I Dream Of Handmades

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The replacement for my beloved grey hat (bought it in 2009 at Anthropologie, just before I really started knitting) is finally done. Although the hat might look more sleek with a super wash merino yarn, I thought I’d test out the pattern with a more rustic and less elastic yarn — Rowan Felted Tweed DK (plus, I had a healthy stash from a previously frogged project).

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The pattern starts off with the German Cast-On, which I’ve never used before and learned using this video link.  The cast-on is extremely stretchy and snug around the head, yet comfortable.  My hope is that it will stay that way and won’t stretch out of shape over time.

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The remainder of the pattern calls for straight garter stitch throughout, with the headband knit using smaller needles than the crown of the cap, followed by a quick series of decreases before pulling the stitches through the last sixteen stitches.  Given how thick and full (and very uncontrolled) my hair gets the longer it grows, the cap could probably use more slouch.  I think that could be easily resolved, though, by increasing the length of the cap’s crown more than nine inches from the cast-on band.

All in all, I think I might get as much use out of this cap as I did my beloved Anthropologie cap (may it RIP).

I bought a few books at The Hermitage Bookshop in Cherry Creek today, including Swedish Handcraft by Anna-Myja Nylen (1977) and Folk Art In The Soviet Union by Tatyana Razina (1990).  Both books showcase traditional arts and crafts from their respective geographical area, with the latter book dedicating a few pages to handcrafts – embroidery, woodcarving, weaving, metalwork, or pottery –  from each of the regions within the former Soviet Union.IMG_1720.JPG

I couldn’t help but share a few photographs (pretty poor, but you get the idea) from each book.  Below are two pages from Swedish Handcraft.  I know that embroidery is pretty popular within the crafting community right now, but I have to say that the bobbin lace in the second picture is so intricately detailed (the petals almost appear to reach out and grab you) that perhaps it should be the next crafting trend.   IMG_1722.JPG

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The below picture is from Folk Art In The Soviet Union, and I just love the bold red embroidery on that crisp white textile.  It reminds me of those beautiful, white cotton Mexican embroidered tunics that are emblazoned with colorful threads of flowers.  IMG_1730.JPGMy hope is to find inspiration from these books (as well as the others I’ve amassed over the last two years) to create my own patterns.  I’ve made small starts with my fingerless mitts – there’s another pattern underway – but perhaps now it’s time to take a bigger leap.

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For the first time ever, I checked my gauge before I started knitting.  And what was the result?  Success.  This turtleneck sweater fits well – it is neither boxy, nor too tight.    But that of course is thanks to the knitwear designer, Michele Wang, rather then my own capabilities. 

I followed the pattern to a T, except that I didn’t do the tubular cast on or bind off.   I did in fact actually try the tubular cast on technique, however, my attempts looked sloppy, so I used the long-tail cast on method instead.  I should have tried the tubular bind off, however, since that might have made the turtleneck opening a little stretchy.  But I don’t know that for certain.

On one final note, using Rowan Felted Tweed DK served as a great substitute for me, since it as lightweight as the recommended yarn Brooklyn Tweed SHELTER), yet more economical.

Pattern: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/adara

Designer: Michele Wang for BT Winter 13

Yarn: Rowan Felted Tweed DK

Skeins: 4 1/2 of the main color, and 1 3/4 of the contrast color

Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/afledglingknitter/adara

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Even though knitting the Stripe Study Shawl took me a solid month (work always gets in the way), it didn’t take this long because I found it boring.  In fact, it was a very relaxing knit at the end of a long day.  Plus, the yarn was amazing.  I love alpaca with a passion, and Isager’s Alpaca 2 is the softest alpaca-based yarn that I’ve found to date.

As far as the pattern is concerned, it was extremely easy to get the hang of, and it was made only easier by the use of garter stitch throughout.  Love.  Love.  Love.  Now if only I could figure out how to wear it.

Pattern: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/stripe-study-shawl
Designer: Veera Valimaki
Yarn: Isager Strik Alpaca 2
Skeins: 1 1/2 of each color
Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/afledglingknitter/stripe-study-shawl

End-of-year lesson learned – always create a swatch before proceeding headlong with a sweater. As usual, the result isn’t half-bad. My first Icelandic cardigan would fit perfectly on someone who is 5’2″. And on my 5’6″ frame, the unintended three-quarter length sleeves are barely noticeable under a folded long-sleeved dress.

Maren Sweater II

Aside from my own error, the pattern (accompanied by Craftsy’s video of Ragga demonstrating various knitting/crocheting/sewing techniques) was easy to follow and the only mistake I found was in the length of the body for the 32″ sweater in the schematic (says length from underarm to hem should be 17″, but the proportions given in the pattern knit up to 13″).

I took some shortcuts when finishing the cardigan, opting not to sew ribbon along the interior because the ribbon I bought proved a bit too coarse to sew through by hand. The crocheted edge did a great job of holding the steeked threads in place, and to ensure that those threads didn’t attempt an escape, I steamed them flat with an iron.

I want to knit another Icelandic sweater – I love the overly-designed yolk, and lopi yarn is now one of my favorites (it’s sturdy stuff but it has a beautiful sheen). I think, however, that next time I’ll remember to knit a swatch (or at least size up).

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Pattern: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/top-down-icelandic-sweater
Designer: Ragga Eiriksdottir
Yarn: Istex Lett-Lopi
Skeins: 5 1/2
Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/afledglingknitter/top-down-icelandic-sweater

We woke up pretty early this morning, and because it was still dark we decided to turn on our little Christmas tree.

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It’a white Christmas here in Colorado, with a high in the 20s today, so I’m glad we don’t have to venture outside.

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After tea and babka, we started opening presents and I am so grateful for the really thoughtful, beautiful gifts I received this year. Among the most cherished are the handmades – the beautiful turquoise earrings from Gusterman’s Silversmiths that my husband bought for me, and the mother of pearl inlaid jewelry box and Moroccan tea glasses from my in-laws.

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So I can indulge my obsession with knitting, the family also gave me a Jimmy Beans Wool gift card and Deborah Newton’s Finishing School. I’m particularly excited about the chapter on steeking since I’m almost ready to begin that process with my lopi sweater.

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A friend recently purchased a Sashiko kit from Fancy Tiger that she turned into a pillow.  I loved that she could make a beautiful accessory for her home using colored thread, a piece of cotton, and a simple straight stitch.  I had to try it myself, and found two kits at TaDaa! Studio: (1) a navy runner that came with white embroidery thread, and (2) a matching sampler coaster set.

The table runner would be a bit too ambitious for my first try, so I thought I would begin with the coasters.  The pack comes with five separate patterns, all on the same strip of cloth.

Each packet also includes two Sashiko needles (which appear to be just a little longer than the average needle) and a thimble (it certainly doesn’t look like any thimble I’ve ever seen, but it’s effective for pushing the head of the needle through the thick cotton when making your stitches).

As you can see, I couldn’t wait to get started.

In fact, I was so excited that I finished the stitching on the first coaster in the sample.

Now all I have to do is hem it so it can replace the woven coaster I made with my Easy Weaver.

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Comments on: The Purl Bee’s Best of 2010!

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