Knitting

Furbaby Love

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Whenever we show in Niagara-on-the-lake we get to stay at our friend Kim’s place, aka the Gryphon Ridge Highland Cattle Farm. It’s always a treat for us city mice, and I sleep far better at Kim’s then I do at home. The crickets at night and the rooster in the morning sure beat the sound of the highway.

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In the morning there is a great exodus of cattle, as Bucky the patriarch moves the herd from the back of the field, where it’s cooler at night, to the front where there is a lean-to that gives good shade.

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This past weekend there was an extra treat; a baby! This furry little guy is less than 2 weeks old in the photo, and he’s all kinds of cuddly. Just look at that fur!

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There is more than one baby, just look at this adorable little bull. He’s super friendly with people and even gives kisses.

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Here’s another baby pic – love this guy.

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I found out recently that you can spin highland cattle hair! It’s unbelievably soft, to my surprise. Kim has a lady who takes the hair that the cows shed  and spins it up. She named it by cow and brought it to the Frogpond show:

IMG_0694-(1)Pretty cool stuff, something for me to try later :)

 

 

Dyeing at Home

The mega project that left me with sore wrists continues to plague me, so I’ve switched my sights to dyeing for a while ;) Last night I started experimenting with some new acid dyes, and I’m quite pleased with the results! Both of these are 500 yard skeins of 100% super wash merino lace. I bought a cone of the stuff, so half of my dyeing time is spent hand-winding skeins onto my niddy-noddy, but once you get into the zen of the thing it’s not so bad…. until you lose count, that is.

Experiment 1: “That looks just like all your other s#!t’ (So says Tito every time I dye something turquoise).
A greenish-blue, with just a touch of yellow-brown added, something to make me think of the sea.

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Experiment 2: Terra Cotta (that was the goal, though this came out more cayenne).
A rich orange-red with small hits of mahogany here and there, to add variegation and interest.

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Now, of course, all I want to do is knit them up and see how they do. They are generous sized skeins, and will make lovely shawls. More experimental dyeing is in my future!

Alpacas at Eighth and Mud

On Saturday, after the farmers market, Tito and I decided to pay a visit to Alpacas From Eighth and Mud, a farm that I’d learned about during the Frogpond Farm art show. We got to visit with John and Sharon (the owners), meet the herd, view their fibre mill and learn about their processes, and finally, purchase some spinning and knitting fibre, an excellent tour all round! Thank you John and Sharon for the tour, we’ll definitely come back!

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My spoils included 100g of undyed white fibre, I'm dying half of it (more on that later) and leaving the other half natural.

My spoils included 100g of undyed white fibre, I’m dying half of it (more on that later) and leaving the other half natural.

This stuff drafts like butter! This is an effortless lace weight spin.

This stuff drafts like butter! This is an effortless lace weight spin.

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Check out that beard!

Check out that beard!

The store, where many, many lovely things are sold.

The store, where many, many lovely things are sold.

A spinning machine. I'd never seen one before, fascinating!

A spinning machine. I’d never seen one before, fascinating!

Making roving, and blending their own hand dyed colour.

Making roving, and blending their own hand dyed colour.

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Soooo soft.

Soooo soft.

The biggest carder I've ever seen.

The biggest carder I’ve ever seen.

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You can buy poop! Had to take a photo, lol.

You can buy poop! Had to take a photo, lol.

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FO – Tut Tut, looks like rain

What’s a long road trip good for? Casting off a Henslowe, that’s what.

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The yarn is from ‘See Jayne Knit’ and the colour way is called ‘Tut Tut, looks like rain’. I decided to take the FO pics yesterday because the day and the yarn were a perfect match.

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Normally I’m not a fan of variegated yarn and lace patterns, but I don’t think this turned out too badly.

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It’s a comfortable size, the yarn is super soft, and I’m sure it will get lots of wear this winter :)

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FO – Custom Fit Featherweight

The Custom Fit Featherweight is off the needles, fits like a dream, and I’m totally in love.

Chaos

Chaos

Blocking

Blocking

Magic. Gets me every time.

Magic. Gets me every time.

As soon as I really came to terms with having to seam it all up, I briefly panicked.

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Luckily Amy Herzog has a number of fantastic tutorials on her blog that made it super easy. I got better as I went along, much faster than I expected to. Before I knew it, it was done.

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Tito and I are currently road tripping through the US. Tennessee is stunning so I thought, ‘what better place for FO shots?’.

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We even got photos with some super friendly State Troopers :)

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The Bind Off that Never Ends

There is a Pinterest board that I follow called ‘Yarn‘ by user Viola Bow that showcases yarn from around the internet, with a great focus on indie dyers and Etsy shops, as well as larger companies. If you’re always looking for fresh yarn options I highly recommend. Through her, I discovered See Jayne Knit, and immediately fell in love.

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Shown are 2 very similar colour ways; ‘Tut Tut, Looks Like Rain‘ and ‘Sand and Sea Glass‘. I bought sock and lace weight (perhaps another featherweight cardigan?) and I loved them even more in person. I especially love that she ties a little stitch marker to each skein – so cute!

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What’s the best pattern to showcase such gorgeous, variegated yarn? After angsting over my decision on Ravelry I settled on the gorgeous Henslowe by Beth Kling (of whom I’m a huge fan; I’ve also made Jackson Square, and I’ve got my eye on Loie). I’ve made Henslowes twice before, and gave both away as gifts, I figured it was time for my own.

A gift for Leslie

A gift for Leslie

A gift for Tito's mom; modelled by Leslie ;)

A gift for Tito’s mom; modelled by Leslie ;)

In other words, I am no Henslowe rookie. I cast on, aimed for 64 yarn overs (thanks to the generous 500 yards in her sock yarn skeins) and cast on. This thing flew off the needles in no time. Helped in no small way by how gorgeous and addictive the yarn was.

And I love how it looks with my resin jewelry - perfection!

And I love how it looks with my resin jewelry – perfection!

But then comes the bind off. I’ve done this before, I know what’s coming. I know that Henslowe is so beautiful that it’s all worth it in the end… but somehow that never helps.

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I feel like this took me an hour. And after a Lord of the Rings marathon? It looked like this:

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I mean, is there any progress at all there? Can you tell? Spot the difference? I feel like I’ve entered a knitting time warp. I shall persevere though, because it’s working out to be one cool, wet summer and I really want this shawl!

What about you ? What patterns never seem to end but are totally worth it? What do you do to make knitting go faster? A stiff drink seems counter productive, and you can’t run on a treadmill and knit (I’ve tried, I put my yarn cake in the drink holder, huge mistake). Ideas?

Featherweight CustomFit Sweater

I’ve had a revelation about knitted sweaters, and it seems so obvious in retrospect that you’re gonna laugh. I have always had trouble knitting a sweater that actually fit me, and generally they’re too small. All of a sudden it came to me; I’ve been choosing my bra size (36) instead of my actual bust size (40). Obvious, right? But this one silly thing evaded me. Now, go on and laugh.

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Armed with my new knowledge, I’ve decided to take the plunge again. To make sure that I wouldn’t screw this up, I decided to give Amy Herzog’s CustomFit a try. I had Tito take my measurements to make sure they would be correct (his mom is a seamstress), plugged them into the system, swatched up some fabric using a skein of Tosh Lace that I’d had for a long time (colour way: Earl Grey), washed, measured, and chose the Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fettig.

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Amy has a different way of measuring gauge swatches that is supposed to be more accurate. I followed the directions as carefully as I could and cast on. I even decided to be brave enough to knit the seamed version.

My first thought was ‘there is no way this is the back of a sweater’.

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Rayna assured me that every knitters she knows who created a CustomFit sweater loved the results, to trust the pattern and keep going. Once I’d knit my way to the armholes, I stretched it out, and lo! The size was dead on. CustomFit rocks!

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I’ve finished the back (took no time at all, for anyone who wants to try but is intimidated by the idea of a lace weight cardigan) and have started the fronts. My only concern now is that when I stretched it out I noticed some extremely strange pooling at the bottom:

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See that diamond? Very weird. Looks like a coffee stain. I had to choose between frogging a lace weight sweater down to the hemline, vs living with the coffee stain. I put the question to my online knitter club (e.g. Instagram) and the overwhelming response was ‘it will be ok, onwards!’. So onwards I go, fingers crossed!

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