About fridica

I started knitting completely by accident, when I was visiting my parents for a holiday in 2008. On a boring Sunday afternoon, I decided to dig through their stash of books to see if there was anything interesting to take back to my apartment. A knitting manual happened to be one of the books I found. I got curious, my mom immediately dug out her old needles and yarn stash (which she hadn’t used in a decade at least), and in a few minutes we were both casting on - she by memory, I by following the instructions from the book… :) Since I normally prefer learning from books, this was ideal.. I took the book home with me, and very very soon - I was an addict.

a year of socks

Towards the end of last year, knitting slowly crept back into my life. I was enjoying this resurgence of my old passion, so as I packed my suitcases for a week off at my parents’, I was eager to bring some knitting along as well. What’s easily transportable (my suitcase already bursting at the seams with xmas gifts) and easy to work on (i.e. won’t distract me from participating in all the family chatter going on), I thought? Socks, of course.

So I pulled out a ball of sock yarn from my stash, checked my trusty reference books, and did the fiddly part of casting on, so that in the midst of the family hubbub I could simply dive in to some mindless knitting. I saw this as a sort of experiment for my hands, which had struggled with RSI for a long time, but seemed to be doing ok lately. If they could handle a week of almost daily knitting on teeny tiny needles, we might be getting somewhere. I approached it cautiously, but enthusiastically.

And it worked just fine. Not only did my hands not complain too much, but I also rediscovered that funny thing about socks. You know, that thing about how they seem sooo scary (the fine yarn, the small needles, the complex construction elements), but then you knit one and remember that it’s mostly just knitting a rather small tube of stockinette, with a little shaping in the beginning (toe) and middle (heel). It’s what I love about socks.

And so, having come back home in the last days of 2016 with two socks almost finished in one week, somehow the decision was already half formed in my mind before I even articulated it. 2017 would be my year of socks. I would work from my stash, experiment with patterns, and see where it got me. Mostly, I would have fun.

So here we are. Two pairs are already off the needles, and will be making an appearance here soon. But if I was to have a year of socks, well, then surely I deserved a little treat to properly show them off when they were done. And I’m even knitting from stash so I’m not spending any money on yarn. Surely that should be rewarded, I reasoned. A few clicks around Etsy and I ended up with these beauties. I absolutely luuuuurve them and I’ll be putting them to good use this year.

Stay tuned :)

winter lines

No posting for almost a year and then I just randomly show up without explanation? I don’t care, I have just made myself the awesomest sweater ever, I’m absolutely silly with excitement and I have to show you and tell you all about it right now!

I had the blog post (complete with photo styling) for this sweater made up in my head before I even started knitting it – more precisely, the moment I chose the colours. Back then, in the winter of 2013/14, I had begun noticing a colour pattern in my favourite winter clothes: navy and red, always and in all possible combinations. Case in point, at the time, my winter coat was bright red, and about 80% of the time I wore it with dark blue jeans. And so when the time came to choose the colours for a new sweater, there wasn’t much thinking to do. I planned to finish it quickly (early progress was promising), photograph it with the favourite coat and jeans, and not take it off all winter. But lo and behold, life happened, and the sweater didn’t get finished until a few winters later. I no longer have that red coat, but luckily my colour preferences have endured (surprise surprise, my current coat is navy :)) and this beauty will fit right into my wardrobe.

Now for the technical deets. The pattern is beautifully designed and technically well written. Don’t you love those sleeves?!

And pockets. Pockets!

I did have some issues with sizing (the sleeves and neckline were way too big for me), but once I buckled down and did some improvising they were easily solved. I do suspect, though, that this is a mod I’ll have to perform often as pattern sizes tend to be based on the bust measurement, which can be quite misleading for other proportions.

The yarn is squishy and smooth, and perfectly comfortable against bare skin. With blocking everything got ever so slightly longer, which was just how I wanted it. I am also quite impressed with the fact that the sweater does not show any wrinkles, despite the fact that it was stuffed in a small box for the better part of 2 years. I guess the credit for that also goes to the yarn.

I am absolutely certain I will be loving this sweater for many years to come!

a warm, snuggly cloud

What better way to end 2015 than with a wonderful new beginning – my very best friend has just had her second little boy, and right on time for me to be home in Croatia and say hello to him before I head back to Belgium. We are all over the moon.

Of course, as with her first one, I couldn’t let this pass me by without making something extra special for the little one, to keep him snuggled up in warmth and love. But this time around, a set of circumstances resulted in a situation where a knitted blanket was simply not possible… Luckily, I’ve acquired some new skills in the meantime, and so I still had a trick up my sleeve: sewing!

I came across the Lua Sleep Sack pattern by total chance, just as I was mulling over what on earth I could make for the new baby fast enough to be ready for him when he comes out. It was mentioned on a blog I read ocasionally, and which normally does not feature baby patterns, it was available for purchase and printing online, and later it even turned out that the pattern author was Belgian! Some things are just meant to be. I wasted no time in buying and printing it, and then I plunged right in.

I informed two of my friends who are most experienced with sewing that I would need their help when things got tricky, and they were on stand-by with their phones. It turns out that was not necessary at all! This pattern is so well written and presented (StraightGrain used 40(!) testers) that you simply cannot go wrong. The instructions are so clever that they even warn you to double-check whether you have lined everything up correctly at those exact spots where you might be tempted to rush ahead and regret it later. I would highly recommend it to anyone, regardless of their skill level. The pattern pieces themselves are fairly simple, but sewing 6 layers of fabric together at certain points can be quite tricky (think main fabric+batting+lining x 2 for front and back of the sack). However, the author guides you through all the tricky spots, and every question that may pop up in your mind is answered. I had the whole thing printed, cut, and sewn together in one weekend. And I am really, really slow at sewing.

As for the materials, I found a lovely fabric in a local craft shop, and now that I did some internet research on it, I’m thrilled to see it actually turns out to be organic cotton! It’s a Cloud9 design, called Nimbus Navy. I looooove the design and I’ll definitely be looking into this company more for my fabrics. I also used a 100% wool batting, because it was recommended by the pattern and by the shop assistant, and also, well, because I’m a knitter and I don’t actually need anyone to convince me about the merits of wool over synthetics.

In conclusion, I am super happy with how this turned out and I hope it will serve little Toni in good stead. And in addition, it really whetted my appetite for sewing too – I want to make dozens of these now! Bring on the babies, 2016!

mousie goes for a walk and sends you season’s greetings

Remember way back when I knitted this toy mouse? I realised the other day that I never did get around to photographing him properly and showing him off! A lot has changed since I finished him – most notably I moved, and am now in a building which, at least for the moment, seems to be free of his flesh-and-blood relatives. I loved my old place, but so did, unfortunately, mice. Apparently the construction of the building was such that they could come and go as they pleased, and, as my last winter there was particularly cold, come they did. In the plural. There was a number of close encounters, and things got so bad that I eventually had to call in professionals. Luckily, that was just a few weeks before I was scheduled to move out anyway, so I could put the episode behind me fairly quickly (though I do still twitch at every unidentified sound). Now, a safe distance away in my new place, I am happy to display my knitted mousie once more.

And so last weekend I took him for a walk around the new neighbourhood…

He immediately checked out the best holes to hide in…

Tried to make some friends…

And complimented the neighbours’ Christmas decorations.

Happy holidays to everyone from Mousie and me!

where’s waldo hat

Some projects are exquisitely satisfying. It doesn’t even matter if it is something as simple as a plain hat, the kind of thing that even a total beginner could produce without breaking a sweat, sometimes all these little things come together in a project that make me squeal with joy every time I think of it!

Case in point: the hat a friend of mine asked me to knit for her boyfriend a few weeks ago. When I asked what she had in mind, she said she wanted a “where’s waldo” style hat, in other words: simple, close-fitting, with a pom-pom. She came over to look at my yarn stash, chose the colours, and I was set to go.

Already the choice of colours had me pleased as punch. When we were standing in front of my collection of worsted weight yarns, we were both drawn to the exact same combination. I tried to show her other options, because I didn’t want to push my preference on her, but it was clear that she was just as in love with it as I was.

Afterwards, as I set off to knit, I had a clear image in my mind of how I wanted this hat to look. But instead of looking for a pattern, I decided to improvise based on another pattern I knew well. I thought that would work to create the result I wanted it, but I wasn’t sure. Aaaaah how satisfying when it did work out!

Finally, as I was close to finishing, I started biting my nails, wondering whether I had enough of the contrast colour left to do the ribbing and a pom-pom. I did have some similar yarn in back-up, but it just wouldn’t have been the same. Imagine my satisfaction when it turned out that the amount I had was just right for a nice ribbed band and a pom-pom of the perfect fullness! So not only did I have all I needed to complete the project, but I used up every last bit of my yarn. Perfect destashing!

And there you go, a simple project that just tickled all the right spots of my knitting brain. Utter satisfaction. :)

What tickles you when it comes to knitting? What in a project makes you grin to yourself secretly as you knit away? :)

Details on how I made the hat on Ravelry.

a different kind of knitted gift

I organised a little dinner at my place this past weekend. It was meant as an early holiday get-together before everyone disperses to their home countries for the festivities, but as several of the guests had been unavailable on my brithday, the dinner somehow turned into a belated birthday celebration as well. A very dear friend of mine showed up with a cutely packaged parcel which I received happily. (After all, gifts are always fun.) But what was inside nearly brought me to tears.

A pair of home-made slippers. Hand-knitted. Specifically for me.

They are beautiful, and comfortable, and warm, and squishy, and just PERFECT.

My friend worried about handing them over, she was afraid I would notice the mistakes she had made, she went on about how she has been knitting for a far shorter time than me… I did not hear or see any of it. They were perfect. But it was more than that. What she gave me was not just a pair of perfect slippers. She gave me the experience of feeling what it’s like to be on the other side of the act that I rejoice in so much – knitting, in secret, a special something which is made just right for a specific person, with them in mind the whole time, through the planning, the choosing, the matching, and the making.

It was a magical feeling. Thank you, Mirna, for the best gift ever.

cascading scarf

When it comes to men’s scarves, I have an exceedingly simple recipe which gives a beautiful result. The only issue is – it is exceedingly boring to knit. Three-by-three rib for hours and hours (and hours) on end, anyone? The solution – add a small and subtle design element which will barely show in the finished product (to make it man-wearable) but will make the knitting process a bit more interesting.

Enter my idea of a “cascading scarf”. Now, this has probably been done before. It’s not exactly rocket science. But I had honestly not seen it anywhere, and came up with the idea on my own: interrupt the endless ribbing with a series of staggered cables, to give a sort of waterfall effect.

Here’s how it turned out.

I have to say, it looks exactly as I had envisioned it in my head, which is exceedingly pleasing! I couldn’t be happier with it!

The wrong side doesn’t look bad either.

And the best part? When worn, no one can even guess that this is anything other than the simplest of man scarves. Mischief managed!

If you would like to replicate it, my adjusted recipe is on Ravelry.