tisdag 31 december 2013

All the best for 2014 to all of you!

Here are some words of wisdom from Mary Thomas in the Preface to "Mary Thomas´s Knitting Book", originally published in 1938:

"All things are possible in knitting. Women knit almost by instinct, men now for pleasure, though not so long past it provided him with a means of livelihood. (...) Knitting should be done thoughtfully. It should not be hurried. That is its charm to our generation, who live surrounded with a wild helter-skelter of speed. It is creative, and that is its supreme satisfaction. If things go wrong don´t get impatient."

lördag 28 december 2013

One more Baktus

One more Baktus, this time a striped one. The yarn used is from my old stash. Not very good quality wool. It wouln´t do for mittens or socks but it is good enough for a scarf. The red yarn is dyed by me.

I really like this since it is useful, warm and comfortable. I used about 320 grams of yarn (it is a big one) and it took a lot of time to knit.

onsdag 18 december 2013

Money can´t buy happiness, but it can buy yarn which is kind of the same thing

If you have read my blog you know that I think that the yarn from Wålstedts is by far the best available for twined knitting. Wålstedts is a small family business and I recommend them whenever I get the opportunity.

Today I got a tip from my friend Maria about a video presenting Wålstedts Textilverkstad. I think that it is well worth viewing: http://vimeo.com/80980183

lördag 14 december 2013

Knitted socks for the twins

I do not knit a lot of Christmas presents these days because I do not like the stress of having a deadline. However, for the twins I make an exception. Last year I knitted mittens so it seemed logical to knit socks this year. The twins are growing a lot from year to year so I had to adjust the pattern to get at good fit.

söndag 17 november 2013

Garter stitch

"I would like you to consider using this fabric quite often; it is a beautiful one. NO PURLING; just back and forth in lovely KNIT. It never curls at any of its four edges. In short, NO PURLING, NO CURLING." (Elizabeth Zimmermann: "Knitting Workshop", Lesson two: Great Garter-Stitch)

My first contact with  knitting involved garter stitch. I do think I have that in common with many fellow knitters. I made a scarf and it took forever. When I was allowed to progress to knitting socks in the round with double pointed needles I turned my back to the garter stitch and didn´t look back until I discovered the books of Elizabeth Zimmermann. They are very inspiring and she loves the garter stitch.

Reading her books got me to take another look at this stitch that I had been so glad to leave behind - and through her texts I could see that there is more to the garter stitch than being just a beginner´s stitch. It clearly has some nice features and, for sure, it is not difficult.

I had this nice grey yarn that I bought when we visited Solkustens Spinnverkstad in October. It is spun with a mix of  wool: 70% Gotland (in Swedish Gotlands pälsull) and 30% Finnsheep (in Swedish finull). Nice lustrous and rather soft (not like merino of course, but soft enough). I decided to make a scarf that was to be used on a daily basis, no frills and nothing fancy. Plain, grey and very useful.

I browsed my knitting books and when I read Elizabeth Zimmermann I decided that it would be a garter stitch project. One of the advantages with garter stitch it that it creates a rather thick and elastic fabric that is warm - a good feature for a scarf. I then remembered that a couple of years ago there was a rage knitting the garter stitch Baktus scarf, and I thought that a Baktus would be pretty ideal project for this yarn. The principle for the Baktus is that you increase every fourth row until you have reached the middle of your scarf. Then you decrease every fourth row until you are left with the same amount of stitches that you casted on in the beginning. Here is a link to Stikkelise´s Baktus, if you would like to see the pattern.

"Garter stitch is the easiest of all stitches, and one of the best looking. It is achieved simply by working back and forth in all-knit. ... Garter stitch has a very pronounced grain, caused by the ridges of its construction, and it is fascinating to employ it running both horizontally and vertically, so that it catches light and shadow differently. Its interesting texture is thus accentuated." (Elizabeth Zimmermann: "Knitting without tears")

lördag 2 november 2013

Tunisian crochet - Honeycomb Stitch

I have been asked a lot of questions about these Tunisian crochet stitches shown in the post TunisianCrochet (in Swedish: "krokning") from 2012.

They are a combination of Tunisian Simple Stitch and Tunisian Purl Stitch, together sometimes called Tunisian Honeycomb Stitch. In the picture above I have made them in grey/red and grey/grey. In the picture below they are done in light/dark grey and then in the reverse dark/light grey. I do Tunisian crochet in the round with a double-ended crochet hook.

You can find more and more information about Tunisian crochet on the internet. Below is a link to more information about the Honeycomb Stitch. I haven´t been able to find instructions on how to do the Honeycomb Stitch in the round, but if you do it flat first you will soon understand how it works in the round.

Best of luck!


torsdag 31 oktober 2013

Socks in 100% wool - a 4-ply knitting yarn from Rauma that feels promising

I have for a very long time been in search of a 100% wool sock yarn. When I grew up my mother knitted socks for the whole family using a rather coarse yarn. The socks were called ragg socks and we used them all winter in our shoes as well as at home. Originally ragg socks were knitted with yarn where the wool, when spun, was mixed with fibres from goat to make it really strong. I don´t think that that was what my mother used, I have no information regarding the mix of her yarn. But I am pretty sure that it was 100% wool.

This is the "Rauma 4 tr. Strikkegarn" (4-ply knitting yarn) made of 100% wool from the Spelsau breed. It is coarser than most yarns and it is supposed to be very strong and well suited for socks. In other words: it feels great!

The Spelsau sheep (also called Spaelsau, Villsau or Old Norwegean) almost died out in the twentieth century. Sheep resembling the Spelsau have been around for about three thousand years - amazing! Nowadays a "modern" Spelsau also include genes from other breeds such as Icelandic, Faroese or Finn sheep. It has two coats: the undercoat is quite fine and the outercoat is much coarser and twice as long as the undercoat. This Rauma yarn feels as if they have used fiberes from the outercoat in the yarn to make it strong. It also has a nice lustre, probably due to the long strong fibres from the outercoat.

Socks are finished. I will use them this winter to see if the yarn is as strong as I hope.

söndag 13 oktober 2013

A visit to Solkustens Spinnverkstad

Today we visited Solkustens Spinnverkstad together with some friends. Solkusten is a small mill in Roslagen that spins yarn from Swedish wool.
We had booked a tour and we were guided by Ingrid. Ingrid is one of the owners and she told us about the mills history, the move to Roslagen and the wool used for different yarns.
We were also shown the machines and guided through the process of making yarn, from the sorting of the wool to the finished product.
The machines are old, but still going strong. One advantage with these machines is that they are gentle on the wool while processing it. This means that the finish of the yarn will be more lustrous and the wool fibres are damaged less during the process.
The carding machine

The spinning machine
The plying machine
After the tour we visited the shop, I have rarely seen a a more picturesque shop - really inspiring!
Adding to the stash was a perfect end of our visit. If you want to read more about the mill you can visit their home page here. Their information brochure (Swedish and English) is found here.

lördag 12 oktober 2013

Bandweaving - New start

It is now a year and a half since I took a band weaving class at Sätergläntan. A couple of weeks after the class I tried weaving at home, but got very frustrated with my poor result.
I do know that there is no "quick fix" when learning new skills - but sometimes there is just not enough patience available.
These last weeks I have been thinking about making a new try. I bought a yarn better suited for band weaving than the ones that I used a year ago. I searched through our "wool/yarn room" to find the necessary tools and started to warp the yarn.
I even spent a couple of hours  weaving. It felt much better than the previous attempts a year ago.
I chose a simple pattern from the Sami-tradition. I have to start with something that is not complicated so that I can focus on the basics of the weaving. I especially like the colours - so typical for the Sami bands.
Autumn has come and today was a beautiful day. We took a walk to the Iron Age burial site nearby.

fredag 27 september 2013

Huckleberry Lace Scarf

This scarf is a birthday present for someone in my family. It is smaller than a regular shawl and just the right size for warming your neck in autumn. Measurements after a slight blocking are 210 x 35 centimetres (84 x 14 inches).

The yarn is almost all of what was left of my yarn dyed with Jeaba cold water dye after I knitted the Bertha Lace Shawl. It is a rather special blue colour with some green in it and very close to the recipients favourite colour. The design is by Evelyn Clark and as always well written and easy to follow. I would recommend this as a nice and easy lace project that will not take long to finish.

I used in total 115 grams of 2-ply wool. Knitted on a circular needle 4.00 mm. I followed the pattern as written and made no changes. I made 8 repeats of chart 2 and 3.

fredag 20 september 2013

Lord Grey - More crochet and more wrist-warmers

These are crocheted wrist-warmers in wool. I now have to admit that crochet can be fun and extremely inspiring. I find the fabric very nice and dense. With this technique I will be able to make crocheted items that are both nice looking and warm.

For this pair of cuffs I used a stitch pattern from a Russian sweater. I did not use it in its original shape since that was far to wide to be suited for cuffs. I charted it and then I split it in two. After that I turned it 90 degrees and repeated it until I got a match for the required amount of stitches for the cuffs.

The yarn used is 2-ply wool (the red is my own dyeing) and a crochet hook Boye 2.

onsdag 11 september 2013

Ormsta - Brown wrist-warmers

Wrist-warmers in twined knitting. For these I used my hand-spun yarn. It is made from a dark brown Shetland-wool, 2-ply, s-spun and z-plied.
The patterning definitely shows a lot clearly in a lighter coloured yarn, see the white ones. I still like these because they are less of a show-off, you have to get really close to notice the patterning.
The pattern "Ormsta" is available as a free Ravelry down-load, or use the link in the right-hand column under "My Patterns / Mina Mönster".

söndag 8 september 2013

Quality is worth paying for - 100 % wool, what does that mean?

Today we aired our woollen sweaters. I found some sweaters that had outlived themselves. Trying not to waste wool I thought that if I felted them in the washing machine I could use the fabric for other purposes. I was in for a surprise ...

In the pictures below I have photographed four sweaters. Originally they were all the same size. The brown one, always at the bottom in all pictures has not been in the washing machine. The other three have been roughly treated and washed in 95 degrees Celsius, as close to boiling as our washing machine can manage, in a program that takes 140 minutes. No mercy - felting was what I aimed for. All sweaters were bought (not hand knitted), and they were all marked 100 % wool. One was even marked "100 % wool non superwash" (Superwash is a non-shrinking agent). All of the sweaters were marked as "hand wash, 30 degrees".

This is sweater no. 1. As you can see almost nothing happened to it. There has been some shrinking but I could easily get it to be the original size if I stretched it just a little. No felting has occurred. The stitches are still showing clearly in the fabric.

Sweater no. 2. This one has actually shrunk a couple of sizes, but a lot less then I expected considering the temperature of the water and the length of the washing program. This was the one marked "non super wash". All stitches are still showing.

This is the third sweater. This was more the result I was expecting. A lot of shrinking. The fabric is fully felted. It is not possible to identify the stitches or the thread. But, sadly, the entire sweater is full of very short and loosened fibres (it took forever to clean the washing machine). They are on the surface of the fabric and when I brush it they never stop coming loose. It is like hand carding. I can´t use this since the fibres will probably stick to everything that comes in contact with it.

So they are all 100 % wool, none of them marked as superwash. I am very disappointed with the result. Without any doubt something is fishy here. What has been done to the wool? Is it really 100 % wool in the garments? The sweaters are all made in different countries, in different parts of the world so this is not a local issue. 100 % wool without the superwash treatment should show quite a different result. They should all have felted nicely, and if the wool had been of a good quality, no loose fibres would have appeared.

Sadly I have to deduct that none of these sweaters were made of a good quality wool. But how was I to know? I have put my faith in the 100 % wool mark - but now I realise that that on its own, does not vouch for much ...

Quality is worth paying for. I am sometimes told that my favourite yarn from Wålstedts is expensive. But I will gladly continue to pay for a yarn that I know is made with the best wool available, in a process that will do the least damage to the fibres and keep the strenght and lustre in the yarn and thus making the knitted items more beautiful and durable.

I would also be prepared to pay extra for a sweater made of high quality wool (longer fibres, stronger, more lustre and less pilling). The problem is how to find such sweaters. The best way is probably to knit your own sweater using a high quality yarn.

torsdag 5 september 2013

Red and green crocheted cuffs

It was time to use my dyed yarn for some more crocheting. I decided to make another pair of cuffs.
I used an old traditional knitting pattern as an all over design.
Red and green is a traditional mix of colours in Sweden. Not easy to take a good photo of them. The colours in the pictures are not quite right. Wool: 2-ply. Crochet hook: Boye no. 2.

fredag 30 augusti 2013


New pot-holders were needed. I thought it nice to make some crocheted ones (the old ones were made in Tunisian crochet).
They are not as thick as the ones in Tunisian crochet, but I think they will be good enough.
Yarn used is Kampes Soft 8/8 cotton, crochet hook size 4.00 mm.