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...

Tuesday 10 April 2007

Some progress

Over the long Easter weekend, I made a bit of progress. All that's left to do on Ivy is finishing off a few threads and stitching up the remaining side seam. Yippee!

I started the first few rows of Dragone a while back, and to be honest it wasn't going awfully well. Now, this is a long-term project, but it was looking like it might take forever. The pattern is fairly straightforward - lots of different stitches but nothing I hadn't done before. Apart from the horizontal stitch, but I figured it out - or at least a version that works for me. But I was struggling to make progress.

It wasn't the yarn, it wasn't the pattern - so maybe it was the needles. I was using a pair of straight 3mm needles that I've had for years and planning to buy a new Addi circular for when the number of stitches got too large. And I had seen reviews of an exciting new development - the Addi Lace needle. Sadly, these don't seem to be available in Europe yet but they are to be had in the US. So I treated myself and ordered online.

It arrived on Friday, so I ripped my previous effort and started again. What a difference! It's much pointier than the previous needle, so much much easier to work multiple stitches, but not so pointy that it's hard to use. And it seems to have just the right degree of slippiness to grip. I think maybe the fact that I had made a previous attempt meant that I was already familiar with the pattern. So here's where I got to over the weekend. Utterly useless photo, but I am now just past the tip of his tail and going well. It's not a pattern I'd want to work on for hours at a time, but 10 or 20 rows at a time (in fairly good light) is fine.

And, at last! A Finished Object! I finally got the lining attached. I'm not wild about the cheapo plastic handles, and since the bag is cream I'd like to be able to wash it. So the handles are attached with tabs with press fasteners. I'll probably never change them, but I can if I want.

Friday 30 March 2007

Incredible Shrinking Swatch

Yes, I was right to think my green/brown mystery yarn might shrink. But not quite in the way I expected. When the swatch dried I measured it again and it had gone from 23cm wide to 22.25 (reasonable) and from 18.25cm long to a stunted 15.75! I'm not sure whether the culprit is the green woolly strand or the brown loopy one, but either way I'll definitely need to make a few allowances with the measurements as I go.

Previously, I haven't done swatches as I've always been too impatient to get going with the pattern. But I'm beginning to see the light.

Ivy now has one sleeve sewn in and most of the dangling threads finished off. Left to do is positioning of the ties and then it'll be good to go. I'm really pleased with the way it turned out.

In other news, I started a version of Elfin Bride/Elfin Goth from the Domiknitrix website. I like the book, although I'm not so keen on most of the patterns. But this one cried out to be made.

Here's where I've got to so far. The pattern starts at the middle of the yoke and continues into the left sleeve. I'll probably stop fairly soon, as there is shaping from the elbow to increase into a bell sleeve and I'm not sure yet how the sleeve will sit. So I think I'll wait until near the end when I know whereabouts in the sleeves my elbows will be. Next step will be to pick up stitches from where I started and work in the opposite direction for the right sleeve.

Thursday 29 March 2007

What will it be?

Here's a swatch I made last night for a new project. The yarn is a 1kg cone I bought in the Avoca sale for €12. At that price, I really couldn't resist. It seems to be a mix of wool (the green) and something else (the brown). On the down side, it's not the nicest to work with as it's a bit rough and twists quite unpleasantly. But I do like the way it looks knit up. I used 6mm needles which seem about right. And I've even washed the swatch so I can see if it's likely to shrink.

Now all I have to do is decide what I want it to be. I was planning to make this Mobius scarf, as I thought it looked like a really interesting technique to learn. But this yarn is waaay too scratchy. So now I'm thinking maybe some kind of wrap cardigan. There seems no point in doing any kind of complicated pattern, as it would probably just disappear into the general tweediness. But maybe a simple lace stitch to add a bit of interest.

And here's a dishcloth I made to use up the remains of the cotton from my bag.

Knitting bag

So, my recent efforts. I'm finished the cable jacket, except for the zip. It wasn't all that easy to find a dark green 20" open-ended zip, but I got one at Carmel's Fabrics in Bray. And I'll put it in. Soon. Really soon.

Ivy is done, except for the last few inches of the second tie. Just waiting to be sewn up - no complications expected. Quite a bit of the silk yarn left over, so I'm looking for a nice pattern for a summer top - maybe with short sleeves. And maybe one-piece top-down, so I can do something creative with stripes if needed.

Tired of carrying my knitting around in a tatty old plastic bag, I decided to make a nice new knitting bag. It's based on the Fake-a-Gamo pattern. Instead of the two strands of DK, mine is made from Aran-weight cotton which came on a 500g cone from Springwools. The pattern is well written and fun to do. The only difficult part is having to knit 11 together, but it's ok after the first few. I left out the tassels and made the top almost straight. And it will be lined with a remnant of furnishing fabric. It's all done except to sew the lining to the bag and attach the handles.

Friday 23 March 2007

Starting Dragone

I started it last night, so here's the first twenty rows. It's on 3mm needles and I had been a bit concerned about what sort of needles to use, but I thought I'd have a go with a set of metal straights I had at home. Not a good choice at all. I used to knit everything on straights, but then I needed to learn knitting in the round so I got some circulars. Now I use circulars all the time. I just find the balance better and they're so much more portable too. So I'll be going shopping at the weekend. I may also try bamboo, as this yarn is damn slippery.

I always like to try out new techniques and this is definitely a project to investigate the use of lifelines. Fixing mistakes stitch-by-stitch with such fine yarn is virtually impossible and dropping a stitch the stuff of nightmares. I did the first few rows several times, but there's no way I'm ripping the whole thing once I get past about an hour's work.


Nearly finished this, and it's been fun. I'm recycling (again) some silk yarn I've had for many years. First, it was a sweater, then it became a cardigan but I didn't like in either version. This time, though, I'm pleased with it. It's more of a butterscotch colour than it looks in the pictures.

The pattern is fairly ok. As various others have found, it's not the easiest to follow as regards the front shaping at the sides and neck. So there was quite a bit of ripping there - my own fault for not really paying attention. The sleeve length given is very long - it's meant to be a bell-shape so a bit longer than normal, but I found it almost covered my hand completely. I've seen some people say they had problems setting in the sleeves but I think that's ok. I tacked in the first sleeve to check the length and it seemed to fit well.

I was dreading making the ties - miles and miles of 8-stitch k1 pi rib but I started last night and it was fine. Excellent mindless in-front-of-the-TV knitting, and here's the result

Thursday 22 March 2007

Debbie Bliss Cable Jacket

Nearly finished this one. Just need to finish off the hood, stitch it together and (eeek!) put in a zip. I've never done a zip before, so that will be interesting.

The pattern is from the Debbie Bliss Number Four book, and uses Cashmerino Aran, but I substituted Lang Merino+ 152 in colour 88, which is a fabulous deep teal. Also a lovely yarn to work with, really soft and springy. I haven't knitted with wool very much, but this could convert me. The cable pattern is slightly irregular, so a little bit of attention is required but I wouldn't describe it as complicated. I needed one more ball of yarn than suggested, but I did make it a few inches longer than the pattern said.

Debbie Bliss Colour Blocks Jacket

This pattern didn't really do it for me when I saw it first but I found myself going back to it and every time I saw it I liked it better. So it entered my queue a while back. I think I'd prefer a zip, but otherwise I plan to do it as is.

It's DK wool but as often seeems to happen with Debbie Bliss, pretty much all the colours have been discontinued. Arrgggh, why do they do that? So I had a look around Springwools for a suitable substitute and settled on Lang merino DK, which has a huge range of colours and feels like it'd be lovely to work with. Then I hit another snag - obviously, they can't keep all the colours in stock but they are happy to order other colours. In multiples of 10. But the most I need of any colour is 3.

Now, I do like to support local businesses if possible but it was clearly time to go surfing. I found a few suppliers with websites but mostly not much of an online selection. But there was one in France. The ordering procedure seemed to imply that they expected customers to be in France, but didn't actually insist on it. They took my money and sent me an invoice anyway. I'm expecting it to arrive very soon.

Chasing the Dragone

No, that's not a typo. It's a shawl pattern called Heere be Dragone. I saw it a few weeks back and I knew immediately I HAD to do it. No matter that I've never worn a shawl in my life. If I don't like it, I can always give it to someone.

The pattern is available here (it comes by email as a PDF and very quickly too) and there is a KAL here. Then I needed some yarn. A popular choice is Jagger Zephyr, which comes in an amazing range of colours but sadly it's a little hard to come by in this part of the world. But I found a UK stockist called Woolly Workshop with a fair selection. I think I would have preferred Peacock, but they didn't have it so I went for Juniper. It's always a bit of a lottery choosing colours on a website, but I hoped for the best.

Anyway, it arrived yesterday and turned out to be a sort of slightly silvery dark green. Kinda leaves-of-a-Christmas-tree, feels lovely and I think it should knit up nicely.

Then I had a look at the pattern, which mostly consists of a set of 10 charts. Not wanting to go blind peering at teeny tiny symbols, I needed a spot of enlarging but Adobe Reader didn't seem keen. So I printed on A3, which worked well, and I'm now ready to go.

It uses 3mm needles for the body (3.25 for the border), and I have at least one set of straights at home. I may invest in a new circular as I get up a bit and the number of stitches becomes unfeasibly large.

To be continued...

Purls of wisdom

Here is the first post of my new knitting blog. I've been thinking for a while that it would be nice, and maybe even useful, to keep a record of what I'm knitting.

Just a few notes on pattern, yarn, problem areas, blah, blah, blah.I've never been all that keen on taking photos, so don't expect much in the way of stunning images.

Anyway, here we go. I've recently got back into knitting after quite a long break and it's great to be back. Things have improved rather a lot, what with all this newfangled interweb stuff. Only problem now is too much choice. And too little time :-)