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.

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.

lost in blue

A look at my recent blog posts seems to show a slight obsession with the colour blue lately… I hadn’t even realised it until I started blogging again! But it certainly cannot be denied. I think one of the reasons must be this amazing colourway of Cascade 220 Heathers, which is officially called ‘Mallard’ though I nicknamed it ‘Midnight’ for myself (the colourway number is 2448, if you’re interested).

Yes, this is the same yarn as in my post from last week. I had bought a large quantity for an adult male sweater that I was planning, but those plans didn’t work out so I decided to play around with it for other smaller projects. So far I’ve done 2 toddler sweaters in it, and you’ll be seeing more of it in the future as well (I already have a hat planned out).

Cascade 220 Heathers embodies all my favourite yarn qualities: 100% wool without being too scratchy, worsted weight which gives beautiful gauge with my favourite 4.5mm needles, not too expensive yet very durable, comes in 100g hanks meaning that 1  ball of yarn can often last you through a whole project. And the colours, oh the colours. Heathered must be my favourite new word, an ever so slightly tweedy look which gives the perfect amount of depth and interest to a solid colour without any risk of pooling. Can you tell I’m in love?

What’s your favourite yarn? :)

Pattern: Odette Hoodie by Carrie Bostick Hoge

the trouble with sizing

Did you know that there are virtually no sweater patterns for the age of 3? I discovered this curious fact earlier this year, when trying to find a pattern for a friend’s toddler. As I frequently bemoan, I am fairly far away from the majority of the people I knit for, which means that, more often than not, I have to rely on standard sizing for my garments and hope for the best. So imagine my surprise when I realised, while perusing toddler patterns on ravelry, that I couldn’t find a single one which even listed a size for the age I needed! In fact, a typical sizing scale goes something like this: 6 months – 12 months – 18 months – 2 – 4 – 6 – 8 – 10 – 12 years. You may notice that odd numbers of years are conspicuously absent!

Turns out there are reasons for this: from what I could gather from the experts (i.e. parents and pattern designers), children either don’t grow too much between certain ages or their growth is so unpredictable so as to make standardised sizing impossible. You are advised to assess their size and see which of the measurements fit them better, the one for the age above or below them. As this was impossible for me (did I mention I also like to produce my knits as a surprise to the recipients?), I resorted to some other techniques.

In fact, I did a little bit of investigating. I compared the numbers for sizes 2 and 4 of my pattern, and it turned out that they differed only in the length of the body! Everything else was exactly the same for both sizes. Turns out kids don’t change much between ages 2 and 4 either! So, following this, I decided to knit the size 2 with 1 extra inch of length in the sleeves and body (i.e. length somewhere in between sizes 2 and 4).

The result? When the kid tried it on, he definitely had “room to grow”, to put it diplomatically. :) But he wasn’t swimming in it so much to make it unusable, and it will definitely fit him for a couple of years, so I’m calling it a win. :)

Pattern: Weekend Pullover by Andrea Sanchez (The design is like a child Cobblestone, which I love. The pattern is flawless.)

Yarn: Cascade 220® Heathers in colourway 2448 (This may be my all-time favourite yarn.)

gradients

I’m a little bit obsessed.

I found this yarn candy on a trip to London earlier this year. Even though I wasn’t knitting much at the time, this was impossible to resist.

It is a Pigeonroof Studios mini-skein set.

Apart from taking photos of it, I’m also dreaming up what lovely things I could make with it. I’m undecided between simple stripes or trying to blend the colours somehow… Any tips? Have you knit with gradients before? Aren’t they magical? :)

what are you reading these days?

There was a time when my blog reader included 129 subscriptions to knitting blogs alone. In the meantime, as many blogs died off, as I started knitting less, and as the very nature of blogging changed (less frequent posts, less commenting), my blogroll gradually shrank to tiny proportions. But now that I’m blogging again, I’m eager to (re)connect with more like-minded people again.

So here’s who I’m reading these days:

Tanis Fiber Arts – an independent Canadian producer of hand-dyed yarn. I’ve been following her for ages, and have recently finally ordered some of her yarn. The most scrumptious yarn porn you’ll find online.

Ysolda – a favourite from the beginning of my knitting journey, she needs no introduction. I’m thrilled that she’s still blogging. Often showcases interesting FOs made from her patterns.

Fuoriborgo – an Italian who was not knitting when I started following her (she is now!), but always has something interesting to say on wool, cooking and country life.

Knit The Hell Out – one of my favourite independent designers, when my hand heals I will knit aaaaall of her men’s sweater patterns. Her blogging style is informal and easily approachable, which I love.

Needled – a Scottish designer and, since recently, yarn producer. Often writes interesting, thoroughly researched pieces about the history of knitting.

Sazmakes – the most beautiful FOs. In between posts, I stalk her ravelry projects page for inspiration.

Sweet Sunday Stitches – a warm and calming thought on crafting every Sunday.

Yarn Harlot – the empress of the knitting world, I’ve recently read her books and my heart jumps with joy whenever a new post pops up in my reader. Take her advice on knitting and life in general, and thank me later.

And what are you reading these days? Any new must-read blogs you’d like to recommend? Do tell!