leaf and flower patterns. They don’t currently have workshops, but they do plan on offering some starting in 2017. I really can’t wait!

My purchases:
6 skeins of limited edition 100% silk hand painted yarn from Artfil
4oz of a squishy Zenitude Fiber Arts Merino/Tencel roving from Lonely Oak Alpacas
A gorgeous felted hat with button from Arpents vert Alpaca

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My own creations:
I signed up to a hand dyeing class with the always cheerful Julie Asselin, and as we were all chatting happily we practiced our hand dyeing skills on a silk handkerchief and a skein of her scrumptious Piccolo sock yarn. That’s what I came up with:

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Any of you plan on visiting a fiber festival soon?

Sewing obsession

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Yep, I guess that’s what’s going on. I’ve made 3 dresses in the past couple weeks and I’ve been cataloging, sorting and organizing my fabric, notions and patterns like a mad person so I guess that sounds about right. And you know what started it all? This one little blog post I stumbled upon written by Charity from The Daring Domestic.

Now I know, it’s nothing new… This article was posted a couple years ago, but it’s very new to me. You see, I’ve been looking for a long time for a way to categorize and easily access my ever growing sewing pattern stash without having to go through boxes and boxes of stuff every time. I needed a tool to help me categorize my patterns with pictures and tags to be able to more efficiently find what I’m looking for and know where it is.

The solution Charity suggested was: Evernote.

This is something I honestly never would have thought of on my own and I was a little skeptical at first, but I decided to give it a try since my first few attempts at cataloging my patterns have been utter failures. I checked it out, tried a couple things and Man, oh man! I think this is it. Not only is it free AND accessible from any device anywhere, it’s also got everything I need – tags, pictures, written information and also a shortcut tool to make things even easier. Let me show you what I’m talking about.

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In Evernote, you can create “notebooks”, in which you can add several “notes”. In each note, you can write a title, type in the text you want, add pictures and add specific tags. I created a notebook for every pattern company I own patterns from, then, in each notebook, I created a “note” for each pattern I have, labeling them with the company and the pattern number. In the notes section, I wrote down the size I have, the date of purchase, the price, the difficulty and a short description then added a picture of the front – I will also add a picture of the back when I get a chance to be able to access the yardage requirements on the go. Once my stash will be physically organized and classified in boxes, I will also add the physical location of each pattern (ex. Box B-1).

There’s virtually no limit to the information you can add in there, so one could also use it to write down the mods or changes they made to the pattern, the fabric they plan on using or things they want to remember for the next time they use that pattern.

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Once the patterns are entered and all the appropriate tags entered, you can search through your notes using the tag function, and that’s what’s so cool about this system – let me explain first for the neophytes. Most people I know organize their sewing patterns by type – dresses together, pants together, etc., that way, when you’re looking something you want to make, it’s easier to narrow it down. But a lot of patterns contain more than one garment in them – separates or coordinates can have all in one a skirt, a dress, a pair of pants, a top and a jacket. And since your physical copy of the pattern can only be stored in one place (unless you have many copies of the same), it can’t possibly be in all those categories at once, so you might miss out on it or forget about it altogether. Reversely, it can also be hard to find said pattern if you don’t remember what category you stored it in. By using tags, you can tag a pattern as “coordinates”, but also enter a tag for all the specific garments it contains, like “dress”, “pants” or “jacket”. That way, if you search using the tag “dress”, your coordinates pattern that include a dress will show up with all the other dress patterns in the search results. Now THAT’S what I call efficiency.

There’s also a really nice feature called “Shortcut” that I find pretty neet. Basically, by clicking on a little star in the top corner of a note, you can link it to your shortcut page. It creates a list of the patterns you link, that you can use as a “To Do” list, or a queue if you will. That way, you never loose track of the projects you want to do next, and you can add information into your note regarding the fabric you want to use, the person you want to make it for or the mods you plan on making.

So, how do you guys organize your stuff?

Lovingly yours…

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Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.
– Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights.

Pictures taken on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, 2016 by Jesse Schloff – http://www.jesseschloffphotography.com/

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Liebster award!

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Guys, I have been nominated by the lovely Becca from theknitted.com to the Liebser award. If you are not familiar with it, this award strives to bring light to small blogs and allow bloggers to connect and get to know each other better.

The process is very simple, the person who nominated you will ask 11 questions that you have to answer in a blog entry, then you have to nominate a few other bloggers who deserve a shout out. If you do not already follow Becca’s blog (and you should!), here’s a link to her liebster award’s blog entry.

The questions I received from her are the following:

1. How did you decide on the name of your blog?

Well, my first name is Stephanie, and Effie has been one of my nicknames since high school, so it was just (really) a no-brainer. I didn’t put much thought into it, I just thought it sounded nice and went with it!

2. Describe your blog in 5 words or less!

I hope people find it FUN, COLORFUL, LIGHT and JOYFUL – am I asking too much?

3. What is your favorite knitting technique or style?

Now I don’t really think I have a favorite knitting technique, but I certainly DO have techniques I DON’T like! Although I do sew garments, pillows, drapes and such, I hate sewing knits. So every time it’s possible, I prefer to go for a seamless pattern or alter the pattern to knit it seamlessly rather than going through the seaming process. Call it lazy – I guess it’s somewhat of a pet peeve of mine, but the less finishing I have to do when I finish a project, the better.

4. Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Hm, neither one, actually. I have to admit that I am not fully functional in the morning before 8 or 9, depending on the night I had, but I never really get up past 10. And I can’t go to bed at night before 9 or 10, but then again I can’t stay up until 3 either. So all in all, I’m really neither a morning person nor a night owl, I think I’m more of an afternoon person – and that’s when I’m the most productive. I’d say my most productive hours are between 11 AM and 7 PM.

5. Assuming money wasn’t a problem, what is one thing you would love to do?

I would love to travel the world. I like going places, connecting with people and discover new things. I want to see more, and I want to learn more about the world and I think travelling gives you more than you could ever get from a book or a documentary on a foreign place.

6. What is an item you can’t live without?

As sad as it may sound, my phone. I use it to keep track of my progress on Ravelry, follow knitting patterns on the go, take pictures of my knits, share stories on my blog, etc.and it also helps me keep in touch with my honeybee who lives far away through Skype and text messaging.

7. Who is your favorite knitting designer?

I have a soft spot for the elegant but simple designs of Melanie Berg (Mairlynd). She has the most exquisite shawl patterns, and simple but elegant sweater and cardigan patterns.

8. Do you like learning new knitting techniques?

I LOVE learning new things! I just recently tried working stuff two-at-a-time (like socks and sleeves and stuff) on a magic loop and I love it – it’s such a time saver!

9. What is your big knitting goal of 2016?

I want to knit more from stash and use the yummy handspuns I have. It’s a goal I’ve set myself the past two years, and I think it’s made me realize that yarn is no good sitting on a shelf. I bought it because I loved it, it’s pointless to idolize it from afar and be too scared to use it for something. “Waiting for the perfect project” doesn’t always work – sometimes you won’t see the perfect match until you try something, and then you’ll be so glad you did.

10. What’s your favorite book you’ve read recently?

Honestly, I haven’t read much recently. I’ve been so busy with work and stuff that I simply haven’t had a chance to open a book, except for my go-to read-a-few-pages-and-reminisce book Alice’s adventures in wonderland and through the looking glass. I know for sure though that my next book is going to be “Faim” from Quebec writer Patrick Senecal, that my mom so nicely offered to me for Christmas.

11. What was your dream job as a kid?

As far as I can remember, I think I wanted to become a signer, or a actress. Pretty far from my actual job as a city planner, but I’m ok with that. How would you know at 5 that you have bad stage fright?

So now as tradition would have it, I would like to nominate 5 other bloggers, so they can in turn reveal a little more about themselves and nominate other deserving bloggers. I hereby nominate:

The questions I am asking you guys are the following:

  1. What’s your favorite blog to follow, and why?
  2. Apart from blogging and knitting, what do you like to do in your spare time?
  3. What other crafts do you know or would like to learn?
  4. Do you  prefer to knit following a pattern or create your own?
  5. Did you take up any new year resolutions?
  6. What’s your go-to knitting project for instant gratification?
  7. What was your dream job as a kid?
  8. What is the last thing you learnt as a knitter?
  9. What makes you smile in the morning?
  10. Who’s your favorite person to knit for?
  11. How many WIPs do you currently have on the needles?

Thank you all for participating, it’s great to get to know each other in the blogging world, and I hope I can make some of you discover a new blog to love/follow.

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?