11/01/2019

Xenakis

I've been in the mood for colorwork lately. It's mostly manifested as just me buying yarn for colorwork projects.


What: Xenakis / Own pattern
How: Circular needle 4.0 mm
From: Retrosaria Vovó, 41 g

One of my most recent purchases was three skeins of Retrosaria Vovó, a gorgeous, rugged non-superwash wool. The label alone was enough to get me to buy the yarn as it features this amazing tattooed knitting grandma. I had a vision for a beanie and this time the vision made it all the way onto my needles.


Xenakis is a simple and fun beanie with colorwork playing with three colors. Though, there are only few rounds with all three colors to mess up your yarns. To balance those out, there's also lots of plain vanilla stockinette stitch with just one color.



The hat is topped off with a beautiful star pattern to hide the crown decreases.


As per usual, you can find the pattern in my Ravelry store and if you use the code VOVO, you can get 25% discount during this weekend.



The yarn was new to me but I really loved it. It's woolly and rugged without being harsh. Lately, I've been concentrating on non-superwash yarns - they feel so natural.


I chose the colors to suite me and designed the beanie for myself but Hubby stole it straight away. And darn, doesn't it look better on him - as if I designed for him. I didn't but he took it anyways. I guess I'll have to make myself another one.

10/20/2019

Northern night sky

I'm in the habit of always having something a bit insane on my needles. Something challenging that will take a long time to finish. This one took a year and a half from cast on to bind off.


How: Circular needles 3.25 mm
From: West Yorkshire Spinners Exquisite Lace, 116 g

I've been mesmerized by stars from an early age. You'd think I'd know a thing or two about them, but no: I can spot the Big Dipper but that's it. I've just always loved to stare at the night sky. When I was a small child, we lived in a two-storey house and our upstairs bathroom had this tiny little window. Every night when mom washed my teeth, I wanted to climb onto the water tank of the loo because from there I could just reach to look at the stars from the little window. I'm done climbing on the toilet but I still sometimes go out at night just to have a look at the night sky.


After that little story, it should come as no surprise that I gasped when I saw the Celestarium shawl on Twist Collection: it had the whole northern night sky on it! The pattern came out already in 2012 but some things take their time and this one waited for the perfect yarn and the perfect moment.


Few years ago, we were traveling on the isle of Skye and out b&b hostess told me that there was a little spinning shop just across the street! And what a lucky thing she would mention it because otherwise we would've never noticed. The shop was the cutest ever. They sold spinning fibres, handspun yarns and a few industrial yarns as well. The Exquisite Lace by West Yorkshire Spinners caught my eye right away. I knew I had finally found the perfect yarn for my Celestarium shawl. The color was the perfect ink, blueish black. And the combination of Falkland wool with silk wasn't too shabby either!


Once we got home, I took a closer look at the pattern. I knew many nerdy knitters had made their shawls with different sized beads for different sized stars. And thanks to them, the pattern page actually had a star map showing the different star sizes in color codes. So I ordered a bunch of beads. Unfortunately, some of them were way too small to use for knitting so in the end I ended up using just the plain old 8/0 and 6/0, and divided the stars into two different size classes.


If you've followed me for a while, you may know I like to not take it easy on my spare time. So when I saw this project on Ravelry featuring the Milkyway, I was sold! The star map linked on the project page doesn't work anymore but I think I used this one for help.


The Celestarium shawl pattern comes with charts pointing out beads at star locations. In addition, the pattern has a star map where the charts have been marked to help make sense of it all. I used all of these and spent half a day drawing lines between the beads to outline all the different constellations. I also wrote down the names so I could place them on the star map more easily. I marked the bigger stars so I'd remember to use the bigger beads for those. Finally, I outlined the Milkyway on all the charts.


Once I had sketched the outlines of the Milkyway I started randomly crossing out stitches inside the outlines about 4-6 stitches apart to mark down beads for the Milkyway. I used three different kind of beads: clear 8/0 beads with silver lining for the majority of stars, clear 6/0 beads for the bigger stars (I wish I had found silver lined big beads but no luck there), and clear 8/0 beads for the Milkyway.


The pattern uses beads, yarnovers and decreases to make these little holes next to the star beads For the Milkyway, I didn't make the holes so the constellations would stand out better. I think it worked out very nicely.


Since I really don't seem to be able to take it easy on my spare time, I did one more modification. The pattern gives instructions for a narrow garter stitch edging. I used a lace weight yarn instead of fingering weight and also smaller needles so I was scared the shawl wouldn't be big enough without  wider edging. Also, the star map was so delicate and beautiful it felt wrong to do just a rugged garter stitch edge. I used the edge pattern of the Evenstar shawl. The edge lace is 17-21 stitches wide, depending on the row and it's worked sideways, decreasing one shawl body stitch every two rows. Since the shawl ended up with over 800 stitches that meant over 1600 rows of edge lace. Did I mention the lace is worked on WS rows too? And did I mention, I used beads for the lace as well? 


This surely won't be everyone's cup of tea. But for me, it was a match made in heaven. I need to always have one project that requires insane amounts of concentration and patience. Something to pick up when I want to tease myself a bit. I know it doesn't sound like one, but this is a compliment. I truly enjoyed challenging myself with this shawl. There aren't that many techniques that feel difficult in knitting, so the challenge usually comes in the form of patience and concentration. Also, this shawl is one of the most beautiful things I've knitted.



Now, I need to come up with a new challenge to work on when I want to take a little break from designing.

10/12/2019

Hehku

The new Christmas edition of Finnihs TAITO magazine has not just one but two of my designs! In addition to the men's sweater, Havu, I designed a dress.


What: Hehku / Own pattern
How: Circular needles 3.5 mm
From: Tukuwool Sock, 425 + 75 g

It was very exciting to design my first men's sweater but this dress was another first. Over the past couple of years, the knitting community has been obsessed with colorwork yoke sweaters. I too wanted to try my hand at designing one.



And it was a lot of fun as a colorwork yoke calls for its own kind of math. I know most wouldn't agree with me but oh, did I love solving the equations needed here!


I designed the dress in November last year and send it to the magazine just before Christmas. I'm not blessed with a lot of patience so it was pain waiting a whole year for the pattern to be published. But if I neede patience, so did my test knitters! They too made their dresses a year ago and I applaud them for keeping the secret so long.



Hehku is a dress with a round colorwork yoke. The dress is worked seamlessly top-down and it has stranded knitting on the yoke, the cuffs and the hem. You can easily make this in sweater length but I for one have fallen in love with knitted dresses. The pattern comes with waist shaping to make it fit just right.



As the design is for Christmas, I wanted to keep the coloring quite Christmasy. Though, I want to be able to wear this at other times as well so I decorated the yoke with flowers, diamonds and nups instead of any particular Christmas pattern.


The dress has long sleeves with corrugated ribbing at the cuffs. The hem features the diamonds without nups and some corrugated ribbing. The neckline, cuffs and the hem have a few rounds of stockinette stitch that's allowed to roll up.


As I said, I made my sample a year ago and oh, how lucky I got: just as I got the dress out of blocking, we had a little snow strom and got these wintery pics taken just before I had to ship my sample to the magazine.


The last two pics are from the magazine's photoshoot. Thank you TAITO magazine. <3


Both Hehku and Havu will be available as individual downloads on Ravelry in the spring 2020.

10/11/2019

Havu

Back in spring, I got excited as I was asked to design a men's sweater for the very first time. The pattern was just published in the Christmas issue of Finnish TAITO-lehti. The pattern will be available as an individual download on Ravelry in the spring 2020.


What: Havu / Own pattern
How: Circular needles 4.5 and 5.0 mm
From: Kässäkerho Pom Pom Suoma DK, 536 g
https://www.ravelry.com/projects/annaj0hanna/havu

I eagerly excepted the challenge. Those who have been in my grading class know that I've garthered my women's measurements from several different places and I'm quite proud of my sizing charts. It wasn't quite as easy to find men's size charts on the internet. I got started with Craft Yarn Council and found a bit dusty Passeli chart in Finnish - though it only had measurements related to suits. But I like challenges and I had been thinking for a while that I should dabble in men's knits as well.


Like all the patterns in the Christmas issue, Havu was also designed for Finnish yarn. I chose a rugged, chunky Suoma DK by Kässäkerho Pom Pom. It's a DK weight yarn from 100% finnsheep wool. I figured if I'm making a men's sweater it would be a lot quicker in DK weight.


The sweater is worked seamlessly top down. The yoke is garter stitch and has a v-neck and raglan sleeves. The raglan "seams" are worked in stockinette stitch to give a nice look and a bit of texture.


As much as I like garter stitch, it would make for an awfully chunky sweater. Also, working garter stitch in the round isn't too nice as you have to purl every other round. So, after separating the sleeves, the hem of the sweater is mostly stockinette.


The other side has a purled panel with these lovely little twigs just before the ribbing.



Finally, you pick up stitches along the neckline and work a shawl collar. The collar is shaped with short rows and folded. You can fix it in place by binding off the stitches onto the WS using a crochet hook. 

Below, a few pics from the Christmas issue. Thanks to TAITO magazine for them.



At the moment the pattern is available only on the magazine and only in Finnish. In the spring 2020, Havu will be available in English on Ravelry.

10/07/2019

Tyyne and Viljo

How is already two years since I published The Girl Who Said Baa e-book? I searched for a local sheepfarm for the photoshoot of the e-book and ended up at Hakamaa sheepfarm. The knits in the e-book were all designed for Tukuwool but the owner of the farm told me they also produce yarn from their own sheep and have been working for years to get an especially beautiful sheen in their wool. It took me a couple years but I finally designed something for Hakamaa yarns. And the best thing is, I've got a batch of the yarn if you're interested. But more on that at the end of the post.


What: Tyyne / Own pattern
How: Circular needles 3.5 and 4.0 mm
From: Hakamaan lammastila 2ply, 50 + 65 g

Tyyne was born out of my desire to play with different textures. I've had my eye on stamen stitch for quite a while already and really wanted to try it out. In case you're not familiar with it, stamen stitch plays with purls and slipped stitches. 


I combined stamen stitch with garter stitch for the brim of the hat. It's a fairly simple beanie design except that there are two tucks at the back of the head to get the hat sit just right on your head. No sagging at the front or crunching at the back - expect of course for the tucks.


Tyyne pattern comes with two sizes and you can just get away with 50 grams of sport weight yarn for the smaller size. If you're a fan of huge pompoms it might be cutting close. I tried the hat with and without a pompom. The bigger size took 65 g of Hakamaa 2ply and the smaller one 50 g (with a pompom I added after the photoshoot, cause you know, pompoms!)


And in case you haven't seen this tip on the internet before, the best way to finish a pompom is to dangle it over boiling water. The steam opens up the plies and fluffs up the pompom.


What: Viljo / Own pattern
How: Circular needle 4.5 mm
From: Hakamaan lammastila 3ply, 67 g

I wanted a cohisive set so the DK-weight 3ply turned into matching mittens. They play with stamen stitch and garter stitch just like the hat.



In the mittens, there's a fun little 2 stitch cable forming a zig zag pattern breaking up the two textures. The thumbs are garter stitch.


I like to own at least two pairs of mittens: a fingering weight pair for use all fall and spring along, and a thicker, DK weight pair for crisp winter days when the temperature sinks below 10 celsius degrees. You could also fit lightweight gloves inside these if you need the extra warmth.


The Hakamaa sheepfarm yarns have been spun at Pirtin kehräämö (a Finnish spin mill) into sport weight 2ply and DK weight 3ply yarns. As a friend of warm and woolly things, this kind of local yarn is a true luxury to me. I also have a small batch of the yarns to sell if you're interested in trying them. My webshop only works in Finnish at the moment but if you're keen on ordering the yarn, email me and I can write you an invoice. Both yarns cost 9 € per 50 g skein and if you buy two skeins with the matching pattern the whole kit is just 19.90 €.