The tie’s the limit: super quick knit!

Swede sings bass in a choir and he spent much of yesterday, Sunday, rehearsing a piece of fairly epic proportion by J.S. Bach.  He came back home for a quick lunch break and said he didn’t realise that for the concert at 6pm the men were supposed to wear a lilac-coloured tie. This is a man who hates ties and owns maybe one, but not one in this particular hue.

In a throwaway statement he asked if I could knit one.

Well, of course I could.  I just happened to have the very colour in Drops Paris cotton.  You see – it is good to have this yarn stash taking up space in the apartment!  As usual Ravelry came to the rescue.  With a quick pattern search I found this:  (Note: on Ravelry my username is Clarinutty.)

I started the project in the afternoon at around 1.30 and was done by around 4.30.  There was almost smoke coming out of my size 4mm wooden needles!

Quick dash to the church, tie handover and good luck kiss.  Then the dedication really began: this turned out to be a two-hour show on rock hard pews.  I did bring a cushion but, after a painful while, I was forced to stand at the back.  In fact, my tricky back is still twinging in protest from sitting there as long as I did.  Still, I was proud of my Swede’s singing efforts and it was a very nice acoustic to hear a full choir with orchestra.  There was quite a lot of recetative – the kind of story-telling with lots of words in an operatic style that is half speaking, half singing.  No surprise this was in German, it being by Bach and all, but my tired brain was not doing well at following the Swedish translation in the rather hefty programme of small text…

As a musician myself – I studied music at degree level and was a music teacher in England – I am always keen to hear and support live music, and to support my other half, of course.  I have a concert coming up soon so I have practised clarinet today.  I have also been dilligent in my Swedish studies and some other chores in between bed rest.  Today has been a tough day energy and illness-wise so I fear there won’t be much time for knitting today.  Lets hope I have more quality crafting and time during the Easter break and that I can get over today’s setback to go onwards and upwards in recovery.



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Spring and a spring in my step…


Spring is really in the air in Stockholm.  When the sunshine comes here in Sweden you will see the natives standing at the edge of any train platform facing sunward, head up, arms outstreched, eyes closed, mouths smiling in gratitude of the warmth and light.  It is also fairly standard for the apartments to have a balcony which has been of great help to me as for some weeks I have been signed off sick from work. Long story short: acute bronchitis complicated by asthma hit me hard as I have the chronic illness CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) so my recovery has been slow and difficult.

But, as the title suggests, there IS a spring in my step.  Without having to stop at every chair, table or tree to knock on lots of wood, I can say that I am definitely on the turn, an improvement and hope of recovery after a rather bleak time not feeling well, sleep deprived not to mention frustrated, bored, isolated, anxious for missing work, missing orchestra, and I was a noisy, coughing, germ-monster for my poor, dear Swede to put up with.  At this point, he deserves a mention for best sambo award (sambo = live-in partner.)  He recently came home from a trip to his beloved Skåne (southern Sweden) with some presents to cheer me up: a cute owl bag – perfect for my knitting bits and pieces – and a decorative Easter bunny.  AND today we went on my first outing in ages and on the way he asked a lady on the train if she knew of any knitting shops in the area (unprompted by me!) Then he set about finding this shop for me and patiently waiting for me to look around and happily took down the yarn I couldn’t reach from the top shelves.  Did I mention he was tall, dark and handsome? :)

The key that unlocked my stuck position in terms of my health was actually getting a painful crick in my neck.  I was so uncomfortable and fed up that I looked online to find a masseuse to fix it.  Luckily I went on last-minute booking site and found a treatment that was highly discounted and, as it turns out, was actually with a magician called Haishan.  Her official job title is more on the lines of “Chinise medicinal masseuse” but magician she is nonetheless and is based here:

I came out of her treatment room feeling alive and with an energy that I can’t remember feeling in ages!  I wondered first if this elation was purely the relief of SURVIVING this intense session.  Pain, oh the pain. But, no it is something more than this and I have already booked the next session…

Haishan located the (many) problem areas in my body through acupressure points which, in my case, were problematic in connection to my lungs and spleen.  The latter has effect on my immune system and the former is no surprise given my recent chest infection and breathing difficulties.  The prolongued period of illness has really taken a toll on my condition and I was ready to get some help and there was an immediate self-confidence from Haishan that she could do a lot to make me feel better.

There was an element of embracing the feeling of being totally powerless, flat on my tummy, eyes squinting through the hole in the headrest.  There was also quite a lot of “lost in translation” moments as my understanding of biology in Swedish is not great and it is even worse when deciphering a Chinese accent whilst in various degrees of agony.   This woman was pressing various unmentionable areas of my body until I could take no more and could only plead for mercy.   She got over this by not accepting this feeble English effort and telling me not to be “ololigt” (“oroligt” in Swedish is worried) whilst firmly holding the acupressure point and giving me a countdown to indicate when the agony would be over: “åtta, sju, sex…” (eight, seven, six…”)  It was relentless as Haishan found then unblocked one trouble spot, to my sigh of relief, only to find something worse somewhere else and to describe what she could see and feel as a “traffic jam.”  She had to unblock this “traffic” jam to release my energy.

Haishan’s Chinese-Swedish struggled to reach my tired brain, pain shooting from one point to the next.

“Det är bala början” (I realise it is “bara början” in Swedish) – “This is just the beginning,” she was telling me.  “Det bli bla” – (“bla?” oh: “bra” she means.) “Everything is going to be ok,” she was reassuring me.

In fairness to Haishan most of my answers to her were neither in English or Swedish but rather a sort of “awwwwwwaahhhhhhhh” or “shhhhhhhiiiiiii…..” – you can guess the rest.

So, I am looking forward to Wednesday for the next session.   Now school is out on Easter break so I am just seeing myself as free from work and trying to break away from the state of being “sjukskriven” (signed off sick) as my recovery improves.  It won’t happen overnight and I do predict some ups and downs but I really think this therapy will help me in a holistic approach, across my whole body.

And, of course, I do have the ultimate therapy on hand: knitting!

Happy Easter!  Glad Påsk!


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Knitting Funnies


Laughter is the best medicine. :)

Originally posted on :

Because it’s already been one Hell of a week. Because I’m sure you need a laugh too. Because all my projects are almost done and I’m lacking in motivation to make myself finish them. Here are some knitting funnies to brighten your day.



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Posted by on April 3, 2014 in Uncategorized


Knitty – Spring/Summer 2014. Free online magazine.

Knitty - Spring/Summer 2014.  Free online magazine.

Free online magazine available here:

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Posted by on April 3, 2014 in Uncategorized





April Fool

The one thing “floating” around the April Fool cyberspace circuit that would have been so cool to have in reality! :)

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Posted by on April 1, 2014 in Uncategorized



No stopping this crochet addict, almost 104 years old!

Nice yarn-related story in the news today.  Crafting keeps you going it seems!

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Posted by on March 31, 2014 in crochet



Custom Canadian Style

Another happy Garnharmoni customer!

Marie has very kindly sent me a picture wearing her brand new, custom design hat in yummy Nepal yarn.  As a Canadian living in Sweden she wanted a reminder of home so asked me if I could design a hat to incorporate the symbolic maple leaves.  Marie had the neat idea of having a white motif on red background for a reverse twist of the usual colour scheme.

Making sure I found a picture with the right number of points on the leaf, I charted a design with a few extra bits in between to make life easier in the double-stranded knitting technique.  As a rule, it is a lot harder to weave the ends behind the work when there are a lot of stitches in a row of the same colour.  Adding a few white decorations in an otherwise large background area of red made for easier weaving between repeats of the pattern; practicality as much as design.  Likewise, the white motif itself was tricky because there were a lot of white stitches in a row with the red carried carefully behind the work, being extra careful not to pull too tight on the tension.

This type of design might well warrant a go at intarsia knitting.  This technique is used for “block” motif patterns like these leaves and it means you can avoid the usual weave behind the back of double-stranded knitting.  However, to be honest, I haven’t yet learned that way of knitting!

After I had carefully woven behind the large leaves of the hat I had a go at doing the same on the much smaller handwarmers.  It didn’t work. With much fewer stitches it was getting far too tight and the woven ends on the inside were tending to catch on the hand while slipping it on and off.  I had to come up with another solution.   After a fair bit of trial and error, I moved away from contrast colour knitting and instead made a relief pattern.  I just varied between stocking and garter stitche to create an inverted image of the leaf on each handwarmer.  Using the same white edging detail as the hat brought the two garments together as a designed pair.  It does require a closer look at the handwarmers to notice the subtle detail of the leaf highlighted by stitch instead of contrast colour.  This did practically make for a much better knit and much more ease to slip on and off the garment over the wrist.  I can report – with relief (haha!) – that Marie is happy with the results.

Marie is up in Jämtland where the spring weather is a little slower to catch up than down here in Stockholm.  Hopefully there will be a freshness in the air just a little while longer so she can cosy up in her extra soft hat, showing off her national pride, holding her toasty warm head high!

Sometimes a project goes really smoothly.   Sometimes not. This was more the latter, but that is where challenge and fun lies.  I still have much to learn in the art of knitting and design, but I love to make customised items.  It is so rewarding to see my humble offerings being enjoyed and appreciated as one of a kind.


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Posted by on March 30, 2014 in knitting, Uncategorized


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