Monday, July 30, 2007


My Opal Hundertwasser yarn has arrived! This promises to be a good week. Tomorrow I start designing more Troubador Socks using this stuff.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Friday, July 27, 2007

There is such a thing as too cute.

And this is it. Bunny. Pompom tail. Frankly, I don't think Juanma will allow it in the house.

These patterns, "Forest Friends", are shareware (I think that's what it's called): they're free, however the person who posted them asks for a small and voluntary donation, which is fair and well worth it. The patterns were written by her mother in 1981, and are beautiful, with hand drawings and photos in black and white.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A field of v's

Will this knitting never end?
Now I know why the Korsnäs girls do these knitted sections in trios. The level of tedium is dangerous for one person alone. On the other hand, I have to admit it's very pretty.

I just joined a great online group called Crochet Partners, and now my mailbox is brimming with crocheters from around the world. I entirely approve of this group: the posting rules are very strict, so all posts are 100% on the topic of crochet. Many thanks to Dee Stanziano for pointing me in the direction of the group!
And while I'm on the topic of thanks, I owe a heap of them to Debolsillo for spending hours teaching me how to Blog. Gracias por todo!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Yarn Shops in Barcelona

This is the most urgent of all posts, and I'm sure it will be helpful to people like me who have searched the net for this information, unsuccessfully, for years. Here it is, and like Barcelona Knits, I will keep on adding to it every time I find a new store. I think we should all do this: we all live in different neighborhoods and frequent different parts of town. Between all of us crafters in BCN we should be able to create our own Yarn Yellow Pages.

I think it's important not to be selective when listing yarn shops: not only the best ones, the biggest ones, the coolest ones, but every single store that sells yarn should eventually be represented here, or on somebody's blog. So here goes my own list. (Some of these places have web pages and some of them, among them some really good ones, do not.)

Persones Llanes
Plaça de la Llana, 7 baixos
932 691 347

This shop is small but excellent. They stock yarns and accessories that are unavailable elsewhere in BCN, such as Malabrigo, Garnstudio, Lorna's Laces, sari silk, Addi Turbo and Clover needles and accessories, and more cool stuff. This may also be the only place in town that sells self-striping sock yarn. May I add that Jennifer and Miquel, the owners, are delightful in every way.

Llanes Travessera
Travessera de Gràcia, 294
934 588 995

Llanes Travessera is a long-standing family business that has some "old-style" qualities and other features that may pleasantly surprise Barcelona knitters. It's quite large, and all the yarn is out on the floor, on shelves or piled into boxes and crates, and you can browse, touch smell etc. as much as you like. The proprietress has been working there since she was a teenager, and is a real expert in both knitting and crochet. "Guian las labores": meaning she can coach you row for row in any project you care to undertake. Both she and her daughter and everyone else who works there are pleasant and helpful. Oh, and they also make their own beautiful blends of yarns. This is not the place to look for exotic fibres or yarns imported from faraway places: most of their stock is Spanish, Italian or German, but even so it's a great YS.

Lanas El Globo
Passeig de Sant Joan, 34
932 310 450

A very large selection of Ornaghi Filati and a few other brands. An old-fashioned BCN YS where all wares are behind the counter and one has to ask for them. Coaching available.

La Barcelana
c/Brosolí, 1
933 198 451

This is a must-visit, even if it's not, strictly speaking, a Yarn Shop. It's actually a textile workshop full of looms, making and selling hand-woven scarves and clothing, but in addition they sell superb Argentinian yarns by Yanabey. The woman who runs the shop is a darling.

Tricot's Cafe
c/Balmes, 412
932 122 134

Quite large, merchandise is browsable, some lovely and uncommon yarns. Classes and workshops available, as well as a bar and restaurant.

Pau Claris 145 (esquina Valencia)
tel: 93 487 26 72

Old-style YS. I know that some people really like this place, but my experience has been uniformly unpleasant. All wares are behind the counter and you might have a hard time getting the saleswomen to show you what you want to see. When they finally do decide to help you, it's usually with poor grace. On the other hand, so far I think this is the only place in Barcelona that carries Rowan and Noro yarns, so I guess we'll just have to grin and bear it until somebody nicer decides to provide us with them...hint hint Jennifer and Miquel...

Lola Botona
c/Torrent de l'Olla, 179
932 177 336

Small neighborhood YS. I found some great Katia yarn there.

Merceria Santa Ana
Avda. Portal del Angel, 26 (2nd floor)
tel: 302 09 48

A daunting experience, but worth the effort. Talk about a place with character...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Forest Friends

Sneaking in a bit of crochet, a break from all this knitting. These are for Gemma and Juanma who are having a baby soon. The patterns are from this great page: The Crochet Works. I plan to make the Mouse and the Rabbit as well.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Lara Croft, Uncinatus Doctora (PhD in crochet)

News flash! I've been offered a course! I'm gonna be a crochet instructor!
Here in Barcelona our most exciting YS is a tiny little place in the Gothic Quarter called Persones Llanes. It may be small, but the young couple who run it have spearheaded Barcelona's knitting revival, and made available to us all the fibres we didn't used to be able to get anywhere in the city, province, or country. Like alpaca, sari silk, hemp, banana fibre, sock wool... no, I'm not being fair. Probably you could get them, but you'd have to have been Miss Marple to find out where; and this situation remains basically unchanged. (As soon as I figure out a bit more about this blogging business I will post my own directory of Yarn Shops, although Barcelona Knits has a good one already on this page.)
And I get to teach a course on Korsnas crochet at Persones Llanes!
This is what I came away with: The white alpaca is from Peru, sold to Persones Llanes by a passing Peruvian who walked into the shop. It's quite amazing stuff, and they have a crate full of it in all natural colours.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Knitting purgatory

I may have been exaggerating when I said that I don't know how to knit. Now I remember that I do know how to knit, I had an excellent teacher in my mother. It's just that when I'm crocheting, the thought of knitting intimidates me to the point of panic. So I apologize for misleading information.
I had to rip out 4 rows when I realized I was reading the pattern wrong. Not fun.
In Korsnäs, women sit down in groups of three or four to make these sweaters, and they take turns on the rows. (important update 22/07: they do not take turns on the rows! They do them all at the same time, 3 or 4 people knitting the same row! If you don't believe me, see this picture. God I wish I could read Finnish, and learn how this is done!)The most experienced ladies do the complicated crochet rows, the ones with three or more colours. Sounds like a plan to me. Personally I'm considering hiring a Ghost Knitter to take care of this next section for me, which promises to be long and tedious. Can't wait to get to the next crochet section.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Pointy Sticks

Well, knitting is not really very hard, even with 2 colours. It's not that it's difficult, that's not it. It's just, well, not very exciting somehow. Now why is it that I find crochet so compelling and knitting so bland? I find myself grumbling "all this poking about with pointy sticks.." But I think it's not the pointiness of the sticks, rather it's the pokiness of the stitch. In you poke, out you poke, in you poke, etc. like a little machine. Whereas crochet is like ballet: every stitch is a little pirouette, or a big pirouette, or a triple axel, depending. And then you look at the stitches you've made and you see all these delightful structures, twirls and whirls, while in knitting you see this field of v's.
I hope this post is offensive enough to the knitting community. I'd love to hear you all rant and rave the way I have. Which is to say, the 3 or 4 people who read my blog, ie my most beloved sister, cousin, niece, husband, son...
No! There's more!
Allow me to introduce the most rockin' reunion in Barcelona: BARCELONA KNITS! Yesterday I went to my 2nd BK session. At the first one I went to, these very supportive knitters and crocheters encouraged me to start a blog, and here it is, even if it's still only in English. (La verdad es que me veo muy patosa escribiendo en Castellano, i encara més en Català.) Anyhow these folks are a treat, because they're all as yarn-obsessed as myself. When I start talking, they don't sigh and wait for me to get onto a more interesting topic.

When I first moved to Barcelona, like 20 years ago, in my neighborhood there were 6 or 7 little (and I mean Little) yarn shops wedged in among all the other tiny stores, and in each and every one of them you'd find a group of ladies knitting and crocheting and gossiping together. The proprietress of such a shop was invariably a master craftswoman who could take one look at you, measure you, and design your pattern for you on the spot, no matter what stitch or lacy pattern you wanted to try. Like Haute Couture. Patterns were not printed and there were few magazines: she just said, now decrease three stitches here, and it worked. There are not too many of those shops left, they're closing left and right as those incredible women retire, and my generation doesn't have the time or the skill to take their place. But when Debbie Stoller started the Stitch'n'Bitch revolution, I couldn't help thinking of all those little ladies chatting away over their needles in those tiny shops.
I know and have known many wonderful Little Catalan Ladies who do amazing needlework. So I plan to write about them all here, eventually.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

It's a Latvian mitten! No, it's a bag.

While we're on the topic of Korsnäs tapestry crochet, (upon which topic we will continue to be forever), this is another FO using Ktc. The "fairisle" pattern is from this page and the design of the bag is mine, which is why it's a bit strange. Never mind, I use it anyways.

And this is the DH's Museum sweater as of last night. One more row and we switch to knitting for the middle section. It's a daunting prospect for us confirmed Crocheters, since we, (I), don't actually know how to knit. However, my brilliant mother, who was a superb needlewoman and Belgian to boot, taught me stranded colourwork holding a strand in either hand, and although I was not very good at it, I figure (that is I hope) it must be hardwired into my genes. We shall see.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

How I became addicted to crochet.

So there I was flat out on my back for weeks with nothing to do. So this is what I did: got out the old crochet hook and whatever yarn I had from years back when my son was a baby, and designed me a log cabin afghan. I spent my days on the bed, buried in yarn, and did this. It was so much fun that I almost considered injuring myself again. My friends contributed to this by bringing me wool from the big city. You may ask, why has this afghan no border? It has no border because I got better, and all further projects have had to be purse-sized.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Move over, knitted socks!

Here they are, Troubador Socks in their new home, ie the feet of my best friend Meng.
Seeing them on her I realized that these actually work as socks, the kind you wear in your shoes or boots, albeit in winter. Which is uncommon for a crocheted sock. We crochet lovers wind up making a lot of bedsocks, slipper socks, footwarmers footies etc. But the tapestry crochet gives a compact, foot-hugging weave that is, you know, like a sock. Wow! I'm so proud! The possibilities are endless! Move over knitted socks!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Museum Sweater

Now that I've gotten to be such a whiz at this, here's another post, a picture of what I'm working on now. This is the very sweater on the Ostrobothnian Museum's (see link below) textile page! It's also pictured in full on the frontispiece of Marketta Luutonen's amazing book (see link below) so with the help of a magnifying glass I'm lifting the pattern. I wish I could scan the photo and post it here but I rather suspect this would be a violation of copyright laws so instead I suggest everybody run off and buy the book. It's written in Swedish, Finnish and English. (You see, Korsnäs is this small town on the Ostrobothnian coast of Finland, and in Korsnäs they speak Swedish.)
This is for my husband who has no use for troubador socks.
One of these days I will figure out how to take a better picture.
In the meantime, here are some great links for lovers of colourwork:
CIMDU PARAUGI (latvian mittens)
CIMDU RAKSTI (latvian mitten patterns)
RIGA NATO SUMMIT (Thousands of Latvian mittens!!)

Well, this is it: my blog, if I manage to figure out how it's done. I have recently come to realize that I have become an internet parasite. I can no longer count the number of ideas I've picked up from everybody's wonderful knitting and crochet blogs. So, now that I've actually designed my Very Own Pattern, I suppose there's no excuse for not posting it for you all to share. And since everybody but me seems to have been able to create blogs, it must not in fact be as impossible as it looks.
Here it is then: Crochet Troubador Socks Number One (hopefully in a long series)
This is Ostrobothnian (or Korsnäs, Bosnian, or Back Loop) Tapestry Crochet, which is just like tapestry crochet but always into the back loop.
The sock pattern is basically this one: Ultimate Crocheted Socks from Crochet Me magazine. Only the heel is different from Dorothy Hardy's pattern: I made an afterthought heel, the pattern for which is here.
For great pictures of Korsnäs crochet, try these:
The Ostrobothnian Museum

And this book, which is incredible: Decorative Crocheting (Färg och flärd med virkat) by Marketta Luutonen, Anna Bäckman and Gunnar Bäckman and which I bought here.