Saturday, December 13, 2014

Yggdrasil


Guys! I did a pompom hat! It only took me eight years of being a knitter to get to this point. I ought to celebrate this joyous occasion. Which I will by taking a large tree inside of the tree house, putting lights in it, and hanging tons of very fragile decorations in it. Oh wait. I was doing that already.

Pattern: Bough
Designer:Leila Raabe
Collection: Brooklyn Tweed's Wool People 6
Yarn: Rowan Kid Classic
Raveled here

I've wanted to make this pattern since it was published. I only got around to it last month, as a small, but more interesting knit after I'd done miles and miles of plain stockinette. Like most of Brooklyn Tweed's patterns, this pattern only has charts and no written instructions. While I wish they'd do both, is does not put me off from making their patterns.



I used Rowan Kid Classic for this project. Kid Classic is a yarn I never used before, even though it is one of Rowan's most popular yarns. I picked up a ball or two about a year ago, during a clearance sale, to try it out. I got just enough for a small shawl or a hat. The yarn is quite fuzzy so not the best yarn if you want clean cables, as the fuzzyness of the yarn does not make for the best stitch definition. Therefore the yarn drowns the tree motif a bit. If I where to make it again I'd probably use another yarn. All in all I'm not unhappy with the look, though.


Now lets talk about the colour! I don't know what it is about this yarn, or this colourway, but it changes every time I look at it. Seriously. It's not just me either, I've frequently mentioned it to my boyfriend, friends and innocent passerby and they all agreed (accept for the innocent passerby, he just looked at me dumbfounded...weird). The colour seems to change between dark purple, dark brown and black (okay fine, so it does stay within the darker colour segments, but isn't that more variation than you'd expect from one ball of yarn?).



The feeling of the yarn is a bit weird though. It doesn't feel very woolly, even though  the fibre content is largely wool. At the risk of being called a yarn snob, but knitted up if feels a bit plastic-y to me. Which is odd, because it has a whopping 8% of Polyamide (Lambswool: 70%, Kid Mohair: 22%, Polyamide: 8%). I simply cannot believe that it's the 8% that overpowers the all the rest. Perhaps it's simply something I have to get used to. In general I do not use a lot of yarns that have a mix of different fibres. The only ones I have used before have alpaca and wool mixed together, which to me seems different as they are both animal fibres so still somewhat related.

All in all I think the hat is quite a success. I've worn it loads of times already and it kept me nice and warm during this week's stormy weather!


Friday, December 5, 2014

Yokes



I know I said I was going to post a new finished project later in the week, but look what arrived at the Treehouse just before Saint Nick's to distract me!

I think many of you know how much I anticipated this book, and judging from the many voices in the Kate Davies Ravelry forum, I was not the only one. Yoke sweaters have been my favourite thing to make and wear ever since I started knitting, so when I heard Kate was goign to publish a book solely on Yokes I could hardly contain my enthusiasm. The book was absolutely worth all the anticipation. It is a bit more substantial than Colours of Shetland. The book contains essays on different aspects and perspectives on yokes. There are eleven designs included in the book, all yoke sweaters.
You can view the designs here if you haven't already.



The essays included are:
1.Why Yokes?
2. Greenlanders and Norwegians
3. Kerstin Olsson and the Bohus Yoke
4. The Shetland Tree and Star
5. Perspectives on the Lopapeysa
6. A conversation with Meg Swansen (On the legacy of Zimmermann)
7. Yoke Connections

The publication of the book was delayed for a week or so due to problems at the printer. Because of this, Kate had emailed everyone a unique code to download the e-book on Ravelry. Initially these codes would accompany our book as a sticker, but they were send earlier because of the delay. Kate and her team really went out of their way to make the delay as unnoticeable as possible.I think the team did brilliant. I downloaded the book to print one of the patterns that I wanted to cast on right away, but saved the rest for when my copy arrived in the mailbox. As far as books go, I much prefer paper as opposed to ebooks and kindles.

The book was signed, which was a lovely surprise. According to my boyfriend,
Saint Nick can arrange a great many of things and I should ask no further questions.

As expected, I love all of the designs and most of them I'd want to make at some point. Unsurprisingly the colourwork designs rank among my favourites. There are three design using lopi wool and three designs using Shetland wool, which are at the moment my favourite yarns to work with so I think I'm all set. My favourite designs at the moment are: Ásta Sóllilja, Buchanan, Foxglove, Cockatoo Brae and Epistrophy.



 I'm currently working on Foxglove. Progress, however, is slow as I've had little time to knit these past few weeks. I've worked a lot on university stuff and...this week I had a deadline for a rather important research proposal *gulp*. December and January is always crazy busy with lots of university work planned around the holidays. So I'm planning to reward myself by reading the essays in yokes tonight so I have them done before the real craziness starts next week.

I'm curious about your favourite designs! Have you looked forward to this book as much as I have ? (it's okay if you haven't!) Have you casted on for something already? Do tell!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

November Reads


Hey there,

I thought I'd try something new on the blog here. I mostly talk about knitting, sewing and craft related things on this blog, as that's what I'm very passionate about. However my other great love is literature. I think most of you know that I read quite a lot. My major, English language and Culture, is literature focused, and I read a lot in my spare time as well. I don't think crafting and reading is a very odd combination, as I know many knitters who are fond of reading as well. That's why I thought it'd be fun to try something with books on the blog. For now the plan is to do a monthly installment of the literature that I read each month, and we'll see how things get on from there.

First up, this month there are a lot of plays, specifically Shakespeare plays. My university requires that each student of English Language and Culture takes a course on Shakespearean plays and their context towards the end of their bachelor's. The "last leg of your study" bit is stressed here. The idea is that towards the end of your study you've mastered (at least to some degree) literary theories and historic events of the time as well are familiar with the early modern language and the context in which the plays were written. Therefore. understanding the plays and it's many layers should be less of a problem. I have to say that for me at least it really helped to get more meaning out of them. I'm not saying that I wouldn't have been able to enjoy the plays a couple of years ago, but the extra knowledge really helped with opening my eyes to the many layers that are in them. I'm not saying that everyone who wants to read Shakespeare should have a literary degree (absolutely not!) but the plays are more fun if you are at least a bit familiar with the context they were written in.

Now... onward with the plays. You join me at the end of the course, so at this point I've already read quite a bit of his plays. This month I read four plays, three of which were by Shakespeare and one by Ben Johnson.  I  read Measure for Measure, Macbeth and King Lear by Shakespeare and Volpone by Ben Johnson. First up are the Shakespeare plays.

Macbeth - William Shakespeare
A tragedy? Written by Shakespeare? As a reaction to the witch-hunts? A play that is believed to be cursed by actors over the centuries? Hand it over to me! Macbeth, or 'the Scottish play', is one of Shakespeare's famous works and  rightfully so! Possibly my favourite Shakespeare play. It blew me away when I read it, and I hadn't expected it to do so.
Plot: MacBeth, a Scottish Thane, rides home from battle with his friend Banquo. In the field they meet a group of witches, who prophecy some rather good fortunes for the two thanes. When the prophecies start to come true, MacBeth and his wife initiate a rather bloody game of intrigue and murder to 'help' the other prophecies to come true, including the one where the witches proclaim MacBeth 'King of Scotland'.
Things I loved:  I loved the witches. Seriously they were amazing. Macbeth's downfall rather complicated, as he constantly doubts himself and ultimately does it because of Lady Macneth's manipulation. This makes Macbeth a slightly more complicated character, instead of relishing in his evil, like for example Iago, Macbeth questions his deeds even before he does them. Finally there is Lady Macbeth who has got to be one of the most badass characters Shakespeare has ever written about. If you haven't read any of Shakespeare's plays, this is a good starting point. 
In Short: Must-read classic. Great story with a lot of suspense.

MacBeth and Banquo encounter the witches for the first time
Measure for Measure - William Shakespeare
This is one of Shakespeare's plays that is less well known, he wrote this play somewhere around 1603/1604 and it's written as a comedy, albeit a dark comedy. This makes the play very different  from the other two I'll be discussing. It's regarded as one of Shakespeare's 'problem plays'. Overall I really enjoyed reading this play, and think it's one of the more accessible plays.Often I like Shakespeare's plays not necessarily because they're rounded, closed narratives, but precisely because it leaves open room for unanswered questions. This play is no exception. It's a play that lays bare some issues, but doesn't solve them.
Plot: We're taken to Vienna, where the Duke decides to leave the city for a few days, leaving his nephew Angelo in charge of things. Angelo decides to enforce the laws in place much stricter than the Duke ever did. So strict, that many much more sympathetic characters fall victim to his rule. Soon enough we find out that Angelo is not such a do-goody as he wants the public to believe...and where is that Duke of too? 
Things I liked about the play: The complicated nature of the Duke, is he good? Is he bad? I like Isabella as a strong female character, even though in the end she's not strong enough to let the patriarchal world crumble. I like how Shakespeare uses Vienna to portray what was going on in London (in short: the puritans tried to ban everything that was fun for the public, this included brothels, but theaters as well). In general I liked how Shakespeare used the play to comment on the religious tensions that were going on at the time. I liked the complicated ending, because again, it raises a lot of questions about the Duke and his motives. Finally, I liked Isabella's silence, even though it is also an incredibly sad moment. I know that this silence has been interpreted differently over the time, but my favourite interpretation is that it represents a final form of resistance. What I did not like about the play was the moralistic tone, that sometimes is a bit too present.
In short: Great political analogy with a good story of it's own. Powerful female character and complex ending.
Ian McKellen as King Lear

King Lear - William Shakespeare
King Lear is Shakespeare darkest and gloomiest play that I'll discuss today. It has a devastating ending, and you should not read it when you're in the mood for something uplifting. Of all the mad characters Shakespeare has written, and that list is long, King Lear is probably the maddest. From the beginning of the play it's pretty clear that he has lost his marbles. I think Ian McKellen shows that really well in his depiction of King Lear of the 2008 film (side note, what is it about this guy that he has had a role in basically every Shakespeare play?).
Plot: King Lear is a mighty king. However, he's slowly (or quickly?) descending into madness. He's got three daughters, the youngest of which is closest to him. King Lear dictates that each of his daughters should inherit a third of his kingdom, but only if they can publicly prove their love for him...
What I liked: Perhaps it was because I had a bursting headache when reading this, but to me this was one of Shakespeare's least accessible plays. There was one character, the Fool, commenting about certain things happening in the play. The fool supposed to be witty, and enigmatic in his comments on the other characters, but I somehow it didn't come across to me.
In Short: A bit confusing with many Elizabethan in-jokes. However, a great story and perfect character development on the  Mad King.

Volpone - Ben Jonson
Portrait of Ben Jonson, Oil painting
So, you are in the mood for a comedy, with fable elements, from the Jacobean Era? Congratulations, we've got just the thing for you! These days Jonson doesn't ring a bell for most people, so it might be hard to imagine that this was one of the most popular and most performed plays of it's day. I have read other works by Jonson before, but never this one, even though it is his most famous play. It has humour, lots of it, but not in the same way as Shakespeare wrote comedies. I found, that at least for this play, it was a more accessible, perhaps lower form of satire, whereas Shakespeare is, most of the time, a bit more refined and because of that perhaps less accessible. While I did like reading the play, I preferred reading Shakespeare's work. Sorry, Jonson... you're probably sick to death of hearing this for the thousandth time.



Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell

Okay, so I'll finish this month's reading with something lighter and different all together. The book was recommended to me by a friend, and I picked it up when I was in need of some light, non academic reading.
Plot: We join Cath just as she leaves home for university. She has to cope with getting used to new surroundings, new courses and new people while at the same time she has to learn to let go of her old life, her dad and her twin sister. This is no small task, especially not for a shy, socially awkward girl who has a hard time of letting go of the things she is used to and trying new things. At the same time has to uphold her "secret life" as a well-known fan fiction writer on the internet, She tries to branch out with a creative writing course, which proves to be much more difficult than she imagined.
What I liked:
-The coming of age aspect of the novel. It is about this girl who goes to university and her growing as a person from her experiences.
- It was a coming of age story from an introvert's point of view. The social awkward situations were relatable.
-The writer's aspect and the exploration of fan fiction as a literary genre.
- The fandom around this "Harry Potter, but let's not call it Harry Potter"-series in-world.
- The romance story was cute,  though it never consumes the story. I felt that towards the end some of the other themes in the book were sacrificed for the romance plot, which was a shame.
 Overall I liked this novel, I flew through it in just a couple of hours. It's probably not something I'll remember for years to come. But that's okay, it's not meant to be that kind of book.

There were also quite some fanfiction bits included, written by the main character . For me they didn't add much to the story,and could have been left out.

So that was it for this month. I'm pretty excited about this new addition to the blog, but I'm curious to know what you think about it as well.  I'll be back later this week with a new finished project and next month with more bookish thoughts.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Puffin Sweater



There has been quite some buzz about Kate's new book. Soon, enthusiasm about Yokes will take over my knitting life, and I'll be temporarily blinded to any other news. Perfect time to show you my latest make from her previous book!  Puffin is my favourite design from Kate's first book. Initially, I didn't realise this. While I liked the design, it didn't really call out to me (or I was too dazzled by Ursula to notice). A year or so later I was innocently browsing Ravelry for some pattern inspiration and all of the sudden I was hit by the urgent need to knit this particular sweater. (What...? Don't tell me this never happens to you!) I couldn't shake off the idea of knitting this sweater, so I swiftly cast on. 



I played with different colour combinations, but eventually I settled for the original colours. The colours are what they are because of a reason, and the hint is in the pattern name: Puffin! The colours reference the beak and feathers of a puffin, Shetland's signature aviary animal. They are amongst the most beautiful, colourful and quaint birds I know. Though the puffin isn't an endangered species, their numbers have dwindled dramatically over the last century. By protecting their feeding and breeding habitat, the Scottish Sea Bird Centre works to protect these awesome birds and teach about them. I do have some other colour combinations stuck in my head that I'm really taken with, so I'm fairly sure I'll make this sweater again. 


Pattern: Puffin Sweater
Book: Colours of Shetland
Designer: Kate Davies
Yarn: Jamieson & Smith 2 ply jumper weight (fingering)



My gauge was way off Kate's given gauge measurements. I had to remedy this by changing the needle size and change the sizing according to my gauge swatch to get to the prescribed measurements. I was amazed at how quickly this sweater knitted up. Perhaps that has to do with how long my previous project took, but I'm really happy with the outcome. 



Hope you have a great week!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Shetland Yoke Cardigan for Autumn




Many months ago I blogged about the blue Shetland cardigan I found at a vintage clothing shop. Earlier this year I posted pictures from a Shetland cardigan I was knitting myself. Today I'm finally able to show you the finished garment!

This cardigan has had quite some setbacks. The projects was set aside when I went adventuring in the highlands. Later it was put aside again as I lost my DPN's and had to order a new set. Finally, when everything save for the button band was finished I ran out of yarn. Luckily I was able to order new yarn in the same colourway, but the package got lost in the mail. When trying to solve this issue with J&S, the internet thought it would be helpful to eat some of our email correspondence. So... Given all of that, I appreciate the miracle that the cardigan actually got finished at all.


Traditionally, Shetland yoke jumpers are both hand and machine knitted. The body is knitted on machine and the yoke is knitted by hand. I was quite surprised when I learned about this earlier this year. For a hand knitter, it is a bit odd to think about machine knitting as traditional. Kate Davies has done a cardigan in this traditional Shetland way of knitting for her forthcoming book Yokes. I'm keen to learn more about this way of knitting. My version is entirely knitted by hand, as I can't machine knit to save my life, but it is something I'd like to know more about.

Pattern: Hairst Cardigan
Designer: Sandra Manson
Yarn: Jamieson and Smith 2 ply jumper weight
 




The yarn is Jamieson and Smith 2 ply jumper weight, and it's the first time I've used it for a garment. After the package with all the yarn got in, I spent about a week admiring all the colours each time I passed the box. Jamieson and Smith sell this pattern in a kit. It came a bit short for me due to my gauge, yet the kit was very useful nevertheless. You get the pattern printed on durable thick paper (it kinda feels like a short paperback novel). With your order you usually get the standard colours, but if you add a comment to your purchase, you can get the kit in any colour you'd like.



Hairst means Autumn in Shetland dialect so I opted for colours that reflect this season. Autumn is my favourite season, and I've always liked autumnal colour palettes. This combination was meant to be. I haven't made a cardigan or jumper in this colour combination before, and I wonder how I've been able to live without it! The only change that I made, apart from the colour palette, was knitting button holes instead of using popper buttons.

Despite the few setbacks I enjoyed knitting this cardigan immensely. I can see a couple of more Shetland yoke cardigans in my future!

Nisse 



Thursday, October 2, 2014

Sweater surgery: The Chrismas Jumper


Sometimes, no matter how carefully you plan a project, no matter how much care you put in knitting the pattern, things just don't work out. I'm sure most of you have been in this situation before (if not...are you a knitting wizard? I want to be your sidekick!) Anyway it has happened to me before. Some long-time readers might remember my blog post about my Christmas jumper (if not or you can read about it here).


The shaping of this jumper came out all wrong. Instead of ripping it or throwing it away I held on to it, with vague plans to "do" something about it sometime. Well, "sometime" became this week and the "something" became sweater surgery. I did some major sweater surgery on two knitted sweaters. First I tried this on a store bought sweater to practise, and then on my Christmas Sweater. The problems with both were roughly the same, thought the Christmas Sweater had some side issues that I wanted resolve during the process as well.


What I did was the following: I opened up the seams. After the cutting open of the seams I was left with four sweater parts. Next I picked a sweater from my wardrobe of which I do like the fit and I traced the outer lines on the sweater parts. When I had marked out what I wanted to cut off I reinforced the stitches with a strait stitch on my sewing machine. I could have done this earlier, but as woollen knits don't ravel that much (and as I was going to cut a lot of fabric off, I didn't mind a little bit of unravelling), I hadn't done it earlier. Then I cut of all the excess fabric. Finally I sewed a zigzag stitch over the newly made edge of the fabric just to be sure.


Another thing that I did not like about the sweater, was the box sleeves.To get rid of them I simply cut of the box part of the sleeves. This was not a problem as the sleeves were to long to begin with.
Finally I sewed the  pieces back together. While the whole "cutting your sweater to bits"  might not be the most elegant solution to a knitting accident, it is definitely the fastest. I started and finished the whole business in just one afternoon. Its not perfect, but a lot more wearable than it was. I'm glad that I finally took to the scissors with this one. I think I really got the hang of it after this sweater, as I performed sweater surgery on a couple of more sweaters after this experience.

Well I'm glad I got my act together just before the start of the season. Have you ever cut into your sweater to modify or to save it from the back of your wardrobe?

xxx








Friday, September 26, 2014

Favourite Fall Sweater


At the beginning of  this week Andi wrote a blogpost, and asked her readers to share their favourite fall sweater and why. I thought this is a great idea and I've already been inspired by the sweaters I saw on blogs and on Instagram. I had planned on going back to some old sweaters and show you how they've stand the test of regular wear. I picked two of my favourite garments for this blogpost.


First up is my version of Fair Isle Yoke, from A Stitch in Time vol 1.This is  a vintage pattern originally published in Woman's weekly in 1946. I'm amazed how versatile this sweater has turned out to be. The sweater is made in fingering wool and short sleeves, which is common for vintage sweaters. Most garments, even when the pattern calls for short sleeves, I make in a long-sleeved version, yet the short sleeves in this one make it very wearable. Especially in the beginning of fall it's not cold enough to take the think, Icelandic cardigans out of the closet. I often wear this sweater over a dress or skirt, and when it gets colder I wear a lightweight cardigan over it.


The second pattern is this blue cardigan. It's actually one of those garments that I wear throughout the year, but in fall it rarely spends any time on a clothes rack at all. Rather than black or white, navy is my go-to colour: it seemingly fits with everything I have in my wardrobe. It's made from Alpaca wool, a delightfully warm fiber: You don't need a heavy weight yarn if it's made of alpaca. As this is one of the first garments I ever made, the yarn is Drops. I used to love Drops yarns very much as it's one of the few affordable and easy accessible yarn brands over here. Especially as at that time I didn't dare to order yarn 'from over the pond' yet. It's kind of funny to look back at a time where Jamieson & Smith or Old Maiden Aunt were distant strangers to me (Lord knows, those yarns and I are very familiar these days!)

This cardigan is only the second sweater I've ever made. It's really quite old and has seen lot's of wear, especially at the cuffs it shows. Because I've worn it so much, this is a project I'm considering to reknit pretty much exactly as it was, but before that I will probably keep wearing it until it literally falls apart...