Sweater ONE

Today, the last day of January and the last day of this “blog post a day” schedule, I’m announcing a new sweater design – Sweater ONE.  Sweater ONE is a very easy, basic, perfect first sweater for a new knitter.  It is knit in worsted weight, in pieces and is sewn together.  There is almost no shaping which makes the knitting even easier.  There are ribbing patterns in strategic places to make the sweater less boxy and more modern.

The above is a part of the sleeve I’m knitting.  The yarn is Lorna’s Laces Worsted.  Andy is going to make a sample sweater in Cascade 220 Superwash in a size to fit himself.  The pattern is written for 8 sizes from blocked sweater size 35, 38, 41, 44, 48, 52, 56, 60 inches (89, 97, 104, 112, 122, 132, 142, 152 cm).

As soon as the 2 sample sweaters are finished I will be searching for test knitters.  I hope that I can find as many and as wonderful test knitters as I have for Mandy’s Heart.  They have been so helpful!  Since this sweater is designed for the first time sweater knitter, I’d love to find test knitters who have never knit a sweater before or only 1 sweater before.  It’s not so easy for me to judge the difficulty of patterns since I’ve been knitting so long and have managed to knit from any kind of pattern you want to throw at me.

So, stay tuned for more information about Sweater ONE.  I’m hoping to get test knitters working before April.

Back to the Gym

Today I went back to the gym after quite a long time away.  I signed up for a free week trial but I’m sure I will sign up for a year contract after that.  I’ve joined Health Center Spaarneboog in Haarlem.  I was a member of this gym 4 years ago but quit when I hurt my knee and was out of commission for many months.

So, why have I decided to do this?  Mainly because I really like running but I keep getting injured.  I pull things and strain things and don’t recover quickly.  I’m currently seeing a physical therapist for a pulled and irritated hip tendon.  I also suffer from repetitive strain injury in my shoulder from working on a computer and knitting.  I figure that strengthening my body overall will help with all of the above.  And I also struggle to keep my weight under control – the gym must be good for that, right?

Today I got set up with a weight and aerobic routine that I can do in an hour.  Saturday I’ll go back for a fitness test and another hour workout.  We’ll see how this goes.

I walked into this place today with a little bit of trepidation.  The last time we were members we got fed up with the dirty locker room and annoying ear blastingly loud music.  The employees only seemed interested in themselves or other good looking 20-somethings and weren’t much interested in their other customers.

This time it seemed to be under new management.  The locker room has been renovated with new lockers and benches.  The music was much lower key and not nearly so loud.  The guy who helped me could not have been more friendly or helpful.  I left feeling like the one week trial will lead to a yearly contract.  I felt good and happy.  Maybe because of the financial crisis they decided they’d better pay attention to where their money comes from – US!

I’ll try not to bore you with my workout stories.  There’s not much that’s more boring than hearing about other people’s training.  I’ll only report if something really unusual happens – like me losing weight or something like that.


Seeing Red

I finished my red Mandy’s Heart Socks!  Yay! I will do my best to have a real photo shoot this coming weekend.  I’m really hoping to publish the pattern on 14 Feb just like the sweater.

I do LOVE this yarn, Tosh Sock, and the color, Tart.  I’ll have to get my hands on a sweater quantity at some point.

Rembrandt in His Square

I went to Amsterdam this evening to have dinner with my friend J. and before I got to the restaurant I took this photo at Rembrandtplein. The statues are back!

These are life sized statues of the famous Night Watch painting figures. 4 1/2 years ago when my mom came to visit they were also here and I took a photo of my mom standing next to them. Then at some point a couple of years ago they were taken away. The Square was remodeled and now they are back. It’s good to have the statues there. I like them. I hope you can kind of see them with this dark photo taken with an iPhone.

Today Queen Beatrix announced that at the end of April she will step down and her son and daughter-in-law will become King and Queen. This is not a surprise but it is big news. The national holiday of Queen’s Day will, in 2014, become King’s Day and will move from 30 April to 27 April. This year, on Queen’s Day, there will be a ceremony and I’m guessing an even bigger party all over the country. If you’re planning to visit at that time, come with plenty of orange clothes.


Almost Ready

This is the first page of my new sweater pattern, Mandy’s Heart.  Just a few final reviews and it will be ready to lease into the wild.  Pretty exciting!

Unfortunately, I had to be my own model.  I’m not happy about that.  It’s not ideal.  But I’m cheap and I was available.  For now I will have to do.

My test knitters are in the final push to finishing their sweaters.  I have 8 test knitters working diligently and I will be eternally grateful to them for their willingness to take on this task.

Launch date is set for 14 February.  The sweater is named Mandy’s Heart for my niece Mandy and Valentine’s Day seemed the perfect date to release a pattern with cabled hearts running down the front and sleeve.  The pattern will be available on Ravelry, and if I can get things set up in time, here on this blog.


I’ve been reading forums on Ravelry and topics that come up very often are “what is your favorite yarn (for socks, for sweaters, for lace, for pooling, for kids, etc etc)?” and “what are your favorite needles (for knitting socks or lace or interchangeables, or general knitting)?”.

If someone asked me, what is your favorite yarn, you’d just have to look into my stash.  Madelinetosh and Wolmeise.  I have expensive tastes.  These two brands of yarns have in common their amazing colors, and also the fact that they are hand dyed.  The variation and beauty you can achieve with hand dyeing makes the yarns seem like works of art in themselves.  You can knit plain stockinette stitch garments with these yarns and they will look stunning.

Knitting with hand dyed yarns isn’t all fun though.  You have to be careful that the yarns don’t bleed dye when you wash them.  Be careful if you are combining colors in a garment that you wash the yarn first and make sure all the dye is out before you start knitting.  This is a serious pain in the neck, but I don’t do a lot of color work so I’m not fussed about that.  The other down side to an addiction to these yarns is that they are somewhat scarce.  You have to stalk them in shops or be lucky enough to catch a shop update to get what you want.  Or buy yarn off someone who is destashing.  And of course the cost.  It’s a costly addiction.  (Remember not so long ago I had an online yarn shop?  Talk about a costly addiction!)

These days I’m on the lookout for new needles.  I just ordered a set of HiyaHiya interchangeables – the steel, sharp, 4″ small set.  I can’t wait to try them out!  They get excellent reviews, from the sharp points to the very flexible cables.  I’ve been knitting the past several years with a set of KnitPro(KnitPicks) wood interchangeables, and while I love the feel of the wood, I have fallen out of love with them.  They break and fall apart easily.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve superglued tips back into the metal bases.  A few times the cables have come out of the metal connector and can’t be fixed.  Sure, the company replaces them no questions asked, but what a hassle!  I don’t like how stiff the cables are either and how they have too much memory in them (once kinked, always kinked).  I’ll certainly let you know when the Hiya Hiyas arrive and what I think of them.

I’m also on the lookout for new sock knitting needles.  I like knitting socks on 2 circular needles.  Here’s what I’m looking for:
3″ to 3.5″ needles
16″ cables
very pointy tips
very flexible cables
perfect joins
not costing a fortune (like Signature needles!)

What would you recommend?  I’ve put this question to the “Sock Knitter’s Anonymous” group on Ravelry and I’m now waiting for replies.  Surely there are needles out there that can meet these basic requirements!  If not, I should go into business…..

Proper FO Post

Now for a proper Finished Object blog post for my new hat.  I really love it!

DB took photos this morning, outside when we had a bit of sunshine.  The color is captured very well here.

The pattern is Rosebud by Jared Flood.  The yarn is Madelinetosh Chunky in color Midnight in Manhattan.  I only had one skein and wasn’t sure it would be enough to make a hat.  The skein weighed 114g to start with and I have 10g left.

I used the size needles required in the pattern (8US) but I only cast on 80 stitches instead of 84.  Everything else I made according to the pattern, for the small size with only 2 repeats of the cable pattern.

It fits a little bit loose on my peanut head, but I like that.  Hats that are too tight give me a headache.  This is a super quick knit and I highly recommend it for yourself or as a gift.  I made it as part of the Madelinetosh Lovers Group SAL (Stitch-a-Long) on Ravelry.  But I would have made it in any case.  And I’m going to wear it a lot in this cold winter weather!

New Hat!

I’m so excited this morning to have finished my Rosebud hat that I had to run into the bathroom with my iPhone and snap this photo.  Love love love.  More details and better photos tomorrow.

Flight Delay Knitting

This is how much knitting I got done during the EasyJet flight delay Monday, flying from Berlin to Amsterdam.  Not bad, right!

This is the second sock of my Mandy’s Heart Sock design.  I’m almost finished!  Writing up the pattern is almost finished too.  The charts are done, the text directions are done.  I just have to lay in out in a nice format and do a photo shoot.  Taking photos of socks is so much easier than photographing sweaters.  I hope to have this pattern ready to launch into the world on the same day that I launch the sweater pattern – 14 February.

New Look!

Remember a week ago I showed you our house under construction?  It’s finished!  We got home from Berlin Monday night to find that our handyman had finished blocking up an old doorway and finished the painting.  Here are the before and after photos:

Actually, the stairs were brown, like this.  In the above photo there’s already a base coat on them.

And now?  Ta Da! The new entryway!

Isn’t that so much better?  We had all the doors in the house painted white and the stairs to the attic also painted white.  Everything looks so fresh and new now.  It’s fantastic.  He did a great job.  After 4 years living here I finally feel like it’s “ours”.  I guess for everyone that feeling of “home” takes varying amounts of time to set in.  In our previous home in Amsterdam that feeling was pretty quick, probably because it was a new renovation and we were the first to live there.  All the colors and the layout was our choice.  I feel like it’s taken longer to put our own stamp on this house.  There are still a lot of remnants of previous owners (the kitchen, the crazy wiring in the attic) but it really feels like ours now.  And now I just need to keep getting enough teaching work to be able to hold onto it.