This Post Contains Disturbing Images

With a few good 'uns scattered about as well.

(Insert here some lame and worn out excuses for not blogging. These may or may not include laziness, profound hatred for current computer and a dog.)

So, let's talk about knitting. Happens with some pointy sticks and thread, that much I do remember. The truth is, I have knitted very very little, and photographed even less. But there's a little something, and this time we have even photos. (No promises this'll happen again any time soon.)

First up, a tubular cowl, worked with size elebentymillion needles, in the most difficult stitch ever imagined: the almighty garter stitch. Cast on some 25 stitches, knit and knit and knit until you've finished 2 skeins of bulky superwash merino yarn. This took me two nights as the huge needles made my hands hurt. The end result is rather nice, though.

tuubi 1

tuubi 2

Second (I know, I know, just breath in.... and now out) finished project is a set of a beanie and another tubular cowl.
setti 1
Beanie worked top down in stockinette stitch with an über creative garter stitch brim. The cowl is worked in broken rib stitch with a garter selvedge. The yarn is called Semilla Cablé, which is tubular and cord-like in texture and interesting to work with. It doesn't yield much drape, though, so the cowl is rather stiff, but will hopefully relax after a few washes.

Next up (just breathe): yet another tubular cowl. And lo and behold, it's also grey.

huivi 2

What made this an interesting project was the yarn. I used 1 ball of Katia Air Lux, which is a tubular viscose-merino blend with an incredible metallic sheen. Knitted in garter stitch worked diagonally (increasing in one edge and decreasing in the other), the end result looks almost like chainmail. This, unlike the previous two, is merely for accessorizing purposes.

huivi 1

The final project today is another beanie. A pink one!

pipo 1

I found this yarn, Fyberspates Vivacious DK, at a craft fair last fall, and knew it'd become a beanie for me. I love the colors, and it was fun to work with. The hat is worked with a double brim, which makes this one a very warm hat indeed. (I know I got the inspiration for this hat somewhere on ravelry, but can't figure it out. However, I've seen a beanie quite like this - let me know if this rings a bell!)

Now, I mentioned above that I haven't photographed a lot lately. I have, in fact, taken quite a few photos of others. But I hatehatehate the way I look in photos. You see, photographing is Very Serious Business.

pipo 3

Very, very serious indeed.

pipo 2

Am happy with it, though :)

pipo 4

So that's it for now. I'll dig out some WIPs - in a year or two I'll have something else finished!

365 Days Gone Just Like That


So. It's been a while since my last post. Over a year, in fact. The reason for this silence is that there has been one post which I needed to write before I could think of posting anything else. And the reason for that one post occurred exactly one year ago.

On July 3rd, 2012 I learned that my best friend and closest colleague, Heli had passed away. It was an utter shock to me, as I had called her just a couple of hours before she died. I could not believe it when I received the message. And delivering the news to others was probably the most difficult task I've ever had to face.


This past year has not been very easy. So many things were left unfinished, so many plans vanished, so many projects together can never happen. So many conversations can not take place now. And yet, even if we knew each other for such a short time, only a few years, I am grateful for each moment we spent together. Heli was an exceptional person in so many ways. I've known very few people with such a big heart full of warmth and love for those around her. She is and was loved by so many, and I am truly privileged to have known her. She always had kind words for her friends, her students, and her colleagues, and even though she was by no means a saint, she lightened the room wherever she went. She was literally and figuratively full of color, in so many ways.

It's funny what things you remember of your loved ones. For example, Heli loved her wee garden. She had planted there peonies, dahlias, clematis, large yellow loosestrife, irises - all kinds of flowers. She also loved her two cats, they meant the world to her. She loved tea, but passionately hated rooibos. She loved rye bread and wild mushroom salad and a particular ice cream with toffee and cranberry flavor. She knitted socks with DPNs, from the top down, and wore nothing but handknit socks. She knitted colorful orange, red, and green shawls, and wore them constantly. She loved warm colors: blue was not her favorite, and she could not stand the combination of yellow and purple. She loved everything French and English. As a teacher she was truly inspiring, always the first to use new gadgets in the classroom, always eager to use new methods and show others her passion. She went the extra mile for her family, friends, colleagues and students. She was a lively person, but also incredibly patient and assiduous with those around her. I admired her ability to get along with everyone. I will miss her witty sense of humor, her bubbling laughter, her smiling eyes, her big heart.


Heli's death has made me realize a few things. One moment she was there, planning her future, talking about her cats (a rather maddening habit of hers, and yet I'd give anything to hear the latest about her furry kids as she referred to them). And suddenly, she was gone, just like that. I wish I had done things differently, told her how much she meant to me, hugged her more, listened to her more, begged her to see her doctor earlier. I can never do that with her again. Her death taught me that those around us should hear and feel we love them as often as possible. And her death has also made me so thankful for all of my friends. I would never have survived this past year without their help.


Although this year has not been easy at times, life does go on, relentlessly, day after day and week after week. And life should go on. I do believe it is what Heli would have wanted - that one does not dwell endlessly in the past, but moves on, building on the memories and experiences with the loved ones who are not there anymore. After all, even though physically Heli is no longer here, she is still with us who remember her.


Found my spinning mojo lurking behind the spindle

Recently, I have not felt the urge to spin. Remember the feeling when you just learned to spin? The manic need to spin? To see the next color emerge from the top? To see them on the bobbin, to just stare at the colors, all lined up, in perfect harmony? To see the bobbin full, and then to ply and then block the yarn and then merely to admire the finished yarn? That was gone for a long, long time. (Reason for this? See last post.)

But then, I drove 250 miles southeast to meet other spinners. Some of them had spinning wheels with them.

That's seven (7!) Schacht wheels in one picture, three Ladybugs and four Matchless wheels. I don't think I've ever seen so many Schacht wheels in one gathering! There were about 30 of us, and of them 20 had their spinning wheels with them.

But a few spinners had chosen to bring their spindles instead. Sure, portable and pretty little tools they are, but I've never really been comfortable around one. There are issues with twist being uneven, and slight wobbling (both the spinner and the spindle wobble, sadly). In short, spindles were not my thing. Not until I tried the trindle. And the Golding spider spindle. And saw them being used to navajo-ply on the fly.

(Not pointing any fingers here but this whole business is ritvis's fault. Check out her blog - she is a true spindle master. I stood in awe just watching her spin.)

So when I got home, I dug out some BFL top from Woolgatherings and my trusty teaching spindle. And with trial and error I managed to spin and navajo-ply my single as I progressed.

WG 2

I take no credit for the yarn for when the fiber is so pretty, how can the end result be anything but gorgeous? And it was a joy to spin, smooth and easy to draft. That is, when the fiber was not caught accidentally by the single :D The best bit by far were the colors, though.

WG 3

I felt I had spun at least a pound of fiber onto my 1.2 oz (35 g) spindle. Turns out it was only 0.8 oz (or 23 grams) and rather pathetic 90 yards (or 81 m) of finished yarn. And it only took me four days! (sigh) And the skein did not look all that pretty.

WG 1

But when wound into a ball, the true colors emerge once more.

WG 4

The best bit was to be able to feel that urge to spin. I've missed it, the need to spin just a little bit more. The need to spin which overcomes the need to eat, sleep or powder one's nose. Re-discovering it was truly wonderful, and it makes me want to spin even more. And dye for spinning. And knit with hand-spun yarn. And then spin some more!

Happily I had some odd singles I had spun without much thought, so I plied them. It's a start anyway.

sw bfl sock yarn

merino silk

merino silk 2

Besides, I still have some 3.2 oz of that lovely BFL left. I think I will spin just a little before going to bed.

7 years of (on and off) blogging!

It has been 7 years and 2 days since I started blogging. And lately I have been more than lazy with this blogging business, but today, I have great news! My new spinning book is out and to celebrate, there is a book and fiber club available! Scroll down for more info about clubs :)

Let's talk about the book. (Photos, crappy, I know.)
kirja 6
I signed the contract last fall and this winter was spent researching madly, writing compulsively and photographing until my hands hurt. But the end result is what I wanted: a clear, simple handbook for spinners of all levels.

kirja 5
I think it turned out rather pretty too. (I was adamant the layout is clear and pretty. And I like it, a lot!)

kirja 4
There are nearly 200 photographs in the book, and 130 of them are of techniques and tools. The first chapter introduces the spinner to short forward draw and longdraw using both a spindle and a spinning wheel. The first chapter is full of pictures, and my dear friend Heli was kind enough to shoot tech photos with me for days!

kirja 2
There is also a short introduction to fibers (which deserve a book in their own right to be frank). And finally a glossary of terms in English and Finnish.
kirja 1

I do hope the book is an answer to a real need: a modern introduction to spinning, from tools to fiber to colors. The last book about spinning in Finnish came out in 1983 and since then, there has been an avalanche of new techinques and materials. My book is not as thorough as I had hoped, but its nearly 200 pages is a start. Hopefully it will be the first of many spinning books to come!

Book and Fiber Club - choose "Book and Fiber" Option in the drop-down menu
Please note that there is a limited number of club packages available. The book and fiber club is a one time offer, and once they're gone, they're gone!

*1 signed copy of Kehrääjän käsikirja (Please note the book is entirely in Finnish)
*1 dose of the special Book Club Fiber (100g of 100% superwash Cheviot)

Club and Shipping options

In Finnish:
Klubissa tulee mukana yllärivillaa (100% superwash Cheviotia) yllärivärissä + yksi kappale kirjaa omistuskirjoituksella. Muistathan laittaa huomautuksen, millä nimellä kirjaan nimi tulee. Muuten omistuskirjoitus osoitetaan ostajan nimelle. Jos et halua omistuskirjoitusta niin mainitse sekin huomautuksissa.
Klubeja on rajoitetusti, joten nopeat elävät :)

Just the book - choose "Just Book" Option in the drop-down menu
*1 signed copy of Kehrääjän käsikirja (Please note the book is entirely in Finnish)

Note: Please write down the name of the recipient in the Notes to Seller box. Otherwise, the book will be signed to the buyer. Also write down if you do not wish to receive a signed copy. Also note that the book will be available through Knitlob's Lair in the future, but we received a limited number of books in the first shipment.

Tässä vaihtoehdossa tulee mukana vain kirja omistuskirjoituksella. Muistathan laittaa huomautuksen, millä nimellä kirjaan nimi tulee. Muuten omistuskirjoitus osoitetaan ostajan nimelle. Jos et halua omistuskirjoitusta niin mainitse sekin huomautuksissa.
Kirjoja tulee Luolaan myöhemminkin, tämä ensimmäinen erä on kovin pieni mutta lisää on tulossa :)

All packages will be shipped on Monday.

Flash Your Fiber Stash

I keep saying I've got nothing to spin. I use this as a lousy excuse to dye up some more fiber (although one needs no excuse for that).

Finnish spinners on ravelry had this thing today, called Flash Your Stash. And then, I had an Epiphany. (Yup, 'tis a pun.)
flash your stash
I can never, ever, ever (Priscilla, anyone?) use that excuse again. Ever. That pile of fiber is what I found in the first 3 bins in my den closet (right before a massive bag of yarn fell on m I gave up). There might be more, but I am frankly terrified of looking for it.

And before you ask, yes, it is my personal stash. There is fiber I couldn't sell to anyone (for various reasons, most important of which is I was afraid I would not get the colors ever again). There are fibers dyed to test new colors and combinations. And finally, there are fibers which remind me of friends and events.

Like this one.
merino-bamboo-silk mix 2
It's merino-bamboo-silk mix (perhaps it is a 50-25-25 mix), there's approximately 3.5 oz. (100g) of it, and when I saw this at Allspunup, I had to have it. I just had to, although the colors are not me per se, but they're so bright and happy, they're like candy! And this is an important braid because it always reminds me of the days in Seattle, when I used to raid my friend Kristin's (of Allspunup) bins for fiber. This was one of them, and I still remember Kristin's face when she saw me holding this precious treasure I dug up. It was quite priceless.

Kristin taught me most of what I know about spinning and fiber, and we used to stir them ol' dye pots together quite regularly for quite some time. Happy times they were. She was gracious enough to let me dye up fibers, practise and experiment. Some of those fibers are still in my stash, along with the ones she gave me. (I was doing the right thing, helping a friend in need. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.) And her fibers are so, so pretty. I wish I could mix colors the way she does, her eye for color is uncanny!

Here's a collage of (some of) her fiber in my stash (click to enlarge & see details):
My creation
1. merino-silk 7, 2. merino-silk (asu ice cave), 3. bfl 5, 4. asu enchanted, 5. asu polwarth, 6. merino 5, 7. merino-silk 5, 8. merino-bamboo-silk mix 3, 9. merino 4, 10. merino-bamboo-silk mix 2, 11. merino-silk asu ms crabtree, 12. merino-silk 1, 13. merino-bamboo-silk mix 1, 14. merino-alpaca mix 1, 15. asu goldwish wearing a tutu

As mentioned, there are some fibers I dyed to test different color combinations. Some were a success, some fell into the category of dear-lord-what-is-this weren't. Some could not be sold because colors leaked. It happens (especially with very intense colors), and when it does, those tops will never be sold, but end up in my oopsie bin and I am, yet again, stuck with fiber. It is a tragedy, really.

Here are some of the test batches and ones I just had to adopt.
adopted fibers
1. bfl-silk 5, 2. sw bfl 2, 3. bfl-silk 4, 4. bfl 6, 5. bfl-mohair, 6. merino-alpaca-silk 3, 7. bfl-silk 3, 8. merino-alpaca-silk 2, 9. sw bfl, 10. bfl 4, 11. bfl 3, 12. merino-alpaca-silk, 13. bfl-silk-bling mix, 14. pigeonroof merino-silk, 15. merino 3, 16. merino-alpaca mix 2, 17. merino-silk 4, 18. merino-silk 3, 19. merino-silk 2, 20. sw merino 1, 21. merino 2, 22. bfl-silk 2, 23. bfl-silk 1, 24. bfl 2, 25. silk top, 26. bfl 1, 27. polwarth 1

And because I have a problem and I keep hogging fibers, I have adopted fibers from other dyers too. (I have merely helped friends, for their stashes have overflowed with fiber and I, though it pains me, will do anything for friends. And I have no stash problems. Tucked away in the closet, no one will notice them.)
adopted fibers set 2
1. pigeonroof merino-silk, 2. merino 1, 3. merino-silk 6, 4. sw falkland

If I'm being honest, I have a bit of a problem buying fiber on say, Etsy. The colors can be off by a mile, and after two very, very bad experiences with felted fiber, I've become rather timid when buying fiber online. These have landed in my stash merely after a friend has recommended the seller. And I think the bright, colorful Woolgatherings merino-silk would've landed in my basket even without recommendation. The colors are just perfect!

You can see all of these on Flickr. I'll try to update them onto ravelry as well, but after editing all these pictures, and organizing all this wool, I think I will need to spin now!

Stuck in Stockinette

Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2012 will be a better year than 2011, in every aspect. And what better start for a new year than a blog post about UFOs from the last! I have been hesitant to blog about UFOs as I can't take decent pictures of them - examples of that will follow -, but blogging about finished projects only produces .12 posts per year and it would be fun to post a bit more often. (One could always post pictures of recent purchases but one is ashamed to do so anymore, considering the Barn of Yarn already full of yarns to be knit.) The blog is, or I want it to be anyway, a journal about my projects, so UFOs have to be posted. I apologize for the pictures in advance.

I set up the studio and photographed all UFOs I could find. Granted, I didn't search every nook and cranny of the Lair - these were found within 4 ft of my desk. It seems I am stuck in stockinette stitch.
väiski sweater 2
This is one of my favorite sweaters made with my trusty knitting machine. Finally, I seem to have found the measurements and adjustments with which my knitting machine produces the garment I want. And I have learned to sew the seams and work the decreases 3 sts in, so the seams sew up nice and properly. I'm really happy with this one, especially the collar.
väiski sweater 1
The bpdy was naturally knit in pieces, bottom up, but the collar was knit sideways, with short rows for shaping. The shawl collar is a wonderful way to display shawl pins and brooches (of which one seems to have collected a decent stash), so I think I might make another sweater like this one. I used less than 5 skeins (and less than 2000yds) of my Väinämöinen sock yarn, so the sweater is rather lightweight but still quite warm.

I'd love to show you a picture of the sweater on me, but the reason I photograph with my trusty dress form is that I like to tweak and play with the flashes and my camera and take a million pictures of which perhaps three will end up here on the blog. That, and because my dress form has a waist line. Which I very clearly don't (damn Christmas, damn chocolate).

Speaking of the holidays, I spent them knitting stockinette as well. I spun some bulkier yarns in October, and one of them ended up being a cap/hat/slouchy beret-esque thing.
merino cap 2
My display head is rather small, 20" hats would look best with it, so this hat looks a lot more slouchier than it is. But it is slouchy nonetheless, for I find very tight-fitting hats rather umcomfortable. This handspun merino hat is rather thick, so I knit up another one with my Louhitar yarn, which is a lot more lightweight and perfect for spring:
louhitar cap 1
And as I was on a roll and dug up some Reynolds Odyssey yarn in my stash, I made a third hat.
reynolds odyssey cap 2
All of these are knit from the top down with a garter stitch edging. I used the One for All Cap pattern as a sort of a reference, increasing 8 sts on every other row until the cap was slightly larger than my head, then knit in stockinette until the hat nearly covered my ears, decreased about 20% stitches for the garter stitch band which was knit until nearly out of yarn.
reynolds odyssey cap 1
All three were surprisingly quick to knit, and the results are rather lovely. Stockinette stitch shows really well the colors and stitches in handspun and marbled yarns, and the garter stitch edging is a fun way to use up bits of left-over yarns.

(The reason why the hats are photographed with the display head is very similar to why I photograph sweaters with the dress form. The display has a distinctive and pretty chin. Just one of them. I, uh, don't.)

The Louhitar cap yarn was left over from a larger project, a cardigan I finished for the November craft fair in Tampere.
louhitar cardi 1sm
It is, again, just stockinette with garter stitch details, and the simplicity of it makes the colors really pop out.
louhitar cardi 3sm
The details for the cardi can be found on ravelry.

Colors really are very important this time of year, which is why stranded swatches have been on my needles not once, but twice.
The grey and white one is knit with KnitPicks Palette, the other one with Geilsk Tynd Uld. I bought a set of #000 and #00 (1,5mm and 1,75mm) DPN's and the smaller size is perfect for the Tynd Uld, producing some 10sts per inch in stranded pattern.

As much as I love stranded knitting, it is a little bit slower than just plain old stockinette. And colorwork doesn't necessarily mean it has to be stranded knitting - mosaic knitting can be just as much fun. Remember the cardi from nearly a year ago? It has literally haunted me ever since, I wanted it to be finished, but the colors really bugged me. I took the body apart several times, tried different color combinations, but could not make them work. So finally I used the original colors, paid attention to the color sequencing and the striping and knit away. I finished the body in early 2011, and went on to work on the first sleeve, but the colors were murky, so I frogged the first sleeve a couple of weeks ago. Another round of careful knitting with colors, and this is what the cardigan looks like now:
faux fair isle cardi
It could be better, the brown-orange-yellow contrasting yarn could pop up a bit more, but for now, I am relatively happy with it. And Kauni (or the Estonian wool yarns from Aade Long and Evilla) really works with patterns like these. I knit up a swatch with two solid colors and they just looked a bit dull. So Kauni it is, but perhaps I need to knit up another one with brighter colors, with more contrast. After I finish the second sleeve. Which would mean another trip to the stash, finding a third ball of the contrasting color. So it may be a while.

Especially since I cast on for another pair of the Sleeping Beauty Socks. (I have no excuses except for the fact that this hand dyed skein was just sitting there, literally, on my desk, and no digging in the stash was needed.)
sleeping beauty socks no 4
I've made 3 pairs of these, one for myself and two for a friend who loved the pattern, so casting on was easy as I have the lace pattern memorized. The only difference to the earlier pairs is that this is knit with 68 sts and I've added two purl stitches to the large chart in the pattern. (The eyelet panels are then worked with 2 purl stitches on either side of them.) I want to finish them soon, for the color is really pretty and I can't wait for being able to wear them. And I promise I will photograph them on my feet (if they fit, the foot is a bit narrow)!

Till then, again, Happy New Year everyone!

KnitLob's Lair - Louhittaren Luola