Thursday, February 6, 2014

It's National Sweater Day


How lucky are we in Canada that we actually get an whole day devoted to the sweater? The World Wildlife Fund invites us today to help to lower carbon dioxide emissions by lowering our thermostats 2 degrees (celsius) and throw on a sweater instead.  I love this initiative.  My father was always a big proponent of bundling up in the winter, instead of trying to heat our home to tropical standards.  Though as a teenager I complained (sometimes bitterly) I've come to love being able to bundle up in a big sweater, sipping a big glass of wine cup of tea, especially if that's accompanied by some knitting.  (Some trashy tv and chocolate are often in the mix as well.)  There's something comforting in putting on layers and keeping cozy while the winds blow outside.  

As an aside, if I could choose to snap my fingers and have a handknit ready for me to put on in honour of NSD today, this is the pattern I'd choose: 


What would yours be?  I'd love to hear which is your go-to sweater, handknit or no, for the serious cold.  And now I encourage you to throw on that favourite cold-weather-busting item, turn down the heat and take up the challenge. The planet will thank you.  

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Easy As Pie Cowl


My friend Heather is a great dresser.  It's not so much that every time I see her I think "I wish I was wearing that" but that she has a great sense of style and that she knows what looks good on her.  I like to think that throughout my adult life, I've been taking baby steps toward my own happy place with what I wear.  (I'm a really visual person, so Pinterest has been a god-send for me for this kind of thing.)  This winter, several times I've had knitter's envy when Heather has worn a particular accessory: a rolled-edge charcoal cowl.  It looks so cozy, sits with perfect drape, and looks totally hand knit.  Not so, she told me when I asked, she picked it up somewhere.  Naturally, my first thought was "I could knit that."

Knowing well that I am an obsessive knitter, Heather wasn't terribly surprised when I asked if I could take a look at the item.  I measured, counted stitches and took some photos.  

Later that evening, I'd come up with my own version, which I've just realized can actually qualify as my VERY FIRST KNIT DESIGN---woot!  I've dubbed it the Easy As Pie Cowl, and it absolutely is.  I'm happy to share it here, in case anyone else would like to copy Heather's look:
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Easy As Pie Cowl

one size
Yarn: Super Bulky weight yarn (I used the always affordable and sturdy Lion Brand Thick & Quick, 6 oz and 108 yds per ball, but you can use whatever you like)
Needles: 10mm circulars, 16 inches
Gauge: Okay I haven't quick calculated gauge yet for this project, but it's not too important for this one. 
Notions: Stitch marker if desired, to mark beginning of row.

Cast on 72 stitches and join in the round being careful not to twist your stitches at the join.  Continue in stocking stitch until you have approximately enough yarn remaining for a bind off row.  (You'll have to eyeball this...) 

Bind off loosely.  Sew in ends.  Enjoy.

I wore mine right away but feel free to block it if you like.  

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This is the first pattern I've ever actually written up.  It's a simple one, but please let me know if there is a problem with it, and please, if you do decide to make the EAP cowl, send me a pic of your finished object.  :)

  





Thursday, January 9, 2014

Out For a Rip


Hello again and happy new year.  :)

Every January I breathe a sigh of relief.  As much as I enjoy the holidays (and I really do!) it always feels great to get the tree down, the decorations put away, and to get rid of all the lists (groceries, gifts, to-do, etc) that I frenetically wrote and tried to complete throughout December.  Inevitably, one of those lists is "Things I must finish knitting."  Like most of the knitting ilk, I had quite a few hand-knits on my list this year to be given.  Thankfully, they were all for my immediate family, who are extremely forgiving when it comes to belated Christmas knits.  

The title of this post refers to the recurring theme in my knitting over the last month: ripping back.  (Ugh.)  I had been going great guns, completing a turban-style headwrap, 2 chunky cowls, an enormous chunky-knit infinity scarf for my middle daughter, a cute little sweater for my nephew and 3 little christmas ornaments for my girls when things began to get ugly.  




The first incident was pretty minor.  I was a couple of feet into the Meringue Cowl when I noticed an error in the brioche stitch a few inches back.  For whatever reason, rather than just looking up "How to correct an error in brioche stitch" I decided it would be simpler just to knit backwards for a few inches.  Simpler? Maybe.  More tedious? Definitely.  But job done, it was fixed and on I went.



Then, after feeling quite smug about having quickly knitted up a size 4 top-down Caelum sweater for my little nephew, I got started on the size 8 version for his sister.  I was blazing along, making great progress and closing in on the waistband ribbing when I spotted what I quickly realized was a fatal error in the collar.  When I'd joined in the round, I'd over-lapped the shawl collar backwards so that the button holes were on the bottom.  I know, I could have just used smaller buttons, and squeezed them through makeshift holes that I'd stretched out, but it irked me so much I decided to tear the whole darn thing out.  There were still 5 days left before the gift had to be given---I could still finish right? Of course I had to fit in all the other last-minute Christmas stuff and work too, among other things, so alas, my little niece got an "IOU one sweater" note with the rest of her gift.  

On Christmas morning my daughter Bronwyn opened her infinity scarf, and she loved it.  Like the Meringue cowl, it was also done in a lofty, squeezable brioche stitch and was particularly soft and cozy.  I was pleased she was pleased.  But a couple of days later, she came to me with a small concern---when she doubled up the scarf to wear it close to her neck, she felt a little as though she was in a neck brace.  The scarf was just a little too wide to be able to be worn comfortably.  She showed me and I agreed.  

The scarf had knitted up very quickly on super-bulky yarn, so I offered to just make it over again, at about half the width.  I'd planned to tear out the entire thing and make the world's biggest ball of yarn, but rather than ripping the entire thing back, I quickly realized that I can just knit right off the old scarf as I make the new one.  



Fortunately, I've never been one to get too worked up about having to rip things back.  I like knowing that I can fix errors, and that I'll be satisfied with the end product.  Besides, I try to remind myself, I like to knit.  What's a little more of it?  

I'll throw the question out there though: how comfortable are you ripping out a project once it's under way? Do you see it as a complete fail, a do-over, or is the whole notion too frustrating to imagine---once you've started there's no going back?  I'm curious.

Though this has nothing to do with needles and yarn, given the topic and the temperature, I'll close with this link which has been making the rounds on Youtube in Canada (especially down Ontario-way).  For you non-Canadians, here's a little peek into a pocket of beloved Canadian subculture.  Virtually everyone I know who has seen this says "I went to school with a bunch of guys who were EXACTLY like that," or "OMG that's like everyone from Renfrew!" (or insert of pretty much any small rural Canadian town).  Apologies in advance for the language (or if you're from Renfrew).




   P.S. The video doesn't seem to want to show up on phones and tablets, so here's the link instead: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-glHAzXi_M

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Love of Linen

I've been going through a bit of a knitting slump in the last little while.  This usually happens to me a few times a year; not that I stop thinking about all the knitting that I want to do, but just that the actual knitting time in my day falls short.  Up to a couple of days ago, we were enjoying blissfully warm and sunny weather around here so my afternoons and early evenings were spent in the backyard soaking it all up.  Combine this with the my most recent project's snag (more on that in a later post) and and I've been reluctant to pick up the needles.  That is, until I saw this...


Quince & Co did a wonderful job building anticipation of the Knitbot Linen collection by Hannah Fettig.  This picture above, makes me swoon - the colours are beautiful and you can almost feel the softness of the yarn as you look at this stack of Q & Co's Sparrow, a beautiful fingering weight yarn in organic linen.

A few days later, this arrived on my newsfeed and I was sold:


This most recent collection of Fettig's patterns makes me happy on so many levels.  They are simple and classic yet the pattern and yarn combination gives them interesting drape and an overall gorgeous look.

Now, just to decide on what I will knit from this collection.  My plan is to make this a 'road trip project' as our family is headed out to the east coast at the beginning of our summer vacation this year.  After knitting many projects for others, this special knit will be just for me.  I'm really drawn towards the two cardigan patterns - something to cover up a sleeveless summer dress or keep my arms warm on a breezy summer evening.




The Lineal and Brise cardigans are both beautiful.  The lightness of Lineal would finish off a great layered look and the more substantial Brise would be so casual and comfortable, yet still modern and chic.  As you can see, I'm still on the fence.  What do you think? Suggestions for colour choice are welcome too!

Here's a shot from my backyard, with a little of what's been distracting me from my knitting over the last couple of weeks.  Can you blame me?



                                                                                            -- Christy

Thursday, May 16, 2013

One of Those Days (Weeks?)

That's been the kind of week it's seemed like around here for me.  I'm sure each of you have had them too.  No one thing is going completely wrong, but it seems that 50 different smaller issues are about to implode, or at least that's how it seems to me.  

At home we're getting ready to move, so there are boxes to be packed and so many things to be organized, purged, stored, and cleaned.  Plans for the place to which we're moving keep changing here and there too, and it's starting to make my enthusiasm wane.  I know when moving day comes and once we're settled it will all make sense I'm sure, but in the mean time my mind does a little inward gasp each time I start thinking too much about everything that has to get done. 

Then at work things are messy too -- I work for a non-profit and there are crazy things happening here at the administrative level that leave a lot of questions from the staff (me included) unanswered.  Most of us are confused and more than a little nervous about how things will all shake out over the next months and weeks.  

All these goings on make me want to hide my head under the covers a little bit.  Can't I just come out when it's over?  But then I stop and remind myself of the little pockets of joy around me too:

     -my 3 girls and the time I get to spend with them
     -my supportive and loving partner Patrick and his ability to listen to and encourage me tirelessly
     -the beautiful weather that we are finally getting 
     -flowers everywhere now that spring is here
     -the fun of this blog to write and share stuff
     -lots of knitting for me to do
     
There's lots more I'm not even thinking of, I know, but that's enough to help me stay afloat for now.  

Oh and also there are yummy things like this Grilled Peanut Butter, Nutella and Banana Sandwich from ohsweetbasil.com:  


  
If this doesn't coax me out of a sour mood, I don't know what will.  

                                                                                          -- Hilary

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wool People 5 is Here

This pattern collection was released yesterday, but I didn't get a chance to mention it in my previous post.  As I've said before, I always feel a special sort of glee when Brooklyn Tweed releases something new, and the look book for Wool People 5 Spring/Summer 2013 is so worth the wait.  The collection of cowls, shawls and sweaters is just beautiful and features top-notch designers.  On top of the patterns, the photography in the look book is to die for -- absolutely gorgeous.  I really got lost in those pages for a little while yesterday morning.   

A special shout-out to the multi-talented Montreal designer and yarn producer, Tanis Lavallee, whose cardigan, Reverb, is featured in this collection. (No surprise that it is number 1 in Ravelry's 'What's Hot Right Now' section today!)  In addition to making some of the most luxurious and lovely yarn I've ever used, Tanis became a new mum last month to a beautiful baby boy, Rowan.  So congratulations to Tanis on this new pattern, and a very happy 1st mother's day to you as well!    

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Spring Fever


For the last 4 or 5 days, our weather forecast here in most of Ontario has shown nothing but sun, sun, sun. After a long, cold and, at least for me, not-so-great, winter, you can feel an almost audible sigh of relief as we all put the chilly months behind us and embrace the warmth that we will enjoy for the next, oh, three-and-a-half months or so.  (Altogether too short a time, imho.)

There are moments in almost every winter here in Eastern Ontario when it is so cold outside and the snow is so deep that it becomes impossible to believe that it can ever be swelteringly hot here.  The idea of being able to feel a warm breeze, lie out in a bathing suit, or smell freshly cut grass and sweet springtime lilacs blooming seems like a fairy tale, or a vivid dream that you just can't forget.  So when spring finally commits itself to us in May (usually after a couple of false starts in March and April) I find myself feeling hopeful, much lighter of spirit, and energized for the many activities and adventures awaiting us in the summer.  Except for the mosquitos -- I could do without them. 

The winter blahs hit me hard after losing my father in February, and have dogged me on and off in the months since.  This has had a most definite impact on my knitting and my writing.  Sad to say, I still have projects on the needles that ought to have been finished over the March break, and the gaps between my posts here have been too long.  The sunshine this past week has definitely helped to lift my mood, and I've made significant progress on sewing Bridget's cardigan.  I just have the button band left to knit, and then to pick said buttons, but I see the light at the end of the tunnel now: it will, mercifully, get finished.  

Then it will be on to the man-scarf on the raw silk, which has also been sitting idle.  It's been going well, and I'm pleased, I think, with the overall look.  I have a feeling however that it will be one of those projects that will look remarkably different once blocked -- in a good way, I'm hopeful.  

With all my thoughts happy meandering off towards the summer months, I wanted to post three lovely summer-inspired things.  Two are knits, one is something other.  



What I'd Like to Wear: this light breezy tank is Kit Camisole by Bristol Ivy.  I've been aching to make myself one for the last 2 summers, and I think this year might be the year.  (...if I ever finish my current projects, lol.)  I love the simple stocking stitch in the body which beautifully sets off the simple texture in the top section.  I even love this colour -- but I think against my extremely pale Irish complexion, I might look a little ghostly.  I welcome suggestions.



Free is always good: this sweet little sweater is a free pattern from the wonderful peeps at Espace Tricot in Montreal.  The pattern is called Léger, which is the French for 'light'. It's knit in linen DK weight yarn in the round from the bottom up, and the pattern includes directions for 11 sizes.  In addition, it's very simple to make changes to both body and sleeve length to make it exactly the way you'd like it.  This pullover says Saturday shopping to me: a pair of capris and some flip flops, sunglasses, a big canvas tote, and a few girlfriends and you're all set.



Soft White Bed Linens: Once the weather starts to warm up, one of the changes I always like to bring into my bedroom is white bed linens.  These ones are from West Elm.  There is something about the combination of the white duvet cover and the longer light each day that just makes the entire room seem airier and more relaxed.  I love the pairing here of the chevron-patterned pillow against the white, but I also love being able to add a pop of colour -- a bright yellow or green, or even a hot pink -- with a pillow or throw blanket to give the room a little extra energy.  What are your go-to home pick-me-ups for spring?