Caravan tote

This little knitter has been succumbed by sewing frenzy. It seems that to balance work and free time I need another hobby besides knitting as knitting has become party a job. But since I'm a certified masochist knitter, I don't tend to do free time the easiest way. So I've gone and got addicted to sewing bags.

What: Caravan tote / Noodlehead
How: Sewing machine, Brother PS 53
From: Main fabrics are canvas from Spoonflower and wool, lining is cotton and cotton linen mix, a zipper, leather, metal parts, interface etc.

It all started with this weekend bag. It was such a mindblowing sewing experience that I had to make another one for my mom. Then this fall, I spotted a great backpack on Instagram and made one for myself - and in the process seemed to get half of the Finnish knit scene to make them as well. And since then, I've made three more. But those are Christmas presents so you'll have to wait to see the pics. I also bought another back pattern from the same designer, this Caravan tote which is a tote bag designed especially for knitters.

The annoying thing about sewing is that the prepartions take more time than the actual sewing. I spent half a day cutting the fabrics and ironing interface into place. And then I finally sat infront of my sewing machine ready to start... expect that I needed to change the needle and while taking the old one off I managed to drop it deep inside the machine. So much for sewing. Luckily this has now been fixed, as you can probably tell by the pics with the bag.

Caravan tote is a bag designed for knitters. It has one snap pocket on the outside and one pocket on the inside with eyelets so you can pull your yarn through them. But the coolest thing of all is a zipper pocket hidden on the outside of the bag with a needle pocket inside it. There's also plenty of room for printed patterns and notions.

The bag is huge and can easily accommodate a couple projects. The bag is otherwise oopen but it has a magnetic lock in the middle. I bought such powerful magnetic locks that the hardest part about fastening them was to separate the pieces to begin with. For the handles I used leather I found at a craft fair. There were plenty of leather shops selling excess bits from shoe industry.

The caravan tote was a nice sewing project. There weren't any particularly difficult parts and the result is adorable - not to mention handy! The most difficult part of the project was choosing the fabrics. I was hoping to use left over cottons from my stash but it turned out that especially the zipper pocket needed quite a bit of fabric. This is not a project for the smallest pieces of left over fabrics but I did manage to whip this up with my fabric stash. I only bought the metal parts, the leather and interface. Oh yes, the second most annoying thing about sewing is that you always run out of interface.

The pattern also included instructions for this cutest little project bag to match the tote bag. It is so sweet and just the perfect size for a sock project. It didn't quite fit two skeins but who could blame me for trying.


At the spin mill

Recently, there have been some news stories in the Finnish media about Finnish wool not being appreciated. Tukuwool also made their own press release about this. And I'm glad they did as in my knitting circles, Finnish wool is very much loved.

This week, I had the amazing opportunity to visit Pirtin kehräämö, the spin mill spinning Tukuwool. It was my first time at an industrial spin mill and I thought you might like to see some pics as well.

The tour started off with washing the wool. The bigger quantities are sent to England for washing but small batches are washed at the mill. After rolling in the washing machine, the wool is lifted onto a grate to dry.

The dry wool is fed into a huge machine used for mixing wool and other fibres. It makes the wool all fluffy and blows it into a wool cupboard. I got to take a peek inside and I wish they would've left me stay there to take a nap! I also got see for the very first time how nylon looks as a separate fiber. Int the picture below there's black and white nylon.

From the cupboard, the wool is taken to a drum carder which makes it into fluffy batts, separates it into thin strands and adds just a little bit of twist.

Then it's off to the spinning machine which adds more twist and stretches the fibers depending n how thin yarn they're aiming for. The spin mill was founded in 1948 and it still has one working drum carder and spinning machine from that year. Back then technology was built to last.

Below, there are pictures of worsted wool yarn in the making. There are two different types of wool and yarn: dense and smooth worsted wool where all the fibers have been combed to run in the same direction, and airier, fluffier - and yes, a bit pricklier - woollen wool where the fibers run in all sorts of directions. The spin mill had a separate spinning machine for woollen spun yarn and it was so thin you couldn't really see it with your bare eyes when the machine was running.

Next, the plies go through a plying machine to make 2-ply yarn, like Tukuwool Fingering. Lucky me, I got to feel single ply Tukuwool waiting for its turn in the plying machine.

Last but not least, an industrial skeining machine and washing the yarns.

The spin mill also has a lovely shop. I was gifted some worsted wool to try with my own spinning wheel. I also got a few skeins of their thin worsted yarn because I promised to design a shawl pattern for it in the spring. Thank you so much for the wool and the yarn, and especially for the tour at the mill.

My favorite souvenier off all was a 2 kg lamb I bought!

To be precise, I bought almost 2 kg of woollen carded wool because I've been dreaming for years of  spinning a sweater quantity. Running out of wool shouldn't stop me now!


Taming the octopus

Sounds strange? Not at all, once you'll let me explane.

What: Thunderstorm toque Abbye Knits
How: Circular needles 3.5 ja 4.5 mm
From: KVG Woolworks Merino DK, 81 g

I'm taking part in the annual Indie design gift-along hosted on Ravelry. It includes a huge bunch of independent knit and crochet designers having a 25 % sale for a week and then everyone joining in for gift knitting.

The event has 8 different categories, each with their own KAL thread. And if you manage to complete a project in each of the eight categories, you've tamed the octopus. I haven't participated in Tour de Sock for a few years now and I miss the competition. So here I am, chasing an octopus.

The spirit of the Indie design gift-along is for the designers to promote each other instead of everyone promoting themselves. So I'm hoping to knit these 8 projects by 8 different designers.

My first project was a super cool hat that I've wanted to knit for a long time. It has a folded rib, showy cables with bobbles in between. But the show stopper is the star shaped crown. I modified the pattern to have a long tail tubular cast on. Just to make the cast on edge nice and round.

I finished the hat in almost one night and it turned out just perfect. The plan was to knit Christmas gifts but what am I to do if the hat fits me so well.

And the yarn. It is the softest thing ever! It's a treasured left over yarn from my stash. I've made a shawl in this yarn some years ago so I'll have to keep the beanie for myself. They make such a cute set!


What you knit is what you get

I got a modified pair of socks as I didn't pay too much atterntion to the pattern.

What: Wendel / General Hogbuffer
How: Circular needle 2.25 mm
From: Drops Fabel, 60 g

Yep. I started working on yet another pair for The Box which is getting quite full. This time I chose a free pattern by General Hogbuffer. I've been meaning to try the pattern for years already. The General writes his free patterns to fit his quite big feet so I left out one repeat to get a suitable stitch count.

The socks have a pretty lace pattern spiraling around them. The pattern repeat was quick to memorize and the socks were a breeze all the way to the heels.

And then I found out I would need that one repeat I left out if I wanted to follow the pattern for the insteps. So from there on, these are my own mod. I'm an experienced enough knitter to deal with this and keeping my stitch counts correct with the lace.

The pattern would have let the spiral go on for a bit and then it would've been mirrored for the rest of the socks. I didn't want to think how I could make it work with my stitch count so I continued the lace as it was. It worked nicely this way too.

The box is truly running out of space. I had to resort to a little violence to fit this pair in. And now there is only room for one more pair on top.

You see, Santa's little helper made a pair too! My sister knitted a pair of lovely colorwork socks. So maybe I don't have to worry about whether or not I have time to make one more pair.


Colorful stripes

Or not.

What: Basic socks / Own pattern
How: Circular needle 2.25 mm
From: Scrap yarns, 60 g

Few years ago I came up with a fun way to use scrap yarns. I made a pair of socks for a friend knitting stripes with two yarns that were almost the same color. You couldn't really see the stripes but they made the colors behave differently and I had such fun making them. It may well be that I'm the only knitter on earth who has fun making invisible stripes but I liked them so much that ever since then I've wanted to try it again.

I went through my scrap yarns and picked out all creamy neutrals and knitted a pair of stripy socks. I cast on 60 sts, worked 12 rounds of ribbing and then started working 3 round stripes. The heel is a French heel, the kind that has a round shape.

The colors didn't work exactly as I planned. They had a bit too much contrast and you can clearly see the stripes. And then there was this cute but unfortunate blue glitter yarn that turned out the be way more blue than I imagined. Look how loud it is! How rude.

You can't really blame the socks for having too much color but I really like them. I've been longing for a pair of light colored socks in my wardrobe and now I have them.

I am a bit bothered by the amount of contrast in these and I will probably have a do-over at some point. I still have a bunch of light mint scraps and deep green scraps so we'll see.