Please ignore darkness and mess in the background

My Icelandic Sweater is finally finished! I made it with wool bought in Vik, Iceland, and combined various patterns from the book “Knitting with Icelandic Wool.’ I cast on the Regla pattern, made the bottom and cuffs with the design from Bára and finished off with the yoke from æði.


I just want to say, knitting with Lopi s a dream. Sure, it sheds a bit, but the stuff sticks together really nicely and the weight I had knit in a flash. So fast, in fact, that when I decided to rip out a whole bunch of my knitting to nearly start over (I went back to the bottom ribbing and re-did the pattern with a more even hand) I didn’t even really mind the re-knitting time. I added some shaping to the pattern- waist shaping on the sides and a few rows of a short-row bust increase just below the yoke. In hind sight I probably didn’t need to add those, since the sweater blocked out kind of bulky, but I’m still glad I experimented with it. I don’t understand some people’s resistance to short row shaping. Its really not that tough! And adds shape in specific spots instead of in the sweater overall, which is nice.

The sleeves probably took me the longest, because I knew as soon as I finished them it was time to decide what yoke pattern to use. Eventually I settled on the æði, copied the page and stuck it in to my bag of knitting. Which of course I didn’t check when I went to my Mom’s over Christmas, and ended up stalled with no more white Lopi, and a fresh new skein of it mocking me at hope. Alas. Probably would have blasted through the whole thing over the holiday!

Almost finished….

Got home, dug out the rest of my yarn and knit away. I thought I’d have tons of time what with the holidays, but turns out freelance work picks up when the end of the year is near! Curled up and finished over the weekend with one important step left- the dreaded STEEK! For those unaware, steeking is when you knit something in the round (often patterns that would be frustrating to purl) and then cut it apart to add button bands or sleeves or a neck hole. So yeah. You cut into your knitting- a very definite point-of-no-return. I don’t like those. I’ve had projects that were ‘finished’ that I frogged and re-made…. and this wool was from Iceland! I can’t exactly pop over to my LYS and get some more to fix it. So I fretted. I googled steeking for reassurance. I slightly freaked out because everthing I found mentioned a 5-stitch pattern to contain the steek. I had one purl stitch. I tried a line of sewing to reinforce, as most of the sites I found suggested. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really tell where my purl stitch was on the wrong side because of the floats from my pattern, and ended up sewing a terribly wonky line. Some care with a seam ripper and I was back to square one- freaking out. Honestly I would have even left it as a pull over, but that one line of purl stitches would have driven me crazy. Eventually I found the delightful Ragga’s video over on Craftsy. Icelandic wool! And one purl stitch!

The Dreaded Steek

No mention of what to do about my floats though. So I did the crochet reinforcement she showed. Perhaps I should have used a smaller hook, it was a bit bulky, but I was impatient and couldn’t find a better size. Not content to have the reinforcement, I followed Kate Davies’ instructions for the “Steek Sandwich” as far as I could before cutting. Then freaked out some more. Finally took a pair of shears to my dear knitting. They say once you steek you realize how easy it is. I don’t know that I had quite that reaction. I diligently finished the button bands and did a nice I-cord bind off/button hole. And then… tired it on and felt like I was going to be ill. The whole thing fit so nicely before I cut it and added the extra width the button band! Wanted to cry, babbled a lot to Chris and then dumped it in a bowl of water to block. Those damn button bands took AGES to dry but once they did I tried it on again. The sweater had settled into itself nicely! Still kinda bulky, but not in a bad way. Wearing it is like wearing a nice warm blanket. The buttons are a bit oddly spaced, but oh well. Finally finished!!!


Knitting lopi

Ok, so maybe I’m crazy. Hanging out with Chris’s sister for the day swinging by yarn stores got me itching to throw some new projects on the needles. Of course, we were in the middle of a heat wave. Why not knit with some super warm Lopi? I’ve been debating non-stop about what to make with the yarn I brought back from Iceland. Even though I’ve started the project I still haven’t completely decided on what the final piece will look like. I’m loosely following a pattern from my “Knitting with Icelandic Wool” book. I plan on adding some waist shaping, and I’m terrified of steeking it… but at least I’ve started. I cast on in line with the Regla pattern, but used the bottom pattern from the Bára pattern.

I can’t decide what to do for the yoke, though. My sweater is going to be grey, white and black. The main body is grey, the details in white and black. I like the bottom so far, but I’m not sure that my stitches have equal tension. I’m debating whether to rip the whole thing out and try again or if blocking it will help smooth everything out.

The prospect of steeking is completely freaking me out. Mostly because I’m unsure about the fit, and once I steek, its a done deal. EEEEP! As far as yoke, I’m leaning towards the upper left version. I’d love to add a hood too, but I don’t think I’ll have enough yarn. We’ll see. Onward!!

various yoke options

warmest sweater in the world

I was rummaging through the bottom of Chris’ closet trying to help him find his cowboy boots. The boots were later discovered in the bottom of a bag. But in the closet- Hello wooliness! Its huge, at least on me. Frankly, I think it would be too big on him, too. When I found it, he said “You’re totally going to steal that, aren’t you?” Which of course I took as permission. I’ve been wearing it all weekend, and feeling like quite the ski bunny. Its a lovely bulky knit. Grey base with a white and dark green snowflake pattern across the chest and upper arms. The tag says its from “C.C.H. Imports” 100% virgen wool (yes it is spelled that way) and despite the Nordic theme, it was “handknit with love in Ecuador.” Chris has no idea where he got it. Its definitely warm, but a little itchy and I keep finding little bits of straw to pull out. I love the snowflake, and took it on as another stranded-knit challenge. To the scrap bag!

stolen sweater snowflake

Using up the last of a green/brown variegated yarn I had, combined with the metallic Noro that Mom and I unraveled (from this VNA find, also used in this) seemed like a good plan. I ran out of the green just at the end of the pattern, without enough for the three row border. The Noro, despite its sparkle, blends in a little too well to the green for my liking. The snowflake is pretty hard to see. I think it will be okay in the craziness that is the blanket, though, so I’ll leave it. More scraps used up, more color work practicing. Not totally pleased with the results, but okay enough to move on.

Also, see how red my hair is in the top photo? Finally got around to mixing up some henna again. (Of course, the original plan for the weekend was originally to go see Jen’s new house and get dinner with Tom for his birthday, but snow and ice altered that, unfortunately.) Three packets of Rajasthani Twilight, two lemons and some tap-hot water. 5 hours later, the dye had released, the red was good to go. I put it in the fridge for later, and gooped up my hair after dinner. I’d made a double batch, so half went into the freezer. Its kind of an annoying process, but doesn’t stain the tub, lasts longer than regular dye and actually conditions my hair instead of completely damaging it like regular dye.

Playing with colors

Being out from under the weight of Alexis’ sweater is wonderful. Yeah, yeah, so I’ve still got another sweater on the needles. But its for me, so I can take as much time finishing it as possible. After some cleaning of the living room, I uncovered my “Knitting with Icelandic Wool” book…. attention span, gone. I’m still trying to figure out which pattern to make with the Lopi I got in Vik, but I realized I don’t really have much experience with stranded color work. (Of course, other than Chris’ scarf, which I pretty much made up, so I don’t know if that counts as “pattern following”.) So to swatching! And using up remnants! And making squares for my quilt! YAY!

Pink and Grey Totoro

The funny thing… I still haven’t really looked up the proper way to do stranded work. I keep the floats going along the back, wrapping them every 5 stitches or so for the longer passes. Until just now when I double checked how to spell “intarsia” I thought that was the technique I was using. (It isn’t. Apparently intarsia involves bobbins and no carried yarn…. sounds like a good old mess to me.) Of course, what with my reduced pattern attention span, it wasn’t long before I was hopping around on Ravelry looking for more things to make. A lovely little Totoro?? Why not! This guy is a little lumpy. Some longer patches for him, so longer to float the yarn, and more chances for the tension to get totally whacked. Of course it is cotton, so won’t really stretch out and even itself. Which got me thinking about how the floats have potential to get annoying in a blanket. I saw something recently about double knitting, so…… back to the internet! And a little over a movie later… a double knit snowflake in green and purple, another pattern from my Icelandic book.

Double Knit Snowflake

The colors are oddly more similar than I thought they’d be, and the pattern doesn’t stand out as much as I’d like. Turns out the purple has some green tones in it. Oops. I also made a few mistakes when following the chart, or when choosing which yarn should be front. Originally this was supposed to also be for the blanket, but I think it’ll end up as a trivet. As it’s two layers of knit, the end product turned out quite bulky.

So yeah, I’m sure I’ll get back to my sweater. For now though? The blanket is smaller than I thought, and I have a lot of small bits of yarn to use up………. small satisfying knits for the next week or so? Yes please.

Blocking the Larch

I’ve finally cast of and blocked the Larch sweater Alexis requested last year. Yup, the damn thing took me nearly a full year. While I could blame not taking the train anymore, it’s really just that the whole thing was garter stitch and BORING. Also, I wasn’t super happy with the bottom, and wasn’t terribly confident of it pulling together in the end, but a good pep talk from Mom over Christmas (and a reminder about the awesomeness of blocking) got me moving again. I hope it fits, I hope she likes it, but overall I’m just glad its over. I love the collar on it, but I think the sleeves are a bit too long… though it’s a thin fabric so having them kinda scrunchy isn’t really that bad. I’m not crazy about how the picked up stitches looks, and the bottom corners on the font are kinda odd… but I think the blocking might straighten some of that out. As much as the twisted rib was a pain, I think it creates a great feeling fabric.

cable-y awesomeness

So. Now that its off the needles…. free for other projects! I started a cable sweater for myself around the same time that I started Alexis’ sweater, but realized I’d never get both done at the same time in any sort of reasonable fashion, so banished it to the bottom of the knit bag. I pulled it out as soon as I set the Larch to block… but alas, no pattern. No idea where I put it. Of course. While looking for it, though, I uncovered just how much yarn I have stashed. Its frightening. So now I’m extra motivated to get going on this sweater so I can start another project with some of the beautiful wooly-ness just begging to be cast on. (I ended up finding the pattern again, thanks to Ravelry, and re-writing it to include my mods and make it easier to read…. that definitely helped me figure out where I left off the first go.)

Road trip yarn

Now the question… what to queue? I have some beautiful yarn. The Lopi from Iceland, destined to become a “traditional” Icelandic lopapeysa. Alpaca from the farm on Schooley’s Mountain that Tom gave me last year (planning on making a Betiko, but not sure…) and the beautiful fingering yarn I bought with no plan. Lovely purple with metallic silver woven in from Detroit, and a locally dyed teal from Nangellini, probably at least three-years-stashed.

I think the Betiko might be next on the needles, since I’ve been wanting to try it, and we still have some good cold weather ahead of us. Also, having two sweaters going at the same time doesn’t seem like a productive plan. I’m also considering frogging my Goodale… I never wear it. It hangs kind of awkwardly, and I just end up feeling really wide. Although, to be fair it’s never actually been blocked, which might do wonders…. Anyone have any suggestions?

Chilling by Sunfish Pond

But it was still nice to get outside. Of course it rained. Its become the big joke- is it pouring? Jen and Nicole must have gone backpacking. This year we were planning for an easy trip- up to Sunfish Pond, camp at Backpacker II for the night, tool around the pond, camp at Backpacker II again and head back in the morning. Somehow hiking through the rain to a new campsite is more appealing than hanging out getting soaked or sitting in a tent waiting for it to stop. So we bailed. We also had our first camping catastrophe.  When the rain first started we were just cleaning up dinner. We were rushing to get our food stuff together to throw into the bear box, Jen threw Dee Dee in the tent so we wouldn’t have to smell wet dog all night. I thought that was pretty smart. Until Dee Dee ripped her way out of the tent.

Bad Dee Dee!

Luckily some of the guys camping near us had duck tape (we were the most ill-prepared for this trip that we’ve ever been). The tape didn’t work 100%, but the thunderstorms all night kept the rest of the bugs to a minimum. I’m going to bring the tent to REI this week after work, I’m a member, so I’m pretty sure they will patch it or replace it or something. They have the best customer service. Also going to pick up a patch kit, should’ve incorporated that into my gear list way earlier for sure.

The group of guys near our camp site really had it figured out. Four friends- enough to carry all the fun things. Like a large tarp. So they could hang out outside while it was raining. Yeah, we need to get a bigger group together- you can bring way more stuff up with you that way! Those guys made pancakes for breakfast. We sat their drinking our tea and eating granola and I plotted ways to rope other people along for the trip. Perhaps next year we’ll actually break away from Sunfish Pond. It is lovely, but the hike is fairly familiar now, and I’d like a change of scenery. Hiking in the Shenandoahs next year has been tossed around… who’s coming with us???

Photo of doing something "Icelandic" for a contest to win a trip

Polkadot booties, originally uploaded by ducksRfriends.

They have finally arrived (or rather, I finally sent them!) so now I can post up the little booties I made for Ellen’s baby-to-be! I had so much fun making them. They’re super fast, probably because they’re so tiny. I made a pair for her, realized how easy they were, and made a pair for little Livia (they look so huge on her!)…. another pair is in the works for Gaston (Gaeson & Meagan’s baby) but this pair is white with red tops- toadstools! I need to do the spots today, and hopefully get them over to the baby before he grows out of them! We have a Dogfishhead Squall to give Gaeson anyway, so just another reason to get together.
Chugging away on Alexis’ sweater, too. The train ride helps me get it moving, I get a few rows done every morning. My work on the super-awesome-squishy cable sweater has halted, mostly because its tough to cable with a pattern on a train. Plus, I want to get this other one done first.

So now, off to start the day, after a lovely breakfast of homemade chili, cornbread and sunnyside up eggs…. one of my favorite ways to start the day! I love sunday breakfasts from leftovers, so good…

(UPDATE: here are the toadstool ones, can you tell I learned about the vignette effect in the Flickr Picnik editor? Yay!)

Finished Toadstool Booties

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