Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday Craft Update -- December 18

Every year, my sister-in-law Jill and I exchange Christmas ornaments. Finally, I finished the one started in 2010 and will send it on its way to Singapore shortly, only a full year late! I did start the 2011 ornament and, though it will not be ready for this Christmas, I hope it will be done well before next Christmas.

This design is from Teresa Wentzler's 12 Days of Christmas pattern. I don't know what made me crazy enough to tackle this challenge. Teresa Wentzler projects are tough enough without the added difficulty of working over 1 thread on 32-count linen. I haven't sworn off doing another over-one project, but next time, I'll go for 28-count linen and invest in a good magnifying glass.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday Craft Update -- December 4

I finished another two pairs of socks from Cookie A.'s wonderful Sock Innovation book. The first, from the pattern Bex, was made from Cascade Heritage sock yarn, and the second, from the pattern Glynis, was made from Elann Sock It To Me Shades. I loved the complexity of Bex and enjoyed the challenge of knitting it. Glynis took about a third of the time to complete, and it's also a great pattern -- interesting enough not to be tedious, but also very fast to knit up, as all the twists are made with K2tog and SSK stitches (no cable needle required)!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunday Craft Update -- October 9

I'm still knitting socks from my Sock Innovation book by Cookie A. This pattern is called Wanida, and the yarn is Elann's Sock It To Me Panoply.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Craft Update -- September 26

I'm on a quest to knit all the socks in Cookie A.'s fabulous book, Sock Innovation. The pair above is from the Sunshine pattern in Elann Sock It To Me Shades. They're modelled by Kate, who's not afraid to wear socks with her Birkenstocks.

This pair is from the Vilai pattern and is made from Cascade Heritage yarn. As you can guess, this one involved hours of tedious chart-reading.

Cookie A. has a huge fan club on Ravelry. They claim that knitting her socks is addictive and I'm beginning to understand why.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday Craft Update -- September 4

The last couple of weeks have been devoted to cross-stitch. First, I finished (only 9 months late) the stitching for the 2010 Christmas cross-stitch ornament for my sister-in-law, Jill. I'll post photos after I do the finishing work. I'm looking forward to starting the 2011 ornament but am impatiently awaiting the arrival of some specialty threads in the mail. I also made progress on my Chatelaine Japanese Garden last week.

I finished Mirabilia's Deco Spirits a couple of years ago, but it languished in my needlework basket for a good long time. Now, finally, it is framed and on the wall. I added a close-up of Water, my favourite panel, above. Unfortunately, my photos don't do the piece justice. It is much more sparkly in real life. I guess the torture of working with those Kreinik threads was worth it. Having since discovered Rainbow Gallery Petite Treasure Braid through the Chatelaine designs, I much prefer using that to add the sparkle, though Kreinik has many more colours.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Craft Update -- August 21

It's done!! The Philosopher's Wool Color Your Own sweater with set-in sleeves is finished. Doing the shaped armholes with steeks wasn’t all that difficult after all. I ended up working the top two inches of the body back and forth to shape the neckline. (I always hated cutting out the neck hole and “wasting” all that yarn and knitting effort.) I also did the top inch of the sleeve caps back and forth, but otherwise, the entire sweater was knit in the round.

I made the armholes roomy enough, so the extra seam allowance doesn’t feel uncomfortable when I wear the sweater. However, the additional bulk prevents the seam from lying completely flat. I may have to do some extra blocking and/or clipping of the seam allowance to make the seam smoother. Otherwise, I’m happy with the finished product and will likely use this procedure again.

What I will not do next time is read the instructions quickly and carelessly. I had to rip out 6 inches of the body because I had decreased too many stitches when shaping the armholes. Often, when I talk to beginner knitters, they are embarrassed to tell me about their "stupid" mistakes. Well, this goes to show that 30 years of knitting experience doesn't protect one from totally idiotic mistakes.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Craft Update -- August 14

Here, finally, is the fourth and last baby blanket made for Bernat's Project Linus Blanket Drive. I made it with the leftover Bernat Baby Coordinates and Baby Softee yarns from the first three blankets, using one of Bernat's patterns from their extensive collection of free patterns. And here, below, is the stack of blankets that my stitching pal Laura and I made this summer during the Bernat KAL/CAL. (The two on the top are hers.) They've been sent to Bernat and hopefully are on their way to the children who can use them.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sunday Craft Update -- July 3

I'm working on a very ambitious project: a Philosophers Wool sweater with set-in sleeves. I've done several of these sweaters before but have never tried changing the drop-shoulder style to a set-in-sleeve style. At STITCHES South, Melissa Leapman convinced me that it is indeed possible to do a shaped sleeve cap entirely in the round. (She explains the process in her book, Mastering Color Knitting.) And voila ... here are the sleeves. The shaping is done by binding off a number of stitches at the armhole, casting on a steek over the gap, and then using SSK and K2tog decreases. I knitted the final few rows back-and-forth to shape the very top of the sleeve cap, but otherwise, the entire piece is knitted in the round.

Now, I have to finish the body (the photo at the top shows the progress so far), cut the sleeve and centre steeks, knit the front and neck bands and sew up. I'm hoping that the steeked sleeves won't add too much bulk to the armhole seems, and that I'll have a wearable garment in the end.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday Craft Update -- June 12

I've been spending way too much time with the Harry Potter Knit & Crochet House Cup group on Ravelry, mainly because they've had awesome Quidditch projects this term. For example, there is the Gryffindor bookscarf, shown with The Poisoner's Handbook by Deborah Blum, a very good book about the development of forensic science in the early 20th century. The pattern, which uses DMC Perle Cotton #5 and tiny 2mm needles, can be found here.

Then, there is the Hedwig Illusion Dishcloth pattern from Freshisle Fibers. When you look at the dishcloth one way, it's a plain old boring striped dishcloth, but look at it from an angle, and the surprise is revealed!

Finally, I have a complete set of Pocket Potter Puppet Pals, based on the famous Mysterious Ticking Noise video. This pattern is also free from Inner Child Crochet. I really, really hated doing all the fiddly seaming, and I was going to abandon the project after completing Snape. However, Kate begged me to complete the set, and once I adopted an assembly-line approach, it wasn't such a struggle.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


In mid-April, I went to STITCHES South in Atlanta, accompanied by my friend Laura. I'd been wanting to go to a STITCHES event for years, and now that I've gone, I have no idea why I'd waited this long! For the non-knitters reading my blog, STITCHES events are held several times each year, in various U.S. cities, and each is a multi-day convention devoted entirely to knitting. There is a full range of knitting classes from beginner to advanced levels, a huge marketplace and fashion shows.

These were the classes I took:
  • "Fully Fashioned and Fabulous" taught by Melissa Leapman. Melissa is an excellent teacher, and in this class, she covered ways in which to use fully-fashioned increases and decreases to shape garments. The best part of this class was having a conversation with Melissa afterward and getting tips on how to do a set-in-sleeve with a steeked, knit-in-the-round fair-isle sweater. More details in a future blog post, I promise.
  • "Reversible Cables" taught by Lily Chin. It's worthwhile to take a class from Lily Chin just to say that one has done so. Apart from being a big knitting celebrity, she also has a one-of-a-kind personality. This class was all about designing cabled fabrics that looked as good on the front as on the back, though both might feature completely different cable patterns. It's easy enough to follow Lily's patterns, but designing one's own (which Lily encouraged) was a challenging, albeit fun, mental exercise.
  • "Stitch Strategies for Hand-Dyed Yarns" taught by Laura Bryant. This class was about how to avoid undesirable pooling of colours when using hand-dyed yarns and how to highlight and stretch the use of expensive high-end hand-dyed yarns by combining with solids. This class truly made me look at my stash in a different light. I now have ideas for all those partial skeins of hand-dyed yarns that I'd thought would never be used.
Now onto the stash ...
  • I bought 5 skeins of Cascade 220 in bright colours, plus books by Melissa Leapman and Lily Chin, all pictured above. I also picked up a kids' sewing book for Kate.
  • The two skeins of brown and tan HiKoo yarn in the photo were part of the gifts we received at the Student Banquet. I also got an Addi Turbo circular, which I gave to Laura, as I already own a full set of Addis, and a Skacel lunchbag to hold everything.
  • At the Student Banquet, I also won a door prize, a gorgeous huge skein of purple Skaska cashmere/silk lace-weight yarn, which I gave to Laura. What prompted this unexpected show of generosity? (Normally, I'd never voluntarily give this kind of prize up, not even to a very good friend who's crazy about purple yarn.) Read on ....
As if the classes, shopping and door prizes weren't enough, I was the lucky winner of the grand prize at the Student Banquet -- a full registration (4 days of classes and admission to all events) at a future STITCHES event (any within the next two years)!! I offered the purple yarn to Laura in the hope that she'll go to the next event with me, but I don't think I'll have to work too hard to persuade her. I'm hoping some of my other knitting friends will join us next time!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Craft Update -- March 27

Here are my first two blankets for the Project Linus KAL/CAL I wrote about in my previous post. Both use patterns available free from the Bernat site, using their Baby Softee and Baby Coordinates yarns.

By the way, I love the new Addi crochet hook I'd also written about in my last post, but now I'm intrigued by the new Addi Swing hook.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Craft Update -- February 27

Tomorrow marks the start of Bernat's 2011 Knit and Crochet Along to support Project Linus, a non-profit organization that distributes blankets to seriously ill children. Bernat will be offering four new free patterns for baby blankets. All blankets delivered to their offices by August 1 will be sent on to Project Linus.

Bernat had sent the announcement earlier in February, and of course, I couldn't wait until the official start of the event, so I picked up a bunch of Bernat Baby Softee and started a blanket using one of their previously published free patterns. Now I have a growing stack of crocheted squares in front of me. Making afghan squares is the ultimate portable project.

I also bought myself a brand new Addi Comfort Grip crochet hook. It took me a while to get used to it, but now the crocheting is going very smoothly. After getting blisters from my old crochet hooks, this thought suddenly struck me. I've been spending a fortune these past years buying premium knitting needles, and I don't regret a penny I've spent on these tools which I constantly use. So why am I still using the crappy plastic crochet hooks I bought 20 years ago when I couldn't afford (and didn't know about) anything better? Moreover, high-end crochet hooks are way cheaper than high-end knitting needles, so I think it's time to replace my entire collection.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday Craft Update -- Feb. 13

Here's the latest project, made from more of my Mille Colori stash, from the Ravelry pattern 198 yds. of Heaven by Christy Verity. It's a smallish shawlette or scarf and not terribly difficult to do, once you figure out how the pattern works.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Jellyfish -- Instant and Natural!

This ("Instant Natural Jellyfish") has become our favourite snack ... Julia's and mine, that is. Todd can take it or leave it, and Kate won't come within a metre of it. We've been getting packs of it from the local Asian grocery store for an incredible 99 cents each. Commonly served at banquets, jellyfish is no longer reserved for special occasions for us. Open the package, mix in the chili oil and (sadly, MSG-laden) spice packet, and voila .... instant natural jellyfish! I think the cute pink jellyfish licking her lips (or whatever it is that jellyfish have) makes the contents extra-appealing.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Year of the Rabbit

The Year of the Rabbit is here. Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy New Year!

Bunny pattern is from Ana Paula Rimoli's book, Amigurumi World. Check out her site.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Julia Turns 16

Julia ... then and now. Happy 16th birthday, with love from the whole family!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Craft Update -- January 23

I finally got around to using up the remains of the Philosopher's Wool kit I'd used for this project. I added a few left-over Elann yarns and used fair-isle bands from Philosopher's Wool's Light 'n Easy sweater pattern. Todd says the hat is nice and warm, and the Globe and Mail claims tuques are back (or rather, still) in fashion.