Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sweet Pin Cushion

After seeing this sweet pincushion, I had to make one! Unfortunately, I don't have many (any) scraps or selvedges, but I do have some pretty cotton prints waiting to be used.

Oh, and I don't know how to quilt but was willing to learn -- except none of my fabrics really complimented each other. So I just made the pin cushion without the quilt squares, or the fancy selvedge pockets. I found a Montreal crafter (on Ravelry!) with a scrap of quilt batting, and got to work.

I used the bird print for the outer pockets and the cushion, muslin for the main piece in center and the backing, and a small floral print for the inside of the pockets. The cushion itself is lined with quilt batting, and stuffed with fine steel wool and some cotton scraps. This will help the needles stay sharp.

The most difficult part of this project was the binding! It was really tricky, and isn't perfect, but that's okay.

This is a Christmas gift for my grandmother, who is always sewing, quilting, or knitting.

Monday, November 16, 2009

WOOL, specifically Briggs & Little's Regal

There is a great article in the latest Twist Collective, called "The Softness Myth" by Clara Parkes. It is an excerpt from her new book, The Knitter's Book of Wool. Click here to read the article. (I had a mini-gush-fest about her Knitter's Book of Yarn last winter, and have asked for the new book for Christmas this year. Whoo!)

Wool is definitely my favourite fibre -- there is so much variety, it looks so crisp, and I love the natrual properties: warm even when wet, flame-resistant, etc. I won't drone on.

This seems like a good time to write about the yarn I am using for one of my current WIPs. My husband had been asking for a sweater, so I picked a few patterns that were within my skill and interest level, and let him pick the one he liked best. Ever unique, he selected Tiennie's Fog Sweater, with the cabled sleeves of Jodi Greene's Durrow. He wanted a plain, manly colour -- brown, grey, dark green, etc -- and no stripes. I chose black, always a favourite and easy to coordinate. I wanted a textured yarn, a little rough and with some lanolin as this sweater will be outerwear... A yarn to last a decade, with what I call "character," and I wanted to support a Canadian yarn maker. (We are going through the Canadian citizenship process for my hub, and I'm always saying how great Canada is, so why not use Canadian wool?)

After some research, I settled on Briggs & Little Regal (Rav page), a worsted-weight yarn from a family-run mill in my home province of New Brunswick. The mill is over 150 years old; my grandmother has knit their yarn for decades. What a legacy! The comments on Ravelry really sealed the deal and assured me that it was exactly what I was looking for.

I tried a few retailers, but none had the quantity I needed, so I ordered directly from the mill. The phone service was great, very friendly, and I was pleased with the prices and quick shipping (orders are mailed the next day). I even asked to please make sure the skeins were of the same dye lot and the woman replied, "Oh, we always do!" I highly recommend them!! You can check out the Briggs & Little site here; there's a virtual tour of the mill.

The sweater is going really well. I haven't taken a picture because a big, black piece of 1x1 ribbing isn't too interesting. I'm halfway through the second hank, and have come across one spot where the yarn was tied off (I just cut out the knot and spit-spliced the ends together). Otherwise, it's been great. There is some variety in the thickness/thinness of the yarn, but I'm sure it will even out upon blocking, and hell, it gives it the character I wanted. It is lightweight: I used 3.5mms for the hem of the sweater, and 3.75mms for the body. The yarn does make my hands a little dry when I work with it, ande there's a bit of vegetable matter to pull out, but nothing major. I'm going to wash and block the sweater before making my final verdict, but so far I am very happy with my choice.

Oh, and I'm very happy with the Fog Sweater pattern too :)

Sunday, November 8, 2009


It has been an embarrassingly long time since I last posted. And I was so excited to share pictures from my little fabric shopping trip in upstate New York -- oh, but I haven't even taken the pictures yet. Oh well. I have so far made 2 skirts -- but it is much too cold to wear them before Spring -- and I just finished up a gift I was making for my hubs for our 1st anniversary, which is next week.

He has a beloved bathrobe that I've been trying to replace without much success... So I figured I'd make a replacement! I got yards and yards (FIVE!) of blue terrycloth at Joanne's during the trip I mentioned (and was able to use a 50% off coupon) -- I'd have preferred a different colour, but light pink and light blue were the only choices. I figured most bathrobe patterns would be the same, so I selected a Simplicity 2-hour pattern. However, it took much longer than 2 hours, as I double- or triple-sewed every seam. I want this to last gosh dang it, and since I was working with terry cloth (and have no pinking shears), I made sure to zig-zag as well straight-stitch every seam.

SOMETHING TO NOTE about the pattern: the measurements on the pattern envelope did seem quite large -- the large size had a chest measurement of 48-50 inches. THAT'S HUGE compared to a man's size "L" t-shirt. I went with that anyway, thinking bigger is better and cozier... Then when I was looking up the pattern to include a pic with this post, I learnt that THIS IS A PLUS-SIZE PATTERN. It does not say that anywhere on the envelope or in the pattern -- the only indication is the measurements themselves, and if you didn't know any better, how could you tell? Anyway, it's just a robe so it's not a big deal, but it should have been marked somewhere. Thumbs down.

I omitted the fusible interfacing from the front band (a lot of hassle for a small result), and also left off the belt loops. I did patch pockets rather than the set-in ones the pattern included, to better match the old beloved bathrobe. It had been ages since I last used a pattern and jeez, I forgot how tiring it is to first cut out all of the pattern pieces, and then pin them down and cut the fabric.

The bathrobe was sewn surreptitiously over a few weekends: I washed and cut the fabric at my mother's house right after it was purchased. (Okay I admit my mum cut it -- I'm left-handed couldn't get her sewing scisssors through 2 thick layers.) I've been working on it while my husband has been out to watch his weekly football game. It had to be done over a few weeks, mostly because of the time it took me to remove the fabric from its hiding place and set up my sewing station, as well as re-hide the fabric and clean up all evidence. TERRY CLOTH SHEDS - A LOT. I've had to sweep each time, as well as use the lint-roller on myself, my chair, the ironing board, the door mat...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Cross Stitch

Last Sunday I did this:

I have been meaning to try cross stitch for a while. When I saw a book on the sale table, I knew it was time! I picked up the supplies from a fabric store; I was surprised at how expensive the Aida cloth was -- and that it wasn't available by the metre, only in a little package. I do have the address of an embroidery store in Westmount, so I will try to stop by sometime soon. After doing these initials based on a chart in the book, I freestyled the little watermelon. No real reason behind it except that I bought blue-grey, pink, and light green embroidery thread. I have sketched something on some graph paper and am hoping to share it soon.

Friday, June 5, 2009


When I am done Jack's socks, I will treat myself to 10 skeins of Elann's Camila. It is a 50/50 Cotton Linen blend and I have something special in mind. I have not knit with linen, but the book describesw it as having lovely drape, being quite cool, and just improving in softness, texture, and appearance the more you wash it. It is also a very strong fibre, and there are all sorts of other details that make me excited to try it out. This particular yarn has some lovely projects linked up on Ravelry, as well as great reviews on various blogs. AND at only $2.75 (US) per 112m skein, this will be a very affordable way to so much yardage.

I am excited but am using my willpower to not order a huge amount of yarn.. Until I finish at least one project.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Knitting Needle Storage

I used to keep my knitting needles in a beautiful vase... But one day it was knocked over and it shattered. No big deal, I knew it was going to happen sooner or later since I am such a klutz; somehow, I am not to blame for its breakage though. Now I keep my needles in a big stainless steel holder, but wanted a better way to organize them. So I made this today:

I did not use a tutorial, but just made a little mock-up out of paper, and then started cutting the fabric. I made sure to make it tall enough that I could fold down the top flap to keep the needles secure:

I picked up the blue and purple fabric last week, and the yellow butterfly print is a vintage bedsheet that I've had for a couple of years. I bought it thinking that it would make a lovely summer dress, but never got around to it (I don't look good in yellow!). I used the hem of the sheet in such a way that I could avoid hemming the tops of the pockets.

I didn't have any pretty ribbon, so it is being held closed with a couple of hair elastics for now. It is quite hefty when it is all rolled up and could substitute as a nice head-whacker in a pinch. THOWK!

I am very happy with this project.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Tea and a Sock

What a nice way to start one's day: with tea and a sock.

The sock is the second half of a pair that I am knitting for my friends' daughter's first birthday. This little girl was the recipient of the first sweater I ever made, and I decided to follow the same strategy to figure out socks: start small!

The sock is just a plain top-down sock that fit my needs: pattern uses sock yarn and is sized for 12mo. I decided to jazz them up a little by adding the cables to the cuff. I really had no idea how much yarn they would take, so I used the bigger of my 2 skeins of leftover sock yarn. In this case, the yarn is leftover from the feather & fan scarf that I knit for my Great-Aunt Jenny. I was a bit perplexed by the gusset instructions, but decided to just gto for it, and I've had great success.

The panda mug is one of a pair that my friend Elise gave to Jack and I as a wedding present. She threw the mugs (on a potter's wheel), glazed them, and hand-painted the pandas and the gold edging. I love these mugs!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Braided Cable Arm Warmers

The weekend after I knit my wooly owl mittens, I spent an afternoon playing around with cables. I didn't have a pattern, but was just experimenting with different patterns and widths. I felt counterproductive after so much knitting and ripping, knitting and ripping, so I settled on a nice braided cable and made some arm warmers:

Pattern: My own
Yarn: Jojoland 100% wool in Hawaiian Blue (1.5ish skeins)
Needles: 4.5 and 5mm
New skill: Braided cables

I made these with Spring in mind -- it's bicycle riding season! I don't like to wear mittens when I bike because I find they are too slippery on thr brake handles. And given that I lost one of my nice leather gloves after only a few weeks, I figured I'd make some fingerless mitts. I wanted to make sure they covered my some of fingers and a bit of my thumbs to keep me warm -- it is still pretty chilly in Montreal.

In addition to the extended finger covering, I also made sure to knit extra-long arms on them. I want to make sure no cold air sneaks up my sleeves! The pattern is reversible, so I made two copies of the same mitt.

My favourite detail is the way that the ribbing feeds into the cables. Here is the WIP picture I posted whe they were actually in progress:

Overall, this was a great weekend project and I'm very happy with them. I kept detailed notes and have a few tweaks in mind if I ever knit them again.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I'm working on a new cardiagan/jacket. Having used a whole skein of Cascade 220 means that I knit 200m this weekend! I estimate that the jacket is 25% done, but I'm being safe. I actually have a slight friction burn on my index finger from so much knitting!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Twit, Twit, Twoo

As I often mention, I am trying to learn a new skill with each project. Well, I got really excited about cables a few weeks ago, and found the perfect small project to do so:

Pattern: Give a Hoot by Kelbourne Woolens
Yarn: Garnstudio Drops Alaska (100% wool)
Needles: 4mm and 5mm
New skill: CABLES!

I'm not yet ready to knit the owl sweater, so these mittens were just enough to satiate me.

The pattern is very well-written. It does produce a rather small mitten, but this can be easily fixed. Since I have long, slim hands, I just needed to lengthen mine by knitting an extra round of knit stitches before the gusset increases, and a few extra repeats of rows 14 and 28. I also made long cuffs that can be tucked into my sleeves. The yarn was alright. It made a nice and sturdy pair of mittens, but I wouldn't use it for a garment (except outerwear).

I went to RixRax to get the teeny tiny buttons for the eyes. I always love that store -- so many possibilities! -- but I don't think I will be going there again. The store is wonderful, but the service is severly lacking; it's the kind of store where you feel like you're not wanted. So I will spend my money elsewhere!

After wearing those mitts for a few cozy weeks, Spring is in the air, so they will be retired shortly. Don't worry, I've already knit some armwarmers!

Oh yeah, and cables? Easy peasy. The directions in this pattern make it absolutely clear and terror-free. I used a DPN for them, but my sis has since sent me some cable needles.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Braided Cable

I spent last night trying playing around with cables, and today I am making:

Special thanks to the Very Good Dog that let me photograph that on her. I'm sure this is a standard cable pattern, but I figured it out myself, so huzzah!

Paper Cranes

Oh, goodness. I have fallen in love... With a dress! Check out the absolutely beautiful Paper Crane Frock, from grosgrainfabulous. Not only is it absolutely gorgeous, but it is even available to win! And, ahem, made right to my measurements. Too good to be true, right? Fingers crossed that if I ever win a contest, it will be this one! The blog features achingly adorable kids costumes sprinkled with other wonderful giveaways and it is so easy to win -- just post a link and share the love!

I have spent my evening experimenting with knitting cables and exploring crafty blogs. I would really like to go fabric shopping tomorrow, but I'm not sure if the garment district is open n Sundays. I suppose it is worth a trip, as it's only a short metro ride. Fabric shopping, woohoo!

Now i'm off to peruse Craft Gossip, which grosgrainribbon described so inticingly...

Saturday, February 28, 2009

A February Sweater for a Lady

This was my first cardigan, first adult-sized garment, and it was a wonderful project. I really enjoyed it: the pattern, the yarn, the sense of accomplishment! I found that once I got through the yoke and worked a few repeats of the lace pattern, I didn’t go back to the pattern at all. It was very easy to figure out the next step, and the seagull lace was easily memorised. (Though I have to say, I think that “seagull lace” is a misnomer. Can’t decide what I would have named it, but my mother suggested “flying geese.”)

Pattern: February Lady Sweater by Pamela Wynne
Yarn: Sirdar Click DK with Wool
Needles: 5mm, 4.5mm, 3.75mm
New skills: full-sized garment! Modified to fit just me! Reversible, 1-row buttonholes!

I had some early frustration: I knit the entire yoke and then ripped it out… four times. THE ENTIRE YOKE. As my gauge and yarn weight were slightly different from the pattern, I knew from the beginning that I would have to modify the number of CO sts. I also knew that I would omit the eyelet row, as my bosom isn’t exactly busting out of my tops. However, I had some difficulties with numbers: the lace pattern is over 7sts, so I had to work it so that front pieces, sleeves, and the back section each had a number of stitches divisible by 7. I realised this a little late, as I would have preferred to work it all out before casting on. Well, live and learn. So, I made an Excel spreadsheet. Seriously. I am not mathematically inclined, and was getting really frustrated as I kept knitting and frogging, knitting and frogging… the spreadsheet really made everything so clear!

I brought the cardigan with me on my family's Christmas trip to Cuba. (As soon as I found out that the tickets had been booked, I confirmed that I could bring my knitting needles on the plane. While it was much too cramped to actually knit when we were in the air, it was great to have them with me for the hours spent waiting at the gate.) My goal was to finish knitting the body when I was there -- and I would have, but I ran out of yarn with only a few rows left on the hem. Should have brought that second ball of yarn! The picture at right was snapped on Christmas Day.

I modified this quite heavily to suit me:

Needles: As you can tell from the picture, I made my sweater a little more fitted than the pattern called for. The yoke was knit on 5mm needles; about half-way down the body I switched to 4.5mm needles. I did this because I noticed that several sweaters on Ravelry seemed to sag in the back. I am quite slim, so I wanted it to be more fitted. As I wanted fitted sleeves, I picked up the sleeve stitches with 5mm needles and worked one round, then switched to 4.5mm to continue the sleeves. The cuffs were done with on 3.75mms, as I found the garter st was too loose at 4mm.

Yoke: CO 83sts; increased to 231 before starting lace pattern. (If you’re following the math, this meant one final row of raglan increases that was different from all the others.) Omitted eyelet row.

Buttons and Buttonholes: 4 buttonholes worked for 4sts and spaced over 12 rows. I chose quality metal buttons with shanks, and sewed small plastic buttons on the reverse. This is the best way that I know to sew buttons to knits!

Sleeves: I was thinking of making this long-sleeved, but I had no clue how to work decreases into the lace pattern (so that the sleeve would remain fitted – I’m not a fan of the baggy sleeves seen on the Ravelry project pages). Once I knit the first sleeve and tried it on, I decided it was great as-is, and scrapped the idea of figuring out the decreases. The cuffs (as well as the hem at the bottom of the body) were knit to match the width of the garter stitch edging.

Yarn: Sirdar Click is a lovely, springy DK blend of 30Wool/70Acrylic. I usually shun acrylic, but this is just such a nice yarn. It is soft, lustrous, a beautiful teal colour, and a real pleasure to knit with. I picked it up from Knit Knackers in Ottawa, where it cost $4.99/ball last autumn. With 150m per ball, what a steal! I didn’t keep track of the number of balls I used – I am 98% sure it was four-and-a-bit, but I’d say five-and-a-bit to be safe.

All in all, this was a well-written pattern knit up with lovely yarn. I'm very happy with the finished product, and highly recommend it as a "first garment" project.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Preliminary pictures

Well, it's February, which meant that I had to finish my February Lady Sweater. This has been done for a few days, and now that I've found buttons, I figured I'd post a few pictures:

Buttons! Had a really difficult time getting buttons, which is what really delayed this project over the last couple of weeks. My usual buttons stores were closed, so I ended up grabbing these from the fabric store. (Sorry the picture is not too clear, but I assure you that they are lovely.)

I was really, really careful as I knit this. I wanted it to be as amazing as I could possibly make it. I am not a perfectionist and often just move on when I notice errors, but this time, I went back and fixed them – unless they were noticed several inches later, in which case I decided SCREW IT!

Learning curveballs:
- modifying the yoke... ouf, math is not one of my strong suits
- accidentally knit a stitch marker into the fabric – not worth frogging all that lace, so I sacrificed the stitch marker, though I was sad to see it go. It was from a set I received in the Montreal Knits swap.
- overzealousness on a WS row meant that I purled the last 7 sts, instead of knitting to make garter st – again, not worth frogging all that lace so I used a crochet hook and a tail of yarn to make it less noticeable
- somehow have a few rows where the columns of lace are off – not worth frogging (do you see a pattern here?)

Anyway, I'm happy with the project, despite the snags. It was a great pattern, and I'm so excited to wear my first finished garment. It is just about done blocking, but I'm going to leave it overnight -- and probably all day tomorrow, since I don't have much time before heading to work in the morning. Tomorrow evening, I will sew on the buttons (while my banana bread is baking) and it will finally be complete. I am excited to try on the finished project! Many more details to come...

Saturday, January 31, 2009

First FO of 2009

I was itching to knit with this yarn. It was in my possession for one week, but it was calling to me, the tiny hairs were whispering, it was wrapping itself around my fingers as I slept..

Okay, that is a bit much. But you know that yarn that as soon as you see it, you need to knit it -- but only the most perfect project will do? Yeah, that's this yarn. My husband put two skeins of beautiful Louet Bonnie yarn in my Christmas stocking, which was a lovely surprise when I returned from my trip to Cuba. This wool-silk blend (94 and 6%, respectively) is so soft and absolutely gorgeous that I knew I had to knit a little something pour moi with that yarn. A lot of knitters use gifted yarns to make things for other people, but Jack got the yarn for me and so it remains for me.

At first, I didn't think that "Forest Floor" was an appropriate name for this colourway, but after unwinding the skein knitting row upon row of gorgeous, subtle colour changes, Forest Floor seems just right. There is just over one full colour repeat in each 80m skein.
I whipped up this little neckwarmer yesterday evening, using just less than a skein. There are only a few meters left, to hopefully balance out any mismatched colour in the second project I intend to use this for..

Pattern: Cowl'd and Frosty Morning, by Kelly Herdrich
Yarn: Louet Bonnie, colour 03 Forest Floor
Needles: 6mm (5.5 would have sufficed)
New skills: err.. Okay, I broke my own rule with this one. No new skill with this project.
Modifications: 1 extra repeat of pattern

I plan to use the other skein for the stripes on a matching pair of mittens. I just need to find a solid-colour yarn that deserves to be knit alongside this one. Bonnie is a bit lightweight for a bulky, so hopefully something appropriate will turn up.

This pictures don't quite do the yarn justice. It is gorgeous. Gorgeous.

(If you're wondering about my recent post on the proliferation of cowls and my subsequent knitting of a cowl, let me tell you this: I do not have a problem with cowls. They're quick knits, instant gratification, and I imagine they are much more comfortable for knitters in warmer climates who may long for scarves, but are too sensible to knit something they'll get no use of. Hey, I live in chilly Montreal and I made one! It's just that so many of these patterns seem to be turning up and they are, let's face it, remarkably similar. You know, like the dozens of garter stitch or 1x1 rib or mistake rib scarves you find on Ravelry. It's great that the internet allows so many people to become self-published designers, don't get me wrong, but how many freaking garter stitch scarf "patterns" are really needed?)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What are you excited to knit?

Goodness. I'm suddenly really excited to learn cables. First, I saw Alexis Layton's lovely Cabled Hot Water Bottle Cosy. There is something so appealing about this. I love the natural coloured wool and the chunky cables. Sure, I already knit a hot water bottle cover, but I won't let that stop me. Especially since my hot water bottle (and lovely alpaca cover) kept my feet warm last night -- while the power was out and we had no heat for 4hrs. Scheduled yet wholly surprising maitenance! Apparently my landlord had been notified of this scheduled outage, but he definitely failed to notify his tenants. Ah well. OnedayIwillownmyownhome.

AND THEN I saw the absolutely AMAZING Owl sweater -- I can't believe I had not seen this yet. It is so beautiful!! And there are already a few pages of successful patterns on Ravelry.

Yessss. I will learn cables.

(Eventually. My next big project will be a sweater for the hubby.)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Knitter's Book of Yarn by Clara Parkes

This book is amazing. Amazing! It tells you about all different types of fibres, where they come from, how they are harvested or created, and how you can expect them to re/act when knit.

My brother gave it to me for Christmas/my birthday. It was on my wishlist, and I'm very happy to have it! The book is well-written and really informative. Not to mention that it really feeds into my desire for an alpaca farm and angora bunnies.. I was reading this on the train home to Montreal after flying back from Cuba and was actually giggling aloud. My seatmate kept peering at my book, presumably wondering how knitting could be so funny.

I haven't checked out all the patterns, but they seem pretty nice. Nothing jumped out at me, but I'm sure I will knit something. The ruffled scarf is quite nice.
I highly recommend this book. It is a great resource.