Iceland – warm and cosy in Rowan Cocoon

Iceland_3I had checked the weather forecast last night. I normally do when we’re on foot for the school run. I don’t like to be caught out and like to make sure I’m not going to have to endure 30 minutes of “Mummy, I’m cold…..” or “but it’s raining….” from the girls because well, it isn’t a great way to start the day!

So I had already spotted it was going to be a bit chillier this morning.

Now the weather has finally decided to become more seasonal, it really is time to break out the woolly jumpers.

I started this jumper last year ( Iceland by Stephanie White from Rowan Knitting & Crochet #42 – it looks as if it’s available as a download on Ravelry too) and had reached the point where I needed to knit the ribbing at the bottom before the weather turned and I wanted to get onto summer knitting projects.

A few weeks ago, I picked it back up again and added the ribbing.

Iceland

I’m not a fan of the button holes that are provided with patterns and I generally convert them to one row button holes. If you have never tried them, then I really recommend them. They’re not quite as stretchy so you do need to give some thought to how many stitches you want to ‘cast off’.

Despite how complicated it might look, this really is a simple project, there is no shaping and the main cable patterned piece is knit in one piece from cuff to cuff. Once I had the pattern set, I found that I remembered it pretty well and didn’t really need to refer to the pattern which was a relief as it was written down. I’m afraid that I much prefer charted patterns for cable or lace work.

The yarn is Rowan Cocoon and it really is very warm and snuggly. It contains kid mohair and does have a tendency to shed everywhere. I’m surprised there haven’t been more complaints of hair in people’s dinner!

If I were to make any changes, I’d be tempted to add to ribbon to the neckline to stabilise it and stop it sliding off my shoulders. I’ve also seen a few comments on Ravelry about the pattern being knit without the buttons on the ribbing. It’s a nice feature but I’ve found completely unnecessary and I’m sure even people who are larger than me aren’t going to be needing to undo the buttons to get it on and off. So my advice? Save yourself a few buttons and knit the ribbing in the round!

Iceland_1

The importance of dye lots – My Myrna cardigan

You may remember a passing reference to my Myrna here.

This is where we last left it….

Myrna-in-progress

Unfortunately, it has been frogged three times since then and is well, now a collection of balls of yarn hibernating at the bottom of my knitting bag. Rarely have I had such misfortune with a knitting project.

First off, Andi released some amendments to her pattern as the row gauge had been shown incorrectly. These things happen and it was  clearly explained and a number of versions of the pattern with various row gauges are now available.

I fished out my tape measure and checked my Myrna against the measurements that I should have at that point and realised that I did need to undo the fronts as the revised pattern was every so slightly different.

I quickly re-knitted the fronts – perhaps too quickly? Once again I came to joining the back and front to knit the rest of the body and…….. arrrrgggghhhh……

I’d managed to twist one of the fronts when I picked up the stitches along the shoulder of the back and I had one front facing one way and another in a completely different direction – this was NOT going to make a cardigan!!

Cue unraveling number two….

Following the correct pattern, making sure I checked that the fronts were both facing the right way, I started again and reached the point where I needed to join under the arms. I held my handiwork up to admire the pattern…….

Hmmmpphh – what more could go wrong you ask?

All I could see was a stripe across one of the fronts where I had changed balls of yarn.

Now I’m sure many a knitter out there knows that you need to buy your yarn all from the same dye lot. Occasionally I flout this rule (*gasp*) and so far I have been lucky. Some yarns are obviously better at hiding any slight variation in colour.

Drops Paris is NOT one of those yarns.

I was all too aware that I was using different dye lots. I was trying to use two part balls from a previous project and I had compared them both in natural light and couldn’t see any difference but well, trust me when I say that knitted up there was a significant difference!

In almost disbelief I started unraveling again and this time flung the balls into my knitting bag consigning them to the ‘another day’ pile in what was probably close to a teenage strop!

The next day though, I revisited the pattern, looked at the yardage I had (in the same die lot) and decided that I probably did have just enough to make my Myrna.

But those balls of Drop Paris are still in the bottom of my knitting bag as I really couldn’t face another installment of the dreaded frogging.

So instead, I’m plodding my way through a second school cardigan (I’m quite bored of it now!) whilst dabbling in a spot of crochet (from the self-confessed non-crocheter!!).

Please do share your knitting disasters because I’m really hoping that it isn’t just me!

Knitting and nattering

It has been some time since I’ve been to our local knit and natter group – without really counting I’ve been once in the past 4 years! Blame pregnancy, babies/small children who don’t like sleeping and more recently running.

A sprained ankle has knocked running on the head for a little while so a timely window of opportunity presented itself.

Evening chores completed, I grabbed my bag of projects (yes – note projects (plural)) and headed out the door.

DB-silk-bolero

Finishing the Debbie Bliss silk bolero. The picture doesn’t really do the yarn (so soft & silky) or the colour (purple) justice.

I can honestly say, it was a lovely way to spend a couple of hours and I even got some knitting done (with limited unpicking! – am I the only one to get so distracted that I forget my pattern altogether??).

Myrna-in-progress

My Andi Satterlund Myrna in progress. I am knitting the 24 rows version using Drops Paris (and I struggle to not think of dishcloths whilst knitting!) omitting the keyhole back.

Everyone else was crocheting but I’m yet to be a serious convert. “Let’s ‘stitch and bitch’ instead!” came the cry. But let me tell you, it wasn’t a popular alternative. We’re clearly a bunch of natterer’s.

Topics were varied & plentiful from impending teenage proms, weaving ends in on granny squares (“what!!!” cried the finishing phobic), capital gains & inheritance tax, housebuilding, to why Jo (Three Stories High) buried her cross stitch in the garden! It’s both a hilarious and yet poignant story of what one does with those projects that have gone south but with which we cannot break the bond of the work and investment that has gone into them. I’m hoping Jo will share the story with her readers one day, as it really is a story worth telling.

So shall I become a regular again? My schedules need a bit of juggling – as a girl’s got to run, especially with half-marathons on the horizon – but I certainly hope to make it more frequently than once every 4 years!!

My friend ‘Chuck’

Chuck by Andi Satterlund

It’s knitting time again!!

I’m sure the seasoned knitters amongst you won’t need me to tell you it’s Andi Satterlund’s Chuck.

It’s a super simple pattern (don’t let the cables deceive you) that in aran weight yarn knits up quickly. I love the way the sleeve heads are knit using short rows – they fit perfectly with no seams whatsoever.

I used Colinette’s Skye yarn in Morello Mash which I bought from my local yarn store. I have a thing for Colinette yarns, they’re pretty local being only over the border in Wales and the colours and yarns are just gorgeous. They are a touch on the pricey side – but you get what you pay for in this instance.

My tension was a smidge on the tight side (I knitted on 4.5 mm needles and could have done with using 5mm instead) so this did come out a little on the ‘smaller than intended’ size. I wasn’t taken by the cropped length on me, so I added a couple of inches to the bottom band of ribbing and cast off using the super-stretchy method (which adds wraps to the usual process of casting off) to allow for a bit more space at the top of my hips. And then the sizing was nothing a bit a blocking and a spell on ‘Dolly the dressmaker dummy’ didn’t fix.

I have had to be creative to get my Chuck to fit into my daily wardrobe as most of my bottom halfs don’t come up as far as my waist, but it’s  nothing I’ve found a longer top underneath doesn’t fix.

Close up of cables

I am loving Andi’s patterns. I knitted a Miette for a friend last year and I have already bought Agatha but I really fancy a ‘Hetty‘ for summer. But for the moment I am working on Iceland from Rowan 42.

Crafting never stops…

Catching up on makes

Phew!! It’s been a while. And I have to say that the sewing, knitting and general crafting doesn’t halt but the blogging about it often gets sidelined.

Christmas was a busy time. I must have churned out some 11 handmade items, some of which are featured above. And not one for me 😦 So it’s time to play catch up!

1. Not really a Christmas make, but one that has never been shared. You may remember I made the Oliver & S School Days coat for Honey and that I had a Burda pattern (View C of  9676) in the making for Poppet. Well it proved so popular that I couldn’t get it off her long enough to take any decent pictures. That and it being in the wash rather often – permanent black marker (I nearly cried, until I discovered hairspray – yes, folks it gets black marker out of clothes) and a good share of mud. She loves it and even with us now being in winter still wants to wear it. I have a feeling it might not be big enough this summer.

2. A little fishes key ring (free gift kit from Mollie Makes issue 29) – one of those little gifts that takes far longer than you want it to! I found as it was so dainty and fiddly that the sewing machine really didn’t work and had to sew it by hand (as per the instructions). I didn’t used the supplied fabric but instead scraps left over from the fabulous bundle from M is for Make.

3. A dachshund pencil case. This kind of thing is great for practicing inserting zips without you being too worried about the finish and is somewhere super cute to keep your pens and pencils!

4. Elephant pyjama bottoms in a super cosy cotton flannel (now out of stock) for Honey. The pattern (#40) is from Ottobre which Jo from Three Stories High has lent me. It’s a plus-size pattern so I had to alter it somewhat to get it to a sensible size. I also made a t-shirt style pyjama top (#38) from the same magazine in the same knit fabric as the tie. They have been a big hit!

5. The eagle eyed amongst you will already have spotted that this is a Cooper from Colette’s Walden collection. It’s a fabulous pattern which comes together beautifully. I used waxed cotton and some waterproof fabric left over from Honey’s coat for the lining. My husband was very impressed with it and despite knowing and seeing my makes was really blown away by the fact that I’d made it. Luckily, I used a bag that had seen better days to reclaim the hardware. I WILL be making one of these for me – maybe with slightly adjusted proportions – probably in some Cath Kidston inspired oilcloth.

6. Meet Little Red Riding Hood and Mr. Wolf! Cute aren’t they? They’re crocheted amigurumi from issue 10 of Simply Crochet. Now I don’t normally crochet but when I saw the magazine I couldn’t resist especially as a certain little person has a real thing for Little Red. I’m very touched that she often asks for her at bedtime. This is a real honour as neither of my children have ever shown any interest in taking soft toys or anything else to bed.

7. Two makes in one. The scarf really was a Labour of Love, knitted in Debbie Bliss Angel (so close to Rowan Kidsilk Haze you wouldn’t notice the difference) this is the Olivia Mohair scarf with bobbles. For saying it was just a scarf it probably took some 7 days of pretty consistent knitting to finish it – I was in panic mode. It has a beautiful pattern and I love how it turned out but I shan’t be knitting it again!

And the dress is Figgy’s Sunki in purple Ponte di Roma. Not a suggested fabric as the dress is intended for wovens but nevertheless a pretty successful make. One thing I need to remember in future is that I need to take a chunk out at centre back and front to get a better fit. It’s a shame that you can’t see the design lines in this fabric clearly. The dress I think has a real sixties vibe to it and I think would work well as a colour blocked design.

There you have it – a small collection of my recent makes. Stay tuned to see what pops up next ….. I may just have sewn jeans.

All cosied up – Beth from Kim Hargreaves

Beth from Kim HargreavesThere seems to be a lot of knitting going on round here. I blame the weather. I’m afraid that when I look outside and it’s dark, damp and dismal all I can think of are cosy cardigans and sumptuous sweaters.

I have been eyeing up ‘Beth’ from Kim Hargreaves Amber – A winter gathering book for quite some time. I always thought it would take ages to knit (double moss stitch, need I say more?) and the 8 balls of Rowan Big Wool are probably enough to put all but the über affluent off.

But then my lovely friend Sharon asked me if I might be able to alter a cardigan for her. It’s one that she had in her maternity days and is clearly now too big.  I took one look at it, and said “err, not really. Your best bet would be to unpick it and start again” and then I found myself with a job!

Double moss stitchThe unpicking was probably the hardest bit – trying to find the ends and then actually undo the seams was laborious and tedious to say the least. I weighed up all the yarn and figured I had a good 800 grams of yarn. My tension square was perfect – so I can say with reasonable confidence that the yarn is Rowan Big Wool as I know that most of the similar yarns knit to ever so slightly different tensions.

I used a tip that I’d picked up and knitted the back and one sleeve first. This takes you to roughly the half way point of the project so if you’re half way through your yarn you should have enough to finish. I didn’t want a repeat of the whole Edie saga!

I was really surprised by how quick it all knitted up. I was expecting it to take ages – yep the big needles, the double moss stitch all make for slow knitting BUT the simple pattern and bulky wool means that it grows almost as quickly as Jack’s beanstalk!

I made the 34in chest version and it fits beautifully on ‘Dolly’ – it’s too big for me, so if I were to knit if for myself I would probably knit the 32in and definitely make it shorter. Now just to finance it…..

The most challenging bit about this make was finding the buttons! It needed 3 large and 2 medium buttons. In the end I managed to find some on Ebay.

And there we have it – a speedy make to keep you nice and cosy over the coming wintery months.

The buttons

Edie Sweater – how not to knit

Edie-sweater It’s been a while – almost 2 months to the day to be precise.

Mind you, not as long as it has taken me to make this sweater! It’s probably been about 3 years in the making. I am having a bit of a splurge on UFO’s at the moment and this one was top of the list.

If you haven’t discovered Kim Hargreaves patterns yet – then go out any buy one of her books now! They are beautiful to behold and even if you don’t knit anything from them, the photography, attention to detail and sumptuous yarns are enough to keep anyone inspired.

Edie, is a “deep raglan sweater with a wide neck” and has been designed to be knit in Rowan Kid Classic. For anyone who knows their Rowan yarns, this contains mohair – which well, is never going to work for me. I will spend my life itching and sneezing!! That said it’s a beautiful yarn and because of its mohair content is wonderfully light.

Instead, I knit it up in Louisa Harding’s Thistle.

Here are where my problems started….

First off, when putting a project down for a significant amount of time, it helps to take notes about little things like TENSION, NEEDLE SIZE and so on. I have a hunch that the front is knitted on 4mm and the rest on 4.5mm.

Second, after having knitted the front, back & one sleeve, it was pretty clear I wasn’t going to have enough yarn – arrggghh. So I decided to safety pin it together and try it on.

It was huge!! About 3 inches too long and the arms were all baggy. I wasn’t sold on the style and I wasn’t going to undo it all and start again 😦

Edie sweater - the sleeves

Batwing, dolman or deep raglan?

In a bid to cheer me up, I bought and downloaded Andi Saterlund’s Agatha determined to frog poor Edie and put it down to experience.

I then started looking around at how to fix the length issue.

Always up for a challenge, I followed this tutorial and shorted the front & back by 3 1/2 inches and the arms by 3 cms (yep, I know a great mixture of metric and imperial!!) WITHOUT having to start again. I was pretty confident that I had saved enough yarn to finish the last sleeve but with 6 rows to go….

I ran out!!! I nearly cried.

Louisa Harding’s Thistle is now discontinued. I knew there was no chance I would be able to get the same lot but decided that with only a few rows and the neckband to go that any variation in colours between lots should hopefully be minimal.

I was lucky. I can’t even tell I’ve used different lots.

Feeling pretty good with myself, I started blocking and making up.

The front was about 1 inch shorter than the back and as for the raglan sleeves….. inches too long. Luckily I’m creative with my mattress stitch and a good steam block after sewing means everything fits perfectly. At last – a result!!

And all my problems boil down to not keeping notes … but it does go to show that wool is quite forgiving after all 🙂

Am I going to keep notes from now on? Maybe…..

Me and Edie