Saturday, 28 March 2009

Saturday

Still destashing. I've added some CashCotton 4 ply to my Ravelry trade/sell page, and I've reduced prices as well.

What's left is to be found here. Please email me or message me on Ravelry if you're interested in any of it.



Right, actual knitting.

The beaded sock continues to be incredibly gorgeous, and I am absolutely loving the knitting. However I cannot seem to put it down, and so I still haven't cast on for Foxtail. I'll get there, that is definitely going to be next.

I am still thinking that I will stay with NaKniSweMoDo this year - I've finished four so far, and I am not short of ideas for the rest.

That would mean eight for the rest of the year - Filey for my husband, from Rowan 45, and a Peace Fleece V neck pullover for him as well, no pattern needed for that. Plus Ravenscar and Mulgrave for me, also from Rowan 45 - no Rav link for Mulgrave yet, that won't do..... I also want to make Scree, from Rowan 43, and the Ojo de Dios Vest.

And that's six, none of which are on my original list. I seem to remember saying that I ought to stop making lists - with good reason, it seems.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Wednesday

I finished the Serendipity Socks.


These were the first socks from the Blue Moon Sock Club 2008. The pattern is by Adrienne Fong, and the yarn is Blue Moon's Socks That Rock lightweight - and the colour is called Dragon Dance.

These were a fun knit, even though I would never have picked either the colour or the pattern myself. Lace is addictive, especially when you are working with such a nice yarn. The heel is interesting - wrap-and-turn, but the wraps are not picked up. You end up with a line of eyelets. The fit is not bad at all - the heel is a bit pointy, perhaps, but I have no problem getting these on, as is often the case with short row heels, and they are comfortable to wear.

I spent yesterday evening threading beads, because I have now moved on to another Blue Moon Sock Club pattern - the first one of 2009. Here is the beginning of Queen of Beads.


These are even more addictive than lace, definitely. Sivia Harding does write interesting patterns! These socks start with a tubular cast on using waste yarn, and move through 1x1 rib with a beading detail over the last few rows, into a stocking stitch background accented with little beaded garter stitch panels interspersed with travelling stitch sections.

Lovely! The yarn is Socks That Rock lightweight again, and the colour is even more amazing that it looks here - my camera has problems with shades of blue, and I am no photographer. Those beads aren't green, for instance. They are shades of peacock, and they look wonderful on the multiplicity of different blues that makes up this colourway.

The colour is called My Blue Heaven. Just perfect.

I still haven't cast on for Foxtail.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Four

Sweater number four this year is finished.


Here is Rugged, from Rowan 42, pattern by Erika Knight.

I made the largest size, to fit chest 48". The yarn quantities given were spot on - I needed 20 balls of Rowan Country (now discontinued). This colour is 652 Willow.


Changes - I didn't work a contrast edging to the neckline, I shortened the sleeves by 4" (my husband doesn't like sleeves that hang down over his hands) and I lengthened the body by 1 1/2". I also changed the way that the centreline of the V neckline is worked - I've kept the centre stitch as a knit stitch, rather than a purl stitch. I've come across this in an Erika Knight pattern before (Chevy) and I decided at the time that I wasn't so keen on it - so this time I've done it differently, and I prefer the end result.


I liked working the cable detail on the sleeve.

A couple of minor things in the pattern, but nothing that wouldn't be spotted immediately. If I knit it again, I'd change the neckline and have the division for the V starting higher up. The number of stitches that the pattern says to pick up along the sides of the front V is fewer than I'd expect - it fits ok after steam blocking, and I'm not sufficiently bothered about it to go back and rework it - but next time it would be better to have a shallower V.

Still don't know what's going to be next onto the needles!

Monday, 23 March 2009

Monday

Things have been a bit busy over the past few days, and I haven't got as much knitting done as I'd have liked.

However, Rugged is very nearly finished. I just have to finish the seaming, and that is slow going - reverse stocking stitch, don't you know. Not to mention very bulky, softly spun yarn. I haven't found it necessary to seam with something else, though - adding just a bit of twist to each length of yarn makes a big difference. It is looking good. I'll have at it with the steam iron again when the seaming is finished - I've already blocked all the pieces before I started the finishing - and then it will be ready to hand over to my husband.

I am tempted to say that it's a good thing the weather has turned cold again, because he will be able to wear it - but I don't really mean that. It has felt as if summer had come early, for the last week, and I am sorry that the cold wind is back again.

Once I've got Rugged out of the way, I shall get the Serendipity Socks finished, and cast on for another of my queued-up Blue Moon kits - probably the first one from the 2009 sock club, I do believe. It's by Sivia Harding, and it has beads all over it. Outside the comfort zone for me, without a doubt - but it is a very pretty pattern, and the colours are lovely.

So which major project is going to be on the needles next? I had been thinking Foxtail, and then moving on to summer projects like Ravenscar and Avignon - but as it is so cold outside, I feel that urge to knit myself a big warm wool pullover again. Maybe Kaari? Or perhaps Pyrenees.....?

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Wednesday - and more de-stashing

The lace has got me again - the only knitting I've been doing is that second lace sock. SSS? - no way.

I don't know why I'm surprised, it happens every time. Lace is really, really hard to put down. Would you believe that I haven't even picked up Rugged? It just won't do. I want that finished.

Also, I really do want to start another travel sock, as there is likely to be a fair bit of hanging around in hospital waiting rooms tomorrow, and I'm lost without my sock knitting. I have some Noro Sock yarn in rainbow colours, and I intend to make myself a nice straightforward pair of socks with a picot hem and a pointed spiral toe.

There is going to be a bit of experimenting with the picot hem because I'd like to perfect a method whereby I only need one set of dpns. I have a very nice method indeed using a provisional cast on in the round. This really does give a perfect finish - but you do need a spare set of needles for this method, and also something to use for a lifeline - and I'd like a method that doesn't. Just yarn and one set of dpns, that's what I'd like.

So for these socks, the hem will be closed by picking up from the cast-on edge, and I want to find a method that gives a finish that I'm happy with - so far, it's never quite been good enough.

And that needs doing today, because if I'm to have a sock to pull out of my handbag tomorrow, then I need to have reached the 'mindless stocking stitch' stage....

So - no more lace sock until I've finished the hem of the travel sock. And I must see if I can get Rugged done up to the armhole shaping, as well.



One thing more - the de-stashing continues! I definitely have too much yarn - I've decided that I have to be ruthless. Even if it is lovely, and even if I know exactly what I'd like to make with it.....

So, I've got some more goodies on my Ravelry trade/sell page. The first lot has all gone now, by the way.

This time there is enough dark blue Rowan Bamboo Tape for a garment, some Opal Sock Yarn in solid colours, some Lucy Neatby Celestial Merino Dream, a skein of Fiddlesticks Knitting Country Silk, a skein of Yarn Yard sock yarn with a little contrast skein for heels and toes, and finally some undyed silk laceweight.

Let me know if you are interested in any of it!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Tuesday

There certainly has been plenty of frogging around here lately.

Rugged is coming on as fast as I can manage it - these needles are hard on my hands and wrists. But I'm on the home straight now.

The first sleeve has been frogged and reknitted - the second sleeve is now done as well. The back has been frogged all the way down to the beginning of the armhole shaping, and reknitted with an inch and a half of length added to the body. And I've started the front! Last piece!



It does look nice. I love the way the colours change randomly - see that streak of bright green across the needle?

But I'm ready for a change soon, and I'm trying to decide what comes next. So many choices - I think that Foxtail may be next onto the needles. I do want to make something for myself, and I've been wishing for this top for a while now - I want to wear it!

After that - something else for my husband, I think. He was definitely short-changed last year, I hardly knit anything at all for him, and this year I intend to make up for it. I have some Peace Fleece worsted in Hemlock - lovely stuff! - and a straightforward v neck pullover would go down well, I know.


But if the sun keeps shining like this, it will have to be Filey. No picture there yet, I see - but that's a traditionally shaped waistcoat with pointed fronts, and a rib detail at the sides. Summer Tweed..... hard on the hands, again, but the fabric is lovely.

Socks progress - I've finished the first Serendipity Sock, but somehow I haven't yet got round to casting on for the second. Could this be SSS, for the first time?

Friday, 13 March 2009

Friday

I've been sidetracked, I will admit it. I should have Rugged pretty much finished by now, but what with the frogging of the sleeve and the prospect of frogging half of the back as well, I haven't had a lot of enthusiasm for it. Plus working with those large needles is not comfortable. Excuses, excuses.

What I have been doing instead is knitting a lacy sock, and oh, what a pleasure it is to be working with fine yarn and a pattern like this.


This is the first sock kit from last year's Blue Moon Sock Club. The pattern is by Adrienne Fong, and it is called Serendipity - the yarn is Socks That Rock Lightweight, one of my most favourite yarns, in a colour called Dragon Dance.

It's the usual thing with one of Blue Moon's sock kits - for me, this is about stepping outside the comfort zone and trying something new. I would not have chosen this colourway myself, and I doubt that I'd have picked the pattern either - nevertheless I am really enjoying the knitting.

I think it's the lace that is making the difference here - 'just one more row' may be a complete cliche, but really that is exactly how it goes, at the moment. I 'just' want to work the plain round that goes after this lace round - and then I 'just' want to work the next two rounds - and maybe 'just' two more - and so it continues.

The sock starts with 2x2 ribbing, and then moves into a simple lace pattern with a 28 row repeat. There is a short row heel, worked over rather more than half the total stitch count, which means that it is deep enough to fit my heel nicely. And, when I get there, there will be a star toe.

I am making the medium size, and it is fitting very nicely so far. I'm not entirely convinced about the way this heel is worked, the holes along the sides are a feature that I don't think fits visually with the rest of the sock - but I am working it the way according to the pattern, nevertheless. Stepping out of the comfort zone, remember.

One further thing has become clear - this is not good travel knitting, it takes too much concentration. I need to cast on for another sock, in mindless stocking stitch.

The reason for this is that the current travel socks are finished.


These are for my husband. The yarn is from Regia's Kaffe Fassett Design Line, colour 04351, Jungle Mirage.

The pattern is a slight change from the usual - 3x1 ribbing for the leg and the instep, and the reinforcement provided to the heel flap by the use of heel stitch is continued through the heel turn and along the underside of the foot as far as the end of the gusset shaping. I think that it looks quite good, actually. The reinforced section under the heel definitely strikes me as a good idea, this is where my husband's socks always go into a hole and the idea is that I will end up with less time spent darning.

My husband is pleased with them. I'll post the pattern shortly, there have been several requests.

Now all I need to do is get his next pullover finished.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Backwards

I'm definitely not making progress in the right direction at the moment. Today there has been frogging, and there is more to come tomorrow.

The reason for the first lot of frogging is the sleeve shaping. I was just finishing this first sleeve when I took a long hard look at it, and had a sudden realisation. Losing that unwanted 4" of length meant that the increases finished rather too close to the beginning of the raglan. It just wouldn't fit nicely unless I revised the placement of the increases. Obvious, once you've seen it, like a lot of things in knitting. So I frogged, almost all the way back to the beginning of the increases.

Yes, it hurt.

I've noticed that the big cable on the sleeve changes the row count, by the way. You end up needing to work more rows that you think, for a given length. I shall do a bit of judicious blocking tomorrow morning whilst the sleeve is still on the needles, before I start the raglan shaping. Just, you know, just to be sure. My husband dislikes sleeves that are a bit too long almost as much as he dislikes sleeves that are a bit too short.

The next thing I make for him is going to be a waistcoat, I tell you.

After I've finished reknitting the frogged sleeve, I shall frog the back, down to the beginning of the raglan shaping. Then I shall add as much length as I think I can manage, and rework the top part of the back. At that point, I shall be pretty much back where I started this morning. Sigh.

This afternoon I was trying to decide exactly how much yarn I could spare for the extra length. The final decision must wait until I have finished this first sleeve, then I can weigh the remains of ball number 10 and see how much I have to play with. I've worked out that the front plus the neckband will actually take slightly more yarn that the back alone, so I need to make sure I have enough.

I could work the neckband in the grey Polar if I need to, but I'd prefer this to be an option rather than a necessity.

Monday morning

Jolly cold it is, too. We've had frost, hail, snow, and today this absolutely freezing cold wind. It may be spring, but it isn't exactly warm just yet.

And that, in a way, is good, because it seems likely that my husband will get some wear out of Rugged as soon as I get it finished.

The back is done, and I am working on the raglan decreases of the first sleeve.


This fabric is very bouncy and firm when it comes off the needles - too much so, in fact. It could practically stand up by itself, which isn't a good look, and I will admit that I was getting somewhat worried that this pullover wouldn't be wearable. The gauge required for this pattern is closer than is recommended on the ballband, using the same size needles - fortunately I'm not having any problems with this, but it was a surprise to see this, and it is worth noting.

Anyway, I blocked the back, and there was a lovely transformation. Instead of a fabric which was really much too firm and inflexible, all of a sudden we had drape and softness. So that's going to be alright.

There are a couple of little things in the pattern worth noting, besides the thing with the tension. In the raglan shaping directions there is a really obvious typo - if you follow the directions as written, you'll end up with a purl row where you'd expect to be knitting. Not hard to spot, and not hard to deal with either.

Slightly more problematic is the styling of the sleeves. My husband is a big man, but he doesn't need sleeves measuring 24" to the beginning of the raglan shaping. Looking at the other men's pullovers in Rowan 42, it is quite noticeable that they all seem to have extremely long sleeves too, it's not just Rugged, so this is a general styling issue.

Here you can see the picture of Rugged in the magazine.


Look at those sleeves, right down over his hands. My husband is not a fan of this look, so I've shortened the sleeves significantly.

I've seen a number of comments on Ravelry about the sleeves being oddly wide - I don't see this at all. The cable does pull the fabric in widthways, so you need extra stitches to allow for this - and of course the cable should not be flattened out with blocking. I'm wondering if that's where the problem might lie, because I think that the sleeve width is just fine the way it is.

Right now I'm wondering if reducing the length of the sleeves means that I will have enough yarn to go back and add a bit to the length of the back. I'll know soon. I've got 20 balls of yarn in all, and I'm currently working through ball number 9. If I don't hit ball number 10 before the end of the sleeve - my theoretical half-way point - then there will be frogging, because I'd much rather reknit the top half of the back than unpick the cast-on and add length that way.

And I am going to frog the Grandad Top, definitely. I just can't quite bring myself to start on it yet....

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Saturday

I think that there may soon be a large amount of frogging going on.

Not Rugged - that's going along nicely. I've finished the back and started one of the sleeves, so I'll soon have a good idea if the yarn quantity is right. It is hard on the hands for any length of time with these big needles, but it's a fast knit and it's looking good.

No, I mean my Grandad Top. The problem is that I don't wear it, you see. I wore it to work several times last year, and it was fine for that, and I wore it when I went up to Holmfirth as well, and got plenty of compliments, but recently it just doesn't seem to work for me. I believe that if I had made a smaller size, I'd be happier with it. But I made the largest size, and I have since realised that unless I am making something deliberately oversized and drapy, then I need to make a size that fits across my shoulders, and work with negative ease to deal with my inconvenient bust measurement.

This also means, by the way, that as and when the rest of this weight comes off, my handknits will still fit me. Good thought, that.

Anyway. Right now, each time I pick out this sweater to wear in the morning, I put it on, look in the mirror - and then I take it off again and pick something else instead. It simply isn't getting worn, and that - to me, at least - is not good. I need the finished product of my knitting to be functional and useful - process is important, if I don't enjoy the process then the product will never get completed, but equally the product must fulfil its purpose, or it isn't worth having. And I believe that I have reached that point with this pullover.

So, all that lovely Rowan Wool Cotton. What to do with it all, if I frog?

Coincidentally, I have just got myself a copy of the new Debbie Bliss magazine, the Spring/Summer 09 issue.

In there, along with a lot of other pretty things, is the pattern for perhaps the single prettiest pullover I've ever seen. Debbie calls it, uncompromisingly, Yoke Detail Pullover. On Ravelry, it is called Yoke Detail Sweater. Last year when I was working as a Rowan consultant at John Lewis, this pullover was on display in the yarn department for quite a few weeks, and it really is lovely. Delicate, unusual, and very wearable indeed. So many people commented! - but not so many people bought the yarn, because this pattern is written for Debbie Bliss' Pure Silk yarn, and that is expensive.

However, the pattern gauge is 24 sts and 30 rows to 4" - and Rowan's Wool Cotton has a recommended gauge of 22 - 24 sts and 30 - 32 rows to 4". Given that I do actually prefer the Wool Cotton worked up at the closer gauge, this looks like a match made in heaven!

I just have to nerve myself for the frogging. Not so easy....

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Three

That would be sweater number three for NaKniSweMoDo.

This is Susie, from Rowan Classic Beach.


This pattern is written for Rowan Natural Silk Aran, I used Rowan Classic Cashmere Tweed instead.


This is size M, and I used 12 balls of the Cashmere Tweed with significant leftovers from the 12th ball, which I only needed for the neck and armhole edgings. The colour is 852 Sisal, and the colour is true in the top two pictures on this page. It's very pretty actually, with little tiny flecks of blue and red and green. Really tiny, I mean.

The ballband for this yarn suggests needle size 6mm, I needed to go down to 5.5mm to get gauge.



The only thing that I changed in this pattern was to keep the back neck stitches on a holder for the edging instead of casting off and then picking up again. The reason I did this - well, I don't know! I had a high fever at the time, is all I can say, and I don't recall actually thinking about it.

Anyway it has worked well as the Cashmere Tweed is very light, but if you are using the Natural Silk Aran then I would recommend casting off as the pattern says - that yarn is heavy, and needs the structure.

Nice result! Soft, light, luscious, very stretchy indeed, and the negative ease works just fine for me. (Sigh of relief there.)



I have cast on for sweater number four already.


This is Rugged, from Rowan 42, and the yarn is Rowan Country in Willow, bought at an absolute bargain price from Kemps.

Yet again, the largest size in the pattern, to fit chest 48", because my husband is a big man. It is not easy knitting as this yarn needs 9mm needles, but at least there aren't many stitches on the needle. That's the result of two whole balls of yarn there - I have 20, which ought to be enough, especially as I do not intend to work the sleeves 24" in length to the raglan shaping, which is what the pattern suggests. More like 20", I believe.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Not Tuesday

Timewarp again. I don't know how this keeps happening. It's Wednesday, and my head thinks it's Tuesday for some unknown reason.

Anyway.


Cashmere Susie is very nearly finished. I just have to finish the armhole edgings, seam the sides, deal with all the ends, and choose and attach some buttons. Should be done today. (Famous last words!)


Seriously though, it has worked up very nicely. I love the textured fabric in this Cashmere Tweed - in fact I love this yarn, full stop. If you want to knit something special, then this is the stuff to go for.

The construction of the yarn - chained - means that the yardage is really excellent. Just 25 grams gives you 55 metres - 60 yards for those who still think in 'old money', which includes me a lot of the time. So that's 220 metres to 100 grams.



For comparison, something like Rowan's PureWool Aran, for instance, gives you 169 metres to 100 grams. So you get 30% more yardage (metreage?) with the Cashmere Tweed.

Yes, it's pricy - but you do get plenty for your money.

This pattern was written for Rowan's Natural Silk Aran, and to make this size it would need 11 x 50 gram balls - 715 metres. I've actually used rather less yardage of the Cashmere Tweed, just 12 balls (660 metres) and I've only needed to break into the 12th ball for the edgings. So it's very nearly like for like, in terms of number of skeins - except that the Cashmere is put up in 25 gram skeins, not 50 grams. Not bad at all.

I do want to get started on Rugged today, and I might even manage it.



Edited to add - with regard to my stash turnout, the Silk Cotton has gone to a new home and so has the Hipknits Silk Laceweight.

However I've still got the Artisan Lace Weight Merino and the hand-dyed Hipknits Cashmere Laceweight for sale, either separately at £3 and £5 respectively, or else £7 for the lot, including the Margaret Stove pattern card as well.

I'm getting seriously tempted to cast on for something with the Artisan Merino, though.....

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Spring

Today, in my book at least, is the first day of Spring. It feels very good to have the winter chill of December, January and February out of the way, and to be able to look forward to new leaves on the trees...

I've started on the stash, and my goodness it is slow. I do mean to end up with all of it nicely catalogued on Ravelry - how did we manage before Ravelry? - but it takes ages. I have to take pictures of everything, in theory. I don't know if I am going to manage that bit, but I would like to end up with everything described, at the very least. Name of yarn, dyelots, number of skeins, and so forth.

As I come to things that I don't feel any great wish to keep, I'm adding them to my trade/sell page and putting a price on them. So if you'd like a skein of Margaret Stove's Artisan Lace Weight Merino, with a pattern for 3 lace scarves, any of which can be worked with one skein - or some Hipknits laceweight cashmere - or some Hipknits laceweight silk (gorgeous stuff, all slinky) - or a couple of packs of RYC Silk Cotton in Mink, a lovely soft pale cafe-au-lait colour - just let me know! You'll find them all here.

If they don't get taken, then I'll put them on eBay at some point, but right now that feels like too much hassle.

Susie is coming along, by the way. I've finished the left front and I'm working on the right front now. This design does seem to have teeny little shoulders. The neck and armhole edging should put it back into more normal proportion, hopefully.

And I haven't even picked up the travel sock, or the Earth Stripe Curtain.

The main problem with the stash is that I just wish there was a way to make yarn take up less room. And yes, I've tried those vacuum bags. I used to keep spare duvets and pillows in those, on a shelf at the top of a cupboard. Every so often, usually at a particularly inconvenient time, one of the bags would start to let air in, and gradually the contents of the shelf would expand until the cupboard became uncloseable with huge bags of duvet ballooning outwards in unstoppable fashion. Then I'd have to wrestle the whole unwieldy lot out of the cupboard, usually with a fair degree of difficulty, re-vacuum, and put it all back again - and to be honest it was a bit of a chore.

Actually, maybe I just need more space. And that's not a good thought, because I've already got all those shelves.

The alternative, of course, is to knit more. That, I like.