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I’m very taken with spinning right now. And I love playing with colour – here is some merino wool I bought at Panduro – it’s 150 grams of merino wool in three different red nuances.
I’m not very happy with the CD spindle, I haven’t managed to secure the CD properly, so it starts wobbling and shortens the spin time. I’m hoping to make this a two-ply, maybe with one single having long colour repeats and the other with shorter repeats. But so far I’m concentrating on drafting the merino – it’s not so easy. I have to draft very short lengths, which makes it harder to be consistent, and the fibre floats apart easily and is very hard to join securely.
Spinning has also helped me finish a long-neglected project. In the summer of 2006, I crocheted and fulled a bag from Dale Heilo, but I thought the all-white bag was a little boring, and decided to embellish it. I couldn’t come up with the perfect embellishments, though, so it languished in a drawer at my parents’. Now, while I was at Panduro, I picked up a tiny, 10 gram bag of rainbow wool in green-blue nuances, spun it up a bit thick-and-thin and needlefelted it onto the bag in a spirals pattern. I like it!
Inspired by KnitLit, I thought I would do a quick summary of last year’s knitting and crocheting.
1. your best FO of the year
I had a long blogging and knitting hiatus during the first trimester of my pregnancy, so I’m not so happy with last year in terms of crafting. But I think it would have to be the Shetland Triangle that I knit for my mother.
2. best FO of the year made by a blog you link to
I think maybe Maude Louise from Knitting Kninja, or maybe that was from 2006? I like it very much, and I also really liked reading about Kninja’s design process and her struggle to write a good pattern.
3. best yarn you tried
There is a very limited yarn selection where I live, it’s mostly acrylics and blends. I mainly buy yarn in Norway when I’m home on holiday. And even in Norway it’s hard to find several types of yarn which American knit bloggers seem to take for granted, such as tweeds, worsted weight yarns (Norwegians generally prefer fingering or sport weight) and handpainted yarns. When on holiday in London last January, I bought five balls of Rowan Tapestry, a wool/soy blend with long colour repeats. While the yarn is something of a pain to knit with because it sticks to itself, it’s wonderful knit up. I used it for my sister’s Argosy. In terms of tactile pleasure while knitting, I think Trekking XXL has to be the highlight of last year.
4. best new book/mag/pattern of 2007
This is hard. I *love* books, and started buying knitting books as soon as I started knitting. I have a sizeable collection already, after only a year and a half. I like Strikk til Nøstebarn very much, and plan to knit several things from it. For inspiration and beautiful photography, though, I think it will have to be Crochet Me: Designs to fuel the crochet revolution.
5. best new knitting technique or gadget you tried in 2007
Two socks at once on magic loop, without a doubt. Especially if its toe-up socks using the magic cast-on. Everything about it is magic…
6. top 5 inspirations–what five things inspired you the most over the past year?
Ooh, difficult. Great knitting blog photography is one, like January One or Brooklyn Tweed. This year I started subscribing to Interweave Knits, and that’s been another important inspiration, even if I haven’t actually knit anything from it yet. The new crochet books have been very inspiring, such as the above-mentioned Crochet Me. Also, the knitting podcasts that I’ve recently discovered, mainly Stash and Burn and Cast-on. That’s only four, I know.
7. designer who most amazed & inspired you throughout the year
Norah Gaughan! I don’t know when I will finally work up the courage to try one of her designs, but I love her style. Knitting Nature was one of the first knitting books I bought, and I love leafing through it.
8. knitting resolutions for 2008–what’s next for you and your blog?
More knitting for myself, especially sweaters and other garments. More crochet, mainly garments. Also, I’d like to blog more often and not just use Ravelry for my documentation needs. I spend a lot of time on Ravelry and like it a lot, but it is no substitute for blogging about the progress and setbacks of my various knitting projects.
I went a little yarn shop crazy while on holiday in Norway. In my defense, I’ve been on a yarn diet of sorts for several months in anticipation of this trip, and I’ve wanted to start several projects for which suitable yarns were just not available here. Also, I celebrated a major birthday while at home, and my present from my dad (thanks!) was a yarn shop gift card (best dad ever or what?)
DROPS/Garnstudio Fabel superwash sock yarn in colour 300. This is a fairly new yarn, I think, and the first sock yarn for thin socks to be produced by a Norwegian yarn company that I know of. I think I’ll use this for some lacy socks as soon as I finish Hedera. I only regret not buying three skeins, so I could have gotten knee highs.
These hardly even count, because they were on sale, only 20 kr/ball. FagStrikk/Rauma sock yarn in two different jacquard-dyed colourways. This yarn is thicker and calls for 3-3.5 mm needles. I’m thinking about using 2.75 mm needles for a cushy feel and using them for socks for my kids. My son has already chosen the green ones for his socks.
Next up, small quantities of other yarn:
This is Idena Juvel multicolor, four balls. I have a soft spot for red variegated yarns. I thought this would be nice to keep in my stash for hats, mittens or similar for the kids.
This is nine balls of Gjestal Superwash sport. It was bought several months ago with a specific project in mind, and has been sitting in Norway waiting for the intended recipient to exchange it for a different colourway. While I was there, I found some different yarn in the right colour, and this came home with me for dying experiments. I think three-four balls of this kool-aid dyed in a stripe sequence would make a wonderful baby surprise jacket.
And now for the ones I’m truly excited about!
This is 14 balls of Sandnes Alfa (830 m), intended for a vest I found the pattern for in a Norwegian women’s magazine (but you can also find it here):
This looks like a fun and fast knit. Teal is a new colour for me, but I think it will work with my dark brown wardrobe as well as my jeans.
This is by far the most expensive purchase – eleven balls of Baby Silk from Du store Alpakka. I love the colour and the yarn is very soft. I want to use it to make this:
There was a recent discussion on Ravelry about materialism and stash, with some people complaining about knit bloggers showing off their yarn purchases while feigning embarrassment. I do understand what they mean. The reason I’ve bought such a lot, is the realization that the many small yarn purchases I made when I first started knitting and crocheting are really useless. As soon as I started wanting to make garments for myself, I was stuck. I really look forward to starting these projects!
I still have one more yarn to show you – the one for my deadline project. Seven percent done so far!
I feel a little scattered right now. I’m still working on the Argosy scarf (a little over halfway now), but other projects, small and large, are popping up all over.
The WIPs are a ballband dishcloth and a bark sedge stitch washcloth. They’re intended for my inlaws, who want some dishcloths for their cabin. The left hand FOs are a nine-patch dishcloth and a modified grandmother’s favourite, which I intend to keep as a backup Christmas presents for kindergarten teachers, friends and book club members. I will make some more of those, as well.
This is a very quick and simple beading project – a nursing memory bead. It is used with a nursing bra (you place the ring over the clip at the top of the cup) as a memory aid to remember which breast should be used for the next feeding. I’m sufficiently scattered right now that I really need it, and it works very well. I’ve seen several expensive versions online, but this version made from a key ring, a Czech glass bead and a small plastic seed bead cost practically nothing.
This is a narrow stole or a wide scarf, depending on your point of view. It’s simple feather and fan stitch, worked in Evilla Artyarns 6/2, in a brown-beige colourway with very long colour repeats. I’ve had this yarn for almost a year, and intended it for a shawl. I recently realised that rectangular stoles are probably more practical for me, and wanted to see what the yarn would look like in such a simple but effective stitch pattern. I do wish that I’d washed the yarn before starting, though. It’s rough and stiff, smells like old sheep and contains a lot of lanolin. I’m very unsure of what it will feel like after washing and blocking, and not at all certain that it will feel comfortable to wear as a stole or a scarf. A very stupid and unnecessary leap of faith, really.
This past week has been a rite of passage for me, as I’m suddenly the parent of a kindergartener (US equivalent: preschooler, I think). The kindergarten run has turned out to be the perfect opportunity to try listening to knitting podcasts. A timely discussion on Ravelry gave me some pointers, and I’ve already tried most of the highly recommended ones.
Cast-On: This one is my favourite so far. I like the chatty tone, the music and the personal reflections on knitting.
Stash and Burn: Also very nice. The two presenters, Nicole and Jenny, are younger and have only been knitting for a few years each, which makes it easy to identify with them. Their podcast is full of useful information without being boring. As one commenter on Ravelry said, they both seem like very nice people, which makes this podcast very enjoyable.
Knitpicks: This seemed to be a great Ravelry favourite, but I just couldn’t get into it. The interview I heard (with Ann Budd) was just a little too long and fawning. More importantly, I have to admit that the sense that the whole podcast was read out loud from an exact script distracted me. Maybe because I’m so used to talking to large groups, I get very annoyed with people who are bound to a manuscript, and whose voice and presentation invariably suffer and become stiff.
Sticks and string: I didn’t find this one particularly interesting, either. The episode I sampled seemed very Australia-focused, which of course isn’t so relevant to me, and the technical quality was a little poorer than the other podcasts I tried.
Lime and Violet: I have to admit I only listened to this one for a little while before deleting it. This show seemed to require a high level of familiarity with the podcasters, their tone and old, internal jokes.
The last month has been spent on holiday in Norway and Croatia. I have been reading more than crafting, but I did manage a few items.
Hook: 5 mm
Yarn: Garnstudio Paris, a wonderfully thick and soft unmercerized cotton.
This was perfect airplane crafting, as airport security is not nearly as jumpy about crochet hooks as they are about knitting needles (I still bristle about the brand new Addis I had to give up to get to London in January). The two last patterns are from the Lion Brand spa collection, and they are very soft and luxurious. I can’t wait to start using them.
Pattern: My own, improvised. Bib in single crochet with simple flower embroidery.
Yarn: Garnstudio Paris
Hook: 5 mm
I made this for the new baby, and I’m thrilled to bits with it. I love the flowers and the simplicity of the look.
This is just a WIP so far. It’s a moderne log cabin blanket, also for the new baby. The yarn is from Bånsull and is very fine, similar to the one I used for the baby kimono recently. I am knitting it on 4 mm needles, which gives a thin, airy fabric similar to Mor Signes babyteppe. This is what I wanted, the interest and challenge of a log cabin combined with the feel and airiness of Mor Signes.
Last summer, just after I had started crocheting, we went on holiday to the Istrian peninsula in Croatia. My son loved the beach and the ocean. He could sit for hours at the water’s edge, sifting through smooth pebbles and throwing them in the water. I started this blanket for him shortly after we came back from holiday, thinking it would remind us of the varying colours and languid waves of the Adriatic.
Pattern: simple ripple pattern from a stitch dictionary. The stripe pattern was designed to emulate the slowly shifting colours of the sea. I chose six colours, sorted them in two groups (bluish and greenish), and alternated the two groups from darker to lighter. Then I made up a simple stripe pattern like this:
Yarn: Toptex Simplicity in six colours, around two balls of each.
Hook: 3.5 mm
Dimensions: 62 cm by 86 cm after washing and tumble-drying.
This is a birthday present, and I’m really happy with how it came out. I made a few mistakes, mainly to do with adjusting for thinner yarn and smaller hook, but I don’t think it shows too much.
Pattern: Fat-bottom bag from Stitch ‘n bitch crochet
Yarn: Schachenmayr Punto (55 % cotton, 45 % acrylic) in color #73, 3.5 balls.
Lining: Some 100 % polyester fabric bought at the not-so-great yarn and fabric store.
Hook: 5 mm
Modifications: Mainly to do with size. 23 increase and decrease rows instead of 14, 30 plain rounds instead of 24.
Size: 30 cm wide/21 cm deep.
I have never tried lining anything before, and I’m really happy with the way it looks. Ironing and pinning the polyester was not easy, as it’s very slippery, but once it was pinned in place it was a breeze to sew it in. I couldn’t have done it without this tutorial. The magnetic snaps are sew-in, not the kind you hammer in, which wouldn’t have worked with the thin lining. You can’t get sew-in magnetic snaps here, so these are a gift from my mother-in-law who gets her bagmaking supplies from the US.
I made a small brooch to brighten up the bag as well. This is glass beads and a three-head kilt pin from Panduro Hobby. I think it looks good! Now, I only hope the birthday girl will be happy with it!
I’ve had a blanket for my son lying in the UFO pile for a while now. About a month ago I organised my cotton yarn stash, and put the blanket-in-progress on top of the newly re-organised basket to inspire me to action. Bad idea.
Said son got hold of the blanket and managed to make a knot involving four different balls of yarn. I thought it was pointless, and considered tossing the whole thing. But, perversely, this giant, awful, time-sucking knot was what got me started on the blanket again. Unpicking the knot and rewinding the yarn took two nights(!). But after that I’ve added a good fifteen centimetres to the blanket.
2. The pattern for Eunny’s Endpaper mitts (so simple and helpful! so brilliantly, cleverly beautiful!)
3. This article defending the fashion potential of crochet. After completing my alpaca sweater, I’ve thought about this a lot. All the really successful crochet projects I’ve completed have been completed with larger hooks than recommended for the yarn (alpaca sweater, baby blanket) or crocheted deliberately loosely (spider web shawl). I will need more practice to achieve a knitting-like drape with crochet, and I can also see the utility of a more stiff texture (jackets or bags, for instance), but this article made this a lot clearer to me.
4. The yarn haul from my latest trip home. The highlights:
- 4 balls of PT5 in #590 – a wonderfully soft superwash yarn, but slightly sturdier than the babyull I’ve used before (slightly thicker, and with 20 % nylon).
- Opal cotton sock yarn in a yummy pink, beige and brown colour. Soft!
- Opal wool sock yarn in a beige variegated colourway. So much softer than the first sock yarn I bought, Lana Grossa Meilenweit. I wonder how I would feel about my first, apparently neverending sock if I’d knitted it in either of these yarns instead…
- 100 g of Nøstebarn’s silk/wool yarn in pale green
- and the best of all: Estonian Evilla yarn, in a beautiful, brown-beige variegated colourway. I think it’s destined to become a shawl, but I don’t know if the variegation will be too much for a delicate, lacy shawl.
5. Miss USA’s Seraphina’s Shawl in Rowan Tapestry. I want this yarn, and I seriously covet the shawl. In the last few months I’ve been very preoccupied with knitting, and desperate to knit more lace. However, this shawl has really tempted me to get back to crochet. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get hold of some Rowan Tapestry soon…