yarn

Because everything is nicer on vacation.

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While spending the last 13 hours in a car Saturday, I’ve had a chance on the way to pick up my needles and finish my sweater for the Nice&Knit summer sweater knit along (#NKKAL). I’m definitely very happy about how it turned out!!

http://ravel.me/saphirsteph/sbhttp://ravel.me/saphirsteph/sb

The TDF has been going pretty good so far, I have been able to spin a brand new skein of yarn last week, full of colors. I used a combination of yellow and blue corriedale fiber, and although it didn’t turn out as soft as I would have expected, I’m definitely happy about the color scheme. And the best of it all is that with this skein, I was able to achieve one of my TDF goals, which was to spin a finer yarn! This one is about fingering size and is mostly constant, it’ll definitely be a charm to knit!

Fotor071072048http://ravel.me/saphirsteph/nins

The only down side about this yarn is that I think I put too much spin in it when I plied, and the finished skein turned out much more twisted than I would’ve wanted it to be when I got it off the wheel -_-‘ Even the cat was making fun of me!! I had to let it soak for a long time to let the twist set, and stretched it out real good as it was drying. Oh well.

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I still have 2 ounces of blue and 2 ounces of yellow that I’ll spin as solid colors, and I’ll combine the 3 skeins to knit the  Comptown Races Cowl with it. Isn’t going to look amazing?? I cannot wait to start it! So since my fiber stash has been shinking considerably, last Thursday I decided to stash up again on fiber, and I went for the first time to a little shop located in Nicolet, Québec called the Julie Factrie. I really liked the place, and thought it was cute and quaint (and full of my favorites!). The shop owner, Julie, is a real fiber artist, and it was a pleasure to chat with her for a little while. I left with mostly solid colors this time, and I’m really looking forward to spinning those into wonderful and colorful skeins.

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The heat of the moment! (and TDF?)

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Fotor0703132658These past few weeks, I have been stashing up on fiber for the Tour de Fleece, and it’s making me feel very, very good. For those who might not know what it is, the Tour de Fleece is the fiber spinner’s version of the Tour de France, the cycling competition – we spin as they spin, and we try to match the hardest parts of our challenges to  the hardest parts of the Tour. The big idea is to set yourself goals to achieve in the duration of challenge, which started this year on July 5th and will go on until July 27th. The goals you set yourself can be anything you want them to be – from learning how to spin to spinning 10 minutes every day to spinning 30 ounces of fiber. There’s a ton of groups you can join, a lot you can learn and definitely a lot of fun to have. So since I’m still relatively new to spinning, I set myself 3 very realistic goals that I think I can achieve before July 27th :

1) Spin finer and more consistent singles (ideally reaching the equivalent of a sock yarn)

2) Learn Navajo plying

3) Learn how to spin cotton

This challenge has made me very, very excited and although it started only a few days ago, I already completed 2 spinning projects; one using a 100% merino fiber and the other one using a 70/30 Merino/Silk fiber. I can definitely tell that the singles in these two projects are a lot finer and a lot more consistent than what I’ve been doing so far (the green one is about DK size), but there’s still room for improvement.

Fotor0704215622 Fotor0706155918I will be away on vacation for a good part of the TDF (going to Ohio July 12th through July 21st), but I will definitely keep spinning, since I decided to take my spinning wheel with me to work on my challenges on our spare time. A change in scenery is going to be very much welcomed, but the 12 hour drive there – without air conditioning – in the summer heat is going to be dreadful. hopefully, while we’re there we’ll be able to do lots of fun things like going to the zoo, having campfires and eat marshmallows.

In the meantime, I have been trying to focus on the Nice & Knit Summer Sweater Knit Along, that I really want to finish ASAP. I originally wanted to finish it before the TDF starts, but I guess it just didn’t happen. I finished the body yesterday, so now only the sleeves are left. I think part of the reason why I haven’t finished this project sooner is because of the crazy heat wave we’ve experienced the past few days. Isn’t it hard to focus on knitting a sweater when the heat makes you feel your body’s melting on the couch? Thermometer has been marking 88°F, but with humidity it’s jumping to 99°F. Urgh! Fortunately though, we’ve had rain yesterday and today that brought around cooler temperatures – so I picked up my needles again 🙂

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On a lighter note, Saturday, I went to Artfil with a few friends for a social stitches afternoon, where we had a chance to chat and happily work on our projects or learn new crafts together. I had a lot of fun, and definitely appreciated the much needed girl-time.

So that’s all folks, enjoy your craft time 🙂

The Spinning Dilemma

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Fotor061795220So… I bought a spinning wheel. I don’t know why, kind of a spur of the moment thing, it just kind-of-sort-of happened. It all began a few weeks ago, as I was at my friend Yana’s shop, happily chatting with an acquaintance I met there. During the conversation, I brought up the fact that I have never tried spinning, and would probably like to try it out eventually since it’s one of the few fiber crafts I have never tried before. She looked at me, and casually replied that she has tried it before but couldn’t really get into it, so now she has a spinning wheel for sale. Coincidence?

So last week, I dropped by her place to have a look at the spinning wheel and (hopefully) try it out. A friend of hers (who’s an amazing spinner) was there to show me a few of the basics, and explain to me how to work the spinning wheel. It’s an Ashford Kiwi, a very small and compact spinning wheel that looked easy enough for a beginner. Here’s a photo of the beast :

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I got there around 6 in the evening, and went through a very intense 3 hours learning session. Don’t get me wrong – I DID do my homework beforehand and looked up some videos on YouTube to give myself an idea of what it was like to spin; but SEEING a video and actually DOING the motions are two very different things! Boy, I had a good laugh. Obviously, my first try was very thick and thin, over-twisted in some spots, under-twisted in others and (as a general rule) very ugly! I was working with a pale baby blue merino top fiber,  the fibers were very long and just trying to get used to the motions, trying to  find where to place my hands and how to coordinate them with my feet was already such a big challenge that I didn’t/couldn’t really watch (or care about!) what the single I was making actually looked like, as long as I was making something! There are so many different things to focus on at the same time while spinning, I just couldn’t believe it! But all in all, I ended up having a lot of fun, and at the end of the night, I bagged all my stuff, said thanks, paid for the spinning wheel and left with it.

I took the not so fashionable baby blue merino top fiber home with me, and I started buying a few other roving here and there to build myself a little fiber stash. As I was out shopping in Stowe (VT) on Sunday, I fell in love with an amazing variegated purple Malabrigo Nube fiber, so I bought it right away – you can see what it looks like on the photo at the top – isn’t amazing?

Throughout the week, I practiced spinning very consistently for 1 hour or 2 every night with whatever I had left of the not-so-pretty baby blue merino top and a cute variegated blue/green fiber, I noticed that my results were slowly improving every time. It’s a lot for work, but somehow, after a week, i think I’m finally starting to get the hand of it. This is what I came up with, my two very first hand spun yarn skeins (yay!) :

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Majestic Landscapes (and Squam Art Fair!)

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Today I’m really excited to tell you that over the weekend, I went to my FIRST Art (yarn!) Fair; and I loved it!!! I decided to go to New Hampshire to attend the Squam Art Fair, a very nice fiber fair organized on the shores of the beautiful Squam Lake… And since we knew we were going to drive through the White Mountains, we decided to leave earlier and take full advantage of the majestic views the place has to offer. On our way, we stopped at the Franconia Notch State Park, where there used to be the a rock formation at the top of a mountain that looked exactly like an old man. This distinctive feature has attracted a countless number of tourists in the last 200 years, but finally collapsed in 2003 due to natural erosion. Since then, the park has been remodeled and now presents different monuments and photographs explaining the story of the mountain.

NH MontageIt was quite interesting to see, and I must say those mountains really create a jaw dropping landscape! Honeybee and I were really impressed by the view! Although we did not have time to go hiking because we had to get to Squam Lake in time for the fair, we did thoroughly enjoy the view, and we promised ourselves to go back there some time to take advantage of the trails.

We got to Squam Lake a little early, so we stopped somewhere to eat and then drove to the venue. I was really nervous and excited since I’ve never been to an Art Fair before and I really didn’t know what to expect. The place was really nicely decorated, there was knitted pompoms in the trees, benches and rocks covered in yarn, really cool solid ice lanterns with candles in them, I just didn’t know where to look!

Fair MontageSo when I finally set foot in the place, I got really excited! There was a lot of very nice stands, with very pleasing people, presenting amazing local products from fiber, to yarn, to wooden shawl pins, to handmade baby bootsies and pattern books. I had to set myself a budget so I wouldn’t spend an entire paycheck (gotta be reasonable!), so after going around a few times, I settled for my favorite skeins of yarn :

20140609_115340872_iOSThe orange ones are 100% superwash merino fingering yarn from The Woolen Rabbit, a little company based Conway,NH that offers the most vibrant hand dyed yarn I have ever seen! You can check out their website if you’re interested at http://www.thewoolenrabbit.com/. The yellow skein is a merino-silk lace yarn from Toil and Trouble, a Massachusetts hand dyed yarn company. Although I chose a very conventional color scheme, most of their color mixes are very unique, it’s definitely worth a look! You can buy their yarn on Etsy at https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/ToilandTrouble or you can check out their Facebook page.

So that’s all folks, thanks for reading my rants 🙂 I’ll talk to you next time!

Tunisian Crochet Bliss

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Hey-ho Crafters!

A few months ago, I decided to add a new craft to my arsenal, it’s a craft I’ve been wanting to learn for a long time and today, I really want to take a few minutes to share with all of you the love I have for Tunisian Crochet. For those who know what it is, you already know how awesome it is, and for those who have no idea what I’m talking about, let me let you in on a little secret : Tunisian Crochet combines the smoothness of knitted stitches and the quickness of crochet all into one beautiful needle craft.

To put it simply, Tunisian Crochet is a needle craft based on pairs of rows worked back and forth on the same side of project (i.e. you never have to turn you project – unless required for a specific pattern); it creates a beautiful, dense but supple fabric that is perfect for warm shawls, garments, blankets or anything else that strikes your fancy. There’s also a certain number of really nice lace patterns out there that can be used for lighter garments and more delicate projects, but I haven’t tried a lot of them yet (I’m still learning after all!). As I’m still relatively new to it, I learned mostly basic stitches, and I learned most of them watching videos on YouTube. There really is a ton of them out there so you should look it up when you get a chance. To give you an idea of what it looks like, here’s a shot of a Tunisian Crochet triangular shawl I made a few months ago with a few balls of Rowan kid classic yarn. It was my first Tunisian Crochet project, and it took only 3 days to make it. Isn’t it amazing how fast it goes?

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/saphirsteph/tunisian-triangular-shawl
http://www.ravelry.com/projects/saphirsteph/tunisian-triangular-shawl

Since then, I’ve tried countless different stitch patterns, watched an unbelievable amount of videos and even attended a workshop, and I feel like I’m finally starting to get the hang of it. It really is a beautiful craft, full of possibilities, and it works so fast it will simply blow your mind. What is also really interesting about Tunisian Crochet is that it makes it easy to mix yarns and colors as well as different types of patterns like lace, ribs or eyelets. There’s a scarf I work on here and there on my lunch breaks that’s worked on a rib pattern, I call it the bubble gum scarf. The yarn I’m using is FibraNatura Sea Song cotton yarn, it’s a really fun and easy project that can be worked in those little stolen moments when you’re in the bus, in line at the bank or waiting at a doctor appointment.

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As you can probably tell, I’m really excited about my new adventures in Tunisian Crochet, and I really enjoy doing it as much as I though I would, and probably even more. All in all, I’m must say I’m really happy to have discovered a craft I will be in love with for many years to come, and I’m really glad I pushed myself through the slow process of learning something new, because I think it was all worth it in the end. Maybe next time I’ll try spinning? Who knows 😉

What about you?

What’s the last thing you invested time to learn?

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!

Sweater-y weather

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Hey-ho Fellow Crafties!

Today, I want to talk to you about my latest adventure : the Oh-my-god-I-want-to-knit-myself-a-sweater adventure! It started a few weeks ago; the weather has been warming up a lot here recently, and the snow is slowly melting away. It smells more and more like spring every day, and the warmer days inspired me to retire my winter coat for the season and use lighter and more colorful clothes to match the nice weather.

That said, I have been CRAVING a hand knit sweater so bad that I just couldn’t resist when I saw the most scrumptious blue balls of Bamboo Pop yarn I found as I was out shopping, so I bought 4 balls, and set off on a new adventure! Now, I must mention that I have never in my life knitted a sweater. I sew a sweater once or twice, but never have I actually knitted a piece of clothing other than a shawl, a scarf, socks or hats. I have never knitted a swatch either, because size has never really been an issue. Who cares if a scarf is 9 or 10 inches wide, really? And to top it all off, I had so many unanswered questions, like how exactly am I going to shape the shoulders? Or the neckline?

To give myself a better idea of what I was getting myself into, I first started by looking at sweater patterns, but I quickly realized it probably wouldn’t be a very good idea because I (very honestly) couldn’t visualize how it would come together. I really felt that if I just blindly followed the instructions given on a pattern, the sweater I would make wouldn’t fit as good as it should because it wouldn’t be adapted to my own body and measurements.

After coming to that conclusion, I instead decided to look for videos or tutorials on how to make your own sweater from scratch, and I found this very helpful series of videos from Knitpicks on YouTube that showed me exactly what I needed. You can find the first video of the series here.

I learned in that series of videos how to swatch, calculate my stitch counts and how to shape the sweater according to my body measurements and my knitting gauge. Strong from all this new information, I grabbed a pair of needles and my yarn and I started the project. Instead of making the sweater bottom up like they suggest in the video, I decided to adapt it to make it top down. I have never made a sweater before, so I have no idea if I have enough yarn to make a long sleeves sweater or not. By doing it top down, I can simply adjust the length of the sleeves the match the amount of yarn I have left at the end, so I figured that would be the most appropriate way to do it in my case.

Knitting a sweater is obviously a very slow process, even more so because it’s my first one and I’m not entirely sure of what I’m doing (Who am I kidding, really… I have ABSOLUTELY no idea what I’m doing!). I know I made a lot of mistakes and some spots look kind of weird in my opinion, but I have learned a lot in the process, and I know for sure that my next sweater is going to be a lot better. So far it seems the general shape and the measurements are right, so whatever I did was surely not entirely wrong 😉

I’m going to Cape Cod for the weekend to let off some steam and relax so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to finish it before we leave or not, but if I can’t, I’ll make sure to update this post later to show you guys some pictures of the finished product.

On that note, that’s all for today folks, I hope you’ll all enjoy your Easter weekend and spend some quality time with your loved ones 🙂

Cheers!

Craftaholic

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Hi, my name is Stephanie. And I’m addicted to crafts.

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/saphirsteph/lace-scarves—challenging

Seriously, don’t laugh!

I cook, I knit, I sew, I crochet, I weave and I catch onto any kind of craft as I go. “That’s great!” you say, “Nothing wrong about that!” you say, but I do so much of it that I sometimes catch myself thinking that reality (a.k.a. everyday day life) is a serious hindrance to my craft life. I’m not unhappy, nor am I an awkward or socially inapt person. I have a wonderful life filled with friends, and laugh, a handsome boyfriend, and a job I like, but you see… I like crafts. No, that’s gotta be an  understatement. I LOVE crafts. So today, I decided to create a blog to to share the love, so we can all become craftaholic together. 😉 Every so often, I’ll update this blog about recent projects, share the love on different types of craft, show you pictures and tips, and provide links to my ravelry projects so you can check out the details of every project.

So since we have to start somewhere, I think I’ll start by talking to you about my favorite. See, I love to knit, and I love delicate, creative and unique handmade things. And the best thing about those is that I can do them all at once when I knit lace.

Lace knitting for me is like an exciting adventure, first you have to choose your destination, then you choose your gear, and then you set off. Why is lace knitting so exciting, you say? It’s because the possibilities are endless per se! A change in the yarn, or the needles, or a small adjustment in the pattern can make a project look so uniquely different, you’d never guess where it came from! Every work is a piece of love delicately put together with concentration, patience, and creativity. There’s something distinctly rewarding about giving someone a beautiful and special gift you spent so much time on. Even if it only cost you 8$, it’s worth a fortune in that person’s eyes.

On that note, I think I’ll leave you here for today. Have fun, find inspiration and CREATE! 🙂

Cheers! 🙂

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/saphirsteph/summer-stream-scarf
http://www.ravelry.com/projects/saphirsteph/summer-stream-scarf
http://www.ravelry.com/projects/saphirsteph/feather-and-fan-short-scarf-2
http://www.ravelry.com/projects/saphirsteph/feather-and-fan-short-scarf-2