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  • noteworthy: nordic knitting & wool

    I've been collecting some interesting links and resources in the past couple of months related to Norwegian wool and knitting and the Nordic wool scene more broadly - and I thought it'd be nice to share a few of them with you here. 

    First up: I wrote recently about the fantastic Bladet Garn, a new Norwegian (and Norwegian language) knitting mag that I'm super excited about. Another new Nordic magazine has joined the scene as of December, and those of you who aren't Norwegian speakers may have already heard about it, because this one's published in English: Laine Magazine, which is based in Finland (incidentally, "laine" is the French word for wool but apparently means "wave" in Finnish - I would be curious to hear more about the choice of name from the creators). Laine is dark but rich; luxurious and beautiful, like the last rays of sun coming through the trees of a forest in winter. I finally got a copy this week and while both the magazine and the patterns are gorgeous, the "& lifestyle" part of the "knit & lifestyle magazine" might get me the most excited: articles covering topics like a farm in western Finland dedicated to two domestic sheep breeds (pictured above), a feature on Helga Isager, a travel guide to Lisbon with its color and pattern inspiration, an interview with Stephen West, and some seriously delicious-looking recipes (chocolate cake with dried flowers and flaked sea salt, anyone?) - and that's not even covering everything. In a way it's much more like a book than a magazine, justifying the cost, which makes it somewhat of a luxury. But it is the perfect luxury for a long, slow weekend morning and I can't wait to spend some more time with the articles. My favorite patterns from issue one include Piece of Silver by Veera Välimäki and Siv by Heid Alander, but you can check out all of the patterns on Ravelry here. Laine is set to be published twice a year, I believe, and you can keep up with them on Instagram, or find a stockist near you on their website.

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    Simone of Temple of Knit has started a new interview series on her blog called Nordic Makers, with the intent to share conversations with the people and the businesses shaping her "immediate fiber world" - or more specifically, the fiber community that spans the Nordic region (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and to an extent, Greenland). Simone herself is a Dane living in southern Sweden, and her first interview of the series is with Louisa Bond, a Norwegian based in Oslo, whose blog Worn Values is a welcome addition to my daily blog reader. I highly recommend checking out Louisa's blog as well as Simone's, and Simone's introduction post to her Nordic Makers series is a good one to read, too. Louisa's recent posts on three ways to mend your knits and this guide to ethical shoes were both particularly interesting and useful.

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    Husfliden, the Norwegian Folk Art and Craft Association, is putting on a conference about Norwegian wool this April: Ullialt - Konferanse om norsk ull. This one is definitely for Norwegian speakers, and with my thesis work I doubt I'll be able to go (sadly!), but it's taking place April 20-23 in Stjørdal, just outside Trondheim (effectively right next to the Trondheim airport). The description roughly reads: "We invite the whole wool supply chain to come and join in as we build enthusiasm and knowledge about Norwegian wool - in industry, in design, in agriculture and handicrafts. How can Norwegians make better use of our own domestic wool?" It's exactly the sort of thing I get excited about, so I hope this won't be a one-off thing. Hat-tip to Norwegian wool hero Tone Tobiasson for the heads up.

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    These natural grey wool fabrics from Norway Cloth / Varp og Veft are making my heart flutter. The wool comes from Grey Trønder sheep (Grå Trøndersau) and both the yarn and the fabric are produced here in Norway. It's almost enough to make me want to give sewing another proper try... But on a related note, if you want to get a feel for the wool from the Trønder sheep, Selbu Spinneri sells trøndersau yarns (although I don't know what their international shipping policy is). In any case, this particular pattern is my favorite of the fabrics from Norway Cloth. They also sell finished objects made from the fabrics, like cushions.

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    There's more to share, but I'll save that for another day!

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  • bladet garn

    I received a magazine in the mail a couple of weeks ago and I've been wanting to sit down and write about it ever since. It's Bladet Garn, a brand new independent Norwegian knitting mag, and the first issue is absolutely gorgeous. The creators, Solveig Engevold Gaustad (aka Surrehue) and Unni Cathrine Eiken (aka Malsen og Mor), have obviously found a niche that had yet to be filled in the Norwegian market, as they launched the magazine after a very successful Kickstarter campaign. Notably, Unni is a fellow linguist, so we probably have her to thank for the fact that the magazine's logo is rendered in IPA, the international phonetic alphabet. "Garn" is the Norwegian word for "yarn," and due to Norway's diverse collection of regional dialects, the pronuncation of this word can vary from place to place. The pronunciation represented in the logo ([gɔːn]) is how you might expect to hear "garn" said in the Hedmark region of Norway, but the editors note several other pronunciations you might hear in their intro to this issue, and they invite readers to share their own pronunciation on Instagram with the hashtag #jegsiergarn (meaning "I say yarn"). So... a Norwegian-language knitting mag that also happens to be embracing sociolinguistics? It's probably no shocker that I'm a shoe-in for this one. I did record my own pronunciation, and if you didn't already see it on Instagram, you can scroll down to the bottom of this post. But for now, back to the knitting!

    I've been looking forward to this project since I first heard about it, but the moment I really got excited was when they revealed the cover in the days before publication - not only is it gorgous, but it features a shawl designed by Nina of Ninapetrina, my nearest local yarn dyer! It's called Glør and it's knit up in her gorgeous yarn too, of course. The rest of the issue doesn't disappoint, either. There are 14 patterns in total, a mix of garments and accessories for both adults and children. You can view all the patterns on Ravelry here. There's also a nice mix of articles which I'm still working my way through (I've mentioned before that I'm a very slow reader in Norwegian) on a range of topcis, including an essay on knitting from Bjørg Myhre Ims, a designer profile on Elisabeth Steenks, and a segment called "one to follow" profiling a knitter on Instagram (in this issue, @pollywantsanothercracker). It's great reading for someone like me who's still learning my way around the Norwegian knitting community. There's also a tutorial for making your own small weaving loom out of a frame, and an overview of some of the awesome knitting books recently published in Norway. In other words, they've packed a lot of good stuff in here. Here are just a few of my favorite patterns, aside from Nina's on the cover above:

    Clockwise from top left, these are the løvlibolerojakke jente (the girls' version) by Strikkelisa (Elisabeth Steenks), a beautiful cabled vest called Flettevest by Cecilie Oddenes, the adult version of the løvlibolerojakke by Strikkelisa, and some gorgeous mittens knit using two-color twined knitting, called Tvebandvotter, by Lene Tøsti. The twined mittens also have an accompanying article which I'm looking forward to reading.

    Unfortunately for those of you who don't speak Norwegian, this is only a Norwegian-language magazine. But maybe some of you out there who've spent time studying the language or who are interested in deciphering Norwegian knitting patterns might be interested? And for those of you who are in Scandinavia or speak a Scandinavian language, I hope you're as excited as I am to see where this magazine is headed. You can pick up your own copy (or a three-issue subscription) on the Bladet Garn website right here.

    Lastly, as promised, here's my contribution to the #jegsiergarn tag on Instagram. This one's for all of you who have ever wanted to see me awkwardly speak Norwegian on camera. Enjoy!

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  • first snow and FOs

    Things have gotten very busy lately, but I wanted to pop in to say hello and share a few things.

    First up: Pomcast, the podcast of knitting & crochet Pom Pom Quarterly, has a new episode up featuring an interview with me! I a live interview with Lydia at the Oslo Strikkefestival, though the audio unfortunately didn't make it, so Sophie caught up with me via Skype after the fact (we largely covered the same questions, so don't feel too sad if you missed out on the original interview, and don't expect it to be wildly different if you happened to be there!). Still, it was fun to do an interview in a room full of lovely people knitting while we chatted and I enjoyed the novelty of wearing a "Britney Spears microphone," as Lydia called it.

    Secondly: while we're on the topic of the Oslo Strikkefestival, I have a couple of FOs to share that I knit up using yarn I bought at the marketplace! I finished my Lupine shawl, which I wrote about in my last post, and I'm so pleased with how it turned out.

    The pattern is by Cory Ellen Boberg of Indie Knits and the yarn is the gorgeous gradient I picked up from Squirrel's Yarns, which was one of my impulse purchases at the festival (the Pécan Fing base in the color Hématite). If you like gradient yarns, I can't recommend Lisa's gradients enough. The transitions are impossibly smooth and the finished shawl is so pretty to me in its simplicity.

    The other FO is also knit up in one of my marketplace purchases: it's a Simple Hat by Hannah Fettig in the spælsau yarn I purchased from Værbitt. This was the first time I've knit with a 100% spælsau yarn, so I wanted to knit something simple that would get a lot of wear and let me really get a feel for the yarn knitted up in a fabric. I also didn't want the pattern to compete with the subtle variation in the colorway.

    I have to say, I love the finished hat. This yarn's a little bit rustic and it feels slightly wiry in the hand - it's very strong - but it's also surprisingly soft considering that, and when washed and blocked it developed a bit of a lovely halo that adds to that soft feel. This hat has gotten a lot of wear already and I think it'll continue to do so.

    Lastly: we've all been impatiently waiting for the snow in Tromsø, as last week we passed the previous record for the date of the first snowfall of the season (that means in recorded memory, it has never been as late as this year: yikes). But finally, on Saturday evening, the snow started falling. It kept coming down through Sunday, when I got to take a walk down to my favorite park. It's nice to revisit the photos, because Tuesday turned suddenly warm again, bringing rain, and the snow started to melt almost immediately. Between the rain clouds and the fact that we bid farewell to the sun last week (it won't rise again until January), it's been very, very dark this week. Hopefully before too long it'll cool down again and the snow will come back, but for now, enjoy these photos from Sunday's walk.

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  • oslo strikkefestival: yarn

    I have a few posts-in-progress lined up for the blog once I have a chance to finish them, but as school has intensified this term, and the US election season approached its climax in the past weeks, it's been a bit of a struggle to get anything finished. And today, after having woken up to the results at six in the morning yesterday, I'll admit I'm feeling at a bit of a loss. This week is tough for many of us, American or otherwise.

    But in an attempt to turn toward the positive: I spent this past weekend at the Oslo Strikkefestival (for whom I designed my Rosenhoff Votter), in the company of a collection of absolutely incredible people. I'd love to share more about the experience soon - the fantastic organizers Katie and Tone, the workshops and the marketplace and the general atmosphere, meeting so many people in person who I've interacted with online. It was truly wonderful. But right now what I really need is a couple of mental health days before I dive headfirst back into my thesis work. So I thought for now I'd just share what I picked up from the marketplace - which, after reading the vendor list in advance, I was greatly anticipating.

    You all know I'm working to buy less yarn and knit from my existing stash whenever possible, but I've known for months that I was going to make a big exception for Oslo Strikkefestival. Having started the Norwegian wool series on this blog (which I hope to get back to soon!), I'm super interested in exploring new-to-me yarns that are domestically sourced and produced in Norway. I've also lately become interested in the world of Norwegian hand-dyed yarns, as many of those businesses are only just getting started. The marketplace at this past weekend's festival was an absolutely fantastic place to check out a large sample of Norwegian-made and/or Norwegian-dyed yarns in person all at once. And so I came home with a few things... and you can see from the photo at the top of this post that I didn't stray from my typical color palette too far. There are worse things than being predictable, though, I suppose.

    I've written about how much I love Hillesvåg and their pelsull yarn on this blog before, so I was very happy to pick up a skein of a new weight of pelsull. Sølje is a lovely fingering-weight version and it's surprisingly soft. Hillesvåg has kept with their tradition of naming their yarns after things related to Norwegian tradition and folklore, as sølje is also the name for the brooches typically worn with the bunad, the national folk costume. The Hillesvåg booth didn't have a lot of this yarn left by the time I made my way over to pick some up, but I snagged this skein in the color lys rødlig beige, or "light reddish beige." I'm not sure yet what it will be but I'm very curious to see how this weight knits up compared with the sport weight Pelsull and the bulky Blåne.

    Next up is something different, although still in my typical grey: this is the Kid Silk base from Norne Yarns in the Fenrir colorway. Tuva of Norne Yarns was a vendor at last year's festival as well, and her specialty is luxury bases (I didn't asked her specifically about the sources of the bases but I assume they're sourced abroad). The diversity of yarns in the marketplace was one of the most exciting things to me - although I am a huge advocate for Norwegian wools, I think a Norwegian dyer working with luxury bases is an excellent niche to fill and I'm quite looking forward to trying this yarn out. This grey color is called Fenrir after Fenrir the grey, the great wolf from Norse mythology (also the inspiration for the werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter universe). One of my favorite things about Tuva's yarns is the Norse mythology woven through all the names, right down to the brand name itself - Norne - as the Norns are the Norse version of the female Fates who rule the destinies of men (artwork of the Norns spinning the threads of fate at the bottom of Yggdrasil is easy to find). Fans of Norse mythology will recognize many names in Norne's colorways: Yggdrasil, Valkyrie, Freyr, the Mistress of Seidr (which refers to Freyja), Skadi, Ratatosk, and many more. 

    Nina Petrina is probably my most local indie dyer, as Nina is from Troms (my county), just a short drive away from Tromsø over in Storfjord. I recently knit her Nordlyslue (northern lights hat), and I was looking forward to checking out more of her yarns in the marketplace. I was also really happy to meet Nina in person, as she is lovely! Not all of her yarns are domestic Norwegian wool - in fact, she carries some Quince & Co. yarns - but her focus is on organic and fair trade wool and she's very environmentally conscious. I picked up some of her Tynn Bluefaced Leicester (hooray for breed-specific wools!) in this beautiful teal shade that almost perfectly matched one of the stripe colors of my Fringe & Friends KAL sweater, which I was wearing at the time. I'm not sure what I'll use this for yet, but it's going to be beautiful.

    This yarn is one of the ones I'm the most excited about but at this point I can give you the least specifics. It's from the indie dyer I was perhaps the most eager to see: Værbitt. The name literally means "weather-bitten," and it's a word that I as a foreigner associate most strongly with the Norwegian national anthem, as it appears in the third line of the first verse (the only verse I know by heart). I had a lovely chat with Laila, the owner (and I probably gushed a bit), because Laila uses mainly Norwegian-sourced wools and Nordic breeds for her bases. The yarn above is spun from spælsau wool, both the sturdy guard hair layer as well as the softer inner layer of wool, so it's very sturdy even as a single-ply, and absolutely beautiful. I'm very excited to follow Værbitt's work in the future.

    All four of the above yarns were ones I planned to check out and I was expecting to come home with - but of course, there were a couple of curve balls, too. They came home with me because these are the yarns I actually have concrete plans for, unlike the ones above.

    Claire of We Love Knitting traveled all the way from Melbourne, Australia to be a vendor at the marketplace, and she is honestly and without exagerration probably the sweetest person I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I came home with a skein of her Merino Fingering in the Icicle colorway (at bottom) and her Sock base in a beautiful grey (top). These will become a pair of Lumineux socks, from this year's Knitworthy collection from Ysolda. Thankfully I can always use more handknit socks here.

    And last but definitely not least, I think I'm actually incapable of resisting a beautiful greyscale gradient. This one came from Squirrel's Yarns, another one of the international vendors - Lisa is based in France and her gradients were one of the first things that caught my eye at the marketplace. This one is in her Pécan Fingering base, which has a bit of silver stellina in the yarn that gives it a lovely sparkle (which unfortunately doesn't seem to photograph very well in my low winter light). I'm pretty sure this is going to become a Lupine shawl, a pattern by my friend Cory I've been wanting to knit for a long time. I actually had another stash yarn set aside for that, but this one feels like an even better fit.

    Thanks again to Katie and Tone and everyone else who made Oslo Strikkefestival so fantastic this year. It was a bright spot in the midst of a dark time.

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  • FO: fringe and friends top-down knitalong

    This past week's Slow Fashion October theme is HANDMADE, and for whatever reason I'm not finding myself in the right headspace to write about it. Maybe it's because I feel like my style is in flux at the moment - I wrote about how moving to northern Norway and breaking my shoulder in March have both had an effect on my wardrobe. I make clothes by hand because at this point, I don't know how to not make things by hand. There is an element of habit and compulsion that I'm in the process of reflecting on. So I'm still working on how to acquire new materials thoughtfully and with purpose; meditating on how to avoid buying too much, or things I don't need. And while my stash doesn't feel like a burden the way it did two years ago, there's still a lot of it. 

    So I suppose when it comes to handmade, my priorities are a work in progress. Karen also brought attention to the handmade vs. homemade distinction, which I think is really interesting. For me, sometimes handmade is homemade (by me), but I'm also perfectly willing to invest in handmade clothes made by someone else for commercial production. I love small batch producers of ethical clothing. And since my forays back into sewing in the past few years have left me feeling a little frustrated (and I also no longer own a sewing machine), clothing handmade by small brands has real value to me. I am much less prone to excess when I'm spending a lot of money on a Jennifer Glasgow dress or a Curator top (or even a home-sewn dress from a vintage boutique). I'm forced to really think about how that piece will fit into my existing wardrobe or whether I'm buying a second version of something I already own, in a way that doesn't always happen when I'm casting on for a new project. I find that a useful exercise. But all this starts pushing into next week's topic, which is known origins, so let's get back to handmade for the moment...

    I already wrote that I jumped in on this year's Fringe and Friends KAL almost on impulse after getting an idea for a stripe sequence that would use a buch of stash yarn. Just over two weeks ago I finally finished weaving in all the stripey ends and got that sweater blocked and seamed, and I'm so pleased with it that it's hard not to just wear it every day.

    So here's my Improv (I used Karen's top-down tutorial on the Fringe blog). It's really interesting to write about this sweater this week, with this handmade theme for Slow Fashion October. Part of why I went ahead and cast on for this sweater when I had planned to stick to WIPs was because it was something that could be made entirely with stash yarn - I mean, how many of us have stashes full of single skeins (or perhaps pairs of skeins) of yarns we fell in love with and bought without a plan? Most of us don't have sweater quantities of single yarns in one color sitting around in our stashes. So a sweater entirely from stash - that felt like an exciting challenge. And sometimes the best time to jump in and start something is when you feel that spark. So I did! (And for the record, I've been doing pretty well at not casting on new things and working my way through those WIPs, so I'm giving myself a little pat on the back.)

    I've written before that the idea for the stripe sequence was able to emerge in my head largely because I've started cataloguing stash on Ravelry - I'd handled these yarns in the recent past, I'd weighed them to note the amounts I had, and I'd photographed them. I'd also noticed that some of the colors went really well together. So once I got the idea, I was able to determine pretty quickly that I had more than enough yarn for a sweater. Looking at the exact amounts allowed me to finalize the stripe sequence - I had remainders of single skeins of three colors, and I had about two skeins each of two colors. Technically, these were all leftovers from other projects, though in some cases I overbought for the initial projects (or the original plan changed), leaving an unusual amount of yarn leftover.

    These are all worsted weight yarns - three of them are Berroco Ultra Alpaca (in Charcoal Mix, Heathered Olive, and Turqoise Mix), and two are Stonehedge Shepherd's Wool Worsted (in Great Lakes and Blue Spruce). I wasn't too concerned about mixing these bases even though one is a wool/alpaca blend and one is 100% merino, and since the vast majority is the Ultra Alpaca, it really didn't matter in the end. Because I had the largest quantities of the Charcoal Mix and Heathered Olive, I worked stripes of both of those colors between each contrasting stripe. The distinction isn't one you really see from far away, but up close the subtle effect reveals itself and I love what it does for this sweater.

    The finished sweater very closely resembles my original vision. There's some subtle decreasing on the sleeves, but the body has no shaping. The bottom features a split hem. The one compromise I had to make in the end was the neck - when I imagined this sweater initially, I pictured a wide sort of foldover turtleneck (think Birch Bay), which seemed both posh and cozy and felt really inviting. But it became apparent really quickly as I worked my way through the sweater that it was very unlikely I'd have that much charcoal yarn leftover. I spent awhile thinking about whether to simply finish the neckline with the yarn I had or if it would be better to stay faithful to my initial vision and buy an extra skein of the charcoal to make the generous neck happen. (I also asked for your advice on Instagram at that point, and thank you all so much for your helpful feedback!) In the end I decided that I would rather not buy extra yarn - so much more satisfying for it to be entirely stash! - and just see how far the yarn I still had would get me. I also had the realization that practically, a simple open neck would be much more useful in my daily life than an oversized cowl/turtleneck, since I wanted to be able to wear this sweater inside, and I overheat really easily. And now that it's done? I'm really, really happy with the neck of this sweater. It truly does fit seamlessly into my existing wardrobe. And I definitely knocked back my stash a little bit. The photo at the top shows the leftovers of each color - from left to right there's Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Charcoal Mix, Heathered Olive, and Turqoise Mix, and then Shepherd's Wool in Great Lakes and Blue Spruce. 

    While I was knitting this sweater, I had dreams of photographing it in front of the beautiful golden birches, but by the time I got all the ends woven in, I'd kind of missed my window in Tromsø. The closest I got was this progress shot (above) during our trip in Nordland, when I was working my way through sleeve number two. (We'll just have to use our imaginations. But you can see that it would've been great, right?!)

    I learned a lot making this sweater. I learned about finding creative ways to use my stash to supplement my wardrobe. I learned a lot about why you might want to knit a sweater top-down (I'm still a steadfast bottom-up devotee, but now it's easier for me to see which cases might call for top-down). And I learned that my original vision may not always be the best fit for my wardrobe, and that taking time to reflect on that will probably help me knit pieces that become staples (and don't get frogged down the road). You can check out my Ravelry project page here, and I highly recommend taking a spin through the whole #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 feed to see everyone's beautiful sweaters. They are all so different and all so special - thanks to everyone else for sharing along the way!

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  • slow fashion october: introduction

    When Karen launched Slow Fashion October last year, I really wanted to participate. I wasn't able to take part in any very active way, though, for a variety of reasons. For one thing, I was knee-deep in the first semester of my master's program, trying to keep up with readings and homeworks and paper-writing after several years away from any type of schoolwork. For another, I had only moved to Tromsø two months before, so I was only just beginning to adjust to my new climate, which has had (and continues to have) a great effect on my wardrobe. This year, I'm in a much better place to join in on Slow Fashion October with some active reflection. I've spent over a year in my new climate and I have a much better idea of how it's transformed my relationship with clothing. It's also been a year and a half since I decided to step away from running Paper Tiger as my full-time day job and start the transition back to this being a part-time gig. It feels like a good moment for reflection.

    For those unfamiliar, Slow Fashion October was started by Karen Templer of Fringe Association last year as an opportunity for conversation - about what "slow fashion" is and means to us, about the ways in which we approach it, and reasons why a slow fashion wardrobe is a choice many of want to make. In Karen's words, "the conversation is not just about handmade — it’s about all the ways (and reasons!) we can approach a slow-fashion wardrobe." This includes finding ways to make do and mend, buying second hand, and thinking about how to keep clothing out of the landfill. I have many, many thoughts on fast fashion and the state of the fashion industry, but for today I'll focus on how my own context affects my approach to clothing.

    I've spent much of the last year thinking critically about my wardrobe and how my move to Norway is affecting my choices, as well as ways to make do with what I have. Even though I donated about half of my yarn stash before the move, my stash is still.... sizeable, to say the least. It no longer overwhelms me, but I would like to knit from it before buying new yarn, and it always feels good to find the holy grail: the right project that fits into my long-term wardrobe plans using yarn I already have. So I've slowly (very slowly) started to catalog my stash using Ravelry's stash feature. While it's an ongoing process, I've already seen the benefits - starting to catalog worsted weight yarns on Ravelry led directly to my Fringe & Friends KAL sweater (pictured at top, and nearly finished!), knit entirely from yarns in my stash. I don't think that stripe sequence would have popped into my head if I hadn't been handling the yarns and noting the quantities for my Ravelry stash page.

    So, how has my new climate affected my wardrobe? Those of you who follow this blog know that I live in Norway, but many of you probably don't realize exactly how far north Tromsø is. This felt like a good opportunity to provide some conext:

    Tromsø sits at 69ºN, well above the Arctic Circle (and the entirety of Iceland, which only just barely crosses the circle), and nearly due north of Stockholm (since Norway wraps around the northern coast of the Scandinavian peninsula, it shares a border not just with Sweden, but also with Finland and Russia). I'm up there. Tromsø is about as far away from Norway's capital, Oslo, as upstate New York is from Savannah, Georgia. Thanks to the Gulf Stream winters are actually quite mild for this latitude, but there's still about four months of the year when we've continuously got snow on the ground. Summers are also mild - 20ºC/70ºF is a hot day - and they can be on the wet side. It's often pretty windy here. My wardrobe has been moving in a more androdgynous direction for a few years, and living in Tromsø has definitely continued that trend, along with a healthy dose of practicality. When I think about things I want to make for myself now, I'm always taking the weather into account. This is obviously a wool-friendly climate, and truth be told, the biggest gap in my handmade wardrobe now is socks. I wear my few pairs of handknit socks with boots on a very regular basis for most of the year.

    Breaking my shoulder in March had an effect on my sartorial choices as well. Spending two months in a sling with instructions not to move my arm in certain directions meant getting in and out of clothing became a special challenge. Button-down shirts and loose boxy tops that were easy to pull on and off with one arm became my go-tos, and to be honest, things didn't really change that much after my shoulder started improving and I could move my arm again. Clothing that layers well and fits under a coat or jacket is also important. That means most of the time I find myself at a happy medium between fitted clothing and super oversized pieces. 

    Continuing this line of thought, I started off Slow Fashion October by frogging a sweater. In the midst of reassessing my wardrobe, I've realized there things I just don't wear anymore. With the exception of the short summer, I rarely wear skirts or dresses here, so my pre-move plan to knit more things I could wear with high-waisted skirts now seems pretty low on the priority list. When I do reach for a sweater to wear with skirts or dresses, it's my Chuck. Those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile may remember the sweater pictured in that previous blog link - my Splitta Genser, with the lovely foldover back and dark grey garter stitch. It's a nice sweater. I genuinely thought it would help fill a hole in my handknit wardrobe. But - here's the crucial bit - I never, ever wear it. Truth be told, it came out too small (it's been rather aggressively blocked in those FO photos). Also, dolman sleeves? Not for me, it turns out - they don't work so well when you try and tuck them into a jacket. So over the weekend, I sat down and carefully unpicked the grafted seams and then frogged the whole thing. I love wearing grey and I have more of this yarn; I can easily turn it into something I'll actually wear on a regular basis. I'd rather have it as yarn waiting in my stash than as a sweater that I never wear (clothing storage space is at a premium for us in our closet-less Norwegian apartment).

    When it comes to buying ready-to-wear clothing, I'm a little at a loss these days. I find it very hard to avoid fast fashion in Norway and I've ended up buying clothing online from the US instead because I know I can buy from companies who are doing their best to make ethical business decisions and promote transparency in the fashion industry. If any Europeans (especially in Scandinavia) have suggestions for clothing companies that are sourcing their fabrics ethically and manufacturing domestically, I'd love to hear about it. Basically, I'm looking for a Norwegian version of my favorite shop in Seattle, Velouria. It feels like it must exist, but if it does, I don't know about it yet. I guess the silver lining is that I don't really need anything new - I do have plenty of clothes already.

    There's so much more I could say about my thoughts on slow fashion, but I'll save some for future posts. I've already been doing a lot of thinking and reading in these first few days of October. Karen linked to a really important piece of writing called No One Wants Your Old Clothes - it's an eye-opening piece that feels like an excellent prerequisite to this year's conversation. I also just last week started reading Empire of Cotton by Sven Beckert, which is already an excellent book just two chapters in and I'll have a lot more to say about that in a later post as well. Will you all be taking part in this year's Slow Fashion October?

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  • inspiration: this thing of paper

    "Who is ignorant of the difference between writing [scriptura] and printing [impressura]? A manuscript, written on parchment, can last a thousand years. How long will print, this thing of paper [res papirea] last?"
    — Johannes Trithemius, In Praise of Scribes (De Laude Scriptorum)

    When I was in high school, my mom worked in the office for the Women's and Gender Studies program at one of the local universities. The office was sent copies of Bust Magazine and mom always brought them home for me to read. If memory serves me correctly, it was in one of those copies of Bust that I first stumbled into a tutorial for how to make your own journal using some pretty basic bookbinding techniques. I was hooked after that first tutorial - all my high school journals from that point on were little simple books I'd bound myself (you can see a few of them in the photo above). I went on to make a set of journals in 2006/2007 for my friend, musician John Vanderslice. The books had canvas covers and I painted album artwork from his catalog on them - it was a pretty immense project that to this day I am proud of. And while I've always remained a dabbler, my interest in making books has held (the most recent one I made was a birthday gift for my husband for his birthday before last). 

    I think it's easy for fiber artists to be interested in books. The physicality of crafts like knitting or crocheting or spinning is central to them. We learn our way around the physical properties of wool and other fibers, the crunch or heft or twist. We learn to follow the feel of the knitting in our hands instead of relying on our eyes alone to see if we've dropped a stitch or made a mistake. And we really love beautiful pattern books. 

    So perhaps it's not surprising that we've gone a bit mad over Karie Westermann's upcoming project, This Thing of PaperYou've likely heard about it already, but in case you haven't: the project is inspired by Gutenberg and the invention of the printing press, and the fascinating era of transition in bookmaking that transpired. This collection is going to be a physical book - a beautiful physical book - with 10 patterns for garments and accessories as well as accompanying essays. Karie's funding the project via a Kickstarter, and thanks to the intense enthusiasm for this project she was 100% funded in just 25 hours (!!), and at this point she's raised an incredible sum of £21,641, absolutely blowing her original goal of £9,700 out of the water. If you haven't yet pledged your support but you'd like to, you can still do so on the Kickstarter page until Wednesday at 10:45AM central European time - just about 42 hours to go at the time this post goes live. I am so happy to help spread the word about this project, because the finished product is going to be something that I'll be very excited to hold in my hands - and obviously, as just one of Karie's many backers, I'm not alone in that feeling.

    Not shockingly, I'm most looking forward to the colorwork patterns, but this collection will feature more than just colorwork and I can't wait to see how Karie's own aesthetic as a designer interacts with her inspiration and source material. I'm also really looking forward to the essays - how can I not love a book that excites the academic in me just as much as the knitter? If you find yourself curious as well, you can back the project, check out Karie's mood board on Pinterest to get a peek at her visual inspiration, or peruse the stops on the blog tour for This Thing of Paper, of which this is the final stop. Highlights from the tour for me included JacquelineM's tutorial for binding a booklet to keep notes for projects from This Thing of Paper (not unlike that first journal tutorial I encountered in high school) and Felix's interview with Karie that went live last Friday, but the whole tour is absolutely worth checking out - the links below will take you directly to the blog posts:

    May 26: Naomi Parkhurst

    May 27: Meg Roper

    May 30: Natalie Servant

    June 1: Jacqui Harding

    June 6: Woolly Wormhead

    June 8: Tom of Holland / Tom van Deijnen

    June 10: Ella Austin

    June 13: Leona Jayne Kelly of Fluph

    June 15: JacquelineM

    June 16: Felix Ford/KNITSONIK

    June 17: Clare Devine

    When you've finished with that, be sure to check out Karie's own wrap-up post, which also has some great practical info regarding when the book will be available and how it can be purchased for wholesale, etc. Congratulations, Karie! We can't wait to see what you've come up with.

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  • edinburgh yarn fest

    I had an incredible weekend in Scotland for Edinburgh Yarn Festival, though I did an absolutely terrible job of taking photos at the festival itself (and in fact I took very few photos all weekend). There were so many highlights - too many to name them all! It was incredible to see so many friends meet so many others for the first time, many of whom are colleagues whose work I've followed and blogs I've read for years (among them Ysolda Teague, Kate Davies, Felicity Ford, Bristol Ivy, Anna Maltz, Rachel Atkinson, Susan Crawford, Karie Westermann, Thea Colman, Kirsten Kapur, Ella Gordon, and the list goes on as I'm sure I'm leaving some people out). There is something so incredible about connecting in person with the community we so often interact with via a screen - it's a unique camaraderie. Now it's back to work and I have an email inbox full of messages that need replies...

    But first, I will share a few highlights! The marketplace was absolutely swamped on Friday morning when I arrived, and it was a treat to wander around and hear so many different accents (and languages!) around me and know that so many folks had traveled to the festival from afar like I did. I was able to attend Susan Crawford's talk on Saturday about the Vintage Shetland Project and it was incredible to hear about this project several years in the making. Susan has worked together with the textile museum in Shetland to recreate 27 different pieces, and the patterns to knit those pieces have been compiled in a book along with the unique stories of each garment and accessory. The book is being printed next month and I absolutely can't wait to see it (it's currently available for preorder here). Friday night's ceilidh was also a highlight, though I didn't partake in any dancing myself due to a shoulder injury. 

    I typically travel light and I didn't go straight home after the festival (I'm in LA for the remainder of my Easter break) so I didn't go nuts at the marketplace, but I did manage to squeeze in a few woolly souvenirs that I'm quite excited about. From left to right: the gorgeous Daughter of a Shepherd yarn launched by Rachel Atkinson at the festival, which is 100% Hebridean wool from her father's flock (and it's naturaly that gorgeous dark color); a skein of the recently-launched undyed Blend no. 1 from Ysolda, a blend of Merino, Polwarth, and Zwartbles wool that is the most gorgeous heathery light grey with a charcoal halo; and a small green skein of the same yarn, dyed by Triskelion Yarn.

    For more on the festival, check out Kate's recap and snapshots - the photo of Kate with Ella in her crofthoose yoke and Felix in her Missy Elliott masterpiece is a favorite.

    The rest of the weekend, for me, was about spending time with wonderful people in a wonderful city. I love Edinburgh, and I got to have many great meals and the weather was gorgeous Saturday and Sunday. I took a walk up the Crags on Sunday afternoon with Thea, Kirsten, and Rebecca Redston that was just the cherry on top. A massive thank you to everyone who made this such an incredible weekend, and to Jo and Mica who organize the festival. If you ever find yourself with a chance to go to Edinburgh Yarn Fest, my advice is simple: go. You won't regret it.

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  • quince & co.

    A lot has happened in the month since I wrote last. The middle of the semester is busy as usual, so the weeks seem to be flying by. I was beginning to suffer from some cabin fever but I took a weekend trip to Oslo a few weeks ago that was incredibly refreshing - I celebrated a friend's birthday, saw friends I haven't seen in ages, visited favorite old haunts, and I also got the chance to meet up with Katie, the organizer of the Oslo Strikkefestival. It was quite a treat, and I came home to Tromsø feeling energized and happy to be back. I've planned some more travel since then: Edinburgh Yarn Festival coincides with the beginning of my Easter break (Norwegians take a whole week off) so I decided to book myself a trip! I'm quite looking forward to it (so many fantastic folks in one place!), and if you're attending as well, keep an eye out and say hello if you spot me!

    My biggest piece of news today, however, is that I am absolutely thrilled (humbled, honored, overjoyed) to be a part of the inaugural design team for Quince & Co. My first piece as part of the team should be out sometime this week, but in the meantime you can read the announcement on the Quince blog over here. I've written about my love for Quince as a company and for their yarns on this blog before, so needless to say I'm truly so thrilled to be working with them on more patterns. The whole design team lineup is absolutely stellar and I count myself lucky to be listed among them: Bristol Ivy, Cecily Glowik MacDonald, and Isabell Kraemer have already been announced and Pam Allen is also contributing patterns to the collections (ETA: also Melissa LaBarre, who was announced today!). My first pattern as part of the team will be going live soon, so I'll share more then!

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  • phileas yarns

    Arthur's Seat, 2012

    This is going to be a post about yarn, but first I need to tell you a story. In my early twenties, I did a lot of solo travel on a shoestring budget, and one of the ideal ways to go about that is to couchsurf. Kind people offer up their couches (or their guest beds) to travelers and in return they sometimes host travelers at their own home. Admittedly I did more traveling than hosting, but it's a great way to meet like-minded or interesting people in new places. (For those of you feeling freaked out by this concept: don't worry, it was safe and secure, but I'm not going to go into those details here because that's not really the point of this story.)

    Several years ago, when I was living in Hungary, I decided to take a trip to Edinburgh. I didn't know when I booked my trip, but in Edinburgh I was going to meet the best couchsurfing host I ever had. I lined up a host for my first few nights, and her name was Sylvie. Sylvie went above and beyond when it came to hospitality - she even picked me up at the airport! And when we got into town, we stopped by her flat where she put a thermos and a container of cake in her bag, and then she walked me up to Arthur's Seat, where we watched the sun set over Edinburgh with tea and cake in hand. Is that not the most perfect thing you've ever heard? Part of what makes Sylvie such an incredible host is that she's a globetrotter herself - and who knows better what a lone traveler needs? And on top of all of that, it turned out that Sylvie was a knitter, too. Needless to say, we wound up friends and have kept in touch.

    Sylvie lives in York now, and she recently started up her own hand-dyed yarn business, Phileas Yarns. I was ecstatic when she got in touch and asked me if I wanted to try it out. She dyes five different bases, all with names based on that wanderlust we so keenly feel: Wanderer, Wanderlust, Globetrotter, Escapism, and Explorer. I decided I wanted to try one of her British Blue Faced Leicester bases, either Wanderer aran or Wanderlust DK. Her BFL comes from Yorkshire, so it's local to Phileas as well, which I found very appealing. So Sylvie popped a skein of Wanderer aran into the post (along with a few extra treats - thank you, Sylvie!) and I was so excited to receive it I got it wound and ready to knit right away.

    I don't usually go for reds, but this one I couldn't resist. It positively glows! The colorway is St Expedit, named for Expeditus, the Christian martyr who has a significant folk following on Réunion, an island off the coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. Altars to St. Expedit on Réunion are always painted bright red. (Browsing the listings for the different Phileas colorways is like a history and geography lesson in one, I swear.)

    I wanted to knit something simple that would show off the subtle variegation of the semi-solid rather than compete with it, and since we live in the Arctic and my husband Chris didn't have a pair of hand knit mittens to his name (the cobbler's children have no shoes, as they say), I decided to use the yarn for a pair of Arched Gusset Mittens. It's a beautifully elegant and simple pattern, but the arched gusset makes it a bit more interesting than a traditional plain mitten.

    The end result is a beautiful and practical pair of mittens. I worked the cuff in a 2x1 rib, because I thought the rolled edge might be a bit annoying when it comes to staying tucked into coat sleeves, but otherwise made no modifications. These have been getting regular use every since they were finished! And though we do live in the Arctic, Tromsø actually has a sub-Arctic climate thanks to the gulf stream, so the BFL wool is completely appropriate for our +1/-1ºC temperatures at this time of year. BFL is truly one of my favorite fibers. When I asked Chris to describe it he said it was very comfortable to wear and "soft but not too soft," and pointed out how overly soft yarns can actually be distracting, particularly when it comes to workhorse knits like mittens. 

    Photographing reds is notoriously difficult, and made even more challenging by the low light at this time of year. The light tends to be very blue (especially in outdoor photos, as in the one above), but hopefully the photos still give you a sense of the beauty of this yarn.

    If you fancy trying out Phileas for yourself, head on over to the Phileas Yarns Etsy shop. Sylvie's currently offering free shipping on orders through December 21st; just use the code YARNTRAVELSFORFREE at checkout. You can also find Sylvie on Instagram, where you'll see a lot of photos of wool, but also travel photos and photos of her cat Miette. Thank you, Sylvie!

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  • aspen socks & legwarmers: the inspiration

    photo by Kathy Cadigan

    The days seem to be flying by at an alarming rate these days - I can't believe it's already mid-November. But the good news is that means last weekend Tolt Yarn and Wool celebrated their second anniversary with a big party! (A party, I should mention, that I was very sad not to be attending.) In conjunction with the anniversary, Tolt's new book Farm to Needle: Stories of Wool was finally released! Excited cheers all around! As I mentioned earlier this fall, I had the great honor of designing a pattern for this special book alongside some really talented folks, who can be seen in this fantastic photo taken by Anna's husband Greg (if you look closely, you may also spot my face in 2D, thanks to the creative genius of Anna and Lara). This was an incredibly interesting project to work on - they usually are, when Anna's involved - and so I thought it'd be nice to write a little bit about the process of designing my pattern, Aspen.

    When Anna approached me this spring about the book, she asked if I'd be interested in designing a pair of cozy over-the-knee socks (with a legwarmer option) in Tolt's own Snoqualmie Valley Yarn. One of the best things about working with the Tolt team is that Anna often already has a great idea to start with, and instead of building something from scratch, I get to build off of her idea and her vision. I love Tolt and I'd been wanting to work with Snoqualmie Valley Yarn since it had first been released, so saying yes was a no brainer (even though I had an international move on the near horizon). Once I had the yarn in hand, however - all five skeins of it - I realized that I'd signed myself up for a challenge.

    Anna sent over a few mood boards after I'd signed on: one to give a feel for the book as a whole, and one specifically filled with inspiration for my pattern assignment. It was full of beautiful pictures of all kinds of socks and legwarmers, most of which were textured in some way with cables or lace, all in neutral colors. It was beautiful, and I was excited to get working, but... colorwork is my muse. And here I was, with five skeins of undyed creamy white yarn, wondering where on earth to start.

    From the beginning the pattern was going to be written for one size. Because of this, I really wanted to keep things simple, initially. I wanted to. But once I started swatching, I realized my muse had other plans. I did more swatching for this design than I've done for any other pattern I've done, I think. I swatched all sorts of stitch patterns and combinations. I swatched cables - at the beginning I was so sure this design would have cables. The whole process got hung up for a little while during the swatching phase. 

    In the midst of this phase, I realized that tall textured socks made of undyed wool reminded me of something very specific - bunad strømper. Strømper is the Norwegian word for stockings, and the bunad is the national folk costume (which varies from region to region). The men's bunad typically features knitted stockings tucked into a pair of breeches.

    Bunadstrømper from Vest Agder (image source: norskflid.no)

    Bunadstrømper from Gauldal in Sør-Trøndelag (image source: norskflid.no)

    While they're not always this off-white color (the stockings for my region are black and white), many of them are, and as I started swatching I couldn't help but think about bunad stockings (which also bear a notable resemblance to Scottish kilt hose, right down to the sock bands tucked into the breeches). I enjoyed perusing this pamphlet from yarnmaker Raumagarn:

    Bunad Strømper og Luer ("Bunad stockings and caps")

    Even before I started filling my brain with Norwegian stockings, the motif I kept coming back to was one of the first I swatched: the eight-pointed star that features on the front of the Aspen pattern.

    photo by Kathy Cadigan

    Given my proclivity for colorwork, it's really not shocking that this is the motif I kept returning to. Using this as the main motif would mean the whole pattern got a little more complicated than I initially planned on, but in the end I realized it was going to be this motif or it was going to be a pattern I wasn't actually that stoked on. So I gave in. And I'm so glad I did!

    After I decided to start with this motif, I was able to choose a secondary motif to wrap around the back of the leg on either side, working in a calf gusset at the very back of the leg where the two secondary motifs met. Knowing that this pattern would only be one size, I designed it with modifications in mind, and I'm putting together a post that will give an overview of some of the ways you can modify the pattern if you find that you need to make changes. Look for that soon!

    photo by Kathy Cadigan

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  • farm to needle: stories of wool

    If you’re familiar with Tolt Yarn and Wool in Carnation, Washington, you can probably imagine how I felt when I received an email from Anna Dianich earlier this year … there was a book project she was putting together, and would I like to be involved? It was a no brainer, of course - YES, I said, even though I knew I had an international move on the horizon and a pretty packed to-do list. Some things are easy to make time for.

    Anna described her idea for the book - a focus on yarns with that could be traced to the source, made from American grown wool, spun and dyed at American mills, often coming from single flocks. I’ve come to know some of these yarns through visits to Tolt and I’m so excited for the stories of who makes them to be shared in book form. I think many knitters have become increasingly interested in yarns from smaller producers over the last several years as they begin to ask where their fiber is actually coming from, a trend that parallels the farm-to-table trend in the food industry. When Tolt began producing their own Snoqualmie Valley Yarn (whose wool comes from a single flock of BFL/Clun Forest sheep), it was fitting that the labels said “farm to needle.” To me, this book project feels like such a natural extension of what Tolt does as a yarn store and as the core of a community. And appropriately the book itself, which will be released around Tolt’s second anniversary party on November 7, is titled Farm to Needle: Stories of Wool.

    Here’s a short blurb from farmtoneedlebook.com:

    "When we pick up our needles, cast on the first stitch, we become part of something much bigger than the project at hand. Farmers, shearers, spinners and dyers are working hard not only to produce the yarn we love, but to preserve a way of life that is at real risk of being lost. Farm to Needle: Stories of Wool invites you to join us on a journey; to peek behind the scenes of some of our favorite producers and gain a deeper understanding of the people, places, and animals at work. Discover Aspen Hollow Farm, Green Mountain Spinnery, Imperial Stock Ranch, Thirteen Mile Farm, YOTH, Saco River Dye House, and Twirl through patterns by Dianna Walla, Tif Fussell, Veronika Jobe, Ashley Yousling & Annie Rowden, Karen Templer, and Andrea Rangel. Photography by Kathleen Cadigan."

    I can’t tell you how thrilled and honored I am to be part of such a stellar lineup. We’re all looking forward to sharing more of the book with you in the near future - I’m quite proud of my pattern and I can’t wait for you to see it (it is, unsurprisingly, Norwegian-inspired, but that's all I'll tell you for now!). Farm to Needle: Stories of Wool is available to pre-order now at farmtoneedlebook.com and I hope some of you will be able to attend Tolt’s second anniversary party on November 7!

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • woolful podcast

    I'm SO excited to be the guest on this week's episode of the Woolful podcast! If you've never listened to the podcast before, it's absolutely wonderful (and you've got 22 back episodes before mine to listen to). The podcast is the creation of Ashley Yousling, who currently splits her time between a tech job in San Francisco and a beautiful ranch in Idaho. I can't say thank you enough to Ashley for having me on, because I love her podcast and what she brings to our fiber community in producing it. And huge thanks to Tolt Yarn and Wool for sponsoring this episode! 

    I've received so many wonderful comments and messages since the podcast went up and I'm a bit overwhelmed by the love, so thank you all! I was quite excited to see some of you mentioning that I'd piqued your interest in Norwegian sheep breeds, and you'll be happy to know that Norwegian-specific wool is something I'm hoping to explore more and write about here after I move to Tromsø this summer. I can't wait to share what I learn.

    Those of you who regularly follow the podcast know that with each episode comes a giveaway - and this week we're giving away a copy of Moon Sprites along with the Létt Lopi to knit it! Many of the comments on the podcast episode mentioned a desire to work on colorwork, and Moon Sprites is a great pattern for that whether you've done a lot of colorwork or not - with just seven rounds of simple colorwork, it's totally appropriate for a colorwork beginner! To enter the giveaway, all you need to do is leave a comment on the episode's blog post.

    Be sure to visit the Woolful website and listen to those back episodes if you haven't before! And be sure to check out Ashley's shop, Woolful Mercantile, while you're there.

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  • very shannon's tops, tanks, and tees KAL

    Today is the official start - cast-on day - of Shannon's annual Tops, Tanks, and Tees KAL. I learned about this KAL last year during the Vasalong, as many folks knitting a Vasa were including it in both KALs. I was pretty stoked to learn about the TTTKAL, as it's a ideal for spring heading into summer, and if I can swing it, I'd love to participate this year (though I'd better get going if I want to have something finished by the June 3rd deadline).

    I've got a solid garment's worth of Shibui Linen in my stash that I've been wanting to use for ages, but I haven't landed on the right pattern yet. I'll also admit that part of why it's been languishing in the stash for so long is that once I fell in love with Quince & Co. Sparrow, the Shibui Linen seemed less appealing (while they're both fingering weight and 100% linen, the Shibui is a chainette yarn, so it yields a more textured fabric than the Sparrow). Absolutely nothing against Shibui, who make wonderful yarn I enjoy knitting with - I just have a rather giant soft spot for Quince & Co. in general. Still, I'm determined to start knitting more from my sizeable yarn stash, so I'd love to use this yarn for the TTTKAL. I have three skeins of grey, and two of navy, so stripes seem like the best use of the yarn. Because of the way the Shibui knits up, the fabric has some texture already and textured stitches migth compete with it, so stockinette also seems like a good way to go. Here are some patterns I've been considering:

    Top row, from left:

    1. The duh-totally-easy way to go about things would be to knit yet another Vasa - I love my linen Vasa (in Sparrow) and it actually gets a lot more wear than my wool version, so another linen Vasa would be a bit of a no brainer. I know I'd wear it. But on the other hand, I've already knit two Vasas and I don't often knit garments more than once. I can feel myself itching to knit something different.

    2. Saco Stripes, by Pam Allen. I've loved this pattern ever since I first saw it, and part of me still really wants to knit it. But as far as knitting things that will actually become wardrobe staples, I'm not sure how it would do. My hips are wider than my shoulders, and tanks tend to emphasize that with the narrow shoulder width. A top that extends beyond my shoulders tends to make me look a little more balanced, which means I may only wear a tank like this if I've got something to wear over it. I love it, but this probably isn't the best choice for me right now.

    Bottom row, from left:

    3. A host of things from the new issue of Pom Pom Quarterly, that cover sweater Greco in particular. The summer issue of Pom Pom contains several patterns that would be perfect for this knitalong, and I was entertaining the idea of a Greco in plain stockinette - the lighter weight linen would lend the whole top an open, summery feeling, and the V-neck in back is a nice touch. The cropped length is cute, too, but again I'm not sure how regularly I would wear that. I suppose adding length would probably be fairly simple, though.

    4. Dubro, by Michiyo, for Quince & Co. I think I've settled on this one - the finished garment is something I would definitely reach for and wear a lot, I don't have anything like it in my wardrobe already, and Michiyo is one of my favorite designers. I love the use of blocks of stripes with a plain yoke - a little bit of a Breton sweater, but with a twist. Proportions are tricky to nail down with stripes, but I love the proportions of these! I might have to get a little creative with yarn here based on my yardage - the sleeves may need some modifications - but I think I can swing it.

    Are you taking part in the Tops, Tanks, and Tees KAL this year? I'd love to hear what patterns you're working up!

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  • mittens in may!

    Hello everyone! Just a quick post today to let you all know there are still a few spots available in my upcoming workshop at Tolt Yarn and Wool, Mittens in May. This is the traditional mittens workshop I taught at the Nordic Knitting Conference last fall, and I'm so excited to be teaching it again. The workshop will be May 3rd (that's a week from Sunday) from 11-4.

    We'll be talking about traditional mittens from the Nordic and Baltic countries, and you'll get to choose a mini-mitten to start working up in class to try out some of the techniques we'll be discussing. I've been working up new samples of the mini mittens in Rauma Finullgarn, a wonderful woolen-spun fingering weight yarn from Norwegian company Rauma:

    From left to right, the mittens are: Latvian (focusing on a seamless lined cuff), Estonian (with a vikkel braid), Norwegian (with a Norwegian thumb gusset), and Bohus (in the style of Bohus Stickning, from Bohuslän in Sweden, focusing on combining knits and purls in colorwork with more than two colors per round). 

    As you can see, all of the mini mittens involve stranded colorwork, so you should have some familiarity with colorwork and knitting small circumferences in the round to take the workshop. Other than that, there's a wide range of skill levels represented - the Norwegian and Estonian mittens each only use two colors, and you can elect to skip the braid on the Estonian mitten to keep things super simple if you wish. The Latvian mitten brings in a third color, but there's still never more than two colors per round which keeps the colorwork simple and manageable. It'd be a great stepping stone if you've never worked a third color into your colorwork. The six-color Bohus mitten is a beast, I'll admit, and routinely uses three colors per round in addition to switching between mitts and purls, but there's also a two-color chart included to keep things simple if you just want to give the knit/purl combo in colorwork a try. 

    All students will leave the workshop with a booklet containing information about these different traditions, and the mini mitten patterns are included, so you can work up the others later! You'll be able to apply the techniques for the mini mittens to full-sized ones down the line.

    You can stop by the store or give them a call at 425.333.4066 to reserve your spot! Check out the page about the class on the Tolt website for info about materials, etc. here. Tolt carries Rauma Finullgarn so it'll be easy to pick up supplies for the class there as well. This is a fun, choose-your-own-adventure kind of class I hope to see some of you there!

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  • the fringe hat-along

    Back in February, Karen of Fringe launched the Fringe Hatalong series, and I really enjoyed following everyone's progress with the first pattern she picked, the Audrey hat from Tolt. I didn't join in on that round, knowing that there would be more coming in the series, but I'm excited to say that I'm very much looking forward to hat number two.

    The pattern won't be revealed until Thursday the 16th, but there's some preliminary information posted over on Fringe, particularly regarding yarn selection. Hat number two is a pattern with an all-over textured stitch pattern, and it calls for a heavy worsted/aran weight yarn. I've been doing some stash diving, trying to see if I have anything appropriate, but I've also been down in Portland for the weekend and I couldn't resist popping into a new-to-me yarn store, Twisted, so... in the end, I picked up a beautiful skein of Quince & Co. Osprey in Glacier, pictured above. So much for knitting from the stash. Oops! Perhaps I'll have to knit more than one hat so I can actually knit through some stash yarn as well.

    I can't wait for the pattern reveal on Thursday, and to see how this Osprey knits up! Will you be joining in on this round of the hatalong?

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  • stash less & thoughtful crafting

    A month or two ago I discovered The Craft Sessions via the Woolful podcast, and it didn't take long once I'd wandered over to the website for me to add the blog to my blog reader. Felicia lives in Melbourne, Australia, and founded The Craft Sessions as a way to provide opportunities for craft and fiber retreats in the Australian craft community. I found myself reading backwards through the archives, and I definitely found myself drawn to a concept Felicia started writing about a few months ago: Stash Less. She also talked about Stash Less in the podcast, so here's a link to that episode if you haven't heard it.

    The Stash Less concept comes from a desire to be more thoughtful about what we make and why we craft. It's about intentional making. This quote from the post that introduced Stash Less really struck a chord with me:

    "'In the presence of good materials, hopes grow and possibilities multiply.' And I truly believe that is so so true. But I also think that there can be too much of a good thing. And that maybe that is where I am."

    I tend not to voice my own concerns with the materialism and consumption involved in the craft community too loudly - after all, I sell patterns, which also help to sell yarn, which helps local yarn stores and indie dyers and needle makers and all other sorts of folk in this beautiful web in a mutually beneficial way, and above all it helps encourage others to take up the needles and share this craft with more of the world. But it has not escaped my attention that the encouragement can go a little too far - we can become obsessed with this or that yarn, or dyer, or notions maker, and we can develop a fear of missing out that drives us to purchase things we don't need because we want them and we can probably find a way to use them later. 

    This isn't to say that I think having a stash of yarn or fabric is a bad idea. It's a totally good idea. Not only can it bring inspiration to be surrounded by beautiful materials, but you always have tools on hand when you want to try out something new. But I also believe that life is about balance, and after a period of acquiring a lot more yarn than I actually need, I'm starting to feel the other side of the stash more and more. It's making me want to slow down, pull back, and start to balance the scales. I know I'm not alone in this, but despite having a sizeable stash, I still tend to buy new yarn when I have a very specific project I want to make. This means that some of the stash yarn just sits there for years and years. Once yarn's been in your stash for nearly a decade, it's not likely to be super inspiring anymore, you know? 

    So Felicia's Stash Less concept really spoke to me. I don't feel the need to make it an actual challenge, like she has - or perhaps I'm just setting different parameters for myself - but I have noticed a change in the way I'm thinking about my projects, particularly after I wrote about wanting to take it easier this year. I'm definitely still thinking about the perfect slouchy cardigan I'd like to knit, among several other things I'd love to cast on for, but some time in the last few weeks I decided to make a real effort to finish all my current WIPs before beginning any new purely personal projects. Having 12 WIPs going at once stresses me out, so what's fun about that? I've managed to work my way down to five active personal WIPs since the new year (excluding my Beekeeper's Quilt, which is a leftovers-eater and will likely be going on for quite awhile), and you know what? That feels really amazing. Really amazing.

    I don't know that I'll ever be a totally monogamous knitter again. I'm not sure I can do just one project at a time; I've written before about the balance between having a complex project and a simple project going at the same time, and how it's nice to be able to pick up whichever I'm feeling up for that day. But it does feel extremely good to be working through half-finished projects that have been on the needles for ages, neglected as I distractedly run from one thing to the other, starting new projects with reckless abandon. I thought I'd share one of those projects here on the blog today since it's been a little quiet lately!

    This is the Splitta Genser, or Slitted Sweater, a pattern from the Pickles team (Pickles is a yarn brand/store in Oslo). I fell in love with the pattern right away when I first saw it on the Pickles blog, even though the sample is a vivid Pepto-Bismol-pink (I don't tend to go for pink). I saw potential, and I saw how the silhouette would fill a hole in my handknit wardrobe - namely that I don't have a lot of knits to wear with high-waisted skirts or dresses. I'm thrilled that the final result is exactly the sweater I had in mind when I cast on. Here's a peek at the back:

    The overlapping panels is the detail that really sold me on such a simple knit. I think it's a lovely feature and a little unexpected if you've only seen the sweater from the front. You can read my project notes and details over on Ravelry, and the pattern is available in both Norwegian and English.

    I started this sweater in April of last year, so it's a relief and a joy to finally have it finished, and I'm so happy it fits into my wardrobe in a way that nothing else I've made really does. It's quite in line with the Stash Less philosophy I've been swept up in, so I feel like it's helping me get off to a good start. I've been reorganizing the Paper Tiger studio again, trying to optimize the space to improve my focus and workflow, and I'm working on getting the whole yarn stash more or less into one place, where most of it is visible (see also: episode 11 of knit.fm, "Stash Control"). My hope is that this will help my shift in thinking, and prompt me to think about what I could be making with what I have on hand (and where that overlaps with what my own garment and accessory needs). 

    I'd love to hear about your own efforts at stash control or project planning. How do you keep things from getting out of hand?

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  • swedish pancakes (pom pom spring 2015)

    The preview of the spring 2015 issue of Pom Pom Magazine went up today, and I'm thrilled to have a design in this issue! When the call for submissions was first posted, I have to admit I got pretty excited. "Clean lines and shapes and Scandinavian minimalism" were the key words, so I was all over it. I had time to put a couple of submissions together, and fortunately one of them made it in! Here's Swedish Pancakes:

    I'm so happy with how these sweet little mitts turned out. One of my favorite things about working with third parties like Pom Pom or Brooklyn Tweed is that they often push me to work outside my comfort zone with colors (leave it to me and I'll work with blue, grey, and green forever). My swatch for this stitch pattern was worked in white and blue, which is very typical for me, but I think the subtle pink and warm silver are a beautiful combination and I love the effect of the softened colorwork.

    To explain the name of the mitts, we have to turn to the pattern motif. I've wanted to work with this colorwork stitch pattern for quite awhile - it's very directly inspired by the exterior of a building here in Seattle: the Swedish Club. It's a box of a mid century building which was completed in 1961 (around the same time the Space Needle was nearing completion, the year before the Seattle World's Fair in 1962), and situated on the west side of Lake Union with a beautiful view of the lake and city. I first encountered the club when a friend suggested we try out their Swedish pancake breakfast back in 2010. Once there, we learned that the pancake breakfast is a monthly event that brings a thousand people through the doors in the space of a few hours, complete with folk bands and people of all ages, and it's bucketloads of fun. I joined the club that very day. My relationship with the club goes beyond pancake breakfast, though - it's also a pretty special building to me because it's where I got married. If you're in Seattle, I highly encourage you to check out the rather large calendar of events and find an excuse to go to the club. (Seriously - weekly happy hour, fiber arts open studio time, and dinners, movies, Swedish classes, car shows... there's a lot to choose from.)

    The south and east walls of the building feature an exterior layer of metal latticework in a geometric design of overlapping circles. It's one of my favorite things about the building and I'm so happy to finally feature it in a colorwork pattern.

    (photo borrowed from the inimitable Jenny Jimenez)

    You can check out more views of the building on Flickr.

    I also thought it would be fun to share a bit of memoribilia from the club. My husband Chris and I picked up this plate at one of their antiques & great finds sales:

    It's hard to make out in this photo, but I love that the plate features the original signage on the front of the building over the doors.

    We also have a handful of these vintage swizzle sticks, which were handed down by Chris's grandmother:

    Pretty swanky.

    Thanks for indulging my love of this Seattle institution, and I hope you'll feel inspired to check out the spring issue of Pom Pom! It's available for pre-order now from the Pom Pom website, and you can check out the rest of the patterns on Ravelry. (I especially love Joji's hat Vitsippa and the adorable Elske socks by Merrian Holland.)

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  • tolt & fringe: an anniversary, a party

    This time last week, Tolt Yarn and Wool was busy preparing for it's one-year anniversary weekend! Since I was in Portland on Saturday, I couldn't be at the actual party, but I did make it out for Thursday night's stitch circle, which featured a Q&A with Fringe Association's Karen Templer (who was in town shooting the Fringe holiday catalog with Kathy Cadigan, but more on that in a moment). Since Tolt is in Carnation, and depending on traffic, anywhere from a 45- to 90-minute drive from my neighborhood in Seattle, I don't make it over very often. This meant it was my first time at the Thursday evening stitch circle, but from what I gather, we were a much larger group than normal! Karen fielded questions and talked about her business for near on an hour and a half (she's a champ!), while we all merrily knit and stitched as we listened. Kathy grabbed a great photo, seen above. Gudrun was also in town for the weekend, doing a book signing on Saturday for the shiny new Shetland Trader Book 2 (which is gorgeous), giving a talk, and teaching a class on Shetland lace.

    Kathy also grabbed a photo of the shop on Saturday (above), during the proper anniversary celebration, and it looks like it was a madhouse. Congratulations on one year, Tolt! Anna has done such an amazing job with her store, creating not just a beautiful and inspiring space, but also a community around it. I'm so incredibly grateful to be a part of it. And I also can't wait to get my hands on some of Tolt's new Snoqualmie Valley Yarn - you can read about it on the Tolt blog here.

    Going back to Fringe for a minute, I mentioned that Karen was in town to shoot the Fringe holiday catalog with Kathy. It went up today, and man, it is gorgeous. I'm particularly obsessed with the old fiber mill spindles (and I may have already ordered a few; hoping to spice up the yarn storage situation at Paper Tiger HQ) but everything is beautiful and the brand new Fringe Supply Project Bag looks like a dream. You can view the clickable catalog below, or (in case the embedded version isn't showing up) view it on the Issuu website here.

    It's a joy to have friends who make such beautiful things happen. And one last thing! I've cast on for the Hearth Slipper KAL, jointly run by Tolt and Fancy Tiger. I'm trying out some new colors and I'm really enjoying the wintry feel (think ice caves / glaciers / snow at night). Check out all the photos tagged with #hearthslipperKAL right here.

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  • knit fit!

    The second weekend in November was this year's Knit Fit! While I didn't have a market booth this year, I did end up attending both Friday (opening night) and Saturday. It was quite a lot of fun to simply go as a student and not be working for the weekend!

    For those who don't know, Knit Fit is a local knit & crochet event here in Seattle, held in November. I think this was the third year, so it's still a new-ish event, but it gets better every year and I'm so proud of the organizers for the weekend they put together. The weekend is made up of an opening night talk on Friday evening followed by two days of wonderful classes on Saturday and Sunday. There's also a marketplace full of fantastic independent vendors that runs both Saturday and Sunday, and this year's was bigger and better than ever.

    I specifically wanted to mention the opening night talk this year - given by Elizabeth Wayland Barber, linguist, anthropologist, and textile expert (I swooned a little bit the first time I read that). You may have heard of some of her works, such as Prehistoric Textiles, THE book on prehistoric textiles, or Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years. I had heard of these works, but never read them, and I'm currently about two thirds of the way through Women's Work (which is fantastic, for the record). I was very excited to hear her speak and despite a few technical hiccups, I still really enjoyed her wonderful talk. If you ever get a chance to go see her speak, you should do it! Barber is one of the people credited with bringing this type of textile-related anthropological work to the forefront, and focusing on women's roles in ancient societies (due to the nature of textiles, they tend to decompose, so the physical remnants of that section of society is harder to trace and was thus largely ignored by early archeology).

    From left to right: YOTH Big Sister in Blueberry and Olive, Farm Girl Products BFL/alpaca, Three Fates Yarns Superwash Worsted in Commuter

    On Saturday I took a crochet class with Shibaguyz, which was a lot of fun and I learned quite a bit. A visit to the market took me to the booths of many of my favorite yarnies, including Spincycle and Jorstad Creek, and I picked up some new-to-me yarns as well from both YOTH and Farm Girl Products. The YOTH booth was incredible! But the beautiful grey BFL/alpaca blend I picked up from Farm Girl might be what I'm most excited about.

    I also did Game Knitting for the first time. Game Knitting is the brainchild of Lee Meredith and the easiest way to explain it is to say that it's kind of like a drinking game, but with knitting, not drinking. You queue up a film or TV show with a list of suitable cues on hand, as if you were going to play a drinking game. You pick an item to knit during the game (something simple, like a hat, a cowl, a scarf, etc) and you pick a variation - that is, a characteristic that you change whenever you reach a cue in the film/show. In the simplest version, you switch from knit stitch to purl stitch or from purl to knit whenever you reach a cue, so your knitted item would be made up of a random pattern of knit lines and purl lines. It's a really fantastic concept, and the sky's truly the limit. For Game Fitting at Knit Fit, they like to show a Seattle-related movie, and this year's was Ten Things I Hate About You, which I hadn't seen in ages, so it was a lot of fun.

    Because I am a crazy person, I decided I would work all knit stitches, but I would change colors every time we hit a cue. Many of the stretches of knitting between cues were really too long for stranding (and I knew going in that they would be), so that basically meant that rather than stranding, I just had a literal rat's nest of ends to weave in after the fact. Fortunately, I like weaving in ends, so it worked out. I used Heirloom Romney and managed to get most of the hat knit during the movie, and then finished it off later on with a big stretch of red followed by a stretch of the undyed off-white (which isn't really visible in this photo). In the spirit of Game Knitting, there's no shaping on the hat; instead, I did a 3-needle bind off and stitched the two corners together, topping it all off with a jaunty pom pom. I'm excited that Game Knitting yielded a hat that is super wearable and absolutely unique!

    On top of all of that, one of the most fun things about events like this is getting to hang out with so many fiber industry folks all at once - since for so many of us, especially designers, so much of our work is very solitary. Aside from the aforementioned yarnies, it was fun to see Kathy Cadigan, Andi Satterlund, Andrea Rangel (who was down from Canada to teach), Lee Meredith (up from Portland), and others.

    If you're interested in learning more about Knit Fit, you should head to the website and read up! And perhaps put it on the calendar for next year - it's usually the first or second weekend in November, but keep an eye on the website for exact dates. And congrats to the Knit Fit crew on another wonderful year!

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  • nordic knitting conference 2014

    I have a little announcement to make today. It's a rather exciting announcement, actually! There's an event coming up in October that I'm really looking forward to...if you know me well (or if you read the title of this post), you might already know what it is!

    I'm teaching at this year's Nordic Knitting Conference! Do you like Nordic knitting? Like the lace and mittens of the Baltics? Fancy some fair isle? Then it's time to start thinking about coming to Seattle this fall. I'll be teaching along with some pretty fantastic folks, I must admit. That's reason enough to knit a pair of announcement mitts and take silly photos, don't you think? This year's conference takes place October 3-5. You can find the class schedule and more details at the Nordic Heritage Museum website right here.

    Arne & Carlos are the headliners this year, and it's possible I squealed a little bit when I found out. You might've seen their book on knitted Christmas balls, or their Space Invaders Mariusgenser. These guys are masters at putting a new twist on old techniques, which I love. As headliners, they'll be delivering the keynote speech on Saturday night, which is always worth attending.

    Also on the teacher's bill are Swedish-born technique master Susanna Hansson, handspinner extroadinaire Judith Mackenzie, all-things colorwork muse Mary Jane Mucklestone, the creative and talented yarn maven Cirilia Rose, and Laura Ricketts, an expert knitter who has lately focused her attention on Sámi knitting, which I find very, very exciting. It is an honor to be teaching alongside all of these folks; aside from my initial excited squealing when I heard about Arne & Carlos, as a colorwork lover I've been following Mary Jane's work for years, and Cirilia and I actually met and became friends at the last Nordic Knitting Conference in 2012 (and come to think of it, Laura was in our Latvian mittens class, too!).

    We'll be teaching a variety of classes over three days, the class schedule is here (subject to change at this point). You'll find classes on everything from introductory stranded knitting to spinning with Icelandic fleece, choosing colors for your colorwork, knitted braids, or even Lopapeysa-pimping. The only bummer about teaching myself is that I can't take any of the classes! If you're not a knitter or a spinner, there are also a few lectures you might be interested in attending. The conference is hosted every two years by the Nordic Heritage Museum, an organization right in my own backyard in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, and one of which I am a proud member. If you attend other knitting events like Vogue Knitting Live, Stitches, or Madrona, you'll find that the Nordic Knitting Conference is much smaller - as evident by the much smaller list of instructors - but a cozy, friendly, and absolutely worthwhile experience. There's an upside to specialization. Here's a quick run-down:

    - Classes take place over three days: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (this year that'll be the 3rd, 4th, and 5th of October)

    - Friday night features a Happy Hour event so that you can get to know other conference attendees; mix, mingle, and knit, of course!

    - Saturday evening is the keynote presentation, with dinner included. I've attended both times I've attended the conference and it's always a wonderful experience.

    - There's a marketplace, featuring a variety of great local vendors!

    - Registration opens June 2nd at 10:00 AM, so mark your calendar.

    If you're coming from out of town, the Hotel Ballard and the Ballard Inn (both on Ballard Avenue, about a 20-30 minute walk away from the museum but with easy bus access) are offering a 15% discount on rooms to conference attendees. Just ask for the Nordic Knitting Conference discount when reserving your room. If you'd rather not stay in a hotel, the Sunset Hill B&B is very close to the museum and would be a lovely place to stay. Other options could be found via airbnb.com, or if you want to try and room together with someone, you could try and coordinate lodging by posting in the Ravelry group for the 2014 conference.

    Feel free to shoot any questions you have about the conference my way as well - if I don't know the answer, I can direct you to the people who do. I hope to see some of you there! And for those of you who want to know about the mitts in the photos - I know you're out there - I'll be posting about those a little later on.

    --

    Tangentially related: if you're in Seattle, or the Seattle area, the Nordic Museum hosts a monthly Knit & Spin gathering. Typically it's the first Sunday of the month but you can check their Ravelry group to find out when it's happening. I haven't been for aaaages but I hope to make it back this year at some point!

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  • a vasalong!

    I have one more post to share on Reykjavik, but before I do, I wanted to get going on something I've been planning for this spring. As the weather's started to turn warmer (or not, depending on where you live), it's clear knitter's minds are turning to spring and summer! The biggest indication of this is that in the past month or two, my little striped Vasa tee has crept back up to being one of my top sellers! So, what does this mean?

    It's time for a Vasa knit-along! Or, as I've dubbed it (with Cirilia's help), a Vasalong!

    Whether you've never knit a garment or you have a closet full of handknit sweaters, this is a great time of year to embark on a tee like this. Depending on your fiber and color choice, this is an incredibly versatile little knit with lots of room for modifications. I'll be showcasing some of the existing modifications that knitters have made to their Vasa tees in the next Vasalong post, but for now, a little bit more about how the Vasalong will work:

    I like a KAL that's pretty open and fluid, without too many restrictive rules, but I know that it can be helpful for folks to have some guidelines. So, here's what I've got, with some follow-up questions below.

    GUIDELINES

    1. The official start date will be April 6th (today) and the official end date will be June 6th. To be eligible for prizes (yes, there will be prizes!), you'll need to complete your Vasa and tag it or share it (see below) by the end of the day on June 6th in your own time zone.

    2. To participate in the Vasalong, be sure to tag projects and posts with the tag #vasalong. I'll be checking this tag on Ravelry, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also post about your progress in the comments on this blog, or on the Paper Tiger Facebook page. There are plenty of ways to participate!

    3. If you complete your Vasa on or before June 6th, be sure to share it with the appropriate tags in one of the ways mentioned above so I'll see it! (If you share it here on the blog or on the Facebook page, there's not need to worry about tags.) This will enter you for the prize drawing.

    4. In honor of the vasalong, Vasa will be $1 off on Ravelry for the duration of the KAL. Get it while it's hot! The $1 discount is automatically applied at checkout.

    FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS

    1. I want to participate in the vasalong but I've already started a Vasa tee! Will I still be eligible for prizes? Yes! The start date is just a formality, so if you already have a Vasa on the needles you can still enter it as long as you finish by June 6th.

    2. I'd love to join in the vasalong but I'm not sure I can finish by June 6th. Can I still join the KAL? Yes! You may not be eligible for prizes, but it's totally okay to keep knitting past the end date. The more the merrier, we'd love to have everyone join in!

    3. What is this I hear about prizes? These aren't locked down yet, but there WILL be prizes! More on that in a future post. UPDATE: You can read about the prizes here!

    4. Do I have to knit the pattern to the letter, or can I make modifications? Please, make modifications! I love to see the creativity of knitters. Want to work it in the round instead of flat? Go for it! Want to change the stripe sequence? Awesome! Want to omit the stripes altogether and chart your own intarsia? Still counts! Adding sleeves? Totally! Just as long as you're using Vasa for the base, you're good to go.

    If you have any other questions, feel free to post them in the comments!

    Some of my fellow Nordic nerds may have already picked up on this, but Vasa's name comes from a famous Swedish warship. It's for this reason that I picked our end date, June 6th, as that's the National Day of Sweden! I'll be joining in and knitting my own Vasa tee for the vasalong, but I haven't picked out my yarn yet. My original uses Tosh Merino Light, but I think I'd love to try a lighter cotton or linen version this time. What yarn will you be using?

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  • a knitter's gift guide

    'Tis the season for gift guides, and if you're anything like me at this time of year, you'll find yourself realizing you've only checked a few people off your list and you have a whole bunch more to go. I thought I'd put together a few of my favorite things that would be perfect for gifts - whether you're a knitter giving gifts to someone else, a non-knitter shopping for a knitter, or a knitter shopping/knitting for another knitter! I've tried to cover all the bases.

    Last-minute knits

    No matter how busy you are, you definitely have time to knock out at least one of these in the next few weeks. 

    1. Toatie Hottie by Kate Davies, available as a kit (including hot water bottle!) here. (£15.99)

    2. Brig, a hat and scarf set, by Veronik Avery for Brooklyn Tweed. I'm pretty in love with the simple seaman's cap that's a part of this set. Definitely a quick knit! ($6.50)

    3. Earl Grey Mitts by Bristol Ivy. Quick, simple, beautiful, unisex. How can you beat that? ($2)

    4. Whichaway Mitts by Karen Templer, a free pattern. These genius little colorblocked mitts can be worn in either direction.

    5. The Tolt Mitts & Hat, by Andrea Rangel. Designed for the opening of Tolt Yarn and Wool in Carnation, Washington, either the hat or the mitts would be a perfect last-minute knit and a great introduction to colorwork. ($8)

    6. The appropriately-named Jul Hat, by Jenny Gordy ($6.50). 'Jul' sounds like 'yule' and it means Christmas in Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish. I love Jenny Gordy's simple knits and her styling is always impeccable.

    Project bags

    I tend to work on a lot of projects at the same time, so I'm of the opinion that you can never have too many project bags. My all-time favorite is my bag from The Fibre Company, but any of these would do well!

    1. Bento bags from Fringe Supply Co. ($16-$18)

    2. 'A Daily Dose of Fiber' designed by Vera Brosgol and available from Ravelry. They also stock this bag with the spelling 'Fibre' which you can find here. ($15) Update: it appears they only have the latter bags in stock (spelled 'fibre').

    3. Bags by The Fibre Company. Available in several places online, including here & here, or you can find a stockist near you here. (~$12)

    Magazines

    Subscriptions are available for a few of my favorites:

    1. Pom Pom Quarterly, filled with beautiful knit and (often) crochet patterns, with a focus on creative life in general. Wonderful recipes in the back of every issue. A subscription gets you four issues and is £37.

    2. Knitscene is perfect for any knitter, featuring a range of patterns in different styles, but none too complicated. Any knitter could confidently tackle a Knitscene pattern. I love these guys. A subscription gets you four issues and is $24.

    3. Extra Curricular isn't strictly a knitting magazine and you actually aren't likely to find any knitting patterns in this one at all, but they do always have some DIY project or another you can try out. This NZ-based magazine is one of my absolute favorites, and they're focused on creative folk of all sorts. A subscription gets you three issues and is $42 (NZ).

    Project Notebooks

    I might be a notebook hoarder, but like project bags, I really don't think you can ever have too many.

    Moleskine. Call me boring, but I have no interest in any of the busy new editions Moleskine keeps coming out with - I'm a devotee of the simplest, plainest, most elegant notebooks they carry. You can't beat a classic. Available here from the Moleskine website, where you can choose your size, paper type (plain/lined/graph), cover weight, and color, among other things. ($9.95-$20.95)

    In contrast to Moleskine, I love the special 'Colors' editions by Field Notes. Their most recent edition is pretty beautiful: Cold Horizon. These come in three-packs and they're pocket-sized. Good for almost anything. ($9.95 for a 3-pack)

    Knitter's Graph Paper Journal from Fringe Supply Co. How many times have I wished I had one of these on me? If you do any charting yourself, or you know someone who does, this is a perfect gift. The grid is laid out like a knitting chart, so the columns are wider than the rows are tall. Perfect for visualizing a colorwork design or working out the kinks of a new cable. ($12)

    Notecards

    Looking for the perfect card to go along with your package? Here are a few of my favorites:

    1. Set of 5 sweater notecards by Brooklyn Tweed ($25)

    2. 'Bummer' notecard by Knerd ($5)

    3. Notions notecards from Ravelry ($6)

    Are you knitting any gifts this holiday season?

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  • on home and community



    Many people have a lot of pride for their hometown or their home state - I grew up in North Carolina and even though I haven't lived there for several years, I still carry around a little replica of the state's silhouette on my keychain. It reminds me to think about home. But there's more than one meaning to that one word: home. There's the home you came from, and then there's the home you choose. The home you make for yourself. The friends you surround yourself with who, while they may not be your blood relatives, are like your family. Washington state is that home for me, and I've noticed that folks around here have a lot of Washington pride (myself included). Seattle is a city with a pretty sizable population of transplants; I know plenty of folks who uprooted their lives and moved out here to take a chance on Seattle. And we may not have grown up with Mariners baseball or the Kingdome or Fisher and West on the radio in the morning, but we love this city all the same.

    Last fall my friends Damien and Sarah were spending some time with me after they got home from tour. I'd started making my "hello" maps, and after Damien saw one and proclaimed "that's awesome!", he said, "You should make one that's Washington State and just says 'home.'" Friends, let this be evidence of Damien's genius.

    Now, remember when I was talking about the home you choose, and the friends that are you like your family? Damien and Sarah are that for me. Without going into all the boring details, they were there for me at a time when I needed them immensely, and I wanted to give them something meaningful for Christmas. I remembered Damien's Washington "home" suggestion and came up with two things: the sign and the sticker you see below:






    Damien put the sticker on his guitar. My friends immediately began asking for stickers and signs of their own. I only made nine signs, but I kept making stickers, and those are available via Luckyhorse Industries. As you can see at the top of this post, the graphic from the sign is now on T-shirts - the lyrics came from a song by our friends The Head and the Heart and they recently approached me about putting it on some shirts exclusively for their two upcoming Seattle shows. I was thrilled to oblige (and happily, Luckyhorse Industries also printed the shirts).

    My friend Abbey from local music blog Sound on the Sound loved the WA home stickers so much, she got the design tattooed on her arm:




    I have been trying to write this post for weeks now, and failing, because this feeling of home is so much bigger than just a few friends. There's a strong feeling of community in Seattle right now, which has been much discussed and written about (check out the March issue of City Arts Magazinefor some examples). I'm just grateful to be part of such an inspiring community and I can't wait to spend some time behind the merch table at the Head and the Heart's sold out Showbox gig tomorrow night, meeting people who love this community and this state just as much as we do.

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