needle arts

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 🙂

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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  🙂

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. My husband and I have taken a big plunge this year as he finally became a permanent resident here in Canada, and also got his first (french-speaking) job. We’ve had a chance to spend more time together as he settles in his new life, and it allowed us to deepen our relationship in many ways. 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!

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 🙂

Orange Crush

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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!

Orange crush

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?

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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!