a pattern, a swatch, a decision

One big project finished, and I’m feeling like I’m ready to tackle another one. I’ve never achieved a finished adult garment before, but today I made a decision to change that. If I could finish this Monster below, surely I can finish one little cardi for myself! Especially if I have the perfect yarn already in my stash (I had been saving it for the right project).

Well, remember how I was talking about cardis for the summer? I chose one from that list! The Minimalist Cardigan. I made a full size swatch yesterday, which was an exception: I usually only do about ten rows, I’m more concerned about getting the correct number of stitches than the correct number of rows. I was so proud when I finished this one and realized it matched both the number of stitches and the number of rows perfectly!

Now how often do you get that? :) So as soon as I finished measuring my swatch I went straight online and bought and printed the pattern. I plan to cast on this evening. 

Of course, there had to be a slight glitch. The difference in bust measurement between sizes provided in the pattern is on average 4 inches. Of course, when I measured my bust, it fell exactly in the middle between two sizes (two inches either way), and I don’t know which way to go. The pattern doesn’t mention anything in the sense of negative or positive ease, so no clues there. I’ll try to scour people’s notes on Ravelry to see if anyone has recommendations. I don’t think it will be too much of an issue, in the end, since it’s an open-front cardi without buttons, but I do want to get the sleeves right…

In the meantime, the baby cardi has been ripped and I’m making another swatch. It was coming out way too big. I’m contemplating changing that project completely, I’m not sure I can handle so much purling right now :( so it’s good that I’ll at least have one good project going as I struggle with that one… :)


blocking a monster

It is done. It is huge. It is, officially, a Monster. But a beautiful Monster, if I may say so myself.

In any case, as soon as I finished up the knitting  (a year and a half after starting!), I wanted to get it completely out of the way, so I sewed in the ends immediately and set about the business of blocking. I got some free samples of Soak during the Worldwide Knit in Public Day, so I decided to test them on this.

Step number 1: pour into cold water and stir.

And before you ask, yes, I do my blocking in a gigantic kitchen pot. And yes, I also use that pot to cook pasta in. Student life… :)

Step number 2: add Monster.

While adding the Monster, try to avoid this. Especially if your room is about to be inspected to make sure you haven’t caused any damage before you move out… Hm…

Step number 3: let it soak for about 15 minutes. The cool thing about the Soak liquid is that it does not require rinsing. I hate rinsing. Thus, we can proceed directly to Step number 4: remove Monster from its bath and roll it into a towel to drain the excess liquid. Or a blanket, if there is no towel big enough to contain the Monster.

Did I really just make my friend a scarf LONGER than a full-bed blanket?? Well, she asked for it…

I didn’t feel the need to pin this one down, I like the natural curves that the faux cables create.

Step number 5: reward yourself. :)

When it dries I’ll let you know if I see any difference for having used the Soak liquid. In the meantime, I hope you’re doing something similar to Step number 5! ;)

Columbia Road

Sorry for the lack of posts over the weekend, I’ve been out and about constantly! Now that there is no studying to do, and that the panic over writing a 10,000 word dissertation in two months hasn’t kicked in yet ;) I’m staying out of my room as much as possible and trying to go to at least one place I’ve never been to before every day! It’s not such a difficult thing in London… ;) Well, on Sunday I finally made it to the famous Columbia Road flower market, and let me tell you – it is amazing! I was overwhelmed by a Mrs Dalloway feeling of wanting to buy myself enormous bunches of gorgeous flowers… I decided to put it off, though, since I’m moving house in a few days. But I did take loads of digital bunches home with me – take a look!

There is a special kind of giggling that is provoked in me by hearing macho men yell at the top of their voices: “Peonies! Peonies for a fiver!”

London outdoor markets are THE thing, my friends. I am utterly in love with them. There were two bands entertaining again, and this time – this one was my favorite. So simple and sweet. And such good music.

However, if you decide to go to any market, especially on Saturday or Sunday morning to early afternoon, you have to be ready for this. There is no getting around it.

Once wriggling through the masses exhausts you, you can slip away to the sides of the market, where you are bound to be greeted by lovely shop fronts. Of all the markets I’ve seen, the shop fronts on Columbia Rd are the most creative by far!

The photos are not so great – it was difficult with the sun glaring and everyone pushing around me, but you get the idea. Cheerful and colorful. :)

With cutesy signs.

And adorable arrangements.

I also discovered a dream shop with the most adorable wall stickers. Kind of pricey but one day, when I have my own flat, I’ll definitely make the investment!

Look closely at the singing birdies – they go: do – re – mi – fa – so – la – quack! :)

I also found these, for those of you who are going baby-crazy… ;) Don’t you just love the colors and the simplicity?

On my way home, I got a little lost and ended up on Brick Lane market (another famous one!), but there I spent more time browsing than taking photos. I also picked up a very cheap but cute pair of sunglasses, with which I later made silly faces… :)

Have a great week, everyone! :)

and the winner is…

I had lots of fun today writing out all your names on colorful pieces of paper, folding them, mixing them all together, mixing them again, and mixing them one more time to make sure there is no bias in the draw! And here is the result:

Congratulations, Misha! :))) The blog that Misha recommended in her comment was Laughing Purple Goldfish, in case you were interested! I would like to thank all the 30 participants in the giveaway. I know there is bound to be disappointment (I know how it feels, I have never won a giveaway in my life), but I promise there will be more giveaways in the future, and you never know… Well, you definitely can’t win if you don’t even try! So thank you again for participating and for all your wonderful blog recommendations.

As for Misha, if you would be so kind as to send your postal address to igspanATgmailDOTcom, I’ll put your parcel in the post asap :)

Have a lovely weekend everyone! :)

on the needle

Today the plan is to pack up my knitting and hit the park. I’ve got no obligation whatsoever. You cannot even imagine how litterally un-believable that feels. Before I leave, however, here is an in-progress shot of the baby cardi I’ll be taking to the park with me…

The pattern is from the book Vintage Baby Knits, which you can win in my giveaway. I’ll be picking the winner randomly tomorrow morning, so hurry on over and sign your name! :)

By the way, can you tell which stitch this cardi involes?

Yes, I don’t know how it happened exactly, but it seems I’ve become a seed-stitch monster. I actually really enjoy doing it!

Have a lovely, sun-filled day everyone :)

beautiful bloggers

Have you noticed that the beautiful blogger award has been going around? Once you get it, you’re supposed to write ten things about yourself and pass it on to ten new bloggers. I was quite honored (and slightly shocked! :) that as many as seven wonderful girls thought of me when compiling their list of people to pass it on to! Thank you so much faeriecollege, agirlinwinter, knitterlyanne, myfibreobsessedlife, wool-and-cotton, wherethenoddingvioletsgrow and mooncalfmakes! You made me smile again and again and again… :) Make sure you visit their blogs – since everyone had to list ten bloggers they liked, there are plenty of new reads just waiting to be discovered! By the way, while we’re at the make sure you stage, make sure you enter the giveaway – time’s almost up!

Now, for my ten things. I’m just going to type them off the bat so I don’t overthink it.

1. I have vitiligo. I call it a cosmetic disease, because the only effect it has is to cause gradually increasing loss of pigment in your skin. Since there are some really bad and painful conditions out there, I really don’t feel justified (or inclined) at all to complain about this one, when it is not harming my health or causing me any discomfort. Also, since I have super-white skin (this always used to annoy me, but it’s coming in handy now!), you cannot see my white spots except in the summer, when the rest of my skin tans. That also means that I get to assess every summer how much it has spread in the past year. :) So far the white spots are mainly on my hands, around my elbows and a few on my feet (they usually start around your joints for some unknown reasons), but there are a few showing up on my face and I’m thinking of taking a course on make-up some time in the future – I’m not a big expert on applying make-up, and I’ll definitely need to get better at it to hide my white spots as they spread…

In case you’re interested, vitiligo is an auto-immune disease, no one really knows why it develops and it is non-treatable. People react differently to it (some improve with sun exposure, some get worse). It’s my second auto-immune disease (the first one is hereditary problems with my thyroid, which is super-common these days, and also causing me no problems), and whenever I catch a cold and people say stuff like “Your immune system must be weak”, I can counter by saying “No, my immune system is super-strong, it’s so strong that it’s bored with not having anything to do so it attacks things in my own body just for fun…” ;)

2. I’ve always been good at school. It kind of loses its value after a while, I mean I don’t feel like I’ve made a big accomplishment if I get an A in an exam. On the other hand, I am much less confident with learning skills (it took me four attempts to pass my driving exam, and I was always bad at gym), so becoming good at a physical skill, such as knitting, makes me super-proud of myself. :)

3. About a year and a half ago, I started dancing Argentinian tango. I had never danced anything before in my life and I fell in love completely. I’m on a tango hiatus at the moment because the London scene is not so good (surprizingly and sadly), but I’ve started taking ballroom dancing classes in the meantime. I’m always surprized by how much I enjoy each and every lesson and I have a sneaky feeling that I’ll be dancing for the rest of my life…

4. I learned German for four years in high school, and then completely neglected it. Now I can barely mutter a few words. I’m sad about neglecting something that I already had at my fingertips, if I had only kept at it I could’ve been fluent now.

5. My dream travel destination is Easter Islands. They just seem to be out of this world!

6. There are always too many things in my bag, it gets quite heavy from just the ‘necessities’. What with the planner, book, knitting, and other things that I wish I could always have with me, umbrellas usually get kicked out. I hate having to carry them around anyway.

7. I’ve read the whole of Marcel Proust‘s “In Search of Time Lost”. When I was doing a year abroad in the US during my undergrad, I had a very inspired literature teacher (he was like those literature teachers you see in the movies, very bohemian and always challenging his students in a good way), and he suggested a course with only a few people, where we spent the whole semester reading and discussing Proust’s six volumes (I think each was about 500 pages). Before we started, he warned us: “No one is ever going to believe you that you’ve read the whole thing.” I don’t really care if people believe me. It was an amazing experience. I had hated Proust’s writing before and thought it was boring as hell, but that year I discovered an affinity for him and thoroughly enjoyed myself!

8. My baby sister is ten years my junior. She graduated high school a few days ago. When I was 15 and she 5, people would ask me at the beach if I was her mother! It would get me terribly offended! :D

9. I very very very rarely wear high heels. My mom usually tears up with pride when I do. Yes, it’s that rare! :D

10. When I start talking to my friends, I can’t stop. Have you noticed? ;))))

ENOUGH about me! Wanna look at some beautiful bloggers? Here you go!

Untangling Knots is currently looking for test knitters

Caim and Coracle has just finished her first Zimmerman

Blue Garter is expecting and glowing :)

Owl in the Dark‘s description of the solstice celebrations at Stonehenge mesmerised me

Juicy Knits revealed that Principal Skinner is a knitter

Simulacra is taking a short break from blogging, but there’s plenty of good content to catch up on

A Black Pepper was published in Artful Blogging

Permission to Unwind has the Goldilocks Syndrome

Reading while Knitting – I wish I could do it

Knit a While also has a pattern book giveaway going on at the moment

Three Little Purls – I can’t think of a cuter name for a knitting blog :)

These are ten random links from my massive list of beautiful bloggers! I hope that some of them are new to you and that you enjoy them! :)

more elephants

Here are some new elephants I snapped the other day! Perhaps they’ll bring you luck when you enter the giveaway here! ;)

I singled out the prettiest ones for you because there were simply too many…

And it was only the other day that I realized that each of them has a short text telling you the story of how they were made. This one is covered in schoolchildren’s drawings of elephants!

I also like this shiny one a lot!

Though this one is definitely my favorite. It’s a real mosaic!

This one has holes in it to look inside, where you discover a diorama of a city with elephants strewn across it… Hmmm, sound familiar? ;)

I wasn’t terribly keen on this simple yellow one, but the color contrasts came out so nicely in the photo! So I had to show you.

And finally, a hint of where I found them all… I’m moving to the immediate vicinity of this gorgeous view in a few weeks! :) Yay!

Have a lovely Tuesday. :)

around Angel

Saturday was a craaaazy day for photography, I took so many! I had a friend over so we did some touristy stuff (it had been a while since I touristed around London, I had missed it!), then the Loop party, and then more random wandering around Angel… To put all that into one post would be a total overload, so you’re getting it in bits. And today, we walk around Angel. If you ask me, Angel is the London mecca of craft and magic. Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself… ;)

Very soon after I got off the tube, I ran into this charming vintage shop with loads of dresses. I’ve promised myself a dress for each exam I finished, and I’m at 3/5 so far. Most of them have been cheap H&M type stuff, but I’m determined to get at least one proper vintage one in there. This shop seems like a good place to look!

Then right next to it was a furniture shop. These very-British-indeed chairs lured me over.

But what really kept me there for a while was this printed fabric dress form. Now, I live in student accommodation. I don’t know if I’m even going to be living in this country in a few months. And I don’t sew. Yet I can’t get over this thing. I want it so bad it almost makes me cry. :( Isn’t it gorgeous? The cast iron one isn’t bad either!

Moving on, if you want to set up a whole dining room in antique style, this little street market is the place to go. Antique plates.

And antique spoons! I’ve noticed people have a thing for antique spoons! I don’t really understand it, though. Are they that valuable? What’s the deal? Help me out if you know. :)

Finally, you can always count on London for providing interesting shop decoration… I’m pretty sure this one is not for sale. :) And the fact that he is holding a donation-collection box makes my smile at seeing him even broader. :)

I hope these made you smile! And while you’re smiling, hop over here and enter the giveaway… ;)


Loop is, without a doubt, my favorite yarn shop in the world. Ok, to be honest, I haven’t seen that many yarn shops worldwide (yet!), but I am quite confident that Loop will always have a special place in my yarny heart. :) Yesterday, Loop moved. Now, I loved their sweet little shop on Cross Street in Angel, but I have a feeling I will get over missing it veeeery soon, and let me show you why.

The new shop is located on Camden Passage, which I had somehow managed to miss on my traipses around Angel so far. It’s the most magical street ever. Crafty shops, street vendors of antique and vintage stuffs, and I’m told the finest frozen yogurts ever. I actually walked down the street because it looked interesting, not knowing where Loop was exactly, and thought to myself wow it would be so awesome if it was here. Then I turned around, and it was there! Let me illustrate: this is the view you get from inside Loop.

Yup, right onto the antiques fair! And don’t you love that huge front window? They thought of every detail.

And the window to me looks like a magic world just inviting you to come in!

There are some busy little hands working for Loop. I love the sample baby sweaters that you can always see on display! What an adorable way to showcase your gorgeous yarns!

In this photo, you can see the super-energetic Juju (in the green and blue cardi – her own design), who made us all feel incredibly welcome and at home at our new knitters’ sanctuary. Juju writes most of the stuff on the Loop blog.

And let us just zoom in a bit on one of my favorite items in the shop. This amazing photo of a sheep. Doesn’t it just radiate with power? It makes me really happy that they gave it such a special spot.

But let’s leave the downstairs now, please follow me, along this gorgeous warm carpet, upstairs!

Yes, there is an upstairs. It is a spacious room full of light, with windows on two sides! My camera didn’t do justice to this tide of light that shines on the room, but take my word for it – you will never have to worry about not being able to see your stitches in this space!

The Loop people really worked on making the customers feel comfortable in the shop. There are comfy armchairs all over the place, and a plushy couch, which I occupied for a few hours, so didn’t get a photo of it.

Just choose your favorite and grab it before anyone else does… If I happen to be there, you’ll definitely have to fight me for it! :)

There is also, of course, a LOT of yarn. Here are some happy customers inspecting it…

And guess what! My dream has come true – the yarn is organized by weight, which is clearly marked by these sweet wooden labels… No more stressing about not knowing which section of the shop to look at!

There’s also lots of sample swatches, which I think is one of those small details that distinguish the really good yarn shops. This yellow one probably caught my eye because my life is full of seed stitch at the moment (still working on this).

And have I mentioned the little touches that make the shop feel like a magic world? :)

And a treasury of forgotten lore… The best place to revive it!

I had the happiest few hours in Loop, and I can’t wait to go back! You wouldn’t believe how many people I heard say I never want to leave and I want to live here! I have nothing left to do but fully agree with them, and I can’t tell you how much this means to me after the unfortunate recent incident: I’ve found my new home. :)

p.s. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway – it’s dead easy! :) And don’t be silly with comments like I don’t deserve to win cause this is the first time I’m visiting. I am thrilled for every visitor and every click, even if you only come once! Hugs and have a lovely Sunday! :)