ten days’ worth

Here is ten days’ worth of my Cobblestone. Not bad, if I say so myself.

(Sorry for the blurry photo, ’tis the season when I’m never home during daylight.)

At first it was quite a boring knit (round and round and round we go…) but it turned out to be just the thing I needed for these last ten days. It’s perfect to knit on while chatting to family over skype, while lying in a hotel bed completely braindead from work, while sitting on the plane eagerly waiting to get home.

Speaking of planes, while I usually prefer to avoid risk and simply stuff my knitting in the checked-in luggage, this time I decided to consult with the airport staff first. It being a Swedish airport, I figured they’d be quite familiar with knitting and wouldn’t make a crazy face at me. I was correct. The lady at the check-in kindly referred me to her colleague who knew more on the topic, and she told me it would be fine as long as I pointed it out to the security officers. So when I came to security, I took one plastic basket for my laptop and one for my knitting. :) Of course, none of the people would tell me that they were 100% sure I could take it on (no one ever will, as it always depends on the person sitting behind the scanning machine), but everyone was very kind and warm, which made me confident enough to take the risk of potentially losing my needles. So there’s one good airport experience for you. :)

my reading list

I’m off for a lengthy work trip today, which is spilling over into the weekend due to inconvenient flights. I’ve already crossed off any major sightseeing as an option, knowing from previous experience how tired I will be after this particular event. You know, the kind of tired where you just want to curl up with a cup of tea, maybe some knitting, and a nice book.

On the knitting front Cobblestone should have me covered (for quite a while!). Luckily, on the reading front there are also plenty of candidates that have been fighting for my attention recently.

At least for once I won’t be hovering over my suitcase for 10 minutes, agonising over what to put in it!

What have you been reading lately?

(p.s. Yes, I read cookbooks.)

cobblestone

Guys, do you have any idea how long the Cobblestone Pullover has been on my to-do list? Here’s how long: since the time when Ravelry didn’t automatically store a copy of your pattern after you purchased it. Yes! That must be, like, way back in 2009, you’re thinking now. Exactly. So the only copy of the pattern I have is this tattered, crumpled, scribbled-on little print-out.

Well, emboldened by finishing my recent large return-to-knitting-with-a-bang project (more on that in a future post), I’m feeling in the mood for BIG stuff. Like sweaters. For adults. For male adults. (Surely that is the greatest undertaking of them all.) So here I go. The yarn is bought, the stitches cast on, and I’m plunging into this.

Wish me luck!

a second Milo attempt

I wasn’t entirely pleased with my first Milo. The colourwork section looked pixelated in the merino yarn (so much so that my Mum declared the elephants to be “such cute piglets”), and it pulled in quite a bit.

So even though I’m told Merino is the best yarn for babies, for my second attempt at a cute Milo I decided to go with a woolier yarn.

And skipped the colourwork band altogether (I was really traumatised by how much it had pulled in!).

I do, however, want to adorn this with a cute motif. Something small, but cute, giving it just enough personality to make it stand out from a plain vest. I am inspired by this version of another baby vest pattern and am determined to duplicate stitch a whale motif (something like this) in the lower corner. I just haven’t dared to do it yet…

the cabling needle to rule them all

A looong long time ago, in a galaxy… (Ok I’ll stop geeking out now.) (And I’ll also stop mixing up my geeky references.)

Anyway, what I meant to say is that a long time ago, I saw mention on one blog or another of a knitter hanging her cabling needle on her necklace while not in use. This puzzled me greatly. The only kind of cabling needle I was familiar with at the time looked like this. My brain did a few funny twist and turns, but, even with its limited knowledge of physics, conclusively decided that it was simply not possible. I was so confused that I actually got in touch with the person and asked her what on earth she was talking about. Luckily, she was very kind about it, and shared with me a piece of information that I was probably the last person on earth to find out: there are other shapes of cabling needles.

I thanked her and was relieved by the explanation, but never gave it much thought afterwards. It was only several years later, when I saw the same needle listed in the tools section of an online yarn shop, that I remembered the whole exchange and decided to give it a try. Now, with this big intro, you must be expecting some revolutionary tool. Sorry to disappoint, we’re talking about a simple and cheap needle here. Nonetheless, it has been revolutionary for me, and I don’t think I’ll go back to using any other type of cable needle again.

I love this thing! So, what’s so great about it?

1. The U shape means that you don’t have to balance it precariously with your other needles as you keep the cable stitches on hold. I like to use a cabling needle several sizes smaller than my knitting needles, to make sure the stitches don’t stretch out while on hold. But this also means that my stitches are loose on the cabling needle and my cabling needle would often tip over vertically and fall out of the stitches. No chance of that with this needle. Because of its vertical orientation, gravity helps it do its job, and there is no precarious balancing of a horizontal stick being held in place by 2 or 3 loose stitches while knitting on other stitches.

2. The short end is perfect for transferring stitches. Let’s face it, it’s annoying (it’s a small annoyance, but when I have to knit 15 cables in one row, any small annoyance counts in my book) if you have to transfer stitches to one end of a needle and then push them all the way over to its other end (or rather, push them to the middle, then knit the stitches which are not on hold, then push them to the other end to knit the stitches on hold). With this needle, you grab the stitches with the short end, and they just slide naturally to the U turn. It’s a short slide and gravity helps, again.

3. The long end is long enough to hold as a normal needle. It wouldn’t be good if it was shorter, because it would be awkward to knit with. But here, when you get to the point of actually knitting the held stitches, you have a needle just long enough to hold comfortably.

4. The difference between the short and long end also helps remember from which direction the stitches came from. One problem I often have with manipulating cables is that, while I’m working on the other stitches, the cabling needle gets pushed around, twisted and turned, and in the end I’m not sure I’m holding it the right way. With this needle the problem is eliminated: I just have to make sure the short end is on the left and the long one on the right.

5. Finally, this needle is plastic. Which means it’s light as a feather. Despite all the gravity we talked about above, it holds the stitches perfectly in place without pulling them down or stretching them out (one of my pet peeves with cabling).

Are you convinced yet? I am totally in love with this needle, and actually my dislike for cabling has gone down considerably since discovering it! I’m also happy that even after all this time knitting, I still sometimes find simple and inexpensive tools which are capable of completely changing my perspective. Cool, no? :)

Do you have any simple tools which were game-changers for you?

happy birthday, Fran

A year ago exactly, my best friend had her first baby, a boy named Fran. I had, of course, made sure that he was well supplied with handknits from day 1 (and they have been well used and well loved). But a few days after his birth, I happened to be visiting an amazing yarn store. It gave me an idea. And then there was no stopping me anymore. I bought the yarn and pattern for Fran’s 1st birthday sweater when he was just a few days old, and had it finished a few months later.

When I had finished it, I wondered aloud at my knitting group about whether it would fit a 1-year-old. Half of my knitting group shrugged, they were as clueless about baby sizes as I was. The other half, those who had more experience with babies, had a good hearty laugh. “There is NO WAY that will fit a 1-year-old!” I was bummed, but had no choice but to try my luck. I did consider delivering it early, but that wouldn’t have helped much – what would a baby do with a thick woolen sweater in the middle of a Croatian summer? Well, in the end I’m happy to report that the doubters were wrong! It fits him very well! It’s true that it doesn’t leave him much room to grow, so a larger size may have been wiser, to last him longer, but it will definitely get a few wears before it is stored away for posterity.

As for the pattern itself, I was not thrilled with it. In many places it is unnecessarily wordy, which made it more difficult to follow. In other places it was not clear, which resulted in having to rip quite a large part of what is quite a simple pattern. (I’ve tried to make some helpful notes on my Ravelry page, if you’re using this pattern as well.) But that said, I still absolutely love the finished result and will surely be knitting it again.

So, to sum up, in what may be a historic first in my knitting career, I actually managed to knit and deliver a knitted gift on time. What on earth do I do now? Well, I am actually going to be back in London in a few days again, so I guess I’ll just have to buy the yarn for his 2nd birthday sweater… ;)

mousie progress

With my knitting revival in full swing, one of my priorities is to work through my long list of almost-finished-objects (AFOs?), some of which have been sitting around in their AFO stage for almost a year, waiting for that final 5% push.

Mousie is one of them. His body was knitted and stuffed (even the ends woven in, gasp!) a long time ago, now he just needs some ears and limbs.

The only thing is, his presence around the house has recently taken on a more sinister turn, when one of his flesh-and-blood cousins decided to pay us a visit. He didn’t cause any damage, and seems to have only stopped by for a very short time, but nonetheless, he has made Mousie appear less cute to me. The plan now is to finish and give him away as quickly as possible – I am just not too keen on having a visual reminder on my mantlepiece of what creeps around in the building…