Friday, 30 April 2010

January Shawl - Stormy Seraphim

There is a Ravelry group called 10 in 2010 which means knitting 10 shawls this year, I decided to join and even though I may not knit 10 it is great to join in and see everybody elses efforts, I have discovered some great new patterns this way. I have not posted my first shawl, so here we go.

This is Seraphim by
Miriam Felton, it a great intuitive pattern to knit, I really enjoyed knitting it and have worn it a great deal.

The yarn is Opulence from the Woolen Rabbit in Stormy. I can't say enough good things about Kim from the Woolen Rabbit - great customer service and a genuinely lovely person, her yarn is pretty fabulous too. The muted, subtle colourways are gorgeous and the all the yarns I have used have been great to knit with, Opulence is a silk/merino mix and feels almost cool to the touch but keeps you lovely and toasty warm.

I really like how the plain section at the top of the shawl gradually become more patterned, no harsh break between stockinette and lace sections

I love the feather pattern here, they flow beautifully into each other.

Pattern: Seraphim bu Miriam Felton
Size: Large
Yarn: Opulence from the Woolen Rabbit in Stormy colourway, 2 and a tiny bit skeins
Needles: 3mm

Friday, 23 April 2010

Commuter Crack of Dawn Shawl

I work in London and have a 2 hour commute each way most days, I also travel quite a bit mostly for work. Both these activities require different types of knitting; commutes need simple projects that I can pick up and put down easily, where as long flights mean more complex projects and are brilliant for lace - minimal interruptions and a small light project in my carry-on. Well lets be honest two projects in the carry-on and one in the suitcase just in case, this policy seems to have paid off this week being marooned abroad - I had almost finished a baby cardigan until I snapped a needle but no worries I pulled out a lace stole and started working on that instead.

My commuter projects tend to take a longer time to complete as I reserve them exclusively for that purpose, generally they are too dull for knitting at any other time. I have just completed the daybreak shawl, beautiful shaded oranges and reds, paired with natural stripes, the yarn does all the work so the knitting is very simple.

I gave the shawl to my mum, who is kindly modeling in the photos - nicely done mum!
Half of the bound off edge is handspun as I had run out off the Zauberball yarn, it is a Blue Face Leicester 2 ply that matched the colour of the cream part of the Zauberball.
Pattern: Daybreak shawl by Stephen West, I am naming mine crack of dawn because it makes me giggle.
Size: Large
Yarn: Zauberball - Burnt Almond and Cookies n Cream colourway
Needles: 3mm

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

There are worse places to be stuck

I am currently in Helsinki and stuck here until the airport opens again (I have flight bookings for Thursday and Friday this week just in case). I am very very lucky that I was here for work, my accommodation is being paid for and my travel arranged by the lovely Lisa from CWT travel (I talk to her every day- she is an angel)

The weather here has been pretty kind given that it was -28 the last time I visited. We made the most of our impromptu weekend.

This is the one of the views on my walk on Sunday.

There is also an interesting knitting shop near here, Sypressi which I visited. I also managed to get to Hobbooks to buy a book on Estonian mittens (in Estonian) and the gorgeously photographed book Jamalangasta! I had seen this book on Jane Brockets blog and knew I wanted to buy it.

I am planning on visiting another yarn shop after work today, Menita and perhaps a longer look around Hobbooks - a lovely owner of Sypressi showed me an amazing Estonian knitting book on Haapsalu shawls that I think I spotted in there. I should also add that she gave me a lace shawl pattern with the yarn I bought, it is charted and in Finnish but looks beautiful so I will give it a go- such a lovely lady and so generous.

Saturday we decided to take the ferry to Tallinn and explore the old city - expect to pay 40 euros for a return trip, it takes 2 hours on the slow boat. The amount and quality of all kinds of crafting was stunning. The old city was a little touristy but not overwhelming.

We visited a couple of yarn shops where I bought some spinning fibre and some loppi like unspun yarn in amazing colours.

I did purchase a pair of mittens for 150EE which is around 10 Euros, I was shocked that these were clearly hand knit by somebody with great skill for such a minimal amount.

Then we found this place

Market stalls selling hand knits, the little old ladies who were minding the stalls were wrapped up against the cold but knitting furiously. The pieces were heartbreakingly cheap and I could not buy anything, some things were clearly hand knit again with great skill and others machine made.

The market experience made me quite sad but further into the city was a craft area near St Catherines Passage with many crafts represented, leather work, millinery, patchwork and quilting, stained glass, pottery and many more.

The makers all sold their work and made it in these spaces, it was fascinating to see the skills in use. The glass blowing was done with bright and vivid colours by a short round Russian man in his sixties, alternately smoking a skimpy hand rolled cigarette and drinking water from one of his beautiful creations.

The prices were much more representational of the skill and time needed to produce them, but still low compared to the UK. I felt more comfortable to buy a things here.

Picture of the medieval city walls, Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is possibly named after taani linnus, which means Danish castle. The Castle in question was built by King Waldemar of Denmark in the 13th century. There are other thoughts on the name of the city but this was my favorite.

The old city is unspoiled but overlooked by a more modern one. The buildings are beautiful with interesting colour and texture everywhere.

We finished off our day in the very kitch and touristy Olde Hansa, which to my surprised I really enjoyed. The food was excellent and the beer was delicious (try the cinnamon) - it also comes served in pot mugs. We shared a starter of pate, cured meats, quails eggs and herb cheese with hazelnut bread and then a main of hunters sausages (mix of bear, wild boar and elk meat) with smoked sauerkraut, lingonberry sauce, ginger swede, onion marmalade and horseradish cream - delicious.

We didn't get to see everything Tallin has to offer but I plan to return.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Alberta in Paris

Last week was my parents 40th wedding anniversary, they went to Paris for a weeks holiday to celebrate.

In honour of their ruby wedding I knit my father a new vest, I hate calling them tank tops - it reminds me of something worn in the 60s from brown and orange acrylic yarn. One of his more conservative friends said she thought it was psychedelic colours so maybe I was channeling the sixties in some way.

Below is an image from a patisserie in the centre of Paris, the vest seems to have grown a little so may need some adjustments!

I used the lovely Alberta pattern by Jared Flood, I knit with the handspun that I blogged about here as well as some dark navy Rowan Pure Wool Aran (shade 683 Marine) for the contrast colour and Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in an unknown purple colour for the trim.

The pattern was great, very comprehensive and I learnt how to crochet seeks for this as the aran weight yarn is not the best steeking material without firm anchoring.

I am now really tempted to knit a few more of these as the mixture of handspun and commercial yearn was really fun and the more exciting colours I have spun can be toned down to a more masculine palette with muted additions.

The Eiffel Tower shot! - definitely need to shorten this, I will cut off (!) the rib as it has grown outward too, cut off 4 inches of the bottom of the vest to remove some of the length, re-knit the rib from the bottom up and finally graft it back to the new bottom of the vest - simple (cough!)

Pattern: Alberta by Jared Flood
Size: calculated from gauge to 40" chest
Yarn: Handspun and commercial mix
Needles: 5mm