Monday, October 19, 2015

A very Norwegian kulekyse for Gwen

I made the pretty hat and the pretty girl wearing it! Aren't I clever?

In a somewhat surprising, and certainly unprecedented, turn of events I've written two knitting posts in a row! While I don't think Project Project is in any immediate danger of turning into a knitting blog, I did finish the hat I was working on for Gwen and felt happy enough with the result that I wanted to show it off to you. Isn't it cute?

It never ceases to amaze me that this blue-eyed blonde is actually mine.

A friend at the monthly knit night I attend showed me the pattern for the adorable hat she had made, and I immediately knew I had to make one too. It reminded me of the type of hats that little girls used to wear when I was growing up in Norway. And then I realized that the pattern was actually in Norwegian, and it was a done deal!

She devised this little pose all on her own. 

But then I couldn't find the yarn I wanted to make the hat. I knew it had to be something really soft and non-itchy so Gwen would agree to wear it (there is nothing sadder than spending weeks working on a project for someone, only to have them not wear it because it's not comfortable), and I knew it would have to be just the right shade of blue. Something cool and icy and feminine to really make her eyes stand out. So I looked around a little bit locally, but couldn't find the right thing until the kids and I were in Norway this summer. We happened to venture into a small yarn shop, and after a little poking around (and exercising a lot of restraint to not buy up the entire store!) I found just the thing. It is a silk/alpaca blend, and is the softest, most buttery smooth yarn imaginable from Du Store Alpakka. It was a little on the spendy side, but seeing as I only needed one skein and it was perfect (and it was my birthday!), I snapped some up, downloaded the pattern and started knitting it right away. 

From the back. I love that it comes to two little points!

The kulekyse (or bubble bonnet, as it is delightfully called in English) is a fun and pretty quick little project. I'd never tried knitting anything like this bubble pattern before, and it was a little nerve-wracking seeing as it involved letting a stitch drop down four rows before picking it back up and knitting it twisted! But after some trial and error, I figured it out and then it was pretty smooth sailing from then on. In Norwegian, at least, the pattern is quite clear and straightforward in its directions, which I appreciated, especially after the problems I'd had with the last pattern I found online. My only complaint is that they only let you download the pattern a limited amount of times, so even though I've paid for it, I can't print a new copy to replace the very worn and raggedy one I've been using to knit from. Kind of miffing, but not the end of the world.

Gwen didn't especially want to pose for pictures - unless her fairy wings could come too.

Gwen was very interested in the whole knitting process, and was quite eager for me to finish her hat. I showed her the finished result on Sunday morning, when she decided that she had to wear it to church. She was already wearing a dress that my mum had knitted for her, so off she went to church, decked out from head to toe in homemade knitwear. She looked very demure and proper in her little bonnet, and I had to smile at how fancy she obviously felt.

I love how the bonnet frames her face, and I am delighted with how that shade of turquoisey blue really brings out her blue eyes. I also like that she can wear it with a dress for "the more formal toddler occasion" or with jeans and a shirt for every day. And it's not something that every other mom in the neighborhood has bought at Target for their kids - it's always fun to have something a little different.

Also - I ended up buying two skeins of the yarn I used, just to be sure that I had enough (imagine how frustrating it would be to run out of yarn that you bought in another country!), so now I have a whole extra skein and a bit of this gorgeous yarn. What do you think I should make with it?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A sweater vest for Espen

Showing off his new knitwear.

Wonders never cease - I actually knitted something! I sort of unintentionally put away my knitting when Gwen was a baby, and then didn't pick it back up again until earlier this year when I started working on a sweater vest (or pullover as I secretly call it in my relatively English mind) for Espen. Then the weather got too warm for knitwear and life got busy and I hardly picked up a knitting needle all summer long. But recently I've been bitten hard by the knitting bug, and have had a hard time putting down the projects I've cast on. I just want to knit all the time, you guys!

A sassy little man and his sweater.
My first completed knitting project was a sweater vest for Espen. I used this free pattern that I found online (courtesy of Revelry!), and while it wasn't without it's issues along the way, I'm quite happy with the result!

A few notes:

  • As is sometimes the case with free patterns that haven't been professionally tested or edited, there were a couple of typos and unclear instructions that had me stumped. I got a bit frustrated and discouraged a few times, but was generally able to reason my way through it in the end. 
  • I thought when I was starting the pattern that I could probably easily have knitted it in the round, but didn't trust myself to get it right. But the further into the pattern I got, the more obvious it was that even I could have adapted the pattern to be knitted in the round, which would have been both quicker and easier. So I think I need to have a little more faith in my knitting skills!
  • It's a great fit for Espen, but I do wish I'd added an extra inch or so to the length. It'll probably still fit him widthwise in a year, but I suspect it might be too short by then. He's just a long, skinny kid, and I need to remember to adapt my knitting accordingly. 
  •  This was my first time knitting a v-neck, and I struggled! I had a hard time picking up an even amount of stitches on both sides of the center stitch, and keeping my decreases even and in the right place. I wish the pattern had been a little more clear about what exactly I was trying to accomplish, but with a lot of counting and concentration, I got there in the end. 
  • I similarly struggled with picking up the right number of stitches around the sleeves, but I tried and failed enough times that the end result is flawless. I'm seriously happy with how neat and tidy it was in the end. 
  • Because I'm still not an expert knitter, it didn't even occur to me to do a stretchy decrease on the collar, and so it's a bit uncomfortable going over Espen's head when he puts it on and takes it off. Blocking it helped a bit, but I really should have done a looser bind-off, or looked up how to do a stretchy one. Next time!
Having said all of that, though, I'm actually quite delighted with it. It fits Espen really well, it keeps his skinny little body warm, and most of all, he likes it, so I'm counting it as a success - as long as his head doesn't get any bigger! 

And now I'm onto knitting a hat for Gwen! And after that I'm making a baby blanket! And after that, and after and after that!

Cheeky face!