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  • forward

    What a few weeks it's been! Busy, with lots of ups and downs, and still so much practical stuff to do... but I'm remembering what a difference it makes to my mood to be well-fed and to knock a few key things off the to-do list (especially those I've been putting off). So having just made myself a nice lunch after successfully tackling a rather daunting to-do list this morning, I'm on the up at the moment.

    I forgot how it feels when you first move abroad - the way time marches forward, oblivious to the many, many things you need to do in order to start getting settled (and there's a lot more of it this time around than there was when I was in Hungary). There are utilities accounts to set up and housewares to buy and errands to run and furniture to put together. The electrician needs to come by and see why the overhead light in the bathroom isn't working properly. That piece of mail delivered to our box by mistake needs to be taken over to the post office. And I finally took care of getting a Norwegian SIM card this week only to learn after putting it in my phone and using it that I'll be unable to text American numbers if my Norwegian mobile provider doesn't have an agreement with the American mobile provider for that phone number (a problem I have never, ever had with Norwegian SIMs in the past). I forgot the way that all of those little things can start to add up and accumulate to make you feel like you're having The Worst Day Ever. And Time doesn't care, it marches on.

    But that stuff starts to get dealt with, and it gets better, too (and, note to self: eating good meals regularly helps immensely). There's so much to celebrate and be grateful for right now. School is going well and I love the little yarn store down the street. The nights are now dark enough for some of the stars to come out, and last night the aurora was out. I watched it from my bedroom window (my bedroom window!) for about an hour. It may seem trivial or frivolous to say this, but that is one of the things I have been looking forward to the most about moving here. The northern lights inspire a sense of childlike wonder in me in a way few other things do. The landscape here does it too, but the lights... the lights are magic. 

    I think that stuff, that sense of awe and wonder, is so important to life and mental health and feeling whole and fulfilled in this world. So for now, I'll remind myself that the stuff that's hard right now will fall away with time, and I'll do my best to eat well and take care of myself and go easy on myself when I can. For now, that's enough. 

  • fringe hatalong

    I was hoping to get this post up last week, but it's been so busy with the semester start I'm only just getting it up! 

    Those of you who read this blog regularly will know I love the Fringe Hatalong series Karen is running this year, so when she got in touch with me to design pattern #4, I was thrilled! Let me introduce you to Laurus:

    Laurus is a free pattern available as a PDF download from the Fringe website right here. Most of the pertinent info is included in the Fringe blog post, including some info about swatching, knitting from a colorwork chart, and our featured charity for this pattern, Hats and More for War-Torn Syria. I don't want to overlap too much with Karen's post, but I did want to share some more about this pattern and how we arrived at it.

    The recommended yarn is Quince & Co. Lark, one of my very favorites. I love the Quince & Co. concept, since their wools (and their new cotton yarn, Willet) are all grown and produced domestically in the United States, with an emphasis on sustainable practices. Lark is a worsted weight 100% wool yarn available in 55 different colors (at current count). I chose Lark for the pattern not just because I love it (though I do), but also because I find the built in "compare" tool on the Quince website particularly useful when choosing yarns for a colorwork project. On any of the yarn pages on the Quince site if you click "compare colors" underneath the large photo at left, you're able to view up to five colorways side by side. Genius!

    One of the things I strive to do as a designer and a teacher is to emphasize the creative possibilities of modifications and the differences our creative decisions can make for our finished object. Since many folks knitting this hat for the hatalong may be doing colorwork for the first time (or have limited experience with colorwork), I suggested to Karen that we work up the hat in two different versions - but both versions would use the same two colorways, and simply swap the main color and contrasting color. I think this completely changes the feel of the hat, even though both samples use the same two colors. 

    I wanted to illustrate that color placement within a project makes a huge difference - and that's something you may not be able to visualize when looking at two skeins of yarn side by side. Swatching is a great way to work out what two colors might look like for your chosen pattern, but colored pencils and graph paper can also be a useful visualization tool.

    We released the pattern last Thursday, but several speedy knitters have already worked up their hats! I've seen a version that omits the stripes and I've also seen a version that takes the Laurus chart and uses it on a Moon Sprites hat instead - both clever and creative, two things I enjoy the most when browsing FOs! I love watching the projects progress, and you can share (or just browse) Fringe hatalong projects everywhere with the tag #fringehatalong.

    I encourage you to give this hat a try even if you've never done colorwork - this pattern's a great starting point with only 7 rounds of colorwork and it's a simpler and more repetitive motif than it appears to be at first glance. I'll be on hand to answer any questions I see popping up as well. I can't wait to see your hats!

    All photos by Kathy Cadigan.

  • velkommen til tromsø

    We've been in Tromsø for two weeks as of today, and what a whirlwind it's been. There's been so much to do and so many new experiences that I've barely had time to think, let alone sit down at the computer (let's not even talk about the state of my email inbox). We've been in our new apartment for a week and it's slowly (ever so slowly) creeping towards a cozy, habitable dwelling, but this has been the longest and most involved move of my life.

    I thought it'd be nice to give you a little bit of info about my new Norwegian home. Tromsø sits at 69º north - well above the Arctic Circle (and the entirety of Iceland, for a knitterly point of reference; Reykjavík sits at 64º north). That means it gets the midnight sun in the summertime (the sun doesn't set for two months) and polar night in the winter (the sun doesn't rise above the mountains in the south for two months). That dramatic difference between summer solstice and winter solstice means the days are already growing shorter at a staggering rate. When we arrived two weeks ago, sunrise was at 2:26 AM and sunset was at 11:08 PM. Today, sunrise was at 3:48 AM and sunset was at 9:45 PM. That's a difference of almost an hour and a half at each end - in two weeks! Still, it hasn't gotten totally dark yet and it won't for a couple more weeks. I'm looking forward to seeing the stars again (and eventually, the northern lights). You can check out sunrise and sunset times for the month of August here, if you're curious.

    Looking west to Kvaløya from Tromsø at 11:45 PM, August 7th

    The natural beauty of the landscape here is overwhelming. Tromsø's a city of around 70,000 (or 75,000 when university is in session) and most of it is situated on the island of Tromsøya ("Troms Island"). The Norwegian mainland lies to the east and a much larger island called Kvaløya ("Whale Island") lies to the west. Tromsøya is connected to the mainland and to Kvaløya by bridges. I can't even describe how happy it makes me to be living on an island surrounded by water and ringed by mountains. The weather can change at the drop of a hat and the light is often dramatic. I could probably stare at the sky and the light on the mountains all day.

    Tromsøya as seen from Storsteinen on the mainland, with Kvaløya at back

    At this point in the year, there's fireweed growing everywhere and it feels impossibly green and positively lush compared to drought-ridden Seattle. I love the scrappy subarctic birch forests, too. Even though the island of Tromsøya isn't that big, there are so many corners to explore. We spent some time down at the beaches on the southwest side of the island last weekend, and I've started exploring the network of trails that criss-cross different parts of the island. Everything feels so alive. I expect that will change as winter approaches.

    I think we're a few weeks away from really feeling settled in (we should be acquiring the essential pieces of furniture we still need this week, at the very least) but it's easier to put up with the hassles of moving when all of this is right outside your door. My classes start this week and perhaps I'll be able to get into a bit of a routine after the first week or two. And then, maybe then, I'll be ready to check out the yarn stores that are just a few blocks from our new place. For now, I have plenty to do (and plenty of WIPs that need working on, if we're being honest).

    I'm looking forward to sharing more of this incredible place with you all as we find our feet here.

  • a day trip to harrisville, new hampshire

    My last week in Seattle went by in a flash. The whirlwind of emotions is difficult to describe, but in some moments, it just hit me. In others, it really didn't feel like I was leaving at all. I expect that'll continue to happen for a little while.

    I left Seattle on Sunday, and I've been in New Hampshire this week visiting some family I won't see for awhile. They live about an hour away from Harrisville, home of Harrisville Designs - known to many knitters as the mill where Brooklyn Tweed's yarns are spun. Wool yarn has been spun in Harrisville since 1794, so this small town has a long and rich history and I felt like I couldn't miss another chance to head over and check it out. It was a bit of an impromptu trip, but my mother, my aunt and I enjoyed our short visit to the Harrisville Designs retail store (a beautiful space) as well as our lunch at the general store across the road. I spent quite a lot of time looking around the store; it's always wonderful to see the Brooklyn Tweed yarns in person, but I really enjoyed getting a chance to see and handle Harrisville Designs' own line of yarns, and they carried a small selection of other yarns as well (from the likes of Rowan, Shibui, and SweetGeorgia, to name a few). It was also a real pleasure to chat with the ladies working in the store (hello, Annmarie and Paula!). I'd love to go back someday and tour the mill buildings.

    a rainbow of Shetland wool on cones

    HD's own Watershed, a beautiful worsted weight

    The store sold much more than just yarn and fiber, and I was pretty smitten with these Maine-made blankets (I think they're these cotton throws from Brahms Mount, but if anyone knows otherwise please let me know!)

    Cheers to my mom for this photo of me at the store entrance!

    Even though it was a very warm summer's day, it was a beautiful one. The rain clouds rolled in as we were leaving town, which was actually pretty delightful. It's easy to fall in love with New England.

    For more Harrisville: Anna from Tolt recently visited Harrisville and you can find the blog post from her visit here; and check out the most recent episode of the New Hampshire Knits podcast (episode 25) for an interview with Nick Colony, whose family owns the business.

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    I'm off to New York today and I fly to Norway on Saturday, so the next post here will most likely be from Tromsø!

  • FO: simple gathered skirt

    The drought continues, and its friend Terrible Heat Wave has come to hang out as well. We've been hovering around 85F / 30C lately, and I can't deny that it has me daydreaming of autumn already. Fortunately, the weather cooled down a bit and we actually had cloud cover for an entire day today, so I was able to head outside and get some photos of a recent FO. 

    In the midst of a bunch of deadline knitting work, I've also been craving a simple sewing project - something to restore some of my confidence after the last few sewing experiences I've had. At this stage, I think I'm coming to terms with the fact that while I like my sewn FOs, generally, I don't necessarily enjoy the process of sewing a garment. What this means right now is that keeping it as simple as possible is the best way for me to go.

    SO. What's one of the simplest sewing projects there is? A gathered skirt. Done right, it can involve very little cutting out of pieces, you only have a few seams to deal with, and the end result can be super flattering. I happen to love high waisted skirts, which is part of why I've been focusing on cropped sweaters lately. While I really like the Chardon skirt (blogged here) I finished a few months ago, I wanted something even simpler to sew. I also wanted something a little longer (thinking ahead to autumn). Starting with the super basic gathered skirt, I opted to add a few details I felt comfortable executing, like pockets at the side seams and a hidden side zip (I don't love the look of an elastic waistband). A few hours later (four or five, probably), and I had a new skirt! (I realize it's a little wrinkled in these photos, but it's been folded, not hanging, as I've started pre-packing my clothes for Norway.)

    The plaid suiting really called out to me when I went to find fabric for this project. I love the neutral tones with that turquoise highlight running throughout. I've been gravitating toward plaids, lately. I think it's a big combination of many things: my growing love for Rowan and in particular this book from Marie Wallin, watching a lot of Outlander a few months ago, and Kate's recent post about Scottesque (and the midi kilt she paired with Buchanan). Between the neutral plaid and the gathered skirt, this thing almost counts as Outlander cosplay, hilariously. The theme song popped in my head when I tried it on to see where I wanted to hem it.

    I used three rectangles (front, back, and waistband) and traced the pocket pieces from the pattern for the Chardon skirt, and that was it. Simple and satisfying. I didn't trim away any of the skirt fabric, which is why the gathering is so dramatic (no Outlander pun intended). I'm very pleased with how the pockets turned out and I think I actually did a pretty decent job of horizontally matching the plaid at the side seams.

    I still need to find closure for the waistband to sit above the zipper - perhaps a heavy duty hook and eye? But that can wait for now. I've paired it with my Chuck in these photos, and I think it's a really lovely combo. I'm looking forward to pairing it with some of my blues as well to pick up on that blue in the plaid. I've logged the skirt on Kollabora and you can check out that page here.

  • summer days

    The longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere is right around the corner (Sunday the 21st, this year).

    The days have been hot lately, too. The entire west coast is in a drought - not just California, which you've probably heard about in the news, but up here in Washington, too. The cherries are early this year. Everything's early. I can't remember the last time it really rained. Just endless sunshine and 70-80 degree days.

    It might sound nice to some, but it can make a Seattleite grumpy. I'm yearning for cloudy days and and some actual, proper rain. Still, I'm doing my best to savor the good parts. Mary Jane is in town, so she and I and Cirilia headed out to the Ballard Locks this week with some treats to do a little outdoor knitting. We hovered in the shade, but it was certainly beautiful. We enjoyed watching the bird life - so many blue herons! - and eating the homemade cookies Cirilia had brought along. 

    I've been enjoying the lingering light as the days have grown longer, too. It's hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that when I get to Tromsø, the days will still be quite long and there will be no real darkness my first few weeks there. The days will rapidly grow shorter, though, so I'm enjoying the long daylight as long as I can, whether I'm here in Seattle or in Tromsø.

    I hope whatever your summer is like so far, you're enjoying it! 

  • around the net

    I'm super excited about a couple of things popping up on the Internet today. Firstly, the pattern for the next Fringe Hatalong has been posted, and it's a worsted weight version of Gudrun Johnston's Hermaness! The original pattern is written for fingering weight, and calls for Brooklyn Tweed Loft; this new version is worsted and calls for Brooklyn Tweed Shelter. I think they're both pretty dreamy, which is great, because you can knit either version for the hatalong. Hop on over to the Fringe blog to download the free PDF (and I should note that only the worsted weight version is available for free; the fingering weight version is part of Gudrun's gorgeous book The Shetland Trader Book Two or you can purchase it individually on Ravelry).

    photo by Karen Templer

    I think this hat is so lovely with its simple Shetland lace, but I'm not sure I'll be able to knit one during the hatalong with the amount of deadline knitting on my plate at the moment (not to mention I have a second L'Arbre Hat I need to finish). I can't wait to watch everyone else's hats taking shape, though! One of my favorite things about the Fringe Hatalong series is that it aims to help knitters develop their skills in small and manageable increments: the first hat was just a knit/purl pattern, the second hat featured knits, purls, and that fun stranded technique that created the motif in L'Arbre, and now we have a hat with a very simple lace repeat. It's the perfect introduction to reading a lace chart, if you've never been a chart reader: the repeat is simple and short, and the only technique we're adding to our repertoire is yarnover increases (since all of the hats have featured decreasing already). There's a guide to knitting from a chart in the Hatalong blog post over at Fringe, as well as several other great tips if you're new to lace or charts.

    If you join in, remember to use the hashtag #fringehatalong when sharing!

    The other thing I'm super excited about today is the launch of Twig & Horn, a new sister company from Quince & Co. I'm kind of a Quince & Co. / Pam Allen devotee at this point, so I was eagerly awaiting today's launch after the announcement earlier this week. Twig & Horn is a needlearts accessories company - in other words, a sister company producing tools for knitters, crocheters, and other fiber artists. Just look at this beautiful homepage:

    twigandhorn.com

    There are three products available at this point: the beautiful wool soap pictured on the home page above (unscented as well as three scented options), a handy gauge ruler, and a simple and beautiful wool project tote, pictured below (available in four colors, though both the blue and green appear to be sold out already). I wish I needed one of those totes right now, but I really don't - if you do, make sure to grab one quickly! I doubt this batch will last much longer.

    images via twigandhorn.com

    I can't wait to see what else Twig & Horn brings us. To stay up to date on their news, you can sign up for their mailing list at the website, or follow them on Twitter or Instagram.

  • new hat patterns!

    Okay, neither of these is technically brand new anymore, but they are both newly available as individual patterns through my Ravelry store.

    You might recognize Fjordland, shown at right, which was first published in issue 7 of Pom Pom Quarterly (Winter 2013). I've been meaning to release it as an individual pattern ever since the rights reverted, and my new camera gave me the little push I needed. Fjordland is worked in fingering weight yarn - the pattern calls for Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light, and I can tell you it's the perfect pattern for using up leftovers (partial sock yarn skeins, anyone?). The sample was actually knit with leftovers from my Amiina and Vasa samples! Check out the Ravelry page for more details and photos and to purchase it.

    The other hat, shown at left, is called Cliff Park. This pattern was originally designed for LYS A Grand Yarn's Indie Club, and since A Grand Yarn was - up until last winter - located in Spokane, Washington, the hat was named after nearby public park Cliff Park. I love the combination of stripes and colorwork, and I especially love the yarn. Cliff Park calls for Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd's Wool Worsted, a delightfully springy worsted spun yarn made from merino top. If you've only ever worked with superwash merino, get ready to have your mind blown. Merino is SO delightful when it hasn't been superwash treated, and Shepherd's Wool is incredibly soft and bouncy. It's also availabe in a huge palette of colors, so there are endless potential color combinations. Find Cliff Park on Ravelry here to see more photos and purchase the pattern.

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    Between all the hats I've released this year, plus the Fringe Hatalong, 2015 is feeling like the Year of the Hat. And speaking of the Fringe Hatalong, Karen's put up the preview for hat #3 - the big reveal is happening next Thursday, June 18th, and I can't wait!

  • some recent FOs

    I haven't shared any knit FOs for a little while, so while I'm working away on projects for fall that I can't show you just yet, I thought I'd share a few! (I'm using the term "recent" a bit loosely, here, since these stretch back to March, but let's just roll with it).

    First up: my very own finished Hearth Slippers

    These are the slippers I designed for Tolt last year. I knit the three sample pairs photographed for the pattern, but those went to Tolt and I was left without a pair of my own. I cast on for my own pair during the joint Hearth Slipper KAL run by Tolt and Fancy Tiger, but it took me awhile to finish them up since I was traveling in December and working on other projects at the beginning of the year. I finally finished these in March, though, and they've been worn SO much since then! They've only been set aside in the last few weeks, as the weather's warmed up here in Seattle. I knit the size Large, so that I could wear them over thick tights - I think I'll be grateful for that once I get to Tromsø - so over my bare feet they're a little slouchier, which I also like. I took these photos this morning, so this is what they look like after a few months of pretty regular wear. Not bad, right? That Fancy Tiger Heirloom Romney is sturdy stuff. I used Dark Natural for my Color A, Hubbard for my Color B, and Natural for my Color C. I absolutely love the moody, wintry feel of this color combination. My Ravelry project page can be found here.

    I shared my yarn choice for the second Fringe Hatalong pattern, but I never shared my finished hat! I ended up putting a pom pom on top (hardly a surprise) and I hope the finished hat will see a lot of use once I get to Tromsø - knit up in Quince & Co. Osprey in the Glacier colorway, it's incredibly warm and cozy and it just hugs my head. The Osprey's almost a little heavy for this pattern, and I'd love to try it knit up in Lark, which might suit it even better. This is a super quick knit and I love how easy it is to memorize the four-round repeat. The pattern is the L'Arbre Hat from Cirilia's beautiful Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads, but the hat (and matching mitts) are available for free in PDF format for the hatalong, thanks to the generosity of Cirilia and her publisher. Be sure to check the errata before you cast on. You can find the Raverly project page for my L'Arbre Hat here.

    And keep an eye out on the Fringe blog for info about hatalong pattern #3! I think it might be time for another reveal sometime in the coming weeks, and I know I can't wait to see what it is.

    Next up: OH, how do I love these socks? Let me count the ways . . . If you're on Instagram, you've surely seen this incredible self-patterning sock yarn pop up in your feed in the past few months. I don't usually go for self-striping or self-patterning yarns, but even *I* fell for this one. It's the new line designed by Arne & Carlos for Regia, and it's fantastic. Traditional Norwegian colorwork motifs provided the inspiration for the patterning, and the palettes for the six different colorways were drawn from different Edvard Munch paintings. Last summer when I was in Norway I had a chance to visit Åsgårdstrand, which was where Munch spent his summers for much of his life. His summer cabin there has been turned into a museum, and it was a really fantastic and idyllic place to visit that gave me a new appreciation for Munch, whose style isn't really what I usually go for. Needless to say, I love this sock yarn. I'm all about it. And I'm super grateful several of my local stores are carrying it (and it's going like hot cakes, from what I can tell!). This colorway is far and above my favorite: Summer Night (color number 3657). The best part is that these are the simplest stockinette socks, and simple socks are my favorite to actually wear. I worked them toe-up with an afterthough heel and did a picot bind-off. The contrasting yarn used for the heel and picot edge is Soft Like Kittens Noodle Sock in Cloud Watching. The Raverly project page can be found here.

    Last we have an FO I'm especially excited about. I fell in love with Chuck when Andi Satterlund released it in the fall of 2012, and I've wanted to knit myself one ever since. I love the simple but elegant cables and I love the cropped length. I've also been trying to make an effort to knit more sweaters that I can wear with my high-waisted dresses and skirts, so I decided it was finally time to give it a go. I picked up five skeins of Quince & Co. Lark in Kittywake at Tolt back in March, and after knitting so many fingering-weight sweaters, a worsted-weight sweater on size 8 needles felt impossibly quick (although this project did do some hibernating for a few months). I worked a tubular bind off for all of the ribbing, but otherwise made no modifications. Andi's a wonderfully clear pattern-writer, so even though this type of construction isn't my favorite to knit, I'm already looking forward to casting on for another Andi project (perhaps an Agatha?). The Ravelry project page is here.

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    Next, I'm trying to see if I can sneak in under the extension deadline for Shannon's Tops, Tanks, and Tees KAL (which ends tomorrow) with my Dubro. I've almost finished the body (one or two stripes left) and then all I'll have left is the sleeves, so it might actually be doable! What's on your needles at the moment?