Case solved: Boot match found

Sometimes it takes a while to find the right match. Yes, I did carry the boot around in my handbag, just in case I found a snippet of time to stop in at my local yarn shop.

IMG_1792When I finally did, I didn’t have the boot, but I did have a colour sample taken using the ColorMate App. I brought home another skein of that lovely Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran, and two 50g balls of Cool Wool from Lana Grossa.
The Cool Wool was a closer match. So, the case has been solved.

Now all I need to settle with my knitting-bestie, is which boot sock we’re going to knit together.



Slow knitting: How to Read your knitting

Sheep Sorrel by Pam Allen in Hannah Thiessen’s Slow Knitting

I’m knitting Pam Allen’s Sheep Sorrel hat using Falkland Aran by Debbie Bliss in Claret. This is a soft, shiny organic wool, from a farming community in the Falklands. It’s a three-ply, with a good amount of twist, stitch definition, and has a good amount of loft (ie very springy and squishy) and elasticity.

The pattern is clearly and efficiently written, even including instructions on how to do the cables with and without a cable needle.

Why bother
You can knit faster. You know when sections change, and know what comes next. You can find (and correct) errors faster. With a recurring pattern, you reading your knitting means you understand what the designer intended, and you can actually let go of the pattern (which means portability). Many people often praise patterns for being easy to memorize. Reading your knitting means you don’t need to memorize at all.

Read the general description in the pattern introduction first. This will not click at first. But we’ll come back to that later.

Then look at the pattern section. Make a rough stitch chart if there isn’t one. (If there is, then skip to the next step).  It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be good enough for you to understand. The Sheep Sorrel hat has a 15 stitch repeat over 4 rounds.

Do a mini-swatch 
If you are a learning-by-doing knitter like me, making a swatch to learn a pattern isn’t such a hardship. Cast on the required stitch number plus 6 extra for a 3 stitch border on each side. Place stitch markers, so you don’t forget where your border sits.  Knit three rows (for a garter stitch/ non rolling edge) and then get going. Once you’ve done two or three repeat, finish off with with three knit rows and bind off.
I wouldn’t bother cutting my yarn. This swatch isn’t to be blocked, so it is perfectly fine to rip it out after, and knit it into the hat.

I definitely am not a big fan of swatching in the round, however I wanted to see how quickly it would take me to learn the pattern on the fly. I took me four repeats, dear Readers. In my defense, a glass of red wine was involved.

On the fly
Once you’ve gotten into knitting the pattern, exactly as written (a stitch marker after each repeat will help you keep your place), stop and have a good look at what’s on the needles.
Now is the time to revisit that general description and compare it to what you have before you. Sheep Sorrel seems to be about panels and mini-cables (actually twisted stitches, but hey, let’s not quibble). We can see that the garter and patterned panels alternate and are separated by columns of cable. We also see that each column of cable has a p1 before and after it.
Once I realized this, I realized that one type of twist was used per column. Some columns twisted to the right and others to the left. That meant I could undo and repair any twist that was incorrect (if something looks like an S, then it’s wrong). I left one S, because nothing in this world is perfect.
At this point, I knit another round, without peeking, to see if I understood the pattern. Once I had done that, checked, then made my corrections, I knew I could let go the pattern and continue the required length of knitting. I wouldn’t say that I’ve memorized the pattern, but I’ve understood the logic behind it: I want to keep my panels going, and the cables twisting the right way round.

Happy knitting!



Holiday impressions

Texture, stucture and pattern fascinate me 


Back from our family holiday in South England. I’m still ruminating on what I’ve seen and experienced over the last two weeks.

I visited the Balenciaga exhibition at the Victoria & Albert museum (more on that later), had a look at quite a few touristy things, ate a lot of Full English Breakfasts, visited botanical gardens, great houses, drank an impressive amount of tea (with and without scones) and noticed things.

Living out of a suitcase is more or less test-driving a capsule wardrobe.

Women in the UK wear more skirts and dresses (in general) than women in Germany.

Fast fashion means picking up a new blouse or three is as easy as picking up a pack of precut vegetables ready to be made into a soup, on the way home from work in a large metropole.

British food is loads better than it’s reputation on the Continent.

How were your holidays?

Stash: This was your life


The very act of bringing all my stash together made me realize that Stash Therapy can be a cool way of looking at life. First off, I had all this yarn tucked away in three different rooms, not including a container in the cellar. So bringing it all together, is also a bit of consolidation. I can remember, for the most part, how I came by each ball and skein.

I can see how my relationship with knitting took a turn from buying cheap discounter yarns, to higher quality, to organic wool. I can see the risks I’ve taken, trying out non-wool blends, linen, cotton, alpaca-silk.

You’ll see some knitted things in there as well. Those are things I’ve made, and am perfectly willing to frog them and reuse the yarn, if a more interesting idea pops up.

I’ll be doing a Stash Therapy challenge later this month with some Internet knitting galpals. So, I’m excited to have it all out in the open.

Next steps: unpacking and grouping them by colour.

Top 3 Tips to break the first sweater Barrier

For a long time, I told myself that I’d never be able to knit a sweater. And I couldn’t. For years. Apart from the various excuses I gave myself, I couldn’t wrap my mind around how it was constructed. Until I realized that I had to move the sweater from my Can’t Do List, and to the top of my To Do List, because it was holding me back from the things I wanted to knit.

3 Tips to Break the ‘First-Sweater’ Barrier

1. Try it in ‘small’ first


Knitting the TinCanKnits Flax sweater in the newborn size (for my neighbour’s new baby) helped me understand sweater construction in the round. And all in a weekend.

2. Set a deadline for yourself 

That baby sweater happened, because my neighbour went into labour, and I hadn’t gotten around to finding a gift. So it was make or break (for me personally, she didn’t know I was knitting).

imageTo help break the adult size sweater barrier, I signed up for a test knit. Nothing beats knowing that someone’s counting on you, to keep you on the straight and narrow. The advantage of a Test Knit or a Knitalong (especially a designer-run knitalong), is that you can ask questions for any bits you aren’t too sure about. Ravelry is great for this.


3. Reckon the time realistically

People say it takes between 4-6 weeks to make a sweater. I’d say, it definitely depends. It’s not just the general time one needs to knit a sweater, but if this is realistic for you (are you a fast or slow knitter?), your lifestyle (are you allowed to knit at work? Evening or early morning knitter?), the pattern (stockinette stitch sweaters tend to fly off the needles much more quickly than lace or cables).

I can’t knit at work, so I try to knit at least a row/round in the morning before I get going, at lunchtime and when I’m carting the kids around. I can’t knit too late at night, or after that glass of red wine in the evenings. So I’ll add a week or a few days to my expectations.


4. Trick yourself:

a) plan your project in the same way you would plan a small project. Get your needles, yarn, stitchmarkers, counters, and pattern together (an extra printout/copy that you can scribble on to mark your place). If you can, do it all in one go, so you don’t spook yourself.

b) do the complicated stuff early in the day: your willpower is strongest then.

c) tell yourself you can’t wait to get to do xxx (insert whichever part you’re working on) to help put yourself in the mood.

d) Karen at fringeassociation suggests knitting sleeves as swatches to get past second sleeve syndrome. This only works for bottom-up sweaters that are knit then seamed together. Still a cool tip.

e) read the pattern through and visualize what you need to do. Make a list of things you need to learn to do to for the pattern. Some designers include links to tutorials for special bits. I make marks on the pattern (big stars) to remind me that by the time  I get to a certain spot, I need to go look at the link for doing the m1L or twin stitches, or whatever.

What I’ve learned, is to keep going. Inch by inch, a sweater will take shape. Best of luck, and have fun!


(Photosource: my Ravelry project pages)

What I learn from my knitting

Knitting is something so simple and yet with intersting permutations and combinations, that makes it possible to keep learning, long after we learn those basics: knit, purl and yarnover.

I’ve learned to sit still. To accept that a journey may be long, but if I keep going, I’ll get to the last cast off stitch.

I’ve learned to let my mind wander, and visualize what my finished product will look like. Or take another mental pathway and visualize what it would look like if I did it differently.

I’m learning to get out on a ledge and taking a chance – with technique, colour, etc. I’m learning that I can make anything, and question if I want to.

I’ve learned that knitted things last longer. Because I want them to, and so I’ve learned to be more careful in choosing what I want to knit with. And also, to mend my knits.

I’m learning that I’ll never stop learning things through my knitting.

Three moms, or how I came back to knitting

I don’t remember exactly when I first learned to knit. I just remember very long aluminium needles and very red yarn. My small brown hands and the slightly larger hands of my mum teaching me to knit and purl. I don’t remember what I was knitting, or if I ever finished it. In all likelihood, I probably knit around for a while, frogged and reknit until I got the hang of it.
imageI’d like to think that she taught me to knit, so that I could get my brownie craft/knitter badge. But it may have been earlier. As I write this, it surprises me how intense I was about those brownie badges: I wanted to get all the badges I could. It wasn’t about competing with anyone else in our pack. I just wanted them badly. That fierce ambitious emotion is still attached to the memory. Needless to say, I did earn quite a few badges, and I was extremely proud of three badges: knitting, reading and the lovely one with the globe.


Quite a few years later, I was an exchange student in what I considered the place furthest away from home as possible. imageMy hostmom in Norway found out that I could knit and insisted that I take it up again. I guess to get me through the long winter. And so, I found myself, trotting over to the village shop after school to buy yarn and get started on a colourwork pullover. I don’t mind aging myself by telling you it was the Lillehammer Olympic pullover. From Dale of Norway.
I never did finish it. All the same, it taught me quite a few things about knitting.
1. Just start.
2. Keep going.
3. If you need help, find someone to ask, and just ask.
4. Of course you can do …..(fill in the blank), See rule 3. As Henry Ford once said, ‘Whether you think you can, or you can’t – you’re right.’
That sweater ended up back in Jamaica, at the back of my closet and eventually got donated or chucked out. That is my Great White Whale. The WIP that got away. The one I long to finish. But more on that another time.
There was another long break, until just before I had my first child. I got bitten by that nervous nesting bug, so I went and ordered a Debbie Bliss baby knits book and knit my way from front to back. For my baby, for friends babies. When my mother-in-law found out, she gifted me her mother-in-law’s needle collection. And so, I am now the keeper of the needles: in addition to my own aquisitions (mostly larger needles), I now have an unbelievable assortment of postwar straight and round needles and crochet hooks in sizes going down to 2mm and finer.
And that’s how I got back into kniting. How did you get into knitting?