Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Le Poncho

Good morning!  What a beautiful morning it is today on the East Coast....not a breath of wind, temperature is mild and there seems to be a waxing Yuletide magic in the air.  Now that all of my Holiday orders are finished, I've had the chance to make things that have been hanging out in the back of my brain for a while.  I recently showed you the Poncho I made for a lovely customer of mine.  It is a simple rectangle and had been on my mind for a while.  When Mrs. D. asked me to make it for her, I couldn't wait to get out the sketch book and calculator and start figuring it out.  The first one I made was good and I had sorted out the pattern, but the finishing was not as refined as I wanted it.  Armed with the knowledge of what I could improve on, I sat down the other day and started to put this one together....

...I loved the idea of taking three coordinating colours and making 1 large stripe each.

 (MacAusland's 2-ply in Rust, Olive and Ginger)

The way the ends of the rectangle drape over your arms, it gives the stripes an arched effect.

And of course, after washing and blocking the fabric turned from hard and curled to soft and drapey.

This one is for sale in my shop (and may be already spoken for), but I think I need to make one for myself in these colours.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Is About Cookies

Last year, just after Christmas, Mr and I bought ourselves an electric fireplace to insert into an old mantle that is original to our Edwardian house.  When our house was built, it was fitted with two lovely mantles, one in the living room and one in the dining room....but....neither of them had a fireplace behind them, they were just there for show.  When we moved in 11 years ago, we were delighted to find that when the previous owner had renovated (removed the mantles), she had placed them in the attic for storage.  We knew we wanted to bring them back out and use them, and since we had just installed several solar panels, it made sense to install an electric fireplace to use some of the power we were generating.  I do love a real wood fire, but using our own electricity made more sense.  So, Mr. built a false chimney breast, installed the fireplace, used left over marble tile from the kitchen to make the surround and then attached the mantle.  I am so happy with it.   (the photo is lop-sided, not the mantle :) )

And now it's decorated for Christmas.  Yesterday was a busy day decorating for the big day....

...our 8 year old granddaughter came over for the afternoon and we watched a movie, decorated the house and flexed some creative muscles decorating a giant cookie.  She's a very talented cookie decorator and there was much laughter and icing...a few candies made there way into our bellies too.

Miss H., your cookie rocks!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Blogs, Accomplishments and Tech

This blog has been neglected recently.  Not for lack of interesting projects, or cool photos...rather for lack of a cell phone that I understood the operation of.  I broke my phone over a month ago and have been using Mr.'s old one as a temporary replacement.  My phone did everything for me, including taking all of my photos.  Now, Mr's old phone takes perfectly fine photos and I can use it for texting and calling, but I'm darned if I can get it to do things as simply as my last phone.  I knew it worked fine, it's just that I didn't know how to get what I wanted out of it.  So during this last, long while that I was unable to retrieve my pics and add them here, I decided not to feed the blog because a post without photos is kind of uninspiring.

So...I am now armed with the knowledge of retrieving photos and can play a little catch up.  First of all, it was high time that I updated the photo on my header to show the season.  Pretty, yellow daisies just weren't accurate any more.  Now it's time for a wee bit of news.

I spent the last two months stitching away on orders for Christmas.  There were cushions and mittens and covered hot water bottles....there were scarves and hats and shawls....but there was also something new to my repertoire.  I have wanted to put together a pattern for a machine knit poncho, so when a customer asked if I made them I told her "not yet, but leave it with me and I'll see what I can do.  If you like the end result, it's yours, if not....I can try something different".

She told me she wanted something full and warm but I didn't think to ask if she wanted something triangular, rectangular, retro, modern...so I just sat, sketched, swatched, swatched some more, knitted a few pieces, unravelled those and started again.  In the end, I came up with a simple large rectangle made from two front pieces and two back pieces with a shaped neck and islets around the perimeter.  When I took the four pieces off of the machine and started sewing them together, the project as a whole of course didn't look like much.  Knitwear always looks so much better after a proper wash and block.

After the pieces were sewn together and hand knit the little turned collar and gave it a really good soak and a blocking.  The fabric softened and draped beautifully, hanging just to the wrist and halfway down one's bottom.  I was happy with it and my customer was over the moon.  I will be making several more in the weeks to come.  Two of which will be a solid colour (one in demin and one in brown) as the white one is here and another in three bold stripes of rust, gold and olive.

The islet trim is both pretty and utilitarian as it allows me to wire block very evenly. It's so good to be back and am looking forward to getting back to the knitting machine and to blogging (with photos).  Drop by and let me know what's on your needles these days.

Friday, October 31, 2014

In With The New

I was away at the Annual Maritime Spinner's Retreat last weekend which took place in the beautiful Cape Breton Highlands.  They really couldn't pick a more picture perfect area for a bunch of fibre enthusiasts.  I wish I had pictures to show you of the grounds and the event itself, but...I didn't take any.  I can tell you though that this year's retreat was all about dying.  There were workshops and dye stations and cool stuff in our goody bags to take home and try our hand at it.  The kits contained mordant, turmeric and drink crystals which worked rather well.

As you can see here, I took the loose fibre they gave us and stuck it in a pot with an alum and cream of tartar mordant to fix the colour.

Then I plunked the bags of fibre into the turmeric dye mix.

It's hard to believe that from just a teaspoon of a common spice, I could get such an incredible shade of screaming yellow!

I laid it out to dry on the bedroom floor and was concerned that the colour would actually keep me up all night:)

The retreat was fun and of course, I always seem to take away more knowledge with me....more confidence at the dye pot is what I took away this year and now I can't wait to play with more colour.

In other news, I've been working away since coming back from retreat to tidy up and improve the corner of my store that is now dedicated to textiles.

This beautiful nuts and bolts bin is now emptied of both all the shiny little metal bits and lots and lots of dust, and is now slowly being filled by my lovely little accessories.

It's going to look sharp when all of those little cubes are filled with colour.  I also had Mr. bring over a beautiful old mantel from the house that we are currently not using.  I'm just borrowing it for now, but I thought it would make a fabulous holiday display with festive accessories.  I just love it.

My "shop within a shop" is shaping up just the way I want it.  What do you think?

Friday, October 17, 2014


I finished the beautiful Snowdrift Cardigan pattern by Michele Rose Orne, just in time to wear it to my annual retreat!  I made it with a lovely, silky batch of natural, 3-ply MacAusland's, Wool-Mohair blend yarn.  It's very heavy and warm and the cables!!!!

Look at those Cables!!!!  Super-soft, open, bulky cables with dropped stitches no less.  Michele Rose Orne, this pattern is fabulous!

For now, I have left the front closure without a closure.  The pattern calls for a zipper, but I'm not convinced that it's the best choice for me.  I may add an I-Chord button band and wooden, toggle buttons.  Time will tell.  For now, I'm happy to wear it as is and it fits me perfectly.

Friday, September 19, 2014

It's That Time Again

It is that time of the year again when Summer is truly waning.  Here we are almost on the eve of the Autumnal Equinox....again, marking the beginning of my favourite time of year.  The air this morning is...dare I say it....cold.  Comfort came in the form of socks and a sweater before heading out the door for work.  I love it.  It also marks the beginning of this season too......

Beautiful multi-coloured carrots right out of the garden.  Nothing tastes fresher than having the produce department in your own back yard.

Delicious, locally grown, Clapps pears...lovingly bottled in ultra-light syrup for Mr., who absolutely loves them.