Greco

Quick lil’ update to tell you that I’ve finished the body on my Greco! This is a great project, I think, even if it has turned out to be a little bit too warm for the summertime. I did a few extra stripes when knitting in the round for added length, but I still feel it’s a wee short — I’m planning to block it quite aggressively + cotton has a tendency to stretch, so. It really is a very fun knit — the lace is simple and easy to memorize and it gets broken up with stockinette, so you have both simple + complex knitting in the same project. The sleeves should be a quick knit — I’ll be sad to see this one go!

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Of WIPs, FOs and Birthdays

Since I last wrote an entry on here (like a month ago, erm), I cast on for loads of different things, finished others and turned 22! *sobs quietly*

I’m currently working on three different projects — two tops and a pair of socks (because sock knitting, as we have established, is life.)

I started knitting Waterlily from the 2014 Spring Issue of Pom Pom Quarterly. I’m knitting it in DROPS Baby Alpaca Silk, in a lilac-blueish colour. It’s a 70% alpaca and 30% mulberry silk blend, and it’s so soft! I got this while DROPS where having their Wool Supersale, so it was quite affordable! I started knitting this in early May when it was still possible for me to wear it, but since then we have entered full-blown, 30ºC summer weather in Portugal. I also got sidetracked with other projects, so this one taking a backseat for now. I’m up to the lace section, which I’ve already had to rip out twice because I got cocky and thought “Why, yes, I can knit a complicated lace section while watching TV! I’m such a knitting pro!”. Ah well.

Back in March I subscribed to Pom Pom Quarterly, and this year’s summer issue also arrived in early May. I love, love the cover pattern, Greco. I’m also considering knitting Michelada and learning to crochet just so I can do Azulejo! I kind of was unable to resist and like a week later I stopped by my LYS on my birthday, and kind of bought the yarn I needed — birthday impulse purchases are the best/worse. The day after that I immediately cast on, and this is where I’m up to. I’m knitting it in Fonty Bohème, a 65% cotton / 35% linen blend in a grey and denim blue,. I have a couple of issues with this pattern, the biggest one being the fact that it is knit according to rows. The pattern will say, knit for x number of rows, and if your gauge is off my one row, it won’t fit. It’s also a bit short for me, so what I’m doing is repeating the 3 and a half rows twice before separating the back and the front. The original design also features an open back, which looks amazing but I wouldn’t feel very comfortable wearing it, so I’m going to knit the front and back panels the same way.

Lastly, I’m working on some background socks which I take with me to knit at the café, or when I’m watching a movie or something. The yarn is Das Paar, which I mentioned in my last post. The skein is split into two skeins, which allows you to knit an identical pair of socks!

These super cute DPN holders were a gift from my boyfriend — after I pestered him for about 3 months to get them for my birthday. They came, as did the yarn, from Retrosaria. I love them! They’re made my Clover, and there’s also a bigger size for larger DPNs — these ones run from 2,0mm to 3,75mm, I believe.

Speaking of birthday gifts, my mom got me this little basket from IKEA for me to store all my yarn scraps in! I basically stuff all my WIPs and yarn in there, and then carry it around the house — the main reason I wanted this was so that when I’m knitting I can place the ball of yarn somewhere instead of having it catch all the dust on the floor.

As for FOs, I finished these cute socks — they’re Opal, from their Hundertwasser collection (the colourway is Der Weg von dir zu mir züruck, I believe.) The heel is DROPS Fabel. I haven’t worn them yet, it’s too warm for wool (and for shoes, I’m sporting my flip flops everywhere already), but they’re going to be very welcome come winter.

DSCN0157I knit another Moss & Deer Horns hat, this time for my mom and in DROPS Alpaca Lima. This one turned out much smaller, but it looks great on my mom so yay! DSCN0129

Remember my Hat for Belgium? I also knit a pair of mittens to go alongside it, and gave both of them to my friend for her birthday. She really liked them! They’re also knit in DROPS Fabel, and I followed Hannah Fettig’s 70-yard mitts — they’re amazing for using up leftovers! Everyone I know will start to get one of these on their birthdays. I don’t even care they that don’t use mittens.

And, finally, I finished the Gryffindor socks for my boyfriend — I wasn’t super happy with these, though. I need a lot more practice in knitting fair isle before I actually get good at it. But, he likes them, so that’s good.

As always, you can check my Ravelry projects page for more info on all these projects, the yarn I used, etc.

An update on sock knitting + life (which are pretty much the same thing)

For the past month or so I’d been eyeing some sock yarn over at Retrosaria and I finally picked it up this week.

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The white is Schoppel-Wolle’s Admiral Cat Print (undyed) and the other is Schoppel-Wolle’s Das Paar, which supposedly knits up into a pair of socks that are exactly alike. The white yarn is going to be knit up into this Rachel Coopey pattern, and the other will become plain vanilla socks. I am very excited about both.

As for what I’m working on, R. asked for a pair of socks with a little fair isle dragon at the cuff a while back. He picked out the colours, and is almost the proud owner of what we have dubbed Gryffindor socks.  The mustard yarn is DROPS Fabel and the burgundy bits are leftovers from my Cranberry socks (which I’ve finished and am sad to say that they fuzz and pill like crazy).

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A few notes on being a fair-isle newbie: I suck at this so bad. My first experience with fair isle was doing the Willard Pullover. I purposefully kept the floats super long and since it’s not a very intricate pattern, it’s not really a big deal if the tension is a bit uneven. But here? I knit the dragon chart twice, and am still not happy with it, but I couldn’t rip it out again. Gather round to hear my tales of woe:

— Being very afraid of not enough stretchiness in the area with the stranded yarn, I knit it up with 3mm needles and the rest with 2.5mm.

— I began my adventure by doing this Portuguese-style = the wrong side of the work is facing me, and I purl every row. This made for a very neat, good-looking dragon, but I completely forgot that if I purl every row in the round I get HUGE ladders. I usually fix this my purling the first two stitches in the next needle I’m working with the needle I’ve just worked with (ignoring my empty needle).

— This meant everything was super baggy and awful. I ripped it out.

— Then, I decided to work it with the right side facing me. No ladders, but such tight floats that it would be impossible for even me to put the socks on.

— Have I mentioned I’d knit the chart twice by then?

— Going back to knitting with the wrong side facing out, I finally got the hang of it — a much nicer result, minimal ladders and even tension. It’s not perfect, really. It’s far from it. But this is my preferred method of doing fair-isle.

— I didn’t know the first thing about colour dominance. After reading about it a bit, I am now chalking up all the weird-looking stitches to that.

All in all, I’m moderately pleased with these socks. R. is always the guinea pig for new techniques/projects so he’s used to less-than-stellar garments. If I were to do this again, I’d keep the 2.5mm needles for the fair isle, though. I did learn that Portuguese-style fair isle is the best method for stranded colourwork — I had fun doing it, and would have had more fun if I hadn’t had to knit the same chart three times. I don’t want to think about the fourth one for the second sock.

As for other life things: I’m reading Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies and it’s so great. Have you read it? It’s set in India just before the beginning of the Opium Wars and has a big cast of characters that all end up meeting somehow — it reminds me of David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. Both are set in very rich, detailed worlds with fleshed-out characters. And heavily feature boats and Imperialism — such fun!

I’m also listening to Jeff Vandermeer’s first volume in the Southern Reach trilogy — Annihilation — on audiobook during my runs, and it’s weird, creepy and intriguing. I’m a big fan of the New Weird movement, Miéville being one of my favourite authors in general, so I was pretty sure I’d enjoy this one. While Miéville veers towards the sci-fi/fantasy/political/economical side of things, Annihilation seems to be a bit more post-apocalyptic. Like Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, only infinitely creepier. It does make for very engaging listening material, especially when running in a deserted park in the morning.

What are you working on/reading? What are your thoughts on fair-isle? Do you have any favourite tips?

FO: Willard Pullover


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Can you tell I’m very excited about my first ever sweater? I am so happy with how this turned out! It’s very warm + soft, fits a lot more nicely than I thought it would and I am so sad it’s already too warm in Lisbon to wear it.

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A couple of notes on this sweater:

a) The pattern is the Willard Pullover by Hannah Fettig;

b) The yarn is DROPS Lima in Rost (for the fair isle) and Off White for the rest;

c) Measure your upper arm circumference and see if it matches the one in the schematic. I completely failed to do this, and was about halfway through the first sleeve when I realized it would look huge on me. I ended up decreasing 10 stitches, but the end result didn’t look as nice as I would have like. If I were to do this again, I would have kept the same number of stitches but used a smaller needle;

d) Before blocking, the sleeves were fine, but it was really noticeable that they were much tighter than the body, so I blocked them quite aggressively;

e) I skipped 2 or 3 rows of ribbing on the sleeves simply because I like them a bit shorter;

f) I bound off both the sleeves and hemline using Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off. A regular cast-on was too tight on my waist, and it caused the sweater to bunch up and look awful;

g) Markers between decreases cause a slight hole that is very noticeable in light-coloured yarn:

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All in all, I’m pretty pleased! The colourwork isn’t perfect and there are teeny tiny bumps everywhere, but I really like it. It’ll be perfect for next Winter. Knitting top down is kind of addictive, and I see a whole lot sweater-knitting in my future.

P.S.: The Ravelry project page is here.

P.P.S.: Simply because I always find this very useful when deciding which size to cast-on and am looking at other projects on Ravelry: I have a 91cm bust circumference (~37 inches), and did the third size on the pattern (104.5 cm = 41 1/4 inches).

A few WIPs

Quick update to let you know what I’m working on at the moment — I’m finished with the body on the Willard Pullover and have knit the first sleeve. Hurray! I ended up redoing the hemline since I used a regular bind-off and hated how tight it was.

Ravelry project page.
Ravelry project page.
Ravelry project page.
Ravelry project page.

I actually knit the sleeve 1.5 times. I was working a 72-stitch sleeve, as my size required, but when I tried it on, it was way too big. So I decreased it to 62 stitches, and it fits much more nicely now.

Ravelry project page.
Ravelry project page.

There are a couple of structural problems with this sweater, though: the decreases on the sleeve are very noticeable, as are the places where I did increases in the yoke. And, as I’ve mentioned previously, the floats on the fair-isle bit are a bit too loose. However, I am chalking all this up to experience and this being my first sweater. It’s still very warm and soft, which is I what I wanted, and it will provide a welcome burst of colour in my other black-brown-burgundy Winter wardrobe. Perfect timing now that Spring has officially arrived.

I finished the first sleeve yesterday, groaned at the thought of having to knit the second one, and picked up my Cranberry socks to work on for a bit.

Ravelry project page.

I’m about halfway through the heel flap, and they’re looking super cozy. This is the second pair I’ve knit using Schoppel-Wolle’s Admiral 4-ply, so I know they’ll become very fuzzy and pill a bit after a day on your feet — it is very thick and warm, but I just wouldn’t recommend this yarn for cables or intricate patterns, as I think they would end up engulfed in fuzz.

Ravelry project page.
Ravelry project page.

On the reading front, I’ve put down Yasunari Kawabata’s Snow Country for a while. I’m reading this one in Portuguese, so I don’t know if it’s a translation issue or what, but I’m not feeling very gripped by the story. Or the characters. Or anything, really. So, I picked up Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, by Amanda Foreman. I watched the movie adaptation of this biography a long, long time ago, but I was recently re-watching Marie Antoinette and was suddenly very curious about the friendship between these two women.

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This book marks a momentous occasion for me, because I’ve discovered that I can knit and read at the same time if I’m reading on my e-reader.

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My reading really has taken a toll ever since I took up knitting more seriously — which isn’t a bad thing, because that means I spend more time creating than consuming, but I have so many books I want to get to, and audiobooks sometimes just don’t work for every book I’m interested in. I’m already 50 pages into it and so far, it’s being very good. I’m very fickle about biographies — sometimes they’re great, narrative and interesting, and sometimes they’re like eating dry flour.

What about you? What are you working on? Have you read this book, or any other cool ones recently? Let me know in the comments below!

FO: A hat for Belgium

Last week, after doing approximately 20357 miles of endless stockinette on my Willard Pullover, I decided I needed a break. I’m planning on knitting Meghan Fernandes’ Waterlily so I had already purchased Pom Pom’s 2014 Spring Issue and printed out which patterns I’d like to knit. The Moss and Deer Horns hat by Silvia Bo Bilvia was one of those patterns.

Dear reader, I knitted it.

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Ravelry Project Page

I used DROPS Big Fabel, which actually has a funny story behind it. When I got into knitting a bit more seriously last year, this was the first yarn I bought that wasn’t a 70% acrylic 30% cotton blend. I was walking to the subway station from class, and noticed a yarn store that I’d never realized was there. Everything was so pretty. So I bought about four skeins of Big Fabel, all set on knitting a cowl. And I did. Kind of. It was actually a big rectangle knitted at a too-tight gauge which I seamed (very poorly) at the edges. It was hideous. I never wore it — mostly because it was super scratchy. And ugly. But! It was the first time I didn’t drop any stitches, did unintentional yarn-overs (not that I knew what a yarn-over was) and I felt very proud of myself. Alas, there came a time when I had to face the fact that I had a huge amount of yarn which was completely going to waste.

So, I ripped it out. I had a giant 400 gram ball that I wound by hand, slightly bigger than my head. I’m slowly using it in other, prettier projects. It’s fun to see how far I’ve progressed in my knitting in less than a year — I couldn’t read a pattern, was afraid of working lace, of doing colourwork, of knitting a sweater! I’m glad I really pushed myself. Knitting is the first really creative endeavour I’ve stuck with, and I feel more comfortable in doing more challenging — and nicer-looking — things now.

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Yes, that mug DOES have a unicorn on it!

This hat is going to be a birthday gift for a friend of mine who is studying in Belgium in the next semester (it’s cold in Belgium, and she might need a hat!). It features this really simple lace pattern that looks like deer antlers but isn’t overwhelming. I really like it, and I hope my friend does too. It’s also a super quick knit — I had it completed and soaking in one afternoon — making a perfect project for when you’re tired of endless, infinite, stockinette. Besides, I used up old yarn, which means I’m being a good knitter. And that means I can buy more yarn. Right?

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What are you working on? Have you finished anything lately? Let me know in the comments down below!

P.S. Thank you so much to everyone who has commented on my wee little blog! Knitters are just SO nice!

Friday Favourites #1

Happy Friday, friends! Here’s a quick round-up of my favourite reads/things on the Internet this past week:

Why I don’t believe in dressing for my body type: A great post on just wearing what you want and what makes you feel good. I feel like everyone has heard of INTO MIND, but if you haven’t, it’s a great blog on building a simple, minimalist wardrobe that works for you and isn’t overwhelming.

— A Portuguese newspaper published a small article on knitting and how it’s regaining popularity. They interviewed Rosa and Vera, who shared the full interview on their blogs (here and here).

Susan‘s sock reports always make me want to knit all the socks, and buy all the sock yarn.

— The always amazing Fringe Association wrote a post this week about inspiring women who have great handmade wardrobes. There is plenty more there to read and explore, I’m following so many new inspiring blogs because of it. And it made me think a lot about my own wardrobe goals/decisions for the future: more on that later!

Pomcast! This is not new to anyone else but me. Pom Pom Quarterly (to which I recently subscribed) has an amazing, hilarious podcast about knitting and other things. It’s a delight to listen to!

— Loved reading Leigh‘s post on working from your stash. This is something I often struggle with, as I want all the pretty things, and ignore that I already have pretty things at home that I can work and create with. It’s funny how you get so used to the things you own you stop seeing them.

Quince and Co.’s new collection for their worsted-weight linen yarn, Kestrel. I am especially enamoured with Yarrow and Hibiscus.

Bookrageous‘ latest podcast on strong female characters. They do a killer job of explaining exactly why pop culture places women on either the weak or strong side of the spectrum, and why that sucks.

— My favourite song this week: Way To Be Loved by TOPS. It’s been so sunny here, and this song is so spring-y.

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As for non-online reading, I’m working my way through two books at the moment: Yasunari Kawabata’s Snow Country and Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places on audiobook — I am enjoying the latter more, as I knew I would. Flynn always writes the most complicated, interesting characters, and super enjoyable, edge-of-your-seat mysteries.

What are your plans for the weekend? Will you be reading or knitting something (or maybe both?) Tell me in the comments below!