The sun has yet to rise and I am on my 3rd cup of tea. With headphones in and the fairy lights on, I am sending this out to the universe. I wrote this blog post yesterday, but as I sat down and read it over, I felt totally different and just scraped the whole thing. Yesterday was rainy and I had coffee (coffee makes me a little crazy, which is why I tend to stay away from it!). Today, is so full of opportunity! A calmness and herbal tea (okay.. I might be having earl grey at this point, it is not yet 6am!), a fire started from the embers of yesterday (that sounds metaphorical and it can be, but I mean it literally, ha). And so, finally… this Grey sweater that was sold a couple of weeks ago to a lovely artist in B.C.
I Started this sweater in January, with my Lopi Stash. Greys and Ivory, Black and Gold. Similar to the landscape and skies of winter here. Knit in the darker times, helping to illuminate the long nights. The colours reflecting the ever changing sky in January, February even March. Between PEI and Nova Scotia. In the woods, along the river, in a car, over a very long bridge. In a fire lit basement, listening to the wind and a slow yet quick crackle of birch! I chose wooden buttons and used a vintage, strong German made thread that accompanied my sewing machine gifted to me by my aunt.
On a walk in the woods, I brought this sweater to do a little weaving in the moss, weaving in the magic of the woods. You can really see the texture of Lopi here ❤
And Voila! A Simple Grey Lopi Cardigan! I have a feeling this sweater will find a kindred in Northern BC! I think it may be time for me to order some more Lopi wool, I am almost out! I am hoping to make myself an Icelandic Cardigan in Rough Seas with metal buttons. Perhaps my summer project!
I hope you have a lovely weekend! The sky is growing lighter and the birds are singing! I have a busy day of working in the library and going to my favourite store… the hardware store! Gardening things are slowly peaking out and I need more seed trays. We also get to pick out the tiles for the bathroom (eeee, I can not wait to have a shower again!). What are you planning to grow this summer? I’ll post more about that very soon because there is just so so much.
Here is a favourite folk song for you! Planxty’s version of the Blacksmith. This song and actually this video really propelled my love for folk music. Such a vast world of music. Steeleye Span does a version of this song as well, definitely worth checking out as it is SO different and also, awesome. The song is very tragic, telling the tale of a woman who fell in love with a blacksmith only to learn afterwards that he is married. I’m not sure the origins but many of these songs are traced back hundreds of years.
I am well, wrapped in blankets with a hot cup of tea, candles lit and one of my favourite Irish bands playing, the Bothy Band. It’s Sunday and rain is gently falling. We have been having fires every day, even if it’s just to keep the damp out on a mild, wet morning.
We have been so busy as well! I started a new job in the library system, working as a call in. I had best get use to driving at night and in all weather since the job requires me to go quite far to some rural branches. I am excited to be back in the library, I already have a long queue of books on hold (just finished The Moomins Vol 1) and will share with you later more of what I’ll be reading this winter (I’m going to work through my long list of “To-Read” on Goodreads). Apart from work… there is STILL wood to stack, wood to bring in, vegetables to take care of (I’m down to the last of the tomatoes) and cats that are beginning to explore the outside world. There is an etsy shop, art work and a very, very active dog. Jamie is also giving me guitar lessons again so I’m hoping to pick it up again and encourage him to make more music as well!
Before I launch into knitting… our little 1.25 acre is also constantly on my mind. I have been transplanting saplings that have come up on the outskirts of the farmer’s field, buried many chestnuts, planted lupin seeds that I collected in July from the wayside and transplanted some of our rose plants and lavender. My ultimate goal is to have every inch of land planted with trees, bushes, flowers… anything! And then buy more land :D. Anywho…. this is all a side because I came here to share with you my latest cardigan handnit.
H A N D K N I T C A R D I G A N
I cast this sweater on in the blazing sun of glorious July! Yes… it has taken me quite a while. It was the first cardigan, knit in the round that I have ever made which is why it took me so long. I believe I actually finished the bulk of the work in August or early September but waited until a visit with my Mom before I actually steeked the body (Steeking is the word applied to the actually cutting up the middle of the body to open up your cardigan sweater). Thank goodness my Mom has absolutely no qualms about trying anything in the fibre art world. When we finally were together in the latter part of October, she actually did the crochet stitch up my purled stitches and then I (palms sweating and heart beating! Clearly a life or death situation) cut the sweater! It was so satisfying 😀
The inspiration for the design comes from the fall here in the Canadian East Coast, where miles of forest stretch along the ocean shore, spotted with wooden white houses. I have started to really simplify my designs, favouring simple blocks of colour. I really love the rust Léttlopi! I find it both striking and subtle (if that makes any sense…).
I started the sweater with the full intention of finishing in October. It’s nearly a month after when I thought I would be writing this post. At the end of October, my sister, Mom and I travelled to Ontario to see our family and friends, thus putting a halt to all of my work (It was a very nice visit and I hope to be back again soon!). And just other life things have continued to pop up, derailing my physical artistic world.
So below I have shared a couple pictures of the fall here, my sketch book and the sweater! I have not taken anywhere near as many pictures this fall but alas, here are a couple!
It’s raining much harder now. It is also my sister Meaghan’s birthday today! We are separated by the strait, but I am wishing her all the best in Nova Scotia today! Send her loving vibes this day ❤
I hope you enjoyed this post! I am settling in to actually put up the listing of this sweater on Etsy and respond finally to my comments and messages on both wordpress and instagram. I have generally been steering away from Social Media and have finally developed a pretty solid system to keep me from being distracted. Perhaps I’ll share this with you in another post!
**A note on this sweater, it is made from I C E L A N D I C W O O L! The specific name of the wool is called Léttlopi which essentially means light Icelandic Wool (Létt = Light / lopi = Icelandic Wool). This wool is made using the sheared fleece of Icelandic Sheep. Icelandic Sheep are very different than other sheep around the world, they are descendants of Norse Sheep from 1000 years ago! Their unique fleece is composed of 2 layers, one which is water repellent and the other is an insulating coat. This unique fleece keeps our friends dry and warm in the rather unpredictable Northern Atlantic Icelandic climate. If you have any allergy or discomfort with wool, this wool is most likely not for you. It is a hardy and durable wool which can withstand weather. I live on an Island in Atlantic Canada and find this type of wool ideal for working outdoors in the fall/winter and “spring” (our springs sometimes feel non-existent). **
I wanted to share a few pictures of the latest Pangur Bán sweater. I have it all ready to be shipped off to California but wanted to document it as much as possible! It’s a funny thing, dedicating countless hours to knitting a garment and then shipping them off to their new homes – you so often forget about things that you have knitted! Instagram has been good in a lot of ways to go back and remember different things that I’ve made in the past, however I find blogging about it just a wee bit more personal. And I don’t feel like there are these silly rules about how many pictures I can post 😀
You can see the wool (Léttlopi) I used on the Alafoss Website. The main colour is hazel heather and the contrasting colours are beige, black heather, oatmeal heather. I guess I didn’t take too many pictures of the process, so I hope you enjoy the few that I did 🙂
And so, without further ado, here are some photos of my latest handknit sweater (you can read more about the design of this sweater in one of my first posts!).
Off she goes today! I am being swamped at home right now with chores upon chores to do before we catch our flight in Halifax this Friday. I can hardly believe that in a week’s time, we will be driving on the left side of the road and in the country of my ancestors. I have a lot to share with you all before we go and will likely afterwards as well! We have had a lot of rain which has made the PEI country side so lush and wonderful. It’s hard not to be happy in the midst of all the green and warmth! Especially when hiking in the mountains on the other side of the Atlantic is just before us!
I am on the fence currently about bringing any knitting on the trip. For some reason, I am hesitant to bring knitting needles on the plane – I have read that it should be fine, but I remember once I had my knitting in my bag when a friend and myself went on a tour of the Parliament Buildings (just for fun one random afternoon when I lived in Ottawa) and they took my knitting from me and sealed it in a bag! I may go scout out some wooden circular needles tonight (cross fingers that such thing exists in PEI!). I do hope to, we have a 5 hour lay over in St. John’s and a long plane ride which I will be incapable of getting any rest >.<
Anyhow, my family is coming tomorrow to house sit for us and I have SO much to do before! Getting very excited! I may be very stereotypical and post a packing for Ireland blog, if I have time!!!
And it’s back. A foot of snow, freezing temperatures… the chickens refuse to leave the coop and boots full of snow. We can at least take heart that it is technically *spring* and this won’t last. But for now, my nose is running and my feet are damp. I feel like watching The Ken Burn’s documentary about the Civil War and not leaving the couch… eating brownies and drinking peppermint tea. But first, before I succumb to these whims, I thought I would be somewhat productive and share some photos I took the other day while I was preparing for Etsy shipments.
This week, I prepared the folkloric Lopapeysa, A Fairisle pull over and some hand-pressed cards. I have been feeling SO lethargic and just “blah” this past week (I think a combination of the blizzard and monthly times), such little drive to do anything at all. Last week, I baked like 5 different types of bread (2 loaves of french bread, 2 loaves of whole grain, 2 peasant loaves, 12 buns and some naan bread!) and was just on a wild spree of being a productive human being. I even read one of my favourite books, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and picked out some new books to pick up at the library. I felt SO good and happy and this week has just been the exact opposite. I have just been down in the pits or as my girl Anne says, in the depths of despair. Winter melancholia.
But alas, it is sunny and sometimes, it’s so difficult to feel anything but hope and happiness when you are basking in the sun.
P R E P A R I N G
To get out of a funk, I enjoy the creative process of simply packaging up orders. I wanted to share a couple photos with you since I am much better at that than descriptive writing!
I make wrapping paper for the cards, using hand-carved stamps. Last weekend, I bought some red ink for a different look (what do you think?). I really enjoy wrapping up cards and tying them up with string. Simple pleasures that I hope bring a wee bit of happiness to the person that receives them! I stamp the brown paper based on what type of artwork has been purchased, for instance if it is a botanical or fungi print, I make sure it is plant based wrapping paper.
E T S Y O R D E R S
N A T U R A L W O R L D
Jamie and I went on a really beautiful walk in Strathgertney Provincial Park yesterday. Luckily, there was a path to follow made by snow shoes rather than us struggling in our winter boots in the snow. The park is beautiful, with a range of different woodlands, walks along the West River. We only met two other people and were free deep in the woods from the sounds of cars on the nearby highway. I can not wait for the snow to melt and the mud to dry up so we can freely walk in the different beautiful spots on this island.
A NEW WEEK
This week, I am hopeful that the temperatures will rise, that the sun will come out, that we will be free of blizzards and impending storms. My Mom has graciously agreed to come stay with me for the week since Jamie will be going to Ontario for work and I would love company living out in the country during my bluest time of year. For some reason, the “Winter Blues” descends upon me in the beginning of “spring” rather than the winter. I feel very alive and happy in the winter months but March often sees me down.
I see the light though, because April, April is next Saturday! Praise the Gods!
I hope you all enjoy your last week of M A R C H! Bye Legions!
On Saturday, I wrote about my peaceful mornings. Filled with tea, knitting, scents and animals. Winter is so unpredictable in Eastern Canada that I feel like we see the moon more than the sun.
And then there are winter storm mornings that stay for days and nights. There is something about blizzards and winter storms that I find really exciting (as long as you can stay home – there is nothing exciting about having to go out in a storm). I can probably partly attribute this feeling to my childhood and snowdays. However, now as an adult, I love the energy of the storm and my very legitimate excuse to just knit all day by the fire! I started the body of my latest Lopapeysa which I am either going to name “Celtic Garden” or “Folklore” because of the pattern I have in mind for the yoke. If you’re curious about our last 2 days staying in doors while harsh wind and snow drove at us, please continue on!
M O N D A Y
On Monday morning we awaited a blizzard – impending sense of wild, lashing doom that rips across the province. I definitely received a not so peaceful omen during the early hours of Monday. When I woke to bring Henry outside, I could just hear the wind was beginning to pick up. I walked downstairs and in the dark I could see something not right sitting on the kitchen floor with cats padding about. Lovely! A very inverted mouse, thank you so much Petey. We always know that Petey is responsible for the crime – he just sits and watches too when I clean up his work. Afterwards, I took Henry outside in the wind and the misty rain while a small murder of crows flew directly over us, swaying in the wind, caw – cawing.
I decided to just sit, knit and drink tea and fill the house with some warming, calming scents. I sat by the window to watch – but nothing happened really until around noon. The wind and snow began to pick up. The chickens were out during the morning but we closed them back in around noon when the storm really was upon us.
Our main task during storms is to make sure we are prepared if the power goes out, that the animals are taken care of and that the house is heated. The previous evening we made a double batch of chili so food would not be a problem. I collected all of our candles to make sure we could turn darkness into light (luckily it never went out!). But otherwise, I spent most of the day knitting!
When I slept, the house shook. I imagined the roof tearing off and somehow fell asleep after that thought. How calming?
Basket full of knits ❤
T U E S D A Y
The province was shut down yesterday. The blizzard statement was lifted around noon or so. We were greeted by very large snow drifts throughout the yard. Shoveling to be done in the chicken run (it had about a 3 foot drift which was preventing us from even opening the door to it) and the front walk way – no where near as exciting as the previous day.
Since the power stayed on, our only real challenge was shoveling, etc and dealing with the stress that can accompany staying in doors for too long.
I still had a lot of time to knit. I have put away the shawl that I have been working on and have been knitting a new lopapeysa for the shop. I made huge progress this past week since the weather has been a bit mad. Finishing both sleeves and making very good progress during the blizzard. I decided to make a little border of thistles along the bottom of the sweater. When it’s complete, I will make a post just about this particular sweater 🙂 But for now, I will just share the progress photographs ❤
For Valentines Day, Jamie and I hopped in the car when our driveway had been plowed at around 4 30 and drove very, very slowly to town for the sole reason to pick up pizza. Usually we make our own, but time was of the essence! We had pizza by the fire and watched a murder mystery show with all the animals. It was perfect.
Today, My body is aching from shoveling (in a good way). I have been so off-kilter from my regular schedule since last Friday (we had a storm as well) and since Jamie has been home due to the storm that I hope to grasp some sense of normalcy today. There are orders to be packaged up and shipped out, a lot of laundry and general cleaning up, a dog that can actually walk down the street rather than jumping in the snow.
I hope you enjoyed seeing my progress over the storm and a couple of photographs. I didn’t manage to take too many of the storm because it was basically impossible. I couldn’t really go outside and from the window it just looked like a white blur. The weather is around 0 today, and the landscape is a host of white, grey and black (until of course you look a little closer).
I hope everyone on the East Coast of Canada/United States stayed safe and indoors and enjoyed time as much as we did ❤
P.S. I will soon have the most awkward vlog! I bought some ‘equipment’ (I don’t know why I put that in single quotation..) and although I have much planned for the next couple of weeks, I will try to squeeze a video in there (how hard can it be….right? :|)
Today on PEI, we are snowed into our homes. The province essentially shut down. We do however have power (amazing!) so I think it is the best time to discuss the Riddari Knitting Kit GiveAway!
We are very excited to have partnered up with Alafoss to offer you a chance to win a Riddari knitting kit! The Riddari pattern, designed by Védís Jónsdóttir for Ístex, is a classic take on the traditional Lopapeysa. It’s a fun, unisex pattern that is perfect for a beginner who is ready to tackle something a little more challenging as well as advanced knitters.
The kit includes:
14 x Léttlopi (50 grams) – 100% Icelandic Wool Yarn (Check out the Alafoss website – linked above – to see the colours included in the kit)
9 x Color 1420 (Murky) Pictured first on the left
3 x Color 0059 (Black)
1 x Color 1418 (Straw) Next to black
1 x Color 1419 (Barley)
The yarn included in this kit is enough to make the XXL sweater (the biggest size in this pattern) – if you are knitting a smaller size, you will have left overs to make fun mittens and/or socks!
Needles not included but you need:
4½ mm circular needles 40 and 80 cm
3½ mm circular needles 40 and 80 cm
3½ mm and 4½ mm double pointed needles
These are readily available at any craft/wool store for reasonable prices. They are also necessities for any knitter and will be used time and time again! I often snatch up any knitting needles I find at thrift stores. You can often fine a bag with dozens for a couple of dollars.
This was the first Lopapeysa that I ever knit. After my partner Jamie and I drove around magical Iceland in April 2013, we stopped in at a shop and I bought enough Léttlopi to make him the sweater (the rough sea one in the pictures). I loved it so much and that really set off my love for knitting Icelandic sweaters in the round. Featured below: Jamie’s “Rough Seas” Riddari on the left and my Oatmeal Riddari on the right. I wear Jamie’s even though it is much too big for me >.<
Jamie’s Rough Seas Riddari
My Oatmeal Riddari
And there you have it!
The Giveaway is open today on Saturday, December 17th 2016 and will close next Friday, December 23rd. Anyone and everyone can enter. The winner will be chosen at complete random. I suggest entering even if you don’t knit, Perhaps there is someone you know that would really appreciate a beautiful knitting gift?
Details for entering can be found on my Instagram page @woodfolkk Simply comment on the picture featuring riddari and tag 2 people you think would be interested in the contest. That is how simple it is 🙂
This is all thanks to the wonderful people at ALAFOSS Please do yourself a favour and find them on instagram at @alafoss and check out their online shop (http://alafoss.is) for a myriad of Icelandic woolen goods (among other things <3). They have been in business since the late 19th Century, how cool is that?
This week, the Pangur Bán sweater will be bound up with twine, placed in a cloth hand-sewn bag and shipped to Germany. Across the Atlantic Ocean, leaving behind its humble beginning on Prince Edward Island.
This original sweater was made during the summer of 2016 using Létt-Lopi that I purchase online at Alafoss. What you may ask is LOPI? Lopi is the term for Icelandic Sheep’s wool. Icelandic Sheep are very beautiful animals that are direct descendants of the first settler’s sheep brought from Norway in the 9th and 10th Century! How neat is that! They sport a unique dual layered fleece, which helps to protect the sheep and keep them dry and warm (aww). I grew up with little Lopi sweaters that my mom knit, however they were infinitely bulkier than the sweaters made with Létt-Lopi. The Létt means “light” and is actually half the weight of the old Alafoss Lopi. It creates a garment that is.. well.. light and delicate, yet hardy all the same. I don’t think it really needs stating that I love this wool… the colours, the texture the end result! It’s so perfect ❤
Anyway! This sweater saw her beginning on a ferry crossing the North Atlantic from Sydney, NS to Argentia, Newfoundland. I purposefully started the sweater just before the trip so I could work on it during the 16 hour ferry ride and long car rides crossing the province. I packed very little on this trip, some clothes suitable for camping and a backpack for my cotton wool bag (filled to the brim with wool!) so I could work on the body of the sweater and mittens for market. This suited me well until our car troubles began… and our stay was extended 5 extra days in a campsite with no drinking water or transportation (I may have been cursing my bag full of wool at that point :P…).
No worries though, both Rachel and I returned unharmed in Nova Scotia with a new found knowledge of Mechanics and Garages (who knows what you may learn when you go on a trip!). Also of course, a love for that giant, wild province out in the Atlantic ocean.
The sweater, as you can imagine was put on hold during our trip. I think I managed to complete most of the body while I was away but the rest was completed on PEI. My intention was to display the sweater at the Etsy Made in Canada Market which was at the end of September. I had about a month before I could complete not only a sweater but other items for our market table. And so I got to work…
My pattern for the yoke was not really set in stone. I didn’t write anything out. I actually just kept tabs on when to do my decreases and what made sense with the decreases and the pattern. This is the first time I actually hadn’t even drawn out a chart. This is how I knit my mittens, from memory and without a chart, so I felt like I could do a yoke too. I was really uncertain about how this one would turn out, but I trust the elves that they will look after me 😉 My vision was that it would be similar to the old style lopapeysur so my whole intention was to keep it simple, focusing on the diamonds and triangular mountain peaks (I tried to search for pictures of vintage Icelandic sweaters and came up with our sweaters… not quite google, not quite).
Messe [ocus] Pangur bán
And there you have it! My completed Pangur Bán sweater. It’s my more subtle take (with a lighter more flexible wool) on the 1970s/1980s designs. It is also a much closer fit than the older lopapeysur, but that also is due to the nature of the wool.
You may have questions about the name, which I am more than happy to answer! My cat’s name is Pangur Bán. His namesake is an Irish poem written in the margins of a manuscript in the 9th century. The author was an Irish monk, living in Austria at the time. He penned a poem detailing how his cat Pangur Bán (meaning literally something along the lines of “white fuller”) and him are quite alike in how they work, silently side by side while he searches for knowledge, Pangur diligently hunts mice. It’s a beautiful little poem. But why did I name the sweater after my cat/9th century Irish poem? Well, when I chose to use the gold as a contrasting colour, Pangur actually jumped up beside me looking for pets and I was struck by how similar the two were! A good friend of mine pointed out the similarities as well and I thought it would be the perfect name 🙂 I suppose you could also say that we worked silently side by side, however he is a terrible mouser and I am binge watching Tales from the Green Valley or Tudor Farm.
Lastly, I want to share with you the sweater all bundled up in our handmade packaging. Creating packaging for knit goods has taken us years. We have finally created handmade cotton drawstring bags to allow the wool garment to breath and just offer a unique little detail when receiving a specially made sweater. This was always on our “to-do” list but both Meaghan and I were busy as Masters students when we started this shop and then lived in different provinces. As you can imagine, it was difficult to get those details ironed out and put into action. I also often wrap things up as well in my hand-carved stamped, brown paper but the sweaters are now sent in bags.
making little lavender sachet for the journey, with handpicked lavender from our garden (showcased on my hand-stamped paper)
The sweater, bound in twine with a thank you card I illustrated based on a Grimms Fairy Tale
I always feel a little withdrawal when I finish a project that I have put quite a bit of time and thought into. So I look to future knits so I can be a happy house elf.
ARAN PULLOVER: Using leftover yarn (only 20 per cent wool) from last year. I’m planning to just make up a combinations of cables and have it loose fitting.
ARAN STOLE: I’ve been dreaming about making a thick, earthy cable-knit stole/shawl/scarf (whatever you want to call it). In the winter, I basically live in a lace stole that my mom made for me several years ago, so I’d love to have another one to give my lace a break. If anyone has any suggestions for wool (looking for aran weight, pretty durable and earthy… I hope that makes sense), please let me know!
ARAN SOCKS: a couple of months ago, I bought a vintage sock yarn that is Oh so nice. It would be perfect for one small, cute pair of aran socks. Now, I just need a pattern. If anyone knows of any small, aran sock patterns please let me know! I’m hoping to do a love knitting order soon, so if I need new needles for these I can get them then 🙂
LOPAPEYSA: I don’t know if I need to even add this, but of course I have some in mind and have already ordered wool. I have joined my sister to make some custom order ones again so I will be making my Winter Woodland in Ash for a customer as well as 2 more this winter that will likely have original designs and then be put up on the Etsy (wait until you see the colours!!)
And of course, I am making mittens, etc. while I wait for wool orders and find out where my mind is before I can start making. Can you tell I have a preference for Aran and Icelandic knitting…. 😀
I hope you enjoyed this post, please send me a message or leave a comment if you have any questions!
*Title of blog post is taken from Robin Flower’s English translation of Pangur Bán