reasoning towards a winterhat

I want a winter hat.
A warm winter hat with a double knitted layer around my ears. It has to be sophisticated, so I can wear in the city.

On Ravelry I’d made a “bundle”, which is a sort of collection of bookmarks, to narrow down my idea and to keep my focus on target:

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 13.14.38

There’s a preference for cloches. Light colours. No slouchy models. A lot of stranded knitting because I have that Holstgarn Noble burning in the stash:

But since I made that bundle the weather has grown colder and I find I’m wearing my thick aran hat every day so I don’t think a light fingering hat is going to cut it, even if it’s stranded and super soft.
Besides, I need to wash the yarn first, to get rid of the spinning oil and that’s just one hurdle too much in the daily things to do.

Aran hats are fine! You know I’ve been eyeing this one:

Neon Ski Bonnet by Lacey Volk,
It may be leaning towards the childish side of “sophisticated” but that’s ok. There are some two coloured versions in the projects page that show that “childish” can mean “well made” and that “sophisticated” doesn’t equal “stern”.

The other day I cast on for it but the strip that’s supposed to go over the ears turned out far too narrow. And there are a lot of cables in that strip which my shoulder doesn’t particular like.
So I threw a temper tantrum and cast it aside.

Today I decided to approach my new winter hat from the other side: start with the yarn.

At the moment I’m in the city and the yarn is in the cabin and I won’t get to see it until Christmas. (Some planning errors occurred.)
But last time I was there I threw some balls in a bag because of that yellow hat I planned, and here they are:


All aran weight. Lots of blues even though I don’t like to knit with blue and one of my two sophisticated warm hats is already in blue (not knitted by me).

The three balls at the top left are too harsh to wear against my skin. They are alright (two are Cascade) but not soft enough to wear all day. And that’s how I wear my warm hats, all day, inside the house too. (thyroids are darling)

The bottom half of the yarns are single plies. Very soft and luxurious, with silk. A pleasure to wear! Some great colours.

But single plies pill like a pharmacy.
Already I have often have to take scissors to my other sophisticated warm hat, the one I knit last year:

The Devonshire Cream Hat, in lovely Bowmont yarn. Plied yarn and it still pills a lot (because I wear it a lot and do not knit very tight).
No, I shouldn’t chose a single ply for my third hat.

This leaves … nothing on the table.

Luckily I brought two other yarn, which are both soft and multi-ply. They are way too dark for what I had in mind. But I’m going to use them:

The black is a Drops Big Merino. A superwash, which I usually avoid and also tends to pill more than non-superwash. But hey, it’s yarn, it’s plied, it’s soft.

The multicolour is Creatively Dyed Carnival with wool, cashmere and angora. Worsted weight. This is one of the first luxury yarns I gave myself as a gift. I have knitted numerous things from it but was never satisfied with it. So each time I frogged the item, washed the wool and looked for a better pattern.
(I do this with other yarns that are too good to be true too. Do you recognize this?)

It’s been a shawl, another shawl, a little vest, I did numerous studies with elongated stitches or lace stitches to tame the mottled effect a bit… I tried assigning certain skeins to certain garment pieces because the skeins vary a bit:

It’s even the yarn that performed centre stage back in 2011, when I needed some serious wool items to just make it through the day. I had done my first colour analysis and bright cool colours were supposed to make me look good.

This is taken on the day that I went out for a whole day to something fun, by myself, for the first time since I’d fallen ill in 2008.
It was to the first (and best) “Haak-en Breidagen”, a knitter’s fair:

I was very ill back then, I hadn’t figured out my ME nor my Addison’s disease properly.
But by then I had realized that funny dresses, rings, tiara’s and handmade items are just sensible contents of a survival kit. And I didn’t care who laughed at my outfit. (nobody did, actually.)

I think this was the year I pulled an April fools’ prank and had created a sock puppet account on Ravelry and told everybody that my name was “Marina Merino” or something like that. UPDATE: “Merina Hamel” was my name! Thank you Judith! “Hamel” = bellwether, the leading sheep of the flock. 

I wrote that I had a flock of black cashmere goats that produced heavenly wool and would people like to knit a sample? They only had to bleat to me, at the fair, which happened to be on April first, and I would give them a free sample of my “black gold”.

This is the black gold I gave people, “goat droppings”:

a Dutch specific little licorice called Kokindjes

The day was such a blast! We had so much fun at that fair! I even got a present from a dear friend: a third skein of Creatively Dyed Carnival! Such a lovely gift! Expensive too. That’s a good friend, someone who shares quality and urges you to use it for yourself.
(ooh, I now also remember my blood pressure dropped instantly from the surprise (no cortisol = no BP) and I had to lie down right then and there. People looked. I failed in thanking my friend properly. Failed to notice people bleating too. I was such a mess back then.)

The Creatively Dyed has all the good memories built in. It has been with me for a long time, so long in fact, that I’ve now completely gone off multicoloured yarns. Nowadays I want everything to be solid or semi-solid. Or, if must, self striping or a slow gradient.

But this is souvenir yarn. Memory yarn. Yarn to celebrate the fun times of the past with!
So it will be my winter hat. I will do it brioche, with the solid black. This enhances its colours.

The hat will be simple: knit a strip that goes around your head. Close it when it’s long enough and then pick up stitches and knit the dome.
If only I had my Brioche book here! It probably has a provisional cast on technique for two colours, if you want to kitchener a tube closed later on.
The book is at the cabin… I’ll have to fudge it.

When my hat is finished I may throw all caution in the wind and knit a fourth winter hat in soft, soft one ply yarns. In light colours. I so much want to be surrounded by light colours these days. Greys, whites, silver, linen, light greens.
It’s been like this from the start of Summer. Perhaps Spring even. And I’m not done, I want everything to be light:



the WIPs at the moment & finished Hilja vest

These are the projects I’m actively working on.

Sleeping socks:

Gobbling up all kinds of sock yarn remnants. I’m nearly at the knee so soon they’ll be finished. Mindless knitting, lovely.
On needles 3 mm.

The handspun sweater vest:

pattern Hilja by Niina Hakkarainen. Used 490 m handspun  and less than 10 grams of sock yarn for the borders. Both yarns knitted on needles 3,75mm.

Just bound off. Needs its ends woven in. I know that as soon as I do so I’ll have a strong urge to sew another blouse to wear under it. But I’m still perfecting the sewing pattern for the blouse ànd am attending a course so I can’t decide what to do: muddle on on my own or wait for a couple of weeks until we have drafted a decent pattern in the course.
On my own, I really don’t have a clear idea of what I’m doing, when it comes to arm holes and collars.
On the other hand: I want to wear this sweater vest. In a couple of weeks deep winter will be here and it will be too cold.

Anyway, post phoning weaving in the ends and making decisions until tomorrow.

The Texel Shetland blanket/wrap:

Still working on the panel at the right. Also doing a bit of study how to attach the panels together.
And studying applied i-cords.

Arlene vest and Blue Contiguous are hiding in the closet. They might come out when the studying or sewing isn’t satisfactory.
Some Skew socks are lurking in WIP bags. If there are any more WIPs I have conveniently forgotten about them at this moment.

Weird Wool Wednesday: Yarnchicken.

I won at yarnchicken today!

I had just enough yarn to bind off the row.

I used JSSBO, from the wrong side. Now I’ve used up all the handspun, all 178 grams (535.9 yards), 490 meters. It’s a sportweight(ish), on needle 3,75mm.
For the ribbing I used the same needle size, I just decreased the stitch count with 10%, getting to number that’s divisible by 4. (2×2 ribbing(

Ha! Today is sneaky clever sheep triumph day!

gna gna gna

Progress on Handspun Green Vest

I’ve finished the body of Hilja sweater vest. It’s such a happy knit!
I’ve got stitchmarkers, my favourite ones, that go perfectly with the yarn and now every stitch is a joy to look at:


Sometimes I think that knitting (and spinning) is all about the colours and only about the colours.

That that’s why knitting and spinning fits us, colour crazed beings; in the same wondrous way that cat companionship fits humankind.
Cats identify with their fur, they like it washed, touched, stroked. And we, humans, like to “watch” with our hands. We love to touch things, we have sensitive finger tips, we revel in tactiles/touchables.

Put these two characteristics together in a room and you’ve got two species reinforcing each others’ coincidental happiness.

Throw in a bit of cod for dinner and you’ve got best friends for life who allow all the petting and cuddling you like, as long as there’s a snack at the end of it:

As humankind is an eye-species as much as it’s a touch-things-species I think that’s why we breed cats in such various shapes and colours, just to please our eyes while we indulge our hands. It’s not something I favour because it does not benefit the cats… but I see how it plays into our eye-addiction.

As far as the knitting goes, my colour indulgence is over, the body is finished. I went on to the ribbing at the neck and arms.
I picked up stitches at the neck and did a 1×1 ribbing (on a smaller needle, 3 mm instead of the 3,75mm):

But I didn’t like how it looked. It’s too…. crude. Too scruffy. Not refined enough to wear amongst city folk.

I thought that a commercial yarn would look better. It would show deliberate contraposition between the handspun and the commercial yarn.

I chose a colour with quite a bit of contrast. I can handle contrast because my darkish hair has quite a bit of contrast with my fair skin and when I mirror this in clothing it makes me look healthy. (Although in 2014 I’ve grown grey from the stress and the contrast in the vest will now be a bit harsher than my own but that’s ok, it may make me look a bit more stern but I’m ok with that. Besides, I don’t have any other good yarn and this is a really nice one, it has some cashmere in it.)

I knitted 2 cm of 2×2 ribbing on the first arm hole and it looks very nice:

So tidy!
And just the contrast in texture with the handspun I was looking for. It seems to say what I want it to say, that its companion, the bodice, is made with a designed yarn. Yarn of a chosen, deliberate texture. Not something a well willing amateur made who couldn’t do any better.

The bind off is Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off done from the wrong side so it gives a nice edge on the right side.

I’m a bit sorry the knitting part is over for the handspun. I really enjoyed it, both in colour and tactiles. Soft wool, silk and vintage glass beads, that’s a high for me.

Advent Voorpret


I’m just zooming by to share that the fun in the Swedish Advent Mystery Knit has begun.

It’s over on Swedish blog “Jul med Tålamodspåsen” from Eva-Lotta Staffas. The knitting designer/teacher who focusses on traditional knitting from Europe, I talked about her Mystery Advent Knit from last year here.

One of her designs:

Pattern for last year’s advent mystery found here.

This year is still a mystery. But today she’s fired up the blog and she’s saying we should gather sock yarns in various fun colours:

Hmmm…. (semi)solids in striking colours. What a delicious clue!

Sock yarn = sock???

I’m so looking forward to this!
Usually I hate Mystery Knits. I’m so often critical of and disappointed by the design. But for this one I’m looking forward to knit just a little bit each day, to enjoy the togetherness and hopefully get exposed to some of those traditional knitting techniques.

Project 2014 certainly had those:

I may even combine the two and knit last years mitts alongside this year’s project…

But first: colour selection!
What luck that we’re at the cabin for the weekend, this is where the sock yarn lives. The skeins that aren’t entered into my Ravelry stash. Because sock yarn doesn’t count as stash, dontchaknow?
Word! It’s been the law since 2007:

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 16.41.41

I’m filled with glee. (Is that the right word or has it been tainted by media productions? I’m not singing, if that helps.)

In Dutch we have a word particular to joyfull anticipation: “voorpret”. Literally “pre-fun” with the empasize on the “fun”part.

I think the English language should have a word like that. “Anticipation” doesn’t cut it. It lacks the thrill that sings inside the chest, the rubbing of hands, the mental preparing to dive into the colours of the stash:


Weird Wool Wednesday: compliment from a knitter.

At the knitters’ party last Saturday I told about the stranger I met that day who didn’t want my compliment on her handknit.

It was a young woman at the station, passing me by. She wore a fun hat that looked handknitted. It was clearly a statement accessoire. I loved her for wearing it! So I wanted to compliment her. It’s so nice when you’ve made an effort on your outfit and somebody else notices it.
As she walked by I said very loudly: “Hey! Cool hat!”
But she didn’t say a word and just kept walking, purposefully ignoring me.
Leaving me confused.

This story I told my knitting friends and at one time I shouted my compliment over the table filled with pies and knitting.
“Hey! Mooie muts!”
My friends roared.
They laughed harder than the story merited and they were not so much laughing with me, they were laughing at me.
It took a moment and then it clicked. I had actually insulted the stranger…

The Dutch word for “knitted hat” is “muts”. But “muts” is also a very condescending and well known slang word meaning “dumb lady”… (it has to do with unshaved regions of the body)… and I had bellowed it at the young woman on the platform.




I feel so bad. I so hope she gave me the benefit of the doubt, eventually. I so wish it didn’t harm her self esteem. I’m so dumb at times.

Yes, I may be something of a muts myself.
But at least I make knitters laugh.

Incidentally, this is the hat I want to knit soon:

Neon Ski Bonnet by Lacey Volk, a free pattern based on Elizabeth Zimmerman’s work. Double layer over the ears for warmth.

You can compliment me on it in any way you like.

Madrid wrist warmers (stulpen).

I’ve struck a deal with my friend Linda, we’re doing a swap. I’m giving her a “magic ball” which is a skein wrapped around all kinds of presents that you only get access to as you knit yourself through the skein. A good way to get her to knit something for herself.

In return she agreed to knit wrist warmers for me:

The pattern is Madrid by Alexandra Brinck (free!) and she used my own handspun, the sparkly Nunoco batt.

It’s the fibre I got in the previous swap and I knew I wanted something fairy tale like from it.

And now I have!

They are so soft and warm and so well knit! Linda is an amazing knitter. Even stitches, even tension and not one fault. She knits to a very high standard and I know she’s been ripping and reknitting these quite a bit, fighting a concentration problem.

She did it and they’re amazing! A delight to wear!

She put in beads:

Besides, look how custom made the sizing is! Snug around my tiny wrists but roomy around my peddle like hands. Linda is a perfectionist.

They’re very classy city-handknits. I won’t be taking these to the cabin.

The style of these wristwarmers is called “stulpen”. I’m not sure what the word means, it’s German. To me it brings an association of tulips, which are “tulpen” in Dutch.

They do resemble the shape:

gr tulp

Stulpen are my favourite shapes for wristwarmers because they not only cover the wrist but also the base of the hand, where I get cold the easiest. But they don’t hinder the thumb by having a thumb.

Thank you Linda! I hope to finish your magic ball soon and then you can cast on for you.

knitting the vest at the party

I went to the knitter’s party by train and I brought my knitting. Cast on at the platform, first row in the carriage:

I was all dressed up for the occassion, colourmatching my skirt to my shawl. That’s a new shawl pin being prominent, I had made just it the day before. (another sign I’m doing better. Haven’t made a shawl pin in over a year)

I love taking the train. It feels like you step into the machine that is current society. You get to watch how all the cogs turn and how everything’s coordinated, without any demands made on yourself, other than being “the paying costumer”.
People and trains are scheduled to meet at a certain place and most of them show up and the people make the train run and I get to board it and enjoy the service and look out the window where other people are meeting in buildings or working the land and together we are all making society.

I sat back and enjoyed the ride:

Then I arrived at the party and it was great!

Nothing loud or extrovert. I was planted at the table, got a big piece of pie put in front of me and a hot drink in an appropriate drinking vessel:

Commence the knitting and the talking and the laughter and the occasional silence and more pie and more knitting and more laughter!

The table was filled with tea, coffee, pies and yarn cakes.
That enamel pan is a yarn bowl:

My neighbour brought an Addi knitting machine:

With this thing you can make tubes which is basically a sweater without arms and collar.
Or you can knit to and fro like she is doing and make a rectangle. Here with a double threaded sock yarn: a sock blanket. You dye it, you roll it into two balls and knit two identical socks from it. It’s great fun!

The mechanical knitting of the sock blanket took quite a long time. Not as long as actual handknitting of course! That might have taken 8 hours, with the Addi machine she was done in one.
And the operator had to be careful. Whenever the thread miss one of the teeth a whole would appear in the blanket. She was careful and no holes were made. But it took quite some time and it convinced me I do not need one of these.

I knitted on my vest and after binding off for the neck hole I followed the pattern but did just not understand how these shoulder straps were to transit into straps at the front.
Was I to increase there and somehow sew the two sloping bits together?
As you would with the shoulder seams of a cardigan or pullover (to accommodate sloping shoulders).

Turns out this is wrong:

This is right:

The extra decreases after binding off the middle part, go near that middle part, not at the far edges. They’re use to shape the neck hole.

It’s great to knit in the company of real life knitters, who can just look over your work and suggest solutions! They didn’t even laugh at me.
Not then anyway 😉

I had a wonderful day! 🙂

Green handspun vest .2 and .3

I frogged the handspun. It hurt.
Funny thing is that I remembered the whole Hercule Poirot audio book that I listened to when I knit it. Do you have this too?

I looked for a sensible pattern for a sweater vest that I could follow from A to Z. It’s called Flinders (which sounds like misspelled “butterflies in Belgium” to my Dutch ears) and it’s top-down and for my gauge:

Flinders Sweater Vest by Linda from clickertyclick

I knitted on it yesterday. But this morning I decided to frog that too. In the pattern the shoulder straps are quite broad and that’s why I deviated from the pattern and then I fudged things to try and make the numbers work for the rest of the pattern and now the back panel looks really weird:

It grows wide too fast, that’s just below the shoulders, halfway the arm holes. I’m knitting wings.

It’s a nice pattern though. Well written too.
It’s top down with a raglan. That means you get raglans in the shoulder pieces. That’s interesting:

When worked in self striping yarn you get an interesting box thing going on at the shoulders. If you want you can have a look at the projects for this pattern here.

Right after posting this post I’ll be frogging it and starting on another pattern. One that I WILL follow to the lettre.
(just may hussle up the words a bit.)

It’s Hilja by Niina Hakkarainen:

Not top down but in my gauge.

I’m rewriting the sequence of the steps a bit so I can cast on for the back panel halfway. Then work upwards to the shoulders.

Work downwards the front panel. Join with back panel and then work in the round downwards for as far as my yarn will allow. (think about the ribbing, whether I want it in this handspun or in the solid green)

I’m writing really fast. I’m about to board a train and visit a knitter’s party for the day. I want to knit this on the train and at the party. I won’t bring my iPad, won’t have the back up of the actual pattern.

This may not be wise at all…

An easy vest and a difficult one.

Is this cheating?

I felted an old woolen pullover in the washing machine. Cut off sleeves and collar.
Hey presto, a vest and wristwarmers!

Neaten the edges with some crochet handspun. (It’s that Blue Texel I’ve been spinning (in my mind) for ever.)

Yay! I plan to wear it with all those grey blouses I’m sewing for my green handspun vest.

I’ve got two blouses finished but have stranded spectacular midway the third one. I might have inserted the sleeve up side down or something, that’s how bad it looks at the moment. I’ve thrown it in a corner, couldn’t even muster the courage to take pictures and ask for help

I hope I figure it out soon though. I want to get to a usable basic blouse pattern. I’ve got plans, you see:

All to go with my grey vest. And my green handspun vest!

Which is at a bit of a canundrum too.

After knitting and ripping the second shoulder strap numerous times I’ve abandoned trying to match the first. The second shoulder strap will now become an after thought, designer feature. In solid green, I thought, to emphasize its difference from the existing shoulder strap. Perhaps crochet it even. Macramé?

As an after thought I can also use it to make the fit is exactly right, use it to adjust how the vest sits at the front:

Because there’s a bit of a thing with how this sits at the front.

This’s how I designed it. The piece sits straight in the middle.
The darts are precisely under the bust. There’s a designed line going from the centre to the non-strap-side.

But sitting like this it looks better:

Sits more comfortable too.

Now the horizontal line in the panel is horizontal (There’s a rule that you usually shouldn’t have a horizontal line near your breasts when you’re well endowed. It’s a good rule. But it’s not the law.)
The part under the shoulder strap lays nicer over my breast.
But the whole thing is shifted to that side now. Bust darts are no longer at their proper positions. I’d have to undo and redo that whole part.

It does look much better now. Feels better too.
It’ll need additional fabric at the non-shoulderstrap-side. About a hand’s width. A vertical knitted strip perhaps. I think I have handspun enough. Oh, I could incorporate the shoulder strap in this strip, make it flow from the top down, along the side. It’d be another designer element.

Whoah there, horsey.
You’re getting a bit over enthousiastic. Designer elements are popping up like crazy in this vest.
It was supposed to be a quick, unassuming knit. Just enjoying the yarn.

I think this vest is getting too many distractions from what should be a simple goal.
A bit like building a toy car for your cat so it will leave you alone while you go and repair your bike so you can cycle into town to get more flour because you want to make a pancake cake. For the cat.

Sven Nordqvist. A great illustrator.

With the green vest I’ve come so far. I’m probably half way now. There are some really nice things in there, like the increases for the bust and the solid green i-cord that’s both practical and will help to pull the whole thing together. (The side seams will be in solid green too, broadened to make the fit perfect.

It will be a smashing piece when finished! A real designer vest. But going on, I won’t know what other problems will arise. “Trudging” is the word for how it’s going. In all aspects of life really, at the moment, so I can’t even properly asses if it’s just me or the vest too.

Ripping it all out will really hurt.
But then I’d get a vest soon, probably. An unassuming vest, but pleasant to wear. A nice stage for my blouses to shine on. Nothing special. But nice.

I can’t decide what to do. I’ll wait a bit until I feel better, have a clearer head. Probably. (I could just go on knitting on it in the mean time.)(No harm in that)