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.
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.
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?
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!
What about you guys, any vacation planned this year? Are you planning to hit any craft stores or fiber festivals while you’re there?
While my backyard is still invisible under a giant snow bank, cherry blossoms are blooming all around the world and making me jealous, so I decided to make flowers bloom in my heart at least by making this lovely Blooming Shawl from Sachiko Uemura.
More precisely, it’s an unbeaded fingering weight version of this shawl, on slightly larger needles and with fewer repeats of the main lace section. I used all but 2.5g of a scrumptious skein of Piccolo sock yarn from Julie Asselin, that I actually hand dyed myself a couple years back when I attended a hand dyeing workshop given by Julie herself at the Twist Festival in St-André-Avelin, in Quebec (check out my blog post here!). What do you guys think? Not too shabby for a first hand dyeing experience, eh?
The Blooming Shawl pattern is very well written, easy and fairly straight forward. It’s got both, written and charted instructions and the main lace section only counts 8 easily memorized rows (I had it memorized by the second pattern repeat). The only thing that I thought was a bit annoying was that only one of the WS row had increases, and I would often forget them and work a normal regular WS row instead – causing me great grief when I would start the next pattern row and notice I had stitches missing! Overall, I really liked this pattern and surely will make it again, although next time I might make it a bit bigger.
As usual, all the information on this shawl can be found of my project page, so feel free to take a look there. Cheers!
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?
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 🙂
In retrospect, 2017 has been a very, very full year. Although especially challenging in many ways, I feel like I grew as a person throughout. I started the year in a funk fighting off a heavy case of knitting blues, then experienced the loss of my maternal grandfather, hustled through a crazy busy spring and summer at work, spent fall trying to catch up on things and topped off the year with the loss of my paternal grandfather less than 3 weeks before Christmas.
Among those hardships though, I was also blessed enough to experience beautiful moments of happiness with my loved ones and alone as I traveled to Washington DC and Hawaii, celebrated the birth of my best friend’s 2nd son, attended the wedding of a couple charming friends and my lovely sister in law, spent a lot of time with friends and family and moved forward on immigration procedures for my husband to finally become a permanent resident in Canada.
Needless to say, this all had a significant impact on both, crafting and blogging since I had barely any time to catch a breath all year. In 2017, I was only able to complete 7 projects, for a total of 5481 yards of yarn.
I can tell you that it is by far the least productive year I’ve had since 2013 but all is well, since 2018 already seems more promising (hopefully!). As the new year rolls around, I just finished spinning a 50% Merino / 50% Tencel fingering yarn I’ve been working on since July 2016 (!!!!!!), and also finished set of placemats I was supposed to give away for Christmas (oops?), and I’m quite happy at how they turned out.
So now, let’s wish for 2018 to be full of hope and love and dreams and fibery goodness.
Yep, it’s now officially started. I made a list, carefully chose the presents I was going to offer to the people I love and hashed out a plan for all the things that I have to make before the Holiday season arrives. As always, it’s going to be a busy few weeks, but oh-so-rewarding!
The first item I checked on my list this year is this cute shawlette version of the Sunwalker Shawl by the ever so nice Melanie Berg, knitted in Noro Taiyo Sock yarn on size 3.75mm needles. It’s the second time I’ve used this pattern and I still love it as much as I did before. It’s so easy but also so interesting to knit with both texture and lace, and the result is always so breathtakingly beautiful!
As always, all the details can be found on my project page, so check it out if you’re interested 🙂
As for me, I shall now go back to my needles, my friends! See you again soon!
Yep, it’s been radio silence here on the blog for almost two months now – I know, it’s totally unacceptable! But as you may have guessed, things have been busy again both at work and at home, and I also couldn’t really post pictures of most of the tings I was working on in the last couple months as they were intended to become Christmas presents, and you know how much I hate spoiling surprises 🙂 As the holidays are now over, I am now pretty excited to show you the result of my hard work AND of my little Christmas shopping spree, but first things first I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year! 🙂
Now, let’s talk knitted presents. For my mom, I made an Iron Maiden shawl using an almost full skein of Tosh Merino light in color “Shire”. The shawl came out pretty big, and my mom was so happy she made a little dance when she unwrapped it 🙂 I made a few small changes to the number of repeats for each section that are detailed on my project page here.
My brother’s girlfriend received the Call & Response cowl I made over the summer, that you may (or may not) have seen posted on the blog here – it was a wonderful test-knit for Sarah Schira.
For my step-brother’s girlfriend, I made a Fidra hat using a skein of Katia’s Peru in a very pretty olive green (the actual color looks more like the picture on the left). I am currently working on completing the set by making a pair of wristers that’ll probably appear on a blog within a couple weeks, using the second skein I have of the same yarn.
Lastly, for my sister in law, I am working on a very purple Star Anise hat to match the infinity scarf I made her last year. I’m hoping to finish it and get it in the mail by mid-January, since I ran out of yarn and couldn’t finish it while we are here in Ohio. I still love the pattern as much as I did when I made one for my brother’s girlfriend last year, but this time I downsized to 2.75 – 3.25 mm needles instead of the recommended 3.25 – 3.5 mm since hers turned out a little bit on the large side. I am using a purple Baby Luv 100% acrylic yarn bought at Walmart in Canada, the very same one I used for her scarf. I don’t usually like to work with acrylic, but it seemed to be the best option here as I wanted both the scarf and the hat to wash easy and not shrink or wrinkle, and my sister in law finds wool to be very itchy so this baby soft acrylic seemed to be the perfect option.
As for me, I guess I have to admit that I was spoiled rotten by my mom in law who offered me a very nice adjustable sewing dressform (more precisely a Dritz Celine Standard Plus) and a yarn store gift certificate, to which a very funny story is attached. Since I didn’t have time this year to make her a little handmade something for Christmas like I usually do, my honeybee and I stopped at a little yarn store when we arrived in Ohio so I could get her a little present and a gift certificate – I thought is was the perfect idea since she also likes to knit and weave. The store we stopped at is Yarn Cravin’, a cute little yarn shop in Perrysburg, OH that I happen to really like shopping at when we’re in the area. Funny thing is, my mom in law actually remembered I had mentionned liking this store, so she had also bought a gift certificate for me for the same store! We laughed so darn hard! Either way, I made good use of my present this week and came back with these little lovelies here:
There’s 2 skeins of Dream in Color’s Wisp yarn, which is a 2 play lace weight yarn in a 50/50 merino-silk blend, 2 skeins of Berroco’s Folio yarn in color “Raspberry coulis” and 8 skeins of Plymouth’s Nettle Grove yarn in color “Mermaid”, which is a nice sport weight Cotton/linen blend yarn that will be more than perfect for a summer top.
Once we’re back in Quebec, I’ll make some time to prepare my 2016 recap and review the good and the bad shots of the year. Stay tuned! 🙂