Dutch Inspiration

We went to Holland and stayed in a wooden igloo. It was at Easter which is ages ago, but life caught up with me for a while. Enough people noticed I had stopped blogging to make me think I would like to start blogging again. Thanks.


There were tulips.


And Noah’s ark.


And lots of other nice things including a really nice wool shop called Knotten. I bought some undyed Dutch Shetland yarn in four of the six colours in which it is made. The kind of thing you can’t easily get outside of Holland and just the right souvenir.
In the shop window was a blanket sample knit up in all six colours.


It’s Kate Davies Rams and Yowes blanket. The pattern calls for Jamieson and
Smith Shetland yarn which comes in 9 natural, undyed shades and I think it is stunning. Looks tricky too! Colour work knit in the round to avoid tricky colour work purls and then steeked. Don’t know what steeking is? It means cutting, yep, cutting your knitting. Wow scary stuff. Something I am really keen to try. I can see why Shetland yarn would work well; it’s got a kind of stickiness to it that would I think mean the whole piece would just sit tight before you sew it up rather than falling apart but I bet it would be a tense moment or two while you cut. Definitely something I’d like to try. And the rewards would be worth it for sure.


In respect of stockinette

At the outset of this post, I acknowledge that English knitters traditionally call this stitch stocking stitch. I call it stockinette, probably mainly because I’ve learned a lot of my knitting skills from American knitters on YouTube. However, I also feel that ‘stocking stitch’ sounds so boring and a lot of knitters think that fits. I don’t.


I’m currently knitting Red a cardigan all out of stockinette with stripes of colour and stripes of black and it’s been one of the most enjoyable and simple knits I’ve completed. Stockinette makes such a great fabric for showing off beautiful yarn. If the yarn is beautiful it doesn’t always need the embellishments of lace or cabling, lovely as those techniques can look, and as much as I enjoy using them. With this knit there has been real pleasure just in the emergence of beautiful knitted fabric. I’ve noticed it features quite a bit in illustration at the moment, with that collage style using textures to make the picture interesting. I’ve even spotted stockinette stitch on a cereal packet recently.

There’s something about the rhythm of stockinette which is so relaxing too. Zooming backwards and forwards (or just forwards if you’re knitting in the round) with such repetition of movement that it becomes a clicking tattoo of needles.

My point is not that I only ever want to knit stockinette. It’s just that when I knit stockinette I always think “wow, that looks nice”.

Myrtle’s-not-too-hot body warmer

Last summer Myrtle didn’t wear clothes. Not really at all. We went camping for a week and the only dirty clothes I brought back for her were night clothes as I wasn’t risking getting woken up by a chilly one year old.


That all changed the week she got chicken pox. Having had to insist at least on her wearing clothes outside our home suddenly she was resolute about wanting to wear clothes, and being very clear about her tastes. Maybe it made her scratch less but it didn’t seem like great timing.


She may never be the kind of child who wants to be all bundled up though so when thinking about what I was going to make for her before starting on something for Red, promised him when they both chose yarn for me for my birthday, I had to bear in mind that she wouldn’t want to be too hot. I had thought maybe a skirt but she assured me she wouldn’t wear it. At least I knew that before starting.


My mum had bought me some yarn on holiday last summer and it took me a while to decide what to do with it. Partly perhaps because it was Manos del Uruguay which, though beautiful I have had bad experiences with.. It was also a variegated colour way I don’t think I would have bought myself, which actually made it even more fun to knit with if a little more tricky to settle on a pattern for.

I eventually decided on a body warmer which I designed myself, using the Manos yarn edged with plain black. I had hoped to give it a hood but couldn’t make the single skein of each stretch that far. I knitted it top down with simple cabling down the front edges. It went really fast. Myrtle assured me she liked it and was excited about it. “This is for me” she frequently told me.


Alas, I got it on her briefly for a very quick photo but she has made her pronouncement. “I am Not Sure”.

All is not lost. Red is going to love his jumper. Of that I am sure!

Grateful recipient

Red is one of my most grateful knitwear recipient and a holiday to Holland provided some good knitting time as well as some exciting inspiration which I will describe another day.

Whilst suspecting Myrtle might not be keen on her knitted body warmer I was sure Red would be really excited about his jumper. We spent quite a while talking about how we’d like it to look. I had some clear ideas about the design I wanted to create. Red had bought the yarn for my birthday: highly variegated greens, browns and yellows in a fingering weight yarn. Not really enough for a jumper. Plenty once I’d added some black of the same weight.

My concept for this was to knit the jumper from the top with the coloured yarn as the main yarn, but to introduce stripes of black that gradually got thicker whilst the coloured stripes got thinner until the black was the main colour. Red was really excited about the idea, and more excited with each fitting, although he did comment the last time that it still doesn’t look that much like a jumper. But it soon will…

Designing yarn

IMG_0087One of the big advantages of spinning your own yarn is you can make it how you want it. Sometimes it’s hard to know though. What would you do with this?

I really like the combination of colours, and it seems to me there are several options. These are two 50g batts so I could divide the fibre into sections and spin it to make it stripy. Not sure. Or I could spin one batt and then the other, doing the colours in three big sections. Or I could combine them into one big skein of yarn with all the grey together, then the white and then the yellow. What would you do? And what project is this perfect for?

Wholly satisfying

The Rocky Coast Cardigan is complete and it was just about one of the most satisfying projects to knit. I loved the yarn (from wool bothy on eBay) and the pattern made perfect sense both in terms on construction, design and instructions. Altogether it made for the kind of project I’ll miss making, if only whilst I’m not wearing this cosiest of cardigans 🙂









Sew: this is different

We have a problem at our ecclesia. No one is quite sure to whom which tea towels belong. The room we meet in is used by a whole other load of people. We just can’t keep track of the tea towels. It’s a big deal, obviously (it’s obviously not, actually but, you know…).


Here’s my solution. This week I bought 20 tea towels and am busy embroidering references from the Bible onto them. I’ve never done embroidery before but it’s pretty fun and I feel there is progress in my skill. The verses I’ve chosen are either ones that have something to do with washing up or getting clean (e.g. Matt 23) or might generate interesting discussion during the washing up or are ones I like (Isaiah 55:13 and Jer 17:8 are part of why we named our children as we did).

I have about ten verses picked out so far. Anyone have any suggestions?

While the pox came to stay

And so with January arrived a really nasty bout of chicken pox for the smalls which came with quite a bit of quiet snuggly knitting time, often whilst Red languished in front of dinosaur programmes. First up was Scottish Reel for which I used some yarn I had hand spun. The pattern was really fun and the yarn was pretty successful and I like the finished piece. Having said that, the patterning is a bit of a waste of time (although it made the knitting more interesting) because you really can’t see it because the yarn is so variegated. I worked this out pretty quickly in the knitting but decided to carry on because I was enjoying it and liked how it was coming out anyway and I don’t think there are better reasons for continuing with a project.


As I’ve mentioned before, I got several skeins of beautiful yarn for my birthday and I’d had in mind for ages a pairing of pattern and yarn for one. The yarn was from Babylonglegs and the pattern was Jared Flood’s Guernsey Triangle
The result is just what I’d hoped it would be. This was such a great project for the gloom of January with this vibrant gold yarn that shimmers like it’s been burnished. The pattern was the right amount of simplicity for tired days and irregular routines and the right amount of interest to make me want to keep going until I’d used the whole skein.


Two more projects to go, but neither is complete. The first is the Nepalese Wrap by Kate Davies which appears in a recent Rowan magazine. I’m making this with all my own hand spun yarn and really enjoying it. It’s absolutely simple and straightforward. Perfect chatting knitting although I have been briefly held up by my yarn production speed.

That’s fine though because it’s given me the chance to really get going with Hannah Fettig’s Rocky Coast Cardigan which has been at the back of my mind for two years, and once started is racing away. Another pattern that is pleasingly simple, effective and interesting enough to keep my motivation levels high. I reckon I’ve got the right yarn for this too (second time round, the first lot got eaten by mice but was probably the wrong thing anyway! We don’t have mice any more – they’re not eating the new stuff). Another knitting friend mentioned The Wool Bothy selling on eBay and of course, having looked at the lovely stuff on offer I put a bid in. Good value 100% merino that I’m really enjoying knitting with.


And the smalls are over the pox and are courageously fighting all the other bugs they’ve picked up in its wake. They’re still looking pretty cute to me though.


It was going to be about Christmas knitting…

Oh dear! Several weeks have zoomed by in a wave of childhood illnesses. Think we’ve had as many this year so far as there have been weeks since the fireworks of New Year. Which isn’t to say there hasn’t been knitting. Uh uh, not so. In fact there’s been quite a bit of knitting. I’ll start with those Christmas presents I was never going to knit.

I decided in August that I wasn’t going to do any Christmas knitting. August 2012. The pressure of a deadline with a knitting project doesn’t work well for me, and there are only a few select people who qualify for a hand knit. The qualification criterion is simple: expressing sufficient appreciation for my hand knit items to make me believe the gift would be appreciated. To be clear, this still doesn’t mean you’ll get a knitted Christmas present. Tough luck, sorry.
Then as Christmas approaches and I read all the blogs with beautiful hand knits ready for all loved ones I begin to think I’ve made a bad decision. That’s when I cast on a couple of projects ready to have some special presents to give. To give late.

Of course, there are good reasons. The first present I planned to have ready for Christmas was the jumper for Ben that has been on the needles for a couple of months. It would have been done quickly except for the other projects that snuck up and enticed me away from it for short while. And all that beautiful yarn I had for my birthday which I just had to treat myself to start knitting with. Then there was my friend with the cold head and the sore back who really likes her new hat so that was very much worth it.

By Christmas the body had been blocked.


Then the sleeves, then sewn up. And the day it was finished (the 9th of January) the present Ben had ordered for me (a ball winder -yay!) arrived, so that seemed kind of right in the end anyway. He likes it more like it looks, and it looks better in real life than here. At least, I think he does. Which is to say, I hope he does. And he specifically requested really long sleeves. Hand knit and own design. Tick. I think.


The other hand knit Christmas qualifier was a very good friend who has started doing a bit more cycling for a new job, and who definitely shows appreciation for hand knits. Even late ones. For her, it was a pattern called Encircle using some hand dyed yarn for my local yarn store (haven’t tried hand dyeing yet, but one day soon I hope). This is a really clever pattern where you knit the band in the round before picking up stitches along its edge. The band seemed to take ages but then gives a nice snug and stable edging and the rest of the hat seems to grow really quickly. Had to do quite a bit of calculating to ensure it came out the right size because the yarn had quite a high silk content and I knew from swatching (hard lesson paid off) that it would grow in the wash. It was very pleasing to find when I finally got to give it, that it fits just as I’d hoped it would and I think it looks great on Sarah. Only got a photo of it on a bowl. She is much prettier.


Fare ye well, chilly head

Squoosh squish goes this hat. Should be really toasty and keep the chill at bay, outside or in. This was fun to knit, something a bit different for me. I’ve always been mostly about knitted jumpers but hats are becoming a new fascination. So many different constructions, quick and interesting and very useful at this time of year.




We don’t need hats inside in our house now. Behold, the perfect knitting environment 🙂