Friday, 20 December 2013

FOs: Three Pairs of Gloves

Another post in the Finished Object parade - it's all helping me to Knit My Queue. As we rolled into autumn, I became aware that I needed to crack on with the challenge I had set myself, and knitting gloves means that the number of projects reduces, without needing a massive increase in knitting time. And I've really enjoyed knitting these three.

First up are my Waterhouse Mitts [rav link], a p/hop pattern. I loved the pattern, though I tweaked it to use it with DK yarn I think I almost certainly made it worse. The yarn [Debbie Bliss Cashmerino] was great, and it's the first time I've used it and I cannot wait to use it again. I really enjoyed doing colourwork for what feels like the first time in ages! Fair isle might feel fiddly but it gave these mitts just the right amount of interest, but the pattern was intuitive and I found it very morish. The mitts are also really cosy for the tough, Aberdonian mornings I now regularly face - as a city, it does seem to have perfected the combination of wind and cold so that they both permeate straight through to my skin while I innocently wait at the bus stop.

Secondly, these cabled mitts, a well-written free pattern [rav link] if somewhat unimaginatively named the One-Cable Mitts. If I were knitting for Christmas, I would almost certainly knit them again; making them in Aran weight yarn meant they flew off the needles in a single evening. I went down a needle size as they seemed a bit big, and I had to forget the ribbing at the top of the hand as I ran out of yarn. I like the result so on balance, I really enjoyed this project!

Finally, I have knitted one Christmas present. These are for a long-time friend of the family, after she admired my fingerless mittens when we were on a walk in the Dales. Apologies for the low-quality phone photo; there was not a lot of time to snap these! The pattern is the Nalu Mittens [rav link], which I modified to remove the tiny amount of seed stitch. The yarn is Artesano Superwash Merino in Teal (5167), which a Google Image Search shows (certainly better than the photo!) is a sort of deep aquamarine - deeply fabulous, too! It seemed like it would be lovely and cost but not itchy, fingers crossed that comes true!

Friday, 13 December 2013

FO: One Mystery Shawl

I'm going to come straight out with it: I knitted my wedding shawl. That needs clarification: I knitted one of my wedding shawls. Call me crazy, but I knew I wanted to make a super-special shawl with this yarn, because I love it - the fibre, the colour, the saturation,... - plus it came to me via some people who are very special to me (hi guys!). However, I'm not dead set on having such a striking colour wrapped around my shoulders when the other colour I'm wearing is more-or-less white:

One trip to Yarndale with former housemate and first-class enabler Hannah meant I also have some beautiful laceweight, that is more of a traditional colour for a wedding shawl. I plan to knit that into something too (pattern yet to be determined!) and then make a decision nearer the big day. Either way, I'm not particularly happy showing the projects off in such a public arena, so I will leave you with a photo of my leftover yarn from the shawl I've just finished, to whet your appetite.

Yarn: Wollmeise "Pure" 100% Merino Superwash [rav link] 150g/575yds. Colourway: Der letzte Versuch = 'the last attempt'. I can only guess how that day of yarn dying was going!
Pattern: Tornved by Karina Westermann [rav link]. Loved it, well-written and easy to modify - I did five repeats of the main chart, instead of the three recommended, as I had lots of yarn. Though as you can tell from the above, that did cut it rather fine on the yarn front!

Saturday, 30 November 2013

FOs: Two hats

Oh dear, blogging fell off the end of my to-do list this week! It has been a helluva week - travelling the length and breadth of the country on top of the usual thesis writing. All that travelling did mean I saw lots of lovely people though :)

Anyway, back to catching up on my FOs. I finished a couple of hats that were part of my knitting the queue 2013 plans. Actually, since I last blogged regularly, I started them too - though the yarn featured in an earlier post. It was going to become a hat, but we were fighting about the pattern. Fortunately, we found the ideal solution...

I am really happy with this project - it fits really well and the garter border is really snuggly, and covers my ears which is always a plus. It could probably be a bit more beret-style too, I just prefer my hats further back on my head.

Pattern: Mayrose by Woolly Wormhead, queen of hats [rav link]. Not the first WW pattern I've knitted, and like the others, well written, well laid out and easy to follow.
Yarn: Sublime Extra Fine Merino DK, from the sale bin at Wool for Ewe.

Now, Hat The Second:

A good, solid hat - possibly a little big on me so I might see if anyone would like it for Christmas.

Pattern: Cafe au Lait Tam by Kathryn C [rav link]. A well-written pattern, easy to pick up and quick to knit.
Yarn: King Cole Merino Blend DK in Petrol (Blue/Teal). Bought at baa ram ewe in Harrogate, just because the shop and staff were so lovely.

Friday, 15 November 2013

FO: Dunkerton Sweet and Vorticity

Despite my absence, worry not: I have been knitting. It has been quite a productive month in terms of knit the queue - first off, I have finished four socks. So I don't overwhelm you all, that's all you're going to hear about today.

Pattern: Dunkerton Sweet by Jen Arnall-Culliford [rav link]. Really well-written pattern; I found the lace logical and pretty easy to learn, and the nearly-new thing to me was that they had 'footedness' - I've only done that once before and frankly, I was worrying about other things with that project

Yarn: Skein Queen Entwist in Beauty Berry (cranberryish red), the last of the three skeins of sock yarn I got at Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show 2012. Delicious stuff to knit with, high twist and beautifully semisolid, perfect for socks.

If I had my time again, I might make the leg longer as I had plenty of yarn left - but it would only be by half a pattern repeat and, as they're top-down, that would mean I'd have to think about it. Generally loved the whole project though :)

And here's the second pair...

Pattern: Vorticity by Alice Yu [rav link]. I will admit, it did stretch my brainpower in places, but once I'd got my head around it, not too bad. Delighted with the result.
Yarn: High Twist BFL/Nylon by Wharfedale Woolworks. The inimitable Steph had it custom dyed for me in a colourway called 'A Typical British Summer's Day', so of course it is the colour of the sky just before a thunderstorm kicks off. Fabulous stuff to knit with; I heartily recommend it.

These are a bit of a geeky project, given my love of the weather, particularly storms and wind. Vorticity is a quantity that measures how much 'spinniness' something has - if you can imagine a tornado, it has a lot of vorticity! There is quite a lot of it knocking about in thunderstorms and the sort of things I work on. It seemed like a perfect match.

Both great patterns, both great yarns, and how I have more cosy socks! Hope you stop by again soon to hear more of my knitting exploits.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Yarndale Part 2

I know it was a while ago, but I've been dying to tell you all about what I actually bought at Yarndale [after telling you about the atmosphere and things a while back]. And I promise I'll explain the hiatus, all in good time. On with the show!

My first purchase was the eponymous bag - the stall was right in the lobby, and very busy, even though we got there about 10:15. Sadly, it did get screwed up under everything else I bought, so now it's in the ironing basket...

I scooped up a second mug from Herdy - in both senses, i.e. it's slightly imperfect and I already own one. This time in the purple, of course:

On to the woolly goodness! I got some fibre for my mum. It's a merino/silk in greys - Mum seems to like that sort of thing:

I was only allowed to buy yarn for myself, as I own plenty of fibre but cannot spin it [yet]. First up was 100g of DK in some of my favourite colours, probably destined to be a hat for me (hopefully gloves too, yardage willing!). I bought this partially because the fibre is interesting - 100% llama - and I'm curious to see how it knits up.

Then I got a little Eden Cottage, since their star seems to be rising, people love the yarn, and they had this gorgeous colour - 'Plum'. ,It's 100% superwash merino and it was bought with my bridesmaid in mind, so it will probably become a scarf/ shawly thing for her. 

Finally, I saw a really beautiful shawl on display at Artisan Yarns [whose website isn't playing nicely for me, but they were definitely there!]. I managed to be persuaded that I might want to turn this yarn into a wedding shawl for myself. It is gorgeous, but in my genius I've mislaid the card with the fibre blend written on, and the website seems to have migrated to here where the shop is down. Looking at their yarns on ravelry, I suspect it is a alpaca / cashmere / silk blend; whatever it is, it is delicious and highly strokeable.

Not a bad haul. but not a huge amount of stuff either! Stayed within budget and got some stuff that I'm really looking forward to knitting. Now to just finish off knitting the queue...

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

A Beautiful Thing

Apologies for the hiatus, there will be more on that story later. Meanwhile, here's a post I pretty much had written before things kicked off....

Someone has been kind enough to make me a Beautiful Thing:

I'll start at the beginning. I often knit at work, when my computer is working through something and I need to keep an eye on it. Knitting on DPNs is particularly good for desk knitting, as there are more points you can put it down at if the computer finishes up or fails in its task. However, as is always the case with balls of yarn, it tends to run away from me. This is not great at work, as the yarn tends to end up rolling under someone else's desk, under the desk chairs where it gets caught up in the legs, and heaven defend us when it heads for the cable runs.

Fortunately for everyone, the guy who sits next to me is a problem solver. He speculated whether I could keep the yarn is a bowl to stop it bimbling off everywhere, and when we tried it with a standard cereal bowl, it didn't work. I mentioned the idea of a yarn bowl, and it turns out my neighbour's dad turns wood as a hobby. He accepted the challenge of turning a yarn bowl, but cutting a slot in it made it too weak. Enter the Yarn Tub. So far I have used it without the lid, because I haven't started a project since owning it, but it works very well just like that.

Of course, this was a very lovely thing for someone to do - and someone I'd never met! Enter some vanilla sock knitting, to turn this into a bit of a skills swap.

I guess I'd better get cracking on them!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

When Knitting (and life) Attack!

This post comes with a massive caveat that things round here have got a little too busy. I'm getting a little stressed as I watch all of the plates spinning, just waiting to drop one. Knitting has been used for stress relief in the past, notably towards the end of my Masters and just as I started my PhD. I will try to avoid this turning into The Blog Of A Crazy Lady but let's just say - you've been warned! It's probably better to not ask how I'm doing.

It has not been a great week knitting-wise either: my main story is definitely a When Knitting Attacks. I tried to knit a hat - a simple enough task in theory, but in practice not so much. I have had to frog it completely, twice. The yarn is some red Sublime Merino DK, which I love as it's more or less the same as what I knitted Lauriel with (less wool content, different colour). First, I had a go at the Rylands Cabled Hat [rav link] and didn't get past the brim as I got muddled at the transition. Then, I tried another pattern called Haywire [rav link] and got past the brim, but the hat was just turning out the wrong shape. The yarn went into the naughty corner, but might not have spent long enough there. I've started the Godric's Hollow Hat [rav link] but I fear it is a little on the large side; I've knitted for maybe an inch since the brim, and the brim is a bit slippy. I've not got far enough to check my gauge, but I think it's heading back to the naughty corner for a little cooling off time.

And an extra bit of bad news is that I've been meaning to design and knit a cosy for a teapot, bought for me by my other half. This week, I have totally failed to find this teapot anywhere :( not only am I sad because the teapot has sentimental value and I'm really worried it's been left somewhere in a housemove, I was really looking forward to having a go at designing, too.

Let's end with a positive! What I've mostly been knitting since I last wrote to you has been socks. These socks have been going like a dream, and like the oasis in the desert I have been devouring them. The lace pattern is a bit complicated for it to be 'brainless' knitting, but in all honesty that isn't what I need at the moment. When I knit, what I need is something that absorbs me enough that I don't think about all of the other things I'm supposed to be doing. These socks are doing just that, and they're flying off the needles!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Yarndale Part 1

It's usually at this time of year, as the weather turns colder, that I find myself with a proper urge to buy yarn. Clearly, the organisers of Yarndale know this, as they've picked the perfect weekend for a yarn festival - at least for me. Conferences are finished and so I feel like I can celebrate surviving that, but the new students are around and that makes work quite stressful. Add to that the leaves turning, winds picking up and temperatures dropping, and all I want to do is knit.

Plus, it's less than a half hour drive from where I live, in the beautiful town of Skipton; a town not only full of history, but also of tea rooms, pubs, and interesting little shops. And, as it's The Gateway to the Dales, the scenery is not half bad:

The yarnbombing on the way to the venue was pretty impressive - miles of crocheted bunting! 

Even more of it in the lobby!

Where there was also a knitted picnic...

...and an awesome tea cosy competition:

I went on the Saturday, which was crazy busy. It was near impossible to get photos on the stands but I tried to capture the atmosphere: lots of people, lots of yarn! There was a good spread of yarn and fibre, half a dozen options for needles and hooks, and a few people doing larger things like wheels. If I recall correctly, there was maybe one or two stall selling fabric and cross-stitch stuff, another one or maybe two with books, but it was very much about the yarn and fibre. Just how I would want it!

The venue was the auction mart, which is clearly more usually used for livestock buying and selling. It was a great place to hold it, especially when the sun shone in through the roof. Not all of the space was used but I guess that allows for future growth in the coming years! There was enough room in the 'corridors' between stalls; the only times we had to squeeze were due to groups of people standing about, rather than busy stalls spilling out. The disadvantages of the venue were that the cafe was really busy for most of the day, the toilets broke down, and I hear parking was difficult for those who arrived later (we were fine at about 10:20). But with the town centre a very short drive away, if we'd been desperate for a pit stop then we probably could've headed there.

There weren't as many cute animals as there were at Woolfest - but there were some:

... and there were quite a lot of bunnies! Sooo fluffy!! Even got a little stroke of one of them :)

The range of stallholders was excellent: many of the usual suspects were there, selling yarn and fibre - plus a few new, clearly very Yorkshire-based businesses, which I was glad to discover. [NB. Oxfam Skipton were there taking donations of unwanted yarn, which they're going to knit into things to sell in the shop. I have a few ideas for what they could have from my stash - just thought I'd mention it in case anyone else has the same problem!]. Overall, an excellent day out. I will tell you all about my purchases another day.

Friday, 13 September 2013

FO: Lauriel

Finally! I'm sure you've been looking forward to this as much as I have. The ups and downs of this project have been fairly well documented, and there were several given that I officially cast on 1st August 2011 and officially finished 1st September 2013.

The sleeves were too long and had to be ripped back. The button band didn't sit right and needed reinforcing (which took me at least a year to get around to). I'm sure there were dozens of tiny setbacks, and I'm sure I've learned from them all.

The main thing I've learned that I'm not great when it comes to finishing big things, because that involves carrying a lot of stuff around and concentrating for more than 20 minutes, so isn't great on a train or at knit night. The details are great fun, and do carried me through this project sufficiently that it wasn't just a mountain of stockinette, and I knitted the body up pretty quickly. It was the very end stages where I floundered. Blocking took a while (especially as the sleeves were partly reknitted). Ends were not tucked in for ages. Sewing things is especially bad, as shown by the amount of time it took me to do the button band reinforcing.

At the moment I love it; it's not quite the weather to wear wool to work yet, but I'm sure I will. I also had a fairly useless pale blue skirt and an even more useless pale blue handbag, and I've dyed both navy so I have a complete outfit. Result!

The reinforcing [done using this Knitmore Girls video] has improved things but I'm still not mega-happy with the button band. I suspect that over the last two years I have just gained enough weight that, if I were to start now, I might contemplate a larger size.

But screw it, I'm leaving it as it is - and intend to enjoy wearing it just as soon as I get home!

Monday, 9 September 2013

The Kindness of Strangers

Another week, another finished object. I cast these guys on back in February, knowing that they were going to be a slow-burning project. This is just down to the fact that the pattern involves a lot of cabling; one in every 4 rows is cabling every single stitch. Not something to do in half-light or when half-asleep.

I knitted away, finishing the first sock back in April. I carried on and then disaster struck: I ran out of yarn, at possible the worst point. I was so invested I couldn't rip back and knit another pattern, but not so far that I could get away with just minor adjustments to the pattern I was using. The socks got sent to the naughty corner, and we had a cooling off period.

Mid-August comes and I start to have an assess of  what was lying around and what was going to be easy to finish (though I was a bit slack in blogging and only confessed how bad things had got on the 28th). Dig out the socks, and decide that the only real solution is to get more yarn. In the hopes of not having to buy a whole new skein, I get on ravelry and do a little stash-searching, trying to find someone local who had a little bit to spare. Enter, hawthorn. She is the kind stranger that the title refers to. She's made a beautiful Baby Surprise Jacket in this yarn. This left her with had a little bit of yarn to spare, which she was willing to send to me.

Hoorah! It was enough!! It's not the same dyelot but it doesn't bother me. Six months is too long to have any pair of socks on the needles. I wanted them away. Needless to say, I am very happy with the result. It's a great combination of pattern and yarn, and has made some really cosy socks.

Friday, 30 August 2013

FO: Hopeless Wanderer

I was doing so well with knitting from my queue this year. I was really proud of all my progress.

But then, something just snapped in me, and I had such a strong impulse to cast on something not on the plan; something beautiful, in new yarn and a new pattern. Not usually one to colour outside the lines, I squashed it and ignored it. And then I heard the wise words of Mumford and Sons:

'So when you hope's on fire
But you know your desire
Don't hold a glass over the flame
Don't let your heart grow cold...'

This instantly validated the impulse. After all, I don't want to fall out of love with knitting! Cold heart, no thanks! Before I knew it, I'd bought the yarn, cast on and was halfway through the plain section of this little beauty.

Yarn: Fyberspates Scrumptious 4ply, bought from baa ram ewe, Headingley. Ran out
Pattern: Kirkja Shawl by Karina Westermann, originally in Knit Now magazine, December 2012. I bought it as a standalone pattern when it was on sale for Andy Murray's Wimbledon victory, July 2013.

I really enjoyed knitting this: a well-written pattern, some beautiful easy-to-work with yarn, and perfection together. I think my deviation from The Plan was totally worthwhile.

'Hold me fast
Hold me fast
'Cause I'm a hopeless wanderer'

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

WIP Walk of Shame*

The number of WIPs is getting a bit out of control (for me) these days. Officially, there are ten (!!) things that are not totally finished, or that I'm not totally happy with.

Back in the fold for the past few weeks has been Lauriel. I've been putting off reinforcing the button band for months now, but have finally bitten the bullet and started sewing (using this Knitmore Girls video). The saga of this cardigan has been much-chronicled over the past 2 years, with problem after problem, so was condemned to the naughty corner. Now back in the fold, and fingers crossed I can get it finished before we lose the light evenings.

Skelf has also had a few stumbles on the way; nothing big enough for the naughty corner, but a few time-outs were needed. It's getting big enough that it's difficult to take out and about (where most of the knitting happens these days), and is large enough that it can get a bit too warm to knit in the summer.... excuses, excuses, I know! A slightly cooler week just gone means I've progressed it,  doing the neckline (again) and hoping that we will be ready to do the cast off at the shoulders before too long! [Apologies for the focus on this photo - proper photos when it's finished!].

I've made some good progress on the Vorticity socks I cast on on holiday, though progress has stalled a bit as I don't have enough brainpower at the moment. I am really enjoying the pattern and the yarn, and the two work brilliantly together.

I've also been knitting a shawl, accidentally, as it is not part of the my Knit The Queue plans - oops! I'll tell you the story from beginning to end in a future post. It is very compelling knitting, and progress is good.

I'm also knitting some grey man socks - more on why another day. They are standard vanilla socks in Regia 4ply, that I got with a whole load of other 'man sock yarn' in the Hobbycraft sale. Some excellent mindless knitting, though not currently my favourite project.

The navy and white gloves for OH are not merely on a go-slow as I said in July, but have actually stopped moving at all. Hopefully, taking them away with me this weekend to see said OH will bring back the magic.

Then, there are a few things that are in actual hibernation. First up, we have The Socks With No More Yarn, which I'm still gutted about. However, this week I have actually managed to face them, and get myself stash surfing on ravelry. Fingers crossed, I might actually be able to finish them before too long!

Next up, a glove in yarn that was a present, of which there is only one and I'm not sure I have enough yarn to knit a second one. I'm going to have a bit of an assess (and time with the kitchen scales), and see if we can manage it. Else maybe rip back and turn it into a headband-type thing. 

A hat that I made up the pattern for, but is too short for me. I have more yarn, I just have to rip back to before the decreases. However, it was knitted to match my seriously cold-weather-only coat, which didn't wear at all last year. I reckon that might change this year as I might be further north, so guess I'd better sort this one out as well.

And finally, mittens that are too short at the cuffs. These are waiting on me to finish with some white/cream DK, either from the navy gloves above or from last post's Waterhouse Mitts [rav pattern link]. I then intend to use that to pick up stitches, knit a little stripe and then return to purple. Don't worry, it will sort of match the hat.

So there we have my WIP walk of shame. A lot of it is psychological problems of not being able to face picking up a project that I thought I'd finished, but if I actually want to be able to use the stuff I guess I'd better get cracking!

*With thanks to Steph for the title of this post.