Train Knitting Roundup


I’ve always got a small project bag or two on hand with portable little projects for train and bus time. Thanks to the snow and a book deadline, though, the past two months haven’t been very travel-y at all. In fact, the same two lonely projects have been languishing in their bags since mid-December.

Since I’ve got some small gifts planned to make this spring (and a big uptick in travel ahead), I decided to finish up these two wintery items over the weekend. Both are favorite, classic patterns, destined for the same recipient: a lively green Rikke hat and a Honey Cowl in a darker variegated green. To the best of my memory, the cowl yarn is Malabrigo Worsted, but did lose the tag or label somewhere along the way. The hat is a a nice lofty Manos Del Uruguay something or other. I actually have a second skein of this on hand, so I think I will make some matching mitts for the recipient (I’m thinking a single-color edition of the lovely Log Cabin Mitts). As I’m refining my personal palette and style, this yellowy green color is still a question for me – it’s something I would have worn a few years ago, sure, but for whatever reason it doesn’t feel quite like me right now. Speaking of which, I recently threw out all my old Pinterest style boards. Time for a fresh start – and color is a goood place to begin. 

Picture: Add a nice set of mitts and this unseasonable gift will be on its way to a new home. 


A Happy Lopi


I finished up the Riddari just in time to get project photos with what I am really hoping is our last big snow of the year. I’ve written about my somewhat unconventional pattern modifications over on Ravelry (translation: back of the napkin math and good luck). Bryan has worn this every day since I finished it over the weekend, and he swears that wool is starting to get “broken-in” and less scratchy. It looks great; I’m really happy with the final product.

After knitting my first official lopi, I can understand why this design has stood the test of time and is experiencing such renewed popularity today. It’s fun, satisfying, and knits up pretty quickly – plus the construction is so durable. This sturdy sweater is still going to be kicking it years after its top-down, fingering weight contemporaries have broken down into shapeless piles (and I love a good shapeless pile as much as the next person, but the poor things have a lifespan).

Picture: I made him stand coatless in the snow on the coldest day of the year. IN UKRAINE. The man’s a saint.

Lopi Regress


I’ve been cooking since I was big enough to crack open an oven door. After almost thirty years of cooking every (vegetarian) dish on God’s green earth, I still have my fair share of misses in the kitchen. Just last week my attempt to re-create my favorite Pad Thai took a turn for the sinister. That’s part of the price of innovation and learning – trying new things means opening yourself up to the opportunity for error.

Well, I’ve been knitting for almost as long as I’ve been cooking, so it should not surprise me that I still make mistakes and that not every new project goes without a hitch. Still, I can’t help being a little annoyed at myself for making dumb, preventable errors. But it happens – and it happened again yesterday.

Last Friday, a week ago today, I had just joined the body and sleeves of the Riddari and moved on to the yoke. The week got busy and I didn’t have a lot of knitting time, but by yesterday I was casting off the neck. Th first stirrings of doubt began right before the neck ribbing, so it wasn’t a total surprise that Bryan tried the darn thing on only to realize that it’s easily a size too large in the chest and about 2” too long in the sleeves. My measurements and gauge had been spot-on for the body, and I’ve even tried the body and sleeves on him before joining – perfect. But I didn’t swatch my colorwork, didn’t try the garment on him at all after joining the body, and I added a repeat into the yoke on a whim because I was so convinced the fit was going to be tight.

There were so many points over the past week where a quick fitting would have saved hours and hours of work (I mean, we live in the same apartment and he physically sat next to me for much of the knitting, I have no excuse). But I didn’t take the time, and now I’ve got to make it right. 

All right, whining and self-recrimination complete. It’s not all that terrible – tearing out the yoke took me an entire evening (let’s not start on the horror of watching half a sweater disappear), but I know exactly what I need to do in order to achieve a perfect fit the second time around (knock on wood). I’m going to take out 2 repeats in the chest, shorten the arms by 2”, and add two rows of short row shaping to the back body right before the colorwork begins. The first time around I added two row short rows to the back right before the collar, and I was really happy with how that looked – I think the extra touch in the back body will improve the fit even more. Next week promises to be the coldest and snowiest week of the year, so it should be a good time to make short work of the new yoke and get this off the needles.

Picture: If I had tried the sweater on Bryan at this point, instead of just Instgramming it, we wouldn’t be in this pickle, now would we?

Lopi Progress


This lopi is flying! A combination of lofty Lettlopi wool, paired with US 8 needles and a Ukrainian February snowstorm is apparently the perfect recipe for sweater progress. I’m well ahead of my KAL goals, with the yoke starting last night. At this rate, I’ll have taken just a little over two weeks to knit an XXL man-sized sweater, which is certainly a personal best for me. Not that speed was required; I’m under no deadlines. It’s just been such a fun knit I can’t put it down (also: it’s too cold to go anywhere, see previous note re: Ukrainian snowstorm). 

There are a few small errors in the pattern, as pointed out by numerous Ravelry users – another reason I’m glad I picked a pattern with lots of community feedback to source. I haven’t modified much at all, besides taking some bulk out of the sleeves and leaving off the rolled cuffs (both at the request of the recipient, since he lives with me and is anxiously observing progress). As many other knitters have done on Riddaris for male wearers, I will add some short row shaping to the back of the neck. There’s about a 50% chance of me taking those short rows out 10 times until I get a look I like, so we’ll see how long this minor modification actually takes me.

There are lots of beautiful lopis to follow over on the Ravelry the Berroco Lopi KAL thread and on Instragram with the hashtag #LopiKAL.

Picutre: A very old progress picture, but the only good one I’ve managed to take…that’s what five hours of natural light a day will do to you.

Violet Mints


As kids, my three sisters and I were briefly obsessed with these violet-flavored mints sold at our local European import store. While the taste was unimpressive, the color and packaging were just irresistible. Maybe I was channeling some of that memory when I picked out this curious purpley-mint color combo for my Zweig sweater? Some magic was in the air, that’s for sure, because while both of these shades are a departure for me, I’m really feeling the combination.

I bought this Hedgehog Fibres sock yarn at Stephen & Penelope in Amsterdam. Let’s back up for a moment here and let me recount that experience: Amsterdam’s flagship LYS is just as delightful as you would expect, a petite jewel box stuffed to the rafters with color. It would be sensory overload to any knitter, but as a knitter who hasn’t had access to a physical yarn store in 9 months, it really packed a wallop. My sister and I were there on New Year’s Eve just shortly before closing, so we were in a bit of a rush and yarn was flying everywhere. Somehow in that dizzy blur I decided that I was really in a mood for a minty violet sweater.

I’m not sure that yarn with so much speckle was the best choice for the body, but I’m going to wait till it’s done to cast a final judgement. I’m super happy with the fabric – it’s so soft and drapey. The yarn is a tad splitty but overall really pleasant to work with. I’m almost done with the yoke, although this project is going to take a backseat while I finish the wooly Riddari (my reasoning being that Bryan might get some wear out of the latter this winter, if I can finish it in the next few weeks). Ukrainian weather being what it is, I expect to be able to wear the Zweig pretty much year round.
Picture: I think the closest descriptor for this color is actually “heliotrope.” This somber hue of the purple family was famously adopted by Victorian widows in their mourning period, when the prescribed black clothing of deep mourning could give way to a sufficiently cheerless color. Fitting, since I pretty much only wear black and grey to begin with…

Two Firsts


While I did do a LOT of yarn shopping in Amsterdam back in December (I’ll eventually recap that trip here), I had to turn elsewhere to get supplies for the handsome Riddari sweater that Bryan picked out. I knew from the get-go I wanted to make this in Istex Lettlopi, the yarn used in the original design. Since this yarn is usually only available in the US and Canada, I went ahead and ordered my quantity from WEBS and had it shipped to Ukraine via the secure, third-party shipping agency I always use  (receiving overseas mail to our location here is a little complicated, but it works out fine if you’re patient). The package showed up yesterday and I was just about over the moon to unpack it  – there’s nothing more fun than getting a box of yarn in the mail, and that pleasure doubles on a cold, grey Urkainian Wednesday.

Anyway, I turned to Ravelry last night to make some notes on the pattern edits and modifications I want to incorporate in my version, and I stumbled on the Berroco Lopi KAL, kicking off February 1. What good timing! I’ve never had the time to participate in a KAL, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to try. And how great to have the additional community and support during my first lopi-style sweater.

So, today marks two firsts for me: I cast on my first Lopi, and I joined my first knitalong. I’m really looking forward to taking my time with this project, though. I actually have never knit a bottom-up adult sweater, nor have I done a colorwork yoke, so I’ll have lots of learning to enjoy over the next few weeks.

Picture: I went with a suite of greys for Bryan’s Lopi. This wool is pretty scratchy!

Small Projects for the Cold Season


I’ve been travelling a lot lately and keeping busy with work, despite the slower pace of life here in Ukraine during the winter. Although I’m working on some larger, more exciting projects at the moment (more on that soon), all that travel has given me time to finish up a few portable, winter-friendly accessories. 

  • I’ve getting a ton of wear out of my lightly modified Lovisa armwarmers.
  • This Age of Brass and Steam shawl was a holiday gift for my sister, and it knit up wonderfully fast and lofty in some beautiful Manos Del Uruguay Maxima.
  • I made a pair of matching tincanknits Antler Hats, for me and my sister, and it’s become my go-to winter hat this season. Made up in trusy Malabrigo worsted, it’s warm but still breathable.
  • Most recently, I finished up a Camellia Shrug for a friend to wear at her upcomign March wedding. The pattern was her choice, and she selected white Blue Sky Alpaca for the yarn. I’ve written about my issues with the pattern on Ravelry, but overall I’m happy with how the garment itself came out – I last used Blue Sky Alpaca for a sweater about a decade ago and I forgot how lovely it is. Here’s hoping the shrug arrives in the US in time for the wedding!

Pictures:  We only get like three hours of sunlight a week during the winter, and these photos are unfortunately the worse for it.