handknit sweater

Blue sky, green grass, short-sleeved raglan sweater

After making my first raglan sweater, I wanted to play a bit more with colours and tension.

wool sweater

When I first saw holstgarn at my local yarn store, I bought two skeins each of sweet pea green and opal blue yarn, but I hadn’t decided what to do with it before knitting that first raglan. I held it together double and the fours skeins were enough for a cropped, short-sleeve, boxy t-shirt sweater.

wool sweater detail

I love that I’ve already worn it so many times and how light and yet warm it is.

raglan short sleeve

After making this one and seeing how easy it is to layer and wear, I am planning on knitting more.

handknit sweater

The colours, together, once knitted, remind me of the old screensaver with the really blue sky and the really green grass.

Happy May the 1tst!

Pig amigurumi toy from Pica Pau book

Gift knitting has many surprises. I wanted to learn how to make crochet toys and got the wonderful Animal Friends of Pica Pau by Yanina Schenkel.

This book is clearly written and the characters are lovely. I was surprised of how well the piggy finally looked. I was also a bit surprised I was able to follow a crotchet pattern, another first for me.

I had this pink cotton in my stash for the last four years, it was bought with an event-related project in mind, then frogged, then reknit into something else that didn’t work out, then frogged again, only to become something good, finally.

If you want to learn how to crochet toys and never held a crochet in your hand before, this book will explain things step by step.

handknit cardigan

A boxy brioche cardigan

I’ve been in love with babaa sweaters and their whole aesthetic for some time now, and even if I respect the ethos and the branding and offering decent wages to their employees, based on their price tag, I am not in the target audience. But I can make something that reminds me of what I like about babaa: wooly wool, defined stitches, boxy silhouettes.

I made up this cardigan and for a first time doing it, I am pretty chuffed with how it turned out.

brown cardigan

I knit it in holstgarn supersoft, held double in the colorway embers and used modest plastic buttons from the bazaar.

It’s big, cozy, I can wear it on top of many sweaters and I love it.

squishy brioche

Of course it’s time for it to be packed away now and rediscovered in autumn, when the auburn cozy goodness will feel new again.

handknit cardigan

Why I love knitting with rustic yarn

I have been pretty obsessed with Holstgarn Supersoft since last autumn when I discovered it. I was already obsessed with a Spanish brand called dLana, because the rustic wool reminded me of the wool my grandma used to knit us socks with.

In summer I’d see her card the wool, wash it over fire, spin it and knit it into warm socks and sweaters for all family members. They had sheep, my grandparents and they were soft and friendly.

Processing wool from scratch took a long time, but every chore had its time and place in the village.

My mother tells me stories of my grand-grand-mother drying petals and herbs, and waking up at dawn in summer to make soap. On the day of soap-making diners were simple and everybody had to manage on their own. Then soap was made and dried for the whole year.

In comparison, turning fleece into yarn was a much longer process, from my grandpa shearing it in summer when the sheep enjoyed the breeze, to cleaning it before autumn when it was spinned and knit. All winter, sitting cozy by the fire, my grandma would knit.

A few years ago, when I learned how to knit socks, I made her a pair in undyed wool, the same she used to knit with, and it felt magical to see her joy and see her wearing it. My grandma doesn’t knit anymore but I in the last few years I’ve learned so much about it and I’ve become so enchanted by the slow practice of making fabric hoop by hoop.

So when I use this rustic yarn, and I know it’s a hype thing at the moment, I connect with her and that kind of life, full of work, much harder, but which to me, living in a big city, sounds magical. I love the scratchiness of rough wool, the lack of shine, the definition, and how warm it is.

green handknit sweater

A raglan sweater of many firsts

I had tried making a sweater on circular needles five times before this one. I wanted to love circular knitting on circular needles and I couldn’t. With this sweater I discovered it was the cable or my circular needles: first I had always used circular needles with thick, unbending cables and the size of the cable didn’t fit the circumference of the pieces I had attempted to knit.

detail rib on raglan sweater

With this sweater, a new pair of cable needles and a well explained pattern, a new world, full of possibilities, has opened. Now I want to knit everything in the round and even try to… eeek… steek!

The pattern I used is the Tin Can Knits Flax pattern, which is a free pattern. I have a profound dislike for the garter stitch, so I skipped the garter motif alongside the sleeves. This pattern explains the construction of a raglan, so it’s easy to use it as a base for future sweaters. The wonderful Amy Palko swapped the garter stitch with a lace motiv in the same number of stitches to make a completely new sweater, for example. She wears it in this episode of her podcast, which I recommend to all knitting lovers.

neckline detail

I knit this on 3.5 mm needles, in Holstgarn supersoft yarn (my newest yarn obsession), held double. The colorway is dark apple. When I ordered it online I thought the green was going to be brighter, more like and apple, than like a forest green, if that makes sense? I love the color anyway so no hard feelings there. I used a cone, but I would say I used about half of the 500 grams cone for a size SM, cropped version of the sweater.

I wore it already five times or more, and it’s the perfect winter into spring kind of garment. (I am even wearing it as I type, how lovely!)

green handknit sweater

Yet another first for this sweater was trying out the very short cabled circulars that are made for sleeves or sock knitting. I used the Addi Sockenwunder, which I got from the Holstgarn website and even if at first I wasn’t sure, I ended up loving them. I like knitting socks with dpns, but sleeves, the turning, with all the bulk and the falling needles… not fun. But the tinky circulars got me over sleeve island.

I have a Tambourine cardigan without sleeves waiting for me since last year in my abandoned WIPs, maybe this is the time to bring it back to life.

handknit yellow socks

An ode to worn socks

Oh, the pleasure of casting off a brand-new sock. The perfectly aligned stitches and, on the horizon, the places these socks will walk, the weight they will carry.

casting on a sock

We share a lot of photos of finished objects and perfectly looking socks, but not so much our worn socks. I’ve lately seen some wonderful mended socks, but that feels like the focus is on the mend itself and the revolutionary action of repairing something instead of buying new.

worn handmade socks

So this post is an ode to worn, unblocked, socks. The socks I take out of the sock drawer, wear on my wooden floor and in my winter boots, the socks that I made to keep me warm.

wool socks handknit

I made these in Holstgarn supersoft yarn, a 100% wool, non-superwash wool yarn, held double. The colourway is old gold. The heels are knit in a remnant of Drops Fabel yarn, which is 75% wool, 25% polyamide, also held double. I used 2.5 needles.

The socks you see here have been worn and washed in the washing machine on a cold program 3 times.

handknit yellow socks

Some more trivia about the materials and objects you see in these photos: I recently made the Japanese linen trousers you see peek of, I bought the needles second hand a few years ago, and they still feel like a treasure, the book is La vorágine, by José Eustasio Rivera, a book about the Amazon jungle, originally published in 1924.

Knitting a red wool beret on straight needles

I have finally conquered the circle! That’s how I felt when I finally understood the maths of the beret. For some reason, for years I wanted to knit a beret and I had downloaded free patterns that never matched my gauge and after a couple of disastrous tried, I – temporarily gave up.

And then I figured out that the closest shape to a circle I could use was a dodecagon. A dodecagon is one of the types of polygon which has 12 sides. So, as long as I forced any number of stitches (or the circle radius) into a 12sided shape, I could make a circular looking beret.

The beret pattern for straight needles

Gauge: 18st on stockinette stitch (st st)
I used holstgarn supersoft, held double on 3.5 mm needles, but check your gauge.

Cast on 97 st in a stretchy CO (I used long-tail cast on) and then do a 1&1 rib (knit 1, purl 1) for 10 rows for the band of your beret.
Increase row: k1, knit front and back (kfb), k1 to the end of the row. You now have 145 st on your needles.
Work for 10cm in st st
Decrease row 1Now, we will try to force this rectangle into a dodecadon. We divide 145/12=12, so every 12 st we need to decrease one. K11, knit 2 together (k2tog), knit 11, k2tog until the end of row.
On the wrong side we purl. We will only decrease on the right side.
Decrease row 2K10, knit 2 together (k2tog), knit 10, k2tog until the end of row
Decrease row 3K9, knit 2 together (k2tog), knit 10, k2tog until the end of row
Decrease row 4K8, knit 2 together (k2tog), knit 10, k2tog until the end of row

Continue the same way until you only have a few stitches on your needles. Cut a long yarn tail, thread through the last stitches and pull tight, closing the stitches. Then seam close the two sides of your beret. That’s it.

You can use this recipe for any gauge. You just need to cast on the amount of stitches that you need to fit the circumference of your head. You do this by knitting a swatch to get your gauge. Furthermore, you take the measurement of your head at the crown, and then divide it by your gauge, and that’s your cast on number.

When you start decreasing, just divide the total number of stitches by 12 and use that resulting number as the number of knit stitches to knit before the k2tog.

My first try was with alpaca, but that made for a very floppy beret. I frogged it to make this knitted beanie.

And then I got a cone of holstgarn supersoft in Crimson and the more rustic yarn had more structure and the beret was just perfect.

Let me know if you knit this and get stuck, I’d be happy to clarify the cryptic notes above.

Sewing a turtleneck by hand

The last time I have sewed more than a few centimetres by hand was maybe when I was a teenager, before I bought my first sewing machine. I remember I made myself a dark green heavy-duty canvas backpack with leather piping. It must have taken me weeks, but I remember it was summer and the process was enjoyable. I wore that backpack for years and years after that.

After buying my sewing machine any larger surface was sewn with the machine.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about slow making and slow stitching and I have been experimenting with some sashiko-style embroidery. I love the portability of hand sewing and the quiet.

So I’ve started sewing a turtleneck by hand.

striped fabric with thread and purple hyacinth

I had this fabric in my stash for a while now. I think I had originally purchased it to make it into a turtleneck dress. Since then, I have come to terms with the fact that I prefer pants.

The pattern I cut is a Neenah turtleneck by Seamwork patterns. I had this pattern since it launched, more than 4 years ago, I think, but I haven’t made another turtleneck in years.

Slowly but steady I am seaming close the pieces of fabric, finishing seams with blanket stitch and enjoying the morning sun and the song of birds while occasionally pricking myself in the finger with the very sharp needle.

handsewing project

Slow stitch, a potholder made of tiny scraps

One of the most inspiring books I read last year was Claire Wellesley-Smith’s Slow Stitch: Mindful and Contemplative Textile Art. It talks about practising slow making, creating a journal of stitches, of repetitive embroidery as meditative practice. It’s beautiful and inspiring, and I recommend it to anyone interested in slow living, sustainability and fibre arts.

So, inspired by this book, I took a look with fresh eyes at my scrap pile, patched them together in as I went, without trying to make it perfect in any way, and then added simple embroidery on top.

I love the idea of making something I can use, where I can use things I already have at home. I am interested in exploring more hand sewing in the near future. It’s soothing and portable and quiet.

I had dyed the textile pieces for this project beforehand in a rather failed experiment. I tried making a solution of acrylic paint (which I already had at home) but the dye set into the wrinkles of the fabric and didn’t transform as I’d have imagined.