That’s a wrap

If I were making a film, I would be at the end of shooting photography and heading into post production. AND there would be a party forthcoming to celebrate the momentous achievements to date.

Well there should be such a thing as a knitter’s wrap party. Not sure what it would look like. All us knitter’s elegantly perched on the edges of furniture holding cocktails in fancy glasses showing off our newly finished projects.

Probably not. We are already on to the next project. In fact we had a few more in progress all the while. The party would be more like a drop in at a local yarn store. Not very majestic or celebratory. But the most important moments in life are usually passing by without much fanfare. In fact, I think that is one of the hallmarks of being an adult, no one throws a big party after every little milestone is accomplished.

So I am taking a moment right now. This project was a big deal. Took a long time. Inspired from Purl Soho in New York City, co-designed and sourced by Kristina at Gina Brown’s Vancouver. Then stitch after stitch after stitch until finished.

It was meant to be done today. There has been a break in the heat, just enough to prompt a few windows to be closed, maybe a little wrap around the shoulders. Wait a minute….I now have the perfect one!

wrap done_web

Here are the yarns that made up this pattern. Heirloom knitting.

P.S. – now…I’m going to need something else to knit for the last 3 episodes of SOA, season 5. It needs to be easy….it is too difficult to pay attention to complicated instructions when the action on-screen is non-stop.

Yarn finds

Over the last few weeks, I have stumbled across a few very interesting yarn finds. This is the way things happen for me. If I head out on a shopping trip hoping to find a certain thing, I almost always come away with something different and usually far better.

First up was my recent trip to New York City. As luck would have it, the timing of my work sales meetings required me to stay over a weekend. Then my husband joined me because we wanted to celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary together, (imagine that.) So I dragged him down through Soho to a yarn shop I have been following online through a blog called Purl Bee, (my wrap project is in the top left corner, more to follow when it is complete). The projects and photography are amazing and you can buy all these things at the shop, called Purl Soho. I had no idea what I might want to buy, and I had almost walked out of the store having been there for maybe 10 minutes, when I saw the most lovely yarn. Well, I had to have it. I bought the needles required, the yarn and they printed the pattern for me and wound up the ball. What service! I was thoroughly impressed with the shop and wished they had a Vancouver location, even Seattle would be worth the drive.

View from my hotel room in New York City - started the hat promptly after purchasing from Purl Soho

View from my hotel room in New York City – started the hat promptly after purchasing from Purl Soho

Finished the hat in New York, while enjoying Madison Square Park

Finished the hat in New York, while enjoying Madison Square Park

Strolling through the White Rock Farmer’s Market today and came across a stand selling skeins of yarn! Wow, hand spun by a woman who calls her company – Fibre Nerdz. I picked up a skein of merino and hand dyed blue faced Leicester, (BFL). I’m going to work this into the second last position of my wrap. It is going to be lovely.

Fibre Nerdz - handspun by Sandi

Fibre Nerdz – handspun by Sandi

While talking about yarn, I received a pamphlet from the Peace Arch Weavers and Spinners Guild for the 30th annual Fibre Flare Sale in November. What luck! I didn’t even know that such a thing existed. All these creative people gathered together in one place.

I was thinking a hand-made sausage on a bun would be a nice tasty treat today at the market. That stand was not there, but the beautiful yarn was. So glad we ventured out in the rain today. It would have been far easier to stay shut in.

Now….who is going to sit, holding the skein of yarn taught, so I can hand wind it into a ball?

Heirloom knitting

A valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations.

Families here in North America used to be different. A young woman setting off on her new life would have a chest full of items that her Mother would have set aside for her. Many of the pieces would likely be heirlooms. They would be used and treasured and then passed on again, in due time.

Sometime recently, (within the last fifty or sixty years), most people give away old things. Instead, they covet brand new purchases, in glossy wrapping and a branded carry bag, from a store. More than likely, these items, (and all the components within), have travelled a very far distance. Hundreds and maybe thousands of people have been involved in the manufacture, distribution, selling and marketing of any one item.

The more popular idea of “heirloom” is often associated with vegetable seeds. A growing trend of new age urban pioneers, are going back to the land to grow food. The old seeds have been saved and the resulting plants taste better, are more beautiful to look at and are very rare.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about this idea of creating heirloom products. I’ve been saving my own tomato and pumpkin seeds for years, with great success. (I even grabbed a handful of poppy seeds from a neighbour, as I walked by!) My sister’s sweet pea’s will adorn 2 areas of my garden this year. Every time I walk by their sweet scent, I will smile and think of her. But can a Mother really expect to have a wearing apparel item passed down and appreciated by her family? Even jewelry seems to go out of fashion in a relatively short period of time.

I’ve come to the conclusion that if I might want to have something passed down through my family, it needs to be of a certain quality. Then I take a quick cruise through my closet and realize, there is virtually nothing in there that could become an heirloom. Almost all my clothes are disposable. Purchased from mass retailers, relatively “trend-right”, these things will not pass the test of time.

The few potential pieces I own are fabulous jewelry, hand-made by my Aunt. (One day, when she is a famous designer, they will be highly coveted pieces, even outside our family.) So I recently turned to my Aunt for help.

I had come across a fantastic pattern for a wrap from the blog of Purl Soho in New York City. Purl Bee published the details for an Amazing Seed Stitch Wrap. The yarns could easily be purchased from the link provided and I could have been half-finished by now. But, in order for this to be my piece, I needed to choose my own colors. That is near impossible to do online. Then there was the problem of the cashmere costing $50 per hank. (The project calls for 4 of them!)

As luck would have it, Gina Brown’s came to the rescue again. (I’ve written about the Calgary location before – “Increasing stash“.) So we made the pilgrimage to Kitsilano in Vancouver. With help from the actual Granddaughter of Gina Brown – Kristina, we created an array of colours and yarns that will be my signature wrap. And maybe, if I’m lucky, this piece will have stories to tell as it adorns the shoulders of women in my family as time marches on.

Gina Browns Kits_web

Gina Brown shawl_web

Yarns shown here, (from the left):

  • Glazed carrot – Malabrigo
  • (Peach) shade 0201 – Sublime
  • Lettuce – Malabrigo
  • Lavanda – Malabrigo
  • (Light lavender) shade 0011 – Sublime
  • Azules – Malabrigo
  • (Light teal) shade 0109 – Sublime
  • (Stone) colour 300027 – Debbie Bliss
  • Fresco Y Seco – Malabrigo
  • (Teal) shade 0227 – Sublime
  • Vaa – Malabrigo

More about these yarns:

  • Malabrigo Rios – Pure Merino Superwash, made in Peru
  • Sublime – 75% extra fine merino, 20% silk, 5% cashmere
  • Debbie Bliss – 55% Merino wool, 33% microfibre, 12% cashmere

Yarnitis a.k.a. too much yarn?

Just over a week ago, I received a pretty healthy sized box of yarn in the mail. 4 new projects worth, to be exact. A vest, a shawl, a sleeveless sweater and a loose knit summer sweater. This yarn is meant for patterns I found online marked easy. I don’t want to attempt anymore projects marked intermediate.

While I adore my newly finished shawl, the pattern was mistakenly marked “easy”. However, I knew from the onset there would be problems. First issue was that I evidently can’t read or count very well because the whole thing had to be ripped back after I was already 400 meters into it. So that set me back. Then, I managed to finish the knitting, blocking and sewing, but the crochet was left. I think there is a condition of reduced cognitive ability whereby a person can read the words and they should flow into a set of actions, but for a select few of us, they do not. That is crochet instructions, seriously. I am fine, if someone knowledgeable sits beside me and corrects me each time I veer off.

I guess knitting and crochet are related. They both require a stick like device to create patterns of knots, but that is where the similarity ends. While I covet the projects that can only be completed with crochet, I have to reign in the craziness. I do not need a queue of more unfinished projects that belong to the criteria, “things I don’t know how to do, yet.” Now that would just be crazy.

No, I’m not there yet. I’m only slightly ill. Like a low-grade fever, I’m acting a bit strange, not quite my normal, logical, practical self. I get it into my head to research yarn for a new project and there she goes….of on a tangent.

What’s 4 new projects? Doesn’t sound so bad, right? Well, it wouldn’t be except for 2 other reasons. First is that I have started 7 other projects on needles and have yarn at the ready for 2 more. I have recently abandoned at least 2 projects, rolled the yarn back up or given it away. Oh, that totals 13, unlucky. So fine, I don’t like one of the yarn colors anyway – so that goes too. Now I’m back to 12. But I digress. The other reason that 12 projects might be a tad too many is I am a very slow knitter. Added to the fact, (or maybe the reason for it), I don’t have very much time to knit.

These are labels you can actually buy to sew into your hand made goods. Funny, yes,  in a sad but strange sort of way.

this took forever

This morning, I made sense of all the projects because there was knitting covering almost every surface of the living room. My daughter was having some friends over and there was no where for them to be without disrupting my delicate placement of projects. The other reason organization was in order is because, I have another new project in mind. But 12 is my new limit. Nothing else can start before something is finished. (Does anyone know where I can find a good deal on cashmere?)

I have to be strict with myself here. Because every time I finish something, or give up a pattern, the yarn goes into my stash. And that is taking up more and more space. But we are renovating and I get a whole new “creative” space where my knitting supplies and my formidable fabric collection can be arranged. I never thought I would need to buy furniture to house all this stuff.

Knitting project side board

Knitting project side board

So this entire shelf is really just temporary. We can’t have friends over for dinner like this. Next Saturday morning, this will have to move to the floor of my room. When will the renovation be done again? Maybe I can get one sock and a dish cloth done this weekend, which would remove the bottom 2 bags from this photo. I know, not thinking big enough, but the rest of these are garments, not measly accessories.

The next bag up is a sweater I started in Mexico 3 months ago. I just booked tickets for the same trip in 9 months time….I would really like for that sweater to be done by then.

Maybe my illness is more related to balancing  my ambition with my skill at completion? I’m not the only one with this condition:

One thing leads to another

It has been an extremely busy week. Getting ready for Christmas when I don’t have any presents to buy should have been easy, but somehow it wasn’t. Just when I thought my work could not have been busier, more was added to my schedule.

Thankfully, as we headed back into the city on Friday night for a corporate Christmas party, it didn’t feel so overwhelming anymore. Just another thing on the list for the week that never wanted to end.

Needless to say, I made no progress on my knitting projects. Which kind of leaves me a bit restless. So what should I do in a case like that? Start another project? I know, it is a sickness.

We arrived early to the city on Friday night. I suggested we run by the yarn store, so I could shop for another project I have rolling around in the back of my mind. My husband joked that I might start it when we arrived home from the party. And I did. It is starting to look so nice already!

baby blanket_web

But as I walk around the house, packing, sorting and making mental notes, I notice 2 other projects on the go. In the time it took to start the baby blanket, I could have had my sweater finished.

sweater_web

Then there is the trepidation I feel for winding the merino into balls. The first one took several nights of work because it got tangled up about a third of the way through. Not to mention, I had no idea of what I was doing. I think I have it figured out, but who can say? It is so nice to touch and I can imagine how fantastic it will be to work with.

hanks_web

There is a super bulky scarf started, the matching hat is already done. I don’t even count all the unfinished projects tucked away on the shelf. There is crochet, I have not begun to learn.

And on it goes.

Increasing stash

For those of you that are already well established knitters, you know what the word “stash” refers to. I would classify myself as an over-confident beginner. But, I still have managed to acquire an impressive stash. And that is by chance, purchasing bits from here and there, mixed with the ever-present leftovers. I think yarn pattern designers are the same breed as sewing pattern makers, always having you buy too much for what you really need. (I have made patterns and markers professionally and there is no need to have a meter leftover, but I digress.)

Yesterday, I went to mecca. As I said, I’m really a novice and my buying has been focused on yarn that is not that great. So I finally made it to a proper yarn store. Gina Brown’s in Calgary, Alberta – awesome! My Aunt frequents this store and always has the most interesting projects on the go. You noticed the use of plural, like reading, she has a multitude of choices to pick up that suit her mood. I do that too, maybe it runs in families, or maybe we are kindred spirits regardless.

Gina Brown was a person, and it turns out her grand-daughter has a store in Vancouver, yeah! That is relatively close to me, so my stash may really start to grow now. Last night I was thinking about a new organization system to hold it all. I suppose that is when you know you have a problem. Like my fabric stash, I just can’t seem to help myself. I like the colors, the textures, the feeling I get when I look at it and imagine what could be done with it.

My husband called me a few days ago as he was leaving our house and asked if I wanted him to bring the box of yarn that had come in the mail. I said no. What can be more fun that having a look at the yarn that you bought online? It is like Christmas! (Maybe better, because it is exactly what you wanted!)

Something new

This is crazy, I know. Most knitters would probably sympathize, having been in this state before.  I don’t know what I was thinking, or rather, I do. I was bored with all my current projects on the go, (too many to list here), and I wanted something new.

So, what have I done? Bought 7 projects worth of yarn. I went through the Herrschners website and the Red Heart website at the same time picking easy, free patterns and the corresponding yarns. And that was how the big box of yarn came into my possession today.

The only downside I see in this experiment is; I am missing needles for all but one of the projects. That is simply a sign that I must start the only project that calls for basic 6.0mm needles. (Ruffled Wrap). Who knows how much the 9 sets of new needles will cost. Because the most important criteria in all this has been fulfilled. That was to ensure the patterns were marked “easy” and that I bought the exact type of yarn being called for.

This hankering for something new may take years to finish. And I may not end up with, what I had planned for, but it will be exciting nonetheless.