2017 Yarn Challenge

I love my local yarn shops.  I have four in my city and neighbouring towns that I visit with some frequency (much to the chagrin of my bank account). One such neighbouring LYS is Soper Creek Yarns, and every year around this time, they host a yarn challenge.  I talked about this last year when I bought my first kit and participated for the first time. Well it’s back for 2017 and I’m super excited to cast on!

Here’s the yarn:


Berroco Remix Light in three colourways.

I have a pattern picked out, and I’ll be casting on later today. As the Yarn Challenge is a contest – shop visitors vote on their favourite finished objects – and anonymity is key to its success and a big part of the fun, I won’t share my chosen pattern or the finished object until after the contest is over.  For now, check out the pretty yarn and just imagine all the possible things one could knit with it.

Happy knitting!

Hagrid Was A Knitter

I have read the Harry Potter series more times than I can count. I’m always at some point in the series as it’s a series I can pick up and return to at any point. There is something so comforting about a familiar book. Ultimately I know Harry will win, but I follow the heroes along, laugh with them and mourn with them.

Case in point, a few days ago, I finished Deathly Hallow and immediately started Philosopher’s Stone.  Even having read PS countless times, and it is arguably the simplest book in the series, I will still notice little details that I may have skimmed past in previous readings, like this one:

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“People stared more than ever on the train.  Hagrid took up two seats and sat knitting what looked like a canary-yellow circus tent.”

Yes, Hagrid was a knitter.  How this detail escaped me before, I’m not sure, but it jumped out at me this time!

This isn’t the only instance of knitting being mentioned through the series.  Mrs Weasley was infamous for knitting the Weasley jumpers, sweaters gifted to the Weasley children, and Harry also, every Christmas, much to Ron’s chagrin.  In Order of the Phoenix, Hermione was using magic to speed up her knitting of hats in an attempt to free the Hogwarts House Elves, and perhaps my favourite mention of knitting in the Harry Potter series was Dumbledore’s proclamation of his love for knitting patterns in Half-Blood Prince.

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My love for this book series has understandably crept into my knitting.  A few years ago, my co-worker commissioned two House scarfs, and I happy obliged.

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Year 1-2, left, and Year 3-4, right

I used the basic pattern structure of the Year 3-4 scarf to improvise my own Hogwarts House Hand Warmers. Yes, I’m Hufflepuff and Proud!

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As well, I’ve long proclaimed my love for Erica Lueder’s Harry Potter inspired patterns on my blog.  Her Hermione Every Day Socks are well known and often top the ‘Hot Right Now’ search on Ravelry, but I highly encourage you to check out her other patterns, most of which were inspired in one way or another by a Harry Potter character.

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Left to right: Hermione’s Every Day Sock; Weasley Rib; Devil Snare Sock

I have another Erica Lueder pattern on my needles right now, and I’m a few rounds plus the toe away from being finished the pair.  I can’t wait to show pictures of the finished socks.  The pattern was tedious to follow, but my goodness the finished fabric is beautiful. Totally worth it.

Also on my needles is the Time Turner Shawl by Elizabeth Saxton.  Saxton describes the lace as being reminiscent of Hermione’s time turner from Prisoner of Azkaban, and when looking for a pattern to truly highlight my stunning Manos yarn, I knew this was the one.

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Are you a Harry Potter fan? Can you add any Harry Potter inspired patterns to this (working) list?

Tools of the Trade

What do you need when you first start knitting? The simple answer is two needles and yarn.  When I first started this addiction hobby, that’s all I needed. I had a project in mind (a simple cozy for my e-reader), so I bought a ball of Red Heart Super Saver (I know better now!), and two 6mm needles.

Almost six years later, my collection of knitting accoutrements has grown substantially, and there are a number of things I couldn’t do without. In my very humble opinion, these are a few tools every knitter should have.

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Row Counter

For my first project, I was improvising an e-reader cover. I was making a long rectangle which would be sewn together at the sides.  It was simple enough that I knew I would knit it as long as needed and then cast off.  Not all projects are this simple. I would be at a loss for lace patterns or cable patterns without a row counter. Row counters track where you are in your project.  They are especially handy when you have several detailed projects on the go. Didn’t touch that lace shawl for months? No worries! A quick glance at your row counter, and that bad boy is ready for knitting!

The best part: they are cheap! Don’t spend more than a few dollars on a row counter – I think I can get four in a pack from a LYS and it’s less than $10.


Measuring Tape

Again, another inexpensive tool any well stocked knitting bag shouldn’t be without. Many patterns tell you to ‘knit for ## of inches.’ Unless you have an extremely good eye for measurements, your measuring tape will become your knitting BFF.


Needle Cases

Needles, of varying sizes and types, may seem like obvious tools knitters need, so obvious that they don’t need including on this list. What becomes necessary after accumulating these assorted needles is a way to store and organize them. I have three needle cases: a roll for my straights, an expandable file (intended for receipt organization) for my circulars, and I use a pencil case to store my DPNs.


Knitting Bag

Once you’ve collected all the tools, bits, and bobs that will make your knitting life much simpler, you’ll need somewhere to keep it. I love my knitting bag, largely because the message on the front speaks so many truths, but also because it’s big enough to keep all my knitting accessories, plus a few different in-progress projects.  Find something that works for you: want to buy the biggest and best with pockets for everything you have and more? Great! Want to use one of those re-usable canvas bags that very quickly accumulate in a closet somewhere? That’s great too! Organization methods are very personal, just find something that suits what you need it for and ultimately something that makes you happy, because if it’s like my knitting bag, it will get a lot of use.


What knitting tools are your must-haves? 

A Few Finished Objects

Last week, I wrote how I had a major case of start-itis – symptoms of which include being unable to stop casting on new projects, despite how many WIPs a person has on the go. This start-itis isn’t showing signs of being cured, having started three new projects last week.  Seriously, I can’t stop finding new patterns and going through my stash to see what I can use.

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The good thing about so many projects on the go is that I was able to finish three objects last week.  The first were these Cableship socks.  I started them in October as a knit-a-long by KnitPurl Hunter.  The first sock was finished early November, but this second one was put into hibernation until after Christmas knitting was complete.  In the week after Christmas, I struggled my way through Judy’s Magic Cast-on and a few weeks later, I was able to wear the newly finished pair of socks.

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Also finished was a slouchy hat for my dad. Fun story -the wool is 100% Peruvian Alpaca, and we ventured to a local Alpaca farm to by the yarn. My goodness, alpacas must be some of the freaking cutest animals around. When we arrived at the farm, we were greeted by a herd (is that right, herd?) of Border Collies who were obviously working dogs, and we also got a peak at their pigs. They had to be the fattest pigs I’ve ever seen in my life. So that’s the story of they yarn for this hat.  Dad received it yesterday. It fits and he’s happy.

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Finally, on Friday, I bought yarn and cast on a Pussyhat.  Have you heard of this? If not, I HIGHLY recommend heading over to their website and reading more about this movement. In a nutshell, there will be a women’s march on Washington on January 21, and marchers are encouraged to wear these knit hats, the name taken as both a play on on the word pussycat and as reference to how the US President-Elect brags about sexually assaulting women. As stated on their Ravelry page:

The PussyHat Project aims to:

  1. Provide the people of the Women’s March on Washington D.C. a means to make a unique collective visual statement which will help activists be better heard.
  2. Provide people who cannot physically be on the National Mall a way to represent them- selves and support women’s rights.

A Facebook friend of my sister’s asked for a hat to be made, and I happily obliged.  It knit up VERY quickly; I cast on Friday evening and by Sunday I had it finished and ready for my sister to give to the recipient.

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Please visit their website and read more about this initiative.

 

Knit all the projects!

I have a major case of start-itis.  I can’t stop casting on. This is very unusual for me, because as a product knitter, I usually have no more than three projects on the go, determined to see them through to the end. But after the holidays ended, I can’t stop looking at patterns and starting new projects.


Considering all things, I was fairly on top of my holiday knitting this year.  I made three things for three recipients, the first was a sweater for my mother, which was finished early October.  Grandma received a Sontag, and this was finished early November. The knitting crunch hit in late November when I decided to make my Grandad a pair of socks.  I made the Harvest Festival pattern which created this lovely pattern texture to the fabric, but it was certainly more fiddly than a pair of vanilla socks. For just shy of a month, my knitting energy was dedicated exclusively to these socks.  I hit my goal and finished them three days before Christmas.

Perhaps these socks are the reason for my knitting enthusiasm.  Most of December was spent on one pair of socks, so now I’m itching to try new patterns, to use yarn that’s been stashed for months and newly purchased yarn (because it was just so pretty and wanted to come home with me). Despite having six projects actively on the go, I can’t stop thinking of other patterns, looking for the right one to use on my new Manos del Uruguay or my stashed IndigoDragonfly. I also want to make new gloves for me and gloves as a gift (because it’s Canada, and ’tis the season), and I know a few people who are expecting little ones this year and who doesn’t love knitting for babies! Long story short, I want to knit all the things. A few rows here, an odd round there, and sure enough they’ll all get done.

The 2017 Knit List

Happy New Year!! How is it possible that it’s 2017 already? My goodness! This year is going to be a busy one as my work is celebrating an anniversary, and as many of you know, I’m Canadian, and it’s a big year for us here, being the 150th anniversary of Confederation.  It’s hard to think about the year and not associate it with this milestone.  I’m sure 2017 will bring many good memories and celebrations.

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Now that Christmas knitting is complete, my thoughts can turn selfish again and I can start thinking of what I’ve been itching to make. I’ve bought all the needed yarn and purchased the pattern, so I think the first selfish thing I’ll make is Madewell cardigan by Joji Locatelli.  Call me crazy for wanting to make a cardi with fingering weight yarn, but I’ve been in love with this design since I first found it on Ravelry.  The whimsical elbow patches just add to the love of this pattern, and the hard part will be deciding what colours to make them with!

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Madewell by Joji Locatelli; image © Joji Locatelli

I’ve also purchased the materials I need to complete KnitPurl Hunter’s Scoreboard Scarf. This project is planned in my head, I know for what team and what season I’ll be making, but in case this is read by its intended recipient, I won’t say much more than that for now…

In 2016, I completed 6 pairs of socks.  Socks are such an ideal project for carrying around and picking up whenever I have a spare moment.  I’m not going to set a goal for myself for how many pairs I’ll make this year, as I don’t want any self-inflicted pressure on my knitting habits, but I’m sure I’ll crank out a few pairs, and I’m sure one of which will be designed by Erica Lueder.  I’m surprised that I haven’t written yet about how much I love her patterns, their designs and the thought that she puts into them. I’ve knit three and a half pairs of her socks, and I’m sure I’ll be adding to the collection.

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Erica Lueder socks, L-R: Hermione’s Every Day Sock, Weasley Rib, and Devil’s Snare

Also kicking around my Ravelry queue for some time is another historic pattern, Godey’s Woolen Chemisette from 1857. I’d love to knit this pattern and write a corresponding blog post on the history of this article of clothing.  There’s no time deadline for when this chemisette needs to be complete, but it’s been a while since I’ve muddled my way through a historic pattern, and I’d like to make at least one next year.

So between socks, fingering weight cardigans, and a pattern from the 1850s, I’ll have enough to keep me busy in the early part of 2017.

What’s on your knit list for this year?

My Great-Grandmother Was A Knitter

When I first started with my knitting obsession hobby, my mother would watch me work and comment,

“I know you didn’t get this from me. The knitting gene must skip a few generations. You’ve inherited this from Granny.”

My great-grandmother was a knitter. She was a knitting instructor many years ago in England, on top of raising eight children.  One of those kids was my beloved Grandad, and if there’s truth to the stories I’ve heard through the years of his, let’s say rambunctious nature, as a child, then my Granny certainly had her hands full!

Even though she lived on the other side of the Atlantic, my great-grandmother made a few pieces for me when I was a kid, notably my sister and I were adorable in matching sweaters with fruit on the front of them.

After one visit to England in the mid-1990s, my grandparents returned home with a blue toned sweater, saying Granny made it, but it wasn’t the right size for her. I can’t remember how, but the sweater became mine. I’ve had it for 20 years, and on particularly cool days, I break this sweater out and feel comforted not only by its warmth, but also by the skill in each stitch, somehow making me feel connected to the great-grandmother I was lucky enough to meet and with whom I share a passion and a craft.

Me wearing my Granny sweater, with 20 years between pictures.