Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Knit everything twice - Mix and Match Sweater

This summer, Mina Phillip (@knittingexpat) asked if I would be interested in test knitting a baby sweater she had designed. I've test knit for her before, and she knows I have little ones, so I am pretty sure that's why I got the ask.

The pattern was released last month, the lovely Mix and Match Sweater.

I of course, being a mmother of twins, knit it twice.

The pattern is titled Mix and Match, because Mina provides options for plain stockinette or textured sweaters, short or long sleeves, and with or without short row shaping around the neck and hem. The brown one I knit first, with short in both places, but didn't love them in the back of the neck, so I only did the short row shaping on the hem for the green one.

I knit mine from some Lion Brand Yarn Hearland in Kings Canyon (green) and Sequoia (Brown) click those links for the project pages. I thought acryclic would make for easy to wash sweaters, and to be fair, I didn't want to invest in more expensive yarn for a test knit. I used about a skein and a half of each and picked them up on sale at Micheals.

This past weekend I dressed the boys up all cute and took the out to play in the yard and try to grab some cute photos showing off their little sweaters. Some turned out great.

Others not so much. That's Dom at the wheel, making that face becaus his brother is trying to fit in the car behind him.

They do play together nice sometimes tho.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Boreal Forest Cowl and Hat

When I hear the term Boreal Forest, I think of Northern Ontario, where I grew up, and driving along highway 17 from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay. It's very nostalgic for me, and moreso now that I've been living in the Alberta Praries for the past 8 years.

Last year when I saw the first pattern released in Curious Handmade Presents Knitvent 2016 (Helen Stewart) was a colourwork cowl called Boreal Forest, I knew I wanted to knit it ASAP.

It was just so pretty, plus I love stranded knitting, something about it makes projects fly off the needles.

Problem, I didn't have any pretty worsted weight yarn in my stash in the colours I wanted for this project.

Solution, I did have a couple skeins of bare Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Superwash Worsted in my bin of undyed yarns, and a fearless aditude towards dyeing yarn with food colouring.

You can watch me dye this yarn in this video here (click the link to watch on YouTube).

And the yarn turned out beautifully!

I knit up the cowl straight away last winter.

Here's a shot of my floats, so lovely and even, you can kind of see the trees through them.

And had enough yarn leftover to knit the matching hat this fall.

I did modify the hat a little to lengthen it (notes on my project page describe the simple changes), but other than that, I have a beautiful set ready to be gifted this Christmas.

Oh yeah, have I mentioned that it's only 71 days until Christmas? it seems like a lot (I mean it's not even Halloween Yet) until you consided how long my list of gift knitting is, and also that I have to finish writing my thesis by then (thesis update, 100 pages!!)

How far in advance do you start your holiday knitting, and do you still manage not to get everything done in time like me?

Saturday, September 23, 2017

More than just a sweater, a story of stress bought yarn and tube feeds.

September has been one hell of a month for my little family, and this is only our second one together.

Last September, after taking the boys home to meet all of their family and friends in Ontario, a trip during which Kevin surprised the pants off of me by popping the question.

Isn't he handsome? Anyways, that trip, as wonderful as it was, was shadowed by the fears that had been building all summer, Alex and Dom just didn't seem to want to eat enough to grow. In fact at this point, they hadn't gained any weight at all in over a month, and Kevin and I were bottle feeding them one ounce at a time around the clock.

So we returned to Alberta, with an appointment set up with a new pediatrician in Calgary, and a week later we were admitted to hospital.

I won't go into all of the details of that admission here, it's a story that I have in me and need to write out in full one day, but I will share again the video I made shortly there after.

Long story short, we went into hospital with little boys who wouldn't eat enough to grow, and came home with little boys with feeding tubes. And while feeding tubes are all kinds of no fun, they allowed our boys to get suficient nutrition to grow and develop, and be happy, and play, and sleep.

Here they are last winter in adorable matching cardigans (rav links Blue and Green), with NG tubes. Later you may have noticed their NG tube disapear from photos, but only because they had surgeries in January to replace them with G tube directly into their little tummies.

In that video I talk about stress buying yarn. Some people are emotional eaters (and I can be as well) but when faced with my boys who clearly did not enjoy eating, and had to be tube fed, you can understand why I might not have had an appetite for stress eating. So stress buying yarn it was.

We were in hospital last September for a little over a week (and by in hospital I mean all four of us living in one room) so during a brief window of mommy time I headed to my happy place. Stash Needle Art Lounge, one of Calgary's amazing LYSs. And I stress bought yarn, specifically, my first fingering weight sweater quantity.

Three skeins of Ancient Arts yarn, 75% merino, 25% silk, fingering weight yarn in the Roaring Twenties colour way. I didn't really even know what sweter it would be, but it was beautiful, it was new and it made me happy, independent of everything else that was going on.

For a long time that yarn hung on my wall in my office, waiting. Waiting for the right project. Waiting for our lives to settle down enough that casting on a fingering weight sweter would be a reasonable thing to do. Waiting for the boys to stop throwing up all the time, and to start having some small interest in food.

By this spring the time was right. Alex and Dom were growing, having clawed their way back up onto an actual growth curve (yeah 3rd percentile!!), they were meeting developental milestones, sitting and crawling and pulling themselves up to stand along furniture. We had settled into our version of normal, where I tube fed them, what seemed like all day long, while they happily played. And amazingly, they began to want to eat the tiniest bites of food. Small sips of formula, milk or water, here and there. To let me spoon a mouthful or two of baby cereal into their mouths, to suck some fruit puree out of a squeeze pouch. Not enough to sustain themselves or replace the tube feeds, but enough to show mommy and daddy that they knew how to eat.

So I cas on a sweater.

Choosing Joji Locatelli's Granito.

Over the summer I kit it intermediately. It's a whole lot of borring stockinette. A whole lot of grey. But as I worked on it, we began to have something to look forward to. Maybe and end to the long string of days of tube feeding. We had a referal to a pediatrician who would do the hunger wean to transition our boys off their tubes. It was time for me to speed up and finish this sweater, to stop knitting on the yarn that I bought to sooth some of the hurt of not being able to feed my little boys the way every mom wants to.

Progress moved along, a pop of colour (Hedgehog Fibres sock in Jelly) tucked away inside the pockets added some much needed inerest, and by the end of August I was zooming through the sleeves.

September rolled back around. I had finished the knitting but had pockets to seem and one heck of a lot of ends to weave in. Kevin had finished his Family Medicine Resisdency. We had finally moved back home after a year of moving around southern Alberta. And Alex and Dom, walking, climbing and getting into all sorts of trouble. Going through their days with increadible interest in food, eager to taste anything mom and dad were eating. But boy did they still get pissed if you expected them to have more than one bite.

And I stalled. Something about finishing things is hard for me. All those ends, and those pesky seams, they just weren't as interesting as casting on new projects. Until we saw the new doctor, and he told us for sure the boys were ready, it was time to put an end to the tube feeds.

Suddenly we found ourselves back in hospital, in September, in the same little room that felt so horrible last year.

This time however, the room wasn't full of fear and unknowns. This time it was full of hope and progress and success. We gave Alex and Dom their last tube feed on Thursday September 14th at bedtime, and by 4 am Sunday Morning I knew everything was going to be all right.

After I tucked Alex back into his bed, having fed him formula from a sippy cup until he fell back to sleep in my arms, I knew that was it, it clicked, he was a person who ate when he was hungry, and who did so happily (Dom turned this corner earlier the previous day, and by dinner looked like a pro in his high chair).

It might be crazy messy, but these are two little boys who love to eat.

We've been back at home now since Monday night, and over a week since we tube fed them anythig. Sure they are a little bit leaner than they were a week ago, but they are eating and playing and sleeping and exploring and learning and laughing.

So I wove in all those ends last night, and seamed up those pockets, and put an end to this chapter.

It's a great little sweater, but now instead of being the yarn that remided me of the tears shed over a year of tube feeding, its a cozy sweater to remind me of that moment a 4am, with Alex, when some part of me that never quite felt like a real mom, finaly felt right.

If only that was the only sweaters worth of 'stress yarn' in my stash. I guess I better get a move on this lovely pile of goodness, ordered from the waiting room while the boys were in surgery for their G-Tubes, because with any luck, those useless little tubes will be coming out sooner rather than later. (yarn is My Old Black Powder, on SW Merino Worsted, by Prarie Dye Studio)

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Tale of Two Yarns

You ever order a skein of yarn because you saw it on Instagram and knew you just needed it. And when it arrives in the mail you think it is beautiful and unique and amazing. So you hang it on your inspiration peg board and it lives there for months waiting for the right pattern/project. And it stays there until one day, when you have to pack the whole thing up, so into the stash bin it goes, but what, inside that bin there is a skein almost exactly like it!

Now I don't quite remember which of these two skeins came home with me first, but I do know that that very story happened to me back in March when we packed up shop to move down to Crows Nest Pass, and I didn't want moths to eat my yarn in my absense.

But here are the two skeins, both by Alberta indie dyers, both purchased sometime in 2016. Don't believe me on  just how similar they look?

Sure one hase more pink and the other is a pinky tan, but come on!

The Vivid Yarn, which is on the right is Hello Fox, and the Yarn Ink, on the left, is Calypso.

And there was just no way I'd be knitting these two separately, it'd be like knitting dejavu.

Luckily for me, I have a project in mind for the Joji Fall KAL that needs two skeins of fingering weight yarn. Oh, and did I mention they appear to be on the same base as well, both are 463 yards/100g, 75% Merino, 25% nylon, 4-ply sock yarns.

Here it is all caked up, and I know, you can tell the difference. The one on the right (Now the Yarn Ink, you think I would have kept things consistent for 3 photos, but nope, flippy floppy I go.) clearly has more brown and pink, but when I knit them up into a swatch...

You'd never guess I was alternating strands of two differnt yarns, by two differnt dyers. Plus, I think alternated them (two rows of each) really minimizes the pooling.

As for the project, this will of course become a Little Boxy, but I won't be casting on until I finish one or two other WIPs.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Joji Fall Knit Along Plans

Did you know that Joji Locatelli runs an annual fall knit along for any and all of her patterns?

Neither did I.

Well I didn't until a couple weeks ago Instagram let me know about it. (Oh the enabling power of Instagram, what a beautiful and terrible beast you are.)

So anyways, I've knit a couple of Joji's patterns before.

And have about a dozen or so more on my wish list.

So this KAL is a perfect way to encourage me to knit some of them (plus it didn't hurt that she also had all of her patterns on sale for it too).

Anyways, you had to lock in your project choices in advance of the September 1st cast on date. Joji had a form to fill in in her Ravelry group.

The projects that I have chosen to knit are:

The Starting Point wrap (which was a mystery knit along this year) and which I will knit out of

Fleece Artist Merino Slim (the bottom most skein has been swapped out for a pinker, more tonal one) that I picked up at Olds Fibre Week when I wasn't supposed to be buying fingering weight yarn.

The BA Cool hat.

Which I will knit from Estelle Alpaca Merino Chunky.

And the Little Boxy.

Which I will show you the yarn for in the next post. Cause I'm excited.

Are you knitting along? What Joji Patterns have you knit/are on your wish list?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Planning and Evolving a Homespun Marled Magic WestKnit

Stephen West is a knitting god.

Ok, that goes without saying. And over the past few years, I've knit a few of them. And dream knit a few more.

That Exploration Station on the right is one I am particularly proud of. I hand spun that bad boy. And sure I dyed the yarn in shades that more resemble hubba bubba bubble gum than anything else, but I still love it in all it's squishy goodness.

That's why when Stephen announced his spring mystery knit along, I knew I wanted to spin for this project. (Plus I had literally just finished my Building Blocks shawl, and I didn't have the time or stamina to keep up with a mystery knit. Planning to spin for it gave me a good excuse to wait until after).

When I found out it was going to be a marled project, I had a good idea of what I wanted to do.

The concept was clear, I would spin singles, hold them double while I knit and let them do the colour changing magic for me! And right away I had an idea of what kind of fibre I wanted to spin.

These are Odd Balls, by Stitch Together Studio.

Although when I bought two bags of them, they were called scatter bits. And they are fabulous little 1-2g balls of merino pencil roving in hand dyed goodness.

I dyed up some merino roving that I had in my stash in a solid black and thought I would be set..... more or less.

And rather than spin them randomly, I separated them out according to colour. You can see more of my thought process for this project in this Tour de Fleece video.

But when I was at Olds Fibre Week, I got it in my head I would need at least one more braid to combine into this project. And picked up one by Flock Fibre Studios in their Princess Tiger Cub colourway.

Here it is marled with the black on the first section of the shawl. It was at this point I decided I needed more. Luckily I was headed into the Stash reopening this past weekend, and while I was there I found the perfect Tin Roof Fibre Studio braid, and settled on my final palette.

While I spun up all of my minis, I decided to only work with the Purple through Yellow section of the colour wheel they made up.

And yesterday, as soon as all my minis were weighed and measured, I dove into section 2 of the shawl.

Sooo pink and fantastical! Tomorrow I'll share the maths I'm using to marl this section and maximally utilize my minis. This is the Yarn Lab after all, and how could I resist some knitting maths?

Oh and as for the rest of the minis from this colour wheel? I have an idea for them already!

Colour pops in a Squiggle Wiggle What?! but that's a homespun westknit project for a future date!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A FO, from start to finish: the Girl from the Grocery Store Shawl

I watch a lot of knitting podcasts on YouTube. So this year when the Grocery Girls teamed up with Joji Locatelli and the Girl from the Grocery Store shawl was born, I drank the kool aid and planned to knit one.

Now I have a lot of shawls for myself, so I also thought maybe I better cast this one on for someone else. I won't say who, only that they will be getting it for Christmas this year (and yes it is never too early to start on Christmas knitting).

I also wanted to dye the yarn for it myself.

I dyed up three skeins of yarn on Knit Picks Gloss Fingering (a beautiful 70% Merino, 30% silk yarn) and took them to Instagram for opinions on which to pick. The gold and the wine colour won out the day.

Alex and Dom agreed. Oh and notice how little they are in this pick, heck they still had their NG tubes when I cast this shawl on back in January!

This was a long term WIP, I knit most of it in the car, since it is a predominantly garter stitch shawl, with a consistent pattern, it makes for perfect car knitting.

But this month, I knew the end was in sight and that I'd better just get on with it. So I knit monogamously for two days and finished it off.

Dom even offered to model it for me, how can anyone resist those lips?

So here's my finished Girl from the Grocery Store shawl.

Not my favourite knit (all the garter gets boring once the rows get longer), and maybe not my personal style, but a beautiful FO. And I know the recipient will love it!