Wednesday, 23 August 2017

The next blanket

The next blanket, #187, is another dark one, this one without dark red, so greens and blues on top of the standard very dark shades, black, grey and brown. I started on the black unlabelled Rowan wool DK yarn that I rejected for the broken rib blanket, every fourth row, but it blends in so well that you don't notice it.
I unrevelled a Marion Foale cardigan. You still see her knits in charity shops quite frequently, sometimes with a very high price, sometimes as for this one, reasonably priced. It is plain stocking stitch with moss stitch trims, knit in a thin 4 ply wool. The wool was extremely pleasant after the wash. The kinks came out, and it is soft.


Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Broken rib blanket C32

The reason for this blanket was the next yarn in line in my spreadsheet of yarn acquisitions. I was looking for a nice easy quick pattern, and I found or devised this broken rib pattern. It is very easy – row 1 knit row 2 knit 1 purl 1. Repeat.
The yarn was Jaeger Luxury Spun Double Knitting with Alpaca. I had found a pack of 10 balls more than ten years ago. I knew the yarn well, having knitted a sweater in the 4 ply version in the same brown shade many years earlier. I decided that if I had hung on to it for so many years without finding a better purpose it may as well become a blanket. The alpaca content was 10%.

I then looked for a second double knitting yarn to go with it. The black Rowan DK yarn that I had in mind didn't seem good enough quality to go with it. Perhaps it was one of the earlier Rowan yarns, and I think at one time they did a light DK yarn. So instead I used the Christian de Falbe pink Chandos yarn because of my difficulties with bright pink. A good opportunity to get rid of it. I had 370 grams. The label said 80% lambswool 20% merino. I once knitted a favourite cardigan from this brand in a shetland wool plied with a metallic yarn. It worked well.
Thirdly for softness I was going to look through my store of Rowan Kidsilk Haze, but first I came across some pink Wendy Air – 70% mohair 30% nylon – that I had forgotten about. The colour suited very well. There were five 25 gram balls.
I could work out that I needed to supplement the pink wool so I found two balls of Patons Pure Wool DK in a dark red shade, for borders.

I thought putting the three yarns together would make a thick loose fabric, and it did, on 9 mm needles, and it became soft and slinky. Nice for a blanket. The knitting was quick, but I didn't enjoy it much. I prefer knitting with thinner needles. I stopped when I ran out of the pink DK, and finished with the second ball of Patons DK. It is not large enough for a standard blanket but it would be nice for a throw.
The reverse has a quite different pattern and texture.
I should have foreseen that I would run out of the Wendy Air, so I had to add some Uppingham mohair in red. I hope it looks as if it was the intention from the start.

I cast on with Pony circular needles and it was hard going. I have previously had problems with Pony needles, so I avoid them, but it was what came to hand. I realised why it was difficult. The tip was tapering on the part where I formed the stitch so pushing the stitches along was difficult as the tip got thicker. I found some metal circulars and the knitting went much more smoothly on them. Does this mean that I will have problems with lace needles as well? The yarn shop assured me they would work as well as ordinary circulars.
Broken rib blanket C32
Pattern: my own
Yarn: Jaeger Luxury Spun DK with Alpaca
           Christine de Falbe Chandos DK
           Patons Pure Wool DK
           Wendy Air
           Uppingham Lace Mohair
Needles: 9 mm
Size: 135 cm by 120 cm
Weight: 975 gr
18 May to 13 June 2017



Wednesday, 14 June 2017

The next blanket

The next blanket, #186, was based on a regular stripe of bright red. I added more red, rust, brown, grey and some blue, and it all merges together to look red from a distance. This is another blanket using solely yarn already unravelled and odd balls.


Some nice handspun grey. It doesn't fit so well with the rest, but once started I can't undo it.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Rowan Summer Tweed Striped Sweater

I spent last summer knitting this. I have knitted with Rowan Summer Tweed before, and it is one of my favourite yarns. I planned to knit a striped sweater from the odd balls that I bought from charity shops.

I started with a top down sweater, but it didn't work out. I got muddled with the striping because I had not worked out a design in advance. And the tension was wrong so it was too large.  It reminded me of the awkwardness of doing stripes in a seamless garment, because of the bulk where you carry yarns along.

I didn't give up. I started again with a plain seamed design in my usual 3 row stripes. No pattern, just back and front with 3 needle cast off joining the shoulders, and then picking up stitches for the sleeves, knitting downwards. So the only seams were the side and sleeve seams. Very simple. This time I had planned the stripe pattern.  The colours on the body and the sleeves didn't match deliberately - because there wasn't enough yarn.
The knitting was easy. Finished I tried it on, and decided it was no good. The sleeves were too narrow – I had thought so when I was knitting, but I hadn't got a tape measure out to check. The rib pattern at the bottom made it flare over the hips, just where it was not needed. This was at the beginning of September. I couldn't decide what to do with it – I didn't have the heart to start again, and I didn't want to give it away either. So I put it away for the winter.
This spring I got it out again, and tried it on. It wasn't that bad. The sleeves grew comfortable with wearing, and I could ignore the extra fabric over the hips. So now I wear it, and I rather like it. I like the texture of the yarn, and I like the stripe pattern. It goes to show that knitting adapts to your body, given a chance.
Rowan Summer Tweed striped sweater
Pattern: my own
Yarn: Rowan Summer Tweed silk cotton
Needles: 4.5 mm
Size: Small
Weight: 380 gr
7 June to 3 September 2016

Monday, 22 May 2017

Thr nrxt blanket

The next blanket, #185, was going to be pink, but when it came to it there was not so much pink yarn any more. I added blues and the usual background colours of grey, beige and light brown. The blanket looks subdued with no strong contrasts. The strong pinks blend in nicely. There is angora for softness and some alpaca.

I decided not to unravel any knitted items this time, because there is so much yarn set aside for the standard blankets. In theory the store should go down with every blanket, because one knitted item is on average one third of the weight of a blanket. What actually happens is that I add to it by buying yarn for the blankets. Any yarn, as long as it a natural fibre and the right weight. I have trained myself now to consider the colour as well, and to reject colours that won't look good in the blankets. I enjoy trying out odd balls of yarn this way. But the store just increases...

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Willow crochet blanket


I like the colourful blankets made from crochet blocks that have become popular in recent years. This one bought in a charity shop was a favourite, especially because of the white surround. I did granny squares myself many years ago, and I was looking for a different pattern now.

The yarn I had in mind was Rowan's Siena 4 ply, a cotton yarn. I like cotton for crochet because of its crispness, and it is easy to unravel. The yarn comes in several guises, Jaeger, Rowan Classic and plain Rowan. I bought the main lot ten years ago when the Jaeger version was discontinued, and then I had in mind to knit cotton fair isle. I tried, and it didn't work out. Since then I have bought more in charity shops. The ones without a label may well be a different brand. Some are thicker, and I wonder it they are Cotton Glace. Some are not mercerised, and they are probably something else. In the end I had a large number of shades. I excluded the darker and the white ones. I had 13 balls of the Clover shade, and I set it aside for surrounds.

My book of crochet blocks is Jan Eaton's 200 crochet blocks. There are other books, but I think this one is comprehensive enough. I briefly thought about doing a number of different blocks, to try out patterns. But there were so many shades that I thought it would be too confusing for the eye, and I looked for one block. My criteria were that it would have no more than three shades, that it would be crocheted in the round, and that it would appeal to me. There were just a few candidates in the end, and I decided on the Willow pattern.

The pattern was easy to memorise and enjoyable to crochet. Somebody on Ravelry had found problems with round 5, and I did too. The sample block seemed fine, but with the rest I was uneasy – it didn't seem right. I ignored it though, because it looked OK at a quick glance.

I worked out an elaborate system to choose shades for the blocks, to achieve as many combinations as possible. I really do not like having to select things at random by myself. I didn't set out to eliminate duplicates, but I may have, because so far I haven't come across any.

I had decided to do the last two rounds in the Clover shade, and to use the final round to crochet the blocks together. So I did all the blocks first and arranged them trying to avoid putting similar blocks together. This is a stage that I should have spent more time on. It would be restful for the eye if it could discern some kind of order, but here it can't. It might have worked better with fewer shades.

When I calculated the number of blocks needed I was under the impression that the last two rounds would be trebles. They were in fact double crochet, so the blocks, and the whole blanket, ended up smaller than I wanted. I would have had enough yarn for more blocks, but possibly not for the Clover surrounds, so I left it small. I had had enough of the crochet, and I wanted it finished. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't knitting.

I devised the last round with spaces for attaching to the next block, and it worked well. I liked the ridge between the blocks that appeared naturally. I did an edging of several rounds of double crochet, with one cyclamen round, and ended with a round of crab stitch

I like looking at the finished blanket. It is heavy for a blanket. I doubt I will ever do anything similar again. I will do crochet, but in rows so that it is quicker. Each block seemed to take such a long time, and then joining them. It all took ages, and I had to set myself a target, to finish it in a reasonable time. So that I can go back to knitting.

Willow crochet blanket

Pattern: Jan Eaton 200 crochet blocks – 189 Willow
Yarn: Jaeger/Rowan Classic/Rowan Siena 4 ply cotton
Hook: 2.5mm
Size: 130cm wide 165 cm long
Weight: 1630gr

30 November 2016 to 31 March 2017


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The next tapestry cushion

I think I bought the kit for this while I was still buying anything indiscrimately. It is from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, from a Kate Greenaway drawing. I saw the possibility of doing the letters in blocks immediately. I was not going to do mice, even clothed ones, even I could have. The pale print on the canvas had faded badly but not the dark coloured letters.

I planned the colours of the blocks, and started stitching in the middle of the canvas deciding on the actual shapes as I went along. I learnt a valuable lesson in the process. I am not much good at planning colours. I took shades into account but not tone. I did two strands of different colours together. I restricted myself to the yarns provided in the kit (and it annoyed me that the shades had been cut to different lengths) so one was always white. It would be more successful if you did similar tones together.
I didn't use a frame so the canvas slanted.  I straightened it a little by doing some rudimentary blocking when it was finished, but I relied on it not being noticeable after putting it over a cushion pad.  The pad by the way is from John Lewis, and after finding that feathers escape from their feather and down pads I now buy ones with polyester filling.  They are a bit too round and bouncy from being overfilled.

Afterwards I could see how it could have been improved with more foresight. I had planned to do some patterns of my own, but now I am doubtful.

On the whole I enjoyed the stitching, but I don't think much of the result. I like it because it is my own. It took longer than previous cushion covers because I no longer stuck to my decision to do a bit every day.

Stitched 8 June 2015 to 31 August 2016; finished cushion 25 February 2017