Saturday 30 March 2024

Estonian mittens

 I've been wanting to knit estonian mittens a long time, and then really with thin needles, as it was done in the old days. The book Estonian knitting 3, Mittens, is an inspiration for that, with its huge amount of mittens and instructions on all sorts of techniques that come with the traditional mittens knitting.

In the light of my project 'Book knitting' I now knitted a pair of mittens from this book. No way that I would consider getting rid of this book, even if I would never knit anything from it, it is far too beautiful! But, anyway, this book knitting project of mine was the last nudge to pick a pattern.

The pattern I chose is a pair of mittens from Vormsi island. It is an island between the larger island Hiiumaa and the mainland of Estonia, with only a few hundred inhabitants and with beautiful nature.

My left mitten next to the mitten in the book - you can see the difference in the number of repeats.

Most of what I write below can also be found in my Ravelry project (link to the project) and is simply a repeat of the text. On the project page, you can also find some more technical details of the mittens.

I know that the patterns are knitted on extremely thin needles and that my 2.0 mm needles are a little bit too thick still, but that I what I chose to use. This made that I chose a little bit fewer pattern repeats so that the mittens would not be too big. I've never before knitted on 2.0 mm needles. Initially I was very conscious about it, but through the project it did'nt feel so difficult anymore. Also, the stranded knitting became a little bit faster, especially when I made an effort to knit with the very tips of the needles, instead of sticking in the needle maybe 2 cm, I only used the 0.5 - 1.0 cm of the needle tips.

The pair

Decreasing for the top of the hands was a bit difficult. The book said to knit the 'side seams'  in 'herringbone', which I understood to be in a checkered pattern. Each pattern repeat contains two rounds that are all-brown/dark, and there I made mistakes so that the checkered pattern wasn't very well visible. I did not want to re-do it. On the thumbs, I decided to do solid lines along the sides of the thumb, one white and one dark, which worked fine. Decreasing at the top of the thumbs, I found out that, on the solid brown rounds, I could simply slip the white stitches, which helped the side seams look uninterrupted even though there were solid brown rounds. When only my knitting at these decreases becomes more even, this will give really neat decreases.

At the top of both the hand and the thumbs, it was fiddly because of the steel needles slipping though the stitches, just sliding down on my lap when I wasn't observant enough.

A tiny bit small but they fit!

I now know that 72 stitches with 2.0 mm needles gives mittens in size very Small - next time I'll cast on more stitches.

Also, with my 72 stitches, I had an uneven number of the 8-stitch pattern repeat. This is visible in the thumbs, the thumb patterning isn't mirrored equally.

The book and the pattern were not yet in Ravelry, so I have set both up, which was also a new experience for me, and it went well. A very fun fact that I discovered today was that there is another raveller that has started knitting these mittens, so now there are alreay two projects linked to this pattern on Ravelry!

Saturday 23 March 2024

March update

 This month goes by so fast! Some specifics that are worth mentioning and remembering for me are:

We were in Sweden the first week of March. Always nice. I spun a lot, but I did some outdoor work too, like gathering branches that had fallen down on the grass during winter storms, raking the last of the autumn leaves that had fallen down after we were there in November. The beech tree had still a lot of brown leaves when we left then, and now they had all come down. As it is an old tree, it loses many branches too, small sticks as well as a bit larger ones. I freed the locks of the three-chamber well (for our waste-water) of leaves, weeds and moss, so that the guys emptying it can find them. The honeysuckle that climbs the wall of the outhouse got a hair-cut and I removed dried, brown sticks of flowering plants that died down in the autumn but will grow fresh green leaves and yellow flowers again in spring.

My son had his birthday while we were away. He did really not mind! He declared that he only wants to receive presents that are useful, so I tried to find something in every shop we visited, and we were rather successful. And the best of it all was, that he agreed and he was really happy with the finds from Sweden.

Back home, there was not so much spinning. However, I knitted another pair of fingerless mittens as contribution to a knit-along on basic fingerless mittens where you are supposed to use your own imagination to create something unique. More information is to be found on Ravelry.

March: the days are getting longer. The temperatures are still quite low, but the sun is getting stronger. Plants are emerging from the soil. My rhubarb plants are coming, and I am sure that this year, they are strong enough so that I can harvest from them. That will be the first time, and I do hope they are a bit sweet and not too bitter.

Sunday 25 February 2024

February spin and knit

Tired of spinning white yarn, I decided to look into my bins and found some smaller bits and pieces of carded, dyed and natural fibers and mixed them together on the carder.

The carded fibers, from various fleeces

This is what came out of it, a rather dense, nice heathered yarn. I also write about in on Ravelry (link to Ravelry)

The final yarn.

I joined the knitalong of the Fingerless Gloves Fanatics group  on Ravelry with this pattern on 01-02-2024. This pattern didn't come first on the voting, but as alternative, slip stitch paterns were in scope too combined with the theme of the year, colors.

This is the final result (link to Ravelry):

It was a lovely knit. Nice pattern, well dosed instructions on not too many pages and lines, nice balance between patterned section and straight knitting (could have been more complex but I enjoyed this relatively easy knit).

I can recommend this pattern and might knit more of it (there is so much to knit so it is absolutely uncertain whether I actually will knit it again, but would not mind doing so).

Knitting details

Knitted with 5 double-pointed needles, size M with 52 stitches cast on. the one modification was the extra yellow round in the final slipped stitch round before starting the thumb increases.

Yarn used

The two contrasting colors were also leftovers from my stash. The light green is possibly a Swedish Finewool breed, and the yellow probably Romney from our local sheep flock (that has since then been replaced by other breeds).

Total weight of the mittens: 53 gram.

Left of the main yarn: 18 gram.

So I used 38 grams of the main yarn, and 15 grams of the contrast colors. I have no info on how much of each of the two contrast colors, but the yellow is finished up.

Sunday 28 January 2024

Luxor sweater finished

 We talked about another sweater for my husband that I could knit for him. The first one was a round yoke sweater with dark brown main colour, a Threipmuir, design by Ysolda Teague. He loves that sweater. We talked about choosing another main colour, for variation with the Threipmuir sweater. However, as soon as he saw the yarn of the crossbread that I had been spinning in our holiday cottage, several holidays in a row (he never noticed it then), he fell in love with that darkest, almost black colour. So, that was the yarn-to-be for his next sweater.

Then to choosing a pattern. Ravelry is full of beautiful sweater patterns, and I have stored hundreds as favourites. When I made a swatch and had an idea of the nr of stitches per 10 cm, I looked at the sweaters that I had selected in that gauge range and made a few suggestions to hem. The choice fell on Luxor.

That was a good choice because:

  • The yoke gave options to use leftover yarns
  • In case the main colour would not be sufficient, I could repeat the pattern in the body close to the bottom and the arms. It appeared that I needed that, and made the pattern detail at the body equal to that at the arms.
So I started in november, and at some point in december it was finished. He wears it, is very happy with it and so am I!

Saturday 13 January 2024


Crimp and stretch

Last week, I finished two different yarns. The way they were spun were similar, my go-to short forward draft method. The preparation for both was equal too, prepared from raw fleece, scoured, washed, carded in the drum carder and rolled into rolags. Spun and plied into a 2-ply yarn, skeined on my thrifted Swedish skein winder (paraply haspel) into skeins 150 cm in circumference. The only difference was the sheep breed. One was Romney, with long, rather shiny fibers with a wavy kind of crimp, not very fine fibers I would say. The other was Flevolander, with shorter, also a bit shiny but less than the Romney, rather crimpy fibers. Very fine wool, lambs wool from the first shearing.

After being spun, both were washed, even in the same bath and rinse cycles and here the interesting difference happened. During drying it became clear that the length of the skeins differs hugely. They have both been lying flat when drying, next to each other. And still one skein is much shorter than the other. This difference is to be attributed to the crimp. The Flevolander has much more crimp which causes the yarn to ‘shrink’. But not really shrink as in felting, because it is still possible to stretch it to the original length of the skein.

This elasticity influences your knitting. My experience is that the project that you knit will be more elastic. That is a nice thing in hats and mittens, shawls and sweaters. Maybe not so in weaving projects for e.g. blankets or a woven shawl (especially when the warp material differs from the weft). Knitting with rigid yarns (I call my un-shrinking Romney yarn like that), as opposed to elastic yarns, can be a bit tough for the joints and muscles in your hands and arms. It gives you a final product where the individual stitches remain more visible as they do not shrink and spread themselves nicely in the open spaces. The rigid yarn has its advantages. Weaving with rigid yarns is more pleasant and the size of the final product is more predictable.

I wonder what difference it makes when crocheting. Classic borders, doilies etc. that are crocheted, were mostly made with cotton or linen, no stretch there at all. So a woollen substitute would best be an unstretchy yarn. However, a big croched shawl that is a bit stretchy seems nice. So maybe both types of yarn can be used, depending on the project being made.

Below are the two skeins, Romney to the left and Flevolander to the right.

This is what crimp does to the length of your skein, or to the elasticity in your yarn. Amazing isn't it?

Tuesday 2 January 2024

Soap making

 Last year, December 2022, I made my first batch of soap. In January 2023, I could start using them They were quite a success, according to friends and family who got a bar of soap to test. I was very happy with the result too. The scent was partly peppermint, partly lemon and orange. The peppermint was quite dominant, which made the association with toothpaste or chewing gum rather obvious.

The bars are almost finished (I had quite a lot of soap bars still in storage, that also were used up during 2023), so it is time to make new soap. This time, the scent is totally different: the rest of the sweet Orange, then Petit grain and Ceder atlas. All organic, as well as the base oils, Cocoa butter, Coconut oil and Olive Oil. It is an interesting scent, not something for the lovers of lavender soap. The tin is tucked away in a blanket right now and tomorrow I can cut it up in bars, that still need to finish the process of saponification during 4 weeks. So, in the end of January I will be able to use one!

Here some pictures of the process:

The fats and oils in the foreground, the lye solution in the back

The mold, a cake tin lined with baking paper
The mold, a cake tin lined with baking paper

The essential oils (fragrance) on my tiny scale, 22 grams in total