Sunday, January 8, 2017


Last year a good friend and fabulous knitter passed away.  Shortly afterwards some of the knitting buddies were asked if we'd help to sort out her knitting room.  We were sad, but happy to be of help.  A knitting project, still on the needles was this fair isle project, likely a design by Alice Starmore, as some of our group had participated in a Starmore knitalong.

Click to enlarge
We didn't know what to do with this beautiful piece of knitting and we didn't want to throw it out.  I had traveled to Shetland in September 2015 with another friend, P., and had learned about Burra Bears.  Wendy Inkster, the owner of the Burra Bears Studio, takes knitted pieces and repurposes them.  Some are old, loved, sweaters that are no longer worn, for example.  P. suggested that we contact Wendy to see if there was enough fabric to create a bear.  Fortunately, there was enough for a small one.

The knitted piece was mailed off to Wendy with the promise that we'd pick it up when we traveled back to Shetland for Wool Week in September, 2016.  The drive from Lerwick to Burra is beautiful and we had the added anticipation of seeing how the little bear turned out.  We were warmly greeted by Wendy and she showed us her workroom.  It's a gorgeous location, attached to her house, where she can look out at the water and fields through the window.

Aside from the custom orders, Wendy finds old sweaters in charity shops and also has some lengths of fairisle fabric knitted up.  The one, below, is in traditional Shetland colors and patterns.  Burra Bears can be found in some of the shops in Shetland, and I saw one in the gift shop on the ferry from Aberdeen to Lerwick.

When we saw the bear, it was love at first sight.  Wendy had done such a wonderful job with the bit of knitting that we'd sent.  The little bear was so cute!  We were asked if we'd like to give the bear a name.  Our friend had an expression when she saw one of our projects and she particularly liked it.  She would say, "Isn't that preshie" (precious)!  So, the bear now has a name, Preshie.

A month later, Preshie was in her little carry bag (with a mesh front so that she could breathe) and the knitters met our friend's hubby for dinner and we gave the bear to him as a remembrance.  He loved it.

If you have a wool sweater and you want to preserve it for whatever reason, or if you just want a Burra Bear, I suggest that you contact Burra Bears.  I can't say enough good things about Wendy and her company.

Sunday, January 1, 2017


I hope that 2017 will be a good year for you.  At this time of year I find myself looking back as well as forward.  There were some bad/sad things:  2 surgeries and other health issues - but compared to what a lot of people are going through, they were minor, but they were mine, and there were deaths of 2 people I knew for years.

On the positive side of things I went on a marvelous trip to Shetland Wool Week and time in London, including the Knitting & Stitching Show.  I'm grateful that my daughter and her family live close by and we get together from time time.  And...I went to Denver to hang out with my buddies - and also saw the Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert, something I've wanted to do for a few years.

I wonder what is ahead in the coming year.  Hopefully some good things.  I'm excited about a 3-day workshop on Fair Isle knitting with Janine Bajus in Berkeley, CA.  She is the author of the excellent book, Joy of Color.  I am seriously enamored of fair isle knitting and can't seem to get enough. You can read more about Janine's book here.

Later that same month I've decided to check out the Vogue Knitting Live event in Las Vegas.  Las Vegas is an easy trip from Calgary and it was too good to pass up.  The classes and vendors haven't been announced yet, but the venue looks amazing.  As on many trips I'm looking forward to knitting with new people, learning from them and enjoying their company.

And, of course, no year would be complete without a trip to Denver.  I'll be heading south in June, timing the trip to coincide with the Estes Park Wool Festival.  I haven't been there in a number of years and it's time for a return.  You can't ask for a prettier location up in the Rockies.  Besides, I always run into many people that I know and it's fun to catch up.

Knitting-wise, there is the usual "I must finish my projects and knit from my stash".  We'll see how that goes!

I wish you all a very Happy 2017.  May it be your best year yet.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Friday, December 23, 2016

Advent Mini-Mittens - The Finale

The final mitten is finished and I'm reasonably happy with it.  I might add a little pompom to the top of Santa's hat at a later date.  I probably should have used white for the background color so that Santa's beard was white, but I can live with a Santa with a gray beard!


Pattern:  Advent Mini-Mitten Garland
by Kat Lewinski

Needles:  US #1 / 2.25 mm

Yarn:  Red - Unknown, no label 
Light Gray - The Scottish Collection (Jamieson’s?) - Silver
Sand (flesh color) - Jamieson’s - #183
White - Jamieson & Smith - #1 (two short lengths, doubled, for Santa’s pompom)
Black - Jamieson & Smith - #77

The mittens are all hung on the wall with care...
Click to enlarge

I had the mittens on my wall at work until the 22nd and then brought them home and hung them up, using a couple of existing nails in the wall.  Next year, I'll likely put up the line with less droop.  To the observant:  yes, I did run out of the little clothespins and used red and green binder clips and paperclips.  I'll shop for more clothespins for next year.

At any rate, I'm happy with the little mittens and very glad that I joined in the knitalong.  It's been a long project - more than a year from start to finish - but now I'll have the garland for years to come.

Christmas knitting, 2016, is now officially finished!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

First Day of Winter

After today the days will start getting longer again.  I like that.  In the meantime, I'm working on some warm winter projects, working on some things that are already on the needles and looking forward to starting something new in January.  I've already decided to take part in two knitalongs (KAL).  The Jamieson & Smith Fire Festival knitalong has already started but I haven't decided what to make yet.  It runs until March 20th.  Check out these pictures on Pinterest.

The other KAL is the Fair Isle Kep (cap).  It starts on January 9th.  I'm still deciding on colors, but getting closer.

I hope that you're enjoying your winter knitting.  Stay warm if you're in a frozen place!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Advent Mini-Mitten #23

I have now finished all 24 of the mini-mittens but I have yet to take a picture of the last one.  Here's #23:


Pattern:  Advent Mini-Mitten Garland
by Kat Lewinski

Yarn: Brown (trim) - Unknown, no label 
Jamieson & Smith: 
Brown (reindeer) - #78MIX, White - #1, Red - #1403

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Love / Hate

I have each of the monthly sock yarns (lightweight) from The Loopy Ewe, dyed by Socks That Rock for 2016 - except for December which isn't out yet.  I love the yarn and the colors, which are dyed to match notecards with photographs from Paul Berger.

My plan is to knit a pair of socks each month during 2017 using the yarn colorways from 2016.  That is, in January 2017 I'll knit socks with the yarn from January 2016.  First up is "Frozen Valley", above.

What I don't like at all is that the skein is larger in circumference than my swift.  I can place it around the swift but it's so loose that it's destined to fall off.  The first skein that I wound was a total mess and I spent countless hours untangling it and then rewinding it.

This time, I thought that if I turned the wool winder very slowly that I'd be able to control the skein.  Wrong.  I got it done partway, but then it fell off again.  This is what I ended up with:

I still have 10 more skeins to wind, but I don't have to do them now.  For now, I must run along and say some bad words that will keep me on Santa's Naughty List.  And then, I'll be busy washing my mouth out with soap.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Christmas Knitting

I wonder how many knitters (and other craft people) are diligently trying to finish up projects in time for Christmas.  I know that I am.  Last year I started the Advent Mini-Mitten Garland.  I had started quite late in the year and there was no way I'd be ready to start hanging mittens by the first of December.  Throughout this year I've been leisurely knitting the remaining mittens, but now, it's suddenly just over two weeks until Christmas and I'm not finished.

I can't (mustn't) procrastinate this year as I've already started hanging the mittens up on my wall at work.  Besides, I like this project a lot and I want to wrap it up and see all of the mittens hanging up.

This shows what #22 looked like a couple of days ago:

Since then, the thumb has been knitted, the ends all woven in and the mitten has been blocked.  This was my least favorite one of the 24, mostly because there were some rows in which you were carrying 3 colors.  I've also finished the next mini-mitten, #23, and I like it.  As I'm writing this, it's being blocked.  One more to go.... it's Santa, and then the entire project will be finished.

Here is what the finished mitten #22 looks like now.


Pattern:  Advent Mini-Mitten Garland
by Kat Lewinski

Yarn:  Red - unknown - no label
Jamieson & Smith:  
Pale green - #FC24MIX, Bright Christmas green - #79, White - #1

Needles:  US #1/2.25 mm - double points

Notes:  I think that #79 might be discontinued as I found it in a sale basket at Jamieson & Smith and I don't see this color on their website.

To help with weaving in the ends at the top of the mitten I used a technique that I learned from my Mother.  I put a light bulb in the mitt so that it would hold its shape and lie flat.  For this size I found that a small appliance bulb was the best fit.  My Mom used to employ this technique when she darned socks.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Happy Saturday

It's a cold and snowy day here in Calgary - a good day for knitting, after the snowball fight, of course!

Click to enlarge.

Sunday, December 4, 2016