Friday, 27 September 2013

Netherton



Once upon a time, while I was a merry essay writer (I am apparently always a merry essay writer, cause guess what I'm working on this week) I started this gray cardigan. It was my easy project, you know the type: that one project that you have laying around, doesn't require much thinking and is your go-to projects when your attention is needed elsewhere but you still want to knit, queue in the essays, exams or when socializing with friends.I finished this cardigan ages ago...AGES! I'm still working my way through my backlog of finished projects. I guess it's a better problem to have, than having no stuff to blog about at all.



Pattern: Netherton (from Pom Pom Quarterly nr 1) 
Designer: Lydia Gluck
Soundtrack for this project: The Smiths - Panic


Fist things first: sizing. This cardigan runs a little large. After I made this I read this on other project notes on Ravelry as well. If I were to make it again I'd make it in a smaller size. Honestly, though, I won't make it again. It's not that I dislike this cardigan, not at all. But it's not really a stunner either.
In the pictures I wear it with a button. I plan on replacing the button with a sweaterclip or shawlclip. I've scoured Etsy and found a few gems, but if you have some nice ideas as to clips and where to get them, please share!


The yarn I've used is Drops ♥'s you #3. That's one of Drops' special yarns, it's made of 50% wool and 50% Alpaca. The most distinct feature of this yarn is that it's thick and thin spun, though the range is not super big so its not a super dramatic effect. It creates a homespun look, which is nice and friendly, even though I'm usually not really novelty-yarn gal.

I didn't make any earth-shattering changes to the pattern. I omitted the rooftop pattern on the sleeves to make it an even faster project. I noticed I did not feel like putting much effort in a simple project, which is why I usually have a side project with either lace or colourwork to keep me stimulated. Another reason why I didn't bother with the rooftop patterning on the sleeves was because I think the yarn made it interesting enough and rooftops there would perhaps be lost amongst the thick-and-thin.



As I finished this cardigan and took photos of it quite a while ago, these photos still have that summer feeling. They will probably the last as we're now well into autumn weather over here.  
My next post will be about the Westknit KAL progress. I try to get that posted somewhere in the weekend, but since I have a long presentation and an essay due next week it could be a little later. In the meantime, the clues keep coming in so I'm racing to keep up. (And having fun with it!)

Best wishes,

Xx Nisse

Monday, 23 September 2013

Dutch Traditional Ganseys



Long time followers of this blog will know that I live in the Netherlands (not to be confused with Holland!). The Netherlands is a nation with quite a bit of craft tradition, most people from the older generations grew up with crafting being an important skill and it was taught at schools (and some schools still teach it). Some of you might recall some chapters of Debbie Stollers famous Stitch in Bitch books in which she describes this culture of her Dutch ancestors. Me, being very interested in all history related things to the craft, was always a bit bummed that there was no book or something published in the Netherlands that had to do with this craft. Not anymore though!

Those of you who follow me on twitter, might remember a series of gush tweets back in August when I found out about the publication of this book. I was really anxious to find out whether this book could meet the standards of the likes of Gladys Thompson and Mary Wright, who wrote great works on British heritage knitting. Last week the book fell on my doormat, I was quite surprised as when I pre-ordered it the publication date was set at late September.  Well let me tell you, it was worth the wait (and the gushing!)



The book:
First the numbers: The book is about knitted guernseys/ganseys, or as most people know them: Fishermen sweaters, from the Netherlands. The 176 pages of this book include 60 sweater patterns from 40 Dutch villages. Originally the book was supposed to be slightly smaller (as demonstrated by the covers above), but mere weeks before publication they found out about and added some extra patterns.


The book is published in both Dutch and English. In Dutch it is called Vissertruien and in English Dutch Traditional Ganseys. Both books have the exact same patterns so nobody has to feel like they miss out on something. The book is packed, PACKED, with old photo's of Dutch fishermen and their families (and sweaters!) and most of the patterns in the book have been reknitted and were photographed on a model as well (the few that aren't have show the old photo's and knitted swatches). This is a huge advantages this book has on the books of the previous named authors as they don't have these updated photographs. Before I was a bit afraid that the newly taken pictures would either dominate the book and the old photos which make this books so special would be left out, or that none of the patterns would have been knitted by contemporary knitters pre-publication at all. Luckily neither of those happened and it's basically the best of both worlds!

The book is divided into five parts, the first part discusses how the book came about and  the history of  Dutch coastal towns, Dutch fishermen ├índ their Ganseys. I was immensely looking forward to this bit and it does not disappoint! It is quite a bit bigger then I expected (YAY!) covers lots of historic details. Part 2 is called "knitting". It still covers some history, like what materials were used in the time etcetera, but also provides information as to what materials we can use nowadays, techniques used, how to go about with the pattterns and basic sweater patterns.   



The next 3 parts are the actual patterns. They are divided into the different Dutch coastal areas: De Noordzee kust or North Sea Coast, de Zuiderzee-coast now IJselmeer. (uh...due to poldering the Zuiderzee is no longer a sea but a lake) and de Waddenkust or Frisian Islands coast. Each coastal area is again divided, this time into the different villages each guernsey comes from. Each pattern comes with a chart, a detailed description, yarn recommendations (though you can use other yarns as described in the knitting chapter). Furthermore there are drawings and swatches included of each guernsey. Most guernseys are reknitted and include both an old and a contemporary photo. The pattern chapters contain a lot of information as well, about each village the guernsey comes from and about the guernsey and its distinct features. As it turns out, knitting traditions varied greatly from village to village and guernseys are a quite reliable way of identifying the home of fishermen on photographs from that time.



Yarn
 The guernseys use different kinds of yarn and there is a chapter devoted to encourage the knitter to try out new yarns and different yarn weights for the same guernsey. The book tries to stay as close to the type of yarn knitters used back then. Unfortunately the yarn that was used commonly back then isn't available any more. One company that made it however is still in business; Sheepjeswol. Sheepjewol is the only company in the Netherlands that still makes yarn, all the other companies unfortunately had to stop their business. Now this company has worked together with the author of this book and they (re)created a yarnline especially for guernseys! The yarn is 100% wool and is called Zuiderzee (Southern Sea) and comes in three colours, two blue and one natural. Apart from this yarn the book also uses a lot of other yarn brands that have the same properties as the yarns that were accessible to fisherwives back then, like special guernsey wool from the British Isles and lopi wool from Iceland. Fishers who went out to sea brought these yarns back for their wives from the places they went fishing. 

Summary
All in all this book is very much worth buying, especially if you're interested in guernseys or knitting traditions. The patterns are of high quality and it is packed with information, much more than I anticipated when I first heard about it in August. I can finally say that the Netherlands has an excellent book on a Dutch knitting tradition. Do not be surprised if you see a guernsey in progress float by on the blog in the near future. 






Ps. Stella Ruhe, the book's author, will give a lecture on Dutch guernseys this sunday (29th of september) in one Amsterdam LYS, de Afstap. More information on www.afstap.nl/jubileum/ .



Sunday, 15 September 2013

Colour Craving: The Yarn



Folks, it's that time of the year again:
Time for the yearly Stephen West Mystery Knit Along.

The idea is the same as with a "normal" knit-along, as in: Lots of people knit the same pattern, at the same time, talk about it and in general have a great time. The difference, cue in the 'mystery', is that in Stephen's twisted version, we (the participants) have no idea what the finished product will look like, we only know that it is a shawl. Stephen West has succesfully held two mystery knit alongs in the past two years, with participants reaching in the thousand(s). I was eager to have a go at it myself at some point too.

I never participated in a mystery knit along before, and had my doubts in the past for the obvious reasons: Don't you want to know what the finished project looks like, before you invest all that time?  In the end I saw how much fun everyone has participating in such an event and ofcourse the joy while knitting and the enormous curiosity that keeps you going ("yes, wait, just let me finish this clue before I ......").

 As an extra feature to this KAL, I present you, the boyfriend:

Hello, it's me.
You don't know me, but I know who you are.
(Damnit, but I've just always wanted to say that.)

On this blog, I'm referred to as the Boyfriend. For the first time, I'll speak to you directly. To start: I'm not a knitter. That is to say, I know how to knit, theoretically, I'm just rubbish in putting it to practice. I've knitted a plain hat once, which took me about half a year and turned out itchy and to small. I do really like knitted products and have often begged Nisse  to knit me this Westknits-shawl or that Rowan cardigan. (As a matter of fact, I do love to look at yarn and patterns, even though I've barely ever touched knitting needles myself. I think it's a virus that contaminates everything within the Treehouse.)

So, with the KAL I've been pursuaded to take matters in my own hands, quite literally. I'm joining this KAL. Though I have no illusions of keeping up with Nisse or the other participants, I do think that the mere trying to keep up will be a motivation to keep the needles clicking at moments when I would rather throw them aside in frustration. (How the heck do you keep those tiny loops of yarn from accidentally slipping from your needles?)

Anyways, I'll keep you updated as to the progress. So far, it's been difficult but fun  :)

So, hah! There's the good news! I (we) have allready bought the yarn, and gotten the first clue yesterday. The yarn we bought is fingering-weight, as requested in the pattern, though it seems to be slightly thinner then the yarn Stephen uses in his video. As I've blogged about before, I'm a huge fan of Holstgarn. For the mystery KAL I've bought their yarn 'Samarkand', which is a nice blend of wool with silk (75/25). I've choosen a colour combination of 'Chalk' white, 'Rosewood' brown and 'Bluebell' blue. I picked the first two as my base colour, and then went looking for a nice contrast. The boyfriend has picked three contrasting colour, though they do remind me a bit of die Deutsche Fahne.  Pictures below! 


We're currently working on the first clue. The next clue will arrive in a week, so I'll give you some updates with WIP-pictures around that time!

Xxx Nisse

Monday, 9 September 2013

The Polkadot Dress




There. Look at that kid. LOOK AT IT. See the determined look on her face? Her jaws relentlessly destroying that lollipop while contemplating some unimaginably grand scheme? See the polkadot dress? The grand plan that girl had was to keep wearing that dress - for ever. No matter how big she'd grow, no matter what futuristic fashion-trends would lay ahead, that polka-dot dress would become her uniform.

Unfortunately, I grew out of that dress quite soon after, as five-year olds tend to do. No big deal, it just means I have to find a new polka-dot uniform. And last week, it was mission accomplished. I sewed a dress! The fabric is super loud white dots on red cotton, because why not, right?



Fabric: lightweight cotton 
Bought at: Local market 
Soundtrack: Crosby, Stills & Nash - Wooden Ships

I'm super happy with the fit. Laurel is a shift dress, which isn't a too hard a shape to make. One of the things I wanted to learn from this pattern, apart from getting more into dress making and sewing in general, was experimenting with getting the fit right. The Laurel dress is such a simple shape I was really able to focus on the fit and shaping.


See, as is the case with most women, my body doesn't come in a standard size and I have to make adjustments to clothing to make them fit. With knitting this comes natural: because of the stretch of the knitting and the ease of decreases and increases sizing comes easy to me. With sewing however, not so much. My particular problem with the standard sizes is the bust area. I found that in order for patterns to fit right I have to tweek that area quite a bit. I think for a gal that can't wear a lot of commercial dresses because the bust areas don't work out, I'm pretty pleased with the fit of this handmade dress.

I'm not sure if I would have bought a shift dress kind of dress when stumbling on it in a shop and I wasn't sure whether I liked such a style on me. In the end however I'm quite chuffed with it, it screams 1960's and that is something I can totally live with :)


As with many sewing patterns, Laurel comes in several versions.  I choose model 2, which includes pockets! I think the gathered cuffs of version 3 aren't really for me on a dress type such as this one. To this date this is the only laurel version I've sewed up, but I can see more of them in the furure. I'm already dreaming about a second 'version 2', with the pockets in chambray.


What I would change next time is the biasband for the neckband. The one I bought for this one turned out to be rather stiff, and although I'm sure this has many advantages, I found that for the neckband it was a bit to stiff. I've now sewn another dress (spoiler!) with a different, more flexible, bias band and I find the look of it much better. But this was my first time using biasband so yeah, what did I know? If I use more bias band in the future I might actually invest in some biasband makers to not be restricted to store-bought biasband. I'm not sure yet whether I prefer bias band to other hem-techniques so I'm not sure how much I would use it in the future.


Because of the serious lack of a ravelry like website  for sewing, I've set up a flickr account for my sewing projects. I find that the flickr groups for specific sewing brands are the best way of seeing the results of sewed up patterns by people. I have heard that Colette, who designed this pattern, is considering starting some sort Ravelry-Sewing, but so far I'll make do with flickr. If there is however some sewing website or community that I'm missing or totally in the dark about, feel free to delight me with it in comments! :) You can find my flickr here!


In other news, past week my life at university started and I'm quite busy again. I managed to injure myself in the first week, by being stupid with steam and a iron fighting dragons, a few severe burns on my arm were the result and I can't do much with it now really. So barely any knitting or sewing for me for now, until it heals up (SEND LOTS OF SYMPATHY!!!) Just so you know, these pictures were taken before me being stupid my heroic moment, so no charred arm yet ;) Gosh...lesson learned..be careful with that heat people!

xxx
Nisse