Summer Travels

What a summer it has been! I have so much to tell you, so I’ll start with the biggest thing: I went to Manila! I work with a company that has offices in several places in the world, and most of my department happens to be in Manila in the Philippines. Over the last year and a half that I’ve worked in this department I’ve been emailing, messaging, and calling my team, but there is nothing quite like meeting someone in person. I feel so lucky to have been able to travel for work. I never thought I would be a jet-setting world traveler, but I suppose I’ve had a taste of that now.

My trip was 2 weeks long in the beginning of June. I packed 2 knitting projects and some spinning for good measure, but I barely touched my projects at all while I was away. Let’s dive right in with all the pictures!

The flight from the US to Manila is no joke. I had 3 flights, the longest of which was 14 hours. The total travel time including layovers was about 24 hours, so by the time I landed I was beyond exhausted. But my day wasn’t over yet. I knew if I went to sleep immediately my internal clock would be messed up all week, so I pulled myself together and went into the office long enough to say hi to everyone.

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The next few days were a blur of work and meeting new people. I ate a lot of good food every single day. If you are ever hungry in Manila, that is totally your fault because the food there is awesome!! Or as they say in Tagalog, “Masarap!”

The Philippines is on the other side of the world from the US, so our night is their day. In order to work smoothly with the US offices, the Manila office is most active at night. Working night shift long term would be a big change, but it was quite convenient not to have to change my day to day schedule. Over the weekend we had a team building activity planned during the day, so we had to switch over to day shift. This was difficult, to say the least, but it enabled me to go out and see a little of Manila.

We went all over: The Manila Hotel where the President of the Philippines holds special events, the oldest church in Manila, the National musums… And friends, I found YARN!

We got food (of course), and rode a Calesa, which is a kind of horse-drawn buggy.

The next day was our team building. We learned a lot and had a lot of fun. Pro tip: Filipinos love Karaoke, so if you’re traveling over there brush up on your singing!

The next day (Monday, if you’re keeping track) was time to transition back to night shift. But, this was my best option to go shopping while I was in Manila. A few of my friends took me to the mall to buy ALL THE THINGS.

I tried something called Kwek-kwek, which is hard-boiled quail eggs that are then battered and fried. Delicious, and very fatty.

The 2nd week was similar to the first, and before I knew it the time had come to leave for the airport. But wait, the team couldn’t let me live without a party!

I had such a wonderful time getting to meet my team and form personal friendships with them. I can’t wait to go back and see my friends again!

I Finished the Blanket

I usually have a hard time getting large projects done. Having a deadline helps with that because it helps me push through that stage where I just can’t stand to look at the project anymore. That’s what it was like with my nephew’s baby blanket. I bought the yarn (Anchor Bay by Cascade) and pattern (Bounce by Tin Can Knits) and got started. The first colour sequence went satisfyingly quickly.

The second set of stripes went a little more slowly, and by the time I got to the 3rd stripey section I was ready to put the blanket down for a while.

Only, at that point the baby was due in less than a month. So I powered through and made myself work on it when I had time. I live far away from my family, so one of the main ways my nephew will know me is through my knitting. Knitting is important. Knitting is love.

I finished the knitting a week before my Sister-in-Law’s due date. That’s when I realized I had a massive problem: 80 ends to sew in.

Here again I wanted to throw in the towel. I thought about leaving a decorative fringe on one side of the blanket, but realized that could be dangerous. So I took a deep breath, turned on a movie, and got to work. It took me several evenings to sew all the ends in, but like everything else in life, if you work on it consistently it will eventually get done.

The yarn I used is a 50/50 cotton/superwash merino blend and is meant to be laundered like normal clothing. This is a huge reason I chose this yarn. Babies make messes, and cleanup needs to be as easy as possible. Once I finished sewing in the ends I screwed up my courage and put the blanket in the washer and dryer. It didn’t shrink or felt. In fact, it looked great coming out of the dryer…except that a few of the yarn tails had worked their way to the front. I didn’t see a long-term solution to this problem, so I left things as they are. With any luck this blanket will be chewed on and dragged around so much that a few visible ends will be the least of anyone’s worries.

Tiny Creatures Everywhere!

Last time I wrote, I told you about the blanket I was making for my nephew. I am pleased to tell you that he was born last week, and both he and his mother are home and doing well.

A while ago I asked my Sister-in-law if she wanted anything for her nursery, and she asked for a Narnia-themed baby mobile. I’d never made a mobile before, but I asked myself, how hard can it be? and dived right in. I saw 2 main options: knitting or felting. Felting seemed the faster and more detailed route, so that’s what I did.

I made a lion…

Lucy Pevensie…

Mr. Tumnus…

and a book.

I made the frame of the mobile with a medium and very thin dowel and some hemp cord.

I think it turned out quite nicely!

When I finished with it I sent it to my sister, who makes the most adorable tiny knitted animals.

She added a hedgehog and a rabbit…

a sheep…

and a bumblebee.

I couldn’t be more pleased with how the mobile turned out. I hope it sparks my nephew’s imagination for a long time to come.

Bouncy Bouncy!

My brother and his wife are expecting their first child this May. Being a knitter and a first time aunt, I feel compelled to knit my nephew something, so I’ve started a Bounce blanket. I’ve wanted to knit Bounce since Tin Can Knits put the pattern out several years ago, and I’m thrilled to finally have a reason to make it!

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I played around with colours (my husband helped) and came up with 2 shades of teal, 2 shades of yellow, and cream (the nursery will be decorated in teal and yellow). The stitch pattern in this blanket is a very simple 5-row lace, but it does require a SSP, which is like an SSK but on the purl side. Not the most fun stitch, but after working it 100 times it becomes a lot less scary.

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The other thing I’m not so enthusiastic about is all those ends to weave in. I think I should start on those now so I’m not so overwhelmed when the blanket is finally finished.

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The project bag I am using is from Twist Fiber Studio and matches my project perfectly. That makes me happy.

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This past weekend I went to visit my grandmother and I brought the blanket to show her. She looks so knitterly sitting there with it on her lap.

I am 6 stripes from the finish line and the baby is due in less than a month, so I better get knitting!

Birthday Cake

Sunday was my husband’s birthday, so I made him a cake. There is nothing quite like a made from scratch cake to show your love. We had talked about it earlier in the year and to my surprise he said he wanted a chocolate peanut butter cake (he is not a big peanut butter fan). So I trolled the internet for the perfect recipe, and lo and behold I found it! I compiled my ingredients and began baking.

While the cake layers were baking and cooling I made the peanut butter whipped filling and the chocolate ganache.

I trimmed the cake layers…

Then began assembly.

The last step was lettering. I practiced a bit before trying it on the real thing. The key is to go slowly and to follow through on every stroke.

The cake turned out so well! I even had 2 people tell me that they didn’t normally like peanut butter, but they liked my cake!!

The recipe took me the majority of a day to make, once you count baking and cooling and chilling times, and the time was well worth it! I made the cake pretty much as instructed. The only change I made was to add about 1/4 cup less sugar than called for.

Would I make this cake again? Definitely! Should you make this cake? Absolutely!!

Sampling

It’s been quite a while since SAFF, but I’m still working through my class fiber samples. Here are a few yarns I’ve recently finished.

My most recent spin was a BFL/silk blend top in a purple to pink ombre. You can see it on the bottom left in the picture above. I had planned to spin it as a thick singles, but alas, my singles were thin (I need to work on that). So I changed course and chain plied the yarn to keep the colour order intact.

I didn’t add a lot of twist to the singles, and I’m delighted with how fluffy and soft this yarn is!

I also have a pair of yarns I’ve been spinning for quite a while now. In the topmost picture they are the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th samples from the top (these are also BFL/silk blends).

I spun the 2 samples with purple in them (2nd and 3rd from the top) separately, and then plied them with extra twist.

Then I spun my 3rd sample (4th from the top) in the same direction I had plied the previous yarn in and plied the yarns together again to create a crepe yarn.

I ended up with sister skeins. The 2-ply is a fingering weight, and the crepe is a DK weight.

I’m almost done spinning through my class samples. I’ll have to take a picture of them all together when I’m finished. Then it will be time to find the perfect project(s) for them. I can’t wait!

I Love Batts!

I talked a lot about SAFF after I went in October, but there’s 1 more thing I learned that I didn’t tell you about: I love spinning batts! Batts are fluffy swathes of carded wool and they are such a delight to spin! After sampling some batts we made in class I made it a point to buy one that I could enjoy more fully.

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Just look at it. Isn’t it lovely? I bought it from Katelyn of DunnSpunn (She’s fabulous! You should check her out!! She had a pair of batts in her shop that were inspired by Anne of Green Gables and her best friend Diana. I wasn’t fast enough to snag them.) The colourway is called Candied Pumpkin, and it’s 3.1 oz of wool, mohair, bamboo, soy fiber and Angelina. I carefully unrolled the batt, stripped it, and spun. If you’re used to spinning worsted you will be amazed at how quickly woolen yarn spins up. I spun up the singles in an evening and a morning, and plied them with some deep green laceweight singles I had leftover from my Lilting Leaves spin.

I love how this yarn turned out. There are thick and thin spots and locks hanging out, and I have sparkly Angelina all over my house, but it’s so worth it. This yarn is gorgeous, and once I figure out how to showcase it in all its glory I’ll make it up into something lovely.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I have another batt lying around somewhere.