Sparkly things happening

I cast on for Sparkling last weekend and I have been having great fun all week knitting this cardigan.


I took this photo yesterday and have knitted another 4″/10cm since.  It seems to be flying off the needles.  It makes a lovely, light, airy fabric which has to be felt to be fully appreciated.  I’m finding it hard to stop knitting. Here is a photo of the reverse side of the fabric:


This weekend is full of sparkly, happy things.  My knitting makes me happy!  Giant fields of poppies make me happy!  Ravelry makes me happy!


The only thing making me unhappy is the internet here which has been seriously disrupted all day.  So, instead of writing more, I will leave you with one last happy thing.  My new project matches the giant field of poppies I blogged about yesterday!

How cool is that!


I received a text from my friend Inge yesterday.  It said: “When you drive into town this weekend, take the low road and see the poppies.”  So, this morning, we drove into town (Henley-on-Thames)  and saw this:


This beautiful field is planted as far as the eye can see with opium poppies.  They are absolutely gorgeous, a sea of the most subtle, lovely lavenders and palest pinks.


These fields are planted as part of a research project by a local university in collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry.  For obvious reasons, they don’t advertise, and they plant somewhere different every year.  Normally, these fields are planted with rapeseed and provide a burst of vibrant yellow late in the sumer.   This field of pink was a fantastic surprise.


See the building and umbrellas in the distance of the top photo? That is Orwells, one of the best retaurants in England.  It was impossible to resist having lunch there and soaking up the view.  Here is the view from the garden at Orwells:


Pure heaven.  The only thing as good as the view is the food!


Notice how Doug and I are both colour-coordinated with the flowers?


I hope that your day is as filled with colour and surprise.  Tune in tomorrow for a knitting post.


Travel yarn shopping: Copenhagen edition

I have been travelling to Copenhagen on business every few months.  I tend to fly in, teach, and fly out, so I usually don’t have much time to do tourist-y things.  Funny, though, that my place of business is located less than 200 metres from Uldstedet, a lovely yarn shop next to Nørreport Station.  I can teach all day, and then go yarn shopping, and still have plenty of time to catch my plane.

(If you are travelling to Copenhagen you should also check out Sommerfuglen, a yarn shop which I have blogged about before. Both shops are lovely, with knowledgeable English-speaking sales staff, and both have lots of sample sweaters available to try on.)

In January, when it was dark and grey, I went shopping at Uldstedet and had my eye on some yarn in a bright spring green to make a cheerful sweater.  Just as I was headed to the checkout counter, my eye was caught by stacks of hand-knit sweaters.  I had to try them on (but of course!).  I must have tried on a dozen of them, but I kept coming back to one which was a very far cry from the bright green spring sweater I was contemplating.  It is also not my usual style, I think:


© Sus Gepard

The photo doesn’t do it justice, I think. It is a fairly shapeless sweater; the interest is in the fantastic textured stitch pattern.  When I put it on, however, it was the warmest, lightest, feather of a sweater.  It felt like being wrapped in a cloud.  The sweater is called Bobbly, and is designed by Sus Gepard, who also owns the shop.

I bought the yarn, and swatched for it immediately, but then my head started talking me out of the project.  It is knit in laceweight yarn, with a wool and silk blend (the grey) combined with a silk and mohair yarn (the pink).  I’ve been having troubles with mohair, and troubles with being too hot.   I am constantly pulling sweaters on and off and on and off again.  I started to think “Would I really wear this?”  And, as the answer was not an emphatic “yes!”, I put the yarn away.

In March, I was back in Copenhagen, and I again stopped into Uldstedet (as one does).  This time, the Bobbly sweater was on a mannequin in the shop and drew my eye immediately.  I really liked it.  But still, I wasn’t convinced I would actually wear it.  It is a lot of work for something that will sit in a drawer.

A few weeks ago, however, this sweater popped up on my Ravelry feed:


© Sus Gepard

This is Sparkling, a cardigan version of Bobbly.  I love it!  Could I wear this as a cardigan? Yes, I think so.  Here is another shot:


© Sus Gepard

Lovely, isn’t it?  So, I am hoping to cast this one on this weekend.   (I am currently working on only one project and that won’t do.)

Here is my swatch:


And here is a shot where you can appreciate how light and airy this fabric is:


I was back in Copenhagen just this week.  And once again, I had time to stop by Uldstedet before heading to the airport.  (Copenhagen is such a great travel city.  The airport is 15 minutes from downtown.  More time to shop for yarn!)

This time, as soon as I walked in the door, my eye landed on a large basket of Madelinetosh Prairie yarn.  I always think that I should buy Danish yarn when in Denmark, and Prairie is a yarn I could buy elsewhere.  Then again, I haven’t been able to get to a yarn shop here in England in at least 6 months, maybe longer.  I have had this top on my mind lately:


© Caitlin Hunter

It is Navelli, by Caitlin Hunter.  I was thinking about this while rummaging through the basket of Prairie, and ended up picking out these three lovely shades (Fog, Whiskey Barrel, and Fallen Cloud ):


I only had about 15 minutes before the shop closed, and spent all of it trying to come up with combinations of three yarns that I liked, and then rushed to buy them as the shop was closing.  It was only later, on the plane, that I realised that Navelli is made with fingering weight yarn and that Prairie is laceweight.  I might be able to do it anyway, knitting a larger size to fudge with a tighter gauge, but that might lead me into yardage problems as I only bought one of each skein.

Some time soon I will need to do some serious swatching (and math-fu!) to see if this will work out.  If not, then I will find something else to do with the yarn.  In the back of my head is the delicate Bonny (see photo below) by Tin Can Knits, which would only take one skein, leaving me two skeins to knit something else with: a striped tee? a summer shawl?


© Tin Can Knits

Decisions, decisions.  But for today, on this cold, wet, grey afternoon, I think it’s time for a bit of Sparkling!


WWKiP Day 2019

Yesterday was World Wide Knit in Public Day!  Not only did I not knit in public yesterday, but I did not knit at all.  Shame on me!  So today I made up for it, just a bit, by knitting at Clivedon, a remarkable National Trust property, and former home of Lady Astor.


Clivedon is famous for, among other things, its fabulous parterre, a type of formal garden which you can see in the background here.  I am knitting a cashmere wrap, which I have thrown over one shoulder while knitting, thus allowing me to both wear and knit it at the same time.  Way back in 2011, I posed in this exact spot for my very first Wearability Wednesday post on this blog:

old blue standard 1

And below, another photo from the same 2011 post; taken from the same spot but facing the other direction with the manor in the background:

old blue standard 2

It was a lovely place to walk this weekend with our friends, Geoff and Joanna, who are visiting from Vancouver.  I hope that you enjoyed some time knitting this weekend, in public or otherwise.



I’ve been on holiday for almost two weeks now and am on serious down-time.  I have avoided all online activities, and especially anything to do with work, and have been enjoying spectacular weather and scenery in Vancouver and surrounds.  I still have a few more days to chill out, but thought I’d put up a short post to say hello, and “I’m still here”.

I have, of course, managed to bring my knitting along.  I am working on a beautiful shawl in laceweight cashmere yarn; it’s perfect travel knitting – compact, lightweight, and easy.  The yarn, Karei by Ito, is gorgeous:


The finished shawl will weigh only 125 grams, and it is almost translucent when knitted up:


I have managed to knit in some absolutely gorgeous spots.  Here I am knitting on the porch of Jill’s house on Lilloet Lake.  (Jill is the friend who made the teddy bear featured in this post.)


Why am I looking away from that spectacular view?  Because the views the other way are just as good!

And here I am knitting on Gibson’s Beach, halfway between Powell River and Lund on the Sunshine Coast:


One last photo before I take back up the holiday mantle.  Here are the four of us, at the lake, each wearing a stranded hat:


That’s me in Peerie Flooers, Leah in Bousta Beanie, Doug in Cascade, and Emma in Raven.

Fairisle strikes again

I tried my hand at another fairisle hat a few weeks ago, but didn’t get photos until this weekend.


This is the Janine Bajus Raven Hat, and like my previous Cascade Hat (blogged here), is designed by Janine Bajus.  She apparently used this design as a teaching tool in her workshops in fairisle knitting and it is easy to see why.  It is a very simple pattern to work and to memorise.  It was easier to make than the Cascade Hat, and I think only part of that is due to my increasing ease with this technique.

I knitted it in the colours suggested on the pattern page, using Jamieson’s of Shetland Spindrift, which is a really lovely yarn for working fairisle.  I thought that the hat would be too long as written and wanted to shorten it; I did this by leaving off the first 6 rows of the pattern (starting the fairisle section at Row 7) instead of trying to re-calculate the decreases on the crown.  I think this worked out well and it keeps the crown pattern intact:


I do feel as if the top of the hat is a little bit pointy.  Blocking certainly helped flatten out the crown, but I think that perhaps I didn’t do the best blocking job. I may try to block it again.

This hat has very nice colourwork.  I especially like the way the teal and the tiny bit of copper livens up the purples.  I am happy with how it turned out.  This guy, however, seems to think otherwise:


You can’t please everyone.

Nothing to knit and feeling grumpy

I have nothing to knit.  This makes me very grumpy.  How, you might ask, could I find myself with nothing to knit?  (Doug would certainly ask this if he were at home.)  Do I not have piles of stash yarn, bags and boxes of haberdashery and knitting paraphernalia, bookcases full of knitting pattern books and magazines (not to mention, dare I say it, the internet, which is teeming with patterns)?

The sad truth is that, surrounded as I am by the detritus of knitting, I can find nothing to knit.  I remind myself of a teen-ager who whines “there’s nothing to do”!  Surely, one thinks, they can pick up a book or go for a walk instead of whining?  But here I sit, annoyed and grumpy that I have nothing to knit.

I have, of course, looked at patterns.  I have looked at patterns until my head nearly explodes, but none is saying “Knit me! Knit ME!”.  I have also sorted through my stash to look for creative inspiration.  I have even knitted swatches – 7 of them this week – trying to figure out how to best utilise some old skeins of yarn that turned up in the bottom of a box. To no avail.

Since I am feeling grumpy (have you noticed?), I have decided to roll with it and publish a grumbly post regarding a pet peeve.  To get to the pet peeve, however, you must first wade through the following tale. One of the things that I found in my stash is five skeins of lovely, hand-dyed sportweight yarn from Skein Queen – a wool and silk mix.  I have three skeins of the grey and two of the mix (which is called Fig). Here is a photo:


Unfortunately, I bought these many years ago before I realised how much I disliked variegated yarns.  (Truth: I adore variegated yarns in the skein, just not in the knitted product.  I am not into speckles, or fades, and I hate pooling.)  Regardless, I decided that these skeins might become my next project and so I sought a pattern to use them with.  Only a knitter would believe me when I mention how much time I spent searching.  It is rather embarrassing.

After some time, I found this pattern:


© Rowan Yarns, 2013

It is by Lisa Richardson and is called Hip.  I kind of like it.  However, it is knitted in three different textures of yarn, in many colours, and weaving in all of those ends would be a nightmare.  What if, I speculated, I knitted it with just two colours, alternating stripes, but in which one of the colours would alternate between cream, brilliant purple, pink, yellow, and taupe, and the other would be grey?  That way, the yarn can be carried up the side of the piece and there would be virtually no ends to weave in.  Sounds good, yes?

I should mention at this point that the pattern is in Rowan 53 from 2013.  I looked at my stack of Rowan magazines and found that I had ….50, 51, 52, 54, 55…. but no 53!  I should have called it a day and kept looking for alternate patterns but instead I searched the internet for someone who was selling Rowan 53, and purchased it.  I then had to wait for it to arrive.  I should have guessed then that the knitting gods were against this whole enterprise.

When the book arrived, I promptly knitted up a swatch, alternating my two shades:


And guess what?  I don’t like it!  Not at all!  It doesn’t look anything like the pattern in the photo (probably due to the lack of mohair and crunchy textures in my yarn selection, as well as the lack of bright colours).  And, it demonstrates why I don’t like variegated yarns.  I was expecting a row of purple, and a row of pink, etc.  Instead, I got speckles.  UGH! Not only that, but the grey and the taupe don’t spark together at all.

At this point, I got a new idea: I would knit something using only the grey.   I started by knitting up two swatches in stockinette – one with a US4/3.5mm  and one with a US5/3.75mm.  These are lovely, with the larger one being perfect, and giving me a gauge of 24×36. However, three skeins is sort of a dead zone – too much to waste it on a pair of mitts or a hat, but too little for most garments. The skein is 363yards/332 metres, for a total of 1089yards/996 metres.  (Not counting all of the yards I used up in making multiple swatches.)

My next job was to search everywhere for garments that could be made (in my size!) using only 1000 metres of sportweight yarn.  This, as you may have guessed is not easy. I have run so many pattern searches on Ravelry that I could have knitted up a cute tank in the meantime.  And here is where my pet peeve comes into play!  (Remember the pet peeve, which started this tale?)  Why do so many designers not list the yardage needed per size, but instead tell you how many skeins of their preferred yarn you will need?  (Most patterns will do both, but I have noticed a trend towards the latter.)

For example, one design states that you will need: “2 skeins for sizes XS and S, 3 skeins for size M, 5 skeins for sizes L and XL”.  If I want to substitute yarns, I need to pull out my calculator and start doing some math.  However, that still won’t tell me how many yards I will need to make the size L, only how many yards I would need to knit the size XL.  This gets more egregious the more yards there are on the skein.  If the yarn called for in the pattern has 400 metres on it, and a size L needs 3 skeins and a size XL needs 4 skeins, how much yarn do I really need to knit the L?  It could be anywhere between 800-1200 metres!  That can make a big difference when I have x-much yarn and I want to know if I can knit said garment with it.

I understand that many patterns are designed for particular yarn companies in order to showcase their yarns; regardless this practice makes me want to tear me hair out!

Okay. I feel calmer now.  Rant over.  I did just today find a pattern which I think I could knit up with the grey yarn.  It is the #09 Eyelet Top, by Rosemary Drysdale from Vogue Knitting, Spring Summer 2019:

eyelet top

© Rosemary Drysdale

Unfortunately, the pattern page on Ravelry states only that it needs 735 – 1176 yards (672-1075 metres) and that it comes in sizes S, M, L, XL, and 2X.  This means that I would probably have enough yarn to knit my size.  However, I have to buy the magazine first to know for sure.  I don’t even know if it’s available yet in the UK.  In any case, I can’t cast on now.

Knitting gods: I have listened to you and am about to read a book.  Maybe I’ll go for a walk as well.