Monday, 30 December 2013

Christmas Mittens

 Mum really liked these mittens which were in a recent Knitter Magazine.  The trouble is she has really tiny hands, so I took the view that I needed to knit them on smaller needles.  My test knitting suggested that 2 sizes down would be about right but when I actually started, that seemed a bit too much.  The cuffs are supposed to be more flared than they are now, but Mum did not want them that wide so I knitted the cuffs 2 sizes down and the body 1 size down, 1.75 and 2.25mm respectively.  The finished diameter of the hand was 18cm.
 I had never done the two colour cast on before, so I found a video on U Tube and it worked really well.  The twined knitting was also new to me, more on that later.  This edge is very firm and pretty.
 You can see the cuff shaping here, it does come in at the wrist.
 Increasing for the thumb gusset was no problem, but does require concentration so you getthe colours in the right place.  Generally I did a maximum of  10 rounds of knitting per evening, it took over one hour but that was enough, with the tiny needles and the patterning.
 This is the back of the glove, you just need to place the stitches on the needles carefully to avoid having problems in the section change from black/white, if you have a needle change on the border you can end up with lumpy or stretched stitches.  Make sure you catch the stitches in regularly too.
 The instructions say to leave the thumb stitches on the waste yarn - this is a bad idea as the stitches reabsorb and it's hard to pick them up.  On the second mitten I put them on a safety pin which was much easier.
 Here's one glove finished, before blocking.  You can see the shaping nicely here.
Instead fairisle, I did the twined technique for yarn carrying as recommended.  In this case they suggest taking the yarn over on one round and then under on the next to unwind it.  Generally this worked really well.  This is a pic of the lining with the twined yarn - it creates a really firm, dense fabric which is just what you need for mittens.  Fiddly, but worth the effort.

I used Jamieson & Smith shetland wool which makes them extra cosy too as the yarn meshes together more than normal yarn.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

New and Christmas Knits

 Trying to use up my stash, this time a blue variegated coned yarn, I am nearing the end of this adapted cardigan.  2 ply knitting on 3.25mm needles, hasn't been a quick knit!
 This is the back of a tunic (shown sideways) in mohair which is now nearly finished, I do like using mohair for a light sweater.  Great when you need a little extra warmth.
My Mum asked for some colourwork mittens for Christmas, I will be returning to this project in my next post.  It is done in twined knitting and here you can see the bottom edge of the mitt, with a herringbone braid which shows up rather beautifully here.  More on this at a later date...

Friday, 18 October 2013

Using up the Stash - Crochet Cardigan

 My quest to use up my stash continues, but this project still left two skeins of Araucania behind!  More socks to come, I suppose.  This was a nice project, with an interesting pattern.
Rows of differing heights add texture, the pattern is the Fiji Cardigan from Dora Ohrenstein's book Custom Crocheted Sweaters.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Using up my Stash Part 4

 I am still trying to get my vast quantities of materials down, and this is the latest.  These are mitts which reach almost to the elbow and great for this time of year. The pattern is from Knitting 110 and features a plain stocking stitch palm.
 The yarn is a Blue Faced Leicester which I bought on a cone a few years ago.  It goes a really long way, I have already made the world's longest shawl with it, and hoped this project would finish it off, but it still goes on!  I now have to find something else to make with this!
This is not so much using up my stash as recycling.  I really hate throwing things away if there is still some use in them and while jersey tops may no longer be completely wearable, often there is  good stretch of fabric which can still be used.  So I have cut a number of tops up into long continuous strips and crocheted a pouff using a 10mm hook.  Inside there is a cushion cover made of an old pair of trousers (two circles of fabric, if you cut off one seam of the trouser leg and open it out you get a good piece of cloth), and the cushion itself is stuffed with old clothes and old knitting - a sweater which has felted and matted, for example.  This is very nice to rest my feet on as I knit!

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Using up my stash Part 3 - Hemp Yarn

 A few years ago, I bought some hemp yarn at Woolfest and ever since I've been mulling over what to do with it.  Taking the plunge was difficult as I had never used this yarn before, did not have a huge quantity and couldn't find a pattern I liked.
 In the end I went for a Drops pattern I had in my collection and I think the yarn worked really well with it; the crochet stitches are clear and I found it easy to work.  I'd definitely think about using it again.  At present the yarn feels a bit stiff but I am told it softens over time.
 The other issue with this yarn was the gauge.  The advice from the maker was to bear in mind the garment may stretch and end up bigger.  I therefore didn't worry too much about being a little over gauge.  This photo shows it before was washed and dried - you can just see that the tape measure reaches 10 inches.
 To my surprise, after washing and drying it now measures 9 inches!  This was not what I expected.  But I didn't actually block it as it was a dreadful drying day, so I'm wondering if I block it properly, would it be bigger?  It still fits, so I am going to wear it now to see what happens with the size!
Here's a close-up of the pattern, with the front border attached.  A pretty pattern and fun to make.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Cockleshell Lace Sweater

 This was an impulse knit from some very cheap yarn I found at Boundary Mill recently.  It's a mixture of bamboo and cotton and drapes beautifully.  As lace knits go, this is a very easy one, with lots of plain knit and purl, so good TV knitting.  It's stretchy and fits the figure nicely, with the shaping introduced to the sides.
The sleeves are simpler, with just a column of the lace pattern down the centre, making shaping very easy.  They're also a nice length, finishing just above the wrist.  The neckline is finished in crochet, which is a clever idea as the stretchy fabric would otherwise gape,  the crochet pulls it in and creates a firm edge which does not stretch.
Here's a close-up of the patterns.  The bottom edge has two patterns, the first creating a scalloped edge and the second is the cockleshell pattern itself.  The main body is done in columns of alternating lace and cockleshell, quite easy once you have learned it.  This is likely to be my last knit for summer, though I still have some hemp yarn to play with. I have lots of other  projects to work on though, to try to use up all the stuff I have bursting out of cupboards!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Crochet Cardi

When I saw this in Simply Crochet magazine,  it was one of those "why didn't I think of that " moments.  Noro or any similarly dyed yarn is perfect for crochet as it creates great stripes.
As is often the case with me and Crochet, I couldn't get the gauge required, so I did have fewer stitches in the row than directed, but I did the decreases exactly as in the pattern and it worked fine.
I did use a 3mm hook for the bottom, followed by 2.5mm and then finally the 2.25mm hook for the rest.  This has made a slightly flared lower edge which looks better than straight sides for me.  I used a 2.5mm hook for the edging (except the bottom edge in 3mm), as I found the 2.25mm a little tight.   The yarn is Noro kureyon sock.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Mum's Birthday Sweater

 Bit of a rush to finish this in time for Mum's birthday, but here is her birthday sweater!  The pattern was in Knitting Magazine recently (more details on Ravelry) but was knitted in bamboo cotton.  We were unable to find this yarn or a substitute she liked, so settled on this wool/polyamid yarn from Patons - Soft Tweed.  The yarn was hard work as it was slubby and didn't slip off the needles well, probably not the best choice for a lace sweater.  The other issue with it is as a single ply it has twisted slightly as you can just see in the photo.  It really isn't noticeable when worn, and it may settle a bit with wear.
 The other problem I had with this sweater was that I couldn't make the gauge, so I decided to use that to my advantage.  Mum is very curvy and sweaters that fit at the shoulders are too tight across the chest, for example.  So I did the bottom section in a 4mm needle, half a pattern in 3.75, the waist section in 3.25, then half a pattern in 3.75 and the bust area in 4mm.  After the armholes I went to 3.25 to make the shoulders narrow.  As you can see from the photo above, there is a distinct curve in this edge which shows the effect of the shaping.
 You can see the effect clearer here - this is a shot of the waist to the armhole before sewing up, and the change is obvious.  This sweater should have been the same width from top to bottom, but changing needles is a great way to introduce some gentle shaping without the palaver of having to increase/decrease in a lace pattern.
Here is the pattern after washing - the circles at the bottom edge are fiddly but very unusual and distinctive.  It was a hard knit, but Mum loves it so that's all that matters.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Daydream, or maybe nightmare...

 This has to be the hardest and longest knit I've ever done, though it does look stunning over a white shirt.  Its called Daydream and is by Marie Wallin, I think it was published by Rowan but I got it from Knitting Magazine in February 2011.  I started it last summer, but it was a tough knit and as the "summer" dragged on I realised I'd never wear it last year anyway, so I picked it up again a few months ago.
 So what makes it hard?  Well first it is a 70 row pattern, not kidding.  Secondly it is in 4 ply cotton and I found this very hard on my hands.  A couple of parts of the pattern drove me insane as it is hard to keep track of where you are, this is around row 60 I think.  Every time I reached this point I had to check, backtrack, reknit, check....  Actually I got quite paranoid in the end, believing I had gone wrong where I hadn't
 Was it.worth the effort?  Most definitely.  Would I do it again?  Not on your life!  It is slightly fitted around the waist, another thing that made it hard, though most of the decreases and increases are marked on the chart.  The sleeves were more difficult as you have to manage the increases and decreases manually.  Another issue with it was that as the cotton relaxed after being worked, it shrank slightly, so when you measured and knew you had reached the required length, it was slightly shorter a week later!
 The hems are knitted sideways and then you knit on upwards from one edge.  Easy to make mistakes on this knitting but it looks great.
 The neck is done the same way and slip-stitched in place - here it is, standing up from the shoulders.  I added a light spray of starch, not sure how upright it will stay in practice!
 But here I had a problem.  I rinsed it then blocked it, tugging out the points of the hem as I went.  As it dried I spotted something very upsetting.  It appears I had accidentally dropped a stitch somewhere and by tugging I had loosened it so it ran all down one side of a point.  What to do?
 I decided to get out a crochet hook, picked up the dropped stitch, then did a simple slip stitch along the edge, taking in the excess yarn as I went.  You can just see these "stitches" on the right side of this photo, the edge is less firmly worked than the left edge
I worked to the point, fastened the stitch off and wove the ends in on the back.  As I worked on the back of the hem, the repaired section is on the left in this picture.  It's barely visible as different to the other sides, so I feel this was a big success and a major relief!  No more 4 ply cotton lace knitting for me...

Friday, 19 April 2013

Vintage patterns

While waiting for my car to have new tyres fitted this morning, I had a bit of time to browse the shops.   I always have a wander through the charity shops,  and in one I found some old knitting patterns which are pretty much back in fashion.   These lace patterns are easily adapted , the only difficulty is figuring out what yarn to use. And they only cost 25p each!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

More Stash Busting...

 My drive to reduce the quantities of yarn hiding under the corner table continues (the yarn long since burst out of the cupboard).  This is the first of two mitts in Debbie Bliss Donegal Tweed aran, left over from a previous project.  The pattern serendipitously arrived this week in a supplement from Knitting Magazine. Should use every scrap of the yarn, yippee!
 Next is a lampshade covering which I started last year.  My plan now is to work down to the bottom in mesh, put some kind of edging on the bottom in the pale pink yarn you see at the top and then place occasional flowers/shapes/whateverthehellifancy at various points across the mesh, taking care not to miss the point in that it is supposed to shed light...  The main yarn is a dk cotton, but I will still have more yarn left so will have to find another project.
 This is another project I started last year, a 4ply cotton lace sweater.  As we never got a summer, I lost interest and put it away.  But now it has to be finished, summer or no summer!  It's a 70 row pattern which is unfortunately printed badly with slightly blurry edges, making it hard work.  I always get things wrong running up to row 60 and have to spend time pulling back or counting very carefully.  There are no "purl" rows in this so it does require a lot of concentration. The back is done and I am now approaching the armholes on the front, so I am making good progress.  I'm sure it will look good once blocked, at present it looks a bit messy, like all lace does when you're working it.
These bags contain the next part of my stash which has to go, they are all 4 ply but I have more of some than others.  At present my plan is to find a pattern or two to use as much of the multi coloured yarn on the left, then consider my options with the rest.  I have a large number of 4 ply crochet squares already made, so I am considering whether to dedicate the remainder to that project.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Using Up the Stash

 I'm on a mission to use up a lot of my stash and on-the-go projects before buying any more yarn.  So here is a long scarf made from 1.75 balls of Rowan Lace which I had left over from another project.  I do like Rowan Lace, and its softness makes a scarf a perfect choice.  This pattern was in Simply Knitting, and I love the decorative edge the stitch pattern makes.
 Here's a close-up of the pattern, not difficult to do as long as you remember where you are!  But I must confess that I was ready to finish it as handling a python like project is a bit tiresome.
 It is very long, and since the weather is still so cold there's plenty of time to wear it!

 Here's another stash project finished this week, a crochet  jacket which I intend to wear with a short sleeved T shirt in warmer temperatures than we have at the moment!  This was light relief from the long scarf.
I had really hoped the jacket would use up the yarn I had left - this was an Ebay bargain, cost around £5 and so far has produced a lacy sweater and the crochet jacket.  Will it never end?  So now I have to find more to knit with this yarn................... 

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Never Again...

A couple of years ago I bought some laceweight yarn on cones, including the cream wool and undyed alpaca used in this sweater.  I decided I wanted to knit a lightweight sweater using this yarn and took an existing though different pattern as a basis.  This was a mistake.  Knitting a large, loose sweater on No 13 needles should get you sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

The only thing that made this bearable was the striping, which introduced some variety and something to aim for when knitting this - try to get one stripe finished in an evening, though I actually never did!

The bottom edge is in moss stitch, at the time I thought this was not deep enough as it started curling after knitting.  I was right about this, blocking it took a lot of pins to get it to lie flat, and even then I wasn't wholly successful.

Still, I do like it and it will do nicely as an "all-seasons" sweater.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Intarsia & Fair Isle Sweater

 This was my first attempt at an intarsia project, never attempted this before though I have knit a lot of fair isle over the years.  Carrying the yarn behind was no problem, but how to deal with the turns at the end took a little practice.  Even then, you can see that some of the stitches at the end of the lines are a little misshapen, especially the brown ones, so I spent a little time with a blunt needle teasing them out and spreading the yarn so the stitches looked better.

Overall, I was pleased with the way it turned out though I did discover that my rigidity about how many stitches I knit before I catch in the yarn created some wrinkles, when I did them in the same place on every row.  Must be more unpredicatable in future!
 This was a definite boo-boo, though, made a mess trapping the yarn and it shows through.  I didn't spot it until too late.
 You can see what happened, I accidentally trapped the yarn in the same place on two rows.  But what to do?  The yarn is too short to cut and weave.  In the end I decided to leave it, figuring it is right by arm and may be hidden by the fabric.  If it still annoys me later I'll figure out what to do about it.
 Anyway, here is the finished sweater, I'm pretty happy with it and barring the slight problem mentioned above and the fact that apparently I couldn't count at times, getting too many stitches on some of the blue lines, it loos pretty good.
 Here's a close-up of the body pattern, same both back and front.
And this is the bottom, fair-isle patterning which was much easier technically albeit took a lot of concentration!  The yarn was Rowan Organic DK, a really nice yarn and good for this kind of patterning.