Monday, April 30, 2012

Aasha Cowl

I have been taking part in a test knit on Ravelry for a very cute cowl.  Ravelry has a neat set up for designers that would like their patterns tested, and knitters who would like to knit a pattern for free, and before it is released to the public.  So here I am, testing!  I am using sportweight rather than DK or Laceweight, so I will probably need to knit a second item to comply with the test.  However, as I was in Tofino on a knitting retreat -d this is what I found in the local (very lovely) knitting shop!

I knit five repeats, wet & blocked and then grafted together.  I started trying to match my stitches for grafting and got in a bit of a mess, so I 're' grafted all the stitches the same (knit) and it looks perfect!

The time that I took to knit this are misleading - I have been on vacation with little knitting time.  I think it would only take a couple of evenings if this was your only project on the go (if you get what I am saying!!)


Pre Blocking - 15" x 3.5"
Post Blocking - 17.5" x 7.5"

I wasn't very aggressive with the blocking - I read the comments from one of the other testers who did not want a baggy cowl, so I was more concerned with the width rather than the length.  As it is, is snugs beautifully around my neck and will be great in the autumn/winter.  The alpaca in the yarn makes it VERY warm!

I had no problem with the pattern - I use charts and it is well set out and easy to read.

This would be a perfect 'last minute' gift, knitted up in a special yarn.

Thank-you for letting me test :o)

The Yarn:


Upside Down Blocking - Hey, it looks good both sides!

All Done!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Getting my Read Back

Last year hubby and I bought iPads.  My-oh-my, they are fabulous.  They are small, portable, easy to use . . . . I could go on and on, but until I am on the Apple payroll, that is probably enough for now!

I read the newspaper on my iPad, as well as blogs, the weather, sewing sites etc., etc., etc.,  One of the downsides though, has been that I have lost my 'read'.  I am so used to reading small 'read-bites' (a bit like 'sound-bites', but written!) that I have had problems concentrating on anything longer.  Now this is a real shame as I love reading.  I have a voracious reading appetite, and in the past have always had a book (or two) in my hand, bag, by the bed, next to the sofa, etc.  I particularly enjoy mysteries (I was a Police Office for many years int he UK, some habits are hard to break!) as well as travel journals, historical novels, gardening books - pretty much any written word.

The solution to this problem - was the trip to Tofino.  A room that does not have a TV and barely has WiFi soon got me back on track :o)

I am happy to report that I finished this book whilst I was away . . .


And am now happily ensconced in this!


Happy Days!

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Every now and then I go through a bit of a drought.  I think that the problem is that I love too many crafts.  And I can get a bit obsessive.  I love knitting socks - they are quick (ish), easy and transportable.  They one take about 100gms (or one skein), can be knit up on a circular needle and fit in a ziplock bag I am going to rectify that last comment in the near future and turn some of my fabric into chic knitting bags - watch this space!

I have recently moved into shawls and knit these two:

Grains of Salt


And with the yarn I bought in Tofino, I predict a lot more in the future!

But this is only one hobby - I also enjoy beading, cardmaking, cross-stitch, sewing - you get the picture.  So, I think that I may have to close down one of these hobbies.  At least for the time being.  This will give me more space in my craft room, removing clutter from both the room and my head.  I have been obsessively following the blogs of Male Pattern Boldness, the Diary of a Sewing Fanatic and Frocks and Frou Frou.  The first two are written by two of the most talented sewers I have 'read', and the last two by fashionistas.  And boy are they inspiring.  The two ladies would fit into plus sized styling and are pure inspirations - I would encourage all fashion conscious, vintage inspired, sewing/non-sewing personages to check out their blogs.

So, cardmaking - I am afraid that you will be boxed up and put into the garage for a while while I concentrate on some dressmaking.  I am very excited having recently cataloged my patterns and fabric using a very nifty application on my iPad (hey, I mentioned that I was obsessive).  So this weekend I plan to get my craft room in shape and start planning my new wardrobe!

Just to finish off, I picked our two greyhounds up from the kennels where they had been holidaying whilst we were in BC, and this cartoon sprang to mind . . . . .

Friday, April 27, 2012

Yarn Candy

Whilst in Tofino I bought some gorgeous yarn from Knits by the Sea - well, it would have been rude not too!  As I love knitting with thinner gauge yarn, and as I have enough fingering weight to sink a battleship (yep, really), I bought two skeins of Sweatermaker 'Fiona' in a merino/silk mix.



The yarn is very soft and smooshy and will be transformed into shawls/wraps or scarves in the future.  Maybe not the near future . . . but you never know!  The yardage is good - 700m per skein, so each one will make a substantial garment.

The yarn is local to BC and I try and purchase yarn that I would not dye - usually due to the weight or color/pattern.

I am really loving the soft, pastels hues, and actually loaded up some skeins that I had dyed to my Etsy shop.  I love dyeing yarn, but as I mix many colors - I run out of names for them all.  Previously I used names inspired by witches and their spells such as Marygold and Verbena - and I will use those names again when I dye up the same mix, but I wanted to dye a batch of yellows for the SolidSocks group on Ravelry, and I rather ran our of naming inspiration (fortunately not dyeing inspiration), so I cheated!  I would like to introduce you to:

Yellow #2
 Yellow #3

 and Yellow #5!

Hey, it works!  Simple but effective . . . . and I used my new skills from the photography class to take clear, naturally lit pictures!

Tofino - the Retreat

Wow!  We have just returned home from a lovely week spent in Tofino and Victoria B.C.  The reason for the visit was a retreat organized by Knits by the Sea.  The 'teacher' was Amy Swenson who taught us all about different shapes for shawl knitting, basic triangle, wedge and crescent.  She also gave us a great tutorial on photography - as it relates to the knitting/yarn that we use.  She was very inspirational and I am buzzing with ideas!

We stayed in the lovely Middle Beach Lodge and Ellie from Knits by the Sea booked the great-room/lounge for our classes.  Due to the number of attending knitters (about two dozen), we took over the whole lodge.  Great fun!

This was the view from our room:

Absolutely stunning.  Going to sleep and then waking up to the sounds of the waves crashing on the beach was amazing.  It makes you think about what you would like to do in the future - you know, when retirement comes knocking on the door.  I have a few years to go yet, but living by the sea is certainly top of my list.

During the photography session, the lovely Ellie from Knits by the Sea kindly modeled my Grains of Salt shawl that I test knit for Maja - the pattern is available on Ravelry, is is a great, fun knit.


Interestingly, this was the only picture that I took with the light shining through the shawl as the small 'view' on the back of my camera did not look too good - but in the end, this was my favorite photo - I love the way the beach and sky open up the lace. - Thanks Ellie, your cheque is in the post!!

This is the second retreat that Ellie has organized - Cookie A came last year and I am looking forward to seeing who we will have next year!

Here are a few more gratuitous holiday pics!

And last but not least - check out the lovely, plump starfish.  Totally adorable!