I’m buried in work and stressed out, but I can already see the light at the end of the tunnel month, when the workload should get a little more manageable, and I hope to get some “me” time again.
I manage to knit a few rows of my Kalaloch Pullover each day, and that’s about that, but even with such low speed, it slowly starts looking like a pullover more than like a shapeless blob. It’s really oversized, and the construction is particularly interesting, as the actual sleeves are very short, and about half of their length is in fact the oversized yoke (if it even should be still called a yoke?). Everything is knitted from the bottom, and sleeves are attached to the body at the start of the yoke and later worked together with the body. The armhole openings are grafted with Kitchener’s stitch at the end.
I feel like I haven’t updated my blog in ages, but when I check the dates, it’s only been two weeks. I guess it feels this way because my days are super busy now, and I have hardly any time for myself. Turns out that new duties at work mean more to do, who knew…? 😉 But speaking seriously, I find out that when I really have a lot to do and have to keep up the pace, I am suddenly much better organized than when I’m less busy. I prepare weekly and daily checklists, and I keep track of things to do and those I’ve already finished in my beloved Excel spreadsheets, and this helps me a lot (it also comes in handy later when it’s time to issue the invoice and pay my taxes). I’ve always been the type of person who works best when I can write things down, somehow the process or organizing things in my head and then putting the plan on paper (or more often, in a text file on my computer) makes me feel in control and like I can handle everything. And it’s really working!
Still, free time is scarce and it’s going to be this way until September, so knitting and crochet slowed down. And somehow in the middle of this hectic period, I felt that I absolutely needed to make a new doll, complete with yarny hair and tiny clothes made of scrap yarn.
It seems that summer is finally in Ireland, after a very chilly and wet June (and a bonus cold for me, because who doesn’t want to get back to working full time with a runny nose and a fever, right?!). It’s a bit warmer and more sunny, and only rains on some days, which is a huge progress in comparison to June. Days are busy, I’m starting to feel more secure in my new duties at work, and everything is going fine – well, almost everything. Ciri has a minor inflammation in her eye (second time now), and following the vet’s advice, I keep applying chamomile extract twice a day on her eye area – just have to be careful not to let her swallow it as it may be toxic for cats when ingested. I really don’t want to bring her to the vet because those visits are extremely stressful for her and I’m worried she might get another stress-related UTI, so I’m happy to see that a chamomile home remedy seems to be doing the job. Even though she hates the application and I’m pretty sure she’s never going to trust me again!
My most recent knitting project has been the Kalaloch Pullover from the summer issue of Interweave Knits. I knew I wanted to knit it even before I received my issue of Interweave Knits, as soon as I saw the photos on Ravelry. I love this very oversized, relaxed sweater so much! But since it’s so oversized (I’m knitting size 48” whereas I normally wear 36” or 38”), and knitted with fingering yarn, it’s going to take forever to finish it. It took me days to knit the first 15 cm of plain stockinette stitch, and it’s definitely going to slow down even more when I get to the textured part… but before I get to it, I’m taking a forced break, because I broke my needle knitting it. Turns out that a wooden needle which is only 3 mm wide is just not very durable. Luckily it wasn’t a part of my new set, so all I had to do was order a new one online (and it’s aluminum this time) and wait for it to arrive.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you probably know that I’m not very successful with summer knits. I’m never really happy with how they feel or look, or just make so many mistakes during knitting that I finally give up.
Well, I think I found the key to successful summer knits: they shouldn’t be for me. Very often I like a pattern, but then I just usually feel awkward wearing it (that is, if I manage to finish the project at all). Yet when I scroll through the projects for the same pattern on Ravelry, everyone looks so great in their summer tops or jackets! So clearly, that’s a case of “it’s not you (dear pattern), it’s me”.
Dear Friends, let me present you the Silver Blossom Tee, summer top designed by Amy Gunderson, my first summer knit in two years that I’ve actually managed to finish and hey, I’ve even enjoyed knitting it! I also love the final result. It’s made for my Mom and I really hope it’s going to fit, as I haven’t asked for her exact measurements this time (but I know she wears clothes about 1-2 sizes bigger than myself, and I think this top should be fine). It’s the kind of garment I can easily see in her wardrobe, I think she’s going to like it.
A year ago I made a crochet lace shawl, using Exquisite Lace from the West Yorkshire Spinners. It’s a marvelous Falkland wool enriched with mulberry silk, and I’ve been looking for the right pattern to use another skein I’d bought last year, in light mint green. I’ve hesitated between many different shawls and scarves, but in the end I chose a Drops Design pattern called First Frost, because: 1) I liked it, 2) it required just under 800 metres which is exactly the length of 1 skein.
This pattern is rather simple – yes, it’s lace so it requires some attention and focus, but it’s also very repetitive so it’s easy to memorize each row after a brief check in the diagram. I’ve been knitting it while working (whenever I didn’t have to type), one row at a time, and it went much faster that it might seem. The yarn is very thin, but the needles used (3,5 mm) are larger than I’m using now for a fingering weight project, since lace looks better when it’s a little more loose and airy (after obligatory blocking of course!).
Woollinn 2019 has come and gone, and as much as I was going to take tons of photos and post a nice write up of the festival, guess what? I managed to take exactly 0 pictures! I don’t even have an excuse, I was just busy and also a little overwhelmed with everything, and I just haven’t thought to take out my phone and take some photos. So the best I can do is try to describe everything now, and send you to check the #woollinn hashtag on Instagram to get a visual idea of all the yarny goodness.
I wanted to write a new post a few times over the last two weeks, but I just really wasn’t in the headspace for that. Between my travel to Brussels and now, a lot has been going on, and I think that my “knitting” reflected that! It’s been chaotic, with some failed attempts (summer knits of course, right?) and inability to focus on anything, and with one broken knitting needle (because of TENSION! Can you believe that stress )
So I thought it would be the best to break this post down into points and just write a little about everything. Buckle up!
Summer knits: me 2:0
After all the failed summer projects from last year, it seems that things are not improving this year at all. I started and almost finished (see the photo above) the Purl Soho design Notched Hem Top. I had perfect yarn (linen with bamboo from Ice Yarns), I loved the pattern, it was simple and should be a blast – and yet I managed to ruin it completely. Just look at the armholes. I don’t even know how to comment on that! Just how did I manage to knit one armhole so big, and another one much smaller, is a big mystery and I don’t have an answer to it. I was so disgusted with myself when I realised what I’d done, that I just unraveled the whole thing. Maybe next year I will come up with a better idea for this yarn.
Then I tried to knit few different tops (I don’t even remember all the patterns right now) with another, cotton based summer yarn. That’s about as much as I went before ripping it all out each time:
I don’t know why, I’m just not feeling it at all. But I really want to make something with this silver cotton yarn, so I’m not giving up hope that the next I try to use it, it’s actually going to work out.
If this shawl looks familiar, it’s because I’ve already knitted it before, not too long ago. In fact, now that I’ve checked the previous post, I’d finished it less than a month before the second version.
My first Kindness Shawl 2018 KAL was made for a friend. At least in theory… because at the time of my annual meeting in Brussels I decided to take it with me. It was just a perfect match for my spring coat, better than anything in my wardrobe, and I knew I had another skein of identical yarn, so I decided just to keep the first version and re-knit it again after return. I actually took the yarn and needles with me, but the whole Brussels stay was so busy that I was in the hotel only to shower and catch some sleep – no time for anything else (seriously, 12 hours long work meetings, evening socializing because, after all, I only see my co-workers twice a year, and that Belgian beer is just too good!)! So I started knitting it as soon as I returned to Dublin.
This strangely looking WIP is not an amigurumi octopus (pentapus?) in the making. It is, in fact, a cardigan, designed in an interesting way, with sleeves, back piece and both front pieces knitted separately and then joined together at the yoke. The yoke itself is what drove me to this Paisley Cardigan pattern by Sarah Hutton in the first place – I just really like the contrasting, cabled detail that adds a twist to the plain, simple sweater.
The cardigan is a part of patterns collection designed for the beautiful aran weight yarn from the West Yorkshire Spinners, The Croft Shetland Colours. When I first saw it on their Instagram account, I knew I wanted to knit it, and exactly in the same colours as the original. I love that two contrasting, neutral colours are used together, and work so well. I thought it would be a great way to be able to wear this cardigan both with cooler and warmer shades. And I just needed a reason to buy some of this yarn and try it out!
The title of this post is my reply to a friend who received my Aphrodite shawl for her birthday and told me that she loves shawls, even though she might already own an impressive collection, so if I like knitting them, she is more than happy to receive them 😉 Which suits me just right, as I have a lot of shawl patterns in my queue, own some shawl pattern books, and in general, love knitting and crocheting them. But I feel guilty when I think of making so many shawls just for myself, so her confession is a very welcome excuse to knit more!
However, my most recent knit – based on the Kindness KAL Shawl pattern by Jaala Spiro – was made for another friend. I wanted to knit something special for her as a thank you gift, for inviting me to take part in a project we’ve been working on together with her research team (she’s in academia and I used to work in research, so since they needed someone with specific skills, she asked me to join them) for the last several months, outside of my normal job. That really helped me find a new focus in my work, exactly at the time when I needed it most (and to refresh my CV a little which I really needed, too). Beside that, she’s just always been a great friend, so did I really need more to knit something for her? I also knew right from the start that I wanted it to be a shawl, with at least some lace elements, or maybe fully lacy.