Saturday, February 18, 2017

ann carolyn smock

Freshly washed dobby + the urge to sew from a purchased pattern = a finished Ann Carolyn Smock shirt!

I had picked up Ellen Mason's Ann Carolyn Smock pattern last year at the Squam retreat because one of my cabin mates had been wearing a fantastic version and then I met the lovely Ellen in person. And in one of those weird coincidences that makes the world seem very small, as I was looking at the fabric options in The Workroom for this pattern in particular, another customer was talking to her friend about using one of Ellen's patterns and then working with Ellen's wool (and it isn't like we have access to Ellen's patterns or wool in Toronto). Clearly I took this as a sign that I was supposed to sew this smock right away.

I did make a couple of modifications, though the fabric might be the most obvious. In the fabric photo at the top, you're seeing the right side of the fabric with its fluid scalloped pattern of dots. But after washing, I actually liked the wrong side better because it was darker and more subtle. As for pattern modifications, I used the large pattern sheet to grade a smaller size by hand right on the paper (love those large paper sheets for being able to do this!). After that, I just traced my pattern pieces using tracing paper to keep the pattern intact (in case my hand grading went horribly wrong). I had learned a couple of things from doing a muslin first, mainly that I needed to remove some fabric from the back piece and a little from the back seam of the sleeves. Pretty simple to do, and now it fits perfectly. And I loved trying shoulder darts! I had to move them forward by 1/2" based on the other modifications, but they are pure magic.

If you're looking for a comfortable and cute shirt/dress pattern - definitely give this one a try. I'm already sorting through fabric options in my mind for a breezy, springtime dress version...

Friday, January 27, 2017

kids snappy shoulder vest

Wow, I hardly recognize my little model. It's been almost 6 years since I posted this vest pattern, and my guy just hasn't stopped growing. Of course, the three vests above no longer fit him, but they each got a lot of wear. The bottom version (which we called his "Han Solo" vest) actually fit Milo until last year. But now he is officially without vests, and that definitely needs to change.

With a few nudges from other vest knitters, and some awesome help from Allie, the Snappy Shoulder Vest pattern is now updated to include 6, 8 and 10 year old sizes. I'm a wee bit Blogger-challenged these days, so instead of editing the old post, I'm simply adding the updated pattern below (the old post will include a link to get you here). Someday I hope to make PDFs of my older, free patterns, but hopefully this works for now. I'm itching to get started on a new vest for Milo, and I hope you enjoy knitting up some larger vests too!

You will need:
• Main Colour (MC): 350 (400, 475, 550, 650) yds/ 320 (365, 435, 500, 595) m worsted weight wool • Contrast Colour (CC): 20 yds/18 m worsted to aran weight wool for shoulders (this is a great use for scrap wool!)
• US7/4.5mm needles (16” circ)
• extra US 7/4.5mm needle (for holding stitches)
• US6/4mm needles (DPNs)
• 1 stitch marker

Gauge: 19 stitches x 26 rows in stockinette = 4”/10cm square
Sizes: 2T (4T, 6, 8, 10)
Finished dimensions: 21¾ (23½, 26, 28, 29.5)” chest circumference, 14½” (16, 18.5, 21, 22)” garment length (or longer – the body is up to you!)

Using CC, CO 20 (20, 22, 26, 28) sts. Knit in stockinette for 14 (14, 16, 18, 20) rows and bind off on RS row.

Using main wool, pick up 12 (12, 13, 16, 18) stitches along vertical edge of a shoulder saddle. CO 15 (17, 19, 21, 23), then pick up 12 (12, 13, 16, 18) stitches along vertical edge of the second shoulder saddle (39 [41, 45, 53, 59] stitches on needle). Turn work and purl to end. Turn work and knit to end. Continue knitting flat in stockinette for 3” (3.5, 4, 4.5, 4.75)” ending on a WS row. Next row (RS): Knit to end, CO2. Next row (WS): Purl to end, CO2. Next row (RS): Knit across 43 (45, 49, 57, 63) stitches and transfer to spare 4.5mm needle.

This time, it’s much easier to see where you are picking up stitches, because the shoulder saddles are already in place. So, using your main wool, pick up 12 (12, 13, 16, 18) stitches along remaining vertical edge of a shoulder saddle. CO 15 (17, 19, 21, 23) then pick up 12 (12, 13, 16, 18) stitches along vertical edge of the second shoulder saddle (39 [41, 45, 53, 59] stitches on needle). Turn work and purl to end. Turn work and knit to end. Continue knitting flat in stockinette for 4” (4.5, 5.5, 5.5, 5.75)” ending on a WS row. Next row (RS): Knit to end, CO2. Next row (WS): Purl to end, CO2. Turn work. Now you’re ready to join in the round.

Knit across 43 (45, 49, 57, 63) stitches, CO 9 (11, 13, 9, 9), knit across the FRONT 43 (45, 49, 57, 63) stitches from your spare needle, and CO 9 (11, 13, 9, 9). You should have 104 (112, 124, 132, 144) stitches in total. Join in the round and sit back for some relaxing, mindless knitting. The body length is truly up to you – I knit in stockinette for 6 (7, 8.75, 10.5, 11)”.

[K2, P2] ribbing for 2.5” and bind off loosely.

You can easily tell the front of the vest because the neckline is lower. Using main wool, pick up 17 (21, 23, 25, 27) stitches across the back neckline of the vest, 17 (17, 19, 23, 25) across one saddle, 17 (21, 23, 25, 27) across the front neckline, and another 17 (17, 19, 23, 25) across the remaining saddle (68 [76, 84, 96, 104] stitches total). PM and [K2, P2] for 5 rows. Bind off loosely.

Using main wool, determine the bottom center of the armhole and pick up 18 (21, 25, 27, 29) stitches from this point until you reach the shoulder saddle. Pick up 17 (17, 19, 23, 25) stitches across saddle, then 21 (26, 30, 32, 32) stitches along the back (56 [64, 74, 82, 86] stitches total). PM and [K2, P2] for 5 rows. Bind off loosely.

Using main wool, determine the bottom center of the armhole and pick up 21 (26, 30, 32, 32) stitches from this point until you reach the shoulder saddle. Pick up 17 (17, 19, 23, 25) stitches across saddle, then 18 (21, 25, 27, 29) stitches down the front (56 [64, 74, 82, 86] stitches total). PM and [K2, P2] for 5 rows. Bind off loosely.

Weave in all ends and block if desired. Find your favourite little person and keep them toasty warm in their newest vest!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

wellington worksock shawl

Darn Instagram! I have become so used to sharing stories and progress there, that I didn't even add this pattern here. A pattern I published last winter, no less! All I can say is: oops.

This is the Wellington Worksock Shawl, named for a town in my favourite area of Ontario and to reference the classic wool work sock which inspired the shawl's design. The shawl's triangular construction is simple and straightforward because the big fun is in choosing your colour combination. I'm still a huge fan of Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter line, and their palette is just so perfect for this shawl. The samples above were knit with Postcard, Fossil and Sweatshirt (top) and Sweatshirt, Fossil and Camper (bottom).

But to be honest, I'm most excited by all the yarn options and colour combinations that other knitters have come up with - which is exactly why producing patterns is so rewarding. Sharing written instructions with others and seeing how they bring those words to life with needles and string?

It's pure magic.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

of hats and words

So quick and so satisfying. Is there really anything better than knitting a hat? 

Hats are also the perfect project for when you spot some new wool that you just have to purchase, even though you're aware your stash is overflowing. Within a few days of picking up two lovely skeins of Nurtured by Julie Asselin, the wool was completely knit up and there was nothing left to store away. Phew.

I'm still a little addicted to knitting hearts, but being a modifier by nature, I couldn't resist modifying my own pattern. I used only two colours, added extra height and changed the decreases to elongate the crown shaping a bit. I actually have fairly puffy hair so the beanie style doesn't really work on me as much as I wish it did. The extra height has made this hat super wearable, and I'm loving the wool for warmth and feel (oh, and colour - these two colours are wonderful!). All in all, a successful modification which I'm about to repeat in black and grey for a friend. And I think it's safe to say I could knit hearts every day.

Over the holiday season I worked through a couple of books which cover quite a range of styles. Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen was perfectly satisfying as a light, romantic read (it turns out my light reading has become "magical realism", who knew?). Sadie recommended her all-time favourite novel, Awake and Dreaming by Kit Pearson and it was quite good. It wrapped up a bit fast at the end, but the main character was richly drawn and her experiences tugged at the heart. Sharing these books with Sadie means we end up having conversations about the topics they raise, in this case, how poverty affects children (for this reason alone, I'll happily keep taking her recommendations.) I haven't actually finished Wherever You Go, There You Are, instead I'm reading bits at a time and not rushing through. A book about meditation probably isn't meant to be devoured, right? But I've stayed up way too late the past few nights with Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea. I wasn't expecting to be pulled in so much by the characters, but it's been fun to start 2016 with a good, solid mystery.

For more reading and knitting, visit today's Yarnalong. Ginny also has some wonderful news to share!

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

hillier hearts cap

Oh, this poor neglected space! To think I released a knitting pattern last week and have only thought to mention it here now. Instagram really has won me over, but still, this blog is a dear, old friend. Ten years ago this past summer, when I was in the middle of my maternity leave with Sadie and feeling super productive, I wrote my very first post. That's a pretty long commitment in this ever-changing world of ours, right? But before I start equating the length of my blog relationship with how much older I must be, I'll stop and get to the task at hand: a new knitting pattern!

After tackling my first ever colourwork project (the Baa-ble Hat), I tried Diana Walla's Laurus Hat which was part of Karen's #fringehatalong. Quickly I knit two of them, and realized that I needed to keep practicing colourwork. So over a summertime baseball game I sketched out and tried a simple 3-colour pattern of hearts. Then I tried it a second time. And a third. And then in a different size. And by then I had a pretty solid hat pattern that I was REALLY having fun knitting. I knit another two hats, gathered all my notes and measurements and decided this could be my first "official" pattern - a pattern I took seriously and had tech edited, test knit and photographed by a real photographer. Not because I'm looking to trade my day job to be a knitwear (or sewing pattern) designer, but because I have these ideas I just love developing and sharing. Truthfully, I'm very happy to knit from patterns, but I simply can't stop myself from creating my own. And out of respect for the hard work and awesome talent of the knitwear designers I admire and purchase patterns from, I've decided to focus on my own production quality and place a value on the end product (vs. providing the patterns for free). It's a small step, but hopefully one that contributes to the overall karma of the fibre community.

And so here it is, the HILLIER HEARTS CAP! The pattern is available on Ravelry and it's a quick knit with just enough colourwork to be entertaining without being overwhelming. Great for small amounts of worsted weight yarn, this is the kind of project that most knitters can make from their stash although I do highly recommend Brooklyn Tweed Shelter (among many other reasons, combining three colours from that thoughtful palette is pure joy). Oh, and the name background is this: each year we spend a week in Prince Edward County, Ontario, and it's the one week my mind winds down, allowing all sorts of creative thoughts to start connecting. It just seems fitting to name my patterns after the villages, townships and hidden gems of a place that so significantly inspires another year of making. 

And because it's Yarnalong day, here's a very quick recap of my Canadian-heavy reading from the past two months: The Birthday Lunch by Joan Clark got deep into the characters and I will forever remember the opening paragraph (what a way to start a story!); Sweetland by Michael Crummey was everything I'd hoped for from Crummey - an intense exploration of the geography of a remote island in the Atlantic, as experienced by the man bearing the same name (and oh, how I cried at the loss of one of the characters!); Man by Kim Thuy was lyrical and such a treat to read, though the style actually influenced my interpretation of the main character, and I kept thinking of her as quite detached; and then finally The Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell, which took me on a fairy-tale like journey through Paris with an orphan, her quirky guardian and some lost, but adventurous children. It wasn't Canadian or even meant for adults, but Sadie recommended it to me and I was charmed by the girl with "hair the colour of lightning" and touched that she believed her mother was still alive and waiting to be found. 

Knitting and reading, truly the very best of companions, right? For more stories of knitting and reading visit Ginny for today's Yarnalong.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

pattern release

Did I just type the words "pattern release"?

Yep, and I also just had to catch my breath as soon as I typed them. Because instantly my heart started racing and I got a little shaky. I've got a whole bunch of emotions swirling around, but one thing is for certain: a sewing pattern that I've been working on has been released today. Gasp.

Okay, with that now said, let me fill in the story.

About a year ago I was tinkering with a tunic design when Elizabeth, the amazing woman behind Squam Art Workshops, suggested a collaboration to make this pattern available to others. I was thrilled at the idea - and also terrified - but Elizabeth's "let's just try it" attitude was SO inspiring. We jumped in even though it was an entirely new project for both of us. A few roadblocks and many revisions later, I can wholeheartedly say that the journey towards today's release has been...wonderful.

The pattern is called the West Water Tunic, fittingly named for one of the cabins at Squam. As a garment, it's simple, comfortable and customizable. I have a strong bias for sewing the tunic with Robert Kaufman's Essex Yarn Dyed Linen (my closet and Instagram feed can attest to that!) but I can't wait to see it made with other fabrics. Personally I've lined up some fine wale corduroy for my next one.

As for the "terrified" bit of the story, I must admit that putting something out there in the world is scary. My inner voice keeps asking, what if I missed a spelling mistake? What if my way of writing instructions is really unclear? What if I get called out for not being a professional something-or-other? Fingers crossed this kind of paranoia is natural. To distract myself from worrying, I'm trying to focus on what I've learned through this collaboration. Skills like grading to layout design are great, but they actually give way to a much bigger lesson, and one that I should have learned - or better yet, realized - long ago: I love designing clothes. Not just making, actually designing. It might sound small, but it's quite a significant acknowledgment for me. And I have Elizabeth, and this project, and the very fact that I attended Squam in 2014 to thank for it.

But enough about my inner dialogue, there's a pattern to share! More information about the digital and paper version of West Water Tunic pattern can be found at the Squam site here, and Elizabeth's pitch perfect introduction is here.

Phew, secret project officially shared. And now I've got some corduroy to wash up and start cutting out. 

Happy sewing!

(And wow, thank you, thank you Elizabeth - for your courage, patience, kind words and excellent vision. You're simply amazing.)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

intro to colourwork

Last year it was lace, this year it's definitely colourwork. This is what I love about knitting - there is always something to learn that instantly opens up a whole new realm of possibilities.

I first spied the Baa-ble Hat pattern on Instagram in the spring, designed by Donna Smith for Shetland Wool Week. It seemed fitting that my first colourwork project would involve lambs, and looking back, I'm sure that's what gave me the final nudge to tackle this technique. Because really, shouldn't it be a requirement that I own at least one garment with lambs on it? Especially one as irresistible as this? It didn't take long to realize that the allure of colourwork is getting the chance to put colours together, to plan out a combo that is unique, appealing and has enough contrast for the design to stand out. My single-ball stash was the perfect source for the project, and although the weights aren't exactly consistent, I think the colour combo worked out...even if purple skies aren't really a thing. My floats are rather wonky, but blocking helped smooth them out, and now I know that's where I need the most practice (and thanks to Karen's #fringehatalong, I've been able to practice a lot!) Oh, and the other thing I know for sure? I have WAY more colourwork in my future.

It's been a long time since I posted, but I've made my way through a few books since then (Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Aislinn Hunter's The World Before Us, Elle Luna's The Crossroads of Should and Must, Jonas Karlsson's The Room: A Novel and Sarah Addison Allen's Garden Spells). They were all various levels of okay, but I'm super excited by the novel I started on Monday, The Birthday Lunch by Joan Clark. Years ago I absolutely LOVED An Audience of Chairs and about 1/4 of the way in, I'm totally compelled by the story and characters. I heart Joan Clark.

For more knitting and reading catch ups, visit Ginny's Yarnalong.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

mystery fun

Test knitting was so much fun that I decided to try something else new from the world of knitting: a Mystery Knitalong! It helped that Annie was hosting, and that her design was inspired by Hole & Sons wool, and that I had some hand-dyed yarn on hand from Annie's friend really, there was no resisting. And again, it was a fantastic experience that I will gladly try again.

The pattern turned out to be a shawl and it's probably the largest lace project I've tackled yet. Breaking the chart into 4 clues kept my fear of big charts in check, and it was a very easy, straightforward lace design (even if I had to re-do multiple rows while at Squam - but that's because I clearly can't knit lace and talk at the same time!). Now that I've blocked the shawl, the lace is quite dreamy and I can't quite believe it's the result of such simple stitches. But that is exactly the magic of lace, and knitting in general, right?

The yarn is pretty scrumptious too. I used Beaverslide Dry Goods Merino, hand-dyed by Ashley of Woolful as part of her Spring Natural Dye Club. The soft yellow immediately reminded me of a longtime friend whose childhood home was painted this very colour, and she's turning 40 in a few days so this shawl felt destined to be hers the moment I started it. 

As for reading, I TOTALLY failed on my Canadian Book Challenge this year. I was supposed to have read 13 Canadian novels by July 1st, and even with the two above I only managed 8. Mme Proust and the Kosher Kitchen was interesting, but slow moving. I wouldn't rush to recommend it, yet there are moments, characters and places that have stuck with me. But All My Puny Sorrows was entirely captivating and it didn't take long to devour. There's something about Miriam Toews writing that just hooks me, even though the struggles she explores are usually far from my own experiences. I appreciate the honesty with which she writes about mental health and I love her depictions of family dynamics. It's a tough, heartfelt story but oh-so-worth the read.

For more tales of knitting and reading, don't forget to visit today's Yarnalong.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

test success

Sometimes when you're really busy, you decide to take on just one more thing. Totally normal, right?

I have never been a test knitter before, but as soon as I saw Annie's sneak peek of this tee pattern on Instagram I threw my name into the ring. And the whole process - from struggling to get gauge, to visiting multiple yarn shops, to racing against the clock before our road trip, to running out of wool on the road trip and magically finding one more ball (which meant one more yarn shop), to weaving in the final end - was SO MUCH FUN. I would happily test knit again, especially for a pattern as awesome as this one.

The pattern is called Morning Mist, now available on Ravelry. It's a summer tee with a lovely lace panel along the back that adds texture and interest. The construction is super simple and although I knit it all in one colour, the pattern actually suggests a contrasting colour for the panel, opening up so many great options. I ended up using Rowan's Wool Cotton, so my tee has a substantial amount of drape because of the weight of the cotton, but it helps pull the sleeve edges down, creating a shape I just love. I only wish I'd had enough wool in one dye lot - I ran out just before the edging, so if you look closely you can tell the edges are a different shade. Live and learn. Oh, but the biggest thing I learned in the whole process? I'm a tight knitter. That's the kind of information that will save me oodles of time in the future.

For my reading update, I'm slowly making my way through Mme. Proust and the Kosher Kitchen, but an arrival today may prove too hard to resist. I swear All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews is calling out to me from the Amazon box. Books can be ruthless that way.

For more tales of knitting and reading, visit today's Yarnalong.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

road trip knitting

Time flies, doesn't it?

We recently went on a road trip to Florida which meant we had roughly 44 hours of driving time. That meant lots and lots of knitting for me (when I wasn't stressing about my navigation duties, that is). It was the part of the trip I was looking forward to the most because otherwise my knitting happens in tiny pockets of time. Hours of uninterrupted knitting was simply amazing. The bulk of what I worked on was a test knit for byAnnieClaire, which I'll share as soon as the pattern is released (pssst: it's lovely and perfect for the summer!). But I also knit up these wristlets, which have become my go-to gift pattern. They are based on Sarah Compton's foliage lace mitts, just without the shaping and thumb gussets. I love the simple lace pattern! We actually stopped in Washington during our drive and I got 20 minutes in a great wool shop called Looped Yarn Works where I happily picked up more of Quince & Co's Tern in this soft gray/blue colourway called Mist. Tern is perfect for these wristlets and it was fun to contain the whole project to the drive, from buying and winding the yarn to weaving in the very last end. It will be my road trip knitting memory, which gets folded into all the other memories of the vacation. All combined, it was a wonderful trip.

I've been dragging my heels a bit on my reading challenge this year. At least in this batch I have two Canadian selections: How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti and Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery. Heti's novel was compelling but for an unusual reason - I actually went to school with one of the fairly-real characters, and although I didn't know her very well, it was strange to read the story without constantly imagining her. I've never had that extra level to deal with and it made the reading experience quite bizarre, though since the storytelling is likely considered experimental autobiography, bizarre is probably bang on. As for the classic Anne of Green Gables, which I had never read, Sadie highly recommended it to me and I'm so glad she did. Anne is charming, the cast of characters playful and endearing and the small town east coast setting was a pure joy. Sadie has the whole Anne set, so I just might move on to Anne of Avonlea next. My one non-Canadian read, Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman, also had a great setting. Following the separate storylines of a grandmother and granddaughter as they live on a sheep farm in rural Tasmania, the sweeping story had great struggles, great loves and a great side story about the wool fashion business the grandmother built from scratch. As a sewer and knitter, what else could I ask for?

For more musings on reading and knitting, visit Ginny's Yarnalong.