Winterwalk Mittens in progress

I started these yesterday:

The pattern is Winterwalk Mittens by Simone Kereit, a paid for pattern. It’s top down and especially good for handspun. And it has a thumb gusset!
pattern picture

Thumb gussets are good. Especially when you have hands in the shape of a meat shovel on a meat twig. They are very good hands, make no mistake.

I’m using handspun that is very dear to me. Spun in the magical winter of 2010-2011, from batts I received in the Folklore and Fairytale Swap februari 2010 from the wonderful Norwegian Ullsmeden (“wool-smith”).

Among the many things she send were five batts that follow the story of King Polarbear:

I spun these in the winternights around Winter Solstice 2010. I was alone, in my cabin in the woods, thick with snow. It was magical.

This batt became a yarn called Winternights:

This batt became a yarn called “Lady of Darkness” and it’s about Frau Holle in Winter.

“In Winter Frau Holle rides in the night, with all the unborns under her cape. She looks for people to let them born with in the New Year. After the 12 holy nights of x-mas she retreats into the Underworld (a joyeus place), keeping the souls safe and happy, until her magic 12 nights return the next Winter

In the Summer she rides again as a dark lady, in black, collecting the spirit of corn and flax while they are being harvested by mankind. Mankind keeps the goods, Frau Holle takes the spirits and keeps them safe until the new year, when new crops will spring into life.

This darkside of Frau Holle is not something to be feared or something to be condemmed. Even if she is called ‘Hel’ in this form. ‘Hel’ means ‘bright’.
It is about that circle: born, love, die, resurrection.

This spinning is about the dying part. Black. Tears. Grief. But also: a glimmer of something…..love? beauty? life.”

The batts are full of sparkle and colour nuances. I spun them as a single which I then fulled.

I am very very happy to have found a project in which these yarns can show their many nuances and sparkle and memories:

Finished: grey handspun Flinders vest

So much gets done when you don’t take your crochet with you to the cabin.
I also finished Grey Flinders Vest while I was there:

Top-down vest pattern with raglan at the shoulders:

Before I started the ribbed hem I added a few shortrows at the front because it was considerable higher than the back. Three pairs in total, that’s six extra rows.

pattern: Flinders Sweater Vest by Linda from clickertyclick

yarn: 170 grams of handspun Wolop hollands grijs on needles 4 mm. Ribbing on 3,5 mm. DK weight, 411 m used.

It’s really nice! Now that we’re back in the city I want to make dress shirts asap to wear under it. Like the ones I’ve been planning since last Noveber. But first I have to sew a pair of trousers. Linen Summer trousers. For Summer 2016.

Ofcourse this happened:

A simple mathematical conclusion.

a new needle 4 mm arrived, to continue Tangled Vines cardigan with.

PLUS

still waiting for the purple(green) handspun to dry and start Flinders Vest with it.

EQUALS

casting on Flinders Vest with Wolop Grey on said needle 4 mm:

and I’m already down to the underbust decreases!

The pattern is a tiny bit difficult to follow because it doesn’t explicitly say when to join the back to the fronts and it also increases a bit fast to my taste at the vertical arm hole edges. Thirdly, some increases right at the bind off for the neck edge feel counter intuitive since they happen at one raglan but not the other. I just trusted the pattern and thought that I could always fudge a stitch +/- if I felt it would be needed.

With any stretch of knitting of more than a handful of stitches making one stitch more or less isn’t going to be a problem. Knitting is approximate.

Soon I’ll be breaking the yarn and add the ribbing at the neck and arm holes first, before knitting downwards again to the hem.

There will be a few stripes in blue at the hip line, I expect. That blue Wolop roving has been spun already. It’s Leicester, which is a breed akin to Blue Faced Leicester, and it spun up so fast! Nice long staple and soft. 10/10, will spin again.


The twist hasn’t been set yet. 193 meters, 100 grams, same weight as the Wolop Grey (sport/worsted)

 

“the twist hasn’t been set”…. I better do that right away, otherwise it may not be dry before I need it.

Our day in Münster

We drove to Münster and both of us did our favourite thing in the car:
"Dont stop believin' " Anakin Skywalker... just another emo teenager on a weekend night.
I knitted and Mr Marvel got angry at every other driver on the road.

He was positively fuming and spitting on the steering wheel at times. I’ve come to the conclusion it’s a hobby of his.

I took it as an opportunity to practise to leave it all with him. After all, I know he forgets about his anger a mere 500 m further down the road. It’s of no use that I carry all the charged negativity for another two hours.
Seeing all his anger as a mere hobby of agitated song & dance helps me to disregard it for sure!

The landscape just over the border is already foreign and I enjoyed it very much. Hills! Mysterious bits of forest. Little see throughs and exotic cottages. And: not every inch of land is as neatly suffocated as it is in my country.
Untitled I didn’t take any good pictures.

There are also many fields of rye (not the golden wheat) which is a staple in the German diet.
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Lovely old landscapes that weren’t bombarded during the war:

pics by www.wehrbauten.de and muensterland.de

To me these landscapes refer to the European area where the main fairy tales are from: Germany, Central Europe, Eastern Europe.

We arrived in Münster and started with a coffee and some fortifications. Look how much knitting I got done on the way over:

We then walked in the city and it was lovely. Many interesting building and people. Münster is a university city with many young people, many bicycles and many idealistic causes.
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We got caught in a very heavy shower. I didn’t mind waiting it out under some shelter:

At the end of the day we visited the botanical garden just behind the city castle. It’s one of the best I’ve ever visited!
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Yes, they also have indoor green houses with many tropical plants. I showed the hat a chocolate tree in blossom:

Nice thistle:
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Being here in Summer means many plants were in bloom. So many happy bumble bees! Again not everything was neatly groomed, there were many hidden places and nooks where plants and nature just grew free. But the garden is very well organized and this basic structure makes that it’s never chaos or nasty. And every plant has a label. It’s such a photographer’s paradise.

They had 50 kinds of mint… and most of them smelled awful.
Then, on our way out, we discovered a whole section of dyer’s plants!

I learned some new things and I really want to try some out.
For example, Lily of the Valley (Lelietje van dalen) dyes green:
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Comfrey (smeerwortel) voor dyeing red?!
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Red is one of the illusive colours in the natural dyer’s palette.

These are all the dye plants that are in the garden:
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I have some Lily of the Valley in the wood behind the cabin, I really want to try it out.

We then left Münster and on the way back we stopped at a large supermarket to do some shopping. They had lots of Lindt chocolate! Their 85% chocolate has been my favourite chocolate for years (but not anymore).
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???
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Strawberry spaghetti eis chocolate?

I picked some that I fancied:
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and had a piece (or two) before we drove the last leg back to the cabin.

Major sugar bomb alert!

(now I know for certain that Swiss Chocolat Stella 75% is my all time favourite)

Sitting in the car with my tooth enamel crackling and my brain rattling in my skull I found a new car knitting hobby… at every traffic light I showed my knitting to the car waiting next to us:

Then I showed what it was meant to be:

I got many laughs and thumbs up. Happy people! Knit in public ambassador! More chocolate!

Robert also found a new driving hobby: racing away from every traffic light as fast as he could and loudly praying that the next one would be green and he’d never have to see these laughing drivers again.

At home we relaxed a bit by watching olympic cycling:

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and I discovered sugary chocolate brings out my old frenemy of stockinette knit:

Progress on Handspun Green Vest

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

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

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

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

Throw in a bit of cod for dinner and you’ve got best friends for life who allow all the petting and cuddling you like, as long as there’s a snack at the end of it:
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As humankind is an eye-species as much as it’s a touch-things-species I think that’s why we breed cats in such various shapes and colours, just to please our eyes while we indulge our hands. It’s not something I favour because it does not benefit the cats… but I see how it plays into our eye-addiction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ve finished my two blouses. I’m ready to wear some vests over it!

I’ve been wearing my black and white vest over them. The vest in the first organic sheep from Laan van Wisch I ever spun. Lovely vest, I wear it often.

But I’m ready for my handspun green one. I’ve figured out how to work it further, how to work upwards and make the second shoulder strap. Pick up stitches from the i-cord that I attached. (I-cord is in a different handspun that will also be used to make up sidepanels).

Knitting this is next on the list as soon as I decide to sit down to knit and only knit. Like on a lovely Sunday morning.

But before it got to today it was Thursday and we were to travel to the cabin the next day. I needed a knitting project to work on in the car. No counting, no looking, no trying on for fit.
So the night before the trip I casted on a toe for bed socks. Bed socks are on my list of things that I need this winter. Bed socks are just tube socks (no heel) and I wanted to knit these out of some lovely sock yarns I have. Yarn held double:

It was too lovely!
The colours, the lovely mindless knitting.
That Thursday evening the toe became a foot and then I was worried I still had to count for the increasements so I knit those too. Than suddenly one foot was all done and I had run out of the two variegated yarns for one sock:

In search for another colour to combine with the blue semi solid I found a sock half finished and had a car project after all.
Hiking boot socks with yarn held double:

The yarn is handdyed by Chasing Clouds in a colour I named “City in Dust”.
Our traditional cities are build with red clay baked stones, bricks, from all the iron rich clay that aligns our rivers. It’s a rich piece of industrial history that has shaped our landscapes, our cities, our houses and our surnames. This yarn colourway talks to me about that.

 Brick plant in Delfzijl, still producing.

Friday rolled around and I didn’t need my car knitting because Robert had fallen ill and preferred to stay in the city where we have a bath and a comfortable chair and fast internet.

We’ve just come out of a couple of months of stress and whenever that happens and we hit the smooth patch again, Robert gets ill. It’s quite sweet really, because during the stress he’s holding up and being all supportive and caring for me and offering cups of tea. Then as soon as the stress is done with and he sees that I’m (going to be) fine he crumbles.
But only for a few days, luckily.

Though, if he doesn’t attend to it, he’ll get ill for weeks, because he carries the Epstein-Barr virus which always lurks in the body. Last time he even got a lung infection.
This time he was worried it would come to that again and he was already preparing for lung problems when all he had was a cold and a soar throat. He didn’t even go to bed.

So when I went to the local liquorice store to get him some sweets I may have mentioned “man flu” …
Sweer shop De Bossche Suikeroom, in a historical handformed red brick building:

pic by Tante Loe

The owner is very friendly! And she knows how to value funny remarks from knitters who in truth are a bit worried about their spouses.

This is the second weekend we’re not going to the cabin…
By now I’ve run into a little stash trouble. The coming week we’re supposed to ship out a swap I’m participating in. There’s one more thingy I wanted to knit for my swappee and the yarn is in the cabin.
So I made the most of my unplanned city dwelling and took a train to Eindhoven to visit yarn shop Bij Tante Betsy. (“At Aunty Betsy”)
I met up with some of my knitter friends and we had a lovely afternoon! And I totally forgot to take pictures until I was at the train station heading back home:

Eindhoven station… not a single red clay brick in sight.

This is how a Dutch train looks like:

Eindhoven is the city of Philips, the technical manufacturer. Technical stuff is big in this city, both in education (Technical University, The Design Academy) and in industry (Philips, the High Tech Campus, Brainport).

Last year the Financial Times ranked Eindhoven 3rd city of the future, after London and Helsinki.

This is how I looked, waiting at the station, wearing the bag I once felted myself, at a workshop with Het Wolbeest whom I dearly recommend.


I can’t show you everything I bought at the LYS because the swap is a secret one. But I did buy this lovely muted sock yarn. For mindless knitting.
And that’s my monster phone case, crocheted by a lovely British woman, one of the first knitting friends I made on Ravelry and we tried to shower each other with little handmade attentions. Unfortunately we’re no longer in contact, somehow online friendships dance to a different beat than real life ones do.

The train was very overcrowded. I had my head in the armpits of two different people who were trying to keep upright but had nothing to grap hold of except the wall above me.

This is the intercity running the length of the country, from the south to Schiphol Airport! The train service is way too skimpy with the number of carriages they provide.

The guys standing next to me were looking at my knitting (I knitted a bit on the secret thing) and I think they were a bit drunk. Nonetheless they were impressed by circular needles which they first assumed were attached so I wouldn’t lose them. I told them about some of the innovations in both needles and yarns (having Eindhoven Tech on my mind) and then one of the guys made a “check” movement in the air. He said he had just checked the box “interested”.

Then we arrived at Den Bosch which has a modern station:

Where Eindhoven banks on high tech, Den Bosch is more fairy tales and art. Jeronimus Bosch was born here after all and there’s an art academy.

This city was much less bombed during the Second World War than Eindhoven. Old brick buildings survived, with their frilly fronts.

The dragon that lived in the swamps around here when the city was founded:

That concluded my Saturday afternoon.

Now it’s Sunday morning, I’m looking forward to do some knitting. Just sit down and knit. As soon as I post this blog post.

And do some cat-extraction:

ah, I notice I’m doing product placement for Sanature, a female hygiene product with cotton instead of plastics (which all the Always products use). Well, it wasn’t planned but I do endorse this product very much. These are thin ultra pads, just like all the Always and similar products. But made with cotton. Cotton makes the body feel much more relaxed than all those plastic products do. And the same functionality. Try it, you’ll see. Buy in the Netherlands at Etos, DA or Dhio or ask me and I’ll give you one.

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.

Knitting a weird hat.

I don’t know why but I’ve been knitting a hat for the last 10 days.
A hat is not at the top of my To-Do list. But I wanted to use that handspun I’ve used before that doesn’t look so good just knitted on its own. I happened to have a ball of Wollmeise Lace yarn in a glorious deep purple (Gran Mère) that would be a great combination. I wanted to knit these yarns so casted on.

I alternate the two skeins and I knit the Wollmeise in stockinette stitch and the handspun in garter. The colours of the handspun finally look splendid.

Contemplating hat shapes, I was toying with the idea of a sideways crescent shape, to cover my ears, from which you pick up stitches on one side to form the back.
Mainly because I didn’t want to knit a swatch, I wanted to start right away and that sideways part you can just knit until it’s long enough.

As I was forming my thoughts I was roaming through the Ravelry database and sure enough I had just “unvented” a hat that already exists. Lee Meredith, a fun and good designer, already has a hat pattern very much like my idea:

Gentle on my Mind by Lee Meredith

Now I had a bit of a dilemma.
If I look close enough at the pattern pictures I can reverse-engineer this design. Knit it without buying it? That doesn’t feel right…

So I ventured to create my own pattern from scratch but I was pleased to see that it could be done. It still didn’t feel quite right, to knit a hat that looks very much like a designed one. Especially with a designer that’s so skilled and writes such good patterns as Lee Meredith does, you really want to support them.
I seriously contemplated buying this design, just to feel good about myself, but at 7 US dollars I thought it a bit expensive for just that purpose. It seems the price of my quilt maxes out at 4 euros. I’m not proud.

I did my best to make my hat differ from Lee’s design. My decreases at the back are different, creating a different shape and rhythm in stripes. I don’t know what Lee did with the short rows in the back, I did my own thing.

And now I’ve ended up with a weird hat:

I doubt I’ll wear this in the city. It’s more of a Renaissance fair look…

Fit is perfect though and it does keep my ears warm…

I’ve got no idea how to bring this hat around. The bottom needs to be finished. And perhaps it needs some kind of trim at the front, to make it more sophisticated. But what and how?

No idea. It’ll be parked for a while while I hatch a new thought.
Neat stripe work. The colours work well and the fabric handles well too. That’s some problems solved. Now to un-weird it. Because it’d be a shame not to wear this.

Accidental handspun cowl ‘n mitts

I’m working on tea cosies and Deco Cardi and felt dress and other things but somehow also this happened:

A cowl/neckwarmer and two mitts. The mitts in my head are called: “tulips” for the wrist and for the part of the hand that rests on the computer keyboard. They are often in my line of sight so they need to look nice.

Knit in Brioche stitch on needles 4,5 mm. I used 157 m of aran weight yarn.

The yarn I spun myself, last October, on that annual Spinners’ Retreat. The roving is handdyed by Wolop and was bought at the annual Day of Wool & Fibres. Back then the roving reminded me of sun on snow and I wanted it dearly, even though I’m no fan of pastels or of roving with lots of white in it. But the pastels that could come from this roving… these would make me happy, I knew. I love the sun on snow, especially on a small contained scale (just your backyard, just a snow drop peaking through, just a snowflake in a macro photo. Small scale and smaller scale.)

But when I spun it it was glorious weather. We were walking barefoot in the grass.

It’s soft BFL wool. And ever since I spun it I’ve been thinking what to do with it.

The last few days my neck was cold and my aching shoulder prefers my knitting to be Brioche (why does that not hurt? Am I slower? More relaxed? I enjoy it a lot, the moment of knitting, I’m not thinking so much of the end product as I am when knitting stockinette stitch. Perhaps it’s that.).

And it’s January. The sun has become a little more bright than a few weeks back. Snow is a possibility. The skies are swept clear by winds. The land lays bare and I can look all the way to the horizon. All this makes me think of snow and mountains and little streams flowing under ice and caves with sparkling ice

I was rummaging through the stash in search of thickish yarn to make tea cosies from. And all of the above was going through my head and then I came across that beautiful skein if sunlit snowflake BFL …. so I yanked the 4,5 mm circular out of the Deco Cardigan and just started knitting. In that Double Dutch Brioche technique I unvented. I knit from both the outside and the inside of the ball and I weighed the yarn carefully when I was making the mitts, so they both would be about the same size. I started with the cowl though, estimating the amount of stitches I had to cast on.

This is how I thought: well, it’s basically akin to ribbing. So I’ll just do the thing I do for ribbing which is circumference x gauge – 10%.

Because I’m knitting with aran weight and my 4,5 mm needles so much I knew the gauge pretty well. (14 st/10 cm). For the cowl I cast on 4 x 14 = 56 – 5 = 50 (I needed it to be even). The cowl is worked top down and I increases + 8 once and + 16 on the second time.

For the mitts I cast on 20 st. (15 cm x 14 st = 21 – 1 = 20 st) and increases 4 once and then 8.

Ahh, so happy with this!

The colours, the softness, the brioche squishyness, the warmth. Yes, a fine in between project that gives fast results that are functional.

(note to self: I need to buy more 4,5 mm Red Lace circulars. It’s services both my default spinning thickness and all the Irish aran that keeps appearing in my house. One is just not enough.)(also: buy some more erasers. They keep disappearing.)

Finished: green legwarmers

Last days of Summer and I managed to knit something green, just like I planned to do all along:

on needles 5,5 mm, 219 m, 100 grams of handspun.
I just kept knitting until I ran out of yarn. They run over my knee. That’s handy because lately my knees have become cold easily.

From the handspun I spun in my Louet Hatbox, that lovely little spinning wheel.