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  • recent FOs

    After a summer full of sample knitting for patterns, I was eager to get a bunch of personal projects off the needles once fall hit. I'm happy that I've managed to finish a few things recently, and I thought I'd share a few photos with you all.

    First up was my Garland sweater (which I initially wrote about planning to knit in this post, and I gave a little progress update here). I started it back at the beginning of May, but it got set aside when I needed to dedicate my knitting time to work knitting, and then it got packed with all our stuff in the move from Norway to Montréal, so when I was finally able to pull it out of a moving box in mid-October I was super eager to finish it (it was really close!).

    I will admit that I had some moments of doubt while this project was a work in progress, because both the color and the silhouette of the sweater are not my usual wheelhouse. I'd also never knit a sweater with laceweight yarn before. As a result, the finished garment was a pleasant suprise, because this is easily one of my favorite sweaters to wear that I've ever knit. The light weight of the fabric makes it super wearable and great for layers, and the cropped length means it's easy to layer over long shirts with jeans or skirts and dresses, which means it's one of the more versatile sweaters now in my wardrobe. It's very comfortable but there's a casual elegance about it too, with the bands of lace and the way the ribbed sleeves hug my arms without feeling tight. 

    The pattern is by Stefanie Pollmeier, from the winter 2013 issue of Pom Pom Quarterly (issue 7). I believe this pattern is still only available as part of the magazine. For yarn I used Welthase yak lace, rather than a mohair lace like the pattern was originally written for, and for me the yarn choice is definitely part of why this sweater already feels so versatile. Miriam, the dyer behind Welthase, has a wonderful sense of color, and I became pretty enamored with her pinks after getting to use her single fingering base for my Swedish Pancakes mitts

    I also finished what I've called my Pewter Cowl, a simple 1x1 ribbed cowl in Woolfolk Tynd.

    This was my mindless bus knitting project for months - something I could pick up and put down to work on whenever I had a moment without ever needing to refer to a pattern. It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to make with this yarn (Woolfolk's wool is very, very soft) and in the end a simple and easy-to-wear project felt like the right way to let the yarn do the talking. The softness means it's suitable for against-the-neck wear, and it's relative lack of sturdiness will be less of an issue as a cowl than it would have been if I'd made mitts with this yarn, as I intended when I purchased it three years ago. I'm really pleased with this, but now I think I need a new mindless 1x1 rib project to work on...

    The last piece I want to share is my finished Circlet Shrug. The pattern is by Norah Gaughan, a creative force when it comes to cables, and she originally designed it for the third issue of Making magazine, which came out this past spring. (She will be releasing it as an individual pattern in the coming days, but I suggest checking out the whole issue of Making, because it's a beautiful issue!)

    This knit needed a lot of attention - there are cables every other row for the entirety of the sweater (save the bottom ribbing), and I had maybe almost memorized the chart by the time I was working the final repeats of the back. But it was a super interesting knit nonetheless, and I really adore the finished fabric. The Hillesvåg Tinde has such depth as a yarn, and I'm so pleased with how it's worked up into these cables. This was the last yarn I bought before we left Norway, so it's a bit of a special souvenir. I finished this the week after Rhinebeck, which I had originally hoped to knit it for, but given the temps we had during the days, I'm happy I didn't push myself to stress out over finishing. 

    Even though I design patterns myself, there is so much joy for me in getting to knit some of the beautiful pieces that my friends and colleagues have designed. But not to worry, I am working on more of my own patterns, too - I've also recently bound off on a garment design for an upcoming Paper Tiger collection! But more about that on another day. What are you all working on as we head into the tail end of the year?

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  • a rhinebeck weekend

    This time a week ago I was at my very first Rhinebeck. I took the train back to Montreal last Monday, a journey which is much longer than it seems like it should be (nine hours!), but I'm glad I had a little bit of time to myself to decompress after a whirlwind weekend before diving back into real life. What a wonderful weekend it was.

    I've wanted to write about it, but how is it possible to say everything I want to say about the weekend? While I enjoyed the festival itself, it was truly the magical combination of the festival, the fall colors and atmosphere, and especially the presence of a huge number of friends I don't get to see very often that made the weekend what it was. 

    It's admittedly a little strange to finally attend an event you've known about and watched others go to for years and years. There can be a lot of expectation tied up in the experience - is it is good as everyone says it is? Will I see everything I want to see? Do the apple cider donuts live up to the hype? (For the record, they do.) I think that for me, this trip came at exactly the right moment. I have been treading water a little bit since I left Norway and came to Montreal, trying to work out exactly who I am in this new city. Perhaps that sounds silly - I'm still me, after all - but I had become so accustomed to how I defined myself and presented myself to the world with Norway as a backdrop, that removing that backdrop and replacing it with something else left me feeling a little uncertain. Big moves and transitional periods don't always allow for a lot of self reflection in the moment, it turns out. It's after the fact that you realize there's something different about the person looking back at you in the mirror and you haven't figured out exactly what it is yet.

    So it was wonderful to have a new experience that made me feel very much like me, getting to spend time with friends I haven't seen since last year's Oslo Strikkefestival, or Edinburgh Yarn Fest 2016, or friends I'd never met in person but I've known a long time. This wooly knitting industry is overall a very warm and supportive place to be, and I am so glad for all of the people I get to call friends within it.

    I saw a lot of wonderful stuff last weekend. I fell in love with a number of yarns, but mostly stuck to my plan to buy one sweater's quantity as a souvenir (a few extra skeins came home with me, since Harrisville did a beautiful limited edition run of an irresistible blue). I was taking mental notes, though, checking out yarns I might want to try out in the future. I fell pretty hard for the naturally-dyed hues of Tidal Yarns's Romney wool, pictured below, and her booth was a reminder of why shows like this are so special - she doesn't sell her yarns online at all, but she does do around 15 shows a year.

    In the end, I didn't end up with a Rhinebeck sweater. I had been knitting away on my Circlet Shrug for a month and I got very close to finishing it - I was two cable repeats away from finishing the back. But with the weather in the 70s (fahrenheit), it worked out okay in the end. I finished knitting it on Wednesday, and will block it and seam the sides soon.. I did enjoy checking out the sweaters of those dedicated knitters (and crocheters) who wore their completed garments even in the heat. I also enjoyed checking out the animals.

    How could you not?

    I came home feeling refreshed, motivated, and creatively inspired. Thank you, New York Sheep & Wool, and thank you to everyone who made this weekend so special.

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  • 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.

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  • 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? 

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  • 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!

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  • 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.

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  • 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!

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  • 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?

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  • 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:

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  • 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!

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  • best of 2016

    Already we are the better part of a week into the new year, but I've been traveling and I've only just gotten home, so I hope you'll humor me with one or two looks back to 2016 in the coming days. Mostly I just wanted to pop by to say that I have a few blog posts in the pipeline, but in the meantime I decided to take a quick look at which of my blog posts from 2016 was most popular, and I thought you might find that interesting too:

    1. Norwegian wool: Rauma Garn
    2. Project Planning
    3. 42 norske kofter
    4. Norwegian wool: Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk
    5. Slow Fashion October: my first sweater

    I'm pleased there's been interest in the Norwegian wool series, as I'm planning to continue that into this year (and I already know which company I'll be featuring next). Other than Norwegian wool, Norwegian knitting and sweaters are both themes that came out on top - so I expect you'll be pleased once I get some proper photos taken for a post about my finished Sandneskofte, which I'm looking forward to writing. Looking beyond posts from just 2016, all of my support/tutorial posts got a lot of traffic as well, so I'm so pleased to see that those continue to be useful to knitters!

    There's a little bit of crossover with my most popular Instagram posts of 2016, which you can see here if you don't follow me on Instagram. 

    I'll be back very soon with more, but until then, I'm wishing you the happiest of new years for 2017! 

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  • inspiration: miscellany

    It's been awhile since I've done an old-school "inspiration" post, but at the beginning of this darkest week of the year, it's feeling like a good time to revive it. Here are a few things I'm really digging at the moment, as pictured above:

    Row 1: Rauma is selling several different ready-to-wear sweaters at Husfliden at the moment, most of which are recognizeable Norwegian classics like the Fana sweater, Marius, and the Setesdal sweater. I've become quite enamored with the cheery yellow Fana (left), which is a machine knit, as well as the Varde sweater (right), a less well-known pattern - but those greens! To be honest, the photos don't do either of the sweaters justice. If you're in Norway I suggest popping into a Husfliden store to check them out.

    Row 2: today I came across the incredibly detailed embroidery work of Chloe Giordano, whose wee creatures are so lifelike I can hardly believe it. While her original pieces are expensive to own (for good reason), she sells prints and card sets featuring her work as well, which is such a treat. She's on Instagram at @chloegiordano_embroidery.

    Row 3: German indie dyer Welthase has been running a special advent calendar this year with one-off yarns listed for one day only, and the colors have been absolutely slaying me. It's tough to actually nab any of these skeins, but fortunately for us, Miriam has a lot of beautiful non-advent yarns on offer as well (I used Miriam's yarns for my Swedish Pancakes pattern and it's gorgeous stuff). You can follow Miriam (and see all this year's advent calendar yarns) on Instagram at @welthase.

    Row 4: while I'm not sure I could pull it off in my home, these knitting-themed wallpapers from Murals Wallpaper are pretty fun and it's cool to see what types of fabric they feature. My favorite, unsurprisingly, is the stranded colorwork one, pictured on the left. The oversized stockinette, at right, reminds me of my friend Kathleen's big knitted rug

    I hope you have a good week this week, and wherever you are, I hope you have more daylight than I do!

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  • bladet garn

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

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

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

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

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

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  • first snow and FOs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • oslo strikkefestival: yarn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • FO: fringe and friends top-down knitalong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • slow fashion october: 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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?

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  • 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).

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  • 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!

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  • 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

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  • inspiration: this thing of paper

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

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

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

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

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

    May 26: Naomi Parkhurst

    May 27: Meg Roper

    May 30: Natalie Servant

    June 1: Jacqui Harding

    June 6: Woolly Wormhead

    June 8: Tom of Holland / Tom van Deijnen

    June 10: Ella Austin

    June 13: Leona Jayne Kelly of Fluph

    June 15: JacquelineM

    June 16: Felix Ford/KNITSONIK

    June 17: Clare Devine

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

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  • 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!

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  • 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.

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  • 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? 

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  • edinburgh yarn fest

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

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

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

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

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

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  • 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.

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  • quince & co.

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

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

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  • 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.

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  • 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!

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  • new year

    It's been a surreal start for 2016. Here's a glimpse:

    Emma Watson started an online feminist book club (it's called Our Shared Shelf, and you can join the group on Goodreads, if that's at all appealing). I read most of the first book, Gloria Steinem's My Life on the Road, on a flight to London over the weekend. My route back to Tromsø included an overnight stay in London where I got to hang out with Lydia of Pom Pom and some lovely folks at Loop. I didn't take any pictures until the train ride to Gatwick (that always happens these days), but I had a lot of fun. I love London.

    Monday morning I woke up at six (thanks, jet lag) and spent some quiet time hanging out in the tiny bed in my tiny hotel room. It was there that I learned about Bowie's passing, via Twitter. It felt absolutely unreal, and then I was just sad. It's still surreal.

    I finished My Life on the Road in the first hour of my flight from London to Tromsø. It was really, really excellent. I tweeted about this, and then Emma Watson replied and retweeted me (!). I've now had a (very) tiny glimpse of what it's like to be a celebrity on Twitter, and I'm grateful that's not my reality. Not only do I have a lot of respect and admiration for Emma, but she's an actress near my age who I watched grow up on screen, so the surreal score is off the charts for seeing my tweet right there at the top of her feed.

    I'm back in snowy, dark Tromsø now and the beauty of this place at this time of year is as surreal as ever. The days have been clear since I got back and the light's been incredible. In less surreal news, I've started classes for the new term and already have a stack of reading to do, but I've managed to get in a few stitches here and there on some small projects. I'm sensing a color theme; it might have something to do with the light outside. I love these wintry blues. Also, now that I'm thinking about it, the fern pattern and the tree motif have quite a lot in common...

    The embroidery is a kit I bought last summer at Urban Craft Uprising, from Studio MME. It's one of those fantastic and simple little kits where the pattern is printed right on the fabric so the stitching is relatively mindless but the end result is stunning (I'm sort of halfway through, so if you look very closely you can see the difference between my stitches and the printed bit I have yet to embroider). You can find this particular kit in their online shop (although it appears that it's now being sold with a round hoop, instead of the oval one I got). The knitting is another kit, a Toatie Hottie by Kate Davies. The pattern is for a hot water bottle cozy and the kit (not currently available in Kate's shop) came with yarn and pattern plust a mini-hot water bottle just for that purpose. I bought the kit ages ago and have actually used the hot water bottle several times, but I'm using it more regularly in Tromsø and I thought it was about time I actually knit the thing. I managed to knit most of it in an evening, getting through the whole chart with just the top bit and ribbing left.

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  • phileas yarns

    Arthur's Seat, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • aspen socks & legwarmers: 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!

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  • 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!

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  • 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.

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  • 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?

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  • 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.

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  • fringe hatalong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    All photos by Kathy Cadigan.

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  • around the net

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

    photo by Karen Templer

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

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

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

    twigandhorn.com

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

    images via twigandhorn.com

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

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  • 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!

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  • 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?

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  • woolful podcast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Top row, from left:

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

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

    Bottom row, from left:

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

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

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

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  • mittens in may!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • the fringe hat-along

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

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

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

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  • 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!

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  • moon sprites & icelandic wool month at tolt

    After releasing my F/W13 collection, I decided I wanted to knit something special as a thank you for the folks in Carnation who had helped make the photoshoot possible - Anna from Tolt Yarn and Wool and her friends and neighbors Shelley and Janya. Moon Pulls was already a collection favorite and I thought it'd be fun to knit each of them a hat inspired by Moon Pulls - and so I did!

    While I decided early on that I wanted to write the pattern for the hats, it took a little while for that plan to come to fruition. I had made two different versions of the hat when I knit the prototypes for Anna, Shelley, and Janya, and I had an idea for a third version I wanted to include as well. Deciding how best to incorporate three "views" (in the way a sewing patterns often include different views) into one knitting pattern took me some time, and actually sitting down and knitting different versions took a little bit of time, too. While the hat itself is a pretty quick knit, I had to fit in the knitting of the samples around many other projects.

    I knit the first three samples while in Iceland last spring during DesignMarch. Shopping for Lopi at the Handknitting Association's store in central Reykjavík convinced me that I shouldn't stop at three samples - one for each view - but rather I should knit at least two per view, in order to showcase different color combinations. There's such an immense opportunity for creativity with the wide palette of colors Ístex offers. In the end, I knit eight, all of which are featured in the pattern's pages to give you ideas for color pairings.

    Finally, a year after knitting the first pattern sample, Moon Sprites is available! Here's an overview of the three different pattern views:

    View A - three colors, colorblocked. This matches up with the sleeves on Moon Pulls.

    View B - three colors, without colorblocking. This matches up with the bottom of the body on Moon Pulls.

    View C - two colors only, colorblocked. 

    This pattern is absolutely fantastic at using up leftovers of Létt-Lopi (or any other aran-weight yarn, for that matter). It makes a great gauge swatch if you're planning to knit Moon Pulls. And with only a little bit of colorwork (seven rounds in total), it's also ideal for colorwork beginners. I love how much possibility is packed into one little hat pattern and I can't wait to see what beautiful versions knitters come up with!

    You can find Moon Sprites as a digital download on Ravelry, on Etsy, or on Kollabora, and the printed version is going to press as I type (they should be available at Tolt starting mid-week next week; if you're a store interested in carrying hard copies, email me at the address listed on the about page).

    Special thanks to Kathy Cadigan for the beautiful pattern photos!

    --

    To bring this whole thank-you-hat thing full circle, this month is Icelandic Wool Month at Tolt Yarn and Wool! The Tolt community is celebrating Icelandic wool and its wonderful properties, and you can share your Lopi projects on social media with the hashtag #tolticelandicwoolmonth. It's worth noting here that Tolt carries Einband, Létt-Lopi, Álafoss Lopi, and now Plötulopi, so you can get your Lopi fix in a variety of weights. Be sure to stop by Tolt if you can to check out Moon Pulls and Moon Sprites in person

    Anna and I were pretty excited when we realized the release of Moon Sprites would coincide with Icelandic Wool Month at Tolt. When she asked if I'd be willing to be one of this month's guest bloggers, I gladly said yes - so today I'm on the Tolt blog waxing poetic about Iceland! Thanks so much to Anna for inviting me to share!

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  • 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!

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  • stash less & thoughtful crafting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • swedish pancakes (pom pom spring 2015)

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

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

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

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

    (photo borrowed from the inimitable Jenny Jimenez)

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

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

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

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

    Pretty swanky.

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

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  • 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?

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  • 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

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