Wednesday, December 31, 2014

It's The Eve Of The New Year!!

Well 2014, I have a big hug and thanks for you for being so terrific and with that, I'd like to put you to bed and greet 2015.

This year saw it's share of ups and downs as they do.  I won't even bother you with the downs...this is just not that kind of blog:)  I will however briefly share the ups....

As I've shared before, Mr. and I own an old country store and spend quite a bit of time working in it.  This gives me the most wonderful opportunity to both take care of the store AND stitch away at the ideas that keep popping up in my head.  2014 saw a boom in both creative thought and physical stitches which of course, made me very happy.  I think the ability to turn my thoughts into something tactile helps me keep my sanity in this very insane world.  There were more projects created on the knitting machine than I had ever hoped to produce and wow, the demand for my little blanket mitts went crazy!!!

Oh look, there goes a pair now...

The year also saw a certain Granddaughter, Miss H. move close to us from far away and Mr. and I have been enjoying the crap out of being with her.  As luck would have it, she enjoys the crap out of being with us too, and I have to say...she's a great pal to have around.  I mean, who else would I run around the yard with...or colour with for that matter!

2014 brought visits from family, visits to family, camping around the maritimes with friends and on our own. We ate, we rested, we worked, we played and we learned to sail on our wee boat.

Now, on the Eve of 2015, my creative juices are flowing again I'm sure there will be new projects to tell you about and show you very soon.  This cowl was tickling the grey matter so I gave it a go this morning, a few tweaks and it should be perfect.

I hope your 2014 was as lovely as ours, and from our Homestead to yours, Mr. and I wish you and yours a healthy and prosperous 2015.  Happy New Year to all of you. (Told you it was brief:) )

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Home Made Christmas

Wow, good morning....and what a morning!  I'm back to work today for a quick 5.5 hour shift after having a wonderful 2 days off with Mr. and the cats.  It was great to lounge around in our pj's all day, go for long walks in the unseasonably warm weather and eat way too much.  I was so proud to make a localvore feast for the holidays, and as I was preparing everything, telling Mr. how the chicken was raised 2 kms from the house and that the carrots were from about 8 kms away...he reminded me that asparagus does not grow here this time of year so I kind of cheated a little on the the whole 100 mile ethos.  After a quick face to palm moment, I forgave myself and we sure did enjoy that asparagus.  The food was at least all home made and tasted very good.  In keeping with our love of all things home made, we gave to each other from our hands and hearts.  I made Mr. a sweater on one of my knitting machines, made stockings for the kids,

knit a blanket for Dave and a kitty sized sleeping bag for Penny,

and Mr. made me this beautiful wooden box.

When I opened the box, I found goodies inside!

But it's real purpose was functionality, built to replace this original Legare Sock Knitting Machine box.

I'm of course keeping this beautiful antique, but it's just too flimsy to carry around a heavy, cast iron CSM.  So from now on, I'm going to keep sock yarn in it.  I have received countless gifts in my life for 46 birthdays and Christmases (many hand made), but out of all of them, my new wooden box is most precious....made, bespoke for me, from and by the love of my life.

The annual box of books has been ordered from the gift card I receive from my parents...I'll show you as soon as the box arrives.  Can you guess what the books might be about?  I'll give you a hint...they have to do with knitting:)

What were your holidays like?  Feel free to drop by and let us know....

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Season's Greetings

Today is Christmas Eve and Mr and I are closing early to go home and enjoy a couple of days off together. There's a meat pie ready for the oven (thank you Mrs. S.), a bottle of wine, some presents under the fir tree, and all the fixings waiting for a localvore feast tomorrow.  From us here at the homestead, we wish you and yours,  all the best that the season has to offer.  Warmth, nourishment and love.......

Chantelle and the Mr.

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, 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.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Etsy Store!!!

My brand new Etsy store is now open under the name Chantelleknits!  That's awesome and I'm pleased as punch but there should be a lovely Etsy button to the left of the screen and I just can't get it to work.  So hang in there....I'm working on it.  For now....if you'd like to check it out, just click on the the link above:)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


What experience has taught me is that you can learn off of someone else, and not always have to figure it out on your own.  I recently started making some simple shawls using the help of a knitting machine.  They are great and I love them and of  course because they are in stockinette stitch, they are in desperate need of a good blocking when finished to remove the curl.  I had been laboriously pinning them onto a bed and that worked fairly well but still left uneven edges and a very sore back.  So I listened to the knitters that came before me (and seem to know what they're talking about) and bought a set of foam mats and some wire for blocking.  Wow, what a difference!  It didn't take as long to block, the edges are beautifully even and it was easy to adjust one side to match the other as there were way fewer pins involved.  Since I was pinning the piece directly onto clean foam, I was able to use a large work table out in the studio making my back much happier also.

I ended up with a warm, 2ply weight, 100% wool shawl which I will embellish with something pretty and colourful along the spine.

I love how much easier it was to pin with the wires, foam and higher table.

The wires worked so well.

The shawls, both the kind shown here and the corset style, have been well received, so off I go, back to my desk to work on a few more pieces.  What are you working on?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wandering and Wonderings

We are having such a wonderful Summer here on the homestead.  Mr. and I have had a little leisure time both out on the water and in our wee camper, fun!  My stitching has taken a bit of a back seat, as it does this time of year.  It's been hot and humid which is not really nice weather for working on anything, but thankfully, that doesn't usually last long in the the North East.  With the heat and laziness it seems that the mind has more time to wander and wonder....coming up with new ideas for knits and things.  Some will work, some will need more tweaking and some will be discarded, but what a wonderful time of year to let your mind create.  In my wanderings and wonderings my mind became completely full with carpets, yup little ones, like bedside carpets.  Armed with my 7mm hook and some scrummy 3-ply MacAusland's Chunky yarn, I let my hand be guided by my day dreams and this is what happened......

The granny squares have made yet another appearance, this time in thick, deliciousness.  Can't you just imagine your toes touching down on these on a January morning?

The finished piece before washing and blocking, measured 19.25 inches by 31.5 inches and weighed 1 lb exactly.  I am going to give it a try and see if it needs a backing or not.  I'm thinking I need to repeat this piece in browns, fall colours and maybe in some Christmas colours too!  For now I'm playing with a round crocheted rug...we'll see how that one goes, hope it's as yummy as the squares.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Show

The West Prince Arts Council, Showcase of the Arts was a whole lot of fun.  We were hoping for more foot traffic but all in all it was a successful day.  I was able to sell enough pieces to make the day pay and I made some valuable contacts.  I was a little concerned at first that I would not have enough pieces to fill my table.  I was mistaken.  The table was full and lush and I was very happy with how it all turned out.

There were many other Artisans at the show.  Pam was there with her amazing hooked rugs and wall hangings....

Michelle had a table filled with her quilted lovelies.

Sandy did not disappoint with her paintings.

And Deborah...well she blew me away with her amazing paper sculptures.

I really enjoyed myself.  Thank you to everyone who was in attendance,  council members, volunteers and members of the public.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Two More Sleep

I recently became a member of the West Prince Arts Council, and as luck would have it, just in time to have a table of my own at the Showcase of the Arts.  The event takes place this Saturday, 28th of June at The Parish Centre in Tignish, PEI.  If you happen to be in the area it promises to be a fun day.  The showcase with be featuring different artists from this area's Arts Council (WPAC) using quite a variety of media.  There will be an Oil Painter, Basket Weaver, Portrait Sketcher, Wood Turner, Sculpture, Quilter, Rug Hooker and of course my woolly treasures will be in attendance also.  Of course this is only one piece of a larger event called the Tignish Irish Moss Festival, so there will be quite a few things going on that day.  I am lucky to live in a mostly rural area where all Summer long, some community somewhere, is having their annual festival. Just like they did 100 years ago.

So, it's only two more sleeps until the event and I've been playing around with different boxes and baskets to see what kind of display I can put together for my table.  I'll be sure to take some pictures of the event and share them here next week.

One of the new items that I'm taking with me to the showcase is this beautiful shawl, hot off of the pins last night.  It's made with a wool/mohair blend in a natural silvery grey and I took the liberty of adding islets up the spine to lace in this gorgeous ribbon.  Knit from side to side in two pieces and joined in the centre using a Singer 151 Chunky Knitting Machine.  I love it and I wish it was going to be cool enough to wear one on Saturday so that I can really show it off.  (Words only a knitter would say at the end of June.)

I will be using my array of knitting machines much more in the future.  My first love is of course hand knitting but to make larger quantities of larger pieces and still be able to fill the shelves, I need a little help along the way.  It's the same as a quilter using a sewing machine, they're still doing ALL of the work, just not every stitch is by hand.

Hope to see you in Tignish on Saturday, xo.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

What's For Afters?

Here are some after shots of the Trillium with her pretty things on....

I love how bright and colourful it all turned out.  The Turquoise and Olive go so well with the yellow of the fiberglass.  It's all so shiny and clean now and I must say that I'm glad that all of the hard scrubbing is finished.  I had enough fabric left over from making the curtain tops, to put together the fitted table cloth too.  I think the layering of fabric really brings the look together.

Mr. installed a laminate floor in a colour and texture very similar to the faux wood doors.  The under seat, porta-potty cupboard still needs it's door put back on the hinges.  You can just see a glimpse of a turquoise throw on the right seat...another layer of fabric!

And here's the sweet wall pocket that I mentioned in an earlier post.  Made with the same fabric as the main part of the curtains.  I think it's looking swell.  One last project is to dress the bed (where the larger dinette is), we spent all of last evening building a quasi-permanent plywood bed in the forward dinette/bed combo.  With the little dinette, the two of us don't need to use the larger, so we are putting a proper foam mattress on it.  After all...while we're camping, we live outside and only really use the inside for sleep.

It's been an exciting couple of weeks all in all, what with getting the camper shiny and ready and having several stitching projects on the go.  Oh, and I must tell you that I've become a member of the West Prince Arts Council and am very excited to be doing my first show on the 28th of June at the Parish Hall in Tignish, PEI.  Drop in if you're in the neighbourhood, there will be lots to see and do.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Busy Week

The weather here has been ridiculously cold so far this Spring which has made it very difficult to garden and plant....but it's been terrific for knitting!  This week has renewed my love affair with the knitted stitch and I've accomplished much.  

Last evening I started, or rather should I say, I RE-started this beautiful cardigan.  I had started it last year with the intention of making something for myself after having made so many things for the sale pile.  It ended up being abandoned and frogged only to be picked up again yesterday.  As you can see here, I have just about completed the back and I love it.  Of course my test swatch lied (they always do) and I've ended up with a slightly larger gauge than called for.  Since the gauge is so large to begin with, with nice fat stitches...I'm just going for it.  I stretched out the fabric over myself and it does fit with a bit of ease which is fine by me.  The pattern is actually a little more closely fitted than I want it anyway :)  I'm making it with 3-ply MacAusland's undyed yarn in a beautiful wool/mohair blend.

Since Saturday, I also managed to accomplish this very simple Islet Lace Shawl.  I cast on and knit until I was almost to the end of a second skein...then cast off.  Yup, that's how much planning went into it!  It's just right and very warm which is something that I unfortunately still need in this cool weather.  The colour is a darkish pink dyed over grey which gives it a gorgeous plummy/silver finish.  Again, this one is knit with MacAusland's but in 2-ply.

Well I must leave you, I'm aching to get back to my cardigan.  Who knows, I might even finish it this week!  Happy stitching everyone:)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Crochet

I recently made a few crocheted bags....

...then sewed in some cotton lining....

...a few of them were embellished with these sweet flowers...

...and the straps were either made out of knitted I-Chords or these nifty tuck stitch "braids" on my knitting machine...

I loved the crocheted flowers so much, that I thought I'd try making a little rug for my camper out of one....

I wonder if I will tire of crochet soon and make my way back to knitting.  I guess they truly do go well together don't they?

Happy Friday everyone, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!