Sunday, December 21, 2014

Another One Bites The Dust

I finished it! I finished the sweater!

I even had time to block it. Can I tell you how great it was to have it fully finished and blocked and still have a full day before the party where I was giving it away?

AND IT FIT! It fit her perfectly. I was very happy about that. It looks great on her. And she seemed to like it.

I need to get a proper photoshoot of it, somewhere with light, but it's done and the pattern is written. Good photos and a test are all that's missing. Yay! That can wait until the new year. For now, I'm down to 16 projects already, and the new year hasn't even started.

I also blocked out my critron, which really improved it. I still don't want it, but now it looks much nicer for whoever gets it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Despite a still dreary, dark world out there and a cold I'm fighting off, I've actually made progress on my resolution!
I wanted to start with the easy stuff to get that early satisfaction of finishing stuff off, and to knock a few things off the list that have been in progress for... longer than I'd care to admit. Some of them still need blocking, but hey- baby steps.

My critron. I was going to make it double this size (ha!) but each row was taking about 20-30 minutes at this point, and I don't love it now like I did when I started. I just did a few more rows of the last ruffle and finished. It needs a serious blocking, and then I'll probably give it away.

This was going to be a cape, but I did the weirdest shaping and it was turning out terribly. I could have made it a nicer cape now, but I just decided I didn't want to bother any more. I pulled apart the weirdest join I've ever done and just added a scarf to the hood. Andrew says I look like some kind of elf, which I can live with. No idea what I'll do with this.

This was originally going to be my veil, then I decided I didn't like the pattern or the choice of yarn (cotton for a veil? Nope!) so it was going to be a shawl. But I wasn't really loving it, so I just finished off the row. I'll block it and it can be a table decoration or something.

That's all the finished stuff for now, but I've made some real progress on other projects, too.

This is the Christmas present sweater for my best friend. I finally finished the collar and have now moved on to sleeves. Here's hoping I don't have to pull them out 3 times like I did the collar. This also clearly needs some blocking, but that will wait until the whole thing is done. The goal is to have it done for the Christmas party I'm hosting on Saturday. Totally do-able!

I'm a little bit in love with this sweater. I'm completely deviating from my original plan and I love it. Since it's tunisian, I can do traditional fair isle-style colourwork. Yes please!
I was working on it at a gathering this weekend and people kept asking if it was for a kid. No way, this colour scheme might be a bit young but it is all for me!

I love the vivid hearts and am having so much fun. I'm gonna do another row of the little hearts, then a bit of geometric shape stuff, then maybe another heart row and a few hearts going up the front of the cardigan from here. Who knows- at this point, I'm just having fun with it!

I hope you're all staying as cheerful as you can in this dark, cold time of year (well, for us Northern Hemisphere folks anyhow). Happy holidays, all!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Early Resolutions

First, this is the new vase my lovely best friend got me for Christmas, sitting on top of the gorgeous end table my brother in law made us. So many handmade things are starting to appear in our house! I love it.

And some wip stuff- this is the cardigan I've been designing, and also the Christmas present of said friend. I finally finished the body, now I'm on to the collar. Then all that's left will be the sleeves and sewing on the closures! I want to finish it for her for actually Christmas, because it means I can also get the testing started. I'm really excited about publishing this one.

This is the insane fingering weight cardi I've been making myself for what seems like a million years. No pattern on this one, although I really ought to write more of these. Still, it's just nice to have a cardi where I can plod about a little aimlessly and not worry too much. I'm really happy with how it's turning out, and I can't wait to see it finished.

This is what inspired me to write a post today, though. Well, not that mess above. It was actually this pin I spotted today. I wanted to see what it would look like if I took a picture of all my wips. All of them.

It looks like this big mess! Sure, some of them are hibernating... but it's still too much. So my resolution, starting now (no time like the present!) is to get down to only 7 wips. I don't mind having lots of wips, but there are 20 (plus one different kind of project) and that's too many even for me.

So here they are numbered, and here's the plan of action:
#1- my critron! I was going to make this huge, but it is teeny yarn and sloooow going. I haven't worked on it in ages, I don't really want to work on it. I'll finish a few more rows then end it as a small shawlette. Giving it away.
#2- laceweight cardigan, what was I thinking. I want to make some serious progress on this. Even if I don't finish it this year, I want to at least get several inches done and importantly, pull out the old cardigan so the second ball of yarn is ready.
#3- Hood. It was going to be a cape, but I'm going to add a quick scarf to it and call it done. Giving it away.
#4- Neon socks. These I've barely started, but they're a quick project.
#5- Heart sweater. It's a pretty tunisian project and I'd like to start it up again. It's going to have colourwork hearts on it.
#6- Drape front cardi. I'm working on this all the time, so it'll be finished soon!
#7- This is a tablecloth my great grandmother made. It's now stained and dirty, with lots of holes. My mom gave it to me to repair, so it's a different kind of project and something I'll just get to one day.
#8- My doily project. It's a long term thing, so I'm not too worried.
#9- Baseball tee! I'm going to bring this on vacation. I'm so psyched to have this finished object, though it's not the most fun to work on.
#10- This was going to be my veil originally. Now I think I'll just finish it and have it as a nice table centrepiece.
#11- This is a shawl I'm making my cousin, and I'd like it to be part of her wedding gift. She's getting married next year.
#12- This is an insane top I pull out once in awhile. I'll be bringing it on vacation too.
#13- I started this shrug as a store sample and just bought the yarn and took it home when the store closed. So I'll be finishing it some day soon.
#14- This is a shawl I'm also excited to finish because it will be simple and cozy and warm
#15- These are totally crazy shorts that I'm not sure I'll ever finish.... but they're fun.
#16- This is the cardigan I'm making my friend, so hopefully it'll be done within the next 2 weeks.
#17- I have to get back to this cardigan! It's going to be great.
#18- This is just a plain granny scarf I'm just working on for fun. I'm not too worried about when it gets done.
#19- This is the fake chainmail I'm making for a costume to wear next year for con season. It just needs to be a bit long and have long sleeves. It's on a huge hook, so it'll be quick.
#20- I've been making this blanket forever. I need to make 7 more large squares, and then it should be a reasonable size. No more motif blankets!
#21- The dress I wanted to wear to my big brother's wedding last year. I ended up deciding spending the time with my nephews would be a better idea, so I just want to finish it to wear this year! It's already a long tank, so it won't be too much longer.

Alright... wish me luck!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Long, Dark Month

Hello my hooky people. Apologies for the absence. It's been a long month for me. There's been some bad news and discouraging job hunting, but it's mostly just been one of those months where it doesn't quite matter what happens, you're gonna be a bit bummed out. Thanks, brain!
I've gotten a lot of crochet done, though. As usual, my yarn always cheers me up immensely!

This is a little baby jacket I made for a friend and fellow crafter who's having a little girl. I was sooo excited to make something pinky and ruffly!

And putting little heart elbow patches on was irresistible. I have this pattern written up, I just need to get to testing it.

These legwarmers were inspired by all the knitted neutral legwarmers I kept seeing on Pinterest. I love them, but since knitting needles and I are not bffs, slip stitch came to the rescue. I'm pretty happy with the way the calf increases went- I like the look they have that reminds me a bit of knotty wood.

This hat is my new favourite! I took the awesome pattern, and modified it so that it used slip stitches instead of sc, and added a blo slip stitch ribbed edge. The pompom is from the notions market in Shanghai, and it's real rabbit fur, which makes it soooo soft!

I am super excited about this cheerful project. I'm making a series of doilies in rainbow colours, then I'm going to mount and hang them. I'm not quite sure how, but I'm thinking either embroidery hoops or canvases painted a nice slate grey.

Either way, I'm excited to make doilies which I find quite fun, and excited about the colours. I love rainbows. This yarn is from a new yarn/fabric shop in my neighborhood, which is also quite exciting. They don't carry a lot of fun yarn- baby stuff and a bit of basic wool- but it's really nice to have something in walking distance. They do have some pretty nice crochet cotton, as you can see!
I also got a whole boatload of white #20 cotton to do snowflakes. I have this grand multiple year plan that will eventually result in a pretty garland of tons of different kinds of snowflakes.

These socks were done for a test, and I love the pattern. It's very clever- I was amazed by how the cables were done, and she had the most clever method for seaming blo ribbing.
I got the gauge wrong, so these are a bit too tight for me. I'm gonna make another pair for me with a few mods- I prefer alternating rows of f/iB slip stitch on the sole to get a nice flat and untextured sole, and I'll do the heel in sl st instead of sc because I just like it better. I'll also make them taller, because I'm a big fan of nice and tall socks.

And these pretties are my most recent project! I love these mitts, they're going to be so warm. They're double stranded and 100% alpaca. Yum. The fabric biases a bit, so unfortunately I should have made the top increases on a slightly different angle; blocking helped, and I'm hoping that will correct itself with wear.
Still, my old mitts were getting ragged and holey, so it's nice to have a new pair!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Up To Something

Lately, I've been pulling out a lot of projects that I started, did a small amount of work on for about one day, then never entered into Ravelry and let languish.
The pink shawl above (Leaflines) is a good example. Did the first 10 or so rows, put it aside and forgot about it for months. Finally I pulled it out. Now it's finished and waiting to be blocked.

This stash buster baby blanket is another. It's just a simply basketweave to use up this pretty but boring acrylic I had in my stash. I knocked it off the list, too.

But that's not the only kind of project I've done. This hat is two of my handspun yarns. While I was in China, I kept thinking about combining them. I didn't really have enough of either for much of a project, and I thought the thick and thin blue merino would compliment the pink silk nicely. I'm pretty happy with it, though having trouble finding shawls and scarves in my collection to go with the colours. They're much more bold together than I expected.

This is my Pinterest silk scarf. The main leaf pattern is a chart I saw posted, and the edging was a picture that promised a link to a chart but lead nowhere. So I sat down and charted it out. I'm reasonably happy with it- I made a note or two of things I'd do differently if I followed it again, but the scarf itself is a pretty, decorative little thing and I quite like it. It was a nice travel project.
I looove the yarn colour, too. That almost-turquoise blue is one of my favorites.

This shawl I am very proud of. It's something I mostly did while I was in China. It's such a simple pattern, but the edging took some serious fidgeting and frogging. I still might have changed it a wee bit if I went back, but on the whole I just love it. The shape is great- if you wear it on your shoulders, it just nicely covers your upper arms. As someone with perpetually cold upper arms, I'm very happy about that.

Now I need to write up the pattern. I intend to have this pattern for sale soon, I just need to put it through some testing. The nice thing about it is that I figured it out for basically any yarn weight- the edging can be repeated after a set number of rows, and after that it can be added after a repeating number of rows. So you can add it the first time after so many rows, and then you have the chance to add it every 20 rows after. So theoretically you can make it as big as you want.
I'm pretty excited about it, and some of the other patterns I've got coming up. Now to do the hard part and get to work!

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Yarnilicious Return

So I've been home a few weeks now, and it's been so great to pick up my life again. I missed my friends a lot while I was gone, not to mention my home and my stuff and, ya know, my husband.
It's nice to have a husband again. It's really nice. I didn't realize quite how much I missed having people to talk to until I had them again.
It's been crazy since I've gotten back, with parties and pub nights and getting my house all scrubbed and nice and starting job applications. I got to see the nephews at a family party last weekend, and I see them again tomorrow. I didn't quite realize how much I missed them until I got to see them again. All my stories are about them. My poor friends who don't like kids have suffered through my first weeks back.

I've been on a total baking spree the last few days. It started with meringues, then I did some apple chips, then chai spiced pear applesauce, and a ton more apple chips. Sadly, my last batch of apple chips burnt but I have another in the oven right now. I'm almost prepared for Thanksgiving and very excited to go up to the family cottage and spend time with the family. This includes both my darling little monkeys and my brother and sister in law, who for some reason usually don't make it, and some good yarn time with my dad's cousin's wife, a most excellent knitter. 
But I still have stuff to do, so I'm going to stop babbling and leave you all with pictures of the yarn I got in China.

Here it is in all it's glory- all the yarn I got.

Here is the naked picture of samples of almost all of the yarn.

The grey at the bottom and the teeny cone above it are my cashmere. Drool. You hold the little cone alongside the big one as you work, it adds strength to the garment. I can't wait to make a sweater. Now I just have to decide what type of sweater I want.
The blue and white on the right side are pretty wool fingering weight yarn. I'm going to make a tunisian colourwork sweater with a snowflake pattern using that yarn. I am very excited about it.

On the left are the shiny pretty lurex sparkle cones I got. I'm going to hold them alongside other yarns for shawls. It'll be so pretty! The variegated blue is dk weight yarn I'm going to use for a baby sweater. The two cones at the bottom, the yellow and grey, are things I ordered on Taobao. They're not quite what I expected, but they're very soft and pretty. I was hoping to have enough for a sweater but I'm not sure I do (I have about 350 g of grey and 100g of yellow). Oh well, I can always make a pretty shawl with those colours.

And here you can see the pink and grey I showed last post, as well as some of the nice plain grey dk/worsteds I bought. The fluffy white is the free yarn I got on my big yarn adventure with the Shanghai knitters, and the pink is the gorgeous silk I got the same day.

I also took some pictures of my latest projects, but that will have to wait for another post. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hello From Shanghai

It's been a busy month for me. Well, I don't think busy quite covers spending every day with a 2 year old and a 3.5 year old. Crazy. Exhausting. Repetitive. Cute.

China has been good. Tiring. It's difficult when you only speak 10 words of the language. Even though I'm just with the boys most of the time, my sister-in-law's mother is here and while her English is much better than my Mandarin, we don't have a common language.
Still, it's been good. And there are yarn stores. Walking distance. And incredibly cheap online shopping. It's been very tempting. This grey and pink I got almost as soon as I arrived as a birthday present from my brother and sister in law. My brother and I wandered out to the shops one night and he got me this.
It says it's wool/silk/cashmere, but it clearly has some nylon in it. Still, it's so soft and lovely.

I'm making a shawl with it. I'm not done the first two balls and it's already quite big. I'm striping the body, then using a third ball to make a feather and fan edging in the pink.
I'm also writing up the pattern for it. It's quite simple, but something that can easily be worked in any weight yarn.
I went back to the shops and bought some more yarn- just simple grey worsted/dks to go with some of the brightly coloured stuff I have at home. Cardigans!

We took a trip to Inner Mongolia, and while shopping for wool stuff for sister-in-law's sister, we happened into a yarn store. I couldn't resist some cashmere. It's also in grey, and enough for a sweater. It came with 6 balls, and each has not only fine weight yarn to hold along for strength but also sewing thread weight yarn. It also came with knitting needles, not that I need them. It was 400 RMB, so about 70$. For a whole sweater. Yum. Also picked up some nice plain green wool to make my nephew some mittens. He's excited.

Then on the weekend I had my first day off! It was amazing. I met up with 4 Ravelers for a day trip. One of them had a van and driver and we set off to the warehouse of an online yarn store.
It was so much fun confusing the poor, kind driver with our weird yarn shopping, browsing the rather amazing warehouse, finding the bargains, spending time with English-speaking adults and not answering "why?" every five minutes.
I had a great day, and managed to be reasonable with my spending. You can see what I got above. The shiney lurex cones were only 5 RMB each (less than a dollar) and I am excited to hold them along with something to make a glitzy shawl. The fluffy white yarn they gave me for free because it was the last of something they decided was too sheddy. The stitch markers and snag fixer likewise were free.
The pink silk was my big thing- they made me a cone of 3 plys/400g- I'd say it's heavy laceweight, and it's so lovely. It was RMB 8/50g... so my whole cone was 64 RMB, or about 12$.

It was really hard not to buy more. Some of the other women got amazing cashmeres and merinos and just gorgeous stuff. The bargains, I tell you.
I really enjoyed the entire day, and I left with not only bargains but some new friends. They met up the next day too, but I had to help look after the boys, and I've been fighting a rather nasty cold off so one day just about did me in.

Well, it's time for bed. Little monkeys wake up early! Hopefully I'll have more yarny pictures next time.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Off on an Adventure

Life has been very, very busy for me lately, and this may be my last post for quite some time.
I've been preparing for a very big adventure.

Before I tell you all about it, I want to share what I've been working on lately.
This is my little sewing corner a week or two ago, preparing to make a bag. My poor plant has died already (I try, but I am just not good at plants), but I still love that corner. After my last apartment where I didn't have a table and had to sew on the coffee table, an area where I can lay out my cutting mat and sewing machine and have all my shelves of stuff behind is just so lovely.

This is my sewing project that day- a yarn bag! It's lovely, a bit bigger than planned but it holds a lot of stuff. I need to use a bit more yarn and get everything onto my shelves, then this will be turned into my wip basket.

I still had a scrap of leather from my purse, so I made a leather handle for it.

Here is the second ARG plushie for Andrew's second book kickstarter. He's hanging out with the first ARG since the guy who got ARG number one took a long, long time to decide on some of his rewards.
They aren't my favorite thing to make, but I do love how silly they are. It's fun to pose them!

This is a pair of socks I've been working on. They're awesome! They go all the way up to my calves. I like a good long pair of socks.

And here's the newest pair- started before finishing the old one, because last night at my knit night the three of us who bought Fluormania on the knit along started our crazy socks together. They are delightfully retina-searing.

This is just my luscious treat project. The yarn is a vivid tropical ocean blue, and it's 100% silk. I loved two stitch patterns I found on Pinterest- this one and this one. The first has a chart, but the second seems to have vanished off the internet. So I set about drawing out a chart combining the two.

I'm quite happy with the result. I can't wait 'til it's finished and blocked. It's going to be lovely.

Alright, now you're caught up on most of what I'm working on.
My big adventure starts next Tuesday, when I'll be flying off for 7 weeks in China! I'll be staying in Shanghai with my big brother, my sister in law and my two adorable nephews. I'll be visiting and helping look after the boys and who knows what else while I'm there.
I can't wait. I've gotten my ticket, my travel insurance, my visa, my vaccinations, a whole drug store worth of stuff I might need, my packing list is started, I've got a new sketchbook and even a list of what projects I should probably bring.
That is definitely tricky- I need to pack 7 weeks of crochet. I'm packing a lot of light weight stuff. Fingering and lace weight projects, for the most part. I'm also worrying a bit about books. My plan right now is to pack enough for the plane rides, and then just try checking out ebooks from the library on my laptop if I need something to read while I'm there. I thought about getting an ereader, but I don't really want one for every day so it seems a bit silly.

I can't wait. I'm excited and very nervous. I've been trying to learn a bit of Mandarin, so hopefully I will at least pick up a few more sentences while I'm there. I'm so excited to see my family again, especially the boys. I haven't seen them since January, and they are both under 4. They change so quickly! It will be so wonderful to get to know them so well while they're still very little. I can't wait for bedtime stories and snuggles and playing.
I hope you all have a wonderful rest of the summer, and perhaps I'll be able to make a post or two while I'm away. Now I'm going to enjoy a quiet day, my nice cup of tea and some Netflix and crochet.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

TTC Knitalong 2014

Yesterday I got to participate in the 2014 TTC Knitalong, which supports Sistering. It's a lot of fun- this is the second year I've gone.
I was on team Lace with a couple of friends- some I knew would be on my team, but there were some familiar faces among the people I didn't sign up with.

We went to 4 yarn stores around the city with our group before all the groups met up at the Rivoli afterwards for a few drinks and door prizes.

Our group started at the only shop I hadn't been to before, Passionknit.

It was a bit crowded with our whole group, but it's a lovely little store. All the staff were so nice, and they were sweet enough to give us a goody bag with a skein of yarn in it! I ended up buying a second skein in a different colour so I can make a shawl with it, and I also picked up a crochet hook I needed.

We had a great time pawing through all the gorgeous stuff- I was very, very tempted by some amazing 100% silk they had, but managed to stick on budget.

My friends Alia and Kara- Alia just came over and blocked her shawl at my (cat-free) apartment. Isn't it pretty?

The next shop was Creative Yarns out in Scarborough. The owner, Nina, is really nice and has a great sense of colour. Her shop is filled with great design/yarn combos to buy. They also had Kauni, which I haven't seen anywhere else in Toronto. I didn't see the EQ (rainbow) colourway, so I didn't get any, but it was nice to give it a feel.
Erin, Kara and I all bought the same yarn in the same colourway- an amazing neon striped sock yarn. We're planning on bringing it to knit night so we can all make the same socks at the same time. 'Cause we're cool kids.
There's also a delicious bakery next to Creative, so we stopped and got cheese pies to tide us over until lunch.

Here we are on the TTC, enjoying playing with yarn and chatting. This is my awesome groupie skills (a groupie being a selfie with a bunch of people).

The next shop is my favorite and my weakness. The Purple Purl is filled with things I want, including amazing yarn, tasty food and drink and so much colour. Oh how I love the colour.
Not to mention the owners, Jen and Miko, are just the nicest people. They are always friendly, helpful and make you feel welcome.

I knew my resolve would crumble, and after being so good in the first 2 shops I ended up buying a bunch here. Some plain grey Cascade 220 to go with some pink in my stash for a striped cardi, some amazing Liberty Wool Light which I plan on using to design a little baby sweater and a totally dreamy skein of turquoise Sweet Georgia Spun Silk Lace- my big splurge of the day. 100% silk, just gorgeous soft and slinky yarn. I can't wait to play with it.

Kara and I grabbed fish n chips at this awesome little hole in the wall that I used to go to when I worked in the east side. BnB Fish n Chips- yummy and served properly in newspaper.

Here is team Lace! We had an awesome team and great team captains who kept us on schedule and made it a very enjoyable day.

The last shop of our day was Romni Wools, which is a legend. I knew I'd end up buying some fun stuff here, because it's just too huge to not find something amazing!
They've been remodeling to make everything more open, and it looks great. Romni is enormous- I didn't take any pictures of the sale basement, because it's impossible to capture.

I wound up with two skeins of grey and pink angora from the basement (I'm thinking mittens) and from upstairs three skeins of Fleece Artist Knit East- one pink, one yellow, one pink/yellow variegated. Enough for a little cardigan!

After Romni, we made our way to the Rivoli where we promptly dumped our cumulative yarn purchases onto the table.
It's just so beautiful.

Here's my pile. I am so excited to start stitching!

It was a pretty big crowd, and a lot of fun. Everyone is so nice at the KAL!
Once the group had gathered, they went through and did prizes. Each group had 4 prize draws, then there was an enormous draw you could enter for a giant grand prize basket, then a prize for the person who bought the most, then a few draws for the last remaining prizes.

I won something!
That's right, the one prize of the day that is only for knitters... I won. It's an amazingly beautiful set of interchangeable needles, and I just about killed myself laughing when I found out what I'd won.

It was such a great day- it's a wonderful event, all the proceeds go to charity and the volunteers just do an excellent job making it a fun community event. I can't wait for next year, it's the 10th anniversary of the Knitalong, and I plan on being there!