Rhinebeck-ining

A house and a car were rented & a gaggle of 5 ladies headed across the border in hot fibery pursuit and to see some friends for a great weekend of fun!

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The house was a beautiful Victorian in Kingston, New York.

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Best of all, there was a huge table that we were all able to gather around.

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We got up early Saturday morning to get to the fair in good time…

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This is the line to enter the fair grounds…at 8:30 am…the gates open at 9am…Once the gates were open, things moved fairly quickly although there was some confusion as to where the pre-paid ticket holders & those who still needed tickets should go.

Once in, I had my list & map set to go (there was a comment about my level of organization being on the level of the Invasion of Normandy). By about 11 am, my shopping list looked like this:

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I take a precision strike team approach to fibre festivals, having the list keeps me on budget as it’s very easy to get overwhelmed & blow your budget at the first booth!

My focus this year was not yarn, I was in search of beautiful hand made tools as I am of the opinion that if you have lovely tools, you will use them more. There is no shortage of makers who are able to supply us with beautiful hand made tools for our pursuits.

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My big purchase was a hand made tapestry loom and some tapestry needles from Stephen Willette.

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I visited Journey Wheel for another spindle.

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Prior to the trip I had reignited my interest in hooked rugs and Rhinebeck was a good place to get supplies as there are at least 5 vendors! I found a complete kit to get me started & purchased 2 more patterns. I busted out the kit as soon as I got home & am making steady progress.

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Some fibre was procured from Into the Whirled & Spinners Hill

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I ran across this massive ball of Herdwick roving!

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Last thing on my list was a Saori Weaving Sewing book!

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So by 11am, my list was complete & I was free to wander the grounds & eat fair food!

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Gary’s Pickles are possibly the BEST Full Sours I’ve had! I may have smuggled a quart back with me… We ran into this lovely Lincoln ewe on her way from the auction to her new home…she was very much having none of it!

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I kept trying to get a photo of this Herdwick, but some odious Hipsters kept trying to get “just the right photo” & wouldn’t move after 15 minutes! That is one of the moron’s hands in my shot! The Herdwick looks about as impressed with them as I was!

After the fair, a few of us trundled off to Jill Draper’s Studio Open House! Which was conveniently located in Kingston, about a 15 minute walk from the house! I picked up some Rifton & 2 skeins of Valkill, which turned out to be the only yarn I bought!

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My friend Leah came this year & it was her first Rhinebeck. I think she had fun..

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until I sternly told her she could not buy more green yarn & encouraged her to buy that gorgeous blue yarn! Which she did.

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And then it was time to head home…through intermittent wet snow.

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It will probably be a few more years before I return to Rhinebeck as there are some new local fleece fairs I want to check out as well as my ultimate goal of Shetland Wool Week.

 

It’s not a new hobby, just a variation on a theme.

Up until the other day all my current knitting projects are shawls & I’m feeling a bit shawl-ed out. All of them are at varying stages of doneness, but working on them was feeling like a slog & I needed something different for a change of pace.

During yet another reorganisation of the Girl Cave, I excavated a huge bag of my early attempts at handspun yarns. Most of it is spindle spun with some early super lumpy wheel spun. There isn’t quite enough of anything in a consistent enough yarn thickness to knit something, so these yarns just sat in this bag, some for 10 years. I was looking for a use for them & figured they would be best used for weft in a weaving project. I considered a rug, but again the inconsistencies of thickness would not work out well & the thinner bits would fray very quickly. I decided to mull things over a bit longer…then I got a newsletter from The Workroom with their new class list & they had added an Intro to Tapestry Weaving class! Unfortunately, it was being held at a time I couldn’t make, an annoying side-effect of working weekends. So, I did what I always do when I can’t make it to a workshop/class to learn a new skill, I looked for tutorials online & in books then assembe a list of supplies.

I had considered using my rigid heddle looms, but after a lot of reading, discovered they are not able to maintain the high degree of warp tension required for tapestry weaving & I didn’t want to risk breaking them. A bunch of tapestry weaving blogs suggested Archie Brennan’s copper pipe looms as being a very good DIY tapestry loom. Being made of copper it is better able to support the higher tension required for tapestry weaving. I printed the plans & headed out to the hardware store…

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Liam even got in on the action!

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After assembling the copper pipe loom, both Liam & I discovered it was a bit heavy & unwieldy. The lack of a drill press to make the holes to put in bolts to stabilize it was also a problem. I was staring to consider just ordering a proper tapestry loom/frame loom from one of the two weaving supply shops in Ontario, turned out both Gemini Fibers & Camilla Valley had just closed for 2 weeks for their Summer breaks. Back to the internet to searched for other DIY Plans for a tapestry loom. MAKEzine’s tutorial to build a lap loom was the second result.

A quick trip to the arts supply store & hardware store, a bit of assembly and 30 minutes of glue drying time & I had a workable lap loom for making small tapestries/wall hangings. I picked up the “gallery stretchers” as they 2” & sturdier than the regular frames. My final size was 24”x16”.

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All that was left was to warp it

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and make with the weaving

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The instructions called for string heddles, but I found using pick-up sticks to be faster especially when I was making the hills since I only needed to pick up some of the warp threads.

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I’ve been puttering away on it for a few weeks & quite enjoying it. Am not using a pattern & just playing it by ear, but I will need to order a proper tapestry beater and some 20” pick-up sticks. I currently have 10” & 30” pickup sticks, which are causing a bit of a Goldilocks situation where they are too small & too big, I need some that are just right. A comb with the handle snapped off is sort of working as a tapestry beater, but not quite.

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Some of the tapestries I came across in my searches were amazing & very inspiring. Am now keeping my eye out for a 2nd hand Leclerc Tissart vertical tapestry loom, so far all the ones I have found for sale are in British Columbia…

Whole lotta Sweaters

It all started back in October while I was giving the Girl Cave a cleaning & moth check. Things were being sorted, purged & what was staying was updated on my Ravelry stash page and linked to a project in my queue. Organization & efficiency was the name of the game!

I had finished my Not Going to Rhinebeck 2014 sweater…290Pattern: Artichoke French

Yarn: Briar Rose Fibers Abundance

and was looking for a NaKniSweMo project…I came across some Lopi I had picked up during one of my LYS’s February Bulky Yarn Sale. The original plan was to knit myself Odinn, but I decided to make a stab at knitting a sweater for Chris. My first attempt was about 10 years ago…it did not end well and we avoided the Boyfriend Sweater Curse only because we were already married…This time things went considerably smoother…although I think Chris was getting annoyed by my constant requests for him to try the sweater on so I could check fit…. 031I really enjoy knitting Lopapeysa and am partial to the yarn made from Icelandic sheep that is used to knit them. As Christmas was bearing down on us and I had promised my Dad a sweater years earlier, I figured it was a good time to get that done & cast on a second Odinn.

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With the help of my sister, I decided to sort of recreate a ski sweater my Dad had bought when he was 16 and my Mum tossed when I was 16. It was the height of Grunge & I had found its well felted & moth holed remains in the depths of a closet. The Sweater was so very Kurt Cobain! My Mum was horrified that I was wearing it & promptly removed the temptation! Some words may have been exchanged when my Dad discovered it had been tossed.

My sister suggested I try to recreate that long lost sweater. My Dad is quite pleased with his sweater even though he didn’t get it till after Christmas due to my coming down with a Cold of Space & Death. I rarely get sick. but when I do, it really wallops me! He has received at least one compliment about it every time he has worn it!

After knitting the same pattern in a row had me looking for a change…but I still needed a sweater as the weather was unseasonably cold…like below -30C (-22F) with wind chill and I had no intentions of leaving the house unless it was for work, school or food!

Antrorse  popped up  in my feed so I picked my honkin’huge skein of Jill Draper’s Mega Empire  in a nice sunny yellow as I refused to knit anything grey in the depths of a deep freeze!

254I am really happy with this sweater, it has a neat construction & I really loved using Jill’s yarn! She buys the entire shearing from shepherds around her neck of the woods in Hudson Valley, New York. The fleece are processed at a local mill and then Jill dyes them! I really love that she is supporting local shepherds as I remember when we were getting fractions of a cent for our fleece in the 80s. The yarn is a bit rustic at first as the mill doesn’t use chemicals to dissolve the vegetable matter in the fleece and will smell a bit sheepy, but that is the kind of yarn I really enjoy working with and it blooms up so nicely after a soak! I picked up some locally made buttons to use on the yoke.

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After Antrerose it was still freaking cold! I had a bunch of left over lopi from Chris’ sweater & there was just enough that I was able to cast on another sweater…technically it’s a lopapeysa…but not really.

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Scatter is a free pattern via Ravelry. My stitches got a bit tight across the chest, but a stern blocking sorted that out. This sweater is knit a bit tighter than it should, but considering how cold it’s been, it makes for a great base layer.

As I’ve knit roughly a sweater a month since October, I’m taking a bit of a break before I hit burnout and dusting off the loom & pulling out the sewing machine.

 

Stitching memories

“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn’t hurt the untroubled spirit either.”
Elizabeth Zimmermann

On March 20th, at the age of 90 we lost my Granma. She had been ill for some time & due to her dementia she had not been the woman I known for a few years. Although her death wasn’t a shock, it was still sad & she was the woman who had taught me how to knit.

I don’t precisely know when she taught me, but I was under 10 & she more than likely did it to get me to sit down & stop asking so many questions! I was/still am curious to the point of utter aggravation for some people. My parents will often comment on my exhausting them with a constant stream of “Why?” as a child.

My Granma was born in Southern Ontario during the inter-war years. As was typical, girls were taught to knit to both clothe their families & it was simply what you did to keep busy in the evening. She once told me how a teacher had encouraged her to enter her knitting for judging at the annual town fair. She refused as the majority of the knitted items had actually been done by the “entrants” mothers. I believe this teacher had been selected to be a judge that year & he recommended a change to the knitting competition, instead of finished items being entered, the girls would all have to show their knitting skills. Am not sure exactly what was required, but it was a live competition so they may have been judged for their evenness of stitches, ability to execute different stitch designs (cables, moss etc) as well as speed. Either way, my Granma agreed to enter and won First prize!

I honestly don’t know how many jumpers, socks, toques, mittens, slippers, baby sets & blankets she knit in her lifetime, but considering she could bang out a man size sweater in a bit over a week, I would say A LOT! Possibly because both my Dad and sister were preemies and she understood the importance of keeping baby’s head warm, she would knit hats for the preemie ward of her local hospital. To say Granma was prolific would be an understatement! She even knit sweaters for my boyfriends but not until we had been dating for at least a year! Chris still has the one she made for him over 15 years ago, she knit it in blue to bring out his eyes. Possibly THE MOST awesome sweater she knit was the infamous Patons Dragon sweater! I believe she knit it for my cousin…and I have the patten book!

473In July of every year she would have the grandchildren look through her Patons pattern booklets and choose 1 or 2 sweaters which she would knit for us to wear back to school in the fall. My favorite sweater she ever knit for me was my Sherbert Sweater, I was possibly in grade 2 or 3 when she made it for me and I wore almost all the time! I have a vague recollection that she added some length as I grew & replaced the cuffs at least twice! Granma’s Sherbert Sweaters are testament to the practicality of knitting top down raglans sweaters for growing kids.  456 Almost 15 years ago, with the rise of the internet and the knitting blog, my on again/off again interest in knitting was re-ignited & I would visit my Granma for her help in figuring out a pattern or technique. For very practical reasons, she always knit with arcylic & I, having grown up on a sheep farm, on principal would only knit with wool! We often ended up agreeing to disagree over yarn choices!

When I was expecting Abi & Liam she knit each of them a receiving set of a bonnet, booties & sweater and as they got a bit older, each received one of her signature Icelandic style yoke sweaters. These would become some of the last knitting she did as her mind started to go.

455When it came time to plan Granma’s funeral, my Dad & sister thought it would be very fitting if people were able to wear their Grandma sweaters. Instead of the typical photo memory board people usually have, we gathered a display of her knitting. As pieces were laid out, I saw just how much of my Granma’s knitting style has influenced mine and is more than likely responsible for my love of Icelandic Yoke sweaters and preference for top-down seamless raglan sweaters.

471This is just a few of the sweaters she made for her family but as is the case with almost all knitters, Granma showed her love for us by wrapping us in her knitting.

 

 

 

Not my regular craft

We all know my default crafts are knitting, sewing, weaving & spinning. They each hold top spot in turn, depending on what wild idea has crossed my mind or article I have stumbled across.

Every so often, I need something different. Don’t get me wrong, I could spend an entire lifetime solely focusing in one just one of those areas (assistant to an experimental archeologist recreating Iron Age textiles comes to mind), but sometimes I want to try something new-ish.

323This bundle I picked up from the instructors of the snowshoe workshop my Mum & I took in November is just such a distraction from my regular maker schedule. A few years ago I took the winter moccasins course with the same couple who taught the snowshoe making course. My Winter moccasins are great, on cold days, but I wanted another pair that were better suited for warmer weather.

Between the pattern in the instruction kit & a few resources on line I was more or less able to make what I have seen called “Scout Moccasins”. I honestly have no idea if this is the proper name for this style or even if this would be considered a traditional moccasin design. I should probably corner one of the First People’s curators/techs (same knowledge, different pay rate) at work & ask them.

If you can stitch a rip, you can make moccasins.

Once you have a pattern for a design you like, moccasins are fairly straight forward shoes to make. Take a few measurements, transfer them to the leather, measure twice but cut the leather once then put in your tacking stitches.

374And start to gather & stitch (you need to use what’s called a Glover’s Needle, they have a 3 sided tapered point & artificial sinew, separate an arm length strand into it’s 3 plies)

376 The left 1/2 of the toe of my moccasin is always much neater than the right 1/2

377Repeat for 2nd moccasin

391I could have stopped here & punched holes for laces around the ankles but I wanted a wrap around the ankle.

My first attempt was….lets just say “ass”.

402I had to rip back the stitching around the wraps….I’m much happier with the final result and they are quite comfortable. I felted one of my spinning batts to use as insoles once the leather stretches a bit more.

432There are a few things I will change for my next pair (like add a crepe rubber sole so I can wear them on paved streets & not destroy the leather), but these are perfectly suitable.

A Raleigh Superbe

I have an as yet to be named new to me bike!

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She’s an early 1970s/late 1960s Raleigh Superbe 3spd. Made in Nottingham, England but found her way to me via kijiji.ca. She was purchased by the previous owner at the Trinity Bellwoods vintage bike show & sale (7th photo down in the post is a picture of my Superbe!) Dandyhorse also has a nice article about the show, one year I hope to actually remember in time to book that day off work! So, after a week of commuting the previous owner found this was not the right bike for her. I can so totally relate to that! Finding your perfect bike is a tricksy business, especially if you are new-ish to bikes. You can read all the reviews, press releases, fancy bike blogs and test ride until your arse is black & blue, but none of that will give you a true sense of a bike till you have ridden it for longer than the roughly 20 minute ’round the block test ride you can take at a store. Unfortunately, there isn’t to my knowledge any sort of bike service like this unless you have a super nice friend who is willing to lend you their bike, so we muddle through as best as we can and hopefully learn a few things along the way.

When I first started looking for a bike I was smitten with the look of the English 3spds, but my lack of bike mechanical knowledge at that time led to my incorrectly thinking a new bike would be less hassle as I was learning how to negotiate city riding…this turned out not to be the case. As with all things, in hindsight, I should have just bought a damn vintage Raleigh from the get go!

Since that first Trek loop-frame bike with the front shocks & 26 gears, I have run through a series of bikes as it took me a while to figure out what I like in a bike. Road bikes, I discovered, are definitely out!  The riding posture is all wrong for me & I feel rather vulnerable on those thin tyres. (By the by, if you know anyone looking to buy a vintage road bike, I have a Norco Avanti that could use a home that will appreciate it!) Through a process of elimination, I discovered I like a nice lugged step-over frame bike with a 3-6 speed internal hub & rear rack for my panniers that allows me to sit comfortably, see where I am going & by consequence allow the observant motorist (yes that is a dig!) see me. In a nut shell, a vintage English 3spd has what I want. These bikes are amazingly stable due to their weight (not too heavy or too light) and a very sturdy build! Like English vintage cars, their mechanics are particular yet straight forward in their maintenance. The Sturmey-Archer internal hub does require a little bit of thought when shifting gears;  you need to stop pedaling, shift gears, then start pedaling again. Not sure why, my Dad could explain it, all I know is that’s how you do it unless you want to rebuild/replace your internal hub.

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My as yet to be named bike is in pretty much original condition (the tyre pump is not stock & am uncertain about the headlamp), she has a few scratches on the paint, but for a 40+year old bike, she rides better than the modern 3spds of  similar design. The grips will need to be replaced & I have already ordered a set of new/old stock (NOS) or what is sometimes called “dead stock” grips via Ebay. The Superbe came with a dynohub that powers a front headlamp & rear light. The electric wires & rear light are missing so I am currently on the hunt. Although, I wonder if my Dad doesn’t have something suitable squirreled away…&  yes, this fascination with English built modes of transportation is most likely a genetic condition of which my Dad & I both suffer, but really let’s be honest, we don’t see it as a fault & it’s our respective partners who are probably the ones suffering by having to put up with us!

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While giving the bike the once over for any serious damage, I noticed the front wheel lock…with the key snapped off in it! Drag! A quick perusal of youtube provided me with a few “how to remove a snapped key” videos & ebay pointed me to a seller in England with NOS blank keys from the Raleigh factory which he can cut to fit the lock! I just have to send him the serial number stamped on the side of the lock! How cool is that?!

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I might add a Handbag Hugger to the front instead of a basket. They just make more sense, look classic & don’t throw off the steering like fully loaded front baskets can. The saddle which is original, is quite cracked so I have replaced it with a similar style saddle I had in the garage.

Vintage English 3 spd bikes have quite a few advocates online, the most well know is Sheldon Brown who sadly died in February 2008. His website, which is still being maintained is an amazing wealth of information for the care & maintenance of your English 3spd along with other cycling information. He was also a huge fan of the Raleigh Twenty  and wrote extensively about them too! Lovely Bicycle has a great review about the Superbe and even more importantly she has a brilliant post with advice for buying a bike on a budget. I recommend reading that post if you are considering buying a bike, as you will end up with a far better quality bike by following her $.02 than if you were to buy a modern 3spd bike.

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Making of a cyclist…

I was going to post a well overdue crafting post as there has been a lot of that going on, but something way more thrilling happened around here just this afternoon…

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LIAM IS ON TWO WHEELS!!!!!

This has been a while in the making. Last Summer we bought him a bike that came with training wheels and he was alternating between “getting it” and being thoroughly frustrated by biking.  This Spring after being teased by a friend (the little jerk!) about still having training wheels on his bike he asked for them to be removed. One fall was all it took for him to decided he didn’t want to learn to ride. I didn’t push the issue, so he found himself scootering along the side walk to school while Abi & I rode our bikes on the road, which frustrated him even more as we could go faster but he refused to ride his bike without the training wheels being put back on.

Instead of putting the training wheels back on, I removed the pedals from his bike, essentially turning his bike into one of those expensive balance bikes. We spent about 2 hours TOTAL putting around the block while Liam figured out his balance, then he asked for the pedals to be put back on…and then he was off…

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He is still a bit wobbly when stopping and starting, but spent a good bit of time riding up and down our street, gaining in confidence then rode around the block.

 

 

Keeping it between the ditches…

Things at Gauhaus are…trying right now…But as I understood one of my Great Grans was to often say, “At least you have you’re health…”, I will also add “and my craft stash, because crafting is what is keeping me between the ditches right now.”

Often when a crafting friend is going through a rough patch the rest of us will ask if they have easy access to cashmere yarn. We don’t ask to take the piss, it’s because we all know that crafting/making is a stress reducer and the meditative effects of  making help us to often come up with solution we wouldn’t have necessarily thought of.  Even CNN has cottoned on to the benefits so, as things are a bit nutty here I’ve found myself on quite the run of making things.

Once the kids are off to school and the chores are done, I have about 3-4 hours of free time on my days off & I have been taking full advantage of that time in front of my sewing machine. Two-ish weeks ago I banged out 4 dresses in a week using a production line process that would have put a smile on Henry Ford’s face. I don’t actually recommend this approach to sewing as I was very much sick of the sight of my machine by the time I had snipped the threads off Dress#4.

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The Dala horse dress is my favourite!

I used The Staple Dress pattern for all 4 dresses, I love this pattern! I didn’t shirr the waists as I can never get it right & end up with a misplaced waist, I also prefer shift style dresses which gives me a bit of flexibility to wear them over jeans or belt them for a fitted look. The only other modification I make is to place the pockets down about an inch from where the  pattern wants them. Most of the dresses have already seen some wear & I have received lots of compliments on them.

A bit of a weaving break happened after this. I warped up the Flip loom with some Wellington Fibers yarn I picked up at the Knitter’s Frolic. After warping, I realized the colors & pattern are a bit Rothko inspired. For the longest time I was not a fan of Rothko until I stumbled across a biography of him which totally changed my perspective & I rather like his work now.

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The shawl is mostly done, I probably need another hour or two to finish it, but I have been distracted by a few more dress patterns & some Frida Kahlo inspired fabric…

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Yeah…They are just gorgeous! The fabric on the right is what prompted the search for a new dress pattern as I want the 14″ tall line of Frida’s along the hem. I knew what pattern I wanted to use, but the fact that it was ALL IN JAPANESE had me a bit nervous, but I needed a challenge to keep my mind from obsessing about everything else that was going on so I tracked down a copy of the pattern book and got to work figuring this all out because this is the pattern page I had to work with:

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Once I had sussed out which pieces I needed, I traced them using Swedish Tracing paper (Love this stuff!) and eventually made a wearable muslin since I didn’t want to mess up my lovely Frida fabric. The dress came together quite quickly considering I made some brainless errors & had to rip a few seams out to resew. I am pleased with it but will make some adjustments to the length of the top before I use the Frida fabric as it comes a bit short on me.

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The blue fabric will be used to make Made By Rae’s new Bianca pattern, which I will lengthen to just below my knees.

This manic burst of productivity has been really, really helpful in keeping me level while life stuff is being sorted out and perhaps one of these craft sessions will result in the perfect solution, but until then I will keep at the stitches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, where were we…

Due to some computer issues (read: it died a fast & furious death. We barely got the files we wanted off it) posting came to a dead stop and now I am so very behind I am seriously considering not trying to play catch up…but then again, this is precisely the time when photo heavy posts are good.

I was on quite a sweater roll for the first bit of the year, it has since dried up like the Sahara…not sure what happened, perhaps it was indecision or the never ending grind of this winter sucking the life out of me either way, it took a bit to find a few projects that I didn’t lose interest in.

January was the MadTosh Golden Wheat Cardi which has seen A LOT of wear, mainly at work where the non knitters I work with were duly impressed that it was handmade. You could almost see the thought process of “that’s really nice, I had no idea patterns like that were available….hmmmm perhaps I should try knitting?”. I still need to get a decent photo of me wearing it.

In February, I knit Strokkur. I’ve been a little obsessed with Iceland for the past few years & hope to visit (or just move there) one day…until such time I will have to occupy myself with knitting Lopapeysa’s…Strokkur is knit using the lighter Lett Lopi which makes for a less bulky sweater than you would get with AlafossLopi (love this yarn too!)

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There is one project I am slowly chipping away at, but as it’s a gift so photos will not be happening. Have no idea when it will be done, but the plan is for Christmas…hopefully before then. This is the yarn pile for it…it’s ALL FINGERING WEIGHT!!! I will be knitting it forever!

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My current transit project is coming along nicely & would be further along if I remembered my headphones more often. I like to listen to audio books and podcasts, specifically CraftLit (it’s the perfect combination of podcast & audiobook) during my commute. This is mainly to prevent people from trying to chat me up, asking how much I would charge to make (fill in the blank) for them or my personal favourite: “why are you wasting your time making something you can just buy for $10”  (answer: because I’m a better person than you are!) during the only time I can sit, knit & listen to a few chapters without interruption by kids, chores or dog.

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Pattern: From Afar

Yarn: Handmaiden Bess

Colourway: possibly Cedar? the labels never list the colour name.

I did manage to finally cast of a near year old project. I have named it “Your Mum Thinks Your Girlfriend Sucks”

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Pattern: Color Affection

The yarn: A sampling of Indigodragonfly Sock yarns.

Colourways: Tiny Bloodsucking Dancer, Sailor Bait: The Official Lipstick of the 2012 Walk of Shame & Slutty Thursday Afternoon Things.

My plan is to get back into a semi regular schedule of updating things, we’ll see how long this lasts…

 

 

 

Button, button, who’s got the button?

Two weeks ago I cast off my Golden Wheat Cardi, ends were sewn in & the sweater was blocked…and then it sat for some time because I didn’t have any suitable buttons…not quite sure how that happened, but there you are. Panicked, I tossed my button bag (realized how non-traditional a button bag was & remedied to fix that!) & came up empty, but did stop to admire my collection of buttons. My preference is for handmade either wooden or porcelain buttons as well as vintage. My parents are very good at keeping an eye out at antique shops & boot sales for sets for me. I am also trying to find out what happened to both my Granmas button jars…

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I searched Etsy, where I found & ordered some lovely vintage buttons,

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but they wouldn’t work with my new cardi. The search continued…luckily Toronto has a Fashion District, sadly it’s not as awesome as it once was, but there is a button store on the South West corner of Spadina & Queen St W. It’s about 4-ish doors west of Spadina and they only take cash (this is important!). It’s a small store but they are packed floor to ceiling with boxes of buttons amongst whom I found some suitable options…

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As I’ll mostly be wearing this at work, I went with the solid black buttons (even though the big hot pink ones were my preferred choice) as I have a Uniform Policy I need to comply with.

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Please excuse the less than stellar loo shot, but my attempt to take the photo in one of the beautiful Art Nouveau mirrors in the European Decorative Arts gallery at work turned out terribly fuzzy

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…and am certain the Gallery Guard was wondering what on earth I was doing , then remembered it was me, so carried on with his rounds…

Once I had my botton situation all sorted, I decided that it was high time I followed that long tradition of having a proper button tin. These tins should be an old Quality Street or Shortbread tin, Mason jars are also acceptable. Fortunately, I picked up a tin of Quality Street over the holidays & after dumping out the leftover Orange & Strawberry cremes (seriously! who eats them?! they are as bad as those Violet Pastilles blegh!) I gathered all my buttons & discovered…I need a second tin already…

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Point of editorial clarity: It appears I was dead wrong about the origins of my Maternal Great Grandmother. My parents called shortly after I wrote my last post to politely enquire which Nan came from Yorkshire then proceeded to explain that I was very wrong. Nan Richardson (nee Perrot sp?) was from Melksham, Wiltshire. Which for those of you with a far superior grasp of the counties of England will know is not even remotely close to Yorkshire & is in fact in the South of England…however my Mum has discovered in her pursuit of the family tree that Nan’s father was imprisoned for sheep stealing (more than likely to feed his large family) which is probably the event that led to my Nan coming to Canada to work as a Domestic at the age of 12 as a Home Child through the Bernardo Homes in England. This particular chapter of history is an interesting and sad one, it speaks volumes about Victorian English society and how they viewed the poor. I could go on for a fairly long time about my opinions of Industrial era child labour, the soul destroying work houses and the arrogance of the upper classes who “knew what the poor needed to set themselves straight”, but that was not the original intention of this…

Side note: In 2009 Australian PM Kevin Rudd & in 2010 British PM Gordon Brown issued formal apologies to the remaining child migrants (home children) & their descendants for the abuses which were suffered & the families separated & tossed to the corners of the Colonies. The Canadian Minister of Immigration Jason Kenny, did not issue a formal apology…we can all guess what I think of him!