Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Spinning Ninny

I've enjoyed being in a community that has locally-owned businesses, and one of the businesses I've gotten to know is The Spinning Ninny, a boutique that carries "local handcrafted treasures."  The images of the shop really speak for themselves, so I'll let them do the talking.

Come visit the shop and get some treasures!  There are even some Cowichan leg warmers and handknit baby hats by yours truly.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fall in the country

Just at the beginning of autumn, I took a ride on my bike just for taking pictures.  I've posted lots of pictures of the village, but away from the water, it's all farmland around here.  So, here are a few photos of the country in autumn.  

Whenever I'm out by these farms, I'm on my bike, usually running errands like getting groceries.  As much as I love rainy, dreary weather because it's perfect for knitting indoors, I'm going to miss the clear skies when I'm on my bike.  

Since I talk so much about my bike, I figured I'd show it off.  It's a 2012 Cannondale Quick CX 3.  All that neon orange is actually duct tape that I put on for visibility, because I love orange, and because when I bought it, it looked so darn fancy I was afraid it would attract thieves.  Now it's just right for me.  It has shocks that can be locked out, which is what  I usually do since I'm rarely riding on trails, usually just on country roads.  I'm a brand new rider - I bought this bike just before we moved, about two months ago, and before that I hadn't ridden since I was a kid.  Hills are still a challenge, but I'm getting stronger and enjoying it.  I like the feeling of riding my bike, especially if I'm doing something that I could use a car for - it makes me feel powerful and independent.  

And, it's making me think a lot about what kinds of hand knits people might need for cycling.  That, of course, makes me want to design a collection of active wear garments and accessories.  If you cycle, run, hike, ski/snowboard, etc, what have you wished you could knit for your active life?  What do you look for in garments that you use for these activities, whether they're commercially-made or hand-knit?  Have you had any serious flops in garments or accessories that you tried to take on the trail?  What went wrong?  I'd love some feedback from experienced folks, especially since I'm relatively new at this.  Please comment below if you have thoughts on this subject.  

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Attached Lace Edging Tutorial Part 2

In the last tutorial I showed you how to attach a lace edging to live stitches.  Today we'll look at what to do when you reach the end of the live stitches and need to turn the corner by picking up stitches and attaching the edging to the vertical edge.    

After you have joined all the live stitches, work a wrong side row of the lace edging pattern to the last stitch.

Slip the last stitch to the right hand needle and set left hand needle aside.

Now look at the edge of your fabric and see the slipped stitches along the vertical edge. Insert your needle from back to front (as if to purl) behind both legs of the next slipped stitch.  

Wrap yarn around needle and draw stitch through (pick up and purl.)

Pick up left hand needle again.  Insert it into slipped stitch and pass the slipped stitch over, joining lace edging to edge of body.

After joining, turn and work a right side row of the lace edging, slipping the first stitch as before.  No special changes are made to the lace pattern while rounding the corner. Because the edging is only eleven stitches wide, blocking will stretch the corner sufficiently to create a lovely corner.  

Continue joining by picking up and purling, then passing the slipped stitch over every wrong side row as established.  Work in this manner to the next corner where you'll resume joining to live stitches.

This tutorial shows me using my long circular needle for my left hand needle, but it's a lot more comfortable to use two double pointed needles for joining the lace edging to the vertical edge of the body.  

I hope those tutorials were helpful.  Please feel free to post any questions or comments!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Knit City!

I feel really fortunate that I was able to attend the very first Knit City in Vancouver, BC.  I've been looking forward to this since before I moved up north and it did not disappoint!

I got to attend the marketplace on Saturday and the venue was packed long before the doors even opened.  When they did, the crowd poured in!  I always walk a few laps around the room to get an overview before diving in to individual booths.  This time it would have been hard not to since every booth was full of knitters.  

But I'm sort of skipping the best part, jumping right in to tell you about the marketplace.  On Friday night, there was a fantastic kick-off party.   Look at all these knitters!  The sight always warms my heart.

Kim Werker spoke first, telling a room full of knitters why we should love crochet.  She answered some great questions, including how to check gauge with crochet, which has always been one of those things that made me hesitate to follow crochet patterns, and how to achieve drape with crochet.  I don't know that I'll be crocheting any fitted sweaters in the near future, but it did give me a serious hankering for some granny squares.  And Kim's example garment, a gorgeous cabled bolero on Madelinetosh DK with a delicate crochet edging made her point beautifully.

The second speaker was Sylvia Olsen, author of Working With Wool: A Coast Salish Legacy and the Cowichan Sweater, among many other books.  Her talk was about the history and impact of Coast Salish knitting and Cowichan sweaters on knitters, their communities, and the people who wore those sweaters.  I'm especially fascinated by just that subject since I moved here to Cowichan Bay.  Lucky for you Seattle folk, she'll be speaking again at Knit Fit in just a few short weeks!  I really encourage you not to miss that.  She has slides with pictures of sweaters and knitters galore!  (While you're checking out Knit Fit, you can sign up for my class too.  There are still spots available, but registration closes soon.)

And look at this batch of local Victoria knitters!  It was really fun to meet folks who live in my new community even if they are a bit south of me.  In the middle there is the talented Jane Richmond!  Hopefully I'll get a chance to knit with these ladies soon.

And now back to the marketplace!  This yarn display was stunning, but somehow I missed the name of the yarn!  If anybody recognizes the label & knows what it is, please let me know!

And best of all, the Salish Fusion booth.  Sylvia Olsen and her daughter Joni Olsen were on hand to answer questions about their hand knitted bags, slippers, sweaters, hats, mitts, leg warmers, and furnishings.  Much of their work is felted creating a clean, modern look that melds perfectly with the traditional yarn and geometric patterns of the Coast Salish.  They also offered kits so that knitters could make their own projects with their very special wool.  And of course a couple of Sylvia's books were available.  

All-in-all, it was a successful event & I can't wait for next year!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Attached Lace Edging Tutorial Part 1

Two patterns in The Harrow Collection have the wonderful feature of an attached lace edging.  While working attached lace edgings is really fun and rewarding, it can be a bit confusing to get started. So I've put together this tutorial on how to make it happen.  

These specific photos are geared toward the Whittingham Wrap, but the same principles apply to attaching the edging to Issa's Bloomers, the main (and very important) difference being that when attaching the edging to the bloomers, you'll need to purl the stitch from the lace edging together with two stitches from the main body instead of one.  That means you'll be purling three together. 

So here's how it's done:

Cast on and work your lace edging as instructed in the pattern.  Work a wrong side row of the lace edging pattern to the last stitch.

Hold the body of the work in your left hand with the wrong side facing and slip the last stitch from the lace edging to the tip of the left needle.  Set second double pointed needle aside.

Purl the stitch from the lace edging together with the first stitch from the main body of the work, joining the edging to the body stitches.  Remember, if you're making Issa's Bloomers, be sure to purl the last edging stitch together with the first two body stitches, meaning you're purling three together.

After joining the first stitch, turn your work to work the right side of the lace edging.  Be sure to slip your first stitch as if to purl with the yarn in back.

Continue in the same manner until all the live stitches have been joined.  If you're working on Whittingham, you'll eventually get to a corner where you'll need to start picking up stitches purl wise before you can join.  In part 2 of this tutorial I'll show you how to do just that, so be sure to check back here later in the week.

The patterns that use this technique:

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Walk Around the Village

We had our first visitors this week, so we took them on a walk around the village.  You know how, even when you're new to a place, you don't always see everything that's there until you're showing it to someone else?  Well this is what we saw.

We visited the Cowichan Wooden Boat Society, which we hadn't done yet, and saw some really amazing displays about the history of the area and boat making and a lot of intricate model boats.  The wheel above is a miniature thing just hanging out on a railing at the end of the pier.  The colors caught my eye, but I love this little detail.

If you keep walking past the Wooden Boat Society to Hecate Park, there's some fascinating art.  I don't have any idea of the significance of this carving, but a passerby told me the artist is definitely local and is quite prolific.  Now I've got my eyes open for similar pieces.

Walk a little further and you get to a tiny beach with a lovely view back on the village marina.

This is back the other direction, but I have to give you a glimpse of the reason we're here.

It's a widely-held view that True Grain Bread is the best bakery on the island, and I'm fortunate enough to have a baker for a husband.  You'll notice that the place is adorned with bicycles, which is a lovely touch, but we didn't have a clue why they were there in such abundance (there are more just out of the frame - some even attached to the outside walls!).  But visitors ask questions, and we got the story from a local that the original owner of the bakery loved cycling, so he encouraged folks to bike to the bakery.  Back in the day, the parking wasn't parallel, but nose-in, and very tight.  Having old junker bikes in front of the building apparently encouraged drivers to stop before they rammed into the front of the place, which I'm told happened with some regularity!  

The bikes are also a bit of a testimony to the fact that Cowichan Bay is a Cittaslow community.  Basically that means that the folks here have decided that they value community and quality of life more than some other considerations.  Only locals own the businesses here, and they all attempt to sell local and organic when possible.  The bakery uses flour from grain that is grown right here on the island and milled in the bakery.  There is even a wonderful boutique that sell clothes and jewelry made only by local artisans, including some Cowichan knitting, and a few baby hats that I've knit. I'll share more about that shop, The Spinning Ninny, in the future.

I had no idea when I moved here that it was a Cittaslow community, but it suits us perfectly.  Now I'm off to ride my bike to the grocery store!

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Harrow Collection

It's October 1, which means that autumn is really right now!  And to celebrate my favorite season, I give you The Harrow Collection. 

The Harrow Collection

This collection is a collaboration with Malabrigo Yarns for their Freelance Pattern Project.  Every month, they feature a new ebook (sometimes a few) from independent designers and I was lucky enough to get October as my month.  

I knew I wanted to design something that would give a nod to Halloween and the Day of the Dead without just making a collection of costumes.  This Pinterest pin board gives a good feel for the mood I was in when I was designing these patterns.

I was thinking elegant, but cozy; old-fashioned, but practical.  Now I know someone is going to say that knitted bloomers with buttoned lace edgings and silk ribbons are not practical.

Issa's Bloomers

I have to disagree.  Fancy bloomers make a lady feel fancy for one, which is a very worthy effect.  Not only that, but they can be worn around the house instead of sweat pants, or even better, under that too-short skirt!  Imagine wearing these with a floofy skirt, tall leg warmers, and clompy boots for the perfect fall ensemble.  (Good for autumn bike riding too!)

Issa's Bloomers

Whittingham is a square lace wrap with a lacy knitted-on edging.  It's the perfect size for wrapping around your shoulders to keep out the chill or draping over your lap for a long evening of knitting.  I like to wear it as a scarf because the luscious Malabrigo fabric and the lace edging gives it this wonderfully dramatic look.  


The lace is worked on both right and wrong sides, but it's very rhythmic, and both my testers and I really enjoyed knitting it.  The heavy worsted weight gauge makes the project go surprisingly quickly.


When curled up knitting next to a roaring fire, you don't just need fancy old-fashioned underwear and a lace wrap, you also need slippers!  Zarzamora are designed using the same lace pattern as Whittingham.  I used Malabrigo Rios for these because the plied, machine washable yarn is squishy and durable as well as being Malabrigo-oh-so-soft.  They're worked like a typical cuff-down sock, but the heavy weight means they're done in no time, which makes them a great gift knit.  


I hope you enjoy all three patterns.  They're available as individual downloads and as a collection.  You can also see the collection on Ravelry.

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