needle arts

Monsters in the closet

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My very best friend just recently had a baby so I’ve been on a rampage gathering all sorts of baby-related patterns and things, and let me tell you that it is candy for the eyes! There are so many cute, adorable baby things out there, it’s like a knitter’s paradise!

You may (or may not) remember that I finished a gray baby blanket earlier this spring, and you may (or may not) remember that my honeybee gave me Rebecca Danger’s Big Book of Knitted Monsters for Christmas. Well wonders happened, and I put together a little gift for my friend including those two little beauties here:

baby gift.jpg

This is the very first time I’ve ever knitted a plush toy, and it was so much fun that I can foresee many-a-plushie for me in the future. The yet-to-be-named little monster (or Hugo the couch potato monster, as referred to by the author) was an easy, quick and fun knit, that provided lots of instant gratification and allowed me to combine two (otherwise unusable) small 50g skeins to create a unique, playful and soft toy for someone’s special little person. In this case, I used a little over half a skein of blue Malabrigo Silky Merino yarn and ¾ of a skein of gray Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool yarn, leaving some room for (maybe!) another smaller monster in the same color palette. Who knows?

Looking through the book, I fell in love all over again with all those adorable monsters and I can tell you that there might soon be an Angus the Attic Monster, an Irving the Icebox Monster, a Dot the Dress Up Box Monster or a Bea the Basement Monster in the works. Hurray for babies (and plushies)!

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Camilla love

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I’ve been wanting to make myself a Camilla Pullover from Carrie Bostick Hoge for the longest time, but it seems like I always had too many things on the needles or couldn’t find the right timing. Let me tell you folks, it finally happened in February. Yes, I now have made myself a gorgeously fuzzy, fun and comfortable Camilla Pullover out of some Patons Classic Wool Roving yarn in the Low Tide colorway. Yay!

FotorCreated

Let me tell you guys though that although I loved every stitch of this beauty, I struggled quite a bit throughout the process, and for all the wrong reasons, too.

The story starts back in 2013 when I bought 4 skeins of this yarn, not knowing yet what I wanted to do with it. A little while after, I fell madly in love with this gorgeous, gorgeous Camilla pullover pattern and thought it would be a match made in heaven with the yarn I had so I got really excited, until I realized I didn’t have enough yardage to do it. I tried convincing myself for months (if not years) that I could simply make the pattern work with a different yarn (after all it was not even the right weight!) but I simply couldn’t get it out of my head – I’m stubborn like that sometimes.

I looked at every local yarn store but couldn’t find the same yarn in this color anymore, the only option was to purchase it online on Joann’s website. So after a little while, since that project had been haunting me for a long time, I decided to finally order a couple skeins of it so I could reach the required yardage and start the project. Since it’s a commercially produced yarn, I was sort of hoping the color would be a close match to the one I had in stash because there was just no way I could find skeins of the same dyelot, but when I got them, I realized the new skeins were significantly lighter than the ones I had. Sigh.

Now had I been wiser (or just less eager to start), I simply could have waited to get the new skeins to start and then alternate old and new skeins throughout to make the color difference disappear –  but I totally didn’t do that. I was so excited about the project that I started it before receiving the extra skeins, and was already almost almost at the armpits when I got them. I didn’t want to frog the entire thing so I did what I could, and  when you look up close, you can notice that the body is darker, the sleeves are lighter, and the yoke is somewhat of a hybrid of the two. Oops.

All in all, I don’t really mind it so much and it surely won’t prevent me from wearing the heck out of it for the remainder of the cold season, but lesson learned, folks! I’ll be more careful from now on to avoid this kind of (totally preventable) issue. Had anything similar ever happened to anyone of you guys?

Liebster award!

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liebsteraward-roses

Guys, I have been nominated by the lovely Becca from theknitted.com to the Liebser award. If you are not familiar with it, this award strives to bring light to small blogs and allow bloggers to connect and get to know each other better.

The process is very simple, the person who nominated you will ask 11 questions that you have to answer in a blog entry, then you have to nominate a few other bloggers who deserve a shout out. If you do not already follow Becca’s blog (and you should!), here’s a link to her liebster award’s blog entry.

The questions I received from her are the following:

1. How did you decide on the name of your blog?

Well, my first name is Stephanie, and Effie has been one of my nicknames since high school, so it was just (really) a no-brainer. I didn’t put much thought into it, I just thought it sounded nice and went with it!

2. Describe your blog in 5 words or less!

I hope people find it FUN, COLORFUL, LIGHT and JOYFUL – am I asking too much?

3. What is your favorite knitting technique or style?

Now I don’t really think I have a favorite knitting technique, but I certainly DO have techniques I DON’T like! Although I do sew garments, pillows, drapes and such, I hate sewing knits. So every time it’s possible, I prefer to go for a seamless pattern or alter the pattern to knit it seamlessly rather than going through the seaming process. Call it lazy – I guess it’s somewhat of a pet peeve of mine, but the less finishing I have to do when I finish a project, the better.

4. Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Hm, neither one, actually. I have to admit that I am not fully functional in the morning before 8 or 9, depending on the night I had, but I never really get up past 10. And I can’t go to bed at night before 9 or 10, but then again I can’t stay up until 3 either. So all in all, I’m really neither a morning person nor a night owl, I think I’m more of an afternoon person – and that’s when I’m the most productive. I’d say my most productive hours are between 11 AM and 7 PM.

5. Assuming money wasn’t a problem, what is one thing you would love to do?

I would love to travel the world. I like going places, connecting with people and discover new things. I want to see more, and I want to learn more about the world and I think travelling gives you more than you could ever get from a book or a documentary on a foreign place.

6. What is an item you can’t live without?

As sad as it may sound, my phone. I use it to keep track of my progress on Ravelry, follow knitting patterns on the go, take pictures of my knits, share stories on my blog, etc.and it also helps me keep in touch with my honeybee who lives far away through Skype and text messaging.

7. Who is your favorite knitting designer?

I have a soft spot for the elegant but simple designs of Melanie Berg (Mairlynd). She has the most exquisite shawl patterns, and simple but elegant sweater and cardigan patterns.

8. Do you like learning new knitting techniques?

I LOVE learning new things! I just recently tried working stuff two-at-a-time (like socks and sleeves and stuff) on a magic loop and I love it – it’s such a time saver!

9. What is your big knitting goal of 2016?

I want to knit more from stash and use the yummy handspuns I have. It’s a goal I’ve set myself the past two years, and I think it’s made me realize that yarn is no good sitting on a shelf. I bought it because I loved it, it’s pointless to idolize it from afar and be too scared to use it for something. “Waiting for the perfect project” doesn’t always work – sometimes you won’t see the perfect match until you try something, and then you’ll be so glad you did.

10. What’s your favorite book you’ve read recently?

Honestly, I haven’t read much recently. I’ve been so busy with work and stuff that I simply haven’t had a chance to open a book, except for my go-to read-a-few-pages-and-reminisce book Alice’s adventures in wonderland and through the looking glass. I know for sure though that my next book is going to be “Faim” from Quebec writer Patrick Senecal, that my mom so nicely offered to me for Christmas.

11. What was your dream job as a kid?

As far as I can remember, I think I wanted to become a signer, or a actress. Pretty far from my actual job as a city planner, but I’m ok with that. How would you know at 5 that you have bad stage fright?

So now as tradition would have it, I would like to nominate 5 other bloggers, so they can in turn reveal a little more about themselves and nominate other deserving bloggers. I hereby nominate:

The questions I am asking you guys are the following:

  1. What’s your favorite blog to follow, and why?
  2. Apart from blogging and knitting, what do you like to do in your spare time?
  3. What other crafts do you know or would like to learn?
  4. Do you  prefer to knit following a pattern or create your own?
  5. Did you take up any new year resolutions?
  6. What’s your go-to knitting project for instant gratification?
  7. What was your dream job as a kid?
  8. What is the last thing you learnt as a knitter?
  9. What makes you smile in the morning?
  10. Who’s your favorite person to knit for?
  11. How many WIPs do you currently have on the needles?

Thank you all for participating, it’s great to get to know each other in the blogging world, and I hope I can make some of you discover a new blog to love/follow.

Happiness is a simple thing

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I just finished the new sample for my feather and fan lace sweater pattern that is currently being tested, and I am SOOOO happy at how it turned out! It feels breezy, sunny, fun and perfect for spring. Awesomeness! I still have a few things to fix here and there before the pattern can be released, but I’m shooting for mid-February to early March. Things are moving so fast!

Feather and Fan lace Sweater

2015 in numbers

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2015 came to an end, which means it’s time for me to look back on what I accomplished and set new goals for the year to come.

2015

In 2015, I used 9372 yards of yarn in a total of 17 projects. Out of those 17 projects, 16 were knitted, 1 was crocheted and 0 were woven.

These numbers are telling me that I used 8.9% less yardage than last year, but I’m still satisfied by my performance since I made more project (17 compared to 16) and that most of them were knitted (16 compared to 11); and as most of you know, knitted items generally tend to use less yarn and more time than crocheted ones.

Now let’s review the resolutions I posted here last year and assess whether or not I was able to achieve my goals in 2015. Drumroll….

  1. I want to learn how to relax more.
    This one is a work in progress, and although I think I was able to make some time for myself this year, I think I still need to make a few more changes in my everyday life to make it more zen.
  2. I want to start less and finish more.
    Ok, maybe I didn’t ACE this one, but I think I did a pretty good job. I still have 3 WIPs on the needles and a couple projects hibernating in my closet, but at least I was able to go through my WIPs, frog the ones I knew wouldn’t go anywhere and concentrated my efforts in projects I was actually interested in and finished them. In my book, that’s a good thing, so I call this one a success.
  3. I want to knit from stash.
    Last year I promised myself I would try to knit from stash as much as possible, and buy yarn only for specific projects I didn’t already have suitable yarn for. Hm. Let’s look at the numbers and see. This year, 51 skeins (12 209 yards) were added to my stash. Thrown out just like that, it’s 8 skeins (2837 yards) more than what I actually used in the entire year, but let’s break it down and see what the REAL damage is. Out of those 51 skeins added to my stash, 7 of them (1736 yards) were gifted to me. Let’s be real, although I didn’t want to buy yarn, I certainly won’t turn it down if it’s offered to me for free – so those shouldn’t be counted. To that number, we also have to subtract 35 skeins (7018 yards) that I bought for specific projects that were started or even completed in 2015, which I was allowing myself to do so that’s also all good. Considering all that, the damage really isn’t that bad. Turns out I bought only 9 skeins (3455 yards) of yarn “just because”, which is a definite improvement compared to the 64 skeins (15076 yards) of yarn I bought in 2014 that are still collecting dust in my stash. Although it doesn’t look that way at first, I think I think I did a pretty good job on this resolution this year, and I definitely want to keep it going in 2016. I also want to add an additional challenge, and try to USE more yarn than I actually BUY/GET. Wish me luck!
  4. I want to weave more.
    Ok, this one I miserably failed. I did buy some more weaving yarn, but I failed to use my loom even once this year. Why? I think I simply had to much to think about considering I wrote 2 new designs, made most of my Christmas presents and renovated 2 rooms in the house. A failure is not the end of the world though, and I will give this resolution a second chance in 2016.
  5. I want to keep this blog going. 
    Well, this one I sure did. I’m still here! And let’s hope it will continue in 2016, because I really enjoy sharing my little stories with you guys!
  6. I want to publish more designs.
    In 2015, I DID publish my Sea Breeze Sweater pattern, and I have another sweater pattern currently being tested and a basic headband pattern all written out, ready to be tested. Yes!

Looking back, I guess I didn’t have a “perfect” craft year since I couldn’t achieve all the goals I set myself in the beginning of the year, but I feel very satisfied and accomplished, and I think that’s what matters the most.  So cheers to the new year! 🙂

Oh, and I can also now safely post the last few projects I made in 2015 that were meant to be gifted on Christmas. Exciting!

There’s my mom’s Casu Cowl
Casu Cowl

My brother’s girlfriend’s Anise Hat
image (1)

And my sister-in-law’s infinity scarf, no pattern used – but maybe another design coming? Who knows!
image

And you guys, what’s your 2015 recap? Any resolutions for the new year?

The sweater-dress concoction

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November 30th, perfect day to present you my finished NaKniSweMo 2015 project – my 50 174 sts Laurie.

Laurie dress

I am absolutely thrilled by the final result and I love every stitch of this wonderful dress, but I must admit this was not was I was going for – not the smallest bit. This project was originally supposed to be just another sweater; no more no less, and I have nobody or nothing to blame for the (happy) mistake except for my very own foolishness in thinking I could pick a pattern without checking the number of stitches first, and my sinus infection for not realizing sooner how long this “sweater” was becoming.

For those who don’t know what NaKniSweMo is, let me explain first so you can understand better what my predicament was. NaKniSweMo stands for “National Knit a Sweater in a Month”. It’s basically a month long knit-along (KAL) where the main goal is to start and finish an entire sweater within the month of november. The main criteria for this KAL is that the sweater you pick must be at least 50 000 stitches.

Earlier in November, I decided to participate, choosing Laurie (from Josée Paquin), as my project for the challenge. Even though the sweater was using DK weight yarn, I didn’t bother to check the number of stitches before I started because I thought it’d be fine since it’s kind of an oversized model and I generally like longer sweaters anyways (I have always added length to every single sweater pattern I’ve ever knitted). I cast on and worked about 50% of this sweater, carefully marking my progress as I went, but somewhere around the middle of the month, I got a sinus infection.

I was feeling groggy and out of it, but still tried to make some progress – all I could focus on though was the 50k stitches goal, that was really all I could manage given the sickly state I was in. At one point I stopped working the body, worked one sleeve as a point of reference, then calculated (based on how many stitches I already had and how may stitches both sleeves were going to be) how much longer the body needed to be in order for me to reach 50k stitches. With that knowledge, I kept working on the body again, and again, and again until I finally reached the desired amount of stitches and bound it off around November 19th.

Around that time I started to feel better and my head was finally starting to get out of the clouds, and that’s when I realized just how long my “sweater” has gotten in my sickly slumber. I tried it on and realized the finished piece was going all the way to my knee… *sigh* I had knitted a dress instead of a sweater. Fancy that. I was still very happy with the project though, so I knit the second sleeve then washed and blocked the project and voilà ! A brand new autumn dress, I guess 🙂