Gables

Hello!

Today, I thought I’d treat you to some knitted gables as well as some real ones. From three skeins of fingering-weight merino non-superwash yarn I’ve knit another Thús 2. Casting on 119 stitches, I made it wider than in the pattern. Then I knit, knit, knit, and knit, row after row of houses, making it longer than the original too, ending up with a 51cm/20” by 2.14m/84¼” wrap. Here you can see how big it is:

I like wearing it like this, with the ends criss-crossed:

Or wrapped around my neck once and knotted:

The gables in my wrap are very simple, rather like the gable of our own home only with an extra pair of windows.

Far simpler than the many beautiful and interesting gables we saw during a visit to the Frisian city of Bolsward in August. There were stepped gables, like this one with its decorative anchor plates and a man’s and a woman’s head above the first-floor windows:

The stepped gable from 1741 below, with a pair of scissors in the centre, must have belonged to a tailor once.

There were simple bell gables:

And ornate ones, with swags and frills everywhere:

As well as interesting and fancy gables that seem more modern to me (but I am not knowledgeable enough to tell you from what period or style this one is) :

It was fun walking along the canals wearing how-many-different-gables-can-I-find glasses.

Well, back to my own simple, hand knit gables. If you’d like to copy them, my Ravelry notes can be found here.

There are other knits on my needles now – a simple navy blue cardigan for everyday wear, a jacket for our grandson, swatches for a new design of my own and a pair of mittens for a gift. More about those when I’m a little further along. I hope you have enough to occupy your hands, too. Because, what can be nicer than spending the darkening evenings knitting?

Two Klømpelømpe Hats

Hello!

Our grandson is 6 months old now. He cries from time to time to indicate that he needs something, of course, but on the whole he is a cheerful little chap. He is growing fast and it will not be long before he has outgrown his pram.

He lives in a quiet neighbourhood with lots of green space. The bicycle tracks meandering through it are perfect for pram walks.

Often he falls asleep as soon as we set off, but when he lies awake, I can see him looking at the sky, and listening to the singing of birds and the rustling of leaves.

I wonder if he is also aware of that special scent of autumn in the air.

How fortunate we are to be able to enjoy our strolls in this peaceful part of the world.

He has suddenly outgrown all of the hats I knit for him, too. So I quickly knit up two new ones, both from patterns in the first Klømpelømpe book.

The first baby cardigan I knit from this book was not a success – the instructions were unclear, the stitch pattern didn’t match up around the raglan armholes, and it turned out far too small. So, I ripped it out and put the book aside disappointed and frustrated.

A visit to a dear cousin of mine made me pick it up again, though. She is mother to 7 and grandmother to the same number, and the proud owner of a stack of Klømpelømpe books. She has knit many items from them for her grandchildren and is very enthusiastic about them.

Her enthusiasm was infectious, so I got the book out again, dug up the yarn left over from a jacket I knit for our grandson, and made the Henry hat.

I was still a bit puzzled by the instructions, but was able to work things out. Based on my earlier experience I made the size for 1-2 years and it fits perfectly.

I also had lots of yarn left over from the Pyrus Blanket I designed myself.

Some of that became the dots in the Henry hat and I had more than enough left for the Knot hat. The Knot hat has two weird antennae knit on to the top that are transformed into an adorable set of knots.

For anyone who hasn’t heard of the Klømpelømpe books yet, they are a series of knitting books from Norway that have been translated into many languages. According to the website Booksfromnorway ‘Klømpelømpe is a Norwegian dialect word from the Western region where the authors come from, and simply is an expression for describing a sweet, little child – a sweetheart.’

The book I’ve knit the hats from has ‘knitting for babies and children’ as its subtitle, and most of the patterns in it are for this age group. But it also contains a few simple accessories for adults as well.

I’m glad these hats turned out well, because everything in the Klømpelømpe books looks incredibly attractive and I’d like to make more from them.

Useful info:

  • The authors’ website can be found here in Norwegian. And a complete list of all the books in Norwegian here. (There is an English website, too, but it’s very limited.)
  • If you’re looking for translations of the books in your own language – the English translations all have ‘Knitting for Little Sweethearts’ in their titles, while most other translations retain the word Klømpelømpe or Klompelompe somewhere in the title.
  • The yarn I used is Drops Merino Extra Fine in colours 01 and 07.
  • The Pyrus Blanket can be found here on Ravelry.

Dahlia Socks

Hello! And how are you all doing? I’ve been busy, busy, busy. And also knitting quite a bit, trying to finish all of my WIPs before starting something new.

The designer of the socks that have just slid off my needles calls them Garia Socks. She explains that in Basque, her mother tongue, garia means wheat. She chose this name for her design because of the row of wheat ears along the top of the socks.

I’m calling them Dahlia Socks, however, because that is what the motif reminds me of in the shade I’ve used.

Part of the beautiful garden in Germany that we were allowed to call our own for a week in September, was a mixed vegetable and flower plot.

At this time of year, the dahlias were the star of the show there. Single-flowered dahlias, but also many of those spiky pompom-flowered ones, big and small (click on images to enlarge).

The Garia/Dahlia Socks were fairly easy to knit (from the toe up). Only the wheat ears/dahlia flowers were quite a challenge, and from what I’ve read on Ravelry I’m not the only one who struggled. So I thought it might be helpful for others who’d like to knit these socks to show how I knit the ‘spikelet motif’, as it is called in the pattern.

Notes:

  • This explanation can only be understood in combination with the Garia Socks pattern designed by Erika Lopez A. It can be found in the book 52 Weeks of Socks or here on Ravelry.
  • I usually prefer charts, but in this case the written instructions worked better for me.
  • The yarn should always be held at the back of the work, except when purling sts.
  • Instead of my knitting needle, I used a crochet needle the same size (in my case 2.5 mm) to pull up the ‘long stitches’.

First of all: Set aside an hour or so for the spikelet motif and hang a ‘Do Not Disturb!!!’ sign on your door.

Round 1: After a purl st, bring the yarn to the back, insert your crochet needle into the 4th stitch down…

…pull up a loop…

place it on left needle without twisting, then transfer the stitch to right needle. (It doesn’t have to be placed on the left needle first, but doing so does make things easier.)

The next loop, to the left of the column of knit sts, is pulled up in the same way, in the same hole as before. Don’t pull the loops too tight. The left one tends to pull tighter. Aim at making them the same length.

Round 2: The ‘cdd’ can be confusing, because the ‘long’ stitches do not always stay in place. At least on my sock, some of them wandered along the needle and changed places with the purl stitches beside them.

So this is how it goes: Sl. 2 sts purlwise. The first of these 2 sts should be a long st, the second is a purl st. Knit the next st (this is again a long st). Pass the 2 slipped sts over the knit st. Now it looks like this:

The long sts in rounds 2 and 3 are pulled up 1 round above the ones in the previous round:

After round 3 it looks like this:

Do not despair – there are no more long sts to pull up after this, and everything is going to be fine.

Round 4 shouldn’t be a problem – just one small tip:
K2tog = 1 long st + 1 purl st
K2togtbl = 1 purl st + 1 long st

There! You can breathe out now – you did it!

Is this an enjoyable pair of socks to knit? Absolutely, especially with a good quality yarn in a lovely colour. The only thing I wasn’t totally happy with was the heel. It is on the small side. And no matter how hard I tried to prevent them, holes appeared on either side. I closed them by doing some darning on the inside afterwards. The German short rows require some experience, and the ‘spikelet motif’ is a great technique for anyone who likes a challenge.

PS: My blog post about the toes, foot and heel can be read here. The yarn I used was one 100-gram skein of hand-dyed Enkeltje Sock in a unique shade that is never dyed twice.

Featherweight Finished

Hello!

Autumn has well and truly arrived here, and with it the need for warm and woolly sweaters, scarves, socks etcetera. And I’ve just finished a light and airy summer cardi! I don’t know how other people do it. I mean, summer is the time for knitting with cool and summery yarns, but that means that summer knits are always finished after the season you’d want to wear them.

The summer cardi I’m talking about is the famous Featherweight Cardigan, designed by Hannah Fettig. It is knit from the top down.

I am the ten-thousand-two-hundred-and-fifty-first knitter to post her Featherweight on Ravelry. And there probably are thousands more who knit it. That’s mind-boggling. Why is it so popular? I can’t speak for others, but for me it’s the elegant silhouette and the use of fine yarn. And most of all the utter simplicity, which makes knitting it into a wonderfully meditative experience.

The only slightly tricky part of Featherweight is picking up the underarm stitches. To prevent large holes, I used the technique explained clearly by The Chilly Dog in this YouTube video. Here is a close-up of the end result – pretty neat, isn’t it?

After I’d finished knitting it, my Featherweight looked terribly frumpy. I was especially worried about the bottom edges of the front bands. So, I soaked it in a non-rinse detergent, laid it out flat on blocking mats, pinned the front bands into place using multi-pronged KnitBlockers, and left it to dry.

That did the trick as you can see on these before-and-after pictures (click on them to enlarge), although the edges are not quite as neat as I would have liked them:

How could I make them neater next time?

The original is very short, almost like a bolero. I lengthened the body by 11.5 cm/4.5” and made the sleeves a little longer, too. Knit in a fine fingering-weight yarn on 3.5 mm/US 4 needles, the knitted fabric is slightly transparent. Here is my Featherweight all finished:

The yarn I used is Knitting for Olive ‘Pure Silk’ in a shade called Ballerina. It is a 100% Bourette Silk (raw silk) yarn with a meterage/yardage of 250 m/273 yds to a 50 gram skein. A big plus is that it’s a butterfly-friendly yarn – the fibres are collected after the silk moths have left the cocoons.

It isn’t the sleek and slithery kind of silk, but matte with a cottony feel. The thread is composed of three very loosely plied strands and is rather splitty. I love the look and feel of this yarn, but its splitty-ness makes it a little harder to knit with.

My cardi isn’t exactly featherweight, but at 203 g it is pretty lightweight. All in all, I’m very happy with it. Only if I were to knit this again, I’d make the armholes slightly larger and try to do something about the edges of the ribbing. Or I’d use a different stitch pattern instead of the ribbing. Perhaps a pretty lace pattern?

I was also going to sew a summer dress to go with it, from the cherry blossom fabric I photographed the skein of yarn on, but, alas, I didn’t get round to it. A sensible person might sew it now, so that it would be finished in time for next summer, but I don’t know if I’m sensible enough for that.

I do know that I feel a sudden urge to knit lots of warm and woolly sweaters, scarves, socks etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. I’ll keep you posted about those. Bye for now! xxx

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.

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.

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