Knitting From the North

If you've spent any time with me in winter, there is a very good chance you've seen me bundled in my favourite arrow scarf from Hilary Grant. (Said scarf also occasionally spends it's evenings serving as a tiny wee cat bed for a certain spoiled brat of a cat). I've been following Hilary's work for years now, and am so happy that she has adapted some of her machine-knitting patterns for hand knits! 

I had been dying to get my paws on Knitting From the North, and I was kindly contacted by Roost Books to provide a review. Since receiving a copy, I find myself just flipping through the pages in spare moments admiring the photography, dreaming up colour schemes, and imagining myself on holidays in the Scottish Highlands.

Now, whenever commercial or machine-knit patterns get translated for hand-knitters, I feel like some hesitation is well justified before diving in. I mean, does everyone remember the Fred Perry disaster from a few years back? Thankfully, this book avoids most of the potential traps and provides patterns for a range of skill levels, from a ribbed toque to basic colourwork and some double knitting - all techniques this cold-climate dweller appreciates. 

The aesthetics of this book are just so perfect and ticks all my boxes: good Shetland wool, timeless designs, and stunning landscapes. The pattern photos capture the designs but also create a strong sense of place. It's been years since I've been in the north of Scotland but so many of the landscapes feel so familiar (especially the picture of sheep above)! Hilary has such a strong brand and she managed to put together a book that perfectly captures her vibe. 

There are definitely a couple things that I wish were different though: First, because I am wholly cheap I always like looking at actual yardage requirements rather than number of balls. Especially when working on multiple smaller projects, it would be nice to have slightly more accurate requirements to work off of. Second, and I think this comes from translating from machine to hand, I wish the circle scarf patterns were written to be knit in the round and steeked rather than flat. It would be easy enough to adapt (and I think I will), but it seems much less fussy than wrong-side colourwork. 

The patterns that have landed in my immediate mental queue are the Wave Scarf and Arrow Hat. The colours used in the book are classic and right up my alley, but I've come up with a couple tweaks that would make the winter accessories of my dreams:

Like I mentioned above, I would definitely do this in the round and then steeked flat. I don't know if that makes me lazy or clever, but I choose to think it's the latter. I really can't wait to get some christmas knits off my needles so I can cast on at least one of these patterns on my holiday break. 

If you can get a hold of this book, I would recommend it not only for the patterns but as a source of inspiration. I'll admit, my knitting mojo has been slightly absent for the last few weeks, but I still flip through this book almost every day. I can't wait to see more and more interpretations of these patterns as they get knit up! Also, make sure to follow Hilary on Instagram - her stories of life on Orkney will make you want to up and move!  

Standard disclosure that I received a review copy of Knitting from the North however all opinions are my own. Thanks so much to Roost for the opportunity to take a look inside this book!

From Knitting from the North by Hilary Grant, © 2016 by Hilary Grant.  Photographs by Caro Weiss, © 2016 by Caro Weiss. Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO.

In which I knit a mostly-black lopapeysa in the heat of summer

Back in October, when James and I booked tickets to Iceland (!!), my first priority obviously fell to picking the perfect sweater. Given that our trip is in the summer, and I didn't want to do a full classic chunky lopapeysa, Ysolda's Strokkur came out on top. After all, this has been in my library and queue for at least a year or two at this point!

(On the left, picture from Ysolda, on the right from Tolt)

(On the left, picture from Ysolda, on the right from Tolt)

When I was putting together some colour combos, I just couldn't get a light/dark/glacier blue out of my head, owing completely to the stunning Moon Pulls sweater and Moon Sprites hat by Dianna Walla. (There is a reason so many of the Moon Pulls projects are in the original colourway. Perfection!) When it came time to pick up yarn, however, charcoal was backordered at the supplier and I wound up with true black as a main colour, with white and glacier blue as contrasts. Conveniently, someone on Ravelry has already done this combo and I'm confident it will look great!

So here I am, 14 days until we go, and I have exactly 1 body knit, with a very real possibility of running short of yarn. Not to mention that it is currently a million degrees and knitting with lopi (much less black lopi) is a very poor life choice. Who would have thought a pile of black wool on your lap would be uncomfortable when it is 26C in your house? Not past me, I guess. 

With that, I'm going to pour myself a fresh cider and get back to it! (Also, if you have been to Iceland recently and have any tips, favourite spots in Reykjavik or along the south coast, let me know! It would be greatly appreciated!)



Baby's First Yarn Club

In a moment of weakness and self-indulgence, last December I signed up for my first yarn club. I've always been interested in clubs, but I'm so picky about colour and texture that it never seemed worth the risk. After seeing a year's worth of shawls coming from Ysolda's first club, I couldn't resist the temptation and I signed up for 2016. I mean, I have trusted her patterns since I knit most of an Arisaig way back in 2006, so what could go wrong? The first instalment arrived a little over a month ago, so I am banking on this not spoiling anything.. 


The first club yarn is a beautiful BFL laceweight in a really lovely hunter/emerald green from Triskelion. I'm usually not into these cooler greens, but this project has been matching my outfits all the time, so I feel like that's a good sign. 


The pattern I'm doing is a full-on lace and cabled scarf, and while it isn't too tricky, I will admit that cabling with laceweight yarn does require concentration. I screwed up a cable cross early on, but I'm not going to worry about it. After all, where is the fun in a perfect project.... right? I'm hoping I can finish this by the next instalment in May, but I've had a serious case of startitis lately and am feeling a bit knit-scattered. There just aren't enough hours in the day to knit everything I want to!