Marimekko Love!

Bold prints, bright colours, lots of nature, and general happy-making: that's how I would describe Marimekko, a Finnish design company. This weekend, I got to check out the Marimekko exhibit at my local art gallery - total delight! I had a really great time. I love Marimekko's design esthetic and loved seeing some of their work up close and in person. The exhibit tour also raised some great questions and got me thinking.

The docent for our tour group asked us consider whether items produced by Marimekko, things like fabric and clothing and housewares, are still art. She told us that Marimekko sometimes called their fabric "Art by the yard". Does being on a purchasable commodity or consumer product mean that their images are no longer art? It seemed that nearly everyone in my tour group felt strongly that Marimekko's work IS art, absolutely, even though apparently some tour guests (in previous tours) had argued that it wasn't art and did not belong in a gallery at all. 

I wish I had participated in the discussion more. The casual but thoughtful chat reminded me in a very visceral way of grad school seminar discussions. In particular, it reminded me of that feeling of being able to have an opinion in response to an idea, and then to articulate it coherently, with both respect for dissent and discussion as well as confidence and excitement. I love the exhilaration and adrenaline high of exchanging ideas like that, where if you're quick and thoughtful at once, it feels like a huge victory.  Discussion groups were really what I enjoyed most about grad school.

Anyway! The gallery docent's central questions for us were around the relationships between art, craft, and consumerism, especially since Marimekko creator Armi Ratia's explicit intent was to create "a lifestyle", not just things for people to buy. I feel really strongly that wearable, usable, tangible objects CAN be and are often art. Why shouldn't they be? If they bring us joy, if they stimulate an emotion in us, if they challenge us or make us think, then to me, that brings them into the realm of art. Our docent quoted William Morris: “If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Yep, that seems like a pretty excellent thing to strive for.

 A little bit of Marimekko gift shop swag. Who could resist? A couple of notebooks and a cool postcard in my favourite green. I think these are both useful and beautiful.

A little bit of Marimekko gift shop swag. Who could resist? A couple of notebooks and a cool postcard in my favourite green. I think these are both useful and beautiful.

I'll also say that I think clothing and self-fashioning are important and can be deeply meaningful, artistically and creatively. Just because you buy something and use it or wear it doesn't empty it of meaning and value. On the contrary - I think that choosing items to put on your body and then to go out into the world can be a powerful moment of meaning-making and of communication. (It's not always: sometimes clothes are for utility or safety or necessity. But clothes can be rich with intentional and chosen meaning, if you have the means and opportunity for them to be.) When I choose clothing, what other items have I chosen to pair with the thing I bought? How do I wear them? Where? Why? How do I FEEL when I wear them? How do others feel? Wearable art isn't just a cliche. Not everything we wear at all times has to be art, but the point is that it CAN be. 

 Dresses: 100% fantastic. Where can I get some? :)

Dresses: 100% fantastic. Where can I get some? :)

The Marimekko exhibit also raised themes around feminism and freedom in dressing, which I love thinking about and wrestling with. Armi Ratia intentionally chose simple, non-fitted silhouettes for her garments, at a time (post WW2) when fitted waists and skirts with volume were much more dominant. Both as a historian (I study beauty and body history in Canada during WW2) and as a woman who gets to choose what I wear, thinking about why and how people, especially women, have chosen to dress and style themselves, as well as the societal constraints and freedoms around clothing, gender, and style, feels natural and meaningful for me. A few months ago, I read Women in Clothes, a book which gave me SO much to think about (worth checking out if you're into these ideas!) I find the shapes, boldness, and brightness of Marimekko's clothing exciting and compelling; I also really admire Ratia's original intension, for women to have clothing that they can feel free in. Of the dresses they had on display at the gallery, I would enthusiastically wear all of them.

 The far right print seems like it's ripe for knitting imitation!

The far right print seems like it's ripe for knitting imitation!

Finally, textiles in general are especially meaningful for me, as a person who sometimes gets to make her own fabric with yarn and needles, or to make her own yarn with fiber and a spindle. Seeing these fabrics was a real pleasure. One of the prints on display even struck me as a perfect inspiration for a knitted blanket, in the same vein as Angles by Martina Behm. I just find colour and pattern to be so powerful and stimulating! Definitely art. Important, joy-making, art.

Some Photos That I Used to Know

Hi! I haven't been knitting much (okay, at all); still trying to rest up my chronically tendonitis-ey appendages. I do have something pretty to show you though - and it's not yarn for once! 

In high school, I was lucky enough to get to take several classes in photography. We used black and white film, developed our own negatives, and processed our own photos in the darkroom. It was fantastic, a creative pursuit that I found addictive. 

Once I was out of high school and no longer had access to a darkroom, I kept taking photos on colour and B&W film, and just had them processed at a photo store. I missed the darkroom but still loved making photos. Digital photography has never really made my heart beat fast in quite the same way, and I stopped taking (what felt like) artier photos years ago. But! I recently came across a folder full of my old photos. I'm sure to some they'll look weird, dated, blurry, juvenile, amateur, or just boring, but they remind me of a time when I felt particularly creative and when taking photos was a meditative, thoughtful and exciting experience for me. I like looking at them :) 

Maybe I'll share more of these old photos sometime! Are there creative or artistic mediums that you used to pursue but now don't? 

Lemon Yellow Happiness Explosion!

Hello! 

Remember back when I was obsessing about Vancouver indie dyer RainCityKnits' lovely bright colours, thinking that I'd like to make a Neon Ski Bonnet (designed by Lacey Volk) with some of their yarn? Well I am extremely spoiled, because my lovely mom sent some my way as a Christmas present! It had to be hand dyed, so it took some time...

 FUTURE YARN! How cute is this little note she sent me?

FUTURE YARN! How cute is this little note she sent me?

And yes, I do have a "Keep Calm, Carry Yarn" magnet :)

So the lovely yarn arrived IN PERSON this past week! THREE squishy skeins of worsted weight superwash merino in the "Lemon Yellow" colourway. I thought it was so pretty and perfect that it deserved more than one or two photos. I started out just looking for other yellow things in my apartment, and ended up going a little bit glamour shots... It's so pretty, it glows. TRY not to smile looking at this yarn!

 OOOH!

OOOH!

PS How beautiful are the labels on this yarn? With the Vancouver skyline? So lovely.

Okay, so other yellow stuff in my apartment that really didn't even compare to how yellow this yarn is:

 Dinosaur card!

Dinosaur card!

 Rubber glove!

Rubber glove!

 Cat things!

Cat things!

 Mustardy bedspread

Mustardy bedspread

 And then um, ACTUAL LEMONS! Just to show how aptly named the colourway is.

And then um, ACTUAL LEMONS! Just to show how aptly named the colourway is.

As usual, somebody sneaky was very interested in all of this yarn action.

I'm SO excited to have this yarn in my stash. Hopefully it won't be waiting there too long! I'm still planning to make a Neon Ski Bonnet with it, but since I have three whole skeins, maybe some little matching mittens, too! If you were going to make some minimal mittens (that are conservative on the yardage side) with Lemon Yellow, what pattern would you use? And how do you feel about neon yarns? Too bright, or just right? Let me know what you think! :D

The best: I won some yarn!!

Yarn contests. They are ALL over the internet. Blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter, and even Instagram: they're all fertile spaces for bloggers, yarnies, indie dyers, and designers to share yarn, patterns, and other prizes with the people who follow them. I can't even count the number of yarn contests I've entered over the years. A couple of weeks ago, I WON ONE! This package arrived...

Yarn win!

...with my prize in it!

Yarn win!

The contest I won was run by Anna from Mythic Yarns, and my prize was this gorgeous skein of merino, cashmere and nylon yarn (Anna also very generously added some delicious chocolates to my package!). The colourway is called "The Golden Fleece", and I REALLY love it! The golden, slightly mustardy yellow with little hints of white throughout is super super pretty. Miss New Zealand definitely approved!

Yarn win!

Yarn win!

Yarn win!

Yarn win!

I am SO excited to use this pretty pretty yarn. It's totally my kind of yellow, and it's lovely and soft as well! You should definitely check out Mythic Yarns. (Here's their etsy store!) I love a lot of the colourways - and their names! Like, "Aphrodite was made of seafoam?" and "LEPRECHAUN BARF"!! - so creative :)

Yarn win!

I feel crazy lucky to have won!! Yay :) Yarn is the best thing you can get in the mail, I think.

By the way, Anna, the dyer at Mythic, is also a pattern designer. She recently released a very pretty fingerless glove pattern that would pair perfectly with my winning yarn, or with most fingering weight yarns you might have in your stash. Check out Twisted Scarlet!

And on that note, I wish you all excellent luck in entering yarn contests in the future; I hope you win something someday too!

Happy Christmas!

Happy holidays, no matter what you celebrate! I hope you've had a good break, or at least some time with family, some tasty food, and some rest. Ideally, I hope you've had hugs and lots of yarn to squish :) My holiday has been lovely, with so many good things, and LOTS of snacks. No knitting (wrists, ugh), but lots of Ravelling and thinking about future projects.

xmas!

xmas!

xmas!

xmas!

xmas!

Aside from all the holiday niceness above, I also got this package in the mail yesterday...

Yarn win!

It contained yarn :) I'll show you what was inside soon! Happy, happy holidays.

Neon Confetti Obsession!

I had a tendonitis flare up this weekend (SIGH), probably from too much computer work on Friday, so I haven't been able to knit a single stitch this weekend. But I've been thinking thinking thinking about what I'd like to cast on next. Not that I've finished anything recently - sloooowest progress on my Chevron blanket and my hexagons blanket and my greeny-gold Cold Mountain and my spinning and everything else... BUT. I've been thinking about this yarn.

Rain City Neons + Vic skyline

RAIN CITY AMAZINGNESS!

Remember this? I picked it up back at Fibrations in August (which is when I took those sunny photos). It's a 75% superwash merino, 25% nylon blend sock weight from the FANTASTIC Rain City Knits (seriously go over there right now... if you love bright colours and rainbows and happy saturated yarn... you'll be into it.)

IT. IS. SO. PRETTY!!! So cheerful and happy and amazing.

Neon Confetti Amazing!

I wound it up.

Neon Confetti Amazing!

Neon Confetti Amazing!

It's not even depths-of-winter yet or anything (and even when it is, where I live, it's not super cold). AND I like cold, gray weather. But this bright yarn is making me super happy! LOOK at all of the little speckley coloured bits! It's mostly pink, yellow, and blue, but then there are surprise flashes of green! and orange! and purple! Loooooove. I think the colourway is called Confetti.

Neon Confetti Amazing!

I'm pretty sure I've decided what I want to make with it: Clincher! Here's a picture from the designer, Ash Kearns' blog (which you should definitely check out):

Clincher

The pattern requires a little bit of contrast yarn for the loops, which are added at the long, cast of edge of the shawl's triangle shape. I'm thinking of using some bright blue that will complement the blue bits in the Confetti skein! Very excited. Now if only my dumb body would co-operate!

Share Season: Juniper Moon 2014 Spring Share Time!

Hi! It's been a hot minute since I last posted! The last month has kicked me right in the butt. I got the BEST mail recently: YARN MAIL! My 2014 Juniper Moon yarn share arrived! YEAH!

(Are you familiar with Juniper Moon and their yarn CSA? 2015 is the last year they'll be offering shares, so if you're into it, get one while they still exist! There are other similar systems now, but JMF is the original and, in my opinion, the best.)

Anyway - my share yarn! Ooooh :)

YES!

This is 100% cormo wool - cormo is a breed of sheep, and they grow wool which is squishy and soft and amazing. I love it. The 2014 share is the 5th annual share I've had the pleasure to receive (mostly as gifts from my amazing family - Hi Family!). This year, the share came with a super cute stamped project bag and a customized measuring tape! It also shipped in a box, which my cat was very interested in.

Bonus awesome bag!

Feline yarn supervisor.

Shareholders have the option to have their yarn sent to them undyed (I did that last year!), or to have it dyed in a very limited range of colourways which change each year. This year, I went for the Orchid colourway, which is this gorgeous gray-toned mauvey colour.

Orchid gorgeousness

Oooh purpley

Mauvey

Soooo pretty. Yes.

I have some fairly firm plans for this yarn. Every year I've had a share, I've knit a sweater out of it. (Here's 2010 (blue), 2011 (pink), and 2012 (green) - I still have last year's undyed 2013 share waiting to be knit up, because I focused on finishing Shepherd last winter!)

TRUE BLUENANTUCKETMy new favourite sweater! High quality tags :)

The 2014 yarn share in Orchid is, I think, destined to be a cardiganized version of Knitty's Beatnik pattern. I am a huge fan of the Beatnik cables, but am also a committed cardigan wearer. (Check out this amazing version!) I may not have it finished this winter, since I have such drastically reduced knitting time (to keep my wrists healthy), but knitters are patient people, right? ;)

Seaglass Spinning

So, I have had a crazy busy couple of weeks since the fair! Changing schedules, lots of other personal stuff keeping me busy, sheesh! I'm excited that's ALMOST fall, because I like fall just about as much as I like fall fairs (so um, a lot). All that personal busyness, combined with continuing to be very careful and mindful and minimal around crafting, to keep my wrists healthy, means not a ton of progress on all of my projects. BUT! I have been doing a little bit of spinning. For some reason, the last few years, late summer and early fall seem to be the time of year that I remember how fun spinning is. Several years ago, I took a spindle spinning class at one of my local yarn stores, and then was gifted some extremely beautiful handmade spindles by my cabinetmaker brother-in-law. And THEN figured out that spinning fiber tends to be a bit cheaper than yarn even... so now I have LOTS of fiber, and LOTS of spindles, and occasionally I actually combine those with my HANDS and get to making yarn :)

So, here's the fiber I pulled out of my stash (which is, thanks to a recent closet downsize, sadly in bags in a pile... sigh.): It's 4 oz of 22 micron merino pencil roving from a (now out of business) local dyer, Everything Old. (The dyer now has a fabulous knit/spin/sew podcast - check it out: The Knitting Pretty Podcast!!) The colourway is what pulled me WAY in when I bought this at Fibrations 2012; it's called "seaglass".

Seaglass Pencil Roving

Holy gorgeous, right?

Seaglass Pencil Roving

Even smushed up in its bag it looks pretty great :)

It has been a delight to spin, so far!

spinning

spin-2

And how pretty is this spindle?

spindle

I'm planning to ply this, although I haven't yet decided whether it will be 2-ply or 3-ply. Feeling pretty excited about how fine I'm able to spin it, though! And dreaming about what I'll eventually knit with the yarn. I'm a VERY slow spinner (spindle + still park & draft + only spin once in a while), so it will be a long time until this is a knitting project, but it's so so fun and at the end YOU GET YARN! If you've never tried spinning - do it :)

Saanich Fall Fair 2014!

Finally, the fall fair! We went last weekend, and I haven't had time to share the news until now (because we also moved last weekend... busy times!) This post has kind of a ton of photos, so I hope you're into that. First, I won't lie, I went to check out the Needlework Room, since that's where my entries were! (In case you missed it, the post about what I entered is here.) Out of four entries, two won blue ribbons! SO EXCITED! Both the cabled mittens and the Shepherd Hoodie won in their categories :) The other two things just got to be part of the fair, which is also pretty excellent as far as I'm concerned. The Shepherd Hoodie also won the Victoria Knitters' Guild award for best Fancy Knitted Sweater! So cool. I love fairs. (And if I'm honest I really like winning stuff too.)

Winning Mittens! (The white ones)

Winning sweater! (The white one, again)

My garter spectrum blanket!

Other awesome stuff we saw in the Needlework room: an incredibly cool knitted salmon, a crazy intricate knitted gingerbread house...

Coolest knitted SALMON!

Incredibly intricate knitted gingerbread

The whole room was full of amazing things, which of course I failed to photograph. Oops! I did snap lots of other cool fair stuff though. Vegetable dude!

Incredible vegetable dude

Tiny adorable plants!

Tiny tiny plants

Apples make me feel like fall is right there. Right?

APPLES GALORE!

Beautiful and leafy!

Thanks for the instructions 4-H!

How to Ice a Cake. Thanks 4H!

I ate these. Also mini-donuts which I failed to photograph :)

Hot dog. Onion Rings. Yes.

MOHAIR GOATS!

Regular goats and mohair goats!

ALPACA PARTY! I got to pet one. What.

ALPACA PARTY! I got to pet one.

Sheep haircut time! Just a trim.

Sheep in the beauty chair

Brad: "Do you know why some of them wear coats?" Me: "YES! It keeps their wool cleaner and prevents it from being discoloured by the sun. KNOWLEDGE!"

Sheep in coats

Sheep buddies :) Their faces are basically the cutest.

HI SHEEP FRIEND!

Cows

Sunflowers

Fluffy bunny

Prize winning eggs! This colour is bananas.

Prize winning eggs

Bye fair! I'm already excited and planning for what I'd like to enter next year.

Bye fair!

Is there a local fall or agricultural fair near you? I heartily recommend them :)

FIBRATIONS Recap!

On the weekend, I got to do one of my very favourite things - attend a local fiber festival! I'm lucky to live in a place that has a thriving, excellent local yarn and fiber culture. Our most awesome local event is called Fibrations, and it's pretty delightful. Vendors, artisans, and community groups set up at St. Ann's Academy, and there is tons to see and do and buy (and eat - there are even food trucks)! The whole thing is run by one of our best local yarn shops, Knotty by Nature.

Unfortunately, every year I end up getting sidetracked by all the yarn and fiber and taking too few and mostly terrible photos.

Terrible photo of vendor tents!

Raffle Ticket Tent!

See? You can't really tell how awesome the event is from those. Oops. This one is a lot better:

Humming Bee Farm's incredible banner

Isn't Humming Bee Farm's banner AMAZING?

Even though I did not take great photos, I had SO much fun :)

Excited Fibrations Face!

I DID take lots of photos of the yarn and fiber that came home with me. Here's my haul!

Fibrations Haul woooooo!

Let's break this down, shall we? My first stop was the RainCityKnits booth. I'm a pretty unabashed RainCity fangirl - I even knit a sample sock for them last year in their Local Sports Team colourway. Krista is the mastermind behind the company, and she is SO sweet! She was totally lovely to chat to :) I had planned to get something neon and solid coloured from them (I want to make the Neon Ski Bonnet for myself this winter, and obviously RainCity is the place to go for NEON!), but in the end I was seduced by THIS, which is on a merino/tussah silk base:

Rain City Neons + Vic skyline

RAIN CITY AMAZINGNESS!

AAAAH NEON SPRINKLES!!!! I loved this skein SO MUCH that I kind of walked around the festival with it around my shoulders. Isn't RainCity's needle gauge cool, too? I love it! If you haven't seen RainCity's full neon awesome line, check it out right now! (Warning, everything is beautiful and vibrant and you are going to want all of it basically.)

My next must-see stop was JOMA yarn, new to me and sooooo full of gorgeousness. I picked up a skein of stunning one of a kind hand dyed sock yarn (the CRAZY BEAUTIFUL colourway is "Wild Child", and the base is Glam Panda - merino, bamboo, and nylon) - it's greeney and yellowey and has spashes of teal and bright happy red/pink and yeah I love it. I also got some mini skeins at the JOMA booth, because they were beautiful and super affordable and perfect for my Six'es blanket!

Joma, huge new crush.

The mini skeins are (top to bottom) are Circus Clown, I Fought the Law, and She Wore a Raspberry Beret. So darling!

I also got some spinning fiber. First, from Humming Bee Farm, 2 ounces of green, hand dyed Corriedale wool! This may be a surprise but I am into green ;)

Corriedale from Humming Bee Farm

From Ba-a-ad Ass Textiles, I also got 4 ounces of super pretty Romney wool!

Fiber scores!

The colour makes me think of winter ocean at Dallas Road :)

Even though I'm still only knitting and spinning a tiny tiny bit because of my sensitive, sore wrists, I'm really excited about my new yarns and fibers. Ahhhhh, fiber festivals :) I'm already looking forward to next year!

GUESS WHAT TIME IT (almost) IS!

It's aaaaaaaalmost FALL FAIR TIME! Sign

As you may remember from last year, I am a HUGE fall fair fan. I just kind of love everything about them, a quality which has baffled a lot of my friends lately. But seriously, what's NOT to love about them? Crisp weather (hopefully), adorable animals of all kinds, deep fried foods, farmer's marketey produce and products, a midway, and exhibits full of hand made entries! I love love love fall fairs :)

Last year was the first year I entered things I had made into the fair since I was a kid, and it was definitely as fun as I remembered! I even won some ribbons, which was delightful.

A few days ago, I dropped off my entry form for this year's fair. Eeeee! Not the actual entries yet, those don't need to go in until shortly before the fair in a few weeks.

Entries!

So, based on those only slightly cryptic categories, can you guess what I'm entering? (You don't actually have to guess... I'm going to tell you because EXCITEMENT!)

First, a plain sweater, which can only have garter, stockinette, and ribbing. Remember this guy?

Cozy!

Plain! And cozy :)

Next, a sweater with "fancy stitching"!

Shepherd

Basically, there are 3 categories of sweater - plain, fancy, and traditional aran. Even though this sweater has aran elements, I don't think it's a "traditional" aran. Hence, fancy stitching! I'm really really proud of this sweater, so I hope the judges like it.

The third entry is a baby's blanket. I'm entering this happy thing!

A pop of colour!

I know the difficulty level is very low, since it's all garter stitch, but I love the colours, so I'm going to enter it :)

Last thing! MITTENS! I'm entering these softie cabley beauties.

Here's to warm hands!

That's it! I still have a few weeks to wait until the actual fair, but I'm really looking forward o it already. Are you entering anything in your local fair? If you never have, DEFINITELY consider it! It's really fun, and helps to support agricultural fairs so they can continue to exist. Yay fairs!

Custom knitting bags... for me?! :)

Guess what lovely surprise arrived for me in the mail the other day? These amazing handmade project bags! 2014-07-28 18.27.27

My mom is an accomplished patternmaker, designer, and sewer (she even has a degree in design!), and she sewed me up these two awesome bags. What a special gift, eh?! She saw some bags at a knitting marketplace recently, and then noticed these two fabrics in a fabric store, and came up with these - her own design!

They're both fully lined (each with the opposite fabric from the other bag! So cool!), and have a great toggle attachment as well as a handle.

2014-07-28 18.23.32

2014-07-28 18.26.33

I am so excited to use them. I never seem to have enough project bags, and I end up stashing WIPs in my closet in a messy pile (so that my cat can't get into the yarn, it HAS to be put away at all times. She is sneaky. She ate a huge piece of ribbon recently, which was both extremely scary and very dangerous. Cat health is my #1 priority, and yarn security is also important!)

As you can see, SOMEBODY thought the bags were actually for her... incorrect!

2014-07-28 18.24.52

I'm already storing my greeny-gold Cold Mountain in the smaller bag, and deciding which project will get the honour of living in the larger bag! Very much looking forward to carrying these around town with me :) THANKS MOM!

Hexagons Catchup!

Hi! Happy July! I'm still not actively knitting. Resting, resting, resting my body (mostly wrists and arms). Well, resting them in the sense that I'm not knitting. I can't get away from typing and writing and other hand-active activities (I made those terms up, could you tell?), because jobs.

But! I have some hexagon pictures to show you from a couple of weeks ago :)

I'm working sloooowly on the Six'es blanket (pattern by Karen S. Lauger). I want it to be as full-sized as possible, so I'm aiming for 189 hexagons. I'm currently at... (drumroll)...

Hex pileup!

75. Oh.

I thought I had way more complete! Look at the height of that hexagon tower! That's okay - it just means more fun time knitting hexagons in the future. (Also, look at all these crazy yarn tails!)

One million yarn tails

I also had some new yarn to knit hexagons with - I had a birthday a while ago, and was gifted a Knitpicks gift card! Here's what I chose: four colours of Knitpicks Palette yarn!

New Yarn!

Let's zoom in a bit closer...

Happy colours

Oh yeah. LOVE those colours! I started with the pistachio green, and then cast on with the royal blue.

Pistachio Half Hex

Pistachio Hex

Cobalt Blue Potential

Blocking, as always, makes a HUGE difference with these little shapes.

Hexa-bath

Ta da!

Hex blocking

Even though this project is super slow going, I'm still enjoying working up these little 6-sided jolts of colourful happy. Hopefully when my body is back in knitting shape I'll be churning out more of them!

The good kind of spoiled!

Hi friends! Life has been BUSY! I had some work related travel, and was able to squish in some family visit time as well. I also had a birthday, and was throughly spoiled with gifts and kindness (and home made desserts... including pie, cheesecake, and my favourite, piecheesecake - which is a bottom pie crust, fruit pie filling, a layer of sort of cheesecake [cream cheese, whipped cream, and sugar I think], all covered with chocolate. It is. Amazing.)

Other than the desserts, a lot of gorgeous presents landed on me! Show and tell? Yes!

Mug + tea!

Super sweet mug!

Tea strainers!

Charming tea strainers! (I drink SO much tea. Especially because I've mostly gone off coffee in the last 6 months.)

Notions case!

Notions case!

Amazing notions case! So sparkly and green and useful!

Book!

YARN FARMY READING! :D

Leaf bookmarks!

Happy, green, leafy...

Leaf bookmark in action

BOOKMARKS!

Super special hand dye made by mom!

Yarn! Hand dyed! BY MY MOM! IN GREEN AND YELLOW!

Waterloo Wools prettiness!

In the Jungle!

More yarn, from Waterloo Wools, in a colourway called "In the Jungle", which is super super pretty and amazing!

SO SPOILED!!!

Are you lucky enough to get yarny gifts for your special occasions?

Happy Things :)

There have been lots of happy things in the past week! I've spent lots of time drinking tea...

This calls for tea.

Making (and consuming) fall-feeling desserts, like this Cardamom Gingerbread...

Tastiest!

Staying inside while perfect, gray days unroll outdoors...

Rainiest!

And hanging out with my furry, occasionally cuddly cat!

Furriest!

 

There's a lot of knitting going on, too - but most of it is secret, for now :)

Garter Stripe Blanket - Finished!!!

When I last posted about my spectrumey, garter stripe blanket project, it was nearly done - I had finished all the coloured stripes, and I had finished the natural cream wool garter border. Since then, I've added a gray i-cord edging, woven in all the ends, and taken a few ton of glamour shots! First, some details about the i-cord edging. I'm kind of an i-cord fanatic. It's so simple, but it look so professional and tidy! I certainly could have called the blanket "finished" after the natural garter borders, but I'm thrilled with how the i-cord edge looks.

I love the Purlbee's attached i-cord tutorial, here. For this blanket, I used a 3 stitch i-cord edge. Whenever the item I'm adding i-cord to is round, I cast on provisionally (I like this crochet cast on), so that when I get back to where I started, I can undo the provisional cast on and graft the two ends together. Be careful - grafting top to bottom a little bit tricker than normal kitchener stitch. The best visualization I've seen is on a fellow Raveler's project page: check it out here!

So! I worked the 3 stitch i-cord edging all around the blanket, skipping an edge stitch every inch and a half or so in order not to stretch out the garter stitch and keep everything nice and tidy. I used Briggs & Little Heritage yarn in medium gray, leftover from an Owls sweater I made a few years ago.

One or two other specs, in case you'd like to make something like this: I cast on as many stitches as would fit on my longest circular needle (174, it turns out). I knit 20 rows/10 ridges in garter stitch per colour, x 10 colours, for 20 coloured stripes. Then I picked up along the long edges of the blanket (200 stitches per side: 1 stitch in each garter ridge), and worked 20 rows/10 ridges in cream yarn. On the short edges, I worked the same 20 rows of garter in cream (I left the coloured stitches live, and picked up 10 stitches from each top edge of the cream borders from the long side). Finally, I added the i-cord.

Without further ado, behold! A TON OF PHOTOS!

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My cat, Miss New Zealand, *really* wants the blanket to be hers. Any time I lay it out, she climbs on and settles in immediately.

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Once I wrestled it away from her adorable napping self, I took the blanket outside for a little photoshoot! I definitely plan to enjoy more cups of tea on my balcony with the blanket.

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I think it works inside, too!

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Guess who popped over for blanket time?

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Lastly, a few shots of the wrong side of the fabric - for full disclosure!

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I think I've come a very long way from the very first blanket I ever knit, which I pulled out of the closet this week. I made this old blanket in stages, in 2003-2004. I knit big, garter stitch squares on straight needles, and then seamed them (very, very badly) together. The yarn is this crazy, neon, bouclé stuff that I really loved back then... (Lion Brand Bouclé Multi, to be precise.) I remember many pleasant evenings working on it, while living in university residence and watching Law & Order with my college friends.

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I'm glad I still have it, first because it's serviceable and warm (and machine washable!), and because it's nice to compare it to my most recent blanket project and think about how much I've grown as a knitter and a person in the ten years between these two big, soft pieces of knitted fabric.

I find blankets to be such satisfying projects, even if they can take a long time. I've already started another one, with a different pattern (and a different yarn weight)! More details about that another day :)

WOOOO FALL FAIR! :D

I really, REALLY love fall fairs. This week, someone asked me what I was most looking forward to at the fair, and I just could not pick only one thing... there is SO MUCH to see and do and eat! (Disclaimer: I should warn you, this post has about one million photos.)

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I also entered some knitting and spinning this year, which was super fun.

Here's what I dropped off on Friday for judging:

A pile of fair entries

That pile has two sweaters, a large shawl, a pair of mittens, and some handspun yarn.

I'm not even going to pretend that I didn't head straight for the handcrafts room once I got to the fair - I really wanted to see whether I had won any ribbons! To my excitement, I did :)

Winning plain sweater!

The yarn for the sweater above is neat because some of it has a Vancouver Island connection! The pink and green yarn in the yoke is from Eastwin Farms, and was hand-dyed by Leola of Leola's Studio. The natural yarn is from Juniper Moon Farm!

Winning Hooray sweater!

The yarn for this green cabled sweater is pretty special too - the 2012 Juniper Moon CSA share yarn!

In the Hand Knitted Shawl category - "Special Mention"!

Winning mittens!

I will definitely aim to enter again next year. Everyone running the fair and staffing the handcrafts room was really sweet, and seemed to be enjoying the fair as much as I do!  The handcrafts section was full of amazing things, from displays with information about wool and knitting to masterpiece creations, like a fully hand knit cornucopia! The genius of the i-cord green onions blew me away completely.

Wool facts! I did know this stuff, actually.

Knitting display

Incredible knit cornucopia on display!

Next up, time for some fair food. I went for a classic: a hot dog with fried onions!

Hot dog - a must!

After that, we checked out the vegetable, fruit, and flower exhibits. I have a totally black thumb, so I was amazed at the gorgeous produce people grew! Everything from giant squash to tiny cucumbers to HUGE kale to beautiful dahlias.

Giant squash!

Giant Kale!

Tiny cucumbers!

Longest beans

Neat tomatoes!

Carnivorous plants

Dahlia!

There was also some incredible baking on display, like this multi-seed challah!

Challah with many seeds

A fair wouldn't be a fair without tons of amazing animals, either. There were sheep, goats, birds, bunnies, and both alpacas AND llamas galore!

Sheep sign!

Whoa, sheep sign!

Sheep butts

Sheep deets

Goat buddies

Alpaca!!

Serious flowing mane action.

Oh hello pretty!

Llama butts

Winner of best hair feathers

Lovely duck

Sweet gray dove

Hello soft rabbit!

OMG BUNNIES

We even caught the end of some recreational agility dog races, which were so fun to watch. I don't think I've ever seen such happy excited dogs and trainers!

Dog races!

We finished out the fair with another must: mini-donuts!

Mini-donuts are integral to the fair!

I can't wait until next year :)

See you next year, fair :)

Happy Things This Week...

There have been some very happy-making things in my week this week... Seaglass (and one piece of sea tumbled pottery!) collected at my very very favourite beach.

beach glass!

An adorable and inexpensive pin featuring a Gemma Correll matryoshka cat!

Matryoshka cat!

Tomatoey broth and melty cheese on a rainy day. Yes.

yup, delicious

Awesome yarn bomb seen in the wild!

yarn bombing!

A calm and pretty walk by the water at sunset.

walks by the water at sunset

The best thing that ever arrives in the mail: yarn and a surprise from a dear friend :)

howdy hurray!

What's been making you smile?