Wind in the Wheat

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Wind in the Wheat

Gosh, I wish every winter day could be like this! Warm, a little rainy and very green. We’ll just give Mother Nature a mulligan and pretend last week never happened. It hasn’t snowed yet. We’ll give her a do-over.

Remember a while back I was looking into what could be done with a single skein of sock yarn with “One Little Skein”? Well, here’s my contribution, “Wind in the Wheat”. It’s a simple, quick cowl with a lacy pattern. It’s fun to knit with self-striping yarn but would be equally pretty in a solid or tonal. I find myself wearing this a lot because, though it’s warm and snuggly under my coat, it’s light enough that I can wear it indoors through the day. I can add a little color to all my black-gray-and-beiges without feeling all bundled up. Wind in the Wheat works up quick enough to be a great last-minute knitted giftie too.

Magico II Degrade by Lana GrossaThe sample is worked in Mary Maxim’s A Step Above Sock Yarn, 100% superwash wool, which, if you recall was another little experiment of mine :) I’ll be wanting to knit another as a sample for the shop and I’m thinking ’bout this little gem that’s been tempting me lately. This is from Lana Grossa, Magico II Degrade. Love those aquas!

Knitter’s Wish List

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ChristmasCS25

It’s that time again! Here’s the Second Annual Knitter’s Wish List. (Feel free to share or leave this page open on your laptop or iPad where Santa can see it.) I’ve “shopped the world” from my aerie here at The Church and come up with these clever suggestions:

My friend, Andrea is the envy of every sock knitter I know. She bit the bullet and bought herself a set of these:

Signature Needle Arts

I’ve envied her ever since. Signature Needle Arts dp’s, (size 2.25mm, 6″, please!) are crafted from aircraft quality aluminum and feature super-pointy stiletto tips. Each size is a different color. Make mine red! (Note: These are ridiculously expensive needles.)

Ever since snippets of Kate Davies’ new book “Yokes” began to make their appearance on her blog along with heart-stopping photographs of her beautiful work, I’ve wanted her book. Elizabeth has pre-ordered it; apparently the shipping cost is out of this world. I bet it’s well worth it.

My hands are dry at the best of times. Add harsh winter weather, dry interior air and working with the drier yarns like lopi and I’m an itchy, flaky mess. Most hand creams don’t help, but here’s one that really does the trick. Crabtree & Evelyn Hand Therapy is the richest, smoothest, most luxurious hand cream ever and the scents are unfailingly wonderful. My go-to fragrances are the lavender and the gardener’s, but this year, two new fragrances make an appearance…English Honey & Peach and Pear & Pink Magnolia. Of course, these can easily be had online or at Crabtree & Evelyn retail stores but recently I’ve found a limited range of scents at Rexall, believe it or not.

For quite some time, I’ve been reading the blog of “Fringe Association” but did not know until recently that it is connected to a neat little online shop called “The Fringe Supply Co.” which carries a unique assortment of sweet gifties, buttons and tools for knitters and crafters. Here’s a cool idea: a knitter’s graph paper journal, perfect for those sudden bursts of creativity.

Knitter's Graph Paper Journal

Ott Floor LampIt’s winter in Canada. It’s dead dark by 5 pm. Thank goodness Ott makes available full-spectrum lighting in both floor and desk-top lamps.

Last time I was favored by a visit from Mrs. Robinson, sheHug Light pulled out a very nifty little lamp that fits around her neck. Ingenious, no? And perfect for knitting at the movies, in bed, or anywhere else where a knitting light might be disturbing to others.

A couple of weeks ago at our knitting retreat, I was fortunate to sit in a class on lace making with Miss Wendy. I noticed her pretty and sleek little stitch markers while I fumbled with my big clumsy plastic ones. She offered me two pink ones and I was immediately addicted to Halo Snag-Free Stitch Markers from Atomic Knitting.uk. So pretty!

Halo Snag-Free  Stitch Marker

Interweave KnitsLast but not least…the gift that keeps on giving. Magazine subscriptions will keep the inspiration flowing all year. I’m a huge fan of the Interweave publications. They produce credible, well-researched material and beautiful patterns and cumulatively produce a sort of knitting encyclopedia. The price is right, too!

Then there are the luxuriously published Rowan knitting magazines. These are so gorgeously photographed and produced, they are more like books. Hence, they are available singly. They feature amazing designers and are heavenly to read and admire. 

Rowan Knitting Magazine

Gosh, I could go on and on…(Carl, dear…if you happen to be reading this, it is NOT NECESSARY to rush out and buy everything on this list. It is meant only as a guide :)

Home from the Falls

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Lunch at Jackson Falls Country Inn

Okay. I admit I’m a little tardy with this post…I’ve been “Home from the Falls” for over a week (where did last week go??). It was an incredible experience, however, so I didn’t want to miss posting about it.

Jackson Falls Country Inn

Twenty-eight intrepid knitters bundled up and trekked to Jackson Falls in Prince Edward County for an inspiring weekend of classes and conversation fueled by excellent food and wine. What could be better?

Our Little Wine Bar

The Jackson Falls Country Inn provided accommodation, classrooms, incredible, imaginative fare and quiet cozy spots to curl up and knit. The Inn itself is a quite remote and very quaint old schoolhouse nestled into the woods. I am inspired by the way Leanne and Paul have retained the authenticity of the building. They have not succumbed to the ‘chi-chi city-folk reno trend’ that has overwhelmed so many of our heritage buildings here in Prince Edward. Speaking as one who lives in a pre-Confederation building, I know how difficult it is to choose preservation over a chic modern reno.

Knitting can be such a solitary sport. Though I like the alone-ness of it, I always benefit from the influence of other knitters. It was so exciting to see new ideas and new techniques at work. 

The seminars taught by Elizabeth McCarten and Robin Hunter were really illuminating, even when they applied to techniques I had used many times. It’s amazing how a new approach freshens a time-worn idea. It was equally educational for me to see how these girls structured their classes. 

And I could not have wished for a finer group of people to share it all with :) Let’s do it again soon, girls!

One Little Skein

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Stranded Advent Scarf 2013 by Tricia Weatherston

Rivendell Smoke Ring by Susan PandorfIsn’t it amazing what can be done with one little skein of sock yarn? Maybe it’s the put-up, usually 395 – 450 yards per skein, so perfect for so many things. Maybe it’s the weight. Light, gentle and easy on the hands, sock yarn works for everything from sweaters to gossamer shawls. And these days, with so many clever dyers out there, the color of modern sock yarn is very enticing indeed! Self-patterning, self-striping, and the long color changes of the effectgarns give knitters no end of inspiration.

One of my very first knitting projects was a scratchy pair of socks (in all honesty, a single scratchy sock) and I distinctly remember staring at a rack of the ol’ Beehive 4-ply thinking bleh. We’ve come a long way, baby.

IMG_4459-001Let’s face it, there are those skeins that are too truly delectable to bury beneath pants and shoes. They need to be seen, front and center. Such is my feeling for this luscious offering from Blue Moon Fibre Arts that I picked up at Twist this summer. I’ve been racking my brain and scouring the web for some truly grand state of being for this yarn.

I love this. I love the way it sits around the neck and on the shoulders and I like that there would be no fiddling and pinning with Luna Viridis there way there often is with shawls. I’m intrigued by the construction; the pattern notes say “It begins as a semi-circular shawl with a Stockinette Stitch center worked flat, and is then joined and worked in the round to create a circular piece that mimics a shawlette wrapped around the neck.” Yeah. I need to try that.

Luna Viridis by Hilary Smith Callis

I did a little experiment this week. I wondered just how far a single skein of sock yarn would go. I’ve come up with a pretty cute little pattern, “Wind in the Wheat”, a single skein design that could be worked with a solid or a self-striping yarn. The lace pattern is easy to memorize and quick and easy to work, and at 50″ in diameter, just the right length to hang around the neck or wrap twice. Should be ready to launch within the next day or two ;) Happy Knitting!

On the Road

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Leaves on the Road

This past weekend, Teddy and I jumped in the car and headed for the Big Smoke. It’s Creativ time again! It’s always such a treat to see what’s going on in other crafts and it’s inspiring to bring home new ideas and new ways of looking at knitting. This year, I was particularly surprised at what sprang from unexpected sources…Mary Maxim, for example. I don’t know if y’all have Mary Maxim south of the 49, but for a Canadian girl growing up, Mary Maxim was “Grandma Knitting”. Every week, in the Sunday paper, there would be a little black & white ad waaaay back in the classified section. It would be a tiny line drawing of a sweater or a hat and scarf. You’d clip the ad from the paper, make yourself a self-addressed stamped envelope, enclose about .35 cents plus 2 cents for postage and Voila! Three weeks later, you’d have a pattern in your mailbox! Magic!

Mary Goes RetroHow things have changed for good ‘ol Mary! Over the past couple of years at Creativ (and various fibre festivals) I’ve noticed a great number of her little pink bags being toted around. This year I decided to see what all the fuss was about. Wow! Grandma’s knitting no more! At least, not all of it. I’m telling you, there are some incredible marketing geniuses at work here. In her 60th year, Mary has partnered with Roots Canada (that’s right! Hipster heaven!) to create these magnificent sweaters, all evocative of our Canadian heritage and imbued with the irony so particular to hipsters. Yet, the Grandma quotient has not been entirely ignored with many of her iconic low priced synthetic fibre still available. 

Short Row JacketSome great knitting minds have been employed in Mary’s resurrection as well. Check out these brilliant short rows! Though I can’t say I’m nuts about the color or the yarn, I’ve been searching everywhere for this pattern, post-facto, and am seriously thinking of phoning Mary’s original Paris, Ontario store to get it.

Clever Short Rows

Felted/Knitted CapeThe best thing about Creativ, though, is the desire on the part of knitters (and other crafters) to keep pace with what’s new and what’s out there to learn. Creativ hosts a multitude of classes and workshops which are very well attended, my own Two-at-a-time Sock class among them. I was blessed with an eager, skilled and intelligent group who really ‘suspended their disbelief’ to learn the technique. It was great fun and a great learning experience for me, too. At their request, I’ve posted two new videos on the Tutorials page, “Long Tail Cast On for Two” and “Twin Stitch”. I hope they’re helpful :)

On and Off!

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Cinnamon Stone by VeryBusyMonkey

My Cinnamon StoneStarted Friday, finished this morning, Tuesday (even though I worked Saturday and Monday). What a great ride! As I was saying to hubby-dear just yesterday, a little shawl is a lotta bang for the buck…very showy results for very little yarn and time. I loved this pattern and found it very compelling. Like a good book, I am a little sad that it’s over. Having said this, I did find some errors in Chart 3 and, judging by Ravelry projects and comments, I’m not the only one. They weren’t deal breakers, but one does need a certain turn of mind to keep the eyelet pattern positioned correctly and the stitch count consistent. Can’t wait til it’s blocked. As we all know, lace always looks like the dog’s breakfast until it’s blocked.

Diana Draft 2Onward and upward. After my enjoyable distraction with Cinnamon Stone, I shall dive back into my Diana Hat & Gloves pattern. After the first sample section, I made some notes, made some changes and on to Draft 3. It’s coming along nicely, especially since the advent of “Intwined Pattern Studio” onto Mr. Mac. Changes in the blink of an eye, whole pattern sections moved with a key stroke…heaven. And no enormous graphite-y scribblings all over the house. ‘K, Good.

So! Classes! The Rosehaven newsletter was delivered Sunday afternoon for those of you who subscribe. Here’s the line-up with one or two new workshops to come for December, January and February (ie: another Sock Camp!)

Knitter’s Crash Course: 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 you’ll need to know.

Knitting-in-the-Round: Take your knitting skills to the next level with Knitting in the Round and open up a world of opportunity! With this two session course or Saturday workshop, you’ll learn to knit in the round using both circular and double-pointed needles.
You’ll learn basic shaping techniques while creating a super snuggly hat. You’ll also get an introduction to color work by learning to knit jog-less stripes.

Mitten Magic: If you can knit mittens, you can knit anything! In this action-packed full day workshop, you’ll learn all the magical shaping techniques required to make mittens using the versatile Magic Loop method. You’ll learn to cast on “magically”, create a gusset thumb and finish up with a nice, rounded top. Soon, you’ll be making Magic Mittens in every color and texture imaginable!

Don’t forget! We’ll be at CreativFestival this weekend! I’ll be teaching Two-at-a-Time Socks nine a.m. til noon on Sunday.

Happy Trails!

Pretty New Things

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Thanksgiving Place Setting

There seem to be so many pretty new things in my world right now. Last weekend, as you may know, was Thanksgiving in Canada. That meant some fun and exciting time with family and friends, and for me, the fun of planning and serving a big dinner. At about 4 o’clock on Saturday, Carl rambled in. “I’ve just picked up your Christmas gift. I’m wondering if I should just give it to you now…” He retreated to the garage, returning with several very big boxes. Buried within a bunch of bubble wrap and newspaper lay a complete set of vintage china. How ’bout that?!? I swear there are place settings for 12 including covered serving dishes, 2 gravy boats, coffee and tea pots…everything! Despite having to rethink my table service, I was over the moon!

Cowl by kllHere at the shop, some very sweet and lovely new things have made appearances over the past week. Look at this gorgeous cowl by kll! I love everything about this…its lightness, its silkiness, the color and its every-perfect-stitch-ness. I wish the photo did it justice.

Lesley’s mom, Rosemary, is one of the loveliest knitters I know. She worked up this little hat sample for us from the new Quince and Co Osprey. Isn’t it cute? I love the color, the gauge and the simplicity of this little hat. It makes me smile :)

Osprey Hat by Rosemary

Something about this sweet scarf really speaks to me. Reversible cables have always intrigued me, but there is something softly special about this simple scarf, Tumnus by Elizabeth McCarten. And it is red, which never hurt either. (Once again, the photo just can’t show the subtle perfection of this pretty new thing.)

Tumnus by Elizabeth McCarten

Here’s something new! I bought two skeins of this rich, brick colored Shibui Staccato at Twist in August. It’s been sitting in my stash ever since and scarcely a day goes by that I don’t think about it, wondering what project could possibly do justice to its loveliness. I pulled it out last night, foolishly right before bedtime. I tossed and turned all night and resolved that I’d find a project for it today or bust. For a little added incentive, I have Creativ and our PEC knitting retreat coming up and I’d love to have something precious to wear. I got on it Shibui Staccato in Brickfirst thing and, after weighing my options, decided on the Cinnamon Stone Shawl from VeryBusyMonkey. Got the pattern, got the yarn, got the needles! Just CAN’T WAIT to get home and cast on!

Cinnamon Stone Shawl

Autumnmmmm….

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Fall Vineyard in PEC Love it! Driving to work this morning, I marveled at the incredible color popping out all around me. Did you know that leaves turn color, not because of lower temperatures but because of fewer hours of light? Think about it…photosynthesis! Never mind, five syllable words cannot dim the glory of the changing seasons ;)

Autumn YarnWhen I got to the shop, I peeked through the shelves and pulled out some lovely autumn shades from among the skeins. All summer long, I’ve worked in aqua, pale green, yellow. Now I’m craving the luscious warm shades like plum, brick, and pomegranate. 

It has been on my mind to make a pair of socks from this, one of my favorite ‘staple yarns’, Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine, in glorious Canadian red! Perhaps Carl shall be the recipient.

Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine

Quince & Co ChickadeeThis is my favorite new yarn, Quince & Co. Chickadee. I’m using this plump and fluffy little gem for a new hat and gloves pattern. I’m currently using “Glacier”, but I’m struck with how pretty these three colors look snuggled up together on the shelf.

Malabrigo Rios in CumparsitaThis arrived yesterday…Malabrigo Rios in “Cumparsita”. What an indescribable shade of plum it is, and with such a complexity of shades, it reminds me of fresh berry pie! I’m currently/intermittently knitting Carl’s Birthday Sweater with Rios, but in the Playa colorway. 

We’ve had this pretty yarn for a month or so and I’ve been really intrigued by it. It’s an extremely soft and squishy blend of baby alpaca, wool and silk. The colors are lovely! I think maybe gloves?Cosma

Art Yarn Mohair SilkAnd who can resist Art Yarns Mohair Silk? You know, aside from a little ‘play time’, I don’t think I’ve ever worked an entire mohair project. I guess I better put that on the Winter 2015 list.

Pumpkin Ice BucketAfter all those years of living in the US, it always feels a little weird to celebrate Thanksgiving so early, but celebrate we shall! We’re blessed with family and dear friends this weekend which means cooking, baking and cleaning. Better get at it!

Ticklish Ribs

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Rib and Stripe Scarf by Kristin Spurkland

On this cold and rainy fall day, I am diligently working samples for my Magic Mittens workshop. The pattern is a simple mitten blank that is easy to customize with colorwork, cables…anything. While working the 2×2 ribbing for the cuffs <yawn> I started daydreaming about the many clever ways that knitters use ribbing and about the many ways a ribbed effect can be achieved.

Shibui Mix #21 by Lydia TsymbalA nice lady came into the shop on Saturday. She was about 4 rows short of finishing this! Lovely, isn’t it? She worked it in Shibui Staccato in the most gorgeous shade of slate gray. Since I’d picked up a couple of skeins of this yarn at Twist a few weeks ago, I was particularly thrilled to see how beautifully it works up.

Shibui Staccato in Tar

I’ve got a couple of sock designs on the drawing table these days and knowing how ribbing or ribbing-like stitches contribute to a well-fitting socks, these pretty examples caught my eye.

Tumnus by Elizabeth McCartenIt’s a big fat bonus that ribbing is reversible, even some of the fancy ones, making it perfect for scarves.

Reversible Cable-Knit Scarf by Bette Day Stern

I guess I shouldn’t be yawning after all!

Recalled to Life

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Danny's sweater "The Shining"

I finished “The Shining” sweater! Off it goes in the mail today.

Andalus MittensI’m a four season knitter. I don’t quit once the warm weather hits; instead I switch to cotton, linen and other light-weight fibers. It never fails, though, that twice a year I’ve got off-season knits on the needles when the weather changes. Sometimes I berate myself for my lack of commitment but recently, I’ve come to enjoy recalling to life the dormant projects I’ve left behind for greener pastures. For example, last year at this time, I dug out these pretty stranded mittens. I had only to knit the thumbs (which I accomplished in very short order) and they were ready to be worn and enjoyed all through the winter. 

Riverside CowlI was rummaging through the ‘Time-out Basket’ the other day when I came across this little cowl designed by Mary Ann Stephens. I have literally 2 inches of white lining left to knit on this! Why I felt it was necessary to drop it at that point is beyond me. The bright side is that I can start the fall season with a very-close-to-finished object. It also sort of matches these languishing stranded mittens.Snowy Morning Mittens

Gnome Hat

This poor little gnome hat lay crumpled in the basket next to its half charted pattern. It looks a little like the sorting hat from Harry Potter at the moment but I think it might be cute ;)

Meisi GlovesUnder the heading of “New Stuff”, I’m making quite good progress on these, the “Miese Gloves” with one glove finished and one worked to just above the thumb. I think they’ll shine up good when blocked. I’m working these with one of my old favorites, Ultra Alpaca Fine in Turquoise Mix. Also, I am working on the samples for my Knitting 101 and Knitting in the Round classes, pics later. And that’s all the news that’s fit to print :)

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