Sunday, 24 July 2016

What's happening next?

"Never again.". A four day and 200 kilometre long walk has just finished in my home town. According to a lady on the bus, a local newspaper had polled that 70% of those who crossed the finish line of this monster marathon swore to never again put themselves through this...  yet more than half will probably return again next year, and the next, and the next. What does that have to do with knitting? Well, I just finished the longest and largest shawl I've ever made!

Before blocking
It's Gudrun Johnson's Hansel Hap, that I talked about in my previous blog post. Blocking was a challenge, and I had to create a surface to block it on that was both large enough and away from cat paws, that would make Pat & Mat weep with pride! The blocking is just finished, thanks to a heatwave it was dry within half a day or so. I still have to take better pictures to show you the end result, and a full report will follow once said heatwave has passed somewhat.

When I just finished this hap, I could have sworn that I wouldn't start another huge hap, well not never, but not soon either. So, with pride I'm ready to announce my next WIP;

Never again? Yes, again! Just like all those marchers, I can't help myself! I'm in love with Kate Davies' Book of Haps. I'm ready to cast on with yarn from a new to me indie-dyer and and I can't wait to try it out and see how it knits up! The pattern I've picked is Veera Välimäki's Theme and Variation, and I'll be casting on the largest size... obviously.

Happy summer knitting,
I'll check back with all of you soon!

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Hansel and Happenings

Hi there,

So I know I haven't really been around much, here or anywhere on the net really this last month. I've been away doing things that I typically don't blog about. I've also felt the need to turn away from a bit from all the screens, news feeds and social media. I'm inclined to do this every summer, after exam rush has ended, but this year I especially felt the need to hide in my own cave of book and wool and let the world be the world. The Orlando shooting, Trump, the EU referendum. Now in the aftermath of that, I'm full of worries about what's going to happen to the EU and especially in regards to Scotland and Northern Ireland.

My whole time line has been in a sad state since Friday. I had wanted the UK to stay in the EU, but at least when I woke up, I could do so with the reassurance that nobody took my rights away. I'm still a citizen of the EU, which sadly cannot be said for many people across the pond. It feels like someone opened Pandora's box and handed out the keys to anyone willing to take them.

Nevertheless, I've steadily kept on knitting. I've seen quite some people in the online knitosphere call out to say that we should keep on crafting and sharing beautiful things, if only as a therapeutic act in all these troubles. So here it goes, my attempt to join in this.

My current project is entering the final stage. It's a Shetland hap, more specifically the Full Hansel Hap designed by Gudrun Johnston. It's a giant beast of a shawl, the Mother of Shawls, The One Shawl to Rule Them All. I've had it in my queue since it was published, but finally got to it when the anticipation about Kate Davies new book The book of Haps got too much. For a few weeks, haps were absolutely everywhere I looked on the net, it got to me, so I cast this one on in hopes of finishing it before Kate's book would arrive.

I'm about to start the lace edge. About a month ago or so I would have told you the same; I was about to start the lace edge. The shell border proved to be a bit of an obstacle for me. I should have known, given I breezed surprisingly fast through the garter stitch middle. Karma strikes back! I think I must have knit some parts of the shell border about ten times or so by now. I had a lot of trouble with getting the colour combination right. I finally thought I had it, but had to rip it all again when one of my chosen colours clashed hideously with the other 3 colours when knitted up (I swear they looked good together on the skein!). But between picking new colours, waiting for yarn to arrive, knitting, and finally being happy with the colour combo, I made some knitting mistakes. What can I say, this is my knit-inbetween/while-doing-other-things, and watching penguin chicks hatch on the tv proved to be too much of a distraction. I off sided the lace on one of the four sides....which I naturally only found out when I finished the whole shell bit. So with a good glass of cider and a cat on my lap I set to work and ripped it all out (yet) again...trying not to shout at the knitting gods.

So, here I am, hoping to finally put all of that behind me (touch wood!). In the months to come I'll be able to randomly recite this lace pattern (a skill which will no doubt delight my friends). This week also saw the arrival of The Book of Haps in the Treehouse, completing the hap themed month. Unfortunately I was not able to beat the hap deadline with my shawl, but let that not spoil its glorious publication! I spend the weekend reading Kate's essay about the etymology and meaning of Hap, which as a language geek especially delighted me. My favourite designs from the book are Moder Dy, Lang Ayre, Houlland, Theme and Variation and Uncia. The last one being designed by Lucy Hague, so no surprises there. Hers and Kate's were the ones I knew, without question, I was going to like as soon as the names were announced on Kate's blog. For now, I'll just enjoy reading the essays and knitting of my monster shawl. We'll see what I feel like  making after this.

I hope everyone has a good time, I wish everyone lots of strength in keeping positive, and happy knitting,

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Skiff Hat

 I have a new knitted project to show you, a hat this time. This was my project for when I was working on my midterm papers. I wanted something that was interesting as well as small, which wouldn't be a huge commitment for me, so that when the paper writing business was over, and I had a little more head space, I could jump right into a new project.

Pattern: Skiff 
Designer:Jared Flood
Yarn used: Malabrigo Rios
Associated reading: Kiss of the Fur Queen - Tomson Highway

I went with the Skiff Hat by Jared Flood. It's been a while since I did something with cables, and I had been meaning to do something with cables again for a while. I've even been queueing some cabled jumpers and cardigans.Skiff has been on my radar for a while. I love the cable pattern on this one, especially on the slouchy version. I've seen many versions out there which I really liked so it was about time I made one myself.

I made some changes to the pattern. While browsing through the Ravelry projects, I noticed that many commented that the hat comes out quite big. Since the pattern comes in only one size,  I knew I had to tinker on it a bit myself. This was especially pressing because the yarn I used, Malabrio Rios, tends to grow quite a bit after blocking. I used smaller needles for the ribbing, but more importantly, I left out a whole pattern repeat. I did five pattern repeats, instead of six. I did this for the ribbing as well, so I cast on only 100 stitches. I shortened the brim as well, ribbing until it measured 6 inches.


I've haven't knitted any Brooklyn Tweed Patterns for a while. Partly because, while I liked  some of the designs, none of the recent publications really ticked all of my "Fantastic, lets cast this on right away" boxes, at least until the new Wool People collection they released last week. Moreover, in January Vatmoss hit the knitting world,  which meant prices for patterns rose for European knitters.  Most patterns only had a slight price increase, but Brooklyn Tweed patterns, which already was a bit on the expensive side, increased with 1 to 2 euros per pattern, and in some cases even more. I have two minds about this, because on the one hand I think designers should get a fair compensation for their hard work, on the other hand I don't think that a 2 euro tax increase is going to do that. In any case, it meant that Skiff, for a while at least, was priced at 10 euros, which I find quite a lot for a hat pattern which comes in one size. Luckily, the prices have gone back to their old prices since a while. I don't know why, but maybe the prices went back when Ravelry started handling the Vatmoss for the patterns.

I took these pictures a week or two ago, on the coldest day of April. It was a fickle day, it was cold and there were showers of rain, hail and even some snow. Just before sundown, we had a dry spell and we quickly headed out to take these photos. When I started knitting this hat, I had expected that the weather might make taking pictures a bit odd, however I expected it to be to warm, rather than a bit on the cold side. ...

Friday, 29 April 2016

Graduation Dress

Last week I had my Bachelor degree ceremony. Officially I've had my degree for a while, and I've already started my Master's level, but due to an endless stream of paperwork, and lots of stuff that needed to be organized, it took until now to have the official ceremony. Now I'm not entirely sure how this is in other countries, but getting your academic bachelor is a Big Thing over here.

The ceremony itself turned out pretty neat. There were lots of my (former) teachers, who know me quite well personally, as well as one of my closest friends at uni, who was in exactly the same boat as I. I got to talk about my research in front of an audience and a giant microphone stand which clearly was not made for people with gnome ancestry, and everything always feels a lot more official and celebrative when you get it printed on fancy paper and wrapped in a silver-coloured cylinder (I suggested a cylinder of pure wool to wrap the master's degree in, we'll see what they'll do with my advice).

I have to admit that beforehand I wasn't really feeling it, partly because in general I'm just not really into such formal things, but mostly because I guess I'm already a bit past that moment. I felt a huge burst of happiness the moment I knew that I had my degree, but because I've already moved on with other studies, a ceremony seemed slightly redundant. So to pump myself up for the event I did what I often do; making something for myself to wear.

I started brainstorming as to what I wanted a week or two before the date, so that, in true procrastination style, I started the weekend before and had to force myself to finish it in two days.  My main criterion was that I wanted the dress to reflect me; something that would be in line with the type of clothing that I wear.  I debated which pattern the use for a while, and in the end made another version of the Seda dress. I was in two minds about it at first, because there is also a part of me that just wants to try as many new patterns as I can, as I still have so much to learn in sewing. But there is also a lot to be said of the advantages about finding and subsequently sewing up many versions of dresses that tick all the boxes. Then I pictured Seda with a floral main fabric, combined with a neutral yoke. I really couldn't get the image out of my head. Another pro of this route was that, because I was pressed for time, it was a good move to go with something which I knew was going to fit me well. The Seda dress I made for Christmas fits me exceptionally well, just out of the envelope. So with that in mind I started cutting the fabric for this one. Because I had made it before the process was really speedy, and I finished it without a moment of stress.

The fabric used for this dress is cotton poplin. For my previous Seda the main fabric was heavy and thick, as I made it with winter in mind. The poplin used for this dress is a lot lighter, and transforms the feeling of the dress. I'm very chuffed about the bias tape, which I made from the neutral fabric. I'm now considering whether a bias foot is a good investment, does anyone of you have experience with one?

 I'm very happy with the finished dress. It feels very 'me', and when I finished it I basically couldn't wait to put it on, and was sad(-ish) to have to wait until the end of the week to wear it. I guess this is a pretty good indicator to whether the project is a success or not. Aside from simply how the dress looks, I think the construction of this dress is the best I've done so far, and after having to spend frustratingly long weeks on another (yet unblogged) dress, it felt really good to be able to follow that up with a speedy project. We took these photo's on the way back home from the ceremony, so that explains the somewhat jubilate mood in some of these pictures.

I cannot promise this is going to be the last Seda dress. The pattern is just so versatile, it suits me very well. I have to confess that I've already been thinking up different fabric and colour combination, but I'm first going to explore some different waters before returning to this one.

This project has really motivated me to make a list of sewing projects that I want to make soon. I felt so happy and proud when I stepped up on that platform to get my degree in my self made dress. Not pictured are the knitted cardigan and shawl I wore when I was there, so my outfit was (almost) completely handmade. This doesn't happen all to often: I mean, I wear my knitted projects all the time, but this is a whole new level for me, and it made me feel chuffed. I have a tendency to wait for special occasions as an excuse to sew something (case in point), but I'm now looking forward to start sewing more and more everyday wear clothing.

I hope my next blogpost will follow at a shorter interval. I do notice that the better weather and longer light make it easier for me to take project pictures when needed, even though we've had snow (!) and extremely low temperatures this week. Although I do worry about the climate, it was a good excuse to bring out ALL the knitwear again! I hope the weather is treating all of you well,

Happy Weekend!

Friday, 15 April 2016

Afmaeli Lopapeysa

Hello world! What can I say? I enjoy my master courses tremendously, but they do take some work.
 Lets show you the last thing I finished before mid terms: my Afmaeli sweater. After I finished my Jenny at the Fair I was a bit lost as to what to knit next. I was a bit restless in my knitting, so to speak. I started a couple of things, but nothing felt quite right and was subsequently able to keep my focus. This hardly ever happens, I have a to-make list of unspeakable length. When I'm at the tail end of a project, I start planning about what my next project is going to be. This time though, I didn't find my flow in any of the projects I decided on. I decided to turn back to an old love, one that always feels right; the lopapeysa.

Designer: Védís Jónsdóttir
Yarn used: Lett Lopi
Associated reading: Shell Shaker by LeAnne Howe

The pattern, Afmaeli, was designed by Védís Jónsdóttir in celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Istex. It is one of the most popular Icelandic sweater patterns on Ravelry, probably in part because it is a free pattern, but mostly because it is just a really attractive design. For the yoke, two options are given, one with a normal uni colour background, and one with a multicoloured background. I opted for the latter, because I never say no to a good rainbow coloured yoke.

I used a black heathered Lett Lopi for the main colour. I had it in my stash for quite a while, initially for a different sweater. As any knitter with an addiction for icelandic wool, love for colourwork and a fondness for yoke sweaters will readily admit, you tend to have a stockpile of scraps and leftover balls from previous sweater. This is excellent, as this helped

I really enjoyed knitting this lopapeysa, which was a relief after my initial indecision. I loved, loved, loved working on the yoke. I mean I always love working on yokes, however this one is special. I have yet to see a colour combination in which I doesn't suit this sweater, but I especially like the yokes with the multi coloured background effect.

I did make some changes to the pattern. For one, I included shaping. This is not included in the Afmaeli pattern itself, but it is easy to add. I copied the waist shaping from the Grettir pattern, as I'm really pleased with the shaping there, and it fits really well. I did not use the short row neck shaping from Grettir's pattern. I know most people really love them, but they don't always work out for the better for me. I think this sweater fits better in the shoulders and in the back than my Grettir sweater, which makes me wonder whether I should just give up on short row neck shaping all together. Another thing I changed was make the yoke less deep. I'm quite short, so to keep the proportions and not end up with a comically deep yoke, I skipped some of the yoke rows on the chart. This was another easy change as they include quite a lot of main colour rows in the chart, before you are supposed to start the colourwork. I skipped most of these rows. Finally I changed the stitch count on the sleeves, so my sleeve would have a complete pattern repeat, instead of a miss-matched one, which the original pattern ended up with.

 Spring weather has arrived in these parts. While the pictures don't suggest it, the forest is still quite barren, but there are little signs that this is about to change soon, and the first new greens are creeping upwards. Sunny weather will soon take over. This means that this sweater won't get many outings until the colder weather returns, but when it does, I'll make sure that this one will be worn a lot. Enjoy your weekend,


Friday, 18 March 2016

Birthday plunder

 My birthday was last week.  With a stroke of luck I had a day off, which I would normally spend working on uni stuff, but not on my birthday. Instead I spend the day unwrapping presents, eating apple pie, sticking tiny parasols in all my food, listening to my cats sing me birthday songs, knitting and even did a bit of sewing in the afternoon (HA sewing...on a weekday!). Some of you surprised me with gifting me a pattern on Ravelry (♥♥♥).  As you can tell it was pretty grand!

You know a knitter has just had her birthday if the treehouse is littered with fresh new yarn in its aftermath. I though you might enjoy hearing me coo over some of my new yarn babies.

 First up, Blacker yarns. Blacker yarns is a British company which uses a lot of natural colouring and local fiber. They develop a lot of breed specific yarns, and are on the forefront of promoting these breed specific yarns. I received two different yarns: One from the blacker breeds range, which are rare breeds and limited editions. The one I have is Pure Llanwenog, which as the name suggests is a breed from Wales. One of my goals was to learn more about different sheep breeds, and knitting with them seems like a good way to start.

 The other Blacker yarn I was gifted is Westcountry Tweed. A yarn I had been eyeing for a while, as I'm always on the look out for new tweed yarns to try. The yarn is spun from a mix between Teeswater and Black Welsh Mountain wool.

This Faroese yarn is called Siri. It's an incredibly versatile yarn. These here are from their 1ply and 2ply series. The black book in the top picture is a collection of traditional Faroese stranded stitch patterns!

You probably already know Jamieson's Spindrift, but the details in the colours never stop to amaze me. These colourways are some of my favourites.

Socks Yeah is the yarn range by Rachel Coopey of CoopKnits. It's an extremely soft blend of wool and nylon, and the colours are so pretty! It is a more traditional sock yarn so I can further develop my sock knitting skills.

So, although all the pictures of Edinburgh Yarn Fest are mouthwatering, it helps having a mini-festival over here in the Treehouse!
Nice weekend to all of you!


Saturday, 27 February 2016

New equipment

The Treehouse sees a coming and going of gnomes, elves and pixies, but a recent arrival has made such an impact on life here at the Treehouse that her existence cannot not be mentioned here. Admittedly, 'recent arrival' is not that recent per se, as I wanted to make sure I knew her well enough to be able to properly toot my horn about her here. So without further ado: It's about time I introduce you to my new sewing companion and/or workhorse.

I have a brand new overlocker!

I owned an old overlocker before, which I inherited from my grandmother. However, it was quite an old and broken machine, and even though I spend many a day trying new things I never got it to work properly... or, at all, to be honest. I took me quite a while to realise and admit that it wasn't going to work and that I had to give up on it. I spend a couple of weeks reading up and researching new machines to see what was out there. I didn't plan to buy one for a while, but I wanted to have enough information for when I saved up enough for a frivolous sewing escapade.

Now I know you are thinking  "If you didn't plan to buy one WHAT is that brand new overlocker doing on your sewing table?" Good question! I had nothing to do with it's arrival and am just as baffled as you. I received her as a  Graduation/Christmas/Yay-you-survived-a-year-of-Big-Things gift from my boyfriend. He hadn't said anything about it, and I only noticed something was up when there was a huge cardboard box on the dinner table instead of the spaghetti I was expecting. I couldn't believe it when I opened the box, back in December. I couldn't wait to get to work on it, my Seda Dress was the first thing I've made with it.

It is surprisingly easy to use. You wouldn't believe what a difference an actual working machine makes! The insides are colour coded, and it comes with a very clear manual. The treading of the machine is still the most tedious part, but it is made as doable as possible. Also, one of those neat things you never realise about overlocking: an overlocker trims the edges of your fabric, but what comes off, has to go somewhere, right? HAVE NO FEAR! A strange, fabric-trims-catching net-like thing is here! Really, this thing is surprisingly useful. 

It came with white thread added, but in addition I still had my grandma's box spools of thread. Whites, blues, black, greys and the reddish brown you see in the picture. It feels great to sew with this machine. In comparison to regular sewing, this feels so very stable. I'm still learning a lot, but I feel quite confident working on it. I've worked it on different kinds of fabrics: woven as well as knits, and it makes such a difference! The finishing become a lot neater and the construction feels much more secure. I've started a new project recently (not telling you what until I've finished it!), and very happy with how speedy the process is.

 I hope everyone is enjoying their weekends. I'm so happy with this machine, now the only thing I need to really get sewing wardrobes full is someone to fix me a time-turner. Anyone?