Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Birthday resolution

Over the last few years I have managed to keep my yarn buying in check by doing a strict monthly account of how much I have reduced my yarn store by and how much I have added to it.  This was helped by having a financial limit on my spending.

Last year I realised that I could easily spend more on wool, so the financial reasons were removed.  As a result I bought everything I that I wanted in charity shops, and my yarn store grew so quickly that the monthly account became embarrassing, and I stopped doing it.  But I still woke some mornings panicking over the amount of yarn in the store and how I was ever going to use it all up.

I had a birthday a few weeks again, entering a new decade.  A few days later I woke with the idea that I could simply stop buying yarn.  As this coincided with a period of two weeks when I not bought any wool, because I had not seen any I fancied, it seemed a really good idea and a good place to start.  And I would not buy any yarn for the next decade.  A very fitting, a very severe birthday resolution.  A decade of no more yarn buying would reduce my yarn store considerably.  I would possibly get it down to the level where I would buy yarn for specific projects and start knitting straight away.

I could not of course stop buying yarn altogether, so I have given myself an allowance of 250 gr per month.  That does not sound a lot, but it becomes 3 kg per year and 30 kg over the decade.  There are also rules for what I can buy.  I will continue to buy Kaffe Fassett garments, at least if they are knitted with the kind of wool I like reusing.  I will buy pure wool DK in balls with ball bands, all Rowan and Jaeger and probably other brands if I like them.  The same with 4 ply pure wool, but to a lesser extent.  It should be colours that I like using.  Then there are the other Rowan yarns that I collect:  Tapestry, Felted Tweed, Big Wool, Kidsilk Haze.

This went well for another week.  I bypassed some wool that I would otherwise have bought, but nothing that caused me heartache.  Then I found something that fitted within the rules.  A pack of Jaeger Matchmaker Merino 4 ply in a nice pale grey - such a useful colour.  So I bought it, and the 500 gr took care of my monthly allowance for November and December.  Any purchases from the January sales will have to wait until January.

It will be interesting to see how long I can keep this going.  For now it feels fine.  I have got to the point where I have started to reduce my yarn store.  Anything that I knit has to come from the yarn store; it can't be supplemented by purchases.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

I'm knitting Noro

I bought this Noro yarn, Noro Transitions, half price in the July sales four and a half years ago.  It was an impulse buy because I liked the yarn so much.  Since then I have been looking for a pattern to knit with it, without success.  It is a chunky yarn, and patterns for chunky yarns tend to produce big, oversized, garments.  I'm small, and I will drown in anything too big.  This autumn I got tired of waiting to find something, so I took ideas from two patterns and added some of my own and made it into something that I call my own pattern.

I wanted a cardigan or jacket with buttons down the front, with a collar, close fitting over chest and arms and tulip shape below.  The shape came from the Autumn dress pattern in the Knitting October 2010 issue, but with buttons in front and long sleeves and with the skirt made narrower and shorter but with the same aran cables on the yoke.  I followed the top down method in Wendy Barnard's Lettuce coat in her Custom knits book.  My stitch count is nearly the same as both.

It has all gone quite well.  All my knitted garments end up too small, and this one is no exception.  The top down pattern was easy to follow.  It started with provisional cast on for the back yoke.  I used my crochet cast on, and I did it in three sections, so that I could do the shoulders and back neck separately.  Then I knitted the back yoke downwards - the pattern had no shaping for the shoulders or neck.  I have taken few pictures and this is the only one I've got until the ones I took today.  Then I undid the cast on and put the stitches one by one on a needle for the fronts, one at a time.  The exciting part was picking up the stitches for the sleeves, and it worked out OK.  The short rows for shaping the top of the sleeve went fine too.  This is a method I will try again.  And now that I have done it once I will be able to do it without a pattern next time.

Joining front and back and working downwards was easy.  The cables on the yokes don't match perfectly.  I started the diamond in the wrong place on the back so it extends further down than the cables.  Personally I like cables on stocking stitch rather than reverse stocking stitch, so that's how I did it.  At this point I went back to doing the sleeves to see how much yarn they would take.  I know now that there is plenty left, so there was no need to worry.

The bit I enjoyed most was knitting the long rows of stocking stitch, although I find it tiring to knit with large needles.  Now I long for 4 ply knitting!  Overall I'm not very happy with my coat though.  I think the yarn looked better in hanks than knitted.  The stripes are too colourful for my liking.  As I remember it there were other shades available but all of them bright, and I picked this one as my favourite.

Now I only have the bottom ribbing to do, and finishing the right sleeve.  Then I have to devise a collar and pick up and knit the button bands.  And then it will be ready, with no sewing except for a few buttons.  I'm in no hurry now.