Knit Elbow Patches

I loooove these knitted elbow patches from Anne Hanson over at Knitspot.  She’s got a nice write-up on how she did them, with lovely clear pictures.

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Image by Anne Hanson

In other, general life news, I'm pretty behind on my knitting because I've got more work lately (boo and yay!).  I'm nearing the end of the the Barley Sugar cowl and the end of my self-designed mittens, and we're also nearing the end of winter, finally.

Camouflage Knitting

I cannot even think how much patience it takes to execute a project like this.  A collaboration between photographer Joseph Ford and knitter Nina Dodd, camouflage knitting features some gorgeous knitted garments that fit perfectly into their surroundings.  Kudos to anyone detail-oriented enough to do this!   Spending the time knitting (apparently Dodd says she could spend up to 40 hours on a single garment in this collection) is something I could do, but the painstaking arrangement for the photograph is another kettle of fish.

All photos by Joseph Ford

Interweave Knits, Winter 2018

Cables and colourwork:  they're pretty predictable themes for a winter issue, though beautifully executed here.  The devil really is in the details.  Cabled hats are nothing new, but cables only on the brim of the Clinton Creek Hat (top row, left) are nicely thought out.  And on the Mount Lorne Pullover (top row, middle), a colourwork yoke where the pattern is pulled a little bit down onto the body and sleeves:  yes, please!  Another pattern for men (actually, there's quite a nice balance of men's and women's sweaters in this issue), the Eagle Island Cardigan (top row, right), updates the traditional Salish sweater and looks both light and warm.  There are also enough classic patterns to keep you busy, in the Iditarod Pullover, Ibex Valley Mittens, and Rohn Pullover (middle row, left to right).

And does my eye spy, at long last, a little bit of colour?  Huzzah!  Not that this issue doesn't have its share of winter white and stone grey, but red (!) and green (!) in the Grand Forks Pullover, Anchorage Cardigan, and White Mountain Ruana (bottom row, left to right).

I do think I'm going to be picking up this one, though I've got quite a backlog so I don't when I'll get around to knitting from it.  There just aren't enough hours in the day for everything I want to knit!

All images by Interweave Knits

From Sheep to Sweater

This story about Mati Ventrillon is incredibly inspiring.  Her operation on Fair Isle produces a true sheep-to-sweater product:  she raises her own flock of sheep, shears them, sends the fleece to Shetland to be dyed and spun, then designs custom fair-isle patterns and knits the sweaters.  And check out her awesome traditional "woollie horse" wooden stretchers:

  Image by Mati Ventrillon

Image by Mati Ventrillon

It reminds me a bit of Wooly Jenny's Fibre Adventures:

I’m so excited about my goal for 2107: To go from raw fleece of an animal to an FO all by myself. I want to experience scouring and washing, picking, carding/combing, dyeing, spinning and knitting or weaving it on my own.

Of course you don't have to do this; you are free to walk into any store and pick up any yarn you want and start knitting.  But I think taking a raw fleece through all the processing required even before you can beginning knitting is such a great experience and would give me such an appreciation for fibre producers and processors.  It's kind of like growing your own food -- it's not necessary, but it makes you really appreciate the effort that goes into food production and it also makes you really recognize the quality of food.

Protest Knits

Check out these pictures from Geraldine Warner's new book, Protest Knits:

I'm not usually into novelty knitting projects (though that smiley little uterus is pretty irresistible), but why not make something practical and subversive?  I really like the RESIST scarf (top left); I think it's the shadowing in the lettering that really makes it.  It also sounds like the book has some history of revolutionary knitting, along with patterns.  And if that's not enough rebellion for you, Heather Marano's book, Crafting the Resistance, offers more ways to outfit yourself while you fight the patriarchy.

Images from The Guardian

Free Pattern Friday: Knotions November 2017

Knotions magazine is coming out with a new issue, and there's a preview http://knotions.com/newsletter/preview-november-2017/ here.  You won't have to wait long to access the whole thing, though -- it will be released tomorrow (Saturday, November 18th).  I count 11 free patterns!

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The Autumn Cornucopia shawl looks really neat; it looks like it's shaped with short rows.  The detail on the Center Street pullover is beautiful, and I like that there are a couple of crochet projects too (the Snowcapped Cowl and Hat). 

As always, there are couple of articles on knitting techniques, and Knotions also has an extensive archive of patterns and articles, if tomorrow just seems too far away.

Knitscene Winter 2017

The Winter 2017 issue of Knitscene is out already.  A lot of white and light grey knits, predictably, with Heather Zoppetti's cowl being the only stand-out for me.  The issue does also have an article on stranded colourwork, which seems appropriate since at least a third of the patterns in the issue employ this technique.

I'm finding it hard to get excited about winter knitting now, probably because winter has already hit here!  That is, if you don't have something to wear now, you won't be able to leave the house until you do (because it's just too cold; highs this week are around -10 Celsius.  That's actually a warm-up, because last week the highs were more like -20 Celsius).  Then again, we can always use a new, beautiful winter accessory, right?  It always feels so much better to me to wear natural fibres like wool (unless you're allergic, I guess, though there are always alternatives) than the pilly, scratchy acrylics that ready-made knit sweaters and accessories are composed of.

Images by Interweave Knits

Field & Forage Naturally Dyed Yarn

There's a bit of a natural-dye trend going around the knitting world; you can dye wool with nearly anything out in your yard, garden, or pantry:  dandelions, strawberries, acorns, avocado pits, turmeric, black beans...once you start looking, a whole new world opens up.

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And if you don't want to start dyeing yarn yourself, Custom Woolen Mills (located near Carstairs, Alberta) has developed Field & Forage, a line of yarns dyed with natural products like hopi sunflower, dyer's chamomile, and tansy.  I love the idea of repurposing invasive plant species and putting them to good use, and their yarns have a deep, rich colour that's not often seen with natural dyes.  My favourite is probably the Pernambuco Dark colourway, a saturated cerise.  While the price of these yarns reflects their handmade-ness, a skein or two could add verve to a larger project, and since the 2-ply base for the naturally dyed yarn is also available in natural sheep shades, it would be easy to combine a dyed skein with undyed ones.  I also really appreciate how the collection won't always be the same; like nature, the colourways will differ from year to year depending on the plants that are available.

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All images by Custom Woolen Mills

Free Pattern Friday: Aidan's Socks

Is DK weight too heavy for socks?  Not necessarily; if your shoes or boots fit slightly large, they can probably accommodate a sock knit in a heavier weight (and that is therefore thicker).  I also have a pair of DK-weight knee socks that are the coziest for sleeping in, especially when I'm camping.

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This is all by way of introducing today's free pattern link, for Aidan's Socks, a pair of DK-weight socks with a beautiful cable, by Heather Marano (Rav link).  There's a little chart for the braided cable, and it doesn't look too complicated -- I like charts for cables or lace that will fit on a 3x5 index card, so I can stuff it easily into my knitting bag, and I think this one would fit the bill.  They're designed for men's size 8-10, but it would be easy enough to modify the pattern for a smaller or larger foot, as a large portion of the panel is reverse stockinette stitch.  As well, I feel like the socks are on the shorter side, but it would be easy enough to modify that as well if you like a taller sock.

Image by Olann and

All-Albertan Yarn

The ladies over at the Alberta Yarn Project have produced some yarn that was grown and spun in Alberta:  the fibre comes from sheep from two farms in central Alberta, and was clipped in 2017.  It was processed at Custom Woolen Mills, near Carstairs, Alberta. 

According to the website, there are two types of yarn available:

Harvest is a one of a kind blend of Black Welsh Mountain black fibre and white Suffolk fibre. The result is a beautiful, naturally heathered, steely grey 2-ply yarn that is perfect for your next worsted/aran weight project.

Heirloom is a lovely 1-ply yarn and is naturally dark black from Black Welsh Mountain sheep. A fingering weight yarn, perfect for intricate colourwork, or a beautiful lace shawl!

You can find the yarns and some kits at the Alberta Yarn Project website, though they do show up at fibre events around the province and hold Craft and Draught events in Edmonton. 

As much as I like bright colours and striking dye patterns, natural yarns are so appealing because they remind you of the animal that gave its fibre to keep you warm.  I think Canada and Alberta, in particular, have something unique to offer the world of knitting and fibre, and so this is such a cool project and offers a great way to try out Albertan yarns.

Images by Alberta Yarn Project

Back in the YEG

We caught a VERY early flight on Monday and we're back!  On the one hand, early flights help you not waste daylight hours travelling, but on the other, early flights make the day so. very. long....

But we made it.  We had a good visit -- I was looking through and I hardly took any pictures of the coolest stuff!  Mostly eating, to be honest; we had fabulous sushi, dim sum (the Richmond Hill has really upped its restaurant game since I lived there), amazing Himalayan food, grilled mahi-mahi at St. Lawrence Market, and of course, my mom's unparalleled home cooking.  And my sister and I took a macaron-making class at George Brown College (part of their Continuing Education division), which was so fun and instructive -- and of course I don't have any pictures of that, because we were so busy working.  We took in a stealth country music concert (long story; suffice it to say that no one expects a man who has played both the Phantom of the Opera and Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, and who is currently appearing on Broadway, to instigate a "hootenanny"), a brewery tour in Barrie, and spent a lot of time at the playground. 

We did make it to the zoo, and we saw the pandas (who will be moving to Calgary next year).  The exhibit was extensive and super-interesting, actually.  And the playful panda babies just celebrated their second birthday!  H also decided to have a dance with a beaver statue.    

As for knitting, I ended up only taking a sock project because of limited luggage space (I can't bring myself to pay to check a bag!), and I made good progress on it.  I turned the heel and am almost ready to start the cuff at the top, and since this is the second sock, the pair is nearly done.  Some of you may be interested to find that I had no trouble taking my interchangeable needle set or my set of DPNs through airport security, though they did give my husband a load of trouble over a ceramic-bladed vegetable peeler (go figure!). 

Designing Fair Isle Yokes: Tin Can Knits

Those ladies at Tin Can Knits are just a factory for knitting patterns!  They've recently released a pattern -- maybe more like a recipe -- for a customizable fair-isle-yoke sweater pattern, called Strange Brew (is it bad that I've never seen that movie?)  It is not easy to design a fair isle yoke, because the stitch count in the rows or rounds changes throughout the yoke, but you still have to achieve the correct shape in the yoke.  A recipe like this would be really handy for plugging in the patterns and colours that you like.

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And if you don't feel like designing your own, they have some great patterns with fair isle yokes already; Tenderheart (left) and Clayoquot (middle) have been out for a while, and Dogstar (right) is a new one.

I have quite a few patterns from Tin Can Knits in my stash, and they're all very clear and come in a huge range of sizes (I'm not kidding; they size from infant to plus-size-adult, which is pretty rare in knitting patterns), so you do get a lot in a single pattern. 

All images by Tin Can Knits

Free Pattern Friday: Herringbone Sweater

It's not often you find sweater patterns for free, and from so experienced a designer as Erika Knight, no less.

Perfect for wearing while gazing across a lake, the Irish breeze blowing through your beard, the Herringbone Sweater features a graphic pattern produced by a jacquard stitch (am I the only one who had to look that up?).  The black-and-white colour scheme is perfect, though I could see it done in cream and dark brown as well, and I betit's a thick, warm sweater.  It's on the advanced side (see instructions like "Join right shoulder with invisible stitch" and "sew sleeves into armholes to fit" -- literally, that is it) but with a good knitting reference book and a quiet nook, one could probably make it work.

Images from Olann and

Free Pattern Friday: Vallmo Socks

With an elaborate inspiration story and an intricate lace pattern (spread across four charts!), the Vallmo sock (on Ravelry) is arresting.  It is knit at a teeny-tiny gauge, like most sock patterns, and it is knit from the top down (not my preferred way, but I'll do it for a pattern I really like), but there are three size options (always nice).  It's written for yarn from an indie dyer on Etsy, or you can easily substitute nearly any other sock yarn.  I'd stick with a solid, light colour, so the lace pattern will shine.   

Images by Spinning Yarns Designs

Free Pattern Friday: Reyna

Because I'm leagues-deep in sweater mode right now, I favourite a ton of sock and shawl patterns on Ravelry.  I tell myself -- and this is probably going to end up being inaccurate -- that I can knit shawls and socks again in three months, once the Year of Twelve Sweaters is over.  One of the ones I've saved is Reyna, a simple and beautiful pattern for a variegated sock yarn.  One skein is kind of my default for sock yarn, when I find something too lovely to leave behind but for which I have no idea what to make.  One skein of sock yarn is a good compromise, as it could become a pair of socks, a pair of mitts, a shawl or cowl, or it could be coupled with another skein of sock yarn to make something striped.  Basically, it's enough to make something nice, without making you commit to investing hundreds of dollars in yarn before you even know what you want to make.

Noora Laivola's free shawl pattern, Reyna, is the answer to my wishes.  I would think it's best suited to variegated, handpainted, or semi-solid colourways, because the lace pattern would show those off best, and it will maximize the use of your single skein of yarn, since it's knit from the top down.  It's available for free on Ravelry in three languages (English, French, and German), and the pattern sheets even include a little bonus section tracker.

Images by Noora Laivola

Dreaming of Fall Knits, Part Five: Rowan Journeyman

Journeyman is a new collection of knits for men by Martin Storey.  Standard stuff:  a scarf, a hat, a cabled sweater, a hoodie, a shawl-collared sweater -- check, check, check.  Are knitwear designers just giving men the standard stuff they want, or are men just stuck with more tame designs than women are?  It could be that designers are, by and large, female, and designers are, by and large, most comfortable designing for the bodies they know (i.e. women's bodies).  At least the colour story in this collection is a bit livelier than most of the fall collections!  And hey, there's nothing wrong with standard; check out Dean, Heston, and McQueen, some of my favourites from this collection, below.

All images by Rowan

Free Patterns and New Trend: Granny Square Sweaters

I've been knitting pretty furiously on two sweaters and a pair of socks, but I have very few exciting WIP pictures to show.  That's mostly because I'm in the most tedious part of both sweaters, where you're adding length but not doing any exhilarating shaping or anything.  I probably should have planned it a bit better; had one boring sweater with minimal shaping and one with more things going on (like cables or lace, maybe) to keep my mind busy.  Maybe a sweater like one of these?

That's the Campfire Cardigan from Make & Do Crew and Lana Red Studio's diy granny square sweater.

I love, love, love how in both of these patterns, the designers have taken a flat, blocky shape (the granny square) and turned it into something fitted and wearable.  I'm also very inspired by the colour stories in both sweaters, though they've very different from each other.  Thinking about weaving in all the ends gives me a headache, though.  And other than weaving the ends, I think it would also be pretty fast to crochet one of these, since a granny square has so much negative space in it.  Maybe I can start a new trend in granny square clothing...

Images from Make & Do Crew and Lana Red Studio

Dreaming of Fall Knits, Part Four: Wool Studio, Volume II

Knit.Wear is always a little underwhelming for me.  Unlike other magazines from Interweave, I tend not to find very many patterns I like in each issue.  The latest one does have a couple of standouts, though:

That's the Monterey Tee by Kate Gagnon Osborne on the left, and the Pacific Grove Tee by Sarah Solomon on the right.  Both are not long-sleeved but could be good layering pieces in the fall and winter.

Is it just me or are all the fall knitting issues this year into really drab colour stories?  It's not just the overload of grey and black and tan in the garments themselves, but then the models are put against boring grey backgrounds.  Where has all the colour gone? 

All images via Ravelry

Rockies Adventures

How was your week?

It was our fifth wedding anniversary last week, so we celebrated with a camping trip to Jasper National Park in Alberta and a backcountry trip to Berg Lake, which is in Mount Robson Provincial Park, in BC.  Pretty amazing sights!  We saw so many beautiful glacial streams and waterfalls in the valley on the walk in to Berg Lake:

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It was very smoky most of the days we were there, because of the forest fires in BC, but we managed to get a peek at Mount Robson one evening:

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We took a dayhike from our campsite, and gained 500 m in elevation while hiking through a loop trail that crossed from BC back to Alberta.  There was a cairn at one of the crossing points:

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And after the backcountry trip, we went back to Jasper and played a bit in Lake Annette, with H:

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We had our wedding ceremony at Lake Annette, right on the walking path.  It was raining that day, but the visibility was still better than this year (due to the smoke). 

I got a bit of knitting done, mostly in the car; I put a quite a few more inches on Schnee (I'm done the second skein now), and I finished the front of True Friend and started on the back.  I love the ingenious shaping on this pattern!  So fun to knit.

Free patterns: Little Church Knits

How have I only discovered this website a couple of weeks ago?  Cheryl, who is based in Prince Edward County, Ontario, was publishing free patterns on a weekly basis for a while there.  She still has some of the older ones available for free, and the newer ones are also free on a limited basis.  You can read about it here.

Among the older patterns, there's some beautiful stuff:  Big Island Wrapper (below left), Hay Bay Hat (below right), Tooty Mitts (I still love colourblocking!) and Hill Island Wrap.  And in the spirit of knitterly sharing and education, she's got some helpful knitting technique video tutorials.

Images from Little Church Knits