Catching Up

It’s been a while, I know. But there was quite a bit going on here at the Moley headquarters (or hatquarters, as my husband likes to say). And I didn’t really feel like posting a new post, to be honest. My holiday season was quite stressful because I kept on finishing Christmas presents for the whole family. I gifted five pairs of socks (one stranded knitting pair and one pair in size EU 48/US 14!) and a hat. Perhaps I should try the gift-buying thing next year, it might bring some peace to the pre-holiday season.

Ever since 2016 started (and my mind still hasn’t caught up with that fact!) I have been having regrets about 2015. About not finishing enough things. About not doing enough stuff. About life in general I suppose. But this is a knitting blog, so I try to keep it on topic.
I guess up until now I measured my “knitting progress” in amount of finished garments per year. The reason must be that my initiative for knitting in the first place was custom fit sweaters. In 2014 I knitted 6 garments for myself, 3 of which were so successful that I wore them every time it was cold enough to do so (or even if it wasn’t).

So thinking about 2015, I felt like I hadn’t accomplished a single thing. I hadn’t finished six garments, not even four. I knit two sweaters, a semi-successful cardigan and a vest, and I fixed up one from the “reject pile” of 2014, so I could wear it. So not very much to wear in my wardrobe. Imagine my surprise when I rounded up my handknits of 2015 for the photo below and realized that I had started 22 projects of which I finished 18, frogged two and the other are still WIPs.

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And there are 11 shawls in that pile, of the 13 I knit last year (more like shawl-like neck-thingies but most of them actually shawls). That means I knit more than one shawl a month, which is quite a feat where I’m concerned. Apparently, when I mentioned to my friend M. sometime last summer that I was “on a shawl-kick” I didn’t realize how right I was.

What makes me most happy about this pile, however, is that there are four of my own designs in there. I know, none of them have actually been released yet. And M. keeps reminding me of that, too. I need to change that ASAP but I am too much of a perfectionist to release just some written up pages. I want a proper style sheet with good pictures of my designs, so it will look like an actual pattern to me. I will get to it, it just takes a bit for me. It is more of a process than I realized when I started out and I am teaching it all to myself.
One more hiccup is that back in 2014 I changed to a unix-based system, away from the Windows PC I had been using since my childhood and finding decent software for layouting and, finally, being able to use it are two different shoes.
Anyway, I am not here to whine about computer problems. I am actually quite happy with my progress in 2015 and very much look forward to what 2016 has in store for me.

It already brought me two finished pairs of socks (yes, really!) and I started knitting with this beautiful yarn:
Shibori Islington
It is Kettle Yarn Co. Islington Fingering, a delicious BFL/silk blend that was dyed in the shibori technique using real indigo. It was a one-off colourway and I was able to snatch up two skeins when I saw her post on Instagram. Unfortunately it makes the tips of my fingers very blue while knitting but I really like its smell somehow. It is a really special experience to knit with it and I am trying to do it justice with a new design.

Hopefully, your 2016 was off to a wonderful start as well and you enjoyed your holiday season! I leave you on the ominous note that there are some great news coming up next week that I have been waiting to share for aaaages.

Sashiko

Have you girls heard of sashiko (pronounced saʃi’ko) before? It’s a special kind of embroidery, having been used in Japan for almost two centuries already to enforce tears and holes in clothing.
It is actually just a running stitch, executed very neatly and with equal tension and stitch length. Traditionally, it was done with undyed cotton thread on indigo-dyed fabric. Nowadays, it is used more decoratively on linen and cotton fabrics alike. The patterns are still mostly the same and are just so beautiful that I couldn’t resist this book we got in store last week.

Also pictured is the one sock I just finished!

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Travel knitting

Hi friends,
tomorrow my husband accompanies me on a business trip that takes 5 days. Afterwards we’re planning on staying a little longer so we can have a look around town. I love city trips, there is always so much to see and experience!

Anyway, to avoid packing my suitcase (I’m one of those last minute packers), I started thinking about which projects to take with me on the journey. For my last road trip – which was also a business trip – I took a shawl and a sweater with me. It turned out that I mostly knit on the shawl because I didn’t have to constantly check my pattern, I had to reach a certain number of repeats.

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Most of my WIPs
My current shawl project is Icterine by Hunter Hammersen out of Kauni. It’s the yellow shawl in the upper picture. I wanted to try one of the Curls and hadn’t knit cables in a while, so this was ideal. But it is nearing its completion with only 30-something grams of yarn left.

That’s why, pondering over the upcoming trip, I cast on another shawl.
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It’s the start of a Lumen by Sivia Harding and I started knitting it with the yarn that I swapped last year, two skeins of Loft. Yes, the original Brooklyn Tweed Loft! (I don’t have to give you the link to their website, do I?) It’s so hard to come by here in Europe, the only yarn store that carries it is Loop in London and frankly, current exchange rates don’t entice to order there. I feel really privileged to be able to knit with it.

…and boy, does this yarn live up to its reputation.
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Look at that sheepiness. It’s soft and strong at the same time. I expected the yarn to break a bit during knitting because usually I’m a tight knitter. But perhaps I handle this yarn differently, I have yet to experience anything of the fragileness that other people described. We’ll see, I’m far from done and this shawl wants to be blocked in the end, too.

I had planned to pack the baby blanket that I started sometime last week but since I totally depend on a chart for that, it’s unlikely that I work on that one.

This will also be the first time that I take my knitting with me on the plane. It’s a domestic flight so I should be ok, right?

How are you packing for trips or vacations? Do you also think about your projects first? (That feels like a slogan on a sticker, “PROJECTS FIRST!” :D)

If you are interested in my journey, you can catch up with me on Instagram while I’m gone!

5 things I enjoyed this week

This past week was pretty busy for me and next week will be more so, but I wanted to take the time to write down a few things that I particularly enjoyed.

1. Reducing my stash
Although it doesn’t sound like it, cleaning out and reducing my yarn stash was infinitely fun and even a little liberating. Because I spontaneously decided to do so, the few hours it took flew by. I got to see everything I own, and edited out the skeins of yarn that I didn’t want to knit with anymore.
Like those skeins I got because I liked the fabric content, but not the colour. I always wanted to dye them over but never got around to do it. Or sock yarn that was an impulse buy (and who doesn’t have one or two of those skeins lying around?). In the end, there was a whole box filled with things that I could sell or give away.

2. Cleaning out a closet
This one proved really tricky and is unusual for me. I hate cleaning or sorting through things. But at my parents’ house, I still had an old closet filled with clothes and since my mother wants to use that bedroom for other purposes, I had to clean it out. This task took me several days to complete, deciding which clothes I still like and want to keep and which ones to give away. It was hard but afterwards I had five sacks of clothing to give to goodwill. It was a good feeling to not throw them away and to know they somebody, somewhere will still wear them. I even thanked the lady at the goodwill store, omitting that I thanked her for accepting my clothes. I guess she wondered what a strange person I was.

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Usually I use this photo backdrop for yarn, so please excuse the sheep hair everywhere!

3. Being surprised
Usually, on my way back from my workplace, to my car, I call my husband. It’s a little catch-up for not talking to each other for a whole day. On Thursday, he said he had a little surprise for me. I hate surprises and love them at the same time. I hate the anticipation, I’m much too impatient to wait on a particular date or time to receive something or be told something. But I will love the result, the gift or the new knowledge.
Anyway, the husband surprised me with a necklace that was on my wishlist! I gave him the link before Christmas, because usually he doesn’t know what to get me. I don’t blame him – I’m difficult to shop for – so wishlists it is. But I was really surprised that he remembered the list and got me something that was on it. Also, this was the first time he got me jewelry since he got our wedding bands, so this is really special to me.

4. Childhood treats
I really don’t know what made me remember this, but the other day when I was grocery shopping I went by a particular sweet that we had often during our childhood. There were those chocolate marshmallows called “Dickmanns” and we used to heat them up in the microwave and eat them. During my teenage days someone told me that you could eat them as a spread, too and that’s what I did today:
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5. Packing up
In the background of the last photo, you can see all the packing supplies I used this week. I got rid of most of the skeins of yarn this week by selling and mailing them. I love packing boxes and including little notes, so the recipient will look forward to unpacking his shipment. For the last one, I even plan on wrapping it like a gift, so it will hopefully be a nice surprise in the buyer’s mailbox.

Was there anything that you enjoyed this week? Lately I try to appreciate the little things, to make this never ending winter a little brighter.

Why do we DIY? (Sarah edition)

Recently I ran into many people asking me, “Why do you knit this? You know that you can buy that too, right?” And to be honest, they hurt quite a bit. I know that I like knitting and will continue to do so, no matter what they say. But the recent discussion around that infamous article in a German online magazine got me thinking. Of course I was a little offended but most of all I couldn’t understand her point of view.

Why wouldn’t you make things yourself? No matter if you call these makers names like “wifey” or think they have no mind for sexual equality. Disregarding the
fact that most of us actually are interested in politics, what we do as a hobby should be seen totally apart from that, right?

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Darn you, Stephen West!

He did it again! Every year there’s a shawl mystery knit-along. And every year I try to resist. But Mr. Westknits always charms me in. This fourth year it is even worse, I don’t even remember reading the description of the shawl before buying the pattern!
And all because he recommended Madelinetosh for this. I just finished a shawl in their quality Tosh Merino Light (or TML for short) and it’s heavenly! Seriously, I totally understand what the craze is about concerning this yarn. The colours have incredible depth, it is soft, shines like it would contain silk and almost knits itself. What more could you want?

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Things other than knitting

There are many non-knitting things going on around here lately! Here’s tonight’s leftovers of another upcoming project of mine.
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This is what our floor looked like before I tidied it all up. A huge heap of paper, white bits and blue bits and darker green bits. My mother was so not amused when she heard I was doing this. Her comment was, “Why do can’t you do anything the ordinary way? Does everything have to be extraordinary?” It took me a bit to swallow that question but my final answer is, yes, it has to be special for me. Every. Little. Bit. It’s just the way my head works.

And another sneaky bit!
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A little oval box that I painted with blackboard paint, so it’s easier to write on later. Which reminds me, I still need a chalk pen. (Note to self: Start a list so you don’t have to go shopping every day!) All that’s left is a ribbon that I don’t know how to put on it. :D

On a different note, it’s officially summer now! What are your plans? We want to go away for a week at the beginning of July but other than that, I hope for a nice, long, relaxing summer.

Some exciting things happening

The most exciting thing that happened in all of April was… a yarn exchange. You read that right, there is a nice women from the States who offered to exchange some yarn with me. We were going for something like 5 skeins each and then just send it to the other. Instead, we went a bit overboard and I might’ve asked for a sweater quantity of Loft somewhere along the way. I decided differently in the end, but more on that later.

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“Oh, it’s that time again!”

That’s what my boyfriend answered on Wednesday evening when I told him that I was sick of knitting sleeves.
He might have also called it “phase four”. I didn’t even know there were phases! He explained that there was always a point when I would be sick of the thing I was currently knitting and complaining that I was sick of the garment/sock/etc.
Don’t get me wrong, I love knitting. Read more