And another thing

In the last few years, the infrequent things I’ve posted have mostly been finished things. Or at least I intended to post them. There’s been a lot of catch up. While my making of things hasn’t waned over the years, my reporting of them has. Which makes me reflect on what my intentions are in this space. I have been quite out of the habit of blogging for quite sometime and yet I can’t quite bring myself to call it quits entirely.

Crafty blogs have been quite important to me over the years, which is why I felt the need to start one up in the first place. Even when I haven’t been actively participating by sharing my own content, I have endeavoured to keep up with what other crafters have been posting and taking inspiration from that. Mostly, I read blogs though I rarely comment. It’s tricky when you follow a bunch of them. And commenting is one of the more frustrating experiences to try and do from a smartphone. I don’t intentionally lurk, but effectively I do.

Communities demand a certain amount of participation of their members in order to survive. And as I’ve become a big time smartphone user in the past few years, I’ve shifted to using more immediate forms of posting short commentary snippets, Twitter and Instagram mostly. So that’s satisfied my need to share things in the short term.

While this sharing is more immediate, impulsive and rewarding (with likes & favourites), it’s also less focused or detailed. Twitter & Instagram have been about whatever I’m doing at the moment, and thus not much about crafting. And I find I no longer am keeping track of many details of my projects. I start things to have something to work on. Finish them and use them. I might take pictures & try to remember when I worked on it to put something in Ravelry or on Flickr, eventually. Or often I won’t. Which is fine. Life moves on, we all understand.

But I kind of miss it. I miss delving into the detail of my inspiration. I miss sharing my excitement over a newly learned technique. I miss feeling connected to people who are maybe actually interested in hearing my rambling details of what changes I made to a pattern, or understand why handmade quilts make for the best naps. I miss being a contributing member to community that has been important to me.

And there has been no real reason for me to have stopped.


Now I’ll ramble a bit about a sweater I’m currently working on.

Garter stitch beginings

Back in May, I finished knitting a shawl (I’ll maybe tell you about it sometime). Once the end of the border was grafted to it’s beginning, and it took up it’s current residency on my coffee table, I begun swatching for Candlewick.

I have had this yarn and patterned picked out for sometime. I probably bought this yarn back in May/June 2012 after finishing the Audrey in Unst I knit using Briggs and Little sport (and never posted about).

This is one of the few times that I think I’ve purchased yarn with a specific pattern in mind. And I even started swatching right away. I don’t recall why this was put aside. I probably just got busy at work and continued with something that was further along and didn’t need as much thinking.

Or maybe I was cross stitching? I don’t remember.

Finished back & right front beginnings

Fast forward to May. I knit some new swatches, managed to find the right gauge with this yarn (2.75mm needle). Cast on for the back. Made sure to check the measurements in the schematic and compared them to my new favourite cardigan. And just this morning I finished the back and started on the right front.

Can I tell you something? I am in LOVE with this yarn! 40% Merino, 30% Organic Cotton and 30% New Zealand Possum fibre. I was intrigued by the possum and it’s just knitting up to make a beautiful fabric. There’s a great squishiness to the garter-stitch borders.

It’s too early to really tell, but this might just be the hand-knit sweater that I’ll finally wear. This could even become a favourite sweater (I hope I didn’t jinx anything).

So here’s to getting back into the habit of things.

Mitten Repair Shop

I’ve found myself repairing some knitwear recently. The last few days have been spent working on repairing some wonderful fair isle gloves friends of mine brought back from a trip to Iceland last year. While these gloves are really well knit, they’re a bit delicate for the inescapable winter chore of shovelling snow. Well inescapable for most Canadians.

While fixing these gloves, I found myself returning to the long avoided task of fixing my father’s fair isle mittens which succumbed to a similar fate. I knit these mittens as a Christmas present back over the ’11-’12 holiday break. My dad loved these mittens and I quickly heard back about how wonderfully warm they were, perfect for an Edmonton winter (which is a true test for hand knit accessories).

The downside to knitting these “ultimate” mittens was that my dad wore them for all of his outdoor winter activities, including shovelling the driveway. After 1.5 winters, the exceedingly soft alpaca that they are made from was worn through on many parts and I had to figure out how to fix them.

While I found it wonderful that my dad loved his mittens so much that he was wearing them all the time, it was heart wrenching to see how roughly these mittens had been used. I decided the best way to fix them was to reknit the tops of the mittens & thumbs, not a problem as there was plenty of yarn left over from the first time around.

But there was a bigger problem that was causing me to delay this repair. Sure, I could fix them, but in another year or so, I’ll be fixing them again. I could be set for Christmas presents for life, re-knitting mittens for my dad every year. As much of a hard time as gift shopping can be, I’d rather not knit the same thing year after year.

So the real fix is a bit more that perpetually re-knitting some mittens, it’s the creation of a mitten system. Yes, I am fixing this pair of already beloved mittens, but I’m also going to knit a second pair of “work” mittens out of a more hard wearing yarn. Alpaca is quite soft and warm, but the average Canadian snow shoveller requires fibre that is a bit tougher. Some sturdy wool mittens that will felt rather than fray with the reality of everyday winter chores.

So…what exactly happened in 2013?

Clearly last year’s efforts to try and post projects from 2012 bogged down any kind of posting about more current projects from 2013. So I’m going to do one mega post in point form of what the heck I made last year. Some of these projects have more pictures, feel free to click through to Flickr and have a look around.

SEWING 2013

I made 2 giant yellow tote bags.

Finally finished making a box bag from a thousand years ago.

Made a baby box bag out of the leftover yellow fabric and sent it to my Mom with the previously mentioned gianormous tote. She uses it to keep all her lipsticks together.

Made a set of 3 box bags as a birthday present for my friend Susie.

Started piecing a quilt. Finished the top, sandwiched it around Easter and slowly hand quilted most of it during the rest of the year. I have 4 blocks left to go.

Finally put button holes in 2 shirt dresses. I used the button hole attachment for my old Singer Featherweight. The resulting button holes are really nice.

Almost finished another shirt dress.
Made a 3rd version of Vogue 8728 for myself, with added side seam pockets and contrasting bias edging (didn’t have quite enough yardage).
Made 2 versions of the Amy Butler mini dress for my Mom. Cut out and coached her to sew number 3.
Almost finished sewing DKNY Vogue V1160, again for my Mom. Got stymied on the last step, rolled hem in polyester chiffon. Still have to finish that.
I paused sewing here for a while. Too much sweatshop sewing this summer.
Worked on the ever-growing hand pieced hexagons here and there.

Then did some Hawaiian appliqué during Christmas holidays. I finished a block I’d begun last year, and made it halfway through another block.

SPINNING 2013

I finished spinning a batt I’d started in 2012 (I think). Aspen Grove Farm Batt purchased in Lunenburg during our 2012 summer trip to the Maritimes.
Then I started spinning another batt purchased from Lettuce Knit during a weekend trip to Toronto. It’s still waiting on my wheel for me to finish it.

KNITTING 2013

This was the year of the striped baby blanket. I made 3, and have given away 2. I really like the colour combo on the 3rd one, but fear that most people might find it too ugly? And the 3rd baby’s Dad is a big Montreal Canadians fan…



I started a Damson shawl, then put it away for bad behaviour (not enough yarn and too ugly).

I knit the 2nd Cladonia shawl for my Mom.

I made myself some “early Winter mittens” to wear from 0°C to -15°C, then it’s time for stranded mittens to take over. I started these as cable on the side mittens, but didn’t like them. So I switched to a knit from the top pattern.

I participated in the Westknits Color Craving Mystery Shawl, which ended up kind of giant.

I finally finished my Koigu Pomatomuses. These were going to be flip top, and I did make one of the tops. Then I decided I would find the tops more annoying than useful, so finished them as is.

I decided that after five Winters of wearing the same beret, it was time for a new Winter hat. After scouring all the slouchy cable patterns I could find, I finally settled on Rosebud. And then I knit 2.


I started some leg warmers over the holidays which are still in progress.
And I think that’s everything. Phew.

I made a shawl once.

Begun in the summer of 2012, finished early in 2013 and now eventually blogged in 2014.

Finished & blocked shawl

Left side of shawl

Shawl detail

Right curve of shawl

Pattern: Cladonia by Kirsten Kapur
Materials: Fleece Artist Peter Rabbit & Handmaiden Great Big Sea
Start Date: July 28, 2012
End Date: August 17, 2012
Blocked: February 8, 2013

I made this shawl for my Mom, out of yarn she selected during our trip to the Maritimes in 2012. There’s another version of this shawl with nearly the same yarns in blues that I knit for her in 2013.

I had cast on a version for myself in some non-fluffy yarns, but it sat unfinished for long enough and I finally frogged it last week along with some other long-standing unfinished lace projects.

Perfect socks

I rashly cast on a pair of socks last week. It couldn’t be avoided. As soon as I saw this incarnation (Ravelry link), I just had to dig out my Regia Nation Color and cast on right away. As the pattern is written as toe-up, I decided to make them Magic Loop too.

The toes look a little strange once started. My knitting curled as I was working on the toes reminding me of that iconic image of the Wicked Witch of the East from the Wizard of Oz. The very beginning part is really just to fit your big toe (purple stripe) and then as you start up the bias increases, you make the part that will fit the rest of your toes (teal stripe). And there’s really a right sock and left sock simply from this bias shaping. Though the instructions are the same for both socks until you get to the beginning of the heel instructions.

These socks never got boring. It might seem like the increase on one side and decrease on the other would become second nature, there’s so much more to do in this pattern to make them into socks. Increases to make the gussets leading up to the heel. All kinds of extra increases to make the fabric for the heel which is then grafted to itself. Then once you’ve grafted, you work decreases to get back to your original stitch number. Work straight for a bit (if you want longer socks) and then work short rows to straighten things out before you start up on the ribbing. Never a dull moment.

Pattern: Skew
by Lana Holden
Materials: Regia Nation Color 5399
Modifications: Magic loop baby.
Start Date: March 1, 2010
End Date: March 6, 2010

Oh and can I rave a bit about the resulting socks? They are awesome! If the fit works out well like mine did, then you might find you have the perfect pair of socks. Yes, I’ll repeat that. Perfect pair of socks. I do find that putting them on is on the tricky and snug side, but once they’re on, they’re awesome. Because of the strange slanted toe, there’s no seam to restrict foot movement. And the stretch of the fabric compliments the stretch of the toes — sideways. It’s all the beauty of bare feet, but like warm.

The bias of the fabric on the foot and leg and close fit of the sock keep these socks from having the usual handknit sock slouch that I usually get. You know what I mean. Socks are normally tugged up nicely for photos, but when worn, especially as you walk, they start to slouch and look sloppy. Lastly these are one of the few pairs of handknit socks that I have that will actually fit into my favourite sneakers. Needless to say, I’ve been wearing these socks for 3 days straight. I think I should cast on another pair right away. I think I’ve found my go to sock pattern.

Leaf Lace Scarf

This yarn has been burning a hole in my stash since February. Really dying to be knit. Even while working on other projects I’ve kept one eye on the lace patterns trying to find something worth using this super squishy awesome yarn. There were a couple of shawl contenders but would have been a stretch with one skein.

I came across this pattern during a crafternoon with Mr. Peabody and knew immediately it was THE pattern for this yarn.

I initially cast on as written in the pattern, with 4.5mm needles and two pattern repeats. After one chart repeat I could see the gauge was too loose and the scarf too narrow for my liking. I ripped and restarted on 3.0mm needles with an extra pattern repeat and went to town knitting away until the whole skein was used up.

Pattern: Haruha scarf by Mari Muinonen
Materials: Malabrigo Yarn Lace in Sealing Wax
Start Date: approx. September 30, 2009
End Date: October 24, 2009

I. Love. This. Yarn. Love it. Malabrigo lace is super soft squishy fabulous. With just enough spin to keep the fibres together this yarn is super nice to knit with. And the resulting fabric is just great. A nice density but really light too. The scarf is quite warm for how thin and light it is.

This scarf has been my pseudo mindless knitting in cafés, hanging out in yarn stores, at work during lunch for the past while. Mindlessly adding inches here and there in between working on other projects. Now I have to really think about what I want to work on next. Or maybe I’ll just cast on for another mindless scarf in the meantime.

Some contenders include:
Lace Ribbon Scarf
Anne
Chevron Scarf

Fall Repeats

I enjoyed the Jaywalkers that I made for my mom so much that I had to make myself a pair out of similarly striped yarn.

Pattern: Jaywalkers by Grumperina
Materials: Regia Crazy Color 5437
Start Date: September 16, 2009
End Date: September 24, 2009

I knit these pretty much as written. The second skein started with the right colour to match up the stripes but unfortunately not at the same point of the colour repeat so the stripes don’t quite match up. I did debate about starting at the next repeat of the colour but unraveling all that yarn seems like a waste to me. The stripes are in sync enough that it’s not too jarring. A person has to be really evaluating the harmony of the stripes to notice it which is good enough for me. My general attitude towards matching stripes is pretty lax. I don’t mind if socks end up being fraternal twins rather than a matched set.

The kind of unfortunate thing about these socks is the fit. They’re a bit on the loose side. I may try running them through the dryer to try and get a better fit but in the meantime they’re hanging out in the house socks.

Oh and I generally really love the colour combination.