finished Boxy Shetland Sweater

A nice comfy sweater


Preparing to dye with mushrooms.

Just before the sun hits the snow this morning:

I’m at the cabin for six days of rest and crafting. Yesterday I arrived here with Lillepoes and about 19 projects to work on. Knitting, sewing, spinning, embroidery.

Instead I’ve been doing some homework for a workshop Dyeing with Mushrooms I’ll attend at the beginning of February. This is Shetland Lambswool from LYS and wool studio De Schapekop:

I need to make these into 14 skeins of 25 grams and 5 of 10 grams. Then they need to be mordanted with alum. It has to happen this week because I won’t be seeing my dyeing pan or the alum after that. So here I was last night, skeining up the cakes, counting the rotations of my Louet winder.

The workshop at De Schapekop will be fun and interesting. This is the picture they show:
Lots of colours possible with mushrooms!

It’s a two day workshop, with mycologist (= professional mushroom-o-logist) Chiel Noordeloos. A mushroom expert who happens to love knitting and has brought these two fields together.

The first day we’ll dye yellow, green and orange-reds. The second day greys, purple and browns. At the end I’ll have 350 grams of dyed yarns. That’s a stranded vest!

I knew of dyeing yarn with mushrooms from Finnish dyer Leena Riihelä from webshop Riihivilla. They have locally spun Finnsheep yarns, all dyed with plants and mushrooms. Their mitten kitts are excellence! I’ve knitted three (and a half) of them.
 pic by Riihivilla

In Summer time they sell them on the market Kauppatori of Helsinki:
Willow Herb Mittens

My mittens, the first I ever knit:

They put so many yarn in one kit that I knit three mittens. The first one was too tight, you can see the difference in the first picture. There was enough yarn to knit two extra mittens. It was my first stranded project.

Here are some pictures of the finished product, I only took these last year, after 7 years of wear:

Still look good eh? I wear them often. When I made them I put the year on it, as it was the year I learned to knit.  Since then I wanted to date a knit each year but it’s only now that I did it again: the Wolop Advent-shawl has “2016” on it.

These are the Finsheep mittens I knit for my husband and my mother. All Riihivilla kits and they both still use them too.
robertmittsroz mitts

And here’s the kit I bought in 2011 and have knitted a bit on since then:

The light orange is mushroom dyed for sure! Since I bought this kit my colour preference has switched away from orange and I don’t think I’ll ever finish it. Which is something I feel guilty over because I’d really like another pair of Riihivilla mittens. Wonderful company, wonderful yarn. Finnsheep is in my top 3 of favourite breeds.

I wish I had bought the kit for this colourway instead:

Shipping costs are preventing me from ordering them now and have done so for years…
Instead I’m dreaming of visiting Finland one day. Buy the kit in person, on the market. Also see Finnish wool people. And try to find an old Finnish spinning wheel to take home, restore and use. I already have a Finnish slanty wheel and would love to have an old one. One used by a Finnish wool woman.

Back to dyeing with mushrooms. All colours above are done with plants and mushroom. The grey-green in my rose mitts is from mushroom. And the orange and pink in my mother’s mitts too, if I remember correctly.

Leena of Riihivilla keeps a very interesting blog about her dyeing:

Annakika is a dyer in Sweden with a beautiful Flickr account:

dagens skördResultat av svampfärgningen / Mushroom dyeing 16 juli 2012
Pics by AnnaKika who dyed these skeins with mushrooms (notes in Swedish)

Now I’m off to tie up some more skeins. Tea is gone, cake is gone. Let’s get to it.
The tying needs to be done in a certain way, so the dye fluid can reach every part of the yarn. For this dyers tie a string in a repeated figure 8 across the strands of the skeins.

Every skein has to be marked too, so I’ve put a wooden bead on them. And tied two knots in a string, should the bead break and go missing.

Lastly I’ve used a knot that is more easily loosened than a straight forward knot. Before putting the ends through the loop I run them once behind the “root”.

Here’s everything together: bead, figure 8 across the skein and a slightly modified knot at the end:

Also: this yarn contains spinning oil and I must be careful not to rub it on my face. I think I did it anyway because I had insomnia last night and I’ve not yet shaken off the brackish feeling that comes with that. A little walk outside first, I think. Than a snort of cat tummy. And then wool homework. Then wash hands and yarn and hopefully tonight peaceful dreaming of mushrooms.

Mushroom Garden pic by Nelo Hotsuma

Biasknitting: seaming blocks together.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boohoo! All that knitting has to be frogged.

For a while I contemplated another solution:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bought at the Fair: a Real Shetland Throw

This old picture shows I had been working on my handspun Shetland/Blue Texel throw/shawl/blanket. But for a while now I’m not sure how to proceed. Connecting the parts which are bias knitted and attaching a border to bias knit planes makes me a bit unsure because bias knit has a different stretchiness then regular knit and I don’t know which stitch to use or which ratio for picking up stitches when attaching perpendicular knitting such as an icord.

It’s not a difficult puzzle to solve. Mostly it just involves some trial and error. I also had some advise this week (attach parts with a zig zag stitch instead of a mattress stitch.) But the fact that the puzzle is there in the first place made me deflect to easier knits, casting on new knits and spending time writing long blog posts and watching David Armand mime songs in funny ways.

Still I’d like some warm Shetland/Blue Texel to wrap around my knees at night. I’ve been wearing parts of the handknit but it’s not working very well.

Then, at the fair of Midwinterwol, there was a vendor selling 100% Shetland blankets at a great offer:

 Pounds for euro’s! In a nice light colourway. All undyed wool. Natural product. Sturdy yet warm. Nice bloke. Good story. Lovely occasion with great atmosphere.

That’s why I came home with a Shetland throw even though I have a handmade one that’s nearly finished.

The vendor is Real Shetland Company

With Shetland there’s a bit of a thing where we can argue if something is real Shetland because it’s made from the sheep breed Shetland or if it’s more real because it comes from the Shetland Islands with its distinguished traditions in knitwear and Shetland sheep. Or if it’s the most reallest if it comes from Shetland, is made from local Shetland wool and is also sold by local people.

Real Shetland Company takes a stand in this topic and writes on their site:
“We directly support over 800 Shetland Crofters (sheep farmers) on the Islands as well as supplying Jamieson and Smith (Shetland Wool Brokers) with a wide selection of our woven goods for them to sell in their shop in Lerwick, the capital and main port of the Shetland Islands.”

The Real Shetland Company buys their raw wool from Shetland sheep flocks on the Shetland Islands and processes it in a factory in Yorkshire (which is on the main UK island) in a plant that’s very environmentally friendly (but whose site is still embryonic in information).

Either way I came home with a good product. And it was recognized as such by the experts:
lazy cats in knitting
lazy cats in knittinglazy cats in knitting

Yep. I’d better finish my own Shetland blanket if I want something to wrap around me.

And if you can’t hog a Shetland throw, use that soft natural wool from Sweden as a pillow:lazy cats in knitting
Suggesting strongly that I knit on something else for a while. For instance my Shetland/Blue Texel blanket.


the WIPs at the moment & finished Hilja vest

These are the projects I’m actively working on.

Sleeping socks:

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

The handspun sweater vest:

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

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

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

The Texel Shetland blanket/wrap:

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

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

Shetland and Blue Texel WIP

Yay, we’re at the cabin!

The multi natural coloured Shetland + Blue Texel handspun cardi is becoming something else….

A wrap perhaps. Or a little blanket. Or a shrug.
All I know is I made a panel of the Shetland little zigzags and wanted to start knitting with that beautiful Blue Texel handspun from Moonwise. Having a garment with that zigzaggy panel on the back didn’t feel right anymore. Too foreign.
I saw something else in my mind, some kind of Blue Texel hug, interspersed with lines of Shetland.

I’m inspired by three things:
1. the non-stranded knitting of The Great Missowski by Julia Trice:

2. the optic pleasure of blanket Horizon by Grace Anna Farrow:

3. and the gorgeous wrap Hansel from Ribbels that looks so comfortable on her:

Ribbels is a big fan of Shetland yarns and knits the most beautiful pieces with it. Her project page is one of the pages on Ravelry that I like to visit and wander aimlessly and admire.

With these three projects dancing in front of my mental edit: mind’s eye I’m now knitting “freehand”. Without a pattern. Yes, I’ve bolted free and am just galloping the meadows of knit!
But not scaring the sheep obviously. Because that would be mean.
Not so much galloping either… more like skipping along. Humming happily. Stopping and waving whenever an animal raising its head in wonder.
Just going where the wool takes me.

For technical matters and to understand chevron knitting I’ve looked closely at a free chevron blanket pattern (Chevron Baby Blanket by Espace Tricot) and now I’m just winging it.
I’m playing with colours, playing with proportions. Playing with intarsia even, you can’t see clearly but the triangle in the middle now has an all brown part at the top while it’s neighbours just progress in grey. They are knit simultaneously:

Later on I’ll sew the “missowksi”-strip to the side of the chevron-bit and I plan to add another piece of chevrons to the other side. I might elongate the little zigzags if I think I need more acreage.

Aran weight, knit on needle 5 mm. (Normal knitters would probably use 7 mm)
I want to use this in the city so please don’t let the cabin’s clumsiness and friendly awkwardness seep into this knit. It’s got to stay fresh, sharp and stylish.

Weird Wool Wednesday: best plans

I’ve been itching to continue knitting on the green handspun vest. Knitting with handspun is such a delight! It goes faster than knitting with commercial yarn too.  And I love the green handspun. Can’t wait to wear my vest! With a handmade blouse.

I did the math and the designing to figure out how to knit up the second shoulder strap. All I need to do now is to sit down, have a cup of tea and enjoy that lovely knit. It will be time lovely spent!

So made a cup of tea, sat down, took up the needles and….

cast on for the planned handspun Shetland and Blue Texel garment instead!

Why? I want my green vest!

yeah, but, you see, ahh… this is such a lovely knit too! I’ve been looking forward to try out the things I studied in the swatch. And this lovely yarn has been sitting on my table and it’s so nice.

Actually, once I started I couldn’t put it down. This was knitted in one night, last night, long after my husband went to bed and I had said: “just let me knit a few rows fast, to see how these colours work together.”
It’s a lofty bouncy yarn, needles 5 mm, change colours every 5 rows.

A little bit of stranding, or slipped stitches rather. It’s not getting bulky.

I can’t explain why I’m knitting this instead of the green vest…
I suspect it may have to do something with the city. In the city I want to knit other things than I’ve planned and prepared for in the cabin. The green handspun is very much “cabin”.

The same with my wheel. I brought it to the city because I was having a delightful time in the cabin, spinning that silken moonlight by Passe-Partout. I bought extra roving at the Annual Spinners’ Retreat, just to prolong that lovely experience.

Hauled the wheel to the city, that day when I drove myself, Lillepoes and the kitten with all their extra luggage to the city. Unloaded the car, parked the wheel in the front room. And haven’t touched it since:


It’s true that I do need to fix it first, the snare broke:

But truth is I haven’t even thought about it in the last couple of weeks. And I’ve been in the city for weeks now! It’s like this part of the room has a blind spot, a wheel shaped blind spot.

Other things I haven’t touched are the Contiguous Blue cardigan and Arlene cardi. And Holle Cardi! That one only needs some buttons and then is ready to wear, it’s already been blocked! It’s all there too, neatly arranged in a WIP bag. Cardi, buttons and a friendly tin with all the notions needed.

Just sit down, have a cup of tea and sew on that buttons. And this is a real city-knit! It has style and grace and I can wear it and nobody will make remarks about how “home knitted” I look.

Yes, this is a good city knit. Just the thing for a leisurely hour in my stylish living room.

So I made myself a cup of tea, sat down, picked up the needles and:

knitted a x-mas ornamental owl instead.


The pattern is Oisin owl by Pauline Gallagher. I used a yarn that’s not in the Ravelry database yet, DMC Frida, a single spun aran weight with bamboo and silk. I’ll go add it now.

When we return to the cabin and I become forest-Anna again I’ll be shaking my head in disbelief at city-Anna.
And probably, hopefully, finally knit on my green handspun vest.

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.

TdF 17: plied all the Shetland

5 times 50 grams. About 90 metres of each colour.

I’m already thinking what kind of colourwork project would be nice in these 5 natural colours…

Perhaps a teacosy, such as the ladies from Wolgelukkig did?

a hat?

sheep heid by Kate Davies

boot cuffs or legwarmers?

Dutch Shetland Leggies by Malia Mather

the yoke of a sweater?

Thingvellir by Linnea Ornstein

a pillow perhaps?

Dornoch cushion cover by Hazel Tindall

or mittens?

Häggenås 1 by Solveig Larsson

a bag?

Solicitude by Meghan Jones
I love the colourwork. But it feels a bit sinfull to use wool for a bag. Wool has properties that should be used, a little voice in me nags. It should be used for it’s warmth.
But I could easily counter argue that it’s tactile properties are well used in a bag. Every time you touch it.

I’ll keep looking through the database of patterns and people’s projects, it’s very much fun.

This is how the spinning fibre looked. Combed roving. So well prepared that I could spin it semi-woolen.