Knitting all the things

Knitting all the things

Since I haven’t felt like blogging much lately but have felt like knitting, I have a lot of things to post about. I feel like blogging is something that I can only do when my energy and enthusiasm is high. Sewing clothes for myself requires a lot of mental and emotional energy too. But knitting, knitting is comforting and easy most of the time, so I do that when my energy is low.

First up, here is a lovely big triangular scarf/shawl. This yarn was a gift from my lovely friend Kate who dyed the yarn herself! I love the subtle color gradations that she achieved. The yarn is 100% Australian merino in a 8ply/dk weight. The pattern is Herald by Janina Kallio. I do love her designs, they are lacy but modern and asymmetric which really appeals to me. This pattern is designed for 4ply/fingering yarn on 4.0mm needles so I upsized to 5.5mm which gave me the right texture and drape with the heavier yarn.

It makes a very snuggly, large scarf and I just love it.

Next up is a scarf that took 5.5 years to finish. I cast this on on Boxing Day 2010 when I was away at the beach with my extended family and I was a beginner knitter looking for a project to learn how to do yarn overs.

The pattern is a free one, Flame Chevron Scarf. It was really much more complicated than I needed at the time but it did the job of giving me good yarn over practice.The yarn is Bella Baby Layette a Spotlight yarn which is 80% bamboo and 20% wool. It’s not anything I’d choose these days much to does have a nice silky feel around my neck that is good for warmer weather.

Here’s a little pattern free hat that I made to knit up the one skein of handspun art yarn that I purchased at KnitFit last year.

I did a rolled brim, stockinette and decreased the crown evenly, nothing fancy. I swatched and then reused the swatch yarn, then basically knit the whole thing twice after my first attempt was wider than it needed to be but not deep enough. Such is life when you make up the pattern on the fly. I had only just enough yarn to get this hat out, with only a few inches left at the end.

I feel that is hat is a bit of a statement. A statement that says ‘I’m a fiber artist, and I don’t give a fig about fashion’. God knows that weird little purple sheep locks sticking out of your hat is not fashionable, but I absolutely adore this hat anyway, and will definitely wear it come winter.

And to finish off, here’s a little dress that I knocked together for Althea. The printed cotton fabric was a gift from my mother in law. Althea was going to a Girl Scout day camp where they have camp names, and she waned to be called Koala. So we made this dress up – a koala dress for Koala.

 

I traced the bodice pattern off a Hanna Andersson dress that she owns and the skirt is simply the whole width of the fabric on the front and back, and cut in half lengthwise. I would have liked to do some straightening and matching of the koala print but I didn’t have the fabric to spare – it is only just long enough using all the fabric. The sewing quality if this is not terrific, but Althea helped and sewed a few of the seams and it was ready in time, which was important to her.

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately!

A customfit cardigan

A customfit cardigan

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I have just finished my second Customfit handknit! I’m really pleased with it. It took me 5 months and one day, with a few other small projects interspersed, because knitting such a large project on one hit is a bit taxing.

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The yarn is Bendigo Woollen Mills Alpaca in the color Tosca. It is 100% alpaca and at AU$16/200g it is really a quality yarn at an affordable price. I bought the yarn in November 2010 at the Mill factory shop when I was there with my good friend Sarah and her Mum. Sarah lives in beautiful alpaca jumpers (sweaters) that her mother knits her, mostly all-over patterned Arans, and I wanted to knit a bit of that snuggliness for myself.

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You can see that this is a heathered shade, and there is the occasional fleck of really bright blue. There are a few longer guard hairs in this yarn, it is not as soft as some other super-soft 100% alpaca yarns, and can be a wee bit prickly around my neck. But is has a bit more body and hopefully more durability than a baby alpaca yarn, I guess I’ll see.

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It does have some bloom and fills in the yarn over holes in the lace pattern a bit. That’s ok with me.

This pattern is Foyle’s cardigan and was custom generated to my measurements. Overall I am pretty happy with the fit, at least compared to my last unwearable cardigan. My back piece ended up longer than the fronts, probably due to an inconsistent row gauge on my behalf. I’d say the front length is spot on perfect for me, I could wear this with jeans and not feel that I had an annoying gap. The sleeve length is pretty good too, I choose 19″ from underarm to cuff, and I’d now say that is a minimum length for me. It is certainly not a generous over-long sleeve, when I move around the cuffs pull up.

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It’s hard to tell from these photos, but there is really a lot of positive ease through the body, too much. If I was sewing this I would take in the side seams by an inch on each side. It is certainly a relaxed fit, and it looks very sloppy with anything other than jeans or a fitted skirt. That said, I really do like the way that the back body fits into my waist and is not baggy there. This is from the back waist darts. There is no waist shaping on the fronts.

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Check the shaping! That’s 13 decreases between hip and waist and only 2 increases between waist and bust. This is probably a fair reflection of my bottom-heavy shape.

So customfit gives you choices about the increases and decreases that you use. You can see how my choice of decreases that sloped towards the shoulder gives this line of stitches along the neckline. I wasn’t sure how this would look, but I think it worked out ok, even though the left and right sides look different.

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Overall I am really pleased with this cardigan. Though I do have slight concerns that it is a bit warm for indoor wear, which is a bit of a pity. Outdoors you really need a waterproof coat here in winter, so if it’s too hot for under a coat or indoors then it won’t get a lot of wear. I’ll guess I’ll see. I am very happy that I finished it in time to wear it this winter though.

After I wore this cardigan for an afternoon I realized that I had inadvertently made myself a garment that was very similar to a hand-knit cardigan that my beloved maternal grandmother used to wear. It was a green V-neck cardigan with patterned fronts and plain sleeves and back. I guess that it was knit in 8ply/dk wool. I think that my paternal grandmother may have knit it, and when cleaning out her unit after she moved into residential care it was left behind, where it came to us, and then on to my maternal Grandma. I remember her wearing it quite frequently, often with ribbed wrist cuffs to extend the sleeve length. After she died I claimed it and wore it quite a lot including taking it backpacking around Europe. The sleeves and body were too short and eventually it was purged from my wardrobe. I really did love it though – being a lover of hand knits way before I learned to knit myself. This cardigan is very similar and I don’t even realise it until I was finished.

Completed cardigan!

Completed cardigan!

I finally finished a hand knit cardigan for myself. Here it is!

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This garment started with the yarn. I visited the Bendigo Sheep Show in July 2012 with my friend Sarah, her Mum and Julian who was at that time 12 months old. We had a great day, watched some sheep shearing, admired the sheep and ogled lots and lots of beautiful yarn and fibre. There was a stand selling 1kg lots of seconds 100% merino for $25. It was branded as “100% Merino” but I discovered after the show on Ravelry that it was Pear Tree Yarns who were having production problems selling off all their stock. Sadly they have now gone out of business. This was their 8ply (dk) yarn and the other lot I bought is a mauve 10ply (worsted).

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I cast on in October 2012, gave it a rest over summer, and was trying to finish it to wear the Australian winter of 2013. The body was finished when my husband and I had a winter long weekend getaway where I was determined to finish it. Unfortunately I spent most of that weekend in the bathroom vomiting or lying queasily on the couch (morning sickness with Tessa). What with a difficult pregnancy, newborn and international move, the cardigan got put down for a long time. But now it’s done, at last.

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The pattern is Something Silver by Veera Valimaki.  It’s not very well suited to my body shape, and is not a pattern that I would choose now, to be frank. I chose it because of this beautiful version by Ganeshas on Ravelry. I made the size 42 (in July 2012 my bust was about 42″) added buttons al the way down the front, added full length sleeves and added a few more stitches to the upper arms. Given that my bust circumference is now 3-3.5″ larger really I am lucky that it fits at all.

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You can see that buttoned up it is really not the best look for me. Also the armhole depth is not enough and those raglan seams are tight and uncomfortable. This pulls the wide neckline even wider to the point where the whole cardigan slips sideways off my shoulders (I pulled it up for the photos but they slip off as I move). The sleeves are blissfully long enough – 19″ from underarm to cuff seems to be a good length for me – thank goodness for customization!

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The wooden buttons are form Buttonmania, purchased when I was convinced this cardi was almost done! It is the most delightful button shop I’ve ever visited and worth having to collapse the pram and take the baby and all your stuff out to ride the very antiquated lift in the Nicholas Building.

Final result – this cardigan is pretty hot to wear despite the lace, meaning I’m not sure that I’d want to make a garment out of the mauve 10ply, so I’m a bit unsure what to do with that. I do really like the pattern design, the pockets and wide garter bands are lovely and I like the overall diagonal lace pattern. I’m going to wear the cardigan because I’m determined to, not because it’s the most beautiful garment to wear. The tight underarms are pretty annoying. But it’s done! Onward and upward (and CustomFit sweaters from now on…..)

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Annis lace shawlette

Annis lace shawlette

When I first joined Ravelry, I could not for the life of me figure out why so many knitters were knitting lace shawls. I mean, who wears a shawl in this day and age? I have always loved knitted lacy textures, like cardigans with lace and eyelet patterns, but I just couldn’t get with the shawls. Fast forward 4.5 years and I’ve just knitted my first lace shawl…..

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It all started when a lovely friend Toni from my knitting group decided to destash her lace weight yarn, and gifted me three gorgeous skeins. Each is a high quality, hand dyed art yarn in shades of blue. This one is Malabrigo Lace which is 100% baby Merino wool, spun in a single ply. Being pure wool it is quite grippy, which is why I chose it, one other skein has quite a sheen, indicating a decent amount of silk, and I decided it would be better to use a less slippery yarn for my first lace project.

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The shade is 99 Stone Blue which I just love. I have always loved blue-grey gunmetal shades. As a child, my favorite pencil in my precious box of Derwent pencils was labelled Gunmetal. My wedding dress was this colour also. The hand dyed colour shading in the stockinette section keeps it interesting without being too distracting for the patterned part.

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These are my first nupps! (Nupp rhymes with soup).  150 of them. I used the crochet hook method shown in this youtube tutorial. It made it really easy and I could work them in one row, keeping the nice easy purl rows as just purls. I probably could have used a bigger crochet hook, but I only have one (I use it for picking up dropped stitches) so I just used that. I quite like the look of the nupps, which is interesting since I hate the look of bobbles.

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The pattern is Annis, a free pattern published in Knitty back in 2010, so there’s only like 7191 versions of it on Rav…. I actually started looking through Ravelry projects made with this yarn and colourway and found a version of this shawl that I like so much that I made my own version. Thanks wackadoodling! Sadly my points along the cast on edge were too tight to get the awesome super long points that the pattern author (Susanna IC) intended, and that my inspiration project actually achieved.  This was despite my using a larger needle and a great deal of effort to cast on loosely – but obviously not loosely enough.

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Still, it’s really pretty, and light and squishy. I’m not sure how much I’ll wear it in the long term. I think this project marks a shift from being a very product driven knitter, to process becoming more important as well. I really enjoyed knitting this and it didn’t matter as much to me as much as it usually does whether or not I got a useful finished object out it. I actually cast it on on Christmas Day and finished it in exactly a month later, which is super fast for me. At first I found knitting with laceweight rather like knitting with dental floss, I just wasn’t enjoying  the feel of the very thin yarn on my hands, I was missing that nice fibre feeling as I knit. By the end though I came to really enjoy it and was petting the project as it progressed.

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I’ll definitely wear it to Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat, which I am going to next weekend. I’m very excited, I’m taking classes with both Amy Herzog and the Yarn Harlot! Wearing rather useless lace shawl will mark me outs a Real KnitterTM don’t you think?

A cardigan for the upcoming baby

So finally at 37 weeks I have finished a knitted garment for the upcoming bub.

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The pattern is Granny’s favourite by Georgie Hallam. I knit the 16″ chest or 3 month size, with middie length sleeves and approximately dress length body, though in actual fact I just knit until I ran out of yarn. We will see how it fits in due course but it does seem quite short and wide. My gauge after blocking was slightly too loose 22.5 or 23 stitches per 10cm, not the 22 stitches stated so that might be part of the problem.

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I enjoyed knitting this pattern, and it introduced me to a new technique – make one, using a simple backwards loop. I just googled for a youtube video as per usual.

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The yarn is Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 8ply that I dyed myself. This skein was originally intended to be a hat for Althea but I was just never really inspired to knit that. The yarn was dyed twice, once as a multicolour which was awful, then overdyed as a solid (the post about that is here). The result is a semi-solid, and I am quite pleased about how it looks knitted up. I don’t think that the colour changes detract from the lace pattern.

The buttons are plastic ones from Spotlight, I had to use reasonably large ones to keep the cardigan securely closed even though they are only yarn over buttonholes.

I have been gifted several other gorgeous hand kits for this baby – I are so lucky and my knitting friends have been very generous. But I am also pleased to have been able to make something myself. It gives me that good mama feeling, which can be a bit precious and fleeting amid the crazy chaos of family life!