Category: Gift

“This is the kind of thing you only see in fairy tales!” • DIY Yarn Swift

Just two months in and the dad of the year award goes to…

For Christmas I requested a ball winder, which I received from my mom. It does wonders, and I have spent hours re-caking floppy cakes. But, with the lack of yarn swift, winding new hanks was still quite the task. I found ways to do it, with upside down chairs and lazy susans, but obviously, it wasn’t ideal. My dad, who knows absolutely nothing about knitting saw my struggle, and took it upon himself to resolve the problem. That’s what dads do isn’t it?

One day, I came home from work and he said, “I made you a swift“. We both looked at each other for a moment- me, not fully grasping the idea that my dad knew what a swift was, and him wondering if he had called it the right thing. Turns out, he really did construct a fully-functioning yarn swift!

When I was little, I had a toy ironing board made of wood. Looking back, it was quite the gendered toy for a little girl to have, but I loved it. I had a wooden iron and would flatten out little handkerchiefs for my bears. Last summer, we did a massive house purge, and all the stashed childhood toys came out. While the rest of us were ready to be rid of the past, I think my dad struggled to let go of the memories of his little girls. He ended up hoarding some of the possessions we threw out, including the aforementioned ironing board.

As it turns out, ironing boards can be easily reconstructed into yarn swifts! What I love most is that what was once something I loved has now grown with me. I’m glad we didn’t throw it away. There are still a few minor kinks to work out, but aside from that, it does the trick! Any chance to make it yourself, upcycle, and save some money is awesome to me. One night, a friend visiting from Singapore commented, “This is the kind of thing you only see in fairy tales!”. Either yarn swifts aren’t as common as I think, or maybe my life is like a fairy tale. Either way, I’m not sorry!

You’re always my dad of the year, but this is pretty neat. Thanks, papa. <3

It’s Okay

This week’s post is just a short PSA that IT’S OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY.

Small business owners will say you should always be positive on your social media. However, I think it’s important to be real, and the reality is, we all have bad days. Heck, I’ve had bad months.

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Have Hope.

I went to a pop punk concert the other night and got this bracelet, made by an organization called Hope For The Day. They do great work in suicide prevention and mental health education. Over the years, I have learned to recognize and accept when I am not okay. I find solace in knitting and music, and that’s what gets me through. I k1p1 to the sound of screaming and banging on drums until I regain the mental energy to deal. It’s better to be open about it than to suffer in silence. Have hope that you’ll be able to ride out the bad and make it to better days.

As part of our effort to support those who are not okay, every item purchased = one item donated. If you’re not into that, it’s okay too.

The Taylor Mittens

Happy (BC) Family Day to my maker family! Hope you’re all enjoying yourselves whether you have the day off or not. Today’s post is dedicated to someone from another one of my families, namely, my work family. She has been so supportive of my craft, and her reactions to my projects remind me to value my work. Part of what makes my hobby so special is getting to keep my friends warm, so this project was incredibly pleasing. Hopefully I will get more opportunities to be part of collaborations like this one. For now I’ve just got these Taylor Mittens, named after Taylor, for Taylor.

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It all started one evening, while program planning for work. Taylor mentioned how cold her hands were. I offered her my Tree Mittens and they warmed her up almost immediately! By the end of the night she wanted a pair of her own. Since starting work with her, I’ve come to value her as a colleague and friend. Thus, making these for her also brought me a ton of warmth!

I’ve discovered a love of taking custom orders right down to the specific fibre type and colour. I let her describe exactly what she wanted her mittens to look like, and had the yarn dyed up by Kate at Fidley Dyeworks. Originally, I didn’t want to take custom orders because I wanted to create what I wanted. On the other hand, the collaboration and exchange of ideas is incredibly motivating. Even though there’s a chance I won’t be fully in support of someone else’s idea, it’s super cool to see what other people come up with. I have yet to come across a customer whose ideas I didn’t love!

The yarn was magical, as always. Knit up in a basic stockinette stitch, the speckles blend to give an almost watercolour-like effect. And every so often there was a little blue or orange speckle, which was a happy byproduct of the dye powder. Although Taylor had asked for a plain design (I guess she’s not into trees…), I decided to add a special cuff, to make them a true WWK design. It is double layered for warmth, and makes the yarn look extra snowy.

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And of course, she also asked for the finger holes. Apparently I’m not the only one that likes the convenience of not having to rip off my mittens to use my phone!

I’m unofficially calling these The Taylor Mittens. Have a look at the new “Custom Orders” section of the shop for details, and order something of your own!

A Weasley Sweater for DUUUKE

This is my buddy, Duke. Duke is a fox terrier with a goofy smile, skinny legs and a pointy bum! Duke loves cuddles and any kind of attention he can get. And although Duke came from Alberta where the snow piles high and the temperature drops low, Duke lives in the temperate weather of Vancouver, and he gets cold!

Back when I first started knitting, I made myself a Weasley sweater which turned out so well everyone else wanted one too. 3 sweaters later, we decided that our family dog Pepper should have one. I made my first dog sweater in the same style, and this became our family go-to for Christmas and family photos.

Years later, Pepper is no longer with us, but I now make friends with all the furbabies I encounter. I am grateful for all the people who are kind enough to share their furry friends with me. I received special commission to make a sweater for Duke, and I was happy to oblige!

When you don’t have a dog to model, but you do have a ceramic polar bear…

The quality of my work has much improved since my early knitting days. Better materials, better workmanship, better outcome. I got to work with hand-dyed merino wool (courtesy of Duke’s momma aka Fidley Dyeworks), and tried my hand at fairisle knitting. I even have fancy fabric tags with my logo on it now!

Duke is a lovely customer. He absolutely returns all the love and looks super handsome and cozy. He’s probably the fanciest doggo in the park.

 

Bonus: found this cute little video of Pepper wanting all the attention. This is what knitting with a dog was like <3

Fading into Fall

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?

Tie Dye Summers

Tie Dye Summers

In true crafter’s fashion, I have gotten distracted from all the plans I had and started a bunch of new projects. More on this to come, but first, the activity of the day is tie dye!

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I did my first tie dye project back in high school. Whilst perusing Pinterest I stumbled upon a neat glue-resist dying trick where you use white glue to draw out a design onto your shirt, then dye it and wash the glue off, leaving a design un-colored. I was excited to see that I actually managed to re-create the Pinterest idea, but I found tie dye far too unpredictable for my ocd-mind.

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Last summer, tie dye seemed to be the trend, so I hopped on the bandwagon again and did a few more tie dye projects with the fam.

This summer, it still seems quite fashionable, though I will admit as I get older I do feel more out of touch with today’s “youth”. I still wear my tie dye tops, and if someone decides I am “so last year”, I’d prefer to think that maybe I am just too cool to follow mainstream trends I wore tie dye after it was cool. I mean…as a knitter in her 20s I’m already pretty used to being an oddball in my generation.

I didn’t actually make more shirts for myself this year though. I had unfulfilled plans to tie dye some bedsheets, but in the mean time, mama bear needed some exercise shirts and the white ones she got were too transparent, so the only logical solution was to dye them! I used some darker colors and went for more simple designs, but it did give me an opportunity to try some sweet techniques other than the classic spiral.

The colors looked super vibrant while it was still wet and before it went through the machine wash cycle, but the final product still looks pretty cool! Will wait to see if we receive compliments from anyone in the neighborhood who spots her on her morning walk.

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With some of the extra dye I had, I also thought I’d see if I could die a skein of cotton yarn I had lying around. I think it worked! The color contrast didn’t quite come out the way it looked before rinsing, but it still looks pretty cool–kind of like acid wash denim. The true test will be when I actually knit it up into something.

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Phantom of the Papa

Phantom of the Papa

This post is late! Sorry! I had this post lined up for my usual Friday upload schedule but instead of writing about the show, I was at the show. Forgive me for the delay, but here’s what went down:

A few weeks ago I was in the car with my dad (we call him Papa) listening to the radio when an ad came on for the Phantom of the Opera at our local theatre. Immediately as the theme song started playing, he cranked up the volume and got super excited (which is quite out of character for my usually mild-mannered father). He asked if I wanted to go, so I said of course!

Normally if there’s a show in town, my sister and I are the ones to go. I just love the atmosphere of live performances! We got together and decided to get my dad tickets for his upcoming birthday. In addition to that, we wanted to present it to him in a funny way. My favorite thing about my dad is his sense of humor. He’s definitely the kind of dad to love a good dad joke. After failing to find a funny card in the store, I decided to make my own. I’m a huge fan of puns myself, so I found this process very enjoyable.

My sister and I thought it would be funny to put the mask from POTO onto his face as kind of a hint as to what his present is. As luck would have it, the most recent photo I have of him involves him holding a giant panda. The caption immediately came to mind: “Phantom of the Panda…Phantom of the Papa…Phantom of the Opera!”

He knew right away when he saw his face on the front of the card and chuckled. My dad has always been the provider of the family and he takes excellent care of us, so it’s nice to be able to do something nice for him.

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Not pictured: mom’s birthday present was that we took him out for dinner and a show so she could finally get some alone time to herself!

Disclaimer (so you don’t think we’re terrible daughters): We invited her to come, but if you knew anything about her, you’d know that going downtown is the last thing she’d want to do and getting husband-free time is such a luxury!

DIY Yarn Stamps

DIY Yarn Stamps

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I have been making toques to give away to the homeless as part of my charity project, The Sidewalk Sock Project. Since I began, I have branched out to make both socks AND hats because why not stay warm from head to toe?

I had piles of hats waiting to be stitched together and have their ends weaved in, and I finally got around to doing that and getting them washed. The next step was to figure out how to package them. At this point I realized that packaging hats isn’t as straightforward as socks. When you go to buy these kinds of hats at stores, they are always just laid out. I also wanted people to be able to look at the styles and sizes and maybe try them out at shelters. I believe that allowing them to have a choice gives a small sense of control, something they may be lacking in their everyday lives, so being folded and wrapped wasn’t ideal. I decided to design some tags that I could tie onto the hats, which also allowed me to write little messages or sign my name, making each one extra special.

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To do so, I asked my dad to cut me a couple of blocks of wood from his scraps. With one of them, I simply wrapped some yarn around and glued a button on the side. This created a cute yarn stripe pattern and a button stamp in one. I sketched out a ball of yarn with some knitting needles in them, and hot glued pieces of yarn to cover the lines. I glued this to the other block to stamp that design! (I’m particularly proud of that one…)

It took a little bit of trial and error and I’m really not sure how long they will hold up, but I was super happy with the results! From now on packaging will be simple and professional looking. I have made tons of extra tags for now. Guess it’s back to churning out hats!

Pocket Teddy in Action

Pocket Teddy in Action

Back in December, I made a tiny teddy bear for my cousin that he could take with him to work for moral support. The whole concept behind it was to create a little buddy that could join him on adventures and provide some emotional support for those rough days.

I like that idea of having a miniature stuffed companion that’s discrete and easy to take travelling. I think a lot of people would benefit from having a little extra comfort and assurance in their day to day lives–I know I would! I am currently working on designing my own little critters that may one day follow kids to school, or teens to university, or even adults to work. Having felt the burden of anxiety myself, I think anyone who has ever dreaded leaving the house would like a little buddy to go with them.

In the meantime however, here’s what pocket teddy has been up to.

15731669_10211014987626509_978390770_nHe travelled safely with a few friends over to California in time for Christmas.

17911064_10212100516404050_220519684_nHe sat in this pocket and went to work at the library.

18110754_10212194449512319_376450668_nAnd most recently, he was there to provide support in a Chinese (amateur) speech competition…in front of 400 guests!

Super pleased to see these photos and hear about how pocket teddy’s been helping out. This was the motivation I needed to seriously consider going further with my designs. I’m still trying to squeeze out whatever projects I can to make use of the cold weather we have left, but once summer rolls around, it will be all about the pocket critters!

West Coast Best Coast Socks

West Coast Best Coast Socks

A friend of mine from California casually asked if I could make him a pair of socks after seeing my last pair, and I obliged! I was happy to have the opportunity to try out some new patterns, particularly playing with different colors. I am finally getting to upload this post now that they have travelled down the coastline to their new home.

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The first pair I made was a navy and light grey (more like off-white) mix whereby I used one strand of each color to knit a waffle-knit sock. The result was a blizzard-esque textured sock, resembling Vancouver. Not to say that we get particularly stormy weather, but it gives a sort of rainy mountain wilderness vibe.IMG_20170319_114619

In contrast, the next pair I made exuded sunshiny beach vibes, illustrative of California! Yellow socks with blue stripes, with a gradient/Doppler kind of effect. It reminds me of waves getting closer together as they rush over the sand on a beach.

((Sidenote: I’m slightly bummed at the slight laddering effect that occurred along the side where I was changing colors and carrying up my yarn. There was a lot going on in terms of changing colors, preventing jogging, wrapping the colors around each other, and just the general tension maintenance when working socks on circular needles. I’m not sure at this point whether it comes with the territory or if I just did something wrong. Or perhaps I’m just being over-critical…))

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Finished putting together the details of my little package I’m going to send him. I love how everything came together in the end! I think my subconscious was inspired by bridging the gap between Vancouver and California. Crazy how the climate can be so different just a little farther down the coast. I love both of these places, so I love both of these socks!

West coast is the best coast.