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.

Friday, 11 December 2015

The next blanket

The next blanket, #173, is not very nice.  I feel compelled to use every inch of yarn in the yarn store, and in this one I added all the bright greens and blues together with some very nice green and blues.  I like the browns that go with them.  A yarn that disturbs me too is the brown beige white random striped Jaeger Spiral Spun but I could find no other place for it.  One day I may learn to discard yarn.

I unravelled this Peruvian Connection cardigan.  It is a nice flower intarsia pattern, in my favourite colours, brown beige red.  Unravelling was a strain.  The ends had been securely tied together and sewn inside themselves.  The yarn consists of three strands of very thin cotton yarn, the three together not thick enough for DK weight, so I have divided them.  I am pleased with the way the yarn appears in the knitting, but it is debatable if it is worth the effort.  I tried wearing the cardigan.  It is the right size, but it is just not me.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

The next blanket


The next blanket, #172, is another light coloured one.  I have decided to stop avoiding the white yarns and instead including as many as I can.  The blanket does in fact not look very white in the end.  I added pink and apricot as well as yellow and beige, and I'm quite pleased with it.  There are no darker shades that look out of place.  The boucle yarn from the first sweater that I unravelled gives it texture, and also pink and apricot mohair.

I am really pleased with the boucle yarn.  It comes from this sweater, with a label that says Brian Barnes English Lakeland.  The sweater is obviously quite old, possibly from the 1960s or 1970s, and I think machine knitted in fisherman's rib.  When unravelled I could see that the yarn was used doubled, one strand in boucle and the other in a thin 2 ply, both from the same undyed wool.  The wool is so nice.

The second sweater was another Susan Duckworth - with a label saying so.  The pattern is nice, garlands of flowers with broad plain coloured bands between.  The yarn is a 4 ply cotton, at a guess Rowan's Mercerized Cotton.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Chunky slip stitch blanket C23

 This blanket started from one 2 oz hank of yarn, a chunky yarn from the 1950s judging from the label, Argyll Wools Bulkee, in dark green.  A few months later I found a second hank of the same yarn, in the same shade in a different shop some miles away.  So I started collecting chunky woollen yarns in matching shades, and came up with two hanks of Jaeger Naturgarn in a pale rust and two hanks of brown Icelandic yarn from a French company, Laine d'Islande from Laines Berger du Nord.

I planned to find the rest from the yarn store, but just before I started knitting I found 16 more hanks of the Jaeger Naturgarn, this time in a mustard yellow.  The shade went well with the other yarns.  So now I had plenty for a full sized blanket for a single bed.

My plan was to knit the blanket in the same way as gungstolsmattan, with fringing at each end so there would be no need to fasten ends.  But with so much of one single yarn that was no longer necessary, so I looked around for another pattern.  A slip stitch pattern still seemed a good idea, but I would rather try something else than do linen stitch again.  I looked in my copy of the Harmony Guide volume III.  There were a number of suitable patterns, and it was difficult to choose, so I went for the first one II.1 on page 24.

My pattern looks different, because I used three strands instead of two, but I rather prefer the lozenge shapes of this one with the slipped stitches forming crosses.  Knitting was easy, as long as you kept track of the stitches, and I enjoyed it, partly for the pleasure of knitting with nice chunky wool.  I had to add some Annabel Fox chunky brown wool in the middle, from my Geo Modern Throw.

All in all I am very happy with it.  There are two things.  The pattern was supposed to symmetrical from the centre, but I kept knitting without measuring, so it doesn't, and I really didn't want to undo it when I realised.  The other thing is that I wished I had tried larger needles, as it might be even nicer knitted more loosely.

Chunky slip stitch blanket C23
Jaeger Naturgarn, Laine d'Islande from Laines Berger du Nord, Argyll Wools Bulkee, Annabel Fox Donegal Tweed, all 100% wool
size 6.5 mm needles
125 cm by 175 cm, 1900 gr
Knitted 14 May to 31 August 2015