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.
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 🙂
There’s one piece though that differs from the rest, and that would be this white bowl :
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
What do you guys think? Yay? Or nay?
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
Life is cold… SO COLD! *tears*
Guys, temperatures here in Quebec have been dropping as fast as the daylight hours have been shrinking, winter has been slowly creeping in as we’ve experienced the first snow falls of the season.
Amidst it all, the only that’s been able to provide me any sort of comfort is a cozy knit curled up with a blanket on the couch, so today I would like to show you one of my latest FOs, a Winterlight shawl by Meg Gadsbey made with The Blue Brick‘s Killarney Sock gradient yarn in the “Waterfall” colorway.
This shawl was a very fast knit because the pattern is so cleverly designed to provide interesting and varied sections with minimal effort by maximizing the use of the simple knit stitch. Most rows of this pattern are actually just plain knitted, making this pattern extremely easy to memorize and very fast to knit. It’s also a great pattern to show off a gradient or a hand spun, so I am sure that I will make many more of this in the future.
I added a few plain rows at the end since I had a bit more yarn that what was needed, but I basically just followed the pattern the entire way through. There’s no need to fix something that’s already perfect! As usual all the info and yardage can be found on my project page, so take a look there if you’re interested.
Thank you all for reading, and I’ll see you again in a couple weeks for a little travel update 🙂
Guys, I’m so excited to show you the shawl I’ve been working on for almost 5 months now, it’s finally complete! Although it’s been a bit of a challenge, I’m so happy with the result!
Let me share a bit of a story to go along with this knit, because I think it deserves it. I’ve always been a huge fan of Melanie Berg, I love all of her designs and I’ve been eyeing Rheinlust since it first came out more than 2 years ago. To showcase the beautiful texture going on there, I wanted to use a solid or kettle dyed yarn to avoid any unnecessary visual distractions, so I opted for a couple skeins of the soft and beautiful (single-ply) Airy yarn from The Woolen Rabbit that I got at the Squam Art Fair in New Hampshire some 4 years back. It is a beautiful deep orange color, and mixed with the wavyness of the Rheinlust pattern, this shawl (to me!) looks like yummy gorgeous waves in a sea of orange crush pop! Don’t you guys feel the same?
Anyways, I started this shawl back in May as an airplane knit for my trip to Japan, but I quickly realized it wasn’t the smartest choice, as the pattern turned out to be a bit more challenging than I expected. I love lace patterns, but the way the waves kind of move along the knit got me really confused at first, and it took me a lot longer than usual to memorize the 22 row pattern repeat. Don’t get me wrong, the pattern is very clear and beautifully written, but my drowsy Dramamine brain had a lot of trouble juggling the yarn, the needle and the chart on the tiny plane tray intermittently taken over by food & drinks and a lot of other junk. Bottom line here, I frogged and started over this shawl 2 or 3 times before I got it somewhat right, and I made quite a few mistakes in the the first third of the shawl, but fortunately they seem to blend in quite well in the wavy pattern. The delicate single-ply yarn, however, didn’t appreciate all the frogging, confusion and messiness and broke in quite a few places in the first half.
Together, these two challenges made me realize that I probably should’ve thought things through a bit more, and chosen a more appropriate knit for the plane ride. An easier design with a simpler pattern repeat and a sturdier two or three ply yarn would certainly have been a wiser choice, but regardless of the knitting challenges faced during the trip, I am so happy that I made this shawl!! It is beautiful, soft and drapey, and every bit as amazing as I imagined it would be. I followed the pattern exactly, but repeated the main body 8 times instead of 9 to accommodate the smaller amount yarn I had available, all the details can be found on my project page as usual. And it worked out perfectly! I mean… Would you look at that beauty?
Either way, I shall learn from my mistakes and choose a more appropriate travel project the next time I go on a trip, which may come sooner rather than later.
See you again soon folks!
Yes, yes, I know. Long time no blog. It’s true that I haven’t spent as much time on my blog as I should have in the last few months, and the same can be said about my knitting needles that have been collecting dust for a little while. While I did sew a few bags in a variety of models and did work on my living room curtains, I must say that crafting (and blogging!) has been on the back burner for a little while, and there is a very good reason for that.
Since January, I have started a weight loss journey that has been keeping me very, very busy every day. I have always been on the bigger side, but last winter I hit a point where my weight and my fitness level (or the lack thereof) were becoming a problem in my every day life, and I wanted to do something about it. So today’s blog is not going to be about pretty yarn, fabric or anything remotely crafty, but about me and my relationship with my body.
Let’s start with true hard facts: not only was I overweight with a BMI of over 30, but I was also dangerously unfit. I’d get out of breath after climbing one small flight of stairs, and I was so sedentary that I started to develop sleep problems as well as various pains in my back, hips & knees. I would start panting after only 30 seconds of running.
Now that that’s done and out of the way, let’s talk about what I’ve been doing since then.
As there is no magic solution to weight loss, I focused my efforts on the two basic fronts : food and exercise.
On the “food” front:
- I started calculating my calorie intake using an app on my phone to set a target and keep track of my progress. For those interested, I’m using MyFitnessPal. What I like about this app is that most foods you can find at the grocery are already in the database and can simply be scanned and added for convenience, but what I also like is the option to enter all my homemade recipes & easily calculate the calories and macros per serving. I also like that you can customize your macro proportions, and set other personalized goals.
- As for macros, while most people get 40% to 60% of their energy from carbs, the sweet spot for me seems to be more around 30% to 35%, consequently I upped my protein & fat intake to about 20% & 50% respectively. Those proportions don’t follow any specific diet like Atkins, keto or whatever but after much trial and error, it seems to be the perfect balance where I FEEL great (no sugar craving, more constant level of energy, etc.) with minimal effort/changes to my regular diet or daily life. Since I’m vegetarian, going full out keto would be a more drastic challenge (although I’m sure it can be done!) but it was just too much work for me, so I simply cut out breads, rice, pasta and processed sugar and started opting for naturally low in sugar fruits & veggies.
- I also cook more, and pre-portion my food. I eat out less, and make lunches for myself every day. I also make it a point to eat as much veggies as I possibly can, and try to sneak them into anything I make. Food has suddenly become more colorful and more fun!
On the “exercise” front:
- As a naturally muscular person, I don’t really need too much weight training but I DO do some basic exercises like squats, push ups, crunches and things like that whenever I feel like it. More than anything though, cardio is what I need to work on, so…
- From January to May I used the treadmill almost every day, trying to build my cardio back from square one.
- From June to now, I’ve been walking and/or running at least 5k every day. Although at first I couldn’t run much more that 1-2k without stopping, I still signed up to a series of six 5k races downtown and showed up at every single one, now matter how hot & muggy it got. Although I still need to stop & walk sometimes, I was able to cut down my time from 37 to 33.5 minutes since June, and I am so excited about it!
(big shoutout to Hélène Bassaraba for the awesome pictures)
- I also recently got a fitbit, and try to be on my feet more throughout the day, too, not just going for a walk or run. I also try to incorporate other activities in my routine, and sometimes do yoga or play tennis with my cousin.
And that brings us to NOW, and the results I’ve seen. I am now 36 pounds lighter than I was on January 1st, and I now have a BMI below 25. I have gained muscle, lost fat and improved my cardio to the level of an average woman my age.
There’s obviously still a long way to go, but I am so proud of myself you guys!!
These past few days I feel like I’m finally starting to get my knitting mojo back, although it’s been a very long journey and I guess for now I don’t really have much to show for it, but that’s okay! Today, I want to share with you the latest piece I completed, which is a redish/black version of Stephen West’s Askews Me Dickey cowl that I started back in January. Ain’t it just lovely?
Ravelry is telling me it took a bit over a month to complete this project, which really is somewhat laughable compared to the whopping two days it took me to complete this cowl the first time around in 2016, but I’m alright with that. Since work has been so busy lately and my personal schedule’s been a bit overloaded, I’ve barely been knitting at all these past few months, but I’m glad to report that more than half of this cowl has been knitted in the last 7 days, so I guess I’m starting to adjust and pick up some speed again. I basically made the same mods as the first time I knitted this pattern, which is to work less repeats of the pattern in the neck section and cast-on with color B only instead of a two color cast-on like the pattern calls for. As always, you can find all the details and yardage on my project page, so go check it out if you’re interested.
The timing works out quite right since there’s a few more weeks of winter coming and I’ll definitely get to wear it before spring comes around, but more than anything I’m just really happy to have finished this project since the yarn I used actually has a little bit of a backstory to it. The redish variegated yarn I used is actually the yarn I got from my husband when he proposed to me back in 2015. He had bought a knitting kit at the Stowe Fabric & Yarn store in VT as a “birthday present” and had stuffed the ring inside the skein before giving it to me. Too sweet for words, right? I can tell you now that I will definitely cherish this cowl for a very, very long time.
That’s all for now folks, until next time 🙂