Archive for July, 2010

Fat Quarter Swap

My local knitting group had another fantastic swap night last night.  These yarn swaps have fast become one of the most anticipated events on my knitting calendar.  There are some very creative and talented ladies in this group, and it’s always so much fun seeing what they come up with, and swapping in person is always great as we all get a chance to see and discuss the yarns and crafts that are swapped.

For this swap, each of us purchased a fat quarter and then we drew them out of a hat – the dyeing was to be inspired by the colours in the fat quarter.  Some people gave back the fat quarter intact while others used them to craft a gift for the swap.

I gave my camera a rest and am stealing Sam’s piccies of the night.

So, first up, the lovely yarn that I got gifted – my first gradient dyed yarn! I also received some gifts for the girls – a cute apron each and a set of cute clippies. For me – choccie and some cute stitch markers.

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And some other lovely gifts…

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This is the yarn that I dyed up, along with a project bag and needlebook made from the fat quarter I was given.

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FO: Tea Leaves Cardigan

I have a new favourite cardigan.

This is my Tea Leaves Cardigan, knit in Madelinetosh DK. Oh my, what a lovely combination!

The Tea Leaves Cardigan is one of those patterns that I saw around on Ravelry and loved, intending to knit it at some stage. When I was making my big WEBS order, I  decided to splash out on a garment lot of Madelinetosh yarn, figuring that a good pattern deserves a good yarn. Initially I wasn’t sure if I loved the yarn when it arrived – all skeined up the colour looked quite flat, and I was really hoping for a semi solid effect. When I finally got around to winding the yarn it became clear that there was more variation in the tone on tone colour than I first thought. In fact I could see that in the six skeins I had two that were close to solid, two that were quite varied with light patches, and two that were a good combination.  I decided that to avoid patchiness or variations in the finished garment I would use two balls at time and knit two rows from each and then switch over. I used the lightest and darkest balls alternately for the body of the cardigan and saved the two combination balls for the sleeves.  The end result is a uniform distribution of the colours across the cardigan, just as I had hoped. The alternation of balls is much easier on the cardigan than a sweater knit in the round!

In terms of the fit, I had read about the experiences of others with this pattern, and was aware of issues with the neckline being too wide. To avoid this, I cast on for a size one less than I wanted to end up with. I knit this size right through all of the increases, and then when I slipped the stitches off for the sleeves, I cast on eight stitches under each of the arms. This accomplished two things – firstly it gave me a wider cardigan body around the bust, which is of course where I need the extra room, and secondly it gave me more sleeve stitches to pick up, and therefore a slightly more generous sleeve. I had also noted that people found the sleeves tight, and I wanted to wear this over long sleeved shirts so I wanted a little bit of positive ease in the sleeves.

Other than these changes I knit the pattern as written (oh, and added a third buttonhole). I trusted than the length of the body as written was correct even though it was short. I had, again, checked up on feedback of other knitters which showed that the yarn I was using tended to stretch lengthwise. And sure enough it grew several inches on blocking to a very reasonable length.

This cardigan is a simple knit. It features alternating garter stitch bands with stocking stitch bands which are ruched due to increases and using larger needles for the stocking stitch sections.  The circular yoke is includes all of the increases in the main pattern without the use of short rows. There is very little counting of stitches, and the pattern is simply written but accurate. While I would recommend you are careful with the neckline and the fit at the top, I would definitely recommend this pattern.

The yarn is holding up well considering I have worn the cardigan practically every second day since I finished it.  In this photo you can see a slight halo starting to fuzz up.

There is a small round of balling up too, but with an occasional shave I think that this will be a very well performing yarn.  I would definitely recommend it thus far, it was a tad pricey but I am hoping that it will prove to be value for money over time.

Summary:

Pattern: Tea Leaves Cardigan by Melissa LaBarre

Yarn: Madelinetosh DK, I used just over 5 skeins, plenty left for a hat or cowl.

Needles: 4mm needles for garter stitch, 4.5mm needles for stocking stitch. I tried out my new 4.5mm Knitpro short tips on the sleeves and was very pleased with them.

Time to knit: The body was finished in a couple of weeks, sleeves took 2-3 days each, and the bands knit up very quickly in a few hours. Overall it took me over a month though, going away on holiday without the new tips meant I couldn’t knit up with sleeves when I wanted to.

Difficulty Level: Easy, you just need patience to knit miles of stocking stitch.

My Creative Space

I haven’t joined in with the Creative Space posts popular among many blogs that I read. But it seems like fun, and since I managed to find my camera (hiding in the depths of my handbag), I thought that I might play along today.

So, what is happening in my creative space today?

Some new stitch markers made some some beads that were threatening to become stash. I intercepted them just as they were trying to disappear to the bottom of  a pile in my sewing room. Lovely Swarkovski crystals and delightful butterflies which I am sure my girls will try to steal. They so love my stitch markers! And speaking of the girls, they picked me a bunch of flowers from the garden this afternoon – lucky me!

Moving on, and trying not to keep using exclamation marks, this is my easy project for when the girls are around.

It is yet another Olearia, this one is for Miss 2, she is super jealous of Miss 3’s new shrug with special buttons, and her own one is progressing nicely.  I will make a cardigan for her though, as I have another 100g hank of this yarn too which will be plenty.  I’m using some Woolly Wumpkins Aran weight organic merino – scrumptious, teamed with some bright purple Colour 4 Me to tie in with the buttons.

And on the selfish knitting side, I have cast on for the Alpaka Tunic which I fell in love with from last year’s Interweave Knits Fall issue.  I used the sleeves as gauge swatch, and now both are done.  I have even cast on all 264 stitches and joined them in the round to knit the body of the tunic, which I am adapting to knit in the round instead of in pieces. Waaay less purling, and no seaming. The perfect adaptation.

I’m using Berocco Ultra Alpaca , and it is working up nicely. And on 5.5mm needles, it should hopefully knit up fast too.

And that’s my creative space today. To check out more creative spaces, head over to Kootoyoo.

Book Review 1

I was a very lucky girl for my birthday – one of my gifts was a gift voucher to Amazon.co.uk.  Given that reading books are easily borrowed from our library or picked up cheaply from our local hospice shop, I thought it would be a good opportunity to build up my knitting library a little more.  The voucher in pounds went a rather long way, so I’ll split up the reviews of the books over several posts so that you don’t get overwhelmed, and so that I have something to post about.

For today, I’ll post about my favourite of the books I bought, which is New England Knits by Cecily Glowick MacDonald and Melissa LaBarre.

 

I ordered this sight unseen, just going on what I knew of Melissa LaBarre’s designs, and I am really happy that I did.  It is a beautifully presented book, really evocative of the New England area, and has lovely photography.  And all of that in addition to the 25 knitting patterns.

Many of the patterns are for tunics, sweaters of hoodies – in fact that takes care of 18 patterns. There are also a number of accessories – two hats, a bag, gloves, a cowl, and even a skirt.  I adore the sweater on the cover, and also the Providence Hoodie, below.

 

This tunic, the Greylock tunic,  looks fun, for those who are enjoying warmer weather than we are.

Perhaps this cardigan might be my first knit from the book though:

This is the Greenfield Cardigan, and I love its simple lines and cute leaf detail. 

You can see it’s knit in garter stitch – excellent for the lazy knitters or as an in-between project, and DK weight yarn is readily available here, so I might check out my stash to see what it offers.

I do have a decided preference for LaBarre’s designs – although that was the case before I bought the book too, so that’s no surprise. She designed several things I have knit in the past, including the Garter Yoke Cardigan and the Tea Leaves cardigan which is currently awaiting a FO photo. She also designs super cute hats, and I knit a couple of her Crooked Paths berets earlier this year.  So, if you like to knit seamless garments from the top down, usually with a yoke rather than raglan increases, you might well like this book as much as I do – certainly a good buy!

Back to work tomorrow

One of the best parts of working as a teacher is that I get holidays sprinkled throughout the year. And with DH teaching too, we both get the same holidays – bonus!  Last holidays we didn’t get away to do anything, so it was lovely to escape for a break away from home this time. Nevertheless it’s been a busy two weeks. Here’s some of what we got up to.

And lots of knitting of course!

So, back to reality and the classroom tomorrow. Marking, planning, teaching, open nights, grades to enter on the computer, books to read, poems to study, research to do. It will be another busy term!

FO: Blackrose Socks

It seems like forever since I’ve knit myself a pair of socks. Probably because I have a whole wardrobe of them already and my cosy toes have made me complacent about knitting more. However I cast on for these socks some 3 or so weeks ago, knowing that they would make a good companion knit for my cardigan project.  Seamless adult garments tend to get unweildy rather quickly and since I love to knit in the car, I like to have something suitable for such occassions.  Thus the Blackrose Socks.

I chose this pattern for several reasons – it is free (a Knitty pattern), cute, and easy. A couple of the ladies in my local knitting group have made themselves pairs and enjoyed knitting them, so I thought it would nice to follow suit.  And it was – this is a lovely pattern to knit. It has four sizes to chose from, and I knit the second size (64 stitch) size which is a good fit. I matched them with this dramatic dark blue semisolid yarn which really brings out the lace pattern.  The yarn is Patyonyle sock yarn that I recieved in the latest Naki yarn swap, hand dyed by my lovely friend. She had hand wound it, and there it sat, hopefully awaiting being knit up, helpfully ready for the occasion. And thus it was chosen. 

The socks have an offset lace panel, and there is a companion pattern for wristlets which features the same panel. I have 35 grams of yarn left after knitting the socks, so I might whip up a pair sometime. Although there never is a better time than when the weather is cold.

I’m back off to work next week, and I thought that these would make good sensible socks to wear underneath work trousers. I’m wearing them today but you really can’t see them under my gorgeous new Doc Marten boots.

 

Summary:
Pattern: Blackrose Socks – a free pattern from Knitty.com

Yarn: Hand dyed Patonyle Sock Yarn (80%wool, 20% nylon) 65g

Time Taken: 3 weeks off and on in the car and when I felt like it

Difficulty: Not the easiest lace pattern in the world to memorise – I was actually still relying on reading the pattern rows off the pattern when I finished knitting.  These are top down socks so you’ll need to be able to graft the toes, but other than that it’s a very simple lace pattern with yo’s, ssk, k2togs and so on.  I love the way this really pops when you wear the socks though  – simple but dramatic.

Would I knit this pattern again? Yes, definitely – always a good recommendation.

Cosy Cushions

Sometimes you get a gift so good you just have to have more. I got a gift like that for my birthday from my sister.  A gorgeous appliqued cushion cover made from a recycled blanket and quiliting fabrics. Look!

Our cushions were desperately in need of updating, and I asked my sister if she minded me copying her idea. She enabled me (good girl!) by giving me her leftover ‘trunk’ fabric. I wanted to use up some scraps for the ‘leaves’, and I was able to use fabric scraps of Amy Butler I’d been saving for an occasion like this, and some from some Sandi Henderson fabric as well. In fact if you’ve been reading my blog for a while they will likely be rather familiar. 

In fact it wasn’t just the applique fabrics that came from stash – everything from the thread and interfacing through to the woollen blanket came from stash. The cushion my sister gave me closes with a zip, however, I didn’t have any of these stashed. And of course I soooo love sewing in zips too.  Or not! I do have a snap press, and a massive stash of snaps, so I made envelope backs with snap closures.

Because they are made from woollen blankets, these are seriously cosy cushions. They seem to attract children…

The only potential problem is that that my son appears to have left one upside down on the sofa. I think I’ll become one of those people who have to straighten the cushions before I got to bed.


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