Tag Archives: socks

(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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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

 

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A surprise, a blue ensemble, and socks

Surprise: I have a pattern in Ulla!

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Pattern: in Finnish, here

Yarn: Wollmeise 80/20 twin, leftover from a shawl I knit two summers ago

Thoughts: Not the most spectacular hat nor pattern, but pretty exciting nontheless ๐Ÿ™‚

The blue shawl I showed last time did also get finished in time.

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For some reason I look extremely white and annoyed. Oh, the mysteries of photography.

Pattern: Evi by Stricklust, available for free through Ravelry

Yarn: Wollmeise 100% merino, in WD Blue Curacao

Thoughts: Easy pattern, a relatively quick knit (I started on June 1st and finished last Saturday, June 16th). In the end I actually ran out of yarn while binding off, and had to finish with some random Finnish sock yarn.

The pattern is very easy to memorize, and looks impressive although it’s just knits and purls. I got less repeats than the pattern specified, so my gauge was probably off. I always use size 3.5mm needles for knitting lace with Wollmeise. For this shawl I used my new Chiagoo Lace needles that are pure love -pointy tips and a strong cord. I got mine from Villavyyhti in Helsinki.

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Despite my morose expression, I can assure you that the party was fabulous.

Finally, I have a pair of very sweet socks:

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Pattern: just my basic sock -72 sts, short-row heel. 

Yarn: Ladybug Fiber Company 400yards/100g sock yarn. This is the softest, squishiest sock yarn you can imagine! Knitting it was pure joy -it’s a very round 2-ply, a blend of 80% merino and 20% nylon. I imagine it would also be perfect for cables (this self-striping version of course is best in stockinette). 

The colourway is named “Johnny Jump Up” (google tells me it’s a flower) but I think of these as my Cupcake Socks. The colours make me think of sprinkles and frosting and all things sweet. And of course yarn this nice feels like a treat.

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An Anniversary

I’ve had grand ambitions about all sorts of things that I want to write about (Rufus! VegFest! Spring walks in Helsinki! More vegan baking!) but have directed too much of my energy elsewhere to have any left for blogging. Luckily I have perfected the quick-and-dirty-version of cooking and cleaning -surely I can adapt the same principles to writing…

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The socks are done! Have been for a while now. 

Yarn: Zitron Trekking Pro Natura, dyed by me using KoolAid (success!)

Pattern: I picked the stitch pattern from Pieni suuri neulekirja (orig. Knitting Stitches: over 300 contemporary and traditional stitch patterns) by Mary Webb. Otherwise this is my basic sock – 72 sts, short-row heel and all that jazz.

Speaking of quick-and-dirty cooking…

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Some of our guests probably think that all I ever eat is salads, because I serve them so often. This one’s one of my favourites: tasty, healthy, filling and ready in 20 minutes. The recipe is from Viiden tähden vegaani.

Because I somehow felt too busy/tired to write last week, I also missed my blog’s anniversary. Yep, I’ve been writing here for a year now!

I’ve received prizes from other people’s giveaways, but have never hosted one myself. This occasion seemed like the perfect excuse to have one, especially since I have the perfect prize:

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It’s fingering weight sock yarn (60% wool, 20% bamboo, 20% silk) from Handu. She’s a fantastic Finnish dyer and co-author of the book Neulekirja. I’ve used her other yarns before (most recently in one of the stockinette socks), but this skein I got as a mistake. It’s still very pretty, though, and should make some knitter very happy.

So here’s the deal. I’ve learned that in the knitting community nothing draws out people like free yarn, and I’m shamelessly going to take advantage of this fact now.

Posterous has some kind of page-hit statistics, and although the numbers are fairly small, I’m guessing they can’t all be from M (or our cat-loving friend ๐Ÿ˜‰ but have not entirely ruled out the possibility of Posterous reporting some ghost readers. Therefore: comments needed!

Place a comment for a chance to win the yarn. I’m going to randomly pick one winner on June 1st. You do not need to be in Finland/Europe to be eligible.

Please mention in your comment if you’re not a knitter (alternative prize needed) or are vegan/strict vegetarian (alternative yarn needed). Other information is also welcome, such as how you found me.

(total fail in quick-and-dirty blogging, btw!)

 

Copenhagen!

This year, my busy April also included a trip!

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My Travelling Sock Picture (à la Yarn Harlot). The sock is the second of the pair (first one was finished before we left).

Although I had knitting in my bag for most of the time, I actually knit very little during the trip. Most knitting was accomplished on the plane to & from Copenhagen. I also managed a few rounds while waiting in line at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. I even received a few comments from another Finnish tourist who was also a knitter. I gave her the address of the yarn store in Copenhagen I had already visited. Speaking of which…

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The store is called Sommerfuglen, you can see it behind the water fountain. It’s not the only yarn store in the city, but I’ve understood it is the best. I didn’t buy very much since a lot of the US import brands would be cheaper for me in Finland, because of the current Danish Krone-Euro -exchange rate. But it was the first time I saw Namaste bags in person. I have one I bought online and was seriously tempted to get a different one.

That’s pretty much all the knitting-related stuff about our trip. But I have some excellent restaurants to recommend!

For starters: I got all my information about where to get vegan food in Copenhagen from HappyCow. It has always served me well. If I went travelling in Finland I would also check the restaurant reviews from Animalia’s website.

Firefly

Homepage here

We went here on the first night, rather exhausted from a day of travel. It’s all-vegan and pretty near some of the other places we ate at. The place looks rather trendy which I always find scary, but the staff was friendly. At least on a weekday night, other customers seemed to be tourists as well.

The dinner was excellent -too pricey to be eaten every week but a perfect beginning to our vacation. I especially loved the desserts:

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I had raspberry cheesecake (the “cheese” made from cashews), the BF ate buckthorn berry sorbet. I loved the cake so much that we actually went back to Firefly another day, just for desserts.

Green Sushi

Homepage here (we only visited the restaurant on Gronnegade)

There aren’t that many places in Helsinki where you can get good vegan sushi, so in Copenhagen this restarant was a must. It isn’t all-vegan, but had a decent selection and vegan items were clearly marked on the menu.

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I had the 11-piece vegan set for lunch. Yummy! Very reasonably priced too. We came back another day for dinner and weren’t disappointed then either.

Naturbageriet

Homepage here

As the name suggests, this is a bakery. It’s pretty small but located near the Firely and Kalaset (see below) restaurants and had good vegan carrot cake ๐Ÿ™‚

Kalaset

Info here

Very laid-back, nearly packed on a Saturday afternoon. Not all-vegan (or even all-vegetarian) but again, everything was clearly marked on the menu. I had the vegan burger:

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The (homemade) ketchup was like a revelation and the burger plenty big. Also: good beer!

SimpleRaw

Homepage here

All-raw, all-vegan, small place with a very Scandinavian decor. Menu was only in Danish but the waitress offered help (and I still remember some Swedish). We shared a meze-plate that had small portions of everything (pretty good, especially the lentil steak) but were too full to try the desserts. They looked delicious, though.

Finally, I have to mention Kokkeriet. It was recommended to us by a vegetarian couple, yet it’s by no means a vegetarian restaurant. I have no idea how they got the idea to eat there. However, I can testify that if you notify the restaurant ahead of time, they can prepare a vegan menu that is well-thought-out and definitely suitable for special occasion dinners.

Socks and Celebrations

The end of April is always a busy time for me, and this year it’s even more so. Luckily it’s mostly the fun kind of busy ๐Ÿ™‚

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It’s not really a celebration without flowers…

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…or cake. This is only one of three cakes and the one made by me. The recipe is from a Finnish vegan cookbook (Puputytön juhlakirja). My mother made a vegan strawberry cake (from a recipe in Puputyttö ja vohvelisankari) that was absolutely delicious as well.

But I have been knitting too! Mostly socks. Maybe my sock mojo is really back this time?

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Pattern: none, except for the heel. I inserted an afterthought heel to my basic sock using Lala’s sock pattern (ravelry pattern page here and video tutorial here). I don’t think I’ll be doing it again very soon -it requires kitchener stitch and is more fiddly than my usual short-row heel (that I learned from cosmicpluto’s tutorial years ago). But I’m happy that I tried it, and now I have perfectly stripy socks ๐Ÿ™‚

Yarn: Baby Boom by Fiesta Yarns, colourway “spring chill”. I bought the skein from another raveller two(?) years ago. It’s not a self-striping yarn, so I was really amazed at the pretty even stripes. That’s why I tried the afterthought heel -I didn’t want the stripe sequence to get messed up.

Thoughts: They are very pretty and soft, but why do I have so many blue(ish) socks? I now have seven pairs of blue/turquoise socks. And more are on the way:

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This sock has many firsts for me -first time I tried dying yarn myself, first time picking a stitch from a stitch dictionary, first time using such a skinny yarn (420m/100g) successfully for socks…You can tell that these are going to be extra-special.

Now With More Speed

It seems that there are still a few things I can do very fast, once I set my mind to it: reading, and socks.

Even after ripping out two UFOs, my knitting basket has been overflowing. Although I’e always been a multi-project knitter, this still annoys me somewhat. It means that I can knit for hours on various things and still see very little process. It certainly doesn’t help that I had a large-ish shawl in progress. 

So I got an itch to knit socks. Simple, stockinette socks; for the past year pretty much all patterned socks have ended up in the UFO pile.

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Pattern: None. CO 72 sts, 2×2 ribbing for 16 rnds, short-row heel. 

Yarn: Handu MCN sock, colourway “onnen oikotiellä”. Bought at the same time as the yarn for my beret-turned-cowl.

I started the socks on last Wednesday and finished them on Monday. For me, a pair of socks in 6 days is pretty phenomenal. We did have a long weekend in there, sure, but that also meant cooking, cleaning and travelling.

They are incredibly soft, reasonably lightweight, and might actually still be useful before the summer.

I had just finished the socks and blocked them when I got another idea: download the free sample of The Hunger Games

I’m pretty sure I only heard of The Hunger Games this winter, and mostly through Twitter. Then, when the movie premiere approached, I saw it mentioned in papers. The first plot descriptions I read did not make the whole thing very tempting, and in retrospect some were just misleading. Then of course the film reviews started pouring in, and the BF expressed interest in going to see it. I decided to give the book a try.

Now, I did read it in a day. But that’s not very uncommon in my case, and does not automatically mean high praise. Although lately my reading has mostly consisted of individual articles or random chapters from books that might be useful for my thesis, when I do read for pleasure, 12-hour marathons are my forte. The Help took 24 hours, most Dorothy Sayers books the same. And I read three Connie Willis’ novels in a week. In the end I liked all of them more than The Hunger Games, although I have to admit the book isn’t without some merits, either.

Hunger Games is fast-paced yet still has a relatively well-structured plot. The heroine is an interesting character. The writing is at times surprisingly vivid and the struggle for survival portrayed well: it is convincing but not too gory.The violence was what initially perplexed me -a YA  book about teenagers killing each other?- but is is as a whole handled in a way that suits the tone. Being aimed at teens, the book is also a very easy read and requires very little effort from an adult reader.

But. The story would have needed some more flesh. As it is, the world-building is very minimal (especially given the dystopic setting that provides plenty of opportunities), many characters barely more than their hair colour and the love triangle forced and unnecessary. My knowledge of the Twilight series is limited to half of the first book (a bad Mary Sue fanfic, if you ask me), the movie trailers and a few interviews on Conan, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone thought the love triangle would attract the teenage girl audience. 

In spite of its flaws, The Hunger Games was a pleasant surprise. The main character shows such promise that I’m willing to belive that the rest of the cast improves as well in the remaining two books. I will almost certainly end up reading them, and I’m now relatively eager to go see the movie too.

 

January FO Parade

 It had to happen eventually. After knitting only hats, I’ve suddenly become extremely productive knitting everything but hats. Let’s start with the biggest project.

the essayist sweater

Pattern: Essayist Pullover by Deborah Newton. Published in Knitscene Fall issue 2010

Yarn: Cascade Yarns Eco+

Thoughts: very warm, squishy, surprisingly soft. I messed up the collar, though.

I am often influenced by pattern names, and this one was just irresistible. Back in November 2010 when I started this project, I was taking my last literature course and feeling rather nostalgic about how I would never again spend afternoons writing self-consciously pretentious essays on Jane Austen. I also loved the colour of the pattern sample, and chose Eco+ from my stash because it was a similar colour, even though the fibre content was very different. I knit maybe 10cm of the body and one sleeve before getting hand pain and when I got better, it was spring and too warm for bulky sweaters.

I wasn’t really inspired to finish it until these past few months. I wanted to be able to wear it as I spent afternoons writing my hopefully less pretentious thesis ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Pattern: Roses are Red, available for purchase through Ravelry

Yarn: Araucania Ranco

Thoughts: A very old yarn gets finally used and the result is pretty, yay! Also, I won the pattern as a prize. I never win anything!

This one was an easy knit. My knitting always slows down with these triangle shawls as the rows get longer and longer, but I powered through the final pattern repeats last weekend. 

valentine socks

Pattern: None. 

Yarn: Yarn Love Marianne Dashwood, colourway “Valentine”

Thoughts: My sock mojo is BACK!

I think I’ve finally gotten back into the groove. I knit these in 8 days, which isn’t too bad since I also finished the shawl. The yarn had been waiting for some years now in my stash, and I decided that I was finally going to have Valentine socks for St. Valentine’s Day. I had forgotten how fast plain stockinette socks can be, even for my size 11 feet! Also a nice little Austen reference in the yarn name. Just perfect!

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