Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Of wool and knitting and me

It’s been a lot longer than I planned since I wrote last time. I have been away from home quite a while, but am back now beside my beloved wool pile.

Thank you for all the kind comments of my Fall Colours sweater. It was all in all an enjoyable knit and the joy was born from improvising while knitting. Colour changes came when I felt like it and the little embroidery happened in its turn. My daughter is a ballet dancer and she loves wool, wears wool socks all the time and thus it felt very appropriate to embroider dancing bird into her sweater. Although the name for this blog comes from a different reason which I explained in the dawn of this blog. And yes, I would say that Maisa Tikkanen yarn is little bit like Shetland wool.

Every now and then I get enquiries about whether or not I plan to publish my patterns. There are times when I consider this and sometimes even feel like doing it, but then drop the idea after all. So far knitting has been my hobby, a very dear one, something I seem to return to in the course of time over and over again and it gives me great pleasure. It is my relaxation island, where I find peace of mind and tranquillity. With time I have been making less and less notes and just been knitting and making changes to my plans while knitting. This kind of style means lots of ripping and redoing but I don’t mind that too much right now. (The dress I am making at the moment, well, I am doing the hem for the third time and feel now that it is about right.) I don’t have deadlines and if I don’t feel like knitting for a whole week or a month or a year even, well, that is not a problem either, because as I said this is my hobby. And I like to keep it that way, at least for the moment.

Publishing a pattern would demand lots of work and I’d need to stop for a long time to perfect the fit and explain the various techniques I have chosen. Now, I can just move along and knit. But I do realize that it might feel a bit frustrating not to be able to knit something you see here and would like to. I wish to be able to give you ideas and inspiration documenting these knits on this blog. And I don’t mind if you want to replicate something you have seen on my blog as long as you credit the source. And for reading I highly recommend Elizabeth Zimmermann’s books. I follow her concept of making sweaters and have often thought that if I were to write a book and patterns, I would try to do it her way. But then we already have her books and they are so good, it would be impossible to meet her style and quality.

So I have been knitting (and knitting) this Bohus-inspired dress and she has a name now. I am calling her “A Merry Sheep’s Reel”, because it will be a dress with hopefully a happy hem, and because I am making this of natural coloured Finnwool yarn and the dress is so huge on my lap that it feels like I am holding a real sheep. I am just about done with the hem, and yes, for the third time. All I can say is that is has been a lot of knitting so far and I expect that the sleeves will fly off my needles when the stitch count on the row is a lot less than hundred, where it now is more than four hundred.
There is no snow at the moment on the ground, the snow has melted into small puddles. It seems to be dim or dark at all times but I have decided not to complain about it this winter. I will enjoy this quiet season with candles and hot drinks. And really, this morning when I looked at the lake and into the surrounding forest, I really loved what I saw. While the daylight was growing, I could see that the world was wrapped in a foggy blanket and slowly the blanket has been a bit lifted off so that I can see where I am but it is still very soft and grey all around. Actually it could be called dreadful, but I think it is very beautiful.
I was tagged by Aline and I am supposed to share seven things about myself. I don’t usually play these games but for a change I’ll tell you seven things about me that you probably already know.
I love above all rustic wool and don’t love very much what-I-call-over-processed wools, where the scent of sheep is gone while making its way into my knitting basket. At times I have had to make exceptions and have knit with superwash wools often too and I am sure I will do that in the future also, but with a lot less pleasure than with natural wools.
Although I enjoy the new needles and little trinkets and aids to my knitting life, picking up my old grey circular needles gives me this good old home coming feeling. Circulars for socks or mittens, no thank you! But circulars for fair-isle sleeves is an improvement I have had to make.
I have a ball winder but I try to wind all my yarn by hand with a nostepinne. This is my secret ritual where I worship the fibre and sort of persuade it softly to become what I want.
My favourite needle size is 3 mm. I can knit with 3,5 mm with joy but anything bigger becomes a task. Smaller than 3 mm, I don’t have a problem.
Quick knits are ok, but my greatest enjoyment comes from long projects, which usually is the case with sweaters with 3 mm needles.
I love stockinette.
Occasionally I try to have several knits on the needles at the same time, but really it is easiest for me to focus only one at a time. With poor record keeping, it is very demanding to jump between projects.
I dream of making everything by hand. I would love to be able to make my own shoes too and have occasionally thought of taking a course in shoe making and just might do it some day.

Ups, that is eight things! I am not tagging anyone. But if you’d love to play, please go ahead.

I know there are all kinds of serious dreams in the world at the moment, but since this is a knitting blog and since I highly appreciate the source of wool, I will wish you all this week
Sheep Dreams



  1. Thank you for that lovely insight into your world! I very much enjoy reading your blog, and I share much of the sentiments of what you've written about. I've also considered knitting (or crafting) to be more that a hobby, but I'm afraid that would take the joy out of it. And I prefer "unprocessed" wool, too! ;-) And I have to agree also with your thought on the weather. I love the snow, and feel sad if we don't get enough during winter. But I also love the type of weather you've described. Especially the fog.

    Thank you for sharing!

  2. Your lake looks beautiful to me. Where I live, it's all the same scenery all the time. Really, the only way to tell what season we're in is to look at a calendar.
    That dress is going to be wonderful. I can't wait to see its debut.

  3. Lene, reading your blog is very much like reading Elizabeth Zimmerman's newsletters. I love the insights you share and the peek into your world. Thank you.

    Now I can't wait to finish the Noro Lady Eleanor on the needles and get back to my handspun cardigan!

  4. I am planning to take a course in shoemaking! I found a teacher and I will work with him for one week. But I must wait til Spring because it is never good if I leave my home without someone to feed the woodstove, for even a week.

  5. It is always such a treat to read your posts. After taking a class on Bohus Stickning, I've learned to love projects on smaller needles as well. There's something so magical about the fabric created - it's just so lovely. Anyway, thank you for yet another magnificent read this morning!

  6. Dear Lene,
    Thank you for your wonderful writing. Real woolly wool touches my soul too.
    All good things to you and yours.

  7. aldona02:15

    It is great to have you "back" again! 3 mm. are my favorites, too. I have a metal pair that I bought in Paris when my late mother-in-law was in the hospital and I desperately needed a project to work on. Nowadays, I knit all my "Waldorf" animals with those needles and think of her. Lately, I've earned a bit of money from knitting and those projects sucked the joy out of my favorite hobby. How wise of you to realize in advance that publishing your patterns would spoil the pleasure.

  8. Anonymous06:13

    Your lovely blog just emanates peace, tranquility, and inspiration. I'm glad I found it.

  9. Kaamosaikaan tulee ikävä sinne pohjoiseen. Siellä pimeä on kuitenkin jotenkin pehmeämpää ja tarkoituksenmukaisempaa. Täällä meillä se on vain märän asvaltin itseensä imemän valon puutetta.

  10. Anonymous08:54

    Thank you so much, Lene, for your thoughts and pictures. Your lake is beautiful, so quiet and delicate. I can smell the wool in your first of seven things (eight). Your blog is a treasure and inspires me.

  11. Although I would love to see patterns from your beautiful projects (I`m not much of an improviser when it comes to knitting), I think it`s very wise of you to keep the knitting as an relaxing element in your life. There are enough things to stress us nowadays. I hope you`ll have a nice winter with a lot of snow and knitting!

  12. I completely understand how you feel about this being your hobby and therefore not wanting to write your patterns - that's work! When I was quilting a lot and giving quilts away as presents my family and friends said, "You should sell your quilts!" I was never interested in that because then my hobby would become my job, then an obligation. No thank you!
    Keep following your heart and thanks for sharing.

  13. Your 8 'things' are all delightful, I especially enjoyed #3 and 8, and relate so much with #1,2, and 7.
    It sounds like you're making friends with Winter this year which will make for a very good Winter. The photo of the fog really touched me, I could almost feel it, we affectionately refer to the fog as 'dragon's breath'.
    Your teasing little peek has me looking forward to seeing A Merry Sheep's Reel in her entirety.

  14. Dear Lene, you are right about knitting for pleasure instead of work. Since I began publishing my patterns a few years ago I get very little time for pleasure knitting. Although I get a different type of pleasure from seeing other people enjoy my patterns, I sometimes miss being able to just knit whatever I want without having to worry about the availability of the yarn for other people, or having to choose a color that photographs well. So you are very wise to understand this.

    I read your blog regularly and just want to say (as I've said before) thank you for allowing us entry to your peaceful and beautiful world through your writing and pictures.

  15. Anonymous01:02

    I've always enjoyed reading your blog and feel like I am traveling to another country when you post those wonderful pictures of the landscape outside your house.
    ~sheepdream on Ravelry :-)

  16. Don't publish your patterns. Every time I've ventured into knitting for money, it's been unpleasant. And that includes working for KnitPicks, which should have been my dream job. Knit for your own pleasure. If people are truly inspired, they can figure out a way to make something similar. There are a lot of design books out there.

  17. if ever you need a test knitter for that lovely blue felted hat, I'd be happy volunteer. I've been unsuccessful trying to find a pattern, and just love the simple line of that hat!

  18. You made me very happy Lene, by playing along with me, merci!
    What a lovely catching up with you!
    Your dress is spectacular. I need this kind of encouragement-inspiration since my sheep vest is still napping in a basket and I will soon need it to keep me warm on the snowy trails along the river.
    I have never used a nostepinne and realize I would like to know how it works someday.
    I am glad you are embracing this season. Where you are sounds so enchanting through your words and photos as always. I often wish I could rent your wood shed just to live next door to you! haha

  19. Anonymous04:05

    "And yes, I would say that Maisa Tikkanen yarn is little bit like Shetland wool."
    I too love rustic wools and only use superwash for socks.

    Thanks so much,

  20. I must say again how much I love your blog. I look forward to every post and it almost always seems too long!

    The picture of the lake is so beautiful.

  21. mary04:52

    Thanks for sharing your lovely dress. Wonderful natural color. I prefer natural wool and alpaca. Please keep the lake and scenery photos coming.

  22. Your photographs are so wonderful that patterns might be beside the point! The Fall Colors sweater has inspired me with a project idea - thank you!!

  23. As always, your thought provoking writing delights, inspires and warms my heart Your's is the only blog I read through at least twice for full enjoyment and for fear of missing a precious morsel. Your writing is as wonderful as your knitting. Many thanks once again. Ann

  24. It's not long ago, when I found your blog, but already I'm a fan. It's so nice to read about your knittings and other news.
    Just to say thank you, I left something for you to my blog :)