Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Excursion Around the Bay

I have an aunt (and several other relatives) visiting at the moment. She's a brand-new knitter, and mom and I are so proud of how she's caught the knitting bug. She's lost her taste for acrylic novelty yarns, and is hardly seen to be sitting still without whipping out her project. Since Fredericton lacks a good yarn store, as does the city she's coming from, the three of us decided to take a road trip to Black's Harbor, NB, home to Cricket Cove yarn store.

I had only heard of this store before, but didn't imagine it to be as incredible as it was. Black's Harbor is a tiny community (pop. 950), where you'll find the Brunswick Sardine packing plant, the ferry crossing to Grand Manan Island and surprisingly, a store full of high-end, hard to find, and unique yarn. While the internet makes it possible to get your hands on just about anything, there is nothing like spending a few hours in a good yarn shop petting all of the yarns you hear about and read about in knitting books and magazines.
Mmm... tweedy wool. Top: Cricket Cove wool, Bottom: Briggs and Little Heritage

My aunt had a true knitter moment when, for the first time, she spotted a pattern from a book knit up in the wild. It had been a while (maybe a year and a half?) since I had purchased yarn, and I came away with some heavy fingering weight tweed wool (it had no label, so I'm assuming it's their own line of yarn) destined to become Selbu Modern, as well as some Arequipa sock yarn.

We were going to drive to St. Andrew's as well, but the pea soup fog convinced us to head home. On the drive back we randomly decided to stop at the Briggs and Little outlet/mill, in Harvey (yet another small town with a big yarn). The mill only runs during the winter, but the shop was full of dirt-cheap Briggs and Little. I picked some up to make a pair of thrummed mittens for a friend. I love this wool... it's tweedy, rustic, and smells like lanolin.
Traditional Thrummed Mitts at Briggs and Little

I asked the lady working there where the sheep were that supplied the mill with fleece. She told me that they need about 26,000 sheep to meet their demand. This all happens through the Canada Wool Grower's Association, so the sheep are scattered all across Canada. Briggs and Little happens to be the biggest buyer from them.
Briggs and Little Outlet Store, York Mills, NB

The car ride gave me time enough to finish off Nanny's Lorna's Laces socks. I really wanted to get these done, because I find the colors quite garish. This pair used exactly one skein, so much for getting it out of my stash! She will love them, however, so they're off to the gift pile until Christmas.

Anklets for Nanny, Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock

Thursday, July 23, 2009


I've got quilts on the brain. Let me preface this by saying that I am in no way a sewer! The extent of my past sewing experience pretty much involves making my own hair scrunchies back in the seventh grade (hey, it was the nineties, they were still cool!). I'm always impressed and awed when I see beautiful handmade quilts posted on other people's blogs (check out these adorable potholders!), and wish that I had the same talent.

So, since there is an overabundance of rainy days and I've got the free time right now, I decided to work on a few projects.

Back in high school I made a t-shirt quilt as a semester project. Essentially, it was a solution to the problem of having many many oversize t-shirts hanging around, that I never wore but couldn't get rid of because they came from an event or had sentimental value of some sort. I wanted the quilt to take with me when I started university, and it sat happily on my dorm room bed for four years.

A few years ago I decided to make a second one, and got as far as piecing the front panel together. Admittedly, I did a sloppy job of the whole thing, mostly because I bought the wrong type of interfacing, and didn't have a rotary cutter or good way of cutting the pieces evenly. It's been sitting in my closet for three years now, waiting to be finished... mostly because I wanted to track down the rotary cutter and mat that I had borrowed in order to cut the strips for the binding. I gave in and went to Fabricville today, and bought a cheap mat/cutter set (hopefully it works and I won't regret skimping!), so I no longer have an excuse not to finish this!

The store was also having a very good sale on some of their fabrics, so I picked up some material to make a few knitting needle holders. I made one for myself and one for my mom several years ago, and was quite pleased with the way they turned out. The lady at the store commented that I must like muted tones, and that the fabrics reminded her of Little House on the Prairie. It's true, no matter how hard I try to like the bold, fun fabrics, I'm always drawn to the more earthy and natural tones (case in point - the last four things I've knit have been green).


We shall see how this goes, this time around I vow to read up on proper techniques instead of just trying to do things right off the bat!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Picking up the Slack

It finally feels like summer! Today was hot and sunny, and since I'm done work I had the luxury of sitting out on the deck to knit for the afternoon. For the last two weeks, work had pretty much drained me of any motivation to do anything at the end of the day other than sleep and study, so knitting took a bit of a back seat. However, having just spent the weekend at a wedding and family reunion in Maine, I had the time to finish up one of Nanny's socks.

This yarn (Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock) has been sitting in my stash since early 2006. I had meant to use it to make the Dublin Bay socks, but the pooling had been so bad that I frogged them not far into the project. I was weary of pooling this time around, but it hasn't been too bad other than around the gusset. The yarn does have a smooth drapey feel to it, however!

There are so many lace shawls that I would love to be knitting right now... so many that I couldn't make up my mind as to what to start. I had been planning on knitting the Waves of Grain scarf as a gift for someone, so I decided to get that out of the way. I had some Plymouth Baby Alpaca Lace on hand, in a color that reminded me of the intended recipient.

I think I need to invest in one of those magnetic chart holders! While the lace pattern itself isn't difficult, the whole process of threading tiny seed beeds onto the stitch with 32-gague wire slows the knitting down considerably. I don't mind for the moment, as I'm enchanted with the whole process and love the subtle way it looks!
I have a sneaking suspicion that this will become a tedious project when I reach the middle section, so while I'd like to have it done by the fall I'm not going to pressure myself to work on it!

I've finished up another project, which you can see over here (Ravelers only, it's a gift!). I'm quite happy with the way it turned out, so it's off to the closet until Christmas time!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Green Sleeves

It's Saturday, and despite the fact that it's now July the sun has yet to come out, and it's cold enough to curl up with tea, wool socks, and a sweater. While I'm frustrated with the endless rain, it is a good excuse to hunker down to read and knit. I feel particularly bad for the farmers around here who are having a hard time with their crops because of it. Sun - please show your face!!!

Enough about the stopped raining long enough for me to finally snap a few outdoor photos of my finished Gathered Pullover. For the last few weeks I had been feeling a serious lack of knitting motivation; the endless stockinette of the pullover's sleeves was boring me to tears, and I couldn't figure out what project to start next. Now it's done, and I love it!

Gathered Pullover by Hana Jason, Interweave Knits Winter 2007

A while back Whitney posted about the sweaters she's knit (I love her taste in sweaters), and which ones she wound up wearing. What she said rang true with me- the sweaters I'm apt to wear will probably be the simplest ones, which I also don't like to knit as much. Finally I've managed to knit a sweater that I think I'll wear often, which I can't say for the other four knit tops that sit in my closet and never see the light of day.

Mmm, cozy long sleeves

I love the simplicity of this pattern, and the ease with which it can be modified. Being a longish gal, I added quite a bit of length in the body and arms. A sweater that's too short is irksome, and I enjoy having sleeves long enough to tuck my hands into when it's cold and I'm hibernating in the library basement. I also left out the bust increases and decreases, and widened the shoulders a bit so that the V-neck wouldn't be quite as wide and deep. The yarn is Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light, in the color Peat Mix. I love the deep, heathered green, and soft feel of the yarn. It's lightweight enough to be worn comfortably indoors.

No rain, for the moment!

This was definitely a project that I knit more for the finished product than for the actual enjoyment of making it, but I like the sweater enough that I would do it again!