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


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!

Friday, 10 July 2015

Back on track

Calling it an identity crisis would be an exaggeration of scandalous proportions, but someone who doesn't feel like knitting doesn't really feel like myself. I've reminded myself that's me too, except not very often. Anyway, it seems to be time for my usual self again! Perhaps simply writing about it helped, like trolls that burst in daylight? Not to mention spotting this particular shade of blue:

I'm going to knit mittens. Above in the photo is my first cuff attempt, based on an Estonian pattern. I like it, but I do think the pattern works better in the enlarged version below. In both cases the cast-on method is the "double-start" method (decorative and elastic) described by Nancy Bush in her book Folk Knitting in Estonia, which I highly recommended.

To keep the edge from curling outwards I added a purl row in the first cuff. It worked, but didn't look quite right, and as I was going to modify the pattern I might as well try something else. In the second version I used the same cast-on but added a "vikkel" braid instead a purl row, which worked just as well but looks a lot better. The braid is described in the same book. Next step will be to decide what pattern for use for the main part, not to mention what kind of gusset to make. Exciting!

For those of you who spek/understand Swedish, there's an article about me in today's DN if you're interested.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

My new best mate

Isn't this description irresistible? I love word formation like hand-holdable! A 50% discount doesn't make matters worse either.

So, what prompted me to go hunting for a magnifier lamp? Well, the past few weeks I haven't felt like knitting much, which happens once in a while. Fortunately - as I need to keep my fingers busy anyway - I had applied for a three-week embroidery course at HV, which is where I spent most of June testing various stitches and learning about pattern and technique traditions. Pure luxury!

Above is a sample where I started testing blackwork and ended up with four variations. It was satisfying in a way similar to knitting swatches. Working the small one, first every second stitch with a single strand of yellow silk and then the rest with a strand of light green silk, is probably what made me decide I'd get a lamp to use at home!

I enjoyed techniques where you count threads best, like whitework where you work with pulled and drawn threads

pulled threads (hopdragssömmar)

drawn threads (utdragssömmar)

but it was also fun (but difficult!) to try to create pictures in the woolly horror vacui tradition of southern Sweden. Many old patterns show horses, which gave me the idea to make a needle case with seahorses (far more to my taste) which in turn led to other ocean-related shapes. A great way to test different stitches!

The seagrass on the cover was actually a last-moment solution to cover shell outlines where I failed miserably. They looked like skulls or mushrooms!

Seahorses may not have toothy grins, but there was some space that I couldn't resist making use of:

And the whole thing looks like this:

Looking at my needle case makes me wonder if I'm five years old, but a quick glance at the magnifier lamp box reminds me I'm not. So be it - as long as I don't have to stitch her project design.

Monday, 25 May 2015

A sleeve detour

What counts as the birth of a project, the immaculate conception (needles meet wool) or cutting the last string? Well, in this particular case it's practically the same date, 24 or 25 May, which I discovered when I updated the Ravelry project page.

Four years ago I cast on to knit a sweater based on a vest design (Ravelry link) by Kim Hargreaves. I had done that once before and this time I wanted to make some minor colour and pattern modifications. I wasn't happy with the sleeve caps I first knitted (blog post here) and then I wasn't happy with the new sleeves either - and so I simply left it until yesterday.

I have no idea what triggered me all of a sudden in the afternoon, but I dug it out, got the scissors, then tried it on just to make sure I wouldn't regret it (no way!) and performed an amputation of the sleeves to turn it into a vest. Yes, the original garment.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Good Friday

was Best Possible Friday. I sat indoors all day with yet another sweater project - that's what terrible weather is for. About a year ago I bought some wonderful wool at Wålstedts, different shades of green and brown, and all of a sudden I knew exactly how I wanted to use it: a top-down sweater with buttons. A kind of top-down green and brown period?

Knitting top-down is perfect as I want to use as much green wool as possible for the yoke and gradually make it browner. Brioche stitch would be nice, but I don't think there's enough for a whole sweater. Fortunately, there's half-brioche stitch (slipping the purl stitches with a yarnover every second row instead of every row) which doesn't devour as much yarn.

Even better than finding the right use for the wool is finding a woolly home for five buttons my mother gave me a few years ago.

Wearing it I might resemble one of John Bauer's (1882-1918) trolls, which I don't mind at all. Here's one of his illustrations for a childhood favourite fairy tale.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Adding some collar (horrible pun, but couldn't resist)

As mentioned, I did have a few metres left of the greenish-brown-with-confetti tweed after I finished the sweater. Wearing it I thought the collar was slightly too wide and low, so I decided to use my leftovers to pick up stitches and see if there was enough for an extra welt with thinner needles. There was! I'm not sure how well shows in the photo, but there's quite a difference between before and after blocking.

It was quite a thriller. Here's what's left of the wool now:
Don't spend it all at once.

Thanks for your comments!

Karon asked whether the design is my own and if there's a pattern available. It is my own, but I improvised (with some calculation involved) so I'm afraid there's no pattern.
Ron asked how the body and sleeves are finished: I cast off knitting I-cords, which worked well.
Christine: perhaps the Easter bunny will bring me some pearls!

Happy Easter, everyone! Thanks for the lovely daffodils, Barbara!

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Twin set

Knitting the sleeves first (see previous post) was a good idea - there weren't many metres left when the length of the body was what I wanted.

It's a very comfortable sweater, both the wool and the raglan shape. So much so I've already cast on to knit another, similar sweater! Lucky me, I had happened to buy another cone of the same wool but a different colour...

For the second sweater I used a provisional cast-on as I haven't quite made up my mind about the collar. Perhaps something like this sweater, which I knitted in 2007.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Top down and inside out

My urge to knit is as strong as usual, but I'm not feeling very creative - or, rather, I have ideas but they're too vague. Therefore, I'm knitting a sweater using gorgeous wool I bought in Denmark last year. It's the kind that's so beautiful in itself that it calls for simplicity, which suits me perfectly right now. I will hardly be able to get more of the same kind, so for safety reasons I'm knitting it top-down. (A tweed sweater with a low-cut neckline might be innovative but not quite my style. Besides, I have no cleavage to show off anyway.)

Also, I'm finishing the sleeves first to get the right - and same - length, and I make them slightly more narrow than usual. Too narrow is hardly a risk as my arms are rather like Sesame Street Bert's.

So, it won't be a short sweater even though it looks like it in the photo above. (A pierced navel isn't my style either.) The wrong side is actually very nice, so much so I'm knitting the sweater inside out.

"Skogens konung"

When my friend Karin saw the collar she said "King of the Forest"!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Two shades of grey

Same wool (Visjö ombré) but different lots! As I couldn't decide which to experiment with I decided to get both. Let's say it was my twined duty.

Well, I do like subtle stripes but in the small swatch to the right theye're so subtle it isn't even striped but mottled. One the other hand, I really like how the mitten gradually moves from dark to light, more so in reality than in the photo.

I thought of adding some simple pattern, but decided that would draw attention from the changes. I'm not sure what to do with the small swatch: possibly combine it with white or dark grey instead.

Tuesday was an achingly beautiful day and I happened to have the afternoon off. What better way to spend it than visiting one of my favourite museums, Millesgården? The sculptures looked even more glorious than usual against the blue spring sky.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Test tubes

My twined group at HV have been knitting test tubes, and I borrowed a few of them today to take some photos. True, they may not be overwhelmingly wearable, but they're useful. Casting on is rather time-consuming, and it's convenient having several varieties of gussets etc collected in the same swatch. They all look different anyway, since everyone puts their personal stamp on them choosing favourite colours and testing different pattern ideas. Next step is designing mittens!

Twined coelacanths?
Min tvåändsstickninggrupp har fått sticka provrör - visst liknar de kvastfeningar? - eftersom det är praktiskt att ha olika varianter av kilar och hoptagningar samlade i ett och samma prov, och så tar det ganska lång tid att lägga upp. De blir olika i alla fall, eftersom det är en stickteknisk uppgift där färg inte spelar någon roll, och så finns det gott om utrymme att testa olika mönsteridéer.  Vantar nästa!

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Minor modifications

Hanne Falkenberg's Studio Long is finished and instantly became my favorite sweater - it's incredibly comfortable! I'd probably sleep in it if it was colder, but on the other hand I'm happy under my woollen (of course!) duvet. A friend of mine is allergic to wool, poor guy, while I'd be more likely to suffer from wool withdrawal. (Minimal risk. Too hot to wear it? Knit it!)
Wool galore: not at home but feels like home

As I mentioned in my previous post, Falkenberg's design doesn't call for modifications. Her constructions would make modifications difficult anyway - and it's exciting following her instructions. However, I did two things slightly differently in terms of joining.

side seam

One of Hanne Falkenberg's glorious trademarks is minimal sewing; for this sweater you only need to sew the side seams. As you can see, my sweater required even less sewing since I wanted more ease of movement and left one third open. And didn't mind less sewing one bit.

sleeve join

Typically, she chooses the three-needle bind-off technique for joins, for example under the sleeves. I decided to do it from the right side for decoration - and because I preferred it to the way my first joins slightly folded inwards. Sorry there's no photo to compare. I was too eager to redo it to get my camera, which must have been at least five metres away. I'm sure you understand. Instead, I've got an in-progress-photo to give you an idea of the construction of the sleeves:


Last, a photo of my dear grandparents in the 1930s - for no particular reason except it makes me happy to look at. 

Ann-Marie & Gösta Asplund