FO Friday: Kettle Yarn Co. Islington edition

Linda from Kettle Yarn Co. has an amazing eye for colour and design and I've felt invested in watching her grow since she first started her company a few short years ago. She was one of our first volunteers that we recruited for the inaugural Great London Yarn Crawl and launched her yarn company around the same time. Linda is also a Canadian transplant to the UK so I feel a special kinship as our businesses have grown up side by side.

The skein of Islington in Gold Dust from Linda's shop update that incited longing. Photo courtesy of Kettle Yarn Co.

The skein of Islington in Gold Dust from Linda's shop update that incited longing. Photo courtesy of Kettle Yarn Co.

About two years ago during one of Linda's first shop updates, she featured a new yarn - Islington - a yummy mix of superwash BFL and silk. And the skein that caught my eye was a beautiful, burnished, vintage gold. I was filled an unreasonable lust for this yarn, even though I had no immediate plans for it or thought as to what I would do with it, but I tucked it away in my stash like a dragon hoarding it's gold.

The Pebble Beach Shawlette by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade. Photo courtesy of Kettle Yarn Co.

The Pebble Beach Shawlette by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade. Photo courtesy of Kettle Yarn Co.

Flash forward a year later and Helen of Curious Handmade's gorgeous Pebble Beach Shawlette was the winner of the Unwind Brighton design competition. It was knit up in another of Linda's luscious bases, Westminster - this time in camel and silk. And another equally beautiful gold colourway that just shimmered from the silk content in the yarn.

Vintage fabric for a vintage dress? Yes please!

Vintage fabric for a vintage dress? Yes please!

This past June, when I really had absolutely no business casting on something new (which of course is always when I'm most strongly struck with a case of start-itis), I got the idea in my head that I was going to knit this shawl to match the antique yellow in the vintage Liberty print fabric that I was sewing into a dress for myself. A quick stash dive later and I'd cast on for the shawl. The easy-to-follow instructions and percentage completion chart kept me highly motivated and sneaking away to knit "just one more row".

Okay, not styled quite as prettily as the original, but close enough!

Okay, not styled quite as prettily as the original, but close enough!

The results were every bit as pleasing as all the Pebble Beach FOs that I saw at Unwind - although I'm now seriously tempted to knit it again in one of the new, larger sizes that are now available.

The funny thing about this project, is that it was actually Linda's newest base - a DK version of Islington - that I knit with first while test knitting the Bagatelle Cowl for Rachel. Clearly I was trying to trying to prolong the experience of working with this yummy yarn!

The eye-searing colour Padparadscha was unexpected and yet I'm totally in love!

The eye-searing colour Padparadscha was unexpected and yet I'm totally in love!

Interestingly, while both versions of Islington are equally lovely, I think my preference tips lightly in favour of the DK. Perhaps it's because that weight has always been a favourite of mine but I kind of feel like the added weight of the fabric makes the finished object just that much more luxe.

Now I just need a convertible and my look will be complete!

Now I just need a convertible and my look will be complete!

And the pattern! Even though it was a kind of sample/test knit, I'm excited to be ahead of the popularity wave. Bagatelle is one of the six patterns in Linda's first collection - The Boardwalk Collection - that she's pulled together for Kettle Yarn Co. (click that link to see the lookbook for the whole collection!). Since it's release, The Boardwalk Collection has been making the rounds with a blog tour (full disclosure: organised by yours truly) and I've seen more than a few comments where people have picked out the pattern as their fave!

I love the versatility of a long cowl - in the summer, it becomes a cosy shrug!

I love the versatility of a long cowl - in the summer, it becomes a cosy shrug!

As much as I might have teased Rachel about casting on a crap-ton of stitches and the seed stitch border, it's a truly gorgeous design. There's a soothing rhythm to the lace too and I love how it evokes the huge supporting columns of a seaside pier.

Just like it was cotton all the time with my knitting a few months ago, now I seem to be in a wool and silk phase. Can't say I'm complaining, but I do wonder what's next on the knitting front. Maybe alpaca and silk? I still need to cast on for my Yarn in the City GLYC2015 KAL after all!

Quiet time

It's one of those delicious Saturday mornings here that sometimes come to us as moms. Do you know the ones I mean? You've woken up early but the rest of the house is quiet, the family is still asleep (or in my case kiddo has been playing quietly and reading on his own - enjoying his own quiet morning!). And you can make yourself a coffee and be secure in the knowledge that you'll be able to sneak in maybe 30 minutes to a hour of personal time to read, knit, write, or just reflect.

Sneaking in some summer knitting time

Sneaking in some summer knitting time

June is a good time for reflection. I see it happening on other blogs I've been reading lately too. Must be that half-way point in the year? There's a course-correction that seems to be happening, a re-focus of energies and drive. It's a fresh and exciting time - and a positive one that I can embrace.

The last time I logged in to post I was a little bit disenchanted with some things that I'd seen happening in the knitting industry over the last little while and I wrote about it. But I didn't hit the 'publish' button. If you know me in real life or can (hopefully) tell from my posts, I'm a pretty upbeat person most of the time. And that post, while cathartic to write in that it helped me work through my disappointment, wasn't very fun or upbeat like I hope I come across.

That's not to say there isn't room for seriousness on this blog but the post sort of fell into the "if you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all" category - and since it was a whole hodge-podge of things, I felt I couldn't pick one issue and write about it as eloquently as Karie did in her blog post about knitting as lifestyle brand. So I chose not too. While this is a personal blog, it's also how a lot of people find me in the industry and being professional is something that I take very seriously. There wasn't anything unprofessional in what I was writing, but no one likes a whiner (see "if you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all" above).

But going through that process and making that choice has ignited something different in me, or perhaps re-ignited something that was already there but I've been pulled in too many different directions to pay attention to. I'm paying attention now! And it's exciting. I feel re-energised, re-engaged. That's not to say I know exactly how everything will move forward now, but for the first time in a while, I don't feel like I'm stuck in the same place doing the same thing because I'm too busy to do other than just put one foot in front of the other and keep moving.

I'm sorry to be vague! But I'm happy to be back to focusing on the positive. Maybe I can find some time to focus on my knitting too. Onwards!

Decisions, decisions

I'm at loose ends this morning.

I finished a project in the wee hours of the morning (no, you can't see it yet - it's meant for another rare Friday FO) and am still basking in that self-satisfied glow that comes from being really pleased with what you've just knit.

Okay, just a sneaky peek!

Okay, just a sneaky peek!

(Personally, I think this is the 'high' that knitters chase. That smug, chuffed feeling of having turned string into something wonderful and useful and fabulous. It's our superpower! Also not to be confused with the knitters' 'high' of euphoria that comes from casting on something new, which as we all know is something else entirely...)

As thrilled as I am to be finished a project, I am completely paralyzed in terms of what to work on next for the month of March. And as we know with my WIP count, there's no end of options to choose from.

These colours remind me of those large, ornamental cabbages

These colours remind me of those large, ornamental cabbages

Option 1: Handspun and a WIP
Continuing on with the inadvertent garter stitch theme of 2015 would be returning to Rachel's latest beautiful design. I'm also conscious of the fact that I haven't knit with an SweetGeorgia in a while so this handspun in Spring Garden fits the bill. And since the shawl is already started, hopefully a WIP wouldn't take too long.

My SweetGeorgia handspun is all about gardens - this colourway is Midnight Garden

My SweetGeorgia handspun is all about gardens - this colourway is Midnight Garden

Option 2: SweetGeorgia Half-and-Half
Another SweetGeorgia and handspun option is the Lady Pearl vest. It would be a new cast on, but a perfect layering piece for the transitional weather we've been experiencing here in the UK. I'd use my SweetGeorgia handspun for the body and their Superwash DK in a complementary colour for the yoke.

Still a little more swatching to go to see if I'm on gauge

Still a little more swatching to go to see if I'm on gauge

Option 3: More Handspun
I've been itching to cast on for the Gradient Pullover and have been swatching diligently the beautiful handspun that Rachel made for me for this project. While I want plenty of time to finish it before September so I can wear it to this year's GLYC, I've also been thinking that this sweater is a great summer project for me and would work into the Yarn in the City pre-GLYC 2015 and Pop-Up Marketplace KAL that we're planning on having. (Note to self: come up with a better name for the KAL!)

Hmmm... do we think I could finish this in time to wear at the Edinburgh Yarn Fest?

Hmmm... do we think I could finish this in time to wear at the Edinburgh Yarn Fest?

Option 4: Malabrigo March
It is March after all, and I've not knit with any Malabrigo in a while. Handily, I have a WIP that was cast on in early 2013 that could potentially be a quick-ish knit. The Helix Vest by Shiri Mor has cables to really take advantage of the smooshy Malabrigo goodness, is sleeveless  and it helps with working on my WIP problem.

Do I dare try to tackle lace again?

Do I dare try to tackle lace again?

Option 5: A Different Challenge Entirely
This option fits in with being part of the Cold Sheep thread that I've joined on Ravelry. There are a  number of challenges to help keep people motivated and on the straight and narrow! The Rock Island shawl by Jared Flood is something I've been planning on knitting for AGES and there's a mini-KAL happening on the thread with this project. My hesitation here is that it would mean starting something new, I'm not sure I can knit a whole lace shawl in a month to qualify for the challenge (and I'm competitive like that!) and I'm not confident my lace skills are up to par. But, it would be using more deep stash, which would be awesome.

Help me choose won't you? Pretty please?