Muddling through

I realised recently that I haven’t posted anything here since the end of February. A whole three months! Three months of very little time for knitting, and managing to get very little done during that whole period.
But it looks like I’m making some progress on my Streymoy cardigan all the same, so I’m not complaining. I’m just hoping I’ll have enough yarn to finish the thing (see that white ball? that is all that’s left of the De Rerum Natura in my main colour…)

I’ve begun watching knitting podcasts while knitting, and I’m just loving Knitting in Circles. Also enjoying DancingGeek. And on the lookout for more. So, if you know of nice videos in a similar vein, please mention them in the comments. Bonus points if they’ve got cute guys in them. Now please excuse me while I go back to Streymoy, and Darren, and Aimee.

Friends to knit with

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Yesterday was a perfect Sunday, full of sunshine, and warmth and wooliness. The nef Curial, at CENTQUATRE-PARIS provided the perfect venue for the 6th edition of the knitting meeting Jakecii has been organising for more than a year now — dedicated to male knitters, but this time again as you can see, we were outnumbered…

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We spent some great hours knitting, crocheting, eating pizza and marshmallow, and chatting, amid dancers and jugglers. I made some much needed progress on my Streymoy cardigan. All in all, a perfect reminder of how pleasurable it is to knit in good company, and a nice coda to these last knit-happy days which started last week-end at L’Aiguille en fête craft show.

And because great yarn, just like people, are wonderful friends to knit with, here are the little hand dyed additions to my stash I’ve collected on my visit there:

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From left to right: BFL DK in the colorways “Offshore” and “Marsh” from a small German company called WalkCollection; Leizu DK, a nice Canadian merino/silk blend dyed by Julie Asselin in “Moussaillon”; and the special “Thé à la violette at Lil’s” Falkland/silk blend from (Vi)laines (first three skeins bought at L’OisiveThé’s stand and the last at Lil Weasel’s). I also bought myself a magical skein of Canadian fingering merino from Riverside studio, which I’ve already paired with some écru fingering from Holst Garn, to start a Leftovers Cowl:

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Looks like the new year’s resolution I’ll be having no trouble keeping is: start more projects!

In-between knits

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Two days ago, feeling a bit nostalgic about my summer trip to Iceland, I went rummaging in my stash and brought out two small cakes of wonderful light gray lopi, locally produced in Þingborg, near Selfoss. And what better pattern for a quick and pleasurable knit than Karen Templer’s Wabi Mitts? One can’t help but marvel at its subtle simplicity and ingenious construction. An ode to the opposable thumb, if I may say so (check out that reverse stockinette gusset, surrounded by those two neat slipped-stitch ridges). Though the yarn is labelled as “2 ply”, it’s actually two strands of unspun lopi, which you hold together (I separated them and used only one fragile strand for the last three rows and bind-off).

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These fingerless mittens provided a very enjoyable break from my Streymoy cardigan, which is nonetheless advancing at a reasonable pace.

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I find these in-between projects, which knit in a couple of days (such as that baktus scarf I also recently made in Noro Silk Garden as a gift for a friend) very satisfying. They provide the kind of much-needed instant gratification that give me the courage to keep slogging through the longer endeavours. All right, “slogging” is a ludicrous choice of words. I’m having a blast on that cardigan. For now.

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Knitting… em Português

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I’m in Portugal for the holidays, and after a stay in the Algarve region, here I am for a couple of days in Lisbon. Almost as soon as I arrived in the city, I hopped on the metro to get to the Bairro Alto district, and from there made my way to Rosa Pomar’s Retrosaria (she’s @rosapomar on Instagram, by the way, and makes great pictures on top of all her other talents — and her blog is worth the read too). And Rosa was even there (and signed my copy of her book, yay!)
The store, the wool, the people didn’t disappoint — to say the least. And I’m saying the least because I don’t have much time to write, this being New Year’s Eve and all, and hope the pictures speak for themselves…

Processed with VSCOcam with t2 presetWarmest, wooliest wishes to you all my friends! I’ll try writing more next year ;-)


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Humble beginnings, humble pursuance

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetSince my return from Iceland and the end of holidays, I’ve been hassled by work and deadlines, with little time to devote to knitting, let alone blogging.
I have managed however to start working on that Streymoy cardigan I’ve been coveting for some time now (sweet, soft Gilliatt merino from De Rerum Natura, mmmh…) The sleeves are coming along nicely, I think. The more “piquant” aspects (as they say at Knitty) will surely crop up later on (steeks, button band and the like, oh my!)

I’ve also been making slow progress on my seed stitch wrap (new ball of yarn – Oceanos – attached!) and linen stitch scarf.

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This is more than enough to keep me busy in-between obligations these days.

 

 

Knitting in the land of ice and fire

Processed with VSCOcam with 5 presetI’m in Iceland for the summer holidays. I know, right? It’s like every knitter’s dream come true. And it’s a dream even harder to believe when, by some excellent twist of fate, I happen to be staying in Reykjavik at Ragga Eiríksdóttir’s place, while (unfortunately for me) she herself is gallivanting abroad in Europe. You’ve probably heard of Ragga. Living in an Icelandic knitter’s apartment (and not any knitter, at that!) is such a wonderful experience. The place is teeming with yarn-related books and magazines, woolen things, and yarn around every corner. Most inspiring.
Of course, with all the mind-numbing sight-seeing and the like, not much has been happening in the way of proper knitting. I’ve managed however to knit a few rows on my linen stitch scarf, as well as a few squares for my modular blanket.

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In my trips around the island, I’ve been trying to keep my eyes peeled for anything that wanders off the beaten path of those colourful balls of Ístex lopi you can find by the hundreds in almost every shop here. (Don’t get me wrong: I love that kind of lopi, it’s just that it’s so easy – and cheap – to obtain in Paris anyway that I wouldn’t bother to buy it here.) What I’m looking for are the little special places where you can buy yarn that’s been produced, spun and/or dyed locally, by hand, in workshops. So far, I’ve found two of such places.
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At the Þingborg wool centre near Selfoss, I bought some einband and some nice unspun lopi, in natural colours (the wonderful, warm scent of lanolin still clings to them), along with a little skein of two-ply spun yarn dyed with indigo and a local plant called ramfang.

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In Hvanneyri, near Borgarnes, at the Ullarselið, I found more colourful yarn (as you can see from the first picture): einband, léttlopi and handspun, dyed with plants such as lupinus, rhubarb or parmelia lichen. Oh, and I indulged myself with two small skeins of Icelandic angora.
I feel very special about all these findings. Maybe there are more to come. Hopefully, for my wallet’s sake, not too many more!

A yarnery in Bordeaux

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A three-day stay in Bordeaux for work provided the opportunity to visit a beautiful and inviting yarn store just off rue Sainte-Catherine, called La Lainerie. It displayed one of the most exhaustive offerings of Rowan yarns I’ve come across in France, and the owner Marie-Line was very nice and friendly, providing great conversation. I bought a few balls of Rowan fine tweed (for a little something I have in mind), as well as a skein of Austrian superfine merino, in a gorgeous understated variety of blues.
On the train to Bordeaux and back, I worked on a new project: yet another scarf, in 2-color linen stitch pattern (I’m smitten with this stitch right now!), made with Noro Taiyo 4 ply yarn and some undyed Bluefaced Leicester.

In pattern

Processed with VSCOcam with e5 presetThe (free) pattern for my Gothika lace shawl has been test knitted, edited, translated and is now available on Ravelry! The thrill! The pride! The gratefulness for all the help and encouragement that has made this possible!
Now I can focus on something else. Like work these fun little square modules that someday will be pieced into a blanket. Or sorting out this huge bin of vintage (plastic mostly) buttons bought last weekend at a jumble sale.

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Proto Gothika (research notes for a shawl)

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 presetI’ve been wanting to write a pattern for a simple triangular lace shawl for quite some time now. Having knit a Holden shawlette, and an Ashton, I was aware of the wonders simple yarn overs and paired decreases could work, and of the magic a vigorous blocking would impart to what was heretofore a crumpled mass of string and holes. I longed to make something of my own design, using the same simple, time-tested principles.
When I started, I only had in mind (and scribbled in my notebook) two stitch patterns I thought would look great together, since they were both reminiscent of Gothic architecture and carried promises of the kind of romanticism I was aiming for. So without further ado, I started knitting the shawl in Malabrigo sock yarn, thinking I’d write the pattern out once my work was off the needles, as a kind of recipe summarising what I had done.
Of course, as I now know, this is not really the best way of going at this. There are such things as stitch and row pattern cyclicity, that affect for instance the way your border pattern connects to the body of your shawl, that really should be planned beforehand. So while I was knitting a shawl I knew would be flawed in its design, I also started writing down a revised, more methodical version of the pattern I had started improvising months ago.

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I am now left with a beautiful, unique triangular lace shawl which I am very fond of, precisely because of its design flaws, and a more rationally charted pattern I still need to test out before I publish it. Fortunately, my dear friend Vinciane has agreed to help me out. If you too want to test knit the up-and-coming Gothika shawl, just send me a message on Ravelry.

On the fringe

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetIn keeping with my new year’s knitting resolutions, I worked resolutely on my gansey scarf, and boy am I glad this thing is finished. This beauty has been more than two years in the making, not because it was particularly difficult to knit (just purls and knits) but rather because of all the attention the pattern demands. (That, and the fact that I kept cheating on it with other projects…)

worsted140424cThis scarf (more of a wrap in this case) is my interpretation of a scarf found in Toshiyuki Shimada’s Ideas for Double-sided Knitted Scarves, a book that’s chock-full of wonderful projects, exuding that inimitable Japanese knitting aesthetics.
My version is knitted in Blue Sky Alpacas worsted hand dyes, a luxurious blend of royal alpaca and merino, which cost a small fortune, making it one of the most expensive handmade items I own. I remember seeing those skeins at my LYS (Lil Weasel), falling in love with them at first touch, and bringing them home with much anticipation (and guilt). Little did I know I would have to wait two whole years (and two days after that – just for adding the fringe!) before feeling the thing’s hefty drape around my neck and shoulders.
Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetLooking back at the making of this wrap, I remember the endeavor of painstakingly writing out the pattern’s instructions from the chart, row after row after row (I could not read charts at the time). This contrasts with the ease with which I read the pattern’s last rows directly off the chart, and makes me realise how much we learn without even paying attention.

Now I can happily fold my garment, put in the drawer, and wait for colder times to come, when it might actually make sense to wear this.
Because that bugger sure is one big warm mass of wool.