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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.

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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?

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.

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.

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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.