Friday, January 25, 2008

the perfect sweater

I think I might have just finished knitting my perfect sweater.

What do you think ? Doesn't it look amazing ? And it's such an easy pattern, just four knitted squares sewn together. It's all about the yarn, really. Now I know what everyone is talking about when they rave about Noro. It is somewhat expensive (well, it is japanese handspun yarn) but totally worth it. The colors are just gorgeous, and after it's washed it does soften up a lot. I can actually use it against the skin now, which means it's really, really soft. I already have plans to make another one, maybe in tones of red this time.

Pattern: Klaralund, from the Noro - Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton Collection Book Number 2
Yarn: Noro Kureyon, color 156 (6 skeins)
Needles: 5 mm
Size: smallest

Needless to say, I did make a few changes ... first the yarn - I used Kureyon instead of Silk Garden, but that's because I loved the colors on this Kureyon and their yardage and weight is pretty much the same. I think that Silk Garden probably has a better drape, but I've also read that it doesn't become so soft. I'm using SG on the Sparreholm, so I can later confirm if that's true or not.

I made a few decreases and increases on the sides, to give it some shape at the waistline, and although I totally improvised that, it turned out better than I expected. Also, I didn't make the garter stitch rib at the top of the body pieces.

Finally, the sleeves are much shorter than on the original pattern, but that's because I didn't have enough yarn (the pattern calls for 9 skeins, and I only had 6). I think I actually prefer it this way, but for my next one I might go with the full length sleeve version.

Totally unrelated, but I just had to show you these beautiful fabrics I got yesterday. They were a gift from Sean and Nanako, owners of Barcelona's Nunoya. They are currently in Lisbon for a short visit and we finally managed to meet up last night. Guys, I hope you had a great time and I'm not to blame if you become addicted to those egg tarts).
These fabrics and some other new ones will be available at their online shop soon.

So I'm off till the end of the month. Next week will be all about snow and hopefully some great skiing. Have a great week !

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

one row scarf

Another scarf, I hear you asking ? Yes, indeed ... I couldn't resist this yarn in such fabulous colors. To be honest, I compulsively collect scarves and hats (and lately mittens) so it's a good thing I can actually knit them. There will be a pair of mittens in this color as well, sometime later on.

The pattern is so easy, just one row as the name says (Stephanie is a genius). Plus, it's reversible, it doesn't curl, and it looks so good.

Pattern: One row scarf, by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Yarn: Terra, color 03 (3 skeins)
Needles: 8 mm (cast on of 26 sts)

Monday, January 21, 2008

a (small) shop update

I'm so-o-o-o sorry, but the weekend just flew by and I didn't finish any of the items I had planned to. The weather was just too nice, so we had another try at inline skating (I'm getting better), and yesterday we went hiking in Sintra. Actually, this whole month has been flying by since New Year's, can't believe we're getting to the end of January already ... I had so many plans and things I meant to do, but I guess other things just got in the way. I've been sewing less and knitting more, as you might have noticed, mainly because I find knitting is more relaxing these days. So the plan to have a big shop update this week kind of failed, but I decided to have a small update nonetheless. Just some regular bookcovers for now, the pencil sleeves and fairytale pocket bags will come next, in a couple of weeks, I promise. I'm also waiting on some new fabrics for that, some treats from kitty-craft

Next week we'll be going on our ski trip, and although the weather hasn't been very obliging, I'm still certain we'll have a great time. We are experimenting a new resort this year (La Plagne was fully booked already) so if any of you has any recommendations about Flaine, I'd love to hear them. We are staying at the new UCPA Flaine Lindars, and so far I've only read good reviews about it.

(The bookcovers are available here)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

koolhas + fetching set

hello there !

My koolhas is finished.

And because I had yarn to spare, I also made myself a pair of Fetchings.

The yarn (Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran) is amazingly soft and the color is perfect (it matches my ski jacket).

Pattern: Koolhas, by Jared Flood (available from KnittingDaily)
Yarn: DB Cashmerino Aran (1.5 skeins)
Needles: 4.5 and 5 mm
Notes: I only did the 4 repeat version, and the hat turned out long enough (I like my hats to cover my ears entirely).

Pattern: Fetching
Yarn: DB Cashmerino Aran (1 skein)
Needles: 4 mm
Notes: I did one extra repeat of the cabling at the end, since I like my mittens to be long. Also, they didn't turn out as snug as I usually like them, so next time I'd probably cast on less one cable repeat (5 sts) than the pattern calls for

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


It seems I've been yarn shopping lately ... most probably not, but I wonder if I can use all this up until summer ?

Anyway, some beautiful Noro Kureyon (shade 156, I think) for a Klaralund (already started, and progressing well). It's a bit rough when I'm knitting it, but everyone says it will soften up after washing, so let's see ...

And ... well ... I haven't even finished my first pair of socks yet, but there's no way I could resist this: Landscape Fire, by Kaffe Kassett for Regia. What can I say ? The colors are beautiful.

And for more socks: Hummingbird by Artesano (in Pheasant)

This one is hand painted and came from Uruguay ... four skeins of merino bulky in wine red, from Planned for a Chérie amour later on, if I don't change my mind

That looked like a mess, didn't it ? But last Sunday during our crafts meeting the girls helped me out, and we used my (new) swifter and yarn winder to turn all that into this:

It looks so much prettier now. I think I'll just leave them on my desk for the time being so I can look at them once in a while ... back later this week with (hopefully) some more finished items

Monday, January 14, 2008

counterpane pullover

done, it's finally done .. my first sweater ! This was fast, it only took me two months, and the result is actually decent. Remember I brought this yarn from Hong Kong ? Well, I should've been more cautious and purchased an extra skein, because I used up everything and had to make a shorter collar and body length. Apart from that, and the finishing part (I enjoy seaming, but hate, hate weaving in ends !) it was quite an easy knit. The front and back lace panels are quite straightforward, and the rest is just plain garter stitch.

And like always, I did make a few modifications to suit me better:

* because the yarn is merino and somewhat bulky, and garter stitch tends to stretch a lot, this pattern is best knit with negative ease. Besides, the model photo seemed a bit too loose for me anyway, so I knitted the whole thing in 6mm (addi turbo circular) needles instead of 6.5 (still, the yarn was barely enough)

* the sleeves seemed really huge to me, so I BO 30 sts instead of the 23 on the body sides, and changed the sleeves to be somewhat more flattering (with slight increases at the end)

Here's the back detail ...

And front ...

Pattern: Counterpane pullover, by Pam Allen (from Interweave Knits Fall 07)
Size: smallest
Yarn: Madil Merino Mix 100, color 652 (6 skeins)
Needles: 6mm
Ravelry link here

Friday, January 11, 2008


Since we had three days we decided to also visit Cordoba, a bit further south, and halfway on the road to Granada. It's a bigger place than Toledo, and home to The mezquita, a huge mosque that was later converted into a catholic cathedral.

The old centre of Cordoba is also quite a labyrinth, and I had booked a hotel close to the Mezquita. I guess we were lucky to find it on our third try only, because it's very easy to get lost in that area (well, quite fun too). The hotel was lovely, I very much recommend it. And you can leave your car parked and just explore the city on foot.

Contrary to the fog and clouds we had got in Toledo, Cordoba was all about sunshine and the most amazing winter light. It is my favorite time of the year for taking photos, everything is so clear and crisp.

Our first visit the next morning was the mezquita. A useful tip we learnt quite by chance: if you arrive before 10:00 you can enter for free (except for tours and large gorups) and it's actually the best time because you don't get all the crowds. The dome was being renovated, but even with the works being done the mezquita is quite impressive.

After that we went to the nearby Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos. You can climb up one of the towers for a nice view of the city, and the interior is worth a quick visit (especially the mosaics room) but it's the gardens that catch your eye.

Finally, before lunch and heading back home we stopped by the ruins of Madinat al-Zhara, located about 5km outside the city. It's an amazing site, and still there's so much to explore there (only about 10 percent of the site has been excavated).

We really enjoyed Toledo, but Cordoba took my breath away. It's now on my top list of favourite places in Spain, along with Granada, Segovia, Salamanca, Barcelona and Picos de Europa.

(By the way, thanks to everyone who recommended Aranjuez for this trip, I had planned to go but it was a bit out of the way and we decided to spend more time in Cordoba this time. It's on my list for next time though)

More photos here


Ouch, this week passed by so quickly I hardly had the time to post. Nothing crafty to talk about, I haven't sewn much but I still have a couple of orders to finish and a shop update is planned for later this month. I plan to have some bookcovers, and also a bunch of pencil sleeves (thanks to everyone who e-mailed me about them, by the way, I hope I can satisfy all your requests), and maybe a couple of fairytale pocket bags. A few people have also emailed me about softies, and that will be the next thing, I promise. I've been knitting a lot though, so I'll have a few new things to show you next week.

But I finally got round to sort through last month's trip to Toledo and Córdoba, and post some of the pictures here. Taking short road trips is something we really enjoy, especially during the winter when there aren't many tourists around. The drive to Toledo takes a little over 6 hours but with lunch break and other stops we got there just before sunset.

We stayed at the lovely Hostal del Cardenal, which is located by the wall and just outside one of the old city gates (and close to the elevators). I strongly recommend staying here, especially because driving inside old Toledo is a bit crazy, with all the narrow and one way streets and very few parking zones. The hotel is old but charming and comfortable (loved that entrance and courtyard) and the restaurant reputed to be one of the best in town (we had dinner there and it was quite good)

And besides, Toledo is great for just walking around and get lost in the old city. Which is really not that big and easily covered in a day.

The main attraction is, of course, the huge Cathedral. It's worth paying the ticket and visiting the interior, there's a lot to see.

Also we meant to visit the Alcazar, but unfortunately it was on renovation, so we strolled around the city instead and ended up at the Zocodover square, a great place for resting and take a cup of coffee (or tea, in my case).

There are several things I didn't know about Toledo ...

... since medieval times it's renowned by the production of swords (and nowadays you can spot a sword/souvenir shop in almost every corner)

... it's home to a lot of El Greco paintings (we didn't visit the museum but inside the cathedral you can see a few of his paintings)

... and it's famous for its marzipan (of which we brought several boxes to give as gifts, from the traditional Confitería Santo Tomé).

It's also known for its damascene ware (black steel worked with gold thread) and just before we left we visited an artisans' workshop by chance (inside one of the convents, can't remember which one). The detail of each piece is amazing, and we watched them for the longest time. Though not my style, I couldn't help but appreciate the beautiful work and their patience.