Friday, 23 November 2007

Sweet Paprika in Cold Canada

A bit of back-blogging here... This time two weeks ago I was in Montreal for an academic conference. It was actually my second but the first where I've given a paper. I'm glad to say that my presentation went down really well, thanks in no small part I'm sure to Mr Boogie Woogie Piggy Wiggy, the handsome little fellow you can see examining my notes in the photo. He has been a work mascot since around 2002 so he definitely had to come to witness such an important professional occasion. Since I'm 26 not 6, he did stay in the hotel room rather than coming in my pocket to the conference floor, but he was with me in spirit!
After a couple of days in Montreal I travelled down to Ottawa with my friend Elizabeth. We meet a few years ago at the Foyles knitting group, and Elizabeth, ever the demon knitter is now taking her crafting to a new level. Not only is she pattern editing professionally but she and her sisters have also launched Sweet Paprika Designs.

They have a range of patterns and kits but my favourite bit is the lovely hand dyed yarn. I passed a happy 10 minutes on the Sunday morning photographing some of their stock. This is the 100% merino range called Messa di Voce.

This is the silk and merino blend, Dolce. I think the rich colours are just gorgeous.

And finally hand dyed, self-striping sock yarn!

Unfortunately the light wasn't great and the colours look a bit dull (you can see truer colours on their website). I've tended to avoid buying self-patterning sock yarn because I'm not keen on the jacquard look that most of them have, but this yarn is properly self-striping. This is a close up of the sample sock Elizabeth was working on.

And, as if seeing my friends and being fed lovely home cooked meals wasn't enough, Elizabeth kindy gave me two skeins as a birthday present! I chose the purple colorway of the sock yarn and here they are back at home with me.

Thanks again to Elizabeth, Paul and her sisters and cousin for such a lovely stay! I can't wait to go back when it's cold enough to ice skate!

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Miles' Noro Hat

I made this hat as an anniversary gift for Miles last month. I hadn't been able to photograph it until this weekend due to the aforementioned camera problem. These pictures were taken on the camera phone so they're not great but they'll do! The hat is made from a lovely, lovely Noro yarn which I bought from Angela at a yarn swap/sale hosted by Adrienne. It's called Cash Laine and is 60% wool, 20% cashmere and 20% lamb's wool (sadly, having done a quick online search, it looks like it might not be made any more). The grey colourway (#22) is rather un-Noro but works great for a man knit. The pattern is adapted from the Marsan Watchcap by Staceyjoy Elkin, and was worked on 5mm needles over 104 stitches.

Miles is really pleased with the hat (an improvement on the last one I made him two years ago which was an excessively tight skull-cap type beanie with mixed weight yarns and poor gauge - I feel my knitting has improved since then!). The reason I chose this pattern for him is he likes a cuff which he can adjust, depending on the cold, and this has an extra deep turn up. One feature of this pattern I really liked was that the twisted rib is maintained throughout: thanks to a bit of jiggery-pokery on the circulars, the whole hat is turned inside-out after the cuff so that when turned up the cuff and hat body match. I also think the decreases look really smart, and because the twisted rib has lots of stitch definition, you can see them in action!

Angela told me today that she got some more of the Cash Laine to do another jumper so I hope if she has any left-overs she passes them my way! Finally, a camera update - having researched duty free and found it to be stupidly expensive, I gave in and bought a new Samsung from Comet (one of the few times living right next to a retail park pays off!) so at least normal photo quality can be restored with the next post.
Oh, and one last thing - does anyone have any good yarn shop recommendations for Montreal or Ottawa as I'm off to Canada on Thursday?

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Mobile blogging

This is a picture of some lovely handspun Noel gave me and which may become something christmassy. I took the photo with my new phone and sent it and the blog post direct from my mobile! I'm feeling pretty 21st century today!

Radio Silence...

Apologies for the complete lack of activity over here - I have been mourning the sad loss of my camera. I took it to Brighton where I photographed my friend Becca looking lovely in the head scarf I made her, as well as a couple of her beating her monkey pinata. Then, in my eagerness to stuff my early birthday pressie into my bag, I promptly left my camera behind. I know for a fact that the camera made it as far as another friend's bag when she prepared to return to London the following day but unfortunately all that could be found once she got home was the post-it note with my name on that had been stuck on the camera case. Boo! It wasn't a particularly smart camera but it was quite new and cost £80. I've been umming and ahhing about how and when to replace it and have currently hit on the idea of buying one in duty free when I got to Canada for work next week (it seems that the prices in Canada are comparable to here unfortunately so no bargains to be had - why can't I be going to a conference in the US with the 2-1 exchange rate?!)

There has been good, if unphotographed, crafty activity going on - I knitted a new hat for Miles for our anniversary last week which I'm happy to say he is really pleased with. I will take a piccie as soon as I can. I'm also in the process of deciding what to make for Xmas pressies but I can't really discuss that here in case the recipients happen to stop by!

And the final irony of the camera saga - with the good weather we've had over the last couple of days the light has been so much better so I could have been taking lovely photos. I think the short term solution is to play with my new CyberShot mobile phone today and see what 3.2 mega pixels can accomplish!