Sunday, 25 January 2015

Leading ladies

Still in the mood for following someone else's instructions I've added Hanne Falkenberg's "Studio Long" sweater to my collection of works in progress. It's not like working with Alice Starmore's "Donegal" pattern, though.

Starmore's "Donegal" and Falkenberg's "Studio Long"

When it comes to Donegal, I'm more than happy working with Starmore's pattern and choice of colours - how could I not? - but there are some things I need to figure out to get the size right. Sleeve length, above all (knitting for myself is like knitting for a baboon) but I also enjoy thinking about details like how to make the shoulder join look as nice as possible.

Falkenberg's design is different: her constructions are so ingenious and intriguing it's difficult to modify the shape. Her "Studio Long" is knitted both sideways and diagonally, for example! Not that I think any modifications will be necessary, it's just that I usually can't help myself...

I've knitted one of her designs before, a vest called Blues, and found it quite fascinating. I remember not always being sure where I was, but I'd heard from various sources what a careful pattern writer she is I decided simply to follow the instructions and try not to even think about interpreting anything as something that she hadn't actually written. There's simply no need to as I don't think I've ever read better, clearer instructions than Hanne Falkenberg's. It's really relaxing: garter stitch, one colour at a time and not having to think - or, rather, being able to think about whatever comes to mind. If I had a television set, this would make for excellent telly knitting. Instead, it's conversation knitting.

Det är välgörande och avkopplande att följa andras instruktioner, även om jag oftast tycker att det är roligt att hitta på själv eller åtminstone göra om detaljer. Alice Starmore är oslagbar när det gäller färger, tycker jag, så då är det lyxigt att ha hennes kombinationer som jag aldrig skulle ha kommit på själv. Hanne Falkenberg är oslagbar när det gäller mönsterkonstruktion och skriver så tydligt att det inte kan bli fel. Det gäller helt enkelt att inte tolka in något som inte står där - något av en utmaning för mig som är ganska klåfingrig i fråga om beskrivningar, men samtidigt skönt. Gör man bara som hon skriver är det förvånansvärt enkelt att sticka en tröja så här på tvären och snedden samtidigt!


Monday, 12 January 2015

The advantage of unfinished objects

I don't spend waste time counting my works in progress anymore - instead I simply tend to cast on something new if I feel like it. Over the years I've realised that it suits me having various projects going on, and there are different reasons why I take a break from them.


Why take a break from Alice Starmore's glorious Donegal, you may wonder. Doesn't is sound like taking a break from a great book to read something else instead? Well, as far as I can remember I had been knitting quite a lot of stranded colourwork for a while and decided to save this treat on purpose until I really really really felt like knitting this particular design. Silly perhaps, but somehow I felt it deserved my longing for it and enjoying it fully instead of dreaming of cables, brioche or other techniques while knitting.

Then all of a sudden in December I found myself in the right mood. Donegal was what I wanted to knit and nothing else. For quite some time I had mostly been knitting single-colour (often natural wool) things - which I also enjoy - so I was yearning for bright colours and bold patterns. Imagine the luxury of not even having to cast on but simply get knitting! I did worry some nasty creatures might have feasted on it while I was neglecting it, but fortunately not. (Come to think of it, my fear of sp-d-rs was reduced rather dramatically after it dawned on me they might actually eat enemies like moths and therefore be friends rather than foes. No, hardly friends - but I'll admit they're not the real foes. And they can't help the way they look and move.)

If you're into lace, there's a lovely design called "Wavy leaves and butterflies" by Athanasia Andritsou, and she has published it for free on Ravelry. For this shawl I used 125 grams of Cascade Forest Hills and 3½ mm needles.


Last, here are two of the books I've added to my collection the past couple of months: Knitting Fresh Brioche by Nancy Marchant and Lekker Warm!/So Warm! (in Dutch and English) by Carla Meijsen. Needless to say, I recommend both books: Marchan't book is a truly inspiring brioche treasure, and Meijsen's is not only a comprehensive introduction to twined knitting but also an impressive collection of patterns for different levels.

Actually, I was lucky enough to meet Carla Meijsen recently. Where? In a yarn store, of course.