Thursday, 26 January 2012

Sock Sisterrs, guy knitters welcome - Dates & Details

Here is a summary of the Sock Sisterrs dates and how you can access further details about the monthly sock knitting group, - meeting in central London, UK.

Mon 12 December 2011
Mon 9 January 2012
Thu 9 February 2012 - Royal Festival Hall
Thu 15 March 2012 - Caffe Nero, 83/84 Long Acre
Thu 21 Feb 2013 - Royal Festival Hall
Thu 21 March 2013 - Caffe Nero, 83/84 Long Acre

Check out the following for more info:

Meetup group - you can set your RSVP here and also find out about any last minute changes
Ravelry group - this is great for sharing pictures of projects. Discussion board available.
Google+ page - sharing sock related G+ posts from around the net
Blog Page - I will update the summary on this blog page

There is also a Facebook group (please access via the Blog Page link above).  I will not be able to update this on a regular basis so the links above are much more helpful.

Let me know if you have any questions!  You can email me via the Meetup group, or message me on Ravelry.  It would be lovely if you would let me know that you're coming along (short notice is absolutely fine).

This is a social get-together to sit, chat and knit. Unfortunately I will not be able to teach anyone to knit.  Feel free to pick my brain if you're stuck on your instructions or any other question - that's what the group is there for: exchange of ideas, tips, advice and being able to admire what socks other people are making.

State of play mini knitting update

Just to ruminate about where my knitting is at these days.  Here's a mini update on the two works in progress that I'm the most excited about (and let's just leave the other 16 or so aside for now, shall we? ...oh lovely. Glad you feel the same way).

I bought this German knitting magazine, called Rebecca.  It has a long-sleeved wrap (with long strips that tie at the back) in it that literally made me gasp when I saw it: I want to make that!  This edition of the magazine uses only GGH yarn (not sure about any other editions) - this one looks great and the fibre composition sounded even better.  Only problem: could not be got anywhere in the UK, and I only found two places in Germany that were anywhere near where I was, which was still too far away for a quick trip during my jealously guarded holiday time.  So I won't be using this yarn.  I also prefer using a yarn that won't be discontinued this time next year, just in case.

I felt the need to go visit my local yarn shop: Nest in Weston Park, London.  I can only recommend this shop, it is wonderful!  Near Finsbury Park in case you were wondering (if you're anywhere near North London and haven't been yet: go. Take it as an instruction, not a suggestion).

And would you know I found some absolutely lovely, gorgeous JC Rennie yarn in the most yummy, intense, sumptuous, delightful, sigh-inducing dark purple that I've ever come across.  The photo makes it look lighter and bluer: imagine the colour of dark cherry jam, only a touch more blue.  That colour.

I hesitate to say the next bit: they had an offer going on this yarn! (that was in December, sorry) and I got the 16 balls (of 25 grams each) at a much better price.  I am just so darn lucky - thank you Nest! (needless to say: I will be back.  This yarn comes in lots more wonderful colours)

So I immediately got started: the back is knit from the bottom up and I can only say that I enjoyed this so mcuh, I actually finished the piece in three days!  -Including!- blocking!  My goodness, I must have been feeling a bit funny, I've never blocked anything this quickly in my life.  Still: you live and you learn.  Apparently, wow.

Then I started the front which is knit from the top down!  Love that.  Really intriguing construction.  I am having to convert the number of stitches because my yarn is much finer.  No problem, calculator in hand, tension square in front of me: converted number of stitches were arrived at in no time! As I said: not a problem, love it.  Bit of a maths person, you see.

Except the pattern wouldn't play ball as nicely as I'd hoped.

The front piece is started in stockinette and then has a K2 P2 ribbing come in from the sides and meet in a nice V shape in the centre a bit further down. The increases within the ribbing are knit to the right and left of a specific line which should run across the bust to achieve the right fit.  (You can see the front piece laid on top of the back in the photo.)

Ahem, mine didn't.  It's still not a problem, just a bit of a hurdle.  I'm not terribly terrific at getting my second wind once I got a bit stuck.  The version 1 front piece sits pinned to my tailor's dummy right now and I've gone onto the sleeves until I get my mojo back for progressing to version 2.

The sleeves were a story in themselves. I seem to be knitting three of them. Yup.  Silly of me.  I didn't realise that switching to different needles (albeit of the same size) might result in a fabric that's just not the same.  And I would quite like to get both sleeves to be as similar to each other as I can.  I'm funny like that.  So I started a third sleeve with the exact same needles and the result is a bit better.  Same number of stitches but strangely enough a little wider that sleeve No 1.  I'll have to make sure that I'm doing the same number of rows, or otherwise (if I'm knitting a touch looser this time) fudge it that way, we'll see.  Can't fudge things too much, but just a tiny, itty-bitty little bit?  Might work.

Getting on well with the sleeves.  Not completely sure that they are wide enough at the top, will have to wait and see.  Next stop: cast on for front piece No 2.  At this rate I'm really puzzled that I managed the back piece on the first attempt!

Oh well.  I'll get there in the end.

I'll blog my other pet project WIP in a separate post.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

A mini sewing update

I'm quite excited: I've wanted to start sewing, (dressmaking really but at this stage I'm not fussy: any sewing will do), for absolutely ages. About three years counting from when I got myself a new sewing machine.

It's been going... not well.

Out of five projects I failed on five.  I think.

I got all sorts of things wrong: I hadn't figured out how to set the stretch stitch properly for the first project right ouf of the gate. I cut out the second project with an extra seam allowance because I'm used to having to do that. I cut the next one on the fold as opposed to two separate pieces for the front and somehow ended up with an extra three inches across which makes the sides under the arms stand off like a funny suit.  What else?  The last project has sleeves that hang down to the knees (not quite but you get my drift) and I can't even remember the project in between.

I got things wrong with each and every single item I tried to do.  At least I'm getting more practice with my sewing machine, that counts for something.

On Saturday (a few weeks back) I went to Brighton (that ought to become another blog post) and bought the local crafts shops emtpy.  There are such nice places to poke around in!  And they've got such nice stuff so 'unfortunately' way too much of it made its way home with me.

The nice thing is that I started a bit of sewing on Sunday: it is only some patchwork but it came out beautifully!

Just look at it:

Isn't it completely and utterly pretty?  I am so proud of this.  It's my own design too.

You're probably a bit puzzled about what this is.  This is going to be an inserted strip in a simple sleeveless top for the summer.  Round neckline, relatively fitted.  Perhaps a little bit along the lines of an Empire Line dress that's gathered under the bust.

The strip will be placed under the bust all the way around.  I already sewed another plain black strip to the top of it and I am planning on cutting the top half of the garment in the same black.  I will put in bust darts that originate from underneath the bust and go vertically upwards.

I suppose a side zip would be easiest for getting in and out of the top - it will be plain, non-stretching cotton.  I don't want a front opening and I find back zips or buttons a bit difficult to get to.

Thinking about it: I'll have to find a suitable pattern first (or draw one up) and then spend a bit of time with my tailor's dummy trying to figure out if the pieces will give a good fit.  There is no point in making yet another item that doesn't fit and that won't be made to fit, just to be awkward.  Well, I could adjust some of my mishap items but that's just so tiresome!

I also started another border, in three fabrics.  Two plain ones I had lying around and a patterened fat quarter that I bought in Brighton.  The pattern I made is not as pretty as the one above so this may make it into a quilt as the border around it.  Maybe.  One day.

I also have a hankering to make something in purple (I have plenty of fabrics in my stash to give this a whirl) - I am torn between another border strip or perhaps quilt blocks, something not too big, maybe for a lap quilt.  I could do with one of those.  Keep me nice and cosy as it gets colder out.

I did start another quilt in black, grey and a really great pink but I hadn't thought my design idea through: I used the three fabrics in strips and then turned every second square up.  This forms a windmill shape in both the grey and the black fabric, I didn't realised this would happen! (Lesson: lay the elements out together, then step back and take a proper look!).  I haven't done anything about a border for this yet so it's languishing too.

(Maybe do something different: instead of a patterned border, just a single-colour strip? Hm, might work)

I am hoping to give this black/grey/pink quilt a back in a different pattern.  If I wanted to use a single backing fabric I would have to buy yet more fabric (that's a big, fat 'no') so using some more of the fabrics out of my stash is a much better idea.  That means more patchwork.  It also means reversible!  That's a win-win in my book.

Life lessons in knitting matters

Two's company, three's a crowd

Guess what this is! Yes indeed, it is three sleeves (for my wrap top from the Rebecca magazine).

How did that happen?  Well, here's where the lessons in knitting come in:

Once you knit sleeve number 1 with specific needles, then do go ahead and knit sleeve number 2 with the exact self same needles!  It will save time and effort.  It will!

This is because:

  1. Even though short DPNs and long DPNs say that they are the same size does not mean they are
  2. Putting both needles through a needle gauge at the same size don't mean nuthin.
  3. When you find that one sleeve is way bigger than the other on the self same number of stitches: stop and think
  4. Instead of ripping back to the cuff and re-knitting the whole lot with less stitches: do check the cuff size against each other too.  This might just be a really good idea!
  5. Yes: when a sleeve is a different size with the same number of stitches as another sleeve, then the cuff with the same number of stitches as the other cuff is also a different size!
  6. And no: do not think that it'll be all right because a different number of stitches does indeed mean that you get a different result, only imagine!  What a surprise.
  7. And with all of the above having been said: do check the actual fabric you're getting by comparing what it feels like when you actually touch both sleeves!  You know: rub them a bit between your fingers - do the tactile thing.  Yes: the fabric you get with less stitches is lots thinner and even awfully more floppy than the fabric you get with more stitches!  D'uh!!

Longer DPNs on the left, shorter DPNs on the right


How could I?  I just kept on knitting, thinking: I am getting the same size now that I'm not increasing, I am, aren't I?  Surely it'll be all right?

Nooooo! It won't!!!  Don't be so daft.

I realised that I was getting knitted fabric where the stitches felt more 'spaced' out for want of a better word, and still: I kept on going!  I just don't believe myself.

Now, I am not convinced that those two kinds of needles really are slightly different in size - they are both supposed to be 2.5mm and seeing as the needle gauge also says they're 2.5mm I do tend to believe that they are.

But very obviously I am getting different results and the lesson has sunk in now: if you use short DPNs the first time round, then for God's sake: use the blasted things for the second sleeve as well!  What was I thinking?  Oh yeah: longer DPNs will mean that the stitches won't slip off the needles as easily as happened on the first sleeve.

Instead it might be a good idea to just use more of those shorter DPNs, I do have them after all (I like knitting two socks at the same time so I have two sets of most size sock needles). I wonder if the problem lies in stitches spacing out a bit more on longer needles?  Or the longer ones are indeed just a touch bigger?  At this thinness it could make a difference.  Regardless: I won't be making this mistake again.  I hope.

This is particularly galling because the front piece did not work out yet either.  I will blog this separately but I will have to rip this down quite a bit, or best yet like here: start over and keep comparing to the first version so I don't repeat my errors.

I am lucky that I have a tailor dummy in my measurements so I can pin a piece to it to check for fit.  No use for sleeves, but at least the re-doing of the front won't be a huge pain.

Having motored through the back in three days flat (including blocking! Wahey!) did set me up to think that this knit would be an absolute breeze.  Famous last words!