Tag Archives: Fleece Artist

A trick of the light

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So, I conquered the mitten. I’ll tell you all about it later, but suffice to say it involved graph paper, ripping, laddering down to repair colour order, and some neck strain. However, as you will see, it was worth it. But that’s not what this is about. This is about the shawl.

This is a gratuitous leaf photo because I’m excited about fall.

Last week, before the mitten waved its stranded little palm at me, I was going to knit a shawl. Anyway, I was all over the place and couldn’t choose a pattern and it turns out that the problem was just that I hadn’t found Oaklet yet. Luckily for me, Kristen saw it and, when my plea went up, she thought of me, and bam. I made myself finish the first mitten before I cast on, though, and then I spent a chunk of Sunday gloriously knitting nothing but stockinette and eyelets and it was just what my mind and shoulders needed.

And then I looked down at what I was knitting and I wasn’t so sure anymore. The thing is, I was originally planning to alternate between the two skeins, so when I cast on, I didn’t pay any attention to which ball I was using. Then, though, after inspecting the pattern a little further, I saw that I actually only needed 350 yds (the amount in one skein) and decided not to bother alternating because that would be annoying both now and later, when I will probably use the second skein to make socks (maybe these ones). So, my plan changed, I kept knitting, not thinking about what I was doing, and then I looked down and realized I should really start planning ahead better.

See these two skeins (the smaller one on the left is the one I’m knitting from). See how the one on the right has all these purples and greens laced through the brown? See how the one on the left (the one that I’m knitting from) doesn’t? Yeah. I didn’t see it right away either, but when I realized it, it did explain why my shawl looked more, well, Earthy than I had expected. Here it is:

I’m about two-thirds of the way through the stockinette/eyelet portion

When I realized my mistake (namely, that the skein I feel would work best as a shawl turned out to be the one I wasn’t using for a shawl) my immediate reaction was that I needed to rip it back and start over. I wasn’t totally crazy about the way the dark colours are pooling, and it was very brown, and it just wasn’t the shawl I’d been picturing in my head. That is, it wasn’t when it was in the house. When I took it outside to get a nice photo to show you all and ask your opinion, a strange thing happened: I started to see flecks of green and purple and shades I liked.

To be clear: I’m still not totally crazy about the way the dark colours pooled over the shorter rows (I’m also not sure it would be any different with the other skein), but seeing the shawl outside did change my perception of its colours. Honestly, I was in the 100% going to rip this camp until I took these photos. Yes, I was probably dazzled by the fall colours, but I will be wearing clothes with this shawl, so presumably they will bring out some of these same colours, right?

So, unless you think I’m setting myself up for a shawl I’ll be only mostly happy with (it may just be that I subconsciously don’t want to rip), I think I’ll keep going and see how it turns out. Thoughts? (You and I both have time to think about it since my week is dedicated to the second mitten, about which, more later.)

Indecision

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It’s fall. Even though it has been a few years, fall always feels like the start of a new year and, thanks to years and years of back-to-school shopping, it also feels like time to overhaul my wardrobe. Not that anything much changes, but it is one of the few times of year I don’t feel guilty spending some money on new clothes.

As a knitter, fall is also the time of year when my needles start to get itchy. Suddenly, a million projects flood my imagination and it seems I can’t cast on quickly enough. Usually, that’s no problem, but this year, I can’t quite seem to find my groove. Partly this is because my knitting for the shop has taken up time that would otherwise be used for personal knitting. Partly it’s also because I stil haven’t cast on the wedding mittens I swatched for weeks ago, and I’m feeling a little guilty about that. Mostly, though, I think it’s because I can’t find the perfect project for the yarn I want to use.

These two skeins come in at about 710 yards, which should be almost enough to knit whatever I want.

The more I look at the Fleece Artist Earth, the more I want it snuggled up around my neck. I thought for a while it could be socks. But no. I want it to be a shawl or scarf or cowl. And honestly, I want it yesterday. I wear a ton of blue, and the browns and greens and almost-purples that ripple through this colourway are made for my wardrobe. Plus, how perfectly fall is that colourway?

The trouble, though, is that I can’t find the perfect something, and I’m in too much of a hurry to design something myself (although I do sometimes lie in bed at night envisioning what I will do with this yarn if something better doesn’t come along.)

What I’m saying is: I need help. I need help picking a pattern, because I really want need to cast this on soon. I can’t believe how antsy it’s making me. Usually, I am a pro at waiting for things, and delaying my satisfaction, but not this time. (I suspect this is due both to the cooling temperatures and the fact that working in a yarn shop and wearing my knitwear all the time have combined to make me crazy.)

So, here’s what I’m looking for: Something with some interest (lace, eyelets, slipped stitches, whatever) but that won’t demand my full attention for the entire time I’m knitting. It also needs to work with a very variegated yarn, so lacy-lacy is out – I’m thinking something with a stockinette or garter middle, and fancy edges. I would also like it to be long enough to wear as a scarf/kerchief under a jacket. I don’t really think this is too much to ask.

Anyway, here’s what I’ve narrowed it down to:

  • Of the Moon – has potential because the samples are all knit in variegated yarns, and it’s customizable in size, but the font of the pattern is crazy annoying to read.
  • Damson – I suspect this would work, but I also wonder if I should maybe save this for the purple Handmaiden Casbah that I bought. Tricky.
  • Shark Tooth – I like the body of this shawl, but not the titular teeth along the top edge. Maybe I can work a little modification in there?
  • Multnomah – Simple, basic, with a feather and fan lace edge. I’ve come back to this one several times, but I’m still not sure.
  • Simple Things – I like this, but it’s also very similar to Doublish, and I’d like a little variation in my wardrobe. Also, I have two skeins of the Fleece Artist, so I feel I should save this for something pretty that I only have one skein of
  • Surprise entry: Woodstack – yes, it’s a cowl, but it sits more or less the way I like my shawls to sit, and knitting with the Fleece Artist held double would solve any skein matching issues. I am almost prepared to give up my shawl dream for this. Almost.

Okay, there’s my list. What do you think? Have you knit any of these? Do you have a pattern that’s perfect for variegated fingering-weight yarn? Help an antsy knitter out.

Yarn crawl

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I have had a rough couple of days, which involved my computer crashing and my hard drive needing to be erased, and well, the only way I know to solve that kind of stress is knitting. So let’s talk yarn, shall we?

As you know, I packed the Spruce Jaywalkers plus an insurance skein of Indigodragonfly as trip knitting. This was more than enough wool to see me through my trip, but I’ll admit to leaving a little extra room in the top of my bag for one or two skeins of souvenir wool – something I wouldn’t be able to get in Toronto.

This was the plan, and it lasted for a whole day. On Day 1, we drove to Baddeck. Baadeck Yarns was closed, so I didn’t buy wool. Instead, L and I went out for a nice dinner and walked around the town, and then holed up in our room to watch a movie (we were both exhausted). I had cast on the Spruce Jaywalkers on the plane, but because I drove from the airport, there wasn’t much done. I knit, we watched silly TV – nothing crazy.

The next day, we left Baddeck and headed north to the Cape Breton Highlands National Post. L drove, so I knit on my socks. Then we passed a sign that said something like “viewpoint: 500m.” We turned a corner, and sure enough, there was a great view (this happens pretty much nonstop on the Cabot Trail, just so you know). We saw a little parking area to the right and decided to pull off and take a picture. We got out of the car, and I glanced up at the sign in the parking lot and, well, I saw this:

I swear I didn’t notice the sheep sign when we pulled in.

I decided to just pop in and see what they had. You know, be polite. After all, we were in their parking lot, intending to stand on their picnic table to take a picture; it seemed rude not to at least make a casual perusal of their wares. That’s when I saw the yarn. Lots and lots of yarn. 2-ply, worsted-weight, milled in PEI at MacAusland’s Woollen Mills from Maritime sheep, yarn, for $4.50 a skein. Casually (by which I mean, after picking up and putting down a half-dozen skeins and exclaiming about the colours) I asked about the yardage. At $4.50, I figured it had to be paltry. Nope: 200 yds per. At $4.50. I bought a sweater’s worth.

Originally, I was going to get a dark blue, but then L pointed out that I always wear blue, and I looked down at my outfit ready to contradict him and realized I was, indeed, wearing all blue. I think green is a nice spice up.

We got back on the road, and, as you know, had a lovely time camping. That yarn, though – well, I thought about that yarn a lot. I went through my mental catalogue of sweater patterns I’ve been wanting to make, and I narrowed it down to two. During the more painful hikes (and I was in pain), I’m a little embarrassed to say that thinking about that yarn and what I was going to knit with it distracted me enough to get me through. Should I knit the Shapely Boyfriend, for which I had enough wool in the car, or should I stop in on the way back and pick up the skeins necessary to knit Kate Davies’ Bláithín?

Look at me, knitting my Spruce Jaywalkers, not even thinking about the yarn in the car. So dedicated.

 

The morning we left the park, we stopped in a Tim Horton’s for coffee and I made L look at the two sweaters and tell me what he thought. His solution: buy the extra skeins since it’s cheap and decide later. The man is a genius.

I am pretty much sold on Bláithín now, I must say.

Despite this windfall of lovely (and affordable!) yarn, I still wanted to stop in at Baadeck Yarns. I was so beside myself that I forgot to take a picture, but trust me, it’s a woolly heaven. Pat carries everything you could ever want, but because I was on a mission to find yarns I couldn’t get in Toronto, I went for the Handmaiden custom colourways. The Handmaiden is the daughter of the Fleece Artist (who is based in Cape Breton) and let me just say, an eye for colour runs in the family. I splurged. I bought three skeins of Casbah (a merino, cashmere, nylon blend in a fingering weight). I figured that for all in all (considering my super deal on the PEI wool), I was doing okay.

Two skeins of Lupin, which is enough to make almost any shawl I want, plus a skein in Bras d’Or Lakes, which will become socks, probably for my mum.

By the time I got to Gaspereau Valley Fibres, though, I was starting to feel a little guilty about the money I’d spent. I mean, I work in a yarn store, so maybe all of this was a little excessive? I went in and was immediately overwhelmed. They had so much Fleece Artist. And so much new stuff in general. Honestly, I couldn’t choose and after making a tour and touching a lot of wool, I left empty-handed. The next day, though, I was feeling a little incomplete (and also maybe a little ridiculous). There had been a basket of Fleece Artist Merino 2/6, a 100% superwash merino sock yarn, in this beautiful mottled brown and copper colourway, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I was convinced it was going to be gone by the time we got back, but I decided we should go anyway, just in case.

Gaspereau Valley Fibre’s designated greeter.

It was there. Three skeins, and it was even lovelier than I had remembered. I asked Manda, the manager, what colourway she thought it was and, based on the colourcard, we estimated Earth. Well, that sold me. I bought two skeins, which are slightly different, but if alternated should be fairly seamless. I’m thinking about a shawl.

Honestly, how could I pass this up?

All in all, it’s quite a hall, and my stash has officially reached a critical point (it is overflowing its containment area). Honestly, though, I don’t care. I mean, look at this! And all wool that was a now-or-never purchase, and that I have tentative plans for. So no worries.

Samya looks skeptical, but I think that’s because I stole her bench.

August? Paging August.

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I don’t know how it is where you are, but over here I’m a little disoriented. I mean, it was just July wasn’t it? What the heck happened to the last month? This was how I felt about November and March when I was at university – two months that were so jam-packed that they sucked up your life and didn’t spit it out again until you were already on the other side.

That’s when I realized where August went: work. All month, I’ve been working two jobs. I’ve been in the shop or doing shop stuff in the morning, and then come early afternoon I get ready and head off to the Post, where I stay until it’s too late to do anything but go to sleep when I get home. My weekends, while mostly work-free, have also been full. It has been a month of fun and learning and newness, but definitely not a month I would describe as restful. Clearly, this calls for a holiday, and lucky me, tomorrow L and I are getting on a plane and heading east: Nine days in Nova Scotia. Oh heck yes.

We’re going to spend the first four days in Cape Breton, hiking and camping and (hopefully) visiting Baadeck Yarns (I’ve already planted this seed in L’s ear, so he’s prepared). After that, it’s back to the Annapolis Valley for five days of hanging out at my parents’, visiting friends, and being relaxed. There will be sight-seeing, there will be friend-visiting and shopping and all that, but there will also be free time, and unscheduled hours, and oh my gosh, I cannot wait! (Yes, yes, there will be blogging too.)

Because of the camping portion of the trip, packing is a little trickier this time than it was the last time I went. Nonetheless, there will be room to bring some knitting with me, and also to bring some wool home with (we all know what happened last time I went home, after all).

This is a very accurate depiction of the colours in these socks. I love them. I wouldn’t even rip this back (despite my Jaywalker desire) if I wasn’t already feeling they were going to be to big. Sort of serendipitous really.

I am bringing my Fleece Artist Spruce Socks – which I cast on as regular socks and, despite being three inches in, have ripped back so they can become the Jaywalkers they want to be – and something else as-yet undecided. I can’t bring the Christmas socks, because my sister will be visiting home at the same time we’re there. I was planning to bring the wedding mitts, but the yarn still looks like this and I’m not sure I’ll have time to wind to before we leave.

This will be mittens. It will. I’ll wind it just as soon as I’m home.

I feel fairly confident that the Spruce Socks will take more than a week, but there’s a lot of driving and flying built into this trip (L and I will split the driving though) and I don’t want to run out. Considering my yarn-buying plans, this seems like a silly worry, but still, I think I’ll pack an emergency skein just in case. The only question is, where to put it?

One thing I will definitely find room for (and, let’s be honest, I will definitely fit in that extra wool) is my finished Georgian Bay shawl. I cast on in the car on the way to Tobermory the first time we went this summer, knit on it for four days, got home, and promptly got distracted (we talked about busyness, yes?). The weekend of the baby shower, though, I was so filled with productive glee (read: caffeine) that I stayed up and finished it. That was two weeks ago, but since we were going back to Tobermory, it seemed only right to take pictures in the place it was meant for.

This is kind of a little shawl, I admit, but under a light sweater or jacket it’s perfect. I already want to make another one (though maybe slightly larger).

While it’s slightly smaller than I’d choose (dear self: go up a needle size; just figure it out already), I love it. I love the colour, I love how soft the wool is, I love the eyelets, I love it. I was convinced I wasn’t a triangle-shawl person, but I take it back.

Details
Pattern: Doublish, by Alex Tinsley
Yarn: Madeline Tosh Merino Light in Nebula
Needles: 3.25 mm Addi lace circulars
Modifications: None! I can hardly believe it either. It’s ravelled here if you’re into that sort of thing.

I bought two skeins of Nebula because I was worried about yardage (I am always worried about yardage, but the pattern was pretty specific on this point) and have an entire unwound skein leftover. I was thinking about exchanging it for another colour – unless you have a better idea?

Everyone is swatching for the weekend

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No? Just me? Oh. Well. I guess when you’re wrapped up in something it feels like everyone else is too. What am I swatching? Ah, glad you asked. (Also, I’m sorry if that title was an earworm for you. I’ve had that song stuck in my head ever since I heard Loverboy was somehow back on tour with Journey and Pat Benatar of all acts.)

So, first some business: if you are my sister or a friend getting married this fall, stop reading immediately and go find yourself some other entertainment. I love you both, but go away for now.

Anyway, where were we? Right, swatching. I actually hate swatching for things. When I have a new project in front of me, all I want to do it start in on it right away, and swatching seems like such a drag. But, when I’m making things to be given away, I swatch. (I didn’t actually swatch the baby sweater, due to time crunch, but it turned out pretty well anyway.)

Up first is Daphne, one of Cookie A.’s new sock patterns. I am in love. In love. I am going to knit these for my sister for Christmas, and I’m going to try and get them started now because I just want to feel like I’m being proactive. I’m going to knit them in Indigodragonfly Merino Silk 4 ply Sock, which is equal parts superwash merino and silk and very luxurious and smooth and soft and just the sort of yarn that will make my sister squeal when she opens them (I hope). Colourway: Don’t you have an elsewhere to be? (Cordelia). Man I love their colourways.

Swatched on 2.75 mm needles, for 8 stitches = 1 inch.

I don’t normally swatch socks because I knit so many, but there’s a lot of silk in this yarn and I just wanted to make sure it was going to behave like I thought it would. It totally does.

My other swatch project is for mittens, which will be a bridal gift for my friend who is getting married this fall. She has much smaller hands than I do, but it’s a lovely charted Norwegian pattern, so I can’t really fudge the stitch count. This is the reason I swatch, but also why I hate swatching. So far I’m on my third needle size, trying desperately to get gauge and failing. Somehow (and I’m not sure how), it makes no difference to this wool whether I knit with 2.5 mm or 2.75 mm needles. My gauge remains 18 stitches = 2 inches, which is exactly three stitches too many. Sigh. I’m on to 3.5 mm needles now, but I have a sneaking suspicion that will put me over, causing me to tear around Toronto looking for the illusive 3 mm dpn.

Swatch in progress. Grr.

BUT, that won’t be this weekend, because even though I’m swatching like mad, tomorrow L and I are heading back to Tobermory (to a different cottage) and I am bringing socks. Remember these?

Leftover socks! Still leftover, but almost done.

Yeah, they haven’t changed much.I’m about to divide for the heel on sock two, and I suspect that the 5-hour drive will go a long way to seeing them on their way to done. Since that will leave me with the rest of the weekend and the return drive, I am also bringing this (from my little shopping spree).

Fleece Artist BFL sock in Spruce. It’s a mix of dark green, dark blue, lighter green, and yellow. Should be interesting.

If it starts to stripe while I’m knitting the cuff, it might become Jaywalkers; if not, plain socks it is! I can’t wait to see how it knits up.

Yarn accident

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Since I started knitting a little over a year and a half ago (oh sure, I learned when I was 8, but I’m not counting that) I have been accumulating a stash. This has absolutely not been by design. When I was first learning and heard/read stories about knitters with entire closets or even rooms dedicated to yarn, I was astounded. Not because I think it’s a waste of space (no one with as many books as I have could cast aspersions on anyone else’s use of space), but simply because I couldn’t imagine buying that much yarn without having a plan to use it.

Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 in Blackberry

That, of course, was where I was wrong. At least in my case, I almost always have some sort of plan in the back of my head when I buy yarn. Sometimes it’s something really specific, sometimes it’s a little looser, but usually I have an idea in there lurking and then I see the yarn and the two come together and, bam, purchase. Sometimes, I’ll admit, I’m just enchanted by the colour, but so far, that’s more the exception than the rule.

Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 in Nova Scotia

Still, I’ve managed to accumulate a little stash. It isn’t huge, but it’s there, and I could happily knit from it for months (I am a slowish knitter, which helps). It was all going well too, until a couple of weeks ago when I had what might be called a yarn accident. I was at work, just browsing the Internet during some downtime, when I stumbled across Colorsong Yarn (warning: very tempting site), purveyors of Fleece Artist and Hand Maiden yarns. I should have known I was sunk. I am a sucker for both gorgeous colours and things tied to Nova Scotia (my home province), and these dyers are a double whammy.

Fleece Artist BFL socks in Blomidon

I thought, at first, that I was just going to look. And I did. I looked and looked and looked. But I didn’t buy anything. Instead, I tucked a few colourways into my memory and left the site before anything dangerous happened. When I was still thinking about it the next day, I knew I was in trouble. I thought that, maybe like a food craving, just having another look would satisfy me, but no. Instead, that little look resulted in me buying five skeins of Fleece Artist sock yarn (three BFL sock, two Merino fingering) – after all, with shipping costs, you have to make it worth it, right?

Fleece Artist BFL sock in Spruce

I almost never shop online. Sometimes I buy books online that I can’t find in my local independent bookshop, but generally, I avoid Internet shopping for two big reasons: 1) I like to support local businesses, and 2) I can’t really tell how much I’m getting. I know that sounds silly, but I’m serious. Five skeins of sock yarn on the Internet? Nothing. Five skeins of sock yarn when I’m in my LYS and all I have to put my purchase in is my purse because I’m on my bike and a bag won’t do? Too much – I’ll hem and haw and then whittle my choice down to one (or, maybe, two).

Fleece Artist BFL sock in Seafoam

The package arrived on Friday, and even though I’ve been feeling a little guilty about the purchase, the excitement I felt when I saw it made me feel like I’d done the right thing. I cannot wait to knit these into things (probably socks, who are we kidding) that will show off their gorgeous colours (but not until the sweater is done; I’m standing firm). Yarn accident, yes, but no regrets (yet).

The whole haul. Sigh.