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

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Leading ladies

Still in the mood for following someone else's instructions I've added Hanne Falkenberg's "Studio Long" sweater to my collection of works in progress. It's not like working with Alice Starmore's "Donegal" pattern, though.

Starmore's "Donegal" and Falkenberg's "Studio Long"

When it comes to Donegal, I'm more than happy working with Starmore's pattern and choice of colours - how could I not? - but there are some things I need to figure out to get the size right. Sleeve length, above all (knitting for myself is like knitting for a baboon) but I also enjoy thinking about details like how to make the shoulder join look as nice as possible.

Falkenberg's design is different: her constructions are so ingenious and intriguing it's difficult to modify the shape. Her "Studio Long" is knitted both sideways and diagonally, for example! Not that I think any modifications will be necessary, it's just that I usually can't help myself...

I've knitted one of her designs before, a vest called Blues, and found it quite fascinating. I remember not always being sure where I was, but I'd heard from various sources what a careful pattern writer she is I decided simply to follow the instructions and try not to even think about interpreting anything as something that she hadn't actually written. There's simply no need to as I don't think I've ever read better, clearer instructions than Hanne Falkenberg's. It's really relaxing: garter stitch, one colour at a time and not having to think - or, rather, being able to think about whatever comes to mind. If I had a television set, this would make for excellent telly knitting. Instead, it's conversation knitting.

Det är välgörande och avkopplande att följa andras instruktioner, även om jag oftast tycker att det är roligt att hitta på själv eller åtminstone göra om detaljer. Alice Starmore är oslagbar när det gäller färger, tycker jag, så då är det lyxigt att ha hennes kombinationer som jag aldrig skulle ha kommit på själv. Hanne Falkenberg är oslagbar när det gäller mönsterkonstruktion och skriver så tydligt att det inte kan bli fel. Det gäller helt enkelt att inte tolka in något som inte står där - något av en utmaning för mig som är ganska klåfingrig i fråga om beskrivningar, men samtidigt skönt. Gör man bara som hon skriver är det förvånansvärt enkelt att sticka en tröja så här på tvären och snedden samtidigt!


Monday, 12 January 2015

The advantage of unfinished objects

I don't spend waste time counting my works in progress anymore - instead I simply tend to cast on something new if I feel like it. Over the years I've realised that it suits me having various projects going on, and there are different reasons why I take a break from them.


Why take a break from Alice Starmore's glorious Donegal, you may wonder. Doesn't is sound like taking a break from a great book to read something else instead? Well, as far as I can remember I had been knitting quite a lot of stranded colourwork for a while and decided to save this treat on purpose until I really really really felt like knitting this particular design. Silly perhaps, but somehow I felt it deserved my longing for it and enjoying it fully instead of dreaming of cables, brioche or other techniques while knitting.

Then all of a sudden in December I found myself in the right mood. Donegal was what I wanted to knit and nothing else. For quite some time I had mostly been knitting single-colour (often natural wool) things - which I also enjoy - so I was yearning for bright colours and bold patterns. Imagine the luxury of not even having to cast on but simply get knitting! I did worry some nasty creatures might have feasted on it while I was neglecting it, but fortunately not. (Come to think of it, my fear of sp-d-rs was reduced rather dramatically after it dawned on me they might actually eat enemies like moths and therefore be friends rather than foes. No, hardly friends - but I'll admit they're not the real foes. And they can't help the way they look and move.)

If you're into lace, there's a lovely design called "Wavy leaves and butterflies" by Athanasia Andritsou, and she has published it for free on Ravelry. For this shawl I used 125 grams of Cascade Forest Hills and 3½ mm needles.


Last, here are two of the books I've added to my collection the past couple of months: Knitting Fresh Brioche by Nancy Marchant and Lekker Warm!/So Warm! (in Dutch and English) by Carla Meijsen. Needless to say, I recommend both books: Marchan't book is a truly inspiring brioche treasure, and Meijsen's is not only a comprehensive introduction to twined knitting but also an impressive collection of patterns for different levels.

Actually, I was lucky enough to meet Carla Meijsen recently. Where? In a yarn store, of course.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Twined mittens finished

Thanks for your comments on my mittens in progress! I finished them late last night, and luckily enough there was actually almost some sun this morning - so I thought I'd share some photos of details.

Thanks to Ravelry, there's no really no need for me to add a year to remember when I made it, but it's a nice detail. Also, there are so many memories and associations are knitted into these mittens that I would be able to date them in the future: above all, teaching at HV and the people I've met there.

Here is the join, a three-needle bind-off:

the gingerbread whale

In sweaters I like adding my initials to a gusset; in this case I chose the inside of the thumb:

The thumb decreases are placed at an angle. It may look a bit strange at first, but it makes them incredibly comfortable! This wasn't my own idea, but something I learnt from Karin Kahnlund.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail better."

Few things are as inspiring as teaching, in my opinion. To begin, planning workshops and exercises gives me lots of ideas - but even more questions from participants, not to mention seeing how they use instructions as starting points for their own ideas. During my latest twined weekend at HV I cast on to make a pair of mittens to put some pattern and shape ideas into practice.

Almost as inspiring but far more time-consuming is not being satisfied with the results... Actually, I don't mind it very much as long as I can think of ways to make improvements. It gives me material for a blog post too!

First, the shape wasn't quite right: the cuff was too long (not to wear, but to me it looks out of proportion) and more importantly, the mitten was slightly too narrow to be comfortable:

This shorter cuff looks a lot better and the width is comfortable - but the placement of the pattern is out of balance. It looks as if it has sunk and hit wrist bottom: 

To look on the bright side, ripping back a number of rows (again) gave me a few meters of pre-twisted yarn to work with:

I thought of adding a horizontal line to frame the pattern shapes, but decided it would look odd, so I added five small pattern shapes instead:

The mitten doesn't really match what I had in mind, but then my finished projects seldom (never?) do. Here is where I would stop if I was less pleased with it (and use it for workshops) but I'm happy enough with it to knit a second one.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Getting it

My tatting is improving! I found a book with some really lovely patterns: Tatting Patterns and Designs by Gun Blomqvist and Elwy Persson. Their names don't look as English as the title, do they? It's a translation of a Swedish book, which I haven't managed to find... Not that it matters that much - I have to learn what the symbols mean anyway to be able to read the instructions - but it does feel a bit odd using a translation from my mother tongue.

A sigh of relief after completing the first repeat! I don't expect to learn it by heart (not that I feel obliged to) but I'm getting the logic of the technique.

Är det inte lite besynnerligt att hitta en översättning till engelska av en svensk bok, men inte den svenska? Men framför allt glädjande att den här typen av böcker översätts!