Rhinebeck 2015

This past weekend was Rhinebeck weekend, or, officially, the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival. Crafters from all over descended upon the beautiful village of Rhinebeck for yarn and fibre shopping and this was my second year in attendance. Since I am still breastfeeding the baby, my very generous husband offered to drive down with me so that I could still attend Rhinebeck with my knitting group. I missed it last year due to having a newborn! The drive is about 6-7 hours from Ottawa plus time for stops and lunch, so his generosity was hugely appreciated!

My knitting group likes to line up early to run for the Jennie the Potter mugs (yes, run), but I don’t mind. The fall colours are gorgeous and everyone’s just so excited to be at this annual festival. All the early birds are usually clad in woolly sweaters, hats, mitts, etc. and much of the line-up is spent chatting about knitting designers and “what-yarn-is-that” and our mutual love of Miss Babs. My Rhinebeck sweater this year was Twigs and Willows from Botanical Knits in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, which I purchased from Rhinebeck 2013. It was a bit chilly this year and I wish I had brought a toque! I didn’t join my friends in the Jennie the Potter line-up and instead made my way to O-Wool, which is hard to find in Canada.

Aren’t the fall colours gorgeous? The festival is so picturesque. I took these photos earlier in the morning, but later in the day there were so many more people! Over 40,000 people pass through the gates over the weekend so it gets pretty crowded. There are some vendors that get huge line-ups (Miss Babs, I’m looking at you) but us crazy knitters who will stand in line for yarn do exist, seemingly in the hundreds.

Since I had just purchased a new sewing machine and lots of fabric, I set my budget for this year slightly lower than those of my knitting group members’. Since we have to cross the border, our budget is usually the limit that they’ll allow us to take back into the country! (Look it up, because I don’t want to admit how much it is.) The fun part of every road trip home from Rhinebeck is comparing notes on how the border guards react to how much money we’ve spent on yarn.

Here’s my stash versus my husband’s. As you can see, two very different interests in this family. I ended up with two gradient sets from Miss Babs and Fibre Optic Yarns. I also purchased my very first skeins from Into the Whirled, in the colourways 221B and Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey. And I also have enough for two O-Wool sweaters. My husband picked up some great craft beer from the area and several bottles of Lagunitas Sucks, which even I think is an amazing beer.

It was a wonderful weekend, and I’m already planning to head back next year with a friend. Think of all the knitting I have ahead of me!

Hello, Pfaff Ambition 1.0!

After several days of hemming and hawing over a new sewing machine, the stars have aligned and there’s a new love in my life.

I called a local Pfaff dealer, Quilty Pleasures, and had a great chat with a salesperson about the Pfaff Ambition 1.0 and Janome 3160QDC. Although the Janome was less expensive, I felt that the price difference was no match for the extra features that the Pfaff Ambition 1.0 offered, namely: the IDT system (basically a built-in walking foot), larger throat space and stitching customization. I’m a Pfaff girl, so I was happy to hear that the Ambition 1.0 fell right into my budget range. I only considered a Janome because I thought the computerized Pfaff machines were going to be too much for me. After the fantastic customer service over the phone, I knew that I’d be happy to make the 40 minute drive to the shop (it’s way on the other side of town!).

To the shop I went, on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and the woman I spoke to on the phone was there to help me in person. I gave the machine a little test drive and had fun seeing all the new features that my Pfaff Hobby 1132 didn’t have (which is nearly everything). I walked out with the new machine, a free extension table, a quarter-inch foot, and a free motion foot. Here she is at home:

Paired with my Bernina serger, the new Sureau dress I’m making is looking a little more pro than other garments I’ve made! I’ll try to do a fun border with one of my fancy new stitch patterns.

The fabric I’m using for the dress is by Cotton & Steel in their Spellbound collection. This is Haunted Forest in lilac. Is it a Halloween fabric? Technically, yes. Am I going to wear it year-round? Also yes.

I’m still in the honeymoon stage with my machine, but I’ll post a full review soon once I’ve had time to really test out all the features it has to offer.

Fancy Fox update

I went to my fourth and final class for the Fancy Fox quilt on Wednesday, and I actually managed to get a bit of quilting done!

Although the twin size quilt needs 80 foxes, I made 68 and called it a day/few weeks. My quilt will have 64 foxes on the front in an 8×8 arrangement, and the remaining 4 foxes are pieced together on the quilt backing for fun.

Here they are all laid out and ready for piecing.

Playing with colour layouts for my #fancyfoxquilt

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So cute and colourful, aren’t they?

And the piecing is complete!

#fancyfoxquilt top is done. Now to work on the backing, baste, quilt, and bind. No big deal.

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You only get the back view, of course. You’ll see the full quilt when it’s complete! It could be awhile, since I don’t actually have a walking foot for my machine at home, and I’m still deciding on what kind of new sewing machine I’d like to get. But there’s no rush on the Fancy Fox. It will be worth it when it’s finished!

Fancy Fox Quilt

I’m obsessed with the Fancy Fox Quilt. When my friend Laura over at Waffle Kisses Studio decided to teach an intermediate quilting class using the Fancy Fox pattern, I was excited to sign up and try making my second quilt ever. Laura offered the option of making a baby, lap, or twin-sized quilt for her class. My decision: go big or go home.

This quilt will be for the baby. She just turned one year old (and celebrated with her very first birthday party over the weekend!) so it’s going to be a bit late, but I don’t think she minds.

Deciding on colours was easy. I knew I wanted a rainbow of fancy foxes! I also don’t have a mad stash of scraps as other long-time quilters do. (Yarn, on the other hand…) I love this Tula Pink: True Colours stack of fat quarters. The prints are playful, bright, and cheerful. They’re perfect for a child’s quilt!

For the first class, Laura wanted us to make a few foxes so we could see how it all came together. Here’s my first one in deconstructed form on her design board.

  Here it is, all sewn together! I’m in love.

And then there were two. And then there were eight. And then there were twenty-four, and then forty-four. But I only have a photo of the two.
I have to make eighty altogether for the twin-size quilt. Challenge: accepted! I’m over halfway there and I can’t wait to see how they look all put together. The sewing part is fun thanks to the bright prints, but I am looking forward to finishing them all so that I can start arranging and assembling!

Silk factory in Chiang Mai

I spent a month in Thailand over the summer so that my parents, who live in Chiang Mai, could spend some time with the baby. (They also wanted to see me and my husband, of course, but as usual, the baby dominated.) On a day when my mother and I felt like doing some shopping, she took me to visit a silk farm/factory/store.

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These photos are from the workshop area beside the actual silk store. There were several huge floor looms (see part of one below) and a small area for other fibre art displays like spinning and dyeing, but the actual silk farm part would have been located in a different location. The majority of the finished silk is likely produced off-site too, so the looms were mostly for show even though they did have some beautiful samples set up.

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I was in awe of the weaving samples displayed on the looms “in action.” I’d never seen anyone weave with such thin threads of silk before, with that many threads across the loom too.

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I’d knit that.

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They showed the different kinds of worms used to produce different varieties of silk, as well as some of the organic sources of dye. The finished products were gorgeous and I mostly tried not to look at the worms.

I was tempted to bring back a lot of silk for selfish sewing purposes, but instead just bought a lovely bright magenta silk wrap. When I think of silk in Canada, I have this idea of a thin,  smooth, slippery fabric, or brushed silk which is a bit rougher. The varieties of silk produced at this factory were amazing and ended up producing both thin and thick cloth. My silk wrap will actually keep me quite warm in fall weather and it’s rough to the touch but so soft.

Finished! Pennae Shawl

Oh look, a finished project! I started this shawl at the beginning of summer and finished it with days to spare before the back-to-school frenzy.

Pattern: Pennae Shawl by Hilary Smith Callis.
Yarn Used: Hedgehog Fibres Sock in Graphite and Pollen (1 skein each)

I bought this yarn two years ago in Dublin, during my honeymoon. I actually bought a deep pink as well, but the three didn’t match as well as I thought once I started knitting the Colour Affection shawl. The whole thing was frogged and the yarn has been patiently waiting ever since.

The design for the Pennae Shawl really is beautiful. I love the single lines of colour on the one side and the picot bind-off adds a delicate touch. I’m happy that the yellow and dark grey stripes do not at all resemble a bumblebee, which is a real concern anytime you’re working with yellow and black textiles.

Hilary Smith Callis has some lovely patterns on Ravelry. In particular, her Citron shawl is very popular – and free on Knitty!