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

 

Woolly weekend randoms

OMG where does the time go? There's been a lot of travel and goings-on in the last couple of weeks (who am I kidding - months!) and I'm sorry the blog is just one of those things that seems to fall by the wayside.

This picture pretty much sums up the fun we had this weekend! L-R: Dani, Catherine, me and Rachel

This picture pretty much sums up the fun we had this weekend! L-R: Dani, Catherine, me and Rachel

I spent this past weekend recharging my batteries in the company of my girlfriends - all of whom are truly amazing, beautiful, clever, wonderful women. I'm so lucky to have them in my life and am so thankful to have found a group of stitchy friends as dear to me as my gals back home.

Some of you may remember my tweeting this photo of Rachel and Alison following last year's successful jaunt to Wonderwool Wales.

Some of you may remember my tweeting this photo of Rachel and Alison following last year's successful jaunt to Wonderwool Wales.

In the last couple of weeks we managed to throw together a slightly planned yet slightly impromptu excursion to Wonderwool Wales and it was just perfect.

There were alpacas.

There were alpacas.

Baa Ram Ewe won a ribbon.

Baa Ram Ewe won a ribbon.

Catherine took the Mercedes of spinning wheels for a test drive.

Catherine took the Mercedes of spinning wheels for a test drive.

We made new friends at the new  Midwinter Yarns .

We made new friends at the new Midwinter Yarns.

Shetland sheep were there too.

Shetland sheep were there too.

This knitter very kindly let me get a photo of her awesome skulls cardi.

This knitter very kindly let me get a photo of her awesome skulls cardi.

The rainbow of SweetGeorgia colour was proudly on display at the Purlescence booth.

The rainbow of SweetGeorgia colour was proudly on display at the Purlescence booth.

While  Kettle Yarn' s Islington was also very popular (and so sweetly displayed!).

While Kettle Yarn's Islington was also very popular (and so sweetly displayed!).

My stash haul included the new ChiaoGoo DPNs kit - although technically that's for work and not stash!

My stash haul included the new ChiaoGoo DPNs kit - although technically that's for work and not stash!

There was also yarn for a new design project, and a kit to try something new.

There was also yarn for a new design project, and a kit to try something new.

Why yes, that is a new yarn bowl. And glass spiral shawl pin, and a very restrained single skein of "non-work" yarn.

Why yes, that is a new yarn bowl. And glass spiral shawl pin, and a very restrained single skein of "non-work" yarn.

And the time in the car was spent productively too!

And the time in the car was spent productively too!

Thank you so much for your patience as I get back to finding my blogging groove. Blogtacular is in a few weeks. I'm sure it will help.

Stash enhancement - Japanese style

Hello! Hello! I know it seems like I fell off the end of the earth with regards to this blog but I'm back and I can't wait to show you all of the busy things that I've been up to!

We were a little jet-lagged upon finally arriving at our hotel (after landing in Tokyo at 5am!) but were pleasantly surprised to have this view of Mt. Fuji from our window!

We were a little jet-lagged upon finally arriving at our hotel (after landing in Tokyo at 5am!) but were pleasantly surprised to have this view of Mt. Fuji from our window!

The biggest thing was an actual holiday trip with Jordan to Japan! Granted, it was more of a holiday for me than for him as he was there for work, but I tagged along and spent my days hopping on trains and criss-crossing Tokyo to see a few sights and a lot of yarn and craft shops!

The final soup stage of a delicious shabyu shabyu dinner being served up.

The final soup stage of a delicious shabyu shabyu dinner being served up.

The Giant Buddha at Kamakura.

The Giant Buddha at Kamakura.

We had three very full, very lovely days at the end of the trip where we were able to do all kinds of touristy things and it was wonderful to relax together - especially knowing that Mr. H was well taken care of by Grandma and Grandpa back in London.

I know it looks like mostly yarn, but the books were heavily in favour as stash enhancement on this trip, they're just buried underneath!

I know it looks like mostly yarn, but the books were heavily in favour as stash enhancement on this trip, they're just buried underneath!

I'm planning another blog post on all of the various shops that I visited, but let's just say there were quite a few! And of course I tried to find something different from all of them. 

The latest issue of Keitodama.

The latest issue of Keitodama.

Knitting designers Arne and Carlos even have a regular column in Keitodama - that's how popular colourwork is!

Knitting designers Arne and Carlos even have a regular column in Keitodama - that's how popular colourwork is!

Apparently two years ago there was a large contingent of Japanese knitters and yarn store owners who traveled to the UK for Woolfest in Cumbria. It seems to have made an impression as the latest issue of Japanese knitting magazine Keitodama was all about Fair Isle and various stranded colourwork.

One of the shops I visited had put together a beautiful book on their trip to the UK which includes some beautiful patterns and gorgeous photographs. I can't read it, but I thought the photos and patterns were too wonderful to leave behind. It was also the only way to get a photo for the shawl kit that I bought! (You also couldn't get the pattern for the shawl without buying the kit, which is why four balls of Isager, that I can easily get in the UK, came home with me from Tokyo!).

Knitting socks Japanese style! There's one in here for a garter stitch sock knit flat and seamed on the side that I'm looking forward to deciphering.

Knitting socks Japanese style! There's one in here for a garter stitch sock knit flat and seamed on the side that I'm looking forward to deciphering.

Two-at-a-time sock tutorial.

Two-at-a-time sock tutorial.

You'll remember that I'm not really a sock knitter but in another of the shops I found the cutest book with a wide variety of sock patterns. I really liked this one as there are photo tutorials (many Japanese craft books and magazines I looked at followed this format) for some clever techniques, including two-at-a-time socks! Won't it be funny if this book pushes me over the edge into sock knitting?!

The rest of the books were on weaving, Japanese cloth folding (called Furoshiki - kind of like origami, but with fabric), and some stitch pattern books - which I was surprised took me until my last day to find a selection to choose from that I was happy with. I also picked up a couple of pattern books of a Japanese designer after seeing someone in a knitting circle knitting one of her shawls. The designs are really lovely with wonderful textures.

Funnily enough, of the yarn I bought, it is the Lotus brand, which I can't remember if I'd heard of or not before being there. It's a Chinese brand, as opposed to Japanese but it was so soft and wonderful (the red yarn is 100% mink, the other three skeins are 100% yak) that I decided it had to come home with me. As luck would have it, I've now figured out it is available in the UK! Oh well, so much for trying to find something different!

Almost finished ball 5 of 10 of the Noro Silk Garden I'm using to knit the  Lady Eleanor Entrelac Stole .

Almost finished ball 5 of 10 of the Noro Silk Garden I'm using to knit the Lady Eleanor Entrelac Stole.

But since I was so busy touring in Tokyo, my own knitting languished (not that I minded!). I'm off to pay it some attention as I'm on a bit of a deadline knitting a thank you present for my mom for looking after Mr. H. Appropriately, I'm knitting it in Noro...

Wovember Wrap-up

I originally meant to post this as a WIP Wednesday, seeing as how it's really just a bunch of photos of what I've been working on lately. However, since it's also been Wovember this month, I've also made a conscious effort to knit exclusively using wool.

Wovember?? I hear you ask. Well, if you've not heard of Wovember, it's a new-ish movement (established in 2011 by designer Kate Davies and friends Felicity Ford and Tom van Deijnen), cleverly twisting the name of that other well-known November cause - Movember - and exists as a celebration of all things woolly. It's a great idea to have a whole month dedicated to the celebration and the grassroots nature of the campaign lends an authenticity to the discussion by encouraging craftspeople to share their own stories and experiences with wool:

Wovember is about showing our collective appreciation of wool by wearing as much of this fabulous fibre as possible, and by celebrating its unique qualities in stories and pictures throughout the month of November. Through our enthusiasm and creativity we can raise awareness of what makes wool different, and jointly create a force for wool appreciation strong enough to effect changes in how garments and textiles are described and marketed. - Wovember web site.

It was a long queue for the Eiffel Tower so I kept busy with my knitting!

It was a long queue for the Eiffel Tower so I kept busy with my knitting!

Wovember for me began while I was in Paris with my DH. Even though I'd chosen a French pattern to celebrate being there, my yarn choice was a yummy British Falklands fingering weight yarn.

Not much progress, I'm afraid. But I'm loving all the shades of grey in this hand-painted yarn!

Not much progress, I'm afraid. But I'm loving all the shades of grey in this hand-painted yarn!

Sadly, the train on the way there and in queues for various attractions was the only time my knitting saw any progress as when we got back I moved back into wrapping up a few Christmas presents and other things.

Possibly the most awkward knitted thing to photograph while on the needles, ever!

Possibly the most awkward knitted thing to photograph while on the needles, ever!

Speaking of other things, this WIP baby blanket has been the other project mostly keeping me occupied this month. A hardy Cascade 220 Superwash is what has been used. I'll post more details as soon as it's done and I can get some proper pics taken. It's just too unwieldy while still on the needles!

A bag full of yarn, fresh with possibilities!

A bag full of yarn, fresh with possibilities!

And to wrap up the celebration of all things woolly this month - my package from The Shepherd and The Shearer arrived this week! Funny how this blog post has now come full circle - Kate Davies is actually one of the designers on this project. She has a great archive of blog posts about the project, if you're interested. The wool smells wonderful and sheep-y, but sadly this project will have to wait until the new year for me to get started on it.

What woolly things did you knit on this month?

Vodka Lemonade: Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

Starting this sweater in March I was hoping to be done by May, but apparently large swaths of stockinette stitch are my kryptonite  . And what with being the world's pokiest knitter anyway, this project kind of fell by the wayside until I got home from summer holidays and realised how little there really was to do!

Pattern:  Vodka Lemonade  by Thea Colman   Yarn:  SweetGeorgia Yarns Superwash DK  in Lemon Curd   Yardage (for the Pre-Process Stashdown 2013): 920 yards   Click the photo to go to my Ravelry project notes    

Pattern: Vodka Lemonade by Thea Colman
Yarn: SweetGeorgia Yarns Superwash DK in Lemon Curd
Yardage (for the Pre-Process Stashdown 2013): 920 yards
Click the photo to go to my Ravelry project notes  

Just as I'd hoped it would be, this sweater is now my favourite go-to when I want to grab something quickly as I'm heading out the door. The yarn is soft and comfortable but hard-wearing at the same time and I am in LOVE with the colour. It makes me SO happy! It's cheerful and bright, and in retrospect now is the perfect time to finish the sweater as we start heading into greyer days here in the UK. 

  Lots of little details broke up the monotony of the stockinette

 Lots of little details broke up the monotony of the stockinette

The pattern by Thea Colman (of Baby Cocktails) is also lovely. Her attention to the little details are what I think really make this sweater stand out. From the seed stitch collar to the button-less edging and the raglan detail and lace panels - all combine to take a beautifully simple sweater and elevate it to the next level. 

  Thanks to Karen for taking these photos while we were exploring the colleges at Cambridge during her visit!

 Thanks to Karen for taking these photos while we were exploring the colleges at Cambridge during her visit!

This was my first every top-down sweater and I have to say that I'm now a huge fan! Being able to try on the sweater as I was knitting it was a huge bonus and considering this is only the second sweater I've ever knit for myself with sleeves, I appreciate being able to try it on and have less opportunity to screw it up! My pal Jen also helped with some great pointers about fit when she had me try on the sweater this summer and I thought the flexibility of being able to adjust the size mid-knit was fantastic.

The sweater also looks just as good over a dress as it does with jeans - giving a little vintage vibe! The one thing I thought might bug me though, sadly does. I'm not used to a cardigan without buttons (my still-as-yet-unfinished Central Park Hoodie not withstanding) so that's taking a little getting used to. In the meantime, I've found a fab vintage-inspired pin to fasten the sweater closed when I don't want to be fussing with it all the time.

This definitely won't be the last Baby Cocktails pattern that I knit. In fact, I'm already contemplating Sambuca.  But for now I'm sticking to smaller things until the end of the year. It's time to switch over to Christmas knitting next!