Christianna Knits

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We all know baby knits are the cutest knits.  Tiny things are cute no matter what.  Which is why I’m so grateful any time a friend decides to have a wee one; it means I get to knit adorable, little things.

Minty

Pattern: Little Baby Sweater by Purl Soho (ravelry)

Yarn: Rowan Wool Cotton 4-ply in 491 & 494

My friend Mary just had her third baby, her first girl!  So I whipped up a sweet little stripey, spring sweater.  I love the smart construction and contemporary look of this pattern.  It’s Elizabeth Zimmerman meets Saint James.  

In terms of yarn, the Wool Cotton 4-ply was a perfect choice.  The colors are lovely, it’s super soft and of course washable.  I was really drawn to the color combo of the spring green and the soft teal.  The process of choosing buttons was unexpectedly tricky, but I love the peachy, pale orange I ended up with.  It’s really sweet, but feels fresh.

I hope it keeps Mary’s little one cozy this spring!

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Here it is, the final installment of my Belgium guide, on my time in Antwerp.

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Antwerp is a very design oriented city, and has an amazing reputation for fashion.  Antwerp is so different from Brussels, the city is Dutch speaking, and has a more Northern European feel.  It’s very cool, and I wish I’d had more time there.  Just as I was really getting my bearings it was time to go.

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Julija’s Shop, the first yarn store I actually managed to make it to (Kaleidescope in Brussels was closed because the owner was ill).  This shop is totally adorable, they carry yarn, fabric and notions.  Yarn lines include: La Drougerie, Malabrigo, and Blue Sky Alpacas.

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FotoMuseum, where I caught the incredible Charles Freger show “Wilder Mann”.  Splurged and bought the exhibition book because I couldn’t face the possibility that I might never see this photographs again.

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MAS, the relatively new Museum ann de Stroom, built on reclaimed dockland in Antwerp’s port.  This museum, built to house the vast collections of the City of Antwerp, definitely takes the cake for best use of new media and interactive curation.

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Ra Kitchen, cafe/restaurant attached to Ra, well known avant-garde apparel shop and exhibition space.

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Kapetein Zeppos, relaxed neighborhood bar/restaurant inspired by 1960s Belgian TV character.

All in all, it was an amazing trip.  Belgium is a great country to visit, and all the spots I stayed were well worth exploring.  Hopefully, someday I’ll make it back.

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Here’s part two of my little Belgium Guide, on my visit to Gent.

GENT

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Gent is a university town about 40 minutes from Brussels on the train.  Like better known Bruges, it’s situated around a series of canals and filled with charming medieval architecture.  The young population gives the place a lively feel, and the surrounding are incredibly appealing.  Gent was the biggest surprise of my trip, and I had a total blast.  My favorite spots in Gent:

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Marketplace Hall, a contemporary “building” in the heart of the medieval city center.  The open air structure is controversial, but I absolutely love it.

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SMAK, is Gent’s amazing contemporary art museum.  I was totally engrossed by the exhbition on Joachim Koester.  Ensemblamatic, their exhibition style approach to displaying a portion of the permanent collection, was incredibly affective.

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The Graslei, appealing area along one of Gent’s canals, chockablock with amazing medieval architecture.

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Gent Design Museum, home to a solid design collection, with Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles a definite highlight.

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Humor by Rewind, great women’s apparel and interiors shop.  They carry Roos Vandeckerckhove’s amazing Gent-based knitwear line.

Gent ended up being so much cooler than I ever expected.  It’s definitely worth a visit, even if it’s generally overlooked.

My favorite spots in Antwerp are coming soon…

It’s been almost a week since I returned from my 9 days in Belgium.  It was an amazing trip.  It often seems like Belgium is overlooked as an European destination, but it’s got so much to offer.  My short stints in Brussels, Gent and Antwerp have left me hoping to someday make it back.

For such a small country, different regions of Belgium feel totally different (mostly due to the different cultural histories of the Flemish and Walloon regions).  I wanted to share just a few highlights, from the different spots I visited.  I’ve broken it up by location to keep the length a little more manageable. 

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BRUSSELS

Brussels feels both very international, it is after all the home of the EU and NATO, and quite French.  My favorite neighborhood was Ixelles, a residential neighborhood to the South East of the center, home to lots of independent shops and restaurants.  My favorite spots in Brussels:

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The Costume and Lace Museum, featuring exhibitions as well as an amazing collection of lace.  Learned so much about pre-industrial lace making.  It’s just around the corner from Le Grande Place.

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Bouchery, a outstanding restaurant in Ixelles, with first class food and a neighborhood feel.  We had the Surprise Menu, and it was easily one of the top five meals of my life.

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Bonnie et Jane, an adorable shop for women’s apparel and a few interiors items in Ixelles.

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Chez Franz, low-key lunch/brunch spot (brown paper on the tables, red and white check paper napkins) also in Ixelles.

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Le Typographe, amazing stationery and letterpress shop in Ixelles.  They make a large portion of their product in the workshop behind the store.

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Horta House, home and masterpiece of Victor Horta, Art Nouveau architect from Brussels. Now converted into a museum, this space is incredibly beautiful and calming.

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Maison Dandoy, nearly 200 year old biscuit shop on the Rue au Beurre (that’s right French speakers, the street of butter).  Maison Dandoy is well known for (Belgian mainstay) speculoos and biscuits.  The earl grey biscuits are to die for, and with a slogan like “Spectaculoos Speculoos”, who could say no?

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Museum Van Buren, small museum in an Amsterdam School style home in off the beaten path Uccle.  The Art Deco interiors are insanely good.

Saw so many other great things In Brussels, but these were my favorites.  Stay tuned for Christianna’s picks from Gent and Antwerp.

I just got back from a fantastic trip to Belgium (more on that soon), but right before I left I put up another cowl pattern on ravelry, and this one’s a freebie!

Here is Jessie, a simple cowl or circle scarf pattern, that’s really all about the materials.

Jessie

Pattern now available for download on Ravelry

Yarn: Rowan Felted Tweed in Rage & Rowan Kidsilk Haze in Blood

Jessie is a generously sized mistake rib circle scarf. It is worked back and forth starting from a provisional cast on and ending with a three needle bind off.

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Jessie is worked with three strands of yarn held together. Two strands of Rowan Felted Tweed are held with one strand of Rowan Kidsilk Haze. The combination of the tweed from the former and the halo and sheen from the latter come together to soften the strong texture of the mistake rib. The effect is a subtle stitch texture and beautiful depth in yarn.

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The knitting is quite simple, but the size and the yarns yield really luxurious results.

Being finished with grad school definitely has it’s upsides.  I have been finishing a lot of long languishing projects recently, which feels pretty great.

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Driftwood

Pattern: Driftwood by Cecily Glowik MacDonald

Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in Dark Oak & Thundercloud

This guy for instance had been waiting around since August for a second sleeve until last week.  The second the semester started he got shelved, but is now finally finished.  

I took Cecily Glowik MacDonald’s Driftwood pattern and made a few changes.  I chose it mostly because I liked the shape: nice length, some positive ease with just a bit of waist shaping, a sleeve that finds the balance between shaping and room, not quite oversized, but maybe “relaxed”.  I left out the lace and added a little colorblocking (because somehow, I’m still not tired of it).

There’s a lot of things I like about this sweater.  Silky Wool is a really great yarn, and I love these colors together (Thundercloud is a bit more of a washed black than it appears in the picture).  I like a lot of things about the fit.  I think it’s nice through the body, the length is great, the sleeves could probably have been shortened a bit more (I shortened them by only an inch), but the shoulders and underarms…  As much as I love the knitting of a top down raglan, I think this is the sweater that finally makes me accept that it just isn’t the best fit on me.  Hard to strike a good balance between bust measurement and little shoulders.  

Still, a good relaxed sweater.  I’ll probably get a lot of wear out of this one.

Another new pattern! Odile (pronounced Oh-Deel), is named after the main character of Joe Meno’s Office Girl, which I mentioned recently.

Odile

Pattern now available for purchase on ravelry

Yarn: Schulana Milford in #27

Odile is a long cowl or circle scarf that features rich textures created by horseshoe cables and mistake rib.  My original prototype was in Rowan Lima, and was really lovely.  But the Milford creates a strong relief, which emphasizes the texture.

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I’ve been a little addicted to the Milford this Winter (you may remember my grint hat).  It’s soft, lofty, and oh so light.  It’s a blend of wool, alpaca, acrylic and silk, where the silk is plied with the other fibers, not blended it.  This adds to it’s beautiful tweediness, and picks up the light.

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The finished cowl is 9” wide and 52” around.  It is lofty and warm, sitting just around the neck when doubled up.

I had the pleasure of catching the Kishi Bashi show at Philly’s First Unitarian Church on Wednesday night.  Not only was it amazing, but it was the most heavily attended show I’ve ever been to the at The Church.  Headed back out onto the street after the truly superb set, I heard one girl say “That’s the best $10 show I’ve ever been to” and I believed her.
Kishi Bashi, is the solo project of K Ishibashi. He combines loops of violin, vocals and beat boxing to incredible affect.  His music is seriously infectious, and his set was at times a total powerhouse and at others quietly moving.  If you haven’t heard his debut full length, 151a, you can preview the whole thing on the Kishi Bashi website.

I had the pleasure of catching the Kishi Bashi show at Philly’s First Unitarian Church on Wednesday night.  Not only was it amazing, but it was the most heavily attended show I’ve ever been to the at The Church.  Headed back out onto the street after the truly superb set, I heard one girl say “That’s the best $10 show I’ve ever been to” and I believed her.

Kishi Bashi, is the solo project of K Ishibashi. He combines loops of violin, vocals and beat boxing to incredible affect.  His music is seriously infectious, and his set was at times a total powerhouse and at others quietly moving.  If you haven’t heard his debut full length, 151a, you can preview the whole thing on the Kishi Bashi website.

I’d like to introduce… Briony:  a new pattern (the first one I’ve written up in a long, long time).

Briony

Pattern now available for purchase on ravelry

Yarn: Rowan Alpaca Chunky in Dove (070) & Sparrow (071)

Briony is a longer cowl or circle scarf that uses bands of textural stitches to play with single row stripes and colorblocking.  The textured areas are used to break up the regular striping, for a more interesting effect.

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I worked my version in Rowan Alpaca Chunky, a Super Bulky, chain construction, alpaca yarn.  The chain construction really changes the nature of the alpaca, making it much lighter and loftier, but retaining that characteristic drape. 

For any substitutions I would recommend choosing a Super Bulky yarn that has a loftiness to it, but also drapes nicely.  

The finished cowl is 9” wide with a 48” circumference.  Doubled up it sits close to the neck.  The end result is like an amazing, warm cocoon. 

Someone suggested that in addition to knit related posts, I include some posts on things I’m into.  Let’s say recommendations…

This weekend I started reading Joe Meno's most recent novel Office Girl (alternately titled “Bohemians” and “Young People on Bicycles Doing Troubling Things”).

I first encountered Joe Meno a few years ago when I read his fantastic novel, The Boy Detective Fails.  When I saw this new work (and it’s appealing alternate titles) at Elliott Bay Books in Seattle this August I had to pick it up.  Without much time for reading this Fall, I’m just getting to it now, but it’s engrossing, and I’m almost finished.

Office Girl is about Jack and Odile, two twenty-something, former art school students who meet in Chicago in 1999.  In a lot of ways, this is a novel where not too much happens.  Conveniently, I really like that sort of thing.  It’s filled with pages of quiet, but intoxicating moments, and is scattered with quirky illustrations and black and white photographs.

UPDATE:  Finished 1/31.  The ending is brilliant and the very last page features a list of theme music.  The list includes: No Age, The Duchess and the Duke, Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, Mannequin Men, Smith Westerns, Hunx and His Punx.