Wednesday, 11 May 2016

A Happy Scarf

I did a semi-organisation of my stash last week, partly to try and get it a bit more ordered but also to remind myself of the yarn I've got.

Whilst going through it, I found one of my early hand-spun yarns and also the leftover part balls of King Cole Merino DK that I'd used to make Lucy hats for my Mum and older sister.  I got the yarns out and put the King Cole next to the hand-spun to see which colours went best as I had in mind a woven scarf.

Yesterday I got out my loom for the first time since last November or early December and used the King Cole yarn to make a striped warp:


I ran out of the warp yarn before I could finish the last stripe of the olive green, so put in an extra bottle green one, because I decided it wasn't the end of the world if it wasn't completely symmetrical.

Then I got weaving.  And I wove and I wove and I wove, using the handspun for the weft:


By the time the girls went to bed, I'd got to the end of the warp, so hem-stitched it and cut the scarf off the loom.

After dinner, I settled down to watch an (old) episode of Midsomer Murders and decided to do a twisted fringe.  It was a bit fiddly (there are machines you can buy that make the job a bit quicker and easier) but wasn't too bad to do once I'd got into a rhythm and then I snipped the ends off so it was all even and then dunked it in a basin of warm water to soak while I had a cup of tea.

After squishing it in a towel to take out the excess water, I folded the scarf and put it in my airing cupboard overnight and mid-morning today, I took it out, smoothed it and snapped a photo:


Done!!

It could do with a press to smooth it out, but I wasn't going to get out my ironing board and iron just for one scarf, so that can wait.

I'm rather pleased with it.  Can you tell?

I've got another of my earlier hand-spun yarns, plus two 50g balls of a blue DK yarn (Sirdar Balmoral, I think) which will probably get similar treatment, although I might use my bigger (8 threads per inch) heddle to make a drapier fabric.

I've also made two more hedgehogs and am being badgered to make another one (my orders are to knit a gold one next, with a white face and feet):



I feel like I'm on a production line with these!  After the gold one, I've only got one ball of tinsel yarn left, so hopefully I'll get a break (although they don't take that long to make).

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Stashbusting

I have plans to organise my yarn stash once the girls are back at school next week, following the two-week Easter break as it's in a bit of a mess, with various bags of yarn dotted around the house.

Having had a look in the box that houses all my acrylic DK yarn, I saw that there were quite a lot of part-balls in various colours, left over from other projects.  Some of these balls were 20g; others 50-60g.  I'm also finding that my shoulder's more comfortable with me crocheting than knitting at the moment (and an extremely busy Easter Sunday at work -- it's the busiest day of the year for the Tesco Express where I work because all the big supermarkets are closed for the day -- took its toll on my shoulder as well) so I put all of the pastel, lighter colours of yarn into a bag, along with three balls of cream DK that I'd got, pulled out a 4mm hook and started rippling.

This is what I've come up with:


It still needs an edge, but I'm rather pleased with it.  It's ten 14-stitch ripples wide (using the Attic 24 Neat Ripple pattern) and there are six rows of colour, followed by four rows alternating cream with colour and, as you can see, every other 'block' is cream.  It's a bit lighter than the photo shows; the yellow and green aren't as dark as they seem on screen.  I've now run out of the cream though (it's Hayfield/Sirdar Bonus Baby DK), so will either have to buy another ball or two, which rather defeats the object of stashbusting, or I'll use some cream Stylecraft Special DK that I've got to do a narrow border, which will neaten everything up.

So, having finished the main part of that blanket, I still had light colour yarn left over, so I got out a 4.5mm hook and have started making a version of the Vintage Vertical Stripe blanket (except my stripes will be horizontal!).  This is completely mindless crocheting -- just row after row of treble (double US terms) stitches, going into the space between the stitches of the previous row, rather than going into the V at the top of the previous stitches.   As it's so easy to do while watching television and can be picked up and put down very easily,  it's working up fairly fast.  


Again, the photo looks darker than the blanket is (it's a very dreary day today).  

I'm just crocheting backwards and forwards until the yarn of the part-balls runs out, giving stripes of differing heights.  I had a couple of whole balls and one or two where I'd only used a bit of yarn, so I've wound those into smaller balls which will give more stripes.  I'll put a border around this one as well.  A border makes everything look much neater, don't you think?

I did start a new knitting project, a second Relax sweater, but having done a few rows of the bottom ribbing, I decided I didn't like the cast on I'd used as it was too loose and looked sloppy, so I'm going to frog and start over...... but that can wait until next week when DD2 is back at school.  She had a very good first week of the school holiday, but this week..... well; I'm not sure what's going on with her, to be honest.  Her behaviour has been challenging and she seems to be getting very easily upset by all sorts of noises.  Hopefully once she's back into the routine of school she'll settle down again.  Fingers crossed.


Thursday, 24 March 2016

FO - Berenice

Blocked and dried, I remembered to take some finished photos of my Berenice sweater before wearing it (I've worn it at least three times since I finished it last week).


Overall, I'm very pleased with the way it's come out.  An inch or two longer would be nice, but, as I mentioned, I only had 500g of aran-weight yarn, so had to be careful.

The lace and cable panel on the front and back is very pleasing:


It also looks more complicated than it is (I think the one-stitch garter band at either side of the cable really sets it off, giving a frame for the cable).

I'm now a convert to using a tubular cast-off as well.  It's a bit fiddly and time-consuming, but worth it.  There are two set-up rows to knit, then rearranging the stitches onto two needles, then kitchener stitching to be done, which means a very long length of yarn (3 times the length or width of the piece that's being sewn) when doing the hem of a sweater or cardigan.  Definitely worth it; look at the sleeve cuff:


And the hem:


Since finishing this, I've also made a third hedgehog:


The yarn for this one is pink and silver, with a pink face, feet and ears.  The red and purple ones I made for DD2 a few weeks ago don't have ears as - for reasons known only to her - she doesn't like ears at the moment.  In fact, she got a pair of scissors and cut the ears off the crocheted Hello Kitty I made her.

This hedgehog has been given to the four-year-old daughter (L) of a couple hubby and I are friendly with.  Hubby knows them better than I do and this little girl has taken a shine to him, when she's usually very shy with people who aren't family members.  I asked hubby if he thought she'd like a hedgehog and he said he thought she would, so as he worked at home on Tuesday, early evening he popped down to the bar at the train station where the little girl's mother works and dropped it off (which is why the photo's not very good; it was taken in artificial light).  L often goes with her father to see mummy (and have a drink and snack) before she gets taken home to bed, so hubby was able to give the hedgehog to her and she loves it and has named her Daisy!  She's also told her parents that she needs to come into the shop where I work when I'm there so she can say thank you to me.  So sweet!

I started a ripple blanket a few days ago and that's going well.  What I haven't mentioned is that I've been having shoulder problems over the last few months.  It's my right shoulder (rotator cuff) and I think I've worn it through knitting and crocheting, so I'm trying to be good and not get stuck in a rut of doing just one thing for an extended period of time as that (according to my sister, whose profession is sports injury management, massage, personal training, etc) will only aggravate it.  Sis has also given me exercises to do to help it (but I don't always remember to do them; naughty me).  I did start a new sweater on Monday, but knitting seems to be making my shoulder worse, so I've put that to one side for now.

Happy Easter.  Don't eat too much chocolate :)  I'll be working my usual hours this weekend as, being a small Tesco Express store, we don't close (Christmas Day is the only day of the year our shop isn't open) and it's going to be busy, busy, busy on Sunday.



Thursday, 17 March 2016

Sparkly, Shiny Hedgehogs

Well, my Berenice sweater was finished a couple of days ago and has been washed and is now blocking.  Once it's dry, I'll take some photos and show it off.

As mentioned in a previous post, a while back I bought a couple of balls of King Cole Tinsel yarn with a view to making each of the girls a knitted hedgehog (you can see the pattern at the bottom of the page I've linked to).

The pattern said to use a 5mm needle for the tinsel part, and a 3.25mm needle for the head, but I decided to go with a 4.5mm for the body and 3mm for the head to get a firmer fabric so the stuffing wouldn't show through.

I also decided to knit it in the round rather than flat and then seaming.

The knitting was quick.  I started a purple, large-sized, hedgehog on Friday afternoon and finished it by lunchtime on Saturday.

The red one (medium) was started on Tuesday and finished on Wednesday.

I also bought a ball of pink Tinsel yarn, which will be made into another large-sized hedgehog.  I think I prefer the head/face on that one.  Because there are more stitches, the decrease rate towards the nose is different, which gives a bit more interest and pointiness to the nose.

Not that DD1 is going to be getting one; DD2 has decided they're all for her and, in fact, took both completed hedghogs (or hedgepigs as they're known in our house) to school with her today.



I used the leftovers from my Berenice sweater to sew the eyes and nose, which I think works well as pure black might have looked a bit too stark.

I've now got four more balls of King Cole Tinsel on order from Wool Warehouse as I've had a request from Pat, the lady who keeps order on DD2's taxi to and from school and hubby has asked if I'd knit one for the four-year-old daughter of friends of his as he thinks she'd like one.

In the meantime, I succumbed to Wool Warehouse's sale of Drops sock yarn in the plain colours.  I'm planning on knitting another Relax sweater as I've got (I think) eight balls of variegated sock yarn I bought at Lidl a good while back and can use some of the beige I bought from WW to put in some stripes to make it a bit longer than the last one I made (that ended up with shorter-than-I'd have liked sleeves).

I've not actually got a great deal on the needles at the moment.  The beginnings of a hat and a blanket that I'll show you another time as I think I've gone on enough for now.

I might cast on the pink hedgehog later, although knitting at a much smaller tension than usual is a bit hard on the hands.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Wasted time well spent.

I waited until I was three rounds into the ribbing on the neckline of my Berenice sweater before I had a look to see how the front looked.  It was tempting to look before that, but I knew that I needed a few rounds so I could see how picking up from the back to form a decorative ridge would look.

It looked a bit pants, to be honest.


Lumpy, messy, not nice to look at at all.

I ignored my knitting all yesterday evening and decided to start afresh this morning.

Once the girls had gone off to school and Jess had been walked and fed, I made a cup of tea, sat down and pulled out the needles, then re-wound the yarn into a ball.

Then I picked up the stitches again (fortunately I'd kept my scribbles on how I was going to pick up the stitches), did one round of purl, then seven rounds of k2 p2 rib.


See?  Much neater.  So yes, some wasted time, but well worth it for the much better and more pleasing result.

I also chose to do the tubular cast-off the pattern recommended, but more about that another time.

Now I'm off to tackle the sleeve cuffs.  I need to do some maths.

Maybe I'll do that after I've taken Jess for her afternoon walk.  Some fresh air might help!

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Upsizing --- Berenice

When, in June 2014, Brooklyn Tweed released their Kids collection of patterns, Berenice immediately caught my eye.  I wasn't the only grown-up girl on Ravelry who thought it would be nice if it came in adult sizing as well as child's, but (I think) in the Brooklyn Tweed Look-Book that appears on the website, there was a note about making it with thicker yarn and bigger needles, to size it up for an adult.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I was thinking about future projects to knit and the yarn I've got in my stash and before I knew it, I'd bought, downloaded and printed the Berenice pattern and had got out my ten-ball pack of Jaeger merino aran, which is a not-quite-black colour (I think the shade's called Derby).  I also looked at the examples on Ravelry where people had upsized it to fit an adult and read the available project notes.

The Thursday before last, I cast on.

At this point in time, I've got one shoulder seam to sew.

It's a pretty quick knit.



 That photo shows the colour fairly well, but you can't really see the detail, so here's one with the flash on.


Nice, isn't it!

The construction of this short-sleeved sweater is a bit different to usual because the body of the sweater's knitted first and then stitches are picked up around the neckline, the sleeve cuffs and the hem and the ribbing's then knitted.  Those stitches are also supposed to be picked up with the wrong side of the knitting facing you, so a decorative 'ridge' shows on the right side.  I'm not sure about doing this on the neckline though, as I'm not it will look particularly neat.  I shall have a go and see and if I don't like it, I might pick the stitches up on the right side and then do one round of purl stitches to give a ridge before starting the ribbing.  I'll probably knit the bottom ribbing longer than in the original, to give me a bit more length to the sweater (I could have knitted it longer before I started the under-arm increases, but I wasn't sure how much yarn I had to play with.

Upsizing this from a child's size has been easier than I thought it would be.  Using the pattern's gauge/tension directions and comparing them to my own with this yarn and the needles I'm using £4.5mm KnitPro), I was able to do a bit of maths and work out how many rows I needed to knit.

It's the first time in ages that I've knitted a sweater that needed to be sewn up as most I've knitted recently have been bottom-up or top-down, knitting in one piece sweaters.  It's not easy to see in the photos, but either side of the cable and lace centre panel, the sweater is reverse stocking stitch, so I've taken my time, doing mattress stitch, being careful to make sure I'm picking up the little purl bumps in a straight line up the knitting and I think it looks neat enough.

What you can probably see from the next photo, though, is that I've pulled the stitching a bit too tight under the arm.  Fortunately, I didn't tie off the yarn when I finished that seam, so I'll be able to loosen the stitches.  I've got one shoulder seam to sew and lots of ends to darn in before starting the ribbing.  I'll be looking on the Internet for ways of darning in yarn ends in reverse stocking stitch, especially as there are two ends that are mid-row, because there was a knot in the yarn (grrrrr; a particular bug-bear of mine).


I'm hoping it won't take me more than another couple of days to finish this off as I think it's going to be a sweater I wear a lot as I've got several long-sleeved t-shirts I can wear it with.

Mind you, with this current dreary wet weather, I think blocking and drying it will take longer than I'd like.

I seem to have a lot of yarn downstairs at the moment.  Not my fault; DD2 keeps bringing down balls from my stash and asking me to make things from it and I haven't got round to taking it back upstairs again.  She's particularly keen on me making her some tinsel Hedgehogs.  I've got yarn and I've got the pattern, so I might indulge her.  Expect a sparkly post before too long!

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Ishnana Cardigan


Last July, I embarked on what turned out to be a fairly labour-intensive (but enjoyable) knitting project.

I'd got a sweater's worth of King Cole Merino Blend 4ply yarn in Damson, a dark purple colour and when Isolda Teague released the Ishnana cardigan pattern, I decided I'd use that yarn to make the version that has the cables down the centre fronts and the sleeves (the other version has different fronts and sleeves).

First off, I knitted a swatch to check my tension/gauge was going to be ok.  It wasn't; I had to go down a needle size to 3mm.  I also decided to lengthen the body of the cardigan by a couple of inches.

The back had 260-odd stitches per row, with the large cable-and-lace panel on the back.  Each row seemed to take ages, so I knew this wasn't going to be a quick project.

Then, I went off it a bit (all those long rows) and although I was still knitting it, it wasn't with particular enthusiasm and so I found myself getting waylaid by other projects, so progress was slow.  On top of that, a few weeks before Christmas I managed to break one of my needle tips so had to order another set and then a lot of my crafting things got put away because we had guests for Christmas Day and it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I got the cardigan down again to continue with it.  There was also the matter of banging out the Stopover sweater, which was much more fun as it was part of a knitalong.

Anyway, I finished the body part up to the armholes.  I divided for back and fronts.  I knitted the back, then I knitted one front, then I was nearly up to the shoulders of the second front when I took it to knitting group and, whilst showing someone, I noticed a cable crossed the wrong way in the centre-back panel, before the division for the fronts and back.  I debated trying to fix it by snipping yarn, re-knitting and then grafting; knitting a patch to sew over the offending mis-crossed cable; pretending there was nothing wrong (that wasn't really an option, to be honest; I would have known and wouldn't have worn the cardigan once finished).  In the end, I dropped back about eight stitches 113 rows down the knitting, hoping I'd be able to just knit that section.  It was very tedious and slow-going and, after about 20 rows of doing that, I admitted defeat and ripped out the back of the cardigan back to where I'd divided into back and fronts, knitted up the remaining rows and then re-knitted the back.

I wasn't sure how much yarn I'd have for the sleeves and bands, so I did the collar, button and buttonhole bands and then knitted the sleeves, keeping an eye on how much yarn I was using for the first sleeve in case I needed to do three-quarter length sleeves to prevent running out.  In the event, I had a ball and a half of yarn left and the sleeves are bracelet length, which is how I like them.

I also had trouble finding buttons that would match the yarn, so went with clear acrylic ones, as I often do.

I concentrated on this cardigan all last week and knitted both sleeves and finished it off on Sunday.

Phew!

Now for photos (which aren't brilliant because the light wasn't good when I took them).

Front View
Centre Back Panel


Back View

Would you believe me if I said the next sweater I'm planning on making also has a centre lace/cable pattern as well?  On the back and the front?  In black? 

It's also a child's sweater, originally knit in a fingering/sport-weight yarn, so I'll be having to work out which size of the pattern to make at my tension/gauge.

I must be mad!