transitions

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Trondheim in the autumn continues to charm. I’m starting to adjust to the general level of busy-ness that my life here is going to involve, but it’s definitely been a big shift for me. Partly that’s because I’m still working on some patterns in the background along with my new day job at the university; partly it’s because my PhD coursework has started as well and my to-do list is growing longer; and partly it’s because we’ve still been living in temporary accommodations and it can be a challenge to get into routines when there are things about your living situation you can’t change. But we’ll be moving into our new long-term home in November, and I’m really looking forward to that.

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While we wait for that, though, the weather continues to shift. The leaves are changing, but we still haven’t reached peak color yet. We had a couple of weeks of solid rain in the middle of the month before the sun came back out last week. I was in Kraków for a conference the tail end of last week and over the weekend, and I got home to Trondheim last night after dark. This morning I woke up to much cooler weather than we had last week (a few degrees above 0°C) and saw that the higher peaks in Bymarka (which are still relatively low) had a dusting of snow on them. The mountains across the fjord, as well. Now it well and truly feels like Norwegian autumn. I love Norway at this time of year, and I still can’t get over how much longer and slower the autumn is here in Trondheim compared with up north in Tromsø. This city is truly beautiful in its fall colors.

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One of the things the weather’s change has brought on is a mild panic over the fact that I don’t have that many warm clothes in my suitcases with me (the rest of our clothes are packed away with the belongings we moved from Montreal – patiently waiting in storage for us to move into our new place in November). I feel like I haven’t had much time for knitting recently, but now I’m determined to knit a little more and a little faster, if I can. I have two sweaters which are only missing sleeves, so I feel like with some concentrated knitting time in the evenings I could finish this No Frills sweater by next weekend.

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I don’t usually knit the same pattern over and over, but this will be my third No Frills (or Ingen dikkedarer as it’s known in Scandinavia), and I’m approaching this one a little differently than my first two. I’ll elaborate more on that when it’s finished, perhaps, because each of them is different and brings something unique to my wardrobe even as they all feel like everyday staples. I adore this color, a limited edition colorway of Hillesvåg Tinde made for Drople Design called Villbringebær (“wild raspberry”). It’s a color I fell head over heels in love with when Anne first launched it over a year ago and I’m so thrilled to finally be knitting a garment with it.

So I’ve been enjoying knitting on this sweater very much, even if it’s felt like slow going. Knitting on a wooly sweater goes so well with changing colors, chilly rainy days, and the smell of woodsmoke in the air, after all. I’ve been getting into the spirit of autumn in other ways too. Some of the local apples have been wonderful recently, and the other week I baked a fyriskaka (a Swedish apple cake with cardamom) from Fika, which is one of my favorite bakes for this time of year. I also received a massive bag of little plums from a friend at work – the plum tree in her garden went crazy this year, it seems – and I managed to turn some of those into a few jars of pickled plums and roasted plum butter. I’ve been enjoying the plum butter on toast or lomper in the mornings for breakfast. (We’ll see about the pickles, which were more of an experiment.)

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I’ve also been getting out for long walks or little hikes whenever possible. Now that I’ve seen that the snow is encroaching on the mountains in Bymarka, I’d like to get in a short hike in the next week or two to soak up the season. I always enjoy walking by the water as well. I’m always drawn to the water like a magnet – the smell of saltwater was another thing I missed so much in Montreal. The Trondheim Fjord can feel so much like Puget Sound in Washington state, a similarity I really enjoy.

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Of course there are challenges that come with this transitional season (both of the year but also of our lives), but overall we have fallen in love with this city, and I was so happy to come home to it after a weekend away. I can’t help but feel incredibly lucky that we get to live here. Vi trives godt her i Trondheim.

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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ruter og lus: retrostrikk frå salhus trikotagefabrikk

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This fall is shaping up to be my busiest ever for new releases, and I’d like to periodically share some of them here on the blog. Today I’m very excited to tell you about a book project I had theopportunity to be a part of, called Ruter og Lus: retrostrikk frå Salhus Tricotagefabrik. I want to let you know up front that it’s a Norwegian book, which means the patterns are pretty inaccessible to anyone who doesn’t live in Scandinavia or understand Norwegian (and it’s written in nynorsk – the less common written standard of Norwegian – which adds another barrier for non-native speakers). Nonetheless, it’s a very cool project, so I hope you enjoy hearing about it all the same.

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Back in July I wrote a blog post about the Norwegian knitting industry museum in Salhus, outside of Bergen. If you haven’t read that post, I recommend checking it out, because it will provide some background for this book project. The museum is located at the old Salhus Trikotasjefabrikk, or knitting factory, and I mentioned in that post that “the museum maintains an archive of different patterned fabrics, with some of the patterns perhaps never actually being put into production.”

The museum decided a couple of years ago that it would be nice to revive that archive of patterned fabrics, and the way they decided to do that would be to take a selection of motifs/fabrics from the archive and hand them over to hand knitting designers, who would then create original designs for modern knitters using these fabrics from the archive. Since Salhus typically produced the kind of sweater known as an islender (or “Icelander” – I wrote a little bit about the origin of that term in my post about the museum), the motifs are all relatively small and repetitive, and would typically be used in an allover pattern on the sweater. This is represented in the name of the finished book: Ruter og lus.

If you’re familiar with Norwegian knitting, you may recognize lus as the first word in the compound lusekofte, and it refers to what we often call a “lice pattern” in English (lus meaning “louse”). Within the context of knitting, lus refers to small repetitive motifs, often a single stitch or pair of stitchs worked in a diagonal. Ruter is slightly more difficult to translate in this context – it essentially refers to squares and patterns with strong perpendicular lines, but it is not in itself the normal word for “square,” either. Plaids, ginghams, and other grids could all be described as “rutete” (an adjectival form). Nonetheless, the most typical islender is made up of repeating motifs of what are essentially squares and lice, and I assume that this is where the book’s title comes from.

But on to the patterns! I feel incredibly grateful to have been asked to take part in this project, and I’m quite proud of my two contributions: a sweater called Opal and a hat and mitt set called Dorthea. I found working on these designs an interesting creative challenge; I was one of the last designers to sign on for the project, and most of the motif options had already been claimed by then. So the two motifs I ended up with weren’t my first choice, but I’m very pleased with what I was able to do with them in the end (which is very satisfying).

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Opal was a challenge to work on at first because I found the original swatch photos pretty uninspiring, to say the least. Salhus thinks this particular motif in the archive is from the 80s, and as far as they know they don’t have any record of it being used for any of the knitwear they created. The motif uses four colors in total, and I decided to try charting up the motif with three colors from the same color family, and one from a different color family altogether. I love the blue version we ended up going with, which makes use of complementary colors, as three blue shades are accompanies by a golden yellow. I also swatched for a version with red/orange tones, making use of the same golden yellow contrast.

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I love the finished sweater (huge thanks to sample knitter Torgun, who actually knit the sample) and I’m so glad the museum chose to go with the blue version, which feels very, very me. We chose to knit this one up in one of my favorite yarns, Tinde from Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk. Because of the bold, graphic nature of the motif, it’s possible to use a variety of shades that are relatively low contrast compared with other stranded colorwork, which makes the palette of Tinde (which is dyed on a natural grey base) really lovely for this.

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The other pattern is a hat and mitt set called Dorthea, and once again I was not wholly enthused by the original swatches in the archive. I decided going fully monochrome might be a way to make this 5-color motif look a little bit less like sprinkles on a birthday cake, so I swatched up a greyscale version first. I didn’t even realize until I’d finished the swatch how much this motif suddenly recalled traditional Setesdal-style patterns. With a black base and five shades of grey, it was also a perfect opportunity to work a corrugated rib as a gradient – I feel like it makes a wonderful finishing touch. We also worked up the hat in an alternate colorway, using five shades of blue and blue-green.

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We used Rauma Finull for this pattern, which feels like the perfect yarn for this with its massive palette of colors.

One of the things I love about this book is that the editors made it a priority to use Norwegian wool yarns for the patterns. While they didn’t exclusively include yarns made from Norwegian wool, they’ve still featured Norwegian wool pretty heavily, and it makes me so happy to see a Norwegian pattern book prioritizing that. The beginning of the book also features some information about the history of the mill/factory, so all in all the book feels like a really natural part of the recent revival of traditional Norwegian patterns and Norwegian wool in the Norwegian knitting community.

If you’re curious about what the rest of the book looks like, you can check out the other patterns on Ravelry here. The photos were shot at the museum, which I love, and while the collection of patterns as a whole does have a retro vibe (as the subtitle implies), I also think the designs feel very fresh and modern.

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!).

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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 surprise, 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 1×1 ribbed cowl in Woolfolk Tynd.

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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 1×1 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!)

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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?

moments

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Hello, October. I’m glad to see you. We’ve been in Montreal not quite three weeks now, and while in some ways we’re starting to get settled in and find our new routines, in other ways I still feel stuck right in the middle of The Transition. We are waiting on the majority of our things to arrive from Norway, and I think once it does and we can really start unpacking, that will help a lot. I had forgotten how long it could take to find your stride in a new place, especially with such a big change.

I started a semi-intensive French course this past week to try and get my long-hibernating French skills up and moving again, which gives me a place to go every weekday morning at 8:30. That’s been beneficial. I have a backlog of design work I want to get to in the afternoons, though it’s been really slow trying to get back into the work groove. In the meantime, I did cast on for the Circlet Shrug I mentioned in August, and that’s been pure pleasure to work on. I’ll be going to Rhinebeck this year (my first!), and I would love to be able to wear it there, but with only twenty days left the possibility seems slim…

I am trying to pull my camera out and take pictures throughout my days. When I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed or a bit listless, I grab my bag and go for a long walk around my new neighborhood. I love the tree-lined streets and the unique architecture here, so just like in Norway, a good long walk is a great way to calm my mind or lift my spirits.

I thought I’d share a few photos of the past few weeks – from my walks, working on my knitting projects, and welcoming the first rainstorm since our arrival. I think October is going to be a good month.

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in the pipeline, august 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FO: norwegian wool dalur

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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 even 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.

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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.

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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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