design: my block for the blanket

I designed a block for the KarmaKnusDeken, the blanket we are making over at the Dutch Karma Swap Group on

it features two of my favourite stitches, both mock cables: the “Koffieboontje” a.k.a. Little Coffee Bean (right) and the Prickly Pear (left)

they look like stacked balls of wool of which we swap a lot in the group.

The Little Coffee Bean stitch is a stitch well known by traditional knitters in Holland. Everybody learned this stitch and used it in socks, back in the 19th and 20th century. It’s a faux rib and it is very stretchy. It does have a slipped stitch that is later passed over.

The Prickly Pear I took from a sock pattern that has been in my favourites since I (re)started knitting in 2009 and is one of the first patterns I favoured on the Prickly Pear Socks by Thayer Preece.

I used it in the orange waistband of my Oktober Vest too:

this is the Prickly Pear when made from a non-wool material:

it’s a cactus

My block has a bit of perfectionism in it: the balls are stacked upon a little ridge starting with a slipped stitch so there’s a little horizontal line underneath the ball. To do this the knitter has to reduce one stitch before starting the balls.

At the top, the stacks also have a little detail ending them. This meant playing around with the number of stitches a bit. That’s what the grey squares are: no stitch.

 you have no trouble reading Dutch, right? You know about ‘oksels’ already! 

the .pdf with the pattern can be found here, on Ravelry. It’s called ‘Bolletje Bolletje’.

‘bol’ means ‘ball’

‘-etje’ after a word means ‘little one’

so ‘bolletje bolletje’ means ‘little ball little ball’ and it echos a well known street hustling game called ‘balletje balletje’ where you have to guess which cup holds the ball.

(Additionally, ‘bal’ means ‘ball’ but a perfect round one, mostly for playing. ‘bol’ can be roundish and ‘bolletje’ is also used for ‘a roll of bread’ and for ‘a head’ especially the kind of heads you can cup your hand around affectionally. Cats and babies have perfect ‘bolletjes’!

use your ‘loaf of bread’ and petpetpet!

sorry…..I was saying?

right. Designing. It is fun! it takes more of your time then you planned. Because knitting doesn’t always behave and you often think of better things right when you are about to cast of. Designing one block means knitting four.

Anyway, this is the block and I am happy with it. So I put it online last Friday and the Karma Group sisters started knitting. And I learned a few things about being a designer. Fast. But more on that next Wednesday.

credits: picture of breadrolls by Santos, baby by Anoop, cat by Almansour, cactus by Capgros and Prickly Pear Socks by Thayer Preece from Other: mine.


weird wool wednesday: dirty knitting word in another language

when I knitted my first top down sweater it was from an American English pattern and it basically said: “keep increasing the yoke and knit until it reaches the underarm.” Which I did.

That’s how I nearly knit myself a bat winged sweater:

Bat Sweater by Lalla Ward

Because I didn’t recognize ‘under arm’ to mean to be ‘armpit’. ‘Arm pit’ is a kind of a dirty word in America I believe? You prefer ‘underarm’?

Which, coincidentally, is what we over here call the part between the elbow and the wrist: ‘onderarm’. That’s too close to the English ‘underarm’! It even sounds exactly alike.


You ask me, the beginner knitter, to knit to the underarm and I knit to the fore arm. Because the ‘fore arm’ is not really in front of the rest of my arm I’d never think to name that part thus, if anything my upper arm usually is in front of my fore arm. Wait, you have an upper arm? so how do you call the part that’s dangling from that, that should be some kind of ‘lower arm’ right? The ‘not-upper arm’. An ‘under arm’ perhaps, hee hee.

Anyway, I can see how Americans avoid the word ‘arm pit’ if it carries vivid images of the sweaty nook with its hair problem (grow it? shear it? smell it? show the stubble? douche it in chemicals? whatever you do, it emits a social message to your fellow human beings)

In Dutch it does not carry those associations, it’s just the name for a place on your body. Shoulder, elbow, arm pit, collar bone. In Dutch arm pit is called ‘oksel’.

Funny word he? “Oksel”

It may echo ‘oxen’ to you, or Vauxhall Motor cars. Both hardworking entities who might work up a sweat? Not to Dutch ears. ‘Oxen’ are ‘ossen’ in Dutch which reminds us more of a slow pace, dragging your heavy wood clogged feet (‘klossen’)

And Vauxhall care are called Opel cars over here.

If anything, to the Dutch the word ‘oksel’ associates actively to ‘klotsen’ which is the specific sound of small waves lapping against the side of a wooden boat. (we are a sea faring nation). Or your drink lapping against the sides of the glass. (we are a beer drinking nation)

Either way: a liquid making its presence known.

This brings the knitter back to her original effort:

“I really want to get it right this time, I’m knitting with ‘klotsende oksels’!”

I guess ‘arm pit’ is a dirty word in Dutch too…

Peabody sweater: joining sleeves

I’m at that point where you join the sleeves to the body. I never did this before. Usually when I knit bottom up I just finish the body and then pick up stitches in the armholes and knit a sleeve downwards.

Now knit upwards untill your sweater is finished.

I’m having a little trouble deciding where to place the decreases and how much of them when. Normally it’s 8 decreases every other row. But I wanted the look of set-in sleeved since I find that flattering. This involves too much thinking. Because I’d have to do multiple shapings at once: pretend there’s a front and back panel and place their regular arm hole decreases in the body only a bit different because of yes/no bind offs and parked stitches while at the same time try to remember how top down sleeves increase at this point and put those in as decreases upside down…

so this will be a standard round yoke, decreasing about 8 stitches every other round. Perhaps a bit more at the upper bust since I increased a bit extra there for room and I need less fabric there than at my (squarish) back anyway. My back only needs decreases right at the top, to be honest. But that’ll be about it.

When the sweater was still a separate body and two sleeves I tried it on, here are some (bad) pictures:

two things:

1. the lace panel is indeed a bit holey. Don’t wear a light shirt under this sweater.

2. the shaping turned out rather well! This time I went for a size S all the way up to my bust. Usually I do M because that’s who I think I am. But really I am a size S with a big bust. This sweater now fits my lower back and hugs my body right under my bust. (while giving my tummy a bit of room)(because I need it there)(don’t we all)

In the picture there appears to be a bit of a bulk in my lower back but that’s because I am standing awkwardly and also there’s another woolen skirt underneath my teal one and it bulks up just there.

At the stitch marker in the middle you see where I increased like a crazy person (had to get from 70cm to 90cm, that’s 8″) and you also see the horizontal bust dart. It’s just a horizontal line really, running from the stitch marker to your left. Underneath that line there’s a pie slice worth of extra fabric, allowing the sweater to ’round the curb’ without adding extra length to the sides or the back.

The pie slice is done in short rows, knitting to and fro, ín the lace panel, so I had to do stitches in reverse. But I did it and it worked.

(I may have knitted the sleeves too tight. Again. When will I learn?)

getting a gift

last Saturday I was at a wool gathering and there was a woman with felted fleece rugs. I kneeled down and ran my hands through the locks. We got to talking, celebrating felt and wool and women felting.

I briefly ran away to get my Sheep bag and she was delighted: (pardon the cat)

we talked some more, she zoomed in on my illness and we talked how good wool is for the ill. It soothes, it protects, it warms, it connects you with nature. It was a lovely talk.

Soon afterwards I went to find my friends to go home. The lady came after me and gave me…. on of her rugs. The most beautiful there was! her favourite Ouessant!

I was stunned!

it doesn’t take much for my blood presssure to plummet and a nice gift will do that in a heartbeat. So I said: “Excuse me” and flopped down on the floor. I was embarrased of course and I nervously explained a bit about adrenals and blood pressure.

She did the most amazing thing: she put the fleece under my head AND SAT DOWN BESIDE ME. To chat a bit. As if it was totally normal that a person drops to the floor when something nice happens. As if I am not a freak who cannot handle normal life.

It was so heart warming, I could cry. Which didn’t do my blood pressure any good so I had to lay down for a bit longer. We had a lovely chat.

Later I went home with this hug in the form of a handfelted fleece. It lays on my couch now, where I spend lots of time. I feel so encouraged by this tactile gesture by a complete stranger that today I started my search for a specialist who can handle my case of adrenal failure combined with ‘women issues’ aka progesteron shortage. So that I do not have to do this alone any more, wondering every day if I am doing enough or if I’m doing too much and am destroying my body.

It’s amazing to know that I am the sort of person that you can talk to and who is so likeable that you give her something you made with your own two hand and were asking good money for. It is such a boost for me to know I am such a person, even when I am as ill as I am and am white as a sheet, forget my words, stand there trembling, mumbling and confusing myself and others. A shadow of a human most hours of the day but when talking about wool, something shines trough. Something connects.

This lady, she gives felting workshops to do exactly that: celebrate the human connection. thank you Maria, for this gift 🙂

multicolour solution

Once upon a time, I dyed this skein of sockyarn:

Zitron Trekking Sock Yarn dyed with leftover acid dyes.

it was meant for selfstriping socks:

pattern: Skew with mods for high instep and broad foot.

I only have the one sock because I did not like how the yarn knit up. To have all those various shades of colours in the skein and see them end up as plain old paprika stew on the foot! (pepper bells)

So the remainder of the skein got burried in the stash for a while. I did wear the one sock (I’m a Pippi at heart)

Then, earlier this year the skein got tossed into the box “give away or swap”. I just did not love it any more, not when it knits up like this. I had lost my love for a lot of multi colours, I prefer semi solids now. That’s how the box “give away or swap” came to contain ‘a few’ skeins and I felt free to purchase sweater worths of (semi) solid yarn. You know how that works.

But, suddenly, yesterday a piece of wood arrived at my house…. and it needed a bit of scrap yarn to sing. So I grabbed the paprikastew Trekking and started talking to the wood:

at dinnertime I had a wonderful piece of fabric that showed all the multi colours of the skein beautifully:

fresh of the loom, my first plain weave ever.


it’s so pretty! and so fast.

It’s a Rigid Heddle Loom and in a next post I’ll tell you all about it. Right after I welcome all the multi coloured skeins in that box back into the stash.

Peabody illustrates my brainfog. Painfully.

As per plan I frogged the Peabody Sweater back to the ribbing and started to reknit the body on fewer stitches. I had to camp for two days on the couch anyway, what with my structural illness enhanced by my period, so there was time. It took a lot of effort to concentrate but I managed to knit. I placed the decreases in nearly all the right places, made excellent shaping, followed the lace pattern without too many mistakes. Watched Les Stroud taking his body hair out for a walk in snow, deserts and rain forests…

At the end of that I now have knitted up the first skein of the four, I managed to put in 9 hours of concentrated knitting over the past few days. And there’s a glaring mistake.

Nearly all the increases in the lace pattern are made by lifting the strand and knitting through it:

Holey holes, Batman!

Around the leafs there are big holes that should not be there. These holes will show your shirt underneath. Holes I do not particularly love. Holes that can be avoided by my carefully concocted chart that clearly says to knit into the stitch below.

Holes that are the whole reason I didn’t follow the original pattern by Leila Raabe in the first place:

 great pattern! but quite holey.

It’s why I made a chart of my own. With that ridiculous long swatch. And three kinds of increases (YO; lift strand; knit into stitch below) which are clearly indicated. If I had a brain to read with.

I’m so disappointed.

Really, I think I should just follow Raabes pattern and stop trying to be smart when clearly I am brainfogged most of the time. But it feels as a defeat you see. Which is one reason I kept on trucking. On and on and on. Making a swatch as long as my arm. Redoing things. Fixing mistakes. Making another even better chart. Reknitting the body.

But now, now we enter that stage where even I have to admit that this is ridiculous. Throwing good money time/energy after bad is a stupid thing to do. Stupid gets you killed! As does hypothermia. Which is why you should never sweat in cold climates, says my friend Les. Better take of that shirt and let the sweat dry.

Well. I think I’ll have a little cry now, have a little pity party for one -it ís that time of the month after all- and than surrender myself to Leila Raabe’s intelligence. Before I run the change to never want to see this yarn again!

Perhaps one day I’ll admit defeat to this illness. Aknowledge that I am beaten. Resign to the boundaries it gives me (it’s not that much of a bad thing really, everybody has boundaries). The thing is: it involves my brain. It’s my brain function that I can no longer rely on. I have to have checklist upon checklist, monitor my state of mind all the time, meddle with brain chemistry because hormone deficiencies and bad foods make me loose the will to live and that is NOT who I am. And I have to have a back up plan in place all the time in case of severe brain fog, put habits into place to secure my safety. (I’m talking about things like check that the doors are locked, that the stove is off)

Will I ever get around to living another live again? To putting my hand made Inuit sea kayak into the water? To growing a bit of fur and look pondering into the distance?

Les Stroud: funny, not too hairy, handy and a sea kayaker too!

also: he appreciates wool. We like Les.

weird wool wednesday: dancing with Peabody

it’s a rule: when you go from ribbing to stockinette stitch you have to increase your stitch count by 10%. This is because you have to compensate for all the yarn switching from the back to the front and back again between knit stitches and purl stitches.

On the Peabody Sweater I followed the rule. Cast on 140 stitiches, did 20 cms of 2×2 ribbing. Increased with 14 stitches and worked very hard on getting the lace panel right. (increasing at specific places so that the pattern would flow naturally from the ribbing)

rebellious sweater

Which makes it totally unfair that this sweater turns out way too big! See how much it flares after the ribbing? Way way too much.

It’s that foe Gauge again….on the body it’s not the 17 st to 10 cm my swatch told me, it’s more 14,5 st to every 10 cm. I can do with 20 st less than I have now! I’ll have to frog back to the ribbing and do the body on 140 st. (because I am not frogging it all and redoing the ribbing over a smaller amount of stitches too. Too much hours went into this already. Roomy sweaters are ok.)

I hate gauge.

It’s also totally unfair that I arrived in the city with my 7 4 skeins of yarn and 4 7 days of knitting time ahead to redo this sweater.  If I had only brought the chart with me….

it was still in the cabin. The chart I spend days and days on to get it just right. With leaves curling up, hiding their tip under the next one.

Curse you analog world!

So what is there to do when you can’t knit the thing you planned?

Well, there’s always sleeves…

The cruelness of both gauge and forgetfulness have forced me to try a new technique with this sweater: bottom up sleeves. Basically I’m doing a top down sweater reversed. Once I get the body up to the underarms I will attach the sleeves and start knitting in the round upwards. Elizabeth Zimmermann makes it sound easy.

But first, reunite skeins with chart and redo that body!

An Accidental and Sunny Shadow

I started a project by accident: Shadow by Veera Välimäki

design by  by Veera Välimäki

And I started it in a multi coloured yarn with all the colours of the rainbow. I don’t particularly like rainbow yarn. I love it in the skein and I love the colours as they progress through my hands. But in finished items I prefer my colours to not be there all at once.

Still, this yarn I liked instantly:

handdyed sockyarn by Dutch indie dyer Wol met Verve

I proceeded to combine it with a yarn that is yellow, warm yellow, cold yellow and brown (beige really):

Big Boy yarn from Easy Knits in colour Bananasplit

which are all the wrong colours for a wintertype. And it combines a smooth round superwash sockyarn with a lofty 2-ply which is weird. But I love working on it!

It’s simple knitting, it’s funny colours, it’s happy colours. I like it!

weird choice of colours and textures, but I like it

I casted on at a wonderful wool party with my knitter friends. We were at a knitters house that was a treasure: wool and yarn everywhere. Felted objects, artyarns hanging from the window, spinning wheels in the living room, nice comfy rugs and cushions. Lovely place, created by a lovely person!

It was there that I unexpectedly finished the project that I had brought with me and also the back up project I brought along just in case.

Being surrounded by lovely wool people there was one who said: “go on, look in my bag and see if there’s a yarn in there you like!”


here’s me, loving it

and weinding it into a skein on a wooden wool winder made in Estland:

picture from manufacturer. 65 euro before shipping.

chocolate helps

For the KarmaKnusDeken blanket this was the design for the block called Chocolates! :

We love chocolates on the Dutch Karma Swap Group over on where this blanket comes from. We are empowered by chocolates. I myself am fortified by chocolate. Especially by these dark chocolate bonbons I buy from a Dutch tea and coffee entrepeneur called Simon Lévelt. They sell artisan chocolates that only contain good ingrediënts. With real vanilla! (my brain chemistry is thankful.) I always have the “CacaoKernen”, I eat one every day:

or two…

about 2,5 cm x 2,5 cm (one inch by one inch and half an inch high. Full of dark rich chocolate!)

they are made by the small but fine chocolaterier Visser Chocolade. They are a good company: focused on quality, organic, fair trade. And taste, above all. Proof that good will get you ahead.

I just love how the block and my Visser chocolates echo each other. Better start knitting:


The block is a combination of knits and purls ánd of two colours stranded knitting. A new technique for me. I believe Bohus knitting works this way too? It’s a very nice way of using one colour to catch the light with the purl bumps.

first I tried the light colour in combination with the purls because I thought they would catch the light. But that did not look right:


then I tried the dark colour in combination with the purls, much better:



finished. unblocked. have a chocolate.