The spinning situation (and Sea Breeze Test-Knit!)

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I realized this week that I have not touched my spinning wheel since the end of the Tour de Fleece in July, even though a had such a large quantity of really nice rovings just laying around in my living room. I did the math, I have 62.5 ounces of fiber just there, waiting for me in a box. 62.5 ounces!!!!! And I haven’t touched it in months. So a few days ago, I decided to take a breather from my Cosmo Shawl and my Frosted Rose cardigan to work a little spin, using a really nice fractal roving I bought a couple months ago at the Twist Festival. It’s a 100% corriedale roving in color Periwinkle.

Filage

I thought I would be rusty from not spinning for such a long time, and I was sincerely expecting a little struggle as I started the project. But surprisingly enough, it seems my hands and feet remember the motions very well, my singles were very fine and constant, and the finished product exceeded all my expectations. Yay! It is so fine in fact that I was able to make over 400 yards of light fingering weight yarn with a 4 oz package of fiber, which is about 50% more that the longest yardage I have been able to make so far. I’m so exited! I feel like it really took forever, but it was just so worth it! I have also started the hip increases on my Frosted Rose cardigan, so things have been going pretty smoothly. :)

Frosted Rose

On another note, I’m very excited to announce that I finally finished writing the pattern for my Sea Breeze Sweater, yay!! I’ll have it test-knitted throughout the next few weeks, so if you feel like joining in (because, let’s face it : a couple more testers would definitely be more than welcome!) just send me an email at craftyeffie@outlook.com, and I’ll fill you in on the details :)

http://ravel.me/saphirsteph/sb
http://ravel.me/saphirsteph/sb

October blues

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Well, it’s this time of the year. The time when days become shorter, temperature keeps getting colder and colder and the rain and clouds replace the sun in the sky. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a real bummer for me, and although we (at least) had a sunny and warm Thanksgiving weekend last week, I’m still not completely at ease with the idea that summer’s over.

To lift my spirits a little, I have been using my brand new ball winder and swift that were generously gifted to me on my birthday by my honeybee and his mom. So nice!

Ball winder

I have also been keeping myself very busy working on a couple different knitting projects, namely my Cosmo Shawl and a new pink cardigan I just started, my Frosted Rose.

The shawl has been progressing pretty quickly, I am now about halfway through. The pattern is called “Bamboo Wedding Shawl“, from Purl Soho. I have made this pattern once before for my mom, and I decided to do it again since it was such a nice, easy lace project to do. It’s a 12 row geometrical lace pattern that can be memorized very quickly. It’s an easy, relaxing knit, and I think the blue yarn really makes it pop – I’m very happy with the result!

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The cardigan, on the other side, was a real love story. I fell in love with it at first sight, about a week after it was published on Ravelry. The pattern is called Tau, and it is designed by Melanie Berg from Mairlynd. I fell in love with the pattern, and I just happened to have the perfect yarn for it just laying around in my bins so I cast on right away.

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The yarn I used is call Chroma Silk, it’s a wonderful 100% silk yarn in a light fingering weight, the color I’m using is “Frosted Rose”. This yarn is hand dyed by an artisan here in Montreal, and it is an exclusive product from Artfil Yarn Shop & Craft Café. I simply LOVE working with it, it’s nice, soft, strong, luscious, and very decently priced for a 100% silk yarn. I’m in love!

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Finally published!!

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I am so very excited… My first design is finally up for sale! Yay!  It took me a while, but I’m finally done editing, and I am proud to present you the Sunny Summer Stripe pattern! *Screams of joy*

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/sunny-summer-stripes
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/sunny-summer-stripes

From WIPs to FOs

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In the last few weeks, I have been putting in a lot of work on the multiple WIPs I discovered in my sewing boxes; just like I said I would. It’s been very hard to resist starting a new project but I am very proud to tell you guys that all that hard work was worth it; since I was able to finish 2 more sets of placemats, a craft bag and a big blue tote bag. Aren’t they just lovely?

bags

I also finished my Busy Bee Sweater earlier this week, and I am SO excited to show it to you today. It is my sweater for Very Shannon’s SSKAL14, and I (fortunately) was able to meet the September 24th deadline – although it has been extended now to October 8th. I was so sure I wasn’t going to make it, but somehow I managed to put the last stitches, weave in the ends and wash it on the 24th, and my honeybee nicely accepted to take pictures of it for me this weekend.

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/Crafty-Effie/busy-bee
http://www.ravelry.com/projects/Crafty-Effie/busy-bee

Unfortunately for me though, even though my WIPs have been nicely transforming into FOs, I seem to have fallen victim to a streak of bad luck recently, and it’s been making my life miserable. It’s not like it’s really bad, it’s just stupid things that keep happening. I lost the pearl on my left earing while taking a bath. I knocked my head on the truck trying to pull something out. I made cheese bread, and it deflated in the oven. I dropped the couch on my feet and bruised my toes. Pulled a muscle in my neck. Had to absorb a 400$ unexpected expense. And so forth, continuously for the last couple weeks. Really, just stupid bad luck. I really hope it’s over, because I can’t take it anymore!

So talking about unexpected expenses… Have you noticed something new on the photos? Let’s have a closer look.

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Yes, I’m wearing glasses. I have never had glasses in my life (and to be perfectly honest I never suspected I would need them either), but my honeybee recently made me aware of the fact that I might have an eye problem, as he was able to read streets signs WAYYY before me… without his glasses. So I got an eye exam on Monday, and (surprise!) the optometrist diagnosed a slight myopia. Since it wasn’t all that bad, I could still choose to get it corrected or not, it was not required, but I thought it’d be a lot better to see things more clearly… So I got glasses. What do you think ? Does it look good or bad? Anyways, I guess I’ll just have to get used to them…

In the meantime, since I have been such a good girl finishing off all my sewing WIPs (and also because I had just finished my Busy Bee sweater), I decided to reward myself by starting a new knitting project, it’s a shawl called “Bamboo Wedding shawl” by Purl Soho. I have made one like that before for my mom, it was my very first knitted lace project. It’s a very nice, simple design that has a geometrical lace pattern that is easy to remember. I started it with Cascade Heritage yarn in Cosmo Blue, and I find it to be the perfect color for this shawl. I’m very excited about this project since it’s a nice change from all the sweaters I have been working on recently.

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On that note folks, I’ll go back to my sewing machine (or my knitting needles?) and wish you all a happy craft time :)

Wrapping up WIPs

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This month, I decided to tackle a considerable task; which is to gather and sort all my sewing supplies and to organize them in a single, sewing-dedicated room in my apartment. You see, I have been sewing for over 11 years now, and throughout the years I accumulated an impressive amount of fabric, patterns, notions and projects that are now scattered all over my apartment. I’m sure you can appreciate how daunting of a task this can be, but if you can’t really picture it, here’s a few images of the different places I have fabric and supplies stored in.

Fotor0911134919Before you judge me, I have to explain to you why my sewing things are so disorganized. It is not because I’m messy, carefree or negligent; it is simply because in a short period of 7 years between 2004 and 2010, I lived in 7 different apartments in 4 different cities, moving approximately every 10 to 18 months. During that period, most of my possessions were boxed and unpacked, to then be re-boxed, moved, and so forth a hopping number of 7 times, until I finally settled down a little over 2 years ago, coming back to my hometown. In this packing craziness, a lot of my things have been mixed, switched over, separated, reunited, used as packing supplies, etc., some of those things even stayed in boxes for YEARS, because I had no immediate need for them at the moment and I knew that I was going to move again soon anyway. So when I finally moved to my current apartment, you can imagine how much of a nightmare it was to unpack everything. I somewhat managed to concentrate most of my sewing stuff in 2 different rooms, but there is no organization system whatsoever since everything has been in such a hot mess for such a long time (heck I’m not even sure what I have anymore!).

What actually triggered the adventure is that earlier this week I had to put my hands on fusible interfacing to fix the waistband of a pair of pants. Not much of a problem in most cases, but knowing how chaotic my notions are, it definitely was a problem for me. I heaved a long, desperate sigh, and started frantically looking through the countless chaotic fabric & notions containers that I have to find what I needed. I knew I had some, I just couldn’t figure out where; but somehow, no matter how hard I looked for it, I just couldn’t find it. As I finally reached the point of desperation where I was considering just going to the store to buy some more (AGAIN), I stopped myself, looked around and decided it was just time to finally do something about this horrible mess. The very same day, I started going through my bins, boxes and baskets to evaluate the damage, and in the midst of it all I discovered an impressive amount of unfinished projects; including 4 sets of placemats (yes, 4!!), a baby bag, 2 pairs of pants, a cape, a laptop bag, 2 quilts, 2 tote bags, as well as a certain number of miscellaneous clothes that needed to be repaired or altered to my size. And I’m telling you my friends, this is only the tip of the iceberg – because there’s a lot of things in there I’m not even sure anymore what it was supposed to be.

Fotor091185155Because I have limited space in my apartment and because I like things to be neatly organized and easily accessible at all times, I decided that my “Organize-the-Sewing-Room” project just had to start by completing as many of those WIPs I possibly could; that way I’ll free a lot of space to be able to set up a better, more functional system to efficiently sort and store all my supplies. So far, I completed one set of 7 placemats (the beige/orange one on the bottom right corner), fixed 2 pairs of pants that needed to be sized down, bought assorted biais tape for the remaining 3 placemat sets and started looking for missing patterns for the bags (because yes, somehow, some of the patterns got separated from the project – don’t ask me how!). This sewing room adventure is probably going to be a very long and strenuous one, but I’m hoping to finish most of my WIPs by November, to be able to start sorting and organizing fabric and notions in December. I’ll keep you updated on my progress, but let’s hope I can have a functional sewing room by Christmas..!

On a different note, I have also been making progress on my #SSKAL, the body of my Busy Bee sweater is almost done! Yay! :) I cannot wait for it to be done and washed, so I can finally wear it!

Fotor0908134823So that’s it for today folks, wish you all a fun-filled, craft-filled weekend :)

One thing led to another

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Parlement 13

It is finally vacation time for me, and I can say (for sure!) that I have been waiting for this moment for a very, very long time. We can never really get enough of those, do we? But I was so stressed out the last few months that I sincerely believe that I really, truly needed a break from it all. Plus, summer’s been so busy for me that I feel like weeks and months just went by in the blink of an eye. Doesn’t seeing time flee so fast, right before your very eyes, scares the heck out of you? Well, I can tell you it scares the heck out of me, if anything! Where did my summer go? What did I do? and WHY, OH WHY IS IT SO SHORT?? So I finished work last Friday, and just like that, half of my first week of vacation is already gone.

Oh, I know what I did though. Saturday morning, my Honeybee and I set off on an expedition… A fiber expedition (I bet you wouldn’t have guessed). Last weekend was the Twist Festival, held in St-André-Avellin, Québec. It probably is one of the largest (if not THE largest) festival of it’s kind in the area, and I was just so, so excited to go! Even though I couldn’t stay for the the entire event, I still sniffed around the (100+!) vendors and found a few treasures to bring back home :)

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Since we were already so close to Ontario, my honeybee and I decided to drive a little more and spend a couple days in Ottawa. Since the weather was on our side and all the attractions were so close, we were able to walk pretty much everywhere. On Saturday afternoon, we saw the Canadian Museum of History, then on Sunday we visited the Supreme Court of Canada, the Parliament, the Canadian War Museum and saw the Rideau Canal, Library and Archives Canada and the Byward Market. All in all, we walked around 12K(±8 miles) in between places, plus whatever distance we covered going through the monuments and museums. Oh boy, was I sore the next day! We finished our trip by going to the Museum of Nature on Monday, then drove home. Here’s a few pictures of our trip, it’s really not the best quality but it is the best I can do with a phone camera! (yes, I know… I won’t forget my camera ever again. I. AM. SO. MORTIFIED.)

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Parlement 10

 

As I came back from vacation, I also noticed that I was nominated for the Liebster award by the very lovely Šárka from Berries and Yarn, I was very surprised and also very happy! I was not expecting to be nominated for it, but I found it very touching, and it’s really good to see people enjoy reading my random rants :) So here are my answers to Šárka’s questions :

  1. What got you into blogging?
    I got into blogging because I like to talk about crafts, and I really enjoy sharing my adventures with like-minded people. Unfortunately for me, there isn’t a lot of people around with similar interests I can talk to, so instead of chewing my boyfriend’s ear off, I decided to share my stories on a blog :)

  2. What is it that you enjoy the most about the blogging experience?
    What I prefer about blogging is to be able to connect with people all around the world who share the same passion but have a different background, different views and different experiences. Being able to exchange with these people allow me to learn and grow, and gives me a different outlook on things. It’s a mind-opener, I think. 
  3. And is there anything about blogging you find annoying or irritating?
    Not really, except maybe when a post I make doesn’t reach people in the way I would’ve wanted it to, maybe :) 
  4. How do you find new blogs to follow?
    I generally look at blogs followed by people I follow, or look for specific tags (yarn, handspun, etc.)
  5. What inspires you?
    Life, in general :) I tend to be a very positive, empathetic and free-spirited person, and I find inspiration in everyday beauty. Sometimes it’s just by looking out the window and seeing a mom and a child walk to the park hand in hand, or sometimes it’s just a song playing on the radio, or the way the light is shining through a piece of stained glass. I don’t follow a strict pattern when it comes to creation, I just feel it :)
  6. Do you prefer paper diaries, calendars, planners, stationery, etc, or do you rather go digital?
    I do both. I’m a very organized person, and I like to have digital planners, organizers and data bases. But when it comes to creation, nothing beats the good old pen and paper :) 
  7. What´s the best book you have read this year?
    I can’t say it’s a book I have read as much as a book I have re-read, and that would be Alice’s adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. I have been completely in love with Alice’s universe since the first time I saw the Disney movie as a child, until now – and I daresay I could never get tired of it. I re-read the two books earlier this year, and it still is like magic to me. Every time I read it, I discover things I did not quite see (or see like that) before, and it opens up to a wonderful new adventure to me. 
  8. Given unlimited time and resources, what is your dream project?
    Surprisingly, I don’t really have one. I think if I concentrated my dreams in a project, I would feel very empty once it is finished, so I prefer to simply enjoy creativity as it is, and enjoy every step of the way :) 
  9. On the other hand, what sort of a quick project do you go to for instant gratification?
    That… I don’t have one either. If I need instant gratification, I’ll go for a jog, for me creation is not about instant gratification :) 
  10. What was your favourite boy band in the 90s? Don´t tell me you did not have one :-)
    Oh, I plead guilty… My favorite boys band in the 90s was the Backstreet Boys :) 

  11. If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be and why?
    That is a hard one since there is so many extraordinary people in this world, but if I had to pick one, it would probably be Gandhi.

 

So according to the rules, I should be nominating 11 other people with less than 200 followers and ask them 11 questions, but I must admit that I am not very much a “shout-out” kind of person -there’s too many blogs I like, and I have no idea how many followers they have. Plus, I feel if I had to make a list, it would be unfair to those I forgot to mention, or I would end up making a mistake and nominate someone who’s over 200 followers. It’s just really difficult for me :( If anything comes to mind, I’ll edit this post and add nominees and questions, but for now I will leave it at that. If you are reading this and wish to participate, I then officially nominate you, and ask you the same questions I was asked :) Fair?

On that note folks, I think I will let you go and walk to the grocery store to buy myself a little treat to celebrate my 28th birthday :)

Cheers!

 

 

Confession Tuesday : My kingdom for a ball winder!

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Fellow crafters, today I have a confession to make : I do not own a ball winder. Yea, shame on me. I really wish I did own one, things would be so much easier, but I just never bought one. For me, starting every project requires hours of preparation; winding every ball by hand, untangling knots and fighting off playful cats, and sometimes it also comes the occasional tears of rage when things are not going my way. Yea.

I really didn’t mind it so much at first, because I thought : “Not every yarn that is sold out there needs to be winded, so why should I make a fuss about having to wind a few balls by hand here and there?” But as time passed, I slowly started to realize that most of my favorite yarns did not come in center pull balls, and that my handspun yarn needs to be rolled in a skein or a ball after coming off the wheel. So why do I not have a ball winder and a swift, really?

The reason I’m talking to you guys about this is because I just recently came to a halt in my Hollywell Cardigan as I finished the first pink skein, and I had to wind the second skein into a ball before I could resume knitting. As I was patiently winding it, I looked over at my project and realized that in a very short while, I would also have to start the stripes – so I would have to put down the needles again, and wind 2 other skeins by hand. I’m usually not much of a complainer, but I must say that at that point, realizing this made me a little upset. But since today is another day, let’s just try to focus on something fun (!) instead, and let me show you the progress I’ve made on my cardigan so far :

auth.aspxThe pockets are attached, and I’m almost done with the waist decreases, so things are really moving along at a good pace! I should already be done with the waist decreases, but I decided to give this cardigan a little bit more waist shaping than it originally had, since I’m (somewhat of) a curvy kind of Gal. I’m about a medium size overall, but I have rather large hips and a (somewhat) thin waist, so every sweater generally requires slight modifications to fit my unusual silhouette. I started it off with 248 stitches at the bottom, which was in-between size M and L, and I plan on decreasing until I reach 204 stitches, which is a little over size S. Then, I plan on increase stitches at the same rate, and finish the pattern following size M instructions. Even though I made so much progress on it, I still feel the fabric is very loose and uneven, so I really hope it’ll turn out OK after a good wash. It should, since the swatch turned out just fine after a run in the washer & dryer, but I’m still worried. Just have to wait it out, I guess.

On another note, I was blessed with very good news last week, as I got a message from krumel, the (amazingly!) nice Raveler who gave some of her time earlier this summer to test-knit my very first sweater pattern, the Summer Sea Stripes Sweater. She told me she just finished it and showed me a few pictures, and I must say I am simply AMAZED that someone could make something so beautiful with a pattern I wrote! Even her photos are a lot more professional than mine, I feel so ashamed of myself! -_-‘

The one on the left is my prototype, and the one on the right is the one krumel made following the pattern I wrote :

Fotor0817232424Since it is my first pattern, I have a lot of adjustments to make before I can really publish it, but things are definitely moving forward! Following krumel’s comments and suggestions, I’ll fix my pattern in the next few weeks, then get version 2 tested sometime in September and (if everything goes according to plan), I should be able to release it on Ravelry around the end of September or mid-October. Yay! :)

I’m not sure if it’s normal to be so thrilled about something so trivial; I have never published a pattern of my own so I don’t really know how but I feel so very excited! Any experienced pattern designers out there? How did it feel to publish your first design?

So that’s all for today folks, my rant’s over!

Hope you all enjoy your craft time, and the rest of your summer :)