Thursday, February 26, 2015

kingsley for a day

Yes, I have a few handknit hats already. But it's darn cold this winter and I needed a tighter, warmer brim (says the knitter looking for a new project). Oh, and I'd been eyeing the Kingsley Hat by Dreareneeknits for a little while and just couldn't resist any longer.

Using Quince & Co's Owl yarn in the lovely Amethyst colourway, the pattern was quick to knit, easy to follow and so far, pretty great to wear. I've found Alpaca itchy before, but not so with this wool/alpaca blend. Though the rustic nature of the wool means the seed stitch pattern is a bit quieter visually, but I quite like the subtlety. And for no clear reason I felt the final hat just needed a dark grey pompom, which my stash came to the rescue for. Stashes are great for that.

On the book front, although I most often share the fiction I'm reading, there are always a few non-fiction books hanging around my bedside. For some reason I'm monogamous with fiction, but not so much with non-fiction. These three represent my current faves: a business book about hiring the right people (Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street), Patti Smith's autobiographical musings (beautifully titled Woolgathering) and Rebecca Solnit's poetic The Faraway Nearby. All three are unfinished, picked up every now and then when the need for business advice, family insight or moments of beauty arises. 

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

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

nordic wondershawl

Over the holidays Ashley at Woolful hosted a knitalong for the Nordic Wind Shawl by cabinfour. The design is simple and the colour palette elegant, so I just couldn't resist joining in (and I highly recommend checking out cabinfour's other patterns - her aesthetic is terrific). The shawl called for Lopi wool which I've never used, so it was also a great chance to go outside my yarn box. On a road trip to Peterborough we found a sweet little shop that carried Istex's Lopi yarn, but I could only find three colours instead of the four required. It was in the bulky weight though, so I reasoned that the heavier weight would go farther. Luckily it did.

Lopi wool is unusual. I expected it to be coarse, but it wasn't really (I actually find Cascade 220 harder on my skin). It's surprisingly light and airy, as though there is a hollow core inside the fibres. It blocked nicely and the colours are so subtle and natural. The finished shawl is super satisfying to wear, but almost more satisfying to see lying on the sofa. Really, it was a perfect mid-winter project and I was a little sad it came together so fast.

Woolful itself has been incredibly inspiring these past few months. It wasn't long ago that I started following Ashley on Instagram, but with each new initiative she shares I get more and more inspired. Suddenly I'm thinking more about my yarn purchases, considering the processing and people behind it, and every week I'm so excited to sit down with my knitting and listen to her wonderful podcast. Each episode includes two casual interviews with fibre artists and businesses. The conversations are insightful, thought-provoking and make my mind buzz with ideas. Podcasts weren't a part of my life before, but now I impatiently wait for Tuesday's newest release. And after watching this video, I had to sign up for Woolful's Spring Natural Dye Club (I cannot wait for that magical delivery!). Ashley is bringing together the fibre community in sincere and wonderful ways, and I'm so thankful to be following her journey.

On the reading front, I finished up Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being. I loved it for so many reasons: the question of time and how you can affect it; Nao's Buddhist nun great-grandmother and her insightful lessons; island living in BC juxtaposed with big city Japanese culture; and Ozeki's innovative approach to bringing it all together. I took my time getting through it, but mainly because I was savouring every turn of events and every windy storm that blew through the island trees. Overall a great pick for the Canadian Book Challenge. And as a light, quick follow-up read, I flew through Sarah Addison Allen's The Sugar Queen. Nothing like some magical realism to indulge in just before Valentine's Day.

For more reading and knitting stories, visit today's Yarnalong. And for an inspiring dose of fibre goodness, check out this week's podcast over at Woolful or on iTunes.