knitting

Boyfriend Hat

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If there’s a set of interchangeable needles under the Christmas tree, you will have a hat when you come back from visiting your family.

Those are words that came out of my mouth. They were directed my boyfriend. Can you guess what was under the tree on Christmas morning? … It was most definitely a set of interchangeable knitting needles. Chiaogoo red lace, to be precise. I haven’t reviewed them yet because I’ve only made one project on them, with only one wool (this is that projet!). I don’t feel I’m in a position to evaluate these needles yet. That said, so far, I absolutely love them!

So technically, I did get him a hat by the time he got back from visiting his family. Unfortunately it was the worst pattern-yarn mix I have EVER made. I will be getting some pictures and most likely blogging about it, if only so that I can save one unsuspecting person from repeating the same mistake. The second try came out a lot better, and a heck of a lot later. 2 months later, to be exact. Thankfully the boyfriend is patient, kind and understanding (or he just really didn’t want to wear the first hat… I don’t blame him)!

But oh my goodness, what a joy this was to knit! I find cable patterns so compelling because you’re always motivated to finish the next round and watch it grow (much like colourwork). Combine that with the beautiful rustic wool: knitting was a dream.

The wool is from Briggs and Little woolen mills. A Canadian, family owned wool mill in New Brunswick. The boyfriend and I took a road trip out to the east coast of Canada last year. Unfortunately we didn’t visit the Briggs and Little mill, but we did visit the store! I was good and only purchased about $50 worth of wool (but only because we went to MacAuslands woolen mills where I spent way too much). The boyfriend picked out a skein of heritage in the colourway Grape so that I could make him a hat. Grape is a beautiful mix of purple, red, navy and teal. The way it looks depends a lot on the lighting, but it always looks beautiful to me. It is only my second favorite Briggs and Little colourway though… my favorite is Fundy Fog! The wool itself is very rustic, minimally processed. It is definitely not Merino wool, it is a workhorse wool that will stand up to a lot of wear. I’ve read that it’s a good (more economical) substitute for Brooklyn Tweed, but I’ve never held a skein of Brooklyn Tweed so I can’t comment on that!

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Although I really enjoyed the knitting process, I did have a few fit issues along the way. I forgot to increase needle sizes after the ribbing and that made the hat very small in circumference. I also measured carefully because I had to extend the cabling pattern since my row gauge was off. But still somehow the hat ended up being way too skinny and way too tall. Thankfully some aggressive blocking helped made it wider and shorter and I think it fits pretty well!

The boyfriend is happy.

The only problem is winter is over!

 

 

 

Salt & Pepper

cuffI discovered a few years ago that salt and pepper is the (un)official uniform of Canada. I don’t know how I never noticed it before, but after I did I saw it everywhere. And then one day (years later) it happened… I realized I really, really liked salt & pepper, and I needed it. [Taking a moment aside, I just realized I don’t even know if salt and pepper is a “colour” outside of Canada, I’m assuming that it is, but I’ve ever seen it referred to as marl on the internet.] Of course I could buy salt and pepper clothing, but it’s mostly found in the sweatshirts and sweatpants, and I wanted a little more sophistication. And I found it when the Tongshan Sweater pattern came out. The Tongshan Sweater is in my opinion a very timeless, versatile piece. I could see myself wearing it with jeans a riding boots, or over a dress or a skirt, in my mind it integrated so seamlessly into my wardrobe! So I purchased it and I got to work, last year.

And I’m not done.

But I’m going to show you where I am in the process. And it’s not perfect… While I love showing full outfit pictures of my finished projects, making them look their very best, making your own clothes is about a lot more than the end result. It’s about a lot of different things to different people, and it’s about a lot of different things to me, but today I’m sharing one aspect of it, which is learning. Whenever I make something new I always learn at least one (but usually many) things. To me this makes it all worth it. Even if I had to restart, things didn’t go as planned, and I’m not happy with the result, at least I can walk away knowing I learned something (and it’s okay if the only thing you learned is that it’s easier to frog or rip up seams with a glass of wine, or that it’s not a good idea to rip seams or knitting up past 1 AM)!

So why am I saying all of this? Probably because things did not go as planned with this sweater. I’ll just give you a list of things that happened and save you a few minutes of reading:

  • I worked the ribbing back and forth – really bringing out unevenness in my gauge
  • I knit each sleeve not once, but three times (!!!)
  • I modified the sleeve pattern because it was too tight, and didn’t take notes, I’m still not convinced my two sleeves are the same
  • I confused the front and back and had to rip back quite far
  • I couldn’t do the shoulder seams and my tenth attempt still looks horrible
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Horrible Shoulder Seams

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Uneven Back Ribbing

And to top off the list, the sweater is currently blocking and based on the newest measurements, it looks like it will be about 3 inches too long. I would be lying if I said there weren’t any tears. But I learned a lot of things too, and I think that deserves a list as well:

  • I learned how to actually frog: taking the stitches of the needle and pulling back down to where you want to go and picking your work back up
  • I learned how to frog ribbing, increases and decreases
  • I learned how important accurate notes are, and to not assume I will understand something cryptic just because I’m the one who wrote it
  • I modified a sleeve pattern to fit my arm better, and I learned how I would improve my modification if I were to do it again

In a time where we are so used to seeing the very selected, highly edited version of everyone’s life and accomplishments, I love seeing peoples mistakes and how they have learned from them. Sometimes just knowing that other people have made mistakes, or that they consider their projects to be imperfect is nice.

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Don’t worry, I’m still going to finish this sweater, and if it doesn’t make the cut to my wardrobe, at least I will have learned a lot.

 

Turmeric: Part 2

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On the right is an un-dyed skein of yarn from the same “sheep-lot” (natural, un-dyed wool) and on the left is the result of dying half a skein with turmeric! I love to use turmeric on face, as you can see in this post! I have to thank the boyfriend for encouraging me to do this, as well as actually doing most of the work AND lending me his pots, stove and floor for yarn dying purposes!

Here is the process we used:

  1. We took half a skein of undyed wool and placed in it a number of pots until we found one where the skein comfortably fit with enough “mixing room” (if you want an even colour you don’t want the yarn to be tightly packed). We used this opportunity to note how much water was needed to comfortably cover the skein.
  2. We filled the (empty) pot with water and poured in some turmeric… boy did we pour in turmeric!
  3. We brought the mix to a simmer on the stove… and added more turmeric! I don’t really know anything about spice chemistry, but I know you can dissolve more salt/sugar when it’s warm so I added extra turmeric to be safe! It simmered for about 45 minutes.
  4. We placed the skein in the bowl and let it simmer on and off for a few hours, mixing regularly but carefully to avoid felting the yarn.
  5. We let the yarn sit in the cooling dye bath overnight.
  6. We rinsed, until the water ran clear.

And step number 6 is where we found out we used entirely too much turmeric. Eventually (after half an hour bent over the bathtub) the water ran clear, but when the skein dried it left turmeric dust everywhere it had touched, so we rinsed it again and again. Eventually (probably third rinse/dry cycle) the yarn stopped leaving turmeric traces everywhere. I will probably exercise caution when knitting this up in case it bleed onto other colours! And talking about other colours, here is my planned colour palette:

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Natural white, natural gray and a beautiful saturated turmeric gold! I can’t wait to knit something up!

Steeped Mittens

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I present to you my new mittens. I designed the colour work and based the overall shape off of the popular herringbone mittens (my last pair of handknit mittens were the herringbone mittens… until my dogs digested them!). They were inspired by three skeins of patons classic wool (aran, natural mix and heath heather) from my stash and my favorite companion on a stormy winter day, tea!

I love them! They’re toasty warm and totally cute! I just wish I had done a better job on the actual knitting, I had a lot of tension problems and they’re still super evident even after blocking! I am planning on making a “dipped” model with just the last colour change from aran to a bright colour like yellow or hot pink!

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2016 Knit List

2016 KNIT LIST

Tongshan/Tinder/Wishbone

Last year I made a 2015 Knit List. I only made two items on the list: Graham and Wishbone. Graham was never blogged about. I didn’t like the way it worked up in the yarn I chose so it was frogged almost immediately. Wishbone was blogged about here. You could say the 2015 Knit List was a failure. The 2016 edition though… it will be successful!

I’ve definitely upped the stakes this year, but I have also learned a lot in the last year. Each of these projects was selected to fill a hole in my wardrobe, since I have been wanting to move towards using knitting to contribute to my wardrobe.

Two more projects from 2015 need to be blogged (that were knit without being on the list!), then the first project will be Tongshan!

2015 Knit List

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In 2014 I knit (and didn’t blog about) two infinity scarves, most of a sweater (Jessa is still missing the sleeves… I will get to those) and two pairs of mittens (herringbone mitts for myself, unblogged, and the direwolf mittens for B, which I did blog about!).

In 2015 I want to challenge myself to actually contribute to my wardrobe by knitting. Of course, I still want to make a few gifts for people (Christmas 2015 I am looking right at you!), so I won’t focus my whole year on expanding my wardrobe by hand knitting, but no matter what, I have to start somewhere!

Without further ado, the 2015 knit list!

  1. Gwynedd (for my mum)
  2. I’m hesitating between Ease and Beeline (for myself)
  3. Wishbone (for myself)
  4. Graham (for now, this is for myself… but it may be gifted… I have never tried the slouch hat!)

And the fifth item, time permitting (translation: highly unlikely this will be accomplished this year)

5. Malo, for the boyfriend.

But first… I have to finished the darn lord of the rings scarf (it’s only darn because I made so many mistakes 😦 )

PS. When I took that picture, it was “so cold” (it was really only like -25) that the servo motors for autofocus stopped functioning after 15-20 minutes outside! My breath even froze all over the LCD screen! Unfortunately it was so much more beautiful than in real life than what I could capture!