Thursday, June 16, 2016

Hey June!


It's mid-June already, and I'm in complete denial about it. Probably because I'm not prepared for school to be out for summer holidays in a week. And while I should technically be scrambling around trying to get stuff done around here that I otherwise can't really do while the Kiddo is at home, I'm doing what any (in)sane procrastinator would do - I take naps. I do laundry (which, in all honesty, really needs to be done. So maybe that's a win?). I pretend I'm in a movie montage when a cheesy 80s song comes on the radio...which is quite often since I tend to listen to the 80s channel. A lot.

...Ahem...

Don't get me wrong, I have been doing stuff. Just not all the right stuff. If that makes sense. A part of me wants to blame "Mom Brain", but another part of me wants to blame myself and putting way too much on my plate. But then, what else is new? Anyhoo, since I'm all over the place and lately I've been living my life in bullet form (thanks Bullet Journal!), here's another hodge podge list of stuff:  

Stash Dash update: I've got nothing. At the start of Stash Dash my hands started to act up and so I had to give them an extra long break. But this past week I've been slowing getting back to it and miraculously managed to knit up and finish the body of my Islay cardigan. All That needs to be done are the sleeves and the I-cord BO around the fronts and neckline. Yay!! Double thumbs up!! At first I had huge doubts that I would be able to get this finished by the Islay KAL deadline (July 1st), but now I'm thinking it just might be do-able! 

Speaking of KALs, there's a few going on that I SO wish I could participate in but can't due to my crappy hands and limited knitting time. Caterpillargreen Yarns is hosting a Playground Shawl KAL that started yesterday (June 15th) and ends July 31st. I think the Playground Shawl is gorgeous and I just happen to have a skein of Concrete and Tulips in the shawl yardage put-up in the stash. And then Tanis Fiber Arts is hosting the TFA Summer Blanket KAL that doesn't start until later this month and you have until the start of September to complete the blanket. I have a handful of blanket patterns in my queue that I would love to knit up, like the Missoni-inspired Chevron blanket, Fly Away, Pop, and Colorful Wedges, just to name a few. One day, one day I'll get around to knitting at least one of these up.

My extra long knitting break has really helped as I now can knit on my socks comfortably again! For a while there my hands just didn't like the combo of tiny yarn with tiny needles. I'm a little paranoid and so I haven't dived right back into the sock knitting but it's nice to actually get some progress happening on those socks. And now a huge part of me wants to cast on another pair...

Since we're on the subject of socks, I'm sitting on my hands and trying to convince myself that I do not need the newly released Hiya Hiya Sharp Sock Interchangeable needle set. I just don't. One, I already have several pairs of needles dedicated to sock knitting; and two, I rarely, if ever, knit socks in a needle size other than 2.25mm (US 1). But what a wonderful set!!

Another reason why I haven't been knitting much: canning. There was a huge sale on strawberries at one of my local grocers and so I stocked up and over the course of a few days made over 20 jars of strawberry jam. I firmly believe that canning is an addiction. My massive canner lived on my stove for a week. I was constantly cruising the canning aisle wherever we went. Not that I need more, but I stocked up on even more mason jars. Just in case. And yeah, there was a sale on my favourite brand of jars and I can never say no to that. Not to mention that this week there's a sale on blueberries at my favourite produce shop. I haven't made Blueberry Lime jam in a few years. I see another jam canning spree coming on...

 I'm super excited for my friend, Chantel, her yarn, Mudpunch, will now be sold at Baaad Anna's in Vancouver! Congrats Chantel!! Even though I've been going "cold sheep" lately, I simply cannot resist the exclusive, dyed just for Baaad Anna's self-striping colourway (to see it, click on the Baad Anna's link above and scroll to the bottom). Since it was my birthday a few days ago, I think I'm going to use my birthday money to score myself a ball!

 You can't tell by the weather as of late, but as I mentioned earlier, summer "vacation" will be starting next week. For a while there I was freaking out about what to do with the Kiddo and how I was going to keep him busy all summer. But then I read this article and realized that I didn't need to plan out every single second of the Kiddo's day. I'm not going to use this article as an excuse or reason to do nothing all summer, nor do I really put too much into such articles, but when I thought about my own childhood summers...it all makes sense. My childhood boredom had spawned so many fun memories: from recording myself and my cousin reading Archie comics, to choreographing dances with my neighbours, to just riding my bike with friends anywhere we could think of...even if it meant biking 20 minutes to get an ice cream cone. So I'm ok with the Kiddo getting bored throughout the summer. It'll be interesting, in this digital day and age, to see what he comes up with to fill his time (sans electronics, that is. Cause you bet I'll be limiting that!).


What are your summer plans?     


♥ 


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Skeino Moon Shawl Kit :: Review


Months ago I was asked if I would like to review a knitting project kit by a yarn company that I had never heard of before. I took a quick peek at the company's website to see if the kits were something I would typically knit and wear, and if the yarns were my cup of tea. Right off the bat Skeino had my interest piqued. A few of the designs were very similar to the ones I had in my queue and I was immediately drawn to the gradient beauty that was the Moon Shawl. The description of the yarn used for this shawl really grabbed my attention. An I-cord yarn in which a blend of baby alpaca and merino fibres were "knitted in"? How interesting. So I emailed back with a resounding "yes!! I'm interested!!".     


» First Impressions «
I really had no idea what to expect and so when the package arrived in the mail I was pretty giddy with anticipation. But really, name one knitter who doesn't get excited when they receive yarn in the mail. Anyhoo, I ripped open the box and was taken away by how beautiful the yarn kit was in person. The biggest surprise of all was when I took the yarn out of the box. At first glance I was expecting the yarn to be a little dense and feel somewhat felted. Yeah, no. I couldn't believe how incredibly light and fluffy the yarn was, and how it;s actually super duper soft! So soft, that for a second there I forgot I was holding yarn and thought I was sent a cuddly kitten instead. Seriously, it's that soft. And can I point out just how gorgeously awesome the packaging of the yarn is?


Even though the website specified that "five single skeins are braided into this knitting kit", I was still expecting to get the usual mini skeins or balls that you generally get in a kit. So I was immediately charmed when I pulled out this beautiful braided log of fluffy goodness out of the box. I'm such a sucker for great product packaging! I was so taken with the presentation of the yarn that I almost couldn't bring myself to break it apart to cast on my project. Silly, I know. I'm totally one of those people who buys a million pretty notebooks but can't bare to write in any of them for fear of "ruining" them.

To make it easier on my heart myself I decided to just take one skein at a time out of the braid when I'm ready to knit with it. That way I could still appreciate the lovely gradient beauty in all its fibre-y braided glory as it sits nestled in my knitting basket. It's the little things, right?


» The Yarn «
When I first expressed interest in doing a review of this kit I thought I would knit a few inches of the shawl to get a general idea of both the pattern and the yarn and then write a review. But after handling the yarn and having a really good look at it, I decided that I didn't want to rush it. I don't think I have ever knit with a yarn like this before and I really wanted to give it some proper attention. I wanted to get a full experience in knitting with it, seeing how it holds up to being manhandled, knitted, frogged, and re-knitted. To see if being shoved in and out of project bags would make it look worn before it was actually worn. And how does it wash and block? Would the yarn shed a good portion of its fibres in the water? Would touching the yarn in water make it felt?

You see, my brain kept thinking this yarn was a lightly spun single ply bulky weight. When in reality it's a yarn made up of baby alpaca and fine merino (for memory) fibres knitted into a nylon I-cord centre, which makes the yarn remarkably strong for something that looks so delicate. There's no stretch to the yarn, which worried me slightly due to my tight knitting ways, but in the end it didn't matter and I found that the lack of spring to the yarn actually made me more aware of my gauge.

The colourways available for this yarn, both for the kit and in regular skein form, are all solids in neutral colours. For the kits, the colours are "shaded" from either light to dark or mirrored (going from dark to light and back to dark, or vice versa) to reflect the inspiration of the ever-changing moon. I had a really hard time picking out a colourway for my kit. I steered clear of the earthy colourways since I barely have anything brown or beige in my wardrobe. Although, the White-Musk colourway caught my eye, it's so lovely and I bet knitted up it would look incredibly sophisticated and elegant. But I would not wear it anyways due to the aforementioned lack of earth tones in my closet. So I narrowed my choices down to seven...then to three...then to two...then I hemmed and hawed for a day and gave up and decided to let the company choose for me. In the end I received the Dark Grey-Light Grey colourway (because you'll want to know, the other choice was White-Black).

I chose to hand wind each skein as I needed them, mainly because I didn't think my ball winder could handle it. And yeah...a part of me was a little paranoid that something bad would happen. But I really didn't mind, the yarn is so fluffy soft that it was actually a pleasure to hand wind it and feel the buttery softness flow through my fingers. 


» The Pattern «
Aside from the gorgeous colourway of the sample shawl, the Moon Shawl pattern caught my eye for so many reasons: it's knitted entirely in garter, it's knitted on the bias, it has a simple shape, it looks like it has a nice enough depth to cover a good portion of your upper body, and it has a nice long wingspan. All the qualities I love in a shawl pattern and what all my past shawl projects have consisted of. So to me, picking the Moon Shawl was a complete no-brainer.

The Moon Shawl is a simple, yet elegant shawl that I can see myself wearing a lot during the cooler months, and because of the neutral colourway, would also go perfectly with everything in my wardrobe. The pattern, which is available for free on the Skeino website and on the Skeino Ravelry page, is a super easy and relaxing knit. And if your hands are in great shape (mine weren't at the time), it would be a fast knit too. I think this pattern would suit both beginners and advanced knitters alike. For beginners, as long as you know the knit stitch and can do basic increases and decreases, you've got this in the bag. For more intermediate and advanced knitters, this project would be a perfect mindless knit for social outings, Netflix marathons (or is that just me?), and if you don't mind carrying around bigger projects, is also great for car knitting.


» The Knitting «
The pattern is quite easy to memorize, and found that once I've knitted the first two sections (the solid border and then the striping into the next colour) I only had to reference the pattern once in a while just to make sure I wasn't knitting too many stripes or making the solid sections too wide. If you're knitting with your own yarns I'm pretty sure it wouldn't matter, as long as you liked the outcome, but since my yarn came in predetermined amounts I wanted to make sure I wasn't going to run out. Twice I thought I was going to run out of yarn but in the end I was fine and walked away with very tiny amounts leftover. 

I'm also glad that I didn't break up the braid and pre-wound each skein because I didn't have to think at all about which colour came next. I simply knitted the colour I was using, counted the garter ridges, and when it came time to incorporate the new colour I merely pulled out the skein in line. So easy peasy! After the first colour change the project started to become more like "potato chip knitting". I wanted to see what the stripes looked like, then I wanted to see how the stripes looked bordered between the two different shades of grey, then I wanted to see what the next set of stripes looked like... And the knitting was so mindless that from time to time I had to double check that I was actually doing the increases and decreases at the ends. The knitting had felt way too easy!

As I had mentioned above, there's no stretch to the yarn and I thought my gauge would be extremely tight. But it all worked out and there was absolutely no issues at all. I also thought I would be splitting the yarn left and right with my super pointy needles, like I usually do with some bulky single ply yarns, but this wasn't the case. Not only would the I-cord centre make sure you didn't do that, it just simply didn't happen. This was very surprising to me considering I wasn't paying attention to my knitting half of the time. I was also surprised that my hands didn't hurt working with this yarn. I thought the lack of stretchiness would for sure cause my hands to be sore, but they were totally fine. And even though the project was bulky and grew pretty big with each colour change, the knitted fabric was surprisingly lighter than air. But don't be fooled by the featherweight fabric, this shawl is so warm thanks to the alpaca content. Because of all these elements and the softness factor, the yarn was quite enjoyable to work with.

The only issues that I had with knitting with this kit, which has absolutely nothing to do with the actual pattern or yarn itself and has everything to do with me, was the fact that alpaca fibres would find its way into my already really dry eyes and from time to time I would have to pluck out a fibre from my lashes. I probably looked like a crazy person too to non-knitters. I was constantly rubbing my nose and shooing away loose fibres. And that's not to say this yarn sheds a ton. It's just like any other yarn made with alpaca. I'm just super sensitive. I also wear a lot of black, so I would often have to use a lint brush to wipe off the fibres from my clothes after a knitting session. Again, this is typical of alpaca yarns and if you're a pet-owner you probably wouldn't even notice. 


» The Finished Shawl «
I had actually finished the shawl quite a while ago but got overly lazy about weaving in the ends - which actually wasn't as horrible of a task as I had made it in my mind once I had a few under my belt. The yarn was very forgiving and practically hid the ends for me. I also had to deal with the worst lighting ever. The days when the lighting was decent, were the days when I couldn't drop what I had to do that day to take an hour to take photos. Of course! Isn't that always the case though?


Anyhoo, I kind of cheated when it came to soaking this bad boy. I had filled up my washing machine, added some no-rinse wool wash, and let the shawl soak in there for a while before letting the spin cycle wring out the excess water for me. But I had reasons! One, the Skeino website said that this yarn can be machine washed on the gentle cycle; and two, I should have done laundry first before blocking the shawl and so I was severely lacking the amount of towels I would have needed to squish out all that water. Speaking of water, before I had set my washing machine to the spin cycle, I swished the water around to see if there were any major colour bleeding or clumps of fibre. The water was slightly greyish (most likely due to the grime the project picked up from being worked on in numerous coffee shops and during errands in the truck) and there was a little bit of fibre floating around, but nothing more than any other yarn I've used with an alpaca content. 


With all that said, the shawl did grow a little bit and bloomed beautifully. That's when I realized that I didn't have any room to properly lay out the shawl to block. I stood there in the middle of my living room, freaking out with a wet lump of knitted wool in my hands. Then I remembered a recent episode of The Knit Girllls in which one of the ladies (I think it was Laura?) had mentioned she had blocked a garter stitch shawl along the edge of her ironing board. She had stretched and pinned the top edge of the shawl along the perimeter of the ironing board and had let gravity and the shawl's own weight do its thing without ruining and distorting the squishiness of the garter. So I gave it a try. 

Now, the shawl is actually a diamond shape but I wasn't sure how I would wear that. So I stretched it out on one side to achieve a somewhat stretched out triangular shape. The edge went completely around my ironing board and then some. But not too much, more like the tips were able to cross over each other. Then I opened my balcony door and carried on with my day.   


Oh...my...goodness. This method of blocking is brilliant!! Not only did this bulky weight shawl dry in record time (ok, so it's almost summer here and not the dead of winter), the integrity of the garter stitch was fully intact and not overly stretched out like I've seen in the past, the points of the shawl were gentle and not harsh (re: when you see a stitch stretched out to the max because that's where the pin would've been) - which you can see in the last photo, and best of all: I didn't have to pull out my blocking wires, I don't have a pile of towels, I only used maybe less than a dozen T-pins, and I didn't have to yell out to my family members to "watch out for the knitting on the floor!!". I totally want to knit another garter stitch shawl just so that I can try this blocking method again!! Brilliant!!

Ok, back to the final knit. I'm really pleased and love the outcome. I thought about gifting this shawl but then took that sentiment back a day later. How many times have I said I wanted to knit myself a neutral, possibly black or grey, shawl that can go with pretty much everything in my closet? So.many.times. And I realized that since blocking this shawl, I've actually been using it in the evenings when the Mister and I sit out on our balcony and enjoy the end of the day. Even though we've been experiencing summer-like weather here, in the evenings where I am, it gets quite cool and at times, chilly. The shawl is so cuddly and cozy that I like to wrap it around my shoulders while I sit outside and knit and/or sip an adult beverage. 

Although, if I were to wear this shawl out and about I would most likely wear it either like a scarf or in cowl form, like so:


» Final Thoughts «
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this knitting kit and definitely love the end product. I'm happy I was given this opportunity to try a new-to-me yarn and brand, and to try a project that I otherwise might have never stumbled upon on my own. I might have never given this yarn a second thought (or try) and most likely would've side-eyed the I-cord yarn element. So I surprised even myself to discover that I really enjoyed knitting with this yarn. If the Canadian dollar ever gets better (although, it's doing much better now than a few months ago, that's for sure!), I would love to purchase another kit because the more I look at it, the more I want the White-Brown kit...yeah, yeah...I know, I said I have no earth tones in my wardrobe, but this is SO pretty!! And I would love to knit the Arabella Shawl in the Dogwood colourway. It's so stunning! 

If you would like to give the Moon Shawl knitting kit a try, or would like to know more information about Skeino, please check out the following links:



:: Shawl Details ::
Pattern: Moon Shawl by Skeino
Yarns: Skeino Moon Yarn
Colours: Black-Silver
Needles: Hiya Hiya Sharps Interchangeable Circulars in 8mm (US 11)
Ravelry Link: MisoCraftyKnits Moon Shawl





:: Disclaimer ::
I am not affiliated with the company mentioned in this post. I received no monetary compensation for my review. I was sent a knitting project kit for review purposes in exchange for the possibility of posting a review. The wording and opinions I've written are my own and I will not be receiving any commissions from the links provided in this post.


Friday, May 27, 2016

Stash Dash 2016


Today is the first day of Stash Dash!! For those of you who don't know what Stash Dash is, it's an annual event hosted by The Knit Girllls where, for the next few months, you make a virtual dash to use up as much as your stash as possible and/or finishing some WIPs. You're allowed to knit, crochet, weave, and spin (I believe there are other crafts you can do, but these are the only ones I know of at the top of my head) and there are several different levels that you can participate in, from 3k (that's 3000 metres or 3280 yards) to 15k (15,000 metres or 16,404 yards) - and yes, that's referring to how much yarn you use up during this time. 

The rules are super easy and flexible, to learn more about it all check out the Stash Dash thread on The Knit Girllls Ravelry group page here. And when I say easy and flexible, I mean stupidly easy and flexible. We're talking you can use any yarn that enters your house, even if it's during Stash Dash. You could have knit up a bunch of WIPs and then saved binding them all off for the start of Stash Dash and ALL that yarn that you used for them will STILL count. Heck, you can even rip back a few rows and then knit them back up and yes, all that yarn will still count too. Don't like the WIPs you're knitting? Casting on new projects during Stash Dash is A-OK too. And get this, this year you can count the total amount of yarn used if you hold it doubled! When it comes down to it, it's all about you and what you're comfortable with. You don't even have to make an official announcement as to which level you want to "compete" in until the last minute, just in case you have no idea what level you really can achieve. I just might be in that category. While I would love to attempt the 7k, the 5k seems more do-able, yet my hands may only want to do the 3k. My plan is to wait a few day before Stash Dash ends before I post my "finish line" level.

Even though I attempted to knit a few stitches here and there (ok...and maybe a few wee rounds) throughout the week, I've been letting my hands rest for the majority of the time. I'm hoping I can get a good chunk of knitting accomplished this weekend, like I did last weekend (and am sort of paying the price for now). It all really depends on the hands. But to hold myself accountable, here is my game plan for Stash Dash:

Finish Islay cardigan
Finish both Breathing Space tunics
Knit a baby item using a skein of fingering weight yarn (approx. 366 metres/400 yards)
Knit something that will eat up all 988m (1080yds) of the Patons Classic Wool Roving that has been languishing in my stash since 2010 but can't seem to give away.


There are more WIPs that I'd like to finish for the Dash, such as my Exploration Station and possibly the almost 5-year old Dahlia cardigan, but I don't want to put too much pressure on myself and most importantly, my hands. So I'll play it by ear.  

And so it begins...ready, set, DASH!! 


Are you participating in Stash Dash? What's your goal?





Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Knit In Progress: Momster & Kids


A super dear friend of mine donated a few hand knitted items to my son's school's year-end auction fundraiser (that's a mouthful). One of the items was a super cute Daphne and Delilah the Momma and Baby Monster stuffies set, which the Kiddo promptly fell in love with (along with the Star Wars Stormtrooper baby blanket that she had knitted up. You can view the photo of these items on my Instagram here). The Kiddo honestly couldn't get over just how cute and tiny Delilah was, and loved the idea that she fits perfectly in the pocket of the mommy monster. In fact, the Kiddo loved the stuffies so much that he actually asked if I could knit him a set!!   

Jaw. Dropped.

The Kiddo rarely asks me to knit him anything! Shocked, surprised, so many emotions flowed over me. My heart almost exploded when he started to go through a pile of yarn that I had by the coffee table, trying to pick out colours that he thought each stuffie should be. Before I got too excited over his request though, I had to make sure that he truly wanted these before I cast on anything. So I showed the Kiddo all the knitted toys Rebecca Danger has on her Ravelry designer page (and hoping he doesn't change him mind for something way more time consuming or elaborate!!) and he was quite persistent that no other monster would do. He definitely had his heart on Daphne and Delilah.

Alrighty then.

I pulled out a bunch of yarns and leftovers and let the Kiddo go at it. He decided that the Mommy monster should be out of Caterpillargreen Yarn Concrete and Tulips (it was a "seconds" skein, so it's a little different from what you would buy from the website), and the babies should be from leftover Knit Picks Felici and Regia Fluormania. And yes, I said babies. Plural. The Kiddo thought the baby would get lonely and didn't like the idea that it would have no one to play with, and so it should have a sibling. An older sibling. Since the Kiddo constantly talks about having a brother or sister, he was sure to point out that single kids "get lonely with no one to play with them". Le sigh. Kids...

Anyhoo...I had cast on Daphne and managed to get her knitted up within a few days. I'm sure if my hands were feeling better I'd be able to get her done faster. Not that it would have made a difference since it has been days since the knitting has been finished and I have yet to sew her together (which, admittedly, I'm sort of dreading). And it took me a while to find my stash of safety eyes. 

As it stands today, I still haven't sewn Daphne together. I know eventually I'm going to have to bite the bullet and just do it. But for now I'm going to procrastinate for as long as I can. After all, I still have the babies to knit up (and then sew...but baby steps here...baby steps...). 


I had cast on the legs for the first baby and started knitting them together, but then frogged back to separate them when I realized that I didn't want two different coloured legs. The Kiddo loved the idea that the baby looked like it was wearing "pants" on the original set so I thought I would try for that look too. I'm in no hurry to get the babies done anyways because I discovered that I didn't have any smallish safety eyes within my stash and had to order some online. Not to mention that my hands are currently not loving the idea of knitting with tiny yarn on tiny needles.

So far this project has been an enjoyable knit. It's quite a bit more fiddly than I'm used to in a knit but I take solace in knowing that all these ends will get hidden away inside the stuffie. The pattern itself is pretty straight forward but I did do a few mods and plan to make another on the babies. On the mommy monster I had cast on the legs using the typical (and called for in the pattern) long tail cast-on and joined in the round. I wasn't loving how the ends looked and how there was still a small little hole, regardless of how tight I pulled on the yarn to get it to close. I ended up having to go in there and sew them closed with the tail. So for the arms I tried out the Pinhole cast-on (tutorial by Tin Can Knits here) and loved the outcome. I think it will be my new go-to cast on method for anything closed and in the round. 

I also changed how the stitches were picked up for the pocket on the mommy. Instead of going through a leg of a stitch in a row of stitches, I opted to pick up and knit from between the stitches (like in this tutorial by Ysolda). Honestly, there's no right or wrong way to do this, I just prefer the look of going between the stitches.

The one thing that I absolutely didn't like: the decreases on the head. The first time around, I didn't even notice and had bound off all the stitches. When I flipped the monster inside out I saw how wonky and gaping the decreases looked. I thought I could jimmy the stitches closer together by tugging at the stitches and evening them out. Yeah, didn't work. I got so annoyed by them that I ended up ripping out the 3-needle bind-off and frogging the decreases. I was super careful with how I was knitting the decreases but no matter what I did there was still a gapping hole. Grrr...I got to a point where I just decided to say "screw it!" and bound off the stitches again. I went onto Ravelry to see if anyone else had issues with the head decreases and discovered that I wasn't alone. It wasn't me, it was the nature of the stitches and how they were placed. A lot of knitters opted to knit a stitch between the two sets of decreases to eliminate the gap. Duly noted. I will try this with the babies.

I keep telling myself, "this is just a toy...this is just a toy...no one, especially the Kiddo, is going to notice the decreases on the head...just breathe!". For once, I'm actually listening to myself!! So while I'm not in a hurry to finish this project, the Kiddo has been patiently waiting. The safety eyes are due to arrive this weekend so I'm using that as a sort of deadline. I plan on giving my hands a break from knitting these next few days but I'm hoping to get at least the knitting finished by the end of the week. I'll worry about the sewing up later...




Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Knit In Progress: Islay


Back in April I saw on Instagram and Facebook that Gudrun Johnston had released a beautiful new cardigan pattern called Islay (named after an island on the west coast of Scotland). I fell in love with it immediately. I loved it so much that I kept the Ravelry pattern page open on my browser for days. I would stare at the photos wistfully, wishing I was knitting it now, but knew I had no right casting on a new project - especially when I already had two other garments on the needles. How am I suppose to get anything done around here if I keep casting on new projects? Not to mention that my hands still aren't feeling 100% (more like 50%) and so I don't see any knitting marathons happening any time soon. So why should I even consider casting on another garment?  

Hmmm...

Well, you know how it is. Anyhoo, fast forward a few days (weeks?) later and Gudrun Johnston announces that she's going to host an Islay KAL. I'm not sure if this is the Universe's way of telling me that it's ok, I should cast on this cardigan or if I'm simply grasping at straws trying to find reasons to cast on this cardigan. I'm going to say it's probably a little bit of both. Regardless, since this is me talking here and I'm seemingly the most indecisive person on the planet, I had to overthink think about whether or not if I should join the KAL and if this would just be putting unnecessary stress and pressure on myself. And would I be causing harm to my hands by forcing myself to knit this cardigan up in a month...when I have a lot of other things that are also hand-intensive. 

The cardigan and the KAL weighed on my mind for what seems like eternity. Finally I decided, what the heck, why not? The supposed deadline of July 1st was more for those who wanted to be in the running for the grand prize. I, on the other hand, just wanted a reason to cast on the cardigan. It's amazing how much I can stress myself out by overthinking things! Which brings me to another matter that I had to overthink: yarn choices. Colour choices, to be more exact.

I wanted to knit from stash (even though I was really tempted to purchase some SweetGeorgia Yarns Superwash Sport from my LYS, as I have yet to try that base from the SGY lineup), and have a very limited amount of sport weight in sweater quantities. No matter what I knit, I usually have a ton of yarn leftover, so this eliminated a few yarns. In the end I came out of the stash with some Bugga by Cephalopod Yarns and some BFL by Blue Moon Fiber Arts. I was completely undecided about which colour to chose (surprise, surprise). In the end I went with the Bugga in the super stunning Charaxes Tiridate colourway:


This colour is so rich, so saturated that I had a hard time trying to pick up the gorgeous tidbits of tonal colouring within it. Once in a while I'll get a flash of a lighter blue, kind of like a deep cyan, and those are my favourite bits to knit up. I think it just adds so much depth and interest. Hence why I love knitting with hand-dyed tonals for garments.

So far the yarn has been a delight to knit with, it's slightly crunchy but that's due to the dye. I've only ever knit with Bugga once before this project, and that was for a shawl (I just searched for the post about this shawl and realized that I have not blogged about it!! Yikes!!) and once it was washed and blocked the yarn really softened up and felt incredibly silky and cuddle-y. I haven't been able to knit too much on this cardigan due to my hands and because my Kiddo has requested that I knit him something (!!! YESSSS!!!). So as of today I'm about 3.5" into this bottom up cardi. I'm hoping my hands will be up to the challenge of putting in some serious work on this knit over the weekend, which also happens to be a long weekend. On top of that, the Kiddo has a Pro-D day on Friday. I highly doubt I'll be able to get much work done with him around. So glad that knitting is portable!!

I really can't say too much about the pattern at the moment since I don't have much knit up, but if it's anything like Gudrun's other patterns then I can safely say it'll be nothing but a wonderful knitting experience. The one and only other pattern I've ever knit of Gudrun's was Audrey in Unst, which is hands down one of the best patterns I've ever knit from. Seriously. Gudrun knows how to write a very thorough, well-written pattern and thought out every single detail for you without confusing you with excessive and massive blocks of text. Audrey was such a joy to knit that it made me look forward to knitting up Islay.  

To keep up with my cardigan progress you can check out my Instagram feed, but I'll make sure to pop in from time to time and post updates here when I've actually got some more knitting accomplished!

In the meantime, Happy Knitting Friends! 




Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Balance


Over the past few days, when I wasn't scratching my eyes out or when I wasn't fighting to keep myself awake (stupid sinuses!!), I have been having this overwhelming need to do craft activities that don't involve knitting. Since my hands have been feeling a little sore lately I thought I would give in to these crafty urges. Why not, right? The thing is, I had no idea what kind of crafting I wanted to do. Should I sew? Should I bake? Should I try cross-stitching again? What about some sort of paper craft? What?? I had no clue.

So I figured first things first: I should go through my sewing and crafting supplies and check out what I had on hand. Yeah...doing such a thing made me realize that I really needed to do some serious KonMari action in my sewing closet. Yikes! That first day was spent pulling stacks of boxes and piles of bags out of the closet. Which was probably a good thing as I discovered that I had an insane amount of foam brushes (why? Your guess is as good as mine) and that all of my glues had either dried up or solidified. I should still go through all these boxes and bags, as I'm sure there's more stuff that probably is no longer good and/or usable, or stuff that I most likely don't need to purchase any more of (like foam brushes). 

Nothing amongst my crafting supplies really piqued my interest, but as I was going through a massive pile of papers (seriously, paper clutter is my numero uno nemisis!!) I found a printed off pattern for a quilt block. Hmmm... Then I came across another pattern for a quilt that I've been wanting to make but think is too advance for my beginner quilter skills. And then I came across yet another pattern for a quilt that I've been dying to make, and conveniently have all the fabrics for, but didn't have the confidence to sew up just yet. Double hmmm... It seems that my crafting interests are veering towards my first true crafty love: sewing.

Again, I went through my supplies and fabrics to see what I had to work with, seeing how a few of these projects involved scraps. It's funny how much time you can spend arranging and rearranging tiny pieces of fabric trying to come up with colour combinations and print placements. Then I realized that my supply of rotary cutter blades was dangerously low. So Michaels I went. I'm only mentioning this quick trip to Michaels simply because it actually was a quick trip. Get this: I went to Michaels and left with ONE item - the item I had intended to get!! Crazy, right? Normally I walk up and down the aisles (BIG mistake!), ponder if I need a skein of Thick & Quick for something (I usually don't), ohh and ahh over scrapbook paper items (even though I don't scrapbook), and try to convince myself that I don't need a quarter of the items in the baking department. 

Although, I did spy jars of Mod Podge that I was extremely tempted to pick up. Back in the day (like, back, back, back in the day...high school days, to be exact), I used to sit at the kitchen table at my parents' house and for hours pour over magazines (mainly fashion) and catalogs (remember Delia's, anyone?) and put together endless collages in my sketchbooks. Soon I was covering any surface that my parents would let me cover. My most favourite item that I Mod Podged was an unused Kaboodles case (remember when Kaboodles were such a huge thing?) that I meticulously covered in Archie comics. Growing up, I was a massive fan and avid reader of Archie comics and had accumulated quite the collection of Double Digests. I had tediously gone through every.single.comic.book to find my favourite comic strips. It was a lot of work, but sooooo satisfying. I still have that case today (if you want to see it, check out this super old post).  

Anyhoo, back to the sewing. Before I started my first attempt at paper foundation piecing, I had to fiddle with my bobbin tension a little and so I started a super simple mug rug made from fabric selvedges that I've been saving for years. I didn't have any proper quilting batting but I did have some heat-resistant insulation padding stuff (why? Good question) and decided to just use it. It was quite therapeutic to sew those strips together with no real action plan to adhere to. That's when I realized that it has been YEARS since I've done any selfish sewing. Yeah, I've made project bags but the ones that I've kept for myself were the rejects. Ok, except for one of the Halloween themed ones...that one was too cool to pass up. But otherwise, I did absolutely NO sewing for myself. Nothing. The more I stitched away on that mug rug, the more I gave it some thought and then came to a conclusion: I didn't have any balance when it came to my sewing. I didn't sew for me. Just project bags and garment alterations for others (which I completely detest doing). Then for the longest time I hated sewing and even hated being behind my sewing machine. I dreaded having to make more project bags. The fun was zapped out of me. I was burnt out. I was unhappy. Every time I even thought about sewing something for me, I was overcome with feelings of guilt. Like I had no right to sew for myself when I had customer requests, custom orders to fill, a shop to stock, and garments to hem.

Towards the end of the mug rug, I was still dealing with feelings of guilt. But you know what? My love of sewing was slowly coming back to me. I was actually experiencing feelings of joy about using my sewing machine. When I finished the main part of the mug rug, I decided to move onto the paper foundation piecing project (which was great fun...and quite the learning experience for me!).

Left: Mug Rug fun!  ::  Right: #lovewins block
Images taken with my phone

Sewing up the Love Wins quilt block was not only a learning experience, but also a therapeutic one. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. I wish I could say that when I was finished sewing the block top that the feelings of guilt went away. They didn't. But I was starting to enjoy sewing again. And to me, that's a HUGE step in the right direction. 

Moral of the story: You need to find balance. In everything you do.

Now I just need to remember this. Constantly. I'm looking into getting my serger serviced so that I can maybe whip up a few summer dresses. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to hand sewing the binding on my mug rug and finding a fun fabric for the back of my block. AND I've got a handful of project bags in the works!

Wow. Sewing. Welcome back into my life, old Friend.




Friday, May 6, 2016

A Spring #CraftyBlissChallenge :: Recap

A few favourites of my own photos for the challenge!

The Spring #CraftyBlissChallenge on Instagram ended just last weekend and now

First though, 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. I had so much fun scrolling through all the photos and seeing everyone's interpretations of each prompt. Since Julie and I have done this challenge before we kind of had an idea of what to expect. We were pretty excited to discover that 83 people had finished the challenge from start to finish!! Wow!! There were a few who joined in on the fun late, and a few who admitted that they couldn't continue on because...well, life happens. And that's ok! I'll admit that I had to double check my days quite a few times too!

I really hope that those who did the challenge and those who followed along have been inspired, have found news ways to look at things, and possibly found others that they like to follow on Instagram. I know I was definitely inspired, in awe, and at times felt very touched by what some of the participants had posted. A few even brought tears to my eyes as the stories behind the photos were just so moving!

Here's a refresher on what the daily prompts were for this Spring round of the challenge:


I don't know how others felt about it but for me this round required a little more thought per prompt. Nothing stressful or anything like that, but more like how was I going to fit in the beautiful view I see every day into one photo for the Skyscape prompt? How was I going to convey what my Favourite Treasure is when it's not something you can see and without sounding like a huge cheeseball? I really had to think outside the box and outside of my usual comfort levels for some of the prompts. At the top of this post is a collage of some of my favourite photos that I contributed to the challenge. Even though I love a good flat lay photo (who doesn't? They're just so pleasing to look at!), at least half of my photos were candid. My favourites were really bold and strong in colour...and reminded me that I really should start knitting hexipuffs again for my Beekeeper's Quilt. But let's not get into that today...

Ahem.

Anyhoo...I truly loved the fact that no one felt compelled to make every photo knitting or even craft related. While there were quite a number of knitting related photos (with prompts like Making Progress On how could there not be?) I thoroughly enjoyed the ones that had nothing to do with knitting but still had so much creativity and/or meaning behind them. Or were just downright beautiful or cool, like the gorgeous sunset photo and the reflection of a sunset in the sunglasses (SO cool!!) in the first collage below. 

I wish I could post all of the photos shared in the challenge here on the blog, but you'll just have to check out the #CraftyBlissChallenge hashtag feed for that, but here's a few that really caught my eye:




Out of all the prompts, I'm ReadingSkyscape, and Reflection were my favourites. I added a lot of titles to my "to-read" list, including the hilariously named The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*uck, a parody of Marie Kondo's best seller book that I'm pretty sure everyone has read, praised, recommended to others, and most likely tried to do in their own life (I know I have). So funny!

I follow a lot of knitters, crafters, foodies, and nail polish lovers so I usually see what's being created or a lot of hands (like, a lot), so I found it really interesting to see where everyone was from in the Skyscape prompt. For some reason I figured everyone was from my area and a few scattered around Toronto, so I was surprised and utterly delighted to see images from San Francisco to Las Vegas to Paris to Scotland! Amazing!! I had no idea! Another reason why I love Instagram so much.

The Reflection prompt brought on all the feels. I don't know how many people stopped to read the story and comments behind the photos, but it was touching to read so many heartfelt moments, thoughts, and raw honesty being shared. I usually see snapshots of knitting, crafts, food, and manicures in my IG feed and rarely see what people do outside of their crafting so to catch a small glimpse of someone's life outside all that was interesting and at times, I felt honoured that someone would let me see that. So thank you to those who shared those intimate moments! 

Now that the challenge is over I find myself still trying to think outside the box and be more creative with my photos. I've realized that I truly am all about the knitting and coffee. It's not a bad thing, but I really should get out more! Or at least try other forms of creating! 

Like the last challenge, 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 amazing Caterpillargreen Yarns and The Blue Brick have each offered a skein of beautiful yarn as prizes!! The winners have been picked and they are:

@spirittrailfiberworks - Julie will be in touch with you
@k_express - look out for an Instagram direct message from me!

Thank you so much to all of the participants of this challenge!! We hope you had fun 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!! 




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