new work for amirisu

The previews for issue 22 (spring/summer) of Amirisu magazine went live last week, and I actually have some new work to share! For those unfamiliar with the magazine, Amirisu originally started off as a digital-only knitting magazine, publishing bilingually in English and Japanese (they are a Japanese company). Nowadays they’re a print magazine, publishing each issue in an English/international version and a Japanese version. They also have a brick-and-mortar yarn store in Japan called WALNUT that I’d love to visit someday.

I’ve been a fan for a long time so it’s been a real pleasure to get to work with them on some designs for the magazine. I have one pattern in issue 22, and I also have a pattern from issue 21, the fall/winter issue, that I haven’t shared here so I thought I’d share that as well. But first, my pattern for the new issue!

This hat and cowl set is called Blomsterkrans (Ravelry link), a Scandinavian word meaning flower wreath/crown or garland. I’m very pleased with how both pieces turned out. We used Knitting for Olive Merino, which is a light fingering non-superwash merino wool, and the finished fabric is lovely. The center of the flowers is worked in duplicate stitch to add a pop of color, so there are no three-color rounds in these pieces.

Amirisu’s photography is beautiful, as always. Colorwork can always feel a little funny in a spring/summer issue, but these are lightweight pieces that are certainly suitable for the Scandinavian summer, if not the typical Japanese one.

The other pattern I wanted to share was my piece for issue 21: a pair of colorwork mitts called Bramble (Ravelry link).

These were quite fun to design, because they lean more towards Fair Isle knitting than Scandinavian. I also love how they styled the model for the magazine, and I never would have thought to pair these mitts with a coat in that color. These use six colors in total, so the color choice adds a lot of room for creativity and the finished mitts can look incredibly different depending on which colors you choose. It’s also possible to simplify and use only five of fewer colors. I’ve really enjoyed seeing finished projects of this one.

It’s also nice to revisit them, because seeing them in the photo reminds me that I was working on this sample on my last international trip pre-Covid, when I was in Rome in February of 2020. It takes me straight back to the memory of sitting on the hotel bed, knitting on these with the window open, hearing the sounds of the city outside and enjoying the soft sunlight filtering through the curtains. I’d forgotten how travel knitting can be transportive that way; it makes me excited to travel again. Eventually.

Blomsterkrans shoot
Photos: Masahiro Shimazaki
Hair/makeup: Yoko Yoshikawa
Model: Kana

Bramble shoot
Photos: Masahiro Shimazaki
Hair/makeup: Yoko Yoshikawa
Model: Masako

thaw

March and April have definitely brought signs of spring this year. I think this March was milder and less snowier than last year’s, something I’m feeling grateful for. We’re still in that in-between stage, where it sometimes snows, but it’s mild enough now that it never lasts for too long when it does. The daylight hours grow longer every day, and I find myself full of optimism when the sun comes out.

While I love winter, the springtime thaw always brings a specific kind of joy. Lately, my walks have been getting longer. I’m determined to do some more hiking this summer than last, and to explore some of the spots in my local area I have yet to hit up (there are plenty!). Even when the weather isn’t sunny, being outside at this time of year often makes me want to do cartwheels. The fresh air is such a boon after a long winter.

Today might be the nicest day of the year so far – April always seems to have a way of sparkling when the sun comes out, and today there’s not a cloud in the sky. It’s the kind of weather that seems to draw everyone outside, as we share a collective sigh of relief. It puts a goofy grin on my face, and I especially love walking by the water in this weather. You can smell the sea salt in the air, one of my favorite smells, and when you breathe in deep you can almost taste it. It makes it feel like summer (and taking dips in the fjord) is just around the corner. I keep bumping into friends when out on walks lately as well, which only adds to my joy. This cultural experience of the good weather drawing everyone outside is something Norway has in common with Seattle, and I know from friends and family back home that Seattle’s also been enjoying a stretch of extremely fine spring weather. I’m grateful.

The other thing I feel as the days grow warmer and longer is that I feel so immensely lucky to be here. To get to live here. My days are not only full of joy – work is often tricky these days (it’s no secret that a PhD is no picnic) and the news of late has often been devastating. But it makes the joy feel all the more important, so I will savor those moments when I am fortunate to have them.

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!

winter solstice collab with the crimson stitchery

One of the projects I was working on over the fall was a small collection done in collaboration with Anushka of The Crimson Stitchery. I’ve mentioned Anushka and her YouTube channel on this blog a few times before, including when I shared a few favorite video podcasts earlier in 2020. So deciding to do a design collaboration together was a great deal of fun and an interesting creative challenge as well!

We took the winter solstice as our starting point, and created a shared mood board with imagery representing our own ideas about the winter solstice. Already it was interesting to see the differences – I associate it with moody blue light, short daylight, snow, and frost, while Anushka’s associations were more in the direction of the sparkling festivities of the season. We decided we would both create accessories rooted in our shared inspiration – using different techniques (colorwork for me, cables for Anushka), but both incorporating color and texture play and using the same yarns. I think both our designs evolved along the way, as we sketched and swatched, but I really love where we ended up.

We each designed a hat pattern and a pair of fingerless mitts, and I thought I’d share each of them here in brief. If you’d like to hear about them in a little more detail, I made a video about my designs (which can be found here), as did Anushka (and her video is here).

Dianna wears a burgundy and gold hat with a pattern of colorwork diamonds while standing in front of an old brick wall and set of doors with fancy ironwork.

My hat is the Lebkuchen hat (on Ravelry here). Worked up in fingering weight, I used a metallic chainette yarn for the contrasting color for a pretty fun and glitzy effect. While the gold yarn was incorporated into all four of our pieces, this is the only one where it’s not simply used for a trim. I’ve been wanting to play with metallic colorwork for a long time, and I plan to keep exploring the creative possibilities it opens up!

A pair of colorwork fingerless mitts in shades of burgundy, off-white, and blue laid out on brown paper with evergreen branches arranged around them.

My mitts, meanwhile, are the Pepperkaker mitts (Ravelry link). These are worsted weight and work up quite quickly, which is always very satisfying! If you watch the video I made about my designs, you’ll also see the full mitten version I was working on. I’ll admit I stalled on those once I got to the thumb of the full mitten, but I do still intend to release that version as an option with the pattern!

A knitted hat featuring a diamond cable pattern in tealy blue with off-white trim and a burgundy pom pom lays on a grey floor surrounded by leafy branches and pine cones.

Anushka’s hat is the delightfully squishy Brandy Butter (Ravelry // Payhip). Another quick knit in worsted weight, it’s a mix of cables, stockinette, and ribbing. The diamond cable centered on the front echoes the diamond motif of the colorwork in my Lebkuchen hat – having the designs nod at each other that way was a deliberate choice, and it was fun to work out how we were going to do that as we worked on the collection.

And lastly, Anushka’s Ginger Snaps mitts (Ravelry // Payhip). I love these cabled mitts and I think I’d like to knit a pair for myself, probably with some modifications. These are worked in fingering weight, and I love the classic look of the cables she chose for the back of the hand.

We’re so pleased with the collection overall and I do love how the pieces work together as a set. Collaboration often pushes me to make slightly different creative decisions than I’d make working totally on my own, and that’s really refreshing sometimes.

FOs revisited

I’ve been thinking for several months about a few pieces in my wardrobe that aren’t working for whatever reason. Many of us seem to enjoy sharing our finished makes online, myself included, but how often do we go back and talk about when things don’t work? Several years on from finishing a project, it can be very clear that it doesn’t fit your wardrobe needs or style the way you thought it would. Even if you love it.

In those cases, there are a few different options. The most passive approach is to simply let it sit in your closet/wardrobe/storage, either totally forgotten or occasionally haunting you when you remember it exists. I’ve had a few of those. More active responses to the realization that a piece doesn’t fit your life include selling it or giving it away to someone whose life or body it fits better, or choosing to re-work it or re-use the materials in a way that will work better for you.

I’ve done this at least once before – back in 2016 I frogged a sweater project that rarely got worn, and wrote a bit about it in the latter half of this post. That yarn later got turned into a basic raglan pullover that I wear all the time, although I don’t think that FO ever featured on the blog (I did post about it on Instagram, though). I think the success of that experience is part of what’s led me to consider other pieces that could use a similar treatment.

So, there are a few pieces of my handmade wardrobe that haven’t been working for a long time, and I’ve been devising plans for them. I’ve even started executing a few of those plans, in fact. I’d like to share the results of each transformation when I finish them, but I figured I’d share a bit about my plans here at this point.

First up, my Svalbard cardigan, knit back in 2014 (you can see the original FO post here). I think this is a lovely design, and I actually did wear this cardigan a lot in the first year or two after I knit it, particularly when we still lived in Seattle. But over time, it became less and less something I reached for, for a variety of reasons. It didn’t work as well in the colder climates we’ve lived in since Seattle (Norway and Montreal). A huge part of why this is true is that it doesn’t pass the Jacket Test (that’s my shorthand for the question: Can you put on a coat or jacket over it without too much faff? If yes, it passes; if no, it fails). I’ve learned that my clothes live and die by the Jacket Test. Over time, I felt like Svalbard was less flattering on me and I rarely reached for it, but I love the yarn I knit it with and would happily use it in another project. So a month or two ago I frogged it, and it felt good. I’m not sure yet what this yarn will become, but it’ll be ready for me when I’ve made up my mind.

Other pieces I have plans for:

  • This simple gathered skirt sewn back in 2015. I’ll go more into detail after I’ve sewn a new skirt from this fabric, but suffice it to say that it turned out this skirt didn’t work as-is, and I deconstructed it this weekend in preparation for sewing it up into something that I hope will work much better. This plan was largely inspired by my success with the Fiore skirt.
  • My Circlet Shrug, knit in 2017. This plan is also already in progress, and luckily it doesn’t involve any frogging, but just a simple addition to the garment: sleeves! My Circlet Shrug is becoming a Circlet Cardigan. I’m very excited about this transformation and hope to share the finished modifications soon!
  • I’m also tentatively considering adding some length to the sleeves of my Lapwing pullover (again, an FO I never blogged about once finished, but that I did post on Instagram). This is lower on my priority list and it also wouldn’t be particularly fun – it would involve unpicking sleeve seams and pulling out a bind off in Hillesvåg Sølje, not the easiest yarn for that kind of task. I do wear my Lapwing, but I think I’d wear it more if the tightest part of the sleeve sat lower on my forearm for a more comfortable fit, and I do have enough yarn to make this modification. So we shall see.

I do think one thing that comes along with making our own clothes is continuously learning about what does and doesn’t work for us – and the wonderful thing is that as makers, we can so often tweak pieces we already own to make them work better, or even re-use the materials for a larger transformation. Have you ever frogged a sweater you knit or crocheted, or re-worked a piece you sewed? I’d be curious to hear how it worked for you!

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

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

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.

custom woolen mills

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).

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Processed with VSCO with n1 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

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!

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

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

IMG_20200421_113617

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.

Processed with VSCO with 9 preset

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with 5 preset

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.