onsdag 19 december 2012

More knitted socks

Knitting socks has almost always been a very relaxing pastime for me - one of the reasons for that is that I always knit the same sort  of socks that I have knitted since I was a child. So I felt I had to leave my comfort zone and at least try some new features in sock knitting. A couple of years ago I bought Ann Budd´s "Getting started knitting socks" but I have to admit that I had not been giving it much attention.

It is a good book for learning how to knit socks. I takes care of all the fundamentals and provides different kinds of rib, stripe, cable and lace patterns. Ann Budd knits her socks on sets of four double-pointed needles. I always use sets of five double-pointed needles (I actually tried to follow her instructions using four needles but had to give up after a while and change to five needles. A life-time habit is not changed while knitting one pair of socks ...) Figuring out how to adapt her patterns to one more needle was not a big issue.

For these socks I used her pattern for "Seeded Rib Socks". Here are some of the things I did that I seldom do otherwise:
- Old Norwegian cast-on. It was years since I used this - WHY??? It is a very good and flexible cast-on that I will remember to use more frequently in my knitting.
- A Moss Rib stitch for the cuff. By habit I always do knit2, purl2 cuffs, have to stop that.
- I used Heel Flap stitches (she has three variations in the book)
- A new way of picking up stitches along the edge of the heel flap (she has three variations in the book)
- I carried the pattern from the cuff along the upper part of the sock

All in all I had great fun and learned a few new things (there is no harm in that) that I will remember. As always, check your gauge. Knowing your gauge makes knitting so much more rewarding.

lördag 8 december 2012

Christmas Mittens for the twins

I don´t have much time to knit Christmas gifts, but I always try to find time to knit something for the twins. They are always glad to receive knitted mittens or socks - and as long as that´s the case I´ll continue  knitting them.

Fulled mittens
Being very active boys their mittens must be rather sturdy. This year I chose to full the knitted mittens to get them warmer and thicker (and hopefully more durable).

Samplers  after fulling
I started by making samplers in a 3-ply wool, using different size needles to see which kind of fabric that I would prefer. After that I fulled the samplers in the washing machine. I use the washing machine when the mittens are too small for me to get my hand in when fulling on a fulling board. The risk with using the washing machine is that you don´t have control of the process (that is why I had to make these samplers).

Mittens before fulling
After drying the samplers I decided which fabric I liked the best.  I then compared the before and after measurements to calculate the gauge and decide on how many stitches to cast on and how much bigger I had to knit the mittens to get the right measurements when fulled and dried.

I knitted striped mittens with some variations in then. I wanted the mittens to look alike but I also wanted them to be easily separated. The finished result is rather thick and "fluffy" and I think they turned out pretty much as I had planned them to.

söndag 2 december 2012

Íslensk sjónabók - Ornaments and patterns found in Iceland

Finally - We have got a copy of this book. It was released in 2011 and we have tried to get a copy ever since but could not find it for sale anywhere. Now, due to a tip from a friend, we have bought it - and it arrived this week.

780 + pages with old patterns that were used for various forms of needlework. It is a reference book of the old Icelandic sjónabók manuscripts that dates from the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries.

It is a collaboration between the Icelandic Handicraft Association, the Department of Design and Architecture at the Icelandic Academy of the Arts, and the National Museum of Iceland. The opening chapters are short but contains interesting information. They are written in Icelandic and English. The rest of the book contains charted patterns from the ten sjónabók manuscripts that have been preserved.

I have only browsed it but it seems very interesting - I will set aside more time during Christmas to study it. I think that this is such a fantastic initiative and I do hope that other countries will be inspired to similar publications.

onsdag 28 november 2012

Birthday Socks

Season of socks continues with a pair of knitted socks that are to be a gift to my nephew. There is nothing extraordinary about them - just plain socks for everyday use. Hopefully they will be used and  worn out in a couple of years (or less).

söndag 25 november 2012

Nostepinne (Nystpinne in Swedish)

A couple of weeks ago I was on the Internet googling images for "nostepinne" (well, that´s the kind of guy I am ...). I already own several so I cannot claim to be in need of more of them. I just like to look at the craftsmanship - a well made tool is as nice to look at as e.g. a well made sweater. And them I saw these and just had to have them.
I tried to choose, but could not favour one before the other so I ordered both of them. And now they have arrived. The quality is very high and the finish is awesome -  I am so very pleased. They are my favourites. They are much thicker (diameter circa 35 mm) and heavier than my other nostepinnes (nystpinnar). The top one in the second picture is made from Sapele and the other one is made from Walnut.

Where did I find them? At Knitting Notions.

"Nostepinnes are tools used for hand winding yarn in a center pull ball. Some times they are referred to as winding sticks. The smooth end is for winding the yarn onto which will leave a soft center when the yarn is removed from the nostepinne; which prevents the ball from having too much tension in it. We turn our nostepinnes from domestic and exotic hardwoods. They are sanded to a fine, smooth finish and linseed oil is then applied followed by a final coat of wax. This creates a very smooth and lasting finish which shows off the beauty of the wood's natural grain and color." (from Knitting Notions)

lördag 17 november 2012

Swatching - twined knitting meets "Føroysk bindingarmynstur"

I had some ideas of using patterns from the book "Føroysk bindingarmynstur" for a project in twined knitting. There are lots of stitch patterns in this book that should work fine in mittens or caps. I just have to "get a feel" of how they present themselves in twined knitting, if they are fun to knit, if the result is satisfying and so on ... The true answer will be seen when the swatch is washed and dry.

I chose to knit the swatch in brown and white to get good contrasts. I am not sure that I will use this colour combination in coming projects.

It is nice to do some twined knitting again after shawl and socks.

fredag 2 november 2012

Bertha Lace Shawl in Jeaba Blue and lifelines

In September we visited Liisa for a day of dyeing yarn with Jeaba. I dyed my yarn blue and decided that I would knit a shawl with it.
I don´t knit lace very often, but I think that it gives nice variation from knitting mittens and socks. I also enjoy the blocking process, since it is very special to see the transformation from that rather messy knitted fabric into the lace shawl´s distinct patterns.
The Bertha Lace Shawl is a pattern from Evelyn Clark. I am very fond of her patterns since I find the instructions easy to understand. Her charts are clear, and there are written instructions for those who prefer that. I prefer knitting lace from charts, I find them very helpful since they are so visual and they give the possibility to relate to previous rows in an easy way. In written lace patterns I often lose track of where in the pattern I am.
I knitted this shawl on  Addi Lace circular needles 4,00 mm, and used 220 grams of my 2-ply yarn. I still have about 180 grams left - will have to think about what to do with that ....

Lifelines: I also recommend  lifelines when knitting lace. It saves hours if something goes wrong and you have to frogg/rip back your knitting. Above you can see the lifeline placed on the previous row. Place your lifeline depending on the complexity of the lace pattern. I often use a nylon thread (the same kind that are used for holding stitches when knitting on a knitting machine), most wool yarns will stick and make trouble when you are to remove the lifelines. I  place a lifeline after the pattern repeats, after checking that everything is right. When placing it you just take a blunt needle for the thread and insert it through the stitches and yarn overs for the entire row. Take care not to wrap it around the needle or insert it through stitch markers. If you have to frogg/rip back your knitting the lifeline will now function as a stopper - holding all your stitches and yarn overs correctly so that all you have to do when picking up the stitches is to let the needle follow the lifeline the entire row. After that you can continue your knitting without having to spend hours trying to re-establish the correct pattern of stitches and yarn overs.

söndag 28 oktober 2012

Season for socks

Now is the season for socks. These socks are called "raggsockor" in Swedish and I have knitted them since I was a child. The model is very simple, and you can mix colours and use left-over yarns.
I find it very relaxing to spend evenings knitting these socks. Since the model is very basic you can knit while chatting, listening to music, watching TV and so on, without having to worry about getting distracted.
And they are warm and cozy, too!

fredag 19 oktober 2012

Pitsilised koekirjad - A book not often found, and other books on Estonian knitting

I found a copy of this book by pure chance the other day. It is out of print, can´t be found or you have to pay a zilllion to obtain one second hand. I had to pay, but it was a reasonable price. It contains a treasure of Estonian lace patterns:
Now then, talking Estonian lace, if you are a lace fanatic (or just like to see beautiful things) the following two books are highly recommended.
"The Haapsalu Scarf" and "The Haapsalu Shawl" by Siiri Reimann and Aime Edasi. These books contain history, techniques, stitches and patterns - I think you need both of them.
I am also very fond the Kihnu Roosi books. "Kihnu Roosi - Kindakirjad" (language: Estonian only) is a fantastic book containing loads and loads of Estonian mittens knitted in black and white, some patterns are charted. "The letters of Kihnu Roosi - My history" (in English) has a broader view on traditional crafts and is 300+ pages of information and pictures regarding Estonian handicraft. "Roosi uses her private collection of handicraft items to speak in a simple and fascinating way about personal biographical facts, the exciting stories and legends of the island, customs related to religion, traditional creative practises, the way of life of the Kihnu people before and after World War II." The book has fantastic pictures but very few patterns.
"Elumõnu" by Ärmä Roosi (in Estonian only) is another fantastic book. It has beautiful pictures of handicrafts and contains a lot of pictures and charted patterns used for mittens and socks. Sadly a lot of the more informative aspects of this book are lost to me since I have no knowledge of the Estonian language.
Elo Lutsepp and Irina Tammis books "Eesti kindakirjad" and "Eesti sokikirjad" are nice books on mittens and socks, unfortunately only in Estonian. But there are lots of charts and pictures so if you apply yourself they are quite useful.
Aino Praakli´s books "Eesti labakindad ilma laande laiali" and "Estonian sock patterns all around the world" . Both books are in Estonian and English. The first book "Eesti labakindad ..." has fantastic charted patterns for decorating mittens in the traditional way. Note that the patterns are not for how to knit mittens. They contain charted motifs/patterns that you use when knitting mittens. So they are useful if you know how to knit socks and mittens and want to pattern them.
"Folk knitting in Estonia" by Nancy Bush is a classic and still easily available. It has history, traditions, techniques and patterns. A very good book to start with if you want to learn about Estonian knitting.
"Warme Handen - Estlandse wanten en polswarmers" (Warm hands - Estonian mittens and wrist warmers) by Carla Meijsen and Hilly van der Sluis is a book on Estonian mittens containing instructions, techniques and designs for thirteen mittens and wrist warmers in the Estonian tradition. This is also a very good book.
"Designs and patterns from Muhu Island -A needlework tradition from Estonia" by Anu Kabur, Anu Pink and Mai Meriste. 380+ pages of sheer beauty! "Muhu is a small island in the small republic of Estonia. Muhu handicraft has an unpredictable boldness in using colours and patterns" The book contains knitting, embroidery and crochet.
The book shows socks, mittens, caps, jackets, shirts, bridal aprons, ribbons and belts amongst many other items. Lots of charts. Highly recommended.
Finally "Ornamented journey" by Kristi Jõeste and Kristiina Ehin. This is a really good read about Estonian gloves. The book is about knitting gloves, personal texts and memories, folklore and old songs. No charts or patterns for mittens. Good photos of historical and modern knitted mittens. Very inspirational!

One more post about books on Estonian knitting:
Books on Estonian knitting and textile traditions

söndag 14 oktober 2012

Wood and olive oil

Today is a rainy, cold October Sunday. I was knitting a shawl, made a mistake and had to do some frogging. When I was winding the yarn back into a ball I noticed that my "nystpinne" needed some attention.

About once a year I give my wooden "tools" a generous rub with olive oil. By tools I mean my nystpinnar and needles for nalbinding.

It is a swift process: rub on some olive oil. Leave for a couple of hours. Rub off any excess oil with a paper towel or a cloth, and you´re done.

lördag 6 oktober 2012

Hat in hand spun yarn - tunisian crochet (krokning)

I am continuing my Tunisian crochet. This time I wanted to make a hat with a more snug fit.
The yarn used is my own hand spun. It is nice to have projects where it is possible to use my hand spun. Both these yarns were spun in S and plied in Z.
When making hats in Tunisian crochet I have had no patterns to follow. It seems that everything works out in the end despite that. I have experienced the same thing with nalbinding. When I knit I have to plan ahead to get the results that I want.

torsdag 27 september 2012

Dyeing yarn with Jeaba cold water dye

Last Sunday I dyed yarn by using Jeaba. Under the guidance of Liisa the group had a very nice time and produced lots and lots of colourful yarns.

It is quite messy (in a rather nice way) and I do not know if I would do it at home. You pour the dye liquid on to the yarn (the yarn is not soaked first) and there can be a bit of a problem getting the dye evenly distributed. I think that this method is far better when you want to give the yarn many colours letting your artistic side free.

It was interesting to try out a new method for dyeing yarn. It was very "hands on", and since it is a cold water dye method there is no risk of burning yourself.  

I stuck to blue for all my yarn. I am planning to use it for a shawl, and too many colours can distract from the lacy pattern.

After dyeing the yarn you squeeze as much of the fluid as possible out and wrap it in a plastic bag. Leave it for 24 hours. Rinse thoroughly 5-6 times and hang it to dry.