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April 2017

Transitions, Knitting and Otherwise

Knitting, like life, is full of transitions. We switch from knit to purl. Purl to knit. We cable left. Then we cable right. At first, as we learn and make our way, it’s awkward. Sometimes it gets better, and we find our groove. Sometimes it just stays awkward. And, sometimes, a project doesn’t work out at all. The yarn is wrong. The pattern is wrong. The needles are wrong. Or maybe they even break.

So we transition to a new project, hopefully learning from our mistakes along the way.

I have to say, when I bought my first house almost exactly 14 years ago at the ripe old age of 23, I never thought I would someday move back into that very same house, a mother, more than a decade later. An older version of my younger self.

Way back then (truly, I can hardly even remember, it feels so long ago), I don’t think I ever even paused to consider that I would someday be a mother. I was busy doing all the things young people do–going to grad school, working, talking on the phone (a landline, tsk!) with my friends at great length, and generally seeking out my path in the world. The internet was barely invented. Hek, blogs were barely invented.

And then life happened, setting me on a path that oddly lead me right back to where I started in a way I never really saw coming or imagined for myself at any point along the way.

The universe is funny that way. I have always found that the outcome that comes to fruition is the one possibility I never even considered. Not for lack of thinking or wondering (because I am a thinker and wonderer, typically over-examining all possible routes to the point of nausea…), but because that’s how life works. We set our course as best we can, but the winds of change–forces greater than our best intentions–sometimes blow us in other directions. New directions. For better or worse.

The path before me is unclear, and really I am just trying to settle in to my new (old) home, overgrown garden and all. When I decided to move, the first thing I loaded in the car was my stash of yarn. I don’t know why. Maybe that just made it feel real to me. If the yarn was moving, I was going with it. Now, weeks later, it was one of the last things to be unpacked. (And it still isn’t organized.)

I wasn’t sure where to put it.

It has a spot now. It’s on a shelf in a bedroom that long ago was home to my old roommates, two of which are still lifelong friends. It’s weird to see the yarn there, in their rooms. It seems misplaced somehow.

Everything seems misplaced somehow.

But then I remind myself that it’s a transition. And it’s only yarn.

Eventually, everything (and everyone) will find its proper place, which may, from time to time, move to a new proper place.

And that’s life.

FO: Riverton Tee + MAJOR PATTERN DISCOUNT

[Hey all. Big News! The designer of this tee, Sheila Toy Stromberg, has generously provided a 50% off coupon code for Riverton! This deal ends on May 13th. This is not an affiliate link. I simply love this tee and am grateful to Sheila for a perfect design. Use the code Andrea_Riverton when you check out on Ravelry! $2.50 for this pattern is really a TREMENDOUS deal! It includes two killer video tutorials, so you’ll be all set for smooth knitting. Also, Happy Easter/Passover!]


Dear Lord,

It’s been about a year since I knitted my last top. At the time, it was the Rosemont cardigan by Hannah Fettig and I was having some SSS issues (you remember, Second Sleeve Syndrome).

Anyway.

Here I am, a year later, sick of working on cowls and working up a (somewhat) unplanned and generally impromptu Riverton Tee by Sheila Toy Stromberg. And it’s going marvelously.

For a while, I thought I might run out of yarn or something dramatic like that. But after weeks of fairly monogamous knitting, I crossed that threshold and realized all would be fine. I had faith. Maybe not in you (that’s a more complicated tale for another day), but at least in the amount of yarn (I was using Swan’s Island Fingering in Fig, by the way…good stuff).

So. There I am. Around and around. Bottom to top. I split for the front and back. Worked those up. Easy peasy. Joined the shoulders. Minimal seaming (thank you for that one, Lord…and Sheila). Not to mention, bless Sheila’s heart…she created these FABULOUS video tutorials that come with the pattern. They cleared up any confusion about the tricky bits.

Truly a miracle.

I trimmed out the neckline, skipping the button hole bit and simply joining in the round. What can I say, Lord, I have a small head so it worked. And I have this thing with buttons and buttonholes. Too fussy for me. One more thing to fiddle with and lose, or to generally go wrong. And I think we both know how the universe already has a tendency to lean toward Things Going Wrong, so let’s just minimize that whenever we can, right?

I worked up one sleeve. It went quickly. The end was in sight. The stray bits of yarn were already woven in and there was just one sleeve left to go.

The angels were harking, if you know what I mean. (I think you know what I mean.)

I ignored my family for an entire afternoon and worked up the second sleeve. Excited. Nearly done. A knitter with momentum should always stick with said momentum. It’s like a Law of Physics for knitters. When the going’s good, don’t stop. Remember that one, Lord. It’ll get you places. Or, at least, it’ll get you a sweater.

Do you wear sweaters?

Here’s the thing, Lord: I finished that second sleeve. I looked at it. Then I looked back to the first sleeve.

You know where I’m going with this, right?

They didn’t look quite the same. One was a bit smaller (the first), and one was a bit smaller (the last). I measured to be sure my eyes weren’t fooling me. (They weren’t fooling me.) The hopeful knitter in denial can sometimes un-see actual mistakes so they can just move on to the next project without having to GO BACK and fix the mistake.  It’s not uncommon. Trust me on that one.

My problem was thus: I didn’t know which sleeve I had screwed up. Was the first too small, or was the second too large? Which to fix?

You’d be proud of me on this one. I went with my gut. You’ll call that, faith, right? (I had a vague recollection of a seemingly out of place stitch marker near the end of working the second sleeve, so maybe we can split the difference and call this one an educated hunch…).

This is where a possibly sordid tale gets a happy ending.

I unraveled that second too-big sleeve and reknit it. That’s the good thing about knitting tees: the sleeves are small and knitting them doesn’t take nearly as long as working up an entire sweater sleeve.

Trade-offs. That’s where it’s at.

You know what?

It worked!

The sleeves matched. The tee blocked. It fit (I’ve goofed that one before, too, but no one’s perfect…have mercy on thy self, right?).

I love my Riverton. In fact, I’m wondering if you can have a word of two with the weather gods and see if something can be done about this ceaseless rain? I’d like the sun to come out so I can wear my new tee. Please.

I’ll owe ya one.

I wouldn’t mind a whole bunch of Rivertons in various shades in fibers. This tee is that perfect and all-purpose. I know wardrobe issues probably aren’t your biggest priority. (I get it. And, I agree. Poverty and misery should definitely come first. Let’s get on those, for sure). Maybe after we solve world hunger, we can get back to that Riverton issue, okay?

Thanks.

(And thanks to Sheila for an AWESOME design.)

Don’t forget to take advantage of Sheila’s 50% discount code. Use Andrea_Riverton when you check out on Ravelry. Good through May 13th. 

Introducing Knitley Road

So far, the Year of the Indie Dyer has brought me nothing but amazing things. This pursuit has turned a formerly one-woman show into a team effort, and that is truly much more fun. 

Last month, I shared my first sneak peak of one of my more recent projects featuring yarn from Knitley Road. I was lucky enough to work up a new cowl design in Stephanie’s all-Canadian rustic fingering in the Garden Party colorway.

There are just so many reasons that makes me smile.

Today, hailing from Edmonton, Canada, I am proud to introduce indie dyer–and a talented fiber artist in her own right–Stephanie of Knitley Road. In her own words. 

I learned to knit when I was very young from my Italian grandmother. My tension was so tight I could barely squeak the metal needles through the yarn, and I couldn’t cast on or purl to save my life.  I put the needles down for a long time, and picked them up again about 10 years ago.  By this time I had graduated University and was living 600 kms away from my knitting relatives, and realized I was going to have to learn how to cast-on, by myself, for real. I went to my local box craft store and got a little kit; it had bright metal painted needles, (US size 8), and a book “Teach yourself to knit” or something to that effect. I got pretty good at scarves and flat things; I started watching You Tube videos and learned how to knit cables. I was exhausting weekly coupons on inexpensive, readily available yarn.

Christmas gifts were hand knit, and my poor cousin was gifted my first pair of knit gloves, complete with ladders (remember I had only knit flat things to this point), and uneven fingers.  I jumped from scarves and gloves to knit my first adult sweater, (for myself)- a fir lace, knee length cardigan with a hood. It was a big jump. The pattern was found in a library book and I discovered a proper local yarn shop, which soon became a regular haunt, and learned about the wonderful world of wool and yarn outside of a box craft store.

Eventually there were too many knits to give away or to wear and I opened Knitley Road on Etsy in 2012, having sold my handmade greeting cards on Etsy since 2009.  I sold at local  art fairs, started writing simple patterns. When I moved from Ontario to New Brunswick last year, I intended for Knitley Road to continue along the path of knit items and patterns.  At a weekend getaway, a fibre retreat of sorts, a friend brought her acid dyes and told us to bring some bare yarn. After having experimented with dyeing my own yarn with food-colouring gels, using the acid dyes was a whole new world of colour for me to play in.

Soon after the retreat, I bought some acid dyes of my own, found a local small business selling bare yarn and started listing the hand-dyed yarns in my Etsy shop.  I love the process and surprise of creating a new colourway; at the beginning, many were single skeins so I could keep experimenting.

We moved from New Brunswick to Alberta last summer, and I’ve been lucky enough to find a local mill that processes Canadian wool, which has become the KR Rustic line.  Other bases are sourced from Canadian, American and UK suppliers; I’ll be introducing some new bases over the coming weeks, including New Zealand Polworth.  Knitley Road bases are those that I would personally knit with, and we will continue to offer both superwash and non-superwash, as available.

I’m gradually building a list of standard colourways, but I will always offer some one-of-a-kind skeins so that I can keep playing with colour.  My inspiration varies.Some of it is colour theory, and experience from making my greeting cards. Other times it’s from nature, or photography. Most recently, I’ve been working on my Canadiana collection, inspired by all things Canadian (accurate or stereotypical, we’re pretty good at laughing at ourselves, eh?).

My education and career is in health care. Knitting and now dyeing yarn, has become my creative outlet and my therapy, which I’m very proud and happy to share with the fibre community. I’m looking forward to seeing how this chapter of Knitley Road is written, and am so grateful to the support, collaboration and friendship of the fibre community. For as long as you let me play and experiment with colour, and be part of your fibre art, I’ll be here.

Stephanie

You can find Stephanie on Etsy here.

Spring Bucket List of Must Knits

Despite the deluge outside today, somewhere deep in my soul I KNOW it is Spring! This means I will be retiring the red wine for berry-based cocktails and sangria spritzers and (someday soon) sprucing up the dried out flower planters lurking on the front deck with some fresh starts. Outside, everything is blooming and actually has been for quite some time despite the ceaseless wet weather. Inside, everything’s a mess. Chaos remains, and the fire continues to crackle in the wood stove because IT’S STILL COLD!

Still, I know those bright days of knitting outside will be here soon, and I am planning for it! As is my custom, I’ve drummed up my latest seasonal knitting bucket list to share. I’ve got two words: shawls and tees!

Now, excuse me while I go choreograph a Please Stop Raining Dance in my kitchen. I’ve never before done such a ritual, so I will have to make it up. I think it will involve chocolate, fresh strawberries, and maybe cream.

Shawls!

I see lots of shawls in my immediate future! What can I say, I have an itch I have!

I couldn’t help but notice Crafty’s new Key of Life shawl kit. I think I want to work one up in Antique Fuchsia and Cloudy Skies. Or maybe Salt Water Taffy. Can’t decide!

Key of Life Shawl Knitting Kit

Still on the shawl kick, I am also loving the brand new Madelinetosh Penrose Tile shawl kit, which is over at Crafty as well. We all know Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light is one of my FAVORITE YARNS! I think I will pick Oceana and Paper for my colors. Eep!

There’s just something about these two-color shawl kits that seems like they would be fun and engaging to work up….always something different going on in the pattern to fend off knitting boredom.

I also have plans to rework my popular Twist Shawl later this month in order to make sure the pattern is perfect and reviewed by my tech editor. Anyone who has already bought the original pattern will of course receive any pattern updates.

And, don’t forget this is the Year of the Indie Dyer! I am chomping at the bit to work up a new shawl pattern with one of my favorite collaborators, Daien @ Beloved Yarn. Expect something yellow soon!

<div class="special">Marrakech</div> Beautiful DK

Photo by Daien @ Beloved Yarn

 

Tees!

I have really enjoyed knitting up Riverton, and it’s reminded me how quick and easy (and affordable!) knitted tees can be.

Photo by Sheila Toy Stromberg

I of course have this list of awesome tees already running in my queue, but then I remembered I have had Whispers in my Ravelry favorites for YEARS and I still really love it. (Yes, I realize it is remarkable similar to Riverton with those front pleats. What can I say, I like what I like!)

I need more hands!

Photo by Veera Välimäki

I truly hope bright and warm spring weather finds you soon! As always, I love to hear what’s on your own bucket list too, so please drop me some hints in the comments.

And…before I forget…if you are in the mood to be distracted with a last-minute Easter knit, I have a whole inspiration board over on Pinterest here. Check it out!

This post contains Craftsy affiliate links! Thank you SO MUCH for your support! 

Dispatch: Road Trip

Reed has always been such a good travel buddy, but now he’s a SUPER road tripper. Hours in the car up to Oregon, so excited to see his grandparents that he doesn’t even nap, immersed in searching for wildlife through the scopes of his binoculars, ever and always absorbed in his audio books. A quick blip to check out the great herd of elk among the tallest of redwood trees, breezing up along the Pacific, too windy to stop and play, lest we just blow away, up into the clouds, never again to land on this Earth.

A day in the snow. Alas Reed can finally where his ski sweater and hat to go SKIING. (To be honest, we may have driven five hours just so the ski sweater could finally see some action on the slopes.) Realize with some level of awe that snow really sticks to wool with a force not foreseen. Truly something. A walking four-year-old snow ball, snow gobbed onto wool, layer upon layer. Nothing hot chocolate can’t fix. All the same, the skis click on, he’s up, he’s down. The bunny hill is conquered, or so it seems, on this brilliant spring day.

Now, tuckered by his adventures, Reed sleeps. Mom (that’s me) finishes her wine and starts afresh on her top, now more confident that she will indeed have enough yarn after all. One less thing on the long list of worries.

Tomorrow, we fish.

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