2013 in Reflection and Looking Forward!

December 31, 2013

☆  Craft   

Favourite make of this year:
Knitting: My actual favourite knit is something I haven't blogged about yet, but out of the things that have turned up on my blog it's the hats! My Norse Hat I finished earlier this month and my There and Back Again Hat. Normally I'm much more of sweater girl than an accessory knitter. In general I wasn't to happy with most of the sweaters I knitted this year, so let's change that in 2014!

Sewing: My Reglisse Dress.

Biggest craft accomplishment:After years of only daring to sew cushion covers and skirts I finally took the plunge and made my first dress this summer. Since then I have sewed a variety of dresses and made plans for an army of handmade clothing. I learned to stop worrying and go for it.So far, it has worked our brilliantly and  and I am now (mostly) fearless and unstoppable on the sew front.

Craft ambition for 2014:
I want to make one of Lucy Hague's Shawls (She's well on her way to becoming one of my favourite designers, so far I want to make everything in her Celtic Cable Shawls collection)

Check list, make at least one of each of the following:

♥ Shetland cardigan/jumper

♥ Icelandic Cardigan/jumper
♥ Fishermen Sweater
♥ Vintage Cardigan/jumper
♥ A colourwork cardigan

I don't want to be to bothered by summer knitting this year. It doesn't really work for the country I live in anyway. It is either to hot for any knit wear or it's so cold you can wear your fall/winter/spring wear all year round. So instead of doing any summer knits I just want to focus on fall/winter (and spring) knits.

- Sew with difficult fabrics like sheer fabrics, slippery fabrics and knits
- Sew a coat
- Sew tops
-Sew a sturdy backpack to take to campus. (my current backpack is a really sad mess. I have to use sturdy fabric and carefully construct the bag as it will have to endure lots of weight from books, all weather conditions (I go to class on bike) and the dark, miserable place that is the cafeteria of the university ;)
Pattern suggestions for sewing backpacks and/or tips are most welcome!
-Sew dresses (this isn't much of a goal because I will mostly make and wear dresses anyway...but it are the things I wear most so...)
-Learn to sew button holes

Learn to spin with a navaho-spindle
Spin all my Icelandic fibre

Learn to embroider

I would like to knit and sew more projects next year than I did this year.

☆  Books   
What is the best book I read this year:
 As an avid reader and English literature student this is actually quite a hard question to answer.

♥ One Flew over  the Cuckoo's nest - Ken Kesey
♥ The Complete Maus - Art Spiegelman (Heads up: this is a graphic-novel, but even so it's one of the best pieces of literature I've read so far)
♥ Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer
 ♥ Whatever - Michel Houellebecq (I can't vouch for the English version, but the translator did an amazing job on the Dutch version "De wereld als markt en strijd")

♥ Oranges are not the Only Fruit - Jeanette Winterson  

Books I want to read next year:
My uni life already involves reading a lot of literature, even more so because next semester I choose a literature minor, so I have a lot of mandatory reading. One of the courses I choose is about early modern English women’s writing. I look very much forward to this course as it combines a lot of things I'm passionate about: Literature, history, social context and gender/feminist questions.
As not all books have to be college-related:
The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman

Best Craft books I bought/was gifted this year: 
Dutch Traditional Ganseys (Visserstruien) - Stella Ruhe
The Art of Fair isle knitting - Ann Feitelson
Stranded Knits - Ann Kingstone

Craft Books I'm looking forward to read next year: 
Shetland Textiles 800 BC to present by Sarah Laurenson. I was gifted this book for Christmas and so far I have only been able to peek at some of the pages, but it looks amazing and I cannot wait to read it! It's about a Shetland crafts, and the photographs are so very inspiring. It's published by the Shetland Museum, and it has contributions by many historians and crafters, amongs whom Kate Davies. According to the 'further reading'-list at the end of te book, The vintage Shetland Project: Heirloom handknits from the Shetland museum by Susan Crawford will be published in 2014 as well! I'm really looking forward to it.

☆ Life  

What is my biggest non-craft accomplishment this year? 
This is easy, I got an important diploma at university back in the summer. It was pretty cool, I got to shake hands with important people, was in a room full of old portraits with stern men and women in black robes (it gave me a very hogwarts-y feeling) and my fellow students and I got a lot of applause. Also I celebrated with oreo cookies afterwards. That was a good day.

Non-craft ambition for next year:

- I will start my first minor in February, I choose something literature related, again. This means I will have to read a lot, probably more than I have ever done in my life. Things were already pretty hectic this semester with all the literature courses I was taking combined with all the preparations for my linguistic courses. Next semester will probably be even more busy and hectic, with the minor I'm taking, and some courses in middle English and some syntactic courses.  What I want to do is try to balance my university work load, my personal life (hobbies and sanity) and social life better.

-Be fearless and confident in myself and my abilities.

-Write more and let people read what I write.

-Blog more often and comment on other peoples blogs (I read a lot of blogs, and comment on some of them, but this has really been a learning curve for me. I love to hear from readers myself, but for the longest time I didn't comment on other blogs myself at all simply because I was too shy and thought that whatever I would write could only be dull and bothersome to the blogger. I'm glad I'm learning to be braver and silence that stupid voice in the back of my head).

-Learn to make better photographs and improve photo's for the blog. Learn to use props in blog photos!

- Start on my epic journey: Learn Gaelic.

Scariest part of the year:At the beginning my boyfriend having a pretty intense surgery. The surgery went well, but he couldn't really walk for a month or so after and things like cycling were a no-no for another few months. It was not a great time, but it was a lot better than the months before the surgery when he was in a lot of pain (I hate waiting lists at hospitals). It would be great to not have to go though all that again next year...or frankly any other year.

Person who will be missed most: 
My grandfather. He was my last grandparent and passed away in August. I miss them.  

Best recipe I tried: Pumpkin Pasta

TV-series or film I'm most looking forward to: The new Doctor Who Series & Shetland.

Do you have a lot to look forward to in the new year? Do you have any goals?
Let me now if you blogged about it! I'm curious to read them! 
Happy New Year's Eve! Cheers to a grand new year for all of us!
 See you in 2014!

Eine Goje Roetsj!



The Rhyme of the Ancient Christmas Jumper

December 22, 2013

The Christmas jumper. I finished the jumper almost a year ago, which makes this the oldest finished project ever to make it to the blog. I had taken pictures and written a blog post about it many months ago. But my hard disc drive crashed and I lost all the photo's I had taken of the jumper (and all my other photos...yeah lets not talk about that). The result was that my jumper lay forgotten in the back of my wardrobe for many months. It would still be laying there if not for a kind reader asking about it (Thank you Sandra!). So drum it is...

 I'm not going to lie,  I've been dreading this post. But I like to be honest, and give you the whole picture. I'm not sure what to say on this jumper, the process was slow, and while knitting it I just wasn't feeling this jumper. Which was odd, because I had wanted to knit it for a long time, had spend many months looking forward to knitting it and planning the project. The pattern included stranded colourwork, which is my favourite technique and the designer, Susan Crawford, is one of my favourite designers of all time. But still, almost from the start, I didn't enjoy knitting this jumper.
I wish I could say I had other thoughts on the finished project, but alas. I'm not "feeling" the finished project either. The whole process wasn't enjoyable for me and when my hardrive crashed and I lost all my photo's I couldn't even be sad about seemed liked the perfect cynical end of the whole knitting process.

Let's go through the issues:

 First, it is way to big. I mean really way to big. It might not be super obvious from the pictures,but I should have knitted it one or two sizes smaller. I mentioned a few times to people while I was knitting it, that it looked so big, but it was my size...and I never had any issues with Crawford's patterns before so I continued knitting, ignoring the nagging doubts I had about it. It's not only the size of the jumper its also the sleeves that somehow turned out to long. As you can see above I had to fold back the sleeves to make it fit.

Then there is the fit, which is really strange. The back is all weird. The front is alright I guess. But the back just fits really weird. The neckline is awfull,  all weird and wobbly. This is a problem I could fix, but I' not sure if the other problems that this FO has going on, motivates me enough to actually do it.

Next up: Box sleeves, they really don't do anything for me... at all. It was the first time I did box head sleeves on a vintage jumper, and the process of doing it went well, I thought, and the finished sleeve caps look well enough in itself. I'm just not sure what they do on me. Again I could solve this by re-attaching them different but again I lack the motivation.

The silver lining, among all these 'ughs', is that I do love the colours together, a lot. I think that part played out wonderfully. I love the navy blue with the red colourwork. If I can't make this jumper work than I will most certainly make something else with it.

Well lesson learned, next time I will listen to that nagging feeling in my stomach and not knit further. Leave it and start something else, something I am enthusiastic about, and not something that feels like an obligation to me. I think that struggling with this jumper is the main reason why I turned away from vintage patterns for a bit (I'm not sure if you noticed?). It is a shame, but I will probably find my way back to them soon enough (did you hear of Susan Crawford´s vintage Shetland project? *gaspfangirlgasp*). There are some things I could do to solve the issues or make it a bit better. I just don't know if its worth the trouble. So I don't know if I will. Perhaps I will just frog it and make something different out of the yarn all together.

I'm actually glad it took me so long to blog about this jumper, because it made me able to look at this jumper a bit more objective. When I go back and read the blogpost I initially wrote about it I see a lot more vicious bitterness. But a couple of months later (and some more succes projects later) I mainly laugh a lot about the whole story.



A hat for a Norse winter

December 10, 2013

I love Scandinavian style knits. Over the years I've been reading a lot about the Scandinavian knitting heritage, saving a lot of inspirational pictures and filled my queue with Scandinavian knitting patterns. While I've made quite some Icelandic patterns, I was quite surprised to find that I hadn't knit any Norse patterns, seeing I've loved them ever since I started knitting and I'm a fair isle fanatic.

I'm sure that you've propably heard about the famous Norse knitting company Dale of Norway. Aside from making rad ready to wear sweaters and being the brain behind the Norwegian olympic ski sweater they also produce great yarn. Sandes garn is another of those Norwegian companies that make my knitting hearth beat faster. Sadly they don't sell their patterns outside of Norway and I've never seen their yarn in any of the LYS I frequent either. I'll keep working on my master plan, however, on how to get my hands on one of these patterns.

In the meantime I've made a hat!

This is a pattern of firsts. My first Scandinavian-style pattern that is not Icelandic! And the first time for me knitting with Lima and the first time knitting something in black (I know!! How did I knit all this time?) Anyway I realised it was my first time knitting with black when I noticed it really is a lot harder to see, especially when it's dark. Given that we have about half a day normal day light these days it wasn't always easy, squinting at the strands of yarn in front of the bedroom window.
I really like the outcome though! Black and white is obviously not my most creative colour choice ever, but I like the classic look of it and think it works well in this traditional colourwork pattern.

 Pattern: Nordic Nights 
Designer: Garnstudio
Yarn: Drop Lima
Soundtrack:  Julie Fowlis -Oganaich Uir a Rinn M'Fhagail
Raveled here
It's the first time I'm using drops lima and its super soft, which is not that odd, given that it's wool mixed with alpaca.

I had tons of fun making this hat! After working on my father's sweater for a few weeks it was really nice to work on something just for me again. I had really missed doing colourwork, so I when I casted on I couldn't really stop!




November 30, 2013

December is getting nearer, which means preparing for Christmas and New Year. Picking out presents, setting up decorations, preparing (or crafting) outfits... But before the Christmas outfits, there's still one more backlog-outfit I have to share, a dress I've made from a Deer and Doe pattern.

Fabric: cotton
Bought: At a local market
Soundtrack for this project: Silly Wizzards - Wha'll be king but Cherlie

I was not so sure about this pattern, initially. While I do like the vintage feeling of the dress, I wasn't sure if I would get much wear out of a dress that emphasises an area that I not want to empathize. Fast forward a couple of weeks and it has become my favourite handmade dress! The shape of the dress, the flared skirt and the cap sleeves work really well with my style. Just goes to show that you sometimes you really need to try something, to know if it will work or not. It sometimes greatly surprises you.

Normally I'm not much of a pink girl. Not on principle, I just think it doesn't really work on me. However when I saw this chequered fabric I was in love! I think the pink works really well with the white and navy (which totally is my colour!). The pink is nicely balanced with the dark blue bow and shoulder caps, which calms down the chequered print. I found the blue fabric when I went stash diving, I think it is still a remnant from some of my mums fabric stash that she gave to me.

Don't worry though, I'm now sewing with some more sensible fabric for this time of the year (and knitting up a storm of course). I still wear some of my summer dresses, with tons of layers mind you, its not always ideal.

I had an insane week at uni, with presentations and essay deadlines. Things should improve in the next two weeks or so, so I hope to be able to pop in here more often. In other news I finished the knitting on my dad's sweater! It's now at my parents so my mum can sew it together, this was my only requirement when I offered her to knit the sweater ;) It will show up on the blog, once I receive the photo's.



Grandma's box

November 13, 2013

Hey there,

It's been a while hasn't it? I'm sorry, but my exam weeks and the lessons that followed straight after have gotten me out of my blog rhythm. Lessons have started with a vengeance and the past week I've tried to keep myself from drowning in assignments, presentations and writing papers...I'm not sure if it's actually working. Also my university apparently decided  to abolish all breaks/holidays this year. In other words, life at the Treehouse is pretty busy right now. But lets distract us from all of that with a new blogpost!

Recently I received this wooden box full of little sewing trinkets. Originally it belonged to my grandmother, when my parent brought me her overlocker they also gave me this little box, hoping I might put it to better use than it would be otherwise. The box is stuffed with sewing thread, elastic, zippers and buttons. Along with this wooden box came also a bigger cardboard box with more of the same content. Judging by the wrapping some are really old, especially some of the buttons I found.

On the inside of the box, in the corner of the lid, a date is inscribed; Dec 1954, and underneath my grandmother's name and initials. Which means my grandmother received this box almost 60 years ago, at the age of 28. I even recognize her handwriting. This means that the box has been my grandmother's sewing companion for 58 years. Judging by how battered the box looks, it has seen lots of use over the years. It makes the box very special.

While I was browsing through my grandmothers things I found this little notebook. It's full of notes she used for the things she sewed, very recognisable! I have my own notebooks full of knitting and sewing notes that none but myself will understand the slightest. While I was going through the notebooks I stumbled upon my own name! She was making a pair of trousers for me. Judging by the measurements I was quite young at the time, which is logical as most of the things I remember she made for, were done when I was at the age of 1-10 years old. Reading it made me all warm and fuzzy inside.

As you may have gathered by now I really do love these kind of special heirlooms. This together with the inscribed date in the box made this a special gift. Have you a special heirloom like this? Or a fond memory of crafting grandparents?



Colour Craving Shawl Revealed

October 31, 2013

Finally, the Stephen West Mystery Shawl revealed! I actually finished it a while ago, only slightly behind schedule of the KAL. I'm glad I participated in this Mystery Knit Along. In all honestly, I would never have bought the pattern as it is. The original shape, the huge holes and the bold colour Stephen choose for his shawl are probably not features I would have fallen for, had I seen it on ravelry. Which actually is what makes the mystery KAL so awesome: knitting a surprise pattern yield results that you never expected but still enjoy greatly.

I've allready worn it quite a lot. It's warm, light, and simply huge. I can wrap it around myself completely. The colours are bright and colourfull, which is very welcome now the days get shorter and more grey.

I loved working with this yarn. I had used Holst Garn before but only the 100% Uld (wool) range and was really pleased with that yarn, but that doesn't always give guarantees for other yarns of the same brand. Turns out I had no need to worry. The Samarkand range is high quality yarn, super soft, being made out of  75% wool and 25% silk. The silk which is used is the "crunchy" silk variety, which I personally like better than the shiny variety. I think the colour range for Samarkand is pretty good, there are less colour choices than for their other yarns but they slowly add more. All in all I would definitely use this yarn again! And it made me even more eager to try out Holst other yarns, oh, dear!


A Sweater for Dad

October 22, 2013

In between working on my own projects I've also been quietly knitting on another project: a sweater for my father.

Originally this was not my project. My mother started it when she just got back into knitting, encouraged by my enthusiasm, no doubt. Starting a full sized man's sweater as a first project might not be the best idea ever. The project sat in her knitting basket next to the couch for a year or two, without much progress being made. So, when I stayed at my parents for a few nights, I sometimes used to knit on it a bit, and eventually I just offered to take the project with me and finish it for her. This way, at least it wouldn't be staring at her from the basket any more. Still, it wasn't priority knitting for me either, as I still had my own knitwork to knit on.

Primarily I'm a 'selfish knitter', as I mostly knit for myself.  I enjoy knitting without the pressure of having a deadline or expectations of others. Still, knitting for certain select deserving individuals  others can be fun, if you knit for people who appreciate the time and effort that goes into a knitted jumper. My BF wears the cardigan I knitted him so often, it's allready starting to show. I'd almost consider making him a new one, but only after I've finished my dad's jumper and satisfied my own inner selfish knitwear beast with some new knits of course!Do you guys often make things for others? Or not at all? Or like me the occasional hat and jumper for the deserving kind.

By now, the back panel is done and the front of the sweater is super close to being done. (The photo's aren't 100% up-to-date). The yarn I'm using is Silky Tweed, which is a discontinued yarn by Rowan. It's super soft, with 20% silk and 80% lambswool. I enjoy knitting with this yarn, even if it's a bit splitty when I don't pay enough attention to what my hands are doing. I´m really stoked that I'm actually knitting something textured again!

At the moment , craft-wise, things are at a slow pace at the treehouse, as it's exam time. Again! This week and the next will be spend cramming study books, typing essays and slaving away on exams at uni. This leaves very little time for anything else, which is also the reason why I still haven't been able to blog about the Stephen West shawl, even though it's been finished since the beginning of this month. It's so strange how fast time goes when I'm wrapped in uni things. Before you know it we'll be well into December already!

Well I'm off, back into the books again!


Overlock: time to sew some tricot!

October 17, 2013

Look what has arrived at the Treehouse! A new toy to play with! I'm now the proud owner of a overlocker, can you believe it??? Hide all the tricot fabric for none is safe from me anymore!

This overlocker is a second hand machine, the original owner was my grandmother who passed away little over a year ago. She was a keen craftster, she knitted an insane amount of jumpers for me and my brother when we were kids. She sewed and knitted a lot of her own clothing, until she got to ill to do either craft. She did like seeing me knit, next to her in the hospital, or talking to me about sewing. When we talked about crafts she got that proud look of understanding in her eyes, as if we belonged to the same secret society, the group of people who Make Things.

The machine itself is probably, just like my grandmother, quite old. I tried to look the model up online, but so far nothing has turned up. It doesn't matter much anyway, the machine is in perfect working condition and that's what matters most. With the machine came a huge box of thread, also from my grandmother. I only have to get my hands on some nice tricot fabric and I'm all set up to give it a go... I can't wait!



Going Mobile

October 11, 2013

We are well into autumn over here, and it's a bit colder than normally around this time of year. This means the days are mostly gray, rainy, slippery and chilly. This also means we can bust out the knitwear again so I definitely can't complain. The only downside is that I have to get used to take photo's inside for some of my finished makes. I don't know about you but I find taking photo's inside a lot more difficult than outside. Taking photo's outside definitely has my preference, but for some pieces it's just not possible, because not all clothes are made to be worn outside in the rain at a temperature below ten degrees Celsius. I have to admit that taking photo's in October of a cotton dress you finished sewing in August isn't my best idea ever either, but still.  My hat goes of to those bloggers who manage to take pretty in doors pictures all the time. If you have some advice how to take pretty pictures during the cold month, let me know.

Pattern: Sureau by deer and doe
Fabric: lightweight cotton 
Bought at: Local market 
Soundtrack: Queen - Bicycle Race & The Who - Going Mobile 

I love this dress! It really suits my style and I'm so happy I caved in and bought the pattern back in the summer.  Dresses like these are essential to my wardrobe. I've already been dreaming up different versions of this dress, a pretty 'sixties'-variety with lace and buttons is high on my to-do-list. I want to experiment with a tricot version as well. I'll let you know how it goes!

I know Deer and Doe has recently been featured on some more blogs and they are definitely becoming one of the more popular indie sewing brands out there. Most of the time I try not to be to to influenced by the buzz around some new brand, but at one point when I found myself lost in the blogosphere I stumbled upon their website and decided to try out one of their patterns.
The quality of their patterns in right up there with the best. I love their patterns, and style. Their pattern sizes work really well for me. The patterns are delivered in a sturdy envelope, which comes in handy when storing the patterns. The patterns are printed on sturdy paper as well, which I really appreciate, it makes the pattern more tear-resistent and I also find that it helps when tracing the pattern.

While all these reasons are already quite satisfactory I also like the fact that it's a European company. Now of course we have some great brands in Europe, like Burda and By Hand London, but most big brands are situated elsewhere. Even thought I happily but patterns from them as well it's nice to have one in Europe as well. Apart from the whole, support the indie business and the fact that I hope we'll get more of them in Europe, the fact that things as yardage and meaurements are already there in the metric system, so no having to recalculate, is a plus as well. Also the fact that when you order something from them it's just there in a couple of days, instead of weeks is a nice change as well. I'm not sure if this is actually a European thing, but they also use techniques I'm more familiar with as opposed to for example Colette. Now this can be a personal preference thing of the company of course, and you do learn stuff from unfamiliar techniques,  and I'm way to inexperienced as a garment seamstress to really say a lot about this but I do wonder about it. 

 Ah who would have though it, suddenly I'm being enthusiastic about my own geographical situation ;) Anyway all this has resulted in the fact that I already have sewed up three of their patterns...and I'm not even done yet...I want to make them aaaaaalllll...and like multiple versions. *insert manic laughter.*

Now I made my dress with a cotton fabric I found at my market place for a ridiculously cheap price. The bicycle & scooter print alone is irresistible. I bought it initially for my first version of Sureau. The plan was to just make one without making a muslin first, if I screwed up...well not much lost, right? The idea was that it'd become something of a 'wearable muslin'. Well guess what, it turned out great! The fit is absolutely perfect. Also it's a thing I have that I like sideways zippers a tiny bit more than a zipper on the back of a dress. I know...weird.

About the soundtrack for the project, I got slightly tempted to list all the vehicle related songs I know. Which are, not to brag, quite a lot. However, the post would be even longer then. Ultimately I only listed these two songs because these were in my head while sewing the dress. Lately I've been going through a major Queen phase. Usually I'm not into such bombastic music, I'm more of a folk girl.My brother used to be a huge Queen fan, and when we were kids we used to make these "radio programs", which basically featured us talking about a hodgepodge of quite unrelated things as kids do,  in-between Queen songs and recording all of these wonderful ramblings on compact cassettes. I think my parents still have these childhood treasures. Anyway this resulted in me knowing all their songs by heart before I was well in my teens.  So once in a while I get hit by the bug an listen almost solely to Queen songs for a couple if days. Anyway, the show must go on!

This dress is especially great for knitting...and bike rides of course! 
I really didn't know I had so much to say about this dress. In other news, I finished my Westknits shawl! Binding off a zillion stitches was fun...ahum. You can expect it later on the blog. Now if you excuse me I'm going to stash dive and find a new project to work on.
Have a great weekend!

Knit Alongs

Colour Craving: The work in progress

October 06, 2013

As you can see I didn't manage to blog again in the weekend, and university this week was so utterly rubbish that I only now found some breathing space to blog again. Thank God for the weekend! Let's hope next week will be better. Now, on with the really important stuff...

The Mystery Shawl. I intended to write about this shawl before, but due to essays and presentations, my time really has not been mine. Anyhow, the shawl is huge! I couldn't believe my eyes when I finished clue 1; with still three clues to go the thing was already a lot bigger than I had expected. This made it quite difficult to photograph. On these pictures I have four 80 cm needles in the shawl and I still can't fully stretch it. The space to fully photograph it was a bit difficult to find as well. Lace shawl knitters, you have my sympathy (and awe!).

In the photo's I'm still working on clue 3, I was able to finish it yesterday and today I hope to make a headstart with clue 4, before uni insanity begins again. I have used all three colours already and am pleased with how it looks, it resonates more of a spring like feeling than autumn, but oh well. The shawl needs to be properly blocked, with the holes and everything, I think this will make quite a difference (Good heavens, it will grow even more! )

I found clue 1 took me a lot longer than clue 2 and 3, while I was much busier during this time.

Errr..... Hello again!

So, a few weeks have past, and I have good news and bad news. As this is not social media, I have no way of asking you which one you'd like to hear first, so I'm going to start with the bad: Clue 4 has arrived, and I'm nowhere near completing Clue 1.  The good news, though? I'm still knitting!

It's not the easiest project to start knitting with, or so I tell myself. There's this part in every two rows that includes yarn-overs and then knitting one purl & one stitch in every yarn-over the next row. Especially in the beginning this got extremely confusing, as I slipped stitches or lost count. The rows grew exponentially. Now, a little further on, it starts getting easier. The work as a whole is more 'sturdy' and the increase relative to the lenght of the rows very small.

The thing is, I notice how this made a huge difference in the way and why of knitting between Nisse and myself. Not just in respect to speed and quality: Nisse knits to relax, but for me knitting almost is like a sport: knitting a few rows requires concentration, focus and effort. When I come back from work after a long day, the last thing I want is something that requires effort. So, mostly I've knitted in the weekends, and at those times, I did actually enjoy it.

I'm happy with the colours I picked, even though I've just only used two of the three, and I'm slightly worried wether the third one contrasts enough. (The second colour is orange, and the third one is yellow.)

At any rate, it seems it's going to take a while to finish this project, far more then the projected number of weeks of the KAL, but this was expected. It reminds my, in a way, of when I as a little kid read the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the first time: the first time took me months, close to or over half a year even, but afterwards I immedeatly started reading it anew, and finished it in a month. I've been an addicted LOTR-fan ever since. I wonder if the same goes for knitting?

So yeah...he's still knitting and still enjoys doing it. I think for a non-knitter there is no shame in not having finished clue 1. I'm quite proud that he actually persists and wants to finish it, even though it will take him longer than the four weeks given for the mystery KAL. It does make me think about back when I was still a beginner, and the difficulties I had when I made my first wobbly scarf back in the winter of 2006. Gosh...we've come a long way since then.

I'm quite enjoining myself with this KAL. Normally with KAL I become quite bored with the project before we even started. There is just something with the whole...time perspective and "have to" feeling that I apparently rebel under. I need the freedom of doing whatever I want whenever I want to do it. Therefore I normally refrain from KAL, both for my and my fellow KAL-ers sake. There is just no fun in ploughing though for weeks on a project while you actually have no joy doing it. What can I say some people thrive under KAL, but I am not one of those people. With this KAL it was different. I think the mystery of it all did that. Working each clue and having to knit it all up to reveal which direction it will go.

If all goes well I will be able to finish the shawl this week, with a little luck before the weekend so I can go back to my beloved sweater knitting. If anything this knit along made me insanely inspired to start new projects. I'm extremely stern for myself and I need to finish at least one project before I start the next. But I'm itching to finish this one to start the next. 


Finished Knits


September 27, 2013

Once upon a time, while I was a merry essay writer (I am apparently always a merry essay writer, cause guess what I'm working on this week) I started this gray cardigan. It was my easy project, you know the type: that one project that you have laying around, doesn't require much thinking and is your go-to projects when your attention is needed elsewhere but you still want to knit, queue in the essays, exams or when socializing with friends.I finished this cardigan ages ago...AGES! I'm still working my way through my backlog of finished projects. I guess it's a better problem to have, than having no stuff to blog about at all.

Pattern: Netherton (from Pom Pom Quarterly nr 1) 
Designer: Lydia Gluck
Soundtrack for this project: The Smiths - Panic

Fist things first: sizing. This cardigan runs a little large. After I made this I read this on other project notes on Ravelry as well. If I were to make it again I'd make it in a smaller size. Honestly, though, I won't make it again. It's not that I dislike this cardigan, not at all. But it's not really a stunner either.
In the pictures I wear it with a button. I plan on replacing the button with a sweaterclip or shawlclip. I've scoured Etsy and found a few gems, but if you have some nice ideas as to clips and where to get them, please share!

The yarn I've used is Drops ♥'s you #3. That's one of Drops' special yarns, it's made of 50% wool and 50% Alpaca. The most distinct feature of this yarn is that it's thick and thin spun, though the range is not super big so its not a super dramatic effect. It creates a homespun look, which is nice and friendly, even though I'm usually not really novelty-yarn gal.

I didn't make any earth-shattering changes to the pattern. I omitted the rooftop pattern on the sleeves to make it an even faster project. I noticed I did not feel like putting much effort in a simple project, which is why I usually have a side project with either lace or colourwork to keep me stimulated. Another reason why I didn't bother with the rooftop patterning on the sleeves was because I think the yarn made it interesting enough and rooftops there would perhaps be lost amongst the thick-and-thin.

As I finished this cardigan and took photos of it quite a while ago, these photos still have that summer feeling. They will probably the last as we're now well into autumn weather over here.  
My next post will be about the Westknit KAL progress. I try to get that posted somewhere in the weekend, but since I have a long presentation and an essay due next week it could be a little later. In the meantime, the clues keep coming in so I'm racing to keep up. (And having fun with it!)

Best wishes,

Xx Nisse


Dutch Traditional Ganseys

September 23, 2013

Long time followers of this blog will know that I live in the Netherlands (not to be confused with Holland!). The Netherlands is a nation with quite a bit of craft tradition, most people from the older generations grew up with crafting being an important skill and it was taught at schools (and some schools still teach it). Some of you might recall some chapters of Debbie Stollers famous Stitch in Bitch books in which she describes this culture of her Dutch ancestors. Me, being very interested in all history related things to the craft, was always a bit bummed that there was no book or something published in the Netherlands that had to do with this craft. Not anymore though!

Those of you who follow me on twitter, might remember a series of gush tweets back in August when I found out about the publication of this book. I was really anxious to find out whether this book could meet the standards of the likes of Gladys Thompson and Mary Wright, who wrote great works on British heritage knitting. Last week the book fell on my doormat, I was quite surprised as when I pre-ordered it the publication date was set at late September.  Well let me tell you, it was worth the wait (and the gushing!)

The book:
First the numbers: The book is about knitted guernseys/ganseys, or as most people know them: Fishermen sweaters, from the Netherlands. The 176 pages of this book include 60 sweater patterns from 40 Dutch villages. Originally the book was supposed to be slightly smaller (as demonstrated by the covers above), but mere weeks before publication they found out about and added some extra patterns.

The book is published in both Dutch and English. In Dutch it is called Vissertruien and in English Dutch Traditional Ganseys. Both books have the exact same patterns so nobody has to feel like they miss out on something. The book is packed, PACKED, with old photo's of Dutch fishermen and their families (and sweaters!) and most of the patterns in the book have been reknitted and were photographed on a model as well (the few that aren't have show the old photo's and knitted swatches). This is a huge advantages this book has on the books of the previous named authors as they don't have these updated photographs. Before I was a bit afraid that the newly taken pictures would either dominate the book and the old photos which make this books so special would be left out, or that none of the patterns would have been knitted by contemporary knitters pre-publication at all. Luckily neither of those happened and it's basically the best of both worlds!

The book is divided into five parts, the first part discusses how the book came about and  the history of  Dutch coastal towns, Dutch fishermen ├índ their Ganseys. I was immensely looking forward to this bit and it does not disappoint! It is quite a bit bigger then I expected (YAY!) covers lots of historic details. Part 2 is called "knitting". It still covers some history, like what materials were used in the time etcetera, but also provides information as to what materials we can use nowadays, techniques used, how to go about with the pattterns and basic sweater patterns.   

The next 3 parts are the actual patterns. They are divided into the different Dutch coastal areas: De Noordzee kust or North Sea Coast, de Zuiderzee-coast now IJselmeer. (uh...due to poldering the Zuiderzee is no longer a sea but a lake) and de Waddenkust or Frisian Islands coast. Each coastal area is again divided, this time into the different villages each guernsey comes from. Each pattern comes with a chart, a detailed description, yarn recommendations (though you can use other yarns as described in the knitting chapter). Furthermore there are drawings and swatches included of each guernsey. Most guernseys are reknitted and include both an old and a contemporary photo. The pattern chapters contain a lot of information as well, about each village the guernsey comes from and about the guernsey and its distinct features. As it turns out, knitting traditions varied greatly from village to village and guernseys are a quite reliable way of identifying the home of fishermen on photographs from that time.

 The guernseys use different kinds of yarn and there is a chapter devoted to encourage the knitter to try out new yarns and different yarn weights for the same guernsey. The book tries to stay as close to the type of yarn knitters used back then. Unfortunately the yarn that was used commonly back then isn't available any more. One company that made it however is still in business; Sheepjeswol. Sheepjewol is the only company in the Netherlands that still makes yarn, all the other companies unfortunately had to stop their business. Now this company has worked together with the author of this book and they (re)created a yarnline especially for guernseys! The yarn is 100% wool and is called Zuiderzee (Southern Sea) and comes in three colours, two blue and one natural. Apart from this yarn the book also uses a lot of other yarn brands that have the same properties as the yarns that were accessible to fisherwives back then, like special guernsey wool from the British Isles and lopi wool from Iceland. Fishers who went out to sea brought these yarns back for their wives from the places they went fishing. 

All in all this book is very much worth buying, especially if you're interested in guernseys or knitting traditions. The patterns are of high quality and it is packed with information, much more than I anticipated when I first heard about it in August. I can finally say that the Netherlands has an excellent book on a Dutch knitting tradition. Do not be surprised if you see a guernsey in progress float by on the blog in the near future. 

Ps. Stella Ruhe, the book's author, will give a lecture on Dutch guernseys this sunday (29th of september) in one Amsterdam LYS, de Afstap. More information on .

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