Monday, December 31, 2007

Watching the Ball of Yarn Drop

It's hard not to reflect on the year that was. I did make a few resolutions last year so I suppose I should weigh in on how well I met these lofty goals.

1. More small projects:
Check this one. If it weren't for small projects like Nagano Sakura and the Gem Beret - my FO list would be much shorter. Handmaiden's Devin Toque in yummmm Cashmere will no doubt be my first accessory for 2008.

2. More cables:
Count this as a miss. I'm a wee bit angry with myself about this. I love cables and would welcome a nice cabled project. Contenders are Bonne Marie's Twist, Central Park Hoodie and this lovely design from Louisa Harding's new book Summer Classics.

3. Get a dress form:
Ah, I'll need to carry this one over to 2008 too but I've decided to get one of an older vintage to make it a decorating element.

4. More Noro:
Poppy and my current project Manhattan in Cahsmere Island mean I get to check this resolution as a win for 2007.

5. Experiment with different fibres and indie designers:
This was a defining theme for 2007 for me. I made The Bonsai Tunic in bamboo and spun bamboo. I'm also working on Roam in Lisa Souza Baby Alpaca Silk which counts as 2 for 2 with designer and fibre artist both being "indie".

6. Knit with my handspun:
My Nagano Sakura scarf counts as my first "roving to FO" project. It's especially sweet that I won a prize at the 5 Counties Fair for best knitted item by a novice. I'm spinning some shetland threaded with silk that will become a Diamond Fantasy shawl for the next fair this September.

7: Make more time for knitting:
Sure, once I finish prowling around Ravelry.

8: Release another FO:
Uh, next?

So, what's on deck for 2008?

I'm excited about attending Madrona in February where I hope to improve as a spinner by taking seminars with Kathryn Alexander and Judith Mackenzie McCuin. I will embrace my inner crone by forgoing space in the suitcase for the killer wardrobe in favour of the Sonata Wheel.

I've begun some hand dyeing as well and want to continue to develop this skill. I'm reading about natural dyes and just maybe there's a dyer's garden in my future this Spring?

I predict that Ravelry will expedite the unleashing of the independent designer and that more Veronik Avery's and Stephanie Japels will get book deals and delight us with their talent.

I hear Norah Gaughan's Spring collection is amazing. I predict I will make another of her designs.

I learned I still hate sock knitting this past year. Sorry but I'm very vain about my knitting and when I finish something I don't want it shoved into a pair of shoes under a pant leg.

I want to make a top down sweater...just to find out what the fuss is all about. Maybe this one out of this yarn?

I've joined the Funky Carolina roving club so I'm excited to try some new fibres over the next few months.

And last but not least - my stash. I don't resolve to stop stashing, just to become better at hiding it.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Head's Up
I became obsessed with finishing Gem this week. Yes, I was lured to the dark side by crochet. It started with a simple ring then round and round I went. Next thing I knew - I had myself a saucy beret. I coerced twin A to take some shots this afternoon to try and capture the detail in this pretty pattern.

Here are the specifications:

Pattern: Gem from Heartfelt the Darkhouse Collection Kim Hargreaves

Yarn: One skein of Kid Classic (lavender ice) and One skein of Kid Silk Haze (dewberry) doubled
Hook: 6mm crochet hook

Beads: About 300 size 6

This pattern is fast, fun and I'm very pleased with the results. Kim Hargreaves' book has several patterns calling to me and this one was very well written. The crochet terms are detailed in the back of the book. I did however have to search elsewhere to find out how to decrease (treble two together) but that was easy enough to nail down.
The pattern has you change to double crochet for the beaded section for 5 rows. I only did 4 rows mostly due to bead supply and yarn running out. I wouldn't want any more rows any way since this is just the right amount of "ease" for me. I like a beret to flop just a bit. the hat is finished with crab stitch in Kid Silk Haze only - three strands together.

I see that Kim Hargreaves book is now more widely available through online book retailers and ebay vendors. I would imagine it will sell well.

Now that Gem is complete, I've got my eye on another fast project from Heartfelt. Thanks to Webs, I have 5 balls of Big Wool in an unusual shade for me - cassis.

I may never go below 3 stitches per inch again!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Purple Ice
The good thing about a big snow system is that it's kind of nice to know that your only option for the next day is to hunker down and ride out the storm. It lets you off the hook for all of those errands you usually take care of on a Sunday. We here in the Niagara region had been really hard hit. This system has gathered lots of extra wallop whilst traveling over the Great Lakes. My lovely new Holiday urn arrangement now has about 3 inches of white stuff on it. So, it was a great opportunity to work on some projects.

I've noticed that when it comes to yarn lately - I'm particularly attracted to purple. Now, this isn't the case when it comes to buying clothes or decorating - its seems to be simply a fibre issue. Perhaps it's a yearning for balance since according to Wikipedia in United States politics, a purple state is a state equally balanced between Republicans (normally symbolized by red) and Democrats (normally symbolized as blue). Whatever the reason, I have a fiberyen for purple.

Evie is chugging along. It's one of those patterns that seems more complex than it is. Now that I see the pattern progressions - I can truly "get" the rhythm of the design. The Cashsoft 4 ply is a delight to work with but I do seem to be getting a larger gauge than prescribed on the ball band. I'll keep you posted.

Also in the purple family is a little beret from Kim Hargreaves as well. It's called Gem and it's crochet. A nice robust 6mm hook, some Kid Classic and Kid Silk Haze and it makes for a fast project. It's got beads around the brim...yumm. It's so much fun to have a little crochet on the side. It's fast and a nice complement to my other projects. I could have used this baby on my head today while shoveling the drive way!

I'm also quite taken with the new Knitty design "Ice Queen". I've obtained some Kid Silk Night (soon to be discontinued from what I hear) from Julie. It's flecked with shots of silver so along with the silver beads - it's particularly "icy". Perhaps all of this iciness is what attracted this uber storm?
If you're like me...this week it probably your crunch time coming up. Last minute gifts, cards and grocery shopping will be top of mind but when the big day comes - I plan to be firmly planted in my house with a glass of sparkling wine and my knitting and spinning projects. Ten more sleeps!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Structured Tastings
I spent a wonderful couple of days last week at the wineries in wine school. I know, I know, at last a course I can ace. It's common practice to taste wines from light colour to dark and lighter tasting to oakier. In that spirit - I will update my various projects. We'll go from easy-breezy to the more complex.

First up is an FO. It's Narvik from Rowan 42 made out of luscious Rowan Cocoon. It's in sultry shades of charcoal, gray and mushroom. The cables on the front provide a nice complement to the raised pattern across the all-charcoal back. What makes this the easiest project in my round up?....I never said it was *my* FO. I stumbled across it at Stitch today. Jocelyn had a sample that she kindly let me try on and she even took the picture for me. This one is back on the short list for me. It's really nice in person.

Our second tasting is a nice smooth cashmere layered with complex notes of colour changes. I've finished the first front of Manhattan in the decadent Noro Cashmere Island. I LOVE this project because it's mindless and easy to pick up and put down. I'm currently casting on for the back which involves over 300 stitches to weed down to about 1/3 that amount to make the ruffle.

Here is Roam. Now Roam and I had an incident a week or so ago whereby I realized that all of my increases were done incorrectly. I was only increasing two stitches per row instead of 4. I had to rip out a good 6 inches ...all together now "OUCH!". I'm back to where I was before I ripped back. This is a delightful knit. Do learn how to purl continental if you want to make seed stitch. Once you get it down pat - it's very meditative. I was able to try the original Roam on when I was at Lettuce Knit last month taking a seminar with Laura Chau the designer. It's a great sweater! I'm also using the Addi Lace turbos and the pointy tips make the "to and fro" of the continental seed stitch very easy to stick-handle. The Lisa Souza Baby Alpaca Silk is like a silky Merlot. Rich, deep, smooth and elegant.

I am also still plugging away on Autumn Rose. Second sleeve is almost half done. I'm eager to get to the body so I can actually gather up some rhythm with the pattern. The sleeve is too short a run to actually get "in the Fair isle zone".

Evie is progressing too but I had to clarify a few things with the designer re: pattern directions so, there isn't any progress to show since I had to rip back.

Projects galore! I love it because just as there is a perfect wine for every meal - so is there a perfect project for every mood.