Saturday, September 13, 2014

Top Down Icelandic Cardigan Part 2

Here we are in September already. The weather here in this part of the world has taken a definite turn. Fall comes quickly when you are this far north. The leaves of the birches are turning yellow already. The dogberry trees are almost void of leaves altogether, though I suspect a beetle or disease if doing that, not really due to fall. 

I've been making slow but steady progress on my topdown Icelandic cardigan. I'm determined that this will be a sweater that I wear. I'm determined to knit it perfectly. I'm determined that the fit will be amazing and that I'll be so happy with my cardigan that I'll never want to take it off. 

I've knit many sweaters for myself. Sadly, I don't wear too many of them. There are many reasons for this. Fit is a big one. I've knit one that's too small, another that's too large, another that for the life of me will not stay on my shoulders. (I think this is a design issue - others on Ravelry have complained of the same). There is one sweater that fits fine but looks ridiculous. It has a long peplum and elbow length sleeves. My daughter says it resembles a bathrobe when I wear it. Not a good look for me. 

Then there is this asymmetric sweater that I modified to make it fit symmetric. I really didn't think this one through. The original pattern had a button closure at the neck.  The left front was thin while  the right front was wider. In the original form it was really quite a pretty pattern. I'm not sure what possessed me to try to modify the pattern so that the opening of the cardigan was in the center. I ended up knitting to thin fronts instead of two wider fronts. The result is a cardigan that resembles a cape with sleeves. Not a very fetching look for me.

The final issue that I've had with handknit sweaters is one of sensibility.  I've knit three short sleeved 100% wool sweaters. Let me tell from living in Labrador I've learned that if it's cold enough to be wearing a wool sweater it's cold enough to require sleeves.  It took three sweaters to realize this. That is a sad reflection upon my powers of observation.

So for this sweater I think I finally got it. It's going to be that perfect combination of fit and style and sensibility. That is unless I run out of yarn. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rigid Heddle Weaving

In my last post I mentioned the Craftsy classes that I had bought.  One was a weaving class for beginners on rigid heddle looms. 

About 4 years ago Kev gave me a loom for my birthday. It was a little rigid heddle loom called a cricket.  I loved it and wove about 4 scarves on it right away. Then I put it away and haven't used it much since.  

I purchased an e book a while back called Kismet from Hill Country Weavers. The premise of this book is simple weaving on rigid heddle looms combining knitting, crochet and sewing. It's a great book with some really cute and interesting patterns. There are about 7 projects here that I'd like to make.  

Like so many books and magazines I buy, I put it aside for later and I kind of forgot it about. Then one of my favorite video podcasters showed a finished object from this little book and I decided to get out my cricket. 

The project is called Wine and Roses.  You really should check out Steph's (from Must Stash Podcast) version here. Its really cute and so wearable. I think these would make great gifts for Christmas. 

My poor little loom hasn't seen much action in recent years. Immediately after the fire I cleaned it but even today 2 years after the fire it still smells of smoke. 

Also, the two apron rods were gone. I have no idea what happened to them. In the chaos after the fire and the subsequent cleaning I can only assume they've been misplaced. So I improvised and used two large DPNs.  So far it's working out good. 

You can see the straight knitting needle here. This was too long to wind the warp around so I found the shorter DPNs. 

If you look real close here you can see the DPN. The fringe is tied around the it. I am a little nervous that the strands will slide off the ends of the double pointed needle. 

Here is the weaving so far. I've always loved this combination of colours. When I'm done with the weaving I'll pick up stitches and knit in a solid color for 15 inches or so. I'm not sure the best color to use. I'm thinking a charcoal color perhaps. The entire piece is finished with
A crocheted edging and buttonholes. Perhaps I'll use some of the buttons from the order that I placed from etsy last week.  

Stay tuned to see me complete this piece. My tension sucks so far and you can really see this when you look closely at the edge of the weaving. I plan on making more of these or perhaps others from this book. I can only improve right? 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Top Down Icelandic Cardigan

There is this online learning tool called Craftsy. They offer many types of classes in a great format. Some of the classes are free but the more involved ones have a fee. 

I've taken several classes. Rigid heddle weaving, spinning dyed fibers are two of the paid classes that  I've taken so far. 

Recently I signed up for a class by Icelandic phenom Ragga Eiriksdottir called Top Down Icelandic Cardigan. Check her out here.

I'm obsessed with the pattern and the class.  I'm not using the recommended Lopi yarn. I'm using Berrocco Peruvia which is very similar to Lopi in my opinion. I can honestly say that I could probably knit this pattern without taking the class. There aren't any new to me techniques but there is just something about knitting along with Ragga that is so enjoyable. 

I knit the yoke up lickedy split. I chose a cream colour for the contrast and a deep chocolate brown for the main colour.  There also is a tiny amount of a 'pop' colour used. For this I chose a bright blue. I love this combination of colours. 

I'm currently at the point where I've already separated for the sleeves. From here on out I'll be knitting with the brown only. While this may get a little boring at times I want this sweater so badly that I really think I'll push through. 

I'm actually looking forward to the steeking believe it or not. And I've already ordered buttons. That's how much I need this sweater. I should also order some gros grain ribbon. Ragga goes over all of this in her class. The steeking, the sewing  on of the grosgrain ribbon, and even crocheting the button loops. 

I've already watched the class straight through. I rewatch each section as I get to it on my sweater. 

I'm am really hoping that I will enjoy wearing this sweater as much as I've enjoyed knitting it. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Influential Knitter

A few months ago I posted on Instagram a photo of a lace shawl that I had inprogress. It garnered quite a few likes and some questions. The next day the pattern for this shawl was number one on Ravelry's 'Hot Right Now' list.  It's called sweet dreams. 

I was shocked. I have more influence on the knitting community than I realized. I must admit to being a little proud too. The timing of the thing was too perfect for it to have been a coincidence. 

Then when I visited the Yarn Harlots website I realized how delusional I could be.  She was knitting this shawl too. Independent of what I was doing, she had cast on for the exact shawl.   The Yarn Harlot! What was I thinking. Of course the 60 likes I had gotten on Instagram (still impressive in my books) couldn't be enough to influence the top 10 Hot Right Now on Ravelry. But it was really nice for that brief moment.  

I was inspired to cast this on after seeing it knit up in 100% mink yarn at Dartmouth Yarns in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.  It was gorgeous. I purchased the exact same yarn. It was a little darker colour but that didn't matter. I also purchased the same colour glass beads from a store here in town. (There are several stores here that sell beads. We are lucky that way). 

I have no recipient in mind for this little shawl. It is so unbelievably perfect though. The mink. The colour. The beading. And of course the lace. Just look those points. 

The bindoff - as the yarn harlot noted - took forever.  But it was so worth it. 

I had purchased this little shawl pin from an etsy seller out of Montreal called Every Day Peacock.  It is so beautiful!!
And it suits this little shawl so very perfectly. It is the cherry on top of you will. 

By the way if you are in the market for shawl pins or even some very special stitch markers - do check this guy out. His packaging alone made the purchase worth it. I also purchased a really unique music themed pin as a gift for my daughter. It is so beautiful. 

The funny thing was both the Yarn Harlot and I cast on for these shawls about 18 weeks ago (according to Instagram)

And we are both finishing up at the same time even though this shawl didn't take that long to knit. She made many mods to her version making it much larger. I knit mine exactly as the pattern suggested. I did worry about running out of yarn towards the end but it all worked out. 

I wonder what this knitter will be casting on next? Keep looking at Ravelry's top ten. You never know what might show up next. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tour de Fleece Time

It's that time of year again. I think it's my seventh tour. Sadly this has been my least productive tour. 

The Tour de Fleece lasts about three weeks. It runs concurrently with the Tour de France.  I have yet to watch a single minute of the bike event but I guess that isn't the point. 

This year I ended up leaving town for a solid week smack dab in the middle of the tour. It really affected my output. I had  fully intended to spindle spin while I was gone but that really didn't work out

Here is my total yardage spun. Sad hey? Well I love these two skeins but still. I'm used to spinning as many as 10 braids of fiber. 
I spun both if these on my Louet DT S10 and not the sidekick for some reason. I need to clean and oil my sidekick. I think I'll take it upstairs and onto the back laptop. I love to spin out there. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Remember the mittens?

About 5 or 6 posts ago, I wrote about knitting jags. In particular I wrote about going on a mitten knitting jag. I also prophesized that the jag wasn't over because I had a few more mail outs coming from Blueberry Pie Studio's  mmMarvelious Mitten club. 

Turns out I was right. Here's a pair I finished in the great colourway named Turquoise Frosting   I love it so much!! I think this pair may be mine. 

Since I knit these very quickly while travelling to Lab City to watch Max play in a soccer tournament, I immediately cast on for another. The great thing about these club mail outs is that the yarn comes all balled up and ready to go.  This is great when you are looking for something to knit in a hurry. Since I was going to be spending six hours as a passenger driving to Lab City plus hours watching soccer and then six hours driving back I knew that I had lots of knitting time to prepare for. So I grabbed some blueberry pie studio yarns as I was going through the door. 
This colour is called Farmers Market (I think). These will be for one of my lovely stepdaughters. 

I wasn't done yet! I cast on for another pair in some handspun that I had recently finished.  Remember that Lisa Frank batt that I had spun into a dk weight two ply? Well that yarn knit up into a beautiful fabric. It wasn't nearly as crazy looking as I thought it would be. 
I love these so much. I may keep these for myself too. Hey! I live in Labrador. A girl can never have too many mittens. And these are the exact weight and fit that I like my mitts - especially for driving back and forth to work.

And I still wasn't done. This pair is for Cooper.  Again the yarn is from Blueberry Pie Studios Marvelous Mitten Club. The colour is called sunny tulips. 

So what do you think? I'm getting a good start on winter (which comes very quickly here in Labrador). I think I may be done with the mittens for a little while. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014


When I moved to this town almost 25 years ago it took me a while to figure out something that people who are from here seem to inherently know. That is in order to survive the 'hardships' of living in a very isolated community you MUST find a way to leave it several times a year.

This may sound a bit extreme to those of you not living in an isolated town but trust me on this one. Now things have certainly improved in the past 25 years. The road through Quebec is so much better with large parts of it now being paved (yeah we have it good) and there is even a second road out of here through the southern part of Labrador. 

My first year in the 'Big Land' was an eye opener. For starters I was a new mother raising my daughter away from my own family. I didn't know many people here. I fell in love with Labrador though. I remember lying on my bed one day nursing my infant daughter when I happened to glance out of the bedroom window only to see the largest bird I had ever laid eyes on perch atop the telephone pole that was just feet from my house. It was a Golden eagle and I'd never seen anything like it!! 

But I became sad somehow. I thought maybe I had the baby blues but that wasn't it. My daughter was the center of my universe. I just missed my family. And I missed being able to go to shops.  I had become a little stir crazy living in such an isolated community. So I visited my mom and my sister. And I went shopping. I came back to Labrador refreshed and revitalized and ever since then I have gotten out of here at least twice a year. 

2014 has been a year like no other!  So far since January I have taken five (that's 5) trips out of Labrador. I've been to St John's three times. I've been to Halifax once. And I've been to Montreal once.  

Now the thing you need to understand about people living in isolated communities is that when given the opportunity to shop somewhere outside (of Labrador in this case) we will do so no matter if we don't need anything. Living in an isolated community almost makes one want to .... (It's such an ugly word) .... hoard.  There, I've said it. We try to anticipate future needs when we get to shop in larger centers because we know that if we buy something in St. John's will likely cost 40% more in Labrador. That's just the way it is. 

Now factor knitting into this equation. Do you see where I'm going with this? Everytime I travel, I look for the best yarn shops in town. And then I try to anticipate any future knitting I might do. This is trickier than it sounds.  My stepdaughters have two young boys each. But are they done making babies? Technically I could have another grandbaby before I travel again. 

Now I will admit that Internet shopping had made things SO. MUCH. EASIER.  But there is something very tactile about yarn shopping. Sure, the colours look great on my computer monitor but I have no way of know what the yarn feels like next to skin. 

Because of this, I tend to hoard yarn. When I get to physically go into a yarn shop and actually pick up and feel yarn and squish yarn and yes, even bury my nose in it and smell yarn, well, I tend to go a little nuts. 

The result is an awesome stash. And I think I have achieved SABLE (stash acquired beyond life expectancy)  

I took a picture of this little yarn/craft shop in St John's called Fiber Lilly. It's pretty cute. 

And this is the yarn that I bought on trip 2 to St John's at Cast On Cast Off. I bought yarn there on each of the three trips. Don't judge. 

This beauty I bought (among others) at Mouline in Montreal. 

And I didn't even take a photo of the stuff that I bought when I went to Halifax. I bought a bunch of yarn at Dartmouth Yarns and even some nice rustic yarns T the Halifax market. (I also bought a darning egg there too but that's another post). 

The sad thig is (or perhaps the great thing) that I'm not done travelling this year. Kev and I are planning a trip to Charlottetown, PEI and perhaps Niagra Falls, Ont - and I know there are yarb shops in both of those cities. We may need to build a piece on.