Monday, August 18, 2014

August Vacations

Apologies for my prolonged absence from the blog; I've been on vacation.

At the beginning of the month I was off to Vancouver with my Gaelic Football team, and then it was off to Drumheller with my family for a week after that.

The other week since then? Well, I've been recovering from the vacation, and getting this and that and the other thing done, or, really, in all honesty, procrastinating.

So, catching up time then!

My football team had a great weekend, in which we beat Calgary, but lost to Vancouver. We played well, and enjoyed some great football. Our men's team won the championship, and we cheered our heads off for them, and had a generally great time.

I did also do a wee bit of shopping while I was there, having spent a few hours at Granville Island with a couple of friends. I bought some silk for spinning. I am going to practice with a bit of silk/wool blend before I try that though!

It was a pretty quick turnaround to get ourselves out the door the day after my return, but we had packed most things before I left, and my husband had taken care of the last few bits of food prep while I was gone, so it was a matter of sorting a few more groceries, doing laundry, packing clothes, and keeping the excited kids from being too disappointed in how long the process was taking (I think our eldest sat in the car reading for nearly two hours, having decided she was ready whether we were or not).

In Drumheller, my family went camping, visited the Royal Tyrrell Museum, the Atlas Coal Mine, and also went hiking with my parents, who came out to join us for the day. The museum was of course excellent, and full of dinosaurs. The mine was pretty cool; we took the tunnel tour. This was not in the actual mine, which is currently still blocked up and awaiting excavation, but through the tunnel leading up to the mine entrance, going right through the hillside in the process.

For hiking, we went to Dry Island Buffalo Jump, and stopped at Horseshoe Canyon by way of the Bleriot Ferry on the way back. We had a great time, enjoyed being outdoors, and got lots and lots of exercise in while we were at it.

I did work on a bit of knitting while we were away, mainly on my daughter's shawl that I am making from my handspun. Unforunately, I ran out of yarn. Luckily, in addition to the sock I was working on (and needed a break from), I brought some socks I've been carrying around for half a year that needed darning.

These are the third pair of socks I ever made, and they're soft and lovely, but as a result of the softness, not so hard-wearing. I thought I had kept some yarn scraps, but had a lot of trouble finding them. Months later, when looking for something else completely different, they turned up, and so I could use the original yarn for repairs.

Having fit the sock over a wooden toy orange, I duplicate stitched around the trouble area, and so reinforced both sides of the sock toes. Sure it stands out a bit, but the socks will hold together for a little longer at least!

A few days ago, I went shopping at Pam's Woolly Shoppe, partly so I could solve the problem of the shawl, and partly so I could pick out a second spindle. Run out of yarn? No problem, spin some more! There was more Corriedale in the same colourway, so here I am with fresh singles, no-where near so overspun as the rest of the shawl yarn, but as it's for the border, I'm hoping it won't look too off-kilter with the rest of it.

I'm quite pleased with my spinning progress, and I am definitely continuing to enjoy it! I will be winding this into a ball today, but I should make every effort to resist knitting with it until I get a few other tasks accomplished.

I really need to tidy the house (a lot!) to make up for neglecting it all weekend while helping to coach kids at football camp. It has been a busy month so far!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


I have more designing on the go, but I still need something to work on in my downtime, and that includes not-in-a-hurry knitting like the Citron shawl I'm making from my cotton-candy-coloured handspun Corridale singles.

It also includes some sewing planning (nothing like "I'm going on a trip and I think I need a new purse" to try and talk me into sudden last-minute projects; but I think I should pack first before I decide if I have time)...

...and also some spinning!

Having finished spinning the Sapphire Heather singles, I wound them into a plying ball. I didn't think of that last time, but I was poking around spinning forums where it came up, and boy is it ever a good idea! I wanted to do a three-ply yarn this time, and so I started with a cotton ball to wind things around, and held three singles together and wound them on. Using cotton balls has been an excellent way to wind balls of singles and to wind the plying ball! They wind on to it so nicely, and it doesn't add much weight at all, but provides a good base to get a start with.

I then plied them in two batches (maybe I need a bigger spindle for plying so I can do them in one?), and, though I now suspect I perhaps should have added a little more twist to the ply, I think I ended up with some pretty nice looking yarn. You know, once it was skeined and washed, that is.

Of course these are sitting on display where I can look at them every day now! I have a few ideas for what to do with the yarn, but I'll let you know when I start on something with it.

In the meantime, I'm keeping up the spinning with my next batch of yarn in Tidepool Heather (again from Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Roving).

I love the way the little strands of golden yellow play with the greens and blues in this. I'm working on a more consistent single, but not expecting to get there anytime soon. I'm just glad that it gets that little wee bit better with every bit of practice, and that I'm enjoying the practice. Hard not to enjoy when something so lovely is the result!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Nephew Gifts

Remember those socks that just needed the ends woven-in?

I've had them on my mind the whole time, but I had deadline knitting (and no, not the Oranje, that deadline was a fun challenge, whereas here I'm talking serious deadline, and I'll tell you about it some other time, I promise) and so I left them a little longer, but they are now complete.

The little black dots are from a liquid latex you can buy from Regia to make treads on your socks. I find it tricky to work with, but felt it was necessary in this case, as this little guy does not have my kids' experience wearing hand-knit socks, which by the way, are extra slippery for some reason. He's always on full-speed mode, and I want him safe in these socks, so I gave the dots my best shot. They look fine in the photo, but that's because you can't see the treads on the other one! You won't be able to see them when he is wearing them anyhow.

Now, I also have another hand-made gift for the guy, and all because I saw that amazing fabric with the foxes with hats, ties, and monocles. I could not resist it's cuteness, and so:

The pattern is the Camp Shirt by Nina Martine Robinson, from Fabric by Fabric One Yard Wonders. It was a pretty simple one (though I may not attempt snaps again; glad I switched to buttons in the end. The pattern suggests either/or). The pattern does not indicate any finishing steps though, so I worked flat-felled seams, and understitched the facing at the neckline. I also worked a lot of top-stitching that didn't come up in the instructions either.

I suspect this sort of thing gets left out of pattern instructions not only to save space, but also so as not to intimidate beginners. However, I found, when I was a beginner, I always felt like my work looked awful, and all that finishing (that wasn't often in the instructions) is what actually makes it look good.

My advice to those of you who are not confident in their sewing, or any of you just getting going on sewing, whether you are enthusiastic or frustrated, here is what you can do to improve your technique:

-Don't skip the pressing step.
-Read about seam-finishing and decide BEFORE sewing what you are going to use in each case.
-Top-stitch anywhere you think it would look good.

I'm only just starting to feel like I've made the leap from beginner to intermediate where sewing is concerned, but that leap is almost entirely due to improved finishing planning.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Extra Time

So, I'm going in to extra time for this cardigan, but luckily there are no penalties...

Not a bad effort, but all the other things I had going on did get in the way of finishing on time. I'm pleased with my progress and am looking forward to finishing this one. However, I think I'm going to have to put it aside until August sometime, so later in the week (or next week at latest), I will come up with something else to talk about on the blog!

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Very Quick Update

Not sure if I can finish the Oranje cardigan in time, but I'll be giving it a shot! Here's where I'm at today so far:

Of course, I've also been distracted by this fabric in the meantime (so cute!), but we'll see how many things I can do over the next few days.

Hup Holland!

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Hup Oranje!

Well, it's been exciting watching the Dutch team in the World Cup, and often suspenseful, as they are often apparently waiting for the last twenty minutes to get some goals; nerve-wracking, that!

While cheering the team on, I've been working on the Oranje Cardigan by Ann Weaver (love this pattern). I'm now up to the yoke, nearly at the yoke charts (but not quite). Will I finish by the end of the World Cup? Maybe. I've set it as a goal by entering in a knitalong of WIPs (work in progress) in the WIP Cup on Ravelry. It had been languishing for a good month while I worked on sample-knitting, so the World Cup was a great excuse to pull it back out and get going on it.

There's a lot more to do after the yoke, including steeks, sewing facings, weaving-in, button-band, sewing buttons...but finishing in time is not impossible anyhow!

My garden is also celebrating the Dutch soccer team:

I love my Orange Irises; they're such show-offs!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Last Week of School

 Well, it's the last week of school before summer, and that means two things: Time to whip up some teacher gifts, and time to get some treats ready for my daughter to share with her class on her birthday.

My daughter settled on brownies and blondies cut into squares and iced to look like Creepers from Minecraft. She put on all the chocolate chips while I practiced piping little blobs on the treats.

For gifts, I had the girls pick out fabric, and I spent a few days sewing up bags (just right for carrying a few things to the beach, or back and forth from school). The pattern is the Retro Bag from Fabric by Fabric One Yard Wonders. 

Much thanks to my husband who helped me get all the cutting done in one night! It was a quick and fun sew, though by the fourth one it was starting to get to be a bit of a slog, as I just wanted to be done so I could get on to my other work. Delighted with the results though! I omitted the snap and the adjustable strap as I intended them more as a tote bags than as purses.

The girls had a great time picking out fabric! I like the popsicle one best myself, though the cappuccino one is a close second. 

I was so busy last month (and much of this one) that I completely missed tulip season. Well, I did get to see them, but I didn't get around to photographing any of them.

I didn't want to miss the irises and lupins, so I stepped out and caught a bee in a few of the photos. I'm a sucker for bee-and-flower photos.

Things are busy, as I have so much housework to catch up on before the birthday party on the weekend, so this is just a very quick post. I'm also continuing work on my Oranje cardigan; progress photos on that for the next post!