The reason I went to Iceland was because I received a grant to help me improve my teaching by incorporating art and physical education in the classroom. I found a program through Knitting Iceland that had knitting workshops, design workshops, and yoga and dance classes. Perfect.
Turns out the sheep population in Iceland is larger than the human population, so I was able to visit with lots of the fuzzy creatures.
I also had the opportunity to learn about dyeing yarn with natural, plant-based dyes.
I spent a lot of time knitting and admiring the pieces that others made.
Traditional Icelandic sweaters, or lopapeysa, are a solid color for most of the sleeves and body, but have a multi-colored, intricately designed yoke. Like this one, that was for sale at the Handknitting Association of Iceland.
I got to learn how to make one of these by creating a tiny version in a workshop that taught top-down sweater construction.
For this project, I did my one and only steek (for you non-knitters, this means cutting into knit fabric, which also strikes fear into the hearts of many knitters) in order to make the front opening on this mini-sweater. I knit it in the round, then reinforced the edges in order for it to get cut open without unraveling. I conquered that fear, but it would still be nerve wracking for me to do this to a full-sized garment.
Overall, the trip was great. The grant was valuable. I learned new techniques, and I got inspired. What more can you ask for?
I fell in love with the cover design of Vintage Modern Knits, called Adelaide Yoke Pullover, designed by Kate Gagnon Osborn.
This was before I knew it was pretty much a lopapeysa, or traditional Icelandic sweater design. I started the project right around when I found out I would be going to Iceland, and didn’t finish it until a few months after I was back.
Instead of the recommended yarn, I used Malabrigo, one of my favorites.
One thing I liked about this pattern is that it has you start with the sleeves, then start the body once the sleeves are finished.
That works for me because usually I’m all excited about a project at first, then lose interest or it gets boring partway through. With this one, it was still all exciting to start the main part of the sweater, and when I finished that, it was like, surprise! sleeves are done, all you need to do is attach them.
It was also knit bottom-up. In Iceland, I learned about the benefits of knitting sweaters top-down (you can try them on as you go and ensure proper length, you get the tricky parts out of the way first) but for me I liked knitting this bottom-up. The reason is that again, once I started losing interest in the pattern from all the plain, solid color knitting, the colorwork started and I regained interest in the pattern.
The sweater is super warm and cozy. I’m happy with the turnout. What do you think?
It can be difficult to buy clothing for someone else. But it’s even more difficult to make clothing for someone else. I have enough trouble getting the things I make for myself to fit me (which is why I like to stick to scarves) let alone to fit someone else. And if they do fit in size, they may not fit in color or style.
The person I made these hats for, though, won’t be able to share his opinion for a few more years. He’ll probably never even really see what he looks like wearing them. He’s the baby of my good friends, Elizabeth and Jack, and he just turned 4 months old a few days ago. I get to meet him in about two weeks. I made two so he can have his pick in case he doesn’t like one of them.
I do know babies can be picky though. Other babies I’ve made hats for have tugged and pulled at them to get them off. I made these out of soft, non-itchy wool. The light blue one is made from baby alpaca yarn (the same wool as my owl sweater) and is very soft. Unfortunately for Elizabeth, this means neither hat is machine washable, but I don’t think hats get too dirty. It’s not like I made him a hand-wash only bib.
Leave it to Lisa at Sifu Design Studio to come up with a fun way to recycle yarn scraps and beautify the neighborhood at the same time. Lisa has been giving out little cages meant to be used as suet bird feeders, but instead of stuffing them with suet, she loaded them with leftover yarn scraps. Birds will still flock to these cages, but instead of a snack, they’ll get some colorful building material for their nests.
I think the cages look great just hanging around the neighborhood. Here’s the one I put up in front of my place.
But I especially can’t wait to catch glimpses of color popping up in the nests. If you live in Chicago and want to put up your own yarn scrap bird feeder, stop by Sifu and ask. Best part of all- they’re free!
One thing I wanted for my birthday was a cake so cool that when it was presented, everyone would clap and cheer, just like they do for the Cake Boss. Simple enough, right? So my friend Andrea decided that instead of paying a ton of money to get an awesome cake for me, she’d do it herself!
The only thing I knew about it was that it was going to be lavender/lemon flavored and that I was going to really like it. She totally exceeded my expectations, and when she presented the cake, everyone cheered and clapped. No joke!
She made the base round cake, covered it in fondant she also made herself, used a stamping tool to look like basket weave, and intertwined the rolled fondant edge. She (I think) scooped other baked pieces into 3 round spheres and covered them with fondant and fondant spaghetti shaped stuff made from like a play-doh press.
The final, though inedible, touch was the knitting needles she stuck in the top.
I can’t decide if it tasted better or looked better.
But thanks to the photos I get to have my cake, and I ate it too.
Andrea- care to comment on your work?
I bought a new sweater!
All I have to do is make it.
This sweater will be made with Malabrigo which means I’ll wear it once and wait a year before actually hand-washing it to wear it again. I’m also working on it as part of a Knit-A-Long (KAL) at Sifu Design Studio, which means several other people are working on the same sweater at the same time, so we can share tips and techniques and stay motivated. I’ll cast-on (start) just as soon as I finish
and a hat for baby John.
So as you can see, I will definitely have a new sweater just in time for August.
If I’m lucky.
How much knitting can one finish en route from Chicago O’Hare to Newark, Newark to Port-au-Prince, Port-au-Prince to Newark, and Newark to Chicago?
I only knit during the flights, and not really during take off or landing. Knitters will recognize this pattern as the clapotis. It’s sort of required knitting, as there are 18,784 of them on ravelry. This is my third. It’s a great pattern because it is easy to memorize, uses basic, mindless stitches, and yields a gorgeous, versatile result. It can be dressy or casual. It’s warm, but also folds to fit in a purse.
I’m finally using the Blue Heron Rayon Metallic yarn I bought specifically for a clapotis after my friend made two of them with the same yarn. I found it at Arcadia Knitting’s going out of business sale back in July 2010.
Looking at the amount I finished, I’m a little disappointed at the amount that I got done. It seems as though I should have finished more in that time. I think from now on it will go a little faster, but like everything, knitting is about the journey as much as the destination.