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.

18119472_1471624576222290_1113788055762371606_n
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:

9e71384afc9ff7bbeabfb4781e21a3b3

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).

10418314_10100913259688940_3654564164643994095_n.jpg

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?

 

The Mixed Wave Cowl, or the ongoing ramblings of how it was made

February 14, 2017

Made my way to LYS and purchased the Yarn Challenge kit. The yarns are lovely: red, taupe and beige. Now comes the hard part, what to make with it.

img_2280

February 15, 2017
4:30pm

Awesome! I’m so glad I found the Mixed Wave Cowl pattern on Ravelry. It’s perfect for this yarn, a fantastic way to truly highlight the three yarns of the Yarn Challenge.  I have the yarn, the needles, the pattern; I’m ready to cast on!

4:45pm

Okay, we’re cast on! Let me just read the pattern… oh… huh. Well, this is… huh. Okay, so it’s not written like other patterns. This designer’s put a lot of thought (and math) in this pattern. I’m impressed. Cool. I can do this… I think…

4:55pm

Gah, so that didn’t go as planned. Here’s a tip, Lisa. Read the whole pattern. Like, all details.  Let the frogging commence.

5:12pm

Frogging complete. Cast on complete. First row knit. Now onto short rows… wait… huh… I still can’t visualize what to do here. I get the general idea – you’re using short rows and alternate colours to create this really interesting and unique striped pattern. That I get. These instructions, though… Maybe it’s just because I’m not comfortable with the wrap and turn method. Yeah that’s it.

5:14pm

I still don’t get it. There are over 100 people who have this in their Ravelry projects. What do their notes say…

5:18pm

So many of these project notes say “Just do it.” “Trust the designer.” “It all makes sense once you get going.” Yeah, I’m not buying it… Maybe this will be clearer after dinner… mmm… food…

6:03pm

Just do it, huh… okay, here goes… Wrap and turn abandoned, going with German Short Row method instead, a tried, tested and understood method. Maybe that will help…

7:54pm

Well whaddya know? Those Ravelers and the designer were right… just do it. I’m doing it, and a few repeats in and it looks like it’s supposed to look! Maybe all that math the designer did actually makes sense… almost foiled by math once again, but not this time!

February 17, 2017

A day off work and four hour car ride = lots of knitting time. Mixed Wave Cowl, let’s do this. I’m actually feeling so confident with this pattern, a pattern that only a few short days ago I had no faith in, that I’m now able to work it without referring to the written directions. Lesson learned: read all instructions. Trust the designer. Trust other Ravelers.

February 20, 2017

Mixed Wave Cowl grows, both in length and in my overall love for it.

img_2325
March 6, 2017

And grows…

img_2346

March 7, 2017

4:40pm

Couch, knitting, Law and Order. I see you, Mixed Wave Cowl.

6:35pm

Break out the measuring tape. 55cm! I’m at the right place in my pattern to justify casting off. It is 5cm shorter than the recommended length but it’ll stretch.

6:42pm

Stupid provisional cast on. Grumble grumble.

7:55pm

So this happened:

img_2355
Why yes, that is the cowl, grafted, ends woven, and blocking!

I’m sorry I ever doubted you, designer. The initial frustrations I felt three weeks ago was worth pushing through to get this as the final result.

March 8, 2017

4:34pm

Just trying it on for good measure. Yup, still in love with the final result. So much cowl love.

Really, Truly, Swatching

The start of a new project is always fun. You get to choose the perfect pattern, you find the right yarn, and you cast on, but before you do that, every good knitter knows you should knit your gauge swatch.

Hands up, who does this faithfully before starting any project. I’m certainly not raising any hands on this one…

Knitting a gauge swatch may be one of my least favourite parts of any project, and I’ve been known to knit a ‘cheaters swatch’ where I cast on some stitches, knit a few rows, then use my ruler and see how close I am. Bad knitter. Bad.

The purpose of knitting the (dreaded) gauge swatch is to see how your knitting measures up to what is recommended for the project.  If the designer says 32 sts and 46 rows equals 4” on 3mm needles and your swatch isn’t close to this, then you’re finished object may not resemble what the pattern says it will.  Gauge is a very important part of any project, as tedious as I may personally find it.

I’m not going to outline the steps to knitting a gauge swatch because I won’t be able to do as good of a job as the fine folks over at Knitty did. This article is a fantastic breakdown of Swatching 101 – how to swatch, why swatching, and everything else in between.


I was feeling like a top-notch knitter last night when I grabbed the yarn I needed to make my Madewell sweater and I knit a proper gauge swatch.  I knit the required stitches for the requiored amount of rows; I cast off, washed and blocked the swatch.  I think I deserve a gold sticker or something.  Is that a thing? Stickers as rewards for good knitting habits?

Do you knit your gauge swatch faithfully every time? Do you knit what I call a cheater’s swatch (by knitting only for a few rows until you’ve got a good enough picture), or do you take caution to the wind and start without knitting a gauge swatch?

Garterlac Baby Blanket

I love entrelac.  One of my first posts on this humble little blog was all about my love for this technique. It may SEEM daunting, challenging even, but oh, it’s not. The small squares knit up fairly quickly making it a very satisfying technique because you feel like you’re making quick progress. Long story short, entrelac is fun. Give it a try.

A number of months ago, I was lurking on the Ravelry forums, and I added my two cents* regarding making a ‘garterlac’ baby blanket.  I put my needles to work with making such a blanket in early 2015. I didn’t really re-invent any wheels when I improvised this project, but someone encouraged me to write the pattern out, so here is my pattern.  Please note, it has NOT been test knit or edited or anything else fancy. These are my ramblings of a pattern I ad-libbed two years ago.

Credit must be passed along to Criminy Jickets as I followed his basic garterlac construction from his Garterlac Dishcloth, a wonderful intro to the Entrelac technique, and one can never have too many dishcloths. When I’ve used the wording from the Garterlac Dishcloth, it is denoted with the text in italics.

Untitledx

Materials
Bernat Baby Blanket, 10 skeins (or 800m of super bulky yarn)
Size 9mm needles (US 13) – I used a circular needle of 80cm because the blanket gets BIG

Finished measurements
(approx): 4’ x 3’

Construction
The construction of this blanket consists of:

(1) Bottom row of triangles (blue yarn)
(2) Row of two side triangles and nine middle squares (white yarn)
(3) Row of 10 squares (blue yarn)
(4) Top row of triangles (blue yarn)

And in between (1) and (4) is a varying number of (2) and (3) repeated, ending with a (2)

 

20150120_102149_medium2f.jpg

On my example, photo above, I repeated row (2) SEVEN times, and I repeated row (3) SIX times.

My example resulted in the cast on and cast off edges being the sides. Once you understand the basic construction of entrelac, you can adjust this structure for your purposes (i.e., if you cast on a smaller amount of stitches, you could work more rows (2) and (3) and essentially get a blanket with the same dimensions).

Each square is made with 8 stitches being worked.

Directions:
Cast on 80 stitches

Row (1)

Bottom Triangle:
K 1, turn, K 1, turn.
K 2, turn, K 2, turn.
K 3, turn, K 3, turn.
K 4, turn, K 4, turn.
K 5, turn, K 5, turn.
K 6, turn, K 6, turn.
K 7, turn, K 7, turn.
K 8, do not turn

Repeat the steps for ‘Bottom Triangle’ 9 more times (10 triangles created total). Turn.

Row (2)

Increasing Side Triangle:
K 1, turn, K-FB, turn.
K 1, SKP, turn, K-FB, K 1, turn.
K 2, SKP, turn, K 1, K-FB, K 1, turn.
K 3, SKP, turn, K 2, K-FB, K 1, turn.
K 4, SKP, turn, K 3, K-FB, K 1, turn.
K 5, SKP, turn, K 4, K-FB, K 1, turn.
K 6, SKP, turn, K 5, K-FB, K 1, turn.
K 7, SKP, do not turn.

You will now knit 9 squares

Square directions:
Pick up 8 stitches along the side of the previous row, turn. 
* K 8, turn, K 7, SKP, turn. *
Repeat between the *s another seven times, but do not turn at the end of the eighth repeat.

Decreasing Side Triangle:
Pick up 8 stitches along the side of the previous row, turn, K 8, turn.
K 6, K2tog, turn, K 7, turn.
K 5, K2tog, turn, K 6, turn.
K 4, K2tog, turn, K 5, turn.
K 3, K2tog, turn, K 4, turn.
K 2, K2tog, turn, K 3, turn.
K 1, K2tog, turn, K 2, turn.
K2tog, turn.

You are left with one stitch on the left hand needle.

Row (3)

Transfer the one stitch to the right-hand needle. Pick up a further 7 stitches down the side of the previous row so you have 8 stitches in total, turn, and continue with the directions for Square.  Make 10 squares.

Repeat Row (2) SEVEN times and Row (3) SIX times, or until you’ve reached your desired width, ending with a Row (2)

Row (4)

Top Triangle:
Pick up 7 stitches along the side of the previous row, turn.
K 6, K2tog, turn, K 6, SKP, turn.
K 5, K2tog, turn, K 5, SKP, turn.
K 4, K2tog, turn, K 4, SKP, turn.
K 3, K2tog, turn, K 3, SKP, turn.
K 2, K2tog, turn, K 2, SKP, turn.
K 1, K2tog, turn, K 1, SKP, turn.
K2tog, turn, SKP. K 1 and pass the second stitch on the right-hand needle over the first

Repeat the directions for Top Triangle 9 more times, until all stitches have been bound off.

Weave in ends.

Block if appropriate for the yarn.


*hmmm… we no longer have pennies in Canada that I could have contributed…. I added my five cent piece, then?

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!