Thursday, July 31, 2008

rebecca lacy sweater

The second of my summer knitting projects has been finished for a while now, but I've been too lazy to photograph it properly. This sweater was quick and fun to knit, and the pattern is very easy to remember.

Pattern: 29 Lacy Rose Sweater, from Rebecca #31 magazine
Yarn: Garnstudio Muskat (100% mercerized cotton, about 5/6 skeins, I think)
Size: the second smallest
Needles: 4mm

A few things:

1. Changes: I made the second smallest size to account for the difference in gauge, since I was using a thinner yarn (8 ply instead of 10 ply) and smaller needles. Apart from that, the only changes were adding length to the ribbing and one more pattern repeat before starting the sleeve increases. The other examples I'd seen on Ravelry were great, but seemed too short to me.

2. Yarn: having used this yarn in 3 projects already (I'm currently working on the Ribs and Lace tank) I'm quite happy with the final result although it has a tendency to split sometimes.

3. Blocking: it did wonders for this project. Trust me, when I finished all the seaming it didn't look so nice and tidy. A quick wash and it all came together. My not so perfect stitches suddenly didn't look so bad anymore...

4. The color: have I mentioned how I love this color ? I love it, it's this deep turquoise that really makes me happy. I have to say, the Muskat comes in beautiful colors.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

fire socks

Can you believe this ? My first pair of socks, DONE !
Yeah, I know, not a big thing for all of you natural born sock knitters out there, but for me it's a milestone. I've been trying to knit up a pair for maybe two years now, so I'm calling this a huge success. The yarn choice probably helped a lot, I'm in love with these colors.

The pattern is a basic stockinette stitch sock, based on Wendy's toe-up sock pattern but with a different cast-on. I used a figure-8 cast-on, short row toe and short row heel. It doesn't get much easier than this, I think. The short row heel turned better than I expected, but I'm tempted to try a different one next time.

Other changes: I dislike pointy toes, so I changed my increases to make it more rounded. And I used magic loop, just because I thought it would be easier to use one circular needle instead of 4 or 5 DPNs. It worked great, actually, so I'm magic-looping all my socks from now on (yes, because I've already started on a second pair ...)

Pattern: Wendy's toe-up sock pattern, with figure-8 cast on.
Yarn: Regia Design Line by Kaffe Fassett, in Landscape Fire (2 skeins)
Needles: 2.5 mm
Notes: Cast on 32 sts, and ended up with 56 in total for a snug fit. Started heel at 6 inches.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Part XIV - The Blue Lagoon

Who ever goes to Iceland and doesn't visit the famous Blue Lagoon ? Yes, it's pretty much a touristy thing, and maybe not the most pleasant of experiences when it's packed full of people, but still it's something not to miss. Most guides suggest that you go there either immediately after arriving or before departing, since it's on the way to the airport. We chose to spend our last night there. For accommodation nearby there's the Northern Light Inn, but even better is the Blue Lagoon Clinic. It is the clinic attached to the Blue Lagoon where they offer several types of skin treatments, but you can also book a room there if they're available. The best part ? They have a private area of the lagoon just for the guests staying there, and it was so much better than the lagoon itself. We tried both, of course, and it was midsummer's night too, so luckily for us the lagoon had longer opening hours that day.

And so we didn't see night for over a week, but the sunsets were definitely spectacular.

And that's it, our trip to Iceland finished and blogged about. Thanks for all the comments on the traveling posts, I'm glad I have inspired some of you to visit this beautiful country. It is definitely worth it, trust me. As for us, we hope to go back one day soon, it's just one of those places ...

More photos here

Monday, July 28, 2008

Part XIII - Reykjavik again

... and back in Reykjavik again. From Stykkisholmur we made our way back into the capital for a last day of shopping before coming back. We stopped in Mosfellsbaer first, just outside of Reykjavik, to visit the Alafoss outlet store. For me to buy yarn, of course. I literally lost my head there, and brought back a full bag (and tax free, too), but I'll show you that later since it deserves a post of its own.

It was about lunch time when we got in Reykjavik so we went to buy tickets for the Puffin Express tour at the harbour and then to have lunch at the famous Saegreifinn (Seabaron) restaurant, owned by a retired fisherman named Kjartan Halldorsson. We had one of our best meals there (and at very affordable prices too). They serve the best lobster soup ever, and delicious grilled seafood/fish dishes. I had scallops, a particular favorite of mine and which I never seem to find in Portugal.

After such a hearty meal, it was time for some strolling around the main shopping streets and some last minute shopping. Prices are generally expensive but here's my top picks:

Aurum: beautiful items in silver and white gold jewellery. I couldn't resist a pair of earrings from here.
66º North: Iceland's favorite outdoor clothing shop. They sell really nice stuff here. Kind of pricey but very good bargains on sale. I ended up getting a wind proof fleece jacket from the airport shop (which is already tax free, by the way)
Marimekko: the famous Finnish brand had a shop in Reykjavik and I had to take a peek (didn't get any of their fabrics though)
Kolaportið Flea Market: this indoor flea market near the harbour is a must if you're looking for a bargain. I didn't have much time to explore it but got a hand knit icelandic lopi vest anyway, from two nice old ladies who had a stall there.
Handknitting Association of Iceland: for all hand knit items and such. I think they also sell yarn here.

For souvenirs and such we liked the big tourist shop near the start of Laugavegur or any of the big bookstores in this street.

For our last afternoon we took the Puffin Express tour, which in one hour takes you to Akurey and Lundey, two small puffin islands near Reykajvik. I love these cute birds so the tour was a must for me.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Part XII - Glaumbaer, Vantsnes, Stykkisholmur

The next morning was sunny and bright again, and we'd have another long drive ahead of us, as we were heading towards Reykjavik and staying in the Snæfellsnes peninsula. We didn't have enough time to explore this part of Iceland properly, or go to the West Fjords (an even more remote and isolated area than the rest of Iceland) but I'm sure we'll be back again soon.


Our first stop was the nearby folk museum of Glaumbaer. There are several folk museums of this kind in Iceland, but the most popular ones seem to be this one and the one in Skogar. The main attraction are the turf houses, old farm buildings from the 19th century. We didn't go inside the museum itself, but explored the grounds and the church nearby.

Next we went in search of the Viðmýri church, which is one of the six so-called turf churches that are still standing in Iceland. It was a bit hard to find, but eventually we made it (and we met this cuddly kitty, who seemed to be a resident there)

The rest of the morning was spent driving around the Vatnsnes Peninsula. I really wanted to check some of the seal colonies that were supposedly located here. We passed by Osar and then Hindisvik, where indeed there were seals (although not visible at first, so we were quite frustrated. But see one of the photos below ... there, do you see them ?).

The F road that goes around the peninsula is slow going, and it takes considerably longer than we had planned. For lunch we stopped in Hvammstangi where there's a nice café that serves quick meals all day long.

The original plan had been to explore the Snæfellsnes peninsula a bit during the afternoon, but by the time we arrived in Stykkisholmur we were quite tired from driving and so decided to stay in town for the rest of the day.

We checked into Hotel Breidafjordur, a simple and basic hotel on the main road, and went out to explore the rest of the village. It was very quiet here, and the village is not that big so it probably took us a couple of hours to go around it.

For dinner we went to the amazing Narfeyrarstofa, which was located across the road from our hotel. We had the most wonderful meal there, including this divine dessert ...

After dinner we went for a short walk, all the way to the big church on the other side. We girls were tired by then so we went back to the hotel. But the guys still had the energy for an after dinner hike, so they decided to go and climb up some mountains nearby. Of course, the scenery was beautiful as always ...

Hotel Breidafjordur

Athalgata 3, Stykkisholmur

Road 75 to Glaumbaer, and 752 to Vidmyri church
Ring road then 716 and 711 around Vatnsnes Peninsula
Ring road then 54, 56 and 58 to Stykkisholmur

More photos here