A Full Intarsia Argyle Sweater

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When my dad asked me to knit him a fingering weight, Shetland argyle sweater, I did not expect how long it would take. I started it in September 2018 as a Christmas gift, but it ended up as a 2019 Easter gift. However, my dad is super happy with it.

I have modified the Jagger pattern by Martin Storey as a full intarsia front with navy sleeves and back. The yarn is Jamieson’s of Shetland Spindrift, a classic Shetland yarn for colourwork sweaters.

The largest size used about 450g of yarn on 3.5mm needles, 3.0mm for the ribbings.

This was my first large intarsia project, with up to 40 bobbins hanging at the back of each row of the front part. Nonetheless, intarsia knitting is not complicated once you get the hang of it. You may need a lot longer than usually to knit one row as you need to twist every crossing of two colours, but it does not get more complicated. The hard part comes when you have finished knitting and start to sew in a gazillion of loose ends. And that may be the reason why I finished knitting the pieces in January and finished the sweater as a whole in April.

I have to admit, I like the technique of intarsia knitting but I do not plan to knit such a large size in fingering weight ever again. However, I already have cast on the next large intarsia project, but this time a sweater for myself in a heavier yarn weight. At least, this time all pieces will have colourwork. I am already curious to see how much I will regret it.

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New Knitting Pattern: The Hipster

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When I improvised a bum bag last year, I knew right away I wanted to publish it as a pattern. Here it is now, The Hipster!

I have designed it to be attached to your favourite belt. It is knit with Schoppel-Wolle Reggae, an aran weight, lightly felted yarn, at a very tight gauge. The resulting fabric is so dense, you do not need to line it. The body of the bag is knit bottom-up as one-piece in the round, the lid is then knit in rows using short-row shaping. The only sewing involved apart from sewing in the yarn ends is adding the zipper. This may seem difficult, but if you pin it in place with enough pins, it will work out easily.

The finished size is approximately 23 x 16 x 10 cm, large enough to fit your phone, your keys, your purse, a powder compact and a lipstick. At least, this is what I have tested it with and there still was some space left. It is a fun accessory to your everyday or festival outfit and a really quick knit. My version used only 58g of yarn. You can buy the pattern on Ravelry. I am looking forward to seeing your versions! Happy knitting!

H+H Cologne 2019

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After spending only one day at H+H Cologne last year, I decided to opt for a full three days this year. This is definitely necessary if you want to explore new companies and have some time to talk, be it at the stands, with fellow knitting bloggers or designers.

H+H welcomed its visitors with a cosy coffee bar right after the entrance paired with a small exhibition focusing on sustainable and eco-friendly products right next to it.

There were quite a few novelties shown:

One of my first discoveries this year was Elbwolle, a small company from northern Germany.

Traditionally, sheep are held there to graze many of the greens, but their wool had not been put to use in the recent years. Elbwolle wants to change this and produces yarns, loden cloth, bedding and fertiliser using local wool. They offer two very different types of yarn, fingering weights and super bulky ones.

The fingering ones have a slightly rustic feel, just like I love them. They remind me of Traditional British and Scandinavic 2-plys. The super bulky ones range from 80g/ 10m, spun around a cotton core, to 220g/ 20m, spun around a woollen core. As an idea how to use them, Elbwolle has shown some knitted squares to be used as cushions as the yarn has some sort of built-in padding due to its construction and thickness.

They also offer huge, handcarved knitting needles and crochet hooks to match their super bulky weights.

I also like that their yarns have a code showing all process details. This starts with the crop year and the sheep breed and continues with all manufacturers involved in all steps of the making of the yarn! I am really impressed about this level of transparency!

Another very interesting, young company is Nomad Noos, a yarn manufacturer that sells handspun yarns from Mongolian animals.

The yak, camel, sheep and goat fibres are bought from nomads directly, then handspun in Nepal. All processes in the production are sustainable, the people involved receive an income above the countries’ average. You can read more about their mission here.

The yarn range consists of four fingering weight qualities. Dry desert camel, a 100% camel yarn, high mountain yak, a 100% yak yarn, smooth satul sheep, a 100% Mongolian sheep yarn, and so soft yak and satuul, a blend of yak and Mongolian sheep. All yarns are incredibly soft and wonderful to touch. Although the sustainable and fair approach makes these yarns luxury goods, I am deeply impressed about the consistency of this small company. I really hope this concept will work out in the long run.

I spent quite a while at Gepard, a small yarn company from Denmark.

They work with small, family owned Italian yarn mills and have a very interesting range. Their Kid Seta, e.g., has a remarkable fibre length, comparable to the Uschitita Kidsilk Lace I have used for the Birds of a Feather shawl. It comes in a large colour palette so well composed all shades go well together.

Another yarn that caught my eyes initially is Wild Soft, a fingering weight, worsted spun blend of 60% Merino and 40% wild Tussah silk. It also has a DK weight, woollen spun sister yarn, Wild Wool Silk. I really like this idea of spinning the same blend differently depending on the resulting yarn weight! There definitely will be interesting differences in texture, reflection and drape in the results.

A more classic yarn quality is Pura Lana, a DK weight blend of 50% alpaca and 50% Merino. In my opinion, this eco-tex certified yarn could be an alternative to the squishy, pure Merino DK’s of other manufacturers. Gepard also has a GOTS certified base, Cotton Wool, a blend of 50% organic cotton and 50% organic Wool. It is availabe in fingering and aran weight.

I was really surprised by the beautiful knitting patterns. There were some of the designs at the booth which all were very clever with lovely little details.

If you like unusual hand-dyers, you might want to take a look at Urth.

It is a family owned American company which has their yarns dyed in Turkey. Apart from the sock yarns which contain 25% Nylon for durability, their yarns are 100% natural. They have semisolid range, Monokrom, in fingering, worsted and chunky weight single-ply Merino. The Uneek range comprises variegated, but tonal yarns on the single-ply Merino bases as well as a pure cotton DK weight and a self-striping sock yarn.

The sock yarn also comes in non-striping variegated colorways as Merino Sock.

Now to their true gems. Coexist is a fingering weight 80% silk and 20% Merino yarn, that I wish was available in semisolid colourways, but that I have seen in lightly variegated colourways only. I would like to try it anyway as I imagine the result to be super drapey but with a lot more elasticity than pure silk. The next rarity is a fingering weight 2-ply pure cashmere yarn, Kashmir Mono. It is available in a variety of semi-solid colourways, among them a beautiful dark grey.

Their most extraordinary approach, in my opinion, is Harvest, a fingering weight, plied, pure Merino. This collection is dyed with natural colours only with stunning results! They even have a black as black as can be. This is pretty difficult even with artificial dyes and this is dyed naturally. Wow.

Urth also supports the Trees for the Future project with one planted tree per skein of yarn sold. I am really happy to see more and more companies trying to be more eco-friendly by whatever approach. Maybe there is hope for future generations after all.

It is always a pleasure to see The Fibre Co. at H+H Cologne. They develop their own natural yarns and have strong values behind their products. I attended their Saturday brunch where Daphne introduced us to the company, the yarns and a new project: The one sweater. The idea is to provide a classic sweater pattern that comes in 13 (!) sizes and that can be styled to suit everybody’s wardrobe. This means all sizes, ethnicities and different styles. I am really looking forward for the campaign as I expect a large variety of interpretations.

Last year, Lore was introduced. It is a wonderful DK weight yarn made from British Romney sheep with a fantastic stitch definition. As it took way longer than one year to develop it, there will be no new yarn this year. Instead, the colour palettes of the existing yarns will be extended.

I am currently working on two projects with The Fibre Co. yarns and I like them so much that there might be more in the near future. I will tell you more, soon.

Pascuali served their yummy yarns in dessert bowls, ready to be tested by you.

They just have launched Cumbria, a vegan, fingering weight yarn made from 60% cotton and 40% rayon from bamboo. It is very soft, drapey and good to work with.

Apart from their vegan range, Pascuali is well-known for their luxury fibres. Their selection includes camel, cashmere, musk ox, yak and even vicuña. They offer everything to make a yarn lover’s heart beat faster.

GGH always has a beautiful way to highlight their products.

They showed some fresh designs and yarns for a/w 19/20. I particularly loved the three designs by their new designer Kseniya Bogdanovich.

If you are still looking for a yarn for your summer knits, I can definitely recommend their Bambu, a 100% rayon yarn made from bamboo. It is super soft, light and has a beautiful drape. It also is the yarn I chose to realise my Sleeves shrug.

Austermann surprised me with their brand new booth. Designed to provide a lot of open space, it was held in neutral colours to highlight their yarns.

Their novelties include a beautiful, DK dip-dye effect yarn (60% rayon, 40% wool), a fluffy alpaca yarn and a 100% cashmere, fingering weight chainette yarn. They also have some interesting designs for the next a/w season, e.g., a simple, yet wonderful hooded coat in Alpaca Fluffy.

Every year, I’m looking forward to see Novita‘s new colourwork designs. They never disappoint:

They recently have published a collaboration with Moomin featuring some really cute designs.

I really like Novita for their yarn policy. They often add new colourways and discontinue older ones, but the yarn bases change rarely. I, personally, am always happy to have long-term sources for durable, classic yarn qualities. Novita definitely is one of them.

This year, Rosarios4 are celebrating their 40th anniversary. At H+H, they took this opportunity to decorate a full wall of their booth with portraits of some of their workers at their workplaces.

The Portuguese company is not only a trader, but also a yarn manufacturer focusing more and more on natural yarns. Their eco-friendly (plastic-free) collection currently comprises 28 winter and 24 summer qualities they even have naturally dyed yarns and 5 GOTS certified, organic yarns. To draw more attention to this approach, there was a large shelf showcasing their sustainable products only.

Gedifra easily combines playfulness and opulence. Did you know that all of their yarns are mulesing-free? I fully appreciate this philosophy!

Their new yarns include a cashmere lace yarn made from 95% recycled cashmere fibres and 5% wool as well as a self-striping glitter sock yarn, skeined to be knit into two identical socks.

For the first time, I was invited to the Initiative Handarbeit blogger meet-up. They introduced their 2019 DIY project, a bum bag sewing pattern intended to be customised.

They also presented their sustainability project make me, take me in cooperation with Green Bag Lady. The idea is to sew, knit or crochet sustainable grocery bags to replace plastic bags. Initiative Handarbeit aims at 10.000 German bags to be made until the end of this year. To keep count, you can order numbered labels to put on your handmade bags.

I really like the concept, but Green Bag Lady has started this idea back in 2008 and me and all my friends and family already use sustainable shopping bags only, so I wonder if this initiative did not come up a bit late. However, I am happy for every plastic bag that can be avoided.

Like every year, Initiative Handarbeit also organised a fashion show with all the key looks by Lana Grossa, Swafing, Rico Design, Austermann, Online, Veno, CONCEPT by Katia, Gütermann creativ, GGH, Schachenmayr, Gedifra, Rowan and Lang Yarns.

Prym showed the next generation of their knitting mill which now can be fixed onto a tabletop and has the weight integrated into the overall design. Well done, this truly is an improvement!

They also have new pom-pom makers that feature handles to facilitate holding them.

Maybe they inspire you to make yourself such a gorgeous pom-pom chair:

I will close now with some pictures of the Katia booth which always is decorated beautifully. Thank you so much for having me, H+H Cologne! See you next year!

New Knitting Pattern: Sleeves

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I like the idea of shrugs to add sleeves to a sleeveless top on chilly summer evenings. The problem I have with them is that the connection between the sleeves covers the back of the top underneath. As it always looks ridiculous when you pair a shrug with a dramatic top, I decided to find a solution to my problem.

What I wanted was a pair of dramatic sleeves held together in a minimalist way. When I was still figuring out the details, I was given three balls of GGH Bambu for free at Yarncamp 2018 which turned out to be the perfect yarn with its wonderful drape. It was clear that I needed more yarn, so I bought seven more balls.

gathered sleeve

The result is a pair of extremely oversized balloon sleeves, held together by a steel chain at the neck and two i-cords to adjust the fit at your lower back:

© ggh-garn.de
© ggh-garn.de

You can buy the pattern on Ravelry. I am looking forward to see your interpretations!

The sample used almost ten balls of GGH Bambu in colourway 012 anthracite. Thanks a lot for providing the photos, ggh-garn.de!

skull cord ends

#diversknitty

I should have known there is no such thing as a safe place from my personal, privileged background, particularly not a crafting community. I am a white, genderqueer person living an alternative lifestyle. I have been pushed around and excluded often in my life, but this is nothing compared to the stories BIPOC (black and indigenous people of colour) have shared on Instagram.

The discussion started in early January with a problematic blog post by Karen Templer about her upcoming trip to india. @thecolormustard was one of the first people to dedicate her a series of Instagram stories highlighting the racist, white-privileged parts of the blog post. Other important contributors to this discussion are, among others, @su.krita,
@astitchtowear, @tina.say.knits, @ocean_bythesea, @booksandcables, @burkehousecrafts, @masteryarnsmith and @knitquiltsewstitch. All of them have fantastic story highlights on what it is all about and how to educate yourself on the topics of white privilege and (everyday) racism. Karen Templer reacted by trying to understand and unlearn her white supremacy. Nice move!

The Me and White Supremacy Workbook by Layla F. Saad is one of the most mentioned good sources. It consists of 28 short and easy lessons, each intended to be completed in one day. The introduction gives a round-up on the importance of working on one’s white supremacy and a short background to the book as such. It is completely free, but you may also donate a certain amount of money to the author. I am working with this workbook, too, although I have dealt with educating myself on racism before. There is always room for improvement.

After about two weeks of ongoing discussion on Instagram, I thought everyone had understood, that even in the oh-so-cosy knitting community there is a major issue with racism even if the dominant white part of it was not aware. Then Maria Tusken, a hand-dyer posted this video. If you are new to the topic of white supremacy, you may want to start the above mentioned workbook before you watch the video. The “issue” mentioned is called “racism”. People are accused of following a one-sided belief (racism) to bully others no matter if it ruined their business. She thinks there was a huge majority afraid to speak up against these false accusations. As if this was not enough, she has linked to a questionable video to support her views. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

In case you do not understand what is wrong with tuskenknits’ video, @antigonanyc has put a pretty good summary in her story highlights. What strikes me most, is the remark on the silent majority. This is a term used mainly by populist and right-wing activists to justify their actions. @astitchtowear also has a story highlight on the term “silent majority”, its origin as well as its current meaning. In short, the silent majority are “comfortable, housed, clad and fed [people], who constitute the middle stratum of society. But they aspire to more and feel menaced by those who have less”. Please let this sink in. Are you feeling exposed now? Act. Educate yourself. Speak up.

There are so many wonderful BIPOC, LGBT and differently discriminated people in the fibre world. It is time to change perspective from the current white-centered point of view. Be aware of white supremacy, unlearn it, stop excluding crafters with a different socio-cultural background from yours, support small BIPOC businesses, speak up. Racism is real.

Reusable Cotton Wool Pads

I actually had planned to abandon store-bought, single-use cotton pads for a while, but I just could not find the motivation to finally start making my own washable ones from cotton leftovers. However, sorting my stash recently made me aware of the huge amount of cotton leftovers waiting to be made into something. You can find quite a few (free) patterns for this crocheted version on Ravelry which are actually pretty similar. I chose one from 2013, DIY: Reusable Cotton Wool Pads by Lyndsey Haskell. The pattern is easy to follow and the pads are fast and fun to make. My first bunch comprises 15 ones which used up 58g of DK weight cotton yarn in sum. I have not tested them yet as I need about 50 of them to start the using/washing cycle in a relaxed way. So, there will be more of them, soon.

2018 Recap and a First Glimpse at 2019

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What a year. There were so many ideas but way too little time to follow all of them. Nonetheless, I have learned from any project I carried out this year.

The first project I want to mention here is the bullet journal I started in February. I have tried to involve monthly and weekly calendars, but changed to monthly and weekly to do’s as I tend to feel stressed by rigid deadlines. I also included mood and habit trackers which I gradually adapted to my needs. In late summer, I quit the concept of an analogue bullet journal and changed to an android app for mood and habit tracking as well as online notes I can share with others for my to do lists. This was the best decision as I did not like to always carry an A5 notebook with me and do not like to illustrate the pages, either. However, the notebook as such now serves as my DIY knitting planner and poetry notebook perfectly.

In March, I joined a WIP bingo which I followed loosely over the year. My lesson learned is, that any pressure does not help me to finish anything. When I am in a bad mood I will rather cry over the project I am forcing myself to finish than actually finish it. Nonetheless, I have finished 7/9 projects, another one requires only finishing and the last one is currently in progress. Not too bad, in my opinion.

I have participated in Fibreshare twice among other, smaller swaps. I was not aware I liked the idea that much, but it makes me happy to surprise other people. I will probably stick with this new approach.

The Inside Schoeller event was an overall highlight. I totally enjoyed the deep insight into the Schoeller company as well as the opportunity to test some of their yarns. I also was completely stunned, when Novita sent me a pattern booklet and some yarn samples for free after I had asked how to get a specific pattern. I meanwhile have ordered and stashed the rest of the yarns needed for the pattern. I actually wanted to knit the sweater as a KAL together with my friend Alice aka Brezelbutter, but this did not happen for several reasons. I hope we will start again in January.

Another development I am totally happy about is that I finally have freed myself from knitting patterns. Of course, I will always buy and knit patterns I like, but with projects like my Black Metal Hoodie and the cropped linen sweater which I have both designed myself, I see myself able to follow more my own ideas of fashion now. Maybe, I finally will publish some of the patterns. Be scared. 😉

Designing my own knits goes hand in hand with sewing my own garments. I have sewn myself an all black Linden Sweatshirt which I will show you in January as well as some party garments and have prepared some pure Merino cloth I am going to turn into a pair of pants, soon. I am dreaming of a 100% handmade wardrobe, but I am not sure how long this will take.

A project I have been working on for years now is my ever-growing stash. I currently hoard about 34 kg of yarn. About 7 kg of it are yarns I have acquired only last year and not used up. At least, I have knit almost 2.4 kg of yarn equivalenting 7670 m. That makes my average yarn weight in 2018 a sport weight. I hope to reduce my yarn stash in 2019, but we will see.

In contrast to my yarn hoarding problem, you will definitely see me at several meet-ups this year, which does not mean I might not show up at others:

29.-31.03.19 H+H Cologne

13./14.04.19 Leipziger Wollefest und Stoffmesse

17./18.08.19 Wollfestival Düsseldorf

September 2019 Berlin Knits

19./20.10.19 German Raveler Meeting Leipzig

02./03.11.19 Yarncamp Frankfurt

Enough for now as the first fireworks start to illuminate Leipzig’s evening sky. Have a fantastic New Year’s Eve and an even better start in 2019! Thank you for following me!