a WIP check-in

Aside from the new patterns I shared recently, it’s been a little while since I’ve actually shared any of my makes with you all. I thought it might be nice to have a little bit of a WIP check-in so I could share the main things I’m working on at the moment.

I’m very keen to finish up old WIPs this year, and I’m also really interested in working from stash for new cast-ons – an ambition that kind of fell apart last year once corona hit and I wanted to support businesses suddenly facing the loss of festival income. But I have managed to finish a couple of old WIPs since the start of the year. I started the Julenatt mittens (Ravelry link) pictured below back in December of 2018, when they were the advent mystery mitten pattern by Skeindeer Knits. It felt wonderful to finish a project started so long ago, and these will be a gift for a dear friend which somehow makes it even sweeter. I used Arctic Yarns Sølje in the Birch Leaves colorway (green), Arctic Yarns Vilje in the Snowman colorway (off-white), and some leftover grey Rauma Finull.

A Fair Isle sock in shades of brown, green, blue, white, orange, purple, and yellow hangs against a white wall.

I also managed to finish my pair of Norah socks by Marie Wallin, begun in March last year at the very beginning of the first lockdown. I’ve yet to get a photo of the pair, but just the one still gives you an idea! I splurged on this kit the summer we moved to Trondheim – this particular pattern is only available in a kit with Marie’s British Breeds yarn. In one sense, that makes these the most expensive socks I’ve ever owned, but on the flipside there’s plenty of yarn leftover for future colorwork projects (and it is really lovely yarn).

The rest of my old WIPs are still very much in progress, but I’m getting there! I have another pair of mittens on the way to being finished, and these will also become a gift.

A pair of mittens in progress lays on a warm wooden table. The mittens are blue, red, and yellow, with a pattern of buildings around the cuff. One mitten is only half-finished.

This pair of Trondheim Mittens by Sofia Kammeborn (Ravelry link) is coming along nicely now that I’ve made it past the second cuff. The cuffs are a beast due to knitting with three colors at once with some pretty long floats, but this photo gives you a glimpse at how I used a bit of a cheat to get through it: if you look at the half-finished mitten, you can see the rounds where I actually knit with all three colors per round on the cuff. Most of the buildings are just the red and mustard for now, but I’ll go back and fill in the windows using duplicate stitch. I did the same for the first mitten and honestly had a much nicer result that way than when I tried to knit the whole thing with three colors at once. I started these mittens in May 2019, back when I teased the news of us moving back to Norway on my Instagram, so this is another old WIP I’ll be very glad to have finished. I cast on from stash when I started these, so they’re a mix of Rauma Finull (the dark blue and mustard), Tukuwool Fingering (the red), and indigo-dyed Lofoten Wool (the light blue).

The yoke of a cardigan in progress sits on a hanger against a grey wall. The cardigan yoke is grass green with light grey colorwork.

My other main WIPs are two newer cast-ons. Just over a month ago I pulled some beautiful Neighborhood Fiber Co Studio Sock out of my stash (the colorways are Anacostia and Charles Centre) and cast on a Valdreskofte, a traditional Norwegian cardigan I’ve wanted to make for a really long time. I’m using a pattern from a book for the numbers, but otherwise I’ve gone very off-piste, working it top-down instead of bottom-up, and making some modifications to the neck shaping and the button bands. Studio Sock is a superwash merino, so I’ll have to machine sew my reinforcements before I cut the steek, but I’m really looking forward to seeing how this one turns out. I have some buttons and ribbon (to cover the steek edges) picked out that I’m hoping to use when it’s ready for finishing, but we shall see if they work when I make it to that stage.

A multi-colored eight-pointed star knitted in garter stitch lays on a dark grey carpet.

Lastly, I’ve also had scrap projects on the brain, as a little bit of stash reorganization last month showed me just how much leftover yarn I have kicking around my craft room. Lately I’ve been very drawn to scrap blankets, although I’ve never made one before, but I got an idea stuck in my head and decided to give it a go. I’m using Mina Philipp’s Pinwheel Scrap Blanket as the base for a kind of pinwheel/log cabin mashup. I’ll make blocks of 8-pointed stars and then seam them together at the end. I wrote on Instagram about how I’m approaching creating each block seamlessly, but I forgot to mention there that I’m working a smaller number of stitches for each central pinwheel block than Mina’s pattern calls for (I’m starting with 14). I’ve never done anything quite like this, so I’m having fun with it. I have a lot of Rauma Finull leftovers (did you notice how this is the third project of this post that makes use of them?) and think I could actually get a blanket out of just Finull, so I’m going to see how far I get with just my basket of Finull.

I still have several other WIPs just waiting for attention, so I’m hoping to keep the momentum up in the coming months. I’ll have to set everything aside for a pattern sample for a magazine in the very near future, but once that’s sent off in a couple of months I’ll be back to the WIP pile!

FO: fiore skirt

I mentioned back in my post sewing in april that I had plans to make a Fiore Skirt by Closet Core Patterns, and I actually did make one not long after that! Initially I wanted to finish it for syttende mai (May 17th, Norway’s national holiday) even though we weren’t going anywhere or doing anything for the holiday this year, but I didn’t quite make that self-imposed deadline. Nonetheless I finished it up shortly after that, and have been meaning to blog about it ever since!

I learned a lot making this skirt, which was part of the point of making it. It’s one of the patterns included with the Closet Core online sewing course I did as well, so there were videos as part of the course that walked me through some of the more challenging parts. I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve sewn a proper button placket, and I’m very pleased with how that turned out. I used a lightweight cotton lawn I fell in love with (Lady McElroy Evening Roost in teal), and because of the pattern on the fabric, I affectionately refer to this as my Bird Skirt.

The Fiore pattern has three views: a version with a zip in the back, a wrap skirt version, and a version with a front button placket. There are also two lengths. I obviously made the version with the button placket, and I made a couple of modifications:

  • while I used the long version of the pattern pieces, I added around three inches of length to the skirt to get the length I knew I wanted (I’m 6′ / 182 cm tall, so the pattern’s “below knee” designation wasn’t going to hit me below the knee without modifying).
  • I did away with the patch pockets (since those aren’t my fave) and added side pockets instead. I used the pattern pieces from the Chardon skirt from Deer & Doe for the pockets since I’ve made that skirt before and had the pieces on hand.
  • I did away with the seam at the back. All three views use the same pattern piece for the back; you cut two of the back piece and then sew them together. This makes perfect sense for the version with the zip, but for the other two views, I don’t really see why the seam is necessary. I didn’t want to cut up the pattern of my fabric, either, so I cut that piece on the fold instead.

This is easily the most lightweight skirt I own, which makes it a great option for the summer heat (although with a slip I can also wear it with tights for cooler days). I paired it with a knitted tank several times this summer, particularly in June when we had our hottest weather. It was a joy to discover that I loved this combination so much, because I’ve been trying to incorporate a wider variety of colors in my wardrobe for a couple of years. This deep mustardy yellow-orange color pairs very well with blues and teals, which I love and wear a lot of, so I’m definitely going to try to incorporate more of it into my clothing. The tank was made with Rauma Petunia, a DK weight cotton yarn, in a limited edition color called villhonning (“wild honey”). I used Jessie Maed’s Framework Bralette as the starting point but made a lot of modifications to turn it into a simple stockinette tank.

I liked making the Fiore skirt a lot, and I would definitely use the pattern again. I might go down a size if I do – the waistband feels ever so slightly large on me in this size. Another option would be to add a bit of elastic to the back of the waistband, which is a modification I’ve seen for this pattern. I will note that size-wise, it goes up to a 39″ waist, but no further.

I haven’t managed any other sewing this year since finishing this skirt (aside from hemming some curtains), and I’d like to change that. We’ve been working on house projects on the weekend a lot, however, so fitting in sewing time has somehow felt challenging. I’ve definitely spent more time knitting than sewing – and some of that has been for new patterns, so I’ll be able to share those in the coming months. I’m not sure yet what my next sewing project will be, but the most likely candidates seem like an Emery dress or a knit top of some kind. I have fabric for both, but I haven’t been able to make up my mind about a pattern for the knit fabric. Do you have any favorite sewing patterns for tops with a jersey knit?

FOs: angelou & hazel

I have two finished sweaters to share with you today. First up is my Angelou cardigan, started earlier this year and first appearing on the blog back in April.

I actually finished knitting this one in July (I shared it nearly finished here), but it took me a couple of weeks to get around to blocking it, and then I probably waffled about which buttons to use for at least a month. I finally settled on some pretty metal buttons (purchased from Stoff og Stil) and on Sunday I sat down and sewed them on. and I’m really pleased with how the whole thing came out, and as predicted, there is nothing in my wardrobe quite like this cardigan. I wore it to work today and it was so nice to finally wear it out of the house, buttons and all!

The pattern is the Angelou cardigan by Alexis Winslow and I used Kelbourne Woolens Scout in the Orchid Heather colorway. It’s a DK weight, and while the pattern calls for sport weight, the gauge of 22 sts per 4″/10 cm means a DK works very comfortably here – it’s just a little bit cozier in the slightly thicker yarn.

I also finished knitting a Hazel pullover for myself. I don’t think Hazel has featured on the blog at all, neither this version in-progress, nor the original sample I made last year. Hazel is a pattern I designed for Quince & Co. and it was released together with a baby/child version called Hedy. They are effectively the same design, just imagined for adults in one case and children in the other. The lice stitch on Hedy is the other distinguishing factor. Both of the original pattern samples were knit in Lark, Quince’s worsted weight wool, and were part of the Core Wool 2019 releases last autumn. Since those pattern samples were part of a larger collection, the colors chosen for them were part of a larger cohesive color theme (and in this case, they aren’t colors or color combinations I probably would have chosen on my own).

I decided to knit a version of Hazel for myself that was inspired by the Hedy sample, in many ways. I chose green for the main color, but my contrast color is very similar to the one used for Hedy. I also carried over the lice stitch. Instead of using Lark, I took the opportunity to finally make myself something with Owl, Quince’s wool/alpaca worsted weight. Unlike their worsted spun wool yarns, Owl is woolen spun, so it has an entirely different look and feel to the core wool yarns. I’ve wanted to use Owl for a very long time, and it’s strange that having worked with Quince on patterns since 2015 that it took until now for it to happen. I’m happy to say that it did not disappoint. The shades I chose were Hemlock (the deep green) and Bubo (the very heathered grey-taupe). I had a lot of fun knitting this and the finished sweater is immensely cozy as well.

I cast on for Hazel a few days after finishing the knitting on Angelou, and it was finished in August. I’m continuing to try and chip away at my WIPs without casting on too many new things, but I actually lined up a bunch of pattern work for the fall and I’ve got some samples to knit in the next couple of months, so there will still be new cast ons.

I do have to acknowledge that both of these sweaters make me think about the year that this has been so far, in different ways. Angelou was started back in the relatively early days of the quarantine period, and my strongest memory of working on it is sitting on the couch on May 17, Norway’s national day, watching the NRK coverage of the limited festivities that were possible (this was the first year since the occupation during World War II that the 17th of May parade in Oslo wasn’t held). And this version of Hazel was a comfort knit, but it also reminded me of knitting my original sample last year, mostly on a trip to Australia. We were there in March of 2019, well before the summer fire season they had at the end of the year and the beginning of 2020, but it’s difficult not to think about the fires right now, as the west coast of the US burns like it never has before. Seattle is one of the places I call home, and my heart aches for everyone who is suffering, who’s lost loved ones or homes or belongings. It aches for the damage being done to the landscape, the environment, the ecosystems that rely on them. The smoke everyone can’t help but breathe in. I don’t have any deep thoughts to share, but if you are affected by the fires in any way right now, my heart goes out to you. I will be researching the best places to send aid at this time, and I hope that you all are staying safe and taking care.

FO: vellum

Today I wanted to share my Vellum cardigan. As I mentioned in my previous post, this one was an unplanned knit. I cast on May 1st and was finished by the 9th, so it went rather quickly. It was also a fun project for a lot of reasons.

This pattern is from Karie Westermann’s book This Thing of Paper. I wrote about the book several years ago, back when it was in the crowdfunding stages, and the end result is gorgeous. The inspiration for the patterns comes from the evolution of the printed page, from medieval manuscript to the printing press, which makes it a treat for a book lover. Still, even though I’ve had my copy since it was released in 2017, I had yet to knit anything from it. Vellum wasn’t even one of the patterns originally topping my list of favorites. Karie’s original color combo was nice, but it wasn’t very me, and some of the other pieces in the book spoke to me more.

Vellum by Karie Westermann

But it floated to the front of my mind when I realized the skeins of Mendip DK I’d purchased from Marina Skua would make a lovely colorwork yoke. Katie from Inside Number 23 knit a version of Vellum at the beginning of this year (seen finished in this episode), and it was that project that first helped me see this pattern in a new light. So when I decided I wanted to use my Mendip DK in a yoke, I figured playing with the charts from Vellum might work out well.

I made several modifications to this pattern to make it the sweater I wanted. I cropped the body slightly (although both the body and the sleeves came out slightly longer than I’d anticipated), and consequently changed the waist shaping. I also made several changes to the colorwork charts in order to really put Marina’s Mendip DK colorways on display. I was particularly interested in combining the Teal and Fox colorways in a section, so I added colorwork to one of the sections that was originally a single color. I also added a third color to one of the rows (the second motif from the bottom of the yoke, in brown Beech, orange Fox, and grey Sheep – the grey stitches were my addition). Getting the motifs to line up the way I wanted them to meant shifting around a couple of the decreases as well, but in the end it was absolutely worth it.

I mentioned the yarn of the main color for the body and sleeves in my last post: ancient stash yarn from Kahurangi Natural Wools in New Zealand, handed down to me from my aunt and originally purchased who-knows-how-long ago. This yarn is their Double Knitting and the colorway is Oatmeal. I’ve tried to use this yarn for one or two projects in the past and never ended up finishing them, so it felt really wonderful to finally put it to use, and in a garment I ended up loving. It was a pretty decent match for the Mendip DK, if perhaps ever-so-slightly thicker.

Vellum is steeked at the front, and I worked a crochet reinforcement before cutting it open. I believe this is the second cardigan front I’ve steeked (although I’ve steeked arm and neck openings on other garments) but this is the first time I’ve covered the steek edge with any kind of trim. It makes for such a neat finish, though, and I found the perfect trim to use over at Textile Garden (the buttons also came from Textile Garden). The teal and orange of the trim are a perfect match for Marina’s colorways.

I am very satisfied with this project – it feels good when things come together the way you hoped they would. I do feel like I want to address one issue, though – I recently spoke up about size inclusivity over on Instagram, and about my reasons for choosing not to knit a pattern from a recent collection Rauma launched in collaboration with an independent Norwegian designer. I want to acknowledge that the size range for Vellum isn’t that much bigger than the collection I was talking about. But I also want to state why knitting one of Karie’s patterns is different for me (and I understand if anyone disagrees with this): Karie is an independent designer who has also spoken up about pattern sizing and inclusivity in recent years. I know she cares about it. I know she’s been actively working on a size range for her patterns that includes much larger sizes than her patterns previously have done. I want to support her in that work, and I hope that some of her previously published work will see expanded sizing in the future (something I’m working on with my own previously published patterns). Companies like Rauma, while I love them for their yarns, do not have a great track record on size inclusivity and have not shown much of an inclination to change on that front. So it’s harder to choose to knit a Rauma pattern for a very basic summer top when that’s the case (I adapted a Jessie Maed pattern instead).

further reflections on making

Sir Duke shawl by Thread & Ladle, knit in Little Fox Yarn Vulpine DK

Back in February, I wrote a bit about the state of my creative life, as far as feeling like I had limited time to be making things, and how that played a role in my plans for knitting and sewing in 2020. At that point, I was still relatively recently reunited with my yarn stash and full roster of WIPs, and it was slightly overwhelming after six months without it. I wrote that I had two strong desires: to work through and finish existing WIPs, and to be working from stash for new projects. I had (and still have) a lot of projects queued up which I already have yarn for.

Then came Covid-19.

My overwhelming stash suddenly felt less overwhelming as my focus turned outward, to the many friends and independent businesses suddenly facing a year without revenue from fiber shows. That’s a massive blow for any small fiber business, and as I’m fortunate that my job hasn’t been in jeopardy, I ended up making a fair few purchases I hadn’t been planning on, both yarn as well as patterns and other supplies and tools. I definitely don’t regret it, but it meant this year’s making plans went out the window for a little while.

Twister Lolly Socks by The Crimson Stitchery, knit with Artfil Belle from stash

That being said, I wanted to sort of check in with myself here to see how it has affected my making. And when I sit down and look at what’s on the needles and what’s been completed, the impact was maybe smaller than I would’ve guessed. A few of those projects pictured in that post from February are now finished, for one thing. I’ve cast on several new projects since February, but many of those are also finished (see the Sir Duke shawl a the top of this post, the Twister Lolly socks above, and the Vellum cardigan below, for a few examples). Some of the old WIPs are still WIPs, but I’m working on that too. I’ve finished 17 projects since that post in February was written (a number I only just counted up and which makes me go !!!! a little bit). I still have 12 WIPs, which is evidence of new cast ons, but I had 16 in February so the overall trend is still towards more things getting finished than cast on. I guess the stay-at-home period combined with a delay in my data collection for my PhD meant there was more time for making than I was anticipating after all. The comfort that comes from slow stitching is certainly a factor as well, as it has been very welcome through the emotional rollercoaster that has been 2020 so far.

An almost-finished Angelou cardigan by Alexis Winslow, sans pocket linings & buttons and in need of a good blocking

Yarns have been a mix of new yarns and stash yarns. Most of the new yarns have been those purchases from indie yarnies who’ve had shows cancelled, and it does feel good to put those to use. And digging into some of my old stash yarns has felt really good as well. In particular, I’m nearing the finish line on an Angelou cardigan (a pattern from Alexis Winslow’s Homage collection), which is a pattern I first queued in May 2018, the same month I purchased the yarn for it. It had been patiently waiting for nearly two years, but I finally cast on in April. All that I have left to knit is the pocket linings, and then it’ll be ready for a blocking. I have nothing like it in my wardrobe, so it’s going to be incredibly satisfying to finally wear that one.

Vellum by Karie Westermann, knit in Marina Skua Mendip DK and Kahurangi Natural Wools

Even some of the surprise projects have made use of stash in unexpected ways. I purchased some skeins of Mendip DK from my friend Marina Skua back in April, thinking I might use them for some accessories. But then I realized they’d go together very nicely in a colorwork yoke, and I saw an opportunity to turn to my pattern library for inspiration. I chose to use the skeins of Mendip in the yoke of a Vellum cardigan (from Karie Westermann’s book This Thing of Paper), and the yarn for the main body and sleeves of the cardigan was proper deep stash: two 200g skeins of New Zealand wool from Kahurangi Natural Wools Double Knitting which were given to me by my aunt probably nearly 10 years ago. I have a few different yarns from Kahurangi that my aunt gave me, some of which I’ve used in the past, but some of which has been sitting around for years, leaving me feeling stumped as to what to do with it. So this one was an incredibly satisfying knit, and I’m planning to write about it in more detail very soon because I also made several modifications.

I’ve found that after the initial frenzy of shopping I did back in March, there’s been an ebb and flow to my desire to finish WIPs and work from the materials I already have on hand, and my desire to support businesses in the craft industry who are struggling due to a loss of revenue this year. But lately I’m once again finding the yarn stash a little overwhelming, and reminding myself that there are other ways to support businesses and designers that don’t involve adding yarn to an already overflowing stash. So for the latter half of this year I want to refocus, and to work on finishing up some of the projects that have been hanging around for months or even longer. Trying to focus on one or two projects at a time (one more complex “home” project and one simpler “on-the-go” project I can keep in my bag seems to work well for me) definitely helps speed up the process.

What role has making been playing in your life this year?

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.

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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september

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The semester started, and things got busy. There were a couple of weeks where there was suddenly a lot to do – campus was full of people again, my PhD to-do list grew rapidly, we moved apartments (from one temporary place to another, for now), and there was plenty outside of all of that to keep us busy too. There wasn’t a lot of knitting during those weeks, but we’re starting to settle in now a little bit. And I have managed to finish a project or two.

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One of them is my Granskog tee which I finished a couple of weeks ago! Sadly I did not make it to Oslo Knitting Festival this year – this pattern was designed by Renata Yerkes for this year’s festival magazine – but I know I’ll make it back at some point. I made a few minor modifications to mine, which can be found on my Ravelry project page along with yarn info and other details. While I love the bright green color of this yarn from Sjølingstad Uldvarefabrik, I initially wasn’t totally sure if I was going to be able to pull it off. But I quite like it! This is the fourth green garment I’ve finished this year, so 2019 definitely seems to be the year of the green sweater for me.

I’ve gotten to wear it several times, which I’m grateful for, because the weather is starting to feel distinctly autumnal in Trondheim (although I can’t get over how much later autumn comes here compared with Tromsø) and I’m realizing how many of my warmer sweaters are going to be in storage until November, when we’ll be moving into our new long-term home. Warmer projects are quickly going to become a priority.

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For now, though, I’m continuing to enjoy the shift in the seasons in a new place again. As the evenings grow darker earlier, I’m looking forward to the peak of autumn foliage (only a few trees have started changing so far), and a part of me is really looking forward to the Norwegian winter again (although I’m glad it’s still a couple of months away). There is nothing quite like a Norwegian landscape covered in snow in the blue light that comes with the dark season.

lately

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The first week in Trondheim brought unexpectedly beautiful weather. Most of the past week has been nothing but rain, just at the moment most people here are leaving for their summer holidays. While the rain can grow tiring, it’s also somehow comforting. It definitely invites a spot of quiet solitude, and there’s a lot that I enjoy about quiet solitude – I think I have always had a soft spot for melancholy.

I feel like that makes me sound sad, and I guess I am a little bit. There is some sadness in a big change. There is loss involved, even when you’re excited about whating you’re moving towards. But there is a deep comfort in being back in Norway, back by the water, with nature so close. And we come back to Norway more confident this time. More sure of ourselves, of who we are, of what we want in life. There is still the anxiety of a new city, of not knowing many people. But I definitely feel more comfortable just being myself. When we first moved to Norway in 2015 I had a (mostly) subconscious desire to fit in, to not stand out. I wanted to “pass.” After two years away, I care much less about that this time around. That makes a great difference.

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The wet weather this past few days has meant I haven’t done nearly as much exploring outside as I’d like to. I walked all over the city in the first few days but I’ve been itching to go hiking in Bymarka, the forest that butts up against the west edge of the city. But I think I’ll wait for a dry spell. In the meantime, there has been knitting.

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I had the urge last week to buy a skein of Hillesvåg Tinde and whip up a hat, even though I brought several projects with me (the remainder of my yarn and projects are in our main pack, which we won’t have access to for a little while). I popped into Husfliden last week and grabbed a skein in Cognac (not my typical color choice, but I fell for it for some reason), and knit a Mellomlua over an evening and a morning. Super simple, very soothing. And now I have a new hat. It was only after I knit it that I realized that Tinde was the first yarn I bought after my move to Norway in 2015, and I knit a hat with it that fall. Accidental symmetry.

I’ve been feeling a little bit like I’m in the space between: the space between one stage of my life and the next. Eras of our lives aren’t sharply defined, for the most part, and they can blur together at the edges. But the longer I’m back in Norway the more I’m adjusting to it again, and one day I will wake up and realize I don’t feel like I’m in the space between anymore, and I won’t know when that happened. It’s only been two weeks. So for now, I knit, I walk, I read, and I get to work, of course, since a job is what brought us back here. And I’ll enjoy that.

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the solace of finishing things

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I’m one of those people who tends to have a lot of projects up in the air at the same time, and I’m not sure I’ve ever been much of a juggler, to be honest. I’m very good at saying yes to too many things, or at starting things before I’ve finished other things. I know many of you reading this can relate to that, if only with your own knitting projects. Sometimes, I don’t mind at all. Sometimes, it’s interesting and exciting to have a lot of different things going on in my life. But sometimes, when life gets harder for one reason or another, trying to juggle too many things at once can start to feel like a burden. Instead of feeling free to choose which book (among the five I’m in the middle of) I’m going to read before bed on any given night, I can feel weighed down by all the unread pages, paralyzed by option anxiety. Sometimes, instead of enjoying that I have different types of knitting projects to pick up and put down, I feel like I haven’t finished a project in ages, which makes me feel hopelessly unproductive even when I have been making plenty of progress on things – they just aren’t finished yet. I’ve been feeling that way lately, as winter drags on, struggling to feel productive, and consequently struggling to feel good about myself (uncoupling my sense of self-worth from my productivity is a much longer process, one I expect to be working on for a long time).

I’m grateful that at this point in my life, I can recognize when this is happening, and I can find the motivation to dig myself out of that kind of a hole. Books and knitting projects seem the most susceptible to this sort of behavior, so I’ve been working on finishing books and finishing projects. I do sometimes get bored sticking to one book at a time, but seeing how much more quickly I get through a book when I decide to commit to just one at a time is always motivating, and I’ve just about finished the second book in as many weeks, which will mean I’m down to three books. With a few flights coming up later this week, I’m pretty confident I can get that number down to two by the end of this coming weekend.

And so it goes with knitting projects, too! Last week, I finished three things over the course of three days. One was a pattern sample (more about that at a later date, after I’ve taken pattern photos), but the other two I thought I’d share with you. I love both of these so much, and it’s good to remind myself of just how great it feels sometimes to slow down, focus on just one project, and see it through to its completion.

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First up is a pair of socks that’s been on the needles since December: my Selbu Socks. This pattern is by Eli of Skeindeer Knits, and it’s one that I was looking forward to immensely last fall, when Eli shared the design-in-progress with us before the pattern was published. I cast on the day it was released with stash yarn (Eli very generously gave me a copy of the pattern as a gift – thank you Eli!) and loved watching the pattern emerge, but over the next few months, progress happened in fits and starts as I put these down to work on other things, occasionally picking them up to work a few rounds here and there, but definitely never giving them my undivided attention. I’m so glad that last week I decided they needed it, since they were actually getting pretty close to finished. I’ve knit (and designed) socks with stranded colorwork before, but these are my first allover-colorwork socks, which feels like an achievement of sorts. They are slightly thicker than my typical hand knit socks, given that the stranded fabric is twice as thick, but I can still wear them with my boots, so I love that while these have the feeling of traditional Norwegian stockings, they’re truly everyday socks that I can wear whenever I like (temperature permitting). Given that it’s still very much winter in Montreal (currently 23ºF / -5ºC), these will actually see a little bit of wear before they get put away until next winter.

The last thing I want to mention is the yarns: I used superwash merino/nylon blends for these socks. The light grey yarn is no longer available, but the red yarn is Explorer Sock by Phileas Yarns in the St Expedit colorway, which is dyed by my friend Sylvie in York (in the UK) and I have described this color more than once as my favorite red (I first wrote about this colorway on a different base, here). It is always a pleasure to work with Sylvie’s yarns and I’m so happy to have used it for such a special project.

More technical details as well as more photos can be found over on my Ravelry project page.

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The other personal project I finished was my Mount Pleasant tee, a pattern by Megan Nodecker of Pip & Pin (and the Pip & Pin podcast). I fell in love with this design when Megan shared it in a Ravelry forum post last spring, asking advice about pattern photos from fellow designers (I think many of us fell in love with this design after that post, to be honest!). I bought it when she released it last May, and the same week I ordered yarn to make it. I’d decided I wanted to make it with yarn from Garnsurr, a yarn-dyeing company in Norway that’s also a refugee integration project, and one of my favorite companies to support. I actually posted about my plans for this project last August, and I wound the yarn into cakes before we left Norway at the end of that month. Nonetheless, with too many other things on my plate, I hadn’t cast on for it until a few weeks ago, when I decided it would be my only travel project for a two-week trip to Singapore and India that my husband went on. If you follow me on Instagram, you probably spotted some progress shots of this tee (including this photo which led to a really fantastic discussion of everyone’s experiences with flying with knitting in hand luggage – thanks to everyone who joined in on that conversation!). The finished tee is exactly what I’ve been dreaming of since last spring, and I can’t wait to get some wear out of it as the weather warms up here in Canada and this spring finally arrives. I didn’t really make any modifications to this pattern, but you can still find the details (including links to the pattern page and the yarn page) over on my Ravelry project page. Megan has definitely become one of my favorite designers over the past year and if you’ve never checked her out, I’d highly recommend a quick (or long and leisurely) browse through her designs on Ravelry. On top of the beautiful but wearable pieces she creates, her photography is always gorgeous.

With these projects done, I’m down to 8 WIPs (ha!), including the sweater pattern sample that is my current priority. I don’t think I’ll ever be a one-project-at-a-time kind of knitter again, but it does feel really good to prioritize finishing things for the moment. And now that I think about it, those Nikoline socks pictured at the top of this post are getting pretty close…