7/01/2019

Yarn kits for Humminbird MKAL

August and my new shawl MKAL is approaching. I've just updated my web shop with yarn kits for the mystery.




This year's yarn is handdyed Merino Singles by Martin's Lab. The yarn is fingering weight single-ply SW merino with 366 m/100 g.

I've curated three color themes with Martin's Lab. Each kit comes with three colors, one of which is a special colorway dyed especially for this mystery knit-a-long and not part of Martin's Lab's regular colorways.

The color themes are Candy Shop, Fall Foliage and Pinstripe. Candy Shop includes Fairy Dust (pink, teal and yellow speckles on an almost white grey), Mojito (mint) and Candy Shop (orange/brown and blue speckles on purple). The last one is the special colorway of this kit. If you're wondering about the best order for the colors, I made my first shawl with similar colors from my stash and used the speckled white for C1, mint for C2 and speckled purple for C3.


The second theme, Fall Foliage is all about warm autumn tones: Autumn in Poland (warm orange), Green apple (a fresh green, the special colorway of this kit) and Dry Leaves (warm brown). For this kit, I'd recommend the order as in the pic below: orange for C1, green for C2 and brown for C3. 


The third theme, Pinstripe, went for a graphic look. It includes Ash (dark grey), Anna (cold, greyish yellow, special colorway) and Silver Lining (light grey). I'm so taken by the fact that the special colorway got its name from me. I also knit my other sample shawl with this kit using the dark grey for C1, the yellow Anna for C2 and the lighter grey for C3.


There's a limited amount of each kit available on my web shop so hurry up and grab yours. Everyone purchasing a yarn kit will get the mystery shawl pattern for free. It will be sent as a Ravelry download link to your email (or your Ravelry library if you remember to tell your Ravelry nick in the info box). If you've already bought the pattern on Ravelry you can gift this to a friend by letting me know their email or Ravelry nick.

The kits will be shipped durin July and the MKAL starts on August 16th. Unfortunately there's no tracking for shipments outside Finland. If you want tracking, it can be arranged but it will bump up the shipment cost.

Could we start the MKAL already? Pretty please!

6/25/2019

Space windows

This spring, I was waiting eagerly for a new knitting book. You see, a dear friend, Tiina Kuu, published her very first sock book and I was lucky enough to get a book from the publisher to write a review. At the moment, the book is only available in Finnish but the designs (or an e-book) will be released on Ravelry in 2020 or later.


How: Circular needles 2.25 mm
From: Woolmint Symphony + Holst Garn Highland, 48 + 30 g

I take pride in not writing a review until I've tested out at least one pattern in a book. I had a though time choosing which socks to make but in the end it was simple. All the designs are named after Finnish songs and I knew which artist I was going for. After that, it was a matter of choosing between two sock designs.


Avaruuden ikkunat (i.e. space windows) are stranded color work using two colors. The cuffs are two-colored ribbing and the main part of the socks have these funky little boxes to represent space windows. (It's a silly song, trust me!) The sole is mostly vertical stripes but there are a few windows there as well.


Stranded knitting always begins with choosing colors. The right colors can result in the most beautiful socks ever, while the wrong colors can muddy up the whole design. I went through my stash of sock yarns and found yarn I had dyed a few years back. You wouldn't believe it from the pictures but I was going for pink speckles on light yellow base. Yep. The shop keeper tricked me big time when I was buying the 'yellow' color. So I didn't get the colors I was going for but the yarn still turned out quite nice. And they've been waiting for the right pattern for a long time.


I paired up orange yarn with a light-colored Woolmint Symphony. The colorways for Symphony have been named after famous composers. I chose Händel even though Sibelius was available too. The Händel has such gorgeous, muted shades. It's grey and black speckles on a natural white base. Together, these colors remind me of a campfire so these socks are on FIRE.


The boxes are repeated along the socks but keep changing places. For some reason, for the life of me, I couldn't memorize the chart. The first sock took ages as I had to constantly keep checking every row from the chart. Finally, I learned the pattern just before the toes of the first sock.


Tiina Kuu has an engineer-like attitude to sock designing. And hence, even this little box pattern had mirrored charts for the other sock. I was a bit nervous would it be difficult to memorize the mirrored pattern as I had just learned the first one. Luckily, my brain had finally trule tuned into the pattern and it was a breeze. Where the first sock took me several weeks, the second sock knit up in just couple days.


I love how the socks turned out. My only problem was figuring out the cast on. The book has a technique section which is more on how to find tutorials online instead of explaining every possible technique. I really appreciate that. I think there are a lot of knitters that will benefit from this. However, these particular socks had a very special cast on: a two-color stranded cast on and I was left wondering if I was supposed to google for an Italian cast on that's used in brioche or something else. (As it turns out, I should've just googled two-color stranded cast on. Silly me.) Since I couldn't figure out the right search terms, I decided that as an experienced knitter I can come up with my own cast on. Turns out I couldn't. Well, I did cast on and manage to make a pair of socks but the cast on looks different in each sock. It's really flexible and stretchy which is nice but it has this funny look as if the stitches come from nowhere. Like they just emerge from thin air.


I love the socks and they won't be the only pair I'll work from this beautiful book.

6/21/2019

Vieno

This spring, I suffered a bad case of the knitting blues. You know, the horrible feeling when none of your wips inspire you and you don't even know what else to knit. I was feeling down: I was going to the movies the next day and none of my current projects was suitable for movie knitting. I had nothing appropriate in my Ravelry queue either. My go-to fix for the knitting blues is to go stash diving and pick up whatever feels most inspiring, no matter if I was saving the yarn for something special or if what I wanted to wasn't movie knitting appropriate either. The main thing was to get out of the knitting funk. And it worked.


What: Vieno / Own pattern
How: Circular needles 3.0 mm and 3.5 mm
From: Martin's Lab Tibetan Singles, 355 g

I went stash diving and picked up my precious merino/yak/silk skeins by Martin's Lab that I had bought at the Finnish Craft fair last fall. I'd had a vision for them that I wanted to design a dress with brioche on the yoke. Fine, so designing a new dress on the go didn't exactly sound like movie knitting either but I didn't care; I felt inspired!


I spent most of the movie winding the yarns. Finally, it was time to cast on. As I had done no prior calculations, I checked a few dresses I had knit before for appropriate stitch counts for the neckline and sleeves and started knitting with no thoughts of swatching or the width of the brioche pattern looming in the very near future.


Sometimes things just work out. My gauge was spot on, the stitch counts I chose semi-randomly were a perfect match for nice and even yoke increases. I made a brioche pattern that would work with my stitches and then something magical happened. Without planning it ahead, I had accidentally designed a brioche yoke that sits on the bust in the most flattering way ever. Finally, when working the hem, I managed to guess just how much the dress would grow length in the wash. Usually, I get to sorely regret not calculating and grading a design before starting my sample. But this time, this dress was just meant to be.


Vieno is worked top-down seamlessly - as all my designs. It has a round yoke with a show stopper brioche pattern.  The brioche pattern is graded to sit on the bust in the same flattering manner for all the sizes. The dress has long sleeves and a high rib at the cuffs.


The dress has waist shaping: you'll work decreases on the sides until you reach the waist. After that, you will work increases around the hem to make it round. Just before the hem rib, there is a gorgeous color work pattern. But it's not just any color work: the contrast color pattern is worked with purl stitches to make it stand out. It takes some concentrating but is well worth the trouble.


I designed the dress for this gorgeous single-ply merino/yak/silk blend and it is one of my favorites. In addition to silk, the yak gives a special shine to the yarn. And the yarn drapes beautifully, which is something to keep in mind when deciding on the length of the hem as a dress is quite heavy when washed. This was my first time trying out Martin's Lab yarns but not last. There's a man with an eye for colors.


You can find the pattern on Ravelry. It comes with 11 sizes, to fit bust circumferences from 30'' to 60.75''. I've been following the size inclusivity discussion on Instagram and I wanted to do better. With that in mind I added one more size to the pattern (60.75'') even though it hasn't been test knitted. I will look for test knitters for that size and update the pattern in case any errors are found but I'm confident all the sizes will work as mathematics doesn't lie. But, in case you run into any trouble, don't hesitate to contanct me and I'll figure it out!

To celebrate the release of the pattern, you can get 25% discount with the code MOTHER until Sunday June 30th.


Speaking of mothers, the dress got its name from my great grandmother. I've never met my grandfather's mother but I've heard stories from mom. Also, fittingly, some people on IG commented that these pictures have a 'mother of dragons' vibe to them and now, I can't unsee it.


Nothing is as elegant and comfortable as a knitted dress.

Anna Johanna

6/18/2019

Mystery shawl for the fall

Are you ready for the next Anna Johanna mystery shawl knit-a-long? Last year, Shake it up was a hit and I've been waiting eagerly to host a new mkal.


Hummingbird is the Anna Johanna mystery shawl knit-a-long for fall 2019 so you’d best get ready to have fun and be prepared for anything!


Just like last year, the pattern comes with a whole bunch of little clues. Some of them will take one day, some will take several. As a statistician, I've had a lot of fun calculating the exact amount of stitches to be knitted with each clue to plan out the schedule.

The MKAL starts on August 16th and the clues will be updated as follows:
1st clue: August 16th
2nd clue: August 17th
3rd clue: August 18th
4th clue: August 20th
5th clue: August 21st
6th clue: August 22nd
7th clue: August 28th
8th clue: August 31st
9th clue: September 2nd
10th clue: September 5th
11th clue: September 9th
12th clue: September 13th

You’ll need three skeins of fingering weight yarn, C1, C2 and C3. I’d recommend vivid colors with good contrast. You'll want to clearly see the different sections of the shawl so I would not recommend picking a fade set for this one. When deciding on the order of the colors, if you have one pop color, I’d use that for C2. C1 should have a good contrast with C2.

On July 1st, I will update my webstore with yarn kits for the shawl (Don't worry about the shop being only in Finnish at the moment, there will be an English version too come July). If you buy a yarn kit, you’ll get the pattern for free. There will be three different color schemes for the kits. Each kit will include three skeins of Martin’s Lab Merino Singles with one special colorway dyed especially for this MKAL. The kits will be mailed during July so you'll have them ready when the mkal starts. In case you're coming to the Jyväskylä knit fest in July, you can select 'pick up' instead of 'mail' and we can arrange a meet up at the festival for you the get your yarn kit.

The shawl is big, using most of the yarn and the pattern includes guides on yardage after each clue to make sure you don’t run out.

Share your progress on social media using #wwokmkal and #hummingbirdmkal and feel free to use the logo as your cover picture. There's a general chat thread on Ravelry and once the MKAL starts, there will be a separate thread for each clue.

Who's going to join me?

6/10/2019

Spring Quartet

It's a fine feeling to learn something new - and an even greater feeling when you can except that you were wrong. You see, I've always been a knitter of wool. I work with wool all year round no matter the temperature. I do own a few summer knits in cotton but I don't like knitting cotton. It has no flexibility or the puffiness of wool so I mostly work with wool and wool mixes. The Finnish summer is quite cold so there is always a need for wool but you can't make warm weather clothes out of wool. Or could you? This is the antiquated truth I no longer believe in.


What: Spring Quartet / Anna Johanna
How: Circular needles 3.5 mm
From: Dandelion Yarns Falkland Fingering, 160 g
https://www.ravelry.com/projects/annaj0hanna/spring-quartet

It all started last fall at the annual craft fair in Tampere. For the first time ever, dyers and yarn shops from abroad were allowed at the Finnish craft fair and they had a little corner for them in one of the great halls. Of course, it was my first destination at the fair. One of the dyers there was Dandelion Yarns from Sweden. Anna was so lovely and offered me to take a few springy green skeins of her gorgeous Falkland Merino for designing. The yarn immidiately let me know it was destined to grow up to be a fitted lace cardigan. And when yarn tells you what to do with it, you don't argue.



Then finally, it was spring and the right time for a springy green lace cardigan. I searched for just the right lace pattern, made a swatch and calculated and graded the pattern. I designed cardigan with a lace back and a bit of lace on the front that would slowly disappear. The cardigan was to have long sleeves - you know, who would ever need a wool cardigan with short sleeves?!


I went to knitting retreat in the spring and chatted about fitted lace cardigans with my friend. She told me it would be nice if I included also short sleeves in the pattern. Sure, I could do that. I desided I would first make the short sleeved version, take a few pics, unravel the bind off and make the long sleeves and finally, take pictures of the cardigan with the intended long sleeves.


But look what happened! Once I put the short sleeved, lacy wool cardigan on me, there was no going back. Despite of all my misbeliefs about wool and short sleeved summer cardigans, it turned out that wool is an excellent material for lighter knits as well. I've been wearing the cardigan non-stop. It's the perfect companion for dresses and the short sleeves keep it from being too hot to wear during warm weather.



In the end, I didn't have the heart to unravel the bind off and work the long sleeves. The short-sleeved version has been so great I didn't want longer sleeves after all. You can see long-sleeved versions by my test knitters on Ravelry.


Spring quartet is a fitted lace cardigan with raglan sleeves. The back has a lace panel and the front lace slowly decreases until it completely disappears. The cardigan has waist shaping and a cropped hem, making it a perfect companion for dresses. The pattern includes instructions for both short and long sleeves. And the short-sleeved version especially works up in no time and uses so little yarn. You can find the pattern in my Ravelry store and get 25 % introductory discount during this week with the code DANDELION.


I've also started expanding the size range I offer to include 10 sizes from XXS to 3XL. So, Spring Quartet has finished bust circumferences 31-57.5''. I hope the new size range is a more inclusive one.


5/01/2019

Verso

I've been enjoying the spring weather and it has called me to work on some lighter knits for a change. I've never been much of a cowl person but on these sunny days, a shlanket-sized shawl is just too much.


What: Verso / Own pattern
How: Circular needles 3.5 mm
From: Spincycle Yarns Dyed in the wool, 100 g
https://www.ravelry.com/projects/annaj0hanna/verso
After mulling over it for a year, I finally decided to get me some Spincycle Yarns Dyed in the Wool yarn from Edinburgh Yarn Fest. It's a gorgeous yarn that's dyed to look like handspun. It's a 2-ply yarn where each ply has been dyed separate creating a beautiful gradient of colors.



I bought two skeins (two different colors) and figured I shoud design a cowl with them. The yarn is sport weight and the two 50 g skeins just wouldn't be enough for a shawl. I never thought I'd need a cowl but I've converted completely. The cowl turned out cute as ever and it's the most handy accessory for this spring weather.


Verso is a cowl that used two different gradient-dyed yarns. It plays on their colors and different textures. The cowl has ribbing, stripes, lace, you name it! It's a fun and super quick knit as it's almost impossible to put it down. You just have to see what comes next and how the colors will behave.


What: Verso / Own pattern
How: Circular needles 3.5 mm
From: Schoppel-Wolle Edition 3.0, 100 g
https://www.ravelry.com/projects/annaj0hanna/verso-2
Handdyed yarns are true works of art and I'm totally priviledged to get to work with them. But it is a fact that they can easily be out of someone's budget. With that in mind, I worked another sample in a much more easily affordable yarn that fits the pattern jus as nicely.


Edition 3.0 has a lower yardage than Dyed in the Wool but if you leave out the seed stitch section in the middle you can actually get by with just two skeins of Edition 3.0 like I did here.


The pattern has an introductory 25 % discount until the end of the week with the code SPRING.

4/14/2019

Easy knitting, eh?

Few years ago I knitted the best sweater ever. Except that it had a ton of little things I felt could be tweeked to make it even better. It wasn't perfect but it was the best sweater in the world.


What: 3 in 1 / alfa knits
How: Circular needles 3.5 and 4.0 mm
From: Tukuwool scraps and Pirtin kehräämö Kampalanka, 319 g
https://www.ravelry.com/projects/annaj0hanna/3-in-1-2

Every once in a while my brain needs to take a holiday and work on someone else's pattern. You know, knit without thinking. Except that if you know me, you know that's never really the case.


So I needed little mindless knitting and after staring at my Tukuwool leftovers for a moment I developed a craving for another 3 in 1 - this time in Finnish wool. It would be so great: the pattern calls for five colors and my scrap yarn basket was full of Tukuwool Fingering, some Kässäkerho Pom Pom Suoma Single and other Finnish yarns. I've made the sweater before so I knew how much I would need each color. So I grabbed the kitchen scale and sat down on our living room floor to figure out the yarns. I tried out all possible combos but in the end I ended up choosing five colors of Tukuwool Fingering. For the first hem, I chose Ruura and Rae, for the middle sweater I went for Selja, and for the main sweater I chose Auri and Uupo.


If you're not familiar with the pattern you should know the measurements are a bit off. The first time I made this I started working on size M - even though my measuments are closer to L. And both me and Hubby could fit in that sweater. So, I unraveled that and worked the sweater in size XS! In the end it fitted me nicely except that the sleeves could've been a bit looser. So this time around I cast on for size S. Though, I didn't stop to consider that Tukuwool is a more airy and fluffy than my yarns last time and now the sweater is a bit too loose. The sleeves are still a bit thight.


The sweater is worked bottom-up. First, you make the stripy hem. That's shaped with short rows which can be a bit of a pain with striping as you constantly have to remember to carry along the other color to have it in the right spot. Then, you cast on for the middle sweater. That one has a stockinette stitch hem that's meant to roll and the first two sweaters are worked together before continuing with the solid color middle sweater. Finally, you'll cast on for a third sweater, join it with the middle sweater and again, shape with short rows while working stripes.


In the original pattern, both the middle and main sweater have a stockinette stitch edging but I modified the main sweater to begin with few rows of garter stitch to make it different from the first two. I also modified the stripes to be 4-2 stripes instead of 2-2 - again to differentiate it from the first sweater. This made working short rows even more irritating but modifying things to be harder seems to be my thing.


Once I finished the short rows I wanted to throw the sweater in the bin. Never ever before have I had any trouble combining any Tukuwool colors together but for some reason this time the greenish yellow Uupo made the sweater look dirty. I cooled off for a couple of weeks and then ripped out Uupo and replaced it with this lovely orange Repo. Much better!


Once I got past the short row shaping (again) the sweater was coming along really fast. A bit too fast even. At this point I started to notice that my gauge was off since the sweater was looking way too tall. I didn't want to rip it back but I did have to modify the sleeve caps to make them fit with my gauge. More mods in the horizon. So much for that mindless knitting.


The sleeves I worked as instructed - until it was time to join them with the body.


If you take a look at my first 3 in 1 you'll notice that the neckline looks a bit different. In the pattern, there's just few purl rows before changing from one color to the next. It bothered me last time that the sweaters really look like layering pieces at the hem but not as much at the top - and it would be easy to modify. Of course that meant a lot more bind off - pick up and knit. But it was totally worth the trouble. It looks awesome and truly like three different sweaters.


The last challenge was the main color Auri. As my gauge was off I run out of it. First I replaced it with another Finnish yarn which happened to be exactly the same color (they're both spun at the same mill too!). But I lost at yarn chicken with that one as well. Finally, I had to work the last few rows with Auri in Tukuwool Sock. It's thicker yarn but you don't really notice as it was just last few rows. And I'm super happy I got to use up old scrap yarns.

It turned out not be easy, relaxed and mindless knitting. Not even close. Though, I should have known as that's what always happens when I decide to go for easy knitting. But I really, really love the sweater. It was well worth all the trouble and it looks so good.