December 12, 2010

Défi 13 de décembre: géométrie

KR destash blanket
Originally uploaded by
Ma contribution ce mois-ci est un modeste carré composé de quatre triangles isocèles. Cette petite couverture est tricotée en rond avec des laines différentes donc on voit des carrés dans d'autres carrés!

Les laines sont toutes des laines
Shibui Knits (ce sont des pelotes orphelines que j'ai trouvées dans le Swap lounge lors de la Knitter's Review Retreat l'année dernière et cette année)
- merino kid, merino alpaca, baby alpaca DK en "wasabi" laissés par la généreuse
- silk cloud en "wasabi"
- merino worsted en "seaweed"
Pas mal pour un projet utilisant vos restes de laines, n'est-ce pas?

Il est temps d'aller réviser votre géométrie avec la
galerie de décembre!

November 29, 2010

KR retreat 2010 - Sunday

Sunday morning was all about "New Beginnings". There were door prizes and there was writing: notes to thank the people who had provided the riches in our goodie bags, notes to the staff at the inn, notes on the KR retreat memory book, notes to ourselves to be opened next year. Among my knitting resolutions, I promised to knit at least 10 minutes a day (dear Fran, you're still watching over me!).

Then Clara put on her sparkly tiara and her funny glasses and proceeded with the ceremony that would unite us with our New Beginnings project. My unlawfully wedded project is Eunny Jang's Tangled Yoke cardigan in Rowan Felted Tweed. Per Ann's class, I dutifully knitted a gauge swatch in the two stitch patterns and felt quite virtuous.

And then it was time for hugs and to say goodbye until next year!

PS: I feel that I must disclose what came home with me from the stash lounge because Vicki might blackmail me otherwise!
- 2 skeins of Sundara silk sport in marigold destashed by Rosi (Wendy was nice enough to pick them for me, what a nice roommate!)
- 1 skein of green Shibui merino worsted (which I am using along with the Shibui yarns in "wasabi" from last year's destash for a blanket -- I expect to be done this week)
- 2 skeins of Rowan purelife cotton for some charity hats
- "Modern top-down knitting" by Kristina McGowan
- "The Gentle Art of Domesticity" by Jane Brocket
- 2 old issues of Interweave Knits
And I won a beautiful skein of String Theory Caper sock yarn in "Blue Hill" as a door prize!

KR retreat 2010 - Saturday

We reconvened bright and early on Saturday morning for our group picture. Above you can see our fearless leader Clara and our stash lounge tzarina Lanea. We then parted ways to go to our respective classes.

I took Ann Budd's class on Knitting Mathematics (aka Intro to Sweater Design). She might say that you shouldn't take classes with her but just ignore it! I learned a lot from her class and came out with the confidence that I *can* knit a sweater that fits me even if my gauge and yarn are totally different from what the pattern calls for. I also proved to myself that Cheryl Brunette's shaping formula is true, just because I like to figure out how mathy things work.

Cat and Melissa seemed to enjoy playing tricks on each other during their classes: here you can see Cat spying on Melissa's "Knitting with Beads" class. I think that their circular needles were separated at birth.

Saturday afternoon was all about the KR marketplace -- at least for me, the serious knitting shopaholic. I decided not to go to Storey Publishing this year since I had already bought "Toe-up 2-at-a-time socks" and "Sock yarn one-skein wonders", but other knitters came back with books for themselves and for gift recipients.

My favorite marketplace acquisitions were:
- 2 skeins of Foxfire Flock Sock in smokey plum (I had already received some Flock Sock as part of my Fall Sheep Share)
- 5 skeins of String Theory Caper Aran and matching green glass buttons for a Lady February sweater (Karen and Tanis had these button sets made to match their colorways)
- Quince Tern in various colors for a future fair-isle project bought from the lovely Pam Allen. That's the yarn I used during Cat's class and it is scrumptious for socks/shawls/fingerless mitts.

On Saturday evening, Cat told us a sweet tale and then it was time for the Knitter's Book of Yarn/Knitter's Book of Wool/Wool-along extravaganza! I just love this picture of Jane with her knitting friends and their Falling Leaves.

KR retreat 2010 - Thursday and Friday

It's hard to believe that after so many months of waiting (im)patiently for the Knitter's Review Retreat, it went by so quickly and I now find myself already waiting for next year's retreat! Here's a quick recap of the retreat that occurred November 12-14 at the Williams Inn in Williamstown, MA.

My carpool buddy and roommate Wendy and I arrived on Thursday afternoon just a few hours before dinner which was exactly the right amount of time to unpack and:
- get a great big hug from Martha at the registration desk
- hand our destash items into the capable hands of Lanea, Purlewe, and team
- marvel at the contents of our goodie bags (I was able to knit an extra charity hat during the retreat with the ball of Zara that was in my bag, how's that for instant gratification?)

Thursday evening was a good time to welcome newcomers and catch up with old friends. The lovely Kathleen gave me a beautiful red Stepping Stones scarf that she knitted with Rosi's cashmere from last year's stash lounge. Cat Bordhi demonstrated a fun way of spinning using a rubber ball and rubber bands (you can see her plying in the picture below).

I attended Cat's class on Personal Footprints on Friday morning and early afternoon. I am now the proud owner of my very own monofoot and ready to knit socks that fit me perfectly. (Unfortunately, I didn't get to snap a picture of Cat playing Prince Charming to each of us and looking into our eyes to see if we were lying about how well our sock toe fit.)

While retreat attendees were trickling in, I got a "behind the scenes" look at the KR marketplace as some of the vendors were setting up.

(both Karen and Tanis were able to attend this year)

(Chris got mobbed at Rhinebeck but she still brought some lovely things)

(Barb and Holly brought the new Cormo sock blend, Flock Sock)

(don't worry, the ladies were adequately dressed with knitted samples on Saturday afternoon)

Friday evening was "Show-and-tell". Amazingly enough, Clara was able to ensure that we would describe our favorite yarn or express our undying love for multiple yarns in 60 seconds (or less) so show-and-tell lasted exactly an hour and a half, leaving plenty of time to welcome first-timers, explore the stash lounge, or ask fellow knitters what they were knitting.

November 13, 2010

Défi 13 de novembre: couleurs fanées

Les feuilles mortes se ramassent à la pelle...

Ce mois-ci ma création est un cowl qui arrive pile-poil car il commence
à faire froid ici! Le modèle est tiré du nouveau livre de Joelle Hoverson, "More Last-Minute Gifts". La laine est Kashmir (80% merino, 20% cachemire, 180 metres), teinte à la main par Ball and Skein dans un beau violet sombre. La photo a été prise dans le Shakespeare Garden dans Central Park.

La galerie de novembre est par

October 12, 2010

Défi 13 d’octobre: Petits motifs

Le jacquard et moi, on est super copains! La preuve, c’est que j’ai réussi à tricoter ma création pour ce défi 13 en seulement trois jours (nous étions en vacances dans les parcs nationaux du Grand Teton et de Yellowstone donc j’ai passé beaucoup de temps dans la voiture pendant que quelqu’un d’autre conduisait).

Le modèle est “
Transition Gloves” de Shibui Knits et j’ai utilisé l’une de mes laines préférées (Sundara sock yarn, un écheveau chacun d’Arabian nights et Winter skies -- il me reste assez de laine pour pouvoir utiliser ces couleurs pour ma Barn Raising Quilt). Au lieu de tricoter des gants jumeaux, j’ai tricoté des gants complémentaires. Je ne risque pas de me tromper entre ma main gauche et ma main droite!

Les créations des copines sont

October 09, 2010

Everywhere I go... Yarn!

Pictures snapped on the iPhone: clothes display at the mall and an upcoming Nintendo Wii game.

September 26, 2010

A crafty weekend

My crafty weekend started Saturday morning at Stitch House in Dorchester with a sewing class titled 'Get to know your sewing machine'. There were three of us and under the expert guidance of Jen P., we reviewed the parts of our sewing machines, how to thread it, wind a bobbin, identify each foot, run a straight stitch, and how to do a blind hem stitch (which is important for short people like me who need all their pairs of pants to be hemmed). I am looking forward to taking another sewing class, perhaps an intensive class for beginners and new sewers so that I can make one of Amy Butler's Barcelona skirts.

In case you're interested in sewing but don't want to invest in your own sewing machine yet, you can use one of the machines at Stitch House for free during a class or use it for a mere $5/hour outside of class hours. Each sewing station has a nice machine, a lamp, and a box of notions and there's a central table to cut fabric and iron.

But there is much more than Amy Butler fabrics, Heather Bailey and Oliver + S patterns at this store, there's also yarn (Classic Elite, Lorna's Laces, Rowan, Berroco, Blue Sky Alpacas, Spud and Chloe, Madelinetosh, you name it). Oh, the madbird needle cases! the funny knitting-related buttons ("will knit for wine")! the pretty stitch markers!

But the weekend was just starting! Boy and I drove up to Maine stopping at:
- the Crate and Barrel outlet in Kittery
- my favorite yarn store in Portland, Knit Wit. Every color of Quince and co yarns was displayed including their new yarns (Tern and a linen yarn).
- the Portland Fiber Gallery. They had just received a scrumptious bag of 85%BFL/15%tussah fiber
- Vervacious on Commercial St. Clara, the Hot Chocolate Orange might want to meet your marshmallows at the KR retreat...
- 555 on Congress St, where we've had three flawless dinners so far

On Sunday, I attended Amy Herzog's class on "Fit to Flatter" at Purl Diva in Brunswick. I learned so much about my shape, why some sweaters work for me and not others, what neckline/sleeve length/sweater length I should wear, what modifications need to be done, and so much more. For example, I will undo a few inches from my Sundara wrap sweater to make the body and sleeves shorter. If you can't attend Amy's classes, you can always read her tutorials, available as blog posts or pdf files -- I promise you'll learn a lot from them.

To end this weekend on a good note, I'll be spending time tonight reading my copy of "Brave New Knits". This was a great crafty weekend!

September 15, 2010

Défi 13 de septembre: Flashdance

Pour commencer, je dois confesser que je n'ai jamais vu ce film mais il est désormais sur ma queue de DVDs à emprunter. Je ne voulais pas tricoter des jambières alors j'ai suivi les conseils de mes amis: un cache-coeur. Cela me rappelle mes cours de danse pendant les années 80: chaussons Repetto, tutu rose et cache-coeur assorti. Cette fois-ci, pas de rose mais un beau bleu de chez Sundara ("navy over slate" en sport merino). Le modèle est celui de Knitting Pure and Simple (patron # 263 "wrap cardigan top down").

La galerie Flashdance est ICI!

PS: J'ai réussi à tricoter ma création en jacquard pour le Défi 13 d'octobre lors de mon voyage au Far West (d'accord, par vraiment le Far West, juste les parcs nationaux de Yellowstone et Grand Teton). Juste un petit indice en attendant le mois prochain... (photo prise en attendant l'éruption du geyser "Old Faithful").

September 07, 2010

Yarn shop travelogue: Montreal

I made a lot of progress on my Defi 13 sweater during our drive to Montreal (only two sleeves to knit) but until I reveal the finished project, let's talk about the yarn stores that I visited last weekend.

This store is just a couple of blocks away from the Place St Henri metro stop so you can send your non-knitting travel companions to the Marche Atwater while you're yarn shopping. This store carries some great yarns (Louet, Reynolds, Estelle, Schoppel Wolle, O Wool, Hemp for Knitting, ...) but what I really like are the little maple leaf signs that highlight Canadian yarns such as Koigu, St Denis yarns (Nordique and Boreale), Lucy Neatby's Celestial Merino, local alpaca, and last but not least Projekt B.

The Projekt B yarns and fibers are hand-dyed in Montreal and exclusive to this store -- let's just say that I've fallen for them every time I've stopped by Ariadne Knits. How can one resist these gorgeous colors on the alpaca/merino/cashmere, silk/cashmere, mohair, or merino yarn bases? During this third visit, I bought some merino/bamboo fiber and cashmere/silk yarn.

This shop is within a few blocks from the Beaubien metro station in the middle of the Plaza St Hubert. It is packed from floor to ceiling with yarns, fabrics, buttons, and other notions. On the yarn front, you will find Colinette, Sublime, Rowan, Jaggerspun, Araucania, Louet, and Berroco among many other brands. Canadian yarns include Fleece Artist and the local indie dyer Tanis Fiber Arts in merino lace, DK, and sock yarn weight. You will love the store samples that are displayed throughout the store, especially the exclusive kid patterns by Celine Barbeau.

You will probably need a car to reach this store but it is definitely worth it to see the handdyed Biscotte et cie yarns and fibers in person. The yarns are dyed in semi-solid, variegated, and self-striping colorways in a diverse array of fibers (from merino/bamboo to lambswool/angora/cashmere) and weights -- you can even see the yarns drying in the back room! I bought two skeins of Felix sock yarn and some spinning fiber to make a pair of thrummed mittens and a pair of socks.

You can find Louet, Brown Spun, SandnesGarn and other brands, but the other thing that drew me to the store was the fact that it's the only North American store to carry La Droguerie products! You can buy the pattern books, some colors of Alpaga, Plumette, Baby Douceur, Kaleido, Lin, and Kid Mohair as well as an assortment of fabric and buttons. And if that wasn't enough to tempt you, you can always buy locally made project bags or glass pendants.

August 31, 2010

True Blue

Artists go through phases, so do knitters (artists in their own way). I am in my blue phase: I finished the blue/gray beret in Nordique, knitted a couple of hats out of String Theory superwash merino in "Blue Hill", and am now working on my September Defi 13 project using Sundara sport merino in "Navy over slate". That's the work-in-progress on one of the white rocking chairs in the picture below taken on Monhegan Island.

In July, Boy and I stopped by Purl Diva in Brunswick and Ellen suggested Monhegan Island as a weekend destination. We followed her advice and spent last weekend hiking, taking pictures, enjoying the ocean view from our room at the Island Inn, and eating way too much. We'll be back!

I am hoping to make progress on this sweater during Labor Day weekend - we're off to Montreal so there should be plenty of knitting time in the car.

August 22, 2010

I snapped this picture with my iPhone at Halibut Point State Park in Rockport last week. It reminded me of a zen garden, where each person can contribute a stone, big or small, round or square. The Knitter's Review forums are somewhat like that: each knitter contributes with questions, answers, advice, recipes, jokes, and personal stories.

This week Fran and Lucie joined Camille and Trish in a place where they can knit together as much as they want with any luxurious fiber they desire. We miss them all dearly.

I started working on the Barn Raising Quilt (using Sundara sock yarn) again, knitting at least ten minutes a day. To me, it will be Fran's quilt.

August 08, 2010

Reasons why I like my stash

Sometimes my yarn/fiber stash weighs heavily on my mind. But it has some good sides too:
- When my aunt told me she was learning to knit socks, sock yarn, double- pointed needles, and patterns were sent her way.
- When Ellen posted the details of the fourth edition of "De-stash and Do good", a box full of yarns was set aside for a good cause.
- When one of my coworkers asked for a scarf in turquoise, I showed her a dozen skeins in the right color family and she chose the skein she liked the most.
Yarn: Farmhouse Yarns Bonnie's Bamboo (1 skein)
Pattern: Stella Bamboo Lace Scarf from Luxury Yarn One-skein Wonders

- When another coworker said she liked hand-knitted coasters, I had a dozen skeins that matched her living-room colors for her to choose from.
Twelve coasters in Spud and Chloe Fine (white), Zen Yarn Garden merino/cashmere/nylon (brown), and Spirit Trail Paivatar (green).

- When a fellow knitter wins a contest, I can find something in her favorite colors.
- When Clara announces that Shetland is the breed for the August woolalong, I can go directly to my spinning stash and start spinning (when Polwarth was chosen for July, the July fiber from the Sweetgeorgia fiber club turned out to be Polwarth -- how serendipitous!)

And if a yarn and I need to part ways, I can always destash it on the KR forums or bring it to the KR retreat. So really, it's not that bad!

July 12, 2010

Défi 13 de juillet: petit bal - guinguette

Ropes and Ladders headband
Originally uploaded by miminh3

Pour ce mois de juillet, je vous propose d'aller au bal avec un bandeau/serre-tête et .... un béret à moitié fini.

Ben pourquoi? Tout a commencé avec une idée fixe: je voulais absolument que ma création de juillet soit un modèle de Veronik Avery, tricoté avec sa nouvelle gamme de laine, St-Denis Nordique. Pas de problème, j'ai une pelote en blanc, parfaite pour le Ropes and Ladders Headband, et une autre pelote en gris, destinée à devenir un béret à torsades. Les deux modèles sont tirés du nouveau livre de Veronik Avery, Knitting 24/7.

Le bandeau est facile à réaliser: il requiert moins d'une moitié de pelote et j'ai utilisé deux jolis boutons nacrés de La Droguerie. La prochaine fois, je monterai mes mailles de manière provisoire pour que le joint soit parfaitement invisible.

Pour le béret, ce n'est pas si simple. Il y a une petite erreur dans le livre et il faut deux pelotes pour ce projet donc je manque de laine à court de route et il me faut commander une deuxieme pelote. Voici où j'en suis pour l'instant (je vous montrerai une photo lorsqu'il sera fini)... Joyeux 14 juillet à tout le monde!

July 01, 2010

Tour de Fleece

As a member of Team Superfleece, I will try to spin every day between July 3rd and July 25th. I just need to spin Spirit Trail Fiber, Briar Rose Fiber, or a breed from the Knitter's Book of Wool or KBOW Woolalong. I set aside more fiber than I will be able to spin in that period of time but who says that variety is bad?

First photo:
- Briar Rose Fibers Cormo
- Hello Yarn Targhee
- Winterwind Farm CVM

Second photo:
- Hatchtown Farm Coopworth
- Spirit Trail Teeswater/Cotswold/Corriedale
- Spirit Trail Merino/Silk
- Spirit Trail Cashmere/Silk

I'm off to Quebec this weekend so I'm packing my two Bosworth spindles but I'll be spinning on my Louet Victoria when I get back.

June 29, 2010

Sheep Shares Lamb Visit Day

Bottle lambs_3
Originally uploaded by miminh3
I was lucky enough to spend some time last Sunday with the sheep that grow the wonderful wool I love to knit with, the people who take such good care of them, and the extraordinary woman behind the Foxfire yarns and fibers.

There were cormo sheep, border leicester sheep, angora goats (Butch and the tiny Gypsy), and llamas (Caitlyn and the freshly shorn Crackerjack). But the highlight of the day were Mistral and Georgia -- these bottle-lambs behave more like puppies than lambs! Mistral was especially curious and looked through our knitting bags.

More pictures HERE! Thanks again to our hosts for a great visit!

June 20, 2010

Contest #2: tell me about your favorite LYS!

Boy and I have been tracking my yarny comings and goings: I've been to 124 yarn stores so far, like Liberty of London (above) and Purl (below). I'd like to celebrate local yarn stores, how much they bring to our community, and how much I love visiting them by having a contest.

Just post a comment to tell me about your favorite yarn store (name, location, and why you like it so much!). The deadline is whenever I make it to store #125 so it could be next week or it could be in a month. The winner (or winners if I get a lot of entries) will be chosen randomly from all the entries and will receive some yarn in his/her favorite colors handpicked from my stash. Thanks for participating and enjoy this picture of a Nantucket 'sheep'!
Edited to add: Shop #125 has been visited (Fil et Fibre in Quebec) so the contest is now over, thank you for participating and your LYS suggestions! The winner of the random drawing is NutmegOwl!

June 13, 2010

Défi 13 de juin: dentelles

Flower Basket Shawl
Originally uploaded by miminh3
Lorsqu'on me dit dentelles, je pense immédiatement à Evelyn Clark. Ses créations, telle que le fameux Swallowtail, sont magnifiques, ses modèles ne comportent aucune erreur et elle révèle comment inventer son propre châle à forme triangulaire dans le livre, Knitting Lace Triangles.

J'ai choisi le Flower Basket Shawl, un modèle facile à tricoter même sur la route car les parties gauche et droite du châle sont identiques (et non symétriques). A celles et ceux qui veulent se lancer dans la dentelle, je vous conseille fortement ce modèle. Le fil est 'Ixchel' que j'ai recu lors du Spirit Trail Yarn Club l'année dernière. C'est le même alpaga que j'ai utilisé

Il est temps d'admirer les autres créations à trous-trous.

(Et va falloir aussi cogiter pour le défi de juillet car le thème me semble difficile et je me suis inscrite au Tour de Fleece, pendant lequel nous devons filer de la laine tous les jours du Tour de France.)

June 11, 2010

Knitting Memories of Alaska

Haines, AK
Originally uploaded by miminh3
Our trip to Alaska went by too fast, as all great vacations do! Here are some knitting-related highlights from our trip -- Boy and I spent five days on our own to visit the Denali National Park and the Kenai Fjords National Park and then hopped on a seven-day cruise from Seward to Vancouver.

- In Anchorage, I stopped by the Oomingmak co-op and bought a beautiful Herder's cap from their Tundra and Snow collection. I talked to one of the knitters there and observed the meticulous and lightning-fast blocking of items. Tip: they use a cardboard sewing cutting board for blocking, it has everything you need to measure your finished item and the cardboard is fine for lace items.

- In Palmer, we visited the Musk Ox Farm which supplies the Oomingmak with its qiviut. It was great to see these imposing animals in beautiful scenery: some calves were born just a few days before our visit so there was some chasing to give one of them a shot, it was just like a rodeo.

- During the cruise days where we were at sea, I took five knitting classes, three with Lucy Neatby and two with Donna Druchunas.
*I had many epiphanies during Lucy's classes regarding the modified conventional bind-off, the garter stitch short-row heel, the toe chimney,... and the list goes on and on.
*Donna's classes on Japanese Knitting and Lace design opened up a whole new world of possibilities. I look forward to navigating japanese knitting charts and maybe even use some of those stitches in my own designs. Should I join 'Je tricote en japonais'?

- I had the opportunity to enhance my stash with some local finds
* sock yarn handdyed by Fireweed Dyeworks in the colorways "Alaskan Wildflower" and "Lupine"
* local qiviut purchased at the Far North Yarn Co. I was thrilled to see a knitted sample hat that only required a half ounce of qiviut, the Wavy Feathers Qiviut Hat, and a knitted cowl that required one ounce. Not only was it the only yarn store I visited that sold qiviut by the half-ounce, it was also the most affordable one ($38 per half ounce). I was slightly overwhelmed by their awesome yarn selection but regained enough consciousness to also purchase Donna's new book, Successful Lace Knitting.
* silk hankies to spin by Raven Frog Fibers
* SweetGeorgia yarns purchased at Three Bags Full: I know that I have plenty of Felicia's yarn already and that I belong to her monthly fiber club but one can never have too much of her vibrant colors
* yarn by Indigo Moon and Gourmet Crafter purchased at Urban Yarns

I might not get around to knitting or spinning these for a while but when I do, the memories of this trip will bring me comfort.

Oh, and have I mentioned that I have a new weapon in my stash-busting arsenal? At last week's Maine Fiber Frolic, Boy bought me a Cricket loom as a birthday present.

May 12, 2010

Défi 13 de mai: rose

Vu que je n'avais pas beaucoup de temps à consacrer à ma création de mai, j'ai décidé de tricoter quelque chose de petit. J'ai commencé avec l'écharpe Flora mais comme la fleur était trop grosse, il y a eu un changement de plan: l'écharpe devient symétrique et la fleur se retrouve sur un petit bonnet. Je n'aime pas trop le rose (je sais, la honte pour une fille!) mais l'une de mes petites cousines adore le rose donc je lui enverrai cet ensemble.

J'ai utilisé le fil Sweater de Spud and Chloe que j'adore pour les tricots pour enfants: 50% laine et 50% cotton donc parfait pour toutes les saisons, lavable en machine et disponible en coloris acidulés.

J'ai plein d'idées dentelle pour le mois de juin et beaucoup de temps pour tricoter... En attendant, allez voir la galerie de mai!

May 05, 2010

Yarn shop travelogue: coastal Maine

Poland Spring, Maine
Originally uploaded by miminh3
I've been too busy to knit in the last few weeks but I now have some down time so I'm looking forward to knitting again. This funny "stress free zone" sign was taken in Poland Spring, Maine which brings us to today's post: yarn stores on the Maine coast that I like to go to!

Maine is close enough to us that Boy and I sometimes go there for the weekend during the spring or summer so I get to stop by some wonderful yarn stores. I'll just focus on four stores that I like but Clara outlined a great roadtrip through Maine.

KnitWit in Portland

You will find known brands such as Rowan and Berroco as well as yarns from Maine companies. In particular, they have the most extensive collection of Fibre Company yarns I've seen which makes me succomb every time. The last time I visited, they were selling a house-brand yarn made in Maine that looked great for colorwork and was very affordable (I believe that it was less than $4 for a 200 yard skein).

Portland Fiber Gallery & Weaving Studio

Just a block away from Knit Wit is the Portland Fiber Gallery. They carry yarn (e.g. Imperial Stock Ranch yarn), fiber (e.g. Ashford), and spinning equipment as well as buttons, jewelry, and finished items made locally. They also hand-dye their own yarns and fibers which you can buy at the store and on their etsy store: everything from silk hankies to batts, from silk lace to merino/tencel yarn. The store also carries weaving supplies (you can rent or buy looms) and I was sorely tempted to get a knitter's loom.

Purl Diva in Brunswick

This is the store that I wished was near me as in "I wished I lived in that store". But then I would spend all my money there and be broke so it might be better for me that I am two and a half hours away. Ellen has wonderful taste and carries a wide spectrum of yarns, from Berroco to Handmaiden, via Isager, Madelinetosh, Sweetgeorgia, and Three Irish Girls. She also carries things that are made in Maine, like cute Purlsana pouches or Done Roving yarns.

String Theory in Blue Hill

This is the home of String Theory Yarn, the yarn that is lovingly dyed by Karen and Tanis. The store is a gorgeous house and the last time I visited, Karen was outside setting the freshly dyed skeins to dry: what a lovely sight! Of course you can buy plenty of String Theory yarn in all of their yarn bases but they also offer handspun yarn, buttons, jewelry, and project bags made in Maine.

I'll be travelling for most of May. I'm hoping to visit Purl in its new location in Soho, the Oomingmak coop in Anchorage, Three Bags Full in Vancouver, and go to the Maine Fiber Frolic. See, it all comes back to Maine!

April 12, 2010

Défi 13 d'avril: végétal

Bardini hat
Originally uploaded by miminh3
Ma création ce mois-ci est un autre chapeau mais pour l'été. Il est pliable donc il suffit de le mettre dans son sac a main et de le sortir quand le soleil daigne se montrer... C'est ce qui s'est passé ce weekend donc la photo a été prise à la plage -- Crane Beach.

Le modèle Bardini est tiré du livre de Kristi Porter, "Knitting in the sun", qui est consacré au tricot pour les régions estivales.

Le lin que j'ai utilisé et le lin de Louet se ressemblent comme deux gouttes d'eau mais celui-ci a été teint par Claudia handpainted yarns. Le coloris "just plum" est un joli violet nuancé.

Contrairement au chanvre, ce lin ne s'est pas assoupli lors du tricot mais je suis sûre qu'un bon lavage aurait fait l'affaire. J'ai préferé ne pas laver mon chapeau pour qu'il garde la forme d'un chapeau de paille.

La galerie d'avril, c'est par ICI!

March 29, 2010

Contest winner!

Today is our fifth wedding anniversary! We went for dinner at a nice restaurant and came home to this beautiful bouquet from Boy's parents from our favorite florist.

But you want to know who the contest winner is and what was in the mystery box, right? No one guessed correctly, which I attribute to my somewhat misleading clue #2. Yes, I ordered from Spunky Eclectic but it was a special order so the item wasn't listed on Amy's website...

A new lazy kate! After taking a spinning class with Barb Parry, I realized that I was "fighting" with the lazy kate that came with my Victoria. This one has an adjustable brake so the angle is more convenient when plying and it still fits in my carrying bag. Now I can make 3-ply yarn!

I used to choose one of the 14 comments. The output was 10 and the 10th comment was Kathleen's. Congrats Kathleen! (I'll get your prize preferences via KR)

Thank you everyone for participating! (Anna, I really think you should mention to Louet your idea of a kit for making yarn lollipops for toddlers) Your guesses gave me ideas for future gifts and my birthday is not too far away...

March 22, 2010


Mystery box
Originally uploaded by miminh3
In one week, Boy and I are celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary for which the traditional gift theme is "wood". Of course, I asked for a knitting/spinning related present and it arrived today!

The contest is simple: leave a comment with your guess as to what's in the mystery box by Sunday, March 28 11:59pm EST.
Clue 1 - it is a Louet product
Clue 2 - it was bought from Amy at Spunky Eclectic

I will pick from the correct answers (if there's no correct answer, I will pick randomly) and send the winner a box of goodies based on his/her preferences.
- If you're a beginning spinner, I'll send you a Golding spindle and roving.
- If you're a knitter, I will dive in my stash to find yarn in your preferred color family and preferred weight (lace/fingering/sport/worsted).

Thanks for playing!

March 13, 2010

Défi 13 de mars: Croisière

La Novia scarf
Originally uploaded by miminh3

Hissez haut matelots! J'adore le thème de ce mois-ci parce que je vais partir en croisière au mois de mai. Pas n'importe quelle croisière non plus: une croisière en Alaska avec des cours de tricot! (cinq cours en tout, avec Donna Druchunas et Lucy Neatby)

Ma création est donc une écharpe pour me tenir chaud sur le pont, un merveilleux mélange de douceur (le fil est un mélange d'alpaca, soie, et de laine cormo de Foxfire fiber) et de vagues (modèle "La Novia" d'Anne Hanson). J'adore avoir des écharpes super longues, celle-ci mesure plus de 2m60! Grâce aux motifs de dentelle, elle n'est pas trop chaude.

Larguez les amarres et allez voir la galerie de mars!


I used two skeins of Foxfire Cormo/Silk/Alpaca in "bluebird" and alternated them when knitting -- I bought the skeins from Barb at two different events (silly me!) so they were from different dye lots but luckily, they were quite close in color. The yarn is quite warm so a lace pattern is great for showcasing the color without losing warmth.

This scarf is the sibling of the "Patricia's shawl" (pattern by Lisa Lloyd) I knitted a couple of years ago out of Foxfire Cormo/Silk. I realized that I never posted a picture of it so here it is!

February 28, 2010

Défi 13 de février: Blanc

Défi 13 de février: Blanc
Originally uploaded by

Ma création de février est un éloge à Clara Parkes. Les deux modèles sont extraits de son nouveau livre, The Knitter's Book of Wool et ont été tricotés avec la laine mérino organique de Swans Island.

J'ai suivi les conseils de Clara et tricoté les mitaines, "Sweet Fern Mitts", avec des aiguilles de 3.75mm. Pour le bonnet, "Hill Country Hat", j'ai utilisé des aiguilles de 4.5mm.

Verdict? Trente dollars pour une pelote de 230 mètres, ce n'est pas si cher si l'on considère les mailles presque parfaites, la douceur de la laine, et le fait qu'une pelote suffit pour un bonnet et une paire de mitaines.

Mille mercis à Emma, Faustine, Aurélie et Fred d'avoir tout organisé. Vite, je file voir les créations de tout le monde ICI!


Défi means "challenge" in French. 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 trying something outside of your comfort zone. Défi 13 is the sequel to Trico'13 which occurred in 2009 and only involved knitting. For Défi 13, you can either knit or sew. The theme for February was "white".

My February finished object is a tribute to Clara Parkes. The two patterns are taken from her new book, The Knitter's Book of Wool, and were knitted with Swans Island Organic Merino. I followed Clara's advice and knitted the Sweet Fern Mitts using US 5 needles. For the Hill Country Hat, I used US 7 needles.

My opinion? Thirty dollars for 250 yards is not so bad once you take into account the stitch definition, the softness of the yarn, and the fact that I was able to get a pair of mitts and a hat out of one skein. Many thanks to Emma, Faustine, Aurélie et Fred for organizing this. I'm off to look at everybody's finished projects HERE!

February 13, 2010

A typical weekend day

I finished the Fiddlehead mittens during the snow storm that never materialized while watching an episode of Foyle's War. These mittens are toasty and sinfully soft on the inside.

Today, I took the mittens for a little roadtrip. Actually, it wasn't so much a roadtrip as a typical weekend day for Boy and me during winter time. February is the best month for Boy to spot bald eagles and I come along on his birding trips on a simple condition: each birding trip must include a stop at a yarn store.

After meeting Shaili for brunch, the mittens walked around Harvard Square and visited the Old Burying Ground. We then headed to western MA to go birding at the Quabbin reservoir. We finished the day in Northampton at Webs (yarns and books were purchased, courtesy of a gift certificate from my in-laws).

Among my purchases was Gail Callahan's book Hand-Dyeing Yarn and Fleece. During Melissa's class at the KR retreat, I was able to see some of the gorgeous yarns and fibers that Gail (aka The Kangaroo Dyer) had generously donated. Gail happened to be in the store this afternoon, she was all smiles, and signed my copy of her book!

Unfortunately I'm not able to attend her dyeing class at Webs this spring. My schedule is also in conflict with the spring classes taught by Melissa Morgan-Oakes and Kristin Nicholas but I hope that their classes will be offered again in the fall. I don't know if I will hand-dye much in the future but it is something that I want to try at least once so I signed up for Barb Parry's two-day "Dyeing to Spin" class this summer. It promises to be a lot of fun!

February 04, 2010

Yarn shop travelogue: Paris

Originally uploaded by

You would think that having spent the first 20 years of my life in the Paris area, I would know the Parisian yarn shops like the back of my hand... Unfortunately I only really took to knitting after moving to the US so many of these shops remain unchartered territory. I do go back once a year so I hope to explore more locations. Until then, here are some stores that I am familiar with.

In the "most accessible" category, the winner is ... Phildar

Phildar is a yarn brand with many stores throughout France but it is also distributed in other countries. There are plenty of locations in the Paris area but the location I prefer is the one on the Rue Monge, as it is close to the Rue Mouffetard and the Jardin des Plantes.

They used to mostly carry blends containing acrylic (yet very nice to the touch) but started carrying natural fibres such as silk and cashmere in the last few years. Even though you can flip through the pattern catalogs and pet yarn at the store, I would recommend looking at their website before going to the physical store in order to narrow down choices.

In the "most diverse" category, the winner is ... Le Bon Marche

Le Bon Marche is a department store whose setup is reminiscent of Zola's "Au bonheur des dames": each yarn brand has its own counter, the counter's salesperson writes up a sales slip then you go to the cashier station to pay for your purchases. The advantage is that you get to see many brands in one spot (Anny Blatt, Rowan, Bouton D'Or, Noro, Plassard, Phildar,...). The drawback is that a given counter has a smaller selection than what the corresponding "brand store" would carry.

Warning: the counter of "La Droguerie" does not sell yarn except in a small number of kits. They do sell pattern books, ribbons, buttons, and all the supplies you need to make jewelry. If there's a line, write your name on the list and the salesperson will call your name when they're able to assist you. I've always had a very good experience there, especially when they helped me customize jewelry.

In the "eye-candy" category, the winner is ... Entree des fournisseurs

This gem carries fabric (such as Liberty), awesome haberdashery, and yarn. If you're like me and need time to shop, just send your traveling companions to one of the cafes at the Place des Vosges. The last time I was there, you couldn't pet the yarn to your heart's content unless a salesperson handed you the skein behind the counter. But the people are awfully nice, there's a nice selection of yarns (Fonty, Plassard, Anny Blatt, Debbie Bliss,...), and the store is just lovely.

In the "one-of-a-kind" category, the winner is ... La Droguerie

There are several La Droguerie stores in France and Japan. They sell their own yarns (available in a very wide range of colors) as well as buttons, ribbons, jewelry supplies, and fabric. Yarns are sold by weight, which means that you tell the salesperson which yarn, which colorway, and which quantity you want. Single patterns are only available with yarn purchase, but you can buy their pattern books without the yarn.

Let me explain the shopping process at the Paris store as it can be confusing for novices. If you want to buy yarn, wait in line on the left part of the store. If you want to buy beads, wait in line in the right part of the store. While you wait in line, you can look at the yarns or the knitted samples. This works much better as a two-person operation, provided you find a sympathetic non-knitter who can stand in line while you browse. Once it's your turn, tell the salesperson what you want and he/she will go in the back to wind the yarn for you.

If you want to minimize your wait time, don't come in November or December, avoid Saturdays, and come in the morning. Unfortunately, I don't really get to choose when I go there -- the last time I shopped there was on the first day of "les vacances de la Toussaint" and I waited for over an hour. But it's worth it! To make this experience as painless as possible, I recommend:
- looking at the yarns and colors posted on the blog
- browsing French blogs and Ravelry for patterns you might be interested in
- bringing Ann Budd's The Knitter's Handy Guide to Yarn Requirements so that you know how much yarn to buy if you don't have a specific pattern in mind

January 18, 2010

Road work ahead

The outer part of the Fiddlehead mittens is knitted, so it's time to weave in the ends... now I understand why Purlewe was working on weaving the ends of her multiple pairs of Fiddlehead mittens at the retreat! Tanis' kit includes merino yarn for the lining but I have two skeins of Rowan Kidsilk Haze in dark blue in my stash so I will use those for the lining. I have enough leftover yarn in the contrast and background colors that I can use them along with the unused lining yarn to knit a cute child hat.

My next project is a secret! I was sitting on the sidelines of Trico' 13 in 2009 but decided to join in the fun for Defi 13 in 2010.
- I'll have a finished object every month
- the monthly theme will force me to think outside the box
- I'll be able to connect with the French-speaking knit-bloggers that I've been admiring from afar and discover some new ones
The first theme is white and I've already chosen the yarn and the pattern. The secret project will be uncovered on February 28!

January 04, 2010

Yarn shop travelogue: Hawaii

To me, a trip to a new location requires a visit to the local yarn store. This might explain why I have been to 107 yarn stores so far!

I would like to record my impressions of some of these yarn stores on this blog. Keep in mind that my perspective is that of the travelling knitter who might want to pick up some souvenir yarn, rather than the local knitter who needs sweater quantities of yarn in various weights and fibers.

The first destination in this yarn shop travelogue is Hawaii where I just spent ten days. You might not associate Hawaii with knitting but I was able to stop by four yarn stores on three islands!

The Needlework Shop in Lahaina (Maui)
You will find knitting, cross-stitching, and quilting at this store. The yarn selection emphasizes bamboo and other non-wool fibers and was on the small size *but* there were lots of nice goodies such as project bags that are quilted by the shop staff. The store is located in downtown Lahaina; as a tourist would undoubtedly walk around in that area, it would be a shame not to visit this store.

I picked up a skein of merino wool by Maui Yarns (right skein in picture), one yard of batik fabric (background of picture) that I might ask Amy to use for a custom bag, and some turtle-shaped buttons made out of coconut.

The Yarn Basket in Hilo (Big Island)
Holy moley, this store has an inventory larger than many of the East Coast yarn stores I've been to! I'm pretty sure that you could find there a yarn that is not carried at your LYS (except if your LYS is Webs perhaps). I was especially impressed by the wool section and the sock yarn selection. Once the owner mentioned that some of her customers spend time on the mainland or have grandchildren on the mainland, her wool inventory made sense to me.

Before my trip, I realized that I would not be able to see the Hawaiian Homegrown Wool Company at the farmers' market but lo and behold, there was some of their Romney wool that is raised, handspun, and handdyed on the Big Island at the store (middle skein in picture).

Tink and Ink in Kailua-Kona (Big Island)
This yarn store just opened a few months ago but it already has a nice selection of Aslan Trends, Berroco, Blue Ridge Yarns (from Virginia), Freedom, Noro, etc... When I was there, the ladies were sampling the various Malabrigo yarns (the chunky yarn is so squishy) and talking about which ones to order. I bought some Freedom Sincere organic cotton, Blue Ridge alpaca lace, and a pair of oak DPN needles made in Hawaii.

Hanalei Music's Strings and Things in Hanalei (Kauai)
This is a store that combines musical instruments (ukeleles) and yarn -- how fun! The owner has excellent taste and was able to pack this space with a lot of yarns: Frabjous fibers (from Vermont), Aslan Trends, Artyarns, Berroco, Noro, and many many more. There are many beautiful pins, unique buttons and handles for knitted bags.

What caught my eye was a line of yarns that are handdyed in Kauai using botanical extracts. There was cotton and merino but I bought a skein of baby alpaca with silver thread dyed with hibiscus flowers (left skein in picture). It is sinfully soft and will make a gorgeous buttoned wrap with the matching coconut buttons I got there.

Well, that's it for my knitting adventures in Hawaii. Aloha and Mahalo!