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Hyrna, an Icelandic Shawl, & Continental Knitting

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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. Continue reading Hyrna, an Icelandic Shawl, & Continental Knitting

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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!
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Yup, pretty darn proud of these socks!  Mistakes and all!
b) Share mistakes! Continue reading Knitting Your First Socks: Your First Mistakes

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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!

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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!
Continue reading NYC + Yarn Addict = Vogue Knitting Live

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Lifelines for Knit Socks? Hell yes!

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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!
Continue reading Lifelines for Knit Socks? Hell yes!

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

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

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Knit Cast On – Reverse Longtail Tutorial – Great for stretchy fabrics!

Recently I went to Iceland.  For 10 days.
Six of those were spent on a hiking and knitting tour.  Yup.  Hiking and knitting.
More to come about that very soon…but let me just say that it was beyond fabulous!
For now, I want to share one of the handy dandy cast ons we learned in one of our workshops.  I filmed this on site in the mountains of Eastern Iceland because I didn’t want to forget it and I couldn’t seem to write it down in such a way that I would remotely understand it 5 minutes later 🙂
This video starts off with the typical Longtail Cast On, which I demonstrate three times, followed by the Reverse Longtail or German Twisted Cast On, which allows for more stretch. Perfect for mitten cuffs, socks, ribbing…any cast on edge that requires some stretchiness. 🙂
Enjoy!

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Knitting Tour in Iceland – Hats, Scarves & Wool! Oh my!

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Many of my friends are aware that I’m headed to Iceland next week for a hiking/knitting trip.
*****pause blogging*****
OMIGODS I’m so excited!!!!
*****re-engage blogging brain****
Ahem…as I was saying…next Friday I head to Iceland.  I have joined this Hiking with the Elves tour, hard decision to make as Hélène Magnusson, the tour guide, offers numerous knitting tours throughout the year and they all sound fabulous!
I chose July as my tour because B and I were in Iceland in January.  We loved it but I wanted to experience the country in summer as well.
It’s going to be extra interesting as we will be focusing on lace knitting.  Not only do I have next to no experience with lace knitting, but I am also fairly new to charts.  It’s my understanding that one doesn’t need to have loads of knowledge and experience to take part in these tours.  We shall see.
In between work and my obsessive crochet/knitting/spinning hobbies, I have been slowly prepping for my trip.  (This has included numerous trips to Mountain Equipment Co-op as I had next to no proper hiking gear!)
I decided early on that I wanted to knit or crochet myself a few items to wear while hiking.  A hat and a scarf specifically.  The temperatures are supposed to be approximately 7-13 degrees Celsius so either item will likely come in handy.
As of today, I have completed both projects!
Continue reading Knitting Tour in Iceland – Hats, Scarves & Wool! Oh my!

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The Magic of Hand Carding

In all the time I have been spinning (you know, that whole six months of time!) I have only completed a few skeins of yarn. I have SO many bobbins on the go as I experiment and play that they take a long time to get beyond the spinning part and become skeins! ….BUT I did just finish a skein of red/teal 2-ply yarn that I’m pretty proud of.  Sure, it has its issues…overplied in places and too loose in others…but it was made by me and that makes it pretty darn awesome!

118 yards of handspun 2-ply merino/alpaca
118 yards of handspun 2-ply merino/alpaca
This skein was made possible by some new toys I purchased….hand carders! Continue reading The Magic of Hand Carding

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Arm Knitting – Go Pee First!

Last Friday, a friend came over for a crafty evening and we decided to give arm-knitting a try!
We used this video:

and, no word of a lie, 45 mins later, we had cowls!
If you haven’t tried it yet, it’s simple and fun.  The initial start was a little rocky, but that’s pretty much like any new craft.  The first time it’s awkward.  You need to check your tension, concentrate on what you’re doing so you don’t miss a step, be prepared for some chafed wrist skin (hand cream afterwards is a bonus)…oh, and
GO PEE FIRST!
Nothing more awkward than yarn hanging everywhere while you try and do your business! *blink blink*
Now that we have that out of the way….Pictures! Continue reading Arm Knitting – Go Pee First!