Sunday, November 23, 2014

Woodland Hoodlet

Right in time for the hot weather, I've finished Lily's Woodland Hoodlet.


I felt overheated just watching her wear it while we got photos today.

Made in Rowan Big Wool, and covered in cables and bobbles - this really is a season-specific knit (and this ain't the season in my neck of the woods).  My kid has the patience of a saint when it comes to photographs and knitwear, I gotta say.

The pattern, for those who missed my first post, is from Tiny Owl Knits' lovely book - "Woodland Knits".  It's called Woodland Hoodlet, and for possibly the first time ever, I knit in the specified wool and the pictured colourway.  Unheard of, but that was her request and who am I to argue?

I had no issues with the pattern, once I *cough* realised my own errors and I will concede the big needles/bulky wool did knit up quickly.

That said, this pattern is a fair way off what I usually gravitate towards, and as a result I think really cemented a few things in my knitting brain whilst working on this piece.

#1 I definitely prefer smaller gauge projects over bulky knits.  Wrangling the bulky wool on 10mm needles was, in short; hideous.  My tension got shot to pieces as a result and overall I wouldn't say I'm greatly pleased with the finished look of the fabric.  I also have concerns about the way it's going to wear as it feels quite loose for the soft, loosely plied yarn...


#2 I don't hate cables as much as I remembered (but on bulky wool/needles, I still hate. Oh, how I hate).  I think there may be (small) cables in my near future

#3 There is nothing like making something for the one you love the most 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Taking time

I'm really enjoying Daylight Savings at the moment.  Being able to take photos after getting home from work, for example.  Or not having to make sure the washing is in off the line before the 4pm chill starts to make it damp.  Dinners have been later, which has meant there has been a little more time for unwinding between work and night time routines.  I like that, that sense of taking time to transition from one role to the other with a bit of "me-time".

The bonus of this small shift is that productivity has been high on a few projects since I last posted.

I've finished the back of my Fieldwork Cardigan and am about to cast on the fronts which, being shaped in a deep V, really shouldn't take long at all.  Which is good, seeings my fellow-KALer Jules has already finished hers!


I also worked on something Lily's been after me to make her for some time - the Woodland Hoodlet from tinyowlknits' book "Woodland Knits". 


It wasn't the most pleasant thing to knit as first, being made of Rowan Big Wool using 10mm needles and incorporating short rows, cables and bobbles.  I will admit there was a fair bit of griping actually.  Then I decided to suck it up and just make work with it, mindful that it was for my girl and she rarely asks for me to knit anything for her.  This is something to be excited about, not whined over.  

Once I made peace with that thought, the hoodlet has been a lot more enjoyable to work on.  I've finished the main piece and just need to grab a 60cm cable for my interchangeable needles so I can work on the hood section this weekend and hopefully finish it for her by Sunday.  One good thing about super-bulky wool on 10mm needles is that it does knit up quickly! 

Then on a whim, I started Mum's Christmas present. (8 weeks to go, just saying...)



Aranami by olgajazzy, using Isager Bomulin (75% cotton/25% linen).

I've been thinking about making this pattern for a while.  The appeal lay in the knitting process though, not the finished piece which I knew I'd be unlikely to wear.  Mum will love it though, and a handknit for Christmas in Australia usually isn't something that really works. Cotton/linen blends for the win!

My mum is precious highly sensitive about wool, and even the softest of laceweight 50/50 merino/silk sends her into the itches. So when I once again was mulling over the idea of making Aranami, and this yarn called out to me in just the right colours, I knew I'd found the perfect recipient.  The Bomulin is quite beautifu to work with, especially as I'm not usually a plant-fibre knitter.  It is quite springy, has a lovely drape, even pre-blocking.  Modular garter stitch probably helps it's cause too, I suspect.

and zero Itches!

after looking at the Aranami photos more closely, I realised I've actually made a huge boo-boo on the order of the modular pieces, and had to rip it back to the natural-coloured section - wahhh!!!!  I managed to get it back to the green tonight, but not in time for photos.  Next time...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Paintbox

It seems that a heap of people I know are currently taking part in #operationsockdrawer on Instagram, and it's made me take stock of the current status of my own sock supply.

I sorted out my favourites, the ones in high wardrobe-rotation, and then did a good cull of those I no longer wear (for varying reasons; too big, too old, wrong colours).  I was left with about 5 pairs of socks which obviously is not nearly enough, so I went through my sock yarn stash and it seemed there was also a serious shortage of good sock yarn! 


That wasn't hard to rectify (ahem) and now the coffers are well and truly replenished,  I was able to select with delight a super-bright skein of Colinette Jitterbug in the "Paintbox" colourway and cast on.


I posted a progress photo of these socks on Instagram recently, with the caption "Nothing even remotely tasteful about these socks. Or subtle. I love them"  

And I still do.

They are just complete *fun*, and the pops of all the 1980's highlighter colours were a joy to knit.

I deviated from my normal 64st vanilla sock pattern for these, instead using the Madder socks from Nancy Bush's excellent book "Knitting Vintage Socks".  I really do love this book, with all the wealth of information and history contained within it's pages, but to date I have possibly read it more than I have knitted from it.

The Madder pattern uses a Dutch or Horseshoe Heel and a Pointed Toe, so I thought it was a good opportunity to try something different and see if I liked it.

The upshot was I didn't.  Well, I didn't like all of it.

The Dutch heel is, as the alternate description implies, quite horseshoe shaped which I found too boxy for my heel.  It also pooches a bit, despite blocking.  Add to this the fact that the heel flap is knit in stocking stitch rather than a slip stitch, and overall; it's a heel that I don't like and don't think is going to wear particularly well. 


I've done Pointed toes just recently and again, they aren't my favourite, so rather than add a non-favourite toe to a non-favourite heel I decided to go with my usual decrease-either-side front-and-back method.  It fits my stubby little toes rather well.


I find Jitterbug a really "plump" sock yarn, does anyone else think this?  I usually get a result somewhere between a fingering weight and a sport weight when I knit it on 2.5mm needles, so the Madder pattern (60sts) was probably a bit big too, not helping it's cause.

If I go down a needle size I don't like the fabric though - too stiff.  I think next pair I might try a 54-56st, see if I get a snugger fit.  As I said though - these are destined for house socks so the roominess doesn't really matter.  I probably should have worked the leg and foot in the suggested rib, if we're being honest.

It's always good to try something new though, and with my mods and different gauge, it's probably best to take this review of Madder socks with a grain of salt!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Fieldwork

So I bet some of you were thinking I might have forgotten all about my Year of Sweaters by Season project, eh?

But no!  It is true, I did detour slightly there for a little while with Beeline and Nightingale and various other small projects but the project is back on the forefront and with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

The Fieldwork Cardigan from Pompom was slated for Spring and I'm still very happy with that decision.
pompomquarterly, fieldwork, cardigan, spring

I'm using Berocco Ultra Alpaca Light which is a fingering weight blend of wool, alpaca and nylon. I'm halfway through the back and at the midway point, I felt the strong need to see how the lace would block out so I threw it in to soak and blocked it out while still on the needles.  So far it's holding the lace pattern beautifully. 

pompomquarterly, fieldwork, cardigan, spring

I've made a small modification on the pattern, working both sides of the back all in one rather than in the two pieces as the instructions direct.  The pattern is slightly directional, but not enough to worry me by working it this way.  There was something bugging me about having a big old seam down the centre back.  Other people have also made mods so the sleeve seams that run along the top are eliminated, however for some reason they don't bother me as much as the back?  I may live to regret that, but time will tell...

pompomquarterly, fieldwork, cardigan, spring

The beautiful thing about this project is that it has organically become a KAL with Jules from woollenflower, too.  We've even picked (quite by chance) similar colours!  Knitting along with others is always fun in my opinion. 

Stay tuned for our progress :)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Nightingale

knitting vest isager amimono ravelry


I've been steadily working away since last post and this week I have managed to finish another WIP - my Nightingale Vest.

The pattern is from Helga Isager's Bird Collection book, which is truly a beautiful, stylish collection of knitwear.  Aesthetically, there are so many designs within that I would love to make.

isager vest knitting danish nightingale


I love the fit of this vest, and the detailing on the back (twisted stitch rib so the knit stitches form a beautiful spine sequence across the back) contrasts the feminine, almost frilly bell stitch pattern of the front in a very flattering, pleasing way.

I used Isager Highland in Ocean, held together with Isager Alpaca 1, which formed a plump 4ply/light sportweight yarn.  This is the suggested yarn combination for the pattern, and it's worked well in giving a slight halo to the vest, yet still sturdy enough to carry the weight of all those bells!


isager, wool, alpaca, nightingale, knitting

There is a lot of discussion about the problematic nature of the Isager patterns; largely, I feel, due to the translation to English.  Looking at people's project notes, those who have worked from the original Danish instructions have had far fewer issues than those working with translated versions.  This is also a bit of an older pattern book, and I do feel perhaps a few of these glitches may have been teething problems, since rectified.  I certainly had no problems with a little baby hat I knit from the childrenswear collection - All you Knit is Love.  I think it's also good to remember that there are different methods of writing pattern instructions around the world, and this may also impact on translations.  Sometimes the format of the steps seems foreign to the way we are used to being told how, leading us to question, "what do they actually mean??". This isn't really a flaw of the pattern, though.  It's just different to what we're used to. 

All this in mind, I had no trouble with this vest until I reached the instructions for shaping the neck and armholes.  At this point the numbers began to not add up, however it was not something that anyone with a bit of experience knitting garments could not work through.  It was mainly that the guides on how many decreases to make, and which row of the bell pattern repeat you would be on at key points, did not (could not) match up.    There was also a point where  I worked out that the row 2-15 pattern repeat had suddenly reverted to row 1-14, without notice.  That caused a few head scratches until I twigged!

Overall, I'm pleased I persevered though.  I love the resulting garment, and the colour is so very perfectly heathered.  The weather has obligingly warmed enough to be able to wear this comfortably over a light top, which is also pleasing.  Nothing worse than finishing something only to have to put it into storage until the season is right.

I think I'll definitely have a go at some of the other patterns in this book, now I feel a bit more prepared for things I may or may not encounter.  The designs are worth the effort, and perseverance, and a challenge is a good thing for the mind.  If nothing else it keeps things interesting!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Shield Maiden

Invoking my inner shield maiden today, with my newly finished Vedbaek!


How I look in my new shawl:



How I feel:



hehehe...

This is a light and lofty shawl, but with substance and shield-like qualities.  Sarah from FiberTrek has mentioned she regards hers as protective, like a talisman, and I couldn't agree more.



I love the way the Shilasdair Luxury 4ply worked up in the garter stitch, and the colour is just beautiful.  In some lights; grey, sometimes purple, others nearly brown.  A chameleon, perfect for protection.

My only minor disappointment is that the "arrows" on the edging don't seem to pop on my version as much as on others I've seen.  This could be just a matter of reblocking though?

I really don't have a lot to say about this shawl except to say I love it!  I've mentioned before, but in case you've missed it - it's a well-written pattern, easily memorised so perfect for travelling, and something different from the lace shawls typically calling for this weight yarn.


If you have been contemplating knitting it, do it!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The Craft Sessions & a Tulip Skirt

The second annual Craft Sessions is a wrap!  

What a wonderful weekend.  Jackie and I worked in the shop on Saturday and headed up to the Yarra Valley straight after doors closed, arriving just in time for a pre-dinner drink and a catch up with friends.  

After having worked all day then driving for over an hour, I have to say it was such a beautiful vibe to walk into.  Everyone was relaxed, but at the same time pumped about their workshops that day, and there was a lot of show and tell, high excitement about new skills learned, and many brain cogs whirring with new inspirations. (you could all but see them whirring, I swear!).

It was great to sink into those big leather couches and just soak it all in.  I ended up staying up much later than I'd planned, knitting and chatting, finally hitting the bed after 11pm. (rockstar that I am not, this is actually very late for me!!)

I'd booked into the Wiksten Tulip Skirt workshop on Sunday, and couldn't wait to get started.  I am, at best, a hack at sewing, so I was really hoping to pick up some tips and tricks to refine my technique and finished pieces from this class.  The teacher, Sophie Parslow from adaspragg, certainly came through with the goods in that department!  She conducted the class in a great format, giving a couple of instructions at a time before proceeding to the next step.  I found this really allowed participants to work at their own pace and receive individual attention as required.

I learned how to execute french seams like a boss, as well as other nifty tricks, and I've ended up with a very wearable skirt.  I'm really happy with my fabric choice too.  It's a mid-weight cotton and it's got enough substance to hang right, without sitting too stiff.  




What was the biggest thing I took away from this workshop though? Who knew that, just like a knitting swatch, acurate measuring and consistent seaming results in a garment that fits?! Crazy stuff.



I did also glean some good ideas on setting up my workspace, and how to make the sewing process run a bit more smoothly in doing so.  At the moment, there just isn't space to have a cutting table, an ironing board and a sewing station set up at my place, so I'm moving from room to room and working around furniture at each step.  It's kind of a pain, and a definite hinderance.  I'll share my thoughts on the new setup ideas after I've had time to implement them in a domestic environment.

As always, departure hour came all too quickly and after a lovely speech from Felicia at afternoon tea, it was time for goodbyes and promises of "see you next year!".  

Like many others, I'm so grateful to Felicia and her wonderful team that we are able to have this event - it is truly a gift to be able to attend and be able to immerse yourself within that wonderful, creative environment.  Here's to many more Craft Sessions to come!

As ususal, I was too busy "being there" that I forgot to take many photos!  For more details on the Craft Sessions 2014, head to this post from Felicia xx