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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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!

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.

Twisted

On Monday night, after the tedium of producing and measuring swatches, I settled for what I thought might be the correct needle and pattern size for making myself that Lopi sweater (I can’t really tell yet, because there was no easy way for me to get the recommended gauge). I cast on 192 stitches for the body (I’m making the XL large version in 4mm and 5mm needles, when I usually wear M to L), joined in the round and managed to knit ten rows when I had a minute or two…

And noticed only today that my stitches were twisted to begin with, when I joined the round. How this went undetected I can’t really explain. But it made me smile that I had actually made a mistake I’ve kept reading about (“join in the round, being careful not to twist“) and have always thought was very easy to avoid. OK, it also hurt my pride a bit.

I’m taking this as an invitation to start again and try out knitting the body on two circular needles, a technique I intend to also use in order to knit the two sleeves at the same time.

I’ve also started reading The Knitter’s Life List,  thoroughly enjoying it so far (Knitter’s Review here).

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First sleeve

Things are starting to get seriously “springy” here in Paris, and I’m still struggling in the race to finish my Lettuce sweater, which I’m convinced I’ll be able to wear before summer comes. Tonight, I managed to finish its first sleeve, which also happens to be the very first sleeve I’ve knitted, so I suppose that counts as an achievement unlocked… And just for the record: knitting in the round with two circulars rocks when it comes to sleeves.

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I’m fighting the temptation to start yet another project, but don’t know if I’ll be able to resist the urge to put those 300 metres of BC Garn Jaipur Silk Fino I bought last year in Copenhagen to good use, and knit myself a springtime scarf.

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The current preoccupation is to find an appropriate pattern, and I’ve been browsing stitch dictionaries at length, including this recently acquired, slightly foxed copy of Mon Tricot Stitch Dictionary:

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I’m looking for something lacy, simple, elegant and masculine. Suggestions are most welcome.

And because I’m a sucker for subscription boxes (already addicted to Quarterly Co. and Fancy), I’ve taken the plunge and treated myself to a KnitCrate subscription. Curated yarn and surprises, who can resist that???