Monday morning, you sure were fine


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It’s no secret that I actually like Monday mornings. Particularly ones like this morning where the American International Women’s Club of Cologne (AIWCC) gets together for Stitch ‘n’ Bitch!

There were eight of us this morning. One knitter came early but didn’t stay too long. Another joined us later for a bit of a chat. We had a beautiful daughter who was not just modelling her Mum’s latest fabulous piece of work but also knitted a few rows on a bag. She’s ten. One crafter worked on her lovely cross-stitch sampler which I find quite brave as my efforts in the past have been very frustrating. It’s just so hard to chat and count and cross-stitch all at the same time. Otherwise we were knitting a pair of socks, a jumper, a scarf and a cardigan. The cardigan’s mine: Liesl by Isolda Teague




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This is my Ishbel.

I was never going to make one of these.

There are 12,958 of them on Ravelry.



By chance, last October, I discovered that I could buy a KnitPro wire blocking kit at a yarn shop near my parents. The charming Mei of Be Inspired Fibres announced on her Facebook page that she had a few sets. I was booked to fly to Edinburgh the following week. How serendipitous was that? Mei pointed out they might not fit in my suitcase. I measured my suitcase and she was right. But once I got to Edinburgh I decided it was the perfect excuse for going to say ‘hello’ and to check out the shop anyway. My dad came with me: he was very curious about what I wanted and whether or not they could be transported back to Germany. He  declared he could wrap them up so I could hand them in as an additional piece of luggage. Perfect. Of course that meant I had free suitcase space!

Mei has wonderful yarn that I’ve not found locally in Cologne. I’d already looked at her website but the shop has more. There was some lovely Scottish Shilasdair wool but I wasn’t sure how much I’d need for a jumper (not having a particular pattern in mind) so I decided to be cautious and just buy a shawl’s worth of delectable 4 ply (fingering).

The colours of the Fyberspates Vivacious were all delightful. The yarn is 100% merino and wonderfully soft and squishy. I clutched a skein of Spiced Plum close to my heart and gazed adoringly around the rest of the shop. Mei had several shawls hanging up – one of which I really liked and guessed to be Liz Abinante’s Travelling Woman. Travelling Woman was the fifth pattern I ever added to my favourites on Ravelry. The name appealed for one thing! But I had guessed incorrectly. It was actually Ishbel designed by Ysolde Teague. Yes. That shawl. The one I was never going to knit because there are so many of them.

Mei told me about the pattern. It has clear instructions for adapting the size – both of the plain stocking stitch body and the lace border. A skein of Fyberspates Vivacious would give me a decent-sized shawl. So that was that. Decision made. Shawl knitted. I’m smitten.



Three weeks and three days


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of speed knitting and I finished my Ravello in time to wear it during a conference in Brussels!


My friend and Stitch ‘n’ Bitch co-leader and I were attending a day of the annual FAWCO conference. We’d already met women from the clubs within our region but this was an exciting opportunity to learn more about FAWCO and connect with women from around the globe. As one of the co-leaders for Stitch ‘n’ Bitch at the American International Women’s Club of Cologne, I already have a bit of a reputation for “wearing something knitted” at AIWCC events. So it seemed only natural to be aiming to wear my new Ravello.


At one point, I’d had visions of sewing up the ends on the train but fortunately I was finished before that and even got to give the jumper a bit of a press. There were moments when I actually despaired of finishing. The bottom ribbing was done twice, the cast-off three times.

One of the projects on Ravelry that I really liked had the ribbing in broken rib to avoid pulling in the jumper quite as much as happens with regular ribbing. I liked this idea but casting off was tricky. It looked untidy. I undid it.

I had used Elizabeth Zimmerman’s sewn bind-off on the neck and found it to be a neat edge after my four rows of ribbed neckband. (The pattern has an option for an unfinished edge but this would have left my bony collar-bones exposed!) However, when I tried doing this bind-off at the bottom, it really didn’t match the knit 2, purl 1 ribbing at all.

So then I reknitted the bottom third of the ribbing as regular knit 1, purl 1 ribbing and tried to do a tubular bind-off…very unsuccessfully. So it was back to the internet again to check out other suitable cast-offs.

In the end I ripped back half my ribbed band, reknitted with new yarn and used an adapted version of the Russian bind off from Wendy Johnson’s website. It looked a bit flared out but the edge was very even so I just had to hope for the best. After a damp press on the wrong side it looked fine. I decided to do the sleeves the same way. At least then it would all look ‘meant’.


Ravello-front-2Three weeks and three days after my second cast on (yes, there were hurdles right from the start!) I finished. I have never knitted a jumper this quickly before. I probably shouldn’t ever attempt to do it again either!


A well-travelled pair


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Sock One was born in the International Airport at Kuala Lumpur. Well-travelled2It developed a little in Bangkok Airport before growing up considerably while crossing the Indian ocean and after arriving at its new home in Cologne, Germany. We hit puberty on the A31 heading towards the North Sea. Having been there before, puberty knitting the Sweet tomato Heel in the car with no instructions, was a doddle. Sock One finally reached adulthood back in Cologne.

Well-travelled1Sock Two was born in Cologne and spent its childhood on high-speed ICE trains and in buses and trams. It only got as far as Ludwigshafen, 160 odd miles to the south of Cologne and Kassel, 150 miles to the north east but 250 miles by train! Its development was slow but steady. There were no growing pains and Sock Two  turned out to look a lot like Sock One.

We finally reached maturity yesterday and this well-travelled pair took a car, a tram and a bus journey – on my feet!


Will I or won’t I?


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On Tuesday last week my knitting looked like this:


I cast on this top-down jumper/pullover on Sunday and was raring to go at Stitch ‘n’ Bitch on Monday. But my purl m1 stitches were loose and the increases looked very ugly. So I focussed on being sociable and ripped it all back, knowing I’d get on better at home.

I got to spend the greater part of Saturday afternoon knitting and then on Sunday I briefly  wondered whether, if I knitted really fast, I could wear this in Brussels, mid-March! Now the idea won’t let go of me and I waver between wanting to give it a good go and knowing it won’t happen in a million years… So I’ve been knitting like one possessed.

My KAL socks (Socks with Sarah) have been demoted to the bare minimum: a-round-a-day.  And now there’s just a ‘bit’ of the body still to do before I move onto the sleeves. These will be slower; what with the stripes and shaping. After that I’ll just have to finish off the neck and deal with all the ends. Oh, and block it, of course!

Perhaps I’m in with a chance! What do you think?


 The pattern is Isabelle Kraemer’s ravello and the yarn is Zitron Patina

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