Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Skiff Hat

 I have a new knitted project to show you, a hat this time. This was my project for when I was working on my midterm papers. I wanted something that was interesting as well as small, which wouldn't be a huge commitment for me, so that when the paper writing business was over, and I had a little more head space, I could jump right into a new project.

Pattern: Skiff 
Designer:Jared Flood
Yarn used: Malabrigo Rios
Associated reading: Kiss of the Fur Queen - Tomson Highway

I went with the Skiff Hat by Jared Flood. It's been a while since I did something with cables, and I had been meaning to do something with cables again for a while. I've even been queueing some cabled jumpers and cardigans.Skiff has been on my radar for a while. I love the cable pattern on this one, especially on the slouchy version. I've seen many versions out there which I really liked so it was about time I made one myself.

I made some changes to the pattern. While browsing through the Ravelry projects, I noticed that many commented that the hat comes out quite big. Since the pattern comes in only one size,  I knew I had to tinker on it a bit myself. This was especially pressing because the yarn I used, Malabrio Rios, tends to grow quite a bit after blocking. I used smaller needles for the ribbing, but more importantly, I left out a whole pattern repeat. I did five pattern repeats, instead of six. I did this for the ribbing as well, so I cast on only 100 stitches. I shortened the brim as well, ribbing until it measured 6 inches.


I've haven't knitted any Brooklyn Tweed Patterns for a while. Partly because, while I liked  some of the designs, none of the recent publications really ticked all of my "Fantastic, lets cast this on right away" boxes, at least until the new Wool People collection they released last week. Moreover, in January Vatmoss hit the knitting world,  which meant prices for patterns rose for European knitters.  Most patterns only had a slight price increase, but Brooklyn Tweed patterns, which already was a bit on the expensive side, increased with 1 to 2 euros per pattern, and in some cases even more. I have two minds about this, because on the one hand I think designers should get a fair compensation for their hard work, on the other hand I don't think that a 2 euro tax increase is going to do that. In any case, it meant that Skiff, for a while at least, was priced at 10 euros, which I find quite a lot for a hat pattern which comes in one size. Luckily, the prices have gone back to their old prices since a while. I don't know why, but maybe the prices went back when Ravelry started handling the Vatmoss for the patterns.

I took these pictures a week or two ago, on the coldest day of April. It was a fickle day, it was cold and there were showers of rain, hail and even some snow. Just before sundown, we had a dry spell and we quickly headed out to take these photos. When I started knitting this hat, I had expected that the weather might make taking pictures a bit odd, however I expected it to be to warm, rather than a bit on the cold side. ...

Friday, 29 April 2016

Graduation Dress

Last week I had my Bachelor degree ceremony. Officially I've had my degree for a while, and I've already started my Master's level, but due to an endless stream of paperwork, and lots of stuff that needed to be organized, it took until now to have the official ceremony. Now I'm not entirely sure how this is in other countries, but getting your academic bachelor is a Big Thing over here.

The ceremony itself turned out pretty neat. There were lots of my (former) teachers, who know me quite well personally, as well as one of my closest friends at uni, who was in exactly the same boat as I. I got to talk about my research in front of an audience and a giant microphone stand which clearly was not made for people with gnome ancestry, and everything always feels a lot more official and celebrative when you get it printed on fancy paper and wrapped in a silver-coloured cylinder (I suggested a cylinder of pure wool to wrap the master's degree in, we'll see what they'll do with my advice).

I have to admit that beforehand I wasn't really feeling it, partly because in general I'm just not really into such formal things, but mostly because I guess I'm already a bit past that moment. I felt a huge burst of happiness the moment I knew that I had my degree, but because I've already moved on with other studies, a ceremony seemed slightly redundant. So to pump myself up for the event I did what I often do; making something for myself to wear.

I started brainstorming as to what I wanted a week or two before the date, so that, in true procrastination style, I started the weekend before and had to force myself to finish it in two days.  My main criterion was that I wanted the dress to reflect me; something that would be in line with the type of clothing that I wear.  I debated which pattern the use for a while, and in the end made another version of the Seda dress. I was in two minds about it at first, because there is also a part of me that just wants to try as many new patterns as I can, as I still have so much to learn in sewing. But there is also a lot to be said of the advantages about finding and subsequently sewing up many versions of dresses that tick all the boxes. Then I pictured Seda with a floral main fabric, combined with a neutral yoke. I really couldn't get the image out of my head. Another pro of this route was that, because I was pressed for time, it was a good move to go with something which I knew was going to fit me well. The Seda dress I made for Christmas fits me exceptionally well, just out of the envelope. So with that in mind I started cutting the fabric for this one. Because I had made it before the process was really speedy, and I finished it without a moment of stress.

The fabric used for this dress is cotton poplin. For my previous Seda the main fabric was heavy and thick, as I made it with winter in mind. The poplin used for this dress is a lot lighter, and transforms the feeling of the dress. I'm very chuffed about the bias tape, which I made from the neutral fabric. I'm now considering whether a bias foot is a good investment, does anyone of you have experience with one?

 I'm very happy with the finished dress. It feels very 'me', and when I finished it I basically couldn't wait to put it on, and was sad(-ish) to have to wait until the end of the week to wear it. I guess this is a pretty good indicator to whether the project is a success or not. Aside from simply how the dress looks, I think the construction of this dress is the best I've done so far, and after having to spend frustratingly long weeks on another (yet unblogged) dress, it felt really good to be able to follow that up with a speedy project. We took these photo's on the way back home from the ceremony, so that explains the somewhat jubilate mood in some of these pictures.

I cannot promise this is going to be the last Seda dress. The pattern is just so versatile, it suits me very well. I have to confess that I've already been thinking up different fabric and colour combination, but I'm first going to explore some different waters before returning to this one.

This project has really motivated me to make a list of sewing projects that I want to make soon. I felt so happy and proud when I stepped up on that platform to get my degree in my self made dress. Not pictured are the knitted cardigan and shawl I wore when I was there, so my outfit was (almost) completely handmade. This doesn't happen all to often: I mean, I wear my knitted projects all the time, but this is a whole new level for me, and it made me feel chuffed. I have a tendency to wait for special occasions as an excuse to sew something (case in point), but I'm now looking forward to start sewing more and more everyday wear clothing.

I hope my next blogpost will follow at a shorter interval. I do notice that the better weather and longer light make it easier for me to take project pictures when needed, even though we've had snow (!) and extremely low temperatures this week. Although I do worry about the climate, it was a good excuse to bring out ALL the knitwear again! I hope the weather is treating all of you well,

Happy Weekend!

Friday, 15 April 2016

Afmaeli Lopapeysa

Hello world! What can I say? I enjoy my master courses tremendously, but they do take some work.
 Lets show you the last thing I finished before mid terms: my Afmaeli sweater. After I finished my Jenny at the Fair I was a bit lost as to what to knit next. I was a bit restless in my knitting, so to speak. I started a couple of things, but nothing felt quite right and was subsequently able to keep my focus. This hardly ever happens, I have a to-make list of unspeakable length. When I'm at the tail end of a project, I start planning about what my next project is going to be. This time though, I didn't find my flow in any of the projects I decided on. I decided to turn back to an old love, one that always feels right; the lopapeysa.

Designer: Védís Jónsdóttir
Yarn used: Lett Lopi
Associated reading: Shell Shaker by LeAnne Howe

The pattern, Afmaeli, was designed by Védís Jónsdóttir in celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Istex. It is one of the most popular Icelandic sweater patterns on Ravelry, probably in part because it is a free pattern, but mostly because it is just a really attractive design. For the yoke, two options are given, one with a normal uni colour background, and one with a multicoloured background. I opted for the latter, because I never say no to a good rainbow coloured yoke.

I used a black heathered Lett Lopi for the main colour. I had it in my stash for quite a while, initially for a different sweater. As any knitter with an addiction for icelandic wool, love for colourwork and a fondness for yoke sweaters will readily admit, you tend to have a stockpile of scraps and leftover balls from previous sweater. This is excellent, as this helped

I really enjoyed knitting this lopapeysa, which was a relief after my initial indecision. I loved, loved, loved working on the yoke. I mean I always love working on yokes, however this one is special. I have yet to see a colour combination in which I doesn't suit this sweater, but I especially like the yokes with the multi coloured background effect.

I did make some changes to the pattern. For one, I included shaping. This is not included in the Afmaeli pattern itself, but it is easy to add. I copied the waist shaping from the Grettir pattern, as I'm really pleased with the shaping there, and it fits really well. I did not use the short row neck shaping from Grettir's pattern. I know most people really love them, but they don't always work out for the better for me. I think this sweater fits better in the shoulders and in the back than my Grettir sweater, which makes me wonder whether I should just give up on short row neck shaping all together. Another thing I changed was make the yoke less deep. I'm quite short, so to keep the proportions and not end up with a comically deep yoke, I skipped some of the yoke rows on the chart. This was another easy change as they include quite a lot of main colour rows in the chart, before you are supposed to start the colourwork. I skipped most of these rows. Finally I changed the stitch count on the sleeves, so my sleeve would have a complete pattern repeat, instead of a miss-matched one, which the original pattern ended up with.

 Spring weather has arrived in these parts. While the pictures don't suggest it, the forest is still quite barren, but there are little signs that this is about to change soon, and the first new greens are creeping upwards. Sunny weather will soon take over. This means that this sweater won't get many outings until the colder weather returns, but when it does, I'll make sure that this one will be worn a lot. Enjoy your weekend,


Friday, 18 March 2016

Birthday plunder

 My birthday was last week.  With a stroke of luck I had a day off, which I would normally spend working on uni stuff, but not on my birthday. Instead I spend the day unwrapping presents, eating apple pie, sticking tiny parasols in all my food, listening to my cats sing me birthday songs, knitting and even did a bit of sewing in the afternoon (HA sewing...on a weekday!). Some of you surprised me with gifting me a pattern on Ravelry (♥♥♥).  As you can tell it was pretty grand!

You know a knitter has just had her birthday if the treehouse is littered with fresh new yarn in its aftermath. I though you might enjoy hearing me coo over some of my new yarn babies.

 First up, Blacker yarns. Blacker yarns is a British company which uses a lot of natural colouring and local fiber. They develop a lot of breed specific yarns, and are on the forefront of promoting these breed specific yarns. I received two different yarns: One from the blacker breeds range, which are rare breeds and limited editions. The one I have is Pure Llanwenog, which as the name suggests is a breed from Wales. One of my goals was to learn more about different sheep breeds, and knitting with them seems like a good way to start.

 The other Blacker yarn I was gifted is Westcountry Tweed. A yarn I had been eyeing for a while, as I'm always on the look out for new tweed yarns to try. The yarn is spun from a mix between Teeswater and Black Welsh Mountain wool.

This Faroese yarn is called Siri. It's an incredibly versatile yarn. These here are from their 1ply and 2ply series. The black book in the top picture is a collection of traditional Faroese stranded stitch patterns!

You probably already know Jamieson's Spindrift, but the details in the colours never stop to amaze me. These colourways are some of my favourites.

Socks Yeah is the yarn range by Rachel Coopey of CoopKnits. It's an extremely soft blend of wool and nylon, and the colours are so pretty! It is a more traditional sock yarn so I can further develop my sock knitting skills.

So, although all the pictures of Edinburgh Yarn Fest are mouthwatering, it helps having a mini-festival over here in the Treehouse!
Nice weekend to all of you!


Saturday, 27 February 2016

New equipment

The Treehouse sees a coming and going of gnomes, elves and pixies, but a recent arrival has made such an impact on life here at the Treehouse that her existence cannot not be mentioned here. Admittedly, 'recent arrival' is not that recent per se, as I wanted to make sure I knew her well enough to be able to properly toot my horn about her here. So without further ado: It's about time I introduce you to my new sewing companion and/or workhorse.

I have a brand new overlocker!

I owned an old overlocker before, which I inherited from my grandmother. However, it was quite an old and broken machine, and even though I spend many a day trying new things I never got it to work properly... or, at all, to be honest. I took me quite a while to realise and admit that it wasn't going to work and that I had to give up on it. I spend a couple of weeks reading up and researching new machines to see what was out there. I didn't plan to buy one for a while, but I wanted to have enough information for when I saved up enough for a frivolous sewing escapade.

Now I know you are thinking  "If you didn't plan to buy one WHAT is that brand new overlocker doing on your sewing table?" Good question! I had nothing to do with it's arrival and am just as baffled as you. I received her as a  Graduation/Christmas/Yay-you-survived-a-year-of-Big-Things gift from my boyfriend. He hadn't said anything about it, and I only noticed something was up when there was a huge cardboard box on the dinner table instead of the spaghetti I was expecting. I couldn't believe it when I opened the box, back in December. I couldn't wait to get to work on it, my Seda Dress was the first thing I've made with it.

It is surprisingly easy to use. You wouldn't believe what a difference an actual working machine makes! The insides are colour coded, and it comes with a very clear manual. The treading of the machine is still the most tedious part, but it is made as doable as possible. Also, one of those neat things you never realise about overlocking: an overlocker trims the edges of your fabric, but what comes off, has to go somewhere, right? HAVE NO FEAR! A strange, fabric-trims-catching net-like thing is here! Really, this thing is surprisingly useful. 

It came with white thread added, but in addition I still had my grandma's box spools of thread. Whites, blues, black, greys and the reddish brown you see in the picture. It feels great to sew with this machine. In comparison to regular sewing, this feels so very stable. I'm still learning a lot, but I feel quite confident working on it. I've worked it on different kinds of fabrics: woven as well as knits, and it makes such a difference! The finishing become a lot neater and the construction feels much more secure. I've started a new project recently (not telling you what until I've finished it!), and very happy with how speedy the process is.

 I hope everyone is enjoying their weekends. I'm so happy with this machine, now the only thing I need to really get sewing wardrobes full is someone to fix me a time-turner. Anyone?

Friday, 12 February 2016

Matryoshka at the Fair

Well hello there first post of February! I'm sure I've already seen this on other blogs lots since the start of the new year, but can you believe how fast 2016 is flying by? My birthday is in less than a month, ack! I have been adjusting to a new semester, with brand new courses. The workload is brutal, but the courses are amazing. Which helps a lot, when you have to pour so much of your time, and yourself in things. Some of them basically have my name written all over them, and I had been looking forward to starting them for months. As you can imagine I'm very pleased that so far they are living up to my expectations (huzzah). That said, I'm glad the weekend is here and I can catch my breath somewhat for the new week. Enough small talk though, nobody is here for my uni ramblings. Instead let's have a look at my latest make!

I have a new cardigan to show you! The project has been a long time coming, but I found she was definitely worth waiting for. The pattern is Jenny at the Fair by  Mary Jane Mucklestone. When I saw this pattern it was love at first sight, I wanted to cast on right away! But...since I tend to have that with more patterns *ahum* it had to wait a while. But now it's done and ready! The pattern is part of a collection, 'the Rhineback Sweater', edited by Ysolda Teague. Initially the patterns were only available in this collection, but later they were released as individual downloads. Admittedly I was not as sold on the other patterns in the book as I was on Jenny at the Fair. Many designers worked on the book, the patterns reflect this and are very different in style.  Most of them are not garments I could see myself knit or wear. So instead of buying the book, I waited for the single patterns.

 The yarn I used is Drops Nepal. Incidentally it is the same yarn I used to knit my very first sweater with, which I still wear and which holds up pretty well. Working on it, I sometimes had these waves of nostalgia, thinking back on how much has happened and how much my skills have improved since that first sweater way back in the day.

The cardigan is knitted in the round, with a steek at the front for the opening. I use steeks regularly in my knitting, but often with a sticky yarn, such as Shetland or Icelandic wool. Drops Nepal is a smooth yarn and I was eager (and a bit wary) to see how well it would hold a steek. I've steeked superwash yarn before, so I wasn't too scared to put me off doing it. Steeking smooth yarn is entirely possible, but I will say that I'd recommend reinforcing before cutting. Once you start cutting the yarn next to the cut, that isn't reinforced, stitches will swiftly disappear before your eyes. I steeked, and knitted the button band before blocking. With these types of cardigans it is impossible to block them to certain measurements before the steek.

The cardigan was as fun to knit as it looks (which is a lot!). I loved working the colourwork borders and breezed trough them while knitting. The colourwork motives made for very addictive knitting and I couldn't put it down before knitting "just one more row". The cuff and border have slightly different patterning, presumable to make the chart and numbers add up, but it gives extra interest to the patterning.

The colours remind me of Matryoshka dolls (In Dutch we call them 'baboesjka', an all together different Russian word, for some reason). The bold colours, particularity the combination of dark blue, red and yellow brought them to mind while I was working on the cuffs. My grandmother gave me such a doll when she came back from her travels in Russia when I was about eight years old. The doll has lived on my shelve ever since, looking down on my knitting progress.

I think this cardigan will get a lot of wear. Even though it is a heavily patterned cardigan, the colours are those that I wear a lot. I think the navy and red will tie together with the rest of my wardrobe quite smoothly. I own a similarly (but store brought) heavily patterned cardigan which I have worn to bits, this was the final nudge to start this pattern. It has certainly wet my appetite for more all over colourwork projects. First I have to finish what I'm working on now, and then I'll see what my knitting hearts wants to make next. Might make it into my summer project, when I'm not sucked up in uni work.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, 29 January 2016

What's looking so alien?

When I first began to inhabit the Treehouse, I soon found out I was not the only inhabitant of this dwelling. I shared the Treehouse with a small tribe of Gnomes, whose civilisation, in a sort of time paradox, had only recently reached the Iron Age. Somewhere along the years, the Gnome-people developed changing rituals and identities, at one point even taking to worshipping an awe-aspiring Monkey God. Maybe it was because of the strict guidance of this deity, the absence of natural enemies, or the comfortable living amongst cakes of yarn, but for whichever reason, the Gnomes never developed into a very war-like people. Indeed, it is safe to say that few of the gnomes are eager warriors at all.

Maybe that is why human film industry has proven so incredibly incapable of predicting the gnomes' first contact with aliens.

There is really quite little to say about the whole business, as all those involved considered the matter to be rather amicable and uneventful. Although the extraterrestrial visitors were received with all due hospitalities, including the proper banquet, the composed civilities the gnomes offered their visitors did not extend beyond the welcome that was usually reserved for the gnomes' neighbours, or the mail man, or pixies, fairies, wood trolls and other such mundane visitors.

Obviously, this all changed when the Gnomes turned on the Baumholm Evening News on their tiny television sets: after all, the results of the elections in the Faroe Islands where expected, and events like that concern gnomekind all over the globe. In a harmless, but certainly not consequenceless, instance of cultural miscommunication, the aliens understood this as the start of a ferocious technology-based bragging contest. Seeing as how the Gnomes had not yet upgraded their television from antenna to cable, the contest turned out to be a short one. The space-age technology imported was shiny and magnificent: sleek, white armoured suits, made of a material that was not quite metal, nor quite plastic. In the boots, rocket thrusters propelled the unearthly space-gnomes to a distance above the Treehouse floor, where they hovered and displayed magnificent images of their home planet on holographs emitted from the wings of the flight suits.

Most surprising was a little ball, which the aliens placed on the floor. To be more precise, that which attracted awe was not the ball itself, but what happened after it was activated. It started first to glow, then to pulsate. Bright images flashed through the room, and a gust of wind blew everything out of place. Soon, the whole Treehouse started to change. Clutter and dark matter was vapourized. Colours changed. The natural light seemed to become amplified. Huge projections materialised high upon the walls, changing -along with the colours of many details in the Treehouse such as the doorknob and the windowsills- on the mere whim of a change of collective will of the gnomes. The shelves in the right corridor were ordened, and replaced into futuristic hologram-cabinets sliding soundlessly out of the left wall.

It is said that afterwards, the aliens left. The gnomes now vehemently claim that yes, they did politely offer the aliens a place to stay for the night, but the aliens refused even though they promised to cash in the offer at a more convenient moment. 

This is one version of the story of how Whatsinatreehouse changed its looks. In all honesty, it's as unreliable as any part of the gnomes' history, legend and mythology. Nevertheless, I've learned never to contradict the gnomes when they are telling a story, as in any case, it often makes a far more interesting narrative than that of a young lady and her friend, neither of whom know how to code, sitting at a desk, trying to make a template work on her blogger account. Whichever version of the story you prefer, I do hope you like the new look.