Finished object – Mama Weer All Crazee Cowl

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So I finished my cowl and I am delighted with it. I love how enormous it is and I love the glorious colours. It will be warm and cosy, not to mention ultra-cheerful, on cold winter days. Although working the knit one, purl one rib for such a big project was rather hard on the hands, it pays dividends in how the cowl sits and its versatility, so I’m glad I chose that. It also makes the cowl completely reversible which is very useful when the inside of an item is frequently on view.

In the end, I finished after the ninth colour because it felt complete. I had been a bit unsure about adding the stripe of pink at the end because the progression of the nine colours seemed close, and the pink interrupted it. That mini skein will sit in my stash and be used either to augment a pair of socks (it is sock wool, after all), or be added into the colourwork in a patterned sweater somewhere down the line.

I have updated my projects archive with the full details of this knit and I just want to take this opportunity to point you in the direction of Noodle Soup Yarns whose mini skein set I used on this project. Charley is a very talented dyer who lives in my home county of Norfolk and sells her hand-dyed wools at local craft fairs and through her online shop.

Taking photos of the finished object, I was struck all over again by how rotten I am at taking selfies. In fact, I think that is the thing above all others that marks me out as a member of my generation. I have just about got the hang of it to show my face, but I have to admit defeat over trying to photograph myself wearing the things I knit. I think the answer might be a tailor’s dummy (or is dress form a better term?), but it is unlikely to make an appearance given the bijou nature of my flat.

Whilst I was waiting for Holby City to start last night, I sneakily cast on my next garment – Basilica by Martin Storey for Rowan. I am knitting the sleeve to begin with to act as a swatch, although I have used the yarns and needles before and I’m confident about the gauge I will get.

14-08-19 Basilica cast on

I hope you’re getting on well with your creative projects and everything else in your life. Today the temperature in Norfolk has dropped and it’s dull and threatening rain. I recognise this weather – it heralds autumn and that can’t come quickly enough for me, even if it’s only to give me a chance to swaddle myself in that crazy collection of colour.

 

Finished object – Cable Front Cardigan

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A finished object… and I took advantage of an invitation for a couple of hours at our local park to rope my daughter into taking some modelled shots for me in between games of balloon football with my grandson.

I am exceptionally happy with how this project turned out. The fit is just great and adding the button makes this garment better suited to my requirements because I don’t really do things that hang open at the front – maybe it’s my narrow shoulders that make things seem precarious if they are not tether shut at some point? I adore the marled effect from the gold and cream yarns held together and I am pleased to say this combination washes really and dries really well which means the garment will be pretty low-maintenance. It’s definitely a fabric that isn’t scared of being bunged in the washing machine. The fact that I knitted this, start to finish, in just a month is testament to how simple and pleasurable a project it was to knit.

You can see more technical information on my project page here.

Just another couple of shots for you:

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FO 2
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This gorgeous button was bought at Liberty of London in 2010 – colours go so well with this cardigan

Those smaller barley-sugar twist cables really please me and I’m really keen to do more cabling, although perhaps I’ll start with the sleeveless top with cabled midriff rather than jumping into the all-over cabled jacket without a life belt!

A finished item put away in the wardrobe makes my heart sing.

Finished object – Inigo Cardigan

19-06-19 Inigo c1

Last week I wrote that I wasn’t going to push myself to complete my knitting, but it turns out I did! My Inigo Cardigan is done and I am almost entirely enchanted by it.

Technical details:

Pattern:  Inigo by Lisa Richardson
Source:  Rowan UK pattern brochure “New Vintage DK” published 2018
Size: To fit bust 32-34″/81-86cm
Materials:  Sublime Yarns Luxurious Tweed DK (discontinued), 60% wool/40% cotton
Needles:  4mm KnitPro Symfonie wood straight needles, 30cm long

The pattern is very well written and explained everything you needed to do very logically. There were a couple of places where I didn’t read it carefully enough, but I can’t blame the designer for my lack of attention. This project is knit in separate pieces and seamed together, which is my preference, but I know it is off-putting for a number of knitters.

19-06-19 Inigo c3

The yarn was surprisingly pleasant to work with and I would say improved slightly when I put the garment through its post-completion wash, dry and pressing. I don’t generally like cotton, but this combination of 60% wool with 40% cotton seems to yield a very nice fabric that doesn’t take too long to dry and feels summery, but still holds shape.

Speaking of shape, I must address the one thing I’m not so happy about with the finished garment and that is the gapping where the fronts meet. I think this is caused by three factors coinciding:

a)  I could do to be five pounds lighter than I am!

b) The front bands are knitted together with the body on the 4mm needles and are therefore not quite as firm as I would like them to be; I think it would be better if the were knitted on a smaller needle to give a tighter gauge, or crocheted.

c)  There are only five buttons; the gapping would be reduced or eliminated if there were more.

19-06-19 Inigo c2

When I had finished the knitting and seamed the pieces together, I searched through my button box for suitable buttons. I decided on the silver ones because I feel the shape of the cardigan coupled with the tweedy yarn lends this garment a slightly Chanelesque air and metal buttons suit this very well.

I am sure I will revisit this pattern, probably knitting a version in wool and addressing the closure issue. However, I love this version and will enjoy wearing it. It is a really strong entry into my spring and summer wardrobe. I wasn’t too sure how many balls of the yarn I started off with (13, 14, 15?), but I have enough left over to make a little sleeveless top at some point.

But, wait, that’s not all the knitting news! I have started the Norah Gaughan Vogue Cabled Cardigan.

19-06-19 NGVCC p1

I have completed two sleeves! I can’t believe how quickly this is knitting up. I love working on it and it feels so good to finally have a project I know I will complete using the old gold Sirdar Country Style yarn. This will be the second project in a row where the yarn has been donated to me when friends and family have been de-stashing. I have been listening to my collection of Blake’s 7 audio books from Big Finish whilst knitting. There are a lot of excellent stories on these CDs and they are just the job for long stretches of stocking stitch with no shaping, which makes up the majority of this pattern. When, in the fullness of time, I move on to the cabled ‘scarf’ part of the pattern I shall need to concentrate fully and that’s when I will need complete silence.

I hope your knitting is coming on apace.

Finished object – Isambard Socks

15-05-19 complete socks

I had a bit of a knitting frenzy over the weekend and finished my Isambard socks. I have small feet and my socks don’t take long to knit if I work on them consistently. I love seeing all the amazing sock patterns that other people knit, but I only like knitting plain ones myself. I have no idea why that should be unless it is because I love my socks to be wildly coloured or have tons of variegation and those type of yarns just don’t play nicely with patterning. Or perhaps I am just lazy (actually, no perhaps needed there).

I have been knitting my socks for the past couple of years on 2.5mm needles, but I am coming to the conclusion that I might go down to 2.25mm for my next pair. I think I used 2.25mm when I first started knitting socks and they lasted rather better than my more recent socks, not that the more recent socks are problematic in any way.

I really enjoy how this wool knits up and the dyeing is very pleasing to the eye. Those blues and golds on the grey-beige background make me very happy.

Technical details:

Pattern:  Vanilla sock based on free pattern circa 2006/2007, came free with a ball of sock wool
Size: To fit UK size 4 1/2 shoe
Materials: Mr B sock yarn 75% superwash wool/25% nylon, 100g (I usually use around 55g)
Needles:  2.5mm KnitPro Zing metal double-point needles, 20cm long, pack of 5 (I use 4 with half the stitches on one needle, and a quarter each on a further two needles, working the live stitches onto the fourth needle)

The pattern I follow has a heel flap and gusset construction which suits me very well. The toe in the pattern is pretty standard, decreasing equal amounts on both sides until 12 stitches remain on both needles, then doing a Kitchener Stitch join. I learned how to do the Kitchener join using the knitting needles instead of having to thread up a tapestry needle and that made a lot of sense to me. However, last year I discovered the Barn Toe which gives a slightly deeper and more rounded toe shape and I like that a lot so I used it on this pair.

15-05-19 barn toe

I particularly enjoy the fact that with this toe shaping you just keep decreasing until you only have four stitches left and then you cinch them shut using the end of your working yarn. It is so quick to do and there’s none of that inclination to stop just short of the end because you need to look up the Kitchener instructions again.

As well as finishing these, I have made significant progress on my Inigo cardigan. I have all-but completed the back and have made a start on one of the sleeves. I thought, as my gauge is not exactly as per the pattern, it made sense to wait to finish the armhole shaping on the back until I had a sleeve complete so I can make sure that the pieces fit together well. Forethought – that’s a new one for me!

Whilst I was working on the Gaudi cardigan I logged it on Ravelry. I have been very lazy about Ravelry for quite a number of years, rarely using it and not logging any of my projects, although there was a time when I was quite diligent with it. Now I am suddenly getting back into using it to keep the project details and I am enjoying it once again.

There has been one drawback to my knitting endeavours this past week, which is that one of my fingers has developed a slightly alarming ‘click’. I have consulted Dr. Internet who informs me this is “trigger finger” (sounds like it is a surfeit of Kojak rather than knitting that has caused it) and since I am not in pain and my finger merely feels odd rather than actually seizing up, I am limiting the amount I work on my knitting for a few days to give it a rest.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing my finished socks and I hope your knitting, or other creative endeavours, are going well. For now, I think it’s time to have a nice cup of tea.


 

Finished Object – Gaudi Cardigan

01-05-19 Gaudi finished

It’s done! My Gaudi cardigan is completely finished, washed, dry, ready to wear. I am so pleased with it; it fits perfectly, the Rowan Felted Tweed DK makes it warm but lightweight, the colours are just stunning. I feel the buttons provide a final flourish. I went through my button tin as I knew I had bought some packs of blue grey and beige buttons some time ago. Once I had sorted them out into matching colour sets, I decided to use the palest beige, the deep-sea blue, and the charcoal ones in a repeating pattern and I just love how it looks. I think it lends the garment a playful edge.

So, here are the technical details:
Pattern:  Gaudi
Designer:  Martin Storey for Rowan
Book:  Rowan New Vintage DK
Size: To fit bust 36-38″ (second size)
Materials: Rowan Felted Tweed DK. I used 150g Clay; 37g Watery; 43g Granite; 15g Mineral; 64g Carbon; 15g Seafarer.
Needles:  3.25mm KnitPro Symfonie 30cm straights; 4.00mm KnitPro Zing 30cm straights.
Buttons:  I used 11 18mm buttons, pattern calls for 6 only.

Modifications (a.k.a. It isn’t you, it’s me)

From the outset, it was my intention to knit this exactly as the pattern is written with no modifications, even using the exact colours shown in the pattern. Well, that went a bit by-the-board, but I have to make it clear that I count this as an extremely well-written pattern, just one that doesn’t suit my knitting preferences quite as well as some of Martin Storey’s previous patterns. Here is the design photo:-

01-05-19 Gaudi pattern pic

My cardigan seems rather shorter than this but then I always have an issue with row gauge and I like the length mine has achieved.  The big modifications, though, came in the colourwork patterned ‘yoke’ area. I have to admit I struggled with this as I have mentioned in previous blog posts. Firstly, I didn’t work the few stitches at the raglan shaping in the Clay colour as I should have – I tried it both ways, but repeated re-knitting of the colourwork on the back left me with no desire to have three balls of wool hanging around getting tangled.

Last week I got it all seamed together ready to work the bands, but I tried it on and I really didn’t like the fit on the shoulders. I knew all along this could potentially be an issue because I don’t like wide necklines – they don’t suit my narrow shoulders and I find them fussy when it comes to necklines you can wear under them. Realising I wouldn’t wear the cardigan as it was, I unpicked the seams and took each piece back to a point where I could address this issue.

I will say here that I think this pattern would be ideal if you are used to knitting your sweaters top-down all in one piece, but want to branch out and try a pattern knit from the bottom up in pieces. I think you would end up with a fit you are very familiar and happy with from your previous projects. I don’t knit that type of garment because they don’t look like they would be a comfortable fit on me; although having modified this cardigan I might try an all-in-one construction sometime and modify it to suit me.

I have knitted raglan-sleeved garments in the dim and distant past, although a set-in sleeve suits me perfectly so I tend to stick with that, and I recalled that the sleeve decreases were worked until all the stitches were gone and the sleeve came to a point at the top. On this design, there is a shaped top to each sleeve. In order to get a close-fitting neck, I just carried on decreasing the sleeves as my previous experience dictated and then worked the shaping on the back and fronts to suit. This has given me the ideal result for my taste and it actually didn’t add more than a couple of days to the finishing of the project.

My second modification was to crochet the bands for the button, buttonhole, and neck edges rather than knitting them. Again, this is a result of past experience as I really like the finish a crocheted band provides, especially how neat the buttonholes are.

01-05-19 Gaudi buttonholes

I made my buttonholes quite close together, almost doubling the number of buttons called for, because of a discussion I had with one of my sisters when I was dithering over whether to knit this as a cardigan or change it to a jumper. With smaller gaps between the buttons it will be possible to wear it as a jumper when I want to.

So there it is, my completed cardigan and I can’t wait to be wearing it. I will post some modelled shots when I can grab them, but for now I’m just happy to have this one in my wardrobe. I love it.

01-05-19 Gaudi complete


 

Finished object – Rowan Stockport

Stockport front

I am pretty sure this will be my final finished project in 2018, unless the elves come round and knit a bit of my old gold jumper for me whilst I sleep. It is the pattern “Stockport” designed by Sarah Hatton and was included in the Rowan Knitting and Crochet Magazine Number 46 issued in autumn 2009. This top is designed for Rowan Cocoon yarn.

I used Scheepjes Colour Crafter yarn, 100% acrylic, DK weight, with 300m per 100g ball in the shade Sint Niklaas (No. 2019). I am still not a fan of acrylic yarn, but this was far from unpleasant to work with. I achieved the correct stitch gauge holding this yarn double and working with 6mm wooden needles; my row gauge was off, but I just knitted extra rows to make up for it. I knitted the smallest size because the recipient is so svelte that she may be operating on the basis that in an extreme survival situation, the thinnest one will be the last to get eaten.

My choice of yarn was determined by the fact that I was knitting this garment as a gift for my lovely daughter and needed to fit in with her particular requirements. As far as possible, she only wears black, white and grey so the colour choice was pretty limited; she only wants man-made yarns for ease of washing and drying (small flat, no washing line). I originally thought of knitting a boxy stocking stitch jumper inspired by an item in a local boutique, but after a lot of searching ended up with this design. I fear a pale grey, boxy, stocking stitch, DK weight jumper might have been the end of me!

I thought the pattern was enjoyable to knit and, on the whole, easy to execute. The cables on the main body and the neckband were worked to written instructions which were simple; the braided cable on the chest and upper back were from a chart. Because of my dislike of following charted patterns, I transferred the information to a system of written instructions using index cards and once that was done I found it very enjoyable to follow. I am glad I worked this out, because I have some patterns with complex charts that I have given up on because I couldn’t follow the chart, and now I know I can try them again if I write out the pattern to suit my own brain.

Stockport neck

The only negative thing I would say about the design is that the neckband didn’t work out too well for me. Because it is designed as a flat piece, I found the top edge sat oddly once it was attached. To resolve this, I worked a round of crochet stitches on the top edge, picking up two stitches out of every three, which worked very well indeed, but it did give me a twinge of concern that the whole garment might not turn out well. The design is supposed to sit as a boat-neck, and I think this modification will allow it to do that, but before I put in the crochet stitches, the top edge did not pull in at all and just sat straight up from the shoulder.

Stockport braid

This pattern edges towards the yoked designs which are very popular at the moment, but they are not my favourites. I don’t think they suit me in particular, but also they seem more complex than a design without a yoke. I am, however, considering the possibility of using the cable pattern from this top juxtaposed on a basic jumper design with a round neckline and set-in sleeves and knitted in a lovely, jewel-toned Shetland wool (sapphire, ruby, garnet, amethyst, emerald – all would be appropriate). I would wear that baby until the cows come home, or until it disintegrated into tiny shreds, whichever came first. In fact it’s probably time to be eyeing up the wool.


I hope your knitting is going well, and that you are happy with the projects you’ve managed to finish this year.


 

Is this an appropriate time to knit in public?

Get you knitting out
It’s 1976 and two desperate criminals are holding you hostage in a church….

 

The good news is, I have a finished object! The less good news is that I can’t show a picture because it’s my super-secret Christmas knitting. I’m pleased to have this finished in good time for gifting, and to have it finished just in order not to see it in my work basket any more. Now I can get a bit of colour back into my life.

Previously, I mentioned that although I’m halfway through my old gold/mustard cardigan, I am not totally sure it’s what I want to be knitting with this wool. I thought the time away from it doing the Christmas knit would resolve that, but I am still just as undecided. By that, I mean that my head is saying I should keep on with the cardigan because I’ve already put in a fair amount of work on it, whilst my heart is saying knit a chunkier jumper because that’s what I would wear right now. I think most people who know me think it’s a given that I will follow my head, but actually I always follow my heart then quickly think up sensible-sounding justifications. So the chances are I will cast on for a chunkier knit this evening. I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, I’ve thought a fair bit over recent months about the question of whether it’s okay to knit in public and, if so, whether there are times when it is appropriate, or inappropriate, to do so. My good old friend, Kojak, has helped me out here. If you recall, we previously encountered our lovable, sexy, bald, dew-eyed cop as he prowled the corridors of the court-house, hand-knitted sock in hand. This, however, is not the only time knitting happens in the series. The still above is taken from an episode in Series 4; two desperate gunmen have taken hostages and holed up in a church. The younger of the two women being held decides this is the time to get out her knitting – a lovely big red jumper by the looks of things, being knit on a pair of straight needles. She, clearly, is a fan of knitting in public and also knows a thing or two about how knitting can help you de-stress. I am not so sure I would get my knitting out under those circumstances. The chances are that at least some of the people are going to get shot and that alone would put me off. I know the blood wouldn’t show against the red wool, but even so, what if a stray bullet should damage your jumper before you’re even half-finished?

How about you? If it was 1976 and you were holed up in a church with two desperate criminals, would you be knitting?


 

Finished object – maroon sweater

I have finished my sweater! Although this is a distinctly autumn knit, I am counting it as the summer garment as far as my intentions for the year go (I was aiming to get one garment and three pairs of socks knitted in each of the four “seasons” this year and I’m running way behind).

Date started: 19th September 2018
Date completed: 14th October 2018
Pattern: Square-neck Ribbed Sweater from One Thousand Sweaters by Amanda Griffiths  (out of print) with modified Fitted Sleeve and modified Square V-neck Rib neck border
Yarn: Willow and Lark Ramble Superwash Wool DK in colour 110 Ox Blood (out of stock as I write this)
Size: Medium (to suit 36″bust)

This book is modular so you can mix and match different bodies, sleeves, necklines etc to suit yourself. I’ve knitted a few DK-weight sweaters using it and I rather like it.

When I last wrote about this garment, I wasn’t too sure about it at all. I am pleased to report that I loved knitting it, forgave the yarn its quirks as I did manage to get a number of balls that didn’t have any obvious flaws, and I galloped through the sleeves like a maniac who lives on the opposite side of the globe to the famous Sleeve Island where knitters often find themselves becalmed. I knitted this at the shorter of the two lengths offered for the body because I am both entirely short (5’2″) and short-waisted. The ribbing design on the body made the knitting interesting and works well in the worn garment.

I decided to make two modifications to the pattern. Firstly, I worked the centre 10 stitches all the way up the sleeves in the 2 x 2 rib pattern featured on the body. I think this worked exceptionally well. I also modified the neckband to feature a rolled edge.

The neckband is knitted as a separate piece, and I have to admit to making a silly mistake when attaching it on Sunday. Fitted correctly, the two ends of the strip of knitting are attached to the front of the neckline then the band is attached up the fronts and round the back of the neck. For some silly reason, I attached it with the middle of the band at the front and then joined the two ends at the back of the neck, giving a more scoop-neck finish to the garment. I realised my mistake as I had completely finished attaching it and was walking into my bedroom to try it on. It didn’t look bad. I spent a good few minutes trying to convince myself that “good enough is done”, then sat down and took the neckband off and re-worked it correctly. For some of us, good enough is never done.

And that’s it – a speedy, enjoyable knit and a garment I’m keen to wear as the weather cools. Currently on my needles is yet another version of my all-time favourite cardigan pattern – Rimini by the lovely, lovely Martin Storey.  This is taking advantage of a sweater quantity of 4-ply Sirdar Country Style yarn (45% acrylic/40% Bri-Nylon/15% wool) kindly donated to me by my good friend Alex W. She wasn’t going to use it on account of it being a vile colour, which it sort-of is, but it’s a colour that is everywhere this autumn and it is growing on me. We’ll have to see if I can actually carry off an entire garment in this shade!

Happy knitting, folks!


Is it just me, or is anyone else getting a vague Star Trek vibe from these photos? Something to do with that neckline and the red and gold-chartreuse-mustard colourways.


 

A skein of two halves

So, I start with the end; in this case a finished object.

Bright Charcoal socks ready to wear

Quite a small one, but one pair of socks completed and ready to wear.  The Colinette Jitterbug has, as usual, knitted up nicely into thick, springy socks.  I love the colourway which I think is like chalk markings on a blackboard.  Or, thus it is for one and a half socks, because my skein of yarn had a join just under half the way in and the two ends did not entirely match.

When I wound the skein into a ball, of course, I found the knot and decided at that point to make two separate balls.  I knit the first sock out of the slightly larger ball which was the second half of the skein, and the colours were nice and even throughout.  When I came to knit the second sock I started on the slightly smaller ball, which was the first half of the skein, and it was immediately apparent that there was a lot less colour in this part.

There are less colours on this part

At that point, I unpicked and rewound the ball to try working from the other end, but with the same result.  The fabric was more substantially grey than on the first sock.

However, I still had enough of the first ball left to knit down the leg of the sock, and joined in the second ball to work the heel and foot, reasoning that since that will be mainly within my shoe it won’t matter too much.  The difference can be seen comparing the soles of the socks.  It certainly seems like some colours are missing, leaving long stretches of greys broken with the pale creamy white.

Our soles – shows the difference between the two parts of the skein

I think I was unlucky to get a skein with a bit of a flaw to it, but these things happen and I am happy with the finished socks.  Most importantly, the quality of the wool is the same throughout, just the dyeing was a bit off.

Plans

I decided to make some firm plans for my knitting over the next few months.  I do this every so often when I need or want to be more productive and I certainly find it helps to set myself targets.

For the current month, I have set myself the target of knitting one pair of socks (done) and completing the grey Rimini cardigan.  I feel at the current point that this is achievable, but certainly not easy.  I have three weeks and almost a complete side of the front, two sleeves, button bands and collar to knit, plus the time for piecing it together.  Knowing how bogged down I can get with sleeves, I wonder if I have given myself too much to do, especially as I’m back at work from tomorrow so my productivity is likely to take a nosedive.

However, I am aware that I will let things drift if I don’t give myself some target to aim at – I experienced this with the Laccaria cardigan which lingered on the needles for what seemed like forever.

In the longer term, I am going to try and knit one pair of socks a month for the next few months.  I can churn out the simple, plain socks that I like fairly speedily.  I am aware that since I wear my hand knitted socks every day, there are likely to be several that bite the dust at the same time, and therefore I need to be prepared well in advance with some new ones to include in the rotation.  I’m keen on this plan because I intend to use up some of the wool I’ve got stashed for garments over the next few months and this will be much easier if I can treat myself to a skein of sock yarn each month to keep things feeling fresh.

Speaking of feeling fresh, if I intend to feel that way in the morning I’d better get myself off to bed.

Hope your knitting, or chosen field of endeavour, has gone well this Bank Holiday weekend.