Edible Flowers

I had problems yesterday to be at ease and the night brought with it some more insomnia again. In the evening I couldn’t even focus on knitting a simple and boring scarf and I started spinning for a little while again. I think I’m getting the hang of it and I can now get a thinner and more even yarn than before.

As I’m still learning I watched a couple of videos related to spinning that can come in handy at some time later:

How to do hand carding. Prepare the wool for spinning:

[youtube=www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDqY2mLooIw&NR]

How to use a  niddy noddy. What to do with your handspun yarn:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdS4lZMcqGI]

This morning the orchid my mother sent me for my last birthday decided to let open the first of its new flowers. This one arrived a bit more than fourth months ago, so this is very good news. The previous one took exactly one year to bloom again and I’ve even heard of cases where they never got flowers again. It seems this one is happy in its corner of the living room. I never thought that orchids could enjoy the dry weather we have in Madrid.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUKf-RNoAN4]

Insomnia

sleep We went to bed quite early on Friday. Koen was destroyed after a very hard week at work and lack of sleep and I needed some rest to recover from a bad cold. Koen fell asleep almost immediately, but I didn’t have the same luck. I was tossing and turning in our bed incapable of falling asleep and I decided to get up and kill some time in front of the computer. The truth is, I’m quite worried lately because after our trip to the Canary Islands, my mother’s health slowly improved to finally get worse and worse and we don’t know now if we’re facing a bronchitis or the beginning of a pneumonia (the doctors don’t seem to agree and the medication is not really working). I don’t want to give it more thought than I’ve already done, so I’ll continue with my Friday night.

I started checking my blogs stats, my email and some more useless stuff, when I remembered the last time I went to a fabric store and I admired from a distance those beautiful waxed canvas which were so inspiring and with which I could make gorgeous handbags like the one I made for my sister using the wonderful Bag Making Bible. As I’ve explained before, my sewing machine is not really better than a toy, and I had to wait to be at my mother’s place to use her machine to be able to make this handbag. My machine is fine for simple stitches with simple fabric. Forget about thick stuff, elastic fabrics or sewing zippers and buttonholes. I got a little salary rise this year so this sleepless Friday I decided to buy a decent sewing machine. I have to confess that that same afternoon I had to buy a zipper for Émilien (I finally found the right one) and I think the sewing machines I saw on the shop windows triggered this fever.

I found a fine model on ebay from a reseller and I purchased it. Sadly they called me today to tell me that they’d ran out of that model and they were getting a newer one that was a lot more expensive, so I cancelled everything and I got my money back. But the seed was planted, and after checking machines again on the net, I made my mind about another brand and model and how I could finish right now the coat I’m making if I had the machine already here.

I found a special offer and I’ve ordered a Bernina Bernette 15. The Bernette 12 would have been more than enough, but the shop sold them for the same prize and who’s going to say no?

WordPress nightmare

I have a problem with my blog. Some of you might have already guessed, especially if I left you comments on your blogs. Here is the thing.When I created the domain elenaknits.wordpress.com I did it under another username. It was an old name from an old blog I used to have in a previous life. When I realized my mistake, I tried to correct it by creating the username elenaknits to match my current domain. But it was not possible because it was unavailable.

I found a quick fix by creating elenatheknitter as a username, but that only made things worse. That created a new domain elenatheknitter.wordpress.com that I’ve never used and I don’t mean to.

Reading about WordPress policy, I discovered that you can change your username but then you will never be able to go back to a previous one. It’s kind of protection to avoid somebody using your domain and name in the future in case you’ve deleted yours. But my problem is that elenaknits as a username was never used. I don’t know if it was even created with the domain, because I could never use it.

I have a free account, therefore I don’t have support, and the only thing I could do was going to the forums. I asked there two days ago and the only answer I got was that what I want is simply not possible, and if the OpenID doesn’t work as a consequence it’s not important, because (in their words) it fails more often than it works.

I thought about upgrading to premium to solve this issue, but I don’t even know if fixing this will be possible, so I’m still doubting. I also thought about redirecting elenatheknitter.wordpress.com to elenaknits.wordpress.com, but there is not a free way of doing it. It just costs $12, but I am not sure yet if I want to spend money on this blog. I could start from scratch on a different domain, but I’m afraid of loosing the few visitors I have. I have made in the past a personal site with Drupal and I’ve given some thought to moving this blog to Drupal and to my own domain, but WordPress has nice features that make it easier to interact with other WordPress and blogspot users giving a more or less seamless experience.

Has any of you had similar problems in the past? How did you solve it?

Growing up

Koen’s mother told us last week that she went to visit Koen’s brother and his family. Koen’s nephew was wearing the Puerperium cardigan I made for him, but that it was probably the last time he could wear it; because, as little babies do, Sander is growing up fast.

I’ll have to think what to make next for him. We’re planning to go in summer, after the pollen season is finished. I’m doubting between a blanket or a sweater. Any ideas?

New adventure

With enormous desires of learning new things this year and a secret crazy project on my mind, I’ve been searching for an online shop where I could buy this:

Spin4

Oh, yeah, I really want to learn how to spin. I tried an online shop that I already knew but they’d ran out of initiation spinning kits. After searching a bit I found another online shop in Spain which also sells spinning kits at a fair price, and without thinking twice I made my order.

It arrived yesterday and I couldn’t wait to open it. It contains three kinds of fiber: wool, merino and dyed merino; a drop spindle made by Ashford; and written instructions on how to do it, including a link to Youtube:

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLH52mH9_9U]

When I first opened it I was very afraid to touch it and ruin the wool. I was very pleased with the woolly smell filling my nostrils, which reminded me a lot of the smell of the Cascade Eco Wool that I used for my Owls. I should now learn to use it and nothing better than Youtube to find more educational videos. This is the first of three videos and I totally recommend them:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fM3YwWg1EvE]

Despite the initial fear, after watching the instructional videos, I couldn’t stop myself from starting to play with my new toy:

It looks a bit fuzzy, but I’m not too worried. I should get better with some practice. I’ve already learned that as I’m a beginner, I should atenuate all the fiber before starting to spin, since it’s a crucial step and it’s difficult to do it even while you’re busy spinning.

Small rectangular shapes

When knitting something for somebody else, one has to take into account that person’s style. Most of the times, especially if the gift is a surprise, it just goes down to trial and error, and after some knitted gifts one can more or less estimate what to make and how to make it for that person to be successful.

I have made several scarves/shawls for my mother:

I don’t see my mother very ofter because we live 600 Km apart (before it was nearly 3000), but we talk to each other from time to time on Skype. And during the winter period I see her wearing a couple of those scarves. Guess which ones… Saroyan and Butternut Scarf. Why is she wearing these but not the other ones? These two are soft, warm, light and they have rectangular or pseudo-rectangular shapes. They also seem casual (my mother dresses nicely but she’s not very party-like) and one doesn’t need to be very careful when putting them on. You can just make a knot and go.

I’d really put my bet on Rhombuses. It also looked casual and nice for spring, but I think she never wore it. When she first saw it she exclaimed that it was perhaps a bit too large and heavy (it’s make of cotton). So large and heavy scarves are out of the question. I should also mention that my mother is on the petite size.

Ishbel is beautiful, but I made it in September, out of a cotton-rayon blend, and then the winter came. The fabric just felt cold to the touch and then I also realized that triangular shawls are not the most wearable ones. They can feel a bit awkward if you are not used to them. So no more triangular shawls for my mother.

I thought Nashira was going to be a big hit, because it seems very similar to Butternut Scarf in size and shape, and I used the same yarn in a different colorway (Malabrigo Lace), but I haven’t seen her wearing it, at least during our Skype talks. If she’s not wearing it, I reckon it could be because it seems more delicate than the Butternut Scarf. I didn’t block that one because it had a nice texture, but I did block Nashira because it really needed it. I think my mother is not wearing it because it seems perhaps a bit too delicate.

So in conclusion: Small, rectangular and not heavily blocked or with a too delicate appearance.

I really wanted to make the mini-Hawthorne for her, but I know it will be a fail and she will never wear it, so I am trying Clapotis this time in a green color that I know she loves (her favorite). I have delayed this for a little while because this shawl seemed a bit too simple (and the mini-Hawthorne so gorgeous), but that’s maybe what my mother prefers, so I decided to give it a try. The original design is a bit too large (I’m not making the same mistake again) so I’m making less repeats and we’ll see what comes out. It’s the first time that I use dropped-stitches, and I have to confess that it gives me a strange feeling. As I’ve mentioned, I want to learn new techniques along this year. At least this project fits the bill.

My wonderful sunset Freija is already finished!

This past weekend I couldn’t dedicate too much time to my knitting due to the Swing Madrid Festival. Seven hours dancing on Saturday plus two on Sunday left us brain dead. I managed though to block Émilien and Freija. Émilien is done, but I have problems to find a zipper with the right grey tone. Monday was bank holiday, so I set to the task of sewing the buttons to Freija. Wow, beautiful and adequate buttons; I don’t get tired of looking at them!

I wanted to make this cardigan for ages, almost since I started knitting. I started last year with a yarn that turned out too thick for it (Malabrigo Worsted Merino) just because I was too lazy to read the pattern twice. I finally got the right yarn just before Christmas and I casted on in the train back from my Vigo to Madrid (6 hour trip) at the beginning of January. I temporarily paused this project to work on Émilien and it seems I finished both almost at the same time.

I used the wonderful yarn Malabrigo Rios. It was the first time using this one and I am sure I will use it again and again. It’s beautiful, warm and incredibly soft. Like other supper-wash it feels a little bit like cotton, but with some elasticity. It has nice drape and it seems more durable than Malabrigo Worsted Merino. At least I don’t think it’s going to pill like that one. We’ll see with time.

I made size 33” and decided to remove the bobbles. They didn’t add any beauty in my opinion and I can see them easily caught in zippers, hooks or anything sharp, ruining the cardigan. I would have maybe narrow a little bit the waist, but I think it’s a problem of mine. My waist is quite thin and most sweaters are a bit loose there. Anyway I think it has a great fit. It grew a little bit after blocking, and the neck fits perfectly now. I was a bit afraid of having narrowed it too much, but at the it has just the right size.

I  modified the sleeves, making them much narrower. I did like the original, but it felt to me more like a jacket or a coat and I prefer fitted sleeves for normal cardigans (that I can wear under a coat). This is how I modified them:

  1. Cast on 40 st.
  2. After the M1’s they become 48 st.
  3. Increase 2 st with M1R, k, pm, k, M1L every 12 rows 4 times (rows 14, 26, 38, 50). 56 stitches.
  4. Remove increases on rows 74-76 (detailed in pattern).
  5. After row 73 work two sleeves at a time.
  6. Reverse sleeves (left is right and right is left).

After joining the arms I had 260 stitches instead of 282 (11 less st per arm) and I continued to decrease as it was described in the pattern until I got 124 stitches instead of 146, so the neck is around 20 stitches narrower than the original. I have a thin neck and again, the one on the pattern seemed a bit too wide.

The pattern calls for a three needle bind off for the underarms, but that adds a bit of bulk that I don’t like and doesn’t make sense to me in a seamless cardigan, so I just grafted and I can say that it looks neater to me.

Cell phone sleeve for Koen

I started my crafty life just crochetting. I looked at amigurumis on internet and I discovered that I wanted to make something like that. After a while I accomplished this and then I decided that what I wanted to make were garments. Soon I figured out that knitted garments usually have a much nicer drape and fit better the human body. Then I wanted to knit! I bought a book, needles and looked for tutorials in YouTube. Soon I made a cardigan for my niece and I’ve never stopped since then.

In one of our vacations I got a new smartphone and I had no sleeve for it. With some crappy yarn I found at my mother’s place I crocheted a very basic sleeve while Koen was driving around the north of Spain. It was not very beautiful but it came in handy at that moment. When Koen bought his first smartphone he rescued this sleeve from one of our drawers and he started using it, but it had a horrible green color that made me want to make something nicer for him. I asked him and he decided yarn and color. It was going to be black. I asked him if he wanted something knitted with beautiful cables, but he said that he wanted something simple, something similar to the green one. Last year I started to crochet the sleeve, I dropped it for a while and never came back to it. I have to confess that since I started knitting, I never came back to crochet again, just for brief moments, but never finishing anything.

In the meantime he lost the hideous green sleeve and his phone got naked and vulnerable.

This past week at Tenerife, I had lots of time for knitting, and in one of those quiet mornings, I designed this. It is quite simple. I asked Koen and he said it was perfect, that he wanted nothing else. I started to cast on and knitted a couple of rows, and then I had to leave it for some hours. I took it back when we were driving to the Loro Parque so that my niece could see the parrots, the dolphins and the rest of animals. It was such a simple project that I finished it during that car drive. Koen loves it and I’m considering making one for myself (we have the same cell phone model).

We enjoyed the park and the animals, and I got a small project finished in the meantime.

Cell phone sleeve (a pattern)

This pattern is also offered as a downloadable PDF at Ravelry.

This is intended for an HTC Wildfire S (10 x 6 x 1.3 cm). For any other model of cell phone, the pattern will need to be adapted according to the specific measurements.

This idea occurred to me after making the Kindle cozy but I didn’t want the bulk created by the 3 needle bind off but a neat end like the toe of a sock.

Gauge: 20.0 sts x 26 rows.

Material needed:

  • 7 grams of Cascade 220 or any other worsted weight yarn.
  • 4.5 mm (US 7) and 4 (US 6) mm needles (or size needed to get gauge)

Make the sleeve:

  1. CO 12 st using Judy’s magic cast on.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkyd3nq3Yn8]
  2. Continue st by st in stockinette stitch.
  3. After 9.5 cm (28 rows) from cast on edge, take smaller size needles (4 mm – US 6) and start 1×1 twisted ribbing (*k1 through the back loop, p1. Repeat from * across). Make 5 rows.
    I usually change to smaller needles one row before starting ribbing.
  4. BO in twisted ribbing using 4.5 (US 7) mm needle.

Enjoy!