A Belated Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A belated Merry Christmas wish to everyone! Hope your holidays were filled with love, laughter, an abundance of food and quiet moments to do some knitting. I, myself, managed to squeeze in a few rows and put finishing touches on a couple of projects that I cannot wait to share with you.

Gift Knitting - Cable Cardigans

Sunday, December 18, 2016

 I’ve been knitting a lot of things in duplicates lately. As everyone knows when you have 2 children you cannot get just one of anything, that’s playing with fire. So if I knit for friends’ kids or my nieces, it all has to be double. Which makes it feel like there is little progress on my projects, and I find that truly frustrating. Couple that with the fact that it feels like my list of bookmarked patterns is only growing, and I am a very aggravated knitter. However, nothing satisfies an irritated knitter more than FO’s . I am happy to be able to wrap up these adorable cardigans and send them on their way to Austria. But not before I tell you a little bit about them. This pattern really is at the top of my list of favourite kids knits. I already know I will be knitting it a third (sigh) time for my own little girl. 

I love the fact that the pattern is written for a variety of sizes, and because it calls for an Aran weight yarn it is a relatively quick knit.  The cabled yoke gives it some texture and adds a lovely intricate detail to a relatively straight-forward knit. I chose to knit the body a little longer than it calls for and  the hems on the sleeves long enough so that they can be folded over, this way the cardigan can be grown into and be worn for a little longer. There is enough ease built into the chest sizes to allow for that (I hope).
I tried two different types of yarn to make these and I am happy that both yarns seem to work for this pattern. The Luxury Collection Lima Tinto yarn is 100% wool with a fuzzy texture that should keep the wearer warm and cozy. It knits up great at the required gauge. The striped colorway adds an element of playfulness to the cardigan which I particularly like (pictures of that version are on my Ravelry page ). My second choice was the Berocco Vintage yarn, as it is for a 3 year old and will probably get dirty a little faster and I think that the washability of the Berocco is essential in this case. I found it to also be a suitable yarn for this pattern, though the gauge was a bit off, I chose to knit a larger size in the smaller gauge, because I felt otherwise the fabric was not turning out properly, and it worked out beautifully (if you are interested, the project details are on ravelry here).
I cannot wait to see them worn, used and loved and I wish I could be present when they are unwrapped for the first time.

Discovering Portuguese yarn

Sunday, December 11, 2016

For me, no trip is complete without a visit to a local yarn shop. Prior to our vacation in Portugal I did quite a bit of research to decide on which one I would duck into during our stay in Lisbon. There were a few to choose from, but as much as I would love to do a yarn crawl in many destinations, there is no way I could expect the family to join along with the same enthusiasm such an endeavor would elicit in me. 

I chose to go to “Retrosaria Rosa Pomar”  and let me tell you, I was not disappointed by my choice.
If, actually no, WHEN I go back to Lisbon I would love to try one of her classes and see if I can learn the Portuguese style of knitting, which she teaches at her shop.

It is a charming yarn shop, tucked away on the second floor of a building in the lively Baixa neighborhood. The space is airy, with yarn spilling from vintage suitcases and off rustic tables. The choices offered are also great. I am starting to become increasingly fascinated with trying locally sourced yarns. I like the idea of  supporting a movement that is bringing focus to sustaining and bringing back to life an industry like the one behind  sheep and wool. My decision to visit this shop was cemented by this post on the Tolt blog a while back where Rosa and her shop were introduced. 

I could not leave the shop without having invested in a few well-chosen skeins. This lovely fingering weight Mé-Mé 2 Ply yarn is currently on my needles and turning into a beautiful Guernsey triangle.

Then there’s a sweater’s worth of worsted weight Beiroa yarn, made from the wool of Bordaleira Serra da Estrela sheep (doesn’t that just roll off the tongue ?) which I have earmarked for Carrie Bostick Hogue’s Shore Cardigan.

And last but not least I convinced a friend visiting Portugal only a few weeks after me to stop by and bring back enough of this yarn to possibly make Hannah Fettig's Gable sweater.

I cannot wait to be able to show you the FO’s once done, and hopefully not a year from now!

A vacation dream realized

Saturday, December 3, 2016

It feels like ages ago, but maybe it’s better I’ve taken so long to put together this blog post about our summer vacation. It feels right to do it now, because as the weather becomes increasingly cold and gray, looking at pictures of a sunny destination makes me happy.

My husband and I talked about visiting Portugal for years! He is of Portuguese descent and has very fond memories of visiting as a child. But the summers passed, we had kids, booked other destinations, just never Portugal. But this year it finally happened, we spent a glorious 14 days exploring Lisbon and a bit of the Algarve coast.

The beach stay in Portimao on the Algarve Coast gave us the opportunity to meet friends, relax, have delicious food, talk late into the night over a glass of wine while listening to the rhythmic crash of the waves on the shore and taking deep breaths of salty ocean air. I did not want that week to end. We spent the days lazing around at the beach, building sandcastles, jumping head-first into waves. We took naps. I read a book and did some knitting. I completed disconnected, it felt so great to slow down and forget about everything, live in the moment.

Returning to Lisbon, we adopted a quicker pace. We stayed in a tiny but adorable apartment in the old part of town, Alfama. A perfect location in my opinion, it puts you in the heart of the city. I loved hearing the sounds of all the goings-on drifting in the open windows. At night, while everyone else was asleep, I’d lay awake (as I found out white wine gives me insomnia) listening to the clinking of dishes from the restaurants close-by, the excited chatter of locals and tourists alike, the fado singers entertaining guests. Similarly, early mornings were signaled by the clattering of roller suitcases over cobblestones, tourists departing or arriving, the smell of freshly baked pasteis nata wafting through the alleys.

We took our time exploring different neighborhoods, all of which have a distinct charm and their own vibe. There are countless things I loved about the city,  the black and white cobblestone streets with all its mosaics, the ceramic tiled colorful buildings, the lemon tree lined streets, the hidden alleys, the brilliant blue skies, the viewpoints dotted all over the seven hills that make up the city, the funiculars which are national treasures, the fresh sea food, I could go on and on. There are so many more corners that have been left unexplored and that I cannot wait to discover one day.

I took countless pictures and I will leave you here with a  sampling of my favourites.

All images via my Instagram account.