Saturday, June 28, 2008

Nooks for knitting continued

Next stop on our tour of god knitting spots in the city is...
Mercury is my all time favourite spot to knit in the city; I’ve spent many hours stitching and sipping away in this place. Mercury is an organic espresso bar in Leslieville (Queen st. East between Carlaw and Logan). At first glance you may think I've sent you to the wrong part of town, but one sip of merc. coffee and you'll be thanking me!

• Lighting: light in here is dim, so be sure to sit close to a window if you’re working with a dark colour. The location has large south and east facing windows that let a lot of light in, and a comfy little patio for those who prefer sunnier outdoor knitting.
• Music: another thing you should know about Mercury is that the folks their love music, and they know an awful lot about it! Music at Mercury is loud, but always good!
• People: Anyone and everyone who loves good organic coffee!
• Best for knitting: Socks! Mercury is a very busy place, where a large and complex project would take up too much space.

*also, who else on earth can pour your foam into hearts? (sometimes I get flowers too!)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Distracted from my Distraction

A few posts ago I mentioned a new sock that I'm working on...Ocean Toes? Well, its still on my needles, just the toe left to knit. Casbah has become my favourite sock yarn. Hands down. The combination of amazing Hand Maiden colourways and the softest, cushiest sock yarn ever is certainly a good one! This sock was preventing me from working on my June KAL project (Laminaria), and as I knit franticly away on this sock I slowly began to realize that its a little but snug passing over my ankle. There is a reasonable explanation for this; I knit the sock on a smaller needle than the pattern calls for (I didn't like the loose looking stitches!)
So I have cast aside this sock in order to avoid thinking about ripping it out and starting again.

Luckily I found something new to distract new skien of Misti handpainted lace!
The colour decision took me...a few days...but I finally decided on the calm greens and neutrals of Bar Harvor. Next distraction will of course be selecting a pattern to knit this yarn in. Any suggestions?

I have not completely abandoned my Laminaria, however, in fact I am really enjoying knitting this pattern. I'm about 8 rows into the first border chart, and its looking great! The border charts are more difficult than the center charts, because each lace row is different. I find that it takes me a 1/4 row to figure out the repeat, which slows me down considerably. Nonetheless, here it is. I am not quite half-way through my second skien of Malabrigo Lace, and am beginning to hope that I may be able to knit this shawl with just two skiens. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Next Stop...the Moon

Jet Fuel:

Located on Parliament in the heart of Cabbage Town, Jet Fuel is a café with attitude… and a lot of bike couriers (but who says there isn’t room for a few knitters in there too?) Its a big comfy space, with lots of seating, great music, cool people and a bare bones approach to coffee that has proven to be very successful, the coffee’s great people!

  • Lighting: Lighting is a bit dim in here, necessitated by the atmosphere of extreme cool. It is still quite knittable, and seats by the window provide perfect light!
  • Noise: Loud music and the guy behind the bar yelling out coffee orders
  • People: As I mentioned briefly above, Jet Fuel is a mecca for bike couriers. It also attracts hip cabbagetowners and any other folk who like their lattes served in tall glasses (this includes myself)
  • Best for knitting: Small projects. This is one busy coffee shop, and there isn’t too much room to spread out a big project.

Monday, June 23, 2008

knit in public...just a bit late

Inspired by knit in public day- which was last Saturday- I have gone on a hunt for good public spots to knit. I frequently knit in public; parks, coffee shops, bars and pretty much everywhere else. Since I have so much experience with public knitting, I thought that I'd share a few of the spots I've found with you. My plan is to post one a day for a week or so...until I run out of good spots. If you have a favourite public knitting spot, please let us know (I'm always on the lookout!).

So here goes...

Merchants of Green Coffee:
An excellent café, tucked away nicely just east of the DVP and north of Queen st. East. The Merchants started out selling fair trade green coffee beans to industrious home roasters and have more recently expanded into roasting for the public! This is good news for us, as their spacious old factory/loft location is now jam-packed with comfy seats, good vibes and the delicious smell of roasting coffee. They have some cats, a very smart parrot, and will be very happy to custom roast you a cup of your favourite beans. They also have some great classes and workshops on home roasting (though I wouldn't try to knit and roast at the same time)

• Lighting: light can be a little bit dim, as there is ivy covering most of the windows, but I was able to work on my ocean toe (sock) without any trouble
• People: Staff are extremely knowledgeable when it comes to growing, processing and consuming coffee, they’re also really nice.
• Best for knitting: Anything you want!

* I am told that I make a knitting face...I think that it has finally been captured on film

For those of you participating in out summer KAL, I hope that your lace is coming along well, I'm excited to see your progress! I have to confess, however, that progress on my Laminaria has slowed in favour of a new sock project. I cast on for Cat Bordhi's Ocean Toes just the other day, and can't seem to put it down. I'm nearly finished the first sock, and its looking great! Here is a pic from a few days ago...

...its grown considerably since then. I will post pictures of the finished sock very soon. Oh, and the yarn I am using (for those who are interested) is Casbah sock from Hand Maiden.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Misti Madness Days

Exciting news!

A new shipment of Misti Alpaca Handpaint Lace is in our store as I type these words! That’s right, the softest, fluffiest, and most beautiful skien of hand painted lace weight baby alpaca yarn is sitting on the desk right in front of me. (Can you tell I’m excited?).

Misti’s handpaints are dyed to the stitch to guarantee even distribution of colour, and no pooling. Each skein contains 800 meters of super soft 100% baby alpaca, that'll keep your fingers busy for a while to come!
Colours currently in stock are...

- Jazz
-Bar Harvor
-Blood Lines

Monday, June 16, 2008

Progress!. and lifelines.

I have found the needles, and cast on for the Swallowtail!  
so far, I'm not finding it too difficult... I have made a few mistakes, but i'm the kind of knitter who, unless the mistake is tragic, or, un-repairable, i just go on.  However, I am instituting the use of lifelines for the first time!  Previous shawls made by me have always failed, mostly because I screwed up at some point, usually at a good point in the movie, and was unable to salvage it.  and, because ripping out lace is really impossible, I'm using a lifeline now! 
Using a lifeline is easy!  here's a quick tutorial.

1.  I usually install the lifeline at the end of a lace repeat, so that it's easy to remember where i was.  Thread some smooth, thin waste yarn onto a tapestry needle and bring it through all the stitches. 
 2.  Once the yarn is through all the stitches, you have your lifeline.  Knit the next repeat fear free, and once you have finished, your lifeline will be a few rows up, like this:
 If you find that you've made a mistake, you can pull your knitting out, back to the lifeline, and then you will have a row of live stitches on the yarn ready to be put back on the needles.  

I usually move my lifeline up at the end of each repeat, after a purl row.  It only takes a minute or two to do this, and if you need it, you'll save yourself hours of grief, and possibly save your shawl too! 

My shawl and me will be at the Sheep tomorrow for the first meeting of the Summer Knitting Club... will we see you there? 

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Sorry folks, but the meeting for the Summer Knitting Club was always meant to be on Tuesday the 17th of June. As usual, I mixed up the dates; Thursday is our last Knitting For Newbies class before the summer break...still a little space left.

Hope to see you there...on Tuesday that is!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Lace Month Continued...

As the half-way point in June approaches, the time for our first Summer Knitting Club meeting approaches along with it. I hope that everyone is enjoying their projects (I certainly am!)
The meeting is scheduled for next Thursday Evening at the Store (2144 A Queen East) which is the 19th of June. We'll plan to start at 7:00 pm, and likely go until around 9:00. Even if you are not a member of the club, feel free to bring your knitting by and have a look at everyone's lace!

By now, I have knit all of the projects for June, so I'll be there to help anyone who's having trouble with their projects; watch out for NUPPS in the Swallowtail!

...And here's a quick update on my project...

Advanced: My Laminaria is coming along quite nicely! I am making the larger size, and it will be the biggest lace project that I have taken on to date. Currently, I am about half way through the blossom chart, and still on my first skein of Malabrigo Lace (hard to believe that I will need 3!). The only problem that I have encountered thus far is my own laziness; I tend to forget yarnovers. My solution to this problem is to look over every one of my lace rows, and count the yarnovers before I purl back. So far, this system has worked like an insurance policy, as long as I remember to count, the yarnovers are always in the right place!

I also have to mention that the yarn I am using is wonderful! Once the skein is unwound it swells up (a little but like those toys that grow when you put them into water...but without the water) Honestly. The picture at the top of this post is in focus, but the yarn is just so fluffy, soft and delicate that it looks all blurry. I am really enjoying using Malabrigo lace and would recommend it highly for any lace project!

Friday, June 6, 2008

I think I'm turning Japanese

I have always had a love of cute silly things. In fact I am completely driven by it; I go as far as to seriously dislike things that are not cute, or at least visually appealing in some way. I constantly select the impractical, useless and even dangerous items in life as my very favourite…just because they are pretty or cute. An excellent example of this problem I have happened just recently; while discussing furniture options for my new apartment I told my parents that I would prefer to sit on the floor with no couch or kitchen table than to have ugly ones. I meant it too!

Kyuuto are, a series of Japanese crafting books, that have recently been translated into English. I can guarantee to you that each page is jam-packed with over-the-top cuteness, the breed of cuteness that Japan has become quite notorious for producing. Whether it be Amigurumi, Lacy Crochet or Fuzzy Felted Friends, the Kyuuto series is sure to have you ooohing and squeeking as the Kyuuto-ness unfolds.

(Masterminded by Tomoko Takamori): This was the book that made me want to crochet, watch out knitters because it just might happen to you too! Amigurumi are cute little anthropomorphic creatures, and are quickly winning the hearts of knitters as well as the crochet savvy the world over. With patterns for all manner of animals from “American” lions to donkeys with bandannas to sheep (from the woolen planet?), these little creatures are fun and easy to make too. The patterns in Amigurumi are all single crochet and great for anyone who is new to crochet; my first crochet project was from this book!
Pictured above are my first crochet project, the "fuzzy bunny" in Mirasol Miski, and the "American Lion" in Cascade 220 and Nashua chunky Mohair!

LACY CROCHET(author: Shufu-To-Seikatsu Sha): A step up in skill level from Amigurumi is Lacy Crochet. The patterns in this book are mainly for household items such as coasters, pincushions, tissue box covers, pot holders and lacy trimmings. By far the cutest pattern in the book is for a beautiful pair of baby booties. Lacy Crochet has clear step-by-step instructions on each technique used in the book, with minimal text to accompany it, allowing for much clearer translation from Japanese into English

(author: Saori Yamazaki): For those who can’t crochet to save their lives, and I know a few of you, this book may be your way to get in on all this cuteness. All the projects in this book are felted from rovings, and they range from the definitive Japanese cell-phone dangler to bags, bowls, coasters and puppies! Again, this book offers detailed photo based instructions, allowing for easy translation into English.

A Lace confession...

So, I realise that June is lace month here at the Naked Sheep knitting club, so I've decided to give you all a little confession... I don't really like knitting lace!  (gasp!)  It's not that I can't do it, and I LOVE the way it looks when it's finished and all blocked up, but to be honest, I do 80% of my knitting while watching TV, and I just can't concentrate on the lace!  It's a lame excuse, I know, and really, since I love the way lace looks so much, I should just suck it up, and buy a few audiobooks or something.  

So, my choice for the June project is going to be a Swallowtail shawl.  However, I'm in the middle of a move right now, and ALL MY YARN (and needles!)  is packed, so I won't be casting on for a few days.  I'm going to make it out of Cascade 220, a worsted weight yarn, so that the shawl will (hopefully) be HUGE!  I'm picturing this shawl, completed, and hanging off the back of the loveseat in my living room.  

And just so you're all not left photo-less like this, here's a photo of the cardigan I recently completed!  It's made with Noro Silk Garden, and Cascade 220, and the pattern is the Retropolitan Sweater from Son of Stitch and Bitch... not just a book for guys! 
It's so soft, and lovely, I practically live in it these days! So, chances are good that if you come into the store, I'll be wearing it!
(it is, by the way, a perfect TV knitting project! I knit it while watching Buffy - season 5!)