Yarn & Paper – A New Shawl, and Pleasures of Crewel

Every Wednesday I share what I’m knitting (Yarn) and reading (Paper) this week. 

I have successfully found and purchased the buttons that were missing from last week‘s adorable booties, but I haven’t gone so far as to sew them on yet. Instead, I cast on something new. This is the very beginnings of Two, a reversible shawl with travelling slipped stitches that twine about each other on both sides of the fabric. The pattern creator, Amanda Schwabe, is a fellow member of the Ottawa Knitting Guild. I saw the shawl at a Guild meeting recently and knew it was the perfect pattern for this yarn. I bought these  two skeins of Lichen and Lace in Halifax last fall while on a road trip through the Maritimes. I had hoped to knit a Catkin shawl, but I must have written down the wrong yardage because the two skeins fall just a bit short of the requirements for that pattern. Luckily, Amanda’s Two is a bit more flexible in the yardage department. I’ve only knit a tiny corner but so far it’s looking great!

My Tamora Pierce binge-read continues unabated, but I decided I needed to break it up with a little non-fiction. Pleasures of Crewel is one of my grandmother’s crafting books that I kept after she passed away. That was nearly a decade ago now and I still haven’t cracked most of them. As part of my KonMari decluttering I resolved to actually read each one and then decide whether to keep them. Despite being published in 1972, I’ve discovered that many of the patterns in this books are quite timeless. The stitch instructions are easy to follow, and the first part of the book is full of good advice for a novel stitcher. Crewel work, for the uninitiated, is embroidery done with wool thread. I haven’t done any crewel work yet, but it is definitely on my list of crafts to try (right next to rug hooking!). I think I’m going to keep this book for the day when I need a new craft to try.

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Yarn & Paper – The Booties Get Button Loops, and the Binge Continues

Every Wednesday I share what I’m knitting (Yarn) and reading (Paper) this week. 

My Tamora Pierce binge continues; I’m 12 novels in with no sign of stopping. I’m currently on The Emperor Mage, the third book in The Immortals quartet. I’m not sure what sparked this overwhelming desire to read comforting fiction. We’ve finally had some hot weather here in Ottawa, so maybe it’s just that it feels like summer, and summer reading should be light and fun. Or it could be that I’m feeling a bit lonely lately, after coming home from family cottage time in the first half of July. Regardless, the only downside of this binge is that I’ve been indulging in some late-night reading sessions, so I’m not really getting enough sleep. Otherwise it is just a bit of mid-summer fun, and I’m enjoying it 🙂

I have finally finished the button loops on the Saartje’s Bootees, blasting through the last few not long after this photo was taken. They were quite finicky, especially since the buttons are different sizes and my yarn tails were a bit too short on the pink booties. I bought the buttons a couple of weeks ago, but only when I was taking this photo did I realize that I bought only one button per bootie. They very clearly require two buttons each. That’s what I get for buying buttons 15 minutes before the store closed. Hopefully they still have them in stock on the weekend. Although, now that I think about it, mismatched buttons might actually be even cuter….

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Yarn & Paper – Alanna the Lioness, and Seamed Booties

Every Wednesday I share what I’m knitting (Yarn) and reading (Paper) this week. 

Tamora Pierce is absolutely my favourite author, bar none. I own every single one of her books, a rare occurrence in my increasingly minimalist library. Her books have made it through so many rounds of decluttering they now take up nearly a third of my bookshelf! Pierce writes with a dry wit that I love, and her characters are realistic and engaging. Her female characters are strong and independent (and often the protagonists) and her male protagonists are clearly feminist. Her novels are set in a world with cultures clearly inspired by our own, with addition of magic and mythical creatures providing extra zest. These were the novels that inspired me as an adolescent, and now they are my “comfort food” in book form.

I’m not sure exactly what sparked my latest re-read of Pierce’s novels, but I’m certainly having fun binge-ing them week after week. I started with Pierce’s “Protector of the Small” quartet, and then I jumped back to her first quartet, “Song of the Lioness“. I just finished the fourth book and now I’m debating which series to re-read next. I re-read Pierce’s books every few years, and every time I get something new out of them. This time reading about all of these strong, fit lady knights has inspired me to start running again and even prompted me to sign up for an strength workout class. I always did have a secret wish to be as strong and powerful as Keladry of Mindelan 🙂

On the yarn front, I spent some time last week finishing the knitting and seaming up these darling little Saartje’s Bootees. Next I need to make button loops and sew on the adorable buttons I picked up at my local yarn store. Then it’s back to my usual vanilla socks, unless I’m inspired to cast on something new. You know, in between all the running and strength training. If I could just get the hang of knitting and running at the same time…

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Yarn & Paper – Cozy Mysteries, and Adorable Booties

Every Wednesday I share what I’m knitting (Yarn) and reading (Paper) this week. 

Last fall I read the entire Daisy Dalrymple series and loved it. I was so impatient for the next book that I read them completely out of order, just going with whatever was available at the library next. There is some continuity between the books, so recently I decided to re-read them in order. Carola Dunn does such a fantastic job of bringing 1920s England to life, and this series has quickly become my “comfort” reading. I actually listened to audiobooks for the first half of the series, but now I’m back to reading since the library doesn’t have the later books as audiobooks. The Bloody Tower is book #16 in the series.

After finishing my Fair Isle baby hat a few weeks ago I decided to use up the leftovers by making a pair of baby booties. They make adorable baby shower gifts and they are often designed with unusual construction. I’ve made Saartje’s Bootees before and enjoyed it, but I’d forgotten how much seaming and weaving in of ends there is. The booties mostly just look like odd shapes at the moment but I know they’ll be devastatingly cute once they are finished. Plus, it is gives me a good excuse to go on a button hunt!

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Yarn & Paper – Knitting Outside the Lines, and a Finished Sock

Every Wednesday I share what I’m knitting (Yarn) and reading (Paper) this week. 

I missed the Yarn & Paper post last week because I needed a little break from all the responsibilities and expectations of adult life. Most of those expectations are ones I’ve put on myself, but they still cause stress sometimes. The break was really helpful, and I’m looking forward to a more substantial one next week, when I’m taking some actual vacation time from work. I plan to sleep in. A lot.

Part of my mini-break was having a very relaxed weekend, which meant I got a lot of reading done. I curled up in my hanging chair with a big pot of tea and a stack of knitting books from my to-read shelf and just hung out for a couple hours each morning. Several of those books then moved to the donate” pile, but one book that I decided to keep is Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines, by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne. It’s an older book that I picked up for free at a Knitting Guild meeting sometime last year. I love the Mason-Dixon knitters’ writing style, and I immediately favourited about half a dozen patterns on Ravelry. I prefer digital patterns, so I only keep pattern books if I like the majority of the patterns.

I’m still sticking with just a couple of knitting projects as I try to finish up long-standing WIPs. I’m finishing up the toe of the first sock of this pair, and I love how the colourway knitted up. The pops of orange brighten up the dark red and green just the right amount. After this I’ll cast on the second sock and knit the leftovers from the first into hexipuffs for my ever-growing beekeeper’s quilt sock yarn blanket.

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Yarn & Paper – Shakespeare and Socks

Every Wednesday I share what I’m knitting (Yarn) and reading (Paper) this week. 

Now that I’ve finished the Fair Isle hat, I’m back to knitting on my trusty pair of vanilla socks. I’m getting close to the toe of the first sock, but I’m never sure exactly when to start the decreases. At first I was trying the sock on periodically to see if the foot is long enough, but that is a bit tricky while it is still on the needles. This morning I had the brilliant thought to just keep one sock of my latest finished pair in the bag with the socks-in-progress, so I can match the foot length to the finished sock. This should lead to fewer moments where I pull off my shoes in public to try on the sock-in-progress. This can only be a good thing.

I’m still making slow progress through The Shakespeare Encyclopedia by A.D. Cousins, reading a few pages at a time over breakfast. The first part of the book was background on Shakespeare and the time period he lived in, and the rest is an encyclopedia of his plays and poems. I’m most of the way through the Histories section, which has been fun since I didn’t know any of the history plays in detail before now. I went to see one of them, I think it was one of the Henry plays, at the Globe Theatre in London several years ago and absolutely loved it. Reading about them is making me want to plan another trip to London ASAP. Being a groundling at the Globe Theatre is an experience like nothing else.

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Yarn & Paper – Embracing Hygge, and a Finished Hat

Every Wednesday I share what I’m knitting (Yarn) and reading (Paper) this week. 

I can’t remember when I first heard about the Danish concept of “hygge“. It is a hard concept to define, being somewhat related to the English word “cosy”. The Wikipedia page calls it a “form of everyday togetherness”. It evokes candles and wool socks in winter, or warm drinks around a campfire on a summer evening. The more I read about hygge, the more I want to deliberately increase the level of hygge in my life. Close friends and family are an important part of hygge, and I’ve definitely enjoyed increasing my family and friends time recently. Of course, I’m always in favour of lighting a candle and making a cup of tea. I’ve become rather obsessed with hygge, putting four different books with hygge in the title on hold at the library. The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking was the first to become available. The book is very stylized, with beautiful photos, and writing that wanders over a variety of hygge-related topics and statistics. It is an enjoyable, light introduction to the concept of hygge but not quite as in-depth as I was hoping for. I’m also reading The Year of Living Danishly as an e-book. That book is by Helen Russell, an expat to Denmark from Britain, and I’m enjoying it immensely.

On the knitting front, I’ve finished the Fair Isle hat! I started it in 2015 so it was one of my oldest WIPs. I’m so glad to finally have it done, and I’m really pleased with how it came out, especially after the blocking. I charted all the designs myself, which was a fun exercise. I think I messed up something in the decrease section on the crown, although I’m not sure exactly what went wrong. It’s good enough to call it finished, anyway. On to the next hibernating project!

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