Summer Slump

For the past couple of years I’ve found myself slowing down with my fiber habits and this year is no exception.  In the past I’ve associated it with different things, like a new job, always being on the trail, or just starting up with new hobbies, but I think after a third year of this I think I just don’t have mojo in the summer.

Work has been crazy and the last two weeks particularly so and while the heat from last week has broken, I’ve been totally listless in my fiber doings.

The one bright spot, is that I’m making some serious headway on Carla’s shawl.  I was hoping to have it done by August 1st, but that’s unlikely considering the week I have ahead of me, however I do expect it to be done in the next couple of weeks.

IMG_1087

 

Also, my Dropcloth samplers have arrived, and I’ve been playing around with embroidery, which has been lots of fun.

Four new samplers

Four new samplers

Just starting out

Just starting out

Getting the hang of the stitches

Getting the hang of the stitches

Doodling on my own

Doodling on my own

 

I’ve been sorta spinning.  I got a new coffee table (and a television) two weeks ago and I haven’t figured out the best spot to spin with the new furniture. But I’m making some headway on spinning Angel.  I want to have it done before our first guild meeting in September so I can show it off to Heather (the shepherd).  I don’t think I’m going to make it back to the Rosseau Market this year, so I may have to email her to see if she has fluff for any other of her sheep because they are an AMAZING spin.  Also, there are little bits of VM (vegetable matter, mostly grass) in the fluff which reminds me of where yarn come from and makes me smile.

 

Angel on the wheelI also tried to distract myself with a bit of crochet and for some reason I wanted to make the African Flower hexagons.  They are fun to make but my heart just wasn’t in it, so now I have some motifs with nothing to do, I might make a couple more and sew them together and give them to my friend Kristen’s two-year old daughter Taylor who can use them for a doll/stuffed animal blanket.

Crocheted Hexagons

I’m hoping to get Carla’s shawl/veil done soon because I still need to knit myself a shawl as well as I haven’t made a pair of socks in ages.  I’ve put most of my other knitting on hold to get this shawl done and I have a few things that have been taunting me for ages and stash that is just dying to be knit up.  However, my stash acquisition hasn’t been too bad this year (and I’ve been destashing slowly) so I’m not feeling the relentless push to keep up with my stash this year, which is probably good for my mental health.

Previously on …

So I’ve been having a wild and crazy month, and after enjoying/squandering my day watching the new Arrested Development I feel the need to do a bit of a recap on my life for you folks.

IMG_0911

L to R: Sudden Valley, Rita, Hey Brother, Caged Wisdom

So after learning about Nancy passing away I went on a bit of a yarn binge and bought a whole bunch of the Arrested Development themed sock yarn from Cakewalk Yarns.  She was having a sale and I was having a rough day and I ended up placing an order.

I also placed an order with Tanis (of Tanis Fiber Arts) and got more yarn. And the May club shipment showed up as well, but Carla and I did a swap so that each of us could make a large shawl out of the club skeins.

IMG_0893

But I did finish a pair of socks, this pair is from the TFA Year in Colour Club shipment.  The color and the pattern were named Patina.  The color is exclusive to the club but the pattern will go on sale sometime next year.

IMG_0902

Meet my new wheel, Claudia. She is named for Lady Bird Johnson, who was actually named Claudia and founded the Wildflower Center in Austin where I worked and does amazing work. She was a neat lady and it seemed a good a name as any.

I also have a new addition to the family.  I had a Monday off a couple of weeks ago and I made the drive to Gemini Fibres to try out different wheels and figure out which one I wanted.  Instead of waiting, I decided to take home my new wheel, a Schacht Ladybug.  I strongly considered the Lendrum Double Treadle wheel, but the Ladybug really was the best fit.

IMG_0912

We are already making beautiful yarn together.

 

I’ve also cast on for a new pair of socks, but my knitting mojo is totally bleh right now.  Which is very unfortunate because I have some serious knitting to get done.

IMG_0892

 

I’m looking forward to knitting and wearing these socks, the pattern is Harvest Dew by Rose Hiver and the yarn is Muskoka Sunset from Blueberry Pie Studio.

On top of that knitting I have a wedding shawl to knit for my sister and a shawl for me to wear at her wedding.  I had cast on several weeks ago with the beautiful gold yarn she had ordered from Sweet Georgia Yarns, but I couldn’t make myself knit it.  However, my reticence was a good thing, because after some serious wedding planning with Carla and our mom last weekend we realized that it would be better for me to knit a pi shawl out of a cream colored yarn to be used as a veil rather than a shawl. The pattern I’m using is Heliotaxis Pi Shawl by Renata Brenner and the yarn is an undyed silk from Handmaiden Yarns that Carla bought on her trip down east last summer. I ordered a second skein so that it will be a full sized pi that can be used for future big events, like babies.

IMG_0925

 

Another big thing going on is that I’m now a proud owner of two boat shuttles, because I’m borrowing one of the Trillium Handspinners and Weavers Guild Dorothy table looms for a workshop with Jette Vandermeiden in June.  The guild had the  loom but not shuttles, but now I’m worried I’m going to enjoy multi-shaft weaving a bit too much and want a table or floor loom.  Also, the guild has a brand spanking new website, www.trilliumguild.com, which I created.  It’s still a work in progress, but this is a big step forward.

IMG_0945

 

The biggest thing going on, and a likely cause for my lack of crafting mojo, is that I’m moving on June 1st.  I found an apartment in Downtown Bracebridge, within walking distance of work with a balcony that faces the Muskoka River.  I’m currently in the process of packing all my things and getting ready to go.  But living in the mess I’ve created is really impacting my mental health.  The new spot is amazing.  It doesn’t have nearly as fancy floors but it has closets and cupboards that close and I can store my yarn in a far more useful and attractive way. I can’t wait to get moved into my new place and get my life back to normal again.

So, today was a great day of packing, Arrested Development and an impromptu visit from Carla and Jim (which included lunch at the Old Station, a peek at my new office and a trip to the Muskoka Brewery’s new location). I’m hoping this week goes quickly because I wanna get moved and get out of the mess I’ve made for myself in my apartment.

 

 

Six Months From Now

Toshie

This little puppy, Toshie, is going to have married parents.  My sister Carla and her … Jim …  (I find the word fiancee a bit overwhelming and betrothed is just pretentious) are getting hitched on October 5th, and I’m so excited and happy for them.

So I have a big project ahead of me, I’m knitting her a wedding shawl. It is 100% silk lace custom dyed by Felicia Lo of Sweet Georgia Yarns and it showed up late last week.  I’m not sure of all the logistics from the dyeing, I’m just the knitter, but her shawl is a gorgeous gold color.  As a gift to me as her Knitter of Honor (and also I’m signing for her) she got me some silk lace yarn to make a shawl for myself in the other wedding color, aubergine.

So I’m still finalizing the pattern I’ll be knitting both these yarns into, but there are so many choices and I really want it to suit the dress (which is super pretty but a secret until the big day). So I will be spending a few more hours trolling Ravelry and deciding what I want the gorgeous yarns to become, but I will be casting on soon because I need this to be done by the mid-summer so I can finish up my own shawl and whatever wedding knitting comes my way.

FO: Rockberry Triangle

Juneberry

Sometimes it takes me a few tries to find the right pattern for a yarn, this was one of those yarns.  But once they found each other, this yarn a locally raised and spun yarn from Pondering Rock Farms and the Juneberry Triangle pattern by Jared Flood, it was magic.

I’ve been wearing this shawl pretty well non-stop since I finished it back in January.  It is quite scratchy by modern standards (ie. superwash Wools and super-fine merinos) but it has a delightfully rustic hand. The yarn is all naturally colored, and this yarn is from Valentine, and blended with alpacas from an adjacent farm in Rosseau, Ontario.

IMG_0470

I can’t wait for Heather to open up her stand this spring at our local markets to get more of her naturally colored yarns, which she offers in fingering through worsted weights and in different colors based on her flock, and a Lopi-style bulky weight she dyes in small batches in vibrant colors.  I have a few patterns picked out already, including Ashby by Leila Raabe, which is designed to work with Brooklyn Tweed SHELTER.  I find this to be the closest commercially available yarn to the Pondering Rock Farms worsted weight.

I’m looking forward to making more worsted weight shawls because they are fantastic in Muskoka winters, which are really not THAT cold and it is a rustic, fashionable, local yarn kind town.

IMG_0469

Project notes on Ravelry: Rockberry Triangle

FO: Thyme

IMG_0463

Doing FO posts has been a staple for me since I started this blog, however I haven’t written one in 2013, despite finishing 13 projects, and two yarns, so far this year.  I’ve been finding the prospect of writing all those posts mightily overwhelming and so this will be the last FO post in this complete style I will be posting for a while.  I’m going to do some combined project posts, some mostly-photos posts and some of my usual blogging to get through my project backlog.  The only reason that this and the Tokyo Cream Cowl post, which went up earlier today, were formatted like this was because they were done back in December & January.

IMG_0468

Another challenge I was having with my FO posts was the fact that I live in Ontario, the big windows in my apartment face north.  Which means there is very little direct sunlight with which to photograph my knits and that light is almost non-existant when I’m home (eg. evenings).

So this shawl, which I finished in December and I have been wearing happily ever since, only got photographed this past week, now that the days are getting longer and we are having more sunny days.  SO the lace isn’t as perfectly stretched as it was after it’s blocking, but it looks as pretty to me as when it was first finished.

IMG_0462

– Details –

Project Name: Thyme

Pattern: Flukra by Gudrun Johnston from The Shetland Trader

Recipient: Mine, mine, all mine

Yarn: madelinetosh Tosh Lace in Thyme

Modifications:

  • None – I actually followed the pattern.

New Skills:

  • Shetland Shawl Construction – The center garter triangle is an interesting way to create a shawl and helps break up the monotony of shawl knitting by changing the direction fairly regularly.
  • True Garter Lace – The way the lace section works you are essentially doing garter lace (rather than stockinette) and the patterning is on every row.
  • Knitted on Border – LOVE IT!  As someone who has issues with tight bind offs the knitted on border is kind of genius and I will be seeking out other shawls that use this technique

Feedback:

  • Yarn – This Tosh lace has been hanging over my head for a while, I first wound it into a ball almost 2 years and I made at least 3 attempts to knit it into the first pattern I picked.  However, after getting a chance to actually knit it, I really enjoy the yarn.
  • Pattern – The pattern was great.  There are some tricky parts the pattern (mostly the Shetland construction that I wasn’t familiar with) and the pattern gives all the information I needed to finish the pattern. I’m very excited to try more of her patterns, including more shawls.

Re-Knit?: No, but I have a very similar pattern by Gudrun in my queue and am on the lookout for a nice yarn to make it out of.

IMG_0466

FO: Winter Bloom

Winter Bloom 2

This might be one of my most favorite FOs of the year, tied with Moonset, both are soft, beautiful and fun to knit and wear. I was really down on shawls for a while because I wasn’t sure how to wear them, and also my gauge issues made all shawls into shawlettes which makes them even harder to wear.

Now that I’m better with gauge and learning how to adapt patterns when I’m not making things to finished sizes.

Winter Bloom 3

Not only did I think this was a great project but I was also able to win 3 skeins of Sweet Fiber Yarns Haven in Spanish Coin in a KAL.  Sure it was a random draw that won me the yarn, I like to believe it was how beautiful the shawl is.

I love supporting Canadian dyers (Tanis, Quebec) and designers (Melissa, British Columbia) and it’s even better when it turns out this beautifully.

– Details –

Project Name: Winter Bloom Shawl

Pattern: Autumn Bloom by Melissa Thompson of Sweet Fiber Designs

Recipient: Mine, mine, all mine

Yarn: TFA Orange Label in Frost

Modifications:

  • None

New Skills:

  • Knitting shawl edging sideways and picking up the body stitches – it worked fine and I’m happy to do it again.

Feedback:

  • Yarn – OMG, Orange Label (merino/cashmere/silk) is fantastic.  Soft and sleek without being too heavy.
  • Pattern – This was the first time working one of Melissa’s patterns, and it was great.  I look forward to working more of her patterns as she releases more in the future, as well as the fun ones from earlier.

Re-Knit?: Just maybe, it is really quite nice and lots of fun to make.

FO: Moonset

Mooncrest Shawl

On very rare occasions I see a pattern and actually make the effort to get the suggested yarn, this was one of those times.  I had the good fortune to test knit a pattern, Solaria Cowl, from The Stella Collection designed by Julie Crawford and Tanis Lavallee. Also, in that collection is the Suncrest shawl designed for TFA Red Label, a fantastic merino/cashmere/silk fingering/sport weight fingering.  When I was at the K-W Knitter’s Fair in September I had a chance to chat with Tanis and pick up a skein of Red Label in Dove, which is absolutely gorgeous.

Then in October, Julie announced on the Ravelry board about the November TFA KAL, it seemed like I should break my personal queue and knit it up.  And it was the right choice, it is a fantastic shawl and a beautiful yarn and so soft to wear.

– Details –

Project Name: Moonset 

Pattern: Suncrest Shawl by Tanis Lavallee

Recipient: ME!

Yarn: TFA Red Label in Dove

Modifications:

  • Somehow my body was narrower than called for so I did three extra lace repeats to max out the skein.

New Skills:

  • Not a whole lot, but this is the first time picking up just one of the loops on a shawl, it makes a really nice edge.

Feedback:

  • I love it when a pattern and yarn look as good together as the sample/pattern version 

Re-Knit?: Probably not, but I need to make others from The Stella Collection, and I’m looking forward to the 2013 TFA club as it will be one long Stella Collection as we will be getting different weight yarns and all the patterns will be designed by Tanis and Julie.

I’ve got a fever …

but no, the only prescription is NOT more cowbell.*

I’ve caught the Color Infection/Affliction, this nasty disease traveled around the knitting community this past spring, being caught by notable names like the Yarn Harlot and then spread rapidly due to her blog and other internet means.  Initially I was unsure about making one, however after Carla finished hers (sorry Rav member only link), I started thinking about making one myself.

This, mixed with launch of this year’s indigodragonfly Giftapalooza, was a perfect storm in creating the picture I showed you yesterday.

In last year’s Giftapalooza (which was lots of fun and you should sign up, I have seen the bases and some of this year’s one of a kind colors and they are pretty awesome) I received my first skein of indigodragonfly yarn (MCS Sock no less!), the yellow one in the middle, and while I liked it, it wasn’t my usual color and so I let it marinate in my stash.  The pattern that came as part of the Giftapalooza parcel was nice enough, but never seemed to make it to the top of my queue.

Why yes the color is named “Failed Holiday Marketing Campaign 5A: Frozen Butterball Canary”

So yesterday when I was at the studio working with Kim and Ron, all the talk of Giftapalooza made me realize that the yellow skein in my stash would be perfect in a color affection shawl, and I was in the perfect spot to get two more colors to go with it.  With Kim’s help, I snagged two skeins of Ultra MCN (a 70/20/10 MCN, moar cashmere) in “Have Fun Storming the Castle” and “Bunnies, Bunnies, it must be Bunnies”.  We played around with a few other colors, and I left knowing I need to find a pattern that pairs Don’t Blink (a new color) with My Name is Indigo Montoya (possibly with Tweety of Versailles in there, it was used as a stand in as my skein was in Bracebridge).

According to Kim, the MCS and Ultra MCN play really nicely together so the shawl will have the same texture.  Although for my next shawl, I might have to try the new sock base, Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Sock (known as Lizard Sock or RPSLS) which is a soft, fuzzy, woolen spun MCN that made me want to hug it, and kiss it and call it George and is only available right now through Giftapalooza.

So now to wind and cast on, hopefully this is the cure to my fever, because I don’t own a cowbell.

*If you don’t know what I’m talking about, the full video is here.