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

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Getting organised

Oh my, it's a busy time for me at the moment.  I came home from work on Friday and was kinda hit with  an overwhelming feeling of "how am I going to get all this done?!"

But of course, get done it must, so out came the whiteboard and tasks were sorted into sub-groups by priority.  I'm pleased I've been able to work methodically through most of my to-do list, plus a few extras, and am now feeling a little more on top of it all as I head straight into another busy week.

The organisational spree has included the creative space and the greater home environment as well.  My craft supplies and tools seem to have a habit of spreading themselves around all and every surface so getting them under control was first on my list.  

A few weeks back, Laura from the KnitGirllls mentioned her method for keeping her circular needles organised on the podcast, and I thought hers was a really nifty idea.  She uses an accordion file and stores them by size.  When I was in Officeworks this week I picked myself up this stylish little one and sorted the huge tangle that was my needles straight into their relevant file.  It's small enough to sit out of the way on my workstation, but in reach when needed.



While I was sorting needles, I also found this sweet vintage tin for my various dpn's.  I have two needle cases that I made some time ago for my sock dpn's and they are very handy, especially if I'm taking them travelling, but they only fit so many sets and nothing over 20cm long, so this tin is perfect for the overflow.



While I was sorting all the needles, I took the opportunity to clear out some of the old needles that I'll probably never use again.  I'm a bit (a lot) of a magpie, and I can't let go of things easily even if I have plenty.  I'm hoping they are just what someone is looking for at the opshop though.



I also reorganised my flat, and now have my sewing table set up permanently!  I love having my sewing machine and overlocker ready to go.  It makes sewing so much easier and a more frequent occurrence, when I don't have to clear the kitchen table and set up/pack up every time I want to do a quick sew-up.

Which is good, because I'm hoping to pick up lots of tips and sewing inspiration after my Craft Sessions Wiksten Tulip Skirt workshop.  Another thing ticked off my list on Sunday - I got my fabric, interfacing and buttons!  I also managed to get the pattern at a discount, using an Interweave coupon code I found online - huzzah!



I'm really pleased with fabric, and I love the buttons!  Options for fabrics are pretty limited down my way, and I did struggle a bit to find a print I liked in an appropriate fabric, but finally settled on this and I think it's a good choice.  It's a mid-weight cotton and I can see it being a very wearable and versatile skirt.  The buttons are actually slightly translucent, which isn't really showing up in the photos, and with their opaque cream dots, they sit really well on the fabric.

I *may* have picked up some extra metres or two while I was there.



 I've made some more progress on my Vedbaek shawl - onto the 8th repeat (of 9) so nearing the edging chart very soon.  It's used way less yarn than I'd originally thought so far; it will be interesting to see how far the second skein goes now the stitch count is greatly increased.  I'm anticipating getting it done with 400m though (unless the edging chart chews through meterage like a barracuda!).  Photos next week...

Sadly, I don't think my Nightingale Vest will be finished in time to wear to the Craft Sessions, though. But that's OK - I'll take it along and hopefully get a row or two in on Saturday night.  It's looking beautiful so far though, and there will hopefully be an FO next week!!

So that was my week.  I feel a lot more in charge of things this side of the weekend, and can see a clear path ahead through the next few weeks to come.  If you're going to the Craft Sessions, hope to see you there!  Otherwise, see you all next week and until then - happy creating :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

An exercise in concurrent monogamy (isn't that bigamy?!)


I'm trying something a little bit different this month with my WIP's, and currently only have two things on the needles!  For me, this is very different to how I usually work.  Usually, I have at least 3-4 projects on the go at any given time, and I work on them as I want.  Although I set goals and have plans well in advance, I also like the flexibility to cast on what I like, when I like.  I'm that kinda gal.

Which is wonderful, nothing wrong with it.  It's a method that works well for me as a general rule.  Not necessarily always conducive to finishing things in quick turn-around though, and I'm usually A-OK with that, however sometimes I get these notions in my head that there might be A Better Way...

The spur behind this notion is two-pronged.  Firstly, I've gone and applied a self-imposed deadline for my Nightingale vest, in the hope that I will be able to wear it to the Craft Sessions (Sept 5-7), and secondly  I signed up to participate in Fiber Trek's Vedbaek KAL.


The shawl is travelling with me to work and appointments, picking Lily up from rehearsals and such.  It's such a lovely pattern, very rhythmic and easily memorised.   I think I've only got 3 repeats to go before I start the edging, too.  The yarn (Shilasdair Luxury 4ply) is a delight to work with as I've mentioned before - soft and smooth; it passes through my fingers and over the needles is a most pleasant way.  Other people in the KAL have already finished and their shawls look squishy and perfect.  I want mine finished and ready to wear too!



Nightingale is at the neck/arm shaping stage, but it seems like there might be a bit of errata in the pattern unfortunately.  I've read through and mapped out the shaping and the row count doesn't seem like it will correspond with what's indicated in the pattern.  I think this is one of the (minor) issues with knitting from translated patterns, and I'm sure I'll be able to nut it out to make it work, but it does mean there's been some knitting/ripping/re-knitting as pattern errors are established...


So that's it for this week.  I've refrained from casting on anything new however I dearly want to get some socks on the needles, having recently replenished the sock yarn stash with lots of delicious goodies, and Lily has put a request in for quite a few Tiny Owl's cute knits, but I've been strong. It's damn hard though!!

How do you work?  Are you monogamy all the way, or do you like to spice it up with variety?   Is there a difference in what you like and what works best, I wonder?

Postscript: One minor quirk about working these two projects - both have a spine stitch section, but one is slipped and the other is twisted, and one is an 8 stitch count; the other a 7.  It can make things interesting, when switching between the two!