Knitting retreat

Last night I came home from the best weekend of the year. It was already the sixth Kierot puikot (Wonky needles) retreat. The fifth one I've participated in. I recommend knitting retreats to everyone, they're just the best. I usually go on atleast three retreats every year. Even my phone's autocorrect thinks retreat junkie is a word.

The best weekend of the year was held in Iisalmi, northern Finland, at Haapaniemi ranch. There was way too much good food, lovely company and sooo many bad jokes to keep me giggling for the next few weeks. We had a sauna, a massage therapist, yarn lottery and a pop quiz. There were also two yarn shops so there were plenty of temptations.

This time I didn't have any FOs ready for photographing but I got to take pics for my friend. In the pic below, her knits are held by this scary statue that frightened me every time I ran to the sauna.

I had amazing luck in the yarn lottery and got be one of the first people to pick out my prize. As I'm a firm lover of uncolors, I picked Hedgehog Fibres Sock in the lovely pinkish gray colorway Ghost.

The Wonky needles retreat always offers some classes as well. This year you could take part in a lace knitting class and a sock blank class. The pics below show, which one I chose.

There were so many hopefuls that our teacher ended up having atleast three classes so that everyone had a chance to take part. Sock blanks are dyed the same way as yarn. The fun is seeing how differently the colors blend once you unravel the blank and knit socks from it.

I dyed my first blank into this crazy colorful speckle thingy. I just kept splashing colors on the blank until it was full.

Others had much more artistic approaches. As I watched them, I wanted to dye another blank, this time a bit more organized. I painted this grey grid on the blank and filled the empty space with purple dots. I'm a bit annoyed that the grey color didn't go through to the other side which is quite white but you never know how fun it will look once the grey, purple and white mix as it's knitted. I started knitting the first speckle blank right away once I got home from the retreat last night.

Thank you friends for the bestest of weekends.

Baby gifts

I had the pleasure to meet my friend's baby and that kind of meeting requires some extra cute knitted gifts.

What: Bits + Pieces / Veera Välimäki
How: Circular needle 3.0 mm
From: La bien aimée Merino Singles + some grey scrap yarn, 18 + 6 g

As usual in these cases, I went straight for my favorite baby patterns. Bits + pieces is my top 1 for baby hats. It's not only sweet but also a fun knit since the cap is knitted with short rows like a heel turn. One huge plus for this pattern is also that it can be knitted in just a few hours. I knitted the hat in size 6 months and took one size bigger needles than in the pattern to be sure the hat would be big enough. Baby sizes are impossible to guess, but I managed to get it just right this time.

We got goodie bags at last summer's knitting festival and those bags were full of yarn tasters. My (and my sister's, thank you very much!) bag had this amazing colorway by La bien aimée called Wee rainbow on a vespa. Finally I found a tiny enough project to use it on. The grey yarn was also in the goodie bag but I can't remember what it was.

What: Mini motif baby mittens / Lynette Hulse
How: Circular needle 3.5 mm
From: Zelda's dippins Wild and free + The Uncommon Thread Everyday Sport, 9 + 8 g

Of course I had to knit something else besides the hat. The teeny tiny thumbless mitts are essetial here in Finland because the spring weather is still quite cold. This pattern is another one of my favorites. The best part in the pattern is that it includes eight (!) different charts to choose from. You can never get bored of this pattern.

This time I chose to go with the owl chart. However, yet again, I chose too variagated yarns and the owl doesn't really show all that well. Will I ever learn? I knitted the mitts in sport weight yarn to make sure they're big enough. I've knitted these before in fingering weight yarn and those mitts are best suited for a newborn.


Uncolor craving

Some projects are easier than others. This one was a pleasant knit but took for ages to photograph.

What: Color craving / Stephen West
How: Circular neelde 3.5 mm
From: BC Garn Semilla Extra Fino, 133 g

Once upon a time when Color craving came out as Westknits MKAL, I didn't really get it at all. This enormous thing that extends to all possible directions and is full of holes. Who would want to wear it?

But then I participated on Stephen's class and saw the shawl in action. It was wonderful! Just perfect! A lovely huge loose shawl that you can wrap around your neck a few hundred times. And the holes! Those are so handy! You can pull one (or as many as you like) end of the shawl through any of the holes and it stays put without having to make a knot.

From that point forward, I had to knit myself a Color craving. Just for me. Then one time in my LYS, I bumbed into the gorgeous frozen shades of pink and mint Semilla Extra Fino by BC Garn. I already had white and light grey at home, so that was decided then. One totally colorless Color craving coming up. I would knit my Color craving in four uncolors. Very fitting, isn't it? Okey, maybe not, but very me atleast.

The shawl was a fun knit even though the ever growing rows felt a bit numbing at times. The shawl begins at the striped center section. The huge holes are made with an enormous amount of increases on every other row, always at the same spot. Next, the corners are knitted one at a time in different colors by picking up sts from two sides of the center section and knitting short rows. The shawl is finished off with a picot bind off.

Knitting this project was a blast. The only thing I would change might be the order of my colors. The pattern calls for three colors but it was easy enough to add in one more. However, hindsight is 20/20 and now I feel that the muted pink and light grey make for a bit dusty looking combo. I wish I had striped the pink with the white instead of the grey. All in all, the shawl looks sweet this way too.

The problems started once I finished the shawl. Photographing it turned out to be almost an impossible task. We tried taking pictures with my bff while visiting her but somehow none of the pics turned out good. There was always too much noise in the background or the camera focused on totally wrong places or this or that. Always something wrong. I already started using the shawl and decided to tackle the pictures later.

Finally I had a new try with mum behind the camera. Except that I was already annoyed with photographing this shawl since last time didn't work out. If you have experience in photographing knitwear, I bet you know that a sour face shows in the pictures. So, once I had a total tantrum at mum, I apologized to her and explained it was the shawl, not her. Once I got it off my chest, the pictures started coming along nicely. Sorry, and thank you mum!

The biggest issue was the shape. Just look at it! It's so long and narrow, it's nearly impossible to fit the whole thing in one picture. I dare you to try. Regardless of the challenges with the photographs, I really love the shawl. I would recommend this to anyone who likes a bit more peculiar projects.


Who thinks woolly shorts can't be hot?

"My bum freezes while  sitting in the snow," said my sister-in-law to me asking for woolly pants. Well, it so happens that I'm a knitter and can indeed grant such a wish. I headed off to find the perfect pattern and inquired about her favorite colors

How: Circular needles 2.25 mm
From: Knitlob's lair Tuulen tytär, 121 g

Right at the time she asked for woolly pants, I bumbed into a really good looking pattern for wool shorts. She told me she didn't dare to think woolly shorts could look good but sure they can if you pick the right pattern. These look even sexy.

The pattern was very simple. The pants are knit top down. First you knit a looong rib that can be kept up to keep your stomach warm or you can roll it down. After the rib you add some stitches and the rest of the pants are stockinette stitch while the ribbing continues on the sides. Few short rows make room for the booty and once the shorts are long enough, you knit a gusset and pick up stitches along it for the legs. The cuffs are knit in ribbing. Easy and good looking.

The pattern is written for just one size, M/L. My sister-in-law is size S. At first I tried to modify the stitch counts but ended up with a garment that resembeled more a cowl than something that should accomodate hips. So I scratched that and begun again this time following the pattern. To get smaller shorts, I took needles that were one size smaller. I wish I hadn't added as many stitches after the rib but they fit quite well. It's just that they could fit even better.

The most fun part of this project was learning yet another knitting language. The pattern is written in Swedish. They do teach Swedish at our schools but that was years ago and I never became fluent. I only had to resort to a dictionary a few times. It was much more fun to try to figure out the meaning from the context. The side ribbing turned out more narrow than it should because I decifered the abbrevations for knit and purl wrong. But I think you won't notice unless I tell you. Whoops.

The yarn was soft and just the right kind of semisolid. It was a pleasure to knit. I really ought to knit a few sweaters in this one. One skein was almost enough for the shorts. I ran out of yarn during the first cuff. If I'd have worked the top ribbing a bit shorter, this project would've been a one-skein-wonder.

Thank you so much, sister-in-law, for lending your bum for the photoshoot. It was a joy to knit these shorts as the gift was very much appreciated.