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.

the home stretch

Old WIPs have been instrumental in my return to knitting (and crocheting). I have a few rather large projects which have been siting in a 70%-finished limbo for quite a while, and it was precisely that feeling of “oh they’re almost done, you just need to go for the home stretch” that made me feel empowered enough to tackle them (yes, empowered – the immensity of projects can be truly intimidating sometimes!). It worked for my beautiful sweater, and now it’s working for another, even bigger project.

In fact, at first glance, this seems like a tiny thing.

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But add a lot of tiny things…

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…and you get one gigantic, ever-gowing thing.

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When it’s finished, this will without a doubt be the biggest project I’ve ever conquered. That remaining pile of circles still looks a bit scary, but I’m so close now that I can almost smell the end! I can’t wait to show you the finished product!

the trouble with sock sizing

Here I am, sitting with my two favourite books on socks, both informative, educational, detailed, well thought-through. And yet, they are both utterly useless in helping me out of my conundrum. You see, I’m knitting socks for my mum, whose foot size is totally different from any of the feet I have close to me.

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And yet, the thorough introductory sections and the 38 patterns included in these two books all say the same: Work even until the foot is approximately xy cm shorter than the desired finished length. Assuming, of course, that you have the foot at hand and can therefore easily slip the sock-in-progress on and check them against your desired finished length. So what if you don’t?

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Is there a better answer than the only one that comes to mind now, which is try to eyeball it and keep your fingers crossed until December, when I plan to hand over loads of socks to loads of family members (as a surprise), all with vastly different foot sizes? Is there an obvious thing I’m missing? Or a magical chart somewhere on the internets that will tell me everything I need to know, if only I’d be bothered enough to google for two minutes? Help!

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p.s. This is another pair of plain vanilla socks knit from the toe up, in the magnificent
Ancient Threads Sockittome Select, one of my all time favourite sock yarns.

the socks that started it all

Here they are, the socks that reminded me that knitting socks is easy and that I love it.

For this first pair, I kept it simple and easy – the so called “plain vanilla” socks: all stockinette, no special features, letting the yarn tell its own story. For these kinds of socks I usually turn to Wendy Johnson’s Socks from the Toe Up book, which helped me make my first steps in sock-knitting and remains a trusted resource. While I have nothing against cuff-down socks, toe-up knitting can be really handy in certain situations, for example when you’re not sure how much yarn you will have exactly. You get the non-negotiable part of the socks (i.e. the length of the foot) knit first, and then for the cuff you can just keep knitting until you run out of yarn.

I really love that Wendy presents a number of different toe and heel techniques, and these kinds of simple socks are perfect for experimenting and finding your preferred option. For these socks I went with the short-row heel, which I think of as “the standard” heel type. The finished heel was fine, but I did find the process rather hard on the fingers (lots of tight wraps to pick up and knit), so it’s not my favourite heel type.

Further experiments in sock construction techniques to come…

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!