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SO GREEN Tree Mittens

Early last year whilst perusing knitting stitch patterns and designs, I found a chart for a fairly simple tree design. I had wanted to incorporate it into a pair of socks for myself but chart work always left me confused and frustrated. I saved the link in hopes that one day I would find the determination to figure it out.

During this time, I discovered a knitting friend, Kate. Kate dyes yarn in her home and has, on occasion, asked for my suggestions for new colour ideas. She has since learned that my suggestion is almost always GREEN. We would have discussions about colour combinations and I would leave expecting to return to a beautiful new green skein with flashes of black and gold. Yet somehow, I was always met with a gorgeous but disappointingly not-green skein, with maybe a speckle or two of something kind of resembling green. For Christmas, I was surprised with a skein of single ply SW Merino, entirely covered in the most rich, semi-solid green you could imagine. It’s SO GREEN, every time I look at it I can just imagine Kate saying, “Are you happy now?!?” She even let me name it for her shop (Austen–a somewhat roundabout tribute to my “ah mah” (grandma). We have distance, language, and cultural barriers preventing us from interacting, however I feel connected to her through our mutual love of crafting. She doesn’t have an English name, but Austen is the name of a song that makes me think of her).

The gloriousness of this skein brought all the tree-inspiration back to me. I had since completed a pattern requiring chart work, so I felt much more prepared to tackle it again. Turns out this chart is not as daunting as it seemed a year ago. I instantly decided on mittens, because you can’t let such beautiful yarn hide inside your boots!

I decided to make them top-down, which is a first for me. I like this method way better as it allows me to try them on as I go, so they fit much more snugly on my hands than most mittens. I drafted up my own pattern for future reference because I have learned to write EVERYTHING down when making new projects.

The final product is so smooshy and so green, and the tree design suits the yarn perfectly. As an added bonus, I made little button holes over the index finger and thumb so they can peek through to use on my phone while I’m out in the cold! So typical of my generation, eh? I definitely would have reconsidered making/wearing mittens if this wasn’t an option.

You can find Kate and her yarns over at www.fidleydyeworks.com. Austen should be up there soon, and you can check out the now-sold-out colourway named after me!

Kate, if you’re reading this, I appreciate you so much! Thanks for thinking of me and finally getting over your green-shyness. (:

Hello? Everyone Still Here?

Happy New Year!

I’m back! Website-ing is hard, and it took me longer than I anticipated to get everything set up. I like to think I’m pretty good at technology but this is a whole new level of skill. So many times I just wished I could go back to simply knitting.

BUT, all the hard work has paid off! I’m ready to start 2018 off with a shop launch and new crafting goals. This website is full of new features beyond the blog now. I encourage you to click around on all the new tabs and links. The WWK shop is officially open with a few cozy knitted items available for purchase. 3 styles, 3 colours, only one of each! Treat yourself to something nice to start off the year, why don’cha?

I’ve also converted what was formerly known as The Sidewalk Sock Project into Winter’s Weather Knits Gives Back, in order to encompass more knitted gifts and incorporate my charity work into my sales. You can read about that on the WWKGB tab.

Other fun plans for the year include:

  • Tons of new pattern ideas waiting to be shared.
  • Fun new fibres to play with.
  • Collaborations with new maker friends.
  • More blog posts, including what you’ve missed over the last few months of 2017!

Social media links are at the bottom of all the pages so you can keep up with everything that’s in store for this year!

2018. Let’s go.

We’re Moving!

Sneaking in an extra post this week to share some exciting news…we’re moving!–to a new domain that is. Winter’s Weather Knits is taking the plunge to become a self-hosted official website. While wordpress has been a wonderful platform for weekly blogging, it’s time to pursue some greater things. Keep reading to the bottom to make sure you’re in the loop about what’s going to happen because we want you to come along!

For years I have considered making a business out of my craft but never seriously committed to it. Just the sound of calling it a business makes me uncomfortable because that’s not what I want it to be. I just want to share my craft with the world, and make things that people will love. Part of being able to do that is putting more time and effort into my craft, and updating my website so it’s easily accessible by everyone who wants to join the family. I want to sell my handmade items so people can have WWK in their homes to keep them warm, while providing me with the funds to make this possible.

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This is the farthest I have ever gotten in my attempt to branch out. I have invested a fair sum of my own income into materials to produce items to sell, including custom made fabric labels to attach onto my final products. This doesn’t even take into account the amount of my personal time I have spent trying to get this project up and running. The next step for me is to set up shop online, which means converting my little weekly blog into a full-fledged website.

That being said, the main reason for this post is to let my small but loyal following know I will be converting my wordpress blog into a self-hosted website in the upcoming weeks! I want to send a special bit of love out to everyone who has been reading, whether you’ve made it known to me or not. I am not particularly tech-savvy, and I’m finding this process incredibly overwhelming, but I’m optimistic that we’ll all come out on the other side of this bigger, better, and ready to handle the treacherous winter we’re supposed to have this year. Here’s what you need to know:

  • This site will be moving to a new domain name and getting a few new features including an online shop link
  • We may be offline for a little while, but rest assured we will be back and hopefully on a regular weekly posting schedule again soon
  • I’m going to try to bring those of you who are following my blog over with me, but we may get lost along the way. I would suggest you keep an eye on my Instagram page (@wintersweatherknits) for updates so we can stay connected (also for quality content haha)

See you on the flip side!

Buying a Baby Alpaca

Oh how I wish I was actually buying a live alpaca…unfortunately not…yet.

When I first started knitting, my first focus was different garment types. I learned basic concepts of socks, sweaters, mittens, scarves…and so on…

Then, I transitioned over to learning new stitch patterns. Among my favorites are diagonal basketweave, linen stitch, herringbone stitch, and broken seed stitch.

I also dabbled in a bit of colorwork–changing colors, carrying up yarn, intarsia…

My newest path of exploration is fibres! For a long time I only ever worked with acrylic. It was cheap and accessible, and simply, good enough for me. I didn’t see the need to spend tons of money, and acrylic was always easily accessible in a large variety. Until recently, I was always satisfied with what I was working with.

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I started investigating natural fibres when I established a place in the instagram knitting community. Among the huge selection of natural fibre vendors, We Are Knitters jumped out at me as a well-known, fairly commercial supplier of adorable and squishy yarn balls. WAK had very simple, pure fibres in beautiful contemporary colors, thus I was inclined to place an order with them. Even though their mainstay is sheep’s wool, it was their baby alpaca that really drew my attention. I did some online research about types of wool and from what I pulled apart from the scientific jargon, baby alpaca seems to have one of the lowest micron values, and that makes it softer and less likely to make you itch (hopefully…).

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Before committing to a purchase, I stopped by a LYS called 88 Stitches to see if they had any baby alpaca. They didn’t have anything specifically labelled, but the lady there did point me in the direction of some 100% superfine alpaca (which, if I remember correctly is just a slightly higher micron range). I fell in love with it almost instantly and since I’ve brought it home I haven’t been able to stop touching it. With that, I was ready to take the plunge with the WAK online store. I ordered a set of 10 skeins in 5 different colors.

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They are all so wonderfully squishy and cute! These are all going to be made into hats to sell (though I may snag one for myself), but now that I’ve had a feel of the good stuff, I’ll definitely be saving up to get a large quantity of the same color to make something for myself…a sweater perhaps?

My sister and I have definitely had a few semi-serious conversations about buying a herd of alpacas to raise in the countryside. We both have this desire to get away from the stress of the city and live a simpler life doing what we love. What a dream it would be to raise alpacas, shear them, make my own yarn, and knit with it.

In the mean time I’ll just be here fondling yarn balls…

Knitting in the Wild

I’ve started using the term “Knitting in the Wild” to refer to the times I knit outside of my workshop. I frequently bring my knitting and crochet projects around with me so that whenever I have some down time I can pull them out and stitch a couple of rows. In the past I have stuffed my skein, needles, and attached project into whatever bag I’m carrying amongst the smorgasbord of other items floating around. As I began to do this more and more, the need for a proper bag to contain my yarn became apparent.

I picked up a roll of cheap fabric and thought I would do up a simple bag to get me by. I hadn’t sewn in ages, and it definitely isn’t my strong-suit, but I wanted to give it a go anyway.

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A few seams, unpicked seams, and re-seamed seams later…I have a pouch! I’m super happy with the overall look and feel of it. There are many flaws in the detailing, and the finish isn’t quite as refined as I would have liked, but to any non-sewer who isn’t looking out for mistakes, it looks pretty decent. More importantly, it gets the job done.

Whether I’m sitting on the beach, or standing at the bus stop, the bag works like a dream.

Fast forward to last week, I opened the mailbox to discover a package with my name on it. Inside was this GORGEOUS, beautifully-made zippered pouch by a knitting guru and friend, Jenni (aka Lone Larch Designs)!

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She and I met over a year ago through completely unrelated circumstances, almost as if it was fated. Now, she’s somewhat of a knitting fairy godmother to me. She also makes these lovely project bags that roll over into baskets and zip up for travel. They are essentially the same bag that I made, but a million times better! We got to talking back at Knit City and she very briefly mentioned that she would send me one. After all the excitement of that weekend, I went back to my daily grind, and she went home to Alberta. Apparently back home, she sneakily got my address and surprised me with this bag I’ve been eyeing for months!

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The craftsmanship of this bag is incredible. The quality and thoughtfulness puts my bag to shame. I am very happy to now own two bags however, so I don’t have to continuously swap out WIPs when I pack to leave the house. Hers is also a fair bit larger, so I’ll be able to work on bigger projects, even on the go.

Every time I use this bag, it reminds me of how fortunate I feel to be part of this amazingly supportive community of crafters. I often encounter people eager to chat with me about my craft, and who want to share their experiences with their own hobbies. It makes the world seem far more friendly.

In true fairy godmother fashion, Jenni was actually the one who coaxed me out of my workshop and into the world of makers. And now, here I am–standing on the side of the road, bag slung around my wrist, knitting in the wild.

You can find more Lone Larch Designs here:

https://www.instagram.com/lonelarchdesigns/

https://www.ravelry.com/designers/lone-larch-designs

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/lonelarchdesigns?ref=pr_shop_more

Pender Cardigan (#wip pt. 2/3)

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This cardigan is working up much faster than I anticipated!

All of this past week, what got me through the day was knowing I was coming home to this project. Even after a long day of work, I somehow still had the brain capacity to decipher chart instructions.

I just got through the largest and what appears to be the most difficult part of the pattern, the back. Now I can see the cardigan coming together! I have just casted on the first sleeve, feeling much more confident about what I am doing.

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The design on the back of this pattern is just dreamy. Without planning it, my last row happened to fall on the point of the diamond, which absolutely thrills my OCD mind. I was also a little bit concerned about the stiffness of the swatch because of my gauge, but now that the piece is so large, it’s actually turned out to hold its shape with just enough squishiness.

Next up, the sleeves and collar!

Pender Cardigan (#wip pt. 1/3)

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I’ve been dreaming of this cardigan since the first photo I ever saw of it surfaced on Instagram. All the teasers and promotional pics really got me, and I anxiously awaited the pattern release at Knit City 2017.

The pattern was written over the summer by Lindsay of Standard Knits for the Hinterland Straits collection. Lindsay was one of the first local knitters I started following when I discovered the world of makers out there, so it seems fitting that her pattern be one of the first I ever buy and follow to a T. I’m notoriously bad at following other people’s patterns because I get so distracted by my own ideas and end up making alterations or creating my own design altogether. The amount of technical skill involved in this pattern forces me to stick to the instructions!

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So far I’ve already had to frog 2 pocket linings and half of a front panel because it took me THAT long to realize I was reading the charts wrong. I have avoided chart work through my entire knitting career, and every time I have attempted to learn, I gave up and managed to find some sort of written pattern instead. This time there is no escape. The second time through I already had an understanding of the concepts, so reading the charts became almost unnecessary, though now I can match the actual design to the chart to hopefully help me understand the rest of the cardigan. I should add that at this point I am only reading a 2 line chart… The learning curve is steep.

I have also had to frog another 8 rows or so because I missed a decrease in the pattern simply due to lack of attentiveness, and it took me awhile to realize why my stitch count wasn’t adding up.

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Now I’m back on track and will have an entire right front panel by the end of the day!

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Knit City 2017

Last weekend was my first ever Knit City!

It was basically your typical craft fair/marketplace with only fibre art related vendors. There were also tons of classes and lectures going on in other rooms. Unfortunately I didn’t get to attend any of those this year, but maybe Knit City 2018!

I’m no stranger to craft fairs, but I find that those tend to lack cohesiveness and community. By that I mean that because there are such a wide range of booths and craft types, you don’t interact with very many people who share your enthusiasm for something apart from the very general liking of art. The Knit City atmosphere was completely different from any similar event I’ve been to before. Right from the get-go you could see groups of people “squee”ing from excitement over a knitting pattern or yarn colour. Everyone was dressed up in colourful knits and rocking it. Strangers were approaching me to tell me they liked my shawl (some even reaching out to touch me). I knew other people attending the event, which also made the social aspect of the fair much more enjoyable. These people introduced me to more people, all of whom were ridiculously friendly and talented. All of our conversations started at 10 and escalated to 100 as we fangirled over the love of knitting. I’m pretty sure my eyes were wide open with delight the entire time I was in the building.

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I brought my sister along with me even though she’s not a crazy yarn lady like most of the people there. I paid for her entry so she got to have a 10 minute massage!

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As if things couldn’t get even more exciting, my sister (who was ever so generous as to come with me to a granny convention) won a gift bag at the raffle! Since she’s not a knitter, I got to take home most of the swag for myself, which included some beautiful natural wools, a pattern book, and a set of glittery EXTREME knitting needles. I also treated myself a little a bought a leather wrist-ruler (for the times I sit down to knit and don’t want to get up when I need to measure something) and 4 skeins of a merino alpaca worsted weight.

As we hopped around from booth to booth, I could feel the inspiration just welling up inside of me. New ideas came to mind, and I gained a sense of confidence that I could make things that people would want to buy. In the past week I’ve already spent tons of money in preparation for launching an online shop. I have seriously committed to doing it and there’s no turning back now!

What a great, adrenaline-filled day. Next up, Fibres West 2018!

The Stitch Marker Revelation

In my previous post about stitch markers, I thought I was so smart using paperclips to  mark my stitches. I was so genuinely happy with them. I didn’t know what it was like to have any better, so I was satisfied…until NOW.

First, I saw that other people had taken the colored paper clips and bent them into cool shapes that made them more user-friendly. This took me through a Pinterest wormhole of other hand-made stitch markers and I was blown away at how simple they were!

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I definitely had all the tools to make them, and it would only take a few minutes to put some together. I don’t know how I managed to overlook this concept before. With just a few jewelry tools and pendants, I have made new, super cute stitch markers that clip on or loop around the needles. They are so much more refined and leave minimal disruption when knitting or crocheting.

The clip-ons are just little hooks from charm bracelets or necklaces–these are perfect for crochet projects where you need to be able to open and close the marker, and for marking the front/back of a project piece (which I have just realized is incredibly helpful). The circular loops are made from earring hooks wrapped around a large knitting needle. These slip on and off when knitting rows/rounds, but I left the ends open in case I ever did need to pull it out in a pinch. To see if it would make a difference, I put hot glue at the tips of a couple of them thinking it might protect my knitting from sharp edges, though the other ones work fine without it.

I have since gone from being someone who prefers to count stitches and rows than to work around stitch markers, to someone who marks everything she possibly can! Based on my experience with them so far, here’s my verdict:

Pros:
  • Loops are nice and skinny, so they don’t interfere with the tension when knitting
  • Loops also fit in a nice range of needle sizes (up to ~6-7mm)
  • Leaving the loops open allow you to take them out at any time, but the gap is small enough that they won’t fall off
  • No problem with sharp edges getting caught in yarn
  • The clips are more refined-looking, with an easy to use mechanism
  • The clips are also really convenient to attach to bags…etc…until you need them if you’re knitting on the go
  • SO CUTE.
Cons:
  • The clips definitely look better than the loops, which look more “DIY”–if I really wanted to make them nice, I would have bought some actual circular loops instead of trying to curl them myself
  • Some of the smaller clips are difficult to hook on
  • Some of the clips may not fit around bulkier yarn (bigger ones are needed)
  • Heavier charms tend to tug on the stitches a bit, but nothing so severe it doesn’t work itself out when the marker is removed
  • HOW DO I CHOOSE WHICH ONE TO USE?
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The little stego is my favorite!

Nitty grittiness aside, I love them. They do the job, they look better than the paperclips I was using, and I didn’t have to spend a dime. All the materials came from old costume jewelry from when I was a tween, and my jewelry toolbox full of materials I would have used to make myself costume jewelry as a tween (but didn’t).

I was also going to try my hand at using air dry clay to make some charms, but that’s another project for another day. I definitely have more stitch markers than I need right now. Guess this means I either need to start more projects or one big complicated project. New sweater for winter maybe?

Fading into Fall

My last round of tie dye turned out so well I received a request for more! Mama bear came home with 4 new shirts and a couple of packs of dye, eager to see new colors and new designs.

This time, we had more autumnal colors–forest green, and scarlet red (mixed with black to make a deep magenta/maroon color). I was braver this time, mixing the dye quickly and dunking in the whole piece instead of carefully swishing it around.

When I opened them up to rinse, I was SO impressed with the designs, and particularly, the colors! They were deep and unique, unlike any box set of dye I’ve ever seen before.

I call that last one “I Killed a Man”. It cracks me up! All the others came out super peaceful looking, but the red bled out of it like a tragic murder scene.

Sadly, after it came out from the wash the colors had faded quite a bit. I’m a huge fan of deep colors, but the shades remained true, so it’s not too disappointing. The fade also helped mellow out the red so it’s less shocking.

With the little bit of green dye I had left over, I also decided to go back in with a second round of dye on that skein of cotton yarn I had from before and I am in LOVE with how it looks now. The subtle shades of green totally makes it look unique. Haven’t been able to decide what to make, but I’m super curious to see how it would knit up.

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With all my new knitted projects I’ve been unable to wear because of the heat, it’s nice to have some summer-y projects that I can wear into fall. The colors make them perfect for the summer-fall transition. Although the weather around here seems to have taken a sudden turn towards cold and rainy. Has summer suddenly ended?