Tuesday, 27 November 2018

A Couple of Quick Knits

I seem to be getting a lot of knitting done at the moment and have two more finished items to show off.

First is a Hitchhiker Scarf, which I've made before and is a very popular pattern (over 30,000 projects on Ravelry; wow!).  The yarn I wanted to use was some handspun merino which I'd spun earlier this year.  I'd bought a colour pack of 10 x 25g bundles of fibre from World of Wool and it had sat in my fibre stash for at least a couple of years so I thought it was time to spin it. 

I split each nest of fibre into thirds in order to spin a 3ply yarn.  For the first single (or ply), I spun each colour end to end; for the second single, I split each colour lengthwise into 4 pieces and spun in the same colour order 4 times and for the third single, I split each colour into 8 and spun that in the same colour order as bobbins 1 and 2.  After I'd plied the singles together (using my Jumbo flyer and bobbin) I ended up with a large skein of yarn that weighed 260g and measured 387 metres.

For my Hitchhiker scarf, I used a 5mm KnitPro circular.  This pattern is very easy to memorise and didn't need too much attention, so was good knitting to do whilst watching TV or chatting at Knitting Group, so was a quick knit and, in fact, only took five days to complete.  I blocked it last week whilst hubby was away and I was able to pin it out on the floor of the spare room/office and today I nipped outside while the weather was good (it's since got very foggy here) and snapped a photo in the daylight:

I'm very pleased with it and think I'll use it a lot, especially if the weather turns colder, as forecast.  It's nice and wide, but not too deep, so can be wrapped around the neck a couple of times.

Having finished that scarf, I went hunting through my stash (hubby's made comments about how large it is so I haven't bought any yarn for at least three months) for something to make into an Escarpment Cowl.  DD1 will be home from Uni in three weeks and I thought that, rather than wearing a scarf which needs to be unwound, she might prefer a cowl so, when on a Tube train or a bus, she can just pull it off over her head.  I hunted down the two balls of Sirdar Escape DK which I knew I had and started knitting.  Again, this turned out to be a fairly mindless knit, apart from increases every other round and was soon knitted up.  I modified the pattern very slightly in that I knit it a bit longer than the pattern said before joining and starting to work in the round (because DD1 has a larger-than-average head circumference and very thick, wavy hair) and did an extra four rounds/two ridges of the garter stitch border before casting off (and I used the JSSBO rather than the one in the pattern).  The thing I'd forgotten though, was how much this yarn bleeds when it's washed, so I'm wondering whether to make another one to wrap up for her at Christmas (she tends to throw all her washing into the machine for one load as nothing she's got has bled).  Oh well, maybe she'll just have to remember to handwash it -- or (most likely) wait until she comes home in the holidays so I can do it for her!

The colours are a little darker than the photo shows, but it's a mixture of blue, purple and fuschia pink.  It's a clever pattern because it looks like a shawl with the point at the front, but just pops over the head (I couldn't get the back to sit right on the hanger, but the back goes down into a shallower point too), so there's not too much bulk under a coat.
I cast on something new yesterday evening as well and I also started a new weaving project last week, which I'll tell you about next time. I'm really getting things made, aren't I.  In the meantime, I'm tied to the house today as we're expecting a couple of deliveries and it's just me and Jess at home today.  I suppose it gives me an excuse to do more knitting and spinning as I don't want to switch on the vacuum cleaner and miss hearing the doorbell, do I!!!

Friday, 16 November 2018

A New Sweater

When I received Betty T - my Ashford Traveller spinning wheel - as a Christmas present from hubby and the girls, I started to amass a stash of fibre (to accompany the stash of yarn I'd accumulated over the years).  World of Wool in the UK was recommended to me as an online supplier of fibre for spinning and, indeed, there is a lot of choose from.  Before I started spinning, I'd considered wool as -- well -- wool.  It was only as I started to look at the pretty braids of fibre being sold that I saw names such as BFL (Bluefaced Leicester); Jacob; Falkland; Corriedale, etc and the penny dropped that different breeds of sheep have different types of fleece.  So..... every time I bought something prettily dyed from World of Wool (quite a lot of merino-based fibres, it has to be said) I added into my shopping cart a 100g 'bump' of natural coloured prepared/combed top from a different breed of sheep.

To the point where I had at least 12 (it might be 14..... or 16...... something like that).

So, I decided that I needed to get on with spinning these single bumps of yarn, which would become skeins of yarn in the region of 90-100g.  My first thought was a blanket, so I started spinning each bump in turn into a worsted-style 3ply yarn.  So far, so good -- until I got realistic and remembered how difficult hand-washing a 100% wool, easily-feltable blanket would be.

My thoughts then turned to a sweater.  Aha! thought I; a colour-block sweater, much like that Agnes sweater from Brooklyn Tweed that I made two or three years ago.  So, I had a look on Ravelry.  I searched for colour block sweaters.  I searched for boxy sweaters, but nothing came up for aran-weight yarn.  I was disappointed for about a day, then had another look and still nothing.

I had a bit of a light-bulb moment though.  Brooklyn Tweed patterns are noted for their detail in both instructions, measurements and schematics.  Agnes is a boxy sweater.  It is a forgiving type of sweater when it comes to ease and shaping.  I could knit the smallest size with bigger needles than specified and it would be ok.

Actually no, it wouldn't (and I have no idea whatsoever why I thought it would).  I cast on and after a couple of hours, some garter stitch bottom edge and a couple of inches of stocking stitch later it became apparent that I'd end up with a chest size of around 56" which, when your full bust measurement is 40", is one heck of a lot of ease.  It got ripped!

I Can Do This I thought.  I *can* convert a pattern written for a 4ply/fingering-weight yarn to fit both me *and* my aran-weight yarn.

What I haven't admitted until now (although I might have mentioned it when I wrote about my first Agnes sweater) is how much I like the neckline on this sweater.  The double decrease is just so flipping clever, as well as stylish.  I think the neck shaping (plus the garter stitch and rolled stocking stitch/stockinette) might have been the reason for me discounting other patterns which were actually written for aran-weight yarn.

Anyway, to cut a very long story short, I spent a few hours doing some maths (there might, or might not have been head-scratching, swearing and a fair few mugs of tea drunk) and came up with this:



I think I mentioned the neckline?

I finished it on Thursday (spent most of the day watching the Parliament drama unfold whilst sewing seams) and this morning I steam-blocked it so I could wear it to knitting group.  It could do with a wet-block, but that might have to wait a couple of days until I can pin it out in the spare bedroom while hubby's at work (he uses the spare room as an office on the days he works at home).

Yarns used are:

Back: Brown Jacob; Oatmeal BFL; Manx Loaghtan
Front: Brown New Zealand; Zwartbles; Light Grey Swaledale
Sleeves: Manx Loaghtan and Grey Suffolk : Light Grey Swaledale and Grey Suffolk

Once it's been blocked and washed, I might sew some tape or ribbing around the the neckline.  As well as giving the neckline stability so it doesn't sag, it also covers up the picked up edges!

I spoke to DD1 this evening and she seems fine.  We hadn't heard from her since last Sunday, so were just checking all is ok as she's just over halfway through her first term and had phoned a few times a week for the previous couple of weeks so we were wondering if after the gloss and excitement of the first few weeks away at uni had been and gone, she was feeling a bit homesick, but she says she's just been busy.  She met up with Granny a couple of weeks ago (to go to the Chelsea match - my in-laws have season tickets so DD1 used Grandad's ticket) and I've suggested that she tries to find a time to meet up with her father every once in a while when he's working in London, especially as his office is about 30 mins by public transport from her Uni!!!

I took with me to knitting group this morning a big tote bag with my interchangeable needle case (one of those small, metal briefcase thingammies from Paperchase), a few balls of yarn and a couple of patterns as I wasn't sure what I wanted to knit next, but decided on a new scarf in some handspun yarn, so more about that next time.

Have a lovely weekend :)  I'm working my usual shifts tomorrow and Sunday, but new Smart-Tills were due to be installed this Wednesday just gone, so tomorrow could be fun (wish me luck!).

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Has it REALLY been that long?

I can't believe it's been 16 months since I last blogged.

What happened?  Life happened, that's what and I fell off the blogging bike and didn't manage to get back on again.

However, things have calmed down now and so I shall start posting things about my crafting again.

Nothing drastic or bad happened over the last 16 months, it was simply that life got much busier. 

Both daughters started the last year at their respective schools in September 2017.  This meant that a couple of months before that, DD1 started considering which universities to look round and apply to.  We spent three days and two nights away from home, attending the Open Days at three of her possibilities and she went to look at another one with her school.  Then came writing her Personal Statement for her UCAS application (I hadn't realised how important that is).   She also had mock A-level exams and sat the Cambridge University entrance exam.  Then came university interviews and offers.  Of the five universities she applied to, four asked her to go for an interview and one gave her an unconditional offer without interview (if she put it as her first choice).  She was offered conditional places at three of her choices and got a rejection from Cambridge (there were tears, but she soon got over it).  Then came final choices and finally she sat her A-levels and we then waited for Results Day and were delighted when she got 3 A*s and an A which meant she comfortably fulfilled her first-choice offer and just over five weeks ago she and I went to London so she could move into the Halls she'd been allocated and start her degree in Physics at Imperial College London.  I can't express in writing how proud we are of her and her achievements so far and how hard she's worked to get where she is :)  She calls a couple of times a week (I think now that she's halfway through the first term and the excitement of the first couple of weeks is finished she's feeling a little bit homesick) and seems to have settled in really well and sounds as though she's met some very nice people.

As for DD2, she had to move from the SEN school she'd been at since a week after she turned 5 to somewhere else that offered a suitable place for her special needs.  In short, I narrowed it down to one place and told the local education authority that if they couldn't confirm a place there, we'd have to think about the private school owned and run by the National Autistic Society (which costs lots of £ a year).  She started at the school (sorry - College - we're not allowed to call it School!!) at the beginning of September and has settled in well, helped by knowing three girls she used to be at school with who are a year older than she is.  It wasn't an easy transition as she was resistant to changing schools, but we got there in the end, but had some bumpy moments.

So, life has now calmed down and we've adapted to our new routine, so feel able to start blogging again, which means I need to dust off my proper camera and make sure it's got an SD card in it!

I'll 'speak' to you again soon