Archives for posts with tag: Downton Abbey

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A glance at this blog would have you believing that I don’t knit anymore.

Whilst it’s true I have taken it easy over the summer months, as I can’t bear the sweaty squeakiness of hot yarn, knitting is still something of a daily occurrence in my life. I have rattled out quite a few items recently: baby bits for new arrivals, a couple of pairs of vanilla socks, and hats. Lots and lots of hats.

My home is a hat Bermuda Triangle. My Ravelry project page tells me I have completed lots of hats, a handful of which are very wearable, but since casting off they have just disappeared. I imagine there is a bag in my scary, spider-ridden loft containing all manner of winter woolly goodness. As least I hope so, otherwise Borrowers are getting bigger these days. I’ve decided I need a few more hats, but I’ve not only been knitting for me. Also included in my endeavours are a couple of birthday gifts for friends, a family set for a Secret Santa swap, and lots of the little buggers for the Innocent Big Knit project (but more on that later).

The first FO I have to share is my favourite of the bunch. I chose Ripon by Rachel Coopey to tie in with The Knitting Goddess Ravelry Group’s Movie Star KAL, and blogged about my intentions here. April (was it really so long ago?!) was the month of Maggie Smith, and Coopknit’s Toasty collection featured Yorkshire town names, the county where Downton Abbey is set. Ms Smith plays the inimitable Dowager Countess of course. I scoured t’internet for a pithy quote of hers to title my projects, but they were all too long. Eventually I settled for Being Defeatist Is So Middle Class, which turned out to be depressingly prophetic.

I have made no secret of how challenging I find Coopknit patterns, but bloody hell they are impressive. I am not an amateur knitter by any stretch, but there is something about intricate cabling and travelling stitches which stalls me. I struggled to get started on this one at all, twisting my joining in the round three times before opting to knit 4 rows straight before trying again. This gives my hat a customised slightly rolled brim, which works I think.

I was also up against it with the yarn. The Titus is a beautiful and complicated mistress, by turns soft yet prickly. She’s not easy, but you wouldn’t love her if she were. Some things are worth trying that little bit harder for. She is very, very splitty (I should say here that I HATE it when people complain on Ravelry about yarn being ‘splitty’. If its a plied yarn I just think people should get over themselves and stop moaning, its so common a whinge. That said, this really is something else!). Even with sharpy sharp Knit Pros, the fuzzy halo combined with constantly travelling stitches and my general lack of patience made this hat quite the undertaking.

Frogging is nigh on impossible, so when I spotted I’d knitted a couple of rows incorrectly, I packed this away until I had the energy to tink. A couple of weeks ago I dug it out, and as always seems to happen after a hiatus, it flew along!

You like?

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It’s so warm and cosy, and the buttery yellow colour is really very pretty. I love the colours in this pic, they seem to sum up our Indian summer and encroaching early Autumn perfectly. This one will get a lot of wear.

Until I lose it.

In other hat news, I will share briefly the hats I’ve been knitting for my Secret Santa family. The lady likes bright colours, so I’ve made a Berkeley Hat in an wool/acrylic mix frim Sirdar. I’ve learnt the hard way not to give complicated yarns as gifts. No modelled pics here, as these are really not my colours! This was a fun knit though, the travelling simple cable creating a spiral in this one-piece knit

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I used the leftovers to knit a Poppy for her daughter

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She has two sons, and I have completed the hat for her oldest. The Dead Fish Hat is one of those patterns that I can’t believe I haven’t knitted already. It’s fun, it’s free, it’s easy………….what’s not to love? This was the perfect way to use up some leftovers, and I’ll definitely being making more. This one still needs eyes, but I didn’t want to freak out the delicate sensibilities of my beautiful boy, who models it here.

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I need hat pattern suggestions for a baby boy now. Something that might work in colours similar to the fish. What have you enjoyed making?

Another recent pattern discovery has been Ysolda’s Gretel. I knitted one in haste for my boss’ leaving present last month. In so much haste I didn’t get a good pic, but it was in Dream in Colour’s Classy (my all time fave) and flew off the needles to great effect and a warm reception. I’ve already started knitting another, for a pal’s birthday later this week. I had an odd ball of Classy in November Muse, and figured whilst it was too close to the hue of my barnet, it would look great against her red hair. Tres Autumnal. Plus, I just want to knit with Classy some more. I love it so, but its like hen’s teeth here in the UK, I can’t find it! If anyone wants to send me some, it’s be very gratefully received and knitted up very, very quickly.

Is that a bit cheeky? Probably.

Until next time, knitfans.

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I rarely do more than give a cursory glance towards the costume jewellery stands in charity shops. Not that I don’t love a bit of bargain bling, I absolutely do, but they are invariably merchandised all lumped together on a couple of hooks so you can’t quite see what’s hanging there. Plus, like all the other racks, they are overstocked; meaning you can find yourself in a bit of a vipers nest should you try to inspect something hanging towards the back.

However, this little beauty caught my eye as I was browsing, sitting as it was towards the front of a display. It was when I touched it though, and felt its significant weight, that I knew it was worthy of closer inspection.

A bit of a disclaimer: I know nothing about beads, necklaces or jewellery making in general. So this post will be littered with inaccurate terms and guesswork. I am genuinely interested to learn more, so if any readers are clued up, I’d love to hear from you.

It’s strung with glass beads in matt black and a beautiful amber colour, cupped by delicate filigree metal findings. It was only closer inspection that I noticed the oval faceted amber beads are cupped on one end, so they look like little acorns.
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There are some lovely squashed wheel-shaped beads, and all are in excellent condition. It’s clearly not a precious metal, but the gold effect chain is largely untarnished. The only part that shows some age is the clasp which is beautifully made in the fish-hook style, and also provided a clue that this was more than another Accessorize piece.
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I’ve been doing a little research on the t’internet and all of the necklaces I can find which look similar to this are Czech glass. The beads aren’t seamed, but they are some very slight differences, in the size of the facets for example, which make me think they are artisan made rather than very modern/mass produced. I am keen to age the piece, and indeed all the similar pictures I found are of Edwardian necklaces. I am very excited to think I may have discovered something 100 years old in the local charity shop, but that is certainly looking like a possibility. I thought it might be vintage, but antique? Wow.

You won’t see me on Antiques Roadshow anytime soon (similar items seems to sell for £30-£50), but I will get a little thrill wearing it whilst watching Downton Abbey next week and wondering if Lady Mary might have worn similar.

It was a tense Sunday evening Chez Minx. Moods swung wildly between anticipation, anxiety and abject horror. No, our overwrought emotions weren’t a result of Downton Abbey’s rape storyline (although, WTF?); I was washing The Blanket for the first time.

The Blanket is probably the biggest achievement of my knitting career thus far. It’s definitely the biggest FO. Consisting of a gazillion* squares, it took me the best part of two years and one pregnancy to make.

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I knitted it from Shelly Kang’s rather excellent tutorial, and it’s a deliciously simple way to use up all the scraps of fingering weight yarn one accumulates from too much knitting. Whatever that is. I am a pretty prolific knitter, but it was too grand a challenge even for me to accrue all the yarn needed for a blanket this size. So I entered into lots of swaps with other knitters, and even a couple of ‘bouncing bags’; where you receive a parcel of scraps in the post and replace anything you take out before posting to the next address on the list.

Therefore, the provenance of some of my yarns is unclear. Most of it is sock yarn, of that I am confident. Generally a mix of wool and nylon, it was in the main washable. But there are some rogue squares of luxury/handwash/rubmeupandIgofunny yarns too.

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I have avoided washing this blanket for a looooong time. I made it as an investment piece. I hate to use the word ‘heirloom’ on my own projects, it sounds so pompous and loaded with the misplaced self importance some knitters give to their work when it is largely unappreciated by others; but I did knit this with the hope that it would be a fixture on the sofa for a while. And it has proved to be very popular indeed. With The Boy. He sleeps under it, and over this long hot summer he used it in lieu of a quilt when the temperature hit its lowest points overnight. Which is lovely and all that; except he sleeps in the nude and has the hygiene standards you associate with, well, a seven year old boy.

So wash it I had to. But how would it react? It’s not only the fabric content that concerned me, but also how the blanket construction would hold up. You see, I can knit. MAN, can I knit. Quite fast, and very often. I can cast on several projects in one sitting. I even finish some of them eventually. But I am a terrible finishererofferer. My attention span just doesn’t seem to hold until a project’s end. The Blanket has fared better than most, since it was mainly knit-on construction (yay!), but there are the odd mitred squares at the side which were sewn on, and I could only hope they still would be after a spin in the machine.

Because of course this was a machine job. I threw a couple of Colour Catcher sheets in the drum. I’ve no idea why as I’m not even sure what they do or if they work but hey ho. One gentle wool cycle later………

Yes, they are a couple of casualties. One yarn in particular that formed a few of the larger squares has definitely felted, but The Blanket is big enough to be forgiving and you can’t really tell. As for the finishing. Well, I’m not going to show you the back. It looks like a rave in a worm colony. But structurally it is sound. There are a couple of holes where squares have become slightly unattached, but no dreaded unraveling.

But the real test? One little boy gave it his seal of approval

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*Square count is estimated.