I Knew I Was Having a Slow Year….

I really had no idea how little I had accomplished from a crafting standpoint until, on a whim, I looked at my FOs for the year.

Considering I have, for the past several years, completed in the neighbourhood of 25 knitted projects over the span of the year, I’d say calling this one slow is a massive understatement.

I have, to date in 2015, completed exactly five projects.  This is unheard of.  I should be at a minimum of 14 by now, if I were on track for a “usual” year.  And in fact, two of these five are not even officially in the FO list because they have not been blocked and photographed.

Now, in my defence, there are other things I have been doing from a creative point of view.

I am in the midst of a sooper seekrit project that I cannot talk about for another while yet.

I have taken up hand dyeing and have dyed up about 20 skeins (plus a single braid of fibre) this summer…plus I have more undyed yarn winging its way to me as we speak.

I have done some spinning (although no plying and as such have also added almost no spinning FOs to my list, either!).  This is a lovely indigodragonfly braid I started for Tour de Fleece (don’t even get me started on how badly I did in keeping up with TdF this year!  Downright embarrassing…)

I took a sewing class, although, if I am honest I haven’t done a whole lot of that either.

And I sure as heck haven’t been blogging!

I wonder where my year has gone….?  Looks like I am going to have to get a severe case of finish-itis if I am going to make any progress this year at all.

The other option, I suppose, is to stop forcing it and just craft when I feel like it.  That’s a valid lifestyle choice, right?

New Pattern Release: Signal Hill

I love DK weight socks.  Love them.  They are warm and cozy in the winter, and as a product knitter, it pleases me that they are a fairly quick knit.  When looking for DK sock patterns to knit last year, I was surprised at the (relatively) small number of available patterns available…you know, when compared to fingering and sport weight sock patterns.

Earlier this year, Carla at Georgian Bay Fibre Company told me that she would be releasing a new DK yarn in the spring.  She then mentioned that this was a base with a difference: it had nylon, something that is lacking in so many DK weight yarns.  I could not help but jump at the chance to design some socks that would take advantage of her new Kilcoursie DK yarn.

So today, I am excited to introduce my cabled DK weight sock, Signal Hill. (Why yes, I am aware that my ex-pat is showing again!)

DSCF0749Lots of 1×1 cables mean that it’s intricate but that by cabling without a cable needle, it goes pretty darned quickly!  The pattern is for sale exclusively on Ravelry for now.  (Someday, I will figure out other pattern sites!)

Such an exciting start to my week!

Watchin’ The Weather

Pretty sure I have mentioned it before, but I love autumn.  I love the cooler weather and the colours of the changing leaves.  I love looking forward to Christmas (yes, I dared say that word with nearly three months left to go!) and I love being able to haul out my knitwear and wear other clothing more suited to 10 degrees Celsius instead of 30 degrees Celsius.

The arrival of autumn rejuvenates my knitting, too.  I don’t knit sweaters but while I love my knitted socks, I sometimes like looking for cute accessories to knit…preferably single skein projects that are quick and provide some sort of instant (or nearly instant) gratification.  I have so many cowls, and I look like such a dork in hats.  I mean it.  Hats…really not a good look for me.

I love my boots.  In fact, I wear them further into spring than I really should.  But when you only have a couple of pairs, it’s nice to change them up a bit.  In the spirit of casting on something cute and quick, and dressing up my boots, I decided tonight I’ll be casting on a pair of Jax.

With the number of grey projects I have cast on lately, a pair of these adorable toppers in green, or lilac or maybe even red might be just the thing to knit, and just the thing to have on hand when it gets a bit chillier in a month or two.

A Perfect Match

Yesterday, I received an awesome new project bag from Zig Zag Stitches and as it’s larger than my usual sock-sized bags, I immediately felt the need to cast something on so I could use it.

A while back, I made a road trip to Shall We Knit? and rid their sale closet of their entire stock of Eco Purity, a chunky wool/alpaca blend.  Nine of the fifteen balls I picked up were in a dark heathered grey called Coal, and I had decided to make a nice big cozy shawl from it, using Kate Atherley’s Rickenbacker shawl pattern.  (Truth be told, she had already made this combo for herself; I was merely copycat-ing her idea!)

Then last week, she released a worsted weight half-Pi shawl pattern she called Sick Day Shawl (she created it while she had a cold, and said it was easy enough to do even while doped up on cold meds!)  I have been wanting to cast it on ever since I saw it on her a couple of weekends ago.  I confess to liking “easy” knits since I knit in front of the TV a lot, and I never knit small shawls anymore because I so rarely wear them.  This seemed perfect.

Kate, by coincidence, is a huge Doctor Who fan, so it seemed fitting that my inaugural project for this awesome bag be one of her designs.

HalfPiA  chunky weight shawl on US10/6mm needles…I am thinking this is going to work up very quickly!

An Announcement, A Free Pattern and A Contest!!

For the past year or so, I have been steadily increasing my creative endeavours.  I have started dyeing my own yarn and fibre, albeit at this point in a mostly experimental fashion.  I have resumed spinning on my Lendrum wheel and produced some very happy-making results.  I have also started writing knitting patterns.  My first was a take on an ankle sock for (and named after) my friend Shireen, and my second is a simple textured sock for my husband, Chase.  My third, another sock pattern which is currently being test knit, is my first foray into designing with cables.  I have several more designs swimming about in my head, and those will come very soon, I hope.

While writing up the second pattern, Shireen and I talked about whether or not I wanted to stay with crystaldiva, (a name inadvertently given to me almost a decade ago by a client in Florida) or whether I wanted to rebrand to something that had a bit more meaning to me overall.

As most of you know, I am an ex-pat Newfoundlander, and if I am to be truthful, even after 14 years in the Toronto area, my heart still really belongs near the sea.  In fact, I grew up some 500 metres from the Atlantic in a tiny town near the capital city of St. John’s, where the town crest boasted “First To See The Sun”.

So today, I am excited to welcome you to First Light Handcrafts!

I am thrilled that the new name and the new look reflect my east coast heritage.  Even the iceberg that graces the top of my new blog is courtesy of my dad, Jerry, who is an amazing photographer of Newfoundland scenery.  (Go check out his artistry at his Pbase site!)

In honour of my rebranding, today I am releasing the sock pattern created for my husband.  It’s called “Petty Harbour”, after another of our favourite towns in the St. John’s area, and it looks great in solid, semi-solid or variegated yarns.

DSCF0047

It’s available for free here on Ravelry.

I am also holding a contest – a giveaway of a lovely skein of Sundara Sock yarn in a blue called “Wistful Longing” (anyone sensing a theme here?).

sundara

To enter, leave me a comment.  Tell me what you would do with the yarn, or what yarn you’d knit Petty Harbour from…or just say hi!  If you re-tweet or share this post, leave me a comment telling me that too, and I’ll enter your name more than once!  As my friend Carla says…stack the deck in your favour!  Contest closes on Friday the 19th.  Just make sure that I have some way of contacting you to get your mailing address.

I hope you’ll stick around; it’s shaping up to be a busy time!

FO: Patrick’s Watch Cap

A couple of years ago, a young colleague of mine admired a cowl I was wearing and mused that he’d love to have one.  I don’t tend to knit for just anyone, but a cowl requires so little work so I told him that if he was prepared to buy the (good quality) yarn, I’d knit it for him.  He didn’t bat an eyelash at the $30 a skein price tag, so I knit him a Stonehenge Cowl.  Every time he wore it, he came by my desk gushing about how much he loved it.

This same young man came to me a few weeks back and asked if he could commission a hat.  He, like my husband, has a particularly large head and told me that every commercial hat he tried on was too small.  I normally would have knit him the same hat that I have knit multiple times for Chase but because he wanted it less slouchy, I decided on the Squared Away Ribbed Watch Cap.  It’s been in my Ravelry favourites for a while; I liked it because of the originality of the crown decreases.

Generally speaking, the males in my life ask for things in various shades of brown, black and grey…but not Patrick.  He told me he wanted bright and colourful.  I sent him to the Madeline Tosh website and told him to pick a few colours – he chose a red, a green, an orange and a blue and upon calling Romni Wool, discovered that the only skein in stock of the four he had chosen was Baltic.  Done!  (The fact that I adore that colour was a lovely bonus!)

It took me a grand total of about a week to knit.  He wanted it to be good and long to cover his ears when folded up, so I knit it for as long as I thought I feasibly could before starting the decreases.

It turned out beautifully.  Plenty long enough to be folded up once or even twice if he wants.

Madeline Tosh Vintage in "Baltic"

Madeline Tosh Vintage in “Baltic”

And I can’t say enough about how much I adore the decreases in this hat.  So clever and I am totally enamoured with the result!

Thanks, Patrick for lending me your head! :-)

Thanks, Patrick for lending me your head! 🙂

Pattern: Squared Away Ribbed Watch Cap

Yarn: Madeline Tosh Vintage in “Baltic”

Who Was It Made For?  Patrick

Were There Changes Made To The Pattern?  No

Did I Learn Anything New?  No

Anything Else?  No

Would I Make Another?:  If I ever have the need to knit another worsted style hat, I will definitely use this pattern.  My only concern would the 96 stitch cast on, which might prove too large for some heads.

Road Trip!

On Saturday, at some ungodly hour, my dear friend Caryn and I set out for a day trip.  Destination?  The wilds of Haliburton and the home/studio of indigodragonfly yarns, for their 5th Annual Highland Fibre Fling.

photo 2

Kim and Ron open up their home on the third Saturday in August each year for friends and strangers alike to drop by and visit.  There is food, and drink…and this year, in celebration of their 5th Anniversary, there was even cake!  But, of course…it’s really all about friends…and the yarn.  Oh the gorgeous colours!  So many to choose from!

photo11

Marit, the creative mind behind Gobstopper, was in attendance, with a selection of her “cake-dyed”, gradient yarns.  Such lovely colours!

photo 1

And of course, no Fling is complete without the requisite piñatas!

Jenn (with Kim, right) holds the Elmo and Minion pinatas, moments before their untimely end!

Jenn (with Kim, right) holds the Elmo and Minion piñatas, moments before their untimely end!

Sadly, this year we didn’t get to take them outside…it was quite the rainy day.   But it turns out that modern day piñatas are rigged with handy ribbons and no longer require baseball bats, golf clubs or other bashing implements.  So fun was still had by all on the piñata front!

I had to have one of the 5th anniversary goodie bags:  a project bag containing a skein of CaribouBaa in a limited edition anniversary colourway called Cinco de Mine!, and some other goodies that included buttons, stitch markers and soak wash packets.

goodie_sm

Days with my knitting peeps…definitely fewer and farther between that I’d like, and totally worth the hours behind the wheel!

Exciting Times!

These past few months, my creative brain has been in overdrive. I credit some of that to hanging out with the multi-talented Shireen.  Spend a few evenings creating new things with her, and you start dreaming of what else you can accomplish.

In the past twelve months, just from a fibre standpoint, I have dyed some of my own yarn and fibre.  We started off with just experimenting with fabric dye, but since then I have played with acid dyes and have created some spin-able and knit-able pieces.  And I sincerely doubt I am done yet.

I have picked up spinning again and gotten surprisingly good at it, if my spinning teacher, Leslie is to be believed (and I believe she is).  In fact, she even thinks a couple of my skeins from Tour de Fleece should be entered in competition. Took a while for my ego to come down off that one, let me tell you!

I have gotten a loom and done a limited amount of weaving.  That is the activity that logistically is hardest to do just anywhere due to the need for a prop for the loom, so it tends to get ignored when I am deciding what craft to pursue in the evenings.

I have also self-published my first sock pattern.  Admittedly, it started out as a tool to help Shireen knit her own socks, but it was still a fun exercise and it encouraged me to keep going and create more designs.

All this is in addition to the (obviously decreased) knitting that I have been doing.  Since both of my parents have jumped on the “we love hand knit socks” bandwagon, and my husband has also decided that hand knit socks are something he was missing out on, socks have been practically the only things I have actually been working on.  In fact, I just finished my first pair for hubby and he loves them!  (More on that and my second pattern release soon!)

I have had several other patterns floating around in my head, based on somewhat of a theme; two of those have made it onto needles and one of those two is a bit behind schedule, but picking up again now.  I am enthused about that one for a number of reasons, none of which I can really talk about at the moment.

All that being said, changes are coming, and I won’t lie; I am pretty excited about them!

 

The Quest to Finish…Something

A few weeks ago I looked at my list of projects that I have cast on in the last *mumblety-mumble* months and found the number to be more than a bit jarring.  I seem to have “knitting ADD” lately…the minute something new and pretty comes along, I am off and my lovely WIPs are left languishing.  Right now, OTN, I have a collection of three fingering weight scarves…one of which has the distinction (?) of being my oldest WIP…cast on in January of last year.  There is my Colour Affection, which for some reason I never really got into, and another shawlette I was super excited about (love the pattern, adore the OOAK Tanis Fiber Arts yarn) and just put it down last fall, never to resume.  On and on it goes.

Shockingly, I only have two pairs of socks on needles, one of which is on 2mm needles and I think it intimidates me somewhat….again, a pattern I adored (Margaritaville by Adrienne Fong) but it has a 72-stitch cast on, ergo the small needles.  (I have little-ish feet).

The second pair is a pair of No Purl Monkeys in indigodragonfly MCN Sock (since renamed to Mergoat Sock) in “Don’t You Have An Elsewhere To Be”.  I cast these on last fall for the wedding of the indigodragonfly couple, Kim and Ron.  (The invitation said knitting was encouraged…I HAD to bring something!)  I knit the cuff and a single repeat, then put them down to knit socks for my parents for Christmas, and that, as they say, was all she wrote.

Kim and Ron are hosting their Annual Highlands Fibre Fling this coming weekend and I figured I’d resurrect them to bring as my “sit about and chat” project.  I dug them out of my WIP tote yesterday morning and started them up again.

It seems my finish-itis is in better shape than I might have thought.  By dinner time last night…the leg was done.

cordeliaMonkey

And before I went to work this morning, the heel flap was done, the heel was turned and the gussets stitches were picked up.  By the end of the evening, I am hoping to have all the gusset decreases done and be on the foot.

I am suddenly glad this is the first sock so I can have a second one on needles for Saturday.

On a not unrelated note…I wonder if this is the reason why, of twelve WIPs, only two are socks.