Thursday, November 19, 2015

Gift-a-Long 2015!

This year I am again participating in the Gift-a-Long on Ravelry!

What is the Gift-a-Long you ask?

Well, for starters, if you're not on Ravelry, you can still participate in one part of it, and that's the sale, because you can shop on Ravelry without even joining. Between 335 participating designers from 30 countries, we are offering a total of 5065 patterns at 25% off from November 19th 20:00 EST to November 27th 23:59 EST.

My sale patterns can be found here in my Ravelry Shop. Use the code giftalong2015 for the discount!

If you are on Ravelry? Even better. There is a crochet-along and knit-along where you can sign up your project in the following categories in the indie-design-gift-a-long group on Ravelry:

Hats & Other Head Things
Hand & Arm Things
Foot & Leg Things
Kids & Baby Things (except toys)
Sweaters & Other Garments
Shawls & Stoles
Cowls, Scarves, & Other Neck Things
Toys, Home, & Other Miscellaneous Things

Any pattern you have purchased from a participating designer is eligible for prizes,  regardless of when it was purchased (particularly helpful if you bought patterns last year that you still haven't made!). Cast-on is tonight, November 19th 20:00 EST, and it runs through Thursday, December 31 at midnight EST.

Want a really big challenge? Sign up for the GAL2015 Head to Toe Ultimate Gifting Challenge and complete a project in each category with patterns from at least five participating designers!

Hope you join us! In the meantime, I'll leave you to peruse the Gift-a-Long 2015 Stats compiled by the amazing Kimberly Golynskiy.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Lincoln Swatch Part 2

Here's my completed Lincoln swatch!

The resulting yarn is creamy-coloured, fuzzy, and drapey. Some areas are over-plied, and don’t feel as nice to wind or knit with, but most of it is quite pleasant to the touch.While it’s softer than I would expect for what I had read of Lincoln, it is definitely not baby-soft. Washing definitely increased the halo on this swatch, and it already had quite a bit. I wore the swatch in three places over three days. I found that I barely noticed it at all pinned into the waistband of my jeans or in the leg of my jeans/inside my sock. I noticed it a fair bit more inside my sleeve, where it prickled occasionally. I didn’t notice much change to the swatch at all.

After another wash, I wore the swatch pinned inside my shirt at my side all day, where the prickle did call itself to my attention fairly often, but was mostly tolerable most of the time. It helped that it was just on the one side; I don’t think I’d have found it as tolerable in a full top worn next-to-skin. Despite all the fuzziness, there is still a bit of the lustre showing, but less than there would be with a worsted prep and longer staple.

Throughout the process, the swatch has not changed much except for the increased halo. No signs of pilling so far. The swatch is drapey, sturdy, and, while softer than I would have thought, not quite what I would want for next-to skin use. Someone with less sensitive skin would likely be fine for a number of uses. I am inclined to consider this yarn not-quite typical for Lincoln, based on my reading, so would be interested in trying Lincoln from other sources to compare.

I think this yarn would hold up quite decently over time. I’d be inclined towards using it mainly for outerwear (coats and cardigans) if spun to a heavier weight, or lighter layers as it is. Could be used for next-to-skin in less sensitive areas by those with a higher tolerance for prickliness than myself.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Happy Halloween!

"Jinkies! The Sinister Pumpkin is after us!"

"Run Scooby!"

 "We've got to find out who that Sinister Pumpkin is! Jinkies! A clue!"

"The Sinister Pumkin is no other than my little sister!"
"And I would have gotten away with it too, if it were not for my meddling older sister!"

One sweater, knit up in short order using Very Big Yarn (Lion Brand Thick and Quick in Pumpkin) and Very Big Needles (15mm!!!); the kids went shopping for the rest.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Lincoln Swatch Part 1

Next up in my contributions to the KnitBritish Breed Swatchalong is a bit of Lincoln I've spun up!

Lincolns are big sheep that grow long & heavy fleeces. The wool is strong and lustrous, and ranges 33.5-41 microns, with a staple length of 7-15 inches. The roving I started with seems to me to have a staple length at the lower end, and came in the form of a long, flattened ribbon. I can't determine for sure where this Lincoln was from, so I will just guess that it is from outside of Britain.

At any rate, it's rather lustrous, and at once quite fluffy. While spinning, I found this Lincoln to be softer than I would have thought it would be from what I had read. It's not so much that I was spinning a slubby yarn on purpose as I had made the conscious decision not to fight it the whole way. Let it be slubby if it wants to, right? There was lots of back spinning on the spindle besides! When plying, it behaved quite well, and seemed to get to a comfortable amount of twist without me having to second-guess myself too often. That being said, while knitting, I have found a few spots with too much twist; I would try to ply with a bit less twist in future.

I'd describe the resulting yarn as drapey, nice enough to touch in that it felt pretty soft and smooth running through my fingers when winding it, and it didn't prickle worn in a skein around my neck (yes, it's the thing to do when you're particularly delighted with yarn you've made; just wear it around like a necklace for a bit). It's somewhat dense, and definitely rather inelastic. It ended up looking rather more even than I had thought it might (the magic of plying!), but it still has a bumpy, textured look. It came up at about 17 wraps per inch, but it might be more like 15 in some places.

There's a fair bit of halo, so when I cast 50 stitches onto my 3.25mm needles, I figured I'd best stick with stockinette bordered with garter stitch; we'll see how it goes then!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Manx Loaghtan Swatch post 2

I was just about to write a post about my next swatch for the swatchalong when I realized I never did remember post 2 for the Manx Loaghtan Swatch, so I'm writing that instead, and will hopefully do some more writing next week to overcome a bit of a backlog in blogging plans.

So, here is my finished Manx Loaghtan swatch!

The finished swatch was not very drapey, and was nice enough but a little rough yet, at least in the Garter stitch areas. The Stocking stitch areas feel a bit, well, nicer. Washing the swatch really improved the drape. Following the directions set out for this swatchalong, the next bit was the test-drive, where we're to pin the swatch into our clothing and assess how it wears and how it feels. I started by pinning the swatch into the waistband of my jeans and  heading off to IKEA. I only noticed it immediately after pinning it in while I was busy thinking about it, then mostly forgot about it after for most of the day. I latter tried pinning it to the inside of my sleeve; it was a bit more prickly here, and I noticed it occasionally, but it was mostly fine.

Next, I washed the swatch again, let it dry again (took less than a day; one of the advantages of how dry the air starts to get this time of year). A slight halo started to make an appearance, and I'd say the fabric was now somewhat more cohesive. I wore the swatch inside my sock most of the day, where I pretty much forgot about it. I do find that it doesn’t take much for me to find a sock too itchy to wear, so the Manx Loaghtan passed that particular test with flying colours!

So, overall, the swatch seems decently hard-wearing, and had no pilling so far, had good drape, fairly stretchy, and features a warm and soft-but-woolly feel; just fine for next to skin in most cases (depending on how sensitive your skin is and where). I think this yarn would hold up quite decently for a variety of uses, though I would advocate knitting rather more tightly for something like socks or mittens. At the gauge I have knit the swatch, it could certainly be used for a light sweater, hat, or even a scarf (though I find it a touch prickly against the neck, but others might not). Certainly someone with more experience in spinning could spin this yarn for a softer feel or a less-soft-but-more-hardwearing quality, so the fiber experience would vary depending on the individual fleece, and actual yarn construction.

I'm eager to try Manx Loaghtan again someday!

Monday, October 19, 2015


This past week, I've had two designs published (which makes for an exciting week!), and I am so glad to be able to finally share this one with you!

Photograph by Dan Walmsley for Practical Publishing

Frobisher is named for the rose in the Explorer series, which in turn is named for the explorer of the same name; quite appropriate for a sweater with both British and Canadian connections, right? The Canadian connection is of course myself, and the British connection is Knit Now Magazine, who have published my sweater in issue number 53, available for online purchase from Moremags at this link.

Photograph by Dan Walmsley for Practical Publishing

I am so pleased to have my sweater on the cover of this magazine, which is full of delicious cables, colourwork, and tweed; just the thing for October. There's even a crossword puzzle I'm hoping to try out over coffee later on; that too is full of woolly goodness!

Worked in Sirdar Wool Rich Aran, Frobisher features plenty of cables, including a large cable running up the sleeve into the saddle shoulders. The shawl collar is thoroughly cozy, and the choice of fit is reasonably flexible with the stretch in the cabled ribbing; that is, the size small fits me if I want a snug-but-comfortable fit, but if I wanted a more relaxed fit I would go with the medium that I usually wear. Sized in women's sizes from XS to 3XL, the sweater is actually unisex, so observe the actual measurements in centimetres to choose the size to knit for men.

I wanted the Frobisher pullover to be at once rugged and cozy, and there is just something about cables that speaks of both to me. I enjoyed designing and knitting Frobisher, and hope you will enjoy knitting it just as much!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Yarn Chase Hat

Today I'm sharing with you a ridiculously adorable knitting collection! I am very pleased to be a part of the new Knit Picks collection, Charmed: Whimsical Knitted Accessories. You can check out the entire collection at Knit Picks or at Ravelry, where you can see foxes, gnomes, vegetables, cheerful pops of colour, all making for a great set of accessories.

My contribution, the Yarn Chase Hat, features a cat chasing a 3D ball of yarn that unravels around the hat. Worked in Knit Picks Palette, it is written for sizes small, medium and large (pictured below in small). Knit flat, using intarsia, the hat is seamed, embroidered with surface crochet, and topped with a pom-pom.

A little while ago, I joined Instagram, where I'm giving away a copy of the e-book! If you're on Instagram, you can enter by commenting on this post by the end of October 29th (23:59 GMT).

Good luck, and Happy Knitting!

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Swatchalong: Manx Loaghtan Part 1

I was going to start off on the Knit British Breed Swatchalong with some Romney handspun, and so I did, only I ran out of yarn. I don't have any more of the fibre to spin, so this Romney swatch is going on the backburner until I sort out ordering some more (and then spinning it; hopefully close enough to the same specs).

I'm moving on to Manx Loaghtan instead for my first swatch.

By Acad Ronin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Manx Loaghtan are noted for having multiple horns (as many as six), and having a range of lovely brown colours. As the name suggests, they are from the Isle of Man, and are a rare breed that gets used for conservation grazing (their grazing benefits bird populations, specifically the Chough). For more on the sheep itself, here's a link to their sheep breeder's group.

As far as the fleece is concerned, the staple length and micron counts listed in The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook (Robson & Ekarius) are: 2.5-5" (6.5-12.5cm) and an average of 27 microns. My particular bit of wool was given to me by a friend in roving form to sample from her own stash. I had spun this up in January, and wrote on the blog about it here. Having more spinning experience now (though still pretty limited), I'd probably describe the wool as somewhere between Corriedale and Shetland, though really, it's entirely it's own thing.

The yarn is nice and springy, and as even as I could hope for it to be considering I had been spinning for less than a year when I had spun it. I remember enjoying spinning this yarn, and I had spun it more-or-less worsted style on my drop spindle. The colour is lovely; this morning I decided it's a heathered milk chocolate. The skein had a nice squoosh to it, and was nice to wind up. It's not as I should say exactly soft, but it's not not soft; I'd say probably soft enough for next-to-skin, but we'll see how the test drive of the swatch goes for that.

So far, the swatch is coming along nicely. I've decided on a stockinette and garter stripe for stitch pattern, and am using 3.25mm needles. The yarn measured 14 wraps-per-inch, so it's basically a fingering weight. It's not that drapey at present (going up a needle size could fix that), but I like the fabric, and think it will drape a touch more when washed. We'll just have to see.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Lily Mittens Re-release!

Today I have re-released my Lily Mittens pattern!

Originally published in Knit Now Magazine #45, they're a lovely pair of fancy mittens. You can find more information on my patterns page (there's a tab to reach the patterns page at any time right below the blog header). The mittens are available via Ravelry and LoveKnitting.

To celebrate this re-release, and knitting season generally (sure I knit all year, but there's something special about it in the fall, right?) I have arranged a 25% off sale on Ravelry for my winter accessories patterns, running from October 1st to the end of October 15th (GMT). The included patterns are: Lily Mittens, Floral Heart Mittens, Popinjays, Penguin Mittens, Myshka Tuque, and Irish Cowboy.

Happy Knitting!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

In Which Shiny things are Finished, and New Projects Beckon

On the weekend, I finished up the socks! (Yay!) Between a meeting, a school field trip, and a camping weekend with the extended family, the rest of the sock seemed to take no time at all. (Double yay!)

The new owner seems pleased. I've cast-on her mittens, but they're only on the third row of ribbing, so they are not very exciting just yet.

Another thing I did on the weekend was to practice lucet-braiding to make new bootlaces (the old ones were falling apart, and one was already greatly reduced). I finished one on the drive out, and the other while visiting around the campfire.

I used some Regia Flusi das Sockenmonster in the Susi colourway. I had only bought one ball each of this yarn, and it turns out the kids find it scratchy anyhow, so I enjoyed using the yarn to add a bit of brightness to my boots.

I have a couple of new things to show off in October sometime, and am working on another thing in the meantime, but there is a project I can share that I will be joining-in on. I'm quite excited about my plans to participate in the Knit British swatch-along!

Now, swatches are wonderful things. For knitting, they help you to ensure that you will end up with the size you have planned on making, and, if you're substituting, they can help you sort out if you've picked a compatible yarn. For designing, they are the basis of all your math, give you a space to try a few things out if you're testing an idea, and can help you sort out if you've picked the right sort of yarn for the project type, stitch pattern, general look, structure, etc.

Another use for swatches though is to get to know a fibre better in general. There are so many sheep breeds (and so little time to spin and knit them!), and they are so very different from each other in how they feel and behave. Getting to know different wools allows for a better understanding of just what is available out there.

I will mostly be using this as a spinning exercise on top of a swatching exercise, and will be using both British and locally sourced wools that are from British sheep breeds (including a few breeds that originated elsewhere, but that are now popular in Britain). This is a great chance to use the small bits of sample spinning I have done or have been planning to do, and I'm jumping right in. I'll be blogging my progress on the various swatch projects, and will include notes to explain some of the spinning jargon I've slipped into using of late (with the disclaimer that I'm very much a beginner still and that I have a limited understanding of quite a few areas of spinning as a result).

My current list of fibre to try is: Manx Loughtan, Masham, Wensleydale, Romney, Shetland, Lincoln and Gotland, some Blue-Faced Leicester (already in yarn form, courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners), and with Dorset, Cotswold, and more Wensleydale (I have an idea) on the way via A Curious Spin!

Cast-on for the Swatch-along is October 5th (though I'll be spinning for it in the meantime as well), and if you're interested in joining-in, the Knit British group on Ravelry is a fun and lively place to do so!

Skeins: Top is Blue-Faced Leicester, below is Manx Loughtan. Balls, L-R: Romney singles x2, Shetland in assorted colours x 5, and Wensleydale.