Hyrna, an Icelandic Shawl, & Continental Knitting

IMG_7993
Completed Shawl!
My time spent in Iceland last year holds a special place in my heart.  So many good memories of such a beautiful country, warm people and happy sheep!
I keep meaning to write more blog posts about my trip…they ARE coming…but as I’ve said before, it’s so hard to capture the experience in pictures and words.
Recently though, I completed a shawl from a yarn kit I bought while I was in Reykjavik.  It was a yarn kit created by Gudrun Bjarnadottir, the owner of Hespa.  Gudrun takes Einband, a single ply Icelandic wool yarn, and dyes it naturally, mainly with native Icelandic plants.
Perhaps letting her speak for herself is a better idea:
“I teach Botany at the Agricultural University of Iceland at Hvanneyri. I spend all my spare time collecting plants and coloring yarn. I also make my own yarn from the Icelandic wool. Plants, knitting and nature are my favorite things and I am so lucky to be able to combine them all in my work and life.” (Etsy Owner Description)
At the end of  our Hiking with the Elves tour, we had a workshop run by Gudrun.  She explained her process and discussed the various plants and lichens used to create the various colours of yarn.

Hyrna, an Icelandic Shawl, & Continental Knitting

IMG_7993
Completed Shawl!
My time spent in Iceland last year holds a special place in my heart.  So many good memories of such a beautiful country, warm people and happy sheep!
I keep meaning to write more blog posts about my trip…they ARE coming…but as I’ve said before, it’s so hard to capture the experience in pictures and words.
Recently though, I completed a shawl from a yarn kit I bought while I was in Reykjavik.  It was a yarn kit created by Gudrun Bjarnadottir, the owner of Hespa.  Gudrun takes Einband, a single ply Icelandic wool yarn, and dyes it naturally, mainly with native Icelandic plants.
Perhaps letting her speak for herself is a better idea:
“I teach Botany at the Agricultural University of Iceland at Hvanneyri. I spend all my spare time collecting plants and coloring yarn. I also make my own yarn from the Icelandic wool. Plants, knitting and nature are my favorite things and I am so lucky to be able to combine them all in my work and life.” (Etsy Owner Description)
At the end of  our Hiking with the Elves tour, we had a workshop run by Gudrun.  She explained her process and discussed the various plants and lichens used to create the various colours of yarn.

Knitting Your First Socks: Your First Mistakes

So, in knitting my first pair of socks, I learned quite a bit; both because I was attempting something new and because I made a ton of mistakes.
Sock knitting wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. This is big part thanks to Wickwum Mom’s tutorial. (If you’re feeling intimidated by the idea of making a sock…I highly recommend you check out her website AND her facebook group. It was really easy to follow and the online group is incredibly encouraging and helpful.)
I have already mentioned my first pair of socks on this blog in my Afterthought Lifeline post but I wanted to add another quick write-up to a) show off my socks 😉 and b) share the two major errors I made so as to help you avoid making the same mistakes.
And so, here we go!
a) Show off socks!
IMG_7027
Yup, pretty darn proud of these socks!  Mistakes and all!
b) Share mistakes!

NYC + Yarn Addict = Vogue Knitting Live

B and I are presently in New York City on a mini-vacation.  Our first time in NYC.  I came originally to see a play but during the planning stages, a friend who lives here told me that there was a large knitting event taking place on the same weekend as my arrival.  She was a member of our knitting/hiking group in Iceland last summer so of course she had to bring the event to my attention.  Wool Sisters Unite!
Vogue Knitting Live was huge and overwhelming and inspiring…every colour, every fibre, every weight….of yarn!  And I thought I would share some of the highlights 🙂
Vogue Knitting Live
A marketplace on two floors??? Yes please!

IMG_7137
6th floor of the Marriot Marquis taken over by yarn and fibre artists and vendors!  Times this by two for the complete marketplace experience!
Two floors of vendors…vendors that spilled out of the main floors and into the surrounding hallways.  Yarn spillage!  Here, I’ll help clean it up!

Lifelines for Knit Socks? Hell yes!

IMG_6841
Sock #1 – My very first sock ever! And it fits! ….*Just* fits. It had better not shrink! 😛
I recently reblogged a really helpful post on lifelines, but I have decided to share my experience because a lifeline absolutely saved my knitting last night!  (NOTE: This post is about lifelines and stockinette stitches.)
I have read about them before and they always sound like a great idea…for someone else. 😉  Often I’m excited about my project and I just want to get going.
*knit! knit! knit! purl! purl!*  (Okay, not sure what pattern THIS is but bear with me…it’s an example) So, I’m happily knitting, purling and a lifeline wants me to pause the happy energy to start with a needle and thread?
As I say, it doesn’t often happen.
BUT last night I discovered that one can add a lifeline after the fact!
No need to pause the *knit! knit! knit!* until you get to “oh crap!  grrrr”.  Then, when you’re paused anyway (and panicking because you need to frog back) you can take a deep breath, pour yourself a cup of tea (or a glass of wine!), calm yourself and add a lifeline where you need it to be.
At least with stockinette stitches you can….other stitches=different process.
So back to my experience….Yesterday I was knitting sock #2 of a pair.  My very first pair of socks ever!

Fibrearts with Actual People: Better than Youtube!

IMG_6615For those who know me, this may sound strange, but it has been so hard for me to meet other fibre artists in my community.
I have spent the past number of years learning my craft from Youtube and books.  I have a few friends who knit/crochet and I often ask them out for coffee or to come over for a visit to chat and play with yarn but we’re all busy so get togethers are rare.
I am so much more creative when I’m socializing and sharing ideas.
For an extrovert, though, I somehow find myself having a hard time taking that first step and meeting NEW people in the community.
Perhaps it’s because I still doubt my skills.  Maybe it’s because I feel kind of nerdy and awkward….but it has been a struggle.
In the past few weeks however, things have started to turn around!

Letters from Iceland: Hiking (and Knitting) with the Elves Pt 1: The Group

This past July, I spent 10 days in Iceland. It was my second trip to Iceland after an initial 4-day stopover last January, on our way home from Europe.
This time though, I signed up for a structured pre-planned trip. The majority of my 10 days were spent as part of a hiking and knitting tour created and run by Hélène Magnusson called “Hiking with the Elves“.
I have been meaning to blog about the trip ever since I arrived home.
I want to record my experience, but I also want to share it with others who are considering a similar trip in the future.
Unfortunately, this has proven to be such a difficult post to write.
Part of the challenge is to try and capture the experience without writing for pages and pages. I’m sure that you, my dear readers, have better things to do that sit in a comfy chair,  with a glass of wine, snuggled up to your computer screen while you read through the novel that is my Icelandic blog post.
The other difficulty comes from the fact that the experience was so tremendous.  How can I ever hope to capture the magnificence and grandeur of it with mousy little English words?

Unfinished Yarn Projects: I have ten…how many do YOU have?

Anyone who crafts knows what it’s like to have unfinished projects around the house.
Especially my fellow knitters and crocheters.
You know the projects I’m talking about.  They’re a bit too complex, requiring more attention than you can provide or they’ve proven to be too simple, unable to capture your attention for any length of time.
I got thinking this morning about the various projects I have in my home that are unfinished, and the various reasons why they remain that way.
I knew I had a few around the house.  I don’t think I realized exactly how many.
TEN!  I found 10 unfinished projects! (Oh and I should add that these photos do not include yarn bagged with a pattern that simply hasn’t been started yet, nor does this include any orders that are underway.  I also hazard to say that there is likely one or two projects I missed that are presently giving me the stink-eye.  When I find them, I promise to edit this post and give them their moment in front of the camera! 😉
So, yes, unfinished projects in various states of completion.
They sit patiently, each in their own bags with their printed pattern (yep, that’s the Capricorn in me), on shelves, in bins or on  the couch next to me, waiting for me to pick them up again.
For inanimate objects, they really know how to guilt trip a person.  Every time I see one, I mentally placate it. “Tomorrow you and I will hang out.” “This weekend.  I promise!  I’ll make some time for us!”
Sometimes I do, but often, they continue to wait.  Silently.  Begrudgingly.
So, today I decided to pull them out and give them a bit of freedom.  A bit of sunlight.  A chance to show off for the camera and maybe, just maybe, by showing them off to the world, I will be inspired to start things up again with each of them!
It also gave me a chance to reflect on the various reasons why we don’t finish certain projects.
So, without further ado, my guilt-ridden…ahem…inspiring, yet unfinished, projects:

Communal Scarves & Happy Customers: Vending at the Hamilton Pagan Harvest Festival

IMG_9964
Skull ornament on sale at Hamilton Pagan Harvest Festival
Last weekend, a friend and I had a booth at a nearby festival, the Hamilton Pagan Harvest Festival.
I have sold at a market once before but this time we approached it properly, as though we were attempting to set up a small pop-up shop.  We discussed displays and stock items and I ordered a Stitch Noir banner! 🙂
Having a physical presence, even for a short time, was a lot of work.  Well, having an internet presence is a lot of work too, but this was work of a different kind.
Stitch Noir booth at the Hamilton Pagan Harvest Festival
Stitch Noir booth at the Hamilton Pagan Harvest Festival
I can work on photos and try to ensure that they really show off the product for my etsy store, but displaying product on a table or in a tent…completely different world.