Saturday, December 19, 2009

All about my girl

In my last post I wrote about who inspired and full of energy I felt. A short time after that I slipped and fell badly. After that I could hardly sit for two weeks and lets just say that one part of my body has suffered a permanent dent. Knitting came to a halt, but now I'm back in the game again.

Some projects at this time of year have to wait another week to be revealed here, but I will ad them to Ravelry where my family can't see them. Instead I will focus on some stuff that my daughter has gotten this year. Starting with the most recent project: she got an icelandic dress for her birthday two weeks ago. The pattern is really cute (Teikn from Lopi 28 by Ístex), but what won me over was the yarn. Létt-Lopi colour 1408 is a bright and happy pink and when I saw it on the shelf there was no way to resist it.

Next up are a couple of socks that she picked the yarn for. The pattern is a modified version of Serpentine socks from Socks from the Toe Up by Wendy Johnson. In the book they are made from a thicker yarn and the pattern repeat has more rows, but I made them for a 7-year-old and scaled it down and used Regia sock yarn.

Last here, but knitted first, is this sweater that she wore on the last day of school in June. The yarn is Rowan Damask in the colour Lava. The design is from Rowan´s The Organic Cotton Collection and its name is Cherry Pie, which suits the colour very well. This was truly a last minute effort. I literally ran to the school to put on the sweater over her white lace dress only minutes before the program started. What caused the problem was my firm crochet, which made the edges to small and the sewing a nightmare. After redoing it a couple of times I finally got it together.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Positive thinking

Dark evenings, grey weather and too much to do... Time for some positive thinking inspired by dear Maria, who has given me a prize.

She asked me to list ten things about myself, and I will list ten things that are good in my life right now:
1. My husband turned 40 last week, and his vest is almost done. Hope to post pics this weekend.
2. My son was 5 the same day, and he is so wonderful. The confidence they have at that age.
3. My daughter who is the perfect person to knit for, style concious, grateful and very small!
4. I actually like the garden when it is getting to rest, the last phase in the changes over the year with great, earthy colours.
5. The yarn stash is in excellent shape, and I feel quite content to draw my knitting inspiration from it for a while.
6. Apart from the vest there are a number of projects that are close to finishing, and since we plan to redecorate my study as soon as I get through the piles of stuff in there I am well motivated to do something about my UFOs.
7. I have a job that gives me energy and I look forward to getting there every morning.
8. I can't believe how lucky I am to be surrounded my so many wonderful people; friends, colleagues and relatives.
9. I am preparing a knitting café about new techniques for cabling on november 19th, and there is just so much we could do but we only have two hours.
10. In a few weeks MrP and I celebrate that it has been ten years since our first date. Amazingly enough I just won a lottery and got a dinner for two at the restaurant where we had our wedding dinner.

I think this just boosted my energy, so back to that pile of UFOs!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Icelandic shopping

Under a bed in my house there are two big boxes. One is filled with knitted items like shawls, vests and sweaters. The other holds lopi and létt-lopi and some lace yarn. I also have some hand made yarn and buttons from Ullarselid as well an embroidery kit and some of their products made from rabbit wool. So what do I really need to buy? Anything I don't have of course!

There has been some great pattern books coming out in Iceland since my last visit in 2003. Védis Jónsdóttir is a designer who has envigorated the traditional woolen sweaters with a line of booklets from Istex, the leading yarn company. I'm especially glad to get a hold of her patterns for garments in lace yarn, einband. Another favourite is the new book on mittens Hlýjar hendur that is currently the third best selling book, all categories included, in the largest chain if Icelandic book stores.

When it comes to buying yarn there is a limit to what a suitcase can hold. To get the most out of the trip I decided to focus on einband, the lace yarn. I got all the natural wool colours and a few balls each of white, brown and natural black. The large skeins at the back are dyed with herbs in a beautiful, dark green. I also wanted som red, which I found at the Álafoss store where we made a quick stop. There I also couldn't resist getting some unspun, green yarn that will look great with the natural brown in my stash. My brothers got some blankets, and somehow managed to get them into their small bags for the trip home. I had of course planned ahead and brought a half empty, big suitcase.

After reading all my new books I got an idea for a Christmas present and got some more yarn at a supermarket, but that has to remain a secret...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Icelandic wool

I went to Iceland last week, and although I was there on other business I managed to squeeze in some wool. My cousin owns some 170 sheep and the week before they had been brought down from the mountains were they graze freely during the summer. The farmers still go out on horseback for several days to collect them, but they use airplanes to locate the sheep. Then the sheep are brought to a place where they are held in a circular enclosement and then separated into smaller pens, one for each farm, as seen in the picture. These days they don't have to herd them the last kilometres to the farm, but load them on trailers. After the sheep have been brought home the lambs are slaughtered before the remaining sheep are put in a barn for the winter.

Later that day we went to a local shop where people with an interest in crafts in the western parts of Iceland sell a selection of high quality products. It is called Ullarselid and was started in 1992 on the grounds of the university of agriculture at Hvanneyri. The products are mostly made from wool, but there are also buttons made from bone and horn, stones and other souvenirs. The following three pictures show some of their hand spun or herb dyed yarn, sweaters designed for the hand spun yarn and their special take on the traditional Icelandic sweaters with a patterned yoke.

I made my not so interested brothers come along, and here is what they bought: socks, mittens, a hat and some felted soles. Not as expensive as the larger items but still great quality and perfect gifts to bring home. What I bought? You will see in the next post...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Modern lace

As you might have guessed by now I've made a few shawls this summer. I blocked six last week and here are the final three.

First up is one that I started to have a nice looking lace project when I represented knitting at a craft exhibition in May. I started out using Morjärv 2-ply, which was far too bulky. Soon after I started on Madli's scarf from Knitted Lace of Estonia in Pälsull by Östergötlands ullspinneri, but the lace lacked definition.

Combining the pattern from the shawl to the left with the yarn on the right worked much better. The pattern is Vernal Equinox by Lankakomero. It is a laced up version of the Elizabeth Zimmerman Pi shawl (the number of stitches is dubbled at certain intervals). After a while there are just too many stitches and it was a bit of a struggle to finish it when the top measured 170 cm. I didn't pin out the lace properly because by then I couldn't be bothered, but it still looks OK.

The next shawl was much more fun. I might even make it again since I was a bit cheap and only bought one skein of Noro Kureyon sock in colour 95 and it is more like a scarf than a shawl. I usually don't like the finish of entrelac patterns, but here it is perfect for the pattern and the rustic character of this yarn only makes it better. The pattern is called Dianna and can be downloaded for free on Ravelry.

My final project from the blocking session isn't lace but a very clever garter stitch scarf that was mostly knitted in the car. I made a similar scarf in stockinette a few years ago and it is so practical. This version is called Baktus. The yarn is Hjerte sock 4 and the colours behaved quite well with just enough pooling.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Icelandic lace again

I blocked a few shawls last week and two of them are from Thríhyrnur og langsjöl, my Icelandic lace book. The first one is my second attempt at Thríhyrna, the cover design. The first version was too tight and small. This time it is too loose and airy, we'll see if I give it a third try some day. The yarn is red Pälsull by Östergötlands ullspinneri and needles 4mm.

The second shawl was truly all about the process. I bought three balls of the sock yarn Raggi mini by Järbo at the supermarket. With each ball I tried a different pattern. Two were then frogged and only the third was finished. The patterns I didn't choose in the end were Lily of the Valley Scarf from Knitted Lace of Estonia, because the pattern didn't show well and it was too bulky, and Ripple from Knitty, a great design but the edging didn't work in this yarn.

The one I chose to finish is Langsjalid Bárur (waves). It is big, soft and the stripes become great waves and are much easier to knit than using 6 colours like the original.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Estonian lace

This blog was started two years ago when I last visited Tallinn, Estonia. Therefore it is quite fitting that I relaunch after half a year of neglect with another visit to Tallinn. A couple of weeks ago my family and some of our relatives went on a four night cruise on the Baltic Sea. One of the stops was Tallinn and of course we did some knitting related shopping. This is what my kids fell for:

Personally I prefer patterns and yarn, and this time I found a really good selection of books but no yarn that had my name on it. Since my last expedition to the book stores of Estonia several new titles on various traditional crafts had been published. One stood out from the rest and it is one of the best knitting books I have ever seen, even though I can't read the language. (The key to the charts is also given in English.) That is high praise from someone who has collected knitting books for 20 years. The book is Haapsalu sall and it is a collection of lace patterns used for making the superb Haapsalu shawls. These shawls were hand knitted in the seaside resort of Haapsalu where the elite of the Russian empire spent their holidays 100 years ago. The patterns are still very much alive and the shawls are still used as gifts to foreign dignitaries visiting Estonia. Regular turists to Tallinn, like me, will have a hard time finding any but now we can make our own.

I have started out with a sampler with some of my favourite patterns. The yarn is regular Estonian 2-ply that I bought on my last visit. The patterns should be made from much finer yarn, but this is what I had at hand. The shawl was just improvised until I ran out of yarn and then the second edging, which I had knitted earlier, was grafted on. I will post more detailed pictures on Ravelry.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


We have had snow since November, but this weekend we got an extra foot of it. Right now it looks like a postcard outside with fresh snow and the days getting long enough to last until we get home in the afternoon. Nice to be able to take pictures outside on a weekday!

To the left the 4-y-o in his We Call Them Pirates hat. The yarn is merino that I got in Estonia last summer. I sewed his name onto the inside of the linig, and he is so proud of the hat that takes it of to show that detail to people. To the right is the 7-y-o in her new Kari/Ola mittens. The pattern comes from a Norwegian book by Lillill Thuve. The yarn is Garnstudio Karisma. I made a pair in Dale Heilo when she was two, and she loved them, but this pair has not been accepted yet.

Monday, February 9, 2009

All for me

Don't get me wrong, I love being generous and practical and knitting for my family. Lately I have been stressed out and knitting for relaxation, and then I find that gorgeous things for me work best.

During the holidays I was obsessed with Vivian Höxbro's Abstract Stole. Now it has been finished as well. The original has squares of 6-7cm, but mine were 8.5cm before felting and 8cm after. This means that since I made the entire length of the pattern but only five out of nine rows it is very long. The other modification I made was to leave tabs along the lower edge only, instead of the original random pattern. The ends are knitted into the following row as you go along, so there was little finishing. I felted it by washing it in the mashine accompanied with a pair of jeans. I would have liked it to felt more, but since the colours felted very differently I decided to leave it as it is. The pink felted best, but the yellow and orange hardly felted at all. That is the risk with herbal dyes I guess. Thanks mum for the yarn, and for modelling!

I admit that the I have not yet worn the stole myself. It is a bit demanding. The next shawl has been worn for a few days, and I was even stopped by a stranger at the bus stop who liked it. First she wanted to know were I had bought it (knitted it last week...) then she asked for the pattern (Icelandic lace book...) but I could give her the name of the yarn shop (Garnkorgen). I have also promised to translate the pattern for a colleague who has already "copied" the other two scarves I have used this winter. The pattern is called Hyrna Herborgar and I made a smaller version in pale pink before Christmas. This time I used Kauni yarn and 4.5mm needles for a more practical version. I love the way the stripes turned out, I only knew that I wanted the dark purple at the center, but then the purple returned just in time for the edge pattern.

Finally my new pair of Knotty gloves. Knitting these on a long circular needle only took a few nights. They look and feel great, and the purple goes well with my new shawl. The yarn is Ranco multi by Auracania, and it is new favourite. It is not only soft and beautiful, but also seems durable and I have half the skein left.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Three little projects

Three big projects await blocking, so of course I leave them and work on three small ones instead. First up is one that is finished, and does not need blocking. The last sock of the month of Sockklubben 2008 is off the needles and will be used by my daughter next time she goes skating. The pattern is for an adult, but I subtracted 25% from all numbers and they are just right for a 17 cm foot. They have a twist, in two different directions, and that is why the pattern is called Vortical. The yarn is Tofutsies, a slippery but shiny mix of wool, soysilk, cotton and chitin. The colour is a bit too mixed up for the pattern, but it has the same colours as the original model. I thought about making childrens versions of all the ladies pattern in the club last spring, but this is the first time I got around to it. I will try to do this again, because the kids need more socks than me now.

Still in progress are two winter goodies for me. To the left you can see Knotty gloves in lovely sunset colours in Auracania Ranco. They are a really quick knit on a long circular needle, and I hope I can wear them next week. To the right is a new try at Hyrna Herborgar in a heavier yarn. Garntrollet had the same idea, without me knowing about it until I had decided to make this. Hers is not the same colour as mine, but I hope I will get the same size and look.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Höxbro and yarn

This knitting addiction is getting worse every day now. This holiday I have knitted what feels like half a blanket, but still the stash is growing...

The blanket is actually a stole, but the yarn is so much thicker than the original Shetland type yarn that it is getting really big. I do not think I will have enough yarn to make the whole width though, and after a spin in the washer to shrink it I will probably have a large scarf. The pattern is from Knit to be square by Vivian Höxbro and it is the reason I got the book. The yarn was bought by my parents a few years ago from a local artisan who had dyed it using herbs, and a lot of them were in the yarn. You know how some woolen yarn has a lot of grass and stuff in it, well multiply that by 20 and you have some idea what my kitchen loooked like after making these balls. It is also rather coarse, but this project is still highly addictive and I have stuck to it most of the holidays.

I first came across Vivian Höxbro, who is Danish, when she taught a class at the Nordic Knitting Symposium in Härnösand in 2002. I had not chosen her class, but I bought some booklets and a kit and tried the techniques from her then new book Domino Knitting when I got home. The kit has not been completed, but now I feel like giving it another try. It is a children's jacket called Lakridskonfekt (Licorice AllSorts) and I made half the back panel before deciding that it required too much concentration.

Vivian has also published Shadow Knitting, and I gave that a go earlier this autumn since it is based on one of the Japanese techniques that I taught in October. I had some idea that I was going to wear this vest it during the course, but it was not done in time and now it awaits new inspiration. It is knitted in stripes, but the texture makes part of the stripes pop out and form another pattern.

Even though I knit a lot, I plan even more and the stash is growing. Here is most of the yarn from the past month, which has been a little exceptional.

First I was waiting around for my family and ended up in Hemslöjden in Härnösand. I restrained myself and only got some material for Sockklubben 2009 (bottom left). The next weekend I rushed through a Christmas market and found some amazing, natural wool from Kristians gård in Delsbo (top left). For a few years I have been on the lookout for cotton that grows in various shades of green and brown, and now I have found a Pakucho yarn from Strik in Denmark that has a few retailers in Sweden and bought some sample skeins. I think I will get more (bottom center). The purple ball will become a larger Hyrna Herborgar shawl for me (top center). Finally my visit to Garnkorgen yesterday also resulted in a lot of lovely red Ranco from Auracania. One skein is variegated and will become gloves and the solid red will become a sweater for me. I was planning to concentrate on practical clothes for me this year, and not buy as much yarn candy...