Niece and nephew knits

August 16th, 2015

wee Chickadee by Ysolda Teague
wee Chickadee by Ysolda Teague
Lancelot by Solenn Couix-Loarer
Lancelot by Solenn Couix-Loarer
My nephew Stellan was born in April, so naturally I’ve been amassing a slew of new-to-me little-person knit patterns. The first sweater I knit him was a Livingston pullover (not pictured), which remains my favourite baby pattern (along with the Umbilical Cord Hat from Stitch ‘n Bitch). For the winter, I’ve made him a wee slipped stitch sweater to go along with a wee colourwork cardi for his big sister, Sibella.

The green pullover is Lancelot by Solenn Couix-Loarer and from the notes on the project pages on Ravelry, it appears to have stumped a fair number of knitters. I think the pattern is correct, but the wording could be clearer around the markers. For the placket set up and neck shaping, the marker referred to in row 1 is the start of row marker. Other than that, it was all good and I’m really happy with the result.

Wee Chickadee is one of Ysolda Teague’s patterns, pictured top, and was an absolute joy to knit. The piece is knit flat; no steeking required for the stranded yoke. I used Jamieson & Smith 2 ply jumper weight, and I love the look of the oatmeal heather against the contrasting colours. And the buttons! My sister gave them to me years ago, and I think they’re the perfect fit. They’re walnut, and were made by the Prairie Knitters at the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market in Edmonton, Alberta.

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Ireland, land of sheep and wonderful woollens

July 10th, 2015
Sheep stand off in Co. Kerry

A sheep stand off in the Caha Mountains, along the N71 to Kenmare, Co. Kerry.

Sheep on the road

Sheep on the road at Moll’s Gap.

Moll's Gap

Moll’s Gap in Co. Kerry.


Woolly goodness at Avoca, 11-13 Suffolk Street, Dublin 2.

Knits at the Irish Design Shop

Knits at the Irish Design Shop – 41 Drury St, Dublin 2.

Kevin & Howlin

Kevin & Howlin, specialists in hand-woven Donegal tweed. The shop is at 31 Nassau Street, Dublin 2.


Barleycove, a beach near Crookhaven and Goleen in Co. Cork.

Burren Fine Wine and Food

Burren Fine Wine and Food, on Corkscrewhill Road in Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare.

Streedagh Strand

Seaweed specialist Prannie Rhatigan running across Streedagh Strand in Co. Sligo. That’s Benbulben – Ireland’s “Table Mountain” – in the distance.

Streedagh Strand

Sea pinks growing out of the rocks on Streedagh Strand, Co. Sligo.

Black mussels on Streedagh strand

Black mussels on Streedagh strand.

I spent an incredible seven nights in Ireland on a work trip in May. Although my focus was culinary (read my story on Irish farmhouse cheeses on the National Post), I did squeeze in a couple of woollen blankets for myself, and a failed trip to This Is Knit in Dublin (Note: don’t necessarily trust the opening hours listed on their website).

Hopefully a future trip to this wonderful land allows for visits to woollen mills – Avoca, Cushendale, Donegal, Foxford, and Kerry – and of course the Aran Islands. Fellow knitters will admire the work of Inis Meáin Knitting Company; building on a rich tradition of knitted fishermen’s garments born of necessity and practicality, now with a luxurious touch.

I covered 1,530 kilometres in Ireland; my tips for an Irish road trip, as well as a video and more photos are included in my story on Driving.


April 27th, 2015

Silver BeelineSilver Beeline

Beeline is a straight-forward, seamless knit from Heidi Kirrmaier. I’ve made it twice so far, so that says something about its knit- and wear-ability. The first was for me(!) in jade Merino wool, and the second for my sister in silver Galway Highland Heathers.

The eyelet details and shaping add interest while knitting the many inches of stockinette for the body. The pullover is worked top-down, with the neckband picked up to finish. Easy peasy!

[Ravelled here and here.]

Funchal Twisted Wrap

December 22nd, 2014

Funchal Fair Isle Twisted Wrap Funchal Fair Isle Twisted Wrap Funchal Fair Isle Twisted Wrap

This was a lot of fun to knit. I love stranded colourwork and I love Jamieson & Smith’s 100 per cent Shetland wool. Couldn’t go wrong with this pattern either: Kate Davies’ Funchal Moebius!

I did adapt it by adding a full twist rather than forming a Moebius strip as written. I also shortened it so it fits comfortably around the neck rather than shoulders.

The piece is knit in the round, as a tube, and then grafted together after the twist. Fun, fun, fun! I came across The Purl Bee’s video tutorial for Kitchener stitch, which I think is helpful if you haven’t grafted before, or need a refresher before diving in.

I hope you enjoy wearing it, Jane! And a very happy holiday to all!


Wee Ambrosia

November 23rd, 2014

Wee Ambrosia Wee Ambrosia Hood Wee Ambrosia Body

A tiny Christmas cardigan for my two-year-old niece – the pattern is Gudrun Johnston’s Wee Ambrosia. I didn’t make any modifications, and even used the recommended yarn. I’m a big fan of Quince & Co., and this is their aran-weight Osprey in Apricot. Let’s hear it for 100 per cent wool and Wovember!

I initially ordered some custom ceramic toggles but they ended up being too heavy; they really pulled on the fabric. I came across these cute fabric-covered penguin buttons on Etsy and think they’re perfect. My niece is partial to penguins.


Osprey Sylkie

November 9th, 2014

Sylkie Osprey

I love the texture of this cowl; Gudrun Johnston’s Sylkie pattern. I’ve made it before and will definitely be making it again. And, in honour of Wovember, this version is 100 per cent wool.

Two skeins of Quince & Co.’s Osprey yarn leave you with a cowl that will wrap twice, snugly. I expect after wearing it will stretch out slightly and be just right.


Ecclefechan Mitts

May 18th, 2014

Ecclefechan Mitts

The fabric of these mitts almost looks woven. I used a worsted spun, 100 per cent Shetland wool yarn from Jamieson & Smith’s Shetland Heritage line. The result is a soft fabric with a smooth finish.

Ecclefechan Mitts Ecclefechan Mitts

Kate Davies designed the pattern; an interpretation of traditional two-colour gloves made in Dentdale and the Scottish Borders. Ecclefechan, a Borders’ village, is on the map as the birthplace of satirist Thomas Carlyle, as well as for its butter tarts. If you need incentive, the pattern comes with a recipe!


Pure Qiviut Hat

April 18th, 2014

100 per cent qiviut hat

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.

100 per cent qiviut

100 per cent qiviut hat

Some sources for qiviut yarn:


Newfoundland Trigger Finger Mittens

January 11th, 2014

Newfoundland Trigger Finger Mittens

Newfoundland Trigger Finger Mittens

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)

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.

Newfoundland Trigger Finger Mittens


Tortoise and Hare Gauntlets

October 30th, 2013

Tortoise and Hare Gauntlets

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.

Tortoise and Hare Gauntlets

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!