Sunday, 13 July 2014

Subway Shawl or Sunshine Shawl?

   This pattern is the latest instalment of my annual TTC KAL Surprise pattern kits at Passionknit. The TTC Knitalong is an organized yarn crawl that takes over Toronto transit (TTC) from various points in the city, and travels from yarn shop to yarn shop knitting all the way. You can learn more about it from their blog. For the past several years we have hosted two of these groups at Passionknit, and we offer up some goodies and a discount to our guests. Additionally, I design one pattern every year that gets dramatically unveiled for each group. I try to make the pattern something that is good for portable knitting, i.e. something that would be easy to knit on the subway, streetcar, or bus.

  Two years ago we started this tradition with the TTC Mitts:

   And last year we continued it with the TTC Token Socks:

   This year I did the TTC Subway Shawl:

   This shawl is called the TTC Subway Shawl in honour of the TTC KAL, and also with the thought that it is perfect for knitting on the subway. The pattern is not super complicated, and while it has four colours in it, you are never using more than two at any given time, so you would only need to have two balls of yarn with you. 

    Despite its underground namesake, this shawl definitely belongs in the sun. Part of me thinks Sunshine Shawl would be a more apt name because I can't look at these colours without thinking of a gorgeous summer day. My husband took these photos for me out on Toronto Island, which is a lovely place to spend a nice summer afternoon. It was a beautiful day, and none of these images gives the slightest hint of below ground transit.

   However, as someone who has spent several years commuting via subway, I think the perfect thing to make your commute less dreary is to bring a bit of colour with you. 

   Kits for this shawl are available at Passionknit in Toronto. If you are not a local, give us a call and we would be happy to ship you one! 

Wednesday, 11 June 2014


   I finally finished Alex's sweater! And despite making the smalls size in smaller needles, it does actually fit him. He kept saying he wanted it to be fitted, but the entire time I was dreading getting to the end and having him try it on and it did not fit. But in the end the perfect reward for being done is seeing it fit him perfectly, and exactly the way he wanted it.

   The pattern is Hugo by Veronik Avery, from Brooklyn Tweed Men. The yarn is Madelinetosh Tosh DK in Whiskey Barrel, 6 skeins total.

   This also means I can finally turn my attention to new projects, but the overwhelming question now is what to knit first? After the cables and neck alterations, see my previous post about the shawl collar here, I was ready for something simple. I have also been avoiding looking at the four sweater quantities of various Madelinetosh yarns I ordered for myself, so maybe the time is ripe for me to cast on one of those. Or perhaps I should just focus on getting back to my grey mink sweater that I was working on before the wedding craziness took over my life. (Yes that's right, mink, like the coats. Lotus Mimi is 100% mink, super warm soft and fuzzy, but sadly our distributor is not planning to bring in more of the yarn for more complex importation style reasons. If you are curious, we do still have quite a bit of it at the store where I work, Passionknit.)

   To avoid making a more lasting decision, I cast on a baby sweater out of some Indigo Dragonfly Merino Sock in the colour way: Don't You Just Love This Party? Everything's So Fancy, And There's Some Sort of Hot Cheese Over There, it was totally the name that sold me. The pattern is Newborn Vertebrae, one of my favourites. Not sure exactly which baby it will be for, I know of a couple that are on their way this Fall/Winter, and the colour is pretty gender neutral. Might be a matter of whose shower sneaks up on me first. However, since this little sweater knits up quick I will soon be back where I started. Leave a comment if you have a vote on what I should knit next: mink sweater, new tosh sweater, or something completely different.

Sunday, 18 May 2014


   That is what I say every time I finish a knitted item, which is greeted by varying degrees of  impressedness (I don't think that's a word, and neither does spell check, but I can't think of a word that means that, so you get the idea) by my boyfriend fiancĂ© husband (still not the first one I think of, maybe someday).

   I have noticed that the more knitted items you show non-knitters saying "I made this myself! All on my own! From string!" they will get progressively less impressed with you. In fact, if you happen to wear anything at all that it might be vaguely possible to knit that you did not make yourself they tend to get a bit disappointed in you. I once had a lace shawl, a mystery KAL from way back, can't remember who did it but it was one that ended up being a Swan Lake theme, if you know what I'm on about, leave a comment. Anyhow, it was a lot of work, and I was rather proud of myself. I was wearing said shawl at a work gathering, and chatting with a gaggle of coworkers (non-knitters every last on of them) when one of them said "And of course you made that shawl" in a tone that suggested everyone was tired of hearing that I made things, but I hadn't even been the one to mention it. As if to say "Yes yes, you made that. Its very lovely and probably took you a lot of time and effort. We are all sick of hearing how talented you are, would you shut up about yourself already. The rest of us do stuff too, you know. I have read a great many books, and I don't see why that should be any less impressive, but you don't see me showing off about it." Now this coworker is a lovely person, and I am sure he did not mean it to sound like that, but it did sound like that or at least it did to me. Maybe to someone who has less of a constant impression that nobody cares what you have to say it might have sounded better, but he wasn't talking to one of those people. 

   Anyways, here are my socks. They are quite lovely, and they took me a long time. The pattern is Hedera by CookieA, though I modified the toe and heel to fit my personal preferences. The yarn is Stricken Smitten Sinful Sock in Scheherazade's Sky, which came from the CookieA Sock Club

   I started these socks because I wanted to have some knitting that matched my wedding colour scheme. I know that's a little nuts, but if you're not going a little nuts before your wedding you probably aren't doing it right. 

In case you though I was cheating, and calling one sock of the pair done, you can see both of them here. 

Monday, 5 May 2014

Shawl Collar

   Throughout our relationship I frequently reminded Alex that I couldn't knit him a sweater because of the boyfriend sweater curse. I made him socks several times, but I couldn't do a sweater. It just wasn't worth the risk. After we had been dating a while I started to hint that if we were married, of course, the curse would no longer apply. I even shortened my reminder to no ring, no sweater. Well about a year and a half ago he handed me a little blue box with a ring inside, and for his wedding present I promised him a sweater. I also knew him well enough to know that he would be picky, so I didn't dare try and knit one in secret. I told him he could pick the pattern, then I would knit the sweater.

   After we got back from the honeymoon he went onto Ravelry and picked out a sweater. Of course it was a Brooklyn Tweed pattern, Hugo to be precise. So of course this pattern has to start with a tubular cast on, which I must admit creates a lovely edge, but is a pain in the butt. It is also knit in pieces, something I have been avoiding like the plague since my discovery of the top down seamless sweater. Occasionally I will do a bottom up seamless sweater, but completely separate pieces, with sewing to do afterwards, I guess I really love this guy.

    The one problem Alex had with the sweater was the neck. Rather, he thought the neck on it was ok, but he really wanted a shawl collar. My first thought was, a shawl collar would be simple. I just leave a rectangle shaped hole in the neck, knit a piece of ribbing the right length and seam it down. Piece of cake. But then I looked more closely at on of his favourite shawl collared sweaters, well it had some shaping involved. The collar grew wider as you went from the bottom towards the shoulders, and the ribbed collar piece got wider to fill in the gap, but it also got wider still in order to be able to fold over. So here is what I did:

At the spot where I wanted the collar to start I took the middle 14 sts of the centre panel and on a WS row I knit them making a ridge to mark the edge of the collar. On the next row, when I got to those 14 sts I worked 14 knit front and backs and stopped the row there. I put every alternate st from the 14 knit front backs on a holder with the sts from the unworked side of the front. I continued working the 14 sts in rib, and increasing the rib section by 1 st every RS row. On every 4th row I decreased one stitch on the edge of the rib section, so that the rib moved further away from the centre. When the front was long enough I did the shoulder shaping to match the back, leaving the rib sts live. I kept knitting the rib without increasing until it reached halfway across the back of the neck. I then did the same for the other side reversing the shaping. I grafted the two pieces of rib together, not a perfect grafting in rib specimen, but pretty good. I think all in all the effect is pretty much exactly what I was going for. Check it out:
Here you can see the ridge I made to mark the bottom of the collar:
There is the whole thing, along with my messy worktable.

The yarn is Madelinetosh DK in Whiskey Barrel. 

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Sneak Preview: Mrs. Jardine

   I am very excited to tell you guys about my newest pattern that will be released very soon. I am just waiting for my boyfriend fiancĂ© husband (someday I will get used to that) to finalize a few more photos. But here is a preview for you guys:

   This sweater is a prime example of necessity as the mother of invention. The yarn store where I work, Passionknit, had just four skeins left of this gorgeous purple yarn (Madelinetosh DK in Vishnu). So I decided that I needed to come up with a sweater that would only take me four skeins. Of course the best way to make sure I had enough was to use a fabric that was very open. I picked out one of my favourite lace patterns, grabbed a needle one size larger than the yarn called for and got to work. The product was a loose open sweater that makes a great lightweight top for Spring. I hope you will like it as much as I do.

   While I knit the sweater out of a wool, it would also look great in a cotton or bamboo blend. Something even lighter would make it perfect for the warm months to come, though its hard to believe the crazy winter we have had in Toronto this year will ever loosen its grasp on us. We can only hope, and knit.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Day Four

This was a big day for us; we were going to do something we never really do: exercise. One of the first activities Alex suggested for our trip was going on a bike tour across the Golden Gate Bridge. This made me nervous for a couple of reasons. 1) I don't like heights and the Golden Gate Bridge looks like this:

2) We don't bike. I haven't been on a bike in years. This is not to say that I was afraid I had forgotten how, the statement "its like riding a bike" didn't come from nowhere. But I knew I would not be good at it. In addition to being tall that bridge is also long. I had a feeling this was going to prove to be a challenge for me stamina-wise. In addition the idea of a tour, where we were biking with other people made that whole bit worse. The idea that I might be out of breath, trying to keep up only to get to the rest spot to find a bunch of grumpy in shape people who were already bored of waiting for me by the time I got there never mind letting me catch my breath before we all moved on to the next part where I would quickly fall behind once again. I imagined them saying things like "Oh the Jardines are behind again, guess we will have to wait some more" in exasperated tones.

3) These tours are pricey, and the idea of doing something that made me nervous was one thing, but spending a bunch of money on it was adding insult to injury.

 But it was the one thing Alex really really really wanted to do. Now my cousin had been to San Francisco with his wife, and when he heard we were going the one bit of advice he gave me was if you bike over the Golden Gate Bridge take a tour. They had gone on their own and gotten very lost. They almost didn't make it in time to catch the ferry that takes you back to the city. Now my lack of physical fitness is second only to my complete and utter lack of a sense of direction. So I knew if a normal person got lost, I pretty much had no chance of getting there. So I was ready to listen to his advice, and spring for the tour, mostly.

   So Alex and I walked down to the water a bit after breakfast, and walked up to the first bike rental booth we saw. The young gentleman there was extremely friendly. He said his company did not offer tours, but that it was a very easy route to follow, and he would give us a map and walk us through it before we left. We were convinced. After all, I thought, I had Alex with me, and his sense of direction is actually very good. We also figured we had our iPhones, and in an emergency we could turn on roaming data and use the gps to find out way. I honestly don't know how I ever successfully arrived anywhere before turn by turn directions. So off we went.

   It was a long ride, and getting up to the bridge was super difficult. I wimped out and walked my bike a few times going up those hills. But it was nowhere near as hard as I thought it would be. And though the bridge was very tall, it didn't seem as scary as I thought it would. We made it to Sausalito, walked around for a while, and then caught the ferry back to San Francisco with time to spare. In the end this was my favourite day of the trip.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Remember Knitting...

  I originally thought this blog would be about knitting, not just an excellent chance to journal about my trip. So here is what I have been working on: a sweater for my husband, my wedding present to him and some socks. 

Pattern: Hugo by Veronik Avery
Yarn: Madelinetosh DK in Whiskey Barrel

Pattern: Hedera by CookieA with minor modifications for lengths and toe.
Yarn: Stricken Smitten Sinful Sock in Scheherezade's Sky
(this was from 2012 CookieA sock club)

   The sweater is turning out great. I even went whole hog, and did the tubular cast on the pattern recommends, which is a pain in the behind, but also makes a very nice edge. I will say that since this pattern is done in pieces, working back and forth for the tubular cast on was much easier than doing it in the round. I just found the hole thing less confusing. I will be modifying the sleeves for in the round anyways; I love the guy but there is only so much seaming I am willing to tolerate. 

   The socks are pretty. I started them just before the wedding because I wanted something simple but not boring in a colour that went with my colour scheme. The picture above is not a great representation of colour, but they are more purple than blue. The yarn came from the CookieA sock club, and I didn't want to make the patterns that went with that shipment. So I thought doing another CookieA pattern would be thematic. 

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Day III Drive

    So I can't commit to a numbering scheme, I like variety anyways...

   One of the things Alex was most looking forward to was driving along the California coastline. So we rented a Ford Mustang, which apparently are all rental cars. And we drove twisty roads that had giant cliffs off the side and no guard rails even on the bridges. I was a wreck the entire time, and if it weren't for the few breaks we took to admire the scenery and take photos I probably would have passed out. But the pictures were gorgeous!


   But before we got to these twisty roads of death and the lovely vistas, we headed to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. As we were driving through a mostly residential area, I suddenly cried out "Yarn Store!" like a sailor calling out "Land!" I hadn't been in a yarn store in over a week through all our crazy planning and wedding stuff. Fortunately Alex knew exactly whom he had married, and without argument or question he found a place to park. 
   The Twisted Stitch is a lovely little shop. We found some lovely hand dyed sock yarn, some of which came home with me and some ended up as a gift for my maid of honour. 

   Pictures a little fuzzy, but one of those skeins is already gone, so thats the only one with all three. Then we went to the aquarium. There were some really great tanks with fish and sharks and jellies, but my favourite was this guy:

   He moved around quite a bit. It was awesome. 

Monday, 31 March 2014

Day 2 - St. Patrick's Day

   Bit of trivia for you: I was due on St Patrick's Day, and that is why I am named Patti. The other name my parents were considering for a girl was Clair, so I am eternally grateful to St Patrick. (Say Clair Waters out loud, yeah that would never get old.)

   Our big adventure for the day was going to the California Academy of Sciences, which was way more awesome than it sounds. The main attraction there was this huge rainforest exhibit that was filled with plants and birds and butterflies all open and flying around you. We saw this guy:

  There were also lots of creatures on display in smaller terrariums (terraria? if you took latin you know thats right) like these guys:

We also went on a bit of a shopping expedition, and rode the old fashioned trolley on the way back. We were totally holding onto the sides for dear life as the trolley rocketed down the steep streets of San Francisco. It was fun, but a bit scary at times!

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Day One

   If the success of a marriage was based on the number of people that offered their well wishes, congratulations, and general positive energy, Alex and I would be set. The number of people who have taken the time to send positive messages our way has been staggering. I know I am not the first to say this, but knitters are good people. I wish I could address some heartfelt thank you's to each and every message that has come my way, but I think my fingers would fall off from all the typing. Also, when would I have time to knit? So I hope that many of you will find my thank you here, and I will continue to regale you about our honeymoon.

   We arrived in San Francisco very late the day after our wedding. We checked in at the hotel, and collapsed. In the morning we got up bright and early, something we do not usually do but 3 hours of jet lag that makes what feels like 11am actually turn out to be 8am will do that to a person. We had decided that our first day here would be for exploration only. We would not commit to any particular plan or activity, allowing us a break to just relax and take it all in.

   We found a beach!

   A little history: I grew up in Massachusetts, and my father grew up on the island of Martha's Vineyard, long before it was a popular tourist destination. Shortly before I was born my parents bought a small plot of land in Edgartown and built a little house. They hired an electrician and a plumber, but the majority of the work they did themselves. All this is to say that I grew up spending every summer on Martha's Vineyard, but not in the tax bracket you might imagine would align with such a childhood. I love the ocean, and living in Toronto I miss it terribly. People make a big fuss about this lake we have, but its not the same. Nothing smells like the ocean. Even this ocean, which is not the ocean I grew up with, filled the little hole in my heart that gets bigger every time I hear the word beach used in reference to a lakeside sandbar. 

   So we found a beach, a real ocean beach. It smelled like the beach. I immediately removed my shoes and put my toes in the water. There is nothing on this earth that feels quite as right to me as sand between my toes and ocean waves lapping at my heels. Eventually Alex pried me away from the water, and we walked around some more. 

   In the afternoon we took a ferry tour of the bay, and we spent the evening wandering around the tourist trap of Fisherman's Wharf. All in all it was a great day, nothing too involved and a leisurely pace. Very relaxing. 

Tuesday, 25 March 2014


I was wondering where I should start, and it hit me, the beginning, duh. Just over five years ago I moved to Canada to get my MA in psychology. I was following my undergraduate thesis advisor, and didn't know anyone else in Canada when I moved. Of course I met people at school, but I knew I needed to find my tribe, the knitters. Shortly after arriving and getting more or less settled, I signed on to Ravelry and looked for local knitting groups. The closest one I found was in a coffee shop at the centre of town, so I showed up one night. I ended up meeting that night the man who would be my husband, the woman who would be my maid of honour and the man who would be my husband's best man. That night I realized I would be ok here in Canada, I had found the people who could make this place feel like home. Here they are:
Emily, with knitting, a coffee, and her cell phone. That's her. (Maid of honour)

 Joel, I think he's got a cat there. It might be my Steven. Apparently we never photographed Joel much, cause thats the only picture I could find. (Best man)
And this is my Alex. Yup he knit that sweater himself. Sorry, ladies, he is taken! (Pattern is from a Patons classic booklet, and yarn is Patons Canadiana)

And just to be fair, here is a picture of me from back then as well. (That's a Rogue Hoodie I am wearing out of Cascade Sierra.)

Monday, 24 March 2014


   Before leaving on my honeymoon I thought I would do a little something for Ravelry to celebrate. I thought I would make all of my patterns free to download, and then maybe a few people would notice and I would see a few more projects from my designs on Ravelry. I never would have predicted one tenth of the response this promotion got!

The first few days I would periodically look at my phone, and see another one or two download emails. Then this happened:

Thankfully I was on wifi at this moment. If we had purchased a travel pack of data, and I had used most of it up receiving these emails my new husband would not have been impressed. But our hotel had free wifi, so I wasn't worried. What was worrisome was that receiving this many emails made impossible for me to find any of my personal emails, and it was beginning to crash my poor little phone. I set up a new email for my patterns, and set it up so that all the download emails went there.

So glad I did that because by the end of this promotion several of my patterns had over 18,000 downloads! What was even better was that my inbox was still getting flooded, not with the automatically send emails but with messages from knitters saying thank you and with lovely wishes for my honeymoon ands marriage. From the volume of messages I received on Ravelry, in my email, and now they were coming to my new email as well I would estimate that 1 out of every 10 people who downloaded my patterns either wrote to me directly, commented on one of my patterns, or linked my profile in a discussion thread on Ravelry. One out of every ten!

   So I decided that when I got home I would start blogging. Over the next few days I will be answering some of the frequently asked questions in your messages and telling you a bit more about my honeymoon and myself. The first thing I want to say to you all is thank you. Thank you for downloading, thank you for messaging, thank you for your many wishes of happiness etc, and thank you for knitting!