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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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Buttery Soft Yarn that is Organic Cotton – Yep, it's possible! (Too Asymmetrical? Not possible!)

My friend Jesika recently invented a lovely and simple – that is an important keyword for newbie knitters like me! Simple! – knitting pattern that results in a beautiful mesh asymmetrical shawl.
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Her initial use of the pattern was with a variegated sock yarn.  I asked if she would share it with me (which she did!) and I decided to experiment with a heavier yarn…an organic cotton by Estelle.

DK variegated cotton 12 wpi
DK variegated cotton 12 wpi

Right off the top, I just want to say that this cotton is fantastic!  Buttery soft, which I didn’t expect, with a lovely drape, which also surprised me.  The fact that it is organic is a bonus!
The resulting shape is also pretty awesome…asymmetrical with a long curling end that wraps nicely over the shoulder.
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Continue reading Buttery Soft Yarn that is Organic Cotton – Yep, it's possible! (Too Asymmetrical? Not possible!)

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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!

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Newbie knitting: Jumping in Headfirst!!

The beginning of a shawl!
The beginning of a shawl!

Doesn’t look like much but it’s the result of over an hour of knitting with the help of videos and online forums!
I’m a newbie knitter and recently, after finishing a shawl that was completely garter stitch and yarn overs, I decided I wanted more of a challenge.
A friend suggested a shawl pattern by Stephen West.
Definitely a challenge for someone who has spent the past few months garter stitching over and over!
I am now headed into Row 9 and have had to learn (or relearn) techniques like:
Purling! Haven’t done that in awhile
Yarn overs between knitting and purling
And stuff like this:
yo, sl1 wyif, k1
It’s difficult but I think I’m getting it!
I have been using YouTube videos and online forums to figure it out.
It’s amazingly satisfying it is to finish a complicated row…a row where you were pretty much talking yourself through it and trying not to panic….to then count the exact number of required stitches on your needle at the end! Yep, did it right!
More pics to come!
Oh, and a shout out to Indigo Dragonfly! I’m using their sock yarn and it’s fantastic!! Soft merino/cashmere/nylon blend 🙂
Onwards and upwards….or downwards in the case of this pattern!
Wish me luck!

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Blocking with Rods: a yarn artist's best friend

Today I completed my very first knit shawl.
It was ordered by a friend back in October and I have to say thank goodness she was so patient with me as it took some time!
I had no idea how long a knit shawl would take me and expected that it would be similar to my various crocheted projects.
Yeah, not so much.
It didn’t help that I chose 5mm circular needles to make it…perhaps larger would have been better for my first large knitting project….but regardless, I washed and blocked it two days ago and today, it is finished!

Completed knit shawl!
Completed knit shawl!

 
Anyway, back to the purpose of this post.
When I blocked this piece, I decided to use these metal rods that I picked up at a hardware store months ago.  They are heavier than the rods you use for blocking lace, but for this worsted yarn and open edging, they were perfect!
I saved so much time by weaving the rods through the edging and then simply pinning them out with my T-pins.
Close up of the metal rod I used for blocking
Close up of the metal rod I used for blocking

Metal rod pinned by T-pins
Metal rod pinned by T-pins

You can find these at any hardware store I believe and only cost me a few bucks.
The only downside that I could see was that the edges were somewhat rough, so I had to be careful when weaving them through the stitching.
Otherwise, a perfect time saver!

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Traveling with Crochet Hooks & Knitting Needles…it's doable

I recently went on a European trip from Canada.
Before I went, many friends warned me that I would likely have my crochet hooks and knitting needles confiscated if I brought them.  So initially, I started packing without any projects to work on.
But the more I thought about 6 hours on a plane with no yarn and no crochet, the more annoyed I got. 🙂  I wasn’t willing to bring along my lovely wooden knitting needles as they are fantastic (and were expensive!).  I also wasn’t willing to bring along my handmade ergonomic crochet hooks as I order those from the states and they too aren’t cheap.
So, I put together a small traveling crochet pouch with new bits and pieces as an experiment. Throughout the trip I went through four security checks in three different airports (Pearson Airport in Toronto, Ontario Canada, Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris France & Keflavik Airport in Iceland) and not once was I questioned or stopped.
Of course, every airline, airport and every security employee is different so there is no *one* way to ensure that you’ll never be asked about your hooks and needles, but I though I would share what I did because it seemed to work….in January 2015 at least 😉
First of all, I researched each airport for security regulations.  Some were easy to find and others were a bit harder.  I also asked my airline via Facebook what they allowed on their airplanes.  I was told 2.5mm and smaller were acceptable which didn’t work for me as all my projects were  on hooks and needles 5mm or larger.
So instead I created this pouch….

Traveling crochet pouch
Traveling crochet pouch

I went out and bought plastic hooks and plastic needles, as well as the smallest pair of scissors I could find.  Initially I was looking for scissors for children as I figured they would be even less threatening but I came across these for quite cheap and figured I’d try them.
I also purchased a replacement set of circular knitting needles for a project I was working on.  These are aluminum:
Aluminum circular needles size 8
Aluminum circular needles size 8

The key to all of this was that I made my purchases with the knowledge that they all could be taken away and I was okay with that.  If I had lost my plastic hooks or scissors…they hadn’t been too expensive and I still had my preferred ones at home.
Prior to going through any security, I pulled a string through the stitches of my knitting project along the needles and tied it together. Every time.
I only had one knitting item with me….so if you have a few this could be annoying BUT you just KNOW that the one time you think “I haven’t had a problem so far, I’m sure it’ll be fine” is the time when someone will decide that your needles are not acceptable!  😛 So do it every time!
IMG_2882Of course, if they had decided to confiscate the needles, I may have lost the project as well…I have heard of that happening before….but this way, if I had been given the opportunity to keep the project, the needles could have been easily pulled out and all the stitches saved.
Lastly, each time I went through security, I purposely pulled out the crochet pouch and the project with the needles in it and put them in a tray to go through the scanner.  That way they were clearly seen and could be checked easily.
Four security scans later, I wasn’t asked once about them.
So there you go! 🙂  Hopefully this helps my fellow fibre freaks out there who also like to travel with their yarn art!
NOTE: One additional note….I was also working on a project with 15mm needles.  Mine are plastic and I assume pretty non-threatening but I didn’t chance them due to their size and always put them in my checked luggage.
ANOTHER NOTE (Later…same day):
I had to add another note to share some of the awesome ideas that are being shared with me on social media!
One person suggested taking along small nail clippers for children instead of scissors and another person suggested floss…because floss packaging  usually has a small sharp edge to cut floss…or yarn!
Brilliant!
How do you travel with your needles and hooks? Leave a comment. 🙂
Would love to hear more ideas and suggestions. 🙂