April 18th, 2014
Lightweight and oh, so soft, 100 per cent qiviut is wonderful to knit with. Not to mention warm; it’s eight times warmer than sheep’s wool. I have knit with qiviut before, blended with Merino wool and silk, but this was a new experience. What you see here is undyed qiviut, so 100 per cent natural colour as well.
Qiviut is musk oxen fleece, and it feels more like cashmere than anything else. Most musk oxen live in the Canadian Arctic and Greenland but they were recently reintroduced to Alaska, where they’re farmed. I came across this video from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, showing how qiviut is harvested in a farming environment. Shedding takes place naturally on the tundra but here the qiviut is combed out in a synchronous shed that looks like a blanket.
Some sources for qiviut yarn:
January 11th, 2014
Three fingers are kept together for warmth, while the index or ‘trigger’ finger and thumb are separated in these traditional mittens from Newfoundland and Labrador. I first came across the concept at a 2011 David Blackwood exhibition at the AGO in Toronto. Blackwood is a printmaker, known for his use of the intaglio technique where depressions are cut into a printing plate. He also works in woodcuts, paintings and drawings. I loved this etching, For Edgar Glover: The Splitting Table (Emma Butler Gallery), in particular.
For Edgar Glover: The Splitting Table by David Blackwood, 1999 (Emma Butler Gallery)
I’ve dug up a couple of patterns in the years since: Mrs. Martin’s Finger Mitts by Harriet Pardy Martin, which was published in Favorite Mittens by Robin Hansen; and the one I ultimately used to make these mitts for Chris, which is from Operation Homespun: Traditional knitting patterns of Newfoundland & Labrador.
October 30th, 2013
My brother asked me to make these gauntlets for a friend in Japan using Kate Davies’ Tortoise and Hare pattern. I’m a huge fan of Jamieson & Smith’s Shetland wool and had picked up four shades quite a while ago with this pattern in mind.
I initially knit the longer version, on larger needles and ended up with a gauntlet that stretched up to my elbow. So … I ripped it out and started again using smaller needles and fewer pattern repeats.
I love the look of the braiding after the ribbed cuff, and of course the tortoise and hare motif. After the sizing and gauge issues were figured out this was a very enjoyable knit. There will be more tortoises and hares in my future!
October 19th, 2013
I think the ceramic buttons are my favourite thing about this little cardi. They’re from karoArt’s Etsy store and were handmade in Ireland.
The pattern is seamless and a quick knit in a worsted weight yarn; I used Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash in royal purple. No problems to speak of – I’m a fan of Nadia Crétin-Léchenne’s sweet patterns for little ones. The sweater fits 12-18 months and only took one and a half balls of yarn.
August 4th, 2013
Meet Hayden the Vizsla. He’s a new addition to my cousin’s family, and a pretty cute one at that. I knit a little tweed kerchief to welcome him. As I tend to do with babies, I overestimated his size but I’m confident he’ll grow into it!
If you’d like to make one yourself, I used a ball of Rowan Felted Tweed DK and 3.5 mm (US 4) needles. This is more of an improvisation than a pattern, and I didn’t measure my gauge. What I did do was the following:
Cast on three stitches.
Slipping the first stitch, knit to the last stitch and then knit into the front and back of it (you’ve increased one stitch). Repeat this for every row until desired size is reached, then cast off loosely, weave in ends and block.
[Photos courtesy of Christopher]
June 29th, 2013
The absolute cuteness of baby knits has not worn off for me. After countless little hats and a few tiny sweaters, I still find myself inordinately delighted by how adorable they are.
This yellow tee is for my niece Sibella – she’ll be one in August! The yarn is Tern from Quince & Co., and it’s a blend of wool and silk.
The bit of silk makes for a nice, lightweight knit. The colourway, Buoy, is really quite muted, and there’s a slight variation in hue due to the differences in the way wool and silk being absorb dye.
The pattern is by Carrie Bostick Hoge, who has plenty of very sweet baby knits to choose from. In fact, one is named Sibella; a natural fit … maybe for birthday number two!
Wishing you a very happy Canada Day long weekend, and a happy Pride to all those in Toronto!
June 16th, 2013
More alpaca – this time hailing from Beneath the Sun Alpacas in St. Ann’s, Ontario. I have my cousin Paul to thank for hooking me up with this lovely, local yarn. It’s 80 per cent alpaca and 20 per cent Merino wool, and the alpacas’ names are Puff, Smoke and Malbec. Owner Genie told me that the sheep’s name is unknown. Ha.
The pattern is one I was contemplating for my niece – Cradle Me by Anne Hanson. Because of my gauge, the smallest size ended up measuring 48″ x 41.5″ – a nice-sized throw for my sister. The lace pattern is fun to work and easy to memorize. I’m thinking I might make an even larger version with some heavier-weight Ecological Wool that I have in my stash. Super cozy!
May 20th, 2013
Blue Moon Alpacas
I think his name is Biscuit
You may remember these guys from a post way back, on Blue Moon Alpacas in Stawell, Victoria. Just over three years ago we were in Australia on one of my favourite trips ever, and I picked up a bag of beautiful, natural grey DK-weight alpaca from Glenda as we passed through the Grampians.
The good news is I finally put it to use in Gudrun Johnston’s Hansel hap shawl pattern. The pattern calls for contrasting colours in the hap shell lace portion, which I initially tried with some stash alpaca in teal, mustard and white. I ended up ripping it out and sticking with a solid colour, mostly because the Blue Moon Alpacas yarn is so special and I wanted to really highlight it.
The yarn is glossy, soft and springy, and I left the tiniest bits of vegetable matter in the throw, so we can have more bits of Australia in our Toronto apartment.
April 20th, 2013
Photos: Christopher Lewis
My sister is rightly concerned that I’ll never pop this cardigan in the mail. I love it! I have some Cascade Ecological Wool in my stash that is now destined to be an Aidez for me. Since the pattern calls for a super bulky yarn, it was indeed a quick knit. I finished the majority of it on the train and plane a few weeks ago. It made for perfect travel knitting; the five different cable charts are easily memorized.
Detail of the trellis cable back panel
Detail of seed wishbone pattern on sleeves
The pattern is a free one from Cirilia Rose via Berroco. I used the 100 per cent wool yarn called for - Berroco Peruvia Quick in Fumar – which is a really lovely, soft yarn that results in a lightweight but warm fabric.
[Photos courtesy of Christopher]
March 29th, 2013
View from the back of the VIA Rail panoramic car – Qu’Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan
Stopped in Hornepayne, Ontario
En route to Saskatoon from Winnipeg
En route to Edmonton from Saskatoon
Chris and I travelled 4,466 km by train last week. It was a fantastic, frozen trip on VIA Rail’s Canadian route from Toronto to Vancouver. This could qualify as the best birthday present ever – thanks, Chris! We spent four nights on the train and saw plenty of wildlife along the way – mostly elk, deer, wild turkeys and foxes as the bears are still hibernating – and made stops in Hornepayne, Ontario, Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Jasper, Alberta. If you’re interested in seeing some more photos, I have a set on Flickr.
I did do some train knitting. Mostly finishing up a birthday vest for my dad (Dr. G’s Memory Vest by Kirsten Kapur), and starting a birthday cardigan for my sister. We met our new niece for the first time – she’s pretty darn cute, if I do say so! – and brought her this little bunny (Sophie by Ysolda Teague).
Photo by Christopher Lewis
[Ravelled: Cabled Vest and Sophie]