Wednesday, April 16, 2014

slightly off topic...

I am easily distracted at the best of times, and I definitely like diversity in my knitting projects, and lately it's felt a bit like all-sweaters, all-the-time.

So despite needing to sew up my Peasy, and having a Ferris Wheel to finish...not to mention a Miette on the needles as well, I decided to take a slight detour this weekend and work on some instant-gratification projects.

Firstly, I whipped up not one but THREE of these wee little baby hats.  Knit in the round using aran yarn, they zoomed off the needles and into the blocking bath. I made all three in a 24-hour span.


The pattern is the Garter Ear Flap Hat, a freebie from The Purl Bee, and I used some Rowan Pure Wool Aran (pink) and Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran (grey and teal).


Super cute!  I just need to add the tiny tassels to these and they are ready to go in the gift stash box.  I think I've even got enough leftover from each ball of yarn to make another two to three hats, probably with some colour blocking.  This pattern is definitely a win, in my books - free, quick, small yarn usage, and CUTE!  I think it's turned my baby-knitting mojo back on, for sure.

I also had a delivery of some Murano wool from Bendigo this week, that I bought because it was on special, and I wanted to make a blanket of some description.  I toyed with a mitred square pattern, and a knitted chevron, but in the end I decided to give crochet one more crack and try my hand at the Round Ripple Baby blanket.

And with all the stars miraculously aligning, I managed not to stuff it up!



This is a really simple pattern, and I found the instructions very clear and simple - perfect for those among us that perhaps struggle with crochet terminology, or reading stitches.  I usually always end up with extra chains, or not enough, and I'm never exactly clear about which is the "next stitch" the pattern asks me to slip stitch to!!

The yarn is great for this type of blanket too.  Self-striping in fairly long repeats; it makes impressive work out of something really rather simple.

As far as blankets go, this is also working up very fast.  In two evenings work, I have just finished the second 200g ball, using a 5mm hook.  I was debating whether to stop here, as it's probably big enough for a baby blanket, but I think I'll persevere and use up the third ball I ordered so the finished blankie is nice and snuggly.

shoes for scale...
And the best thing is, now that I have got that instant-gratification out of my system, I feel like I'm ready to knuckle down to seaming and probably a bit of garment knitting. 

What's exciting your needles this extra long weekend?  I'm working at Sunspun tomorrow, then we are shut for Good Friday but will be open 10-5pm Easter Saturday, so pop in if you're in the area?   I had the pleasure of finally meeting missfee last week, after probably 7-8 years of "knowing" each other online (hope your yarn purchases are brining you much happiness, lovely lady!).  I really enjoy meeting more of the people I regularly chat to but have never met in person, and I feel like Sunspun might just end up being the great facilitator...

Hope to see you one of these days soon xx


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Transition

It's raining in Melbourne today.  Not pouring; more drizzle, but constant.  This week past I have really felt the transition of the seasons, and it's felt exciting and fresh.  I am so ready for Autumn; for the mild sunshine and crisp afternoons, the necessity of a light cardigan whenever heading out of the house just in case, and toasty warm hand-knitted socks for snugging on the couch of an evening.

It seems the perfect season for me as I also transition, from full-time, big institution type employment into something more gentle, somewhere I feel I'm a person, not just a small cog within a huge machine.  So far I am loving being surrounded by wool all the working day, talking to people about their projects, their inspirations, and planning - oh, the planning!  Before I can feasibly think of adding more ideas to my list, I need to concentrate on my current ideas, though.  

My Autumn cardigan - Peasy -  is done bar the blocking and buttons.  Once I got onto the body, it zoom-zoomed along and Monday night I found myself casting off.  Most excitingly, it fits really well. 


I have been very gentle with the blocking, as the yarn is Rowan Felted Tweed, and I don't want the alpaca content to grow too much.   I love the pattern - Heidi Kirramaier writes beautiful patterns, but it's the colour that is the most amazing part of this garment. Such a perfect indigo hue.  I can't wait for it to hurry up and dry so I can wear it!

With the completion of Peasy, it was also time to start on my next sweater for my 2014 sweater project.  For Winter, I chose Miette using Cascade 220 Worsted in "Yakima Heather".  I even managed to find buttons in my stash.


I'm hoping that a worsted weight sweater on 5mm needles will go fast, because I'm feeling the need for some smaller projects at the moment!   April feels like the season for beanie knitting, and maybe some socks?  We will see...

On the subject of completing current lists, I've also been making a concentrated effort to finish my second Ferris Wheel cardigan.  This is the larger one, for my 10yo niece.  I used Bendigo Woollen Mills 8ply Cotton which has a beautiful soft touch, but as always, my tension is *crap* when knitting cotton.  I'm hoping a good block will help those tram tracks settle...


It's a lovely soft grey and I've only got the sleeves and the front bands to go now.  I've always loved making things for these girls, but I'll be honest - I don't think I'll ever attempt back-to-back projects of the same pattern again!  

I tried knitting them simultaneously for a while, but as soon as the smaller one was done, I just could not make myself pick up this one straight after. My hands and mind were craving different stitches, different textures.  Luckily this pattern is kind of an all-seasons one, and will be great for layering.  I've given myself an unofficial deadline of Easter to get this finished, because I'd dearly love to give them to them soon.

(and maybe start those socks!!)


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A year of Sweaters by Season: Autumn 2014

In the flurry of finishing show entries, and getting sidetracked by other projects, you might be forgiven for thinking I'd forgotten about my 2014 project - to knit four sweaters in 2014 that reflect upon the seasons in some way.

Not so!

Peasy was the pick for Autumn, using the ever-lovely Rowan Felted Tweed in "Seasalter".



Back on February 1st,  I swatched (I repeat, I SWATCHED!!) and got spot-on gauge using my 3.75mm Addi Turbos but sadly that's where progress lay for another month.

However, as soon as the Red Hill Show entries were done, I turned my complete attention over to this project and it's ticking away nicely.  Not without it's own hiccups, as seems to be my constant knitting woe for 2014, but nonetheless; ticking along.

I've worked the yoke increases and lace panels that, despite being simple and sweet, caused me much angst and cause for doubt.  I do have a habit of over thinking pattern instructions, and this was no exception.  I got stuck for sometime on what the pattern was wanting me to do regarding the yoke increases, until finally I trusted my own judgement and went with my gut.  Thankfully that was the right thing!  I've noticed a few other people have mentioned confusion at this section of the pattern, so that also makes me feel a tad better too.  The lace was just pure mis-reading on my behalf.  I have no explanations anymore as to why I seem to have lost the abilty to read simple lace instructions.  We will just have to accept it as what it is and hope the tide washes over me at some point!

Woes aside, I'm completely enjoying this cardigan and yarn combination.  I think Felted Tweed might just be my favourite sweater yarn, and the "Seasalter" colour is just a delight.  Not as dark as navy, but not so bright as to be considered cobalt - it has a lovely inkiness and depth.  It does remind me of the salty deep blue sea, way out in the open water...I can't wait to snuggle up in the cardigan as the weather starts to cool.

Another thing that is pleasing me about this project is a particular feature of the pattern.  It's certainly not anything revolutionary, and I'm sure 1000 people have done this all off their own back, but I had a lightbulb moment when the pattern reached the division of arms from body, and politely requested that I knit THE SLEEVES FIRST.  The sleeves first!  Of course, why did I never think of that before?!



No-one (that I know of, anyways) likes finally getting to the end of the body of a top-down cardigan after all that slog (usually in stocking stitch), only to then have to face knitting not one but TWO sleeves before calling the project done.

I do believe I will make all the cardigan and jumpers this way, for evermore.

And as it turns out, it's lucky I'm such a Rowan fan, because I am very pleased to announce that I am now the newest staff member of Sunspun!  I'm so happy to be joining this incredibly awesome team of talented women, and to be back working in an inspiring, creative environment.  

If you've been following the Sunspun blog recently, you will have seen that we are in the process of some renovations, some refreshing of stock, and lots more exciting plans.  If you're in the area, do come and check it out - I'd love to see you and hear what you all think!


**edited to add**

Oh, I forgot - I had a good result from the Red Hill Show too!

A first, a second, and two thirds.  4 society ribbons and $5 prize money for the First.



Well pleased with that.  The $5 became yummy chocolate for my fella & I; the society ribbons are in the Box of Special things.  I resisted pinning them to my shirt.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

and then it was done

ahh, in my traditional fashion the completion of my Show entries was a chaotic, frenzied, mad-dash!

After staying up till after 11pm putting final touches on pieces, I ran out of work this afternoon and made it to the Pavillion with 8 mins to spare.

That said; I'm very happy with my 2014 submissions.

A babie's garment (under 18mths)...


Baby booties...



An adult garment...



A tea cosy...



and an "Other"...



There seems to be a prevalence of "pink" in this year's entries too.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lucille

This week has been all about sorting out my Red Hill Show entries.  I've sorted out my frustrations of a couple of weeks ago, wrote my list (oh, I love a list!) and I'm now feeling much more in control of the situation.

Follow your Arrow will be one entry, as well as a couple of other pieces from late last year.  
Projects knitted specifically for the 2014 Show will be a baby cardigan, a tea cosy, and a pair of baby booties

After the disappointment of my previous baby cardigan knitting, I have already had much better luck with this project.

The pattern is Lucille, from Kelbourne Woolens and I'm using some Berocco Ultra Fine Alpaca in the colour "Turquoise Mix ".

The beautiful alpaca yarn and it's rich colour are perfect for this wee vintage-insipred pattern.  I love strong colours on babies, and this particular shade is so pretty.  It's probably a little more vibrant in real life, but it's hard to capture on camera. 



Originally I cast on using bamboo dpn needles, as they were the only 2.5mm's I had at hand. My thoughts were as the stitches increase, I'd just add another dpn.  Easy, like the old-school style you see in charming European photos.

Ha!

Seriously, do I not know myself by now??  By the time I got to 200+ stitches and 5 needles, I was done with that foolish notion.  It was SO cumbersome; I kept losing stitches off the ends, and my tension around the needle transition was terrible. Plus I was about to start the lace. I could my future, and there were tears.

I hunted through my needle stash and found some circulars in the required size and now we are all much happier.

The lace is absolutely lovely in this pattern. A little more geometric than floral, it's lacy but not too lacy. Pretty without being prissy.  I think I've rediscovered my baby-knitting love, and the key is definitely vintage or vintage-inspired.


I've only got one skein of yarn, so there might be a bit of yarn-chicken happening on the sleeves, but I have my fingers crossed. If the worst happens and there's not enough yarn for full length sleeves, I still think it's rather sweet with short sleeves anyway.   

I'm a little sad not to be able to complete the matching bonnet though.  I do love a sweet bonnet!


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

follow that arrow

Ysolda's Mystery, Choose-your-own-adventure, KAL - follow your arrow - has come to a conclusion...


This has been a wonderful experience, overall.  I loved working towards a new clue each week far more than I expected to, and the small thrill of not really knowing what you were knitting was a different kind of buzz.  I guess it was also partly the motivation!  Although, for anyone who's knitted a bit of lace, the charts from Clue 2 onwards did give away the basic shape to a degree.

The lace was really quite simple and relatively easy to memorise, but the construction and some techniques did give enough challenge to keep you interested.  More than once the lace lulled me into a false sense of security and I was forced to rip back!


I'm pleased with the performance of the Bendigo Woollen Mill Luxury 4ply, too.  It's blocked out very soft, and there is no sign of pilling or fuzzing sometimes found with the 10ply of the same yarn.  I think if I were to knit this pattern again though, I'd either use a larger needle (I used a 3.75mm) or laceweight yarn and get that real lightness in the fabric that makes lace "lace".


I'd also like to give the cast-off edge a light steam press still, just to flatten out the slight rolling the stretchy bind-off method has created.  I'm not sure how to get around that edge roll another way?

Obviously, the very nature of the optional clues each release meant lots of combinations and interpretations, but with nearly 3,500 projects listed on Ravelry, there are so many interesting versions; it's well worth taking a look or checking out #followyourarrow on Instagram.

 Ysolda's patterns are always a bit of a treat, especially those that explore her use of texture, and I really am very happy with my version.  I'm so pleased I took part in the KAL - well worth it and would totally recommend it if another opportunity arose!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

frustrations

It's been one of those weeks unfortunately, where I can't seem to take a trick with my projects...

Firstly, with the thought of entry deadlines looming, I cast on a wee baby cardigan for one of my Red Hill Show entries.  In an effort to be thrifty I grabbed some stash wool, but it was truly a bad, bad choice of yarn for this gauge and project.


The wool is some Spotlight 4ply that I picked up on a whim because it was on sale, but the old adage of "you get what you pay for" has never rung truer.  It's labelled as pure new wool but reality is; it's cheap, and scratchy, and I had a terrible time getting consistent tension with it.  Not really desirable qualities for a Show entry.


Then,  I began the 5th clue on my Follow your Arrow shawl only to discover something had gone awry with the 4th clue.


 Try as I might, I could NOT work it out, and I ended up ripping it back all the way to the end of the 3rd clue. 

I'm incredibly frustrated with myself regarding these two projects. I knew that it was a risky yarn choice by the time I got through the border lace, so why did I persevere? Why??  The shawl pattern is by no means difficult but it does seem to require an unexpected level of concentration, and I dropped the ball on that front.   I think partially because I was so focused on finishing each clue before the next was released? 


So with this in mind, and a deep breath, I put the baby cardigan in the op-shop pile, and re-started clue #4 on the shawl.  The silver lining was I got to do the alternate clue (4B) to what I had originally chosen (4A).  After seeing finished shawls on the Ravelry group board, I really preferred the other clue but I’d already finished most of 4A and didn’t want to rip it back. 

Ahem.  The Universe sending me a message or something??

I can see that I need to step back and try to find my way back to the enjoyment the process of creating gives me.  I'm too caught up with finishing, meeting deadlines and worrying about the list ahead to breathe and enjoy the present.  It's a direct reflection of other areas of my life at the moment, but I don't think I fully recognised this until I sat down to work out the woes plaguing these two current projects.

With all this in mind, my new focus is looking forward (but not too far forward).  I’m going to take it a step at a time, starting with these three goals:
  • Finish Follow your Arrow by Feb 21st, to be in the running for the prizes on the Ravelry group!
  • Get Peasy on the needles
  • Write a firm but small list of entries for the Red Hill Show and get started one at a time (entry forms are due March 7th, articles due by the 19th).  Follow your Arrow will be one entry – double dipping for the win!