Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Twined & stranded mittens finished

Lotta's mittens, cuffs
Originally uploaded by Asplund
Lotta's mittens are washed and blocked, and I'm happy with my decision to combine stranded mittens with twined cuffs. I will definitely do it again.

Monday, 28 September 2009


Today I received an award and a challenge! Thank you, maria e – I'm honoured!

The challenge is to reveal ten things about myself; I've decided to bring up five general and five knitting-related things. Nothing is a secret, but I guess this is meant to be informative and about fun facts rather than secrets anyway.

1. I think you are an awesome girl, the award says. Well, actually I'm a man – anyone surprised/shocked/horrified? – but I hope I'm still awesome!
2. Food: I don't like cooking (a triumph of understatement) which friends and family know only too well. I'm fine with eating, though. (But picky!)
3. Cars: I didn't even try to learn how to drive until I was nearly thirty. Imagine my surprise when I suddenly found myself actually enjoying driving!
4. Taste buds: I don't like the taste of sweet very much.
5. Other addictions (apart from knitting): I've gone from active to passive smoker. A lot cheaper. More yarn money! Seriously, I'm glad I finally quit (two years ago) and don't even like the smell anymore. I've had one relapse, smoking a cigar at a party.

6. I enjoy knitting swatches.
7. Whenever there's a knitting book I really want I always allow myself to buy it, arguing that I never spend money on cook-books. (See 2 above.) Excellent tactics I learnt from my aunt.
8. I don't like alpaca very much, especially not baby alpaca. (Too slippery to knit and too fuzzy to touch for my taste.) There are blends with alpaca that I love, though, like Rowan Felted Tweed.
9. It's dawning on me that there is no way I will be able to knit all the things I want to (a mere fraction is what it feels like) which is something I try not to think about too much. However, a good thing about realizing this is that it has made me more careful when I choose projects.
10. Last, some serious bragging: Kaffe Fassett once pinched the cuff of the sweater I was wearing and said "I love this."

I'm passing this award & challenge on to awesome Nordic neighbours Pinneguri and lille-ursus.

Edited to add:
Would you believe it, I just received another award! Thank you Beate, I appreciate it and your kind words very very much! I'm afraid I'm going to be lazy and just add the picture here – can't think of another seven things to write about myself. Plus, a man's got to do what a man's got to do. Knit, that is.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Combining twined and stranded knitting

WIP: Lotta's mittens
Originally uploaded by

A few months ago I promised my friend Lotta a pair of mittens. Now that the days keep getting shorter and cooler it's high time to get started!

I decided to try combining two knitting techniques, twined and stranded. The cuff is twined, which makes it stiff and dense, not very elastic - and I've discovered it's a technique that is great for knitting letters.

The main part is stranded, partly for elasticity, partly for warmth. I find twined knitting is more wind-proof, but stranded somehow warmer thanks to the floats. Or, rather, they're suitable for different kinds of weather.

The palm of the hand is striped, not simply to match the cuff but primarily to wear well; the palm will be subject to more wear and tear than the back of the hand.

Twined stripes: ca 3.5/cm or 9/inch; stranded stripes: ca 3/cm or 7.5/inch. (In addition, the stranded stripes are elastic.) The gauge difference is rather remarkable; same yarn, same needles, same pattern and same number of stitches, but different techniques.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

I wish I had knitted this sweater

but haven't and couldn't.

I've had some knitted items on display in a men's clothing store, Carl-Otto in Västervik, and one of the visitors told me she had some wonderful hand-knitted sweaters bought in the 80s that she thought I'd like to see. I did indeed! Pictures of two other fabulous sweaters designed and made by this knitter (Siri)
here and here.

That evening was a true treat. First I got to see their beautiful garden, then their beautiful home. Kerstin and Arne had lived there for some 30 years, and the house was filled with exquisite and personal belongings; they are both passionately interested in arts and crafts and have things from all over the world. She was born in the far north of Sweden and he in the far south, and they have travelled a lot; Indonesia was one of their favourite countries.

Kerstin told me her mother helped making the Lovikka-mitten popular in Sweden by seeing to it that Princess Sibylla (our present king's mother) received a pair some time in the 1930s; many people became aware of them when she wore them in public. This very soft, thick and warm kind of mitten was first made in the 1890s by Erika Aittamaa from Lovikka. I knitted a pair (now lost) when I was around 11 years old and wore them a lot, especially when it was really cold.

It strikes me I haven't written anything about the knitting event at Nordiska museet in Stockholm a couple of weeks ago. That day visitors were allowed to knit "tags" and put almost wherever they liked in the museum. I'm far too much of a control freak to improvise completely – others were making charming and inventive things by happily combining colours and techniques – and so tried to compromise by knitting a little crown. Controlled improvisation, one might call it (trying to be benevolent). Anyway, it was a lot of fun, especially spending a few hours with knitter friends I don't get to see very often.

What's more, it's one of my – many – favourite places in Stockholm.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Hats galore

Hats galore
Originally uploaded by

Hats "Carl" and "Otto" (see previous post) have some woolly company: a green twined hat I knitted late 08/early 09, and two new, blue friends.

I knitted "Alex" with the same yarn and therefore named this hat after Carl-Otto's brother; "Blue Onion" in the upper left corner with beautiful yarn my Kiwi friend James gave me. Kia ora, James!

It's rather fascinating seeing how stripe width affects how the blue yarn looks in the three blue and grey hats. (Yarn: Pälsull, Östergötlands ullspinneri.)

These hats and some of my sweaters and mittens are in a men's clothing store, Carl-Otto in Västervik, where they will be on display for a few days. Map here.

Speaking of hats galore, I'm having fun knitting a hat for a friend. He wanted a soft and warm hat with ear flaps, preferably greenish-brown. It took some time, but at last I managed to figure out how to make the ear flaps the way I want them to look. This is what the "Sea Urchin" hat looks like so far.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Hats and knitting events

"Carl" and "Otto" hats
Originally uploaded by

I'm knitting hats for an event later this month, Smaka på Tjust (Taste Tjust – a Swedish district). This is a kind of market that focuses on locally produced goods etc. Carl-Otto, a men's clothing store in Västervik, asked if I wanted to present some knitted items there. DoI?Yes!

I've made a vest specifically for this event; I bought yarn produced at Östergötlands ullspinneri not too far from Västervik, and there was enough left for some hats. I already called the vest Carl-Otto, so these hats are Carl and Otto; they are twins but not identical.

My knitted items (and their creator) will be there Sept. 18 and 19.

Before then there's another knitting activity to look forward to, Progglördag at Nordiska museet in Stockholm on 12 September. There will be a corner where visitors can try knitting graffitti and I've volunteered to help out. I haven't done anything like that before, so it's a fun challenge!

I thought of a new way to block hats. Well, new to me at least – many others probably have thought of the same thing. I never liked blocking hats flat and suddenly had the idea I could try using a balloon; that way it would also be possible to get exactly the right size. It worked. Next problem: how to keep it still until it's dry? Ah! That's what lamps are for!