Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Progress

The thing about Sanquhar gloves is they are addictive, I mean, really hard to put down. The photo above shows the pattern (Prince of Wales) developing nicely, with a tidy thumb gusset - the gusset seems better to me than the one on the Duke gloves, but that could just be me. Anyway, you can see the chequerboard pattern.

Working on 5 needles is much better than 4 and I'm happier with the quality of this work than I was with the Duke pattern.
Here's a close-up of that pattern. This pattern is highly detailed, with every row written out in full, for understandable reasons. If you lose concentration, this is what happens...
This section is one stitch out, it was at the beginning so I couldn't "read" the stitches as I hadn't done a full repeat. I thought about pulling it back, but pulling back tiny two colour stitches as far as I needed to didn't fill me with enthusiasm. I'm not a perfectionist, so decided that I would fix it using swiss darning at the end - it will be a quick job and I have done this before for the odd mistake in fairisle patterns.

Still, what this brought home to me was the need for absolute concentration. Knitting this small is a bit tiring, but it's the mental tiredness that gets to you, so I spend up to an hour a day on it now - enough to do 4 to 6 pattern rows.

So, having done today's stint, I'm now going to start Other Half's christmas sweater - he has pronounced himself satsfied with the colour and yarn I selected last week. Onwards...

Saturday, 25 September 2010

It's that time of year again...

Summer knitting behind me, and the nights drawing in, it's time to get out the wool and start winter knitting. Having made a reasonably successful attempt at Sanquhar gloves last year, I've started on another pair, this time in the Prince of Wales pattern. I learned a lot from the last pair, and picked yarn which was 3 ply thickness, 1.5mm needles from the start, and met the 10.5 sts to 1 in gauge straight away. More on the yarn below, but one change I've made since last time is to knit using 5 needles. Traditionally I knit on 4 in the round (the British way) but having struggled with ladders and seen suggestions that knitting on 5 helps, I've tried it and it does make a difference, the angles between the needles are not nearly as acute.

I've now finished the two colour rib and started on the spot banding. The last pair took 2 months, so I hope to have them finished by December, at a rate of an hour or two per day - more than that is a bit torturous given the tiny needles, but these gloves are very hard to put down!

The yarn for the gloves is new, the brown an undyed welsh black, both machine knitting yarns from Fairfield Yarns. I've been meaning to go for months, but have concentrated on using up my stash, so yesterday I finally got there. It's an Aladdin's cave, full of all sorts of things and I had a good rummage. The orange yarn above was an unusually small cone, but perfect for the gloves - in reality, machine yarns are the only ones thin enough for Sanquhar gloves. Above is a cone of undyed Blue Faced Leicester, so, so soft and this will be good for dyeing.
I also found this british wool - a light grey/dark grey ply around 3 ply weight. No idea what I'm going to do with it, I just liked it.
And this for my Other Half's Christmas Sweater - if he likes it. I've knitted up a swatch and washed it (the yarn is well oiled for machining) and it looks rather nice. So I'll see if it will be suitable for Himself.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Balwen Skirt finished - finally!

And finally, seven months after starting it, here is my Balwen skirt. I bought the fleece in 2008, finished spinning it over a year later and started knitting then. It blocked really well, and looks lovely though I don't think I'll be feeling cold when wearing it as it is so, so warm.
The fleece is rich in lanolin, and the texture quite stiff, so it's probably best for outergarments which will be well worn. One of the things I hate about knitted skirts is the way they sag round the behind, so I chose this pattern and yarn deliberately to avoid that. I think it will work out well.

So now onto the stole I'm knitting with some recycled Rowan Summer Fleece...

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Recycling

I made this sweater out of Rowan Summer Tweed several years ago but haven't really worn it much recently, plus it had a hole on the front, so I decided to recycle it. I was a bit disappointed with summer tweed - I found it lost its shape rather easily, particularly on certain kinds of stitch patters such as the moss stitch you can see above. So it became rather baggy and shapeless.

After several hours of unravelling, here is the yarn ready for re-knitting. Since I know a shaped garment is a no-no with this yarn, and the yarn is old, I've decided to make a stole out of it as shape won't matter. Just need to decide on stitch pattern.
I've also picked up my balwen skirt again - I'm 3/4 of the way up the front now (already done the back), but it's hard going as the yarn is stiff and I'm knitting to a tight gauge so I can only do a couple of hours. The stitch markers you see in the photo above are recycled old earrings - very effective and very cheap.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Halcyon

I finished this a few days ago, but then had to wash it. It's a Rowan pattern, but I used Drops Safran yarn. Safran is lovely to work with, though the dye wasn't completely fast and came off on my fingers after a couple of hours of knitting. Still it worked well for this pattern and looks lovely.

It's an interesting construction - you start at the waist, do the ribbing and then knit downwards for the frill (you do the same on the sleeves). This means you do the pattern upside down for a bit, which was unusual but very clever. Then you cast off, rejoin at the waist and work upwards.


The neck is quite wide on me; I have narrow, sloping shoulders and the sleeves are a bit longer than I expected as a result. They always use models with wide, square shoulders, not the average woman! But it looks lovely - better than it looks in the photo above.
My only gripe is the pattern/chart. I hate charts, with a passion. I just can't work with them, and in this case, the pattern chart is tiny, I mean really tiny, with little coloured lines showing where you start according to which size, whether you're doing the back/front, the cuffs or upper sleeves (yes, three different places to start for one garment). They do blow up the main pattern, but you can't use that for where to start/finish. So I sat there and peered at it for a while, writing it out. Of course, I made a couple of mistakes as a result, but worked those out fairly quickly.

The other problem was where the pattern changes over at the 13th row - I offset it by one stitch first time out as I followed the chart exactly (I thought). Studying the pictures made me realise my mistake. The picture above shows the pattern how it should be - it would have been easier if the pattern writers had included a similar one.

I've never knit a whole garment in a complicated pattern like this, so it was satisfying. In fact, once I got used to it, the pattern wasn't too difficult, but with all lace knitting you have the problem of forgetting the occasional yarn overs. It's actually quite a substantial garment, will be cosy for the chilly evenings to come.