Monday, June 30, 2014

Small Circulars; Hot Yarn

I went stash diving a few days ago.

I'd like to think I have a semi-reasonable grasp on how much yarn I have, and possibly even the ability to remember specific companies, colours, and amounts.

So I rarely get surprised in the stash dive. But I do get "pleasently reminded". It certainly sounds a lot nicer, doesn't it? It gives knitters with big stashes a better image, I think.
"No! I haven't lost all grasp on the inhabitants of my yarn stash! I just get pleasantly reminded every once in a while!"

But I digress.

So yes, I was pleasantly reminded of some fantastic hot pink Jitterbug in Cherry that was given to be my a friend many years ago. This happened to coincide with an out-loud-think I'd been having on my podcast about my dislike for dpns, but my inexperience with wee short little circulars. And like a knitterly angel from the sky came a friend of mine, with an extra pair of 9" Hiya Hiyas I could borrow and test drive. Sweet!

So those 9" circulars and that hot pink Jitterbug will soon begin a relationship that I hope is happy and fruitful. I'll keep you in the loop with my mini circular test drive.

Have you ever used very short circulars? Do you have any tips for a newbie?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

October Wedding Collection

As you might be able to tell, I like putting together pattern collections.

And I've found the best inspiration and motivation for them lies in things that I feel excited and passionate about. Previously I've designed around my love for the outdoors, different times of the year, and my fascination with ghosts. Now, I'm focusing on the intersection between my favourite month, something quite topical, and celebrations that I love.

The October Wedding Collection is inspired by my own October wedding. It's a fantastic time of year, and one that it seems more and more people are choosing for their marriage celebrations. And at least in my part of the world, October can be a somewhat chilly month. Making it PERFECT for cozy, fun, and elegant (but you know, with my twist of the weirdness) handknits.

Even if I wasn't getting married in October, I have to admit that I love weddings. I love a bit of pomp and circumstance. I love fancy outfits. I love seeing how different people bring out their personalities in different ways. And most of all, I bloody love parties. I think bringing together family and friends is one of the things that makes life a worthwhile experience. It's important to celebrate with people you love.1

Weddings can be about what you want them to be about. And I want mine to be about eating damn good food in a room filled with people I love. And dancing like fools. And maybe (no, definitely) getting some drinky drink in there too.

Oh, and MAKING for it.

I want to enable as much making as possible. And why not make things that you and your guests can use? Items that are small and quick or large and epic enough to be functional and lovely?

Here you see some yarn that sits patiently, waiting to be knit up into a sample for the October Wedding Collection. It's going to be a quick-knit, but EPIC shrug. I can't wait to wear this! And I really can't wait for you to see it!

1 And I do feel I should note: there are plenty of things I DON'T like about The Modern Wedding Complex.  I come from a place of feminist ethics that disagrees with many of the stereotypical trappings and social pressures/expectations that come with contemporary weddings.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Knitting Book Read Along: Our First Book Begins!

I'm very excited to say that there was enough interest expressed in the Knitting Book Read Along that I'll be starting it within the next few weeks. Hooray! Thanks everyone! This will be a great motivation to get my reading mojo on and learn some fantastic stuff.

The Approach
This is a no pressure Read Along!
  • I'll be selecting the first book we'll be looking at based on overwhelming popular support, but all subsequent books will be picked from the top suggestions via a vote
  • There'll be plenty of time allotted to getting a copy of the book and reading it (as thoroughly or lightly as you please).
  • We'll be taking the discussion over to the Canary Knits Ravelry group, where the format will support a great back-and-forth discussion between us so we can get as in depth or lighthearted as we wish.
  • While there'll be an approximate finish date, the discussion thread will never be closed

The Goals
That's totally up to you!
  • As this is a relaxed Read Along, you set how much or little you'd like to read of the book, and what you'd like to get out of it.
  • I'll be posting my own goals prior to reading the book in the Canary Knits Ravelry group, where there'll be a thread devoted to the particular book.
  • Participate in any way that you want! Read on your own, pop on over the the Ravelry group to discuss or just read other people's thoughts on the book. It's up to you!

The Books
There were plenty of really wonderful suggestions! The top ten books/authors noted, in no particular order, were:
  • anything by the Yarn Harlot
  • anything by Elizabeth Zimmermann
  • any of Barbara Walker's Knitting Treasury Stitch Dictionaries
  • Knitting in Plain English by Maggie Righetti
  • Little Red in the City by Ysolda Teague
  • The Stitch n' Bitch series by Debbie Stoller
  • The Knitter's Book of Yarn by Clara Parkes
  • Domiknitrix by Jennifer Stafford
  • Mason Dixon Knitting: The Curious Knitter's Guide by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne
  • Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard

and our first Knitting Book Read Along selection is....

Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmermann!

I selected this book because not only was it by the most-suggested author, it's a short and easy read that's fairly easy to find (through your local library, inexpensively online or at your local bookstore, and maybe even already on your bookshelf!)

It makes for great lake-side reading!

If you're interested in joining, just hop on over to the Canary Knits Ravelry group and comment in this thread with "I'm in!"

We'll have til July 7 to get a hold of a copy of the book. After that, the Read Along will "officially" continue in this thread until August 15.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Must-Haves: Knitting Book Read Along

I love books.
And knitting books, especially.

I learned to knit from Stitch n' Bitch, expanded my skills with the Principles of Knitting, began to understand more about yarn from Clara Parkes, and delighted over the fantastic combination of techniques and patterns with Little Red in the City.

Staring at my dangerously overloaded bookshelf last week gave me a light bulb moment: I'd LOVE to read these books (again, in some cases, and for the first time in others). I know I get more things done to a deadline, and would love to have company to talk about these must-have gems with.

So this post has a couple questions:

1) Would you be interested in joining a Knitting Book Read-Along?

2) What would you say are some must-have knitting books?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Indie Designer Day

Designer: Ellen Gill
Blog: A Pile of Sheep
Rav ID: Melonby
Some Great Designs: Melonby's Rav Designer Page

Check out the great sweaters and cardigans from this week's designer, Melonby.

First up is the pictured Sashiko, a geometric dance of line and texture inspired by the traditional Japanese embroidery style, Sashiko.

I also really like her Tyrolean cardigan, an updated vintage style that incorporates fair isle, floral colourwork along the front bands. There's also a couple different fair isle charts included in the pattern, making this an automatically-modifiable pattern.

Finally I'll point you towards Snowdrift Jumper, a nearly seamless colourwork knit that is fun and classic all in one. I know, I know, it can be difficult to think of snow at a time like this, but just imagine: you get started on your Snowdrift Jumper today, and it's DONE and ready to be worn the first day you feel the sliiiightest bit of cold!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cottage: SUMMER be HERE!

Hooray! It's time for the sun to shine, the lake to warm up, and Ontarians to flock to cottage country for some good old-fashioned get-drunk-and-enjoy-nature-times.

I'm up for a weekend away with three of my knitting friends. Good times to be had by all.
I've got my knitting packed (after-thought heel socks, anyone?), campfire food planned (ultimate smores: that is, a smore with a REESE PEANUT BUTTER CUP IN IT! You're welcome), and super -relax-a-thon-shades on.

That said: when I'm thinking relaxation knitting, I'm thinking miles of stockinette. Ideally with minimal shaping required.

How about you? What's you're relaxation knitting?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Unicorn lives on Tote!

When I finished this cross stitch I wondered what I'd do with it.
I think you'd be surprised how many people asked, as I stitched this sucker, what I was going to do with it.

I always had no good answer. I would just say "meh, feel like doing it", or "who knows! I'm too lazy to frame it, so I'm sure I'll think of something!"

And so I have!

With my laziness intact, I've decided to attempt making a tote bag. You can never have too many of those.

This helps me to make use of my silly stash of cotton quilting fabric, as well. See the fabrics I'm hoping to use in the photo above.

I really like the shape of this bag, so I'm hoping I can half-ass-create this sometime soon.

How many knitting totes do you have and/or use on a regular basis? I'd have to double check, but I think my number is around 6 proper totes, and about 4 proper project bags.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Indie Designer Day

Designer: Casapinka
Blog: casapinka
Rav ID: casapinka
Some Great Designs: casapinka's Rav Designer Page

If I had to pick one word to describe this week's designer, it would be FUN!
To give you a taste, here's a line from her designer bio: " Currently taking time off from my job as an ER doctor since they wouldn’t let me use my knitted stethoscope, even though patients always thought it was nice and warm."

Check out the featured photo of the MUSTWAX Sweater. Fun! Like I said! Something you can't see in the photo is the great sleeve detail: if you put your arms together, you get another mustache!

And since I've featured the MUSTWAX Sweater, I'd be amiss if I didn't point out the Mustache Cuffs :)

She's not just all about the mustaches; look at Cowl Play ebook. It contains three different colourwork cowls, each with two different heights/lengths. Very cool! Customizable cowls!

There's also the Bunting Baby Blanket, which continues my tradition of finding baby patterns that I'd really, actually, like for my own grown-up self. The inspiration came from a design challenge posed by Lion Brand in her work as a student in the Hand Knitting Design program at the Rhode Island School of Design. It's totes cute.

Finally, here's Bronwyn, a supercute cape!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Keeping What's Secret, Secret

I have a friend who decided she wanted to knit a sweater for her husband several Christmases ago. As many of you are well aware, sweaters are not the #1 easiest thing to hide. I mean, even if you knit it in pieces when your gift-receiver isn't around, you still have the sticky tricky task of blocking that sizable project.

Well lo, if my friend didn't come up with the clever idea of hiding her blocking mat beneath their bed! Ha! Her husband had NO idea that he was sleeping right above his Very Secret Christmas Gift.

I too have secret knitting. They're not gifts, but instead are patterns-to-be-published in the future. Sometimes that future is fairly soon, other times that future is close to a year away! So, I feel a little sneaky when I've been spending so much time knitting, and have naught I'm able to show for it on the blog here.

And it's certainly easy for me to keep it secret! No hiding it under the bed for me! (and anyway, under my bed is a scary, scary place. It's where the Dust Bunnies dwell. Those legendarily viscous creatures who only move when you're not looking at them and hungrily gobble up any and all things you foolishly allow to drop anywhere near the floor near their territory. They were recently mounting a takeover of the Under The Dresser territory, and that's when I launched an attack, using a pincher movement with the Dirt Devil and Swiffer divisions).

But my friend? That's super-secret-ninja-knitting going on there.
As I can't show you what I'm working on with that GORGEOUS yellow loveliness pictured there, I'll ask you all instead:

Have YOU ever done some stealthy secret knitting? How did you keep it under wraps?

Monday, June 09, 2014

Unicorn Lives Where?

He's done!
An entirely pleasant project, this cross stitch has been a little crafty vacation from knitting for my wrists1. I got him from this book. You should get it. It's very cool.

As you can see:
  • I didn't follow instructions and take it out of the hoop when not stitching. It now has perma-hoop-lines.
  • While I thought black thread is black thread, that appears to not be the case. You might be able to spot some slightly less black than the surrounding black. Yep. He's a unicorn-of-a-different-colour.
  • It's big! And I think that unicorn looks lonely all by himself there.
I'm undecided as to what to do with him next. Framed? Sewn into a blanket or pillow or something? Maybe add something interesting, funny, or even scandalous? Not sure. But I am sure that I love cross stitch. And all my friends should beware: there may be some cross stitchy gifts in your future!
1 Now, don't think that I don't like knitting, and need a vacation from it! I love it, and perhaps too much. A few years ago I did some marathon knitting and strained my wrist. I've now got a RSI there, and a ganglion cyst. Nothing horrible! It's just that I have to watch how much I knit in one sitting, and then in one week. Take it easy, and I can knit for years to come!

Friday, June 06, 2014

Indie Designer Day

Designer: Lara Simonson
Rav ID: knotenufknit
Some Great Designs: knotenufknit's Rav Designer Page

This week's designer has a great array of patterns for babies, children, and adults.

Pictured is the Winter Dream Infinity Scarf. A simple, seamless knit, the lace is an easy repeat that when done, lays beautifully around your neck and shoulders.

I've also selected a couple hats to share: the Winter Dream Hat and Poncho set (for babies) and the Winter Dream Hat (for adults). Working with the same simple, directional lace pattern, these pieces would make great knits for yourself or gifts for family and friends.

Check out her designer page on ravelry for many more patterns!

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Teasing Teaser for Fall/Winter!

This is a quick posty provocation to hop on over to the Holla Knits blog today and get a wee peek at my upcoming design for the Fall/Winter collection. I'm REALLY excited for it!

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

(Second) Summer of the Romper!

I loudly stated that 2013 was the Summer of the Romper. And it was.
But I think I need a second Summer of the Romper, and this time the sequel will be EVEN BETTER.

Now that I've sewn this pattern (Butterick 4121) about too many times, I'd like to think I've got an idea as to how to make it better.

1) I've recently discovered that I might have to make something called a "sloping shoulder" adjustment.
  • This affects how garments end up sitting, and will create unsightly puckers around the armpits. And while this romper isn't a fitted pattern, and I can get away without making this adjustment, I think it might be a good time to practice this fitting issue.

2) I've tried different front closures, all of which suck canoes-worth of crap.
  • And that hyperbolic negativity above is totally worth stating. The pattern suggested hook and eye. Which ends up creating a big gap in the fabric and the romper becomes a peep show. Then I tried a zipper down the front. Which alleviates the peep-show, but creates lumps and bulges. So now I think I'm all smarty pants, and will move the zipper to the side of the romper and see if that is the magic happy medium I need.

3) French seams, baby!
  • Now that I know what these suckers are, and how to make them, there'll be no more raw edges in my garments. No siree. 
In truth, though, of the three fabrics in the photo you see above, the only one I'm thinking of using for the romper is the floral one. You may recognize that adorable seagull fabric; I've already made a dress from that cuteness. It was on sale, people! I had to finish off the bolt (of which there was only about 1.25 metres.
The black and grey honeycomb is more likely to become a dress for later on in the year. Three metres of that puppy.
And that romper-destined floral fabric? Lightweight cotton, that's a weeeee bit transparent. I've got to find some compatible lining, and then I'm off to the races!
Wish me luck! I think this'll be romper number four.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Yarn and Camping and Florescent OH MY!

My friend owns a yarn shop.
And it's about a ten minute walk from my house.
This is the happiest sort of danger you can concoct.

In one of my many "visit friend at shop and shop at friend's visit" afternoons, I picked up the gorgeousness of florescence you see here.
I'm a bit concerned that these photos can't convey to you the glory of the shine coming off this sucker. It's Manos Wool Clasica in Highlighter, which you may be able to see better in comparison to their other colours here.

I've had this yarn decorating my coffee table for weeks now. I bought it in a fit of happiness after having booked my camping trip for mid-August, and so had that vacation on my brain. It was a handy excuse/reason to buy this yarn, but now I can't really figure out how 126 metres of aran weight yarn will become something wearable for August camping.

I pose the question to you:
Camping + Highligher Manos = ?
I'd love to hear your suggestions!