Sunday, 26 May 2013

Fine Art

On Friday, my knitterly friend, Jennifer, and I attended the Textile Museum "More than Just a Yardage" sale in the city. It was much better organized this year than last but the yarn tent was still too narrow for optimum browsing. Basically we squeezed through, trading places with people as we went. I bought some handspun yarn, some Baby Ull and 5 skeins of sock yarn for $22.

 The other tent that had the stitching supplies and fabric was much bigger and I was able to pick up a pair of pinking shears, another scroll frame and a Q-snap frame - all for only $15 as well.

We then ventured upstairs where the books and magazines were and I found a couple of cross-stitch magazines, a cross-stitch pattern, 'Country Weekend Knits' and Gwen Steege's 'Knit Hats' - all for only $6. I could have spent the whole day looking at the magazines! For only 25 cents each, I likely would have brought a lot more of them home with me.
It all was a bit awkward to lug around (note to self: take a durable grocery bag with long handles next time) but we managed nicely.

We then headed over to Romni Wools by way of lunch at a shawarma place nearby. When we entered Romni, we were amazed at how organized and open the place was. Jonathon has done a lot to get rid of old stuff (i.e knitted items hanging by the door at the entrance) get everything so neat and tidy - very impressive.

These are some of the Cascade 220 Superwash colour choices.
And the regular Cascade 220 yarn. I wouldn't be surprised if they stocked every available colour.
This is part of the Noro wall.
They also carry a good quantity of Madelinetosh yarns.
This is part of the Rowan section,
and only part of the sock yarn area.
I should also mention there are good deals on their sale yarns in the basement. That area has also been tidied up and organized.

The spinning wheels are now on the main floor to the right as you enter the store. The fibre and cone yarns are still downstairs.

If you've never been to Romni Wools on Queen West in Toronto, I highly recommend you pay them a visit. They certainly would be most likely to have an appropriate yarn for any project you might undertake. Directions: Take the Queen streetcar west and get off at Palmerston. They're two doors west on the north side, #658.

While there, I picked up a bunch of knitting needles donated by Romni Wools for the upcoming World Wide Knit In Public Day at Windreach Farm on Wednesday, June 12. We very much appreciate the generous donation from Romni Wools.

I bought some Rowan Fine Art sock yarn in the Lapwing colourway.

I've already cast on a pair of Escher socks (from 'Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn') and have almost finished the first leg.
It's a very easy 2x2 ribbed pattern with 1x1 cables every 6 rows. The yarn is expensive $29.99 (!) but very luxurious with 45% wool, 20% mohair, 25% polyamide and 10% silk. It was manufactured in South Africa. Rowan yarns are definitely 'high end' yarns because they take great pains to find quality manufacturers, create beautiful designs and marketing strategies. There is also pattern support in "Fine Art Collection" with designs by Martin Storey, Marie Wallin, Gemma Atkinson and Lisa Richardson. I didn't buy it but it is definitely on my wish list.

I have continued to make progress on Spike.
I'm almost done this chart - 1 of 9.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Magnetic Nail Polish?

My fingernails are rather unsightly if not covered with nail polish. At the moment they're relatively long. Lately, I've been wearing Sally Hansen Magnetic nail colour. What??? Magnetic??
It appears that there are magnetic particles in the nail colour. There's a magnet in the removeable lid. After applying a base coat, apply a coat of the nail polish. Then apply a second coat on one nail and quickly hold the magnetic lid over the nail without actually touching the nail (and marring the nail finish) for about 10 seconds. The magnetic particles are attracted to the magnet hovering over them, creating light areas leaving darker areas. The result is a wavy pattern on the nail. Repeat this process for the rest of your nails. Then apply a clear top coat.

Sephora sells it for about $15 but I found the Sally Hansen nail colour (8 are available) for $9.99 at a discount store and at Marshalls for $5. The one pictured is the red shade but my favourite is the plum shade.

Even without using the magnet, the colour is quite lovely.

In stitcherly news - Spike on Tuesday...
Spike, today.

Tomorrow I'm heading into The Big City for the Textile Museum of Canada's "More than a Yardage" sale. We'll also tour the museum, eat lunch someplace interesting and yummy, and probably hit a yarn shop. I'd like to have a close-up look at the new Rowan sock yarn.

Monday, 20 May 2013

A New Stitching Project

Over the last few days I've been able to assemble all the necessary items to commence the next big stitching project I'm undertaking - Spike the Malachite Kingfisher.
I purchased the pattern, assembled the 60-odd colours of DMC floss, I ordered the mohair Wisper floss and dropped into Hedgehog Stitchery to select the fabric. I wanted a 32 count evenweave but didn't like the translucence of the linen. The Jobelan looked too shiny and to me, 'synthetic' so the perfect choice was Lugana.The Wisper floss will be used with one ply of a colour for the fuzzy feathers on Spike's chest.

It took some excavating to find my Needle-ease scroll bars. I haven't done a big cross-stitching project in about 9 years. I located a few items in the process, too! The fabric is a bit wider than the widest bar I have so I just folded back the edges that wouldn't be stitched to attach it to the twill tape on the bars.

After only a couple of nights, (including my favourite Sunday night PBS viewing) this is what I have done so far. That's 16 stitches to the inch, folks.
I started in the centre and am working on the first section above and to the right of the centre axis. It's his throat and shoulder. The finished dimensions of the stitching will be about 14" x 19" - much larger than this species 5 1/2" size.

I am trying to do as much of one colour as I can at a time and am using a highlighter to delineate areas that I've completed on photocopies of the 9-section chart. It will take me a while to complete but I'm well on my way.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Backyard Birding

The bird migration is on. With today's warmer weather, our feeder is receiving lots of guests today.

This morning there was a flock of at least 7 white-crowned sparrows.
Mrs. Cardinal stopped in next. My dirty window seems to have blurred things a bit.
Then came Mr. and Mrs. House Finch.
Mrs. Rose-breasted Grosbeak stopped in next but I didn't get a good photo of her. Could her 'husband' be far behind?

After lunch, Skip alerted me that Mr. Rose-breasted Grosbeak had indeed arrived.
We've never seen grosbeaks at our feeder before. And the only other time I've seen one was several years ago at Lynde Shores off Bayly.
That beak is really suited to cracking open nut shells.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Random Stuff

Last week got away from me. I have started going to the gym again. By the time I get up, have breakfast, get out the door, do the class, run errands on the way home and get home, half the day is shot.

Today I tried to attend my first ever AquaFit class. I got there in plenty of time only to learn the pool was closed of maintenance. Argh! Since I wasn't appropriately attired to work out (I only had my bathing suit on under my clothes), I came home an thought I'd finally take a couple of pictures and get a blog post in.

After being inspired by Alda, I did some cross-stitching last week. I completed the Peacock Feather Eyeglasses case project from the current Just Cross-Stitch magazine.
I used antique white Monaco cloth.
I'm going to make a zipped bag with the zipper along one of the long sides.

I have a couple of other cross-stitch UFOs that I could fairly easily complete in short order and will get at them.

I have knit a hat for my entry for the 2013 Brooklin Fair. I have not had very good experiences entering my hats/tams in the fair in previous years. However, I did see this pattern, the Arabesque hat, from the 2011 Interweave Knits Accessories issue, and was intrigued with the horizontal cable work.

I bought yarn at the Knitter's Frolic specifically for this project - Lady Slipper Alpacas 40% alpaca/ 40% wool/ 20% mohair in the olive colourway.
All wound up and ready to go.
I finished it last night during the PBS show, "Call the Midwife". The lower course of cables appear to run  h o r i z o n t a l l y.
My knitterly friends have suggested that I add a pom pom seeing as I've been beat out several times by hats with pom poms. LOL.

The new headboard for our old bed arrived a week or so ago. I had trouble getting a good photo but this gives you the idea.  There is definitely a 'scroll' theme going on.
The weather has been abnormally cold. The Big City even got a bit of snow yesterday! Our geraniums that have been brought in from the garden last fall, trimmed down to bare stems and nestled under the grow stand in the kitchen, are ready to go back out in the garden.

We'll definitely have to wait a couple of more weeks. The empty tray on the top right is where the cat likes to sleep in the afternoons. However in the mornings, he likes to loll in the sun in the east-facing window.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Online Knitting Magazines

Many publications are going the online route. Knitting publications are no exception. And some are only available online and not in print format. I'm going to touch on some of the ones I know about. By no means is this an extensive list nor have I reviewed them in any detail but you may find them interesting to peruse.

One of the most widely-known knitting emags is and KnittySpin which is a great resource for hand spinners. And they're free! It comes out about 4 times a year with a 'surprise' between each issue. The patterns are archived.

Twist Collective is a beautiful emag. Patterns range between $6 and $8 each. There are regular articles and features. It comes out about 6 times a year as well.

I just found this online knitting magazine, Skein Theory. It is published twice a year and the entire collection of 16 patterns can be purchased for $16 or individual patterns for $6.50. Check it out!

KnitCircus publishes weekly. Jaala Spiro also has a blog, podcast and a line of her hand-dyed yarn (including gradient yarns) on Etsy.

Clara Parkes publishes Knitter's Review weekly and keeps on top of all the current fibrey trends and upcoming events. She has reviews and articles. She is also featured with Eunny Jang on Knitting Daily TV.

Petite Purls offers free quality knitted patterns for children and is published 4 times a year.

Of course, several print knitting magazines have their online versions as well. If you want to save storage space and don't mind not having a print magazine in your hand, it makes sense to subscribe to digital versions of the magazines.

Such Talent!

Last week, Jennifer and I visited Alda at her home. Alda is a fellow embroidery guild  member who does exquisite stitchery. She invited us for tea and gave us a tour of her lovely home decorated with many of her stitched pieces as well as the doll houses and miniatures she likes to build and decorate. I took lots of photos with my iPhone. Unfortunately, some of the photos didn't turn out as well as if I had used my point and shoot camera.

As we came in the front door, we first saw a lovely collection of bird pieces.

This Malachite Hummingbird was definitely may favourite.
These two pieces are in another room.

Alda also likes animals - fauna

and flora.
There are some sweet pieces of little girls. It fit perfectly in this antique frame Alda had collected.
There are whimsical fairies.
And this colourful one of shoes.
This is the piece of embroidery that started it all.
Then there are the doll houses. Here is Alda with the first doll house she built and decorated.
It is on a turntable so it can be swiveled around.
I love the attention to detail. The chandelier lights up. It attaches to the ceiling with a magnet and has a teeny tiny switch.
Cross-stitch lends itself quite easily to miniaturization.
This wee Asian pillow was about 1 1/2" in diameter and was beautifully finished with gold cording all around the edge.
at the end of this chaise longue.
Here's a better shot of the bedroom and the chandelier.
There's a parrot in the garret!
This larger house was in another room. It was wired for electricity. It doesn't have a finished front and is only about 8" deep so it could be hung on a wall.
I love all the rugs Alda stitched.
This dining room had the table set for an elegant dinner.
The little cushions are about an inch across.
See the cute, wee dragon?
This house is in the same room.

Alda's granddaughter was free to decorate it any way she wished.
There were tons of presents under the Christmas trees.

See the cute, little laptop on the bed?
Back to her stitchery, there was one southwestern piece.
Alda also likes Asian and oriental-themed pieces.
This beautiful cushion is on a stool by the front door. I love the rich colours.
These are the primary works of art in Alda's beautiful home. Her furnishings are eclectic yet work together in each room. I love how she framed the stitched pieces. Alda is a collector of many things and often would stitch a piece to fit a particular antique frame she already had. What a great idea! One can always find inexpensive pictures in great frames at thrift shops and it's certainly not that difficult to stretch the stitchery.

After our tour, we enjoyed tea and treats. It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon. Thank you, Alda for sharing your passions with us.