Aarni means old-growth forest in Finnish - and it's also the name of my new pattern. Knitting at its best can give you clarity and peace of mind so let this sweater lead you through old-growth forests and help you find yourself a quiet spot.

What: Aarni / Own pattern
How: Circular needles 3.25 and 3.75 mm
From: lanitium ex machina Suomenlammas (Finnsheep), 402 g

As a knitter, I'm always on a look out for new yarns. Last fall, at a knitting retreat I found one! A Finnish indie dyer, lanitium ex machina, had a new yarn base with her. It was glorious Finnsheep lamb's wool. Could there be anything better? And the colors were beautiful. We made a deal and I got to take four skeins with me to design a sweater. So here it is!

The yarn was so lovely and woolly that I wanted to design something pretty simple for it. The kind of sweater you can put on every morning without a thought. I started thinking about a raglan sleeved sweater with some stitch pattern in the front.

Aarni is worked top down seamlessly. First, you'll work the neckband ribbing with few short rows to give the neckline a little depth. After that, it's raglan increases and cables in the front.

I wanted to add a bit of interest for the sleeves so they have a sparse eyelet pattern in them. It's just enough to keep things interesting but happens only every few rows to not mess with your flow. The back is plain stockinette stitch.

The sleeves are 3/4 length and the cuffs and hem have a litttle ribbing. The sweater is meant to be oversized so I recommend choosing a size with about 8''/20 cm positive ease at the bust.

You can find the pattern in my Ravelry store and until Monday morning you can get 20 % off with the code LAMB.


Color work practise

Last summer at the Jyväskylä summer knit festival, I saw for the first time gorgeous silver yarn guide rings by goldsmith Sanni Lehtinen. As a silver ring was a bigger purchase I wanted to think it over for a while but once I got back to her booth she had already sold them all and was packing up her things. On the next winter knit fest I was determined not miss out on the rings so I left work early to get there on time and got myself a silver yarn guide.

What: Mīlēt / Ysolda Teague
How: Circular needle 2.5 mm + yarn guide
From: Tukuwool Fingering, 55 g

Of course I had to try out my new gadget right away! Last spring at EYF, I bought Ysolda's mitten beautiful mitten pattern and it was the perfect opportunity to try out the ring. I stash dove for some Tukuwool scraps and cast on.

The stranded color work seemed smoother and faster than usual with the help of the yarn guide ring as I didn't have to constantly stop to tighten my yarns. I got as far as the thumb but I didn't have extra yarn with me to leave the thumb stitches on hold and so the mitten was left to hibernate - as was the whole project since I had already got to try out my new gadget. You know, been there, seen that, off to something new.

I get easily bored with knitting patterns which is why I almost never make the same design twice. Mittens and socks have the downside that you kinda have to make two of them. And I'm constantly looking to learn and make something new.

In June, I finally decided to fix the situation and finished the first mitten - only to start working on the second one in October. But hey, I did finish them in the end!

These are color work mitts worked in three colors. They have a folded cuff to keep your wrists warm and majority of the mitts is easy dot pattern worked in just two colors. The best part of the mitts is definitely the gorgeous star or snowflake shape at the tip of the mitts and thumbs.

Once again it happened that once I finished the mitts they started to look like they belonged to someone else - my bff. So I gave them to her for Christmas.

After the mittens, I also tried the yarn guide ring on couple other things: sport weight and lace weight yarns. I can honestly tell you that no one should punish themselves by working lace weight stranded color work. Also, this ring was best suited for fingering weight yarns and smooth sport weight yarns. Woollier, coarser sport weights might get a bit stuck and interfere with you knitting flow.


The Opadoo

In case you were wondering, I did finish all eight tentacles.

How: Circular needle 2.0 mm
From: Hélène Magnusson Love Story Einband + Drops Lace, 8 + 24 g

This project didn't go as planned.

But let's start at the beginning. When I decided to challenge myself by taking part in the Opadoo challenge of Indie Design Gift-A-long I wanted to make it as easy as possible. I chose the projects for all eight categories based on difficulty and yardage. I wanted to finish the challenge fast.

So I bumbed into this fingerless mitts design that had a very low yardage. Plus the pictures on the pattern page were super sweet so I was sold. If you check out the pattern on Ravelry you'll see that I've tried to copycat those pics here. Although, the non-light of December tried to kill the mood.

So yes. The pattern has a very low yardage but I didn't stop to think that knitting lace weight mitts might not be the fastest or easiest project possible. Perhaps I'll keep it in mind next time.

Besides working with small needles and thin yarn hurting my hands the project had other problems. The way the colors change in the design looks gorgeous but it means working stranded color works with two lace weight yarns and long floats behind lace. With my chosen yarns it turned out a bit messy. It did tidy up a bit in blocking but not completely.

The next hurdle was the thumb gusset. This was my first time trying out an Indian thumb gusset that's said to fit the hands especially well. And it really does. The problem was that for the life of me I couldn't get the gusset to look right by following the pattern. Designing myself, I've come to see that most problems people have with knitting patterns is the lack of trust in the pattern. Most issues work themselves out if you just follow the pattern exactly as it is written. I tried that here so many times but finally gave up and did my own thing.

So the project wasn't a success. I have to say the biggest problem was the yarn combo I chose. The suggested yarn is single ply merino lace but I ended up using Drops Lace and Icelandic lace yarn. Both were way too thin and loose for this pattern which would look a lot better with a more plumpy yarn. Originally, I cast on with single ply finnsheep yarn but couldn't get the gauge. That's too bad because I think with that yarn I would've liked the end result much more.

Oh well, I gifted these to my dad's wife and she seemed to really love them.


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!