Wednesday, April 29, 2015

lots of knitting and reknitting

I believe that I mentioned in a previous post that I have been SUPER inspired with the knitting these days. I suppose that dyeing yarn again, and thus being surrounded by yarn most days is bound to inspire...if not I ought to be thinking of a job change. Phew, a sign that I'm on the right track! 

I seems, however, that I have become slightly over confident. All of a sudden, I think I can knit a new jumper every the same time as socks, shawls and I don't even know what else. The result of this enthusiasm has been a lot of making mistakes, ripping back, re-knitting, ripping back again, re-knitting and so on. Oh well. Meanwhile the to knit list is consistently growing and growing and growing. 

Rather than grumble about it (more than I already have done just now) I think it would be much more fun to share some of my wonky knits and knitting dreams. So here it is, comin' at ya. All the knitting thoughts that have kept me awake at's all too exciting!

First off, my Norn! I've loved this pattern for ages, well since the magazine came out (2012!) and just never got round to knitting it. I realized a couple of months ago that I've been hoarding Pom Pom magazines since the beginning, but not knit a single project from any. Well, I can say with certainty that all of that nonsense is about to change! I love this simple little crop top. Garter stitch, a little cable, hand dyed yarn. I love it all! The pattern calls for the Uncommon Thread DK. I have some, I love it, but I chose to knit this is my own MCN Worsted. These 3 skeins of Raven were sitting in my stash when I came home. They had already been knit into some failed projects and I felt it was time to give them a good resting...shape, if you will. The pattern is simple and clear, I thought I'd be able to knit this up in a couple of days. Well, I have messed it up countless times by now (all because I'm not paying attention and/or rushing). Here she is, in what I hope is going to be her final stage of re knitting. Fingers crossed that the next photos of this project will be on me, finished.

My next tale of woe is a great one. I shared some progress pictures of this mohair cardigan a little while back, in this post. Well it was a slog to knit...but I pushed on because I was so excited about having a brioche, mohair, batwing, colourblock cardigan (as anyone would!) Here is the cardigan, almost finished. I just had a wee bit of sewing up left to go when I tried it on at last...and learned that the sleeves hang like giant, pucker-y, crumpled, lumpy capes. Sad. So I have now begun the painstaking process of pulling out all of that knitting in mohair and am pondering what on earth I can do to use the little bits of yarn that now remain. Sad day.

There has been a success, I knit this lovely Lila jumper in Noro Silk Garden Solo. I wore my Lila to the Toronto Knitter's Frolic this past Saturday and  attracted rather a lot of attention. Never have so many people wanted to stroke me before! It seems that many people have been slightly dubious about just how this beautiful colour would knit up. I'm feeling well chuffed with myself for being the bold person to go forward and knit an entire mental birthday cake jumper in the stuff!

Plans for this afternoon are a fun adventure walk to the lake and taking some proper photos of me in my 'mental birthday cake jumper' !

Next up in the cast on queue are a couple...a few shawls that I've had my eye on...

I couldn't help but hold onto 2 skeins of Dusk Merino Lace that I dyed up for the Knitter's Frolic...sorry folks, but it was my favourite.

So, the lovely merino lace is going to become one great big Halligarth shawl! It's been ages since I did any serious lace knitting, so I'm really looking forward to getting into this one.

Next up, some Wellington Fibres 3 ply. It's a lustrous, soft and fluffy combination of their own beautiful mohair and wool. I could not leave this behind when I visited the mill and farm at their open weekend a little while back ( more to come in this later). Anyhow, I cannot wait to cast on a 006 in this yarn...garter stitch AND tassles. I cannot want for anything more!

And last, but not least I have specially dyed some of my favourite colours of Polwarth and Alpaca to knit up a really, really big Quill Shawl. I have wanted to knit this pattern since the beginning of time it seems, but never had enough of the right yarn. Well, I've finally fixed that problem by MAKING exactly the right amount of the perfect yarn!

There are so many more ideas and projects to share, but you must be getting a little bored of me by now. I shall save it for next time!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Knitter's Frolic Time!

Knitter's of Toronto know that the end of April is an exciting time - it's time for the annual knitter's frolic! I've been rather sad to have missed the last 2...I think it was 2...being in England. In my Canada days of yore, spring came along with the added excitement of spending a day surrounded by lots and lots of yarn, super cool knitters and other fibre-y bits and bobs. Well, I am very pleased to be back in the right country at the right time of year and am SO going to be there!

Even more exciting, is that I've managed to dye up a wee bit of Merino Fingering and Merino Lace to contribute to the lovely selection of yarns that the fabulous folks of the Purple Purl are bringing along. Here's a few sneaky pics to tide you over until Saturday.

The Purl folks will be in the same spot as they always have...right inside the entrance. I'm going to be joining them first thing on Saturday morning, and I would love to say 'HI!' to any and all who are about! Hope to see you Saturday!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

shop update time!

At long last, the time has come for new yarns and goodies to appear in the shop. It's been a very busy month. Lots of plans are starting to take shape and lots more are appearing all the time! Perhaps the surge of creativity and inspiration here at Viola home base is due to the spring weather that is inching it's way back into our lives. Or maybe it's just because we love yarn and knitting, who knows!?

The next shop update is scheduled for...

Tuesday, April 14th @ 4pm EST

...details of the new Alpaca + Polwarth yarn, as well as the spinning fibre are both in previous posts. I could write another long post about how much I love that alpaca polwarth, but I will spare you the waffling. Also making appearances will be the lovely Merino Lace (an old favourite) and it's new big sister, Merino Singles 4-ply. The same soft and lustrous superwash merino, but a little bit thicker. I can't wait to  knit myself a dainty little cardi out of this one!

The happy task of labeling has already begun, made even better by the fact that I spent this week doodling and designing labels for the new yarns!

Just a couple of my favourite merino lace colours.


Monday, March 30, 2015

alpaca polwarth excitement!

These days I have so many favourite things that I can't seem to keep track of them all. Here's the latest! It's a yarn that my lovely friends at John Arbon Textiles have spun for me. 70% Polwarth, 15% natural brown alpaca and 15% white alpaca. When I worked at the mill, I couldn't get enough of the yarns we spun with some naturally coloured fibre in them. There is something unbeatable about the little flecks of brown or grey that pop up. Every time I found myself skeining such a yarn I wanted to KEEP IT ALL and turned into insane yarn hoarder lady (I spend much of my time in this mode).

Naturally, when the time came for me to request a yarn of my own, I wanted some of the naturally coloured goodness that I love so much. I am SO pleased with the way these colours have come out. Totally different from the super slick merino bases that are more commonly available. The soft and airy texture that this light 2-fold yarn has makes it almost weightless. Each colour is subtle, soft and delicate, and the beautiful natural brown alpaca shows through each one!

The yarn is a light 4-ply weight, and these are just the first few colours I've been experimenting with - more to come, whoopee! I'm so pleased with the light and delicate quality that this yarn has as well. I often find that alpaca gets a bit too heavy, but the high polwarth content of this yarn has made it almost weightless. I am dreaming of a giant shawl - pattern research has already begun!

Whilst I am waiting, planning and selecting the perfect shawl pattern to knit (suggestions welcome, of course) I have contented myself with knitting this little swatch. It's just a hodgepodge of stitches. Ah knitting, endless fun!

Monday, March 23, 2015

fibre a comin'

I've done a lot of rediscovery since returning to dyeing and Canada. Rediscovering my own yarn stash (whoa, so overwhelming!) rediscovering techniques I liked to use (and NOT) rediscovering how etsy works (that was scary considering how technologically challenged I am - most days I'm amazed when I manage to log into my e mail). Lots of rediscovering is the point. At the forefront of my rediscovery has been fibre dyeing!

I discovered a bunch of fibre tucked away in a safe hiding place about a month ago. Dyeing yarn has always been my preference - but I couldn't resist the chance to put more colour onto something, so I set about dyeing it all up. Well, I have also rediscovered why I don't dye fibre very often, I make a right old mess of it! 

Some utterly brilliant (I think) colours emerged, but they are not the tidy tops that I stuck into my dyepots. They are perfectly spinnable, however. SO, what I have decided to so (after a brief period where I considered being very greedy and keeping it all for myself - so bad!) is to offer what I have, but make sure that everyone knows to expect a slight mess. 

Some tops have broken, and I will state that in their listings. Some are just a bit lumpy. For this, I apologize. I will offer all of these tops at a hearty discount, to compensate for their slightly tufty and unkempt state. But if you are anything like me, you may enjoy tidying those oddments of fibre chaos into a lovely handspun delight!

 Without further adeiu, here are just a couple of my favourite colourways. There are plenty more for the update (data and time TBA)...

superwash merino in white caps

merino top in sunset

merino/silk top in liberty

 I delight in nothing more than turning odd bits of things into one beautiful finished product, so in case you want a bit on inspiration, here's a look at what I've been spinning. I took 3 different hand dyed tops (2 superwash merino and 1 corriedale...very different, I know, but I decided to go there). I've spun each superfine and with lots of twist. Am now thoroughly enjoying folding them together into this beautifully bonkers marl. The finished yarn is a light 4 ply weight. I'm chuffed and can't wait to cast on something in my 'crazy tiger' yarn...that's what I'm calling it!


Saturday, March 21, 2015

a finished jumper

It's about time that I finished this little jumper up. I started knitting it at the beginning of the summer, almost immediately after I bought the yarn. I always feel so smug when I cast on yarn that I've just bought, it lets me pretend (just for a minute) that I'm one of those people who knits really quickly, finishes projects and doesn't accumulate more yarn than they could ever dream to knit in their own lifetime. That person is obviously me, but at least this little jumper let me pretend I was someone organized for a moment. 

The yarn is from Unwind. I tagged along with John and Juliet who were there with socks and yarn golore. It was SUCH a fun time, but I'm much too late to tell you about Unwind because all the organized people have already talked about it. 

I visited the Old Maiden Aunt stand late on the last day, and loved 3 colourways that remained only as single skeins. I love the challenge of making lots of little bits work, so I instantly decided to knit a bitty jumper combing all 3 colours. As soon as I arrived back to my North Devon home I set about planning the little jumper. And this is what I got...

 I love seed stitch. I love knitting it and I love the way it looks, so that was an easy choice! I also knew that I wanted to keep the shape simple, so there is a very slight 'A' line shaping in the sides of the body, and a super simple drop shoulder. I picked up stitches in the armholes and knit the sleeves down to the cuffs. Ran out of yarn at the elbow of the second sleeve, so there's a little bit of Viola merino fingering in Slate to finish off that last sleeve. 

I've been wearing this all over the place, and absolutely love it! It's inspired another crazy garment experiment...

....Which is this cardigan. I'm doubling Viola mohair lace with a 4 ply 100% alpaca yarn. Knit entirely in 1/2 brioche stitch, this crazy cardigan is going to have really deep batwing sleeves (in a different colour, because once again I have run out of yarn!) Shall keep ya posted on the mental mohair progress. Lots of great knitting going on these days!


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

the Store

I've been back in Canada for 4 months now. Time has passed quickly so far, although it still feels like I left Devon yesterday. Strange how that goes. Canada sure has been busy over these past months. Spending time between  two homes - good ol' Toronto and the new house in Mooresburg. My parents bought the house just over a year ago, and I have been enjoying as many visits as I can fit in. The house itself is beautiful (of course, I seem to have forgotten to take a photo of it...too distracted by sticks and snow). It used to be a general store, and is filled with beautiful old bits and bobs. Spending time there feels like stepping back in time slightly; cooking on the wood stove, entertaining ourselves without the internet (gasp!). Long walks and lots of wildlife. It's lovely!

So here are just a few of my favourite photos from my time at 'the Store'. The Mooresburg General store, that is...

Spilled potatoes by the side of the idea...

The Amish schoolhouse. Brave folks were using the outhouse when winter reached -35!

Lucy the dog having just lost a precious stick in the snow. She was not happy.

There is a river running through the property. This is one of the many surprise bogs (that's what I call them) that I continuously seem to be walking into. Lucky it's all been frozen over recently

If I had been missing snow whilst in England, this winter in Mooresburg certainly made up for it. It's been seriously beautiful.