Thursday, November 09, 2006

Christmas Cardigan Continues...

The light over the kitchen table is not very yarn-friendly but it was the only place I could think of to lay out the back of the cardigan for a photo-shoot. Obviously, shaping has not been an issue here. The Mission Falls 1824 has been really lovely to work with although it doesn't take a Russian Join as nicely as I would like.
The major challenge has been remembering where the moss-stitch creeps in between the cables and where the pattern leaves it smooth. I've had to re-stitch a few columns along the way. The boy's run off to New York City for a week so I'm glad I finished this piece before he left so that I have something to work the left and right fronts against. I've been measuring against him every 20 rows or so and the length he likes is about two and a half inches shorter than the pattern calls for. Need to stay alert for the neck shaping on the front, I guess.
The cabling's been giving my left hand some problems. I'm really hoping that it isn't a sign of CTS but I've been getting numb spells and cold streaks every once in a while. I won't give up the knitting but I may need to be more careful while working at the library...

A Use for Fall Foliage

I own a lot of sock wool. For someone who has yet to make a legitimate pair of socks, I have an obscene amount of sock wool. So what do I do? I made a handbag.
Polly had issues with the colours of this Cherry Tree Hill wool (October 5 on alltangledup) but I think I was probably attracted by the colours initially. I just don't think I'd wear socks in them. I get into these moods where I feel that I need to branch out palette-wise and end up buying colours that don't fit easily into my life. So there were bamboo handles in one of the London boxes I unpacked last week and a pattern that called for this specific yarn... it was meant to be, I guess.
I wasn't sure about attaching the handles. I've never claimed to be a seamstress of any ilk. Worked out a system that is best termed a reverse mattress stitch. There's probably a real name for it. Anyhoo, all's well and another Christmas prezzie is done!


I made the hat Grace is wearing in this picture early in the spring when I was using up my purple Cashmerino Aran. She's just growing out of it now.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Cutest Logo Ever

As mentioned in the previous post, the boyfriend actually made a decision on what sort of knitted Christmas he'd like. He said things like "cardigan" and "black" and "cabled". Feeling a little bad about throwing out all his cardigans a few years ago (they were all nasty-old and acrylic and very Mr. Roger-ish), I found and bought Knitting Nature by Norah Gaughan (which I'd been meaning to do ever since Yvonne brought it to Liberty's night to show-and-gloat) and pointed out the Pentagon Aran Cardigan. In agreement on the pattern, off we went a couple of weekends ago to Main Street on a sunny Sunday afternoon to acquire the necessary wool since, unfortunately, my stash is severely lacking in black wool. Our first stop was Birkeland Bros. which, unbeknownst to us, was closed for the long weekend (Canadian Thanksgiving). Which left us wandering up the street in search of the much spoken-of new yarn shop, Three Bags Full (also linked in the sidebar as "My Local"). So new, in fact, that they didn't even have a sign up yet. It was pure luck (and vigilance) that I even spotted their window display from across the street. We had three choices of yarns: Cascade, which I found scratchier than my liking; Debbie Bliss, which I found pricier than my liking; and the Mission Falls 1824 Wool, which, although pricy still, was less expensive than the imported Bliss (it's a Canadian-made yarn) and less scratchy than the Cascade. Alas, the black was back-ordered... but Brendan found the charcoal well enough to his liking and our mission for the day was accomplished. As so it should be smooth sailing to Christmas morning, right? ha!

The Christmas Cardigan Saga: Part I - From Humble Beginnings

So, here we are at row 22.

What the picture doesn't show is the three times I had to frog this section, twice right back to the cast on. I don't think Gaughan realized that some of her readers don't think too hard before starting chart-work. The first time I started, I didn't even realize I was supposed to start on the Chart and, instead, started a 1x1 ribbing. When I figured that out, I decided a ribbed edge might be nice. Started the Chart after an inch of ribbing on the RS. Six rows later, came to the realization that the cabling is on the even rows and, therefore, I was cabling on the WS. Frog. Decided to read the Chart backwards the second time around (don't even ask, there was some sort of logic to it, I think). Frog. Got it going the correct way but lost a stitch during one of the cables the third time. Frogged back to the dropped stitch. So, three days after starting, I've got a hard-won 22 rows done. Yay, me!

Any hints on photographing cables in dark wool, Polly? They'd be much appreciated!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Need some Notions

Just finished this infant-sized kimono from Debbie Bliss' Special Knits book. I'm pretty sure I'm happy to ignore the embroidery instructions. With the number of babies popping up all around me, the more gender-neutral I keep these projects, the better. I really like the way the green Wool Cotton knits up and the leftover white from the little sheep dress I made earlier this year works well as the border. I still haven't bitten the blocking bullet yet so I think I'll have to steam and press this before wrapping it up for Christmas. The hem curls something ferocious.

My shopping list gets longer everyday. I still need to pick up buttons for the Town-Square cardigan (which has found its perfect owner, btw) and now I need a ribbon of some sort for the tie on this kimono. Brendan's also decided on a cardigan for Christmas... with a zip front! Gah!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Bootee Duty

My friends seem to insist on growing up and getting married and starting families. Most of them actually in that order now (as opposed to some of my high school friends...) and I've been kept busy trying to organize some suitable baby projects to foist on the tots. My newest victim is Nathan, now four months old.
Here he is just back from a second walk in as many hours, a little confused as he experiences deja vu for the first time.
He's a happy baby, which is a blessing. He's also extremely tall (but proportioned) for his age. The bootees I brought with me won't be used for long, I'm sure.
First, there were these Textured-Cuff ones done in Rowan Wool Cotton. I need to practise picking up stitches. The sides kept wanting to buckle when I was setting up this picture.
Later, I found a ball of very yellow (shudder!) acrylic yarn in my stash. (Don't ask me what possessed me to buy it in the first place.) In any case, the colour was very appropriate for the Duck Feet pattern sans the blanket stitching on the ends. Both bootie patterns are from Zoe Mellor's 50 Baby Bootees to Knit. There's quite a few more patterns that I'd like to try but many involve haberdashery that I don't have lying about - buttons, ribbon, lace, etc.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Town Square in Sage

For the girls at Liberty's, this will look familiar. I was working on it the last few times I was able to make it down on Wednesday evenings. Sans buttons so far, I finally got the pattern to match up reasonably well on the sleeve seams. Honestly, I nearly lost my will to live, sewing and picking out stitches umpteen times.

The pattern is the "Town Square Jacket" by Melissa Leapman from the August-October 2005 issue of Cast On magazine (for knitters). I substituted Debbie Bliss Alpaca-Silk Aran for the acrylic yarn recommended and then reduced the size of needles from 4.5mm and 5mm to 4mm and 4.5mm.
Without the buttons, the weight of the yarn made keeping it on the hanger for this picture pretty tricky. I was almost tempted to sew loops into the shoulders like they do for dresses that slide off hangers (but then I remembered that I wouldn't be hanging this anyway). The collar isn't shown in any real detail in the magazine picture so I was a little surprised when it came out with three corners but that's what happens when you "inc 1 st at ea shoulder seam and at center back neck". Oops, I guess EOR means "every other row". Oh, well.
The sleeves look kind of long but I'm thinking that the body will stretch out a little with time...

I haven't figured out how to take close-up pictures with a flash without getting the funny little shadow at the bottom of the picture so please bear with me. Casting on the button band and button-hole band turned out to be time consuming as the right side turned out to have more rows than the left. Brendan commented that I didn't seem to be enjoying my hobby as I muttered profanities over my sixtieth (not really) cast-on.

I really loved the way this yarn took to the texture of this pattern:
Row 1 (RS): *K1, p1. Rep from * for pat.
Row 2: *K1, p1. Rep from * for pat.
Row 3 and 4: Knit.
Repeat Rows 1-4 for pat.
I'll have to remember it for future projects. Love it!

And, finally, a close-up up the three most challenging parts (after the sleeve seams) - the collar, the button-band, and the sleeve-to-body seam. Not too shabby, I think!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Zig Zag Zaniness

I've spent the past few days of unemployment trying to finish up half-done projects and so far, I'm happy to say I've been fairly productive. I hate sewing...

This is an aerial view of my completed "Stitch-effect Sweater" from Julia Cooper's Textured Knits (a book which a bunch of people at the Liberty knitting group apparently got for free while I paid for). I did this with the discontinued shade "Madame" in Rowan Cashsoft DK.

I need to find a better way (and place) to photograph my projects.

It knitted up really quickly and, as with the previous project I did from this book ("Casual Cable Sweater"), I actually enjoyed working from the charts Cooper includes.

If you look closely at this strangely posed picture above, you can see the reason I thought this pattern was so cute - the stitch pattern trails onto the back. Unfortunately, this made making up the seam even more annoying than usual...

To be Felted

I really need to get myself a copy of Emma King's 25 Bags to Knit: Beautiful Bags in Stylish Colours. The colours aspect isn't so good since many of her choices have been discontinued now but the patterns are fun and they are quick ways to use up remnant yarn. This one is "Cranberry" (ironically, knitted in Cassis shade) without the beading, which I haven't been bothered enough to try. I actually knitted it on the plane from Heathrow to Calgary and got it all done except the handles. Now that it's done, though, I've decided that I need to try felting. It's a nice enough bag but really floppy (10mm needles) and the way I load up my bags, I'll need something a little hardier. Cabling on 10mms is interesting...

First Socks

Socks have been on my to-do list for a long time. These aren't exactly what I had in mind. I've got several balls of beautiful self-patterning stuff waiting for my attention but this pattern in Julia Cooper's Textured Knits seemed to be a quick and easy way to use up some remnants (alas, see yarn story below). Anyhoo, they're done now and even full-sized.
I think I need to work on keeping the yarn tight on the short-rows. I ended up with rather lacy heels.
I don't think I'll ever be a bobble fan. But at least I can say I've done them now. :o)

Friday, August 04, 2006

A Short Yarn about Yarn

Before I left the UK, I made a couple of knitted gifts for my co-workers. For my department head, I made a sea-man's scarf in the UK Select Alpaca. Same pattern as I made for Chris Q. last Christmas. For Alice, the other Geography teacher, I made a little handbag out of Rowan Classic Kid. Now the pattern calls for 2 balls and says it is to be knitted doubled up, so I did what I thought was the sensible thing and took the strand from the inside of each of the balls and knitted it double that way. When I finished it, I had the majority of two balls of yarn left. So the other day, I got sick of the jumper I've been working on and decided to use the remnants of this creamsicle-coloured Classic Kid to make a pair of bobbled socks. I thought if I made them for smaller feet I might be able to do one sock with one ball. Well, about three rows from the decrease, I ran out. Annoyed.
Went out to a new-to-me yarn shop in West Point Grey (Urban Yarns) today who I'd called about my situation yesterday. Turns out they have an entire bag of this discontinued colour in the back. For $12.95 a ball! It's a lovely little shop but I'm having a hard time believing that I'll be able to afford to shop there anytime soon...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Yorkshire Kid Knit

This is a project that I've been meaning to tackle for months, ever since I saw the little sheep on the hem. It's from the Debbie Bliss "Baby Knits" book and I knew that I had to make it for Nina, my Skipton family's little girl.

I changed the main colour from the sack-cloth brown in the book to a more pastural green to emulate the Yorkshire Dales. It's meant to be a smock-style dress (no fitting or shaping for a waist), which works well with the "smocking" of the yoke, I think.
Attaching the collar was tricky, as I'm not an experienced seamstress and really resent the entire making-up process. (There are two jumpers still in pieces, awaiting my attention.)
I've always enjoyed cabling and I think the smocking came out really well.
I've never done any fair isle or intarsia work so the sheep were the most challenging aspect of this project and I decided, after the fair isle came out looking a bit tight, that I'd try both techniques. Above, are the fair isle sheep I did on the back of the skirt. The green between the sheep is buckling a bit and the material is obviously heavier with the black & white strands twisted in behind. Below, are the intarsia-style sheep. I'm calling them intarsia-style because I actually fair-isled the black behind the white in each sheep rather than create a new bobbin for the three or four stitches that make up the tail and ran the green through behind each of the sheep (which peeks out every once in a while). I think this was the better way to go as the green remained the same thickness and texture as the rest of the skirt, which is voluminous to say the least. The down-side being that there were all these bits of black and white to sew in at the end.

I wasn't sure how the little white hem was going to turn out as I don't think I'd ever done anything like it before but once I got my head around the instructions and my fingers adjusted to the pick-up stitches, it went fairly smoothly and really finishes off the look of the dress. I need my friends to have more girl babies so that I can try something like this again! But not for a while, please.

I'm hoping for a picture of Nina wearing the dress but until then, my loyal readers can put the two together by checking out this jaunty little picture of her from my main blog.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Baby knits

When the onslaught on newborns on the way, I dug into my stash and came up with some cashmerino aran wool and adapted a Debbie Bliss pattern for a baby raglan jumper to knit top-down. The whole thing is down in stocking stitch on purpose so that the neck, hem and cuffs roll.
The pattern is a little wonky in that the sleeves are relatively long compared to the length of the body. These pictures are actually from my second go. The first one was in newborn size for my nearly-bursting co-worker, Sahera. That one was done to the patterns numbers and looked really short. The pictured one (done at the 12-18 month size) went home with Ms. Walker for her niece and I purposely lengthened the body a little to balance it out.

As with all my top-down attempts, the raglan looks lovely...
The colour is pictured a little bluer than reality. I hope Sahera has a girl.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Curly Whirly Madness

Wow, has it ever been a long time since I posted here. There have been a few projects since the Cotton-Silk Challenge, some involving wool importing, but the only pics I've got on hand (or disk) are of my CWs.
This was my first one. It was an initial cast-on of 700 stitches and ended up as more of a ruffle since there was so much of this beautiful boucle from Touch Yarns that I didn't want to stop knitting when I got to the end of the decrease so I increased again... The final product was given as a gift to Jewel Staite at the Serenity Squared convention.

This was my second one which took a lot longer because, as pretty as it is, I do not enjoy working with Kidsilk Spray. I assume the same will hold for KSH and KSN too. Much too fine and fussy. This one is being modelled here by the birthday girl and recipient, Tam, who I met through Serenity functions (premiere and convention). Another reason this one took so long is that I did it on the increase - starting with 150 stitches, doubling, doubling, and doubling again. Turns out that casting off 1200 stitches in KSS takes me about four hours.

After Tam's I didn't think I'd want to do another CW for a long, long time but it was a flatmate's birthday recently (not Sarah, the flatmate pictured above, but Kylie who didn't want her picture taken) and she seemed to like the one I made for Tam. This one only took a few days. I used Wendy Jazz, a novelty yarn (shudder) which, to be fair, is exceptionally soft and comes in some lovely colours. Having learned my lesson with the increase CW, I cast on 600 stitches with this one and halved every five or six rows. Came out a little on the short side (see below) but Kylie's happy with it.