Monthly Archives: July 2013

From arts camp in the woods

Dear knitters

This week I’m away teaching for my summer week-long stint at the Haliburton School of The Arts summer workshops, or what I affectionately think of as arts camp in the woods. I’ve got a cozy group of knitters (some familiar faces in the mix too from previous years), and it’s been a good week so far.

Yesterday was my birthday, and one fab knitter in the group brought a cake. (Thanks, Sue! You pass.)

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And there’s been good project progress so far, and some relaxing knitting time in the evenings (maybe with a glass of wine or two), so all in all not too shabby.

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Tonight I’m planning to make some more time on my Pi Shawl, in Malabrigo sock. I hear tell there’s a knitalong in August. at the Handknit Yarn Studio in Hamilton, and I want to be all prepped and ready.

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Hope you’re having a great time wherever you’re knitting this week! Catch you again in a few days.

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Knitters in the city

This past Saturday marked the return of what has become an annual event, the TTC Knitalong in Toronto! We gather in various teams in different places throughout the city, everyone gets a chance to shop at a selection of yarn shops (which we are lucky to have many of in Toronto), and along the way we take public transit and knit. Then at the end of the day we collect as a group, think ambitious thoughts about our new purchases, draw a few prizes, and also end up with a small pile of money to give to charity (For five years in a row we have donated all proceeds to Sistering). This event started several years ago from more humble beginnings – just 3 teams, and a different yarn shop landscape than the present day – but has grown bigger every year while keeping the same goals in mind. Knit, travel through the city, buy some great yarn, and have a good time with other knitters! We had our biggest year ever this time.

We always wish we could fit the entire knitting population of the GTA with us, but fitting in 100 knitters plus team captains is pretty great!

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We had a few new-to-the-Knitalong shops in the mix this year, including Creative Yarns in Scarborough, which was the starting point for my team! They were fabulous and got us off to a great start. From there we travelled by bus and subway to The Purple Purl, then by streetcar to Romni Wools, and a walk to Americo before our final destination at the Rivoli pub on Queen St. West. We used all forms of public transit including our own feet, and by the end of the day were very happy to have a cool drink and some seated knitting time! And of course, lovingly hold our new purchases.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the event this year, including all the Toronto yarn shops who were generous with their shopping discounts, prize sponsors (Patternfish, Westminster Fibers, Turtlepurl Yarns, Waterloo Wools, Tanis Fiber Arts, Indigodragonfly, Knitty.com, and more!), and of course all the delightful knitters making it a fun day.

If you missed us this year, I can highly recommend grabbing a few TTC day passes, a few knitting friends, and making your own fun day – maybe even with a pub or two in there, or a lovely dessert stop? The world of Toronto knitting is vast and there’s great yarny times to be had.

Here are a few snaps from my team – I’ll be back later on to show off some of my new purchases too!

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It’s always sweater season

If a person (well, a knitter) were to, say, cast on a bulky cabled cardigan in the middle of winter, you probably would not think this was at all strange. If said knitter were to let that sweater-in-progress sit idle for a couple of months and then pick it up again at the beginning of July when the outside temperatures are starting to reach unspeakable levels…well maybe that might get a few looks, I suppose.

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But you know, last week that’s just what I did. I remembered my Uji cardigan that I started back at the end of February but had to set aside while I finished All The Other Things. I reasoned that since I was already half done with it I could make some decent progress on it even if I only picked it up for an hour or so at a time. It turns out I had done the back and one full sleeve and had started the second one, and now after a bit of air-conditioned-cold-basement knitting I’m past the sleeves and onto one of the fronts. (Knit Picks Cadena, in cranberry – pattern from Twist Collective).

It’s a bit nonsensical to be knitting a sweater like this in the dead heat of summer, to be honest, but as fellow knitter friend Jessie pointed out to me, if you don’t knit these things in the summer, they won’t be ready for you to wear in October. And you know, that’s logic I can understand.

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This was also part of a plan last week to hold myself off from immediately casting on four new projects all at the same time, which is a dangerous impulse when I’m so fresh from finishing a bunch of deadlines. To help that along I also knitted up a few swatches – these are future sweaters that I’d like to work on for the fall (or during the fall, depending on timing I suppose), and I love all of them and have been looking at them with great affection the last few days. They are, since I know folks will ask, top to bottom: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes sport, Harrisville Highland worsted, and Berocco Ultra Alpaca (both purples). Pre-sweaters, if you will.

Turns out sweater knitting is always the right answer.

Hope you’re having a good Friday and that your weekend is filled with some knitting time!

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Digging deep

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So, here’s the thing. Now that I’ve suddenly revived my affection for the Jaywalker sock pattern, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to stop any time soon. I mean, I’m still going to knit other things besides Jaywalkers, of course, but it turns out that finishing one pair means that I just have to cast on a new pair right away. A few years ago I knitted myself a full week’s worth of Jaywalkers (plus a couple of extra), and you know, I think I might need a new week’s worth of them. Plus, I’m a firm believer in following your knitting-obsessed brain where ever it wants to lead you at the time, so bring it on, I say.

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I finished up my green pair last week, along with my Charlotte St. mitts, and I took the opportunity to dig deep into my sock yarn stash for the next pair. This is more Lorna’s Laces shepherd sock, in a limited edition colourway from the original Sock Summit in 2009. Yep, this stuff is 4-year-old stash. Old enough that it’s almost hard to start knitting it up, because then it won’t be stash anymore. If it was a cheddar cheese I’d almost be thinking about saving it for weekend wine & cheese, rather than just any old snack time. I even took a few moments to lovingly photograph it in its skeins, because once you wind it up then you don’t have it in pretty skeined form, and isn’t that sort of a shame?

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, the colourway is called ‘vampire tea party’, showing off a nice gothic dark grey-and-red combination. Also unsurprisingly, I am just as enamoured with the name as I am with the actual colours. And since I had a mostly dark colourway come off the needles, I’m happy to turn to a slightly bright colourway for this next pair. It’s nice to have variety in the sock drawer, after all.

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Sweaters and swatches are also getting back into the mix though, for sure, so I’ll be sure to report more on that next time! I hope you’re staying cool in the summer heat (at least, if you’re in a northern hemisphere clime), and that you’ve got some fun knitting to think about this week. Happy knitting!

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Pattern: Jaywalker, by Grumperina
Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, in ‘skyway’ (completed) and ‘vampire tea party’ (in progress)

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Fall planning

Even though we’ve just arrived at the month of July, (though, really? wasn’t it still June just a minute ago?) and the temperatures outside are not at all fall-like, folks are already at work planning for a few months down the line. Let’s face it, there’s always something going on behind the scenes!

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If you’re a Toronto-area knitter or plan to be in the Toronto area around mid-September, keep your eyes out for the September 18th meeting of the Downtown Knit Collective, which will feature a Twist Collective presentation in celebration of their 5th Anniversary. Fellow knitter and regular Twist contributor Fiona Ellis has been buzzing about this for weeks, so I promised I’d help her get the announcement circulating! Grab the full flyer here and mark your calendars if you’re able.

There will be members of the Twist Collective team as well as local-area Twist knitwear designers at the event, and everyone is encouraged to come wearing items they have made from Twist Collective patterns if they have them! (Or if you’ve got one in progress – you’ve still got a couple of months to finish it before then, phew!) Word is there might be a fashion show and some photography as well. I’ll certainly be in the crowd as well.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled weekend knitting! Hope your Saturday is going well.

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Finish before starting

In the almost-week since I’ve been back from my trip I’ve been diligently trying to work away at the active projects on my needles before starting anything new. For the first time in a very, very long time, I have no known design deadlines on my plate, and it is a very freeing thing to just be able to knit on whatever I feel like and be a regular knitter-at-large for a bit. I know other design projects will come into the mix soon enough, so I’m attempting some self-restraint and not immediately casting on three new sweaters and two shawls, strong though the temptation may be.

For one, I’ve still got the current pair of Jaywalkers on the needles, and thanks to a fair amount of plane knitting time last Saturday am now well into the second one. (It turns out nobody in airports on either end of the trip blinked an eye at my knitting needles. Just don’t try to bring shampoo or lotion or anything really suspicious like that, though, phew.) I like these and will be happy to tuck them away for winter and am happily eyeing my sock yarn stash for the next pair.

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Before Paris I also started a new pair of Charlotte St. Mitts for myself, since I wanted another pair of them for my accessory basket ever since I finished the first one, and it turns out I had some wool/cashmere blend fingering weight yarn all stashed up. Yea verily, I finished up the cuff of the second one yesterday, and now just a few woven ends and a wash-and-block are all that stands between me and a finished project. I still have another full skein of yarn and may even do the full set and work up a matching cowl to go with.

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Still, new projects are calling my name and I think something else will get onto the needles this weekend. I’ve been eyeing my stash more and more lately and look forward to spending some time with it! After all, there’s not much point in collecting sweater quantities of yarn if you don’t cast one on every so often.

What’s new (or soon to be) on your needles this weekend? I hope you’ve got a nice refreshing adult beverage to go with it. Happy knitting!

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Pattern: Jaywalker, by Grumperina
Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, in ‘skyway’

 
Pattern: Charlotte St. Mitts
Yarn: A Verb For Keeping Warm Annapurna, in ‘magic bean’

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New Pattern: Surfacing

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I’ve got a new knitting pattern to show off to you this week, although it’s actually been out and about for a week already, since it was one of the last tasks I completed before heading off on my Paris jaunt last week. This is a little luxurious accessory-sized shawl called Surfacing, and is available here on my Ravelry store and  on Patternfish as well.

A little while ago Sundara invited me to design something in the latest yarn in her ‘color commentary’ series, and lo and behold the yarn was none other than a gorgeous skein of sky-blue fingering weight silk cashmere. I don’t think I need to tell you how wonderful it is to work with yarn like this.
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While this little shawl could easily be worked up with other fingering weight yarns – and it makes a lovely single-skein project as it is – the silky cashmere really needs very little extra work to show it off properly. It’s soft and elegant just on its own, and even just knitting simple stockinette is an enjoyable experience with yarn like this. So, in designing this shawl I worked to come up with a pattern that would convey some simple elegance as well as the sentiments of the colourway name, ‘peace’.

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This is a shallow triangular shawl, worked in the traditional style of triangular shawls with eyelet increases at the end and centre of each right side row, back and forth from the top down. The feathering pattern used at the border is a simple yet effective 2-row pattern that may be repeated for as long as you like, or until you’ve got just enough to finish the last few rows of garter stitch and bind off at the edge. It’s ideal for a summer accessory, but I can see this being just as delightful as an any-time indoor accessory in the fall and winter.

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Thanks, Sundara, for the special treat of working with your yarn.
Enjoy, knitting friends! And I’ll catch up with you more later this week.

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