Recently Finished Objects – A Bragging Post

Really, this post is simply to show off pretty yarns.

Earlier, I wrote about working on a baby blanket for a friend who is expecting.  I finished it well before my deadline of the shower, and I was very happy with the final project.  It is warm, soft, squishy, albeit a little heavy, but perfect to keep a baby boy all snuggled up.

Garterlac Baby Blanket, finished January 2015
Garterlac Baby Blanket, finished January 2015

On my needles since early December, I bought the yarn and pattern from one of my favourite local yarn shops, Soper Creek Yarn in beautiful downtown Bowmanville.  I worked on it on and off during those two months, and I finally finished it last Sunday!  The colours really make this simple shrug as lovely as it is.  I made it with James C. Brett Marble Chunky in the MC6 colourway.

Simple Shrug
Simple Shrug

I must have been in a big knitting mood that Sunday, because I also finished the yoga socks I was making for my boss!  I used the Paton’s Yoga Sock pattern, which had a lovely texture to it.  When she asked me to make them, I asked my boss what colour she would like them in, and as a response I received an “oh, you know…”  This was a very stressful answer!  Ultimately, when I saw the colours in Schachenmayr Regia North Pole Color, I knew the deep blues and purples would be perfect!  I’ll likely make this pattern again when I make myself a pair!

Yoga Socks
Yoga Socks

The final project I’ll share again has a tie to Soper Creek Yarn.  I bought the yarn to make the shrug during Bowmanville’s Moonlight Madness festival.  It’s one of my favourite local events to attend.  The town has its tree lighting, and the main street is closed to traffic allowing pedestrians and shoppers to leisurely enjoy the downtown, ideally with a hot drink in hand.  That evening, I was able to get a few Christmas gifts purchased while purchasing a few goodies for myself, like the yarn!  They had a raffle that evening, and I was able to put my name in the draw! Imagine my surprise when I received a call the following week, telling me that I won a door prize!  The prize was four balls of Schachenmayr original Merino Extrafine 85 and a pattern to make with the yarn!  I finished the Wrist Warmers in early January and they are soft and grey and they make me happy.

Cabled, cozy wrist warmers
Cabled, cozy wrist warmers

I’ve finally started my Midwinter Cardigan this weekend, how appropriate that I began this aptly named piece in the middle of Winter.  Will stay updated on the status of this piece I’ve been waiting to cast on for months now!

Advertisements

The Calming Side of Knitting

My go to accessory is my knitting bag.  Simple, made of canvas, it is my constant companion, travelling with me to work, my knitting circle, coffee shops; the simple fact of knowing that it is in my car makes me happy.

When I brought it home, my new purchase a few months back, my father looked slightly concerned when he saw the, ahem, controversial message on the bag.

“But you don’t kill people” he scoffed.

“That’s because I knit” I replied.

My beloved knitting accessory
My beloved knitting accessory

Yes, it is certainly an overstatement, but the core of the message is true: knitting keeps me sane.

This is not a novel idea.  There are countless articles about the knitting being a therapeutic art form.  I started knitting 4 years ago simply to learn the craft.  A year later, I went through a tough break up, and knitting, a new-ish activity to me then, gave me something other than the horribleness to focus on.

It is reassuring to know that a series of knits and purls can create something beautiful.  Typically speaking, if you follow a pattern, you know what the outcome will be.  That’s it, just a series of knits and purls.  If I’m feeling nervous about something, I pick up my needles. Anxious? I know that by knitting a few rows, it will help to relax me.  Is it knowing that I am creating? Is it because I have something else to focus my energy on? Is it knowing what the eventual outcome will be? Is it simply that yarn is pretty, and squishy, and assuring?  The answer is all of this and more.  It is hard to truly put my finger on why I love knitting so much, and maybe it is hard because there are so many reasons. The fact that knitting is calming and comforting is just one of them.

Because, Really, Who Likes Cold Toes?

Since knitting my first pair of slippers, I’m hooked (and please pardon the unintentional crochet pun!).  There is nothing quite as comforting as warm toes inside thick, squishy handmade slippers.

Since moving back with my parents a few years ago due to changes in my personal life (a long story not to be told today), I have managed to wear through at least 3 pairs.  They have hardwood/laminate throughout, and slippers are a lovely comfort. The ball of the foot is the first to go, and after that I find I must say goodbye to these beloved accessories.

Warm and squishy slippers
Warm and squishy slippers

My go to pattern is Aunt Maggie’s Slippers, knit with two strands.  My first pair was made with only one strand, and I found they just don’t have the sturdiness that comes from two strands.  I have since made 6 pairs – four for myself, and two for family.  What has been the most fun for me with this pattern are the colours, trying to decide which two colours will work well together! Blue/tan, pink/grey, purple/grey, black/black and white variegated, the combination possibilities are endless!

I think my knitting bag says it all
I think my knitting bag says it all

I’ve had to remake the beloved slippers a week or so ago after wearing through yet another pair.  This pattern is knit flat, which means sewing up the toe and heel.  It’s around this point that my laziness and ability to grumble kicks in, and so, even though I’ve JUST made a pair, I began to cast on another pair.  This time, I started knitting flat, but once it measured 4″, I switched to DNPs, so that the toe will be knit as one, therefore no sewing! The heel still needs seeming, but I’m looking at the toes as being a victory.

 

I’ve recently learned that in Quebec, it is a custom to have a basket of slippers by the front door, encouraging guests to remove their outer shoes (not many Canadians wear shoes inside anyways), and to wear slippers to keep your feet warm and cozy.  There is something so quaint and charming about this idea.  Once I buy my very own home, which is the plan once one is available in my price range, I will be adopting this idea and welcoming guests with slippers to warm their feet because, really, who likes having cold toes?

Works in Progress, and Works to Come

I am sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I am not a patient person, which is why my favourite kinds to projects to work on are usually quick with instant satisfaction.  But, inevitably, there comes along a project or two that take longer to complete.  That is what I am working on right now, two projects in particular that are not your average quicky project.

The first project I started in December, and at this point, I’m only about half done.  It is a pattern I purchased from one of my favourite LYS, and I know that it will look awesome once it’s finished, but the pattern is all ribbing. Inches and inches of ribbing.  I’m making it with a lovely colourway from James C. Brett’s Marble Chunky, so the only thing that is quieting my impatience is, well, looking at the pretty colours.  It’s not necessarily a large project, and it transports well, so I’ve found it to be a great project to take along to my knitting night on Wednesdays. Because the pattern is simple, I don’t have to concentrate on the knitting as much, and I’m able to keep up with the engaging conversations.

wpid-2015-01-18-21.11.40.png.png
My simple shrug

 

My other larger project is not quite as transportable.  In fact, it has some weight to it.  This project is an garterlac baby blanket for my sister’s friend, who is having her baby in March.  Over the holidays, we all got together, and my mum and sister so generously suggested that a blanket would be a lovely shower gift.  Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled to be making a gift for her baby, but the blanket was suggested with less than a month until the shower.  So in early January, mum and I went and bought numerous balls of Bernat Baby Blanket yarn, and I proceeded to start this blanket.  What has been great is knowing I have a definite completion date I have to hit, and the yarn is bulky so it’s knitting up fairly quickly.  However, all other projects have taken a back seat to this blanket.  And, I must say it has been lovely knitting this blanket because as I knit along, the project rests in my lap and keeps me rather warm!

Garterlac Baby Blanket - WIP
Garterlac Baby Blanket – WIP

Because these two projects have been monopolizing my time, I haven’t wanted to start new projects.  Once the blanket is finished, I will begin work on the projects in my queue.  There is always the excitment that comes from starting a new project, and I honestly can’t wait to *gasp* BUY THE YARN!

What do I have on the horizon?

  • My fantastic boss has asked for a pair of yoga socks.  Yay sock yarn!  For this, I’ve got my eye on the Yarnspirations pattern.
  • My dad has asked for a ‘Maple Leaf Hat,’ and I quote, “because, you know, the Canadian 150th anniversary is coming up in two years, and I want to be prepared.”  Thanks to a Ravelry search, I’m likely going to make a Maple Leaf Toque from A Fresh Yarn, but with greys, not white and black, and I’m toying with the idea of omitting the rolled brim and instead doing a simple ribbed bottom with ear flaps.  My dad would totally rock some ear flaps.
  • Finally, my mum has put the bug in my ear that she liked Through the Woods hood from KnitPicks.

Eventually, I’ll cast on my Midwinter Cardigan.  Pattern is purchased, yarn is bought… the only thing I need is more time!

So You’ve Knit the Doctor Who Scarf… Now What?

I before I cast on the Fourth Doctor’s Scarf for myself, I spent a lot of time thinking about the yarn.  If I was going to make the project, I was going to do it right!  The yarn and colour suggestions on doctorwhoscarf.com was very helpful for this, and over a week or so, I bought the seven colours that comprise the scarf.  I was lucky that I was able to get the majority from my local yarn shops and from Michaels, but I had to order the green colour online, and the red colour, Paprika from Red Heart, had been discontinued, but an outlet in Toronto had ONE ball left, so I drove 50 kilometres into the City to buy this yarn.  This was the only colour where I only bought one ball; the rest of the six colours, I purchased two balls, lest I run short!  I made my scarf, I love my scarf, but now… well, my stash now has a rather Whovian hue to it! I think I overbought.  I was left with the query of what to do with the remainder of the yarn.  Wristwarmers to the rescue!

My 'They're Warmer on the Inside' fingerless  gloves.  They live up to their name!
My ‘They’re Warmer on the Inside’ fingerless gloves. They live up to their name!

The logical part of my brain shouldn’t love fingerless gloves as much as I do.  After all, aren’t gloves supposed to keep your fingers warm, and fingerless gloves kinda defeat that purpose.  Despite this, I love fingerless gloves.  I have a few pairs of wristwarmers that I’ve made, and I think they are ideal for the Spring and Fall when it’s just starting to get cold, but not so cold that you’re cursing the winter Gods.  I don’t know what Elsa was singing about in Frozen, because the cold certainly bothers me!

Ultimately, my ‘They’re Warmer on the Inside’ fingerless gloves were a quick project and they keep my wrists rather toasty.  It’s also a very subtle Who reference: a fan will recognize the colour pattern and will thus recognize me for the geek that I am, and I’m okay with that.  It was a good way to use up a FRACTION of my now stashed scarf yarn, but perhaps my only complaint were all the ends that needed weaving in.  There were 14 colour changes, which resulted in, well, a lot of ends.

The project was largely improvised by me, but I used Kate Atherley’s Alcazar Mittens as my guide, and I followed a section of the Doctor Who Scarf colour pattern, but quartered it (if it said to knit 12 rows, I only knit 3).

Here’s what I did:

Worsted weight yarn, size 7 DPNs

Gauge = 5sts/inch

Cast on 32 stitches

rows 1-19: K1, P1, rep
row 20: knit
row 21: K18, place marker (pm), K1, pm, K13
row 22: K to marker, Make 1 Right (M1R), K to marker, Make 1 Left (M1L), knit to end
rows 23-24: knit
repeat rows 22-24 until 13 sts are between markers (should be row 39)
row 40: k to marker, slip 13 sts onto holder, make 1 over the gap, k to end
rows 41-60: knit
rows 61-64: K1, P1, rep

cast off in pattern

Thumb:
return 13 sts to needles, pick up st in thumb crook and join in the round (14 sts)
Knit 9 rows plain
rows 10-11: K1, P1, rep

cast off in pattern

Finish: weave in your ends (there’s a lot of them!), tighten any holes near yarn joins

 

Above is how the glove is constructed.  Here is the colour work:

Rows 1-3: beige
Rows 4-5: purple
Rows 6-10: brown
Rows 11-12: yellow
Rows 13-15: grey
Rows 16-19: red
Rows 20-33: green
Rows 34-37: yellow
Rows 38-39: beige
Rows 40-42: purple
Rows 43-44: red
Rows 45-50: grey
Rows 51-53: brown
Rows 54-64: beige

Thumb:
Rows 1-3: purple
Rows 4-5: red
Rows 6-11: grey

Swift Action

My father is pretty amazing.  For Christmas this year, he made me a swift.

Months back, while getting frustrated winding hanks of Berroco Modern Cotton, I mentioned that a swift, or a yarn weasel, would be super helpful with this task.  Dad asked what I was referring to, and I quickly sketched a weasel, something that is simple (very simple if I was able to sketch it!), but effective.  Little did I know, he kept the sketch.

Fast forward to a month or so before Christmas, and my parents asked what I would like, and I said that I would love to receive a ball winder.  I guess this triggered my dad’s memory, and he started doing research on winders, and how one might make a swift.  He spent afternoons at my grandparent’s and uncle’s, working on the swift, cutting and drilling.  He even researched what kind of finish, if any, it should have (the pegs were ultimately left unfinished to prevent any transfer to the yarn).

When I received my gifts on Christmas morning, I was astonished to find out that the professional looking puzzle pieces fit together to become a swift, and that my dad made it himself.  I honestly thought that they bought it.  I tried it out a few days later after a trip to my LYS, and the swift works like a dream.

There is a sense of satisfaction that comes from winding yarn by hand, but the efficiency that the swift provides and the uniformity that comes from a wound yarn ‘cake’, they are unrivaled.

Many, many thanks to my father for his innate awesomeness, for his creativity, and for this wonderful gift that I will treasure for years and years.

Before winding
Before winding
The swift and winder in action!
The swift and winder in action!
The finished, wound ball.
The finished, wound ball.

The Year That Was 2014

As the holiday season draws to an end and the new year approaches ever so quickly, all I can think is that 2014 was an amazing year for me, and I have so much to be thankful and grateful for.  So much happened over these 365 days, many ups and a few downs.

The year started with the celebration of my beloved grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary.  Sixty years.  It was an amazing milestone, and I consider myself so very, very lucky to have grandparents who a) have reached this milestone to celebrate, and b) are in good health, and c) love each other every day. My grandparents are genuinely two of my favourite people in this entire world.  Celebrating this milestone was amazing.

Later on in January, I did something, well, adventurous… I thought I would try my hand at roller derby. Side note to this story – I’m klutzy.  Very klutzy.  Long story short, my first night, I fell and spent over 3 hours in emerg and had a pink cast for over 3 weeks.  My illustrious roller derby career was over before it began. The worst part of this was that cast was set in a way that made holding knitting needles near impossible. Desperate to hold yarn, I took up crochet.  Hats off to those who crochet because I cannot stand it.  I was happy to get the cast off and get needles back in my hands!

My pink cast.  My solace when my arm was injured was that the cast was pink.
My pink cast. My solace when my arm was injured was that the cast was pink.

This was apparently the year that I met famous people!  As I posted about last week, I met members of the Barenaked Ladies after their show in December in Toronto and they signed an album of mine in April. I had my picture taken with Nathan Fillion at Fan Expo (he liked the Cunning Cap I made – squee!!), and through a series at the Toronto Library, I met author Diana Gabaldon, politician Justin Trudeau, and singer Alan Doyle!  My boss told me a story, and the gist of which is if you want to meet someone, you need to make it happen, and that’s what I did this year.  I made it happen.

Me, Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea, Katie and BFF Ash
Me, Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea, Katie and BFF Ash – his book is amazing, by the way

I have amazing friends in my life.  I have known my best friend since high school.  It’s not that we’ve ever fallen out, but this year, it’s as if we’ve rediscovered our silly side, and we’ve been closer this year than ever, and for that I’m so grateful.

Ash and I being silly on a Summer day
Ash and I being silly on a Summer day

I travelled to Quebec City in the Fall, and it was such a fantastic trip.  The history, the museums, the architecture, the food.  I fell in love with the oldest city in our country and with la belle province.

Awkward selfie in Quebec City - the lower city is in the background
Awkward selfie in Quebec City – the lower city is in the background

It has also been a busy year knitting wise.  I’m always trying new patterns and techniques, and this year I’ve made a few larger projects.  A new yarn shop opened up in my city, and I’ve met new, wonderful people by going to the knitting circle hosted there.  It has become my Wednesday night staple, and easily it is the highlight of my week.

Here is a sampling of some of my finished projects from the year.

The Firefly Cunning Cap I made for my dear work friend. This was the hat that Nathan Fillion said he liked!
The Firefly Cunning Cap I made for my dear work friend. This was the hat that Nathan Fillion said he liked!
Spats - they make me feel fancy
Spats – they make me feel fancy
A TARDIS ereader cover.
A TARDIS ereader cover.
A New England Patriots hat I  made for my brother for Christmas
A New England Patriots hat I made for my brother for Christmas
My Chateau shawl. My grandma gave me a gift certificate to my LYS for my birthday, and I made this lovely slouchy sweater  with it
My Chateau shawl. My grandma gave me a gift certificate to my LYS for my birthday, and I made this lovely slouchy sweater with it