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Two and a half years ago, when I started crocheting and knitting and started this blog, my expat life seemed like it would last forever. Now, however, I’ve been back in my home country for six months, and while we will probably move abroad again, that is as yet a distant prospect. The title of this blog has felt stupid to me for a while, and even while I was an expat, that was never really reflected in the posts I wrote.
Now that I’m back home, I’ve thought a lot about changing the blog, and knowing that the task was ahead of me kept me back from posting. But it’s done now. I’ve set up the new URL (still a wordpress.com blog – I’m cheap that way!), exported all the posts and comments and cleaned it up a little.
Mainly, I’ve taken the opportunity to clear up the pages, move my free patterns (such as they are) to a page of their own, and made a new link collection instead of my too-dominant blogroll.
I hope you will come join me at my new place. I named it in honour of my newest crafting obsessions, and the name also reflects one of my very first interests. Curious? Come on in!
What were your favorites in 2008?
knitting book: I hardly bought any new books last year. I find most new pattern books are really not that useful in the end, particularly because suitable replacement yarns are often all but impossible to find. The closest I can get is probably Start Spinning, by Maggie Casey, which I gave a less-than-completely-favourable review, but which I now, when I am a wheel spinner, is quite fond of. Ironically, this book contains no knitting patterns and precious little knitting info.
pattern (regardless of whether you have any intention of knitting it): The Cloisters Sweater from Spin-Off fall 2008, without a doubt! As with many of my favourite patterns, I suspect that the colour is a big part of the attraction. Sarah Swett, the designer, used plant colours to dye a grey handspun yarn, which gives the sweater an amazing, rich heathered colour. But apart from that, I love the lace details on the sleeves and the wearability of the pattern.
yarn discovery: my handspun! Knitting with handspun yarn is so much fun! Other than that, I liked the Twilleys of Stamford Freedom Spirit that I used to knit my daughter’s cardigan.
FO (your own): The February Lady Sweater, I think. I wear it constantly to work and in private.
new knitting technique or other discovery/experience: Spinning, absolutely! I started spindle spinning in April 2008 and bought a used wheel in November. I spin a couple of times a week, and I love it.
One of the real pleasures of spinning is knitting with your own handspun yarn. I haven’t yet gotten to the point where I can consistently spin to my own project requirements, but my handspun is more and more usable. My latest handspun project gives me a little thrill every time I see it because it is just.so.cute:
Pattern: Djevellue/sweet baby cap (it’s free! and so simple!) I knit the two-year-old size. I started knitting on 3 January and finished 7 January.
Yarn: My own handspun, BFL handpainted by Jeni from Fyberspates. I spun it using the 5.5:1 ratio on my Ashford Traditional and two-plied it at the same ratio. It’s about 14 wraps per inch. I got 260 metres from 106 grams.
Needles: 2.5 and 3 mm needles, Knitpicks and Addis respectively (I like them both equally, but will not contemplate knitting with anything else. It’s a shame really, because I’ve inherited a large collection of assorted aluminium needles that I just can’t use).
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing about this week’s knit. I decided to try knitting the Three-Cornered Hat, one of the May projects from Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitters Almanac. I didn’t have any bulky yarn like the pattern calls for, so I decided to recalculate the stitch count for a worsted-weight yarn (the leftovers from my February Lady Sweater). Either my gauge math or my measurements (or both!) must have been wrong, because about halfway through the top decreases I could no longer ignore that nagging little voice at the back of my mind asking if this hat didn’t seem just a tad… big?
What annoys me the most is that with the worsted-weight yarn and the ridiculously inflated stitch count, there is actually quite a bit of knitting in that knitting disaster. I’ve ripped in disgust and am contemplating casting on for a lace beret.
After a small hiatus due to a dishcloth knitting spree over the holidays, I’m now back to my spinning wheel. I’ve started spinning some lovely handpainted superwash BFL from Allspunup:
It’s a very nice spinning experience. I’ve always liked BFL, and was surprised at how nice this superwash version feels. I’m a little worried that the colours are too dark for any variegation to really show up. I have another braid in the same general colour scheme in merino which is significantly lighter. I’m very happy with the service and products from Allspunup, but I’ll probably not shop there again due to the inconvencience and cost of having to deal with customs.
This first try will be frogged, as I’m not sure it will turn out big enough. I’m starting over with a new pattern. There are dozens of patterns out there for more or less similar designs.
This is ten balls of Garnstudio’s possibly (?) new yarn Lin (100 % linen). It’s a single ply and the shine is amazing. I also love the colour, it’s quite close to the colour of my FLS. The yarn is sitting, coincidentally, inside one of the baskets my kids got me for my birthday to hold all my spinning paraphernalia. I’ve been daydreaming about how I want my summer top to look. I need it to have a slight a-line shape and to cover the shoulders. Here is an idea I drew up very quickly:
I’m not sure I’m up to the challenge of designing it myself, but at least it gives me some idea of what I’m looking for in a pattern. I think I’ve exaggerated some of the details a little, and I’ve had a rethink about the suggested waist ribbing, but I think the general shape would be cute.
My mother didn’t get any birthday presents from me this year, but when she mentioned she could use some new dish cloths, an idea was born.
Pattern: Mitered hanging towel from Mason-Dixon Knitting: Knitting outside the lines
Yarn: Idena Lingarn (50 % cotton, 50 % linen), 3 balls (for the towel and two matching dish cloths).
Needles: 4.5 mm
Modifications: Only to the top. My mother has no suitable rod to hang the towel from, so I changed the top to a simple buttonhole.
I think it was Elizabeth Zimmermann who admonished us to be the boss of our knitting. I’m continually experiencing the wisdom of that, but am apparently a slow learner. I recently (as in four days ago, on Christmas Eve, just three short hours before we started opening the presents) finished this Christmas present for my daughter:
Pattern: Kragejakke i 3-trådsgarn from Strikk til nøstebarn.
Yarn: Freedom Spirit by Twilley’s of Stamford, #502, almost 4 balls.
Needles: Addi Turbos 3 mm and 3.5 mm.
Modifications: None. This pattern is very well thought-out and easy to follow. It is knit in one piece from the waist and the sleeves are knit in the round until you start the raglan decreases.
As you can see, I had a problem with some truly hideous pooling on the lower fronts. I could see it right away, but for some reason managed to convince myself that it would look alright once it was finished and the buttonbands installed. I often claim that my motto is “if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well”, but my knitting belies it…
After all the fiddliness of installing buttonbands correctly (I ripped out one and redid it because it pulled in too much), I needed some mindless knitting and have churned out six dishcloths of various designs. I’m now in the process of trying out the mitered hanging towel design from the new Mason-Dixon knitting book. I’m knitting it in a linen-cotton yarn and if I do say so myself, it’s looking lovely.
Wheel spinning is a very different experience than spindle spinning. Don’t get me wrong, I like my spindles, but wheel spinning enables me to finish a 100 gram skein in a couple of days, whereas with spindles that would take me more than a month.
I’ve finished two 100 g hanks already:
My first wheelspun yarn! Da-daaaa!
This is superwash merino, handdyed by Jeni of Fyberspates. It was the first fibre I received in her three-month fibre club. I tried to spin it evenly, but the wheel learning curve made it quite thick-and-thin. It’s now a hat. I like the hat, but the colours don’t really go with my colouring, so I don’t know if it will get used very much.
This second yarn is Bluefaced Leicester, also from Fyberspates. I like it very much, and managed to spin it more evenly than the merino. The colours are a little off in the picture of the skein. 100 grams, 260 metres, two-ply.
Meet my new-to-me Ashford Traditional, bought on finn.no in October. I finally got it home in mid-November and have been playing with it a lot. I started spinning the club fibre from the Fyberspates 3-month club that I was a member of from May-July this year. The fibre on the wheel in the picture is a pink/brown/greenish BFL.
Wheel spinning was surprisingly different from spindle spinning. Treadling took a little while to get used to, and I couldn’t quite get a rhythm on the first yarn I spun (may also have been due to it being merino, i.e. very short-stapled). It’s much easier to get a good join, and much harder to avoid overspinning. Both are, I assume, due to the wheel inserting twist faster than the spindle.
I’ve treated the wheel with a furniture oil, a mixture of tung oil, linseed oil and naphtha. It was an hour of work, but the wheel looks better and creaks less.
So I’m surfing the online newspapers, and idly decided to open a political analysis arguing that Obama has copied much from Ronald Reagan. But the salient points – or even any points – of the analysis escaped me, because the article is accompanied by a picture of Obama in a crowd at an election meeting. And one of the women in the photo has an absolutely stunning knitted hat.
Anyone know where I can get the pattern?
Pattern: You really need to ask?
Yarn: Rowan Summer Tweed (70 % silk, 30 % cotton), colourway 529 denim, 3 balls. Every last centimetre of them.
Needles: 5.5 mm Knitpicks Options.
Modifications: Worked over about half the pattern stitches, worked until the yarn ran out.
This really is a very nice pattern. And it is the perfect pattern for the recipient, it has a little interest while having clean, simple lines. I knit it for my aunt, who is also a knitter. I bought the yarn for her birthday, and told her she could knit it herself or I could knit her a scarf from it. I procrastinated on the knitting until she took our son on holiday for a week. That’s the kind of thing that should be rewarded with a finished scarf, I think!