Three shawls, a pair of mittens …

The titel says it all: You will get shawls and mittens for this Sunday.

So far, this year hasn’t been really productive on the knitting front – 10 projects are currents marked with “2017” on my ravelry page (technically, there are twelve mittens, but since Philipp’s scrap socks and the lavender sock are currently in time out, I won’t count them).

Of these 10 projects, 3 have been for me – a fourth is currently on the needles (and, as I said – the lavender socks are in timeout. I might gift them, though. We’ll see.), but the rest has all been knit for wonderful people in my life.

After I had finished my father’s mittens, I got a lovely email at the beginning of February – Susanne from Nadelspielereien was throwing a birthday party, I got invited! YEAH! The email included the best invite ever: Bring your crafting! Now for those of you who read Susanne’s blog (if you speak German you should totally do it!), you know that Susanne is an avid cross stitcher, sews like a boss, and is incredibly talented at crafting and organising kids’ birthday parties, and upcycling, and decorating, and, simply, the best recipient for a handmade gift, because she knows how much time and love goes into it. Naturally, after accepting the invite, my first thought was: “What to knit her?”

I had gotten a couple of gift cards for bookshops for Christmas (which is the best, after books), and I had treated myself to Hunter Hammersen’s Curls 2, a wonderful book with a great collection of shawls that can be knit with any yarn in any size at any gauge you like. After going over the patterns twice or thrice, I settled on Subterfuge and bought yarn.

Susanne loves the sea, I knew that much, and I wanted to have colours that reflected the sky and the sand – which was exactly what the yarn did when I started knitting it up.

Subterfuge has two sides, on being a bit more subtle than the other one. I realised that I preferred the “wrong” side over the left one, but it is wearable either way, and really beautiful.

The yarn was a bit fuzzier than I would have liked it, but you could see the stitches okay, and so I powered on.

In the end, I ran out of time (the rows get long really quickly), and I would have preferred it to be a bit bigger, personally, but in the end, there are 460 metres of yarn in this shawl (that’s 503 yards), and I hope it is big enough.

I bundled it up, took the cake I had baked for dessert (food was going to be buffet-style, and I loved the concept, because everything was delicious and it went incredibly well together. I haven’t forgotten about the peanut soup, the apple crumble, and the puff pastries filled with salmon and/or bacon!!) and off I went. The evening was great – we were all women, mothers, colleagues, bloggers, Scottish Dancers, librarians, teachers, and I was incredibly thankful that I got invited!! Susanne said she loved the shawl, and although she is allergic to wool (AAAAAAAAAARGH!), I hope she can wear it despite.

 

During the party, I cast on for another birthday present. Anyone who has read this blog for quite some time surely knows that Monika, Little M.’s gran, is REALLY knitworthy – over the years, she has gotten an assortment of socks and shawls, and she loves everything dearly.

For her birthday, I had decided on making her The Big Skinny, a simple but fun pattern by Little Church Knits. The garter stitch shawl is knit in aran weight, and after spending a lot of time in the LYS, comparing yarn colours, I finally settled for camel and mint, which reminded me a bit of the 50’s, but seemed to be exactly Monika’s colours:

The shawl is big and uses up a lot of yarn for sure – the border instructions were a bit confusing, but with the help of a fellow raveler, I managed to figure it out.

Since this is 100% merino yarn, it’s wonderfully soft, but not too heavy – perfect for wearing it during Spring and Autumn in the evenings, or during winter time.

Since the ends of this shawl are really long, it even looks fancy when tied.

When Monika got the shawl, she looked at me, looked at the colours, simply said: “Mine!”, put it on and wore it for the rest of the day. YEAH! I have already considered making one for myself – with grey as the main colour and berry for the border.

The last project (before the great blanket desaster) was for a friend of mine. Lenka and I met … thanks to serendipity, I presume, because we “met” through a random post on tumblr. It was pure happenstance, but we have been getting on like a house on fire, and I could not be happier to have met her. Lenka is kind, caring, smart, has a great sense of humour, a sharp wit, and is as enthusiastic about all things Witcher as me (it’s her I have been writing the fanfiction story with. Just sayin’.).

Lenka wants to be a psychiatrist when she has finished her studies, and right before her first big medical exam last October, she got a package with something handknit from me:

This shawl was so much fun to knit, it was my summer project, and the pattern is Wendy’s Fern by Princesse Grenouille. I bought the yarn during my splurge at Tinkus last year:

And it is simply wonderful, 100% merino, a bit splitty, but so, so soft, and the colours this yarn comes in are amazing.

The shawl has a design that has been very popular for quite a while: A mixture of garter stitch and simple lace, and it was a pleasure to knit from start to finish. According to the picture Lenka sent me, it was also a big hit.

SCORE!

Since the shawl was met with so much enthusiasm, I thought MITTENS when her birthday came up, and set to work right away. The pattern is Fallberry Mitts, a knitting pattern, in size M, knit with some leftover merino yarn from Zitron (yes, I might have a theme going on).


These mittens were so much fun to knit, and, apparently, come in quite handy, too!

That’s all so far. Caught up with the most important stuff … Except … one shawl. But I will safe that for later.

For now, I am going to work on a pair of socks.

And yes, these are for me. 😉

All the love!
Julia 😀

Advertisements

The Epic Fail-Relief

Wow.

These last months were somewhat hard. I was pretty stressed in February already (that was why the last posting was really cheery – not), and then, at the end of March, something (a cold?) hit me so hard that I spent two weeks (2 weeks!) on sickleave, in bed, running a fever(!) and not doing much (except munching my way through two kinds of antibiotics. The second brand worked wonders, but left me stoned for half the day).

Work was a lot, in both jobs, I didn’t really have time to work on my dissertation until … the middle of April, and now I am really starting to freak out, because I have been at it so long, and I’m nowhere near I’d like to be and I’m fearing all kinds of things and … I am working on one of the original texts now, the historical/political chapter is halfway done, and I have read a ton of books and articles. I should be good. But … yeah. It’s eating away at me. There was some mess with a new contract in the second job, and when somebody asked me: “What do YOU want?”, I was really close to saying: “I want to go somewhere and sit there in solitude and sleep a lot and not talk for … dunno. Two weeks. Or more.”

Sometimes, admitting that you’re screwed is somewhat relieving, isn’t it? Like, yes, you messed up, but at least the thing is out of the bag, and now you deal with the aftermath. Let me give you examples.

Exhibit A – Socks.

I had this testknit I wanted to accomplish,

but I really could not concentrate for more than five minutes straight, so I contacted the designer immediately, and was released from the testknit. The pattern is out now, it’s Leaves Changing by Penny Schumers (if you like to knit your socks toe-up, there is a toe-up version as well), and it’s absolutely wonderful. I will post decent photographs when I am done with the second sock.

Exhibit B – Socks again.

Philipp’s sock kicked my arse pretty hard as well, so these are not finished either.

Somehow, “three times the charm” was key here, because that was how often I had to start over before the fabric was okay. I am not really happy about the cuff and the heel flap and heel, but … yeah, well. That is the way it is now. The second sock is – guess what – still in yarn stadium, I’ll get to it.

Exhibit C – the best example. A blanket.

Then, friends of ours (L, who got socks for her birthday last August, and her partner) are getting married this year, and I asked them if I should knit them a blanket. They were absoluely delighted and sent me a couple of pictures of what they wanted (I told them to think about what they wanted. I thought, they’d mention colours or something. My mistake). The blankets were gorgeous, but all crochet (L. sews, but doesn’t knit or crochet), and so I sent them a  picture of EZ’s April blanket, and we settled on colours, after a few emails and I set to work.

We bought a lot of yarn.

These were the colours (the white was the border) and this was what we ended up with.

They had requested small squares, and I had a sinking gut feeling about the whole affair, to be honest. Like “I can’t do this in this time”. They told me not to worry – they could imagine it was a lot of work and if they got it in December, that would be fine – but still. Somehow, this blanket was a HUGE spot on the mental TO DO list, and it was eating away energy constantly, because whatever I was doing, I felt that I should knit on the blanket and then I fell ill (as I said) and then I entered a state in which I was constantly overwhelmed. I started to join the first squares, and then discovered that, somewhere between squares, my gauge had changed and I was making larger squares than intended.

I made more (larger) squares and joined them, and the pressure got higher and higher and I found myself getting up in the morning and being absolutely drained of energy. Small things overwhelmed me.

So I bit the bullet and when we spoke to L. on the phone earlier this week, I brought up the subject. We were chatting about what’s to come up (the next two months are going to be SO FULL at the weekends, by the way) and what has been happening, and suddenly, she said “Oh my God, and then you have the blanket to knit … DO NOT STRESS ABOUT THE BLANKET. If we get it in December or next year, that is totally fine.”

I then suggested making two cushions for the bed, and then she said: “Erm… to be honest, the bed is already full. We have a ton of cushions.”

I thought I was going to lose it, but Philipp took the phone and explained that it would be a lot of work to drag until the end of the year, and she said: “Of course, and it would be yet another constant thing on her to-do list.”

“Exactly.”

“Hey, you know what?”, she said, “forget the blanket. DON’T MAKE THE BLANKET. I’m happy to take a pair of socks like the ones you made me last year for my birthday. I love them. You know I ALWAYS have cold feet, and I love the colours, they are so, so pretty, and I am wearing them constantly.”

“For real?”, I asked, “I am really feeling I’m letting you down on this.”

“No! You are not. You’ve got so much on the plate. If I get a pair of socks, I’ll be incredibly happy.”

It was almost too good to be true. She will get a pair of socks, two pairs, to be precise (one for her birthday, and one for Christmas), and her husband will get a scarf, made out of the white merino yarn.
I know that his is a no-go. I was brought up to be true to comittment, and it was incredibly hard to step up to these two, whom I have been friends with since we were all 16, and tell them: “I am sorry. I know I promised you a blanket for your wedding, and you were really looking forward to it, but it is not going to happen. I cannot do it. I’m sorry. It’s not possible right now.” I know that some people will find this impossible, and I am still beating myself up about the whole damn thing.

But then, there is – relief. Relief that I am free from this, that I have one HUGE thing less to constantly worry about, one thing less I have to drag myself to do, and free to choose yarn for a really beautiful pair of socks for her, and a gorgeous scarf pattern for him, and knitting these gifts freely, and with a happy heart, knowing that knitting brings me relaxation again, and picking up the needles is a way to let go after a hard and draining day.

So, for everybody who is experiencing a lot of stress right now, for whatever reason: Be wise about what you promise. But, please, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and admit that you have bitten off more than you can chew, and that, if you’re not allowed to spit it out, you’re probably going to choke.
Take care, my friends, and all the love! The next posting will be happier.
Julia. 🙂

Against the stress.

I will take a deep breath now and focus on writing a nice, calm post about knitting. And yarn. And planning presents for wonderful people. Because I just read another news article (this time about the upcoming French election), and the nationalism shown in the comments make my guts turn. I cannot escape politics right now. I check the news several times a day and in 90% of the time, something new comes up. Some of it is good, but most of it leaves me sitting in front of the screen with disbelief and worry.

I could write more about this, but I won’t. Enough. I need some space to breathe and to relax. There are other things, good things, important things. I think it is wonderful that in times like these, act of kindness still happen, and we should show them more, and use them to remind us and others that not everything has gone down the drain.

Here we go.

1. Look at this.

geschenk-von-stacey-januar-2017

Last year, I found Stacey from weekendknitter on tumblr (or rather: We found that tumblr was another way to connect for us, as I have been reading her blog for ages, and she, as I am happy to say, reads mine, occasionally), and it’s wonderful to see her short postings about spinning and spindling and doing all things yarny there, and to be in touch. Stacey is a mother of two, a wonderful, strong person, an incredibly talented (fiber-) artist, and she is all kinds of awesome. We updated our addresses, and she spotted this at Joann’s and send it to me. It’s absolutely terrific. Not only are the articles interesting (what awaits you at a fiber festival, how do you spin batts, how can you play with colourful fiber and spin it up the way you want to knit it later), but the patterns in this magazine are great. Simply wonderful. Stacey, I love you, and you’re one of the best people! 🙂

2. The mittens are done.

raucherhandschuhe-07 raucherhandschuhe-04
Knitting them was really interesting – I have only knit fingerless mittens before, and while I didn’t find knitting the fingers hard (it wasn’t even as fiddly, because I was knitting with aran weight yarn and 3.0mm needles), I changed the pattern a bit and measured my father’s hands thoroughly. I am really happy about the stripes (the original pattern has two, which looks nice as well), and, what is most important – my father loves them, and they fit him fine.

raucherhandschuhe-05 raucherhandschuhe-06


3. I bought yarn.

250grams of aran weight, to be precise.

shawl-fur-monika

As you may know (or not know – well, you know now), Little Church Knits (link to designer page on ravelry) has a Free Pattern Friday every week – this week, it’s The Big Skinny. (link to her blogpost, where you will get the code for this pattern).

Little M.’s grandmother will celebrate her birthday next month, and she wears mostly cold colours, so I thought that a nice garter stitch shawl would be a wonderful present for her. I am not 100% secure about the colour combination, but I like it, it reminds me of art deco somehow, and something else I cannot quite lay my finger on. But I hope she will love it as well.

4. I knit myself a new pair of socks.

wearing-my-greens-05

Last year, we were doing a Secret Santa at work. Quite a few colleagues joined us (we were ten people in the end), and the coworker who drew me got me – yarn. While I probably wasn’t the hardest candidate to get a present for (everybody at the office knows I love to knit), she really put a lot of thought into it, went to a LYS, asked whether the ball of yarn she selected would get me a pair of identical socks, because she was sure I’d prefer that (!), and made sure that one ball of yarn would be enough for a pair of socks at all. I was over the moon with joy, and at once decided that this would be the first sock project of the year for me.

wearing-my-greens-06

This was my travel project for January, so I put an afterthought heel in and did them in simple stockinette stitch. I love them! Yarn is Schoeller+Stahl Fortissima Color, knit on 2,0mm needles (64 sts). (Yes, I have worn them at work and showed her the socks. 😉 ‘Course I did.)

5. Philipp is getting scrap socks.

When I weighed my “leftover” stash last year, I discovered that I had about 750grams of “leftover” sock yarn. This is quite a lot, particularly, because some of the balls are about 30grams. I put three colours together (the little ball at the top of the picture might not be used, I haven’t decided yet) and, after asking Philipp whether he approved of them (he did), cast on.

wolle-f-restesocken

The toe was knit in Opal Sweet & Spicey 2 “Weintraube” (the bright blue yarn), and now I am alternating the green yarn and the Regia yarn. Actually, I am on the second version … the first sock had really big ladders at the sides, but it’s better now.

10-for-31-02 10-for-31-01

There is more to share, I knit so many things for Christmas I didn’t get around to blog about, and I took pictures of my stash as well – guess I am going to write one big post about all the projects and show them off in one go. Meanwhile, keep your heads up, my friends, and your hearts open! We will get through this, I know it.

All the love!
Julia 😀

Colour Explosion Sneakers

I have said it once, I have said it twice: I don’t think that knitting heavily-patterned socks while using colourful yarn is a good idea.

You just won’t get anything out of it. Every once in a while, I see folks using commercial-dyed sock yarn (say, Regia or Opal) and knitting intricate, complicated patterns, mostly with really fancy cables.

And all I can think of: “It’s naught.” You can’t see the cables properly, because the colours get in the way and the stripes (which are a big part of Opal yarns, usually) don’t work into each other harmoniously, so you cannot appreciate the pretty colourway either. It’s simply not worth the effort.

Now look at this:

Colour Explosion Sneakers 05

These socks were knit of a Regia yarn that is simply called “Regia 4-ply color”, and obviously, I didn’t stick to my own rule. I bought this yarn in June, after having bought two balls of it for last year’s Julklapp in our knitting group, and eyeing it ever since then. The yarn is really pretty:

Regia 4-fädig 01

It’s also really busy, changing the colour of the barberpoled-yarn every centimetre or so.

I took it to my sister’s birthday (which is at the beginning of August) and cast on 20 sts for a pair of sneaker socks after coffee (and cake).

Colour Explosion Sneakers 01

After finishing the toe, I started with the  Hermione’s Everyday Socks pattern, and, after a few rounds, showed my grandmother what I had done. She eyed the sock suspiciously.

“I don’t think it’s worth the effort”, she finally said. “Frankly, I wouldn’t bother, and knit it in stockinette stitch.”

Of course, I didn’t listen, and when I came to the point where I had to start the gusset increases (which for me is after 12,6cm), I added a bit of texture:

Colour Explosion Sneakers 07

I know that this is nowhere original, I have seen socks with garter stitch gussets a couple of times, but I have always found them to be very pretty. The fun fact about garter stitch gussets is that they look very fancy, but are easy to knit: Simply increase your stitches as you normally would, and purl all your gusset stitches when it comes to the second row (“knit all stitches”). I increased until I had 14 gusset stitches, but kept the first and the last stitch before and after the instep as a knit stitch, to have a smarter edge.

Colour Explosion Sneakers 02

The heel flap was knit with slipped stitches (I find that they make the sock really comfortable and sturdy – none of my socks had ever any problem with the heel flap) and then I continued the leg for about 7 rounds (6 on the second, because what the heck, the sock was long enough), and topped it off with 10 rounds of 1/1 ribbing for the cuff. I bound off using Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind off, and wow.

Colour Explosion Sneakers 06

I’m in love. The socks are colourful, the texture is lovely, and I really love the look of them, although you can’t spot a damn thing unless you’re near enough to see all the small details. They made a great travel project when I went to and from work, and the pattern, while keeping me interested, was not complicated at all, which allowed me to knit a few rows in between writing a huge crack-fic (a “crack fic” is a crazy, funny story, a crazy fanfiction story in particular) with a friend of mine in the evenings (yes, we are over 700 pages. After about 2-3 months of writing. We’re bonkers). Today, I bound off, sewed in the ends, and weighed the remaining yarn.

Regia 4-fädig 02

1 gram is left. I am a happy camper.
Have a great start into next week, my friends! Take care!

All the best,
Julia 😀
P.S.: OH, by the way? Last night, we went to Duesseldorf to celebrate L.’s birthday, and she got the pair of socks I knit for her:

Summerchild Socks 07

She wasn’t as enthusiastic as I would have hoped (she didn’t squee or say anything about the pretty colourway), but the socks fit and she was opening presents in front of all the guests. I’m biding my time, and hope that she will love them. 😉

Hearts of Ice

Did you ever see a pattern on ravelry and thought: “Yes, I am going to make this. I am going to use [this] yarn in [that] colour, and it will look beautiful and amazing and I will be very, very proud when I have finished it.”

Polly Jean 01

Polly Jean was such a pattern.

I queued it about two years ago, I think, when I was still newer to sock knitting and deemed heavily-patterned socks like these too complicated to be ever knit by me. But although I never knew whether I would make them at all – I definitely knew that I wanted to knit them in a soft light blue.

Polly Jean 02

Well, May 2016 rolled around, and I found myself sitting down with two 50gram balls of light blue sock yarn by Wolle Roedel and a set of 2,0mm DPNs, casting on the first sock of a pair of Polly Jeans.

Polly Jean 06

Now, I have found that there is a special magic to heavily-patterned socks. As you proceed from the cuff to the leg, you find yourself wanting to knit “one more pattern repeat”, or “another half of a pattern repeat”, and then, quicker than you thought possible, it’s time to divide your stitches for the heel flap, and before you know it, you have turned the heel and are working your way through the gusset decreases.

Polly Jean 05

I knit these socks exactly as the pattern stated. I even knit the cuff shorter than I usually do – normally, I go for about 5cm of cuff, because that’s what my grandmother taught me when she taught me how to knit socks, and that’s how I like them.

Polly Jean 04
The toe instructions of these beauties held an interesting surprise for me as well: While you decrease as you normally would on the bottom half of the stitchs, the top half sets the decreases within the pattern, shaping the last heart (or leaf, depending on how you see them), and thus making the socks a great fit.
Polly Jean 03
And so, after two years of falling in love with this pattern and putting it into my queue, I can proudly say that I knit these socks in the colour that I wanted and that they look beautiful and amazing and that I am very, very proud. 🙂


All the love, my friends! Take care.
Julia 😀

Shortly in Between

Dear all,

I am sorry that I have kept quiet so long and haven’t even responded to the last comments – I am swamped with work and French (my oral exam is next Wednesday). I am sorry for this and will post this weekend!

In between, please enjoy a picture of tiny mittens instead of a regular blog post:

Tiny blueish hands

Lots and lots of love!

Julia 😀