Archives for the month of: February, 2014

This is a delayed post on a recently FO, but yay what a FO!!!

At the beginning of the year I heard about Ysolda’s new pattern Follow Your Arrow; a choose-your-own-adventure style shawl. Shawls are so popular in the knitting world, and I have made a few, but they are not my project of choice. However, I do love Ysolda’s patterns; always well-written, comprehensive, and beautifully designed.

I needed something to focus on during the winter blues, and this promised 5 different clues over 5 weeks, with a Valentines Day finish. Perfect. I chose two skeins of Dream in Color Smooshy that I had picked up in a destash. I have a major yarn crush on their Classy worsted weight, and whilst I didn’t love this 4ply quite as much, it was nice to work with (plus has great names; they yellow/green I used is called Strange Harvest).

This was pretty advanced knitting for me, and even though I tried to pick the easiest clue each time, I needed to concentrate lots. I consider myself to be a skilled knitter, but my personality doesn’t lend itself to the accuracy demanded by lace. Still, I made only one minor error (which annoyingly is visible in my photo!) and am very pleased with the result. My clue choices were BABBA.

wpid-IMG_20140216_102246.jpg

Another learning curve for me was proper blocking. It’s something I am getting better at over time, although I still plan to take the fabulous Craftsy’s course on the subject at some point. I think I did a good job, and it’s certainly an impressive size.

wpid-IMAG0225_1.jpg

The final rows were completed during one of those wonderful extended Agatha Christie dramas on daytime ITV, hence the Miss Maple tag. The colours are so lovely, and reminded me of the the Maple Treeway course on MarioKart!

640px-Mkwmapletreeway-1-

Ultimately, it hasn’t inspired me to make more lace shawls, since I would have limited use for the finished objects, but I’m glad I had a crack at this. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the pattern to anyone, and will continue to seek out more of Ysolda’s fabulous designs.

Advertisements

wpid-IMG_20140222_110238.jpg

As part of my involvement in the 2014 Ravellenic Games, I set myself the challenge of knitting an Eliza Day Tam to enter into the Hat Halfpipe event.

I’ve wanted to knit this for aaaaaaages. Firstly, it’s named after a song by Nick Cave featuring Kylie Minogue.

I am a long time Kylie fan, but have never found the opportunity to knit something inspired by her before; as I imagine knitted hotpants would either sag or chafe. Secondly, it really is just a bee-oot-iful pattern, and very well presented. Thirdly and finally, I am really trying to nail this colourwork thing.

I’ve done a few stranded/fairisle pieces, and although I love the look of it in other people’s finished projects, I’ve always been ambivalent about my own efforts. Even my blocked work never looks that good, and as a ‘thrower’ the whole process always seems to take too long. I did try intarsia once, but I can’t talk about it without reopening the wound. I still have dreams where I’m caught up in a mass of tangled bobbins *shudder*

I’ve been around long enough on the Rav scene to pick up tips about colourwork; some through targeted reading/Youtube videos, and some just through general exposure, or ‘craftosis’ as I’ve just decided to call it. I know that it’s quicker to knit with a yarn in each hand, knitting English AND Continental. And I know, specifically from this lovely blog post, that the yarn carried underneath will appear more dominant in the finished work.

So I set out on this project with the intention of employing the above two methods.

The twohanded knitting thing
Reader, it is a REVELATION! This hat took less than 48 hours to make, it just whizzed along. Continental knitting was fairly new to me, and I felt a little cack-handed at first, but once it clicked it was great! In fact, I’m planning to do a little more practice on this style. When I am teaching I often get asked about hand placing and technique, and I’d like to be able to demonstrate different methods more proficiently. And I will always do it this way when working with different colours in the future. I do think it messed with my tension a little. One should always keep a relaxed tension with colourwork, to stop the floats pulling on the finished fabric, but I’m worried I was just downright slack in parts. I’m relying on the Magic of Wool to sort itself out over time. It’s on of the main reasons I love natural fibres so much; their ability to settle into something regular looking, no matter how dodgy my tension.

The dominant yarn thing

Erm…….yeah.

Well, I did try, but I think the main thing working against me here was the yarn choice. I used Noro Kureyon Sock as my contrast colour, which is the recommended yarn. I entered into this with a healthy measure of scepticism. I know what people say about Noro. About it’s erroneous vegetable matter, the long repeats of undesirable sludge colours, and most importantly considering this project; its thick and thin nature. But I figured I should be fine. I’m fan of Noro’s rusticity, even if I do rip out lengths of those canal water hues, and besides, the pattern images of the hat were so GORGEOUS (a few people have finished projects on Ravelry), it must be fine.

It was not fine.

When this yarn is thin, it is SO thin that you just can’t bloody see it. And it goes thin a lot. To the point where it just broke a couple of times. My main yarn was Rowan 4ply, not the Debbie Bliss Rialto suggested, but surely its not that far out? It drowned the Noro, despite being the subservient (possible not the appropriate antonym of dominant here) yarn.

So, in a move reflective of my general ‘Let’s Not Fret and Just Have a Bash’ life philosophy, I wondered if I was doing something wrong and swapped hands. It didn’t look any better so I swapped back. After that, every time I returned from a coffee/loo/work and parental duties break I just picked up the yarns in any order, a bit despondent and keen to finish.
wpid-IMAG0222_1.jpg
The finished object is just alright. I will wear it happily, its just not the masterpiece I was hoping for. The colours don’t ‘pop’, and the fabric itself isn’t sitting as smoothly as I’d like. I could do with pulling the centre finishing a little tighter too. It’s been a useful experience though…….
wpid-IMAG0219_1.jpg
Things I have learned
– the continental knitting thing. Just Wow.
– Blocking makes a HUGE difference. Check out this before pic
wpid-IMAG0206.jpg
I recently blocked a lace shawl pretty successfully too (my blocking skills have been a long time coming on). Watch out for that post soon.
– I’m not sure I LOVE colourwork. I thought I did, but even with my new technique its fairly finicky. I think I will incorporate patches of it into future projects, but my plans for an complete fairisle cardigan are currently shelved.
– Don’t use Noro sock for colourwork.
– Green and Brown are SO my colours.
– Knit more Patricia Martin patterns

So there we are. Entered for the aforementioned Ravellenic event, and double dipped for my Knitting Goddess Movie Star KAL. February was Audrey Hepburn, so I went for the Eliza/My Fair Lady link.

redemption*whisper*

I am typing quietly just to introduce my latest favourite FO without fanfare or fuss. Sneaking it in through the back door. See, I don’t want to tempt fate. Last time I loved a cardigan as much as this, I shouted and celebrated. And then felted it.
Since that episode, I’ve been wary of entering into another long term project with ‘natural’ (ie not superwash) wool. But when I saw some Wool of the Andes on a Ravelry destash, I couldn’t help myself. And such sheepy yarn WANTS to be a cabled garment. It really does.

My Chimney Fire cardigan began life on a cold and boring pre-Christmas day. The same day a colleague and I built a stationery robot. Over the next few weeks, I beavered away. The pattern itself was a dream, SO well-written. I hurried the sleeves (because by then, the end’s in sight, right?) and forgot the shaping. It was a tough decision to rip back and re-knit, but I’m glad I did.

So here she is, my Redemption cardigan. Lovely, isn’t she?

Just, you know, keep it quiet.

It doesn’t happen often, but last week I met a yarn that made me want to cry.

Rowan’s Alpaca Colour is softer than a kitten’s backside, and snuggling up to it in House of Fraser bought an impromptu lump to my throat.

I know, I’m odd. Of course, being Rowan, I wanted to cry even harder when I saw the price. £7.95! Although reasonable given the quality and fibre content of this yarn, 100% baby alpaca, I knew I was destined for a project of the accessory rather than garment variety. That’s fine by me though. I love alpaca fibre but it is tremendously warm. Despite living in chilly Britain, I spend most of my time either inside or outside walking, and find I get hot fairly quickly. I found a beautiful project by Dayana on Ravelry which was almost enough to convince me that a jumper would be a good idea, but for now I thought a little pair of mittens would suffice.

 


These took slightly less than a whole skein, I have maybe 2 metres left so it was tight! The yarn has a very subtle long colour repeat. This was more obvious on certain shades in the shop, but on the green was not very noticeable, so I decided to disregard it when knitting, given my yardage restrictions. It shows up much more on this photo than it does in real life, actually. The Café Au Lait pattern was fab; intuitive and clearly written. This was going to be my first entry into the Ravellenic games, but given the hideous weather, I decided I couldn’t wait! They took just two evenings to complete.

As for wearability, they are DIVINE! The yarn is a single and only lightly spun for softness, so I’m not sure about wear and tear, as the halo is already pretty impressive. But it feels like I am wearing CLOUDS ON MY HANDS, and certainly made my half hour wait for the bus this morning more pleasant. Now planning a second mini project with this stuff. Maybe a Calorimetry?

 

Very happy bunny.

 

 

 

It’s been a race to the finish this month.

At the start of the year I joined in eagerly with another monthly KAL set up through the fabulous Knitting Goddess group on Ravelry. The theme for 2014 is ‘Movie Stars’; each month we get given a name and have to knit something with a (quite often very tenous) link. January was Helena Bonham Carter.

I wasn’t up for the commitment to a large item this month, so opted for something quick and simple. My favourite HBC character is Bellatrix Lestrange from the Harry Potter films, so I did a little costume research

I liked the look of the gloves and Ysolda’s Opera Gloves fitted the bill perfectly; her patterns are sublime and easy enough even for my SAD winter-fugged mind. The fact that I can’t imagine ever wearing the things seemed by the by….

The knitting of the gloves took no time at all, but all the others bits have took me forever to get sorted, hence why I am posting on the 31st. I have had ribbon issues, buying the wrong width, then the wrong length. Then there was the blocking: Artesano alpaca + winter temperatures = damp yarn for DAYS. Finally, I even had to think about painting my nails for the photos. CHORE. Honestly, it’s all I can do to brush my teeth at this time of year.

wpid-IMG_20140201_233611.jpg

Still, finished they are, and I’m pretty pleased with them. The lovely ladies at Knit Night reckon they are wearable. They would match perfectly with a beret I made in the same yarn.