Forest, Lake, and City

We had a great holiday in Germany, exploring forest, lake, and city. Very little knitting was accomplished, mostly due to shoulder problems, so this post is a knitting-free zone. We spent a week in Freiburg with our friend, Inge. (We stayed at the home of Inge’s sister and brother-in-law, Eva and Klaus, who were very generous and lovely people, lending us their home and showing us their city.) During that time we went for long walks in the forest, explored the city, ate lots of cake, and enjoyed each other’s company. We then all three went by train to the Bodensee (Lake Konstanz) where we spent three nights in the Bad Hotel in Uberlingen, followed by three nights at the amazing spa hotel Hirschen Horn in Gaienhofen. Our friends, Theo and Jonnie, moved to the area a few years ago and were great guides. The five of us had a smashing time.

Here are some of the many photos of forest, lake, and city (and cake).

The hills above Freiburg:

By the lake, Uberlingen:

Meersburg (just to the left of the yellow building is the terrace of the restaurant where we ate dinner, with a spectacular view of the lake):

Dinner on said terrace in Meersburg; Inge (looking fabulous) with Doug:

Engravings on the buildings in the old town of Konstanz:

There was lots of cake consumed on this trip. The below piece is super special to me, because it was gluten-free (yay!) and absolutely amazing.

Up above the Lake:

At the Bad Hotel, Uberlingen:

This church is next to the hotel in Gaienhofen and we could see it from our balcony. Jonny and I are making shadow pictures on the wall:

The lake at sunset, taken from Hagnau. The mountains across the lake are the Swiss Alps.

Imperia. Statue in Konstanz. She holds in her hands Pope Martin V and Emperor Sigismund. The statue refers to the Council of Konstanz (1414-1418), which took place in Konstanz. It is one of about 40 statues by Perter Lenk that Doug took photos of on this trip, many of which I wouldn’t post here, but all of which are great and very funny to boot.

Steeple from Stein am Rhein (Switzerland):

Close-up of the dragon:

House in Stein am Rhein with a pleasing pattern:

We went to a great museum in St. Margen of the clock-making history of the Black Forest. Amongst all of the old, traditional clocks, was this modern one:

Here is a video which I took at the Basilica de Birnau. It shows not only the amazing Basilica, but also the spectacular view. (It also has Doug, caught unaware, which is pretty funny.)

Another glorious view of the lake, taken at Birnau:

A picture perfect evening sky:

That seems like a good place to stop. It was a lovely trip (even without any knitting)!

Swatches Lie, and other tales of woe

Today I bring you three tales of woe:

  • Swatches lie
  • Shoulders are sort of necessary for knitting
  • When you pick boring projects so as not to tax your brain, it turns out that they are boring

These can be summed up in a sad photo:

Do you think that this may be, perhaps, too big?

I originally bought this yarn (Kalinka 21, a linen/wool blend) to make the lovely Joni. I then decided that my post-covid brain was still too tired to follow the pattern and to focus properly. (And the pattern was 17 pages long!) I tried and tried to find a pattern to make with this yarn that would be totally simple – no counting, no thinking, no fancy stitches, minimal details, and settled on Dune by eri shimizu:

© eri shimizu

There is a bit of shaping at the shoulders (which, true to recent form, had me ripping and re-knitting a few times):

But after that it is just stockinette all the way down. Unless of course, your swatch lies (see first photo above), in which case you will need to do some major ripping before you can get to the stockinette all the way down bit. (For information sake, I ripped out quite a bit, and now have 32 less stitches on the needles. It will still have plenty of ease.) Here is a photo after having ripped out and knit back down again:

Not only am I struggling with swatches that lie, but I am having major troubles with my shoulder. It hurts. I am having physio done, which hurts, and doing lots of therapeutic exercise, which hurts. And yes, it turns out that shoulders are a necessary part of the knitting process. This makes me grumpy. (Perhaps you could divine this from the above photo? Hee hee.)

And to top it all off, while knitting endless rounds of stockinette on tiny needles may not be taxing on the brain, it is still boring. The fact that I purposely sought out boring does not make it any less boring.

But never fear, dear reader! I would not bring you a depressing tale of woe without a silver lining. (Actually, had I written this post last week as intended, it would have ended here with me feeling sorry for myself. You have thus benefited from my lack of attention to timely blogging.) I have found two solutions to my tales of woe. First, I bought some new yarn (Isager Trio 2) in a beautiful red:

And cast on another project, Anker Tee by PetiteKnit.

© PetiteKnit

This one is equally boring to knit, in fact maybe more so, as it is endless rounds of k1p1 ribbing, followed by endless rounds of stockinette. But it is RED, which makes me happy, and I can alternate between one project and the other when either one threatens to put me to sleep.

Second, I am on holiday. Here is a photo of me and my friend Inge, walking in the hills around St. Märgen in the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) in Germany.

We are spending a week in Freiburg with Inge and then we will all head to Überlingen and Konstanz for another week with our friends Theo and Jonathan. Today it is 15 degrees (59F) and absolutely pissing down rain, but next week by the lake it will be beautiful. And being with good friends is a silver lining all by itself, regardless of weather.

Wishing you a good week, with swatches that are truthful, shoulders that don’t hurt, and non-boring projects on your needles!

Lace meets Wall

I just saw this and was absolutely blown away, The artist NeSpoon travels around Europe and paints murals based on local lace-making traditions. The Guardian has a pictorial article today on her work, entitled Lace-inspired murals celebrating European folk traditions – in pictures. It is absolutely stunning. The text states:

 Each design is unique, inspired by the people she meets and the tales she hears. ‘Wherever I am, I meet and interview members of the local lace guild, and scour museums and historical sources for inspiration,’ she says. ‘I often ask people who live nearby if they have any lace at home. I always find something interesting.’

from The Guardian, July 22, 2023, link above

Look at this gorgeous example from Greece:

Patras, Greece. 2021. LeSpoon. In The Guardian, July 22, 2023, Link

I love this one from France; look at the fantastic integration of the lace with the architecture:

Alençon, France, 2018. LeSpoon. In The Guardian, July 22, 2023, link

Fancy some Scottish lace? Here is one from Aberdeen:

Aberdeen Scotland, 2023. LeSpoon. In The Guardian, July 22, 2023. Link

I think that these are drop dead gorgeous. And so respectful to a traditional craft. Go and check out the rest. You won’t be sorry.


Kelly: “Hello?”

Emma: “Wow, you picked up fast.”

Kelly: “I was looking at my phone as you called.”

Emma: “Are you busy doomscrolling?”

Kelly: “Of course not! I’m looking at knitting.”

Emma: “Same thing.”

Everyone’s a comedian these days….besides, we all know that knit-scrolling, unlike the other thing, has positive mental health benefits.

I’m still here. I am working on a big project (a work-related project, not a knitting project) and it is taking up most of my brain space. The rest of my brain space is taking a breather. I’ve started and ripped something a few times (more on that later), but mostly knitting and I are ignoring each other. (At least until I go on holiday.) I hope that you and your knitting are talking to each other and not seeking couples therapy.

Keep on carrying on

A year ago this week, we got covid. On June 12th, Doug tested positive, on June 15th, he was taken by ambulance to the hospital, and on June 16th, I tested positive. The next few months were scary and rocky, and ever since then we have been slowly recovering. In reality, this means that some days I feel really good, and others I am really fatigued. It feels like we might be moving into a better stage though; my good days are getting more frequent and Doug is even better. In the meantime, we keep on carrying on.

Knitting is one of the areas where I am still affected. I tend to do most of my knitting in the evenings, and this year, I am often just too tired in the evenings to do anything, even something as relaxing as knitting. And when I do knit, I can’t put too much thinking effort into it. This means that I struggle to decide on new projects, cast-on something new, and especially, to read patterns. I think that the effort of working full-time at a demanding job takes up nearly all of my head space and energy right now (as it should, since it pays the bills) and I just need to go with the flow the rest of the time.

Since I finished my last project a few weeks ago, I can’t figure out what to cast on next. I’ve been doing a bit of swatching:

And I have once again pulled out the Koko Shawl. This is actually a really easy shawl to knit, so I am not sure why it is taking so long. I am knitting a few rows here and there. It’s starting to get long:

I am thinking of knitting a tee-shirt next, in a linen or cotton mix. Something super easy. I was planning on knitting Joni, below, and bought the yarn and pattern, but the pattern is 17 pages long, and my post-covid brain doesn’t want to read it.

© Natasja Hornby

Today I am looking at this kit to knit the Every Day Attitude Tee by Susanne Sommer:

image by Jonna Hietala © Knit With Attitude

If I could decide on which of the lovely colour combinations to pick, I might very well snap one up. What do you think? Should I go ahead and try to power through the 17 pages of pattern for Joni, even if my brain doesn’t want to? Should I grab one of these kits? Or do you have a suggestion for a really simple, non-taxing, but pretty, summer top for me to cast on?

Hirne 2: The one that pops!

I love my Hirne cardigan so much that I decided to knit another one. This time, I chose to knit with mohair, in a knock-your-socks-off glorious orange-y red! This cardigan pops!

In fact, it pops so much, that it is very difficult to capture in a photograph. Suffice it to say, if you saw it in real life, it would have you smiling. It’s hard to resist a good red!

Hirne is a fantastic pattern by Kate Davies. As with the last time, I knitted it flat (back and forth in one piece, rather than in the round and steeked). This is a fairly straight-forward modification.

I was worried that the textured pattern in the yoke, made with twisted stitches, wouldn’t show up in the mohiar, but it looks fantastic.

For comparison, below is my original Hirne, knitted in Kate Davies Ooskit yarn. It is a really lovely neutral knit, and I have been wearing it almost constantly since I finished it at the beginning of the year. (See my blog post on the first Hirne here.)

I love the way that you can make the same pattern twice and yet by experimenting with yarn and colour, you can make something unique.

I rarely knit the same pattern twice, and almost never with a garment. I am not sure that I have done so since I knit Audrey by Kim Hargreaves for myself and then for Emma over 10 years ago (see my posts here and here). One advantage of knitting the same pattern is that the project flew off the needles: it took me four months to knit the first Hirne and six weeks to knit this one!

For this version, I used 10 balls of Gepard Garn Kid Seta in shade 1008, which I purchased at Ulstedet in Copenhagen (blogged about here). I held the yarn double throughout.

I have always worn bright colours, especially red, and I gravitate more and more to them as I get older. They are really good at mood-boosting. I find that this red looks good with so many things in my wardrobe. I know it will get worn often.

It is amazingly light (it weighs in at under 250 ounces, or less than half a pound). This means it is just the right thing to throw in a suitcase. And for such a lightweight garment, it is surprisingly warm and cozy.

Its been a beautiful Bank Holiday Weekend here in England! I hope you have had some sunshine and maybe a pop of colour where you are.


Since I last posted here, Doug and I have had a lovely and much needed holiday in Sicily. Last year we cancelled all of our holiday plans after getting covid, so we were more than ready for a break. We flew to Catania and spent 3 days there before joining friends in a villa between Catania and Syracusa for a week. The weather was cooler and rainier than expected, but the trip was beautiful and fun and restorative.

For the first few days in Catania, Doug was still on the job, so to speak, simultaneously attending two conferences – one in Iran and one in Washington DC – from our hotel room in the old quarter of the city. In between exploring, I had a nice spot in front of the windows in which to knit:

Looking at my photos, it would seem that mostly we just ate a lot! As soon as we arrived, we found some great street food in the fish market, eating grilled seafood and mountainous piles of grilled artichokes served with lemon and salt, with glasses of the local wine. Yum!

We had a fantastic lunch at the Osteria Antica Marina, directly on the fish market:

We looked increasingly more relaxed at each successive meal:

Our B&B was just next door to the beautiful San Benedetto, a former Benedictine monastery:

Then we were off to the villa, the absolutely gorgeous Commenda di San Calogero. Our dear friends, Craig and Albert, rented the villa for a week and invited 18 friends to join them. This is the third time they have done so, and we have enjoyed it immensely each time, as much for the lively company as for the beautiful surroundings (I blogged about one of the previous trips here). The gardens were lusher than on our previous visits, and were just at their peak. Here are some of my photos of the Commenda:

There were some lovely spots to knit:

The above spot was so peaceful and pretty that I (almost) didn’t mind painstakingly ripping out six very, very long rows of mohair after making an exceedingly stupid mistake. See? I am even smiling while doing so.

We went on a couple of day trips, although fewer than on previous trips as we spent a lot of time just relaxing at the villa. I particularly enjoyed our day in Ragusa where we had a fantastic lunch, and enjoyed a walk through the town.

Of course, I must bow to the knitting blog mojo and report on the two handknits I am wearing above. The shawl is one that I photographed the last time I was in Sicily and blogged here; the blue tee shirt was finished late last summer and blogged here.

We all spent a day at the Planeta vineyard, having a tour, wine tasting, and wonderful al fresco lunch. (We may or may not have purchased a few cases of wine!)

This is the first time we have travelled like this without renting a car. This means that, instead of navigating (me) or driving (Doug), we got to be passengers and commune with fellow travellers:

On the last day, we drove up to Taormina. I would like to show you beautiful photos of the views, or of the fabulous Greek amphitheatre, but alas, it was cold and rainy and foggy. I rather like this photo, however:

We’ve been back a week, and in that time I have already flown to Helsinki on business and returned. But I can still close my eyes and imagine I am in Sicily.

Satisfying stripes

In a clear demonstration of my priorities right now (or perhaps my dubious time management), it took me less than five weeks to knit my colourful Stole from start to finish, and nearly three weeks to post about it once it was done.

I really whizzed through this project. I cast it on as I was about to fly to Johannesburg, as it seemed like the quintessential travel project – easy, lightweight, and no instructions, tape measures, stitch markers, or thinking needed.

I used seven skeins of Garthenor Preseli fingering weight 100% wool yarn, purchased from A Yarn Story, in the shades Raspberry, Koi, Tuscany, Baked Crimson, Sycamore, Marmalade & Quartz.

I bought the pattern for this, designed by Theresa Gaffey, in order to give credit to my inspiration, but in fact I didn’t even read the pattern. I cast on 386 stitches, knitted in 10×10 rib, with 3 stitch i-cord on either end. I used a US6/4mm needle, and blocked aggressively for a blocked gauge of 19×34. I didn’t use all of the yarn – I have about 10 grams of each colour left, enough to make a nice hat or mittens to match. I really like the way it turned out. Even the bees like it!

One of the things that is interesting about the use of bold stripes like this is how the shawl looks different depending on which orientation you have it (ie, which stripe is near your face). It also looks very different against different backgrounds. I’ve worn it here with both white and navy tops to demonstrate.

The yarn is lovely and so soft. I am definitely going to use it again. When it is knitted at this gauge it makes for a gloriously light but warm shawl.

A great fact about this construction: at the end, you can just run the threads through the channel of the i-cord edgings for super easy finishing. It took me less than five minutes to finish off all of the ends!

I may not be posting much, but never fear, I am still knitting. Currently I am making a cardigan in a beautiful pop of super bright coral-red mohair. I will be in Sicily next week and hope to get most of it knitted while I’m away. I’ll be sure to post a photo or two of me knitting under the Sicilian sun!

Pattern Radar: April 2023

I finished knitting and blocking a colourful shawl, but you will have to wait to see it. I’ve got a bit of a bug this weekend, and just can’t make the effort to photograph it. I also knitted a pretty swatch for a linen top in white (which I wrote about in my last post) but I am not going to show you that either. Or cast it on. Why? Because it is white, and my head is shouting “Do something colourful!” at me. This may be because I have lots of colourful inspiration. Here are some of the colourful things that are demanding head space; these include four garments and three whimsical knits.

Kainuu by Maija Vasala

© Laine Publishing / Maija Vasala

I saw this and nearly fell over. It just whisked me right out of the doldrums. I can’t look at this and not feel happy. I don’t plan to knit it (at least, not this year) but will be cheering on anyone who does.

Agatha by Mizuho Kumiyo

© Masahiro Shimazaki for amirisu

I took one look at this top, by Mizuho Kumiyo for Amirisu, and was all set to one-click. And then I noticed the fine print: “This pattern is sold exclusively as part of kits in our online shop.” Oh no; this is a serious bummer. I would even consider buying the kit, from the shop – in Japan – but in post-Brexit Britain this may be asking for trouble. Just look at the details of this top, however; I love it to pieces. Maybe it’s time for a trip to Japan. Speaking of which….

Tomoka by Tokuko Ochiai

© Masahiro Shimazaki for amirisu

This one also popped up in my feed this week, also from Amirisu, and, you guessed it, is only available as part of a kit from their on-line shop. (I imagine I am about to be inundated with cool kits from their shop.) I love this piece, particularly the cuffs on the sleeves. I would love to add these cuffs to a Chanel-style jacket. If anyone from the UK has any experience buying from Amirisu’s online shop, let me know.

Un-Deux-Trois Top
 by Faïza Mebazaa

© Faïza Mebazaa

I follow Faiza on Ravelry and have been admiring her knitting for years. She has recently started designing, and this is one of her new pieces. Actually, I am far more likely to knit – and wear – her gorgeous Ludivine than this one: but today I am focusing on colour and I really like what Faiza has done here with colour. It pushes my boundaries a bit, and I like that.

Pencil Scarf by Suzi Ashworth

© Suzi Ashworth

I was one of those kids who loved the beginning of school each year. Shopping for school supplies was a treat. Who doesn’t like the look of newly sharpened coloured pencils lined up in a row? This takes me back and makes me smile.

How to knit a bird by Arne & Carlos

© Arne & Carlos

Aren’t these pretty? I have included this one partly because I like the pattern name: “How to knit a bird”. Also, because I have a friend, June, who is crazy about birds and has (partially) infected me, so I notice all bird-related patterns. Just imagine what good stash busters these would be. And get a load of their feet; this cracks me up!

Striped Pup Sweater by Stephen West

I don’t have a dog, but if I did, I would think about knitting one of these. Or maybe two or three. These are really cute.

I hope these patterns get you thinking about colour. I cast on a new project this weekend using the brightest, most eye-popping yarn from my stash. Stay tuned for the details.

One more row

The University closes for 6 days at Easter every year, from the Thursday to the Tuesday. Work has been super busy and this comes at a good time. No email for 6 days!

We don’t have any plans for this period, the sun has been shining, and we have not been stuck on a bus trying to get to France. I’d say it is a perfect time to get some extra knitting done, perhaps with some sun and chocolate thrown in.

As if to acknowledge this fact, I got new yarn in the post. Lovely, shiny, white linen yarn to make one smile and think of spring patterns.

The yarn, Kalinka 21, is a 55% linen 45% wool blend from Karin Oberg, which I purchased from Ginger Twist Studio. I used this yarn previously to make my Treit top, and have wanted to knit with it again ever since. As soon as I saw the Joni top by Nastasja Hornby, I ordered the yarn.

© Natasja Hornby

I think it will be really pretty. I am still in my “knit only easy things” phase (my unofficial Covid-recovery plan) and I am hoping that my brain and fingers will find this pattern easy.

In the meantime, I have been powering through my newest shawl. I cast it on a month ago to knit on the plane on my trip to Johannesburg. It is going super fast.

I think this has to do with the nature of stripes. You always want to see what the next stripe will look like and that keeps you motivated to knit “one more row”. Before you know it, it is time to add in another colour.

I am really loving this very relaxing knit. The Garthenor Preseli yarn is soft and feels great on the hands. In fact, I can easily imagine making another of these, maybe in shades of blue. Or green. Or maybe some greys and yellows.

That’s it from me today. Doug is in the kitchen preparing a Sunday roast, we have friends coming by to join us, and the rain is still holding off. I’m going to sit in the garden and knit “one more row”.