New Pattern: Knitted Hat Fair Isle Style

Muetze im Norwegermuster stricken

Look at my new hat knitted Fair Isle Style. I guess I will wear it all winter. Novita, a Finnish yarn company asked me if I wanted to test some of their yarns. I decided to go for their Nordic Wool. According to Novita, 50 % of the fibres for this yarn originates from Scandinavia, mostly Norway, the other 50% is from UK Down breeds like Shropshire, Hampshire or Dorset. Nordic Wool is a rather soft DK weight yarn that is available in a lot of beautifully muted colours. The abundant colour palette, of course, inspired me to knit a hat Fair Isle Style. I chose the shades Stone, Pomegranate, Saffran and Acqua and I am quite happy with my decision. What do you think?Hat Fair Isle Technique - wool and good company

The pattern is easy to knit: There are only three rounds where I used more than two colours at once. I consider it a good pattern for people who would like to try stranded knitting for the first time. By the way, a hat is a good project for colourwork beginners, too. My tip: For an average adult head circumference I use a cable needle that is approximately 50 cm (20 inches) long (cable plus needle). This ensures almost automatically the right tension of the strands that you carry behind your work.

Whoop whoop! I couldn’t stop, the pattern is addictive. So I knitted two more hats.For the grellow one, I only used two shades. And I used a different yarn base in a similar yarn weight from my stash as the main colour. There: Another left-over is gone! The Tofane hat pattern is now available in my Ravelry store.

Attic find: Handknitted sweaters from the 80ties

When your son, whose teenage years are almost over, wants to move into a room in the attic (before moving out forever) you don’t say no. Of course, it means cleaning up there and sorting a lot of stuff you hoarded there over the years. That’s what we did last week. My son and I opened boxes with things he, me, we remembered. Also, things we thought to have already got rid of and things we had forgotten completely. There was a lot of reminiscing and talking. Funny for example to find my old exercised books from primary school. Very touching to hear him say that there is no way I should put that on the pile with things to throw away.

Of course, we came across clothes: an old leather jacket, a Benetton jacket with large shoulder pads and a matching skirt in 100% wool I remember wearing for my first job interviews. And then, I found a pile of sweaters I handknitted in the 1980 and early 90ties. Last century stuff. Four pieces of many more I knitted when I was a student. Most of them during classes. Yes, there had been times where teachers would tolerate that.

Somehow these survived. I stored my old handknits in my parent’s basement. Except these three all my handknit sweaters are gone. Perhaps my mom gave them to charity. Or they died when a water pipe burst and flooded everything.

80ties knitwear

So, hello vintage sweaters from the past. Ugly oversized beasts with drop shoulders and wide sleeves. Without further ado, and without shame, here are the pictures of my 80ties handknits.

The first I want to show you is a very special one: It is indeed the first sweater I ever knitted. I must have been 15 or so. The yarn is a mohair acrylic blend. It is knit in the round. My mother has tucked the seams, to make it a bit tighter. I remember that she wore it, too. She is a lot smaller than me. Hm, I will try to open the seams, wash and block it. I might want to wear this one.

The next one is huge, just take a look. Stranded black and white houndstooth pattern with a turtleneck. The sweater is worked in a sport weight yarn which resulted in a thick, dense fabric. it. I did wear it in really cold and snowy winters. The yarn is probably a wool-acrylic blend. And I am quite impressed by my colourwork skills. I only learned about colour dominance a few years ago, but it seems that I did it correct intuitively. I will pass on this one to my son. He has broader shoulders than me.

Houndstooth Knitwear

The Aran below sweater has enormous sleeves, too. Geez, did we really like these in the last century? Or was it just a knitting fail? The yarn seems to contain a huge part of acrylic. What a pity, as otherwise, it would be a total wearable classic. It is a point that today I just can’t understand. So much work is going into a piece of knitwear, why bother with acrylic yarn instead of using wool.

80ties Knitwear Aranasweater

No shame, share yours, please

So that is my 80ties knitwear. Can you relate to this post? Do you have vintage treasures in your wardrobe? I would love to read your comments and see some of your works. No shame, check your closets, attics, basements for your old handknits. Share them with me: In the comments below, on Instagram or on my Facebook page. Hashtag: #80tiesknitwear.

 

On the road with George

VW T2

I would never have imagined that I would name a car. I mean I haven’t. But I totally would have, if George were mine. Which is “he” isn’t.  But I still call him George, the name his family gave him.

George is an orange 1974 Volkswagen T2 Westfalia camping bus and belongs to my dear friend Babett. This summer George brought us from Germany through France to Spain.

Travelling with George means that you need time. And be patient. In the morning he struggles to get warm. He is strong, but not fast. Very often we made it to a mountain only in the second gear and a lot of cars had to queue behind us. But we never got angry headlights from behind. George seems to bring out the best in people :-).

This blog post is completely non-yarn related and merely to pay tribute to George. And my friend Babett. Thank you for this trip.

Old-school navigation. We got lost of Google maps on purpose to get in the slow traveling mood. And to find the small roads we wanted to use.

I have a thing for the faded advertisements you still often find in France on the houses like this one in Lorraine. (Note to self: I should take more pics and make a series before they are all gone.)

This is George’s ignition key. Believe it or not. To open the doors you actually have to use the key. There is no remote or central locking. As I said: traveling with George takes time.

You meet like-minded people everywhere 😉 This is another classic car – a Citroën. Forgive me, I do not know the exact model. If you do, let me know.

Catching the morning evening sun.

A look inside. Bright and friendly George.

Candy store in Albi.

Chapel in Saint-Chély-du-Tarn.

Under, not over: Viaduc du Millau.

Travel in style.

The obligatory shot through the side mirror. And I really do have the impression that objects are not closer than they appear in a VW T2. Also, the open window is the air conditioning.

Okay, the last picture in this post is dedicated to the yarnies. Of course, George will get his cozy 70ties granny square blanket. One day. No pressure. We are slow. And we like it.

Do you want to see more of George? We set up an Instagram account. Follow him @georgetheorangecamper

 

Saar Alpaka: Slowing Down With Alpacas

Alpaka-Fohlen

When I cycle the surroundings of my hometown Saarbrücken I often drive past a small farm where alpacas are grazing. Unusual animals for my region. Normally you met cows or maybe horses. Of course, as a knitter and yarn lover, I was curious. And as a blogger, you are allowed to be curious. So one day I stopped by at Saar Alpaka and asked if I could come and visit, take pictures and ask questions.

I went in May for the first time. That day the alpacas were shorn. Saar Alpaka is a rather small farm with 47 animals. The proprietors Christiane Groß and Rainer Frenkel started the farm in 2009. A farm shop was added about 6 years ago. It has a small, but exquisite selection of yarns grown mostly grown on their farm, but also a selection of other alpaca yarns.

Hey, you can see my neck! Where is yours?

Shearing day was a busy day. All 47 alpacas had to be shorn in two days. Alpacas are shorn once a year in late spring. Their fleece is thick and with good insulating qualities. It keeps them very warm, good in winter, but a no-go in the warmer months.

Tinkerbell - Saar Alpaka - Foto Sabine Frisch

The alpaca stud Tinkerbell is quite relaxed while getting a new haircut.

Alpaca Thor

An important day for little Thor. He was shorn for the first time. Afterwards, he had to say goodbye to his mother and joined the stallions at the boy’s range.

It was already really warm in May, so the animals seemed to be happy to be rid of their fleece.

While the alpacas enjoyed the new comfort of a short fleece outside on the range for Christiane and Rainer the work continued. The fleeced had to be cleaned and sorted.

Samples of each animal are sent to a laboratory in order to check the quality, i.e. micron and comfort factor of the fleece. Christine then decides, which fleeces will be spun together depending on the quality and colour.

The fleeces are sent to a mill in Southern Germany that spins also small quantities. There the fleece is washed and carded. And spun to a nice and soft, but sturdy DK-yarn.

Natural and sustainable: 50 gr cakes of undyed Saar Alpaka.

Depending on the animals the quality of the yarn is either Royal Alpaca with a micron below 19 or Baby Alpaca with a micron under 23. I can tell: it is very soft and smooth. On Saar Alpaka’s labels, you can read the names of the alpacas that are responsible for your yarn cake: Leo, Inti, Rosi, Estella, Angelo… I like this idea. If you want you can visit the animal who grew your yarn and say thank you. Maybe with a small treat?

Angelo’s fleece was abundant: 1.2 kgs of the first choice.

Close up of Angelos lustrous fleece: You can see the crimp that is considered a sign for high-quality fibre.

Tatamia’s Make over

Before the make-over, Tatamia was sporting a retro-look with a 60ties fringe.

For summer Tatamia is now wearing a short, layered fringe for a fresher look.

 Saar Alpaka – Natural and Sustainable

While the first choice is spun to yarn, the rest of the fleece is not discarded. It is used for woven rugs, as a warm filling for duvets or even for a natural soap.

School classes often visit the farm. Then Christiane explains to the kids the long but beautiful process from animal to a knitted sweater. Maybe this raises awareness that it is hardly possible to get a fair alpaca sweater at H&M or Primark for 20 Euros.

Baby Alpaca

Three days old baby alpaca Teresita

When I came back on a nice sunny Sunday in July, I wanted a quick interview with Christiane and Rainer. But I realised that when you are near alpacas nothing is quick. You immediately slow down and relax. Usually, to reach this state of relaxation, I have to take a yoga class ;-). Then Christiane offered me a sun chair to sit in the pasture with all the animals, maybe to take more pictures. Four hours later, I was still there.

Links:

Website Saar Alpaka 

Facebook Saar Alpaka

 

New Lanark Mill – Utopian Socialism And Yarn

Wolle aus New Lanark

2017 so far seems to be a year of spontaneous trips to Scotland. In March I was in Edinburgh at the Edinyarnfest (see photos here).  shag and this community seems to be as nerdy about dancing as us yarnies are about knitting. No way is too far to visit a nice festival with cool instructors. So we got there in the first place for the Glasgow Shag Festival. While Marilena was swinging I visited crafty places.

New Lanark is a UNESCO World Heritage Site approx. one hour train ride from Glasgow. It’s the birthplace of Utopian Socialism and cooperatives. And what is makes it even more attractive – you can watch yarn being spun. And yarn shopping is possible, too.

New Lanark Mill - Foto Sabine Frisch

New Lanark: From Utopia to Reality

New Lanark Mill is a former cotton mill, that was owned 1800 until 1825 by British Social Reformer Robert Owen. It is where he put his ideas and reforms of Utopian Socialism into practice.

New Lanark is situated in a beautiful valley of the River Clyde and is a great visit for families. A focus of the tour is the situation of the working class children in the 19th century. Before Robert Owen introduced his reforms children had a very long and hard working day in the mill, had been beaten and yelled at.

River Clyde New Lanark - Foto Sabine Frisch

The waters of the River Clyde have always been the power source for New Lanark.

Robert Owen did not allow children under 10 years in his mill. He opened a school where corporal punishment was banned and the curriculum includes art and music. He encouraged children over 10 and adults to go to school with a shortened working day.

Owen is also the founder of the cooperative movement. He bought quality groceries in bulk opened a village store where the inhabitants could buy a low prices or tokens.

Owen sold the mill in 1825 and move to the USA where he founded New Harmony that should evolve his Utopia even further. New Lanark Mill was closed in 1968 and decayed. In the 1980ties it was restored as Museum.

Visiting the Mill
New Lanark Mill - Bild: Sabine Frisch

The 19th-century spinning mule in New Lanark is powered by water turbines.

Today the mill is spinning wool instead of cotton. A traditional 19th-century spinning mule is used for the process. You can watch Aran, Chunky or DK yarns are made. New Lanark Wool and Textiles is spinning locally sourced British wool. There is also a soft tweed mixed with silk. It can be bought at the adjoining shop. Of course, I got some skeins. No way I could resist.

Yarn Cones New Lanark - Foto: Sabine Frisch

Lots of colour choices in the mill shop.

Sources and useful links: 

New Lanark Shop

Website New Lanark 
Britannica: Robert Owen

Kate Davies Blogpost on New Lanark

 

Take Two. Knit Sneakersocks Vintage Style.

sneaker socks

It has been a while that I posted. I made a short holiday in Scotland at the beginning of June. I still owe you a blog post on that because I visited New Lanark World Heritage Site. Needless to say: I bought yarn. I took pictures at the mill and will definitely show them here. I also visited Saar Alpaka – and took lots of beautiful pictures of gorgeous alpacas. There will be a blog post, too. I promise.  But first I have to move. If you follow me on Instagram, you know my big WIP:  I am re-decorating an old flat. So I am busy painting, instead of knitting or blogging.

Anyway, I managed to finish some small knitting projects which I wanted to show you here very quickly: Two pairs of sneakersocks.

Daisiez: Sneakersocks Vintage Style

Daisiez sneakersocks are knitted from the toe up with an easy lace pattern and a short row heel. They have ga picot edging which makes a cute finish. I also knitted some extra short rows at the back of the heel to give the socks a better fit.

Sneakersockz

Lilaks: Sneakersocks with Mesh Pattern

Lilaks sneakersocks have the same features as Daisiez: toe-up, gusset, short-row heel, picot hem. Instead of the lace, I worked a mesh pattern. There are extra rows for a higher heel in the back, too, so – no slipping down the shoes.

sneakersocks

What’s your favourite sneaker sock? Mesh or Lace? Both patterns are available in my Ravelry store. There are quite a few project pictures already because I really had wonderful test knitters. A good occasion to thank all of them. Special thanks to Puk, a Dutch podcaster: she showed off her pair of Daisiez in her video podcast. Unfortunately, I don’t speak Dutch, so I cannot understand what she is saying. If you do, head over and translate for me.

The Little Grey Sheep: New yarn favourite!

Blozzome Beanie

When I visited the Hamburg Wollfest last year, the yarn from The Little Grey Sheep was THE discovery for me.  I took home some skeins of the incredibly soft Stein Fine Wool and recently transformed it into my Blozzom beanie. What an enjoyable knit! Reason enough to get in touch with Emma Boyles, the proprietor of The Little Grey Sheep.

Emma Boyles

Emma and her team on Well Manor Farm

Emma Boyles owns Well Manor Farm in Hampshire / UK. She bought the farm together with her husband in 2004. Along with the farm came a conservation plan that made a flock of sheep necessary. In Emma’s family crafts as weaving and spinning have a long tradition, so it did not took her too long to decide that she would use the fleece of her flock to make her own yarn. It was a flock of grey Gotland sheep which gave the yarn its name.

Today the flock has 400 sheep, 200 Gotland ewes. And 200 Stein Fine ewes. Never heard of those? Me neither!  It is Emma’s own sheep breed. She will explain more below.

The sheep are shorn by Susie, the shepherdess. She has worked with Emma since 2006 and Emma states that she runs the flocks like they are her own. Her experience is crucial for the well-being of the animals.

Emma searches for producers and artisans that are keeping alive the British tradition of wool and textiles. That is her trademark. So once the sheep are shorn, the fleeces are sent to Yorkshire for washing, to one oft he two scouring plants left in the UK. After cleaning and washing the fleece goes to Devon, where John Arbon, who, according to Emma, is a perfectionist and knows to get the best out of her fiber, spins it into yarn. Last but not least the yarn goes back to Well Manor farm where Emma hand-dyes it in her beautiful shades.

WHAT EXACTLY IS FINE STEIN WOOL – AND WHAT MAKES IT SO SPECIAL?

Stein Fine wool came about as we decided to crossbreed our Gotlands with Shetlands, to further reduce the micron of the wool and increase the lustre in the shetland. We then imported to superfine merino rams, sub 19 microns, to improve the breeding. We decided to trademark the name as people were starting to say they had Stein Fine Wool® sheep. As we keep a closed flock this was not possible. We now have an amazing flock of lustrous very fine wool sheep.

Susie Parish, the Sheperdess

Susie Parish, the Shepherdess

SUSIE, YOUR SHEPHERDESS SHEARS THE FLOCK IN DECEMBER. ISN’T THAT UNUSUAL? WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE?

We shear between Christmas and New Year, this is when the fibre is at its best to keep the sheep warm and is full of the lovely oils and healthy and shiny. Once shorn, they are snuggled up in the barn to keep warm until they are turned out after lambing in early April. Normally sheep are shorn in the summer months, this is when their new coat is already starting to grow and they have shut off the oils to the old coat causing a break in the fibre.

Little Grey Sheep

Fine Stein Sheep all snuggled up in the barn.

I LOVE YOUR COLOURS, SO MANY GREAT HUES! COULD YOU TELL ME ABOUT YOUR DYING PROCESS?

I am a self-taught dyer and really I do not see working with colour as a job. I just love it, a little like a little girl in a sweetie shop. My mum always said I should go to Art College but I decided on electronics. 30 years on, I realise she was right, mums always are! I love to experiment with different methods from painting to dip dyeing. We are always looking to improve everything we do from lambing to wool quality to labelling and colour range. It is is a mission.

Fine Stein Sock

Thank you, Emma, for answering my questions.

Besides from the Gotland and Stein Fine Wool, The Little Grey Sheep produces “Hampshire” a yarn with an interesting story: The Gotland and Fein Stein fleece from Well Manor Farm is worsted spun as it has a long staple. But there was still quite a lot of short fleece left which was about 50 mm and under which would not spin worsted. Plus Susie shears also for other farmers, which were too small to get their fibre spun or did not want to. Some started bringing the fleece to Well Manor Farm for hand spinners. Emma and the team then decided it would be a great idea to produce a traditional woollen spun yarn. Hampshire was born. A yarn which is still soft and luxurious but with character. Turning what was being wasted into a yarn.

Check out all the yarns from The Little Grey Sheep here. Emma ships wordwide.

I enjoyed knitting my Blozzom beanie and mittens with Emma’s yarn very much. You can find my pattern here. I know, it is warm outside in the Northern hemisphere. But if start now, and you will have to look forward to something cosy in winter 😉

Blozzom Beanie

Blozzom Mittens

Blozzom mittens are worked with an afterthought thumb

3 Questions to indie-dyer Saskia from Ovis Et Cetera

Ovis Et Cetera Texelaar

In my column “3 Questions” I would like to introduce you to inspiring people and their work. Today I would like you to meet Saskia, the indie-dyer behind OVIS ET CETERA. Saskia is originally from the Netherlands, lives in Northern Germany and is married to an American. Her horses are from Shetland and Iceland and her dog is from Mexico. The form quite an international family, don’t they?

Part of the family.

Saskia and I met via Instagram last year when she testknitted my SockNo1 pattern with her wonderful hand-dyed yarn. We started a little collaboration together: I designed a pair of socks for her sustainable yarnbase Kempisch Heideschaap which is sourced from fleece of the sheep that are grazing the heather fields in the Netherland. Very often this fleece is discarded which is a pity. It is spun to a very wooly yarn that is great for colourwork. I like that a lot. So the idea behind the collaboration was to design a pair of colourwork socks in order to show of the best the yarn base and Saskia’s incredible feeling for colours. In the process Saskia send me a lot of miniskeins to swatch, deciding on the final colour was not easy. You can see my swatches on Instagram.  The result of the collaboration was a kit of three 50g skeins of yarn and my AztekSockz pattern which is available ins Saskias Etsy shop.

Saskia Maas

Saskia Maas

Here are my questions to Saskia:

1. Tell me about your different yarn bases: What is special about them?

All the yarns I sell are non superwash, which I find very important. Wool is such a beautiful material, it is just perfect the way it is. No need to change it with chemical treatments. I am proud that I have 4 different non superwash sockyarn bases. Two of them Dutch grown and breed specific, I think that’s pretty cool. The sockyarns are Kempisch heideschaap sock, Texelaar sock Herba and Igneae. The Dutch yarns get spun in Germany and England. Herba and Igneae are both grown and spun in South America. Herba and Igneae I chose because they are 100% made out of natural fibers. Ramie is a plant fiber and is very strong and durable. Then I also have Quaduple Dutch, a very interesting blend of Shetland Merino Alpaca & Blue du Maine, all Dutch grown. A soft and lofty laceweight. And relatively new is Kempisch Heideschaap DK, a characterful 100% Kempisch Heideschaap wool DK yarn. 

Detail of Koru Cardigan (Design by Francoise Danoy) knitted by Saskia in Igneae.

2.  Colours are your thing, aren’t they? You have a great palette of colours, so well balanced – What inspires you?
Ovis Et Cetera Texelaar

Ovis Et Cetera Texelaar Sock

Thank you! Everything inspires me. A coat somebody is wearing on the street … I make a picture in my mind and will try to recreate the colour. Pinterest is a great source of inspiration. And fashion.

3. Saskia, even if you use sustainable yarns as bases you do not use natural colours to dye your yarn. Isn’t that a contradiction?

I don’t think so. I very consciously decided for this dyeing method. Acid dyes use far less water and heath than natural dyeing. The dye I use is heavy metal free. By always exhausting my dye baths and reusing as much water as possible I think this way of dying has the least impact on the environment. 

Thank you for the interview, Saskia!

Here is the link to OVIS ET CETERA Shop. Take a look at the wonderful dyeings and yarn bases. As mentioned before, the yarns are non-superwash, so they need some extra kindness: washing by hand. But doesn’t you hand-knit garment deserve some extra love?

If you are curious about the AztekSockz – the pattern can be found in my Ravelry store.

AztekSockz knitted in Kempisch Heideschaap Sock

Free Pattern for Chunky Lace Shawl

gestrickter Schal

Lace pattern only for fingering or lace yarns? No, absolutely not. like a scarf that is long and cosy. My Chunky Diamonz Scarf is a warm and cosy scarf worked with big needles in a rustic chunky yarn mostly in garter stitch. It features a classic lace diamond pattern and looks equally nice from both sides.

Perfect from both sides!

As a warm welcome on my blog, I would like you to gift a free Download for the pattern on Ravelry. Follow the link and use the coupon code “Chunky”. You will receive a free PDF, no strings attached.

Chunky Lace pattern

Chunky yarn and diamondy lace pattern.