silk

The WHYs of a month-long hiatus

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I know, I know… Long time no blog. Things have been a little hectic in the last few weeks so I haven’t had any time to write, but I have exciting news folks – my honeybee and I just got married 🙂

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Pictures by Frederic Alogna – www.fredericalogna.com

We both felt really blessed, surrounded by loving friends and family on a gorgeous fall day. We are so glad that regardless of the language barrier, everybody just came together to shared this happy moment with us. Also a big Thank You to our amazing photographer Frederic Alogna for capturing all the feelings and emotions on this special day.

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Photo by Frederic Alogna – www.fredericalogna.com

Now you may be thinking… “Wait… doesn’t this dress look knitted? There’s no way…”  Well yes, I knitted my dress. And that is mainly why I haven’t been able to blog in such a long time! I have been sewing, knitting and crafting all sorts of things in the last few weeks, but I couldn’t share any of it before the wedding as I didn’t want to spoil any surprises!

Now that I can talk about it, here’s the break down.

The veil and the sash both came from Etsy, respectively from here and here. The dress is composed of two parts (both handmade!), a plain silk dress and a knitted lace overlay.

The plain silk dress was made using a 42″ silk charmeuse in color “vanilla” bought on Etsy. It’s fully lined, and I used the same pattern as the black and white cap sleeve dress I made in August (see my last post for details).

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Now, the knitted lace overlay. You know… Ravelry is telling me that I started this in June 2015. Don’t worry folks, I haven’t REALLY been knitting this non-stop for 15 months. Actually, a good portion of that time was spent thinking, calculating and altering the chosen patterns to materialize the idea I had in my head. You see, the problem is that I couldn’t find a single dress pattern I liked 100%. My idea was to have an allover lace overlay that would feature a 3/4 sleeve, fitted bodice and a circular yoke. I also wanted a circle or half circle skirt, and all of that had to be knitted from the top down in one piece. Yea… that’s probably why I couldn’t find a pattern. But it’s all fine, because I had found PIECES of patterns I liked! So I started this project by loosely following the instructions for the Cecilia top but modified it to a fitted body with sleeves and worked the body in allover lace. Then, I worked a 2″ seed stitch waistband and transitioned to the May dress skirt. Now this pattern is knitted flat so I first had to transpose the patter to all RS rows to work in the round. It’s also originally knitted from the bottom up and I was working my dress top down, so it means that the lace is upside down but I thought it looked good either way so I didn’t bother trying to reverse it. I worked the skirt like that for a little while, then finally I transitioned to a flare-out inspired by the cecilia top lace. Throughout the dress, I used a strand of Cascade Kid Seta in color blush and a strand of Diamond Luxury Collection Baby Alpaca Lace in color cream knitted together as one. I used about 1500 yards of each, for a grand total of 3116 yards. I am very, very proud of this project, and I’m sure I will happily wear this dress many more times in the future. For those interested, you can see all the details on my my project page.

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That’s all for now folks… Cheers 🙂

 

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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

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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?

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:

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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)!

Repetition kills… Creativity

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Last Christmas I made a white pompom version of the Star Anise hat for my brother’s girlfriend Virginie, and my step mom Carole was so enthralled with it that she asked me to make her the SAME hat in the SAME color. Hm.

Now I must say I love making knit garments for my loved ones, but never have I been asked to make the EXACT same thing twice (in a row!). As much as I wanted to please her, after receiving that request I just couldn’t bring myself to start anything and kept dreaming of hundreds of hats or patterns or projects that have been on my mind for a while, and how much fun they would be to try.

So after a little pondering, I decided to follow my heart and cast on a hat – not a Star Anise hat, and certainly not white – I opted for a soft pink, slightly slouchy version of the Tiima hat by the lovely Lilja Palmgren. And you know what? I’m in love.

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To make it more personal, I changed the border a bit from the original pattern, ditched the (time consuming) beads and the ribbon and added a pompom. I used Jade Sapphire’s Silk/Cashmere 2-ply yarn in color “Pinksicle” and I LOVED every stitch of it. It is perfectly soft, fluffy & yummy, the only downside is that it’s a very fragile yarn that tends to break easily – so be careful when working with it.

The hat turned out much bigger and slouchier than I was expecting looking at the pattern pictures (this is partly my fault for using larger needles for the main body), but as it turns out, I LOVE this version – and most importantly, my step mother does, too.

I think sometimes, people think they know what they want but their decision is only based on partial knowledge – because they simply don’t know what ELSE is out there, and how much better for them something else would be.

I chose a white Star Anise hat for Virginie because I thought it would be perfect for her, and I chose a pink Tiima hat for Carole because I knew it would fit her perfectly – and I think it’s good once in a while to take a guess and follow your instinct, because sometimes that’s the best way to find THE present that your loved ones will go crazy for.

Back on track

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Hey guys!

This fall has been insanely busy for me, and things are just now starting to get back to normal – which means that I finally get to do things that I have not been able to do in a while, yay! Among other things, I finally took time to ply the singles I spun during the Tour de Fleece this summer (I know… that was months ago!).

Although I did have my doubts while spinning it, I must say that I feel pretty satisfied with the finished product, which is quite a relief. The larger skein is a generous 597 yards of heavy lace 2 ply yarn and the other, small skein is 6 grams of leftover navajo plied in a fingering weight yarn. I am not too too sure what I’ll be doing with this yarn, but I do have a few options. Chances are, it will probably end up as a shawl in a (relatively) near future. 🙂

20151005_170443675_iOS20151005_170526684_iOSIn other news, I also visited the Vermont Sheep and Wool festival this weekend with my Honeybee, and we had a blast! The colors are now in full swing and the drive to Tumbridge was amazingly beautiful. We stayed for a few hours on Saturday afternoon, walked around the vendor stands, watched a sheep shearing demonstration and petted a few adorable Border Collies who were there to show their sheep herding skills. We had a lot of fun, and (obviously) I came back with a few additions to my stash. 🙂

In the picture below, you’ll see an A-MA-ZING pink Suri/Silk batt from Biltmore Wool Barn (Brewster, MA), a soft-as-a-cloud blue Merino/Tencel roving from Fiber Stash (Colchester, VT) and the cutest sock kit I have ever seen – the Tallulah sock pattern from Sivia Harding, complete with handpainted fingering weight yarn and matching beads! I fell head over heels when I saw this one, I simply couldn’t resist!

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Since I missed the Twist Festival this year and definitely won’t be able to make it to Rhinebeck, that’s as good as it gets for me this year, but I’m fine with it. What about you guys? Which wooly festivals have you been to or do you plan to go to this year?

April novelties!

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In the last couple weeks, I got to finish two projects that have been on the needles for a while. The first one is the manly socks I made for my Honeybee, and the second one is the Seesaw Tee I test knitted for Nell Knits.

The socks were made without a pattern using some Patons Kroy Socks FX yarn my Honeybee picked out earlier this winter. I quite like the result, although I realized afterwards the two skein were not exactly the same color. Oopsy!

Manly socks

The Seesaw Tee was a pleasure to knit, really. The pattern was beautifully written, simple and very easy to understand. The sweater is worked in the round from the bottom up, with only a couple little seams to close up the armpits. It was an unexpectedly fast knit as I was expecting to complete this project towards the end of April and ended up finishing it in only a couple weeks. The yarn I used is Knit-Picks Diadem yarn in color Garnet; which has been discontinued I believe. It’s a 50/50 alpaca/silk yarn, soft as a cloud, it has a really nice drape and halo and it blocks like a charm, making it perfect for any lace projects. It is marked as a fingering weight yarn, but I would say it’s much more of a sport or DK weight, as I used 3.5mm needles and got a blocked gauge of 5 sts to an inch. I used only 2 skeins for a size medium sweater, how great is that? Two down sides though :

1) it’s a loosely spun single, so you have to expect this yarn to be (significantly) splitty

2) it  tends to shed, and I experienced a little bleeding on the first wash – nothing major though!

Other than that, I am very satisfied by both, the pattern and the yarn, and I happily wore my new sweater all day 🙂

Seesaw Tee

Finished Frosted Rose cardigan!! (& NaKniSweMo fail)

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Ok, it seems weird to make my first NaKniSweMo blog post on november 25th… But I promise, there’s a story that explains it all (or so I think). One of my friends was participating in the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and to encourage him on his journey, I decided to follow him with my stitches by participating in the NaKniSweMo (National Knit a Sweater in a Month). Now, let me remind you I decided to  participate kind of late and had already a couple project on the needles, and the only one that seemed to fit the bill was a test-knit I started on November 3rd for a modified version of the Woodsmoke sweater in a worsted weight yarn. Since I started it on time and had to finish the test-knit by december 1st, I thought it would be the perfect project for the NaKniSweMo… I just omitted a couple important things. Now, I have never used worsted weight yarn to make a sweater before, and seeing where I’m at right now, I realize I probably overestimated the number of stitches (Ahem.) and underestimated the yarn quantity required (double”Ahem”). I’m sure you know where I’m going with this, but I now have the body of a sweater, complete at 25 274 stitches, and no yarn left to knit the sleeves – 6 days before the end of the challenge. Interesting isn’t? 🙂

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About a week ago, I had a feeling I was going to run out of yarn, so I (fortunately!) ordered a couple more balls. They should be here by Wednesday, and if I knit fast enough, I should be able to finish the sleeves by the end of the month. But the second question remains, though : Will I or will I not reach the required 50000 stitches? Since I have a complete body at roughly 25000 stitches, I somehow have a feeling I’ll fall short of a few thousand stitches, even with full length sleeves. We’ll see! Anyways, even if I fail the challenge, I’ll still be happy to have completed such a cute cardigan in such a short time, and I’ll definitely wear the hell out of it 🙂 I ordered 2 different sets of buttons, not sure which ones I’ll use yet. What do you guys think?

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On another note, I have also finished my Frosted Rose cardigan, and I simply love it. I decided to opt for 3/4 sleeves instead of full sleeves, since I always wear my cardigans with the sleeves rolled up to my elbows – so why not simply knit a 3/4 sleeve? And there you have it! So, isn’t simply amazing? =)

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