Pink Ice-Cream

First Jumper

Uh-oh, it’s the 1970s again! Just look at those flares! I wouldn’t be surprised to find a platform sole hiding just out of shot.

Here I am with my lovely Mum at the seaside (I think it’s the Isle of Wight in which case it’s the summer of 1977) and I’m wearing the first jumper I knitted myself after I left school.

Along with my sisters, I was a keen knitter from the age of 5 when I learned the basics from our mum. I can remember knitting dolls’ clothes and scarves, but I don’t remember actually knitting myself any garments as a child or young adult. A little later I learned to crochet (I think it was our oldest sister who taught us that) and I remember crocheting tank tops in the early 1970s, but then who doesn’t? When I left school at 16, there was a lovely long summer before I started working in the autumn, and it was during that summer that I picked up the knitting needles and, really, never stopped.

This jumper was incredibly simple, just a basic v-neck pattern with set-in sleeves and I am pretty sure it was knitted in a man-made yarn. However, it fitted nicely and was warm and comfortable and, really, doesn’t that sum up what a hand-knitted garment should be?

This is the first of my ‘historical’ projects which is inspiring me to make a revisit. On this one, it’s a combination of the colour and the simplicity of the garment – that vibe of being a step up from a basic cotton sweatshirt – which is inspiring me. I have been yearning to knit something in an ice-cream pink for so long and I think this year will have to be the year.

I have been working away over the past couple of weeks setting up an archive of completed knitting projects on this website and, if you care to take a look at any, you can find it linked on my main menu. It is my intention to log new projects as I begin them so I end up with a proper archive of the things I knit. I do have a number which I made but didn’t originally bother to log, so I may go back and record them if I can find photos and details of yarns and patterns. In time, I might also add a page of stashed yarn, although I might be being a bit ambitious there.

Well, that’s all I wanted to say, and now the weekend is peeping over the horizon. I hope you’ve got nice things planned, and I will see you back here on Monday, I hope, for more chatter about inconsequential things.

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The new and the old

03-07-19 Progress
My current progress – not much to write home about

Well, hello there, welcome to Wednesday and my latest knitting update. As I intimated last week, there has been a slowdown in progress because I was engaged in ‘proper’ work last week, by which I mean a paying job carried on outside my home. One week was more than enough, though, and I am back to trying to puzzle out how to generate income without having to sit on a customer service desk for seven and a half hours a day, whilst hoping that other job opportunities will come along that involve methodical ‘back-office’ work needing someone with limitless patience when it comes to paper-handling, plus general plod-ability.

However, progress there has been, despite the overall rising of temperatures here in East Anglia, UK. Whilst I have only put about two rows on the Crazee Now cowl, I am a good halfway up the back of the Cable Front Cardigan which, thankfully, grows apace without me putting in a horrific amount of effort. I think this is on track to be in my wardrobe well ahead of the chilly autumn days which, it has struck me this week, can’t come soon enough for me. I don’t generally enjoy summer a lot, being an indoors rather than outdoors kind-of girl, a cooked vegetables rather than salad type, a opter for rhubarb crumble and custard rather than strawberries and cream. Wait, I need a short break here to fantasise about steamed jam roly-poly!

Okay, now that’s out of my system, I am going to write a little about an old project because there isn’t so much to say about my current knitting. The jumper I’m going to write about dated back to 2008 and it was one I really loved and enjoyed wearing. A plain, mid-blue, v-necked, long-sleeved jumper, it shouldn’t have been anything special, but it was one of the knits that stands out in my memory as just being eminently wearable.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Jumper modelled on completion by 2008-me!

For me, one of the most successful things about this jumper was the yarn – “Grace” by Louisa Harding which is sadly gone from this place*. This was a DK-weight yarn, 50% Silk/50% Merino wool and it knitted, washed and wore like a dream. Initially it was sold in solid colours then a range of multi-coloured options were introduced. This blue was the only batch I ever bought and I kick myself for that. In 2010 I had a sweater’s quantity of a Rowan yarn with a similar fibre content, but found that one to be very splitty, and not anywhere near as pleasant to use. I started a jumper with it, but never finished, and in the end I sent the majority of the yarn to a charity shop, realising I would never want to use it.

I think the pattern for the jumper was from a pattern book that accompanied the yarn, although I’m sure I modified it by keeping the neckline very simple, bordered only by a minimal crochet edge. I remember the yarn being on the thick side for a double-knitting weight and the fabric pleasingly dense, with the silk content providing a softness and feeling of luxury but not giving it a drape as such. I know this jumper was part of my regular rotation of knitted garments for a good number of years, and that the fabric stood up to wearing and washing very well indeed.

Thinking about it, I could really do with a good, serviceable blue jumper in my winter wardrobe. I seem to have edged towards the teal end of the the blue shades over recent years, but a good mid-blue is eternally useful. Mind you, my plans for winter involve a couple of jumpers in icy shades. Perhaps soon I will treat you to revisit of the first jumper I knitted when I took up the needles again in 1976 after a bit of a hiatus during my early teens. If that seems like a non-sequiteur, it isn’t – the jumper was an icy pink shade and is the inspiration for the ones I am thinking of knitting this winter.

So, that’s all for now, folks! I hope your week is going well, and you are making progress on your plans and schemes. I need to head into the kitchen and sort out the vegetables I have been batch-cooking this morning; get them into the freezer, keeping out a serving to do vegetable rice for my tea.


* “Gone from this place” is a line used in the 2002 movie adaptation of HG Wells’ “The Time Machine” when describing Eloi who have been taken and eaten by the Morlocks, which is probably what happens to all those yarns we love when they stop being produced! If only I had bought the printed copy of “The Time Machine” that I was looking at yesterday I would be able to check if it’s actually used in the original text. Alas, I was not in a forward-thinking mood and now I would need a time machine to put it right!


 

Knits are progressing

21-01-19 gaudi
Gaudi cardigan by Martin Storey

Since finishing my socks, I have returned to my two works in progress, and things are moving along, albeit a little slowly,

First up, it’s Gaudi by Martin Storey. This is still the back and progress on the colourwork part is picking up again now. I set it aside completely when I was knitting the socks, so in total I’ve only finished up the first diamond pattern since the previous update. I’ve got another 30 rows to complete the back, but they are diminishing in length with the raglan shoulder shaping. Then I will have to decide whether or not I should make a major modification to the pattern and knit it as a jumper, or continue with the original cardigan design. I am really craving jumpers right now, but I know a cardigan would be very practical. I have a lot of cardigans and only two jumpers, but I know I would wear a cardigan through the warmer weather and I’m not so sure about a jumper. I am taking heart from the fact that whichever way I jump, it’s not going to be wrong!

21-01-19 old gold
Same old gold yarn; different project

Although as you know I am not at all a person to have more than one garment project on the go at once, I am breaking my rule and using the old, old-gold yarn to knit a jumper, and this one is definitely going to be a jumper, no chance it will turn into a cardigan. Of course, the yarn was going to be a cardigan, I still have the back and half the front sitting here to prove it, but the yearning for a jumper has conquered me. This is another pattern from the 1,000 Sweaters book I have written about before and I am holding the 4-ply yarn double resulting in a slightly heavy DK-weight. It’s a soothing knit with those simple textured furrows. I didn’t want anything too busy because the colour of the yarn is going to be the main highlight, but I did want something just a little more adventurous than a simple stocking-stitch. This pattern has a turned hem and no waist shaping, set-in sleeves and I’m going to do a crew-neck just because it’s warmer than a v-neck at this time of year.

Whilst knitting, I have been catching up with podcasts or listening to golden oldies – the latest addition to my collection being a Glen Campbell compilation album. By the time he gets to Phoenix I’ll have finished the back of my jumper!


 

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┬ájustifications. 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?


 

Delving into history

Last night I found myself ambling through the blog posts I wrote before the long break. As I was wearing my Laccaria cardigan and reading the post about completing that cardigan, I felt inspired to photograph my current ‘wardrobe’ of knitted garments and analyse how old they were. This has been very interesting because researching the dates (which meant going back through my computer records and my hand-written notebook) has really brought home to me what a fallow period I fell into with my knitting (not to mention my general creativity) in that period when I wasn’t blogging.

So, following the photos from top to bottom and left to right, we find:-

Turin – Martin Storey for Jaeger – JC Rennie Supersoft Lambswool – August 2010
The oldest of my handknits which I still wear, this yarn has worn like a dream (no wonder I loved it so much), and this cardigan never fails me.

Square neck cardigan – Rowan Studio 11 – The Uncommon Thread BFL DK Cumulus – August 2013
Another absolute favourite which I have worn and worn. The colour is a little bit more blue than the photo manages to show, and the yarn is just gorgeous. It has pilled a little, but that can be forgiven when I consider how much I have worn and washed this baby.

Sleeveless tank – 1000 Sweaters – JC Rennie Supersoft Lambswool – June 2018
One of my more recent knits, but using up the trusty old JC Rennie wool, this is the top I am wearing today. I wasn’t sure when I made it how much I would wear it and the answer is, not a lot so far, but I still enjoy it and it’s useful to have as a layering piece.

Rib detail v-neck – 1000 Sweaters – Willow & Lark Ramble DK – October 2018
Most recent completed project, and I am so happy with this one. I could have made a better yarn choice and I don’t feel that this will be as long-lasting as some of my garments, but I can’t fault my choice of colour or pattern at all.

Mari – Martin Storey for Rowan – Bergere de France Ideal – February 2018
This was always going to be an oddity in my wardrobe because the yarn is not the sort of thing I usually buy. It is two strands of Ideal held together – one in what I affectionately term ‘Radioactive Red’ and one in cream. I ordered the red and started one or two things in it, but the colour was a bit offputting. In the end I ordered the cream to try and take the edge off a bit, and knitted this aran-weight jumper by Martin Storey on the basis that if nothing else it would be a warm layer to wear around the house. As it is, I wear it outside for cycle rides and walks when I don’t want to wear a jacket and I really rather like it. It is what I would term a ‘sloppy joe’. The pattern is actually written as a polo-neck but I just did a little stand-up crew collar which works very well.

Laccaria – Berroco – JC Rennie Supersoft Lambswool – 2012
Back to the older knits and this one has seen a goodly amount of wear. I was on the brink of disposing of it earlier in the year because I had got too fat to wear it, but my diet has brought it back into frequent use, although I tend to wear it mainly indoors. The only real downside is the 3/4 length sleeves which are great in summer, but not so good now the chillier days have arrived. Also, I need to fix the second bottonhole from the neck because the button won’t stay done up.

Chevron border cardigan – 1000 Sweaters – Cascade 220 Heathers – January 2018
I bought this yarn to knit Gullveig by Norah Gaughan for Berroco and one day I will knit that beauty, but the charted patterning was too much for my addled brain when I tried it. Instead, I knitted up this lovely worstead-weight caridgan when I needed a quick warm jumper project. It fits in exactly the same niche as the next cardigan and I love both of them.

Burr – Veronique Avery for Brooklyn Tweed – JC Rennie Supersoft Lambswool + Donegal Tweed – March 2016
This pattern sat on my must-knit queue for a long while and I just love the finished object. I omitted the waist shaping and worked a simple band rather than the collar in the original pattern. I love the little shaped rib details at the waist and cuff, and the eyelet rows at the shoulders – these little details just elevate the whole design. I have worn this so much as it is the ideal outer layer over a dress during autumn and spring, then as a cardigan during the colder months.

As I said, looking back through my notes has made me aware of the failures as well as the successes, and I am shocked by the number of projects I have started then abandoned because for some reason they were not working. Much of it is poor yarn choice, and I am afraid that may always be the case as I am easily seduced by yarns that don’t turn out to be as good as I hope. Then I lost sight of my creativity for a long while (actually, lost sight of myself which is even more dispiriting) and I am extremely thankful that I have found it again this year. In fact, whilst I’ve been writing this blog post I have been simultaneously writing down notes about possible patterns to knit or re-knit – I have a Bergere de France pattern book full of cabled knits that are singing to me at the top of their voices. I did try one of these patterns before, but the yarn wasn’t well suited to it and, anyway, I wasn’t the right shape for it at the time.

I hope you have enjoyed delving into my past, and seeing my current hand-knit wardrobe. Have you thought of doing this yourself? I can thoroughly recommend it.