Sunday, 19 October 2014

Patchwork blanket C17

The name is misleading.  The pattern is called Patchwork shawl, so that is why I chose the name, but my selection of yarn does not make it look like patchwork.

It started with the yarn.  After the baby blanket in King Cole Mirage I could not resist buying the four balls of orange King Cole Riot.  I presume the name is because of the bright shades.  Later I found two more balls of the same dye lot in a small yarn shop so I bought those too.  That would be enough for a child's blanket.  Riot is 70% acrylic and 30% wool, but it still feels nice, and it is the same single ply as Mirage.

I intended this for bus knitting.  The garterstitch bias blocks are pleasant to knit, but joining them takes time, so I thought that knitting strips would require less joining, and would still be portable enough for the bus.  So I came across this book - The Beatrix Potter Needlepoint Book by Pat Menchini published in 1990.  Among the embroidery patterns are a couple of knitting patterns, and I liked this one, for the Patchwork shawl, knitted in wavy strips.  It is actually hexagons - first you increase each side and then decrease.  The pattern calls for change of yarn at the narrow points, and that created the patchwork effect.  There were yarn overs at each end every two rows to create a lighter piece.  I relied on the striping effect of the yarn to create a more uneven patchwork.

The pattern uses double knitting wool on size 4.5mm needles.  I used 3.75mm on Riot which is a thin DK yarn, so I calculated the number of stitches needed to do one strip per ball, and get a blanket of the right proportions.  I underestimated - I could have done broader strips and still got a good sized blanket.  Because of my tighter tension I did increases/decreases every four rows instead of every two.  Later on I found another ball of Riot, in a different yarn lot, and it shows that the middle strip is lighter than the others.

The knitting was fine and relaxing.  The pattern joins the strips using an oversewing stitch.  I wanted to see if I could crochet them together, and after some experimention I found a method that works and does not look too bad.  I finished the blanket with one row of crab stitch.  The joining was made easier because of the yarn overs.

Overall I am quite pleased with this blanket, although I do think it looks clumsy.  This must be the end of my knitting with King Cole synthetic yarns, although I must say that I am impressed with their premium acrylic.  It feels nice, if you must do synthetic.  A lot of blanket patterns use synthetic yarns, and this would be my choice.

I am not a fan of Beatrix Potter.  Anthromorphism did not appeal to me as a child nor does it now.  The book is based on BP's paintings, and few of the patterns uses the familiar figures from her children's books.  There are a number of very attractive needle point projects.  Recently I have seen Pat Menchini's patterns in knitting magazines.  Unexciting I thought, until I saw her pattern for a peplum sweater.

Patchwork child's blanket C17
King Cole Riot, acrylic 70% wool 30%, DK weight
size 3.75mm needles
125 cm by 95 cm, 680 gr
Knitted 7 July 2013 to 20 August 2014

Sunday, 5 October 2014

The nexf blanket

The next blanket, #163, is a dark one.  I always enjoy these, particularly if, like this one, I manage to avoid bright colours.  There are plenty of dark yarns in the yarn store, and because they are dark it is unlikely that the shades will clash.  The lighter grey yarn that does show up is the angora yarn that I'm trying to finish.  It adds softness, but the unevenness disturbs a little.

The first sweater that I unravelled was this one with a hunting scene.  This is the second from the same pattern that I found, and I knew it was a Rowan design because the first one had a Rowan label inside the collar.  This one is exactly the same pattern as the first one, the same yarns, the same colours, but it is knitted with the yarn doubled so it is larger, and because it is knitted to a tighter tension it feels less nice.

I like using yarn from picture patterns because it will come in unequal lengths, and that is good for a blanket using random lengths of wool.  I have done it so many times now, so that when I wind yarn into smaller balls they tend to end up the same length.  But this sweater - the larger one in doubled yarn - has not been knitted intarsia style.  The background yarn has been carried along behind the motives.  I didn't notice that when I bought it.  Well, there is plenty of lovely Rowan double knitting wool in it anyway.  The smaller one is in intarsia.  I am postponing unravelling it because it fits me perfectly.

I distinctly remember finding this pattern in an old Rowan magazine as a Kim Hargreaves design, but now I can't find it, so I may be wrong.  The design is attractive, similar to Joseph designs at the time.

The second sweater was a navy Jigsaw mohair nylon blend, 4 ply weight, knitted in a lace aran pattern design as a tunic.  This is from the 1990s, and it is the third I have unravelled.  The yarn is nice, easier to handle than blends with a higher mohair content.  The tunic is nice too.  I considered, briefly, keeping it when I tried it on.

I did find other things when I was looking for the hunting scene pattern.  This sweater is in fact by Kim Hargreaves, Chelsea style from her 1991 book, Kim Hargreaves Collection.  The pattern used Rowan Grainy Silk, Silkstones and Fine Cotton Chenille doubled while mine was knitted in ordinary double knitting wool with some mohair in different colours, but the design was the same.

And this waistcoat is a Louisa Harding pattern, Flamingo, from Rowan Magazine 19.  I was surprised, because the lurex yarn didn't point to Rowan for me, but at the time they did a Lurex yarn.  Also the pattern uses Rowan Cotton Glace, while the yarn used struck me more as Handknit Cotton rather than Cotton Glace.  But Cotton Glace has evolved over the years, I found, when comparing balls of different vintages.  The earlier ones seem thicker because they were less tightly plied.

My collection of Rowan magazines is still incomplete, and I look for the missing ones in charity shops.  A few months ago I came across a pile of half a dozen, so I picked out the ones I wanted.  It was when I came home and looked at them more thoroughly that I noticed Kate Moss's face on the cover of one, number 10.  I never thought I would be able to get hold of that one as you read of it being a collector's item with a hefty price tag.  Well, I did it.  It is not in very good condition, dog eared and worn, but I'm pleased.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The next cardigan - Rowan Summer Tweed

I always liked my Summer Tweed jacket, but six years later I finally decided that it was time for something less bright.  The yarn is one of my favourites, so I looked for a different colour.  Rowan no longer did the dark brown Chocolate shade and I thought the current one, Toast, too reddish.  So I went for the violet Loganberry shade.  Peter Jones didn't have enough, but the assistant helpfully ordered it for me from the John Lewis website.  It came, that is I collected it, the next day.  Ten balls, each individually wrapped, from two different dye lots.  That is not good.  I thought such a good idea - you can order any shade not in stock at the store, but it is no longer a good idea if they don't look out for dye lots.  Luckily Peter Jones had enough of one of my two dye lots in stock, so I could exchange, but it meant an extra trip to the store (all of a 20 minute walk away, and I always enjoy a look around...).

This was in February 2012.  I like starting my summer knitting early - because it takes me at least three months to finish a garment, and it is frustrating that knitting magazines don't have summer patterns until several months later.  This time I was looking for a top down pattern.  I searched the Rowan magazines for one I could adapt, but found nothing suitable.  I like cardigans with collars that button up to the neck, so no curved fronts, no shawl collars.  On Ravelry I found Heidi Kirrmaer's Simple Summer Tweed Top down, albeit for a v-neck sweater, but that I could change.

I found this picture with my three attempts.  I can't remember any more what was wrong with the first two.  I suspect they were either too large or two small.  I continued with the third, until it came time to go away in June.  I thought it was too large a project to take travelling.  I had continued knitting straight after doing the armholes, and when I came back and tried it on I decided that it would look better with increases to flare slightly over the hips.  It seemed too near to the end of summer then, so I put it away.

When I took it out again this spring I had the idea of making it longer in the back instead, so saving having to reknit the body.  And it worked.  I did just a few short rows in the back - you can hardly see them, but it feels much better.  Then I did a garter stitch collar, not very successfully, but I didn't want to spend more time on it then, so I just fastened the ends and that was that.  The buttons came from the button store, from this cardigan.  The colour is just right and the ridges echo the unevenness of the yarn.

I like the cardigan, and I have worn it a lot.  It is a very classic shape, not very elegant, nor a great piece of knitting, but it serves very well.  I will knit more with Summer Tweed, even if Rowan had discontinued it.  I have a very nice collection of shades, and I hope to be able to add more Chocolate.
The third cardigan, the one I started on holiday, is destined not to be completed.

Rowan Summer Tweed top down cardigan

pattern Heidi Kirrmaier

Started 22 February 2014, finished 28 July 2014

Shade Loganberry, 4.5 mm needles, 16 sts to 10 cm, 420 gr

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The next blanket

 The next blanket, #162, is in one of my favourite colour combinations, pink brown grey blue.  When I'm knitting it appears more pink than when I look at it from a distance.  The yarns I use now are nicer than earlier, because I allow myself to refrain from unravelling less appealing items.  Here I use the dark grey angora and pink mohair to give softness, and the Marimekko pink for colour.  There is in fact quite a lot of pink in the yarn store.  I try to avoid, or use up, the bright pink, but it will take a long time.

The next sweater to be unravelled was a Scotch House labelled fair isle sweater.  I don't think it was handknitted because the knitting was too regular and the floats equal lengths.  The shoulders were joined using three needle bind off and the ribbing knitted downwards from picked up stitches.  The pattern consists of three identical bands in four shades, so it is not exciting.  The yarn is a nice shetland, but there remained kinks in the yarn after washing, so it will have been pressed or severely blocked.

The second sweater is a Marks and Spencer man's cashmere in a cable pattern.  The yarn is a bit thicker, nearly 4 ply weight, and very nice to knit with.  The colour is just right.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Crochet blanket C15 using King Cole Mirage wool

I found the yarn for this in a charity shop, very reasonably priced.  I had previously knitted a blanket with it, so I knew I liked it, because of the self striping colour and the single ply construction  and despite its acrylic content - half wool half acrylic.  There were 11 balls, 9 burgundy, one blue and one apricot.  And it was suitable for bus crochet again.
In the previous crochet blanket I had decided that it was a good idea to do the last row in a block in double crochet stitch because it made it easier when joining.  So in Jan Eaton's book 200 crochet squares - my book for crochet block patterns - I found #37 with treble and dc rounds, ending with two dc rounds.  The pattern is for rounds in two colours, but with the self striping yarn I did it in one colour.

The crochet was fine, nice and relaxing.  The disadvantage with doing trebles in a self striping yarn is the abrupt change when you start a new round, so the blocks look slightly lopsided.  This took me by surprise, but I was not inclined to do anything about it.

When all the blocks are done I enjoy arranging them in a pleasing pattern for joining.  The options are numerous, and I don't spend too much time on it.  You can always find better ways when it is finished.  I didn't have enough yarn left to do the joining, so I bought Drops Delight sock wool in similar colours.  To my mind it looks all right.  The Drops is a sock yarn with wool 75% and nylon 25%, so it washes as well as the Mirage.  I joined the blocks by double crochet, and did a border with one round DC one round crab stitch.

It looks OK from the reverse too.

The picture of the finished blanket is not very good, but I am pleased with it, the blanket.  It is nearly large enough for a single bed, or it can be used as a throw.  It is washable.  Doing the crochet was nice, but I think I have done enough with Mirage now.  It is nice to get back to non-synthetic yarns.  This is the last in my back log of blankets to be finished, and that is a relief.

Blanket C15
Pattern:  Jan Eaton 200 Crochet Blocks, Block 37
Yarn:  King Cole Mirage DK weight wool 50% acrylic 50%
Weight: 1100 gr
Measurements: 156 cm by 123 cm
Crocheted:  7 April to 7 July 2013; finished 18 June 2014

Saturday, 5 July 2014

A new cardigan

In the July sales in 2010 - four years already - I bought 10 balls of Rowan Alpaca Cotton  at half price.  I bought it because it was brown, my favourite colour, and the wool was nice and soft.  Two years later I thought I wanted to knit a sweater with it, and I found a good pattern - Mari Muinonen's Maija paita.  I like Mari's patterns, and the winding cables on the front attracted me.  But I didn't want the neck opening, so I tried to knit it round.  I had to give up - there was a diagram in the pattern, but it didn't give the number of stitches at the end of each row, so I got lost.  I unravelled the knitting, and put the yarn away.

The next time I got it out I had decided I wanted a cardigan.  I planned to knit it using the method that I had learnt at Julie Weisenberger's class at the Vogue Knitting Show in Chicago the previous year.  The class was about adjusting a standard cardigan pattern with set in sleeves to be knitted seamlessly (except that the top of the sleeves do need seaming) with shoulders done in English tailoring.  For the standard pattern I used Kim Hargreaves's Fayer from Heartless, luckily designed for Rowan Alpaca Cotton.

The beginning was easy - up to the armholes.  The ribbing and the button band I took from another pattern in the same book, and I am pleased with them.  I am proud of the pockets that I devised myself.  It was putting the sleeves together with the body that caused my problems.  According to the method you work out the numbers of stitches yourself, and I had to redo them several times.  It didn't help that I put the knitting away several times between attempts, so I had forgotten what I did before and my scanty notes did not help.  And I had amended the pattern as well.  The shoulders were tricky, too, and the fussiness of the yarn made it impossible to keep count of stitches.  So in the end I just stuck to what I had, and didn't mind that it was less than perfect.

After all of that I was pleased to find that I had a cardigan that I could actually wear.  It feels nice and warm and comfortable.  The buttons came from a charity shop, and they look too shiny on.

I did not get on with the yarn.  I do know that I prefer smooth yarns, but this felt as if it was coated with some sticky substance.  It was unpleasant to touch.  I wish I had washed it before I started knitting.  Was it reduced because it was seconds?  If so, it should have said so.  I wonder how long I can wear the cardigan before I have to wash it. 

This method, knitting seamless sweaters with set in sleeves, is interesting, and I may try it again.  If I do it will have to be with a smooth yarn, and the key thing is to knit the top part - armholes and shoulders - within a few days so that you don't lose track.

Rowan Alpaca Cotton cardigan
300 gr  5 mm needles 16 sts per 10cm

22 October 2013 to 28 April 2014

Saturday, 21 June 2014

The next blanket

The next blanket, #161, turned out to be white yellow green.  The green does not show at all in the pictures, but it looks nice.  The yellow comes from the Greenock yellow DK wool that appears very bright next to the other wool, but does not look so bad in the blanket.  There is still more to be used but I feel better about it now.  It was a bit too much in #159.  I am getting relaxed about using white as well - there is so much still in the yarn store that I will never get rid of it.

The first sweater that I unravelled had nothing to do with the colours in this blanket.  It was the next one on the list.  I like having the list - it means that I can avoid making decisions and nothing gets left out.  I bought it at the same time as the sweater in #160, so it was obviously by the same knitter, also never used.  This used several shades of nice mohair wool and some DK.  It was easy to unravel, and the yarn so lovely.

I bought the second, a Susan Bristol cardigan, because I wanted the clasps.  Not for any particular purpose now, but because they may come in useful, and new ones are expensive.  It is an American brand, knitted to a traditional Norwegian design.  Unlike the Norwegian ones I see - and there are a lot of Dale of Norway ones around - the armholes in this one are not cut, so it was easy to unravel.  The yarn is thicker than I feared, easily up to 4 ply weight.

And the third was another Marks and Spencer cashmere cardigan.  I tried wearing it for a while, and although the style was comfortable I could not get on with the pale blue colour.  So it went.  Blogger refuses to add the picture now.