Knitter's rucksack

How come? Because this backpack can easilly accomodate a huge knitted dress in progress as well as half a blanket's worth of yarn. Not that I bought half a blanket's wort of yarn. Nope, not me. Nu-uh...

How: Sewing machine
From: Linen-cotton from Almandiini + canvas and wool from Eurokangas, metal parts from Kangaskapina

Even though I'm sewing all the time, I've wanted to keep this blog as a knitting blog. But every once in a while I do happen to sew something especially well suited for a knitter - like this backpack.

The whole thing started when I spotted on Instagram that the knitwear designer Joji Locatelli had made this backpack. Right away, I had to find out who designed the pattern for the bag. It didn't take long till I had purchased the pattern not only for the backpack but also for a handbag / project bag, and at the same time I was already adding the metal parts needed to my shopping basket at another web shop. First thing Monday morning I went to my local fabric store to get the lining and canvas, and Tuesday evening, I had my backpack finished. That escalated quickly.

So I spotted a really cute backpack and I knew from experience (I've made a weekend back before) that I can manage this. I knew from my previous bag project where I could buy all the metal parts and fusible interface. I followed the pattern otherwise but just kind of winged it with the interface pieces trying to make them work from scraps. And because of that, I accidentally used the thickest interface for the front of the bag and not the back piece which would have needed it the most. Oh well. And, since I clearly learned nothing from the first bag I made, I repeated my mistake of buying thick fabrics and still adding thick interface to them. My sewing machine was crying a bit but did manage to pull through. Luckily the messiest stitches could be hid inside the bag.

The backpack has a fun cylinder shape. The bottom is sturdy canvas and the main fabric is lovely japanise linen-cotton mix from Almandiini. Because this was a fall project, I definitely wanted to have wool lining. It was a bit too sturdy for easy sewing but helps the backpack keep its shape. The lining fabric was also used for the straps. There's a folded zipper pocket in the front and a small open pocket inside. I was thinking of adding a laptop pocket inside but didn't want to try mods so soon into the project. Hubby ordered a backpack of his own and of course wants a padded laptop pocket - so I will get to make that modification after all.

I really like the shape of the backpack. The cylinder shape makes it possible to fold at different heights - depending on how much stuff you have inside, and the D-link closure is very pretty. The backpack seems much roomier than those store bought ones. Yesterday at the knit night of my LYS, the bag fitted nicely 600 grams knitted dress, two magazines and half a blanket's worth of yarn. Someone might ask if it's sensible to be starting a new blanket when my Beekeeper's quilt has been waiting two years for me to thread in the ends. That someone is politely asked to keep quiet and let me cast on for my new blanket.

I just wanted to add that the pattern was excellent. It had good clear sketches of every stage and I feel the sewing was quite easy. That's good, since I already have two more bags to make for Christmas.


Twill and plain

Because I know myself pretty well, I knew I'd spend most of my summer holidays working on new designs. Therefore, I made a conscious decision in the spring that I would take a little holiday from designing before my actual holidays. Just enough to knit one sweater with someone else's pattern. 

How: Circular needles 2.5, 3.5 and 4.0 mm
From: Madelinetosh Merino Light (and a few meters of Skein Queen Crush), 430 g

What else would a knitwear designer idolize except of course other designers? For the longest time, I've been admiring a Polish designer, Marzena Kolaczek on Instagram. She knits with other designers' patterns, designs her own patterns, writes a knitting blog (in Polish but Google translate works quite well here), has a yarn shop, and to top it all off, dyes her own yarns as well. Not to mention that there's the husband who really knows what he's doing with the camera. And to add to all this, our knitwear aesthetics are really similar. As you can probably tell, I'm quite the fan girl.

I've been dreaming of making one of her designs for quite some time already. So once I made the decision to take a little break from designing, I knew who's design to pick. And one of Marzena's most recent designs, the Twill and plain pullover had been calling my name loud and clear. Luckily, I've switched from buying lonesome sock yarns to buying sweater quantities, so I did have enough yarn in my stash - four skeins of Madelinetosh Merino Light. As I was packing for a work trip in the middle of the night, there wasn't an opportunity to go shopping for new yarn. I tell you, having a stash of 30 kg is the best thing!

This project was super interesting but I wouldn't call it relaxing holiday knitting. Nu-uh. But I'm the type of knitter that enjoys challenges.

The sweater started with working the front piece from side to side to achieve the gorgeous twill texture. This sweater was kind of a combination of weaving and knitting. The weaved-like texture was done with slipped stitches, slipping with the yarn in front. And, there was the extra challenge of slipping stitches also on the wrong side - this time with the yarn in back. And, of course to achieve the chevron pattern, the placement of the slipped stitches was constantly changing. Doesn't sound very relaxing now does it? Well, it wasn't but it was amazing in so many other ways.

Once the front panel was finished, stitches were picked up to continue knitting upwards shaping the neckline at the same time. This part was worked in linen stitch, so more slipped stitches with the yarn in front.

The shoulders were shaped with short rows and the back of the sweater was plain vanilla, stockinette stitch. Actually, the pattern instructed to join the back and front only at the hem but I figured a few more challenges wouldn't be too bad. So, I calculated rough estimates for my tension in the front piece twill texture and the stockinette from the shoulders, and figured out how often I should work the edge stitches together. I'm all for 'join as you go'  instead of 'work 40 cm of stockinette stitch straight'. Every time you pause to measure, it's  a mystery: first you're missing 10 cm but then you work a few rows and measure again, and now you're missing 11 cm. I like how joining as you go shows the progress you're making. Plus, I hate seaming.

Once I finished the part requiring concentration, the marathon begun. Because, a folded hem requires twice as much ribbing as a regular hem. And that's not all folks: the hem was sewn into place. During another work trip, I spent 5 hours at Edinburgh airport sewing the sweater hem while waiting for  my plane which happened to be 5 hours late. And hey, I hear you, why didn't I just do a regular ribbing or use three needle bind off? Well.. If I'm totally honest, it was precisely these lovely folded cuffs and hem that made me want to have this piece in my wardrobe. And, I've tried the three needle bind off with folded hems but it easily gets too tight and this sweater really needed to be loose and relaxed. So, it was a ton of work but totally worth it. The only thing that bothered me a bit was that there were no instructions on how long a tail I should cut for the sewing. I measured a tail three times round the hem but still it run out just a few cm before finishing.

And just as I was finishing the sleeves, I got to play yarn chicken and lost. Even though, Tosh Merino Light skeins are almost always over weight, I still ran out of yarn. Of course, I had bought the skeins years ago and my LYS didn't have this color at the moment. Also, with hand dyed yarn, the colors can vary quite a bit between dye lots, and I had no intention on waiting for a month or so to finish this sweater. Alas, a stroke of luck: my LYS amazingly had almost the exact same color in a totally different yarn base by a totally different dyer, and I was saved. It was a bit irritating to start the backup skein just for the last two rows of the second sleeve and the neckband but I'm sure I'll find something to knit with the rest of it.

Now, what did we learn from all of this? A) I don't advertise myself being a masochist knitter for nothing as I really seem to enjoy challenges even with my holiday knitting. B) Different stitch patterns can eat up surprising amounts of yarn. C) Apparently, even this queen of uncolors can feel at home in colorful knits. D) What a gorgeous sweater! Truly, I have to say, this marathon post isn't intended as complaints of any kind. The length of the post is due to this being the most interesting project in a while. This wasn't a mindless TV knit but I enjoyed it immensely, and now I have this lovely merino armor to keep me warm once the sweater weather hits.


Mystery for the fall

I have some super exciting news! Scrap yarn sock yarn advent calendar was the most popular thing on this blog and one of my favorite things as well. Back then, the blog was only in Finnish but the calendar was in both languages. And now, I'm kind of getting back to those roots releasing my very first shawl mystery knit-a-long.

The idea is to have a shawl KAL which will last for about a month. But the design is a total mystery to you all. But if I may say so myself, it's pretty awesome!

The pattern is up for graps on Raverly from here on out. For now, there's only a pdf including all the prior information you will need: needle size, yardage and so on. And then, on Wednesday September 12th, you will get the first clue.

Most shawl MKALs have four to five clues that are updated once a week. Shake it up is a bit different. The shawl has 13 clues and the alloted time depends on the amount of knitting that's needed to complete each clue. The schedule for the clues is the following:
    1st clue: September 12th
    2nd clue: September 14th
    3rd clue: September 15th
    4th clue: September 16th
    5th clue: September 18th
    6th clue: September 20th
    7th clue: September 23rd
    8th clue: September 25th
    9th clue: September 27th
    10th clue: September 29th
    11th clue: October 4th
    12th clue: October 8th
    13th clue: October 12th
      You can join in on the chat at Where we once knitted Ravelry group where there'll be individual threads for each clue. You can also share your progress on social media with the tags #wwokmkal #shakeitupmkal.

      So you'd like to know something about the design and the yarns needed? I'm not saying a word about the shawl but I can tell you that you'll need US 4 (3.5 mm) or US 5 (3.75 mm) circular needles. You will need fingering weight yarn in three colors, one skein each. If you're worried about the yardage, don't be: there will be information in the pattern after each clue about how much of each color you should have left. I'd recommend going for three different colors but such that they have something in common - speckles for example.

      And I haven't even told you the best part! I teamed up with two Finnish indie dyers. ikke yarns and lanitium ex machina have promised to dye three skein sets especially for Shake it up shawl. The sets will be in their webshops on the first week of September.

      Who's in?



      Exciting things happening in the world of yarn: A Finnish yarn shop started making a new yarn, a single ply fingering weight finnsheep yarn - handdyed as well. Of course, I had to get a sweater quantity right away. Now, my only regret is that I only got one sweater quantity to start with since I fell head over heels in love with the yarn. I also designed a sweater pattern for it.

      What: Lauha / Own pattern
      How: Circular needle 3.5 mm
      From: Suoma Single, 215 + 10 g

      I've heard a few times from my fellow knitters that I have really romantic style when it comes to knits. This time I'm owning up to that style. I knew right away that I wanted to design a delicate, gentle sweater with contrast color lace trimmings. The name of the design also means something gentle. Lauha is a Finnish word for the gentle warmer weather in the spring that makes the snow melt.

      Lauha is classic Henley sweater, the kind with buttons in front. The sleeves are a combination of saddle shoulders and raglan sleeves. The sweater is worked top down and it all starts with making two shoulder flaps from which to pick up stitches for the body that is worked in one piece.

      Lauha is first worked flat because of the front opening but once the button bands are done, the rest of the body is worked in the round. The sleeves are extra long on purpose and the cuffs and the hem have a few rows of garter stitch and a picot bind off.

      Once the main color sweater is finished, you will pick up sts from the wrong side of the hem and cuffs and work a few rows of easy and pretty lace in a contrast color.

      Lauha is designed for the new Suoma Single by Kässäkerho Pom Pom which they kindly sponsored for this design work. Their web shop is in Finnish but if you'd like to try the yarn, just send them email and they'll help you out in English. I have to tell you the yarn is awesome. I've tried finnsheep yarns before but never single ply. It's woolly yet so soft. And, I'm in love with these powdery handdyed colors.

      The fingering weight Suoma is also light as air. My finished sweater doesn't weight even 250 grams! If you make your Lauha sweater in some other yarn, you might need more yarn as this one is a special case being so light. For me, this yarn instantly jumped to my top5 favorite yarns and I'll be needing plenty more sweaters in it. Their yarn stock is limited at the moment but right now, this Friday, they're having a web shop update with more Suoma Single in it.

      As for the sweater pattern, you can find it on Ravelry. It has my usual nine sizes, XXS-XS-S [M1-M2-L1] L2-XL-XXL, and the pattern is available in both English and Finnish. I recommend you choose a size with 2'' / 5 cm positive ease at the bust.

      During this weekend, you can get a 25 % discount by using the the code SUOMA in your Ravelry shopping cart.