Sunday, April 05, 2020

Gnomes are Magical

I have a new obsession.  Well, not exactly new.  I've always been overly fond of the common garden gnome. The new part of it is the fact that I have started knitting gnomes.  I'm calling them my Indoor Garden Gnomes and I've got a healthy little collection started.

It all began back in February when, after months, maybe years, of seeing my friend knitting gnomes, I decided to take the plunge and do the Imagined Landscapes Mystery Gnome Knitalong.  I told you about that one in a previous post; how it actually brought a real joy of knitting back into my life.  I was actually excited to pick up the needles and it came naturally instead of feeling forced.

So Gnome Is Where You Hang Your Hat was my first gnome.  I love him and his sweet little pullover.  But once I finished I found that I'd enjoyed knitting him so much that I was a little sad it was over.   What's the best way to combat that?  Why, knit another gnome of course!  You just can't ignore the call of the gnome after all...

So I set to work on Here We Gnome Again, which I think is the cutest little cable-y gnome ever!  He knit up pretty quickly even with the cabled pattern.  He's a lovely little fella with a fancy beard and a bobble nose and I adore him!  Once finished he and his companion sat happily guarding my house plants.

But then every thing hit the fan in the world, and I was having trouble focusing on anything.  Impending school closures had been announced the Friday before, so work was absolute chaos on the Monday, then on Tuesday, both boys woke up in the morning sick with sore throats and colds. We had just had T at his ortho specialist appointment at the big hospital in the city two weeks earlier, so although I knew rationally that it was most likely just a run of the mill cold, I was incredibly stressed out.  It wasn't my finest moment of calm, rational thought, I can tell you that much!  I was in the end reassured by the fact that T spend countless times on the treadmill downstairs running for half an hour at a time as fast as he could because he set himself a goal that he "would become the fastest kid around" and within a day D's mild cold was gone and within three days there was no trace of sniffles, sore throat or cough from T either.

But on that Tuesday evening when I was slowly coming unglued over worry about the boys, stress about work that I wasn't at because I was home with the boys, but was trying to do as much from home as possible still and feeling guilty that I'd basically abandoned ship when things were so insane at the school, along with general anxiety about the pandemic, my husband had told me, "Go knit a gnome.  It'll help.  Gnomes fix all."

So I took his advice and cast on another.  While a gnome can't really fix all, they do offer a sense of order and calm to the mind and soul with their simple little patterns that can be done easily in small chunks of time.  This time I cast on Oh Gnome, You Didn't.

He's a fun little gnome that normally has a jester hat and a scarf, but the boys and I decided he need a beard instead of scarf.  And when I found the fiery yellow and orange ball of fun fur deep in my stash from sometime around 2003, I knew it was the perfect beard yarn for my St. Patrick's Day green gnome.  He might actually be my favourite... (Shhh.  Don't tell the others!) But would you look at how he has his little hands in his little pockets?  Love it.

My gnome collection was a good size, but I felt I still needed to knit another. Gnomes are also a bit like potato chips.  Once you start, you just don't want to stop,  once a Gnomemaker, always a Gnomemaker perhaps. So I cast on a fourth gnome in the span of a little over a month.  This time the chosen gnome was Gnome de Plume.

Funny thing with this one, is that I just assumed she would be the same size roughly as the others.  So as I was knitting her hat, I kept thinking it was one epically large hat for a little gnome.  Finally, I checked the finished measurements and realized she was not a little gnome at all.  She was so much bigger than I was anticipating.  So much so, that when I was in between stuffing and finishing her I had to find my tallest mug to rest her in because she was just a little too unwieldy to just set down in my lap.

Even though she's not a little gnome like the rest of the collection, she is perfect in my opinion with her leafy hat and leaf shaped beard. (Do all lady gnomes have beards?  I wasn't sure but her's is a delicate leaf shaped one, so I thought that it would be as feminine a beard as one could ask for...) I have decided she is to be crowned queen of the gnomes and she has joined her much smaller loyal subjects in guarding the plants!

I'm taking a break from gnomes for the moment and working on a different project right now, but the important thing is, thanks to these magical little gnomes, I have found the love of knitting again, and it has come at a time I need it the most.

If you're looking for something that doesn't take much yarn, doesn't take a whole lot of focus and doesn't take much time I suggest taking a look at Imagined Landscapes collection of patterns.  There's several gnomes to choose from (although there's not just gnomes!  There's plenty of other beautiful items to knit if gnomes aren't your thing of course).  The patterns I've done have all been very well written, and lovely to knit! If you're not up to knitting right now, you could always check out their podcast!  I've really enjoyed listening to the two sisters chatting. (plus they are fellow Manitobans and I'm always excited to support someone local to me!)

Until next time, I wish you all good health and a hope that you are still finding joy and happiness in the small, simple pleasures in life.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

A Trio Of Elliots

Hello all!  Here we are almost a week later since my last post.  How is everyone doing?  I waver between calm, rational thought and obsessive worrying and anxiety lately.   There seems to be no middle ground for me.

So I thought I'd distract myself with a long overdue post about my trio of Helen's Closet Elliot Sweaters that I made earlier in the new year.  How have I neglected to blog about them?  I wear them all the time!  Next time One Week One Pattern roles around it will be a no brainer for me given I have a total of five Elliots now! You can see my previous versions here and here.  Oh!  And I made my daughter one last year for Christmas... I don't think I have a photo of that one though.  I love this pattern.  Can you tell?

Let's get down to business here!  Note - these might not actually be in order of how I sewed them. Too many weeks and too many things have gone on in between to remember details like that and I'm a bit too lazy to figure it all out right now.  It doesn't really matter anyway.

Elliot #1 :

I sewed this one as an entry for the Fabric Snob's sew along.  It has a few mods to it - I lengthened the front, lowered the neckline slightly,  and simply lengthened the sleeves following the pattern lines so they ended up somewhat belled.  I LOVE this sweater.  It's in a hacci sweater knit from the Fabric Snob.  They still have it stock right now as a matter of fact.

Elliot #2 :

A t-shirt version is up next.  This one I'm not quite as happy with because first I lengthened it too much and then I shortened it too much.  WHY?  Why do I do that so often? ??  And now I feel that it hits at an awkward point maybe.  Also the sleeves need to be shortened just a smidge still.  I followed View C with the banded neckline, and had, as mentioned, initially lengthened it to have a curved hem.  I also initially shortened the sleeves somewhat from the pattern, but still not enough for my preference. After over shortening the top itself I'm scared I'll shorten the sleeves with reckless abandon as well and regret it.  What I don't regret at all is the fabric I used.  This one is a tri-blend jersey also from the Fabric Snob (and also still in stock) and it is so, so soft and comfy!

Elliot #3 :

I'm not going to lie... this one could be my very favourite of all my Elliots maybe.  It's definitely right up there. What seems like forever ago, Helen posted photos of herself wearing an Elliot dress.  She looked amazing in it and I couldn't get the idea of a Elliot dress out of my head.  I had some French Terry from Water Tower Textiles sitting in my stash since last August waiting to be used, and it seemed perfect for a dress with such simple lines.  For this one I simply extended the front and back to the length I wanted to have a straight hem and the rest is as View A is designed.  This dress makes me feel like a million bucks. It's comfy (hello, secret pjs!), easy to throw on and easy to wear.  It checks all the boxes!  Thanks for the inspiration, Helen!!

So there you go!  There's my three Elliots in all their glory!  It's such a great "blank canvas" type pattern with its simple design lines and possibilities for hacking.  Helen also has a great post up on her blog with her versions of just her tees which could be a great jumping off point if you're looking for inspiration!

That's it for me now - back to reality, housework and making supper.  Until next time, I wish you all to stay safe and healthy and remember, especially in these difficult times to try and share kindness and light as you go throughout your day.

Friday, March 13, 2020

A New Cardigan

It seems sort of frivolous to be posting about things like regular day to day things like new patterns, but I know for my own sense of mental health and well being I absolutely can't focus all my energy and thoughts on the current state of the world.  Anxiety looms heavily waiting to pounce at any moment and I am doing my best to not let myself be sucked in  or consumed by it.  I'm doing my best to remain calm - we are prepared and keeping ourselves informed through reputable and reliable sources and we are doing everything we can to maximize our chance of staying healthy.

So on a much lighter note, let me introduce you to an easy to sew, quick to make new cardigan pattern. This is the Castillo Cardigan* from Itch to Stitch.  I was quite excited to test this one as I am weak when it comes to a new cardigan.  I wear them so often and it's nice to branch out from my rotation of  ITS Avieros and Helen's Closet Blackwoods.

This one has a simple open front design and a unique shoulder shaping detail that uses darts.  It also has a hood of cozy proportions!  Side slits add interest as well!

Also, pockets!!!! Would you look at those pockets.  Ok, I know they're hard to see because I didn't take any close up shots, but they are a lovely large size!

One of the things I really like about the Castillo is the length.  I love a cardi that hits between the lower hip and mid thigh.  

The other thing I absolutely adore about this cardigan is the finishing on the hood seam.  The entire seam is covered by either twill tape or grosgrain ribbon if twill tape is unavailable.  I was hoping to find gray or blue for my cardi, but had to settle for black as that's all my local shop had available unfortunately.  You could even get some fun printed ribbon or tape and really let your personality shine through on this detail.

If you're wanting to pick up a copy for yourself, it is on sale currently for the release week!  Just pop on by to the ITS site.

Stay safe and healthy my friends!

Friday, March 06, 2020

Victory Will be Mine!

I told you a few posts back that I wanted to come back soon to show off my latest knitting FO.  It's been ages since I've had a proper yarny finished object, which always seems just a bit funny given that way back in 2006 my blog started out as a place specifically to share my knitting projects.

Anyway, I'm really quite excited to be sharing this with you as if feels like the ultimate in knitting projects.  Not only did I knit the project, but I spun the yarn too, which is where the ultimate part comes in.  The only thing I suppose that would make it even better is if it was from sheep I raised and sheared myself.  However, realistically speaking, I have no hot clue how to properly raise sheep nor am I anywhere physically strong enough to learn how to shear a sheep.  That is serious business my friends.  I'm always amazed at how a sheep shearer can make it look so simple!

Victory Wrap being blocked

So I do the next best thing! I spin yarn from fibre that other people have sheared from flocks raised by those that know what they're doing.  The closest I'll get to being shepherdess in my lifetime is picking T's little stuffed "Lamby" up off the floor and putting it back on his bed.

Both of the fibres I used were purchased at the Manitoba Fibre Festival in 2018 from two of my favourite Manitoba fibre artists.  The grey-ish brown is Shetland from my "down the road" neighbour, Barb of Prairie's Edge Wool Farm.  If you are local to Manitoba you need to get your hands on fibre from Barb.  It's beautiful, so lovely to spin especially for a beginner like me.  I always make sure to get a good sized batt from her booth at the Fibre Festival.

Handspun Shetland Wool on a Kniddy Knoddy

The pink/yellow/brown is from another favourite Manjusha Fibre Arts.  I always make Tammy's booth a stop on my tour of the market at the Fibre Festival too.  (I should mention that the boys always love to pick up a souvenir yarn from the festival to give to Grandma.  I give them free reign to choose whatever they would like and they always, always browse for a bit and then make a bee line straight back for the Manjusha booth.  So it's kid approved as well! LOL)

fibre being spun

I spun this yarn before Christmas of 2018 and I made a hat for my husband out of the Shetland, but didn't know what I wanted to do with the rest of it and I had no idea what to make with the other yarn - I always worry I'll "waste" my handspun by doing a poor pattern selection.  While I had a good amount of the Shetland I didn't have that much of the pink, so that was a concern too.  I'd been eyeing up the Victory Wrap on Ravelry for quite some time and kept thinking it might be the perfect project for my precious handspun, but since my desire to knit had all but vanished and I wasn't even sure if it was THE pattern I put it off for an entire year.  Finally I decided enough was enough and just before New Years I decided it was high time to cast on something fun that might keep my needles going.

It took me almost a month. I still obviously didn't have my knitting mojo back and it was still a bit of a struggle to pick up my needles, sometimes feeling forced instead of intuitive even though I was wanting to knit it and was loving the wool.  In the end I used up almost every bit of the pink yarn.  I had mere inches left to go when I cast off the last stitch.  (Yarn Chicken score one for Sarah!)

It took me just about another month to get around to blocking it, which was silly.  I finally dug out my blocking pins a few weekends ago and set my wrap in the sink for a bath.

Wrap in a sink of sudsy water

Exactly one month after I cast off my wrap, it had been blocked and was finally dry. I took the pins out and proudly put it on and wore it to work that morning.  It's snuggly and soft, and squishy and cozy and best of all what started out as fluffy bits of fibre became a wrap all by my own hands.

Wrap being worn

Since I still had a nice sized ball of the Shetland yarn left I decided last week that I should knit a pair of fingerless gloves for spring.  I queued up the Lambing Mitts pattern from Tolt Yarn and Wool in Ravelry last year I think.  Maybe longer ago than that even? I've no idea. Anyway, I thought they'd be a nice quick knit and handy to have as we head into spring.  They definitely are quick.  I knit the first mitt in about three hours, which felt like a victory in it's own right!  I haven't had the chance to finish the other glove yet though because I've been busy with another project.

I've just finished my other little project on the needles now and I think I can safely say my will to knit is BACK!!!!  I just finished up the Mystery Gnome KAL from Imagined Landscapes and it's become really exciting to be picking up my needles and not wanting to put them down!  Here's the little guy who's made me really want to knit again.  Isn't he cute?  He even has his very own little sweater! (also note he is standing in front of my apparently confused about the seasons Christmas Cactus that, after having only bloomed once about two and a half years ago when I bought it, is now in full glorious bloom right now in March! A gnome, the return of my knitting mojo and flowers. So many things to be happy about all in one photo!)

Gnomes are apparently magical for mojo.  You might see some more consistent knitting content here on Prairie Girl Knits yet!

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Betty-Anna Dress

Hello again!  I'm back already!  It seems to always go like this - radio silence for weeks on end and then suddenly I'm popping back in all the time.  LOL!

I'm back here today because I've got another project up on the Minerva blog today!  This is a dress that combines two of my favourite dress patterns that I was able to bring to life when Minerva sent me the most gorgeous large scale John Kaldor cotton sateen last summer.  The fabric was silky smooth and gloriously lightweight and perfect to mash up a By Hand London Anna dress bodice with the swishiness of the Sew Over It Betty's skirt.  This dress is everything I love in a dress.  Fitted bodice, swingy full skirt and of course pockets!!!

I am absolutely dying to wear it, and hoping spring hurries the heck up here on the prairies so I can dig out my favourite red Lotta from Stockholm clogs and throw on my Betty Anna!

You can hop on over to the Minerva blog to read all the details about the dress and find links to the fabric.  They seem to be out of stock on the exact colour way I used, but they still have a gorgeous navy and aqua one available!

In the meantime I'm off now to the first of our Atom C the games for the playoff series.   Tom has woken up in "tank" mode this morning and is predicting a win (and another goal for himself) ...  Go Redwings! Let's hope he's right!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Another Sew Over It Heather Dress

Occasionally I find a pattern I really love and I make it over and over again.  The Sew Over It Heather is one of those patterns.  Well, I've only made three of them, but it seems I'm constantly thinking of the next one.  Make no mistake.  There will be a fourth in the future!

My first Heather was a warm, quilted long sleeve one back when the pattern had first come out.  My second one was a short sleeve one the following summer.  Which brings us to Heather Dress number three.  Which just so happens to be up on the Minerva Blog today.

Why is everything so green again you ask?  Well.  Let me tell you! There is often a lag in when we make our projects to when they get posted up on the blog, which leads to some pretty comical time travel-esque photos.  This dress has actually been in my wardrobe since last summer when I made it.   Right now there is no grass in sight, the temps are plummeting from a - 3C high yesterday to a nasty - 40C today.  It's definitely the cozy clothes time of year.

Suffice it to say this dress is all that I hoped it would be. It's so soft and snuggly, and like my other Heather dresses is like secret pyjamas, it's so comfy!  I wore it to work just yesterday as a matter of fact!  I hope you'll head over and read about it.  There's even a bit of a funny story about taking photos of it, but I'll let you hop on over to the Minerva Blog to read about that too.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Down, Set, Hut

Hey all! I'm back again with a super quick, drive by post before I dash out the door for the boys last regular season hockey game this afternoon.  I wanted to show you my latest project that is up on the Minerva blog today.

This one is actually a pretty old make all things considered.  I made it months ago when football season was in full swing!  It got loads of wear throughout the fall especially on those rainy and cold practice nights.  Oh my word!  It was such grim weather for football.  I've never seen so much mud.  Nor have I ever experienced anything like the hell that is soggy wet cleats that never dried out.  There is no worse smell than wet cleats it turns out.  So very gross.  It is the smell of nightmares.  Ewwww.

But enough of that - onto more pleasant topics and that topic, of course, is my cozy, snuggly Hey June Handmade Brunswick that is being featured today.  I had so much fun making this one!  It's a straight forward, easy sew and I loved the opportunity to personalize it for days at the field.  I'm sure it's going to get lots of use again this year when the season kicks off again!

You can hop over to the Minerva blog and read about my project and the fabric I used!  As for me, time's up!  I have to run.  The boys hit the ice in a little over an hour.