Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Phoenix Feathers


Surpise! I finished a sweater and didn't even tell you I was working on it!

I did another test knit for Jennifer Steingass of Knit.Love.Wool. Earlier this year I test knitted Telja for her, which was published in By Hand Magazine. Somewhere in July Jenn contacted me to see whether I was interested in testing another design for her, which is published in the same magazine. I love Jenn's design work, so off course I said yes to the opportunity! This design is called Fern & Feather and you can find it here on ravelry. I suspect that as with Telja it will first only be available in the magazine, but will later appear as an independent design on Ravelry. I'm not a 100% sure of this, so contact Jennifer if you want to be sure. I wasn't sure whether I was going to be able to finish it on time as I've been so busy this year (you might have noticed 😉) but it was a very quick knit.



I know that Jenn made some updates to the pattern while it was being tested, and I haven't seen the final version yet, so some of these things might have chanced by now. However, here's the changes I made while knitting the sweater:
- I used two colours for the colourwork yoke instead of one. Because of the colours I picked, I affectionately dubbed my sweater Phoenix Feathers while I was working on it.
- I used a ribbed neckband instead of an icord. I did this with Telja as well, simply because on my sweaters I much prefer a ribbed neckline over an icord.
- I added length to the body, at least 10cm extra before starting the ribbing (Fern & Feather is a top down design). I first knitted it as per pattern, but I found that, especially for a sweater in a a heavier weight yarn, I prefer the length to be a bit more generous. I actually measured my Telja sweater and just copied the length on that one.



Another thing you might want to keep in mind is that this sweater is, at least in the pattern version that I made, a more fitted than Telja even though both patterns are intended to be worn with 1-2 inches of positive ease. I made the same size as with Telja, an my gauge hasn't changed either, but the fit is undeniably more fitted than with Telja, although not body skimming or anything that fitted. Not exactly sure what happened there, maybe it's intended, or maybe it's some sort of hiccup on my part. Anyway it doesn't really bother me, but thought I should mentioned it here anyway.



I made it, of course, in my favourite heavy-ish weight yarn; Istex Lett Lopi. I used Galaxy, which is one of their new colours.  I only found out they introduced a bunch of new colours (and discontinued a couple of other) in June, even though they did it months before that. This should tell you something about how out of the loop I've been this year. Anyway, when I saw the new colours, Galaxy immediately caught my eye, and I knew right away I wanted to make something in that colourway. Soon after, I got Jenn's message and, well, choosing a main colour was never so easy. For the contrast colour, I split up the pattern in two parts. Initially looking for something to complement the 'galaxy' theme, I landed on a warm gold-and-pink that reminded me of the Phoenix; the gold flaming up against the dark background.



All in all it was a super speedy project, even though a the beginning I was a bit worried if I would be able to finish it in time for the deadline. In the end I finished it way before the deadline. I'm sure it felt a lot speedier as well after the epic project that my Windermere project turned out to be. (Which is finished now by the way! I will do a lengthy blogpost about it later but you can catch a glimpse of the finished sweater on my instagram!)


We shot these photo's when we were hiking in a nearby forest, which is also a pretty excellent place to mountain bike due to it's hilliness. When we shot these there was actually an amateur mountain sportive going on so we had to constantly had to pay attention that we weren't in the way and while taking pictures people were constantly zooming by. I'm sure they appreciated the backstage look on a knitwear photo shoot! Other than that it was funny to be on the flip side of such a bike race. My boyfriend regularly participates in such kind of road bike events. Obviously seeing this race, his interest in these kind of races is now also peaked.


I hope you liked my Fern & Phoenix Feathers, I'm sure I do. It's exactly on time for the season! If you wish to do so you can check out other Fern & Feathers' on instagram and ravelry. There are loads, beautiful and wildly different versions. I hope to be back soon, as I have some more finished projects that I want to talk about.

Speak soon!

Monday, 31 July 2017

Things I made for Luca




Hey guys, how's it going?

I've been very busy with my dissertation, which is why I'm so inactive. Earlier this month I took a break and went away for a couple of days to hang with my brother and his family. It involved a lot of walking, driving around various countries, following some people cycling around in some important bike race that was going on at the time and counting baby toes in the evening. Wait...what?!

Yes, for those who don't follow me on instagram: I am now an aunt! My brother's baby, Luca, was born extremely prematurely while he and my sister-in-law were on holiday in Italy in late May. You can about imagine the sheer disbelief and panic when we got the news that my sister in law had to be ushered into the hospital and the baby was in danger. What followed was a mad (and chaotic) dash through the house to find and light all the candles for good luck (I'm not even joking) and clamping on to my phone. My sister in law had to stay in the hospital for about a week, and my nephew had to stay in the hospital for a couple of weeks, but all things considered things went really well. He wasn't supposed to be born until somewhere in mid July, which was something we joked about when we found out because my whole (extended) family has their birthdays in this one month of summer and my theory is now that he just wanted to shake things up a bit in that department.



At the end of June they where driven half way across Europe accompanied by a nurse to finally enable them to come home. I was sent regular updates on how it was going, and somewhere when they in Luxembourg, my brother, proudly messaged me that the baby had not cried for more than a minute during the whole journey. Tough little fellow, our Luca!

Way back in January, when they first found out they were expecting a baby, they asked me (in a very polite and respectful and non-forcible way) whether I'd like to make the baby a toy, to which I said yes, of course, as I was planning to make him something anyway.

I never before had a knit- or sew-worthy baby close enough to me, so this is all new terrain for me. I've been doing a bit of research on baby clothes (how tiny are babies!?). In the end I went with the Elijah pattern by Ysolda. It's a charming elephant pattern that came out when I was still a knitting fledgling (this also tells you how out of the loop I am when it comes to toy patterns!). Elephants are obviously awesome animals and as an added bonus he has lots of limbs and ends for him to grab and hold on to, and later he can just play with it.

Anyone whose followed my making for a bit longer knows I'm not a big toy maker. I like seeing them, and I know there is a huge community and much excitement around stitching little toys but so far I haven't really made a lot of them. I was a bit nervous to be honest. Nevertheless, the elephant was finished rather quickly, and even though my nephew arrived a bit earlier, the elephant was right on time.

And then the pictures came. Pictures of a little guy, bundled up in a blanket in the Italian heat. My heart melted, and before I knew it, I'd cast on another project for the little fellow. This time I was to find out how tiny babies really are: I made him a little cardigan. I used a pattern by Drops but modified the colourwork to my tastes. It's based on one of the favourite jerseys of his dad; a black, woollen cycling jersey with a rainbow, the markings of a cycling world champion, across the chest.



While all of this was going on, my boyfriend was looking at me and taking it all in. He looked at the pictures of my brother in his rainbow jersey. At the cardigan I was making for my nephew. And finally at the naked, green elephant sitting on the table. We looked at each other and an idea was born. Although my boyfriend knows how to knit, in theory, he's never finished any project he started, but this tiny-tiny jersey was just the thing. I think it took him longer than it took me to knit the baby cardigan, but he finished it and it looks great on the elephant, who now joins the rainbow club!



For now, little Italian Luca is too small for either the cardigan or the toy, but that will change soon. We see him grow and change every week. It's sized for about 6 to 9 months, so come winter, I hope he'll appreciate the gifts.

Best wishes,




Friday, 9 June 2017

Cleo Dungarees are here!


As a kid from the nineties I basically grew up in dungarees.  I was a stubborn kid at that, and knew what I liked, so at some point my mother had trouble getting me into anything but dungarees.
Even before dungarees made a fashion comeback, I had plans to make myself a pair to see how I'd like them as a grown up. Obviously I'm only getting to it now, which probably means the trend is on its retreat again (I'm always late to ANY party).


Judging by the amount of times I've seen this dress in my blog feed and instagram timeline, I'm probably the last person in the sewing community to make this dungaree dress. From the moment I saw these I wanted to make it, even though it diverges a bit from my usual style. I've been branching out a bit, trying new things. I notice I'm drawn to trying different silhouettes from my usual style, though I still like fit and flare.


 I can definitely see why this pattern has taken the sewing community by a storm. Not only is the dress itself a beauty, it's a quick and easy projects as well. The sewing process was a dream and I breezed through it. I finished it in two sittings, where I usually have to take quite some time for projects. I usually sew in bouts, especially these days, when I just don't have the time to spend a whole day behind the machine.



I picked a red corduroy fabric to make this in. I was a bit worried about how this would handle, especially reading a multitude of blogs strict warnings on mistakes to make while sewing ribbed fabrics. In the end a sturdy needle and a bit of bluff did the trick. I did all the top stitching in a matching colour, so it did not have to be extremely exact. I made the mini version, although there is a knee length version as well. Just as a heads up, the mini length is quite short. It wasn't too short for me, but I'm quite short myself, so longer legged ladies might want to add a bit more length with this pattern. I'm not really used to wear mini length any more so I was a bit worried whether that would be an issue but I actually really like it with this style. The only hardware that this dress needs are the buckles on the straps, but they are the simplest thing ever. They are basically no-sew buttons, which you just push trough the fabric and tada.




This project has convinced me that I need more corduroy in my life. I mean I always like the fabric (again, born in the nineties) but now I want to fill my whole wardrobe with it!

Sunday, 14 May 2017

What's going on


The past two weeks or so I've been struggling with what's probably the worst fever I've had in years, and I'm still stuck with a stubborn cold that just won't go away. Struggling with fever, cold and spring allergies, all while spring weather has come peeking out for the first time, is no fun at all. Most of the time I felt too poor to even attempt to knit, which is just something that shouldn't even be allowed.

Anyway as I'm starting to feel human again I thought it was about time to show my face here again.
Last time I was here I said I had a lot going on; dissertation mostly, but that I wasn't ready to give up on the blog yet. However if I'm going to keep breathing life into this small internet place of mine I'm going to have to do a couple of things differently, at least for the time being, until my life has a somewhat normal life pace again. Instead of either waiting for weeks/or months  to have a new finished project or the time to take (modelled) pictures of new projects, I figured I will drop in once in a while just to keep you up to date as to what is going on at the making front.

Knitting:

Normally I'm quite a monogamous knitter; I start something and then work on it until it's finished. At the moment though with time and energy being sparse and my creative focus alternating between all over the place and non-existent, I've been casting on and abandoning things in a record speed. I now have about 4 or 5 somewhat active projects on the go, ranging from "I knit a few stitches on this project everyday" to "in theory still active but only because I have not been willing to give up hope on it yet" projects. For the sake of not bombarding you with a lot of projects that might not go past the fledgling knit project status, I'll just go over my two most active projects:

Windermere

Jup I'm still at it. In my defence, it is a big beast of a project, I'm modifying a lot lot on this project, and almost every colourwork motif is different. It has been put on hold quite often in the past couple of months. The good news: I still really love both how it looks as well as working on it. The yarn is perfect. I'm almost finished with the body and then it's just the sleeves. Hooray! I'm right on track to finish this at the height of summer. Ha. Ha. Ha.

I'm was stuck for a bit at the point where the shoulder steeks should come, an element that is not in the pattern (as it is worked in pieces) so I'm on my own with this and although I have done steeks many times before I've never done shoulder steeks, so I had to first read up a bit on this topic before I tried to fudge my way through this. So far so good though, I've started to knit the steeks, but I'll still have to see how it ends up when cut.



Stasis

My other most active project is a newer one. It was born out of the need for a more straightforward project for those days when I'm extra brainfried. My other projects at hand were all dwelling on the complicated side of the knitting spectrum. So, of course I reached for my go-to type of project which is a yoke sweater. After going back and fort a bit on which project to go for I eventually landed on Stasis, a pattern that has been in my queue since forever, and a yarn that has been in my stash almost as long as that.
We'll see if this project will survive the fledging  status. I do find this new habit of casting on and abandoning things a bit annoying as it means that finishing things happens slowly, or never, but I figured that since I'm at least still making things I'm not going to be to hard on myself.


Sewing:

I've finished this dungaree dress relatively recently, although not so recently that I shouldn't have pictures yet. Still, somehow taking modelled pictures just hasn't happened yet. I'm looking forward towards blogging it as it is one of my favourite makes and I want to write about it. Reasons why the photo's haven't happened yet range from petty reasons -such as have been working all week and am too tired- to my resident photographer and I not being at the same place (work related trips in the weekends can mess up any plans) and then when I thought it was going to happen the fever struck, and a runny nose just does very little for me on pictures. I got so impatient to blog about it that I even posted a photo of it on instagram, which I usually don't do if I haven't blogged yet
.

YarnloveChallenge


In April I participated in the YarnloveChallenge on Instagram. I like challenges because you have the opportunity of meeting a bunch of cool new people. Having set topics to post is really helping my activity levels, especially at these times when I'm just so busy that I have very little else to post about. However, at some point there where at least four different photo challenges going on and it became a bit much to keep up with. I only participated in one myself but I definitely felt some photo challenge weariness towards the end of the month. So it turns out that I can have to much of a good thing? I don't know, I think I will be taking a time out from the photo challenges for a bit.

I do like seeing al the pictures for Me Made May, I've been toying with the idea of participating in this one. Last year I was fairly sure that 2017 was going to be my year. I decided early on that I was not going to participate this year either, with my workload at the moment I want to add little extra. I have a tendency of taking on to much work, and I have a tendency to see things through to the end even when the workload is crushing me. I knew things were going to be intense, so I decided early on to keep myself in check and just be okay with missing out on some stuff. I also have to be okay with, though this is quite a bit harder, a VERY low knit and sew productivity.



Well I thought this was going to be a quick blog post, but it turns out that if you put me in front of a writing device I just keep going and going. I hope inspiration finds you well!

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Driftless cardigan




It's been a while since my last blog post, I've got a lot going on at the moment. I'm working on my research and dissertation and I'm also trying to figure out what I want to do after all this, all this being my life as a student. While I'm doing this I try to stay sane by keeping up with normal life, meaning knitting, my sewing machine, petting my cats and staying in touch with close friends. It's been  juggling and blogging has fallen by the wayside.

I have to admit that the current disastrous state of the world diminished my blogging mojo as well. I've read this on some other blogs too, and I think I've mentioned it here before. Tomorrow my country has its general elections, and so far the polls are not looking good, with an extreme right wing, global warming denying nut-job looking to become the moral victor. Let's hope my country comes to its senses in the remaining hours before the vote. 

In all honesty, I'm not really sure where I want to go with the blog. I know the blogosphere in general has been in decline, with instagram and vlogging taking over, and quite a few of my favourite bloggers have either quit altogether or post drastically less. I don't think I'm ready to quit as of yet, there is something inherently healing about writing, so I'm going to try to pop up her at least once in a while to catch up on the creative front.


I thought I would start off nice and easy by sharing a simple project I made a while ago: a Driftless Cardigan. For a change I didn't knit a cardigan but sewed one instead with knit fabric (Is this blasphemy?). Driftless is a pattern by Grainline Studio which they released around this time last year. I've been meaning to sew one since about that time, but you know how it goes. It's one of their patterns which only comes in pdf format. I hadn't tried sewing from a pdf before, but wanted to for the longest time, so this seemed like a good way to tackle that.

All in all, sewing a pdf pattern was a breeze. I first taped the printed sheets together, and then traced the patterns onto pattern paper. Yes, it was an extra step, but not a complicated one and it worked very well. I can imagine though that with more complex patterns the process gets more complicated and takes longer, so for dresses I still prefer paper patterns.



I know this might not be the most flattering thing I've ever made, but it sure is comfortable. Moreover it is an excellent layering piece and the kind of thing I wear a lot when it starts to get too warm for some of my knitted pieces. The fabric is a wool polyester viscose mix, and it is knitted fabric. That is about the only thing I know about it. As someone who got into sewing with a knitting background it still baffles me how little information is provided with fabric. Us knitters, we're used to know to the exact percentage of fibres in our materials, down to the sheep breed and sometimes even the very farm it comes from. With fabric you seem to be lucky enough if you know what fibres are in your fabric, let alone the percentages.



I sewed almost all of the cardigan in one weekend day during my autumn break. Everything but the buttonholes was done. I tried to sew them the day after, but my sewing machine started acting up and made it impossible to make anything remotely resembling a decent buttonhole. So I put the project aside for a couple of days... Which became weeks... Which became months, until I got myself together early in January and tried again, this time my sewing machine didn't give a hitch, and everything went smoothly, even though I did everything the same as before (I can't even begin to try to understand how this sewing machine logic works).



I also wanted to share my birthday loot. My birthday was last week. I didn't want to dedicate a whole post to it, but it's such a cheerful photo that I liked to share. It's mostly yarn, craft books and a few novels, which suits me perfectly!

So, see you soon,
-and fingers crossed for tomorrow's election-



Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Telja

 

Today I've got a special project to show you guys. Somewhere at the beginning of December, Jennifer Steingass of Knit.Love.Wool contacted me to see whether I would be interested to test knit a yet unreleased design of hers. I've never done a test knit before, so I was flattered to be asked.

I was sold when Jenn send me the pictures of her own knit; a wonderful Icelandic jumper, in a delightful blue hue. So of course, I couldn't resist.The pattern was named Telja, which means, Jenn told me, "believe" in Icelandic.The original design is knit with quince and co, but Jenn told me it was fine to use any other yarn which matched gauge.  She must have guessed my taste in yarn very well as she suggested Lett Lopi to me, which is exactly the yarn I thought of using when I first saw the design.




Inspiration for the colour palette came from outside. I was inspired by the purples, pinks and greens you can find in the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. Not that this phenomenon occurs often -or at all to be honest- where I live. When your TV-time consists solely of nature documentaries, supplemented with other documentaries, you tend to pick some things up. The closest I've ever gotten to seeing the Northern Lights were the webcams from Shetland.org.  I'd been watching a documentary about Svalbard recently, and when I saw the Northern Lights again, I decided on the colour choices for this project. Check my ravelry for the colour codes!


 I have a lot of yarn left, mostly because I waffled about a bit with regards to the sizing. I should point out that this was not a fault with the pattern but rather a brain blip with myself. Since I lost a bit of weight I am apparently entirely incapable of knowing my own size, even when taking measurements. I had to reknit a part of the body because it became rather large when compared to my other lopi sweaters. I suspect me knitting a large part of the jumper while I was also working on my exams, and the accompanying stress had an impact on my gauge as well!


 I love the yoke pattern. For it's apparent simplicity, it's a surprising pattern. The different medallion lockets give the contrast colours a real chance to shine. When I saw Jenn's WIP I thought it was knitted top-down, but I was happy to see that the pattern was actually knitted bottom-up, my preferred construction method. The original has I-cords at the hems and collar, which I left out. Instead I added a ribbed collar. The pattern was clearly written, especially when you've got a little experience with Icelandic jumpers, this pattern should guide you quite easily. Just a note: there are quite a few rows that require you to knit with three different colours, the beware if you're wary of that.



Thanks Jenn for letting me test this pattern. I'm completely in love with the result. If you like it, you can find it in the By Hand lookbook published today and in a little while in Jenn's Ravelry store.

Take care everyone,
xxx



Saturday, 31 December 2016

On to the next!

Hello everyone!

So, that's almost a wrap on 2016. Traditionally, I end the year with a long wrap-up of everything I made and an extensive list of things I want-to-make. Like you, however, I'm anxious to see the back of 2016, so I'm bringing you this year's wrap-up in espresso format: my two favourite makes of the year!


My favourite knitted project of 2016 is Afmaeli. It was in very close competition with my Jenny at the Fair cardigan, but since I knitted most of that project in the last bit of 2015 I thought it wasn't really fair to count that amongst the 2016 projects. Afmaeli was always going to be a contender for the "favourite make of the year title" being made in lopi wool and with its beautiful colourwork yoke. I have worn it a lot ever since we've had proper cold weather, and I always feel good in it. Since I've lost weight since I made this jumper the fit is now a bit different from when I just finished it; slightly more oversized and slouchy. It does not bother me, but should it do so in the future I might take the scissors to  the project to make it a bit smaller.


My favourite sewing project is the seda dress which I wore to my graduation. A fit and flare dress is one of my favourite shapes to wear, it's blue -my favourite colour- and has pockets, so obviously I love it. The fit was spot-on when I made it, but now unfortunately it has become very loose, making it look awkward, making it unwearable. That is a shame, as I liked the fabric. I'm not sure if altering the dress is worth the work, because it might be easier to just make a new one. At least I've been able to wear it several times, with much delight, to enjoyable occasions!


Although I'm glad to give 2016 the boot, I know that, globally, 2017 won't be much better. If anything, we're just beginning to pick the fruits of what happened this year. I've made no crafting resolutions, I just want to go with whatever I fancy. Instead, I resolve to rebel in the face of the world's injustice, be kinder for the world as well as myself and speak out, and do my best to make this not the new normal. To try and find a smile wherever possible and not give up on the hope of better possibilities, and try to keep making nice things to add to it. Okay, so maybe that last one does refer to knitting and sewing.

Wishing you all an inspiring, resilient and craftful 2017,

Cheers!