Life With Yarn

Archive for the ‘knitting’ Category

On the needles

It’s all about little projects or spending time on the Shipwreck shawl at the moment as we’re going away in a couple of weeks and I don’t want to start anything big or take something too big away with me. In that vein, I cast on some DK weight socks last night in some Mirasol Hacho that has been sat in my stash for far too long. I’m just working a plain toe up sock until I run out of yarn – I might add a stitch pattern to the leg but it depends on my mood when I get to that bit.

Off the needles

I have quite a lot of pictures this time of things I’ve been working on since my last post.

First up is my Flare jumper, designed by the very talented Veera Valimaki and knit in Posh Yarn Natasha sock which is a camel/silk blend that is so soft and so luxurious that I just love wearing this. This was my unofficial Ravellenics project – unofficial because I didn’t cast on until a week into the Games. I did, however, finish it in under 16 days so I’m pretty proud of that achievement.

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I also finished another top for me which is the Watershed cardigan, designed by Amy Swenson and knit in more Posh Yarn, this time Caitlin Aran. This was a quick knit that I plan to take on holiday to wear over dresses and strappy tops in the evening. The only modification I made to the pattern was changing the way the decrease was worked and adding the sleeves.

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I also got two pairs of socks off the needles – my Circle socks in Zitron Trekking XXL and the Juugatsu socks in Ring-a-Rosie Handpainted yarn. This year is definitely turning into a year of socks and tops.

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But it wasn’t all knitting for me, I also finished this top for Zoe which is Kismet and I knit it in Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply (the black stripes) and Artisan Telfi (the pink stripes). She loves it.

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It just fell into my bag

There’s not actually much to show this time. I got a couple of club yarns in the post, which I haven’t managed to photograph yet, and the other yarn I’ve ordered has yet to arrive. I did buy a couple of project bags from AmeliaXJoy on Etsy which are beautiful and a good size for a pair of socks in progress. I also bought some wooden stitch markers from here, which are beautiful and there were two packs of free wooden buttons included in the order as well both of which are lovely and I look forward to finding the perfect garment to put them on.

I have also been buying a few non-knitting-related things, including some cook books by Nigel Slater and Mary Berry as well as some fiction.

Where’s my bookmark?

I’ve read some good books recently, including Caleb Carr’s The Alienist which I loved. Right now, I’m reading Helen Dunmore’s Your Blue-eyed Boy and I’m not entirely convinced I’m going to finish it. I picked it up because I remember reading a passage of Dunmore’s writing when I did my English A-level (which feels like a lifetime and a half ago now) and liking it so the name stuck (along with Bruce Chatwin, although I’ve yet to read anything by him either). However, I’m finding the story a little slow and I do tend to have the attitude these days that I have so many books I really want to read that I won’t waste a lot of time reading one that I’m a bit meh about.

What I’m watching

As well as my usual knitting podcasts, my husband and I have downloaded The Wire box set and are steadily working our way through season one right now. We’re also enjoying the new season of The Walking Dead and The Musketeers which is showing on the BBC right now. I do love my American dramas though so I’m also currently addicted to The Following and Bones. We very rarely watch TV live any more – we are far more likely to record it and watch it later on which means we’re usually at least an episode behind everyone else!

Family life

We’re currently preparing for our trip to South Africa next month to stay with the in-laws for 2 weeks. I’m really looking forward to a few days in Cape Town and hopefully getting the chance to go to Robben Island as well as taking the girls up Table Mountain. I’m also looking forward to some warmer weather as the strong winds we’ve been experiencing this last week are draining. And of course, I’m already plotting which projects I’ll be taking away with me – I have at least 3 pairs of socks planned and probably a shawl as well. I always end up taking too much with me but I’d rather have too much knitting than suddenly run out before our long flights home!

 

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I’ve been really busy the last month but it’s nothing I can show here which does not make interesting blogging. I finished Anniken’s baby shawl and have only today posted a lace shawl to her as well. I also completed the jumper for Anna by the end of January. All three have provided a challenge for me in some small way and it got me thinking about how sample knitting has helped my knitting generally.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve found the idea of sample knitting more and more desirable. I work from home which means I have the time to do it and I’m a fairly quick knitter which definitely helps with tight deadlines but I had no idea how to really get into it. I started by test knitting on Ravelry; there are forums there purely to get designers and willing test knitters together and I started here by offering to test knit patterns that I liked or had the yarn for. It meant that I could use up some yarn and try a new pattern before others. I’ve since used these same forums to find test knitters for my own designs and have, so far, had a really good experience as both tester and designer.

I started working for Anniken last year when she tweeted that she was looking for sample knitters. Anniken Allis is one my favourite designers – her lace shawls are beautiful and I have loved knitting them so when she asked for sample knitters I jumped at the chance. What’s not to like here? I knit a design I know I’ll like in a yarn I might not have tried before and I get paid to do it.

Of course, it’s not always as straightforward as that. The pattern, whilst looking great, is unedited and may have mistakes which require clarification. I can’t just rely on what I think the designer might be trying to do, I need the designer to tell me that just so I don’t spend hours knitting something that is wrong.

When I do knit, it has to be perfect as well. With my own things, I will often let a wrong stitch remain if it doesn’t affect the overall look. In lace, this is less likely because mistakes in lace show a lot more readily but if I’m decreasing on a sweater and do a right leaning increase instead of a left leaning increase then on my own sweater, I’ll let it go. If it’s a sample, then I have to correct it, either by ripping back to the mistake or dropping the stitch down a couple of rows and pulling it back up the correct way. Sample knitting has taught me a lot about fixing mistakes!

I love sample knitting but it does take me away from my own stash and, to be honest, I’m unlikely to get rich quickly, or at all, by doing it. But the experience it has given me and the way it has improved my own knitting has definitely been worth it. These are just some of the samples that I’ve knit and it’s quite satisfying to see them online and in magazines and know that I knit it: Marazion, Sam Cable Scarf

On the needles

But it’s not all been sample knitting, I’ve managed to get a few other things cast on as well. I currently have two pairs of socks on the needles: Circle socks by Anne Campbell in Zitron Treking XXL. I love the colour of this, it’s like a dark, muted rainbow and my pictures just don’t do it justice. I finished the first sock about 2 weeks ago but have been too distracted by other things to get the second one cast on. I used the OMG Heel by Megan Williams for the first time which I really liked and fits nicely.

The second pair of socks are Juugatsu by Claudia Eisenkolb in Ring-a-Rosie Handpainted yarn, which I’m knitting as part of a Ring-a-Rosie sock yarn knit a long. I’ve only done about half of the cabling detail on the first leg but I know once I get back into them, they’ll fly. I plan on trying the Fish Lips Kiss heel on these socks, which I’ve seen being raved about on many blogs and podcasts.

I also cast on and am almost done with the Kismet top by Sara Gresbach for Zoe. This is being worked in some pink Artisan Yarns Telfi and two black yarns – Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply and Violet Green Supersock. The pink has been sitting in my stash since Woolfest in June 2012 and I am just never going to make something that colour for me, but Zoe of course loves it so I found a few patterns and she chose Kismet and chose to pair it with black stripes. I’ve ended up using two different yarns for the black stripes simply because I had less of the Rialto 4ply than I thought and needed some extra to complete the last couple of stripes.

I still have the Shipwreck shawl on the needles – I’m now into the second skein and slowly loading it with beads before knitting. It’s slow going so it’s spending a lot of time just sat there. I also have my sock yarn blanket which is being slowly worked on. I’d still really like to have that for next winter and I think 2 squares a day should do that. Of course, I’m currently behind but I’m doing 3/4 squares a day to make it up, so fingers crossed.

Off the needles

I finished both the socks and mitts I mentioned in my last blog post. First up, the lavender socks and also the Tideland mitts which Rebecca was very pleased with.

It just fell into my bag

I’ve bought a lot of yarn recently, but have been a bit slack in getting the photos taken. I bought lots of sock yarn, including Lorna’s Laces Solemate and some new colourways of Zauberball which I love for socks. I was also lucky enough to get a gift certificate for Fibernymph Dye Works for my birthday last month and I’ll getting some self striping sock yarn from there next month at some point.

I also finally caved and bought some interchangeable needles after casting on two projects and discovering the circular needles were too long. So I bought some HiyaHiya sharps interchangeables in the small needles sizes (2.75mm – 5mm) and so far, I’m really pleased with them.

Hopefully with the sample knitting done for now, I can come back sooner with pics of lots of lovely new things for me!

 

A selection of some of the things I’ve been working on over Christmas and since then. I need to photo some more things but the weather has not been kind for a few outdoor shots. What we have here is the Elsie cardigan designed by Ashley Knowlton in Fyberspates lace:

Elsie Cardigan

These are some fair isle mitts I was paid to knit for a designer planning a sale before Christmas. Fair isle in the round is not my strongest technique but these turned out very well, I think:

fair isle mitts

This is the top I knit for my nephew for Christmas:

noah's top

These two, the beanie and mitts, I made for one of my sisters, who loves owls. I already have an idea of what to make her for next Christmas:

owl beanie

owl mitts

These are Pirate socks designed by Jeannie Cartmel (whose sock designs I love), made for my lovely husband:

pirates socks

And finally another shawl, knit between Christmas and New Year, Trinity designed by Anniken Allis:

trinity shawl

At the moment I have 3 designs on the go: a shawl which I’ve submitted to a magazine, the pattern for which is almost written; a bag which I’ve knit up but am not happy with my sample so I’m changing the pattern a little, that has also been submitted to a magazine; and finally a cardigan which I’m currently doing the math for so I can write up the pattern and try it out myself before getting it test knit. It’s been a busy couple of months here, as well as the usual mum stuff I have going on, my other work (audio transcription) has been busier than last year so I’ve been spending most of my time on that but that does at least mean I’ll have money to splurge at Woolfest in June.

Where did the time go? One moment I was thinking about Christmas and the next, we were throwing out the wrapping paper and recycling the boxes. On the plus side, I finished my present knitting with a week to go so there was no last-minute Christmas Eve frantic knitting as with previous years. Instead I spent Christmas and the early part of this year working on a lovely laceweight cardigan designed by the very talented Ashley Knowlton. It is beautiful and will look great with spring and summer dressed – assuming we get a summer of course!

I’ve also been working on some designs including a shawl that I hope to release in the next couple of months. I’m currently knitting a bag and doodling around with a cardigan idea and a jumper for next winter.

As for resolutions; well, I’d like to be a lot better at updating this blog for a start but crafty related, I’d of course love to have some/a pattern published and I’d also like to learn to spin after a very kind person on Ravelry gifted me a drop spindle and some fleece. I also really want to start to dye more yarn myself – I dyed the yarn for my sister’s cardigan and enjoyed it so would definitely like to do some more.

So that’s me. I hope you had a lovely end of 2012 and that 2013 brings you plenty of happiness.

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The nights are drawing in and the wind is blowing, which makes it perfect knitting weather. I’m not sure, being in the UK, if there is ever not perfect knitting weather – certainly our summers don’t get so hot that I can’t knit – but the change in the air definitely means autumn is settling in and winter will not be long in arriving. We’re now past the start of term, routines are established in the house again and things are calm – my daughters’ birthdays are both gone and we’re not quite at the hustle and bustle of the start of Christmas, although it’s definitely on my mind right now.

And, as always, the needles have been clicking madly. I’ve worked on a couple of commissions:

and have another pair of booties to finish up over the weekend. I’ve also been working on finishing a shawl for myself and some Christmas gifts. I also still have pattern writing and a couple of swatches to work through in the next couple of weeks for a magazine submission. There definitely doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day! I totally admire full-time designers – I love the design process but when it comes to actually typing the pattern up, I am not nearly disciplined enough and easily distracted. I do wonder though, if they have to just knit for themselves or friends/family? I keep living in hope that once the youngest starts at preschool next September, and school the year after (eek!), if that will mean I can get more stuff done. I’d like to think so but somehow, I doubt it!

I love September. It’s so much more the start of new things, for me, than January 1st ever will be. There’s that back to school feeling and a need to buy stationery – which I’ve so far resisted but only because I am so busy right now that wandering aimlessly round Paperchase going ‘Oh, pretty, must have’ is a disappointingly low priority right now.

But it is a new term, a new start and my eldest has gone back to school and celebrated her 6th birthday in the last week. Now her birthday is out of the way, I can officially starting thinking about Christmas. I know I’ve said in at least my last 2 posts that I’m starting the Christmas knitting but, to be honest, I’ve failed miserably at starting it. I made one quick gift a couple of months ago and I have (finally) finished this:

It’s a Christmas stocking for my youngest. My mum made me and my siblings one when we were little and so I’ve taken my stocking and written a pattern from it (she made it up as she went) and added a new picture to it. This is the one pattern I currently have for sale of Ravelry as well. So now both girls have stockings for Father Christmas to fill with goodies in December.

So the intention to start the gift knitting has definitely been there – I’ve balled up the yarn for my sister’s cardigan and I’ve cast on and knit one leg of a giraffe toy for the youngest (my first ever attempt at toy knitting as well). But then things went a bit out the window. I’ve completed a couple of baby shoe commissions, have a 3rd lined up and am also halfway through a pair of baffies/slippers for another friend and probably have a couple of baby blankets to do as well. This is just as I was beginning to think that the commission knitting was maybe something I’d do later and I was going to focus on some new designs first. I have a pair of gloves designed and knitted, just need to write that pattern up and see about getting it tested. I also need to consider whether to add the baby blanket pattern that I made for my nephew. I want to but there’s a couple of kinks in it – not least being I knit mine in discontinued yarn so I need to see how it would turn out in other yarns. At some point I also want to revisit the skirt that I made for my eldest and see if I can make a couple of changes to it to improve it.

In the meantime, I shall enjoy the last whirl of summer before the autumnal weather arrives.

So the Ravellenics are over and how did I do? I listed 5 projects to complete over the 16 days – 2 shawls, dye some yarn, frog a cardigan and complete a work in progress. I think we can call it a 50% success rate. I completed one shawl, the lovely Monica by the Fickleknitter

I also managed to frog a cardigan I made last summer – the pattern is lovely but the yarn is, I feel, too thick (DK instead of 4ply) and jjust not suited to the pattern. I intend to reknit the pattern in a lighter yarn at some point, although I have no idea what I’ll do with the reclaimed yarn yet.

I dyed the yarn for my sister’s Christmas present. This was lots of fun, I really enjoyed doing it and will definitely be dyeing more of my own yarn for my use. I dyed 5 skeins in total – the first 2 I did in the same pot because I thought there’d be enough room but unfortunately, there wasn’t and so the yarn has some undyed patches on it:

It’s all a learning curve, right? Anyway, I have some nice blue or purple dye to overdye it with at some point which I’ll then use for socks. So after that, I tried again with 3 more skeins, separately this time and these are the results:

Much better and my sister likes the colour so I need to get started on knitting with it in the next month.

The wip was picked up again and since the end of the games, I’ve worked on it some more. It remains unfinished but it is out and being slowly worked on, so it wasn’t a total washout. It needs to be finished by December 24th this year – whilst Eloise was only 16mths last year and not really into Christmas, at 28mths this year, I think she will be and as she likes having everything the same as her big sister, the stocking needs to be finished. The final shawl I planned to knit was completed after the games ended and looks fab:

This was my first time adding beads using a crochet hook (as demonstrated by the talented YarnAddict at Woolfest this year). It was so straightforward, no more hours of threading beads onto yarn for me any more!

I’ve also had a week away this month in Windermere with my husband and two girls. The weather wasn’t great all the time but we had a few lovely days out dodging the showers. Whilst there, I worked on 3 different projects: another shawl (which I would have finished but I ran out of yarn just before the end. Luckily I seem to have tracked down some more so it should be finished next month); a scarf for me for winter in a lovely orange/yellow colour – perfect for brightening up those long winter days; and my sock yarn blanket which is a continual WIP and perfect car knitting.

I also heard back about my submitted design to the magazine. It wasn’t chosen this time, but it was my first time ever doing a submission so I’m not too upset about that. I have since reworked it slightly and am currently halfway through test knitting it myself. Hopefully I can complete that next week when school & my childminder restart and get the pattern up soon after.

In the meantime, I have a couple of new ideas swirling round my head, partially inspired by our holiday in the Lakes, and I have a large amount of knitting to do for Christmas gifts. Somehow, I have yet again failed to be more organised and start earlier. Expect sore hands and not much sleep by mid December.