Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen... We Have, A Winner!

It's not all that often that I win something based strictly on luck. I know that we all say that... but it's true. I have never won the lottery. I have never won at the Bingo hall. I have never won a door prize at an event, and I have yet to win a cruise via telephone where they blast that horn in your ear.

I have had the odd bit of beginners luck here and there (there was that one time at the Black Jack table at The Flamingo in Vegas), but other than that... nada.

That is... until March 2013 rolled around.

My mom and I were in Baltimore for the Yarn Market News conference, and we were sitting around a large, circular table with six other yarn shop owners, about to eat lunch.

At each place setting, was a cute little ball of yarn that looked a little something like this. 

So, being the obedient lunch guest that I am, I did as I was told and unravelled.

While all of my lunch dates had a beautiful stitch marker in the centre of their little ball of yarn, I found myself with a note that said "You have won your choice of a bag of yarn, courtesy of Classic Elite Yarns". 

Well I'll be darned... if I didn't just win something right there!

So shocked was I, that I didn't even think to take a picture post-unravel. (Apologies for that. I know that pictures make a post way more fun).

After returning home and adjusting back to regular life, post-big-win, I went about choosing which bag of yarn I would like, all whilst giving it way more thought than it probably deserved... but I just couldn't help but "revel in my unravel"!

After much consideration, the yarn I ended up with was the beautiful Fresco. A yarn comprised of the perfect blend of merino, alpaca and angora. Oh swoon... 

So, how did I chose that particular yarn? You ask. I simply said to them "What is your best selling yarn?" And there were two answers to that question.

1- Liberty Wool A fabulous yarn that we have stocked in the shop for ages and I have knit with here and there. But I didn't need more... I have a whole shelf full of it at my place of work!

2- Fresco Well, well...

We stocked Fresco years ago at the shop, but it didn't ever do much for us. Of course... having a sample would have helped (something we just never got around to), and we blamed the sort-of/kind-of steep price point. We cleared it... and that was that.

Fast forward a few years however and I must say... now that I have knit with it. It is truly no surprise why this is one of their best selling yarns! So soft between the fingers, with a beautiful halo both on the skein AND the finished product. It's pure heaven on my needles.

I am kicking myself for not having had a sample for all of you fine customers to ogle all those years ago. 

And not just any sample, THIS sample. Because really, I can say as many good things about this pattern as I can about the yarn. 

Yarn- 9 skeins of Fresco, in shade 5350
Needles- 4mm Addi Turbo (what else!?!?!?)
The pattern is the "Lightweight Pullover" by Hannah Fetig, and it's not much more than some beautiful, clean stocking stitch, knit in the round with some deeply ribbed cuffs and waistband to keep everything where it should be.

Isn't it amazing when such simple elements can come together like this in one garment to create the most perfect, cozy sweater EVER?!?!

I made the cowl neck a tad longer than the pattern called for, as we all know how much I love to have my neck all cozy and warm. And as it turns out, this modification did exactly what I wanted it to do.

Which is a very good thing... because it apparently snows in this part of the world in mid-April.

This was just last week... I kid you not. 

To which I say "Thank the high heavens for my hand knits".

Stay warm dear friends!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Baby Boom

Whoa. I disappeared again there for a bit. Between just general busy-ness and an ill behaved laptop, things got a little hairy there for a while. Looks like I'm back in business however. So let's get caught up. Shall we?

Another (really good) reason for my online absence as of late, are all of the beautiful babes being born these days! Between my mom and I, we know fourteen little ones due over the next two months. Four of those babies arrived over the span of three days a few weeks back. So naturally, I got knitting...

Knitting striped hats for everyone!

And while I know that these are far too large for most newborn babes to wear right now (because sadly... they still need hats in mid-April in Canada it would seem...), I have been calling them their "Back to School" hats. Possibly in September, they will be able to yank this down over their little bald heads and stay warm throughout the chillier months that follow. 

And besides... even if they are too young to go to school, I still believe that everyone is entitled to a new outfit to kick off the fresh school year. 

Wouldn't you agree?

So, striped hats for one and all, using up all of my bits and pieces of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.

Knitting with this beautiful yarn, in very addictive little stripes has been simply heavenly.

And so are all of the beautiful little people that have just landed here on earth.

Yarn? Odds and ends of some Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.
Needles? 3.25mm double pointed.
Pattern? From the Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino Book 2. I love that book... dearly. But I did modify both the socks and the hat so that they are seamless. No one wants a seam in their sock! Come on Debbie!

So on this snowy April day... I leave you with this.

The Flower Shop at Liberty in London

Happy Spring everyone.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My Big Fat Irish Cranium

So, whoa. A month has slipped by on me. Where DID it go!?!?!? It has been a good month on this end. A really good month.One that included a trip to London with my family (more on that later), hosting a baby shower for a dear, dear friend, weekend house guests who convinced us a trip to the fabulous new aquarium in Toronto (AMAZING!) during March Break was a good idea... all topped with a pretty decent amount of knitting. All in all, two very enthusiastic thumbs up.

I figured that before I bore you with details of our latest travel adventure, I would share with you one of my latest finished projects. Besides... knitting is what brought you here in the first place. Isn't it?

It's nothing major. Nothing huge. But it's a hat.

A green hat that just so happens to be one day post St. Patrick's Day. Which admittedly... is pure coincidence. I really couldn't care less for that "holiday", despite my dark hair, pasty white skin and rather Irish sounding last name.

This lovely green hat came to be as a result of seeing a customer named Emily wearing this hat perched beautifully on her head. I asked her what pattern she had used, immediately proceeded to download it and then 100% copied her. Like... totally ripped off her style. Even her colour selection.


I cast on while in London, but knit the majority of it (read- all of it, minus the ribbing) on the plane coming home as I was glued to that tiny tv screen they sit you in front of for the entirety of the flight. (Anyone out there seen Captain Phillips?!?!? I was DYING the entire movie. OH MY GOSH! So intense... Be glad you weren't sitting next to me during that haul home. The noises that I was making were truly outrageous for an airplane.)

Sadly, the one thing that I forgot to consider while knitting this beautiful green hat however... is that I have one giant Irish head. My newly knit hat just didn't look quite the same on my head as it did Emily's.

Either I have an huge head... or that movie was just too much for me to handle, thus affecting my gauge.

I suspect it's my skull that's the problem however... as this isn't the first time I have encountered this situation in my knitting career.

But instead of ripping it out and starting again, I just cast on another one.

And knit it until it did fit my giant melon.

Should you be so inclined to copy Emily, I wouldn't blame you. Here is what you will need to know.

Pattern- Upper East Side by Joji Locatelli.
Size- The first one I knit was a medium, then went on to knit a large for the second version. Despite the pattern's description... I did not end up with a 'very' slouchy beret. Simply, a hat that fits.
Yarn- Three balls of Zara Chine in shade 815 (three balls made two hats).
Needles- 3.5mm and 4mm, 40 cm circular and 4mm double points (for the crown of the hat).

The original itsy-bitsy version that I didn't dare try to model for you...

So my dear knitting friends, it would appear as though we are still in need of our hats in this part of the world.

Rest assured however, that Spring has sprung in London-town.

Which means that we cannot be too far behind.

Friday, February 14, 2014

This, Is Love

Last week, a really good friend of mine sent me a text that said "I just discovered 2x giant holes in my only pair of hand knit socks circa 5 years ago. Can I mend them?" 

Following the message, was this image.

Valentine's Stripes for Valentine's Day
Wait a minute now... I knit those socks! And I completely forgot about them! And to see that they have been loved for the past five years to the point of big-toe-sized holes... makes me more than willing to cast on a new pair for the girl.

The holes in these socks my friends... is love. 

And replacing them is the least that I can do.

So on this Valentine's Day, I wish you nothing but the kind of love that all the hand knit socks like these ones have received.

Big love to you.
And to your knitting.

Not just today, but everyday.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Some Valentine's Day "Crafting"

It's no secret that my favorite holiday of ALL time, is Valentine's Day. I can't help it! I just... love it. The red, the pink, the sweets, the hearts... it's perfect. It's especially perfect at this time of year. Come on... what else is REALLY going on these days anyway? Not a whole lot other than... snow. And ice. And aren't we bored of talking about all of that already? It's about time that we focus on the bright and happy.

While in the past I have opted to do some Valentine's knitting (see here and here for documentation), this year I thought I would do some 'crafting' instead.

And while I have no issue with 'crafting' generally speaking... I have a hard time bundling knitting and crocheting up into this category. While non-knitters and big box craft stores might argue otherwise, I would like to go on the record as stating that our "craft", is in a league of it's own. But I digress...

Last year, a neighbour of Mary's Yarns posted a video on Youtube of a "DIY Woven Heart". I loved it, and mentally bookmarked it in my brain. And shockingly... I actually remembered and followed through with it this year.

On a recent trip to the Home Depot to pick up light switch plates and a new bathroom faucet, I also swung by the flooring department and snagged myself this big ol' square of wood. But not because I plan on laying flooring anytime soon...

But because I had an odd ball of Cascade 220 kicking around my house.

So, there you have it.

My very own version of a woven Valentine's heart.

What better way to use up that pesky ball of yarn that's just begging to be used?

Action shot at the shop
Should you be so inclined to give this a try out for yourself (or maybe even just mentally bookmark it for next year)... here is the video that inspired me to get all crafty in the first place.

Big thanks to the Blossom Girls for the inspiration.

And Happy Valentine's Eve to all of you.

Icicles at the shop this week

Surely when it looks like this outside, it can't hurt you to find a little love in your heart.

It's most definitely the cheapest way to stay warm this time of year.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Public Service Announcement

This past Christmas, I unwrapped a yarn bowl. And I'm not going to lie... I was sort of like "Uhm... OK. That's weird. But a pretty obvious gift for a knitter like me, I guess."

I must confess... up until Christmas day, I had never used a yarn bowl before. Of course I had seen them, heard of them, and pretended to enthuse over them when people told me about them... but I really had no interest in acquiring one for myself.

But as I was coming down from my Christmas Day high while cozied up in my chair with a new project all ready to go, I reached for that yarn bowl and popped in my freshly wound ball of yarn.

And low and behold... it was like magic.

My dear friends and knitters... I eat my words. This beautiful bowl has quite quickly become my most beloved knitting tool. No knitter should be without!

No more am I allowing my yarn to roll around the floor all willy-nilly-like! It now stays in one place and smoothly provides me with just the right amount of yarn as my needles require it. No tangles, no knots, no crawling under the couch to retrieve a rogue ball. It's all there, right in one place- in my pretty purple bowl.

So go and buy yourself one. And then buy one for every knitter that you know! (That's the public service announcement I promised you in the title of this post). You will surely fall in love with yours, just as I have mine.

 Yarn Bowl by Rosemary Jenkins- potter extraordinaire

 As if working with yarn wasn't beautiful enough... a beautiful yarn bowl is just the cherry on the already VERY delicious cake.

It's so cold, it's PURPLE out there! Just like my yarn bowl...

Be warm dear knitters!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Oh, Canada

Canadian crocheters- the ultimate in "kindness".