fiber

Camilla love

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I’ve been wanting to make myself a Camilla Pullover from Carrie Bostick Hoge for the longest time, but it seems like I always had too many things on the needles or couldn’t find the right timing. Let me tell you folks, it finally happened in February. Yes, I now have made myself a gorgeously fuzzy, fun and comfortable Camilla Pullover out of some Patons Classic Wool Roving yarn in the Low Tide colorway. Yay!

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Let me tell you guys though that although I loved every stitch of this beauty, I struggled quite a bit throughout the process, and for all the wrong reasons, too.

The story starts back in 2013 when I bought 4 skeins of this yarn, not knowing yet what I wanted to do with it. A little while after, I fell madly in love with this gorgeous, gorgeous Camilla pullover pattern and thought it would be a match made in heaven with the yarn I had so I got really excited, until I realized I didn’t have enough yardage to do it. I tried convincing myself for months (if not years) that I could simply make the pattern work with a different yarn (after all it was not even the right weight!) but I simply couldn’t get it out of my head – I’m stubborn like that sometimes.

I looked at every local yarn store but couldn’t find the same yarn in this color anymore, the only option was to purchase it online on Joann’s website. So after a little while, since that project had been haunting me for a long time, I decided to finally order a couple skeins of it so I could reach the required yardage and start the project. Since it’s a commercially produced yarn, I was sort of hoping the color would be a close match to the one I had in stash because there was just no way I could find skeins of the same dyelot, but when I got them, I realized the new skeins were significantly lighter than the ones I had. Sigh.

Now had I been wiser (or just less eager to start), I simply could have waited to get the new skeins to start and then alternate old and new skeins throughout to make the color difference disappear –  but I totally didn’t do that. I was so excited about the project that I started it before receiving the extra skeins, and was already almost almost at the armpits when I got them. I didn’t want to frog the entire thing so I did what I could, and  when you look up close, you can notice that the body is darker, the sleeves are lighter, and the yoke is somewhat of a hybrid of the two. Oops.

All in all, I don’t really mind it so much and it surely won’t prevent me from wearing the heck out of it for the remainder of the cold season, but lesson learned, folks! I’ll be more careful from now on to avoid this kind of (totally preventable) issue. Had anything similar ever happened to anyone of you guys?

And sometimes, magic happens!

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For the longest time, I’ve been wanting to make a project using some of the handspun yarns I have. I’ve been spinning for a couple years now and during this time I’ve made several yummy handspun additions to my stash.

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I must confess though that aside from my unsuccessful BlueSand Cardigan attempt currently wasting away in the slumber pile, I had yet to finish a project using any of those gorgeous handspuns, and I thought it was such a shame! But earlier this week, inspiration stroke as I was going through my friend’s activity feed on Ravelry, and noticed someone had made an Arika Cowl. The pattern immediately piqued my interest because I thought it would be a perfect match for my Cheshire Cat purple handspun; it was the right yarn weight and yardage combined with a fun and unusual construction for a cowl, with an amazing fringe as a bonus.

I got so excited that I immediately bought the pattern and cast-on on Monday. Tuesday, the body was done, and I still had a full skein left so I thought I could make a matching hat. Since I had decided at that point to make the cowl with buttons instead of a seam, I quickly went around the pattern database looking for a hat pattern with a button in about the same yarn weight, and found the (free!) Moss Stitch Hat pattern from Erin Anton. Just perfect!

And following this streak of sudden inspiration, magic happened…

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Repetition kills… Creativity

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Last Christmas I made a white pompom version of the Star Anise hat for my brother’s girlfriend Virginie, and my step mom Carole was so enthralled with it that she asked me to make her the SAME hat in the SAME color. Hm.

Now I must say I love making knit garments for my loved ones, but never have I been asked to make the EXACT same thing twice (in a row!). As much as I wanted to please her, after receiving that request I just couldn’t bring myself to start anything and kept dreaming of hundreds of hats or patterns or projects that have been on my mind for a while, and how much fun they would be to try.

So after a little pondering, I decided to follow my heart and cast on a hat – not a Star Anise hat, and certainly not white – I opted for a soft pink, slightly slouchy version of the Tiima hat by the lovely Lilja Palmgren. And you know what? I’m in love.

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To make it more personal, I changed the border a bit from the original pattern, ditched the (time consuming) beads and the ribbon and added a pompom. I used Jade Sapphire’s Silk/Cashmere 2-ply yarn in color “Pinksicle” and I LOVED every stitch of it. It is perfectly soft, fluffy & yummy, the only downside is that it’s a very fragile yarn that tends to break easily – so be careful when working with it.

The hat turned out much bigger and slouchier than I was expecting looking at the pattern pictures (this is partly my fault for using larger needles for the main body), but as it turns out, I LOVE this version – and most importantly, my step mother does, too.

I think sometimes, people think they know what they want but their decision is only based on partial knowledge – because they simply don’t know what ELSE is out there, and how much better for them something else would be.

I chose a white Star Anise hat for Virginie because I thought it would be perfect for her, and I chose a pink Tiima hat for Carole because I knew it would fit her perfectly – and I think it’s good once in a while to take a guess and follow your instinct, because sometimes that’s the best way to find THE present that your loved ones will go crazy for.

Happiness is a simple thing

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I just finished the new sample for my feather and fan lace sweater pattern that is currently being tested, and I am SOOOO happy at how it turned out! It feels breezy, sunny, fun and perfect for spring. Awesomeness! I still have a few things to fix here and there before the pattern can be released, but I’m shooting for mid-February to early March. Things are moving so fast!

Feather and Fan lace Sweater

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 Emily’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?

Testers wanted!

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Hey guys!

I just recently opened a test-knit for my feather & fan sweater pattern, if you are interested head over to this thread in the Ravelry Forums, there’s still a few spots open ! Here’s a short description of the requirements.

first-sweater

This sweater in worked top down and in the round using a DK weight bamboo yarn. It has a lace pattern on both sleeves and the front, and a progressive rib from the waist down. Please note that since bamboo tends to grow a lot when worn, I wrote the pattern with 2” negative allowance. If you plan on using a yarn that’s a little less forgiving, you might want to size up a little.

This test is scheduled to start on January 1st, 2016.

Deadline: February 15, 2016, for a release on March 1st.

SIZES:
S (30”) for 32” bust, M (34”) for 36” bust, L (38”) for 40” bust.

GAUGE:
20 sts & 8 rows for a 4” square on size 6 (4 mm) needle in stockinette st

TECHNIQUES USED:
This pattern is pretty easy, you need to know how to Knit, purl, SSK, K2tog, YO, M1L & M1R. The instructions are written, no charts are provided.

The sweater-dress concoction

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November 30th, perfect day to present you my finished NaKniSweMo 2015 project – my 50 174 sts Laurie.

Laurie dress

I am absolutely thrilled by the final result and I love every stitch of this wonderful dress, but I must admit this was not was I was going for – not the smallest bit. This project was originally supposed to be just another sweater; no more no less, and I have nobody or nothing to blame for the (happy) mistake except for my very own foolishness in thinking I could pick a pattern without checking the number of stitches first, and my sinus infection for not realizing sooner how long this “sweater” was becoming.

For those who don’t know what NaKniSweMo is, let me explain first so you can understand better what my predicament was. NaKniSweMo stands for “National Knit a Sweater in a Month”. It’s basically a month long knit-along (KAL) where the main goal is to start and finish an entire sweater within the month of november. The main criteria for this KAL is that the sweater you pick must be at least 50 000 stitches.

Earlier in November, I decided to participate, choosing Laurie (from Josée Paquin), as my project for the challenge. Even though the sweater was using DK weight yarn, I didn’t bother to check the number of stitches before I started because I thought it’d be fine since it’s kind of an oversized model and I generally like longer sweaters anyways (I have always added length to every single sweater pattern I’ve ever knitted). I cast on and worked about 50% of this sweater, carefully marking my progress as I went, but somewhere around the middle of the month, I got a sinus infection.

I was feeling groggy and out of it, but still tried to make some progress – all I could focus on though was the 50k stitches goal, that was really all I could manage given the sickly state I was in. At one point I stopped working the body, worked one sleeve as a point of reference, then calculated (based on how many stitches I already had and how may stitches both sleeves were going to be) how much longer the body needed to be in order for me to reach 50k stitches. With that knowledge, I kept working on the body again, and again, and again until I finally reached the desired amount of stitches and bound it off around November 19th.

Around that time I started to feel better and my head was finally starting to get out of the clouds, and that’s when I realized just how long my “sweater” has gotten in my sickly slumber. I tried it on and realized the finished piece was going all the way to my knee… *sigh* I had knitted a dress instead of a sweater. Fancy that. I was still very happy with the project though, so I knit the second sleeve then washed and blocked the project and voilà ! A brand new autumn dress, I guess 🙂

NaKniSweMo 2015

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Hey guys! Are you feeling this winter-y vibe? This familiar sensation that comes with colder days, closeness of the Holidays and this strong desire to cuddle around the fire with a woolen sweater? Well I most certainly do. And although I know the few weeks left before the Holidays will be insanely busy, I just feel this urge to knit myself a cozy, warm sweater.

In all fairness, I must say that NaKniSweMo has the BEST and the WORST timing at the same time – I most certainly DO want to participate and indulge myself in a new, fun, warm and cozy sweater, but I know I definitely SHOULDN’T. Which is why I have been debating whether or not I should participate this year. And… well… This happened:

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I decided to try it, although I will give priority to the Christmas presents and getting the house ready for the holidays. The sweater I’ll be making is Laurie by Josée Paquin, and I’m using Classic Elite Yarns’s Soft Linen in the color Smokey Rose. I am absolutely, positively thrilled about this project, and although I know chances are slim that I’ll be able to complete it before the end of the month, I’m hoping I can at least finish it before the Holidays. Please cross your fingers with me!

New project

In the meantime, I also just finished the Casu Cowl, using some Berroco Element yarn I had in stash. It looks fantastic, and I’m absolutely delighted by the pattern/yarn combination. This pattern written by Galia Lael is elegantly simple, exquisite in the small details. I especially like the raised edge between the moss stitch and lace sections and the elegant slip stitch borders. And the yarn just brings out the texture beautifully, so I couldn’t be more satisfied with this project.

Casu Cowl

What do you guys think? Are you participating in the NaKniSweMo this year? What are you working on? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are up to 🙂

Autumn Rain

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Fall has finally rolled around, and with it sometimes comes cold and rainy days but also, when weather permits, beautiful, bright and colorful days full of autumn spirit and love. Fortunately for us on the east coast, we have been blessed this year with the latter, and we have been taking full advantage of it the last couple weekends by driving around Vermont to see the colors and enjoying outdoor activities.

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While the view is spectacular, the rather cold temperature has prompted me to rummage through my box winter accessories, and I was rather disappointed to realize I did not have a hand knit hat that matched my (very bright orange) spring coat. To fix this problem, I decided to make myself a new hat using a basic pattern and a neutral color that would match all my coats. I set my mind on the pattern Wurm, by Katharina Nopp, that I slightly modified to suit my taste (larger horizontal stripes, a 1×1 rib double edge and an added pompom). If you are interested in replicating this hat, please visit my project page for detailed information on the mods I did. 🙂

The yarn I used is a wonderfully soft and lush merino/cashmere/nylon fingering weight yarn from Zen Yarn Garden called Serenity 20. I must say that I truly enjoyed knitting with this yarn and certainly will use it again, I really think it’s one of those luxuries you simply can’t get enough of. And what to say about the colors? Simply wonderful! If you have never tried this yarn, I strongly recommend you try it at least once, I’m sure you will never regret it.

Ashes hat

While I’m still pecking away at my Bluesand Cardigan, I can’t say that I have made much progress since I last shared it with you a month and a half ago. A good part of the reason why it’s been such a long process is that I ran out of the main color and wasn’t into the idea of ordering a new skein, so I tried as best as I could to adjust the design to fit the yarn I had. After trying a few things though, I realized I was just not happy with how this was turning out and I finally resigned myself to frog my unsuccessful attempts and order a new skein of the MC.

At first I was a little upset about it, but after giving it much thought, I came to the conclusion that knitting is an investment both in time and money, and I need to be 100% satisfied with the final product to make it worthwhile. What I mean is that I prefer spending more time fixing a cardigan to make sure I will love it and wear it than half ass a cardigan that will end up collecting dust at the bottom of my closet.

Back on track

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Hey guys!

This fall has been insanely busy for me, and things are just now starting to get back to normal – which means that I finally get to do things that I have not been able to do in a while, yay! Among other things, I finally took time to ply the singles I spun during the Tour de Fleece this summer (I know… that was months ago!).

Although I did have my doubts while spinning it, I must say that I feel pretty satisfied with the finished product, which is quite a relief. The larger skein is a generous 597 yards of heavy lace 2 ply yarn and the other, small skein is 6 grams of leftover navajo plied in a fingering weight yarn. I am not too too sure what I’ll be doing with this yarn, but I do have a few options. Chances are, it will probably end up as a shawl in a (relatively) near future. 🙂

20151005_170443675_iOS20151005_170526684_iOSIn other news, I also visited the Vermont Sheep and Wool festival this weekend, and had a blast! The colors are now in full swing and the drive to Tumbridge was amazingly beautiful. We stayed for a few hours on Saturday afternoon, walked around the vendor stands, watched a sheep shearing demonstration and petted a few adorable Border Collies who were there to show their sheep herding skills. We had a lot of fun, and (obviously) I came back with a few additions to my stash. 🙂

In the picture below, you’ll see an A-MA-ZING pink Suri/Silk batt from Biltmore Wool Barn (Brewster, MA), a soft-as-a-cloud blue Merino/Tencel roving from Fiber Stash (Colchester, VT) and the cutest sock kit I have ever seen – the Tallulah sock pattern from Sivia Harding, complete with handpainted fingering weight yarn and matching beads! I fell head over heels when I saw this one, I simply couldn’t resist!

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Since I missed the Twist Festival this year and definitely won’t be able to make it to Rhinebeck, that’s as good as it gets for me this year, but I’m fine with it. What about you guys? Which wooly festivals have you been to or do you plan to go to this year?