KCBW Day 2: A mascot project

My task for the second blog post of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is to think of or research a project that embodies the house/animal that I identified the most with and/or that reminds me of the qualities of that house.

Dudes, this was HARD. I confess to having completely taken the challenge literally and immediately doing a search through Ravelry patterns with the single word, "bee". I thought I would want to do something with colourwork so refined my search parameters around that, knitting, for an adult, and came out with about 40+ pattern options to choose from, and none of which held any appeal.

Thinking about a bee, I'm not sure I really wanted a motif of one per se, but looking at other project images got me thinking more abstractly about bees and their stripes. From there somehow I remembered a new-to-me skirt pattern that a friend brought to my attention on Ravelry and I eagerly sought it out again: Tower of Strength by Jimenez Joseph.

Perfect mascot project for a Bee?

Perfect mascot project for a Bee?

It seems unfair to have hit upon the perfect (for me) mascot project so quickly but I do believe that it will work out amazingly well. The stripes are evocative of a bee, while the colourwork stranding is what I sought out originally yet at the same time unconventional and different enough to keep me challenged and interested through the project (and keeping a little bit of that monkey side coming through).

As luck would have it, I think I may even have the perfect yarn in my stash for this (links are to my stash pages on Ravelry):

Or not so lucky as the case may be since I was hoping that these would all be same weight. Still, with some gauge swatching and blending of the yarn and colours, it may come out all right, no? I must say, I am in love with the idea of the pale yellow/gold of the apricot mixed with the deep brown, and the pale pistachio evoking a sense of spring for a bee to be flitting about in... sigh.

Happily for this blog post we don't actually have to complete (let alone start!) the mascot project, but I must say I'm rather taken with the idea and think that I will need to revisit this pre-processed project idea once the cold months are upon us once again.

The Year in Review - 2010 Edition

If it was possible to become any more enthusiastic about the fibre arts, then 2010 was the year for the growth of that enthusiasm.

Growth in terms of inspiration. Growth in terms of knowledge and learning new techniques. 

Growth in terms of (ahem) stash. What can I say? It was a road trip kind of year...

Here's a recap of all I learned this year - it's a doozy!


What I learned: intarsia knitting, knitting with bobbins, and that sometimes your 2 year old doesn't want to wear something just because you knit it. Project: Pirate's Cutie Sweater by Shiri Mor (Rav link)


What I learned: how to knit lace (sort of - there's still a lot to learn!), that knitting with 100% cashmere is awesome, that 100% cashmere grows when it's wet, that knitting elastic can help make something knit in cashmere fit when it's grown too big in it's washing/blocking, and not to stress oneself out with a crazy deadline like the Knitting Olympics (which I also learned was pretty fun!). Project: Ishbel Beret by Ysolda Teague


What I learned: buttonholes, knitting things for new babies is fun, and the combination of baby alpaca, merino, and bamboo is pretty gorgeous and soft. Project: Striped Baby Sweater by Denise Powell (Patternfish link)


What I learned: that sometimes knitting the exact same thing can be just as fun, if not more so, in another colour. Project: Striped Toddler Sweater (pattern was through The Purple Purl)


What I learned: knitting in the round, cables, specialty stitches, finishing with finer attention to detail, and that private lessons for extra help are totally worth it. Project: Botanica Medallion Cardigan by Shiri Mor


What I learned: spinning is fun! especially when it's a combination of merino and silk...


What I learned: three needle bind-off, that my kid will tell random strangers on the subway that his mommy is knitting him a dinosaur hat and that it's green. Project: Morehouse Dragon Hat


What I learned: how to knit socks, and that it's okay to still not be sure that you might be one of those crazy-addicted-to-knitting-socks kind of people. Project: Training Sock by Kate Atherley of Wise Hilda Knits


What I learned: seaming/finishing, adapting a pattern to suit your own needs, substituting another yarn, how to find more yarn when you think you're running out (just in case) and then not need it after all, how to tweak a pattern so that the details are "better", how to plan and stick to a schedule when knitting a project in secret for 5 months, and that it is still possible to surprise your husband for Christmas. Project: Tom by Jane Ellison


What I learned: more cabling, that you can find last-minute things to knit from your stash and get a lot done on a plane out west just in time for Christmas for your mother-in-law to be delighted. Project: Cabled Keyhole Scarf by Anne Hanson  

What I learned: felting, that it's okay to leave something off of a project because you're not crazy about it after all, and that there's still always time to finish one more project when you're on vacation. Project: French Press Felted Slippers by Melynda Bernardi 


I also learned that no matter how hard I try, I'm always going to have projects on the needles, and that's okay. Other learnings included stranded colourwork, wheel spinning, spindle spinning, and photography for knitters.

And while this wasn't a new learning it was nice to have it reinforced all the same: that it's so important to have a creative outlet through which you can express yourself, and that if you can share that creativity too, it's so rewarding. One of my stitchy friends, Lara, moved back to Toronto this year and I can't tell you how lovely it is for our whole group to be back together again. Creating together, laughing together, supporting each other together.

It's kind of been a big year - I can't wait to see what comes next with 2011!

Julie & Julia for knitters

I had originally re-started my blog as an opportunity to explore the myriad of projects that I seem to have on the go, the result of a lot of start-itis and ability to be seduced by the thrill of starting a new project. The idea was also to see if I could finish any of them, not necessarily start more.

Of course, me being me, I find it only too easy to be inspired, and captivated by the enthusiasm of others as they start new projects too.

Which brings me to the insanity that is Miko, one of the purveyors of my favourite LYS, The Purple Purl. Over the holidays she saw the film Julie & Julia, based on the blog (and book) by Julie Powell. Miko (being Miko), decided wouldn't it be fun to do something similar, but with knitting? And the next thing you know, she's issued a challenge to PP regulars via the shop's newsletter and Ravelry discussion board. The challenge being that you must knit your way through a book (or magazine) of patterns, starting February 1st, 2010 and ending on January 31st, 2011. Daunting, no?

A few people started talking about it and getting excited, and jumping on board with various knitting books and strategies (i.e. opportunity to learn new techniques or work one's way through a favourite designer, etc) and I confess to having been so caught up in the relative novelty of the idea that I even went so far as to buy the Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Volume One: Knit & Purl with the misguided enthusiasm that I could learn new stitches and improve my knitting by knitting all 200+ swatches in the book!

I quickly realized with abject terror that knitting 200+ swatches would mean a lot of straight knitting for the most part five days a week on something that I might tire of very quickly without leaving a lot of room for other projects, in spite of the variety of the different stitches. A different book for another time, methinks.

Not to be completely waylaid, I've settled on a book that has been part of my knitting stash for a while, the delightful Whimsical Little Knits by Scottish designer Ysolda Teague. There are ten projects in total and all are relatively small and present enough challenges to keep up my interest. It will also be an opportunity for me to work through some of my yarn stash yet not break the bank if I decide I have to have something new for a project.

Wish me luck! My yarn is wound and I'm ready to cast on. My first project will be Ishbel, which I've been wanting to do for a while now, so it's a nice one to start with. I'll be knitting it in Lobster Pot Yarns' 100% cashmere 2-ply laceweight from Purl Soho in the colour Boiled Lobster. Progress pics to come as soon as I'm able.