Well so much for regular blogging!
This last month has been challenging… in a good way. I’ve been thinking about moving the shop and expanding into fabric and sewing for so long, that I was completely surprised at how hard it has been to choose fabric. Really, really hard… which I realized this week is because right now, it’s all a blank slate. My instinct is that it will get easier once I’m in the new space and can see the wall of fabric against which I can make coherent choices… makes sense right?
Anyway, I’ve turned the corner from being overwhelmed, to feeling super excited and eager to get going! I’ve got the movers booked and I’m waiting on a few pieces to fall into place before I know for sure that I can keep to the dates I’ve scheduled. Thanks to everyone who has offered to lend a hand with the move… it’s meant a lot to me that so many people seem excited about this new incarnation. (For anyone who missed the memo, the shop is moving to 232 Wharncliffe Road South in May and I’m adding sewing and quilting to the line-up!)
What has kept my brain somewhat settled has, of course, been knitting. No surprise there really. I made a dumb mistake on my lovely Ramona Cardigan and had to rip back about 6 inches and by the time I figured it out and got everything ready to go again, I decided to set it aside to finish for the fall…. although given our truly erratic weather of late, I might have been able to wear it now!
Instead, I started a lovely Hay Cardigan in Madelinetosh Twist Light in the most gorgeous blue/grey/brown colourway called Court & Spark. I think I’ve only ever made one other sweater in fingering weight (the perfect travel project for a trip to Australia) as the slowness of knitting with such a fine weight has not been my thing… but somehow right now it’s been absolutely perfect. I really love this pattern, with the panels of reverse stocking stitch to add just a nice little design detail. Again I made a dumb mistake and ended up ripping back a few inches, but I must be getting more patient with age, as it didn’t really bother me that much to have to go backwards (I can feel my Mom laughing at this… both at the idea that I’m patient, and that I actually ripped back on two sweaters!).
The above picture is from the Visible Mending class I’m taking at The Workroom. Unfortunately the shop will be closed tomorrow while I’m in Toronto. I hate potentially inconveniencing people like this, but hopefully this will be the last disruption for awhile. The class is everything I was hoping it would be. I’m not really that hard on clothes, so it’s not like I’ve got a pile of things waiting to be mended… but there’s something so wonderful about just learning a new skill.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone,
My family hasn’t had the best start to the year and to be honest, I’m still trying to find my sea legs. My aunt died earlier in February and she will be hugely missed by so many people. She was a remarkable person in so many ways.
But I won’t dwell on that. I’m hugely grateful for all the support and wishes from people through the last few weeks.
If I didn’t already believe in the therapeutic value of knitting and making things, I certainly have lived it this last while. I just finished a beautiful shawl called Laylow by Shannon Cook and when I was feeling blue, it was so wonderful to pick it up and lose myself in a few rows. Usually, one of the biggest things that I love about knitting and making things is the sense of community… sitting with others and sipping tea while everyone works on their projects, but lately I’ve been valuing the solitariness of sitting on my own with no pressure to be social and just being able to knit quietly and remember my aunt.
Laylow is a really well written pattern and I love the dropped stitch pattern which is so simple, yet effective. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a beginner shawl pattern that has enough going on to keep you engaged, but simple enough that you don’t have to concentrate too hard.
I’m now happily going back to my Ramona cardigan which has also been a lovely, straight forward pattern. My loose intention for the year was to try new things, and for this one I took apart a sweater I had made with Cascade Eco + that I never wore… and after a good bath with some yummy SOAK and reskeining, it’s ready to be reinvented as a Ramona. I’ve never ripped out a finished sweater before and I was a bit skeptical about what kind of shape the yarn was going to be in, but it’s been a real joy to knit so far. The yarn is lovely and soft and springy. By the time I finish I’m sure it will be too heavy to wear, but that’s ok.
Here are a few random links that have caught my eye lately:
I’ve never tried cake made in the microwave in a coffee mug, and this recipe might be worth giving a go… although it might be the kind of thing best not knowing about!
Smitten Kitchen is my favourite food blog of all time, and lately Deb Perlman has been hitting it out of the park with her recipe highlights. I made these Everyday Meatballs the other night, adding a glug of red wine and some lemon zest to the sauce and they were delish. I also made these vegetable fritters which were outstanding. Yum.
I’m not casting on another sweater until I finish my Ramona Cardigan … but I love the look of this simple Everyday Raglan from Sheep and Stitch which is a terrific site for newer knitters.
I love this collection of hats from Ginger Twist in Scotland… and I love that she’s named them all after different kinds of tea!
I watched the most amazing doc series on Netflix called Cooked based on the book by Michael Pollan. I can’t adequately describe how wonderful it is. I’ve long been a fan of Pollan and his books, but this was the first time I’d ever seen him on camera and he is the perfect anchor for the series. The series is divided into 4 films, each focused on one of the 4 elements Earth, Air, Fire and Water and each film is the vision of a different director. The production value is remarkable and I was sucked right in. I can’t recommend this enough to anyone who cares about food and cooking and how we’re living our lives.
My brain isn’t really into reading at the moment, but I’m slowly working my way through the first of the Elena Ferrante Neopolitan novels, “My Brilliant Friend”. I have to admit it’s taken about 70 pages for me to get into the groove, but I’m now really enjoying the growing relationship between the two main characters. The writer has a fresh style and tone that makes the story whip along.
Well that’s it for now. Take care everyone, and remember to take time to reach out to your loved ones, near and far, if you haven’t in awhile.
Well, here we are in 2016! How is everyone feeling so far? I feel like my year has gotten off to a slow start, but somehow that feels ok. I think it might have something to do with this weird weather we’re having. Anyway, I didn’t leap out of bed on the 1st full of new resolve and focus, but it’s been more a continued calm, contemplative vibe and I’m hoping to keep it that way for awhile! This year is going to be a good one, I believe, with lots of shifts and changes, growth and fun challenges. So it feels good to be more of a tortoise than a hare at the moment.
I didn’t make any big resolutions, but instead I want to focus on finishing what I start. In my defence I have gotten better at this, but there’s still room for improvement. To that end I’m almost done my Uniform Cardigan, which is going to be a really cozy, warm sweater. The dark blue I’m using is a nightmare to photograph so I’ll post a pic when I’ve got the right light. It’s quite heavy, which is the nature of a long sweater in worsted weight, and I think I could have gone down a size, but like I said it’s definitely cozy!
As I mentioned in the newsletter, I’m drooling over the Doodler Shawl…. my only other resolution is to try to push myself a bit in my project choices, and this would do it for me. I don’t think I’ve ever made a big shawl with lots of short rows, so that’s the new element for me. A few people have brought their finished shawls in, and it’s a really, really gorgeous design that ends up being a perfect, generous size. It’s good that I’m not not going to start this for a week or two as I keep changing my mind about colour combinations.
This is my current favourite. Madelinetosh Merino Light in Antler, Madelinetosh Twist Light in Opaline and a skein of precious Viola Fancy Sock in Raven from my stash.
This is my second favourite… Madelinetosh Twist Light in Modern Fair Isle, Zen Yarn Garden Serenity Silk Single in Midnight Teal and Truffle.
And this is today’s option… Zen Yarn Garden Serenity Silk Single in Midnight Teal, Madelinetosh Merino Light in Silver Fox and Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20 in Atlantis.
Anyone who wants to make one with me will get 15% off their yarn. I think one of the nice things about this design is that you can take a prized skein from your stash and then find something to compliment it, so you get the joy of using from stash but also treating yourself to something new! I’ll post pictures of any finished shawls that you bring in on the shop’s Facebook and Instagram pages.
The top picture is from Wednesday afternoon’s knitting gathering, where I enlisted help frogging a sweater I’ve had sitting for years. I decided I really liked the yarn, but would never wear the sweater it was becoming… the design had a hood which really isn’t my jam. So that will be something else new for me… I’ve never frogged a big project like that and then re-used the yarn. Right now I’m thinking it’s mean to be a Ramona Cardigan but we’ll see!
Here are a few random links that I’ve been saving:
I love this star baby quilt and I have friends in Toronto expecting their first baby this year who just might get one.
This article summed up my feelings about shopping wonderfully. As I get older I definitely respond to the notion of being a more thoughtful consumer and buying the best quality that I can afford when I do need something.
Smitten Kitchen is probably my favourite food blog (everyone should have a copy of her cookbook!), and this recipe for German Pancakes looks yummy!
I have a bit of an obsession with mending at the moment and this tutorial looks terrific.
Let’s make 2016 great!
I’m in the countdown to the holidays, and looking forward to seeing my family and having a little break. I’m at the point where I’m sorting my to-do list into what’s a must do and as we’d say in my former profession, what’s a target of opportunity, but overall I’m feeling pretty good about everything.
I’m excited about the New Year and making some changes… I have a whole notebook full of lists and ideas, and pictures grabbed from Pinterest and Instagram. And of course I’ve got a bunch of projects I want to make like the White Pine cardigan which is going to be my January knit. I’ve decided that the theme for next year is going to be pushing outside my comfort zone a bit… so the cables in White Pine will be a change for me from the usual stocking stitch that I tend to gravitate towards.
I’ll be brief here so that I can crack on, but it’s been a good year in my little shop. I was reminded yesterday of how lucky I am to do this, as a few lovely people dropped by for a knit and some tea, the shop was busy and the mood was festive. Thank you all for the support this past year and all the best to everyone for a happy, healthy holiday season.
I’ve been thinking about a post to mark the shop’s 2nd birthday, and even though it was a few weeks ago, it still feels worth a few words of reflection.
Needless to say, I’m so grateful to all the people who have supported my little shop these past 2 years. I feel like I’ve learned so much from everyone who has come through the doors. One of the things I really like is that I get to meet all kinds of people… nurses, teachers, professors, lawyers, artists, social workers, librarians, students to name but a few… people who are dealing with illness and disabilities… people who are starting their careers and people who’ve finished working. A diverse creative community does seem to be alive and well in London ON.
As challenging as the retail world is (the drop in the Canadian dollar has been a bit of a nightmare to put it mildly!), this little shop still makes me happy, and I’m excited about where I want to take the business in the future. I’m envisioning a shift towards a space that embraces some other creative pursuits that will help take the seasonality out of a business mainly focused on knitting and crocheting. So we’ll see where things end up, but in the meantime, here are a few things I’ve been working on lately…
I seem to have turned into a bit of a restless crafter! The first picture above is of a lovely embroidery sampler I’m working on from the amazing Rebecca Ringquist of Dropcloth Samplers. And the owl is a fun little kit I got at The Workroom from Kiriki Press. There’s something about the slowness of hand stitching that I really like, and I love the whimsical tone of some of the patterns that are on offer.
The photos aren’t great, but I’ve also fallen down the rabbit hole of tapestry weaving! It doesn’t take long to learn the basics, and again I was lucky enough to take a class at The Workroom. I’m looking for some frames to bring in for the shop, as this really is a great outlet for anyone who loves yarn and playing with texture and colour. And talk about being a great stash buster!
I realized that I was really missing sewing, so I started working on a Wonky Cross quilt in a palette of blues, yellows and greens. I’m not much of a precision quilter so the free-form nature of wonky crosses makes me very happy. I’m heading to Toronto on Sunday to take a class on Improv Curves which will be a lot of fun I’m sure.
But there will always be knitting! I’ve just started this super soft and floaty scarf using Kidsilk Haze Stripe that makes me so happy I can hardly stand it! The play of colours is just so absolutely beautiful that it’s hard to put this one down.
So, again thank you everyone… for the support and friendship and creative inspiration! I’m excited to see what the future holds and where this little venture takes us!
And of course there’s Buster!
I seem to be playing catch up a lot these days! Last week got away from me but I did get my Lett Lopi order in which makes me very, very happy. I’m living in breathless anticipation for its arrival!
As I mentioned in the newsletter, there’s a brilliant knit along for a sweater designed by Mary Jane Mucklestone called Stopover that I’m really excited to start. I used to make Lopi sweaters when I was at university, but I remember them being extremely heavy so I loved the feel of the Lett Lopi, which is lighter and the Stopover is knit on a 6.5mm needle which will make it feel even airier.
I’ve also got my eye on Strokkur by Ysolda Teague and when I work up the courage to try steeking, I’m going to make this beautiful Iunn. I’m going to be very warm this winter!
In the meanwhile I’ve begun my Uniform Cardigan, which is yet another brilliant pattern by Carrie Bostick Hoge. I’m using Galway in a lovely dark blue… which is terrible to photograph I’m afraid! The pattern gives you options on the shape of the sleeves, the kind of pockets and collar, and the length, which makes it a wonderfully versatile blueprint. This is my sweater number 5 or the 6 sweater challenge!
A few randoms:
I love the look of this ribbon… and what fun that it’s made by dyeing cut up sheets with food colour.
Maybe it’s the thought of spending more time indoors, but I LOVE these hand knit slippers… doesn’t that look like a great pattern?
I definitely want to try making one of these coil baskets using strips of fabric.
Here are a couple of yummy looking, relatively healthy, desserts for fall… vegan “carrot” cake and pumpkin greek yogurt cheesecake.
I’ve just started listening to this fantastic podcast called The Mystery Show. The production is absolutely first rate and the story telling just pulls you in. Each episode is self contained, so you don’t have to worry about committing to an entire season all at once.
Hope everyone is enjoying the gorgeous weather!
It’s a new month, my counting is done and I’m starting to finally think about FALL! The Fall has always been my absolute favourite season, possibly because my birthday is in October and growing up in northern Ontario meant experiencing the most breathtakingly beautiful change of scenery. So, I’ve never been one to lament the passing of summer… I say bring on the cooler evenings, crunchy leaves, homemade soup and sweaters!
Possibly in anticipation of the cooler weather, I’ve been in a bit of a hat groove the last few weeks. I so loved knitting with Acadia for my Lucinda (if things cool down this weekend, I’m hoping to get some pictures taken of the finished item!) that I decided to make a striped hat matching my leftover Thistle with the most perfectly named Blueberry. If the Canadian dollar wasn’t so depressingly low, I’d bring in other lines from the Fibre Company without hesitation. You really feel that there’s care and love behind the brand and the quality speaks for itself.
I also decided to join the latest hat KAL from Karen Templer of Fringe Association. This time it was the lovely Laurus and I used pink and grey Madelinetosh Vintage that I had left from my Lucy Hat. If you want to dip your toe into a bit of colourwork this is a great pattern to try. I made the beanie version, but I think I’ll make another with a bit more length.
I’ve finished my toe-up pair of summer socks, and I really like how the colour blocks turned out. Knitting with the Cascade Heritage Sock is a real joy.
My weekend knitting plan is to finish my Monkey socks, so good thing there’s lots of tennis, golf and baseball to watch! Go Jays!!
A few randoms:
Check out this amazing animated short from TED-Ed that explains how dogs smell… it does a wonderful job of succinctly explaining something that’s so amazingly complex.
This herb potato chickpea kale salad is on my list for the weekend…. the dressing sounds divine.
Aren’t these backpack charms fun? I think this would be a terrific project for a children’s birthday party.
If anyone is heading to Denmark before January, you must check out this exhibit of Bjorn Wiinblad at Arken, the Museum of Modern Art. Wiinblad is my absolute favourite designer of all time and I’m sorry I’ll miss seeing this. There’s an absolutely stunning ceramic fountain that he designed in Tivoli Gardens that is worth the price of admission.
Happy long weekend everyone!
Where to start?…. My week off was really wonderful. As I get older, I seem to enjoy going “home” more and more. When I was in high school I couldn’t wait to get out of the Soo which just felt so small and BORING to my teenage brain… now I’m struck by the physical beauty of the northern landscape and just how livable a place it is. I spent the week watching baseball with my Mom (go Jays!) and golfing with my brother, and just relaxing in that floaty, no-agenda, holiday way.
On the knitting front, I did finish my Lucinda while I was away, and boy is it beautiful… the pattern and yarn are a perfect match. I decided my first attempt at the neckline was too tight so I redid it, much to my Mom’s amazement. With the heat this week I couldn’t bear the idea of putting it on to take any photos so I’ll save that for later.
I seem to be in love with Acadia, as I decided to cast on a hat instead of my original plan of sock knitting. The pattern is a freebie called Katahdin, and it’s a pretty straightforward slouchy, stripe hat. I just love the subtle colours and the softness of the Acadia. And I love how quick and gratifying hats are!
The little baby vest above is something my Mom made from the rest of the skein of Madelinetosh Twist Light that I used for the linen stitch glasses case. The pattern is called Louise and it’s another Ravelry freebie. I think the pattern might not be the most clearly written, so it’s probably not for a beginner. Thanks Mom!
Some randoms for a Friday afternoon:
If you’ve been enjoying the corn bounty this month here’s a yummy looking Lemon Corn Chowder and this Zucchini Cornbread would go great with it.
The idea of nail polish on a mug sounds a bit weird to me, but I really like the effect.
I saw this knitting clock on Pinterest… I would love to know how it works! And I wonder how much it would crank out in a month.
This website on yarn substitutions is really great and I need to keep it bookmarked as I always forget about it.
If you’re looking for an end of summer outing, doesn’t a bike tour to wineries in Niagara sound wonderful? I’d love to try the 1:00 O’Clock Cruise with Farm Dog Cycles.
Ok lovely people, that’s it for today. Have a great weekend, and come check out the yarns on sale until next Saturday.
This week has been about getting organized to get away for a little holiday next week. I’m not sure if it’s a summer thing, but lately it feels like time is passing very quickly! And it always feels that the need for a break builds as you get closer to said break…. all that to say, I’m looking forward to heading up north to the Soo for a few days to hang with my family and just relax.
On the knitting front, I’ve finished the body of my lovely Lucinda and will start on a sleeve tonight (while watching the Blue Jays game… isn’t it fun being a Blue Jays fan at the moment?!). It’s a hard sweater to photograph so I’ll save it until it’s done for a big reveal. It has been a lovely knit all around… the pattern is well written and the yarn is absolutely divine.
My lovely and talented Mom made the sweet baby sweater up top. Isn’t it absolutely adorable?! It took 2 balls of Liberty Wool from Classic Elite, which is a super wash wool in really fun colour ways. I’ve got a pattern for a baby blanket that takes 4 balls that I think I’ll make later. I love the long colour changes. The pattern for the sweater is Beyond Puerperium and it looks like a good one.
A few pre-vacation randoms:
I made these corn and zucchini pancakes for dinner last night and they were a perfect compliment to bbq’d sausage. I’ve got my eye on this maple soy grilled salmon to make next week. Isn’t summer eating wonderful?
I saw this tutorial on Kitchener Stitch on Pinterest the other day, and it looks like one of the best I’ve seen. I’ve always had a mental block about Kitchener Stitch which is really silly as it’s not really that hard!
One of my knitting goals is to make a sweater with a steek, again something that has always scared me a bit. I’ve been obsessing over this Icelandic sweater for ages and it might be my final sweater for the year… I’m thinking of bringing in Lopi this fall… are there any Lopi lovers out there? Anyway, the incomparable Kate Davies has a wonderful steek tutorial that actually makes me think I might be able to do it!
I really love the UK craft magazine, Mollie Makes, and this hand woven rug made using a hula hoop and the Skacel Tee Cakes looks ingenious and so fun! It’s created by Ann Weil of Flax & Twine.
For the sewers out there, here’s a great tutorial for some drawstring bags . There is just too much gorgeous fabric out at the moment!
Have a great week everyone! A reminder that the shop will be closed from next Tuesday and open again on the 18th.
My magpie brain has continued this week, so instead of starting another small project in the middle of my Lucinda sweater, I have embarked on some embroidery… I mean the shop is Knit Stitch so this is filed under “stitch”!
I’ve taken some embroidery, hand and cross stitching classes in the past with the brilliant Carolanne Graham and Johanne Masko so this isn’t a completely random departure at least. Right now there’s something about being able to just play with colour that really appeals to me, and I love the slower pace and thoughtfulness of hand stitching. The above sampler is from the Etsy shop of Rebecca Ringquist of Dropcloth Samplers. I love the whimsical feel to it, and the fact that the design is printed and ready to go.
And some randoms:
This might be the most brilliant post I’ve read all year… I have pattern pdf’s for knitting, sewing, quilting etc etc stored on two computer desktops and in download files and in email folders… so I cannot wait for a bit of quiet time to fully explore the strategies that Jen outlines for keeping patterns organized.
Anyone with an ice cream maker needs to check out this wonderful recipe/formula. I love the idea of having a base that you can customize to your heart’s content. I mean isn’t that what ice cream is meant for?
I’m in the middle of reading A Shepherd’s Life and it’s such a terrific read. I heard James Rebanks on CBC radio in the spring and there was something so calm and smart about him that I knew I’d love this tale of farming in England’s Lake District. The passages about his bond with his grandfather and the passing along of skills between generations are especially moving without being sentimental.
If you need some viewing ideas for the weekend, I watched the lovely Enough Said on Netflix. It’s James Gandolfini’s last movie which is so sad… the role is about as far away as you can get from Tony Soprano. The chemistry between him and Julia Louis-Dreyfus is wonderful.
For indie music lovers, check out From Austin to Boston, a great documentary about four bands who make a two week road trip in VW vans. Ben Howard is probably the best known of the performers, but for me the real discovery was the beautiful harmony of The Staves. The doc reminded me of the crazy vibe of producing a television series which has a similar intensity and shared purpose.
Happy Friday everyone!