Two things

With almost everything waiting for the moving company my mind is already gone from here. I was a bit stressed before Christmas but all the nervousness is gone now. At the beginning of this week a colleague asked me if I would be missing something from Belgium in my new life. And I could come up with just two things: my knitting group and my colleagues. Nothing else.

I had very bad experiences here (maybe that’s why I couldn’t finally adapt) and I never expected that my departure could be like it is. I said goodbye with almost tears in my eyes to the SnB Brussels girls and today I had a lunch at work in my honor.

After very long time thinking that I was not going to miss anything, I almost feel sad for not seeing this friends anymore (or at least for some unknown time).

Luckily internet makes our world a very small place.

Last SnB Brussels (and this time for good)

After saying goodbye to my knitting friends of Brussels, wonderful Ihanitse decided to organize an extra emergency meeting and say goodbye in person. She even put a picture of me with my halliard and wrote this lovely description:

Our very own lovely Elena (aka “I-learned-to-knit-lace-la

st-night-and-made-this-little-shawl-called-Ishbel” aka “co-ordinator extraordinaire”) packs her needles, hooks, boyfriend and dance shoes and changes grey Brussels for the warmth of Madrid.
This is an emergency meeting for all who wish to knit together with Elena for the last time (although I’m sure she’ll be back to visit in the future). Elena already thought she’s off the crochet hook but we lassoed her right back in: http://elenaknits.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/last-snb-brussels/
Just like the true yarn addicts we are, we say – just one more round! See you in ViaVia this Wednesday from 6pm or after work. January meetings are
Wednesday 11/1
Wednesday 18/1
Sunday 29/1 Kristin, Wincy, Johanna and for the last time – Elena

The knitting time was, as usual, great, and seeing them for the last time, priceless. I’ll keep in contact and hope that we can visit each other in the future.

People divide the world among, friends, mates, acquaintances, and unknown people. For us, knitters, the world is divided between people we would knit something to and people we wouldn’t. I have now more people that fit into the first category.

Girls, I’ll never ever forget you, and I wanna see what you’ll be making.

A picture is worth a thousand words

And I would add that a video is worth a thousand images.

I bought Ysolda‘s Elijah pattern a couple of weeks ago. To start the head of the elephant you need to do a circular cast on also called “casting on from middle disappearing”. The link that appears in the pattern is this one:

http://techknitting.blogspot.com/2007/02/casting-on-from-middle-disappearing.html

I tried to figure out what that meant but it didn’t work for me. That reminded me of my Knitting Bible book, where I got the notions, but at the end I really needed videos to figure out how to make things. I found the equivalent of the previous link in YouTube. And this time, I could make the circular cast on:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRHzIYEK7a8]

I’m still a beginner, but when I hear/read other beginners asking how to do something or that they are not able to figure how something works, I always say the same: use YouTube, it’s free, it’s very useful and you can learn anything out there.

Receiving

After seeing hoy K. treats hand made items, I tend to forget how normal people usually do. K. always wears his crochet hat with fleece lining when it’s cold outside, he likes to hold and cuddle my yarn balls when I’m knitting and he recently asked me to knit him a scarf similar to the one I made for my father. He even came with me to choose the wool.

Making something for somebody so thankful is a pleasure, and I enjoy making things for my loved ones. But again, I’m never prepared for the reaction, or let’s better say, lack of reaction from my family in general. I made an Ishbel shawl for my mother three months and a half ago. Almost everybody said that it was very beautiful, but they didn’t have an idea of the amount of hours and effort put there (again, K. sees me all the time knitting at home, so he knows all that it takes to knit something). Next I got some complaints about the material, that it felt too cold. The truth is that I also preferred something different, but in the local shop close to my mother’s place (and the hospital) they did not have a great variety of yarns available. At least I got one of her favorite colors. Due to the material (I hope) she couldn’t wear it during Summer.

Since her surgery it looks I’m obsessed with knitting, and this is what I made for her for this Christmas period:

This was a very easy and quick shawl to make, and the result was very good. I gave it to her for Christmas and she liked it a lot, but again, I think my family in general gives more value to bought things rather than hand made. When she was on the phone with my aunt she was describing the presents she got and forgot to mention the shawl. I made nothing for my sister because I know she completely disagrees with this hand-made knitting stuff when you can buy something similar in one of those Chinese shops for a couple of euros. As you see, my family doesn’t understand about materials either.

Finally my mother was wearing it yesterday while we were talking on Skype 🙂

When thinking about writing this post, I had this Yarnharlot‘s post in mind. Read it, it’s priceless. And now, I’ll continue knitting K.’s scarf while he keeps holding and cuddling the yarn while we watch something sitting on the sofa.

Last SnB Brussels

Yesterday I organized and assisted to probably my last SnB Brussels. I must confess that I didn’t feel like going because of the bad cold I caught just when I landed in Belgium. But I made an effort and it was worth it. I saw some old and new faces. We knitted and we bitched. It was kind of sad that I missed some girls there, but at this time of the year it’s completely expected, since some people are still coming back from they home countries.

I’ll never forget you girls. I may meet other SnB in the next future, but you were the first for me and you’ll be present in every little stitch I knitted with you.

Ishbel for a long way from the darkness

I started this project while my mother was at the hospital due to surgery, almost at the end of September. One of her parathyroid glands had to be removed and the doctor informed us that this was an extremely easy operation and after a couple of days my mother would be happily at home with very little pain and a tiny scar at the base of her neck.

But as you know, thing tend to come out totally different from expected.

The operation lasted for four hours, she lost two littres of blood and had to stay in Intensive Care for two days. Her blood preasure reached alarming values of 5-2 and they had to stuff her with liquid to raise it. The first time I could see her she was crying with pain and her conscience was fading due to morphine. She doesn’t remember those days and I’m sure it’s for the best.

After two days they took her upstairs to her room and soon she started to have breathing problems. I remember a night that she could barely breath. She thought she was going to die. The next morning the doctors found out that what she had in her lungs was the liquid that they’d been stuffing her for the previous days. She was also completely swollen and couldn’t even bend her fingers. They also said that due to the respiratory problems she could also have a heart failure. Believe me, each of the ten days that she stayed at the hospital, we had a brand new surprise that made our hearts sink.

And all that without taking into account that they couldn’t find the gland they were looking for, and they even had to cut more than it was foreseen… for nothing. They also cut part of her sternum and even today she has pain and has problems to sleep on her side.

The surgery left her a scar in her neck bigger than we expected. A bit T.

I then understood that me spending days and nights beside her bed was not enough. I needed to knit my love into something that could be useful and use my efforts to make her come back to us. So I decided to knit Ishbel.

This being my first lace pattern and because of the situation, I miscounted here and there and I had to unravel the lace part. It’s when I learned the use of guide lines and took a short break just when I came back to Belgium. It’s not a very good idea to knit a lace shawl with yarn made out of cotton and rayon after spending hours sitting in a room of a hospital with low light and your mother suffering.

I started over the lace part and the second time I could focus more than the first.

I finally finished it during my following trip to Spain in October and blocked it there. After hating the knitting and the yarn used several times, I have to say that I am very pleased with the result and it was worth it.

Beginnings

I was always a bit of a nerd and never spent too much time making crafts. I used to like how amigurumis looked like but the process of learning to crochet and build one of those pieces of art was out of my grasp. They looked beautiful, I dreamed about making them one day but there’s where it ended.

I learned to make chains of crochet and stockinette stitch when I was around ten years old. My mother taught me crochet, but I couldn’t get further than those chains. Double crochet and the rest were too much for me. My grandmother was a handy knitter and I used to wear lots of jackets made by her but the only thing I was able to do at that time was less than half a scarf in stockinette stitch which curled horribly. As I was not achieving any of my goals, I dropped both crafts and never ever tried again for more than twenty years.

I finally started crocheting a bit more than two years ago (I’m already 33, oh my!), and knitting just this summer. And what got me started with both crafts was my niece. She was born 2 Decembers ago, and some months before I started dreaming of making an Afghan blanket for her. But this time I didn’t stop there, I got myself motivated enough and I asked for a little help from Violetazul, the only knitter I knew at that moment. She sent me the link to a pattern and that November I started crocheting. When trying something new, I watched again and again videos from YouTube, in my opinion a great tool to learn any kind of craft.

I remember those charts calculating how many rows I had to make each day before Christmas to have the blanket ready for Christmas. The baby was finally born the 13th of December, but I didn’t travel there until a couple of days before Christmas.

After accomplishing the blanket and surprising several members of my family (my mother took some time to believe that I actually had made that) I decided to explore and try for good to make amigurumis. The first attempts failed. I could get myself motivated enough until I found Super-cute Crochet: Make Your Own Amigurumi Family. I made some of those designs and I felt pretty satisfied.

Some time after that I discovered the group Stitch’n Bitch Brussels, where I met other people addicted to crafts. At the Stitch ‘n Bitch meetings I used to feel kind of jealous becase some of them were talking about things like purl, cable and stockinette and I didn’t have the remote idea of what they were talking about (Spanish terms are different from English ones). After crocheting for some time I always envied how knitted garments look. Crochet is great for small pieces, for blankets, for rugs, but let’s be honest, it doesn’t look wonderful for sweaters or socks. I’ve been secretely planning for months to make a sweater or a jacket and for that I needed knitting; well, I should say that I needed to learn knitting.

I was really-over-super busy the last months, but I needed to learn something new (no, it was not enough with my work, with my Cisco CCNA and my plants). Thanks to a book I had bought some time ago and the essential YouTube, I learned the basic stuff and, after over 20 years without knitting, I finally started to make what I wanted.

This is the first knitted thing I made. I have to say at the first the Stitch ‘n Bitch meeting I brought it, the fact of me switching to knitting drew a big ovation. Again, my niece inspired me to start something new. This was also for her.

My first ever finished knitted garment. Yeah!

And you? How did you start with this addiction?

Wool Shops

I started knitting and crocheting in Belgium, so the first wool shops I visited were in Brussels.  Those shops were small and what amazed me most was that they all had different yarns. If I bought something in one of them I had to go to the same shop again if I wanted more. I also discovered that some yarns were discontinued from one year to the next and that there was not the same stuff depending on the time of the year. What I liked from those shops, and I thought it was going to be a standard, was that you could pick up the yarn that you wanted, touch it, smell it, compare it, touch it again, leave it back on the shelf, take another, leave it, take the first one again. And this over and over again until you were satisfied. Off course that led me to some little mistakes on my part, until I discovered the dying lots.

The first time I bought yarn in Spain was in a little shop close to my mother’s place. There you didn’t have access to the yarn. You just had to describe what you wanted and hope for the best. Unfortunately like that you depend on what the woman behind the counter thinks best and sometimes it doesn’t match what you want. I also found there that what they always have is left overs. Another hard point is that they have all almost all the yarn at the back where you can’t even peep at.

I tried a second shop in the same city and the system was similar, though they had a bit more unhidden yarn.

Anyway, yesterday evening I tried both shops again with no luck. I was looking for an alternative to Malabrigo Chunky (they don’t sell it over here), but the thickest merino they had was for 6 mm and tried to sell me that one affirming that it could be fine depending on how I loose I knitted. I agreed on that, but for this concrete pattern tight knitting was required, so no thanks.

In the future probably I will consider buying yarn online. You can see all there is in store, but on the other hand, you can’t touch the yarn, and that, being a bit wool allergic, is a drawback.

How about you? What kind of shops are there in your city? What do you prefer? Being able to look at and touch everything that is available? or do you prefer somebody who advises you and gives you the yarn that they think is best for you? Do you use yarn online shopping?

Recommendation: Canary Sanctuary

After a couple of years in Ravelry it’s always pleasant to discover designs that I’ve never stumble upon. And when that happens I always say “but how have I never seen this before!?”. Today it happened with some designs of CanarySanctuary.

Checking the last things made by my friends, I discovered this Sexy Vesty from Lady Rowena. This is the original:

I quite liked it and I decided to visit CanarySanctuary’s Ravelry page. I discovered some wonderful designs, and after some “wow’s” I made a selection to post here. The first it MidWinter Wanderer. I think my next cowl is going to be this one.

Solstice Stag reminded me a little bit of Halliard, my first sweater, with sidelong cables.

I also loved the lines of Corona. And I will definitely try it one day.

But the one that enamored me most was Alatus, that I’ve already added to my queue and it’s in second position. Very soon I’ll tell you what’s first. I’m thinking of making it in a light color yarn to make the wings more visible and I will probably go for merino since I’m allergic to 100% wool. We’ll see 🙂

Don’t you think these designs are awesome?