Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Using up my Stash

 A few years ago an over-enthusiastic postman broke the draft excluder on the inside of my letter box and since then there has been a gale blowing through it.  So I decided Something Had to be Done and in the interests of using up some of my stash, selected a thick handspun Balwen yarn from my collection.
 This yarn turned out to be great draught-excluder material.  I crocheted this almost square, just making it slightly smaller at one end.  This was because I wanted to fold it over for maximum thickness:
 I removed the old draught excluder, folded the new one so the shortest side was on front and then used two screws to attach it in exactly the same place as the old one.  The  short edge was pulled tight as a result, thus pressing the other edge flat against the door and making a good seal.  You cannot believe the difference this piece of fabric makes in the hall!
 Next was some yarn left over from one of my Other half's sweaters.  I found a nice beret pattern in an old edition of Inside Crochet, and adapted it for this thicker yarn by using a bigger hook and reducing the number of rows.
 I'm not a beret person, so I'm wearing it something like this.  Nice and cosy and it doesn't mess up my hair too much.
 This yarn was left over alpaca from a sweater I made for Mum last Christmas.  This crochet pattern was designed for DK yarn, not the 4 ply I used, but as she has tiny, tiny hands, I just downsized the hook and I think these handwarmers will fit perfectly.  The photo would look better if they were worn at the time but I don't want to stretch them by putting them on.
Finally, a laceweight sweater for me.  The brown yarn is alpaca, the cream pure wool, both coned yarns for machine knitting.  They fluff up after washing.  This sweater was inspired by a thin sweater I saw in Next in October.  An easy way to use up spare yarn.

I still have lots of yarn in my stash, am determined to use it up, so will keep at it....

Saturday, 24 November 2012

A Glove's Tale

When, I got this pair of gloves out, I noticed that Stephen appeared to have had a fight with some barbed wire!  So, I decided to knit another pair.
 On the back is a star pattern, on the palm a chevron pattern.  There's a small border at the wrist.  If you think the gloves look a strange shape, well they are made to fit OH's strangely shaped hands!  The yarns are 4 ply, left over from other projects.
The patterns are taken from this book, A Shetland Knitters Notebook, which contains lots of charts of original patterns, a real treasure.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Knitting and Crochet this week...

 I really wanted to finish this sweater this week, it's one of my few long sleeve sweaters, which I will need soon as it is turning colder.  It's knitted in Debbie Bliss Donegal Tweed; I've used this yarn before and discovered from experience that as it is a roving yarn, it needs a pattern rather than plain knit, or it twists. The pattern is from a recent Knitting Magazine, though there it is done in a striped knit pattern rather than plain.  Having this wool in my stash, I decided it would be a good choice for a sweater.
 The neck is one in crochet (you can do a knitted edge if you want), though I had to adjust it as the pattern was too much for this neckline.  So instead of 5 htr/tr in each dc, there are only three.  It's not as scalloped as the original as a result, but fits better.
 Another crochet project was this scarf, using a pattern from a book, shell mesh, plus standard shells on the bottom (as in the mustard tunic above).  The slightly uneven look to this scarf is largely down to the yarn, which is a handspun silk.  Never again, silk is awful to spin by hand, so the yarn is a bit thin 'n' thick, hence the slighty uneven appearance.
But as a scarf, no-one will notice, it feels lovely against the skin and drapes well, what more could a girl want?

Monday, 19 November 2012

Some washed handspun

I really need to get on with spinning up the fleece sitting under my stairs, so to motivate myself I washed the skeins I had already finished.  It's a DK weight, and has washed quite well, I do intend to dye it but have no idea what colour!  Anyway, it's a start, just another 3/4 of a bin bag to go...

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Lacy Mohair Sweater

 This pattern came from Knitting Magazine 100th edition and it's been on my list for a while.  In September I went to the Craft event in Manchester and bought a lovely lace mohair yarn from the lovely lady at Debonnaire.  Totally gorgeous yarn, as always, and it has knitted up beautifully.
 The pattern is a bit counter-intuitive as you are knitting and purling on both wrong and right sides at different times, so you do have to concentrate on the 18 row pattern.  In addition, knitting in lace mohair has its drawbacks - the fabric is fairly transparent so it can be difficult to see which side is which, especially in low light.  Add to that the dark colour and, well, it did cause me a few panics at times.
 This is what the lace panel looks like, or should look like.  I must say it does not look exactly like the one in the magazine, which has three clearly defined "lacey" rows.  I suspect this is due to the way I did my M1 in the first pattern row.  The pattern does not define exactly how to make this stitch, just says to pick up the yarn between the two K2 tog stitches.  So that's what I did.  This of course creates a smaller hole, if I had knitted into the back of the stitch it might not be so obvious.  But I decided I rather liked this look so didn't bother.
 The pattern calls for shaping on the body section.  If you have ever tried to shape lace, you know the problems that can cause.  Here's what happens when you get the pattern wrong while increasing or decreasing - instead of nice zig zags in the lace, I have a few straight lines.  My advice is to knit the sleeves first as they are straight, that way you can learn to read the pattern to avoid mistakes.  I learned that the P2 tog should be a normal stitch + a yarn over from a former row, in the later pattern row you work the yarn over + the normal stitch and as long as you can read this as you get there, the pattern is right.  It can be difficult to do the mental arithmetic " I've increased 2 stitches since doing the first row so, this stitch should be X", so by doing the sleeves first you learn the pattern and avoid mistakes in the body.
 So, once I got my head round the pattern, all went well.  The sleeves are raglan, so once you have the four pieces, you knit the neckband on top.  This was challenging for the reasons mentioned above, getting the right pieces in the right order, and with all the right sides facing in the same direction.  Once the border is done, you then seam the pieces together.  It was at this point that I had a nervous breakdown. I had just finished the third seam and held it up to look at it, when I noticed something was wrong.  I had put one of the seams on the wrong side!  Aargh! A closer look and I thought I could see the reason - I had put one of the sleeves in back to front.  Disaster.  It was late, I decided to put it aside until the morning and look at it then.  Meanwhile, I was thinking through all the options:
1. Wear it with one sleeve the wrong way out
2. Rip back the neckband, reattach the sleeve the right way and redo the neckband
3. Undo the offending seam, gently cut the neckband and reattach it with a seam all the way up, barely noticeable under my hair.

So next day I put it in the good light on the windowsill and looked at it again.  Guess what?  The sleeve was on the right way round after all and all I had to do was resew the seam on the correct side.  Panic over! Just goes to show when you think you've gone wrong you should put it  down and come back to it later.
 I've also finished a simple short sweater, in SMC Select Highland Alpaca Fino.  This was supposed to be Langdale by Lily France, but I started knitting it and gave up about 10 rows in.  I just couldn't make sense of the pattern at all.  I'm no novice knitter and I can't think of the last time I gave up on a pattern, but it just wasn't going to work.  So I swapped to SMC Select Moments 003, pattern 1724.   A quick and easy knit.
As always though, with a yarn which is a single ply, it does have a tendency to twist slightly when washed, so you do have to shape it carefully while wet to avoid this.

That's another couple of projects finished, still more on the go, as always!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

A Little Crochet

 I got this book earlier in the year, it's a treasure and I've been keen to try it out, but I also don't want to buy more yarn, so using up my stash is key.
 So I picked this which combines using stash yarn with one of my favourite techniques - motif crochet.
Sadly the camera does not capture the colour well, it's burgundy with variegations.  What's nice about this pattern is that the front uses one motif and back is made up of different motifs, such a clever idea.
Finally,  this is a adhoc project, using my handwoven silk, small in quantity and not good enough quality (the spinning, not the silk!) for heavy wear.  So this is going to be a scarf, in a shell and mesh design. I got the pattern from The Knitting and Crochet Bible and decided it would work well with the silk. I have other knitting projects on the go, but crochet is a different action which takes pressure off my overworked right elbow!

Friday, 12 October 2012

So much knitting, so little time!

 Have been very busy lately, so this blog has got a little neglected.  I do hope to remedy that over the winter, but in the meantime here is a snapshot of what I'm up to.  This is SMC Select Highland Alpaca Fino, which is being made into a sweater, though it started out as a different sweater - long story which I shall no doubt relate in due course.
 This is a laceweight mohair sweater,  which I shall also feature at slightly more length shortly.  A very satisfying project.
And finally, I went to the Manchester Crafting expo on the hunt for some laceweight mohair (above) and any other bargains I could find.  I found this pack of Debbie Bliss in a gorgeous mustard colour, at a nice discount.    I have knitted with it before so knew the kind of pattern I wanted and have finally found one I think will do the job, just need to finish the sweater at the top of this page first before I will allow myself to start it!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Woolly Layers

 Just as the weather starts to turn colder, I have finished my first woolly knit of the season.  This year I'm trying to create garments which can be layered with other types of clothes as the season demands.  This short sleeved sweater is just perfect for that, here it is with a cotton top underneath.
The pattern is easy and knitted in dk so it grows quickly.  This yarn was an ebay find, oiled for machine knitting so I did take a chance.  It has fluffed up beautifully after washing so should be warm too.  I have enough left for another sweater so my £8.50 went a long way!  The picture doesn't do it justice, the colour is a marked pink, for some reason the camera washes out the colour from the sides.  Lace knitting is certainly fashionable at the moment, but you don't have to knit in laceweight,  this sweater shows what you can do with a more bulky yarn.

The pattern is from The Ultimate Knitting Stylebook which was a magazine/book published earlier this year.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Knitting in August

 I have been busy knitting, mostly fine summer yarns which take forever!  This one is in a remnant machine yarn which shrinks slightly when washed.  I had already worked out the shrinkage so knitted a couple of sizes bigger to compensate.   It shrinks a little more lengthwise at 12.5% compared to widthwise at 10%, so it isn't quite the shape the pattern indicates.   Since I'm short in the body that isn't a problem but it is one of the perils of using unusual yarns.  It’s a nice layering piece for summer.
This is another summer knit but it won't be finished until next summer!  It's called Daydream by Marie Wallington and I'm using Patons 4 ply cotton.

One of the reasons it will take so long is that it's fiendishly complicated, with a 70 row pattern which takes a massive amount of concentration.  I also have a minor problem with my left arm and I find this comfortable to knit only for shirt periods.   You can't see the pattern easily in this photo as it isn't lying quite flat and will need wet blocking.  But it is very pretty and we'll worth the effort, at present I'm close to finishing the back.  Now that I've got the hang of the pattern, I'll post a but more about this when I start the front.
 I wanted to start knitting with a recent purchase of lovely alpaca wool, but found my Mum had the pattern book I needed, so I have started another project instead.  This yarn is a lovely pinkish colour and us another machine remnant I found in Ebay.  It's oiled and a bit stiff, so I decided it would hold a lace pattern well.  It's knitting quickly as it's on large needles,  so this will be done in a few weeks, the back is already done.  I'm getting quite into 'layering' pieces as it gives more options for wearing and it has short sleeves.  The wavy shaping us a function of the lace pattern, so it's easy.
I always have a few projects on the go at the same time and as we move into autumn I like to have a simple knit in the needles which allows me to watch TV at the same time.  This is another machine remnant, silk and cotton and very soft.   I've chosen a 2 x 2 rib so it will be a close fitting base garment over which I can wear other things.

Lots of knitting to do, not enough time to do it!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Feeding My Addiction

I just had to visit the woolshop this week.  She's going on holiday soon, so I wanted to get some yarn for my last summer knit and my first autumn one.  The green 4 ply is Patons, for a lacy sweater which I've been wanting to knit fir over a year.  The other yarn is for a short sleeved sweater, it's SMC Highland Alpaca Fino, which I've used before and like a lot.

Anyway, I've cast on the summer sweater, as you can see.  It's going fast so far!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Summer Knitting

 I am trying to knit more summer sweaters and cardigans as our "summer" is more like autumn these days.  This is a cardigan from Noro Catwalk Two, which has provided several garments now.  I knitted it in Araucania aran cotton.   It’s quite short but will add an extra layer on our chilly summer days.

I'm particularly proud of the buttons, which I found in a local antiques shop.  I try to recycle buttons wherever possible but after perusing the trays of buttons arranged by colour, thought I wouldn't be able to get some of exactly the right colour.  But then I spotted a box on the bottom shelf containing bags of coat buttons.  I hunted through the collection and found these - 3 for £1.  There were actually four buttonholes on the cardi so since I only had three,  I closed up the bottom one with some swiss darning. .
I'm currently working on this sleeveless sweater, in a 4 ply mixed linen yarn.  It is slow work being a fine yarn.  The colour shows strangely in this photo, the edges are more representative of the colour.  I tried this machine remnant out in a crochet pattern and determined that shrinkage was around 10%, so I'm knitting two sizes bigger to compensate.   Hope to have more on this next time.

I'm also planning my next project, in hemp...

Monday, 18 June 2012


This is Carys, which turned out to be a surprisingly quick knit.  The yarn is Sandesgarn DK, which was nice to work with.  The pictures are taken before blocking, couldn't wait, so it doesn't look quite its best.  It looks great over a darker top.  The pattern was in The Knitter 45.

There are several different patterns, and one in particular was fiddly, you can just see it at the top and bottom of the pattern in the centre of the photo.  It involved wrapping the yarn around the needle three  times and then dropping the loops on the next row, then binding them together to create a kind of sheaf shape.
My only quibble with this pattern is the yarn allocation; while I did use a different yarn, I was only couple of hundred metres short of the required length.  But I was very short of yarn.  I shortened the armhole section (and then, by necessity, the sleeve head), did a simple garter stitch neckline and reduced the sleeve length by omitting the first two repeats of the border pattern.  Still, it was close, after sewing up I had 10cm of yarn left!  So if you fancy knitting this, you might want to think about buying one or two extra balls.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Mum's Birthday Cardigan

 The second of the three projects I've finished this week is my Mum's birthday cardigan.  This was a pattern from Simply Knitting and she really liked the colour of the one in the magazine.  It's knitted in Debbie Bliss Bella, and while it was difficult to get the yarn,  it has knitted up really well.  It has gentle waist shaping, and the only difficult thing about it was the patterns had different repeats - one 8 rows, one 24.  So a bit of mental arithmetic was called for.
Here's a close up of the two patterns, looking an odd shade of pink for some reason.  Finding buttons for this colour was a challenge, with the help of Sue in the woolshop, we found some see-through buttons which blend in quite well.  So all ready for the birthday this week.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Vintage Lace Sweater

 I've written about this project before, but I've finally finished it and so here's a recap.  This pattern was from a 1940s book, and therefore gave a couple of problems.  Firstly, it was written in only one size, 34 inches. After a bit of experimentation I discovered that my gauge was off for this and using the needles specified it would turn out bigger anyway, which it needed to be for me.  Secondly, what did "M1" mean in the pattern?  Using the rather imprecise glossary in the book and my experience of lace knitting, I decided it meant YO and when I did that, hey presto, it looked the way it did in the photos.  The alternate semi-solid and open lace pattern runs 3/4 of the way up, and the yoke is done in openwork with a central semi-solid panel.
 When I was knitting it, it looked very short and wide.  I'm not fanatical about blocking, I rarely do it but I make an exception for lace knitting, especially this kind of project which I did in laceweight alpaca, a cone of which I had in my stash.  You can see the problem from the picture above, the patterning contracts the vertical stitch height.  This picture was taken after I had rinsed the sweater and before I blocked it.
 And here it is carefully pinned out to its full length.  There is no actual waist shaping, I created that purely by not pulling out the sides but instead pinning the bottom slightly wider.
The original pattern had a tight ribbing at the bottom of the body and sleeves, characteristic of the 1940s.  But they also showed a version knitted in fine cotton, which had a simple short ribbing the same width as the body, plus a crocheted collar.  I ditched the crochet but did the ribbing on all the ends after I had knitted each piece, as it took that long to decide what I was going to do!  I've just noticed that the sweater isn't hung quite straight in this picture so the pattern looks a little slanted across the chest, it isn't really.

Was it worth months of careful and slow work, plus the frustration of reconstructing the openwork lace on the three occasions I accidentally pulled some stitches off the needles?  Most definitely!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Wriggle Cardigan

This has been a fairly quick knit, hampered only by the fact I didn't have nearly enough yarn.   As a result one of the sleeves has been part re-knitted twice, and the other one once.

It has what the pattern calls a "wriggle" stitch, which is a chain of stitches created by yon, then passing the previous stitch over several times.   Unusual and fun.  Anyway it's a nice summer cardigan,  knitted in Patons cotton.

Next project is my Mum's birthday present...

Saturday, 7 April 2012


I finally finished this rather lovely sweater this week.  The pattern is by Sarah Hatton, in The Knitter.

The main stitch used in this is an eyelet stitch, which involves knitting 3 together, yo and k3 tog again.  This is fiddly and I found it hard on my hands, given that it's a summer top in a non-stretchy cotton yarn.  If you're a tight knitter, you can forget it!  But what's worse is that the second time you do the eyelet stitch in the repeat, you're supposed to do it through the back of the loop.  I drew the line at the gymnastics required to achieve this, so instead I did a slip 1, k2 tog, yo, k2 tog again, psso.  It looks very similar to the tbl version but is much, much easier.  If I stuck with the tbl, it wouldn't be finished until winter!

The lace pattern at the top is nice and easy, once you get into it, and it fits beautifully.  It's supposed to be a generous fit but I knitted down a size.  From experience, "summer"yarns tend to stretch and sag, and I've found that my shape these days due to increased exercise means that I'm a smaller dress size at the shoulders than at the chest.  On balance, I prefer the shoulders of garments to fit rather than drop off, and so it's a closer fit across the chest than the pattern suggests.

I used Louisa Harding Albero for this top, which is a nice yarn with a lovely drape, in my opinion.  Feels good too.