Archives for posts with tag: Knitting needle

Indulging in my favourite hobby of commuter knitting this morning, I hit a quandary.

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I’m about 50 rows into my latest project. Using a ball of cheery yellow sock yarn I bought during my Cologne trip earlier this year, I absentmindedly cast 60 stitches onto my DPNS, with the vague idea of trotting out (no pun intended) another pair of socks for my winter undies drawer. I’ve been experimenting with different stitch patterns, and made up this little triangle motif with a view to naming the finished project Cheese Toasties.

I’m always getting ahead of myself.

The leg is all but done, and now I have some decisions to make. Short row or heel flap? I think short row looks better, but heel flap FITS better. Should I carry on the pattern through the foot? It’s actually quite boring to knit, and doesn’t look as good as I hoped. A stocking stitch foot would get these finished so I can move on to the next proj……….ooooooooooh look, something shiny!

Attention deficit. Me?

And now I’m wondering, should they be socks at all?! The weather has turned cold very quickly here, and I realise I have a dearth of gloves. Naturally, the fabulous Kitten’s Bottom Mitts I knitted earlier in the year have already disappeared into the ether. This yellow yarn might not be the softest, but it would be warm, and would be a nice match for the yellow beret I finished recently. But there are other decisions. Simple wristwarmers or full on mitts? SHOULD I GUSSET?

Socks or gloves. Socks or gloves. Daddy or chips. Socks or gloves.

HELP ME.

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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.

I can’t quite believe this has happened to me again. It has, in fact, happened so many times that I couldn’t begin to list them. I do know that  this is the third time I have been upset by it.

I felted a handknit.

Actually, that’s not true. A handknit was felted, but not by me. My lovely husband, seemingly breaking the lacklustre homemaking habit of a lifetime, decided to wash ALL OF THE CLOTHES this weekend. Of course in our house (for reasons to be explored further), dirty clothes are not limited to the laundry basket, but may be found loitering in unusual places: the car, the kitchen table, the magazine rack, and the stairs, where they sit for days waiting for someone to carry them upstairs to the empty laundry basket.

It was due to this lack of clear demarcation that I pulled this sorry looking affair from the washing machine. Yep, just washed. Not even tumble dried. It’s TINY! Of course, even if it were big enough to fit my 4 yr old daughter, it’s stiff as a board and unwearable. The kitty scores another blanket for her bed.

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This was the cardigan that I had whispered about on  this blog before, so nervous was I about its future. I knitted it in part to atone for another disaster, my Blackberry Cardigan of 2011.

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I love woolly, sheepy, PROPER wool. The above FOs were knitted in Rowan Purelife and Knitpicks Wool of the Andes. However, I (and my husband) clearly can’t be trusted.

As much as I love knitting, I’ve always hated laundry. Life is too short to iron, and our lifestyle means everything gets thrown into the machine, and the machine is always on. I try and keep handknits in the cupboard, they don’t need washing really, but it seems I dropped the ball here.

So what’s the problem? I’m a big subscriber to personality type analysis, particularly the Myers Briggs model (Take a free test here), and I think the way hubby and I see the world has a lot to answer for*. We are both heavily Intuitive over Sensing; meaning we’re better with ideas and concepts, than you know, umm, real stuff. I think this is why I like the process of planning projects, choosing yarn and then knitting, much more than keeping or wearing the items very often. We are also both much more Perception over Judging. I like to think of this as meaning we are more open minded, journey not destination, easygoing people. In reality, it means we like having fun and not clearing up.

While its nice to have a label to put on things, I have never been in any doubt as to the way I roll.

1) I have had (and lost) more purses, umbrellas and keys than you have had hot dinners.
2) An old nickname was ‘Wheresmy’ because I started every sentence with it.
3) Despite charming the pants off housemates, I ended up in spats with each and every one due to my slatternly ways.
4) I regularly shiver whilst I am out, having forgotten to bring a hat/scarf/gloves, despite having knitted hundreds of them.

Ridiculous, isn’t it?

Over time I have developed coping mechanisms, and can pull a pretty good impression of an organised and together woman; even though my natural preference is probably more like that woman Ross dates in Friends with the messy apartment, and I by no means use personality as an excuse. I have to make more effort, I do, but I get that being flakey is not ditzy and cute when you’re 37 and a working mother.

Perhaps what I should have done is married a very S/J kind of guy. To balance things out. Instead, I fell in love with quite possibly the only man in existence less practical than myself. Who is wonderful and I shan’t bad mouth him. Even though he is in the Bad Books today, as I have one less cardigan in my wardrobe.

From now on, I ONLY buy superwash wool. Seriously. If you catch me sniffing the sheep stuff, pull me away.

It’s the children I feel sorry for. During Sunday’s Easter hunt, my daughter was having problems finding all of her eggs.

‘Look in the place where you keep all of your clothes’ I suggested.
‘What? The floor?’  she replied.

Still, with parents like us, what chance does she stand?

* For anyone into this stuff, I’m ENFP and he’s INFP.

My little girl impresses me every day. She’s 4 years old and approaching the end of her reception year. As one of the younger children, we had our reservations about her going to school, but she loves it and is learning so much; every day seems to bring something new.

She’s developed a real love of drawing and colouring, and its turned into a nice activity for us to do together. I was reminded of my old hobby via a thread on my Pregnancy and Parenting Forum. Like all children her age she loves to run about and has boundless energy, but when it comes to ‘chillout’ time you can find us crowded over one of her (or my *cough*) colouring books.

Here’s our latest pic (can you guess who sits on which side?).

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My favourite colouring-in tools are felt tip pens, in particular these ones, but of late, my little artist and I have been using colouring pencils more. I like the subtley of shades, the finished effect is somehow more sophisticated.

I’m all for bright colour, but also enjoy variations on the theme. My latest project is a pair of Mixalot socks. This fab pattern allows the knitter to mix and match stripes and lace sections, and seems to be to be made for lots of confusing colours.

I am using a mini skein set from The Knitting Goddess in Blackened Rainbow. I find the darker shades much more interesting than an ‘inyerface’ rainbow spectrum, and I’m loving how it’s knitting up. I am slightly concerned about running out of yarn, as the set is only 70g. As a UK size 4/37, I should be OK, although I may have to make compromises about stripe selection. I think I may just go random on the second sock, rather than matching, as it allows me more leeway. Plus fraternal socks are kind of cool.

I knitted a pair of these before as a gift, and am pleased that I’ll get to keep these ones! I estimate I keep only 5-10% of the socks I knit, and my underwear drawers are woefully sparse.

I have modified the pattern slightly. I started knitting the medium, but it looked very baggy on the leg, so decreased to 60 stitches for a size small foot. The shape is now rather slouched, like the socks we all went crazy for back in the 90’s.

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I’m hoping my gauge hiccup doesn’t cost me too dearly in yarn (always swatch people!), thankfully the lovely Knitting Goddess sells individual skeins in odd colours should I need to make up the difference.

My daughter has been eyeballing them and has requested a pair. Maybe they will be next on the needles!

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.
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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…….
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Things I have learned
– the continental knitting thing. Just Wow.
– Blocking makes a HUGE difference. Check out this before pic
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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’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.

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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.

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…….is a knitting one.

Not being one for resolutions as such, I nevertheless welcomed the dawn of 2014 armed with a list, consisting of goals/aims/targets/objectives (call them what you want). I developed this list with the help of a rather fabulous little book called Your Best Year Yet. Its a very simple guide consisting of just ten questions, and I used it with some success last year. 2013 was definitely a contender for my best year yet, and I’m optimistic 2014 can beat it.

However, even this mercifully short process was probably unnecessary when it came to one of my knitting aims, since I suspect I share it with half of the crafty minxes on the planet; finish those WIPs.

Despite my tendency to start and then abandon so much in life, I am extraordinarily restrained when it comes to knitting projects, so its not like I have 30+ carrier bags lurking under beds in my house (I’ve seen the confessions on Ravelry). I do have a couple of things I am determined to get off the needle in 2014 though.

One of these was my Deco cardigan. Oh yes, note the use of past tense here. This started life as a 99p car boot cashmere blend Ralph Lauren jumper. After several hours of unpicking and unwinding, following the advice of the fabulous Unravellers group, I had about 500g of usable sport weight yarn in an eau de nile colour. Unfortunately, carefully taken photos of this process are unavailable thanks to a stolen mobile phone late last year, but I was fairly impressed with myself

The cardigan itself then took an age to knit. Its an effective pattern, but involves a lot of stocking stitch at a tight gauge, so not exactly riveting. It only needed a little finishing and blocking when it was eventually passed over for something more sparkly and exciting, and went to live in a bag somewhere quiet.

Nothing much happens here New Years Day. Except hangovers and knitting. Having missed my usual partying (Stayed in with the kids which was lovely), I had a clear head and a determined spirit. I finished the cardigan and it looked…meh.
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I liked the fabric. I liked the style. I had pre-ordered the clear press studs needed and picked out some lovely vintage buttons/ribbon for it (see above). But I just knew the colour did nothing for me. Though pale, I’m an ‘Autumn’ and pastels in general leave me sallow and little cadaver-like. But that’s what you get when you re-use yarn instead of spending on squishing new skeins in the shop.

So on the 2nd January I decided to dye it. Oh yes, I was on a roll! I wasn’t able to travel far, but my local shop sold Dylon.
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Nooooooooooooooooooooooo! Said Google.

You need special dyes for wool! Said Ravelry.

But I knew better, being the impatient person that I am. And convinced, thanks to the optimism of the foolhardy, that the dye would definitely work for me, despite all evidence to contrary.

At first, things seemed fine. The colour is the drum was exactly as I’d hoped, a russety brown with a hint of pink.

And then I took it out.

I couldn’t understand it. I’d washed a gauge swatch in the machine and it had bloomed a little but come out just fine! Whether it was the extra friction caused by the weight of the whole cardigan or the salt I put in with the dye I don’t know, but this felted mess isn’t wearable.
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I should have learnt when the same thing happened to my Blackberry Cardigan. See, I love the feel of proper wool over superwash but I’m too flighty to be trusted with it. Luckily, I’m also too little attached to a lot of the physical world to care. I was a bit sad for the wasted money on the dye, but hey what price for a lesson learned?

And I have learnt it now. Honestly.

Plus, where there are losers, somebody is winning. The kitty is very happy with her new super-soft basket liner.

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That’s not strictly true. I like to knit anything. I’m largely a process knitter; I get excited by the prospect of trying new things, and I don’t let trifling things like whether I will actually wear the finished item confuse matters.

Shawl patterns are attractive. There’s that addictive way they increase; urging you on and on, luring you in with easy garter/stocking stitch sections before hitting you with the sexy lace!!

The shawl above is the an Afternoon Tea, a fab free pattern from Knitty. The crescent shape sits nicely on the shoulders, and the rounded edge instantly looks more modern than the more usual triangular style in my opinion.

See, I like to knit ’em but I can’t wear ’em. It’s a subject oft discussed on Ravelry; the wearability of the shawl is a divisive subject. Some hipsters throw them around their neck in a insouciant manner, but they just seem to slide off when I try it. Even the kerchief styling (back to front with the edges wrapped round each side) doesn’t stay put. However it starts, I inevitably end up wearing it traditional, ‘old lady’ style. And, at 37, I’m too old to pull that off ironically.

So the beautiful sparkly bottle green number above (Krafty Koala yarn, lovely to knit with), is destined to be scrunched under a winter coat most of the time, but it will sit over my shoulders when I’m sat at my draughty desk.

This has been a two shawl week! The second is a gift for my lovely friend Clare, who turns 30 this week.
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It’s a Damson, a tried and tested pattern that I have knitted before. Sadly, the photography lets this one down here. It’s a lovely simple and effective knit, and it’s construction means it has longer points, so it stays on easier. You’ll have to take my word for that; I have my end of week face on and it’s not camera friendly enough for a front shot!

The grey yarn is a Knitting Goddess club yarn. The delicate, soft grey is not something I ever would have chosen to buy, but it’s definitely my friend’s taste. The pink trim was a necessity; I ran out with only 3 rows to go, something that I should have remembered from last time!!