Knitseason 2020-21

So, I‘ve finally finished my Emma Cardigan, and have cast on directly for another one. At time of writing, I‘m halfway through.
No one will believe that this really is a quick knit because the first one took me more than six months to complete. I spent ages waffling on how to put the pockets in (so chuffed about that bee-print fabric), then I just did it, only to spend more months waffling on how to close up the armpits.
A couple weeks ago, I discovered Søstrene Grene, a small Danish chain in Trier and brought home a sweater quantity of this soft pink bamboo-wool blend. Lana Grossa just put out their winter collection and this fuschia pink turtleneck vest (above, left) grabbed my attention.
Now that the weather is turning chilly, I‘ve started thinking about cowls, dickeys and vests to keep my throat and chest warm.

Kids are back in kindergarten and school, bringing home the sniffles. But for adults, one wrong sniffle or cough can be awkward out in public these days.

Stay healthy.

Nothing wild: swatching

A great many people hate swatching. I used to. Until I started to trick myself by telling myself that my time is valuable and spending a few hours getting gauge is a good thing.

I‘m a relatively slow knitter. It‘ll take me 6 weeks to knit a pullover. How heartbreaking is it to spend even half that time knitting, only to find that sleeves are too long, or yarn runs out because gauge was off? Playing yarn chicken is not fun.

So, I spent yesterday evening swatching for my Emma cardigan. And a good thing too.

Since going on that Fair Fashion tour, I‘ve been trying to be aware of which yarns I purchase. I got hold of this lovely Landlust Merino 120 from Lana Grossa, which is GOTS certified and has the Green button.

This yarn is amazingly soft. It is a chain yarn with a delicate halo, but still retains stitch definition. It isn’t a pain to unknit, and works almost as well with wood as with metal needles. But there’s a slight problem with German yarn systems. Surprisingly, for a culture which is so precise, the yarn system isn‘t. Basically companies will produce various yarns and then put a needle recommendation on the ball band.

On Ravelry, the yarn company says this is a Bulky yarn. The ball band says 7-8mm. The pattern says start with an 8mm needle. Lovely. Except, I wasn’t getting gauge.

I went down to 7mm (which is why I tend not to drink and knit, math and logic get wonky) and then up to 9mm. Feeling like a rebel going against the yarn company recommendations, I finally got gauge with a 10mm. The difference between the swatches is staggering.

Landlust Merino120 from Lana Grossa
7mm, 9mm, 10mm swatches

All three swatches are 20 stitches cast on (2 stitch borders on each side).
The larger needles provide a relaxed fabric. Just hoping it isn’t too stretchy.

Well. Time to cast on!

Iceland and Lopapeysa

 


Two weekends ago, I stopped by the Bücherschau (annual publisher’s Book exhibition) in Karlsruhe. Instead of the Book Fair in Frankfurt, I decided to stay regional this year. There was a mix of local and international books, but the event is much smaller, so it was possible to walk around, look at books, write down the names of books to order later on (an ever-evolving to-read list is a thing of beauty) and even sign up for one of the workshops. The Guest country this year was Iceland. 

891534F9-9C91-41B1-8582-DF7222EBE97ANow, ever since I dipped into Kate Davies’ 2014 book Yokes, which has a chapter on Icelandic knitting called ‘Perspectives on Lopapeysa’*, I’ve wanted to do some knitting with Lopi. So, of course, I took my knitting friend with me to a workshop on Icelandic knitting!

The workshop was run by Anna Dhom, who also works in a Icelandic Tour company. She had a lot of examples of her icelandic knits with her. Which were so inspiring. I’ll be putting a dress/tunic on my to-knit list very soon!
Let me confess, I learned a lot:

1) Continental knitters can knit insanely fast, especially when a workshop is ‘only’ 3 hours long.

2) Don’t spend too much time agonizing over colour choices, just get to the knitting, to use the time efficiently.

3) Do ask questions and pay attention to the demos. I completely missed the tip on weaving in ends. But I found a great Marly Bird video to catch me up.

4) Do carry an extra pair of needles one size up. Just in case.

5) Do carry an extra pair of needles in another material. Lopi wool knits up better on bamboo rather than metal needles. This, I finally figured out after the workshop had ended.

6) Do carry a tape measure with you, as lending it out is a great way to make new knitting friends.

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I am well-pleased with my headband. All that is left to do, is weave in those ends and sew in a piece of fleece or satin (otherwise I’ll be picking bits of Lopi out of my hair).

I definitely see more colourwork in my future.

 


Grèis by Kate Davies, Merla by Bergrós Kjartansdóttir, and Vormorgun Létt-Lopavesti by Védis Jónsdóttir both for Istex. Of note, several knitters have taken the Vormorgun pattern as the basis for making tunics/dress-length garments.

And maybe a trip to Iceland itself soon.

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Source: wegoplaces.me

 

*Interview with (French-)Icelandic Knitter, Hélène Magnússon.

 

Knitting Quiz: Good Fun

celestarium_audrynicklin
Celestarium shawl by Audry Nicklin

1. Share an image of a knitting pattern you love but would probably never knit.

See above. It’s just so mesmerizingly beautiful.
2. What is your favorite knitting technique?

Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind off.
3. Yarn: wool, alpaca, cotton, linen, hemp, silk, or acrylic?

At the moment, I’m loving wool because I’ve just did a workshop on Icelandic knitting. But I love linen for summer. And I’m keeping my eye out for new blends and new fibres: some folks in Italy are doing fibers out of orange. Very exciting.

4. Needles: wood, bamboo, metal, plastic, or casein?

It depends on the yarn you’re using. Lopi on metal needles, for example, is like walking through a bog in stilettos. 

5. Would you go on a knitting vacation? If yes, which country’s yarn shops would you like to visit?

Yes, I would. Either Iceland or Norway. 

6. Lace, fingering, sport, DK, worsted, or bulky? (If you had to choose just one)

DK. Doubled up would give some nice bulk, but held singly is still good for a summer garment.

7. Do you eat while knitting? If so, what?

No. I like to enjoy my food, then my knitting. I do like to have either a cup of tea or a glass of wine nearby though.

8. Speckled yarn: yes or no?

Ooh, yes, especially if there’s some glitter going on as well! Lovely! I made a shawl for a cousin of mine who was not well, and I think it helped! 

9. Favorite knitting slang word?

Knitflixing

10. Can you do anything else while knitting? Watching or listening to something doesn’t count.

Nope. I’m all about that mindful knitting! 

11. Favorite knitting pattern designer?

Right now, I’m feeling in a colorwork mood, and I really like Bergrós Kjartansdóttir and Kate Davies.

12. Favorite yarn brand?

Lettlópi by Istex

13. Intentional felting: yes or no?

Yes. I just made my first pair of slippers for felting this year. It’s very common here in Germany. Either knit for family, or pick up a pair at a local village market. They last about two years. It’s lovely to keep those toes toasty warm in winter.

14. Who taught you to knit?

My mum did. 

15. What’s your next knit?

 

I’m trying to finish up my Ankers Summer Shirt before casting on Julie Weisenberger’s Emma cardigan. I think casting on new projects while having WIPs still on the needles almost dooms a project to PHD (project half done) purgatory.

Thanks for this lovely quiz Alissa! Happy knitting!

Brexit for non-UK Knitters

 

I generally try to stay away from politics, really I do. These days, in what we call the Summerloch (the summer news hole), there’s not much on. American news is full of Mr. Trump and British and European news are full of Brexit and lately Mr. Johnson.

We crafters don’t live in a a little yarn bubble, so I thought I’d take a stab at what Brexit will mean for us.

Surprisingly,  there’s never been a better time to visit the United Kingdom, as a tourist, the fall in the value of the pound means one does get more bang for one’s dollar or euro (At the moment it’s roughly £1=$1.23/ €1.09). And I actually do know quite a few people heading off this summer holiday to enjoy Cornwall, Wales and the Lake District.

Of course, crafters visiting the UK may be tempted to stock up on yarn, textiles and the like due to the uncertainty which may be coming on October 31, when Mr. Johnson has said that the UK will unequivocally leave the EU. Your local yarn shop (LYS) may be stocking up too, so supplies may be safe for a while.

On the other hand, what happens to a small European companies sourcing yarn in the UK, but dyeing and marketing them in the EU? Will they have to source elsewhere?

If British wool producers stick with guidelines for Wool Sheep Welfare as set out by the International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO), it may not be too much hassle on getting UK wool brands into the EU. EU tariffs are some of the lowest in the world:  my basic search on the EU tariff database turns up 3.8-5% duty on Australian, Norwegian or US produced wool (containing 85% of wool or fine animal hair by weight).

I would anticipate a slight rise in yarn costs, but nothing too drastic. And the same for accessories. Granted the UK producers will have more paperwork to get their products onto the continent, so hopefully they won’t pass those costs onto us the consumers.

Finally summer

We’ve had a wet summer here, and I’ve been grinding away on my Prayer Shawl.

I’ve been wondering, how to keep my knitting Momentum going during the warmer months. And coincidentally, I came across an older article in the Oprah Magazine Archives about Tiffany Haddish, the American comedian and actress.

Tiffany-Haddish-Glamour-September-2018-Issue-Magazine-Fashion-Valentino-Cinq-a-Sept-ODLR-Gucci
Tiffany Haddish Sept 2018 Glamour

She’s a knitter – even going into adventurous territory of knitted Lingerie. So here I am, with my interest piqued…

My first question was why?

Well, firstly, you might want to see if it were at all possible. Or, you might want to try out vintage patterns, when hand-knit Lingerie – perhaps of the stocking, sock, or Camisole Variety. You might like the look and feel of handmade Lingerie, or perhaps you have that one skein of luscious yarn that you can’t bear to knit into socks, but isn’t quite enough for a Sweater.

lingerie_mcgowanmichael1Joan McGowan-Michael, says that “… hand-knitted Lingerie is hardly a revolutionary idea; it is simply one that is being revived.”

In her book ‘Knitting Lingerie Style’, she answers my second question: surely not wool?! She suggests “luxurious silks, linen blends, or easy care cottons… [chosen for] stretch and recovery, their shine, crispness, or simply their indulgent softness against the skin.”

This book is 12 years old, but some of the pieces are really timeless. The bra set, the slip and this Teddy on the cover are my favourites. I was pleasantly surpised that most of these pieces call for a 4.5mm/US 7 needles and DK yarn Held double with something sillky or soft.

A Lingerie knitter could go finer, with fingering or light fingering yarns as with

 

 

Images: Ravelry.com

Anne Hanssen’s She must be dreaming set, Amanda William’s Hush Chemise,  and Charlotte Kirkholt’s Louise set , which is at once modern, while harking back to sets like the vintage 2 piece Tailored Hand-Knitted Lingerie from Evelyn C. Palmer. Funfact: The neckline variation shown in the background, is called the ‘opera top,’ to be worn under slinky evening gowns.

 

 

I don’t always like her humour, but I respect the knitter in her, who went hardcore knitting that lingerie in wool, and I’m looking forward to when her film The Kitchen hits cinemas over here.

There’s this sweater…

OPUS Pullover Pebby
Pull Peggy from German label OPUS

Now that summer is done, and the kids are back in school, I wanted to jump back on and talk about this pullover and why something like this: classic forms and eye-searing, on-trend red could very well be my next big project….

But then a note popped into my inbox about Berrocco‘s cable KAL, and I had to take a look. So although Berrocco yarns aren’t available in Germany, it’s got my imagination off and running! What better way to kick off the knitting season, than with what I shoulda-woulda-coulda knit from Berroco’s extensive collection of cable garments.

Cardamom by the Berroco team has a lovely edge treatment that is rather eye-catching. I love the Art Deco feel of Norah Gaughan’s Auberon sweater, and the subtlety of Amy Christoffers’ cables in Champlain.

However, Cirilia Rose’s Aidez and Norah Gaughan’s Zazanna and Blish have been on my favorites list for just about forever.

And then there are some newer Berroco designs that are also quite lovely like Allison Jane’s Isthmus.

Isthmus by Allison Jane
Isthmus by Allison Jane

 

I’m a teeny tiny bit glad that I don’t have to make a choice about which to knit. I’m still not so sure about what I’ll be knitting this winter. As the weather cools down, I think I‘ll just ease back into knitting and see where it goes from there…

Wedding knits

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So knits for weddings? Apparently it’s a Thing.

So, in honour of Ms. Meghan Markle’s wedding to HRH Henry Prince of Wales, I thought we’d take a look at wedding knits.

Handcrafted wedding Dresses have been around for as long as there has been handcrafting.

 

Shirley Paden’s Lace Dress and the crocheted Chrysanthemum Gown by Chi Krneta (on a slight side note: Shirley Paden is an amazing designer – a designer’s designer. And her book Knitwear Design Workshop is a true knitter’ resource).

These days there are also wedding veils, wedding shawls, capes, capelets, boleros and shrugs, wristlets and the list goes on. (To illustrate, I’ve chosen clockwise from top left: Nicole Markley’s I Thee Wed fingerless gloves, Carol Feller’s Summer Affair, Louise Fitzpatrick’s Summer Rose capelet and Alison Reilly’s Wedding Canopy Chuppah) Often done in fingering or laceweight yarns, these pieces can and do become hierlooms for the families lucky enough to have such a  dedicated crafter in their midst.

Technically, anyone can knit a wedding item: ‘all’ that is required is time, patience, ability to follow a pattern and willingness to frog to correct any errors.  Would you knit for your or a loved one’s wedding? Or have you?

I hope you enjoy the royal wedding. I know I will. I’m inviting friends over for a viewing with champagne and finger sandwiches! And maybe some knitting…

 

 

Woolfest haul

 

There were about 26 vendors at Wollandia, but it seemed like more.

Even though sock yarn (ie fingering weight) is extremely popular here in Germany, I now get the feeling that the new trend (on top of Hand dyed and naturally dyed yarns) is socks with glitter?

I told Sandra from Farbenpracht, that you just can’t have enough glitter in your life. There is no way I would want to hide that in shoes! She even suggested the lovely Moonrise shawl pattern from Olga Buraya-Kefelian.

I found my Ultraviolet (every time I look at these skeins, I feel it in my Ajna!): The skeins from Filzlinge were by far and away the most Vibrant colours on Show. I realized that the yarns are single handspun, but the colours are so gorgeous, I figured that the Internet would teach me how to make it work: Charles at Knitmuch’s tips for knitting with fuzzy yarn.

 

Honourable Mention:

Lütt Wollhus on Facebook

How to visit a woolfest

 

So, I went to my first fibre Festival this Weekend: Wollandia. And it was awesome. It was an intimate (less than 100 exhibitors) gathering of independent dyers, Spinners and purveyors of other sheep-related goodness.  It was Wollandia’s first time too, so we had that in common! The organizer Erica Carnevale did an amazing job.

 

If this is going to be a yearly event, then I can definitely recommend stopping by if you’re in the Pforzheim area (any good sat-nav will get you there). There were independent dyers (whose names I only know from Ravelry and browsing Etsy or its German pendant Dawanda). And of course it’s great to be able to take the yarn into your hands before buying.

Tips for visiting yarn festivals:

  • Wear layers
  • Wear walking shoes
  • Take a friend – or make friends there -complimenting dyers’ work, collecting cards and having a chat always goes down a treat.
  • Beforehand – look at the exhibitor list and develop a strategy.
    • Do a full circle and have a good look at everything before starting to buy. Unless you plan to visit a specific vendor.
    • plan for emergencies: Enough cash on hand? the location of the next closest cash machine may be good to know.
    • have a plan for how to actually use those speckled or otherwise multicoloured skeins of yarn. (Skeinyarn’s tips on knitting with variegated yarns; Dana at Yards of Happiness is my inspiration to get more colour in my knitting life)
    • What’s the minimum amount of yarn that I should purchase? if I don’t have a project in mind?
  • Have a budget – look up what things cost in real life, so that you can recognize a deal on equipment if you see one.
  • Plan some breaks: At German events like this, there is ALWAYS food – cakes, waffles, sandwiches, even Flammkuchen.

Interweave’s Tips on how to shop at Yarn and Wool festivals.