Saturday, March 28, 2015

Ruisseau Joubert

This past Christmas my big kids gave me an awesome gift.  They all pitched in together, which is a gift in itself if you ask me as a parent - it's always nice to see the close bonds they've re-developed together as adults... it had gone very typically missing for awhile throughout their teen years. I'm glad to see it back! And together they chose thoughtful gifts that were so meaningful and perfect for me.

G and B made me a huge pan of candy cane fudge.  So very decadent and delicious - I may or may not have hidden the pan in the back of the fridge away from little hands and nibbled it mostly in secret so I didn't have to share often.  N and A picked out teas and a mug. (I wholeheartedly recommend the Earl's Garden - I'm just finishing the last sip of it as I type - and Read My Lips from David's Tea by the way! It's so good and even more impressive given it was picked out by two non-tea drinkers!)  J and M picked out yarn.  

They had me laughing as they told me the story of how they picked out the yarn.  J of course, with his story telling abilities, told it much better, but the lengths they went to for that yarn was so touching.  They went into Wolesley Wool and were immediately overwhelmed. So when the clerk asked if they needed help they, of course, said yes. She started asking all sorts of questions: “what does she like to knit?” - “Everything” / “What colour is her favourite?” - “All of them” etc. Finally they got the clerk to look here on the blog and Ravelry trying to get some hints. J was unimpressed with me. He said, “Mom. You list all sorts of yarns you use, and you say this one is good for this reason or that is good for that reason, but you don’t give any hints of what yarns you’d LIKE!!!!” Ha ha! I guess I’m just a big ol’ enigma!

Look at those glorious fall colours!
Anyways, the yarn they chose was the very gorgeous Sweet Georgia Tough Love in the Maple colour way.  The crazy thing was, that as I wound my first skein of the Sweet Georgia it hit me.  This is exactly the yarn I envisioned dying myself all fall long, except hadn't because I was pretty sure that by the time I was done dying it, it would look a whole lot like mud and not a whole lot like the gorgeous colours of the trees along the Ruisseau Joubert I cross every day taking Little Man to kindergarten.  Long after every other leaf in the vicinity had blown off the trees (about 30 seconds after turning colour), the trees along the creek stayed full of leaves in an explosion of colour.  Reds and oranges, yellows, browns and greens.  Every day I saw those breath taking colours and every day thought, "I need a yarn that looks like that."  I couldn't believe that the very yarn I had dreamt of possessing for months was right there on my swift and had been chosen without any idea how truly perfect it was for me.  Of course I had to name my shawl after the creek given the colour of the yarn!

The Maple was far too pretty to hide in my shoes as socks, plus they'd given me two skeins of it, so I had plenty to do a much bigger project.  I wanted something fairly simple that would highlight the yarn, so chose Laura Aylor's Sunstruck.  Squishy bias knit garter stitch and an asymetrical line seemed perfect.  I chose to do mine in just two colours and I was really happy I did.  For my second colour I chose Berocco's Ultra Alpaca Fine in the Pea Soup Mix colour way.   I really enjoyed knitting the shawl and the short rows were addictive - which still seems odd to say given I used to avoid anything requiring short rows as one would avoid the plague - but they are actually very easy to do and watching the shape of the wedges emerge was fun.  

Starting the border stitches

My shawl was too long and too big for the blocking  
mats I had so I layered up quilts on the spare room bed
My shawl itself was completed in a fairly short time, but I was a bit daunted by the edging.  The top one required picking up about 375 stitches and the thought of that had me stalled out until last weekend.  In reality, I picked up the stitches one evening before bed then when I finally started actually knitting the border I did it in small snippets of knitting time over the course of two days.  I don't know why I waited so long.  Like most things it was much easier than I was imagining.  

Then it took me several more days before I blocked it.  Again,  I'm not sure why.  I ended up just spritzing the corners and edges lightly with water to block it as it certainly didn't require anything more than that.  I had dispensed with such frivolities as gauge swatches given I had lots of yarn and wasn't worried about fit and so had already ended up with bit a larger shawl than the pattern called for, which I'm absolutely fine with it, subscribing to the theory that with a shawl (and my broad shoulders) bigger is almost always better.  The more snuggly warmth and all.  However, I really did not want to aggressively block it into ridiculous proportions so I was pretty cautious.

LA LA LOVING my new shawl -
it's like a warm hug from my kids when I wear it!
This makes my fifth Laura Aylor pattern in the last six months.  I did Skerwink as a test knit, then Haycove, also as a test knit, then there was (BF)G's Fox Point then of course my beach in winter I just finished and now Sunstruck. I wonder which one of hers I should cast on next? I keep gravitating towards Paper Birch, but then I also want to do Serra, but then there's Brier Island and Cinnamon Toast as well and Sirocco would be perfect for spring... all of which are in my pattern library so I can't even narrow it down that way.  Want to help me decide?  Which one would you choose?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A New Sweater for Me?

A new sweater for me? Yes, please!! Especially if it's another design from Laura Aylor! I know there are certain designers I keep raving about, but I promise you, they are most deserving of all the attention I give them and Laura is no exception!

I've knit this latest sweater as part of her "In Winter" knit along in her Ravelry group.  She has a series of three In Winter patterns we could choose from and while the Woods in the Winter shawl really tempted me, I decided I would make my next choice Beach in the Winter instead since I am still in the midst of knitting my Sunstruck shawl right now.

I'm so glad I chose the sweater.  I absolutely love how it's turned out.  I worked really hard on this one to get exactly what I wanted, even though it meant ripping out sections more than once.  I modified it slightly by not adding any hip increases (thanks to Laura for figuring out my numbers for that mod within minutes so I didn't lose any knitting time!), lengthening the body (as to eliminate any risk of too short a midriff in the front - no need to be showing off my belly thanks very much!) and also shortening the amount of the short rows to have a much less pronounced hi-low hemline.  While I like the look of a hi-low on many people, I do NOT like the look of it on me.  It's a bit horrifying actually for whatever reason.  I had initially knit it as written for the short rows, tried it on, shuddered at the result in the mirror, but waited for confirmation from (BF)G before ripping it out.  His assessment was to stop knitting right there and then.  It was the perfect length in the back.  Unfortunately I still needed the almost three inches of the bottom section to get the front to length.  Another quick consultation with Laura in her Ravelry group - she's so awesome about helping figure things out - and back I went.  It worked out really well I think!

My other modification, if you can call it that, was to do a contrast for the cuffs and bottom band of the sweater.  I had seen a test project on Ravelry that used the contrasts and couldn't stop thinking about it so I decided to give it a try just to see if I liked the end result.  I was fully prepared to rip back again and knit it with the main colour if necessary. (Look at that! Fully prepared and rip back all in one sentence.  I'm such a grown up knitter now, wouldn't you say?)  I LOVE the orange! Love, love, love it!  My only decision I need to make is whether or not I want to reknit the collar in orange too.  I'm pretty sure I have enough of the Berroco Vintage that I used left to do it.  But I just can't decide.

I've not actually blocked my sweater yet.  Heck, if you look closely enough you might even notice I've not even woven in the ends yet. I'm not sure why.  I did wear my sweater for quite some time after getting the boys to assist with the photos - until I got way too hot.  It was a warm day and the sun was streaming in through windows.  Not quite the day for a worsted weight wool sweater!
This sweater is going to be perfect for the early spring weather we're having lately I think! It's a bit chilly today, but I actually wore my Hay Cove cardi all weekend. No coat necessary! Whooot!  Spring has sprung! (and I really, really hope I didn't just jinx it or I'll have a whole lot of people annoyed with me.  Stay away winter, stay away!!!!) I think it'll be great to have a good pullover to wear out and about in the fresh spring air when it's too chilly for a light jacket but way too warm for a parka!

And now that I mention it, I think it high time I go weave in those ends and give my sweater a bath!

Sunday, March 01, 2015

The Jade Skirt

As promised the other day, I've finished sewing the Jade Skirt and I'm back here with a review* of it for you.

European based, Paprika Patterns, have just re-released the Jade Skirt last week, with some updates and improvements to their original first pattern.  The sizing has been increased (up to a 50.5" hip now!) and fit has been improved.  You may have seen the Jade Skirt for awhile now - I know it keeps popping up when I'm browsing Pinterest!  It's got a unique look with the origami style folds along the front of it.  It's also got a unique method of construction, but don't worry about that.  There's lots of suggestions, tutorials and even a short video available to help you along the way.

Let's get down to the nitty gritty.  When you purchase the Jade Skirt pattern you will receive six different files, which seems like a lot, but it's broken down into separate ones that include an introduction, the instructions, a print guide, two for the pattern printing - one that you can have done at a copy shop and the second one is the print at home version, as well as a practice sheet to get those folds down pat before you move onto working with your fabric. The multiple files make it easy to find just what you're wanting instead of scrolling through page after page to find it.  The skirt comes in two lengths - mini (which I made) and midi which is of course a bit longer and there's also a handy tutorial on the website if you need to make some length adjustments too!

The instructions are really thorough, with lots of line drawings to illustrate what you are supposed to be doing, and as I mentioned if you run into trouble, you can head on over to the Paprika Pattern website for everything from the video demonstrating the folding to a quick tutorial on how to add elastic to your waistband if you want.  The links are all there in the instructions so you don't have to search around at all, which I found really helpful.

The pattern was easy to print out and assemble - my only issue being when it came time to know where my cutting line was for the mini length I was making, I accidentally started following the fold line instead of the cutting line.  Oops!  It definitely required a wee bit more concentration to make sure with all the lines there that I didn't get off track. (That could just be me though.  I've been known to get distracted easily... Oooh!  Look! Shiny things...)

Upcycling and using up old stash! Love it when I can do that!
Sewing up the skirt was fun.  I looked at the instructions and then hopped on over to watch the video so I could get the hang of folding.  It definitely is the lengthiest part of the process.  Once the folds are done and secured the rest of the skirt goes together very quickly though. I sewed mine in a couple of afternoons, taking just a half hour here or there to work on it, but you could easily print off the pattern, cut it out and sew it up and be ready to wear it out on the town in a matter of a few hours.  Instant gratification and instant wardrobe expansion!  What I really liked about the construction is that that all the seams are enclosed and done in such a way it's super easy.  No worries about fiddling with finishing seam allowance.

The Jade Skirt! (I did iron it - honestly...)
So let's talk about my version of the skirt.  I decided, that since I don't generally wear shorter closer fitting skirts myself, I would make it for G instead.  I had a charcoal grey, long jersey skirt that has been sitting in my closet for years (about 10 maybe since I last wore it?) and I thought it would be perfect reincarnated as the Jade Skirt.  I could only do the shorter mini length, given my fabric constraints and would have to piece together the waistband, but it was such a great weight for the skirt I went ahead with it.  Just for fun, I lined it with hot pink lycra jersey with approximately the same stretch percentage that has been in my fabric stash since my days working at the fabric store back in the late 90s.  I do so love a pop of colour when using neutrals, even if no one else knows they're there. I also chose to do the elasticized waistband option since I was using a fairly light weight knit.  Nothing worse than your skirt slowly migrating south on you as you go about your day (I was fairly certain G wouldn't appreciate that - I am possibly not yet forgiven for the time her Aboyne wasn't fastened properly at the waist and left her dancing the Scottish Lilt momentarily in her underskirt as her skirt puddled around her feet at a competition years ago).

Look at that fun lining!!
I'm quite happy with the skirt and pretty impressed with Paprika Patterns.  G's happy too! She declares it a very comfortable and figure flattering skirt and has already asked me to make her another one as soon as possible.

I'm looking forward to trying my hand at the Jasper Sweater for myself - I've been eyeing that sweater since it first popped up on Pinterest long before Lisa ever drafted up the pattern for the public -  and also definitely looking forward to seeing what is in store for the future with their stylish and unique designs.

*Lisa of Paprika Patterns did generously send me a copy of the pattern free of charge, but all opinions expressed here are my own.