feeling smart

While making Gretel, I remembered one of the reasons why I love hats – they are my number one choice of knitted gifts for friends! Even the very intricate hats can be finished and delivered relatively quickly, and the patterns and colours I choose are always well-received by my friends (hehe, non-knitters think hats are much more difficult than they actually are ;). I love making them as surprizes for friends who I want to show that they mean a lot to me, even if we don’t speak on the phone or write each other emails non-stop.

So finishing Gretel inspired me to make a surprize gift for another friend living far away. I recently asked for her address so I could send her a postcard, and now I can also use it for sending happy packages without her suspecting a thing! She’s a very special lady, if I had to describe her in two words, it would be: beautiful and strong. When I thought of her, I knew I couldn’t just make her any hat. I didn’t have an image of what to make, but I knew I’d recognize it if I saw it.

Enter Ravelry.

Step number 1: I looked through my queue. It wasn’t long before I noticed this. That was it! Simple, but special. Interesting but classy.

Step number 2: Find the perfect yarn. I recently discovered that every pattern page on Ravelry has a tab called yarn ideas. If you click on it, you get an overview of all the yarns knitters have used for this pattern (ordered by frequency), and you can click straight through to the projects. Perfect for a yarn novice like me!

The three yarns used most often on the Sixteen Cable Hat were Malabrigo Merino Worsted, Rowan Kid Classic and Cascade 220 Wool. The neat thing is that you can click on each yarn and there, on one page, you see photos of all the projects made from the relevant pattern and yarn. I clicked through all of them and decided that on average I liked the Rowan Kid Classic results best. This solidified my decision.

Step number 3: Buy pattern. Done with the help of Ravelry and PayPal within less than a minute. Pattern is already printed and waiting eagerly.

Step number 4: Buy yarn. That’s what I’ll be doing today at KnitNation! Report coming soon… ;)

p.s. Yay Ravelry for making all this so easy! I’m also feeling very smart personally for taking advantage of its potential to the full today… :)

almost done

See what my finger is pointing to? We have a centre. And having a centre means that we’re – almost done!

I was a good girl and sewed in all the ends immediately! In honor of that, you get a photo of the interior. Cables are so funny.

Now blocking and posing. Then proper photos… ;)

p.s. I’m going to KnitNation tomorrow! :)

comments on comments!

Every once in a while, I make a little change on the blog to make it better / nicer / friendlier… I’m not sure if anyone notices, but I do hope it moves towards making your visit here a bit more pleasant. My last change has been to start responding to comments by email. I used to respond on the blog, but I’m not sure people come back to check. I know that I personally tend to forget all the places where I’ve left comments and sometimes discover only weeks later that the blogger had actually responded. Since I cherish and try to respond to every comment, I wanted to make sure that people actually notice my responses!

But I wonder what you think about it… Do you like getting a response back by email? Or does it feel like a step too much, like an intrusion into your privacy? Would you find it annoying to get an email in response to every comment you make? Do you come back and check here if I’ve responded to your comment? I really want you to feel comfortable with what goes on here, so I looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the matter! :)

cabling without a needle?

I’d heard about cabling without a cable needle before, and it had been recommended to me on several occasions, especially when I moaned about not liking cables. But I put off trying it for a very long time, it just didn’t appeal to me. However, after I started Gretel a few days ago, it became so apparent that cabling was going to be slowing me down significantly. So I decided to try this needle-less cabling everyone’s been talking about. Luckily, Ysolda’s pattern recommended to check out Grumperina’s site. I was absolutely thrilled! This is by far one of the best knitting tutorials I have seen anywhere on the net. Everything is so clear, and any question that may occur to you has already been answered. Seriously, even if you don’t care one bit about cabling without a cable needle, go look at these two tutorials (for right-twist and left-twist cables), they are awesome.

And the technique is very easy.

And indeed much faster. But I’m not sure if my stitches are coming out kind of soggy, i.e. stretched out… No final verdict at the moment.

a tangle

I’m utterly enjoying the feel of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, but my oh my, it is the worst-wound ball of yarn I ever have seen! The yarn is wound super-loose and the whole ball just utterly falls apart after you start knitting from it. And don’t even think about using it as a centre-pull ball… I actually got so irritated that I completely dropped one ball and started with a fresh one, but soon enough, I was again faced with something like this…

You may notice, however, that it’s not slowing me down too much… ;)

my temporary neighborhood

Neighborhoods are really important to me. I want to be comfortable and at home in my immediate surroundings. I like it when there is something to look forward to on my way home. And I am pleased to announce that my current (albeit quite temporary) neighborhood is the perfect candidate! Let me show you what I mean…

It may look kind of empty (aah, Sunday mornings :) but if you look close enough, you’ll notice Someone Was Here…

I’ll take that piece of advice any day! :)

This shop above, on the other hand, has pretty much got life figured out. I still haven’t seen it open, though, so I can’t tell you if their food is as good as their motto.

I actually took these photos on the walk from my new neighborhood to my old one. Don’t you just love this juxtaposition of pretty fence and wild plants? And just a few meters away from the city hall!

I also find it hard to resist signs whose style reminds me of other, older times…

Of course, it’s my weekend excursion, you know there’s always one thing that comes up: a street band! :) This time with a particularly inspired lead man… :)

Oh yeah, and I’m still close to the river! Always a good thing.

And this fellow is just around the corner. I’m not a particularly big fan of horse statues, but this one looks somehow… friendly.

I think it’s a good sign. This neighborhood and I are going to be good friends, even if the friendship is short. :) I leave you with a sight that’s becoming quite ubiquitous, as London busily prepares for its free-city-bike scheme…

I hope you all have a busy (the good kind of busy) week! :)

it’s been a while

It’s been quite a while since I indulged in my favorite knitting activity, so I decided to rectify that today.

I worked at the computer because I had to follow the video instructions for the cast-on. It took me several attempts, and at the moment I’m not sure about my gauge so I might have to do it again. But I’ve taken a liking to this cast-on, which is supposed to produce an extremely stretchy edge, so I wouldn’t mind practising it some more.

The yarn I’m using is Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran, and it is a total joy! I’m a little scared as to how it will hold up with use, though, it seems to be giving some hints of piling…

Have a lovely Sunday, everyone! :) I suggest you do something you really like, but haven’t done in a while… It’s been a thrill for me to rediscover this old love… :)

roll, baby, roll

Yesterday I had one of those everything-goes-wrong days. To be honest, the day gave me some clues about its plans for me pretty early on, when, having just arrived to work, I spilt coffee all over myself and my chair. And so it began. Luckily, this little thing was close enough to provide the much-needed respite here and there throughout the day (and far away enough to avoid getting a coffee makeover!).

It’s the right front of the Minimalist. Look at that texture, I love it! Obviously the front is progressing quite fast, since there are much fewer stitches than in the back. It’s kind of like knitting a scarf (there is very little shaping involved) yet knowing it will become part of a cardigan some day. :) I have to admit, the width of the front looks frighteningly tiny in comparison to the back – I guess I’ll just never know if any part of this cardi is coming out right until it’s finished!

Oh yes, and the edge rolls.

When I started the Minimalist, I came upon this discussion of the rolling edge. I must admit I was one  of the people who had not noticed this feature of the design at all, from the photos I kind of thought that the stockinette edge is knit up double width and then folded over and sewn, so that it would be kind of double stockinette. I might try doing that on some other occasion, but for now, I’m rolling with the pattern (heeheehee).

travelling with your needles

It is my pleasure to present you the second fridica DIY tutorial! :)

This one is just as simple as the first one was, but since it’s sometimes the simplest of solutions that don’t come to our minds, I hope it’s still worth sharing! As soon as I started knitting, I became quite inseparable from the activity, and wherever I went, I wanted to have all my tools with me to be sure that, if inspiration for a new project strikes, I am well equipped to put it into practice! Wherever I’m living, I usually display my lovely tools something like this…

However, long pointy things that can pierce through other stuff yet also be easily misshaped are not the easiest of transportable objects. So I had to come up with a way of bringing my knitting needles safely (both for them and for other objects in my suitcase) with me on all my travels!

It didn’t take long until I noticed this cardboard tube at the top of my closet.

If you’ve ever bought a poster online and had it shipped to you, you have one of these. The posters arrive rolled up in a hard-cardboard tube, with a plastic top like this. The top is usually stapled to the tube on one end, and free on the other.

I always felt bad throwing the tube away after I retrieved my poster. Good thing I didn’t! I decided to put my needles inside it, but the tube was quite long, and the first time I tried it the needles kept rolling back and forth, and creating a hellish noise at it. So I added some improvements.

First, I asked my Dad to cut the tube shorter. He used a handheld electric saw (my parents live in the country, they have these sorts of things), but I’m pretty sure you could do it with a good kitchen knife as well (hehe, I’m imagining scenes from telemarketing – “You can cut a tin can with it, and even after that it still cuts a tomato perfectly!” :D), after all – it is only cardboard. The length I chose was a few centimeters more than my longest needle. That came out to about 45 cm. Don’t forget to add another 1cm of length for the depth of the plastic top (it goes partially inside the tube)!

The other improvement I added was to pad the bottom of the tube, so that the needle tips don’t get damaged when my suitcase is being pulled and pushed in different directions. This was very easy – I simply used yarn scraps! I always feel bad about throwing yarn away, even if it’s so little that you really can’t do anything with it. So whatever scrap yarn I had after weaving in and cutting off ends, I just stuffed it at the bottom of my tube…

… and soon enough, my needles had a soft cushion to rest their tips upon! :)

After that, all that’s left to do is decorate your tube! I haven’t been so good on this part yet, I’m actually embarassed to show you my little “drawing”, but it’s a start at least! :)

Ummm, those are supposed to be needles. Blush…

Since I’ve had it, I’ve made plenty of use out of this tube. I can testify it holds up well in big suitcases (it’s never spilt open!) and it’s even small enough to shove into a backpack for shorter trips (yes, I’m that obsessed!). So now I never have to be apart from these again… :)

I hope you’ve found this tutorial helpful! If you have other ideas for transporting knitting needles, please share! I still haven’t found a very elegant method for cable needles, and my collection of those is rapidly growing…

a conceptual gift

I confess, since the time I became relatively confident about my knitting abilities, I have used them on several occasions to cop out of situations where a last-minute birthday gift was needed! I’m talking about the “oh my, the party’s in three hours and I have no gift” situations. This doesn’t mean I don’t care about the person, it just means, as I noted a few days ago, that I am a master at postponing things. So how did I use knitting as a cop-out? By creating “gift-certificates” for future knitted items.

But after I did it the first time, I realized it actually made people happy (well, the right sort of people). They enjoyed telling me their yarn preferences and waiting for the item to be made especially for them. So it made me want to do this sort of gift even when I wasn’t in a time crunch. That’s what I did for Caroline’s birthday. Apart from the promise of a knitted item, she also got several other conceptual gifts, that she gets to activate when she wants. I’m at her disposition! ;)

In the meantime, however, I started the promised item two days ago.

Let’s see if this time it comes out looking a bit less like duck feet and a bit more like human socks… ;)