Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Granito - Finished!

I was going to write a blog post last week about my progress on my Granito sweater, but I was on the sleeves, the maths for picking up the stitches for them (they're knitted down from the body of the sweater) was straightforward* and I was racing along.  After I'd finished the sleeves, all that was left to do was put the stitches for the pocket backs onto the needles from the waste yarn they'd been put on and knit those.  That was also straightforward because I'd scribbled notes on the pattern regarding how many rounds I'd knitted so far at various points in the pattern, so I knew how many rows I needed to knit so the pocket backs (facings?) finished where the hem ribbing started. 

I sewed the pocket facings to the sweater at knitting group on Monday, sewed in the yarn ends I hadn't got around to doing and yesterday I soaked it and smoothed it out to dry on the floor in the spare room.  Today, I got my sweater drying rack thingammy out and put it in the garden to speed up the drying process.

Here it is:

I'm pretty pleased with it.  There are a couple of areas which could have been done a bit better, particular the top corners of the pockets.  Because those lines down the front are made by slipping two stitches every other round, putting the pocket facing stitches on waste yarn distorted them a little bit.  I also tried knitting on the pocket facings by knitting them together with the 'bar' at the back of the slipped stitch row, but that was too loose for my liking (I know of at least one person who's made this sweater who attached the pocket backs that way, which is how I got the idea to try it), so I undid it and just knitted straight down, which I don't think helped smooth the stitches out.

There were a couple of very minor modifications I made to the pattern.  I went down a needle size for the ribbing at the hem (the pattern doesn't specify to do this) because I know that I don't knit rib particularly tightly and I thought if I used the same size needle as for the rest of the sweater the hem might flip up.  I also knit the first and last stitch on every row of the pocket backs/facings to give me a straighter edge when it came to sew them onto the sweater.  Other than that, I followed the pattern.

I had enough yarn, so didn't have to go with Plan B, which would have been knitting the lower part of the sleeves in a contrast colour and using the same contrast yarn for the pocket facings (I also got that idea from another Raveller).  With that in mind, I did the neck ribbing after I'd knitted the main part of the sweater, then did the sleeves and finally the pocket backs.

The sweater weighs approx 540 grammes and used approx 1290 metres of yarn, leaving me with around 30 grammes of yarn.

Would I make it again?  Yes.  It's a fairly straightforward, but interesting knit and has a nice shape.  If I made it again, I might modify it slightly and twist or cable the stitches running down the sweater instead of having the slipped stitch columns.

As it's a nice sunny day, here's a photo I took earlier of the sweater hanging up on the garden fence!

I've now started crocheting a rather large blanket, so a bit about that next time.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Not Knitting Socks!

I finished DD2's third pair of socks:

They didn't take long and there's plenty of yarn left.  I'm going to learn a different cast-on for the toe next time because my usual Judy's Magic Cast-On method means that to get the socks to match, I have to start the yarn at the same point in the repeat resulting in the little line of a different colour right at the toe.  I think a figure-of-eight or Turkish cast-on might eliminate that, so I'll give it a go.

Not that I'm going to be needing to use such a cast-on for a while as I've cast on a sweater!

I've had my eye on Granito by Joji Locatelli for a while now and decided to spin the yarn for it.  I chose a merino/silk blend from World of Wool called Libra:

Photo borrowed from the World of Wool website
This fibre is a blend of five colours of merino - Fuchsia, Jonquil, Clementine, Flo Pink and Citrus - plus bleached Tussah Silk.  Once I'd spun it into a 3ply yarn, the colours had blended into a gingery-orange with pink hints!

This photo isn't actually the completely finished yarn though as, after washing and drying it, I decided it needed a bit more twist, so ran the whole lot through my wheel again and then washed and dried it for a second time!

I knitted a swatch and washed and dried it:

and was pleased that I got the gauge that I wanted (or close enough) so I cast on my Granito sweater last week and, so far, I'm pleased with it.

It's an interesting construction.  It's seamless, but the construction is different to other top-down sweaters I've knit.  The back shoulders are each cast on and a few rows worked, before being joined and then short-rows are worked to shape the shoulder slope before the stitches are put on hold.  Each front shoulder is started by picking up stitches from the back shoulders, but with the wrong side of the back facing, which gives a decorative 'seam' across the shoulders and then each side of the front is worked, with more short rows before being joined up and then knitted down until the front is the same length as the back and then the front and back are joined and then knitted down until it's the correct length for the next stage, which is pockets!  As if all that wasn't enough, can you see the vertical 'seam' at either side of the front?  That's made by slipping stitches every other row.

I've had to stop and think about this on more than one occasion, but I'm loving it!

I'm just hoping I've got enough yarn (although I've got a Plan B) in cast I run out!

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Merino/Shetland Socks

I've finished (yet) another pair of socks, this pair from handspun yarn.

I had 26g of blue merino/silk fibre from a bag of lap waste* I'd bought and 65g of yellow Shetland fibre, so I over-dyed half of the yellow Shetland with blue and green dye and left the other half plain yellow.  Each colour was spun into a single:

The singles were then plyed into a marled skein which weighed 80g and was just under 300m in length, which is enough for a pair of socks for me:

I knitted these socks using my usual toe-up sock 'recipe' with gusset and heel flap and they didn't take long to knit (just under two weeks):

I'm quite pleased with them, although I'm not sure if some of the colour will bleed when I wash them for the first time.

Obviously, having finished these, it meant.....

Yes, a new pair of socks for DD2!  We had a discussion this morning about which yarn to use.  She was keen on another ball I'd got in my stash (Wendy Roam Fusion) but a look on Ravelry showed that it would be difficult to make a pair of socks that matched and, as that's important for DD2, she settled on this ball of Sirdar Heart & Sole instead.

I'm definitely feeling a bit socked out now though, so once these are finished, I'm definitely going to start a sweater, scarf, or a hat!

*lap waste is a term used for a mixed bag of 'leftovers' from the factory, which can't be used to make a full 100g amount of fibre.  You never know what you'll get and there can be a mix of fibres and sheep breeds.

Friday, 12 April 2019

Socks, socks, sock

Actually, FOUR pairs.  I haven't cast on anything other than socks since finishing my stripey sweater and I realised I hadn't posted a picture of the finished socks I knitted for DD2, so here they are:

She only wanted ankle socks and they weigh 44g, so I only needed one 50g ball.

She then asked for another pair, so I knitted these:

These are WYS yarn and I think the colour's Pink Flamingo in the Cocktails range of colours.  Ankle socks again, but these were about 6 rounds longer than the previous pair, but still used less than 50g of yarn.

I'm now being badgered to knit a third pair for her and I'm pretty sure she knows exactly how many pairs I've knitted for her sister and will demand the same number for herself!

I have knitted some new socks for myself.  This pair were started at the beginning of December and finished at the end of February and were a pair I knitted "as and when" at knitting group when I had nothing else I could knit on whilst chatting, or when waiting for DD2's school transport to arrive.  The yarn's Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Multi in Rainbow.  64sts round, on 2.25mm needles, the way the colours of the yarn stacked up have given the socks a much less bright look than I thought I'd get.

I also got some interesting pooling once I started increasing for the gusset, but that's usual for this yarn and has happened with every sock I've knitted with it.

I got some interesting pooling on the heel flap as well:

The last pair is from some handspun 3ply yarn I made from some Cheviot fibre.  Cheviot is down type of fleece and is supposed to be hard-wearing and have non-felting properties.  I dyed the fibre at home with food colouring, using white vinegar to 'set' the colours in the fibre.  The yarn came out like this:

and these are the socks:

Quite subtle really and a bit like moss and lichen on the stone wall.  These were knitted on 2mm needles and the fabric's quite dense and the socks aren't particularly soft to the touch, but I wore them to work last weekend and they were very comfortable to wear.

I'm still trying to decide what 'big' project to knit next (probably a sweater) but in the meantime, I've got another pair of socks on the needles for me and DD2 is breathing down my neck, telling me to get on with them so I can knit her another pair!

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

A Cabled Yarn from Kent Romney fleece

Since I started spinning several years ago, I've made 2ply and 3ply yarns.  Some of the 3ply yarns I spun using one single/strand of spun fibre, chain plyed (which means pulling the single through itself to make longish loops so there are three strands lying next to each other which are then twisted to make the 3ply yarn), but generally speaking I've spun plain yarns.  In recent months, however, I've been reading one of my spinning books and thinking about expanding my spinning horizons.

A couple of weeks ago I pulled out a 100g bump of Kent Romney fibre from my stash and dyed it with some fuchsia pink and turquoise food colouring paste and ended up with it looking like this (this isn't the whole 100g; I realised as I was coming to the end of spinning the singles that I hadn't taken a photo of the starting fibre):

I then divided the 100g into four and then each quarter was spun into a single.

The next stage of making a cabled yarn is to spin the four singles into two 2ply yarns, but with much more twist than usual.  When spinning yarn, the singles are spun one way (in this case, my wheel was going clockwise) and then the singles are plyed with the wheel going the opposite way.  During plying, some of the twist of the singles gets taken out and, as the final stage of a cabled yarn is to ply the two 2ply yarns together in the same direction as the singles were (which then takes twist out of those 2ply yarns), the middle stage 2ply yarns need to have much more twist than would be put in a traditional 2ply yarn.

Two singles waiting to be made into a 2ply yarn - the middle stage
The two 2ply yarns waiting to be spun into the final 4ply yarn
The final stage was plying the two 2ply yarns together, then it was wound off into a skein, washed and hung up to dry and this was what I ended up with:

Here's a close-up, which shows off the cabling:

What's interesting is how the bright pink and turquoise (there was a little bit of purply-mauve where the colours mixed as well) of the original fibre has become muted as the colours got spun together.

The final skein weighs 91g and measures around 158 metres and, according to my yarn measuring thingammy, it's a sport-to-DK weight yarn.

Did I enjoy making the yarn?  Yes, although it was pretty labour-intensive.

What am I going to make with it?  No idea!  Cabled yarns are supposed to be good and hard-wearing for socks but I don't think I've got enough for that, although I could use a contrast yarn for the toes, heels and cuffs (although that would negate the reason for spinning a 4ply cabled yarn for socks as the heel's the bit that's more prone to wear).

Would I make a cabled yarn again?  Possibly.  I could definitely have put more twist into the middle stage of making the two 2ply yarns, which I think would have given better results (handspun yarn loses twist when it gets its first wash and I find it difficult to judge how much).  Overall, I can see that it's a cabled yarn, but there are also areas where I've either under- or over-spun the final stage so the cabling isn't so evident.

At least I tried something different!

What I need to do now is get on with spinning the yarn I've been making on my spindle.  It's another 4ply yarn, but the construction's slightly different to a cable.  More about that in a future post though.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

I like it, but I don't love it...... yet!

At the beginning of January (the 6th, according to my Ravelry project page), I pulled out the powder pink Drops Alpaca Silk and the green/purple/mustard Drops Delight that I'd bought when it was on sale at Wool Warehouse a few years ago.  I'd had no project in mind when I bought the yarn (and I bought some in different colours as well), so it had sat in my stash, which I'm trying to reduce in size, so it was time to do something with it.

I'd liked the Breathing Space sweater by Veera Valimaki and a friend kindly gifted me the pattern.  I swatched and washed the swatch and was happy with it, so I was good to go.

The yoke knitted up quite quickly and before long I was joining in the contrast, multi-coloured yarn and this is where things got 'interesting', meaning that although I like the sweater (and received compliments when I wore it yesterday to knitting group), I don't love it yet.

The construction is clever, with short rows starting mid-bust, which create the diagonal striping.  Another friend recommended German Short Rows so I looked those up online, used them and was really pleased with how easy they are to do and how neat they look compared to other methods (one of my traditionally-done short rows at the neckline flopped and looked baggy, so I ended up pulling up a loop of yarn to tighten it up and tacking it down when I did sewing in of ends).

Once I'd done the short row section it was a case of going round and round, knitting two-round stripes in each yarn, doing some waist shaping on one side and increasing on the other side every 8th round, like in the short-row section.  Hang on a minute, I thought.  What increase on every 8th round?  I'd mis-read the pattern and not done that part, so I ripped back to the beginning of the short rows (the Drops Delight doesn't really like to be ripped back very much, being a singles yarn, so I had to go slowly) and did them again.

A couple of days later I was back going round and round again, doing the waist shaping and the 8th round increases and, when I got to the end of one ball of yarn, I decided to put the body stitches on waste yarn and do the sleeves (I wanted to get those done so I could use the remaining yarn to knit the body as long as I wanted or until the yarn ran out as I thought I might not have enough).  One on the waste yarn, I smoothed the stitches out and had a look at progress so far.  Hmmm; that looks rather wide I thought.  So, I tried it on.  And.... it was HUGE!  If I'd carried on, I could have pegged it out and slept in it (well, not really, but I'm sure you get my drift).

Guess what I did next?

Yep!  I ripped it back to the start of the short-row shaping - again.  Then I had a look at the examples on Ravelry and had a ponder for a day or two before making a decision on how to take this forward.

Bracing myself (and vowing that this was it's last chance; if it didn't work out after this, it was going into the bin) I started the short-row section for a third time, but this time, I only did half the increases across the mid-bust section that the pattern stated and once I got to the round and round bit, I didn't do any waist shaping or further increases, which gave a narrower sillhouette.  In hindsight, I could have put in some increases on the left side, but only every 20 or so rounds, but overall I'm happy with the sweater and the fabric the yarn's made is nice to wear.

It's just that it turned out to be much less straightforward than it should have been and I'm still at the stage of being slightly resentful that I wasted several hours knitting and re-knitting.

I'm currently knitting a Victorian Lace Scarf  (a Franklin Habit/Makers Mercantile knitalong*), another pair of socks for DD2 and have some spindle-spinning on the go, but I bought a new sweater pattern today - Granito by Joji Locatelli.  I'm going to use some hand-spun yarn for it and once it's finished drying, I'll be swatching**.

* I'll post about that soon.

** If I've got the right needles as I think the ones I want are being used for the Victorian Scarf!

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Striping Socks from Deep Stash Yarn

I cast these socks on yesterday afternoon:

They're coming along quite well, but they're not the socks I was planning on making.

I've got several skeins of yarn I spun to knit into socks and intended casting on one of those, but DD2 had other ideas and badgered me yesterday, even going upstairs and choosing some yarn!

To be fair to her, I'd promised I'd knit her some socks ever since I made several pairs for her sister before she went off to Uni last autumn, so these are overdue.

The yarn's nothing special - some Regia Flusi Monster (or something like that) - bought several years ago on sale.  I'd made a pair of socks in the same yarn (but a different colour) for myself, and didn't really like them.  I think the yarn's aimed at knitting socks for children as the non-turquoise colour repeats aren't very long, but DD2 seemed to like it, so there we are.

Unfortunately (for me), I'm now not going to be allowed to get on with any of the other projects I've got on the needles until these are finished.  Last night, she sat with her crochet and told me that she was making a cowl and "you carry on knitting my socks"!  This morning, just before her school transport arrived, she said the same thing, so I think she's expecting these to be made inside of a week.

Oh well, I've got other things to show off, once I've done some finishing and blocking so I suppose knitting these socks gives me an excuse to avoid the dreaded sewing in of ends!