Mrs. Weasley Must Have A Spell For Knitting…

…after all, she did knit anywhere between 5-10 jumpers as Christmas presents!

A spell for knitting would be lovely for projects like scarves, long and repetitive projects.  Please don’t get me wrong, I love them, and I love seeing a scarf take shape, but impatient me always wants projects like this to knit up faster!

A few weeks back, I cast on a Gryffindor scarf; the pattern is from Alison Hansel’s Charmed Knits, which really is a lovely book filled with lots of sweaters and projects inspired by either the Harry Potter movies or the magical books they are based on.  The book has two patterns for scarfs, a simple block stripe pattern seen in Philosopher’s Stone, and thin stripe pattern as seen in Prisoner of Azkaban.  I am making one of each for my dear friend’s children, in Gryffindor colours.  I started the Year 3-4 scarf first, and it’s slowly growing in length.  These scarves will be the focus of my knitting for some time now, and I know the perfect thing to read while knitting them

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Perfect chance to re-read for the 394th time!
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Midwinter Project

My Midwinter Cardigan is almost complete.  It’s in that stage where it’s so close, but there’s still enough knitting left to keep me busy.  One sleeve.  That’s all.  It’s testing my patience because I want more than anything is to set in the sleeves and wear it, but… one sleeve.

Wet blocking my midwinter cardigan
Wet blocking my midwinter cardigan

Last night, I blocked the body and the one finished sleeve, and I’m working on getting that sleeve finished.  My goal is to be wearing this cardigan by the weekend, and with how cold it has been in southern Ontario, having a warm sweater to wear will be delightful.

I have loved everything about this project, from the bulky yarn it called for, making it a quick knit (I used 7 hanks of Berroco Vintage Chunky), to the cabling down the front, which made knitting long rows more interesting.  I managed to get gauge with using 7.5mm needles, a somewhat awkward size.  To make the sleeves, knit in the round, I tried my hand at the Magic Loop for the first time.  It took me a while to get used to this new-to-me technique, and it also was an adjustment to not get ladders where the stitches were divided; ultimately I got used to this method and sleeve number two is knitting up like a dream.

Finally, I love that the yarn I bought for this project was the first yarn I wound on the swift my father made for me.  I bought the yarn a) for this project, and b) so that I could use my new knitting toy, hand made by my amazing father.  This cardigan will always remind me of that beloved Christmas gift.

Now excuse me while I continue to work on this sleeve…

Sleeve, slowing approaching completion!
Sleeve, slowing approaching completion!

Yarn and the City

I love living close to a big city.  In just over an hour’s time, I can travel from my home town to Toronto, and while sitting on the train, I make the trip and don’t even break a sweat.  I happily use the time to keep my fingers busy, and socks make the best travel project!  I began a very simple sock pattern using yarn I bought months back, Bernat Sox yarn in a fun Desert Storm colourway – it’s khakis, greens and browns and knitting up in a camouflage-esque pattern.  When I stashed this yarn, I always knew it would end up being socks.

While in TO, I was able to visit two yarn shops.  The first was The Knit Cafe on Roncesvalles.  My sister discovered this shop in her neighbourhood a few months back, and she didn’t wait to text me to say ‘you need to come visit and check out this shop!’  Well, I finally checked it out on Saturday, and it was a lovely shop with very friendly staff and an interesting selection of yarn.  I was very excited to leave the shop with new needles (I have a thing for knitting needles… I just love them and adding to my collection), and two hanks of sock yarn from Turtlepurl Yarns, an ‘indie’ Canadian yarn dyer.  The yarn is their Striped Turtle Toes, and when they are complete, they will be two identically striped socks.  This makes me happy.  They are already wound – any excuse really to use my swift – and they are ready for casting on whenever I am ready for them.

Turtlepurl Yarns, Mystic Topaz Striped Turtle Toes Yarn
Turtlepurl Yarns, Mystic Topaz Striped Turtle Toes Yarn

The other shop I visited was Romni Wools on Queen West.  I once saw this places described as ‘an Aladdin’s cave for knitters,’ and whoever came up with this apt description wasn’t wrong!  A huge shop with great selection, rows and rows of yarn.

After I left Romni, without making a purchase (this time), I’ve realized that I have a hard time buying yarn for the sake of buying it.  I have a hard time justifying buying yarn unless I know that I can use it for something.  Sock yarn is one exception, because it has an obvious project that can be completed with it.  However, buying the odd ball or two, or more even, just to buy it, I just can’t do it.  So I left Romni without making a purchase, but the next time I go back, I’ll have a project in mind and I’ll find the perfect yarn there.  Really, half the fun is in the discovery.

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!

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.

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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!