Monday 9 June 2008

A Colourful Weekend

So, I've had this yarn since last year. It's just one skein of Caravan that I got for free. I really liked the colour but I didn't know what to do with it until I saw the Chrysalis wrap pattern. I got the pattern during the week and took it to knitting group on Saturday to get started. Well, that was a mistake. I've never done brioche stitch before, so maybe it was a bit rash to start by doing it in the round. So I ripped as much as I knitted, made several starts and came home with nothing. Sigh. But I've since managed to make some progress, and it's quite easy after the first few rows once you can see where the pattern is going. I'm not quite sure about the increases, as I seem to sometimes make an extra loop somewhere but it does work out ok and I don't think any mistakes will be noticeable. If I'm feeling really picky I may redo it from the start before I go much further...

Sunday was a dyeing workshop at This Is Knit. This is a fairly new addition to their classes and I thought it might be a bit of fun. Well, I was wrong - it was a lot of fun! The class was a full afternoon and included materials - 2 small practice skeins and one full-sized skein of sock yarn; also plastic gloves and aprons. The yarn had been pre-soaked, so we could get straight to work choosing our colours and painting away. Then wrap in clingfilm, a few minutes in the microwave, allow too cool, rinse under the tap until the water runs clear, a quick dip in water with vinegar to set the dye, then under the tap again. It's really interesting to see how the colours develop and how different they can look after the yarn has dried, and it's great fun actually painting the yarn. My creations are now almost dry and ready to use. But what will they become? I think the small skeins are probably too small to do very much, but the sock yarn is about 400m.

Here's something I found through Ravelry, source of a ridiculous amount of knitting temptation. It's a sweater made from paper, silk and stainless steel. How could I possibly resist? I ordered last week and the package arrived this morning. Luckily, the postman came before I left for work as it was slightly too big to go through the letterbox. It's always a bit of a gamble choosing colours online (from K1 Yarns), but this worked out well. I chose Khaki Shosenshi and Brown Silk/Steel (both Habu) - not quite as dark as this picture would suggest. I made one stupid mistake and ordered one skein of Shosenshi instead of two, but I've ordered another so it shouldn't hold me up at all.

And, finally, I made a Red Velvet Cake. I first heard of such a thing about a year ago and the idea really intrigued me. I don't think I've ever seen one in these parts, so I decided to give it a go and make my own. I found several recipes online, and chose this one. It's fairly straightforward, and the only things I needed to buy were buttermilk for the cake and mascarpone, cream cheese, and cream for the icing. The recipe calls for Dutch-processed cocoa powder. I don't even know what that is, so I used regular cocoa and it seemed ok. I think I should done a better job of mixing the dry ingredients together, as the cake was not quite even in colour but it's so RED that it's hard to see anything else. I thought the icing was a bit too sweet, so I added the juice of half a lime and probably could have added more.

It came out looking pretty much like the recipe. I was sure I had taken a photo of the whole cake, but it seems I didn't so here's one of the inside. I'm not sure if I'd make it again, but I'm pleased I did.

Monday 12 May 2008

Best No Parking Sign

Spotted in San Francisco - I just had to take a picture.

Wednesday 18 July 2007

Where does the time go?

I can't believe it's been so long since I posted, but work has been absolutely crazy lately. I have been doing some knitting, though - it's the only thing that's saved what remains of my sanity.

BPT is still on the needles. I ran out of yarn, so I put it on hold. I now have more yarn, so it should resume soon.

In the meantime, I saw some lovely Laines du Nord Cashsilk on special offer at This is Knit and I just couldn't resist. So here's an almost-finished Rogue cardigan. This is part of the hood. Currently I have the body, hood and one sleeve done and I'm just up to the armhole on the second sleeve. Then I'll have to graft the hood seam, set in the sleeves, finish off the facings and (gulp!) put in a zip.

I swore I wouldn't start any more new projects, but I just couldn't resist this one. It's the Lace Wings shawl by Alice Cooley (pattern available from Lettuce Knit. The yarn is the fabulous Handmaiden Sea Silk in Bronze. I bought it from Tidal Brook Yarns on ebay. Incredible service, I ordered it on a Saturday and it arrived on the following Tuesday! Very reasonable delivery charge too. The pattern is quite simple, but effective and the needles get bigger as you go, so you can really see progress. I've done a bit since this picture and I think I'm now about 2/3 done.

Tuesday 22 May 2007

Knitting Meme

I've seen this knocking about on numberous blogs, so I thought I'd add my 2¢

Mark with bold the things you have ever done, with italics, the ones you plan to do sometime, and leave the rest.

Here's mine:

Garter stitch
Knitting with metal wire
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down
Socks: toe-up
Knitting with camel yarn
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Knitting with silk
Moebius band knitting
Participating in a KAL
Drop stitch patterns
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns
Knitting with bananafiber yarn
Domino knitting (=modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Two end knitting
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Toy/doll clothing
Knitting with circular needles
Baby items
Knitting with your own handspun yarn
Graffitti knitting (knitting items on, or to be left on the street)
Continental knitting
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)
Lace patterns
Publishing a knitting book
Teaching a child to knit
American/English knitting (as opposed to continental)
Knitting to make money
Button holes
Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting
Norwegian knitting
Dying with plant colours
Knitting items for a wedding
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cosies...)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items)on two circulars
Olympic knitting
Knitting with someone elses handspun yarn
Knitting with dpns
Holiday related knitting
Teaching a male how to knit
Knitting for a living
Knitting with cotton
Knitting smocking
Dying yarn
Knitting art
Knitting two socks (or other small tubular items) on two circulars simultaneously
Knitting with wool
Textured knitting
Kitchener BO
Knitting with beads
Long Tail CO
Knitting and purling backwards
Machine knitting
Knitting with selfpatterning/selfstriping/variegating yarn
Stuffed toys
Baby items
Knitting with cashmere
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern
Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO
Freeform knitting
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mits/armwarmers
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine
Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Hair accessories
Knitting in public

Monday 21 May 2007

Bad Attack of Castonitis

Oh dear, oh dear! Despite my best efforts, the number of WIPs just keeps on increasing. In my dreams, I will have one large project and one small at any given time. In reality, the current roll call is:

Colour Blocks: back and fronts are done and joined together. Second sleeve is done but not finished. I just need to tack it in place to check the length before I cast off. Then the dreaded zip....

bpt: I've stopped about halfway down the body but I have a good excuse - I'm out of yarn. It's ordered and should arrive soon.

Elfin Bride: also taking a break. I've done the yoke, partial sleeves and the back triangle. Next up will be the short row shaping for the back.

Unbiased: This is a terrible pic of half of unbiased from Knitty. The small white mark on the left is a safety pin marking the RHS as suggested in the pattern. I read about Sari silk on various websites and thought it sounded really interesting. So when I spotted it on a visit to Loop a while back, I thought I'd give it a go (it's Mango Moon).

To be honest, I'm not really all that impressed. It's quite expensive, for a start (I bought one 150 yd. skein at £11, but I'm going to need a second). Some people have complained about a musty smell from sari silk, but I don't find this yarn smelly at all. It's ok to knit with - uneven, as you might expect but not enough to make it unpleasant. It sheds a bit, but not too badly. My biggest gripe is the colouring. If you look closely, there are lovely individual jewel colours in there, but at a distance it blends into a sort of pink-purple-blue soup. I think I expected something more like a variegated colouring, with short runs of different colours. I'm trying to think what it would be best for - maybe some kind of wrap. I do actually like the result, but I don't think I'd rush to use it again.

Love Me Knot: On to more positive things! Here is my first sock! It's two shades of pink Opal yarn on 2mm needles. I started with a Milward circular and switched to an Addi. Now normally I'm a great fan of Addi needles but I'm not entirely happy with this one as it's warping quite a bit with very little use. The Milward is ramrod straight, but the join isn't as smooth as the Addi. So which one to use? Of course, I could always have a go at using both...

The pattern is a really cool illusion with hearts from slippedstitch, available here. It doesn't show up very well in photos, as it really needs a bit of movement to make the pattern appear, but you can just about see some hearts on the left. There's a short row heel which I think looks a bit strange but it's ok on. Since this was taken, I've done a bit more so it will be finished tonight. I fear the dreaded SSS, so I will try to cast on for its mate immediately.

There are 3(!) more sock yarns in my queue at present. How did this happen? Only a few short months ago I was utterly bemused at the idea of knitting socks.

Witterings: And finally, drum roll, a Finished Object! It's the Witterings hat from My Fashionable Life.
Very clear pattern, fun to do and quite a quick knit, even including the hem. I used Patons 100% cotton DK, which I really like. It's cheap (€4.80 for 100gr) and comes in some very nice colours. The needle was an 80 cm Pym circular 2.75mm, which is quite a bit more pointy than most of my needles. 2.75 is small for DK, but I didn't find that to be a problem. The pattern said to start on DPNs and move to the circular when the stitch count had increased sufficiently, but I didn't bother - I just used Magic Loop for the start. I made a small inadvertent modification on the brim where I got a bit carried away past the point where I should have started the hem, so there are a couple of extra stripes. I blame Horatio Caine - or was it Gil Grissom?

The sewn cast off for the hem was a new technique for me but there is a link in the pattern to a very clear tutorial. Despite starting with what I thought was an unfeasibly long tail, I did need to join it once. I'm supposed to sew Petersham ribbon inside the band, but I don't think I'll bother. Likewise I have no plans to thread cord through the hem.

Tuesday 1 May 2007

Yet another WIP

Oh dear, I used to be so good about finishing one project before starting another. But those days seem to be gone. So here's another one I half-prepared earlier. I've only been working on this for a few days, as a bit of a break from the compilcations of Elfin Bride. I also wanted something a little more portable than Colour Blocks. This pic doesn't really give a very accurate idea of the colour, it's just to show the shaping.

The pattern is bpt from knitty and the yarn is Hipknits Aran Silk in colour Chocolate Cherries. I fell in love with the colour when I saw it on the website and it's even prettier in real life.
However, as a yarn I do think it leaves something to be desired. It's shedding quite a lot as I knit, so I'm not sure how it will work out when I wear the finished garment. And it seems a little unstable, if that's the word. When I try to splice it, it just disintegrates as soon as I separate the plies. It comes in hanks, but they wound it into balls (cakes?) in the shop. They only had 400g in stock, so I'm hoping there isn't a huge difference between dyelots. My theory is that the randomness of a variegated yarn should be enough to ensure it's not obvious, but we'll see.

Now, as regards the pattern. I've been keen to try a top-down raglan for a while, so I was in a bit of a hurry to get started. But there are a few quirks in this pattern, which only become apparent after a bit.

First one is that there is no shaping at the neck - the back and front are the same height. I think that shouldn't be too much of an issue if I make the hood as shown, but some people would prefer a round neck or a small collar and I'm not sure it would sit well without some changes to make the front a little bit lower.

Next up is setting the pattern. This is a little hard to explain, but the setup row is on the wrong side, so I would reverse the directions when working the right side. For example, the WS row starts s1, p1, CB ... CF, p2, so I did the next (RS) row as s1, k1, CF ... CB, k2. But if you look closely at the pictures in the pattern, it was done the other way. Quite a few people have found this strange and/or misleading. Not a huge problem, as either way will be fine as long as it's consistent, but something to be aware of for those who may have strong views on whether the double cables would look better twisting away from each other or towards each other. I actually like it the way I have it, so that's ok.

Then you increase until you have almost 400 stitches in the row, so a nice long needle(s) would be a good idea. I'm just past the point where I've joined the back and fronts, so I'm back to a reasonable number of stitches and soon I'll get to decrease a few for the waist shaping. I'm not sure yet how long I'll want to make it, but that is the big advantage of working top-down.

I have just over 100g left now, so I'll probably revert back to colour blocks or Elfin Bride soon. But I would like to have this finished for summer wear.

Lots of people have made bpt, so there's plenty of experience out there. Moral of the story: it's well worth a bit of research before starting.

Friday 13 April 2007

Colour Blocks yarn

Finally! The yarn has arrived. I was really getting worried that it was lost in space somewhere. I've even taken to popping home every day at lunchtime to check for a delivery notice. But today, there it was. Off I went to the sorting office clutching my piece of paper and... he couldn't find the package. But it seemed he had misread the address so he looked again - this time successfully. So here's a picture.

To recap, the yarn is Lang Merino DK and the supplier was Pascale Creation in France. I ordered on the 15th of March. It was a complicated order, so a short delay wasn't a surprise, but they sent a mail on the 23rd saying that the package was on its way. I'm fairly pessimistic about the postal service these days so I wasn't expecting anything for a week or so, but it actually took 3 weeks. Even allowing for the long Easter break, that seems very very slow. But I'm happy it's here now.

I don't think I'll get to it for a while, as I'd like to get a good chunk of Elfin Bride done before I start anything else. And I'm toying with the idea of doing it top-down. I'm not sure if the pattern length as given is long enough for me and because of the block pattern I don't think it would work well to add extra rows before starting the armhole. But I may be unable to prevent myself from casting on...