merino

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 🙂

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 🙂

Blooming?

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While my backyard is still invisible under a giant snow bank, cherry blossoms are blooming all around the world and making me jealous, so I decided to make flowers bloom in my heart at least by making this lovely Blooming Shawl from Sachiko Uemura.

More precisely, it’s an unbeaded fingering weight version of this shawl, on slightly larger needles and with fewer repeats of the main lace section. I used all but 2.5g of a scrumptious skein of Piccolo sock yarn from Julie Asselin, that I actually hand dyed myself a couple years back when I attended a hand dyeing workshop given by Julie herself at the Twist Festival in St-André-Avelin, in Quebec (check out my blog post here!). What do you guys think? Not too shabby for a first hand dyeing experience, eh?

The Blooming Shawl pattern is very well written, easy and fairly straight forward. It’s got both, written and charted instructions and the main lace section only counts 8 easily memorized rows (I had it memorized by the second pattern repeat). The only thing that I thought was a bit annoying was that only one of the WS row had increases, and I would often forget them and work a normal regular WS row instead – causing me great grief when I would start the next pattern row and notice I had stitches missing! Overall, I really liked this pattern and surely will make it again, although next time I might make it a bit bigger.

As usual, all the information on this shawl can be found of my project page, so feel free to take a look there. Cheers!

Comfort knitting

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Well, spring hasn’t really been springing lately, what with all the snow and cold weather and everything, but hey! I’ve been keeping my spirits up by knitting up a shawl out of one of my favorite hanspuns!

 

I used the free Bosc Pear pattern from Tetiana Otruta, it’s simple and fairly straightforward, didn’t do any mods whatsoever apart from repeating the main body section once more than the pattern called for, since I had extra yarn. I used all but 4 grams of the skein, and I’m quite happy at how it turned out! As usual all the details can be found on my project page, so feel free to take a look there 🙂

How’s YOUR spring you guys, any better than mine?

Hopeful 2018

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In retrospect, 2017 has been a very, very full year. Although especially challenging in many ways, I feel like I grew as a person throughout. I started the year in a funk fighting off a heavy case of knitting blues, then experienced the loss of my maternal grandfather, hustled through a crazy busy spring and summer at work, spent fall trying to catch up on things and topped off the year with the loss of my paternal grandfather less than 3 weeks before Christmas.

Among those hardships though, I was also blessed enough to experience beautiful moments of happiness with my loved ones and alone as I traveled to Washington DC and Hawaii, celebrated the birth of my best friend’s 2nd son, attended the wedding of a couple charming friends and my lovely sister in law, spent a lot of time with friends and family and moved forward on immigration procedures for my husband to finally become a permanent resident in Canada.

Needless to say, this all had a significant impact on both, crafting and blogging since I had barely any time to catch a breath all year. In 2017, I was only able to complete 7 projects, for a total of 5481 yards of yarn.

2017I can tell you that it is by far the least productive year I’ve had since 2013 but all is well, since 2018 already seems more promising (hopefully!). As the new year rolls around, I just finished spinning a 50% Merino / 50% Tencel fingering yarn I’ve been working on since July 2016 (!!!!!!), and also finished set of placemats I was supposed to give away for Christmas (oops?), and I’m quite happy at how they turned out.

Under the seaPlacemats 02

So now, let’s wish for 2018 to be full of hope and love and dreams and fibery goodness.

Cheers!

 

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

Photo 16-08-23 07 35 00

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?