Pom-pom Mania

I’ve always liked pom-poms in theory, but have had problems producing one. Twice I’ve tried to make a pom-pom maker from cardboard and failed miserably. This year however I have accumulated such a large pile of yarn scraps that something had to be done. I don’t do a lot of stripes or colourwork, so pom-poms seemed like the perfect answer.

So I bought a plastic Clover pom-pom maker from the Tampere crafts fair.

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Well, obviously I had to first try pom-poms on hats. This one’s in Madelinetosh Tosh DK in “Maple Leaf”. The pattern is Helios from Pipo on pääasia.

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Malabrigo Twist in “Ravelry Red”. The pattern is Bobba by Woolly Wormhead. One skein was just barely enough for my (huge) noggin.

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And then I had The Idea. We never get a real big tree here since we won’t be at home for Christmas, but I still love to decorate as much as possible. So that’s our small plastic tree with pom-poms and sock yarn miniskeins. 

I have to admit that I also considered adding a pom-pom to the green beret I showed in the last post. But I’m trying to resist the urge for now.

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a very particular shade of green

Know how you often buy yarn in the same colour that you’re wearing? Well, I went to the Tampere craft fair like this:

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And bought this:

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Which became this:

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The sweater is a basic bottom-up raglan, knit using Elizabeth Zimmermann’s percentage system. I bought the yarn (Cascade 220) from Tampere two years ago, from the booth that’s in the background in the photo. (The sweater made a brief appearance in a post in March, so it’s been in the works for quite some time. Also, I am obviously obsessed with bright green.)

The yarn I bought this time is from Villavyyhti‘s booth, sparkly sock yarn by Lanitium ex Machina. I know they currently carry another sock yarn by the same dyer, but not this sparkly version. (You could always ask, though -at the Villavyyhti Ravelry group, for instance.)

I knew pretty much at once that I wanted to knit a fancy beret out of my green skein, but struggled with the particulars at first. My first attempt didn’t work and got ripped. I then decided to go top-down and to use two yarns. I got the idea to use a mohair/silk laceweight from the Simple Pleasures pattern (available for free). Mine isn’t Alchemy’s Haiku, though -it’s a very old stash yarn and probably another yarn company’s version of Rowan’s Kidsilk Haze.

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(Neither of the pictures shows the crown, but I used yarnovers for the increases.)

I am awfully pleased with the brim. The picot cast off took about 1.5 hours (or two episodes of Pushing Daisies, which might be the best show ever) but I like the result. Very fancy and girly.

And in case you’re wondering, the pictures of me modelling the beret were taken in Turku. We went there for a mini-holiday last weekend.

For a lunch in Turku, I would highly recommend the cafe Turun kirjakahvila. It’s all vegan and near the Turku Cathedral. 

 

It Is the Time (for Hat Knitting)

This fall has been great for knitting hats. First Woolly Wormhead’s pattern collection Classic Woolly Toppers came out, then the Finnish hat book Pipo on Pääasia, and, finally, Vogue Knitting The Ultimate Hat Book was published in November. Interweave’s hat book Weekend Hats is still on the shelves, too.

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Classic Woolly Toppers is the smallest collection with 10 patterns. The Vogue book is at the other end of the spectrum with 50 patterns. Weekend Hats and Pipo on pääasia hold the middle ground with 20-something patterns.

I have already written a review on Weekend Hats, which you can find here. But what about the others?

Classic Woolly Toppers is part of a series, in a way: the previous ones have focused on sideways construction, kids’ hats and cables. CWT has mostly knit-and-purl patterns but offers many hat styles, from newsboy cap to cloche.

Woolly Wormhead’s collection is self-published and available both as an ebook and a printed version. I do sometimes feel that she is overly fond of purling, but her patterns always include multiple sizes and are constructed in a knitter-friendly way. The pictures show the hats well and in this particular collection some hats are shown on more than one model.

Pipo on pääasia is a collaboration of four designers who have previously contributed to the Finnish online magazine Ulla. The book includes a wide variety of hat styles in many weights and has a highly useful technique section as well. The pictures triumph over those in the Vogue Knitting in every way: they are clear and beautiful yet keep the hats as the main thing.

My biggest peeve is of course again the lack of sizes. However, each pattern does also tell you the model’s head circumference, which helps me when I’m deciding how many modifications I need.

Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Hat Book is divided into 5 sections: basic shapes, cables, lace, colour and embellishments. Out of the 50 patterns maybe 20 have been previously published in the Vogue Knitting magazine. The designers range from the famous (Norah Gaughan, Deborah Newton) to never-heard-of.

Again, most patterns are written for one size only. This does not surprise at this point -what is far more puzzling is the lack of charts in some patterns that I think could have benefited from them. There are also huge pictures of many of the hats, but that does not guarantee that any of them shows the crown (I strongly dislike sloppy decreases, and lack of pictures always makes me suspicious). Yet I can’t say I regret buying the book: with 50 patterns, the price per pattern is very small, even if I knit only some of them. I also often find the fashion-conscious pictures very inspiring, if not always that useful.

Fall in Pictures

August-September 

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Walking in Vanhakaupunki (literally “Oldtown”).

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The Girl Hat That Was On Fire (Slable by Woolly Wormhead)

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Even though I dislike Juha Tapio and have seen Kaksi vanhaa puuta lyrics used in way too many wedding invitations, the song still makes me cry every fricking time.

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My mother insisted on celebrating my graduation somehow. Because I threatened not to show up if I didn’t get to do the planning, the guests very few and all food vegan. The menu was:

Mushroom Focaccia (recipe from Chocochili)

My father’s Waldorf Salad, recipe for vegan dressing from Papu, porkkana ja hillopulla by Marianne Kiskola

Rachel Ray’s quinoa salad with roasted bell peppers (shown in the photo)

Soyballs from Veganissimo (shown)

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Dessert: modified version of the cake in Puputyttö ja vohvelisankari (featuring Airy & Creamy soycream) and banana-lingonberry cake (Chocochili)

October

More walking:

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Featuring yet another hat! This one I testknit for Stefanie Bold. The cardigan is also a handknit, but was made by my mother at least 20 years ago.

More eating:

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Vegan cupcakes from Niia’s Cupcakes. They have a stand in Forum Shopping Center and I’m pretty sure also do catering and stuff. The strawberry cupcake=piece of heaven.

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(Yep, more hats. Also featuring the Essayist Sweater.)

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We’ve been really enjoying the Great Outdoors this fall: mushroom picking with my father, walking in Keskuspuisto…It probably helped that temperatures were pretty high for most of September and October. However, it snowed last night so this weekend doesn’t look that promising. But I’m very happy I enjoyed it while it lasted!

Vegan Hostess’ Chickpea Salad

[Bilingual, because I’m participating in a Finnish cooking challenge. The challenge is vegan food and what you would serve to a vegan guest. Details in Finnish here]

Olen jo tainnutkin mainita, että teen usein salaattia kun meille on tulossa vieraita. Niistä syntyy vähemmän tiskiä ja ruoan voi tehdä valmiiksi. Lisäksi kevyempi pääruoka tarkoittaa, että jälkiruoalle jää enemmän tilaa. Mikäs sen mukavampaa 😉

As I’ve mentioned before, I often make a salad when we have guests coming over. Two important reasons for this are that there’s usually less cleaning up to do and a cold salad can be prepared in advance. A light main dish also means that I can bring out the big guns with the dessert 😉

Yleensä käytän aika paljon reseptejä (jos ei muuten niin inspiraationa), mutta yksi menneen kesän suosikkisalaateistani on omasta päästä (vaikkakin niin simppeli, ettei se paljoa miettimistä vaadi). Tätä olen ehtinyt tarjota jo lähestulkoon jokaiselle jonka kanssa syön edes satunnaisesti yhdessä.

Usually I cook from other people’s recipes, or at the very least use them as an inspiration. However, this past summer I came up with a super simple salad that quickly became one of my favourites. I’ve served it to practically everybody I on occasion eat with.

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Summer Chickpea Salad / Kesäinen kikhernesalaatti

Enough for two hungy people / kahdelle nälkäiselle

5 dl of pasta / pastaa

one garlic clove / yksi valkosipulin kynsi

230 g ready-to-eat chickpeas / valmiita kikherneitä

70 g rucola (a.k.a rocket salad and arugula, according to Wikipedia)

juice of half a lemon / puolikkaan sitruunan mehu

canola oil to taste  / rypsiöljyä maun mukaan

salt and pepper to taste / suolaa ja pippuria maun mukaan

 

Cook the pasta / keitä pasta.

Crush the garlic clove / puserra valkosipuli.

Rinse the chickpeas and rucola / huuhtele kikherneet ja rucola.

Mix the pasta with the garlic and chickpeas / sekoita valkosipuli ja kikherneet pastan joukkoon.

Squeeze in the lemon juice and stir a bit / puserra sitruunamehu joukkoon ja sekoita hieman.

Add the rucola and canola oil / lisää rucola ja rypsiöljy.

Finally, add salt and pepper and mix well / lopuksi lisää suola sekä pippuri ja sekoita hyvin.

 

 

 

 

(Un)selfish Knitting

I usually knit just for myself. Being able to wear things I’ve made is part of the fun, and I believe I will always appreciate my handknits more than anyone else would. When I do knit for others, it’s always small items that I then give as gifts. 

I’ve gotten used to thinking of myself as a selfish knitter because I keep most of the things I’ve made. But lately I’ve been wondering…Isn’t knitting something you have absolutely no use for, and because of that giving it to someone, just as selfish?

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Some weeks ago, I was thinking about how fun knitting sweaters is in theory: they have many parts (providing the knitter with some variation in the work), can be made so that all the yarn is used (especially easy if knitting top-down), and are eminently very useful and can be admired by other people (not hidden in your shoe like socks). In practise, however, a sweater for me takes a long time and a lot of yarn. So when my mother told me that a family friend had just had a baby girl, it felt like a Sign. A baby sweater! Of course!

Pattern: “Sock” It to Me (for Girls) from Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders

Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight, colourway “sweet pea”

Thoughts: I really had fun knitting this. It’s not too plain to be boring to knit, but not too complicated either. It’s an incredibly fast knit, too (took me a week, even with sewing the sleeves and getting buttons!). 

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Pattern: Gwynedd from Knitscene Fall 2010

Yarn: Leftovers from my Wondertunic -Le Fibre Nobili Super Tajmahal

Thoughts: The model in the magazine has a similar head shape than a friend of mine, who also celebrated her birthday recently, so I made the hat for her. I still think the hat’s cute, although I’m not sure whether she plans to ever wear it…

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Pattern: Pavone by Woolly Wormhead

Yarn: Artesano Superwash Merino DK

Thoughts: I wanted very much to knit this pattern in this yarn, but didn’t have enough yardage to make it in my size. I decided that I’d rather make it in a smaller size and give it to someone than try to make the bigger size and run out of yarn. Luckily I found someone who accepted it 🙂

But even among this sort-of-selfish knitting, I have managed to finish one true labour of love:

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Pattern: Cauchy from Sock Innovation

 Yarn: Wollmeise Twin (80% merino, 20% nylon), colourway “maus alt”

Thoughts: These socks took f o r e v e r. Really! I started them in July 2010 and finished in August this year. Mostly it was because of my decision to use 1.75mm needles for superdense fabric, but also because that damn pattern isn’t as easy to memorize as one might expect. While both socks have the same number of rounds, they are not identical because I sort of made up my own zigzags. I also changed the stitch count, did a different cast-on and my usual short-row heel. So very little of Cookie A’s pattern remains, really.

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beauty is twice beauty

and what is good is doubly good

when it is a matter of two socks

made of wool in winter. 

Pablo Neruda

 

Deutschland! (Part III)

The last post about my summer vacation -and about time too, since summer is pretty much over!

Part I (Berlin) is here.

Part II (Dresden) is here.

And my report on my excursion to the Wollmeise store is here.

Now all that remains is Münich.

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View from the tower in the Olympic Park. Note the huge BMW logo. If you ever go to Münich with a car-enthusiast, the BMW museum is a must. Even for me it wasn’t too dull.

It might be because we stayed in Münich longer than in the other cities, or because there we got to experience some serious summer heat, but it might have been my favourite. It’s not as huge as Berlin, so walking was easier, food was great, the weather was warm and people less homogeneous.

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We did a lot of the basic tourist stuff. There are a ton of beautiful churches in Münich -my favourite was one that is on a small shopping street, nestled between clothing stores and cafés. To step from a busy 21st century shopping area to a highly ornamental 19th century church feels surreal. There was also a small yarn store nearby, that I came across simpyl by accident. And it wasn’t even the only time – I found another LYS near the Filmmuseum of Münich. Even if the Wollmeise store wasn’t just a train ride away, Münich would still be a great place for knitters.

When it comes to the restaurants, there were a few definite highlights. The first one is Max Pett.

An all-vegan restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, the place was just the perfect one for dining on a hot July night. Fancy enough for special occasions, but not so formal as to make me uncomfortable in a tank top.

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This photo was taken the night we ate outside. My starter salad had a Asian vibe (with mushrooms and seitan meat), and was very delicious. The drink is rhubarb juice mixed with sparkling water. It’s hard to buy good rhubarb juice in Finland, so I used every opportunity for it in Germany,

We ate at Max Pett twice and I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you are planning to go, do reserve a table, however -the place got very full on our first visit.

For a compeltely different meal, I recommend Royal Kebabhaus, located at Arnulfstrasse 5 (right next to the main railway station):

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Yep, vegan kebab! The place was open pretty late, and the staff was very friendly and understood English. Especially great if you have only a short time in Münich.

So, that’s pretty much it! I had so much fun on the trip that I could seriously imagine going again.