Thanks for October

It's funny how time seems to slip away quickly the minute summer is done. September was a whirlwind of activity with the Great London Yarn Crawl (we raised £812 for Refuge and collected 149 knitted items for the charity!). Now that October is here, it feels like the days are dwindling as quickly as daylight is in the early evenings.

If you're a knitter, it's a time to be thankful for the cooler temperatures and that knitting season is well and truly here. Many knitters I at the Knitting & Stitching Show at Ally Pally last week confirmed this. They were jostling in the aisles and hunting down new projects, happy to be chatting about putting away outdoor things, letting the garden rest, and getting ready to tuck in to their winter knitting.

Giving thanks with our UK friends who have a Canadian connection.

Giving thanks with our UK friends who have a Canadian connection.

If you're Canadian, this past weekend we celebrated our Thanksgiving (and there's a decent explanation of why we celebrate it at a different time than our American friends south of the border here). I was lucky enough to be able to track down a turkey from the butcher - apparently they're quite hard to find this time of year in London!

We have a tradition at our house that before we tuck into all the glorious food we go around the table and each say something about what we are thankful for. We are thankful for each other, a roof over our heads and food to eat, our health, our family and friends. And we continue to be thankful to be here in London with this amazing opportunity and experience of living abroad.

I want to also add my thanks here for the fact I've been able to build a business for myself doing something that I love, and using my skills and experience to carve my own path. It's not often one is lucky enough to combine what they love with what they do - especially in a creative industry like ours and I'm so grateful that I have. I'm thankful the amazing and talented knitters and dyers and designers that I know and have the pleasure to work with, and meet and chat with on a semi-regular basis and shows and workshops and events. They are such a fantastic group and I'm thankful every day for the privilege to both know and work with them whenever our paths cross.

Thank YOU too, for being part of my community of link-minded knitters and crafters. No one else understands what it is to thankful for colder weather like you do! ;) xx

Yarn Crawl Day

It's still pretty early here this morning on this grey and damp morning in London as I sit down at the computer with my coffee. But I'm awake and excited because today is the second annual Great London Yarn Crawl that Rach and I have worked so hard to put together for a second year.

Rach talked about the community that the event celebrates over on her blog, and Kate, who is joining us as a media guest this year, wrote about the charity that receives the funds from the event on her blog. And of course lots of bloggers and podcasters are excited about the shopping and knitting they'll get to do on the day.

I don't know if I'm going to articulate this the right way, but for me, the Yarn Crawl embodies a spirit of adventure, curiosity, openness and willingness to embrace the new, along with loyalty, pride and teamwork - characteristics that to me are inextricably woven into the fabric of the expat experience.

Looking down on Macchu Picchu. I think I'm 13 or 14 years old in this picture.

Looking down on Macchu Picchu. I think I'm 13 or 14 years old in this picture.

When I was young, my family moved from Canada to Colombia, South America and these values were all things that my parents instilled in my brother and I. How lucky we were to be able to have this opportunity. Encouraging us to try to new things and experience new cultures, but also retaining our own Canadian identity and sharing a part of our homeland with our new friends. And in return, embracing the new community that we were now a part of and finding ways to give back too.

How does that relate to the Yarn Crawl? Well, Rach and I are expats ourselves, and yarn crawls have typically been a North American experience, which we're sharing with knitters here. It's a way for us to be more involved with the knitting community in London, and in fact the rest of the UK since there are participants who have traveled in to take part in the event. The Yarn Crawl is also our way to give back to the shops, offering them greater exposure and awareness to a wider circle of knitters than might normally come through their doors, and a way for new connections to be made with the sponsors who have been so generous. And finally, in raising funds and awareness for Refuge, we support the larger community as a whole.

Images from #GLYC2013

Images from #GLYC2013

The UK is our home now and this is the spirit that I feel embodies the Yarn Crawl that Rachel and I have created. We're so thrilled to be part of it, and to be embraced back by the knitting community. I hope everyone has a fantastic Yarn Crawl today and I'll see you at the after party! xx

Throwback Thursday

I was doing some research online for a blog post the other day and I came across an old guest blog post I forgot I'd written for the Canadian Living craft blog a few years ago.

The magazine and their online have been through a bit of a shift over the years, as magazines do, but it was a treat to go back and read what I'd written - never guessing that almost exactly a year later I'd be headed for the UK and seemingly continuing what I'd started with those blog posts!

The giggle I've had reading over these posts though, is what I called them: the great Western Canadian yarn crawl. Written in three parts, it's a little travelogue-y with mini-reviews of the five yarn shops, weaving studio, and hand-dyed yarn studio I visited over ten days in the summer of 2011. And you'll never guess who's hand-dyed yarn studio it was...!

Since the second annual Great London Yarn Crawl kicks off this weekend, it seemed appropriate to re-post these blogs for Throwback Thursday. Enjoy!

The great Western Canadian yarn crawl, part 1

The great Western Canadian yarn crawl, part 2

The great Western Canadian yarn crawl, part 3

 

Knit all the things!

Wow. Is there anything like fall to ignite a serious case of start-itis in knitters?

With the cooler temperatures here in the UK (although it's been grey-ish low 20s with peekaboo sunshine the last week or so) it's been getting harder and harder to spend time in my office with my stash whispering seductively from the sidelines. 

This gorgeous beauty has been telling me that I need a new hat for my new winter coat.

This gorgeous beauty has been telling me that I need a new hat for my new winter coat.

It didn't help that Kate from the A Playful Day podcast has been hosting a craft-a-long this month in her Ravelry group. They're harvesting - reaping all those WIPs and other things that might be languishing in stash and project bags... And those lovely folks at L'Oisive Thé are starting a Color Affection knit-a-long. This is a proejct that somehow I never managed to knit when I bought the yarn for it when it was popular the first time around... Finally, Soak has been hosting a daily photo challenge on Instagram (search for the hashtag #soakphotochallenge) which has been getting me reaquainted with old projects, my tools, my stash, and my plans for said stash!

Madelinetosh, patiently waiting to be turned into a Color Affection shawl.

Madelinetosh, patiently waiting to be turned into a Color Affection shawl.

Then someone mentioned the C-word (Christmas!) on Ravelry and that got me all in a tizzy as my brother and his wife are coming to visit and they are definitely knitworthy! And I still haven't finished Mr. H's Harry Potter sweater which was also destined for this Christmas. Or at least it better be, as I bought the yarn in last year's post-Crimbo sale at John Lewis! And then of course there's the spinning that I've been doing with the loan of Rachel's e-spinner and the Mind the Gap socks that I've been working on for this year's GLYC (which aren't going to be done so have been shockingly abandoned!).

Progress has been made on Mr. H's Christmas sweater. On now to the sleeves!

Progress has been made on Mr. H's Christmas sweater. On now to the sleeves!

Which is all to say that I basically want to cast on EVERYTHING and KNIT. ALL. THE. THINGS.

I've been managing to hold on to a modicum of control though, thanks to another wee distraction in the form of gearing up with Rachel for the second annual Great London Yarn Crawl. It's been a lot of fun putting it together this year as we have more shops, more routes, more sponsors and more participants! It means we'll raise more money for Refuge, and really - that's fantastic!

I'll still be knitting these Mind the Gap socks at the Great London Yarn Crawl - at least this project is portable!

I'll still be knitting these Mind the Gap socks at the Great London Yarn Crawl - at least this project is portable!

There's less than a week to go, thank goodness, as I feel that the thin thread of my control is close to snapping at this point. In the meantime, I'm determined to carry on as best I can until the end of the month. But October 1st, all bets are off with regards to starting something new!

How is your autumn knitting coming along?

This one's mine

A while back I was gifted a lovely skein of Tanis Fiber Arts Red Label by my friend Jen. Seeing as how it's one of my favourite colours (Garnet, a blend of deep reds with hints of purple), and that the Red Label is a smooshy single of merino, cashmere and silk, I knew that this yarn had to be destined for something really special.

The glorious Tanis Red Label cashsilk single. Photo: Tanis Fiber Arts

The glorious Tanis Red Label cashsilk single. Photo: Tanis Fiber Arts

Not long afterwards in a happy coincidence, Tanis herself blogged about the Cloud Illusions shawl by Boo Knits and how wonderful the yarn was with the garter stitch body. Voilà, I thought to myself, that is what this yarn wants to be. Isn't it nice when the yarn speaks to you like that?

I eagerly cast on last summer and was humming away on the pattern until I got to the lace bit, which we know is not my forte. After getting a little bit of help and using copious amounts of stitch markers, off I went again to tackle the lace border, complete with beads - a new knitting experience for me. Alas, the lace and beads combo and vacation proved to be too much and this sad little shawl went into timeout.

For readers of this blog I'd like to make quite clear that my issues with lace, and beads, are all user error. Mine. This really is a lovely pattern!

Until this summer's holiday when, I was pulling out projects I thought would be quick finishes while away, and realised I only had a few rows to go. Surely, I thought, I can get past whatever the issue was? I vaguely recalled that I'd sorted myself out back to a point where there were no mistakes and was ready to continue on...

Cloud Illusions - photographed in the Moat Garden at Windsor Castle

Cloud Illusions - photographed in the Moat Garden at Windsor Castle

After a couple of false starts thinking I had the markers in the wrong spot, I re-read the pattern. Then in a rare display of cleverness, I remembered to look up people's project notes on the pattern on Ravelry. Lo! The stitch markers move on some of the rows of the lace border! And armed with this important bit of info, I was able to finish the shawl in no time. And even my nemesis of a picot border couldn't slow me down!

The garter stitch body of Cloud Illusions is perfect for the round smooshy single of the Tanis Red Label yarn.

The garter stitch body of Cloud Illusions is perfect for the round smooshy single of the Tanis Red Label yarn.

Moving the stitch markers might seem like an easy thing to an experienced lace knitter, and I hope to get there one day in the end. I guess if you know what you're looking for, making the lace pattern stack up on top of the previous stitches, it's intuitive, but I just haven't got there yet.

I love how the iridescent pale purple beads shimmer and pick up the reds and purples in the yarn.

I love how the iridescent pale purple beads shimmer and pick up the reds and purples in the yarn.

I will one day though! In the meantime, I'm so pleased with how this shawl has turned out. And I'm incredibly delighted that it's for me! So many of the things I knit end up being given as gifts and go off to live with other people - and don't get me wrong, I love knitting for my family - but this shawl is particularly special because it's one of my first successful lace projects, and definitely my first project with beads. Might have to find another one to do now!