Weekend Inspiration – 02

You can tell that I am desperate for the summer to arrive. One thing that I absolutely LOVED about living in Germany was the abundance of berries. We have some in New Zealand, but nowhere near the amount (and cheap price!) of those in Germany. I just about survived on blueberries and cherries for a while there. These are some blueberries (Heidelbeeren) and raspberries (Himbeeren) at a stall in Hamburg. I stayed in Hamburg for two weeks for a course, and every morning and evening I would walk past this tiny fruit stall with all the gorgeous coloured fruit on full display. 

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Weekend Inspiration – 01

I take a lot of photos of patterns, colours, shapes and generally anything that inspires me. I thought that it might be a nice idea to start sharing a few of those photos here, and explain what it is that drew me to whatever it was that I photographed. I’ll try to post one or two every weekend. I hope that they can bring some inspiration for you too (not limited to knitting, of course!).

This is a picture that I took in Hamburg last year, while I was there for a conference. It is a  swirl of tiled colour, at the entrance to a restaurant (which also had delicious curries!). I am always drawn to flurries of colour like this, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into my knitting, since there is quite a difference between what I like to look at, and what I like to wear (especially since my hair is already a rather bright orange…). I also love the organic spiral pattern, which contrast nicely with the square tiles it is made of. All around lovely!

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New on the Needles

While on my Christmas break back in New Zealand, I bought some Mill End yarn for 3 NZD a ball. Super cheap 100% wool yarn! Mill End yarn is the last production run of discontinued lines, and much like cleanskin or naked labeled wines, you don’t exactly know what you’ve got until you crack it open. Luckily with yarn it is a lot easier to get a feel for what you have before buying it. This one was soft, and a lovely light grey brown colour, so I decided to give it a go. At $3 for 50 grams, it was definitely a good deal!

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I was looking around for a pattern for several weeks. I wanted a cardigan, possibly cabled or possibly with a bit of lace. Something with visual interest, but nothing too complicated either. After favouriting many patterns on Ravelry and not feeling the need to immediately cast on for any of them, something popped up on my blog roll, just what I had been searching in vain for! So I’ve cast on for the Jackson Creek Cardi, and am so far loving it.

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The cables are simple but interesting, and since I am knitting the back and two sides together rather than in separate pieces as the pattern suggests, there is enough mindless stockingette to be able to zone out and watch some T.V. series with.

Stay tuned! This probably won’t go as quickly as I would like, since I am also supposed to be *ahem* writing my thesis, but who knows, perhaps that will actually make it go faster!

FO: Pasifika Dragonflies

I have actually been wearing this for the last few weeks (almost every day). It is my very very first jersey that I knitted for myself: up until now I had only knitted a baby sized jersey. I enjoyed knitting this pattern so much. I started it before Christmas, and after a quick start while camping, I slowed down a bit when I came back to University in January. 

 

The pattern is the gorgeous Dragonflies, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It is incredibly clear and well written, and made my life so much easier! The jersey is knitted top down, which was new for me, but again made easy through clear instructions. The lace pattern is simple, but engaging enough to not get repetitive over the course of a jersey. The only differences of my jersey with the pattern is that I made the neckband a bit lower/shorter (I don’t like high neck bands), and knitted half an extra repeat of the lace pattern to make the jersey longer (much needed when biking in this frozen spring!). Anyway, I know what you really want to see is some pictures – so here they are!

 

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The lace pattern is on the front and the back of the jersey, and it’s slight negative ease makes it great for everyday, but just that little bit glam.

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I made the garter stitch neckband a little shorter, it works very well for me.

 

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I love the details on this pattern, like the garter stitch “seam” down the side of the seamless construction. Or, not pictured, the single stocking stich running up the back of the garter stitch neckband, so I know which is the back and which is the front!

 

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Top down raglan construction

 

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Full shot – you can see the nice length with an extra half a repeat of the pattern.

Darn it

I am spending my windy, freezing spring afternoon giving longer life to my socks… They definitely need it, since at barely above zero degrees Celsius, my feet aren’t yet accepting non-wool socks!

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FO: Stripes and Lace

I finished this shawl/scarf a few weeks ago, and it’s been keeping me very cosy in the cold weather here in the Netherlands. Luckily, the temperature has risen considerably over the past day or two, but it’s set to drop again next week. Cry. I loved knitting this – the endless rows of knit and purl were perfect for watching TV, and in fact I knitted quite a lot of it while flying back to NZ for Christmas break. My projects follow a curve – at the beginning I am very excited and knit a lot, then I slow down in the middle, and by the time I reach the point where I can see the end, I speed up and can’t wait to be wearing it! This is very helpful for a shawl like this, where the rows get longer and loooooonger the further you go – once you get to the “Oh my gosh I can’t wait until this is finished” stage, it doesn’t seem to matter quite so much that each of these rows is taking many many minutes (I never time myself) to knit….

Anyway, on with the ‘tada!’

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This is a super giant half circle shawl, with a lace border. Basically, it’s a combination of two free patterns: Citron (the circular shape) and Holden Shawlette (the lace). Once I got started with Citron (minus the ruffles), I just increased 24 stitches across the row,  in the middle of each white stripe.

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I used DROPS Alpaca, which I can highly recommend. It’s lovely and soft, and warm but light.  I even have one ball of the maroon/red leftover, I might make a matching hat!

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You can see here from the top view how the pattern is worked. It’s started, like many shawls, from the top centre, with the little semi-circles gradually getting bigger and bigger. Because of the increases in the lace pattern, I ended up with some little wings, which I quite like. I tie them together to make the shawl stay on while riding my bike, or tuck them into my coat.

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When commuting, I usually wear it over my coat as in the first picture – with the thick middle at the front, and the ends wrapped back around (and sometimes tied up). You can see them peeking out a little in this photo:

When I’m inside I like to wrap it around me like a blanket. It keeps my arms and shoulders so nice and warm!

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I’ll leave you with one last picture – even the “wrong” side looks lovely! You can see that the edge has rolled over, even though I used a 3 stitch garter border. It doesn’t matter though, it looks like I intended it to do that – and it means that I didn’t have to cut off all the little ends from my Russian joins  (Youtube linke) when changing colours!

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You know you’ve been knitting for too long when….

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Cable impressions on my chair…

Well… I wish that I could say I had been sitting in my chair knitting, but unfortunately I think I was studying instead when I took this photo. The last month or two have been so ridiculously busy and stressful with uni. Thankfully I handed in my last assignment yesterday, and now I “just” need to work on my thesis for the next few months and it is all over!

That isn’t to say that I haven’t been knitting; I have one completely finished object to show you, one small project which needs some frogging and resizing before it’s “finished”, and one project which I am very excited about, and which is 1.5 sleeves away from being done!

Dragonflies and the Pacific

I have exciting news. I started knitting my very very first jersey [sweater, jumper]. Well, technically this is not true, because I did knit one baby sized jersey, which I never shared on this blog, even though it is super lovely and cute! I can’t quite bear to send it to its recipient…

 

Anyway, let’s revise the preivous statement to ‘I started knitting my very very first full sized sweater’. I have challenged myself in knitting a lot over the past year or two, I learned how to confidently knit lace and cables, I have become so much better at reading and interpreting patterns, and there is not a thing on Ravelry that I wouldn’t at least consider. So, I really have all the skills needed to knit a jersey, I just haven’t yet cast on.

 

For my very very first full sized jersey, I decided on the pattern ‘Dragonflies‘ by Joji Locatelli. You can buy it for 6USD through Ravelry. The pattern itself is so excellent, wondefully clearly written and definitely a win for a first attempt at jersey making. It is top-down, which, for the same reasons as toe-up socks, I enjoy immensely. I absolutely hate casting on dozens of stitches in the round, fighting with them for several rows to avoid unintended mobius socks/jerseys. 

 

The lace and cable pattern on Dragonflies is just gorgeous. It reminds me of tapa cloth patterns, which are very common here in the Pacific. 

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Image from Te Papa Museum (click for link).

 

Speaking of the Pacific, I have made good headway on Dragonflies, mostly while looking at that very ocean while camping on the East Coast of New Zealand. Here is Dragonflies enjoying the view from the pub at Waihau Bay

 

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Now I am back home in Tauranga, and though the view is not as stunning, I do have a cuddly helper… 

 

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Travel knitting

What do you usually knit while you are travelling? By travelling in this sense, I don’t mean lying on a sunny beach, or drinking coffee in a foreign cafe. I mean the part where you are on the train to the airport, waiting at departure gates, or in a plane for 12+ hours at a stretch!

I have travelled, in this sense, to a fro from New Zealand/Europe several times over the last year and a half now. I tend to be sleep deprived, so I always prefer something very simple. For non-travel knitting, I like a bit of lace, but in dimmed cabins with sleepy eyes, this is not my favourite things! I want something to keep my hands busy, but not something that I have to think about. I intersperse knitting with a spot of reading (that reminds me, I need to find a good book or two!), and of course, plane movies (the only time I can sit through an entire film or 6).

So far I have usually chosen something like a nice plain sock, but this time I have chosen something a little different to get me through my travelling period of Thursday to Saturday next week! I also like to begin the project before I leave, to get in to the rhythm of it, and besides, who feels like casting on or doing last minute math while waiting in security lines?

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So this is what I have so far. This yarn is Drops Alpaca (Ravelry link) in a dark maroony red, and a natural cream. It claims to be sports-weight, but I think it is much closer to a fingering. I am using 3.5 mm needles to knit a flat version of the semi-circular shawl Citron (Ravelry link), in stripes. I was inspired by several shawls that I saw on Ravelry, which are stripy with a lace border. I especially like this one, and this one, both of which are knitted with Citron as a base. I like it because there is no centre stitch as in the triangular shawls, so the stripes just flow and don’t change direction.

I am thinking of using the lace edging in the cream yarn from the Holden Shawlette (Ravelry Link), but I haven’t quite decided on that yet. I have a long way to go until I have to make a decision though, both literally and with the knitting!

Well, I had better get on back to my new favourite yarn store to stock up on more of this Alpaca – what would I do if I ran out in the air, or even in New Zealand?! I want to make this shawl quite large, and DROPS Alpaca is on sale at the moment! I am also considering a matching hat.

What do you knit when you are travelling?

Hearty Mittens – just in time!

Finally, I finished my Strong Heart Mittens (pattern, Ravely). I’ve had this project in my queue since the pattern was released in September. I had been originally planning to make the handwarmer version, but by the time I was knitting them, it definitely got cold enough here in the Netherlands for a pair of mittens!

heartmittens1You might remember that I knitted these from two balls of Baby Alpaca that I bought in Hamburg.

stash3This yarn and colourway are amazing. The photos absolutely do not do the luminous colour justice. It is somehow both dark and bright at once. As for the baby alpaca, it is a dream to knit with. Because of its drape, I have to admit that it is probably not the best suited for a bouncy pair of mittens, but I just couldn’t resist having the buttery softness against my hands.

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heartmittens3Once I actually started knitting these, they progressed very quickly. The pattern is amazing, and I give so many thanks to Kiwiyarns Knits for sharing it with everyone! I finished them just in time, because yesterday it started to snow here (as you can see in the pictures – I can never find a good white background for photographing my knitting, but this time Mother Nature pulled one out for me!).

heartmittens6I love mittens and gloves, because you can admire your own work as much as you want. If you knit a scarf or a hat, you always have to wait until a shiny surface to catch a glimpse! Not so with what you wear on your hands. Living in the Netherlands, I of course cycle just about everywhere. What a wonderful opportunity to spend time admiring the lovely cables on these mittens!

heartmittens4It’s still snowing today, which I hear is quite rare in the Netherlands for this time of year. Usually if it snows, it will do so after Christmas. So, you can see that I am very much enjoying these lovely mittens! By next week, however, I will be back in New Zealand for Christmas, and won’t need them at all. That’s OK, there is still the European February when I get back here…

heartmittens5Ravelry links: pattern, project