Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Hat and gloves

I find it difficult to concentrate enough to knit small items. I have been in need of new fingerless mittens for several years after the ones I knitted nine years ago have slowly worn out. I have darned them several times , occasionally with non-matching yarn, but now they are really beyond repair. They illustrate the foolishness of using Kidsilk Haze in items with heavy use.

It occurred to me that Noro Sekku, a lace weight yarn with cotton and silk, would be a good choice for light mittens that I could use autumn and spring on my cold hands. Because it is so thin I added a strand of other laceweight yarn. I like to think of it as Debbie Bliss Rialton Lace, but I could be wrong.
I found the pattern in the book Noro Accessories. It has a random cables, but as I'm incapable of doing randomness without devising an intricate system to achieve it, I decided to leave the cables out altogether. I used the stitch count and thumb shaping from the pattern. It worked fine. The panel of stocking stitch on the sides didn't end up in quite the right place, due to my misreading the pattern I expect. The yarns worked fine, too, and the mittens are very comfortable to wear, even when it is quite cold. The colour repeat is longer than the yarn needed for two mittens. They look much neater after washing and wearing.

Random cabled mittens, Noro Sekku and Debbie Bliss Rialto lace, size 2.0 mm dp needles, 30 gr
Knitted 16 September to 31 October 2016

The hat was part of a Christmas present, ie the present consisted of an offer to knit a hat. Since the offer was not accepted until it got cold after Christmas I didn't start knitting until then.
I found the pattern in Erika Knight's book Men's knits – Striped hat. For yarn I chose Rowan Hemp Tweed, 75% wool and 25% hemp. I wanted to use double pointed needles, but as I had given away my set of 4.5 mm I had to use one size smaller, so I had to recalculate the stitch count. The row
tension had changed as well, so I adjusted the row number of each colour, and I did the shaping every 3 instead of every 2 rows. And I started from the crown, and did the shaping a different way. So in the end, there was very little left of the pattern.
It turned out to be a very useful hat after all. It fits. I liked knitting with the yarn. It lacks the pure wool feel, but it is nice. It would be good for a lighter sweater than wool.
Striped hat, Rowan Hemp Tweed, shades Pumice and Granite, size 4 mm dp needles, 62 gr
Knitted 30 December 2016 to 11 January 2017

Friday, 27 January 2017

The next blanket

 The next blanket, #182, was not going to be any particular colour.  To the red I added brown, blue, green and grey.  I'm pleased with the result.  The colours merge nicely, with none too prominent.

I unravelled this simple hand knitted grey top.  A lace knitted yoke with a slit for neck and stocking stitch body stitches picked up and knitted downwards.  It fitted me perfectly, so I wore it for a while.  It is a 4 ply weight yarn knitted on large needles.  I think the yarn is a wool alpaca blend.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Account for 2016

I did quite well as far as buying less yarn went in 2016, until late November.  I had cut my charity shop budget in half, and I managed to stay within it, and it went towards buying half the amount of yarn.  This is until late November when I found 19 hanks of aran weight wool alpaca yarn in natural grey.  I bought it without hesitation while realising what it did to my budget.  After that I gave up, and bought whatever I liked.  The total was still less than half of the previous year.

Another thing that undid me was purchases outside charity shops, mainly in John Lewis.  They started selling odd balls of Rowan wool at charity shop prices.  If I would buy it in a charity shop, of course I would buy it in John Lewis.

I found that the weight of finished items was smaller than 2015, and that was as expected.  It was still nearly 20.5kg, and I'm very happy with it.  I have stopped stressing.  I will take time over knitting and enjoy it.

I had an idea that, in 2017, I would focus on weight of yarn bought rather than budget.  Unfortunately I went to John Lewis in the second week, and spent all of my January allowance there.  So now I think I should go back to my December state and buy anything I like.  With storage restraints at the back of mind and the realisation that I will have to knit all of this sometime perhaps I will refrain from excessive purchases.

Friday, 9 December 2016

CKCA3 Retro

This is the next blanket from the Comfort Knitting and Crochet Afghans book, number 3 Retro.  It is by Norah Gaughan, one of my favourite designers.  The pattern is plain coloured, but as it is unusual that to come across one and half kilos of the same yarn in a charity shop I had to use my standard measure of a three yarn stripe.

I had long earmarked the first yarn, Jaeger Matchmaker Sport in white, 14 balls of 50 gr.  It was a bad buy, because it was expensive and because it is difficult to match white, so it had been unused for six years.  I was obvious in need of yarn when I bought it.  For the second yarn I used the lovely pale green that I unravelled for blanket #177.  It was too good for standard blankets. I bought the third specifically for this project because I thought it would go well with the others.  It was Rowan Yarns Cashsoft Aran in a nice beige shade.

I checked the Ravelry entry for the project before I started, and noted the errata.  But the link led to a blank page, so I was none the wiser.  It felt unsafe to start off on a pattern where anything could be wrong.  There was one obvious mistake - a key was wrong.  Surely there was other mistakes?  The stitches didn't match in one place when you started a new pattern repeat.  On Ravelry some knitters had corrected it, others hadn't, so I felt safe matching them.  Was there anything else?  I am not sure I got the number of rows between pattern repeats right, but I did them in a way that made sense to me.

I found manipulating the stitches difficult, too, and at one point wondered if I would have to give up.  But this project - to do all the patterns in the book - was supposed to be a challenge, so I continued.  The difference between knitting through the back loop and knitting through the back of the stitch still escapes me.  Because I do continental knitting?  But my version of the pattern looked pretty similar to the picture in the book, so I thought it was OK.  I was surprised that Ravelry users had given the pattern an easy rating.  I thought it was difficult.

To avoid seaming I knitted the five panels in one.  I inserted five rib stitches between each panel, partly to make the blanket wider and partly to made a divider between the panels.  I think I would have found it boring to knit five identical panels.  I did the same number of repeats as in the pattern which produced a shorter than full length blanket.

I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed the knitting once I had sorted out the problems and got going.  Partly this was due to the yarns - it felt different from the numerous strands in the standard blanket.  The Jaeger yarn was thicker than the other two, and it would have been better with something thinner.  The Cashsoft turned out to be my favourite.  I had stayed clear of the cashmere synthetic blend yarns before, but it was lovely to knit with.  The green was the thinnest.

I recalculated the number of stitches required for the border, slightly awkwardly with a pattern repeat of 8 stitches.  I cast off in pattern on the wrong side because I wanted a stretchy edge, but it turned out to flare slightly.

I am pleased with the result.  No doubt it would have been better in one single yarn.  Washing it made the texture disappear but I liked it better afterwards.  Best of all, I am so pleased with my efforts, that I managed to follow the pattern, more or less, and that I persevered with a difficult pattern stitch.

CKCA3 Retro by Norah Gaughan
Yarn: Jaeger Matchmaker Sport white wool 100%

           RY Cashsoft Aran beige wool 57% microfiber 33% cashmere 10%
           unravelled green presumed wool 100%
Needles:  5 mm
Tension:  18 sts to 10 cm
Weight: 1545 gr
Size:  160 cm by 145 cm
Made: 14 August to 19 November 2016

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

The next blanket

In the next blanket I aimed to finish more of the bright yellow yarn, but it turned out that there was not so much left.  So I turned to pink instead.  I added a strand of the bright pink cashmere to every row.  It makes the blanket thicker, and the feel of cashmere is obvious although not as much as I had thought.  The other colours are mainly beige or light brown, and something urged me to include some blue, grey and green.

I unravelled the next Susan Duckworth Basketweave sweater - I wrote about these earlier.  I had not realised before that this one was knitted mainly in 4 ply wool.  The colours are similar to the pattern and they are the same brand, so I assume they are Rowan.  Thin yarn is always useful, so this is not a problem.  The exceptions are the dark grey, a synthetic, and the crosses which are in DK wool.

The blanket is pink.  I quite enjoy it.  My next aim is to finish the pinks and reds, and then my blankets will be dull and lovely.  I realise now that when I buy wool I check the quality first and that colour is secondary, so I have started reminding myself to consider the colour as well.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The next blanket

The next blanket, #180, is another pale one with white.  The white is not that prominent any more.  This is another attempting to get rid off bright yellow yarns, and there are some nice subtler ones as well.  I added pink and beige, and off white as well.

I have already written about the Kaffe Fassett Outlined Star child's cardigan, and now I have unravelled it.  It was all in acrylic 4 ply yarns, and it made me wonder why I went to the effort, as the yarns would add little to the blankets.  It was knitted in fair isle, with rows having at least three yarns carried along, so I just pulled.  A good thing acrylic doesn't break easily.

I started using this box of Patons Fuzzy-wuzzy white yarn, 55 per cent angora and 45 wool.  It came in a box with a label saying 10 balls, but the box contained 12.  Each ball is just 10g.  It is lovely.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

The next blanket

The next blanket, #179, is totally dark with no specific main colour.  I used yarns in dark brown, green, grey, burgundy, navy and black.  I like the way they all blend together.  There are a number of rough feeling Shetland and other yarns that will soften with washing, but now you notice the contrast with some nice merino wool.  I have included mohair, alpaca and cashmere for contrast, with a little cotton and linen.  It feels nice to be able to use up a number of yarns.

I unravelled this cardigan knitted from a 1980s or 90s pattern presumably.  I had a quick look for the pattern without success.  The yarns are Rowan.  It has been knitted intarsia style with I think Grainy Silk as background.  Compared with the 4 ply Light Tweed used double and DK yarns in the motifs the Grainy Silk feels too thin.  There is some thin cotton chenille too.  It was easy to unravel, and the yarns are nice.