Finished Knits

2017 in Makes

Monday, January 01, 2018

Happy New Year! Welcome to my first post of 2018, which just so happens to be a look back at 2017. Feels a bit odd to come here and do a year review post, since I've posted so little over the past year. On the other hand I always enjoy doing these posts, and perhaps it will help kick-start the blogging habit again in the new year. Here it goes!

 2017 has been an odd year for me. It's been one thing, while simultaneously also being the complete opposite. I know this doesn't make sense, and maybe that would be my key phrase to describe the year as a whole. There have been many big changes for me this year, but at the same time I've felt like I've been mostly standing still. I've been incredibly busy, but at the same time it's all been such a blur that I now struggle to see all the separate parts that made up this year. It felt like both the longest and the fasted year ever. It's been a difficult year. Politically, it's been a dreadful year and it felt like steam roller crushed the whole world. I've never felt so alone, but at the same time never felt so connected and so much solidarity as when reading about politics on social media this year. It was a year of opposites and maybe because of that it hasn't felt like the year of anything really.

My year in making has a similar tone. Initially I was inclined to label this year as a disappointment, make-wise. Granted, due to the nature of my character I always lean a bit to the self-critical side. But after giving it some reflection, 2017 in makes hasn't been that bad, in some ways it has even been pretty good. Let's hop to it....

2017 has seen my crafting time being very limited, especially during the first half of the year. It's been hard. Hard to find time and in turn also hard on me. It's shows in the amount of makes that I've finished this year and it also shows in my diversity in making. Knitting is my main gig, but I enjoy and do a lot more, usually. Because time and energy levels were limited I noticed I mostly fell back to what I know best -knitting- and ignored the rest for a while.
Nevertheless, I'm actually super happy with almost all the things I did make this year. I've crossed some big things of my to-do list, did some new things and most importantly made some of my favourite makes to date. As a side note, I have some makes that I haven't blogged about yet, and while they do cheer me up, I won't include them here, mainly because I think that makes for slightly chaotic and confusing reading. Maybe it should be a New Years Resolution to blog and instagram about them soon?

𝄢 Sewing

My favourite two sewing makes this year did make the blog. First up is the Driftless cardigan from Grainline studio that I made in the beginning of the year. This turned out to be hands down my most worn sewing make ever, and inspired me to sew some more "basics" like t-shirts etc (which haven't made it to the blog yet). It's the perfect kind of boxy and cosy and it has giant POCKETS! It's the kind of thing I can throw on over dresses or shirts when it's too warm for most of my knits and too cold outside to go with bare arms. I can definitely see myself make a bunch of these in different colours. Biggest hurdle might be finding nice, good quality knitted fabric, but I'm still trying to find my way in the world of fabric so that could be at play. 

My other favourite sewing make for this year was the Cleo Dungarees by Tilly and the Buttons.
This make came out almost exactly like envisioned and I'm super pleased with the end result.  This was a style experiment to see whether dungarees and this silhouette suits me and I'm please to say that the experiment was a success. The project has convinced me I need more dungaree-like things, more corduroy, and more burgundy in my life (thought tbh, I always need more dark red in my life).  

𝄢 Test knitting for the first time

I did my first two test knits this year, both for Jennifer Steingass of Knit.Love.Wool. I never test knitted before, and loved being asked. It was great fun to see what all the other test knitters made of the pattern on the day of release. The first one I did at the start of the year in January. Telja is a modern take on the classic Icelandic yoke jumper, which is of course one of my favourite things to make and wear so it's no surprise that I like this jumper so much. I put quite a bit of thought in planning this sweater, colouring the chart in different colour combinations before settling on this palette. It is quite satisfying to see this project through from direct inspiration to the finished thing. -- also, it was a lot of fun taking pictures of it in the snowy landscape!

Fern and Feather was the other test knit I did for Jenn, this time in Autumn. This is again a colourwork yoke sweater, but the feel is quite a bit different with a more minimalistic yoke design and maybe less overtly Icelandic, though predictably I did opt to make mine in Lett Lopi. I did make the yoke two-coloured to make it more like phoenix feathers (my inspiration) and also to make it slightly less minimalistic as I'm not sure if true minimalism is my forte in terms of colourwork. I made it in one of Istex' new colours, galaxy, which has definitely found it's way into my top favourite colourways.

𝄢 Showstopper

Windermere is my showstopper of this year. Ticking this big long-term making goal of mine made me feel a lot more confident in my knitting.  This project was a long time in the making, I adjusted the project to meet my needs and even though the project was put on hold often I eventually pulled through and finished it. I feel more motivated and confident to tackle more challenging and/or time consuming project. I'm very happy and proud this jumper and I love wearing it, and that's really all there is to say!

𝄢 Knitting for a baby

2017 was the year my brother and my sister-in-law had a baby, and I became an aunt. Apart from that being a huge personal change, it shows in my making as well. I made couple of things for Luca in the past year: I made a rainbow sweater and an Elijah toy when he was born in May, and a little Christmas jumper earlier this month.

Seeing him wear the stuff I made, and play with the little elephant I knitted for him has given me more joy and pride than I (as a mainly selfish knitter) expected or could have predicted about myself.  

𝄢 A year in colourwork

A post shared by Nelson (@treehouse_nisse) on

This is my 'Best Nine' collage on instagram, meaning; my most liked instagram posts in 2017. I thought I'd post them here as well because I feel at this moment they reflect me as a knitter very well. One of the things I like about knitting and making is that I feel like I'm still growing, learning and developing myself as a maker. I feel that this year, maybe more than ever, I know what I like to make and wear. I'm better able to distinguish what I like in general, and what I like for myself. I can enjoy well crafted minimalist designs, for example, but at the same time I'm completely certain they're not what I like to make or wear. I knit mostly colourwork, because that's what I like doing and wearing best. I find that I like knits that have a lot 'going on'. The only knits that I made for myself this year that didn't have colourwork were cabled. I'm excited to see how I will change and grow in my making next year and what my 'best nine' will say about me then.

While I did make a lot less then I'm used to, the makes that I did finish were all winners, even the ones that haven't made it to the blog yet. I hope, when I commit those ones to the blog, you'll like them too.

I wish you all all the best in 2018,


Luca's Christmas Sweater

Friday, December 29, 2017

Well hello there! I thought to try to squeeze one more FO-post out of the last week of 2017. I can't tell you how weird it feels to already be looking back at 2017, but since I might actually write a 2017 review post, I'm going to leave most of the looking back for that post. For now, it suffices to say that although I haven't blogged as much as I'd like, I have been crafting, and among my makes is a surprisingly high number of gifts.

I'm not a big gift knitter. I know I'm not, and that's fine. I don't feel guilty about not making more stuff for others: I love to knit and I love to wear my own knits. This year though I've knitted significantly more gifts than other years. Of the gifts I knitted 75%, was for my nephew who was born earlier this year, which makes me think he's got something to do with it. I guess having a tiny size is a big part of his gift knitting appeal, but being able to melt hearts with toothless smiles doesn't hurt either.

So a couple of days before Christmas Eve I decided that I wanted to knit him a little something. Now I realise that as he gets older and the urge strikes again to knit him something, I have to adjust the time management on this, but since for now he still is a tiny thing, spontaneous knitting days before a deadline are still achievable.
The pattern is Anders, by Sorren Kerr. It's a pattern that has been on my radar for a long time. I think it's stunning, and I loved it before there was a little one close enough for me to knit for. I mean, to be honest it is basically a pattern I could have knit for myself if the size was there.

I used drops cotton merino for the jumper. I haven't often knitted with this yarn. To be more precise, I think the first time I've used this yarn was for something else that I knitted for Luca. I found it difficult to decide on a yarn for baby knits. I wanted to use natural materials, but as I've noticed the past few months, being machine washable is not unwelcome when knitting for kids. Drops cotton merino comes in a range of fun colours and as far as I can tell it doesn't wear too bad, but I'm probably going to have to branch out at some point. Yarn suggestions are always welcome!

This project was also my first time doing a vikkel braid, though I have used variations like the Latvian braid before. I think it's a beautiful detail. I did leave it off at the cuffs and bottom ribbing, but this was because of time management, so if I had more time I probably would include it. One thing I like about the pattern is how it's designed to be reversible; it can be worn with the buttons to the back or to the front: the advantage being keeping the buttons safe from baby hands and baby jaws in case the wearer is too inquisitive.

I took two days of frantic knitting, but I'm pleased to say that I actually got it finished on time. I blocked it overnight and might have made use of a blow-dryer in the morning to get it somewhat dry- but dammit I had a train to catch. It was actually still a bit damp in places when the parents unwrapped it later that night, but the blocking succeeded. Turns out, it was dry the next morning, and if the snapshots I've been sent are any indication, he's been wearing it non-stop ever since.



Sunday, November 05, 2017

Thought I'd finally come around and blog about that sweater that I've been talking about for months now. What an epic project Windermere turned out to be! It took a long time to knit, mostly because I knitted it during one of the most intense years of my life, made mods, and took pauses to work on other things in-between, but still it was one humdinger of a project! It being an all-over fair isle design, with a boxy oversized shape and needle size 3, meant a lot of meters to knit. I finished her in August, but it was way to warm to warm to go outside and take pictures of a woollen sweater (oh knitter woes!) and after that, test knitting feather and fern and with all the craziness that is the rest of my life, I actually kind of forgot that I still needed to blog her (for shame!). Anyway I got my act together and here she finally is in all her glorious woollyness!

I know that I have been working on this project for a while, so I may be repeating some things here, but I thought it would be best to make this post as complete as possible. So Windermere is from Marie Wallin's collection Lakeland, the second collection she published after going independent from Rowan. Windermere immediately caught my eye, and I knew I wanted to knit it right away, but you know how it goes with life, and a sizeable queue of other must make knits.

The yarn is Jamiesons of Shetland's Spindrift. It's a fingering wool. The main colour is Pine Forest, while the white contrast is Eesit. The pattern calls for Rowan Fine Tweed, which is now discontinued.  I think they discontinued it just around the time I decided to make this pattern. While I liked Fine Tweed, the colour range was very small (especially compared to a brand like Jamiesons) and I already had a colour vision, so I was off to look for an alternative. Because I used a different yarn my gauge was a bit smaller than the pattern calls for. Given the massive amount of ease in the pattern, and the boxy shape, that didn't bother me too much. In fact I had been thinking of going down a size anyway. So all in all, while my version is still oversized and boxy, it is less so than in the original.

I really enjoyed working with Jamiesons Spindrift. While it was my first time working with Spindrift I have used their compatriots Jamieson and Smith loads of times and their jumperweight is comparable. A lot of people used them interchangeably in the same project. The colour range is, like with J&S, enormous and should make any knitter's, but especially a colourwork knitter's heart skip a beat. Unlike J&S, Spindrift comes with a host of dainty names, including the Eesit and Pine Forest that I use.

I started this sweater in the beginning of 2016 as written per pattern with a flat sweater construction. I didn't think I would mind so much stranded purling, but I soon found out that I absolutely did mind, especially if there is a much easier way: knitting in the round with steeks. While I have quite some experience with steeking, it's a very particular kind of experience; cardigan steeks i.e. cutting into a sweater to turn it into a cardigan. I never steeked armholes or necklines. I was throwing myself in deep on the first try, and to be honest I fudged quite a bit on the spot, so you might come up with better solutions if you plan ahead a bit more, but this is what worked for me.

Of course, there are lots of sweaters in the round without steeks but they have a different shape than this one, so without mucking about the shape, steeks are required to turn this into a knitted-in-the-round sweater. You find these type of steeks in nordic ski sweaters for example. I've come across them less often on Ravelry. I think big design houses and yarn brands like Rowan and Garnstudio omit the steeking and just write patterns for these type of design with a flat construction, presumably because their audience is more familiar with such a construction. On Ravelry one of the first designs I've come across that uses this construction with steeks for armholes and neck is Tortoise and Hare by Kate Davies. More recent designs that use this construction are Brooklyn Tweed's Ashland and Dianna Walla's Ebba design. If you never worked a design with this construction before you might find it helpful to read through a pattern of a design that uses it so you know what to expect when converting a flat design to knitting in the round with steeks. Dianna Walla also has a helpful tutorial on "how to reinforce & cut armhole steeks" which I studied methodically before actually cutting in my sweater.

Now onto what I actually did steeks-wise for this sweater: First I omitted the seam line stitches, when casting on, because you are knitting it in the round and therefore don't need the extra stitches for seaming. I think I omitted 2 seam stitches per side seam. For the steeks I added 5 stitches per steek, so arms and neckline. As with my previous steeks, I used a sewing machine for reinforcement. I had to re-sew one of the the steeks when I discovered I'd missed one or two ends of yarn, but after that it worked like a charm. Once you pick up the stitches for the armholes it's pretty smooth sailing. Don't forget to knit the chart back to front though, as the original is knitted from the cuff upwards, whereas you'll be knitting from the top down. I just knitted the short rows back and forth. It's a really short bit and I was too focussed on getting to the finish line to figure out a different way. I had to get used to the short row instructions as they were written in a way that I'm not familiar with, but they worked out just fine. After I finished the shoulder shaping, and cast off the body, I cut open the neck steek and then picked up stitches for the neckband.

To summarize my experience of knitting: even though I feel like this one took me ages to knit up, I really enjoyed knitting on this project from start to finish. I expected to get tired of it towards the end, but that didn't happen. Instead of shying away from intense fair isle designs it actually made me hungry for more, though in hindsight, does that really surprise me? In fact I've already planned out my next big stranded colourwork project! (After I finish up a few smaller projects...)

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