Sunday, 4 December 2016

Donegal sweater finished at long last

Almost to my surprise I finally finished my "Donegal" sweater, an Alice Starmore design. My Ravelry project page tells me I cast on in July 2013 - and it seems I haven't touched it since perhaps February 2015. For whatever reason I suddenly got it out the day before yesterday for a diagnosis. Good news: only 1/4 of a sleeve left to knit. Great news: no moth holes! It only took two evenings to finish it, so I wonder what made me put it aside for almost two years - I usually accelerate towards the end of a project. Maybe there was something I've chosen to forget, like getting the colour changes all wrong for a few rows? We'll see.




One thing I do remember is having difficulties deciding where and how to end the front and back for a shoulder join without major pattern cracks and collisions. I even think I modified the chart slightly, which feels practically sacrilegous. (Meddling with a Starmore chart!) Perhaps I get a needle and some leftovers to embroider stitches so that the lines near the neckband meet. To me it looks as if someone took a bite, which in a way is rather charming.

shoulder join


The negative thing is that I ended up with sleeves that are too wide: to get where I wanted in the chart I had to knit more rows than I otherwise would have done. On the other hand, it turned out an oversized sweater (or perhaps I'm undersized?) so it doesn't matter much.

Since summer I've been toying with brioche scarves, using increases, decreases and short rows to achieve zigzag effects. These three scarves are all made with Visjö yarn from Östergötlands ullspinneri, extremely addictive wool.

Z scarves

The past few months I've been teaching unusually much (two weekends a month at HV in Stockholm, for example) which is fantastic. Only a few years ago I never would have guessed there'd be so many opportunites to teach knitting, so I count myself extremly lucky being able to combine my profession and my lifelong hobby. This blog gets to starve, though - imagine dreary posts about my writing instructions. I'd rather write about my private projects here, even though they are few and far between these days, "they" referring to projects as well as blog posts ;-)

Happy knitting!


En av många fördelar med att ha ett frikostigt antal projekt på gång samtidigt är att det plötsligt kan gå väldigt snabbt att avsluta ett av dem. För mig är det något av en gåta varför jag har låtit tröjan Donegal ligga i nästan två år fast det bara var ungefär en fjärdedels ärm kvar. Ärmarna har jag stickat direkt på kroppen, så det var inte ens någon montering kvar. Nå, härom kvällen fick den komma ut och nosa i alla fall, och med så pass lite arbete kvar tog det faktiskt inte mer än ett par kvällar att få den klar. Tack och lov kunde jag inte hitta några gnaghål eller så!

Däremot minns jag att jag fick fundera en del på hur jag skulle få ihop det över axlarna med så få mönsterkrockar som möjligt. Visserligen hittade jag ett bra varv i diagrammet, men jag fick rita om det lite för att inte påbörja nya mönsterformer som bara skulle bli stympade direkt. Det innebar också att jag stickade några fler varv än jag annars skulle ha gjort, så tröjan är i största laget - speciellt ärmarna. Det går nog inte att lura någon att tro att det döljer sig kraftiga bicepsmuskler under dem.

Annars har jag lekt med patentstickning en hel del, kombinerat ökningar och minskningar på olika sätt för att få lite roliga former på halsdukar. Tre av dem syns på fotot ovan, samtliga i Visjögarn från Östergötlands ullspinneri. 

Det blir inte så många plagg som förr, och därför inte heller så många uppdateringar här. Det beror framför allt på att jag har fått fler uppdrag som kursledare i stickning än jag hade vågat drömma om, så mycket av min sticktid går åt till att tänka ut uppgifter, skriva instruktioner till dem och teststicka. Det är otroligt givande att arbeta med kurser, men den processen ser jag inte som överdrivet blogg-kompatibel.


Tuesday, 19 July 2016

"The early bird gets the worm...

but the second mouse gets the cheese." I read this hilarious addition to the proverb recently - perhaps it's commonplace and I simply haven't come across it before? Anyway, it would have come in handy a few weeks ago when I taught knitting in Kiruna in the far north of Sweden, the perfect time of the year if you want to see the midnight sun.

Fortunately, I never had difficulties falling asleep when it's light - and anyway most nights were cloudy - but it was rather confusing suddenly waking up and worrying I was late for my class before realising it was only perhaps 1.30 am and plenty of hours left to sleep.

Getting there from Stockholm (ca 1200 kilometers) takes quite a few hours, not least if you decide to travel by car. A great opportunity to spend time together with three friends! There was a lot of time to knit too, except when I was driving, of course - here's one reason to pay attention as documented by friend, fellow traveller and car owner Eva. (I'm not like a multi-tasking friend who once showed me his way of tatting while he was driving - something I found equally impressive and unnerving.)

Mini projects are great in a car, even in an unusually spacious one. I've practically finished my twined project based on charts in Richard Rutt's A History of Hand Knitting. For quite a while it came in handy as its own project bag:

self-contained
The light is strange, but I'll blame it on the midnight sun - this was rather late at night.

As usual, one thing leads to another, so I decided to knit a couple of mini cushions combining two of the same ingredients, namely charts from Rutt's book and twined knitting. For the smaller one (similar to a mini tube I wrote about in a previous post) I used 1½ mm needles and for the bigger (or less small) one 2 mm.




I'm going to give the blue and white one to my mother as a surprise. She likes this colour combination, has a thing for small objects and is fond of birds, so to me her name is practically written all over it.



You may wonder why I write a post if it's meant to be a surprise. Actually, she's on her way here for a few days' visit as I'm typing, so she won't know before I give it to her later this afternoon.




Saturday, 18 June 2016

Twined news

There's a new Norwegian book about twined knitting - I heard about it recently (thanks, Heidi!) and sent for it straight away, of course. Such books are few and far between. It arrived yesterday, so I'm happily learning about Norwegian traditions. It's fascinating how different their use of the same technique is. To be honest, I didn't know much before - really only about their covering mittens with loops of yarn and then turning them inside out to get the purl ridges on the outside. I know a lot more now!



Speaking of twined knitting, I made a twined mini purse recently to test a pattern idea. Mini as in room for a couple of USB sticks.



Monday, 13 June 2016

Twined & brioche projects



Today my friend Andrew gave me a charming tatting book from 1944 - there are many beautiful patterns in it, so I feel like getting my shuttles out again. I don't have the nails to match them, but at least I do have a new twined knitting project to match the cover.

The patterns are from A History of Hand Knitting by Richard Rutt, actually the very same cushion I got last post's pattern from, but I'm using thicker yarn and needles. Or, rather, not as thin: 500 metres/100 gr wool-silk blend and 2 mm needles.

Gauge curious? 54 stitches = 10 cm/4 in

Yesterday I added a finishing touch to a pair of twined mittens I finished last year. They were slightly too wide, so I felted them by hand and now they fit perfectly - and the fact that I love both grey and stripes doesn't hurt.


For the mittens I used wool from Östergötlands ullspinneri. It works beautifully for brioche knitting too, and I've made two brioche scarves recently using their variegated wool. (Knitting with 4 mm needles almost felt like cheating now that I've been into 1.25 - 2 mm for a while.)




With felted twined mittens and two scarves I should be well prepared for Midsummer - it normally gets rather cold then, or perhaps that's just my impression?

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Happy new year!

Yes, I know we're in June, but I realise this is my first blog post this year. Not that I've been hibernating, but I've mostly been swatching for new workshops and suppose I haven't really felt like blogging about them, even though I do enjoy swatching. However, here's one of them: it's for a two-week course starting on Friday at HV in Stockholm.



No, I'm not a giant (anyone who has met me will be able to testify) although you might think so comparing the stitches to my hand. This is my personal gauge record, 70 stitches to 10 cm/4 in, which I managed by combining twined knitting and 1½ mm needles. The pattern is from Richard Rutt's A History of Hand Knitting.

Speaking of books, here's a photo of a treasure, a stunning collection of Latvian mitten patterns available from Sena Klets. Actually, I've seen this book before, but now that I have an English copy I can read about culture and traditions too. Extremely highly recommended! (Time to go back to planning and proof-knitting, but hopefully it won't be another five months before next post...)


Thursday, 31 December 2015

Mr Mosaic

Mosaic knitting has given me ideas - I've been experimenting with hats knitted sideways, combining mosaic knitting and garter stitch. Not quite there yet as one of them is slightly too big and the felted one is slightly too small, but I like them anyway. They look like rainbows with icing:



My Japanese-inspired mosaic sweater is finished - or at least practically finished. I might reknit the neckband, adding a few rows too it, but otherwise I'm very happy with how it fits. For my first neckband attempt I chose a darker shade of green to match the last patterned row, but the distance between them made the neckband look a lot darker, so I gave it another try with a lighter and brighter shade of green.



A good thing about the lighter shade is that it works better with the sleeve cuffs, where I added a small mosaic pattern. Perhaps I could call the sweater Babar? (The cuffs remind me of his feet, which is why I didn't choose a brown shade - who wants to wear dirty toenails?)



This sweater needed extra side panels or it would have been slightly too tight for my taste. (Also, there isn't much weight to lose when it comes to my rather scrawny chest, and sawing off a couple of ribs wasn't a particularly tempting idea.) I was prepared for this early on but decided not to make up my mind until I had knitted the sleeves, although my idea was to make use of a contruction I tried a few years ago knitting (and modifying) another design by Marianne Isager. I actually enjoy turning something necessary into an opportunity to add a nice finishing touch to a project.

side panel
This solution, using slipped stitches to create columns, echoes how the sleeves go with the body; casting off from the right side creates a ridge in the middle that not only goes with the shoulder joins, but also blends with the seam under the sleeve.

Finally, a couple of short-row details before ending this year's last and rather self-congratulatory blog post:

short rows that create a sleeve cap

short rows that create a sleeve gusset sideways

Happy new year!



Thursday, 10 December 2015

Mosaic sweater progress





It took some thinking and rethinking (not to mention knitting and reknitting) before I made up my mind about the sleeves. I decided patterned sleeves would be too much of a good thing; instead they would be grey with slipped stitches to create vertical lines like the ones in the body, the one in the centre elongating the line created by the shoulder join.

Here's the first attempt - or, rather, the third one, but the first one I took a photo of:


The slipped-stitch lines are evenly spaced, with the same number of stitches between them as there are between the lines on the back and front. A good idea in theory but less so in practice; it would look just fine if the sleeve was a separate unit (a not particularly useful garment) but attached to the body it simply doesn't look very tidy.


Here's the final arrangement, where the lines blend with the mosaic pattern repeats. This solution entailed narrower centre panels, but I actually think it looks as if this might be the original thought rather than a solution:



Right now I'm thinking of different mosaic pattern ideas for the cuffs to add some colour to them. Also, I will probably also add something to the provisional neckband.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

The explorer

At long last I'm working on a mosaic knitting project. I've been interested in using the technique beyond swatches for quite a few years but not until now did I come up with the right mix of ingredients.


Kose (Visjö wool from Östergötlands ullspinneri) is a favourite colourway of mine, changing gradually from brown to different shades of green - beautiful on its own but in my opinion even more so against a neutral background like very light grey. Got the colour combination. Pattern next.

Labyrinth pattern

Marianne Isager (ever read that name here before?) has designed quite a few garments using mosaic knitting and slipped stitches, for example a child's sweater "Labyrinth" in her book Inca Knits. I always loved Greek key patterns, and this one works well with the Kose colour changes.

Rice fields pattern

For comparison I also cast on to try (a modified version of) Isager's "Rice Fields" from Japanese Inspired Knits, and must say I prefer it in spite of my love of Greek keys: the structure adds an element I like, and the overall effect will be a lot lighter. But what really made it an easy, practically natural, decision was the Japanese key word.

You see, I suddenly remembered why they named this colourway Kose: Chie Kose is a Japanese designer who asked the spinnery for this particular combination of these particular shades. Joining the two Japanese aspects felt like the obvious choice - and in my book a whiff of Danish never hurts.


Thursday, 22 October 2015

The orange cast of thought

The cardigan I wrote about in my previous post is finished. I liked the wool a lot, Yaku from CaMaRose. It was sligthly worrying when I washed and blocked it, because it grew like mad when wet. Fortunately, it gradually shrank to exactly the size I had knitted.




There was enough green wool to make a hat; I used a pattern from the same book by Danish designer Lene Holme Samsøe. The cable pattern is the same that is used between the cardigan raglan increases, although you can't see them in the photos above.



All of a sudden it dawned on me - it will arrive just in time for Halloween! The poor baby will look like a pumpkin wearing the cardigan and hat at the same time...

Speaking of Halloween, check out this post at Bent objects!



Saturday, 17 October 2015

Uncle Asplund

Earlier this week I suddenly had to drop all my works in progress and get some new wool. A friend of mine wrote to tell me he and his wife are parents! We were really close friends when we were both students in the 1990s - well, we still are, but they live in the States, so we haven't seen each other for several years now and our correspondence (always handwritten letters!) is quite irregular. Not that such things matter when it comes to genuine frienship - and his way of expressing the news was a delight to read: you're an uncle! (Neither of us has a biological brother.)


Normally, I want to make garments for adults, so this urge must be caused by some natural, avuncular instinct. As I admire Lene Holme Samsøe's designs, choosing one of her baby cardigans was an easy decision. (Ravelry link here.) The stranded garter pattern is my modification, which I added mainly to add the name to make it more personal. They must be excellent parents considering they've chosen a name that is easy to knit, right?



Monday, 12 October 2015

The accidental lens louse

A few days a week I work in a yarn store - today a customer surprised me by handing me a crossword featuring a photo from one of my workshops! (I seem to be writing more about turning up in media than about my knitting these last few posts. Well, it is a fairly new thing for me, so I hope you'll excuse me that I get so excited!)

Now I'm rather curious what the yellow boxes will say when they're filled in. "Triumphal march of the alpha males"? Other suggestions?

"Alfahannarnas paradmarsch"?

A funny thing is that I was actually wearing the very sweater in the photo at work today! Not that it's such an unusual thing: I don't think I've ever been as happy with a sweater as with this particular one, Hanne Falkenberg's Studio Long, and wear it if not daily at least every week. And some weeks daily: this time of the year it's perfect instead of a jacket.

Over to some comments/questions on my previous post:

AlpakkaAnna: ja, det var synd att vi missar varandra på syfestivalen! Men du kanske hinner titta in i butiken på fredagen? Då är jag där hela dagen.

Salve, Sarah! You're quite right I taught Latin - how nice to have a knitter Latin colleague! I got the yarn and pattern through my local yarn store in Stockholm. As I understand it, you can only get them through dealers, not her website. Try www.swedishyarn.com, which seems to be her North American representative. Feliciter!

Thanks for telling me about Jan Brett, knitbrei! Haven't heard of her before - always nice to learn something new!

Inge: to be honest, I'm not sure myself! I've never met anyone called Lavold, only heard her name pronounced by other people - and some say Lávold while others say Lavóld... Maybe someone who reads this will know for certain?

Thank you, Christine! You always write such kind comments :-)


Saturday, 3 October 2015

Busy September


Where did September go? In my case mainly workshops! Not only the workshops themselves, but also planning them. For example, even though stranded colourwork has been a favourite pattern technique of mine for some 30 years I actually haven’t taught it before. High time!

I do enjoy all aspects of workshops: the best thing is meeting the participants, of course, but I also really like planning content, writing and rewriting instructions, and swatching. To the extent that I often swatch swatches... (“Hmm, in this case 96 stiches would be even better than 100” and so on.) Also, I’m grateful I get opportunities to be a teacher, which was my profession for some ten years but which I quit a couple of years ago. In short, I miss the teenagers and my colleagues, but not the school system. Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with details. I'll write about some sweaters instead!

 
Hanne Falkenberg's Bellis

I finished the "Bellis" sweater, a design by Hanne Falkenberg, just in time for a friend's birthday. Funny - and how typical - that I suddenly had only some ten days to finish it considering I cast on at least half a year ago. Well, at least I managed - and it was even dry when I wrapped it up.

With a sweater off the needles I felt ready for  My friend Lena and I decided we'd both knit Alice Starmore's sweater Na Craga, which is on the cover of her book Aran Knitting. Confession time: I'm being unfaithful to Alice Starmore, using Cascade 220 instead of her Hebridean 3 ply.

Alice Starmore's Na Craga

Another highlight in September was a book release: "Sagornas stickbok" by Celia B Dackenberg. She used illustrations in children's book as her starting point, turning them into real garments in a kind of reverse process. She did a similar thing in "Ylle & bläck" - wool & ink - a few years ago, a book about writers and their real and fictional knitwear, and I have been hoping for a sequel since I first came across it. My sweater Thorsten fiskares tröja was based on a pattern in "Ylle & bläck". 

To brag, I found the book release extra thrilling since I actually made one of the garments in the book, a brownish grey brioche sweater. It was quite a challenge using a picture instead of a pattern to make a sweater that not only should be true to the illustration but also possible for others to knit. And hopefully comfortable to wear. I learnt so much from it – thank you, Celia, for inviting me to take part in this project!

an old in-progress picture of my sweater interpretation

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Wool spa

My feet never felt better than after an opportunity to "tread wool" at Skansen this afternoon. Fulling is the correct word in English, isn't it?


I managed to add to my stash too: two shades of grey of a wonderfully soft blend of wool, angora and alpaca. Perhaps mittens with a pattern inspired by this carving?


Or simply stripes - like the twined mittens mentioned in my previous post. I do have a soft spot for grey and another one for stripes.


I thought I'd post some photos of the tweed sweater I brought to the archipelago too. It's finished now and perfect instead of a jacket when it gets cooler in the evening. I've only managed to capture the colours in one of them, so here's a close-up to begin with:
The wool is so beautiful I wanted to keep it as simple as possible, both in terms of shape (a top-down seamless raglan sweater) and pattern (stocking stitch). I did add side cables, though, to make it more comfortable to wear and more enjoyable to knit.


The edges are patterned too, a k2 p2 spiral. It's easy when you knit in the round and have a multiple of 4 stitches plus or minus one: the spiral will come automatically.


 Last, some more shades of grey from the Wool Spa:




Friday, 14 August 2015

Four

What better way to spend a sunny Thursday off work than a daytrip to an island in the archipelago with Born to knit? The tricky question was: how many (and which) projects to bring? Four seemed - and turned out to be - just right!


A twined mitten. I had started shaping the top but was not quite happy with it, so I had ripped out a few rows Wednesday evening. The two-hour boat trip was perfect to try something different, and I actually managed to finish it. One mitten plus a thumb left to finish.

The Fingers sweater I wrote about in my previous post. I knitted a few rows between my two sessions in the water. It was wonderful finally going for a swim this cold and wet summer!

A brownish top-down sweater I practically finished a few months ago but wasn't happy with. Now was the time to decide what to do about it: I ripped quite a lot of one of the sleeves to change the shaping and then reknitted most of it on the way back to Stockholm. (Stocking stitch + 5 mm needles = perfect when you want to enjoy the view.) It looks and fits far better now. Next step is taking care of the second sleeve and reknitting the neckband.

My tatting project to be on the safe side; I didn't make a single not, but it didn't matter much as I also (well, primarily) brought it to flaunt my William Morris case.

What a glorious day! Great company, a lot of knitting and some swimming.


Bye for now, Stockholm - see you in the evening!



Monday, 10 August 2015

Dear old Fingers

One of the first Marianne Isager designs I knitted was the "Fingers" sweaters almost 20 years ago. (Ravelry link here.) At the time I didn't use her own wool Tvinni but a thicker wool-silk blend. It's a sweater I've worn a lot and still wear. It was fun to knit too, so when I found Tvinni on sale at Loop in London a couple of weeks ago I decided it was about time to make a new one. The pattern is hiding somewhere, but I really don't need it as I've got a "sweater copy" of it.

In the first version I went for a lot of contrast between background and pattern, but not in this new one. On the other hand, this time I went for a lot of contrast choosing the accent colour! In the old pattern you can barely see there's a different shade of blue...



With my new wool I chose petrol (it's darker in reality) for the background as it looks better with the yellow/golden mustard wool. Also, it's nice to reverse dark and light to see how it affect the pattern.

There are three modifications regarding the hem:

  • Knitting a pattern on the inside of the hem to make the gauge match the outside. (In the old sweater it is slightly too wide.)
  • A purl row for a defined edge - not that I dislike the old one, but simply to do something different.
  • Knitting the cast-on edge instead of sewing it in place.

As mentioned above, I've been to London: highlights nonstop for a week! A daytrip to the William Morris Gallery, for example, which resulted in this splendid example of Necessary Equipment:


Not for my glasses, but for my tatting shuttles. I may have to get new ones, because plastic shuttles feels rather blasphemous in a Morris case.



My new pincushion is another example of necessary equipment. I didn't get it in London but in Stockholm, at Gallery Yamanashi. The basket is made of birch and the "cushion" is a ball of felted wool. If you're in Stockholm recommend a trip to the gallery to see Ulla Neogard's work.



Last, a surprising discovery at Liberty in London - and an opportunity to brag a bit! I actually saw my own name (in small print, but still) in the yarn department. There on a shelf was The Knit Generation, in which my contribution is a brioche cowl pattern. Silly, of course I know it was printed - I even have a copy of it - but it felt funny finding it there. And thrilling, of course!