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!

Knitting – Customfit pullover and handspun shawl

My sewing mojo has fled but my enthusiasm for knitting is high. Back in February I was lucky enough to attend part of the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat and I attended two three-hour workshops, one of which was by Amy Herzog. Amy is a very talented knitwear designer with a great passion for helping women make sweaters that both fit and flatter.Her workshop was an introduction to both the fitting and flattering parts and I found her very down-to-earth, amusing, knowledgable and passionate. She has created a fabulous piece of software called Customfit that allows you to input your body measurements and your swatched gauge and it creates a knitting pattern customized to you.

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The kind of shaping darts that Customfit uses – this is the back waist.

I came away determined to knit myself a fabulous Customfit sweater! My husband took the measurements, as did a few of the women in my fabulous knitting group. I also took quite a few peoples measurements which was a great privilege – it’s quite confronting to be faced with a measuring tape in a coffee shop. I trawled Ravelry customfit projects extensively and choose a deep V neck pullover in stockinette, trimmed with garter stitch bands. The yarn I’m using is Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool. In my size on 3.5mm needles it’s taking a while but I am determined to have a wearable sweater soon!

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Front and back are completed.

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The yarn is quite heathered.

Finding all the endless stockinette quite boring (but TVable which is good) – I was resisting starting another project as I want to wear the sweater before the summer. However – I have relented. I was thinking of making my daughter’s 2nd grade teacher a hand knit shawl or scarf as an end of year gift. I have this lovely ball of fine wool and silk handspan that I bought from the Handweavers & Spinners Guild of Victoria stall at the Collingwood Childrens Farm Farmers Market some time ago.

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The first pattern I tried was Unleaving by Lee Juvan.  This simple looking scarf has a lace pattern with pattern stiches every row (I’ve only done every other row before) which made it very slow and difficult. By far the most annoying part was that the same symbol means different things depending on whether you were on a right or a wrong side row – and since its garter based both sides look pretty much the same.  I pulled it out before I finished the full 16 row repeat of the pattern.

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So now I’m making Antarktis by Janina Kallio. My mother in law just completed the most gorgeous version of this pattern in Tosh sock while she was visiting – and the finished object was absolutely divine.

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So now I’m making one. I’m not sure that I’m going to be able to give this one away. The yarn is working up gorgeously and this kind of fine handspun is really one of a kind and irreplaceable. I might just have to keep it and find another gift.

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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?

My wintry Nymphalidea – finished!

I finally finished my beautiful Nymphalidea scarf/shawl, and I am very pleased with it!

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As you can see there are a few different ways to wear it. Not that I’ll be doing much of that any time soon given the very hot, and now disgustingly humid weather we’ve been having. But it can wait.

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I knit this much larger than the pattern suggested.  I really wanted to get to a third repeat of the blue part of the gradient (my favourite shade in this yarn) but sadly ran out of the plain blue yarn just as the gradient blue was starting to come in.

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I really enjoyed knitting this, watching the colour gradient, knitting a loose tension. And I’ve ordered some Knitpicks Chroma in the same colour way but worsted weight to make a matching hat, so sometime soon I’ll have a lovely winter set.

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My Ravelry project with all the details is here.

I also finished off this little hat for Julian that I started back in May! Pity it missed the winter.

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The yarn is my own hand dye and I do enjoy the pooling/striping effect that happened in this hat – rather good luck than anything! I think the reason that this project stalled for so long is that I hate circular knitting with magic loop. I am also not fond of double point needles. I only made headway on this when I started knitting in the round with a really short circumference cable so that I could just knit round and round.

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The Ravelry project for this hat is here.

Gradient yarn

I am totally obsessed with gradient yarn. I just love watching the colour changes come in. I love admiring the gradually changing stripes in my Nymphalidea.

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I always want to knit just one more wedge to see how the colour comes out. I want to pat it and stroke it. I love how the stripes look on the right side. I love how the stripes look on the wrong side. I love how the colour changes along the mesh edge are getting closer together as the rows are getting longer. I’m definitely obsessed.

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I am also totally in love with this colourway.  It is Knitpicks Chroma Fingering in Midwinter. The intense cerulean blue evolves into grey, into icy mauve, into magenta and back to blue. The blue is definitely my favourite shade, the pastel mauve and grey are not colours I would have chosen on their own, but I love the way the gradient works as a whole. And it is evocative of midwinter, which felt very appropriate when I cast on this shawl in Seattle in December, and faintly rediculous in Melbourne in January (at least the heat wave is over and the fabric is reasonably light and airy on my lap).

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I have only worked with gradient yarn once before, a handspun angora and silk that I made into a lacy scarf. I found the colour changes very addictive then too, although the single loosely twisted handspun angora plied with a silk thread was a challenging knit for the beginner I was then.
My lovely mother-in-law has knitted two beautiful shawlettes from gradient yarn recently, a Citron from Zauberball and a semicircular lacy thing from Noro. Both received much petting and admiration from me when we were visiting her recently.

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I have many projects that I should be working on, but I find that I’m only really enthused about creating more things with this lovely yarn, exactly this yarn in exactly this colourway. It does come in a worsted weight version, so maybe I could try that. It is very tempting. Very tempting. Because single-ply hand-wash only yarn would be so practical for baby garments – right? right? I’m thinking a midwinter Luuk hat. Should I succumb?

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Stjärna for Christmas

Merry Christmas lovely readers! I hope that you all had a lovely, relaxing family time. I have just returned home after nearly three weeks away – a long drive, an overseas trip, a family holiday in Adelaide and the long drive back. I had a great time but I am very glad to be back home (a home full of suitcases, overgrown garden and dirty washing, but home none the less).

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In early December I finally felt inspired to knit again and decided on these star-shaped tree decorations that I had been in my Ravelry queue for a while. The pattern is Stjärna by Karolina Eckerdal and it’s a free Ravelry download. I knit it in Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 8ply which I happened to have, but I did have to make a special trip into Morris and Sons in my lunch break for a set of six 3.0mm double pointed needles.

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This pattern was pretty fiddly, I have to say, and it’s knit with 8ply yarn on 3.0mm needles with a firm tension so it was not the most relaxing knit either. You start with a provisional cast on in the round, move to five DPNs and knit in towards the centre until 10 stitches remain and then tie them together. This was the bit where I hit a snag, as I finished the first side when I was at a play centre with my son (a great place to take an active toddler on a rainy day) but didn’t have a needle to tie the stitches off. On the way home one DPN fell out of the work and I was unable to successfully pick up the dropped stitches, or bind off tightly enough to there is a slightly unsightly hole on that first side.

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You then pick up stitches around the long edge (that was fiddly) and knit the second side, stuff the star and then knit the final row and bind off (super fiddly).

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Here you can see the gappy first side and the better second side of the star. Despite this small error I was really happy with this little tree decoration and it’s certainly a fun, quick project. In fact, I made a second star that I gave as a gift to my lovely mother-in-law and the second one turned out even better than the first – but sadly I didn’t get any pictures of it!

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The tree that the star is hanging on is my Wollemi pine which I did use as a Christmas tree when it was in a pot, but it’s now a 2.5m tree planted in the garden.

After my successful Stjärna I have been reinspired to knit and have cast on Nymphalidea by Melinda VerMeer, a loosely knit shawl which I am planning to wear as a scarf.

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The gradient yarn is very motivating – I keep on knitting just one more wedge so that I see the next colour emerge.

On a totally unrelated yarny note, check out this cool yarn bombing we found in Ararat as we were driving through yesterday.

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The text reads “Women’s work but is it art?”

I hope that you are all having a lovely summer/winter break.

Shawlette

When I first joined Ravelry I could not understand the popularity of shawls and shawlettes. Really? In this day and age? I mean, I don’t see anyone wearing them around on the streets. I’m all for making useful things, and it just didn’t seem very useful.

However the more I hung around Ravelry, I began to get it, at least somewhat. You get to knit gorgeous lace, interesting, complicated designs without having to stress about gauge, whether it will fit you and whether it will flatter your figure. It’s kind of like quilting for sewers: sewing without fitting!  I am not a quilter myself but given how hard I find making clothes to fit and flatter there are occasional days when I understand the desire to make a flat object!

This shawl (shawlette? it’s not very big) is Azzu’s Shawl by Emma Fassio. It was a very easy TV knit. I added extra eyelet rows and a picot bind off to make the bottom edge more decorative.

The yarn is Mosely Park Cocata which is a hand dyed sock yarn with a very small amount of sparkle. I bought it from a stall at the Bendigo Wool and Sheep show recently. It was the first time that I’ve knit with 4ply/fingering and I did enjoy working the light yarn at a loose gauge. The small variations in colour are subtle and beautiful and has inspired me to dye some semi-solids like this myself, as so far I have been only dying multicoloured yarn.

I’m going to think of this piece as a scarf that just happens to be wider in the middle and wear it with the point at the front. It feels very costumy when worn as a traditional shawl. Of course with the weather warming up I doubt it will get much wear until next autumn. Oh well!

On a side note, that skirt is Kwik Sew 3362 made from double knit. It goes well I think.