craft

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 🙂

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.

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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…??

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?