Proper pictures of my Vostok

I finished my Vostok during the late autumn and never really got to take proper pictures of it. So today we did. And whilst holding it up for the world to admire a lady came up to me and said: “You haven’t done that one yourself, have you?”. I said that I had and she marveled. “It must have been very difficult!”

It is the most difficult piece I’ve knit so far. It mainly has to do with the first lace section which proved quite a challenge. But with stitch markers in all the right places it turned out nicely.

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We love yarn

I have bought yarn for a new project (and Tove has approved the reason for purchasing yarn so I’m not feeling bad at all. Well, almost.) This redish silk blend from Manos is just wonderful!

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My princess is enjoying the nice sunny day.

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When: “Hmmm…”

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“I just might…”

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And this is where I had to drop the camera and rescue my Manos. (Too expensive yarn to eat…)

 

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My stone obsession

Sometimes you forget important facts from your past. Not sure if it has to do with the general memory capacity, selective memory or pure denial. Anyway, I was going through some stuff I had forgotten that I had. Ehrm.

When I was little I had a huge drawer under my bed basically filled with pretty stones that I had collected from all corners of Sweden. At some point the collection had grown rather massive and I was forced to do something about it. I decided to only keep the REALLY special ones. In a REALLY special box (I made the box in school).

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Okay, so I’ve bought many of them… Pieces of Amethyst just don’t lay around mountain trails like that. Unfortunately. (I’ve spent years checking). I found one once. Off the trail it was, with rocks everywhere. It had like a purple eye just looking at me. It was too big for me to dig loose though and I was falling behind my family. We tried to find it again on our way back, which was of course impossible. I still wish I had tried harder.

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And this convenient map of gemstones was stuffed away. So you see, the stone obsession isn’t exactly new. It’s just been resting for a few years (15). Waiting for the perfect time to surface again.

 

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Tips Theme Week: Beads, buttons and other necessary things

Depending on how elaborate the items you like to knit are, there are some accessories that might be tricky to find, or rather, they are if you don’t know where to look for them.

EVERYTHING can be found at Etsy (no need to mention that I’ve, ehrm, purchased regency underpinnings from here as well…) Similarly to the concept of Amazon, Etsy is like a marketplace with lots and lots of different shops, be it yarn, beads, stitch markers, elaborate jewelry, buttons, beads, handmade underpinnings or tiny crochet hooks for adjusting your dreadlocks, also known as an excellent tool for placing beads in your knitting.

To give you an idea, here are some of the knitting related items that Tove and I have bought from Etsy:

  • 0.6 mm crochet hook
  • Case to keep needles and knit tools
  • Gemstone beads
  • Coconut shell buttons

The trick is to know what you are looking for and search for the correct terms. On Esty it’s usually a good idea to search in their supply section. There’s also several yarn shops represented. So, beware, you can end up spending days and days and days on Etsy!

accessories

Some things are ideal to buy second hand like a yarn winder. I got mine on Tradera. I have yet to get something knit related from eBay (my only experience so far was the Alice in Wonderland coat I ordered from China… which I REALLY needed and which is totally awesome!), but Tove bought both her ball winder and her tiny bead crochet hook from Chinese eBay sellers.

Buttons and beads are a bit trying to chase after here in Sweden. There’s not too much available on the market. So thank goodness there’s the Internet. The following shops specialize in hobby craft supplies:

  • Kristallrummet is a Swedish online shop for crystals and items for making your own jewelry. I’ve purchased beads from here and they offer good service. I believe they have a boutique in Stockholm as well, but I’ve never been there.
  • Pärltorget is an online bead shop based in Falun, with a great selection of seed beeds. Tove has shopped here before with great results.
  • Panduro is the most famous shop in Sweden for getting beads, clay and everything imaginable. They have an online shop as well.

Just running a search on the Internet I came across a few other online shops as well. I have yet to try them though. If you’ve tried them please let us know and tell us what you think!

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Tips Theme Week: Books and magazines

While the rest of our tips and resources have focused mainly on the online side of things, today we’re going to share some print resources. Neither Anneli nor I are that well-versed in the world of knitting books and magazines, but we do own some.

  • A good stitch dictionary is a goldmine when creating your own patterns, or adapting existing ones. There’s something about flicking through a book for inspiration you just can’t quite replicate with websites. I own 400 Knitting Stitches but would gladly have more stitch dictionaries in my collection.
  • For us yarnoholics who keep buying skeins without an intended project in mind, the One Skein Wonders series is a fun source of inspiration and nice patterns. I have the 101 Designer one, and though I’ve not yet knit anything from it, there are lots I can see myself knitting in the future.
  • Stephanie Pearl-McPhee aka the Yarn Harlot has written a whole bunch of knitting books. Both of us own Knitting Rules! which I can heartily recommend – it’s a great mix of funny anecdotes, useful tips and tricks, and some basic pattern ideas. A really fun read. Anneli also owns The Secret Life of a Knitter.
  • The last time I was in the US I purchased The Knitter’s Life List. I’ve yet to read it properly, but what I have read I absolutely love. It’s more inspirational than instructional, and really adds something all its own.
  • Anneli owns A Stitch in Time – Vintage Knitting Patterns 1930-1959: Vol. 2 and it’s GORGEOUS. The pictures, the patterns, the styling – all of it is stunning.
  • A book neither of us have read but both would really like to own is Knit to Flatter. Exactly what you need before embarking on the scary journey of knitting things that actually have to FIT. (This is at least half the reason I make so many lace accessories. People think it’s impressive and hard; really it’s because I’m a coward. A shawl always fits.)

The only knitting magazine I have personally bought is Vogue Knitting (one whole issue) so I don’t feel overly confident talking about this side of knitting. As a kid, my mother subscribed to a handicrafts magazine of some sort, which I always thought was really fun to browse through (usually when I should be sleeping). There were also the knitting pages in the “housewife” magazines, but other than that we didn’t really have a “magazine culture” for knitting in Sweden until just recently, and it’s still quite a poor selection. You CAN get the bigger international ones at well-stocked newspaper and magazine shops, but they’re hideously overpriced (twice the original price, at least). Having said that, some of the magazines on the market are:

Do you have any favourite print resources? A book you can’t live without? Share it in the comments!

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Tips Theme Week: Techniques, tutorials and tools

(That’s a lot of T’s.)

First of all, today is a very important day in Sweden – Midsummer, second only to Christmas – so glad midsommar, happy midsummer to you all!

Today we’re sharing some of our favourite resources for the more technical side of knitting. Learning how to use a certain technique, when to use which decrease or bind-off, or what the heck k2togtbl means can be tricky, but luckily we live in a time where you can learn EVERYTHING on the internet. (I honestly don’t know how people managed before!) Here are some of our favourites.

  • knittinghelp.com has GREAT videos with the really great feature that there’s a version for continental and one for English for every technique listed. My personal favourite is their collection of different increases and decreases.
  • Doing a simple search on YouTube always works – there are tons and tons and tons of knitting tutorial videos just waiting to be seen. Really useful when you’ve been staring at instructions and scratching your head with a spare DPN.
  • TECHknitting is a goldmine for the science behind knitting. So clever. If you want to know how to do ANYTHING, you can probably find it in her index.
  • For those (Swedes) of you who are a bit intimidated by the idea of knitting in English, Drops has a great terminology list. Additionally, they have a video library with instructions for various techniques.
  • Knitty has a whole bunch of useful articles. A lot of them are published under Techniques with Theresa. (Her Kitchener stitch tutorial has been my friend many, many, many times.) There’s also the collection of instructions which has a few “famous” articles, like the JSSBO.
  • ChartGen is a fun and free chart generator.
  • Stickskolan is a great resource in Swedish.

Additionally, there are some really great apps to help you with your knitting. Both Anneli and I are iPhone owners, so unfortunately we can’t say anything about apps for Android or Windows Phone, but here are some of the apps which are frequently used on our iDevices:

  • KnitCounter Lite – free row counter tool. (There are a whole bunch and they all work pretty much the same way; this just happened to be the one I downloaded and stuck with.)
  • Knitting Daily – a mobile library of videos, blogs and glossaries from Interweave Knits.
  • JKnit – I actually only just discovered this PDF reader which comes with a built-in row counter and a highlight row the other day. If it lives up to what it promises, I think it may well become my new best friend.
  • Speaking of PDF readers, let’s not forget the trusty ol’ iBooks app. I love using my iPad as a virtual library of all of my patterns, and it’s so convenient to just prop it up on its stand with a chart up while you knit – I haven’t printed out a pattern in absolutely ages. Not as big a fan of looking at patterns on the iPhone, though it’ll do in a pinch.

(Whatever people may tell you, I am in fact NOT sponsored by Apple. Totally open to the idea, though, Apple. Call me.)

Any knitting wizards whose word you swear by? Share the magic in the comments!

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Tips Theme Week: Designers

One of my favourite things about Ravelry is that it really gives independent pattern designers a stage to show off their work on. I don’t even want to think about how much time I’ve spent using the pattern browser, because it would probably be depressing and make me want to go home and rethink my life. While this “hobby” often leads me to new (to me) designers, there are a few that pop up over and over again. Here are a few of our favourite designers, on Ravelry and elsewhere.

  • Kieran Foley (Ravelry), whose entire body of work would go in my Ravelry queue, if I kept one. (I don’t. It’s stressful. Or I’m lazy.) His lace designs are simply gorgeous and I want to make ALL OF THEM. (In fact, I just bought three of his patterns. Oops.)
  • Gudrun Johnston (Ravelry) is GREAT at cardigans. There are at least four I want to make (and one of them is my upcoming cardi project that I’ve already swatched for and everything!) and a whole bunch more I wish I could pull off. Gorgeous.
  • Kitman Figueroa (Ravelry) designs lovely shawls which combine lace and texture in really interesting ways.
  • Evelyn A. Clark (Ravelry) is the creator of the first-ever lace project I knit, and designs gorgeous lace triangles inspired by traditional patterns from around the world.
  • Beth Kling (Ravelry only) is someone I’ve discovered recently and who makes gorgeous, unique shawl patterns. Anneli has knit her Vostok and it’s stunning!
  • Jared Flood (Ravelry), big knitting name who is great at texture.
  • Stephen West (Ravelry), aka the king of stripes. (I also YEARN for his Madelinetosh colourway, in case anyone wants to buy me a present.)
  • Tori Gurbisz (Ravelry), who both makes lovely shawls and with her Zephyr has designed one of the prettiest cardigans on Ravelry, in my opinion. Additionally, she’s published a collection of knitting patterns inspired by myths and fairytales.
  • Kathy Bateman (Ravelry) designs, amongst other things, fun and unique headwear.
  • Meghan Jackson (Ravelry) is another great lace designer.
  • Elsebeth Lavold (Ravelry) who is one of our most famous Swedish designers, has her own yarn brand and designs great Viking inspired knitwear. Anneli visited one of her exhibitions last year and was really tempted by the dress Solveig.

Who are your to-go-to designers of choice? Are there any great designers we’re missing out on? Let us know in a comment!

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