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

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? :)

detective work

Today, I have a lesson for you, my friends. It’s very simple: enter your yarn data into Ravelry. Your full yarn data. Including the colourway (and yes, even dye lot, as useless as it often feels). Why, you may ask? Well, because you may find yourself in the following situation:

It’s been a year since you purchased the yarn. You’ve made a few projects with it but they were mostly improvised so you didn’t bother noting the colourways down. Who cared anyway? You had so much of this stuff that you didn’t know what to do with it. And then, because you had so much of it, you might decide to start a blanket with it. And then (do you see it yet?), you will most certainly (and completely unexpectedly), run out of it. The shop where you had bought it originally will not carry the same colour anymore (because it’s a small shop and they order things haphazardly, and even if you asked them they probably wouldn’t know what those two shades of gray were that they happened to have last winter). The yarn company in question will offer 9 (nine!) different shades of gray all of which will be very similar to the one you (don’t) have (anymore). This will make it impossible to tell from the photos alone which one you need. Especially when you take into account the fact that the same yarn looks different in different photos (see for example the colour 8400 here and here). And displayed on different computer screens. And then all you will be left with will be detective work and guessing.

After a while, you will place your order, from two different yarn shops in two different European countries (both different from the one you currently live in), cross your fingers, and hope for the best.

So there you go, my friends. Enter your yarn data into Ravelry.

p.s. Special thanks go to Cascade’s website for their great overview of yarns and colourways, and Laine et Tricot for their useful note on the shades of Cascade grays (also, they sell the yarn much cheaper than any of the other European shops I found, too bad they did not have the colours I needed!).

p.p.s. I’ll keep you posted when they arrive…

my Zauberball disappointment

aka: “It’s not my job to spend half my knitting time untangling yarn which I paid for”
aka: “If a company cannot wind their balls properly, they should just sell yarn in skeins”

Etc. I have many other raging and steaming titles that I came up with during my hour-long fight with a Zauberball last night.

I was sitting on my couch peacefully, knitting along on my vanilla sock. And all of a sudden I found my yarn in a horrible tangle. I untangled (which took a while) and continued. Only to come upon the same situation a few moments later. The way the yarn was wound into the ball meant that as I progressed, every now and then a section of about 20 loops around the ball would simply come off the ball, and then promptly proceed to tangle itself up into a mess that even the most zealously playful kitten couldn’t create. Again. And again. And again. Trying to take matters into my own hands, I decided to rewind the ball using my ball winder. Well, there my troubles only began. The same thing kept happening, and the yarn would get into such a mess that I had no choice  but to cut off the knot and start over with the next section. The biggest surprise came when I reached the centre of the ball. Well, I don’t think that thing really deserves to be called “centre of the ball”. It was just a bunch of yarn (5 grams at least), just kind of shoved in there, following no order or method. You can see it in the lower right corner of the photo above, pretty much as it was when I discovered it. At the end of this nightmare, this is what I ended up with, from what was supposed to be a single 100 gram ball of yarn.

For all their beautiful colours and cool combinations, I have no respect for a yarn company that sells yarn like this. For a yarn that I had been looking forward to trying for years, I am bitterly disappointed. They will certainly not be receiving any of my business anymore.

the little deeds that make people awesome

The guys who work in the men’s clothing shop next door to my house deciding (completely spontaneously) to sign for my packages when I’m not at home, so that I don’t have to go to the post office to pick them up. (Which meant that when I got home in the evening, I could immediately play with the yarn I had been expecting impatiently!)

:)

The colleagues at work buying me some cooking equipment as a gift and then spending several minutes explaining that they didn’t want to buy yarn because they don’t know much about it and they wanted to spare me from receiving something crappy that I wouldn’t be able to use.

:)

The stitch-n-bitch friend understanding that, when I wrote Can I please borrow your yarn swift some time next week? I really meant I really really really want to wind yarn right now. and arranging that her boyfriend hands it over within several hours even though she is halfway across Europe at the time.

:)

https://i2.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8199/8244144048_6b62001ebe_z.jpg

You are all simply AWESOME. I hope you know it.

(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.

space robot

Space Robot is my first knitted toy! It took about three weeks to knit up, stuff and seam. But the moment it was done, Space Robot started having a life of his own.

First he went for a swim. I came home from work one day and immediately noticed the smell of wet wool. I had no idea where it was coming from, until I wandered over to the kitchen and saw that Space Robot had dived from the counter into the sink and was taking a dip in the leftovers of my morning cereals… He got a proper talking-to, and it seemed to have worked – he avoided swimming afterwards (at least when he could get caught!). This is his guilty face below.

Then he started experimenting with music. And like adults often do, I regretted my actions and started wishing he would go back to swimming. Do you know what space drums sound like when played by a rebellious young toy? If you don’t, trust me on this one – you’re better off for it.

Finally, he tried his hand at modelling. The girls that came with it were nice, but he found them a bit too empty-headed. In the end, he decided it wasn’t quite for him.

And then he announced that he would be packing his suitcases and flying off to Croatia within two days’ notice. I was devastated! Ok, we had had our differences, but he was still my favourite little chubby Space Robot! I would miss him so much. And worry about him too. He told me not to fret and gave me a biiiiiiiiig space hug.

And then he was off. Just like that. I was sad, but also proud. He was going off to make his own place in the world.

He writes to me regularly. He says he’s very happy. He’s taken up house with my nephew and they are working together at a Lego construction site. In their time off they do math homework. And he’s even learning to play football… (I say he’d make a great goalie!)

Space Robot was knitted without any modifications as per Ysolda Teague’s Trinket pattern. I found the knitting to be quite a bit fiddly, but absolutely worth it. The construction is very inventive and it will take you through a large number of different skills on a fairly small project. I had never done intarsia before, for example, and here I had a chance to try it out small scale. I recommend the pattern without hesitation. Some additional technical notes and links to tutorials I used can be found on my project page.

I used Cascade 220 Heathers because I had some lying around in nice colours. I am really a fan of this yarn and think it may be perfect for knitted toys. Before stuffing the toy I wet-blocked it, a process which works wonders for this 100% wool yarn. It helps the stitches blend together, thus making the toy surface smoother (and softer for children’s hands and cheeks) and closing up any holes where the stuffing may leak through.

The photos were taken by a wonderful friend of mine.