Wednesday, November 30, 2016

WIP Wednesday

Am I starting to freak out? 

Yes. Just a little. 

I have a little over two weeks to finish a shawl I'm planning on gifting to the Kiddo's teacher and I'm nowhere near where I thought I would be at this time. I had to take a few days off from knitting because I could feel my hands starting to act up a smidge, and rather than wait for them to be in complete pain I thought I would nip it in the bud and take it easy now. I think it worked. And so my plan for the rest of the week and most likely the weekend is to work solely on this shawl. I will get it done. It needs to be done. 

The shawl is actually lovely to knit. I am a little concerned about the depth of it but have to remind myself that I still have two more lace panels to knit up. Plus, I'm not the one that will be wearing it so I shouldn't be so picky, right? I'm also slightly concerned about the amount of yarn I have for the main colour, which is ridiculous considering that I have at least half a skein and only one more section to go before starting the border. But I do this to myself all.the.time. My brain likes to mind play games with me and makes me assume I'm going to run out of yarn, only to have more than plenty leftover by the time I bind off that last stitch. These mind games are at its worse when the colourway I'm using is either not available at my LYS, is limited, or is by a dyer that no longer dyes yarn. It's a messed up game and one that is played a lot

My goal is to use up as much of the main colour yarn as possible and have been adding in extra rows here and there - more for the distribution of the stripes than to add length, but now I'm considering adding a few extra rows in the last two lace panels to gain more depth. Depending on how it all looks, I'm also thinking of doing lace-y picot edge bind off to give the shawl a little more "oomph".

I just hope I can get the shawl finished before the week is over, cause I really want to finish the mittens I had cast on a few days ago. These are not for gifting. It's been crazy cold lately and I can't seem to find a single mitten from last year. I have, however, been able to locate all the fingerless mitts that I've knitted up in my lifetime. 

In case you're wondering, the pattern is Antler Mittens by Tin Can Knits and the yarn is Louet Gems Worsted. I've never used this yarn before and I have to say it's absolutely lovely. It's so soft, the shade of grey is perfection, and the stitch definition...oh my!! But I told myself that I can't finish this selfish knit until a gift knit is completed. 

So...back to shawl knitting I must go!


Friday, November 25, 2016

Off The Needles: Fairy Flax Light

Surprise!! It's another baby knit!!

Ok, I'm pretty sure you're not surprised. And probably not surprised that it's another knit using a Tin Can Knits pattern. Or the fact that this is yet another Flax sweater since the last two baby knits that I did were also Flaxes. But did you know that this is the LIGHT version? Because it is!

The ladies of Tin Can Knits are awesome and came out with a lighter version of their mega popular (and free!) pattern, Flax, from The Simple Collection. It's absolutely perfect for those who don't wear or need a heavy-weight sweater, or for those warm Spring days when you need a light layering piece...or if you live on the West Coast! 

I won't lie, the main reason why I wanted to knit Flax Light is because I have a crap ton of solo skeins of fingering weight yarn in the stash. I've faced reality a long time ago that not all of those skeins are going to turn into shawls or even socks. So what was I going to do with all those project-less skeins? 

Baby knits.


So when my good friend Hayley showed up at a beer-music bingo-knitting night pregnant (don't worry, she was there for the music bingo and knitting!), I knew exactly what I wanted to knit her wee little one. Also, note to self: must get out to knit nights more often!! Anyhoo, a friend of ours, Em, formerly of Everything Old but is now Emma Knits and the voice behind the Knitting Pretty Podcast, had long ago dyed up a colourway that I knew that Hayley loved. I just happen to have a skein of this colourway and no idea what to do with it. I now think this particular skein was sitting in my stash waiting for this day. To become a baby sweater for a dear friend. 

I absolutely loved knitting this sweater. I really do think it's the perfect combo of pattern, yarn, and recipient. The yarn is just so fun and the pattern so simple that it just works. Aside from the slight flashing of colour at the bottom portion of the body, I think the flecks of colour knitted up quite evenly and not at all blotchy or weird. If that even makes sense? While I was blocking the sweater the flecks sort of reminded me of the video game, Galaga, which makes this colourway choice even more fitting as Hayley's partner is a huge gamer. I think everyone wins with this knit!

I didn't do a single mod for this pullover. The pattern is superb and just such a joy to knit. It took almost two weeks to knit this up over the summer but that's because I had a million other projects on the go at that time (what else is new?). I had knit the 6-12 month size as I wasn't sure if I would have been able to eek out the 1-2 year size. In the end I had 15g of yarn leftover, which I promptly gave to another friend who makes adorable stuffies and thought this yarn would make the cutest little stuffie ever. I'm sure if I had planned it out better by using a contrasting yarn for the ribbed parts (like I did with these Flaxes) I would have had enough to knit the next size up. Oh well. I'm sure this won't be the last time I'll be knitting this pattern!

My friend sent me a few photos of her sweet little one wearing this sweater. He looked so incredibly adorable. I don't feel comfortable posting photos of babies that aren't mine on the blog, so you'll just have to trust me when I say that he looks so cute that my ovaries hurt. Sorry, TMI? 

Let's look at this cute sweater one last time:

:: Sweater Details ::
Pattern: Flax Light by Tin Can Knits

Yarn: Everything Old Signature Sock (now discontinued)
Colour: Fairy Lights
Needles: Hiya Hiya Sharps Interchangeables in 2.75mm (US 2) and 3.75mm (US 5)
Ravelry Link: MisoCraftyKnits Fairy Flax Light

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

This Wednesday's WIP

I've realized that my brain is a few weeks behind reality. I kind of knew this but chalked it up to the time change, routine interruptions, and busy days. Well, now is the time that I must face reality and understand that there are only three and a half weeks until the Kiddo goes on winter break from school and there are only four and a half weeks until Christmas. 


I hadn't even settled on what I was going to gift my Kiddo's teacher and EA!! Over the weekend I frantically searched Ravelry and my queue, as well as my stash for ideas. I knew my son's teacher adored the Follow Your Arrow shawl that I had knit and then gifted a few years ago to another teacher, and so I was trying to find a pattern that was lacey but not over the top. Something impressive but wearable. Something elegant but can be worn casually. I think Sylvia McFadden's Waiting For Rain shawl fit my criteria perfectly. I didn't have the right yarn quantities within my stash without breaking up a sweater quantity, so I decided to make a two-tone stripey version to kind of emulate Sylvia's other shawl pattern that I simply adore The Rain Outside while being able to knit with solo skeins of Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light.

I scoured all the projects to get an approximate idea as to how fast this shawl could possibly be knit up. I also got a good idea as to what some people had issues with and from that decided to make a few mods. Nothing major, just changing the way I do the increases to avoid uneven holes along the top of the shawl and sort of making up the stripe sequence as I, but loosely based off of what a few other knitters did when it came to knitting the stripes closer to the lace panels.

I had cast on the shawl on Sunday and finished the first part (out of five) yesterday (Tuesday). I won't lie, I was hoping to finish the shawl by the end of the week but I have to remind myself to take breaks often and try to work on other time-sensitive projects. So I'm giving myself two weeks to knit this. That's do-able, right? Shhh! Lie to me, if you must! I have to get this done before the winter break starts! I can do this, I can do this!!

Just keep knitting...just keep knitting...

How's your holiday gift knitting going?


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Fall 2016 #CraftyBlissChallenge :: Recap

A few favourites of my own photos for the challenge!

The Fall #CraftyBlissChallenge that Julie (of Knitted Bliss) and I hosted on Instagram ended two weekends ago. It always makes me sad when a challenge ends because I love scrolling through the feed and seeing how other people interpreted the prompts; I love watching a sub-community within Instagram form and seeing participants compliment and encourage one another. 
I also like how the challenge forces me to see the every day a little differently. True, I can remind myself to do such a thing on a daily basis but when you don't have that little extra pressure from say, a challenge, it's just as easy to let the notion slide. And slide. And slide. And before you know it the sentiment is over and long forgotten. I love how inspired I get and wish I could bottle that inspiration and motivation that I get during a challenge. I'm sure I'm not the only one, as several participants shared extra photos post-challenge!

Before I continue on, I would like to say a massive "thank you!!" to all of the people who participated in the challenge, whether you managed to complete all ten days or not. It was so awesome to see so many names that I recognized from past challenges and to see quite a few new ones who had joined after seeing a re-post of the prompts via a friend. Julie and I were pretty excited to discover that 117 people had finished the challenge from start to finish!! 

A refresher of what the daily prompts were:

I was actually quite surprised with myself with how easy I found this round of prompts were for me. I think the only prompt that made me think twice was the first one, Something That Makes You Happy. There are so many things that make me happy and since my Instagram showcases mainly knitting and yarn it felt only natural to photograph just that. But then I thought, isn't that the expected route that people would anticipate for me to make? So I dug a little deeper and turned it into a non-craft related post that was slightly cheesy but was downright to the heart (it was about my kiddo and how far he has come since his toddler years in regards to his ASD diagnosis, in case you were wondering). 

One of my absolute favourite prompts was Flash Your Stash, mainly because I love seeing other knitters' stashes and how they store or display their precious yarns. And yeah, I'll admit, sometimes I feel much better about the size of my own stash when I see just how big another knitter's stash is. It's not really cheating per se but I didn't photograph my stash for that prompt. All my yarns are housed in Ziplock bags in very unphotogenic and unattractive plastic Rubbermaid totes (I live in a very high-risk bug filled area and I'm quite over protective of my yarny investments!! Also, finding two moth casings in my living room in unprotected yarn recently has made me even more vigilant about yarn protection!). There was no way I was going to make that look good, no matter what. Instead, I decided to snap a photo of some of my self-striping sock yarn (the very top photo in the collage above). It was then that I realized that I have a "problem"...and that I need to knit more socks...

Out of all the photos I took and shared, my favourite has to be the one I took for Look Up. I'm fortunate that I live in a very beautiful city but on that particular day it was grey, rainy, and gross. I waited it out and hoped that the weather would get nicer as the day wore on and lo and behold while walking to the Kiddo's school the rain stopped! In that moment I was passing by the BC Legislature building, which is my most favourite building in the city that I always marvel at, and quickly pulled out my sunglasses and captured through them the view I see on a daily basis (it's the second photo from the right at the bottom of the above collage). I'm really proud of that photo! To this day I wonder whatever possessed and inspired me to take that image, and how do I get that kind of inspiration back! 

So many photos caught my eye and I realized the majority of the ones that jumped out at me had a "theme" to them: they were all bright, bold, and rainbow-hued. If you haven't already, check out the #CraftyBlissChallenge hashtag feed to see all the wonderful photos that were shared. In the meantime, here are a few that really stood out to me:

I have always admired that knitted rainbow log cabin blanket made by @autumngeisha. It's just SO stunning, as is the rest of her Instagram feed and her Ravelry project page! I'm definitely inspired to start collecting yarn to knit myself one...eventually. Or aspire to make, like @danarae19's crocheted scrappy Granny Square that my own Noro version wishes it could be when it grows up. All the rainbow-y photos just make me so happy and a few of them have such touching stories behind them, like the photo of the two Baby Surprise Jackets on handknit blankets made by @evenstarchick that she made to bring home her babies from the hospital in. I love the contrasts and the mix-and-match feel between the four pieces and the fact that they're knits I can see becoming well-loved family heirlooms that will be passed down from generation to generation. 

I also really appreciate the non-knitting posts and am always happy that participants don't feel pressured to produce something knitting or yarn related in a predominately knitting community. I have a major soft spot for latte art (actually, @minas_letters has a simply gorgeous feed of knitting, needlework, and foliage), catching glimpses of someone's artwork and progress (@loveluckbliss's paintings are all so beautiful), and for the second challenge in a row @exiled.muse snapped a fun, colourful work of graffiti.

And the colours...oh, the colours!! I simply cannot get enough!! For someone who wears a lot of black and grey but wishes they had an exquisite, colourful, handmade wardrobe full of dresses like @sarahycurtis's (seriously, check out those dresses!!), I truly do like big, bold colours! Whether that colour takes on the form of a skein of yarn that I can't bear to knit up like @teamperramaker's skein of In The Whirled, or the beauty that is given to us by Mother Nature (ok, mixed with yarn too) like @knitbugval's, or knitted into home goods and accessories like @seashoresharon's and @instaello's, or paired with my beloved grey like @canaryknits' scarf, or even as a pop of colour like @lindseyannscott's. All the colours are just screaming out at me. I love it!

Another favourite prompt was Rainbows (kind of obvious). That prompt was the perfect one to end the challenge and I hope it made all the participants leave the challenge with a smile on their faces. Again, I wish I could re-post all the photos from that prompt here on the blog, but the one that really stood out and even came with a fantastic tip was by @jesieost that I definitely want to try. Jesie recommended saving and storing those little scraps of yarn by wrapping them around a clothespin and pinching the free end in to keep the yarn from unraveling. Brilliant!! Am I right? Jesie likes to use these little remains for toy knitting, single stripes, pompoms, embroidering details, and wrapping presents. I think this would also be an excellent way to save a bit of leftover yarns used to knit socks for future darnings or to present within a gift in case the recipient needs to replace a button, do some mending, or whatever. I like to include not only a card that says the fibre content and care but also a wool wash sample with all my gifts, this would make for a lovely bonus too. Thanks Jesie for the awesome tip!

Like the last few challenges, Julie and I had agreed to pick a winner each via random number generator from the list of those who completed the full 10 days of the challenge to receive a little surprise. Well, guess what? How's this for a surprise: the absolutely lovely and oh so talented Chantel of Mudpunch has offered a skein of her beautiful yarn as a prize!! The winners have been picked and they are:

If you haven't heard from us already, we will be in touch with you via Instagram direct message!

 Thank you so much to all of the participants of this Fall challenge!! We hope you had as much fun as we did and that you'll join us again for the next one! And thank you to the participants who gave me their permission to use their photos for this post!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Fresh Off The Needles: Wild Flowers

Hey, look! I actually finished something!! 

Which is good because it has seriously been nothing but Starteritis City around here, so it's nice to have something off the needles. I just wish I was also able to put the needles back in their package and feel even more accomplished. But no, instead I had immediately cast on another pair of socks. Like I said, it's been about casting on all the projects around here lately. I know I'm not the only one feeling the need to knit every pattern that I see, but enough about that. Let's talk about these socks!

I'm actually a little surprised that I finished them. The pattern, Business Casual by Tanis Lavallee, is a fun and easy knit; and the yarn, 80/20 Sock by Lichen and Lace, is wonderful (and beautiful!) to work with. I thoroughly enjoyed watching these two knitterly elements work up into a pair of socks. I enjoyed it so much that I was a bit sad to see the project end. I do have another skein of Lichen and Lace in the Pressed Flowers colourway on the same base, which I probably won't knit with anytime soon because well, let's face it, I get distracted by pretty yarns way too easily. As in I could be dead-set on knitting with a specific skein for weeks and then change my mind like that (imagine me snapping my fingers) for no particular reason. Also, I am sort of making myself knit with yarns that I have acquired from past knitty events, just to make myself feel better about my stash (and maybe, just maybe I'll allow myself to purchase more without guilt at the next knitting event?).   

Anyhoo, the actual knitting of the socks was pretty straightforward. The pattern is easy to memorize and the two-stitch cable is really easy to "read" as you knit along, to the point that I found that I didn't even have to knit a full pattern repeat before I was able to stop looking at the pattern for every round. Actually, the only time I had to refer to the pattern was when I got to the round where the cables met at the start/end of the pattern repeat. Although I do have to admit that there is one cable crossing at the back of one of the socks that looks a little off...that was a result of what happens when you enjoy one too many tasty Caesar cocktails on a hot summer evening...

I didn't get bored even once while knitting these socks. I also made no modifications as I thought the pattern was pretty perfect as is. I had read a few project pages on Ravelry in which knitters had mentioned that the socks fit pretty snug due to the stitch pattern, and many knitters had to go up a needle size in order to make the socks fit comfortably. I had hemmed and hawed about doing this too but ended up using my go-to needle size - which is a 2.25mm (US 1). I think using DPNs really helped in making me more aware of how tight I yanked on the working yarn with each stitch and ultimately helped in getting a looser gauge that made the sock fit nicely and not at all overly tight.

I would definitely recommend this pattern to any sock knitter, even to an advanced (or adventurous) beginner - as long as they already know the basics of sock knitting and sock anatomy. I'm already looking forward to knitting another sock pattern by Tanis Lavallee called Smokestack Socks, possibly even knitting it in some Tanis Fiber Arts sock yarn!

I have a fair amount of yarn leftover (about a quarter of the skein) and I had pondered knitting a sample of the two-stitch cable pattern so that I could frame it or insert it into an embroidery hoop a la Purl Soho's Liberty of London Swatch Portraits. That was the game plan for quite a while until a few weeks ago when I was overcome with this intense need to knit crazy leggings. While I would love to preserve this gorgeous combo of yarn and pattern in the form of a framed piece of knitterly art, I think I would also love to be able to wear this yarn in something else other than socks. BUT I've got gifts to knit, so I'm going to have to put the idea of hand knit leggings aside for now. Which means I'm going to also set aside the leftovers until I can make a final decision. But how awesome would scrappy knitted leggings be?? So awesome that it makes me want to knit my gifts just a smidge faster.

Until I can make that decision, I think I'll just enjoy these marvelously colourful socks during these dull, dreary and cold winter days for now.

:: Sock Details ::
Pattern: Business Casual by Tanis Lavallee

Yarn: 80/20 Sock by Lace and Lichen
Colour: Wild Flowers
Needle: Hiya Hiya Sharps Fixed Circulars in 2.25mm (US 1)
Ravelry Link: MisoCraftyKnits Wild Flowers

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

November Notes

Hey! It's November! This morning my son counted out that there are only 46 days until Christmas. That's a little over 6 weeks. We're both freaking out. For completely different reasons. While October was Socktober: the month of socks, November for me (and probably for the majority of knitters and crafters out there) is the month of frantic maniacal crawl into the corner and cry fervorous gift knitting. I thought I had all my gift knits sorted out but I realized over the past couple of weeks that it truly isn't. I think I'm positive on only a few items if that. Ok, maybe not.

Anyhoo, while my brain tries desperately to comprehend exactly what had transpired last night with the US presidential election (honestly, let's not go there), here's some point-form stuff that's been going on:

The Fall #CraftyBlissChallenge concluded last Sunday. I'm a little sad that the challenge is over as I was truly inspired by so many people. I absolutely loved seeing everyone's photos and the beautiful stories behind them. I am also so happy to see new crafters join in on the fun, of learning that it was their first time doing a photo challenge, and that they were pleased to have actually been able to complete a challenge. Warm feelings all around! I'll have a recap post up soon!

 I've cast on a bunch of selfish knits recently but will have to set them aside so that I can concentrate on gift knitting. I really like my kiddo's teacher this year and find her VERY knit-worthy. Thing is, I have no idea what to knit her. It's been weighing on me for weeks. Seriously. Anyone have any ideas??

 I've also been wondering if I should knit my kiddo's EA a gift or not. He has been super lucky in that he's had the same EA since kindergarten and each year I've knit her a little something-something. I feel like I've run out of things to knit her since I've already gifted her a shawl and a matching hat and mittens set. I'm completely at a loss as to what I can gift her. Again, anyone have any ideas?

 Even though I'm totally clueless as to what to gift my kiddo's teacher, I haven't let that stop me from casting on a potential gift. I've decided to cast on a couple of Arika Cowls (by the lovely Jane Richmond) just in case. One of the yarns used in the pattern was on sale at my LYS (hey, I bought them before I announced that I was going cold sheep for the rest of the year! Settle down) so I bought 2 skeins. Truthfully, I'll most likely keep one of them cause well, I really love it. The other, more colourful one, I had my son's teacher in mind. But can't decide if it's her style or not. I'll make a final decision once I sew them up and get the fringe on, until then I probably won't post about them until after Christmas. Or when the winter break rolls around and the teachers have been given their gifts.

 My family and I have unofficially adopted a cat. He was left behind when his owners moved and decided that since he was no longer a cute kitten, they didn't want him anymore. We had seen him around the hood over the summer but had assumed he was a neighbour's cat until another neighbour told us the real deal. The Mister felt bad one particular night back in October when our city had a cold snap and decided that we needed to give him a warm place to stay for the night. Well, needless to say, he won over our hearts. My family and I collectively re-named him (no one is truly sure what his original name was) and he seems to really like being called Winston Power Cathill (I started calling him Winston, the Kiddo wanted to call him Power, and the Mister added Cathill cause he loves the pun of it all). 

 A few weeks after taking Winston in, we discovered that we actually co-own him. Another three-member family in our complex have also taken pity on the kitty and offered up their home to him too. Since cats do what they want to do and both homes enjoy both the companionship and being cat-less at times (re: when no one is home but want to make sure kitty is being taken care of), we all decided that yes, we will share cat duties. The other family has even taken to calling him Winston too! So Winston comes and goes when he pleases and both homes take solace in the fact that if he's not around then he's most likely at the other house and not under some parked car freezing to death out in the rain. 

Due to the outcome of the US presidential election, several knit wear designers are offering discounts on their patterns or offering to give all proceeds (for a certain amount of time) of their pattern sales to specific organizations (like Planned Parenthood). Like Andrea Mowry of Drea Renee Knits, Alex Tinsley, and Woolly Wormhead, to name a few. Check out either their Twitter feed or Facebook page for coupon codes and details.

➳ Ok, so I said that I needed to put aside any selfish knitting so that I can concentrate on gift knitting. Well, that doesn't mean I can't think about selfish knits. For the past few weeks I've been seriously obsessed with the idea of knitting myself some leggings. While going through my stash to take photos for the Instagram challenge I put aside several skeins of fingering weight yarn that could potentially become a pair of cozy leggings perfect for the winter months. I'm itching to cast on now but won't. I can't. Gifts need to be knit. And I have way too many projects on the needles as it is. 

➳ I'm going to have to put up some notes around my house to remind myself to take breaks. I've won a giveaway for the book DIY Woven Art by Rachel Denbow, which is totally awesome in two ways: one, I've always wanted to learn this kind of weaving; and two; perfect timing as I'll need something to do during those times and days when I'm taking a break from knitting. Since the book arrived a few weeks ago I've made a cardboard loom and have warped it up to practice rya knots with and maybe be able to create a funky wall hanging at the same time. Only time will tell.

➳ I also won a super cool watercolour kit from a local art studio. It's Halloween and cat themed but that's ok. Again, it's something creative to do when I take those much needed breaks from knitting. And it's been well over a decade since I've last used watercolour paints. I prefer acrylics so this will be an interesting experience. 

What's your plans for November?

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