Sunday, 30 December 2012

Hobbit Knits - A Review

A few months back I did a little review of  the Elvish Singing Shawlette by Josie Mercier.  Well, Josie has recently released an an awesome eBook titled "Hobbit Knits" containing the pattern for this shawl as well as four additional hobbit-themed knits. 

This gorgeous collection includes a mix of garments and accessories, all with clever details and a good range of sizes.  I love that Josie has included a variety of knitting techniques ranging from complex looking cables in the Beorn cardigan (I adore the cabled waistband in that one - it adds great interest and is flattering on many figures), to the intricate lace in the Elvish Singing Shawlette.  The Pocketses vest appears to be simple at first glance, but includes thoughtful waist shaping, handy little pockets, and provides a perfect canvas for  those beautiful buttons so many of us have been hoarding collecting.  The Mirkwood Satchel is a versatile and sturdy linen stitch shoulder-bag with a practical zipper and beautiful cable detailing on the strap and pocket.

I think that the Pony Rides in May Sunshine fingerless mitts are my very, very favourite this time around.  The cabled cuff is so gorgeous, and knitting the cuff flat and picking up stitches for the body of the mitt is a technique that I haven't tried before on mitts.  I think my Smooshy DK would be a perfect fit for these, and I happen to have a skein (or two!) stashed. 

Josie has generously donated an additional copy of this gorgeous eBook.  For a chance to win your own copy, please leave a comment telling me which item in the collection is your favourite.  The winner will be drawn (by Random Number Generator) on Sunday, January 6, 2013.  The eBook is also available in Josie's Ravelry shop.

I'm off now to dig up some yarn and start knitting.....

Wednesday, 26 December 2012


The Random Number Generator has spoken!  Comment Number 7 was drawn for the "Nice" Batt - Metasynthesia, it's you!  And Comment Number 17 was drawn for the "Naughty" Batt - that would be Karen aka Ravelry's purplepenguin!  Congratulations Ladies and many thanks to all of you for playing.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Naughty or Nice...

The time for Santa Claus's annual visit draws near, which leads to the perennial question "Have you been naughty or nice this year?" 

My daughter and I were playing around with the drum carder on a weekend afternoon a few weeks back, and she had the brain-wave of Naughty or Nice Batts.  The "Nice" Batt is full of happy, bouncy colours and sparkles; while the "Naughty" Batt is full of darker, somewhat more sinister colours and lots of sheen. 

The "Nice" Batt

"Nice" weighs in at 2.9 ounces and contains such wonderful fibres as: stellina, alpaca, firestar, and assorted hand-dyed wools.

The "Naughty" Batt

"Naughty" weighs in at 3.2 ounces and contains tussah silk, stellina, alpaca, sari silk, carbonised bamboo, and assorted hand-dyed wools.
Both of these one of a kind beauties are only up for grabs here on the blog. (Don't worry, there are lots of other amazing batts here.)  For a chance to win, leave a comment saying which batt you like the best [please don't tell me if you're naughty or nice - TMI! ;) ]. I will choose two winners with the random number generator on Boxing Day.  Good Luck Everyone - and feel free to spread the word!  Happy Holidays!  

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Goin' Batty

  I've been spending (lots of) time lately dyeing up smallish amounts of wool and silk and alpaca roving into a delightful variety of intense semi-solid colours. Then, I've been playing. There is something super fun and addictive about combining wonderful wools and alpaca with SPARKLES and silk and shimmers and locks and whatever comes to hand. I swear that there is a time warp that opens up when my carder and I feels like only minutes have passed, and yet somehow it is actually like three hours later and the kids are hungry and the dog really needs to pee. Here is a small taste of some of my concocting......

Group Photo!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Just Winging It

In a dramatic change of events from my last post,  this is what my backyard looks like today...

Most of the snow is gone, the leaves are falling fast, and it is well above freezing.  Yay!  It seemed like a good time to snap a few photos of my most recent finished project. 

My friend dkzach recently knitted a super fun scrappy-stripey cowl using mini-skeins and odds and ends of hand-dyed fingering weight yarn. After trying in vain to come up with a plan to "acquire" her cowl for myself, I decided it would be easier to simply knit my own using my (growing) scrappy mini collection. 


I cast on a whole bunch of stitches using the stretchy Cable Cast On (I have no clue how many) and 5.0 mm circular needles, and joined to knit in the round. I noticed after more than a dozen rows that I had committed the biggest Knitting-in-the-Round-Sin.....I had twisted my stitches! At that point, I was too lazy to rip it out and start over, we're talking about a lot of stitches here! I figured I'd just call it a "Design Feature" and work with it. I was also looking for a way to add some textural interest to the stripes as simply as possible. I worked garter ridges randomly on some of the first rows after joining a new colour. I (cleverly, shamelessly copying dkzach) wove in ends as I went. After I cast off, I decided to make my cowl reversible by stitching the cast of and bound off edges together with scrap yarn and a blanket stitch.

I am thrilled with the result, and it just figures. It's now too warm to wear a wool cowl.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

It's Here!

This morning I woke up to see this......

And wearing these...

made the drive to work through this...

somewhat brighter.  New mittens (especially colourful ones) seem to help make winter's dreariness a bit better.  I finished these a couple weeks ago, and (luckily!) hadn't had an opportunity to wear them yet.  They are loosely based on the Ephemera pattern and are knit out of handspun yarn.  The yarn was spun from a gorgeous, amazing batt that I picked up this summer from the awesome Electrictree Yarns in Kamloops, B.C.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Punky Rainbow Cowl

I recently finished a delicious, squooshy cowl out of my Smooshy DK yarn in the Punky Rainbow colourway.  The pattern I used is the Cowardly Cowl by Erica Lueder.  What an addictive pattern!  The four row slip-stitch pattern is interesting, without being difficult and does an amazing job of taming and enhancing a hand-dyed variegated yarn. 

This is the yarn I used.

This is the finished cowl.

I LOVE this stitch pattern!

I knit the pattern with only one modification.  Because it called for worsted and I used DK,    I cast on either 16 or 20 more stitches than the pattern called for.  It used nearly all of one skein of Smooshy DK, an MCN yarn.  After blocking, the cowl was long enough to wear either long in one loop, or to twist into two loops, for a tighter, cozier fit.  Mmmmmmmm.  I'm thinking this is not the last of these I've knit!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Finished Objects!

I have actually managed to finish a couple things over the last few weeks.  The first thing is a baby Hoot Cardigan by Brenna Kotar.  This is an adorable top-down raglan cardigan, with cables on either side of the button band that look like little owls.  I knit this in my Smooshy DK, a merino/cashmere/nylon blend DK weight yarn, in Robot Ninja.  I still need to dig through my button stash to find just the right buttons.  (That could take a while, time seems to stand still while I search through the collection.)

Little, Bitty Owls!
After many thoroughly enjoyable (until the last few  seemingly endless rows) hours spent knitting garter stitch stripes, I finished my Color Affection Shawl by Veera Valimacki.  Through the spring and summer this shawl has gone viral on Ravelry.  I oogled and coveted many peoples finished shawls, while trying to decide which colours to make mine out of.  Eventually I saw three yarns hanging together on my drying rack, and I fell in love.


These are the BFL Sock in (left to right) Chillin' Like a Villain, Robot Ninja, and Watermelon.  The pattern was excellently written.  The only change I made was to switch out the M1R and M1L for a knit-front-and-back to try to add a bit more stretch to the straight edge of the shawl.  I have also seen/read about others using a yarn over for the same reason.  I used a larger needle than called for in the pattern (it calls for a 4.0 mm and I used a 5.0 mm) and I have a hunch I used more yarn, and ended up with a larger shawl, than if I had used the 4.0 mm needles.  I just liked the slightly looser knitted fabric better.  I absolutely ADORE the finished shawl.  And quite handily, the last few days have been cool enough that I can wear it!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Autowrap Spinning

This spring I picked up a copy of Jacey Boggs book Spin Art.  She is the guru of textured spinning, constantly coming up with amazing and inspirational yarns and techniques.  The book is quite comprehensive, starting with more basic sounding techniques and building on those as the book progresses.  It also included a DVD.  I've been picking it up and flipping and reading through it every so often, but I've been too chicken to try any of the techniques in it.  Until Yesterday....

I was finally feeling a bit braver, so I plugged in the DVD and watched the first few sections on autowrapping and racing stripes (both of which involve letting a pre-spun strand wrap around the yarn that is currently being spun), tracked down some lace weight alpaca and midnight blue corriedale, and sat down at my Ashford Kiwi.  I wasn't super-keen on the look of the racing stripe, so I decided to try the autowrap technique.  The premise of the autowrap is simple. After joining the two fibres, you drop the pre-spun strand, and let it dangle on its own while it twirls itself around the yarn that you are spinning (there are some tweaks to the technique, depending on your wheel - give Spin Art a look if you have a hankering to try this at home!)  After a bit of fumbling, a few tangles, rearranging yarn and fibre, and retrying this is what I got...

The raw materials.

The first little bits.

Extreme closeup!

The finished (wonky) product.
I've gotta say, it was a little bit nerve-wracking at first, to let go and try a new technique. After working so hard to produce even, consistent yarns it felt really strange to purposely make something kinda wonky. But after the initial nervousness passed I had so much fun! I can't wait to try this technique again, with different fibres. I have some shiny sparkly metallic thread that I think needs to wrap around something purple......

Monday, 27 August 2012

Elvish Singing Shawlette

“Tired as he was, Bilbo would have liked to stay a while.
 Elvish singing is not a thing to miss,
 in June under the stars”
“The Hobbit”, J. R. R. Tolkien

Fellow Canadian Josie Mercier, of Mercier Knitting Patterns, has recently published a gorgeous shawlette pattern using my Starry Night colour-way in Sparkle Sock.  The Elvish Singing Shawlette is a deliciously lacy neck-edge-down shawl that uses a single skein of sock yarn. 

The Elvish Singing Shawlette

I've been waiting eagerly for Josie to publish the pattern, because I can't wait to make one for myself.  The main lace stitch on the body looks to be interesting, without making one want to pull out ones hair, and I am smitten with the way it transitions into the delicately-pointed edging.  (The pattern thoughtfully has both written instructions and charts.)   I am quite in love with the entire project, but my very, very favourite part is the amazing leafy motif on the top edge.  See how gorgeous it is...

The gorgeous leafy edge!

 The most difficult part of this project could be deciding which yarn to use; though I'm leaning toward this one.  It's Sparkle Sock in the Robot Ninja colourway.

I'm also seriously tempted to use this one.  It's a 50/50 merino silk blend sock yarn that I call Silky Sock. This is a one of a kind, how did that happen colour that I fell in love with and had to keep. Hmmmm, which one do you guys think???


Saturday, 18 August 2012

Cast On Baby!

I just saw this on YouTube, and I gotta say, it completely made my day! Theses folks look like they'd be a BLAST to hang out and knit with. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Dye Fever!

I've had a month off from my dye-pots (on holidays with the family) and I really missed them. Don't worry, I still had scads of fibrey fun. I got lots of knitting and spinning done, and even a little bit of yarn and fibre shopping. So (relatively) early Monday morning I got all my cauldrons dye-pots bubbling. Monday and Tuesday were both long, full dye days; resulting in over 65 skeins dyed. When you consider that they are mostly done in batches of 2 or 3, that is a lot of crock pot loads! I dyed up some Smooshy Sock, Twisted Smooshy Sock, Luxe DK, and Silky Sock. Tomorrow is for Smooshy DK and BFL Sock. Here are a few pics...

Monday's Batch

Tuesday's Batch