Sunday, May 10, 2015

Viral Knits

Do you know what I'm talking about when I say viral knits? I'm talking about those patterns that kind of defy logic. There is just something about them, no one can really say what it is, but every knitter wants to make it.

I have made some viral knits in the past. There was this drops sweater that everybody made years ago including the yarn harlot. I even cast on (but never got around to finishing) the clapotis. The "Owls pullover" that I made into a cardigan and the "Colour Affection" shawl are what I would call viral knits or bandwagon knitting. 

Honestly, I usually try to resist the siren song of the viral knit. Everyone is knitting it - why should I? One of the reasons knitting appeals to me is that you get to be different. You can produce a garment or accessory that is so unique that no one else on the planet owns one. 

There is this knitting pattern that's been on my radar for about 5 years or so. It's called "Hitchhiker" by German designer Martina Behm. When it first came out I wanted to make it. Then everyone else made it, so I wouldn't. There are more than 19,000 of these posted on ravelry. And you know not every knitter is on ravelry (shocking and hard to believe but I have met them) and you know that the knitters that are on ravelry don't always post their work (again, shocking but people use the site in so many different ways). 

Last week I could resist the lure of this pattern no more. I cast on and I was smitten. 


It's like it was made for this yarn! I just love the garter stitch squishiness of it. I just lover the colour transitions. I just love how I keep wanting to make 'just one more point'. 

I totally understand why it's been made over 19,000 times. What I don't understand is why it's taken me 5 years to cast on.  


I vow from this moment onwards to not resist the call of the viral knit. If everyone else is making it, there must be a reason. Usually that reason is because it's a fun and engaging knit. Why am I so stubborn?  There are more Martina Behm patterns in my future I think. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

I've Been Sewing

I know I've mentioned Craftsy on this blog before. It is such a great place to learn new things. I love their format and the fact that you can access your classes forever!! 

They have a lot of sewing classes on Craftsy. The first sewing class that I took was a freebie!! It's called "Bag Making Basics" by Kristin Link. The class walks you through making a drawstring bag and a bucket bag. 

I made this cute little drawstring project bag using the techniques learned in this class. I am first and foremost a knitter and a knitter can never have too many project bags. 

The "W.I.P." is embroidered and stands for Work IN Progress. Most knitters would recognize this terminology and would not need to have this explained. 

There are a lot of other little abbreviations that knitters use on a regular basis such as LYS and FO ... But this is a topic for another future blog post.  I wonder is this type of thing found in other hobbies? 

I encourage you all to check out the classes on Craftsy. You are sure to find something that interests you. They have classes on drawing and cake decorating. Photography, calligraphy and bread making! And of course there are loads of knitting, crocheting and quilting classes. They even have classes on spinning! As someone who discovered the magic of spinning entirely online and as such am entirely self taught - the spinning classes in particular make me so happy. 

Living this far north and in a town that is very isolated, I don't have many opportunities to take classes like this. But  Craftsy makes everything so accessible.  I love it. 



I'm so happy with this little bag that it is already housing a new WIP. Any guesses?


If you guessed self striping socks - you are correct!! That seems to be all I want to knit lately - which is really a blessing given the size of my self striping sock yarn stash. 

It really is a little shameful. But, isn't this yarn beautiful?? It's called "Purple Haze" by White Birch Fibre Arts.  This dyer is on etsy and is definitely worth checking out. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some bags to sew. 

Sunday, April 05, 2015

A Labrador Spring

Spring is one of my favourite times of year in Labrador. Most people in North America herald the arrival of spring with the melting of snow and the growth of new flowers. Not so in Labrador. 
Here is a photo that I took last night from our backyard. Yes, that bit of fence peeking through is a six foot fence. 

We mark the coming of spring by ice fishing!! It is at long last finally warm enough to go outside and enjoy all that snow. Easter weekend is a time in Labrador when everyone seems to be on the ice. Fishing, riding skidoo, games, a boil up (Newfoundland and Labradors word for a picnic) are just a few of the things that most families tend to do around here. 
My son in law Blair is drilling a hole in the ice with his gas ice auger. There is an extension on it and he still just barely made it through the ice. 
 

This is me with two of the trout that I caught. We had such a good time. It was so nice to be outside after being inside all this long cold winter long. 

I accidentally stepped into a fishing hole that was covered in snow and slush and I went over my boots. My feet stayed warm because I had on a pair of my hand knit socks. But I wished I had taken a second pair of dry socks. Kevin told me to take some too. Oh well. 

I did finish knitting another pair of socks. These will do into my sock drawer. And they will keep my feet warm and dry the next time I go ice fishing. 

I love them. They are DK weight which is a little heavier than I like but they are sure to work well inside a winter boot.  We (Newfoundlanders and Labradorians) call short thick socks like these vamps. I think this is word is unique to this province but I could be wrong. I need to knit more of these. For myself and my whole family. 

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Mashup


Ravely has this great feature that allows you to enter several patterns on one particular project. For example you could be knitting a plain stockinette slouch hat using the cast on numbers and measurements from one pattern and then decide that while you like the pattern for the overall shape of the hat, you'd really like to add in a color work scheme from a different pattern. This is what I call a mashup. The resulting garment is a mixture of both patterns. This is one of the many benefits of being knitters, of being the boss of your yarn. 

Every year my mother sends Kevin a pair of "trigger mitts" for Christmas. This is a traditional Newfoundland and Labrador pattern. Most knitters from here can knit these without a pattern. He thinks my mom knits then for him but she doesn't. She buys them from a friend of hers. They are hand knit, just not by my mom. Every year Kev wears giant holes in the mittens which I (being the great domestic goddess that I am) promptly darn them. 

Kev is hard on his mittens. He uses them when he is out clearing the snow. And this year we have had an incredible amount of snow.  So it seams that he is wearing holes in his mittens at a faster rate than normal. 

There really is something wrong with this picture. I am a knitter.  I am a good knitter even. Surely I can knit a pair of trigger mitts for Kevin. Surely they will be better and wear better than the mitts my mom's friend made. 

The mittens my mom sent are acrylic. Yuckity yuck yuck. They aren't warm and they don't wear well at all. I've darned them with wool and that part felts from the friction of the snowblower while the acrylic parts just wear away. 

I've decided to make Kevin a pair of trigger mitts using the warmest and the nicest of yarns. I will knit them tight enough that no cold shall penetrate and no holes shall wear in them. 

And I've decided to do a mash up. I don't have the pattern for the trigger mitts (though I do have several old pairs here to go by) and I'm using the colorwork from a pattern called "Vespergyl Mittens". 


So far, I'm happy with them. They are warm and soft yet sturdy. They have wool and cashmere and alpaca in them.  They will be amazing. But I will have to knit the second one. 

Edited to add that I've finished the pair. I ran out of the light coloured yarn on the second mitt but luckily I had a similar yarn (similar weight, fiber content and colour) in my stash that worked out. This is one of the MANY benefits of having a large stash. 

I am really pleased with how they turned out. And Kev is happy too. Now I just need to wait and see how they wear. It's currently snowing and blowing so I shouldn't have to wait long. It looks like tomorrow will be a snow blowing day for Kev. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

25 years ago....


My daughter was born 25 years ago today. I remember it like it was yesterday. It's hard to describe how fast the past 25 years have gone. I still kind of mourne her childhood but on the other hand I couldn't be happier in how she turned out. Sure, I made mistakes along the way and there are some things that I would do differently but I wouldn't change a single hair on her head. She amazes me everyday with her strength and her spunk. She takes shit from no one and that makes me so proud. She is very happy with her life and really - that's all a mom could ask for. 

Here we are some 20 years ago. I love this girl so much that it makes my heart hurt. 

And speaking of babies being born in February (how's that for a segue?) a coworker at the pharmacy is due any day now. I hosted the baby shower at my house. She had such a great turnout. There were about 25 to 30 ladies here! Of course I knitted something for the baby. 

This is a Quynn Hat by designer Woolly Wormhead. I've knit this little hat before. It's fast and it's cute. 

And this little vest is called Milo and it's by Georgie Hallam. I've knit this before too. It's so cute and quick to knit. That seems to be my criteria for baby knits. The yarn is from that mitten club that I was in. Blueberry pie fibers out of Ontario. The dyer specializes in self striping yarns and I especially like her worsted weight yarns. The yarn was meant to be mittens but baby knits are just as cute. Plus the yarn has the added benefit of being machine washable. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mrs Dyson


Around three years ago an elderly lady I know passed away. I knew this lady through many different circles - work, community and even eventually family as her grandson married my step daughter. This lady was so well respected in our small community. She was clever beyond words. She was so unique and funny. She was known for winning a shooting (as in guns) competition every year despite many military members competing against her. She set her own rabbit snares each year and she still drove her own skidoo - well into her eighties. She had a very large family that she cooked and crafted for. When I grow up, I want to be Mrs Dyson or Lockie as she was known around here. 

Mrs Dyson introduced me to the concept of buying good wool sweaters at yard sales and flea markets and unravelling them to re knit later. I loved this idea so much. I've gotten several sweaters worth of yarn for less than 5 bucks!!

She had seen my knitting on several occasions. My step grand babies are her great grandsons. Baby showers in particular is a time when Labrador women like to show off our handcrafting skills. I imagine it's like that everywhere. Every cute thing garners oohs and aahs but nothing quite like something handcrafted. And let me tell you, Labrador women can spot something handcrafted from a mile away.  She told me that she admired my knitting. This was such a compliment, I can't even describe how this made me feel. Like I imagine winning a blue ribbon for my knitting at a fair would feel. 

Another time I knit a delicate lace scarf for her daughters 50th birthday. Mrs Dyson picked up that scarf and turned it over and over - inspecting it. I don't think I was that nervous about my knitting since I passed in a swatch to "Brown Owl" when I was 7 years old to get my knitting badge for Brownies. 

But she proclaimed it to be beautiful and because  she was Lockie, I believed it to be beautiful as well. 

Mrs Dyson had the luxury of knowing she was passing. I know this sounds morbid but I've known people to pass before they get their affairs in order and I find it extremely sad. Mrs Dyson got to say goodbye to the people that she loved and that is a real gift. 

She also asked me to take her knitting and to finish up some things she had been making for gifts but was too weakened by disease to finish. I was honoured. 

It was a pair of color work ski socks that I  never did finish for many reasons - the biggest being that we had a house fire the summer of 2012 and the project got  severely damaged. I've always bad about this. I felt like I owed her something. 

When her daughters were going through her things when she passed they came across a lot of yarn. They asked me to come down and help them go through it and pick some things out for myself. 

In the end I took just about all of the 100% wool yarn myself (there was lots!) and the acrylic yarn (there was even more!) I took as well and left up in the girl guide supply room for the girls and their leaders to use for any type of yarn craft they may do. 

This whole process gave me the heebiejeebies and I couldn't help but think of when the time comes for my daughter and step daughters to go through my stuff. They are gonna hate me!!  I've got to start knitting more and buying less.  

Among the yarn that I took there were about 10 skeins of this super chunky yarn that was 100% wool and made by Spinrite. The labels were very very old and I could only assume the yarn was too. 

Lockies grand daughter Tara is having a baby. Tara is also Blair's sister. I really wanted to make something for this baby that was from Lockie. I wanted to repay her for all the yarn she gave me and I wanted to own up to the promise that I made her when she was dying - that I finish those ski socks. 

I went on Ravelry and found just the pattern. It was for a bunting bag. I remember when my daughter was little I got lots of use from a bunting bag. A gift from Mrs Dyson had to be useful. Nothing frivolous would do. 

So I knit and knit. Not a difficult pattern at all. It almost knit itself. It almost felt as though Mrs Dyson was guiding my hands. As I knit, I thought about the little one who would be using this item. I thought about his (she had the baby! A boy!!) mom and how she took such good care of herself to make sure that he had the best possible start in life.

 I thought about his extended family. His little cousins (my grandsons) and how much they loved him already and how they would help him get into and out of trouble. 

I thought about his Gram, my friend Denise, who is positively crazy about her grandchildren. I worried about her so much. She had a bad accident a couple of weeks ago. I worried she would miss this little guys arrival. I worried about how heart broken she would be not to be there for her daughter. I knit these worries into the bag too. Perhaps the gauge is a little tighter in places because of this. 

 I thought about his Uncle - my son in law - who is one of the bravest and most hardworking men I know. I thought what a great role model he would be.

 I thought about his Auntie - my step daughter. I thought about the great mom that she is and I knew she would be there to offer guidance and advise to his mom. And I knit all of these thoughts into this simple little bunting bag. 

And I knit on .... 

And as I put the finishing touches on this simple little bag I hoped that he would always be warm and surrounded by the love of his wonderful family. 


I know they will tell him stories about his great Gram. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

2015

It's 2015. It's hard to believe how fast the past year went. In retrospect it was a great year - crafting and otherwise. We seemed to travel a lot in 2014. We bought a motorhome! Kevin had some health issues but thankfully all is well now. And I guess the biggest news is that he is retired. 

People keep asking me when I will retire. I'm a good 10 years younger than Kevin and I'm not quite there yet. I love my job still. I enjoy going to work every day.  I guess when it stops being fun, I'll stop doing it.

I've included some photos of the handknits that I made for Christmas gifts this year. 

First up is this hat that Max is wearing. He's wearing it incorrectly. He has the seam in the front. By the way, this is my daughter's boyfriend Max - not my grandson Max. I don't have a time machine. 

It's a Woolly Wormhead pattern. She has the best hat patterns. This hat is for Lucy of course.

These socks I made for my nephew Jordan. The yarn is called perfect turtle toes. The hand dyer is from New Brunswick. She dyes wonderful self striping yarn. And she winds them into two perfectly matching little cakes so that your socks will turn out perfectly.  This color is called dream room.

And this color is called Gatineau fall. It's based off of a famous painting. I did look the painting up but I can't remember the artist but indeed those colors are prevalent. These are for big Max as he's been known around these parts lately.  Some of you may notice that this is his second pair of socks that I've knit. 
He is such a wonderful recipient that I do feel inclined to knit him more pairs. Amy tells me he wears his first pair all the time - even to bed. One time he left them here on a visit and I had to mail them back to Gatineau. Amy said he was so happy to get them in the mail that he hugged them to his chest and said "my socks, my socks." Now I ask you how is a knitter to refuse someone who really appreciates socks like that? Not me.