queue check: may 2017

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I continue to be a fan of Karen Templer’s Queue Check posts over at Fringe Association as a way to keep track of knitting projects and to prioritize upcoming projects, and it’s been a little while since my last check-in on that front. I sent off a version of my thesis draft to my supervisor today – and while it still needs a lot more work in the next two weeks, I thought I’d take the evening off and do a little queue check of my own!

Starting with the projects mentioned in my previous queue check post from February: both pairs of socks mentioned in that post are off the needles and I’ve been wearing them constantly (they’re pictured above). I ended up working on them at the same time, and that seems to have started me on a trend of working one patterned pair and one plain pair of socks at the same time, which I’m really enjoying. Socks are definitely continuing to be soothing knits in a stressful time. I’ve finished a third pair since that post, which I haven’t mentioned on this blog yet, but I’m going to save all of that for another day for what will probably be a blog post dedicated solely to socks.

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I have two new pairs on the needles at the moment. The plain pair above is Lumineux by Ysolda Teague, which I’ve wanted to knit since it came out in last fall’s Knitworthy collection, because it looks like the coolest afterthought heel of all time. I’m knitting the vanilla sock version, not the textured one shown in the pattern photos, because the heel construction is the main thing I’m interested and I love the speckled yarn in plain stockinette. I’m using the We Love Knitting yarn from sweet Claire that I got at last year’s Oslo Strikkefestival, and it feels great to cast on with it after it’s been waiting on the shelf for a few months. I’m using the speckled blue and white as my main color (and I believe the colorway is called Icicle, which feels super apt because it makes me think of nothing so much as Elsa from Frozen) and the lovely tonal grey for my contrast heels and toes. On the bottom, the patterned pair of socks I’m working on is super special: Aimée of La Bien Aimée in Paris has a brand new colorway called Everything is Awesome, named after the song that Tegan and Sara did for the Lego movie, and it’s a silvery grey base with vibrant rainbow speckles. I love Tegan and Sara and this yarn has got to be one of the coolest things I’ve ever worked with – it is so much *fun*. My skein is on Aimée’s Merino Twist Sock base and I didn’t want to knit just vanilla socks with it, so I’m working up a pair of Speckled Space Socks by Amanda Stephens, which are proving to be really enjoyable. But enough about socks for now!

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Moving on to garments, I’ve finished my Norwegian wool Dalur (pictured at left), which I started in March for Tolt Icelandic Wool Month (and I blogged about my initial plans for it here). I’m planning a full FO post with proper photos for this one once my thesis is turned in, because I love this sweater and I love Norwegian wool and I want to give myself space to say everything I want to say. For now, just know that I’m super happy with how it came out and I look forward to sharing it with you properly. I do still have a greyscale garment on the needles, however – last month I finally cast on for my Bruntsfield vest (pictured right), another Ysolda pattern. I first swatched for it nearly a year ago last May, around the same time I swatched for my Sandneskofte, and I am absolutely loving how it’s working up – the colorwork has proven very addicting, even with the frequent color changes and spit splicing of yarn. I’m nearly through the main part of the body and will be adding steeks for the armholes and the V-neck soon. This one also happens to be Norwegian wool (Rauma Finullgarn) so even though it’s a very different garment, it feels like a cousin to my Dalur somehow.

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I’m wanting to clear my needles of old WIPs as well, so I recently picked up a project I started last year which has been hibernating for months and months: my Loess wrap (pattern by Christine de Castelbajac for Brooklyn Tweed), which I’m calling Sommarøya after a nearby island with beautiful turquoise waters whose name means “summer island.” This one’s a laceweight project, although it actually moves fairly quickly on US 5 / 3.75mm needles, so it feels like I could finish it this summer. I’m knitting it in a merino silk hand dyed yarn, Soft Like Kittens Nestling Lace, which is super beautiful. Annette of Soft Like Kittens stopped dying regularly a few years ago so I’m so pleased to have gotten one of the lace weight yarns she did (of which there weren’t all that many, I believe). The colorway is called Pool Tile, which only adds to the summer vibe of this project, and I’m really enjoying it. It’s going to be a lovely lightweight summer scarf when it’s finished.

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I have some upcoming projects on the brain as well. I’m planning a Zara tee in Quince & Co. Sparrow with one of the new marled shades, Mineral (I seriously adore these new Quince & Co. marls, you guys), and I’m planning to use the luxe Blue Sky Fibers Metalico in Platinum as my contrasting color. While that one will absolutely continue the greyscale garments trend I have going so far this year, the other planned project definitely bucks that trend and even gets me out of my usual color comfort zone entirely – I’m planning a Garland by Stefanie Pollmeier from Pom Pom issue 7 with some super gorgeous yak lace from welthase, which is a luxurious lace weight merino/silk/yak blend. I’ll be using the colorway Rosen, which is a subtle dusty pink that positively glows. Something about the spring months puts pink on my mind, even if it’s still too early for any kind of blossoms in Tromsø. This one will be my project for the Pomfest KAL, the knitalong taking place in conjunction with Pom Pom Quarterly‘s fifth anniversary celebrations – but more on that later!

Once I’ve laid it all out like that, it seems like an awful lot of knitting. But for various reasons we don’t really need to go into here, I’ve been seeking out comfort constantly lately, and for me that’s meant an hour or two of knitting before bed every night while listening to Harry Potter audiobooks. I can think of worse things, can’t you?

april musings

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As the rest of Norway is getting ready for påskeferie (Easter holiday), stocking up on Solo and Kvikk Lunsj (orange soda and Kit Kats, basically) and preparing to head to their cabins for a cozy week of skiing/reading/knitting/beautiful time off, I am in the throes of my thesis writing, which will continue all through the Easter holiday. No time off for me. It’ll be really sleepy around Tromsø, but maybe that’s a good thing? As my thesis deadline has crept closer I’m spending more time inside, hunched over the computer, and I get out for fewer walks. Maybe the Easter holiday will be a good excuse to improve upon that situation. I could definitely use the fresh air.

April in Tromsø means a constant cycle of melting snow, rain, and dips in the temperature that bring fresh snow again. Indecisive skies mean sun one minute, clouds and precipitation the next. But that indecision and constant change sounds like April in most places, doesn’t it? (Even if in most places it involves more flowers.) I’ve been deeply envious of all the springy flower photos from back home I’ve been seeing on Instagram recently, but today I find I don’t mind this indecisive Arctic “spring” weather. I suspect this is the result of eating well this week, cutting back on refined sugars (I have a horrible sweet tooth) and going for fresher foods. The longer days help, too. Today’s sunrise was at 5:20 AM and sunset is at 8:10 PM – the midnight sun begins in just a month and a half.

In any case, for now I am living from day to day and keeping that thesis deadline in sight (it’s May 15). It may be a little quieter around here while I work on finishing my thesis. I get in a little bit of knitting time in the evenings, but not more than that. But because it might be a little quiet around here in the coming weeks, I thought I’d share my current progress on the projects I’ll be working on during that precious evening knitting time.

First up, I’m knitting away on my Norwegian wool Dalur (blogged here), having finished both sleeves. After the colorwork section at the hem, the body is just stockinette in the round, so once I cast on for that I think it’ll go quite quickly at this large gauge. But I’ve been waiting for a weekend day when I can dedicate several hours to getting the body started, because I’ll work a tubular cast on which takes some attention (and in that charcoal yarn, probably also some good daylight). Apparently I haven’t taken a new photo since I finished the sleeves, but this still gives you an idea of what a gorgeous sweater this is going to be. I’m really looking forward to working the yoke once the body is finished. And I am loving, absolutely loving, knitting up a sweater out of the Hillesvåg Blåne. This yarn is really special.

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I’ve also been working on both pairs of socks I mentioned in this post, and they have been every bit as soothing as I’d hoped they’d be in this busy and somewhat stressful time. I’m on the second sock of both pairs (Siv is a little further along than Fika at the moment, but I’ve been dividing my time between them pretty evenly – they’re both past the heel now).

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Above is the first of my Fika socks, which I’m knitting up in a BFL Tweed Sock base from Jorstad Creek. It’s such a lovely springy green to be working with at this time of year, and I can’t wait for them to be finished. I used the teeniest bit of Welthase Fingering Light in Hazel for the contrasting toe stripe.

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And my beautiful Siv socks. I wrote about this on Instagram, but the combination of this yarn on these needles is really doing it for me. It’s such a pleasure to knit with. The yarn is the MCN sock base from Kat’s Riverside Studio in the Storm colorway, and I love that I think about my trip to Montréal every time I pick these up to work on them. And I am going to love wearing these.

I actually have more socks planned for my next project – I’m really looking forward to casting on a pair of socks with this super gorgeous yarn I picked up from Hannah of Palindrome Knits (I’m thinking By the Seine River might show off the colorway really nicely) and there’s something super special coming in the mail from La Bien Aimée as well, but I’m definitely waiting until I finish at least one of these pairs before starting any more socks. With any luck it won’t be long now, even with the long writing days.

project planning: soothing knits

I mentioned on Instagram this week that I’ve been in a little bit of a slump lately. I’m sure there are several contributing factors – the slog of mid-winter (and so far one with much less snow than usual), the feelings that come with the weird middle stretch of my thesis work (totally normal, but hard to shake all the same), and the political situation back in my home country (let’s just go with “it’s a mess” and not say any more about that here, shall we?). I also fell of the metaphorical horse with my exercise plan after several months of working out regularly and it’s been hard to find my way back in. Exercise makes a huge difference when you’re feeling down, or at least it does for me. Nonetheless, I feel like I’m on the upward curve again, thankfully.

A trip to Montreal at the end of January helped with that. I’ve been before, but it’s still not a city I know very well, so there’s so much to explore – and as a result, seemingly endless inspiration. I popped into La Maison Tricotée while I was there on a beautifully sunny Sunday, where I picked up a skein of sock yarn as a souvenir. That seemed like a great way to kick off a post of my upcoming knitting plans – and I think you’ll sense a theme: soothing, repetitive knits.

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The skein of sock yarn I brought back from Montréal is Riverside Studio‘s Merino Cashmere Nylon fingering in the colorway Storm. I’ve knit exactly one pair of socks using a sock yarn with cashmere – these plain stockinette socks in Dream in Color’s Smooshy with Cashmere – and they shot to the top of my “favorites to wear” list almost immediately. The cashmere feels so luxurious. So when I saw a merino cashmere base at La Maison Tricotée, I jumped on it. Riverside Studio was new to me, but Kat is located in Farrellton, Québec, not too far from Ottawa, and it felt good to bring something home from a Québecois dyer. I like these colors, too, and the way they bring to mind winter to me – on some of Kat’s other bases, this color seems a bit bluer and more saturated, but something about the merino/cashmere/nylon base takes the color a little bit differently, and it really feels like it suggests snow, water in the mist, the sea reflecting snow clouds, and bare branches all at once.

I plan to make a pair of Siv socks with this yarn, from the first issue of Laine magazine. Another of my all-time favorite pairs of socks is my Twisted Flower socks, from the pattern by Cookie A – but I know that the allover traveling-stitches-and-lace pattern will be too much for me when I’m working to get my thesis done. Siv’s panel of traveling stitches feels like a nice compromise. But I won’t be starting these until I finish my current sock project…

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When I got back from Montréal I started a pair of Fika socks, with this springy green Jorstad Creek BFL Tweed Sock yarn. The twisted rib leg and stockinette foot definitely counts as repetitive and soothing right now, and I’ve wanted to make a pair of Fika socks since the issue of Pom Pom that they’re in first came out – nearly two years ago now. I’ve been wanting to use the yarn even longer – it’s been in my stash since 2013, since I bought it at Knit Fit in Seattle, where I had a booth at the marketplace and the Jorstad Creek both was right across from mine. I’m about halfway through the first sock now and it feels so good to finally use a yarn that’s just been languishing in the stash for years.

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I’ve also been thinking about what I want to do with these two skeins of Woolfolk Tynd in Pewter. I bought them back in 2014 and I originally planned to make a pair of Fure armwarmers from Woolfolk’s first pattern collection with them, but I’ve gone this long without casting on even though I really want to work with this yarn. So I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s probably not the right pattern for me (and besides, my Inglis mitts are plenty long for me, it turns out). Again, I’ve been thinking about patterns that are soothing and repetitive, which will fill a gap in my wardrobe, and I’m pretty sure some kind of simple cowl would be a good way to go here. The Woolfolk is really soft, which makes it an ideal next-to-the-skin sort of yarn, and a cozy cowl I can tuck into the top of my coat when it’s not cold enough for a big scarf sounds fantastic. I’m not totally set on this yet, but I’m thinking about Lilac Wine by Amy Christoffers, which is a perfect blank canvas for a really beautiful yarn to shine. (Note that Amy’s site no longer seems to be active, so clicking the link on Ravelry will give you an error message, but you can copy/paste the direct link into the Wayback Machine at archive.org to access it). For a stretchy cowl, the difference in yarn weight isn’t an issue.

There are more projects in the pipeline, but I’m trying not too get too ahead of myself as long as my thesis is my main focus. But these are some of the projects and yarns I’m looking forward to the most. Interestingly, two of these involve a lot of 1×1 ribbing and one involves traveling stitches – and I recognize that for some folks, neither of those things says “soothing.” So I’m curious: what kind of knitting is most soothing for you? Are there particular kinds of yarns, projects, or stitch patterns you gravitate towards when you want some easy comfort knitting? I’d love to know!