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Woolfest 2012

The school summer term finishes early in Scotland, and this year we finished even earlier than usual, with the pleasing result being that my summer holiday started on Friday! So expect the usual holiday-induced return to blogging for the next few weeks.

I kicked off the holiday in true knitterly style with Woolfest. It’s four years since I last went, and when my neighbour asked if I wanted a place on the bus that the Stirling knitting group had organised I jumped at the chance, and persuaded my friend Tor to join me (which wasn’t that hard!). So it was that I was up at the crack of dawn on the first day of the holidays, instead of a much-needed lie-in, and on a bus leaving Stirling at 7.30.

It was worth it. Woolfest would have been fun had I gone just for the shopping and to see all the sheep, alpacas and angora bunnies, but the people made it fantastic.

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Tor and Antje. (Antje owns The Yarn Cake, Glasgow’s foremost purveyor of yarn and home baking. If you are a knitter, like cake, and live anywhere near Glasgow you should go there!)

Speaking of people, I also got to meet Kate for the first time, despite having corresponded occasionally online for years. Being a bit of a fangirl, I had selected my Manu cardigan to wear because I knew she would be at Woolfest! It was great to finally meet her (and see the original samples of her gorgeous patterns – Rams and Yowes especially!).

Being a little overtired from general end-of-term-itis and the early start, we took a break for tea and knitting, and I managed to finish my current project.

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It’s Age of Brass and Steam, in a Skein Queen merino/cashmere blend I got at the Glasgow School of Yarn. It was a very quick knit, and only took a week. I must get round to blogging (and Ravelling) my recent knitting at some point soon!

I didn’t actually do that much shopping, and I didn’t even buy yarn! I did, however, manage to buy some new stitch markers, a cute project bag, and a yarn bowl.

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There was also a bizarre-but-wonderful art installation, consisting of many, many pompom sheep.

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We headed home after a very full day, and despite some technical problems on the way home (a fuel cap that wouldn’t come off and not enough fuel in the tank to get the bus home!) a great time was had by all.

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I decided to make an Annis shawl with the Ba T’at Laceweight that I bought at Knitcamp. I knit it faithfully according to the pattern, and ended up with a crazily curling, skinny scarf:

When I checked my gauge (I hadn’t bothered to swatch properly) I realised that my row gauge was way off. I wore it for a while, but I wasn’t really happy with it.

So I ripped out the whole of the stocking stitch portion, right back to the lace, and re-knit it. This time, instead of adding and extra 3 stitches on each short row, I only added 2. When I got to the end, I added an eyelet row and 3 rows of moss stitch to stop it curling. The result is, I’m sure you’ll agree, much improved!

I worked the nupps using the crochet hook method, and they don’t stand out very well, but that might be partly because of the vibrant colours in the yarn. The only other thing I’d change would be to use a smaller needle. The pattern called for 5mm, and I used 4.5, but with my loose tension that was still too much for laceweight, really. Luckily it’s a heavy laceweight, bordering on fingering weight, so it doesn’t look too bad. I think a 4 or even a 3.5 would have been better, though.

Still, I am very pleased with it!

(And yes, that is my Baby Cables sweater making an appearance yet again. I do own other sweaters, honest! It’s just this one is warm and soft and perfect for allotmenting, which is what I did after these photos were taken!)

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Spring FOs

Last summer, when I was in Kenya, I cast on for a Whispy Cardi in Posh Yarn Sylvia. I’d been meaning to knit one of Hannah Fettig’s laceweight cardigans for ages, and when she re-released Whisper (from Interweave Knits) as the Whispy Cardi I bought the pattern.

I knit most of the shrug portion when I was in Kenya, and then abandoned it to hibernation as soon as I got back. In January, when I was packing for Nepal, I picked it up as ideal travel knitting (only 100g towards your luggage allowance for a whole cardigan’s worth of knitting!). I knit in Nepal, and continued when I got home. For a while I thought it was going to turn out far too big, but when I added the ribbing round the collar and waist (and how tedious that amount of K1, P1 rib was!) it really stabilised it. I’m very pleased with the final article, although I would have preferred the sleeves to be longer.

In fact, that’s my only peeve with the pattern. The pattern photos show a cardigan with 3/4 length sleeves, but according to the schematic I should have been knitting sleeves 9″ long. There’s no way 9″ comes anywhere near my elbow, let alone past it! I added an inch or so to the sleeves, but I didn’t dare make them longer as the sleeves are the first part that’s knit and I didn’t want to run out of yarn. As it was I had plenty of yarn left, but no easy way to lengthen the sleeves, as they’d been seamed and one was the cast-on edge. Still, I’m pretty happy with it. But if I were to knit it again, I’d make the sleeves longer.

Notice the skirt?

It’s from a Clothkits kit that I bought in a sale a while ago. I don’t think they sell it any more. In comparison to my Birdie skirt, which took me the better part of 2 years on and off (mostly off), I whipped this one up in about 5 hours total over two days. I’m really pleased with it, although it is a bit big. Despite me cutting out the size 10 and measuring the seam allowances carefully, it’s the same size as my size 12 Monsoon skirt! Still, it’s an A-line skirt, so it’s pretty forgiving.

One other detail from the above photos: the necklace was made by the wonderful Helen from her handmade ceramic beads. Check out her site – as well as jewellery she makes lovely leaf-shaped buttons!

Last, but not least, I’ve been working on a crochet kit that my good friend Tor bought me for my birthday last year. The result:

It was a good bit of crochet practice, and I learnt to crochet rings into the bargain. Aren’t they cute? I think I feel a crochet Cthulhu coming on at some point…

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I went into McAree’s yesterday and immediately got told off by Cayt for not blogging enough. In my defence, I had been meaning to blog for ages, and had been saving up photos. But circumstances (and life in general) kept conspiring against me – I’ve just bought a new Mac, which I adore greatly, but it’s taken a while to figure out how to use iPhoto (can I just say it is my new favourite thing? It reads the RAW files straight off my camera, edits them in quite sophisticated ways, and uploads them as Jpegs to Flickr, which it used to take three separate PC programmes to do!). And then I’ve had router issues which meant that photos wouldn’t upload.But enough excuses; on to the knitting!

A few weeks ago I was in Nepal on a teacher exchange thing. We were lucky enough to get back to Kathmandu with a day to spare before our flight home, and we spent a really lovely day wandering around Kathmandu taking in the atmosphere and doing some shopping. I loved Kathmandu. It’s a fascinating city, incredibly busy and chaotic – to cross the road you have to dodge cars, motorbikes, cyclists and rickshaws – and I found the people to be really friendly. We were staying in Thamel, the most touristy district, and there were lots of shops selling pashminas, knock-off North Face gear, and various souvenirs including brightly coloured Nepali knitwear. My Dad had requested I bring him home a hat, so I ventured into one of the shops to purchase one.

I settled on a traditional Nepali hat in manly greys, and had a wonderful conversation with the owner of the shop about its construction. It was obviously handknit in the round, with a cosy fleece lining hand-sewn into it. I was wearing my much-loved Baby Cables sweater, and the shop owner said, “That’s not a Nepali sweater, is it?” Which led to a conversation about Scottish vs Nepali wool.

And here is the hat in question, which my Dad loved:

I had taken some crochet with me to amuse myself on our various flights (as well as my Kindle, which was fantastic). I decided to make a Calm Cowl, as it seemed relatively straightforward. An over-enthusiastic security lady at Kathmandu airport nearly confiscated it when I was on my way home, as she thought I might strangle someone with the yarn. I don’t think she’d ever seen crochet before, and she wasn’t bothered about the hooks, or even the safety pins I’d mistakenly left in my bag. My yarn and measuring tape, though, were apparently deadly weapons. Eventually, after some discussion, another security lady gave them back to me and I stuffed them back in my bag and scurried away gratefully.

I did get the cowl finished on the plane, and I’m really happy with it:

In the last couple of months I’ve finished off a few other winter accessories. I made a hat for my Mum:

It’s the Sprouting Cloche had from Brave New Knits. I was ill a couple of days after getting back from Nepal and fit for nothing but sitting on the sofa knitting, so I got this finished pretty quickly. The last few rows of the chart are wrong, and the final stitch count is off, but it’s fairly easy to “read” your knitting and work out you should be doing by that point. I sent it off to Mum along with Dad’s Nepali hat and she was really pleased with it. It’s made from Rico Baby, which is 100% acrylic. I’d never normally touch 100% acrylic, but Mum finds animal fibres scratchy, and this particular yarn is very soft. Definitely one to remember for future gifts.

After repairing Chris’s Manly Gloves (or, as friends have nicknamed them, his Fagin Gloves) at least 3 times, I decided it was time for a new pair.

These are the best ones I’ve made yet, in terms of fit. Good old Felted Tweed, and this time I went down to a 2.75mm needle for a nice, dense fabric.

And finally, possibly my greatest knitting achievement to date! Yes, I have finally made a beret that fits.

It’s my second Rose Red beret, this time in Shilasdair Luxury DK to match my Hawthorne scarf. I foolishly didn’t write down what needle size I used, but I think it was something in the region of 3.5mm. Definitely much smaller than my previous Rose Red, which I knit in Fyberspates Scrumptious on 4mms and which turned out far too big.

And finally, while I was looking up at the sycamore tree that towers over our garden with great excitement – it has buds on it!! It must be spring!! – Chris snapped this picture:

3 FOs in one picture! Rose Red, Calm Cowl, and my beloved Baby Cables and Big Ones Too.

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Looking back on 2010, I don’t think I managed as many FOs as I have in previous years. That said, I think my crafting output was still fairly significant – especially if you consider that I was training for a marathon and starting a new job at the time!

Here’s the obligatory mosaic of some of my 2010 crafting (mostly knitting, of course):

From left to right, starting at the top:

  • Hawthorne in Shilasdair DK
  • Dashing in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran (recycled from my frogged Gretel)
  • Tiramisu baby blanket in Anchor Style Creativa
  • Liesl in RYC Cashcotton DK
  • Manu in Rowan Felted Tweed
  • Garter Stitch Baby Kimono in Patons Diploma Gold 4-ply
  • Veyla gloves in Posh Yarn Sylvia 2-ply
  • Morning Echo in Jaeger Extra Fine Merino DK
  • Weekender Beret in Rowan Cocoon
  • Ishbel in Posh Yarn Sylvia 2-ply
  • Tiny Shoes in Patons Diploma Gold 4-ply
  • Hedgerow Socks (no FO photo I’m afraid!) in Old Maiden Aunt Alpaca/Merino 4-ply
  • Socks for David in Patons Diploma Gold DK
  • Easy Mobius Cowl in Rowan Colourscape Chunky
  • Fishy Cushion from Clothkits
  • Stripy Socks in Regia Kaffe Fassett 4-ply

Including a few other things that I never got round to photographing (a cowl for my sister, a Clothkits doorstop, curtains for the dining room) my crafting output for 2010 amounts to:

Knitting and crochet

1 baby blanket (crochet)

1 baby cardigan

1 pair of booties

3 pairs of adult socks

2 cowls

2 lace scarves/shawls

1 beret

2 pairs of fingerless mitts

1 sweater

3 cardigans.

Sewing

1 skirt (finally! After I started it 2 years ago! And now it’s too big!!)

1 doorstop

1 pair of curtains

 

So what does 2011 have in store, craft-wise? I have one hibernating WIP, a Whispy Cardi in a Posh Yarn laceweight. I started it on our holiday in Kenya, but the weather turned cold before I finished it. The only problem is I don’t think I made a note of the needle size I used (it may have been 3.5s)! But that’s a problem for the spring.

Chris’s Manly Gloves have been knit, reknit, darned and generally bodged back together more times than I care to count. They’ve also stretched a great deal and are really too big, as well as being increasingly fragile. So yesterday I cast on for a new pair for him, again in Felted Tweed. I’m radically downsizing them – making the Medium rather than the Large as well as using a smaller needle size – and I’m going to knit one glove, then wash and block it to see if that’s a better fit.

I got a copy of Brave New Knits for Christmas, and my Mum has requested a Sprouting Cloche hat in some soft purple acrylic I bought to make her a cardigan (but the pattern was appalling, lacking basic information about gauge, so I gave it up as a bad job).

Other than that, I don’t really know! I have some vague plans but they are subject to change on a whim!

Just one more thing to say: Happy 2011, everyone!


 

 

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I thought it was about time I did a proper post. It’s been a long time since I blogged about knitting, and I have several FOs that I’ve given away without photographing.

So…back in August I went to Knit Camp with some friends. We just went for the day, as it was only a few miles down the road, and I wasn’t involved in any of the drama that unfolded surrounding the event (and I feel very bad for those who were involved). We attended the Marketplace and had a very pleasant day mooching around and meeting people. My red Liesl was much admired (including by Debbie Stoller – who I didn’t recognise! Oops!) and I bumped into Katherine, which was great, as I’d never met her in real life before.

I was relatively restrained in purchasing, but still managed to come away with some yarn and buttons:

It’s “Liquorice” from Ba T’at Yarns. I have vague plans for it, possibly involving Travelling Woman.

And the buttons:

Big Five buttons! (Yes, I will finish the Kenya photos eventually. I promise).

Gorgeous, lightweight coconut shell buttons.

It’s been very, very cold in Scotland for about three weeks. We still haven’t lost all the snow that fell on the last weekend of November (although most of it is solid ice by now), and more fell today. I’ve been making the most of some of my recent FOs:

Socks in Kaffe Fassett Regia 4-ply. I wanted to make them as long as possible, so I knit them toe-up. I used Judy’s Magic Cast on, knit them in plain stocking stitch over 60 stitches, worked a short row heel and finished with Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off.

Dashing mitts in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran that I recycled from my Gretel beret. It had never really fit me, it was a bit too small, and I didn’t wear it last winter at all, so I frogged it and repurposed it. These mitts have probably had more wear in the last 3 weeks than the beret did in the whole time I had it.

I have another post brewing, but I think this one’s long enough for now. I’ll leave you with this picture of some FOs, old and new, put to good use:

 

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Another Liesl

I have a lot to blog about, particularly our holiday in Kenya (I’m still in the throes of processing the photos, but there WILL be bloggage soon!) and running, of course. In fact, I ran 17.2 miles this morning and as a result am now fit for nothing but sitting on the sofa eating biscuits! Well, actually if I want biscuits I will have to walk the short distance to the High Street to get them, and then I will probably go and sit in the garden for a bit to eat them!

There is ongoing crafty progress, too; my Kenya knitting was a Whispy Cardi, which is perhaps half done (although at this rate it won’t be finished in time to wear it this summer!), and I have also learnt to crochet. Well, learnt enough to get me halfway through a Tiramisu Baby Blanket for a friend whose baby is due very soon.

But I do actually have one finished project to show you. When I abandoned my plans to knit Manu in red Cashcotton in favour of Felted Tweed, that freed up rather a lot of gorgeous, soft, bright red DK (albeit DK that knits up to a worsted-like gauge – at least with my tension!). So I whipped up a quick summer cardigan with less than half of it:

Yes, it’s my second Liesl cardigan (and yet another Ysolda knit!). I can’t remember exactly how many balls of Cashcotton it took, and I can’t check as we have been cleaning the carpets, so the house is in complete disarray and I’m not sure where my stash is currently located! I cast on with 8mm needles (as my previous Liesl tends to ride up and be too tight round the neck). I then knit it on 6mm needles and knit the next size up, as it’s a lighter yarn than the pattern calls for. It fits perfectly with just enough negative ease to open up the lace and not gape at the back:

I like the way the negative ease means it’s actually a bit fitted round the waist, despite having no shaping. The only problem was that three buttons was not enough – the front gaped open between the buttons in a very unsightly way. And the buttonholes were a bit too big for the buttons, as well. So I reinforced the existing buttonholes using buttonhole stitch, and then created three more but just forcing a gap (using the tip of a finger!) between two of the stitches on the buttonhole band and sewing around the gap with buttonhole stitch. Because the gauge for this pattern is loose and the buttons are small, it worked well.

I’ve worn it so much since blocking it that I think it needs another wash already – particularly since it met a couple of very friendly cats!

Yes, some of those long, soft fibres are not angora!

In short, I love the yarn, love the cardigan – complete success!

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