knitting

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 🙂

Knitting, painting and other summer things

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Except for a couple rainy days here and there, the weather here this summer has been just wonderful; warm and sunny during the day and usually pretty cool at night. I have been taking advantage of the great weather to go for walks and enjoy the outdoors, but it hasn’t prevented me from making quite a bit of progress on other more “indoorsy” projects that I have been working on recently.

First off, I want to show you guys the Lissome cowl I just finished using a handspun I made just about 5 years ago during the tour de fleece. It’s a 100% merino salmon pink-ish barber pole yarn in a sports-ish weight. At first I really wasn’t sure how this was going to knit up, but I think it turned out beautiful on this gorgeously well structured cowl.

Lissome

Susan Pandorf is a genius for having designed such a wonderful pattern! It is simple, yet impressively well thought and well written. The first 4 rows were a bit counter-intuitive for me so I had to pay more attention working those, but once I got used to it, this cowl just knits up like a breeze! The texture is absolutely amazing and the finished cowl is delicate enough yet not too lacy – a great balance!

I used all but two yards of the two skeins I had, and was able to work up 14 repeats of the main body. The finished cowl was blocked at about 10” high and 25” long folded, so 50” circumference in total. As usual, all the details can be found on my project page so you can go check it out there.

While this cowl was under construction, I was also lucky enough to have a little photo session with the lovely Emily from Cyclopes photographie. See, I needed a professional portrait done and she does stock photography, so we agreed on an exchange – she would do my portrait for free if I agreed to be used as a model for some stock images. Now I have a lot of hobbies so I had a fun time trying to decide which one I wanted to feature for the stock pictures, but I opted for spinning, knitting and yoga.

As you can see, the pictures turned out simply amazing, I just have no words.

And in other news, I also spent some time last weekend painting an accent wall in my dining room. It took a little bit longer than I expected, but as you can see it was well worth every minute!

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That’s all for now folks, wish you all a great week  🙂

Tour de fleece-ing (ish)

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As many spinners do every year in July, last month I bust out my spinning wheel to spin along the cyclists of the Tour de France, which was held July 6-28th. I gotta say that with the move and everything that’s going on in my life right now, I didn’t set any expectations to put out a good production, I was really just looking forward to spending a bit of time on a different activity for a little while, no pressure. And I’m happy to report that I did just that!

I set out the spinning wheel in the living room and putted at it every few days while watching the new season of Queer eye. Bliss!

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All in all, I was able to spin about 5-ish oz. I spun (and plied) a Manos del Uruguay pink and purple 100g merino roving into a cute chain plied sport weight yarn, very soft and springy.

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I also started spinning a green 4 oz merino-silk roving from Ashland Bay, But since I’m only about a quarter of the way through I decided to keep the spinning wheel out and I’ll keep on working on it here and there throughout the summer, and hopefully have another handspun to show you this fall.

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To stay in the spinning spirit, I also started working on a cowl using my Flamboyant Flamingo handspun yarn, made during the tour de fleece a good 5 years ago. I wasn’t sure at first how it was going to turn out since the yarn is a 2-ply barber pole and quite think and thin since I still was pretty new to spinning, but it’s actually turning out pretty well with the structure of this wonderful cowl pattern. I will give a more through review of the Lissome pattern once I’m done, but let’s just say that I am really (REALLY) loving this design from Susan Pandorf.

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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.

Spruce Blanket

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…??

Longing for spring

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While the weather lately here has been oscillating on wide cycles ranging from rain and freezing rain to heavy snow and extreme cold, I’ve just been busy trying to get back into an exercise routine, chipping ice off the patio steps and finishing up some projects, all the while wishing spring was here already.

And the project I’m going to show you today is just that: the sincere, deep and heartfelt expression of me looking forward to end of winter.

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I started this project late in November as a test knit for the lovely Beatriz from SambaKnits and it’s bright, it’s light, it’s airy, it’s leafy; all things spring that I so wish to see. The pattern is yet to be published, but once it is, it will be linked to my Ravelry Project Page. The pattern, that offers both written & charted instructions, is well designed, clear and easy to understand. The design is very elegant with asymmetrical lace sections sprouting from opposite corners of the wrap, and although some things I would have done differently, the pattern is built in a way that is easy to alter if you wish to change the width, the length, or alter the lace increases or decreases.

The yarn I used is Malabrigo’s Silkpaca in the “pollen” colorway. It’s a lace weight yarn, and I must say that I don’t particularly like working with lace weight yarns since they are so thin and so flimsy, but this one is especially soft and absolutely stunning so it made it all worth it!

With this shawl done, I still have a couple more projects on the needles that I would like to complete this month, namely here a little chevron lap throw and a second Dessine-Moi Un Mouton so please look forward to it in the next few weeks as I’ll be sharing my progress on both these projects soon.

Cheers! 🙂

2018 Wrap-up

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Oh, 2018… What a year! You’ve been full of new challenges and experiences, full of hopes and dreams, and so very, very fulfilling! Although it doesn’t show so much here on the blog (or on my Ravelry page… Yikes!) 2018 has been a very good year to me, both personally and professionally, and it felt good to reflect on it while cozily drinking some hot cocoa by the fire at my in-laws. I lost a lot of weight, made some lifestyle changes, advanced my career and I’ve been working a lot on myself to become a more positive and grounded person. I was also blessed with the chance to go on two amazing (life changing!) trips to Asia and was fortunate enough to meet many kind and generous people I’m lucky to call friends.

On the blogging & crafting front, I did very little knitting in the first half of 2018 but worked on many sewing projects whereas I’ve been knitting more and sewing less in second half of the year.

2018 projects

All in all, Ravelry told me that I’ve completed 9 projects in 2018, totaling 4715 yards of yarn. That’s 2 more projects than what I did in 2017, although it represents 766 yards less. To that though, I think we can also add the second Solace sock I had to reknit from the previous year to complete the pair, as well as a couple WIPs I’ve been making serious progress on, but simply couldn’t finish before the year end. There’s first a bulky weight chevron lap blanket that’s about 75% done, and a beautiful lace shawl that I’ve been working as a test-knit for the lovely Beatriz Rubio (Sambaknits).

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Doesn’t it look just lovely? I’m about 70% done now, so this project may be the very first you’ll get to see completed on the blog this year – please look forward to it!

For 2019, I wish to simply continue working on the same goals, namely here get fit and eat healthy, be positive and grounded and be kinder to myself and others. There might be some big changes coming my way in 2019, so there might be a lot to share in the upcoming months.

Until then folks, I wish you all the best for 2019. Cheers!

Snowflake

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So many projects, so little time!! Last weekend, I finally finished a sweater that has been on the needles since May 2017 (ahem!..) and I’m so happy it finally came together! Not only is it another project I can check off the WIP list, but it’s also a really pretty and cozy sweater,  right on time for the cold season.

The pattern is (of course!) Tin Can Knits’s beautiful Snowflake, and the yarn is some Berroco Folio yarn I had in stash in color “Raspberry coulis” and “tan”. Since I had only a couple skeins of each, I decided on a striped version of the sweater to maximize the use of every yard. I ended up using all but 3 grams of the tan and 13 grams of the purple. As always, all the details on the yardage, striping sequence and mods can be found on my project page so take a look at them there if you’re interested!

Now this is my second snowflake sweater, but I haven’t been able to wear the first one that I made 4 years ago at all recently because I’ve lost a lot of weight and the bottom half of the body has been incredibly loose and shapeless. I’m very happy to have this model on my sweater rotation again, but I’ll definitely have to do something about the older one at some point this winter.

I think it should be an easy fix, since I could probably just pick up stitches around the waist where it still fits, frog the bottom half and re-knit it with less hip increases (or none at all). Whatever I do, I’ll make sure to keep you posted on my sweater surgery, so wish me luck!

Now if you don’t mind I’ll go back to my needles, because I definitely got some catching up to do before the year is over!

Cheers 🙂

Sock weather (& fixing up mistakes!)

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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.

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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.

Will you be my Valentine bis

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?

Solace socks

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.

Scrunchable scarf before

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.

Scrunchable scarf

What do you guys think? Yay? Or nay?

Winterlight

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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 🙂