FO Friday: Selbu Modern

My days have been so busy getting ready for tomorrow's Road Trip to the Bath Christmas Market that I've not really had a chance to plan what knitting will be going with me in the coach! I'll have to think of something though, as last weekend I put the finishing touches on a hat I started almost at the very beginning of the year: Selbu Modern.

With all the Christmas crazy happening all around already, it's nice to have the feeling of accomplishment that comes from finishing a project - however small! 

Selbu Modern - loving the contrast of the blue and green although the hat isn't as slouchy as I'd like.

Selbu Modern - loving the contrast of the blue and green although the hat isn't as slouchy as I'd like.

This is a popular, free pattern on Ravelry and one that I've been attracted to since the first moment I saw a fellow knitter wearing it. It's meant to be a somewhat slouchy beret, although I was a bit tight with my gauge, resulting in a smaller hat in spite of wet blocking over a plate!

Blocking the hat over a plate helped to even everything out and stretched it a little bit.

Blocking the hat over a plate helped to even everything out and stretched it a little bit.

The pattern is clearly written, and the design is carefully thought out through the decreases in the crown to carry the design to completion. The yarn I used is Koigu KPM (or Koigu Premium Merino) and has a pretty tight twist.

The yarn and pattern were a kit I purchases at the KW Knitter's Fair right before I moved to the UK and I was thrilled with the idea of the green setting off nicely with my green winter coat. I'd be tempted to knit it again though with a slightly loftier yarn to try and get a little more if a slouchy hat.

As for why it took me so long to finish? Well on Episode 2 of the Yarn in the City podcast, Rachel and I had a brief conversation about "the right tool for the right job". Frankly, I was knitting magic loop with a needle that had a too short cable, and even switching to DPNs the ones I had were too short and I kept losing stitches off the end. It was a frustrating knit and I ended up parking it when the weather got warmer. Why knit if you're not enjoying it?

I was determined to finish though, and bought a new needle at my LYS, Loop. They had the new Addi Sock Rockets so it gave me an opportunity to try them out. Wow! Obviously it make a huge difference having a cable the right length, but the smooth finish on the Sock Rockets is amazing. Happily, the size needle I purchased is one that can be employed again for knitting socks. Maybe it will make me a faster sock knitter?

A podcasting we will go...

Those of you who know me well know that I love to try new things. So it may come as little surprise that as part of the fun we've been having with Yarn in the City, Rachel and I decided we should add a podcast to the mix.

Rachel's new handspun sample: Sitka Spruce by Tin Can Knits in the Porpoise Fur Haematoma colourway

Rachel's new handspun sample: Sitka Spruce by Tin Can Knits in the Porpoise Fur Haematoma colourway

As much as I feel like I "um-ed" and "ah-ed" my way through our first episode, it was a lot of fun to do. I was immediately reminded of a time, very long ago, when I trained at the campus radio station at uni. Another friend and I would go in and record our own "shows" as practice for being on air. Not that either of us ever ended up on air, but we sure had a blast doing the talking segments between the music we selected. 

And that's how it was with our first episode. Rachel and I, tucked away in the attic of her house with our notes on various knitty things and just having a laugh. There's something extremely comforting about venturing into something new with your bestie beside you. Along with a huge sense of relief when you realise that you've never had a conversation about musical tastes before but are pleased to discover that you're more or less on the same page!

It was also a strangely intimate experience, which was unexpected. I suspect that has to do with the fact that many folks listen to their podcasts with headphones, or while on their own, and so there was that sensation afterwards in the editing that we're talking directly to our listeners. So it's also been a relief to hear back from folks that (sound mix aside) they enjoyed our first episode and are looking forward to hearing more from us.

Me too. I can't wait to see what we get up to next!

 

Batteries recharged

I know I often say that things are "all go" around here but it really feels like the last few weeks have been a sprint to the half-term break. There's been loads of client work keeping me busy, shows to visit, and Yarn in the City planning to do.

Speaking of Yarn in the City - you *do* know about our call for submissions for our first book, right? Quick, go here and check out the details. I'll wait!

There's also got a new knitting project on the needles (only 64 more knitting days until Christmas!), which is a good thing as Mr. H has football four times a week and ice hockey too - so it's a good way for mummy's hands to be busy while she's watching from the sidelines. All of this has meant that it seems like school only just started and then we blinked and all of a sudden half term was here!

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to hear about a class in fair isle and colourwork that designer Mary Jane Mucklestone was going to be teaching at L'Oisive Thé et Tricot in Paris. To sweeten the deal, Mary Jane was traveling with good friend Gudrun Johnston, who would have a trunk show at shop in support of her new book, The Shetland Trader.

The mobile C&Q office on the Eurostar: have coffee and laptop, will travel!

The mobile C&Q office on the Eurostar: have coffee and laptop, will travel!

Knowing that this would be the perfect pre-mid-term break for mummy, I quickly sorted out some moderately priced tickets on the Eurostar and found a cute flat through Airbnb a quick 10 minute walk from the shop. (This was a rare treat for me as when I've gone to Paris previously for stitchy-related events, or even around the UK, I'm usually only able to get away for the day. Because the fair isle class was at night, it meant an overnight stay and an opportunity to explore a little more.)

The lovely yarns at L'Oisive Thé et Tricot - this shop is a MUST if you're ever in Paris

The lovely yarns at L'Oisive Thé et Tricot - this shop is a MUST if you're ever in Paris

Having only made the trek to L'Oisive Thé et Tricot once before, it was lovely to be able to sit with owner Aimee over a late lunch and learn more about the shop and see all the changes since last time. The shop is now the European flagship for Quince & Co and there is an abundance of hard-to-find-in-France yarns like Koigu, SweetGeorgia,  Madelinetosh, Biscotte & Cie, Freia... And the UK was well represented with Kettle Yarn Co, John Arbon Knit By Numbers, Baa Ram Ewe, Erika Knight, and more!

My fair isle cuff in progress. Somewhere along the way I lost one of my DPNs - surely a sign of a good class!

My fair isle cuff in progress. Somewhere along the way I lost one of my DPNs - surely a sign of a good class!

When I arrived back at the shop that night for the class, everyone was in full swing, pulling out the colours from their kit packages and immediately getting started working on the class project - a fair isle wrist cuff. We were given six colours and a pattern as a guide but encouraged to use any colours we wanted and just PLAY. 

Clockwise from top left: a spread of snacks to keep us going through the class, comparing cuffs at the end of the evening, Mary Jane talks about colour theory with example swatches from her book, and the inside of the fair isle vest from Mary Jane's Craftsy class - almost as pretty as the outside!

Clockwise from top left: a spread of snacks to keep us going through the class, comparing cuffs at the end of the evening, Mary Jane talks about colour theory with example swatches from her book, and the inside of the fair isle vest from Mary Jane's Craftsy class - almost as pretty as the outside!

Pretty soon there was colour everywhere as knitters got down to business, chatting happily in a mix of English, French and "Franglais". Throughout the evening Mary Jane explained the principles required for stranded colourwork to be considered "true" fair isle, and also provided an excellent explanation of colour theory and how to think about colours when pairing them together. Having learned how to do stranded colourwork before but not the principles behind fair isle, this was a very exciting bit of the class for me!

At the end of the class we all compared cuffs and talked about what we each liked and didn't like about our choices. This was a fantastic way to see how others had combined colours and get feedback from Mary Jane on why some combinations of colours didn't work or worked better than others - putting the colour theory into practice and reinforcing the lesson.

The obligatory group shot of the evening's knitters

The obligatory group shot of the evening's knitters

It's been a while since I've had the opportunity to do a class and there's nothing like learning something new to get the creative juices flowing. I returned to London feeling recharged and energised, happy to get back to my knitting, and eagerly looking forward to when I can take another class to learn something new.