“How Many Pairs of Socks Do You Need?”

Lunch hour at the office. After I announce that I’m leaving the lunch room to knit at my desk, my dear co-worker asks me what I’m working on.

“Oh, just a pair of socks,” I inform her.

“How many pairs of socks do you need? Every time I ask, you’re always working on socks!” She replied.

A beat passes. I don’t know how to answer that question. How many pairs of socks does a person need?

Socks are the perfect transportable project. Throw the yarn, pattern notes and needles into a small bag and they are ideal for keeping in a purse, ready to be broken out and a few rounds worked at any time.  Admittedly, my sock drawer is fuller now-a-days than it has ever been, brimming with sports socks and hand knit beauties.  Do I really need another pair of hand knit, hand-dyed merino nylon socks? Well, maybe not. But do I want them? You know it.

And because I know you’re curious, here are the socks in question. The pattern is Dumbledore’s Christmas Stockings by Erica Lueder; the yarn is Riverside Studio Superwash Merino Nylong Sock, colourway Mica.

Knit In Public Day 2017

Is there anything better than getting together with friends and spending an afternoon knitting? Why, yes there is! Getting together and knitting with friends IN PUBLIC for Worldwide Knit In Public Day!

Are you asking yourself what is Worldwide Knit In Public Day? Take a moment and read my post from last year where I touch on its history.

This year, we met at the same place, the courtyard in front of the Whitby Public Library; the group may have been smaller, but it was a beautiful day spent outside.  My friend Polo over at the Knitter Nerd co-ordinated it, in partnership with Whitby’s LYS, Kniterary. Side note: if you’re not following Polo, you really should because she writes about really cool/yarny/nerdy stuff, and she just revamped her site and it looks awesome.

People were knitting, people were using knitting machines (quite the set up!), and I spent my afternoon seaming a baby sweater which will be mailed to its recipient later this week.


Last year I asked the question isn’t every day knit in public day, because I’m not shy about my habit; I’ve knit on planes, trains, automobiles, in restaurants, coffee shops, on sidewalk benches, and in the middle of parks. What makes WWKIP day so amazing is that there is power in numbers. When you get a sizable group together, everyone partaking in the same activity, passers-by want to come over and want to learn more about what we’re up to. We get to showcase our pastime, our passion. We get to spend time outside on a lovely June day with other knitters with the knowledge that around the world, there are others doing the exact same thing as you.


I’m going to keep knitting in public, but I’m already looking forward to WWKIP Day 2018!

Finding the Right Pattern

Sometimes, you just want a big, cozy, wooly sweater.


This Briggs and Little Yarn has been in my stash for well over two years, gifted to me by a friend who knows I’m a knitter. It sat in my stash because even though four skeins is a lot of yardage, it isn’t quite enough to make a sweater. A little over a year later, I bought this yarn from a craft fair, the fleece from a local farm.


The natural brown would compliment the natural grey of the Briggs and Little quite well. But still the yarns sat, unsure of how to take these two yarns and make a sweater. I could have alternated the colours of the sleeves and edging, but I wasn’t so keen on that. However, I had a stroke of inspiration.

If you’re in the ‘knitting world,’ you’ve of course heard all about Andrea Mowry’s Find Your Fade, a beautiful shawl made from five different colours of yarn.  It’s stunning for its size, construction, and originality.   Well, why couldn’t I find my fade with these complimentary yarns?  The basic idea is that you knit continuously with one colour, and when you’re ready to introduce the next, you knit a few rows of stripes, helping the colours ‘fade’ into each other. Find the right sweater pattern and fade the colours into each other.  Simple enough in theory.

Enter Fezziwig: a warm, cozy sweater designed by Melissa Schaschwary.  I have the yarn, I have the pattern, I have the general idea for how I’ll fade the two colours into each other.  And if it doesn’t work, I can always rip back, re-wind and it can keep my other stashed yarn company awaiting new inspiration.


Stay tuned.

When a Knitter Takes Time To Bake

I love baking. Give me flour, sugar, butter, and an oven pre-heated to 350F, I’m a happy girl. I’ve talked about my baking hobby in a previous post, sharing pictures of Easter cupcakes from a few years ago.

When my boss started planning her May 2017 wedding, she asked me to make the cake – Red Velvet with a Vince Neil cake topper. (Side note, my boss is an amazing person whose interests span from cemeteries and museums to Motley Crue. She’s awesome.) Making the cake, easy enough. We looked at a few pictures online of other ‘rock concert themed’ cakes for inspiration, so I had a mental image of how it will all come together, but where I started to stumble was the Red Velvet Cake.

Like many home bakers, I start with a box mix then use my own add ins. My standard not-so-secret personal touches include milk instead of water and using butter instead of oil and doubling the amount called for. The richness given to the cake because of the butter is amazing.  My go-to cake flavour is vanilla. It’s my personal favourite so I make it a lot.  Chocolate cake has been made on occasion, but I had never before made Red Velvet. Challenge accepted.

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After a few Google searches on the best box-hacks to make Red Velvet and one not-so-successful attempt with using Devil’s Food Cake as my start (it is too chocolate-y to get a good red colour), I found the perfect combo.

Ingredients
1 box of Golden Cake Mix
2 tbsp cocoa
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup buttermilk (I wanted more tang with the flavouring – Buttermilk gave this!)
3 eggs
1 tsp Wilton No-Taste Red Food Paste*

Mix together the box mix and sifted cocoa powder.  Add the wet ingredients and follow the recommended baking times and temperatures set out on the box.

*This is important – NO-TASTE! If it’s not the no-taste, you may end up with a rather bitter and, well, gross, taste to your cake.

I did not try using liquid food colouring as I was concerned it may have also given that bitter aftertaste, and knowing this was for a wedding, I wasn’t leaving anything to chance.

Here is the batter:

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And here is the finished trial cupcake:

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Paired with a simple cream cheese icing, this recipe was a hit. The cake was rich and moist, and the colour was indeed red.  I could have added more colouring for a deeper colour, but I was happy with the result.

As for the final cake, once decorated with fondant and the Vince Neil topper:

 

Knitter’s Frolic 2017

It’s that wonderful time of the year: the grass is getting greener, the flowers are starting to bloom, the temperature is rising, and in Toronto, the knitters are frolicking.  The end of April means the Knitter’s Frolic, an annual event hosted by the Toronto Knitter’s Guild.

This is not my first time frolicking. I’ve attended this event in 2015 and in 2016, but this is the first time where I’ve debated attending. In an effort to be ‘financially responsible’ and making ‘adult decisions,’ I actually thought hard about not attending, but I’m glad my irresponsible (or should I say fun-loving) side won out, not for the things I bought, but for the chance to hang out with friends.

The Frolic is a wonderful event for those who are addicted to all things woolen. Walking around the Japanese Cultural Centre, you know you’re among your people. Overheard phrases include ‘stashes’ and ‘skeins,’ and I giggle to myself every time I hear an ‘knitting-ism.’

I met up with two friends at the Frolic (one of them is the delightful Knitter Nerd) and we had fun looking at all the different offerings from suppliers, and Amy pointed out every time we got ‘Atherley-ed’ (meaning we walked past Kate Atherley, one of the workshop instructors, knitwear designer, and all around cool knitter).  We all left with a little less in our wallets, but I was proud that I stuck to the budget I allowed for myself, as finances were the big reason I was hesitant to attend.

So, the good stuff! What did I purchase? Two skeins came home with me that day, this amazing skein from Dragon Strings – I immediately had to untwist the skein to see the colours and how it was dyed. I also bought myself a skein from Dye-Version, something which is now becoming a Frolic tradition as I have bought from them every year.


What didn’t make it home with me immediately was the skein I bought from Indigodragonfly.  Every year they make a special Frolic colourway and I fell in love. Really, how could I not. But, I was able to order a skein which will arrive right at to my door.

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Image ©Indigodragonfly, from their Facebook Page
All three skeins were from indie dyers, which I love and makes me love my purchases even more. I don’t know yet what they will grow up to be, but in the meantime, I can admire them, waiting for the perfect pattern to come along.

Changing habits and accepting the compliment

I was perusing Pinterest a few weeks ago, as one does, and this meme caught my eye:

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Naturally, it made me laugh because of how accurate it is. I don’t know about you, but this is certainly a habit I’m guilty of. I’m not comfortable merely accepting the compliment with a simple thank you, but I always feel like I have to follow it up with something.

Person: Wow, those are great socks!
Me: Thanks, the yarn is self patterning. It makes it look fancier than it actually is.

Person: Wow, I love that shawl.
Me: Thank you, the yarn is ___________. The colour is lovely.

Person: I really like that hat.
Me: Thanks, the pattern is ___________, you should check it out.

Person: What a great sweater.
Me: Thanks, but I messed up here and here, and I would have done ________ differently.

These are fairly standard responses I know I have given in the past. Why do we do this? A knitted object can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 20 months (or more) to complete. Time is spent choosing the yarn, knitting the object, and finishing it to the specifications. A knitting object is truly a labour of love, and yet I will constantly downplay the work that I have put into it. I’m sure I’m not alone in this habit.  It’s time to change my attitude and accept the compliment. After all, I made the thing. I’m inwardly proud of the thing. Time to accept the love of the thing.

Loving Local Yarn Shops

Over the six plus years I’ve been a knitter, my habits have changed greatly.  Besides the obvious growth in skills and techniques I’ve learned, my speed is greater, I am more fluent in reading patterns, my preferred needles and yarns have changed preference, and where I shop is drastically different from where I first bought a skein of yarn and needles.  There is nothing wrong with supporting a large ‘big box’ craft store ( or BBCS as I’ll be abbreviating), which is where I went when I first decided to give knitting a try – they have affordable supplies and helpful staff.  However, now that I think about it, I cannot remember the last time I purchased supplies from a BBCS, preferring to shop and support Local Yarn Shops (LYS).

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I am quick to sing the praises of LYSs, and rightly so, in my humble opinion. There are so many reasons to love a LYS, and here are mine:

Unique Offerings

Walking through a BBCS, you’ll see the same products. Lots of Red Heart, Lion’s Brand, Patons, and the shop’s own brand. Rows after rows, colour after colour. The same time and time again. Walking into a LYS is almost like a treasure hunt – many LYSs have brands they always carry, and every so often, they will discover a new company or indie dyer and will have new surprises for customers.  There is also no arguing about the quality of the product being offered, that what you can usually find at a LYS is superior to BBCS. There is nothing wrong with the products listed above – good, solid, reliable products they are – but my own preference through they years have turned to favouring other offerings, like Cascade, Berocco, Sweet Georgia, Manos, and more. If you’re looking for diversity and uniqueness is products, you’re best bet is head to a LYS.

Friendly Staff

LYS owners are some of the friendliest people you would have the honour to meet. People who own LYSs are knitters or crafters themselves. They love the craft, they love yarn, and if you’re in a bind, they are there to help. I’m lucky to have four awesome LYSs within 20 minutes of driving, and I’m on first name basis with three of them (I’ll get there with the fourth!). Once you get to know the wonderful staff at a LYS, you become more than a customer – you become part of the crafting community.

Shop Local & Support Local

And speaking about community, when you shop at a LYS, you are supporting a local business and small business owner. You are supporting your neighbour and your community at large. I’m a big fan of small businesses and try to frequent them when I can. Is there anything better than supporting your community, making it a more vibrant place to live?

 

Why do you like shopping at your Local Yarn Shop?