winter lines

No posting for almost a year and then I just randomly show up without explanation? I don’t care, I have just made myself the awesomest sweater ever, I’m absolutely silly with excitement and I have to show you and tell you all about it right now!

I had the blog post (complete with photo styling) for this sweater made up in my head before I even started knitting it – more precisely, the moment I chose the colours. Back then, in the winter of 2013/14, I had begun noticing a colour pattern in my favourite winter clothes: navy and red, always and in all possible combinations. Case in point, at the time, my winter coat was bright red, and about 80% of the time I wore it with dark blue jeans. And so when the time came to choose the colours for a new sweater, there wasn’t much thinking to do. I planned to finish it quickly (early progress was promising), photograph it with the favourite coat and jeans, and not take it off all winter. But lo and behold, life happened, and the sweater didn’t get finished until a few winters later. I no longer have that red coat, but luckily my colour preferences have endured (surprise surprise, my current coat is navy :)) and this beauty will fit right into my wardrobe.

Now for the technical deets. The pattern is beautifully designed and technically well written. Don’t you love those sleeves?!

And pockets. Pockets!

I did have some issues with sizing (the sleeves and neckline were way too big for me), but once I buckled down and did some improvising they were easily solved. I do suspect, though, that this is a mod I’ll have to perform often as pattern sizes tend to be based on the bust measurement, which can be quite misleading for other proportions.

The yarn is squishy and smooth, and perfectly comfortable against bare skin. With blocking everything got ever so slightly longer, which was just how I wanted it. I am also quite impressed with the fact that the sweater does not show any wrinkles, despite the fact that it was stuffed in a small box for the better part of 2 years. I guess the credit for that also goes to the yarn.

I am absolutely certain I will be loving this sweater for many years to come!

a warm, snuggly cloud

What better way to end 2015 than with a wonderful new beginning – my very best friend has just had her second little boy, and right on time for me to be home in Croatia and say hello to him before I head back to Belgium. We are all over the moon.

Of course, as with her first one, I couldn’t let this pass me by without making something extra special for the little one, to keep him snuggled up in warmth and love. But this time around, a set of circumstances resulted in a situation where a knitted blanket was simply not possible… Luckily, I’ve acquired some new skills in the meantime, and so I still had a trick up my sleeve: sewing!

I came across the Lua Sleep Sack pattern by total chance, just as I was mulling over what on earth I could make for the new baby fast enough to be ready for him when he comes out. It was mentioned on a blog I read ocasionally, and which normally does not feature baby patterns, it was available for purchase and printing online, and later it even turned out that the pattern author was Belgian! Some things are just meant to be. I wasted no time in buying and printing it, and then I plunged right in.

I informed two of my friends who are most experienced with sewing that I would need their help when things got tricky, and they were on stand-by with their phones. It turns out that was not necessary at all! This pattern is so well written and presented (StraightGrain used 40(!) testers) that you simply cannot go wrong. The instructions are so clever that they even warn you to double-check whether you have lined everything up correctly at those exact spots where you might be tempted to rush ahead and regret it later. I would highly recommend it to anyone, regardless of their skill level. The pattern pieces themselves are fairly simple, but sewing 6 layers of fabric together at certain points can be quite tricky (think main fabric+batting+lining x 2 for front and back of the sack). However, the author guides you through all the tricky spots, and every question that may pop up in your mind is answered. I had the whole thing printed, cut, and sewn together in one weekend. And I am really, really slow at sewing.

As for the materials, I found a lovely fabric in a local craft shop, and now that I did some internet research on it, I’m thrilled to see it actually turns out to be organic cotton! It’s a Cloud9 design, called Nimbus Navy. I looooove the design and I’ll definitely be looking into this company more for my fabrics. I also used a 100% wool batting, because it was recommended by the pattern and by the shop assistant, and also, well, because I’m a knitter and I don’t actually need anyone to convince me about the merits of wool over synthetics.

In conclusion, I am super happy with how this turned out and I hope it will serve little Toni in good stead. And in addition, it really whetted my appetite for sewing too – I want to make dozens of these now! Bring on the babies, 2016!

mousie goes for a walk and sends you season’s greetings

Remember way back when I knitted this toy mouse? I realised the other day that I never did get around to photographing him properly and showing him off! A lot has changed since I finished him – most notably I moved, and am now in a building which, at least for the moment, seems to be free of his flesh-and-blood relatives. I loved my old place, but so did, unfortunately, mice. Apparently the construction of the building was such that they could come and go as they pleased, and, as my last winter there was particularly cold, come they did. In the plural. There was a number of close encounters, and things got so bad that I eventually had to call in professionals. Luckily, that was just a few weeks before I was scheduled to move out anyway, so I could put the episode behind me fairly quickly (though I do still twitch at every unidentified sound). Now, a safe distance away in my new place, I am happy to display my knitted mousie once more.

And so last weekend I took him for a walk around the new neighbourhood…

He immediately checked out the best holes to hide in…

Tried to make some friends…

And complimented the neighbours’ Christmas decorations.

Happy holidays to everyone from Mousie and me!

where’s waldo hat

Some projects are exquisitely satisfying. It doesn’t even matter if it is something as simple as a plain hat, the kind of thing that even a total beginner could produce without breaking a sweat, sometimes all these little things come together in a project that make me squeal with joy every time I think of it!

Case in point: the hat a friend of mine asked me to knit for her boyfriend a few weeks ago. When I asked what she had in mind, she said she wanted a “where’s waldo” style hat, in other words: simple, close-fitting, with a pom-pom. She came over to look at my yarn stash, chose the colours, and I was set to go.

Already the choice of colours had me pleased as punch. When we were standing in front of my collection of worsted weight yarns, we were both drawn to the exact same combination. I tried to show her other options, because I didn’t want to push my preference on her, but it was clear that she was just as in love with it as I was.

Afterwards, as I set off to knit, I had a clear image in my mind of how I wanted this hat to look. But instead of looking for a pattern, I decided to improvise based on another pattern I knew well. I thought that would work to create the result I wanted it, but I wasn’t sure. Aaaaah how satisfying when it did work out!

Finally, as I was close to finishing, I started biting my nails, wondering whether I had enough of the contrast colour left to do the ribbing and a pom-pom. I did have some similar yarn in back-up, but it just wouldn’t have been the same. Imagine my satisfaction when it turned out that the amount I had was just right for a nice ribbed band and a pom-pom of the perfect fullness! So not only did I have all I needed to complete the project, but I used up every last bit of my yarn. Perfect destashing!

And there you go, a simple project that just tickled all the right spots of my knitting brain. Utter satisfaction. :)

What tickles you when it comes to knitting? What in a project makes you grin to yourself secretly as you knit away? :)

Details on how I made the hat on Ravelry.

a different kind of knitted gift

I organised a little dinner at my place this past weekend. It was meant as an early holiday get-together before everyone disperses to their home countries for the festivities, but as several of the guests had been unavailable on my brithday, the dinner somehow turned into a belated birthday celebration as well. A very dear friend of mine showed up with a cutely packaged parcel which I received happily. (After all, gifts are always fun.) But what was inside nearly brought me to tears.

A pair of home-made slippers. Hand-knitted. Specifically for me.

They are beautiful, and comfortable, and warm, and squishy, and just PERFECT.

My friend worried about handing them over, she was afraid I would notice the mistakes she had made, she went on about how she has been knitting for a far shorter time than me… I did not hear or see any of it. They were perfect. But it was more than that. What she gave me was not just a pair of perfect slippers. She gave me the experience of feeling what it’s like to be on the other side of the act that I rejoice in so much – knitting, in secret, a special something which is made just right for a specific person, with them in mind the whole time, through the planning, the choosing, the matching, and the making.

It was a magical feeling. Thank you, Mirna, for the best gift ever.

cascading scarf

When it comes to men’s scarves, I have an exceedingly simple recipe which gives a beautiful result. The only issue is – it is exceedingly boring to knit. Three-by-three rib for hours and hours (and hours) on end, anyone? The solution – add a small and subtle design element which will barely show in the finished product (to make it man-wearable) but will make the knitting process a bit more interesting.

Enter my idea of a “cascading scarf”. Now, this has probably been done before. It’s not exactly rocket science. But I had honestly not seen it anywhere, and came up with the idea on my own: interrupt the endless ribbing with a series of staggered cables, to give a sort of waterfall effect.

Here’s how it turned out.

I have to say, it looks exactly as I had envisioned it in my head, which is exceedingly pleasing! I couldn’t be happier with it!

The wrong side doesn’t look bad either.

And the best part? When worn, no one can even guess that this is anything other than the simplest of man scarves. Mischief managed!

If you would like to replicate it, my adjusted recipe is on Ravelry.

lost in blue

A look at my recent blog posts seems to show a slight obsession with the colour blue lately… I hadn’t even realised it until I started blogging again! But it certainly cannot be denied. I think one of the reasons must be this amazing colourway of Cascade 220 Heathers, which is officially called ‘Mallard’ though I nicknamed it ‘Midnight’ for myself (the colourway number is 2448, if you’re interested).

Yes, this is the same yarn as in my post from last week. I had bought a large quantity for an adult male sweater that I was planning, but those plans didn’t work out so I decided to play around with it for other smaller projects. So far I’ve done 2 toddler sweaters in it, and you’ll be seeing more of it in the future as well (I already have a hat planned out).

Cascade 220 Heathers embodies all my favourite yarn qualities: 100% wool without being too scratchy, worsted weight which gives beautiful gauge with my favourite 4.5mm needles, not too expensive yet very durable, comes in 100g hanks meaning that 1  ball of yarn can often last you through a whole project. And the colours, oh the colours. Heathered must be my favourite new word, an ever so slightly tweedy look which gives the perfect amount of depth and interest to a solid colour without any risk of pooling. Can you tell I’m in love?

What’s your favourite yarn? :)

Pattern: Odette Hoodie by Carrie Bostick Hoge