silk

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! 🙂

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.

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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?

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, and 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, 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 and 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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October blues

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Well, it’s this time of the year. The time when days become shorter, temperature keeps getting colder and colder and the rain and clouds replace the sun in the sky. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a real bummer for me, and although we (at least) had a sunny and warm Thanksgiving weekend last week, I’m still not completely at ease with the idea that summer’s over.

To lift my spirits a little, I have been using my brand new ball winder and swift that were generously gifted to me on my birthday. So nice!

Ball winder

I have also been keeping myself very busy working on a couple different knitting projects, namely my Cosmo Shawl and a new pink cardigan I just started, my Frosted Rose.

The shawl has been progressing pretty quickly, I am now about halfway through. The pattern is called “Bamboo Wedding Shawl“, from Purl Soho. I have made this pattern once before for my mom, and I decided to do it again since it was such a nice, easy lace project to do. It’s a 12 row geometrical lace pattern that can be memorized very quickly. It’s an easy, relaxing knit, and I think the blue yarn really makes it pop – I’m very happy with the result!

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The cardigan, on the other side, was a real love story. I fell in love with it at first sight, about a week after it was published on Ravelry. The pattern is called Tau, and it is designed by Melanie Berg from Mairlynd. I fell in love with the pattern, and I just happened to have the perfect yarn for it just laying around in my bins so I cast on right away.

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The yarn I used is call Chroma Silk, it’s a wonderful 100% silk yarn in a light fingering weight, the color I’m using is “Frosted Rose”. This yarn is hand dyed by an artisan here in Montreal, and it is an exclusive product from Artfil Yarn Shop & Craft Café. I simply LOVE working with it, it’s nice, soft, strong, luscious, and very decently priced for a 100% silk yarn. I’m in love!

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SSSS : Summer Sea Stripes & Stuff

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So I made a sweater. Again. Hahahaha 🙂

I was so excited to have learned so much making my first sweater, the Feather & Fan Lace Sweater, that I wanted to apply all that newly acquired knowledge to another project right away! And I did. I present you today my second sweater, the Summer Sea Stripes! It’s not completely finished yet (I still have to make the sleeves) but I’m pretty happy about how it turned out so far!!!

Summer sea stripes

There are still a few mistakes here and there (which project is perfect, really?) but I’m much happier about the fit of this one compared to the first one I made. My first sweater was made to measurements, but realized after wearing it a few times that I did not like the fit so much as it felt kind of baggy and stretchy. To fix that problem, I decided to make my second sweater with 2 inches of negative allowance to give it a snugger fit. And it worked perfectly! It is just SOOOO comfortable and so nice! I couldn’t be happier about how it turned out!

And the colors! Oh My God, The Colors! I designed this pattern to maximize the yardage I had in both colors, but I must say it turned out way nicer than I expected! Both are 75/25 Superwash Merino & Silk sock yarns, very soft and very smooth, with a lovely drape and an exquisite sheen. The black yarn is Cascade Heritage Silk that can be purchased both on Little Knits or on Webs (you can check out the Craft Ressources page of my blog for links to both these online yarn stores. You’re welcome!), I used 1 skein of it for my sweater. The blue yarn has got to be my best discovery of the month. It’s the Squishy Sock yarn, an exclusive product made by Chroma Fiber for the Artfil Yarn Shop & Craft Café, a little yarn boutique my friend Yana recently opened in Laval, Quebec. It is 356 yards of scrumptious deliciousness, hand painted by a local artisan in Montreal. It is simply gorgeous. If you’re interested, you can find it in store at the Artfil Yarn Shop & Craft Café, or you can buy it online on their website at http://www.artfil.ca/products/chroma-squishy-sock.

I recently made a review for this yarn, if you’re interested in reading it you can find it here.

So happy stitches guys, I’ll see you next time with another project (not a sweater again, I promise!)

Cheers!