Knitting, spinning and so forth

Hi there, how’s it going for you this week? Well I hope. Maybe you are even on holiday by now? Lucky you if you are:) I’m not on vacation yet not until the last week of July and this year we will mostly do staycation but that’s ok because we are lucky enough to live close to beautiful beaches so if the weather is nice we can do plenty of beach going and knitting.

But until then it’s work and a lot of it. Plenty of stress and hard work so thank goodness for knitting! As knitting is one of very few things that keep me sane!

And speaking of knitting, well as always I have a gazillion things on the needles, way more than I’d like to admit and that can only mean one thing: slow progress on each project!

A side effect of having a lot of projects on the needles at the same time is that progress on each one is limited and projects can even find themselves put aside for an X amount of time…some may even end up in the scary pile of …ufos.

So currently, I am mostly doing garment knitting as you will have noticed if you follow my blog and social media. I’m in a sort of sock slump. I usually knit a pair of socks or should I say finish a pair of socks every 7-10 days but lately I have been concentrating on my garments and socks have been left aside. I do need to pick them up as I have a ton to finish not to mention I signed up for Tour de Sock which starts this coming July 15th! More on that later.

so faded 4jul

So on the garment side, I’m still working on my So Faded sweater. I only have half a sleeve and a neck line to go and for some reason I keep putting the sweater aside and find myself systematically picking something else, anything else up instead. I think I really do not enjoy the “fading” process. The pattern is great and I can definitely see myself making more of these but only in one color or maybe do some stripes but no fading! I’m knitting this as part of the Fadito kal being hosted by Kristy Glass and the kal runs until August 20th I believe so I really need to finish by then and shame on me if I don’t because there really is not much left!

And then there is the Ravello by Isabelle Kramer. I absolutely love that pattern and I have finished my first one. I have shared pictures of my progress here with you and I absolutely love the yarn that I chose to knit this with and one day I might order some more to dye up for the shop because it was a joy to work with and has produced such a lightweight garment and yet so warm. If you don’t remember what that yarn was, it is a blend of 50% alpaca, 25% linen and 25% silk. And so here are a couple of pictures of your’s truly wearing the finished Ravello!

 

And would you believe that the day following my cast off, I actually cast on for a second one! I have more of Isabelle Kramer sweaters and some are similar in construction to this one and so I really should have cast on for another pattern of hers but I was just to enamoured with this one.

This time around I chose a fingering weight yarn from my favorite UK dyer, Knit Cosmic Strings in a colorway that I like. I had 3 skeins of this particular colorway and then I needed a fourth one in a contrasting color for stripes and I found this one skein in a sort of neon green and yellow with some black and purple which I thought would be perfect. Well it turns out to be too similar to my main color so the stripes don’t really show up. I was  too lazy to rip  back, find a new yarn and start over so I just kept going. Of course this was not the right way to go about this as each sweater does take a significant number of hours to complete and the price per skein of hand dyed yarn is quite high. But I think this will be ok in the end. I think this sweater will look nice with jeans and this yarn is softer and feels less warm to the touch than the other one so I’m thinking Ravello One will be great for really cold days and Ravello Two for the autumn and early spring. Anyway we’ll see but here’s a picture of where I’m at today. The two skeins below are of my main color still in the skein and then the two yarn cakes are my main color on the right and my contrast color on the left.

Looking at the picture I do see the green/orange stripe but I don’t know…

ravello 2 11JUL

Here you can see the sweater better. The yarn is very busy, I mean the main color but I like the colors and I hope this will look nice on me once it’s done.

And the last garment that I can show you and I’m working on these days is the Rock Creek by Caitlin Hunter. I’m knitting this using Malabrigo worsted which is a singles yarn and I hope it will hold up well to wear in spite of it being a singles yarn. I knit a size S as I have been told this will grow once washed and the recipient is somewhere between a size S and a size M. Cross my fingers and hope this will fit her in the end.

I’m at the arms right now. I now need to cast on for a sleeve and I think that I need to knit both sleeves and then they will be joined to the body and the yoke will be knit in one piece. It has been a long time since I knit a bottom up sweater and even longer since I knit this type of yoke. The front is in seed stitch and the back in stockinette and I did some short row shaping on the back for it to be longer than the front. I think this will be a super cozy sweater and a joy to wear with a pair of jeans in the Icelandic winter.

rock creek 11JUL

And I also joined Tour de Fleece which is an event for spinners and we spin every day along with the athletes doing the Tour de France bicycle race. My goal with this first participation was to work on my spindle spinning skills and I have but not as much as I had hoped for. I have bit spun as much as I had intended on my spindles but what little I have, I have enjoyed and I feel there is some improvement. I think the reason why I have been spinning more on my wheel than on my spindles is because I had this exciting project on my wheel already when the Tour began and I have been unable to put that aside. I’m planning on making a two ply barber pole, multi colored yarn. So one ply is a mix of all sorts of merino yarns in lots of different colors and the second ply is just undyed roving. I’m using a BFL and triobal (nylon) blend for the white ply because I might decide to make socks with the resulting yarn. I have finished spinning the multi colored merino and I’m currently spinning the BFL. On my spindle I’m spinning a beautiful blend of merino and silk; the same as what I used for my Sammal Cardigan.

 

I think this is all I have to share with you today. Like I said earlier, I did sign up for Tour de Sock and my intention was to compete but seeing as how my sock mojo has since come to a halt, I might just knit along at my own very slow pace. Anyway, at least I’m supporting a good cause since the money raised from registration goes to Doctors without Borders.

So until next time, have a wonderful week and hopefully lots of crafting time:)

May is a month for DISCOUNTS

Hi there, how are you today? I hope you are doing good and that you have enjoyed my very active blog lately. I have enjoyed sharing so much with you and I still have a list of topics I need to share and more are being added every day. However time can be an issue so I’m probably going to go back to posting once or twice a week as before and hope that will be fine by you 🙂

As you may have guessed by today’s title, this is a blog post about good deals and knitting! So as I was browsing Ravelry this past weekend I came upon something called Mad May. I found this in the Madelinetosh Yarn Ravelry group so I’m guessing they are the instigators. Mad May is a time when indie designers and makers offer special discounts and some go up to 50% off! So just in case you are not aware of this, do click over here to check it out.

yarn 1

One of these makers is yours truly! I’m offering -20% off all in stock items in my shop, Knitting in France, until May 15th with the coupon code MADMAY17. So if you are interested in trying out some of my yarns now’s the time to do so at a special discount!

I also wanted to mention one of the designers participating in MAD MAY, Elena Nodel. She is currently battling cancer and as a means to try to collect funds for her treatment, she is offering 50% off all her patterns until May 5th. I was aware of her designs although I think I have never knit any of them. I went ahead to her pattern store on Ravelry and purchased 3 of her designs and maybe you would like to take a look and get a great pattern at a big discount while also supporting an indie designer through a tough time. Just click here to go over to her Ravelry page.

I did not only buy patterns from Elena Nodel but also from a few others. I think my Ravelry library has taken on epic proportions in the last couple of years as I’m constantly buying patterns and planning on knitting a million things and then never getting to do everything because I just can’t find the time! If only my job involved a lot of knitting and yarn fondling! Yeah, that does sound like a dream! I will need to do some research 🙂

IMG_7760 (1)

One of the patterns I’m planning on knitting this month is the Joji Mystery wrap. I have chosen my yarns (the ones in the picture above). I’m going to use my Back to Basics yarn because I think it is just fabulous for knitting shawls and garments. it’s non superwash so it does not stretch out much and it just feels so soft and has a wonderful stitch definition. I can’t wait for the pattern to come out. But first I do have to finish the shawl that I’m test knitting as well as the Ramble shawl by Andrea Mowry.IMG_7609

This shawl has been on hold for a few weeks now and I really need to get back on it.

I only have one finished object to share today and that is a pair of socks that I test knit for Dana Gervais. This was a fun pattern as always and I used yarn from Knit Cosmic Strings in their Sea Urchin colorway. This pattern has not yet been published on Ravelry but I believe it will be this month.

I loved knitting the asymmetrical cable pattern. It’s an easy pattern repeat and soon becomes memorized more or less. The pattern is called Mitochondrial Socks. As soon as I finished this pair I started another test knit for her. I’m just at the beginning but this time I’m using my own yarn in my SPARKLES base and I really love the pattern. My yarn is also working up beautifully in the stitch pattern. Here’s where I’m at now.

IMG_7821

That’s all for today. Thank you for stopping by and spending some time with me today.  Don’t forget to check out this month’s Maker of the Month and participate in the giveaway.   A winner will be drawn this Friday, May 5th.

Until next time, have a great day and enjoy your crafting 🙂

My big March plans

Hi there how are you today? it’s raining cats and dogs here in Normandy this morning. It almost feels like winter is coming back and they have predicted this kind of weather for the rest of the week I think. Funny how gloomy weather can sometimes affect your mood at least on weekdays. Because yesterday, Sunday, it was the same and I wasn’t bothered at all! In fact I spent almost the entire day knitting! Maybe a little too much time to be quite honest because my hands felt a bit sore by the time I went to bed.

But March is a very heavily busy month knitwise. It hadn’t started  out as such but as we got closer to the end of February, beginning of March the projects just piled on.

But before I share those with you let me show you my two Fos.

First off is a pair of socks that I was test knitting for my friend and designer Dana Gervais. The pattern is called Good Karma and will be a for sale pattern on Ravelry in the near future.

The pattern is fun to knit and quite intuitive. It’s a mirrored pattern which means that the pattern is placed differently on each sock so that they mirror each other. I managed to knit them quite quickly as I had big plans coming up and absolutely wanted and needed to get them done in time.

I used one of my newer bases which I call POP. It’s a merino/donegal nepp tweed yarn. And what is especially fun with this tweed yarn is that the nepps are multi colored instead of just plain black as usually. I have knit socks out of this yarn before and I really love both knitting with it and the finished project. So here are some pictures of my finished socks.

 

They look really nice even if I say so myself! I’m taking a break from test knitting socks this month due to my heavy workload but I really look forward to doing it again.

My second finished object is a shawl that I started on January 1st 2017. This was part of the brioche challenge hosted by Louise Tilbrook Designs. I did choose a pattern that was not all brioche thinking it would go quicker although just from looking at the pattern pictures, I could see that it is quite big. Well, I got sidetracked needless to say and I only just finished last week. I knit this using two of my yarns in my SOX base and two other yarns. And it is huge! I haven’t blocked the shawl yet and frankly I don’t know if I will. Maybe I’ll just lightly steam block it before giving it away because yes I’m going to gift it to someone special. Shh not saying just in case she reads my blog.

The shawl I’m babbling about is the Briochealicious shawl by Andrea Mowry. It is a mix of brioche and garter stitch so quite a relaxing knit and I really did enjoy knitting on it. I can even see myself knitting a second one that I would keep. But here’s a picture – although you can’t see it in its entirety because of the size.

Yes that’s me modelling the shawl 🙂

And now onto current works in progress. I can show you two but one is a secret test knit. I was contacted by a relatively new designer that I love. I have knit one of her sweaters, the Kitsune sweater. And I already have a cardigan of hers on the needles although I’m still at the very beginning there. Well so she contacted me and asked I was willing to test knit a new cardigan and once I saw the picture there was no turning back! So of course I said yes please! It is gorgeous! However she has asked us test knitters not to share any pictures until the pattern has been released so I won’t be able to show you anything for the moment. I’m knitting it on my SPARKLES base in a teal colorway and I think it will be amazing. I have one month to finish so that is part of the reason why I say March is a heavily busy knit month.

The first wip I can share, is the Snowmelt shawl by Helen Stewart of the Curious Handmade. This is a mystery kal and the last clue came out last Thursday. I have begun knitting on that clue but I won’t be able to continue until I finish my all consuming wip that I’ll tell you all about in a moment. So I’m knitting this shawl out of a new base of mine that I call Back to Basics. It’s a non superwash merino fingering yarn and it is gorgeous. I was hesitant to order non superwash fingering but I do not regret it. In fact I want to order much more. I love the fact that non superwash items do not grow so I think it will be perfect for garment knitting and I have a ton of sweaters and cardigans I want to knit using this base. But back to the shawl. I had heard Helen’s recommendations on the yarn before hand and so I dyed up 3 skeins just for this project and I’m really happy with the outcome and how they work together. This is a half pi shawl and I think it is the first time I knit one of those or if I have before, then it was ages ago because I don’t remember it. Here’s a picture of where I’m at now – I do want to finish soon so I can enter it into the FO thread in her Ravelry group for a giveaway.

snowmelt-shawl-beginning-of-clue4

Snowmelt shawl by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade knit in Back to Basics by Knitting in France

I’m really happy with my choice of colors and I look forward to finishing the shawl.

And now onto the all consuming wip! I told you last time, I think, that I was participating in the Sock Madness competition for the second time this year. Well it has just began. The first pattern was released late Thursday night so I only got to cast on and do one cuff on that very first day but I have been knitting on this non stop since then. The first round is a qualifying round and we have 14 days to finish the pair. The faster you finish the better of course and that will also determine in which team you end up. The teams are composed of knitters that knit at similar speeds so although there are hundreds of knitters partaking in the competition you are only every competing against the members of your team so people of similar speed. That is great because it gives everyone a chance to participate. Last year I ended up in the second to fastest team I think which was quite stressful and makes me think maybe I should not try so hard to finish asap this time around but I can’t help myself. I really want to finish them at lightning speed and also when I browse the chatter and FO threads I realise that there are so many knitters that either are way speedier knitters than I am or have way more time because I’m not the fastes. Of course I’m not way behind either.

This first pattern, Twisted Madness, is not a complicated one but it is very time consuming and hard on the hands because it is basically an all over cable pattern. That makes progress slow and it just eats up yarn. There are minimum requirements so each time I have to knit the socks to my size or for my oldest to meet those and for this first pair one skein of fingering yarn is not enough. After knitting to the heel on the first sock I was seriously worried so one of the moderators told me to cast on for the second one and knit to the same place and then make a decision on if I had enough to finish or if I should change yarns. And so I did, I knit the second sock to the heel turn and then decided to turn the heel on both socks in my current yarn. After that I only had 40 gr left and I’m pretty sure I would not have had enough to finish and as we are not allowed to do contrasting heels, toes and cuffs I could not knit to the toe and then change yarns so I thought after the heel would be good spot to change.

I hesitated between yarns. My yarn was a turquoise with some yellow and I had another skein in only turquoise but of course not the exact same shade and I also had a skein of yellow also not the same shade. Finally I went with the yellow and I think my socks will look just fine when they are done.

This is where I’m at now:

 

This stitch pattern is basically a left leaning cable over 2 stitches and produces this nice pattern that you can  see close up on the picture on the right. What do you think about my choice of second color for the socks? I think they will be ok. When worn, people will see a yellow sock with a turquoise and yellow heel so I’m sure it will be ok.

So after I had turned the heel on both socks I decided to knit them taat magic loop. I’ll be knitting on them this afternoon but I’m taking a little break this morning and going to knit on my Snowmelt shawl and spin a little just to give my hands a little time off from the pattern. I chose to knit them on a long circular needle from the get go because just seeing the stitch pattern I realised that knitting them on a 9″ circular would be too hard on my hands.

So I need to finish these asap to qualify of course but also so that I have more time in between rounds so that I can finish my Snowmelt and make good progress on my test knit cardigan. Once the two weeks of the qualifying round are up, the organizers need a few days to set up the teams and so I have some time to finish other things. Each round thereafter is also 14 days but the objective is to always finish way before the time limit. So quite a busy month ahead. Are you also participating in Sock Madness this year? I’d love to know if you are so I can follow your progress on social media.

So planning wise the month of March is 90% Sock Madness and then my test knit cardigan. But I did fall for the Stephen West Mkal temptation and sign up for the Marled Magic Mystery Kal The first clue came out last Friday and I haven’t had the time to start and  realistically I may not be able to until the kal is actually over but anyway. I fell for this because he recommended that one use mohair yarn – this is a shawl knit holding two fingering weight yarns together and either use one constant color and only change on of the yarns throughout or to change both all the time. I had a few skeins of mohair/silk yarn in my stash of undyed yarns and I really don’t like the fuzziness of mohair and haven’t dyed or sold much of this yarn and when I saw the pattern and yarn recommendations I thought “it’s now or never”. Either I do this or these skeins will stay in my stash forever. And so I dyed all the skeins, 8 of them I think in a very pale mint green and then I went looking in my stash and my shop yarns for colors that could work with it and I’ve come up with a surprising palette. Actually very different from the colors I’m usually drawn to so I don’t even know if I’ll actually wear the shawl once it’s done. I might give it to someone or maybe I’ll find myself in love with all those new colors. Who knows!

marled-mystery-kal-yarns

Only one of these yarns is not mine and I might just change it out for one of my own to make this a 100% Knitting in France shawl. Are you doing the mkal? I’d love to see your yarn choices and see your progress as I wait to be able to start mine.

Well, that’s all for now I think. I’ll be back this Thursday with a Maker of the Month feature and a giveaway so stay tuned for that. Until then, have a wonderful week and happy knitting 🙂

A shop update and more

Hi there, as promised I’m back again this week with some news of the shop.

So If you have been following me for a while you know that I have a little Etsy shop where I sell my hand dyed yarns and handmade knitting accessories. The competition is fierce as there are so many indie dyers and it seems new ones are opening up business every day. Being on Etsy makes things even more challenging because it’s not easy to be found and browsers can easily  go from looking at a yarn in my shop to purchasing a similar item from someone else.

So I was seriously considering closing the shop at the end of last year and I probably would have, had it not been for the support and kind words of an amazing person who also happens to be a world renowned knitter and designer. This person boosted my confidence and trusted me and my work enough to use my yarns for some of her designs and even to use my yarn at a retreat. The person I’m talking about is non other than Cat Bordhi 

She and her brother Jim have been so encouraging and just all around amazing and they have really motivated me to give it my everything in 2017 and see where it takes me. Cat has designed at least two patterns using my yarn. One of those was used at her retreat in Iceland that just finished last weekend. All the participants got her pattern and my yarn to knit it with and I’ve had nothing but positive feedback so I’m over the moon happy! The yarn that Cat chose is my 100% non superwash BFL yarn in Aran weight. It is a sturdy and yet soft yarn. Here you can see a picture of some of my yarns as Cat was putting together kits of one full skein and one contrasting mini.

The participants then knit a pair of House Socks from these and here is a picture of the first one knit by Cat herself.

house-shoe-boggas-yarn

I am of course planning on knitting a pair myself. That is a given an on the agenda. If you follow Cat you will have seen all the beautiful pictures from her retreat in Iceland and if you don’t already follow her on FB you should! She is not only an ingenious designer but she also organizes these amazing retreats with Jim and following the pictures just make you wish you were there yourself! I personally hope to be able to go on one of her retreats in Peru one day!

So back to the shop. Thanks to the support of Cat I decided to work on my shop and I closed it for about a month. I used the time to take stock of what I have as yarn, dye  up more yarns and work on the shop/website itself. I have decided to have my own website in addition to the Etsy shop and will now only link to that one. Here is a link for you to go check out my new shop and I’d love to hear what you think. It is a website powered by Etsy so all the items are the same in both shops but this way I can avoid people leaving my shop to go purchase from another Etsy seller. So yes, I’d love to hear what you think. Do you enjoy to layout? What would you change? Is something missing? Or do you have suggestions for new yarns? Any constructive feedback is much appreciated. And as a thank you to you dear reader, I have decided to offer you a special discount code valid for the entire month of January. The code is :FREESHIPPINGFORYOU and as it says it gives you free shipping no matter how small or big your order is and it is good for worldwide shipping so I hope you will take advantage of that.

 

That’s it for now I think. Don’t forget to leave me feedback if you are so inclined. I’ll be back soon with my knitting plans for the month of February.

Take care