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.