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.

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?

 

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.

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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.

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March 6, 2017

And grows…

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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:

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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.

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!

Knitting the Distance

A few weeks ago, while idling spending time on Ravelry, I noticed at the bottom of my projects tab, Ravelry thoughtfully tracks how many metres I’ve knit, based on the skeins I’ve entered into my projects.  On this particular day, my ‘Metres in Projects’ tallied 15,900m (15.9km or 9.88mi). If I took all the yarn that was used for those 41 projects, it would stretch almost 16 kilometres. This got me thinking. 16 kilometres. How far is that really?

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The distance between the Jane TTC station and Main Street TTC Station is just over 15km.

So is the distance from Union Station to Finch Station.

From Yankee Stadium to Battery Park is almost 16 kilometres as the crow flies.

Also as the crow flies, it would take less than 15 kilometres to get from Calgary International Airport to Canada Olympic Park.

It takes less than 7 kilometres to get from Mandalay Bay to the Stratsophere Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip; add another 3 kilometres or so to get to Downtown Las Vegas and Freemont Street.

The length of the Victoria Line on the London Underground is 21km – still more knitting to go to reach that distance…

However, Line 1 of the Paris Metro is 16.6km, and along that line are stops for Champs-Élysées – Clemenceau, Palais Royal and the Lourve, and the Bastille.

There is 1635 metres in my dad’s sweater alone. For you math savvy folks, those familiar with metric to imperial, one mile is 1610m. There is JUST OVER ONE MILE of yarn in my dad’s sweater. Whoa.

When people say that knitting is a labour of love, it really is. There is a great deal of time finding the right pattern, selecting the perfect yarn, and then knitting that perfect yarn. Not all projects clock in at over a mile, but when you start putting this length of yarn into perspective, it’s an impressive feat to have knit this far, and this number just keeps growing.

Time Flies When You’re…

It is hard to believe that this is the last week of August! It really feels like 2016 is flying by!

The last time I posted, I was starting my week’s holidays.  I camped in Goderich in a lovely Provincial Park on the shores of Lake Huron.  It would have been a lovely few days away, that is, if Mother Nature didn’t save a summer’s worth of rain for when I was in a tent. Seriously, Tuesday was a hard day. Sleep wasn’t had due to the rain, and by the wee morning hours, my tent was wet, my sleeping bag was wet, and so were my pillow and clothes. I was miserable. My plan was to spend my camping days leisurely passing the time on a beach. The best laid plans of mice and men… All I can say is thank goodness Provincial Parks have clothes driers. Best $2 I’ve ever spent.

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Despite the rain, I had a lovely set-up for a few days.

The rain didn’t stop the reading. I managed to read two books, Lawrence Hill’s The Illegal, and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s All Wound Up (she’s also very well known as the Yarn Harlot. She’s amazing), and I finished reading Us by David Nicholls, one that I had been reading intermittently since January.  Granted, the reading took place either in my dry car, or sitting on a camp chair under an umbrella, but I was able to blissfully lose myself in a good story.

While in Goderich, I (surprise, surprise) visited a yarn shop.  Signature Books and Crafts is located just off Goderich’s historic Courthouse Square.  It had a good selection of yarns, conveniently organized by weight, and the owner who helped me was friendly and good to chat with.  There was another lady in the shop, as I had arrived after a knitting circle had finished, and together the three of us ‘oohed and aahed’ at this skein I bought:

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Sheep Uy Colors, 100% Merino Wool, Vikings colourway

And I bought two balls of this dusty rose colour for my Travel Afghan.

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Diamond Luxury Collectiom, Fine Merino Superwash DK

My shopping was cut short due to ominous black clouds that did, indeed, pour down that Wednesday afternoon.  Apparently, Mother Nature felt she didn’t get it all out of her system the day before. It was perfect timing, actually, as I met with my university roommate and had a lovely time catching up and eating yummy Chinese food!

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Right before the downpour

While my mini-getaway plans may not have gone off as hoped, I still had a good few day, a nice chance to escape and recharge.

The Things I’ve Learned

I’ve been knitting for over five years.  In that time, I’ve made countless dishcloths, about a dozen pairs of socks, a few sweaters, scarves, mitts, hats, and so much more. Knitters are some of the best people I’ve met who are always helpful and quick to offer advice, and today, I’m going to do the same. These are five things I have learned in over five years of being a knitter.

5 things

1) YOU can do it.

Yes, you! Knitting is a simple activity, making a fabric out of loops. Many, many loops. My friend, who happens to blog over at Keep Calm, Knit On once said that every project, any knitted item ever produced, is made from knits and purls. That’s it. If you know the knit stitch, and if you know how to purl, there isn’t any pattern you can do.

When I first learned to knit, the first night, I was so frustrated, unable to truly wrap my head around this new thing I was trying. I posted to Facebook about these frustrations, and many were quick to offer support and words of encouragement. If I ever meet someone who is just starting out, I offer them the same advise that my friends did to me. Keep at it. You can do it.

2) Have patience.

This is somewhat of an ongoing self-improvement thing for me. Patience is not a strong suit. I’ve had to learn patience with knitting. No, I will not make a sock in an evening. It will take time for that gorgeous lace shawl to come together. Having to tink or rip back is even more time consuming, so best to pay attention in the first place. You’re going to make mistakes, especially if you’re trying something new, but mistakes are how you learn. That sweater you’re making for your father might be one of the largest projects you’ve ever made and will take months to complete with so many cables that you never want to see a cabled project ever again, but oh will the end result be worth it! (And I wasn’t really serious about the cables. I love them and will continue to make projects with cables and twists, even though they are time consuming!)

Patience is a knitter’s best friend.

3) Join a knitting circle.

Speaking of friends, if you’ve never been to a knitting circle, I would HIGHLY recommend doing so. I’ve met wonderful people through a local knit circle and I’m so glad that one night, I put myself outside of my comfort zone and tried something new.

4) Splurge on the good stuff.

Learn what makes a yarn ‘good.’ It has taken me quite some time to learn the difference between good yarn and good yarn, but what a difference! You’ll learn to understand fibre content, weight and gauge, and what brands you like and more importantly, what you don’t. Some of the good stuff might cost a little more, but I can certainly notice a difference when I see the end result. An adequate yarn does an adequate job. A good yarn take a finished object to the next level.

The same can be said about needles. I have several adequate anodized aluminum needles sitting in my knitting bag, but time and time again, I reach for my lovely Knitter’s Pride wood needles. They (easily) cost double what the cheep metal ones did, but they get used time and time again. It’s worth the investment in your tools.

5) Try something new.

You may be the best sock knitter ever. You may knit shawls and shawls and shawls, and this makes you happy. Maybe sweaters are your raison d’etre, and you can set in sleeves like it’s your job. This is fantastic. It really is.But every so often try something new. Try a technique you haven’t before. Pick up a new type of project. Challenge yourself, for it is through challenges that you’re able to grow and become the best knitter you can be. You tried something new the first time you picked up a set of needles and yarn, and look how far you’ve come.