Lilla Ull Huset

Hello!

Sit down and enjoy the moment, the wooden sign at the top says in German. It was placed behind a stone bench along a hiking trail in Das Bergische Land, an area about 45 km east of Köln/Cologne. We’ve just spent a week there, and I have so much to show and tell, especially for the knitters among you. I hope you have some time to sit down and enjoy this moment at your computer, or in a lazy chair with your tablet or mobile.

The people we rented our apartment from had the most amazing garden. It was private…

… but we were allowed to spend as much time in it as we liked. This is a view of the garden from the veranda at the top:

There was a woodland walk, a vegetable and herb garden, fruit trees, roses, herbaceous borders and several photogenic summerhouses and sheds.

So romantic! We didn’t spend the entire week in that beautiful garden, though. Part of our week was spent visiting friends and relatives, chatting and sampling some utterly delicious cakes.

And to burn all those calories off, we also spent several days hiking. Compared to our flat Dutch country, it’s quite a mountainous area, although it doesn’t show much in this picture.

One of our walks was a themed one around Fachwerkhäuser. How I love those beautiful timber-framed buildings. I could fill an entire post with the pictures I’ve taken of them alone and have had a hard time choosing just one.

The first couple of days were warm and sunny, but then the weather changed (sneaking in one more Fachwerkhaus here).

And on a very, very wet day, we decided to go shopping in the town of Gummersbach.

I’d googled a bit beforehand and discovered a yarn shop there called Lilla Ull Huset, specializing in Scandinavian knitting yarns.

It is a veritable Valhalla for knitters, with yarns from Danish Isager, Holst and Geilsk, Norwegian Sandnes, Swedish Ullcentrum Öland, Islandic Istex Lopi and more. I’m adding as many links as I can, so that anyone who wants to can spend even more time drooling over lovely yarns and patterns.

This is a close-up of the Isager section:

And this simple yet stylish striped scarf was knit from a combination of their yarns.

There were quite a few knitted sweaters, scarves and shawls to inspire visitors. This is a soft and cosy Sandnes one – isn’t it fun how they styled it with those over-the-top pearl necklaces?

Below right is Christel Seyfarth’s Mongolia Shawl. And left Isager’s sweater Clouds of Sils Maria.

The sweater is a wonderful Scandinavian amalgam, designed by Danish Marianne Isager, with an Icelandic yoke, and knit for the most part in Geilsk Tweed. I’d love to knit it, especially in this tweedy yarn.

There was also a great selection of books. The entire series of those beautiful Norwegian Kofteboken, many Isager books and also books by designers I’d never heard of, like Susie Haumann, Ditte Larsen and Annette Danielsen.

So, did we drive home with a boot filled with enough yarn to cover all my loved ones in knitting from head to toe? It was tempting, but I’ve been prudent and ‘only’ came home with 3 skeins of yarn, matching buttons and two books. The books are by Annette Danielsen:

Wintertage (left) is a thinnish booklet in German, containing several easy-to-make recipes as well as 7 sweater patterns. And Fynsk Forår (right) is in Danish and contains patterns for many beautiful pullovers and cardigans, as well as fabulous photographs of Danish landscapes, buildings and art.

The designs all look very wearable and have interesting design details, like this horizontal cable along the top of vertical ones on the back of a cardigan.

And last but not least, I found a pattern, yarn and the cutest buttons for a jacket for our grandson.

More about that when I get to it.

Perhaps I should create a map with all the yarn shops I’ve blogged about – that might be useful. Until I find out how and can find the time for that, Lilla Ull Huset and all of the other ones I’ve visited can be found by clicking on ‘shopping’ in the list of tags in the right-hand column on your computer screen (below the ‘Search’ window) or via this link. The only ‘problem’ is that you’ll also need to scroll past a quilt shop, book shop and farmers’ market here and there.

Hope to see you again next week! (I’ll try to behave and keep things shorter then.) xxx

Raspberry Ripple

Hello!

The long, very hot and very dry summer finally seems to be coming to an end here. I’m ever so grateful for the rain we’ve had the past couple of days, and am hoping for lots more as everything is parched. The only thing that has done well in our garden this year are our grapes.

My summer knitting projects are also nearing completion – more about those soon, I hope. But today, it’s Raspberry Ripple day!

First of all, here is a shawl I finished knitting quite some time ago and have finally blocked. The shawl pattern is called Morbihan, but I’m calling this version Raspberry Ripple.

The yarn I’ve used for it is John Arbon’s Knit by Numbers 4-ply. It’s a 100% organically farmed Falklands merino, and each colour is available in a gradient of 6 shades. The colour shown here is called Raspberry (what else?), and in total I’ve used eight 25-gram mini skeins – 3 of the darkest shade and 1 each of the other 5 shades.

This is what my Raspberry Ripple Shawl looks like spread out:

I like wearing triangular shawls scrunched up and wrapped around my neck like this:

Morbihan was first published in English only, but now I’ve also translated into Dutch. The pattern can be found here on Ravelry in both languages.

Morbihan was eerst alleen in het Engels beschikbaar, maar ik heb het patroon nu ook in het Nederlands vertaald. Het is hier op Ravelry te vinden.

Raspberries, how I love them. Not just their colour, but their taste, too. If I want some for a dessert, I need to make a trip to the supermarket. We do have wild raspberries around here, but they are rare.

It’ll soon be woolly-shawl-weather again, but at the moment it’s still warm enough to be ice-cream-weather. So here is my simple (no ice cream maker needed) recipe for Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream.

Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream

(makes approx. 1 litre)

Ingredients:

  • 250 g raspberries
  • 130 g caster sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 250 ml milk
  • 250 ml double cream

1) Place the raspberries in a small saucepan with 30 g of the sugar. Cook on medium heat, stirring from time to time and squashing the raspberries with a wooden spoon. Simmer for about 5 mins without the lid on. Push through a sieve with your wooden spoon. Discard the seeds and the last bit of pulp left in the sieve. Leave to cool.

2) Whisk the egg yolks and the remaining sugar together. Pour the milk in a pan and bring to boiling point. Pour the hot milk on the egg-and-sugar mixture, whisking all the time. Return the eggy milk to the pan and heat slowly, stirring until it has thickened slightly (make sure it doesn’t boil!). Leave this to cool as well.

3) When the raspberry sauce and the custard have cooled completely, whip the double cream until it forms soft peaks. Gently fold the cream into the custard. Pour the creamy custard into a container (holding at least 1 litre).

4) Pour in the raspberry sauce and make swirls and ripples using the handle of a wooden spoon. Cover, place in the freezer, and freeze overnight.

Enjoy!

PS: More details of my Raspberry Ripple Shawl can be found here in my Ravelry project notes.

Non-Superwash

Hello!

From the 1970s I remember something new appearing on the yarn market: Superwash Wool! It was considered a blessing. Garments knit from superwash wool were so much easier to care for – they didn’t felt, they didn’t shrink and all in all they were more durable.

For the blanket I knit for our grandson, I deliberately chose a superwash merino wool to make life easier for his parents. And now, recently, I read ‘…I have stopped purchasing superwash wools…’ in this book:

Why? I thought.

And then I came across a yarn explicitly marketed as non-superwash. Again I thought, Why? (Uh-huh, I have deep thoughts from time to time.)

Intrigued, I bought a few hand-dyed non-superwash skeins. They are now an almost finished Thús 2, that I’ll finish as soon as the weather gets cooler:

‘But’, I asked the indie dyer selling this yarn, ‘does that mean that your other yarns are superwash, even though the labels don’t say so?’ ‘Not all of them, but some of them are,’ she said. I was flabbergasted.

Apparently I’d been using superwash yarns all along without being aware of it! I’d always thought that all yarns were non-superwash, unless specifically labelled as superwash. And what’s wrong with superwash yarns anyway?

Always happy with an excuse to do some research, I dived into an online sea of opinions and information about superwash versus non-superwash wool, almost drowning in it. Here is a summary of what I found out:

Why would wool need superwash treatment at all?
Wool fibres have tiny open scales that interlock when friction is applied or when they come into contact with quickly changing water temperatures, leading to felting and shrinking. Superwash treatment can prevent that.

A controversial superwash treatment
The most commonly used method for shrink/felt-proofing wool by far is the chlorine-Hercosett process. After washing, but before spinning, the wool goes into a bath of diluted chlorine to dull the scales. And after that the scales are coated with a synthetic (polymer) resin to make them even smoother and prevent the wool from felting/shrinking. There is a lot of debate about this method:

  • On the one hand: The chlorine-Hercosett method requires large quantities of water and produces an environmentally hazardous effluent. In some parts of the world this may lead to water pollution.
  • On the other hand: Because of the strict waste water legislation in the EU and some other countries the effluent is treated to such an extent that only very clean water leaves the factory.
  • Positive: This treatment prolongs the lifespan of items made from the wool.
  • Question mark: Does the resin coating release micro pollutants when the wool is washed? Some producers say that the resin used is biodegradable and does not, but somehow I do not feel completely assured.

More environmentally friendly alternatives

  • EXP, which stands for EX-Pollution, was developed by Schoeller. This method avoids pollutants altogether, but still uses extra water.
  • Naturetexx Plasma, a treatment not using any water at all, but just air and electricity. The drawback is that it uses lots of electricity and there are questions about the durability of the wool treated in this way.

So, what is an environmentally conscious knitter to do?
It’s complicated – sigh! The labels don’t tell us much. They sometimes tell us that a yarn has been superwash treated, but not always. And they don’t tell us which treatment process was used. What we can do is this:

  • Visit yarn manufacturers’ websites. Some of them give useful information about their production process.
  • Look for yarns with the GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) label. Chlorine cannot be used in any stage of the production of these yarns.
  • Remember that any superwash treatment makes knitted garments last longer, which is also sustainable, and may be necessary for items that need to be washed often, like baby things.
  • Choose non-superwash yarns for items that do not need frequent washing. Some people say that non-superwash yarns have less saturated colours than superwash ones, but I find that hard to believe looking at these yarns from my nearest indie dyer.

Magic Toes and Flowers

Hello!

Later on, I’ll take you to the place that has this milk pail saying ‘Open, Welkom’ at its entrance, but first of all some sock talk.

Unlike most of the socks I knit, the Garia Socks I started last weekend are knit from the toe up. I cast on for the toe using Judy’s Magic Cast-On, a technique someone in my knitting group taught me years ago. Most of the sock knitters among you will be familiar with it, but in case you aren’t here is a video with Judy herself explaining it clearly. It’s very simple, really, once you get the hang of it.

After the toe, the sock is turned inside out and is worked that way to just below the cuff. Why? Well, this way most of the stitches in the knit-and-purl stitch pattern are knit instead of purled, which makes for easier and more enjoyable knitting. Such a clever idea!

This is what the sock looks like while I am knitting it:

And this is what it will look like turned right-side-out later:

The magic is not just in the toes and in knitting the socks inside out. It’s also in the magic loop method I’m using, worked on a long circular needle.

The heel uses German short rows, also knit inside out.

A very enjoyable and cheerful summer knitting project, these socks. I’ve taken some of the pictures with a summery bunch of flowers as a backdrop…

… picked from the pick-your-own flower garden I’ve taken you along to before. It’s just a short bicycle ride from our home.

And it’s always such a joy to visit, especially towards the end of summer, when our own garden is looking rather tired. Everything is still growing and flowering so abundantly that the paths are hardly visible anymore.

I’ve composed a small gallery of flowers in the colours of my sock yarn (click on images to enlarge).

Like a butterfly, I fluttered from flower to flower, collecting pictures instead of nectar (but that’s where my likeness to a butterfly ends 😉).

Thank you for reading and have a lovely weekend! xxx

Quiet Summer Days

Hello!

With many of our friends and neighbours away on holiday, it’s quiet. We have planned a short break later on, but for the time being we’re at home, quietly working, gardening, caring for our grandson, decluttering and DIY-ing. It’s quiet in my inbox, quiet on Ravelry, and even quiet in our chicken coop, as our old cock Floris has died.

He was a magnificent bird and his presence and even his crowing are sorely missed (by us, perhaps not so much by our neighbours.) Floris’ death was followed by that of the last of our old hens. Now we have only four hens of a younger generation left. This is a photo of them I took earlier.

At the moment they are moulting, which means that they look scruffy, are rather subdued and are having a break from laying eggs.

It’s quiet in the forest, too.

We’re in the middle of a heatwave. Adapting our pace to the temperature during our walks gives us the time to notice things that we may otherwise just have walked past. Unassuming brown butterflies on blackberry blooms.

The veins on the wings of a bumble bee.

And this:

Some kind of fungus covered in droplets. Could it be dew? Beads of perspiration? It is very hot, after all, but a perspiring fungus…?

Looking it up, we found out that it is called zwetende kaaszwam in Dutch, which literally means sweating cheese fungus. Seriously! (I haven’t been able to find the English name; in Latin it is postia guttulata.) A saucer-shaped older one had droplets along its rim (click on pictures to enlarge).

Okay, I realize this may be getting a tad nerdy. For everyone who isn’t all that into sweaty fungi, the heather is also in bloom:

I wonder why it is so quiet in the forest, with all of the campsites and holiday parks around here fully booked. Can you see the tent and caravans on the edge of the wood, looking out on the sheep? I think they have some of the loveliest camping spots around.

What are the tourists all doing, if they are not out walking? Maybe they are sitting in front of their tents, caravans or cottages knitting? That wouldn’t be a bad way to spend these quiet, hot days, if you ask me.

It is, in fact, how I am spending part of these quiet summer days, and my Featherweight Cardigan, knit from the top down, is growing nicely.

While I’m writing this, there are 10.2k Featherweight Cardigans on Ravelry. Over 10.000! And that is just the ones posted on Ravelry. There must be thousands more who knit it without posting theirs. I wonder why this simple little cardi is so immensely popular. Knitting on, I hope to find out.

I have also wound my cheerful pink-and-orange sock yarn and decided on a sock pattern. My friend and fellow-translator Angelique suggested 2 patterns from the book 52 Weeks of Socks (scroll down to see all of the 52 sock designs). She has finished translating it into Dutch, but the Dutch version won’t be published until January 2023.

I’ve chosen Garia by Erika Lopez A – socks knit from the toe up with an interesting detail at the cuff. I’m looking forward to starting them.

If you’re in a heatwave, too: kalm an, hè?

PS: Angelique is also a knitting pattern designer – her designs can be found here on Ravelry.

Lightness

Hello!

In need of a little more lightness in my life, I’m abandoning all other knitting projects for the time being and starting a Featherweight Cardigan. I’ll come back to the nearly-or-half-finished warm and woolly things when the weather gets cooler in September.

I could have ordered the yarn online, but it’s always so hard to judge the colours on a computer screen. Besides, visiting a real brick-and-mortar (or in this case wood-and-glass) yarn shop is much more fun. Pink was what I wanted, but which pink?

Seeing them IRL I knew it straightaway – the palest shade top right.

I try not to buy yarn on a whim anymore, planning carefully what I want to make, what yarn will be most suitable, and how much I’ll need. But in spite of my best intentions, this naughty skein of sock yarn hopped into my shopping bag.

So irresistibly cheerful! I’m thinking of a pair of socks a little (or a lot) more intricate than my usual simple ones. Cables, perhaps, or a twisted stitch pattern, or… I don’t know. Suggestions welcome!

On the way back I stopped off at the village with the onion-shaped church steeple (I wrote about the legend behind it here.)

It’s always nice to take a stroll along the lanes. There are so many lovely spots…

… and beautiful houses.

In the past, the village was surrounded by essen – fertile, raised arable fields with a domed shape resulting from spreading many layers of manure and grass sods on them throughout the centuries. Housing estates have been built upon the essen, but in a place where a school was demolished there is now a small cornfield again.

This small, flower-filled cornfield won’t feed the world, but it does feed many birds, bees and butterflies.

Because by this time I couldn’t stop yawning, I did something I rarely do and treated myself to a cup of cappuccino before going home.

Ahhh, that did me a power of good – not just the cappuccino, but the entire little outing. Thank you for coming along. I really appreciate your company!

Knit Leaf Earrings and Pendant

Hello!

The past few days have been lovely, weatherwise. Quoting Goldilocks, neither too hot, nor too cold, but just right. Over the past two weeks we’ve had several hot days, though, with one when our outdoor thermometer reached 39 ˚C (102 ˚F) in the shade. Pffffff, waaaay too hot to have a pile of knitting on my lap (we don’t have an air conditioner). What is a person who can’t NOT knit to do on days like that?

Faced with that conundrum, I thought of knitting something really small. Some more of those Gift Leaves, but even smaller than the ones I knit before, for an earrings-and-pendant set. At first, I thought I’d use embroidery floss – all those lovely colours to choose from!

But that didn’t work as it is completely non-stretchy and terribly splitty (duh, that’s the essence of embroidery floss), which made knitting and especially a sl1-k2tog-psso-manoeuvre sheer torture. Rummaging around for something else, I came across some small remnants from my Tellina cowls. Remember them? (Click on images to enlarge.)

This what I had left after knitting two cowls:

Since then, I’ve used part of the leftover yarn for a Blogiversary Bag and a Soothing Sachet, but there was plenty left for this set (and more small future projects).

If you’d like to make a set, too, here’s what you’ll need and how to go about it.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • Two 1.25 mm/US 0000 knitting needles
  • Small quantity of fine fingering-weight yarn
  • Tapestry needle
  • Pair of ear wires
  • Metal or leather necklace

Optional:

  • Three 4 mm Ø and three 2 mm Ø beads
  • Sewing thread
  • Needle small enough to pass through smallest bead

The yarn I used was Manos del Uruguay ‘Fino’ (70% Merino; 30% Silk; 448 m/490 yds/100 g) in the colour Velvet Pincushion. The pendant took only 0.50 g and the earring leaves even less.

I used ear wires in this shape (the kidney-shaped ones and hoops will work as well, but not the ones with a small closed eye):

HOW TO KNIT THE LEAF EARRINGS AND PENDANT SET:

  1. Download the free Gift Leaves pattern from Ravelry.
  2. Knit 2 leaves size S for the earrings and 1 leaf size M for the pendant, knitting 2.5 cm/1” long stalks.
  3. Weave in the ends at the leaf tips. Use the yarn tail on the stalks to sew them into loops. For the earrings make the loops flat by sewing the beginning of the stalk next to where the stalk ends and the leaf begins. For the pendant fold the stalk in half towards the back of the leaf and fasten it behind the place where the leaf starts.
  4. If you like, sew on beads to resemble little raindrops drip-drip-dripping from the leaves. (I used clear glass beads with a silver lining and white sewing thread.) Fasten the sewing thread to the back of the leaf with a few small stitches and let it come out at the leaf tip. Pass the thread through the larger bead, then through the smaller bead, back through the larger bead and into the leaf tip. Fasten off at the back.

Knitting on these small needles is fiddly and for me required good, bright daylight. But it is really rewarding. For comparison, below you see a Gift Leaf in size M knit with ordinary sock/fingering-weight yarn on 2.5 mm/US 1 needles next to the pendant in size M knit with fine fingering-weight yarn on 1.25 mm/US 0000 needles.

Early one morning, while I was quietly knitting a leaf with the French windows wide open to let in as much cool air as possible, a young great tit came to visit. After fluttering around frantically for a bit, it alighted on the highest perch in our living room: the wooden eagle on top of a book case.

I was afraid it would hurt itself trying to get out, but between the two of us my husband and I were fortunately able to guide it back outside safe and sound.

These leaf earrings and pendant are quick little items to make for yourself or for gifts. One earring leaf took me about 30 minutes to knit, the pendant a little longer, plus a little time to sew on the beads. Here are a few pictures of me wearing them to give you a sense of scale.

Goodness, how I’ve aged since the Tellina pictures were taken just three years ago. Or is it that this picture lacks the rosy glow of the make-up I was wearing in the earlier pictures?

Here you can see how the stalk is fastened into a loop to make the leaf hang flat facing to the front:

And this photo shows how that is different for the pendant:

I chose green for my leaves, but who says that leaves need to be green? Why not choose a lovely autumnal colour, like warm red, fiery orange, bright yellow, or earthy brown? If you like making fiddly little things and are going to knit yourself or someone else a set of these, I wish you happy knitting!

Places to Sit and Knit 4

Hello!

The last instalment in my series ‘Places to Sit and Knit’ was over 6 months ago, so high time for another one. It’s about an hour’s cycling from our home to get to the place I have in mind, along narrow roads and bicycle tracks. We’re cycling through Weerribben-Wieden National Park, the largest lowland bog in Northwest Europe.

It’s lovely, cycling here, but it’s also a warm day and I’m glad we’ve reached our destination. So, where exactly are we and why here? Well, look:

Today’s place to sit and knit is a very special bench in the village of Wanneperveen. The people living here have decorated it with mosaic, showing local highlights. The back shows a ewe with a lamb, a farmhouse, a bell tower and a monument with a stepped gable.

And this is what the front looks like:

We’re in an ordinary street, and the view from the bench isn’t very special either:

Today it’s all about the bench itself, or rather the Social Sofa, because that is what it is. The aim of the Social Sofa project is promoting social cohesion by working on a creative project together, as neighbours, and ending up with a beautiful place to meet and have a chat.

Here are some of the details that these people have so lovingly created together. Several black-and-white Friesian-Holsteins:

A mallard:

And a water lily flower, with leaves in many shades of blue and green, and the date:

I think it’s a lovely place to sit and knit and have a chat.

So, what is on your needles? Do you have anything on your needles at all? If not, why not? Do you feel uninspired or is it too hot for you to knit at this time of the year? What do you do if you’re not knitting? Crochet? Other crafts? Draw or write? Or do you give yourself a break from crafting and creativity? I’m really interested, so do leave a comment if you feel like it. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, just reading my writings quietly is fine, too.

And what have I got on  my needles? Nothing very interesting, really. To be honest, big life events, even good ones, always unbalance me. No matter how wonderful and positive the birth of our grandson was, it had that effect on me, too. For a while I felt totally uninspired. But my hands need something to do, so first of all I finished every WIP (Work In Progress) in the house. When there was absolutely nothing on my needles anymore, I started with some simple and familiar things. First of all the most basic of socks.

Yarns (from left to right): Zitron ‘Trekking XXL’ shade 104, Lana Grossa ‘Landlust Die Sockenwolle’ shades 503, 406 and 501, and Regia ‘City Streets Color 4-ply’ shade 02898.

The Landlust ones have strange memories attached to them. I bought the yarn during a lockdown last year, when non-essential shops were only open by appointment and no more than 2 customers were allowed in simultaneously. It seems like a long time ago. Will it remain a thing of the past?

The next simple thing I cast on for was a stocking stitch Library Vest (with pockets – I love pockets) by a familiar designer. I had some dark blue tweed yarn left over from a cardigan, and was able to get three more skeins (in the same dye lot, yay!).

It’s a really nice project, but I’m writing this on a hot day, with a thunderstorm threatening. And just looking at this picture makes me feel like: what was I thinking, starting this woolly, tweedy thing at the beginning of summer?

And here is the third simple and familiar thing I started – another Thús 2.

I’ve knit this tiny house lace pattern so often now, that I can knit it in my dreams. I’m very happy with this as a summer project. It’s a summery colour, not too big and warm on my lap, and I can easily take it along.

That’s all of my knitting at the moment. I think it’s time for something a little more interesting now, but what? A more complicated knitting project? A detour into another craft? I don’t know yet, but ideas are starting to bubble again.

What do you think, shall we cycle on?

As of next week I’ll be looking after our sweet little grandson one day a week, when our daughter is going back to work. I’ve already spent two days at his home as a trainee and feel fairly confident that I can do it.

I don’t know what this means for my blog, though. I may be able to keep on publishing a blogpost once a week as before, or less frequently, or less regularly, or shorter posts. One thing I do know is that I will keep blogging – I enjoy it too much not to.

For the next couple of posts I have planned some textiles-filled cycling tours. I hope I can find the time and also that you’ll join me again. Bye for now! xxx

Pyrus Blanket

Hello!

Do you do it too – Google anything and everything? Although I was tremendously looking forward to the birth of our first grandchild, I also felt slightly uncertain about my new role as a grandmother, having grown up without grandparents. So I Googled on ‘How to be a grandmother.’

Terribly silly, I know. Still, I found quite a few helpful tips. But also this one: ‘Whatever you do, DO NOT KNIT!’ That really had me in stitches. I’ve been knitting since I was five years old, and now I should stop?! Well, you can imagine that I disregarded that piece of ‘wisdom’.

For most of the things I knit to welcome our grandson I used existing patterns, but I also wanted to design something myself. And after much pondering, sketching and swatching, I came up with the blanket you’ve already seen at the top. Here is another photo of it folded:

And here it is spread out on the floor:

Our daughter’s becoming a mum inevitably made me think back to the time she was a baby herself. From the time she was just a few months old until the age of seven, another mum in our street with a daughter about the same age looked after her when I was working. She had a wonderful time with that family.

When we moved away to where we live now, I made them a patchwork cushion for a farewell present, embroidered with a tree and the words: ‘A family’s love shelters like a tree.’ Obviously I can’t show you the actual cushion, but here is a (slightly grainy) photo from the pattern magazine (Ariadne, June 1991).

I am well aware that not all families provide loving shelter, and also that some have only very few branches. But still, I love the sentiment, and it was what I was thinking of when I knit our grandson’s blanket. I called it Pyrus Blanket for the big old pear tree in our garden – a truly sheltering presence. (Pyrus is Latin for pear.)

The Pyrus Blanket is covered in the pear tree’s oval, sharp-tipped leaves. The branches of our pear tree spread out like a many-armed candelabra – nothing like the straight lace ladders in the blanket.

Those were inspired by an espaliered pear tree with vertical branches in De Fruithof.

De Fruithof is an orchard about 30 minutes cycling from our home with some 800 different historical fruit trees. It also has a 750 metre long espalier pear tree avenue.

I should, perhaps, have knit the blanket in pure white, to represent the pear tree’s blossoms.

But I’ve taken the artistic license to knit it in creamy, undyed wool, because that was what our grandson’s parents preferred.

The yarn I’ve chosen is Drops ‘Merino Extra Fine’ – a 100% wool DK-weight yarn that won’t break the bank, is machine-washable, super soft and shows up the stitch pattern beautifully. It also has the Oeko-Tex 100 Class 1 classification, a very strict standard that guarantees that the yarn is free of harmful substances and safe for babies and infants.

The Pyrus Blanket measures 75 x 100 cm (approx. 30 x 40”). All patterning is done in the right side rows, with relaxing purl rows on the wrong side. The garter stitch borders have a special edge stitch that I learnt from a girl in the hospital where we were both staying as young teenagers. Among the less pleasant memories, I have very happy ones of us knitting long colourful garter stitch scarves.

(For anyone who doesn’t know this edge stitch yet, I’m explaining it in the pattern.)

I don’t know if I would enjoy being called a tree hugger, but as a family, we do have a thing for trees. Our daughter has also painted a tree on the wall of her little son’s bedroom. When it’s not in use, his Pyrus Blanket often hangs on the back of the chair under that sheltering tree (not always so neatly folded, of course).

Well, that’s the story of my Pyrus Blanket. I have written up the pattern in both English and Dutch, and it can be found

here on Ravelry.

As always, thank you for reading. And should you decide to knit a Pyrus Blanket for a new arrival in your life, or as a gift to someone else: happy knitting!

Gift Leaves

Hello!

Do you remember my plan to knit all kinds of things from small bits of leftover sock yarn? My plans often take a long time to grow into something tangible, but after the Soothing Sachets here is the second project: Gift Leaves.

I’m calling them Gift Leaves for several reasons:

  • Because I’ve given myself the gift of time to play around with something not exactly useful.
  • Because I’ve written up the pattern as a gift to you.
  • Because the leaves themselves can be given away as gifts.

I’ve made them in three sizes: Small, Medium and Large:

With a length of approximately 6.5 cm/2.6” (excluding the stalk) the large leaves are still fairly small, but quite a bit larger than the small ones of only 4 cm/1.6”.

Fastening the beginning of the stalk to the base of the leaf to form a loop, the leaves can be used as gift tags.

Perhaps knit from the same yarn as the gift inside.

They can be fastened onto a zipper.

Or used to decorate jam jars with tealights inside for a quick, simple, inexpensive little gift.

And a medium-sized leaf with a looooong stalk can become a bookmark. Extra special given together with a book, with the leaf colours matching the book cover.

(The book is A Wood of One’s Own by Ruth Pavey, by the way. A gift I received from a friend.)

Solid colours look good. Self-striping yarn works, too, if the stripes are not too wide and the yarn sections used are chosen well. And I think especially some of those ‘busy’ hand-painted yarns are fun for Gift Leaves.

A free download of the pattern with plenty of colourful photos (in English en ook in het Nederlands) can be found

here on Ravelry

Together with a special skein of yarn, a print-out of the pattern might make a nice gift for a knitting friend, too.

Have fun! Xxx