Onward! To the Ravelry 2019 Challenge

Last year I participated in the Ravelry 2018 Challenge. I set out to complete 20 projects over the course of 2018. I figured that would be a manageable number, knowing my knitting habits and my busy schedule. I wasn’t sure how it would go, but I ended up finishing 33 projects. I wasn’t purposely trying to pack a lot of projects in; I feel good about that result. Good enough that I signed up for the 2019 Challenge too. At this point, based on last year’s results, I’ve conservatively set a goal of 30 projects.

During 2018 I completed the following:

  • 1 blanket
  • 1 cowl
  • 5 shawls
  • 1 adult cardigan
  • 2 toddler cardigans
  • 4 doll cardigans
  • 19 pairs of socks

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I have a couple of projects that were started that I didn’t complete yet. Notably “Alecia Beth”, a contiguous cardigan in 4 ply yarn. I hope to finish that in time for late spring when my winter sweaters and coat are too warm for the weather.

I’ve been thinking about what new things I’d like to try and knit this year. I definitely want to make a steeked, stranded colour-work cardigan. I have been looking at designs. I like the way that the colour-work wraps around those yoked sweaters that Tin Can Knits are known for.

Steeking is a construction method used to make cardigans. It’s typical of Fair-Isle and Norwegian sweater knitting. The idea is that you knit the sweater in the round like a pullover. Easy peasy! You allow extra rows of stitches in the areas where you want to cut it apart. Some people simply make a tube for the body with some extra steek rows where the sleeves will go, and down the centre front. They knit it to the full desired length. Then they knit the two sleeves separately. To put it into a nutshell, you reinforce the stitches on either side of where you plan to cut it open so your knitting doesn’t simply disintegrate. Then you cut it open. YIKES! Then you add button panels in the front (or a zipper) and insert the sleeves. Some people finish it off with a band of ribbon or a knitted band to cover up the edges where it was cut. If you use wool that isn’t super wash it is expected to felt enough along those edges so you don’t have to fuss with a binding. Some people knit the sleeves with the body so they are connected without having to steek them. I’m thinking that’s what I’d prefer.

What I don’t love about the yoked style of sweater is the neckline. To me, it always looks like it barely hangs onto the shoulder. I am not crazy about necklines that sit right at my neck either. So I’m hoping to find something that will be along these lines but with either a V-neck or a scoop neck. I could probably use short rows to shape the neckline more the way I like it. I suppose I could be brave and knit it using a pattern like the one above, but then do a steek around the neckline so I can shape the neck however I want it. That would be an option. Hmmm… for the first steeking project, that might be a little bit scary. But I figure that if I start with a child sized cardigan it should be less intimidating. Then, if I mess around with changing the neckline, it won’t be as big of a time investment (or yarn investment for that matter). Yeah, I definitely want to try my hand at steeking this year.

When thinking about what else I’d like to knit, I realized that I don’t have much in the way of toques or cowls. I’ve got some patterns in mind that I would love to knit. This time I will choose the yarn colours so that they actually look good with my coat though! There will definitely have to be some hats in my challenge list.

Obviously, I will knit socks. In particular, I have had a pattern in my queue for some time that I really want to do this year. These dirndl socks play all the right notes to thrill the German ancestry running through my veins.

Then there are these beauties:

Dornröschen schlafe hundert Jahr

I also want to get the next size up in my contiguous child’s cardigan designed and tested. I want to get the pattern cleaned up and ready to publish and I need to have at least 2 sizes to feel like it’s worth finalizing it. I may go for three but it’s such a tedious process that I might just be dreaming on that count.

I want to make a mohair shawl for one of my sisters, and a sapphire blue lace shawl for another one of my sisters. (She’s got a significant birthday coming up in 2020 and the shawl I have in mind is a huge project. I need to start it this year if I want to complete it for her birthday in May.)

I plan to participate in Tour-de-sock again this summer. That’s always a fun challenge that nets me six to eight pairs of amazing socks. I love my fancy socks. Even if no one else sees them inside my shoes. They make me feel good.

I have bits of leftover sock yarn that I might make into a net shopping bag to see how that goes. Every time I dig in my leftovers bag I’m frustrated that there isn’t enough of any of the yarns in there to make a pair of socks. This might be a good way to use some of that up. I think that will be a good mindless knit to do in front of the television in the evenings.

Oh my, I think that’s a year’s worth of knitting summed up in a 1000 words! Whee! I hope I haven’t bored you with my ramblings today. I must say that taking the time to think about what I want to make has me feeling inspired.

Happy Knitting!

 

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Merry Christmas… and my Favourite Cookies!

As promised, I am sharing another one of my traditional German Christmas recipes that has been adapted to be gluten and nightshade free. Most people with either a German or Dutch background will be familiar with Spekulatius. These cookies are immediately recognizable by the relief images baked right in them. They are crisp, light and spiced with the three “C’s” of Christmas: Cardamom, Cloves and Cinnamon. If you have tried to make them at home and found that the texture was different than (and not as nice as) the commercially made ones, you’ll love this recipe.

The secret to crisp, light Spekulatius is lard. When you use butter or margarine, they come out like any other spiced cookie, but with lard, this little Christmas gem is elevated to “Singing Choirs of Angels” cookie status. (IMHO) I am probably biased. Nope, I’m definitely biased! (As mentioned in the recipe, you can use a mixture of butter and lard, but don’t use more butter than what is recommended. You do need the lard to get the texture right.)

This Christmas cookie will always be my favourite. They take some attention to make, but only because the rolling pins and blocks that are carved out to make pictures on the cookies have to be kept well floured, yet not so well floured that you lose the picture in the process. It takes a little practice to find the sweet spot for this process. But they are so worth the effort! Any good kitchen store will have one of these rolling pins and if not in stock, they can certainly order them in for you. Well, not in time for this Christmas, but there’s always next year.

There are a couple things you’ll want to know before you get started on these. First of all, don’t substitute the lard, and don’t use artificial extracts. These are a once a year cookie and they just aren’t wonderful if you don’t trust the recipe. Also, the nuts absolutely must be ground really fine. If they aren’t, you’ll have a lot of trouble forming the cookies with the blocks or rolling pin. Don’t rush chilling the dough. It needs to be cold, especially in this Gluten Free version. Have a pastry brush (a real one, not a silicone one) on hand so you can gently brush away any extra flour from the surface of the cookies before you bake them. In the grand scheme of things, it’s easier to use the rolling pin than the individual blocks. You want the dough to be relatively thin, but there has to be enough thickness so it can fill the recesses in the blocks and rolling pin and give you that lovely relief picture that these cookies are famous for. Every oven is a little different, so watch the first batch and notice how long it takes for them to bake. Use that as your guide. The time will vary depending on how thin they are.

 

Gluten Free Spekulatius

500g Gluten Free Flour Mix (as given in last week’s blog)

1Tbsp Gluten Free Baking Powder

1 tsp Xantham Gum

250g Sugar

1 Tbsp Vanilla Sugar (or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract)

1/4 tsp Pure Almond Extract

1/4 tsp Cardamom

1/4 tsp Cloves

1 tsp Cinnamon

2 Eggs

200g Lard (do not substitute; though it is okay to use 150g lard and 50g butter)

100g Finely Ground Hazelnuts (Almonds are okay)

Instructions

1. Combine all dry ingredients together and mix thoroughly with a whisk.

2. On a clean counter, make a pile with the dry ingredients.

3. Make a well in the dry ingredients; put eggs in the well and mix with a fork, just enough that they won’t run all over the place.

4. Cut up the lard into small pieces and dump it, as well as the ground nuts onto the messy pile on the counter. Mix the dough, with your hands, and work it until it is smooth and uniform. Chill the dough for at least one hour.

5. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment and preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

6. Roll out the dough with a regular rolling pin to about 1/4″ thick. Using either a well-floured rolling pin that has relief images carved into it, or wooden blocks with relief images carved in them, press images into the dough. If using blocks, take your time and use a small, sharp knife (like a paring knife) to coax the dough out of the carved portion of the block, if it gets stuck.

7. Use a knife to cut the individual images into separate cookies and arrange them on the prepared cookie sheet. Gently brush away any excess flour from the surface of the cookies.

8. Bake for about 4 minutes or until lightly golden (compared to when they started). Allow them to cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

And there you have it!

I sincerely wish you a Merry Christmas. I hope that however you celebrate this season of the year, that your celebration is filled with Love and Kindness; yes capital “L” Love and capital “K” Kindness. Because really, that is all that matters.

Happy Baking and when those cookies are all done…

Happy knitting… and good luck keeping the cookie crumbs off your project!

 

 

What? Recipes? From the Yarn Shop?

You might be surprised at the number of people who come to my yarn shop looking for a pattern, and then can’t think of the word pattern, in the moment. What do they call it? They call it a recipe. And of course, that is exactly what it is. Well that got me thinking. What with Christmas coming up, I thought I’d break from blog tradition and share some of my Family Christmas Recipes.

Many of you will know that I am a celiac but in addition to not being able to eat gluten, I am also allergic to the nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant). Before you ask, I rarely eat out because it is simply too risky and too stressful… and quite frankly in the time it takes to explain everything and figure out what is safe for me to eat I could cook something at home.

I took my traditional German family holiday baking recipes from my Grandmother and reworked them so that they can be gluten/nightshade free. If you are unfamiliar with gluten-free baking, potato flour is frequently used in the flour mixes as it gives a nicer quality of crumb in baked goods. Most commercially made gluten free baked goods contain potato.

Growing up in a German immigrant family, Christmas baking was a big deal. Stollen  is a traditional German Christmas cake. It is nothing like the heavy fruitcake that we typically see at this time of year. It contains raisins, currents, nuts and some candied fruit (Zitronat) as well as almond paste. This was always the first thing to be baked. Mom would soak the nuts, raisins, currants and candied fruit in rum for the better part of a week, stirring them daily to make sure the flavour permeated all of it.

Today, I want to share my recipe for Gluten Free Stollen.

To begin with, you have to make up the flour mix. Weigh out 925g of brown rice flour and 400g of Tapioca starch. Combine these well. I have a good sized Tupperware container that I keep this mix in. I usually weigh it into the container (remember to reset the tare on your kitchen scale when you begin adding each ingredient) close the lid and shake it well before mixing it well with a whisk. This is the flour mix used in all the recipes I’ll be sharing with you over the next couple blogs.

Judy’s Gluten Free Christmas Stollen

125g Dried Currants (they look like tiny raisins; do NOT substitute!)

125g Black Raisins

125g Yellow Raisins

150g chopped Almonds

150g chopped Hazelnuts

100g Zitronat*

1/4 tsp Almond extract

1/2 cup Dark Rum (or more if you like)

1/2 tsp Pure Lemon Extract

1/8 tsp Cardamom

1/8 tsp Mace (Nutmeg blossoms)

500g Gluten Free Flour mix (above)

1 – 1/2 tsp Xantham Gum

1 Tbsp gluten free baking powder

200g sugar

1 Tbsp Vanilla Sugar (you can use 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract instead)

pinch of salt

2 eggs

       250g Quark**

175g Butter (at room temperature)

250g Almond Paste (at room temperature)

       Butter and Icing Sugar to decorate

Instructions

  1. Combine the currants, raisins, nuts, almond and lemon extracts, rum, spices and Zitronat in a large metal or glass bowl (not plastic). Stir them well. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Stir this mixture at least three times a day for a minimum of 2 days. 4 days is ideal, you can go as long as 5 days provided the bowl is covered tightly the entire time and refrigerated.
  2. Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Using a mixer, combine the butter and Almond paste.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine flour, xantham gum and baking powder and whisk together thoroughly.
  6. In a separate bowl, weigh out sugar and add vanilla sugar (or vanilla) and salt
  7. Pour the flour mixture onto your clean kitchen counter. Make a well in the centre of it. Place the sugar, quark and eggs in the well and using a fork, mix them just enough so the eggs won’t run all over the place. It’s okay that it is only mixed with a portion of the flour at this time.
  8. Add the butter/almond paste mixture to the great messy pile on the counter. (Don’t mix it in yet.)
  9. Add the nuts and fruits mixture to make the pile even bigger and messier.
  10. Mix this big pile of delicious-smelling stuff until you have a beautiful smooth dough. It should mix quite quickly. It may be a wee bit sticky. This isn’t like bread dough, you don’t have to knead it extensively. Just get it mixed to a nice smooth texture.
  11. Form the dough into two equal loaves and position them to fit on the large baking sheet. I find that I have to place them diagonally-ish to make them both fit happily.
  12. Bake for around 40 minutes.
  13. Once it comes out of the oven and while it’s still hot, brush the top with butter (not margarine!) and sprinkle profusely with icing sugar. The butter will absorb a bunch of icing sugar. Don’t skimp on the icing sugar, it should look like a good layer of snow on a rolling hill.
  14. Allow it to cool before cutting.
  15. If it doesn’t immediately get devoured by everyone who has been staring in the oven window, salivating while it was baking, store it in a sealed container.

*Zitronat in this recipe is candied fruit made from citrus. Look for the container in which the fruit is all and only shades of yellow. It is important to use the right one. Don’t use the mixed candied fruit, it will ruin your Stollen!

**Quark is a soft cheese, ask for it in the deli. If you can’t get it, you can approximate it by squeezing cottage cheese through a metal sieve and mixing it with a little bit of yogurt to give it a smooth and creamy texture.

Happy Baking… and then happy eating the baked goods while knitting!

Let’s Get Worsted, in Kettle Valley!

This year, I finally felt ready to hunt for local hand-dyed yarns and patterns to sell in my store. I believe strongly in supporting local small business whenever possible. Now that I have built up my inventory of staple yarns I really wanted to offer something a bit more luxurious. I had a small selection of hand-dyed yarns in solid colours, but I wanted something with really interesting colourways. I found it.

Black Cat Custom Yarn is located in Chilliwack, BC (Canada).

I was excited to have the opportunity to meet the owners this fall and to see and feel their yarns in person. A customer told me about them and I was not disappointed. I brought in a modest selection of two weights of Black Cat yarn. It has been a hit.

I have already placed another order and they are dying it now. Once it arrives it will expand the selection to 17 colourways of “Let’s Get Worsted” and 15 colourways of “Everyday Sock”. The price point is typical of hand dyed yarn.

I recently made up a project using the “Damsel” colourway of  Black Cat’s “Let’s Get Worsted”. The pattern was the Kettle Valley Shawl from Knox Mountain Knit Company out of Kelowna, BC.

So first of all, I should have done a gauge check. I didn’t and my gauge was a bit soft. I ended up using three and a half skeins rather than the three that the pattern called for. That was definitely on me. I’m confident that it could be done with three if the gauge is matched.

The Pattern: Kettle Valley Shawl by Knox Mountain Knit Co.

knox-mountain-knit-coKnox Mountain Knit Co. patterns are inspired by landmarks of the Okanagan Valley in the interior of British Columbia, Canada. I love that each has a short write-up describing what inspired the pattern. They are beautifully printed on sturdy paper and priced reasonably. They all come with a Ravelry code that allows you to have both the hard copy and a Ravelry download to access on your devices. I now have hard copies of all their designs for sale in my store. (The patterns are displayed in two binders; if you’re in the store ask me where to find them. You can also view them on Ravelry.) The photographs are beautiful. They offer sets (hats, mittens and cowls) that are sold separately but made to coordinate. This is a wonderful option if you are making gifts… especially for those individuals whose birthdays land near Christmas.

The instructions were clear and easy to follow. I loved the twisted stitch method used. The first few times I did it, I had to check the instructions but once I comprehended what was happening and why it worked, I was off to the races. It’s a nice big shawl without being so large as to feel like a blanket. It was my first worsted weight shawl and I had my doubts because I like lace shawls and I love to knit with sock weight yarn. I think I may have been converted. Yes, by the final row I was knitting 357 stitches. However, I finished this, knitting leisurely in front of the TV in the evenings over the course of 10 days. I didn’t even knit every evening. It is made up of sections that when viewed as a whole mimic the trestles of the historic Kettle Valley Railway in the vicinity of Kelowna, British Columbia. I found that with each section, it took very little time to get a sense of the pattern so I could just knit away without checking the reference. That’s how I like it! I’m delighted with the outcome and so is the person who received it as a gift.

The Yarn: Black Cat Custom Yarn; Damsel; weight “Let’s Get Worsted”

This yarn was an absolute pleasure to knit. It was soft and smooth. The stitch definition is fantastic. All the effort I put into creating those trestles stood out and made the pattern proud. It reminds me of Malabrigo yarn. Sometimes when I make a larger project I get a little bored of looking at the yarn by the end of the project. Not with this yarn! There is just no getting bored of this yarn. The colourways are so fun and the names are nerdy and sometimes a bit cheeky. It definitely has personality. I washed it with Eucalan and blocked it. I thought it was soft before I washed it. Washing it softened it even more. I sat there squishing it between my hands and against my face for ages! I guess you figured out that I highly recommend this yarn.

Because it is dyed to order, it takes some time from when I order it until it arrives. That’s probably the only real drawback to this yarn. Once I get a sense of how much and how frequently I need to reorder, that will be less of an issue.

I encourage you to take the time to check out Black Cat Custom Yarn and Knox Mountain Knit Co. Both of these small BC businesses offer a high quality product for a reasonable price. If you want to make a special gift for someone you care about, I recommend combining the two for something truly memorable.

Happy Knitting!

Wow! Too Easy! More Gift Ideas

Anyone who crafts or sews will likely own a rotary cutter. These handy tools come in a few different sizes ranging from 28mm to 60mm. The size I find most popular is 45mm. The round blades are razor sharp and allow for nice clean cutting of fabrics and other craft materials. The newest style of blade opens up a whole vista of crafting possibilities.

The regular rotary cutter blade is simply a razor sharp disc that makes a solid clean and straight cut. You can also purchase wave blades that give a gently zig-zagged edge, like you would expect from pinking shears.

What I am excited to tell you about is the new skip cut blade. The skip cut blade has gaps around the cutting edge of the disc. It has many short cutting edges with equal spaces between them. When you use this blade, it gives you small cuts at regular intervals. For the creative individual, the possibilities for this blade are exciting. I just want to talk about two applications.

Quick and Easy Fleece Blanket with a Crochet Border

You start with a piece of Nordic/Polar Fleece fabric. With the edges cleanly cut, corners rounded off and the selvedges removed, use a ruler and rotary cutter fitted with the skip blade and cut an inch in from the outside edge all around the piece of fabric. It’s important to do this in one pass. Press firmly so that you are sure you are cutting all the way through. You now have a series of holes evenly spaced an inch in from the edge of the fabric. This gives you a place to easily crochet into so you can create a crocheted border all around your blanket. The edge folds in half, so you have a double layer of fabric contained within the first round of your crochet edge. I found two different links that show how to do this. Both are relatively long, however they give the necessary information well. The second one is more thorough a demonstration than the first.

 

Fleece Lined Blanket

The next project I want to share with you is a fleece lined blanket.

You can start with either a crocheted or a knitted blanket that you have already completed. You can either measure your blanket and use those measurements as a guide, or you can lay the blanket on the fleece to mark its size instead. Either way, you want to end up with a full inch all the way around the blanket. In other words, if your blanket is 45″ x 60″, you will want to cut a piece of fleece that is 47″ x 62″. As with the example above, you will use the skip cut rotary blade to make your nice tidy row of holes around the edge. You will have to take some liberties with how you align what you are crocheting with the existing stitches in the crocheted or knitted blanket. I would personally pin the edge profusely before beginning the process of crocheting the fleece to the edge of the blanket. Below is a link to a video in which this technique is demonstrated. This video is very thorough and assumes that you are a beginner.

I was introduced to skip cut blades by a customer who was traveling through Revelstoke. She stopped in my yarn shop and asked whether I carried them. I had never heard of them. While we chatted, I looked it up online through my supplier and found them. I brought them in for her and mailed them to her when they arrived. At the time, I brought in the packs of 5 as they are more cost effective than the individual blades. I have a couple packs still in stock. My next notions order will include some singles, so that if people want to try one out without committing to 5 of them, they have that option. I have a variety of solid colours of fleece in stock and many options for yarn that could be combined with it to make it special. What a great, easy gift to make someone’s life just a little more cozy.

As always, if you like the videos I have linked to and you want to see more from the folks who took the time, effort and care to create them, show them some love. Give them your likes, share the link or subscribe to their channel. Let’s support those amazing creative people in our world. 🙂

Happy Crocheting!

6 Gift-Making Tips

Many knitters and crocheters, sewing enthusiasts and other crafters use their creative skills to fashion gifts for their friends and family.

Whatever the project, crafters put their hearts into every step that goes into making those gifts. From choosing just the right yarn or other materials and the pattern, to all the hours carefully constructing the project stitch by stitch. If you are lucky enough to be considered knit, crochet or craft worthy, know that you are loved. I have some tips to offer Makers when they are planning out the gifts they want to create.

Depending on what your focus is, your priorities for each project can change.

Focus on Budget – Time:

When we think about a budget, we usually think about money. The reality is that we have a budget of time every bit as much as we have a financial budget. As someone who knits gifts, I’m always looking for projects that won’t become centennial jobs. There are all sorts of things I’d love to make for the people I care about. But there’s only so much time to do it. If I had unlimited hours to knit, I would be making lace shawls and 4-ply cardigans and other elaborate things for the people I love. But I don’t have unlimited time. Gosh, that’s such an understatement! I am a pretty quick knitter, but there’s a limit to what I can make in the precious time I have available.

Focus on Budget – Money:

It can be easy to let the cost of projects get away from us when we want to make something particularly wonderful for someone dear to us. Most of us have to work within a budget. Most of us also make gifts for multiple people. Even if you are not a “planner”, it’s good to be methodical about all the bits and pieces that you’ll have to buy, with money, for the projects you plan to make. And you know as well as I do, that those materials can really add up. Most crafters of all shape and size have a stash of supplies for their favourite making discipline. If money is tight, dig into that stash and see what you can use.

Focus on the Materials:

You can focus on the yarn or other materials and choose something absolutely scrumptious. There are so many gorgeous yarns (fabrics etc.) out there. Make the project a showcase for the materials by keeping your pattern selection simple. Put a little more resources into the purchase of the yarn or fabric and less into the work of the project. You might use silk embroidery thread instead of cotton. Of course there is a caveat with this. If it requires special care, you want to be sure that the recipient will apply that special care and not throw it in the washer and dryer with their jeans or towels… SHUDDER! If you think they will treat it right, but just need to know how to look after it, you could always include a travel size bottle of a “Delicates No-rinse Wash” like Eucalan with their gift. Pop in a card with the url to a demo of the product and brief, hand written care instructions.

Focus on an Artful Pattern:

There are many knitting and crochet designs that feature beautiful patterned stitches. There are sewing patterns that are true and complex works of art. When you choose one of these patterns, it’s best to back off with the materials and keep them simple. You don’t want to set up a competition between the yarn or fabric and the intricate pattern you create with it. This sort of design takes more focus to make. The more focus you need, the more time you need to allow. You may not be able to do a lot in a sitting. And you really don’t want to leave a project like this to the last minute. In my experience, that’s when you make silly mistakes that sit there like neon signs, screaming to be picked out and rebuilt.

Focus on the Practical:

There are many practical items that you can make as gifts. The nice thing about practical hand-made gifts is that you can be pretty certain that they are going to get some use. My family members love to receive hand-knit socks, for instance.

Focus on the Special:

You know that person who really likes things to be fancy? This is when you pull out those projects that you couldn’t resist pinning. Beaded projects, projects with felted accents or embroidered touches, personalized projects… add that little something extra that says “Oh yeah!”

Keep a record:

It’s easy to forget what you did for whom and when. I encourage you to keep a notebook. I love those small binders that hold paper that is basically a letter sized sheet cut in half. You can either buy the pages punched and ready to go or you can take normal paper and cut it in half and hole punch it. You can create sections; you can move the pages around. This is great for organizing what you have made for people. I tried keeping track on my phone; it was too frustrating. Between phones that die, upgrades and apps that don’t allow you to effectively back up your data when you do get a new phone… ugh! Well, “old school” works. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You can staple the label from the yarn or a snip of the fabric onto the page, write down the name of the pattern and whether you modified it at all. If you ran into any trouble with the pattern, you could make a note of what it was and how you resolved it as well. You don’t have to worry about running out of pages, because it’s a binder! The main thing is that you want to jot down just enough so that you don’t accidentally make them the same thing twice… or for that matter so that if someone else sees it and wants one, that you can remember what you did.

And there you go. However you choose to focus on the gift projects you have on your making list, I hope you have fun with them.

Happy Making!

 

Well it Ought to be Obvious…

I love to design. Whether I have a ready-to-go idea in my head that is easily executed, or a vague sense of what I want to express in a design, the creative act of designing fills me up. Sometimes, exploration leads to some fun and interesting outcomes that I would never have thought of. And sometimes, a design is accidental.

I haven’t done a whole lot of knitting since Tour-de-Sock finished. I still have the same projects on the needles, though my Whoopsie shawl is very close to completion and my Plan A (Take 2) second sock is now on the needle. Legolas is still in hibernation along with my Alecia Beth cardigan and my watermelon shawl. They are all waiting patiently at the back of the store. I knitted up a couple doll cardigans to test out some yarn samples that my rep sent me to try. The work in my store ramps up once summer is over and the number of sewing jobs increases. Often by the end of the day, I’m too tired to knit. (It takes a lot for me to be too tired to knit!) So progress has ground to a slow crawl.

Last weekend I had the good fortune to meet Kim of Black Cat Custom Yarn in Chilliwack.

I had heard about her from a few customers that passed through Revelstoke and recommended her.

Kim is a talented yarn dyer.

Her partner wasn’t feeling well on the day that I was at her studio, so I didn’t officially meet him. The two of them work together and their colourways reflect the joy they have in what they do. I have placed an order with them.

The quality of the yarn and the nature of their colourways make Black Cat Custom yarns a worthy replacement for Malabrigo yarns in my store.

I’ll be carrying their basic sock yarn and “Let’s get Worsted” weights to start with. It was really tough to limit the order!

In a basket, she had a whole bunch of mini skeins of seconds. On the top were two skeins of red sock yarn. They came home with me to become a pair of socks for one of my grand-daughters. (That was her only request, that they be red socks.) When I got home, I cast on the socks toe up. I wanted to do a fun pattern in them but I didn’t want to put in a lot of effort. I didn’t want to fuss. I thought,

“hey, I could use a mock cable pattern on these”.

So I pulled it out and mindlessly began knitting the pattern.

The pattern that developed was lovely, but it definitely was not the mock cable pattern. I sat there staring at my three pattern repeats like a dunce, wondering what I had done. Are you laughing at me yet? Good heavens. Honestly, Judy! The mock cable pattern is knitted back and forth. Socks are knitted in the round. It should have been obvious! I was working off written instructions for each row as opposed to a chart. If it had been a chart, I would have adapted without even thinking about it. But because it was written out, the wrong side rows were written assuming you turned the work and knitted it flat.

It came out looking like corn rows.

I decided to call it Rapunzel’s Ladder. How fun is that? It just goes to show you. Sometimes, you don’t even mean to be creative and yet something completely new and wonderful emerges in spite of you. Creativity is a magical thing.

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I’m a pretty smart person, but there are times when I can be a bit dense or oblivious. I don’t mean to, obviously… but yeah… human condition and all that. This was definitely one of those times. And yet! Eureka! I have a pair of socks developing that are absolutely lovely. My GD will adore them. They remind me of my first pair of Dirndl socks from when I was a girl. The two skeins were not exactly the same, but because they have the mottled hand-dyed look, it works. I am excited to see her face when she opens up the package at her birthday party. And incidentally, I get to pick up my Black Cat Custom Yarn order when we travel to the Coast for GD’s birthday Tea Party.

It will feel like it’s my birthday too.

Can’t get better than that! ETA for the Black Cat Yarns at Judy’s Designs is November 1, 2018.

Happy Knitting!