Oscillating Almond

[advertisement: unpaid links]

It is no secret that I love the fresh approach of Xandy Peters‘ knitting patterns. So when a dear friend asked me to knit her something between a scarf and a shawl, I initially thought of Oscillating Almond. This design uses a simple form of stacked stitches to create an almond shaped shawl and can be used to practise the technique. It is intended to be knit in at least one main colour plus one contrasting colour, but will also look good in a lot more colours. I have used two balls of the discontinued Colinette Jitterbug in Lichen as main colour and one ball of some sparkling high twist yarn of unknown origin as well as some Kathienchen High Twist in Peony as contrasting colours.

The yarns

My version is a lot larger than the pattern version as I wanted to use up my main colour. This approach resulted in a shawl with five full pattern repeats plus eight rows more. It weighs about 380g and has almost blanket size.

It’s HUGE!

Well aware of the large size, I did a beaded picot bind-off over 940 stitches which took me an entire Sunday afternoon and evening, but was totally worth the effort. I really like the slight reflections of the beads at the edge.

Beaded picot bind-off

Oscillating Almond was a pleasure to knit. The pattern is well-written and easy to follow and my yarn choice was perfect. Maybe I’ll knit another version of it one day in black with scrappy colour pops.

Rowan Roadshow

[advertisement: PR event]

I still remember how I spent some of my childhood days in Britain. When I was exploring the city with my mum, I would always stop at the local yarn shop and gaze at the windows in wonder. None of us was knitting back then, but both of us admired the stranded colourwork, heavy intarsia and cable knit jumpers in beautiful, muted colour palettes.  The pattern books that also were on display indicated a yarn brand called Rowan which was responsible for the designs I instantly had fallen in love with.

More than a decade later when I finally started to knit, I was happy to learn that this company still existed and was pretty famous for their high quality yarns and exquisite designs. I browsed their patterns on Ravelry and started to collect older issues of the knitting and crochet magazine. My first Rowan sweater followed soon. It was knit in Kid Classic, a wool, mohair and nylon blend I still like a lot. Currently, I am knitting a yoked sweater in Kidsilk Haze, but I will tell you more about it another time.

I am glad to have been invited to the Rowan roadshow in Hamburg where I had the opportunity to learn more about a brand that has been inspiring me for such a long time. The company still follows its heritage of quality yarns in paintbox colour palettes paired with timeless design. I was a bit ashamed that I had missed the launch of two pure British yarn qualities, Valley Tweed and Moordale. Both are spun in Britain from British Fleece and are featured in this autumn’s British Made pamphlet. You may have noticed already that the Knitting and Crochet Magazine now is divided into a main collection and the Focus magazine. This season, Rowan focuses on natural fibres but the topic will change every season. You can purchase these two publications bound together with a wrap or individually which I find a pretty cool idea.

A completely new concept is Mode at Rowan. This collection is a capsule wardrobe in a contemporary design that reflects current fashion trends. The patterns are intended to fit easily into your wardrobe and beginner-friendly to knit. This fall, Mode at Rowan consists of a large pattern book with 18 patterns and four smaller publications showcasing one yarn quality each.

Another new concept is the 4 project pamphlet. Each issue has four patterns in one yarn quality and is yarn shop exclusive, so not available online. But talking online availability, I am delighted to find the patterns of all other new Rowan publications for individual purchase on their website! An exception is the Rowan Magazine which is available in a digital version only in the Rowan App.

One of my personal highlights this season is Arne & Carlos’ remarkable men’s collection. It is called New Nordic Men’s Collection and interprets classic Norwegian knits in a fresh and modern way. Vegard, Vidar and Jens are my favourites, but all designs are really clever. I would definitely wear them myself as they perfectly work as unisex designs.

There are two new yarns for this season, Cashmere Haze and Island Blend. Cashmere Haze is a laceweight blend of 40% alpaca, 30% cashmere and 30% silk with a meterage of 230m per 25g ball. It is a sister yarn to Kidsilk Haze but even softer and more luxurious.

Island Blend is a DK weight yarn composed of 70% Falkland merino wool, 15% baby alpaca and 15% silk. It is super soft and has a beautiful stitch definition.

I also was allowed to take a first glimpse at the SS20 collection, but at the moment, I am mainly looking forward to fully indulge in winter, my favourite season. I will let you know more later this year.

Thank you, Rowan, for the wonderful and informative meeting in Hamburg! Also thank you for the product samples, I am looking forward to try them out!

New Knitting Pattern: Jewels

[advertisement: yarn support, unpaid links]

When I first started to experiment with stacked stitches, a technique Xandy Peters is quite famous for, I was fascinated by the endless possibilites that opened up to me. One of them was using stacked increases for shaping, so I created an unusual edging for an otherwise pretty classic, cap-sleeved, slightly cropped tee. This included contrasting bobbles to add that little extra something. Jewels was born and already is my favourite top to wear this fall.

If you have never worked stacked stitches before, the technique may seem a bit intimidating, but I found it quite easy to learn. It allows to create wavy structures without any short rows or a gazillion of individually attached pieces. Nonetheless, I recommend to take a test run with some scrap yarn to get used to it.

Jewels is part of The Fibre Co.‘s yarn support programme and uses their wonderful Road to China Light, a luxury blend of 65% baby alpaca, 15% silk, 10% camel and 10% cashmere. The sport weight yarn is very soft, warm yet light and gives extraordinary drape. Jewels is worked top-down in one piece with set-in sleeves. It is slightly cropped and intended to end at the top edge of a medium-waist pair of jeans. Jewels comes in 17 sizes from 28” – 60” bust circumference. You can buy the pattern on Ravelry. I am looking forward to your interpretations!

Please contact me in case you need a larger size, I am sure we can work it out.

New Knitting Pattern: Nightshade

[advertisement: yarn support, unpaid links]

The idea behind Nightshade dates back quite a while to when my aunt asked me to knit her a cropped summer sweater. It should be ridiculously wide and boxy but at the same really short to just cover the breasts. The sleeves were intended to look like long sleeves, but in fact should just reach from the wrists to the elbows and be super tight. Sounds like a challenge? Well, here is the solution!

Nightshade is a lightweight, drapey, cropped sweater. This perfect layering piece for chilly summer evenings ends above your waist so you can wear it 90s-style to a pair of low-rise pants or in a more contemporary fashion to a high-waist bottom. The body is worked flat, the sleeves are worked in the round. All pieces are knit bottom-up and then sewn together. You can easily adapt the body to knitting in-the-round, but I recommend to stick to the pattern as the side seams add structure.

The shape of this sweater is very bold, so I have added minimalist, rolled edges to keep the focus on the shape. The yarn used is The Fibre Co. Meadow, a luxurious, fingering weight blend of 40% Merino wool, 25% baby llama, 20% silk and 15% linen. The yarn is drapey, soft and rustic at the same time with a beautiful semisolid colour effect due to the different fibre types. The surprisingly good meterage of the yarn makes my size M (36-38” bust circumference) sample weigh only 214g!

As Nightshade is my first graded pattern and I had problems finding test knitters, the sizes currently range from 28-30” to 52-54” bust circumference. If you need a larger size, please contact me and let me know which size you are interested in. I am sure we can work it out together. Please also contact me when you like my style and are interested in test knitting future patterns. I have a lot of ideas waiting to become new patterns!

You can buy the Nightshade pattern on Ravelry, as always. Go, show it a little love! Happy knitting!

A Full Intarsia Argyle Sweater

[advertisement: unpaid links]

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.

New Knitting Pattern: The Hipster

[advertisement: unpaid links]

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!

Leipzig Wollefest 2019

[advertisement: unpaid links]

Last weekend, I attended the 12th edition of the annual Leipzig Wollefest. I love this event as the location, the exhibition centre’s glass hall, and the vendor’s list are both pretty extraordinary. As usually, I will introduce you to my latest discoveries as you probably already know the well-established exhibitors.

The very first booth that caught my eye was Kathienchen, a German hand dyer from Dresden.

She offers complex colourways on a variety of mostly Merino based yarn bases. She also sells high-quality kid silk lace yarns with a very high fibre length.

I have found the perfect match for two other yarns there that needed a third colour to become a shawl for a friend. I could not be happier with my High Twist in Peony!

Mominoki, a Berlin based hand dyer, showed semi-solid colourways on rustic yarns.

This is exactly what I had been looking for for quite a while now, and they even have two different bases, a fingering weight Finnish wool and a DK weight German Merino. Both are available undyed and plant dyed, the Finnwool also has acid dyed colourways.

Apart from those perfect-for-me bases, Mominoki offers some more yarns, an optionally plant dyed, drapey ramie silk, plied Merinos, singly-ply Merino and sock yarns. You definitely might want to give them a try.

Another vendor selling beautiful, rustic wool was Nordische Wolle.

They sell rustic, DK weight Baltic yarns in hanks of about 200g in a large variety of colours, but also ready-made stranded hats. The yarns are collected from the area around the Baltic spinnery, so they are entirely locally produced.

Moi Naturwaren showed handwoven linen and woollen cloths as well as plant-dyed yarns and ready-made caps.

All of their natural products are manufactured using traditional methods and processes as well as natural dyes where possible. I am very happy for every company that dares to follow such a consistent approach in today’s volatile times and hope there are enough customers to support them even in the long run.

Another cloth vendor worth I did not know before is Natur zum Anziehen.

This Berlin based online shop offers natural cloths only along with their own sewing patterns. I am particularly delighted to hear they plan to open a brick and mortar shop in the near future in Berlin.

Do you know the concept of Peace Silk?

This means that the silk worms are allowed to complete their metamorphosis and live, which results economically in a much longer process with shorter silk threads. This does not lead to a lower silk quality, it is just more difficult to produce. It is even possible to weave superfine cloths with a classik silken touch.

Seidentraum offer quite a large range of silk cloths, silk yarns and many more silk products. This is definitely a company worth supporting!

Another ethical company I found is we are KAL, a slow-fashion producer of handwoven scarves, handmade garments, handspun yarns, home textiles and hand knits.

They mainly use local and organic raw materials which are plant-dyed only. The idea is to preserve craft and culture in Ladakh, Assam and Himachal Pradesh by valueing their handmade textiles. I greatly appreciate this approach!

There were quite some local alpaca breeders showing their products. One of them was Starker Alpakas from the Dresden region, who sold handmade soaps, yarns, socks and other products.

Another breeder was Sachsen Alpakas, who sold yarns, spinning fibre, garments and cloths.

What I particularly liked was their faux fur, woven with alpaca fibre. It is super soft and warm and has a fantastic look and feel.

I am looking forward to the next Wollefest in 2020! It is always a pleasure to be there!