Life With Yarn

Archive for November 2013

On the needles

I’m getting to the end of my Austin Hoodie – just a few more increases on the hood before the short rows and grafting. It’ll need another block before it’s finished properly, but it is looking good. I’ve made some intentional mods – I haven’t done the ribbed cuff but instead did the woven stitch on the cuff which I really like. There are also unintentional mods where I thought the pattern meant one thing but actually it didn’t – so on the back ribbing section, I’ve done the garter stitch edging around the armholes because the pattern started by saying to do that one one side but not the other, so I at least made them even but I’m not sure it was really necessary. 

I also cast on a new project this week – the Shipwreck Shawl by Knitting Harpy. This has been in my Ravelry queue for a long time and after finishing my Mandala back in October, and tracking down the perfect yarn (at Woolfest) and beads, I am now ready to start it. I’m not planning on this being a quick knit. The first bit is – I’m into section 5 of 7 which sounds impressive but I’ve really only done 28 rounds so far and the final section is massive. But the final section also involves stringing beads onto yarn (will probably take a couple of days at least) and endless knit 2 together, yarn over to create the netting – this isn’t tricky but I know it will be mind numbing.

Off the needles

First up, something I finished a couple of weeks ago now – my Aniron

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This is a not great pic, but it is a pic of me in the top. I really love how it’s turned out and will be wearing it a fair bit I imagine.

This week I also finished knitting my Foundling Mitts by Julia Temiseva:

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These are fab, I’ve been wearing them loads already – for early morning typing, driving, etc. Actually, this blog has meant they were completely finished straight away – the knitting was easy enough but the bottom of the cuffs are buttoned and the button fastening calls for a crocheted loop. I don’t do crochet – I can just about manage a basic chain but the last time I had to crochet on an edge was for a dress I made for Zoe – the Beatrice dress. I struggled with the crochet so much that I did one bit and then put it aside and when it picked it up 18 months later it, of course, didn’t fit Zoe at all. I ended up doing a quick garter stitch edging and then sold it. So for me to manage to cast off the mitts, sew on a button and do the crochet chain in one evening is quite an accomplishment. I don’t know why I struggle with crochet so much, it may be that I need to sit down and just get on with learning it but, to be honest, there’s so much that I want to knit, that I really don’t see where the time would come from right now – I’d much rather be knitting. This, by the way, is also why my spinning is so slow – I want to learn how to spin lovely yarn but I also want to knit all the things.

Stalking

I’m still really on a sweater/top/cardigan kick – the Austin hoodie will be my 3rd clothing FO since the start of October. This makes me wonder if I could complete 12 in 12 months. If I continue like this, I could however there is also a good chance that once the warm weather returns, I could well never want to knit another sweater. But, for now, I’m going to try it – I want to make the Tink Tank next but what I really need to do is gift knits for my family. My girls want bed socks and I usually also knit my husband socks. In addition, on the (very long) list Zoe wrote to Santa, she included Barbie clothes, so I thought I could knit a few. I usually knit gifts for others (little things rather than requested jumpers/cardigans, etc) but I don’t think I’ll be doing that this year.

Christmas planning

Christmas is pretty much sneaking up on me, as much as a fixed date that is known can sneak up on someone. I keep thinking it’s ages away and then someone reminds that it’s not – a month today and it’ll be in full swing. We still need to buy lots of gifts, or even just have an idea for some people, so that will be on our to-do list next weekend when payday arrives. Our tree will go up next Sunday – I love spending a couple of hours doing this as a family. We don’t have a co-ordinated tree; our decorations are haphazard, randomly coloured and some are homemade (some by me, some by my girls) and I truly love this. Our first Christmas card arrived as I am writing this so it really isn’t long until I can legitimately put the Christmas cds in the car and play them constantly.

 

On the needles

Shortly after writing my last post, I found out about NaKniSweMo – National Knit a Sweater Month – which works along the same lines as NaNoWriMo – National Write a Novel in a Month – only instead of writing 50,000 words, it involves knitting 50,000 stitches which is an average adult sized sweater. As I needed pushing with my Austin Hoodie by Connie Chang Chinchio, I sat down and worked out the stitch count – approximately 55,000 which definitely qualifies. By moving the deadline to November 30th rather than mid December, I feel rather more inclined to get cracking on it and I’ve gone great guns on it since then. When I posted last time, I had done most of the stocking stitch portion of the body and had briefly paused for a new needle. By Thursday, I had finished the body and the cardigan was blocking (it needs to block before you add the sleeves): 

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Then, over the weekend, I’ve added one sleeve as well and started the short row shaping for the second sleeve. I’m definitely ahead for the month so hopefully this will be back blocking by next week – although I still have the hood to go and judging by the comments on many projects on Ravelry, this could be tricky because it’s not particularly clear or intuitive.

Also on the needles, I cast on the Foundling Mitts by Julia Temiseva which feature in What (Else) Would Madame Defarge Knit? published by Cooperative Press. It’s the first pattern I’ve cast on from the collection and I’m working them in Sublime Yarns Extra Fine Merino DK which is 100% merino wool. These are very quick – I finished the left hand last night and I should be finished the right one within a couple of days. These are going to be very useful over the coming months as when I’m not knitting, I spend a lot of time typing on the laptop, especially early in the morning, and my hands get a little chilly at times.

Off the needles

I finished my Aniron but I’m lacking in photos at the moment because the lighting has not been great and it’s pretty hard to take a photo of yourself wearing a top. It is, however, beautiful, and fits fantastically so I am very happy with it. I do have one photo though from last week’s off the needles – the simple cowl for Duncan’s walk to work:

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It just fell into my bag

I have been excessively good this week and bought nothing – although, to be fair, this is not for lack of trying. I had hoped to pick up some 4ply from Posh Yarns in their Saturday update. However, I was not quick enough and lost out, although this is not heartbreaking because it’s not like I need more yarn, it was just pretty.

So, no purchases, but I have been trying out my two new needles which I bought last week. I used my HiyaHiya sharps for a large portion of the Austin Hoodie and loved them – which definitely surprised me because I’ve struggled with metal needles in the past. I love the tips on these and knitting definitely seemed a little easier with them. For the sleeves, I switched to the Chiagoo circulars instead and whilst I don’t love the tips on these, I do love the join between the needle and the cable and I love the sturdiness of the cable. So if I could find a needle that had that cable and join but was as sharp as the HiyaHiya Sharp, that would definitely be my perfect needle. I think for now, I shall be sticking to the Knit Pro Symphonies for DPNs and long straight needles (should I ever use those again!) and most likely HiyaHiyas for circulars. I’m still not sold on getting interchangeables because of the lack of very small sizes, but we shall see.

On the needles

I’m still working on Aniron, although I’m definitely nearing the end. It’s a lovely pattern and the Louisa Harding’s Grace is knitting up really nicely – so soft and smooth, I’m very much looking forward to wearing it in the coming weeks.

This week, I also cast on the Austin Hoodie cardigan by Connie Chang Chinchio which is a Christmas present for one my sisters. I’m working this is in Yarn Undyed 75% Merino, 25% silk 4ply yarn. This is something I picked up from ebay a couple of months ago with this project in mind. My sister wanted a cream/natural coloured cardigan although there should be at least a skein of this left in my stash afterwards which I shall dye up at some point. It’s a nice yarn, smooth and easy to work with. I’m not massively far into it, still in the seemingly endless stocking stitch section. However, I had to take a break from it for a couple of days because of a needle breaking.

That’s all I’ve been working on this week – 2 large projects which has meant I definitely feel the need for a small project to be cast on soon.

 

Off the needles

I cast on and finished a manly cowl for my husband for the cold mornings. I frogged the black one I cast on last week because working with black yarn in not great lighting is quite tricky plus I had a feeling that it would take quite a while. So instead I used the leftover bulky yarn from the Owls sweater I made last month and whipped up a stocking stitch cowl with ribbed edges in a couple of days. I’m quite happy with this – stash busting and also happy husband has to be a win-win.

 

It just fell in my bag!

I really should stay away from the Posh Yarn update each week, but the colours are just so, so gorgeous that it’s hard to. I have managed to refrain from looking at it until Monday morning so if there’s anything I like left, then it was destined to be mine, clearly (plus the free postage on Monday definitely helps). This way also ensures a slight brightening to Monday mornings – and Wednesdays when it arrives at my house. So this Monday, I bought this:

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This is Olivia Lace in the colourway ‘A breath of wind like a gentle sigh’ and it is (of course) destined to be a laceweight cardigan at some point. If I actually manage to knit everything I’ve bought into everything I’ve planned, then I’m going to be spending a lot of time in laceweight cardigans next spring and summer.

I also picked up a copy of Knitscene Winter 2013 from WHSmiths this week. I don’t tend to buy a lot of knitting magazines and when I do, they are generally American ones. I rarely find anything really appealing in many magazines but especially UK ones. I’d much rather spend ages browsing patterns on Ravelry and seeing how other people have made it so I can get ideas for yarn, colours, modifications, et cetera. I picked up this particular issue because of the interview with Ruth Garcia Alcantud, the feature on tubular cast-ons and the number of sweater and cardigan patterns they have. I haven’t had much chance to do more than flick through yet though so nothing has been added to the (never-ending) queue yet.

The final bit of shopping I did this week was for new needles. As I said, my needle broke whilst working on the Austin Hoodie – the cable came away from the needle on my Knit Pro Symphonie circular which was very disappointing because I have really liked using this needle. When I started knitting again, I didn’t have lots of money or any real knowledge of anything (this was before I discovered Ravelry) and so I bought a cheap selection of bamboo circular needles on Ebay from China. I think I got 15 different sizes but I’ve probably used 6 or 7 at most. Until I knit Owls which calls for a 6.5mm needle, 5mm was the largest needle size I’d ever used. I tend to use the smaller needles for socks and laceweight items. These have lasted remarkably well considering their cheapness. But my now more experienced eyes and fingers can definitely tell the difference between them and the branded needles I’ve since used. 

So when my Knit Pro broke, I began contemplating interchangeable needles and spent a good couple of hours browsing the many different options. But the problem I came up against with pretty much every set was the sizes – most starter sets (pretty much all I can afford right now) include needles towards the larger end of my scale so if I bought one of these sets, I’d also need to buy extra needles to make it worthwhile and few of them go down as small as I use. So I decided that the best thing to do for now was to buy a new fixed circular and I used the opportunity to try something different. In the end I bought a Chiagoo Red and a HiyaHiya Sharp, both from Meadow Yarn who I would highly recommend for their speedy delivery and excellent service.

I admit I was slightly hesitant to buy either of these because I’ve used bamboo and wood for so long and much prefer them. I find the needle tips stickier so the yarn doesn’t go sliding off – very useful when you work with yarns containing silk for example, or you have to keep putting the knitting down to attend to small children. Both new needles are stainless steel but also well recommended, particularly the HiyaHiyas so I took this as a chance to do a bit of market research.

So far I’ve only used the HiyaHiyas and my fears of slippy needles, losing stitches and just generally working with steel needles anyway have been very unfounded. The join is smooth so the work just glides over it and the needle tips are not as slippy as feared – no dropped stitches yet! I also seemed to have picked up speed this week although whether that’s the needles or the desire to get through the stocking stitch section of this cardigan I don’t know.

I shall be trying the Chiagoo needle in the next week when I finish off my Aniron so I’m hoping they will be another good experience. 

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I recently took A Stitch in Time: Heirloom Knitting Skills by Rita Taylor out of the library. It was published earlier this year and is priced at £14.99. I’ve become very interested in the history of knitting recently and was looking for more information about the history of knitting and stitch patterns used.

After the introduction, the book is divided into sections focussing on different types of stitches and provides a little historical introduction to each section. There are also 12 patterns included which use some of the stitches in the book. The 6 sections are: textured stitches, twisted stitches, raised stitches, cable stitches, lace stitches and colourwork. The patterns are both written and charted.

There were some stitch patterns that I really liked and hadn’t really seen anywhere else before. However, some of the stitch patterns were worked in very dark wool – the lace and textured stitches in particular – and this made it a little tricky to get a really good idea for some of the stitches.

Overall, I really liked the history parts of the book but I felt a lot of the stitch patterns could be found elsewhere – such as in Barbara Walker’s books. The exception to these were some of the gansey patterns. I liked that the patterns included ideas for alternative stitch patterns.

I’m not sure I’d buy this brand new but certainly if I saw a 2nd hand copy at a reasonable price, I’d pick it up to add to my knitting library.

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