blog

knitting
  • in the pipeline, august 2017

    I've just returned to Tromsø after about three weeks away, visiting friends and family in North America, but things aren't going to slow down any time soon; in the next three weeks we are packing up our place as we prepare to leave Norway by the end of the month (my degree is well and truly finished, and we're moving on to what's next for us... but more on that at a later date), followed by some travel for academic conferences, and then hopefully moving on to our new home and starting to get settled there. In the meantime, I'm daydreaming of garments.

    Tromsø's summer hasn't been much of a summer this year, as far as I can tell. Beyond a few spectacularly warm and beautiful days here and there, I think it's been largely wet and chilly. Spending time in North American summer for three weeks was a little bit of a shock - I think I managed to be in Seattle for the hottest week of the year there - and I'd forgotten how much really hot weather makes me positively pine for autumn. So, garments...

    I'm determined to get my Garland off the needles before I cast on any new garments (not to mention I'm still working on deadline knits, one of which is a sweater), but I'm on the second sleeve of Garland now and it feels like the end is near! So here's a glimpse at the next several garments I'm planning to cast on, all of which I already have the yarn for.

    First up is the Mount Pleasant tee by Megan Nodecker of Pip & Pin. I've been fairly obsessed with this tee since I first caught sight of it on Ravelry, when it was still in the testing stages. I've got two skeins of a special yarn set aside for this one: a merino singles base from Garnsurr, which is a small, new indie hand dying company here in Norway that's also a refugee integration project (you can read more about Garnsurr on their website in English - and if you're in the NYC, Do Ewe Knit in Westfield, NJ is stocking their yarns!). This is a project I'm so pleased to support, and this blue is going to be pretty gorgeous knit up. I think I'll probably cast on this one first once I've finished Garland. Incidentally, Megan has also started a video podcast on YouTube, so if you're into knitting podcasts, you should check it out!

    Next up is the Ingen Dikkedarer Genser, or the No Frills Sweater as it's known in English, by PetiteKnit (the pattern is available in Norwegian, English, Danish, and Swedish). This is a super simple fingering/sport weight sweater (one strand fingering held together with one strand lace mohair), and I found myself craving something just like this to wear during our lingering winter this year, especially around April/May. Warm and cozy, but lightweight and easy to wear. This one's exciting because I'm going to use the Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine that I frogged during last year's Slow Fashion October, and it's good to find a new purpose for that yarn. I'm planning to hold it together with Pickles Silk Mohair in a similar dark grey, which I picked up in Oslo in May. 

    Third up is a very special combination: Norah Gaughan's Circlet Shrug from issue 3 of Making, knit up in an unusual-for-me shade of Hillesvåg Tinde, their sport/DK pelsull yarn (swoon - pelsull is the same fiber my Dalur is knit in; this is just a different weight). Looking at my existing sweater shelf, my affinity for blue, green, and especially grey comes through loud and clear, so between my pink Garland and this deep golden yellow shade, 2017 is turning into the year of getting out of my color comfort zone. It felt a bit crazy to buy this yarn, and when I got home the first thing I did was photograph it against my face to make sure I hadn't made a huge mistake. And while this color still makes me feel like a slightly skittish cat when I look at the pile of skeins on their own, the photo helps me feel more confident in this decision. It's a color I always find myself drawn to in autumn, so I'm willing to try it out in my wardrobe. 

    This was another pattern I fell in love with immediately the first time I saw it (it's easy to obsess over those cables), and I hope this yarn will work out for it. The Tinde is a woolen-spun 2-ply in structure, so it's not going to have the same amazing stitch definition as Brooklyn Tweed Arbor (which the sample was knit in), and the natural heathering of the yarn runs the risk of obscuring the cables further (although that natural depth, caused by the undyed grey shade of the yarn, is one of my favorite things about Hillesvåg's pelsull yarns). So it'll require a big and proper swatch to make sure I'm happy with the fabric before I move forward with it. And if it doesn't work out, I'll be happy to use this yarn for something else - it's a yarn I won't really be able to get easily once we leave Norway, so I wanted to scoop it up before we go, as a kind of souvenir of my two years here. 

    --

    Are you thinking about fall yet, or does it feel too early to you? What kinds of things are you thinking of casting on in the near future?

    Comments
  • norwegian wool: selbu spinneri

    The Norwegian Wool series returns with another of Norway's microspinneries, the fantastic Selbu Spinneri. One of two micro mills in Norway, it's a small operation that's only been spinning since 2011 (I believe there are just the two, the other being Telespinn, but if you know of any others please do let me know!). If the name sounds familiar to you, the Selbu is the same one you find in Selbuvotter, or Selbu mittens, the name for the iconic black and white Norwegian mittens (you may be familiar with Terri Shea's book, or the more recent the gorgeous and massive book by Anne Bårdsgård still only available in Norewgian as far as I know). Selbu is located near the city of Trondheim, in the middle of Norway's north-south span. The yarn made by Selbu Spinneri is special and Norwegian specific, with a focus on rare and endangered breeds. I made my first purchase from Selbu Spinneri earlier this year, back in the winter, and I opted to try three different yarns made from three different sheep breeds, pictured above. All three are very different - different weights, different textures that handle differently, and different colors - but they're all undyed yarns. This package was definitely a treat to open.

    The creamy off-white skein with a thick and thin texture is their 2-ply yarn made from wool from the gammel norsk sau, the Old Norwegian sheep, also called villsau ("wild sheep") by some, though it is a domestic breed. It's rustic and lofty, with some darker hairs mixed in with the cream, and it was the first skein I cracked into. It's a primitive heritage breed, with an outer fleece and a finer inner coat, like other northern European heritage breeds, and this yarn is spun from both layers, making it both robust and soft. It seemed to be about an aran weight to me, and I worked it up into a Simple Hat by Hannah Fettig. A very, very cozy Simple Hat. The finished fabric gives you a good sense of the varying thickness of this yarn, but you also get a sense of the halo it has after it was blocked. The Simple Hat is such a fantastic blank canvas pattern to get a feel for any yarn, thanks to the fact that it's written for a huge range of yarn weights.


    The light grey yarn in the middle is a 2-ply yarn made from spælsau wool. It looks to be about a sport weight to me, and like all spælsau yarns it's pretty dense and wiry. It's smoother with more of a sheen than the other two yarns I purchased, and I have a pretty good sense of how this yarn will work up since I've worked with spælsau yarns before.

    I'm not sure I'll knit with this one, actually - I think it would make a sturdy crochet fabric and I'm tempted to try using it for a small crochet basket or something like that. It'd also be great and durable for weaving, but as I'm not much of a weaver, crochet seems most likely.

    The final skein, the lovely heathered dark grey one, is spun with wool from a breed I have yet to work with, the trøndersau, or Troender sheep.

    The region where Selbu is located is called Trøndelag, making this breed its eponymous sheep (trønder + sau). The trøndersau is extremely rare, with a very small number of animals existing. I'm really looking forward to trying this yarn, too - it's a 3-ply, both rounder and a little bit more uniform than the other two yarns, and I'd guess it's a DK or worsted weight. I love natural grey yarns and this is a beautiful one. It's more textured than the other two yarns, with less gloss and more of a matte look. I expect good depth and stitch definition, so I might use it for something cabled.

    Being a small operation with only a handful of employees, Selbu Spinneri's online shop is definitely aimed at a domesetic market, and their invoicing and shipping methods don't really lend themselves to international shipping, so I don't think you can get these yarns outside of Norway UPDATE: I've been in touch with Selbu Spinneri and they are happy to accommodate international orders - simply get in touch with them at post@selbuspinneri.no if you're interested and they'll help you figure it out. I do know, however, that hand-dyer Laila of Værbitt Garn uses some yarns from Selbu Spinneri as her bases, so you can always get in touch with her or check her Etsy shop to see if you can find any of Selbu Spinneri's rare breed yarns (in Laila's gorgeous colors!). 

    Previous posts in this series can be found here:

    Comments
  • oslo strikkefestival 2017: saltstraumen

    It's ended up being a busy summer and I'm a little behind on sharing new work, but I have an exciting pattern to share today! I was fortunate to be asked again this year to contribute a pattern to the magazine for the Oslo Knitting Festival, and I was so happy to say yes. This year I designed a hat called Saltstraumen, and it's a little bit of a love letter to northern Norway.

    Saltstraumen is a maelstrom located in the county of Nordland (and I actually got to visit it last fall during our road trip around Nordland, blogged here). It's a spectacular place with one of the strongest tidal currents in the world, where the water rushing through the bottleneck during the changing of tides creates whirlpools and white water dancing in circles. I adapted a cable motif from Norah Gaughan's excellent Knitted Cable Sourcebook to mimic the swirling of the water across this hat, which is knit in beautiful indigo-dyed yarn from Lofoten Wool. Lofoten Wool, as you may remember from my Norwegian Wool post on the company, is also located in Nordland, and water obviously plays a huge role in the lives of the people throughout the Lofoten archipelago. I love the deep connection between the motif inspired by water, the deep blue of the indigo dye, and the wool from Røst, one of the islands of Lofoten furthest from the mainland - it's not every day so many elemnts come together in a design like that.

    Saltstraumen is knit up in Lofoten Wool's Røst Collection 2-ply (look for "2 trådet" in their online shop) in the Brådjupt colorway. If substituting yarn, a woolen-spun sportweight would be ideal. The pattern is available in the Oslo Knitting Festival Magazine, alongside a pattern by Julie Knits In Paris (pictured above along with the Saltstraumen hat) and one by Anna Maltz. I believe the magazine is print-only, not digital, but if you have questions about that I'd suggest getting in touch with the festival organizers or perhaps asking in the new Ravelry group for the festival.

    As a side note, I'm planning to make my pattern for last year's magazine, the Rosenhoff mittens, available for individual purchase this fall. I'll be sure to let you know when they're available!

    Comments
  • FO: norwegian wool dalur

    I finally had a chance to get some photos of my finished Dalur this week. I mentioned in this post that I'd finished it, but that this post would have to wait until after my thesis was in - and here it is! This has been a really special project for me, so giving it a proper FO post feels important, and I want to share some of the details with you all.

    I'm pretty pleased with the photos I finally got of this sweater, which I took last night around 11 PM while I was out for my daily walk - and yes, you read that time right (thanks, midnight sun!). If you're sitting in summer-like temps as you read this, I apologize if the photos make you break out in a sweat, but I was actually more bundled up for the walk. I removed my jacket, scarf, hat, and fingerless gloves to take these photos, as it was about 3°C / 38°F when I was shooting. Nonetheless, I hope you like the photos too, and I hope they give you a sense of how this sweater fits seamlessly into my current landscape and northern climate.

    I first shared my plans for making this sweater back in March, at the beginning of Tolt Icelandic Wool Month. The grey yarn used in this sweater was originally slated for a different project last year, but it wasn't the right yarn or the right pattern for the recipient, really, so it went on the back burner until I could figure out what to do with it. While the pattern is Icelandic (from Knitting with Icelandic Wool), the yarn is not. I used all Norwegian wool for this particular sweater, and I can't sing its praises enough. The charcoal and the grey are both Hifa Blåne, whose fiber comes from the pelssau, or literally "fur sheep," a breed that resulted from crossing Gotland with the old Norwegian spælsau, both northern heritage breeds. I have mentioned in the past that Blåne reminds me a little bit of Álafoss Lopi, although it's not an exact match. Blåne is made up of two distinct plies, while the structure of Lopi more closely resembles a single ply yarn. Both yarns are "hairy," but I'd call Blåne better behaved, if that makes any sense - the hairy fibers are less unruly than they are with Lopi. In some of the closer shots you may be able to see the slight halo that results when Blåne is knitted into a fabric. 

    The grey used in the sweater is the natural undyed color of the Blåne, which doubles as the base for the dyed shades. This meant I needed a different yarn for my white contrast, and I opted for Hifa Troll, a bulky weight from the same company with the same structure as Blåne, but I believe Troll made from wool from the norsk kvit sau (the hybrid Norwegian white sheep, which is very common in Norway). I went for the bleached white because I wanted a high contrast between the different colors in the stranded sections.

    I wrote a little bit about making this sweater on Instagram when I first finished it. The pattern is a relatively straightforward bottom-up seamless circular yoked pullover. The biggest modification I made was that I added short rows to the back of the sweater before beginning the yoke for a better fit around the neck (there are no short rows in the pattern as written). I also added length to the body and the sleeves, although I went a bit overboard with the body, because I underestimated my yoke depth (I deliberately used a slightly larger gauge because I liked the feel of the finished fabric). My quick fix was to take scissors to my fully finished and blocked sweater - I cut the body apart at a point where I had joined a new ball of yarn, frogged about 2" of length, put top and bottom halves of the body back on needles, and then grafted it back together using Kitchener stitch. Full disclosure: I honestly really enjoy Kitchener stitch, so this process was a no brainer to get the finished length I wanted. I'm really happy with the length of the body now, but I kept the extra-long sleeves. (I'm six feet tall and wear a small or medium on top, so ready-to-wear sleeves are never, ever long enough for me. These super long ones are like a special luxury.) The final modification I made was to do a tubular cast on for the body and sleeves, and a tubular bind off at the neck. 

    A heads up to any of you who may want to make Dalur for yourself: some (though not all) of the colorwork rounds involve carrying three yarns at once, so I wouldn't recommend it to total newbies of colorwork. If you struggle to work with more than two yarns at once in colorwork, you may find a stranding guide like this one a useful tool to help keep your yarns separated.

    I'm SO pleased with how this yoke turned out, and so happy to finally share it with you all. It's gotten a lot of wear in the past month and I think I'll probably be able to continue wearing it in the evenings through the summer. If you're interested in more details (like the exact amounts of yarn I used), you can find my Ravelry project page for Dalur here.

    Comments
  • queue check: may 2017

    I continue to be a fan of Karen Templer's Queue Check posts over at Fringe Association as a way to keep track of knitting projects and to prioritize upcoming projects, and it's been a little while since my last check-in on that front. I sent off a version of my thesis draft to my supervisor today - and while it still needs a lot more work in the next two weeks, I thought I'd take the evening off and do a little queue check of my own!

    Starting with the projects mentioned in my previous queue check post from February: both pairs of socks mentioned in that post are off the needles and I've been wearing them constantly (they're pictured above). I ended up working on them at the same time, and that seems to have started me on a trend of working one patterned pair and one plain pair of socks at the same time, which I'm really enjoying. Socks are definitely continuing to be soothing knits in a stressful time. I've finished a third pair since that post, which I haven't mentioned on this blog yet, but I'm going to save all of that for another day for what will probably be a blog post dedicated solely to socks.

    I have two new pairs on the needles at the moment. The plain pair above is Lumineux by Ysolda Teague, which I've wanted to knit since it came out in last fall's Knitworthy collection, because it looks like the coolest afterthought heel of all time. I'm knitting the vanilla sock version, not the textured one shown in the pattern photos, because the heel construction is the main thing I'm interested and I love the speckled yarn in plain stockinette. I'm using the We Love Knitting yarn from sweet Claire that I got at last year's Oslo Strikkefestival, and it feels great to cast on with it after it's been waiting on the shelf for a few months. I'm using the speckled blue and white as my main color (and I believe the colorway is called Icicle, which feels super apt because it makes me think of nothing so much as Elsa from Frozen) and the lovely tonal grey for my contrast heels and toes. On the bottom, the patterned pair of socks I'm working on is super special: Aimée of La Bien Aimée in Paris has a brand new colorway called Everything is Awesome, named after the song that Tegan and Sara did for the Lego movie, and it's a silvery grey base with vibrant rainbow speckles. I love Tegan and Sara and this yarn has got to be one of the coolest things I've ever worked with - it is so much *fun*. My skein is on Aimée's Merino Twist Sock base and I didn't want to knit just vanilla socks with it, so I'm working up a pair of Speckled Space Socks by Amanda Stephens, which are proving to be really enjoyable. But enough about socks for now!

    Moving on to garments, I've finished my Norwegian wool Dalur (pictured at left), which I started in March for Tolt Icelandic Wool Month (and I blogged about my initial plans for it here). I'm planning a full FO post with proper photos for this one once my thesis is turned in, because I love this sweater and I love Norwegian wool and I want to give myself space to say everything I want to say. For now, just know that I'm super happy with how it came out and I look forward to sharing it with you properly. I do still have a greyscale garment on the needles, however - last month I finally cast on for my Bruntsfield vest (pictured right), another Ysolda pattern. I first swatched for it nearly a year ago last May, around the same time I swatched for my Sandneskofte, and I am absolutely loving how it's working up - the colorwork has proven very addicting, even with the frequent color changes and spit splicing of yarn. I'm nearly through the main part of the body and will be adding steeks for the armholes and the V-neck soon. This one also happens to be Norwegian wool (Rauma Finullgarn) so even though it's a very different garment, it feels like a cousin to my Dalur somehow.

    I'm wanting to clear my needles of old WIPs as well, so I recently picked up a project I started last year which has been hibernating for months and months: my Loess wrap (pattern by Christine de Castelbajac for Brooklyn Tweed), which I'm calling Sommarøya after a nearby island with beautiful turquoise waters whose name means "summer island." This one's a laceweight project, although it actually moves fairly quickly on US 5 / 3.75mm needles, so it feels like I could finish it this summer. I'm knitting it in a merino silk hand dyed yarn, Soft Like Kittens Nestling Lace, which is super beautiful. Annette of Soft Like Kittens stopped dying regularly a few years ago so I'm so pleased to have gotten one of the lace weight yarns she did (of which there weren't all that many, I believe). The colorway is called Pool Tile, which only adds to the summer vibe of this project, and I'm really enjoying it. It's going to be a lovely lightweight summer scarf when it's finished.

    I have some upcoming projects on the brain as well. I'm planning a Zara tee in Quince & Co. Sparrow with one of the new marled shades, Mineral (I seriously adore these new Quince & Co. marls, you guys), and I'm planning to use the luxe Blue Sky Fibers Metalico in Platinum as my contrasting color. While that one will absolutely continue the greyscale garments trend I have going so far this year, the other planned project definitely bucks that trend and even gets me out of my usual color comfort zone entirely - I'm planning a Garland by Stefanie Pollmeier from Pom Pom issue 7 with some super gorgeous yak lace from welthase, which is a luxurious lace weight merino/silk/yak blend. I'll be using the colorway Rosen, which is a subtle dusty pink that positively glows. Something about the spring months puts pink on my mind, even if it's still too early for any kind of blossoms in Tromsø. This one will be my project for the Pomfest KAL, the knitalong taking place in conjunction with Pom Pom Quarterly's fifth anniversary celebrations - but more on that later!

    Once I've laid it all out like that, it seems like an awful lot of knitting. But for various reasons we don't really need to go into here, I've been seeking out comfort constantly lately, and for me that's meant an hour or two of knitting before bed every night while listening to Harry Potter audiobooks. I can think of worse things, can't you? 

    Comments
  • leif cowl

    I actually have a new pattern to share with you today! I am beyond thrilled to be part of the newest volume of the Mason Dixon Knitting Field Guide series. The newest book is volume 3, with the theme WILD YARNS - and my pattern is a sweet little cowl called Leif. I wanted to tell you a little bit about it, but I also wanted to rave about the process of working with MDK, so a full blog post felt warranted!

    If you're unfamiliar with Mason Dixon Knitting, the website was originally started as a daily-letter-style blog by Ann Shayne and Kay Gardiner, writing back and forth to each other about knitting from Nashville and New York, respectively (hence the name). They published two books which are the stuff of early 2000s knitting legend (at least in my mind - see Mason Dixon Knitting and Mason Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines), and they gave their website a total overhaul last year, turning into a source of daily inspiration for crafty folk. Basically, check it out if you haven't!

    As I mentioned before, the theme of Field Guide volume 3 is wild yarns, and while you may not think of me when you hear those two words together (I currently have not one but two entirely greyscale stranded colorwork garments on the needles, you guys), when Ann got in touch and asked if I was interested in doing a pattern for the next Field Guide using Spincycle Yarns, it was one of the easiest "yes" decisions I've ever made. I know Rachel and Kate of Spincycle, who are both awesome ladies and really talented spinners. For the first eight years of the company, all of their yarns were handspun by them - today, to meet demand, they make use of a local micro-mill that allows them to produce more yarn but maintain the feel and the spirit of the handspun product they started with. Their yarns are beautiful and I've been happy to work with them before (in fact, there are a few other designs in the pipeline that use Spincycle yarns!). 

    Ann said that she and Kay were interested in a colorwork cowl, and I was really happy to sketch up my ideas and send them their way. I have to say that the process designing this cowl was much closer to collaboration than anything else I've done - the final design varies in some significant ways from the original sketch and charts, and a lot of that was the result of working together with Ann to find a way to marry both of our visions in a pleasing and cohesive way (as well as some practical requirements, like putting a cap on the number of skeins of yarn the pattern could use). Every step of the process was a pleasure, from brainstorming with Ann to find the best ways to revise charts or construction techniques, to bouncing photos of swatches back and forth as we determined the best way to use two different colorways of Spincycle's Dyed in the Wool together. Combining two colorways with long color shifts while also maintaining enough contrast between them to see the pattern was a unique challenge, but I'm so pleased with where we ended up! And a huge special shout-out goes out to the MDK Field Guide editor Melanie Falick, who selected the final colorways that were used for the samples.

    The cowl does come into size options: one long enough to loop twice around the neck (as in the photo below) using four skeins total, and one that's just a single loop, which uses half as much yarn.

    If you plan to knit the Leif Cowl, I would recommend carefully considering your color choices if you plan to venture beyond the sample colorways. Spincycle's Dyed in the Wool features a lot of colorways that contain medium shades, which might look distinct when they're in hanks next to each other, but when knit up won't actually have enough contrast to show the pattern well. My number one tip in this case is to be sure to look at the colorways you're considering in greyscale, to get a sense of how much contrast they have between each other - going for a very light one and a very dark one will give you the sharpest result. I've taken a screenshot from the Spincycle website and pulled out the saturation in order to show you what I mean about many of the colorways being "medium shades":

    To compare, this was pulled from the Spincycle online shop, where you can view them in color (and the diversity of color may surprise you after looking at this black and white image).

    If you'd rather play it safe and use one of the sample colorways, I'm happy to say that Mason Dixon is carrying kits in their online shop! The kits are available here and they're for the yarn only, so the book must be purchased separately. The other two designs in this Field Guide volume are the Colorwash Scarf by Kirsten Kapur and the Easel Sweater by Sue McCain, and I'm so pleased to be sharing the pages of this book with them. The book is also available to order now, both as a paperback copy (with digital download included) or just as an ebook.

    Thank you again to Ann and Kay for being so wonderful to work with - and for wanting to work with me in the first place!

    Comments
  • april musings

    As the rest of Norway is getting ready for påskeferie (Easter holiday), stocking up on Solo and Kvikk Lunsj (orange soda and Kit Kats, basically) and preparing to head to their cabins for a cozy week of skiing/reading/knitting/beautiful time off, I am in the throes of my thesis writing, which will continue all through the Easter holiday. No time off for me. It'll be really sleepy around Tromsø, but maybe that's a good thing? As my thesis deadline has crept closer I'm spending more time inside, hunched over the computer, and I get out for fewer walks. Maybe the Easter holiday will be a good excuse to improve upon that situation. I could definitely use the fresh air.

    April in Tromsø means a constant cycle of melting snow, rain, and dips in the temperature that bring fresh snow again. Indecisive skies mean sun one minute, clouds and precipitation the next. But that indecision and constant change sounds like April in most places, doesn't it? (Even if in most places it involves more flowers.) I've been deeply envious of all the springy flower photos from back home I've been seeing on Instagram recently, but today I find I don't mind this indecisive Arctic "spring" weather. I suspect this is the result of eating well this week, cutting back on refined sugars (I have a horrible sweet tooth) and going for fresher foods. The longer days help, too. Today's sunrise was at 5:20 AM and sunset is at 8:10 PM - the midnight sun begins in just a month and a half. 

    In any case, for now I am living from day to day and keeping that thesis deadline in sight (it's May 15). It may be a little quieter around here while I work on finishing my thesis. I get in a little bit of knitting time in the evenings, but not more than that. But because it might be a little quiet around here in the coming weeks, I thought I'd share my current progress on the projects I'll be working on during that precious evening knitting time. 

    First up, I'm knitting away on my Norwegian wool Dalur (blogged here), having finished both sleeves. After the colorwork section at the hem, the body is just stockinette in the round, so once I cast on for that I think it'll go quite quickly at this large gauge. But I've been waiting for a weekend day when I can dedicate several hours to getting the body started, because I'll work a tubular cast on which takes some attention (and in that charcoal yarn, probably also some good daylight). Apparently I haven't taken a new photo since I finished the sleeves, but this still gives you an idea of what a gorgeous sweater this is going to be. I'm really looking forward to working the yoke once the body is finished. And I am loving, absolutely loving, knitting up a sweater out of the Hillesvåg Blåne. This yarn is really special.

    I've also been working on both pairs of socks I mentioned in this post, and they have been every bit as soothing as I'd hoped they'd be in this busy and somewhat stressful time. I'm on the second sock of both pairs (Siv is a little further along than Fika at the moment, but I've been dividing my time between them pretty evenly - they're both past the heel now).

    Above is the first of my Fika socks, which I'm knitting up in a BFL Tweed Sock base from Jorstad Creek. It's such a lovely springy green to be working with at this time of year, and I can't wait for them to be finished. I used the teeniest bit of Welthase Fingering Light in Hazel for the contrasting toe stripe.

    And my beautiful Siv socks. I wrote about this on Instagram, but the combination of this yarn on these needles is really doing it for me. It's such a pleasure to knit with. The yarn is the MCN sock base from Kat's Riverside Studio in the Storm colorway, and I love that I think about my trip to Montréal every time I pick these up to work on them. And I am going to love wearing these.

    I actually have more socks planned for my next project - I'm really looking forward to casting on a pair of socks with this super gorgeous yarn I picked up from Hannah of Palindrome Knits (I'm thinking By the Seine River might show off the colorway really nicely) and there's something super special coming in the mail from La Bien Aimée as well, but I'm definitely waiting until I finish at least one of these pairs before starting any more socks. With any luck it won't be long now, even with the long writing days.

    Comments
  • FO: sandneskofte

    I've been meaning to get around to this post for a long time, but I had to let go of my vision for a grand snow-related photoshoot to make it happen (in the midst of my master's thesis, that's really not realistic, even if I think this cardigan deserves a grand photoshoot). So I finally got some shots - just at home, by the window in my apartment - of my finished Sandneskofte. This was my last FO of 2016, finished just in time for Christmas, and I've been wearing it very regularly ever since then.

    I've mentioned it on this blog a few times - here, for example - but if you weren't following along in Instagram, I thought I'd share a few details. This pattern is from the Norwegian book 42 norske kofter (blogged here) and my version is heavily modified. First of all, it calls for fingering weight yarn but I substituted with a heavier yarn - Kate Davies's absolutely gorgeous Scottish wool, Buachaille, in the shades Islay and Haar. This is a fantatsic wooly wool, and I am so excited to make more things using this yarn in the future - serious kudos to Kate for spearheading the production of such a beautiful domestic British wool yarn (sourced in Scotland, spun and dyed in Yorkshire). 

    Like all traditional Norwegian kofter, this cardigan is knit in the round and then steeked to create the front opening and the armholes. The Buachaille did beautifully with the steeking (and no surprise there). For those who are interested in more construction details: the body and the arms are worked separately from the bottom up, and the sleeves are sewn into the armholes after the opening is made. The pattern is for a crew neck cardigan, but I opted for a V-neck, so I began decreases after reaching a certain point on the body. Stitches were bound off for the back neck, the front openings and the armholes were reinforced before being cut open (I used the crochet method, although a sewing machine is the typical tool used in Norway), and then the shoulders were seamed before the sleeves were sewn in. The stitches for the vertical button bands were put on hold after the bottom ribbing was finished, then when the rest of the cardigan was done, the stitches on hold were put back on the needles and the button bands were knit back and forth separate from the body before being sewn on. There was a lot of finishing work for this piece - right down to the eight buttons I sewed on the front.

    I originally intended to finish the steeked edges on the inside of the fabric with some decorative ribbon, but I never go around to it (for one thing, I never came up with a clever way to deal with the angle where the straight body bends to form the V-neck) and the unfinished edges have put up absolutely zero fuss, so I will most likely leave them as-is. In the photo above you can see the light grey yarn I used to work the crochet reinforcement where I'm folding it away from the fabric, but it normally sits flush (as it does in the bottom of the photo). The cut edges of the fabric haven't budged, and I probably wear this cardigan a couple of times a week. I can heartily endorse using Buachaille for steeked projects!

    Even though I would consider myself a fairly accomplished knitter, this project still managed to check several boxes on the list of firsts. This was my first allover stranded colorwork garment, my first time steeking a cardigan opening (I had steeked armholes, but never the front of a cardigan), and my first time knitting a vertical button band (and I was very grateful for Karen Templer's "How to seam a button band" post). Even though colorwork is my usual wheelhouse, it goes to show there's always room for building new skills.

    There are a few more photos of the details as well as several in-progress photos over on my Raverly project page, if you're interested. This cardigan isn't perfect, and there are things I would change if I were to knit it again, but I love this thing. The double thickness of the stranded fabric knit at a tight gauge means it's quite warm and it's been super useful all through the Norwegian winter, and I look forward to wearing it for years to come. 

    ETA: I should mention that Kate Davies will be at Edinburgh Yarn Festival this coming weekend, just in case you're lucky enough to be going and you want to check out the yarn in person for yourself!

    Comments
  • a twist on tolt icelandic wool month

    In my last post I mentioned that I have Iceland-related knitting plans lined up for this month, although they don't exactly fit the parameters of Tolt's Icelandic Wool Month. I wrote about how Skógafjall was the result of ruminating on the historical links and similar properties of Icelandic wool and some of the Norwegian wools - and I have continued to spend a great deal of time thinking about that. Ending up with a sweater in Icelandic wool with ties to the Norwegian landscape was a lot of fun - but I've found myself thinking about the inverse, too. What about a traditional Icelandic lopapeysa pattern that's knit up in a suitable Norwegian wool?

    Since the very first time I worked with Hillesvåg's Blåne - their bulky weight pelsull yarn - I have thought it would make a good substitute for the bulky Álafoss Lopi. So I'm going to put that idea to the test! Last year I purchased a sweater's worth of undyed grey Blåne to make a pullover for Chris, but after finishing both sleeves and most of the body, I finally admitted to myself that 1) the yarn was too heavy for the pattern I'd chosen, and 2) the yarn was totally the wrong yarn for him; I bought it because*I* liked it. So I've bought replacement yarn for his sweater and I've spent months trying to find the right match for all this beautiful grey Blåne, looking for the kind of pattern that makes me think, "Yes! That's totally it!" I think something about the approach of Icelandic Wool Month finally got the gears really turning.

    A couple of years ago just before the first Icelandic Wool Month, Anna from Tolt knit a Dalur in Álafoss Lopi for a trip to Iceland she was taking that March. I've been a little bit in love with Dalur ever since, and I realized a few weeks ago that if I bought the contrasting colors, I could finally have a plan for all that grey Blåne, and I'd get to see how good a substitute it really is for Álafoss Lopi. So I bought a few skeins of the dark charcoal grey color (which is sadly discontinued, so I'm happy I could still get it locally), and since Blåne's undyed color is the medium grey, I went with a different bulky yarn base for the white - Troll, which is still a 2-ply yarn spun by Hillesvåg and still Norwegian wool, even if it's a different breed, so I'm hoping it will be a good match in the colorwork sections.

    I'm planning to at least cast on for this sweater this month, although I don't expect to finish it by the end of March (I would like to prioritize Chris's sweater!). As you can see in the photo at the top of this post, I still need to frog the pieces of last year's ill-fated first attempt to use this grey yarn, so it might be a little while before I get around to it. Nonetheless, I love working with this yarn, and I'm really looking forward to it.

    Dalur is available in the book Knitting with Icelandic Wool, which is also available in Norway under the title Islandsk StrikkWill you be doing any Iceland-related knitting this month?

    Comments
  • tolt icelandic wool month: skógafjall

    This year marks the third year in a row that Tolt Yarn and Wool in Carnation, Washington has celebrated Tolt Icelandic Wool Month for the month of March. Back in 2015, I released my hat pattern Moon Sprites in conjunction with Tolt's first celebration, last year Tolt released the beautiful Blaer cardigan by Beatrice Perron Dahlen of Thread & Ladle, and this year I'm pleased as punch to once again be contributing to this celebration of Icelandic wool. This year, I've designed Skógafjall, a bottom-up round yoke pullover knit up in Léttlopi (which is probably my favorite weight of Lopi).

    For the vast majority of us, choosing Icelandic wool doesn't mean choosing local wool (the two most obvious exceptions being people who live in Iceland, or people outside of Iceland who raise Icelandic sheep). But it does mean supporting the yarn industry of Iceland, a country whose population is smaller than most cities I've lived in - and that means a lot. And the wool itself is reason enough for me to choose it, since it both affordable and adaptable, suitable to many different types of winter (and sometimes summer) climates. It's definitely suitable to my current northern Norwegian climate, and that is part of how I arrived at the design that became Skógafjall. I've spent a lot of time thinking about the ties between Icelandic and Norwegian wools, and the historical genetic links between the heritage sheep breeds found in these two countries - and all of that led me to want to design a sweater that pointed at that shared heritage in some way.

    So while it uses Icelandic wool, this sweater is inspired by my local Norwegian landscape and the verdant mountains I'm surrounded by in the summer months. The geology of Norway is quite different than Iceland's - Iceland straddles two continental plates and its geothermal activity means it's made up of cooled lava fields and volcanic rock, whereas Norway's rocky landscape is largely sedimentary. The deep green body of Skógafjall gives way to lighter greenery in the yoke and finally a heathery grey at the neck, which mimicks the rocky mountaintops of my immediate surroundings - and they're easy to see when the tree line is as low as it is in Tromsø. 

    The yoke pattern is equally evocative of the local landscape around western Washington, which makes it feel like a fantastic fit for Tolt and this annual celebration. The name Skógafjall can be translated as "forest mountain," more or less - though we've dubbed it "a sweater for exploring the forest, mountain, city or sea," and I think it would be just as at home in all of those places. 

    You can find Skógafjall on Ravelry here, or on the Tolt website here. Huge thanks to the whole Tolt team for letting me be a part of Icelandic Wool Month once again, and making sure this pattern got done in time while dealing with my grad school schedule - Anna, Clare, Karen (who knit the beautiful sample!), Kim (who modeled it so beautifully in these photos), and everyone else. You're all the best. And I can't forget to mention that Narangkar Glover did a lovely illustration of Skógafjall for a new Tolt project bag, too! It's available in the Tolt shop here.

    I have Iceland-related knitting plans lined up for this month, although my yarn choice is a little unorthodox - but I'll save that for another post.

    Related posts from previous years:

    Comments
  • project planning: soothing knits

    I mentioned on Instagram this week that I've been in a little bit of a slump lately. I'm sure there are several contributing factors - the slog of mid-winter (and so far one with much less snow than usual), the feelings that come with the weird middle stretch of my thesis work (totally normal, but hard to shake all the same), and the political situation back in my home country (let's just go with "it's a mess" and not say any more about that here, shall we?). I also fell of the metaphorical horse with my exercise plan after several months of working out regularly and it's been hard to find my way back in. Exercise makes a huge difference when you're feeling down, or at least it does for me. Nonetheless, I feel like I'm on the upward curve again, thankfully. 

    A trip to Montreal at the end of January helped with that. I've been before, but it's still not a city I know very well, so there's so much to explore - and as a result, seemingly endless inspiration. I popped into La Maison Tricotée while I was there on a beautifully sunny Sunday, where I picked up a skein of sock yarn as a souvenir. That seemed like a great way to kick off a post of my upcoming knitting plans - and I think you'll sense a theme: soothing, repetitive knits.

    The skein of sock yarn I brought back from Montréal is Riverside Studio's Merino Cashmere Nylon fingering in the colorway Storm. I've knit exactly one pair of socks using a sock yarn with cashmere - these plain stockinette socks in Dream in Color's Smooshy with Cashmere - and they shot to the top of my "favorites to wear" list almost immediately. The cashmere feels so luxurious. So when I saw a merino cashmere base at La Maison Tricotée, I jumped on it. Riverside Studio was new to me, but Kat is located in Farrellton, Québec, not too far from Ottawa, and it felt good to bring something home from a Québecois dyer. I like these colors, too, and the way they bring to mind winter to me - on some of Kat's other bases, this color seems a bit bluer and more saturated, but something about the merino/cashmere/nylon base takes the color a little bit differently, and it really feels like it suggests snow, water in the mist, the sea reflecting snow clouds, and bare branches all at once.

    I plan to make a pair of Siv socks with this yarn, from the first issue of Laine magazine. Another of my all-time favorite pairs of socks is my Twisted Flower socks, from the pattern by Cookie A - but I know that the allover traveling-stitches-and-lace pattern will be too much for me when I'm working to get my thesis done. Siv's panel of traveling stitches feels like a nice compromise. But I won't be starting these until I finish my current sock project...

    When I got back from Montréal I started a pair of Fika socks, with this springy green Jorstad Creek BFL Tweed Sock yarn. The twisted rib leg and stockinette foot definitely counts as repetitive and soothing right now, and I've wanted to make a pair of Fika socks since the issue of Pom Pom that they're in first came out - nearly two years ago now. I've been wanting to use the yarn even longer - it's been in my stash since 2013, since I bought it at Knit Fit in Seattle, where I had a booth at the marketplace and the Jorstad Creek both was right across from mine. I'm about halfway through the first sock now and it feels so good to finally use a yarn that's just been languishing in the stash for years. 

    I've also been thinking about what I want to do with these two skeins of Woolfolk Tynd in Pewter. I bought them back in 2014 and I originally planned to make a pair of Fure armwarmers from Woolfolk's first pattern collection with them, but I've gone this long without casting on even though I really want to work with this yarn. So I've come to terms with the fact that it's probably not the right pattern for me (and besides, my Inglis mitts are plenty long for me, it turns out). Again, I've been thinking about patterns that are soothing and repetitive, which will fill a gap in my wardrobe, and I'm pretty sure some kind of simple cowl would be a good way to go here. The Woolfolk is really soft, which makes it an ideal next-to-the-skin sort of yarn, and a cozy cowl I can tuck into the top of my coat when it's not cold enough for a big scarf sounds fantastic. I'm not totally set on this yet, but I'm thinking about Lilac Wine by Amy Christoffers, which is a perfect blank canvas for a really beautiful yarn to shine. (Note that Amy's site no longer seems to be active, so clicking the link on Ravelry will give you an error message, but you can copy/paste the direct link into the Wayback Machine at archive.org to access it). For a stretchy cowl, the difference in yarn weight isn't an issue.

    There are more projects in the pipeline, but I'm trying not too get too ahead of myself as long as my thesis is my main focus. But these are some of the projects and yarns I'm looking forward to the most. Interestingly, two of these involve a lot of 1x1 ribbing and one involves traveling stitches - and I recognize that for some folks, neither of those things says "soothing." So I'm curious: what kind of knitting is most soothing for you? Are there particular kinds of yarns, projects, or stitch patterns you gravitate towards when you want some easy comfort knitting? I'd love to know!

    Comments
  • norwegian wool: lofoten wool

    The Norwegian Wool series is finally back with another fantastic smaller company: Lofoten Wool. Wool sourced from Northern Norwegian sheep (including the Lofoten archipelago, hence the name), naturally dyed, and spun down at Hillesvåg - it's a dream. The Røst collection (pictured above, and named for the remote island where the wool is sourced) comes from the wool of the crossbred norsk kvit sau, or the Norwegian white sheep. Their heavier weight yarns are made with wool from the heritage breeds Gammelnorsk sau and spælsau. To me, Lofoten Wool's yarns are the stuff that local wool dreams are made of. (Consequently, I might adoringly gush a little bit more than usual in this post.)

    I feel like I need to provide some context to be able to adquately convey the feelings this yarn inspires. Between the northern Norwegian sheep, the natural dyes Ragnhild uses to create her beautiful colors, and the ties to specific locations within Lofoten, this company has something special going on. For those unfamiliar with the Lofoten archipelago, it lies north of the Arctic Circle and it's home to some of the most iconic Norwegian scenery there is. Islands formed from mountains that jut right out of the water make for dramatic landscapes everywhere you go, reaching out in a line from the mainland like an arm pointing toward Iceland. I haven't been as far out as Røst (where my skein of yarn's wool came from) - it's way out there - but I have passed through Lofoten twice now and spent sime time exploring Nordland, the county where Lofoten is located (Hurtigruten, the coastal ferry/cruise, passes through Lofoten). While the landscape is very different, it's easy to see similarities and find connections with other north Atlantic island communities like Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and Shetland.

    Historically, fishing was the center of life in Lofoten. North Atlantic cod come to Lofoten each year to spawn, so cod fishing was the biggest industry (and it remains a big part of the local economy today). Many of the men who fished in and around Lofoten came from other parts of Norway, and when they were on shore, they lived in fishing cabins known as rorbuer. Many of these all over Lofoten have been converted to be used by tourists now (like these). The statue in the photo above sits at the edge of the harbor in Svolvær. It's called Fiskarkona, "the fish wife," and it's by sculptor Per Ung. She faces away from the harbor, with an arm raised as if bidding farewell to her husband's boat. Life in Lofoten was harsh, and the weather meant fishing could be dangerous, so I can only imagine what it was like to bid farewell to your spouse not knowing if their boat would return home.

    This brings me back to the yarn. I feel very fortunate that my favorite local yarn store carries Lofoten Wool so that I had the opportunity to check out some of their yarns in person. The naturally dyed colors are gorgeous, and I definitely fell in love with the indigo-dyed skein pictured at the top of this post as soon as I saw it. I have plans for this particular skein, but there's enough yarn that I wanted to do a little bit of swatching just for fun, too. Both the blue shade of the yarn itself and the name of this particular color, brådjupt, bring to mind the clear blue waters of northern Norway for me (and cables felt like an appropriate medium for interpreting rippling waves). The swatch on the needles above uses a chart from Norah Gaughan's incredible Knitted Cable Sourcebook - it's a motif she calls Diverge. This 2-ply yarn from the Røst collection is a fantastically wooly wool: it's kind of crunchy and lofty at the same time, somewhat like a woolen spun Shetland yarn can be; not luxuriously soft but also not unpleasant against the skin; pretty grabby but it still manages to cable beautifully. I think we hear words like "strong" and "workhorse yarn" associated with a lot of wooly wools, especially breed-specific ones, but those phrases seem somehow too heavy to describe this yarn. It is strong - with effort, it's possible to break it instead of cutting it with scissors, but it's much harder to break than the woolen spun Shetland yarns I've used. I think this yarn also qualifies as a workhorse yarn - it's very well suited to this coastal northern Norwegian climate - but it feels lighter than that at the same time.

    Ragnhild of Lofoten Wool very kindly shared some photos of their sheep out at Røst, above - and as you can see, by the time you make it that far out, the landscape starts to look a little bit more like Shetland. What an incredible place to be a sheep, right? The sheep on Røst in the photos above are the crossbred Norwegian white sheep/norsk kvit sau. As I mentioned, Lofoten Wool's heavier weight yarns come from the wool of heritage breeds, and the following photos are Ragnhild's own flock of Gammelnorsk sau, also called villsau by some ("old Norwegian sheep" and "wild sheep," respectively, though the latter name is a misnomer as they have been a domesticated breed for over a thousand years). They live on an island much closer to mainland Norway. You'll also notice that there's natural color variation amongst the heritage breed sheep, much like other northern European heritage breeds (Shetland or Icelandic sheep, for example).

    It's such a fantastic treat to be able to knit with wool that has such traceable origins, and a huge thank you to Ragnhild for sharing these photos of the sheep with us!

    To see the yarns and other wooly goodies Lofoten Wool has on offer, head over to their online shop. Lofoten Wool does ship internationally, but you should be aware that the cost of shipping can be high (especially outside Europe), You can get a sense of shipping rates abroad from Norway here (all prices are in Norwegian kroner, but you can use Google to convert to your own currency). A list of their Norwegian stockists can be found on the home page of their website, lofoten-wool.no.

    A note: with the exception of Ragnhild's sheep photos, the photos of Lofoten featured in this post were all taken by me on a trip last August - some of them from a moving boat at dusk, so please excuse any motion blur! 

    Comments
  • 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!

    Comments
  • 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.

    Comments
  • on darkness and light

    I'm going to get a little philosophical today, but I hope you'll bear with me.

    As the days have grown shorter in Tromsø I've realized I'm taking fewer photos. I like shooting in natural light best, so as the availability of natural light becomes smaller and smaller, it's not surprising I reach for my camera less often. But that is only one reason. October moving into November always seems to be one of my busiest times - and the time of year that I am most susceptible to seasonal depression, due to the rapidly changing light and a number of other factors (I wrote about this a few weeks ago on my Instagram, and thank you so much to everyone who responded - I can't say how much I appreciate both your kind words and your open conversation). My seasonal depression is fall-specific, and doesn't usually last throughout the winter. So believe it or not, I feel myself coming out of that depressive low now, just as we're nearing the beginning of mørketida (literally, the dark time, the season in the north when the sun stays below the horizon). In the wake of the U.S. presidential election, there are many people turning to the thought that "the sun will still rise tomorrow" - and here I am, in a place where in a week's time, the sun literally will not rise on Tromsø. Does that sound dark to you? For me, it's not as dark as it sounds. I've been thinking about the best way to try to explain this.

    One of the most common questions I get at this time of year is people wondering what it's like to live somewhere where the sun sets so early in the fall, and then eventually, it doesn't rise or set at all. It's difficult to imagine if you've never experienced it, so here are a few key facts:

    • In Tromsø, where I live, the sun doesn't rise above the mountains in the south between November 21 and January 21.
    • This doesn't mean it's only night and total darkness, however, for the sun spends a few hours in the middle of the day just below the horizon. To imagine what clear days are like, picture several hours of the most beautiful sunset/twilight combination you can imagine. That's your daylight.
    • Once the snow comes, the effect of the darkness is lessened a great deal. The period leading up to Christmas can be the toughest, as the snow tends to come and go (and this year we have yet to have a proper snow), but after Christmas it usually sticks around and accumulates, and January and February are absolutely beautiful. A proper winter wonderland.

    So what is it like to live with? I know Norwegians and foreigners who embrace it and I know Norwegians and foreigners who struggle with it, too. I fall into the former camp - and people are always surprised when I tell them I prefer the polar night to the midnight sun. Everyone is different and there are many factors that influence how we cope with and feel about the dark season. I have always been a night person, often feeling my most creative and productive in the wee hours. That's probably part of it. But I think mindset is another part.

    As I mentioned in my last post on the yarn I brought home from the Oslo Strikkefestival, I wanted to make a Lupine shawl with the lovely greyscale gradient from Squirrel's Yarns. I cast on last week after the election news, and the repetitive bands of lace and garter stitch have been my constant companions in an incredibly emotionally trying time. And this gradient yarn, with its slow, smooth transitions, is exactly as beautiful as I hoped it would be. But that's not what I want to talk about, though - I want to go in a more metaphorical direction. 

    I could've started at either end of the ball when I cast on for this shawl, but I like a center pull ball, and I decided to start from the center - the lightest end of the gradient. The fact that this means I've spent the last week literally knitting in the direction of the darkness is not lost on me. It has crossed my mind on more than one occasion. I could continue that line of thought - the further I knit, the longer the rows get, and the slower my progress feels, etc. I could see it as a slog. (Fortunately, I don't.) And here's the thing - this is where perspective comes in. There's a Fast Company article that made the rounds last year called "The Norwegian Secret to Enjoying a Long Winter," and spoiler alert: it's all about your mindset.

    From where I sit as I knit the shawl, this is my vantage point. I am situated at the dark end, watching the gradient fade back into the light. While I may literally be looking at where I came from, this vantage point allows me to remember that the darkness can - and does - give way to the light again. Our whole world functions in cycles. The planet rotates and orbits the sun, the winter we are heading into will give way to spring and summer, and the daylight will come back. The darkness is an important part of that cycle - and in the case of my shawl, the darker the yarn color gets, the easier it is to see the sparkle of the silver stellina spun into the yarn. Much like we cannot see the stars or the northern lights when the sky is overwhelmed by the light of the sun.

    I read a book a few years ago - while in Norway for the new year, aptly enough - that really changed my relationship with nighttime and darkness. It's by Paul Bogard and it's called The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artifical Light. It was a game changer for me, and a book I would recommend to anyone and everyone. I'd never thought about the importance of darkness in the balance of life this way before, since as humans we tend to fear the darkness, which can represent danger and the unknown. But this book helped me start to embrace the dark and it changed the way I think about certain types of light. I don't think I would enjoy mørketida as much without having read it. 

    I also want to say that while there are many situations where I think the cycle of light and dark is important, I would not extend that so far as to say that the darkness of the current political situation is a necessary part of any such cycle - I think there is a cycle of dark and light there, but the degree of darkness we have reached goes far beyond any natural cycle. Racism, misogyny, bigotry, and hate should have no place in our society, let alone in the White House (or any of the governments in which xenophobic nationalist movements are gaining ground). But in the midst of this darkness there are bright points of light emerging, and I would encourage you to seek those out. And as I sit and knit my shawl, I will remember that the darkness can - and does - give way to the light again. And in the coming days I'll be thinking very hard about concrete ways that I can step up and be a part of that movement.

    Comments
  • 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.

    Comments
  • 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!

    Comments
  • slow fashion october: my first sweater

    This week's topic for Slow Fashion October is LONG WORN. It's an interesting one and there are a lot of different ways to approach this topic, particularly when it comes to shopping second-hand or thrifting. And I do have a handful of vintage or second-hand pieces that I might decide to write about, but my wardrobe has been in a nearly constant state of flux for the past few years, as I moved in with a partner and got married (and started sharing closets and dressers for the first time in my life) and also saw a natural evolution in my style and how I use it to express my identity. I'm hoping that's starting to even out a little bit and I'll be seeing a slightly more stable wardrobe, with less pieces moving in or out, but because of all of that I thought it would make sense to write about one piece that I'm very unlikely to get rid of: the first sweater I ever knit. 

    Truth be told, I came very, very close to letting this one go last Christmas in the midst of a clothing purge. It was my husband who talked be out of it, actually. "Firsts are important," he told me, and he was right (he still has his first guitar). Ten months on, I'm really glad I kept it. I was kind of shocked to realize exactly how long I've had it, once I started thinking about it; I made this sweater in 2007, which means it was nine years old this summer.

    Ten years ago my relationship with knitting was very different, unsurprisingly. I learned to knit as a kid but it didn't totally catch on for me until around 2005/2006, when suddenly there were new, hip knitting books being published (it was the age of Stitch 'n Bitch), I was regularly reading Bust Magazine, and there was a crafty community emerging online - I eagerly anticipated each new issue of Knitty (still going strong!) and I remember taking part in the Craftster forums. I had yet to discover local yarn stores and was still using lots of acrylic or acrylic-blend yarns from big-box craft stores and prior to this sweater I'd really only knit scarves. Lots and lots of ribbed scarves. I hadn't even tried out knitting a hat yet (I was afraid of knitting in the round for a long time). I'd received a copy of Stitch 'n Bitch from my mom for Christmas at some point and eventually decided I wanted to make the Big Sack Sweater by Jenna Wilson, which looked cozy and inviting.

    Since it was nearly a decade ago I remember very little of the decision-making process or how long it took me to knit the thing (I'm pretty sure it was months, though). What I do remember is that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. The Big Sack Sweater calls for bulky yarn, but I picked out a worsted weight 100% acyrlic at the craft store. I definitely didn't swatch, so it seems like a miracle that I ended up with something that basically fits. The sweater's other flaws are easy to point out: I didn't know I should track my rows for the sleeves in order to make them the same, so I "estimated" (one sleeve is two inches longer than the other). There's an accidental m1 increase right in the front of the sweater. My picked-up stitches for the neckline are a mess. The sweater is worked flat in pieces and then seamed, and my seams are maybe the sloppiest I've ever seen. I didn't weave in the ends for years, literal years. But in spite of all of that, I was very proud and I loved this thing. And even though I would make very, very different decisions if I were knitting this sweater today (particularly with regard to yarn), I still love this thing and I do still wear it sometimes, even here in Tromsø, even though I have lots of handmade wool jumpers to choose from. I no longer have the second or third sweaters I made, but nine years on, I recognize the importance of this first for me, and it seems unlikely to leave my wardrobe for good, even if it falls out of regular rotation sometimes.

    More on the "long-worn" topic later, perhaps. For now, I'm happy that this is one of the pieces that's been in my wardrobe for the longest.

    Comments
  • dalis & riva

    I have a few new patterns that came out for Quince & Co. last week and I'm so pleased to finally be able to share these with you! Pictured above are the round-yoked Dalis pullover and the Riva hat and mittens, all knit in worsted weight Lark. They're part of the Sea Smoke collection which also features two beautiful patterns by Bristol Ivy (the patterns can each be purchased individually or the whole collection is available as an ebook).

    Both my patterns and Bristol's in the Sea Smoke collection have inspiration rooted in tradition, but we hope you'll agree that the pieces themselves are very wearable in anyone's everyday wardrobe. When I designed Dalis I had in mind several different sources of inspiration found in Scandinavian folk art, among them woven ribbons, klokkestrenger, or "bell pulls" (which are long, narrow pieces of decorative embroidery), and rosemåling certainly inspired the color palette I ended up with. Dalis uses one of my favorite constructions: knit from the bottom up, with body and arms knit first before they're joined together to work the yoke. Short row shaping at the back dips the yoke for a comfortable fit around the neck.

    When Pam, Quince's founder, first approached me about working with them on patterns, she mentioned noticing that I like to work with colorwork in my designs - and given the massive palette of colors to choose from in Quince's core wool line, they make it very easy to want to design more colorwork! Because Dalis uses five colors total, there's an incredible amount of room for creativity in color choice and changing just one color can give the whole pattern a different flavor - so I was thrilled when the Quince team decided to swatch different color combinations for the Quince blog and I'm in love with all of them. Along with their beautiful swatches, that blog post contains some excellent information about swatching for stranded colorwork, so I highly recommend checking it out (those are Leila's gorgeous swatches pictured above, but the blog post contains several more combos).

    I'm also very pleased with the Riva hat and mittens, which are simpler with a bolder motif, but knit in these colors they're a great match for Dalis. As fall collections have been coming out, however, I think one of my favorite things has been seeing echoes of the main diamond motif pop up elsewhere this season - a confluence of designers unknowingly working with the same muse, perhaps. Within the Sea Smoke collection, Bristol's beautiful Brooke pullover features textured diamonds around the yoke, the knit-purl cousins of Riva's diamonds. And when Jared Flood's Spearheads was released in this fall's Brooklyn Tweed collection, the white-on-blue men's version caught my eye right away since I knew Riva was soon being released. Three designers in three different cities working away on our patterns, having no idea of the similar thread running through our pieces... maybe it's just me, but I think there's something quite beautiful in that.

    The Quince team also put together a great post for Riva about how to make decisions when substituting colors, as the white color Egret is unfortunately out of stock at the moment. I'd also recommend checking out that very informative post right here

    The individual patterns as well as the whole ebook are available now either on Ravelry or on the Quince & Co. website.

    Comments
  • project updates

    Since the whole idea of my queue check of sorts from a few weeks back was to hold myself accountable to my plan, I figured I'd post a follow up! I'll start with the good news:

    I finished the Hugin and Munin mittens! As I mentioned in the earlier post, these only needed thumbs, so once I had time to sit down and chart them out, the knitting itself was pretty quick. I'm so pleased with how these turned out, and even more pleased that they're finally done! The Rauma Finullgarn is so fantastic for mittens, and since these are knit at a fine gauge (on US 1 / 2.25mm needles) they'll be very warm.

    I also powered through and finished my Inglis Mitts in time to wear them this year before it's too cold! Already I'm wearing them without the top folded down a majority of the time, so they're extra long. My project page now also incredibly has an absurd number of faves on Ravelry, since Sarah featured my mitts in a community eye candy post on the Ravelry blog (thanks Sarah!). And if you've been eyeing the Inglis Mitts but didn't get the Edinburgh Yarn Fest magazine in which they were originally published, I'm really happy to be able to let you know that they're now available as an individual pattern on Ravelry

    I've also made some progress on my Dunaway scarf, though I have yet to finish it. I think that's probably top of the priority list now.

    The neutral news: I haven't touched my Sandneskofte since I last posted about it, but I still have plenty of time to finish it before the Oslo Knitting Festival, so I'm not too worried about that.

    The curve ball: many of you probably saw on Instagram that I did end up casting on something new after all. It was one of those times where you get an idea in your head and it just takes hold - I tried to push it to the back of my mind for later, but this was one was stubborn. I got an idea for a stripe sequence that would use up a bunch of worsted weight yarn in my stash and I couldn't get it out of my head. After a couple of days of trying not to think about it, I gave in and decided to work up a little swatch to test the sequence of stripes to see if it would work out in real life the way it was working out in my head. And oh, it did. I wrote last time about how satisfying it is to find a happy marriage of stash yarn and pattern, and once I saw that this stripe sequence would work, imagining the sweater I could use it on was the easiest thing imaginable. And so I threw caution to the wind. I decided to join in on this year's Fringe and friends KAL with my stripes, so I'm working my way through an improvised top-down pullover. To make it go quickly so as not to disrupt my existing project plans too much, I've worked the whole thing seamlessly in the round, with purl columns on the sides of the body in case I want to seam the sides. Stockinette in the round is my speediest knitting, and on US 8 / 5mm needles it is flying along. It's ready for the sleeves, but I think I'll knit those flat.

    I'd like to wrap this up soon, but I think I should finish the Dunaway scarf first! And so that's my planned weekend knitting. What will you be working on this weekend?

    Comments
  • svana

    Happy September! I love the first of September for many reasons (the feeling that summer is drawing to an end, heading back to school, the Hogwarts Express...) so I'm extremely pleased that today is the day that the first of Quince & Co.'s fall collections is being released. This also means that I have another new pattern to show you! Meet Svana, a cropped pullover knit in Chickadee. It's part of the Glen collection, and it features several little details that I'm super pleased with.

    For this design I wanted to play around with a kind of mod silhouette, pattern blocking, and using more than two colors, so I decided to try my hand at working up the traditional Japanese seigaiha (or wave) pattern in stranded knitting. I quite like how the chart came out, but the repeats are relatively large, so to make it easier to grade the pattern for different sizes I decided to work a faux seam (basically a vertical stripe sequence) at each side of the body in order to break up the motif. While the faux seam serves a very practical purpose here, I actually really love the look of it and might use it again in the future (even when its practical use isn't strictly necessary).

    Svana also features compound raglan shaping at the shoulders and a doubled collar (knit twice as long as the final length, then folded over and sewn down to the inside of the neckline). This is a design element I also used on my first pattern for Quince, Ebba, though Svana's collar is taller than Ebba's and the cut of the neck is a round crew neck. I love the gentle heathery grey of the Iceland colorway in Chickadee, although my original vision for this sweater featured a much darker grey and blue - something about fall always brings out my fondness for deep, rich greys, blues, and greens (perhaps because they look so nice against the autumn foliage?). But I think the design looks equally as nice in the lighter colorways, and the blue used here is actually the same as we used for Ebba (the Delft colorway), which I have a great fondness for. While the sweater does use three colors, the vast majority of the stranded colorwork is just two colors per round; only where the pattern meets the solid top color are there a few rounds with three colors carried in a round.

    Svana is available as a single pattern as well as part of the ebook for the Glen collection (and I highly recommend checking out the rest of the collection).

    Comments
  • rosenhoff mittens

    I decided to write about Telespinn last week because I used one of their yarns for a very special pattern: meet the Rosenhoff mittens (or Rosenhoff Votter), my contribution to the magazine for this year's Oslo Strikkefestival. The festival is only in its second year this year, but it sounds like last year was a flying success and I can't wait to head down to Oslo this November and check it out for myself (yes! I'm coming to the festival!). I had the chance back in February to meet Katie, who runs the festival (and also works at Grünerløkka yarn store Pickles) and I was thrilled when she asked if I'd be willing to contribute a pattern for the magazine. Two other patterns are included: the beautiful and intriguing Gokstad Hat by Julie Knits in Paris, and the Oslo Skirt by Maja Karlsson, which features a interesting construction details and lovely stranded colorwork at the waistline. All three patterns are available for free in the Oslo Strikkefestival magazine, found here on their website if you weren't able to get one at the launch party. Currenly the written instructions are in Norwegian only, but the whole mitten is charted after the ribbing and I'm hoping to put together the English translation soon.

    I had a lot of fun working up the charts for these mittens and I'm very pleased with how they turned out. They're knit up in fingering-weight Symre (for the sample the main color is Sjøgrønn and the contrast is Lysgrå). A primarily mohair yarn is not the most traditional choice for what are otherwise rather traditional Norwegian mittens, but I felt like the spirit of Telespinn as a company is very Norwegian and that it would be a good fit for both this design and the festival itself. The resulting fabric created when the mohair-wool blend is worked stranded is a bit airier than wool would be, but it's also very warm. I took these mittens on a test run at an outdoor music festival in Tromsø this past weekend - the high temp the day I wore them was 8ºC / 46ºF and they kept my hands quite warm!

    I decided to name the pattern after the area where I lived two summers ago while attending the International Summer School at the University of Oslo. Rosenhoff is on the east side of Oslo just north of Carl Berners plass, and aside from my personal connection to the area, the floral connotations of the name felt like a good fit for the two main flowery motifs on the back of the hand. It's a really lovely part of town that I'll probably always have a fondness for - that summer was like something out of a picture book.

    I should also mention that if you're planning to attend the festival and you knit one of the three official patterns from this year's magazine (these mittens included), you can be entered to win a 500 NOK gift card to be used in the marketplace! And if you start a project but haven't finished by the time of the festival, no biggie - just upload a photo of your WIP or FO to Instagram with the hashtag #oslostrikkefestival and you'll be entered. More info about the competition can be found on the Oslo Strikkefestival website here. And the Rosenhoff Votter can be found on Ravelry here.

    If you're planning to attend the festival I look forward to seeing you there!

    Comments
  • norwegian wool: telespinn

    I still have some larger yarn companies to cover in this series on Norwegian wool, but I'm jumping to a smaller company this week to tell you about one of my favorite Norwegian yarn companies: Telespinn (click "in English" at the top of their homepage if you don't speak Norwegian). I first encountered their yarn two years ago when I visited the Folkemuseum in Oslo, and I'm so happy to write a bit more about them. 

    Located in Telemark, Telespinn has their own microspinnery as well as their own sheep and Angora goats, which makes their yarn a pretty incredible farm-to-needle experience. This also means the core of their yarn content is actually mohair (from the Angora goats), but all of their made-in-house mohair yarns are blended with wool. Unlike what many of us think of when we hear the words "mohair yarn," this isn't brushed mohair, so the resulting yarn is much more smooth than fuzzy (though it does have a nice halo). The mohair/wool blends also have an incredible lustre, as the mohair fibers are relatively shiny. I'm particularly drawn to the candy-bright colors their yarns come in, and the light grey in the photo above legitimately looks and feels like mithril (in other words, I think this yarn is pretty magic). 

    Telespinn's magnificent Angora goats (photo used with kind permission from Telespinn)

    While the yarn is fantastic, one of the things I love the most about this company is their story. Yarn was just the eventual by-product of founder Bjørg Minnesjord Solheim's decision to keep mohair goats as a way of preserving the cultural landscape. Not wanting the mohair fiber to go to waste, she decided to have it made into yarn, but that meant the wool went first to Denmark and then on to South Africa in order to be processed. Trying to find more local and sustainable ways of having the fiber turned into yarn yielded no results, and eventually (after a trip to Canada to check out spinning machines) Telespinn had machinery imported in order to set up their own mini-mill. Talk about commitment. You can spend some time perusing the "about us" page on their website if you'd like to learn more - there's a lot of reading material there.

    Telespinn has their own webstore and I'm happy to say they ship all over the world, so you should be able to get your hands on some no matter where you are. Should you find yourself heading to Telemark, it's also possible to visit the farm, though visits need to be arranged in advance.

    Pictured at top is their light fingering weight 2-ply yarn, Symre, which I've used for a mitten pattern that I'll be writing about in the next post!

    Previous posts in this series can be found here:
    - Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk
    - Rauma Garn

    Comments
  • 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.

    Comments
  • project planning

    I'm a big fan of Karen Templer's Queue Check posts over at Fringe, and if I'm honest it's prompted me to assess the state of my own knitting queue with an eye towards prioritization and realistic expectations. (That sentence may be one of the least romantic things I've ever written about knitting on this blog, but I know some of you out there can relate - with perpetual startitis and too many projects on the needles at once.) Looking at my actual planned projects with a practical eye is one of those things that helps inspire me to knit the things I really want to knit, and that I really want to wear.

    The other thing prompting me to think this way about my knitting has been coming to terms with the state of my yarn stash over the past year after moving into a 500 square foot apartment with my husband. There's a lot of yarn that I'm frankly never going to get to, especially as I continue acquiring new and exciting Norwegian yarns that I want to explore and share. But I'd also really like to find the stuff in my stash that I can use to make the things I want, so I'm thinking about pattern choices, yarns, and project timelines much more critically than I used to. I know I will still occasionally throw caution to the wind and cast on something new that gets me excited - but it's way more awesome when that happens because I've finally found the right pattern for that skein of laceweight yarn I bought several years ago (I'm looking at you, Loess). That kind of experience is great. So I'm moving toward an approach that allows room for that, but that also has some more structure than I typically employ now.

    At the moment, I've got 13 projects on Ravelry listed as WIPs. While I know people with far more than that, I sometimes get jealous of the monogamous knitters who stick with one (or maybe two) projects at a time. Even though I'm already planning future projects, I know I'd like to work my way through finishing up some of these existing ones first. Some are close - a pair of mittens that only needs thumbs, for example, or small projects that come in pairs (mitts, socks) where the first of a pair just needs its mate. Some are larger, like the Sandneskofte I'm knitting in Buachaille (pictured above). I think at this point that I actually find the prioritizing pretty easy, but sticking to my plan is the hard part. So in the interest of trying to hold myself to some sort of plan as well as actually sharing some projects-in-progress on the blog, here's a sort of State of the Knitting Address.

    Short term goals include finishing the thumbs on these Hugin and Munin mittens in Rauma Finullgarn. This should be the easiest thing in my WIP pile, but the catch is that I designed these myself (the ravens come from my university's seal) and I haven't actually charted the thumbs yet (oops). Once I sit down and decide on the charts, however, I should be able to knock these out super quick. And then I can wear them! Hooray! I definitely don't want to go another winter with these as a nearly-done WIP.

    I'd also like to wrap up my Inglis Mitts in Ysolda's Blend No. 1 relatively soon, because they're going to be really useful in just a few short weeks. In fact, I expect September and October to be prime time for these mitts, and if I don't have them done by then they won't really be useful again until spring. No time to waste!

    Lastly, I'd like to wrap up the Dunaway scarf I've started for my husband in time for him to wear it before the weather gets really cold; and I'd like to finish my Sandneskofte (pictured at top) in time to wear to the Oslo Strikkefestival in November. Dunaway is lovely mindless knitting, perfect for TV and movie-watching, and the Sandneskofte is actually farther along than that photo shows (I'm at the point, in fact, where I need to decide whether or not I'd like to make it a V-neck). That makes these goals all feel relatively achievable in the next couple of months, even though they're going to be busy. As long as I stick to the plan! 

    Is your queue out of control or do you like to stick with one project at a time? Do you have project management strategies when you want to knit all the things? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

    Comments
  • norwegian wool: hillesvåg ullvarefabrikk

    I'm getting around to this second post in my new Norwegian wool series a bit later than originally planned (thanks, finals), but I'm happy to finally be sitting down today with a cup of coffee to write about what might be my favorite Norwegian yarn company/mill, Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk. Founded in 1898, Hillesvåg's mill is located about a half hour outside Bergen, and it's part of the économusée network which means that the mill is open the public and you can go visit.

    Their wool yarns are made from Norwegian wool - primarily the norsk kvit sau (Norwegian white sheep), which is the most dominant breed among sheep in Norway, but several of their yarn lines are made of wool from the pelssau, a cross between a Gotland and the Norwegian heritage breed spælsau. Being a cross between two northern European heritage breeds, the wool from the pelssau is similar to other northern European wools you may have worked with, like Lopi or Shetland. It's a longwool, very similar to pure Gotland (with the same natural grey shade, seen above second from left) but with a bit more luster. I'm particularly fond of Hillesvåg's yarns made from this wool, and I've actually mentioned it on the blog before:

    The green hat is worked up in Hifa Pelsull, the sport weight version, and the pink hat is Hifa Blåne, a bulky weight version of the same wool (for those curious, the patterns are Middle Fork by Veronika Jobe and Capstan by Norah Gaughan). The Blåne is especially lovely, and while it reminds me of Alafoss Lopi, it's a loftier, smoother yarn with more luster. The names of Hillesvåg's wool yarns are tied to Norwegian folklore and countryside history: the core line includes names like Trollgarn ("troll yarn"), sock yarns Fjell, Fjord, and Bonde ("mountain," "fjord," and "farmer"), Ask ("ash," with askeladden or "the ash lad" being a central character in many Norwegian folktales), and Alv ("elf"). Blåne describes the subtle blue shades of layers of mountains in the distance, and I'm dying to knit something with Huldra, a light fingering/heavy lace yarn named for a forest spirit in Scandinavian folklore. 

    As with the Rauma post, I have a video to share about Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk - and this time, with subtitles in English! Take a peek at the behind-the-scenes of the mill:

    If you find yourself in Bergen, you can visit the mill on the Osterfjord, and be sure to also check out the Norsk Trikotasjemuseum (aka the Norwegian Knitting Industry Museum) while you're in the area.

    I'm not sure if Hillesvåg has distributors in North America or the UK, but if you know of any please let me know and I'll update this post with links!

    If you missed the first post in this series, you can read about Rauma Garn here.

    Comments
  • norwegian wool: rauma garn

    I've been reading quite a bit while my shoulder recovers - books, websites, and other things, too. I recently went back and re-listened to some my Woolful podcast interview, where I talked about wanting to really explore the world of Norwegian wool. While I have started to do that since moving to Norway, I still feel like I've only just scratched the surface. Having a bit more time to sit around and read up on things, though, I'm opening some doors and connecting some dots that I hadn't before. Between revisiting the fantastic book Ren Ull ("Pure Wool") which I've posted about on this blog before, and having some ongoing conversations with friends, I've had Norwegian yarns on the brain - specifically, those yarns whose wool is actually sourced here in Norway. I thought it might be a nice idea to start a sort of informal series here on the blog about Norwegian wool, both as a way to document what I'm learning and a way to share it with you all. I'd love for it to be a conversation, too - I'm by no means an expert and I'm always happy to pick up new information about this stuff. While the Norwegian knitting industry can be rather insular - which means the stuff I write about in these posts may not always be accessible or available to those outside Norway - my hope is that you all find them interesting and hopefully inspiring, too.

    I think it makes sense to start with one of the larger yarn companies, and because their patterns have been inspiring me lately, I thought I'd kick off these posts with Rauma Garn. I started using Rauma's yarns a couple of years ago, first after purchasing some at the Nordic Knitting Conference and later when Tolt Yarn and Wool began carrying their fingering weight Finullgarn and the heavier 3-ply Strikkegarn. They're lovely woolen spun yarns that give knits a bit of character without being tweedy or heathered, necessarily. And obviously, I like Rauma because they're one of the Norwegian yarn companies making a point to use wool sourced in Norway. I've translated a little excerpt from their "about me" page here:

    "At Rauma Ullvarefabrikk we base our production on Norwegian wool, and the entire process - from wool to finished product - is carried out in our own mill in Veblungsnes in Møre og Romsdal. We consider our most important task to be awakening and inspiring joy in creativity, so we place great importance on design in our collections and we hope that you find inspiration in them." (Original text here)

    I have not been to Veblungsnes, but it sits at the end of a fjord on the west coast, which means it is bound to be beautiful. And as for the designs - I've been following Rauma's Instagram account for about a year, and I have to say, I definitely find inspiration in their collections.

    Because the knitting tradition and history is so rich in Norway, the major yarn companies have pretty serious back catalogs of patterns, and they often pick out old patterns to be reworked for modern tastes (much like Sandnes did with the patterns in 42 norkse kofter, which I blogged about here). Rauma's latest round of redesigns is particularly good.

    This sweater in particular caught my eye, from the collection 243R Redesign. Being a more traditional yarn company, the designs usually aren't named, but are rather given what are effectively serial numbers - and you also often won't find them on Ravelry. Remember what I said about the knitting industry here being insular? Nonetheless, I love this unisex number. The link above goes to the lookbook, where you can see it worked up in alternate colorways. And to top it off? There are kids' sizes too:

    From 244R Redesign.

    There are also some more traditional two-color kofter, also from 243R Redesign:

    And the new designs have been fantastic lately, too. I'm particularly obsessed with the bright kelly green they're featuring this spring:

    How beautiful is this simple stole above, by Marie Cecilie Dahl? It's from the collection 241R, and the whole collection feels fresh and is styled beautifully. And lastly, the new kids' stuff is also bright and fresh and very hip:

    This is from collection 242R, and the whole thing is eye candy. It actually looks more like a ready-to-wear catalog than what I'm used to from the knitting world.

    To see more, you can click over to the catalog page to see the most recent catalogs online (which include everything I've featured here), or you can check out their Facebook photos page, or follow them on Instagram at @raumagarn.

    And just for fun, while this short film is only in Norwegian, it shows a glimpse of the mill, its setting, and its history as the marketing director walks you through the steps from wool to yarn:

    Have you worked with Rauma yarns before? 

    Comments
  • zara

    Quince & Co. launched this year's pattern collection for Sparrow this week, and my first pattern as part of the design team with it. Meet Zara, a boxy cropped tee:

    photo courtesy of Quince & Co.

    This is a super simple knit which makes use of applied crochet chains to create vertical stripes (together with the horizontal stripes knit into the front and back, they form a boxy grid pattern). When the weather gets warmer I often find myself reaching for lightweight tops with a lot of positive ease, though this tee works super well as a layering piece as the photo above displays. I was able to snap some photos of the sample before sending it off to Quince and I opted to style it with a high-waisted skirt instead, which gave it a slightly more dressed-up look.

    I really like this top, and I find it very interesting that the cropped length keeps the fabric very flowy - my Vasa in Sparrow is much longer, and consequently the garment itself is much heavier than Zara. I think they light and airy feel of the fabric comes through in the photos.

    photo courtesy of Quince & Co.

    I really enjoy the effect of the vertical applied crochet chains, which do a great job of blending into the fabric (rather than standing out in relief - people will ask you how you managed to knit vertical stripes). I first started playing around with applied crochet chains on knits as an alternative way to work vikkel braids, as it can be done in multiple colors for a nearly identical effect, but this might be my favorite use for them. Even if you don't know how to crochet, they're very simple to work and the pattern includes links to tutorials if you've never done it before.

    Zara is one of four patterns in the Sparrow collection (the others being Aila by Isabell Kraemer, Amalia by Pam Allen, and Pippa by Melissa LaBarre). It's available either individually or with the other three patterns as an eBook, both on Ravelry or quinceandco.com.

    Comments
  • 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!

    Comments
  • the north sea

    I read a book a couple months ago called The Shetland Bus, which I picked up over Christmas break after someone posted about it on social media last fall. The phrase "the Shetland bus" refers to a British and Norwegian special operations unit who used fishing ships to carry supplies and refugees back and forth between Shetland and the west coast of Norway during World War II (as Norway was occupied by the Nazis, many Norwegians fled to the UK or the United States during the war). Shetland is due west from the west coast of southern Norway, with Lerwick and Bergen being on approximately equal latitudes, so it made sense as a home base for this type of special operations group.

    The book itself is fascinating for a number of reasons, not least of which is that it was first published in 1951 and the author was part of the unit that carried out these trips. The trips this group carried out were not in large boats, but fishing boats small enough to be unassuming and less likely to be stopped or questioned. And as the sun doesn't sink low enough below the horizon for total darkness in the summer time, these trips were carried out in fall and late winter, in the cold and under cover of darkness, often with stormy weather. Even having lived through my first Norwegian winter, I can't even imagine what it must have been like.

    Most of the action took place much farther south than where I live in Norway (Bergen sits at 60ºN while Tromsø is up at 69ºN) with the exception of chapter thirteen, which is one of the more incredible tales in the book about a seemingly impossible escape. Another chapter tells of the attempt to sabotage a German battleship in Trondheim - the attempt failed, but that battleship (Tirpitz) was later sunk just south of Tromsøya at the end of the war. The presence of a little bit of local history probably increased the impact of this book on me.

    I also found myself thinking about knitting at different points in the book. Now, nothing in this book is about knitting, but there's definitely a bit of shared history and tradition between Shetland and Norway - stretching back to the Viking age, of course, but also more recently. Both places are famous for their stranded knitting patterns, and though there are differences, there has always been a great deal of sharing of certain motifs between both places. As I neared the end of The Shetland Bus I found myself reaching for my needles.

    I wound up with a hat that I feel is part Norwegian in spirit and part Shetland-style, too. While the main motifs stand out in a single color, the background cycles through different colors. I've called it The North Sea in tribute to the fishermen of the Shetland bus, all of whom were incredibly brave, and many of whom found their final resting place at the bottom of that sea.

    I went down to Telegrafbukta to shoot the photos of the hat about two months ago, when it was still much snowier here. This park is one of my favorite spots in Tromsø, on the southwest side of the island right on the water. It was a windy day, so I found myself facing in one particular direction more than any other - it just so happens that I wound up looking toward the sunken wreck of the Tirpitz.

    Using multiple background colors with colorwork makes this an excellent hat for leftovers, and that is exactly what I used - leftover yarn I had on hand. It is for this reason that the hat is knit in an American yarn (Brooklyn Tweed Shelter) though I'd love to see it worked up in wool from Norway or Shetland as well. It's a great project for any worsted-weight leftovers you have in your stash. As written, the pattern uses a tubular cast on, but that can be swapped out for any other stretchy cast on you like, and otherwise it's quite straightforward.

    The one thing that's unusual is that normally I write hat patterns for multiple sizes, but due to the very large repeat used on this hat, the pattern is written for just one size. In this case I would suggest trying to adjust gauge by changing needles sizes if you'd like to make the hat smaller or larger, and keep in mind that gauge from knitter to knitter can vary substantially in stranded colorwork, so you'll probably find it useful to swatch first.

    The North Sea is available on Ravelry now. Head over to that page for all the technical details about the pattern.

    Comments
  • 42 norske kofter

    Today I'm thinking about kofter. This ubiquitous Norwegian word can feel difficult to properly translate, as it can describe several different pieces of clothing. Today I'm writing about it in the sense of "knitted cardigans" - you may have heard the word in connection with the famous lusekofte, or "lice jacket," from Setesdal. Kofte is the singular form, while kofter is the plural.

    Kofter are beloved here in Norway, and one glance at the knitting shelf of any bookstore will show it: titles like Kofteboken, Kofteboken 2, and Koftefest peer out at you. Last November another hit the shelves, called 42 norske kofter: fra Lindesnes til NordkappI saw it everywhere I went, and I finally picked up a copy for myself.

    This book was a project from Sandnes Garn, reworking many of their classic kofte patterns published in the mid-20th century by modernizing the fit, changing the sample yarn, or playing with the colors (while I don't have any of these old patterns in their original form, I do have a handful that were published by Husfliden and they're great fun). It also reflects the fact that patterns were often affiliated with specific regions in Norway, hence the subtitle "from Lindesnes to Nordkapp" (Lindesnes is at the southern tip of Norway while Nordkapp is the northermost point on the mainland). I've had some time to sit down with it this week and overall, I think it's pretty fantastic.

    Aside from the patterns, there's a lovely bit of introductory text at the beginning about kofter and their place in Norwegian history and society (seen in the photo above, with the heading "Kofter, yarn, and production"). It celebrates the resurgence of popularity these cardigans have experienced, and provides a nice quick historical overview as well as some information about the yarn production (specifically the production of Sandnes Garn, as they published the book). I love it when this type of information is included in pattern books, as it gets knitters thinking more about the production and sourcing of the materials they purchase at the yarn store, which can only be a good thing. Within the introduction, this quote stuck out (translation is mine):

    "Even though kofter are a Norwegian national treasure, the history of the kofte is actually quite international."

    I appreciate the acknowledgment that what's considered traditional to a place can often have far-flung roots. The authors write about the fact that the generally accepted origin for the word kofte is the Persian word kaftan, and they also note that the motifs and patterns used in these knitted cardigans sometimes came from or were inspired by people and traditions from abroad. 

    The patterns themselves are great, too. The forty-two patterns are effectively for 27 different cardigans, some of which are written up for both men and women, others of which are written up with two different constructions (one option for a drop shoulder cardigan and another for one with a round yoke). You get a glimpse of the original pattern photos and styling, which I think is fantastic too. 

    Eventually I'd like to knit at least one of the cardigans in this book, though I have a lot of knitting on my plate to finish before I can do that. Fortunately that means I have plenty of time to ruminate on my favorites and decide which would make the best addition to my wardrobe. (You can see photos of all the different cardigans on the Sandnes Garn page for the book.)

    The technical aspects are also fun to look at. Since this is a book full of cardigans worked up in stranded colorwork, you may have guessed that steeks are involved, and you'd be right. In the Norwegian tradition, though, two lines of reinforcing stitches are sewn by machine before cutting. In the case of a cardigan, it makes quite a lot of sense - machine stitches are excellent reinforcement for a button band that's going to see a lot of handling, and it's less bulky than a crocheted reinforcement. 

    Other technical information points to the self-reliance of Norwegian knitters. Having seen several patterns from the mid-20th century, I can say it's no wonder that the Norwegian word for a knitting pattern (as in "set of instructions to knit something") is oppskrift, the word for "recipe." The patterns in this book definitely contain more information than their original forms must have done, but still, only stitch gauge is given, not row gauge, and yarn quantities are listed in grams, not yardage or meterage (leaving the knitter to do some quick arithmetic if they plan to substitute yarns at all). I haven't actually worked from Norwegian patterns yet, so I find it interesting to compare these details with what I'm used to from the US.

    All in all I'm very excited about this addition to my knitting library!

    Comments
  • currently

    The daylight walks continue to be lovely. On clear days, the colors are unreal. The photo above was taken from Telegrafbukta, the park on the southwest side of Tromsøya. It continues to be one of my favorite places, and at this time of year it's the perfect place to watch the sunset. (I also finally saw the sun again on Friday! Momentous. Glorious. The days are growing longer at a fast clip now - this is the fun part.)

    School is already busy, but that's no shocker. In my downtime I'm managing to get a bit of knitting done. I finished my Toatie Hottie (no photos yet, though) and I've been working on several other projects, but most of those are the kind I can't show you yet (aka future patterns). So in lieu of that, here's some things I'd love to be joining in on if I had the time:

    Bang Out a Sweater over at Mason Dixon Knitting - Kay and Ann are leading a KAL of Mary Jane Mucklestone's Stopover, a beautiful lopapeysa. Cast on is tomorrow (February 1st), and it's probably a good thing I don't have time to join in, because I don't think "new lopapeysa" is really one of my pressing needs at the moment.

    I'd also love to join in on the Anna Vest KAL hosted by Fringe, starting February 15th. This is one of my favorite patterns from Farm to Needle and while I'm not sure a vest/waistcoat like this would be a perfect fit for my wardrobe, I'd still love to knit it someday (perhaps I could add sleeves, since I am in need of cardigans?). I'm really looking forward to the versions that come out of this knitalong - I'm expecting to see some cool yarn and color choices and I'll definitely be following along on social media.

    Both the Stopover and Anna Vest photos are by Kathy Cadigan.

    Comments
  • 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!

    Comments
  • aspen socks & legwarmers: making modifications & try on as you go

    My own copy of Farm to Needle came in the mail a week or so ago and I am blown away at how beautiful it is in person. I can't say thank you enough to Anna and everyone who made this book happen, and I am so incredibly grateful to be a part of it. I'm also completely in love with this Aspen legwarmer FO by Instagram user mandalu_who, knit in Snoqualmie Valley Yarn dyed with cabbage (and I'm amazed at how quickly she knit them up!). I can't wait to see more FOs, and to that end, this is a post I hope will be helpful for some knitters as they get ready to cast on for Aspen.

    A one-size pattern is difficult to pull off. It can be frustrating for knitters who need to hit measurements that differ from the schematic as written - and when it comes to legs, that's most of us. So perhaps Tolt and I were a bit crazy to publish a one-size pattern for high knee socks, but I spent a lot of time in the planning stages of Aspen considering the fact that this was a pattern that some people would need to modify. I did my best to construct the pattern in a way that would make it easier to tinker with, and I thought I'd outline a few of the things specifically designed with modifications in mind for any of you out there who need a hand with that step. I also drew up a quick sketch (very quick) to help with visualization.

    Customizable length: while I generally prefer to knit socks top-down, I decided Aspen should be toe-up (or bottom-up for the legwarmer version) so that the length was easy to customize. "Over the knee" for me, standing at six feet tall, is a longer sock than it is for someone who's five feet tall. A toe-up sock means that you can start the ribbing at the top of the sock wherever you want - mid-calf, below the knee, over the knee, wherever! The tubular bind off gives it a nice stretchy edge that should work for any length. Because the tubular bind off creates a reversible edge, the ribbing can be worn folded over, as well.

    Calf shaping: Both versions of Aspen feature a calf gusset that begins a few inches above the ankle. In order to create a gusset that would fit the widest range of sizes possible, I decided to work it in a 1x1 rib, so it would have a lot of give. If you find that the increase rate of the gusset as written isn't working for you, however, it's possible to adjust that, too. For a larger gusset, you can add extra repeats of the increase rounds - for a smaller one, you can omit one or more repeats. As written, the rate of increases corresponds to the diamond motif chart, but you can work increase rounds more often for a sharper increase angle, or less often for a gentler increase slope. Because the socks go over the knee, the gusset doesn't contain any decreases so as to fit over the lower thigh, but if the difference in circumference between your calf, your knee, and your lower thigh looks more like an hourglass, it's possible to add decreases to the calf gusset as well. 

    How to try-on-as-you-go with an afterthought heel: The sock version of Aspen is written for an afterthought heel, which means that the heel stitches are the last thing worked. Because waste yarn stitches are worked across the stitches where the heel will be placed, this typically means that the sock can't be tried on as you're knitting it. With a quick and simple trick, though, it is possible to try on a sock with an afterthought heel as you go.

    The two photos above show a sock in progress with a view of the sole of the foot/back of the leg. You can see a row of contrasting waste yarn stitches holding the place of the heel.

    The waste yarn stitches when working an afterthought heel act like a knitted in stitch holder. If you place the stitches in the rows direcly above and below the waste yarn on a new stitch holder, you can remove the original waste yarn and open up the heel. I like to use a new length of contrasting yarn to hold the stitches, since the yarn will remain flexible and it will be easier to actually try the sock on. Smooth yarns work best, particularly if you're knitting your socks with a grabby wooly wool. 

    First, thread the new length of waste yarn onto a tapestry needle (the new waste yarn is shown in red in the photos). The yarn should be long enough to go around both sides of the heel opening with extra length at the ends in case you want to tie a knot to secure the yarn.

    Beginning with the stitches on the sole of the foot (in plain stockinette), find the rightmost stitch knit in the original waste yarn - it should be in the form of a V. The sock yarn in the row below will have a stitch directly below this waste yarn stitch; thread the needle under the right leg of the V-shaped stitch.

    Skip over the left leg of the first stitch and thread the needle under the right leg of the next stitch to the left. Continue in this manner, working across the row. Picking up the right legs of the stitches will mean your stitches are oriented properly when it's time to work the heel and the stitches are put on needles.

    I like to thread the needle through a chunk of stitches and pull the yarn through - going in smaller chunks is easier than trying to pull the new waste yarn through the whole row at once. Make sure to leave a long enough tail at the end opposite the needle to be able to secure the waste yarn.

    The photo above shows you what it looks like when you've pulled the new waste yarn through all of the stitches on the sole of the foot. At this point, turn the sock 180 degrees so that the sole of the foot is farther away from you and the patterned leg is closer to you, as in the following photo:

    Now you can see that I have the new waste yarn coming from the right side, with my needle still threaded, ready to pick up the stitches from the leg side of the heel.

    This side is a little bit trickier, because when you begin knitting the heel, you'll be changing the direction of the knitting. It's a bit like picking up stitches from a provisional cast on to knit in the other direction. Don't worry too much if you wind up with an extra stitch or two on this side; you can always use a k2tog decrease on the first heel round to get back to the right stitch count (and it might even help you avoid holes).

    Begin picking up the right leg of each stitch as you did on the other side of the heel. It's a bit harder to see on this side, because the leg stitches are patterned in a mix of knits and purls, but as long as you get the needle through one leg of each stitch, you'll be okay. If any stitches wind up twisted when they're transferred to a needle, that's a simple enough fix.

    Once again, I like to pull the new waste yarn through periodically as I work my way across. At this point, it's easy to see why using two different colored waste yarns that contrast with each other can be super helpful - it's much easier to make sure I've actually threaded a stitch onto the new waste yarn (red) when it stands out so much from the original knitted-in waste yarn (blue).

    And here's what the heel section looks like after I've threaded all of the heel stitches onto the new waste yarn. You can see that the old waste yarn is completely surrounded by the new.

    At this point, we're ready to start pulling out the old waste yarn stitches, because the stitches in the rows above and below are secure.

    At this stage, I think slow and steady wins the race. I like to use the tapestry needle to unpick each old waste yarn stitch, one at a time. Going slow and paying attention means you'll be able to see if any of the heel stitches didn't make it onto the new waste yarn (if that's the case, pop a locking stitch marker or safety pin on the stitch so it doesn't drop). 

    As you work your way across the old waste yarn stitches, the heel starts to open up. It's easy to see now  on the open section how the new waste yarn acts like a stitch holder.

    When all of the old waste yarn stitches have been removed, the heel is completely open and the new waste yarn can be secured. I like to tie both strands together in a slip knot, which is easy to undo later on without scissors.

    Now that the heel is open, you can try on your sock-in-progress!

    When it's time to work the heel, you simply take the stitches on hold, slip them onto the needles, and remove the waste yarn acting as stitch holder. It's one of my favorite tricks!

    Comments
  • 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

    Comments
  • 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!

    Comments
  • in the queue: simple knits

    It's been wool weather off and on since I arrived in Tromsø, so there's been a lot of wearing of hats, scarves/cowls, and fingerless mitts. I have a lot of beautifully patterned accessories - textured knits or pieces featuring colorwork - and I love those, but I've realized I'm craving simple accessories at the moment. Pieces that are a single color and either plain stockinette or ribbing keep drawing my eye. I've updated my queue to reflect that, so here's what I'm currently daydreaming about casting on for:

    Fure by Olga Buraya-Kefelian. These were part of the first collection for Woolfolk yarn, and I've had it queued for awhile. I have the necessary yarn in my stash: two beautiful skeins of Tynd, in Pewter. I have a feeling these are going to be a tedious knit (the length plus the twisted rib pattern make for repetitive and fiddly knitting) but I love the end result so much. The length of these is especially appealing, too - the ability to wear them long, bunch them up, or fold over the top makes them really versatile. I'm hoping to pair them up with this cardigan, which has bracelet-length sleeves and has become a little bit of a uniform these days, but I expect by the time I actually get these knit I'll be needing heavier layers.

    Middle Fork by Veronika Jobe. This hat was released over the summer as part of the Camp Tolt collection and I even have one of the little leather sheep patches that can be sewn on (as seen here). Middle Fork feels like a perfect basic ribbed beanie and I love the FOs I've seen. The pattern calls for Green Mountain Spinnery Mewesic, a yarn I do not have on hand, but I thought one of the skeins of the Norwegian pelsull from Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk pictured above might make an excellent substitute. The pelsull was actually my first yarn purchase post-move, so I'd love to use it for something that's going to get a lot of wear. Now the only question is: which color?

    Do you have simple staples in your handknit wardrobe or do you tend toward more complicated knits? Or maybe you have a good mix of both? I'd love to hear about your favorite patterns for simple knits in the comments!

    Comments
  • ebba & berit

    If you happen to be subscribed to the Quince & Co. e-newsletter (or if you follow me on Instagram), then you've already seen that I have two new patterns out this week! Meet Ebba and Berit:

    I've gushed about my love for Quince & Co. on this blog before, so you can imagine how exciting it's been for me to work with them on these two patterns. I love Quince for their yarns, which are amazing to knit with, but I also love them for their commitment to ethically sourced American wool and to the U.S. fiber industry at large. Working with them has been a dream.

    I wrote a bit over on the Quince blog this week about the inspiration behind both designs, so I won't go into that too much here, but you can head over to the Quince blog to check that out.

    Both designs use Quince & Co. Chickadee, their sport-weight wool, in three colors. Both are definitely rooted in Norwegian knitting traditions as well, and make use of some traditional techniques many knitters may not have tried before: Ebba uses steeks to create the armholes for its drop shoulder sleeves, and Berit features embroidered embellishments. I've written a tutorial for working the steeks which can be found here (it's also linked both in the pattern and on my support & tutorials page).

    I'm so pleased for these patterns to be released in conjunction with my own move to Norway (somewhat serendipitously; Ebba was in the pipeline before I even knew I'd be moving!). And whether it's just the back-to-school timing or whether it was intentional, the book and specs (that resemble my own) used in the photoshoot felt like a nice little nod to my newfound status as grad student:

    This bespectacled student approves! I'm very much looking forward to working with Quince again in the future, and I hope you love these patterns as much as I do.

    Comments
  • things I'd like to knit

    September always brings a slew of new pattern releases and this year's no different. Here are a few I'm excited about at the moment.

    I've knit exactly three shawls in my life, all of which were relatively small (and one of which was a gift for someone else). I've never considered myself a shawl knitter, and yet I can't stop thinking about this new release from my friend Cory of Indie Knits. It's called Lupine, and those garter ridges combined with the little yarnover clusters is such an appealing combination for me. I'd love to knit it up in a solid or a heather, which would feel quite different than the variegated. I've been thinking about small shawls a lot since the move, so my new climate may actually turn me into a shawl knitter after all - and if it does, this will likely be the first.

    Karie Westermann is releasing The Hygge Collection over the course of this month, and while only the first pattern has been released so far and the second previewed, I love them. Karie lives in Glasgow but is originally from Denmark, and the collection centers around the Scandinavian concept of hygge“a feeling of comfort, cosiness, and happiness.” The collection will feature five patterns, and the first pattern, Fika, is another shawl (who am I?!), simple and beautiful, and I love that textured edge. The second pattern, which she's previewed, is a wonderful looking pair of fingerless gloves (you can see them here on Instagram). It seems like there's already a color story in place and I like where it's headed.

    I'm also daydreaming about cardigans a lot these days (still). At the moment I'm pretty keen on Abram's Bridge by Mer Stevens from the gorgeous new issue of Pom Pom Quarterly (the autumn issue does always seem to be the best one). How beautiful is that stitch pattern all over the back, and how gorgeous is that color? If I had all the time in the world, I'd love to be casting on for this. This issue of Pom Pom is great from front to back, too - they've dubbed it The Wool Issue, and there's a focus on small yarn producers who can often trace their wool back to the sheep it came from. I love the encouragement to seek out small producer yarns that are local to you (and often domestically sourced and produced), and to support the work they're doing. Abram's Bridge is knit up in Fancy Tiger Heirloom Romney, a perfect example: Amber and Jaime from Fancy Tiger went out west earlier this year to meet the sheep their wool comes from.

    None of these patterns are in my immediate queue, but when the weather changes, it is nice to daydream, isn't it? What are you daydreaming about casting on for?

    Comments
  • september bits

    September second marked one month in Tromsø for me. It also seems to be a seasonal milestone: in the past week there's been a noticeable change in the weather, almost like someone's flipped a switch. The air outside feels fresh and brisk. A few of the eager birches are starting to turn golden yellow, and the colors on the mountainsides have (just barely) started shifting from green to bronze. I turned on the heat in my apartment for the first time this week. As someone who grew up in North Carolina, where it always felt like it took aaages for fall to come around (especially since people started talking about it in August), I have to admit I'm enjoying the early shift. I'm already looking forward to snow appearing on the mountains nearby, and I'm very curious to see when the first snow in the city will be this year. We shall see!

    In an attempt to bottle up some of the remaining arctic summer, I made red currant jelly this week. I got the idea from Unlikely Pairing and then loosely followed the instructions on this blog. Highly recommended. Otherwise I've still been working on settling into the new apartment (we finally got some of the art up on the walls) and focusing on school. I've been scoping out study spots and I'm pretty sure I've found my favorite on campus.

    For those who are curious about what it is I'm doing in school, I wanted to point you toward this bit on BBC Radio 4 (streamable online through the end of the month). It's an episode of Fry's English Delight - and I love Stephen Fry - called English Plus One, all about bilingualism. The area I'm planning to focus on for my thesis is bilingual language acquisition in children, which is one of the topics that comes up. It's a half hour segment and interesting stuff for anyone who's interested in language.

    Finally, I've actually been able to start knitting again regularly! Some days it's a few minutes and others it could be an hour or two, but it's been so nice to be able to unwind with knitting again. The change in weather has certainly helped encourage me to pick it up this week.

    And speaking of knitting, some pieces of knitting news:

    - Karen has highlighted some of the creative mods knitters have made to Laurus over on the Fringe blog. You know I love mods, so I loved this post!

    - If you've ever wanted to knit yourself a Sundottir but you've been putting it off for whatever reason, you might want to join in on Fern Fiber's Sundottir KAL! Cast-on date is September 23rd and you can get the pattern for 10% off if you're joining in. Fern Fiber is a natural dye company run by Maria and Nikki (who you've probably heard before if you listen to the Woolful podcast - they're frequent Man on the Street contributors) and they'll also offering a limited number of yarn kits in the colors of your choice for the KAL. You can read up on the KAL details in their Ravelry group and check out the listing for the naturally dyed yarn kits on Etsy.  Fern Fiber hail from North Carolina (my home state!) and I'm so excited they've put this KAL together. It makes me wish I had time to take part (or that I needed another Sundottir).

    - Have you heard that Kate Davies has developed a yarn? I'm ecstatic about this news! It's called Buchaille and you can read all about it on her blog in a series of posts - everything from how they sourced the fiber (all Scottish), where is was scoured and prepped for spinning (with a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility), what kinds of colors will be included in the line, and more. There will, of course, be a collection of patterns to accompany the release of the yarn.

    Comments
  • 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.

    Comments
  • a day trip to harrisville, new hampshire

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

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

    a rainbow of Shetland wool on cones

    HD's own Watershed, a beautiful worsted weight

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

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

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

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

    --

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

    Comments
  • 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.

    Comments
  • new hat patterns!

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

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

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

    --

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

    Comments
  • some recent FOs

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

    First up: my very own finished Hearth Slippers

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

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

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

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

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

    --

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

    Comments
  • 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.

    Comments
  • 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!

    Comments
  • a vintage norwegian yoke

    Perhaps the posts about vintage yokes from Kate or Ella finally got to me, or perhaps it was just the siren song of the bright, bright teal, but I found myself impulse-buying this beautiful Norwegian yoke last weekend when I spotted it on the sidewalk rack of a local vintage shop.

    While the fit is a bit... let's say dated, and the sleeves are short (they're always short on me if I haven't made it myself), I really don't mind since the yoke is so striking and it'll be warm in the winter nonetheless. It's knit by hand, bearing the label "Maurtua," which was actually a handicrafts shop in Oslo that catered almost exclusively to tourists (which is probably how it made its way from Norway to Seattle). The address, Fridtjof Nansens Plass 9, is located in the semicircular plaza surrounding Oslo's city hall, and that storefront is actually still a souvenir shop today (though the current shop goes by the far more generic name of "Norway Shop"). 

    At any rate, I got curious about the pattern, which bears a notable resemblance to Unn Søiland Dale's famous "Eskimo" sweater. Those of you who have read Kate Davie's Yokes will recognize it from the chapter, "Greenlanders and Norwegians." If you don't have the book, Kate talks a bit about the sweater about halfway through this blog post.

    Unn Søiland Dale's "Eskimo" published by Sandnes 

    In any case, here's what I've managed to dig up looking for information about my own vintage yoke. It's almost a perfect match with one of the Husfliden pattens, number 419:

    (The image on the left is from Raumagarn, the older one on the right was found via this Pinterest user)

    A quick Google image search for "Martua Husflid" shows that Maurtua definitely made use of Husfliden 419, different iterations of which can be spotted on the image search page. While it's possible a pullover version of the pattern existed too, my best guess is that the knitter who made this sweater decided to make use of artistic license and modify the pattern. I must say I'm in favor of the design choices - the design looks great as a pullover rather than a cardigan, and the use of two different teal-blues gives the yoke a lovely depth that Norwegian knitting doesn't always achieve with its typically limited color palette (the same goes for the combination of light grey in addition to the main off-white color). The red is a sort of rusty brick red, less saturated than a candy apple red would be, which helps balance the yoke and keep the bright design from being too overwhelming. There are some chart differences as well, where the knitter appears to have embellished or modified existing motifs. The stripes at the ends of the ribbing at neck, cuffs, and hem are a nice touch. I love too how the stranded motif at the sleeve cuff echoes the motifs in the yoke without actually replicating them.

    I'm quite pleased with my new pullover - I love digging into the history and trying to track down the origins of a piece of knitting. Do you have any vintage favorites or hand-me-downs that bring you inspiration?

    --

    P.S. A very hearty thank you to all of your kind words about my Norway/grad school news. I am so excited to make this leap and your support and encouragement means the world to me. I've had a lot of people express hopes that I'll be writing about my adventure, and I'm absolutely planning to do that! Something to look forward to.

    Comments
  • 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!

    Comments
  • 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?

    Comments
  • lately

    There's been a lot going on behind the scenes for me recently, and I'll share more about that soon, but in the meantime, here are some things I've been up to lately:

    I started a pair of socks with some of the new Arne & Carlos sock yarn from Regia. I've never been one for self-patterning yarns, but this line - and this colorway in particular - totally won me over. The colorways are all inspired by paintings by Edvard Munch with ties to the Norwegian landscape through the seasons. The colorway pictured above is called Summer Night, and I basically want to live in it.

    -

    I've been thinking about sewing quite a bit (after all, Me Made May is coming up). I'm so pleased with how this Chardon skirt I finished a month ago turned out, box pleats, pockets and all. I haven't had a chance to sew anything since, but I did buy a walking foot for my machine so that I can try out sewing with knits. I have a striped grey knit fabric I was originally planning to use for a Linden, but I've decided it's going to be a Hemlock tee instead, because that seems more beginner friendly and still totally fits with my wardrobe. If you have any advice for sewing knits without a serger, I'm all ears! 

    But back to the Chardon skirt (or Jupe Chardon, as Deer and Doe is a French company) for a moment. This is marketed as a beginner pattern but even so, it was kind of a big project for me. There's not a ton of guidance on how to deal with pressing the box pleats, and the belt loop instructions are literally just a sentence telling you to sew on the belt loops. I know in this modern age of internet tutorials and craft blogging we can expect a lot of hand holding, but if you're taking on these skills for the first time, expect to spend some time doing research on the best ways to go about it. Still - the box pleats and belt loops are acceptable, if not fantastic, and the skirt is super wearable!

    I used an amazing fabric I picked up at Drygoods Design - this Pickering International organic lightweight duck cloth in grey (which now appears to be sold out). It's a 45/55 blend of recycled hemp and organic cotton, so it's going to make a fabulous warmer weather skirt (and it's been doing great in the winter to spring transition with a pair of tights). I love this fabric and would definitely work with it again. Perhaps it's the hemp in it, but it manages to hold the pleats well it doesn't wrinkle anywhere near as easily as a plain cotton or cotton/linen blend would.

    If I make this skirt again (and I might, because it's so versatile) I may add a little bit of length. I have a high waist on a 6' (182cm) frame, so the hem falls a few inches higher above my knees than might be ideal, proportionally. But I'd love a version of this skirt in a darker color - maybe a charcoal or a navy? Or even black?

    You can check out the photos in more detail with some progress notes over on my project page on Kollabora.

    -

    And lastly, the main recent development in my world is that spring has come screaming into Seattle. It came early this year for us (sorry, east coasters - especially you Mainers who I know just got more snow) and the whole city has been in bloom for weeks. I can't deny I've been enjoying it; Seattle on a sunny day in spring or summer is one of the most beautiful places on earth. I hope spring is finding its way into your world, too!

    Comments
  • vintage knits

    I enjoyed Karen's post that went up today over at Fringe about the vintage sweater booklets sent to her by a friend. I had to smile to myself, because yesterday I'd pulled out what is probably my oldest piece of knitting paraphernalia - and I was largely inspired to do that because of the waistcoat Karen's currently knitting from a vintage pattern.

    The booklet I pulled out to look at again was published Bear Brand & Bucilla in 1922 - it belonged to my great grandmother, who taught my mother to knit, and was passed down to me by my mother, who thought I'd enjoy it (and she was right). Like the Jack Frost booklets Karen wrote about, the booklet's near falling apart (in fact, the cover is completely detached) and there's ancient yellowed tape holding together pages that were torn long ago.

    I don't know much about Bear Brand or Bucilla yarns, but apparently they were both under the umbrella of the Bernhard Ulmann Co. As you can see, my booklet is volume 41. I love that this was early enough they were spelling it "yarnkraft" (cursory Google searches seem to indicate that this later became "yarncraft," as we would now expect).

    I also love how very twenties this whole booklet is. There's a heavy focus on sportswear, with scenes of golf, skiing, and bathing at the beach worked in, but I think a lot of the pieces included are absolutely wearable today. Designs for women, men, and children are included (and there's even a dog sweater), in both knit and crochet. Here's a sampling:

    (click this one to make it larger)

    How contemporary is that beautiful striped pullover? I adore it.

    Knitters of the twenties would appreciate my current obsession with garter stitch, I think.

    But perhaps my favorite piece in the whole booklet is:

    "A practical sweater which successfully meets the demand for both sport and general wear," with optional shawl collar version. Practical indeed.

    I've never actually knit from a vintage pattern but I'd love to someday, regardless of the challenges they present for the modern knitter (how to substitute yarns, how to make sense of terminology and abbreviations that may have changed over the decades, how to achieve the right size, etc.). I'm definitely looking forward to seeing Karen's finished waistcoat, and I'd love to see any projects you all might have knit or crocheted using vintage patterns.

    Comments
  • trapping long floats in stranded colorwork

    One of the questions I get most often from students or knitters working from my patterns is how to trap floats in stranded colorwork. I thought it would be a good idea to finally address this issue!

    Firstly: what is a float, and why would I need to “trap” it?

    “Float” is a common term for the strand of yarn that runs across the back of colorwork fabric - the strand that makes colorwork stranded. This distinguishes it from other colorwork methods like mosaic knitting or intarsia. Typical stranded colorwork motifs are worked with two different colors per round, with the colors changes happening often (this keeps the floats short). Some motifs, however, involve longer floats - and long floats are exceptionally good at catching on fingers, jewelry, or other things that can work their way between the knitted fabric and the float. So for knitted fabric that’s likely to come into things that may catch on floats, like fingers and toes, we must trap or catch long floats to anchor them to the fabric. 

    Here’s a visual for you:

    In the swatch pictured above, there are two long floats where the blue yarn is stranding across twelve stitches on the wrong side of the fabric. The long float pictured at the top of the swatch is trapped twice so that the blue float never carries across more than four stitches (it looks like three shorter floats instead). The long float pictured at the bottom of the swatch isn't trapped at all, so it's floating across all twelve stitches. You can see how much easier it is to catch a finger (or a toe, or a hand) on the open, un-trapped float:

    So, if I’m knitting a piece that has long floats, how often should I trap them? I get this question a lot, and it’s a tricky one to answer. Some teachers use hard-and-fast rules, like “never carry a float more than five stitches without trapping it.” Some teachers tell you not to go more than three stitches. Personally, I don’t like this approach. It may sound precise at first, but when you think about it, gauge makes this an incredibly imprecise way to go about it. A float carried across five stitches in fingering weight is a much shorter float than one carried across five stitches in bulky yarn. If you must use a general rule, going by length in inches or cm is a better way to go (e.g. making sure no floats are longer than 1” or something similar). 

    That being said, if a rule doesn’t jive with your personal preferences, that’s perfectly fine! I don’t enjoy trapping floats very much, as it slows down my knitting and can affect the look of my knitted fabric, and I’ll avoid it if I can get away with it. The most important thing is to consider what kind of item you’re knitting, and who’s going to be wearing/using it. A pattern like Pine Bough Cowl is worked in a tube and then grafted together, so the floats on the inside of the tube will never be exposed one it’s finished - there’s really nothing they can get caught on. No need to trap floats there. A baby sweater or a pair of mittens, however, will provide ample opportunity for fingers to catch on floats, so trapping those floats is a good idea. There’s a big difference between a knitted bag you’ll sew a lining into and a pair of mittens or socks. Use your best judgment and go with what you’re comfortable with! 

    Now that we’ve covered when it’s a good idea to trap floats - how do we actually do it? In reality, there are a few different methods, but I’ll be demonstrating what I think is the most common below. Because I’m a continental knitter and I carry both yarns in my left hand, that series of photos is first, but if you scroll down you’ll also find a series of photos demonstrating the same technique in the two-handed method, with one yarn carried in each hand.

    I’ll be using my Hearth Slippers to demonstrate in the photos, as this pattern involves a very long float the first time you work Chart C. I’m working the Large size, and the float is carried across 21 stitches. The charcoal grey is the working yarn for that length, while the light blue yarn is being carried across the back (the “floating” yarn). In this example, the dominant yarn is the floating yarn, while the background yarn is the working yarn. (Wondering what the “dominant yarn” is? You can read about color dominance here.)

    CARRYING BOTH YARNS IN THE LEFT HAND 

    I’m trapping my float every 6th stitch as I work across the span of charcoal grey, but you could trap every 5th or 4th stitch as well. You can see in the photo above that I’ve worked the first 5 stitches of my 21-stitch span.

    Insert your right-hand needle into the next stitch, but don’t wrap your working yarn around the needle yet.

      

    Slide your right-hand needle underneath the floating strand (blue), then wrap the working yarn (charcoal) around your needle to knit the stitch.

     

    If you stop here and look at your float, you’ll see that it’s caught in the space between the stitch you just knit and the previous stitch. You’ve effectively trapped the float already!

    Go ahead and knit the next stitch normally. When carrying both yarns in the left hand, you may need to use your thumb to hold the floating yarn (blue) out of the way. After knitting this stitch, I have 7 stitches of my 21-stitch span knit. My blue floating yarn is trapped on either side of the 6th stitch. This is a very secure way to trap the float.

    Here’s a closer look at what that looks like from the wrong side of the fabric:

    You can see how the float is trapped at the sixth charcoal grey stitch.

    And you can see these steps in action here:

    trapping long floats - carrying both yarns in your left hand from Dianna on Vimeo.

    CARRYING YARNS WITH THE TWO-HANDED METHOD

    In this example, the dominant color, carried in my left hand, is the contrasting color (blue), while the background color, carried in my right hand, is the main color (charcoal). The background color/main color is also my working yarn here, while the dominant/contrasting color is being carried across the wrong side of the work.

    I’m trapping my float every 6th stitch as I work across the span of charcoal grey, but you could trap every 5th or 4th stitch as well. You can see in the photo above that I’ve worked the first 5 stitches of my 21-stitch span.

    Insert your right-hand needle into the next stitch, but don’t wrap your working yarn around the needle yet.

    Slide your right-hand needle underneath the floating strand (blue), then wrap the working yarn (charcoal) around your needle to knit the stitch.

    If you stop here and look at your float, you’ll see that it’s caught in the space between the stitch you just knit and the previous stitch. You’ve effectively trapped the float already!

    Go ahead and knit the next stitch normally. After knitting this stitch, I have 7 stitches of my 21-stitch span knit. My blue floating yarn is trapped on either side of the 6th stitch. This is a very secure way to trap the float.

    Here’s a closer look at what that looks like from the wrong side of the fabric:

    You can see how the float is trapped at the sixth charcoal grey stitch.

    And you can see these steps in action here:

    trapping long floats while using the two-handed stranded colorwork method from Dianna on Vimeo.

    --

    There are other ways to trap floats, but in my experience, this is the most common (and it's a pretty simple way to trap floats as you're working, so there's less finishing after the fact). If you finish knitting something and only then realize that you should have trapped the long floats - don't worry! It's possible to trap those long floats as you're weaving in ends after the fact (and if there isn't a long end to weave in where you need to trap a float, you can take a spare bit of leftover yarn and just weave it into the wrong side of the fabric as if it were an end, trapping the floats as you go).

    Feel free to post questions in the comments, or share other tips or methods you know of!

    Comments
  • 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?

    Comments
  • 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.)

    Comments
  • cardigans, or a lack thereof

    Karen's post on cardigans this week has me thinking again about a subject I'm often thinking of these days: the dearth of handknit cardigans in my life. I wear cardigans all the time, but they're mostly store-bought fine gauge knits, and I'd love to change that. While I've knit a few cardigans, none of them make it into totally regular rotation in my wardrobe. My first was this little cropped number, the Hexacomb cardigan by Katie Himmelberg, originally published in Interweave's spring 2008 issue:

    The resulting cardigan was super cute, and I liked my color choices (heck, I still love to wear grey and green all the time), but despite that I rarely wore it. I think I wore it two or three times before deciding to give it away to a friend who commented on really loving it (she ended up wearing it way more than I did, so I'm happy it found a good home). There were a few reasons for this. The body of Hexacomb is knit in one piece, which meant long rows that took me forever to knit, and between having to then knit and seam the sleeves into place and pick up button bands, I procrastinated a lot. This little cardigan took me about ten months to finally finish - it felt like a neverending project! At any rate, it left my wardrobe and took my handknit cardigan total back to zero.

    Other cardigans I've knit for myself include the prototype for Elskling, which was knit for my wedding, my delightfully oversized Michiyo cardigan, my Faire du Vélo bike sweater, and Svalbard. Svalbard is the closest thing to an everyday cozy cardigan, and it gets worn all the time because I love it, but I find myself thinking often these days of something a little more traditional in construction that's perfect for wearing around the house whether I'm working or spending a lazy Sunday reading. A search of my Ravelry favorites yields many potential options, but this time I want to take my time choosing a sweater to knit. Given my history with cardigans, I want to make sure I'm choosing a sweater that I'll want to reach for all the time once it's done - rather than choosing a pattern because I think it's beautiful/intriguing/fun to knit. I think this kind of decision-making can be one of a knitter's greatest challenges.

    So I've been asking myself some questions: what do I want in an everyday wear-around-the-house cardigan? Ideally: something long in length, with button bands and buttons, and in a perfect world, pockets. Here are some options I'm considering:

    Clockwise from top left: Edith by Pam Allen, from her new Home collection; Picea by Andrea Rangel; Aureus by Michele Wang; and Chocolate Stout by Thea Colman.

    There are a lot of features I'm interested in here: length, pockets, buttons. In all cases there are modifications I would make, but then, freedom to make modifications is the beauty of knitting something yourself! Still, as great as these options are, and against my better judgment, I can't stop thinking about this number:

    You may remember it from the Fred Perry controversy of 2013. Even though the "pattern" isn't truly a viable pattern, I'm still in love with this sweater. Given the incompleteness of the pattern file and its lack of sleeves (interestingly, the PDFs are all still accessible on the Fred Perry server), this would involve drawing out some charts for myself and doing a lot of math - basically reverse-engineering the thing. In a way, that's a little bit appealing; it would be a way to put my designer brain to work without having to come up with a cardigan design on my own, and I could use a little hand-holding in what seems to be a difficult area for me (cardigans). But it also seems a little crazy when there are so many wonderful cardigan patterns out there. I'd like to sit on it a little bit and see if my interest is holding - I think my fixation on it has something to do with the Amanda KAL that Fringe has been putting on for the last several months (aka the #fringeandfriendsknitalong).

    What about you? Is there an obvious hole in your handknit wardrobe? How do you tackle that?

    Comments
  • combatting tight colorwork

    Happy Monday, everyone! This post took a little bit longer to put together than I wanted, but it's finally ready to go! It's a lot to read through, but I hope you find it helpful and please let me know if you still have questions about this topic by the end.

    One of the most common problems knitters encounter when starting to knit in stranded colorwork is tight knitting. There are a few reasons for this, but the big one is that colorwork fabric by its very nature is less elastic than normal stockinette. This is due to the strands being carried across the back of the work (the "floats") - unlike knit stitches, these strands don't really stretch that much, so the stretch of the overall fabric you're creating is much less.

    That being said, there's a great deal of variation in how stretchy colorwork fabric is from knitter to knitter. In fact, for a single knitter, there's variation in how stretchy their colorwork fabric can be, depending on:

    • what type of yarn the knitter is using
    • how the knitter is holding/carrying the yarns
    • how much space the knitter leaves between stitches
    • whether the knitter is working on DPNs or circular needles

    It's important to consider the elasticity of your colorwork fabric, and to remember that it won't necessarily correspond with your gauge - since gauge is measured with the fabric "resting" (i.e. not stretched out), there's no indication of whether or not your knitting will be stretchy. This means you can "get gauge" for a pattern like Hearth Slippers but still have trouble with the fit if your fabric is too inelastic.

    My first tip to help knitters keep their colorwork tension easy and even is always to stretch out the stitches that were just worked along the right needle as you're working on your project. This gives you a chance to check your floats - are they too long? too short? - and it also allows you to evenly space out your stitches. You want there to be just as much space between stitches of two different colors as there is between stitches of the same color. This helps increase the elasticity. If you're working on DPNs, you can do this at the end of each needle; if you're working with circs (or over a large circumference, like a sweater yoke) you may want to check it at even intervals: every 8 stitches or so (or 6 stitches, or 10 stitches; whatever works for you!). You'll be better able to adjust your tension as you go along, and you'll catch things that need fixing without having to work backwards too far. (Side note: it's always better to have floats that are a little long than a little short - you can always draw in the slack when you're weaving in ends, but you can't make a short float longer.)

    Stitches just knit spaced out along the right needle.

    If you've tried this out and you still think your colorwork is coming out too tight, roll up your sleeves and get ready to try a few different methods, keeping in mind that some things may work for you and some may not; there's a lot of trial and error in knitting! Here are some things to consider:

    Smoother yarns are closer to the top of the list, while stickier wools are towards the bottom.

    1. Yarn choice. Because of the physical nature of wool, wool fibers like to grab other wool fibers (this is what causes felting when wool is exposed to heat/agitation). Some wools are "grabby" or "sticky" and some are much smoother (the method used to spin the yarn also affects this - worsted spun yarns are much smoother than woolen spun yarns). This always affects the knitted fabric you're creating, but it affects colorwork even more. Some wools that are known for colorwork are very sticky wools, like Shetland wool or Lopi. This is also part of why steeking is so common in these places - sticky wools are unlikely to unravel when the stitches are cut. But because sticky wools are more likely to stay in place and the yarn is less likely to slide smoothly past other strands, the finished fabric is generally less elastic than it would be with smooth wools (and it can be tricky for colorwork beginners to achieve smooth results without puckering). Conversely, depending on the knitter, a very smooth yarn can also cause less elastic knitting because it will be easy to pull your stitches tight without meaning to as the smooth yarn fibers slide right past each other. The amount of elasticity you can achieve will also depend on how the yarn was spun and how many plies it has. A yarn like Quince & Co. Chickadee is smooth and springy, because it's worsted spun with three plies. Lopi, on the other hand, is typically woolen spun and a single ply, which means it just won't stretch as much. Some knitters will have an easier time with smooth wools while others will have an easier time with sticky ones. If you're having trouble with tight colorwork you may want to try working with a different type of yarn or wool than you've used before to see if that makes a difference.

    2. Needle type and needle material. If you've listened to episode one of the knit.fm podcast, you know that needle type can affect gauge. Needle material (e.g. wood, metal, plastic) and needle type (e.g. circular needles, double pointed needles) can make a great difference in colorwork - wood, metal, and plastic all have different levels of resistance, and gauge often differs between circular needles and double pointed needles (in general, knitters tend to end up with a tighter gauge on DPNs). Every knitter is different, so while some people knit tighter on wooden needles, others knit tighter on metal needles. Play around with different needle types if you're not sure which category you fit into. If you've tried working colorwork on DPNs and found it to be too tight, try knitting a swatch on circular needles (either two circs or with the magic loop method) to see if that changes your gauge or elasticity. You can always try going up a needle size, as well - many people need to adjust needle size between stockinette sections and colorwork sections when using the same yarn.

    To demonstrate the difference that needle type can make, I have two swatches that I knit: both are unblocked, but both were knit with the exact same yarn on the exact same needle sizes:

    While the difference isn't huge at first glance, and these measurements are pretty quick-and-dirty rather than precise, the swatch on top is noticeably narrower than the swatch on the bottom when both are measured flat. The swatch on top was knit on bamboo DPNs, while the swatch on the bottom was worked on two metal circular needles. The bottom swatch will definitely block out to the 8" circumference I'm aiming for, but the top swatch will likely be too small. Knit a few small swatches with different needle types/materials and see if it makes a difference for you!

    3. Carrying yarn. There are several different ways to manage carrying multiple yarns for colorwork knitting - carrying both yarns in the left hand, carrying both in the right hand, holding one yarn in each hand, carrying one yarn at a time, using a stranding guide, and the list goes on! If there's one thing I've learned from my students, it's that knitters are all over the map as far as which method works best for them. Many folks swear by the two-handed method while others prefer to carry both yarns in one hand (with or without a stranding guide). If you haven't tried more than one method, you may not have found your perfect match yet! Remember that there are no rules here and experimentation is key - trying a new method often feels awkward at first, and your gauge may shift as you settle into it, but until you've given it a shot, how can you say it won't work?

    Plastic and metal stranding guides

    4. Knitting inside out. It may sound crazy, but many folks solve the tight colorwork issue by working their colorwork tubes inside out! The reason for this is that the outer circumference of a tube is larger than the inner circumference - perhaps not by much, but with the thickness of colorwork fabric, you'd be surprised - and turning your work inside out positions the floats on the outside of the tube (i.e. the larger circumference). This is more likely to keep them long, and it also keeps them visible, so you can constantly check your tension as you're working. It can be tricky to visualize, but with the work turned inside out, you're working on the far side of the tube, rather than the near side. It may take some trial and error to get the hang of it, but I've seen this method yield results for several people.

    Here's a bird's eye view to help you visualize the difference between normal (right side out) circular knitting and inside out circular knitting. You can see where the working yarns meet the needles:

    The biggest thing to remember is to be patient with yourself! If you're tense, your knitting often shows it. Try out some of these techniques in the evening with a glass of wine or whatever else relaxes you. And keep in mind that mistakes are an important part of the process: we can learn from them.

    If you have any other tips for easing up tight colorwork, I'd love to hear them in the comments!

    Further reading / listening / watching:

    If you want to explore this issue in further depth, I recommend checking out some of the following links to blog posts, videos, and books. (If you're on a budget, don't forget you can always check your local library for books.)

    On different yarn types:
    Knit.fm episode 5: Yarn [podcast]
    Knit.fm episode 6: More Yarn [podcast]
    Sue Blacker on Woollen vs Worsted mill spinning on wovember.com
    The Knitter's Book of Yarn and The Knitter's Book of Wool by Clara Parkes
    "Part Seven: Materials" from The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt

    On working in stranded colorwork:
    "Part Three: Decorative Techniques" from The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt, particularly pp. 256-266 (2012 edition)
    Colorwork knitting inside out for socks from Melissa B [video]
    Tips, Tricks and Treats from Eunny Jang

    On gauge:
    Knit.fm episode 1: Gauge [podcast]
    How to Measure Your Gauge in Knitting from Craftsy.com

    Comments
  • project prioritization: managing WIPs

    With both Jen and Karen writing about handmade wardrobe planning in the last week, I can't help but find myself thinking about the things I'm wanting/planning to make as well. I have fabric and patterns ready to go for a Deer and Doe Chardon skirt and a Grainline Linden sweatshirt, and the list of sweaters I want to cast on for right now is only getting longer (I'm also seriously thinking about joining in on Andi's Selfish Sweater KAL, because I really want a Chuck, not to mention the cabled fisherman's cardigan I'm dreaming of knitting with Snoqualmie Valley Yarn, neither of which I actually have the yarn for, but let's stop while we're ahead...).

    Still, having just finished a pretty serious Paper Tiger studio overhaul in which rearranging the space became a catalyst for some serious and necessary organization and sorting/purging, I also find myself wanting to set more practical and useful goals for the coming months.

    I posted over a year ago about wanting to finally finish some long-suffering WIPs, and while five of the six projects I posted there are actually finished now (hooray!), my habit of having way too many projects going at once has only gotten worse. Last year I hovered around 12 projects going at once for most of the year. I think I'm finally under ten (personal, not work) projects, which feels huge, but having so many hibernating projects is really starting to get to me. While there are many things I'd like to be knitting and sewing for my own wardrobe right now, I think my own to-knit list should really involve prioritizing these WIPs, so I can get back to focusing on just a few projects at once. 

    I'd love to hear any advice about managing projects and WIPs. Do you have a system? Do you put a moratorium on casting on for a certain amount of time? Do you ever end up just ripping anything out? I'm all ears!

    Comments
  • a new year, tutorials, & yokes

    Happy 2015! I hope everyone's new year has gotten off to a good start. I must admit since getting home (and it is so good to be home again) that I've been swept up in the new-year-fresh-slate-mindset a little bit. I decided to give in to that impulse this year, knowing that some of the changes I've made this first week/month of the year will stick, and some won't; some will probably come and go depending on the weather/my mood/the time of year/any other number of things. It's hard not to feel good about taking steps to make positive changes in my life, though. Three mornings in a row of yoga (which is kicking my butt but still manages to make me feel amazing) followed by a huge green smoothie feels like a great start, even if I can't keep it up every day moving forward.

    I've been slowly working my way back into work this week - I always have a hard time getting back into a good work flow after traveling - so there's been a lot more studio organizing and a lot less hands-on work. The good news is that's given me a chance to start planning a schedule for the tutorials I'm hoping to start posting soon. I'm aiming to address a lot of the most common questions I get about my patterns, so there will be a definite focus on colorwork! I'm hoping to cover things like different provisional cast ons and grafting together ends (used for Pine Bough Cowl and Inkling), working the thumb gusset increases for a Norwegian-style mitt/mitten (as in Seven Stars), as well as some more general colorwork stuff like how to trap long floats and ways to combat tight colorwork. If there's anything in particular you'd like to see me cover, please let me know! I'll make sure to add it to my list. 

    --

    One of the most exciting things about getting home was finally being able to crack into my copy of Yokes, the beautiful new book by Kate Davies I've been posting about. I have no idea which sweater I'll knit first, or even when I'll have time to cast on for one, but in the meantime the wonderful essays should keep me busy! I had the opportunity to read through the second chapter, "Greenlanders and Norwegians," in advance; Kate and I did some writing back and forth about this topic and I was able to translate a few small pieces of one of the chapters in Ren Ull to help her find some information she was missing about some iconic Norwegian yokes. It was a thrill after helping her with the research to see how amazingly she tied everything together and was able to draw through-lines I wouldn't have seen otherwise, and I'm so excited to read the other pieces of writing in the book. Thank you so much to Kate for the engaging conversations and for putting such a wonderful book out into the world.

    You can view all 11 patterns from Yokes on Ravelry, and you can purchase your own copy here.

    Comments
  • 2-0-1-4

    Tomorrow is my birthday.

    I've always liked how neatly the years of my life line up with the years on the calendar; there's something very tidy about being the same age for an entire calendar year. I also haven't had to throw myself a birthday party for years - I get to celebrate with the whole world, welcoming a new year, without the focus being on me (which is kind of the best of both worlds). After 2014, I find myself at a little bit of a crossroads, trying to figure out where I want my future to take me. I've had a very good year, and it's been a great year for Paper Tiger, but in a very different way than 2013 was. At this juncture, I am especially grateful to all of you who make what I do possible. Your support means the world to me. It's such a joy to see your projects, to listen to your suggestions, to think of new ways to tackle your questions. I feel like I have learned so much and grown so much as a knitter and a designer. So thank you for that.

    Inspired by Karen's post about her knitting year in review, I started to assemble a folder of finished knits for the year, and it's insane to realize how absurd my output has gotten. Excluding things I've knit that are for patterns that are still under wraps, there's 27 finished objects. Adding in things I can't share yet bumps the total up to about 32 items, I think.

    One of my goals for this year was to do more personal non-work knitting. I think I succeeded with flying colors. Next year's goal is to take it easy a little bit. 

    This leaves out current WIPs entirely, but if you're super curious, you can always check out my Ravelry project page. I managed to finish some long-suffering WIPs this year, but I still have too many things on the needles. I'd like to get that down to a sane, manageable number.

    I'm looking forward to working on more patterns in 2015 (I only released four proper patterns this year) and I'm looking forward to more teaching - the Nordic Knitting Conference and my workshop at Knit Purl were definitely highlights this year. I'm also looking forward to my future becoming a little more certain; I've applied to go back to school, and while I await decisions from schools I'm trying to decide what my next move will be if any of the programs offer me a place.

    As for this space, you can look forward to more patterns and more blogging - I have a series of tutorial posts I'm starting to put together, based on the most common questions I get about patterns. I'm looking forward to getting some of that up. Thank you again for your continued support, and I wish you all a very happy new year!

    Comments
  • a quadrillion stitches

    I remember moments from before I was a knitwear designer, particularly when I was in college (and probably putting off writing a paper), when I would be knitting something and think to myself, Wouldn't it be awesome if I could just knit all the time? Wouldn't it be great if that was my job? I don't think I'm alone in that, but it's the minority that actually decides to turn knitting into their job. It probably takes a certain amount of crazy, and I guess I've got that.

    Of course, the reality of being a knitwear designer, even for the handknitting industry, involves a lot more than just knitting. It involves a lot of math, for example (that's okay, I like math). Pattern writing, photography, formatting, editing, pattern support, teaching and putting together tutorials... the list goes on. Still, for most of us, it also involves a lot of knitting. One of the things I didn't realize before I started working professionally in this industry was how my relationship with knitting, and my own skillset, would change. I was a fast knitter to begin with, but I got faster. The sheer amount of stuff I'm technically able to crank out is kind of mind-boggling. For me, this has led to a tendency to have too many projects going at once - like, twelve or more - because the faster I knit the more things I want to cast on. In theory, it sounds like a great ability, to be able to fly through projects, but I think it's not all it's cracked up to be. The more things I knit, and the more it feels like my own personal production line, the less special each knitted item is. I don't always have time to get to know the piece as I work with it.

    And then there's work knitting vs. personal knitting; even when I'm publishing a pattern in-house and the sample will be staying with me, it feels very different when I'm knitting a piece for work than when I'm knitting a purely personal project (which may be for me or for some other recipient, but it's not for work). I certainly wouldn't claim that all designers feel this way - I have no idea how most other designers feel about it, really - this is just my experience. And so it's important for me to have personal projects to work on or I  start to forget why I love knitting in the first place. And as I've come to this realization in the course of the last year, I've realized that many of my favorite knits are the ones I'm forced to go slow with: big projects without deadlines that might get set aside for awhile. Other knits may come and go, but that kind of project is always there for you (corny, I know, but true). Not only do those projects require patience, but they won't end up in a trunk show winging their way around the country at any point. While it's incredibly fun to think of one of my samples traveling the country, and I'm incredibly proud of the work that I do, at the end of the day, my favorite knitting is the knitting that isn't work.

    All of that was a wordy, rambling way to introduce a recent FO that I'm pretty enamored with. When the autumn issue of Pom Pom Quarterly came out last year in 2013, I immediately fell in love with Quadrillion by Meghan Fernandes. I knew I wanted to make myself one, but I was right in the middle of getting my F/W collection ready, in addition to prepping for my booth at Knit Fit and getting ready to promote my patterns in Wool People 6 and the winter issue of Pom Pom. I knew it would have to wait a little while.

    Meghan's version is knit in a beautiful vibrant blue from The Uncommon Thread, a light DK-weight Blue Faced Leicester which is probably lovely to work with, but I realized at some point in January that I already had the yarn I wanted to make this with. My booth at Knit Fit last year was right across the walkway from Jorstad Creek, and there was a great big pile of beautiful grey wool that kept catching my eye. Sometime during the second day of the marketplace, I walked over and purchased a sweater's quantity of undyed Finnsheep wool yarn, a sport weight, without having any idea at the time what I would make with it. Two or three months later I had figured it out. Woolly cables! By March, I'd swatched and cast on for the front.

    Cables slow me down anyway, so perhaps this project was destined to be a slow one. Eight (!) different cables run up the front (not quite a quadrillion, but it felt like it at some moments), with different repeat lengths requiring judicious use of post-its or washi tape to keep track of one's place. The front was the slowest, and it got pushed aside at several different points when projects with deadlines cropped up, or I was traveling, or I was working on my Svalbard, or I just got tired of cables. I finished the front in September, and then I had the back and the sleeves knit within the next two months. But then it was done! And I've been wearing it nearly nonstop ever since.

    A lot of the knitting that I do doesn't challenge me anymore, which is great from the standpoint of needing to get samples knit by deadlines, and that kind of thing, but not as great when I consider what I like about the act of knitting, and about learning about knitting. In a technical sense, this sweater wasn't necessarily a challenge, but it challenged me in other ways, particularly in my patience and commitment. My investment was greater, and I think that's part of why the reward of wearing it is so sweet.

    The work/life balance is still a constant struggle for me, as it is for many who are self-employed or working on a freelance basis, but I'm working on it. Special thanks to my friend Lee for the photos!

    Pattern: Quadrillion, by Meghan Fernandes
    Yarn: Jorstad Creek Finnsheep Wool
    I made the second-smallest size, and other details like needle sizes used and modifications can be found on my Ravelry project page. The hat I'm wearing is Fjordland, from Pom Pom Winter 2013.

    Comments
  • 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.

    Comments
  • 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!

    Comments
  • seven stars / knit purl

    Last weekend I had the great pleasure of heading to Portland, Oregon to teach a colorwork workshop at Knit Purl downtown - based on a new pattern for colorwork mitts I have out!

    Seven Stars is a pair of fingerless mitts that combines Spincycle's Dyed in the Wool with stranded colorwork to create a pattern of colorwork with slow color gradients. I love watching the colors shift as these mitts knit up. The pattern is written for three sizes (small, medium, large) and further adjustments could be made using gauge.

    For those unfamiliar with Spincycle Yarns and their Dyed in the Wool, it's a small-batch mill-spun yarn that looks and feels like a handspun. To use Spincycle's words, "Dyed In The Wool represents the fulfillment of our desire, here at Spincycle headquarters, to merge the beauty and texture of a handspun yarn with a more efficiently produced millspun yarn." They collaborate with a mill on Camano Island here in western Washington state: Spincycle dyes the fiber before it's sent to the mill to be spun - hence the dyed in the wool bit - and then the mother-daughter team at the mill spins it up! The result is a gorgeous plied yarn with unique colorways that truly looks like a handspun yarn.  (If actual handspun is more your thing, Spincycle carries several other yarns which are spun by hand in house). When the lovely ladies at Spincycle asked if I'd like to use their yarn for a design, I jumped at the chance to try Dyed in the Wool with colorwork!

    For the first sample pair, I wanted to play up the rustic handspun feel of the Dyed in the Wool, so I paired it with Brooklyn Tweed Loft - when used as the main color, the woolen-spun Loft knits up into a fuzzy wool backdrop for the colorwork. That pair is pictured at left (with colors The Saddest Place in Dyed in the Wool and Snowbound in Loft). Rustic isn't everybody's thing, however, particularly with colorwork, so I dressed up my second sample pair with the luxurious Shibui Staccato, a sleek merino/silk blend. Pictured at right, that pair used Dyed in the Wool in Robin's Egg and Staccato in Tar. When choosing your own colors, make sure to pick two yarns with high contrast throughout for best results.

    I think these mitts have a thoroughly modern look (helped in no small part by the beautiful Dyed in the Wool) even though they make use of some very traditional techniques. I borrowed heavily from traditional Norwegian mitten construction - the cuff, gusset, and borders between the palm and back of the hand are all typical of Selbuvotter, or Selbu mittens. Instructions for working the gusset increases are written out (and I have plans to do a photo tutorial at some point in the near future) and the placement is also indicated in the charts.

    The pattern is available exclusively through Knit Purl this month - you can grab a hard copy or a kit in store, or order one online. If you'd just like the pattern and you don't live nearby, it's also available as a PDF download from the Knit Purl Website. The kits are available in several colorways, using both Brooklyn Tweed Loft and Shibui Staccato! Here are the links:

    Knit Purl - Seven Stars pattern & yarn kit
    Seven Stars PDF download

    I also wanted to extend a special thank you to Knit Purl for having me - and if you ever find yourself in Portland, you should absolutely pay them a visit! Their space is beautiful and well-organized, and it's easy to while away a whole afternoon just checking out the yarn selection (I definitely came home with a few yarny souvenirs). And thanks to those of you came out for the workshop, as well! It was an incredibly fun weekend.

    --

    P.S. Yesterday was the official first day of the Hearth Slippers KAL! It's not too late to join in! Which is good, as I've yet to cast on...

    Comments
  • announcing...a hearth slippers KAL!

    Good morning from drizzly Seattle! With the return of Seattle's more typical autumn weather, and the end of daylight savings time, the days are feeling a lot shorter and the desire to remain inside curled up with a good book is getting stronger every day. Consequently, all I want to do is knit myself a pair of Hearth Slippers to up the cozy factor, so it's good news that Fancy Tiger Crafts and Tolt Yarn and Wool just announced a joint Hearth Slippers KAL!

    Both stores have posted about the knitalong on their blogs - you can read the Fancy Tiger post here and the Tolt post here - but I figured I'd share the pertinent details here as well. So here they are:

    - The KAL officially runs from November 18th to December 16th

    - Both Tolt and Fancy Tiger are offering 15% off supplies for the slippers before the KAL starts (for the Fancy Tiger store your discount code will be "hearthslipperskal" and for the Tolt store the code is "HSKAL214"). The discount is good for both Heirloom Romney yarn and the Fiber Trends suede slipper soles.

    - Progress photos and discussion can be shared on social media with the tag #hearthslipperKAL

    I'm going to do my best to join in and keep up, but I'll be traveling for much of the duration of the KAL, so I won't be making any solid commitments. I'll be using Fancy Tiger's Heirloom Romney, of course, and my yarn is pictured above! On the left is my main color, the new Dark Natural colorway, a beautiful undyed dark grey (a bit darker in real life than it looks in the photo). On the right is my contrast, Hubbard. I fell in love with that blue when I chose colors for the original samples and I'm still in love with it. For the third color, which is really more of an accent, I'm pretty sure I'm going to use some red Tomato leftover from the samples, but I'd like to swatch with it first to make sure there will be enough contrast with the dark grey. I think the dark main color will lend my slippers a different mood than the original samples, and I'm looking forward to getting started in a few weeks.

    I would encourage everyone thinking of joining in to knit a gauge swatch (in the round) before the KAL officially starts, especially if you're planning to substitute yarn. I think the Heirloom Romney is the perfect well-wearing wool for slippers, but I also know that not everybody does wool (and sometimes it's easier to knit from your stash). If you are planning on substituting yarns: Heirloom Romney is heavy for a worsted weight, and a bit of a sticky wool to knit with, so if you sub another worsted weight yarn (especially something like a smooth merino), you may find that your gauge comes out significantly smaller. I would highly recommend swatching with something closer to an aran weight, particularly if your colorwork tends to come out tight without a lot of stretch. Due to the nature of colorwork fabric there tends to be quite a bit of variation in gauge and elasticity from one knitter to another, so it's important to always swatch!

    I hope some of you will join in and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's slippers!

    Comments
  • on knitting garments

    Look familiar?

    As Kate has been wrapping up the work on her Yokes book, we've been emailing back and forth a fair bit. I realized in all this discussion of yoked sweaters that it had been ages since I'd worn my Owls (Kate's first yoked design), and so I decided it was time to pull it out of the closet and give it a good wash.

    Now, I'm going to let you in on a dirty little secret: until I started designing, I was hopelessly lazy about knitting garments. That's not to say that I didn't knit garments, because I did, but I rarely swatched for projects and almost never blocked anything I knit. On occasion, this totally bit me in the behind (students of mine have heard me describe the foolish inital steps of my Sundottir prototype). I eventually learned my lesson, and I now knit swatches for both stitch pattern and gauge whether I'm working on a pattern sample or just a personal project, and everything always gets blocked. But still, it took me awhile to get there.

    I knit my Owls in 2009, and it was the second garment I'd ever knit. There were a lot of firsts in there, too: it was my first yoked sweater, my first seamless garment, and my first time using short rows, among other things. Having shared my dirty little secret about Past Me's garment knitting habits, I am only a little bit embarrassed to tell you that until last week, this sweater had never been soaked and blocked (funny enough, I did actually swatch for this one - but it was just a small swatch to try out one of the owl cables). I wore it quite a lot in the year after it was finished, but then it found its way into the closet and basically stayed there. I had decided it wasn't all that comfortable to wear, being somewhat stiff and scratchy, and I had knit more sweaters that I was more fond of by this point. Knit during my last year as an undergrad, prepping for a cross-country move on a student budget, my yarn shopping budget was limited, so I chose to knit this up in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky in Oregano, which while neither luxurious nor particularly hard-wearing is a perfectly serviceable yarn. Never having been washed and blocked after being knit up, though, it wasn't entirely comfortable (for the record, the soak and blocking I gave this sweater last week really helped with that).

    Do you know why you should always wash and block your gauge swatch? The answer, of course, is that blocking typically affects gauge in one way or another. Not having knit or blocked a swatch, I really had no idea what would happen to my Owls, size-wise, when I did wash and block it. As it turned out, my stitch gauge stayed more or less the same, but my row gauge changed dramatically.

    This sweater fit well when I first finished it, and it still fits well, but it's quite a lot longer. I was somewhat amused when I laid it out to dry and realized that it was going to be somewhere between its original length and tunic-length, and that the sleeves looked comically long. Both sleeves and body gained several inches of length. Where before, they stopped right at my wrists, they're now long enough to slide down and cover most of my hands - a cozy effect, if unintentional. Being six feet tall with somewhat skinny, gangly arms, I'm happy to say I don't mind the extra length at all (fortunately!). If you'd like to compare, scroll down past the first four photos on my Ravelry project page to see the older photos.

    The biggest happy accident in the sweater's unexpected growth in length is that the unusual waist shaping at the back actually fits better than it did when I first finished the sweater:

    On me, this type of shaping works much better when the sharp decreases start further down the hip, but then I imagine that I have a longer torso than Kate. Had I been a shorter knitter, though, the length I gained when washing and blocking this sweater could have been disastrous. I might've been drowning in owls.

    So, if you are more like Past Me, and you find yourself too impatient to swatch / block your swatch / block your finished garment, let this stand as advice for you: be ye not so impatient! Proper preparation and finishing will always lead to garments you are happier with in the end, or at the very least, will help you avoid potential disasters before they become the kind of WIP you throw across the room in a fury. Do you have any similar experiences you're willing to share? I'd love to hear about them in the comments! It's always nice to remind each other that we're only human and we have all been there before.

    Tangentially related: Kate has released a teaser for the first design from Yokes, calleld Epistrophy. She's blogged about here and it can be viewed on Ravelry here. If you're as excited as I am for this book, you'll be happy to know that Yokes should be available to preorder sometime in mid-November!

    Comments
  • nordic knitting conference / hearth slippers for tolt yarn and wool

    It was a whirlwind weekend, but I had such an amazing time at the Nordic Knitting Conference a week and a half ago! It was the biggest conference yet, and it was such a treat to be teaching alongside such a fantastic roster of teachers. I'm incredibly grateful to my truly wonderful students for making such a busy weekend such a joy, as well. My five classes flew by, and nothing makes my day quite like a satisfied student's sincere thank you on their way out the door. I also want to make sure to say thanks to the Nordic Heritage Museum for having me, and I hope to have the opportunity to work with the museum on events in the future.

    One of the funny things about being an instructor at an event like this is that I didn't actually see very much of my fellow teachers, but I did get to hear Arne & Carlos, our headliners, speak at the banquet. If you ever get the chance to take a class or see these guys speak, do it. It's difficult to overstate how funny and engaging they are, and I was in stitches all night.

    I was busy enough that I didn't really have a chance to get any photos over the weekend, but you can check out the #nordicknittingconference tag on Instagram to see photos (viewable in a web browser here).

    I also had a new pattern make its debut at the conference. Anna at Tolt Yarn and Wool approached me around a year ago about designing a pair of slipper socks, maybe with a Nordic-inspired design. Obviously, I was in! I started playing around with motif ideas and before too long, Hearth Slippers were on the needles. This was an interesting pattern to design and write, because it's heavily charted but offered in three sizes (two adult sizes and a child size); this meant, in effect, writing three patterns in one, as each size comes with its own set of charts. I'm quite pleased with how it worked out, though! I've heard that the pattern kits Tolt was selling at the conference were a hit. I'm going to borrow a photo of Kathy Cadigan's, where you can see the project bag I designed for the kits as well!

    Loading

    Eeeep!! @paulabutzi and @msheartfelt sent me home from Tolt's booth at the Nordic Knitting Conference with a beautiful @cakeandvikings Hearth Slippers Kit designed for @toltyarnandwool

    View on Instagram

    These are worked in the round from the cuff-down (which is how I typically work socks), but everything else about the construction borrows heavily from traditional Norwegian mittens. The motifs on the top of the foot, back of the leg, and sole of the foot are divided into three separate sections, separated by borders. The heel is an afterthought heel, worked much like you might work a thumb on a mitten: waste yarn is worked across the row where the heel is placed as you work the length of the slipper, and then the waste yarn is removed and heel stitches placed back on the needles to work the heel after the fact. The motifs are very typically Norwegian, as well. A little bit of duplicate stitch in the center of the Selbu stars adds a pop of color and contrast.

    We used Fancy Tiger's Heirloom Romney for this design, a cozy but hard-working yarn made from American wool and well suited for winter slippers. The samples also have suede slipper bottoms from Fiber Trends sewn to the sole. I love the color palette of Heirloom Romney and I think there's a lot of potential for beautiful combinations (and in fact I've just ordered some yarn from the new Fancy Tiger online shop to make myself a pair in a new color combination!).

    Paper copies of the Hearth Slippers pattern can be purchased at Tolt Yarn and Wool's brick-and-mortar store in Carnation, Washington, or you can procure a PDF version here on Ravelry or here on Tolt's website.

    Comments
  • magpies, homebodies, and nomads

    I'm very excited to have a sneak peek on the blog today of Cirilia Rose's upcoming book, Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads: A Modern Knitters Guide to Discovering and Exploring Style (out this November on STC Craft / Melanie Falick Books; available for preorder here). My review copy arrived a week or two ago and I've been looking forward to it for so long that I immediately dropped everything to curl up on my couch with it. 

    Now, in the interest of full disclosure, Cirilia's a personal friend of mine, and I was actually one of the models for the book. Still, my glimpse at what the final product might be like was minimal at best. The patterns in the book are grouped into three sections, named in the title: Magpies (for those small amounts of precious yarns we inevitably collect), Homebodies (for time spent close to home), and Nomads (venturing into the world to meet friends and gather inspiration). I was a Magpie, along with our friend Kathleen (that's her on the cover up there), but each section was shot with different models on different days. This meant that the rest of the pieces, as well as the content of the book itself, were as much a mystery to me as for you until I got a copy in my hands.

    The photoshoot itself was quite fun, helped by the fact that we were shooting with Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed. Jared's photos are absolutely beautiful, as always, and I think he did a wonderful job of bringing Cirilia's vision to life (along with the outstanding hair, makeup, and style team). The layout and visual feel of the book is really gorgeous, as well; it's fresh, bright, and inspiring. 

    There's a lot of variety in the patterns: garments, accessories, and a few items for the home, as well (eleven garments, thirteen accessories, and two home items, by my count). My favorite parts, though, might be Cirilia's writing. At the end of each section are a few short essays on everything from where to look for inspiration to color choice, substituting yarns and thrifting. This is truly a knitter's style guide. Cirilia's writing is friendly and informative at the same time - you can tell how much she loves what she does, but you can also tell that she knows what she's talking about. I think the writing that accompanies each section is all helpful stuff for figuring out how to choose the right things to knit, and knit things that we (or our recipients) will love. I especially liked this bit, from the introduction ("Finding Your Inner Bricoleur"):

    "The past decade has seen a proliferation of knitwear designers, myself included, and we're all working from essentially the same sourcebooks, with the same basic resources: the knit stitch, the purl stitch, and a whole lot of yarn. So how does one innovate in an increasingly crowded landscape? The answer is, of course, through bricolage. The comination of elements from seemingly disparate cultural sources creates energy that didn't exist before, and when each of us cultivates our own unique concotion of referents, it guarantees more idiosyncratic knits."

    One of my favorite things about this excerpt is that if you deconstruct it further, the knit stitch and the purl stitch are essentially the exact same stitch, and whether it's a knit or a purl really just depends on your point of view or the way in which you're working it. One of my favorite things about being friends with Cirilia is that if you gave each of us the very same, identical garment on which to base an ensemble, the resulting outfits each of us would create would probably look very, very different from each other. I love to see her creative impulses because I think they're often coming from a different place than mine, and that idiosyncracy is exactly what she's talking about.

    I thought I'd share a few of my favorites patterns from the book, which all happen to be garments (one from Magpies, two from Nomads).

    This is the Isla Cardigan, a sweet little number worked up in Zealana Rimu DK, and of course, it's the cover star! It's a simple cardigan but the details are what I love the most: the high-wasited rib, the slightly puffled sleeve caps, and the subtle ruching at the front yoke. I'd love to knit this in a neutral, or possibly a soft blue. (Side note: we shot Magpies outdoors in Seattle's Discovery Park. If you've never been on a Pacific Northwest beach in mid-spring, it can be chilly. Kathleen makes it look serene!)

    Next up is the Gezell Coat, a cozy, oversized cardigan with pockets. This one's another simple piece with great details: the pockets, obviously, but also the bobbles at the hem and sleeve cuffs and the exposed back seam. I personally like the three-quarter sleeves, but the sleeve length would probably be easy to modify if they're not your thing (same goes for the bobbles). The thing I like most about this sweater is its lazy elegance; in a dark color like the sample shown above, it's slouchy and cozy but still manages to make Katie, the model, look totally put together.

    The last favorite I have to share today is the Reyka Pullover. A true lopapeysa, it's knit with Plötulopi, the unspun version of Lopi, the Icelandic wool, which comes in wheels. I love the traditional aspects of it, like the wool and the circular yoke, but I also love the hood (not really visible in this photo), the short-sleeve length, and the textured colorwork. Because the colorwork is purled instead of knit, it also manages to call to mind some of the Bohus knitting, even in only two colors. I think it's a sweet little piece with a lot of opportunity for modification - longer sleeves, extra colors, and think of all the possible color combinations! Brights, neutrals, darks, lights, they'd all yield such different results.

    If you'd like your own copy of Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads, you can pre-order it right here on Amazon, here on the Book Depository, or you can ask your local yarn store to order it (it's out November 4th, 2014). Special thanks to STC Craft / Melanie Falick Books for the chance to review it! 

    And a quick reminder that this upcoming weekend is the Nordic Knitting Conference here in Ballard, and both Cirilia and I will be teaching! I hope we see some of you there!

    Comments
  • southern fiords

    When I designed the Fjordland hat for Pom Pom Quarterly last year, I had an idea in my head for a matching pair of socks (not necessarily to be worn with the hat, but composed of the same basic colors and motifs). Of course, Tosh Sock in the same colorways as the hat would make for a truly matching set, but when Tash of Knitsch Yarns and Holland Road Yarn Company offered up some Knitsch sock yarn to play with, I saw an opportunity.

    I first read about Tash, her shop, and her yarn in an issue of Extra Curricular (I can't recall which off the top of my head), and when I went on Ravelry to look her up, I discovered she was getting ready to run a Vasa KAL (blogged here)! We've been in touch ever since. You may remember that Extra Curricular, which I've written about here before, is a New Zealand publication, one I discovered while in New Zealand on my honeymoon in 2013. Sadly, I didn't know about Holland Road Yarn Co. at that time, but I fell in love with Wellington, the area where Tash's shops are, so when she suggested I do a design with Knitsch sock yarn, I jumped at the chance. I knew pretty quickly what I wanted to do, too.

    One of the places I had the opportunity to visit in New Zealand was Fiordland National Park, on the South Island. The South Island is an incredible place, full of some of the most beautiful countryside I've ever seen, but Fiordland National Park is especially spectacular. The fiords have much in common with those of Norway, but they're very different, too. Where Norway's are arctic, these were undeniably lush.

    Chris and I took a boat tour of Milford Sound, the only fiord that can be accessed by road. The weather is changeable and often uncooperative, and so as we set off, the sheer cliffs to either side of our boat rose into misty clouds, their peaks hidden from view. By the time our boat had traversed the fiord and made it back to the dock, however, the clouds were breaking and the sun shone down on us.

    Enter Southern Fiords. It's a bit ridiculous to compare a humble pair of socks to something as ancient and immense as a fiord, but there's a connection in the inspiration all the same. I wanted the socks, inspired by these very different fiords, to have a different feeling than the Fjordland hat, even though they're tied together by other characteristics. The colors of Knitsch Sock that I chose (Hydro, Blunderbuss, and Plain and Simple) reflect that different character, I think.

    As Knitsch sock is a 100% merino yarn, these socks are probably better suited for hanging out at home and daydreaming than for actual adventuring, and that's what we went with for the photo story. I pulled out my stack of Extra Curricular mags, a few books, and some of my favorite NZ records and the lovely Kathy Cadigan came over and took photos while I hung out in my living room, playing records and dancing like a fool. I'm so pleased with Kathy's photos and I think she did a lovely job of showing off the socks as well as creating a cozy mood.

    One of my favorite things about these socks is how well they illustrate the importance of shade or value in colorwork (that is, how light or dark a color is), especially when compared to the Fjordland hat. Both items are worked up with a main color (blue) and two contrasting colors (green and white), but on the hat the contrasting colors are very close in value, while with the socks the main color and one of the contrasting colors (green) are much closer together in value as a result of the lighter blue and the darker green. This is most apparent on the two-color rib, but the difference is clear throughout the whole of each piece:

    This means that the finished objects feel very different from each other, regardless of the fact that the motifs are identical. But more on shade value in colorwork at a later date! For now, sock details:

    These are worked cuff-down in the round, with a slip stitch heel flap and a rounded toe, which is grafted together at the end. These are written for DPNs, but if you're used to working your socks another way, they'll be easy enough to adapt. The colorwork means these are a great way to use up sock yarn scraps (the yardage estimates listed on the Ravelry page are generous), and if you're anything like me, you have a lot of those hanging around (I don't even knit that many socks!). Head over to the Ravelry page for all the pertinent details like yarn and needle requirements, sizes, and a full list of pattern characteristics, or to purchase a digital PDF copy. If you're a LYS wholesale customer (or you'd like to be one), Southern Fiords will also be available in a hard copy booklet which will be added to the line sheet very soon.

    Comments
  • the evolution of a sweater

    I didn't do a ton of knitting while I was in Norway, but a few days after I arrived I did cast on for a Svalbard, the ingenius cardigan pattern by Bristol Ivy from Wool People vol. 6. Norway felt like the right place to do it, because Svalbard is a Norwegian archipelago, and I had decided to knit it in the Snowbound colorway of Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter (Svalbard is halfway between mainland Norway and the north pole, so there is definitely snow on the islands year round). 

    Bristol is the kind of designer people like me only wish we could be - she's incredibly innovative and terribly creative when it comes to actually constructing garments and accessories. Svalbard is one of her more innovative efforts, with unusual shaping beginning at the back neck and at the underarms. Bristol describes the construction of the garment in the interview she did for the Brooklyn Tweed blog. I had never knit anything put together like this before. Incidentally, this was also my first top-down sweater, so I enjoyed documenting the process as the sweater grew. I thought some of you might enjoy seeing the evolution, as well, so I'm sharing the photos here today:



    (I especially enjoyed this stage, above, because it looked like something out of Game of Thrones)

    The resulting sweater, after finishing, is so dreamy and perfect for so many occasions I can hardly stand it. It's already become my go-to work sweater (the basement where my office/studio is located can be on the chilly side) and it works well with dresses, skirts, or pants. Bristol, my hat is off to you.

    I also decided to make this a contribution to Shannon Cook's annual Summer Sweater Knitalong, which runs through September 24th. I would encourage any of you with sweaters on the needles (or sweaters ready to go) to join in! You can read all about it at the link above.

    If you're hankering for some Bristol Ivy pieces of your own, several of her patterns are on sale until this Sunday, August 31st. Check out the eligible patterns right here and make sure to use the code 29on28 at checkout to receive the 29% discount. Svalbard is not among the patterns on sale, but there's plenty of goodness whether you like sweaters, shawls, or other accessories.

    Have any of you knit Svalbard? Any of Bristol's other designs, or other patterns from Wool People 6? I'd love to see your projects!

    Comments
  • linen & stripes

    I almost laughed out loud when Karen's beautiful Togue stripes popped up in my blog reader today, because I finally have proper photos of my Vasa from the Vasalong. So I, too, am showcasing stripes in Quince & Co. linen. Here it is, folks: my finished Vasa, photographed and all! (Happily, that makes this the final Vasalong post!)

    Forgive me for repeating myself if you've been following along, but in the interest of writing it up properly: it's knit in Quince & Co. Sparrow (the five skeins shown in this post), and while initially I was worried I hadn't bought enough yarn, those tiny hanks go very far. I had four hanks of Juniper and one hank of Little Fern, and while I had very little yarn leftover when I was done, the finished tee is pretty large.

    I still haven't put it through the washer and dryer yet, but I've worn it several times already. At this point, the finished dimensions are 25" wide by about 21-22" tall (it's longer at the shoulders, since I've been wearing it), which makes it wider than it is tall (!). That's about a 50" chest circumference, which is 14" of positive ease on my 36" bust. Not everyone will want such a huge, drapey garment (it's admittedly kind of a tent), but I think it works really well in the linen and gives you a good idea of why I recommend at least 4" of positive ease in the pattern. 4" of ease is actually not that much ease. I knit it up on US size 3 needles and the gauge is sitting around 18 stitches and 27 rows per 4". At this gauge the fabric is quite airy and definitely see-through, so I wear this with a tank underneath.

    Here are a few photos to show off the boxy shape and fabric quality:


    It's knit flat and seamed, as written in the pattern, but I did make two modifications: I picked up stitches and knit sleeve borders in garter stitch, binding off in the CC, and I only knit 14 stripes instead of 15. I'm pretty pleased with the garter stitch sleeve borders, even if I barely had enough yarn left to eke them out. 

    My favorite part of the whole Vasalong was definitely seeing everyone else's Vasas in progress, though. Especially everyone's mods! I loved the creativity! A few favorites:

    This one comes from Ines in Belgium, and I love the effect of the one dotted line stripe. So cool!

    I loved Tien's bright scalloped stripe version! Clever use of stranded colorwork to such nice effect (and I love the colors). You can check out the inside of it, strands and all, here.

    I loved this photo of Sibhie, wearing the Vasa she knit for the Vasalong, knitting another Vasa, and to top it all off that's the Vasa Museum in Stockholm behind her in the background. The most epic Vasa photo there will ever be:

    Ash got creative when faced with yarn limitations, and mixed up the stripe sequence (and I love it):

    You can check out the rest of the Vasa projects on Ravelry here, and huge thanks once again to all of the Vasalong participants! 

    Comments
  • school, snow, and a vasa update (sort of)

    When I last posted two and a half weeks ago I had every intention of returning to more regular blog updates. While that obviously didn't happen, I have been keeping busy. Not much of it directly pertains to Paper Tiger as a business, but I thought I might share some of it here all the same (Paper Tiger was a personal blog and a place to share my thoughts and creative work before it was ever a business, after all).

    Firstly, this is as close as I've gotten to a photo of my fully finished Vasa from the Vasalong:

    I'm holding out for a proper modeled photo (taken by someone else, preferably not on an iPod/iPhone) before I share all of the details, including my mods, etc. but the short version of the story is that I love it in the linen (yarn is Quince & Co. Sparrow, in the colors Juniper and Little Fern), I love the sleeve border I added, and this one has quite a bit of positive ease, far more than I recommended in the pattern (which was at least 4" - I haven't actually measured this thing yet, but I know it's more than that). I promise I'll wrap all that up soon! (The ravelry project page can be found here.)

    As for why it's taken me so long to get around to photographing and writing about my Vasa, as well as other projects I have going on, the reasons are many. The biggest reason, however, is that the summer school does actually keep me fairly busy, and when I'm not in class or hanging around the library working, I'm resting, cooking, exploring Oslo, or traveling. The International Summer School at UiO is something I have wanted to do for a very long time - nigh on a decade - and now that I'm actually here doing it I want to enjoy it and get as much out of the experience as I can. That makes PT work lower priority and it's naturally fallen a little bit by the wayside. This has also been a time of reflection for me. I'm in the middle of something of a long transitional period, and coming to the summer school has been a deliberate part of that. It's a transition away from creative work as my full-time daily work (though I will never give it up entirely) and back towards the world of education. It's something I plan to write about more on this blog, because I have a lot of feelings about it all and I've spent a lot of time thinking about it, but I'll save that for another day.

    In the meantime, to give you an idea of what I have been doing...

    Most days look a lot like this:

    But some days look like this:

    On top of Aurlandsfjellet in Sogn og Fjordane fylke. That's the lopapeysa I bought on my trip to Iceland in March I'm wearing.

    Or this:

    Voss, in western Norway, in the rain & fog

    I've been on one ISS-organized excursion (around the Oslofjord) and one road trip unrelated to the summer school to visit friends in Voss, which was this past weekend. The drive to western Norway is one I've done before, and it's staggeringly beautiful. It was nice to stay in Voss as well, and we took a brief trip to the Folkemuseum there (I only have a few photos from it, but I think that still warrants its own blog post). I won't be going on any trips this coming weekend, as I've only been in Oslo one weekend out of three since I arrived, and I'd like to do some weekend exploring (hitting up farmer's markets, second-hand markets, and parks and the like that I wouldn't normally get to on a weekday). 

    I've also been thinking a lot about the concept of home, my nomadic tendencies, and why I'm drawn to Norway in the first place. The visual ties to the Pacific Northwest are pretty obvious in many parts of the country. I found myself thinking about drives out to Tolt Yarn and Wool in Carnation, Washington, as we drove through Hallingdal on the way back to Oslo on Sunday. I never realized Hallingdal looked so much like the Snoqualmie Valley. 

    Driving through Hallingdal on road 7

    In any case, I'm having an amazing time in Norway. We have a long weekend (no class Thursday or Friday) this weekend, so I'm planning to hit up some of the museums I haven't had a chance to get to yet and hopefully catch up on some work as well. As always, you'll find more photos on my instagram account (I'm @cakeandvikings) and you can follow me there if you'd like to keep up with what I'm up to on a more regular basis!

    Comments
  • vasalong: results & the winners!

    June 6th marked the last day and deadline for the Vasa KAL, so I gathered all the finished entries over the weekend, and today I randomly drew two winners!

    First, I drew for the two skeins of Road to China Light: congratulations, Tien! And then I drew for the issue of Extra Curricular: congratulations, Ines! I'll be getting in touch with you both about getting your prizes to you. (Tien blogged her beautiful version here, and you can see Ines's on Ravelry!)

    I'm also hoping to do a post showcasing several of the finished Vasas, because you all made some super creative mods and I love all the different versions!

    In the meantime, I'll share my own (barely finished) Vasa! It's not truly finished, but this is where I got to by the end of Friday night; knitting finished & seams mostly sewn, but no ends woven in at all:

    I've now finished the seams, and I still plan to pick up stitches around the sleeves and work a few rounds of garter stitch to finish off the sleeves a little bit more nicely. The edges are curling a lot more on this one than they did on my original - perhaps a combination of the different fiber and my gauge. This one has quite a bit of positive ease, as well! I haven't measured it for finished dimensions, but once I've properly finished it and thrown it through the washer and dryer, I'll measure it, measure the gauge again, and share some real photos. 

    Thank you to everyone who participated in the Vasalong, and if you're still working on your Vasa, feel free to keep using the #vasalong tag! I'm still following along and I love seeing everyone's different versions!

    Comments
  • vasalong ends this friday!

    I can barely believe my eyes, but the calendar's telling me it's already June, which means that the Vasalong (the Vasa KAL) ends this Friday! That's my own unfinished Vasa in Quince & Co. Sparrow pictured above - I'm sitting at around the 75% point, so I've got some knitting to do if I'm going to finish on time! Several of you have already finished your versions and shared them, and I LOVE seeing all the modifications you're making! If you haven't finished yet, here's a quick reminder of the different ways you can share your Vasa that will automatically enter you to win one of the prizes (you only need to do one of these to be entered):

    - Post a photo of your finished Vasa to Twitter or Instagram with the tag #vasalong
    - Tag the project page of your finished Vasa on Ravelry with the tag vasalong
    - Share your finished Vasa on the Paper Tiger Facebook page

    If you do this by the end of Friday, June 6th (Pacific Standard Time), you'll be entered into the prize drawing! And for a reminder of what you could win:

    On the left: Issue #14 of Extra Curricular Magazine, my favorite independent magazine for creative folk

    On the right: Two skeins of The Fibre Company's Road to China Light in Dark Amythest

    These are a few of my favorite things, and I can't wait to send them off to lucky winners next week.

    If you have any last minute questions, feel free to post them in the comments! You can always check out the original post with guidelines right here. To those of you working on finishing up by Friday: good luck!

    Comments
  • 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!

    Comments
  • vasalong: the prizes!

    If you complete a Vasa and share it in one of the ways mentioned in the guidelines posted here, you'll be automatically entered to win one of the prizes featured in this post! I'll be using a random number generator to assign numbers and randomly draw winners after the deadline, June 6th.

    Prize #1: Two skeins of The Fibre Company's Road to China Light in Amythest Dark

    Road to China Light became one of my favorite yarns immediately after I first worked with it. It's a super luxe blend of baby alpaca, silk, cashmere, and camel - so it's very, very soft. It's a sport weight yarn and each 50g skein contains 159 yards. If you've never used this yarn before, trust me: it glows. You will love it.

    Prize #2: Issue 14 of Extra Curricular Magazine

    I discovered Extra Curricular on a trip to New Zealand last year (and I've mentioned it before on this blog), and it continues to be one of my very favorite independent publications. Every issue features a range of creative folk, both hobbyists and professionals, and it's very much focused on the Aussie and Kiwi creative scenes. Issue 14 is the latest issue, the Wild & Free issue for autumn-winter 2014 (as a New Zealand publication, they're of course heading out of summer and into autumn at the moment!). I'm a subscriber but I probably would have bought this issue for the cover illustration alone! There's an article inside about the cover's illustrator, Emma Wiesenekker, as well as pieces on a ukelele maker, a wholefood blogger, a graphic designer, and a freelance cheat sheet, just to name a few. Get ready to get inspired.

    --

    So there you have it! Check in with the Vasalong guidelines if you haven't cast on yet but you'd like to, and I can't wait to see everyone's different versions of Vasa!

    Other #vasalong posts:
    - yarn!: my yarn choice for the Vasalong
    - a few of my favorite Vasa mods

    Comments
  • vasalong: a few of my favorite vasa mods

    I haven't forgotten that I promised to share a few of my favorite modifications knitters have made to their versions of Vasa! I've singled out two versions and I'm including Ravelry links to several others.

    First up is this lovely version from Ravelry user kouvive. She knit hers in cotton yarn and made several modifications to the written pattern. She broke up the stripe sequence by adding a third color, and I love the effect.

    Other mods she made include knitting the body in the round to the armholes, adding garter stitch ridges to the sleeve openings (a nice alternative to picking up stitches to add an armhole border!) and across the top at the shoulder, and adding length to the tee. You can see the garter stitch detail a little bit better in this photo:

    Such a beautiful version in such lovely pastels! She left notes on her project page, but they'll probably only be useful if you can read Japanese. This is also the case for the second FO I wanted to feature, by Ravelry user tsumiyo:

    I love the neutral colors! She added quite a lot of length to the top, but didn't continue the stripe sequence, so the effect is akin to that of Breton stripes. I think the effect of the extra length is quite nice, and between that and tsumiyo's color choices, I think this version's very chic. You can view the project page (with notes in Japanese) here.

    Other modified versions that are worth mentioning:

    - Sylvie's colorblocked Vasa hearts, worked in the round to the underarm and featuring stranded knitting

    - Hiromi's fresh grey and white Vasa, with a totally different stripe sequence

    - jostrong's linen VASA, an excellent example of how your choice of fiber affects the finished garment (beyond substituting yarn, I don't believe jostrong made any mods). Look at that drape!

    I've cast on for my own Vasa in the Quince & Co. Sparrow pictured in the last post, and I'm making good progress already. It's a soothing project to pick up and put down whenever I have time to knit a few rows; the stripe sequence helps me keep my place and track my progress without having to take any notes, which I love. And I'm really loving the color combination, which is quite different from my original sample.

    There's still time to cast on and join the KAL, if you're thinking about it! You can go back and check out the original Vasalong post with guidelines here: a vasalong!

    Comments
  • wool people 7 / hoquiam

    It is an exciting day in the knitting world: Brooklyn Tweed release day! I am thrilled to once again have a pattern in the latest collection in their guest designer series, Wool People. We're up to Volume 7 now, which is full of some insanely wonderful sweaters (I'm already lusting after Devlan, Yane, and Seine) and a few accessories. Before I go on you should take a minute to go peek at the look book here, if you haven't already. Go on, I'll wait for you.

    --

    Are you back? Okay, now I can tell you a little bit about my pattern, Hoquiam. It is one of my favorite constructions: a seamless infinity scarf (or cowl, if you like), knit in the round as a tube, with the ends grafted together. I've made good use of this construction before (example one, example two). As written, it's long enough to loop around your neck twice, but you can also wear it long to show of the cable and lace textures (and it would be easy to knit a shorter or longer version if desired!).

    Hoquiam came from a desire to combine cables and lace, and the motifs I chose for the two widest panels - the seed stitch medallions and pairs of leaves - are motifs I haven't seen used very much of late. Once blocked, these run down either side of the cowl, framed by columns of cables. You can wear either side facing out. Looped twice around your neck, it's quite cozy.


    Hoquiam uses Brooklyn Tweed's worsted weight, Shelter. The sample is knit in Hayloft, a bright pop of color in the collections largely muted palette. There are so many colors of Shelter I would love to knit this in, but at the top of my list are probably Snowbound, Sweatshirt, and Button Jar. Fossil would give it a very fisherman's sweater feeling, and Embers would be wonderfully autumnal for those of you in the southern hemisphere. You get the idea... many, many possibilities here!

    Hoquiam can be purchased via Ravelry or at brooklyntweed.com. We hope you like the collection.

    Comments
  • vasalong: yarn!

    I received an exciting parcel over the weekend; my yarn arrived for the Vasalong! I decided I wanted a lighter alternative to my original merino version, so I opted for some lovely linen: Sparrow by Quince and Co. It seems a little crazy to say it, but this is the first time I've ordered anything by Quince and Co., so I'm really looking forward to working with it. I'm using Juniper as my main color and Little Fern for the stripes. The muted tones of Sparrow are pretty dreamy.

    If you're interested in using linen but want something a little more saturated in color than Sparrow, I think Shibui Linen might be a good option, and of course I'd welcome other suggestions!

    I'm planning to cast on this week, and I think the only mod I'm going to make is a little bit of sleeve opening detail - perhaps picking up stitches for a few rounds of ribbing, or maybe garter stitch? I'm not entirely sure yet, but as it's knit from the bottom up, I have time to make up my mind. In the next Vasalong posts, I'll be sharing a few of my favorite mods as well as the prizes you'll be entered to win if you finish by June 6th! There's still plenty of time to join in if you're thinking about it, and you can read up on the guidelines here.

    Comments
  • 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?

    Comments
  • reykjavík so far

    Hello from Reykjavík, where we're halfway through DesignMarch 2014 and the Reykjavík Fashion Festival!

    I've been posting on Instagram since arriving, as have Cirilia and Stephen, and I put a bunch of our photos into the montage above. If you want to follow along, you can follow us at @cakeandvikings, @cirilia, and @westknits.

    First of all, Iceland is beautiful. I may be here for the design and fashion events (and to galavant around with buddies) but it wouldn't be that hard to skive off and stare at the landscape or out over the rooftops all day instead. Truly. 


    I arrived early in the morning on Tuesday. I had the Flybus drop me off at Reykjavík Downtown Hostel, near my friend Peter's place, which worked out well for me because I could have a coffee (I didn't sleep on the overnight flight) and some breakfast while I waited for Peter. We got to spend the day together, but I also got to get some work done and take a nap (very necessary).

    Stephen and his friend Barbara (of Chillimint) arrived from Amsterdam later that day, and Cirilia arrived the next morning. Our days thus far have consisted of a lot of coffee, snacks, and knitting. And outfit changes. Reykjavík is known for its street style but I'm not sure this city's residents can hold a candle to these guys. 

    Cirilia, Stephen, and Barbara headed down the hill to Harpa for Thursday's opening day Design Talks. I love how Harajuku Cirilia's pimped-lopapeysa look feels.

    post-coffee on Wednesday

    I feel positively tame standing next to them, swathed in black, white, and grey (right down to the lopapeysa I bought at the Handknitting Association today, seen in the Instagram montage above). But I feel like me, so it works.

    Opening day's talks on Thursday were really excellent (you can read about the programming on the DesignMarch website here). "Design" is such a diverse, broad term, and the wide range of speakers really drove that point home. The morning started off with two speakers who work in urban planning & design situations, and one of them, Kathryn Firth, might have been my favorite speaker of the day. She's working on the ongoing redesign of Olympic Park in London in the wake of the 2012 Olympics, and I have to admit I hadn't given much thought before to what happens to all the giant Olympics complexes after the games.

    After lunch the talks switched gears: we had some tech talk first (with Robert Wong from Google) and then moved on to fashion, with Mikael Schiller from Acne Studios and finally Calvin Klein. The Google talk was good, and about what you'd expect: Robert was charming in a humble, not-smooth-talking kind of way, with funny quips and emotional hooks and appropriately placed "instructional videos" that are totally ads, no matter what Google claims. I got caught up in the moment during his talk, and found my feelings toward Google (which are mostly good, but I do have some grievances) shifting in a more positive direction. After his talk, however, I came down from this magic Cloud (I guess Glass isn't a great thing to stand on) and realized I'd just been expertly emotionally manipulated. High five, Google. You're winning whatever game you're playing and it still makes me uncomfortable.

    I really enjoyed Mikael from Acne's talk. He was funny and genuine and seems generally bemused that people like what his company is doing (though of course he works very hard to make it so that people do). I probably won't buy their jeans or other clothes, but Acne's really on the up right now.

    Calvin Klein... well, he's undeniably a legend. Instead of giving a presentation like the other speakers did, his talk was in the form of an interview, and his interviewer was Icelandic designer Steinunn (a former employee of his). It was clear that CK and Steinunn have somewhat of a special relationship and the utmost respect for each other, which is lovely, but it made for a pretty vanilla interview, I must admit. I'm very glad to have heard Calvin Klein speak at all, and he gave some great advice for aspiring designers, but it would've been a much richer and more interesting interview if his interlocutor had been willing to bring up critique or controversy, or anything other than glowing praise. Perhaps if you're Calvin Klein, you have the authority (or maybe the ego) to pretend critical analysis doesn't apply to you and choose your interviewers accordingly. He was so casual when he mentioned hanging out in the Hamptons and deciding to send his personal plane to Boston to fly Marky Mark down to talk about underwear... and it was at that moment that I realized how far Calvin Klein's reality was from mine, or most of the other people in this world. Nonetheless, it was interesting to hear his story and I'm grateful I had the opportunity. 

    --

    The weather the morning of Design Talks was gorgeous, and we took advantage of the gorgeous light outside Harpa (reflected off the geometric, multi-colored windows) and snapped a few goofy photos:

    I have more to write about what we've done so far (especially the National Museum!), but I think I'll save that for the next post. Until then!

    Comments
  • a hat for iceland: two hats in one

    On a recent visit to Tolt, I picked up a ball of handpainted ombré yarn from Freia in the colorway "Cloud." I think I knew pretty immediately that I wanted to make a hat with it, and if possible, a reversible, two-layer hat. I was almost able to eke the whole thing out of one ball of yarn, but I had to supplement with a little bit of extra yarn to finish it off (I used some leftover Kenzie for now, but I might try to find a better color match to complete the ombré effect and redo the crown on that side).

    The timing is perfect, as it's been windy and rainy in Iceland so far. This two-layer wool hat has already seen a lot of use. The color and the gradient effect both remind me of Iceland as well, bringing to mind volcanic ash, glaciers, snow, and clouds. In honor of that, I have named this hat Reykholt. Reykholt is a village in western Iceland that was once the home of Snorri Sturluson, the thirteenth-century Icelandic poet and historian who wrote the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, an anthology of Norwegian kings (it should surprise no one that I've been working my way through Nancy Marie Brown's Song of the Vikings lately). Reykholt roughly translates as "smoke wood," where reyk or "smoke" refers to the steam caused by Iceland's geothermal activity (likewise with the Icelandic capital Reykjavík, which didn't exist yet in Snorri's time). It also feels fitting that the yarn comes from Freia Fibers; while the company may be named after the owner's dog, it also shares a name with Freyja, the Norse goddess.

    In any case, if you'd like to make your own, I'm including instructions below. It's not exactly a pattern; it's probably more of a recipe. But it's simple and relatively easy to adapt. 

    REYKHOLT

    Materials
    1 ball Freia Fibers Ombré Sport Wool (pictured in "Cloud")
    extra sport weight yarn in a matching or contrasting shade
    16" circular needle in size needed to obtain gauge (suggested size: US Size 4 / 3.5mm)
    1 set DPNs in size needed to obtain gauge (suggested size: US Size 4 / 3.5mm)

    Gauge
    22 stitches & 36 rounds per 4 inches / 10 cm

    Finished dimensions
    approx. 15" / 38 cm from end to end with a 21.75" / 32.5 cm circumference.

    Instructions
    A note on the construction, before casting on: because this hat is two layers and reversible, you are in effect knitting two hats that happen to be seamlessly attached. This means that you will begin as if you're knitting a hat using the top-down method, and instead of switching to a border and binding off at the brim, you'll continue knitting as if working a hat from the bottom-up. The finished hat will look like sort of an oblong sack (pictured above) until you fold it in on itself so that the two crowns line up (this also means that once you've finished knitting it, you won't be able to reach the purl side of the fabric).

    Beginning with DPNs and ombré yarn, cast on 4 stitches. Divide stitches so that each needle holds one stitch.

    Round 1: Kfb into each stitch. (8 stitches total)

    You may find it helpful at this point to place stitch markers between each stitch (this will mark the location of your increases).

    Round 1: Kfb into each stitch. (16 stitches total)
    Round 2: [Kfb, k1] around. (24 stitches total)
    Round 3: [Kfb, k2] around. (32 stitches total)
    Round 4: [Kfb, k3] around. (40 stitches total)
    Round 5: K all stitches.
    Round 6: [Kfb, k4] around. (48 stitches total)
    Round 7: K all stitches.
    Round 8: [Kfb, k5] around. (56 stitches total)
    Round 9: K all stitches.
    Round 10: [Kfb, k6] around. (64 stitches total)
    Round 11: K all stitches.

    Switching to circular needle when necessary, continue working an increase round and a knit round until you have 120 stitches on the needles (you will have worked a total of 25 rounds). Once you have completed the increases, you can remove the stitch markers.

    Next, work in stockinette, knitting all stitches, until the hat measures approximately 12" / 30 cm from cast on point. (You can also eyeball it by folding the hat so that the crown from the cast-on side sits inside out and lining up the end of the increase section with your needles. Looking at the fabric below your needles, does it look like it's time to begin the decreases? i.e. is it long enough? If yes, move on to the decreases below. If not, work a little bit more stockinette. You may want a shorter or longer hat than mine.) Keep in mind you may need to switch to your extra yarn at some point during (or before) the decrease section.

    Decrease set-up round: *K13, k2tog, place marker. Rep from * to end of round. (112 stitces total)
    Next round: K all stitches.

    Decrease Round 1: [K to last 2 stitches before marker, k2tog, sm] around.
    Decrease Round 2: K all stitches.

    Repeat these two decrease rounds until 40 stitches remain, then continue working Decrease Round 1 only until 16 stitches remain. Removing stitch markers, K2tog around for 2 rounds. Break yarn and pull the tail through the remaining 4 stitches. Use a tapestry needle to thread the tail through to the inside.

    --

    I don't plan to work this up into a fully sized pattern, but if you want to make a smaller or larger hat, it's fairly easy to adapt! You'll need to know your gauge - stitch gauge is more important than row gauge for the following instructions.

    As written, the hat knits up at a gauge of 22 stitches per 4", and at 120 stitches has a circumference of around 21.75". If you want a smaller hat, for a child, for example, you can use your gauge to decide how many stitches to increase to. When you reach that point in the increase section, simply stop increasing and switch to stockinette! Likewise for the decreases.

    You'll also need to know the circumference you're aiming for. If you have another hat of the recipient's you can measure that, or use the measurement of a favorite child's hat pattern (same goes for if you want to make a larger hat). Here's what you'll do:

    1. Divide your stitch gauge over 4" by 4 to get your main stitch gauge, or stitch gauge over 1". We'll call this number SG. (Counting stitches over a larger area will help you get a closer number for your stitch gauge than just counting the stitches in 1 inch.)
    2. Note the circumference you're aiming for. Will call this measurment circ.
    3. Now multiply those two numbers:

    SG circ = stitch count

    where stitch count represents the number of stitches you want to have at the widest point.

    Because the increases are worked in multiples of 8, you may have to round up or down to the nearest multiple of eight, but this won't make a huge difference.

    Comments
  • travels &c.

    Well, I'm all packed...

    ...and ready to go to Iceland! I'm headed to Reykjavík next week for Design March and the Reykjavík Fashion Festival, where I'll be hanging out with Cirilia Rose, Stephen West, and my dear friend Peter (Peter and I are old friends from high school, and we used to get together to bake brownies and cake and watch Björk videos, so we're pretty excited to hang out in Iceland). I always love a trip to Iceland, but it's my first time going to Design March, so I'm looking forward to it even more than usual. I'm hoping to share some updates while I'm there (I've brought my laptop along for the ride).

    On that note, after Iceland I'll be visiting family for a week, so I won't be back at Paper Tiger HQ until the second week of April. I've taken down listings for physical items from the shop (digital items are obviously still available), and any wholesale orders won't go out until I get back. 

    Comments
  • patterns!

    I've been working on something behind the scenes recently, and I'm so excited these are finally ready to go: I now have hard copies of Paper Tiger patterns available for wholesale! If you work at a local yarn store and you're interested in carrying these or you want to know more, shoot an email to wholesale (at) paper-tiger.net and I'll make sure you get the line sheet. If you don't work at a store but you'd love to be able to purchase these at your LYS, let them know!

    I'm very happy with the quality of these patterns and I hope you all like them too. They're all either 4-page or 8-page booklets, printed in high-quality full color, with heavier paper stock used for the covers. That makes for sturdy little booklets, which is quite nice. What I'm most excited about is that every pattern includes a unique digital download code you can use to download a PDF version of the pattern at no extra cost. So purchasing a paper copy of the pattern means you get both versions - paper and PDF! You may be familiar with this model if you've purchased a hard copy of Pom Pom Quarterly, or if you buy vinyl records. The download codes are located on the inside front cover and can be redeemed via Ravelry. If you purchased Vasa at the Tea Cozy or you purchased one or more patterns from my booth at Knit Fit!, see my postscript below.

    At this moment, I've got the five patterns from Paper Tiger Fall/Winter 2013 as well as my bestseller Vasa available. While I love the ease of digital files, I'm a sucker for a beautifully printed publication, so I'm incredibly happy to finally have these on offer. Please do shoot me an email at wholesale (at) paper-tiger.net if you're interested.

    *Postscript: If you previously purchased a paper copy of a Paper Tiger pattern, there was no download code included. I'd love to be able to offer free digital downloads to customers who purchased early paper copies, so if you'd like to have a PDF version as well, send me an email at dianna (at) paper-tiger.net and let me know: 1) when and where you purchased the pattern, and 2) what your Ravelry username is.

    Comments
  • simple knits

    Lately I've realized the importance of having a simple project on the needles. I've been working on two new patterns (more on them soon, I promise) that both involve multiple charts, and in my free time I've been working on a pair of Twisted Flower socks from Cookie A's Knit. Sock. Love. and I've started swatching for Quadrillion from the most recent fall issue of Pom Pom Quarterly. Both of those patterns are also heavily charted, and while I'm totally a chart lover, I think I'm beginning to understand the importance of balancing those more intricate projects with much simpler ones. I call this kind of knitting mindless knitting - think miles of plain stockinette, or extremely basic knit-purl patterns (ribbing, seed stitch). It's the kind of knitting I can do while I read, because I don't have to look at it. Ideally the most attention I ever have to pay to the project is to tick another row off in my notebook when my finger hits the stitch marker marking the beginning of a round.

    Craving this kind of project this weekend, I found myself casting on for a pair of basic fingerless mitts with some Noro I recently received as a gift. Initially I thought I'd do stripes, but then I decided I'd rather showcase the color change of the yarn on its own, with some texture for added interest. I divided the skein into two little balls, cast on 31 stitches for each mitt (an odd number, so that each row started with a k1 and was therefore exactly the same), and knit until there was only a little yarn leftover for the thumbs. I didn't even have to count my rows as I went, which was wonderful. I seamed up the sides, leaving holes for the thumbs, then picked up stitches and worked 12 rounds for each thumb. Unfortunately, there were two knots in the skein, both of which landed in the right mitt, which is partly why the color shifts so much more often on that mitt, but I don't mind. I kind of love how delightfully mismatched they are.

    With this realization in mind, I'm planning to make sure I've got at least one mindless project going at all times, and last night I cast on for a three-color Inkling with some super lovely shades of Berroco Ultra Alpaca:

    I think it should keep me busy for a little while.

    --

    In other news, I'm putting together wholesale linesheets this week and I finally have hard copies of several Paper Tiger patterns (including the FW 13 collection) ready to go. If you're a yarn store or other retailer interested in carrying Paper Tiger patterns, shoot me an email at dianna (at) paper-tiger.net to request a linesheet.

    Comments
  • stars on the brain

    I've followed the work of artist Dan-ah Kim for several years now, and I've even got a few of her pieces up on the walls at Paper Tiger, so I was ecstatic when I saw that she's released her first children's picture book, If I Lived in the Sky.

    photo via Dan-ah Kim

    I'm such a sucker for a good night sky illustration, and Dan-ah's pretty amazing at those. Her paintings have a lovely textural quality, often incorporating additional layers of paper or fabric as well as stitched elements in addition to the textured surface of the paint itself, and while a lot of that depth is lost in book format, the mixed media still comes through and it's a breathtaking little book. Mine's already come in the mail and if you'd like a copy of your own, it's available for $11.84 on Amazon.

    I've had starry skies on my mind a lot lately (I recently finished reading The End of Night, by Paul Bogard - a book I would highly recommend it to anyone who is a human) so it's no surprise that when I stopped by my local yarn store after getting this package in the mail I walked away with a couple of skeins of Tosh Merino Light in the Stargazing colorway.

    It's an exceptionally difficult color to photograph accurately, but it's all deep rich blues, with purples and greens thrown in, rather like the Northern Lights. The sense of depth, of light and of shadow, is the hardest thing to capture in a photo. It's pretty remarkable. I got to thinking that it would look really lovely as some kind of beaded shawl - where the beads are like stars - and then I remembered Audry Nicklin's Southern Skies and Celestarium, two circular shawls that are celestial maps of the sky over the southern hemisphere and the northern hemisphere, respectively. Could there be a more perfect set of patterns for a colorway called "stargazing"? So I'm pretty sure my three skeins will become a Celestarium, eventually. I say "eventually" because I've got a few patterns to wrap up before I can dedicate that much time to a personal project (and more on those upcoming patterns soon).

    Fore more starry-related goodness, I'd also recommend Find the Constellations and The Stars: A New Way to See Them by H. A. Rey, of Curious George fame. 

    Comments
  • sweaters tell stories

    I learned to knit from my mother, who in turn learned from her grandmother, and so on, and so forth. While I've always really admired those knitters who learned to knit not because of any family history but simply because they were interested in it, I must admit that having a family connection to the craft has always made it special for me. I learned as a kid, but I didn't really get into knitting, branching out and learning new techniques, until I left for college. I certainly enjoyed it (and obviously still do!), but I think on some level it was also really nice to have something to connect me to my mother and my roots when I was away from home. It was something we could bond over whenever I came back to visit, too. 

    In the age of Ravelry my mom's started knitting again in earnest, especially as she's moved towards retirement and had more time for it. She's branching out and learning new techniques, or in some cases, re-learning old techniques, too. But mom knit a lot when she was younger. She knit a lot in an age where knitting patterns could be pretty... interesting. I mean, let's be real. Knitting and crocheting got kind of weird in the 1960's and 70's with the introduction of synthetic fibers on a grand scale. And while digging old stuff out of her closet, mom came across this particularly wonderful specimen of a sweater she made in the 70's and she sent it my way. 

    At first glance, there's a lot going on. A yoke festooned with bobbles and lace, a knit-purl textured pattern on the body and sleeves, ribbing of cables and lace at the cuffs and hem, and a crocheted chain drawstring at the waist. And then you see the other side...

    ...where the bobbles continue down the front of the sweater. And the drawstring ends in tassels! With bobbles! Bobbled tassels! My, but there is a lot going on in this sweater. But there' another surprise to reveal:

    This sweater is a cardigan, and the center column of bobbles serves as buttons (with a crocheted chain running down the opposite side, to loop over the buttons. I have to admit the bobbles don't make particularly functional buttons, as the loops have a tendency to pull right off of them, but it's still a pretty genius idea. Mom sent a photo of herself wearing the sweater on a trip to Romania that I'd love to share, but I haven't had a chance to scan it yet.

    It's easy for me to see this being a pretty fashionable little piece when my mom first knit it. I have to say, though, that while I don't think I could pull it off in my own everyday wardrobe, I've seen echoes  of similar design features in much more current pieces. I wouldn't be shocked to see it on a contemporary runway or on the racks at Anthropologie. The first thing this sweater reminded me of was James Coviello's Snow Drop Jacket, pictured below left. That design's from 2008 and was published as a knitting pattern in Vogue Knitting as well as a finished piece at Anthropologie under the name Aestival Gust Cardi.


    At left, "Snow Drop Jacket / Aestival Gust Cardi" by James Coviello;
    at right, "Ruby" by Joan McGowan-Michael

    I was also reminded of the sweater at right, Ruby, by Joan McGowan-Michael. It's a veritable bobble party, with lace and ribbon to boot. I believe Ruby was also published in 2008. They are all three very unique and in some ways very different pieces, but they all share a certain loudness and attitude I can't help but admire. 

    I love scoping out knits at vintage stores, because I never know what I'll find. My favorite vintage store nearby is Trove, in Ballard, and they've often got a diverse offering of knits on hand. Some are machine knits, and some are old hand knits, but I love them both. I love taking a closer look to figure out how things were constructed, what they were made of. Often I can ask the owners where they got them from - an estate sale, a thrift store, somewhere else? I've long been entranced by this bird sweater, because the entire colorwork pattern is duplicate-stitched over the sweater itself. Did the sweater come that way? Did some crafty lady think her white sweater was boring and decide to embroider a bird on it? Who knows! I've also picked up a Dale of Norway sweater that someone had obviously accidentally felted, and I just got a crazy colorwork cardigan made by the Jersild Sweater Company of Neenah, Wisconsin. Some internet searching revealed that Jersild was absorbed by this company and they're still making sweaters today.

    In the meantime, while I may not wear it, I'm hanging on to mom's sweater for now. It tells a great story, and for me, that's enough. (Additionally, a very happy birthday to my mother today!)

    Comments
  • finished faire du vélo

    Back in November I wrote that I'd finished my Faire du Vélo bike sweater, which I started last June (I blogged about it here and here). I hadn't gotten any finished photos yet because it really won't be warm enough to wear it for a few more months, as I designed it with spring, summer, and autumn mornings and evenings in mind, but I thought it was about time I got some photos so that I could share it with you all.

    I think I really managed to execute my idea - a handknit zip-up sweater with the feel of an oldschool cycling jersey - and I'm quite pleased about that. I really love the stripes, even if the blue and the turquoise are a bit close in color. It's knit in one piece from the bottom up, totally seamless, with the zipper sewn in afterwards. I typically do a cable cast on to start a project because I find it a comfortable and easy cast on to do, and it's versatile enough to work for the different sorts of things I knit, but I decided to try out a tubular bind off at the neck, and oh man, am I a convert. It's ingenius. I'll have to give the cast on a try as well. This was also my first time sewing a zipper into my knitting, and I didn't quite get the stripes to line up perfectly in front, but they're close enough to not bother me too badly, and now I know for next time that I should definitely baste the two sides together before I pin in the zipper.

    I'm not certain if I'm going to work up a pattern for this or not (it's not high on my to-do list, anyway) but I have a good handle on the changes I'd like to make if I do decide to do that. I'd work the edges with the tubular cast on and bind off, and I'd probably work in some short rows at the back before joining the sleeves for the yoke, so that the back of the neck would sit higher than the front. I'm quite pleased with the stripe sequences and the raglan shaping, though, and I'm looking forward to wearing this as we head into spring in a few months' time (and perhaps I can get some photos of it in action when I do). I don't typically knit anything this bold or sporty, so this was a fun change of pace.

    (The ravelry project page for this sweater can be found here.)

    Comments
  • knitting from repeat-based charts

    One of the things you're likely to encounter as a knitter, whether you're working in lace, cables, or colorwork, is a repeat-based chart. Some folks don't like knitting from charts all that much and would prefer to work from a pattern where the instructions are written out, which works just fine for many cable or lace patterns, but it's a little tricky to do any colorwork without using a chart. And so I love charts. They are incredibly useful, and with a repeat-based chart, we're able to save lots of space in the written pattern as well.

    First thing's first: what is a repeat-based chart? In short, it's a small chart, where each row on the chart is worked a certain number of times per row/round of knitting and the total number of rows on the chart can be repeated as well. We'll start with a simple example, for those who are new to charts:

    As you can see, this chart has four rows and four columns which are numbered in the order in which they're knit - that is, you start "reading" the chart at the bottom right, work your way from right to left across the row, then move to the next row above it, again working from right to left. While this feels backwards compared to how we read lines on a page, this is exactly how our stitches line up as we work them, and so this is how we orient the chart.* 

    When you see a chart like this, which is only 4 stitches wide, and you're working a round that has 40 stitches, you know you're going to be working in a series of repeats. This means you'll knit each row of the 4-stitch repeat 10 times (to fill all 40 stitches) before you move on to the next row of the chart. The best way to visualize this is to take our sample chart and line up 10 repeats side by side:

    We can see how 10 repeats of the 4x4 chart adds up to 40 stitches, and it's easier to see how the repeats line up to form the pattern. 

    A really great example of repeat-based charts in action is my Pine Bough Cowl (rav link - Skacel link -as it's a free pattern, you can download it if you want to see the whole thing). I wanted to use Pine Bough Cowl as an example because I've had a few questions from knitters starting the cowl who were new to this type of chart and weren't sure exactly how to use it (the pattern writing in this particular pattern is pretty bare bones, it must be said).

    Here's a look at one of the charts:

    The pattern reads:

    Chart A: section 1 one time, section 2 three times, section 3 one time.

    This relies pretty heavily on knowledge of how the chart works, so I wanted to walk through it step by step. This chart looks a lot like the example shown above, only larger. The biggest difference here, though, is that the chart is broken up into three sections (numbered 1, 2, and 3 on the left side). These are the sections referred to in the pattern text. These sections could effectively be their own individual charts, but they're oriented this way so that you can see how the patterns line up.

    Breaking down the pattern instructions, we're told to work section 1 one time. The number of stitches per round for this pattern is 100, and this chart is 10 stitches wide. This means we'll work each row of the chart 10 times per round of knitting. So to work section 1, I would work row 1 of the chart 10 times, row 2 of the chart 10 times, and row 3 of the chart 10 times, for 3 complete rounds. That completes section 1.

    Next, we're instructed to work section 2 three times. This works just like section 1, except that when we finish section 2 we go back to the first row of section 2 of the chart (row 4). We do this until we have worked all 10 rounds of section 2 three times. (So working section 2 three times means working 30 rounds of knitting).

    Lastly, for Chart A, we work section 3 one time. The first row of section 3 of the chart (row 14) gets worked 10 times to fill the round, then the second row of section 3 of the chart gets worked 10 times, and so on and so forth until you have completed section 3.

    We can visualize this with some voluminous copy-and-paste usage to line up the actual number of repeats side by side, as we did with the simple example above.

    I've left spaces between the repeats (and larger spaces between the sections) so that we don't lose sight of the original chart - for when lined up like this, the pattern takes over - and I've omitted the numbers, but this is essentially a chart that is 100 stitches wide and 43 rows tall, where each box represents a stitch you're actually knitting based on the instructions. I think being able to visualize how a repeat-based chart lines up to create the pattern is a really useful tool in being able to read charts comfortably.

    It becomes easy to see why repeat-based charts are useful, as well, when you see how much space the expanded chart would take up!

    If you have any questions or experiences with this type of chart, please feel free to share them in the comments.

    --

    ***A side note for those who download the Pine Bough Cowl pattern: there is an error in the file that Skacel has yet to correct, in the section that follows:

    Rep Chart A, Chart B and Stripe Section 2 three times for a total of four times.

    This incorrectly omits Stripe Section 1, and so it should read:

    Rep Chart A, Stripe Section 1, Chart B, and Stripe Section 2 three times for a total of four times.

    --

    * Update: Thanks to Jayne for pointing out in the comments that this is only true if you're knitting the traditional right-handed way; many left-handed knitters typically knit left-to-right, which is often referred to as knitting "backwards." The important point is that the chart mirrors the right-side surface of your knitting, so you want to work the stitches of the chart in the same order as you're actually knitting stitches - working from right-to-left if you're working the traditional right-handed way, or working from left-to-right if you're a lefty or if you just have a liking for knitting in the opposite direction. There's a great Craftsy article on left-handed knitting here.

    Comments
  • 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?

    Comments
  • monday inspiration

    It's a rainy Monday here in Seattle, but the rain is amping up the cozy vibes, since I'm laid up on the couch under a wool blanket (feeling pretty under the weather today). I finished my Faire du Vélo bike sweater last week, and I hope to grab some photos soon, but as that clearly won't be happening today, I thought I'd share a few beautiful things I'm feeling inspired by instead... 

    Photo courtesy Karen Templer

    Karen Templer of Fringe Association introduced her lovely Yarn Pyramid print a few days ago, available from Fringe Supply Co. here. Using the idea of the oldschool Food Pyramid, Karen's created (along with the help of a few talented friends) a Yarn Pyramid with recommended doses of different types of fibers, from sheep's wool building the foundation at the bottom to synthetic fibers at the very top ("use sparingly"). The posters are 16"x20" and letterpress-printed, so I bet they're gorgeous in person. Any fiber enthusiast would be happy to hang this on their wall, myself included.

    I also wanted to share a rather unique pattern I came across while browsing my recommended pattern highlights on Ravelry. Kieran Foley's Sari completely took my breath away. I've never seen a pattern quite like this:


    Photo copyright Kieran Foley

    Inspired by Indian embroidery and filigree patterns, Kieran's made use of Erica Heftmann's beautiful colorshiftyarn to create the contrasting gradients. The combination of stranded colorwork, intarsia, and lace knitting makes this stole unlike any knit piece I've ever seen before. It's an amazing marriage of pattern and yarn.



    Photo copyright Kieran Foley

    Kieran's Sari pattern is available on Ravelry here, and there's also a kit available with the necessary yarn if you wanted to create your own version of the sample (the pattern is not included in the yarn kit). Get the yarn kit here. You can see more of Kieran's work at his website, kieranfoley.com.

    -

    I also want to say thank you for all the wonderful feedback I've received on my new designs. It's been difficult to keep everything under wraps for the past few months: the collection, Pom Pom, Brooklyn Tweed, but it's a joy to finally share all that work with the world and I couldn't be happier with the reception. Every kind word, comment, rav favorite/queue, and of course, pattern purchase, means the world to me. A heartfelt thank you to you all.

    Comments
  • brooklyn tweed / sundottir

    I have a very big piece of news today: I'm incredibly honored to have a design in the newest guest designer collection by Brooklyn Tweed, Wool People Volume 6. I've been a longtime fan of Brooklyn Tweed patterns and I fell in love with their yarns this year, so it's a dream come true to have a pattern in the collection. My design is a seamless bottom-up pullover called Sundottir, with a round yoke featuring stranded colorwork. Those of you who have been following the blog for a long time may remember a sweater I knit for myself three years ago with the same name; it was the first sweater I'd ever knit without a pattern, and when I finished it, I hoped to turn it into a pattern eventually. Better late than never, right?

    I met Jared (of Brooklyn Tweed) at the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival in Tacoma, Washington earlier this year, around the time BT was starting to put ideas together for Wool People 6. When Jared invited me to submit a few ideas, Sundottir was the first submission I put together. I was thrilled when it was the idea the team decided to go with, because I couldn't have imagined a better way to finally release this design as a pattern. My prototype has seen a lot of wear as my go-to sweater, and it's traveled the world with me. It's pretty near and dear to my heart.

    I made a few improvements to the design as I transitioned from prototype to pattern. The original sweater had no shaping to dip the yoke so that the neck opening was higher in the back and lower in the front, so the pattern features short row shaping before and after the stranded colorwork to make the yoke height taller in the back for a more comfortable fit. The original yoke chart was a repeat of 16 stitches, making it difficult to grade for different sizes, so I tweaked the chart a little bit to make it an 8-stitch repeat. I'm quite pleased with how it turned out! The sweater is also worked on smaller needles than my prototype was, so that the colorwork is easier to knit (I had trouble keeping my strand tension even on the yoke of the prototype because of the larger needle size on the original). All in all, I think the changes I made are all improvements that make a more comfortable, versatile pullover than the original. I might have to knit myself a new one out of Shelter in Almanac and Snowbound, although I love the muted palette of the sample I knit for Brooklyn Tweed (in Truffle Hunt and Fossil). Truffle Hunt is one of the Brooklyn Tweed yarn colors that seems to get used less, but I loved working with it - it's full of depth and the blue flecks are just gorgeous. It's a really rich and beautiful color in person.

    As written, the sweater is intended to be worn with no ease or negative ease, though I think it looks great with a little bit of positive ease as well (as seen on the Brooklyn Tweed models). I got a quick snap of myself in the sample before I sent it off, so you can see what it looks like with a little less ease (there's about a half inch of negative ease at the bust when I'm wearing it):

    The list of designers for Wool People 6 is quite impressive, so I'm incredibly flattered to be among them. You can check out the rest of the patterns for Wool People 6 and view the lookbook on the Brooklyn Tweed website, and you can view the full details for Sundottir on the Ravelry page here. Thank you to Jared and Brooklyn Tweed for letting me be a part of this collection.

    All photos copyright Brooklyn Tweed except the last two photos, which are mine.

    Comments
  • pom pom quarterly no. 7: winter 2013

    It's another week of new pattern news: I'm incredibly thrilled to have a design in the new issue of Pom Pom Quarterly! Pom Pom is one of my favorite magazines and as winter is my favorite season, I'm delighted to be in the winter issue. For those who are unfamiliar, Pom Pom's a UK-based independent magazine that's beautifully produced on heavy paper and just the right size to stash in your project bag. Each issue features both knit and crochet patterns as well as recipes and articles, and often other crafts, too. My design is a little hat called Fjordland:


    Photos by Juju Vail for Pom Pom Quarterly

    Worked up in three colors of fingering weight yarn, the stranded colorwork is inspired by traditional Norwegian knitting, but my favorite part has got to be the crown. The decreases are used in combination with more stranded colorwork to create an eight-pointed star quite similar to the iconic Selbu rose. 

    I won't go too far into my inspiration here on the blog, because I wrote an accompanying article that tells that story which can be found in the magazine, but I can tell you that it has to do with my trip to Tromsø last January and that the colors are based on the northern lights. With the northern sky theme in mind, I enjoy how the eight-pointed star sits atop the hat, like the north star would sit in the sky if you were at 90 degrees north on the map. 

    Fjordland is a great hat for using up partial skeins of yarn, too - I actually knit my sample using the leftovers from Amiina and Vasa!

    The pattern is written for three different sizes, and you can view more information about it on the Ravelry page here. The other nine patterns in this issue are gorgeous, so it's absolutely worth it to order a copy, which you can do right here (they've already begun shipping preorders!). If you'd prefer to pick it up from your local yarn store, here's a list of stores that carry Pom Pom.

    Comments
  • tolt yarn and wool

    Happy Monday! The highly anticipated opening of Tolt Yarn and Wool in Carnation, Washington was this past weekend, and I'm so excited to share a few photos with you. There are also links galore, so grab a cup of something warm and delicious to keep you company while you peruse.

    Anna, the shop's owner, was absolutely instrumental in making the photoshoots for Paper Tiger Fall/Winter 13 a possibility, and the lookbook wouldn't have been possible without her help. She is one of the most awesome people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting, and I'm so proud of all of her hard work on the store and I'm incredibly excited she gets to share her vision with the world now that it's open.

    The store is lofty and large; it's a really beautiful old space on Carnation's little main drag. It's thoughtfully designed and laid out, too. I remember that Anna was dismayed when she realized the old hardwood floor was in bad enough shape that they'd have to tear it out, but in an effort to preserve some of the space's history, much of the wood from the floor was salvaged and used on the south wall of the space. It adds warmth and character that would have otherwise been lost. Anna's stocked the store with both hardy wools as well as more luxurious yarn options (being a fan of both, I'm very happy about this). She's also carrying several Skacel yarns and Ístex Létt-Lopi, which makes it great place to pick up yarn if you're planning to make, say, Moon Pulls or Nikoline. Also in stock is HiKoo Kenzie, so you're covered if you want to make a Pine Bough Cowl. There's even a sample on display in the little Kenzie corner!

    Andrea Rangel, who was just down here in Seattle for Knit Fit, designed a pair of patterns to celebrate the store's opening, and the pieces are proudly on display front and center when you walk in the door. Aren't the Tolt Hat and Mitts beautiful? I love the subtle color shifts of the contrasting yarn, one by Spincycle Yarns (also locals, up in Bellingham!).

    The notions, bags, and other accessories in stock at Tolt are also pretty crush-worthy. There are some sweet goods from Fringe Supply Co. and I really liked these bags from Such Sweet Tierney. One of those Tolt mugs came home with me, too.

    I can tell I'll be making many trips over Lake Washington to visit this cozy space. If you have a chance, you should make the trip yourself, whether you're local or you're just traveling through the Pacific Northwest! You definitely won't regret it. Visit the website for Tolt Yarn and Wool at toltyarnandwool.com, and be sure to follow the blog if you'd like to keep up with what's going on!


    (click on that last image to make it larger) 

    Comments
  • fall/winter 2013: acorn teeth

    Wrapping up my posts on Paper Tiger Fall/Winter 13, we've got Acorn Teeth! I'm sure these mitts look familiar to some of you, since the first version of this pattern was released about a year ago. The original pattern featured a large 70-stitch-wide chart for the whole mitt and only came in one size, so I decided to overhaul it for the collection. I simplified the chart, which is now just a 12-stitch repeat, added two more sizes as some knitters had fit issues, and the pattern's been fully tech edited for the first time.

    The original samples were knit with a Hungarian yarn, Barka, and the specific line has been discontinued (which makes me very sad, because my brown/grey pair has held up better than anything I've ever knit, and they've seen a lot of wear. That yarn was fantastic). I chose Zitron Lifestyle to work up the new sample, which reflects the chart changes in the pattern. This yarn's pretty similar to the Barka yarn I originally worked with, though there are differences in fiber content. Zitron Lifestyle is a superwash merino, billed as a sport weight (though it could mass for a fingering weight), knit at a dense gauge here for extra warmth and stability.

    In hindsight, I wish I'd picked two contrasting colors that weren't quite so close in color, but these mitts were a hit at Knit Fit, so I guess it doesn't take away from the design too much! One of my favorite things about Acorn Teeth is that it uses three colors (although never more than two per round), and the finished knits look so different depending on your color choice. It's a world of opportunity.

    If you plan to substitute yarn, I'd recommend a smooth yarn over a rougher wool that might grab more because of the dense gauge. Also because of the dense gauge, swatching's especially important here. Not sure what to do with your swatch? If you don't want to unravel it, I've found that swatches for socks and mittens worked in the round make pretty fantastic cup cozies, which'll save you needing a cardboard sleeve for your take-away coffee.

    If you bought the first version of Acorn Teeth on Ravelry, you should have received a notification that a new version was available for you to download (if not, please let me know!). If you're new to this pattern, the PDF version is available along with a full list of details including yarn and needle requirements on the Ravelry page for Acorn Teeth.

    Comments
  • stranded knitting: the importance of color dominance

    Since I have a tendency to use stranded colorwork in my designs, I thought I'd write about an element of stranded colorwork that often gets overlooked: color dominance

    So what the heck is it? When working with two colors of yarn in stranded knitting, there is a subtle difference in how the colors show up in pattern, depending upon how they’re carried behind the work. The dominant color will stand out better than the background color; this means that in a two-color pattern, when the contrasting color is dominant, it will appear bold and strong, whereas if the main color is dominant, the pattern may appear more delicate and lacy, or simply weak. I typically like to hold the contrasting color as the dominant yarn, but this is really a matter of personal preference.

    To get an idea of what kind of difference this makes, take the pair of gloves I posted about yesterday:

    These gloves have been a WIP so long (sorry, mom) that they were started before I knew about color dominance. If you take a close look at the motif on the cuff, where the brackets are on the photo, you can see the difference that color dominance makes. The cuff of the left glove was worked with the contrasting color (blue) held dominant, whereas the cuff of the right glove was worked with the main color (white) held dominant. Like I said, whether you want to hold your main color or your contrasting color as your dominant color is totally up to you, but be sure to stay consistent throughout your knitting, or you'll wind up with ever-so-slightly mismatched parts, like in the gloves above.

    The dominant color strands, or floats, below the background color on the wrong side of your knitted fabric (in relation to the direction that you're knitting). In the photo below (of the wrong side of Nikoline), the arrows are pointing to the floats on a round where three stitches of white are followed by a stitch of blue. The blue yarn "floats" across the back of the three white stitches, and the white yarn "floats" across the back of the blue stitch. You can see how the blue float (the dominant color) sits below the white float (the background color).

    This is the case no matter what method of stranded knitting you prefer, but typically the two working yarns are carried as follows: 

    Two-handed stranded knitting:

    The dominant color is held in the left hand, while the background color is held in the right hand.

    -

    Both yarns on the same hand:

    Whether you hold both working yarns in your left hand for Continental knitting (this is my method of choice), or both in your right hand for English knitting, the dominant color is held to the left of the background color. There are a few different versions of this method; some knitters find it more comfortable to have one yarn looped around the index finger and the other looped around the middle finger, while others prefer to keep both strands on one finger, but you'll have to experiment to figure out what works best for you.

    -

    One yarn at a time:

    If you prefer to hold only the working yarn you’re knitting with, leaving the other strand to hang down at the back of the work, it’s best to set the ball for the dominant color yarn to the left of the ball for the background color yarn in front of you, and ensure that your strands don’t get twisted when you’re picking them up and putting them down. In the photos above you can see how the white yarn hangs loose while I'm working with the blue yarn, and vice versa.

    I try to keep the ball of yarn for my dominant color to the left of the ball of yarn for my background color, regardless of which method I'm using, as it helps me remember which color to hold in dominant position.

    One more tip: to keep the tension of your knitting and your floats nice and even, try periodically stretching out the stitches you've just worked on your right needle. Don't stretch them too far, but if you space them out so that the fabric lies flat, you'll get a good idea of what's happening with your tension and you can adjust as you progress. You can see how I've spaced out the stitches just worked on my right needle below:

    I'd love to hear any other tips people have for working in stranded colorwork, and feel free to ask questions or share your experience in the comments!

    Comments
  • fall/winter 2013: elskling

    I may be a little biased, but I love the backstory for Elskling. Elskling means "darling" in Norwegian, and it's based on the sweater I designed and knit for my winter wedding. Our winters in Seattle may be mild, but I knew I was going to need some outdoor cover with my sleeveless dress in February.

    (Photo by the incredibly talented Jenny Jimenez, and my muff bouquet was made using Tiny Owl Knits' tiny violet hand puff pattern.)

    As a result, this design works very well in formal situations. The prototype in the photo above has a brooch closure, but I've found that this cardigan transitions very well into a more casual everyday piece, and so I've included instructions for optional buttonholes in the pattern for a more standard button closure.

    Elskling is worked from the bottom up, and like everything else in the collection, it's entirely seamless. I made a few changes to the design going from prototype to pattern, and one of the changes I'm happiest with is the way the lace rib motif from the sleeve is carried through the ribbed cuff, so that the motif truly runs the length of the arm from wrist to neck. The stitches for the small shawl collar are picked up from the edge of the body.

    The wool I used for the prototype certainly kept me warm on my wedding day, but it wasn't the softest stuff to have next to bare skin. This was on my mind as I searched for the right yarn for this pattern. On my trip to Skacel to check out yarn, I fell in love with Schoppel-wolle Alpaka Queen, and even though the color range is more limited than other yarns (all the colorways are natural shades), I knew it was the yarn for Elskling. Alpaka Queen may be the softest yarn I've ever worked with. It was truly a treat. I went with a lighter shade of grey for the pattern sample, because it really highlights the texture of the lace rib nicely. (If you're looking for a wider range of colors, I think Schoppel's IN Silk would be a nice substitute.)

    Kathleen (my model) and I really enjoyed this shoot, too. We were in the most beautiful wooded sheep pasture I've ever seen, and Kathleen even got to feed the sheep! Cheviots are a little bit wary of strangers, but food breaks down all kinds of barriers. I think this breed is one of the most statuesque I've ever seen. So pretty! Huge thanks to Janya, who let us work in the pasture and hang out with her sheep.

    For a full list of details including yarn and needle requirements, and to purchase the pattern, visit the Ravelry page for Elskling. I can't wait to see everyone's different versions!

    Comments
  • knit fit! wrap-up and other updates

    I took a day off yesterday after working all weekend at Knit Fit! and getting caught up on a few other things earlier this week, but I'll be sharing the next post about the Fall/Winter patterns later this afternoon! In the meantime, I thought I'd share a few updates!

    I had the MOST fun at the Paper Tiger booth in the Knit Fit marketplace, and I want to extend a huge thank you to Hannah and Sasa, who put on this event. It was incredibly fun to have such a fantastic marketplace bustling with activity just up the road from the Paper Tiger HQ! I also want to thank everybody who stopped by my booth. So much of what I do involves sitting at a computer, whether I'm writing a pattern, sending emails, or spending time on Ravelry, and while I love being able to see the beautiful pieces knitters make using my patterns, nothing compares to actually getting to interact with them in person. I had patterns and samples on hand for the entire Fall/Winter 13 collection, as well as my bestseller Vasa, and it was so much fun to talk to knitters about the pieces and to see folks trying them on. And a HUGE thank you to everyone who bought patterns! I have to admit I was a little nervous going into this kind of marketplace with only patterns to sell, but I clearly didn't have to be. It was such a worthwhile experience.

    While I am working on a few new patterns (if you picked up a coupon card at Knit Fit, you got a little sneak peek at one of them!), I'm looking forward to things slowing down a little bit now that the collection's finally out. As a result, one of my main goals for the next several weeks is to knock out some of my long-term WIPs that have been languishing for the last few months (some for much longer). Here's a look at some personal projects that are on the needles:

    Row 1: faire du vélo, alpaca lily mittens 
    Row 2: lillebarns marius, hansker til mor 
    Row 3: winter is coming, norske sokker

    Some of these projects are closer than others to being finished; Faire du Vélo is really quite close so I've been working on that one, and the gloves for my mother (hansker til mor) just need fingers, and they're long overdue, so they're high priority. The Icelandic shawl (winter is coming) is actually also really close, but I don't know how I'm ever going to figure out where in the lace repeats I am. The biggest problem with my WIP pile is that they really are all things I want to finish. How do you motivate yourself to finish long-term WIPs?

    Comments