Thursday, June 26, 2014

What's On My Needles

Earlier in the week, a friend asked me "So, what's on your needles?" and it occurred to me that now I am no longer in the shop, it's not something I talk about NEARLY as much as I once did.

And you know what? 

I miss it.

So while I have never been a huge fan of posting my works in progress (because I am afraid that you might ask me about projects that I long ago abandoned and make me feel guilty about it...), I think it's about time that I started. Because heaven only knows... I could make this entire blog about nothing other than "what's on my needles", and have enough content to post every day for the next 14 years.

So without further ado, I present to you the project that has had my (almost) undivided attention for the last little while.


The pattern? It's called Soumak, and it's free on Ravelry. It was also published in Rowan 54, but it would appear as though a British lifestyle magazine included it in an issue, then made it free on the interwebs. I dig.

The yarn? Not what they called for... The pattern calls for Rowan Fine Tweed, and while it is stunning and beautiful and all of that good stuff... I opted to swap it out for some Rowan Felted Tweed in fairly comparable colours. (Or at least I think so!)

I actually started this project this past Winter when I needed some colour in my life in a very bad way, but tossed it aside in favour of... uhm, I'm not sure what. Other knitting? Other colours? But in the past week or two, I have put a major dent it in and made it well past the halfway point. (Pat on the back for me!)

So there you have it. Soumak is what has had my heart for the past week or so.

Oh, and strawberries. 

Local strawberries are my kind of heaven, so I am giving them all of the love and attention that they can possibly handle.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Blushing and Blooming

My good friend Becky and I met while I was attending university in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I walked into the flower shop she was managing at the time to see if they were hiring any students from Ontario who desperately wanted to stay out east for the summer- much like myself. I remember it like it was yesterday... She stood behind her work station, firing flowers into a vase like it was no big deal, all whilst 'interviewing me' at the same time.

As it turns out, not only was the arrangement that she was making simply breath taking, I also happened to get the job. By the end of my first shift, we had bonded over everything from terrible movies to even worse music, fabulous food and vintage clothing. In no time, a relationship much deeper than employee/manager was struck.

Fast forward nine years (WHAT!?!?!? Where does time go???), and we are both living in the Toronto area. I have moved to the 'burbs, and she has opened up her own flower studio in the wonderful west end of the city called Blush and Bloom.

And whoa baby. How absolutely proud I am of her!

She has done well for herself.

Like... VERY well.

Which should not come as a surprise to anyone who has had the privilege of working with her. She has most certainly got the mad bloom making skills to back her success up with.

A few weeks ago, she sent me a text that said "I am doing a wedding next week that just screams LYNN! Want to come help me out?"

While I can't say that I have much of an interest in pursuing a career in the flower world, I can admit to absolutely loving having worked at The Flower Shop with her, and continue to love flowers (not to mention Becky)- period.

However, I suspect that the photos of flowers and gardens that tend to wrap up each post on this here blog have likely tipped you off to that fact...

So, I marched down to her studio, and helped a sister out.

And since I found myself giddy with delight as a result of being surrounded by such beauty all day, I thought I would sneak a few snaps to share with you.

Coral and pink peonies, eh? I wonder why she thought I would dig this wedding? (NOT)

While I cannot offer you the address to a store front (she is by appointment only), should you know of a bride that needs some blooms, look no further. Or perhaps maybe it is you that is hosting a special event and is looking for some flowery expertise! Whatever the case may be...

This girl has got your number.

And each time we hang out and make something beautiful happen...

I am just oh-so glad that I have got hers.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Chevron Baby

On our last day in New York, I popped into Purl Soho for just oooooone last look, and I walked out with the yarn to whip up this baby blanket.

I'm not sure why, I don't really know how to happened... but it did. 

And you know what else happened?

I actually knit it.

Babies are happening all around me these days, and I think that it's best to be prepared. So why not start stock piling for when the next buddy of mine says "Guess what??? We're expecting!" 

While there really couldn't be such a thing as news more exciting than that... the fact of the matter is, I just don't always get around to knitting for their wee babes. 

So, this is my solution.

Get knitting... Long before conception even happens.

Now is that sneaky, or what?

I swapped out the gorgeous soft shades that Purl suggested for some brighter, slightly more stain resistant primaries, but everything else stayed the same.

The suggested yarn, the suggested number of stitches, the suggested needles. Yup. That's what I did.

Maybe kind of boring in a blog post... but it worked.

The pattern? A beautiful free-bee by Purl Soho themselves, which can be found right here.
The yarn? Blue Sky Alpaca Worsted Cotton, held double throughout in shades (from dark blue to dark orange) Jasper #636, Caribbean #630, Azul #628, Lemonade #608, Dandelion #638, Poppy #601, Pumpkin #622. The softness of this blanket is truly mind boggling.
The needles? 8mm Addi Click Long Lace. It was my first time using these puppies... and it's LOVE. Like... True love. Mad love. Deep love. If don't own a set, run- DON'T WALK!- to your nearest local yarn shop, and pick yourself up some. Just do it. TRUST ME.
Thoughts? So fast. And so soft. That's a win/win in my books!

Sorry... I should have straightened out the left edge before snapping this pic.
So, who knows where this little blanket will eventually end up...

All I do know is that from start to finish, this baby blanket really was just the sweetest little thing to churn through.

Magnolia Bakery, NYC

And we all know how I feel about 'sweets'.

Monday, June 16, 2014

SunIce, Ice, Baby

Historically, Mary's Yarns has always had a booth at the Knitter's Frolic, a weekend long event held at the Japanese Cultural Centre, which is chock full of fibre related vendors, classes and people. It's always a riot of a time, and while I come home from it more exhausted than anything else in the year... I always adore being there.

The knitters, the yarn, the old friends, the good times, it's a ball.

This year however, had a different tone to it for me. And not because of anything the show organizers did wrong... but because I knew what was lying ahead of me in the days that were to follow.

This year, the Frolic was held on Saturday, April 26th, and on Tuesday, April 29th, we let the world know what the future held for Mary's.

While I typically love to do a good walk through the show and chat with all of the other vendors whom I know and love, I opted not to this year. It felt sneaky to answer with "Everything is great thanks! How are things with you???" when they asked me the obligatory "How are things going?" question.

So, I kept to myself, and stayed safely tucked into the back end of our corner booth.

My good buddy Lynn. M was kind enough to join me for the duration of the show this year, and when there was a moment that it felt safe for her to slip out of the booth and have a browse, she did. Before she snuck out however, I handed her some cash and said "Please buy me the most neon sock yarn that you can find. I think that Regia makes some..." and man, oh man, did that girl ever DELIVER.

Matching neon socks- yeah... YOU HEARD ME!
I cast on that night and I simply couldn't stop. I didn't move from my couch the day that followed the Frolic and when the sun started to set on that Sunday, I had one sock completed, and the cuff of a second well on the way.

Something that I discovered throughout the closure of the shop, was that colour was my therapy. It always has been... that's no secret. But during what was such an emotional time, I found that I just had to knit very simple patterns, in very colourful yarn. So that explains my need for these socks- not to mention the recently painted pink spare bedroom in my house (but that's a story I shall save for another day...)

Regia Fluormania Color in shade #7188

These socks remind me of my first SunIce ski jacket that my mom bought me when it went on sale when I was a kid. I couldn't believe I could own something so cool... and it was in these shades exactly. Apparently, neon has always had a huge place in my heart, so thumbs up to my mom for letting me run with it, even when she was the one in charge of outfitting me.

And you know what? That was the warmest dang ski jacket I ever owned. A very good thing when living in this beautiful country that for whatever reason prides itself on it's never-ending winters.

Something tells me that these socks might be not much different than that jacket as far as keeping me warm is concerned.

Now if only that jacket still fit... I would find myself with a matching set.

As for who is going to wear these absolutely out of control socks, the recipient is little ol'  me- and for two reasons only.

1- I cast on in such a haze that evening, that I just went into auto-pilot mode and accidentally found myself with a pair in my size. Little thought was really put into it... but I am quite tickled with the end result.

2- I only know of one other person who might wear such insane-o neon socks, much like these ones.

Our peony bed before it POPPED this week

So it certainly is a good thing that I happened to give Lynn. M enough cash for two balls of neon sock yarn that day...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

We ♥ NYC

Some time before there were plans to close up the shop, my sister called me up and said " I have a credit with Porter airlines and my husband is all out of vacation time. Want to go to NYC for the May long weekend???"

Uhm. Yes please!

So, away we went.

And while I truly felt horrid about leaving my poor mom to deal with everything that was going down at Mary's, it did feel good to escape it all for a few days. 

Something that friends and family asked me while the shop was wrapping up was "Do you think that you're still going to love knitting as much as you do, once the store has closed down?"

And while my answer was always "Why of course! I certainly hope so! In fact... I hope even MORE so!", this trip was confirmation that being in a knitting store will always be my jam. Even if I don't have a key to the front door.

It is safe to say that the theme of this trip was 'Yarn Shops', and yarn shop, we did.

In fact... we even picked the hotel that we stayed in, based on the proximity to Purl Soho, a yarn shop that put itself on the map years ago with it's gorgeous website, projects and colour inspiration.

They got to know us at Purl. Like... for real, they did. We were in there literally five days in a row, and it amazed me that each and every day, something new would speak to me from the shelves. Something that I had completely over looked just a mere 15 hours prior. 

Pretty, pretty yarn at Purl Soho
Why this surprised me... I'm not entirely sure. Because if there is one thing I learned while at Mary's Yarns, it's that inspiration can strike at any time, and in the same space, over and over (AND OVER!) again, day after day.


But Purl wasn't the only yarn shop that we hit. We spent a day in Brooklyn, and managed to find our way into a sweet little spot called Brooklyn General, a place that I had caught wind of from listening to Voolenvine's podcast. VERY worth the trip over to Brooklyn if you are into trims, ribbons and of course... yarn. The people were friendly, the product worth a gander and the food surrounding the shop? Delish.

Brooklyn General

Case and point.

Brooklyn's version of a float, courtesy of Farmacie.

Now that's what I'm talking about...
And last but not least, we hit up The Loopy Mango, which I think that I can safely say is one of the 'loopiest' stores I have ever set foot in. They sell... EVERYTHING. You want it? They got it. Vintage tea pots? Yup. Moccasins? Yup. Antlers? Sure. Yarn? It's there.

Not your average yarn store...
But in our world of knitting, they are most famously known for their absolutely GIANT yarn and knitting needles.

I was tempted... SO tempted to pick a ball of this massively thick/massively soft yarn, but I refrained. Not an easy thing to do...

Using my sister for scale, I'm sure that we can all agree...
Those are some GIANT balls of yarn
But I guess that one must draw the line somewhere.

Le sigh...

So there you have it. A weekend in NYC with two yarn crazed sisters. We did well. VERY well. As in... we might have had to buy an extra bag to bring home our haul in. Er... I mean, I had to buy an extra bag. But that's OK.

The obligatory "Times Square Selfie"

If buying yarn is how I choose to cope with the closure of the shop, I'd argue that there are far worse ways.

Am I right?

Now, off I go to knit.

Findings at the Brooklyn Flea

I think I have some yarn that I need to use up.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Have You Ever?

Have you ever found yourself grafting the toe of a sock, only to realize that you have little, to no recollection of actually knitting said socks?



Well then...

Perhaps I should be worried.

Because that very thing just happened to me.

Yarn- Opal Petite Prince in shade 7762

And while I am quite sure that I should possibly be concerned about my lack of recall... I must admit that I am quite tickled to be able to already cross a Christmas gift off my list for 2014.

Being this organized isn't something that usually happens to me.

So when it does... I'm going to run with it.

Oh, bliss!

Even if I have no idea how it happened.