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?


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...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Nay, this be art!

There was lots of hustle and bustle in the Treehouse. The Treehouse Gnomes had assembled themselves on one of the highest branches in the Treehouse, from which they had the perfect view on everything that was going on in the Treehouse. However, the Gnomes had not assembled in all their great masses just to enjoy the view. No. They were there to watch...and to come to a joint decision about something that had just arrived in the Treehouse.

Little voices filled the air. "Do you think she knows?" asked a Gnome with a red pointy cap. "Is this normal?" "Is this how they look like these days?" one of the oldest asked. "Has she finally gone truly barking mad? asked another. "Perhaps she is secretly colour blind?" suggested another. There was one Gnome, (sporting a beret, a painfully fluorescent tunic and a particularity neatly trimmed goaty) who saw his chance. Standing amidst his fellow Gnomes, he proclaimed: "Nay, this be ART".

As the fluorescent fellow was trying to explain the concepts of abstraction, impressionism, romanticism and most importantly, progressive rock, he lost most of the audience. The Gnome-civilisation of the time had not yet invented art, and the more conservative of them were of the opinion that it could wait until after they'd invented steam power, thank-you-very-much.

What had actually arrived in the Treehouse was a knitted cap. It's a Sheep heid hat knitted by my mother! Although she's been a knitter for a long time, she's only recently picked the craft up again. She finished this hat a while ago, and I wanted to share it with you because I really liked it! The pictures are quite summery...because...well...I took them in the mids of summer and in freakishly hight temperatures. The pattern is by Kate Davies, and the yarn is Shetland wool. It might be noticeable that my mum and I do share similar tastes! When my mum started the sheep in these colours, I was a bit sceptical (much like the gnomes) but I love the end result. I hope you like it too!

So I  have been back at university for about three weeks now. It's been reasonably okay, but when I wrote my previous blog post I had not anticipated quite how busy the first few weeks would be.  I had two presentations in the second week of being back at uni, one of which is hugely important towards my final grade for that specific course. Well...talking about getting off to a good start...


Monday, September 1, 2014

Summer's end

The end of summer is drawing nearer and nearer. The first signs of Autumn have already made their appearance. The first leaves are falling, the ground has been taken over by fungi (and more gnomes than ever, I suspect) and the forest grounds are littered with acorns. I love this time of the year for many reasons, and I think it's the best season to be out and about. Unfortunately saying goodbye to summer means saying goodbye to summer holidays as well.

Today the academic year started and I am back on the grid. I'm not going to pretend I'm glad about saying goodbye to all that knitting and sewing time, but I guess it had to end someday.  Summer holiday seems to have flown by faster than ever. Perhaps because this coming year has got a lot in store for the Treehouse. The good, the bad and the scary.  One of the things that will happen is me writing the most important thesis to date (you can place that in one of the categories yourself). It's always strange the start of a new year after the summer holidays. It seems so so far away until the actual day it all starts again, when everything swings back to normal again and it (almost) is as if summer holiday never even happened and you only laid down pens and papers yesterday.

Well.... Let's get busy.

Xx Nisse

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tantallon Hat

The end of summer is drawing nearer and nearer. The first signs of autumn have arrived. The sunny weather has made place for overcast, windy weather. We've had quite a few rain showers, followed by deceptively bleak sunny weather over the past week as well. This kind of weather is typical for the transitional period from summer to autumn where I live, though usually it doesn't set in until the end of September. The past few days I've spoken to lots of people who hate this period in the year, but personally I love it. Autumn is my favourite time of the year. Really, it's the perfect time to show my latest make, which is particular suited to this time of the year.
Pattern: Tantallon
Designer: Kate Davies
Yarn: Hebridean 2ply by Alice Starmore
Soundtrack: Privateering - Mark Knopfler
Raveled here 

It's Tantallon by Kate Davies! This is the first design by Kate that I can remember wanting to knit. It took me a while, as you can see, and I've knitted other designs by her first, but I couldn't be more pleased with the result. I wrote my opinion about the yarn in my previous blog post. I like the colour combination, it's very suited to autumn. I read on Ravelry that some people had problems with the sizing of the hat, resulting in the finished project turning out to big. This made me a bit weary about the project, however since my gauge was spot on I decided to go on with it. I don't regret it a bit, as the hat fits perfectly! Thought because of the sizing issues I was a bit more careful with blocking as I usually am, because I wanted to help the stitches set without making the hat bigger.  

The hat is part of the Hats of Midlothian collection, and the pattern itself is named after a beautiful castle ruin near North-Berwick in the Midlothian area. The castle is from the fourteenth century, and it makes Kate's own project photo's a delightful sight. When I was in Scotland I was very close to the castle, though ultimately me and my boyfriend wandered of, taking a walk along the cliffs instead. It did spark a slight debate between me and the boyfriend on the topic of pronunciation: which of the syllables of this castle's name is stressed? If you know do tell!

All in all I'm really pleased with this project. I look forward to wear this when proper cold weather arrives here! How are things in your part of the globe? Enjoying the last days of summer, or like here dipping your toes in Autumn already?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Starmore Yarns

I recently completed my first project knit with Virtual Yarns Hebridean 2ply, Alice Starmore's yarn brand. I'm a big fan of Starmore's books. I was not around when she first published her work, so got converted when she republished some of her work a few years ago. Someone of a local knitting group I used to go to brought along Starmore's Fishermen's Sweaters the moment it was republished. It was one of those mind boggling moments when I first browsed through the pages. My mind was blown by her colourwork designs, and her cable designs. The wealth of information she provided on aran, fair isle and fishermen sweaters fed my initial interest in these traditional crafts.

The recent project was my first time knitting with Starmore's yarn, as I only recently found out that she had her own brand. I had read about it in her books and vaguely remember registering it when I read it, but somehow it didn't really hit home, or somehow I convinced myself that it probably wouldn't be available to people outside the UK. Ha...what a mistake on my part!

It's a wonderfully bouncy yarn. It's one of the stickiest yarns I've knitted with, which makes is perfect for stranded knitting. It is slightly thicker and stickier than Jamieson and Smith 2ply jumperweight but not as sticky as Lopi (the stickiest yarn I've ever knitted with). The yarn is a tad bit softer then both of these yarn brands as well. If you're looking for a yarn that's suitable for colourwork, but find J&S or Lopi too scratchy, you might find this a good option. I find that weaving in the ends with sticky yarn is less tedious and more enjoyable as well. I had to weave in a lot of ends for my project and didn't find it as tedious as I normally do.

Each of the yarns and each of the different colourways has a unique story about the inspiration for the colour. Usually, this is story inspired by Alice's Hebridean background. The Gaelic fishermen community Starmore grew up greatly inspired her work. For example, if you buy a skein of the yarn, you get a small card explaining Selkies, or describing a certain type of moss.   Personally, I'm a sucker for yarns with a story and I love those details.

 Lastly, the colours are magnificent. Starmore is, in my humble opinion, a colour magician. She somehow managed to capture the landscape of the Hebrides in her yarns. I couldn't stop marvelling at the rich colours when I first saw the yarn in person. Alice Starmore made an appearance on BBC's Coast in one of the previous seasons, in which she talked about and demonstrated dyeing with natural dye materials. Again she made evident how concerned with the landscape and the history of the Hebrides she is and this passion is reflected in both her designs and her yarn.

Aside form the Hebridean 2ply yarn I used, she sells Hebridean 3 ply, the same yarn but in a worsted weight and yarn called Scottish fleet, a 5 ply fingering yarn, specifically made for fishermen sweaters. So lots of options left if I feel like trying different yarns!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Fox and the Bicycle

I made this fox for my brother at one of the gazillion gift giving occasions this month. I don't know how, but somehow almost everyone I know -or, at the very least, everyone in my family- has their birthday in that one month between the mid of July and the mid of August. I suspect the birthday gods have a laugh over my inability to come up with so many presents in such a short time.
I decided to knit my brother a fox, because he happens to be a huge cycling and cyclo-cross fan (as long time readers may have gathered by now). One of the biggest stars in both sports is Marianne Vos. She's reigning World Champion in both sports, won the Giro Rosa, the biggest event in female cycling, and won La Course last week, a one day course finishing at the Champs Elysee alongside the Tour de France. Her name, Vos, is Dutch for Fox, so my brother now has a mascot to wear to the cyclo cross matches.

Pattern: Mini Fox
Yarn: Jamieson and Smith 2 ply Jumperweight

 The mini fox knitted up super fast, I casted off the same day as I casted on. In fact I finished it so fast that I almost forgot to blog about it, had I not conveniently stumbled upon the photos just now.
 It's the second time I made the mini fox pattern. I made a Fennec fox a couple a years ago but this time I stuck to the traditional red fox colours. The red fox is the only fox that still lives in these woods and we've stumbled on one during evening walks a couple of times.

I'm extremely pleased with the colour. Jamieson and Smith 2 ply jumperweight has the perfect foxy colours. I used colourway FC38 as a main colour, because that's what I had in my stash, but I think colourway 122 would probably work as well.  Speaking of which, the yarn to finish my Shetland Cardigan has not arrived yet. Though it should arrive any day now, I started to get a bit impatient so I've casted on for something to keep me occupied in the meantime. What are you working on this summer?