Monday, August 31, 2009

Love-Hate Sweater, V. 4.0

I can't believe I've already been back here for a week. Leaving home was bittersweet this time, as it's the last time for quite a while (indefinitely?) that I'll be home during the summer, or for any considerable length of time. That's alright, however, because it was quite clear to me this time that life is changing for so many of my peers who now have jobs, spouses, babies... and that going home isn't quite the same any more. It's making me feel like I should feel like an adult (I don't, I'm just excited to be starting grade 19 in the fall).

I thought I'd throw a picture of this sign in for fun: I passed it on a bike ride last week, and it makes me laugh every time. It's on a small island in Lake Ontario, right by the customs office at the ferry crossing to New York state. It always makes me wonder who in Ontario is taking action to actually make me feel incredible...

Anyhow, I digress. Mostly because I'm procrastinating talking about this sweater, as I have with pretty much everything else concerning it. Sometimes I feel like this blessed sweater will always be a pox on my body of knitting... it just won't end.

Version 1.0 occurred back in January of 2006, over the course of a week. I loved the yarn, but wasn't impressed with the sweater. The button band rolled in, the neckline was weird, the rolled edges were much more exaggerated than in the pattern's photo, the shoulders were lumpy, and the whole thing looked boxy and short despite having added waist shaping and length. Long story short, I never wore it, but kept it in the closet anyway because it was hand knit, and the color was nice.

Version 3.0 - still blech!

V 2.0 happened sometime in 2008. I took the arms off the sweater, and decided to rip out and re-knit the neck. It didn't work. I felt stupid for (maybe?) misreading the pattern twice. V. 3.0: fall of 2008 to spring 2009. I ripped out the entire body, added a seed stitch button band, made up the neckline, added more waist shaping. Things looked a bit less bizarre after that, but it was still boxy, and the two times I wore it I couldn't stop fuming over my dissatisfaction with how it turned out.

So, earlier this summer when I had nothing on the needles and a severe case of knitter's block, I started V.4.0, with a totally new pattern (Fireside Sweater by Amber Allison), mostly because the pattern called for the exact yarn I had (Valley Yarns Berkshire). I'm not convinced that I'll wear this sweater, but at least it *should* look a little prettier sitting in a heap in my knitting basket, and it may provide amusement along the way. However, I'm not totally convinced the curse is gone, as I've already managed to lose the pattern (and my place) a few times. I think my gauge is off, and I'm quickly realizing that I'll need to order more yarn. What are the chances that the colorway will still be close after almost 4 years?

Oh, and in an act of lazy defiance I'm knitting it straight from the old sweater. We'll see how that goes!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sew Fun

In a last-minute scramble to finish up a few projects before leaving home for the fall, I decided to make my sister's Christmas/birthday gift. When we were kids, she had a thing for vintage paper dolls, and now she's all about vintage-retro clothing. Her room is full of bright oranges, reds and fuchsia, so when I stumbled across this fabric I knew it was perfect for her. Here's the result:

Fabric: Snippets by American Jane
The throw pillow was fun to make; the pattern was improvised using bits of different tutorials. I love this fabric! While I don't find the process of sewing all that fun (there's a machine in the way!), the fabric choices and creative possibilities are quite enticing...

Paper dolls on the back!

Another project finished up: two of my dear, sweet friends are getting married to each other today. I had no idea what they needed, so I made them some cheery dinner napkins. Off to the wedding!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Whales and Tails

With great summer weather out in full force and the company gone, Mom and I decided to head off to Grand Manan island for a day of fresh air, hiking, and of course some bonding over the new Interweave and our knitting. I managed to get this done:

Ishbel by Ysolda Teague, in Malabrigo Lace Velvet Grapes

I've wanted to make mom a shawl for some time now, but couldn't picture her wearing something large or elaborate. The Ishbel pattern provided just the right amount of lacey goodness for her to drape around her neck come fall/winter. I've pretty much knit exclusively on this project for the last few weeks, and am pleased with the result - now it's back to some other neglected projects!

Thanks to my sister for modelling!
The yarn is Malabrigo Lace, in the color Velvet Grapes. It is so, so, soft and buttery to the touch... although I'm a bit wary of how it will wear being a single ply and all. In real life, the color is a bit darker and less red than photographed, and the variegation is more subtle. I knit the large sized stockinette portion of the pattern, and then did the smaller sized lace repeat. There was a fair bit of yarn left over, so I'm left wondering if I actually could have done the larger lace repeat, but I didn't want to risk running out!

I also uncharacteristically broke my "no more than three WIPs at a time" rule and cast on a sock. It just felt wrong not to have one on the go, especially since everything else I'm doing at the moment requires reading a chart. The yarn is Fleece Artist Merino Sock, which has been sitting in my stash for a while. Looking at the skein, I wasn't sure how the colors would work together, but as soon as I wound the ball everything clicked.

And... because I love New Brunswick so much, I thought I'd share a slice of Grand Manan (a fishery-based island off the Fundy coast). NB has unfortunately earned the nickname "the drive through province", because often people coming for vacation from outside the Maritimes will drive through it on their way to Nova Scotia and PEI. However, there is so much natural beauty and history to be found here as well! Consider Grand Manan: going there is like stepping back in time, to a simpler, untouched place. Although the trails are less well maintained than in provincial and national parks, there is ample scenic coastal hiking dotted with friendly handmade signs. It's a place that feeds the soul.

Old Smoke House, Seal Cove

Hike from Southern Head to Flocks of Sheep

Sunset at The Whistle, Grand Manan NB

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Alpaca 101

Dad and I recently returned from a camping trip in Maine. I love the East Coast, love Maine, and will miss it all when I go back to Ontario, so it was great to have a few days of fresh air and hiking. Our first stop was Acadia National Park. It was soooo crowded with tourists, but once we got out onto some of the trails, the scenery was awesome.

Acadia National Park, ME

Our next stop was Recompence campground, just outside of Freeport, ME. It was a pleasant surprise- a quiet, peaceful campground nestled between a farm and Casco Bay. But perhaps one of the best surprises was the Alpaca farm we found just down the road!

Casco Bay, ME

Indulging my someday-fantasy-mini fiber farm dream, we visited the farm, and the very welcoming farmer obligingly fielded my many questions about alpaca rearing. It was an educational visit, and left me feeling like it's not such a far fetched idea after all.

Tripping Gnome farm specializes in alpaca breeding services. They also focus on keeping their yarns and fiber products 100% alpaca, which has not proved easy when trying to find a place to get their fleeces mill-spun. It was so neat to get such a friendly tour of the farm, and to talk about how they got started, and what's involved with the whole process. I don't know what it is about farms, but they have some sort of intoxicating effect which always leaves me daydreaming and yearning for a simpler life. Maybe it's the quiet, fresh air, natural beauty, animals... sigh.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


While walking home today, I ran into the librarian who taught me how to cross-stitch in the seventh grade, and she asked me if I was still at it. I no longer enjoy the process of doing cross-stitch, but last year my mom put me on to embroidery via Sublime Stitching. It's perfect when you're in the mood for something quick, different, and instantly gratifying, or need something mindless to do while chatting. I did this bib for one of my little cousins who's visiting.

The patterns are quirky, retro, and fun. Whenever I start one of these projects I find that I can't put it down until it's finished, probably because finishing it in one sitting is somewhere in the realm of possibility (unlike with knitting where I'm usually resigned to the fact that it won't all be done then and there!). Plus, the stitching reminds me of surgery...

This tutorial for box pouches caught my eye, and I decided to give it a whirl. I liked the way they turned out, so I made another longer one to replace my ratty old dollar store pencil case. I'd been lovingly saving that piece of brown fabric for about 10 years, and now it will make going to the library that much more exciting!

Homework Happiness!

There is still knitting going on here, partly the same old stuff, with a new project or two. Now it's off to Maine for some outdoor fun, and hopefully a farm visit:)

New projects, TBA!