Requests from non-knitters

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Sometimes non-knitters ask me to knit them something particular and if a birthday or Christmas is coming up they usually receive that thing as a present. The difficulty though is to translate their expectations and visions into what can actually be made and was is a good idea or not.

The person who receives the most knits from me is without a doubt Agnieszka (and babies but they have no say in what they get). I have knit for her for many years and we have worked out a pretty good routine when it comes to knitting (not to mention that she lives two blocks away from the yarn store so we can usually go there together). She also knows most of the things I’ve knit for myself and others so we can usually understand each other very well. We might discuss size and I would say something like “bigger than the yellow Citron of 2012 but smaller than the Sonar of 2013?” and she might answer “yes, but the same yarn as the 2014 wrist warmers”. Once or twice we’ve gotten it wrong but we learn and we can, usually, laugh at the mistakes.

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With other people it’s not as easy. They don’t know my knitting as well as Agnieszka and they don’t have that many hand knitted objects. It’s sometimes difficult to understand what they want and for them to understand what can be made or not. When Hanna wanted a shawl I narrowed it down in little pieces, different questions so try to understand what she was after. Questions with titles such as Size? Texture? Shape? Fiber? Color? Warmth/thickness of yarn? After all these were answered we had a pretty good idea what she was looking for and I went online to find patterns. I chose three that I thought interesting enough for me to knit and she picked the one she liked best. I made a few yarn suggestions and she picked her favorite. I knit and she was very happy with the result. (I sometimes still wonder where that shawl is and I hope it makes someone warm.)

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Another time it might not be so easy. When my mother-in-law asked me for a cape of some sort to wear with a dress she had bought, she had a clear purpose in mind and the rest was pretty optional which actually made it harder. Since she didn’t have a clear vision of what she wanted, only what she wanted it for, it was harder for me to find a pattern. I knew what color she wanted, that it was for a certain summer dress and that she wanted it to cover her shoulders. The result was this capelet, something I hadn’t imagined at all before I saw some yarn in my stash that was the perfect color and then I just went from there. The result is pretty and worked wonderful with the dress and my mother-in-law was very pleased when she opened her Christmas gift. I don’t think either of us had this in mind when we first talked about it but it worked out just fine. And what could be better than that?

Pattern: The Galaxy Capelet by Cathy Briscoe. Yarn: Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo DK in color 108. Mods: No frill at the bottom, I just ended with some garter stitch to keep it in place. I cast on, established the pattern and then knit on for a million rows until the size was finally right. It fit like a glove.

It’s even the same dye lot

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The irony that I am now sticking to knitting sleeves when I’ve just declared that thumbs are the new sleeves, is not lost on me. I have indeed finshed the sleeve and started a new one. The top part that looks “cleaner” is what I’ve knit since yesterday, the more wrinkled part is from two and a half years ago.

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Also, I had to dig out the entire pink shelf of my stash to find the rest of the yarn to finish the second sleeve. I have a lot of pink yarn, and that’s only fingering weight or lighter. I found some things there I had forgotten and also some things I wonder why I bought. All in all it’s a good shelf but seeing it spread out on a table like this, I actually thought it would be more.

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That aside, I did find the yarn I was looking for. Three pretty skeins, more than enough to finish. Sleeve knitting, here we go!

UFO commitment in pink

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A lot of people in my Instagram feed says that February is for pink and since pink is my favorite color I wanted to join in. But, I do have a commitment to finish UFOs and I scratched my head for a few days until I remembered something. Almost three years ago I started a cardigan and even though I realized from the beginning it would be a though project to finish I completed the body but I got stuck on the sleeves (as usual). Now I feel the time is right to give it another go. Perhaps, if I’m lucky, I manage to finish at least one sleeve before I let go again. At this rate, I should have a finished cardigan in the summer of 2019. I’ve only knit a couple of rounds so far but it’s interesting enough. I just wonder if I have enough yarn in the project bag and if not, where is the rest of it?

A color chart of my own

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Today I’ve spent doing something yarn related but not necessarily knitting . For the MKALs I’m doing I often get to choose yarn color from Stunning String Studio and it’s always difficult to visualize from a screen. I have made mistakes in my picks and it’s never fun when that happens. The other day though, I realized I have a made a lot with yarn from that particular company and I should be able to make a fairly good color chart myself to make it easier to pick colors in the future.

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Using the color names from the company page on the Internet, I wrote them down on the computer and printed them. Then I put scotch tape on the sides to make them a little stronger and then I cut holes in the paper, on for each color name.

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Then the fun part started: locate every left over yarn I’ve ever used from that yarn company, cut a piece and put it in the booklet. It took a while and I’m sure there are still some yarn left here and there but when I find them I’ll put them in the booklet as well. I was right, I do have a lot of yarn in different colors from this company.

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All in all I’m quite pleased with my color chart and it has already helped me picking out yarn for the next MKAL. Eventually I’ll fill out all the gaps but there is no hurry. We have time and I have a color chart.

So bad it’s right?

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Hah! We have two thumbs! The knitting is done and now all that’s left is blocking and weaving in ends. I have not been happy about these mittens (I’m still putting my hopes to the blocking) and my solution to this is to make more mittens. Agnieszka asked me if this wasn’t a bad I idea and I agree, it’s a very bad idea but somehow it still feels right. If nothing else, I’ve bought the yarn and put it in the freezer and maybe that’s enough. We’ll see if the urge to knit new mittens is still here next week when the yarn is out of quarantine. Untill then I will se what blocking can do for these ones.

Maybe thumbs are the new sleeves?

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I’ve finally had a spare evening and after many hours of concentrated knitting I have, instead of one mitten and a cuff, two mittens short of one thumb.The last few rows were plain pain and it will be some time before I make mittens again. They say February is for pink so maybe I should look into that and knit pink. I really hope someone wiser than me will say that these mittens are exceptionally tricky and that it will all come out in the wash (as Willy Wonka would say) or in the blocking in this case. A part of me thinks that this color work is a very difficult one but it could also be that I don’t want to admitt that maybe they didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped. We’ll see, after blocking.

I’ve actually asked Julle if he really needs two thumbs (I mean, he usually takes off his mittens and gloves to use his phone anyway) and he said yes. Bummer.

Princess Q-tip

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I’ve read on the almighty internet that a 6 months wedding anniversary is called a Q-tips wedding since it’s a little cotton on it and a one year anniversary is a cotton wedding in Sweden. I kind of like it and have walked around talking about my Q-tip wedding anniversary all day. Can you imagine, six months ago we got married. I still haven’t fully understood it and I have to constantly remind myself. But then again, it wasn’t a big difference at all, which is how I prefered it.

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I thought I would take the opportunity to finally show you my wedding veil, my master piece, mon chef d’oevre - the Princess Shawl.

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I’ve never knit anything as huge ever, nor anything that took that much time nor that much yarn. We had a wedding quiz and the final question was how much yarn in meters was knit into this shawl. One person actually got pretty close but since he wrote his answer in a very scientist way none of us humanities majors understood how close he was (he involved pi. We don’t deal with pi very often, although we might care about pie which is a totally different matter. Also there is a novel by Yann Martel called The Life of Pi. That’s as close to pi I’ll ever come but if you want to discuss the novel you are welcome, that is more my strenght). And he didn’t do so well on the other questions though so it didn’t matter. (Agnieszka won, no surprises there, but then again, she has the advantage of having known me for 15 years which includes knowing my family and especially my mom for the same amount of time and has also known Julle for three years and understands our Polish as well as our Swedish sides. It would have been hard to beat her.)

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According to my calculations (again, I don’t deal with pi and not really with maths so there might be some errors here but my calculations did involve scales and that has to count for something) there are 6 016 meters of yarn in this shawl. 6 kilometers, that’s about 3.7 miles. That is a fairly good run and about an hour walk. It’s shorter than a walk to Meryton and to Netherfield Park but one cannot have everything.

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The shawl is knit in four steps. First you start with a 85 repeat lace border. It took me forever to get the hang of it, just as it took me forever to decide on yarn and I swatched and swatched and swatched before I decided that it’s better that I pick a yarn that is nice to work with over a yarn that may be soft but will be a challenge to force into a shawl. After all, I’ve worn the shawl for about three hours but it took me much, much longer to knit. Just one of those 85 repeats took me about 40 minutes. By picking this yarn the shawl also became much whiter than, say, the merino cobweb. Before the 85 repeats were done I ran out of yarn and had to order more. That wasn’t a very easy task, it turned out, but it worked out in the end, despite having to work with a cone nearby at all time.

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When the lace border is done it is time to pick up stitches along that border. All 865 of them. It took forever. Or, about two days.

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Then it is more than 240 rows of lace pattern. (There might be a mistake in there but I’m not telling you where.) That took time. A long time.

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The shawl is supposed to be in garter stitch but since I’m not always thriller by the looks of garter stitch, I chose to knit it in stockinette stitch. That had the disadvantage of giving the shawl definite wrong and right sides but the advantage of, despite being a pain in the ass to knit, making it easier to know where I left off.

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After the 200-something rows of lace, there is another 16 rows of another lace pattern. It was called pine tree lace or something like that. Felt suiting in this country which is practically covered in woods. This is when you think you’re almost done. You’re not.

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Then it is time for the triangular lace that shapes the entire shawl. You measure out the middle of the knitting and start knitting back and forth. The rows starts short with just a few stitches but gradually grows as more and more stitches are worked into the lace.

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It goes on till all stiches are worked into the triangular lace. It doesn’t look that much but when you reach the place where it’s time to start the triangular shape, you’re only half way. But eventually that too was done after a heroic knitting effort in which I knit more than 30 000 stitches per week for about two months.

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When all the stitches are worked into the triangle you “close” the shawl with a similar lace border like the one you started with. Piece of cake, huh?

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Blocking the whole thing was a little crazy in it’s own. It took our entire livingroom floor, five packs of blocking maths and five knitting friends to master it. It’s huge and we didn’t even block it that hard (due to lack of space) but one month before the wedding, it was done.

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It’s about as long as me and much wider.

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I had a hard time figuring some things out while knitting and I tried to get some help from other knitters who have done the same shawl by looking through their pictures but I couldn’t always find out what I was looking for.

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There were some trial and error and I want to make sure my pictures can help someone else knit it.

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For the wedding I wore a flower crown and we collected the top edge of the shawl in our hands and hung it over the back of the crown. I’m not sure how it looked but after all that work I was going to wear this as a veil, no matter what.

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The hairdresser wanted the florist, who made the flower crown, take care of the veil, and the florist suggested the hairdresser attached it to my hair but I knew wearing a woollen veil on a summer day would have to be detachable. In the end my mum solved how we best should attach it and it worked out great. I wore it during picture time, during the ceremony, the bridal toast and while greeting all our guests but then, with the help of Agnieszka, my maid of honor, we took it off before the dinner. That would have been just too hot. It was a great day and it’s still great, six months, or a Q-tip, later and we hope it will continue for many, many more months to come.

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Pattern: The Princess Shawl by Sharon Miller. Yarn: Jamieson & Smith Shetland Supreme 1 ply Gossamer 1/16nm, color is bleached.

Ship Ahoy!

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I hope you don’t think I have forgotten the mittens. I haven’t but I don’t prioritize them. I have one project going for when I’m out and about and I have my MKAL. When the clue for the MKAL is done and I’m home, that’s when I knit on these. Since I’m busy most evenings except Fridays and Saturdays, there is not much time left to work on these. And admittedly I’m getting a little tired of them. Half of the second mitten is done and I will finish it, I just can’t tell when. I’ve done ten rows today and I hope to make a few more before bed. I’m powering through.

A real hoot

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Owls have been in for quite some time now, you can find them on cross-stitch table cloths, pictures and bookmarks and I’ve seen them on cups and notepads and you name it. Of course they can also been found on knitting.

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I hadn’t really followed the trend but when I saw a pattern for a very warm cardigan with an owl pattern at the same time as I got a dress with owls on it, I was hooked. I was going to make myself a cardigan to match my dress. When I saw that there were also patterns for a sweater for an adult and a cardigan and a sweater for a child I knew my Christmas gifts were as good as done.

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First out was a cardigan for nephew. I picked that one first because it required the smallest needles so it would take longer despite being smaller. It took me a long weekend to finish it and I was lucky to find small enough buttons as eyes for the owl.

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Next out was a sweater for niece. The yarn was knew to me and it knit up very fast. I worried the neck wouldn’t be big enough but niece’s mother has assured me it worked out. I’ve also seen a picture.

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This owl got the most eye looking buttons and it looks very much like an owl. A very serious owl too.

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Third sweater was for my Lyndsey-bean. This worried me the most. I had to count a lot to get gauge and the yoke looked really small, almost the same size as niece’s sweater and she’s not even four.

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When I put the sweater on the dummy it looked better but I was still worried even though it was supposed to have negative ease. Lyndsey has assured me though that it fits her which pleases me a lot. It’s difficult to knit a garment for someone when you don’t have the exact measurements and can’t fit it during the process.

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I wish I had done one thing differently though. I wish I had tried the sweater on the dummy before sewing the buttons on. That way I would have known which owl to pick and not have an owl way up on Lyndsey’s shoulder. Then again, an owl on the shoulder sounds kind of cool, very mysterious and powerful.

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Patterns: Wowligan, Owlet and Owls by Kate Davies. Yarn: Drops Baby Merino from Garnstudio in color 18 Brown (nephew), Alpaca Superfine from Viking of Norway in color 233 Verde (niece) and Ecological wool from Cascade Yarns  in color 8285 Mocha(Lyndsey). No mods.

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For me? Well, I got myself an owl too. Not a cardigan, even though I haven’t given up hope about that yet, but a sweat little creature named Wanda that came to live with me on Christmas Eve. We’re very good friends.