April Fools’ and Snowstorms

I know that my latest blog posts only talk about starting new projects… Occasionally some of them actually get completed as well.

I have to start with a declaration: I am not a great fan of April Fools’ jokes. I think they are fun if you have kids, or there is a certain tradition with your family or friends, but generally they are just not my cup of tea. I am lucky that my husband does not care much about this kind of jokes either.

However, the Estonian weather has its own sense of humour. So, on the morning of the 1st of April, when everyone was already dreaming of spring, we had a snowstorm. One of those proper traffic-stopping, turn-your-heaters-back-on-and-sing-Christmas-carols type of snowstorms.

That kind of weather made me brew a bucket of tea, dig out the ball of Aade multicolour wool that I got as a gift for Christmas, and start on a pair of knee-high socks.

April snowstorm socks

I love Aade’s yarn: being 100% wool it is quite rough, but it reminds me of my childhood. My grandparents used to have sheep, and even though the socks and mittens that were made of them were not particularly soft or sweet, they sure did their job of keeping warm. Aade’s yarn, of course, can boast a selection of colours we never even knew to dream of back then. And this particular colourway has all my favourite blue and green hues. The cabled pattern comes from Mary Webb’s “Knitting Stitches”, my go-to book for simpler lace patterns for years.

April snowstorm socks 2

Another running joke around here is that winter is nothing compared to the weather during midsummer night. Well, whatever it will be, I have a pair of socks that will help me survive however cold it will be. Let’s see who’ll laugh about that, Mr. Weather!

Re-inventing the Heel

Obviously, knitting with multiple colours is not my strong suit… So, it made sense to pick a new project to practice exactly that aspect of my knitting. However, I had no clue what kind of a challenge it would end up 😀

So, meet my husband’s newest pair of socks. I picked the Moose Parade pattern, because it seemed relatively doable. As I already had to tweak the pattern due to different yarn and sizing, I decided I will make my life easier, and just knit it how the pattern said – from the top. Boy, was I wrong about the easy part.

Moose parade socks

I actually studied how to knit that type of heel in school, but ever since I have preferred knitting socks from the toe. It is more intuitive for me, and to me it seems like it gives a more polished look for the toe and the heel. Added bonus is, that you never have to worry about running out of yarn halfway through. But now I had to scrape up the bits from my memory, watch through dozens of youtube and blog tutorials, and figure out how to go back “old-school”. I kid you not, I think I frogged and re-knit the heels more than 20 times.

Moose Parade Socks 2

I was so proud of myself when I finally finished this pair! I am still not completely happy with the tension, or the heel, to be honest, but my husband says he loves them. And even if he does say that just because he loves me, it is ok, I still choose to believe him 🙂

Of course, to recover from the heel trauma, and to celebrate a project that actually got finished, I had to celebrate by starting a rehabilitation project.

1st April snowstorm

 

A Few WIPs Too Many? ;)

What does a woman do when she already has about a dozen half-finished project, and she is about to head to a 10-day trip to her in-laws? Of course, she takes on new projects with her!

Unless it is a work trip, travelling is a great opportunity for knitting and crochet. All those hours in airports and on planes, in buses and trains. All those long chatting sessions at cafes, or around living room tables.

The only problem is, that to actually get things done, one has to do some proper pre-trip planning. And as you can imagine, there is plenty of other things that need to be taken care of before getting on that plane. So, I had a whole 10 minutes to come up with something, and drew up a quick plan of:

  • Something that is travel-proof, including getting-through-airport-security-proof. That generally means crochet with a bamboo hook, something quick and easy.

Nowruz clouds

Please note the curve of this crochet hook. This thing is such an experienced traveller it should have its own frequent flyer membership.

  • Something that actually fills up my time, meaning more mental effort.

Moose Parade Sock

My excuse to starting two new projects? No new yarn was purchased for either of them, so it is kind of a stash-busting trip 😛

I’ll let you know how it all goes… 😉

Streamlining Projects

I read Agent Crochet’s post on how she has different crochet projects not only for when she is outside of the house, but also different projects for different parts of the house. And then I realised, I too have “assigned” projects to different circumstances. Here’s my current “pipeline”:

Hygge for evenings on my living room couch – colourful and cozy, requires a certain amount of attention and stability, and it goes well with watching the news or British crime series 😉

Hygge week 2

Haapsalu shawl for when I am travelling by landis light and fits into a purse. As I am still working on the central part, which has a fairly basic pattern, I can knit and be sociable at the same time!

Haapsalu Shawl main part

And for flights and long layovers – granny squares! I am using a bamboo hook, so no-one freaks out at the security control. There is absolutely no system to the colours, so it does not matter which ball of yarn I pull out of the bag next. And it really helps pass all the hours I spend travelling.

Granny squares small

I’ll be absolutely honest, there are a few other works-in-progress here and there, but they are on hold for now… I guess until I find a time and place to assign for them too 🙂

 

The Holy Grail

Although all signs might point to that, I have not stopped breathing nor have my arms dropped off. I’m still around, and when I am not working or flying or packing or unpacking, I am even knitting.

And I’m not just knitting… I am knitting the Haapsalu Shawl.

To me this shawl has always been like an unreachable Holy Grail… I am not even sure what exactly has been so scary… Maybe it is because the delicate lace seemed so unreal, there was no way I could have been able to create something so fairy-tale-like. Or because of the relatively strict rules that make a piece of knitting a real Haapsalu Shawl. Or maybe it was just the general level of my unawareness – I just had no clue where should I start from.

Haapsalu shawl
A swatch, that’s what you start with! 🙂

Last month I had a chance to attend a two-day workshop by Ivika Viljasaar, a well-known Estonian Haapsalu Shawl enthusiast. I really enjoyed her way of “teaching” – there were handouts to be read, and formulas to be used, shawl samples to ooh! at, and enough coffee to fuel the whole process. And throughout the whole weekend she kept reassuring that it is really not scary at all!

Of course, wanting to do it all right (and, let’s be honest, a bit of shopping), the following Monday I equipped myself with suitable needles, yarn and some instructional materials.

Holy Grail Haapsalu Shawl

As you can see from my swatch I have decided to start off with a simpler pattern, without any nupps. I estimate I am about half way through knitting the centre section part, and so far it does not seem too impossible. However, let’s see how I feel about it when I start calculating the stitches for the lace edging 😉

Tension Troubles

friendship-day-socks-ready-flatI am not happy with my knitting tension these days at all. The past week I spent three nights knitting up a Wurm hat, and ended up with a sloppy pile of who-knows what. It looked so bad, that felt I needed to frog it immediately. It is a pity, really, as I think the pattern is so lovely and simple, and the double edging is very practical!

I also finished the Friendship Day socks, and I am torn about what to do with them. The second start looked promising – I used smaller needles for the ribbing, I modified the pattern to be easier to knit, I turned the pattern so the switch between the rows would be “hidden” on the inside of the leg. And,  managed to achieve a much tighter knit that I usually do!

But then, when I felt the end was close, I got too excited, and lost control over the tension again. What’s worse, due to that, one of the socks ended up about 5 mm bigger. But I am so not inspired to frog them again!

desktop

I think I need to go for a few “test drives” before I make up my mind…

The Beauty of Jet Lag

I don’t know why, but travelling between the Americas and Europe has always given me a massive jet lag. It usually takes me at least a week to adjust, and that on both directions! Travelling between Europe and Asia however is usually a child’s play.

But as it appears, jet lag isn’t all that bad. When you’re wide awake at 4am what do you do? Of course you won’t do house chores, as this would make way too much noise. Of course you won’t do any work, because it is 4am! So, you sit in the silence of your living room, catch up on blogs and knit! All those hours of uninterrupted knitting time! Why haven’t I thought of it before?

Of course, from a certain point of time it is also wiser to put down the knitting and at least pretend to sleep. Because otherwise the next morning 4am you’ll see me in the silence of my living room with a lot of uninterrupted frogging going on.

 

Regress is also kind of progress

Remember the Friendship Day Socks I am knitting? That’s their current state.

friendship-day-sock-frog-small

Just kidding. I do actually have a bit more than that by now. But I did come to the point where I frogged both of them into little balls of yarn. I just could not continue convincing myself I was happy with the quality of my work.

friendship-day-sock-frog-small2

When I started knitting those socks, I completely shrugged off the well-known truth that multi-yarn knitting has a tendency to pull and be too tight. I have always been a rather loose knitter, so I thought that it will never become an issue for me. Besides, for the first time I was knitting with the inside out – a method advised to avoid pulling.

Let’s just say that I achieved loose knitting and pulling at the same time. For most of the time I convinced myself that it is ok for the socks to be a bit 3d (:P)and besides, it is more about the process anyway.

And then I passed the heels. And all of the sudden my tension went tighter. And it looked so much better. And I just could not lie to myself any more. So, I pulled the socks apart.
If only I had thought of how annoying it is to frog three yarns at the same time too! 😀

Friendship Day Socks

When was the last time I knit socks? My best guess is some time around 2013.

When was the last time I knit socks not starting from the toe? In 5th grade, possibly.

When was the last time I knit socks with 3 colours simultaneously? Only in my dreams.

friendship-socks

To update all those answer’s I joined a KAL organised by Novita Knits. The pattern is by Niina Laitinen, a Finnish designer, and I am using the colour combo suggested by the KAL.

The KAL started end of January, and a little chunck of the pattern is published every morning. I quite enjoy working like that, although you never know if the pattern of the day will be 10 rows of struggle or 3 rows of zen-knitting 😀 I’ve fallen behind the schedule a bit as I have been travelling, but technically the socks (Knee-high socks? Stockings? What would you call them in English?!) should be ready by St. Valentines day, which around here is still more a Friendship Day.

Who am I knitting the socks for? For my closest and best-est friend: myself, of course! 😀

I’m on a roll here :)

baby-bootiesAnother item done! Let’s be honest, I cheated a bit. I found them in my yarn stash, all knitted and stitched together. All that was left to do was to wash them, weave in the ends and add the tulip buttons. And voila! I had a little addition to the gift of the baby blanket.

Both the blanket and the booties went to their new home yesterday, and as expected the parents-to-be were impressed. Partially it is because they really appreciate handmade things, and I am very grateful for that. But partially it is also because whenever you make something tiny, it is bound to leave an emotion.

I did forget to take photos of the blanket, so I need to pay them another visit and check out how it fits into their nursery.

baby-booties-2