my one true love

Recently, I went back to visit my one true love, the place where I started this blog and from which I had been away for far far far too long. The ‘homecoming’ (even though it’s not technically a home, since I was neither born nor grew up there, it still feels like one) was full of emotion, fun, sometimes nostalgia and a bit of sadness too, but primarily joy joy joy. Here are some highlights.

https://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8484/8231688397_6499994af4_z.jpg

a fabric tree on the South Bank

a rainbow over The City

a rainbow over The City

an improvised Prime Meridian

an improvised Prime Meridian

a cafe in refurbished boat storage facilities along The Canal

a cafe in refurbished boat storage facilities along The Canal

a treat at The Breakfast Club

a treat at The Breakfast Club

knitted bunting I had to capture to show to my Stitch and Bitch group (which recently knitted an enormous amount of bunting)

knitted bunting I had to capture to show to my Stitch and Bitch group (which recently knitted an enormous amount of bunting)

a Trafalgar vista

a Trafalgar vista

Shakespeare's London out of paper at the British Museum

Shakespeare’s London out of paper at the British Museum

and blue blue blue skies all along

and blue blue blue skies all along

Have a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

studying is great for knitting

This weekend, while I was preparing for my big exam, I remembered a universal truth from my student days: studying is great for knitting. That is, whenever I’ve had to close myself off in my room for a whole weekend and cram cram cram, my knitting has benefited greatly. Because breaks are necessary. Both to get some energy and to reward yourself for all the hard work you’re doing. And when you don’t want to get out of your pyjamas for the break, or lose too much time on it, knitting is ideal. And 7 or 8 breaks of 20 minutes in a day ends up resulting in A LOT of knitting.

So here’s what I have to show for this past weekend of cramming. One of the socks had been finished since August, the other had been languishing ever since. Well, not any more!

p.s. Before I started knitting, in those breaks I would usually end up cleaning. The current arrangement is highly preferable, I think you’ll agree.

wham – bam – done

Today, I took an exam and whammed one gigantic rock off my chest. I won’t know the results for a few months, but honestly I don’t care. All I care about right now is that it is DONE. Ever since August, it had been taking up every single moment of my free time, and when I say every single moment, I include in that lunch breaks, evenings and weekends. Every single day. But it’s finally finished, and today, I revel the time regained.

And you can bet I’ll use loads of that time for knitting! So you’ll be seeing more FOs in the near future. For now, here’s the last one in the series of old FOs finally photographed…

The wham bam thank you lamb neckwarmer had been on my list since the earliest days of my knitting career (and how wouldn’t it be, with such an adorable name?). Last year, when I started exploring cowls, it finally got its turn. It is a free and easy pattern which knits up in no time at all. The way you sew it up yields an asymmetrical shape, so depending on how you wear it, it can look like a bandana or a doubled-up cowl (see the pattern photos for a better illustration, mine are more on the artsy side ;).

Unfortunately it did not manage to convert me to cowls (hehe, see my diatribe on that here), but if you’re a Cowl Person, I do recommend it (and it would be a great pattern for beginners as well).

Off to enjoy my first evening off in months now… Ta-ta! ;)

(s)cowl

Cowls and I, we just don’t get along. I know they’re fashionable and cool. Heavens know they’re in all the shops. And I have tried to get on the bandwagon. I have tried on countless ones in shops, and I have knitted a few. But I still don’t get it. As far as I’m concerned, they mess up your hair when you’re putting them on, they never fit close enough to the neck to prevent the cold wind from creeping in there (naturally, as otherwise you couldn’t get them over your head), and if you double them over they create a big weird lump in the back, making you look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Case in point: look at the big gap between Maja’s neck and the cowl. And now imagine an icy cold wind resting on her exposed neck instead of the sunshine.

But anyway, I keep trying. And sometimes the patterns just look too damn cool to miss out on. And I always think: this might just be the one to finally reveal to me what all the fuss is about…

My latest attempt was the Serafina Cowl, from the well-established team of Carrie Bostick Hoge and Quince & Co. The pattern attracted me immediately with its interesting and original combination of garter stitch and cables. Nobody can deny that it looks lovely!

The pattern as written seems to be too big for most knitters, though, so following their advice I took out one pattern repeat (CO 140 st instead of 168) and went down a needle size. In retrospect I could have cast on even much less and still would have had plenty of width.

The execution itself was not particularly enjoyable. For some reason knitting this caused me physical discomfort. It wasn’t pain, but it wasn’t happy relaxed knitting either. It was probably the combination of endless rounds of knits/purls and a not-so-elastic yarn (Spud & Chloë Sweater, 55% Wool, 45% Cotton) that caused it.

In conclusion, the final result is beautiful and lush, but in my view still not very practical. So for now, my reaction to cowls still remains – a scowl.

new Twist faves

The winter Twist Collective is out, and I had a thorough and pleasurable read-through with my coffee this morning. In my view it’s a really good issue, and here are my favourites…

I’ve been looking for nice thick pullovers for this winter, and Berwick hit just the right spot.

photo © Carrie Bostick Hoge

The Coesite hat keeps things interesting, but without going over the top, and I love that. It’s a truly innovative design, I can’t say I’ve seen anything similar before, which is becoming a rarity lately, so my sincere admiration goes to it!

photo © Carrie Bostick Hoge

And the Chamomile hat and mitts took my heart at first glance. I love the lace-trim fashion thingie that has been so popular lately, and I’m so happy someone has finally translated it into knitting.

photo © Jane Heller

But there’s more to Twist than just patterns. In this issue, I really enjoyed the article on ripping by the legendary Franklin Habit, the regular column on swatching (which, for once, I did not skip, hehe), and the myth-busters of knitting.

not all FOs are winners

This explosion of FO posts lately has been due primarily to the fact that I had accumulated a bunch of FOs throughout the last year but had not had an opportunity to take photos of them. But for this one in particular I had another reason: I’m simply not crazy about it. I’m even tempted to rip it. But then I keep thinking someone else might like it?

I decided to knit the Antelope Hat mainly because I loooooved the version by porsu. The colour, the combination with a cowl, the styling, I love it all! Her hat looks like a beautiful cakey thing!

But my version is just not doing it for me. The shape is weird (one isn’t quite sure as to how to wear it) and the texture is too busy (even though I really loved the pattern!). So I have no idea what to do with it. For now, I’m just trying to repeat the mantra: “Not all FOs are winners. And that’s ok.”

p.s. More on the orange thingie soon! ;)

man hat

With the winter and the gifting season firmly on the way, the one question I most often get from both friends who are knitters and those who considering giving it a try is: can you recommend a hat pattern for a man? It usually comes with the additional explanation that it should be really simple, but really really simple. Some want the simplicity because they fear that their skills are not up to the task, all want it because they know the man will not wear anything else.

Well, luckily, as I wrote several times on here already, I have the perfect answer: Jane Richmond’s Christopher.

The pattern is simple. You need to know casting on, knitting in the round, simple adding and subtracting stitches. That’s it. You don’t even need to know how to purl. For some technical tips I put together (after making this hat about, oh, gazillion times), have a lookie here and here.

The result is a double-layer reversible hat, which makes it a plus in so many ways. From the male perspective: it is super warm, and if one side gets dirty he can just flip it onto the other one and pretend nothing happened. From the knitter’s perspective: everyone will think you are veeeery skillful (well, I’m sure you are anyway, but the point is, this is a real simple pattern to make, but non-knitters would never guess or believe that!), and you can play it safe with colours by making one bland side (the one he will probably wear) and one more adventurous one (just to please yourself).

Now, let’s just get this straight, though. When I say adventurous, I mean you might be allowed to add some stripes. But be prepared that when you ask what combination he wants, he might say: gray and gray. And if you try suggesting something else, he might make this face at you.

teeny tiny to go with

As mentioned in my last post, after I finished the baby blanket I couldn’t resist using the leftover yarn to make something teeny tiny to go with it. I settled for a baby hat, as I figured those are always useful!

There isn’t much to be said about this project. It was quick and simple (free pattern here). I improvised the stripes, and was going to continue them all the way to the end, but then I ran out of the white yarn, so I played around a bit.

The mama tells me it’s still huuuuge on the baby, but she’s expecting him to grow into it very soon, cause, well, that’s what babies do. :)

Phew, I think that’s the last of baby knitting that I have to show you for now! I’ll be back soon with a few adult thingies, for a change. Have a nice week! :)

sixty two thousand three hundred and four

There is a lot of time to think when you are knitting a blanket with 700-stitch rounds of nothing but knits or purls. So I got to thinking – surely it would be easy to calculate the exact number of stitches in this blanket with a little help from a spreadsheet. And so I did.

62,304

Yup, you read that right. In retrospect, perhaps I shouldn’t have calculated after all… Some things are better left unknown. But let’s just say that this is, by far, conclusively, my greatest knitting feat to date. And it was worth it. OpArt was one of the first patterns I found when I discovered the wonderful world of online knitters. I knew immediately that I’d make it some day for my best friend’s baby. She and her husband are architects with a very distinguished style, a love for clean lines and classical colours. The moment I set my eyes on this pattern, I knew it would be for them. So when, several years later, they told me they were pregnant, there wasn’t much thinking left to be done. I dug out the pattern from my collection, bought the yarn and got started.

The pattern is a free one, from Knitty, and it was a delight. It is incredibly simple, and surprisingly much less tedious than you would imagine. The beginning is really exciting, as the shapes start appearing in front of you, you just want to keep going and seeing what it will look like after 10 more rounds. Later, when the rounds get longer, this becomes perfect zen knitting. And for such an epic project, it was finished surprisingly quickly – in less than a month and a half (it did then take me another few months to weave in all the ends, but let’s not mention that). I also love the pattern’s background story: designing it in the style of Optical Art paintings, while at the same time thinking of the development of baby eyesight (which is really bad when they’re born, so they are drawn to strong contrasts).

The yarn, of course, superwash and merino. Best combo for babies, I’m told. It is Garnstudio DROPS Baby Merino, and I am super happy with it, I’ll definitely be resorting to it for more baby knits. I chose the colour combo – white and navy – because the projects I liked the most on Ravelry were the ones with strong contrasts, and I think it works super well. And I used the teeny tiny leftovers to make a teeny tiny something to accompany the blanket. To be continued… :)

pebble

Continuing in the series of baby knits, here’s Pebble.

Pebble is another free baby pattern, and I highly recommend it. The thing that really wins me over with baby knits is when they are practical enough to consider the simple truth that dressing babies is hard. They can’t help you out with it, they wriggle, their head is way bigger than it should be in comparison to the body, and they genuinely feel the discomfort of it all and usually protest loudly. When I knit for babies, I want to make it as easy as possible for both them and their parents. Pebble does this excellently, as the vest opens up completely on one side (including the shoulder seam), so all you have to do is get the baby arm through one armhole and then button everything else up. No pulling over the head, no wriggling little arms through tight holes, no tears. :)

When I first finished this, I wasn’t crazy about my colour combination and I left it lying in some corner of the house for a very long time… But then I found the perfectly contrasting buttons and after I sewed them on, the project completely transformed in front of my eyes and I totally fell in love with it!

A suitable recipient was found in the recently-born granddaughter of one of my stitch-n-bitch friends, who admired the garment as I was sewing on the buttons during our knitterly get-together, at which baby, mama and grandma were all present. I hope they will all enjoy it! :)