Sunday, 4 December 2016

Opal Advent Calendar 2016


I could not resist. This year I was simply too tempted by calendars different from the usual chocolate-filled variety and when I saw that something like a woolly calendar actually existed - a knitter's dream!-, I had to have it. I didn't hesitate even though the price would have put me off at any other time. At up to £55 this isn't a calendar you can just buy without being sure you want to spend that kind of money.

The Opal Advent calendar is filled with 24 mini-skeins of sock-weight yarn. I think they are perfect for knitters working on the Beekeper's Quilt, which is what I will be using mine for. As it is 4th December, I have now opened four of the doors. Every day you get a little skein of yarn in a different colourway. Each mini-skein has a festive band around it with a different design. I've now had a snowman, a house, baubles and stars, and all skeins have been mixed colours. I'd like there to also be some solid coours, but I suspect there probably aren't any.

It is exciting to see what's behind each door and I like knowing that what I am getting will come in handy for a project. So in a way this calendar lasts you quite a bit longer than the chocolate kind - it's a gift that keeps on giving. Here I can keep the yarn and knit it into something and the finished project will still be around afterwards.

The calendar itself is in the shape of a cube. It is quite large so I am having to move it from place to place every day because I have nowhere to keep it. The yarn is behind doors on four sides of the cube that each have a different festive design. The cube is very sturdy and made of thick cardboard so it doesn't get damaged in transit if bought online. There is a handle on the top for you to carry it. I suppose you could even hang it from the ceiling if you wanted to. 

I may well buy another one of these next year because I am enjoying the suspense so much. Let me know if there are any other kinds of Advent calendars for knitters! It's such a fantastic idea.


Sunday, 27 November 2016

Knitted Advent Wreaths

Knitted Advent wreaths

Happy first Advent!

Advent wreaths don't seem to be well known in the UK, but they are essential in Germany. I haven't had one since I moved to England 7 years ago and I miss the tradition every year. So this time I decided to get all the components and make one myself. It is a traditional ring of fir branches, decorated with pine cones, berries and little baubles. There are four candles on it for each of the four Sundays before Christmas. I love it!

Handmade German Advent wreath

As knitters, you have probably heard of knitted wreaths so I thought I'd show you my favourite four. Enjoy!




Do you have an Advent wreath as well? Or do you make Christmas wreaths, knitted or otherwise?

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Hitomi Shida: 260 Knitting Patterns

Hitomi Shida Japanese stitch library on Absoknittinglutely

Social media is a great thing. Without it I wouldn't know most of you and my days would be duller. I wouldn't be able to stay in touch with friends from the past as easily and I wouldn't know what's going on in their lives.

The internet has made connecting with people so much easier and it is strange to think that there is a whole generation of people now who never had to do without smartphones and the internet. Networking is easier, too, and last week the internet helped me get my hands on a book I had wanted for some time.

Japanese stitch patterns for knitting by Hitomi Shida

As you know, I blogged about a Japanese stitch library by Hitomi Shida that's on my wishlist. Someone on Instagram saw this and told me there was a copy of it on Etsy. I quickly had a look and, yes, there it was! It was the Chinese version of the Japanese book, sent from Hong Kong. I didn't hesitate, ordered the only copy, and it arrived yesterday.

Charted knitting stitch patterns

This is as good a book as I had hoped it would be. 260 intricate stitch patterns fill its pages and there are ideas for scarves, hats and socks. The stitch patterns are charted so you need to be a somewhat confident knitter who is used to reading charts without any further help. There are a few symbols I may need to look into a bit more, but luckily there are photo tutorials for some of the more complex stitches at the back of the book. I can't read a word of it, but the images help a lot and if you have knitted for a while, you will probably have no problems getting on with these patterns.

Knitting tutorial in Chinese

I heartily recommend this book. Japanese stitches are so very intricate and beautiful. If you like them and easily knit with charts, try and find a copy of this book. I can see why it is so popular and I am very grateful to the person who pointed me in the right direction so I could get my hands on it. Thank you!

Saturday, 12 November 2016

On My Christmas Wishlist


The countdown has begun and people are either very excited about Christmas or dreading it right now. I fear I am one of those who absolutely love Christmas and the build-up to it. Sorry! (Not sorry.)

Have you been asked yet about what gifts you would like this year? I have and was surprised that my first thought was: "Not more yarn!" You see, my stash is full to bursting. I have already had to buy an extra box for my latest purchases and I do intend to use up some of them before I add any more. So I hope I won't get any yarn this year, no matter how much I love it.

So in a world where I didn't yet have a stash, what would I want this year? 

1. In my last post you will have read that I treated myself to a bottle of Soak. I chose my favourite scent, Celebrate, but there is one I have been wanting to get for a long time. I am fairly sure that it was Fig that I liked so much when I tried a sample at the Edinburgh Yarn Fest this year. So that is definitely an essential on my list.

2. This month I also got my hands on a Madelinetosh Unicorn Tail in the Jade colourway and I loved it. These miniskeins are just big enough to yield 4 hexipuffs for the Beekeeper's Quilt, which is perfect for me. I would love a few more of these to get on with my quilt and enjoy the soft smooshiness that is Madelinetosh.

3. Oops, that was yarn, wasn't it? Well, I can't resist it. And there is another yarn I would like to have some more of: Ysolda's Blend No. 1 is beautifully soft and was a revelation when I discovered it in Edinburgh. I didn't expect it to be this good at all, but now I want more of it to make a shawl. I still have a hank of it in my stash and am waiting for the right project (or more yarn) to come along.

4. There is a knitting stitch library that I have been searching for for a long time. I haven't been able to find a copy of it, sometimes only missing it by a day before it sold out. This elusive book is a Japanese stitch library by Hitomi Shida. It's very popular and seems quite rare and I can see why. The stitch patterns are amazingly intricate and so different from most things you will see in other books. I'm not giving up hope, though. One day it shall be mine!

Tell me what's on your wishlist this year! Is there anything you have had difficulty getting your hands on, too?

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Just a Little Knitting Pick-Me-Up


Bugs are making the rounds and nearly everyone around me has been ill lately. Unsurprisingly, the flu got me last weekend, just as I was about to get a flu jab, of course. My timing is impeccable. 

To cheer myself up, I browsed A Yarn Story in search of my favourite Soak scent, Celebrate. I put a big bottle in my shopping basket, but of course that wasn't all. Just a few days later a package with all my goodies arrived, individually wrapped, safe and sound.


So apart from wool wash, what did I get? Well! I just had to get my hands on a copy of Ysolda Teague's Little Red in the City, which Kate Atherley of knitty.com fame recommended when I took her class. The book contains patterns and a lot of help to get you on your way to the perfectly fitted garment. Each garment is shown in standard and plus sizes so you get an idea of what it will look like on you. I love that!


I also enjoyed the mix of regular font, longhand font and sketches. It's not only a useful book, but a pretty one, too. Many of the photos were obviously taken in Edinburgh, which just happens to be my favourite city, so that's another big plus. It will take me a while to get through this book to really appreciate it, but so far I am very happy with it. 

As a treat, I also ordered one of Madelinetosh's Unicorn Tails in jade. I've never used Madelinetosh before, so being able to get such a small amount of yarn was great for a trial run. I cast on some hexipuffs today and have already made three. There should be enough yarn left to knit a fourth so I would definitely buy a Unicorn Tail again to make progress with my Beekeeper's Quilt (going in 5 years now!).


The yarn is beautiful to knit with and very soft. It's a single ply South African superwash merino yarn in an absolutely stunning shade of green. If you were wondering, you get 47 m (52 yards) in one small hank of this Tosh Merino Light yarn.

This haul definitely cheered me up and I don't regret this unplanned splurge at all. Of course I am well again by now and can enjoy my goodies. Do you like to treat yourself to anything when you're poorly? What was your last purchase?

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Starting Over: It's Not Always a Bad Thing


We all hate ripping back a knitting project after having spent some time on it already. When you have a deadline it is even worse because you know you may be cutting it close. But it isn't always a bad thing.

Since my last post, I have taken the plunge and undone all of the scarf I started for my mother. Those had been many hours of work, but I hated how long the pattern took to knit and I didn't enjoy it one bit. Despite being quite simple to knit, the fact that I had to use 2 mm needles just made it unbearable.

So I went ahead and ripped back totally and started over. I decided to use a lace stitch pattern instead that would knit up quickly on slightly larger needles. I went through my reliable knitting library that I only have in German, but the original is English: "300 Strickmuster leicht erklärt & schnell gestickt", by Lesley Stanfield. 

What I like about the book is that the stitch patterns are charted, which I prefer. There are no written instructions at all. After a bit of maths I cast on and off I went! I have made so much progress in so little time already that this scarf will definitely get done before Christmas. I think I have now knitted nearly half of the scarf in only a few days.

So things are coming along nicely. How is your Christmas knitting doing?



Saturday, 22 October 2016

Christmas May Come Too Soon


Normally, I'd say Christmas cannot come soon enough. I enjoy that time of year and am usually done with Christmas shopping by October. This year is different.

This year I have barely started buying gifts and I am only knitting one Christmas present - and it is one my mother asked for last year already.

Because I was working on my first jumper at the time, I was excited to finish it soon and knew there would be no time to knit anything else. Well, the jumper still isn't done, but this time I need to finish the present first.

My mother was very specific about what she wanted: a black and white striped loop scarf. Finding the right yarn wasn't easy and, as it turns out, the yarn we agreed on last year is no longer available. So thanks to follower power, a quick tweet led me to Zauberball 4-ply instead. It looks like what I think my mother is looking for (fingers crossed).

What I didn't expect was that I would need to use 2 mm needles with this yarn, though. Progress is incredibly slow and I am not entirely sure I will actally get this done in time for Christmas. I may choose a different stitch pattern to speed up the process. I'm not knitting on anything else, no matter how tempted I am to cast on something new. I will finish it! 

I am improvising the scarf and it is going very well. I cast on about 120 stitches or so, am knitting in the round to create a loop made out of a knitted tube, and am using cabled stitches to create vertical stripes for a bit of texture. They look really good and I am enjoying this simple pattern. I am not even halfway through the first ball of yarn - and I have a second one yet to use up.

Are you knitting for Christmas already? Is it going smoothly or are you having difficulties as well?