The Hamilton Fibre Forge

The first fibre festival of 2023 kicked off in Hamilton, ON this weekend, and my cousin and I were there, masked up, and ready to explore!

Honest moment, I was more than a little overwhelmed at the event, but this, I recognize, is very much a ‘me’ problem. I’ve spent the last three years actively doing EVERYTHING possible to avoid COVID, including avoiding spaces with a lot of people. This has been three years of habits, ones that aren’t going to break with a morning at a fibre event.

Despite my moments of panic, it was a lovely day. The drive took over an hour to get there, and we spent more time than I wish we did trying to find parking. Thank goodness for my cousin navigating us to a municipal lot!

The venue for the event was in the top floor of an former cotton factory, so even the venue lent itself well to the day’s event! There were dozens of vendors on hand, and, really, everyone was happy to be out and around yarn.

This might have been my most modest purchases from a fibre event – I bought one skein of yarn (yes, only one!), stitch markers, a shawl pin, and what might be one of my favourite project pags

This was a great day out with my cousin, and I’m looking at it as practice for Knit City Montreal in May when I have a mini weekend getaway planned with my knitting BFF!

Test Knit: Morning Sunshine

Sometimes, it comes down to timing. I happened to check Stephanie Lotven’s Ravelry group on my lunch hour the Friday before last, and she had posted about a test knit for a new cowl. I couldn’t believe my luck that I was early enough to see this post and be able to sign up to be a test knitter! This was my first time testing a pattern, and I loved it.

The pattern is a cowl, and we all know how much I love these accessories. I had one skein in my stash that would work, and two trips to a yarn store later (one to buy a skein, and one to exchange the skein when I realized it was the wrong weight for the pattern) I cast on and dedicated much of the long weekend to knitting this project. The yarn I used was Shelridge Yarns Classic DK, colours Smoke and Amythist.

There is a two week turn around for the test knit, so I opted to test the DK version rather than the fingering, just in case I needed a heavier yarn to ensure I met the deadline. My fears were unfounded (or maybe the DK was the right choice) as I got most of the cowl knit over the Family Day weekend.

Also, because it was a test knit, I wanted to be sure I did everything right, so I knit a gauge swatch. Like, properly, knit, wash, and blocked the gauge swatch. I was rather proud of myself for that one.

It took me about a week to finish the cowl, between swatching, finishing, reknitting half of the bottom border, and blocking. The bottom needed reknitting because, through the testing process, the directions needed to be rewritten to be more clear, and I wanted to re-work what I had done with the first set of instructions.

All in all, loved this process, and I love my new cowl!

Year of Dishcloths

There is no rhyme, no real reason why, but I love making dishcloths. They’re quick, so they give the satisfaction of a fast finished project. There’s also something about dishcloth cotton. It’s just so crunchy and comes in the most delightful colour combos. And, of course, there’s the complete functionality of the item being crafted. I use my dishcloths day in and day out.

There’s a few basic patterns I turn to and, by this point, can make in my sleep if I had to. But I’m never one to turn away from new patterns, so when I learned about The Kitchen Sink Shop’s Year of Dishcloths Pattern Club, I had to participate. It was easy to join in – simply sign up to her newsletter, and once a month, you’ll get a new dishcloth pattern in your inbox. The theme this year is “Yummy Sweet Treats” so along with the pattern, you get a recipe which inspired the design!

A few weekends ago, I finished January’s dishcloth and happily added it to the drawer.

And, right on time, on February 1, February’s pattern made its way into my inbox. I’m looking forward to having 12 new dishcloths in my drawer by the end of the year!

Stash Busting in 2022

One of my informal goals in 2022 was to knit from my stash (isn’t that every knitter’s new year goals?). I say informal because I wasn’t militant about it, but rather, I was mindful with my purchases. That said, my stash did grow quite a bit in 2022, but it did go down somewhat as well.

For example, Feel the Bern was a quick knit that used over 600 metres of worsted weight yarn. If you’re looking for a project to do some stash busting or to help practice colourwork, this is a great pattern for it.

My Temperance Shawl was also a great project to use two skeins of fingering yarn I had for about 2 years. However, I did have to buy one more skein to work the project, but I love this shawl. Wearing it is like wearing a socially acceptable blanket around.

My Icefall sweater also used up stash yarn that had been kicking around for some time. Now, this was a WIP that had been WIP-ing for over a year by the time it was finished. I was pleased to use a gradient yarn for the colourwork because it added interest with no effort on my part at all. I also was pleased to use this gradient because I wasn’t quite sure how else to use this particular yarn. Its gradient-ness was a surprise for me once I wound it into a ball, but with the burnt orange, it looks good in this sweater.

These three are the projects that put the biggest dent in my stash. I made a few cowls and socks that also helped work down a skein or two.

For 2023, as I’ve written, I have four projects with yarn and patterns, all I’ll need to do is cast on. Here’s hoping I can continue to work away at the stash, while, maybe, adding a little more along the way, if the yarn is right.

On Not-so-Accidentally Felting

I almost titled this one The Fuzzy Fezziwig, because that’s what happened.

A few months back, I finished the Fezziwig cardigan, made with Gathering Yarn Haynes Creek Heathers Aran. While I liked the cardigan, I didn’t LOVE it. Was it the pattern, was it that I didn’t knit a gauge swatch, was it the yarn, or was it a combination of all of it? Yeah, probably the combination of all.

After I washed and blocked it the first time, I thought it was roomy and a little slouchy, a problem that seemed to increase after washing it a second time. So, the third time I washed it, I thought, rather than lay it flat, I’ll throw it in the dryer for 20 minutes or so…

Did I mention that the Haynes Creek Heathers is a non-superwash yarn…

It felted.

But, I’m not mad at all.

Here is a little before and after. It’s like a whole new sweater!

Some of the cable details were lost with the felting, but they’re still there, but subtle.

The sleeves shrunk QUITE a bit! On the original sweater, I had to roll the sleeves up, but on the felted version, they turned out just a wee bit short. I catch myself tugging at them slightly while wearing it.

The felted sweater is warmer, plusher, and cosier. It’s become a more wearable piece for me, so, like I said, I’m not mad at all about my first adventure in felting.