Saturday, September 23, 2017

Oops

So despite having several finished items to share with you, I haven't managed to find the time to take decent photos yet (and the one sweater now needs to be reblocked because I've worn it so many times, it's a bit stretched out).  Instead, I'm going to show you the new project I started!

This project is another accident.  Wasn't anywhere near my queue.  Wasn't even on the radar.

At this month's Northern Fibre Guild meeting, I borrowed this book from the guild library so I could read up on Fair Isle knitting and play with some of the charts in the book.  It's an interesting book with some gorgeous designs in it, despite the very strong 1970s vibe.  Oh the sexy moustachio'd man poses!  ::swoon::


And then this yarn arrived in shop.


And I had a closer look at the pattern on the cover.

Swatching for my new sweater
And then I swatched.

Oops, started a new sweater.
And now I'm knitting a sweater.

Oops.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

fo: Rolling Rock Henley


fo: Rolling Rock
This photo is a bit dark, but it's the closest to the true colour of this sweater, which is a dark grey/charcoal shade. The rest of the photos wound up too bright, but shows the details a bit better.  Ugh photography - you are not my thing.
Anyways, here's some photos (at last) of my Rolling Rock that I knit during the Briggs and Little Spring KAL earlier this year.  I love this sweater and I wear it regularly, but there's some major issues with it.  More on that in a second.


Pattern: Rolling Rock, by Thea Colman
Yarn: Briggs & Little Sport in Dark Grey
Mods: Not much on the upper body, all the waist shaping on the lower body.  Shortened sleeves to 3/4 length.


Things I love about this sweater:


fo: Rolling Rock
Henley neckline.  Very cleverly done and well instructed.  It makes for such a lovely neckline and one of my favourites that I've ever knit.  The buttons were some old ones I've had in my button stash for yonks, which I found for about 30 cents at a thrift shop in Manitoba.

fo: Rolling Rock
Oh wow, nice butt photo there Heather.  If I weren't too damn lazy and wanting to go to bed, I'd go back and crop it.  OH WELL BUTTS FOR YOU.
Lace pattern on the back piece only.  It's a lovely lace, is easy to remember, and I adore that it's just in the back.  Granted, it didn't show up well in this rustic wool, but the texture is there and I love that the lace pops when I wear a bright tank top underneath!

fo: Rolling Rock
Body shaping.  I added a ton of shaping to the body below the bust to make this sweater fit me better.  I think it turned out really well, and skims my body nicely.  Not too tight, not too loose, but just right = Goldilocks shaping!

fo: Rolling Rock
THIS YARN.  Dear me do I ever love Briggs & Little yarn.  It's rustic for sure, rough and a bit scratchy.  But it's warm as all get out, and so long as I'm wearing a tank top to protect my lower back and tummy, I can easily wear this against the skin.  It does soften up with washing, and I'm itching to knit another sweater from it.


Things I don't like about this sweater:


fo: Rolling Rock
The too-big upper body.  So, I wasn't thinking when I cast this sweater on.  I did choose a size that corresponded with my upper bust as I always do, but unfortunately this pattern has both that size and the one above it start with the same cast on amount, and you just add more stitches later on for the larger size (which happened to be my full bust size).  By the time I started to realize that the sweater was coming out too big, I was nearly at the sleeve divide.

fo: Rolling Rock
MOAR BUTTS.  But (hehe) you can also see how bad the upper torso fit is at the underarm.  It's too wide across the upper back.  You know, I could probably knit this whole sweater again and simply eliminate a few lace repeats form the back.  Hmmm.
Now, I don't mind ripping out a sweater if something is going wrong with it.  Better to get it over with and redo it than to wind up with a sweater you won't wear.  But I was in that KAL and I was determined to finish on time.  I wouldn't be able to do that if I ripped it.  I convinced myself that it would be alright.  Dividing for the sleeves and knitting an inch proved me wrong.  So instead of starting over, I started to do some aggressive waist shaping to get a good fit below the bust.  Not sure what my reasoning was - probably the thought that I'd get the sleeves and lower body fitted well and maybe no one would notice the poor fit above the bust.

And you know what?  It worked!  Sort of.  I point this problem out to EVERYONE, and they all say that the sweater looks great and they don't see anything wrong.  I do, of course I do.  Between the large size and the slight bias this single ply yarn creates, the neckline is actually skewed a bit, and the henley doesn't hold itself open unless I keep the sweater tugged down.

fo: Rolling Rock
But you know what?  I DON'T CARE.  Love love love this sweater and I'm going to keep wearing it with pride.  I'd like to reknit this pattern in another colour, and I'll try to get a better fit that time.  But there's so many more sweaters I want to knit in the mean time that there's no sense in resenting the problems in this one.  It's comfy to wear and looks great on me - what else could a knitter want?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

sskal Projects

Oh jeez guys, it's been a while.  Sorry, it's been a busy summer!  As usual, I've been crafting a lot, I just haven't found time to take photos and, more importantly, write up some posts.

wip: Amiga Cardigan
I've joined the Very Shannon Summer Sweater KAL again this year in an effort to finish up a few sweaters.  My buddy Margaret has outright forbidden me from starting any new sweaters until I finished up some of the...more than I'd like to count...sweaters I already have on needles.  And since I'm biting at the bit to start my Skogafjall, I'm focusing on some of my old wips.

Future Skogafjall Pullover
I'll be knitting it out of some gorgeously rustic wool from Custom Woolen Mills in Alberta (Canadian raised sheep wool, Canadian milled, Canadian bought.  Oh yeah, go Canada!), in two undyed natural shades (grey and dark brown) and some naturally dyed wool from a woman in Atlin, BC (green).  SO EXCITED.

But first, I have to finish the second sleeve and then button band of my Amiga, shown at the top of the post.  It's probably going to be the most wearable sweater I'll ever make, but dear pete is it ever a boring knit.  Stockinette stockinette stockinette in solid black.  UGH just magically be done already.

fo: A Simple Baby Sweater Knit from Diamond Luxury Fine Merino Superwash Aran
I've had a couple of other successes in this KAL though.  I'd accidentally cast on a baby sweater right before the KAL started, and finished it within the first week of it.  It's a store sample in Diamond Luxury Fine Merino Superwash Aran and A Simple Baby Sweater.  Quick knit, though I found the instructions for joining in the round after the henley lacking.  I added some notes on my Rav project page to explain it if you're interested.  I love this little green sweater so much, and I'm tempted to swipe it and send it to my buddy who's about to have a baby!

Frogging an Old WiP
I also tackled a really old wip.  I pulled out my old Reverb sweater to reassess the sweater.  It's so pretty, with this gorgeous yarn and lovely cables, and I was well past the arm divide when I put it down.  But I put it down literally years ago, back in 2013, and my tension has loosened up considerably since then.  There's no way I can finish this without it looking wonky, and the fabric was knit much tighter than I prefer now-a-days.

Frogging an Old WiP
So I frogged it.  Sad in a way, but I didn't realize how much it was weighing on my mind until it was just a huge ball of yarn again, so I'm glad I did it.  SUCCESS!

*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*

One of the reasons I've been so busy this summer is that I'm spending a lot of time with both friends and myself.  I feel better every day, though I'm still struggling with some parts of our breakup last winter.  I can't even believe it's been nearly 7 months, but I'm relearning myself and I like the person I'm finding.  I feel like I'm finally lifting my head up after being weighed down for the last few years, so obviously this is a good change in my life.  It's taken a while to admit that, but admitting it sure helped.

The Little Guy
So did buying myself a new toy.  Friends, meet the Little Guy.  We've gone on a few adventures already, and I can't wait to hitch him up to my little car and go camping again this weekend!

The Little Guy
Take care of yourselves, folks.  Hopefully it won't take so long for another update!  <3

Monday, June 19, 2017

Yarn Dyeing Experiment: Lupine

I've been plotting and planning to create my own line of naturally dyed yarn, and I'm now in the experimental phase.  I'm not going to go into too many details yet until I have a better feel of things, but I'm sure I'll share more here as I learn more.

Lupine Dyeing Experiment
Today's post is about my first attempt at dyeing yarn with lupines.  They grow thick and beautiful here in the late spring/early summer.  I spent a lovely evening gathering a bunch of it the other night with a friend, and have gathered more since to freeze for future dyeing days.

Lupine Dyeing Experiment
I only collected the flower stalks, and used only the flowers for the dye bath.  If you had to guess what colour that would produce, you'd probably guess blue or purple.  You'd be wrong.

Lupine Dyeing Experiment Lupine Dyeing Experiment
While the dye bath was a lovely burgundy/pink shade, the yarn initially came out looking a sad shade of greyish-green after steeping overnight.  I was disappointed, but figured I'd overdye it with something else.  I toss the first dip yarn into a bath with pH neutral wool wash and an extra skein into the dye bath to exhaust the dye.  I left for work and left it be.  When I got home, the exhaust bath yarn was a paler sad shade of greyish-green when I pulled it out and into a rinse bath.  So imagine my surprise when I reached into the wool wash bath and pulled out a skein of lime green yarn!

Lupine Dyeing Experiment
First dip yarn on left, exhaust bath yarn in middle, undyed yarn on right.
I'm not entirely sure what caused the change, but I suspect the soap adjusted the pH and affected the colour of the yarn.  The chemistry is fascinating!  I'm so happy with the results - even the exhaust bath yarn.

For a bit of background here, I used Briggs and Little Sport yarn, divided into 25 g skeins for experimentation.  I premordent the yarn with alum, with cream of tarter as an assist.  I forgot to rinse the yarn before moving it from the premordent pot to the dye bath, and I thought that was why the dye seemed so disappointing.  I suspect that my water isn't a pure as I'd like.  I'll probably have to get bottled water to get more control of my results.

Lupine Dyeing Experiment
I already have a couple baskets worth of yarn in the freezer for future dyeing!
I want to play a bit more with lupine, see what happens when I modify it with iron and copper solutions.  I can see this one making it into my final line of yarns.

Have you tried natural dyeing yet?  I'm fascinated with the chemistry behind it, and have been consuming all of the books I can on the matter.  Know of any good ones to recommend?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

fo: Gramps Sweater

Back in February, my wonderful, life-saving employee had a baby - an adorably disgruntled-looking little boy that has stolen my heart.  Seriously guys, I've happily avoided holding any babies since my Mom plopped one in my arms when I was 19.  I like making faces at them, and that's about it.  But this little guy?  I steal him as often as I can.  I've volunteered to baby-sit him, ffs.  He's a little pouty grump and I adore him.

So of course I had to knit something perfect for him.  What's more perfect for a grumpy-old-man baby than a grampa sweater, complete with elbow patches?  Nothing, I say!

Fo: Gramps Cardigan and Matching Hat
Pattern: Gramps, by Tin Can Knits (one of my favourite knit designers)
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash
Size: 1-2 years (since they have 12 bajillion sweaters that'll fit him up to 9 months)
Mods: Shortened the pockets a bit, and that's it.  What do I know about baby fits?

This is a clever pattern.  Knits up really quickly, but pay attention to the instructions for binding off the neckline.  To pull the shawl collar in and prevent a floppy collar, you need to do a decrease bind-off around the neck.  I didn't do this at first, and then ignored the sweater for way longer than I want to admit before I ripped it back and fixed it.

It took 30 minutes.  Why do I do this to myself?

Fo: Gramps Cardigan and Matching Hat
ISN'T THIS THE MOST ADORABLE SWEATER?!  I can't get over those elbow patches.

Fo: Gramps Cardigan and Matching Hat
The buttons though, they definitely bring it to another level.  These are buttons made by a woman in Scotland that I carry in shop.  They're not super popular, but I think people just don't know what to do with them.  Might have to make another sample with them featured!

Fo: Gramps Cardigan and Matching Hat
The matching hat was thrown together last minute from left over yarn based on Tin Can Knits Barley Hat, though I just knit the body of it in stockinette.  I love the floppy loose pompom!

Seriously, I'll be knitting this pattern again.  It turned out soooo good, and is a breeze to knit!

Fo: Gramps Cardigan and Matching Hat
Do you have a go-to baby pattern you make up for friends and family when they have wee sprogs?  Haha have you ever had a baby charm you despite your nature?  I can't wait to see little sprogy in this sweater...once he grows up a bit.  :)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

fo: Welcome Home Tapestry

Tapestry
This project has been done for a while now, and the pictures taken nearly a month ago.  It's about time I finally shared!

A while back, I mentioned that I'd learned to weave on a frame loom.  I took a class a friend of mine taught at the store, and I'm so glad that I did it!  We built our own looms, and learned a few different stitch techniques.  Or I would've if I hadn't plowed on through and finished my tapestry ahead of everyone else.

First Tapestry

This is the one I wove in that class.  I gifted it to a friend that let me stay at her place for 3 weeks while she was out of town and I was homeless after the breakup.  She's a wonderful friend, and volcanologist to boot (that will make more sense when you read the description below).

It's mostly Icelandic wool, either commercially spun (top white and bottom black) or handspun (dark grey and bobbly cream), but the medium grey was Briggs & Little Heritage yarn.  The item attached to the medium grey is actually a piece of vesicular basalt (volcanic rock with gas bubbles) wrapped with silver and sewn onto the tapestry.  I was really inspired by the gorgeous shades of the Icelandic and of the layering that can occur with extrusive volcanism (lava flows).  The whole thing was an ode to Iceland's geology, really.

I really love how this turned out, but the bobbly handspun second from the top intrigued me!  See the little hill in the contact with the white?  That formed naturally from larger bobbles stacking up as I wove.  I really wanted to play with the nature of this yarn, and so the inspiration for my next design was born.

Tapestry details
For this one, I just wanted to play with the thick-thin texture of the cream handspun, so I paired it with an evenly spun black commercial Icelandic wool and alternated rows of each yarn.  I messed up the first part of the tapestry since I initially tried weaving the handspun over and under every two strands (called the warp threads), but this really affected the texture and smoothed out the effect that I wanted.  I'd also planned to use some white commercially spun Icelandic wool to try to show off the distortions, but I didn't like the effect (and only realized well after it was too late to pull it out).  Ah well.

Tapestry details
It was fun to see how the handspun would stack up.  There was actually a lot more extreme waves in the fat white section above, but the thick sections started to line up to fill in the thin sections, and I wound up with less extreme waves.

Tapestry details
On the other hand, there was less chance for the handspun to "fix" itself in the narrower bands, and they formed some cool waves.  I love the texture of this tapestry.

Tapestry details
And since it's one of my favourite features of my previous tapestry, I made sure to include a thick rhya at the bottom.

Tapestry details
I was a bit lazier with this tapestry though.  On the previous one, I weaved in all of the warp threads at both the top and the bottom.  This time, I just wove in the ones at the end so they wouldn't protrude and hid the rest behind the rhya.  Haha GO LAZINESS!

This tapestry was started before I moved into my new apartment in March, and was made as a "welcome to your new home" for myself.  It was an essential thing to focus on when I was feeling so lost, since I find weaving really captures my focus and attention.  Especially one like this, where I was really experimenting with the material and engrossed in the results.

Expect to see more tapestries from me in the future!  They're so fun to do.  I do need to make some for the store, since my friend has really hooked people into this art form.

~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~*~~~

As an aside, this is the first time I really felt artistic in a long time.  Unlike with the majority of my knitting and sewing, I felt like I wasn't just following instructions but actually using my artistic spirit to create something unique.  Not that knitting or sewing can't be artistic, nor that others haven't created works of art in those mediums, but I never felt that way in regards to my own work; I don't consider myself an artist when it comes to sewing or knitting, but I definitely felt like one with these tapestries.  What do you think?  Do you feel like an artist, or at least, artistic when sewing or knitting?  I always feel like I'm making pretty but practical items.  I guess practical can be artistic as well, but I guess it comes from a prairie farming background, where you make what you need because it's necessary - hard to look at those skills as artistic as well.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Briggs and Little kal

This post is probably a little incoherent.  It's late, I'm tired, and I just want to blog, dammit!  Also I swear I wrote a blog post about this, but obviously I just daydreamed that one. 

Back in March, Briggs and Little, one of my favourite yarn companies ever, announced a KAL/CAL for any of their sport-weight yarn.  I've been itching to knit a sweater with their B&L Sport, so obviously I needed to join.  Plus I can't resist KALs.

Making progress on my Briggs and Little sweatwr. Doing rhe neckband before continuing on with the sweater was a smart move.
I'm knitting Rolling Rock by Thea Colman, and I'm loving this pattern.  It has an interesting contiguous shoulder line, which is a combination of a set in and a raglan sleeve on a top-down sweater.  I found it mostly flew off the needles, except just before and the first 6 inches after the sleeve separation, which is always ALWAYS a slog for me.  It has a gorgeous lace detail all over the back of the sweater (which I apparently don't have a picture of just yet), and it's both easy to knit and makes the sweater fun to knit.

Body of my Rolling Rock is done!
Haha you can see exactly which section I steam blocked to see how the yarn relaxed.
Now granted, the KAL ends on in a few days on May 15th, and I'm NEARLY THERE.  I have 1.6 sleeves to knit, and I'll probably be pulling a few late nights to finish it.  Like um, tonight.  I hope I can finish, anyways.  Because I literally have 6 other sweaters on the needles and I should probably finish one or two of them before I start the sweater I plan to start this month.  On top of all of the shop knitting I need to do.  AHA yeah, I might have a problem...

Wish me luck folks!