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.

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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!

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

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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.

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

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.

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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.

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!)

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.

 

It’s Nice to Have Goals

So on New Year’s Eve, I took a quick look at what I did in 2013, and mentioned there were some things I’d like to do in 2014.  I cannot say I actually set goals, because they were all pretty darned vague, and I would like to have something to work towards.

“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 will spin 5 times a week for the year; I am never going to get any good at this if I do it in constant fits and starts.  If I do keep to this, and I think it will improve my spinning, I will get a Woolee Winder in the spring.

“I have nine WIPs and four projects in “hibernation”, so I do need to get back at some of those.”  I will cut that number in half by January 1st, 2015 and have no more than 7 WIPS/hibernating projects at that time, whether I finish the ones I have on needles or frog them.

“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.”  For every two skeins I move into “All Used Up”, I can add one more to stash.  (This will be by far my most challenging goal, to be certain, as I am completely given to fits of “ooh shiny”!)

“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.”  This goal was nice and specific.

And there was one I forgot.  My dear friend Val has sent me three separate stashes of light fingering weight handspun over the past year…all gorgeous and all deserving of being knit into something awesome.  I have queued two of them and I will knit at least one of these projects this year.

So, goals for 2014…there they are.  I am not going to set goals of how many yards to knit or pounds of fibre to spin, mostly because I don’t want either of those activities to become a chore, and I fear that for me, goals that specific might make them so.

Let’s see how far I get with these 🙂

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

A couple of months ago, my amazingly talented friend Shireen, over at The Blue Brick gave me a stunning gift: a multi-stranded bracelet she had crafted from Swarovski crystals, inspired by her trip to St. John’s, Newfoundland, or more specifically Quidi Vidi Lake.

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Photo credit: Shireen X. Nadir of The Blue Brick

I fell in love with the piece the moment I saw her blog post about it, but as an ex-pat Newfoundlander, I was beyond touched when she gifted me with such beautiful, tangible reminder of home.

I have been wearing the bracelet with jeans and a brown blazer since I got it…but I felt there was something else needed to tie the outfit together.  I remembered a skein of yarn I saw on last year’s TTC Knitalong; it was a skein of Malabrigo Sock in a colourway called “Playa”, that was primarily navy blue and chocolate brown.  So I headed downtown this week to see if I could find it.

While hanging out at the Purple Purl on Tuesday, I ran across a braid of SweetGeorgia spinning fibre in a colourway called “Stillwater” that looked like it would fit the bill and asked the ladies there whether they had a skein of fingering weight yarn in the same colourway.  Amazingly enough, they had a single skein of Cashluxe Fine (20% cashmere….YUM!) in the exact same colourway, perfect for a pretty scarf.

A perfect match, no?

A perfect match, no?

So, I have the skein and have chosen what I think is an awesome scarf pattern, one that I have been in love with for about a year, and that I don’t think will fight with the variegation of this awesome colourway.  Now if only I didn’t have so many other things I need to finish first, because I am just itching to grab a needle and cast on!