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, 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


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!