Biasknitting: seaming blocks together.

Here’s how my Blue Texel Shetland wrap looks like at the moment:

Three strips seamed together. The two outer strips are zig zags and knitted on the bias.

A biased knitted block has much more stretch than a regular knitted block. So what stitch to chose to seam blocks together and preserve that stretchy quality?

Normal used seaming stitches for knitted blocks are mattress stitch or whip stitch. Both are not really stretchy. You can get away with them for regular knitting because you usually use the seams as some sort of strengthening of a plane such as a blanket and/or reinforcing the shape of a design such as the side seams in a garment.

After much procrastination debate I settled on a handsewn zig zag stitch, made with sewing thread. Normally you stay away from sewing thread because it can fray and cut the knitting yarn. But I wanted invisible colours because with all the bulky and multicoloured knitting sewing with a distinct coloured yarn wouldn’t look neat.

There are various stretchy zig zag stitches in the land of hand sewing:

What’s also unusual is that I used a flat seam. I placed one block on top of the other and sewed them together. Instead of putting right side to right side and folding the fabric open later. It’s called a flat seam I think? I chose the block that had the nicest looking edge to go on top.
I did this so it wouldn’t be too bulky.

Here’s my bias block sewed onto a regular knitted block:

Now the wrap is finished and I can think about a border but it wasn’t an easy finish. I had a very false finish first:

I miscalculated how high the strip on the left should be. During knitting I measured it numerous times and held it to both the middle strip and the right strip so I really don’t understand how it happened.

Maybe I measured by putting the “spines” together, the vertical ridges. The zig zags may have thwarted me because they do not run level. At the left bottom the dark grey triangle is much higher than it’s partner next to it. All the stripes in the left piece of knitting run askew as a result of this.

This was made very clear to me when I put two stitchmarkers near the top to indicate how high the strip actually ought to be. They are pale purple circle markers. One in the spine on the right, in the dark grey stripe. The other is in the midgrey stripe, just under the white-with-the-black-streak.

These two stitchmarkers are at the same height. They are level, horizontally speaking. You’d hardly believe it, the marker on the left looks to be som much lower!

Here’s proof that the two stitch markers are at the same level, I folded the piece of knitting on one of its spines. The bottom is at the same line, the edges run perpendicular. And the stitchmarkers are at the same height:

Seeing this really hurt. Bias knitting that plays with skews really isn’t for the foggy brained.

I’d have to frog everything until I reached the first stitchmarker, whichever that would be. No! The LAST stitchmarker!
Because that one indicates where bindoff should already be happening while I knitted further on the rest until is got high enough to start binding off there too.
Am I explaining this in a way you can understand? If not I felt exactly like you do….

Here I’m pointing to the row that the left stitchmarker indicates. I will have to frog till there and then start binding off around that left stitchmarker because that’s the maximum height the strip ought to get:

Boohoo! All that knitting has to be frogged.

For a while I contemplated another solution:

But I didn’t. Mainly because securing a cut piece of knitting is frustrating. And I’m sure I’d all kind of other problems, trying to secure it in a bias stretchy appropriate way.

I frogged dutifully and when I hit the first stitchmarker I started to count how many rows I had to frog until I hit the second marker. 15 rows. That’s how askew the zig zags run. I’m sure if I measure the difference in rows between the two triangles at the bottom it will come to 15.
As soon as I pick up these last stitches I’ll start binding off around that spine. First only at the left so that part’s done. Then I’ll start knitting right from the marker to the end of the row, continueing to increase and decrease at the “spines” according to the bias pattern  but each time I reach this side I’ll bind off one stitch on every row. (Both RS and WS, this will create a horizontal edge.)

I will have to continue knitting 15 more rows until the spine where the other stitch marker used to be is at the same height. Which will also be the height of the piece this strip will be seamed on.

That’s what I did and now I have a new edge and it’s as high as the knitted strip on the left that I attached to it. The top is level, even though it looks a bit wonky now due to how I’m holding it:

Now thinking about a border. iCord is beautiful but I’m afraid to run out of yarn. I could pick up stitches (ratio for biased knitting??) and do a rolling border. Probably make it roll the other side: have reverse stockinette stitch on this side.

Because indeed: the knitting curls quite a bit at the moment… Block first, border second?

I’ll sleep on it for a bit. In the mean time I’m already using this lovely knitting. As a wrap, as a lap blanket. It’s so soft and cosy and warm!

And I really like how the zig zags play with your eyes. If the border evens things out you can clearly see that the zig zags do not run level, that there are all kind of things happening here:


WIPs: have I stranded?

Last week I told you I could not proceed with either of my stranded mittens because I had run out of white yarn for one pair and for the other I also had a good excuse although it escapes me at the moment.

Well last Friday my husband traveled from the city to the cabin and brought all the supplies I needed. Meanwhile I was visiting Wolhobby and her wonderful cat Beer (“bear”) and came home drunken with knitterly achievement. Holle cardi was finished! And I had found courage enough to proceed on Blue Texel Shetland Wrap!

All systems go for last week, you’d think. Yarn for the two mittens, ideas for the wrap and there was that nice ice pastel handspun I spun that wanted to become something stripey.

Well, this is where we are one week later:
– mittens: not touched.
– wrap: wrestled into submission but it took a while. Now it’s sewn up and I can proceed on the border.
– handspun: given away. (??!)
– unexpectedly cast on for a top down cardigan:

and already well past separating the sleeves! Eep?

The pattern is Entangled Vines by Alana Dakos:

An uncomplicated top down cardi with raglan sleeves and an added button band in garter stitch. With a lovely leafy detail on the shoulder and sleeve.

I’m knitting a size 41″ in Mondial Shetland Mohair which is a discontinued yarn which consists of

40% falkland wool
35% british wool
15% kid mohair
10% viscose

To me it’s a yarn with memories. It was given to me as a price in a wonderful Knit-A-Long in a Dutch knitting group a couple of years ago, by Aafke7 who has a stunning talent for seeing and creating beauty in daily moments:

Beauty is an ecstasy; it is as simple as hunger. There is really nothing to be said about it. It is like the perfume of a rose: you can smell it and that is all.
W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965)

As soon as I received the yarn, back in 2012, I cast on for an intricate cardigan called Kelmscot, a design by Carol Sunday. It has various charts and lace and bobbles. It was a lovely winter knit in the winter of 2012 and the Dutch crafters cheered me on and taught me how to seam seams and whatnot:

projectpage here

I was so proud. So happy. But when it was finished I found I preferred the Mondial to have a different colour. It originally was a warm grey with specks of neon yellow and neon pink in it and I’d rather have it purple.

So I overdyed it:

No small feat! To get an even dye distribution you need to stir the project in the water but you’ve got to be careful not to felt it. I’d done it! I’d put it through the spin-dryer and was looking at it and realized I wanted it to have it a teeny bit more saturated tint and also a bit less splotchy. Seeing the dyepot was still warm I chucked in some extra dye and dunked the cardigan into the water and started reheating it slowly and stirring. And then everything went wrong.

The terrible felting acceident of the 31st of January 2013 happened.

I miscalculated how tiresome it is for me to stand on my feet for longer than 20 minutes. How much work handling a wet garment is. I missed how tired the first dye session had made me. To be honest: I was exhausted but too tired to notice. Besides, I was drunk with succes that it had gone so well. I stood on my feet for another hour and a half and ruined the cardigan.

I cried. Then went to bed. The following week, month, year I couldn’t bring myself to throw away the now gorgeous coloured piece of intricate felt and I still plan to use it in a felting project someday.

In the meanwhile I still had half of the Mondial yarn left, enough for another cardigan. The past 3 years I’ve thought about knitting a second Kelmscott. But the memorie still hurts, I don’t think I should knit that pattern ever again.

What I did do a couple of months ago was prepare to overdye the yarn. I do love grey at the moment but with the flecks of neon in this one…. The specks are what makes the yarn a warm grey instead of a cool or neutral grey. Warm grey doesn’t suit me very well. Neon specks don’t suit me at all. They are only seeable close up though. But seeing as I wear my eyes close up to my clothes…

A couple of weeks ago I overdyed it with green and steel blue and a bit of black. It’s now a dark greenbluegreymuddyteal:

You can still see a speck of neon yellow. I pick them out.

Friday I came home from Wolhobby with my Holle cardi and Saturday I cast on, using some of the glass bead stitchmarkers from Helix77 that are little “hello, warm greetings!” every time I use them 🙂
That’s the value of handmades, they are personal messages! Anything that’s thoughtfully given to you, actually. A daily caress or pet on the head:

Oh, I lie! I didn’t cast on on Saturday. I spend that whole day looking at a project for the handspun in optimistic ice pastel colours.

No that’s not true either! I was resting on Saturday from the travelling the day before and I spend the whole day looking at beads and figuring out which ones to order and from whom. Yes that’s it, last Saturday I spend 8 hours at the computer looking at sparklies. In the evening I emptied my Paypal account in one of the shops and that was my day. And I felt mighty good about it too!

 pic Chrystal and Ice beadshop in the UK

I’ve got plans to knit another Temptress shawl, with big triangle beads. Which have gone out of production with Japanese bead producer Miyuki since I knitted my first Temptress it seems.

Sunday I browsed patterns for the self striping handspun and around midday I realized I wanted to knit a bias striped top very much but not with the handspun.

Instead I preferred that the handspun would go to a special person and surround her with cheer and a daily pet on the head. I offered it to her and she gladly accepted. In return she has offered to try and knit me a neckwarmer -leafs!- in this nice yarn.

Pattern: Children of the Forest by Kamilla

Yarn: Malabrigo yarn lace, a single in Merino.

Both gifts. The thing with gifts is that I love to use them immediately so you can savour the moment.
This yarn you’ve got to approach this yarn with a bit of sense though. It’s not well equipped for a lace work since it’s a single and Merino, two characteristics that make it want to curl up on itself and hold on to its own feet. The comments on the yarn page regularly speak of projects felting and pilling and shawls needing reblocking after even one wear.

So I thought: better keep the yarn double, for strength. And because I do not enjoy knitting with lace weight because it takes so long. Unless it’s lace stitches with big sparkly beads. Then I thought: lace stitches are not smart but textured stitches will ok. Then I looked at the meterage I had, having the yarn double. And I looked at the items I knit and wear the most: neckwarmers and polswarmers. I nearly started a pair of mittens with it, stranded mittens, white with green owls.

But this yarn is buttery soft and therefor a delight to wear around the neck. Don’t go and waste it on hands where they will get dirty and where you don’t need buttery softness!
Can’t knit the twisted stitches though… staying in the cabin has made my shoulder flare up. But I do want to use the Malabrigo as soon as possible! Shall I weave it then? no… not with it being a single…
My friend offering to knit this is so well timed and so much appreciated!

Having promised her the handspun and having looked at many tops and at my queue and favourites many times I then cast on for Tangled Cardigan.

This cardigan will become a staple cardigan in a good, neutral colour that still looks lively due to colour variations and even though it won’t steal the limelight from any shawl or jewelry I wear with it it has a sympathetic leaf detail on the sleeve. I’ve wanted to knit this cardigan for a few years now, ever since the pattern was given to me to another lovely knitter whom I share a love for nature with. She’s the one who gave me the Indigo seeds! She’s so in tune with nature that when she drags her fingers through some soil plants just pop into existence. And kittens, she tends to attract kittens too.

The cardi is knit out of yarn that reminds me of the wonderful KAL back in 2012 when the Dutch segment of Ravelry was a different place (not that I’m sorry that it’s different today, a place like Ravelry always evolves and new flavours of solidarity emerge, flavours we couldn’t phantom a few years back. That being said, 2011 and 2012 were special years for the Dutch community and I like to reminiscent while knitting with this yarn.)

And the yarn makes me think fondly of the lovely Aafke7 who ran that KAL and is such a lovely person.

It knits up at a good gauge and steady gauge which means I can just follow the pattern and not loose myself in sidetracks and difficult puzzles I set myself. That being said, I did change the second and third leaf on the sleeve so it would be a bit more round and not look so “collapsed” as it does on the project photo.


Well, yesterday evening I’ve started to look at the mittens again. This morning I adjusted the pattern for Snow mittens and now I’m ready to knit on them again. Just in time because in about one hour my husband returns to the cabin again from the city and it would look odd that I insisted he bring me my yarns last week -he had to delve into the wool closet and I had to email him instructions –with pictures!– as to what it was I was looking for- and then I didn’t use them until he returned here this week.

Weird Wool Wednesday: the shrimp that went on holiday with knitters.

Meet Herman, the blue “shrimp”:

Back in 2011 Herman lived with the neighbour of a Dutch knitter called Kreakakel. He had a nice water tank together with some other sea creatures, in the middle of the neighbour’s living room. He was the blue pride and joy of the family! We know he’s a crayfish but we don’t have a nice small word for those in Dutch: “zoetwaterkreeft”. So he was named a “garnaal”, a shrimp.

One day the neighbour told Kreakakel that Herman had vanished! Gone from the aquarium. Nowhere to be found. He had looked under leafs and rubble but Herman had disappeared.
The neighbour was very sad…. for days and days. His wife told Kreakakel every day how sad her husband was.

Then one day Herman re-appeared! No one knew how or why. They had searched the aquarium thoroughly when he was gone but here he was again, happy as a clam. (We now think that he was deep under the gravel, changing his skin…)
In 2011 it was still a mystery. Oh, the neighbour was so happy again! Chuckling to herself Kreakakel thought Herman must have been on holidays for a few days. She then went home and she secretly rustled up the knitters from the Dutch Random Act of Kindness Group who then started to send holiday postcards, from Herman, to the neighbour from all the places Herman had supposedly visited.
From all parts of Holland cards started to come in!

I send one too, it read:
“I had a fine time riding my bike near Snorrepot’s place! Signed, Herman.”

The neighbour didn’t know what to think!
He could not figure out who was behind all this and who all these people were, sending him cards from places he’d never been. He shared his perplexity daily with Kreakakel who nodded with big eyes of empathy.

As the days progressed and holiday cards kept pouring in he started his investigations and hung a sign over his desk lettered “CSI”. On the desk he kept papers with hints and clues. Who knew about Herman. Who knows his address. Are handwritings similar yes/no.

He suspected his daughter but she denied fiercely. He shared his mystery with the postman and he was stumped too and started to read the envelops for clues before he pushed them through the letterbox.
Eventually, after ten days and after having recuperated from the flu, the wife solved the case and pointed at Kreakakel as the culprit. “Kreakakel is part of a knitters’ guild, she knows people all over Holland! They may be just a weird enough bunch to do such a thing!”

Kreakakel looked guilty and the wife of the neighbour started to laugh so hard she rolled from the couch. ROFL Literally! 😀

It was such a fun, fun story to be part of! Such fun that I immediately casted on for ‘Herman, the little Spring sweater’ in eyewatering blue:

It’s Lang Yarns Alpaca Superlight. Light, warm and soft. The only alpaca that doesn’t make me sneeze.

With only 3,3 balls of yarn (at 200 m per ball so that’s 660 m) I knitted this light pullover:

It’s very warm. Second foto shows detail of fabric with needles 5mm. Cast on 142 st.
The colour is correct in first pictures. It’s an eye-watering Herman-blue!

I giggled all the way while knitting this and I still do whenever I see the picture on my projects page. (I don’t use the yarn anymore, I don’t like knitting with halo yarn. Perfect for core-spinning though.)

Herman went on to live a happy “shrimp” life. He got a totally redecorated tank and befriended a female and made baby shrimp with her. Over the years he has repeated his disappearing act a few times but he never went on holiday again.

Finished: buttons on Holle Cardi

As part of a swap I went and visited Wolhobby today to help me with some WIPs that I keep putting off. She put the buttons on my Holle Cardi!

The buttons look really smart with the Wollmeise DK in colourway Fliederbusch. It’s so wonderful, my cardi is finished!
Now I want to sew a bellowing skirt to go with it. WIPs beget WIPs.

Wolhobby showed me a quilt technique for fast knots to start. And we explored seaming techniques for my Blue Texel/Shetland throw/wrap. She alerted me to the site, which shows techniques very clearly and with technical finesse. I love technical finesse.

This weekend I’ll finish the last of the knitting on it and then I’ll start seaming.

We spend a lovely few hours crafting and we had cat help from Beer (meaning “bear” in Dutch):
cat help with knitting

and Apollo:
cat help with knitting
who has the loudest purr and an adorable white point on his tail.

Both are such cuddly cats! Beer allows you to touch his feet, his belly, his tail. My cats have strict rules about this, mostly being “NO.”. So I took the opportunity and petted Beer everywhere.
cat help with knitting

Apollo prefers petting of the head:
cat help with knitting

Beer approves of my Visjö hat:
cat help with knitting
cat help with knitting

A lovely day.

Finished: handspun ice pastels

Dig right in:

The fibre is about 150 grams of Surprise Gift we received at the Annual Spinners’ Retreat 2015, in October, and it’s plied with a commercial yarn.

We got 2 colourways of 25 grams each and I traded and got some gifted by people who didn’t want to spin it and I ended up with 200 grams of the same colourway:

I tore it in long strips, pretty much sticking to one dominant colour per strip. When I was halfway done spinning I started to leave out the red, I didn’t like it much.

There were lots of colours. Hard pink, soft green, bright green, turkoize. I decided to add a colour that would not mix the colours together but would tone them down: white fluffynes. It’s Lang Yarn Alpaca Superlight. A lovely yarn, the one alpaca yarn I’ve found that doesn’t make me sneeze.
However, I do not enjoy knitting with halo-yarn. This yarn, Kid silk, it’s not for me. I knitted one sweater and only the story behind the sweater motivated to see it through:

Ooh, but I never told you the story! It’s about Herman, the blue shrimp that went on holiday back in 2011. I feel a Weird Wool Wednesday post coming up. 2011… that’s when I bought the yarn. All 20 balls of it. It was on sale. This blue sweater only took 3,3 skeins. That’s 80 grams! 660 m

Over the years I cast on for a bunch of other things with the yarn but I never found joy and have abandoned each and every one of those projects. In the end the balls just hid in the stash…. for years.

Then last year I realized I’m a spinner. And spinners are inventive! This yarn is excellent for spinning. Both plying like I did here but I also did corespinning on the Ashford Country Spinner like I did with the Ecosheep for the woven blanket:

I bought Lang Yarn Alpaca Superlight in red, white, blue and purple. I still have some of the blue and purple left. I used the red and lots of white on the blanket.

The rest of the white yarn is in this handspun, about 4 skeins of it:

It’s total is now 720 meters for needles 3,75 mm or bigger. (Lang Yarn on it’s own is fine on 4 mm or even 5 mm but now it’s more condensed).

I want to make a soft striping vest with it and show it at the next Spinners’ meeting either in March or October.
My inspiration is a vest my fellow spinner JustMagic made from the Surprise Gift we got the year before, these 4 colourways that she combined with dark alpaca fibre and a red handspun:

pics from
This is a very good project, with attention to details on the inside so it can be worn both inside out and outside out. Blog post about it found here.


Weird Wool Wednesday: this again?!

I stood up to get my glasses:
omg this again? knitter problems

We’ve been here before:

This was on 14 November 2012, the first Weird Wool Wednesday post ever!

Are you judging me?
omg this again? knitter problemsomg this again? knitter problems
…………………………………………………………..Oh, shut up.

Can’t knit. Have to get up and gather tangles yarns first.omg this again? knitter problems

By the way, this is how I’m solving the lack of length in the mitten:
omg this again? knitter problems
Adding extra diamonds and bringing back the colours from the cuff, which I love.

Lillepoes draws close for comfort:
omg this again? knitter problems

omg this again? knitter problems
This again too?!

reasoning with mittens: thumbs

I’ve got two sets of stranded mittens on the needles. Both are at the thumbstage.
Winter Snows Mystery mitten has a thumb I have not knitted before: a peasant or after thought thumb.

You knit a tube and at one stage you knit with a piece of (red) waste yarn. You then put the stitches back on the left needle and knit them again with the real yarn.
Later on you remove the waste yarn and are left with a set of live stitches that you knit upward in a thumb.

With this construction you have to think about how wide your hand is at the base of the thumb. There is no thumb gusset, the tube must fit by itself.

Luckily with me it does. Because as luck would have it I’ve learned to fit as I go and adjust.
The cuff is done over 56 stitches. Then decreased to 48 stitches. Because I have tiny wrists. Then I had to increase for the thumb/hand which is not so tiny: I went up to 70 stitches.

The tube fits. The mitten will probably too.
The only problem is: I went to the cabin this week and brought a lot of woolen stuff but not the rest of the white yarn. That’s the last of it:

That’s me done. No more knitting on this until I return to the city! Boo!
(I didn’t follow the pattern for the cuff and now it curls like crazy.)

An Enchanting Mystery mittens have a thumb I know: a thumb gusset.
Thumb gusset: increase in a nice way until the tube that fitted your wrist now fits your hand. Park gusset stitches and knit rest of tube until fingertips. Return to parked stitches and knit a thumb.

Since I have an inborn design feature called SWBP (Small Wrist Big Paws) I already know to increase faster and to a larger number for a thumb gusset than a pattern describes.
This pattern says to increase 2 stitches every other row until a total of 25 stitches. I increased 2 stitches every row and didn’t stop until I got 30 stitches. And I kept fitting. Now it’s comfortable and my thumb will not get throttled.

Yesterday the new clue came out and we’re now meant to park the thumb gusset stitches. I hadn’t thought we would. I’m not ready:

I need another 2 cm of knitting before I can park the stitches and resume the “hand tube”. What happened? Row gauge happened.

Pattern says 34 rows per 10 cm (4″). I just measured, I’m at 40 rows.

oei oei!

Two centimeters of extra length, that’s a whole extra pattern piece. More diamonds. Or more baubles. Adding a new piece will change the pattern. Which is scary because this is a mystery pattern, I’m flying blind here.

Well, not really. I’ve already seen the new clue. And in the chat thread on Ravelry I’ve seen how it knits up. I can make an educated guess about what will work for the pattern and where to put it.

Or I could just knit the clue and delay parking the thumb gusset at a fitting spot. The extra length I will unavoidably need in the mitten will then get solved at the top of the mitten, when I’ve seen the whole pattern and can design something that will fit the pattern for sure.

For now I’ve presented my problem in the chat thread, hoping the designer may weigh in.

That’s row gauge for you.

Consequently there’s a shadow thread for this mitten for people who dare to taunt this beast. They work with thicker yarn and are amending the pattern accordingly. They get 24 stitches to 10 cm instead of 31 stitches. I’m looking at their row gauge at the moment….

…ah, educational (1), they just remove some of the rows as they see fit. And the pattern still looks like the pattern, even with rows removed! That gives me courage that with rows added it will probably still look like itself too. I probably won’t kill it with my addition.

If you’re in the KAL: I’m thinking of adding extra diamonds in the middle of clue 3. There are 3 sets now, I’m thinking of interspersing 2 and do so in the colours green and grey because my mitten is turning out all purple and ochre and I miss the green and grey.

I suspect these colours will turn up at the top again, seeing as this mitten seems to have a mirror line running through the middle, but adding some around that mirror line will look good too, I’m guessing.

Sorry for the grainy dark early bird pictures. It’s Saturday morning at the cabin. Lillepoes has come downstairs and is now napping on the chair on a cushion filled with unspinnable wool. Outside the first light is starting. It’s rainy and windy and lovely green.


Aw, how I love that cushion. It’s embellished with free style knitting from Mary Walker Phillips.
It’s free style but not without order:

You make it up as you go along. A lovely and creative way of knitting.project page here