End of Summer 2021

Hello!

With only a few days to go to the autumn equinox, the end of summer is in sight. It is still around 20˚C (68˚F) during the daytime here, but in the mornings the smell of autumn is in the air and some days have a misty start.

It’s that transition time, with the heather still in bloom…

… but also loads of mushrooms and toadstools already, some with elegant skirts…

… some in bright yellows, oranges and reds.

The garden is past its best, but there are still some late roses and a few flowers on the buddleia. On our garden table the friendly faces of the pansies brought along by a friend remind me of the lovely afternoon spent knitting in the garden with a small delegation of my knitting group.

I know that for many people the end of summer is a melancholy time, with rainy days and dark nights approaching. For me, it is the other way around. I feel much more in my element in the other three seasons, with their cooler weather and more muted light. I actually enjoy rainy days, with the water drip-dripping from the berries in the hedgerows.

And I am looking forward to the long dark evenings, with lots of time for knitting. My great big striped linen stitch wrap has come out of its summer storage. The back of the fabric is almost as nice as the front and looks a bit like seed stitch.

My linen yarn, on the other hand, is now going into storage. I knit a few swatches to see if it would be suitable for a Siw top (Ravelry link) and decided that it isn’t. Knit at the gauge required for that pattern, the fabric became far too open to my liking.

Never mind. I now know how the yarn knits up and what my preferred gauge for it is. I’ll look for a more suitable pattern for it next year, and I’ll look out for a more suitable yarn for Siw as well.

In case you’re interested in the details: the yarn is ‘Antigone’ from French company De Rerum Natura, and is a 100% organic linen. This colorway is called Voie Lactee (Milky Way) and is a deep blueish grey. It feels rather like twine on the ball, but becomes more supple after washing.

I am storing it away with the gauge swatch with a label attached to it to remind me of the needles I used. That’s something for next spring. Now is the time to knit with more woolly yarns.

I’ve started a cardigan for our daughter in a deep Burgundy blend of merino wool, alpaca and cotton.

The Quintessential Cardigan is a very simple cardi in stocking stitch, but with great details, like a few short rows just above the ribbing at the hem so that it hangs better, a choice of sleeve lengths and a neat button band with slipped stitches. And that is where I slipped up.

My brain isn’t always functioning at its best in the evenings, you see. The pattern said that I should slip the stitches WYIB (with yarn in back) on wrong-side rows. And that is what I did. At least I slipped them with the yarn held toward what will be the back of the fabric when it is worn. But… that is the front of the fabric on the rows where you’re slipping the stitches. It’s very simple really. It is only confusing when written out here and to my foggy brain in the evenings.

The button band in my technique looked really nice.

But it rolled inwards and was not the stable band it should have been. There was a niggling voice at the back of my mind telling me this all along, but I ignored it. It was only when I had finished the entire front that it really dawned on me that something wasn’t right. I should have known! I have knit button bands like this before!

Oh well, there was nothing for it but to frog the front. So I made myself a cup of tea, put on some music and took a deep breath.

Unravelling four evenings of knitting took less than six songs on the CD my husband gave me for my birthday.

It is the latest album by Bertolf, a singer-songwriter from the nearby city of Zwolle. If you’re feeling melancholy at the end of summer, the cheerful song Don’t look up, Don’t look down might be just the pick-me-up you need. Listen to it once, and you’ll be humming it all day. You can see Bertolf playing it live on YouTube (notice the absence of an audience and everybody keeping a covid-safe distance.)

Apart from the cardigan with the frogged front and the linen stitch wrap, there is a pair of socks on my needles, I have a crochet project on the go, two shawls designed by myself need blocking and I’m fiddling with some remnants of fingering-weight yarn.

Then there is another cardigan I want to finish, a bag with a gradient of pink mini-skeins clamouring for attention, my big spinning project etc. etc. etc. In my love life, I am 100% monogamous. In my knitting… not so much.

To some, I may look obsessed, but I know that many of you will understand and share my tendency to surround myself with wool. There are even birds who do the same thing. Just look at what we found in one of our nest-boxes – the cosiest little nest lined with wool.

Thank you for visiting my wool-lined nest. Hope you’re all safe and cosy in your own. xxx

Colourful Socks

Hello!

Cycling for the sake of cycling is often good enough for me. But sometimes it is nice to have a destination. One of my favourite cycling destinations is the village of Vledder. It is the home of the museums of Forged Art and Contemporary Glass Art. The museums’ entrance is at the back of the house with the clock.

But that’s not why we are here. Today I’m taking you along to the local bookshop. It is a small bookshop with a great selection of books, as well as postcards, magazines, gift items and artists’ supplies. The sight of their wall of coloured pencils never fails to lift my spirits.

But I’m not an artist and didn’t come to buy pencils or paints. My aim was to spend some pocket money and buy a foreign magazine.

There is a whole host of German magazines with titles like Landliebe, Liebes Land, LandIdee, LandLeben, LandZauber and so on. They all contain luscious photographs of lovely homes and gardens, recipes and articles about all kinds of things to do with the countryside. They are hard to distinguish from each other.

This time I chose Landlust. There was an article in it about a Felt Studio, with colourful photographs that had the same effect on me as the wall of coloured pencils.

There were also several knitting designs in this issue – three sweaters, a dress and a shrug.

I’m not terribly excited by them, but I discovered that the magazine has an extensive archive of knitting patterns and really enjoyed browsing through it. All patterns are free digital downloads in German. (If you don’t want to subscribe to their newsletter, just click the window away when it pops up).

There are also other crafts ideas sprinkled through the knitting patterns in their archives, including some cute cardboard sheep wrapped in wool that would be great to make with children.

The magazine also has its own line of knitting yarns. I have never tried any of them, but I did squirrel…

… away several balls of their sock yarn a while ago. Reading the magazine reminded me of those and I started a pair of socks straightaway, in cream, a rosy pink and watery blues and greens.

The yarn is called Landlust Die Sockenwolle, has 420 m/459 yds to 100 g and is composed of 75% wool/25% polyamide. It looks and feels like most other, similar sock yarns: smooth (not hairy) and hard-wearing enough to be worn in walking boots. (As you know I’m not sponsored, so this is my own honest impression of this yarn).

Some balls have subtle colours and patterns, others come in bold colourful stripes.

I’ll show you what they look like knit up when I come to them.

Well, that brings us to the end of another post. The way back home leads through a village that was awarded Unesco World Heritage status several weeks ago. It is now overrun with visitors. That would be another nice cycling destination and I’ll keep it in mind for some other time.

Bye for now and have a nice weekend!

Places to Sit and Knit 2

Hello, and welcome to another Place to Sit and Knit. It’s there, under the giant white-and-yellow striped parasol behind the artichokes. I hadn’t planned on writing the second instalment in this series so soon, but couldn’t resist.

It was our niece who brought us here. She has been a student at Nijmegen university for a year now – a lonely year filled with zoom lectures. She rents a room in a house with several other students in a village outside the city. We arrive bearing a basket filled with goodies and a pair of old-fashioned crochet pot holders.

We’ve kept in touch by e-mail, Whatsapp, snailmail and phone, but it is wonderful to see her face IRL again and to finally see where she has been studying so diligently on her own all year. I really, really hope our young people will be able to have a slightly more normal life after the summer.

After several mugs of tea/coffee and a guided tour of the village we paid a visit to the local windmill.

It is no longer functioning, but now houses a shop selling everything a home baker will ever need, from dozens of different kinds of flour to seeds and nuts, dried fruit, yeast, baking tins, proofing baskets and much more.

To my husband this is what a yarn shop is to me. This time I was the one waiting patiently outside. (I didn’t mind – I brought my knitting.) This time it was my turn to ask, ‘Did you get everything you wanted? Are you sure you don’t need anything else?’

As we rarely get to this part of the country, we thought we’d better cram as much into our day as possible. So, on to our next stop: Nijmegen Botanical Garden. There are actually two gardens separated by a beech avenue: the botanical garden proper and a flower garden.

On the afternoon of our visit, the bog area of the botanical garden looked like something from a fairy tale.

At least from a distance. I hope they’ve been able to keep the wedding dress and the bridegroom’s shoes from getting too muddy and their tempers from getting too frayed. Whose idea was it to take wedding pictures in a bog anyway?

The Friesian horses drawing their fairy tale carriage were pacing back and forth outside the garden, only stopping for me to take a picture.

It’s beautiful to look at, but I’m so glad I’ve never had to go through the ordeal of a fairy tale wedding like that.

Today’s Place to Sit and Knit is in the flower garden. There are lots of lovely places to sit and knit here. Ordinary benches surrounded by flowers.

And extraordinary seats covered in foliage.

We’re heading for the tables and chairs under the big parasol.

Time for some tea, fruit juice and carrot cake. Did you bring your knitting? What are you making?

I’m ‘working’ on my new shawl design, using a combination of silk/mohair lace yarn and a fingering-weight merino yarn. It doesn’t look like much yet, does it? It’s a work in progress and I’m not ready to show you more at this stage. Sorry! These things always take a long time, at least for me. I plan to have the pattern finished sometime in September. Saying that here out loud feels like giving myself a deadline, and I think that’s a good thing or I’ll stay dithering over the details forever.

At the first of our Places to Sit and Knit, my blogging friend Helga from Sweden told me about a linen top she is knitting, using a pattern called Siw (Ravelry link). It is an oversized top with a lovely lace panel on the shoulders. It might be just the thing for some linen yarn that has been marinating in my stash for a while.

My yarn is thinner than the yarn used in the pattern, but it may work. I’ll swatch and see.

With the 1,071,226 patterns currently available on Ravelry, it can be hard to decide what to knit. There are all kinds of filters available to help us choose, but for me nothing beats tips and inspiration from friends – real-life knitting friends, Ravelry friends and friends met in the blogosphere. Thanks, Helga! How is your Siw coming along?

It’s nice here, isn’t it, just sitting and knitting, sipping a drink, and enjoying the flowers (click on images to enlarge). And the best thing is: admission is free and you can come back anytime you like!

Sock Knitting Basket

Hello!

Several weeks ago, some of you commented on how tidy my knitting baskets looked. Well, they don’t look like that all of the time.

Do you know that feeling, that things seem to pile up of their own accord? This time it’s my sock knitting basket. It doesn’t look too bad in the picture above, but it really is crammed to the brim. This week’s cooler days are perfect for tackling it. So, let’s turn it upside down.

It’s amazing how much stuff a relatively small basket can hold.

First of all there are five pairs of socks with the ends still to weave in. And for every pair of socks there is some leftover yarn.

There is pair of socks in progress in the basket, too. I always have a simple sock on my needles. It takes me anywhere from several days to months to knit a pair, depending on what else I’m knitting and what is going on in my life.

The thing next to it is a wooden sock-knitting-needles-with-a-sock-on-them-protector. Is there a name for these things? Can you even buy them? Mine was a free gift with a magazine four decades ago and is one of my most beloved possessions.

This is what it looks like closed.

Also in my basket are some leftover bits of yarn and labels of socks that I don’t even remember knitting, yarn for the next pair of socks, and a project bag.

There are all kinds of cute hand-sewn project bags around, but I prefer these plain ones. I have several of them and bought them at an outdoor sports store. I prefer them because of the smooth material. It’s easy to slip my sock knitting into them, and they are also easy to slip into a bag or backpack. Besides, they are water-resistant.

The next thing in my sock knitting basket is something that doesn’t really belong there – my crochet lace hankies. They do live in a cute hand-sewn project bag (I’m not entirely consistent), that was made by my late mum.

I know it’s a very old-fashioned thing to do, but I love doing this fine crochet. And I love the delicate hankies themselves too, for polishing my glasses when they get steamed up or wet from cycling in the rain.

There are also several boxes and pouches in my knitting basket.

They are filled with all kinds of knitting tools and notions that I like to keep handy.

There is a problem with one of the pairs of socks in the basket (the ones below left). I’ve made them for a friend. I made another pair from the same yarn for someone else, and have since discovered that this yarn isn’t suitable for socks at all. Those socks were worn to shreds after just a couple of weeks.

It’s like that with some sock yarn. It would be lovely for, say, a shawl, but shouldn’t be sold as sock yarn, in my opinion.

But I only found that out after I had knit these pink-and-purple ones. I thought of ripping them out and using the yarn for something else. But I’ve decided to give them to my friend after all and tell her to give them to her cats to play with when they get too ratty. (I can already hear her cats meowing, ‘Did someone say ratty? We love all things ratty!’)

I also knit her another pair in a really good sock yarn (the ones on the right).

In less than an hour, my sock knitting basket is tidy. (How long will it stay that way?) And I have five pairs of finished socks that only need to be washed and dried before they can be worn or given away.

The leftover yarn has joined the rest of my sock yarn scraps. I used to give them all away, but now I have a few ideas for things to make with them myself. If they materialize, I’ll share them here with you.

Are you a sock knitter too? What do you do with your sock yarn scraps?

Incubation

On weekdays, when I come downstairs my husband is already at the table having breakfast and reading the morning paper. But one morning a few days ago, he wasn’t there. I found him on the veranda with his camera and binoculars. ‘Shhh,’ he said, ‘the blue tits are fledging.’

I grabbed my small camera, too, and together we sat watching the blue tits leave the nest box just outside our living room window (some of the pictures in this post are his). First one stuck its head out. And when it got a little bolder, its feet came out as well, grabbing the edge of the opening.

Then it decided ‘no, I’m not ready yet’ and popped back inside. They took their time fledging. While the young were plucking up courage, the parents kept plucking caterpillars from trees and bushes.

They kept feeding their young all the time.

And then, one by one, the young birds decided that the time was right. With a wriggle and a wrench they flew out.

When we had counted 7, we thought that the nest box was empty. But after a while, another little blue tit came out. The others all immediately flew up into a tree or onto the fence, but this one seemed weaker. It flew down to the rubber mat in front of the French windows.

And while it was sitting there, looking around at the big wide world, a great tit flew onto the threshold. It took one look around and then disappeared into our living room. I wonder what it thought when it came flying out a few minutes later. ‘Goodness, so much space! And what do they want with all that stuff inside their nests? Aren’t humans weird creatures?!’

After a while, the last little blue tit scurried away to find cover.

That evening we cleaned out the nest box. Unlike us, the blue tits didn’t have much stuff inside their nest – just a thick layer of moss and some feathers.

We heard that it’s a difficult year for blue tits. Because of the cold and wet spring there were not enough caterpillars when they needed them. With 8 healthy chicks, ours were lucky. Maybe the peanuts from our feeder also helped a little.

The parents will keep feeding their young until they can fend for themselves.

Now we’re waiting for the great tits. They have nests in two other nest boxes in our garden. And also for the second nest of the blackbirds in the beech hedge.

Meanwhile I am incubating a clutch of knitting ideas. It’s not a straightforward as with the blue tits’ eggs. I don’t know how long the incubation will take and exactly what I need to feed them when they hatch. What kind of TLC do they need if I want them to fledge? I can only go by what my intuition tells me.

One thing my intuition told me was, ‘Buy yarn’. I wondered at the wisdom of this advice at this early stage, but I let myself be led by it anyway and bought some yarn in blue tit blue.

And some more yarn, also in beautiful hues of blue.

Time will tell whether this was a wise thing to do. At least browsing around Wolverhalen was a very enjoyable thing to do. (You may have read about it in a previous post.)  Leafing through some pattern books and magazines…

… immersing myself in colour…

… and swooning over skeins lovingly hand dyed by Catharina.

I don’t know yet what shape my ideas will take. I’ll do what I can to make them fledge successfully and hope to show you more if and when they’re ready to fly out into the big wide world.

Until then, I’ll try to keep feeding you/myself/us all kinds of other tasty morsels. Bye for now and take care!

Hook and Needle Chained Cast-On

Hello again!

It’s good to be back here after a busy and bumpy couple of weeks. What with several ups and downs, keeping up with everyday life, and helping our daughter and her boyfriend husband paint their new home…

…there hasn’t been much progress on the knitting front. All I’ve done is knit row after comforting row on my Striped Linen Stitch Wrap.

So, I thought I’d write about that a bit. I’m knitting it in 8 colours of Rowan Felted Tweed. Different colours from the ones used in the pattern, but I’ve tried to find the same balance between darker and lighter shades. I chose 5 blues/greens, 2 pinks and 1 grey.

Because some of the blues and greens are hard to distinguish in the evenings, I decided to make a colour card, similar to embroidery floss organizer cards. With the colours from A-H with their names on the front…

… and the description of the stripe sequence cut out from the pattern glued to the back. I’m using a sticky note to keep track of where I am in the pattern.

Making the card was a fun little project, and it turned out to be a handy tool. A great idea for multi-colour knitting, if I say so myself. I used a standard blank 10.5 x 5 cm (5¾ x 4¼”) correspondence card, measured out the places for the holes with a ruler and pencil, and punched the holes with an ordinary 2-hole punch held at an angle to make one hole at a time.

This linen stitch wrap starts with a provisional cast-on, which will be unravelled later to knit an I-cord along the entire length. I think the best-know type of provisional cast-on is picking up stitches from a crocheted chain – the method I used for my Thús loop.

The method used for this wrap, just called ‘provisional cast-on’ in the pattern, is a little more sophisticated. In June Hemmons Hiatt’s 2 kg/712 page tome The Principles of Knitting it is called ‘Hook and Needle Chained Cast-On’.

If you’re like me and are interested in all kinds of cast-ons and bind-offs, edge stitches, increases and decreases, etc. etc. this is definitely a book for your Birthday or Christmas wish list.

I’ve taken pictures of the Hook and Needle Chained Cast-On as I went along, hoping it might be helpful and interesting to other knitters. The method uses a knitting needle, a crochet hook and a piece of smooth waste yarn. This is how it’s done step by step.

First of all, make a slip knot in the waste yarn and place it on the crochet hook. (I took my pictures after I already had a few stitches on my needle.)

  1. Hold the knitting needle in your left hand, crochet hook in your right hand, and waste yarn over your left index finger. Knitting needle and hook form an X. The crochet hook is in front and the yarn runs behind the knitting needle.
  1. Wrap the yarn around the crochet hook…
  1. … and pull the yarn through the loop.
  1. With your finger, or with the help of your hook, return the yarn under the needle and to the back. Now it is in the same position as in step 1.

Repeat steps 1-4 until the required number of stitches is on the needle. The stitches end up on the needle like any knitting stitches, with a neat row of chains running along the length of the knitting needle. This is very easy to unravel later on.

For my wrap, I needed to cast on 400+ stitches. I didn’t time myself, but I think it took me about two hours. Phew! But I know it’s worth the time and effort.

The stitch markers (picture below) are there to make counting this large number of stitches easier. I removed them as soon as I started knitting.

This was meant to be a project I would only work on in between projects requiring more attention. But the long rows of linen stitch are so addictive that I’m over halfway already. The white stitches along the bottom are the provisional cast-on.

I’m going to put it aside for a while now, though, because after a rainy and cold spring, it suddenly feels like summer! Thanks to all of the rain, our front garden is a sea of lush greenery, with white, pink and purple aquilegias…

… and here and there a lupin.

It’s far too hot to have a large woolly wrap on my lap now. My mind is already bubbling with ideas for projects for summery temperatures, but I also think I should finish a few things before I start anything new. Last week, I thought I had run out of ideas and things to write about, and now I don’t know what to do first or last. I’m so glad it was only a temporary slump.

I hope your life is moving along without too many bumps in the road. See you again next week (if I don’t get held up or sidetracked again)!

Moving Back In

Hello!

As you can see, my knitting baskets are back where they belong – next to my knitting chair in the living room. This means that all the repair work to the house is finished, the paint is dry, the heating is back on and we’ve moved everything back to its rightful place.

I’m so glad that it’s all behind us now. And I’m particularly glad that I’m surrounded by books again. Moving back in, I came across one that I thought might be interesting to discuss here:

Kari Cornell (ed.), For the Love of Knitting, Stillwater (MN): Voyageur Press, 2004.

For the Love of Knitting is different from most other knitting books in that it doesn’t contain any patterns. It is filled with stories and essays about all kinds of aspects of knitting, and illustrated with many interesting pictures.

The book’s subtitle is: A Celebration of the Knitter’s Art. That’s interesting, because knitting is usually considered a craft. In an essay with the title: ‘The Search for a Proper Place among the Arts’ Teva Durham tries to answer the question ‘Why is knitting considered less of an art than painting, sculpting, or weaving?’ That’s an interesting question, and the essay contains interesting thoughts. A quote (p. 109): ‘For the proponents of the Arts and Crafts Movement it was enough for a work of art to be “a well-made thing” where “design interpenetrates the workmanship,” showing it was “made by a human being for a human being.” […] What could be more applicable to this than knitting?’

What indeed? Still, I wouldn’t call the things I knit art. But does it really matter whether something is considered art or craft? Hmm, it’s mainly a matter of status, I think. And the price people are willing to pay for one or the other will differ a lot. So, yes, perhaps it does matter.

The things I knit are usually of the useful and wearable kind. This book shows many other applications of the art/craft of knitting, including knitted chairs, a knitted boat (yes, really, it even floats), and these two ladies.

This work of knitting art made by Karen Searle is called Prime of Life. According to the caption, the artist ‘wanted to illustrate the beauty of the aging female body.’ If you’re as intrigued by this as I am, there is an article with more pictures of Searle’s work here.

I just have to show you this gem, with the caption: ‘A young Dutch maiden knits contently by the sea in this vintage, hand-colored postcard.’ It could be me! (Just kiddin’.)

One thing in the book that makes me laugh out loud, is ‘Lily Chin’s Top 10 Ways to Hide the Stash’. One of her fun yarn storage tips is ‘Put a slipcover over a bag of yarn, stick it on the couch, call it a pillow.’ And why not? Another one is, ‘Never cook, only order take-out or go to restaurants. You’ve now got the whole oven!’

Haha, nooo, storing yarn in the oven would never work for me. We just LOVE,

LOVE,

LOVE

our oven and use it almost every day.

Something else I came across while moving back in was my collection of straight knitting needles. My needle cases for these are getting rather ratty, splintering or falling completely apart.

I knit almost everything on circulars nowadays. Apart from the double-pointed ones, I hardly use straights anymore. But I’m still attached to them, so what shall I do? Give them away? Invest in new needle cases? And where am I going to find those?

Here are several special pairs/sets – from top to bottom:

  • My thickest knitting needles (15 mm)
  • My thinnest knitting needles (1.5 mm)
  • Some of my Mum’s old, slightly rusty steel knitting needles

After moving back in, I’m trying to rest and relax as much as possible this week. I’ve had my first dose of vaccine. Apart from a sore arm and a slight headache that may have had different causes, I haven’t felt sick from it at all, but I thought it might be a good idea to take it easy anyway.

I’m really surprised at how happy I feel that is now my turn to be vaccinated. Apparently, I’ve felt more oppressed by the whole situation than I realized. It also feels as a relief that we’re able to do something to protect ourselves and others apart from keeping ourselves to ourselves. I feel very privileged and hope that everybody around the world will get the opportunity to get vaccinated soon.

Besides unpacking, I’ve been knitting, pottering in the garden…

… airing my husband’s best suit (can’t remember the last time I saw him wearing a suit)…

… and washing and ironing my new dress for a very special occasion in the near future.

More about that soon, I hope. Bye for now and enjoy your weekend!

Gazelle Mitts

Hello!

Thank you so much for all your kind and supportive words after last week’s post, here and through other channels. While I’m writing this, we’re waiting for the plaster on our walls to dry with as many doors and windows open as possible. I’m using this quiet interlude before the next stage (ceiling repairs) for some focused work, and I’ve finally finished my pattern for a pair of fingerless mitts. Or rather, two pairs.

Meet the Gazelle Mitts!

I’ll explain why I photographed them on a cycling map and with a thermos flask further on. First a little about the design.

Taking the inherited knitting sampler I’ve written about before as a starting point, I began visualizing, drawing, thinking, calculating and swatching. After lots of swatches and prototypes I was ready to knit the final mitts in a single-coloured and a two-coloured version. I already had the yarn, but kept changing my mind about which colours to use for which version.

Red and cream together and blue on its own? Or blue and cream together and red on its own? In the end I asked your advice, and you were unanimous: Blue and cream for the two-colour version and red on its own.

So that is how I knit them.

The red single-colour mitts combine three knit-and-purl stitch patterns from the sampler. For the palm of the hand, I used the sampler’s diagonals.

For the back of the hand, I took the zigzags and mirrored them to make diamonds.

And a two-by-two knit-and-purl rib with purl ridges was perfect for the cuffs and thumbs. Only I changed it into a three-by-two rib to link it up with the diagonals and diamonds.

Although they look very different, the two-colour mitts are basically the same. They have the same diagonals and diamonds, and the same ribbing on cuffs and thumbs. Only this time instead of knit and purl stitches on the palm and back of the hands the patterns are knit entirely (no purling) and picked out in different colours.

Diagonals on the palms…

… and diamonds on the backs of the hands.

With bicycle rides on chilly days in mind, I named the mitts for my trusty Gazelle bicycle, my friend for over 15 years.

It gives me a sense of freedom and keeps me fit. I’m very much attached to it and not yet ready to trade it in for an e-bike like many people do nowadays.

We (well, mainly my husband – thank you!) took most of the pictures for this post along one of my favourite stretches of bicycle track. It meanders through the wood just outside our village.

For the picture below, I’ve pulled up my coat sleeve to show you the nice and snug cuff.

And here is a picture of my bicycle bell. It not only shows you the construction of the mitt’s thumb, but also tells you what my favourite beverage is. If I place my thumb on the teapot spout and release it, it gives off a sharp PING!

On longer bicycle rides, I often bring a thermos flask of tea. (Just for me – my husband prefers coffee.) Coffee-and-tea-to-go places have sprung up during the past year even around here, but they are still few and far between. And anyway I prefer my own.

The Gazelle Mitts can be knit on a set of double-pointed needles or on long circulars using the Magic Loop method. Personally, I prefer double-pointed needles for the cuffs and thumbs…

… and the Magic Loop method for the hands.

The yarn I’ve used is Brooklyn Tweed ‘Peerie’. One 50-gram skein for the single-colour mitts. And two 50-gram skeins in different colours for the two-colour version, with enough yarn left for a second pair with the colours reversed.

The Gazelle mitts can, of course, be knit in different yarns – I think that for instance many sock yarns are suitable. But should you decide to knit them, make sure your yarn is the same weight (fingering), and is smooth with a good stitch definition. And always check your gauge.

For those of you who’d like to make a pair,

The pattern for the Gazelle Mitts can be found here on Ravelry
(available in English and Dutch, also to non-Ravelry members)

There is more information there on needles & notions, finished measurements etcetera. I’ve done my utmost to make the pattern as clear as possible. Apart from detailed instructions, photographs of the mitts, and charts for the diagonals and diamonds, I’ve also included a photo tutorial for the ‘afterthought’ thumb.

Well, that’s all about my Gazelle Mitts for now. If you have any questions, please leave a comment here or contact me through Ravelry (my Ravelry name is MerulaDesigns). As always, thank you for reading!

Upheaval

Hello again!

Last time I was here on my blog, I told you that I have a lot on my plate at the moment. The picture of our hallway above gives an indication of one of the things on it. No, we’re not moving house. Let’s take a look at our living room for further clues.

Redecorating? Nope, not redecorating either. Or sort of, but not voluntarily. Actually, it’s more restoring than redecorating.

Last autumn, a concrete sheet pile wall was hammered into the soil a little ways away from our house with so much force that it felt like a minor earthquake and cracks appeared in our walls.

This is just a small, elegant crack that only needs some filler. In other places the plaster needs to be hacked away and restored entirely. Fortunately the #@*&%#! company that caused the damage is insured, but for us it’s still a lot of upheaval, noise, dust etc.

Just like the house, I’m thoroughly shaken, but trying to be philosophical about it. Compared to the bombed houses in Syria or Iraq we sometimes see on the news, this is absolutely nothing. Besides, we’re lucky that our bedroom was left unscathed. I’m acting as if it’s a room in a boutique hotel. Room service is lacking, but unlike the rest of the house, it is warm. It also has a good bed and exactly the books I love beside it, as well as a perfect knitting chair where I can spend the evenings knitting.

During the daytime, I can also sit outside if I have a few moments to spare. It’s still rather chilly, but the back of the cardigan I’m knitting has grown so fast that it’s like a small, cosy lap blanket.

The pattern I’m using is Modern Wrapper Fine. I’ve made one before and knew that it would be perfect comfort knitting during this period of upheaval.

The garden is also giving me some solace. The pear tree and the Amelanchier are opening their first blossoms, and the wood anemones and wild garlic are lighting up a slightly shady area.

Another project that is growing, albeit more slowly than the cardi, is my linen stitch wrap in Felted Tweed. I love the way linen stitch always blends colours together. (The white row at the bottom is a provisional cast-on I’ll write more about when I can find the time.)

Knit, yarn forward, slip, yarn backward. Knit, yarn forward, slip, yarn backward… A great way to meditate.

One of the books beside my bed in the ‘boutique hotel room’ is brand new – Mine Strikkede Favoritter by Norwegian designer Sidsel Høivik.

From the foreword I gather that, as well as new designs, it contains several re-knits from her other books. I don’t have any of her other books, so that’s fine. If you do, check if you still need this one. The difference with her other books is that they are entirely in Norwegian and this one is bilingual (Norwegian and English).

Sidsel’s signature style is traditional Norwegian with a twist. She uses lots of embellishments on her designs, like embroidery, beads, sequins and ribbons. The book contains patterns for sweaters, cardigans and several accessories. My favourite design is a long cardigan with traditional Setesdal patterns on the upper part of the body and the sleeves, with embroidery on the star motifs, a nice length, pockets and a cosy collar.

All of the yarns used in the book are from Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk, the small Norwegian family-run spinning mill I visited years ago and wrote about in this blog post. I bought my copy from a small yarn shop 20 minutes cycling from here. It is also available from Sidsel Høiviks own website, which offers kits for her lovely designs as well.

Well, that’s all from me for now. The builders will still be here next week and the week after, but I hope that I’ll become used to all the upheaval (and also that the other things on my plate will shrink) soon, so that I’ll be able to go back to blogging as usual. Maybe I’ll even be able to finish and publish my new pattern! Or am I now being too optimistic?

Anyhow, I hope you’re safe and well. Take care! xxx

Knitting Sampler Reconstruction

While for some of you Summer is coming to an end (hello New Zealand and Australia!) we’re moving into the milder weather of Spring. At least in theory. I have been able to pick a small posy of spring flowers from the garden to brighten up the hallway…

… but over the Easter weekend, the weather didn’t look much like Spring at all. Brrr, it was close to freezing, with strong winds and hail storms.

Our chickens loved it! To them, hailstones are like sweets falling from the sky – white instead of multicoloured hundreds-and-thousands.

After their winter break, the chickens are providing us with plenty of eggs again. Usually, their eggs are slightly smaller than the average shop-bought egg, but recently they surprised us with two quail-sized ones.

Surprise mini-egg, normal Frisian chicken egg, shop-bought egg (with home-made decoration)

We’re not as keen on hailstones as our chickens are, but wrapped up warmly we went for walks in a deserted town and a blissfully quiet wood. Also, it was ideal weather for snuggling up indoors, eating chocolate bunnies…

… and knitting. I have finished a reconstruction of a knitting sampler.

As you may know from a previous blog post, I’ve inherited a knitting sampler with 10 different knit-and-purl stitch patterns. I thought knitting a reconstruction would be a good way to get better acquainted with the stitch patterns and the sampler in general.

The original sampler was knit from cotton on small needles. Mine is knit from wool on 4.0 mm (US 6) needles. I omitted the edge stitches, but for the rest I tried to copy the original as closely as possible, casting on the same number of stitches and knitting the same number of rows for each stitch pattern.

The original sampler is 90 cm (35.5”) long and 9-12 cm (3.5-4.75”) wide, and weighs 53 grams.
My reconstruction is 188 cm (74”) long and 20 cm (8”) wide, and weighs 203 grams.

The stitch patterns include seed stitch, several kinds of ribbing and the mini blocks I used for my Monogrammed Guest Towel.

There is some brioche as well, and there are diagonals, zigzags, diamonds and triangles.

And also the initials I, EW and GW. As I wrote before, I think ‘I’ knit the sampler, and ‘EW’ and ‘GW’ were her parents.

Copying the knitted initials made me realize that they were, in fact, constructed of the same blocks used in the mini-block stitch pattern. Small blocks of 3 stitches by 4 rows, alternately showing the right and the wrong side of stocking stitch.

What was hardest for me to figure out, was the row of eyelets at the end of the brioche stitch section. It took me quite a few tries to get them exactly the same.

Although this is a small, fairly simple sampler, it must have taken ‘I’ many hours to knit. Did she enjoy it, or was it torture? Judging by the regularity of the stitches and the way all of the stitch patterns were finished to a balanced number of rows, I have the impression that she rather enjoyed the process. My guess is also that this was not her very first attempt at knitting.

Knitting this reconstruction, I have become convinced that the sampler really was a practice piece, and not made for decorative purposes. Although the knitting is neat, there are a few errors. And what’s more, there are strange, overplied yarn ends sticking out of the brioche section…

… and there are knots in several places around the letter ‘I’.

Did the knitter run out of yarn, so that she had to use up every last centimetre/inch available?

All in all, knitting this reconstruction was an interesting exercise. Although I haven’t found out yet who ‘I’ was, I have the feeling that I’ve got to know her a little better. I wonder if she used this sampler as an example for many items for herself and her family.

In spite of the simplicity of the sampler, I see endless possibilities. In the fingerless mitts I’m working on and hope to show here soon, I’ve combined 3 of the stitch patterns. I have a lot on my plate at the moment and may not have time to write a blog post about them (or anything else) next week. I’m not entirely sure how things will go, but I’ll be back as soon as I can.

Bye for now and take care!