Happy Things :)

There have been lots of happy things in the past week!

I’ve spent lots of time drinking tea…

This calls for tea.

Making (and consuming) fall-feeling desserts, like this Cardamom Gingerbread…

Tastiest!

Staying inside while perfect, gray days unroll outdoors…

Rainiest!

And hanging out with my furry, occasionally cuddly cat!

Furriest!

 

There’s a lot of knitting going on, too – but most of it is secret, for now :)

Garter Stripe Blanket – Finished!!!

When I last posted about my spectrumey, garter stripe blanket project, it was nearly done – I had finished all the coloured stripes, and I had finished the natural cream wool garter border. Since then, I’ve added a gray i-cord edging, woven in all the ends, and taken a few ton of glamour shots!

First, some details about the i-cord edging. I’m kind of an i-cord fanatic. It’s so simple, but it look so professional and tidy! I certainly could have called the blanket “finished” after the natural garter borders, but I’m thrilled with how the i-cord edge looks.

I love the Purlbee’s attached i-cord tutorial, here. For this blanket, I used a 3 stitch i-cord edge. Whenever the item I’m adding i-cord to is round, I cast on provisionally (I like this crochet cast on), so that when I get back to where I started, I can undo the provisional cast on and graft the two ends together. Be careful – grafting top to bottom a little bit tricker than normal kitchener stitch. The best visualization I’ve seen is on a fellow Raveler’s project page: check it out here!

So! I worked the 3 stitch i-cord edging all around the blanket, skipping an edge stitch every inch and a half or so in order not to stretch out the garter stitch and keep everything nice and tidy. I used Briggs & Little Heritage yarn in medium gray, leftover from an Owls sweater I made a few years ago.

One or two other specs, in case you’d like to make something like this: I cast on as many stitches as would fit on my longest circular needle (174, it turns out). I knit 20 rows/10 ridges in garter stitch per colour, x 10 colours, for 20 coloured stripes. Then I picked up along the long edges of the blanket (200 stitches per side: 1 stitch in each garter ridge), and worked 20 rows/10 ridges in cream yarn. On the short edges, I worked the same 20 rows of garter in cream (I left the coloured stitches live, and picked up 10 stitches from each top edge of the cream borders from the long side). Finally, I added the i-cord.

Without further ado, behold! A TON OF PHOTOS!

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My cat, Miss New Zealand, *really* wants the blanket to be hers. Any time I lay it out, she climbs on and settles in immediately.

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Once I wrestled it away from her adorable napping self, I took the blanket outside for a little photoshoot! I definitely plan to enjoy more cups of tea on my balcony with the blanket.

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I think it works inside, too!

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Guess who popped over for blanket time?

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Lastly, a few shots of the wrong side of the fabric – for full disclosure!

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I think I’ve come a very long way from the very first blanket I ever knit, which I pulled out of the closet this week. I made this old blanket in stages, in 2003-2004. I knit big, garter stitch squares on straight needles, and then seamed them (very, very badly) together. The yarn is this crazy, neon, bouclé stuff that I really loved back then… (Lion Brand Bouclé Multi, to be precise.) I remember many pleasant evenings working on it, while living in university residence and watching Law & Order with my college friends.

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I’m glad I still have it, first because it’s serviceable and warm (and machine washable!), and because it’s nice to compare it to my most recent blanket project and think about how much I’ve grown as a knitter and a person in the ten years between these two big, soft pieces of knitted fabric.

I find blankets to be such satisfying projects, even if they can take a long time. I’ve already started another one, with a different pattern (and a different yarn weight)! More details about that another day :)

Have you seen The Shepherd and The Shearer?

It’s no secret that I’m a huge Juniper Moon Farm fan.

I’ve been very lucky to be a shareholder in the farm since 2010, and I’ve had the chance to use several of their commercial yarns as well. (The farm sells a limited number of shares in its yarn harvest – from sheep actually raised on the farm – and also runs a line of commercial yarns produced from wool and other fibers produced elsewhere).

JMF’s latest project is another knock-your-socks off amazing endeavour: The Shepherd and The Shearer. They announced the project almost a year ago, and I’ve been following avidly ever since. Susan (The Shepherd) describes the project in these two posts, and designers Kate Davies and Kirsten Kapur both explain their roles in blog posts of their own. (Go check out the posts for LOTS of gorgeous photos!)

The Shepherd and The Shearer kits are about to be shipped out! SO EXCITING! The patterns, and an e-book explaining the process from sheep to shorn wool to yarn to sweaters, are for sale on Juniper Moon’s website, along with a very small number of kits including the yarn– these will sell out, probably today.

I love both patterns, but the one I cannot live without is The Shepherd. I’m also an unabashed Cardigan-aholic, and cables are my favourite kind of knitted texture. Not to mention… the hood! The seed stitch! All the little details! I am definitely planning to make The Shepherd as soon as I can.

I’m definitely a fan of harder wearing, and even “scratchy” yarns, too. I guess I’m lucky to have a fairly high tolerance for prickle-factor. I’ve also owned a number of sweaters in my life that lasted for YEARS and years through tons of abuse, and they really do soften up over time. Soft yarns are great for some things, but I feel very strongly (like Susan & Emily) that there’s an important place for rougher wools, too.

So, which of the patterns is your favourite? Or, do you love them both equally? :)

What to knit next?

So friends – I’ve FINISHED the garter stripe blanket! It still needs to have a real (amateur) photoshoot before I transfer it fully to the “done” pile, but I’m already thinking about what to knit next.

There are projects in every garment category that are on my “would like to knit soon” list.

Sweater-wise, I have a sweater quantity of Juniper Moon Farm Herriot in blue. I’d love to have something drapey and swishy, to take advantage of the wonderful softness and sheen that comes with 100% BABY ALPACA omg. (It is suuuper lovely yarn!) I’ve been thinking of Jaina by Thayer Preece Parker – it has the drape, it has a cool collar, and it has some nice stockinette sections for when I need to relax.

Jaina

(Image from the Jaina Ravelry page)

I’m also thinking about a mitts and hat set for this winter. I realized last year that I don’t own a single knit hat – that’s crazy!  I’m also thinking of pieces that would just loosely co-ordinate,  not match exactly. I have one skein of special undyed bulky weight alpaca from a trip to Saltspring Island a few years ago, and I’m thinking I’ll make it into a Snowdrift hat, designed by Alex Tinsley. Obviously the colour of the sample on the Ravelry page appealed to me!

Snowdrift

(Image from the Snowdrift Ravelry page)

Mitten-wise, I’d like to make the Magic Mirror Mitts, by Krystel Nyberg. The pattern is available for free in Knotions magazine online! They have a really lovely cable motif that I think will “go” with Snowdrift without being an exact match , especially if I make them in a skein of (also special) undyed angora that I have, also from a trip to an island – Granville Island! So, picture these in natural white:

Magic Mirror

(Image from the Magic Mirror Ravelry page)

I’ve also been having a hankering for LACE! Two skeins of Juniper Moon Farm’s goooooorgeous Findley yarn in a perfect barfy green colourway recently came my way, and I’m leaning heavily towards knitting them up into Cold Mountain by Kieran Foley (a free pattern at Knitty!) There are also two slightly different FREE variations of the pattern, and I think I might make one of those. I really love the “Chevrons” version of the pattern!

Cold Mountain

(Image from the Cold Mountain Ravelry page)

There are other ideas boiling in my head, or maybe already on the needles (another blanket project!!!). I have some test knit commitments for the next couple of weeks too.

There is SO much knitting to be excited about! What are you dreaming of casting on soon?

Cat *nearly* on a knit!

I haven’t posted a cat-on-a-knit picture in a long time!

This one is a super old throwback to when my cat was a teeny little kitten. I made the shawl pictured, Multnomah by Kate Ray, in the summer of 2010 when my cat was only a few months old! That’s why she looks extra tiny. In the photos she can’t be more than 5 months… she’s three years old, now! Whoa.

And, I guess she’s only almost on the knit. How respectful of her! :)

Baby cat! Nearly on a shawl!

She was SO TINY!

Garter Stripe Blanket BORDER TIME!

Is there anything better than happy colours and squishy, cozy texture together? I’ve made some great progress on my stripey garter stitch blanket since my last update!

After I finished all the coloured stripes, I wanted to add a border of some kind both to make the blanket a bit larger, and to bring in some neutrals to balance out all the colour!

I knew I wanted to use some natural, undyed Juniper Moon 100% cormo wool yarn that I had, both because it’s gorgeous AND because it’s from my favourite farm! (As I was knitting, I even found one of my favourite yarn features ever – a tiny dot of surprise colour! I think of it as an easter egg every time I find one of these in a yarn :) )

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I considered several different border stitch options. I thought about working a garter border back and forth, in the style of the 10-stitch blanket. I considered doing a folded edge like in this Whit’s Knits blanket from the Purlbee. I also mulled over a couple of log-cabin style options: either true log cabin (like these washcloths, for example), or a sort of modified version, where I picked up and knit along both long sides first, and then along both short sides (see scribbly diagrams below!)

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Eventually, I decided to go with that last option – first, garter borders along both long edges, then along the two shorter edges.

I consulted a couple of “picking up stitches along a garter edge” resources, but ultimately my friend Amber came to the rescue with a photo tutorial of her technique. THANKS AMBER!  Once the stitches were picked up, the borders were just as easy and fun to knit as the coloured stripes.

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I really wanted to be able to work on the blanket border on the bus, but it gets a bit crowded (especially now that school is back in!) and the blanket is getting big. So, I’ve started taking a slightly earlier bus in the morning to make sure I’m on a double decker – extra seating room and definitely better for knitting!

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I’m so happy with how the blanket is coming along!

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I have one more step in mind. My very favourite edge treatment – i-cord of course!

I want to save the rest of the natural cormo for another project, so instead I’m going to work i-cord all around the edges in gray. I poked through my yarn closet and found that I had TWO different skeins of medium gray yarn!

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On the left is Briggs & Little Heritage (a Canadian yarn!), and on the right is Berroco Vintage Chunky. Both are leftovers from other projects! The Briggs & Little yarn is a rustic 100% wool, and the Berroco Vintage Chunky is a blend (50% acrylic, 40% wool, 10% nylon). Both yarns are a little bit heavier than the worsted yarns I used for the body of the blanket, but since they’re just for an edging treatment, I think they’ll still work. I like them both for different reasons, but I did make a decision!

I’m going to work my i-cord with the Briggs & Little 100% wool. Even though it’s not a particularly soft yarn, it’s hard-wearing and will last a long time. I’m also loving the idea of gray for the edges, because I think blanket edges can see more wear and tear and possibly staining. Instead of having white edges that might not hold up so well over time, this blanket will have a lovely gray outline to keep it looking great!

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Also I just love gray a lot :)

Molasses cookies!

I totally lived up to my last post – I baked molasses cookies yesterday! Even though it’s sunny and warm today, weather-wise, I still have fall feelings in my heart (and I guess in my stomach ;) ).

pre-cookies!

I tried out a new recipe, and it took a couple of trays to figure out just the right baking time – as you can see in the photo below, there were some uglies (at the top of the photo) before I figured it out.

cookie success and failure

Sparkly, spicy, molasses-ey :) Add a big glass of milk (or tea) – perfection!

delicious cookie success!

Food is one of my favourite things about fall :)

Feeling like fall

It’s starting to feel more and more like fall.

gray fall

Some of that might be wishful thinking on my part, since I really love fall, and I’m very ready for summer to be over. But, there are more crunchy leaves around, and more cool mornings. More oatmeal, more handknits being pulled out of the closet, more hankerings for cold weather foods like meatloaf and mashed potatoes and molasses cookies (all of which are on my menu plan this week!)

bright fall

 

I think I would feel really sad if I lived somewhere that didn’t have a distinct “fall” season.

Are you a fall person? Or is one of the other seasons the one that makes your heart go pitter pat?

WOOOO FALL FAIR! :D

I really, REALLY love fall fairs. This week, someone asked me what I was most looking forward to at the fair, and I just could not pick only one thing… there is SO MUCH to see and do and eat!

(Disclaimer: I should warn you, this post has about one million photos.)

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I also entered some knitting and spinning this year, which was super fun.

Here’s what I dropped off on Friday for judging:

A pile of fair entries

That pile has two sweaters, a large shawl, a pair of mittens, and some handspun yarn.

I’m not even going to pretend that I didn’t head straight for the handcrafts room once I got to the fair – I really wanted to see whether I had won any ribbons! To my excitement, I did :)

Winning plain sweater!

The yarn for the sweater above is neat because some of it has a Vancouver Island connection! The pink and green yarn in the yoke is from Eastwin Farms, and was hand-dyed by Leola of Leola’s Studio. The natural yarn is from Juniper Moon Farm!

Winning Hooray sweater!

The yarn for this green cabled sweater is pretty special too – the 2012 Juniper Moon CSA share yarn!

In the Hand Knitted Shawl category - "Special Mention"!

Winning mittens!

I will definitely aim to enter again next year. Everyone running the fair and staffing the handcrafts room was really sweet, and seemed to be enjoying the fair as much as I do!  The handcrafts section was full of amazing things, from displays with information about wool and knitting to masterpiece creations, like a fully hand knit cornucopia! The genius of the i-cord green onions blew me away completely.

Wool facts! I did know this stuff, actually.

Knitting display

Incredible knit cornucopia on display!

Next up, time for some fair food. I went for a classic: a hot dog with fried onions!

Hot dog - a must!

After that, we checked out the vegetable, fruit, and flower exhibits. I have a totally black thumb, so I was amazed at the gorgeous produce people grew! Everything from giant squash to tiny cucumbers to HUGE kale to beautiful dahlias.

Giant squash!

Giant Kale!

Tiny cucumbers!

Longest beans

Neat tomatoes!

Carnivorous plants

Dahlia!

There was also some incredible baking on display, like this multi-seed challah!

Challah with many seeds

A fair wouldn’t be a fair without tons of amazing animals, either. There were sheep, goats, birds, bunnies, and both alpacas AND llamas galore!

Sheep sign!

Whoa, sheep sign!

Sheep butts

Sheep deets

Goat buddies

Alpaca!!

Serious flowing mane action.

Oh hello pretty!

Llama butts

Winner of best hair feathers

Lovely duck

Sweet gray dove

Hello soft rabbit!

OMG BUNNIES

We even caught the end of some recreational agility dog races, which were so fun to watch. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such happy excited dogs and trainers!

Dog races!

We finished out the fair with another must: mini-donuts!

Mini-donuts are integral to the fair!

I can’t wait until next year :)

See you next year, fair :)