Olympic challenge update …

Hello knitters! How goes your knitting challenge for the Olympics this year? Are you on pace to reach the medal podium? Bronze? Silver? Gold?!!

Well, even though I started 2 days late, I was quite confident that I would get my challenge done before the closing ceremonies this coming Sunday. Now, I’m not so sure …

As they said in Smokey and The Bandit … “We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there … We gotta do what they say can’t be done!”

To reiterate, my challenge was to design, knit, and write the pattern for a sweater. I’ve mostly designed it (I’ve changed my mind about the Guernsey cable detail), knit the front and back (again, up to the ridge before the start of the detail), and patterned out up to where I’ve finished so far. Here’s what I have right now …

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I’m quite pleased with it so far and I’m LOVING the yarn – SuperSexy by the Buffalo Wool Co.! It’s a Bison down/silk combination that is warm, and delightful to work with. Even though it has a firm texture that “feels” like a sweater, it is quite soft to the skin and has great stitch retention.

So what happened to put me behind so much? Well, in a nutshell, summer showed up here in Vancouver, BC. We’ve had a crazy few seasons going back to winter last year. We actually didn’t have much of a winter at all … more like an extended fall. It was very mild even though the local mountains got lots of snow. Then spring arrived early and with it a month and a half of “summer heat”. So much so that all the produce has been a full month ahead of schedule this year.

Then summer came according to the calendar and the long days/nights, but the weather was very sporadic alternating between spring/summer/and fall throughout the weeks. This was primarily why I was so confident that I would finish this in the 15 days I had. Then, like I said, in the last 2 weeks, summer has been here in all it’s glory!! I love it, but it has cut into my knitting time. I’ve been hiking, blading, swimming, riding my bike, and working on my tan! 😉

So much so in fact, I haven’t seen much of the games. I’ve caught a few volleyball matches (Go Canada) and seen Usain win the 100m for the third time (Go Jamaica), but I have missed a lot … and with that a lot of knitting time as well!

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Still, I am confident I will at least get this knit. That will mean I will have finished the design and knitting portion of the challenge. If I do that, I’ll give myself a silver medal … but being the competitor I am I’m still going for the GOLD!!

How is your project coming along?

Hugzzz 😎

Keep Calm and Knit on!

There’s a tradition that has become a staple in the lives of many knitters when the Olympics come around. Even though the IOC tried to ban it and had the unofficial “official” name changed, us knitters are a pesky lot and still carry on the not to be named tradition of casting on a new project during the opening ceremonies of the games with the goal of casting it off before the culmination of said games. Well, this year is no different and I urge you to “compete” by challenging yourself to this very task. It doesn’t have to be an afghan, or pi shawl, or anything that large and/or complicated. Of course, if you’re up to it, go crazy! But a scarf or cowl or baby jumper will be fine as well. This is meant to be a challenge that will challenge you but should also be attainable. We all have different time commitments and you only have 17 days to complete it. Actually, there’s only 15 left now. 🙂

I, myself, and doing a sweater. I was swatching some SuperSexy yarn from The Buffalo Wool Company on Thursday and not knowing what type of sweater to make with it (it was always going to be a sweater). It then struck me to make a Guernsey (even though SuperSexy is DK weight, it will work very well) and with some help from Shannon (thank you again by the way), I got a rough sketch of what I want it to look like. It should make a great addition to the collection of sweater patterns I’m working on.

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The above picture is the swatch after blocking. I will end up ripping it back to the end of the stocking stitch portion and sew that piece into the sweater when it’s finished for and repairs needed in the future. As you’ve probably guessed, there will be cables in this sweater! 😉 Actually, here is a rough sketch of what it will look like.

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It’s a raglan design in the swatch, but I’m certain I will make it a drop shoulder design. I am allowed to change my mind, right?! 😉

So after some measurements of the swatch and calculations, I cast on yesterday while at work (I did get to watch some of the women’s rugby) and got this much done …

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I can’t tell you how impressed I am with this yarn too! SuperSexy is the perfect name for it. It’s a 50/50 combination of Bison down and Silk and an absolute dream to work with. It has a great hand while knitting and after going through 3 skeins (50g/140 yds) I have yet to come across a single knot!! Great job Ron!! I will do a full review of the yarn in a future post, but right now I can’t wait to finish this and put it on! With that said, time to go watch a bit of the games and get more knitting done!

I’m hoping to have this completed and the pattern done by the end of the Olympics. Wish me luck as I’ll need it!

Hugzzz 😎

Color me wowed!!

Have you ever seen “Clown Barf”?

It’s kinda funny! No, really, it is!

Have you ever knit with it? No, it’s not some new fiber developed by the knitting community. Although, it’s creators certainly have the intelligence and background to probably do that!

Well, thanks to Nicole and Cordula, (Kalessin and Haramis17 on Ravelry – follow the links to see some of their great works and designs), you can if you want to! And it’s actually much more pleasant than it sounds. Click on this picture to see how. It’s a merino/silk/cashmere lace weight yarn from DyeForWool.

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Clown Barf is one of the many uniquely named colors from the creations of these 2 doctors. Yes, that’s right, doctors, as both ladies have a PhD, Cordula in molecular medicine and Nicole in biology!! Together, these 2 enterprising women have created DyeForYarn, where they come up with hundreds of colorways and dye silk and wool based yarns for sale.

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Nicole (left) and Cordula, the brains behind DyeForYarn!

So what takes someone from the worlds of molecular medicine and biology to create astounding colors in a dye lab? Their story is a great one and recently I had the pleasure of asking Cordula and Nicole that very thing!

  • How did the 2 of you meet? How long have you been friends?
    ~ We met back at the university, where Cordula just finished her PhD in molecular medicine and I started my PhD in biology, continuing her research in the same field. We soon became friends long before knitting was a thing in our time off.
  • You’re extremely intelligent women as you both hold PhD’s. What got you into dyeing and do you still practice with your PhD’s?                                                                                      ~ When you’re working in a medical science lab, most of the time there’s no reward for what you do. Plus the experiments have to be repeated over and over to create reliable statistics for publications. You can publish once a year, when you’re good and you get a slap on the back for your work when you’re lucky. So in our free time we discovered knitting – especially complicated lace shawls. A very rewarding pastime in addition to creating something that you can actually use.
    That led to the need for lace yarns in solid colours, preferably silk. Which there wasn’t much of in Germany at the time. So after a few Etsy orders which we placed in Canada or the US, we thought we’d try dyeing yarn ourselves. It was very much fun – and very rewarding – so we decided to sell them on Etsy.
    Ravelry helped a lot with creating our international success, because we showed our FO’s knit in our yarn and people started to notice us. Btw Cordula is Haramis17 and I’m Kalessin on Ravelry (I change my hair colour now and then). Five years ago we quit our day jobs at the university and have been working in our dyeing lab full time since then.
  • You have a lot of silk in your yarns. Is this your favourite fiber? If not, what is?
    Yes, in fact it is! It’s a very special material, sometimes hard to work with, but always worth the effort.

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  • How do you come up with the names of your colours? Do you always try to make sure there is some sort of idea as to what the color may look like or do you like to make it amusing?
    ~ Sometimes we dye a colour and it’s clear to us from the first glance, how it’s going to be called. If the colour resembles a certain plant, for example, the name we choose usually indicates this particular plant dyeing or already being dead. But there are colours where it’s hard to determine which hue it actually is. We call those “non-colours” and they get names like “Misanthrope” or “Depressed thoughts”. But not randomly chosen. We still try to find the most fitting name possible in our eyes.
  • How do you get inspiration for your colourways?                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ~ We get our inspiration from the things surrounding us. Sky, sundowns, nature, architecture etc. Or from interesting things or names we read in books or hear in songs.
  • What is your favourite colour (each of you)?
    ~ Nicole: Dozing by the pond
    Cordula: Nocturnal maelstrom

dozing by the pond    noctournal maelstrom

 

  • What is your least favourite colour?
    ~ Actually we like all colours, because each one has its charm. Before we started dyeing yarn the answer would have been “pink” from both of us. But you start to look at colours differently when you work with them all the time.
  • You are both very beautiful women! Do you have a colourway to match your eyes? They’re stunning!                                                                                                                                  ~ We just had a look at our eye colours. Cordula’s are a gradient of Too hard butter cookie, Burning haystack, Rain in a graveyard and Face of Fear. My gradient ranges from Fango and then the same colours as Cordula’s. In fact the colour Set with our bitter tears is very close to both our eye colours.
  • In your introduction about yourselves, you mentioned that your desire lead to a need for lighter and lighter yarns. Do you only work with fingering/lace weight yarn? Will this always be the same?
    ~ At the moment lace and fingering weights are still our favourites, for shawls as well as garments. But we also carry a Silk/Merino DK weight and a super soft pure Merino Sport weight which we started to use for garments as well. So there are definitely options for using heavier weight yarns in the future.
  • With the multitude of Indie-dyers on hand, how do you manage to stay on top in this extremely competitive industry?
    ~ When we started our business back in 2010 there weren’t that many Indie-dyers in Germany. That was one of the reasons we decided to dye our own yarns. We offer mostly solid to slightly semi- solid colours, which are especially great for elegant stoles and cardigans. Colourwise we try to dye every colour there is, from very, very light to almost black, from muted to intense, from pale to saturated. This and the special yarn qualities we carry is our way of trying to stay ahead.
  • You’re a great success in Europe. Any chance of seeing you overseas at one of the knitting conventions here?
    ~ Actually most of our customers live in the US and we also have a few retailers there. If it wasn’t so expensive to travel overseas with 80 to 100kg of yarn, we’d definitely consider it.

Needless to say, there is so much more behind these women and their wonderful creations. Below are a few links that will get you pointed in the right direction to see their wares. I’d definitely recommend a click onto their sites. The names of the colors alone are entertaining enough, but the vivid colors they create are simply astounding. I especially like the fact that the vast majority of their colors are solids, as that is still my preference as it allows a wider flexibility when putting colours together in a creation. I know Joie would agree! 😉

DyeForYarn (German website – use Translate in your browser to see other language versions)

DyeForYarn Etsy (Etsy shop – silk based fibers)

DyeForWool Etsy (Etsy shop – wool based fibers)

DyeForYarn Instagram

As a special treat, Cordula and Nicole have set up a special 10% OFF discount coupon in their Etsy shops for anyone reading this blog post! Click on one of the above links, and when you place your order, use the code DYEFOR10 with your order! But hurry, this will only be valid until Monday July 25th!

I really like the ranges they create in each colour, and being a fan of blues, you can probably pick out some of my favorites. And as for the names, lol. Here are a few of my favourites …

St. Patrick’s Day Parade Gone Awry, Giant Clam Closing Forever, Melting Milk chocolate Truffles, Tweety’s Revenge,

First glimpse of a Supernova, Fury in the Slaughterhouse, and Bat in a Dark Mood.

I could write lots more, but I urge you to check out the site(s) and revel in the delight of colours and fibers you’ll find! Comment below and tell me three of your favourites! If you can pick only 3! 😉

 

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Hugzzz 😎

Measure Twice, Knit Once …

I love books! I always have and always will.  Knitting books are even better and I am always looking for the next book to add to my knitting library. Yes, a knitting library. There are books that I find intriguing because of a special technique, or vividly colored photos and some of special interest to me personally. Then there are books that I think are absolutely essential in order to develop my skill in the craft of knitting. This review is about such a book …

Made To Measure … knit a perfect fit every time by Deborah Newton

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I promise you that in no time at all, this will become one of your favorite knitting books. It’s essential for one simple reason – we’re all different shapes and sizes! How frustrated have you been when you’re seen a garment and thought, WOW – only to realize that there weren’t any instructions on how to make it in your size? Or you wanted to change the neckline? Or make the sleeves longer? Or would rather a raglan sleeve instead of set-in or vica versa? This is actually part of the reason I started knitting in the first place!! I wish Deborah had written this book when I first started knitting!!

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This book is full of concise explanations and diagrams to guide you to making that next garment fit YOU perfectly. It’s a must have tool whether you’re adjusting a pattern you already have or designing something yourself from scratch. Deborah calls on her years of extensive experience in garment design to expertly teach you how to choose and make garments that fit and flatter.

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Regardless of your body height/type/shape you’ll be able to make a custom fit garment that fits you like a glove!

There’s also a section on tips and sample projects with something that’s sure to appeal to you!

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If you’ve ever wanted to make something for yourself and be assured that it would fit in the end, this is a must have book for you! If you’ve ever picked up your needles and a pattern and thought “what if I could make this in my size” … this book is for you! If you’ve ever wanted to know how things are made so you can customize something in the way you wanted, this book is for you! If you’ve ever picked up your needles, yarn, and a pattern and had to make something a specific size, this book is for you!

As I mentioned in my previous post, Deborah Newton has generously donated a copy of this book to be given away! Soooo, that’s what we’re going to do!  I will be giving this copy away to someone in our Close Knit Community! If you haven’t joined it yet (it’s free and keeps you in the loop on lots of cool things in the knitting world – like this), you have until Monday midnight (PST) to join. Here’s the link … Close Knit Community! I’ll use a random number generator to pick a winner and announce it in my blog post on Tuesday. If you don’t win it, you should definitely check it out and/or get yourself a copy! I can’t tell you how invaluable my copy is to me! The link above will take you to the Amazon page where you can get yours or check with your LYS to see if they have on their shelves.

I would like to personally thank Deborah not only for donating a copy of this to give away, but also for writing it in the first place!

 

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Huge hugzzz 😎

Close Knit Community

Every now and then something happens that just puts a smile on my face! Yesterday, this very thing happened. I was coming home on transit from a day on a commercial for Wells Fargo when I noticed the Chinese lady behind me had a unique pouch for her Compass Card. That’s the card that we now use for our transit system to pay our fares. The color – a dark cranberry – caught my eye first.

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When I looked closer I realized it had been knitted. I tapped her on the shoulder and asked if she knitted it herself. Her response was a perplexed look and I realized instantly that she spoke little English. I pointed to the pouch and pointed to her and asked if she knit it. She made the universal motion with two hands of someone knitting. We made a connection!! I then communicated to her that I also knit and showed her the project I was currently working on.

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I then made the symbol with my thumb and forefinger of OK and said very nice. She then proceeded to take out her compass card and give me the pouch. I inspected it, admiring the intricate detail in such a small object. The work was immaculate and precisely done. I was duly impressed with the delicacy of the work and found myself visualizing her hands manipulating 3mm needles to achieve this level of detail. And it had CABLES!!!! Can you believe that?!!

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It was a raglan vest with a centre cable panel flanked by two twisted stitch cables on either side! It has a collar and a shoelace closure as well! Color me impressed!!! I nodded and smiled my approval and tried to return it to her. She would have none of that. She insisted with her gestures that I keep the pouch. I was touched.

I am amazed at the generosity of everyone in this amazing community of ours – our Close Knit Community! I don’t know how long it took her to make this, but even if it had only taken 5 minutes, for her to just give it to me, a total stranger, says so much! I couldn’t thank her enough and barely got the chance to as she was getting off at the next stop, going swimming at the Community Center. I gave her my card and hope she makes contact in the future.

knit pouch

And speaking of Close Knit Community, I did promise there would be things happening with that this week. In that regard, there will be a blog post on Saturday reviewing Deborah Newton’s book – Good Measure. This book is very dear to me because it is one of the reasons I became a knitter in the first place. More details in the post. After the review is posted I will be holding a draw and giving away the copy that Deborah so generously donated to a member of our Close Knit Community. If you haven’t joined yet, do so before Saturday for your chance to win the book. I’ll announce the winner in the post. Even if it’s not you, I highly recommend you adding this book to your knitting library as it’s an invaluable resource!

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This is just a sample of one of the many illustrations in the book providing detailed explanations on how to get the perfect fit for whatever you’re knitting! See you Saturday!

Hugzzz 😎