Rain Rain Go Away – July Update

“Go with the flow. Force nothing. Let it happen, or not happen…trusting that whichever way it goes, it’s for the best”

– Mandy Hale
A girl picks up a crab at the edge of the water
Now that the rainy weather has finally stopped (for now?!)…we’ve been busy making friends at the beach πŸ˜‰

Here in Nova Scotia, we went from worrisome dry weather to worrisome wet weather. Although the wet means no more forest fires, us gardeners know how devastating the constant rain has been on our gardens. It was really nice (and exciting!) to haul a large harvest of garlic scapes. I was beginning to wonder if I’d get anything out of the garden this season.

Now that we’ve had a stretch of sunny days there is hope the garden will recover! It also means it’s time to get back to work out there.

A large basket full of freshly harvested garlic scapes

Since I’ve been stuck indoors after weeks of rain you’d think I’d get tons done in the studio, but nope. I’m trying to update all my current designs or at least take fresh new photos, but I’m totally stuck especially when it comes to my engraving designs. I wanted to have several necklaces revamped or at least freshly photographed but I can’t seem to get any traction creatively there.

So I’ve just been going with the flow, allowing myself to feel out my projects even though the responsible side of me is screaming: YOU SHOULD BE RE-DOING THOSE PIECES! I should know by now that creativity cannot be forced.

What’s New (or rather returning)

Nevertheless I have the final revamped stitch markers listed, and with a little luck I can get into the necklace revamp this month.

Several stitch markers have gotten a fresh new look and as mentioned last month, I’m trying to vary up the amount in each set so to cover a wide range of prices/budgets.

More Info on the Different Sets

The Must Love cats series is now available under one listing, with 3 sets to choose from. The charms are paired with fun dyed fossil and Mother-of- Pearl beads, with a small discount if you buy two or three. There is a discount on Etsy if you buy all three.

My original Knitting Bling – AKA the first set of stitch markers I ever made – is now available in 2 types. The original extra large slip on ring are paired with dyed mother of pearl rondelles. Something about the combination reminded me of dyed roving, so I thought it would be a good upgrade. The clip-on option however, is paired with dyed fossil beads. Also available in my Etsy shop.

I’ve revamped the Snowflake sets to a smaller set of 4 instead of 8. Available in silver or gold, also on Etsy. These charms make great little embellishments on handmade cards and gifts, too.

A Thing for Shoes is now known as A Shoe for Every Occasion, now a mini-set of 3 and paired with freshwater pearls. Check it out also on Etsy.

Also now a mini-set of 3 is O Christmas Tree. These would also be cute on gifts and cards (in fact, I originally bought these charms for this reason). See them here on Etsy as well.

What I’m Working On

I finished a few knitting projects last month, including the thrummed mittens and slip stitch hat started last month.

Thrummed Mittens: Super warm and Cozy

The thrummed mittens were really fun to make – only I was reminded that I really hate making cuff down mittens (!!) – probably for the same reason I dislike making cuff down socks. I really dislike Kitchener Stitching…I always seem to have to fuss with the tensioning to get it to look just right.

Besides that, I simply prefer to start out my socks and mittens from the fingers/toes up. There is something so satisfying of having that section finished and watching the project evolve in this manner. It feels…more “finished” to me this way and thus I am motivated to keep going. I know that probably doesn’t make sense but that’s my brain for you!

In the case of socks, I like that you can stop when you run out of yarn at the leg instead of being stuck with an unfinished toe. I also know several stretchy bind offs so starting in the opposite direction is more appealing to me. I know that doesn’t work for every pattern, but this is just my preference.

I’m curious to see if I can reverse engineer the thrummed mittens pattern to start from the finger tips down, so that is on my to-do list to try… πŸ™‚

Slip Stitch Hat – still a work in progress

The slip stitch hat I started from scratch (sans pattern) is technically done….but I don’t like the crown decrease. I tried 3 different styles of decreases and disliked every single one. So I didn’t weave in the ends yet in case a want to frog it back for a 4th time. Trust me: it may sit around for months but it’s most likely I will be deconstructing this in the future.

I’m picky with my hat decreases. I’m not a fan of the heavily gathered look, but trying to avoid that made this hat rather flat at top which I don’t like either. Yes. I’m fussy! It’s from years of jewelry design where I expect the pieces to hang. just. right. So when I knit I tend to have the same…fussiness. πŸ˜‰

Take the other hat in the photo, for instance. That hat started out as a slouchy hat pattern free from the internet. I liked how it worked up until I realized the top pretty much had that draw string look. So, I combed through my collection of hat patterns until I found a crown decrease I liked. I need to do the same for the slip stitch hat, I think.

Weaving Dishcloths

My first time weaving cotton dishcloths. There is 6 in total here fresh off the loom before they were finished/separated

I love to knit and crochet dishcloths instead of buying them, and using cotton or bamboo yarn instead of synthetic fibers. Since I got my little SampleIt loom I’ve been really curious about making dishcloths. After finishing yet another wool panel in handspun yarn I decided to put that project on pause to start making dishcloths.

I’m using No. 10 crochet thread for the warp and commercial cotton yarn (smooth and scrubby) for the weft. I finally got to try out my laceweight reed! I thought the first bunch was…okay. I’ve decided for the next bunch to keep the cotton thread weft doubled and…oh my: now we’re talking!

weaving on a table top loom
Second round of cotton dishcloths on the loom. This is really pretty, but the low light doesn’t show it off well. Do you like my crooked spacer, that the cat bumped?? LOL

For this new set I decided to go with 2 different colors for the warp. The weft is a commercial cotton yarn I hand dyed. The contrast really works, and I love the asymmetrical contrast colors of the warp. I’m going to use the basic hemstitch at the start and finish of each dishcloth. I had my oldest zig-zag sew the edges with the sewing machine on the scrubbies since they were much thinner than these, but I think we’d need to upgrade to a surger to have the ends finished correctly.

Swing Chair Macrame, Part 2

Last month I mentioned that I was working to restore 2 old swing chairs by spray painting with Rust-Oleum and then re-stringing with crochet hooks and macrame cord. The first one I finished, but the second one sat outside half done due to all the torrential rain of the past month. I finally got fed up and asked the Hubs if he could help me bring it into the studio. In a comfy environment, I finished it in an afternoon!

First I decided to remove the original first pass with the white macrame cord. I found the way I did the first chair caused too much sag in the seat, which I disliked. So I decided to to the weave on the seat part only, and only the verticle portion of the weave on the back, separately. I also switched to navy and tan cord which I love! It matched the chair cushion I luckily found online beautifully.

Peanut enjoyed the work in progress, while Osuna was caught enjoying the the final product! πŸ™‚

The second chair turned out so much nicer than the first, I think I will bring chair number 1 inside and re-do it. I know I won’t be able to help myself… πŸ˜‰

I’m off to enjoy more summer. Until next time…

Leilani signature

April Showers….in June (an update)

β€œEmpathy is really the opposite of spiritual meanness. It’s the capacity to understand that every war is both won and lost. And that someone else’s pain is as meaningful as your own.”

– Barbara Kingsolver

It’s been raining pretty steadily here for the past few days. I figured now is a good time for a monthly update. Here in Nova Scotia we’ve had some devastating wildfires in parts of the province. Although this is nowhere near me, I live in the woods and thus, it is a concern for us every summer in the dry weather.

My heart goes out to those who have lost their homes and pets. I hope that others in this province will tone down the rhetoric and stop lashing out and pointing fingers at people who are no different than you. As an empath, mass blame and hysteria saddens me. I know there is a better way to process our feelings and fears. These attitudes are exactly why I finally left social media in 2020.

With that said, let me catch you up on what I have been working on this past month:

What’s New

Although outdoor chores and gardening have been taking up much of my time, I’m still working on updating my product photos and adding short videos to all the listings. With that comes revamping and I’m now done the stitch marker section. I’m editing the final photos and will be listing the final revamped products throughout this month. Here’s the newest since my last blog update:

I have a few sets on hold while I wait for some new supplies to arrive. One thing I have done is varied the amount you get from set to set to hopefully cover all price brackets (smaller sets coming soon!). Check out stitch markers in the knitting bling and crochet bling sections, or the yarn/fiber/stitch bling section on Etsy.

What I’m working On

Frankly, I’m bored with the same old thing. Simple hats, simple socks, working on a blanket…I’m ready to expand my knitting (and crochet!) skills. As I’ve said before, I’m a spinner, not a knitter. I enjoy to knit and crochet, but the only time I have to do it is late at night when I’m winding down, or when I’m out waiting for my kids from one of their activities.

For that reason, I tend to stick with really simple patterns that I don’t need much brain cells for. I consider myself a intermediate knitter in knowledge, but really only and advanced beginner in practice. It’s time to put all this knowledge in my head to good use! I’ve been reviewing Interweave videos that I purchased over the years and also bought a few more during a sale recently. I love to have a visual aid that I can refer to over and over.

A Free-hand Slip Stitch Hat…from 1.5 years ago (!!)

I had the idea to make a hat from this easy slip stitch patterning using two colors. I’m just going for it and tweaking as I go, sans pattern. I used to make all my hats this way. The positive is the freedom of not having to follow the pattern, and I love the challenge of feeling how the hat should ultimately look. The negative is I can’t replicate the hat again if I like it.

So this time, I am trying to take more detailed notes so that I can make another hat just like it again. If I like it, I just might include the pattern here on the blog. Like I said, this is a very easy succession of stitches.

Project Delayed

Here’s the thing: I started this hat during December break…2021! And this is the state it has stayed in 1.5 years. I picked it up again the other night and, seeing that it was almost midnight and my eyelids were getting heavy, I screwed it up pretty much right away! It pained me to put it down until the next night. I hate knowing there is a mistake in my knitting and not taking care of it right away. Hats off (pun intended) to all you knitwear designers: I can’t even seem to handle a simple hat…! :/

Shaping the crown will be the most challenging with the colorwork patterning. I may do the top of the hat in the solid dark grey color (which is a handspun superwash merino I hand dyed intentionally with light and dark patches). Hopefully, I will have a update (and finished hat!) for next month’s update.

Thrummed Mittens

Thrummed mittens: a great way to use up bits of my hand dyed roving

I’ve been aware of thrummed mittens since getting a pair as a gift many moons ago (long before I ever had any interest in knitting). Only when I started knitting did I learn that they were called “thrummed”, and as a Maritimer, I should have known this style hails from Newfoundland & Labrador.

I never had any interest in making thrummed mittens, because I revere my hand dyed roving for spinning. However, I’m amassing a lot of leftover bits and pieces of top from spinning projects. So recently I thought, time to make some thrummed mittens and use up some of these bits!

This style of mitten is so super warm and I’m having fun making this pair. I’ve actually caught up the second mitt to this one, because like socks I hate having to start making its pair from scratch. Knitting two at a time makes it less daunting. I prefer to use super short DPNs (aka shorties) for my socks and mittens.

Another Great Use for my hand dyed top

It occured to me while making the thrummed mittens that this would be another great reason to by my hand dyed tops. At approx. 4oz per braid, that’s a lot of thrummed mittens for your friends and family. I developed these braids with felters and spinners in mind, but now I could also add knitters to that list.

Lengthening the first sweater I ever made

This is the first sweater I ever made, and I realize that a crop is not for me so I’m in the process of lengthening it

I made this sweater with some of the first handspun I ever made. The dark brown sections are alpaca that I processed from raw, then spun to merino top I hand dyed. I wanted a way to preserve this yarn, but honestly I was more into finishing this sweater than making it wearable. So, I’ve removed the ribbing and am currently making it longer, as I have some of this yarn left. I’ll report back once it’s completed. I have a feeling this one may sit around for awhile. One round on a sweater, even a bulky one, takes so much longer than a hat! πŸ™‚

Outdoor Projects

Staining 7 Colorful Wooden Chairs

Before all this rain we had a run of sunny days that I took advantage of to get to some neglected outdoor projects completed. The biggest project was re-staining these colorful Adirondack style chairs which are handmade here in Nova Scotia. After 7 years they were really looking worse for wear. Amazing what a fresh coat (or two or three) of stain can do!

I wish I had before and afters but I made the painting area a no-technology zone. It was nice to unplug and just listen to the birds, the bees and soak up a bit of sun. I thrive with a little alone time, just nature and my thoughts, barefoot to do some grounding. With seven chairs in total I aimed for 1 chair a day and it took me about 2 weeks between rest time for my sore back and rain delays.

Macrame Upcycle old Swing Chairs

We’ve owned these swing chairs since we owned our very first house 16 years ago. Recently, the fabric finally let go. The metal is still in good shape and they glide fine, so I spray painted them grey with Rustoleum. The metal was a dark brown color originally. I bought two huge cones of macrame thread online. There are many videos on how to do this on Youtube, and having crochet experience was definitely a plus.

I found cushions online exactly the size of the chair (what luck!) and I think these will be comfy and cozy. One is already completed, I’ll get a pic next month when it’s not so dark and grey out. We haven’t even gotten the chance to try it out yet with all this rain.

Surprise parsnips

Last season I planted parsnip seeds in a bed that gets little sun. The trees have certainly encroached the space over the years. They never came up so I planned on ripping that bed out this spring. Wasn’t I surprised when I noticed a row of green popping out of the bed! I look forward to roasting these with carrots and honey.

Here I am sitting in my car waiting for one of my children to finish their activity. After a walk around the neighborhood, it’s knitting time! πŸ™‚

Until next time, I wish you much compassion & creativity,

Leilani signature