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

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Leonard Cohen

I was sad to learn of the death of Leonard Cohen on November 7th. I feel like I've been listening to his songs forever. He wrote one of my all-time favorites, Hallelujah. Here he is singing it in his distinct style:

Hallelujah is a classic and has been covered many times by a wide range of singers, bands and orchestras. I particularly liked hearing former NHL hockey player, Claude Lemieux's version when he skated to the song on the Battle of Blades TV Show.  I wish he'd record it.

R.I.P. Leonard Cohen.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Mini-mitten #21

I'm one step closer to completing the Mini-Mitten Advent garland having just finished #21 of 24.


Pattern:  Advent Mini-Mitten Garland
by Kat Lewinski

Yarn:  All Jamieson & Smith:
White - #1, Dark Red - #9113
Red - #9097, Red/Pink - #9144

Needles:  US #1/2.25 mm - double points

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Joy of Color

I like to read knitting books and I've just finished a very good read, one that I give two thumbs up and will recommend it to anyone who is interested in knitting in color, particularly fair isle knitting.  The book is The Joy of Color by Janine Bajus.

The Joy of Color is a comprehensive workshop in designing your own fair isle sweater, from choosing your colors to swatching to charting to finishing and everything in between.  I found my fingers itching to cast on and swatch, and swatch again.

I've always chosen colors based on how they look when I group them together in my hands.  I think/know that I should do more from now on.  My current project is the Hairst Cardigan by Sandra Manson.  I have the plain knitting completed, chose a cobalt blue as my main color.  I haven't decided on the colors to use for the fair isle yoke but now I'll swatch first to see what will be the most pleasing.

 Each step of the process is very well explained with photos.  She helps the knitter who might get stalled and makes the suggestion that the knitter keep very good notes.  I've always believed in that.  As further inspiration, she has included pictures and descriptions of sweaters that were knitted by some of her students.  One day, I would very much like to take a class with her, in person.

I can't think of a thing that she left out of her amazing book.  I'm lucky enough to have traveled to Shetland twice and have been inspired by the yarn, designs, landscapes and the people.  The Joy of Color has enhanced my love of Shetland and all the beauty that I found there.

By the way, I learned that Janine is going to Shetland next year (trip is sold out, no surprise) and I look forward to seeing what she'll be knitting and teaching when she returns.

To sum it up, I love this book.  I've read every word and will read it again.

Update 11.07.2016:  Janine is holding a 3-day workshop in March and I've signed up!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Eye Candy Friday - Ally Pally Window

Click to enlarge.

Wouldn't this window at the Alexandra Palace in London look good as a knitted mandala?  How about a design for the yoke of a fair isle sweater?  The color combinations are also inspirational.   It's something that you could look at often and see something different each time.

Thanks to Col for sharing this lovely photo.

Monday, October 31, 2016


After eleven days in Shetland, the next stop was London to do some sightseeing.  It was totally a surprising, happy coincidence that the London Knitting & Stitching Show was on at the same time.  I'd often heard people talk about Ally Pally, named for the venue, Alexandra Palace, but never really expected to be there myself.

Click to enlarge
It was very busy on a Thursday and I can only imagine what it would be like on the coming weekend. There were a lot of booths for the sewers, quilters and felters, but I was more interested on the knitting booths.  Even Jamieson & Smith, from Shetland, was there.  

Rowan was quite busy with a small runway show and designer Dee Hardwicke showing off her beautiful afghan and offering her new book.  

A signed copy is now in my knitting library.  She was lovely to talk with and I couldn't resist the book, especially since it featured intarsia, one of my favorite techniques.

I showed incredible restraint in not buying much (I have a lovely yarn stash at home) despite the temptation of a pile of yarn, full bags, various brands and colors, most very tempting.  This was only one of the yarn mountains.  I resisted lying down and wallowing in all that yarn.

Check out the beautiful window in the venue.  The Jamieson & Smith booth is on the left.

After a few hours, it was time to say goodbye to the show, with hopes of returning one day.  I didn't see all of the knitting booths and would love to come back with more time to spend.

Me, Pam and Sue
Photo:  (c) Col.
We did visit other places in London, too, for example, Covent Garden:

The Victoria & Alberta Museum (V&A) is an incredible place worthy of another visit.

Harrods Department Store - unique, and expensive.  John Lewis Oxford Street - huge, with something for everyone.  I even had an impromptu chance to help one of the customers with her knitting, which I enjoyed very much (I love to teach).  Liberty London fabulous architecture and one-of-a-kind beautiful fabrics.  Incredible stores, all.

Since I've been to London before, I passed on the tour of the city...this time!

At the end of Thursday, after the Knitting & Stitching Show, was a trek to visit Loop London.  It's a fun shop with a nice variety of yarn over two floors.  We had hoped to knit with the locals on knit-night but there wasn't a seat available.  Here is our friend, Col, from the UK.  We were lucky enough to spend the day with him.

I spotted this scarf in Loop, obviously knitted on very tiny needles with a small gauge.  Someone in France knitted it and it was available to purchase, but there was no pattern available.  Perhaps one day I'll try to duplicate it.  The photo really doesn't do it justice.  It doesn't show just how tight those little stitches are, how pretty the colors are and how many different colors were used.  You have to see it to really appreciate it.

It's was an amazing almost-three-weeks and, like all good vacations, it went by too fast.  By the end I was ready to go home and wear something different for a while.  However, I'm already dreaming about possible future adventures and wondering what I'll do next.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Shetland Islands

I found this video on You Tube and for almost seven minutes I was back in Shetland.  I miss the place already.   It's busier than when I was there but I'm guessing it's because of the visiting cruise ship.

I suggest that you watch it in full screen mode.  Enjoy....


Hey, P....I think I saw Swatch!  :-)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

London Calling Socks

I've finished up another pair of socks.  I still have a couple of other socks on the needles and I plan to finish them soon, too (fingers crossed).  While I certainly did not need any more sock yarn, this colorway called to me while I was in London.  I figured that, if I was careful, I might be able to make a block for my Travel Afghan with part of the ball, make a pair of socks and maybe have a tiny bit left over to add into other projects.  I achieved it with no yarn remaining.

Normally I try to make my socks match each other but I thought that it might mean some yarn would be wasted.  I'll live with my mismatched socks...this time!  Actually, I'm quite pleased with the way they turned out.


Pattern:  My basic sock pattern
60 sts, K2 P2 ribbing for 12 rounds
Stocking stitch leg for 75 rounds
Short row heel
Stocking stitch leg for 50 rounds
Toe - close with Kitchener stitch

Size:  Lady's Medium
Color:  Mutek #5

Purchased at:  John Lewis, Oxford Street, London

Needles:  US #0 / 2.0 mm - double points

Ravelry project page:  Link

Saturday, October 22, 2016


I took a class in Shetland on the subject of Mood Boards and Color, and I was asked by a good friend to talk more about it.  I'm happy to do it, B.  This definition, found on Google, fits the class that I took:

A moodboard (sometimes called inspiration boards) is a type of poster design that may consist of images, text, and samples of objects in a composition of the choice of the moodboard creator. Designers and others use moodboards to develop their design concepts and to communicate to other members of the design team.

The first thing is to find your inspiration.  It can be something in nature, architecture, food, an advertisement, anything that speaks to you.  In class we went through magazines to find a picture that we particularly liked.  I chose a picture of berries that had been sprinkled with sugar in a pewter dish that was accented with a piece of fabric in a similar color.  All of this was on a black background. I liked that the colors were close in shade as it gave a sense of drama and richness.

Our next task was to identify all the colors we saw in the picture.  There really are more than you realize when you first look.  For example, on the rim of the dish there is a small spot of blue.  The dish is not just gray, but actually several shades, leaning towards off white in places.  And the many different colors of red/pink are there?  Same with the fabric.  The idea is to train your eye to see all the colors.  There were actually a couple more than you see in this picture: sand and mermaid.

At Joanna Hunter's (the instructor, a designer and owner of the Ninian store) request, Jamieson's gave her a ball of every color that they carry, which Joanna spread out on the floor for all to see well.

We looked for colors that matched those in our picture and wrapped them around a piece of cardstock.  You can also use colored pencils, paint, markers, whatever matches your colors.  I wrote down the name of each color so that I could locate it again later - spelling doesn't count, if you see the error!

From these many colors we chose five or six (or however many we thought we'd like to use in our knitting) that we particularly liked and that we thought we go together well.  We kept in mind the intensity of each color, which color we'd like to use the most and which ones would be best seen as a pop of color. After holding them together to assess them, changing some, adding others, we put them onto a little shade card.  I liked these colors together.  The second color, below, is Port Wine.  I mislabelled it and I blame it on the fact that it was near the end of the class and I wasn't paying enough attention to detail.

Joanna took our colors and matched them as closely as she was able into a computer program that had a design loaded already.  A number of variations were tried:  different backgrounds, where to put the "pop" color, etc. Ideally, we would then take the chart and knit a swatch, or several swatches, before making the final decision for our project, especially since the colors from the computer weren't an exact yarn match.

The process is time-consuming.  This took several hours, but it was constructive, especially if you're working commercially as Joanna is.  In the long run, it would save time and money.  I enjoyed looking through her book of moodboards and then seeing the finished garments in her shop.  It was like watching the creative process come alive.

It's one thing to tell you about the class.  This gives you some idea of one process for creating a moodboard, but there is nothing like actually taking a class and having the teacher guide you on each step.  I learned a lot from Joanna and seeing the moodboards made by others in the class was also inspiring.  I was distracted during the class from time to time, admiring the walls of yarn.  This is only some of it.  There is much more!

If you're ever in Shetland and this class is offered, I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Photos of Shetland - Part 4

One last look at Shetland with a some random photos.

If you've watched the TV show, Shetland, you may recognize this building.

Almost every morning a seagull was sitting outside the hotel room window.  I fed him cereal (it liked the Frosted Flakes!) and he (she?) seemed to like its treat a lot and didn't want to share with other seagulls who tried to grab a few flakes.  I named him Swatch.

I'm ready for Up Helly Aa.  This was taken during the Shetland Wool Week opening ceremonies.

This house in Lerwick is used as Jimmy Perez' house in the TV show Shetland.

From the room at the Lerwick Hotel - talk about a room with a view!

I took a class on color and creating a mood board.  Here is Joanna Hunter, the teacher and owner of Ninian, taking a photo of my mood board.  It was a really enjoyable class.

Wendy Inkster in her Burra Bears studio. Everyone we met, from visitors/knitters, to shop owners, to designers, to clerks, etc, etc,...EVERYONE, were so nice and friendly and always had time to talk.  I couldn't have felt more welcomed in Shetland.

It wasn't long until faces were familiar as we saw them time and again.  This included the Shetland knitting celebrities (Hazel, Donna, Ella), people I'd met a year ago in Shetland.  I finally got to meet Mary Jane Mucklestone.  We'd been in contact for a couple of years but had never met.  By the way, check out her books and designs.  She is very talented - she's wearing her Stopover sweater.

Very quickly, Shetland Wool Week was over and it was time to say goodbye to the beautiful landscape,

the Shetland ponies,

and the fields of sheep everywhere.

If you haven't been to Shetland I wholeheartedly recommend going, at any time of year, but Wool Week is the best for knitters,  The dates for next year have been posted:  September 23 to October 1, 2017.  Shetland is now one of my favorite places.  

Vacation wasn't over yet, however.  Next stop:  London and the Knitting & Stitching Show.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Mini-Mitten #20

It's time for me to get back to working on the Advent mini-mitten garland if I want to have them ready for December.  I have 4 left to knit.  Besides, it appears that Christmas is coming up quickly, or so it seems when you visit some stores.  I've seen a Christmas commercial on TV already too.  Have we passed Hallowe'en and Remembrance/Veteran's Day and I didn't notice?

I'll start mitten #21 this weekend, but first, here's the last one I've completed:


Pattern:  Advent Mini-Mitten Garland
by Kat Lewinski

Yarn:  All Jamieson & Smith:
Gray - #203. Red - #93, White - #1A

Needles:  US #1/2.25 mm - double points

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Photos of Shetland - Part 3

This time I'm sharing signs.

I found two signs in the ladies room at the Peerie Shop Cafe that I liked.  First, this whimsical poem:

Click on picture to enlarge.
And this instruction that gives good advice about turning on the cold water tap as well as the hot water.  I don't know if they meant "scald" or if "scold" is a Shetland term.

Scalloway Castle - don't forget to lock up the castle at the end of the day!

Large Shetland Wool Week sign on the side of Mareel:

How is a knitter to resist going into Jamieson & Smith with this welcome sign painted on the window?

In case of emergency, break glass?  This isn't a sign, but cute and humorous.  A pane of glass was missing in this phone box and someone hung a piece of knitted lace where the window should be.  The phone booth can be found near the Shetland Times Bookshop on Commercial Street.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Photos of Shetland - Part 2

Some of the shops:

Shetland Designer in Cunningsburgh - gorgeous knits of the highest quality.  A sweater and a pair of gloves will be following me home.

Shetland Times Bookshop - the place to find everything that's been printed about Shetland, and more. 

Jamieson & Smith Wool Store. In the part of the building, to the left of the picture, you can talk to  Oliver Henry who works sorting fleeces. 

Inside Jamieson & Smith - and this is only a fraction of the wool that they have. They will ship yarn to you.  Note the stack of gray bags to the left that are ready for mailing.  

Ella Gordon works in the shop.  Here she is wearing her Crofthoose vest.  The design was inspired by Canadian Cowichan sweaters and incorporates her signature Crofthoose design. 

A display of colorful knitting belts.

Gudrun Johnston was teaching a class when I visited.

On Commercial Street you can find Jamieson's Knitwear store - no connection to Jamieson & Smith. They have gorgeous wool, sweaters, coats and accessories. You can also visit the mill, take a tour and shop in the mill store.