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.

Book Launch! Rebrand! ZZzzzz…..

It’s rebranding week, it seems!  My dear friend, Shireen, who was almost entirely responsible for my new look last week, has now done a makeover on The Blue Brick.  It was lovely before; it’s even more gorgeous now!

Plus she has released an awesome update to her resin jewelry book.  Go take a look…it’s a wonderfully informative book just filled with more pretty than should be legal!

Book Launch! Rebrand! ZZzzzz…...

Congratulations, my friend! ❤

On Buying Patterns

So, Shireen and I were chatting the other day about number of patterns sold vs. number of Ravelry projects, and she commented that you could easily have far fewer projects on Rav than you have actual pattern sales.

“After all”, she said, “How many of the patterns that you have purchased have you actually knit?”

A fine question.  So in a bit of a lull I seem to be having today, I took a count.  I counted all patterns that I had purchased that had actually cost me something.  It included collections, but not books, and it didn’t include gifts from friends or from the designer herself.  Nor did it include paid patterns that were free due to a promotion or code or similar.

In my few years on Rav, I have personally purchased 84 patterns…and knit/started 13 of them.  Two of those were frogged before completion.

So that’s an average of about 1 pattern knit for every 7 I have purchased.  In some cases, I didn’t get to it right away, and my taste changed before I cast it on.  I bought a hat pattern for Chase who later decided he didn’t love it after all.  In some cases, I bought it and when I checked the construction or in the case of a sock, the size of the cast on, it just didn’t suit.  And in some cases, the pattern just sits in my queue…waiting.

One in seven.  I choose to see it as “supporting designers”.

But I still should get to knitting some of them.

Alvin Ramer

A lovely post from my friend, Shireen, about our road trip yesterday to visit with spinning wheel guru, Alvin Ramer.

The Blue Brick | Inspired Yarns


Last spring, Leslie, Rayna and I went to Colbourne Ontario, to meet Mr. Alvin Ramer. Mr. Ramer is, among many things, a spinning wheel guru, precious piece of Canadian history and, along with his wife Barbara Ann, a very wonderful person.

Sadly, Mr. Ramer is retiring from the wheel business. Last weekend the three of us made another trip, to see them, and wish them well, and also to relieve them of some of the contents of their barn. Between the three of us, we walked away with 2 spinning wheels (I’m in love, more on mine later!) a spinning chair (Mr. Ramer’s prototype of his original design) and a number of little things, including combs and spindles.

We will certainly be going back, not least because Mr. Ramer has kindly offered to repair my antique wheel. If you are interested in purchasing beautiful spinning equipment (some of which…

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A New Adventure

Last evening, Shireen offered to come over and help me get started warping my newly acquired loom.  Only fair when you consider that this is all her fault.  I kid, of course, but her enabling really is becoming quite legendary! 😉

She and Tito showed up, samosas and Indian sweets in hand, and the task of warping began with Game 7 of the Canadiens/Bruins series in the background.

I had watched an Ashford video yesterday on the subject so I did have some idea how the process worked, but having someone there who had done it a dozen times and totally knew what she was doing? Priceless!

She advised me to start off with a small worsted weight project to get my feet wet, and brought with her one of the skeins we hand dyed during our dye date last autumn.  We proceeded to set the loom up width-wise across my dining table and off we went.

Having a spare set of hands for this was awesome!

Having a spare set of hands for this part was awesome!

When we were done…this was what we had:

Warped Up and Ready To Go!

Warped Up and Ready To Go!

After weaving a few rows of “lead”, I started in earnest….just trying to get the motions down, and trying to keep the edges from looking like my dog had chewed them up!  I think that as this progresses, there will be a Zen-like relaxation that will come from this craft that will be similar to spinning (or, at least, similar to spinning when my newly spun yarn isn’t breaking due to fragility!)

I got this far before Shireen had one more lesson for me: hem stitching, which I am told will serve to keep the fringes in place later

Post Hem-Stitch weaving

Pre Hem-Stitch weaving

I actually really enjoyed the hem stitching, and after Shireen and Tito headed off for the night, I kept going just a little while longer.  I did find it gets addictive in the “just one more pass with the shuttle before I stop” sorta way.  In the cold light of day, I found I had woven quite a bit, considering how new I was at it.

Hem Stitched and all!

Hem Stitched and all!

I am sure it will take me a while before I am weaving scarves for 1000 yards of laceweight…but so far, so good!


Creativity is a Funny Thing

I have been involved in that conversation – the “what is creative, really?” debate – several times and in several places, with no real agreement among participants.  I, personally, never really considered myself a creative person.  As far as I was concerned, buying a knitting pattern and finding a skein of yarn to knit it with….not really all that creative.  Many people respectfully disagreed, for the record.  To me, creative requires vision, and imagination…and I really wasn’t sure I had either, to be honest.

Lately, things have been different.  I am finding myself interested in, well, creating.  Shireen taught me some polymer clay fundamentals a few weeks back, while her hubby Tito was showing me some copper metal work.

The makings of a copper bezel for a clay and resin insert.

The makings of a copper bezel for a clay and resin insert.

Clay work done without supervision (I really need to learn to take better pics!)

Polymer clay work done at a later date without supervision (I really need to learn to take better pics!)

I still need to play around with my copper wire and anvil to start making the shawl pins that started all of this!

I have been playing with design ideas for my own knitting patterns; in fact, I am looking at a series of them…who’da thought?!  I have been playing with kettle dyeing fibre, and hope to eventually dye some yarn.  (I don’t really have any sort of set up or training for hand painting yarn at the moment, but the kettle dyeing has been fun.)

I am super excited!  Tonight, I pick up a loom from someone here in Toronto who is destashing hers and hope to get a warping lesson from Shireen ASAP.

Still not sure where all of this is coming from, but I think I should enjoy it and take advantage of it while I can.

World’s Craftiest Weekend

It’s always fun and relaxing to spend the majority of the weekend crafting, but those full weekends come along far less often than I might like.  Getting to spend half that weekend with like-minded friends?  That happens even less often again.

Saturday saw all sorts of fun things, including spinning, knitting, weaving and dyeing.

Weaving…where shall I start?  First off, I blame Shireen, The Enabler.  She has been posting some of the most beautiful FO shots since acquiring her 20″ Ashford Knitters Loom about a month ago, and she has been regaling me with tales of how quickly these lovely items are going from skeins to wearable items.  I have a rather substantial number of single skeins of sock yarn and Kim at indigodragonfly has also been telling me for a long time that a great way to use some of these up is to get a loom, but I wasn’t sure weaving would be my thing.

Then, Shireen brought the loom over on Saturday and let me weave some of her leader, so as not to spoil her actual project.  I have to say that while I am sure that producing really nice clean looking edges and such takes some practice, the motions of weaving in and of itself really is pretty easy and the little bit I did led me to believe it could almost be as “zen” an activity as spinning.  (Disclaimer: I may be somewhat delusional!)

She has enabled me into looking seriously at acquiring a loom…so much so that I got a line on a second hand one by posting on Ravelry to see if someone had one to destash.  I will know more next weekend.

Shireen showed up at my place like she was moving in…there was the aforementioned loom, and wonderful Indian food, and decadent chocolate birthday cake for Leslie, but she also brought with her an entire set up for dyeing yarn.  I had a skein of yarn that I got in a swap that I was very unhappy with and I decided to overdye it to see if I could improve it.  I won’t mention the dyer name because it’s irrelevant and seems kinda uncool.  As it was, it took me a while to reconcile myself to doing it as it feels rather like defacing someone else’s art, but I digress.

The photo made it look pretty nice, if not insanely bright.  It was at least enticing enough to make me want to claim it in a Ravelry swap.

Original Skein

Original Skein

What was not clear in this photo was that the yellow-y lime sections had navy blue “smudged” over them, almost like the navy bled and stuck to the lime, rendering it sort of “dirty looking”.  I figured that perhaps overdyeing the skein with some blue might render the lime colour a darker green and I was right.  I kettle dyed the skein in a Crock Pot, using Jacquard acid dyes in a mixture of Sapphire and Turquoise (I didn’t bother to measure as I knew it wasn’t a recipe I’d ever need again).  I let it simmer away until the entire dye bath was exhausted, and hung it to dry.  Sunday morning, this was the result.

The "After" Shot

The “After” Shot

I still don’t love it, per se…but I sure like it a whole lot better.  Perhaps I’ll knit socks out of it, and then if I don’t love the colourway knit up, I’ll overdye the socks to make them even more green.  We shall see.


The Mid January Blahs

So, if any of you run into my knitting/spinning/fibre mojo, can you send it home please?  I believe it has hopped a plane for Cuba where it is sitting on a beach, drinking mojitos.  Because really, if you had that option, wouldn’t you??

I traditionally struggle with January and February.  I get a little blue and kinda lazy and it’s hard to pick myself up and do anything.  My friend Christina, over at Lone Maple Studio, blogged about this very thing this weekend.   In her case, a new hobby has taken her attention; in mine, I am looking into new hobbies in hopes that something grabs my attention because my interest in my current habits is definitely waning.

Last year, I purchased a couple of Craftsy classes, including a class on Lace Shawl Design.  In an attempt to engage my brain in something interesting, I finally hit it the play button on it and started watching.  It’s interesting so far.  Miriam Felton, the instructor, has talked yarn and needles and yarn overs and decreases…and now we are at the part where we are charting stitch patterns from stitch dictionaries.  I may have given in and purchased a recommended one from Abebooks – one of the Barbara Walker treasuries.  I also may have gone to Staples for graph paper, and a new note book because what troubles can’t be solved with yarn can frequently be solved with office supplies.

Additionally, my friend Shireen dropped by for a bit of a knit night on Friday, and she and her metal-working hubby, Tito had picked me up a little gift while shopping that day:  the cutest teensiest, tiniest jewelery anvil you ever saw.  Looks like this and fits in the palm of my hand:


This acquisition meant that I needed to stop by Bead FX on Saturday to add a chasing hammer to my collection of tools, so I can get practicing at some simple metal forging.  I grabbed some 16 gauge wire, and am now going to start looking at creating some fibula pins, and maybe eventually learn how to do more complicated things.  I did get a book from my mother in law for Christmas called “Simple Soldering”…that would be next.

So, while I did a very small amount of knitting this weekend and no spinning at all, I did spend an inordinate amount of time designing lace cowls in my head, and hanging out on Pinterest, looking for shawl pin ideas.

Maybe this is one of those “If life hands you lemons” things.

The State of the Fibre

(I’d have said “The State of the Knitting”, as ganked from my friend Jocelyne, but it seemed more appropriate to include spinning in this update!)

I did a quick count this morning, and I completed 27 projects this year.  That’s one shy of the 28 I completed last year.  But when one considers that last year I did 12 cowls, and this year I did 15 pairs of socks, I am okay with that.

On quick count, those projects included:

  • the aforementioned 15 pairs of socks (7 of which were gifts, 1 of which was a sample knit for a the Rock and Roll Collection by Kate Atherley, and 2 of which were my own design which I published in December, Shireen)
  • 3 cowls
  • 5 hats
  • 1 pair of mitts
  • 1 shawlette (test knit)
  • 1 TARDIS dishcloth
  • 1 Calorimetry hairband

My goal had been to knit six pairs of socks this year…and I had exceeded that before the first of June.

Another goal I had had at the beginning of the year had been to learn colourwork, but realized somewhere along the way that I was not really all that interested in it just now, so I let that one slide.

I had planned on doing more spinning and started off the year that way, but the minute it got even slightly warm, the wheel got put aside.  I am planning to start spinning again in January and am considering saving up for a Woolee Winder to make my spinning that much easier.

I have nine WIPs and four projects in “hibernation”, so I do need to get back at some of those.  I am also planning to knit from stash a bit more.  I added quite a bit towards the end of the year, factoring in several yarn-y gifts, and I have some great plans for some of those skeins.

My last goal of the year…to at least start, if not complete, my first sweater.  I have two sweater quantities, a coupon for Custom Fit (kindly given to me by my friend, Jenn) and measurements taken for me by Kim.  All I need to do now is do some new swatches and I’ll be ready to go.

What are your yarn/fibre goals for 2014?