Tuesday, February 14, 2017

wip: A Lonely Shawl

wip: Lonely Tree Shawl
I started writing this blog post a few weeks ago, but things took a sad turn in my life soon after, and now the subject of this post has come to mean something else to me.

Back in January, I hosted a pop-up shop for Megan Samms, a textile artist out of Atlin, BC who weaves fabric and dyes yarn from Custom Woolen Mills (a wee mill in Alberta, Canada) using natural dyes.  Her stuff is just lovely, and I have all the yarn I need to knit this gorgeous colourwork sweater.  (Keep an eye out for more on this project - I'm desperate to start it.)

Custom Woolen Mills 1 Ply
I also bought a skein of her handdyed 1 ply yarn in this greenish-grey shade dyed from the South American Quebracho tree.  See, I've been itching to add a triangle shawl to my wardrobe, and while black would've been far more practical, I couldn't put this pretty yarn down.

I balled the yarn up (by hand because this yarn breaks like a mofo if you put too much pressure on it, hense vetoing my ball winder set up), and found the pattern I wanted.  But, I've been under a lot of stress lately, between the store, our busy schedules and no time to spend with the boyfriend, financial concerns, and some health issues that are rearing their heads of late.  A tiny spat that got blown out of proportion showed that the boyfriend and I were obviously bottling crap up and lead to a talk that evening.  I wanted us to work on drifting back together after so much time drifting apart.  He didn't want to try.

Custom Woolen Mills 1 Ply
So uh, I went into the talk expecting to making plans to work on our relationship, and basically left it homeless and alone.  More alone, I guess.  I was already near the breaking point, and this ratcheted my stress levels well beyond it.

But I've learned that I have an amazingly supportive group of friends here in the Yukon, and I'm so thankful for that.  I'm not good at reaching out for help when I need it, but they've all rallied and are giving me the support I so desperately need right now.  I don't have a home, but I'm not without places to stay.  I'm overwhelmed with the store, but they're covering shifts for me so I can pack up my stuff.  I'm so hurt and lonely, but they're pulling me out of my head and giving me strength.

wip: Lonely Treens Shawl
This is more personal than I ever wanted to get on this blog, but I need another outlet, a place where I can reach out without having to ask, a place where I can write down the good things, but still look at the hard bits without downplaying it to the friends who worry about me.  I'm going to be fine.  I'm a strong and independent woman and I've survived much worse.  This one just pulled the rug out from under me unexpectedly and it's going to take me more time to get my feet under me again, I think.

All of this leads back to my triangle shawl.  I started it a week and a half ago because I needed a more complicated project to keep my brain distracted and my hands busy, but nothing too complicated that I couldn't figure it out with the on-average 4 hours sleep/night I'd been getting.  And this shawl was the perfect project.

wip: Lonely Tree Shawl
It only recently occurred to me that the pattern name, the Lonely Tree Shawl, was probably somewhat apt.  It's become my coping project - the thing I pick up when I need to not think about stuff anymore.  Sad name and what it represents aside, it also doesn't escape my notice that, once finished, I'm going to have this lovely item that will literally hug me when I wear it.

And while the shawl will probably always represent a sad point in my life, I very much appreciate the symbolism here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

fo: Foxes and Fireweed - My First Handspun Project!

In November, a friend of mine taught a class at my shop.  Only one person had signed up and, despite having a list of things to do during the class approximately 1.6 km long, I abandoned it all to join the class.

What class was it, you ask?

First Handspun Project
A drop spindle yarn spinning class!  I had so much fun learning a new skill, and I got a bit obsessive with it.  I wound up spending extra time at the shop - long after I should've gone home, spinning away on my little drop spindle.

First Handspun Project
It didn't take long before I'd gotten the whole roving braid spun up into a single ply ball.  I'd considered plying it into a 2ply ball, but the yarn changed a lot from start to finish, from short colour changes, over-spun sections, and rapid extremes in yarn thickness, to long consistent colour lengths and generally more consistent yarn thickness (though I still had some really fat sections in it).

First Handspun Project
The yarn ranged from lace weight to super bulky everywhere - it was hilarious to knit up!  And yes, I knit it up immediately.  I wanted to spin some more, but I was itching to see how it knit up.

First Handspun Project
I decided on a simple cowl design and, pairing it with some Briggs and Little Lite n' Fancy in cream to ground the wackidoodle handspun, I knit a striped cowl with seed-stitch edges.  Here's the Ravelry project page, if you're curious. Folks, while my Northman Mittens are my absolute favourite knit of 2016, this cowl comes close to following it.  Probably because I'm seriously in love with my cooky handspun yarn and the lovely Briggs and Little yarn I paired it with.  I wear this thing almost daily - it's nice and warm on our freezing winter mornings, and the combination of yarns are super soft against even the most sensitive skin!  :D  SO DAMN PROUD OF MYSELF.

First Handspun Project
In case you're wondering, I named the yarn (and thus the cowl) Foxes and Fireweed because of the colours in the roving braid itself.  It was dyed by a local artist, and it just makes me think of foxes darting around a roadside teaming with fireweed on a sunny summer day.  Ridiculous imagery, maybe, but a common one here in the Yukon.  :)

First Handspun Project
Now that I'm finished with this project though, my fingers are itching to spin some more.  Though I'm taking another class tomorrow with this same instructor - this time on frame loom weaving - so it might be a while before I do so.

When was the last time you learned a truly new skill?  I feel like it's been yonks for me.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

fo: Northman Mittens, and Some Blathering

Ye Gods!  Has this last 6 months been a major learning curve.  Series of learning cliffs.  Whatever it was, it was certainly busy!  I forgot how hectic Christmas season + Retail can be, and I barely made it though it intact - the only thing that kept me going was my wonderful employee N and the promise of 3 full days off over Christmas.

But made it through I did, and while I know January will still be busy, I might actually be able to breath!  ...maybe.

Anywho, there has been a PLETHORA of knitting and crocheting going on, and I'm going to try to bang out a few posts about that before 2017 - need to bolster my shoddy posting numbers at least a bit!  Also, it's killing me, not being able to blog.  Or read blogs.  I miss you guys!

Northman Mittens
Okay, first (and recent favourite!) project to share is my Northman Mittens.  Guys, this project basically reinforced that colourwork is probably my most favourite knitting technique!  It's so fun, and feels quick because all you want to do is just one more round or 12 to see the pattern emerging!

Northman Mittens
Pattern: Northman Mittens, by David Schultz
Ravelry project page
Yarn: Outer mitten - Ístex Lettlopi in Fawn and White; Liner mitten - Drops Alpaca in Light Green
Needles: 3.25 mm
Mods: Raised thumb by doing 4 additional rows after gusset increases before separating out the thumb stitches; removed 4 rows from finger section.  Did same mod for the liner mitten, and added more length to the finger section from what pattern suggests (they would've been too short).

These mittens are just what I needed.  I lost my old Rasta mittens and my hands were getting cold, and guys, I swear this pattern stalked and seduced me.  Everytime I went onto Ravelry - there it was.  Three people came into the shop and pointed it out.  One person came in and showed me pictures of their pair.  It just had to happen.

Northman Mittens
They took me a little over a month and a half to knit (Rav tells me Oct 5 to Nov 28), which is pretty good considering I was pulling 10-14 hour days, 6-7 days a week, including teaching way too many classes and the knitting that goes along with that!  lol

Northman Mittens
The top of this mitten demonstrates colour dominance really well.  Colour dominance is where one colour stands out more over the other, and happens because one strand in stranded colourwork has to go a wee bit further than the other in the back of the work.  Usually the strand that travels along the bottom of the row (aka the one held in the left hand of the two-handed colourwork technique) will be more dominant.  In this mitten, I let the white be the dominant colour...except on the one row at the top of the left mitten, when I obviously swapped hands and didn't realize it until the mittens were finished.  You can see how there's one row where the fawn shade stands out more than the white.  Oh well, it was a good teaching moment for my colourwork class.  <3
I LOVED working with the Lettlopi yarn.  I've had a huge crush on it for ages, and one evening I broke and started the project.  The outer mitts just flew off the needles, and the pattern managed to seduce my entire advanced colourwork class when I was discussing colour dominance with them.  They've got me half convinced to run a class on the pattern!  Sneaky sneaky pattern.

Northman Mittens
Of course, these mitts are also lined, which both adds SO MUCH to the warmth factor, and also adds a soft layer between the itchy Icelandic yarn and my skin.  I used Drops Alpaca, and I'm blown away by the results.  They kept my hands nice and toasty warm when Whitehorse weather dipped into the -35C range! Plus when I brush the snow off my car and scrape the windshields, these mitts wind up COVERED in snow, but despite my steering wheel getting soaked as the car warms up, my hands stay dry and warm.  THIS is why we wear wool, guys.  :)

Good night folks!  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, or whatever you celebrate this holiday season!  If you don't celebrate anything, well, sorry that you have to deal with us crazies.  :D  <3

Saturday, October 22, 2016

fo: Phoney Costume!

I have a good friend who comes to visit me in the shop fairly often.  For a while, when she was unemployed, she'd come sit on my shop couch and crochet in the afternoons.  She's a hilarious woman and I'm so glad to have met her.

So when she left her phone at the store yesterday (again!), of course I had to yarn bomb it!  I'd planned to granny square it to within an inch of it's life, but did this instead.

fo: Yarn Bombed Phone
Does it look like a polar bear?  That was the intention, but when I added little french knot eyes, it also looked like a screaming ghost.  Considering that it's October, either one could work!

fo: Yarn Bombed Phone
She got a kick out of it, regardless.  Granted, it took longer to make this thing up than I'd planned, so she caught me while I was trying to finish the bottom piece.  She hung around to crochet for a bit though, so I was able to finish it.

No there's no pattern, I just made it up as I went.  I love being able to do that with crochet. :D

Admit it, you now want to yarn bomb someone's phone, don't you! 

Friday, October 07, 2016

An Update on Yarn Shop Ownership

Holy Hannah guys, apparently running a yarn shop is a life-consuming business!  I now mentally roll my eyes a tiny bit when I hear people talk about me "living the dream" and how "it must be so amazing to be able to knit at work if you want to".


Apparently 12 hour work days AT LEAST 6 days a week (and I try to enforce one day off a week because I've been through Grad School, I know how easy it is to burn out) and the only knitting time you take is in sacrifice of things like "laundry" and "making a real meal".  And when you find time to knit?  It'll probably be consumed by sample/commission/repair work - forget about your own projects.

fo: Rainbows and Shooting Stars
Short Notice baby sweater by Taiga Hillard Designs, knit using Diamond Luxury Simpatico yarn.  LOVE how this turned out - the yarn was pretty and the sweater knits up in no-time flat.  Seriously, if you need a baby gift on short notice, this is a good choice in pattern! 
This probably sounds like complaining.  It's really not.  I knew exactly what I was getting into when I jumped into this new career because I'm a scientist and I totally did my research.  But I do have to laugh at those comments above because it's obvious that they hadn't.  That's okay though - it is a dream to many people and I certainly don't want to burst it.  (Except...I sort of did to you folks...erm...)

fo: Aspyn Toque
Aspyn Hat by Melissa Schaschwary, knit out of ...well you can see.  Fun knit, though those massive cables looked like garbage for the first few repeats.  The yarn is SO SOFT AND SO TWEEDY, I'm in love.  Honkin' big pompom (the photo doesn't do it justice) was added to help pull down the hat so it's more slouch and less cone-head.  Those big cables be stiff!  Also, make sure you use MUCH smaller needles for the brim, because I made a mistake and used 4.5 mm instead of 4.0 mm, and it wasn't enough - WASN'T ENOUGH.
But anyways, I will say that I was a little unprepared about how consuming this would be.  I've been wanting to write blog posts for a while now, but I have no energy to do anything at the end of the day.  The only reason I'm writing this one is because I'm forcing myself to, because dammit I wanna blog!

I also wanna go for a run, but between a few ginormous orders at the shop and evening events every day this week, that's totally not happening.

fo: Entrelac Cowl
Entrelac Cowl from a not so great pattern (I had to rewrite it and I've never knit entrelac before).  This deserves a post all on it's own because I'm THAT DAMN PROUD OF IT, but alas that probably won't happen. Knit using Noro Kureyon yarn (2 balls of it) and in the round, I learned how to knit backwards (i.e. knitting stockinette without turning to do purl rows) to speed up the process.  I'm plotting to do an entrelac class because there's just so much to learn from this technique!  :D 
But don't you worry about me (as uh, all my friends seem to be doing if the amount of assistance they're offering is any clue). Part of the reason I'm working so hard is that I'm trying to get everything in place to make my life much easier.  It's been a learning curve (HA - more like a series of vertical learning cliffs!), but it's getting better all of the time.  The store is nearly where I'd hoped to have it months ago, and I'll be giving you a little tour soon.  And I'm getting some creative outlet in the samples I'm making up - many of them shown here in this post.

fo: Entrelac Cowl
Fell in LOVE with kureyon while knitting this.  Lovely and soft with beautiful colour ranges, and the finished project has such heft that it stands up nicely on it's own.  What a great cowl for keeping your neck and face warm for the winter!  May need to steal this for the really cold winter days that are coming way too soon (seriously, I'm scraping the windshield almost daily now).
The very best part though?  I love what I do, every single day.  Oh sure, there's some trying bits - but there's nothing like seeing a person's face when the light-bulb moment happens when they figure out a new stitch, or assisting a new knitter find their first project, or fixing a problem that's stumped someone (and bonus if they learn how to fix it themselves!).

fo: Alpaca Mitts
Alpaca mittens I knit on commission for a customer who needed some help.  Well, I say commission, but these took so long to get done that I did the work for free.  They turned out so lovely though, and beyond soft! that it was a joy to knit.  <3  No pattern - I just made it up as I went.  The yarn was a challenge since it was hand-spun locally raised alpaca, and the yarn went from fingering to bulky and back to fingering through the entire ball of yarn.  Progressively.  ANNOYING.  But they turned out so cute, despite being reknit ...more times than I want to count, and the fingertips reknit 4 times (no exaggeration!) the last night alone.  ARGH next time I follow a pattern!  I couldn't stop putting them on though, so I'd call that a winner!
This is a hard career I've taken on - but it's one that I'm loving, despite all of the challenges (or likely because of them).  And while I'd caution anyone else looking to do it to put their research in and understand what they're getting in for (seriously guys - this job is all about customer service!), I'd sing the praises of this career to anyone wanting to tackle this challenge.

Just please don't open another one in Whitehorse - I think we have all the yarn shops we can handle with the two of us.  :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

fo: Spotted Cardigan!

For some reason, despite having WAY less free time now that I run a shop than when I had a government desk job, I've been sewing a ton more.  Granted, not much knitting, but I've been bitten by the sewing bug hard.  Probably because I want to up my wardrobe now that I'm working a very public position in a creative field.  That and I've sworn to never wear blue jeans in the shop while open; that's sort of forcing me to rethink my wardrobe.

Anyways, all that blather is basically to say that I sewed a top.  :D

fo: Spotted Cardi
Actually, I sewed most of the top about 2 years ago, but only just finished it this weekend.  All that was needed was the neckband and hems.  Yeah, I'm not sure why it took me this long either.

fo: Spotted Cardi

Long-time readers who followed me over from my old blog might recognize this (though I am wearing it differently).  I sewed this cardigan up back in January 2012 in a heavier-weight light grey fabric.  I have no idea where that cardi went, but I'd received this exact yarn from Stacie in late 2011/early 2012 to duplicate her spotted version of this cardi.  Erm, I'm a little late, but glad that I finally got it done!  This is going to be a great light-weight addition to my wardrobe.  :)

fo: Spotted Cardi
Pattern: McCall's 6408
Fabric: Stretch jersey knit burnout (rayon/polyester)
Size: Small?  That's what my Pattern Review post claims.  This cardigan ran really big, and I believe I cut a small and graded out at the hips.  Despite the fact that my body measurements from 4.5 years ago placed me in the L to XL category.  Oh Big 4 patterns, why you so ease-y.
Mods: No idea.  I just cut out from the pattern I traced out way back when.  Oh, but I did hack off the sleeves at about 3/4 length and finished them with a strip of fabric sewn on.  And I didn't hem it because I'm not sure how to do it without ruining the drape, and it's curling in a cute way anyways.

fo: Spotted Cardi
The fabric is a little thin, and I find that it bunches over my butt when I tie it in the front.  I love it tied in the back though - It works really well with both my favourite little navy dress (which I so have to duplicate in a black fabric, like, NOW) as well as over my favourite teal pants and black tee.  It's a bit of a bolder print than I'd go for now-a-days, but it is a lot of fun!

fo: Spotted Cardi
Yep, pretty happy about it!  Don't mind the crummy photos though - I snapped them quickly before opening the shop this morning (hense the crummy light).

Have you ever finished a long-planned or half-sewn project that's been sitting around ready to be completed, and wondered why the heck you waited so long?

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Multi-Post: Canada Day, a Hummingbird Skirt, and a Dream Wardrobe

Okay friends, I'm going to mash 3 topics into this blog post, because I have a ton of post ideas and very little time to write right now.  BTW, owning a store?  Simultaneously epically awesome and completely exhausting!  I love it.  :)

Topic 1: Canada Day!

HAPPY (belated) CANADA DAY!!!  And to you folks in the States, HAPPY (early) INDEPENDENCE DAY!!

Canada Day!
I reduced the shop hours on Friday so I could go watch the parade in town, and I do not regret it for a moment!  The parade was a ton of fun, and I went a little crazy waving and cheering at everything and everyone with my wee little flag.  My favourite float was this one:

Canada Day!
It's hard to tell at first, but it's a little glass-blowing studio!  We've had one open up in town this summer, and I'm so impressed they got a float going for the parade!  The folks on the float pretended to repeatedly heat and blow "glass" (aka balloons and umbrellas) and a few people walked along side, blowing more "glass" and giving out candy.  I'm stoked to go do one of their glass-blowing classes - clever buggers also have a "date night" package, which is awesome!

Canada Day!
I might've gotten into the spirit (though I didn't think of a float - NEXT YEAR!!!!) and was up until 2 am the night before (/that morning) knitting up an ugly colourwork hat for a Canada Day display.  Don't look to closely at it, the colourwork is atrocious.  But it did the job, and looked pretty good surrounded by all the red and white Canadian-made product and string I could find!

Topic 2: Hummingbird Skirt

fo: Navy Hummingbird Skirt
Holy crap I sewed a skirt!

Haha I've been missing my poor sewing room lately, and I've gotten an itch to sew that was getting unbearable.  After closing up the shop at 4 on Canada Day, I came home to have some quiet me time (I'm an introvert - though granted a socially-inclined introvert.  I've been needing some me-time to recharge after the last two crazy weeks).  I'd planned to sit and work on a store sample and watch a movie, but the sewing room - she called!  I wanted a quick project and, needing a skirt desperately in my wardrobe, I pulled out the pieces of a navy Hummingbird Skirt (by Cake Patterns) that I'd cut out literally years ago.

fo: Navy Hummingbird Skirt

fo: Navy Hummingbird Skirt
I put on my favourite audiobook and proceeded to sew for the next few hours.  Ah bliss.  Look at those pockets!  I sewed them wrong at first and swore a lot while ripping them out, but otherwise everything went smoothly.

fo: Navy Hummingbird Skirt
Hey look, straight side seam!  I can't remember what size I cut (I'm assuming a size 45" - based on how this fits across my hips and the size range), but I did absolutely no alterations and the fit is pretty spot on.  Granted, I'm not entirely certain how a skirt should fit, but it's pretty comfy.  It might be a little snug across the hips, but seems fine.  I'd probably add an inch or so length next time though.  I'm actually sort of happy with this length, but I don't normally wear shorts and most dresses I wear are closer to knee length.

fo: Navy Hummingbird Skirt
This is the best invisible zipper I've ever done!  It really is invisible - there's just some weird shadows happening in the picture above.  And some wrinkles and various fluff that accumulates in a yarn shop - what can I say, I finished it the night before and promptly test run it at work the next day.

Don't ask me what the fabric is - some sort of suiting that feels a bit wooly, but definitely has a poly-content.  It was part of a box of fabric sent to me from a friend, and I'm glad to get more use out of it.  :) 

fo: Navy Hummingbird Skirt
So I definitely need several more of these!  I think they're going to be a wardrobe staple, that's for sure.  :)

Topic 3: Dream Wardrobe

During MMMay'16 (erm - things got a little insane and I never got photos taken of outfits the last week or so of May, though I did stick with Me-Makes.  After hearing about the shop, I hope you now understand why), I won one of Zoe's giveaways!  It was a fun little 'go to the Fabric Godmother website and suggest a pattern you think they need to have on their site (mine was Cake Pattern's Tiramisu, btw - I do love me some Cake!), and I was so lucky to win one month of Fabric Godmother's Dream Wardrobe!  It was pretty cool, actually; Josie contacted me with a consultation document that I had to fill out, describing my colouring, my personal style, likes and dislikes, etc, and then she chose a pattern and fabric she thought would suit me.  I received her package last week, and this is what she sent:

Fabric Godmother Package
It's perfect!  I love the simple but fun fabric, and I've been eyeing up Darling Ranges for years now!  This was definitely a good experience, and I'll probably recommend this service to family members back home who want to send me something special for birthdays or Christmas's. 

Itch to sew...RISING!