I wanted to start blogging again, but wanted something fresh and new, to see me on. If you’re interested in still following my blogging, I can now be found at http://well-crafted.weebly.com. Hope to see you there!
The socks carry on (honestly, two feet? Two feet?!) so I will fill this space with something to cheer up both you and me.
My sister likes to make earrings as gifts, and some time ago, she gave me this pair:
Tiny sweaters, on the needle! I wore them to my knitting group last week, and took secret pleasure in knowing that my ears mirrored my hands’ work.
Hello, and apologies for the absence.
Let me show you my current work-in-progress:
I picked up some Sweet Georgia Yarn whilst visiting Santa Cruz, California. In my experience, California is blessed with so many good yarn shops; The Swift Stitch is a highlight (make the experience sweeter with a trip to the neighboring French bakery.)
The rich, emerald green of the wool caught my eye immediately. I should have had colors of the sea on my mind, though. I always find the ocean inspiring.
Despite the allure of big-budget action films, shopping malls, and video games, it seems that a trip to the beach is still a real treat, unchanged by any introduction of technology or pop-culture. By the sea, we all seem compelled to delight in the feeling of soft sand under our feet and salt water on our eyelashes. So very basic. So very satisfying.
The pattern I’ve chosen, Effervesce, isn’t very basic at all, but it’s still satisfying. The bubbling motif befits a wool once graced with an ocean view.
I think I had a very productive year. There is even an additional jumper that is sadly photoless, because I can’t get a halfway decent shot of it. True, my fair isle sweater was mostly knit in 2010 but put together in 2011; I justify adding it because I have a sweater that is half a sleeve from completion, that will be added to my 2012 total!
A few knitting goals for 2012:
1. Colors! I am in awe of any project that incorporates more than two colors. My color sense is seriously lacking, but I think it’s time to challenge myself and try something more complicated.
2. Make an Aran jumper. I have a few different queued and often “favorite” them on Ravelry, but have yet to make one of my own. One peek at Alice Starmore’s Aran Knitting in the bookshop the other day has rekindled my interest in the topic. Her patterns are lovely, but I really enjoyed her detailed and illustrated tutorial on creating different types of cables. She reaches a depth on the topic that is really rare in knitting books. I hope to pick it up at some point.
3. Knit a Jared Flood pattern. There are many I want to make, and I’m curious as to how his patterns are written.
4. Knit a pattern from Rowan 42, which I bought 2 years ago and still re-read for pleasure, but have yet to knit from!
5. My wardrobe is craving a few more pairs of hand-knitted socks.
Happy New (Knitting) Year, everyone!
I have been hibernating for quite a long while. University always manages to invade every moment of my life, not just in the hours spent revising, but more importantly in the hours spent thinking I should be revising. I find turning my course “off” to be quite a challenge at times. Although I reckon I deserve to spend my evenings relaxing and knitting after a full day cramming a lot of information in my head, somehow I can’t quite avoid the guilt associated with taking pictures of my knitting and creating a blog post about it. It takes a lot of time that I don’t think I really have.
But here I am. I’m outside the flat and the city, trying to accomplish something at the study room at my University. I just finished a spreadsheet on a terribly dull topic. I need to think about a bit of knitting to elevate my spirits!
The Winter 2011 edition of the Twist Collective was released a few weeks back. Typically, in the annual cycle of knitting publications, late Autumn and Winter editions are my favorite. Woolly knits and cold weather are obvious bedfellows, and designers seem to really dig into heavy cables and double-thickness fairisle patterns with vigor. As an added bonus, winter usually corresponds with Holiday gift-giving, and thus NEW YARN. I have been very good about burning through some of my stash during the past few months, but I wouldn’t say no to something to liven up the collection.
Here are a few of my favorite patterns from the collection:
There are so many options when looking for fairisle mittens, but I think the patterns for these really “pops.” A quirky Selbu/Aztec hybrid.
Beautifully feminine shape with enough details in the right places. Perhaps the cashmere is what has really caught my eye, but this looks like something that could be easily thrown on throughout the cold months, especially with longer sleeves. If I lived a life that involved holiday events, this would have been nice to make for the Christmas party season.
In a DK-weight yarn, this would be heavy enough for winter, and pleasingly open. The lace pattern is sort of art deco, as well.
My initial attraction to this cozy-looking pullover was the neckline. I actually own something very similar, complete with two over-size buttons at the bottom half of the neck, and I wear it most evenings when I’m in my pajamas. I pictured my own version of Bellevue without the textured body; however, the more I look at this, the more I think the texture is actually really flattering. If I chose a busier heather-style yarn, I would consider stocking stitch instead. Otherwise, knit as is 🙂
Also, kudos to Twist on the horse-filled photo shoot! My 12-year-old self is all in a tizzy!
I am terribly late to the fall edition of the Twist Collective, but I thought I’d highlight a few interesting articles and talk about my favorite patterns. The Twist Collective is one of my favorite pattern resources (I love my Mary Jane sweater – The Third Year) and fall is my favorite season, so what a lucky duck am I!
Admittedly, I normally skip the articles in pattern magazines, but the Fall 2011 issue features a really handy tutorial on seams: In Praise of Seams. Although I love patterns that minimize the use of seams (and try at all costs to avoid setting in sleeves) I try not to restrict my choices based on the most comfortable construction. Essentially, if I want to make it, I will! However, I’ve never mastered sewing together knitted pieces, and the PDF looks like a good first resource next time I have to graft or 3-needle bind-off.
Also very interesting is Carol Feller’s overview of the Irish wool industry, “The Last Mills Standing.” A lot of points can be extrapolated to the Scottish wool industry, especially regarding climate and fiber production:
The outfitting of Irish houses in wool sweaters gives some insight into the country’s damp climate—another factor that impacts the wool industry. Thanks to the Gulf Stream, temperatures in Ireland are mild, but its northern location leaves it lacking in sunshine. This contributes to the famously fair skin of not only the Irish people, but also Irish sheep. Pale sheep, it turns out, grow darker fleece. The wool takes on a yellowish tinge, which is why traditional Irish yarn is much closer to cream (know as báinín in Gaelic) than white. Combine the damp climate with breeding methods that are little concerned with the fineness of the animal’s coat and you get a thicker, coarser fleece. Irish sheep are a hardy lot!
I love Scottish wool, and try to knit with it as much as possible, but my experience with Irish yarn – in the form of Donegal Tweed – has been equally pleasing. I’m looking forward to investigating the mills mentioned. (By the way, the author’s newest book, Contemporary Irish Knits, has some beautiful patterns as well!)
As for the patterns, I am in love with the coats and cardigans.
I want very, very much to knit a full jacket. This mammoth undertaking raises two concerns (1) I will likely become bored before finishing, and thus only ever have a partial jacket and (2) In the very wet climate of Scotland, a full wool jacket, while warm in theory would not be practical. The first issue is between me and my own sense of motivation, but the second concern does actually put me off the idea of knitting a full jacket. Should I change my mind, this pattern is really smart, and would suit a more tweed-y yarn, like my beloved New Lanark, very well. Hmm.
The back reminds me of Deco but the military-style front is what I love most. Also what a fantastic neck line! The torso looks shaped and the sleeves comfortable. I really love this.
Oh dear, I’m afraid that this would be a very expensive cardigan for me to undertake. Firstly, the only yarn suitable for something so lacy and clean would be very luxurious and fine. Secondly, to wear this, I would have to invest in some pearls and redecorate the flat with Laura Ashley’s new fall line. Still, I might someday come into a windfall.
The view of the Gold Gate Bridge in the background may make me a bit homesick and nostalgic, but the jacket is cheerful and bright. The white seams at the shoulder and along the sides are really clever, as well. This would easily become a much-used part of my wardrobe.
Like the pattern above, this one has an ‘all-weather’ appeal to it. Oh, and I’m a sucker for pockets. I’ve actually queued this one, and I can’t wait to see other finished versions of it!
Hello. It’s been awhile, and there’s no point pretending otherwise.
Blogging is a terribly indulgent activity, and apologizing for what was probably an unrecognized hiatus seems equally narcissistic. Still, if you missed me, I am sorry I went splitsville.
The last few months of my life have been pretty awful, to be honest, due to a few key personal problems and a lot of trouble with my University course. Because I haven’t been myself lately, and pleasant moods have been sparse, there was nothing nice to write about, and no energy to do so anyway. Life felt like knitting a jumper in strict stockinette stitch: although past experience told me that the finished product would erase that feeling of struggle, and I would be left with a sense of pride in my accomplishment, I couldn’t shake the drudgery of slowly building a garment; nor could I tell how all that hard work might shape itself into something bigger, and useful. I haven’t finished this particular ‘project,’ but somehow I found a way to keep adding stitches despite every part of me wanting to throw in the towel and hide everything away.
My knitting has not been very pleasing of late, anyway. After a string of simple scarves and mittens around the New Year, I started several ‘big’ projects in fine yarn, and I haven’t finished anything in awhile. Briefly, I paused to make a shawlette for my mother’s birthday, but otherwise I have been diligently working away at a jumper in 3-ply, a shawl that I eventually decided needed to be in a larger size, and a pair of socks that have been ripped back and re-worked several times. My own (over)ambitions and occasional bouts of perfectionism mean I have successfully taken the fun away from the one area of my life that I pursue simply for the sake of pleasure.
Everything will be completed eventually, if I am just patient and persistent, so I have decided to not start anything new, regardless of any promise of the thrill of a quick finish. Currently, I am trying to focus entirely on my Ishbel, which – and I am committing knitting sacrilege now – I have not enjoyed making. The pattern, although pleasing when done correctly, makes no sense in my head, and as a result, my 400+ stitch rows have been fraught with difficulty, as I spend as much of my time ripping back as I do knitting forward. Being so far into the project, I would be much happier to carry on and finish the damn thing, versus frogging it and accepting defeat.
Besides, finishing this shawl will be cathartic for me. With every large project I’ve made, the era of my life which corresponded with its genesis ends up knitted into the item, like a coded history that I read each time I see it. I share secrets with my hand-knitted cardigans and jumpers. Sometimes the story recorded is a sad one, but most chapters are filled with happy pages. The fable of my shawl starts rather darkly, but I’m looking toward a happy conclusion.
As I write this, my shawl is sitting next to me, failing to knit itself. Sometimes, after another unsuccessful row that needs to be re-done, I feel as if I have somehow forgotten how to knit. I think I need to remind myself that I do know how to knit, and I’m not too shabby at it. Also, perhaps I owe myself a little holiday soon. Rather than break into my stash of lovely, smooshy, colorful sock yarn for the series of shawls I’ve been planning, my next item to go on the needles should be a nice, chunky hat, or the like. I’ve had enough challenges for a while.
My father has become very interested in genealogy lately, which has led him to perusing my grandparents’ collection of photo albums. During one expedition, he found this picture, which he scanned and sent me:
This is a photo of my grandmother, taken sometime in the late 1930s or early 1940s in the Netherlands. I love seeing a picture of my Oma as a child; even more remarkable, though, is that she’s wearing her first knitted sweater, which she made when she was about 10 years old. When I talk to people about my knitting, very frequently fond memories of one’s granny knitting enters the conversation. I don’t have any memories of my Oma knitting during my childhood, so it’s lovely to have evidence of this connection we share, and to remember that knitting is a tradition that crosses borders and generations.