Saanich Fall Fair 2014!

Finally, the fall fair! We went last weekend, and I haven’t had time to share the news until now (because we also moved last weekend… busy times!) This post has kind of a ton of photos, so I hope you’re into that.

First, I won’t lie, I went to check out the Needlework Room, since that’s where my entries were! (In case you missed it, the post about what I entered is here.) Out of four entries, two won blue ribbons! SO EXCITED! Both the cabled mittens and the Shepherd Hoodie won in their categories :) The other two things just got to be part of the fair, which is also pretty excellent as far as I’m concerned. The Shepherd Hoodie also won the Victoria Knitters’ Guild award for best Fancy Knitted Sweater! So cool. I love fairs. (And if I’m honest I really like winning stuff too.)

Winning Mittens! (The white ones)

Winning sweater! (The white one, again)

My garter spectrum blanket!

Other awesome stuff we saw in the Needlework room: an incredibly cool knitted salmon, a crazy intricate knitted gingerbread house…

Coolest knitted SALMON!

Incredibly intricate knitted gingerbread

The whole room was full of amazing things, which of course I failed to photograph. Oops! I did snap lots of other cool fair stuff though. Vegetable dude!

Incredible vegetable dude

Tiny adorable plants!

Tiny tiny plants

Apples make me feel like fall is right there. Right?

APPLES GALORE!

Beautiful and leafy!

Thanks for the instructions 4-H!

How to Ice a Cake. Thanks 4H!

I ate these. Also mini-donuts which I failed to photograph :)

Hot dog. Onion Rings. Yes.

MOHAIR GOATS!

Regular goats and mohair goats!

ALPACA PARTY! I got to pet one. What.

ALPACA PARTY! I got to pet one.

Sheep haircut time! Just a trim.

Sheep in the beauty chair

Brad: “Do you know why some of them wear coats?” Me: “YES! It keeps their wool cleaner and prevents it from being discoloured by the sun. KNOWLEDGE!”

Sheep in coats

Sheep buddies :) Their faces are basically the cutest.

HI SHEEP FRIEND!

Cows

Sunflowers

Fluffy bunny

Prize winning eggs! This colour is bananas.

Prize winning eggs

Bye fair! I’m already excited and planning for what I’d like to enter next year.

Bye fair!

Is there a local fall or agricultural fair near you? I heartily recommend them :)

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Inch by Inch, Row by Row…

… I’m going to make this blanket grow :)

I’m still taking things very carefully, knitting-wise. I think I’ve finally reconciled myself to the need to check in with a medical person about my frequently resurgent RSI/muscle-achy-terribleness (technical term ;) ), because even though I’m trying to minimize my keyboard time and other repetitive activities, I can still feel the twingey pain coming on pretty quickly.

Despite all of that, a row or two each day is happening! Just so that my hands don’t forget knitting altogether, and because it’s good for my mental health.

Row by row

I’m inching along on the medium green stripe, and still LOVING how this blanket looks.

Row by row

It also FEELS pretty wonderful. Squishy and drapey at the same time, just enough warmth but not too much.

Row by row

I can definitely see more of these blankets in my future! A perfect relaxing project for an evening at home, with the bonuses of fun opportunities to play with colour and (obviously) an amazing blanket at the end :) Even though a wool blanket seems pretty seasonally inappropriate, I’m glad this is what’s on my needles.

Row by row

What are you knitting these days? I’d love to hear about it!

Something finished, something new.

Something finished!

I finished both of the Magic Mirror mittens, made from 100% angora yarn that I picked up at Maiwa on Granville Island a couple of years ago. I gave them a quick wash and then let them air dry, to help even out the cables.

Here's to warm hands!

They’re lovely and soft and if it’s still cold here this winter I will wear them! Pretty and girly and not very practical :)

Something new!

Because my other in-progress projects are either a. long term (the Six’es blanket – I now have 66/189 hexagons complete), b. SO CLOSE to being finished I can taste it (the Shepherd hoodie!), or c. lace that means I need to pay attention (I haven’t shown you the lace yet!), I started something new.

Because I have a slim budget at the moment, and because I have plenty of very nice yarn already, I’ve been choosing new projects the last few months by searching through my yarn closet until I feel excited. (Okay there’s other stuff in the closet besides yarn… I just mostly care about the yarn.) Sometimes it’s texture that grabs me, or wanting a particular finished garment, but usually it’s colour.

When I opened the closet, I saw this gorgeous yellow mohair I’ve had for a while (also acquired on Granville Island, but at a different store!) I still haven’t really decided on the perfect pattern for it, despite thorough Ravel-diving.

Sunny mohair

I also noticed these yarns together:

Happy colours

SO PRETTY! I imagined a tubular cowl with narrow stripes in all of these colours and got REALLY excited. On closer examination, I remembered that the white and yellow are heavier weight than the other colours (they’re sport weight, and the rest is sock weight); swatching confirmed that they will not all play nicely together after all.

The white and yellow, however, are both the exact same yarn, and it was the happy sunny yellow that most caught my imagination. This yarn is squishy and bouncy, an 80% merino, 20% bamboo blend with lots of energy and twist.

Stripe time

So, instead of the rainbowey stripey concoction I imagined, I cast on a tubular, striped, chevron cowl in white and yellow. I’m adapting from this pattern.

Chevron stripes!

The dark blue is a provisional cast on – I’ll unravel it, at the end, so that I can graft the two live ends together and make everything seamless and fancy!

Chevron stripes!

It’s good to have this project on the needles. Easily memorized pattern, good for working on while watching tv or listening to vlogs & podcasts, shortish rows, bright happy colours. What are you working on?

Knitting to stay okay.

Sometimes, when people see me knitting in public, or when they hear that I’m a knitter, they’ll respond with some version of “Wow, I wish I had the time/patience/attention span/ability to knit!” I totally understand that reaction – that’s more or less what I say to my friend who gardens prolifically, or the one who goes the gym all the time because she genuinely enjoys it. Sometimes I just nod and smile, and sometimes I tell people that actually, I knit because I need to.

Truthfully, I knit for a LOT of reasons.

I love the creativity it involves (even when I’m knitting from patterns, which I usually am). I love the colours and textures. I love that it produces warm, comfortable, occasionally-stylish and occasionally-frumpy garments and accessories and things – it takes my time and converts it into a tangible object I can hold and wear and sometimes give away to a person I like. I love that it connects me with a less technological time (even though technology is pretty critical to my knitting life… *COUGH RAVELRY COUGH.* I love that there are constantly new challenges, new skills to learn, new techniques to master, new ways to expand my knitting repertoire.

But one of the major reasons I knit is that it makes me feel more… okay.

I’m a fairly, ahem, “highly strung” person, to put it delicately. I get nervous easily, I worry apocalyptically all the time (even about things that don’t really deserve to be worried about), and I fidget constantly. Knitting lets me channel some of that anxious energy into an activity that is both productive and placating. Most of the time, I can actually feel my body relaxing and my breathing becoming more regular when I pick up my needles. (The other knitters reading this are yelling EXCEPT WHEN YOU DROP A STITCH RIGHT?! – yes, that has the opposite effect! ;) )

Knitting helps keep my mind busy, and it makes me a happier, calmer, more functional person. The last few months have included a bunch of personal challenges, from health stuff to job and academic stresses to being apart from my best friend, which is extremely, constantly, wrenching. As a result, I’ve found myself reaching for my knitting even more than normal. I’m really, really glad that knitting is part of my life, because I don’t think I would be okay without it.

Mitten fit.

So, here’s the thing. I’m an experienced and pretty confident knitter. I adjust patterns all the time to create garments that will fit me the way I want them to – shorter sleeves, adequate busts, buttons where I want them, all kinds of modifications.

Even though I can and usually do take my actual body’s measurements into account when I’m knitting, until now, I’ve only ever knit mittens that are too big for me.

I really have no explanation for this. I tried them on as I went. I could see that probably they would be “a little bit long”. But I still finished them.

Exhibit A: a basic mitten recipe, and handspun that I got at one of Victoria’s yarn stores.

Long

The cuff is WAY too long. The wrist-to-fingertip portion isn’t too bad, but the too-long-cuff means it never sits quite right. Also notice the lobster claw thumb, which is weird and wrong but I love it.

Exhibit 2: Beautiful cabled mittens out of Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter yarn, which is unique and gorgeous.

SO long

WHO HAS ARMS LIKE THIS?! (Just to be clear – the birth mark on the left of the photo is about 1″ away from the inside of my elbow. Is there a name for “inside elbow part”? Inbow? Brb googling… “Antecubital Fossa”.) Pattern, you crazy. Sarah, you also crazy for not realizing you made a mitten sleeve, and then MAKING ANOTHER ONE. So beautiful, so too long for me.

Exhibit III: Okay fine, these pretty much fit. But the button loop at the end makes them a little bit impractical… or at least a little bit quirky. (The pattern is by the super talented Ysolda Teague.)

Also kind of long

Finally, enter New Favourite Mittens That Fit And Also Have Nostalgic Childhood Resonance!

Just right :)

Following another Raveller’s modifications, I eliminated several sections of the (very nice, and very free) pattern, in order to shorten the cuff, the palm, and the thumb, substantially. And behold! A my-hand-sized mitten! It’s made out of 100% angora, which is BANANAS soft.

Mitten party!

When I was a kid, I had a pair of plain white angora mittens and a matching hat that were super super soft, and only for special occasions, and I treasured them. They weren’t handknit, or cabled, but they were soft and pretty and made appearances on the kind of days when my sister and I had to wear matching dresses my mom had sewed with crinolines and too tight sleeve elastic. I’m pretty stoked about the new, adult version, that I can wear anytime I want :)

Pretty mitten!

Shepherd Sweater: On to the SLEEVES!

The Shepherd Hoodie is really starting to look like an actual garment! SO exciting :)

First, I finished the upper back portion of the sweater body.

Body!

Upper back

Then, I joined the shoulders using the 3 needle bind off, which is a really cool technique. I think it creates a very tidy and pleasing finished look!

Shoulder Seam - 3 needle bind off

Here’s a wrong side view of the shoulder seam:

Shoulder Seam - Wrong Side

And here’s how it looks on the right side!

Shoulder Seam - Right Side

Next up: sleeves! The sleeves are worked in the round, from the shoulder to the wrist, and include a wedge of seed stitch in the armpit that gets decreased away as you work sleeve shaping. I’m working the sleeves using a long circular needle and the magic loop method. It’s my favourite for small circumference knitting! I don’t mind dpns for lighter weight yarns, like sock yarn, but for heavier weights, I prefer magic loop. (What do you use? I’d love to know!)

Shoulder Seam & start of sleeve!

Starting sleeve cables!

Sleeve!

My execution of the decreases in the seed stitch wedge is not as great as it could be; or, more accurately, my integration of the decreases into the rest of the seed stitch is not as invisible as I would have liked. HOWEVER, since it’s in the armpit (and who looks at armpits?!), I’m not going to rip it out.

Bottom of sleeve seed stitch wedge

In order to make sure the sleeves are a good size for me, both in terms of diameter and in terms of length, I’m trying the sweater on as I go. This is one of the great advantages of this type of sweater construction! I do want the sleeves to have some positive ease, so that I can wear other garments underneath, so I might not end up decreasing as much as the pattern suggests.

I feel like I’m getting so close to wearable sweater even though there’s a fair bit left – a sleeve and a half, the hood, and finishing work still to do! How’s your knitting going?

Shepherd Taking Shape!

Since my last Shepherd sweater update, I’ve made some exciting progress!

I finished up the right front, which was shaped with a combination of binding off stitches and decreasing at the neck edge.

Close up of front shaping

Right Front

Then I worked on the left front, shaped in the same way.

Left Front

Doesn’t it look pleasingly symmetrical? I’m starting to see “sweater” when I look at it instead of just “rectangular block of cables”!

Body without top back!

Now I’ve moved on to the center back portion of the body. It’s wider than the front pieces were, so it’s a bit slower going, but no shaping to keep track of! I’m looking forward to finishing this bit, because then I get to join the shoulders and start SLEEVES!

Even for such a large and labour-intensive project, knitting this sweater isn’t at all a slog. There’s constant evidence of progress to keep me feeling motivated and excited! I only wish it was small enough to carry with me on the bus ;)

Hmmm…

Later today, I’m having dental surgery. (Wisdom teeth!)

“No task requiring skill, co-ordination, or judgement should be attempted for at least 24 hours following surgery…”

Does that rule out knitting?!!!

Maybe I’ll just hold a ball of yarn.

One Track Needles

Last weekend I took a short break from all the natural undyed-ness and cabley-cabledness of my Shepherd sweater to knit… a natural cream cabled hat. I like what I like! ;)

There had been a cold day that week, and I realized that I don’t own a single hat of my own! What?! That seemed completely ridiculous to me.

So, I knit Alex Tinsley’s Snowdrift pattern with half a skein of a singles, bulky weight alpaca wool blend from the Alpacas at Southey Point Farm, Salt Spring Island, which I bought on a fun trip over in the Gulf Islands a few summers ago. The yarn came from Stitches Fiber Arts on Salt Spring!

Pre-hat hat

It was a super quick knit, and I really love the way the crown decreases are worked into the cables.

Half hat!

But, it’s also winter… and it was way too dark to take photos when I got home after work every day this week! So, I have this one sad photo, snapped hastily in the morning before I ran to the bus.

Hastily snapped hat

The hat is cozy and cabley, but it might also be a teeny bit small for my (apparently big) head. I haven’t decided yet whether this is a for-me keeper or a gift for someone with a smaller head, but either way, a really fun knit!

One hexagon, two hexagon, red hexagon, blue hexagon…

You know what makes waiting for things completely and totally welcome? Knitting.

Every row counts!

I’ve been carrying just enough yarn in my purse to work on hexagons for my Six’es blanket, which means that every little scrap of time I have to wait for something, I can pull out my instant patience needles. Knitting makes bus travel totally pleasant! It makes waiting for appointments no problem at all! It makes a long lineup no sweat :)

Sunny hexagon afternoon

The leftover yarns in my stash are being used up fairly quickly, so I’ve started to use new stash skeins that I just don’t have a project in mind for, too. This lovely bright blue is Knitpicks Stroll Tonal.

Knitpicks Stroll Tonal in Blue Yonder

Even though it’s still quite a long way away, I’m already feeling pretty excited about how the blanket will look when it’s finished!

Hexagons galore!

Do you carry knitting with you all the time? Or just when you know you’ll have the chance to squeeze in some stitches?