Sunday, March 8, 2009

I've moved!

Hello all - sorry for the radio silence for the last while (catastrophic computer meltdowns make it difficult to get all bloggy). But I'm back with a quick announcement - I 've made the switch to wordpress. This is my new home. I've been thinking that I needed a fresh start and maybe a new blog direction for a while now - I feel guilty about not blogging, but get frustrated when I do. I blog about knitting, but I want to branch out a little - maybe through some of my life in there, some photographs (my other favourite thing to do) and whatever stikes my fancy. So, a switch I made. I hope you'll come a long!

Come and visit!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Whoo, whoo

Okay, so this "post more often" thing hasn't exactly panned out lately. But, here I am, with a new project to tell you about (and a few more waiting for their turn).

Since last we met, my needles have been furiously clickety-clacketing along and I've managed to turn out a couple of projects. The project that I'm most pleased with is my Owl sweater. When it came time to choose a calendar for 2009, I knew that this would be the year of the owl. I love owls. So, with a Great Horned Owl gazing out at me from the kitchen bulletin board, I set out to search for a new project. Then I found it, the Owl sweater. Perfect.
I love this sweater. A lot. It was a big departure for me in terms of yarn weight and needle size - I must admit, it is pretty sweet to watch a sweater just fly off the needles. This was my first go with a bulky yarn and I enjoyed it. This is a great yarn - soft, chunky, super cosy, but not heavy. The itch factor that I always associate with bulky yarns (probably unfairly) is happily absent. It also has nice stitch definition and shows off the cables well. So, a pleasant yarn and big needles, coupled with a good pattern made for a happy knitting experience.
It's the design elements of this pattern that really made me happy - I like the fit first and foremost. It's a body conscious design - close fitting, but flattering thanks to the clever use of shaping in the back and the short rows under the bust and along the neck in the back. I lengthened the body and the arms to suit my preference, other than those minor mods, I knit it as is. I'm also in love with the cabled yoke - it's like a nice parade of owls. It's a fairly straight forward cable and it may very well make an appearance in another form in the near future, so stay tuned. The fact that this sweater is knit in the round makes me love it even more. I hate seaming and cannot understand knitting anything in pieces that could be knit in the round. The only seaming necessary were the two gaps under the arms. Sweet.

To give those owls their peepers, I sewed on the buttons using embroidery thread that matched the yarn as closely as I could. I apologize for the lack of cable close-ups, but I live in a black hole and it's been gloomy around these parts lately. The sewing on of the eyes took me forever. I am not a speedy sewer by any means, and I wanted to make sure that I did a good job. It must have gone alright as none of the little guys looks noticeably bug-eyed.
In our next installment we will explore a winter necessity - the hat, both knit and sewed.

Monday, January 5, 2009

I've been hibernating

Where does the time go? I swear, last time I looked, Christmas was on the horizon, holiday parties were starting to pop up and I was in the midst of gift knitting. I hope everyone had a good holiday with lots of tasty eats, family and friends. And knitting, lots of knitting.

I swore that this year I wouldn't knit for anyone - too much work, too much stress, not enough appreciation, blah, blah, blah. Then I got an email from my dad telling me how much he was looking forward to his Christmas socks and how his partner loved last year's socks so much - what's a girl to do? Knit some socks of course. Socks that I knit, wrapped and delivered without taking a single photograph. Awesome. Take my word for it, they were plain, but handsome socks - good for hiking, which is what those folks like to do. They were well received and next year I'll know better.

There was a lot of knitting this Christmas. Lots of last minute I-will-finish-this-before-the-29th-if-it-kills-me variety. You see, It all started with the Laminaria shawl that I knit for myself. My globetrotting friend was home for one of her infrequent visits and was admiring it. Would I make her one she asked, sure I said. And so it began. I started in late September and worked away on it in fits and starts, all with the intention of mailing it to her when it was finished. Then came the surprise Christmas visit and the shawl was so close, but not quite done. I was knitter obsessed. I was driven. I was sick of looking at this lacy purple beast and I wanted it gone. So I knit. I knit the full shawl version in the Fleece Artist's Suri Blue. This time around I knit it up on 4.5mm needles and was much happier with the result - slightly more open, but not too fluttery, if that makes any sense. It blocked beautifully and my friend was thrilled. Of course, I don't have any photos of it either. She has promised to take some pics for me in the foreign and exotic places she'll be travelling to in the coming year - knits on the move!

Lest you think that I spent my holidays knitting undocumented items for people who live far away, behold! Another neck warmer!

But not just any neck warmer - I knit this out of some luscious, luscious yarn that I've been hoarding for just the right project. For Christmas this year I gave myself a copy of Luxury Yarns One-Skein Wonders. What a great book. I am a collector of single skeins of yarny goodness. After a while, a girl likes to actually use those single treasures and this book has a lot of good ideas for yarns ranging from lace weight to bulky. I chose Cheryl Oberle's Yak Neck Cuff. I wasn't seduced by the name, but the picture. It just looked so soft and cozy and I decided I too must make one. I modified the pattern to knit in the round on 4mm 16inch circulars needles and had to fiddle a bit to get the knitting to match up with the project photo. And, true to the title, I used the entire skein. The entire skein. I may have had 3 inches left over after I wove in the ends, I didn't want to waste an inch.

The yarn I chose is Fibre-Isle International's Mooi- a medium weight blend of bamboo, bison and cashmere. It's pretty much like knitting with a little bit of heaven. Something this soft absolutely belongs next to the skin. There are several things that I love about this yarn - the combination of the rich colour, the sheen of the bamboo and the fuzzy halo of the bison is fabulous. It knits up into deliciously fat stitches and has a lovely drape. It also light weight and quite warm and as such I think this yarn would be best suited to projects like scarves or simple shawls. Because it's pretty fabulous on it's own, I would keep the stitch pattern uncomplicated- maybe a simple cable or something of that nature. I really can't say enough how much I enjoyed this yarn, if you can get your hands on some, do it. But don't be fooled by the picture, I'm not keeping the neck warmer, it's going to be gifted to a friend in the near future. I was thinking of her when I cast on, and am hopeful that she'll enjoy wearing it as much as I enjoyed knitting it. If not, I'll steal it back ;)

Well, Happy New Year from TBL and hopefully this year will bring all of you peace, joy and good knitting.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Winter has arrived

Winter has made it's presence felt this past weekend - blowing in with 30cms of snow and some nippy temperatures. What's a knitter to do? Knit a neck warmer of course!

I decided that it was time to dip into the stash and make myself a quick and cosy project - a cowl was just the thing to help me use up some of those odds and ends. I used three strands of DK weight yarns (Fleece Artist leftovers of blue face Leicester and a kid/silk blend that I've had for ages. No really - I think it might have been one of the first skeins that I ever bought as a knitter) and an 8mm circular needle. I used seed stitch for the edges to prevent curling and plain ol' knitting for the body. I love it. It's thick, soft, drapey and a whole lot of neck-warming awesomeness.

Not content to just wear it around my apartment, I wanted to put it to the test:

Success! I now understand why people like these things so much. I can see more of these little stash busters in my future (and maybe under someone else's Christmas tree). It is one insulating cowl. It kept me cosy while I tromped through the snowy woods.

After my snowy winter hike, I think I need legwarmers to keep the ankles warm. Maybe.

Stay warm and happy knitting!

Monday, November 17, 2008

All apologies. . . .

. . . I didn't intend to be away this long. Really. Just until I have something to blog about I told myself, you know, something interesting, then I'll post. Well, that didn't work out like I planned. But I am here now, with progress, even if it is the stockingette-in-the-round variety.

I mentioned in my last post, what seems like a thousand years ago, that I had a hankering for a new sweater and was soon to cast on for one. I wanted a warm, comfy, practical sort of sweater. You know the kind - just roomy enough to pull on over a long sleeved t-shirt, but not a shapeless sack, looks good with jeans, not too fancy but not so dull to knit that you want to poke yourself in the eye. You know that sweater, everyone has one. I chose Salina by Kim Hargreaves in Rowan's Vintage Knits. It's has what I'm looking for - so far. I haven't quite finished it yet - all that remains is a sleeve and some sewing, but as it's so close to the end, I figure I'll share my thoughts with you anyway.

This is my first Rowan experience both in terms of pattern and yarn. It seems like Rowan inspires a great deal of knitterly loyalty, bordering on cult status at times and I had to see what I was missing. I've checked out their patterns before and generally like the simplicity and classic quality of their garments, but hadn't knit any, for whatever reason. I like the styling of the photo layouts in Vintage Knits and the colour of the yarn for Salina (and for the record, the yarn colour is not officially Swamp Pickle as I had been calling it, but Avocado). I even used the Rowan yarn called for in the pattern (Felted Tweed) which is not something I generally do, but I figured go big or stay home.

The pattern is well written and I've followed it almost exactly as written. Almost I say because I cannot bring myself to knit flat what can easily be knit in the round. This is my one gripe with Salina. The sweater has minimal shaping which is the same for both the front and back pieces - why not knit it in the round and save yourself the hassle of all that sewing and seaming? While it may take longer to cast on and get going, it's worth it to my view as it saves me from the tediousness of the finishing. I knit it in the round to the armhole shaping, the separated for the front and the back. Easy peasy. I knit the sleeves in the round too, using a provisional cast on so as to avoid sewing the cuffs to the sleeve. It just made more sense to me to do it that way, rather than knitting the cuff separately and sewing it on. Too much extra work.

The yarn itself is nice, a nice ratio of soft to scratchy, and I like the bits of blue that show up here and there in the midst of the avocado. It knits up nicely and I do like tweediness of it, it feels very fall-ish to me. However, I feel like I must mention the knots. Knots happen. I know this, I've mostly accepted it, but when each of the 6 balls that I've used so far has had one, and sometimes more, I become less understanding. It is particularly irksome when the knotty yarn is the product of a "big name" with designer status. Perhaps I got an unlucky lot, but it doesn't make me want to buy it again, pleasing soft/scratchy ratio aside.

With my sweater almost finished, a new winter coat bought and winter on it's way, I need some snazzy new accessories! I've taken an inventory and I am sad to report that I have only 2 knit scarves - lacy silk ones at that! I need something cozy and warm to keep the chill off and I think the stuff below just might do the trick:

It's soft, bulky, green and alpaca. Perfect! Now I just need to find the right pattern . . . .

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fall - the Best Season

I love fall - it is by far my favourite season. The colours, the cool, crisp air, it's an all around awesome time of year. Naysayers will point out that fall is quickly followed by winter, the longest, coldest season, but fall is where it's at. What's not to love about crinkling leaves underfoot? Wood smoke in chilly night air? Unexpectedly warm afternoons? Tasty warm beverages? It's all good according to us here at TBL. I took these photos on an afternoon hike on the Thanksgiving weekend. It was a beautiful day - gorgeous colours and warm sunshine. It was the colours that inspired me to knit these:

These are Nutkin socks by Beth LaPensee, knit up in Fleece Artist merino sock yarn that's been marinating in my stash for ages. The pattern is, as LaPensee suggests, easy to memorize and quick to knit. I enjoyed pattern/colourway combination immensely. I did make a few modifications to the pattern - I used 2.25mm dpns, substituted a flap heel for the short row heel and a round toe for the short row toe. Hmm, it seems that I wasn't feeling the short row love this time around.
I'm pretty happy with these socks, they already have good memories attached to them - I knit most of the first one at the Maritime Fall Fair while watching large horses pull large wagons while I ate some tasty, tasty fudge. A good way to spend an evening if I do say so myself. My only issue is with the fit of the sock - I have found that they tend to twist slightly on the leg. I like to have my socks stay in one place and I wonder if a ribbed cuff instead of the folded cuff would help to keep the sock in line so to speak. A minor quibble as I am pretty pleased with them.
So, it's almost Halloween, it's almost November - it must sweater season. I've got one in the works - do you?

Friday, October 10, 2008

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a WIP

A small project to keep me from succumbing to lace overload. Stay tuned for the finished object.