Where to draw the line between a shawl and a blanket?

Nowadays, knitting shawls is all about size. A good shawl is big enough to wrap around you a couple hundred times, and it takes at least three skeins of yarn. And I too am very much into shlankets.

What: Elevate / Susanne Sommer
How: Circular needle 4.5 mm
From: Tukuwool Fingering, 735 g

Issue 5 of Laine magazine had Susanne Sommer's rectangular shawl which combined some of my favorite things: garter stitch and two-color brioche. I took one look at that huge shawl design and decided on that instance that it could easily be modified into a blanket for our sofa.

Right away, I knew I wanted to knit this blanket in Tukuwool. It's so wonderfully woolly, and very affordable for a blanket project. Because a blanket will eat up some serious amounts of yarn. I pondered for a moment for the perfect color combo for our living room and ended up choosing my favorite Tuku color, Ruura. I already had a decent amount of it in my stash which was a big plus. It needed a partner in crime so I bought six skeins of the fox colored Repo. I also had a few skeins of Repo at home but still ran out of yarn.

The shawl design was huge as it was but I wanted a decent-size blanket for two adults. My first modification was choosing bigger needles. The shawl - or blanket in my case - starts at one corner with increases next to the brioche edge. I did a couple extra increases before moving onto the brioche prallelograms at the center of the blanket.

The blanket has five parallelograms at the center with every other of them with the colors flipped. I found a note on my phone that I added a few repeats to the smaller parallelograms but it seems I forgot to do the same for the bigger ones. Hence, the size difference is quite small. Oh well, these mods were plenty enough to turn this shawl into a big blanket.

I started the project in August. In the beginning it grew fast as I was eager to get on with this new project and learn something new. Thing slowed down after the first few parallelograms. Finally, at Christmas I took a little break from designing and decided it was about time to finish the blanket. Oh, how happy I was once I finished the last parallelogram and thought the rest would go fast. It turns out that if you happen to have hundreds of stitches on your needles and only decrease two on every other row it might take some time.

In the beginning of January I took the blanket along as car knitting on our way to Helsinki and I finally got to decrease the last couple of stitches. I took out the magazine just to check how to bind off the last stitches... only to notice for the very first time that there was an i-cord bind off around the blanket still to be worked! How long did that take, you ask? Let's not even go there. The important thing is that the blanket is now done and I love it.

So be it that there was a whole lot more knitting than I anticipated. But now the blanket is finished - and it actually came together rather quickly. I lovelovelove it. I didn't measure the blanket but let me tell you it's more than enough for two adults lying on our couch. No more fighting over one blanket.

If I every once in a while would like to skip blocking, this one really needed it. The brioche edge has such a different gauge than the garter stitch part that the edges really needed to be blocked properly. Our foyer was just big enough to fit the blanket on the floor to dry.



Last spring, a friend asked if I would be interested in desgining something from her yarns. Both of us had a few hickups and the release of the design got a bit delayed but hey, you didn't know it was coming so you didn't know we were running late.

What: Mona / Own pattern
How: Circular needle 3.5 mm
From: Langanlumous Merino/Bamboo, 243 g

I pondered a while over her lovely yarns and surprised myself by choosing something with actual colors (you know me and my obsession with neutrals). The deep purple and light pink with yellow speckles worked together really nicely. I instantly thought of brioche.

The shawl has alternating sections of two-color brioche and one-color lace. The brioche sections are worked like a triangular shawl with increases at the edges and at the center. The lace has increases only at the edges to keep it nice and simple.

I wanted to use the darker color to frame the shawl so the edges have an i-cord with the purple color that's also used for the lace sections. Usually, with two-color brioche the lighter color is the main color but I felt this way the shawl had a nicer contrast. As the i-cord was looking so nice, I wanted to kinda frame the brioche sections with it all around so there's a few rows of reverse stockinette stitch to give the same vibe. I really like how it slices the shawl into clean sections.

The last brioche section has a cute scalloped gingerbread edge. Finally, the shawl is finished off with an i-cord bind off. The pattern has a tip for blocking to keep the scalloped edge beautifully round.

The shawl got its name from the dyer, Mona. As I feel it turned out just as happy and bubbly as she is. Mona has also dyed some yarn kits for the shawl and if you buy one from her you will get the pattern for free. Otherwise, you can find the pattern on Ravelry.


Tiny knits for a tiny person

One of the best things in life is when you get to be a godparent to child. As a godmother, I'm assuming I have to right to loose all control when it comes to Christmas presents. This time, I made two little knits for our little goddaughter.

How: Circular needle 4.0 mm
From: Kässäkerho Pom Pom Donegal DK + scrap yarns, 106 + 24 g

One category in the Indie Design Gift-A-long is garments: cardigans, sweaters and dresses. And of course, being a statistician, I had to optimize. You see, the rules state that kids' clothes are ok as long as they're not for a 1 year old or younger. If they are, they're counted in the baby category. So I was very happy to run into this lovely little pattern for which the smallest size was 2 years. And even better, I just so happen to have a one year old goddaughter so it'll be perfect for the spring or next fall.

The design is a cute and simple cardigan with color work yoke and sweet little pockets. My stash had just enough mint colored DK tweed yarn for the main color and then all I had to do was to dig up some scrap yarns for the color work.

I'm more than happy about the beautiful scrap yarn gradient from dark purple to sassy pink I managed to find. I haven't been holding on to the smallest left overs for nothing.

And hey, how cute is that cardigan!

How: Circular needle 2.75 mm
From: Kässäkerho Pom Pom Donegal Tweed, 34 g

For the baby category I found this sweet little elf cap. The pattern was really nice. It had several options for the edging - and of course I just had to go for the most difficult one with twisted purls...

If the edge took its sweet time the rest of the hat flew off the needles. A big reason  for that was the yarn. The tweed yarn felt like melted butter. I don't think I've ever tried a softer yarn than this one.

I'm really bad at tossing away left over yarns. I hold on to the smalles little scraps thinking that one day I'll figure out a use for these. And today was one of those days! I had more of the yellow yarn so I worked the edge with it and then started striping 3 rounds stripes as far as the grey would last. I did run out of the grey yarn just before the end but that's fine because there's this funny little knot on top and it kinda hides the fact that the yarn ran out.

At first I thought I don't know any baby to give this to. But since it almost fit me (let's not go to those pics!) I figured it would be just perfect for our goddaughter.


Jean next door

My mother’s mother went to school right next door to Ainola, the home of the famous Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. My grandmother call him Jean next door.

What: Jean next door / Own pattern
How: Circular needle 2.25 mm
From: PetrichorYarns Sox, 60g

I had the great honor of designing a sock pattern for the first leg of Sukka Finlandia, a Finnish version of Tour de Sock.

The socks are worked cuff down. There is a handsom cable in the back that goes all the way over the heel flap. The front is simple ribbing. Because it's a competition and you're meant to have a bit of fun and perhaps try something new, I placed the gusset decreases on top of the instep.

You will pick up stitches from the edges of the heel flap, business as usual. But those stitches are used for working cables so I had to place the decreases somewhere else. And placed on top of the sole, the decreases slowly gather the cables closer to each other until they meet at the middle of the instep, ending just before the toes.

The pattern has three sizes, 60-68-72 sts. It's also possible to work the sock two at a time using the magic loop method - at least until the toes. But then one must remember to pick up the stitches from the heel flaps onto the instep needle.

Since the competition is hosted by a Finnish yarn shop, Lentävän lapanen, that's located in Järvenpää I instantly thought of Jean Sibelius (he's from there). Or to be more precise, I instantly thought of this memory of my grandmother. In her old days, she and my grandfather went to the movies to see a movie about Jean Sibelius. Afterwards, I heard her say that Jean next door was nothing like in the movie. I've been waiting for a chance to use this story as an inspiration for a design and now I finally got my wish. I also think it's quite fitting as the socks are pretty much unisex for my taste. So, they could be made for a man as well.

Now, I'll eagerly wait and see who's the fastest knitter of this first leg of the race!


Drunken cables

I've been knitting more tentacles for my octopus. If that sounds strange you can read the explation here.

What: Drunken sailor socks / Emily Wood
How: Circular needle 2.25 mm
From: Invictus Yarns Unconquerable Sole BFL, 81 g

These are a handsome pair of socks but I must say they're a rather ambitious project. But let's start from the beginning. I wanted to surprise a friend by knitting him a pair of socks for Christmas. At the same time, I was taking part in the Indie Design Gift-A-long Opadoo challenge where I needed to finish a project in all eight KAL categories from at least five different designers.

I was originally going to make a totally different pair of socks but I only realized after buying the pattern that it only included one size which wasn't big enough for men's socks. I had had my eye on this design as well but I could tell from the gorgeous cables that these would take quite a lot of effort to make.

Actually in the end, the squirming cable was the most clear part of the stitch pattern. There was so much going on in these socks: the cables running down the side of the socks, another chart for the back of the leg, some stitches with only written instructions, all of the stitch patterns running at different paces and to top it off: twisted stitches worked on every other round.

As I cast on, I was nervous thinking that these socks would take forever to make. Imagine my surprise as I learned all the stitch patterns after just a few rows! I couldn't believe it but the socks were a really nice and easy knit.

And look how pretty they are! So, if you like your socks with cables and charts and three other stitch patterns, I can really recommend this pattern.


Gnoming like there's no tomorrow

I usually knit clothes. You know, knits with a clear purpose that get lots of use. I've crocheted a couple toys but generally, I don't knit toys or decorative items. But it seems that when I do, I go for it whole-heartedly.

How: Circular needles 3.5 and 3.75 mm
From: Scrap yarns, 118 g

A year ago, I participated in the Indie Design Gift-A-long for the first time and everyone was crazy about these gnomes. I didn't really care for them myself. Who needs a knitted gnome?

But you know how it goes. You look at something long enough and it starts to make sense. Actually, this new even prettier gnome design had me waiting for Christmas eagerly as this time I intended to hop on the gnome train.

I started out with a traditional red gnome. I found a lovely rustic alpaca blend in red and oatmeal color in my leftover yarn stash. For such a small knit there was an awful lot of knitting to be done. It starts off with the cap and once that's finished, you pick up stitches below the brim to work the body. Finally, you knit a beard in the contrast color and i-cords for the hands. These are both sewn into place.

The gnome isn't very big but both the cap and body have cables all over them which meant I had to stare at the work and the charts constantly. That's what made it feel like a handful.

However, the project was every bit worth of the trouble. The finished gnome is so cute I can't even. It didn't look like anything before the beard but once that is sewn on the gnome wakes up instantly. I had a hard time letting go of the first gnome but I did end up gifting it to my dad.

The second gnome felt a lot easier and the third one flew off the needles in two days and felt like a breeze already. I still have plenty of scrap yarns so I think there might be a lot more gnomes next Christmas.

The gnomes were filled with polyester. It was also suggested to use some pellets to help the gnome from falling. For the first gnome, I didn't have the energy go searching for polyester pellets at a hobby store so that one is a bit too light and tends to fall. For the other two, I realized I could use something we already have at home and filled an old sock with rice. That seemed to work very well.

In my childhood, one of the most magical moments every Christmas was the getting out all the Christmas decorations. My mom's great uncle had made her some wooden elves each with their own personalities and activites. Some were holding notes for Christmas carols, others were skiing etc. And my grandma had an even bigger collection of those elves. It was such great fun going through the elves and seeing what each of them was doing. I wanted to relive my childhood and needed to come up with some different activities for our gnomes as well.

I had seen more than one cute knitting gnome in the Gift-A-long group on Ravelry so that was a no brainer. It would have been easy to knit a little scarf beginning with my 2.0 mm needles and then just slip the stitches onto toothpicks. But I'm not in the habit of letting myself easy so I actually knitted this little garter stitch piece with the toothpicks and I wouldn't recommend that to anyone. The toothpicks stuck to the yarn and were a pain in many other ways as well. But hey, my gnome has an authentic knit in his hands!

I had to come up with something else for the second gnome. Our local newspaper had just the right size columns so I made him his own newspaper with a report from the police. He looks like a detective or a spy himself, don't you think?


Crooked stripes

What: Slanted stripes Andrea Rangell
How: Circular needle 5.0 mm
From: Handspun Pigeonroof Studios BFL/Silk + Triskelion Elmet, 46+ 29 g

For some reason, in the Gift-A-long shawls and other neck things have been separated into two categories. So, in order to tame the octopus I needed knit a shawl and a cowl.

I dove straight into the deep end and fell in love with this huge stranded colorwork thing that some might also call a cowl. After a while I came to my senses and realized that I needed a whole lot quicker project in order to tame the octopus that is the eight categories of the GAL. Luckily, I happened to run into this simple little cowl by the same designer. Though, I will definitely want to make the colorwork thing one day!

This cowl is designed for two yarns: a neutral solid gray and lovely, lively green-blue yarn. The colorful yarn is something I was drooling over at the Spincycle yarns booth at Edinburgh Yarn Fest last spring. It's super pretty. The yarn is made to have colors behave as if it was handspun. It was also quite expensive so I didn't buy it - though I really really wanted to. Luckily I happen to spin myself so I did have the real thing in my stash.

I had a couple of options but in the end I chose this lovely BFL/silk mix from Pigeonroof Studios with the colors running from yeallow to brown and orange. I paired it up with wonderfully woolly Triskelion Elmet in a color that reminds me of wheat fields.

The cowl was every bit as relaxing as I hoped. It's worked in the round with decreases at one end and increases at the other which made the stripes slanted. Also, the width of the stripes kept changing. That's it. I only wish I would've picked smaller needles as this turned out a bit too loose.