Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WIP Wednesday - Monet's Garden Angora Scarf

This past Saturday, Shelagh and I took the train into Toronto to check out the Creativ Festival. When it first started back in 1988, it was known as the Creative Sewing & Needlework Festival; currently the Festival is held twice a year.

Did we really need to visit the Festival? After all, we had attended the Festival back in April (in Mississauga), picked up yarn at many yarn shops since then, and even had a successful visit to the KW Knitter's Fair just this past September. But this is a family knitting adventure and we're trying to find our place in this vast and welcoming knitting community. We figured this would be a kind of "intelligence-gathering mission" because we didn't really need any yarn.

The festival is home to many types of needle arts, including sewing, quilting, needlework, crochet and, of interest to us, knitting. It's great to visit vendors' booths to check out hand-spun and -dyed yarns as well as shops who sell yarns we don't see it our local yarn shop. We always learn something new while chatting with various vendors and other attendees!

Did we pick up some more yarn? Well . . . yes! Of course! If you knit, you know how hard it is to leave a shop without something! Here is some of what I purchased:

Left is the 100% angora I picked up, I mean, I had to get it because I fell in love with the softness when I first held the skein. Then Shelagh said the colours reminded her of a Monet painting. That sealed it. I purchased two skeins of it and knew I had to make something I'm going to call Monet's Garden.

On the trip home, Shelagh and I wound the two skeins into balls, which led to chuckles from some other women on the train. But, it didn't take us long and I was able to try a couple of different stitches before settling on a very simple moss stitch. I liked this because the purl bumps look like daubs of paint, really highlighting the gorgeous blues in greens you might see in a Monet painting. Here's what I've done so far. What do you think? Does it remind you of a Monet painting?

Friday, October 24, 2014

FO Friday - Peach Melba Scarf

I always have a hard time figuring out what to write about. This has never been one of my strong points. I may have lots to say about knitting but it is putting it down on paper that is not my strong suit. That is Margaret's area of expertise!

I have finished a lovely scarf in a Manos del Uraguay Maxima yarn. I noticed that I have a preference for bright cheerful colours. This colourway is called Peach Melba. It has beautiful deep fuchsia to peach variances. With it being 100% extra fine Merino wool, it is so soft to work with and would be lovely to wear around your neck on a cold dreary day. The colours would be so cheerful in the middle of winter and be a great pick-me-up!

I tried several patterns before I settled on this one. The pattern I chose was from one of the many knitting magazines I have purchased over the last several years. It is in the Creative Knitting magazine, Easy Everyday Openwork & Lace Spring 2013. 8-Hour Shawl designed by Lorna Miser courtesy of Red Heart. The wool didn't have enough yardage to make the shawl so I decided to make it a warm scarf or maybe a cowl. I loved the stitch. It added so much more character to the wool. Now it is done, washed and blocked.

The next step was to figure out if I should leave it as a shorter but thick scarf or to sew the ends together to make it a bigger than average cowl. It measures 41" long by approx. 10" wide. After thinking about it for a few days, I decided to leave it as a scarf. I think it would be better to wrap around your neck instead of pulling it over your head. It would be difficult to double it up as a cowl but easier as a scarf. It could be folded in half and wrapped around your neck once or twice. You can wear the scarf with either side of the stitching showing There really is no wrong side to it!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WIP Wednesday - Mean Tangerine Infinity or Cowl

You might remember my post "Which comes first, the yarn or the pattern?" posted on October 8. Well, I have begun work on what I think will be a cowl in the gorgeous yarn I purchased at the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter's Fair.

As I mentioned, the yarn is 100% Merino in a gorgeous variegation of oranges that just sing with happiness. After trying two different patterns and not liking either one, I decided to try a test swatch of a stitch I quite liked, called Tweed Stitch.

So, I knit up a test swatch on the needles I'll be using to make this lovely scarf to figure out the gauge and ensure I have adequate yardage to complete the project.

My test swatch sitting atop the photo of this glorious stitch pattern. Isn't it pretty?

I know I've made the right choice because I'm absolutely loving how this stitch is working with my yarn! A perfect balance of interesting stitch and gorgeous yarn.

After I did my test swatch, I figured out number of stitches per inch, tore out the swatch, measured the number of yards, and worked out how long and wide I could make this scarf based on that information.

Who knew I'd need arithmetic after all these years!?!

So now I've cast on the number of stitches I think I'll need and begun knitting what should be an infinity scarf . . . assuming my arithmetic is correct. I'll just have to see how it works out! I'll share soon on an upcoming FO Friday post. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

WIP Wednesday - What to do next?

I don't actually have a work in process right now. And neither does Shelagh. And we don't like it. But I thought this might be interesting to write about: how do we decide what to work on next? 

For me it starts with the yarn. Sometimes I look at my stash--or my sister's stash!--and fall in love with a particular yarn all over again. That rush of excitement when I look at the colour and feel the squooshy texture and I remember why I bought the yarn. I have a couple of cakes of yarn that do that for me and the one I'm looking at right now is "Mean Tangerine," a sport-weight yarn by Waterloo Wools I purchased at the KW Knitter's Fair back in September.

Mean Tangerine is 100% Blue-faced Leicester (BFL) wool yarn in a wonderfully happy variegation of oranges. It's so bright and cheerful--and so unlike my usual preference for blues and greens. When I saw it, I absolutely had to have it. I know I want a pattern that will show off the beautiful shades of orange and I think a simple stitch pattern will do the trick. Oh, and I have 250 yards.

For me, and I think I speak for Shelagh too, the process is falling in love with the yarn and then looking for a pattern that will highlight it. We have been purchasing a lot of artisanal yarns lately, yarns spun and/or dyed by very creative women, and I--we--want to continue that creative vision by choosing exactly the right pattern.

So far I've tried two different scarf patterns, knit about 1-1/2" and simply knew each one wasn't working. Ugh.

I did look for more patterns online and in magazines, but I just couldn't find something I liked. So I started looking through my Stitch Guide. This is a handy and really inspiring little book. It's so inspiring that I sometimes get carried away and start thinking of other yarns when I look at some stitches. And sometimes that isn't good because I feel like I'm cheating on my current project or yarn. Is that weird?

My cake of Mean Tangerine on my Stitch Guide. What you don't see are all the flagged pages for stitches and yarns!

So, I have found a beautiful stitch that I think will show off the various orange colours of this yarn. Next step: test swatch and working out the number of stitches and rows and creating my own pattern. Send your positive vibes my way: I'm hoping third time is the charm!

Friday, October 10, 2014

FO Friday - Colorflo Shawl

This year Shelagh and I visited the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitters' Fair for the first time. This wonderful fair has been organized by the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitters' Guild for over 20 years. The Fair is amazing because it gives knitters a chance to see small-ish vendors, artisan spinners and dyers whose yarns are mostly available online and not in yarn stores (or only in a few stores). It really offered a diverse variety of yarns and all things knitting related. And I have no idea how we hadn't heard of it before!

A few weeks before the the Fair, Shelagh and I checked out the various vendors' websites and prioritized those we wanted to visit. So, when we arrived at the site, we headed straight to the vendors we most wanted to see. And, yes, we did buy from some of them! But we'll save those for later posts. 

After visiting our top priority vendors, we wandered to look at everyone else.

That's when we stumbled on sweaterkits. They had beautiful yarns and yarn/pattern kits. I fell in love with the Mulberry silk cakes: gorgeous colour combinations, so it was difficult to choose one. But I decided on the cake made up of purples and blues. Gorgeous! And the accompanying pattern looked quite straightforward.

I started knitting right away. The silk felt wonderful in my hands and the shawl took shape very quickly.

The cool part about this yarn is that the artisan dyer who created it figured out how to dye 300 yards of yarn in five different colours! The result is that you follow the pattern and don't have to switch skeins for the different colours--which means only two ends to weave in when done. Plus, the following the pattern means it colour blocks naturally.

It was quite thrilling to watch the colours and pattern appear while I knit.

I knit the pattern in about a week. I didn't knit constantly, but I did knit some of it every day. I loved getting to the lace edge part of the pattern, too. Very easy and so pretty in those last colours.

I've blocked it and will be photographing it shortly for selling in our shop. I'm really in love with this one. Oh, who am I kidding? I love everything I knit!

Friday, October 3, 2014

FO Friday: Hooded Scarf

I'm excited to be telling you about this one! A hooded scarf!

I saw the pattern and the yarn in my local yarn store and fell in love. The concept of a hood knit as part of a scarf is brilliant . . . at least I think so. I mean, you can wear this as a scarf but if it's lightly snowing or drizzling rain, pop up the hood and your head is protected. No having to remember a hat or worry about hat-head and flattened hair.

 The yarn is a lovely variegation of some of my favourite colours: purples that range from pink-y mauve to deep wine colours and greens that start at a light, bright green and range up to a lovely olive shade. Mix that with thin strands of charcoal and you've got a lovely mix of autumnal colours.

Aren't these colours gorgeous? Perfect for fall and winter.

This project knit up pretty quickly because it's in garter stitch. I knit both sides of the scarf at once to make it easier to join once I reached the desired length. I did make the hood a little longer than the pattern called for so the hood can be pulled forward further over the forehead if desired.

I love the way this turned out!

From the back: hood up, scarf tail tossed jauntily over one shoulder.