Category Archives: crocheting

off the hook {orange crush scarf}

i’ve had a serious orange crush lately.  fabric, yarn, thread, fruit – if it’s orange, i want it.  i find its zesty, warm and fiery vibe so intriguing because it manages to be both comforting and invigorating at the very same time.  take that, grey.  actually, i can’t get enough grey, either, but today is all about orange.

for me, orange is just far enough outside-the-box (that is to say it’s not black or neutral or boring, like so much of my wardrobe) to feel a little daring, too.  i’ve got some goldfish coloured fabric set aside for a schoolhouse tunic, and i’m planning another cheery bag with the remnants from this birdie sling, but my first foray into orangeing up my wardrobe was this glorious tangerine coloured shawl.

this piquant rounds out my trio of lilygo projects (including this and this).  for me, this one is the most wearable of the bunch.  i predictably hooked it with malabrigo sock – that irresistibly soft and warm-but-not-too-warm 100% merino wool dyed in colours so delicious looking that you really want to taste them.

piquant was a delight to work up.  as usual, the instructions were impeccable and the charts were ever so clear.  as i have yet to develop a knack for wearing shawls, i made the smaller version (though i added 2 more repeats in section one because i needed the length) which is just the right size for luscious neck-wrappage.

this pattern is worked in 3 separate sections, which kept it interesting and made it feel as though it was a quick make.  in fact, this was such a non-traumatic project that i’m working on a second version in a deep bluey-purple, and i foresee a whole clan of intensely colourful piquants in my future (but my tangerine piquant will always be my favourite).

•  •  •

Advertisements

28 Comments

Filed under crocheting

off the hook {tango shawl}

i’m learning that shawls are a labour of love (emphasis on the labour).

i was stoked to start this pattern – another beautiful and unique design (called cassandra) by lilygo.  i joined my first ever CAL (crochet along) on ravelry and worked away, pleased with my progress and buoyed by others’ success until i approached the dreaded row 38, where i foolishly thought i was ‘just about done’…oh how naive was i.  it took forever.  and ever.  and it ate so much yarn.  people, it was a serious struggle – i’m still a little traumatized by all of those chains.  and the result of those countless hours and hours and hours of work?  a beautiful shawl that i just don’t like.  shriek.

i knew from the start that this shawl was a bit on the frilly side for me.  despite my better judgement, cassandra lured me in with its circular shape and its fluid feel.  having learned the lesson (with my last shawl) that solid colours reveal a crocheted design so much better than variegated colours do, and hoping that it would counteract the frilly nature of this pattern, i went with basic black malabrigo sock (side note: malabrigo is definitely on my list of desert island yarns).  i think it does work well here, letting the details of the pattern take the spotlight, as they should.  and the details, well they were lovely and easily worked, except for that nasty row 38, which was not so much complicated as it was painstakingly slow (i really can’t emphasize that enough).

i know i’ve done quite a lot of whinging already, but i must add that this item was a real bother to block, given its shape.  now that i look at the photos, i can see that a few hundred more pins and even more attention to setting the details perfectly would have made the more intricate sections a little more noticeable (and really, what is the point of labouring over work like row 38 if you don’t showcase it properly?  silly me).  one bright note, however, is that the pain of blocking was partially alleviated by the glorious scent left by the flora soak i used when bathing my pre-blocked tango.  flora soak is a product so deliciously soft and floral that i’m seriously considering using it in the shower.

cassandra has received quit a bit of gushing over on ravelry and i’ve seen some brilliant finished projects in the CAL.  everyone is delighted, quite rightly, with their cassandras, which is marvy, but me, i’m just not feeling the love for this shawl.  it is beautiful and flowy and unique and classic, but shucks, i just don’t see myself ever wearing it.  i’ll have to  chalk my tango shawl up to a good crocheting experience (and maybe a needed reminder that my inner voice is never wrong).  i hope that tango finds a good home where it will be loved and appreciated and oft-worn, which is the very least every good (and toilsome) shawl deserves.

•  •  •

51 Comments

Filed under crocheting

off the hook {the tobermory hat}

i made a wee hat for an adorable new baby in the fall.  the mother of said adorable baby liked the hat so much that she requested an adult-sized version of it for herself.  i said “yes, of course” (in reality, i think what i said was more along the lines of  “are you sure?  you really like it?  um, ok, thanks!”), and then i started to panic.  the pattern i had used was baby-sized, and i’m not so good at ‘growing’ a pattern as needed, particularly when it comes to hats.  there is a science to hat making that i just don’t quite get.

i began searching for a pattern but couldn’t find anything that was just right, so i decided to wing it by combining elements of a couple of patterns i liked along with a little imagination.  i used a basic adult beanie pattern with some front-posts and a fetching FLO sc section at the bottom, and finished it off with a tidy shaped brim, a simple band and some rustic wooden buttons – a reasonable facsimile of the adorable-babe’s hat (and a good lesson in sorting out the frustrating science of properly fitting hats).

i’m lousy at taking compliments and even worse at promoting myself, so when adorable-babe’s mom wore this hat to girls’ night last month, i felt ever so happy that she liked it enough to wear it in public but i was completely unnerved by the attention it received.  my discomfort was somewhat alleviated when two other gals requested i make each of them the same hat.  orders!  sales!  acceptance!  it’s seriously small-time, i know, but it was just the kind of reassurance i needed to help gear me up for the upcoming studio tour this summer (more on that in a future post).

thus, the {tobermory hat} was established, so named for the community in which you may see three hip ladies wearing the same hat at the same time.  and, now that i have the hats off my hook, i am turning my attention to a brilliant tangerine coloured scarf, an order for a pair of stash baskets and the umpteen other projects that are forming a rather lengthy list of crafts-to-be.  joy!

ps – i do plan on writing up the pattern for the hat in case any of you are interested in making one yourself.

•  •  •

22 Comments

Filed under crocheting, sewing

creative fuel

i love a trip to the city.  i mean the city.  toronto.

once or twice a year i have a work-related stay in TO.  when i’m there, my mission is to cram in as much walking, gawking and general city-imbibing as possible.  the chaos and crowds are both exhilarating and exhausting, and i find, for a short time anyways, that i am strangely soothed by the rhythm of urban life.  it couldn’t be more different from our home in the countryside, where trees outnumber people exponentially and heavy traffic means actually having to stop at the stop sign before turning.

one of the benefits of city excursions, apart from the fashion lessons, teashops and people-watching, is the improved access to all things crafty and the ability to refuel for my creative pursuits.  this trip allowed me to expand my stirandstitch stashes quite nicely (and to soothe IDS, who can get a little testy when left in the countryside for too long).

{crochet-fuel}     the yarn related highlight of this trip was my first ever visit to romni wools  – the epic toronto yarn store.  i don’t use the word epic flippantly here.  romni’s monstrous, bursting, teeming and towering collection of fibers is daunting to even the most yarn-starved shopper.  it was utterly overwhelming, but i managed to find some lovely, squishy goodies to take home, including some bright malabrigo sock and some nifty ‘braided’ cascade.


{sewing-fuel}     i discovered the workroom online and was instantly smitten.  they have a fabulous selection of contemporary fabrics and high quality notions, a friendly shop dog and a great calendar of sewing classes.  the timing of my trip worked out perfectly for me to take their three hour ‘serger essentials’ course – instruction i’ve been needing for years.  i came home with some new-found serger confidence and a set of rolled-hem napkins which we made in class.  i couldn’t resist a couple of pieces of lotta jansdotter fabric and three marvy patterns (including one for a sweet colette blouse) that i can’t wait to dig into.

{baking-fuel}     i have a cookbook addiction.  i could read cookbooks all day.  really.  this obsession has necessitated a moratorium on cookbook purchases (i also have a moratorium on tea mugs and flip-flops).  i had to allow myself an exception in toronto, though, for dorie greenspan’s ‘baking – from my home to yours’.  it’s been around for a while now, so it seemed less impulsive and more appropriate to add it to my collection (and really, what baker’s library is complete without it?).  i’ve been eagerly flipping the pages, wondering which recipe will be the first into my mixer.

•  •  •

stirandstitch has refueled!  three days in toronto allowed me to absorb just enough urban sensibility to remain connected to city-life.  it also offered loads of tea, a little bit of chocolate and plenty of creative fuel for projects-to-be.  and it was just long enough, just windy enough and just lonely enough to make me (and even my testy IDS) feel happy to come home.

•  •  •

28 Comments

Filed under baking, crocheting, sewing

holy liebster and {printemps shawl}

i love pleasant surprises. and, from unexpected birthday gifts to a huge dump of snow, this weekend has been full of them. the cherry that crowned the icing on top of my wonderful weekend cake was discovering that i was the recipient of a liebster blog award.

a liebster, i have learned, is a peer-awarded recognition of little blogs (read: fewer than 200 followers – i am, ahem, well within that margin). apparently, by loose translation, liebsters are “dear, sweet, kind, nice, good, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome“. how very warm and fuzzy! the recipient of a liebster is to pay it forward by bestowing it on five bloggers whom they admire, and so on and so on (kind of like a good-vibe chain letter). salma, from the beautiful blog beautifully sewn was kind enough to include me in her list of honourees. thanks, salma! i’ll try not to let too much time pass before i come up with my list of liebsters.

all of this liebsterness has prompted me to switch up my post. i was going to tell you about my ‘flopjacks’ – the kitchen disaster that started out as buttermilk oatmeal pancakes and ended up as a pile of mangled and chewy (though tasty) dog’s breakfast, but that just seems a little too negative for today. today calls for feelgoodery, so i would like to introduce you to my most recent finished crochet project, {printemps shawl}.

{printemps shawl} is so named because the colours remind me of spring crocuses peeking out through the snow. this is the scarf-sized version of the garden path shawl, designed by ‘lily go’ on ravelry* (lily’s well written and charted patterns are wonderfully intricate and creative – i can’t imagine the time and mathematics that go into her patterns, let alone the art and the vision).
i’m not sure if this colourway of malabrigo merino wool was the best choice…i can’t tell if it’s hideous or fetching. i tend to be drawn to either very plain or completely gaudy colours and patterns – there is no middle ground for me. this was my first foray into colours other than grays and browns, so maybe that’s why i’m a little uncertain of it. despite my uncertaintly, however, i will embrace my printemps scarf/shawl in the name of liebsterism! long live good, kind, generous, welcoming, nice, cute, beloved, sweet, endearing and lovely souls!

*do you know ravelry? if you crochet or knit, or just dream about crocheting and knitting, you will love ravelry, guaranteed. the garden path shawl link above will take you to ravelry, if you’re interested.

20 Comments

Filed under crocheting, Uncategorized

creme fraiche {blueberry scones}

i wish you could smell my house right now.  buttery, floury, sugary, warm – the emanations of scones in the oven.  such a heavenly and comforting scent.  it makes even our mid-renovation kitchen feel glowy and wholesome and good.

instead of being at work today, my cough/cold germs and i are at home, filling the hours with the kind of non-demanding, pleasure-filled tasks that are normally reserved for weekends and evenings (one of the blessings of being sick, i suppose).  my wrists needed a break from crocheting, so my thoughts turned to baking (as they so often do).  i didn’t want anything overly sweet.  or chocolatey.  or involved.  then i remembered i had a tub of creme fraiche in the fridge.

creme fraiche is one of the many culinary treasures i encountered (and immediately loved – along with cream tea, egg and cress sandwiches, bakewell tarts, eccles cakes, greengrocers and ribena) when i lived in the UK.  i’ve been stumbling over recipe after recipe calling for it lately.  sadly, but understandably, it is one of those elusive ingredients that just isn’t stocked in a rural grocery store.  when i discovered it gracing the dairy shelf of the nearest ‘big city grocery store’, i was thrilled…until i got home and couldn’t find even one of those oh so promising sounding recipes.  does this ever happen to you?  it’s a common theme for me.  wonton wrappers, walnut oil, asafoetida, harissa paste and, most recently, creme fraiche – they all held such allure at the time of purchase, until i got them home and couldn’t think of one single thing to do with them.

so this afternoon i decided it was necessary to find a use for this tub of creme fraiche and came across a recipe that wooed me right away – the aforementioned blueberry scones.  i love a good scone and loathe a bad one.  even lashings of butter can’t rescue a dry and flavourless puck of a scone.  despite temptation, i didn’t mix in any lemon zest for zing or adorn their tops with coarse sugar – i just dutifully followed the rather plain sounding recipe, and i’m glad i did.  i think the creme fraiche gives these a deeper and more unique flavour than your standard cream or milk enriched scone.  an IDS approved scone would be thicker and shaped more tidily (i have only myself to blame for the sloppiness), but there is something quaint and pleasing about these simple and flavourful little triangles – they are a perfectly lovely accompaniment to a spoonful of blueberry apple butter and a brit-worthy cuppa on a sniffly afternoon.  enjoy!

•  •  •

blueberry scones (posted by ‘howchow’ on chowhound, 2007)

2 cups  all-purpose flour
1/4 cup  sugar
2 tsp  baking powder
1/2 tsp  salt
blueberries (no measure was given – i used about 3/4 cup frozen wild blueberries – thawed)
6 tbsp  cold butter, cut into pieces
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
7.5 oz  creme fraiche
1 1/2 tsp  vanilla

•stir flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. blend in butter until it resembles fine meal.  in a separate bowl whisk the egg + yolk, creme fraiche and vanilla together.  gently stir this and the blueberries into the flour mixture (i did the mixing of the butter into the flour and the wet into the dry in my stand mixer, much like when making pie crust).  the dough will be sticky and a little on the wet side.

•bring dough together on a well-floured surface (this is always a clean dish towel for me).  with floured hands, divide dough in half.  pat each half into a disc about 1/2″ thick/6″ in diameter (i would leave them a little thicker next time).  cut each disc into 6 pieces and place pieces 1″ apart on a cookie sheet (i always use parchment).  bake at 350°f for 25 minutes until golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean (mine only needed 20 minutes).  serve warm or at room temperature.

22 Comments

Filed under baking, crocheting

baby, it’s cowl’d outside

winter has finally arrived in southern ontario!  it’s cold!  it’s snowy!  it’s sunny, too!  my overuse of exclamations is intentional – for i am a winterchild.  please allow me a moment to wax about my love of winter, which will be followed by a wintry crochet project, befitting the stirandstitchness of this blog.

becoming a winterchild has been an evolution (i know, becoming anything is an evolution).  winter in alberta was a dream for a country kid.  bolstered with layers of insulation and mitts on strings, we’d build snow forts, create mythical villages beneath snow-laden willows and skate and skate and skate on frozen sloughs.  i can see the heart-warming montage right now, can you?  the novelty wore off, as it does, with age.  frozen cars, dodgy driving conditions and fashion victimization left us cold, bitter and counting the days until summer.  this general ‘nonplussed with winter’ sentiment stayed with me until i spent a few years in the northwest territories, well above the arctic circle, where nonplussed turned to dread with a capital d.  add darkness to deep cold and multiply by six months – not for the faint-of-heart.  but here’s the thing: i started to like it.

thriving in remote places with extreme weather requires some effort.  you snowshoe and ski and camp despite the weather.  and when you move ‘down south’, winter becomes easy again and you start adding exclamation points to! every! observation! because! the sun is so magnificent!  the blue sky is so bright!  and being outside without having to worry about your eyeballs freezing is soooo sweet!

thus, the abridged history of my winterchildness is complete.  yes, i’m envying those who are escaping for a week closer to the equator, but i am also appreciating the nesting and creativity that winter does such a good job of evoking for me.  my creation for this chilly weekend?  a cozy crocheted cowl to warm the parts between the toque and the jacket.  i’m coveting a long, drapey, grey cowl, but i wanted to whip one up in an afternoon with leftover wool i had in my stash, so i needed snug and practical, and i think this little number fits the bill nicely (wow, so many commas).  i dig the random stripes and the earthy colours of the british and icelandic wools (two countries that know their way around cold and damp).  i used this pattern as a reference and modified it to my gauge.  now to christen it on a wintry trek with TDHH and the dogs!  exclamation!!!

7 Comments

Filed under crocheting