September adventure

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Last week I took off from Toronto and went to visit my sister in Fort St. John, B.C., which is pretty far west and north from me (it’s more-or-less in line with Fort McMurry and almost as far north as Juneau, Alaska). The travel time was a bit crazy, especially since I missed my original flight (which is to say, I missed the baggage cut off, by four minutes, and so while I could board my bag couldn’t, which meant I couldn’t really board, so I had to wait for the next flight. Ugh.) but it gave me lots of knitting and reading time.

Anyway, it was, of course, entirely worth it. I hadn’t seen my sister since May (right before she moved up there), so getting to hang out with her and her boyfriend — and their dog and their cat! — was awesome. That they happen to live in a beautiful part of the country, and that I managed to time my visit perfectly, was really just a bonus. I don’t have any photos of the actual town, but here’s a little tour of the countryside.

View of the Peace River.

View of the Peace River.

I had never seen chipmunks climb grass before!

I had never seen chipmunks climb grass before!

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Charlie Lake.

Charlie Lake.

Tully! He's an Australian Shepherd, incredibly well behaved, and super energetic at 4.5 months old.

Tully! He’s an Australian Shepherd, incredibly well behaved, and super energetic at 4.5 months old.

The view driving into Monkman Provincial Park, in the Central Rocky Mountains.

The view driving into Monkman Provincial Park, in the Central Rocky Mountains.

Kinuseo Falls, from the top (where we had lunch).

Kinuseo Falls, from the top (where we had lunch).

Kinuseo Falls after hiking down to the bottom. They're actually taller than Niagara Falls, though there's less water moving over them.

Kinuseo Falls after hiking down to the bottom. They’re actually taller than Niagara Falls, though there’s less water moving over them. (I took this just before it started to rain, so there are a bunch of photos from that day that have water splotches on them.)

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After the rain.

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View looking back over the mountains toward Tumbler Ridge.

That last photo, of the wind turbines, is a really good explanation of what it was like up there: both wild and completely affected by industry. There’s a lot of mining and oil and gas work, so even when you think you’re somewhere untouched you turn around and see that the side of a hill has been carved up or terraced. It’s a strange dichotomy, but makes for very striking views. Rest assured, if they’re still living there in a year, I’ll for sure go back.

Kelly with green buttons

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When I set out to sew something (which isn’t often, since I don’t have a dedicated space) I plan out how long I think it will take, hit play on whatever Audiobook I’m listening to (this weekend I finished Middlemarch and got back to The Goldfinch) and put my head down. I have been known to forget meals and/or not realize it has gotten dark when sewing, despite all the up-and-down from machine to iron (so much ironing). All of which means the finished garment tends to be accompanied by a stiff neck and a sore back (again, something I don’t notice until I’m finished.)

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This weekend, though, I was pleasantly surprised by how well this skirt — the Kelly Skirt by Meghan Nielsen came together. For starters, to mitigate the back/neck pain and also make time to leave the house, I spread the process out. I don’t know where I got the idea that sewing had to be a one-day affair, but realizing I don’t need to finish something in one sitting has been really liberating. I traced the pattern and cut my fabric on Friday, did the sewing on Saturday (several hours spread out over the whole day), and sewed on the buttons yesterday. Not only did spread the process out mean I didn’t end up stiff and sore, but I’m pretty sure it led directly to a nicer looking (and better constructed and finished) skirt.

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I made the straight size medium, with my only deviation from the pattern being that I only had six of the vintage green buttons, so on the waistband, in place of the second button, I used a hook and eye. I don’t see myself wearing this without a belt, so I don’t think it’s a big deal. This fits really well with just a t-shirt tucked in, and is definitely easy to wear — I think it will even suit tights as the weather gets cooler.

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I’m not 100% sure about the shape on me, but I think that’s something I could fix by shortening the waistband and adding maybe a half-inch of ease to the skirt. I might also add a couple of inches to the hem, to bring the skirt to just above the knee. I’m thinking about making a second version using the grey-blue cotton/linen fabric I bought in California. What do you think? Is the Kelly skirt worth a round 2?

I'm including this hilarious photos because even though who knows what I'm doing with my arms (mid-stretch? Too much Top Model in my undergrad days?) it's a decent angle on the skirt.

I’m including this hilarious photos because even though who knows what I’m doing with my arms (mid-stretch? Too much Top Model in my undergrad days?) it’s a decent angle on the skirt.

(If you’re curious, I managed to get a fair amount of knitting time this weekend too. I’m an inch from finishing the body increases on Stasis, which puts me very, very close to joining the arms.)

There’s something in the air

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I’m not sure why, but even though neither L or I experience back-to-school anymore, this time of year is always hectic and disorganized, with a what feels like 80 things happening all in different places, all crammed into the same small window of time. I think we’re at the edge of it now, but wow.

Anyway, thank goodness for knitting, you know? It’s hardly a new observation to say that it really is soothing, but I definitely notice it most when my knitting feels like a calm little retreat. Of course, with so much on the go I didn’t feel like I’d been making much progress on anything, but then I pulled out my WIPs and things are looking okay.

Here’s what has been keeping me calm over the last two weeks.

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Stasis, of course. I’m just about to start the body decreases, which means I’m about six inches from joining the arms and then working the yoke. I have this crazy plan that this weekend I can sew myself a skirt (this one) and knit this up to the armscye. We shall see.

betula2After barely touching my Betula socks since we got back from California, I picked them up two weekends ago. They’re great travel knitting (as I said before) and were perfect for the long drives and train rides that characterized our last two weekends. I can only assume my ambitious plans from this weekend are due to my lack of at-home downtime this summer. (I don’t know about your summer weekends, but mine tend to book up pretty quickly. This will be my first weekend in ages that I get to spend at home with only my own whims to direct it. I can’t wait.) 

Anyway. Betula remains totally enchanting. I’m half-way through the gusset decreases on the second sock, so once I get a chance to pick them back up they’ll fly right off the needles I’m sure. (I have another trip in a couple of weeks — details to come, but it’s fun — so if they aren’t done before that, they’ll for sure be finished after it).

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Surprise! I cast on this hat a few weeks ago because every year I decide I’ll start my holiday knitting in the summer and every year I don’t (and then every holiday season I chastise myself for it). I could see that cycle was happening again this year, so I wound up the two skeins of Swans Island DK I picked up in Nova Scotia in the spring and cast on for L’s annual hat. This is Brig again, but I knit the smallest size this time, on a smaller needle, and the fit is perfect (he just tried it on so I’d know whether I needed to re-knit it, but it’s going to be tucked away now). The smaller needle meant my row gauge was tighter, so despite only starting the decreases 1/4 inch earlier, the overall hat is about 2.5 inches shorter, which means no fold-up brim. I offered to rip back the top and knit it longer, but L says he likes it as is, so I’m leaving it (perhaps there’s a third iteration of this pattern in my future?)

So there you have it. I’m slowly getting my routine back, and with that will come more regular posts (and, hopefully, more regular finished things to post about!) 

 

Stasis

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A month ago, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to participate in this year’s Summer Sweater KAL (sskal), but then Cassy signed on, and Shannon made a point of saying WIPs would count, and Stasis was sitting there sort of half-begun, and I caved. All my other August knitting plans got shoved aside modified and I picked Stasis back up.

I knit the sleeves two at a time, so they're a perfect match. They're also finished, which is a pretty nice feeling.

I knit the sleeves two at a time, so they’re a perfect match. They’re also finished, which is a pretty nice feeling.

There were a few other factors behind my decision, of course. A big one (the biggest one?) was the weather. This has not been a very warm summer, and after the horrible cold of last winter, and the promise of another very cold winter this year, adding another sweater to my wardrobe is just smart. I also remember very keenly how much I wanted to cast on this yarn when it arrived last fall, and the thought of being able to wear it this fall is very appealing. Also, frankly, this KAL forces me to get my act together and focus. By the end of the summer, as life starts to fall back into routine, I find myself wanting to cast on all the things (despite having a pile of WIPs that ought to get some attention). Last year, despite a bunch of distraction, the KAL kept me from getting too side-tracked, and meant Burrard got finished before the cold weather moved in (and before my holiday knitting started).

I'm just a few rows into the waist decreases, but so far so good on the body portion.

I’m just a few rows into the waist decreases, but so far so good on the body portion.

I’m still working on a few other things in the background (a monogamous knitter I may never be), but Stasis is growing, and I am really excited to wear it. I guess that’s the other sskal bonus: not only will I end up with a finished sweater, but now there’s a reason to look forward to the cooler weather (I love fall as much as the next knitter, but the winter that follows? Definitely not as exciting).

California stash expansion

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I always seem to buy yarn while on holiday. In much the same way as what I knit on vacation will forever remind me of that holiday when I wear/use it later, so too does yarn bought while away stay tied to that place. For that reason, I decided that on this trip I wasn’t going to buy anything I could get on the ground in Toronto. I also wanted to try and buy with projects in mind (even if they’re as general as this would be good for a shawl), which forced me to pay as much attention to yardage as to colour, and (hopefully) means I’ve come out of this trip with yarn I can make good use of.

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Our first stop was A Verb for Keeping Warm in Oakland. I don’t remember when I first heard about Verb, but it has popped up on blogs with enough frequency over the last several years to make it the one shop I wanted to make sure we went to. L, always happy to explore off-the-beaten-track placed, was happy to make a detour to Oakland, a city people actively tried to dissuade us from visiting. We visited Berkley in the morning and then walked to Verb.

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One of the things I knew I wanted to get was yarn to knit L a new pair of gloves. His old ones have had a good life, but there’s no way they can handle another winter, and after knitting Grace I thought Quince & Co. would be a good choice for new ones (though in the slightly heavier Chickadee). Verb had a great selection of colours, and after L chose what he wanted he left (there was a great café next to the shop) and I stayed to poke around some more.

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I could have spend quite a long time in Verb, but I was overwhelmed by the choices and conscious that L was waiting (he actually came in after reading for a while because he thought he might have to do some damage control! Haha).

I really liked the way the shop was laid out, with yarn in the front third and fabric in the back. There were a ton of samples, and I really liked the display rack, which both helped to divide up the shop and let you get a sense of how the various yarns knit up. There were also lots of Judys around, dressed in a combination of knit and sewn garments, which definitely inspired me to think more about the shop’s Seam Allowance ideal of making 25% of your wardrobe.

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Quince & Co. Chickadee in Winesap and Slate, and some lovely fabric! (I sewed my dress before I took these photos, so that double gauze is just the leftovers.)

In addition to the wool for L’s gloves, I picked up the Endless Summer Tunic pattern and some fabric: the double-gauze I used to make my Endless Summer Dress, a grey-blue cotton and hemp, and some 6.5 oz denim (destined to become this skirt, I think).

The other LYS we visited was ImagiKnit. I don’t like to push too much yarn shopping on L since it’s his vacation too, but ImagiKnit was pretty close to where we were staying, so on our last morning in San Francisco we decided to walk over after breakfast (this involved climbing/descending several huge hills, but it was totally worth it).

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What a great shop! ImagiKnit is huge — its two big rooms are filled, floor to ceiling, with yarn. The first room is all animal fibres and the second is all plant and man-made fibres, and both rooms are organized like a clock, with the thickest yarn at 12 o’clock (the front windows) and then getting thinner as you walk clockwise. Genius! I walked around and around, trying to take in everything, but it was a little shelf at the back that really caught my eye, since it housed all the locally dyed yarns.

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There were also a few baskets of yarn on the counter that drew me in. The owner said she had recently been to the Malabrigo warehouse/factory in Uruguay and picked up some experimental yarn. It looked just like barber-pole handspun, and was so gorgeous (and so unavailable anywhere else) that I couldn’t resist.

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Top: Aurora Yarns Acquerello Middle: Quince & Co. Chickadee in Slate and Winesap Bottom: Malabrigo Dos OOAK, and Tactile Fiber Arts Bolinas Sock in Spruce.

My total haul wasn’t too bad, really: three skeins of Quince & Co. Chickadee (for L’s gloves); two skeins of Tactile Fiber Arts Bolinas Sock, a fingering-weight BFL dyed in the Bay Area, in Spruce (for a shawl); a skein of Aurora Yarns Aquerello, hand-painted in Moss Beach (definitely for socks); and two skeins of one-of-a-kind Malabrigo Dos (who knows what this for — I’ll figure something out). All in all, some pretty excellent souvenirs I think!

Endless Summer

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I know I should write the post about the California LYSs I visited (this is sort of like a prelude), but I feel like it has been ages since I posted anything finished (or, it had been before my Summer Skyps), so this dress is jumping the queue.

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I have done a lot of sewing this summer and, as can be the way when you’re learning something new, I haven’t been very successful. I have sewed a half-dozen tops that are just blah, and it has been discouraging. (I should note that is probably as much due to my poor choice of patterns as it is to my skills. My last few tops have been pretty well made, but are unflattering, so can be donated rather than tossed out.) But, I believe in perseverance, and I know better than to be hard on myself about being a beginner. Even though I would consider most of my July projects failures, they all gave me the opportunity to practice new skills and get more comfortable at my machine, and that isn’t wasted time.

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Which leads me to this dress. It’s the Endless Summer Tunic from A Verb for Keeping Warm, and I picked up both the pattern and the fabric while I was there (yes, I copied their example exactly. I wasn’t going to, but then I couldn’t resist). I had already been thinking about trying the pattern out, but what sealed the deal for me was that Verb had it made up in every size, so I could actually try them on to determine both whether it was as flattering style and what size to make. The pattern itself is relatively simple, so I wasn’t too worried about the execution.

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I am really happy with this dress. It’s all wrinkled in these photos because we took these in the afternoon and I wore it all morning, but I just don’t care. The style is easy to wear, and I will certainly be able to wear it work, since my office is pretty casual.

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To make it a dress, I added three inches to the length (below the pocket marks). Wearing it with a belt definitely shortens it a bit, so I might add another inch (above the pocket mark, I think, so they end up in the right place) next time. I actually left the pockets out of this version, since the double-gauze I used just didn’t seem robust enough to make pockets I’d actually be able to use, but I’m dreaming about another version in Liberty (this leafy one, I think) and it will definitely feature pockets. I like the idea of having a more fall version of this, and a darker fabric will look better with tights I think.

So, what do you think? Is it worth making another one? How to you handle disappointing FOs?

Summer Skyps!

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One of my favourite things about vacation knitting is that whatever project(s) I take along will forever remind me of the trip and when and where I worked on them. Even if these socks weren’t the exact colours of Big Sur, they will always remind me of beach knitting and the drive down the California coast.

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I bought this yarn last spring with no real plan, and it’s one of the skeins I singled out at the beginning of the year as destined to become all the time, not-too-fancy socks. This is my fifth pair of whenever socks this year (though only the second to come from that original pile of yarn) and I’m quite pleased with them. Pulling them on in the middle of winter will be a nice reminder that the cold doesn’t last forever.

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I’ve knit this pattern before, so I don’t have much (new) to say about it. It’s a nice, simple pattern — a little more interesting than basic ribbing, but plain enough to pick up and put down, or knit without looking. Looking back at my last pair, I realized that I knit them almost exactly a year ago, on our trip to Boston, so they are a tried-and-true one-the-road pattern.

 

Details
Pattern: Simple Skyp Socks
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay Alegria in #A9537
Needles: 2.5mm
Notes: Not much to report, really. Like last time, I split for the heel so that I maintained a purl stitch on either side of the instep, which keeps the pattern centred down the foot. I knit the heels a little deeper this time (34 rows) and stopped the pattern 1/4 of an inch earlier, to make the toe a little longer. I was also really surprised/pleased with how the yarn striped up, so to maintain that I used the other end of the skein for the heel flap. I also purposefully tried to mirror the pooling around the ankles (caused by the gussets) and think it worked out pretty well. Ravelled here.

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