Bottle Caps, Baby Blankets and #Playground Shawls: The Weekly Round Up

Knitters 4 the World

This week I wanted to feature a neat charity project by Age NI, a charity group that supports older people in Northern Ireland. One of their major fundraising event involves collecting knitted hats for smoothie bottles, and a portion of the proceeds going to Age NI for every hatted bottle sold.

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Dear Ireland Charities: could you BE more adorable?

The goal is 50 000 by the beginning of December and they have cute topper patterns available for knitters and crocheters on their website. It’s an adorable instant gratification project for a good cause – what more could you ask for?

Freshly Plucked Patterns

Knit Picks released a bunch of new indie patterns this week. My absolute favouriting being this gorgeous baby blanket by Kathleen Sperling. This is one of the patterns that makes my jaw go slack with awe. Love it.

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knitpicks.com

Also announced this week was Hygge (Knit Yourself Things You’ll Love to Wear).This mini collection is the first collaboration between Karie Westermann and Estelle Faust of Midwinter Yarns. Hygge is word that’s difficult to translate, but it roughly means “a feeling of comfort, cosiness, and happiness,” all of which sound delightful to me. You can pre-order the book on Ravelry now.

Favourite FO of the Week

This one has been all over my Instagram feed and with good reason! The #playground shawl by letesknits is everything you could want in a shawl and then some.

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Photo (c) letesknits

Knitting News From Around the Net

Well, we’ve another article that states learning to knit can make you happy to add to the pile. Fifteen years after the major knitting and crocheting resurgence in North American, spinning is now also reportedly making a comeback. A 3D knitting startup won $5 000 dollars in Michigan to continue their entrepreneurial venture. And finally a video of Melbourne artist, Casey Jenkins’ art installation piece entitled Vaginal Knitting (which is very much what it sounds like so click that link at your own discretion) went viral and sparked considerable disgust on social media. I’m very shocked. (I’m not.)

Random Things I Did This Week

I didn’t have all that great a week to be honest. I had some difficult therapy sessions, a migraine, a trip to the ER because I collapsed on the sidewalk with convulsions. Little time has been left for other things. I did write a piece on my health that I’m happy to report was picked up by The Coffeelicious. For more of my non-knitting related writing, you can check me out on Medium.

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The Weekly Round Up: Fall Twist Collective, knitting for black liberation and more

It’s been an interesting week! Here’s what caught my eye in the fibre world over the last 7 days.

Knitters 4 the World

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If you’ve ever knit in public, you may know how knitting can start conversations between two people that otherwise might never have spoken to one another. After the protests in Ferguson last year sparked a focus on policing in the US, The Yarn Mission was founded to continue the dialogue on race and police brutality. As a group they state their goal:

“use yarn to promote action and change to eradicate racism, sexism, and other systems of oppression.”

In a society where black women are often viewed as invisible, Taylor Payne says “knitting makes people stop and have a conversation with you. If someone asks me what I’m doing, I say, ‘I’m knitting for black liberation.” My personal admiration and congratulations, ladies. Keep up the great work.

Freshly Plucked Knitting Publications

This week *deep breaths* the Fall 2015 Twist Collective was released.
Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 8.49.21 AMThis issue celebrates 7 years of the twist collective. I’m a relatively new reader of the publication itself, but it’s quickly become one of my absolute favourites. Especially in the Fall issue, it’s 2 parts inspiring, 1 part cozy, 1 part I-want-to-crawl-into-the-pages-and-live-here. I won’t post any spoiler photos, but go. read. love.

Knitting News From Around the Net

This week Ysolda Teague interviewed Susan Crawford about her extraordinary Vintage Shetland Project which is a culmination of years of research into early 20th Century knitting in Shetland. Be sure to check it out!

What’s New with Queue?

My newest pattern crush is the Campside Cardi by Alicia Plummer. I mean look at it. Gor-ge-ous. Hopefully it’s something I’ll get to making this fall.

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Photo (c) Alicia Plummer 

Random Things I Did This Week

My brief foray into hair tutorials was done mostly for laughs, but if you are looking for a no-heat, no pain way to curl your hair overnight ragcurls are where it’s at. Caution: sass ahead.

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Step 1: wash your hair with some old anti-dandruff shampoo you found in the bathroom drawer. Aggressively towel dry it until you are bored. Contemplate the fact that you look closer to 16 than 24 while simultaneously wrangling your phone into taking a selfie.
Step 2: twist your hair up in rags that have been cut from your favourite childhood pj’s. Make dorky faces at yourself.
Step 3: go to sleep, with the lights on for some reason.
Step 4: undo the rags. Rock your new fragile curly hair. Beware humidity, for it is now your greatest and most powerful enemy.

Also this week I moved my things from my old apartment that I used to share with my boyfriend (sad) as well as belongings from  my temporary living situation for July all into my new place! My family and I were greeted with banana bread, help moving boxes, and cups of tea. Even the old tenant left me a message on the fridge to make me feel welcome.

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Follow me on Instagram for more stunning fridge magnet photography 😉 

I rearranged them to form a delta sign (delta, delta! Change is good!) and a heart. In the words of the little orphan Annie:

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Civic Holiday Knitting

Long weekends for me are for unplugging and taking a break from the world. A large group of us headed up to a cottage in Collingwood to hike, have fun at the beach, and spend some quality time together.

We learned some basics about philosophy…

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“Sorry Johnny, but Tao wasn’t exactly a person…”

Saw some wildlife from our porch:

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“One second, I’m counting.” – me, probably

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Because does it get any better than porch knitting?

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Well, there IS always beach knitting…
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Impromptu cardigan fitting session!

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On Sunday when the rain poured down, there was still lots to do!

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Cards + beer is always reliable.

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Catch Phrase! I still maintain that the girl’s team should have reigned supreme…

If you want to laugh until your sides hurt, may I recommend a round of Telestrations?

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I’m not sure what I loved more, the laughter or the variety of faces…

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A successful weekend without a doubt!

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How was your weekend?

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FO: Regency Blouse

It’s finished! It’s blocked! It’s been worn about town and deemed wearable! I’m still awash in shiny-new-FO love despite it being about two weeks old. It’s lasting a long time… normally I’m consider myself a process knitter and I really enjoyed the process of knitting this, but I fell in love a bit with the final product.
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I swear I love it, despite my awkward modelling…

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The neckline is a touch wider after blocking than I thought it would be, but it doesn’t slip off my shoulders so it works! I bought at least 1200 yards to make it but it took about 600 at most. Lots left over for a shawl in the future! I love the yarn – NBK l superwash merino in lavandula (great colourway name…) It’s a great summer top – warm enough for all but the warmest of days.

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I swapped out the picot bind off for a picot hem, which still lies flat and matches with the pattern but is a little more subtle. Other than that I didn’t change the pattern in any way. It’s the first project on Ravelry beyond the original one published in Jane Austen Knits, and I hope more people decide to make it. It’s a wonderfully clear pattern and the lace is surprisingly easy once you’ve done one repeat. If it’s your style, or someone in your life, I highly recommend making it!

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Surprising Travel Knitting – my Regency Blouse

My latest knitting project is a new summer top: Regency Blouse from Jane Austen Knits 2014.

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Look at that photograph…I was helpless…

Honestly, I’d fallen in love with it from the minute I bought the magazine last year, and the NBK superwash merino fingering weight that I picked up recently was the perfect match for it. I wanted something with subtle colour variation, spring-like, but not too outside of my comfort zone. The yarn knit up beautifully (please ignore the wonky swatching…I’d never seen blocking pins before…) and I was smitten with the combo of pattern and yarn from the get-go.

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No photograph really does the colourway justice, but I tried.

I picked up 1400 yards, because the pattern called for 1200 and I didn’t want to be under and run out when there was no hope of getting more in the same colourway. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen? Extra yarn in this beautiful colour? Not exactly what I’d call a problem…

Despite being a top, it’s deceptively simple, and once I got past the shoulder increases it was straight stockinette stitch for several inches, making it perfect to take on the train.

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My life is a walking advertisement for VIA Rail Canada.

All it now takes it one single stitch maker to mark the beginning of each round. And wouldn’t you know it? The stitch marker is also…purple.

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“I heard you liked purple, so I put some purple with your purple so you can purple while you”…wow this meme is old…

Because I knit it so much on the train, or perhaps in front of the TV (go Blackhawks! Sorry Tampa Bay…) it’s working up surprisingly fast. When I look down at it after the credits of the movie roll and the lights come on I’ve always forgotten how much work can get done when I’m not looking at it. We’re almost past half way!

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Is that a little bit of lace I see at the bottom?! And yes, I’m definitely still rocking the handmade Sesame Street Project bag made for me by Rachel!

My goal is to have it finished by the time NBK comes to visit my LYS in Toronto so I can show them how much I love their yarn. It’s some of the nicest stuff I’ve ever worked with, so I’m hoping I can do it justice!

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FO: Bloemen voor Daphne

Lots of people that see me knitting in public comment that they would LOVE to knit, but they just simply don’t have the patience. I don’t know exactly how many times I’ve given variations of my “I don’t knit because I have patience, I have patience because I knit” …but we are definitely in the double digits. Knitting is what keeps me patient in long lines, or when traveling. It’s what makes movies and TV shows not feel like a waste of time, and honestly helps me continue to pay attention if the knitting doesn’t become distractingly complicated. I recently knit an inch extra of stockinette stitch in the movie theatre that I had to rip back after (Age of Ultron, apparently the more intense the action movie, the faster I knit to cope.) I wasn’t even sad about the error – it was more time I got to spend with a very lovely yarn. More on that project later.

The point is that knitting is what soothes me. It’s what grants me patience and occasionally helps keep me looking like a semi-put-together human being in public.

It’s also something I do out of love for the people I love, so when casting around for something to accompany my next letter to Daphne I thought – oh I’ll knit a little something to tuck in with it. It’s too warm now for the hat I’ve promised her. It’s spring, maybe a little knitted flower? A couple maybe? That would be sweet. It will use up some of the scrap yarn I have (true) and it shouldn’t take very long (false. so false.)

So I set off to make a little knitted flower – or three. A nice bundle of three would do. I expected it to take about an evening, maybe two

It took a month.

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From not knitting the i-cord around the pipe cleaner, to reworking the shape of the petals out of fussiness (I wanted the middle one to be bigger?), this project was not remotely the straight forward little side event I thought it would be. Every time it frustrated me sufficiently I put it down, not wanting to knit those bad vibes into a gift. Frankly it’s a miracle they ever got finished. I cursed working half a dozen tiny stitches in the round, I cursed the i-cord, I cursed the little yellow stamen that took so many tries to tie properly. I cursed trying to hide all the little ends and I especially cursed the very very malleable pipe-cleaners for never bending quite as I wanted them too.

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Pictured above: tears. 

I cursed while trying to tie a ribbon around them so they looked pretty and had to resort to watching ribbon tying tutorials on Youtube. I can knit. I cannot craft, it seems.

But despite all this cursing, from beginning to end, the minute the last one was finished and they were finally tied up nicely I was awash in new FO glow. A good new finished object glow can erase everything I ever disliked about making the project, and this one was mighty strong. Look how cute they are! Adorable little blooms with their little stamen and stems. How could I possibly be frustrated with them? Every grumble I’ve listed seemed petty once I had the finished project sitting on my coffee table. These three flowers that rivalled a pair of socks in fiddly-ness, and a stockinette stitch sweater in patience were worth every bit.Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 10.46.26 PM

So this wasn’t a project that granted patience. In fact, it seemed to try and test it at every turn. I will try not to underestimate fiddly knitting ever again (success is unlikely, but I will try). This was the flip side to my usual knitting, but in some way it makes the final product even more worth it this time.

…and after having complained so regularly about “the pipe-cleaner thing” I know that by the time they reach their recipient, they may be a little squished in the post, but they will most certainly be appreciated.

Specifications:

PatternFlower – Bloem by Saartje de Bruijn (Dutch pattern for a Dutch friend!)

YarnKnit Picks Palette scraps in Eggplant, Celadon Heather and … probably Custard, I’m not sure…

Needles: 2.5 mm dpns.

Modification: To make the larger flower: Cable cast on: 36
(p3, k1, p5, k1, p2) 3 times. Repeat this round 3 times in total
(p2, CDD, p3, CDD, p1)
begin pattern as written.

Happy Knitting!

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The Calla sweater pattern is up!

I finished my lace cardigan test knit a few weeks ago, but I’ve been delaying this post until the actual launch of the pattern! I tested the cropped version in a size small and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. Thanks to MKL for a wonderful first-test knitting experience, it was a lovely pattern and there was lots of support along the way (particularly when I didn’t understand the concept of congruent set-in sleeves…). So without further ado…here it is!

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I once considered joining the fronts, but I actually liked the lines in the end. I’m a touch self conscious of looking too skinny these days, so it sort of evens me out a little bit.

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The picot hem is a personal addition, that was easy to add into the pattern and I preferred it to the rolled sleeve.

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Once I got going with the lace it actually is very hypnotic. But, as I’ve posted about before mistakes were punished. Fortunately I made it to the end with my knitting sanity well intact and all the yarn overs in all the right places.

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It makes a nice way to wear my knitting in the summer, and so far it’s proven pretty popular with my friends. Mum even says she wants one over her own, which I’ve learned by now is actually the ultimate compliment from her on anything I make. It’s light, it’s cute, it’s feminizing, which I don’t really have in my wardrobe as much as I’d like, so that’s a plus. I imagine it would go nicely over a sundress. Of course…I’d have to own a sundress first…

Okay, time to get down to brass tacts:

Specifications!

Pattern: Calla by MKdesigns. Live today – go check it out!

Yarn: Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in Tea Rose, 335 yards.

Needles: Knit flat on 40″ circulars, 3.5 mm & 4 mm. In the end I really enjoyed working with the cotton, so I guess it’s a “getting used to it” thing. In fact, I think there may even be more cotton in my future. 🙂

I modified the sleeves to include a picot hem. Instructions for the modification are as follows:

Sleeve mod: Short rowed picot hem
When armpit depth is 7” end with WS row facing.
*Work in pattern to marker, sm, k to marker,
turn (RS facing) k to marker,
turn (WS facing) p to marker,
turn (RS facing) k2tog, yo repeat until 2 stitches before marker, k2tog
turn (WS facing) facing p to marker,
turn (RS facing) k to marker,
turn (WS facing) bind off as purl stitches, do NOT cut yarn and pull through final loop. Leave that stitch on the working needle, pick up and purl three stitches along short row edge. Remove marker
Repeat from * once more
Work in pattern until the end of the WS row.
Next round (RS facing) *Work in lace pattern to marker. Pick up and knit three stitches along short row edge, remove maker.
Repeat from * once more
Work remaining stitches in lace pattern.

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Living in Lavender

I seem to be surrounded, by my own volition, by lavender related things.

There is lavender oil in my pantry, my new strategy for dealing with nightmares and sleeplessness. (The old strategy was knocking back some lorazepam, which while still at my disposal if a panic attack really gets out of hand, is kind of overkill at this point.)

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Then there’s lavender in my candles…lavender in my tea…my new favourite pen is even purple-coloured!

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Heck. There’s even lavender in my body wash. (My thanks to the good people at Aveeno for knowing my needs.)

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I’m very stressed out, apparently. I even need to stay calm while showering. Man, I wish that was a joke…

I didn’t notice the amount of lavender in my life creeping up (though it’s true enough that calming down and trying to stay calm has been the theme for the last two months…). It was probably inevitable then that I went to the yarn shop in search of something appropriate for my next project, and ended up walking out something along the lines of this:

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Four skeins whole skeins of NBK superwash merino in total. And the colourway? Lavandula. My lavender saturation is gloriously complete. This yarn has “summer lace blouse” written all over it.

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Pretty in Pink

My lace cardigan…it’s done, it’s blocked, it’s been modelled and photographed. Proper FO post to come when the pattern is launched, but for now just a sneak peek of it on the blocking board…

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The weather is finally turned nice and spring like, so there has been an explosion of pink in Toronto – mostly thanks to the cherry blossoms.

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My walks around the city now include a pretty excellent impromptu flower show, so while I wait for the official release of the pattern (hint: it may or may not be May 25th) to show you the cardigan in all it’s pink glory, have a picture of the bleeding hearts growing near Casa Loma:

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When I start to see flowers like these, I’m sure the snow is gone for good. While I enjoy a good cold winter, there is something absolutely glorious about the spring that comes after.

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April Showers Bring May Flowers

Yesterday I was taken up by a need to make a knitted flower. I had the scrap yarn (Knitpicks Palette – so many little balls of fingering weight…) and some pipe cleaners from the dollar store. So I set off on a hunt through Ravelry to find a few flower patterns and Bloem was the result.

The flower part was easy enough, and I figured out on my own that a 4 stitch icord would be too narrow for my pipe cleaner, so I switched to a six stitch one and thought myself very clever. (Red flag #1 right there.) Until I got to the end and it was time to put the pipe cleaner through the icord.

I’m going to save us a lot of time here and just say it was frustrating, ridiculous, impossible, and it ended up with tears (mine) as well as a very bend out of shape person pipe cleaner. This morning, I looked at the day and realized that my project was probably doomed on account of the date (and not my poor knitterly skills) hence the crying and the utter failure. Today is the first of May. And in May, I had the good sense to knit my icord around the pipe cleaner. wpid-img_20150501_170820.jpgMuch better. Spring may come yet…

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