custom woolen mills

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One of the makes I finished in April was my Aveiro sweater, by Orlane Sucche of Tête Bêche Knitwear. I shared the early stages of this one back in February, and I think it was originally cast on in January, so I didn’t quite bang it out the way I’d originally hoped. But I’ve been planning to write about this one because I wanted to share my thoughts about the yarn in particular.

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I knit this up in yarn from Custom Woolen Mills, a mill in Alberta, Canada whose focus is Canadian-grown wool. For full disclosure, this yarn was sent to me free of charge to try out. I have long been interested in locally, or at least domestically-grown and produced wool yarns, so after we moved to Canada in 2017 I expressed an interest in that as well. I knew very little about Canadian wool or available Canadian wool yarns, and so when Custom Woolen Mills offered to let me try their mule-spun yarn I very gratefully accepted. I thought they might send 2-3 skeins; I did not expect them to send a sweater quantity! I received 6 skeins and a bundle of minis of their 2-ply mule-spun yarn (a worsted weight): 4 natural grey skeins, and the others were naturally dyed. The skeins are 4 oz. (112 grams) with 198m / 216 yds, making this a heavy worsted. I’d probably go as far as to call it an aran weight.

“Mule-spun” refers to the fact that the yarn is spun on a spinning mule, so named because it was a cross between the spinning jenny and the water frame. If you’ve read Clara Parkes’ Vanishing Fleece you may remember that one of her Great White Bale yarns was spun on a mule spinner in Maine, and that they’re a rarity these days (you’ll find that info in chapter 6).

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I decided to knit Aveiro with this yarn because I liked how it looked both in the pattern photos and people’s project photos, and it was easy to an additional color to the stripes so I’d be able to use both blues for the contrast. I knew the shape might be a little bit of a gamble – the raglan yoke is very deep to begin with, and I knit this at a slightly larger gauge than recommended so mine is even deeper (I went with a larger gauge since my yarn was slightly heavier than the yarn called for in the pattern). I’m still not sure if I’m sold on the shape, but otherwise I’m very fond of the finished sweater.

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As for the yarn: this is one of those yarns that really benefits from a good wash. The dyed colors smelled and felt more pleasant from the get-go, but the undyed grey either had some residual lanolin or spinning oil still in the yarn that I didn’t totally enjoy. When I blocked this sweater, I soaked it twice, emptying the water in between – I did the first soak with some of my shampoo in the water, and I used Soak wash (which is my usual wool wash) on the second soak. The finished sweater smells lovely and the residual oily feeling is definitely gone. The fabric blooms up marvelously with washing, as well.

On the downside, every skein had at least one knot. I’m not sure if there’s something about the mule spinning process that makes breakage (and thus knots) more likely, but some skeins even had multiple knots. I dealt with this by wet splicing the yarn wherever I encountered knots, which was mildly annoying, but no more than that. I also wet spliced each time I joined a new skein of the grey. The knots wouldn’t keep me from using this yarn again, given that it was relatively easy to join by splicing.

It feels like it’s going to wear very well, especially at this gauge, but as for that only time will tell!

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Thank you so much to Custom Woolen Mills for the yarn, and you can find additional details about my modifications, yarn amounts, etc. over on my Ravelry project page.

april

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The blog migration to WordPress is officially complete! Thanks for bearing with me as I’ve gotten everything moved over. Although I still have to go through my pattern catalog and fix all the broken links to support & tutorial posts, and that may take me some time to get through. If you find broken links elsewhere on the web, please feel free to let me know – I’d love to get them fixed.

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I feel like I have lots to catch up on here. April wasn’t busy, exactly, as it’s hard to feel busy when you spend so much time at home. But I did fill my time: knitting, sewing, baking, reading. Project planning. Garden planning. Planning planning planning. We are planning for a summer spent at home – and for once, we were actually planning on that anyway. I hope by July there’s an opportunity to do some more local travel within central Norway, but we shall see. Norway is slowly reopening (with restrictions), but I’m still trying to exercise an abundance of caution.

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I plan to share some of what I made in the month of April here on the blog very soon, so you can keep an eye out for that.

checking in

One piece of housekeeping before I get into this post: I was notified a few weeks ago that my web host will be shutting down by the end of May. I’ll need to migrate the entire Paper Tiger website to a new platform, which will take me some time. I’ll be moving to WordPress over the course of the next two months. If you’re an email subscriber of this blog (or if you use a blog reader), unfortunately I’ll have no way to transfer that email list, but I will give you some warning before I make the final transfer. The website will still be paper-tiger.net, but links to other pages will be changing. So I anticipate some hiccups, as I’ll need to update links to blog posts or tutorial pages in a whole long list of places: pattern PDFs, YouTube video descriptions, and so on. So I hope you’ll bear with me through that process and forgive any bumps in the road. Now, on to the post…

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Hello, all. I hope you’re as well as can be. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned life upside down for us all, and it’s a strange time to… well, to do much of anything. The Norwegian prime minister held a press conference on Thursday, March 12, announcing a number of initial measures they were taking to try to slow the spread, including closing schools and universities and instituting the social distancing policy we’re all now familiar with. March 12 was the first day I decided to work from home, and the press conference came as a relief, to know the government was taking the threat seriously and once they decided to take action, it was swift. My physical university campus is effectively shut down now, and employees have been instructed to work from home if they can. Looking at the calendar, today’s day 11 of isolation/social distancing/shelter-in-place/whatever your terminology. I’ve been out for walks at least every other day, and to the grocery store once, but otherwise, my partner and I are just home. There have been ups and downs, as you might expect, but overall we feel very lucky – lucky to be where we are (in this house, in this country), to not be worried about our jobs or work for the moment, to be able to go outside. We’re incredibly fortunate. We’re also worried about friends who have already lost their jobs, whose livelihoods are threatened. We’ve only seen the beginning of what this whole thing will bring.

It’s hard to know what to do to help, but I’ve been doing my best to support small businesses, both local and further afield. Even though I’ve been eager to knit from my stash this year (and I still am), I’ve been buying yarn I had no plans on buying a month ago. Buying patterns. Buying music on Bandcamp. Buying books. And feeling grateful to be able to lend that kind of support in some small way.

I find it hard to work on my academic work at the moment, and those I work with have been very understanding. I am getting some work done, but I’m trying to be gentle with myself too. And when it  all becomes too much, I knit. Or bake. Keeping my hands busy helps with the anxiety.

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I hope you’re taking care of yourself and your loved ones as well as you can. I hope you’re taking social distancing seriously, but I also hope you’re able to get outside and take in some fresh air when you can. It’s difficult to try and find a balance right now, but do your best – connect with others using the means we have available, but take a step away and take some time for yourself when you need to. This is a really emotionally complex time. People lives are at stake. If you’re part of the high risk group, take extra care. We’re all in this together. xx

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reflections on making

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Halfway through the second month of 2020, I’m beginning to get a sense of how limited my time for making is at the moment (and is likely to remain for at least several more months). Hashtag PhD life, or something like that? I’m getting a little bit of knitting done here and there, but it all feels like it’s moving at a glacial pace. I have two sock projects on the go, which I sometimes bring on my commute to work on, but I’m still on the first sock of both pairs. Most of the sweaters I have on the needles are fingering weight sweaters, which prompted me to cast on a worsted weight sweater a few weeks ago in the hopes that I could bang it out, but that also feels slow and now I just have another WIP. So you could say I’ve been thinking lately about my priorities when it comes to my making this year, and I thought I’d share what I’m feeling with you all.

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Firstly, after being apart from the majority of my WIPs and my stash for six months, I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed by it all now that I have it back. Not entirely in a bad way – I missed it and I feel an excitement to work on projects with all these beautiful materials I’ve collected – but what makes it overwhelming is the relatively slow pace at which I’m working on projects at the moment. I managed to work through a lot of what I had with me in the fall, which felt very freeing, and I’m just not feeling that freedom anymore. This means I’m feeling two strong desires: one is to work through my existing WIPs (16 is the current count, going by my Ravelry project page), and the other is a desire to work from stash for new projects. I really, genuinely want to be doing both of those things. And that feels really good, although it’s clearly going to take a little while to work on the WIPs. A few of them aren’t so far from being finished (like my Galore as well as this summery sweater) and trying to get them wrapped up in the next couple of months will probably help a lot.

The other thing I’m feeling really strongly is a desire to make things for friends and family. This isn’t entirely incompatible with wanting to knit from my stash, luckily, but it is somewhat at odds with trying to get through my WIPs. Nonetheless, after being reuinited with *all my knits* I’m also feeling how much I don’t need anything new, despite all the yarn kicking around in my stash. Of course there are sweaters and other things I want to make for myself that I already have yarn for, but I have plenty of yarn to do more knitting for others, as well.

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I know a lot of this is really in line with how many other crafters are feeling right now – The Crimson Stitchery is one of my favorite podcasts, and Anushka has talked a lot in recent videos about storage space, stash, WIPs, and desire vs. necessity. I really appreciate her approach to crafting as it’s always creative and beautiful, but also thrifty and practical. (The tagline for her podcast is “making all things beautiful and useful.”) She’s hosting an initiative called Stashless2020 in which you can join in with the aim to do one of two things: either try to work through your existing stash to become completely stashless, or put less into your stash and work more from what you already have. I definitely fall into the latter category – even if I had all the time in the world to knit this year, I wouldn’t empty my stash – but I appreciate the encouragement provided by a group effort, and knowing there are others feeling the same. If you’re intrigued by the idea of Stashless2020, I’d encourage you to check out this video where Anuskha discusses the question, “Can I go stashless in 2020?”

I am so lucky to have so many beautiful things to make with, so when I feel frustrated by how slowly my projects seem to be going at the moment, I just try to remind myself: it’s not a race.

new pattern: rue du tage

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Last week I released another new pattern: Rue du Tage. I’ve been working on this one for quite awhile, and teased it on Instagram over the summer. I finished the scarf in November and have been weraing it nearly nonstop ever since; it is my favorite kind of properly-bundled-up scarf, worked in the round so it’s doubly thick, and long enough to wrap around your neck with both ends tucked into your jacket. This kind of scarf can cover the bottom half of your face if you wear it right, and it holds up against the cold wind.

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I had an immense amount of fun both designing and knitting this scarf. It’s worked up in La Bien Aimée Mondim, a yarny collaboration between La Bien Aimée in Paris and Retrosaria Roma Pomar in Lisbon. Mondim is made for Rosa Pomar from Portuguese wool, and this hand-dyed incarnation is then dyed by La Bien Aimée in Paris. I used three colors for this design, but you could easily use more if you wished, which would make this a great leftovers project.

The Mondim is a sturdier wool than your typical hand-dyed merino – admittedly less soft, which will mean some knitters might not want to use it for a scarf, but for me it’s soft enough to wear it next to my skin (especially if it’s cold out). I found the yarn worked very nicely for colorwork, and I definitely had trouble putting the project down once I got going on a motif. Of course you could substitute other fingering weight yarns as well, especially if you have more than a few kicking around your stash (like I do).

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The fact that the yarn is a collaboration between La Bien Aimée and Rosa Pomar is what led to the name for this design. I was a bit stuck on the name for awhile, but while browsing a street map of LBA’s neighborhood in Paris I spotted a street called Rue du Tage. A quick search confirmed my suspicions: this street is named for the Tagus river which runs through Spain and Portugal, with the river’s mouth in Lisbon. It’s a funny coincidence, to have a street around the corner from La Bien Aimée named for the river that Retrosaria Rosa Pomar sits within walking distance of. And so Rue du Tage it was.

Thanks to La Bien Aimée for generously providing yarn support for this design. And I hope you all like it as much as I do! You can find the details about yardage, needles, and all the rest on the Ravelry pattern page.

new pattern: oak hollow

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I think it’s been a long time since I’ve written a dedicated blog post for a new pattern, but now that I’m publishing new designs less often (I think 2019 will be an 8-pattern year compared to last year’s 24), it feels easier to sit down to write about a new design. I’m very pleased to introduce you to a pattern that’s been a long time in the making: meet Oak Hollow.

Some of you may be familiar with the fact that I’m quite interested in non-superwash hand-dyed yarn. Of course there’s a lot of superwash hand-dyed yarn in my stash as well, but as dyers have increasingly been experimenting with non-superwash bases, I’ve been increasingly excited about it. So in June 2018, when Canadian dyer Lichen and Lace announced a new base made with non-superwash Canadian wool, I knew I wanted to try some (Lichen and Lace is located in New Brunswick and I was living in Montreal at the time, so while they weren’t exactly “local,” they were only one province to the east). So I ordered myself three skeins of Rustic Heather Sport.

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Being very fond of grey, I ended up with only one skein that was actually dyed – that gorgeous yellow to the left, Pollen. The two greys (Charcoal and Birch) are undyed colors. Yellow has never featured hugely in my wardrobe or my design work, but I thought this combination was absolutely gorgeous, and last summer I was already charting up an idea for a pair of fingerless mitts. I was incredibly busy with other patterns last fall, though, and didn’t get around to starting these in time for them to be a fall release. And there was no question to me that they should be a fall release. So they got put on the back burner for awhile.

When it came time to pack our suitcases for the move to Trondheim last May/June, I knew I’d have to be selective about what projects and yarn to pack (the majority of our stuff came separately and we will finally be reunited with it later this month when we move into our new place, and I am SO glad!). Not knowing how long I’d be away from the majority of my stash, I made sure to pack these skeins in the suitcases so that this pattern could happen this year.

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In the end, it still took some time, and some trial and error. Some patterns just do. The first mitt I started working up I probably got three quarters of the way through before I realized/accepted that it was actually just way too small. I set it aside, went up a needle size, and started again. This time I knit the pair, which fit much better with one exception – after finishing, blocking, and wearing the mitts for a week or two, I realized I wasn’t happy with the thumb gusset, which was still too small. So I frogged the finished mitts back to the place where the new thumb gusset would begin – which felt very close to the beginning – and knit them back up. But the effort was worth it! The new thumb gusset was a much better fit, and I’m so happy I took the time to get this one right, rather than rushing through it, even though that meant the pattern didn’t come out until November 1. Maybe it still feels like autumn where you are, or maybe you’re still waiting for the autumn weather to show up, but in Norway? Winter is setting in. We’ve had our first snow of the season today in Trondheim, and I know the Oslo area had the same this weekend. It’s beautiful, but it’s been nice to hang on to autumn a little bit through this design.

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I’ve been blown away by the enthusiastic response to this design and I can only say thank you. It’s been so much fun to watch projects popping up on Ravelry and Instagram already. If you’d like to make your own mitts, Oak Hollow is knit with three colors of sport weight yarn at a gauge of 28 stitches per 4″/10 cm (at that gauge a fingering weight would probably also work for these mitts, particularly if it’s woolen spun), and the pattern is written for two sizes. I think it would be relatively easy to work in two colors instead if you didn’t want to bother with the very small amount needed of the third color. Overall, these mitts don’t use a lot of yarn and would be great for leftovers. You can find all the details on the Ravelry pattern page.

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peak fall

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I think Trondheim finally hit peak fall color in the past week (yes, I know, I am still talking about autumn, but I just can’t get over how long and slow it is here!). But on Tuesday a serious windstorm blew through and knocked down quite a few of the leaves. I have a few snaps from the weekend and the past few days, though, that show some of the beautiful golden color I’ve been surrounded by lately. Luckily, there are still a few leaves still hanging on even after the windstorm, though these photos are all from beforehand.

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I’ve also finished a few knitting projects lately. Both the No Frills I mentioned in my last post, as well as the Featherweight Cardigan you can see in this one, and I also finished up a new design. We got to take some pattern photos last weekend, pre-windstorm, and it was nice to take advantage of the fall colors both on the trees and blanketing the ground. These mitts are for a pattern that will be called Oak Hollow, about which more soon.

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If it’s fall in your part of the world, I hope you’re getting the chance to soak up some color. The autumn gold that’s ubiquitous in Norway always makes me feel like I’m in Lothlorien (especially if it’s a birch grove), and I love it so much.

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