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  • Spring Sweater Tee

     

    The other day at work Rachel mentioned that she saw the new Madewell Spring Collection and there was a sweater tee that looked very similar to the Nuuk sweater I knit  from Laine Magazine Issue 1.  We pulled the Madewell website up on the computer to take a look and sure enough, their short-sleeve sweater tee looked very much like the Nuuk but is made with a cotton/nylon blend, I knit mine in Shelter (100% USA wool) in the color Snowbound but could have used a wool-cotton blend like Cestari Ash Lawn Collection or Cestari Old Dominion Collection.  




    Photo from Madewell

    I really like the way Madewell styled their sweater tee.  I have been layering my Nuuk over button-up shirts but could easily transition it to warmer spring weather by wearing it alone with a jean jacket like Madewell did, so many options!




    Shannon Cook will be starting her Tops, Tanks & Tees KAL soon and I think the Nuuk would make a good contender!

  • Stock Your Sock Drawer : Dorie Lysaght

    Today we get to hear from an amazing and prolific knitter, Dorie Lysaght.   Dorie is our Stitch Circle leader on Tuesday and Saturday mornings from 10:30-12:30 and she also teaches here at Tolt (she has a sock mending class coming up!).  Dorie, as you can see from the pictures below, has been busy stocking her sock drawer!    Thank you, Dorie, for answering our questions.


     





    1.  Do you consider yourself a "sock knitter"?   Why do you like to knit socks?
    Definitely! According to my Ravelry project page I have knit at least 105 pairs of socks. Most of that is because I always have a sock project in my purse so I can work on something portable at any time. I especially enjoy knitting socks while visiting local breweries and pubs with my husband. I like to knit socks because they are so practical, beautiful, and comfortable. They also make great gifts. Nothing feels quite as wonderful as a handknit sock.

    2.  When did you knit your first pair of socks?   Was it harder or easier than you thought?
    I knit my first pair in March 2008 when I was going through some serious pain issues that prevented me from working on larger projects. Even though I decided to start with two-at-a-time, I found sock knitting to be much easier than I thought it would be. Once you've knit a simple sock and understand sock construction, you can knit almost any sock.

    3. Are you a DPN or Magic Loop knitter and why?   Has it always been that way? If not when and why did you make the switch?
    I have always used Magic Loop because I started with the two-at-a-time method. I no longer knit socks two-at-a-time very often because it makes them less portable but I still love Magic Loop. For me it makes them easier to carry around and I can knit while walking without having to worry about losing a DPN. This is especially important on the treadmill.

    4. Do you have a favorite pattern or heel and toe construction?
    My favorite sock pattern has to be Cookie A's Monkey. I've knit at least 19 pairs over the years. Most of those were gifts but I love the way they fit on my feet too. My favorite heel construction is the heel flap because I have high arches and other heels don't work well on my feet. For a long time I thought that I could not wear an afterthought heel until I took a class from Lynn DT Hershberger on her Crystal Heel method at Sock Summit 2011 and it changed my life. I've learned that it's worth it to take classes to learn new methods.

    5.  Is there a favorite sock yarn at Tolt that you have worked with or want to work with?
    Hazel Knits Artisan Sock is my favorite sock yarn. It's soft and springy, the colors are gorgeous, and it wears really well. I've knit a lot of socks in this yarn over the years and despite how hard my husband and I are on socks, I rarely have to mend a sock made in Artisan Sock. Actually I think the only one I had to repair was because I knit it at too loose a gauge so the pattern would fit my husband's foot. Lesson learned!

    6.  Do you have any tips, tricks or advice you can give to other sock knitters new or experienced?
    If you struggle with any part of sock knitting, look for an alternative method. There are so many options out there that you might just find a way to knit socks that will make your heart sing. My perfect example is that I hate finishing the toes of socks with Kitchener Stitch so I came up with my own method that works much better for me. I've since found out that it's similar to Lucy Neatby's Toe Chimney so if you dislike Kitchener as well, look up her technique!
    I'd also highly recommend that everybody learn how to mend socks. It's not hard, there are a lot of classes available and it is worth it to save your favorite pairs. The skills are also helpful to repair all of your knits.

    Be sure to tag us on Instagram at #toltknits and #stockyoursockdrawer !
  • Bunny and Beth Go to Iceland : Beth Newfeld

     Our Beth Newfeld visits Iceland and shares her experience with us.   Thank you, Beth!  You can follow Beth on Instagram @msheartfelt and @schoolofmake.

     

    My experience with a traditional Lopi sweater began back in the 80s when I was going to university in Nova Scotia. The Lopi sweater was all the rage on campus (along with hand-made feather earrings) and no wardrobe was complete without one.

     

    Growing up, my mom (Bunny) was always working with her hands–knitting baby garments, stitching beautiful petit point jewelry, threading yarn for a needlepoint. Fast forward many years, I'm now a knitter, living in Seattle and working part-time at Tolt. When my mom expressed an interest in visiting Iceland about the same time that she retired (at age 78, yeah mom) it seemed natural to celebrate together in Iceland.

     

    Our arrival on a drizzly early morning was made all that much more interesting by the sight of me climbing partway through a basement window to fetch a key from a lockbox only to discover later in the day that we were in fact in the wrong apartment (but that's a story for another day). From the moment the skies lightened, we were both intrigued and fascinated by this small island. Our adventures began with a walking tour of Reykjavik starting at the beautiful Hallgrimskirkja and exploring the incredible Einar Jonson Sculpture Park.

     

    On our tour, we were introduced to the sense of humor found in Iceland--a common joke: "if you are lost in an Icelandic forest, just stand up". In the city, we marveled at the beautiful glass-covered Harpa Concert Hall (try to find yourself in the reflection), lobster soup, the Sun Voyager Sculpture and amazing "kaffi" (coffee). We explored woolly shops and even tasted the famous Icelandic hotdog. Reykjavik is an incredibly beautiful, walkable city, with street art on every corner and wool in every shop. I loved that the coffee houses encouraged public knitting by providing a "community" knitting basket. I was amazed that stories of babies in prams outside coffee shops were true. I was charmed by the "cats of Iceland" and met a man who said he often wakes up with three cats in his bed–none of which are his.

     

    Of course you can't visit Iceland without exploring its geological features, and we were thrilled by the geysers and waterfalls. Here's a photo of the geyser Strokkur erupting (knitters will be familiar with Ysolda Teague's pattern by the same name), and mom and I enjoying a laugh at Gullfoss. 

     

    Nearing the end of our trip, we visited the Blue Lagoon and basked in its warm waters so rich in minerals like silica and sulfur. We explored geothermal fields in the setting sun and were blessed to see Icelandic horses and sheep.

     

    Iceland, I'll miss your beautiful skies and brightly painted houses, your cats and your cafes, your tiny cars and narrow streets, quirky politics and knitted goodies. As they say in Iceland "takk takk" or thank you for the memories. And, although luggage space was limited, I did treat myself to two perfect skeins of Gilitrutt created by Helen Magnusson, The Icelandic Knitter.

     

     

     

     

  • Skógafjall Sweater by Kathy Cadigan

    Today we welcome our dear friend, Kathy Cadigan, to our blog.   Kathy is a knitter, spinner, and photographer.  Kathy is a big part of our Tolt community and we just love her!
    You can follow Kathy on Instagram at @kathycad and on her website.  Kathy was also the photographer for our Farm to Needle book.

    All photos by Kathy Cadigan


    When I first began thinking of color choices for Skógafjall, Dianna Walla’s beautiful design for Tolt Icelandic Wool Month, I originally had every intention of going a completely different direction from the earth tones I normally gravitate towards… Perhaps I would do a turquoise blue and silver landscape or better yet, a rainbow colored landscape! But even after many wonderful visits to Tolt for vibrant color acquistion, I surrendered to my color comfort zone and decided on yoke colors from my earthbound stash.


    I did not plan to modify the yoke pattern, it happened sort of organically. In order to help visualize and figure out color placement, I made a few quick line drawings with pen and watercolor. Since color was my main concern, I kept my sweater drawing simple, not really to scale, not very detailed. At some point during the process, a few little “black agates” inserted themselves at the base of the yoke. The more I peered at the drawings, the more I really liked seeing the overall yoke pattern without the vertical lines that delineate tree trunks in the original motif. I had no idea how it would all translate to knitting but I decided to go for it. Between the two pictures, I loved seeing the tonality moving upwards, traveling from light to dark.

     Knitting the body and sleeves gave me plenty of “stockinette time” to ponder and dream about the significance of this project to me. I wanted to explore why it was that the downward pointing angles of my pattern motif appealed to my visual sense so much. A google search gave me a few bits of information and I also came across a book that shed some light: Signs and Symbols, Their Design and Meaning by Andrian Frutiger.



    With regard to graphic symbolism, downward pointing angles and triangles have been used to signify the concept of female, (upward pointing signifies male.) A downward angle can also depict a chalice or vessel. I really like that, particularly the vessel implication. And the same nesting vessels in my yoke have also been found as a signature mark on objects dating from the Late Stone Age.

    When I excitedly related all of these little revelations to a friend and exclaimed, “this is my Womyn Sweater!” we both had to chuckle. A casual observer would probably say, “Wow, okay. How’d you get from point A to point B? It’s just a sweater!” But to knitters, a sweater project presents us with among other things, a unique opportunity to connect to a greater tradition in a creative way… and the more we come to understand about the world outside of ourselves, the more we know and understand about ourselves.





    I love that Anna and Tolt’s collaboration with Dianna gave me the opportunity to translate Icelandic and Scandinavian knitting influences (see Dianna’s blog post on her design inspiration for Skógafjall) into a personal, regional application. I now have a lopapeysa that suits me practically and aesthetically here in the Pacific Northwest. So grounded am I when I think of knitting the beauty of this region, I don’t see how my Skogafjall could have been knit in any other color palette than what constantly inspires me here.

    Yesterday, I took a walk out to the marsh preserve in Carnation to make some photos of my finished project. I really appreciate Dianna’s thoughtful design and construction details… the graceful short rows incorporated into the body and neckline and the longer body length makes for an extremely comfortable, beautiful sweater--- keeps my back covered too when I’m executing “photo-yoga” moves! ;)
     
    Thank you Anna and Dianna. I enjoyed knitting every stitch and will enjoy wearing this sweater for many years to come.

     

     

     

  • My Skógafjall Color Inspiration




    I fell in love Dianna Walla's Skógafjall sweater design as soon as I saw it. The pattern was not released yet, and still in the test kitting phase, when I started picking colors for my version of the sweater.  

    My husband and I visited Iceland in March two years ago. In March, Iceland is not the lush green place that you see in all the photos, it's winter and the land is either white with snow or black lava rock with muted golden lichen or grass.  Still absolutely beautiful in it's winter glory.  This was the Iceland I saw, and the color inspiration behind my Skógafjall. 













    For the main body of my sweater I chose a charcoal Léttlopi, color 0005, and colors 9426 and 0054 for my contrast colors. Dianna added something very helpful to this pattern, along side the motif chart she added a  little chart indicating which color was held dominate in each row.  If your not familiar with color dominance I highly recommend reading her blog post about it.   

    I cast on for my Skógafjall in mid February and was finished a couple weeks later. A great thing about most Lopapeysas, is that they knit up quickly (and even faster if you have a broken leg and can't do much else but knit). It's been a cold and wet winter here in western Washington so my newly finished Skógafjall has already gotten a lot of wear.

    We love to see your finished projects and if your working on your own Skógafjall we would like to see the color you chose, be sure to tag us on Instagram with #toltknits and #tolticelandicwoolmonth .

     

     

     

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