Welcome old friend . . .

Autumn is back. Cozy, crisp, colourful, content. These are my old familiars. This is my season. Come in and get comfy.  I’m all ready for you.

I finished these colour work mittens this morning, and will be teaching a colour work mitten class in November at Penelope Fibre Arts.  It’s a wonderful, and free, ravelry pattern called Mittens for Mimi.  Thank you concrete for showing off colour work so beautifully!

The Birkin sweater class ran throughout the summer – fair isle flowers mimicking those in the outdoor classroom.  We have converted the pullover into a steeked cardigan and will gather this month to cut and work the button bands.

I designed a join-as-you-go pillow and taught crochet classes at Crafty Creations over the summer.  This pillow is so soft and squishy.  I’ll be offering this program again here at the studio.

New programs are being posted weekly on my schedule page.

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It’s time to register for the next Saturday studio program: Top Down Cables and Lace:  The Sophie Cardigan

 

Come for Pi is open for registration, and will also be happening here at the studio.  This is a four month shawl knitting program based on the Pi formula of increases, unvented by Elizabeth Zimmerman, featuring the students’ favourite pies.

We’ve got what we need and a cozy space to do it!

Welcome back to the studio, Autumn!

 

 

 

Summer Program Listings Are Up

The outdoor classroom is set up and has a comfy chair ready for you.

Classes have been posted on the Schedule page.

I hope that you find something that you like.

emerging . . . . .

It feels as though the West Coast is finally ready for a Welcome to Spring party!  We had a long and white winter.  I loved every minute of it and have many warm and wooly finished objects to affirm my adoration of cold on the outside, cozy on the inside.  But nothing was usual this winter, weatherwise, and it stayed white on and off well into March.  It is only now, being April, that we feel safe to say, “It’s Really Spring!”

I have mowed the lawn once, ducking under the explosion of Forsythia in my yard.  Many bunches found their way into the house, which is very small, so the flowers quickly took over all the available air space!

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Spring time at school means The Firsties feel ready for the annual district dance festival, after months of creating and practicing.  This is a joyous but intensive process.  We work together in an integrated classroom, where our experiences of the world around us are wrapped up into artistic expression.  This year, as a group, we choreographed a dance, called Mocean to express our gratitude and love for the ocean community where we work and play.  The costumes were designed collaboratively, as well.  It all came together with a beautiful soundscape of ocean waves, wind, dolphins, birds, and whales. 

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The colours of yarn around the house are emerging, too.  Purples and pinks are taking over from the deep reds and blues.  These are two patterns, the Picos de Europa hat, and Gascogne Scarf, from the upcoming release of Woods by making stories.  I am a backer of this project and a huge fan of both these patterns.  I knit mine in Rowan Felted Tweed, running a strand of Rowan Kidsilk Haze with it for the scarf.

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And on this beautiful Easter weekend, small wooly bundles are hatching into a new design for an upcoming class.

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I hope you have a peaceful, happy, and chocolatey Easter!

Enjoy your celebration of the fresh and the new!

I am off to see Beauty and The Beast with two little peeps!

 

Joy to the woolly world!

It’s getting harder to keep a lid on the holiday excitement around here! It all started with the Knitted Ornaments class, scheduled a little earlier than usual this year, in mid-November. The tree went up, all decked out in the knitted ornaments we were making, and when the class was over, I just couldn’t put them away. Those fairy lights were a welcome sight as the days got shorter, and darker.  So, down the rabbit hole I fell! More garlands and lights went up, the candles came out, then the skates, and then, ta dah! It snowed!

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The evenings got started later as school got busier, and the colourful knitting was a joyful way to end the day.  I was inspired to finish off my Marley Shawl because it began to resemble the gingerbread house!  Am I right?

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I think it must be the sprinkles!  The Firsties are the experts in that department, but there are many indie dyers creating gorgeous speckled yarns.

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With the Marley Shawl all blocked out and drying, I dug a vintage project out of the archives (the clue was the straight needles!) and I fell back into the soothing rhythm that cable knitting can be, until I noticed that one cable was crossed the wrong way (see it?).  I worked down that column and rebuilt it correctly.  This is handspun yarn from the most beautiful local Romney Sheep.

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When it came time to choose this year’s addition to the Arne and Carlos knitted balls collection, I went with a bell to remind me of the wonderful experience I had this term, starting up and directing a primary choir, of 110 children in grades 1 and 2!  We sang about bells, wore bells, choreographed a few bell ringing moves, and generally rang out joy!  I added some sparkle to this one, as a memory of the glitter and glow.

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When The Firsties and I drew names for our festive making project, I got the name of a little girl who often wears a wig to school, with long Rapunzel braids.  Perfect!  Time for my favourite knitted toy.  The dollie was a big surprise, and I think she will be loved.  Can you tell that I finished her at 2:30 in the morning?

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This week I cast on for the stunning Shine Mittens, by Pia Kammeborn.

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 This is the second pattern of Pia’s I have knit in the past few months, and there is a third queued up.  I explained this obsession in my last post.

Well, that’s it for today.  This wonderful holiday is a gift of time that I want to spend making, with this wonderful guy by my side.  Yes, he’s on my lap!  We are planning to burn the midnight oil every night!

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 We’ll be back soon!  

‘hope you enjoy every festive moment!

Bye for now  from Venessa and Cardigan

Scandinavia. . . . I’ve got a crush on you!

When I was a child I discovered that all children in Copenhagen learned to knit in school. Time was set aside each day and all the children got out their knitting. This seemed so right to me and I longed to move. I was one of the lucky ones though. Both of my parents knit and so I got what I longed for at home. As an adult, almost grown-up, I have introduced knitting to every class that I have taught over A LOT of years, and organized knitting clubs that happen at lunch and after school. There are so many positives that come from this activity, and more and more, children are choosing knitting as a way to find the calm in their bodies.

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When I learned to spin, I couldn’t get enough of the Norwegian yoked designs, and knit my way through every one I could find, many knit in my handspun.  It is the reason I began to knit on circular needles.  I was working at Manning Park Lodge, and riding the Pacific Stage Lines’ bus to work every week.  When we reached Hope the driver always turned off the inside lights, because of the hazardous road conditions, especially in the winter.  Any knitting I was doing from that point on had to be done without looking, and so I began working in the round, where creating stocking stitch means only working the knit stitch – super easy to do without looking.  Many Norwegian style sweaters were knit on those long rides.

I became interested in Dale Garn yarns through my love of all that was Norwegian.  This is the yarn I now use to knit my yearly addition to a collection of Norwegian Designers: Arne and Carlos‘ ornaments.  Their recommended yarn is Dale Garn’s Heilo.  It is a heavenly sport weight, 100% Norwegian wool.  In these ornaments it steams perfectly during the finishing process.  I buy it here.

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Another favourite Norwegian yarn is Peer Gynt, by the Sandnes yarn company.  This yarn was used to knit all the sweaters for the Norwegian Olympic team when the Winter Olympics were held in Norway in 1994.  It was the 56th Anniversary of Peer Gynt, established in 1938.  Years later, while I was completing my textile arts diploma at Capilano University, one of my classmates,   pre-med student, Elena from Norway, taking textiles as an elective, sat beside me in class, knitting telemark ski socks in Peer Gynt.  She and her boyfriend spent the weekends telemark skiing at Whistler, sleeping in their car, dressed in their Peer Gynt woolies.  Now that is a testimonial!  Another Sandnes yarn I have used over and over again is their mohair wool blend called Alfa.  I have knit three long skirts, one that completes a wool suit, and have the yarn for two more!  I cast on at the waist, working in the round, working a rib, then increasing at the hips and knitting straight down to the hem – a great knit for long car or plane trips.  ‘not finished with Sandes yet!  There is another yarn I have used for finer colour work projects and more delicate pullovers.  This yarn, Sisu, is a finer combed wool blend that is soft, but durable with added nylon.  It comes in many beautiful colours.

For years, I have knit Fair Isle projects changing colours frequently, knowing that at the end I would be spending hours darning in the ends.  I’m okay with that, most of the time.  When Kate Davies’ Shetland Colours book was published, I knew that I would be knitting an Ursula cardigan.  A yarn that I had been intrigued by for a while was Kauni Effectgarn from Denmark.  It is a yarn that is dyed in long gradient intervals, and I chose a blues combination as the contrast for my Ursula.  It’s brilliant – no ends!  It is as sticky as Shetland wools, so works well for steeked projects, when it comes to the cutting.  Kauni also comes in solids.  This is a shot of my Ursula.

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This summer one of The Firsties flew home to Sweden for a month. While she was there she visited Klippan, and picked out four large hanks of yarn as a gift for me! This yarn is the wooly wool that I love to knit with – some call it itchy scratchy – I call it wonderful! It is woolen spun, so has a slightly fuzzy finish to it. Yarn spun in this way will later bloom and create a halo on the finished fabric. This is the perfect look for one of my favourite techniques, stranded colour work and Fair Isle.  It is not the yarn for knitting texture or fabric with a lot of stitch definition.  This is my version of Kate Davies’ Paper Dolls, with an Ann Fietelson yoke.  Over time it has become more difficult to see the knitted stitches.  It has a slightly felted surface.

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Around the same time that the Klippan yarn came to live with me, a Swedish designer I follow, Pia Kammeborn, released her first pattern, Longing for Gotland, colour work socks. It seemed meant to be. I have used the Swedish yarn for the colour work, combining it with Lang Jawoll for the rest of the sock.  It’s the one that comes with an adorable spool of reinforcing thread tucked into the centre of the ball.  These socks are perfect with giant shoes!  The Firsties gave them a thumbs up!

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This week a Finnish yarn company Tukuwool released a fingering weight yarn, in natural, solid, and heathered colours.  This yarn has the appeal of handspun.  I have ordered some, and will write more about it when it arrives.  Another discovery about Finland recently came about thanks to Michael Moore’s video about the Finnish education system.  Our staff viewed it and made some important changes regarding homework at our school.

Scandi-Fan girl is going to stop writing now and go and knit with Swedish yarn for the evening with The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  If you would like any help finding these glorious yarns, please feel free to get in touch.  I would be happy to plan a field trip!  Hejda for now.

 

 

shifting shapes and colours

The third shape we examined in The Whispers Lace Program currently running here on Wednesday evenings, is the asymmetrical shawl. A gradient handpainted yarn seemed perfect for this one! I chose the Dangling Conversation and used Freia Fine Handpaints in 100% wool. This morning I soaked the finished piece and the wool blocked out into a Hokusai Wave! L.O.V.E

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Kate Davies’ Miss Rachel yoked sweater was my choice for the Fair Isle Fiesta Program that finished here a few weekends ago.  Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth from Gawthorpe Hall, is the inspiration behind the patterning on this design. I chose stash yarn that had been patiently waiting for me for ten years! Jamieson’s DK weight Shetland Wool was my choice, and I love it just as much now as when I bought it long ago. I purchased the body colour Eesit in the same yarn from Camilla Valley Farm in Ontario. A bottom up, yoked pullover means lots of stocking stitch, preparing the body and the sleeves to be joined to work the yoke and colour work section in one piece. This is going to be a favourite in a few months but meanwhile I am happy to work on it outside in the amazing sunshine where I daydream of taking my sweater to visit Gawthorpe Hall.  That’s a some day dream.

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Sometimes I order yarn that arrives looking quite different than it did on the website – ‘ever happened to you?  A hank of sock yarn arrived a few weeks ago that I knew I would never knit if I didn’t cast it on right away.  An opportunity to work on some textured fabric came up and I began to see some potential. Choosing a yarn that pulled some highlights from this yarn really helped and so it became my ‘because you are a bee’ socks.  I modified a pattern by Nessa Townley, working my favourite rib, a variation on the heel, and shaping the sole so that it pulled into my arch.  I almost have a pair of socks that will bee amazing!

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Now and again a colour comes along, that I can’t stop thinking about.  Sometimes my own reaction makes me think I don’t know myself at all!  I am not one to stick to a colour palette in my wardrobe, and that can make pulling things together interesting when I’m in a hurry.  But, I do like creating outfits when I begin a project.  So if I choose to make a sweater I pretty well have the whole picture painted in my mind, accessories and all, by the time the sweater is finished.  I begin pulling all the other pieces in while the knitting gets done, and it feels like a big event (for me only!) when I can finally wear all the bits.  The most recent event that inspired an outfit was The Firsties’ drama production, a piece I wrote about here.  In that post I mentioned the skirt in swamp green, that took me down the rabbit hole.  I had purchased an amazing lace shawl pattern a while ago, and had it in view in my studio.  It seemed to be the right texture and design.  I noticed that a few indie dyers had been dyeing up swamp colour ways, so I did some research and began to see that the shawl, swamp, and . . . . royal purple! could be a great combo.  The shawl is Piccadilly by Justyna Lorkowska, the Swamp colour way was dyed by Vicky at Baerenwolle in Germany, and the Purple Reign colour way was dyed by Beata of Hedgehog Fibres in Cork, Ireland.  It works for me! In the first picture you can see the skirt, and a needlework piece my Dad, Michael worked for me to refinish a piano bench.  In the second picture you can see one of my favourite progress keeper/markers made by Crystaletts.  They are really thin and unimposing, but super sparkly!  But wait!  I also ordered two more hanks of Purple Reign to knit the Talavera Lace top.

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Until next time, I post regularly on instagram and ravelry (as workinghandstudio) if you want to see what is in my working hands.  Thank you so much for reading my posts and emailing about them.  I am so glad to know that you enjoy them!   I hope you are loving every making moment!

Venessa

 

draped in summer . . . .

Three finished objects are having their day in the sun . . . . . .

The first is the Winter Wander Shawl designed by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade. I knit it in Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock, Granny Colourway (garter stitch section), and Rowan Kidsilk Haze (beaded section). I used #6 Miyuki beads from Fire Mountain Gems, applying them using the crochet hook method.

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The second is the Party On My Needles Shawl by Joji Locatelli. I knit it in two hanks of Baerenwolle Silky Baer in the Vanilla Sprinkles colour way. The two hanks were very different in colour so, when I reached the lace section, I alternated each hank every two rows until I ran out of #1, then finished off with #2. The green stripes were worked in Madeline Tosh Eurosock in the Goblin colour way.

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The third is a pair of summery socks, on the home stretch.  Knit in a very patient yarn from my stash. This is a speckled/self-striping yarn, that came along long before its time.  DGB Confetti: long wearing and great fun to knit!  These are knit in a Working Hands Studio pattern using KnitPicks Stroll as the contrast for heels and toes.

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Soft and pretty knits for the beautiful summery days and evenings, here in the Pacific Northwest.

 

magical moments

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I’m feeling giddy! Tonight I will see my knitting and crocheting work in 3-D on the big screen! BFG was filmed in Vancouver.  I was blessed to work with Joanna Johnston, costume designing guru, to create many whimsical pieces for this film. I have caught glimpses of Sophie’s belt, which I designed to resemble a piece of fabric that Joanna brought from England. She wanted it to look as though Sophie had used a man’s tie around her waist. Her dress was fashioned from a curtain. This all happened a year ago, and at last, I can see how it all looks! Hmmmm. . . now to choose the movie knitting project. . . .

making all the things . . . . .

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I apologize for my absence over the past few weeks. How have you been doing? This is the time of year when The Firsties are sharing their learning, and we have just put a big production to bed. Three months ago we began writing our own play, based on a favourite story, The Gardener, by Sarah Stewart. My Grade 1 program is fully integrated, so we have enjoyed creating the drama, dance, visual art, and musical elements to support our academic learning, that were all a part of our production. We showed the gradual transition from our depression era costuming into our ‘greens’, showcasing our art work as a backdrop, and emerging gradually on the stage into a sea of floral beauty, all created by The Firsties! We are blessed to have a theatre space to perform in, and former students rallied behind us, coming back from high school; a former Firstie, now in Grade 3, played piano for one of our songs; I joined in too, playing guitar and recorder; Grade 7’s worked as lighting and sound crew, with leadership students working back stage. It has been sheer joy! Here is our gathering on stage as the show ended. . . . you can see a Firstie painting being projected on the back wall. So beautiful!

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So that’s where I have been in my head for the past few weeks, 24/7. There was of course, serious knitting happening feverishly, in an effort to calm the spinning head. This morning I pinned out my Winter Wander Shawl. I am planning to unpin it just in time to wear it to a choir concert tonight.

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You can’t really see my skirt very well in that photo, but it is one that I bought on a Firstie field trip to Granville Island a few weeks ago, at Maiwa, with a generous gift certificate from my Firstie parents. It is swamp greens, gored so that the greens swish in and out of dark and light. It’s really beautiful. Why swamp? Well, I was trying to look like the Firsties in their plant costumes of course! You can probably guess that I have yarn in mind to knit a shawl to go with it! You are right! I am going to knit the London Loop Piccadilly in Silky Baer Swamp Colourway, and Hedgehog Fibres Purple Reign Colourway. (This might be a Summer Program project. Would you be interested? Please let me know.) But the bonus is that the skirt goes beautifully with the colours that will be worked at the top of my Miss Rachel, as part of our Fair Isle Fiesta Program. I totally scored, didn’t I!

I am very excited to share with you, that the movie I did some costuming for, will be opening on July 1st! Here is the latest trailer – watch for the crocheted belt! Yay! The other pieces I created come later, as Sophie stitches them onto her quilt to record her story. The Firsties and I are planning an ‘event’.

I am also bursting about this amazing project:

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That collection of breathtaking wood is going to be a baritone ukulele, my 5th string instrument, because I don’t have enough! A wonderful knitting student named Terry, is married to a luthier named Greg. I emailed for advice on choosing an ukulele recently, and Greg offered to custom make one for me! Terry invited me to come for a beautiful dinner, and Greg and I chose the wood. It has arrived, and Greg sent this photo of the bird’s eye maple, with a spruce tone board. I love the contrast of the dark neck! Woo Hoo! Many more tunes to come!  P.S. Greg is also a urologist who helps many little peeps.  Very cool!

Friends, Stacey and Rod, are launching Rod’s first novel on Tuesday night, at The Wooden Spoon, in White Rock.  Stacey and Rod are teachers who have travelled the world extensively, teaching and learning.  Come along and have a glass of wine, to meet them, and to buy a book!

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This week Class #4 of our Whispers Lace Program will happen on Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. Our focus will be on the blocking process, as Shawl #1 is being finished off. We will begin our second shawl, the Winter Wander, or one of choice. I know that there is a Hap in the works, like this one.

Thank Goodness It’s Friday Night Knitting will happen from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. on Friday night. Please let me know by Wednesday, if you plan to come.

It is still possible to reserve a spot at the Edenvale Retreat Centre focusing on Brioche this year. Kim McKenna and I will be presenting a program together, that will include spinning for, and knitting Brioche, on the August long weekend. Please contact Brenda of Penelope Fibres if you would like to join us.

If by any chance you see buttercups growing on my front lawn, please embrace them. Yesterday, my fully charged lawnmower lost power after the second pass, arghhhhh, and I realized, whaaaaat!, that batteries don’t just go on and on after all! So a replacement is winging it’s way to my doorstep as we speak – no shops sell them, so good ole Amazon saved the day! I pulled out my reel mower in the meantime, but the yellow persists!  Love they neighbour, just sayin’.

This just in . . . .The Lower Mainland Sheep Producers’ Fleece Sale will be happening June 11.  You can read more about this event in a blog post here.

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Well that’s it for this week! I am off to find all kinds of distractions, because report cards are due! Cupboards and closets are calling. I am sure Cardigan needs a bath. There is a baby shower coming up, so this will be getting finished, and these will be getting cast on. My Making Zine arrived on Thursday! This shawl pattern is staring at me, with the yarn chosen and ready to go! Uh oh!  Yes, I am that bad!

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I hope you are enjoying a day of beauty in this amazing home of ours!

Remember that reality is something we can all rise above, especially when we live in fairyland, and make beautiful things!

I am grateful for you! Thank you for being there, for supporting each other, and my studio.

I will be drinking tea in this beautiful Firstie gift, in just a few minutes.  I think Tazo Passion will be just the thing to help get all the things made!

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I can’t wait to see you!

Venessa

oh so yellow. . . .

Happy Sunshine and Dandelions!

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Nature is back making us crazy with all her Spring colour ways – the ones that always work!  Felicity Ford created these beautiful wrist warmers. Has she seen my front yard?  During the Spring there are many yellow splotches around my house, and it only takes hours for them to grow again it seems.  My neighbour is not happy about that, so sadly, I do mow, and the magical yellow speckles are short lived. 

It’s an inspiring season for a knitter! I am spending a lot of time making piles for future colourful projects. How about you? It can take hours to get that collection feeling just right, but colour play is valuable time spent. When I feel frustrated and stuck, I get Cardigan ready and head outside, because that is where master colour work is happening. I just have to remind myself to pay attention! Even my three minute commute to school can get my head spinning with project ideas!  I am fortunate to live in a beautiful seaside community.  

I am currently planning, making piles for, these colourful projects:

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/solaris-2 (using Hedgehog Skinny Singles and Sock Minis, plus Madeline Tosh Unicorn Tails, and Koigu KPPM – it’s a hot mess of colour!)

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/jujuy (using Voolenvine Yarns and Madeline Tosh Merino Light)

On Saturday, Fair Isle Fiesta Part 2 begins, and for this I have dug into (10 year old) stash yarns and found my yoke yarns for Kate Davies’ Miss Rachel.  I am substituting Jamieson’s DK for this project.  I ordered the base colour from Camilla Valley Farms.  I have been rearranging the mix for 3 weeks now! then one day it just clicked (well maybe!). That’s the way colour works, I find. I have learned to wait for that moment, because if I try to race ahead of the creative process, I know I won’t be wearing it! I leave my arrangements ‘out and about’ so that they catch my attention as I come and go. I can sneak up on them from all different angles, move a skein, and one day, it just looks right.  Even then, it’s a really good idea to knit a lot of swatches before committing.

I know from recently working up a Half Hap that even natural shade arrangements can take a lot of fiddling. I worked the colour section of my Hap twice! (should have spent more time rearranging the balls and knitting samples). I didn’t expect the natural shades to be as difficult – silly me!

 

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I love the natural colour play in this yoked sweater.

So, I hope to see you either on Friday Night at TGIFNK, (the bring your own project knitting class), from 6:30 – 9:30 pm  and/or at:

Fair Isle Fiesta Part 2 from noon to 5 pm. We will be playing with colour and planning for a variety of Fair Isle Projects.
Each student is working on something different! Fantastic!

Whispers, Knitting Beautiful Holes begins in a few weeks on Wednesday evenings. Come along and knit two summery shawls – so pretty and light!
We will knit beads into one of them. Bring on the sunshine and sparkles!

Brenda has confirmed that the retreat at Edenvale will be running at the end of July.  If you haven’t registered yet, please contact Brenda soon to let her know that you are interested.  You can sign up for spinning and/or knitting (this year’s topic is Brioche) or you can just come and hang out with your wheel and needles.  

You can read more about the programs on my schedule page.

Look for my bright yellow studio sign on the lawn, and (maybe) some dandelions to help it feel more at home!

Here is the project that I finished off this week:

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love them!

Enjoy each colourful moment!

see you soon,

Venessa