A parade of finished objects

Hi there, how are you today? I hope you are well and enjoying the time leading up to the Christmas holidays. I hope you will get a few days off to enjoy the time with your family. I get a couple of days off around the Christmas weekend so that will be a wonderful and welcome break from work.

We are not going to Iceland for Christmas and New Years this year. Most years we go to Iceland because the holidays are just more magical there and also we have more family there and Christmas is just generally  a bigger celebration there and New Years with all the fireworks is way better than here in France. Sadly this  year we will not be able to go so we will be celebrating with friends and family here in Normandy. We have set up our Christmas tree and decorations and feeling the Christmas spirit coming. This leads to gift shopping of course! I like shopping but I really do not enjoy it at this time of year. All the shops are so crowded, people everywhere. It just takes all the fun out of the shopping I think and so I have been doing my shopping online. Not as much fun but at least it’s less stressful.

But I’m not only doing store bought gifts this year. I wasn’t going to do any Christmas Gift knitting this year and then somehow I just am! No idea how that happened but here I am! So last year I knit the adults in my family hats and mittens and this year I’m doing hats and cowls and I’m knitting for the children as well. I have been knitting like a crazy person this past week and I still have a hat and a half to go plus 4 cowls!  Not to panic though because I plan to go to Iceland at the very beginning of next year and so I will be delivering my gifts in person. That gives me a few extra days which will me much needed.

So here are some pictures of what I have done so far:

img_6367-1This is the Antler hat – a free pattern on Ravelry by Tin Can Knits and I knit this out of my own hand dyed super wash merino DK yarn. It’s a fun pattern and I’m considering buying the mitten pattern that goes with this.

 

The Maryam hat by Mina Philipp – a paid for pattern on Ravlery and I used a 100% non super wash aran weight BFL yarn that I had all dyed up.

 

img_6370The Open skies hat also by Mina Philipp – a paid for pattern on Ravelry

img_6369This hat is knit out of some of my handspun yarn and I really love how the yarn knit up. I did a navajo ply so this is a 3 ply yarn and that explains the striping/colour distinction you see going on. This is about a DK weight I think. The pattern is Latu by Meiju K-P and this is a free pattern on Ravelry.

And then there is the Barley hat by Tin Can Knits- another free pattern on Ravelry

img_6368I again used my DK merino yarn for this hat and really like the outcome.

So just two more to finish! I hope these will be appreciated by the recipients.

Another project that I finished last week and that I’m super proud of are the O.W.L mittens for my daughter. This is  a Harry Potter inspired pattern that can be found in the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits magazine by Interweave Press. I used my own hand dyed fingering weight yarn and I’m super happy with the outcome and so is my daughter. I did apprehend these a little to begin with but I was so lucky that Andrea of the Fruity Knitting Podcast did a fair isle tutorial in her last episode and that was a true revelation for me. It helped me with yarn management and knitting with one yarn in each hand and how to catch your floats impeccably. And so these actually were finished quite quickly once I had seen the tutorial.

The front is the owl and the back or palm has the spells written out.  That was a big “small” project that I’m so happy with having finished successfully.

I think that’s about all for today. This week I’m of course continuing on my gift knitting so hats and cowls for this week. I’m also working on socks, two pairs actually. One is for a new years gift and the other is a test knit that I will share with you next time.

I wish you a wonderful week and hope you have plenty of knitting time to destress before the holidays. So until next time, happy knitting and take care 🙂

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This and that

Hi there how are you today? I hope you are doing good and enjoying this new week. Here in Normandy, France the weather is getting colder every day and we have had a lot of strong winds and rain. Just an all over “stay inside and knit” weather. And according to the weatherman, that’s what we will be getting all week long. I do find bad weather a bit depressing, especially when I’m working. I don’t mind so much on a Sunday when bad weather is the perfect “excuse” to just cozy up in a comfortable chair and knit all day long. I never get enough of those days.

Christmas is not far off now and we are seeing Christmas decorations being put up in the streets and my youngest is already counting down the days till Christmas. So far I have not done any Christmas gift knitting and I don’t think I will. I did knit a lot for last Christmas where I gave hat and mittens to a number of my family members. It wasn’t stressful or anything but this year I just don’t feel like it. Also I feel I just have so many things already on my needles that I really need to work on and most of those are either for myself or my kids. What about you? Are you doing Christmas gift knitting? If yes, what type of projects are you knitting or what type of projects do you usually knit as gifts? I’d love to hear from you if you care to share by leaving a comment below.

I have done lots of knitting this past week I think. I finished a pair of socks that I was test knitting and I have cast on for the second pair of test knit socks. I’m at the gusset on the first sock of this second pair. It is a two colour, slip stitch pattern and it goes quite fast but it does require some attention so I can only knit on this in the evening or weekends. It’s not the type of knitting I can do in between phone calls and just put down and pick up without further thought. Once the designer publishes her patterns I’ll be sharing the pictures with you here.

I have one finished object to share with you and that is a hat. I based it somewhat on the Sock Head Hat  but I did cast on fewer stitches and the cuff/ribbing is not as long. Also I used a colour work technique called Helix knitting. I used one colour, silver, for the ribbing and then 4 colours for the main body of the hat. To do Helix knitting you need to divide the number of stitches with the number of colours you are going to use. In my case I used 4 colours and that meant knitting each row with 4 different colours so to avoid a huge yarn tangle, one has to manage the balls of yarns and I used to move them around in the order I was using them and that worked very well. When doing Helix knitting, it is very important NOT to cross the yarns, that is when you leave one colour and pick up the next you do NOT twist the two yarns together as one would do in intarsia for example. You just have to leave the old yarn tail and pick up the new.

I find this technique really amazing because although your work is divided into sections of colour, when you look at your knitting, you could never guess it. This produces a striping effect with no jogs. What Helix knitting is, is in fact a technique that produces a spiral  of colour and I have some pictures to show you that will better explain what I mean.

helix-hat This is my finished hat. Like I said above, I used 4 colours so you see a pattern repeat of 4 colour stripes. On the very first row after the ribbing you can see the beginning of the spiral, you have some yellow and then some red.

helix-hat-with-yarnHere you can see the work from the “knitters perspective” and you can see that I’m knitting with all four colours each round.

helix-hat-yarn

I kept my yarns in a tote next to me and moved each ball away from me once I was finished knitting that particular colour and that helped me avoid a huge yarn tangle.

helix-hat-topIf you look at the crown of my hat you can clearly see the spiralling, especially apparent if you follow the red yarn.

I have seen this used in socks and I did cast on for a pair once but I think I never finished. It is a fun technique and I recommend you give it a go. Next time though, I will use fewer colours, I think 3 is a good number but then that is always going to be personal preference depending on what you are knitting and the stripe pattern you are looking for. The yarn I used for this was my Merino Light base, that is a merino singles yarn which is super soft and a joy to knit.

I’m also knitting on a simple brioche cowl. I dyed up a skein of this new base yarn that I’m trying out. It is a luxurious blend of 50/50 merino and silk. So the yarn is super soft to the touch and has a gorgeous shine to it. It is in fingering weight 400 meters per 100 gr. I dyed this up mostly grey but with a small section of the skein in gold.

Here you can see how the skein was mostly grey with just a small gold section. I didn’t want to knit this into a pair of socks, I felt it was too beautiful/precious a blend for that. I had already started on my Helix hat so I decided on doing a cowl. I didn’t have a pattern so I cast on a random number of stitches and decided I’d do this in brioche. Now I think I should have cast on fewer stitches as this is going to be quite large but not large enough for me to wrap it around my neck twice.

What was amazing to me was/is how this yarn knits up in brioche at this number of stitches. I had thought that because the gold colour was only on a small section of the skein, it would produce maybe a sort of spiralling block of colour but in fact it has created an overall pattern and not only that, but the pattern changes over the length of the cowl. I think that is really cool.

After having knit about half the yarn and realising that it was probably too large for just one wrap and not enough for two wraps, I decided I would be a good idea to decrease the stitch number and thus the cowl would be larger at the bottom hugging my shoulders and then decrease to create the neck part of the cowl which would be hugging the neck. I got out my brioche book “Knitting Fresh Brioche” by Nancy Merchant and found out how to do decreases. There were two for decreasing two stitches at a time, one right leaning and one left leaning. I followed the instructions and the decrease round itself looked fine but on the next round, where the decrease was, the stitches would become elongated and the fabric holey. It didn’t look good. So next time I did the other decrease and the same thing happened. I still continued thinking I could fix the holes afterwards, do some stitching somehow and I actually knit on for hours almost running out of yarn.  But when I looked at the cowl, all I could see were the ugly decreases. And I thought that was just no good. I was using a gorgeous yarn and the dye work was perfect and yet the only thing I saw were the flaws and I just knew I would never enjoy wearing this like this and so I decided I had to rip back. Ripping back brioche is not to be taken lightly. I decided this last night but I waited until this morning to actually rip back. Here you can see the cowl before the ripping back.

brioche-with-holes

I love the pattern created by the small gold section in the yarn. And here towards the top of the cowl/picture you can see the decreases and how they looked.

brioche-close-upAnd this is a close up and it may not look too catastrophic like this but once held up, the weight of the fabric really pulled on those stitches making the holes more apparent.

So this morning I again consulted my brioche book on how to rip back and off I went. I ripped to one row less than I wanted to rip back and I then ripped the last row slowly, a stitch at a time and picked up the stitch with a much smaller needle than I was using. That made the picking up so much easier and it really was a breeze.

But I did rip back almost half of my work and that is always sad, I always feel like I have lost so much precious knitting time but I really shouldn’t. After all I do love knitting so nothing to regret there, and I will end up with an item I will actually like and wear and that is most important. I did pause to think if I should just rip everything back and start all over again and cast on fewer stitches but decided against it. So I’m just going to continue as I was and we’ll see how it ends up being.

brioche-after-ripping-back

And here is my cowl this morning after the ripping back.

I have also started on my next Harry Potter themed knit for my oldest. If you follow my blog regularly you will know that she is a Harry Potter fan and that she asked me to knit her a large number of Harry Potter themed accessories and sweaters. So far I have done one scarf, a pair of socks and a pair of fingerless mitts. Now I have begun a pair of fair isle mittens. The pattern is called Owl Mittens by Celeste Young and can be found in the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits magazine from Interview Press.

I’m using my own yarn in my SOX base, the red/burgundy I dyed and the white is just undyed yarn. I’m not far along but so far I like it. I do think this will take a lot of time to complete because of the patterning all over. I’m trying to relax as I knit the fair isle so that the floats stay relaxed in the back. I really hate it when the fabric is all puckered up and tight. But so far so good and my daughter loves it and can’t wait for me to finish, especially now that the weather has really cooled down. Here are some pictures for you.

owl-mit-beginning

 

This is the back of the hand and this is a lot of owls on branches, there  will be three repeats of the owl pattern, each pattern repeat is unique.

owl-mit-backThis is the palm side of the mitt and here you have spells written out. I need to be careful with my tension here also because if it is too tight, the stitches will be too small and the words won’t be clearly written out.

So this is a challenging and time consuming knit that I will work on when not doing anything else and I think I will probably need  quite some time to finish but they will be gorgeous once done.

That’s about all for today I think. This week I’ll continue to work on my test knit socks, my brioche cowl and the Harry Potter mitts. I’ll also be going to an interview with a job counsellor to help me redo my resume and maybe get a clearer picture of what types of jobs I can apply for. I do have a full time job at the moment but I work from home and I have been doing that for a number of years and I feel that a change is needed and I’d love to work outside of my home and have real colleagues again. Maybe 2017 will be a year of change for me. You never know.

Thank you for stopping by today and spending some of your precious time with me. I’ll be back next week and until then take care and enjoy your knitting:)

Working with my Golden Skein yarn “Birds of a feather”

I little while ago I shared with you my participation as a dyer for The Golden Skein. This was the first and hopefully not the last time that I got a huge order and I very much enjoyed the process.

Now the yarn has been sent out to The Golden Skein subscribers and so far I have had nothing but good reviews which is such a joy for me.

I did keep some of the yarn for myself and then there were the “test dye” skeins and the “oups” skeins. Some I overdyed and will be listing in my shop and some I’m just keeping for my own personal use. I thought I’d share with you what I have knit with this yarn so far.

So I used one of my “test” skeins to knit a pair of socks. Well, technically I’m only about 40% done with sock 1 but this will be a pair:) This particular skein, has more of the contrasting colours than the final version of my Birds of a Feather, and so the end result is more variegated and almost stripey. I actually quite like how this is knitting up.

birds-of-a-feather-socks

As you can see there is a lot less of the light beige colour in this version.

I have also knit a shawl as part of a test knit for a designer that has just designed a shawl using my Cash’Sock yarn. She kindly sent me her pattern at the same time as she sent it to her test knitters. I had told her that I would probably not be able to finish it within the time limit she had given her testers because of work and all the gazillion things I’m already knitting. But guess what? This was such an enjoyable knit that I actually finished FIRST!

The pattern should be released soon on Ravelry and once it has been I’ll put up a project page on Ravelry and I’ll be able to share the name and a link if you too want to knit this. In the mean time, here are a few pictures of different parts of the shawl to show you how this particular yarn knit up. Had this been knit into a sock the resulting fabric would of course have been very different and that is also why I decided to use this yarn rather than another one for this particular pattern. I dyed the yarn thinking of socks because people were just getting 1 skein (although it is possible to purchase an additional skein afterwards via The Golden Skein while stock lasts) and so I knew what a sock would look like. But knitting this up into a shawl with a much higher stitch count than a sock was interesting and I wanted to see what that would look like.

What do you think? I quite like the result. This is an asymmetrical shawl and if this yarn were knit up into say a triangular shawl the results would be something different from this.

It has been such a fun process from the designing of this yarn working from an inspiration picture, to actually dyeing it up and now knitting with it and seeing how different items/stitch counts give different end results.

If you too are a Golden Skein subscriber, I’d love to see what you knit up with my yarn and I hope you will share that with others on social media and even better, with me here on my blog:)

That’s all for today. I hope you are having a nice week with lots of fun knitting/crochet time. So until next time, take care and enjoy your crafting.

Lots of knitting

Hi there, how are you today? I hope you are doing great and that you had a wonderful weekend.

When I look back at the week that just passed, I see that I have done loads of knitting. It’s been a while since I’ve had this much to share with you. So let’s get started:

First off, I finished my Audrey cardigan or at least the knitting part. I still have to weave in the ends and sew on the buttons. I really enjoyed knitting this cardigan and I want to knit a second one.

I was unsure about which size to knit and being the not serious knitter I am, I did not make a swatch. As my cardigan grew I realised that I should have knit one size down because the pattern is written for  negative ease and my cardigan has positive ease. For the body of the cardigan that’s fine but for the sleeves it was really too much and so I knit those one size down. I also like the yarn I chose for this project, my merino singles yarn that I dyed in a subtle brown/beige color. It is super soft and the color will work with everything I think. Next time around, I’ll use my SOX base (merino/nylon) and I’ll knit the correct size that will give me the fit the pattern calls for.

But overall I’m really happy with the outcome. I just need to decide on the buttons and finish up.

The second pictures shows the three different buttons I have to choose from. The first option, the top button is the one I’m leaning towards.

Then there is my Harry Potter inspired scarf that I’m knitting for my older daughter. I’m using my own hand dyed yarn of course, that I dyed especially for this project and I’m using a wonderful base yarn. It’s Aran weight and its a merino/cashmere/nylon blend. So just perfect!

I did knit quite a bit on this last week. I’m getting close to the end. I think I need to knit to the next section of stripes and then knit on the what would be the placement for another stripe section and that’s when I’ll cast off. So maybe 10″ more or so. I might be adding fringes,not sure yet.

img_6049    It’s looking good so far and my daughter likes it so that’s the only important thing. It’s still quite warm here so she won’t be needing the scarf for a few more weeks I think so I take my time finishing this.

And then there is my pair of socks. I’m usually a big sock knitter and I do have a large number of socks currently on my needles only I’m not working on them. I think the fact that I suddenly found myself with a gazillion works in progress and not much time made all my wips look like a huge mountain to climb and I just got overwhelmed. My pile of wips is in my bedroom so I look at it everyday but I try not to worry about it and as I cast on for new projects I promise myself that I will also pick up a wip and get that done and out of the pile. The socks I’m working on were in my pile of wips/to be cast on. I had cast on for the cuff of sock one in August and then nothing happened. Once I picked them up, I really got going and to avoid having second sock syndrome, I immediately cast on for sock 2 as I finished sock 1. Now I’m close to finishing sock 2, I just need maybe an inch or so and then I’ll be at the toe. Once this pair is done, I’ll pick up another sock wip from my pile and get working on that. Here’s a picture of my pair so far.

falling-leaves-socks-26sep

The yarn is hand dyed by myself on a base I don’t carry at the moment but really like. Its 80/20 merino, bamboo. It’s super soft and yet sturdy. The pattern is Falling Leaves by Nancy Whitknits and is for sale on Ravelry. The cuff has a nice leave motif and the rest of the sock is worked in a twisted rib stitch.

Last week I also cast on for a new sweater. I had one of those nights a little time back, where I was browsing Ravelry and came upon a certain number of patterns I just HAD to have and I ended up buying probably close to 10 patterns! Way more than I intended to. And one of these patterns is called Spin Raglan by Andrea Mowry. It’s a top down, seamless sweater knit in Aran weight yarn. I dyed up the yarn especially for this project. I chose a 100% non super wash BFL yarn and dyed it in a sort of denim-y colour. Somewhere between light blue and grey. It turned out super nice I think.

img_6033 And believe it or not, this time around I DID do a swatch! I decided that after seeing my Audrey cardigan being bigger than intended, it would be a good idea to swatch and knit the correct size.

As this is knit in Aran weight yarn, it goes super quickly and I’ve made good progress. I knit a lot on this yesterday as I was being lazy in front of the television.

spin-raglan This is a simple pattern and I’m really enjoying it so far. I think this will be a really quick knit but might still take me some time as I’m also working on my scarf my pair of socks and so forth.

 

I also just cast on for the Dexter cardigan by Isabelle Kramer. Remember I told you about that a week or two ago and I dyed up two types of lace weight yarns that I’m using for that project. I’m only a couple of inches into the cardigan so nothing interesting to show you just yet but so far I like how the yarns are knitting up together and I’ll be able to share my progress on this one with you next week I’m sure.

That’s about it for today. I hope this week will also be prolific knitting wise. I plan to finish my pair of socks and the Harry Potter scarf and make significant progress on the Spin Raglan sweater so hopefully those will all be FOs by the time I post next. Which would mean I’d also be able to share some new cast ons with you:) How exciting!

I wish you all a wonderful week and hope you will have lots of fun knitting time. So until next time, take care and happy knitting:)

 

Storage, space and craft supplies

Before diving into today’s subject – space and lack thereof- let me share with you my latest knits and hand dyed yarns soon to be online. You may have noticed that I’m in a serious sock knitting phase these days. This February I have actually completed 3 pairs of socks and will complete the 4th this afternoon (only one toe left). And as if that was not enough I’ve CO for the 5th pair!! You may be thinking that it REALLY is time to knit something else but I actually have an excuse for knitting pairs nr: 5,6 and 7! YES, that’s right 3 more pairs. How is that possible? Well I have to knit sample socks with my hand dyed yarns so you can see what they look like once knit up into socks. So here are some photos of my socks so far and my latest hand dyed yarns.

My completed pairs of socks knit this feb - www.knittinginfrance.com   So here you see my completed pairs and the last one on the right, I’ve only got the toe left on the second sock 🙂   My latest sock, hand dyed yarn by myself and my own pattern And here is my 5th pair. This is yarn hand dyed by myself and the pattern is also made up by myself. This is a project I’m working on and the idea is to sell sock kits for 2 coloured socks including hand dyed yarn, pattern and possibly something like stitch markers or other fun things.

And for the dyeing, I did 2 sets of multicoloured yarns and each set has 3 skeins so one for me to test knit and 2 for your to buy:) They all have medium to long colour repeats so should be nice in socks or mittens for example. To do this I re-skein into very long skeins and the pictures show the yarn in that state. Once I’ve had the time to reskein into “regular” sized skeins I’ll put up the pictures but here goes:

my hand dyed yarn drying in front of the fire www.knittinginfrance.com  Just dyed and drying in front of the fire with my favorite Main Coon doing some quality checks

 hand dyed yarn feb15  Here the yarn has dried some, you have 1 set of 3 skeins in reds/oranges/yellows and 1 set of 3 skeins in blues/turqoise

hand dyed yarn www.knittinginfrance.comhand dyed yarn www.knittinginfrance.com  Here I have braided the set of 3 skeins just for easy manipulation before reskeining them

hand dyed yarn www.knittinginfrance.com hand dyed yarn www.knittinginfrance.com   I like how the hearts look

And now after having inspired you to knit some socks and tempted you to maybe buy some more colourful yarn, it’s time for the less amusing side of stash enhancement: space (or lack thereof) and organisation.

If you are reading my blog, chances are that you like hand made items, DIY crafts and especially all crafts related to fibre. That assumption leads me to another one: that you too have been confronted with THE SPACE ISSUE!

I suppose some of you are serious people, with responsible stash acquisition capabilities and that as such your SPACE PROBLEM is mild to moderate.
If that is your case, BRAVO, but would you mind sharing your tips with the rest of us?
I suppose, or should I say, hope, that there are others out there with the same degree of SPACE PROBLEM as I have. If not, I guess I really am crazy!
Let me explain: I love crafts! Those include beading, polymer clay crafting, felting, knitting, crocheting, spinning, carding, dyeing etc. Now as a true crafter I need a minimum of supplies for each of those crafts and the better I get at each or the more I’m intrigued, the more stuff I need. After all this you cannot expect me to learn and get better at what I do with out the best of everything and LOTS IF IT!
Supplies and tools take up space, lots of space. At the beginning I only had a yarn stash and a manageable one at that. But as time went on, the more I was caught up in the fibre arts and the more my stash grew and even diversified. When there was just yarn, I’d stash some in my room, then in other rooms, my living room, my cellar… You get the picture. When my husband began complaining about yarn all over the place, it was time to move into a bigger place. And that of course opened up new opportunities in stash enhancement. It also got me going in the tool enhancement. And when my personal supplies started to look seriously like the stock of a medium sized craft store something had to be done.
I launched my online business! Selling fibre related supplies online! A dream come too. No need to come up with excuses about having yarn or fibres EVERYWHERE! At the beginning I was super excited and wanted to stock just about everything and had I had the finances and the space to go with that, I would have. But my finances were limited and so was my space.
With time I have learned to control my stash/supplies enhancement urges but space is still an issue. I do have a place for the stock I sell in my shop but my personal stash of yarn, fibres, needles, crochets, spindles, spinning wheels, dye stuff, beads, jewellery making supplies etc are still to be found just about all over my house.
I have a dream and in it I have this real studio to work in, say 30m2 where I’d have lots of shelves for my extensive collection of craft books, some clever storage units to store them and at the same time show off my yarn and fibres. A comfortable chair and couch to sit in when knitting/crocheting. A work corner with a large table and lots of drawers and boxes for all my beads and supplies for making stitch markers. A table for my light box/photo studio. A corner for spinning with a comfortable chair, my wheels and spindles and some clever storage unit for my fibres. Another space for dyeing with lots of shelf space for stocking un dyed yarn and fibres, my dyes and all my accessories and tools for dyeing. A large table for working dying. A wall mounted warping board and room for my swifts, ball winders etc. and let’s not forget that I do run a business so there would also be an office space with all the necessary equipment. Wow! That’s a lot of things. Maybe 30m2 will not be enough, maybe I need 50m2. What do you think?
So if you have space and money to offer me the DREAM studio for my business to grow and blossom, I’m interested:)
Here are a few photos to show you the state of things and please note this is my personal stash and not the stock for the shop.
IMG_2834 IMG_2833 I have this clever mini space in my bedroom where I have put all my stitch marker supplies and tools as well as some yarns, knitting needles, patterns and what not. As you can see the drawer unit is stocked full to the brim with all sorts of indispensable things 🙂
IMG_2831 IMG_2830 And then there are the books. A lot are in boxes since my last move but as I continually buy more, my night stand and every available space in my room is also full of books on all sorts of fibre related topics.
Do you have pictures of you stash? Organised or not? Do you dare share them with us here ? As a therapeutic support for us that have this “stash overtaking our home” syndrome?
If you on the other hand have found THE solution to this “problem” please feel free to share with us as I’m sure I’m not the only one looking for an easy, clever and cute (if possible) solution to organising craft stashes of all kinds without giving others the impression that my life has been taken over by…crafts 🙂
Look forward to seeing your input and pictures (if you are willing to share). Until then, take care and have a wonderful and creative weekend