Thursday, 20 November 2014

A Relaxing Knit

Some time ago, probably at least two years, Kemps wool shop were selling various Regia sock yarns very, very cheap (I think it was when Coats moved their production and distribution from the UK to Germany -- or something like that).  I, of course, took advantage of this sale and bought eight balls of Regia Kaffe Fassett Design Line in one colour, as well as a couple of balls in another (those two were made into stripy socks for my mother).

I've looked at those eight balls from time to time, wondering what I could make them into, knowing that eight balls would be enough to make a sweater or cardigan, but not finding a pattern that grabbed me.

A month or so ago, I read a blog post by Kay Gardiner of Mason-Dixon knitting where she showed off (and quite rightly so, because it looks lovely on her) the version of the Relax sweater that she'd made.  'Ah-ha' I thought; 'I like this and I could make one from that stripy Regia yarn'.  So, I bought the pattern and read it through and decided how I could make the yarn and pattern work together.

I didn't want my version to be as loose-fitting as the original, so did some scribbling on paper and some maths and even swatched before deciding on size Small, with 3.25mm needles, which should give me some positive ease, but not too much.  And then I cast on, did the ribbing (which is folding back on itself, which I hope can be sorted out when it's blocked - but I'll worry about that when I've finished the knitting) and for the last week have been knit. knit, knitting, round and round and round.

I must be a glutton for punishment because this is what I did for my Puffin sweater.  Lots and lots of stocking stitch.  I joined the third of the 50g balls yesterday evening and think I've got about 40 rounds to do before I start the increases for the dolman-style sleeves.  Mind you, each round is 302 stitches, so that's still a fair bit of knitting to go!

The pattern is written to knit flat, back and forth, but I decided to knit it in the round as far as I can to avoid seaming as I don't think it'll affect the way the sweater hangs (those words could, however, come back to haunt me!) and because the yarn's stripy, I've omitted the eyelet holes that run up the sides of the sweater as I think they'll be lost in the striping.

I'll also have to make other modifications because of my tension/gauge.  Fortunately, the pattern has a very good schematic which gives lots of measurements, which makes working out the changes I'll need to make much more easy to do.  Because I'm not a skinny-armed person, I already know that I'll have to knit the back and front yoke part longer than the pattern says because a sleeve circumference of 26cm where the body joins the sleeves will be too tight for me.  That will lead to me having to work out how many stitches to pick up for the sleeves themselves, but that, again, can wait until I get to that point.

Here's a progress pic:

The colours are actually a bit darker/richer in real life, but you should get the idea.  I've even been good and made sure I join each new ball at the same point that the previous one finished (go me!).

Despite the modifications, this is a very easy knit and I've been sitting down with my current book (Jamaica Inn) on my Nook, propped up on its deckchair and just knitting away without having to look at the knitting too much.

If I carry on at this rate, I'll have another new sweater by Christmas :)

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

New Socks for me

Last week, having shown off my Puffin Sweater, my thoughts turned to what I'd concentrate on knitting next.

I did one repeat of my lacy scarf, but that's not really grabbing me at the moment.  My stripy scarf is upstairs -- somewhere -- as I took it up there in a fit of pre-family-visiting-for-dinner tidying up.

My options were:

1. Go and find the stripy scarf.
2. Drum up the enthusiasm for the lace scarf.
3. Cast on something new.
4. Finish knitting my autum-hued socks.

1 was discounted as I seemed to have been trotting up and down the stairs all day.  2 was discounted because whilst I can knit the lacy scarf when I'm on my own during the day, it's not child-friendly knitting, nor TV-watching knitting.  3. was tempting but I restrained myself (well, for a day or so, but that's for another post), so I was left with Option 4.

I knitted and knitted and knitted and cast them off on Friday.


The yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (one of my favourite sock yarns) and the colour is Maple Grove.  I was interested to see that these patterned differently on the foot than the leg.  I've no idea why as there were the same number of stitches, but it happened on both socks.  The LL Shepherd Sock is very smooth to knit with and comes in a lovely range of colours and I've got another three skeins of it in my sock yarn stash.

Next time, I'll show what I did for Option 3 when I was nearing the end of the socks.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Puffin Sweater - Finished!

'Tis done.

All ends have been sewn in, it's been soaked, rolled in a towel to take out excess moisture and then patted out on my blocking mats with a couple of strategically-placed pins and left to dry.

I'm really pleased with this sweater.  It fits really well - not too baggy, but with just, perhaps, a smidgeon of negative ease.

A pretty good representation of the colours

Sunny again today (but a bit breezy)

A full-sweater shot!

I wore it to knitting group yesterday morning and it was admired by the lovely ladies there.  But then it go too warm inside the hall where we meet as the sun was shining through the floor-to-ceiling windows and I had to take it off.

I'm now back to knitting socks and a scarf and debating what I'm going to knit as my next sweater.  I have a couple of thoughts, which I'll come back to.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Nearly done Puffining

The knitting is finished on my Puffin sweater.

Well, the 'live' stitches at the underarms need to be grafted and I don't like grafting - not just the actual stitch, but I find it stretches a bit as well - so I'll attach them together with a three-needle cast- (bind-) off instead as I find it gives a neat finish as well as adding stability.

I know there are a couple of my blog-readers who aren't knitters, so a quick note about the sweater's construction.  This is a sweater that's knitted in one piece (no seaming - hurrah!) from the bottom up to the neck, so the body and sleeves are each knitted up to the armpit and then the stitches are put on a piece of yarn until all three elements are at the same point.  Then, the stitches are picked up onto one circular needle, with a certain number of stitches put on waste yarn so they can be grafted together once the sweater's finished.  These stitches form the underarm 'seam' where the sleeves join the body,  If they weren't there, the sweater wouldn't fit very well and would be uncomfortable to wear.



Can you see the two pieces of cream-coloured yarn by the hole?  They're the two bits of waste yarn that are holding the underarm stitches.  It sounds more complicated than it actually is.

Before I knit the two sets of stitches together though, I'm going to sew in the ends of the yoke, plus the other ends from knitting the body and sleeves.  I'm estimating that there are 55-60 ends to be sewn in.


I'd best get to it, hadn't I!

I'm hoping to have this sweater soaked and laid out to block by the end of the day.

Apologies for the quality of the photos.  It's horribly dreary weather-wise today.  Windy and rainy - my least favourite kind of weather.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

In which colour appears

Hurrah!

I got to the yoke part of my Puffin sweater late last week.

The next stage in knitting this sweater meant that I needed to get all of the 'live' stitches from the body and sleeves onto a circular needle, also placing stitches for the underarms onto waste yarn to be dealt with at a later date.  This was easier said than done.  The 2.75mm circular needle I've used for this sweater is 80cm in length.  The number of stitches to be put onto it?  437.  Yes, that's right.  437 stitches.  I got to a point where I wondered if they'd all fit, but thankfully they did (I do have another, longer, 2.75mm circular, but that's a different brand and I'm using it to knit my stripey scarf).

I then started knitting the yoke.  First off, there was a section of garter stitch in black (about six rounds - something like that) and then came the first zig-zaggy round.  There are 23 zig-zag pattern repeats, each one separated by a stitch marker to make life easier.  Or, they should make life easier if you're not interrupted by your husband when you're doing the set-up round to place the markers, get distracted and mis-count.  I had to painstakingly un-knit 300-odd stitches because, as is often the way, the mistake I made was fairly early in the round and it was only when I was at the end that I realised I'd gone wrong.  For the second attempt, I ignored hubby and all was well.

I have to say that each round of 437 stitches takes quite a long time, even every other round which is just purling the stitches.  The zig-zag effect is created by two increases and one double-decrease in each section.

There were 16 rounds of 437 stitches before the first decrease round and then a second decrease round occurs four rounds after that.  I did the second decrease round earlier this morning and the purl round after that and that's where I'm up to, so I now have 'only' 345 stitches on the needle, which makes moving them around the circular much easier.  I've got another ten rounds before the next decrease, but stitch-wise I'm now over halfway through the yoke, so all is progressing.

The yoke's looking quite bright.  I haven't gone with the colours in the original design as they're not me, but have gone with more jewel-like tones instead.  As the sun's shining this morning, I draped the sweater over the fence between my house and next door and snapped an in-progress shot which will hopefully give a good representation of the colours:


While I had my camera out, I snapped this picture of the area in the front of our house.  Look how blue the sky is today.  It's hard to believe it's November and will be Guy Fawke's night tomorrow.  The leaves have turned yellowy orange on that tree and are beginning to fall, but we've been very lucky in our weather so far this autumn.


It's also Jess's birthday.  My 'puppy' is five today.


I'm hoping I'll have my Puffin sweater finished within the next week, so I'm going to start thinking about what to cast on next (even though I've got two scarves and a pair of socks on the needles as well).


Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Harwich - Out and About

A few weeks ago I got the girls off to school, took Jess for her walk and then told hubby (who was on holiday from work that week, I think) that I was off to Harwich to play with my new camera.

Harwich is a town about 12 miles from where I live and is where I went to school for four years.  It's a town with a lot of history (I've put in a Wikipedia link rather than type it all out) but which has become a bit neglected in the last 30 or so years, especially Dovercourt, which is the town that adjoins Harwich.

I had a reason for going to Harwich early.  I wanted to park in the car park near the beach and watch the Stena Britannica ferry setting out on her daily trip to Holland.  It was a bit of a hazy morning (I got to Harwich around 9am) but I enjoyed myself for 30-40 minutes playing with my camera:


Sailing past Felixstowe Docks

Heading out to sea


Turning towards the open sea

Off she goes
After I'd watched the Stena Britannica set out on her journey (it takes about 30 mins from when she leaves Harwich International port to turn at Landguard Point in Felixstowe) I had a bit of a wander around Harwich.

Low Lighthouse (now a museum)

High Lighthouse

Muddy beach

A bit quirky and I've no idea why it's there!

Beach huts

An old but now disused school
The Electric Palace cinema*

In-shore Lifeboat

A fisherman (lobsters or crabs, I think) preparing for a day's work

It was nice to get out and about in the fresh air, snapping at things that caught my eye.

*The Electric Palace (Wikipedia link) was one of the first purpose-built cinemas in Britain.

It's a nice sunny day here, so I'm going to chance putting some washing on the line.  As it's the half-term school holidays, I suspect I shall have some help in the form of DD2.  First though, we need to take Jess for a walk and later we'll be going shopping.  There may be a Hallowe'en costume being bought if Tesco have one in DD2's size.  She's going to a birthday party tomorrow afternoon and some of the children are apparently going to be dressing up in Hallowe'en costumes so I'll ask her if she wants to as well.  I'm also hoping to do some more black knit, knit, knitting.  I'm about two-thirds of the way up the second sleeve of my Puffin sweater.  I'm hoping to have it finished by tomorrow evening and then I'll swatch the yoke part as some people on Ravelry have commented that they went down a needle size to get a better fit.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Puff, Puff, Puffin' Away

I haven't been idle in the last few weeks, I promise.  No, not at all.  It's just that there hasn't been much worth showing off as it's been black, black, black stocking stitch all the way.

In fact, round and round, knit stitch after knit stitch, with the occasional increase.

At last though, I finished the body part of my Puffin sweater.



Then, the weekend before the one just gone, I cast on for the cuff of the first sleeve and did the first round or so of ribbing.

Then I decided it wasn't looking very neat, so I ripped it out and started again.  I had visions of this happening more than once as I really, really, dislike joining cast-on stitches to knit them in the round (that and the fact I also dislike Kitchener stitch/grafting is why I make my socks toe-up).  Second time lucky though, on this sleeve.

Last Monday I took it to knitting group and carried on knitting round and round, doing the increases every fourth round, as instructed.  I looked at it and thought it was getting wider quite quickly, but though (as you do) "oh, it'll be ok".  I carried on knitting and knitting and got up to round 80-something by Wednesday evening.  Hubby went to bed early-ish on Weds night as he had to be up and out to work early on Thursday morning.  I looked at the sleeve again and tried it on.  Oh.  Too wide, too soon.  A reality check ensued, then a deep breath and out came the needles and I ripped it right back to the end of the ribbing (I wasn't going to cast on again unless I absolutely had to).  I started the knit, knit, knitting again - this time increasing every fifth round - and ended up going to bed a bit later than I'd intended, but with about 20 rounds under my belt.  Thursday I plonked myself down on the sofa with a cup of tea and my Kindle propped up on its deckchair (an easy-read chick-lit novel on it) and spent the morning knit, knit, knitting.  By yesterday morning, I'd finished the increases and was just knitting round and round until it was the length I needed.  I checked with the knitting group ladies towards the end of our session and we agreed that it needed to be a little bit longer, but not much.  I haven't picked it up since (I've been making something else today), but I've only got another three or four rounds to go before I put the stitches on waste yarn (WooHoo!).


This means that I feel justified in thinking about the colours I'm going to use for the zig-zaggy, stripy yoke.  I bought ten colours:


I need five colours, plus black if I'm going to follow the pattern (which I am).  It's just a case of deciding which five colours and in which order.  These are my possibilities:






I'm drawn to the second to last one at the moment (any opinions will be gratefully received).  I might put them into a Word document and convert them to black & white to see how they look colour-value-wise (there was a good post on the Brooklyn Tweed blog a while back about doing that which was very interesting and instructive).

Right - off to drink tea and do a quick bit of tidying before DD2 gets home from school.  I think DD1 is late home tonight - I forgot to double-check with her that her after-school music activity is on today so must make sure I've got my phone close by in case she calls or texts.