Tag Archives: yarn

Knitting in Iceland

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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.

sheep

I also had the opportunity to learn about dyeing yarn with natural, plant-based dyes.

dyeing

I spent a lot of time knitting and admiring the pieces that others made.

knitting

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.

lopapeysa

I got to learn how to make one of these by creating a tiny version in a workshop that taught top-down sweater construction.

minisweater

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?

Icelandicish Vintage Modern Sweater

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I fell in love with the cover design of Vintage Modern Knits, called Adelaide Yoke Pullover, designed by Kate Gagnon Osborn.

yarn

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.

sleeve

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.

sweaterback

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.

yoke

The sweater is super warm and cozy. I’m happy with the turnout. What do you think?

Baby Hats

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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.

 

Colorful Birds’ Nests, Coming Soon to Chicago’s North Side

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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!

Best Birthday Cake Ever

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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?

New Sweater…. Sort Of

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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

my mittens

clapotis

and a hat for baby John.

(or

or

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So as you can see, I will definitely have a new sweater just in time for August.

If I’m lucky.

Knitting Workshops in Jacmel, Haiti

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One of the purposes of my trip was to continue a knitting workshop. When I went in July, I taught two separate workshops, for two days each. This time I only taught one 2-day workshop at the new Jakmel Ekspresyons building.

I am grateful for the community of knitters on Ravelry who donated so much yarn for each trip. I had to vacuum-pack all of it in order to bring it with me.

It was my first time seeing the building, and it is awesome! There are two floors. The second floor has an office, two workshop rooms, and space for a computer lab that will be set up shortly. I held the workshop on the first floor to be handicapped-accessible since one of the knitters was unable to walk. Plus this courtyard section is beautiful and breezy. It’s in a shady spot, but the sky is the ceiling.

There were approximately 12 attendees, and about half of them had come to the workshops in July. I taught most of the experienced knitters to increase and decrease, as well as knit in the round. I taught the first-timers to cast-on, knit, and bind-off. Many of the experienced knitters also showed the newbies how to knit. I’ve found that in Haiti, people are extremely helpful to each other. It sure helped me since I was using very limited Creole and only one person there spoke proficient English!

I had so much yarn, I was able to leave some of it behind, along with dozens of pairs of handmade knitting needles (the chopstick ones– I ended up securing the ends with rubber bands). I also left 4 cd-roms with instructional knitting videos in French and dozens of copies of my handmade “Learn to Knit/ Aprann Brode” zine which is in English and very broken Creole.

My hope is that Jakmel Ekspresyons can have a regular knit and crochet group who meets regularly and helps each other. Lots of people in Haiti know how to crochet, plus there was a crochet workshop at Jakmel Ekspresyons a few weeks before my knitting workshop. Haitians are extremely resourceful, and I am confident that they will be able to figure out patterns and fix mistakes if they meet and craft together.

One of the students, Salomon, knew how to crochet already, and learned to knit at my workshops. Afterwards, he continued his project until he finished his skein of yarn, then came by Jakmel Ekspresyon to ask for more yarn.

He was so impressive. I taught a group of kids his age how to knit in an after-school program, and after many hours with these English-speakers, some of the kids were still not able to knit as well as he could. As usual, I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of yarn donors, the willingness and excitement of new knitters, the ability of people to learn in a difficult situation (language barrier), and the helpfulness and kindness of the participants.