Saturday, 28 May 2011

Aargh! Disaster!

So last night I got out the gansey to do a couple of hours on it, worked half a round when snap! one of the needles broke.

Really, really irritating, but since it is a Christmas present I think I have time to get more...

Monday, 23 May 2011

Not Knitting This Week

Some crochet for a change this week. This is going to be a bag, the pattern's from Simply Knitting magazine and my Mum really liked it. Since she doesn't crochet (I taught myself) she asked me to make it for her birthday. I like the way this is constructed, with scallops worked as whole motifs along the row. It's easy and grows quickly with a 5mm hook. The yarn is Patons cotton DK, which is a lovely cotton I've used before, b0th as DK and 4 ply.
It needs a lining so I went hunting in the remnants shop for a suitable piece of fabric. This proved more difficult than you'd think, it turned out the shades of pink were not normal pinks, but with a strong hint of purple. So this fabric was the closest I could get. I'm also having trouble finding a handle of the correct design, will have to hunt around the internet as none of the handles I've seen in shops so far will work. I'm hoping to finish the crochet part of the bag this week so I can spend time on the lining and handles problem.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Knitting Progress 3rd week of May

I started my Sanquhar (Prince of Wales pattern) gloves months ago and they got a bit neglected due to the amount of other knitting at the time. So I'm determined to get them finished and this week made excellent progress. After the false start when I discovered I was knitting a second left glove, a small amount of ripping back and some serious concentration has happily resulted in a right glove instead. I've got the hang of this pattern now; I think Sanquhar gloves are one of those patterns where you improve second time round. This second glove is better than the first, no mistakes in the pattern (that I can see anyway!) and the tension is more consistent. As you can see, the pattern creates lines up the back of the hand, rather like where a leather glove is sewn to create raised sections. Rather a nice effect, I think.
And here's the palm showing the thumb gusset. There are two downsides with this pattern; firstly to create the right glove you have to read the instructions for the left glove, but backwards (yes, really!). Secondly, it repeats rows regularly and this makes it easy to lose track of the stitch number in the thumb gusset as it doesn't specify how many stitches there are in the thumb gusset on the fifth time you knit that row. At one point I probably forgot an increase and the first I knew of it was when it threw the pattern out following. Then of course, I had the dilemma of whether I had missed the increase at the start or the end of the gusset. No idea, so I had to guess. Every so often it does give you an overall stitch count so I just aimed for that and hoped for the best. Oh, and it says "XX stitches and 31 gusset stitches" when it means "XX stitches including 31 gusset stitches", just to make your life even more interesting! Still, the fun is in the challenge with these gloves. So now I just have the fingers and thumb to do - easy enough, just exceedingly fiddly, so I'm hoping to get them finished in the next week.
I also cast on the silk/cotton yarn which I got on Friday. When you buy yarn remnants, they're often oiled, which can throw the gauge out a bit. This is a good example - you can see the difference in the photo above. After washing out the oil, the yarn fluffs up; the gauge was 23.75 stitches before washing, 22 after, so it really pays to do a proper swatch. Of course I'm always too impatient to do a proper size swatch, I knit as little as I think I can get away with!

This is going to be a simple sleeved sweater, shaped at the waist. I'm not using a pattern, just making it up as I go along. It's on 2mm needles (UK 14) so it will take a while, but there's no hurry, it's just an easy occupation in the evening.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Birthday Yarn

It's my Mum's birthday next month, and she wants me to crochet a bag for her so today we went the local woolshop to choose the yarn. It's Patons cotton (DK) - this cotton is a lovely yarn, there's nothing better. So I have to start it this weekend...
Of course, while I was there I spied this lovely yarn in the sale bin. A gorgeous tweedy purple, so I bought all 11 balls - Patons wool tweed. It's DK but the shop owner assured me it would also knit up as a light aran on larger needles. So this has gone into my winter stash box, i.e. wool for knitting up later in the year. I've no idea what I'll do with it, but that's half the fun!
Then we went off to Fairfield yarns to look for nice remnant yarns. Originally the idea was for Mum to buy me a particular garden tool for my birthday next week, but this tool proved hard to get and ridiculously expensive so I suggested she should buy me some yarn instead. She's a bit aggrieved because my finds were too inexpensive! Anyway, we start with a lovely Italian yarn which looks so much better in the flesh than in the photo. It's a lovely shiny yarn, brown with flecks in it, mostly a blue/green colour. I'm told it contains linen, viscose and some other things, but he was unable to locate another cone with the label intact.
And this is a silk/cotton mix, slightly slubby so will knit up into a textured sweater, I think. This also has flecks of other colours in it, mostly light blue and green, so I'm looking forward to starting with this.
And another thing for my winter stash - lambswool in a lovely petrol colour. Why do we call blue green "petrol"? It's not like it actually resembles the colour of petrol, which has no colour at all. Anyway, I fell in love with this colour as soon as I saw it. Gorgeous.

I like knitting with coned yarns, but you do have to swatch rigorously, something I'm not particularly good at generally. The first thing I'll do is wet one end of the yarn to see what happens - coned yarns are often wound so tightly they're compressed so you don't see the full effect. Once I've determined roughly what thickness the yarn will be once knitted and washed, I can start experimenting with swatches and different needle sizes. I'm very lucky to have a remnant shop nearby, the variety of yarns available is amazing. Most of them are fine, some too fine for handknitting, but there are some glorious mixes and unusual yarns - baby camel, alpaca, silk, cashmere, angora and designer yarns.

So I have a gansey to progress, Sanquhar gloves to finish (made good progress this week), a birthday present to crochet and itchy fingers as I want to make a start on these new yarns...

Oh, and I also have to work for a living, shame.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Gansey Part 2

I've made good progress on the gansey in the last couple of weeks, finishing the rib and starting the pattern. Here you can see the full repeat; cable and a triangle type thingy (half-flag?) bounded by moss stitch on either side. When I was doing my sample knit, what I realised was that what you put on either side is as important as the main pattern. So I have a vertical rib on either side of the cable, with a 6 stitch moss stitch pattern in between.
The triangle pattern has a vertical rib on one side only, which is how it was worked on the examples I looked at, with 2 purl stitches on the right side to set the pattern off. This is a really easy pattern to work but looks quite striking. I thought about doing another main pattern in the body but decided against it as it would look too "busy" to my eyes. Happily Other Half liked the cable and this the best, so I just inserted moss stitch between to keep textural interest.
Here's the cable, a 6 stitch cable twisting to the right. The only question I have in my mind about this is whether it's a bit too "tight" and whether I should add an extra row before the next twist. As always, my sample doesn't look quite the same as the finished version, I seem to be knitting slightly tighter, probably due to the extra stitches/weight on the needles. So I'm going to add one row before the next cable twist and see how it looks.

Although the patterning looks complicated, I find doing this much easier than, say, a lace pattern which requires much more concentration. With a gansey, you just "read" the knitting and know what comes next. With lace you have to actually think about it rather than figure it out. So I think this gansey may take me less time than I expected, as I'm perfectly able to knit while watching TV, with the one exception of the new series of Doctor Who, which requires my full attention as I haven't got a clue what's going on!