I’d rather be swatching

Writing everyday is even harder than I imagined. Yesterday the day before yesterday, I had to write a text for work and just couldn’t face writing something for the blog before I went to bed. Also, allowing myself to delay a post only worsens the problem. As if one post per day wasn’t enough! Anyway, one post for today is the least I should give you.

Instead of writing a post, I have been watching Mary Jane Mucklesone’s Craftsy class “the Fair Isle Vest”. She talks about Fair Isl knitting in general, for example: chosing the right yarn, how to arrange the colours, how to read charts, different methods to swatch and so on. Furthermore, the class is arranged around a vest design of MJM. This means that she takes you through each step of a fair isle garment and you can watch her doing all the steps before doing them yourself.

Swatch in natural and green handspun

Swatching in the round

While I like this class (as well as others that I have taken on Craftsy), I am not sure how much I like the concept of the Craftsy classes. On the one hand, it is a nice, hands-on approach where one can directly see how the teachers do the techniques. The videos can be rewatched (as long as one has an internet connection) and paused when ever needed. However, I feel that the classes have only a short amount of time committed really specialised information. To begin, a topic is covered broadly, but I usually don’t find that much that is entirely new to me. It might be because of my love of knowledge that drives me to read all those lovely blog posts of accomplished knitters (e.g. Kate Davies’ on steeks) that go into detail of what they are doing. Furthermore, I sometimes feel the shots of the techniques could be improved. While there is a camera focusing on the hands when the teacher shows something, the cuts to that camera are often after the teacher has already begun explaining. I am not sure why this is handled like this, but more than once, I called “show me what s/he’s doing” a my monitor. It is frustrating if a highly visual medium isn’t used to its fullest advantage.
Even though I have some criticism on the general format, I do enjoy the Craftsy classes. On the contrary, inspired by MJM, I started swatching Fair Isle patterns out of my handspun.

Fall is here (and Winter is coming)

Forest in the fall

By U.S. Department of Agriculture (Hapgood Pond) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

When giving me this challenge to write a post for each day in November, I hadn’t realised how much nicer a post with pictures looks and how helpful an illustrative picture can be, but now it is getting dark so early that getting those pictures is not so easy.

Of course, it is not only getting dark sooner because we turned the clock last week, but also because the northern hemisphere is directed away from the sun due to the axial tilt. This leads to the days getting shorter and the light is less intense. This is commonly known as “fall” (or autumn).

Diagram of the Earths seasons

The seasons depend on the axis tilt of the earth with respect to the sun. Beginning with the front left, depicted are (with respect to the northern hemisphere) anti-clockwise: autumn equinox, winter solstice, spring equinox, summer solstice.
By Tauʻolunga (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

From summer solstice (June, 21) to winter solstice (December, 21), the northern hemisphere gets progressively less sunlight every day. At the autumn equinox (September, 23), the periods of daylight and night are equal. This marks the beginning of autumn.

While this means the leaves are turning lovely shades of yellow, orange and brown, it also means Christmas is nearer than I want to acknowledge. Each year, at the end of summer I am proud to think about gifts early, and then I forget about them until it is November. Now, I do not tend to knit for Christmas, but thinking of gifts the recipient will love is hard for me. I like the build up to Christmas while I dread it at the same time; there are so many things to do and the time seems to fly. The short time of daylight seems to emphasise this, while it also encourages you to light a candle and knit with a cup of tea next to you.

Cardigans need buttons

The thing about cardigans is that even when all the knitting and sewing in is done, they need buttons. I knitted most of Laar two years ago. I had already bought the buttons but wasn’t sure if I should add a ribbon as stabilisation of the button band.

Laar in lilac with small white buttons

Laar – finally with buttons

In the end, I decided to go for it. I like the result and it gives the button band enough strength to hold the buttons. The stitches seemed small at the time, but they are quite visible if you look closely.

button band from the inside - ribbon visible

I like the inside as well

For Cria, it didn’t take as long to find the buttons, and I have sewn the ribbon down and started with the buttons.

Brown Cria with three green coconut buttons sewn in

Cria with the first three buttons sewn on

The ribbon matches the colour of the yarn almost perfectly and I think my future cardigans will get a ribbon at the button band as well.

Cria has a brown ribbon with brown shell buttons as backing buttons

Inside of Cria

Now I just have to sew in 16 more buttons and Cria is ready to wear!

Counting

Today, I spent a long time counting. To measure the yardage of a skein, you need to count the number of times you wound the yarn around your winding tool. To get the yardage of three skeins, I counted through several “Gilmore Girls” episodes. I have one more skein of about 400 m, so that should be enough to knit a sweater.

BFL Silk natural

Before spinning this BFL/silk blend, I dyed 100 g in greens and blues. This is meant to be the contrast colour for a fair-isle yoke. I spun all of the fibre with a long draw from fauxlags to get a light, airy 2-ply.

BFL Silk dyed

I look forward to swatching since I want to try a few different fair-isle patterns to be able to decide what works best with my yarn. I like the Freyja Sweater but will probably use a pattern that stands out more when using only two colours.

November rules

Wurmlinger Kapelle

Sight from my bike ride today

I don’t want this to be complicated for myself; I guess that one post per day will be hard enough for me. So, I will keep the rules simple:

– Each post should contain at least 100 words.

– While I want to post daily, I will allow a  window for each post (save the last post). That means that I can post a day early or late for each day, as long as the posts are still posted in november.

– There should be a topic for each post. This topic can be broad and can be anything that I want to write about, but I have to tie it together somehow

– Photos can be added without matching the topic 🙂