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.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

The next blanket

The next blanket was a dark one, this one with blues and greens.  It is very similar to the last dark green one, #154, because the yarns are much the same.  I unravelled three sweaters to add more yarn, to continue using the ones in the yarn store.

The first one was hand knitted, from very good quality double knitting wool, some blended with mohair.  This sweater looks as if it has never been worn, so it seems such a shame, that it was given to a charity shop and that it ended up unravelled.  It is well knitted too, the shoulders joined by three needle cast off and the intarsia faultlessly done.  The yarn is so lovely.

The second was an Abercrombie and Fitch shetland sweater.  I bought this, intending it to be used in one of my crochet blanket, but the colour was too dark.  Here it is perfect.  I do like this kind of shetland yarn, and it is shame I don't buy more of it.  I suspect I think it is boring - no fun to unravel, ordinary yarn.

The third was a Per Una cashmere sweater, brown v-neck.  I wore this for several years, but the style seems dated now, and I don't wear waist length sweaters any more.  Lovely yarn.

I am getting no further with my backlog of blankets to be finished.  That is, I keep up - for each blanket I finish I add another one to the backlog.  Four remain.

Monday, 10 March 2014

The next blanket

The next blanket, #159, turned out to be very bright.  I wanted to use up the yellow coloured double knitting Greenock wool, and I added bright greens and orange.  I think it is a good idea to put all the bright colours together, but it does taking used to.  I enjoyed knitting it after all.  There will still be some yellow left, more than enough for another blanket.  And green and orange.

Despite what I said about ribbed Jigsaw sweaters I allowed myself to buy one more.  They provide such useful background colour.  And soon afterwards I found this one in beige.  I would have preferred a darker colour, but it goes very well here.  That is you can hardly see it, but I think it adds to the uniformity.

The second garment to unravel was this cardigan by Jamie and Jesse Seaton.  It does not appear in their book, but I saw it in an Ehrman catalogue from the early 1990s.  It was available as a kit or as ready knitted.  I hope this one was knitted from a kit.  The first front and sleeve were difficult to unravel.  There were lots of tight knots, unnecessary short lengths and in places yarn seemed to have swiss darned on top of a previous row, and sometimes a row or two sewn.  I really don't understand how it was done.  The other three parts were better
knitted and easier to unravel.  Had the knitting been better I would have felt worse about unravelling it.  The yarn was Rowan soft 4 ply cotton I think.

The third was a Marks and Spencer orange cashmere scarf.  The colour fitted right in.

My yarn diet is not going too well.  I do stick to items on the list of allowed items, but as it is so broad it is easy to find things that fit.  I have found one thing.  I should look at colour first, and if it is bright, or white or black, I don't buy.  That works so easily.