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Monday, 21 October 2019

Totally nonsensical knitting pattern found on the internet

During a recent pinterest/ravelry-browsing-binge, hunting for new patterns for the winter, I realized that a lot of the projects that people find "super cute" or "so practical" are - from a knitters point of view - just plain nonsense. I'm always wondering if those posts are made by people that don't actually knit or if they actually think that stuff makes sense?

I don't want to be demeaning, everybody can knit whatevery they want. Also, tastes differ obviously. And sometime the pure process of knitting can already be therapeutic so I understand if you do not care so much about the finished product. But why not invest your time in something more useful? 

Some examples:

1) The knitted washcloth. Have you looked at the price of a ball of yarn recently?! How can it make any sense to spend 5 € on yarn, spend the time knitting it and then probably only use it a few times until you realize that you cannot put it in the washing machine and you chuck it out because it smells disgusting if an actual washcloth only costs 20 cents? I mean, I'm all in for knitting practical things but in that case you really have to re-evaluate the usefulness of that project.

2) The knitted curtains. This seems to be especially popular on pinterest at the moment but again, this seems rather complicated to me. It might be fun knitting a lace curtain (even though of course it is a very expensive curtain) but do you never want to wash it?

3) The lace stockings. Yes, I do knit socks and I love that they keep my feet warm on cold  winter days (and nights) but stockings are a completely different level. I don't know who still wears stockings in the first place but may I remind you that those things have the tendency to slide down annoyingly quickly, especially if they're made from a non-stretch yarn (which lace usually is)? And I suppose they have not really thought about the fact that you will probably have worn them out  after only a few times because lace yarn is usually too delicate? I have bad experiences even with normal, non-sock yarn that I used once to try it out and I had holes in my socks after wearing them only once.

3.a) This is also true for socks made from non-sock yarn that have holes in them after wearing them 3 times (there was a reason why sock yarn was invented).

3.b) And also a minor pet-peeve of mine: socks knitted with different colour strands - how can anyone knit the pattern stretchy enough to fit over your feet?? Or am I just too dumb? In my experience, once you include colourwork the socks loose their stretch and I cannot pull them over my foot anymore. Not comfy!

4) Amigurumi: Sorry, I do have to admit that they're cute but I don't really get the point. I wouldn't know what to do with all those teeny-tiny pandas, unicorns, and dragons. Knitting a scarf would probably be more productive.

5) Blankets: Ok, I admit that I have knitted a baby blanket in the past. And I admit that there are some really, really beautiful patterns out there (Purl Soho, I'm looking at you!) that I would love to knit. But seriously, yarn is just way too expensive to waste it on a huge blanket! Scrap blankets and granny squares I totally sign up for, anything that uses leftovers and doesn't require actually buying yarn for a blanket. Also, the time spent on knitting 324957038 km of garter stitch I rather invest in a more challenging pattern.

That leads me to the conclusion that some people either have no sense  of practicality or are just extremely bored so that knitting jumpers, cardigans, hats, mittens, socks, blankets, or other remotely useful projects are not enough anymore. Otherwise, enlighten me! Why do people do this?

Monday, 2 September 2019

Colour block baby cardigan

A little side project with leftover sock yarn. My usual baby cardigan pattern with contrasting ribbing and neck line, super easy and quick. I enjoyed knitting it even though the stitches are so small but the sock yarn knits up smoothly and it was done fast.

Unfortunately I knit it a bit late so Baby S. didn't really get to wear it before the summer and now it is obviously too small. Maybe another lucky baby will receive it as a gift when the opporunity arises, it's too nice to end up in a box somewhere!

And last point of criticism: the button holes should have been moved one stitch further away from the edge of the button band. As you can see in the image, the buttons end up too close to the edge and that makes it look wonky.

So knitting the same pattern many times still teaches you new things sometimes.

Pattern: Raglan Baby Cardigan (top-down) by the Students of Subway Academy II
Yarn: Leftover sock yarns, amongst others Lang "Jawoll"

Friday, 30 August 2019

My summer knitting project

Arent't these colours AMAZING?? This is the main reason why I bought this Pickles Merino Bliss. Also, it was on sale. But these colours! I had already an idea in my mind for a long time to knit a colour block cardigan in bright pink and red but I never found the right yarn for it, most of them were too dull. The blue I just bought on a whim because it went well together with the other colours.

It was the first time I ordere from Pickles and it was a really good experience, everything went smoothly and after I asked them about the ethics-factor of their yarns they wrote the following answer:

"All of our wool is free of mulesing, and all of our couloring uses Oekotex-certified dyes. We only have agreements with producers that we know do ethical trading. For instance do our Organic Cotton producers provide education and food for their workers and their families."

I looked for a suitable pattern because the yarn is very thin and after a long search I settled on Ysolda's "Stockbridge". I didn't plan on buying a pattern since ravelry is full of amazing free patterns but I figured this one is quite basic and I re-use it in many different ways. Again, I'm quite happy with the download procedure and everything. Although for 7 GBP I think you could also expect a hard copy to be honest...

Casting on will be exciting! New pattern, new yarn, new luck!

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Montreal 2019


Wow, I'm sooo behind with posting. Sometimes I'm wondering while I'm even hanging on to the blog while everyone else is on Instagram nowadays. But I still really do enjoy the writing, and not just typing on my phone (which really is a pain in the you-know-what).

So what I wanted to write about was our trip to Montreal in May this year. I had really been looking forward to this trip and it was going to be my first time in Canada and Baby S.'s first time outside the EU ever! We had prepared everything well and I wasn't too worried about the long flight, in fact the outbound flight went quite well. It was still of course the opposite of relaxing but ok, we could handle it. He even napped long enough for us to watch Aquaman during the flight which is quite a long film to be honest.

But once we arrived in Montreal it got a bit more difficult. Jetlag hit. And it hit us hard. While we parents actually got over it pretty quickly (having a baby makes you used to sleep deprivation I learned), the little one was not so pleased. During the entire week we stayed there he regularly woke up around 4 am and wanted to play, then refused to nap during the day.

It was also still quite cold in Montreal at that time of the year, comparable to February/March in Belgium I would say. Luckily we had packed the right sort of clothing but it was still not great since the only way to occupy the baby was going for walks and spotting buses, which he developed as his new favourite activity while we were there. So I ended up exploring the underground malls of Montreal in all their beauty. It's very practical, I have to admit, but if you are already suffering from a lack of sleep you wouldn't mind at least getting some fresh air and daylight once in a while.

So all in all I don't regret the trip, it still got me to explore a new city which I enjoyed. But being by myself (Thomas was working at a conference the whole week) with baby, the bad weather, and jet lag combined actually made me come home more tired than I was before. Oh, and did I mention the flight back? Yes, it was hell. 7 hours of sleepless hell on an overnight flight. I will stick to daytime flights with babies in the future.

My Top 10 things I liked about Montreal:

  1. Amazing coffee places, like this one: Paquebot, Vieux Montreal
  2. Green spaces & parks such as Mont-Royal, the botanic gardens, and St. Helen's island
  3. Good public transport and walking (not so evident for North America)
  4.  McCord Museum about First Nations' culture and art 
  5.  Museum of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) which has its headquarters in Montreal (register in advance for a guided tour)
  6. The Mile End and Plateau neighbourhoods for the maximum hipster experience
  7. Montreal Olympic Stadium
  8. People speak French AND English (well, most of them)
  9. Lots of buses and trucks to spot for little ones
  10. Also, tame squirrels tha people feed in parks.

I did one day trip, which is definitely worth it but unfortunately I didn't have a very good experience personally. I will describe it in more detail because it was so ridiculous: I was interested in Quebec's First Nations people and on the Internet I found this place called Kahnawake just outside Montreal that was reachable by bus, so I thought I'd make a daytrip out of it. Unfortunately this didn't quite go as planned. There were only 3 buses per day and  missed the first one so I could only leave in the afternoon.

Finally on our way, crossing the bridge of the St. Lawrence river was amazing. But on the other side the streets became more winding and the driver was not very skilled so started feeling a bit car sick. Baby S. had been sitting on my lap and became gradually more quiet, which I mistook for tiredness. The moment we had finally reached our destination and I was getting off, it happened: S. threw up all of the fruit puree he just ate over me, the floor of the bus, and -of course- the drivers' bag which was besides him.

Covered in vomit, trying to wrestle the pram out of the bus with one hand and with a sick baby on my other arm, the driver still had the nerve to ask me to clean up the bus! I was so angry that I just threw him a packet of wet wipes - which I subsequently regretted because after the bus left, I didn't have much to wipe us down with. A well, the vomit splashes on my shoes are still there now.

Luckily it was only a short bout of car sickness which I can totally empathise with after feeling it a bit myself. But not so luckily, we had arrived just before the closing time of the visitor's centre and all the other "attractions" in the little community, which was really more of a residential small town. I was given directions to a café where I spent half an hour, trying to clean us both up, and then decided to catch the next bus back again because there was nothing to do there anymore.

Of course, to finish off this ridiculous trip, when the bus pulled up, it was the same driver as before! He had just done a loop and was no going back downtown. Even though I was still angry I got myself to apologize for the incident (although I still think it was the drivers' bad driving which had caused it in the first place) and he got us back to Montreal. One of the lowest moments on this trip, I was happy it was over.

Oh, and I didn't learn anything about Kahnawake, its people, or the history of the First Nations in Quebec besides the wikipedia article that I read after I came home.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

"Kulan" baby cardigan

 This was one of those spontaneous knits that I wanted to cast on immediately when I discovered the pattern on Ravelry. Actually, I think I had already saved it in my favourites a long time ago but now I came across it again and was inspired!

It was a great project to use up some of my stash of assorted Latvian fingering yarns, most of it Tines I think. The grey one I know for sure but the other colours are leftovers of some nameless skeins that I bought at Hobbywool in Riga a few years ago.

First I tried to hold the yarn double to match it with the gauge suggested in the pattern, using a worsted weight yarn. But I didn't like it and it was very tiring to knit so I started again. I definitely prefer knitting with finer yarn, even though it takes a bit longer. It looks much neater at the end.

To get the correct size I picked up the amount of stitches given for the biggest children's size and that worked out well to get a size fitting a 12-18 months old. I also added 6 stitches for the steek. Apart from that I followed the instructions for the jumper pattern and then added the button band in the end. I took up slightly too many stitches for the band though, I have 86 and I should have probably done around 70 to get a better length.

Conclusion: sometimes the quickest decisions bring the best results!

Pattern: "Kulan" by Isabella H.
Yarn: Grey main colour: "Tines"; other colours from Hobbywool

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Portugal 2019

This easter we had planned to go on our first real holiday since the trip to the UK last summer. We were really looking forward to some warmth and sun in Portugal after the long winter, especially because Baby S. had been sick SO_MUCH. I can honestly say, we were sick of being sick!

 But of course, just a week before we were supposed to go, Baby S. got sick again - pneumonia this time. In my mind I had already cancelled the whole trip, luckily we took out travel insurance with exactly this scenario in mind.  And when I just thought it couldn't get any worse I got my second round of tonsillitis within a couple of weeks. I think our immune systems were just destroyed. But in the end the antibiotics worked wonders and we were able to go off into our holidays as planned!

We were basically a travelling pharmacy with all our pills and inhalers and whatnot but even being sick is better if you are in a nice place. So we spent first a couple of days in Lisbon, then took the train to Evora in the central Alentejo region, and rounded off the trip with a few days by the beach in Sesimbra, near Lisbon.

 All places were very different but lovely. We were just early enough to be off season so we had the whole beach to ourselves. Ok, the weather was also not exactly beach-friendly but  we're not the kind of people who hang out at the beach the whole day either. We went for a lot of walks, had delicious pasteis de nata and cheap coffee basically every day, hung out in local parks and chatted with elderly locals.

Travelling with baby is definitely different but I still enjoy it a lot. Just spending time with the three of us and escaping the daily grind is so nice! Even if you are still woken up at 6:30 am and you cannot go out and party all night (as if we ever did that), it's a holiday.