onsdag 28 december 2011

Secret Projects (and Not So Secret)

A lot of the time this autumn I have been working on secret projects. New hats and mittens.
I´m not sure what will become of them, but time will tell.

But here is some stuff that is not so secret. A new pair of mittens made with yarn remnants.
When it comes to colour I always find the more the merrier.

I have loved knitting these mittens. What I don´t love quite as much is weaving in all the ends.

This mitten is nowhere near being finished. I haven´t even started on the next one.
And needless to say both mittens still need thumbs.

As long as the yarn is roughly the same thickness and of the same yardage it works rather well together.
And you don´t need to have a lot of yarn left, just a couple of yards/meters.

I made these mittens as part of a project for the group Stick-Salongen that I belong to. There are eleven of us and we meet once a month to knit and talk. Yes, the Nerd Level* of our conversations is pretty high and would probably bore others to tears. But some of the things we knit are quite interesting.

(*Nerd Level is a way of quantifying nerdiness, measured in social outcast tiers)

Last Christmas I (very nobly) gave my Karin Kurbits mittens away, so I´m now working on a new pair.

So now the pile of mittens that need thumbs is now growing rapidly next to me in the sofa. For next Christmas I´m going to ask Santa for a thumb-knitting machine.

lördag 24 december 2011

God jul!

God jul!

A Merry Christmas!

(Needlefelted Santa was made by daughter)

söndag 11 december 2011

All You Need is Paul

Knitting while waiting for a Paul McCartney concert to begin:


 And finally – there he was. With his Hofner Violin bass.

This was the fourth time I saw Paul McCartney in concert. I was in row 4, seat 34 – right in front of the stage. I couldn´t believe my luck! It´s the best seating I´ve ever had. Maybe 4 is my lucky number?

 It was easy to forget the other thousands who filled the Globe Arena, especially when Paul played acoustic guitar and sang without the rest of the band and told little anecdotes.

Next June Paul will turn 70, even though it´s hard to believe. He still has a boyish look and kept rocking for two and a half hours almost non stop. He played one song for John and one for George. And I bet he played "Maybe I´m Amazed" for Linda, though he didn´t say.

My love for the Beatles made me do a lot of half mad things when I was young. I went to Liverpool as a teenager and walked in their footsteps (it was before there was a Magical Mystery bus tour) and I stayed in London and hung around outside Paul´s office at Soho Square 1 as often as I could. And that´s where I met him and Linda once.

I´ll never forget how kind he was to me and the other giggling, young girls who had been waiting for him in the freezing cold (it was January and had been snowing – in London!)
After giving everyone an autograph he shook hands and even thanked us for waiting for him.

A lot of the people in the audience last night wore Beatles or Paul McCartney t-shirts, but I only took my Winter of Love mittens.

The hat I was knitting in the photo above still has no name and now I wonder if  I should perhaps call it Paula? Or maybe Linda – or Mary, Stella or Beatrice (after his daughters). Then there is Jane, (the actress he was engaged to in the 1960´s) Nancy (his present wife) and of course Martha, his sheep dog.

Since it´s going to be a pretty nice hat, calling it Heather is out of the question.

But do leave a comment – I´m open to suggestions!

fredag 25 november 2011

Oh Lord, What a House!

The dilemma of being a tourist is that you want to see spectacular things but you don´t want to go where all the other tourists go, right?

Now, in London there is a rather spectacular little museum that is not very well known. At least not compared to Buckingham Palace or Madame Tussaud´s anyway.

It´s the house of a lord who was one of Queen Victoria´s favourite painters in the 19th century. It´s called the Leighton House Museum and is situated in Holland Park. Surprisingly close to all the tourist hotels but still something of a secret (maybe the British want it all to themselves).

When you enter the hall you get the feeling that Lord Leighton really really liked tiles. I have to admit that I have a thing for tiles myself, but not quite to this extent. The hall was tiled from ceiling to floor and it was an amazing sight. Hundreds of 16th and 17th century tiles from Syria.

But it can be a shocking experience if you are only used to white walls and blond Scandinavian furniture...

The floor was also decorated with tiles – that might be transformed into a lovely knitting pattern.

On the top floor was Lord Leighton´s studio where he painted. Big windows let in the light that made it the perfect place to paint. But there was also the most beautiful stained glass windows.

I have to confess that you were not allowed to take photos in the museum, but I simply couldn´t resist. Before we went on holiday I had treated myself to a new compact camera (a  Canon S95) – and it´s brilliant for taking pictures indoors in poor light. You don´t have to use a flash that would alert the staff who would come and tell you to put the camera away.

And I hope we have a deal here: I show you all these pretty photos and you come and visit me in prison if I get found out and have to go to jail?

Lord Leighton was also a collector of china plates and displayed them on the walls.

And when I saw this plate it reminded me of something else.

My Märta hat – that I made that before I saw the plate.

Even the ceilings in Lord Leighton´s house were decorated. More inspiration for a knitwear designer, I dare say.

So next time you visit London make sure you take the time to visit Lord Leighton´s house.

But don´t tell anyone else – we don´t want the place crawling with irritating tourists now, do we?

söndag 20 november 2011

Looking Back

We spent our summer holiday in London – during the riots in August. We were lucky to stay in a suburb where we didn´t have to fear the mobs roaming the streets.

But the yarn shop Loop is situated in Islington – where the Tottenham uproar spilled over. A number of shops had to close early on the Monday, but on Wednesday the same week I thought it seemed calm enough to mosey on over.

Of course the riots was the talk of the town. But by this time – when I visited Loop – the streets of London were crawling with extra  policemen that had been called in from the rest of England. So I didn´t feel so very scared. Even if my heart jumped every time I heard a police siren.

Once inside the shop it was clear that the trip over to Islington had been well worth it. This is the ground floor with all the yarn. On the upper floor there was even more yarn and a big bookcase filled with books about knitting.

But I walked away with some skeins of Madeline Tosh sock yarn – and Wollmeise!

Yes, there was a big bundle of Wollmeise lace yarn in a deep red just waiting there for me. Last one it was, too. I think the sight of it made my heart jump more than the sirens of the police cars.

While in London I did come up with a new hat design and decided to name it Victoria – in honour of the Victoria & Albert museum that is such a rich source of inspiration.
We decided to take some photos that would sort of hint where we had been.

Teenage daughter is still a good sport and agrees to model my new hats.
I think the pattern is swirly in an old fashioned way, like a Victorian embroidery.

 It certainly was an exciting and eventful holiday. But next summer I think we will avoid London the best we can and watch the Olympic Games from the safety of the sofa in our living room.
Besides it´s so much easier to knit in front of the television.

måndag 7 november 2011

The Best Thing About Syfestivalen

Last weekend I was at Syfestivalen, the Handcraft Fair in Stockholm and preached about knitting gave work shops.

I think I might have said it before but the best thing about giving work shops at Syfestivalen is to be able to drone on and on about knitting – and yet no one you talk to get that glazed look in their eyes and start searching for ways to escape.

Instead people lean in closer in order to hear better. Ladies having fun can be pretty loud and I´m still pretty hoarse after trying to make myself heard above the crowd. It was busier than ever. But I really enjoyed meeting old friends and making nice new acquaintancies.

Last year I talked about how to make your own knitting patterns. This time I shared my best knitting tips – like using circular needles for knitting everything.

Here I am demonstrating how to use two circular needles instead of five dpns and I do take my mission seriously.

People could sit down and try knitting with two colours.

And people did.

I had a helper –  my daughter Elise. While I was busy talking and knitting she took the opportunity to play with my camera. This is a close up of my Britta hat – one of the most popular designs at the fair.

Frequently asked questions were did you really make all these? and are these machine knits? 
The answers are yes and no.

See you again next year I hope!

onsdag 13 juli 2011

Unexpected Things to be Thankful for

That´s definitely a headline that would make me go bleurgh! If I hadn´t written it myself.
But the truth is that this week I´m very greatful that I still have my day job – believe it or not. 
Because my knitting seems to have reached a dead end.

I haven´t even bothered taking photos of all the knitting projects that have gone wrong lately.

For instance, I started a second sleeve that became a LOT bigger than the first sleeve. I ripped and started again. And the same thing happened again

I´ve also come to the conclusion that I picked the wrong yarn for the lace cowl that I started knitting a little while ago – after casting on about 500 stitches and knitting one pattern repeat of 20 odd rows.
So that is a gonner, too.

So last night I decided to knit something completely different and cast on for a cable cardigan in some old Rowan denim that I´ve had in my stash for ages. After five rows it still seems fine – but I´m holding my breath.

Before my knitting became a sworn enemy I did manage to finish two hats though. And last weekend on Edö I even managed to take some photos.

I have made a new version of my Maja hat in yarn from Östergötlands ullspinneri. I think that Ann at Anntorps Väv dyed these colours especially for me some time ago.

The yarn from Östergötlands ullspinneri is quite a lot thicker than the original yarn that I used for the Maja hat and I had to change the pattern quite a lot – or the hat would have become enormous. The re-designed pattern will be available at Anntorps Väv.

And I´m glad that I managed to finish a new hat before all my troubles started.
It´s a hat that matches my Märta mittens.

I think the Märta hat will become one of my favourites the coming winter.
It has a different shape compared to my other hats.

And I think that it looks slightly old fashioned. But as a friend pointed out - most of my designs look slightly old fashioned.

It took a whole week of my holidays to make this hat. It took a lot of ripping and re-knitting. 
Yes, life can be pretty tough even when you´re sitting on the jetty in the sun...

tisdag 5 juli 2011

Home After the Holidays Part 1

Half of my holidays this summer are already over and I´m back in town to work.
I think that I manage fairly well not to feel too sorry for myself – even though husband and children are still enjoying island life.

If I were to rate last week I would give the weather 7/10 skeins. I almost got burnt in the sun.

The temperature in the water was quite enjoyable – 20 degrees Celsius. So that´s 9/10 skeins.

My attempts to grow salad, dill and possibly some radishes (hard to tell in that wiltered state) were – as the kids would put it – an epic fail. 1/10 skeins.

Nope, I can honestly say that I have never  ever considered giving my day job up to become a gardener.

But I can make pretty mean kanelbullar.

8/10 skeins – if I may say so myself.

I also tried my hand at knitting. I got fed up knitting the lace cowl (nearly 500 stitches in each round) in record time. So then I started on a new hat. Inspired by the folk costumes in Dala-Floda I picked red and green from my stash of Loopy Ewe Solids. It´s very nice to knit with.

I was happy with the border, but I didn´t think it suited the rest of the pattern. 

So I ripped it and went back to the drawing board. 5/10 skeins.
And that was all that I had time to do last week. 

This week I´m so busy meeting friends in the evenings that I have NO time to stay at home and tidy up the flat – which was my original plan. Shame isn´t it?

But if I have done my sums correctly the result of last week allows me to buy a total of 30 skeins.
Go me!

söndag 26 juni 2011

With a Little Help From My Friends

I packed no less than three different knitting projects for my five-day-stay in Hälsingland. We spent Midsummer at my mum´s house, on the menu was pickled herring for lunch and rhubarb pie for dessert.

This particular project is the second sleeve for my son´s new Dragon sweater. It only needs a neck band and some sewing before it´s all done. It was easy to knit the second sleeve with the support of all my new furry friends (yes, as you can see my mum has quite a collection of cuddly, old teddies).

I also finished a lovely shawl in green mohair, but forgot to take photos while I was knitting it. I blame it on the loveliness of the yarn, it was mesmerising. 

But I didn´t even start on the third project, a hat from a new pattern because I couldn´t decided what kind of brim it should have. Making decisions is not one of my strong points, to put it mildly.

My mum (aka the Button Queen) does not only have a collection of about a hundred teddy bears and around 600 000 (gasp) buttons.

She also has a modest, but very nice collection of old Swedish mittens. Most of them have been worn and darned with love and care.

Perhaps the inspiration for this pair of mittens came from Norway. Although the star/rose pattern is pretty common in Sweden, too.

But maybe these mittens are Norwegian? Or maybe Swedish knitters also made thumb gussets?

I´m no authority – but I believe that most Swedish mittens didn´t have a thumb gusset. 

No thumb gusset – but I love this pattern! I guess the former owner did too – this mitten has really been worn to the bitter end.

Here the same flower is used in a different way. 

Notice how this mitten has a bit of shaping that is almost a thumb gusset. I love studying interesting little details like this and... Hello – anyone still there? 

Okay, I guess I need to talk some more to my therapist about this – close to unhealthy – obsession with thumb gussets.

måndag 20 juni 2011

Glad Midsommar!

The children and I have already been on holiday for a week, while husband has been slogging away in town. Oh well, noone said that life would be fair.

I have been working hard too – creating a new hat pattern. After ripping back lots of time and returning to the drawing board time and time again I finally find the result pleasing enough to be written up.
The week started off with glorious weather but by the time I was ready to take photos of my new hat the rain was pouring down. Hence the shortage of photos of new, pleasing hat.

But maybe after midsummer – I haven´t seen the weather report so I remain optimistic...

This photo is from my trip to Dala-Floda. Incidentally that would be a great place to celebrate Midsummer – surrounded by people in folk costumes dancing around the maypole.

Maybe not wearing mittens – but you never know. It can still be pretty cold in June.

 Did you notice the nice napped edgings – kavelfrans in Swedish.
After learning how to make a napped edging I went home and made my own "napped edging maker".

First you wind yarn round and round two knitting needles and sew a seam in the middle. You then sew this on to the edge of the mitten.

I knitted a pair of simple cuffs to practice on.

The pink yarn is quite lovely – it has been hand dyed by my mum.

Now you need to cut the loops to create a fringe. Like this:

I could have done with some manicure before taking a close up like this, but I honestly don´t have the time for stuff like that. Too many things to knit and kavelfransar to make.

Glad midsommar!