Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Christmas Knitting Frenzy

Hi All!

So I said in my previous post that I would check back after Christmas...but I really need to get this off my chest. I am once again in a Christmas knitting frenzy.

Last year, I had just started up my Little Cowl Co, and was so swamped with orders I was pulling all nighters, knitting at red lights, stuck in traffic etc. It was horrible. I even brought my knitting to a bar on a Friday night because I had deadlines. This year has calmed down a bit, but I am still on a December 24th deadline for three projects.

The first is a simple cowl - I'm using Mirasol Miski in dye lot 77315 - a lovely blue with red undertones. It's worsted weight, and I'm used to bulky, so I'm hoping to get this done within an evening of Christmas specials.

The second, a gift for a friend's daughter is the most adorable cowl/hood pattern ( I haven't started, and will be seeing them next week. I will be knitting it in a lovely alpaca/wool/acrylic blend with two medium size wood buttons to finish. I was almost done when I had to frog the entire thing (I misread the hood pattern, and got so frusterated that I decided to start fresh and calm). I think I THINK this can get done in three evenings. One for the neck portion, one for the hood portion, one for the ears, seams, button, weaving etc.

The third is the stressful one. It's a surprise Christmas gift for my boyfriend is the New York Scarf ( I chose Illimani Yarn Baby Llama in the most interesting shade of grey/brown. It looks grey beside grey and brown beside brown. It's super soft, but for a worsted weight, it feel and knits up more like a DK. I'm 6 inches in, and have 59 inches left to go. I timed my rows, and I average about 2 mins 45 secs per row. This leaves me approximately 21 hours of knitting left to do. Doesn't seem like much, you say? Over the 12 days left until Christmas Eve, that leaves me about 2 hours a day of knitting. Did I mention that I do actually have contact with my boyfriend, meaning the scarf has to go on the backburner while he's around. This equates to me being screwed.

So, those are my three knitting dilemmas. Help. Me.

Signing off and saying a little prayer that I get it all done and have some amount of sanity left over,

Little Miss Cowl Co.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Swap...chocolate edition!

Happy two-weeks till Christmas!

Recently I decided to participate in another swap, all through (hands down my favourite website in the whole world). It was with the "Caffeine Addicts" group again - since  coffee is truly the most beautiful gift one can give and receive. It is the gift that keeps on giving. It is relief on an early morning, comfort in frustrating's basically the drinkable equivalent to a hug.

I didn't have a lot of time to prepare for the swap - as we had about two weeks to make and ship our packages, and I was in the middle of preparing for a HUGE artisan show here in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). I made my tried and tested comfy squishy cowl in a lovely alpaca, wool and acrylic blend yarn from Italy. I had a bit of leftover, and decided to make a matching coffee traveller mug cozy in the same material and pattern (I thought it would be a mini-me cowl!).

Based on some quick questions to my swap partner, I chose a lovely hand-dyed New Zealand wool in jewel/autumn tones, some Italian chocolate (I'm biased to my own, if I'm gonna be honest here), and some tasty coffee. Here is the link to the picture of what I sent..

Now, let's get serious. What I got in return was INSANE. Just ridiculously luxurious and thoughtful and downright spectacular. Let's start with the top left and work our way clockwise. Sit down, if you're not already. This is gonna get good.

YARN. Kettle dyed, sustainably produced chunky yarn. I'm not sharing, nor am I knitting something for someone else with this. Next, Amish Pumpkin butter. It's almost gone. I made scones. Beside that is probably the second best coffee that has ever touched my lips. Second of course to some coffee truck on Wall Street a few years ago, but that's besides the point. Next (you're looking at the centre-right now), is lots of chocolate, pretty little tissue pack, and a card describing everything. Bottom right, you're looking at my very own pair of Raccoon fingerless mitts, tails and everything. I am currently obsessed, and wearing them now since it's pretty cold in this office of mine. Bottom centre, Chocolate cook book. My boyfriend will be happy, since I have made it my life's mission to prepare every single thing in that book. Last but definitely not least, a local magazine from St. Louis, Missouri. 

If you, dear reader, are a knitter or crocheter, and not currently on, I highly recommend it. Not only do you get to interact with fellow crafters', but you get the opportunity to participate in so many different things, help with patterns, yarns, stores, and well, it's just paradise.

I'm off for now, I will check back after Christmas and keep you all updated on my Knitting Group Swap and other knitting adventures I find myself in!

Signing off,

Little Miss Cowl Co.

Friday, 16 November 2012

I'm back!

Good morning my darling followers!

I once heard the first rule about blogs: Don't start one if you can't maintain it. Well, I wouldn't say I haven't maintained it...just that I took a little hiatus.

My last post was in May, so I will catch all of you up on my knitting, travelling and general life in order to give you an idea of why I have seemingly abandoned you.

I took off to Italy for a few weeks. I found the most lovely yarn while there...granted I had to hunt for it and didn't find what I was looking for...but I had fun in the process. Upon returning, I discovered that some yarn companies in North America have mimicked some of the yarn I found (that I thought was exclusive to Europe). It's all good, I have lots of material to play with.

When I returned, I began preparing for the madness of fall/winter. I know full-well the impact of last minute orders and Christmas shopping for people, so I thought I would get a head start on it. Who doesn't love working with chunky wool in 43 C sunshine!?

I participated in the Binder Twine Festival - a local artisan fair held in early September. I must have over-predicted my success, because I prepared almost 75 cowls...and sold 16. Granted, it was rainy and windy and overall John-Mayer-listening-sitting-on-the-couch-sipping-tea-and-knitting weather, but I stuck it out. My entire summer was dedicated to preparing the cowls and moving into my new digs.

After Binder Twine was over and I managed to slightly slightly recoup, I was offered a last-minute booth at a private high school homecoming. It was great: football game, coffee stand, artisans and school spirit. I felt like I was in a movie! The weather was nicer, sunnier and a little crisp - perfect cowl weather!

I admit - I took a little break from mass-cowl-knitting for a while. I wanted to start and finish some personal knitting...of which included a few cowls for myself, a vest, and gifts.

Then...the madness ensued again. I decided to apply to another local artisan fair - the Vaughan of a Kind. It's a lovely annual show held in November. Admission is free, it's right around the corner from Christmas, and showcases a wide variety of talent. I then fell into my little trap of "oh, I have lots of cowls". In orange, and pink and purple and green. Past has taught me that people are not usually as adventurous as I am - people want cream, grey, brown and black cowls. Which I sold out of.

So, my little fingers and arms have been knitting up a storm once again. I have managed to replenish a fraction of my "subtle" colours - though a little part of me wants people to step outside of their comfort zone and get that pumpkin orange cowl because, well...why not? Why not be adventurous with fuchsia and lime green when it's a tiny ol' cowl?! Why not enhance your navy blue, black or grey winter coat with a pop of colour? Why not let your cowl represent your mood of the if you're cheery, blue if you're blue, green if you're hungover etc etc. Why not frame your face with bold - while maintaining your love for simplicity? WHY NOT?!

So, kids. That has been the past 6 months in a little snap shot: cowls, condo and procrastination.

Love you all and hope to write back soon!

Signing off for now,

Little Miss Cowl Co.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Busy Bee

Hi and Happy Victoria Day to all my lovely followers!

I have taken a little (ok, substantial) hiatus from the blog to knit my little fingers off! I've decided to participate in not one, but two craft/artisan shows! So the past few months have been crazy in terms of choosing and buying the perfect yarn, knitting and blocking, preparing displays, and all other fun stuff associated with the excitement of an artisan fair!

I found a perfect wonderful cushy yarn...something I have been looking for! It's a lovely mix of wool, alpaca, and acrylic. The vast array of colours available is incredible...something for everyone (among other colours are orange, pink, fuchsia, lime green, purple for the adventurous crowd, brown, cream, black, grey, navy and charcoal for the tame)! The new "City Cowl" will be introduced at the Kleinburg Binder Twine Festival on Saturday September 8th. The Little Cowl Co. will have a booth, so stop by say hi to Little Miss Cowl Co. and pick up a cowl! 

If you would like a little sneak preview, the classic "Genesis Cowl" will be sold at St. Clare of Assisi Catholic Church annual craft fair on Saturday June 16th. It's the perfect way to try out the cowl before you buy it! Colours available will be: Black, Navy, Denim, Wheat, and Grey Marble.

Hope to see everyone at the fairs!


Little Miss Cowl Co.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

My Lenten Promise

Hello my lovely followers!

Mardi Gras has come and gone, and since the day of gluttony is over, now starts the hard part: 40 days of giving up something. Today is in fact, Ash Wednesday - the day that symbolises Jesus entering the desert for 40 days and 40 nights.

So I'm thinking about what to give up. This morning as I was brushing my teeth and had a few minutes of reflection time, I thought to myself, "hey, what if I don't give anything up and just do extra good?" but then I realised that was a cop out, and at 5:30am, blamed the ghastly hour as cause for my brain not working at full potential.

A few years ago I gave up coffee. That didn't fare well - I was a miserable person and probably caused more damage in the world without it. The year after that, I gave up my morning cigarette (yes, terrible habit I know) and lasted about 3 hours before getting the shakes and succumbing to the nicotine demon. Last year I gave up spending money (other than gas and other necessities, coffee NOT included, thank you very much). It worked - until my LYS had a sale. Then it went down the drain and I continue to feel guilty about breaking my Lent promise. This year though, I'm caught between a rock and a hard spot. Do I give up yarn shopping or Nutella??

Nutella seems like the obvious choice for me, seeing as it's always in my pantry and in front of my face, so the temptation of it for 40 days should test my character and will. Yarn shopping however, can get out of control very quickly - but it's an out-of-sight-out-of-mind thing. Plus, yarn shopping is for the good of "The Little Cowl Company" clients (seeing as I've barely knit myself a cowl or anything else for that matter). I can't give up something that could so detrimentally affect someone else, now can I?! So I guess Nutella it is...ok fine, all chocolate for that matter. Might as well go hard or go home!
Wishing you all the luck if you decide to give something up! Stay strong, and knit on!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Yarn Swap

Hello my darling knitters. I write to you from my comfy couch and an interesting episode of Young and the Restless blasting in the background. What a guilty pleasure I get to indulge in as I surf Ravelry and some awesome blogs. My 18 month old nephew just got picked up from a day with nonna (grandmother), dinner is simmering, and me and my mom are catching a quick breath after a busy day.

I came home earlier this afternoon and just as I walked in the door, the door bell rang behind me. It was my much anticipated swap package! You may recall a few posts ago that I mentioned swap groups on Ravelry. Well, I joined a "Caffeine Addicts" group and got matched up with a super cool swap partner. We chatted a bit before the swap, trying to understand what the other would like and then off to the stores! 

I threw some cool things together: a charcoal grey cowl, gorgeous forest green Van Dyck by Filati chunky yarn, grey wool yarn from, a hand-embroidered pencil case from India, a lovely MAC eyeliner in plum, some organic fair trade coffee and loose tea, Starbucks Blonde Roast coffee, and a little note on my favorite Florentine stationary.

Well, lemmy tell you what I got! The first things I pulled out of the package were the hat and mitts. Beautiful beautiful mitts and the most feminine pretty hat, in a lovely shade of turquoise tweed. She also included two-and-a-half skeins in the same yarn, AND the most lovely shade of purple baby Alpaca (my favorite yarn of all time). 

To go with the coffee and tea theme, she included some lovely "Turtles" flavoured coffee, hazelnut flavoured coffee, fair trade organic coffee from my swap-partners hometown, chamomile tea (my favorite as well), green tea candies, cupcake mix, cupcake notepad, and some very cool bath fizzies. I'm actually quite happy no one else in the house drinks coffee (other than espresso) because I'm planning to hoard it.

I thought it would be fun to share what I got, and hope my swap partner enjoys her package as well. I am so excited to wear my new hat and mitts tomorrow, and am still searching for a cowl pattern that would be worthy of my new yarn.

As my new yarn package labels says:

Knit, Smile, Repeat!


Friday, 3 February 2012

Ignorance is Bliss

I should start this edition of my blog out with an important disclaimer. If being a knitter wasn't was tipped me on the nerd scale, being obsessed with anything and everything Jane Austen and 18-19th century England sure does the trick. That being said, enjoy my weekly knitting commentary below.

I may be a little bit late on the Knit Picks bandwagon, but gosh, have I jumped on!

I signed up for the Knit Picks newsletter about a year ago, but every time I saw that little e-mail pop up in my inbox, a mix of excitement and dread washed over me. Excitement because obviously I had browsed the website and fell instantly in love. Dread because I knew if I dug further into their offers, I would no doubt spend a mortgage payment on yarn and books and needles and all other wonderful items.

Well, I finally gave in. I have been dying for the Jane Austen Knits magazine. Not only does Knit
Picks have it, it's 40% off. So, here i'm thinking..."just get the magazine and check out before anyone gets hurt". La-di-da, zooming through the site to check out and BOOM!, pop up for a yarn swift and ball winder. Well, hello.

I inherited a beautiful wooden yarn swift from my parents, who must have picked it up on a trip to Italy in the late 70s or 80s. I had no idea what it was for until I started knitting, and then I had almost no idea how to use it. Well, Knit Picks informed me how. All I needed was a ball winder! now my mind is racing, "does Knit Picks sell ball winders? Should I buy some yarn to test it?" (not like I don't have four Rubber Made containers at home and a linen closet filled with yarn, no no, let's buy more).

I called some stores in the GTA and their prices for ball winders was extraordinary...Knit Picks was not. So I figure I'll get the ball winder so my beautiful skeins of baby Alpaca doesn't get tangled as I try to wind it myself. Ok, two items in my tentative shopping cart. Not bad, Jordana...not bad. Wait, I have a pending Wish List going with interchangable wood needles, books and yarn. At this point, my mouse-palm is sweating and I'm shaking with the urge to just get everything my heart desires and not care about the cost.

But I resist. Kind of. I get a little buzz on my trusty Blackberry with an email notification as I'm on Knit Picks website of greatness. Groupon offer for yarn! GOOD GOD DELIVER ME FROM TEMPTATION!

This offer was just TOO good. Basically, half off. So I purchased two skeins of a gorgeous hue of eggplant mink, silk and cashmere yarn, some lilac superwash merino and matching extra warm wool. To test out the yarn swift and ball winder, of course.

In conclusion, I must stress the need for self-control when opening up Knit Picks or Elann or Craftsy e-mails. These sneaky little websites KNOW the craziness that ensues when a yarn offer arises. We must be strong!

Have a great weekend, and as always, Keep Calm & Knit On!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

"I've Never Met a Stupid Knitter"

So, although this blog post is MUCH overdue, better late than never, right?! I've had quite an interesting couple months of knitting, pattern experiementation, knit nights - and chiropractor visits.

As you, my devoted readers and followers may know, I run a tiny little company called "The Little Cowl Company" making - well - cowls. Throughout the month of December, I was overwhelmed both physically and emotionally with cowl orders. On the one hand, I was completly honoured and happy that people were coming to ME for Christmas gifts. Something I had made was going under the tree for someone, and I took great pride in that. On the other hand, my neck and back were stiff-as-a-board and my eyes were possibly going crossed.

If you check you will find all kinds of photos of some of the lovely cowls I created. Ranging from Soy to Wool, Cotton to Mohair, Merino to Alpaca - these cowls were my blood, sweat and tears of December. Well, not literally, but you know what I mean. I managed to find a mannequine (for FREE) off Kijiji, so my cowls are all displayed on a slightly robust and busty mannequine from the 1970s or 1980s.

Sometime during the middle of December, I ran across a group on Ravelry that had bi-weekly knit nights. I can't even being to explain the excitement running through my veins when I saw this. After almost a year of searching for a knit group/s'n'b - to have found one close to home made me giddy. I made it out to the first night available, and didn't quite know what to expect. I was so pleasantly greeted and welcomed by my fellow knitters, I couldn't wait for the next knit night. As a young knitter with almost no friends that knit, to meet up with other women who DO knit was fantastic.

These women bring fun conversation, knitting wisdom and advice, and yarn stories that non-knitters wouldn't grasp or be interesting in grasping. I highly encourage anyone reading this to find a knitting group or s'n'b near them. It will provide an untapped resource of knitting fun, knowledge and conversing.

So I end this blog post with the advice of finding and joining a knitting group, and staying tuned for my next blog post. Hopefully it won't be long before I get it out there, because I *may* have some new pics and ideas for you!

Keep Calm & Knit On!