It’s beginning to look a lot like…

Actually, no, it’s not.  And it’s not feeling much like it either.

I was saying yesterday on one of the Ravelry boards I participate in that, in spite of the fact that I have everything to be happy about this year, I have no Christmas spirit at all.  None.  And it seems I have several friends in the same headspace, which is stranger still.

I am listening to Christmas music every day in my office.  One of the benefits to working from home: you aren’t bothering anyone else with your musical choices.

I have done no baking.  In fact, my mom showed up with a crate of it for me the other day, saying that because I am working full time and we are just finishing up the house, I probably don’t have time to do any baking.  She is right…the fact that I have totally lacked the inclination is an altogether different matter.

There is no decorating done beyond the tree and some lights that my husband put up outside.  He is pretty excited to have a house for Christmas.

Packages were sent this week to people in Ontario, and one of hubby’s gifts just got ordered on Monday.  I know it will get here before next week, but still…

Maybe 11 degrees Celsius and rain just isn’t conducive to Christmas spirit for me?  That was the weather here on Monday.  Maybe, as someone so kindly pointed out on the aforementioned Ravelry board, I am just plain exhausted.  It has not exactly been an uneventful year.

Last night I decided to cast on a new project.  None of the dozen or so I had on needles were calling to me at all, and I wanted something bright and cheerful, darn it!!  So I hauled out my bin of wound yarn and saw my skeins of Turtlepurl Striped Turtle Toes, in “Polly Wanna Cracker?”.  Orange, yellow, green and blue.  Perfect.  Just the colours to lift my spirits.

While polishing off season 1 of The Blacklist (OMG, SO good!!) I got a big chunk of the leg done.

Plain Vanilla Sock in Polly Wanna Cracker?

Plain Vanilla Sock in Polly Wanna Cracker?

In the mean time, I ask this question…what do you do to get into the holiday spirit?

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!

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.

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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?).

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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!

So much going on…

And so little I can really show or write about 🙂

I have a freebie sock design completed, photographed and laid out, and being test knit as we speak.  A second design has been drafted and test knitters are all lined up!   A few more designs are spinning about in my head and will have to wait just a little longer.

While all this is ongoing, most regular knitting has been suspended with the exception of my indigodragonfly No Purl Monkeys.  These things really just knit themselves!

Sock 1 complete!

Sock 1 complete!

I am actually ready to start the heel flap on Sock #2 and plan to have these done soon so they will be ready for when the weather turns.  Until today’s 30 degree high, there are many that might have argued that had already happened, but I digress.

I have also done little to no spinning.  That has to be remedied soon so as not to lose the consistency I have gained.  Plus I really miss the soothing, zen feeling that it brings.

What have you been doing now that autumn is just around the corner?

FO: Hermione’s Everyday Socks

I think everybody has a “go-to” sock pattern…one they can knit with their eyes closed, or at least without ever having to pick up the pattern.  (If you read Knitting to Stay Sane, for example, you know that Glenna C.’s is Jaywalkers!)  Hermione’s is mine.  The texture keeps it from being as boring as plain sockinette (although as anyone who knows me can attest, I have no objections to knitting plain stockinette in the round!) while being simple enough to be my “knit in coffee shops and in front of the TV” knitting.

I almost feel funny blogging about them, as they are my fifth pair of socks (in 18 months) made with this pattern, but it is the first time I have ever used Fleece Artist Trail Socks.  I picked up a skein of November Sky from a Ravelry destash.  To this day, I am not sure why – completely not my colour set but I thought it might be nice to break out of my rut.

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Now, when I really began knitting less than four years ago, I was one of those that could not understand why anyone would pay so much money for sock yarn.  And worse, I liked the stuff with the cashmere…even though it was another $5-$8 a skein.  But “oh noes!! Expensive yarn and all that time…to put on your feet??  Are you insane?”  Turns out, I was!  I blame my friend Liz, and my great teacher, Kate Atherley for making me a sock knitter.

After spending some time actually knitting socks, though, I realized that yes, while the socks with cashmere were yummier and more squooshy, the 80/20 (or 75/25) blends of merino nylon do wear an awful lot better.  So I set out to find some good, sturdy-yet-comfy sock yarns.  I have tried several but my two favourites so far have been indigodragonfly’s Merino Nylon Sock, and Tanis Fiber Arts’ Blue Label.  These two bases are completely different from one another and I like them both for totally separate reasons.  Trail Socks feels very much like Blue Label, both while knitting and after the fact.  In fact, so similar are they, in the tactile sense, that I’d think they were the same base.  However, the yardage stated on the label of each skein suggests otherwise.

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In any case, it was quite pleasant to knit with and the resultant fabric is nice and comfy.  And I am really in love with the colours.  I am looking forward to having these when the leaves start turning.

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Pattern: Hermione’s Everyday Socks by Eric Lueder

Yarn: Fleece Artist Trail Socks in November Sky

Who Was It Made For?  Me

Were There Changes Made To The Pattern?  I don’t even remember what the pattern looks like anymore!

Did I Learn Anything New?  No

Anything Else?  Not that I recall.

Would I Make Another?:  I am sure I’ll have another pair finished by Christmas.

(Photos courtesy of Shireen, over at the Blue Brick!)

FO: Vintage Lace Socks

Earlier this year, my friend Carla launched Georgian Bay Fibre Company, a hand-dyed yarn company that dyes exclusively BFL and BFL blends, and takes its inspiration from the beautiful scenery of Georgian Bay.

Her sister, Christina, also a long time friend, was designing some patterns for her (my favourite kind: socks!) and asked if I’d be so kind as to test knit for her.  The first one I tested was a knit and purl design called Squadron Socks; it was a lovely pattern but that pair never got completed as I made a very poor choice in yarn and it really didn’t suit.  I plan to knit them again in a semi solid, when I get a chance.

Her second design was a much bigger success for me, and (because?) this time I chose to knit it in Carla’s Kilcoursie Fingering yarn.  The colourway I chose was her 2014 Colour of the Year, called Wakefield Lilac, and I could not have been happier with how they turned out.

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Vintage Lace Socks have a lovely delicate lace panel down the outside of the foot, front and back, and the result is beautifully feminine.  It was a nice relaxing knit, once I was able to memorize the lace pattern.  (I don’t immediately see past the single YOs and SSKs to see what the pattern is doing and until then, I rely heavily on the chart!)  I did have a heck of a time with the YOs….at least a couple of times a repeat I found myself having to pick up a missed YO…a hazard when one knits lace in front of the TV, I guess 🙂  And the colour is totally reminiscent of the lilacs that grew every spring in my grandmother’s yard.

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I always like knitting socks in the summer because it means that come autumn, I have new socks to wear when the weather turns cool 🙂  I am really excited to have these ready to go for September.

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Pattern: Vintage Lace Socks by Christina Bossart

Yarn: Georgian Bay Fibre Company’s Kilcoursie Fingering (BFL/nylon blend) in Wakefield Lilac

Who Was It Made For?  Test knit/Me

Were There Changes Made To The Pattern?  I did make the toe a little wider (the pattern says to stop when there are 8 stitches on each needle, but the top of my foot is somewhat square so I stopped at 10)

Did I Learn Anything New?  No

Anything Else?  Not that I recall.

Would I Make Another?:  Yes

(Photos courtesy of Shireen, over at the Blue Brick!)

A Knitting Bucket List

So…I was bored the other day and started meandering about in WordPress.  A blog post caught my eye…a post by The Mad Knitter called “Knitting Bucket List”.  Considering how many things I see and ooh and aah over, I wondered if I really had a knitting bucket list and if I didn’t…perhaps I should.  Sadly, while Ravelry has favourites and a queue, it doesn’t really have a spot for that, but I digress.

I think a bucket list should be “stretch” goals.  I mean, sure, my queue has lots of things I’d like to knit.  That’s what my queue is for.  For me, a bucket list would contain patterns that I love that would contain something I deem to be a real challenge for whatever reason.

So I started thinking…what would I put on my knitting bucket list?  The very first thing that sprang to mind?  The socks that made me become a sock knitter three years ago, and that I still have not got the courage to start: Kate Atherley‘s  My Vampire Boyfriend.  I fell in love with these the moment that I saw them, all pretty and red and heart-y and cable-y.  They are basically Rayna in a sock.  Yet…each time I contemplate casting them on, I freeze and cast on something simple instead.

How awesome are these?? (Photo by Sarah Fay from Knitty.com)

On the shawl side of things…I’d have to go with Lucy Hague’s Taliesin.  My friend Jocelyne linked to it on a Ravelry board that she and I moderate together and I literally gasped out loud.  Now this one, I actually have the pattern for.  Shireen decided she was going to knit it and sent it to me as a gift with the three word message, “Misery loves company”, a reflection on how hard it was going to be, not the finished item, of course.

Just look at all that Celtic knotwork! (Photo courtesy of lucyhague.co.uk)

Also on the shawl front is Cheryl Oberle’s Irish Diamond Shawl.  I fell in love with this one as my friend Caryn made one years ago and wore it to work with great frequency for a long time.  It’s so pretty but SO huge.  I expect I’d buy a commercial yarn just so that I didn’t have to worry about obtaining five or six matching skeins of indie dyed yarn to make up the prescribed 2200 yards of yarn.  I can’t imagine having to alternate skeins on this pattern.

The last thing on my bucket list?  A sweater for me.  This is another area in which I have no excuse.  I have a code that was a gift from my friend Jenn for a Custom Fit sweater by Amy Herzog, a set of Custom Fit measurements just waiting to be entered into the software and not one but two sweater quantities of yarn.  For some reason, I balk at the thought of casting it on.  I think I have lived for so long with the fear of spending all that time knitting something that won’t fit, that I can’t bring myself to believe those who say that the Custom Fit software makes all of those fears null and void.  I am a knitting wuss…there, I said it.  Someday, I’ll get brave enough to start.  Today is not that day.  Tomorrow is not looking good, either!

So…what’s on your knitting bucket list?