Birds of a Feather

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When the wonderful Uschitita was looking for sample knitters, I did not hesitate a second to apply. My project was a Birds of a Feather shawl in Uschitita Merino Singles and Uschitita Kidsilk Lace, both in her new colourway Cloudbusting.

The yarns are a dream to work with. Both are super soft and of very good fibre quality. The colours are subtle, yet have endless depth. I would describe the colourway as a toned-down variegated to be used as a semisolid colourway. Try to see her handdyed yarns with your own eyes and you will know what I mean.

The pattern seems to be written for beginners which confused me more than once. You can break it down to a set-up, two pattern blocks and a border in two different shaping variations. So I do not understand why it is spread out onto five pages. Maybe it is due to my engineering background that this bothers me. However, it is well written and suitable even for beginners.

I have used 144g of Merino Singles and 49g of Kidsilk Lace. The finished and lightly blocked shawl has a wingspan of almost 4m. You can see it live at 2019 Edinburgh Yarn Festival. I really enjoyed knitting this!

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Inside Schoeller

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I was super happy when I received my invitation to the Schoeller blogger event, particularly as it included a factory tour at their dye works in Hard, Austria. A perfect combination of my degree in engineering and my love for knitting! Of course, I confirmed the invitation and was delighted to meet Rebekka, Alice, Kiki, Miki, Fritzi, Stefanie, Janine, Jasmin, Katha, Simone, Steffi, Marco and Julia-Maria. We were welcomed with a cup of coffee in a beautifully decorated conference room.

First, we were introduced to the company, whose main branch are industrial yarns. With their dye works located within sight of Lake Constance, they had to fulfill a lot of environmental requirements very early. The result is, that their yarns are bluesign approved, the treatment for their machine-washable yarns is chlorine-free and as a bonus, they are mulesing-free as they use south-american Merino only.

The tricky part is, not all their handknitting yarns are manufactured by themselves. So the Austermann Merino yarns, Schoeller Zimba and all sock yarns are produced to the Schoeller standards, other yarns may or may not be chlorine-free or bluesign approved, depending on the individual case. However, I am deeply impressed, Schoeller is working on a sustainable production.

If you are interested in my pretty technical summary of the factory tour, you can find it in my Instagram story highlights. Nonetheless, I want to write about some details here.

This is a poster showing the fineness of sheep wool depending on the animal part it is shorn from. The lower the number, the finer is the fibre. As you can see, the shoulder part (1) is where you find the finest hair with only 14,5 micrometers in diameter. This is how it looks like as a wool top:

Sadly, this quality is so hard to spin that fine hand knitting yarns usually start from 16,5 micrometer fine fleeces.

As industrial yarns are knit on knitting machines, they must not have considerably thicker or thinner sections. During quality assurance, these sections are cut out and the yarn is joined with a technique known as “Russian join” in hand knitting:

After lunch, we were introduced to the design philosophy behind the Austermann and Schoeller+Stahl hand knitting yarns as well as their knitting patterns. They also had brought a lot of their knits to take a detailed look at them. As all of us had received a large package of yarns to play with beforehand, we were asked to show our projects and to share our opinions about the yarns we had used. My favourite projects were a cardigan and a hand bag knit by Fritzi and a cowl by Alice. I will show you my own projects in a separate post, soon.

Thank you so much for inviting me, it was a blast! It was totally worth the 20 hours I spent in Flixbuses to get to Lake Constance and back. The day passed by way too fast with an amazing insight into the company and some really good talks. Well done, Schoeller!

Finally, a sweater for myself

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This is not my first sweater, by far. But it is the first sweater I love and wear from the start. It is made of beautiful Lana Grossa Evento, a discontinued cotton and merino blend in DK weight. The raglan pattern is from Phildar and actually was intended to have a woven back. I tried, but my yarn was way too soft and weaving knitted strips across the back did not hold its shape at all.

After a year or so of hibernating, I still wanted to wear the sweater, but it still lacked the back part. I somehow stumbled upon this Russian lace pattern and found it quite appropriate. The only tricky part was to fit a lace back into a complete but backless sweater. Well, obviously, I succeeded. And here’s a picture of the result:

A linen stitch scarf

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Once again, my huge yarn stash was driving me crazy, when a friend asked me to knit him a scarf. I found three balls of dark grey, DK weight alpaca yarn and some colourful DK weight merino scraps. To add some extra spice, I decided to knit the scarf in linen stitch. I loosely followed the Cerus Scarf pattern, but I cast on 445 stitches and added one colour row after two grey ones. The idea of adding fringe was partly due to omitting sewing in a gazillion of lose ends, partly due to achieving softer edges. The result is 2.10 m long (without the fringe) and 15 cm wide after 37 rows.

Scrappy Mittens

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The destashing continues, this time with a pair of mittens for a dear friend. I have chosen the Kinos pattern as I liked the idea of showcasing a short row construction with stripes.

The pattern is well written and great fun to knit. I have used 65g of DK weight Merino scraps for a medium men’s size. You definitely should give this pattern a try!

The Stripey Baby Hoodie

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It is a miracle I have finished this one although it has turned out to be probably the most beautiful baby garment I have knit so far. But back to its beginning, this cardigan has quite a story to tell.

I wanted to knit another baby hoodie for a friend, restricting myself to use stashed yarn and not to buy a pattern. There was an almost neon variegated skein of Tausendschön extrafine Merino I wanted to use, but I was unsure if 100g of fingering weight yarn would be enough for a little hoodie. As my stash did not offer any matching semi-solid yarn, I bought a skein of dark grey Schoppel Admiral Melange at Maschenkunst to make a striped cardigan. The colors are a perfect match, even if I had to buy the grey one. Both yarns knit up well, although the Tausendschön one is plied a bit loosely, probably to emphasise the softness of the fibre. Nonetheless, I like both of them a lot.

After searching Ravelry for a suitable pattern, I found Hættetrøje, a free Danish pattern. I do not speak any Danish, but this is by far not the first baby hoodie I have knit and with Google Translate on my smartphone, I was not afraid at all to use this pattern. The language in fact was not a problem, but the pattern as such was. I cannot recommend to knit the suggested armhole shaping. In the unlikely case I should knit that pattern again, I would definitely change to a drop-shoulder construction. The described armhole shaping just did not work out at all, so that I decided to loosely follow Knit Purl’s Alpha B Basic Baby Cardigan pattern concerning armhole and sleeve shaping (and measurements). I also have added a bit of neck shaping which I took from a Drops pattern. Surprisingly, the sleeves fitted perfectly into the armholes at the first try. The buttons are from La Droguerie in Lille, but they are so tiny, I needed eight buttons to be able to close the cardigan instead of five bigger ones as suggested in the pattern. However, the cardigan looks gorgeous and thus was worth all the effort.

Babies need Hoodies!

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Hoodies give extra warmth and cosiness. Perfect for little humans, at least in my opinion, which is why I like knitting them as birth gifts. Here’s the latest one, a Little Spring Hoodie, designed by Suvi Simola. I actually planned to knit it in Filatura di Crosa’s Zara in turquoise, but I ran out of yarn. Diving into my stash brought to light leftovers in lilac (Zara as well) and some grey Katia Merino 100%, all of them bought at Cologne’s awesome LYS Maschenkunst.

Although the colour scheme is extremely improvised, I really like it. I hope the young parents do as well.

Little Spring Hoodie