Friday, 31 December 2010

Looking forward

I don't do new year's resolutions, the last one (and only one?) that I kept was years ago when I decided I would never make another one.  I am still pleased at avoiding all that guilt!

But I do have hopes for the future.  Not necessarily just the new year, but things to do at the time when they feel right.

I have a few days off before it's back to work, - and here's what I'd love to get busy on: a couple of sewing projects.

I remembered I had the black fabric all cut out, but I'd actually forgotten about the other one!  It was a nice discovery to find that I'd already cut the fabric out.  Only problem is: I don't remember what the blouse/top is meant to look like - it'll be exciting to find out!

The black fabric is nice, it is a solid black but patterned in small squares.  I was relieved to find that I had marked the fabric before taking the paper pattern off.

Here is my mystery project:

I obviously recognise the sleeves (aha, short ones!) and I can see that there are side panels (lying on top of the other pieces) and then the centre pieces for both back and front.  It's a good thing that the paper pattern pieces have numbers on them: 2 and 4 for the side panels.  I am guessing that No 2 goes with the No 1 front centre fronts, and No 4 with the back which is No 3.

So no worries there.  The only thing that's holding me back from getting stuck in: I so very much do not enjoy marking up the fabric - tailor tacks are, I think, the easiest: stitching through both layers but leaving some excess thread between those layers, then snipping the threads apart.  That way you get your marker in the exact same place on both pieces.  That's a distinct advantage because I can be quite ham-fisted when it comes to stuff like that that I don't enjoy.

I am not really sure about the colour of this though: can you call that a taupe?  If so it should suit my colouring (dark hair, light skin) but if it's beige, it'll be a so not good colour, as in: #notagoodlook.

On the knitting front: my WIP count has grown to 18.  I know, I know, I hang my head in shame.  But I did finish a couple that I recently blogged about: the EZ cardigan and the blue summer top.

I am hoping to finish this one soon:

I just need to do a bit of blanket stitch around the lower half of the left armhole.  The sleeves are only attached to the top half.  I wanted them to be a lot more flared but that fell by the wayside.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Socks, socks, socks!

Finishing my beautiful dark red cable panel socks made me very happy.  I was very, very pleased with them!  Such a nice thing to experience this glow and sense of achievment when a project turns out well.  It pushes you onwards...

I was so enthused that I started my next project straight away.  More socks!  (The blog post title has to refer to something!)

I am calling them my Frosted Spires socks.  Skein Queen in colourway Jack Frost (isn't that such a cool name?) - 2.5mm needles.

I am very pleased with my progress:

To this:

From this:

I love knitting both socks at the same time: a little on one, then over to the other - in turn and turn around.  Disadvantage: if you make a mistake on one, you're likely to do the same thing on the other.  But that's where the advantage lies: you get to remember what the different manoeuvres are (heel, gusset, toe decreases, that sort of thing) and any difficulties with the pattern itself too.  I wouldn't want to read the same tricky chart a second time once I finally get round to the second effort.

And that's my biggest problem: I start out all enthusiastic on the first sock, I probably get it done quite quickly and I feel dead chuffed at what I achieved... and then with that sinking heart feeling... I realise that I've got to do it all over again!  And it's just not as exciting the second time round, oh no it ain't.

When knitting a bit on one and the same bit on the other, you don't really notice how much work goes into it - it's all still part of the journey of discovery about a new pattern: all fresh and exciting and new!

The best thing: when you complete one, the second one is not far behind at all!  It just seems to all go so very quickly!  I love doing socks this way.

It's just a bit hard on your wallet coz you need two sets of needles.

I saw a gorgeous pattern called Rosebud Socks on the blog by Ignorant Bliss.  They are out of this world gorgeous!  The more often I looked at her wonderful photo the more I envied her the pattern.

I gave in and ordered the book (I just hope it's the right one!) - Socks from the Top Up.

While I was at it I had a look at my saved wishlist and also ordered the Traditional Fair Isle Knitting book.  I reckon it's worth it just for the pattern on the cover!

Loop in Camden Passage, London, have Jamieson's in lots of different colours (could even be a round 100? Must check) - I quite fancy trying some of them out soon!

Monday, 27 December 2010

My pink Elizabeth Zimmermann Cardigan

An end to a long labour.

This project is finally finished. Which is a minor miracle, seeing how long it took me.

YarnMirasol Qina

Needles5 mm
PatternElizabeth Zimmermann's Green Sweater
fromSchoolhouse Press

I just looked back at previous blog posts about this cardigan and I am flabbergasted to find that it is the project I mentioned the most: in a massive five posts!

Not that you would want to look at them but just to show that I'm not exaggerating:

My first steeks!
Steek update
An inspirational pattern (all about The Green Sweater story!)
Something has to be done
My crafty state of play

I learned a lot from this project (also see my Ravelry project page).  I was aware that this incorporates quite a few things that were new to me like steeking, gauntlet cuffs, dolman sleeve shaping or the square neckline band. Oh, and phony seams!

It was huge fun to do these things, one at a time.

I learned that it's a good idea to do the phony seams before turning the hem up: ladder the rows of your "seam" stitch right back down to the bottom stitch (careful to keep the bottom stitch or it gets very fiddly!) and hook them back up with a crochet hook: pull through the two strands from the bottom two rows, then one strand from the third, and carry on like this (2, 1, 2, 1...).  It gives a very nicely defined pseudo seam up the sides!

If you do the hem first you may find that you sewed up the stitch you're meant to be laddering, which is precisly what I did. Ahem.

Steeks are not scary.  Amazing as it is: as long as you machine stitch at least a couple of lines either side of where you'll cut, you're not going to run into any problems of cut ends unravelling.  I have not tried crocheting instead of machine stitching.

What hasn't turned out so well:

The body of this cardigan is way too short.  It looks a bit ridiculous on me to be honest.  An unhappy discovery.  I suppose I could try to lengthen this but there is another problem: I disovered only now after the jacket had been hanging up for some time that the yarn is too heavy for this pattern.  What used to be quite a reticent square neckline to start with is getting bigger and bigger.  The shoulders threaten so slip off the hanger and I will definitely store this folded instead.

The applied i-cord (are you meant to do the button loops this way? I couldn't quite figure it out from the pattern) is a bit bulky although it stabilises the centre front edge very well.  Unfortunately it does not hide the gaping gaps in said centre opening because I think that I didn't get the measurement across my boobs right.

If I wear this cardigan unbottoned then that won't show up.

The sleeves turned out a little long (I thought I'd tried it on and determined the right length? But this could be down to the 'getting longer' in the shoulders problem that I mentioned above).  That's just about okay.

I may have to think of sewing in a staying band under the shoulders, that might improve things a touch.  So grafting the shoulders may not be such a good idea: seams would have made this more rigid.

In summary: I loved the techniques involved, I really enjoyed making this (even though it took so long), I may wear this every so often (I hope) but all in all I am thinking of making this again to incorporate what I learned.  Next time in a yarn that won't be too heavy to sit and drape lots better, and I would lengthen the body by about 2-3 inches.

The pattern mentions a variation of slimmer sleeves: that sounds very intriguing and I think I would go with that.

I am thinking of Jamieson's Shetland wool: there is a 2 ply which is called a jumper weight, there are some really lovely colours!  Keeping my stash in mind, I won't be buying any more wool any time soon though...


Icy blue summer cotton top

This was meant to be a quick project to take to knit evenings with me and motor through the stocking stitch.  I also wanted to use up my stash of only 300 grams of this - bought a couple of months ago because I liked the colour.  Never mind that it won't be the season to wear this for a long while yet!

I am very aware that I need to reduce my yarn stash, it has taken on ridiculous proportions, completely out of whack with anything that would be reasonable.  I decided on a 'late year "new year's" resolution' (becauce I never keep the true "new year's" resolutions!) - I want to start a new project by looking for a yarn I fancy using and then finding a project to go with it.  Not the other way round!  That way madness lies because it usually involved me buying new yarn.  This may just be the reason why my stash has grown so excessively.  No more!

This project worked along those 'new intentions' guidelines:  I looked at the yarn and didn't even have to think what sort of project I wanted to do, - the small quantity dictated a smallish project. A sleeveless summer top was just the answer:  I have most of the last ball left so I must have used about 260 grams of this DK cotton.

YarnSchachenmayr nomotta Catania
Needles4 mm
Patternmade up as I went along

For once I did not knit this in the round but did a separate front and back piece because I wanted the stability from side seams to keep this to a better shape.

I used a little bit of a tapered waist, more on the front than the back because I cast on a few stitches less for the back (unintentionally, no idea how that happened).  The only issue I have with this top is that I should have done a couple of short rows across the tummy: the front unfortunately rides up a bit which isn't hugely attractive.

I started with a Purl 2, Knit 1 ribbing but then felt that the reverse side looked better, so before the first stocking stitch row, I turned it over to show the K2, P1 side.  In this cotton DK this type of ribbing makes the purl stitch retreat in the background and leaves the two knit stitches as a very smooth looking surface.  In contrast to stocking stitch this ribbing does not curl up which is exactly what you need for the bottom of a top.  I may use this again, I really like the way this looks!

I wasn't very happy with the raw edges of the neckline and armholes so I attached an applied i-cord made from three stitches.  As per a very handy YouTube clip that I saw, I knit the first stitch of these through the back loop and used a SSK to attach the third stitch to the live stitches I picked up around the edges.

An interesting technical bit is that because I did not pick up enough stitches around the edges, I used my working thread to pick up another stitch every 4-5 stitches.  This means that my working thread loops around the raw edge on the inside and in the process stabilises this raw edge by binding it closer to the i-cord.  I thought that was a very useful, even if completely unintentional, side effect of what started life out as a mistake!  Again, I may use this again - probably more with quite inelastic yarns like cotton and bamboo than with wool.

I like the effect that the applied i-cord has on the edges: it neatens them up no end, and stabilises them very well.  Again this is a technique I will use in future - I may experiment with how 2 stitch or 4 stitch i-cords look.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Christmas gifts

I decided not to make any Christmas gifts this year after making one each for my family last year and getting rather stressed out over finishing in time.  I have no idea what happened next because I ended up making not just one or two, but five to last year's six.  I definitely surprised myself there by being a lot more altruistic when I'd made my mind up to be selfish! How odd...

Here they are:

A quilt for my mother (showing the front on the left and the back on the right):


A neckwarmer/scarf combo for my dad:


The Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief in red and green (vey Christmassy! Quite unintended) on top for my friend Hanne (the only photo that wasn't blurry, my own in black is at the bottom just to show what it looks like):

Socks for my sister (yes, in black! That's what she asked for). I made up the design myself:


I made the scarf on the right for my friend Anne last year, this year I gave her the the bag on the left (same pattern, but yarn held singly this time). The knitted 'flap' is attached to one side only and folds over:


The trouble with presents is that you can't blog about them when you finish them. Because "people might see"!  A bunch of Crimbo presents is worst: there's a whole lot of them!  (Particularly when you don't follow through on the selfish crafting intention... Just how did that happen?)

So there you have it.  But next year, - I am definitely not making any at all! Definitely...

Friday, 24 December 2010

Semi solid red socks with cable panel

My dark red socks are done!  I'm so pleased:

The colour in the third photo is lots closer to reality.  Very much more red than purple!

YarnSweet Clement - Beloved
Needles2.75 mm
SourceFree pattern by Lisa Stichweh on Ravelry

This is the first project in a while that incorporates cables.  A fact I only realised once I'd set my heart on the pattern and started the top ribbing!  Cables are the one thing I tried to avoid because I don't enjoy them.  I found them less tedious than I remembered, thankfully, - and the pattern looks extremely gorgeous!

At first I couldn't make head or tail of the cable pattern: there are groups of either two or three stitches involved, some of these get purled, others are knit.  The knit stitches are all knit through the back loop, fine, I can do that.  But which way do you switch the stitches and how many where?

It became easier when I realised that all purl stitches went to the back and never crossed over at the front. Okay-dokey.  Then I could see the meander take shape: there are two stitches of the big meander line on top, and one to the thinner line that runs underneath.  Right!

Once I could see what the pattern is meant to look like, I had no further problems.  I do believe though that one of the symbols early on the left wasn't the right one.  Never mind, I managed to suss it out.

They fit beautifully (the heel might be a touch big but not disastreously so) and the yarn feels so wonderful on my feet!
I am so very much looking forward to knitting up the other two skeins of the same yarn.  I bought one in a dark green and the other one is pink.  I'll have socks in every colour of the rainbow!
Seriously yummy.

I will buy more of this yarn when mine is finished.  Sweet Clement's Etsy shop will be up and running at some point soon.  Pippa suggests to follow her Twitter feed for updates (Sorry, I can only access the feed via the '' site, you get the idea) and she also has a blog.  And I think that's all the info you would ever want!  You can tell that I am seriously impressed by her beautiful yarn!


Yarn obsession

I went completely doolally, you can't call it anything else.  On Monday evening I went along to the Bothered Owl's event: a Christmas Yarn Party.

I knew I shouldn't take along a lot of cash because I'd get tempted.  Well, I did, and I indulged more than I meant to (yes, there was another visit to the cashpoint, but at least only one... does that count?).

There were a number of independent yarn vendors: Skein Queen, Yarns to Knit, Sweet Clement, Fyberspates, and others.

I went absolutely bonkers: there was so much wonderful yarn that I couldn't leave behind!  My excuse is that it literally jumped into my hands, - you know: right off the table, as if by itself...

Here are some of the photos of my newest stash additions:

This Skein Queen yarn has the wonderful colourway name of Shepherds' Warning:

More of my Sweet Clement yarn, most are the BFL sock yarn, here in cerise:

Electric Blue:

And teal. This is my second high twist Beloved yarn (I also bought this in the dark red, see my latest socks):

Now the only question is: what do I want to make with these?

Sitting and knitting with my friends was great, being able to have a glass of wine with that: very civilised! And the two ladies of The Bothered Owl had put on a very rich feast of a buffet. I was only expecting a few bowls of peanuts and olives and perhaps a couple of other types of nibbles!

What wasn't so great about sitting there was that the yarn on the Sweet Clement stand kept (I swear!) smiling at me from right across the room.  A smile of yarny scrumptiousness so brazenly bold that I had to go and get more...