dark rose

Have you noticed yet that I tend to make hats in threes? I don’t plan it, but it just seems to happen somehow! Among my total of 29 projects, there are three hat patterns that I have knit three times each: Cabled Beret, Pajunkissa and Rose Red. I think it’s mostly a combination of wanting to knit the pattern again if I really enjoyed the process of knitting and people asking if I’d make them the same hat that they’ve seen among my finished projects. I personally also like seeing how different the same pattern can look if it’s done in a different yarn. For example, I’ve made the Cabled Beret in a thin fingering yarn and in a bulky handspun one – they look like completely different hats!

Today I’d like to show you my second version of Rose Red. The first one, which I showed you yesterday, was knit in Alpaca yarn, this one in a wool blend of relatively similar weight. Actually, when I picked up this yarn, I had planned to make something completely different out of it, but it seemed to have a will of its own – it chose both its pattern and its recepient… That’s never happened to me before so spontaneously, but I enjoyed it – it just felt right (and it still does).

If you want to knit the same hat several times, this pattern is perfect – almost no two rounds are the same, so you never get bored! It means you have to pay a bit more attention, but once you start understanding how the pattern works, it begins to come naturally.

Another great thing about it is that it includes both written and charted directions, so you can use whichever method you prefer. Not only that, but you can also use it as a learning tool for following charts. Before I knit this hat, I dreaded charts. But having both written and charted directions encouraged me to try working off the chart – I knew that, if something went wrong or something wasn’t clear, I could always refer back to the written instructions.

Also, I love that this hat can be worn in two different styles. As a beret:

And as a cloche:

Despite my dangerous expression in this photo (don’t ask me why, I have no idea!), I prefer to wear it this way.

By the way, this was my last photoshoot where someone else was taking the photos… It’s so much more fun! But it does really require that the person likes you enough to not go mad with your constant “Oh and take one like this… And now like this… Oh and try from this angle… Now can we try a few over there…”

That day we shot the batch of hats I made during the summer… I was a on a knitting craze! All these were made in less than a month!

Only one stayed with me, though… All the rest were given away! Actually, I started thinking the other day and realized it’s been a while since I’ve made something for myself… We’ll have to change that soon! ;)

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birthday girl

Much of today is going to be spent finally finishing up probably my biggest project ever – a pullover for my niece. She is seen here modelling one of the few hats I actually made for myself (and probably my favorite hat so far – I wear it all the time). For more details on the project, please visit the Ravelry page – and here, if you don’t mind, I’d rather tell you a bit more about Ivona.

This little girl was born in 1998, when I was still in high school, and it made me feel so special to have become someone’s aunt. I wasn’t allowed to see her immediately when she was born because I had chickenpox (my mom and I caught it from my 10-years-younger sister that spring, so my poor dad was stuck taking care of all three of us and baking sweets for Easter all on his own), but I still remember the first time I held her in my arms. She was so small and lovely.

I was always harassing my sister-in-law with requests to babysit her… I talked to her incessantly when she was a baby. When she was 6, I taught her to say “burp” in English – she thought it was the funniest word ever. I was there when she was learning to ride her bicycle. When she was 9, she shocked me one day when we were leafing through some children’s encyclopaedia – she explained to me, without looking at the page, the whole human digestive system, exactly as it was presented in the book. That year for her birthday I gave her a subscription to National Geographic Junior. She loved it, but I never realized how much until next year, when I asked her if there was some specific present she wanted that year – she shyly asked me if I could just extend the subscription. It made me choke up, and of course the magazine has been arriving in her mailbox without interruption ever since.

I love this little girl so much, I love that I am her aunt, I love that I’ve been witness to her whole life, from the very beginning, I love that she calls me by my name rather than “aunty”, and I love recognizing the little details by which we are similar.

She is sincerely appreciative of every gift she receives. She’s not the kind of kid who only wants products related to some cartoon series or expensive toys. She actually reads the books I give her and she notices the thoughtfulness that goes into gifts. And when you find someone like that, you just want to keep giving to them, and keep coming up with very special things. Well, I’m happy with my plan this year, and though it will reach her a bit late, I have woved to have it postmarked on the day of her birthday. So I have some work to do!

Miss you, little one.

warmth

Speaking of warmth, here’s a little project aimed at keeping feet warm when you don’t have a cover of wool on your floor… :)

When I was a kid, my grandma would knit us all woolen socks-slash-slippers that we loved wearing around the house. I come from a culture where you’re told from an early age that walking barefoot around the house will give you all sorts of diseases… So having something comfy and warm on your feet is a must. Of course, kids hate it and the sentence they hear most often is “Where are your slippers?” Now if you have socks-slash-slippers, that means they can stay on your feet allllll the time, you can put them up on the couch and everything. You never get yelled at for forgetting to put them on. And, most importantly, your feet are super warm and cozy all the time.

I haven’t yet gotten round to trying to replicate my grandma’s work, but when I saw this lovely simple project by Ysolda, I had to give it a try.

It’s a simple garter-stitch structure on two needles which is later sewn up to form the slipper. Very easy and quick!

I wore them in my first days in London to keep my feet warm while getting used to my new room… By the way, once you get used to always having slippers on your feet from early childhood, you do actually feel a proper chill rising up from your soles if you walk barefoot, even on a carpet. So nowadays, even though there is no adult running after me saying “You’ll catch your death walking around barefoot like that…”, I am never without my slippers!

There’s only one problem with these, and you can kind of see it in the photo below – they lose shape very easily. As you probably know, garter stitch is super stretchy, and that just doesn’t bide well for something that’s supposed to stay on your feet. So after a few days my slippers became unwearable – they were just falling off my feet constantly. At the moment, they are still waiting for me to come up with some add-ons for the front side which would keep them on. In the meantime, I’m wearing my other pair of slippers…

bliss

I’m not a big fan of posting videos on blogs (I usually don’t click on them), but I couldn’t pass this up. A must-see for every knitter! It’s a commercial that visualises warmth by covering a whole house in knitting… Perfect idea and amazing execution!

There is also “The making of…” where you see how they did it. I feel tempted to reveal the secret, but I think I should let you find out on your own! :)

Both videos are really short, the first one is 37 seconds and the second one 3 minutes.

Have a blissful day! :)

women

With the term over and the spring making a grand entrance, I’ve been spending a lot of my time just wandering around this interesting city… The other day, I came across this:

According to Wikipedia, “there are 17 individual sets of clothing and uniforms around the sides, symbolising the hundreds of different jobs women undertook in World War II and then gave back for the homecoming men at the end of the war.” I always love the idea of paying tribute to women, but what I found most fascinating here is the idea of representing jobs by the clothes you wear to perform them! Also, Wikipedia says that the “lettering on the sides replicates the typeface used on war time ration books.” Such thoughtfulness by the designers of the monument. This made my day… Any interesting / craft-related monuments where you live?

Narnia

As promised, I have another yummy hat to show you! This is the one I made in the rush of inspiration that took over me when I finished Hanna’s hat. It took a total of eight days from cast-on to being handed over to the mail-people, and most of that time was spent blocking and waiting to get a good light for photo-taking. I think this may be my personal record so far! Here is the final result:

When I made my first hat ever, Tajana was one of the first people I showed it to. She was thrilled! As a crafty person herself (she does mostly sewing), she knew how to appreciate it and I greatly appreciated her excitement and support. That very day I promised her I would make her a hat of her own some day and set off to search for the perfect pattern. She proposed several colors, one of which was the color of ice. A year went by, and her hat just never got round to being made. And then, a few weeks ago, I realized I had this yarn in my stash (I’d say that’s very close to the color of ice, don’t you think?) and that it would be the perfect yarn for the pattern in which I envisaged Tajana’s sweet head. From then on, it was easy.

Well, most of it was easy. I had made this pattern two times before, and it’s relatively simple and quick. However, the real trouble came with taking photos. The color got me convinced that the perfect background for the photos would be a brick wall. The warm red of brick would contrast the murky white perfectly, I thought. Well, I thought wrong. I tried taking photos in front of two different brick walls on two different days and the results were always the same: too bright. I’ve gotten pretty skilfull at taking photos of my hats on my own and I normally don’t have these brightness problems with them. I didn’t know what to do, so at one point, in total desperation, I hid into this little doorway which looked very dark. I assumed it would be too dark for photos, but I tried a test snap anyway… Lo and behold! Perfect colors! Yay! I hurried to get some more while my lucky spell lasted…

I think the hat is quite nice when it’s just layed out flat, as well! This is how I blocked it, without a plate, because it was naturally slouchy on its own. I thought of passing up the blocking, but it became obvioius to me that the wool needed to bloom a bit and that the hat would look nicer after blocking. So I pulled a thread through the rib band to keep it from stretching, soaked the hat thoroughly, and let it dry.

This is a k2tbl, p2 rib. Such a simple variation from the standard rib, and it makes it look so special. I love it!

Oh right, and finally, I should explain the name. As soon as I started knitting it, this hat invariably started ringing the word Narnia in my head… The color of the yarn is icey, the yarn is thick and warm, the resulting fabric is soft like snow, it’s something that the White Witch could wear with her complexion, but also something that Lucy could wear to keep her very very warm in that freezing winter… The name just imposed itself! I grew up watching the Narnia tv series, and when the movie came out I didn’t even consider seeing it – I didn’t want to mar my childhood memories. I still think it was a good decision – The Chronicles of Narnia, in their tv series form, remain an integral part of my childhood. And I was very happy to be able to associate something I created myself with those memories…

unveiling secrets!

Hanna has received my swap package! Yay! She looks beautiful in the hat, I added the photo to my project page on Ravelry because it looks so great! And I am excited about finally being able to share the whole thing with you! Today, I put another secret project in the mail (a complete surprize), but since the person that it’s going to doesn’t read the blog I can show it to you very soon… :)

But let’s get back to the swap! The task was to go through the person’s favorites on Ravelry and choose one to make a hat. Hanna didn’t have too many favorites, but one caught my attention specifically: MirreVirre’s hat and cowl pattern.

It’s a simple combination of ktbl and garter stitch. I thought garter stitch would be perfect, considering what a cold place Hanna lives in! Her head is guaranteed to be warm in this…

I had to make a few modifications to adjust for the weight of the yarn I was using. I also struggled a bit with guessing how big a hat I should make – Hanna sent me her head diameter, but I’d never worked with diameters for hats before (most patterns are one-size-fits-all, or give simple s, m, l instructions). This involved a few ripped attempts, but I didn’t mind, I wanted to get it just right. As you can see, the hat is definitely a bit too big for me (though I looooove the uber-slouchiness), but on Hanna it looks perfect (follow link at the top of post to see her wearing it).

I did the photoshoot on the banks of the Thames, while I was waiting to meet up with some friends. It was a Sunday afternoon, the bank was swarming with tourists, and I was getting weird looks, like I always do when I’m making faces at the camera and taking photos of myself (well, I’m actually taking photos of the hat, but they don’t know that). I’ve started embracing these odd looks, and I have a little giggle inside imagining what these people must be thinking… And of course, when my hair decides to do silly things as well, the looks get just a little weirder… ;)

But I ignore them, I keep making faces at my camera…

Only if they start really annoying me, I go in search of a slightly more secluded location…

Ok, but let me show you what else was in the package…

Clockwise

  • Croatian traditional sweets, made out of honey, nuts and dried fruit
  • a post-it pad with instructions on how to turn your post-its into origami animals
  • a mini water-colors paint set from Tate Modern
  • some Croatian yarn (isn’t the whole idea of these swaps to exchange things you wouldn’t normally find around where you live? :)

And this… this lovely paper from India which I discovered in that big craft store I wrote about a few weeks ago. I bought two packages, one for myself and one for Hanna, because I knew how much she loves all sorts of crafts, and this kind of material is perfect to give you inspiration. I am completely in love with it and use it to add a note to all my knitwear gifts!

Look at these colors and the texture, aren’t they gorgeous?

I am feeling super inspired by these materials, by the spring, by the culture and quirkiness that this city is full of, and by the kind and fun people around me… My knitting productivity is on a steep rise and I am feeling such a rush, I love love love it! This swap made me love knitting even more, adding another layer to it. And just as a little bonus surprize, I would like to reveal one more secret, something that Hanna doesn’t yet know either. Her hat is quite cultured itself, and before it got on the plane to stay with her in Finland, it did some sightseeing. Yes, it went to Shakespeare’s Globe (and quietly told me that it enjoyed it immensely… ;) Here’s proof…

Have a very very very silly weekend, all of you! :)