December 13, 2011

Défi 13 de décembre: Froid, moi? jamais!


Je l'avoue, je n'ai pas participé au Défi 13 depuis quelques mois. Mais je suis prête pour Décembre (et même Janvier!). Ce mois-ci ma création est une écharpe grace à un atelier crochet avec Katherine (qui a aussi écrit le tuto). J'ai utilisé trois pelotes de Noro Silk Garden pour obtenir cet effet multicolore mais je n'aime vraiment pas cette qualité à cause des noeuds et des drôles de fils présents dans la laine. J'aimerais bien refaire cette écharpe avec une laine toute douce de SweetGeorgia.

Tiens, puisqu'on parle des couleurs, ça ne vous rappelle pas une autre écharpe? Il va falloir que j'utilise une nouvelle palette de couleurs...

La galerie des copains et copines sont ICI.

December 11, 2011

FAQ

Pardon my French

You might be wondering why some of my posts are written in French. That's because I take part in Défi 13, a fun challenge for French-speaking bloggers. The idea is to show a finished project on the 13th of the month (with a different theme every month) in order to ward off bad luck, but really it's about having fun and knitting/crocheting/sewing something outside of your comfort zone. If there's something in a post that you'd like to know more about, just say so in the comments.

Parlez-vous franglais?

Je suis née en France mais j'habite désormais aux Etats-Unis. Etant de nature paresseuse, j'écris en français pour Défi 13 et en anglais le reste du temps car la plupart de mes amies tricoteuses sont anglophones. Si vous avez une question, n'hésitez pas à me laisser un commentaire.

2011 KR retreat

Canandaigua Lake

I decided that it would be wise to post about the 2011 Knitter's Review retreat while it is still 2011 (for those who are interested, there are more pictures on flickr). Every year I try to extend my time at the retreat to soak in the atmosphere, this year I arrived on Wednesday evening so I had plenty of time to mingle with others and relax on my own.

Without violating the rule What happens at the retreat stays at the retreat, I can tell you that there was (in roughly chronological order):
- a ride from the Rochester airport to the inn with the lovely Cat Bordhi
- a morning of fun doing prep work with Martha, Jane, and others prior to the registration
- a tasty tarte tatin at the nearby New York Wine and Culinary Center
- two great classes: Knitting on the Diagonal with Cookie A and Sweet Tomato Heel with Cat. My New Beginnings project is to knit a pair of socks where I will use the concepts from Cookie's class and Cat's new heel. Cookie's class was eye-opening, I have been fiddling with swatches so we will see what I come up with.
- a marketplace that was so tempting that I had to buy a large bag from Julia Hilbrandt to carry my purchases and make several trips back to my room to get rid of my loot. I plan on knitting a cardigan (perhaps Emelie) out of String Theory Caper Sock and Finial out of Foxfire CSA.
- a hilarious 10th anniversary retrospective of the KR retreat in pictures by Clara (this was my 6th retreat so I enjoyed learning about the retreats in Virginia)
- chatting with friends, old and new, jotting down the name of many patterns for future projects, and downloading Ann Budd's new iPhone apps as soon as they became available

I have a few meetups planned before the 2012 retreat so hopefully, the wait won't be quite as bad this time!

Cookie's rib class

Cat and her zebra socks

Knitters everywhere!

Knitters moving at the speed of light when the marketplace opens
(I know that many were disappointed that I was not the first in line this year!)

Kristopher, aka The Bodyguard, ready to protect Clara from unwanted yarn attacks
(Psst: if there was a Sundara-aholics anonymous group, it would not be very anonymous as Jane, Kristopher, and I would probably be the founding members)

KRR retrospective by Clara

December 03, 2011

Show and Tell

I have been remiss in blogging due to a flurry of trips but whether I am travelling for business or pleasure, there is always some connection to fibery pursuits:
- London with a stop at Loop, where I was able to buy a signed copy of Alice Yu's book (aka Socktopus) and pre-order Juju's Loops
- Chicago with a stop at Loopy Yarns
- Rhinebeck where I attended the NY sheep and wool festival for the first time
- Canandaigua where we celebrated the 10th Knitter's Review Retreat (more on that later)
- Bermuda where I diligently worked on homework for a crochet class

In order to catch up, here's a little show and tell. The first two items are going to new loving homes:
Pattern: Sweet Bunting Cardigan by Laura Chau, Yarn: Dirty Water Dyeworks

Pattern: Baltic Beret from Vintage Modern Knits, Yarn: Fibre Company Canopy Fingering

Pattern: Rocketry baby cardigan, Yarn: Dream in Color

No, it's not a string of bikinis! It's a bunting for a friend's baby who will also get to wear the sweater above. Crochet bunting (pattern by Katherine), Yarn: Julia

Over the last few months, I have been taking many classes at Gather Here such as crochet with Katherine (bunting above, granny square scarf, and granny square pillow), embroidery basics and sewing with Virginia (napkins with mitered corners, box bag, Schoolhouse tunic). I am quite proud of what I sewed in the last class I took. Wanna see?

This is a Serious Canvas Totebag: it has an exterior pocket, a water bottle pocket, and two inside pockets (one of them with a zipper). It's big enough to carry my current knitting project (Quince's Belfast Hoodie) or materials when I go to the shop for classes.

October 18, 2011

Big Knitting

You know it is sweater time when clothing stores display a giant knitting swatch with cables. Talbots even had a second window display with two mannequins winding a skein by hand.

September 19, 2011

A weekend of classes with Kristin Nicholas (part 3)

This was a weekend of "firsts" for me: embroidery, steeking, and felting! I knitted the Sunflower Pillow top in the round as homework then Kristin showed us how to machine-sew over the steek stitches and I cut my first steek. I added some mitered edges but still need to embroider the pillow top and add fabric backing. In any case, Fair isle cardigans in the round, here I come!

I also knitted and crocheted some leaves and flowers following Kristin's pattern before the weekend. We felted all our flowers in one big wash load over the weekend, I am pleased with mine and plan on using them for brooches or to embellish some knitted hats.

Kristin was such a great teacher, energetic, patient, and organized. I can't believe how much she covered in just a weekend! If you have the opportunity to take classes with her, whether it's a one day class at the farm, a whole weekend, or a few hours at Vogue Knitting Live, sign up right away -- you won't regret it!

A weekend of classes with Kristin Nicholas (part 2)

We first examined the flowers and decomposed the colors that appeared in them using many colors of Julia yarn (and sometimes artistic license in adding another color)
Lesson 1 for color-impaired people like me: take color combinations from nature
Lesson 2: look closely! there are more colors than at first glance

We then used these color combinations when embellishing our swatch with french knots, daisy stitch, chain stitch, and other embroidery stitches. We also learned to knit mitered edges and add bobbles. I am so glad that I tried embroidery! It's one of these things that looks finicky and hard but now that I practiced on knitted fabric, I am confident that I'll be using it on both knitted and woven fabric. Kristin showed us the projects from Colorful Stitchery and now that I know how to sew, I will be able to embroider napkins, placemats, and pillows.

A weekend of classes with Kristin Nicholas (part 1)

Last January I lamented that I wasn't able to take as many classes at Vogue Knitting Live as I would have wanted. A knitting fairy (in this case, Melissa Morgan-Oakes) commented on this blog that not all was lost and that Kristin Nicholas was offering classes at her farm during the summer and fall. Fast forward to early September and there I was at the Leyden Glen Farm, a mere two hours away from Boston, ready to learn about colors, flowers, and many other things.

Kristin already blogged about the weekend
so I'll add my pictures as a participant. I purposefully omitted pictures of the sumptuous food that Kristin, Cathy, and Cynthia fed us throughout the weekend (better not to be reminded of one's gluttony...). Saturday morning we started with a tour of the house soaking in the colors, textures, and details that make this "Kristin's world". We then picked flowers from the garden for inspiration and our color exercises.

The studio where classes took place

Pictures from our Saturday afternoon hayride: sheep and sunset

July 12, 2011

Défi 13 de juillet: Plage et bord de mer

Iles Vierges des États-Unis - St John

Dipped Infinity Scarf par Laura Chau
Laine: Tanis Fiber Arts kit (Blue Label fingering in "blues")

Les nuances de bleu me rappellent la mer et la bordure grise ressemble à des galets. Cette écharpe circulaire n'est pas destinée à la plage mais je la porterai cet hiver, toute en bleu avec mes mitaines. Dorez-vous au soleil avec les autres créations...

June 12, 2011

Random Sunday

Here's a set that I knitted for my boss and his wife who are expecting a baby boy in June:
- Kai cable sweater from Louisa Harding's "Natural Knits for Babies and Moms" and matching washcloth (Ballband Dishcloth pattern) knitted in Spud and Chloe Sweater
- tube socks knitted with self-striping Mybootee Sock Yarn that I purchased while in Utah

As much as I love knitting with Spud and Chloe Sweater, I wish they would come up with a DK weight in the same wool and cotton content because seaming a baby sweater in worsted yarn is painful. It was also the first time that I machine-washed this yarn and it pilled much more than when I handwashed it (not surprisingly) so do not wash several colors in the same load or you'll be plucking light-colored pills off the darker items...

Crochet Amigurumi Owl
(thanks to the class I took at Gather Here)

Seen at the Maine Fiber Frolic
(it's the same sign every year and it cracks me up every year!)

May 30, 2011

Back To School

Over the last few months, I have been expanding my crafty horizons through classes. This is due in part to the opening of Gather Here, a stitch studio in Cambridge that offers knitting, crochet, and sewing classes in addition to having great workspace, yummy yarns and fabrics, and fun events.

My first class at Gather Here was the Sewing Clinic, where Virginia helped me with the Super Quick and Easy Baby Quilt (you can see a variation of it on the Purlbee
here). The blanket is a present for a coworker who is expecting a baby in June and I think that the baby won't mind the uneven satin-stitch ovals and slightly crooked blindstitch.

Pattern from Last-Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts (Joelle Hoverson)
Blue fabric from the Nest Collection by Valori Wells, purchased at Purl Diva
White fabric from Happy Nursery Collection by Cloud 9 fabrics, purchased at Gather Here

My second class was the Crochet Basics class, where Carson walked two of my friends (who are now into knitting and crochet -- I've been recruiting!) and me through a potholder pattern. I am now signed up for the June Crochet Amigurumi class where we'll crochet a cute little owl.


On the knitting front, I've been learning more about lace construction and lace traditions. Gudrun Johnston of Shetland Trader taught a 4 hour class on Shetland shawl construction at Webs. We learnt each step of the construction by knitting a miniature version of the Aestlight shawl (you can see my unblocked mini-shawl below knitted in leftover String Theory Bluestocking) and I'm looking forward to knitting the full version.

[From the class description] The three-part construction of the shawl begins with a garter stitch triangle, which increases from the point outwards using yarnovers. Stitches are then easily picked up from the yarn overloops along the edges and the border is worked outwards from the triangle. The shawl is finished with an edging that is knitted sideways and attached to the live stitches of the border as it is being worked.


I was lucky enough to attend "Introduction to the History, Methods, and Styles of Lace Knitting" with Franklin Habit, organized by Lucy of Mind's Eye Yarns. Franklin covered a lot of material in three hours from reading charts to blocking. I also learnt about the origins of the Orenburg, Shetland, and Estonian lace traditions. My dream would be to attend a class with Nancy Bush or Galina Khmaleva but until it becomes true, I'll be watching Nancy Bush's DVD "Knitted Lace of Estonia" ;)

One repeat of the Parterre Broderie Scarf by Franklin Habit
Yarn: Tern by Quince and co

May 15, 2011

Défi 13 de mai: Stabilo

Modèle: Pine Forest Baby Blanket (Ingrid Aartun Bøe)
5.5 écheveaux de Spud and Chloe Sweater

Un de mes collègues de travail et sa femme vont avoir un petit garcon au mois de juin. Lorsque j'ai demandé à la future maman ce qu'elle aimerait que je tricote, elle a suggéré une couverture (au moins le bébé pourra l'utiliser plus longtemps qu'un pull!). Finalement cette couverture est énorme donc je pense qu'ils peuvent la plier pour la mettre dans le landau ou la mettre par terre comme aire de jeu.

Allez en prendre plein les yeux avec les autres créations fluo!

March 28, 2011

String me along!

A monthly knit-along started in the String Theory Yarn Lovers group on Ravelry. The project in February was the Surya shawl: though I started full of steam with some lovely ST Caper Lace in periwinkle, I got distracted by another shiny project (the Tangled Yoke cardigan) and didn't finish the shawl...
But I stuck with the March project and finished my Java socks on time! ST Bluestocking (80% Blue Faced Leicester superwash/20% nylon)is a great sock yarn, durable with good stitch definition. The pattern was quick to knit (2 stitch cables are easy to knit without a cable needle) and I liked how the designer integrated the cable pattern into the gusset shaping.

Pattern: Java socks by Cailyn Meyer (Knitty, Winter 2011)
Yarn: String Theory Bluestocking in "Jade"

Did you see this article, fellow Boston area knitters? Two new fabric and yarn stores recently opened, Gather Here in Cambridge and JP Knit and Stitch in Jamaica Plain. I'll try to visit them in the coming weeks but if they're anything like Stitch House in Dorchester, then I'll be one happy (and poorer) knitter and aspiring seamstress!

March 27, 2011

Bohus-Inspired Knitting with the Kelbourne Woolens duo

At Vogue Knitting Live, Courtney and Kate mentioned that they would be at In the Loop in Norfolk, MA for a class as part of their book tour. Spend time with the duo of designers that distributes The Fibre Company yarns and just released "Vintage Modern Knits"? Go to a new-to-me yarn store? Learn about Bohus-inspired knitting? Please sign me up! (and that was before I learnt that Cheryl was going to provide us with breakfast -- homemade coffee cake, yum!-- and lunch)

Using the Baltic beret as the class project, Courtney (left) and Kate (right) taught us how to purl in fair isle and how to handle 3 color rounds. They were so helpful, giving tips and tinking back our mistakes! Even though I'm a slow knitter when it comes to two-handed fair isle knitting, it was quite addictive to see how the colors would play together especially with the little purl bumps. Can you spot them in the picture?

After the class, we got to try on the book samples (click on the picture below for details), appreciate the design details, and fondle the yarns. There are so many good patterns in the book but after this class and the Baltic beret and mittens, I feel confident enough to tackle another Bohus-inspired project, the Freyja sweater designed by Courtney (Interweave Knits, Fall 2009). I just need to choose which colors of Road to China Light to use!

March 13, 2011

Défi 13 de mars: Vintage


Mon interprétation du thème de ce mois-ci est un peu hors-sujet: "vintage" comme "quelque chose qui durera longtemps"! Je vous propose le Tangled Yoke Cardigan d'Eunny Jang (Interweave Knits, Fall 2007) que je compte porter beaucoup dans les années à venir.

J'ai utilisé 7 pelotes de Rowan Felted Tweed pour la plus petite taille et j'ai utilisé des aiguilles deux tailles plus petites que celles préconisées. Le patron est facile à suivre: on commence par le bas, on tricote les deux manches en rond qu'on raccorde à la pièce principale et on finit avec les épaules et le cou -- pas de couture ou d'assemblage, c'est mon genre de tricot préféré! La torsade est moins difficile qu'il n'y parait, on ne répète le motif qu'une fois et il suffit de faire attention que sur un rang sur deux.
Allez admirer les autres créations "Vintage" ici!
(et je vous préviens que je vais manquer le défi corail car je serai en voyage au mois d'avril)
-------------------

Now on to the American-English portion of this post so that I get to brag about this finished object twice! It took me several months but I finished my New Beginnings project from the 2010 KR retreat, the Tangled Yoke Cardigan by Eunny Jang.

This cardigan turned out to be much easier than I thought, mostly because the cable portion wasn't long (I knitted it without a cable needle) and the neckband and buttonbands were quick as well. According to the "Fit to Flatter" class, this is the right type of sweater for me so I'm planning on wearing it a lot and knitting several cardigans of this type, perhaps at a smaller gauge (though I was already knitting on US3 needles).

February 13, 2011

Défi 13 de février: Bicolore

Laines: Bourette Chinée (rain et tears) et Cachemire (fougère) de La Droguerie
Modèle inspiré par le bonnet de Fred

Les créations bicolores des copines, c'est par ICI!

January 31, 2011

Yarn shop travelogue: Paris (again!)



Updating my list of Parisian yarn shops with two more stores.

This lovely shop is located in a passage couvert near Les Halles -- you will find European yarns (Anny Blatt, Bouton d'Or, Fonty, Katia, Plassard for example) and other brands (Malabrigo, Noro, Debbie Bliss, Cascade). There's something to find in every nook and cranny! I spent quite some time there fondling yarns, choosing buttons, and looking at sewing fabric (especially Liberty fabric and bias). There's a very comfortable couch if you wish to take your time and browse the book selection.

This is an old-fashioned mercerie meaning that you tell the salesperson what item you wish to look at and she will bring it to you. This store is packed to the brim with knitting, sewing, cross-stitch, and embroidery supplies. I recommend looking at the list of yarns on the blog before proceeding to the store for fear of missing out on something: Holst Garn, Fonty, Habu, Fleece Artist/Handmaiden, Rowan, Debbie Bliss,...

January 30, 2011

Vogue Knitting Live - Part 2

Now let's move on to the "I can't believe I was standing this close to knitting royalty" part of the weekend.

- Anna Hrachovec of Mochimochi displayed some of her work in the Gallery and was signing copies of her book. I love to read her blog but seeing her work in real-life made me appreciate the detail that goes into all these little creatures, houses, skyscrapers!

















- I got my copy of "Vintage Modern Knits" fresh off the press and autographed by Courtney Kelley and Kate Gagnon Osborn, of Kelbourne Woolens. They're on a book tour so try to catch them and maybe take a class too!

- While at the Knitty City booth, I bought a cute project bag with "Elijah" that Ysolda Teague was nice enough to sign. She had pictures of her upcoming book, Little Red in the City, to show on her iPad.

- When I found myself in the elevator with Kristin Nicholas, I started babbling about her book "Color by Kristin" and how it was too bad that the first issue of Nashua Handknits magazine featuring her was out-of-print. Seeing that she's in western Massachusetts, I'll try to take a class with her at Webs later this year to prove that I'm not usually that incoherent.

- Last but not least, I attended Clara's lecture entitled "The State of the Yarn Union Address". Cat Bordhi told me to record snippets on my phone but I don't think that snippets would have done justice to Clara's well-prepared remarks.

Having only taken up knitting seriously in 2004, I did not know about the knitting industry in the pre-KR and pre-Knitty days and how the yarn companies, knitting magazines, and designers interacted. The lecture gave me a lot to mull over on how to best support brick-and-mortar yarn stores and larger yarn companies along with indie designers and small hand-dyers...