Tomten jacket

This is not going to be a long blogpost but pure delight about a pattern that pleases me every time I work with it.

The Tomten jacket, designed by Elizabeth Zimmermann and released in 1980, is an easy knit, easy to customize and simply beautiful. Children look like little gnomes in it.

I knitted the first one in 2016, (unfortunately) using cheap yarn. A test, not meant for eternity, but happens to be worn to this day … However, no longer by the little goddaughter – it’s way too small for her now.

In 2017, when the goddaughter’s little sister started walking around the house on her own, I knitted those two colorful Tomten jackets for the sisters, made of (doubled) sock yarn. So cute, when they wore them both, even though they were more of a coat for the little one.

Since 2018, there is N°3, the baby sister, who is no longer a baby but already one year old. Three jackets are waiting for her, to be worn in fall.

Lately I have knit another Tomten jacket. Made from a skein of hand dyed yarn in the colors of the sea, it is much smaller than the others and a little bit more elegant. It wasn’t made for someone in particular – only to make use of the beautiful skein.

And finally – after the Tomten jacket is before the Tomten jacket – I cast on another one last night. It is supposed to be a sock yarn stash buster in a toddler size and I am looking forward to see it turn out colorful. As it is meant to be a “mindless knitting take along” there is no time pressure. Once it’s done, I will show pictures.

You may want to knit one yourself! Why don’t you?

It’s been a while since I have sewn in a zipper. The picture is long overdue …

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The Lilly cardigan

As much as I love Ravelry (and I love it a lot!) – it has all those knitting books I own get dusty on the shelf. However, there are exceptions: Essentially Feminine Knits by Lene Holme Samsoe is one of them.

It’s a great book!

The introduction is titled “All you knit is love” and that totally fits the book: a collection of 25 must-have garments and accessories for every occasion, casual to dressy, and arranged by type of knitting, (i.e. garter stitch, leaf , cable, lace patterns, etc.)

Well-produced, with good pictures, a nice layout, and plenty of the necessary information, it features beautiful sweater, scarf and cardigan patterns, all of them well written and clearly presented, perfect for intermediate to advanced knitters.

I have knitted the Lilly cardigan back in 2014 and could not be happier with it (to this day).

Hence, I suggest you either buy the book or look it up on Ravelry and take a look at the designs yourself.

For me, the Tara scarf is next 🙂


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School Trips

Yesterday morning I took the son to the airport: together with his classmates and two teachers he will spend a week in London (he really gets to travel! Valence in January, now London …). The program will be tough, one of the teachers told me at the airport. London is not Club Méditerranée and he is not an entertainer. I am not sure those kids were aware of that. And no matter how much fun I had, watching this happy pack of teenagers – hats off to all those who offer, organize and accompany school trips!

Each teenager was allowed to take carry-on luggage, that is to say: one small suitcase each. As a result, the son’s mobile phone nearly collapsed on the eve of the journey … He received an unbelievable number of WhatsApp messages on who takes what and why, what is vital (I think that can be summarized with technology and cosmetics) and what not (school supplies) – real drama. Teenagers …

So now he is gone (again). Time to prepare my own trip. In a way, that too feels like a school trip or maybe the first day of school in a new class … Yes, I am little nervous. Or would ‘excited’ be more to the point? It takes me about 7 hours to go to Herbolzheim, home of Schachenmayr, by train. Travel time that I am looking forward to, no less than to the event to come: A company producing yarns for handknitting since 1822 that I have meant to visit for a long time. Their sock yarn (Regia) is definitely among my favorite yarns, many of the monsters and blankets I have crocheted are made of their cotton yarn (Catania). Both yarns will be in the limelight for two days. Last but not least, I am very much looking forward to getting to know 15 blogger and instagrammers whose profiles might be familiar to me, but not (yet) their faces.

So exciting to be part of #blackforestcrafts!

Hence, last weekend, I finished two projects, to be able to cast on something new on the train. First thing off my needles, was a sweater made of the yarn that once was to become my Birkin. Yarn, I had frogged five times and didn’t want to touch again any time soon. What can I say? Andrea Karminrot and her beautiful Afmaeli made me change my mind. I had had the pattern for ages – seeing her wear that sweater made me start mine the very same day.

© Andrea Karminrot // pic: Instagrammer stagepress

I knit it up in less than two weeks. Now, when I compare both Afmaeli – hers and mine – I am (once more) fascinated how colors make the difference! Two totally different sweaters!

On Sunday, I finished the Color Tipped Scarf (what took me so long?!). It is wide and long and soft and wonderful.

Yes, I could not be happier with the sweater and the scarf. I really need to check the weather forecast. Maybe I’ll take both of them along with me when going south.


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The Birkin sweater – finally!

In early January 2018, I bought yarn in Sweden to knit the beautiful Birkin sweater (pattern by Caitlin Hunter). A good year later, what fits so easily in a single sentence, was about to become a nightmare. Somehow, the Birkin and I did not get along. At all.

In a first attempt, I had five colors, two of which did not fit. Maybe in terms of color, but the yarns were just too different. I should have realized that before starting to work with them, however I did not. Hence, I started over. In a second attempt, I made a bad mistake when doing increases, after the first branch of leaves and immediately frogged the whole thing.

In a third attempt (February 2018) the yoke turned out way too tight (and yes, I did swatch to obtain gauge). It would have been perfect for someone without shoulders. Someone drop-shaped. Not for me. Searching for #birkinsweater on Instagram showed me that I was not the only one having problems – look for Valerie or Vivian or Kristen – very comforting but it did not help me and my sweater.

Finally, in a fourth attempt, everything seemed to work out, until I realized that the whole yoke turned out way too long, too low (if that is the correct word). All was well, as long as I did not lift my arms. However, it rode up whenever I lifted my arms, all the flowers moved too (Marjorie had the same issue). And I knew, I would never wear it that way.

Hence, a fifth attempt (July 2018) omitting some of the flowers, which did not help. At that point, I was on the verge of … well (every little dot a curse word)… omitting the whole Birkin idea. I did not and this last failed attempt would sit on my sofa for weeks …

Until January 2019, when my wonderful friend Bettina flew to Dublin to see her daughter, bringing local yarn for me to have on the way back. Just like that. Because she is wonderful. Donegal Aran Tweed, 8 balls in green, a red and a white one, two in a color called aqua.

So, I started over in a sixth attempt and this time (Caitlin Hunter may forgive me) I would listen to Elizabeth Zimmermann, her book “knitting without tears,” and nobody else. Doing a swatch first and then the sweater – bottom-up instead of top-down, aran instead of fingering, three flowery twines instead of five and decreases adapted to my body. All of a sudden everything was easy. The sweater was done in a week.

All is well. Hard to believe though.

Crazy for hats

As predicted, I have knit the fabulous Garter Ear Flap Hat by Purl Soho another three times: in teal, in black and in green. Of all those (five!) hats, I really liked the green one best. However, I gave it away (just like all the others).Then I knit a hat in Léttlopi; no pattern, just a beanie. That one turned out really nice as well; maybe because of Léttlopi. Such a lovely yarn to work with!

A Therese Hat was next. And it was meant to be mine. Unfortunately, it would look so weird on me, that I unraveled it the minute it was done. A decision I learned to regret. It would have been a lot smarter to consult my pillow, to sleep on it for a night or two and try Therese again at daylight. But well, … too late now. Look at it! Isn’t it gorgeous?! I should really make another one.

However, I might try London Bound first – a lovely pattern that was gifted to my by Magda (thank you again 💙). At the same time, I am looking at Capucine … This looks like the most comfortable hat of all hats. If I actually get around to knitting Capucine, I might replace the tassels by pompoms though. What do you think?

What are your “guaranteed success”-favorite hats? Did I miss some of the nicest pattern? If so, please let me know.


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