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September 24, 2006

I should be knitting mittens, really


But all I do is knitting socks. I'm almost obsessed by Eunny's Bayrische socks. The fine gauge, the well defined stitches, the beautifully flowing pattern, what more can ask for? There are almost 100 stitches in one sock, the knit stitches knitted twined, and there are twists on every row. It's not complicated at all, but you have to be alert all the time. And it's addictive. I love the socks already, and have problems putting them to the side. I had white and blue Regia silk in stash (hurray for emptying the stash!), and I chose the white, in order to get most out of the travelling stitches, knitted through the back loop.

But before I got this socks obsession, I knitted quite a lot on the flower mittens. Look, the first mitten has got a companion.


I think I will use a smaller pattern on the thumbs, a practise quite common on old Finnish mittens. The other option would be to let the flowers continue on the outer side and then use for example stripes on the inside, a way to come around the problem that also were used a lot. When I'll be able to let the socks rest I'll have to make a decision.

September 20, 2006

FO: Deep V-Argyle Vest

The Deep V Argyle vest has made it to the finishing line. The vest is super comfortable to wear, and is not at all, as I had suspected, very warm. The DK thickness talked for a midwinter vest, but I have already used the vest, and it was just perfect.

Eunny's pattern is well written and easy to follow, even if I think there is a mistake in the earlier versions of the ribbing instructions. There is plenty of description in how to make steeks, perfect even for a perfect beginner to the world of steeks. Still, my yarn was too slippery, and I ended up securing the steeks with a seam. The neck edge and armhole ribbing is picked up in the first stitch of the steek, look at the picture, a very neat edge against the ribbing, isn't it! The hem ribbing continues in a beautiful manner into the edge stitches of the fake side seam. Eunny's small details makes knitting this vest very satisfying, you look at the patterns and almost say aloud a big Ahaaa!


Project details:
Pattern: Eunny's Deep V Argyle vest
Yarn: Jaeger Extra Fine Merino DK in Raspberry and Blackcurrant
Needles: Addi bamboo 3,5 mm 60 cm and dpns
Gauge: 22 stitches and 32 rows to make 10 x 10 cm
Alterations: I started the ribbing at the hem with 1 knit, *2 purl, 2 knit*, not 1 knit, *2 knit, 2 purl*, as my pattern specifies. This order creats the ribbing you see in the picture above.

See all entries on Deep V Argyle Vest.

And check out this: Lotta at Knitter Nutter has started a Deep V in pale pink and dark, almost brown, plum. Way to go, Lotta!

September 16, 2006

The Finnish mitten challenge

It's hardly a surprise for those who know my knitting habits even a little bit that I love knitting Estonian mittens and socks. I don't know why, but there is something in the small scaled patterns, the rhythm of the patterns that speaks intensely to me. I like Estonian mittens more than Latvian mittens, and way more than the Norwegian mittens I used to knit before I first opened Nancy Bush's book Estonian folk knitting. It felt like coming home, the mittens did have everything I liked in Norwegian mittens, and nothing of the things I didn't. And I think I can't blame my ancestors for this, the genetic heritage of those who lived in Estonia 250 years ago must be pretty diluted today.

I think I found one reason why I feel so at home with the Estonian mittens, and it has to do with my earlier weaving activities. Before my babies started to grow into schoolchildren in need of rooms of their own I had a craft room, where I kept the family loom I have. It has been in my husbands family for about 150 years, a quite big sturdy thing (that sad to say is now stored away in pieces, waiting for the kids to move out). I was very interested in how old fabrics were woven, and I studied lot of books on old-fashioned clothing. Perhaps my unconscious mind did take up pictures of mittens resembling the Estonian mittens I later would take to my heart.

HPIM7151.JPGI decided that the mittens my family will receive this year will all have patterns that originate from Finland. There are so many different styles, and I think they have been very poorly exhibited and showed. Mittens from Kymenlaakso are partly very similar to the Estonian mittens. They share many pattern, some pattern have even the same name as the Estonian name. The cuffs are often simpler, and the most intricate pattern that the Estonian mittens represent are not present among the Kymenlaakso mittens. Mittens from the south of Pohjanmaa have elements that remind of old pheasant painted furniture, and are quite different from the Kymenlaakso mittens, but do also have similar features. And mittens from the Swedish speaking areas of Pohjanmaa have again their own twist, totally different from the south of Pohjanmaa. In Lapland are mittens again different, the Rovaniemi mitten is somewhat known but other styles not so. And then we have the thrum mittens. Not as thick as the thrum mittens in Canada, but still warm and with very interesting cuffs.

I have started some initial research, reading books and taking a tour at the archives of the National Museum. I have looked at pictures in the archive, read notes about the mittens, and read through Anna Rauhala's excellent pro gradu exam work on mittens from Kymenlaakso and the outer islands. I have not had a chance to examine any mittens personally, and there are a lot of models I haven't got verified. But I have started :-)


The first pair of mittens will be for my older daughter. The yarn is Vuorelma's Satakieli, in a red that looks like it had been dyed with madder, and a purple that look like it has been dyed with madder and indigo. I have decided not to stick to the original colours, since they were very often sheep white and sheep black, but to try to find colours that could have been created before the synthetic colours took over. The yarn will of course not be dyed with natural dyes, I haven't the time to start involving me in that again, but the colour shade have to look natural. The pattern for these mittens is found in Eeva Haavisto's book Sataa kansanomaista kuviokudinmallia, and it is from Jalasjärvi in south Pohjanmaa. I have not got this specific pattern verified with a museum item, but about half of all the models in Haavisto's are mittens I have found pictures of, and her only changes seams to be that she perhaps has adapted some mittens to a slightly thicker yarn than the original. Thus I assume it to be quite original. According to Rauhala’s research in Kymenlaakso mittens did most old mittens have a stitch count of 40-50 stitches to 10 cm. Haavisto's models have less than this, perhaps as a result of the commercial yarns that started to be more available in the 1940's, when her book was published.

The cuff of the mitten is actually not a mitten cuff. I took the model from a picture of an old sock from Pohjanmaa, but I think it works pretty nice as cuff too. The pattern was called zig-zag pattern. More on the knitting details of the mitten when I advance.

The pattern of the hand does not have a name, so I have decided to call the mittens the Jalasjärvi flower mittens.

September 10, 2006

It's been a hard week's weekend

This has been the first week of the autumn term at the university. I have, unlike earlier years, also signed up for and got accepted to several language courses. And language lessons give you homework. So this first week has already been a pretty busy week, and everything talks for more work later on when a second course in Finnish is about to start, and when I'll also get literature for next exam.

But over to the knitting contents.


I have got a card from my secret knitting pal. She has been to Greece, and was kind enough to send me a card telling me how beautiful it is over there, and how kind the people are, the best inGreece she claims. Sounds like a pretty nice place, and the pictures are beautiful. Thank you, Salainen Neule Ystävä!

I have made some progress on the argyle vest. I was knitting so much late in the evenings that I totally forgot to take pictures, and this is the state of the vest now:


Yes, the vest is knitted and the steeks cut open. I had a slight problem with the steeks, and I knew it pretty much from the beginning. I made several swatches and tested the crochet steek method, but no way that I could get the steeks to hold. So my decision was to sew the steeks on machine, and then, in order to create a neat edge, and only for decorative purpose, to crochet over the sewn stitch. Like this:


The stitches are safe, and the edge is neat, and the tension is as if I had used only the crochet method (I doubt there is a difference between my sewn steek and the crocheted, but if there is, and Eunny claims it is, then this is the same as the crocheted). Next step is now to pick up and knit some 350 stitches in rib.

These two guys are also ready to take their departure. Bye, bye helping bunnies, be good bunnies to the children you'll see.


September 03, 2006

Copenhagen, a knitter's view

Danes, you have a nice capital! I have visited Copenhagen twice this year, and I would go back any day if somebody would buy me a ticket and pay for hotel. Copenhagen is expensive, a bit more even than Helsinki, I think, but clean and beautiful, with small houses and lots of parks. Danish is after a day or two even understandable, and written Danish is almost a piece of cake for a person with Swedish or Norwegian as home language. And for those who don’t speak Swedish or Norwegian, the Danes do speak English well.

I knew about three yarnshops from before, and I found a fourth during my visit. Its name was Bette Design and it is situated on Klosterstraede 20. The shop was closed when I walked by, but they carried Garnstudio’s yarns and other, from the window seen not identifiable labels. It looked worth a visit, but my schedule was not going to give me the time.

The first shop I visited was Strikkeboden, in the corner between Fiolstraede and Krystalstraede. The shop carried Noro (lots of Noro!), Anny Blatt and Buton d’Oro and own import under the label GarnkompagnieT. It’s a small but cosy shop. I didn’t buy anything (in fact I hadn’t plan to buy anything at all, but you know how it is…), and I never felt that it bothered the sales woman that I just looked. Strikkeboden do accept credit cards.

Close to Strikkeboden is Uldstedet, on Fiolstraede 13. Uldstedet is a bit bigger and carries Grignasco, Gepard, Madil, Noro, Garnstudio, Rowan and Isager yarns (and some other labels too). The Isager yarns, 2 ply merino, alpaca, flax, cotton, were arranged so the colours would show to their best, and in a way that you couldn’t miss the incredible amount of colours. Okay, I admit it, I lost my head totally, and in spite of all my good intentions did buy four hanks of Isager Tvinni, the 2 ply merino. I did also snatch a hank of Noro Ganpi akaba surabu, a paper/rayon yarn with me. Uldstedet doesn’t accept credit cards.


The biggest shop, and a shop not only for knitters but also for those who embroider or quilt, is Sommerfuglen on Vandkunsten 3. Sommerfuglen carries Rowan, Isager, Hillesvåg, GGH, own import under the label Sommerfuglen and several other labels as well as DMC, Blomster and other embroidery yarns. They have lot of books and quite a lot of discontinued yarns like Rowan Linen Drape and Cork. They accept credit cards, which led to me to walk out of the shop with two books by the fantastic Danish designer Marianne Isager (yes the same person who is behind the yarns I bought earlier during the trip). These books, Strik a la carte and Inka – latinamerikanske inspirationer i nordisk strik, are not, at least I think so, translated into English, and it is a shame. Marianne Isager is a real designer, she is not only putting together different patterns, she is creating new textures and constructions, in a real genius way. The Inka book is a book about Nordic knitting with inspiration from Latin America, in the same style as her Africa book (by Interweave). I couldn’t decide, so I bought both (they were expensive and heavy, but what can you do, and as I said they accept credit card).


There are for sure more yarn shops in Copenhagen, but these are all very close to Stroget, and in the absolute centre of Copenhagen, and all worth a visit.


September 01, 2006

Greetings from my Secret Pal

When I came home late on Wednesday from Copenhagen I had something waiting for me. My Salainen Neule Ystävä or the Secret Knit Pal had sent me a parcel. The down side was that the parcel was too big for our mailbox, and I wasn’t able to get it until on Thursday. My pal had sent me a card too, one that she had forgot to add to the parcel, and I was for once wise, and decided to open it first when I had opened the parcel. It turned out to be a good choice, since my pal explains on the card why she has chosen the items in the parcel.



Tadaa!!! Knitting and other goodies!

Inside a black and white stylish paper bag were the following items: Estonian chocolate, a bag of green tea with citrus, a set of pastel chopsticks, two balls of sock yarn and one of alpaca.

The colours were very hard to catch, but I managed somehow. The Regia yarn is in wonderfully bright and crisp, and will be socks as soon as I’m over this mitten season (might be first on next years side). The alpaca is positively the most beautiful blue-green colour I’ve ever met. It’s not solid blue-green, there are greener parts and bluer parts, but they mix in together to form a bluegreenishness that is overwhelming beautiful. I can already se this yarn used in the cuffs of a pair of black gloves with perhaps a structural pattern on the back of the hands, and big cuff, perhaps with some beads added. They will be perfect with my winter coat that has small slits on the sleeves.

I had told in the questionnaire that I also like to cook Japanese, and my pal remembered me with a set of pastel chopsticks. A very good choice, dear pal! The chocolate is eaten (okay, it took me about ten minutes after opening the parcel to be finished with it), and the green tea is also tested, yesterday at first, and now is a second cup steaming here on my desk. You are right, it is very fresh. I have in fact never had spiced green tea before, so it was a totally new one. Thank you for everything, Secret Pal!

And the bonus, my Pal. You could of course not know it, since I haven’t mentioned it anywhere, but when I was in my teens I started to collect posters and cards with the old Mickey Mouse, he who had only three fingers and thumb, and only the red pants and yellow shoes. At that time (we are talking about the eighties) they were very hard to find. When we got our first home of our own we painted the bathroom yellow, bought a bright red bath rug and bright red towel and put up all the Mickey posters, a child’s plate with Mickey from the 40's and some other small items I had found. And in every house we have lived since have we had a yellow wc room with Mickey posters. So your card is going to get a frame and a permanent place in our house.


Click here for an other view!

Copenhagen was good, but I’m dead tired as physically as mentally. The trip went well, but yesterday at home I didn’t get anything done. I like Copenhagen a lot, I managed to sneak in as well yarn shopping (Danish yarns and books!) as china shopping, but you’ll get a full report later. I didn’t after all take any knitting with me, but I made yesterday some progress on the argyle vest.


Welcome to my blog! My name is Maud, and I spend my free hours grooming Afghan hounds, knitting, cooking, and growing bonsai trees. I am since the summer of 2012 reporting from Stockholm Sweden, entries before that are from Esbo, Finland.

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