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Archive for the ‘Works in progress’ Category

I’m back to school tomorrow – probably minus a few colleagues and pupils who will be stuck on their holidays due to the volcanic ash! So I thought it was time to share my holiday crafting.

During the first few days I had a bit of a crafting marathon, and my main goal was to finish the Clothkits skirt I started, ahem, nearly two years ago. And I am delighted to report that it is, at last, finished!

Apologies for the lack of head in the photo. It wasn’t a very flattering picture! Finishing the skirt wasn’t that hard, after all – the side seams are a bit wonky, but a bit of judicious pressing took care of that. I’m particularly pleased with my hand-sewn blind hem. I’m now torn between ordering another Clothkits skirt, or making a trip through to Edinburgh or Glasgow to investigate proper patterns and fabric at John Lewis. Incidentally, that’s my Wicked sweater in the photo above – the sweater was originally knit to go with this skirt, but it’s been finished for so long it’s gone a big baggy and pilly in the meantime!

I have also resolved my Manu dilemma. I realised (with help from various commenters, thank you!) that I was never going to get a practical gauge with the Cashcotton. So I caved, went out and bought some Felted Tweed in a lovely pale green. And a 3mm needle gets me, after washing, a gauge that should work if I make the smallest size (why is my tension so loose? It’s crazy! But at least it’s consistent). And I’ve now finished the body and am about to cast on for the sleeves:

Quite a few people have commented on the 16.5 inches of plain stocking stitch, but I didn’t find it dull. I’ve recently discovered that I can quite happily knit garter or stocking stitch while reading (it has to be something that stays open by itself, but that makes newspapers and magazines quite handy) so I happily knit away while perusing the paper or watching TV of an evening.

A few days ago I decided to wash some of my most-worn winter woollens, and I managed to prise Chris’s birdwatching gloves away from him for long enough to wash them too. I knit them for him in November 2008, and he has worn them almost constantly except for at the height of summer! And I realised that they were starting to fall apart:

The thumb and index finger on both gloves was coming apart. Upon closer inspection, it looked as if the yarn had quite simply worn out from heavy use – the strands were weak, and broke easily, and it looked as if the cast-on edge had just worn away. So I decided to fix them. Luckily, my refusal to throw away any yarn meant that I still had a tiny ball of leftover Felted Tweed from when I made them in the first place.

I snipped one of the stitches a row or two beneath the worn part of each thumb/finger. I carefully unpicked that strand, effectively “unzipping” the top few rows from the rest of the glove. I picked up the resulting stitches onto a magic loop, and knit up until the digit was back to its original length.

Ta da!

Observant readers will notice that the thumb and forefinger don’t exactly match the original fingers. This is because the gloves were knitted fingers-down, while the repairs were knitted glove-up (if you see what I mean). So the new cast-off edge doesn’t match the original cast-on edges. I did try Elizabeth Zimmerman’s “cast-on cast-off” from the Knitter’s Almanac, but I think I did it wrong or maybe didn’t pull it tight enough, because it looked a bit weird.

I’m quite proud of myself nevertheless and Chris is pleased to have a new lease of life for his gloves!

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Two posts in one day! I thought it was better to separate them as they are about completely different things. So, back to our usual fare: knitting!

I finished knitting and blocking my Owls sweater, and am wearing it right now. It looks fabulous – it’s so close-fitting and well-shaped it’s actually a very sexy sweater, despite being made of a chunky woollen yarn. The sleeves are very tight – it’s a bit of a struggle to put it on, and I certainly won’t be wearing it over any long-sleeved tops, but it’s perfectly comfortable once it’s on. Hopefully the upper arms will give a little with wear. The reason it’s not completely finished, and I’m not boring you with FO pictures, is that I don’t yet have any buttons for the owls’ eyes. It’s very hard to source 34 identical buttons – neither of my local craft shops carry that many of the same kind. I found some on the Internet, but the site wanted me to spend a minimum of £5, and I didn’t want anything else! Eventually I found some plain plastic fisheye buttons on Ebay, and ordered two packs. I hope they match the sweater!

I have finally bitten the bullet and cast on for my first stranded project. I opted for Ziggy, which is a pattern for crazy zigzag socks in Noro Kureyon. I chose one of the more muted colourways, full of greens and browns and greys. The pattern has already gone through several creative stages:

  • At first I planned to knit the socks toe-up, as specified by the pattern, and to stripe the Kureyon with some steel-grey Patons Diploma Gold 4-ply. I decided to cast on 72 stitches, as various people on Ravelry have commented that the socks are tight, and I have size 7 feet.
  • After being foiled late one evening by the magic cast-on and deciding to leave it till the next day and find a video, I had a think and realised that I don’t particularly like toe-up socks anyway. So I decided to knit them cuff-down, and cast on 72 stitches on my lovely new wooden KnitPro 2.75mm needles.
  • About 3 inches into the first sock, I realised several things. One, at 19 rows the cuff was too long. Two, the first colour in the ball was a dull khaki and I didn’t like the way it knit up in ribbing. Three, at 72 stitches on 2.75s, the cuff was too loose. And four, I didn’t much like the way the Noro was knitting up with the Patons.
  • So I frogged it, and this is what I’ve ended up with so far:

This time I cast on 66 stitches on 2.25mm needles. I only knit 10 rows of ribbing, and then I changed to the 2.75s. On the first colourwork row, I kfb every other pattern repeat to increase to 72 stitches. And I’m striping the Noro with itself, as the pattern specified in the first place. I like how it’s going so far, althoughI hope to get some more contrasting colours coming through soon so you can see the zigzags more clearly.

Last weekend I had to buy another ball of yarn for my Owls sweater, and when I ordered it from Cucumberpatch I was completely won over by the RYC Cashcotton in their sale. Some background: I completely fell in love with Kate’s Manu cardigan when I first saw it on her blog. I decided I had to knit it just as soon as the pattern was available, and that I wanted to make it in red. I liked the fuzziness of the Shilasdair yarn, and would probably have been happy to make it in that. But the Cashcotton seemed to fit the bill: wonderfully soft, fuzzy, and a glorious colour called “red pepper”.

I wasn’t sure how much I would need, as the pattern isn’t published yet. According to Ravelry, Kate used 4 skeins of Shilasdair, or 1488 yards. I am less petite than Kate, and I assumed I would be making a bigger size. So I bought 11 balls to be on the safe side, which gives me 1562 yards. I wonder if I should maybe have got a 12th ball, as I did need more yarn than the pattern indicated for Owls (also designed by Kate) – the price of being tall with monkey arms, I suppose! I routinely make patterns longer than specified, and I forget that eats up extra yarn.

Anyway, there is a fire burning in the grate and I’m off to put on the kettle and pick up my knitting…

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To the frog pond!

I’ve been working on a Laminaria shawl in the Posh Yarns Sylvia that I posted a picture of last time. It hasn’t gone particularly well, so far – nothing to do with the pattern or yarn, just me making mistakes and not paying attention. I dropped some stitches in the border and didn’t manage to pick them up in a satisfactory manner (ie in pattern), so I have a small hole in the border. I ploughed on, thinking nobody would see the hole once it’s finished, but then I noticed this:

The stitches on one side of the central “spine” stitch are looser than on the other side. Browsing the Laminaria KAL on Ravelry tells me that this is a relatively common problem. I thought about it for a while, and then decided that, since I’m not that far into the project and I’m a perfectionist, I’m going to frog it and start again. Someone on the KAL suggested twisting the stitches before and after the central spine, so I’ll give that a try.

Meanwhile, I have finished and blocked Vivian (at last!). The upper sleeves are a wee bit looser than I’d like, but everything else fits beautifully and I’ll be able to wear long-sleeved tops under it. I just need to put in a zip – which is not a trivial task as I’ve never done it before! It won’t be this weekend as we’re off to Yorkshire to visit Chris’s parents, but hopefully I’ll be snuggling up in it soon.

Right, off to the frog pond!

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Last winter I knit a small rose brooch (Ravelry link) from some leftover Fyberspates yarn. Mum loved it, and made me promise to knit several for use as buttonholes and corsages for the wedding. I’ve been working on them on and off for ages, and today I finally finished them:

There’s no particular code regarding purple vs blue or pink vs blue hearts – there are enough for everyone at the top table, immediate family, and people giving readings. Everyone can just pick the one they like. (The background in that photo is the white board I bought to make a big seating plan – I’ll be keeping that after the wedding for knitting photography purposes!)

In non-wedding-related knitting, I cast on a couple of weeks ago for Cayman (Ravelry link). It was very much an impulse knit – it was the first day of the summer holidays, and I was sitting outside my favourite coffee shop in Stirling reading Yarn Forward magazine, and I thought, “That’s a nice sweater. It would be good to slip on in the evenings on honeymoon.” And luckily (or perhaps unluckily) McAree’s is right across the road from the coffee shop. And before I knew it, I’d purchased a whole bunch of Rowan Summer Tweed in a lovely pale sage green.

So I cast on, and promptly realised that the artful manner in which the model is slouching in a chair in the photo disguises the fact that the pattern has no shaping other than some ribbing. So I added some waist shaping. The ribbing also changed from a baby cable rib to plain rib after a couple of inches (I guess this would add a bit of shaping, but the ribbing starts below the natural waist), so I decided to make it all baby cable rib because I thought the transition looked weird in the photos. I also omitted the short-row shaping on the collar, because I didn’t want the collar to be so high at the back.

Here’s my progress so far:

I’m very happy with the fit and the shaping (if my swatch is not lying then it should gain a bit of ease when I wash it) and I think the weird ruffling around the collar will go away when the collar is properly sewn down at the front, sleeves are added, and it’s blocked. But I’m not happy with the ribbing.  Because I’ve kept it all in baby cable rib, it pulls tighter than it should over the hips, leaving the split sides (which you can’t see in the photo) gaping and looking very unflattering across my belly!

The current plan: frog back to the stocking stitch portion, knit a couple more inches in stocking stitch, then switch to plain 3×2 rib (abandoning the baby cable rib altogether) and knit it a couple of inches longer than it currently is. A plain rib should have a bit more ease than the cable rib, but I’m wondering whether to stick in a more increases as well.

So I’m looking for advice, dear readers! What should I do with the bottom of this sweater to make it more flattering? Is my plan of a longer stocking stitch portion followed by plain rib a good one?

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I finished the third of my small projects – a hat for B and J’s baby:

It was made using leftover Knitpicks Swish DK from the Five Fruits baby sweater. I knew the baby was going to be a boy, and happily I had lots of blue and purple yarn left. You can’t see it very clearly in the photo, but the little knot at the top of the hat is the same shade of dark blue as the brim. I finished the hat yesterday evening, and within an hour had received a message that baby Daniel had arrived. Perfect timing! The pattern is the Rolled Brim Hat from the Yarn Corner.

So, the important thing is that now I’ve finished my three small projects (Manly Gloves Mark II, Snowboarding Hat and Baby Hat) I can now cast on for a new sweater! Which I did as soon as I’d sewed in the ends of the baby hat. It’s Baby Cables and Big Ones Too (Ravelry link). Inspired by Wazz, and the Sexy Knitters Club over on Ravelry, who are knitting this pattern as their current knit-along.

I’m knitting it in New Lanark DK in Limestone. It’s a very pale grey with darker variegations. I’ve only really swatched so far, but I’m already very excited about the colour and the way it’s going to knit up. It’s very difficult to photograph because getting the white balance right in a picture of grey yarn against a white background is tricky, but here’s an attempt:

I’m probably not going to be able to knit any of the sweater tonight, though, because our printer is dead and I don’t think I can read instructions and refer to 5 different cable charts at the same time while reading from my laptop screen. It’s only a temporary setback, though! The weather is decidedly chilly at the moment and I’m really looking forward to snuggling up in a pure wool sweater…

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Future plans

I’ve now got the buttonband done on the Tangled Yoke; I picked up 130 stitches and it seems fine. Have to see what it looks like with buttons on it. Just the buttonhole band to do – I’ll need to refresh my memory of how to do one-row buttonholes. I picked up some cute brown buttons while visiting Alithea in Dundee today. There is a bit of puckering around the back below the cable – I’m not too worried about it but it would be nice to block it out. I’m not sure how to block a cardigan – I might have to investigate steam blocking (scary!).

I’m already looking ahead for my next project. Since The Fella left his first pair of manly gloves on the train I’ve been promising him a new pair. I’m pretty sure there will be a spare ball of Felted Tweed leftover from the Tangled Yoke cardigan, so I should make those first. Second, I’ve promised our lovely Canadian neighbour a simple, no-nonsense hat for snowboarding. The other day I made an order from New Lanark and bought this for the hat:

It’s their Donegal Silk Tweed aran in “Cobalt.”

Third, two of my friends are expecting their first baby (a boy) in a couple of weeks. I have some really lovely scraps of blue and purple sock yarn and DK in my stash, so I’m planning some baby socks and a hat.

So that’s three (well, four) small projects before I allow myself to start on my next sweater obsession (yeah, I’m all about the sweaters at the moment!):

  1. Many Gloves Mark II
  2. Snowboarding Hat
  3. Baby Socks and Hat

I have more sweaters planned and more yarn to show you but I’ll leave it there for now! I think that’s quite enough knitting planned!

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The Tangled Yoke is nearly there – I have victory in my sights! Here’s the finished cable:

I’ve worked one buttonband, keeping the approximate ratio of 6 picked-up stitches per inch that’s used in the pattern (as my cardigan is several inches longer than the pattern specifies). The band has turned out too baggy, however. Casting off with a much smaller needle helped some, but I think I’m going to have to frog it and try again with fewer picked-up stitches. I’m still determined to wear it for work on Monday!

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