Time to learn Danish!

My favorite thing to do on Ravelry is to go through my friend’s activity feed and see what other knitters are up to.  I have friended many remarkable knitters there.  I like to follow their projects, both to get new ideas for myself and to see some beautiful knitting.  I also love to see the ways in which people style and wear their hand-knitted garments.  Last month, I saw this beautiful finished project from Ina (Ravelry link here), and thought to myself “Emma would like this.”

snoning - ina

© inaholst – used with permission

I sent Emma a link and she sent back a one-word answer: “Amazing!”.  That was enough to put it on the Things-to-make-for-Emma list.  On her project page, Ina notes that the pattern – Thornhilds Snoning – and yarn are available in many shops in Denmark.  I looked it up and found that both pattern and yarn could be found at Sommerfuglen in Copenhagen (follow this link).  So, two weeks ago, I hobbled into the shop with my broken ankle, with this pullover in mind.  (Can you tell from this photo that I was not at my best?)


The sales person said to me “The pattern is only available in Danish” and Doug said “No problem!”  I was fairly loopy from the ankle at that point and just nodded.  When I got home, I realised that my Danish pattern reading skills are really not up to the challenge, so I wrote to Ina, who kindly volunteered to help.  I want to be able to learn to read a Danish pattern, so I suggested a round-about way to do it.  I translated the first page as well as I could, sent it to Ina, who checked it over, corrected mistakes, filled in the bits I couldn’t do, and gave some generally good advice.  My plan is to try again with the next page, hopefully doing better with each subsequent try.

The pullover is knitted with two strands of yarn held together: Isager Aran Tweed and Isager Silk Mohair.  I bought the Aran Tweed in the colour Green, and the Silk Mohair in shade 37, a very dark forest green.  Ina’s project, pictured above, is knit with the green tweed in combination with shade 56 of the mohair, which is a mossy green.  My combination results in a darker green than Ina’s; it turns out to be very hard to capture the colour correctly in a photo. This morning I cast on the sleeve, and here is a photo, which gives a pretty good approximation of the actual colour:


The combination of the mohair with the Aran tweed makes for an extremely luxurious fabric.  It feels fantastic and knits up quickly.  My thanks to Ina for her help and encouragement, not to mention the creative inspiration!

Ha ha – just noticed the mistake in the sleeve: I crossed the last cable too soon!  I’m so happy I stopped to take a photo instead of blindly knitting on.  This way I only have to rip two rows.  Note that this is clear evidence of my broken ankle; normally, I would have fixed this, taken another photo and only then posted it.  Instead, I’m going to go put my feet up.


It has been 12 days since I fell and busted up my ankle, and I have been in full recovery mode.  My plan has been to walk as little as possible and to keep my foot raised as much as possible.  This plan has been made easier by Doug cancelling two separate trips to Italy (he was supposed to be in Milan last week and Lake Como this week) in order to cater to my every whim help me out.

The weather also cooperated on the weekend by being sunny and glorious – no doubt the last gasp of summer.  We have one of those outdoor lounge chairs which tips way back, so that your feet are well above the level of your heart (recommended for recovering from sprained ankles).  I spent virtually every minute of both Saturday and Sunday sprawled in this chair in the sun, while Doug cooked for me and brought me bags of ice and ibuprofen and cups of tea.

While this is a lovely pose for recuperating (not to mention being lazy) it is not the best for knitting.  And, if I am to be truly honest, despite being waited on hand and foot, having a badly sprained ankle made me terribly grumpy which also didn’t lend itself to knitting.  I have mostly been reading, or dozing.

I have made some progress on my Sparkling cardigan since my last report. I finished knitting both sleeves, and have seamed one and set it into the shoulder:


I think that it looks rather nice.  I still have to seam the other sleeve, pick up stitches all around the fronts and neck, knit the ribbing, put in the buttonholes, end off dozens of ends, and choose and sew on buttons.  But for the moment, grumpiness trumps industry.

Next week Doug is supposed to be in Sienna and the week after in Beirut, so this is the last week for me to be pampered.  I have to fly to Johannesburg in three weeks so I need to be mobile by then.  In the meantime, I plan to spend as much time as possible with my foot up and a book in my hands.

The best laid plans

Doug and I have just returned from a week in Copenhagen.  I was there to teach a workshop, and then took off the rest of the week for a short holiday.

I taught all day Tuesday (which was my birthday), and in the evening Doug treated me and our good friend Erun to a great celebratory dinner at Koefoed, a very cool restaurant.  We had the fish menu with wine flight, and it was lovely.


On the Wednesday, Erun gave us a great walking tour.  We explored the city:


We ate lunch on a barge in the canal (moules frites – yum!):


Then, on the way back to our hotel that afternoon, I managed to fall off of a curb in a very spectacular manner, ending up sprawled in the middle of the road.  Doug had to practically carry me to the sidewalk and the few blocks to our hotel, after which I spent two days stuck in bed, with a very swollen and painful ankle and a grumpy disposition.  Doug and Erun went out exploring, doing lots of walking all over town, and then gathering together delicacies for picnic dinners in the hotel room – complete with champagne and chocolates – so that I wouldn’t miss out completely.

On the last two days, I did manage to do a few things, very carefully.  Doug had bought me some walking sticks, and complete with a compression bandage and lots of paracetamol and liberal use of taxis, I did the important things.  I made it to a yarn shop (Sommerfuglen). Can you tell from this photo that I am not at my best?


On the last day, the sun came out and it was glorious.  Here I am sitting with my foot up and my walking sticks:


We took a harbour boat tour:


Erun treated us to a fantastic all-you-can-eat shellfish buffet:



However, my ankle continued to swell, and I ended up needing a wheelchair to make my way through the airport on the way home:


Today, a week after my fall, I had an x-ray and discovered that, in addition to the bad sprain, I have a small fracture of the ankle bone.  This means a pretty long recovery period.  Good thing I bought lots of yarn in Copenhagen!


I bought a bunch of green yarn from Isager (an aran weight tweed and some mohair):


And I bought a very pretty selection of yarns from Ito:


I have specific projects in mind for both of these, but will tell you about them in a later post.  Thanks to Doug and Erun for taking good care of me and keeping my spirits up!

Yesterday was our 28th wedding anniversary.  Needless to say, we didn’t go dancing!

Blocking for the win!

A few weeks ago, I reported being stalled on my Sparkling cardigan.  I had knit the back and both fronts, but was worried that the armscythes were all wrong: my impression was that they were too deep and too long and the slopes were off.  This would mean that the shoulders were too narrow, and that the sleeve placement would be wrong on the finished garment.  I felt that the best option would probably be to frog down (ie, to rip out the finished knitting) to an inch or so above the start of the armhole decreases on all three pieces.  Given the mohair yarn and stitch pattern, this was not an option I was interested in pursuing.

Thus stalled, I switched to other projects (finishing a lovely cashmere lace shawl), before making decisions on Sparkling.  It was Doug who convinced me to block the pieces first and see if the armhole shaping would improve.  I needed to not only increase the width of the shoulders, but also increase the width generally, as the cardigan was on the tight side.  So, I did a careful wash and block of the pieces:


This morning, I sewed the pieces together.


I decided to use backstitch instead of the more labour intensive mattress stitch.  On this garment, I wanted a firmer seam rather than the invisible seam mattress stitch would provide.  I also wasn’t interested in attempting mattress stitch over this stitch pattern.  I think it made a very nice seam (and one which took almost no time to whip together).  Win-win!


As you can see, the blocking seems to have helped.  The shoulder hits about a half inch short of where it should ideally be, but I think that this difference is negligible.


The general fit is good and it fits exceptionally well across the back.  (You may also notice my new hair cut in these photos!)


The armhole depth is still large, but I want to be able to wear this over a variety of clothing and I also don’t want a tight fit, so I am pretty confident it will work.


I can still shorten the armhole depth pretty quickly by removing the shoulder seams and ripping out a few rows and then re-seaming.  What do you think?  The big issue for me with cardigans is that I get hot very easily and I think having room under the arm is not a bad thing.

The real test will come once I get the sleeves knitted up, but I am much happier now.  I also avoided ripping out mohair!  Tomorrow is a Bank Holiday Monday here in the UK (and it is Doug’s birthday) and the weather is supposed to be fantastic.  I am hoping to get some work done on the sleeves while relaxing in my garden!

Laceweight cashmere shawl

I recently finished the cashmere shawl which began as travel knitting for my holiday to Canada in May.


The pattern is the Tadami Cashmere Scarf by Ito Yarn & Design.  It is made with 5 balls of Ito Karei, an incredibly soft, 100% cashmere yarn, which has some tweedy nubs in it.  I have used two balls of the Turquoise and three of the Light Gray.  The yarn is woolen spun, and blooms beautifully when washed.


The pattern is incredibly simple; with the exception of the first and last three rows, every row, front and back, is exactly the same.  This is why I picked it as a travel knitting project (along with the fact that the yarn weighs practically nothing and the whole project can easily fit in a small handbag).


The rows of eyelets give it a pretty, lacy structure, and highlight the delicate nature of the yarn.  Except for one incident on the Nanaimo ferry when I had to rip out a good 6 inches or so due to accidently shifting the eyelets by one stitch, this was a very uneventful knit.  I knit half of it while on holiday, in beautful places like this (the porch of my friend Jill’s home on Lilloet Lake):


The rest of it was knitted back home in England.  It is pretty mindless knitting which menas it is ideal for knitting while holding a conversation, sitting in a meeting, or even touring around a National Trust property (here I am knitting it at Clivedon):


Despite the fact that it is very, very long, it never got to that point where it felt endless and I wanted to throw it across the room.  In fact, the whole thing took less than three months start to finish, only about half of which time I was actively knitting it.


I am a bit concerned that the turquoise does not really suit me.  However, once it is washed and blocked, the Ito Karei is so lovely it is hard to resist, so I might change my mind about that.  (I was hunting for the scarf today so that I could get some photos taken of it, and discovered Doug wearing it.  I may have to knit him a scarf with this yarn!)


Mine is the first finished Tadami project on Ravelry (and only the second project altogher) and I suspect it is because of the awful photo of the project on the pattern page.  If that photo was the only thing I had to go on, I would have never begun this shawl.  I think the problem is that it is sold as a scarf pattern when it is really a shawl pattern.  The fabric is so light and airy it deserves to be worn in a way which shows it off. Luckily for me, I bought the printed pattern at Loop in London, which has a far better photo of the finished piece, so I was tempted to try it.20190811_135916.jpg

The weather is awful here in the UK this weekend, with floods and power shortages, gale force winds and fallen trees.  This means that it is an excellent time for knitting!  I hope that you find the silver lining in the clouds this weekend.


For a while I was steaming along on my newest project, Sparkling.  I managed to finish the back and knit both fronts:


And then I got stalled.  There are a number of reasons for this.  First, as I reported before, I am having troubles with my shoulders and back and this has meant less knitting.  I have a great physiotherapist and have started pilates as well and I hope to get that problem sorted soon.

The second problem is with the project itself.  I talk a lot in here about how important it is to knit to your measurements and not blindly follow the pattern.  Also, about the importance of knitting a swatch and then (perhaps even more importantly) paying attention to what the swatch is telling you.  I should perhaps practice as I preach: I kept merrily knitting away on this, even though I had a few niggling doubts.

My swatch clearly gave me a gauge of 23 x 48 in the bubble stitch.  The pattern calls for a gauge of 23 x 52-60 (yes, that’s what it says!).  There must be a great deal of variation in how much the bubble stitch compresses the row gauge between knitters.  Anyway, I didn’t think about the row gauge as I made the decreases for the arms and for the V-neck, and that affects the slope.  It also means that the armscythes are quite deep as I was counting rows rather than inches; they are a good 9.5″ deep unblocked.


If the only problem was that the armscythes were too deep, I could just pull out a few rows at the top of each piece (because this is knit bottom-up).  However, I am also worried that there are too many stitches decreased at the arms and at too long a slope.  Just look at the above photo: it doesn’t look right to me.  The shoulder is too narrow and the armhole keeps getting wider and wider.  The annoying thing is that this was bothering me the whole time I was knitting, and yet I never stopped to think things through.  Also, I never went back and checked the pattern or the photos.  I realise now that in my head the sleeve was shaped a bit differently than in the pattern photo (for one thing I thought it had wide ¾ sleeves) and so I was ignoring the voice in my head because I also had a false picture of the sweater to go with it.

So, the question now is: what to do?  Do I painfully rip back to the beginning of the armholes and re-knit the top portions, or do I blaze on ahead and put my faith in blocking?  Or do I just rip back a few rows to adjust the length of the armscythe and not worry about the width of the shoulder?  Also, do I knit the sleeves as written, or do I go with the picture in my head?  I started one sleeve but it feels pretty narrow, so maybe a re-think is in order in any case.  Until I decide I am stalled.

I must say that the situation isn’t as bad as it sounds.  It could still be that it is just my head messing with me.  What I need to do is take out my tape measure and carefully make measurements and spend some time thinking about the shape and construction of the sleeves and armscythes.  I plan to pull out Shirley Paden’s book Knitwear Design Workshop, and look at her algorithms for sleeve and armhole shapings and then make some comparisons.  This takes concentration, however, and I have been more in the knitting-blindly-along and not in the think-about-what-you-are-doing mode of knitting lately.

Regardless of what I decide, I must say that this fabric is gorgeous!  I just love it!  It is so light and fluffy, and it has great texture.  I love both the inside and the outside of the fabric (you can see both in this close-up of the v-neck shaping):


I am having trouble with WordPress today, and with my laptop as well.  I have now written this post at least 5 times, and used three different browsers and two laptops.  I am ready to throw my hands up in the air about now and declare defeat.  Clearly my knitting is not the only thing that has stalled.

I hope that your knitting (and everything else) is not stalled and that you are enjoying a peaceful Sunday!