Beren and the Olympic hero

February 23, 2014

The Olympics are almost done, most medals have been awarded, records have been broken, tears and joy has been shared and tomorrow it will all be over. Now it's time to see how I did with my own "Olympic goals". I actually met the deadline and finished my project in time! To be honest I never thought that I would finish this cardigan within the deadline, so that's been quite a surprise. Nevertheless, I've been high-fiving people ever since!

Pattern: Riddari 
Book:  Knitting with Icelandic Wool
Designer: Védís Jónsdóttir 
Yarn: Istex Lett Lopi
Soundtrack: Curling commentary by Sir David Attenborough
Raveled here  

The cardigan is a Riddari, by Védís Jónsdóttir. It's part of Knitting with Icelandic Wool, a book with a lot of Icelandic patterns, most of them by Védís. I used Lett Lopi again, and I can not cease to repeat how much I love that yarn. I recently finally found a brick & mortar store that carries the yarn, but around here it's quite easy to find online as well.

  As the Olympics of the classic period were all about heroism, I've (nick)named the cardigan Beren. The colours just reminded me of Tolkien's Middle Earth, so I named after one of the many stories from Tolkien's Silmarilion. Beren is the first man to ever marry an Elf. In order to marry Luthien, Beren is charged with capturing a Silmarillion, a jewel originally forged by Fëanor the Noldor but now stolen and placed on the crown of the Dark Lord himself. With the help of Luthien and several other great characters, he succeeds. I took this painting of Luthien by Alan Lee as a colour guide. Unfortunately I didn't have any purple in my stash, and because I was working with a tight deadline no time to order more. So I swapped that colour for blue. 

I hope that all of you Olympic fans also feel like the games were a success for you or the team you support. For me, the Olympics have been great. Not because the Dutch team won so many medals, but rather because I've discovered some new sports which I never expected I would like as much as I do now. Curling, Ice Hockey, Figure Skating, Shorttrack, skeleton and Slopestyle Snowboarding come to mind as sports that I did not really know before this month. And, obviously, because these games also gave me a new Icelandic cardigan to wear; now, that's a medal all by itself!



Tea jenny

February 17, 2014

 Last week I posted a picture of special yarn that had arrived at the Treehouse just a couple of days before. My hands were itching to knit with this gorgeous yarn. I started this hat and two days later I, during the opening of the Olympic Games, I was binding off this special project.
Pattern: Tea Jenny
Desinger: Kate Davies
Yarn : Foula wool
Soundtrack: Belle & Sebastian — For the Price of a Cup of Tea

About the yarn, like some of you guessed it was indeed a picture of Shetland wool. But it isn't "just" Shetland wool, it's Foula wool! Foula is Shetland's most remote island. It is a teeny-tiny Island, with under 40 people living there. Post only arrives here once every few weeks and many of the inhabitants don't even have electricity in their homes. Their main source of income is crofting, at least up till now...perhaps it will change in the future, since the island's inhabitants have started a new venture recently. Instead of  keeping sheep and selling them for the meat, Foula is now a wool-producing island. They decided to send some wool samples to a spinning mill to see whether they could venture into the wonderful world of yarn. When the spun yarn came back from the mill the results were even better than they dared hoping! They knew from the start that they wanted to make yarn for knitters, because "These were the people who would be able to appreciate all the care and effort that goes into creating something." Why yes. We do indeed!

Foula's remote and rugged landscape contribute to the character and quality of the wool. Throughout the years foula's sheep have stayed the same and were not subject to cross-breeding. So Foula's sheep are still much like the first Shetland sheep on the island. Foula wool is one of the last  yarn producers that completely shears all the wool by hand. You can see the process in this video that Foula wool put on youtube, and wovember wrote an article about it.

If you want to know more about Foula yarn, Kate Davies wrote an excellent article about it and you can of course visit the Foula wool website and see what they have to say.

Now, about the project itself. This hat combines some of my favourites; my favourite designer, favourite yarn, favourite colours (I'm going trough a major sheep/natural colour phase) and my favourite drink of all time: tea. Ever since its first appearance on Kate's blog I knew it was inevitable that one day I would make this pattern. I made this into a more fitted beanie, not because I didn't like Kate's slouchy version, but because I recently made quite a few slouchy hats and thought it was time for something more fitted. I achieved this by going down a few needle sizes.

There are many, many ways to categorize people and one of them is whether you are a coffee or a tea kind of person. I'm not ashamed to say that I've got my feet firmly planted on the tea side. I've been drinking unhealthy amounts of tea (is there even such a thing?) ever since I was a wee girl, and I can get very cranky if I miss my morning tea. My boyfriend on the other hand is very much a coffee kind of person. He didn't even drink tea when I first met him...*gaspdramagasp* It's an obstacle we've since then overcome ;) Now I have a hat with jolly tea pot on nobody can doubt my love of tea leaves any more!

Anyway, this was a fun project to work on, and it just flew of my needles.I loved the natural, rugged foula wool. I love and support these small, independent companies who do things their own way  in their own time. Now I will now continue my epic quest to find, and try out wool from every small and remote place I can find. My next obsession is the Faroe Islands...and yes they do make yarn!



Ravellenics 2014

February 10, 2014

Slopestyle snowboarder jumping over the giant Matrushka doll on the slope in Sochi

At the last moment I decided to join in with the Ravellenics! For a while I wasn't sure whether I was join the Ravellenics this year, because I'm quite busy with school (especially compared to last Ravellenics, which were during the summer holidays), and because the whole event is slightly disorganised on ravelry at the moment. More or less on a whim though, I've decided to join the Ravellenics games.

At first I was tempted to make something with a rainbow, just to make a statement. Behind the stage of this edition of the Olympics a lot of nastiness has happened, and the LGBT-community is one of the main victims of Putin's regime. In the end though, I didn't want to waste yarn on something that I wasn't going to wear. I am very proud of those athletes, like Cheryl Maas for example, who use their time in the spotlight to make a statement for LGBT and humanrights.

Colourwork options!

As per tradition (a tradition of one run so far, but traditions have to start somewhere) I decided to go with a Icelandic project. I'm going to make the Riddari sweater, though it is a men's sweater. I will be making it for myself, and will turn it into a cardigan using a steek. The yarn I'm using is Istex lett-lopi, which I already had in my stash.

I didn't start my project during the opening ceremony, but the day after. I'm not sure whether I'll be able to finish this project in just two weeks with all the other obligations I have during these two weeks. But then again, just as the athletes challenge themselves during the Olympic games, we knitters want to challenge ourselves as well during the Ravellenics. It's not supposed to be easy and I'm excited to see where I will end with this project during this challenge.

I hope you've enjoyed the Olympic Games so far. Here In the Netherlands we generally go bananas over long track skating and since we've been doing particularly good so far, the whole country is going extra nuts. For me personally long track skating is kind of losing some of its charm. It's just not very thrilling if the same person or team wins all the time and I'm not particularity fond of the nationalist feelings and ego that come with winning every event. When one country wins everything, other countries slowly lose interest, which is dangerous for the continued existence of the sport in the long run. I do really enjoy watching some of the snowsports like snowbord, cross-country and biathlon, as well as shorttrack , figureskating and luge (I'm particularly fascinated by the fact that they wear gloves...with spikes!)

Shani Davies, one of the succesful American speedskater. Rooting for him to win his third
consecutive gold medal on the 1000m, which would be a record.

Do you watch the Olympics? Which sports do you enjoy? Did anyone else spotted the team Finland's snowboard coach, knitting at the Sochi? Do you "compete" with the Ravellenics? (If so I want project links!). Wish me luck with making the deadline!



Bird Island

February 07, 2014

The last couple of days, I've been battling a cold and started a new semester at uni. Between these time and energy consuming activities, a small package of yarn has arrived. It comes from one of the smallest yarn-producing islands I've heard of, can you guess which?


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