Saturday, 28 March 2015

Twin set

Knitting the sleeves first (see previous post) was a good idea - there weren't many metres left when the length of the body was what I wanted.

It's a very comfortable sweater, both the wool and the raglan shape. So much so I've already cast on to knit another, similar sweater! Lucky me, I had happened to buy another cone of the same wool but a different colour...

For the second sweater I used a provisional cast-on as I haven't quite made up my mind about the collar. Perhaps something like this sweater, which I knitted in 2007.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Top down and inside out

My urge to knit is as strong as usual, but I'm not feeling very creative - or, rather, I have ideas but they're too vague. Therefore, I'm knitting a sweater using gorgeous wool I bought in Denmark last year. It's the kind that's so beautiful in itself that it calls for simplicity, which suits me perfectly right now. I will hardly be able to get more of the same kind, so for safety reasons I'm knitting it top-down. (A tweed sweater with a low-cut neckline might be innovative but not quite my style. Besides, I have no cleavage to show off anyway.)

Also, I'm finishing the sleeves first to get the right - and same - length, and I make them slightly more narrow than usual. Too narrow is hardly a risk as my arms are rather like Sesame Street Bert's.

So, it won't be a short sweater even though it looks like it in the photo above. (A pierced navel isn't my style either.) The wrong side is actually very nice, so much so I'm knitting the sweater inside out.

"Skogens konung"

When my friend Karin saw the collar she said "King of the Forest"!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Two shades of grey

Same wool (Visjö ombré) but different lots! As I couldn't decide which to experiment with I decided to get both. Let's say it was my twined duty.

Well, I do like subtle stripes but in the small swatch to the right theye're so subtle it isn't even striped but mottled. One the other hand, I really like how the mitten gradually moves from dark to light, more so in reality than in the photo.

I thought of adding some simple pattern, but decided that would draw attention from the changes. I'm not sure what to do with the small swatch: possibly combine it with white or dark grey instead.

Tuesday was an achingly beautiful day and I happened to have the afternoon off. What better way to spend it than visiting one of my favourite museums, Millesgården? The sculptures looked even more glorious than usual against the blue spring sky.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Test tubes

My twined group at HV have been knitting test tubes, and I borrowed a few of them today to take some photos. True, they may not be overwhelmingly wearable, but they're useful. Casting on is rather time-consuming, and it's convenient having several varieties of gussets etc collected in the same swatch. They all look different anyway, since everyone puts their personal stamp on them choosing favourite colours and testing different pattern ideas. Next step is designing mittens!

Twined coelacanths?
Min tvåändsstickninggrupp har fått sticka provrör - visst liknar de kvastfeningar? - eftersom det är praktiskt att ha olika varianter av kilar och hoptagningar samlade i ett och samma prov, och så tar det ganska lång tid att lägga upp. De blir olika i alla fall, eftersom det är en stickteknisk uppgift där färg inte spelar någon roll, och så finns det gott om utrymme att testa olika mönsteridéer.  Vantar nästa!

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Minor modifications

Hanne Falkenberg's Studio Long is finished and instantly became my favorite sweater - it's incredibly comfortable! I'd probably sleep in it if it was colder, but on the other hand I'm happy under my woollen (of course!) duvet. A friend of mine is allergic to wool, poor guy, while I'd be more likely to suffer from wool withdrawal. (Minimal risk. Too hot to wear it? Knit it!)
Wool galore: not at home but feels like home

As I mentioned in my previous post, Falkenberg's design doesn't call for modifications. Her constructions would make modifications difficult anyway - and it's exciting following her instructions. However, I did two things slightly differently in terms of joining.

side seam

One of Hanne Falkenberg's glorious trademarks is minimal sewing; for this sweater you only need to sew the side seams. As you can see, my sweater required even less sewing since I wanted more ease of movement and left one third open. And didn't mind less sewing one bit.

sleeve join

Typically, she chooses the three-needle bind-off technique for joins, for example under the sleeves. I decided to do it from the right side for decoration - and because I preferred it to the way my first joins slightly folded inwards. Sorry there's no photo to compare. I was too eager to redo it to get my camera, which must have been at least five metres away. I'm sure you understand. Instead, I've got an in-progress-photo to give you an idea of the construction of the sleeves:


Last, a photo of my dear grandparents in the 1930s - for no particular reason except it makes me happy to look at. 

Ann-Marie & Gösta Asplund

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Leading ladies

Still in the mood for following someone else's instructions I've added Hanne Falkenberg's "Studio Long" sweater to my collection of works in progress. It's not like working with Alice Starmore's "Donegal" pattern, though.

Starmore's "Donegal" and Falkenberg's "Studio Long"

When it comes to Donegal, I'm more than happy working with Starmore's pattern and choice of colours - how could I not? - but there are some things I need to figure out to get the size right. Sleeve length, above all (knitting for myself is like knitting for a baboon) but I also enjoy thinking about details like how to make the shoulder join look as nice as possible.

Falkenberg's design is different: her constructions are so ingenious and intriguing it's difficult to modify the shape. Her "Studio Long" is knitted both sideways and diagonally, for example! Not that I think any modifications will be necessary, it's just that I usually can't help myself...

I've knitted one of her designs before, a vest called Blues, and found it quite fascinating. I remember not always being sure where I was, but I'd heard from various sources what a careful pattern writer she is I decided simply to follow the instructions and try not to even think about interpreting anything as something that she hadn't actually written. There's simply no need to as I don't think I've ever read better, clearer instructions than Hanne Falkenberg's. It's really relaxing: garter stitch, one colour at a time and not having to think - or, rather, being able to think about whatever comes to mind. If I had a television set, this would make for excellent telly knitting. Instead, it's conversation knitting.

Det är välgörande och avkopplande att följa andras instruktioner, även om jag oftast tycker att det är roligt att hitta på själv eller åtminstone göra om detaljer. Alice Starmore är oslagbar när det gäller färger, tycker jag, så då är det lyxigt att ha hennes kombinationer som jag aldrig skulle ha kommit på själv. Hanne Falkenberg är oslagbar när det gäller mönsterkonstruktion och skriver så tydligt att det inte kan bli fel. Det gäller helt enkelt att inte tolka in något som inte står där - något av en utmaning för mig som är ganska klåfingrig i fråga om beskrivningar, men samtidigt skönt. Gör man bara som hon skriver är det förvånansvärt enkelt att sticka en tröja så här på tvären och snedden samtidigt!


Monday, 12 January 2015

The advantage of unfinished objects

I don't spend waste time counting my works in progress anymore - instead I simply tend to cast on something new if I feel like it. Over the years I've realised that it suits me having various projects going on, and there are different reasons why I take a break from them.


Why take a break from Alice Starmore's glorious Donegal, you may wonder. Doesn't is sound like taking a break from a great book to read something else instead? Well, as far as I can remember I had been knitting quite a lot of stranded colourwork for a while and decided to save this treat on purpose until I really really really felt like knitting this particular design. Silly perhaps, but somehow I felt it deserved my longing for it and enjoying it fully instead of dreaming of cables, brioche or other techniques while knitting.

Then all of a sudden in December I found myself in the right mood. Donegal was what I wanted to knit and nothing else. For quite some time I had mostly been knitting single-colour (often natural wool) things - which I also enjoy - so I was yearning for bright colours and bold patterns. Imagine the luxury of not even having to cast on but simply get knitting! I did worry some nasty creatures might have feasted on it while I was neglecting it, but fortunately not. (Come to think of it, my fear of sp-d-rs was reduced rather dramatically after it dawned on me they might actually eat enemies like moths and therefore be friends rather than foes. No, hardly friends - but I'll admit they're not the real foes. And they can't help the way they look and move.)

If you're into lace, there's a lovely design called "Wavy leaves and butterflies" by Athanasia Andritsou, and she has published it for free on Ravelry. For this shawl I used 125 grams of Cascade Forest Hills and 3½ mm needles.


Last, here are two of the books I've added to my collection the past couple of months: Knitting Fresh Brioche by Nancy Marchant and Lekker Warm!/So Warm! (in Dutch and English) by Carla Meijsen. Needless to say, I recommend both books: Marchan't book is a truly inspiring brioche treasure, and Meijsen's is not only a comprehensive introduction to twined knitting but also an impressive collection of patterns for different levels.

Actually, I was lucky enough to meet Carla Meijsen recently. Where? In a yarn store, of course.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Twined mittens finished

Thanks for your comments on my mittens in progress! I finished them late last night, and luckily enough there was actually almost some sun this morning - so I thought I'd share some photos of details.

Thanks to Ravelry, there's no really no need for me to add a year to remember when I made it, but it's a nice detail. Also, there are so many memories and associations are knitted into these mittens that I would be able to date them in the future: above all, teaching at HV and the people I've met there.

Here is the join, a three-needle bind-off:

the gingerbread whale

In sweaters I like adding my initials to a gusset; in this case I chose the inside of the thumb:

The thumb decreases are placed at an angle. It may look a bit strange at first, but it makes them incredibly comfortable! This wasn't my own idea, but something I learnt from Karin Kahnlund.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

"Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail better."

Few things are as inspiring as teaching, in my opinion. To begin, planning workshops and exercises gives me lots of ideas - but even more questions from participants, not to mention seeing how they use instructions as starting points for their own ideas. During my latest twined weekend at HV I cast on to make a pair of mittens to put some pattern and shape ideas into practice.

Almost as inspiring but far more time-consuming is not being satisfied with the results... Actually, I don't mind it very much as long as I can think of ways to make improvements. It gives me material for a blog post too!

First, the shape wasn't quite right: the cuff was too long (not to wear, but to me it looks out of proportion) and more importantly, the mitten was slightly too narrow to be comfortable:

This shorter cuff looks a lot better and the width is comfortable - but the placement of the pattern is out of balance. It looks as if it has sunk and hit wrist bottom: 

To look on the bright side, ripping back a number of rows (again) gave me a few meters of pre-twisted yarn to work with:

I thought of adding a horizontal line to frame the pattern shapes, but decided it would look odd, so I added five small pattern shapes instead:

The mitten doesn't really match what I had in mind, but then my finished projects seldom (never?) do. Here is where I would stop if I was less pleased with it (and use it for workshops) but I'm happy enough with it to knit a second one.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Getting it

My tatting is improving! I found a book with some really lovely patterns: Tatting Patterns and Designs by Gun Blomqvist and Elwy Persson. Their names don't look as English as the title, do they? It's a translation of a Swedish book, which I haven't managed to find... Not that it matters that much - I have to learn what the symbols mean anyway to be able to read the instructions - but it does feel a bit odd using a translation from my mother tongue.

A sigh of relief after completing the first repeat! I don't expect to learn it by heart (not that I feel obliged to) but I'm getting the logic of the technique.

Är det inte lite besynnerligt att hitta en översättning till engelska av en svensk bok, men inte den svenska? Men framför allt glädjande att den här typen av böcker översätts!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Third time lucky

Marianne Isager's Knit & Purl sweater is a favourite design I've knitted twice before, first using Rowan Felted Tweed for one of my cousins:


and then BC Lucca Fino Tweed for my mother:


In both cases I used 3½ mm needles (US4), but this time I'm using thinner wool, which requires 2½ mm (US1½). The pattern repeat is only 8 stitches wide, so it's not very difficult to adapt. The colour is difficult to capture, but it looks just like sand: beige with hints of yellow and blueish grey. There's a ball of dark grey wool too, which I'm using for the edges.

go! (Adding some colour - living on the edge.)

The wool is from wool-and-pattern kit by Hanne Falkenberg, another Danish genius knitter. Nothing wrong with her design Virtus - I just felt like knitting Isager's sweater again - quite possibly for myself. Isager's sweater is actually knitted in the round with a raglan yoke, but I like knitting this kind of pattern back and forth and I think the horizontal pattern borders go well with set-in sleeves.

En grå kant piggar upp och stämmer till eftertanke! Det här tycker jag egentligen är lagom pråligt, fast oftast är det roligast att sticka med många färger. Marianne Isagers tröja är dock ett riktigt favoritmönster! Vanligtvis brukar jag inte ha lust att sticka om samma plagg, men precis som med hennes kofta Viften har jag ingenting emot att göra tre. Det kan mycket väl bli ännu fler framöver - tänk bara vad fint hennes mönster skulle bli med lingarn.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

For better and worse

Double-knitting is a technique that fascinates me! I had seen some examples of it before (mostly in books), but meeting Chrissie Day in September last year inspired me to finally learn it. I had a few hours to kill waiting for the bus to take me to the airport, a book by Marianne Isager, where she describes the technique and, not particularly surprisingly, wool and needles. Right now I'm making a scarf using Cascade 220 (wool) and Cascade Casablanca (wool, silk and mohair).
Radio scarf

The colours are pretty and I like the way they change gradually. However, I decided to go for a strict pattern with simple lines to balance the colour changes. It's a "radio scarf" as I knitted part of while on a radio show last weekend - an unforgettable evening with Stina Wollter that I'm happy is knitted into the scarf.

Actually, it's my second attempt using this combination. My original idea was to knit a brioche cowl in the round, but it wasn't very successful as it pulled quite a lot. I believe it's because Casablanca is 1ply. Any other ideas?

Speaking of failures, I keep trying to master tatting going beyond knots and picots. I think it's clear where I took over from my teacher: loose knots and one picot too many. Mickey bloody Mouse was here.

room for improvement

Det är spännande att se hur garner beter sig - ibland inte alls som jag hade tänkt mig! Jag fick för mig att det skulle bli lyckat att patentsticka med en tråd Cascade och en tråd Casablanca. Visserligen blev det mjukt och skönt, och det blev fint med färgväxlingarna; däremot var det inte alls lyckat att sticka det runt. Det drar som en t-tröja av sämre kvalitet, en sådan där sömmarna går i spiral efter första tvätten. Antagligen har det att göra med att Casablanca är entrådigt, men jag är inte säker. Nå, det fick bli dubbelstickning i stället.

Apropå misslyckat: jag som inte är en stor beundrare av Musse Pigg höll på att sätta kaffet i halsen när jag såg följderna av att råka göra en picot för mycket när man slår frivoliteter. Det är inte någon tvekan om var jag tog över från min lärare, men skam den som ger sig.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Knit along with me

On Sunday I'll be at a knitting get-together in Stockholm (at Kristinehovs malmgård) and my local yarn shop Litet nystan and I have suggested a knit-along project for those interested. Maybe some of you would like to knit along at a distance? There's a gorgeous shawl at Ravelry called "Wavy leaves and butterflies" (link here) that I think would be a great project for discussion and comparison. I've knitted the first 34 rows to try it out and love it. I've chosen a wool-silk blend, Forest Hills from Cascade yarns.

There are both charts and written instructions and also suggestions how you can modify the pattern. Isn't it incredibly generous of the designer to share it for free?

På söndag är det dags för säsongens första stick-kafé på Kristinehovs malmgård! Den som vill får gärna haka på och sticka sjalen Wavy leaves and butterflies, som finns gratis på Ravelry; se länk ovan. Det är både diagram och text och förslag på hur man kan göra ändringar efter behag. Det kan vara ett bra tillfälle för den som vill pröva spetsmönster/läsa diagram/följa instruktioner på engelska. Jag har provstickat det första diagrammet och tycker att det är klart och tydligt - fast man får läsa noga, eftersom det är både räta och aviga maskor på alla varv och olika slags hoptagningar. Den har fått högt betyg (4½ av 5) samtidigt som den inte anses särskilt svår. Vad mycket bra information man får på Ravelry!

I söndags hade jag nöjet att prata om stickning med Stina Wollter i radio! (Länk i rutan till höger för den som är intresserad.) Vilken fantastisk människa! Hur lyckades hon få det att kännas så avspänt fast vi satt en bit ifrån varandra med hörlurar och en mikrofon mitt framför nosen? I alla fall brukar det inte vara så när jag umgås med folk i vanliga fall... 

Tusen tack Anette, som föreslog mig som gäst: det var en riktig helkväll!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Denmark galore, part 2

Here's a new picture of the cardigan/jacket - not that many more rows than in my previous post, but it will give you a better idea of the colours. Danish sunshine did the trick!

Two Danish islands a month seems just right! I don't think I'll manage to wait a whole year before returning to Bornholm or Fanø for next year's knitting festivals. It was my first trip to Bornholm, but I taught twined knitting at Fanø strikkefestival for the second time, and it was a little bit like coming home! The prodigal knitter, so to speak - not least considering I returned home with more than 2½ kg of a certain substance in my bags. This gorgeous tweedy blend of wool and cashmere, for example:

a cone of sheer happiness
We had a light, spacious room for the twined knitting workshop. There were some exercise balls there, and one of the participants chose one of those instead of an ordinary chair - it looked really comfortable, so I'll have to try that some time! Not that there's any room for an exercise ball at home. Needless to say, there's always room for more wool.

Come to think of it, there was a really funny moment thanks to the exercise ball. When I teach twined knitting for beginners I often move around pressing down people's shoulders. Mine hurt when I see others' curled around their ears! Well, you can imagine my surprise when I pressed her shoulders and she sort of gave way under my hands!

Speaking of beginners, I'm trying to master tatting. (It's fascinating how completely different the words are in closely related languages: in Swedish it's frivoliteter - of French origin - in Danish orkis and in Norwegian nupereller.) What I've achieved so far isn't much to brag about but I'll post a picture of it anyway. Considering I tried it for the first time only a week ago it's not too bad - and it was a good way to spend time travelling to and from Denmark.

Apart from the joy of learning in itself I must say I find learning something new very useful when I'm teaching twined knitters for beginners: it's the best way to remind myself what it feels like getting one's fingers used to something new, having too many and too few (and too big and too small) fingers at the same time. And in the wrong places of the hands too. My fingers are beginning to understand what I want them to do, even if they don't quite make it - yet. I will make them make it.

knots galore

En pilatesboll, är det kanske det som saknas bland stickprylarna? En kursdeltagare på Fanø hittade i alla fall en i salen där vi höll till, och det såg riktigt bekvämt ut. Jag är allt lite lockad att skaffa en, men det tar ju upp en hel del volym som jag hellre skulle fylla med ni-vet-vad. (Drygt 2½ kg lyckades jag komma hem med denna gång. Visst nappar det!) Ett komiskt ögonblick var när jag gick runt och tryckte ner axlar här och där (det gör ont i mina när jag ser andras axlar nästan i öronhöjd och jag är för klåfingrig för att inte göra något åt det) och hon försvann under mina händer! Synd att ingen tog ett foto på mig i det ögonblicket, för jag blev nästan rädd!

Det är alltid roligt att lära sig nya saker, och nyttigt som kursledare för att påminna sig om hur det känns att få pli på händerna. Nu har jag fått möjlighet att lära mig att slå frivoliteter. Det har jag velat pröva länge, så jag är glad att det äntligen har blivit av! Det börjar lossna, det vill säga fingrarna har förstått vad det är de ska göra även om de inte riktigt går i land med det. Men de känns stora som bratwurstar - utom lillfingret, som är irriterande kort. Förmodligen en evolutionsmiss (varför födas med en blindtarm när man kunde ha fått ett frivolitets-lillfinger - fast om några generationer kanske det har blivit sådana framsteg) men skoj är det i alla fall!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Denmark galore

Here's a photo of the progress I've made with the 18th century style jacket/cardigan I wrote about in June. You can see the steek in front where I will cut it open. I tend to make them wider than necessary, but I definitely prefer that to not quite wide enough. Before cutting the steek I will stitch seams in it and felt it slightly. (Hand-sewn seams - I used a sewing machine for my first steeks, but find them so stiff they're rather uncomfortable.)

Funny it's been a month since my last post considering Charlotte Kaae and I were interviewed about knitting and blogging at Strik Bornholm recently. Who am I to talk about blogging, you may wonder if I seem to have stopped... Well, I did mention I've decided only to post when I feel I have something to write about whether it's been a week or a month! You can read the interview here - but the text is in Danish.

Charlotte Kaae is a delight and her colourful and sparkling knits match her personality perfectly - or I guess they reflect her personality. We had met briefly a couple of times before, but this time we got to spend quite a lot of time together - and I'm happy we will see each other again in a few days at Fanø Strikkefestival. Bornholm is a fabulous island, by the way. This was my first but certainly not my last vist.

My workshops at Bornholm were lace patterns for beginners and shawl shapes. The participants knitted mini shawls to try different shapes. My frog tape measure tried one of them on!

September is a happily busy month: apart from the two knitting festivals in Denmark I'm starting my weekend twined knitting course at HV and my new life as a dancing teacher (18th century dances for beginners). Strange, I was never into dancing before but this kind got me hooked! Actually (and probably the reason I like it) it's similar to knitting back and forth: you make a pattern moving in one direction and then go back doing the same thing but in the opposite way. And in case you're wondering, I did find a fez and the Ball à la Turque was unforgettable!

Sheep, the Baltic Sea, a glimpse of a ruin... Good things come in threes!

Det har varit full fart ett tag och mer lär det bli: nyligen var jag kursledare på Bornholm och på fredag far jag till Fanø! Ett och annat smørrebrød lär slinka ner mellan varven (ha ha...) och så får jag nytt tillfälle att vädra min hemvävda dansk-svenska. Sedan har jag både HV-kurs och danskurs att se fram emot! Det har slagit mig att 1700-talsdanserna påminner lite om att sticka mönster: man gör en sorts mönster när man rör sig åt ena hållet och så vänder man och gör samma tillbaka fast spegelvänt.

Min (rättare sagt Annas) 1700-talskofta växer sakta men säkert. Det blir inte så många varv åt gången, för jag får lite ont i fingrarna när jag håller på för länge med 2,25 mm tjocka (tunna) stickor - men det är det värt!