Some Stuff I Like

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Marisol by Mags Kandis

One of the things I like best about working in a yarn shop is my bird’s-eye view of some pretty brilliant project ideas. Because Prince Edward County is quite a popular vacation destination in the summertime, we see visitors coming from everywhere. We’re about half way between Toronto and Montreal so, predictably we get many a tourist from Quebec. Recently, a lovely lady turned me on to Espace Tricot, a yarn shop (and blog) from Montreal where are designed some really marvelous things. I find I’m fascinated by the detail, simplicity and inventive use of materials in these designs. I do so love to see simple things done well!

That same nice lady came in to the shop wearing the absolutely groovy “Pop Spots” by Loop of London. I think our lady’s turned out better than the original! She used a Madeline Tosh for the shawl and a Freja gradient for the spots.

Downtown Jacket by Elizabeth McCartenA frequent visitor to our shop is the talented Elizabeth McCarten, author of the knitting blog Chez Lizzie, whose design details have been described by Vogue Knitting as “show-stopping”. Elizabeth is simply inspiring. She’s always got a new sleeper of a yarn (like crispy-softy Einband Icelandic Lace ) or some clever design-in-progress in her roomy tote bag. She’s famous for rummaging around in the depths of the tote and pulling out something amazing. I’m a huge fan and can’t wait to knit her Downtown Jacket. I’m going to do it this fall in an Elizabeth-approved shade of deep red.

When I arrived at work on Wednesday, a rainy day, a petite, pretty lady with a big umbrella nipped in to the shop before I’d even opened. Can you believe…Mags Kandis! I’ve long admired Mags and loved her book “Gifted”, and was shocked to find that she’s a resident of PEC as well. I love the sense of honest, confident whimsy in Mags work.

So I have to say, I love being in the shop, particularly on days when I get to try a new-to-me yarn. I came home yesterday with a sweet little skein of Koigu which is made here in Ontario. I’d heard of it, naturally, but never had a skein. Oh my goodness! I can see what all the fuss is about…it is really extraordinary. The twist is inexpressibly lovely, the color sublime. I don’t know if you can see it in the photo but it looks breathtaking mounted on my rainbow wood needles :)

Koigu KPPPM

Summer Vacation, Visits and a Great Little Getaway!

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Pleasant Beach

Today is really the first day of “back-to-normal” for me after about three weeks of fun summer activities. I had hubby home for about ten days; we did a bit of tootling about the County, enjoying our little island. We’ve also had some rare and precious visits from friends from the South during which we took a truly splendid trip to upstate New York.

When I lived in New Orleans, I shared a big, antique, French Colonial house in the Faubourg Marigny with some really wonderful people, most notably my dear Bubba. Though we all had our own apartments, it was a little like a frat house for grown-ups. We shared a charming courtyard, ate together a few times a week and had a fabulous series of rotating cocktail parties. Most of us have gone our separate ways by now, so it was a real treat to have Bubba come for a visit to the North. With Miss Laura ensconced in the forest as usual at the Sterling Renaissance Faire, it seemed like a great idea to meet up in Niagara Falls, drive along the south shore of Lake Ontario along the Seaway Trail and spend a few days in Fair Haven.

I started by dropping Teddy off at Doggie-Camp and continuing to Toronto. I left a little early in order to allow some time for a visit to Passionknit. Oh my goodness, what an incredible selection of Koigu! I escaped with two precious skeins of Lotus Mink/Silk Blend and an interesting Ella Rae product I’d been previously unaware of. I didn’t know Ella made this lovely 100% merino 3-ply fingering weight! I got it in a subtle oyster-y shade.

That evening, we enjoyed a rare-these-days evening with the Robinsons. We ate ourselves silly at Bar Italia (where I was courted years ago by a certain gentleman ;) and shared a beautiful bottle of wine. Early next morning, we set off for the Falls! Bubba had never been to the Falls before and we’d never seen it from the U.S. side. Spectacular!

Niagara Falls

Pleasant Beach DetailsOn Laura’s recommendation, we checked in at the Pleasant Beach Hotel in Fair Haven. What a great little inn…charming, quaint and restful and stuffed with little details like this jar of old thread I found on our vanity. The view of Little Sodus Bay was enchanting and very calm, the bar was fun and friendly and the food was rustic and yummy. I can see myself going there again and again!

Miss Laura has been a participant at Sterling for almost 30 years and, though the “Renaissance Faire Thing” is not something I’d normally do, I try to get over to see her there a least once during the summer since it’s nice having her so close. This year, with Bubba’s visit, we decided to do the whole nine yards. We all got dressed as Renaissance characters and spent the day at the Faire watching the jousting, listening to Renaissance music and, for the boys a least, eating gigantic smoked turkey legs :D 

We rounded out the weekend with a visit to the Fly-By-Night Cookie Company which is owned by Laura’s Mom. It is really magical…like walking into another world. And the cookies really are fantastic!

And, the summer is still young! We may well squeeze in more fun before all is said and done.

Ahhh! Summer!

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Grilled Salmon w/ Mango Salsa

We’ve sure earned it this year! What a beautiful pay-back summer it has been thus far. This past weekend was Canada Day, our version of the 4th of July, stretched a little further because it fell on a Tuesday. It’s been an extra long weekend with lots of lovely visitors to our little island. Carl did most of the cooking including the extra pretty and delicious grilled salmon with mango salsa (above), which made the weekend much, much better for me ;)

Purlin' J's Roving Yarn Co.

To kick it off, we took a little tootle to Kingston where I was lucky enough to find, quite by accident, the enchanting Purlin’ J and her incredible Roving Yarn Truck. It’s an amazing idea and Joan has carried it out with such style! I love the chalkboard graphics that form the backbone of Purlin’ J’s super appealing visual identity. She backs it up with some stellar yarns, too. Although we were there before the truck was officially open, I managed to score a gorgeous hand dyed skein of Anywyn Studio merino sock yarn in the most dulcet shade of robin’s egg blue. Anwyn Studio is a venture launched in November 2013 by Meriel Taylor, a talented spinner and dyer. It’s an open studio where one can experiment and learn about the fibre arts. They also offer all kinds of interesting classes. I think I’ll go visit this week!

We hopped on the Glenora Ferry which carried us from nearly-Kingston to nearly-Picton. I hadn’t realized what a great resource the ferry is. It is so quick and so scenic…I may never take the 401 again! Kind of fun playing the tourist in your own town.

While Mumsie was with us, we had an opportunity to discover one of The County’s new wineries. Three Dog Winery, though they’ve been involved in viticulture for a number of years, has just this summer opened their tasting bar and wine outlet. It is small, unpretentious and feels like you’re visiting neighbors for cocktails on the deck. I can highly recommend the Rosé, having schwaffed back a couple of bottles ;)

Betwixt times, I’ve been knitting, knitting, knitting and writing patterns, none of which can be revealed. I’ve been hearing many knitters say they’re knitting indoors in the A/C or near a fan, but not I! I’ve been knitting outside in my “summer office” where I shall remain until it snows.

Summer Office

Herringbone

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Herringbone Stitch

I’ve got a couple of handbag patterns on my desk that I’ve been wanting to write, one in Quince & Co. “Sparrow” and one in Rowan Handknit Cotton. I love herringbone for bags because it is strong, pretty and has very little stretch. I also love the woven look that herringbone produces.

Jones & Vandermeer HerringboneA little research revealed that there are many variations of this hardworking little stitch! I am especially taken with the two-color variations; the contrast really highlights the classic woven texture.

AstridKnits Herringbone

Here’s a narrower version I really like. This is the extremely popular cowl pattern from Purlbee,

Purlbee Herringbone Cowl

but I’m very taken with this stitch when it’s worked in a more open manner in a yarn with some halo.

Room on the Left HerringboneHerringbone LinenI’m working a herringbone linen stitch which shall shortly be a tote bag. I’ll be adding some brown leather straps conveniently punched with sewing holes. I’m enjoying the Rowan Handknit Cotton. It is tightly spun yet soft with a very firm tubular quality…like knitting with spaghetti. And it comes in the most unabashed color range!

Rowan Handknit CottonThis plus a planned trip to the brand new Three Dog Winery should make for a very nice weekend! Happy Friday, y’all!

Sock Camp

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Sock Camp 2014

Hurray for Sock Camp! There will be a Sock Camp at Rosehaven in August, exact date to be confirmed, just in time for fall knitting. Sock knitting seems to be something everyone wants to learn. We’ll be using the new worsted weight Fortissima Mexiko 8-ply sock yarns; they knit up so quickly in great, bright colors. With larger stitches, sock shaping techniques should be much easier to see and understand, and it’s so much less daunting than the traditional fingering weight sock yarn. It’ll be a full day camp making it achievable for folks who are coming from nearby towns. Picton is such a beautiful little town to visit in the summer; there are lots of little cafes, coffee shops and boutiques. I think it’s going to be fun!

While we’re at CreativFestival Fall 2014, I’m going to be doing a workshop about Two-at-a-Time Top-Down Socks. SO fast, no second sock syndrome,Little Socks fun and DONE. That’s how we’ll be knitting at Sock Camp…two-at-a-time on two circular needles. I made these little guys in a morning and had enough yarn left over for a little matching cap :)

North Pole Socks

I’ve been experimenting with Regia’s North Pole sock yarn too. This is a DK weight self-patterning sock yarn with a slightly felted feel. Though I’m a little ‘over’ the self-patterning thing, this is a truly lovely yarn to work. It’s soft, very lofty and works up in a wink. I’ll never forget the cold feet of this past winter so I think I’ll be whipping up several pair of these! That having been said, I’m really craving some sock solids. I want to work on some color work ideas I have. I’ve long wondered about KnitPicks Stroll solids…anybody tried ‘em?

A New Pattern!

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Two-Tone Tea Cozy

Tea CozyI’ve finally managed to make my Two-Tone Tea Cozy pattern available on Ravelry! It is also available in printed form at Rosehaven. I’ve made many, many of these in stripes, polka dots and solids. We’ve used this pattern in our Knitting in the Round class at the shop with great results. It’s a fun, quick knit that adapts readily to just about any quirky color combination, motif or embellishment you’d like to try. Lesley is making one that looks right out of Dr. Seuss! It’s also super portable so it makes a great summer knitting project. Now that I’ve figured it out, I’ll get busy with some others.

Dizzy Drivers for Dad

Dizzy Drivers 2Got something for Pops? I get a big kick out of retro golf club covers…I don’t know why. Judging by the lack of response to a planned workshop about these and Carls less-than-enthusiastic “meh”, I think I’m the only one who loves them. Nevertheless, I made five! I think they look kind of cute and colorful in the shop window and I had a great time playing with some simple stranded motifs. We’ll see if they tickle anyone’s sense of imagination…we still have 4 days ’til Father’s Day.

Lots & Lots of Little Things

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Sheep in the County

Been busy ’round here! Guess that’s why I haven’t popped in for a while. Due to the sad, neglected state of my Ravelry page, I’ve been spending lots of time working out some of the many patterns-in-progress that have accumulated on my desk. I keep saying I’ll write them, then I become distracted. I’ve thought of a term for it though…”procastonation”: procrastinating one project by casting on another. I’m trying to write and print some small and easy “summer travel” style knitting patterns. You know…quick hats, socks with the new DK and worsted weight sock yarn…that sort of thing. Predictably, folks want portable knitting projects with nearly instant gratification at this time of year. That’s not to say I don’t still have at least three half-written sweater patterns mid-way down the pile.

Simple Simon

Classes are in full swing, although I haven’t had a ton of sign-ups <sigh>…it’s a tough sell in the summer time. (I’ve gone for quality over quantity ;) It gives me no end of satisfaction when our knitters complete their projects. Inevitably, they’re amazed that they’ve actually managed to do it! It’s a thrill to see people discover something new in themselves. Juliet and Anne are both super-functioning, highly intelligent people. Both have achieved really great success in real life but they are genuinely puffed up with the excitement of knitting. Kinda nice!

Two-at-a-Time SocksHaving said that, it takes a lot of time to prepare a class; writing, planning, knitting samples, practicing and timing. I’m in the throes of preparing my two-at-a-time, top-down sock class for Creativ Fall 2014. It’s a big show with a big 30-person classroom so I’m hoping there will be lots of eager sock knitters out there.

Though the label “Gardener” will never appear next to my name in this life, something has actually bloomed in my garden. Shocking. This is the Bleeding Heart given to us by Mumsie about three years ago. This is the first time it has bloomed. That should tell you something about my gardening prowess.

Bleeding HeartApart from that…I haven’t touched my oven in weeks. ‘Tis the barbeque season, which may account for the potato salad ring around my middle. That’s all the news that’s fit to print :)

Diagon Alley

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Bias Binding from Twenga

A fixation with WYS Blueface Leicester took hold of me the other day. I know, I know…I’m supposed to be obsessed with cotton, linen and silk these days and I suppose I am. But I came upon a skein of this remarkable yarn while going through my stash looking for, well, cotton, linen and silk. Anyway, it got me thinking about a design I’ve had in my mind for quite some time and that, in turn, got me looking into knitting on the bias.

Colorblock Bias BlanketThough I’ve been a life-long lover of bias cuts in sewing, bias knitting has never held any particular fascination for me. However, when given more than a cursory glance, I begin to realize what a wealth of possibility it holds. Take, for example, the marvelously simple yarn showcase that is Purlbee’s Colorblock Bias Blanket. (After many happy days spent knitting my Sochi Cowl, you’d think I’d have had it up to here with garter stitch…but no!) This pattern is a great entrè into the mechanics of bias knitting. As soon as I find a yarn that inspires me, I shall knit it to death.Leftie by Martina Behm

But that’s not all. I guess I’ve been using bias knitting more than I knew. It’s the principal in use when we knit center-spine shawls and patterns where a central double decrease is flanked by single increases. Voila! Bias knitting. Martina Behm is kind of a reigning queen of bias knitting, for me anyway. Her Leftie shawl has long been an object of my admiration.

Sawtooth Edge Scarf by Susan MillsSawtooth edging is also achieved by knitting diagonally. This bright scarf by Susan Mills reminds me of Mardi Gras ;) For this skirt by Kira Dulaney, the edging is knitted separately and sewn on.Sawtooth Skirt by Kira Dulaney

These crazy-clever Concentric Socks take the cake, though. Carissa Browning has used bias techniques in combination with some genius shaping resulting in something really innovative. 

Concentric Socks by Carissa Browning

I really love the way the cables in this gorgeous Sideways Shawl by Leslie Weber stand off from the bias-knit garter stitch background. I could see this being a throw for those chilly evenings in our little stone church. 

Sideways Shawl by Leslie Weber

April Showers

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April Showers

I love rainy days, especially when I don’t have to leave the house. I like to think about how green the grass is getting; I use the ‘green’ image to forget the ‘white’ image that’s lodged in my post eternal-winter brain. Today is one of those lovely rainy days. I’m pulling out some works in progress and admiring them, patting myself on the back (or kicking myself in the a** depending on the project), and dreaming about what I’d like to do next. Today is not a day for pressure-knitting.

Noro/Kauni Cardigan

I’m delighted with my Kauni Cardigan. I use the word “Kauni” very loosely…it is the name of the yarn used in the pattern; since I’ve used Noro Taiyo Sock, I don’t feel terribly entitled to use the moniker. I love the shape and the method. It seems the older I get, the more I admire simple shapes. This is not to say that I don’t love me some complex shaping, however. I can’t believe how fast this has gone! I’ve got about 6 rows to knit before I steek and start the sleeves. Since the yarn is a cotton/wool/silk blend, I think it’s something I’ll wear a lot this summer (only a displaced Southerner would think about ‘summer sweaters’ :D) The Noro color-changes are not as predictable as those of Kauni, so I’ve had to selectively intervene a little.  I’d like to do another cardi like this one using my own motifs and perhaps a loftier yarn in warm colors.

Boboli Elder TreeEarlier in the spring, we got a nifty new yarn in the shop. It’s a Berroco…Boboli Lace. Though it’s not strictly a lace yarn, its single-ply silky, shimmery, fluffiness makes it kind of responsive to lace knitting techniques. It comes in some pretty magnificent colors, so I’ve been eyeballing it. I finally grabbed a skein in Fondant to knit a sample for the shop. I thought a casual, simple lace motif would be best so I’ve chosen Sylvia Bo Bilvia’s Elder Tree Shawl. The pattern called for a worsted so my motifs are a little smaller, but overall I’m very pleased. If I could find the perfect multi-colored beads, I’d bead the lower edge.

Golf Club CoversMy golf club covers (which should have been finished long ago) are still on the needles. Partly, this is due to indecision. Partly, I’m saving them for car-knitting. Mumsie is in hospital an hour from our place. They’ll be adorable once they’re done.

Now for the dreaming :) I couldn’t resist this dreamy aqua lace-weight Pima-Lino. I’m going to do “Longing for Robin’s Return” which has been on my Ravelry queue for about a year. Y’know…I might just light a fire, make some tea, and cast it on this afternoon!

A Love/Hate Relationship

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Noro/Kauni

I think everyone knows that I have a love/hate relationship with Noro. I have expounded vociferously about Noro on a number of occasions. Yet…

IMG_4055-001It started again when our stock of Noro sock yarn went on sale. Between my employee discount and the discounted shelf price, I simply could not help myself. I was powerless against the deep, saturated and enigmatic color of Noro. So, I picked up enough for the Kauni Cardigan I’ve been wanting to make. This pattern is intriguing. I’ve always wanted to try working two skeins of effect yarn against each other. I’d looked at Regia Effect (among others), but was not smitten with the colorways as I was with the Noro.Kauni

In the past, I’d worked with the worsted weight Noro Taiyo and was frustrated by the weaker, under-spun areas. It kept shattering. I kept swearing. And I feared that the Taiyo Sock would be the same. Not so! I don’t know if it’s the addition of nylon (although, now that I look, I find that the worsted weight contains nylon as well) or what, but the Taiyo sock is proving to be strong and resilient, if a little demanding tension-wise. So far so good! And, it’s definitely all I hoped and dreamed of as far as color is concerned. 

Altogether, a spell-binding knit!

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