Wednesday, July 27, 2011

One Mania after another

I'm subject to what my sister Laura calls "manias". Although some may argue, I don't mean these kinds of manias:
1. Psychiatry A manifestation of bipolar disorder, characterized by profuse and rapidly changing ideas, exaggerated sexuality, gaiety, or irritability, and decreased sleep.
2. Violent abnormal behavior. See Synonyms at insanity.
It's this one, and it describes me perfectly:
1. An excessively intense enthusiasm, interest, or desire; a craze.
One interesting characteristic of these manias is that they come and go. What I call a "true" mania will last a year or more. And then it passes. Then I have another mania, or three, or five, and then the first mania returns. I have, in my life, had manias for my job, or for a person, for a TV show or a book. But my core manias have always been for making things.

I definitely move in and out of the cooking mania all the time. Except for thinking about hot weather recipes, I'm actually pretty much OUT of my cooking mania at the moment.

Quilt making manias are a problem because they typically don't last long enough to complete a whole quilt. My mom is convinced I never finish anything. What I actually do is simply put the quilt away until the mania returns.

For the last 9 months or so, I have been in the grip of an intense knitting mania. It started to fade about three weeks ago and is being replaced by a quilt making mania. Nevertheless, I forced myself to finish my latest project, and I finished it yesterday. Today, I plan to clean out my bag and pick up my harvest cathedral windows quilt. I'm also planning on working on a design for a new quilt (actually, I have two I'm thinking about). See how it goes?

But before I move on, I wanted to celebrate my knitting mania by sharing the fruits of my latest craze.

Here is an Aran shawl in a medium weight, inexpensive wool. I made this for myself. I find sweaters too hot, so a shawl works perfectly for me.

I found the cable work on this quite challenging because the celtic knot pattern has to be counted in every repetition.

Normally with cable work, you set the pattern in the first row, and just follow the knitting. This pattern was too big and complex to be able to do that. This took about 6 weeks. I started it right after Christmas and finished at the end of February.

Although I love knitting cables, I adore colour work. It's fortunate that Jeff adores sweaters in Fairisle and Norwegian pattern work - a partnership made in heaven - else I would knit sweaters that no-one would ever wear.

Here is a blue fair isle that I worked on during my Wednesday after school knitting club. This is from an Alice Starmore pattern and is a wool, alpaca and silk blend. I used hand-dyed yarns, which you can especially notice in the dark blue, to soften the design and give it some depth beyond the simple geometric.  The picture doesn't do the colours credit.

Here is some detail on the colour work. Although this pattern looks complex, it follows the fairisle rule that no row contains more than two colours. This sweater uses traditional fairisle construction: it was knitted in one piece. No sewing! This sweater knit up quite quickly.

Finally, here is a true Norwegian Ski Sweater. Every Olympics, the Dale of Norway wool company designs commemorative team sweaters for the Norwegian Olympic team (they also design sweaters for various international ski teams, including Canada). The sweaters are stunning, and use traditional Norwegian sweater construction.

I was on Ravelry one day and saw a picture of this sweater. Talk about a mania! It is the 1994 Dale Lillehammer Olympic sweater. Since 1994 is 16 years ago, it wasn't exactly easy to track down the pattern. But I persisted. The internet is a wonderful thing. It ends up that Dale will give you the pattern - but only as part of a kit made from their wool. After much searching, I found a vendor in California that would put the kit together for me and ship the whole deal to me here in Toronto. They are called Velona Needlecraft and their service was superb. I also talked to the guy at Romni Wool here in Toronto. I was able to fill him in on the whole process of how to get the Dale archival patterns and he promised that next time, he would get them for me. So even better.

Here are some details from the sweater. Each medallion is a figure from Norse mythology.

Odin is a principal member of the  Norse pantheon and is associated with war, battle, victory and death, but also wisdommagicpoetryprophecy, and the hunt. Odin has many sons, the most famous of whom is Thor.

 Freyja s a goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death. Freyja is the owner of the necklace Brísingamen, rides a chariot driven by two cats, owns the boar Hildisvíni, possesses a cloak of falcon feathers.

 Huginn and MuninnIn Norse mythologyHuginn (from Old Norse "thought") and Muninn (Old Norse "memory"or "mind") are a pair of ravens that fly all over the world, and bring the god Odin information. 

I also love the neckband.

This is an extremely warm sweater - the kind you wear outside instead of a winter coat. I was thrilled to finish it last night. I made Jeff try it on, and given the temp was 26, he found it very hot, but liked it anyway.

And I'm completely over knitting for the present, although I do have a lingering desire to make gloves with beaded wrist bands, and to knit a lace wedding ring shawl. No doubt I'll come back to both these projects when quilt-making runs its course.


  1. I love the shawl - it's so simple and elegant. And such a gorgeous colour! The sweaters are great too. I am in awe that you did a Dale of Norway sweater - I love those; I aspire to make one some day. Yours turned out superbly! Thanks for the inspiration. :)


  2. I'd just like to add that now I'm thinking of buying the pattern for the Whistler Dale of Norway sweater. It is probably beyond my skill-level right now, but I found just the pattern for US$10. How can that in my stash be bad? The Yarn Harlot knit it as her 2010 Knitting Olympics project, and I loved it. You might just be an enabler!


  3. Whistler is gorgeous! But don't discount your skills. The sweater looks way harder than it actually is. You just do one row at a time: each row has only two colors. I'm sure you could do it!

  4. What a beautiful sweater, I just showed my husband and he asked me to write to you to see if you would share the pattern, we both live on SSI I only buy yarn at walmart, can't afford the prices at the yarn stores. So if at all possible we appreciate any help.

    1. Did you make the pattern up for the shawl? If not, where can I purchase the pattern? my email is

  5. I would also be interested in the patter for your beautiful shawl. Janine

  6. I would love to get a copy of the pattern for the shawl as well

  7. Very nice shawl !
    where could I find a pattern to knit it ?
    (I'm sorry, I'm French and I have to improve my English !)

  8. What beautiful works of art! I really love them all :-) I would also love to know where to get the pattern for the Aran shawl. I know many other people have asked you... It's lovely to hear you have periodic manias and do come back to previous ones. I'm still learning to finish one project at a time!