Dyed yarn for two cardi’s.

This kilo of sportsweight:

is now 5 skeins of steel blue:

and five skeins of happy Spring lilacs:

Wollmeise Mauseschwanzchen for comparison.

With the steelblue I want to reknit this cardigan:

Me, three years ago. Knitted in ordinary sock yarn that now has started to pill.

The pattern is Old Town cardigan by Carol Sunday. It has an interesting construction:

The pink purply one will become an adaption of Dahlia Cardigan by Heather Zoppetti:

I do not own this pattern and I want a different shaped cardigan but love the atmosphere of this cardi. This is the pattern I’ll be using for my backpanel, The Little Flower Doily by Andrea Jurgrau:

A free pattern that I’ve used it before, in this hat in 2010:

I’ll need to figure out how to get to a rectangle or an oblong shape from this round starlike flower.

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.

planning a cardi when you have to combine yarns

At the Spinners’ Weekend I was given this handspun Blue Texel. It’s from the same batch that I’m still busy spinning mine. The person who had spun this did not enjoy knitting with it and gave it to me as a present. Wow!

 pic by Moonwise

It’s 575 meters in aran weight. A beautiful round yarn which will have great stitch definition.
We both think that 575 meters is not enough for a cardigan or pullover.

I think it will combine well with the Shetland I spun in five natural colours. Remember how I spend a whole day and a whole post on what I could do with those five little skeins?

These two yarns go so well together:

I’ve positioned all the skeins at the end of the table so they’re in my view all day. I added the green Gjestal garn that’s left from my legwarmers. Perhaps as an accent? And to provide some extra meters should I run short?

To hone in on the garment I want to make I’ve browsed through the Ravelry database, to sharpen my preferences. I made a bundle collecting patterns and projects that might bring me something. A certain way of constructing; or where to place the patches of colour; or how to combine colours.

This is my bundle for adding colours to a cardigan.

After studying my bundle these are the things I want in this cardigan. The design-parameters:

  • no stranding or Fair Isle. I need the meters.
  • no colours in the yoke. I like to frame my face with a shawl or hat, not with a yoke.
  • recurrence of the colour detail in the sleeve cuffs would be funny
  • a cardigan, rather than pullover, it gets more use
  • I prefer the front in solid grey so the colours go at the back (but not growing from a centre stitch/ bulls’ eye). Or shall I do colours at the waste, perhaps as a sideways knit band?
  • stripes or mittered squares or slipped stitches are possible. Stripes could have lace to make waves. Can make zig zags with stripes, either by slipping stitches or by chevron knitting.
  • no double decrease stitches, that is too bulky.
  • modular knitting is great because then I don’t need to make a (lying) swatch. (pick up 3 stitches for every 4 rows.)
  • the handspun blue Texel ought to be in stockinette stitch, not in garter stitch, it’s so beautiful
  • needle 4,5 mm, just like my Donegal cardi’s (which I should probably finish first, to free up that needle)

After mulling this over a bit I think I’ll start with a multi colour panel at the mid back. Bottom up (not sideways. Nor without shoulder seams, that Wintertrui 2014 cardigan is a bit shapeless when I wear it.)

I found a technique that makes zig zaggy patterns without stranding. Or does it?

This is a little study I made.

It’s based on this sweater pattern I found, The Great Missowski by Julia Trice:

 pic and cardi by Glennea

This is the back, there IS a little stranding:

Technically it’s just slipped stitches but it takes up yarn just as much as stranding would, making a kind of double knit fabric. O well, it’s ok I guess. It’s not much.

Also unavoidable immediate cat attention.

In the study I played around with how much rows to stack of each colour; how to make that lowest stitch dip deep enough (I tried slipped stitches but also knitting a stitch and then knitting it again straight away. With or without knitting through the back. Those try outs are at the top of the piece, near the red pencil. I don’t think twisted stitched are called for here:

In the beginning I had difficulty keeping check of where I was in the pattern, at which column of stitches. I hopped repeats at about the blue pencil, unintentionally creating diamonds instead of zig zags.

Good to know. Should I ever want to knit diamonds with a slipped stitch technique.

I think I’m ready to start the back panel now. I am very grateful to Moonwise for giving me the yarn, it inspired me to design and knit this straight away. As a little thank you gesture I gave her some of my handdyed reed cotton fabric, with pounded Indigo leaves.

finishing Holle Cardigan, my sturdy eyelet button hole and updates on previous tops.

I spend some time carefully finishing Holle Cardi. It needed a good button hole to go with 1×1 ribbing. (*Ktbl, p* ribbing at that); an icord all around and blocking (after I pluck away all the cat hair it has attracted).

For a good button hole I searched Ravelry and found a thread asking this very question that was started 19 months ago.

The One Row Button Hole Tutorial by Neoknits was recommended. This feels like a very intuitive correct button hole so I’m trying it out. It’s really good! Another good one is the Tulips button hole by Techknitter. It specifically reinforces the sides and top.

For Holle Cardi I have itty bitty tiny buttons, they’re really more studs than buttons.
I tweaked the one row button hole a bit to make it even smaller, a sturdy eyelet button hole:

That’s a good button hole.
Bottom, sides and top are reinforced. It won’t “lubber”(… what’s that called in English? “grow loose and flappy”?)


  1. wrap p-stitch (slip it, don’t knit it)
  2. pick up strand and knit it
  3. put needle into next two stitches (one is twisted, on p stitch), knit them together right to left (this is a ssk manner I suppose, I’m doing continental so it works out differently for me)
  4. slip previous knitted stitch over
  5. This is the bottom of one hole doneOn the next row:
  6. turn work and from the right side: cable cast on 3 stitches
  7. take next stitch (don’t knit it, this is the wrapped but unknit p-stitch from the previous row) and slip last new stitch over this unknitted stitchOn the next row:
  8. adjust stitch count at each button hole: k first 2 stitches of the button hole top together.

In pictures:
WRAPPING THE P-stitch: slipping the stitch to and fro while wrapping the yarn around it.

PICKING UP THE STRAND after the wrapped p-stitch:


That’s the bottom of the button hole done.
I didn’t take pictures from the top part :s

But it goes like this: you knit the stitch before the wrapped p-stitch and you increase 3 stitches in that, cable cast on wise. (do this with the right side facing you for a neat looking result.) Then you take the third newly created stitch and slip it over that wrapped p-stitch from the previous row. Poor p-stitch, still not knitted!
That’s the top (almost) done.
On the next row you knit together that wrapped p-stitch with the second cable cast on stitch from the top part. It finally got knitted, pfew.



Holle Cardi I-CORD
I then gave the front and neck part an i-cord as per pattern (Colors of Kauai by Hanna Maciejewska, paid for pattern)
After that I continued it on one side of the button band and went back to the other one because I found the button bands looked better with an icord finish at the hem.


I’m still busy picking cat hairs away from the cardu but I hope to block it this weekend and then sew on my studs next week and show you my finished cardigan. But it already feels finished!

Updates on the other two garments that felt “finished” but weren’t: Petrie Shell and Pumpkin Ale.

Because I have to pace energy and the enduring of impulses carefully I couldn’t just go out last week and buy cross grain ribbon for Petrie Shell. But I did look around the house and found some curtain ribbon. That band that you can put hooks in. “Wrinkle band”? It’s wide enough and stiff enough:

I sewed it in, while closing the knitted edging with a three needle bindoff.
But the ribbon is white and it shines through the dark blue knitting. It looked aweful.
I took it out and resolved to go look for something dark at the next opportunity I had. Which was last Wednesday when I managed to walk into the city centre, to the market. There’s a notions stall there. They didn’t have cross grain ribbon but I found a bit of black stiff elastic band which will do fine I think.

The only thing is: when I tried the Petrie Shell on to see how the white ribbon would look I found that the fit didn’t please me. I’m not sure exactly how or what, I need to try it on again to see and think about solutions.
But overall, it just didn’t look sophisticated enough to wear in the city. The shoulders were too bare. The boat neck cut into my throat. There were some serious issues I didn’t feel like looking into at that time.
So Petrie Shell has been parked (in my wool closet in the city) and now that I have the black ribbon I can try it on and see what’s what. That’s planned for next week.

Previous weekend I’ve worn Pumpkin Ale to the Knitters’ party! Even though it was a scorching hot Summer’s Day and it still had massive holes in the pockets, I was wearing it and showing it to my friends. I got many compliments and I was very glad to because I was still a bit shy about the fit (with it’s short back and unpleasant arm holes and me butchering the yarn thickness and probably the pattern) but that’s all alright now. They said it looked good and I don’t think they were being polite.

My friends who know the pattern, the Wollmeise yarn and/or this specific colour where especially appreciative and that means a lot to me. One always learns so much from expert’s opinions.

This weekend I hope to raid my fabric stash and find some fabric for the lining of the pockets and hopefully sew them in too. (I could have knitted the rest of the pockets with the remaining yarn but I’d already set my mind on getting these cuffs in that yarn:

These are Keep Warm Wristwarmers by LondonLeo, a free pattern.

The cabling echos the cables of Pumpkin Ale Cardigan. Especially when you cross the center cable in the middle, which I did:

But at this point my shoulder started to protest and I once again resigned that I should not knit fiddly small things. No cables. No small objects on small needles.

I guess that means that the gloves that Tilly Trout podcasts makes me want to knit are out too? She made these last year, in self striping yarn, and they just make me smile and giggle inside 🙂

Tilly Trout’s Good old fashioned proper gloves in Opal sockyarn colour 8617 Cake pops.

I once made a pair like these and I’d really would like another pair. For smiles and inside giggles!
Have a look at my Party Paws:

That’s me, back in Winter 2009/2010 when I was really ill, mostly bed bound. My nose was cold all the time! I think this was New Year’s Eve and I had just knit that nose-cosy to go and have a look outside 🙂
The gloves are knit in some weird, fluffy, self striping sport weight:

Party paws indeed!
Knit in sportsweight, on fairly big needles, no cables. Surely not too fiddly for my shoulder to knit again?

I’ve put them on my list for next year, thinking about a pair like this already makes me smile. A nice invitation to buy some giggly selfstriping 6 ply yarn next time I’m in a wool shop. 🙂
Always plan ahead for the eventuality that you find yourself in a yarn shop.

Wintertrui 2014: buttons on, vest finished.

I sewed on the buttons. And all of a sudden it’s a finished garment. I made a vest!

I’m still knitting the sleeves but I’m a bit confused because this is wearable:

I like how the side bust line continues into the line that picks up stitches for the collar. It looks like a princess seam to the bottom. Would be nice in a solid coloured garment.

Being a lady, Colors of Kauai Cardigan

I like being in the city.
I get to wear my lady-dresses and sit up straight and drink tea. I like to do so, every once and awhile.

Today I’m wearing my dark purple dress and, for the first time, my Colors of Kuaia cardigan:

Colors of Kuaia is a pattern by Hanna Maciejewska
It’s such a lovely knit! The pattern is great, the fit is great, the designer is darling.

And I’ve never worn this cardigan since I took pictures of the finished knit two years ago:

The reason is that this cardigan is wool and tight fitting and with short sleeves. That gives me an insolvable puzzle:
– when it’s cold enough to wear wool, it’s too cold to wear short sleeves
– when it’s warm enough for short sleeves, it’s too warm for a tight fitting cardigan. Because arm pits.

I’ll just be Dutch and cut right to the essence, even though I suspect “armpit” is an unsavoury word in the United States.
Fact is people and their clothes get smelly at the arm pits. That’s why shower and washing machines and lots of advertisements to shame costumers into purchase.

For the past two years I couldn’t solve the puzzle. Mostly I was too cold to wear this. Other days I was too untidy to keep this cardi neat. And I didn’t want to have to wash this cardigan all the time.

But today I’m shameless! Shameless and fierce and not afraid to handwash anything!

Today is Autumn, but it’s not really cold.
Today I’m wearing a flimsy dress so I’ll keep pretty cool all over and I welcome a core warming cardigan.
Today I’m slim enough to wear a tight long sleeve under it so my arms aren’t freezing.
Today I want to dress up and drink tea with my neighbour (the one from the boat, not the ones from the fancy houses)
And today is a reasonably good hair day.

(today the needle felt needles arrived and I’ll be bloody soon)

Here I am:

This is me not knitting: Draakjesvest.

I am taking it easy this week. My shoulder is happy with that. But I couldn’t sit still.

So I started a Draakjesvest, a Little Dragons Cardi.
I used to have a cardigan like that. It was green, from heathered yarn, 100% wool and it had a hood, pockets and spikes on the hood and along the arms. It was shop bought in the previous century when I didn’t know how to knit but did feel good wearing wool.

I had to leave it behind when I left Norway, back in 2005. It was totally worn out and came apart at the seams. Still it hurt throwing it away. But I needed the space in my suitcase for a felted weddingdress!

It was such a great little cardigan! I used to wear it when walking through the Art Academy and some guy would whisper friendly greetings from behind white walls: “draakje… draaaaaakje..”
Now I am recreating it.

(also, this is me not typing on the computer to give my shoulder rest…)

Terrible pictures, it really is a lovely green.
ribbing and one outer part of a pocket.

I’ve never done pockets before.
Invented the big cable myself. I will repeat it on the sleeves, bigger, and spikes will grow out of it.

There’s waste yarn running through the stitches. It will help with picking up and knitting stitches once I start knitting the ribbing part. The picked up stitches will become the inner lining of the pocket.

Also: see how neat the cables grow from the ribbing! I like that, the flowing of things.
Took a bit of tinkering and thinking to make that happen.
(Which is the not-knitting part of this. I took a full day to do the math and designing. All the while resting my shoulder.)
(then I knitted it in small installments. This is all the knitting I did this week. It’s not much.)
(Of course I had to rethink the cables once I started knitting. Originally I had designed 4×4 cables but you cannot grow those in a beautiful way from 2×2 ribbing. The 2 purl-stitches are placed inconveniently. You can grow 3×3 cables from 2×2 ribbing though, which is what these are)

Here’s the right front pocket, parked and ready to have its stitches picked up from the backside while I work the rest from the cardi from the ribbing:

In the next picture, please note how my column of k-stitches next to the p-stitches runs very wide, compared to the other k-stitch columns:

It has to do with tension and with switching between p and k.
There’s a darning needle in these pictures. Below it those stitches are wide. As are the purl-stitches beside it.
Above the darning needle I had tried out a solution. They look better, yes?

It’s a solution I got from TECHknitter. She ran a three part series on uneven knitting. Very educational!

She rightfully identifies this sort of uneven stitches as uneven tension between k and p stitches.
There are a few possible solutions. I chose to slip every purl stitch when it comes right before a knit stitch (as seen from the Right side)

You can see it here, the slipped stitch is on the needle with the working yarn running below it, it’s the p stitch on the left side of the utmost right cable. (This is the other pocket again, I applied the solution from the beginning and this column of k-stitches looks just as neat as the k-stitches beside it.)

Here, I’m pointing it out. This is the running yarn that I will knit into that p-stitch on the next row:

On the next row I’ll knit the yarn that was slipped the previous row (and I slip the stitch in this row)
It works, I think.

project page here. Not much on it though.

I knit the body on 3,25 mm with gauge of 20st/10 cm
yarn is Donegal Soft. This is Merino and a single (fulled). Heathered, in gorgeous green. I bought it in Ireland, at Springwools.com
They’ll ship a kilo of the stuff to you for just 2,95 euro flat rate!

I went over there and brought it home. This is the one I have, but it’s more darker and variegated in real life. Not so loud:

But also not nearly so dull and dark as in my own pictures!
It has a lot of spinning oil in it. As a precaution I wash my hands after I knit. With other yarns (shetlands from Eastern Europe) I’ve gotten insomnia from the oils.

Inspirations for my Little Dragon Cardigan are #13 Central Park Hoodie (CPH) and the Spiked Dog Collar.
But I am adding pockets and waste shaping to the CPH. And knitting another cable and different gauge and different placement of cables. So really, there’s not much CPH in my cardi…

But the original picture of CPH does have that “Draakjes”feeling I’m after:
pic by Interweave Press
pattern by Heather Lodinsky

The Spiked Dog Collar is an i-cord worked over increasing (or decreasing) stitches. It’s a free design by Melissa Turner who also owns this picture and this dog:

Old Town cardigan: great pattern for the brain fogged

Old Town cardigan, it’s amazing how well this pattern by Carol Sunday is! As long as I don’t try to outsmart it and just do what it says it comes out great. It’s a great knit for when I’m brainfogged or distracted by a movie or outdoor scenery.

It’s top down and I’ve already separated for the sleeves. I’m doing those first because after that I can knit the body until I run out of yarn.

I had a little bit worries about the first sleeve. I started it in the round, as is my custom. And on a needle bigger than I’m knitting the body because I knit small tubes more tight then large tubes.
But it showed a ladder where I had the magic loop:

I want this to be a Smart Lady Cardigan. One I can meet my Serious Grown Ups in and not give away that Little Mrs. Gnome is my secret identity.

So I frogged it back and decided to work the sleeves flat. As the pattern suggests in the first place. I went back to the original needle size which is way smaller than most people use because I’m such a loose knitter. I get gauge though. One car ride further and it was going marvelous, I’m already down to the elbow!

Then I got a bit worried because although I get stitch gauge on this small needle, I probably do not get row gauge. Which would mean I was decreasing faster than the pattern wanted. Resulting in too tight a sleeve.

So I took a bit of yarn and sewed up the sleeve I had worked so far. Tried it on:

It’s ok. It will relax a bit more with blocking and even more because this is superwash yarn, which relaxes way more than regular yarn. I’m golden.
To be more acurate: this pattern is golden.
Excellent for “just fiddling thumbs time” and yielding such a beautiful result!

I’ve already planned to make another one. In red. With “koffieboontje” stitch for the lace part. And one in green. With leaves. Also with leaves at the back panel, fanning out.

Oooh yes, I finally get to scratch that cardigan itch without having to do all this thinking and swatching and redesigning and frogging.

my projectpage is here
I’m using regular sockyarn and needles 2,75mm to get gauge at 24 st/10 cm

When it’s not “just fiddle your thumbs time” I do the “requires thinking knitting”: the Devonshire Cream Hat and the designing of the Woodland Sweater. Yesterday I spend the afternoon in bed researching the increase rate for the yoke and which animal would like to be involved in it.

Designing Woodland sweater: overall feel and style

These days I have the Woodland cardi on my mind all the time. The yarn lies on the table, talking to me about colours and contrasts. I’ve been surfing the net and learning about Fair Isle and steeks. I’ve collected pictures of styles and charts I like. By now I have an idea of where I want this to go and in this post I’ll show you, using this structure:

  • the yarn: yardage and contrasts
  • stranded knitting: design restraints and consequences
  • fair isle: what I don’t like, what I do like
  • sweater design: dated looks, timeless patterns
  • killing my darlings…
  • Woodland sweater

This is my yarn:

All Shetland type yarn, 100% wool. 2 ply, to be knit on needles 3 or 3,5 mm (fingering weight). The big skeins are from a small spinning factory in Estonia. They’ve been in business for nearly a 100 years. They used to spin the yarn known as Evilla. That name has been sold and they now spin the same quality yarn under a different name: Wool&Yarn.

  The pictures of the old mill are broken on their site, perhaps they will be repaired one day so I’m keeping them here. Here’s what google streetview of the plant looks like:


It’s lovely to support a small business connected to the long and rich knitting traditions of that region.

… while finding their website for you I may have ordered yarn with them for three more cardigans…
… because, you see, shipping costs get lower when you order more than 8 skeins…
… and I really crave green…

(what?! that’s not the right green!)

In my opinion there are two kinds of stranded sweaters: one with a yoke and one that’s stranded throughout. I’d like the whole cardigan to be stranded, not just the yoke. For warmth.


The circle yoke sweater Helsinki and stranded all over cardigan Norwegian Rose, both by FeralKnitter who really knows how to play with colours and yarn. She sells kits, patterns and workshops in the Fair Isle technique.

I looked at a lot of projects from people on Ravelry -isn’t that a lovely way to spend an afternoon? Looking at projects, getting inspired, picking up technical tips!- to find out about meterage (yardage). I looked at long sleeved projects worked on needles 2,75mm-3,25mm (light fingering and fingering yarn weight) which is what my project will be like.

It seems that a sweater with a coloured yoke needs about 1100-1300 m of the main colour and about 300 m of the contrasting colour.

For a full stranded sweater the numbers seem to be: 800-1000 for the main colour with 600-800 of the contrast colour. It does depend a bit on which colour you use for the borders and cuffs.

My main colour is the darkish warm brown, I have about 945 m of it. This is not enough meters to ensure a relaxing knit without fear of running out…
For contrast I have 764 m of the white and lots of skeins in accompagnying browns and orange.

I’ll need to be smart. Halfway I could change the main colour: below the waist white will become the main colour.

So the red brown and the white are the stars of the show. They have plenty of contrast! But not so much as hard black has with hard white. This is good because my face doesn’t have that stark contrast either, I’m more an antracite+pearl kinda gal. So these colours will work for me, even if the brown has a warm tone and I am cool.

Other colour combinations that give good contrast are the white with anything; the orange handspun with anything and the darkest handspun with the white or orange. I have arranged the skeins so at the bottom are the high contrast colours -good for clear patterning (think contour and lines)- and at the top are the more harmonious colours -good for enhancing an already established pattern (think shading)-.


  1. each row has to have two colours at most. (otherwise: yarn spaghetti + not enough index fingers to keep them apart)(I know knitters can knit with up to 10 colours in one row. But I donwanna)
  2. one colour needs to be knit no more than 4 or 5 stitches at a time. (otherwise the other colour forms a long strand at the back of the work and you easily snag on it when you put on the garment. Also: tension troubles.)

Fair Isle is the traditional knitwear from the Fair Isles off the coast of Scotland. It consists of stranded colourwork where in each row two colours are alternated every few stitches. Between rows the colours you use can change but not ín the row you are working on.

This is the typical traditional Fair Isle look:

FairisleJumperGreen.jpg pic by Scott Tankard

Modern interpretations play with colour and motives. Still clearly with the stacking of horizontal bands and the use of just two colours in any given row.

Yfsnow’s Ivy League Vest by Eunny Jang and PoofyBirdy’s wonderful vegetable interpretation of the same design.

The geometric repetition in horizontal bands is part of the tradition. I’ll probably wander away from this a bit as I’m not a fan of repeating geometrical designs, especially organized in horizontal stripes. Therefor I technically shouldn’t call it Fair Isle anymore. “Stranded knitting” would be better.

You can do a stranded pattern without obvious horizontal bands. Usually a Fair Isle pattern chooses one pattern and keeps repeating it all around the sweater for a few rows. But you don’t have to. You can change the pattern depending on where you are in the sweater:

Saint Olav and His Men Cardigan (ravelry pattern page) by Cynthia Wasner. Not particular my style… but you get the idea.

Or you can use a large overall pattern:

Rauma baby 054-5 by Rauma Designs
(this would look unflattering on a grown woman who has curves and who moves during the day, I feel)

Or you can use small shapes and scatter them around freestyle:

I like this, this is a fun way of knitting!

(But this will mix the colours visually, dampening them both. Imagine a sweater full of these crawlies…it would be both tiresome and colourwise boring to look at.)

Another idea is to use some overall pattern and put different content in each slot:
pattern Squirrel Sweater for Baby (model 11) by Tone Takle and Lise Kolstad. This red knitting and the photo are by PhairIsle
(A whole sweater full of this would look childish on me but as an idea it works)

I like this design for overall structure:

Kyllene by Kirsten M. Jensen
It has some of that timeless style feel to it. I could easily fill some of the slots with a stylized squirrel instead of a stylized tree.
But a body full of diamond shapes?…. I’m not convinced but will keep it in mind.

This is going to be a Woodland sweater. I want squirrels! And owls. Hedgehogs. Oak leaves.
But I don’t want a childish cardigan. It has to be mature, adult and stylish. No Bill Cosby sweater for me please. Or a notorious x-mas sweaters:

Go look at that Bill Cosby link, it’s a fun site, with all his sweaters identified!!

I want a timeless design. So I thought I’d look at the Art Deco era for inspiration, to find that overall structure. It provides stylistic interpretations of the highly recognizable (and thus dated) patterns of the Jugendstil/ Art Nouveau era.

When you google images for “art deco patterns” lots of horizontal organizes pattern pop up. Be it wall paper, decals or fabric. Waves, fans, circles, swirls. Enough to plop in a stylized squirrel or two.

But I don’t want a stamp repeated all over the body of this cardigan. I think it doesn’t look good.What I want is an overall pattern with some variation in it, without repetition.

I have found two nice examples of what I mean:

I think this one is by Adolphe Mouron Cassandre, a famous designer from the very era. He designed the YSL logo. I got the picture from c20thgraphicdesign

The other one I found is this one:
This is a bronze tile by Arizona Hot Dots

Both have a vertical alinement. With horizontal accents, placed randomly. These accents could be substituted for woodland creatures.

Looking now at the Fair Isle technique again I’m certain I don’t want the small, fiddly repetition designs. I prefer a novel interpretation of the colour shapes you can make with this technique. I love bolder shapes but the no-more-than-5-stitches-in-1-colour demands some serious designing inventiveness to make that happen. That small cats pattern is one example of italbeit a bit too fiddly.
This is where my love for blockprinting comes in handy. Designing with only two colours and suggesting shapes and silhouettes using contrasts, without drawing the actual lines, that’s all printing fun, baby!

Knitwear designers know this fun too:

Autumn Fire Mittens by Jouni Riihelä and Leena Riihelä. I have this very kit!

These are modern Finnish mitten designs by Riihivilla, a small one woman company, which sells yarn and mitten kits with yarn and pattern. All yarn is Finnsheep, one of my all time favourite European breeds. All colours come from plants and fungi and Leena shares her knowledge and experience about these freely. These colours have much more depth then factory dyes. Again a fellow wool woman very much deserving of our cheer. Visit her shop here: Riihivilla.

I love how the dark and the light colours are arranged in horizontal bands while the overall design flows on, vertically. You see the trees even though the stem internally changes from the darkest to the lightest colour. There’s some cunning use of contrast going on here! Worth studying.

Another inspiration is this design by Angela McHardy from etsyshop Clovaknits:

She alternates the colours in broad bands and uses the background colours in smart ways. The coloured zigzags lie on top of the white background. But in the coloured bands it’s the black that lies on top.
I particularly like how the black ventures out a bit into the first white band that borders it, at the owl’s “toes”. This could be used more, letting the lines of the animal get into the second main colour. (My main colours are white and dark red brown. The other colours will be the accents.)
This is really intelligent stranded knitting design, I am wildly inspired by it! By the designing methods that is, the design of the cushion itself runs the risk of being dated in a couple of years I think.

So that’s what’s all been in my head, milling around… I’ve noted some of my preferences: that Art Deco pattern for overall organization…. bold shapes to suggest woodland creatures….

I toyed with the yarn… I scribbled and doodled…

Although I can’t wait to explore the colour design lessons from the Riihivilla mittens and Clovaknits cushion I think I should not put them in my cardigan. I’ve come to the conclusion that focusing on this part of the design will probably make it impossible for it to be a timeless design. A lot (all?) of the charts I’ve seen for woodland creatures are firmly rooted in this era: the first two decades of this century. They are modern, with clean lines, a bit cartoonsy, a lot of cutesy, borrowing shapes and styles from ’50s and ’60s patterns. It would be nearly impossible to design one that isn’t akin to this…

Therefor a woodland creatures combination should not be the main thing in my cardigan.

The overall structure should be the main thing.

So I’ve decided to split the two. I’ll play with funny creatures and bold shapes and broad colourbands in a separate piece of knitting. A shawl or a blanket perhaps. Still stranded, still with a steek and still using the yarn in the top picture.  I’ll have such fun trying to make a funny design while trying to keep floats to a minimum! I’ve already worn my Owl Sweater around my neck to determine if this yarn is suitable for next to neck wear…

yoke sweater with owls and coloured bands? soooo 2012.


My Woodland cardigan will be build upon the feel of Kyllene, using the pattern by Cassandre, in white and dark brown,  adding two or three creatures somewhere.


Can you see what I plan to do? I’ll have the random leaves that grow from the stalks somewhere low on the cardigan but upwards they will be just random lines, not trees at all.

Except somewhere high up on my back, there one stripe will bend sideways and an owl will be sitting on it. Two or three leaves at the end.

There could be a squirrel twirled around a stalk somewhere else… perhaps on a sleeve.

Near the bottom end of the cardi the leaves could be stacked in one place , with a little hedgehog poking its nose through.

But I’ll keep the animals too a minimum, they are details. Cutesy details.