A New Pattern!

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Barn Swallow Socks

Ta-da! Finally, I’m able to release my new pattern, Barn Swallow.

I had a wonderful time knitting these socks and I hope many others will enjoy knitting them too. 

Barn Swallow SocksI’d been tempted by the soft, sweet Quince & Co. Tern for quite some time. It was on the very top of the Quince shelf at the shop, just sitting quietly. All four of the colors were beautiful in characteristic Quince fashion, but finally I settled on the lovely Boothbay, a true Yankee blue. Honestly, I expected something quite different. I knew there was a silk component to this yarn but didn’t realize it was Tussah until I started knitting. There is something so tender and rustic about this yarn; it’s honest and pure and I love it. 

The yarn’s muted palette – think vintage painted photographs – results from the way in which the different fibers absorb dye. The wool portion colors thoroughly, but the silk is barely tinted.

It was my idea to make socks inspired by early American quilts, and Tern brought the soft, lovely quality of something having been laundered many, many times. The absence of nylon in a sock yarn is kind of a welcome change. Like many sock knitters, I’d become so accustomed to the presence of nylon that I didn’t really know the scope of its effect. Of course, the durability is welcome but I also noticed that nylon (or polyamide) imparts a stretchy quality to sock yarn too. This is noticeably absent in Tern and makes for a less stretchy and more slouchy sock. (If you’re not a fan of slouchy socks, you might consider making a smaller size). 

Barn Swallow SocksAnyway…hope you like it! I want to do a red pair next ;)

Frolic!

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Toronto Knitter's Frolic

We’re off to Frolic tomorrow! I am very excited, having never been to this particular show before. There are so many booths I want to visit and so many people I feel I know from the internet that I’ll finally get to meet in person…I hope. I’m really hoping to come home with some new yarn, too! I can’t wait to check out Indigodragonfly and Handmaiden.

I’ve put together some new things myself. I’ve made three types of project bags, some large stand-up ones, mid-sized flat ones for socks and some fabric baskets with drawstrings (“Walkers”) as well as some circular needle cases :) I think they’re pretty!

Barn Swallow SocksAND my Barnswallow Sock pattern is done! I’m taking the sample and pattern to Frolic with us. It will also be available on Ravelry as of Saturday morning. I’m actually quite excited to knit them again, this time in the color “Columbine”.

Joan Sharpe of Purlin’ J’s Roving Yarn Co. had set up some shuttles from the Kingston area, but I think they’re sold out now. I believe Joan is still taking names for a waiting list, though.

<sigh> Still so much to do! Better get at it!

Happily Blue

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Chefchaouen, Morocco

About a year or so ago, I heard a female political commentator talking about North American economic recovery. I can’t remember how she was connected to fashion or art or design or anything, but I remember her saying something about the color blue making a huge comeback as the economy recovered and people became more relaxed. “Bosh!” said I. Never happen. I’d been avoiding blue about that time thinking it was pedestrian. I always thought of blue as a sort of ‘default’ color. Like, “What’s your favorite color?” “Blue”. Y’know?

Color of the Day - Blue

Nordlys by Viking of NorwayBut then yesterday when I was photographing a new acquisition, this lovely single ply sock yarn by Viking of Norway, I thought “Wow. Lot of blue lately, isn’t there?” Sure enough! I back tracked through my last few projects and yarn store purchases and found the color balance definitely in favor of blue. In fact, Aquamarine is the leading color for women’s wear this spring, according to the color mavens at Pantone.

Chefchaouen, Morocco is the ‘blue city’ where everything from sidewalks to houses is painted blue. This was done by Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler. The blue symbolizes heaven and earth and is a reminder to live a spiritual life.

There are so many shades of blue, so many nuances, that I am now embarrassed at how shallow I’d been. (I know [blue] puddles deeper than me!) If you’ve never checked out Design Sponge, now’s a good time. A while back, they did the most amazing “Color Of The Day” series using these charming retro color posters. They remind me of my science books from the 4th grade. The historical factoids on each poster are pretty fascinating too. 

Now I think I need some blue fingerless gloves!

Unplugged

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Edwin County Farm Maple Syrup

A beautiful gift from my ‘sweet’ neighbour, John :)

So I guess I’ve been unplugged for about a week! I didn’t do it intentionally, I just got busy and it sort of happened naturally. I didn’t realize it myself until I mentioned it to Elizabeth yesterday. It’s been kind of nice, and I did get rather a lot done which is fortunate because very soon, I’ll be trotting off with Rosehaven to Toronto Knitter’s Frolic.

Toronto Knitter's FrolicI’m very excited about The Frolic. I’ve never been and I understand it’s becoming quite a ‘thing’. There are so many people I’m looking forward to meeting as well as some folks I don’t get a chance to see often enough. There were a number of projects I wanted to have ready before we go and some patterns I wanted to finish writing so that they’ll be available on my (still pathetic) Ravelry page.

Barnswallow Socks

Barnswallow Socks: I finished these during my unplugged week. They’re worked with Quince & Co. Tern in the Boothbay colorway. I’m so happy with them, particularly with the heel :) The pattern is “this” close to being done and should easily be available on Ravelry by show time.

Cockleshell Hat

Cockleshell Hat: We’ve recently got Berroco’s Indigo yarn in the shop and I’ve fallen in love with it. It’s made of recycled denim and I just adore the way it takes dye. Even the neutrals are fascinating. We needed a shop sample and I had an idea for a sweet little spring/summer slouchy hat. Hence, “Cockleshell”. Indigo was really lovely to knit, growing softer with each stitch. Soon as Carl gets home, I’ll get him to photo the hat with my head inside it. I think it’s quite pretty and it was all kinds of fun to make. The pattern will be available by show time.

Kit Camisole by Bristol Ivy

Kit Camisole: I wish I could say I enjoyed making this. I can’t. It’s been on my needles for nearly a year. I pulled it out of its zip-lock bag last week, ripped out the bodice (for the third time) and finished it off. I’ve got one last armhole to bind off and then she can go public. (And leave my workroom for ever and ever.)

Dark & Stormy: I’ve been hitting this one hard in the last 24-36 hours. I really wanted to have it ready to wear in Toronto. I don’t know. (If you see an knitting error in this photo, I don’t want to hear about it.)

Dark & Stormy

Project Bags and Needle Cases: Last but not least, I’ve been sewing! And, boy, have I enjoyed it. I picked up some lovely new Richloom fabs and went to town. There are seven different fabrics in two basic colorways, pink and aqua (plus one token neutral which I love). There are medium sized zip-top project bags with flat bottoms, smaller flat project bags and “walkers” (those handy little bags you loop over your wrist for knitting on the fly, in elevators, while at the gym etc.) Here’s a sneak peak!

Project BagsOkay, gotta go. Keep your stick on the ice!

A Finger on the Pulse

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Blockare Cap

Blockare Cap by Elizabeth Green Musselman

Maybe I’m late to the ball, but lately I’ve really been getting into knitting podcasts. Despite going waaaaay over my data allowance this month, I’ve been gobbling them up like candy. Sometimes, living way out in the country, it can be a little tough to stay in touch with what others are doing. I read lots of blogs and enjoy every minute of it but it’s really great to actually see and hear the people behind the gorgeous knitted items. I feel I’m really getting to know them!

My favorite at present is Elizabeth Green Musselman’s Dark Matter Knits podcast. (Is it my imagination or are a great preponderance of knitters named Elizabeth??) It is relaxed and light in tone, yet well organized and always topical. She has an infectious laugh and a light-hearted approach to the craft. Elizabeth is a talented designer with new patterns emerging regularly. She has some incredible giveaways on the podcast, too. I’ve joined the Ravelry group and anxiously await each episode. 

Tilly's MouseIn a recent post, Elizabeth mentioned a couple of her favorite podcasts, so I checked some of them out. Some I liked, some not so much. My top favorite of her suggestions is Tilly Trout. I am IN LOVE with Tilly :) She podcasts from the UK where she lives in The Broads, Norfolk, England’s largest wetland area. Tilly is just a humble knitter. She has no aspirations except to get better at it. I love Tilly’s bravery when it comes to new techniques and methods, and new activities in general. (She’s recently started singing lessons!) In real life, Tilly is a scientist involved with some sort of arcane genetics research. She’s lovely. Sweet, gentle Tilly will charm your hand knit socks off :D You can find her as Trout Mail on Ravelry.

Another gem among EGM’s suggestions was Yarnder Woman from Perth, Australia. She’s a teacher who has created a very pleasant and well-ordered podcast where she discusses many yarns that are new to me. I love her bright red hair and melodious accent. 

Isn’t it cool that we can follow the antics of knitters half way round the world?

 

Sugaring

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Red Sugar Shacks

It’s red letter day! Teddy and I are finally able to resume our daily walks in relative comfort. We tried it once a week or two ago. It looked okay but I froze and I think Teddy did too, he being a dog of very little hair. Today was fine, though, all melty and squishy, and Ted had a ball snuffling up all the good smells that had been locked in the snow all these months.

Sugar ShackOur neighbors down the road are sugaring. I could see the column of wood smoke and steam all the way from the church. Steamy, smokey sugar shacks are commonplace here in Prince Edward County. The sound of distant chainsaws and the smell of  woodsmoke is everywhere. Did you know that it takes 40 gallons (or more) of maple sap to make a single gallon of syrup? (Remember that next time you’re grumbling over the price of maple syrup in the grocery store!) Wood fires must be kept burning at a high temperature in order to boil the sap and render the syrup. We hope for chilly nights and days just above freezing for a good sap run. 

Maple-Tree-Taps

Three Dog SugaringSome folks (like our neighbors John and Catherine) get heavy into it, plumbing the trees with plastic tubing and collecting the sap in huge reservoirs, but I prefer the old fashioned way. I love the quaint idea of a bucket hanging from a spigot in a tree like they did when I was a kid. Mind you, I don’t have to tote the buckets through miles of mucky sugarbush. At my favorite vineyard, Three Dog Winery,  they still practice the old ways. In their 35 acre sugarbush, they planned to hang only 50 buckets and bring them in by hand. Over the weekend during our annual maple festival, they had lots of help in the form of tourists and over-zealous school kids. I remember the warm syrup being drizzled over fresh snow as a treat when I was a little girl. I’d have hauled a hundred buckets to get it!

Snow Sugar

Knitting wise, I’m happily busy. I’ve got a very pretty, very homely pair of socks going. I’ll resist the temptation of a photo until they’re done :)

What’s New?

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Robin's Nest by FairyFolk

Fairyfolk on Etsy

What’s new with you? The fun continues here. Yesterday, in combination with a trip to our insurance agent and Home Depot to lay out our (potentially) new deck, I did a little shopping :) 

Is this not the best handbag ever?? I seriously needed an all-season, a-place-for-everything handbag and I’ll admit, I’m picky. It needed to be perfect or I simply would not drop the dough. And, because it was to be my birthday gift from hubby, it needed to be ‘special’ and something I wouldn’t buy for myself otherwise. My birthday was a few weeks ago; I’ve been carefully keeping my eye out. I found this guy right at the beginning of my search but didn’t want to buy the first thing I saw. I’m SO happy it was still there when I went back for it but really, not surprised. After all, how many girls can pull off a Screamin’ Tomato Red bag? ;) The color may come as a bit of a shock to some <ehem, Lesley> because I’m so very much ‘neutral-girl’. I do love those rockin’ hot accessories, though! It’s got a spot for my notebook and a separate compartment for my travel knitting (usually socks). Happy!

Wool on Wellington, Kingston ONWhile in Kingston, I stopped in at the newly revamped “Wool on Wellington” formerly Gwin Gryffion Wine & Wool. She’s made some pretty cool changes! For starters, no more wine making supplies; she’s shifted strictly to yarns for knitting and needlepoint. Best part? Some very nice buttons! I picked up a couple of skeins for upcoming mosaic and brioche projects since that’s what I’ll be teaching at our retreat this year. Nothing extraordinary, the colors just appealed to me.

My Dark & Stormy cardigan is coming along nicely. I’m enjoying it. I need to get it to the separation point before Sunday’s meeting of The Cardigan Project. I’ve only got a couple rows to go.

Dark & Stormy 2

KarbonzAnd last but not least…needles. I ordered these last week and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly they arrived. Usually, WEBS takes much longer with Canadian orders. Too bad I don’t like them. Not that they’re awful or anything. I just like a really fast needle. I was hoping these would eliminate the problem of warping that I have with most sock needles and likely, they will. The tips are lovely, sleek and sharp, but the carbon section in the center is very, very s-l-o-w. Speed wise, I’d put them even with bamboo and with a similar warmth. The second problem (and really, I should have seen this coming) is the ferrule where thin sock yarns tend to get a little hung up. Oh well…live and learn I guess. If anyone in the area would like them, I’d be happy to trade for something. Onward and upward! 

Keep your stick on the ice and happy knitting!

She’s Hot Right Now!

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Mr Sunshine

It’s been a really gratifying week in Cheryl’s knitting world :) Lots of good things have happened. The weekend was particularly awesome. On Saturday, Miss Jacqui joined me at Rosehaven for the Knitter’s Crash Course. What a natural! Though Miss Jacqui had knitted before, she wanted to begin at the beginning and learn knitterly skills from the ground up. Herself an accomplished pastry chef, it’s maybe not surprising that Jacqui was patient, careful and very physically in tune with her tools. By the end of class, she was throwin’ like a pro and had produced about 2 1/2″ of the Windowpane Scarf each stitch perfectly executed. I can’t wait to see (and post!) photos of Jacqui’s FO. As a bonus, the effervescent Chris Hall of Cake Tin Hats kept the day sweet and fun despite the crappy weather.

Sunday brought the first meeting of The Cardigan Project. I couldn’t wish for two better participants than Miss Glenda and Miss Deborah, both solid knitters and bright, charming people as well. We had so much fun substituting and choosing yarns for this project. Both Glenda and Deborah came into the project with neutrals in mind, just sure that if they chose clear colors their sweaters wouldn’t be worn as often. (Do I need to say it) SURPRISE! Glenda chose a beautiful clear shade of Canadian red in Berroco Ultra Alpaca for her ‘Nanook’ and Deborah opted for a deep, enigmatic peacock-y blue-y green in Galway for the ‘Harvest’ Cardigan. I’m so happy that they chose two different patterns. Great knitting stories were swapped, gallons of coffee consumed, several swatches worked and we were off!

Dark and Stormy by Thea ColmanFor my own project (I couldn’t let them knit alone, could I?) I’ve chosen ‘Dark and Stormy’ by Thea Colman of Baby Cocktails. I’ve been wanting to knit one of Thea’s many gorgeous patterns for quite some time. Y’know, she’s hot right now. I’m using KnitPicks Wool of the Andes in Opal Heather. Yes, this is the Acorn yarn. I got half way through Acorn, quite a way past the sleeve division, and decided I did not like it. At all. I was not enjoying the pattern and didn’t like the result so last week while culling through my stash out she came. Onward and upward to the second incarnation. So far, I’m loving Thea’s cable; it’s quite compelling.

Cheryl's D&S

Rosa Rugosa by Quince & Co.Best part of Sunday? A sweet phone call from Elizabeth to share with me that “Harriet’s Jacket” had made it to first position on Ravelry’s Hot Right Now list. I am just so excited! This ingenious little jacket has such intriguing shaping that I’m dying to make it. Since the original yarn, Elann’s Peruvian Highland Chunky, has been discontinued, Miss Lizzie has updated the pattern for Quince & Co. Osprey, a big favorite of mine. I’ve had some yarn lust for Q&C colorway ‘Rosa Rugosa’ lately; it’s a deep fuschia-red-rose color which is a bit of a departure from my usual neutrals. I’m thinkin’ maybe its time has come. Elizabeth is offering this pattern as a FREE Ravelry download for a limited time. Get it quick! She’s Hot Right Now!

Harriet's Jacket

Off On the Right Foot

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R0168 Holy Moly Sock by Charles D. Gandy

I’m heavy into socks right now. I guess I’m always heavy into socks. I can’t remember a time in my knitting history when I didn’t have at least one pair on the needles. Socks make excellent “palate cleanser” projects; they make the perfect bite between large projects like sweaters or shawls.

 

I’m mostly a top-down sock knitter, although I’ve knit them toe-up too. For this reason, I’m always “casting about” (pardon the pun) for the perfect, stretchy cast on method for top-down socks. In fact it’s safe to say that the cast-on in all its various incarnations, is one of my favorite things about knitting. Here are a couple of my favorite fun and functional stretchy cast on methods.

The Slip Knot: I started using this one (also known as Jeny’s Super Stretchy Cast On) while doing a long pair of socks with a turned back cuff. Here’s a video tutorial brought to you by New Stitch A Day.

The German Twisted: I love this because it is so very FAST and related to my go-to favorite, the long-tail cast on.

 

The Chinese Waitress: Gotta love Liat Gatt from KnitFreedom! This is an ingenious method that produces a really pretty chained edge.

 

The Alternating Cable: I’ve never found the cable cast on to be especially stretchy, though it does produce a very handsome beaded edge. Done this way, by alternately casting on knit and purl stitches, a super stretchy edge that is indistinguishable from the ribbing itself, is produced! Clever! (I love this video because the girl has the most pleasant Australian accent! :)

 

 

 

A Rainbow and a Pot O’ Gold

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Shamrocks

“Wishing you a rainbow
For sunlight after showers—
Miles and miles of Irish smiles
For golden happy hours—
Shamrocks at your doorway
For luck and laughter too,
And a host of friends that never ends
Each day your whole life through!”

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Here is a rainbow with a big pot o’ gold for you!

 

And now for the gold…

May God give you…
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.

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