C R O W

49904124248_6ce6e5934d_b

Pattern: Ondulée by Julie Hoover
Yarn: The Fibre Co. Cumbria Fingering [colour: Derwentwater]
Needles: 4mm & 4.5mm
[More project details on Ravelry]

Lockdown brought completion of a project for myself also. This cardigan/wrap concoction had been on my needles since mid-February, and procrastination from writing finally helped me in tackling the seemingly never-ending mattress stitch involved in the completion of this project.

49904943342_89a25bb0a2_b

The original plan was to put this to good use during the spring months commute into work, but now I’ll have a lovely luxurious layer for morning writing here at home instead. And I’m sure its time in the wild will come at some point. The piece has everything I’m looking for when making new pieces for my capsule wardrobe: a timeless shape, an interesting construction, and it involves a high quality material that will hopefully last for many years.

49904943277_38d796dd84_b

[c] says I look like a crow in it [hence the project name], but as I know the blueish-black intelligent crow is his favourite kind of bird I’m sure it’s meant as a compliment…

49904124773_d21dbf1708_b

There’s still half a ball left of the yarn, and I’ve already cast on a nice little project I’ve been wanting to do for ages. More about that soon!

img_1547

Ghirlande [Lockdown Garlands]

So much can happen in the span of one knitting project to the next! Wherever you are, I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy, and you are able to navigate all the challenges that come with a global pandemic the best way you can.

Here in London all is as well as it can be. [c] flew in from Vienna on one of the last possible flights before lockdown, and I am currently furloughed from work with salary, and can take advantage of this time to make progress on my PhD writing as much as my unfocused brain allows. So, among all the catastrophes, there is also a lot to be grateful for.

I am especially happy and relieved that about a week ago, my friends [c] and [m]’s little baby boy was safely delivered in a hospital in Rome. So, at some point during the coming weeks, I will venture to the post office to dispatch this:

49882369517_e72e67a479_bPattern: Garland Sweater by Anna & Heidi Pickles
Yarn: King Cole Anti-Tickle Merino 4 ply [colour: Clerical]; Hazel Knits Artisan Sock [ Colours: Frost & Zest], The Uncommon Thread Tough Sock [colour: Capsicum]
Needles: 3.5mm & 4mm
[More project details on Ravelry]

I made this little sweater, geared at use next autumn and winter, from bits and bobs of leftover yarn from other projects, and really love the cheerful colour combination of orange, pale blue and yellow (already contemplating a similar garment for myself!).

49882369582_e9627be2f1_b

I’ve not practiced my stranded knitting in a while, so some of the stitches turned out a bit wonky, especially as the fibre content of the various yarns I’ve used varies, but overall I’m quite pleased with how this turned out, and with how I was able to manage the tension of my floats:

49881532893_7d1573b643_b

I’ll post my next finished project soon [all my pandemic anxieties are currently channelled into knitting and crafting…].

Norfolk

The curse of “one sweater per year ” is finally broken – at least for 2020. About a month ago, I had to stay home for a couple of weeks to recover from a minor routine surgery, and while my mushy brain was struggling with writing and reading, knitting provided the exactly right amount of intellectual and physical challenge to keep me entertained [ [c] and The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel also played an important part of course!]

49542001473_467f070544_b

Pattern: Halligarth by Gudrun Johnston
Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Loft [colour: Birdbook]
Needles: 4mm and 4.5mm
[More project details on Ravelry]

The shawlette is a long overdue gift for a dear friend who resides in Norfolk and is the guardian of an ancient apple tree orchard, as well as a textile curator with a specialism in lace. I decided that this traditional lace motif depicting a copse of trees, knitted up in her favourite colour, would be the perfect pattern match for her.

49542001098_5af1e39dd8_b

The weather here in London has been miserable over the last two weeks, which means in combination with my energy levels still not being 100 %, there was plenty of weekend time for needles and yarn; the next [tiny] project should soon be ready to share.

49542723072_131466e9ce_b

 

D E C A D E [ A Sweater per Year, Vol. III]

49404247296_c5bf7fbdfc_b

Pattern: Patenten by Lone Kjeldsen
Yarn: Walcot Yarns Opus [colour: Grey]
Needles: 3mm and 4mm
[More project details on Ravelry]

This Saturday of January 2020 finds me enjoying the winter sunshine with [c] in a lovely pavilion in Waterlow Park, close to our tiny London flat in N19. It is a day of peace, quiet and recovery, after what has been one of the most exhausting years by a long shot. Without wanting to go into too much detail, the last twelve months or so have felt like a never-ending repetition of challenges at work-work, trying to fit in PhD-work, energy-draining health issues involving bouts of chronic pain, and also several bumps and scuffs relationship-wise, as [c] and I are both struggling to figure out how to approach this next decade, both as individuals and as a couple [there were also many, many lovely moments, it was just not smooth sailing].

49404446582_6c4b7e63c0_b

As is so often the case with my making, these emotional challenges manifested themselves not only through a noticeable absence of knitting in general, but also in the way this project stalled and evolved, and yet again stalled and evolved throughout the past year. I started to work with this lovely yarn, bought at Edinburgh Yarn Festival in 2017 during my all too short time in Scotland, about a year ago in January 2019. As spring, summer and autumn passed, I went through three [three!!!] different attempts of finding and settling on a a pattern before achieving the result you see in these pictures. I knitted, looked at the progress, doubted, was unhappy, cursed, unravelled. Then I researched, found a solution, was hopeful, happy, and made a new start. And then all of this all over again.

49404247401_252192a7df_b

There was no particular reason for why I abandoned this sweater’s previous incarnations – all patterns were lovely, fitted the yarn, and were interesting projects to make. But somehow, I think this project’s longwinded progress finds its mirror in other parts of my 2019 life, with lots of unexpected ‘knitting’ and ‘unravelling’ going on elsewhere, and not always in a pattern to my liking.

49404247241_c26978ae0d_b

But in the same way I am now very pleased with my new garment, despite and perhaps also because of some difficult memories it embodies and holds, I am also looking back at the last year as something perhaps not pleasant, but surely necessary. It is part of my life’s fabric as much as the yarn, which for so long I forcefully tried to bend into other shapes, is of this this sweater’s fabric. And that is something incredibly useful to carry with me into the next decade.

49404247341_4195486b30_b

Happy 2019 [and Another Sweater]!

Happy New Year! May 2019 be a wonderful, healthy and prosperous one for you. I’ve just returned to London from two restful and quiet weeks in the Tyrolean Alps, with lots of sleep, reading, catching up with old friends – and also some knitting.

image

Pattern: Chocolate Stout by Thea Colman
Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Worsted [colour: Denim Blue] and Isager Silk Mohair [colour: 23897 Forest Heather]
Needles: 5.5mm
Buttons: Olive Wood Buttons via Loop
[More project details on Ravelry]

As you may notice from the image above (sorry for the bad quality, I only had my phone on me over Christmas), both pattern and colour choice do not fit my usual “simple shape and miles of stockinette” behaviour. This is because I made this cardigan not for myself, but for my mum who turned eighty last August, and requested a cozy garment to wear around the house in the cold winter months –  a huge responsibility coming from a former master knitter who unfortunately had to stop knitting some years ago, as it causes her too much back pain (she’s still an avid embroiderer, though!).

image-2

My mum has a very different fashion style from mine, and in her choices, is often inspired by the traditional Tyrolean folklore costumes she grew up with. This provided me with a welcome opportunity to experiment with a pattern I probably would not chose for myself: lots of braids and a very classic silhouette, of course in a nice heathery forest green! My mum likes the result – the only modification she asked for was to omit the shawl collar, which she deemed as “too much”. Instead, I worked a simple button band with 4 short rows around the neck to make the cardigan sit nicely across the shoulders. I also had to use 5.5mm instead of 4.5mm needles to hit gauge. A very clearly written pattern and a good and sturdy yarn for every day use – I hope my mum will get a lot of use out of this.

image-3

 

A Sweater per Year | Vol. II

31842207948_938d612f77_b

Pattern: No Frills Sweater by Petite Knit
Yarn: Isager Higland Wool [colour: Denim Blue] and Isager Silk Mohair [colour: 44]
Needles: 3mm and 4mm
[More project details on Ravelry]

Winter is looming, which means that it is time for my annual check-in here, to report that I’ve been able to knit myself a lovely little new sweater in time to protect me against the upcoming November storms. Nothing much to report here: I went for the usual simple shape and stockinette stitch combination, knitted up with a pairing of the most luxurious and soft yarns imaginable. And – no surprise here – it is a winner!

30773678177_2c27479952_b

43896383410_5a881ee0f0_b

In other news since I last wrote here in April 2017 (!): 2018 saw me on the move again, this time from Glasgow back to London, for a job offer at my favourite museum. I’m very happy with this decision, although I miss Scotland, its landscape and the friends I made there, and although the PhD project had, once again, to be put on the back burner (don’t ask …). But I will get there, in due course. For now, I am enjoying being back in the Big Smoke, and having this amazing view when writing at my little desk in North London:

IMG_6005

 

 

Up Knock Hill

Earlier this month, when the famously fickle Scottish weather granted us a few days of unfettered sunshine, [m] and I took the opportunity for a Sunday trip to Largs. Located on the west coast of Scotland, or more precisely, on the Firth of Clyde, Largs is just an hour by train from Glasgow, making it an ideal destination for a day trip.

The seafront is dominated by two large Gothic Revival churches from the Victorian era. Other notable buildings include Skelmorlie Aisle, an early-17th-century mausoleum with a fine painted ceiling, and Nardini’s, allegedly Scotland’s most famous ice cream parlour, still housed in its original Art Deco structure dating to the 1930s – a testimony to Largs’ long history as a seaside resort.

On this occasion, however, we didn’t pay too much attention to any of these attractions, but simply walked along the seaside promenade and then headed straight for the hills north of the town. The first part of our walk took us through pleasant farmland. As we passed close by several farms, we also encountered all kinds of farmyard animals, both large and small…

 

As you’d expect in Scotland, though, most of the animals we saw were sheep…

… and, given the time of year, not just sheep, but lots and lots of lambs, teetering and frolicking in the meadows.

But lambs weren’t the only ubiquitous thing typical for the season: Wherever we went, the hills and hedges were covered in yellow broom which turned the landscape into an almost surreally colourful spectacle.

The effect became even more surrealistic as we walked further uphill and the vegetation changed into a grassy moorland.

Eventually, as we ascended Knock Hill, the highest elevation in the area, even the broom disappeared, and we found ourselves wandering through barren moor.

Knock Hill offers great views across the surrounding countryside and over the Firth of Clyde…

… all the way to the isles of Bute and Arran…

… and back down towards Largs.

It is said that the top of Knock Hill consists of the earthworks of an iron age fort. Whatever their origins, the rock formations up there provided a welcome shelter from the wind and, consequently, a lovely place for a picnic with a view.

Eventually, we made our way back towards Largs, albeit on a different route – part of the Ayrshire Coastal Path – closer to the sea.

The general character of the landscape didn’t change that much: We were treated to more views across the Firth of Clyde…

… more rolling hills, more yellow broom…

… and, of course, more sheep. Not that we minded. As the saying goes, you can never have too much of a good thing, can you?

Largs, too, looked every bit as lovely as in the morning, only a bit brighter and sharper in the late afternoon light.

As it turned out, it had also become a lot more crowded. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones who had opted for a Sunday trip to the seaside, and the seafront promenade was buzzing with people. So, for all of Largs’ attractions, we couldn’t help thinking that heading for the quiet of the hills had been the right decision after all…

Springhill Gardens Saturday

33382224793_95d5190114_b

The view from my writing desk is stunning this morning, with all the trees in full bloom, and the sun shining in a glorious blue sky. This will hopefully make for a productive day of PhD writing, interrupted by a stroll through the park and a nice brunch with [c], to make the most of this lovely Scottish spring day.

Some of you may have noticed that with the thesis submission now seriously looming [160 days, to be precise], I’ve returned to knitting as my favourite tool of procrastination and therapy. So, here I present you another project complete:

34193161165_ec8695fcf8_o

Pattern: Fort Grey by Fiona Alice
Yarn: The Uncommon Thread Tough Sock [colour: Confetti]
Needles: 2.25mm
[More project details on Ravelry]

I think this is the most entertaining sock project I’ve ever knitted, with so much going on at every corner: a Turkish Cast-On and a Stretchy Bind-Off, purl stitches, knitting stitches, slipped stitches and some serious cabling all helped me to keep the writing panic at bay, and to get my creative thinking going.

34152359486_f0663f67c1_b

34152368366_1fbd932452_b

[c]’s cardigan

33788508305_43fd04003a_b

Lovely baby boy [c] was born last autumn to my dear friend [k], and finally, I’ve found the time and perfect little pattern for making him the obligatory cardigan:

33632177202_7993029da4_b

Pattern: Carl’s Cardigan by PetiteKnit
Yarn: King Cole Merino Blend 4 Ply [colour: 49 clerical]
Needles: 4mm
Buttons: Textile Garden
[More project details on Ravelry]

I love the vintage look the smocking stitch has to it, as well as the 3D-effect it creates. I had to struggle quite a bit to understand how the stitch works and how to get the tension right [much cursing and unravelling was done in the process], but am quite pleased now with the result – not only is the pattern pretty, it also creates an extremely elastic fabric, which will be perfect for growing along with baby [c].

33632176022_429d556f42_b

Now off to the next tiny project in my backlog, which will involve green yarn and a hood…