Preparations for the Finland Sweater

The last year has been a busy travelling one for me, and in knitting terms my voyages have so far seen an Adelaide scarf, Brisbane socks, Vanuatu bag, Paris hoodie and a Hobart Cardigan. The next trip is now organised, and once again I am heading for the COLD. Yaaaaaayyyy!!!! Astute regular readers may indeed wonder why the hell I live in Queensland. You and me both.

But anyway, I am going to Helsinki, Finland for three weeks in November/December. Worst weather time, but I reeeeeeaaaallly wanted to see the St Thomas Christmas markets and the lights on Aleksanterinkatu. I love Christmas so much!! And a market in the snow, how awesome. πŸ™‚

  
    
 
Again I will be travelling solo. I did actually put the word out this time in case anyone particularly wanted to come with me, and the responses I received back from friends and family ran the gamut from “F*ck that for a joke” and “You’re totally insane”. So be it. Bunch of wusses. M, who genuinely believes Queensland is “bloody freezing”, was obviously a non-starter.

I come from Finnish heritage on my mother’s side, and I’ve always felt a strange pull to go there. I’ve been learning the language for a couple of years (so I basically know three words. It’s a pretty hard language). They speak a lot of English there, fortunately.

So 3 months out, now is about the time to begin my Finland Sweater. Obviously I have invested in some heavy duty outerwear this time, because I would rather not die. Therefore this sweater actually needs to be quite slimline, to fit nicely under coats. 
I have chosen this earthy yarn that my Mum was throwing out called Bagabo Country Spun Wool, which is 100% wool (Australian merino/corriedale). It’s a 5ply (sport weight), and I really like the undyed grey/oatmeal colour called silver. (Not as brown as it appears here.)

   
 It took a while to find an appropriate pattern, and I have settled on this, by Purl Soho, the Top-Down Turtleneck Cardigan. Not actually a sweater, but it will be worn as one. (I’ve decided that cardigans worn as sweaters are a lot easier on the shoulders, so I’m not sure I’ll ever knit myself another proper ‘pullover’.) 

   
 Something about the lines of this drew me in…the shoulders maybe. And the neckline which, although I know won’t flatter my particular shaped jaw, is warm and practical under a hooded coat. 

  
As usual, I will add patch pockets to this, and I am also somewhat tempted by the needle-felted patches on the elbows that I am seeing all over Pinterest. So maybe them too. I think I’ll also change the bottom edging.

  
Can I rant for just a second here? This is a very prettily laid out pattern, and it frickin should be for US$9. That is way more than I would normally spend, especially on something relatively simple, but it looked very elegant and slick. However it reeeeeally annoys me when I download patterns and they only have US terms! What is that about? Ethnocentrism might be a standard human trait, and I can live with it in free or inexpensive patterns, but it is a massive fail in a pricey ‘professional’ pattern being downloaded worldwide. I can cope with the inches-only measurements, because every tape measure has them, but yardage with no meterage, and U.S.-only needle sizes with no equivalents is totally unacceptable. I should NOT have to look up the conversion and write it in. *Insert grumpy huff.*
Anyhoo. Okay I’m over it. πŸ™‚ There’s a LOT of stockinette here. Wish me luck.

B πŸ™‚

Liebster Award nominations

  Thank you so much for my four Liebster Award Nominations this week! I am very flattered to be thought of! The lovely people that nominated me were:
andalexand– super cool knitter (with cats! Yay!)

fogknits– Emily, prolific knitter, amazing colour sense and dry sense of humour that I love

maggienesium– Maggie, passionate, positive crafter with enthusiasm galore

cottagechickknits– Hayley, talented designer and full of useful knitting/crochet tips

I’ve been out of action for the past couple of days, still a little unwell so my somewhat wonky answers to the thirty or so questions follow. I’m QUITE sure no one wants to know that much about me, but I shall babble on regardless. Normal posts to resume shortly. 

What is your dream vacation? I travel a fair bit, and generally a ‘holiday’ at home with my lovely M and my heap of projects sounds good to me! But Paris in April this year was a magical trip. 

  
My next proper holiday is later this year when I am going to Finland (alone again, naturally πŸ™‚ ), for three weeks, which has been a dream for a while. 

What book are you currently reading? Always several on the go, audio, kindle and paper, far too many to list, plus editing my own.

What achievement are you most proud of? Graduating as a psychotherapist.

If you had a superpower, which one would it be? To slow down time but be able to keep working at normal pace, so there would be more hours in the day for making things and for writing. (Physics was never my strong suit.) 

What does a perfect day look like to you? A long one where my health is good and I have lots of energy. Writing, reading, studying, knitting, French lesson, Finnish lesson, making lots of stuff, working in the garden, playing with the animals, cooking, eating, and laughing lots. But every day is perfect in its own way, I think arguing with reality is the surest ticket to unhappiness. 

If you could witness any event of the past, present or future, what would it be? That’s a tricky question, I’ll be totally honest about my very first thought…it was to go back to 1980 and stop Mark Chapman from shooting John Lennon… no idea where that came from.

How did you get into the blogging world? Everything I read on writing said a blog was good practice, which made sense. So I googled ‘best blogging platform’, chose WordPress and just started one day about 8 months ago. I had no idea there was such a brilliant community spirit in the blogging world though, and I never really expected anyone to read what I wrote.

Ice cream, potato chips or candy? Don’t eat any of these as have been paleo for a couple of years.

What is your favourite show and why? I love to laugh, so anything funny, I especially love British comedies. We don’t have commercial TV, we just watch DVDs, and to be honest, not that often because there’s always other fun stuff to do! But currently 3/4 of the way through Only Fools and Horses complete set. Before that Shameless, Seinfeld, The Good Life, Vicar of Dibley, Frasier, Father Ted, The Royle Family.

  If you could recommend just one place in your country to a tourist, what would it be? Yikes, I couldn’t. I’ve lived all over it, and couldn’t narrow it down to one. Alice Springs and surrounding areas are amazing, humbling and awe inspiring. Favourite capital city for holiday…Melbourne. Favourite city to live (if God forbid I had to live in the city)…Perth. Favourite winter destination…Bright, Victoria or Hobart, Tasmania. Favourite summer destination…Mooloolaba or Noosa, Queensland. For uniqueness…Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Favourite place of all….our place! πŸ™‚ about 3 hours north of Brisbane in the middle of nowhere. 

  
How annoyed are you at my questions right now on a scale of 1-10? Do you get annoyed easily? Yes I do, I’m an impatient person, but not at all right now. Who doesn’t like talking about themselves? πŸ™‚

Are you a crafter? What’s your poison? Haha what isn’t? I think I have a serious problem. πŸ™‚ If it’s a craft I’ve probably had a go. Knitting is my grand passion, but I also do sewing, quilting, embroidery, felt making, painting, drawing, candle making, dolls houses, cross stitch, mosaicking, bookbinding, soap making, rug making, wood burning, spinning, jewellery and beading, paper making, collage, decoupage, weaving, folk art, papier mΓ’chΓ©, lino printing…I will stop now. But this is why I needed a train.

  What is your favourite colour combination? My favourite colour is green, but for clothes…Grey. Grey. Grey. With anything. 

How did you get into crafting? Since I was seven years old and got my first library card I’ve been borrowing craft books from the library. I’ve got hippie parents, Grassroots and Earthgarden magazines back to the first issues, and I always loved the idea of self sufficiency and pioneer stuff. Independence from the mainstream, I think that’s what it has always come down to for me. I won’t leave the house without something handmade!

What is a random fact about you that would surprise others? I am one of seven children and have eight nieces and nephews. Which goes a long way to explaining why I never wanted any kids. πŸ™‚

What’s your favourite blog post that you’ve written? I loved writing about my Dad. πŸ™‚ 

Roller coasters- for or against? For – other people. Not for me. 

What is your favourite beverage? Black coffee. Black coffee. BLACK COFFEE!!!!!! :))))

Pets? Pics? Two ratbag clumsy troublemaking Devon Rex cats, Atticus Finch and Dougal Maguire. They are inside cats only. Natalya, a Transylvanian naked neck chicken. (Other chickens currently on hiatus with the mother in law). Until very recently, a beautiful long haired guinea pig called Leela. She passed away of old age, I had her for ten years, 3 months. 

     

  

Elegant as ever.

  
M’s action shot.
Plus many local residents  
You’ve been sentenced to time on a desert island, what one project would you take with you? A very complicated lace shawl on tiny needles with superfine yarn. Might finally have the time to do one!

When was the last time the phrase ‘I regret nothing!’ popped into your head? Lol I do stupid stuff all the time. Mostly I forget that I have physical limitations and take on too much, then end up on the couch with a heat pack for a whole day. Which is where I am today. I regret nothing! πŸ™‚

Fog: for or against? For!! Our hill becomes a little island in a sea of fog sometimes, I love it.

What is your go to fibre if you are a crafter? Gerund if you are a writer, and if you’re both answer using your favourite conjunctive adverb. Aaah…..nevertheless, I adore sparkles. 

What is one word you wished would make a come-back? Cosmic!! Cos-bloody-mic!!

If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing before your very first project, what would it be? Two squares for body and two rectangles for sleeves do not a flattering sweater maketh.

Is there a colour you won’t work with? Orange. Blergh. πŸ˜›

You are rushing off to work, open the door and there is a huge box of yarn at your door. What do you do? Either strip naked and jump in, or lay out all the yarn on the floor, rearrange at will, squish and stroke and pat and talk to each skein, read every label five times, and plan next few projects. Work? Pfft.

Favourite game? Words with Friends

You can teleport for one day. Where are you off to first? Somewhere I’ve never been…Machu Picchu.

Now I’m meant to nominate others, but it’s tricky because the app I use is playing up and doesn’t tell you how many followers they have (meant to be under 200), and also everyone that I follow seems to have been already nominated! So I’ll just leave it to anyone who wants to jump in and say if you’d like to be nominated, and answer my questions if you’d like to.
1. When was the last time you broke out in a cold sweat?

2. Who is your favourite person on the planet?

3. Are you living your dream life?

4. Favourite book and why?

5. How would you describe your personal style?

6. Why do you blog?

7. Pets and photos?

8. Favourite season and why?

9. Describe your typical day.

10. Favourite project you’ve ever completed?

11. 3 main goals for the rest of this year?
B πŸ™‚

Quick review: Mini circulars

I must have been living under a rock (or perhaps just on a hill in the middle of nowhere) to not have noticed that mini circular needles existed. I kept looking at other knitter’s sock blogs thinking ‘gee that needle looks small’… And then subsequently thinking nothing more about it.
Then finally it clicked, I googled them, and read a few reviews. I loved the idea of a tiny circular, just the right size for socks, which I knit a lot of. The reviews said you either love the needle or hate it. So I bought a Hiya high stainless steel 9″ with sharp points. It came with a little stitch marker, which I thought was cute.

  
I was soooo excited to use it. And it turns out….
I hate it. 😦 ho hum. I tried so hard to like it, I really did. I persisted through inches of rib cuff and stockinette. And it did certainly get a bit easier as I progressed. But I felt like a big fat giant knitting in a dolls house. M laughed at me. He is, as I have mentioned previously, massive. It looked even more ridiculous in his hands.

  
It was kind of like knitting with two darning needles with a string between them. Because they are so short, you have to come up with a whole new technique. Which in itself isn’t bad if you are enjoying it, but I wasn’t. My gauge was far, far tinier, my knitting much slower and I kept getting hand cramp. Also I had to knit right under a lamp, squinting at it. I am a British style knitter, not continental, so this may also have something to do with it.
I’m glad I tried it, but for now it’s back to the double points for me. Speaking of, I recently received a belated birthday present, shipped all the way from Finland, how cool is this. Designed so you can throw your dpns in a bag and not lose stitches.

  
   
All recycled materials, this guy is awesome. Love his shop on Etsy.

B πŸ™‚

Five FOs in five days (and then some more)

My weekly posts are rapidly getting out of hand in length, so from now on there’ll be at least two a week from me I think!
It wasn’t actually a conscious plan to get all these things finished over the last week, circumstances just combined fortuitously to give me time and motivation. And you know what this means…I can now start (at least) five new things!! Woohoo!! πŸ˜€

1. Metallicus Tee

This is my new Wolfberry Knits pattern, an easy, chunky, top-down seamless tee with slightly gathered front and an a-line shape. Yay for more pockets! πŸ™‚ Because it’s 10 ply, I can knit one of these up in under three days. So I did a second one in Drops Bomull-Lin this week, and began a third in Rowan’s (sadly discontinued) Calmer.
   
    
 
Will be published in the next day or so.

2. Knitting project bag

 I broke my ‘no commissions’ rule for once because of the challenge of this one…it was commissioned as a present for someone who liked ‘red, black, Scottish stuff and Scottie dogs’… I found the perfect fabric on eBay. There was enough left to make a little matching lined drawstring bag too.

  
 

3. Drawstring bags

 In my usual style, when I had made one thing that was really fun, I got a bit fixated… Several drawstring bags later…. πŸ™‚ they’re all lined, and I put little pockets inside each of these too for stitch markers etc. They’re handy for travelling with small projects and for gifts.

 
4. Big Socks 
M’s birthday this week, which always involves at least one pair of socks. He has size US 15s, so he’s lucky he gets any, really. πŸ™‚ These are plain vanillas on 5mm needles, a 40 st cast on with a fish lips kiss heel. The yarn is Drops Big Fabel, chunky sock yarn.

  

5. Paracord Bracelet

 Um, okay, I have been assured most vehemently that these are ‘macho survival tactical Bear Grylls-style man wear’. And here was me thinking it was just a friendship bracelet. M wanted one, so I made him one after watching a couple of (super macho survival tactical testosterone-laden) YouTube videos.
Turns out I was wrong, is not a friendship bracelet at all, I’d say is probably more closely related to macrame. Don’t tell M. 

  
 
Actually, I have finished heeeeeaps of stuff lately. But ‘Five FOs’ had a nice ring to it.
Here’s a couple more things I’ve recently completed:

Book covers
It took me a little while to get the pattern right. I had to have a pen holder in there somewhere! πŸ™‚ I’ll post the pattern as a freebie to Craftsy when I get the chance.

   
   

Preemie hats and baby blankets

These will be going to ‘Knitting for Brisbane’s Needy’ when the pile gets a bit bigger.
  
Embroidered tie dye woollen vest

Had been sitting in pieces in my sewing wips drawer for no less than SIX years. Yikes. Of course now I don’t like that my embroidery isn’t evenly spaced. What kind of crazy hippie was I back then? One without a ruler, apparently. Geez. Still, I’ll put some wooden buttons on it and give it to someone.
  
Hebel Owl

Something my Dad has got me into, sculpting Hebel. This was my first attempt. I enjoyed it, though I’m definitely not a natural sculptor. Like I need another hobby. 
   
   
The train is definitely an inspirational environment to get things finished in. Although the passing wildlife can, on occasion, be distracting. 

   
   
Happy creating! πŸ™‚

B

Random stash thoughts

  
I described my yarn stash to someone this week as ‘obscene’, and it really got me thinking. 
An ‘obscene yarn stash’. So a yarn stash that is basically abhorrent to morality. There’s some pretty strong emotion around a word like ‘obscene’. 
There’s disgust and shame and guilt. I don’t recall feeling any of those emotions when I spoke the word though, so why on earth did I say it? 
It was more that I should feel them, as if having a huge stash of yarn, or indeed lack of restraint regarding anything, is something to be embarrassed about. Amoral. 
And I was thinking that’s really weird. It’s not like seven rhino horns on the coffee table or anything.

But how much is too much? And is too much yarn bad for you as a person? (To quote the well known line, “Of course too much of anything is bad for you. That’s what too much means!”)
So then I started thinking about the terms ‘collecting’ versus ‘hoarding’.

I have, now and again, been accused of hoarding by unkind people, and it never fails to irritate me. Which means, probably, that I am a hoarder. 
I do officially collect some things. Coffee makers for one. I got them all out for a photo but it involved too much dusting. So instead, here’s some of my favourites.

  
Oil lamps, doilies, amethyst glass, vintage advertising…Yeah, basically old stuff.
Then it starts getting a little tenuous…knitting needles.
To put it clearly, they are just about almost on the brink of the threshold of out of control.
I like vintage needles. They’re pretty, they take up hardly any room, and they remind me of learning to knit as a child with my mum. Who could forget the tortoiseshell needles from the eighties? Or the anodised aluminium from the seventies?
I had good intentions. When I first moved my studio into the train, I got organised. 

  
I was pretty impressed with myself for this effort. Except for the small detail that I don’t use these needles at all. Like, AT ALL. I don’t use straights. And also…that’s not all of them. There’s these as well.

   
 Oh, and these. :/

   
 Um, let’s forget double points and circulars and the rest and just say that’s all of them.
When I started calling them a ‘collection’, it was interesting to me that somehow that completely justified it to other people. 
‘Aaaah, she COLLECTS them….now I get it…’
‘Gee, what an impressive COLLECTION!’…..
Hehehe. Suckers. πŸ™‚
Also, when you start saying you collect something, people start giving you stuff. Lots of stuff.

The yarn stash though is a completely different matter. It can’t really be called a yarn ‘collection’, any more than our pile of firewood can be called a ‘firewood collection’. There’s nothing special or vintage or unique about it, and I fully intend to use it all at some point. If I live long enough. Here is some that’s organised.

  

I’m not under pressure here, either. Discussing the ‘how much is too much’ predicament with M, he shrugged and said ‘There’s no such thing as too much yarn. You should get a shipping container and I’ll line the walls with pigeon holes for you.’ Me, in guilty voice: ‘But I already have a forty foot train.’ Him: ‘Nah, the train is for working, not for storing.’ ❀ that man. 

Why oh why so much yarn, I ask myself? Am I preparing for armageddon? Self sufficiency and post-apocalyptic survival skills are all well and good, but realistically, if the shit hits the fan, I ain’t gonna be knitting. Seriously.
So then there’s the scarcity argument. You HAVE to get it now or it will be gone forever!! There will be a worldwide yarn and fleece shortage and you won’t be able to knit or spin unless you have a massive stash in backup! Generally, I dislike scarcity thinking. I am, for the most part, a ‘prosperity and abundance, positive thinking’ kind of girl. So it’s probably not that.
Much of the stash consists of bargains that just could not be gone past. A once in a lifetime sale!! A stocktake sale!! Any kind of sale!! Yep, there’s definitely some truth to this one. I love yarn sales. To quote my favourite line ever from Kath & Kim, 
“I think I saved so much with what I spent, I actually made money.”
My train of thought tailed off somewhere around this point and I put on a Kath & Kim DVD and went happily back to my knitting. The angst, if there actually is any, can wait for another day. If I knit solely from my stash from this point on (haha), I only have to live to about 140. Which is apparently feasible. Doctors have already doubled the lifespan of the worm. So I’m just well prepared, really. 

B πŸ™‚