We’ll have fun, fun, fun till her daddy takes the T-bird away

The other day I was talking about knitting (is anyone surprised?) and my friend said that I hated a certain project. I could not recall having that sentiment at all and I realized that since my friend is not a knitter, she doesn’t get it. Every knitting project has a more or less boring part in it. It could be swatching, struggling with a bad written pattern, a yarn that doesn’t want to play nice, weaving in ends, sewing buttons, button bands, blocking, picking up stitches, sewing, ripping out, having to re-do the cast on because you misjudged the length of your long-tail cast on end. It can be a lot of things, and you never know at the beginning what will happen.

Sometimes these boring elements goes by so quickly you don’t even notice them really but other times they can be a mountain impossible to conquer. That’s why knitters try to get out of doing it and yes, we will complain about the boring things as well. That’s why we have seamless sweaters and tricks to have as few ends as possible to weave in and so on. I know a lot of knitters saying that it’s unnecessary to block things (yes, they’re in denial) and that they don’t bother doing it. The sock-in-progress in the picture, for example, is at the fun part, the striping, and the cuff is tolerable which is okay since it leads up to the fun part, but one socks also has no less than 14 ends to weave in. That’s way too many in one little sock.

For the most part though, people are trying to get out of swatching. I’m no exception to this but I’ve learned the hard way what could happen if you don’t so I always swatch when it comes to bigger things like sweaters and cardigans. I don’t usually swatch for shawls and socks and such. Neither for baby clothes, I figure it will fit in a few months time or the I could just as easily give the too small item to another baby.

For the past few months I’ve had the privilege to have the mandate to advice people to swatch and you wouldn’t believe the excuses people come up with. My personal favorite is “Nah, I’ve been told I knit faily evenly so I don’t have to swatch.” Honey, you can knit as even as you want but since there is no fixed standard for gauge it won’t help you. Gauge is all about how the designer knits but once you figure that out, it can actually help you. I have a shawl designer whose pattern I’ve knit from a lot and I know that I need to go up a needle size with all of her patterns to get the shawls as big as I want them. Do you remember when I’ve spoken about gauge before? Yep, the shawls in that post are knit with the same size needles, the same pattern but by two different knitters and they are not nearly the same size. Also, you can knit even and still end up with a too big or too small shawl, to knit evenly only means that you keep your gauge through the entire project, not what gauge you had to begin with.

The same goes with excuses like “No, I think I knit fairly normal.” What does that even mean? To knit normal? What is that? And more, what it not normal? Again, no fixed standard for gauge, you can’t use that excuse because you have no idea how the designer knits.

What I find fascinating about all these excuses is that people really seems to believe them. “I don’t have to swatch becasue I’m a good knitter”, or something like that. I never argue with the excuses but keep insisting that they make a swatch, especially if they are about to change yarn and needle size. The thing about excuses are that the Knitter can blame the pattern when the sweater turns out too big. “I knit evenly so there must be something wrong with the pattern.” The things is, knitting is a hobby or most people and there are no life rules when it comes to hobbies. You can stick to the fun parts, and only the fun parts. If I don’t want to weave in those 14 ends I don’t have to, but it will be a bit tricky if I want to actually wear the socks one day. If you don’t want to swatch you don’t have to, it’s totally up to you, but if you don’t swatch you can only blame yourself. Not the pattern, not the yarn, not your local yarn store, nothing. Stop with the excuses, they are unnecessary, just admit you don’t want to swatch and then take responsibility for that decision.

I was a non-swatcher for many years, but then I learned the hard way why it’s a good idea, especially when it comes to sweaters and cardigans. The reason why I’ve stayed with swatching (and yes, it’s boring as hell, espcially if you need to block the swatch too) is that I discovered that instead of changing the needles to get gauge, I can just change the size I’m making with the use of some simple math. (The patterns states 18 stitches for 10 cm, you get 16 sts per 10 cm, you divide the chest measurements of “your” size by the gauge the pattern states, in this case 18 sts, to get the amount of decimeters, then multple that with your actual gauge sts (16 in this case) and you get a new chest measurement which might be closer to another size and you can follow the pattern for that size instead.) Most often I find that I have less stitches to 10 cm than the designer intended which means I can go down a pattern size (less stitches to knit!) and still get the same size sweater. It’s awesome! Sure, if you don’t like how your fabric looks you can start changing needles but then you need to make multiple swatches and, you know, why?

So yes, every knitting project has a boring element to it, and swatching is definitely one of them, but stop making excuses not to swatch, if you don’t want to, you don’t want to, and that’s it. No one will force you to swatch but gauge is not to be trusted and it’s always safer (but not completely safe) to swatch than not to swatch. With that knowledge it’s totally up to you what you decide to do. After all, it’s your hobby.

Time for sleeves

And we are back to sleeves. Front lace is finished and sleeves are that’s left. Sleeves, sleeves, sleeves. Two to be exact. One is almost finished, almost sort of, and the other is… started at least. I figure I should start the second one just to see how long the third yarn ball will take me and then I can decide if I have enough yarn to make long sleeves. My arms are longer than what the pattern is written for so I guess that even if I make full lenght sleeves according to the pattern, they will still look short on me. Oh well, we’ll see, first I have a pair of sleeves to finish.

Happy Holidays!

Christmas Eve and I’m full of food and marzipan, I have gotten amazing gifts and I’m happy and content.

I have knit on my Christmas knittings, all of them, and I’m looking forward to the finished projects, mainly socks. Hopefully we’ll have a cold winter so I get to use them a lot. Please note my perfectly round yarn ball. I didn’t use my ball winder due to the tree being up and it’s in the way of the space where I put my swift so I just figured it was easier to wind by hand and that created this lovely little round ball.

I wish you alla a happy and knitter-ly holiday!

The evening before

The tree is decorated, the knitting is done and the gifts are wrapped. I’m ready for Christmas. I only made two knitted gifts this year but the are indeed finished and delivered to their respective recipients. For the rest of Christmas I plan to eat a lot of good food and cookies, spend time with my near and dear ones and knit on my Christmas knitting.

I’ve started a pair of calf-high socks but since they come with colorwork I’m going to cast on another pair too, for more socal occasions so I don’t have to look at a pattern all the time. This is truly the year of socks, this is my thirteenth pair. We’ll see if I finish before New Year’s though but if I don’t it’s not a big deal. I’m not going to be stressed by anything, I’m just going to keep calm and knit on.

Quick update

Summer of sunsets are not over it seems. I’m still catching a few good ones. I’ve been a bit under the weather this week and that’s why I’ve been a bit elusive. I feel better now but still need to gather my strenghts and sleep and eat properly before being completely back to normal but I’m definitely getting there. I haven’t knit much either but I have finished a pair of wristwarmers and half of the second sleeve on my cardi. I had hoped to have it finished by now but it’s okay. We’ll were we stand after the weekend, if there are two sleeves or not.

Get your killer heels, sneakers, pumps or lace up your boots

In between knitting on my cardi and, you know, life in general, I try to work out as much as I can. Earlier this summer I found these amazing shoes for my dance classes and I’ve been really looking forward to break them in. Yesterday it finally happened and I got to dance in my pink and glittery shoes. The verdict? They are a little tight over the front of the foot but I will experiment a bit with the insoles and such and with that I think they will be perfect. They are pretty and I could dance just fine in them and, most importantly, they make me happy, so happy. We should all just wear pink shoes with glitter on, or, you know, whatever shoes rocks your boat. Salute!

Summarize summer

And then it was over. That amazing, long summer that seemed endless but proved to be way too short. Sometimes it feels like summer is all about collecting memories to remember in November and I have found that the best way to do that is to summarize summer a bit. I did it back in 2013 and that really helped me put some perspective over the summer. I don’t know why I didn’t do it in 2014 but in 2015 I was too caught up with the wedding and all, and suffering from post-wedding coma. Last year, well, from the blog I gather that I was way too caught up in thinking about socks to care about anything else. This year though, this is it. I’m summarizing summer to remember in November. Poetic, huh?

This has been a summer filled with travels. But let’s start from the beginning.

I kick-started summer with an intense week that started off with a party and a good friend’s thesis defence. I knit. It was a long defense, but super interesting, and I made good progress on a sock and danced the night away. I remembered how much I love dancing and I really should do it more often.

That same week I went to no less than two concerts. The first was Little Mix and me and my four friends were probably the oldest in the audience, a part from the accompanying parents to the thirteen year olds that contained the bulk of the audience. We danced and had fun and it was awesome.

The second concert was Håkan Hellström, an artist I’ve seen many times before. This time though, I fell in love. Not in Håkan, he captured my 16 year old heart a long time ago (well, 16 years ago) and even though I mostly listen for nostaligic reasons these day, he will always hold a special place in my heart. No, Håkan had a guest with him on stage, a super cool woman (seen in white in the picture) that I immediately wanted to know more about. I googled and I was hooked. Silvana Imam might be the coolest person ever and the rest of the summer has been defined by her music. I simply love it! All of it.

There was also another concert this summer – The Stars from The Commitments, at the beach in Ravenna. And yes, they did play Mustang Sally.

The thing I’ve done the most this summer is working out, which also means that I’ve been listening to music a lot. I’ve worked out in Edinburg and at home, indoors and outdoors, and it’s been great.

Scotland set off what would also be the summer of castles and palaces. I’ve been to the Holyrood castle, the residence of Queen Elizabeth II when she’s in Scotland. And I’ve seen…

…Sterling castle…

…Edinburgh Castle…

…Borgholm castle…

…Wik castle when me and Emma went swimming in the lake, and…

…Skokloster castle where there was a Jane Austen exhibition and me, Agnieszka and Hanna went there to have a look at, drum roll please…

…the very shirt worn by Colin Firth when he takes a swim in the lake at Pemberley as Mr. Darcy in the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice. The. Very. Shirt. Mhm!

We also saw some other really cool clothes from the Movies. Here is the wedding outfit that Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy wore in the same production. We also got to try on some really awesome poke bonnets (Bring the bonnet back!). Speaking of bonnets…

My friend Elina works out the Skansen outdoor museum and me and our friend Fatou went there to see her. Elina can really sport a bonnet. We had a great time, all of us and it was a perfect summer day in so many ways.

This summer has also included some really good food and drinks.

There is no summer without strawberries (I also tried a scottish strawberry flavored cider and it was good but the whisky flavored one was better).

A trip to the UK wouldn’t be complete without afternoon tea. With champange!

And pastries.

Fried vegetables are really the best thing ever and Woodstockholm Vinbar knows how to do it.

Along with the best desserts too! The wine was good too…

Scotland knew its ciders…

…and Italy its drinks…

…and pizza obviously.

Öland also offered some really good food, like this mybakelse for example.

But really, this summer has been all about the ice cream. From Italy with italian gelato…

…and capital ice cream (yes, Fatou is having an ice cream burger!)…

…to ice cream from Öland. So good, all of it!

And with a stop in Söderköping on the way. The ice cream was as delicious as I remembered it from last time and I got to see a lock again! How I’ve missed them! We never got to see it in action but it was still really awesome just to know it was there.

Since one of my New Year’s resolutions was to learn to drink whisky, I was pretty happy to visit some whisky distilleries while in Scotland.

The best one was Glengoyne and I think it’s safe to say that I have learned to drink whisky now. Not the smokey stuff, but the delicious single malt with a hint of honey.

This summer also offered beaches (this one in Ravenna)…

…both home (this is Borgholm) and abroad,

(I never Went swimming in Loch Lomond though)…

…and…

…a number of…

…pretty…

…amazing…

…sunsets.

I got to hang out with family…

…and friends…

…and men in kilts.

I got to sport my sunglasses, which might be the best sunglass purchase I’ve ever made, and I took many selfies with my mother, who was a little less impressed by the whole selfie thing than me, but she was a good sport about it anyway.

Julle on the other hand, he prefered taking pictures himself most of the time.

I got inspired to have an equally great library as this one in Bologna,

I visited cathedrals, baptisteries and churches,

I saw amazing and really old mosaics and I’m so thrilled about the craft,

I climbed that hill and I watched extraordinary nature.

It’s really been an amazing, long, funfilled summer but no matter how impressed I am about it all, mosaics, highlands, beaches, oceans, ice creams, whisky and chathedrals, the one cathedral I always want to come back to, is this one, the one further down the street from home.

“Beach baby, beach baby there on the sand”

Last day at the beach. I’ve been bathing in the ocean, I’ve been eating strawberries and I’ve enjoyed the sun. Simply a day to remember in November.

My cardigan is coming along nicely and even though it’s not very summer-y, with it being a dark purple woolen cardy and all, at least my stitch markers are summer themed. I haven’t seen any dolphins but I have seen sea shells and I’ve worn beach appropriate shoes.

Now it’s time to start preparing for fall but I  will stay in summer mode for just a few more days. After all, it’s not even mid-August yet.

Two years!

“If you find a non-knitter who thinks what you do is clever, beautiful and artistic; who never asks for knitted stuff but wears it with pride when you give it to him or her; and will help you carry home a whole fleece or a stack of stitch dictionaries without once implying that you might want to get a grip – marry that person.” From Knitting Rules! by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, p. 8.

And I did!

Without hairbrush but happy anyway

After a week of this (and some other things as well), I’m back home where I belong. It’s been an adventure but home is where your stash is. I’m back with my tea, my couch, my cardigan and my knitting. What I don’t have is my hairbrush since my luggage got stuck in Frankfurt when we had a very tight connection and had to run from one gate to the other in order to catch the plane. I prefer getting home though, even without luggage, over spending the night at the airport. Hopefully the luggage will come tomorrow. Luckily I had my glasses and my knitting in the carry-on so everything is really okay (except I quite need that hairbrush, but that is solved as well since Julle is a dear and picked up a new one for me). My newest life hack is to always keep my glasses in the carry-on, should I wear contacts when I fly.