Wednesday, 4 May 2016

The next blanket

The next blanket, #176, is white with green and blue, for no particular reason other than a change from red and pink.  I like it.  I managed to exclude any discordant shades.  There is the white of course, but it blends in nicely.  I have included some synthetic blends - because the yarns are there, usually obtained in bags of assorted balls - but they are not very obvious.

The first garment I unravelled is this 1930s style sweater in Rowan 4 ply soft, one of my favourite yarns, in a slip stitch pattern in pale blue and grey.  The pattern is Pandora by Leah Sutton is Rowan Magazine 38 without the Big Wool bow.  The sweater is very very short according to the style of the period, and for me the sleeves are too long.  The insert at the front could look OK but it should be sewed in, and it is difficult to make it look good, as the picture proves.  The sweater was a pleasure to unravel, and the yarn is nice.

The second garment is this Asser and Turnbull cashmere zip up jacket.  The yarn is between 4 ply and DK in weight, and quite nice.  The beige colour is very useful.  The fronts have been cut at the zip, so I ended up with a lot of short lengths.  I begin to have less patience with these now, when there is much yarn in the yarn store.  And I didn't use the yarn in this particular blanket, because there is so much unravelled already.  It will come in useful at some stage in the future.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Primavera Single Rose by Julia D'Court

I am still doing tapestries, slowly.  I had seen tapestries with close-ups of flowers, and been attracted by them, so when I saw this kit, very reasonably priced in a charity shop, I didn't hesitate to buy it.  The yarn was Anchor pure wool, in skeins.

Stitching it was not as nice as I had anticipated.  I like doing large areas in a single colour, but I think I was too close to appreciate the picture.  The finished cushion looks much nicer at a distance.  Also, the pale colours soon looked soiled, despite washing my hands each time before taking it up.  I washed the canvas before adding the backing.  I did the stitching without a frame, and I was pleased that it slanted just slightly.

It took me a long time to get around to doing the backing.  I used the same yellow patterned Laura Ashley fabric (a 4m length from a charity shop) as on other cushions.  My cushions have long pointed corners.  I think it is because of the synthetic stuffing in the pads I buy from John Lewis.

Now I have the Single Iris tapestry to look forward to.

Stitched 1 August 2014 to 6 June 2015

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

The next blanket

The next blanket is dark, green with brown, grey, navy and black.  The colours look much lighter in the pictures.  The purpose of the green was to finish off the Patricia Roberts black green marled Shetland, and that I will manage.  I added two mohair yarns so it feels cosy.  The other dark yarns tend to be the same, blanket after blanket.  I enjoy knitting it very much.

I unravelled this navy cardigan.  There is a lot of linen knitwear around, or there was last summer, and I wanted some to add texture to the blankets.  The brand is one I don't know, Marco Pecci, with a label in German.  Unravelled it was disappointing.  The yarn consists of four strands of thin yarn, not plied.  You easily lose strands when you knit, and the texture disappears because the strands are so thin.  It adds some bulk.

The yarn from the second garment does not go into this blanket because of the purple colour, but it will in others because it is lovely single ply wool.  The pattern comes from Edina Ronay's book, Knitting Collection, and it is just called Fitted sweater in silk.  I have seen it as a cardigan in silk, and I have also seen a second one in wool, in the same shade as mine.  The style is dated, and not one I would wear even if it fitted me.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Thick and thin yarn blanket C25

This blanket, C25, was part of my attempt to finish odd yarns that don't readily fit into blankets.  I had in fact already put this yarn in blanket #157, but didn't like it enough to continue.  It consisted of three hanks of blue black white yarn, thick and thin, unlabelled but I think acrylic.  The thin parts are so thin that I had to include a second yarn, and I used a navy acrylic that I bought for some purpose and now can't remember what.  There was enough anyway.

Since I had no way of estimating how far the yarn would go, I went for a log cabin construction.  It worked well.  I liked the texture of the yarn.  The acrylic disappeared nicely.  I stopped knitting when I ran out of the thick and thin yarn.

The edging was done using the Moda cotton ramie left over from the Sarisilk blanket.  The colour and thickness were both right.

Looking at the blanket now it is obvious that the blocks aren't regular.  I thought it was my tension that was at fault - I had started knitting more loosely.  I have since worked out the problem.  Log cabin generally works because in garter stitch one stitch equals one ridge.  For me it doesn't; one stitch is wider than one ridge.  This is why tension squares don't work for me.  If I change to a smaller needle I get the same number of stitches but fewer rows.  (So the advice to change needle size seems glib.  What do you do then?  I recalculate the number of
stitches.  I would knit a smaller size, if it were possible but I usually knit the smallest size anyway.)  The solution I'm trying with my current project is to knit a looser tension, ie larger needles than I would normally use.  I hope it works.

This blanket was a nice project, nice knitting, nice result.  Totally unnecessary purchase of yarn.

Thick and thin yarn blanket C25
thick and thin acrylic yarn, navy acrylic DK, cotton ramie yarn for edging
size 6.5mm needles
Tension:  12 st per 10 cm
Size 85 cm by 90 cm, 580 gr
Knitted 15 September to 23 October 2015

Friday, 29 January 2016

Marrakesh Crochet blanket

This is my second blanket from the Comfort Knitting and Crochet Afghan book, although it is very different from the pattern.  The pattern is by Donna Yacino and it is called Marrakesh,  in Tunisian crochet.  I have never tried Tunisian crochet; I have seen other people do it and it does not seem difficult.  But I don't own a Tunisian crochet hook, and, as I would need several to try out the tension, I don't want to make the investment.  And, where do you buy them?  They are not widely available.  I could get them from the internet, but I do like to see what I buy.  And, it is not wise to try out a new technique on as large a project as a blanket.

So I decided to do it in a crochet stitch that look similar to the Tunisian stitch, standard double crochet.  The pattern is done in three panels, presumably to accommodate the length of a Tunisian crochet hook.  Ordinary crochet has no such limitations, so I did it in one.  I started with a new technique for me, foundation crochet.  It worked fine, and I prefer it to starting from a chain, so I will use it again.

The yarn choice started with the pink Sandnes Mandarin Soft cotton.  I bought a lot of 10 balls against my better judgment, because it is a Norwegian brand.  It is a very nice cotton, soft as implied by the name.  Because it is loosely plied you do have to watch out that it does not split.

The second yarn came from a garment in the yarn store, this cotton chenille knitted jacket with a cable design.  I bought it, not for this project, but because I liked the blue colour, and chenille gives a nice texture to knitted blankets, although it is difficult to knit with because it is non-stretchy.  Here I thought it would look nice with the pink.  It might be Rowan yarn and Rowan pattern, but I could not find it from a quick search.  It has got the buttons you find on Rowan garments.

These two yarns are both aran weight cottons.  I added other similar balls of cotton yarn from the yarn store in suitable colours.  (I didn't use all the yarns in the picture.)  I arranged the yarns chosen in a pleasing order and started the crochet.

I enjoyed doing this.  I think because it was mindless crochet.  I could pick it up at any time and keep going without thinking about pattern or yarn.  There was interest in adding the next ball in a different colour.  When I came to the end of one ball I added the next.  I enjoyed the crochet with some yarns more than others.  My favourites were Rowan Blue Jeans and an old Pingouin Coton Naturel 8 Fils.  The chenille yarn was not a problem.

I did realise, not for the first time, how difficult it is to find yarns that look good together.  There are a lot of yarns in the yarn store, but once you whittle them down by weight, by fibre, by shade, you struggle to get enough for a blanket and you end up with less than perfect results.

I didn't do the embroidery.  It looks nice on the pattern, but I don't do embroidery.  If I did it would be abstract patterns and not flowers.  Any embroidery would anyway disappear in my stripes.

I like the blanket.  The colours are what were available.  I ran out of the pink Sandnes, as I knew I would, so I added two shades of pink.  It was a struggle to find blues, too, at the end.  The texture is lovely, the chenille feels so good, but  so do all the cottons.  It would have looked better, if I had added new yarns at the sides.  Then I would have had to plan colours, and I didn't know how many rows I would get from one ball.  So I would have needed more shades to make sure.  And I would have ended up with scraps of yarn.  This way everything got used up - except for the blue chenille and some other blue.

I decided the sides were fine without an edging.  At the top I did a row of slip stitch to mimic the foundation row.

CKCA2 Marrakesh
Yarn: Sandnes Mandarin Soft, cotton chenille, odd balls of cotton yarn
Hook:  5 mm
Tension:  13 sts to 10 cm
Weight: 1730 gr
Size:  125 cm by 177 cm
Made: 6 November 2015 to 18 January 2016

Friday, 22 January 2016

The next blanket

The next blanket, #174, is red again.  I do have a lot of red yarn.  I quite like it, particularly together with beige and brown as in this blanket.

Some 18 months ago I started knitting thicker blankets - combining yarns to aran rather than to DK weight.  It works well.  I have stopped classifying yarns according to standard weights; I use thicker yarns singly and combine thinner ones two, three or four to get the required thickness.

With the last few blankets I have made another change.  I have reduced the number of yarns used in a blanket.  This was because I got tired of a particular yarn lasting for years - some eight or ten years.  If I use more per blanket I will finish them sooner.  There is an unexpected consequence.  Stripes become more pronounced.  In blanket #173 there are clearly brown and green stripes.  In itself this does not matter, but I have to take more care when I decide the order.  Before it was done randomly.  I do miss the randomless, but otherwise I like it.

For this blanket I unravelled a sleeveless pullover, grey with two red cables.  The cables have been done as fairisle rather than intarsia, and the red shows through in between the cables.  Otherwise it is nicely knitted, and the yarn is lovely.  I suspect it is Debbie Bliss Rialto 4 ply.

The other garment was one I knitted myself.  I wrote about it here.  I have worn it a lot, but fashions have changed, and now it has gone.  The rust cotton yarn, Jaeger Pure Cotton, disappears in the blanket, and it adds nice texture.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Account for 2015

I bought a lot of yarn in 2015.  I have my guidelines, and somehow all yarn can be made to fit the guidelines.  Storage is a severe problem.  In November I woke up one morning with a strong feeling that I must stop buying yarn because I have run out of places to store it.

I actually went around practising not buying yarn, and I managed it for several weeks.  But now I'm back again.  I'm surprised that price has turned out to be the deciding factor.  I will buy at 10 - 15% of full woolshop price.  I think this is low, but it can still be managed, especially if I bargain.  I wish all wool had an obvious price label.  Once I have to ask how much it is it is very difficult to walk away.  I can't walk away without knowing the price.

On the other hand I have refined my system for deciding what yarn to knit next.  I have my standard blankets, and they are no problem at all.  I enjoy knitting them so much, and the yarn or knitted items that I buy for them disappears soon enough.  Now I go through my spreadsheet of yarn acquisitions and I will use each item in turn.  If a yarn is not suitable for special projects they must go into standard blankets however nice they are.  And I have my waiting list of blankets to knit.

It is just such a long term plan.  And the group of yarn meant for garments make me feel stressed.  I look at patterns and there are plenty that I would like to knit and I have suitable yarn, but knitting a garment takes so long because when it comes down it I prefer to knit blankets.

The good news is that I knitted a lot in 2015, a total of 22.2kg.  This is the most I have ever knitted in one year.  I noticed that my standard blankets were finished more quickly than before and I did several special ones.  I hope I will be able to keep this rate up in 2016, but I do have plans for at least one intricate special blanket which will take a long time.

To add a picture - this was my first purchase after I decided to stop buying yarn.  I have a nice collection of Rowan Summer Tweed.