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!!

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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.

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

Bud – the boyfriend cardigan

Kim Hargreaves - Bud

Kim Hargreaves – Bud

The summer holidays are over and so, by the looks of things is summer.

Whilst sewing and knitting trundle along when the girls are at home, sitting down at my computer is more challenging. If it’s not someone wanting to know what  you’re doing, and ‘can they join in?’, it’s someone needing a box opening, a snack fetching, a doll dressing or an arbitrator in some random dispute.

It always takes me a good few weeks to settle back into being at home and the school run routine.

So what do I have to share? Well both my sewing machines are off at the repairers so I’ve been printing, taping and tracing patterns in preparation and getting down to some serious needle time with my knitting. I have a fair few UFO’s (unfinished objects) lingering and I feel in the right place to sort them out.

First up is Bud (from Misty by Kim Hargreaves). If you’re not familiar with Kim’s patterns or her pattern books, then get down to your LYS (local yarn store) or onto Ravelry and take a peak. The pattern books  – even if you end up not knitting a sausage from them – are beautiful to behold.

Bud has a real eighties thing going on. It has a checkerboard edging to the bottom and the cuffs and the front is a long swathe of double moss stitch. Other than that, it’s stocking stitch all the way!

I knitted this in the smallest size using Rowan Silky Tweed (discontinued), and made the shorter version (making it a tad shorter as height is not on my side 😉 ).  I finished the seams using mattress stitch. I’m sure many of you find this really time consuming (and dare I say it ‘tedious’) but I have to say I think it makes garments look soooo much better. If you’ve put all your effort into knitting, then surely, spending those extra few hours on the finishing is worth it?

I cannot fault these patterns. They are beautifully written and turn out fabulous results time after time.

The only change I would make, would be do to a single row button hole. I don’t know why I didn’t do it this time – but I really wish I had, they don’t stretch into holes and are just much sturdier.

Now, if I can just sort out my Edie sweater, we’ll be away!

Look - stripey feet!!

Look – stripey feet!!

A friend and a cardigan – showcasing Miette

Miette in the gardanMiette up closeMiette - the back

Whilst ‘Dolly’ (my dressmaker’s dummy) does a great job (despite a broken leg 😦 ) I don’t think you can beat seeing this cardigan on its intended recipient.

Thank you to Sharon for agreeing to a few photos. I hope you’ll all see why I thought ‘Miette’ would be perfect for her.

Missed the details? Check them out on my earlier post.

A ‘Miette’ of knitting

Miette cardigan

I am really taken with this cardigan – I only wish it were mine!

But “how come?”, you ask. Well here’s the tale…

Over winter, I knitted myself a long-sleeved version of Sirdar 2286 in some nondescript yarn from Hobbycraft (not my LYS (Local Yarn Store) of choice, but I was there, I loved the colour and I had a discount voucher… you get the picture, right?). I knitted the 12-13 age size and just added a little bit of extra length to the body and the sleeves. It has been a fantastic knit, came together really quickly and the wool (if only I could remember what it was sigh…) is incredibly warm and toasty, a fantastic colour, can be washed at 40°C and it can be tumble dried!!

Anyway, I was round a friend’s house, in my cardigan and she asked me if I’d make her one. Knowing it wouldn’t take long I agreed. We then got chatting about colours and yarns and she said she’d really like one in cream for Spring/Summer and another in a red colour for autumn/winter.

I hesitated and took some time out.

Now it’s a great cardigan but in wool it’s not a Spring/Summer item. I had a look around for the bulky weight cotton but didn’t turn up anything inspiring and then….

I was browsing Twitter and spotted Amanda from Bimble and Pimble’s tweet about Miettes and pink yarn. I looked it up on Ravelry (as you do!) and did a bit of checking out of the previous makes (including Lauren’s from LLadybird) and I was sold. I knew it would look just perfect on my friend (although I’m not sure she’s convinced about the length just yet – but she will be). I sent her the links to the pattern and some ideas for yarn. Budget was a bit tight so we settled on DROPS Paris in Off White. I confess I was rather worried when the yarn arrived. It looked just like dishcloth yarn!!

But that said, I think it knits up really nicely with great stitch definition that you’d expect from cotton. It does have a slight tendency to split but apart from that it works well as a budget yarn.

Miette caridgan

Andi’s pattern is really easy to follow. Although I had a real ‘durr’ moment when it came to row 25 and you have to break the yarn. I looked up the pattern notes and understood the reasoning perfectly but it still took me about 20 minutes of turning my knitting backwards and forwards to work out just what I had to do – my tip – just follow the instructions, they work!

I went wrong a few times (quite a few actually!) completely due to my own lack of concentration and forgetting my raglan increases. Please, check  your stitches at the end of each row. It may seem a faff but, honestly how much time is it going to save you when 7 rows later  you realise you’re a stitch short?

I had to redo my first cuff. I downsized to the needle suggested in the pattern but it came out so much bigger than the rib on the bottom of the cardigan. I guess my knitting in the round just isn’t the same tension. I ripped back (using this method) and knit it on smaller needles.

As always, I cast off using a larger needle, otherwise I find that those cast off edges just don’t have enough stretch.

Look no twisting - block your knits!

Look no twisting – block your knits!

It also needed some serious blocking. Not sure if it was the yarn, my knitting, the weight of the cardigan or a combination of them all, but the back was really twisted and off to one side. I had a few horrifying moments counting stitches, measuring to check if I’d done something wrong – fortunately I hadn’t. Blocking however was a real ‘fingers-crossed’ moment. Logic told me it should work, but I just wasn’t certain. I used the method described in Knitty.com for cotton and it worked really well and blocked out to the exact measurements that I needed. Phew!!!

So what do you think? The big ‘handover’ is on Friday. Here’s hoping my friend likes it – if not I love it!

Miette cardigan

Wish it were mine…