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.

Praising Mosaic

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Mosaic Knitting from TwistCollective

Mosaic StitchI’ve been going through my stash. I mean REALLY going through my stash, frogging old projects, planning new ones. I tell you, it’s like Christmas! I’m finding some great yarns I forgot I had and planning new lives for some scrapped projects. Among the goodies, I found this swatch of mosaic stitch which got me thinking…

Mosaic stitch has some really wonderful qualities, but as a colorwork technique it’s a bit of a sleeper. It’s as easy as stripes yet can form some very complex patterns. Only a single yarn is worked at a time so there is no carrying and no floats. Because there are no floats, mosaic fabric remains very stretchy. That’s what makes it ideal for socks.

 Mosaic stitches can be worked in the round or flat, making mosaic an ideal partner for intarsia.

Jazzy Juggler by Mary H. Bonnette & Jo Lynne Murchland

Because rows or rounds are worked in pairs, mosaic stitch charts are easy to read and memorize. And it looks divine when two colorways are worked against each other, making for some spectacular stash busting projects.

….on that note, back to the plastic totes :-/

The Cardigan Project

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‘Tis the season for new knitting projects…and for new knitting classes! We’ve got a couple of new ones at Rosehaven over the next few weeks, but my favorite is The Cardigan Project. I’d heard about the desire to knit a first sweater project over and over from student and customers, so I decided to create a class where folks could do just that! 

Harvest Sweater

Harvest Sweater by Tin Can Knits

 

Dacite by Carol Feller

Dacite by Carol Feller

 

Nanook by Heide Kirrmaier

Nanook by Heidi Kirrmaier

 

 

I’ve chosen three easy cardigan patterns, all of which are flattering to a variety of figure types. They’re all worked seamlessly from the top down, require minimal finishing and all call for worsted weight yarn, which means they’ll work up quickly. They have flexible and interesting closure options that do not require buttonholes. Any of these would make a great all-season layering piece for blouses, t-shirts, tank tops or other knits and they’ll look fabulous worked in just about any color or fibre.

Harvest 2Option 1 is the “Harvest Sweater” by Tin Can Knits from the “Simple Collection”. This easy yet stylish sweater has deep garter stitch bands and a really pretty raglan shaping line. It can be worn open, or closed with a nifty shawl pin. I’d love it worked in a tonal, hand painted or variegated yarn. (Malabrigo Rios springs instantly to mind!

Dacite 2Option 2 is “Dacite” by Carol Feller. I love that this brilliant layering piece works like a light jacket. Dacite could be pinned closed at the waist with the lapels folded back  or pinned up snug around the neck creating an interesting asymmetrical front opening. It would be great in something tweed-y or denim-y

 

 

Nanook 2Option 3 is “Nanook” by Heidi Kirrmaier, which has inhabited a very special place on my Ravelry queue for ages. What an enigmatic collar. The suggested yarn is Lark by Quince and Co, and frankly, I can’t think of anything nicer! The colors are amazing, clear and unabashed yet somehow subtle.

 

 

Through the course of the project, we’ll learn how to use schematics and measurements to choose the right size for a perfect fit. We’ll talk about pattern modifications, yarn options and substitutions, something a knitter does for almost every project. A gauge swatch will follow, and we’ll begin to knit. Finishing and blocking will also be covered. Three consecutive Sunday morning meetings and <huzzah!> your first sweater! 

I think it’s great fun to work through a big project in a small group. There’s so much to learn from knitters who are working through a similar set of skills and meeting new, like-minded people is part of the fun. Of course, I’m happy to provide 24/7 support via telephone, email and IM. 

If you think you’d like to join in the fun, you can leave a comment here or call the shop to register at 613-476-9092. I hope to see you there!

Celtic Sources

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Celtic Knot by Pixabay

The Pattern That Will Not BeI’ve been working on the Pattern-That-Just-Won’t-Be for what seems an eternity. It’s a cabled hat and glove set. I’ve been twisting, untwisting, reversing, resizing and otherwise manipulating the cable pattern; it’s amusing. Sort of.  Today, when I looked at it after an evening of shape-shifting, it hit me how very Celtic a lot of cable patterns are. Enigmatic and magically twisty, celtic cables make toothsome fodder for the knitter. 

Take for example, this clever knitter. Devorgilla has been exploring the translation of Celtic knots to knitting since about 2010 (on Ravelry, anyhow). It seems she had afghan squares in mind when she created these enticing knotted blocks, but I think they’d lend themselves to many projects.

There are a number of publications, clip art and online sources where Celtic motifs can be found. This one “Celtic Charted Designs” by good ol’ Dover, are gridded and ready to be transposed into stranded colorwork, intarsia or cables. It can be downloaded as an e-book in both the US and Canada for about 5 clams.

Celtic Charted Designs

“Celtic Knotwork Designs” by Sheila Sturrock contains some great information about early motifs and some simple processes for plotting motifs onto graph paper; I’m sure this could just as easily be accomplished in any knitting chart software.

Celtic Knotwork Designs by Sheila Sturrock

Here’s an interesting idea! Clanbadge.com has created a font through which Celtic knots and borders can be composed using a restricted area of your keyboard. $20 includes 76 editable designs and the potential for many more, plus a free Celtic lettering font. It works for PC or Mac.

Aon-Celtic.com (above) offers a wide range of freeware that includes many, many motifs, borders, buttons and flags as well as some charted designs. They too offer a free lettering font.

I doubt these will help the Pattern-That-Just-Won’t-Be, but I can certainly see them in a pair of leg warmers I’ve been meaning to knit!

 

 

 

 

 

Join The Club

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Skein Yarn of Australia

Lately, I’ve been a little fascinated by the yarn clubs I keep hearing about. I thought I’d take a cruise around the internet and take a look at a couple of them:

YarnBoxYarnBox: This is interesting! There are three plus subscription levels and several single-month options. For $35.95/month for six months, you can treat yourself to two full-size skeins of luxury yarn, 2 patterns, pattern coupons and designer profiles. $39.95 gets you a single month subscription, which is great for those who’d like to try it out before making a 3 or 6 month commitment. Other single-use options include the “Luxe” package at $69.95 which includes handcrafted extras, and the “Sock” package (a great value at $19.95), which includes one or two hand-dyed skeins of sock yarn. There are some really attractive gift subscriptions as well and I like that the yarns are not brand-specific. The only drawback here is that there are no examples of past boxes to peruse and no mention of which yarn companies might be participating. A girl would just have to throw caution to the wind and order the $39.95 one-off.

Yarn Club.netYarnClub.net: Oooh! Look at this pretty little “Awesome Box”, a cute crate that comes packed with goodies. YarnClub partners with artisans all over the US with the mission of delivering unique yarns along with handmade knitting tools and accessories. What a great idea! The boxes are available for purchase one at a time rather than by subscription which means there is no commitment and no upfront fees. The boxes, themed according to season, range between $85 – $100. The website is rich with examples of past boxes and videos detailing the contents of current boxes, such as the Winter Wonderland box featured in December. It included two luxury skeins by Yarn Circus and some really top-notch swag like a laser-etched needle gauge in the shape of a snowflake, Lavishea lotion bars and handmade stitch markers pretty enough to be jewelry. And 1 in every 100 boxes contains a special bonus gift, in this case, a hand-wrought silver tapestry needle by Celtic Swan Forge. What a gorgeous gift idea!

Rockin Sock ClubBlue Moon Fibre Arts Rockin’ Sock Club: This was one of the first sock yarn clubs with some very loyal devotees. For $297 paid up front, you’ll get delivered to your door every other month: a sock length (about 405 yards) of Socks That Rock light weight or medium weight in a unique, exclusive colorway, 2 fancy-schmancy designer sock patterns, Notorious Sock Knitter mini-skeins (doesn’t say how many or what size), stitch markers, buttons and an NSK bumper sticker AND a 15% off coupon. You can save a few clams by choosing the ‘PDF only’ rather than the print option. This is not a bad deal considering I paid close to $40CDN for a skein of STR last summer, but the jewel in the crown is design. Tina Newton and her team have a great eye for edgy, up-and-coming designers while pulling the best and freshest from their stable of the tried-and-true. 

Year in Colour ClubTanis Fibre Arts Year in Colour Club: This is my favorite of the brand-specific packages, partly because I love Tanis yarns and partly because the terms are so perfectly clear. $235 (CDN!) gets you a custom dyed skein with a pattern to match every 2 months and includes shipping. Additional skeins in the club colorways are available for Club members, but are not available to the general public for 1 calendar year. The custom skeins come in a variety of weights, so members can expect to receive anything between a lace weight and an aran. Past packages are documented on the website so one knows just how wonderful they are. Nice.

Kick Ass Knitters/World Domination Yarn Club by IndigodragonflyIndigodragonfly: Hmmm….This is a cool set-up: A basic membership plan with optional add-ons like extra skeins, mystery skeins and swag. The Basic includes one or two luxury skeins in an exclusive Club colorway, 2 patterns per package and a project bag. That’ll set you back $390 for 6 months, $195 for 3, (in color-c0ded Canadian dollars) if you’re in Ontario. For International and other provinces, add a little. Yarn add-ons start at $110 and swag extras are $60. This year, the focus will be on sock and DK weight yarns. I’ve never used this yarn before, but the colors look delicious and I’m tempted to try a skein.

I can’t say the Club idea is for me, though it would be lovely to receive a little surprise in the mail now and then. I think it’s perfect for those who are looking to shake things up and break old routines. And some of the gift ideas are just scrumptious…hmmmm!

Back At It

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Mardi Gras 1

It’s fun to go on vacation, but it’s soooo nice to get back home! Even with two feet of snow and sub-zero temperatures, I love coming home to my fellas, my own bed and the quiet of the country.

Mardi Gras was just as frantic, giggly, sparkly and fabulous as ever. This year, the Krewe of WooHoo made it into the Denver Post as we fired confetti at the corner of Burgundy and Esplanade, right in front of Buffa’s Bar & Grill. That’s Miss Laura you see firing the cannon. She gets a big charge out of it :) I’m the one in pink with the fur trim :D

Denver Post

More sewingI’ve brought a big stack of glittering Mardi Gras fabrics back home to sew, along with an ecclesiastical garment, a Cardinal, to be finished in time for the Sterling Renaissance Faire this spring. When the big sewing machine comes out in March, I shall be sewing some sumptuous, full-circle capes, along with some new knitting bags I have in the works.

Solfar SocksIn the meantime, I’m happy to devote my time to knitting! Good intentions aside, I have not yet finished Laura’s Solfar Socks by Cookie A, though I’m nearly there! Just the foot of the second sock remains. She saw the yarn and stitch pattern when I was in New Orleans and I think she liked them! She’ll be happy to have them; she gets grumpy when her feet are cold.

The “Diana” hat and gloves I’ve had on my work table since before Christmas is almost ready to be released as a pattern. I have a few finger issues to sort out on the gloves, but the charts are all done and the instructions for the hat are finished. I’m knitting the hat again from the written pattern incorporating some changes I made after wearing the hat for a while. I love this hat! Though the ‘Glacier’ color is a favorite of mine, I’m really enjoying the warm, bright ‘Goldfinch’ yellow I’ve chosen for the second one. It’s a touch of sunshine during these last gloomy days of winter.

Acorns 1 by Carol SundayMy ‘Acorns’ sweater is proceeding apace. I’ve finished the yoke, separated the sleeves and am now working my way down the body. I’m not enjoying this pattern…don’t quite know why. It’ll be lovely to wear, however, and I just can’t have too many cardigans at this time of year!

Mardi Gras Missive #2: The Muses

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IMG_5362

Things are heating up! There are parades every night, some enormous and well-executed, some impromptu. Excitement is in the air, there is music on every breeze and everything sparkles and lights up. It’s hard to pace oneself and “pick your battles” but a smart girl does if she hopes to have enough stamina to make it through Fat Tuesday.

Muses Shoe #1

Muses Shoe #3

Muses Shoe #2

My very favorite parade, largely because of their fabulous throws, is the Krewe of Muses which always rolls on the Thursday before Mardi Gras. This is an all-girl Krewe founded in 2001 whose claim to fame is the throwing of gorgeously decorated (and highly coveted) high heeled shoes. Over the years, they’ve added many clever throws like the sought-after shoe bracelet that comes in a different color every year. There is always much excitement and anticipation as to the bracelet’s color which is kept secret until the first one is thrown. I have them dating back to about 2004 in a rainbow of shades. This year’s is blue.

Muses Bracelet 2015

To the people of New Orleans, they are street names, often mispronounced. In Greek mythology the nine Muses were the daughters of Zeus. First parading in 2001, the Muses organization now has over 1000 riding members and was the first all-female organization to parade at night in Uptown New Orleans. The Krewe of Muses’ vision is to tap into and recognize the local artistic and cultural resources of the community and incorporate them into a Muses Mardi Gras tradition, making the entire community a part of the Krewe of Muses parade. We celebrate their wildness before they were tamed, their virtues after they were appointed, and their place in the mystique of New Orleans, where each virtue seems to thrive

Miss Laura managed to catch not one but two shoes this year!

As you can imagine, not much knitting is taking place; we’re busy sewing. My costume is finally finished. I am “Baked Alaska” in keeping with this year’s theme “The Krewe of WooHoo Gets Its Just Desserts”. This is as much as I can show until the big day :)

Baked Alaska

See you after the dust settles!

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