Linen

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Linen Botanical Drawing

Finally, I’ve managed to wish it up…a real, live heat wave! I couldn’t be happier; I’m really only comfortable about 6 days out of the year…today’s perfect! 

My Maisie SweaterHot or cold, I’ve been a little preoccupied with linen lately. Today’s incarnation makes three for my linen pullover. I took some inspiration from this beautiful sweater from “Coastal Knits” (below is the Bayside Pullover by Hannah Fettig). Mine has a little motif that looks like corn or wheat. Really, I’m just working on the fit now. I’m using Quince & Co. Sparrow, which I love, but I’m hoping to make another in wool or a wool blend just to prove it can (and should!) be done.

Bayside Pullover by Hannah Fettig

Any idea how linen yarns for knitting and weaving are made? I was amazed at how labor intensive it is to extract the silky fibre. Linen is a bast fibre, which means the long, sinewy strands are wrapped around a sort of straw and encased in a stalk. Linen fibre comes from the area labelled ‘BF’ below. Cross Section, Linen Stalk

Once the plants, whose carefully broadcast seeds are neither too close nor too far apart, have reached maturity, the entire plant is uprooted, bundled and placed to dry in the sun. Once dry, they are threshed to remove the seeds. Next, the retting, or ‘rotting’ process takes place during which the dry, outer stalk is removed by soaking in open baths or rotting in dew in the fields. Either way, I gather it’s a pretty stinky proposition.

Flax plants drying in Sweden

Flax plants drying in Sweden

  The softened stalks are then dried and cured before they are broken and scutching knives are employed to remove remaining woody bits.

Linen Fibre

The silky fibre is then combed or heckled using a bed of nails which separates the fibers into long strands that can be spun. Can you imagine? Who was the first guy to say, “Um, yeah, I bet there’s some cool stuff inside that plant stalk…think I’ll work my butt off to get it outa there!” Thank goodness he did…look at this…I’ll sure never complain again about the cost!

Soft Linen Feather and Fan by Pam Allen

…and this…

Soft Linen Single Gore Skirt by Gudrun Johnston

…and this!

Linen Tunic by Purl Soho

 

Very Nice Things

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Snail by Agutik on EtsyVery Nice Things have been happening lately. Yesterday, I got a letter! A real letter! With stamps and post marks and a pretty, handwritten name and address and one of those nice return address stickers. It was from my friend Anna in New Orleans. What a treat it is to receive something made by someone’s own hand. It was so exciting to see a pretty yellow envelope of unusual proportions in with the day’s mail of bills and advertisements and so nice to hear, in Anna’s own handwriting, just how she’s doing. I’m glad letter-writing is not a lost art, just one that’s precious because it requires time  and effort and thought to create. And I do believe that a letter is a creation.

Elle Luna #The100DaysProject

Which leads me to another Very Nice Thing…Have you heard of The 100 Days Project? I read about it yesterday on JenKnittingAround and was intrigued. It’s a celebration of the process of making. You pick an action and do it everyday for 100 days, sharing your progress on Instagram. You can read more about it here. I really enjoyed reading Jen’s insights about the project her progress through it. 

Quince & Co SparrowOn Sunday, Hubby picked me up from work and took me out for dinner. Just like that! He said I’d been working hard and deserved a little treat; he braved the tourist traffic and took me to my favorite casual place where I had yummy Fish & Chips instead of my usual calorie-conscious Chicken Caesar Salad. I thought that was Very Nice Indeed! :)

My Sparrow sweater, with its miles of fingering-weight stockinette stitch is coming along Very Nicely! Though my hands are a little beat up, I’m enjoying the silky, drapey-ness of the linen. As the days pass, I’m getting fonder of it and I’m beginning to think it might turn out to be something I love. I can’t wait to share it with you!

It occurs to me that Very Nice Things often take time, sometimes 100 days or more! It’s OK…they’re worth it ;) I’m off to write a letter!

Baby Love

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Baby Blanket "Noah" by le Petit Mouton

I must admit…I’m not terribly fond of infants. I find them a little creepy and breakable. I mean, they’re adorable and all….I’m just never sure what to do with them. (Now, a dog…that’s different ;)

Dotted Dog Blanket (W546) by Amy Bahrt

Having said that, babies do have their virtues. For example, they create the most marvelous opportunity for knitting! As luck would have it, there’s a new baby on its way for the Williams family on the other side of the pond in Denmark. We do not, nor shall we, know what variety the baby will be, not until after it has arrived. No matter, I shall be prepared!

As Mumsie is to be a great-grandmother for the first time, I thought it would be lovely if we joined forces on a project. We’re doing this:

Baby Blanket "Noah"

I’ve ordered KnitPicks Swish DK in Wonderland Heather, Dove Heather and Peapod. I’m going to modify the construction a little so that we can each make squares. I’ll join them together. 

In my search for blankets, I came upon these. I’m pretty sure one of them will make its way onto my needles at some point. I’m especially fond of the woven looking one because of the clever way the ribbing works its way into the basketweave pattern. 

Aren’t these little accessories sweet and inspiring? Love the duckling feet!

The PurlBee is such an amazing resource; I love the simplicity and organic quality of their knits. I think everybody, Mom and Pop too, ought to have one of these hats. One for me, please!

Garter Ear Flap Hat by Purl Soho

Cardigan for Merry has been on my Ravelry queue for a very long time, just waiting for someone to announce a baby. Here’s my chance! I’m going to use Quince & Co Chickadee for this one. I’ve just ordered a few skeins in Winesap. 

Cardigan for Merry adapted by annypurls

Then I found this! Immediately, I emailed Mumsie and Carl to say “Yeah. This is definitely happening”! I’m hoping to squeeze this event for every last drop of knitting magic!

Welcome to the Flock by Julia Farwell-Clay

Wow! There’s a LOT!

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Fireworks

Holy Smokes! It feels like such a long, long time since I’ve posted! About 2 1/2 weeks, to be precise. There’s just been such a LOT going on! We celebrated Canada Day on July 1 and Independence Day on July 4. Carl’s been home for both. July 4 also marked the beginning of the Tour de France!

tour-france-presentation-2015

We’re huge cycling fans here at the Church and when le Tour begins, we’re likely toPeter Sagan celebrate with delightful breakfasts of champagne, pate, croissants and fresh fruit. We can usually count on spending all three weekends together at home, often with a bonus couple of weekday race days. Things are iffy this year, though, with Carl working from Niagara Falls, so we’ve got to snatch the time while we can get it. Fabulous racing so far, although my favorite rider, Peter Sagan, lost his green jersey today. I’m a little depressed about that. <Never mind, Petey ol’ boy….it’s a long way to Paris.>

Generally, le Tour justifies some mighty fine morning knitting. I’ve got two Tour projects working this year. There are two because I simply could not choose. One is a design I’ve got to get done before “Twist” and the other is a homely little thing I’ve had in mind for months. 

MaisieI’m working up this idea in Quince & Co Sparrow in the ‘Maize’ colorway. Can you see the little ears of corn developing? I’m hoping it will be as cute as I think ;)

Funny Little Cardi

Here’s a funny little thing that is emerging like a phoenix from a project I frogged while attempting to organize my stash. Can’t say I love it. It’s fun to knit, though and I’m hoping my heart will grow fonder when I incorporate my master plan a little further in. 

Sterling Renaissance Festival

No sooner had the Tour opened then I made my annual pilgrimage to Sterling to visit Miss Laura in the Forest, piles of finished sewing in hand. We spent a lovely day on the water with friends and roasted steaks over an open fire on the beach. Ah…I do love summer!

Little Sodus Bay

Cladonia Shawl by Kristen KapurThroughout all of the merry-making, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my Cladonia Shawl. It’s been fun and easy to knit, with some lacy edging thrown in just at the point of ennui. It’s become a little quirky; this is new color territory for me. I think I’ll like it after blocking. Of course, I’ve just run short of the itty-bitty mini-skein I was using to knit the border. I’ll have to run into town to get another…nice way to spend my only day off in the next 7!

Cladonia Shawl by Kristen Kapur

2 By 2

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B&W Stripes

Cladonia by Kirsten KapurSo last night, I started this! I’ve been doing a ton of non-me-related knitting lately and  I’ve been dying for a pretty, gentle, just-for-me knit where I might learn a thing or two. I chose Cladonia by Kristen Kapur, partly because of the stripes. I am extremely fond of 2-row stripes. I even love the 2-row striping one needs to do when working with hand-dyed yarns.

Sommernachtstraum

There’s just something lovely about stripes. They can be soft and subtle as in this shawl by Tanja Steinbach. It’s worked in Tahiti by Schachenmayr, which is a really pretty sport weight cotton. I managed to procure a skein of this at Needle in a Haystack in Picton a couple of months ago and have thought many times about going back for more. Perhaps this shall be my motivation. Look how subtle these are; the grey and white garter stripes look as if they’re studded with little pearls or gems. Lovely. Liaison by Annestricke.

Liaison by ANKESTRiCK

Wavelike by Stephen WestStephen West is a master of stripes, both the 2-by-2 variety and the brioche variety. I know I need to knit a Stephen West project at some point, I just can’t decide which one! This one, Wavelike, is fabulous, but I think I may be leaning toward Exploration Station.

Lilli Pilli by ambah

Nymphalidea by Melinda VerMeerI admire the way Ambah has chosen to combine these seemingly disparate elements in the Lilli Pilli shawl. Somehow, they bond to one another, though, don’t they? And I’ve always been a big fan of running a self-striping or gradient yarn against a solid or semi-solid as has been done in the Nymphalidea Shawl.

A big favorite of mine is the 3 Color Cashmere Cowl by Joji Locatelli. I think I really NEED this piece, especially if it could be cashmere. It’s like a knitting sampler. I could see myself wearing this all year ’round. After all, here in Canada I’m only comfortably warm for 2 days out of the  year…

3 Color Cashmere Cowl by Joji Locatelli

 

Needle Wrangling

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Gordian Knot

Circular needles…we love them, but what a tangle they can become. There are a number of interesting ways to tame them, depending on your needs.

Deerie Lou CD Case

Because of teaching and working in the shop, my needles are constantly in ‘mobile mode’, zipped up and ready to go. Sophie of Unravelling Sophie had this clever solution: an ordinary CD case! As we all know, these are cheap and ubiquitous.  The Namaste line makes a pretty cool case with accordion-like plastic sleeves and a convenient labelling system. This comes in a double-wide format as well. They can be purchased at KnitPicks.

Namaste Circular Needle Case

Chic-a Circular Needle CaseChic-a Circular Needle CaseFor being sweet, you can’t beat Chic-a. Their zippered needle case holds 16 needles and comes in a variety of cute fabrics. They make one for interchangeable sets too. The outer fabric looks like oilcloth, although the web page is a little low on detail. 

If you’re into handmade, Etsy has some lovely cases like the pretty aqua one with a snap closure from Needle Palace. I love these from CrippenWorks too.

Circular Case Pattern by Stitching TimeFor those who like to sew, there are a number of patterns available. This one, by Stitching Times is available for about $6.00CDN on Craftsy. What a great gift for knitty/sewy friends…you could give the pattern or the FO!

Sometimes, I wish I could leave my needles uncoiled to let the cables straighten out. I’d love one of these hanging cases. Perhaps I should make a pattern and stitch one up!

Sweetest of all, however, are these little 6″ DPN “Cozies” by the Nome Knitter. What an adorable way to keep everything buttoned up and tame those stray stitches.

DPN Cozy by the Nome Knitter

Buttons!

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Denna's Button CookiesMartha Steward Button CookiesSo. You’ve invested the money, put in the time and you’ve created a beautifully crafted, hand made sweater with perfect buttonholes and button bands. What now? Buttons! I hear people complain about how hard it is to find good buttons, but my quick little search led to so many wonderful things, I could have looked at fabulous buttons all day. (I’d especially love a batch of the buttons above…button cookies! Check out the tutorial here.)

Mimi's Dorset ButtonsDorset buttons are something I really love and I’m sorry that I default to a shopping trip every time I need buttons. They are quite easy to make, require only the most basic materials and are perfect for those times when the buttons need to blend with the sweater. Knitting Daily published a neat tute on making these Checkerboard Buttons.Checkerboard Buttons on Knitting Daily

Kate Davies has a very good tutorial where she’s used a contrasting wool button. Here’s another by Henry’s Buttons, based in Dorset where the button industry began in the 1600’s. These sweet little buttons have an interesting history too.

Dorset Buttons How To

Buttons by ButtonMadThe variety of ceramic buttons available boggles the mind! ButtonMad, located in the Boston area, had me paging through their lovely, whimsical catalogue where I could easily have loaded up a shopping cart of pretty things, like these little sheep. A more rustic approach to ceramic buttons comes from potter Duane Collins at Elements Pottery on Etsy. Imagine a feature button like this crafted in dramatic raku.

Raku Buttons by Elements Pottery

My favorites are made of natural, classic materials like bone and horn. Fringe Supply Co. has a beautiful array of simple buttons.

As features buttons, I was really taken with these sea-stone and sea-glass buttons from IrisDesigns on Etsy. 

Iris Designs Sea Stone Buttons

I guess we’re not looking at Yo’Mama’s Button Box anymore, are we? 

Simple Shapes

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Easy Sewing Projects

Maybe it’s my current focus on a handmade wardrobe, maybe it’s the success we’ve had at Rosehaven with the Cut Loose line, but I’ve really been enjoying the trend I’m seeing toward easy, unstructured lines in clothing and accessories. Simple shapes are occurring with greater and greater success in knitting and in sewing for clothing and accessories. A clever girl could create a complete and elegant handmade wardrobe using pared down, essential silhouettes.

Look at these lovely layering pieces! This is gentle knitting, tenderly shaped, that a knitter can create while watching tv or sitting on the beach or at the park. All of these minimalist patterns lend themselves to seasonal interpretation as well.

SS15 | Slope by Shellie AndersonFeatherweight Cardigan by Hannah FettigFine Sand by Heidi KirrmaeirNotched Hem Tank Top by Purl Soho

 

 

On the sewing side, I’m seeing a similar trend toward simple shapes. The rise of the independent pattern design movement has contributed in a large way by presenting quick, easy-to-sew, go-to pieces like these:

SHEARWATER KAFTAN BY MAKE IT PERFECTEMERSON WRAP BY SEW TO GROWUp Sew Late Simple ShapesROSALINE BY KZJO STUDIO

 

 

I want to make at least one of each! More exciting new indie pattern designers can be found on IndieSew, a fabulous new website for those who love to sew. Is this the Ravelry of sewing? I hope so! It’s about time…

Summer Classes

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Now that all the scheduling, sample knitting and brochure making is done, here’s the new class line-up for summer!

Knitter's Crash Course

KNITTER’S CRASH COURSE

Saturday, June 27 from 10am – 6pm

Level: Absolute Beginner

Full Day Weekend Workshop

$100 + materials & tools

Go from absolute beginner to capable knitter – no previous experience required! This intensive 8-hour workshop teaches the essential techniques you’ll need to take on new projects with confidence. You’ll learn to cast on and cast off, to knit, purl and combine stitches. You’ll learn to read a pattern and discuss yarn weights, needle sizes and other important technical things.

PROJECT: Our summer project is a collection of soft, luxurious spa cloths, each featuring a different stitch combination. You’ll enrich your stitch vocabulary while practicing your cast-on and bind-off while making these giftable and colorful cotton cloths.

TOOLS & MATERIALS:

4 skeins Nova Plus Four Seasons cotton (solid or variegated)

1 set – 4.00mm circular needles with minimum 24” cable

Tapestry needle for weaving in ends

Locking stitch markers

 

 

Knitting in the Round

KNITTING IN THE ROUND

Sunday, July 12 from 1pm – 6pm

Level: Beginner

Half-Day Weekend Workshop

$60 + materials & tools

 

Take your knitting skills to the next level with Knitting in the Round and open up a world of opportunity! With this Half Day Weekend Workshop you’ll learn to knit in the round using the versatile magic loop method. You’ll learn basic shaping techniques and some new stitch combinations while creating a super cool cotton beanie.

PROJECT: This summer-bright topper is fun and quick to knit from a great new yarn made from recycled jeans.

TOOLS & MATERIALS:

1 skein Berroco Indigo

1 set – 3.75mm circular needles with minimum 40” cable

Tapestry needle for weaving in ends

Locking stitch markers

 

 

Knitting classes

INTRO TO KNITTED LACE

Sunday, July 26 from 1pm – 6pm

Level: Advanced Beginner

You’ll need to be comfortable with knit and purl stitches, simple increase and decrease techniques and you’ll need to recognize these stitches by sight.

Half Day Weekend Workshop

$60 + materials & tools

 

In this half-day weekend workshop, we’ll unlock the mysteries of lace knitting. You’ll learn to read charts, lay in a lifeline, and create the pretty, openwork fabrics that make knitted lace so pretty. We’ll be working a soft and slouchy summer hat in Berroco Indigo cotton, made from recycled jeans.

PROJECT: This deeply ribbed, super slouchy summer hat is fun and quick to knit from a single skein of cotton yarn. Guaranteed not to cause hat-head ;)

TOOLS & MATERIALS:

1 skein Berroco Indigo

1 set – 3.00mm circular needles with minimum 40” cable

1 set – 4.00mm circular needles with minimum 40” cable

Tapestry needle for weaving in ends

Locking stitch markers

 

 

 

Knit to Fit

KNIT-TO-FIT:

Saturday, July 4 Noon – 5 pm

Level: Advanced Beginner

You’ll need to be comfortable with knit and purl stitches, simple increase and decrease techniques and you’ll need to recognize these stitches by sight.

Half-Day Workshop $60

You’ve knit scarves, dishcloths, hats and maybe socks…now you’re ready for the BIG ONE! It’s time to knit your first sweater. KNIT-TO-FIT is the perfect way to get the best results possible. We’ll learn to interpret a pattern and to use schematics to make a sweater that really fits and flatters. We’ll learn to make intelligent yarn substitutions and pattern modifications and to knit a gauge swatch that ensures success.

 

 

 

SOCK CAMP!

SOCK CAMP: Basic Training

Saturday, August 1 from 10am – 6pm

 LEVEL: ADVANCED BEGINNER

Full Day Weekend Workshop

$100 + materials & tools

Perfect for the first-time sock knitter, Basic Training focuses on the fundamentals of sock knitting. You’ll learn to knit socks the fast, fun and easy way while concentrating on the three essential sock-knitting techniques. Using one of our fabulous heavyweight sock yarns, you’ll be casting on, turning heels and grafting toes all in the course of an action-packed day!

PROJECT: We’ll complete a prototypical nano-sock as we work through all of the techniques you’ll need to knit socks of any size and weight.

 MATERIALS:

1 Skein ON Line Supersocke 8-ply OR 1 skein Regia North Pole Color

1 – 4mm circular needle with minimum 40” cable

1 set of 5 double pointed needles, size 4mm, minimum 5” long

Tapestry needle

Removable stitch markers

 

All classes are given at Rosehaven Yarn Shop, 187 Main Street, Picton, Ontario. Visit the shop or call 613-476-9092 to register. See you there!

 

 

Things I’d Knit if I Had the Time

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Pop Blanket by Tin Can Knits

My Ravelry queue is an absolute catastrophe. I mean….! There are items on that list that have been there forever. Every time I go to weed things out and straighten things out I just. Can’t! I can’t just remove things. I’m afraid I’ll lose track of them forever. All the things I really want to knit may be lost! Tragic. 

…And speaking of tragedy and the things I really want to knit…Seems to me I’m knitting a whole bunch of things right now that I only marginally want to knit. I wish the “hafta” knit list could be done so that I could move forward into the “wanna” knit list. Forward from that would be never creating the “hafta” list to begin with. (Let’s allow that thought to simmer a minute, shall we?)

Anyhoo…here are some things I’d knit if I had the time.

Cooldown by Alicia Plummer

1. If you know me at all, you’ll know I’m on a bit of a health kick lately. I’ve been working out and eating healthy since the beginning of March. (Why Mother Nature, knowing this, conspired to put not one but TWO new bakeries within spittin’ distance of the Shop, I’ll never know, but that’s another post.) Just when I thought wearing work out clothes precluded wearing a comfy sweater, Alicia Plummer came up with this: “Cooldown”. I love this as a concept and have a very interesting idea germinating in my mind which involves KnitPicks “Shine” (60% Pima cotton, 40% Modal.)

Haruni by Emily Ross

2. I made a “Haruni” about 3 years ago, and loved every minute of it. It’s pretty and instantly gratifying. I wear this old Haruni every time we do a show. It packs easily, I can wear it no matter what the season or temperature and it always gets me a ton of compliments. I’d like another. Actually, I’d like to knit another. While we were at Knitter’s Frolic back in April, I bought some Madeline Tosh and some pretty beads with just this purpose in mind. Now, if I only had the time…

Pop Blanket 2 by Tin Can Knits

3. I’m in love with Tin Can Knits, just like everyone else. I’d heard of Tin Can of course, but really started looking closely when I found the Simple Collection; it’s packed with great stuff for knitting classes. When I saw “Pop Blanket”, I knew I’d have to make it some day. The combination of the color-changing fantasy of Noro Kureyon (it’s actually meant to be “Crayon” I’m told by a Japanese customer) and the earthy goodness of Cascade Eco had me at “Cast-On”.

Epistrophy by Kate Davies

4. Something, anything, by Kate Davies. I’m embarrassed to say, I’ve never knit one of her patterns and the suspense is killing me. It would be a very tough call, but I’d probably choose “Epistrophy” from the “Yokes” book. Anybody who’d design a sweater in homage to Thelonius Monk is pretty okay in my books!

Brookline by Elizabeth McCarten

5. “Brookline”. Love at first sight. We got Road to China swatch cards in the shop last week. It was all I could do not to order the yarn and cast it on. I would have, too, if I’d had the time.

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