needle craft

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…??

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?

Japan yarn & fabric haul

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Sweet Lord summer is hot this year! Not that I’m complaining because the weather has been absolutely gorgeous (and I would much rather be hot than cold), but in this recent heat wave it’s been a bit hard to find the energy or motivation to work on… pretty much anything. These past couple weeks. in my apartment without A/C, I’ve been holing myself up in the basement living on berry-mint smoothies, nuts and salads. I can’t seem to muster enough energy or brain power to cook, sew, knit, blog or do any of the things that I like to do, but I have taken up another kind of activity – as soon as the sun sets and the temperature drops a little (like below 30° Celsius) I open all the windows, start the fans, put my shoes on and go for a long slow walk to cool myself down.

Please know that I’ve been meaning to write to post forever, and I am so sorry it took so long to get it out! First of all, here’s a shot of all the gifts and souvenirs that I brought back from Japan for friends and family.

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Considering that I was travelling with only a backpack, I think it’s a feat in and out of itself to have been able to bring back this much stuff! But as much as possible, I tried to focus on small, light and portable objects that I wouldn’t bulk up my backpack too much. There’s a lot in there, but I brought back some snacks and sweets, letter sets, chopstick rests, stickers, notepads, bookmarks, postcards and things.

In addition to things shown in the picture, I also had an entire box shipped home from Kyoto which contained more sweets and snacks, yarn and some fabric, that I am about to show you in detail.

While I was in Japan, I visited 3 different craft stores. My shopping haul started in Kyoto when my sweet penpal Eriko took me to Nomura Tailor on Shijō Street. When I set foot in the store I was instantly AMAZED by the wide variety of fabrics and other products offered. Since I didn’t have much space in my luggage nor did I want to spend hundreds of dollars to ship giant boxes home, I had to limit myself to the three little pieces of fabric shown below, two adorable little precuts and 1 three meter long piece of cotton fabric that I may or may not use for a skirt in the near future.

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The shopping haul continued when I got to Tokyo a few days later. There, I visited two adorable little yarn stores. The first one I went to was called Keito, and was located in Asakusabashi. It’s a very cute yarn store full of small little treasures. Among those, I brought back a beautiful fox shawl pin, a scissors shaped needle sizer, 1 ball of Noro fingering weight yarn and 2 skeins of insanely soft GENTLY 80/20 cotton/cashmere yarn from the Japanese company FGS Corporation. The Noro yarn and scissors yarn sizer were a gift for mom in law and have already been shipped and received, but they can be seen in the picture above. The rest, you can see below. Gorgeous, right?

Keito purchases.jpg

The last stop of my shopping haul was at Walnut Tokyo, a little yarn store located in the Omotesandō area between Shibuya and Minato. That store, although tiny, was absolutely adorable. The staff was nice and friendly, the atmosphere was very calm and quiet and the yarn, books and articles offered were all top quality. I browsed through many books and accessories, but ended up setting my sights on Arimisu’s Wanderlust Linen, a gorgeous 100% linen fingering weight yarn. I ended up buying 6 skeins of it, I just couldn’t resist!

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What about you guys, any vacation planned this year? Are you planning to hit any craft stores or fiber festivals while you’re there?

Crushing hard!

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I’ve been back from Japan for about 10 days now, and I gotta tell you, I miss it so bad 

Everything from the sights and the sounds, the food, the feel of the air, the atmosphere, the people; I think I really crushed hard on Japan during those two short weeks and now that I’m back it’s really hitting me in the feels! Nevertheless though, I’ve been pretty busy here, at work and at home, as I slowly readjust to my everyday life.

What I want to share with you all today is a little project that I couldn’t share with you before leaving for Japan, and that would be this little cute Camilla baby Blanket.

Camilla Blanket

You see, one of my Japanese penpals, Eriko, is currently pregnant and since she was kind enough to spend two days showing me around Kyoto and Osaka, I wanted to bring her a little something special for her little-one-to-be. So a couple weeks before my trip, I started this cutie little blanket for her using the three skeins of Brown Sheep’s Cotton Fleece that I had on hand. Since I don’t know whether the baby is a boy or a girl, I figured a neutral blueish gray would be fine.

Since I’ve already bought the Camilla Pullover pattern in the past, I did not buy the actual Camilla Blanket pattern but instead used the instructions for the fan pattern from the pullover that I first converted to RS/WS instructions, repeated 4 times and added a garter stitch border on the top, bottom and edges.

The finished blanket is about stroller size, measuring about 30″X32″. Since I was using a Worsted weight yarn instead of Aran, I worked the blanket on 5 mm needles instead of the recommended 6.5 mm. I don’t work very often with needles over 4 mm, so I took advantage of this opportunity to try the Kollage square needle that I had received as a sample a couple years back but never got a chance to use. Although I was a bit skeptical at first, I must admit that I was actually quite pleased by the grip and the feel of those square needles, and it felt very natural to use. Actually, I enjoyed working with it so much I think I might seriously consider getting them in other sizes, or maybe even by the interchangeable set.

All the details, save for the actual fan motif, can be found on my project page so feel free to check it over if you’re interested.

Long time coming.

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These past few days I feel like I’m finally starting to get my knitting mojo back, although  it’s been a very long journey and I guess for now I don’t really have much to show for it, but that’s okay! Today, I want to share with you the latest piece I completed, which is a redish/black version of Stephen West’s Askews Me Dickey cowl that I started back in January. Ain’t it just lovely?

Wonderland Cowl

Ravelry is telling me it took a bit over a month to complete this project, which really is somewhat laughable compared to the whopping two days it took me to complete this cowl the first time around in 2016, but I’m alright with that. Since work has been so busy lately and my personal schedule’s been a bit overloaded, I’ve barely been knitting at all these past few months, but I’m glad to report that more than half of this cowl has been knitted in the last 7 days, so I guess I’m starting to adjust and pick up some speed again. I basically made the same mods as the first time I knitted this pattern, which is to work less repeats of the pattern in the neck section and cast-on with color B only instead of a two color cast-on like the pattern calls for. As always, you can find all the details and yardage on my project page, so go check it out if you’re interested.

The timing works out quite right since there’s a few more weeks of winter coming and I’ll definitely get to wear it before spring comes around, but more than anything I’m just really happy to have finished this project since the yarn I used actually has a little bit of a backstory to it. The redish variegated yarn I used is actually the yarn I got from my husband when he proposed to me back in 2015. He had bought a knitting kit at the Stowe Fabric & Yarn store in VT as a “birthday present” and had stuffed the ring inside the skein before giving it to me. Too sweet for words, right? I can tell you now that I will definitely cherish this cowl for a very, very long time.

That’s all for now folks, until next time 🙂

Cheers!

More Dresses. Really?

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Well, ok… I guess I’ve been re-garnishing my wardrobe lately. I added three fun dresses to my wardrobe in the past few weeks, and here they are.

New dresses

The two sleeveless ones were made using the same princess bodice & circle skirt I have used before from Tanya Whelan’s “Sew Many Dresses, Sew Little Time”.

The third one, in a black & white abstract print, is a copy from a dress I bought many moons ago and liked very much. I carefully un-stitched the original dress, drew the pattern out then reassembled it.

The dress I made using the drawn pieces is very much like the original, I only made two small little changes. First I removed the belt loops that were on either side because I do not intend to wear this dress with a belt, then I swapped the original 6 panel skirt for a circle skirt. Although the skirt is a little shorter than what I usually wear, I am very happy with the result. Hurray!