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.

 

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Crazee Cowl/Small Steps

Fouth colour
Almost done with the fourth colour

My Mama Weer All Crazee Cowl is growing slowly. The British heat wave has deadened my pace which, let’s face it, is pretty much a crawl on this project even under conducive weather conditions. It’s not that I don’t love the project, because I do, but 300 stitches of K1 P1 rib in sock yarn on 3.00mm needles makes each row a labour of love. All I can say is thank heaven for Charley of Noodle Soup Yarns because gazing in adoration at the colours in the yarn is what will see me through this project.

Next up I will be moving from the muted purples and browns of the Tickled Plum colourway onto the silvery sparkly purple party named Festive.

Fifth colour
Fifth colour ready to go

You know that happy dance that Snoopy does? Well, that will be me when I hit this colour!

Small Steps

It struck me on Thursday morning that it doesn’t take massive gains to turn the day’s mood from slightly negative to slightly positive. Getting to the post office to find the item you’re posting isn’t going to be as expensive as you expected; finding even one job vacancy you like the sound of and that is in a location you are able to get to; the Met Office promising that temperatures will drop come Saturday. These are the tiny gains which mean a lot. Sometimes it is best to put your head down and just take the next small step, rather than constantly looking at a horizon which never seems to get any closer.

Hope you are all keeping well and those in the southern hemisphere aren’t getting too fed up with the constant “it’s too hot” chant coming from us in the north!

 

Why, what and wow!

13-02-19 Street Style
Why, oh why?

There are three things on my mind today, aside from the usual. First, why has the fashion world forgotten that legs reach to the top of the heel whilst arms finish at the wrist? The ‘street style’ shot above from Copenhagen Fashion Week illustrates the point – sleeves too long, trousers too short. I can see that it is a new twist and makes a fairly standard trousers-jumper-coat combination scream “2019”, but it is not doing it in a good way. In fact, it looks downright silly. The only current trend missing from this mix is the ragged hem which is on 93% of trousers… sorry, we are not allowed to have trousers anymore, I should have said ankle-grazers. Which is very apt, because have you ever grazed your ankle? That’s how miserable you will feel wearing these trousers.

13-02-19 Gaudi
What I’m working on

Yes, Gaudi sat quietly for a couple of weeks and then on Monday I suddenly had the urge to work on it again. That little break has made all the difference. I wasn’t happy with how the raglan sleeve shaping was working which I think was down to the tweak I did with the colourwork, so before I put it away I unpicked to the beginning of the colourwork section. Picking it up again, I have gone back to how the pattern is written and am using a separate ball of the pale yarn to do each side of the raglan shaping. Whilst this is a bit counter-intuitive to me, and it means working with 3 balls of yarn for this section and untwisting them regularly, I am much happier with it and enjoying working on it again. I still love this cardigan.

13-02-19 Minis
Just…. wow!

Today I have been winding the set of Noodle Soup Yarns mini-skeins, which I received at Christmas, into balls so they are ready to knit when the mood strikes me. As I wound each ball, I was able to fully appreciate the gorgeous dyeing; these are truly lovely yarns. I also indulged in a little game of ‘what would I call this colour if I was naming it?’ I think the turquoise and red ball in the centre front of my picture I’d call ‘Helix Nebula’ (real name is ‘Paradise’). The pinky-purply ball to the left of it would be ‘Perfection’ because it is possibly the most perfect colourway I can imagine (real name is ‘Heartbreaker’). Lastly, the brown ball nestled in the middle to my mind is called ‘1973’ (real name is ‘Coffee’). Kudos to Charley for the dye-work on these yarns, and I can assure her that the mini-skeins are doing their work well – I now crave a full skein of every single one, although I must note these exact shades might not be currently available.

I hope you’re having fun whatever you are doing, and that you’ve made it through to the middle of the week unscathed.


 

Finished object – Kingfisher in Fangorn Forest Socks

 

 

I finished knitting my socks on Sunday and I’m really pleased with them. This is the first project I have both cast on and finished in 2019, and my second completed item this year, which is admirable progress.

First off, I want to say how very happy I was with the yarn for this project. It is Noodle Soup Yarns’ MCN Luxe sock yarn in the Spooky Smog colourway from last autumn. This is a 3-ply sock yarn comprising 80% superwash Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% nylon. It comes in at 350m/382 yards per 100g skein, which indicates that it is rather thicker than a standard sock yarn and that has resulted in a nice squooshy fabric. It can be machine-washed at 30º which is how I generally wash my socks anyway, although I understand they may survive longer if they are hand-washed.

The colour of the yarn is just amazing, deep and rich, and slightly brooding. It is not quite my all-time favourite colour combination, but it’s close. My favourite combination is one I think of as “bruise” – greens and blues and pinky-purples and a tiny bit more washed-out than this deep shade. I want to note that whilst I was knitting I didn’t find the colour coming off on my hands, an experience I have had with some other hand-dyed yarns in deep colourways. Personally, I love how the colours have ended up spiralling around these socks.

The pattern is just a plain old vanilla sock using the instructions I have had since I first started knitting socks in the “olden days” (this covers anything more than ten years/two jobs ago). I have tweaked it by replacing the standard wedge toe with the “barn toe” as I find this slightly deeper variation suits my feet well. I made these socks a good length, as befits thicker socks that will be welcome in colder weather, and I ended up with 26g of the wool left over. This should make toes for at least one, maybe two more pairs of socks.

I always knit my socks using four double-point 20cm needles. I cast on 60 stitches, with 15 stitches on each of two needles for the back of the leg and foot, and 30 stitches on a third needle for the front. This makes it a cinch to know exactly where you are on a round of knitting, and I find it makes working the sock very easy. Probably because I am so used to knitting this way, when I do try to use circular needles and a magic loop method, or even the two circular needles method, it just seems unnecessarily complex.

So now all that is left is to wash them (I always wash my knits on completion) and pop them in the sock drawer. Should be ready for the cold snap we’re expecting over the weekend.

Next up, it’s back to the Gaudi jumper, which in my mind is getting more and more modified as the days go by. I need to complete the back of it, which shouldn’t take too long now the socks are done.


 

A cast-on, an update, and a modification

07-01-19 sock progress
Plain vanilla sock using yarn dyed by Noodle Soup Yarns of Norwich, UK

THE CAST-ON

On New Year’s Day I finished the socks I had been working on seemingly forever, and I put away my sock-knitting project bag so that I could concentrate on the Gaudi cardigan. Then my sister appeared wearing the beautiful hat she had whipped up in a trice from the Noodle Soup Yarns skein that I gave her for Christmas and I suddenly knew I had to cast on a sock with the skein I had gifted myself at the same time. Although this skein is named “Spooky Smog, as I wound the wool it made me think of a kingfisher in a deep, dark wood, so I am calling these socks “Kingfisher in Fangorn Forest”. Thus far, it has to be said, the kingfisher itself is absent, but I am enjoying the forest nonetheless.

This is my standard sock pattern, 60 stitches on 2.5mm KnitPro Zing needles and the yarn base is a 3-ply 80/10/10 mix of Superwash Merino/Cashmere/Nylon. It is a tiny bit thicker than a lot of sock yarns, and I am loving the fabric that this is creating. It is very squooshy. Noodle Soup’s dyeing is very luscious and, even though this is a really saturated colourway, there is no dye coming out on my hands as I knit.

I made good progress after casting-on yesterday, and have turned the heel of the first sock and started working on the foot. One thing I experimented with on my previous pair of socks was using what Interweave Knits refer to as a Barn Toe and I was very pleased with the way this fitted. I will use the same method for these socks.

GAUDI UPDATE AND MODIFICATION

07-01-19 gaudi progress
Gaudi progress as at 7th January 2019

Here is my progress to date on the back of the Gaudi cardigan. I am so pleased with how this is knitting up, although I am debating back and forth with myself as to whether or not I like the yarn (Rowan Felted Tweed DK). So, on the plus side, I love the colours, I love the tweedy effect and I love the feel of the fabric created. The only downside is that I don’t like the alpaca content and that’s something I struggle with regardless of the brand of yarn. I just don’t like alpaca, even a tiny bit. I hate the constant barrage of what look like dog-hairs that come off it as I work and I don’t see that it adds anything of value to the feel of the yarn. However, I am reserving judgement until the project is finished, and it is not something that is going to prevent me from wearing and adoring the cardigan.

Now, to the modification. I remember the good old days, back in December 2018, when I was all gung-ho about how I was going to knit Gaudi exactly as it was written. However, time has moved on and I am a more experienced person now, so I have changed how the colourwork ‘yoke’ portion is knitted. The pattern is written to utilise slipped stitches and I did a few rows in this way without too much trouble. However, the way the raglan shaping is constructed meant that I was stranding the yarn across the back and it seemed to make more sense to me to do the colourwork similarly to how you would do a Fairisle pattern. I ripped back and started working it this way, and I am really liking it – both how it looks and how pleasurable it is to work. Here’s a close-up:

07-01-19 gaudi close-up
Modified colourwork section

I know this is less three-dimensional than it would be with slipped stitches, but it appeals to me.

I hope your knitting, or any other craft pursuit, is going well and that you are making progress towards any goals you have set.


 

Late autumn in Norwich

11-11-18 Chapelfield
Chapelfield Gardens, Norwich

We have hit late autumn now and the leaves are steadily departing from the trees, a good number of them are gathering by my garage for some reason. The days are mainly bright and sunny, and temperatures remain good which has been the pattern in recent years. Norwich is lovely in the autumn.

A couple of weekends ago I walked into the city and had a look around a craft fair at St. Andrew’s Hall – this is a lovely venue and used for anything from gigs (a high point being a visit by The Stylistics a couple of years ago), to regular record/antique/craft fairs. I went to this particular fair to see the stall of Noodle Soup Yarns who are dyeing some lovely colourways right here in Norwich – hurrah for local craftspeople. The whole fair was a great place to shop for Christmas gifts and I will make a point of keeping an eye out for future dates as I would happily go again.

Sticking with the yarn theme, last Thursday I enjoyed a couple of hours at my local yarn store, Norfolk Yarn, which has become one of Rowan’s new Flagship Stores. You can can read more about this venture of Rowan’s, and about some of the inaugural stores, in their Autumn Newsletter. Norfolk Yarn is a very good shop which used to be located in a residential area of the city, but moved into the city centre ‘Lanes‘ a few years ago. They cater for the knitting, crocheting, spinning and weaving communities and are exactly what you would want from a local yarn shop. They offer classes, knit and natter, a good range of yarns which are a bit more classy than the offerings at Hobbycraft and similar retailers.

The event on Thursday afternoon was to launch them as a Flagship Store and there was a representative from Rowan on hand to give advice about colour and patterns. There were several completed garments to try on – I tried a chunky winter sweater knit in Cocoon yarn because I wanted to check if it would overwhelm me. In fact, it fitted a treat and looked good. It was, of course, cosy and warm like a big hug – I would definitely consider knitting something similar to wear as a casual alternative to a jacket on autumn and spring walks and cycle rides.

Rebecca and Christine, who run the shop, had laid on a yummy display of home-baked cakes and there was tea and chatter as we rested either before or after filling our baskets with yarny goodness. I opted to shop first, and eat after. I bought yarn to knit a cardigan from one of Rowan’s latest booklets which I picked up as I walked into the shop, falling in love with the very first pattern the minute I opened it then realising it was a Martin Storey pattern so of course I was going to want it. Unusually for me, I want to knit it exactly as shown in the book so I bought the same colours. This is now put away as I have promised myself it will be my Christmas cast-on.

I am full of admiration for the lovely folks at Norfolk Yarn for this new chapter in their story and I wish them well going forwards.

Sunday was, of course, Remembrance Day and I went to the wreath-laying, service and parade in the city centre. It was raining first thing, but it had cleared by the time everyone was gathering to watch.

11-11-18 Gathering
An ominous sun as we gather at the War Memorial – 11th November 2018

It is a family tradition to go to the Remembrance Parade; my dad used to take part in it after he retired from work, and my daughter was brought up with this being a regular part of life. She now comes along with her husband and son.

I wore the two engagement rings which belonged to my grandmother (Oma) and one of her sisters, as I do every year to honour the generation which lost family members and friends. This was particularly significant this year as we marked 100 years from the end of that devastating conflict.

And so, November has been a month or looking forwards and looking back, making new acquaintances and reflecting with family and old friends, all of which is good and proper.