Sunday, 22 March 2015

The next blanket

The next blanket, #167, was due to be dark green, partly because I seem to alternate between red and green, and green was next in turn, and partly because I want to use up the bright green yarns that I have got.

The green black marled Patricia Roberts Shetland irks me, because it is so noticeable and there is so little you can do with it.  And even now, using it every fifth row, I still won't finish it.  It is a nice yarn with the attractive rough Shetland quality that get softer with washing.

The other bright green, or dark teal more accurately, I will finish this time because there is only one ball left.  It is a Sirdar DK crepe wool that I found as a bag of 25 one ounce balls.  I like knitting with crepe - you don't really find it now - but again it is the colour that is so difficult, and it will be nice to see the end of it.  (After nearly eight years.)

I unravelled this shawl.  I bought it, inadvisably, because I convinced myself it was high quality yarn - alpaca or silk blend - and that I could use it for dolls' clothes.  But the colour runs are too long for small items; it would just look ridiculous.  And washing didn't remove the kinks so I wonder if it is an acrylic blend instead.  It serves me right, and I like including it here.  The red portions don't bother me at all.

The next in line was this cotton cardigan in a lace stitch, in a nice lavender colour.  It is so nicely knitted and faultlessly seamed together.  The fronts have been sewn together in a matching sewing thread - perhaps it was too small.  I bought it to wear, and I wore it several summers.  Fashions have moved on, and it is not comfortable anymore, so here it is.  The yarn is mercerized, and now that it has been unravelled it looks very much like Rowan Cotton Glace.  I have not tried to research if it is a Rowan pattern.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Koori tapestry: Echidna by Leann Jean Edwards

I bought the kit for this tapestry cushion because both the design and the colours appealed to me.  I like the look of Australian aboriginal patterns, and one day I may knit one of the patterns in Jenny Kee's Nature knits.  This design depicts an Echidna and it is by Leann Jeann Edwards.  The blurb mentions 1992, so it is post 1992.

The kit is very well prepared.  It contains, as well as the detailed colour photograph, a graph of the design, and the yarns are clearly labelled.  The yarns are Anchor tapestry yarns, so they are good quality.  The printing on the canvas is very clear and easy to follow.  My only complaint is that either the yarns are too thick for the canvas (because of the deep shades?) or that the holes in the canvas - 12 to one inch - are too small for the yarn.  I often had to tug hard to get the yarn through the hole, and it spoiled my pleasure.  I experimented with needles with different size eyes to no avail.

I really enjoyed stitching this, and I like the finished cushion.

Stitched 24 October 2013 to 10 June 2014

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Bicolor Chevron

I bought the book Comfort Knitting & Crochet Afghans because it had the pattern for the Bright Star blanket, based on a patchwork pattern, that I had long admired.  Glancing through the book I thought it worth buying because it had many other interesting patterns for blankets.  I know that I would be happy just knitting my standard blankets over and over again, but there are so many patterns around that I would like to try (and there is so much yarn in the yarn store).  So I decided that I would make each pattern in this book, in the order that they come.

This is another aspect of the randomness that I like.  That I do things to a predetermined order so that the weight of making decisions is taken away from me.  I have flexibility in the choice of yarn, because I can only use yarn in the yarn store, and I can interpret the size and tension as best fits.

Looking through the book quickly I had not realised that the yarn used throughout is Berroco Comfort yarn, a nylon acrylic blend in several weights.  As it is an American yarn I have not actually seen it but it does not really matter as I was going to use my own yarns anyway.

The first pattern in the book is called Bicolor chevron by Donna Yacino, and it is a chevron pattern in crochet.  So this follows on from my knitted chevron blanket.  I decided to use my Rowan Cotton Glace which is thinner than the yarn in the pattern, so I used a smaller hook and recalculated the number of stitches.  The pattern said to crochet rows 1 and 2, and then return to the beginning of row 2.  Because I was going to use more than two colours I turned round every row, so my blanket will look different from the pattern.  But this is the kind of decision I can take.

It was an easy pattern to crochet, and so relaxing.  The one thing that bothered me was a hole at the decrease, and I can't say if it is me or the pattern.  You decreased one stitch by skipping two spaces.  I could have decreased two by crocheting two stitches together and avoided a hole, but this was not how the pattern was written.

The two Rowan Cotton Glace yarns came from charity shops, in shades Oyster and Candyfloss.  I had 10 balls of the first and 8.5 of the second, so on their own it was not enough.  I added an unlabelled mercerized yarn, that feels like cotton, in a natural shade, and Anna og Clara cotton yarn, bought very cheaply in Copenhagen.  I used three of the shades in the picture.  It was not mercerized, but feels very nice, and it fits very well.  I did my 3 * 3 stripes, which was probably too long.  I must experiment with shorter stripes.

The pattern did not have an edging, but I wanted to hide the yarn carried along the sides, so I did a row of crab stitch all around.  Other than fastening a few ends there was no more finishing to be done!

I like it.  I so enjoyed the simple crochet.  I must do more crochet.  The colours look good together, and they are the same pastel colours as in my knitted chevron blanket.  On the whole I prefer the knitted one, because the knitted fabric feels nicer to snuggle up inside.  The crochet blanket is good for other uses.

CKCA1 Bicolor Chevron

Yarn: Rowan Cotton Glace, Oyster and Candyfloss shades, unlabelled natural yarn, Anna og Clara cotton yarn, all 100% cotton
Hook:  3.5mm
Tension:  23 sts to 10 cm (how do you measure tension for chevron?)
Weight: 1320 gr
Size:  125 cm by 170 cm
Made: 28 July to 17 December 2014

Monday, 23 February 2015

The next blanket

The next blanket, #166, would be red, and this time I combined it with dark murky colours, grey, brown with some green and blue for depth.  At a distance it has a tinge of purple.  It is darker than shown in the picture.  It is a pleasure knitting this, with a mix of different types of woollen yarns and a bit of mohair.

To get some more red I unravelled this sleeveless pullover.  It has the mark of a Debbie Bliss design, but I have no evidence that it is.  It was knitted competently enough, but there were some ugly knots on the reverse side.  The yarn must be one of the ones with microfibre.  It is pleasant, but it does not have the feel of wool, naturally, and the kinks don't come out in washing.  It is a brighter red than the others used, so it adds a lift.

The second garment is a cotton cardigan knitted in a multiple colours, in Rowan Cable Mercerized Cotton and Sea Breeze Cotton 4 ply; I didn't notice any Cotton Chenille.  The pattern is Harlequin by Susan Duckworth from her book Knitting.  I was worried that the ends would be too short for reuse, but they are not.  It was easy to unravel as the ends were just woven in, not knotted, but it did take time.

And here is my version of Shaun the Sheep, very nicely knitted in handspun wool.  He has character - I love his expression and the hat.  Found in a charity shop.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Account for 2014

I was horrified to see how much yarn I bought in 2014, when I added it all up.  I went back to look at my account for the previous year, and I had completely forgotten what I said then.  I had roughly had the guidelines I set then at the back of my mind, but they had allowed me to buy more yarn rather than restrict me.

Even February and March, when my rules should have been fresh in my mind, were among the heaviest months along with the autumn months.  Part of my temptation, something that I didn't realise in my account, was knitted items that could be turned into non-standard blankets.  There are so many patterns that I would like to knit and that would be suitable for blankets and I buy yarn, or knits, for them.  And then there are the ones I buy because of the quality of the yarn.  I dread to think how many blankets I have yarn for.

The second group of yarns are those that are so nice that I want to use them for garments for myself to wear.  The trouble with them is the difficulty of getting around to deciding on a pattern, to cast on and then to knit.  I have timetables for the blankets and time spent on other knitting means delays.  It is stressful ...

I had a day or two considering, again, that this year will be one when I don't buy yarn, but I realised very soon how unrealistic it is.  So I will continue, along the lines set down last year, and no doubt I will be in the same situation next year.

My output in 2014 looks extremely good - 18.5kg, the most I have ever achieved.  But that is on paper only.  It is because of the four five blankets unfinished in 2013 that I finished earlier in the year, and when I take the average of 2014 and 2013 it comes to 13.9kg which is in line with the average of previous years.  So it is pleasing that I am maintaining output.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

The next blanket

I got the yarns for this blanket together without any clear idea of the colours.  I wanted it to be light medium with blue.  I had an idea to include a thin contrast yarn, but the bright cyclamen I had in mind did nothing.

The pumpkin coloured Patons Purple Heather Fingering - an old 4 ply favourite - on the other hand looked just right.  The eight one ounce balls that I have should be enough for every third row.

This grey mohair turned out very nicely, as well.  The colour disappears and you see the halo only.  It is Charisma mohair - with colours by Adrian of Edinburgh.  And I like the other wool with a piper on the label, Torpedo Shetland type wool.

I  unravelled this alpaca cardigan.  It is obviously machine knitted with a label saying Rowlands.  It had a satin lining and shoulder pads, both easy to remove.  The seams had been sewed together by machine, ending with an overcast stitch, but not serged.  It was impossible to undo, and I had to cut, cutting into the yarn a number of times.  The yarn consists of two thin yarns, so thin that I would not try to separate them.  It is nice alpaca, and it came out completely straight after washing, but I wish I had not bought it.  It is too thin and the lengths are too short.  There are too many short lengths in the yarn store; it will take me forever to get rid of them.

The second garment was this Kaffe Fassett vest in the Sawtoothed stripe pattern from Glorious Knitting.  I wrote about it here earlier.  The pattern has been made simpler by doing the rows between the saw tooths in a single yarn, instead of stripes.  The saw tooths have been done by the fair isle method, carrying three or four strands in one row making it very thick.  Most of the yarns are acrylic or synthetic, so this is no great addition to the yarn store.  Unravelling was not even very satisfying, because of the fair isle method used.

Knitting this blanket is very satisfying.  I love the colours, there are no awkward yarns, and very little non-natural fibres.  And it uses up a lot of odd blues.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Beth Russell Orange border by William Morris: tapestry cushion

I found this kit in a charity shop at an incredibly low price.  It included everything - project bag, instructions, printed canvas, yarn, needle.  I had looked at these William Morris kits earlier, but the price had put me off.

It had already been started - about 15 per cent had been done.  I was pleased to see that the originator did the work in the same order that I would, starting with the shade at the top of the chart - except for white - and working downwards.  Her tent stitch was disorganised with an untidy reverse.  I decided to use half cross stitch as I usually do, despite the instructions.  I thought it does not matter as a cushion will not get heavy use, and it worked even though occasionally stitches disappeared in the weave of the canvas.  I worked it on a frame, but the finished work still had a slight slant.

The instructions were very clear about the numerous shades of green and easy to follow.  It turned out that one shade was missing - the one in use when the work was abandoned.  I went to Liberty who sell the kits to buy more, but they don't sell the Appleton crewel yarn used and they referred me to Delicate Stitches in Kentish Town.  It is a lovely shop with an impressive range of embroidery threads.  I had to walk past them with averted eyes, but they did have the shade I needed at a very reasonable price.

The blank middle was supposed to have space for your initials and year, or alternatively there was a pattern for bees, but I decided to leave it blank.  I enjoyed the stitching very much, but it did take a very long time.  That and the cost would put me off doing another one.

So I finished it in October last year, having started in in April 2012, and then I took a year looking for suitable fabric for the back of the cushion.  I wanted a dark navy velvet, but I couldn't find any.  I didn't trust the internet to get the colour right.  In the end I went for this navy corduroy, but it is not quite right.  It is a very nice cushion, and I like it very much.  It is obvious from the pictures that the stitching is far from perfect, but I don't mind it.  And I fell in love with Appleton crewel wool - I would very much like to use it again.