Thursday, 24 October 2019

About knitting

For the last few months I have been spending most of my spare time knitting. Who knows, maybe my move to the mountains with breathtaking landscapes opened a new channel of inspiration for this craft. Maybe it’s incoming winter. But I can’t put my needles down. It reminds me of another time of my life when I knitted a lot, my student years, during which every single time before exams I suddenly felt an urge to knit. While others were revising, I was engrossed in knitting and I did not stop until my garment was finished. As a result, each year I ended up with two knitted items for both winter and summer terms. My university friends, with whom I am still in touch, still joke about this injudicious habit of mine. 

But it was yet another reason for the uplift of my knitting mojo: I became curious about writing knitting patterns. Checking my Instagram roll I noticed a big trend in the knitting community: uncomplicated sweaters in stockinette or reverse stockinette stitch. Some designers add extra volume to the sleeve cap, others intricate bobbles or ribbing. And mohair, is huge this winter too. If I could create a simple pattern according to my own measurements, I would then be able to modify it and make a lot of variations. Without further ado, I challenged myself with the task of learning how to write knitting patterns

As you can imagine, the Internet offers countless free online resources on the subject. After reading a few blogs and watching a lot of YouTube knitting tutorials (mainly in Russian language due to abondance of tutorials), I was able to knit a raglan sweater that fits into my idea of a perfect basic sweater. Nothing fancy, just knit and purl. The exercise taught me how to  swatch and calculate the amount of yarn, to grade a pattern and to write my own charts. At this stage I am at the “design”stage of another sweater and the only obstacle to start knitting is… a sweater that I have to finish for a friend.

I’ll write more about this process in the next post, as well as include pictures of the sweater, but I cannot leave without showing some of my older knitting projects. A couple of weeks ago, I posted some photos of the mentioned above finished knitted garments on my Instagram, so this is pretty much a duplication of the same content.

The Ranga sweater was born in Iceland. When I visited this country in May 2015, I immediately fell in love with lopapeysa. Everybody wore it: young, old, men, women, and believe me it was not just for marketing. With so much inspiration around I decided to knit one myself. At that time tourism to Iceland was only emerging and if bloggers extensively wrote about travel destinations in general, it was not so easy to find info about craft stores in Reykjavik. Somebody suggested to check out A4: office-supply, school stuff, gifts and arts shop, which I did on my second day in Iceland. A sales assistant in the craft section helped me pick both the yarn and the patterns. She was so enthusiastic about this project that instead of making me buy the whole knitting magazine, she photocopied and gave me the pattern, which also exists on Ravelry.

I knitted the cardigan from bottom up. Then I cut in the centre and had the zipper inserted. The yarn feels quite rough to the skin but I like wearing the cardigan, although I never put it with a short-sleeved garments.

Knitted in the end of 2016, the Rowe cardigan by Michel Wang became my favourite winter home wear. This softest merino roving yarn was purchased at Avril Kyoto a few years earlier, when I still lived in Japan. Sadly this yarn stretches too much and with time the elbows became baggy and lost their original shape. In spite of that I wear the cardigan a lot: the yarn is so soft that it’s like wearing a cloud!

Lastly, the Bright Sweater by Junko Okamoto. Since I finished it last year, it became a staple garment thanks to its beautiful design and the colour. Even though the pattern calls for the sport weight I decided to use Einband (the lace weight yarn) due to its lightness and interesting structure. If you are curious to know more details about needle size and yarn, you can find this on my Ravelry page.

What about you? Have you started knitting you winter wear? And what do you think about all these current  knitting trends? Do you like them? Have you ever tried to design your own knitwear?

Friday, 30 August 2019

How much is too much?

Last month I moved again. After a 14-month-adventure in Berlin trying to establish my yoga teaching practice, working for a start-up and teaching online marketing in a graduate school, I decided to embark on yet another adventure: I moved to a little town in the South of Germany to follow my heart. And yet another packing and unpacking, bringing up the same question: why do I need all of this?

2m3 containing 20 boxes does not seem like a lot but half of them carry my hobby, which I actively practiced until 2017: a sewing machine, an overlocker, metres of fabric, kilograms of sewing patterns, enumerable pieces of haberdashery, you name it. Donation of four full bags of clothes (mostly hand-made) did not alleviate my feeling of heaviness. And since my current stop in this little German town is definitely not the last, the totality of my possessions makes me scared.

Traveling light-weight in 2017 made me confirm and experience the philosophy that owning things did not contribute to my well-being and happiness. Therefore the return to “real” life, after living for eight months with a 12-kg bag, was quite an experience. In Berlin I rented a tiny room and used only a limited amount of my belongings. And even when most of the boxes were stored in a cellar, just thinking about them made me anxious because in reality I did not need all that I owned. Why did I continue carrying them with me across the globe?

Separating from clothes that I did not wear was easier than I thought. It became water-clear to me that I sewed most of them without giving a thought about whether I needed or even liked them. Did I make them because I was a maker? Or because I saw a beautiful dress on Instagram? Or because I myself was a blogger and needed to write about something? All the reasons below and many more... But the question of practicality of each garment, their role in my life and wardrobe was rarely rarely on my agenda. I amassed, accumulated, kept so many garments without wearing them for years! Suddenly they took such a huge space both physical and emotional. How could I separate with something that I made with my hands? Never! And slowly, without even noticing, I became their slave.

At the time I was making things none of the questions above sounded wrong to me: I made things because I could and wanted to. But then I came to the point where I could not accept carrying with me all this load of unhappiness any longer.

Everything I said may sound like a cliché and in trend with all the minimalist and zero-waste movements but I am not a minimalist neither a zero-waste militant. I try to be consequent. I try to reduce my waste but I don’t want to live minimalist. What I want to is to lead a practical life, surrounded by objects that are of use and at the same time aesthetically pleasing. Most importantly, things need to make me happy to own them, not the other way around.

Can I achieve this? I don’t know yet. Can you?

Tuesday, 4 June 2019


Hi dear long-time readers and fellow sewists (I believe that's the term which was coined by the community, otherwise correct me if I am wrong).

I published my last post on this blog 16 months ago. Since then, I finished my self-discovery travels, moved to Berlin, tried to run a business with little success, got a job in a start-up and left it after a few month. Currently I am looking for a new job again but also trying to figure out how to use my skills to earn a living in a more creative and satisfactory way. Most likely, I will leave Berlin and Germany too. Overall, the road I took was uneven and bumpy, even if full of sunlight, supportive friends and amazing encounters but all in all it was worth quitting my comfortable lifestyle of a corporate exec and diving into real life. 

Over these last two years my perspective on how I live, what I give and receive, and obviously what I sew and wear have changed. With this in mind I decided to give my blog a new life, posting not only sewing-related topics but also discussing things which I consider interesting to share, like my favourite books or my travel experiences. 

If you want to ask me a question don't be shy, I will be happy to answer.