Monday, October 26, 2009

paper dolls

Paper dolls

I know I've said this before about other knits, but truly this is now my favorite sweater. I'm sure I'll have a hard time beating this, because it just happens to be perfect for me in so many ways.

First of all, it's gray, brown and dark red, probably three of the colors I use the most so this blends right into my wardrobe (my inspiration comes from this wonderful version, I just changed the dark gray for brown since it was more appealing to me that way). Then it's this pattern, of which I loved every detail. I mean, it has paper dolls in it, how could I not like it ? And the yarns I used were very, very nice, especially after blocking when they bloomed to perfection.

It was the first time for me for a lot of the techniques used here. It was my first colorwork project, my first time with corrugated ribbing (love that detail) and even my first time with i-cord cast-on. I was a bit daunted by the colorwork and the many mistakes that could happen, but in the end it turned out not that bad. I stranded the yarns when they were more than 7 stitches long and tried really hard to keep my tension even but most likely I didn't. So before blocking it seemed like the doll design was a bit crunched and tight in some areas but afterwards it was almost flat. It's a miracle what a good soak and pin drying can do.


The only intentional change was to add some hair to the dolls, as I'd seen on previous versions on Ravelry. But my main change was actually not planned. I'm a bad knitter in the sense that I hate swatching and therefore rarely do it. Besides, it seems that even when I do swatch the actual knitted piece always turns out at a slightly different gauge from the swatch itself so it's actually not a big help (I knit more loosely on the round, or when I'm distracted, for example). So I only swatch when I want to make sure of a certain texture, or fabric weight or drape.

That said, my usual size is 32'' for bust, so that's what I invariably cast on for. This time it was no exception, even when I discovered I only had 3.25 mm needles and not the 3 mm the pattern asks for. After the ribbing I knitted a couple of rounds of the stockinette portion and quickly realized it would probably turn out too large if I didn't make any changes. So I switched to 2.75 mm needles and added a couple more decreases and less spacing between them.

So I don't swatch but I always try my garments on at every stage possible to make sure they're going to be exactly as I want them. About 2/3 into the body I saw that even with those changes the bust and yoke would come out too large, so decided to make less increases in order to match the 30'' size instead, which is what I also cast on for the sleeves. In the end, as I said, it turned out perfect.

Pattern: Paper dolls, by Kate Davies
Yarn: Rowan Yorkshire Tweed 4 Ply (6 skeins in Grey mist), Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop 4 ply (0.5 skein in pomegranate and 1 skein in brown)
Needles: 2.75 mm, 3.25 mm, 3.5 mm (for cast-on)
Size: 30/32

It seems, though, that I'm not the only one who is enjoying this sweater ...

Paper dolls

Paper dolls

Paper dolls

Paper dolls

Friday, October 23, 2009

trakai - day 6

Lithuania, being the farthest from our departure point, was the country where we spent less time. I knew we wouldn't be able to include the Curonian Spit in our itinerary and go check out the famous sand dunes, so we settled for a stop in Vilnius and squeezed in a brief visit to Trakai.

Undeniably postcard pretty and romantic, this castle and its surroundings are located about 20 km from Vilnius and are quite a popular tourist destination. Luckily for us we got there sometime before sunset so the crowds had gone home already and we could visit at our leisure.

The village itself is also very quaint and colorful.

We walked towards the castle across the waterfront, stopping at a few souvenir stalls along the way. In one of them we spotted a few kittens and their lovely owner ...

Inside, the castle is very well preserved and we were able to see several exhibitions regarding the history of Trakai.

It was almost time for dinner when we left but we decided to go back to Vilnius first and then decide where to eat. It's a pity I never got to taste the famous kibinai pastries, which means we'll just have to come back someday.

More photos here

hill of crosses - day 6

From Riga we drove to Vilnius, which is about a 3 or 4 hours journey on a direct route. I had planned, however, to make a detour near Siauliai, so it took us most of the day to get there. Above is a photo of our lunch that day - I think it's cepelinai, only of course they were fried. The filling was made of seasonal wild mushrooms, very, very yummy.

The reason for that detour was to visit the Hill of Crosses (Kryzių Kalnas), located about 12 km N of Siauliai. It's sort of a national pilgrimage site, containing hundreds of thousands of crosses of all sizes. During World War II the site was repeatedly destroyed but the crosses would always be replaced by the local people and pilgrims. It's certainly an impressive site and quite worth the detour we had to make.

Hill of crosses

Later for tea we stopped at this really nice coffee place by the road and lake side, a perfect spot to rest for a while. I wish I'd taken note of its exact location, because when we returned from Vilnius we couldn't find it anymore, but I think it's somewhere on the main road between Panevėžys and Vilnius.

More photos here

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

riga - day 5 - victorian era fashion exhibit

When we passed by the Museum of Decorative Arts (located in the oldest surviving stone building in Riga) I noticed this poster at the entrance door, squealed with delight and decided to go in, really hoping it hadn't closed for the day yet.

Luckily we still had time for a visit and there were actually quite a few people arriving at that time and later on. What can I say ? I love vintage fashion exhibits and this one was just perfect. I probably wooo'd and haaaaa'd over every dress on display and was ecstatic that they would let us take photos.

The exhibit contains about 50 costumes and over 100 accessories (women's and men's) from the period between 1830 - 1900 and are part of the vast collection of Alexandre Vassiliev. More details of the exhibition here.

The blue one above was one of my favorites (by the House of Worth, if I'm not mistaken).

These floral ones were quite, quite lovely ... just look at the details.

And on our way out, I noticed this nice display of hand knitted items by the exit door. Just perfect !

More photos from the exhibit here