finished: handspun cat ears hat

I amended the pattern and kitchenered the top while making the cables turn one more time:pattern Cabled Cat Ears Hat by Lorna Watt. It has amazing well designed ears.

I used 112.0 meters (122.5 yards), 77 grams, of the handspun Saxon Merino, on needles 6 mm. It’s a tad smaller yarn than the pattern calls for so I added some more rows and some more stitches.


Weird Wool Wednesday: thrums

Today I celebrate my birthday and the lovely Sokkenmuis gave me this pattern as a birthday gift:

It’s I Heart Earmuffs by Faye Kennington. You’ve heard me talking about it before, enamoured as I am by the beautiful increasing and the idea of covered ears (= safety and security. Dutch word “geborgenheid” which associates to being held, physically, in a safe enclosure. “Borg” = “burcht” = castle.)

It is first time thrums for me. I may have gotten too enthousiastic about thrums…

More so at the second ear muff:

Knitting with thrums is a bit of a challenge but the pattern explains it well:


The yarn is the handspun that I made a Rikke hat from which was too tight and then I was deflated or at least my motivation was deflated. But getting this lovely pattern from Sokkenmuis made me rip out the hat right then and there and re use the yarn right away. On needles 2,75 mm.

Hmmm, knitting with handspun. HMMMM, CAKE!

Love thrums all:

My Pussy Hat

I dressed up. It’s a beautiful day. I’m going all by myself to Nijmegen.

Today I’m participating in the National Women’s March.

womens march

It’s the first Saturday after International Women’s Day and in a few days we’re having national elections which, just like in the States, has flooded the country with extreme opinions. Polarisation.
I won’t stand for that. I stand for equality. For inclusiveness. For using some common sense and decency. We’re in this together, we are a society and we should take care of each other, all of us, for all of us.

(Been hitting the gym since September. I always planned to start lifting weight from age 40 and now, at 45 yo, I’ve started. Not bad, as I was still bed ridden only two years ago.)

The hat used to be my Too Tired To Think hat, made in 2011:

Made from gorgeous handspun from a Norwegian batt celebrating a Norwegian fairy tale (King Polarbear) and send to me my Ullsmeden in the Fairy Tale Swap Group. In a time when I was really really sick and I hurt so much over Norway.
The colours are from February snow over a forest, touched by the sun.

Now, here, in Holland, there are some voices that the transgender community feels hurt by the overall pink colour of Pussy hats. “They reference white women with pink genitalia.”
Personally I think that’s not the case. I believe the pink comes from “blue is for boy, pink is for girls” and we’re making fun of it.
Either way I have no answer when someone questions my colours today. Shall I tell about Norway?

The March will be inclusive and supportive. I highly doubt there will be any critizing or critique. If so I may sing my conversation partner a song from when I grew up: “You, to me, are everything. The sweetest thing, I’ve ever seen, oh baby! To you, I guess I’m just a clown, who picks you up when you down, oh baby…”
And I’ll shake the bells that are on the cat ears of my hat.

Or, if my voice feels good: “It’s a beautiful day. The sun is shining! I feel good. Nothing’s gonna stop me now. Oh yeah.”

Now I hope someone talks to me. It IS a beautiful day!

Finished: Cashmere cowl, Rikke hat and handspun.

pattern Pudorosa neckwarmer by Lia Moya
I used 24 grams of the 100% cashmere. Needles 3,75mm

So stylish! This will be very welcome in the Fall in the city. The colour is excellent.

Rikke hat is finished and blocked too:

pattern Rikke Hat by Sarah Young. I used up all the handspun I had: 70 grams in the hat and 5 grams in the pompom.

It’s rather big but I’ve been assured this is hip. So I’m expecting compliments from random dudes with manicured beards and fixed gear bicycles soon. Or is that not hipster, complimenting strangers in the street? We’ll find out this Fall, stay tuned.

The handspun for the vest is also finished and the twist is set:

It’s so bouncy! 682 m of sportsweight going on DK. Handspun always needs a bigger needle than commercial yarn of the same weight.

I put in a marker at the end of the skein that’s more variegated than the other. A reminder that I want to start a top down vest from the other end of the skein and have the more heathered fabric at the hem of the vest.

The coloured single was plied with a merino/bombyx silk single which is not a cool bright white but more of a warm toned off-white. The whole skein now has a warmish tone to it. Not something I favour at this moment but come Winter I’ll probably be glad with it.

I’ve already chosen a pattern: Flinders Sweater Vest :

Top down, a round neck, seamless, with raglans to shape the neck opening. I started this pattern with the sibling handspun of this skein, the green(purple), last November. But I tried to be smarter than the pattern and it went all wrong:

I frogged it and made Hilja vest  with the green(purple) instead:

after I rewrote Hilja into a top down approach. Which I find too fiddly for this time so top down Flinders it will be! As soon as I’m done staring the handspun dry.

This was all photographed in the last minute of sunshine. After this it turned dark and rain clouds gathered. It’s expected to last the rest of the week but we’ll see.

Midwinter hug: Hares running around my head

It’s the Visjö hat in progress.

The pattern is Simply Harika, then a band with a Running Hare chart I designed myself, two Latvian braids and on top the beautiful pattern of hat Selbu Modern.

Selbu Modern  by Kate Gagnon Osborn

The Visjö yarn is such a delight! Sportsweight so more substantial than the Holst Garn Noble (which I haven’t knit with yet…. it was queued for a sophisticated city hat but it seems I’m more at ease with a sportsweight kinda silly sophisticated city hat).

The yarn is so soft. It hasn’t even been washed, I expect it to soften up even more.
The stranded part is soft and warm, excellent to cover my ears.

I have ordered a sweater’s worth of yarn from…. She has a special offer going on at the moment. And I know I will love knitting with this yarn!

A good intention for the new year, knitting a jumper in light green and white, with accents in pink and grey.
It’s a promise of light colours that is very fitting for today, the 21st of December, when light and dark make a pivotal turn in their eternal dance together.

Hares go with light and dark. They are traditionally associated with the moon and they leave their foot prints all over the earth in winter.

Earth’s midwinterdream, by artist Wendy Andrew

ooh, less than 4 euros/ 5 dollars for a card of 15×15 cm (6″ x 6″)?

Shipping included. I’m ordering.

A warm Midwinter hug to you today:
 card by Wendy Andrew

UPDATE: I’ve ordered the book Luna Moon Hare. Wonderful drawings!

I’m very fond of hares. They live in the fields around the cabin and there’s one special individual that lives in the woods right besides us. (S)he knows us and hurries out of sight away slowly when we come near.

I often see him strolling past when I look out the window. I love watching him. When I’m about I see the little dents in the soil where he rests for hours. (S)he’s our cohabitant.

My yellow tea pot features the moon and the hare. It’s yellow like the moon and the little cups (not in picture) have a white inside with a swirl (cloud) and a hare.


I bought it once, a long time ago, at the Little Japanese Shop in Amsterdam. A pity I have it at the cabin now… I’ve got hares on the mind and drinking tea from a moon hare tea pot would be just the thing.

Progress on stranded hat

I left you with a picture of the Kihnu cast on that was to be frogged and redone. This time I used the crochet hook and this short video and it went great. Fast and with even tension. Now I’ve got 156 stitches and a nice braided edge.

Closing the loop:

The working yarns are very much twisted around each other. This is what a Kihnu braided cast on does. Just like a solo Latvian braid does. Latvian braids are usually paired with a second one that twists the yarns the other way around, untwisting them again. No need to dangle your knitting to untwist the yarns, as As Yarnharlot discovered in 2004 when she was on a Latvian mitten spree.

These mittens of her have FOUR Latvian braids:

From the bottom: cast on; brown/brown braid leaning left; brown/brown braid leaning right; white/brown braid leaning left; white/brown braid leaning right; colour work.

One Latvian braid twists the yarns right up, the second braid untwists them again. No need to untwist the yarns, just solve it in the next row.

A Kihnu braided cast on twists the yarns likewise but doesn’t untwist them. (It’s also much thicker than a Latvian braid.)

I’m solving the twistyness in the first row of my hat, twisting the yarns around each other with each stitch, at the back. There’s actually a bit of a braid forming, at the back of the knitting:

My first row is corrugated ribbing: alternating colours AND knit and purl stitches. Here it is from the front:

There’s a little bit of a problem: the white purl stitches present with a little bulge right on top of the Kihnu braid. It’s not very beautiful.

Since I am aiming for Very Beautiful with this gorgeous yarns (Visjö from and these great patterns (Simply Harika by Renee Burton and As The Leaves Begin To Fall by Eliza Jarvi. Plus pompom.) this is as far as I did the first row.

Out it came and I knitted the first row with all knit stitches. This’ll provide a nice base to start purl stitches on. It may cause the cast on to roll a bit up, to the front. But that’s OK. Since Kihnu braided cast on has a double row of braids I’ve got visual beauty to spare.
I also chose a 2 x 2 ribbing instead of 1 x1 because I think it’s Very Beautiful. It’s what Het Wolbeest has on her hat.

Much better: a bulge-less base and a nice set up for 2 x 2 colour work:

At the back the yarns were twisted with nearly every stitch. This was very easy because the working yarns present themselves already twisted. It turned out Kihnu braided cast on twists the yarns with half the speed of a Latvian braid. Mid row all my yarns where untwisted again and I didn’t continue with braiding at the back.

Here’s the back, with the twists going on:

Now I’m knitting corrugated ribbing for a bit. Then a braid (I’m thinking Latvian. Two of them.) And then the stranded colourwork with the leaf motif. Decrease. Pompom. Prance.

Helllllooooooooo there!

stranded hat: Estonian braided cast on

I’m still so filled with impressions from the fair! I want to show you a thousand things but I don’t know where to start. Also want to knit knit knit with things instead of writing about it. How am I supposed to write about it sensibly? Hang on, I’ll just show you what I’m doing RIGHT NOW. That’s a good place as any to start.

JUST NOW the post arrived and it brought a needle size 2,25 mm that Trude is borrowing me when she read I was knitting multiple projects on just the one needle. Thank you Trude! You are very smart.

I am less smart so instead of spreading my existing projects over the two needles I now have I took the new needle and cast on a new project:

That’s a braided cast on that is. Vikkelbraid? Kihnu braid.

Let me tell things chronologically, in an attempt to sound logical.

Alexandra from Atelier Het Wolbeest was wearing a marvellous hat at the fair, in handspun pink and grey:
It’s dolls holding hands! The pattern is Dollheid by Kate Davies (A title that makes me giggle because the Dutch word “dolheid” means “madness”)

Alexandra’s hat had me in awe, with the contrast and the happy pink colour and the special ribbing at the edge. It’s currogated ribbing, where you alternate colours but also knit and purl stitches. (I think, I haven’t read thus far in my pattern yet)

The booth next to Wolop was manned by Lidaholm, a woman with a passion for Swedish yarns. She goes there every Summer and visits small farms and spinning factories and imports their yarns to the Netherlands to spread the joy.

Sweden has some special breeds, some of them particular for wool quality.

I had to pass these yarns multiple times per day. They caught my eye because they were ridiculously soft and spun just the way I like to spin my own yarn: soft, lofty but yet a well plied yarn that looks like a string of pearls.
I got talking to Lida and she told about this small independent Swedish yarn manufacturer who have everything under one roof. They spin their own lambs fleeces on machines that are tuned to handle them particularly softly. They sell yarns but also finished products and their own designs.
Lida has so much enthousiasme and such technical knowledge it was a delight to talk to her.

things came together and I wanted a stranded hat like Alexandra, knitted in these yarns that are so sympathetic.
A hat to celebrate our successful weekend at the fair, a souvenir.
I felt the urge to perform an act of pure joy and not be tight with spending money on myself and later on regret it because a chance was there and now lost.

SO I WENT BOLDLY and bought yarn for a hat I hadn’t planned.
I even went out of my comfort zone, colour wise:

Salmon pink? That makes me look green or grey. I must have lost it.
I’m lost in giggles, that’s true. All these ice-pastels are making me so happy! The dark grey will set them off nicely and together they’ll have the same values of contrast that I have in my own face, with my darkish eye brows and hair and light eyes and fair skin. In theory this hat should make me look good.

They were in the skies too, these ice pastel colours, when we were driving back south on Sunday morning, a clear winter morning with a crisp sun. A perfect compliment to the timing and the colours of this yarn purchase.

I spend Monday relaxing and admiring Alexandra’s hat online and looking at other stranded hats and deciding that whatever pattern I chose it should have a pompom because Wolop is wearing pompoms on all her hats.

I knew which patterns I wanted to combine. Plus pompom.
It’s going to be the base of Simply Harika by Renee Burton

Simply Hakira offers different edges. I’ll do the braided edge and currogated ribbing (which I’ve never done before).

On top will feature pattern As The Leaves Begin To Fall by Eliza Jarvi. Plus pompom.

Leaves in light colours, back ground in dark.

As the Leaves begin to Fall really needs a new name…. all day today the ear worm in my head has been alternating Jingle Bells with that song by Jermaine Jackson & Pia Zadora:

31 years after the release of this song is still too soon, apparently.
(you’re welcome. Sharing ear worms is my secret hobby.)

I was putting the laundry in the attic for drying and had to stop for a bit. It’s part of this therapy I’m doing to keep the nervous system out of Fight or Flight and thusly without the need to exasperate ME symptoms. Get bored? Feel symptoms rising? Stop what you’re doing and go do something fun. Endorphines, baby!
So I stopped midway and was just standing around for a bit thinking “now what?” (because I’m very new to this therapy).

And that’s the story.
So here I am, casting on with endorphine yarns for an endorphine hat in interesting, endorphine creating, techniques.

Starting with the Kihnu braided cast on.

Kihnu is an island in the Baltic Sea with a proclaimed cultural heritage and a matriarchal nature.
“The most visible emblems of Kihnu culture are the woollen handicrafts worn by the women. Using traditional looms and local wool, the women weave and knit mittens, stockings, skirts and blouses which often feature bright colours, vivid stripes and intricate embroidery. Many of the symbolic forms and colours are rooted in ancient legends. Unlike Kihnu men, the women wear their national costumes in everyday life.”
What? Splendid!

You know that’s us!
This is also the place where Pippi Longstocking’s mum must be from.

The Kihnu cast on has a braid on both the inside and the outside of the outer edge. That’s a bit different from the braided cast on I know from Latvian mitts.
Skeincharmer on Ravelry has this picture:

The braid looks the same on the inside too.

I learned Kihnu braided cast on from this video, as the patterns suggests.
The designer of the Simply Harika hat says it’s best to follow it up with a purl row as it has a tendency to curl a bit otherwise.

I’m doing size Adult Medium for Fingering Weight gauge. Even though I’m knitting with sport but I’m on a 2,25 mm needle instead of my fingering weight needle size (2 mm).

Now I’m going to knit some more. Cast on isn’t done yet.
I’ll tell you more about other things I brought home from the fair a next time. I’ve bought other wonderful things. And there were so many wonderful people! Both sellers and buyers. Such a wealth of knowledge too. How was I ever to gain some knowledge of these wonderful soft Swedish yarns? Or of a life that involves going to Scandinavia often?

Come to think of it, Östergötlands Ullspinneri that makes these wonderful yarns is right between Denmark and Stockholm. Not that far away really.
I was practically halfway there, when I was at Midwinterwol.

I felt courageous and cheerful driving cross country and being so comfortable doing it. Now that I’m back home I’ve started dreaming of going on holiday. I haven’t been on an adventure out of the country for years now. Stockholm seems doable. Especially when there’s gorgeous yarn along the way and lovely wool people.


That cast on video is not very efficient. Lots of extra movements. I’ve found this video and am doing the rest of the cast on this way. Without a crochet hook, I’m just using my needle. It’s easier to keep the tension even.

It’s a yarn over combined with a knit stitch. The knit stitch stays on the right hand needle, the yarn over happens on the left hand needle. The yarn over really is the casted on stitch, the knitting on the right hand needle is just “to keep me busy”. Or to anchor the yarn/new colour.

It all happens at the left hand needle, the one with the yarn overs. That’s where you twist the yarns around, keeping track which one goes over and which one goes under.


The last bit is done this way, the tension is more even and more tight than the bit on the right. I’ll be frogging it all and starting anew, keeping it all even.


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: