Extra Inspired

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Twist Too

I’m feeling extra inspired this week after our wonderful trip to the Twist Fibre Festival. There were so many clever people! Among the best were the lovely mother/daughter team from PureLaine Etc. where I procured two amazing skeins of Shibui Staccato. Since we were staying in the same guest house, we had many opportunities to talk over our wonderful craft. (Many thanks to Sylvie for helping with my terrible French :) Also in the magic mix were the incredible Purlin’ J and L’il Dorothy. I managed to scoop a coveted Purlin’ J project bag, lucky me! I spend a dizzying few minutes at La Maison Tricotee. Oh. My. Goodness. La Maison specializes in the rare and gorgeous. I swooned over brands that are without distributors such as Jill Draper and Blue Moon. Though they can certainly be found online, one seldom has the opportunity to touch and admire them. Got me some “Socks That Rock” from Blue Moon.

My Twist Loot

We managed to get our booth set up in record time due to the amazing fact that we were able to drive Chuckles-the-Subaru right inside the arena and right up to the booth! (That was really fun :) Rosehaven did very well, particularly because of our new Berroco products. They offer really great value on truly luxurious fibers. I’ve long been a fan of the entire Ultra Alpaca family and now, especially the Ultra Alpaca Chunky. (If you haven’t seen the new Berroco Cosma, you ought to!)

 

 

Now that I’m home and the weather is fine, I’ve been spending some precious time in my “summer office” working on The Birthday Sweater. I LOVE the Malabrigo Rios I’ve chosen this year. It is buttery soft, tightly twisted and an absolute joy to knit. The color is unique and produces a fabric that looks sort of distressed, I think because it is dyed after it is spun. When I’ve snipped it, I’ve found that it is pale in the center. 

Several months ago, I saw some rather inspiring photos over at Loaves and Stitches. While doing some test knitting for Baby Cocktails, Carie dropped some high contrast color work into a Malabrigo cardigan. It impressed me and the image has stuck in my mind. I decided to try it. There were moments when I was tempted to go with a coordinating color instead but I fought it, choosing instead a bright tomato red. I’m happy!

Today’s outdoor knitting will be focussed on a little custom project. I’m making a copy of the sweater worn by the little boy in “The Shining”. It’s obviously an intarsia project which oughta be fun! Pics to follow.

Danny's Sweater

Happy Knitting!

Eve’s Rib

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Eve's Rib Cardigan

Whew! I’m finally able to publish my new cardigan pattern, Eve’s Rib.  

Little Brown SweaterWe have a cute Little Brown Sweater in the shop. It was placed there on consignment by an elderly knitter who could not remember where the pattern, if any, came from. Yet it seemed everyone wanted to knit the LBS, myself included. I thought it would be smart to write a pattern for the Little Brown Sweater with a few important modifications. The original LBS had set-in sleeves and was knitted in pieces and sewn together. Who wants to set in sleeves made of chunky yarn? Not me! In fact, who wants seams of any kind on a simple little cardigan? So, Eve’s Rib is top-down, raglan sleeved and seamless, though it retains the original 3×3 ribbing that made LBS so cute. I’ve elongated Eve a little too, to update her silhouette. She’s designed for Cascade Eco and Eco+ which we carry at Rosehaven (in fact, it’s the best sleeper-bargain in the entire shop ;) Lovely Lesley tells me we’ll be getting a bunch of new colors just in time for fall. 

So that’s that.

Check out some happy scenes from last weekend’s Sock Camp!

We covered a tremendous amount of material. I think everyone learned a lot, especially me!

In other events, it’s been cold and rainy. The humidity has risen a little over the last couple of days making it feel a little warmer. Unfortunately, it was decidedly unpleasant for our weekend visitors :(

In an uncharacteristically timely manner, I have begun The Birthday Sweater! Unlike other years, I will NOT be working on this project on December 20th (1 day after deadline). By Lesley-magic, I was able to procure the required amount of Malabrigo Rios in the colorway “Playa” which heretofore seemed impossible. It is every bit as beautiful as I’d hoped :) More on that as the project progresses.

Twist Fibre Festival

Tomorrow, Lesley and I depart for points east where we’ll be participating in the Twist Fibre Festival in Saint-André-Avellin, Quebec. Pictures to come!

My Really Pretty FO

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Wheatsheaves Scarf by Elizabeth McCarten

I’m so very happy with my pretty new Wheatsheaves Scarf! I only just received the yarn last Friday afternoon, but was unable to put the project down. Lovely. I think I may knit this pattern again with my recently acquired Ella Rae Merino Lace.

Wheatsheaves ScarfI can’t stress enough what a lovely yarn Einband is. It behaved just beautifully during the blocking process, although I can’t say its scratchiness disappeared. Surprisingly, I’m not disappointed about this. If it was softer, it would have an entirely different drape. This is crisp, unbelievably light and characteristically dry. Apparently, these lightweight Lopi yarns make wonderful light, warm sweaters, though they are not something you’d want to wear next to your skin. As a cold weather dweller, I can tell you honestly that I never wear only one layer during the winter. It’s all about the multi-layers for me. I can envision an airy, open-textured fabric in one of these bright clear colors warming up a winter’s day. Better get right on it! These summer days won’t last forever ;)

While I’m on the shawl(ette) kick…I’ve been looking for just the right project for these precious skeins of cashmere that were hand-spun for me by my friend Lisa. I think I may need to take a crack at designing a semi-circular or triangular shawl.

Lisa's Cashmere

Coming Along Nicely

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Gladioli from Hubby

This past weekend was a long one, poetically named “The Civic Holiday Long Weekend”. We Canadians do not celebrate anything in particular during this long weekend, only that it’s summer. Trust Canada to invent an extra long weekend in order to make the most of our measly summer :) It was a busy one for me, a little work, a little cooking for family, a little jam, a little knitting. Everything is coming along nicely.

Einband

Wheatsheaves Scarf by Elizabeth McCartenOn Friday, my Einband yarn arrived from Iceland. That was pretty exciting! I didn’t expect it to arrive so early. Perfect timing, because Elizabeth’s new Wheatsheaves Scarf pattern was released on Saturday. It was the reason I ordered the yarn in the first place, so I launched in immediately and cast on. This is a strange (and under-sung) little yarn; it is an Icelandic lace weight, in fact a type of Lopi. It feels very odd the first time you touch it, wiry and stiff and somewhat scratchy. To say it is ‘crisp’ is an understatement. It is, however, lovely to work with and, I’m told, softens up beautifully during blocking. The colors are clear and brilliant. I loved the pattern immediately. I saw it when it was still being developed. It was one of those magical things that Elizabeth pulls from her enchanted tote bag. I’ve made quite good progress on it because it is a very compelling pattern. I’m excited to block it.

WheatsheavesSelfie with Mumsie

Sunday Mumsie came for dinner which is always a treat. We nipped out to Three Dog Winery, which now functions as my neighborhood bar, and Carl did most of the cooking ;)

Three Dog Winery

Jam, Step 1My jam is a little late this year, partly because the strawberry crop was a little lacking. I thought I’d left it way too late for berry jam, forgetting that we grow some pretty remarkable raspberries and blueberries here in PEC. I managed to procure some red and some black raspberries and some blueberries, blended them together and used “Sarah’s Berry Jam” recipe, thank you, Martha Stewart. I’m always a little leery about pectin-free jam recipes, having had a couple of failures in the past. Third time’s a charm as they say and sure enough, this batch is awesome. It’ll be very welcome in January!

Mixed Berry Jam

Something New!

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New & Improved by Geo Parkin

You may have noticed something new… I’ve changed the name of my blog! I won’t bore you with details…suffice to say that I like this much better. I’m happy as a clam.

Here’s another ‘Something New’. I’ve been looking at this yarn on the shelf for a few months now thinking “meh”. I don’t generally care for woven yarns so I found it entirely uninspiring. With Twist coming up at the end of the month, I figured I better whip up a sample, inspired or not. I nipped over to Quince & Co. and found this: Hudson. I pulled out a few skeins of Kestrel and started in. Surprise, surprise! I love it! 

Hudson

It knits like a tape rather than a woven (which makes me happy) and the drape is wonderful. It is 100% organic linen and when knitted at a slightly-looser-than-normal gauge, has a soft, supple hand. The colors are amazing, which is true of all Quince’s yarns. Turns out, our shop is to be one of Quince’s Canadian flagship stores! I’m pretty excited about that…I’ve been dying to try the Puffin and the Owl.

I’ve been gradually re-vamping my poor down-trodden Ravelry page, one little bit at a time. I’m still waaaaaay behind with regard to projects, but I do have 3 new patterns! The latest is my sock recipe, “Super Socks 1-2-3″ which I published yesterday. Born of much trial and error, I’m hoping it will take some of the ‘scary’ out of sock knitting.

Super Socks 1-2-3

 

Ella Rae Classic SportI’ve got a package waiting at the post office! I know it’s my Ella Rae Sport, which I’ll be using for my new Moonstone cardigan. Of course, I’ll have to wait til 5 to pick it up…can’t wait! Have a great weekend :D

Some Stuff I Like

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Marisol by Mags Kandis

One of the things I like best about working in a yarn shop is my bird’s-eye view of some pretty brilliant project ideas. Because Prince Edward County is quite a popular vacation destination in the summertime, we see visitors coming from everywhere. We’re about half way between Toronto and Montreal so, predictably we get many a tourist from Quebec. Recently, a lovely lady turned me on to Espace Tricot, a yarn shop (and blog) from Montreal where are designed some really marvelous things. I find I’m fascinated by the detail, simplicity and inventive use of materials in these designs. I do so love to see simple things done well!

That same nice lady came in to the shop wearing the absolutely groovy “Pop Spots” by Loop of London. I think our lady’s turned out better than the original! She used a Madeline Tosh for the shawl and a Freja gradient for the spots.

Downtown Jacket by Elizabeth McCartenA frequent visitor to our shop is the talented Elizabeth McCarten, author of the knitting blog Chez Lizzie, whose design details have been described by Vogue Knitting as “show-stopping”. Elizabeth is simply inspiring. She’s always got a new sleeper of a yarn (like crispy-softy Einband Icelandic Lace ) or some clever design-in-progress in her roomy tote bag. She’s famous for rummaging around in the depths of the tote and pulling out something amazing. I’m a huge fan and can’t wait to knit her Downtown Jacket. I’m going to do it this fall in an Elizabeth-approved shade of deep red.

When I arrived at work on Wednesday, a rainy day, a petite, pretty lady with a big umbrella nipped in to the shop before I’d even opened. Can you believe…Mags Kandis! I’ve long admired Mags and loved her book “Gifted”, and was shocked to find that she’s a resident of PEC as well. I love the sense of honest, confident whimsy in Mags work.

So I have to say, I love being in the shop, particularly on days when I get to try a new-to-me yarn. I came home yesterday with a sweet little skein of Koigu which is made here in Ontario. I’d heard of it, naturally, but never had a skein. Oh my goodness! I can see what all the fuss is about…it is really extraordinary. The twist is inexpressibly lovely, the color sublime. I don’t know if you can see it in the photo but it looks breathtaking mounted on my rainbow wood needles :)

Koigu KPPPM

Summer Vacation, Visits and a Great Little Getaway!

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Pleasant Beach

Today is really the first day of “back-to-normal” for me after about three weeks of fun summer activities. I had hubby home for about ten days; we did a bit of tootling about the County, enjoying our little island. We’ve also had some rare and precious visits from friends from the South during which we took a truly splendid trip to upstate New York.

When I lived in New Orleans, I shared a big, antique, French Colonial house in the Faubourg Marigny with some really wonderful people, most notably my dear Bubba. Though we all had our own apartments, it was a little like a frat house for grown-ups. We shared a charming courtyard, ate together a few times a week and had a fabulous series of rotating cocktail parties. Most of us have gone our separate ways by now, so it was a real treat to have Bubba come for a visit to the North. With Miss Laura ensconced in the forest as usual at the Sterling Renaissance Faire, it seemed like a great idea to meet up in Niagara Falls, drive along the south shore of Lake Ontario along the Seaway Trail and spend a few days in Fair Haven.

I started by dropping Teddy off at Doggie-Camp and continuing to Toronto. I left a little early in order to allow some time for a visit to Passionknit. Oh my goodness, what an incredible selection of Koigu! I escaped with two precious skeins of Lotus Mink/Silk Blend and an interesting Ella Rae product I’d been previously unaware of. I didn’t know Ella made this lovely 100% merino 3-ply fingering weight! I got it in a subtle oyster-y shade.

That evening, we enjoyed a rare-these-days evening with the Robinsons. We ate ourselves silly at Bar Italia (where I was courted years ago by a certain gentleman ;) and shared a beautiful bottle of wine. Early next morning, we set off for the Falls! Bubba had never been to the Falls before and we’d never seen it from the U.S. side. Spectacular!

Niagara Falls

Pleasant Beach DetailsOn Laura’s recommendation, we checked in at the Pleasant Beach Hotel in Fair Haven. What a great little inn…charming, quaint and restful and stuffed with little details like this jar of old thread I found on our vanity. The view of Little Sodus Bay was enchanting and very calm, the bar was fun and friendly and the food was rustic and yummy. I can see myself going there again and again!

Miss Laura has been a participant at Sterling for almost 30 years and, though the “Renaissance Faire Thing” is not something I’d normally do, I try to get over to see her there a least once during the summer since it’s nice having her so close. This year, with Bubba’s visit, we decided to do the whole nine yards. We all got dressed as Renaissance characters and spent the day at the Faire watching the jousting, listening to Renaissance music and, for the boys a least, eating gigantic smoked turkey legs :D 

We rounded out the weekend with a visit to the Fly-By-Night Cookie Company which is owned by Laura’s Mom. It is really magical…like walking into another world. And the cookies really are fantastic!

And, the summer is still young! We may well squeeze in more fun before all is said and done.

Ahhh! Summer!

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Grilled Salmon w/ Mango Salsa

We’ve sure earned it this year! What a beautiful pay-back summer it has been thus far. This past weekend was Canada Day, our version of the 4th of July, stretched a little further because it fell on a Tuesday. It’s been an extra long weekend with lots of lovely visitors to our little island. Carl did most of the cooking including the extra pretty and delicious grilled salmon with mango salsa (above), which made the weekend much, much better for me ;)

Purlin' J's Roving Yarn Co.

To kick it off, we took a little tootle to Kingston where I was lucky enough to find, quite by accident, the enchanting Purlin’ J and her incredible Roving Yarn Truck. It’s an amazing idea and Joan has carried it out with such style! I love the chalkboard graphics that form the backbone of Purlin’ J’s super appealing visual identity. She backs it up with some stellar yarns, too. Although we were there before the truck was officially open, I managed to score a gorgeous hand dyed skein of Anywyn Studio merino sock yarn in the most dulcet shade of robin’s egg blue. Anwyn Studio is a venture launched in November 2013 by Meriel Taylor, a talented spinner and dyer. It’s an open studio where one can experiment and learn about the fibre arts. They also offer all kinds of interesting classes. I think I’ll go visit this week!

We hopped on the Glenora Ferry which carried us from nearly-Kingston to nearly-Picton. I hadn’t realized what a great resource the ferry is. It is so quick and so scenic…I may never take the 401 again! Kind of fun playing the tourist in your own town.

While Mumsie was with us, we had an opportunity to discover one of The County’s new wineries. Three Dog Winery, though they’ve been involved in viticulture for a number of years, has just this summer opened their tasting bar and wine outlet. It is small, unpretentious and feels like you’re visiting neighbors for cocktails on the deck. I can highly recommend the Rosé, having schwaffed back a couple of bottles ;)

Betwixt times, I’ve been knitting, knitting, knitting and writing patterns, none of which can be revealed. I’ve been hearing many knitters say they’re knitting indoors in the A/C or near a fan, but not I! I’ve been knitting outside in my “summer office” where I shall remain until it snows.

Summer Office

Herringbone

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Herringbone Stitch

I’ve got a couple of handbag patterns on my desk that I’ve been wanting to write, one in Quince & Co. “Sparrow” and one in Rowan Handknit Cotton. I love herringbone for bags because it is strong, pretty and has very little stretch. I also love the woven look that herringbone produces.

Jones & Vandermeer HerringboneA little research revealed that there are many variations of this hardworking little stitch! I am especially taken with the two-color variations; the contrast really highlights the classic woven texture.

AstridKnits Herringbone

Here’s a narrower version I really like. This is the extremely popular cowl pattern from Purlbee,

Purlbee Herringbone Cowl

but I’m very taken with this stitch when it’s worked in a more open manner in a yarn with some halo.

Room on the Left HerringboneHerringbone LinenI’m working a herringbone linen stitch which shall shortly be a tote bag. I’ll be adding some brown leather straps conveniently punched with sewing holes. I’m enjoying the Rowan Handknit Cotton. It is tightly spun yet soft with a very firm tubular quality…like knitting with spaghetti. And it comes in the most unabashed color range!

Rowan Handknit CottonThis plus a planned trip to the brand new Three Dog Winery should make for a very nice weekend! Happy Friday, y’all!

Sock Camp

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Sock Camp 2014

Hurray for Sock Camp! There will be a Sock Camp at Rosehaven in August, exact date to be confirmed, just in time for fall knitting. Sock knitting seems to be something everyone wants to learn. We’ll be using the new worsted weight Fortissima Mexiko 8-ply sock yarns; they knit up so quickly in great, bright colors. With larger stitches, sock shaping techniques should be much easier to see and understand, and it’s so much less daunting than the traditional fingering weight sock yarn. It’ll be a full day camp making it achievable for folks who are coming from nearby towns. Picton is such a beautiful little town to visit in the summer; there are lots of little cafes, coffee shops and boutiques. I think it’s going to be fun!

While we’re at CreativFestival Fall 2014, I’m going to be doing a workshop about Two-at-a-Time Top-Down Socks. SO fast, no second sock syndrome,Little Socks fun and DONE. That’s how we’ll be knitting at Sock Camp…two-at-a-time on two circular needles. I made these little guys in a morning and had enough yarn left over for a little matching cap :)

North Pole Socks

I’ve been experimenting with Regia’s North Pole sock yarn too. This is a DK weight self-patterning sock yarn with a slightly felted feel. Though I’m a little ‘over’ the self-patterning thing, this is a truly lovely yarn to work. It’s soft, very lofty and works up in a wink. I’ll never forget the cold feet of this past winter so I think I’ll be whipping up several pair of these! That having been said, I’m really craving some sock solids. I want to work on some color work ideas I have. I’ve long wondered about KnitPicks Stroll solids…anybody tried ‘em?

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