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Accepted into Textile/Art College to study KNITTING!

I am so excited to write that I have accepted a place to study knitting for a year at a fantastic Textile/Design/Art college here in Stockholm!!!  I will be full time student of knitting!!! –  Knitting as a form of artistic expression, design, techniques, form, Swedish textile history, spinning/colouring yarn, and finally a large examination project that will be shown as part of an textile/art exhibition! They have their own gallery on site.  I can barely believe the words I am typing!

The resignation letters for my two part-time teaching jobs are in and I will continue working as a teacher until June 12th.  Schools finish a lot earlier in Sweden than my native UK.  Then, on 24th August I begin a very exciting chapter at Handarbetets Vänner Skola!  They made a video of an open day which gives you an idea of the location and atmosphere even if you don’t understand the Swedish narration.  And on that note, as all my education will be in Swedish I hope to improve my language skills along the way.

The school is situated in Stockholm in a beautifully historic house with airy and light studios with expert teachers.  It is situated in the lovely area of Djurgården just opposite the famous Skansen.  There is lots of inspiration nearby with the museums and cultural centres and pleasant surroundings to walk around and be inspired in between the hours and hours of knitting.  Talk about a dream come true!

The course is summarised in Swedish here: http://www.hv-textil.se/vara-verksamheter/hv-skola/utbildningar/textilhantverkstickning-basar/

The academic year looks something like this:

800 hours over 40 weeks:

Formlära   (form/design) 160 hours
Stickning   (knitting) 464 hours
Textila material/Spinning/Färgning   (textiles, spinning and colouring yarn) 48 hours
Textilhistoria   (textile history) 28 hours
Enskilt projekt   (individual project) 100 hours
Summa timmar   (total hours) 800 hours

I submitted my portfolio (shown in the last post: http://garnharmoni.com/2015/05/07/portfolio-stickningsgladje/) and a heartfelt letter on my motivation to dedicate a year to knitting at an advanced level.  I was honest about the fact that I have long-term health issues and that one area of interest would be to investigate further the health benefits of knitting and handicrafts.  I already researched and wrote an extensive essay on this (as part of my Swedish language studies) and I am seeing updates all the time about the benefits of knitting to promoting well-being and good health.

The very kind teacher has already put my mind at ease as we have talked about how we can work together to give me the best chance to grow and develop as a knitter and designer with an awareness of the rest breaks I may need in between classes to manage my CFS/ME (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.)  The course is full time so every day is 09.00- 16.00 but there is already a sense of flexibility and understanding and working creatively in a craft I so enjoy will be energy-giving and a tour around the school gave a real sense of calm and reflection.

Here and now, after months of a bad luck healthwise and a relapse that I am still fighting to come out of, I feel excited to take up the challenge but also a relief that from day one I have been able to be open about my situation.  This is in contrast with the feeling of just trying to struggle on and battle in relative silence at work, trying to hide my condition from colleagues and students in the challenging career that is teaching.

A lot of people ask me what will doing this course lead to… in other words what is the point in terms of work and progressing career wise.  I do have ideas on that front.  But my main focus is on improving my health over the summer break after only a few more weeks to get through at work.  And then build on that recovery slowly and surely. After that, I want to enjoy the knitting course for what it is: an amazing opportunity to develop this art form and what happens next will be something at the back of my mind for now and will come forward when the time is right.

How lucky I feel right now to be offered one of only eight places at this historical and prestigious school!  I hope to share my learning along the way and do a better job of keeping Garnharmoni updated to spread the knitting word!

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Portfolio/ Stickningsglädje.

I have been putting together a portfolio of my knitting and crochet work and I have come to the conclusion that a) I have been more productive than I realised and b) I have a lot of photographic evidence to support my theory of yarn obsession!   So at the risk of a collage overload, I thought I would share these reflections of knitting/crochet moments.

I have made translations in the photo captions as I tried to present my portfolio or “portfölj” in Swedish since I live here permanently I really ought to know my knitting or “stickning” terminology! I was most proud at forming a word by guesswork and finding that it does exist: “stickningsglädje.” The Swedish language is full of compound words (sometimes there are rather long words that are tricky to say.)  The plus side is that words are put together and you can really say what you mean in one go: “sticknings” = “knitting’s” + “glädje” = “happiness.” :)  Happiness through knitting.  (The closest to “ä” is like “eh” or like “yeah” without the y, the “j” is soft so it sounds like: “stickningsgleehdya” – kind of!)

I hope you enjoy them and wish you all “stickningsglädje” from a rather sunny Stockholm!

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Garnharmoni update at last – Mosaic Knitting

Hello all!

It has been a ridiculously long time since the last post and, before I age any further, (birthday coming on Monday -gulp), I thought I’d better write a yarn-related article on my poor, neglected blog.  I have had a rough time of things health wise and I am now signed off work for a couple of weeks.  It gives me more time at least to finally put virtual pen to paper at least…

The mistress of mosaic is Barbara Walker and I have been diligently going through her charts, thinking about how to incorporate this intricate – and very useful – technique into garments of my own.  I came up with the idea of knitting a few swatch blocks of different designs, just on straight needles back and forth, and then finishing with a small rib section, then joining the whole thing by sewing the ends together.  The result: a rather lovely headband that ended up on a rather lovely head.  Not mine as it turned out, but on Nadia’s, one very kind lady at my local cafe who took her tired customer and friend under her wing yesterday and allowed her to sit quietly by the window to knit over too many cups of coffee.  She was so taken by my headband that she tried it on and then we decided from now on, it really had to be hers!  Her equally kind husband, Ibbe, insisted on driving me home after they closed shop and they both kept throwing free goodies in my bag as we stepped out blinking into the Stockholm sunshine towards the car.

There is a feature on mosaic knitting: http://knitty.com/ISSUEsummer03/FEATslipstitch.html and I recommend looking up anything by Barbara Walker on this topic.

It is a new twist to colour knitting that I am finding really interesting and handy.  As a seasoned knitter of fair isle/multi-stranded knitting I am used to following complex charts and twisting behind the work as I go. With this technique only one colour strand is in play on each two row run along the pattern, so there is no need to keep lose ends running and twisting behind the work.  It does affect what patterns will work though.  The colour that is not the “live” yarn for that row is simply a slip stich and for that to work, the row below has to have the right colour. Luckily my not so mathematical brain has not had to construct the charts from scratch but I can take those charts and incorporate these lovely designs into works of my own imagination. Such as the headband.  And such as the dark blue with white-grey stripe item also shown on the photos.  Don’t actually know what it will be yet, but that is half the fun! Also the texture is really nice under the fingers with the garter stitch ridges creating an effect, especially when alternating the colours, every other stitch to make the small dots.  These indentations and ridges and the softness of the yarn all play their part as much as the visual effect.

My aforementioned – not mathematical but pretty tired – brain did manage to work out the error on chart #44 in Walker’s book and with a little adjustment the magic mosaic square turned out well, the symmetrical square shown in dark blue with white-grey striped contrast (yarn is Ragg Soft, Norwegian.)

I do have various WIPs on the go which might reflect my unfocused state, quite far from the A1 square or the percentage of 100.  I am riding out the ups and downs as best I can.  Around numerous medical appointments, I am taking time to rest and recuperate with sleep and yarn in equal measure.  In my better moments I get creative… or is it that I get creative that I have my better moments?  I’ll decide after an afternoon nap.

Happy yarn creations one and all!

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Garnharmoni: 2014 in review/Happy New Year!

Here comes a rather helpful summary of Garnharmoni during 2014. It serves as a reminder to try to keep more up to date with knitting and crochet posts. it also gives me a timely occasion to thank all my followers and to those folk who have popped by now and again.  I appreciate all the lovely comments and notes of encouragement!

Here is to a wonderful and craft-filled 2015! Happy New Year/ Gott Nytt År!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,800 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 47 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Yarn bombing cheer!

yarn bomb

Here is a quick share of a story from the Beeb:

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-essex-30327928

Knitters cheering up the gloomy grey days in my native England.

Maybe I should try a yarn bomb campaign here in extra grey Stockholm?  The weather people keep reminding us how little sunlight we’ve had this year (the worst on record in ages) and without snow (not all bad) things remain dark.  More yarn.  Let us yarn bomb, or simply knit, and be merry!

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2014 in Inspiration and Reflections

 

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Mosaic Madness!

On Monday, on my way to swimming, I popped off for a coffee first.  Opposite my seat there was a small gap and through it I could just make out a magazine shop opposite.  And through that little gap, what did I see?  A large rack devoted to knitting, crochet and crafting magazines!  What luck!

I leafed through a few magazines and found “Knitscene” the most interesting as it had a chapter on a technique I’d never seen before: mosaic.  Now, it is Saturday morning and, in between working, playing music and training, I have managed to get into the techniques and have become quite addicted!

On Friday, I popped into Eken’s Garn which is situated dangerously close to where I have swimming/ physiotherapy training.  It is pretty hard to resist going past this cosy shop full of colourful delights.  I met a lady, Maria, dressed in a lovely hand-made colourful cardigan which immediately gave herself away as an excellent crafter as well as seller of yarn delights.  We found by talking 50/50 English and Swedish that we could find the right yarn for a larger project in the magazine.  The suggested colour was teal blue on grey but, at Maria’s suggestion, I went for a similar blue hue contrasting with a mustard yellow.  I also went for rather yummy alpaca yarn (Alpakka Ull by Sandes Garn) and bought some splendid “Luxus fur die Hände” German “Addi” circular needles, size 4.5mm.  We took the chance – as fellow yarn obsessives – to exchange website information – she also runs knitting courses and has a Ravelry page.

Unlike stranded knitting, mosaic knitting involves using two tones but you knit one colour and slip stitch the other from the row below.  On the wrong side, you just purl the colour you were on and continue slipping those slipped from before, making sure the yarn is behind the work. It means you change colour every two rows and that means one yarn strand stays at the start each time, while one is worked and stitches slipped to follow the pattern.  As there were 269 stitches I thought I might be lazy and try garter stitch, i.e. knitting every row without a purl return, but the result was not as effective.  I undid my first rows and started again back into stocking stitch.

The first swatch I made turned out to be the ideal starting point for making a trombone case marker for my dear friend, Ann, who plays in my orchestra, where I play clarinet.  She and another musician have exactly the same type of case and sometimes get confused so I suggested I could make her a little knitted something to mark it out as hers.  The small swatch I made to learn the technique was 2 times through the chart, but the second time reversing the colours (i.e. main colour became contrast and vice versa), then sewed up the sides and put in a bit of stuffing, then a small crochet edge and handle plus crochet “button” to fix it to the case.

The blue-grey mix mosaic is a smaller piece which I may make into a little purse.  While I make up my mind I still have the hundreds of stitches to keep my going on the scarf project!

These are the pros and cons that I have found so far using this mosaic technique:

Pros:
Works well on straight knitting (useful as I only really do colour stranded knitting on the round),

It looks effective and the patterns can be intricate.

As you only work with one yarn at a time, the strands become less tangled than when doing double stranded knitting which requires constant weaving behind the work.

Potentially the fabric is not so dense as double stranded knitting without the weaving behind the work.

Quick to learn, for a relatively experienced knitter.

It inspires: both the knitter – and those around her, going by nice comments at work and on Facebook. :)

A great starting point for more design ideas and creativity.

Requires concentration – a challenge.

It is highly addictive!

Cons:

It is highly addictive!

Requires concentration – not easy to talk at the same time.

For a less experienced knitter, the chart might be confusing at first.

The slip stitches can stretch between rows making it harder to keep the tension and to keep it even.

The fabric tends to curl a lot (hence handsome Swedish hand in photo).

One of the magazine patterns was called a “Ravenna Cowl” and when I mentioned it to aforementioned handsome (and clever) Swede he immediately pointed me to a website showing pictures of the Ravenna mosaics in Italy.  I have included a picture here but it is well worth looking online for more images for inspiration.

Happy mosaic madness!

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The Best Knitted Christmas Decorations

Originally posted on :

Christmas is very firmly just around the corner and there is no point ignoring it. And if you give in gracefully, it is possible to make the most beautiful decorations for your home and presents – and there is still time!

For those who, like me, are perhaps not the best prepared for the festivities, here is a list of what I consider to be the Best Christmas Decorations I found (with patterns). Hope you enjoy them.

1. Pint-Sized Pines
These little beauties are a wonderful way to decorate tops of bottles given as presents – a thoughtful and quick make to reduce your left-over yarn stash AND no need for wrapping paper.

pintsizedpines2. Knitters’ Christmas Baubles
I can’t think of one knitter who wouldn’t be delighted with these types of Christmas baubles. Makes me smile from ear to ear! Anyone out there who has some spare time to make…

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Posted by on December 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
 
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