Follow along as I set up Business, Quilt, Knit, Spin, Dye or Design a new pattern. I might take an Art Class or do a Photoshoot

Behind the scenes at Nancy Elizabeth Designs.

What a stunningly beautiful February day. The sun is shining like crazy and there is snow piled high on tree branches and fence rails. The birds even look happy. They flit about with joy and a spring in their step.

Just 2 more days until Valentines day and the anticipated arrival of our newest little family member. We are just so excited.

I’ve spent the last few weeks on custom work for a few of my customers.

Becky was looking for a luxury baby gift with a difference. We decided on a hand spun Angora and silk handknit baby shrug and matching hat. I call it Whisper. I searched through some of my vintage pattern books and online at vintage knitting site. Inspired by some of the vintage looks and a piece that I did a few years ago I came up with Whisper. The yarn is an amazing mixture of Angora fiber and Silk. They are so different in texture and appearance but come together to make a truly one-of-a-kind yarn with the best of both worlds. The fabric is fluffy and soft with a gorgeous halo but also has the added strength and unmistakable shine of the silk, not to mention the crispy feel that crunches like footsteps on very cold snow. It is tied at the neckline with a delicate pure silk ribbon. The hat is loosely based on a beret style hat from an old SRK pattern that I have loved over the years. It is the sweetest little cardigan and hat set in Marble. I looked for the pattern for days and days and I just couldn’t find it anywhere. Finally a wonderful friend on Ravelry sent me a scanned copy of it and saved the day. I promise we didn’t infringe on any copyrights as I really do own this one, just can’t seem to remember where I put it. The lace edging and the rose are hand crocheted from some very fine 100% handspun silk.

I knit a pair of casual socks for Carolyn. They were to have a casual look and go with her jeans. I am thrilled to report that she was very happy with the resulting socks.

Richard wanted the Turn a Square hat by Jared Flood (one of my own personal favorite designers). This project was a treat to knit and I was finished the first one in just a few days so we decided to knit another one with the colours reversed and it turns out that 2 of these hats can be knit with 2 x 50 gram balls but don’t do any extra rows as I only had about 1 yard left over.

Jamie asked me to spin some camel and silk yarn for her to knit a jacket for her brand new grandson in size 2. Congratulations Jamie and family!

I finally finished the Nube Garter Stitch socks and the Alpacalicious slippers with the leather soles and they have already been gifted.

Love one another

I’m taking the plunge. I want to learn to paint!

Spinning, Knitting, Weaving and Dyeing… even Sewing, Quilting and all kinds of designing are the things I just do, like falling off a log, I can do them in my sleep (almost). Been doing them all my life.

But Painting!    Now that is something I have never done before – ever – and let me tell you, it’s a lot more difficult than it looks. But I am going to do it and I’m keeping track of every step of the journey in this blog Art Apprentice Blog.

I am more than slightly overwhelmed and intimidated by it all.  When I first signed on to Art Apprentice Online, a few years ago, I bailed. When I got overwhelmed I pushed the pause button … but now I am “back in the saddle” giving these painting classes another try. I’m determined to ask questions and not to give up without some struggle.

I lack the “life of painting” experience that many of my fellow students probably have behind them. This is a retirement project for me. I also have the bar set pretty darn high. My Mom was a decorative artist extraordinaire. She has recently passed away and, while I will never be able to do what she did, I will do what I can do and maybe keep a little part of her with me.

I’ve signed myself up for too many classes and I don’t know where to start so I’ve decided to keep track of my progress in a blog if only to help myself to remember where I am at and see that I am actually progressing.

Do I dare to date this? ok… It’s Sunday January 26 2014. Let the games begin!

Winter Weather

It’s often cold in Southern Ontario, Canada in winter and it does snow here but this winter has been a winter to remember. We’ve had lots of days with record breaking low temperature and snowfalls, an ice storm with power outages to tell the grandchildren about and enough snow days to keep the kids really happy. Even though we spent our life savings on propane just to stay warm, and I didn’t really enjoy having my gall bladder removed, I really have enjoyed this winter overall. It’s so pretty to look outside at all that snow.  We’ve been feeding the birds and they’re just such a joy to watch and to get to know, especially exciting are the multitude of Cardinals we’ve welcomed in the last 2 years. As a knitter I didn’t have to feel guilty to just hunker down and knit and spin to my heart’s content. Nobody was going anywhere and it was nice and cosy warm in my home studio.

The Designs

I do have a few designs on the drawing board. The adult size “Top Down Hoodie” and another summer top called Wheat Fields as well as a couple of vests. “Frank’s Vest” is going to be a favorite, not to mention a few smaller things like the shrug I am doing for a customer, some socks that I am spinning and knitting for myself and the baby hat I just designed for my soon to be grandson :-))) Getting these written out and polished are a challenge for me because they involve a lot of thinking and computer time and, well, I’d rather be knitting…. so they get put on the back burner. I really need to give myself a big pat on the back for keeping track of all of my spinning and knitting project on Ravelry. At least, this way, I won’t forget – where’s my knitting at? I’ve had lots of custom work this winter too. I’ll post about that in February when I get them all photographed and shipped, or check out my progress on Ravelry.  The New Baby

One of the most exciting thing about this winter is the anticipation of the birth of our newest family member. As you can imagine this is always the most important and fun time to cast on and just be creative. I found this sweater and pants pattern at Drops Designs and improvise a hat to go with it. It was pure pleasure to knit this in Malabrigo Sock a luxurious pure merino wool yarn dyed to perfection. This yarn is a superwash (machine washable) which is very important for socks and new babies!

 

missing last page 34 for the Interweave Knits article on shaping sleeve caps

As always November and December are proving to be very productive months for knitting. There is just something about Thanksgiving and Christmas that makes me want to just turn out project after project so that everyone on my list gets something handknit. I’ll reserve the photos until after the gift giving has taken place so that I don’t spoil any surprises.

For those who are visiting from Interweave, looking for missing Page 34 of the article on shaping sleeve caps. click to zoom, rt click to save and hope this helps

OK a tiny sneak peak with no names

 

 

I’ve just added a couple more gift items for baby. I’ve put all of my handspun handknits at really good prices, much lower than I would usually need to ask for a special order. I had a great time knitting these throughout the year and got to do exactly what I wanted and love to do. If I can do that and even recover the price of the yarn I would consider myself a winner and hopefully you would too. That’s what I call a “win win” situation.

Hope you enjoy the Handknit Smocked Baby Sweater and Handknit Lace Baby Sweater

Sale!Out of stock HandKnit Smocked Baby Sweater in HandSpun Merino Wool & Silk $105.00 $79.00 Read More Sale! Hand Knit Merino Baby Sweater $99.00 $75.00 ADD TO CART Sale!Out of stock Vintage Style Handknit Cashmere Baby Dress $325.00 $252.00 Read More Sale!Out of stock Handspun Handknit Old Shale Lace Layette $157.00 $115.00 Read More

I just put up 3 single skeins of yarn on Etsy. Sometimes when I am spinning for a customer or a personal project I will get the first skein a little fine or a bit too thick for the order or I may have a skein left over from a knitting project. These single skeins will appear as only 1 available but you can always custom order most of the handspun yarns in your choice of yarn weights and hand dyed colours.

To see these skeins on Etsy: special prices available

The Eastport Alpaca in DK weight and natural snowy white colour, 2.1 oz. 132 yds The New Zealand Merino fleece imported as a raw fleece and washed and hand combed lock by lock, handspun by the worsted method to a very fine lace weight yarn and finally kettle dyed in Garnet. 1.75 oz. 250 yards The lace weight pure Angora Rabbit, the picture says it all 1.1 oz  140 yards

I’ve just added two new luxury gifts for baby to the shop section. Both are hand knit from hand spun yarns.

The pure cashmere dress was inspired by an old Beehive Baby booklet that I used to use for knitting for my own little babies many years ago and the Cashmere and Merino Layette is an original design but was also originally inspired by one of those old booklets from the 60s and 70s. I even had a few of those little books when I was a kid. I use to knit baby things because they didn’t take a lot of yarn. It was fine and gave me lots of knitting pleasure for my dollar. I was always a little different… when other kids were saving up for toys I was saving for yarn and many times when they all went out to play I would sit in the family room and listen to records while I happily knit away at my latest project. As you can tell, these two designs brought back a lot of memories for me. I hope you like them too. Don’t worry about washing them by hand it’s so easy and I will send you full instructions. Each will make a wonderfull and very special gift that will be put away as an heirloom and passed down through the generations. As always please contact me if you have any questions or need any help.

Ohhhh My what fun I’ve had over the last few days choosing my intitial order for my new account at Diamond yarns. I’ll have so many more yarns to choose from when creating new designs for patterns and also for your custom hand knits. I probably won’t list them all on the web site here but if you want anything from Diamond I’ll do my best to get it for you. Please do check out my Etsy store as there just might be a little more listed there. I can’t always keep them exactly co-ordinated.

I’ve ordered several Interchangeable Knitting Needles sets by Knitters Pride and a huge great order of Malabrigo’s new Merino Roving for hand spinners spinning and dyeing. OMG you have to see and feel this!

I’ve been getting TONS of requests for custom work in the last few months. Part of that is because the Custom Handknit Sweaters page managed to get to the number one position in google for any related search terms. I know that’s a good thing but I just can’t knit that fast

The Mohair Vest:

I had a friend bring me a bag of various mohair yarns from a yard sale and ask me what I could do with them. It was a wonderful challenge because she knows what to wear and always looks so fabulous in everything. There was only enough for a vest so we agreed upon a great design by Sally Melville “The Asymmetrical Vest” from her book The Knitting Experience: Book 1: The Knit Stitch. I liked the pattern but it was written for beginning beginners and there was just so much text to read every time there was a direction to follow. I found it confusing and had trouble keeping my place. Just my personal preference, I would choose a graphic pattern every time to knit from. I used 2 strands of the mohair together and the suggested needles. The biggest issue with this vest was the ends every time I changed colour. I tried weaving them in and found it was going to be very difficult to hide them so I just started knitting them in where ever I could and it seemed to work better. I had to be very careful with blocking. It could change in either width or length with a light pull when wet. It took a while to get it into the correct shape to dry. The wooden buttons really worked out well. Marilyn just loved it.

The Harry Potter Sweater “Weasley”

I’m using Knit Picks Wool of the Andes for this sweater. I will knit the body and add the initial in duplicate stitch at the end. I will avoid intarsia at all costs, just a personal “thing” with me. I started this by knitting a good big swatch that gave me a gauge of 18 sts x 24 rows = 4″ before wash and block. It grew when wet and I thought it might stay there but it bounced right back when it dried. The pattern gauge is 16×24 so I had to adjust the number of sts to cast on. I actually need 37.5 for 4 inches of ease so decided to cast on the adult medium 82 sts plus 2 selvage sts. So far this is a great meditative knit. 25 ” of straight st st for the back. OMmmmmm.

The pattern for this sweater is designed by Alison Hansel and published in Charmed Knits  as well as free online at Canadian Living Magazine

 

A new design in progress – I guess that would be a DIP, right?

Handspun Breed Specific Romney Wool, Hand Dyed for new pattern design Grace

Along with the Custom Fit Sweater for Amy Herzog and her team (beta testing) I’ve been working on a few custom orders and a new designs that I will call Grace after my Mom who just passed away last year at this time. Mom was my mentor, my soul mate, my best friend and the one who taught and inspired me to knit and be creative in so many way. She was also my biggest fan and alway gave me so much encouragement. Well, anyway, the new design is Grace. It will be an elegant but casual cardigan/jacket and will be spectacular for showing off hand dyed and handspun yarns. Super stylish and super easy to knit and fit, you will knit it all from the top down in one piece with no seaming or finishing. I’m including a few “sneak peak” pictures that will give you a feel for the design without giving it away. This sweater allowed me some freedom to play with my dyes, my spinning techniques and let my imagination run free. It is also part of my study in Breed Specific and Rare Breed Wools.

The wool in this garment is Romney.  The Romney breed evolved from medieval longwool types. The fibers are long, silky and strong without being prickly. A very good wool to use for durability where you need something sturdy  and not overly soft and delicate. My Romney is one of the Canturbury Prize Wool Group imported from New Zealand by Louet Sales. These wools are breed-specific fibers that are handled in such a way as to retain their unique qualities. “Working with Wadsworth Heap Ltd, a fiber supplier in New Zealand, each fleece in this line is grown with passion and great care; each is chosen with a critical eye, scoured in a modern scouring plant, and carded with pride on gentle machinery to maintain the fibre’s integrity and give spinners maximum enjoyment.” So far I have totally enjoyed working with them. If you are interested in having any of these wools custom handspun for a project please just email me. I will get them on the web site eventually, but in the mean time…