Thursday, 1 December 2011

Kaffe Fassett Outlined Star jacket

Nearly thirty years after the publication of Kaffe Fassett's Glorious Knitting his patterns still appear in charity shops.  I had nearly given up hope of finding another one, three years after the last one, when I came across this jacket.  The pattern is Outlined Star, although this precise jacket does not appear in the book.  The one there is in a yellow colour way, and the  yarns aren't given.

The colours in this one are pale, some even fluorescent, although that does not come out in my pictures.  The strong mauve shade slightly spoils the effect, and I would have left it out.  The yarns are without mistake Rowan yarns, so perhaps it was knitted from a kit.  It is knitted to a chunky yarn tension, very thick, with a chunky tweed used singly, DK wool combined with 4 ply and the 4 ply yarns trebled in many places.  There are three yarns per row, and the three are woven in with every stitch so it is very thick.  The jacket shows no sign of wear so I suspect that it may have been too uncomfortable to wear.  It is big - with chest circumference of 124 cm.

Altogether it weighs over 1340 gr.  In theory that would be enough for one blanket, but not knitted at a chunky yarn tension.  So if I want to use all the yarn, or most of it, for one blanket I will have to combine it with other yarn.  I haven't decided yet.  It will go into the wool store with all the rest.

And just because I like it so much two pictures of blanket #143, now that it is finished.  I have crocheted an edging, all the ends have been fastened, and it has been washed.  Although fastening ends can take a long time I find it enjoyable; it is very peaceful, and you feel you have achieved something.  Washing serves as blocking; it makes the blankets smoother.  It is also otherwise a good thing.  Some of the yarns may have been around for 20 or 30 years or longer collecting dust, and the blanket is too large to keep on my lap so I let the edge fall on the floor when it gets long enough. 

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The next knitted blanket

I keep on knitting even if I don't blog regularly.

My next blanket, #144, is red, several shades of red with bright red, rust, burgundy, orange and even a little bit of pink.  All mixed with brown, beige, green and grey.  Earlier I bought wool in charity shops regardless of colour.  Now I try to reject wool in colours I find difficult, particularly bright colours and white.  I am surprised to find how many knitted garments that I examine are knitted in shades of red.  I had no idea the colour was so popular, because it is not one of my favourites.  For blankets red is fine.  It is nice and cheerful.

This blanket is knitted in aran weight on 4.5mm needles.  It is quite thick because a lot of the red wool comes from picture sweaters from the 1990s, and a lot of them were pictures of flowers, red flowers.  The green thick wool comes from leaves.

I have a spread sheet, by date of purchase, of knitted garments in the wool store waiting to be unravelled, and now I pick the next one on the list, regardless of whether the colour suits the blanket in question.  The wool will get used sooner or later anyway.   Doing it systematically makes me feel I'm getting somewhere, and I like the randomness of not knowing which the next one will be.  (I don't cheat by peeking ahead.)

The next one for this blanket was blue, a nice pale blue DKNY silk cardigan.  The silk is quite thick and it feels nice.  I bought this cardigan very cheaply, and I wore it the first summer.  It was really comfortable.  I like the way the raglan sleeves were done.  It started with decreases from the armhole, but halfway just one increase at the shoulder line was done instead.  This cardigan was easy to unpick.  The seams came away like a dream, and for the rest it was just a question of pulling a thread.
The second garment was a Marks and Spencer cashmere polo neck sweater.  It may seem very laborious to unpick such thin yarn.  It is surprisingly strong, and I like the hint of softness it adds to the blankets.  I don't bother to fasten ends.  The yarn is mixed with other stronger ones, so I just overlap with the new end, and cut any stragglers when the blanket is finished.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Rocking chair cover or Gungstolsmatta

A few months ago my mother asked me to knit a cover for her rocking chair.  She had seen a woven one on a crafts stall in the local market, and she thought I could knit something similar.  At the time I was planning to knit a blanket in chunky wool in a pattern that I have seen somewhere - a blanket (or scarf) knitted sideways each row in a different colour and with the ends tied in a fringe.  It would do away with the need to fasten ends, not always easy to hide in chunky wool.  So I set to work by looking at the wool I had.

The colours I had planned for my blanket were not to my mother's taste, so I ended up with the Icelandic or Icelandic type wools left over from my Modern Throw.  (I haven't forgotten about my Modern Throw.  I find it frustrating too that I have not been able to finish it.  I'm waiting to get the use of my spare room back, so that I can lay the blocks out in a pleasing pattern before I start joining them.)  In the end I left out the whites because I thought they would be impracticable in a cover that was likely to get heavy use.

But there wasn't enough wool left, so I ended up buying more.  I spent some time staring at the wool shelves in John Lewis.  I wanted a self striping yarn to add some interest.  Rowan Colourscape was too colourful to fit in with my grey colour scheme, and too expensive.  I chose Patons Shadow Tweed - about 50% wool 50% acrylic.  It was single ply and pleasant to work with.  My only complaint about it was that the dark sections were too dark and not obvious from balls on the shelf, nor could I see a pattern leaflet with the yarn knitted up.  The colour sequences were also a lot longer than I had wanted.  I have seen since other balls where the dark bits show more clearly.  There is also a little bit of viscose in it in the form of colourful loose threads woven in here and there.

Then I added Rowan wools.  I had bought a ball of Cocoon in a charity shop earlier, and I knew how lovely it was to the touch - like unbaked dough.  So I bought one more in a greyish colour.  I also wanted a lighter shade, and I chose Rowan British Sheepbreeds Chunky Undyed, and it was very pleasant too.  It was thinner than the others so I added a strand of the light grey Jaeger Matchmaker 4 ply wool from a charity shop.  I am surprised by how much I like these two Rowan yarns.  I would be very happy to knit more with either.  Earlier I had dismissed the Sheepbreeds yarns as old fashioned, but they feel so unexpectedly nice.  Cocoon I thought of as a chunky and therefore not interesting yarn.

I wanted a slipstitch pattern to add bulk and I found it in Montse Stanley's Knitting, woven check or hopscotch stitch.  It is so simple, slip every other stitch on the knit row and purl the next row.  I wanted to make both edges the same, so I did a crochet provisional cast on for the sideways edge, and then the pattern stitch.  It worked well, with long rows, changing colours as I thought best.  It was when I got to the middle that it got interesting, because I wanted the colours to be symmetrical from the centre.  The Shadow Tweed was worst, and I had to start from the right place in a new ball.  I am happy with how it worked out, it is reasonably OK.

Then I did a crochet cast off on both long sides, and turned my attention to the fringe.  This is the part that I am unhappy with.  I did a moss stitch at the beginning and end of each row, and it was too high next to the slip stitch pattern, so the edges flared.  I wanted an even edge, but this was the wrong way to go about it.  Doing the fringe helped to some degree, but it is still far from perfect.  As I had used the same yarn for several rows I had to add more lengths of yarn to the fringe.  It looks untidy.  Although all the yarns were new some had curls, and it is not so attractive.

On the whole I am pleased with it.  The yarns are nice, and it has a pleasant comfortable feel to it.  As a project it worked out, except for the moss stitch sides.  If I did it again I would buy  all the wool, so I would be able to plan the colours more carefully.

My mother says that it is too nice for the rocking chair, and she uses it as a shawl (or stole?).  This view is the cover on an ordinary kitchen chair, as a rocking chair is not to hand in my flat.

Rocking chair cover C11

Yarn:  odd Icelandic or Icelandic type yarns, Patons Shadow Tweed, Rowan Cocoon, Rowan British Sheepbreeds Chunky Undyed, Jaeger Matchmaker 4 ply, weight 580 gr

Needles: 6 mm

Tension: 13 st per 10 cm

Size: 48 cm * 170 cm excluding fringe

Pattern: Own using woven check stitch

Knitted: 11 August to 20 September 2011

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Doing bus crochet

It was while I was crocheting together blanket C9 that I realised how much I enjoyed the crochet, and I looked round for yarn suitable for a crochet project, something I could do on the bus.  So it needed to be portable and easy to do.   I remembered this 4 ply yarn that I bought in a charity shop about a yarn ago.  It came in a plastic bag - nearly one and a half kilo.  I managed to convince myself that it was a wool blend, so it would do in the blankets.  But I think I was wrong.  It is much more likely to be pure acrylic.  For crochet it would do fine.

The colours are nice - two shades of yellow, rust and brown.  The yellows and rust are crepe, so ideal for crochet as it gives a nice definition.  Together the colours look good.

I enjoyed doing the Erika Knight's hexagons, and I wanted something similar.  In Jan Eaton's book 200 crochet blocks I found a pattern for a square block in trebles without the gaps that you get in granny squares.  It is a very easy pattern, easy to do and easy to follow.  I memorized it after the second row.

So now I have finished the yellow blocks.  The rust yarn turned out to be thinner than the yellow, so I can't put them in the same blanket.  I tried the brown one.  It is thicker, so no good either.  The brown yarn is an ordinary 4 ply, ie not crepe, but it must be spun with a z twist because it splits very easily, so it is more awkward to crochet.  The yellow yarns were a dream.

That means that I'm heading for two baby blankets - one yellow and one brown - instead of one adult sized.  I'll leave the rust yarn for crocheting together.  I still enjoy it very much, and I wonder what I can find to do on the bus next.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Another blanket

Another long break without writing.  I have been doing some knitting, mainly on the new blanket, #143.  This one is double knitting weight on size 4 mm needles.  I enjoy knitting it.  The light colours cheer me up.  The yarns are good, too, several cottons and two mohair.

I unravelled a mohair cardigan for this.  It was quite simple, in a broken rib pattern, very easy to unpick despite mohair's tendency to stick.  Compared with the white mohair that I also use it seems thin.

I was going to unpick a second sweater, this crochet top by Chillipeppar.  I started by unpicking the edging, but I changed my mind when I saw the yarn.  It is very thin cotton, several unspun threads.  I decided it would add nothing to the blanket, so it went to the dump.  Now that I have got so much yarn in the wool store, I have less patience unpicking garments.  It's not that I don't enjoy it, but it seems to take so much time when I could be knitting.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Still around

I have not got much further with my Geo Modern Throw.  I finished knitting the 20 blocks.  Then I washed them.  Not because they were dirty, although some of the yarn may have hung around for 20 years or more, but because it seemed a good easy way of wetting them for blocking.  I washed them by hand and spun them in the washing machine, in two batches.  Then I placed them out on the spare bed, the wrong way round because the edges rolls upwards the right way round.

The blockss look much better now.  The sculptural effect that I enjoyed has largely disappeared, and I think that is for the good.  The thing that worries me is that the blocks differ in size according to the yarn used, and that it will it look strange when they are put together.

I have put the blocks aside for the time being, because I have started a new project, using some of the leftover yarn from the throw.  So this is also chunky and now that I have got more than half way through it is beginning to annoy me.  I am doing this on request and there is other knitting I would rather do.  Knitting on 6 mm needles tires my hands and I can't do it for hours on end, so it seems slow.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Blanket #142

It is impossible for me to write at all regularly.  I mean to, I think about it and I plan what I'm going to write about, but things happen, and the blog has to take second place.  I want to continue, anyway, just to record what I knit.

And I continue knitting.  Blanket #142 is nearly finished - the knitting is; there is still an edging and fastening ends to be done - and I have not written about it.  This one is knitted in aran weight on 4.5mm needles again.  It suits the dark colours because a lot of my dark yarns are already aran weight, and previous blankets have tended to be uneven.  That is not necessarily a fault, it does have some charm.

In addition to the usual dark colours, black, grey, navy, brown there is red, burgundy, purple and some lighter blue.  The grey angora and some mohair makes it beautifully soft, quite unexpectedly because other recent blankets have not been so soft.  Neither the camera nor the photographer is up to producing good pictures of dark knitting.  The first is taken with flash and the second without.

The first sweater that I unravelled for this was a Monsoon picture sweater from the 1990s.  A number of these have already gone into my blankets, because I have enjoyed unravelling them.  This is the last one in the yarn store, and I hope it will be the last one I buy, because now I resent the time spent unravelling when I could be knitting instead.  And I want to confine myself to hand knitted garments in the future.  The yarn is nice anyway, 100% thick wool between aran and chunky weight.  The sweater is obviously hand knitted, and I can't help but wonder about the person who knitted it - how much were they paid?

The second is the next Kaffe Fassett garment.  This is a vest, Mosaic from the book Kaffe's Classics.  I admire this knitting.  It is in 4 ply yarn, and I would never have the patience to knit the one stitch borders between blocks of colour.  The size is impossible.  It is too wide and too short to fit me, and it does not fit him either, as can be seen from the photograph.  (Apologies for his lack of dress, but he arrived in a garish green t-shirt for the photo session.)  The vest chest circumference is 108cm but it is only 46cm long.

I did a lot of soul searching before I decided to unravel this.  I can't remember what persuaded me in the end.  I bought  the vest with the intention of unravelling it.  I do own it, so I decide what to do with it.  What else should I do with it?  I don't want to end up with a museum of knitwear.  Anyway, now it is done and it only produced 350gr of wool, albeit nice Rowan wool.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

King Cole Mirage child's blanket

This was my bus knitting for several months.  I bought the yarn, 4½ balls of King Cole Mirage, from a charity shop one day when I was badly in need of a yarn fix.  It is 50% wool 50% acrylic so by no means on my list of allowed yarns.  But it reminds me very much of Rowan's Tapestry, same structure, also slightly fuzzy but not at all as soft to the touch.  The acrylic means that it is machine washable so it is eminently suitable for a child's blanket, and that is all that the yarn would stretch to.  The balls were 100 gr.

I tried knitting a log cabin block, from the instructions in Mason-Dixon Knitting, but I was not happy with it.  It was not square.  I could have worked that out before I started, but it still took me by surprise.  Also, the picking up stitches would be too complicated for bus knitting, so I reverted to my usual diagonal blocks.  And I greatly enjoyed knitting the 36 blocks that the blanket took.

The stripe sequence in this yarn, unlike Tapestry, is regular, so there were no surprises.  I did consider knitting all blocks the same, but thought it was too risky, because one small discrepancy between blocks one and two would turn out to a large large one between 35 and 36.  I had fun arranging the blocks.  I tried forming diamonds but I thought it too sophisticated for a child, so I went for diagonal lines.  Now I see a large diamond instead.

I crocheted the blocks together, this time with slipstitch, and it works better than double crochet, but it still makes the blocks bumpy.  Blocking the blanket - laying a damp towel over it and leaving it to dry - did improve it.  I considered knitting an i-cord edging, but it seemed too much effort for this project so I crocheted a crabstitch border instead.  (And I enjoyed the crochet so much that now I'm crocheting on the bus, but I will write about that later.)

King Cole Mirage Child's Blanket
Yarn:  King Cole Mirage 50% wool 50% acrylic, 400 gr
Needles: 3.75 mm
Tension: 24 st and 28 rows per 10 cm
Size: 65 cm by 65 cm
Knitted: 1 October 2010 to 4 July 2011

Friday, 22 July 2011

Kaffe Fassett Autumn Leaves

It has taken me a long time to finish this tapestry cushion.  I finished stitching it nearly a year ago.  Since then I have tried to decide on a suitable fabric for the backing.  In the end I went for a piece in my store - bought as a remnant in John Lewis more than 20 years ago.  I like the backing to be similar in colour to the front of the cushion.

Then it was a question of cushion pad.  Being rectangular it is of course a non-standard size so it is not possible to buy one the right size.  I worked out the sizes of two I needed.  I usually use down pads, but the thought of opening them up and having down all over the room made me think again, so I used polyester filling.  I sewed a new cover from a pillow case, opened up the two new pads and stuffed the new one.  I don't think I put enough in the corners because they form points.  If I wanted to redo it I would have to undo the seam, so I won't.  I hope the stuffing will settle with use.  If the tapestry looks uneven and the backing creased it is because I washed bothe before sewing them together.  They have both been around for a long time.

I enjoyed stitching this very much.  In places the shades were very similar, so I was glad there was a chart I could refer to.  I think I like doing these because it means handling wool, because I like seeing the design take shape and because it is fairly mindless work.  You don't need to think while you do it.

Now I have the next cushion to do a backing for.  This is a standard size so I will be able to buy a pad.

Monday, 11 July 2011

I am practising not buying yarn

with little success.  My plan to limit my yarn purchases to 300 gr per month lasted for no more than a few weeks.  I have made a little advance.  I have a (mental) list of the kinds of yarn that I'm allowed to buy, and in the main I'm sticking to it.  Unfortunately the list tends to expand according to what I see.

There are two purchases that I wanted to show.

I have a theory that you can find anything that you set your heart on in a charity shop, sooner or later.  Some days, when I set out, I fantasize about what I would like to find today.  One item on my wish list for a long time has been a Kaffe Fassett kit, and I did find one.  Not quite right, not Kaffe Fassett, but it was a Rowan kit, an Annabel Fox.  It is for a sweater, called Persian Iris.  There were 800 gr of wool - a cream tweedy yarn, Kaffe Fassett mohair silk and DK wool.  The small balls all weighed 25 gr, so they had not been weighed according to the amount of yarn required in the pattern.  I don't have any intention of knitting this sweater, I don't think, so I will just take pleasure in owning it for some years, and then the yarn will end up in a blanket.  Probably.

The second purchase was 32 balls of Rowan Tapestry, one of the yarns that I just can't resist.  There were two shades, 175 and 177, but they are very similar, in shades of blue.  I have already knitted a sweater in this yarn, and I was very pleased with it.  There was a pattern for a cardigan in the same Rowan booklet that I liked, but for the time being it will remain in the yarn store with all the rest.  I like being able to play with ideas for it.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Random rows

It has been fun devising the colour bands for my Modern Throw, but after a while I found that I was repeating myself.  So I looked for a way to get a true random sequence.  I had decided on an even number of rows for each band, and it seems that 6 was the maximum, so I was looking for a sequence of 2, 4 and 6.  The easiest way would be to throw a dice where 1 and 2 = 2, 3 and 4 = 4 and 5 and 6 = 6.  But no dice was to hand, so I had to find another way.

The obvious solution would be to use the random function in Excel.  With a little bit of manipulation I could get it to produce the random sequence I wanted.  But to do that I would have to turn the computer on - not something I want to do in the middle of knitting.

Then I remembered my scientific calculator.  It has a random function that returns a three digit decimal number.  Perfect - easy to keep by my knitting and it gives an immediate result.  I pick out the 2, 4 and 6es, ignoring all other digits, and I keep on pressing the key until I have the number of numbers I want.  For one block the total should equal the number of rows in the block.  This is even more exciting knitting - not having control of what the block will look like.

I understand that there are websites that will produce random numbers, but why let somebody else do the fun bit?  I love maths, nearly as much as knitting.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Another blanket

I have finished blanket #140 including fastening the ends.  I liked working with it; the mohair made it feel very pleasant.  I still think there were two many disparate colours in it, but since I'm limited to the yarn in the yarn store there is little I can do about it.  I was disappointed to find that although it was knitted in aran weight yarns it only weighed some 150 gr more than a DK blanket.  The blanket was some 10 cm narrower than a standard blanket.  I didn't do a tension square - I calculated on the basis that aran is usually 4 stitches per 10 cm fewer than DK.  Obviously my tension is closer.

I decided to knit my next blanket, #141, to DK weight, because I enjoy it.  I will do others in aran, to experiment, to get rid of more yarn even if it is only 150 gr.  This blanket is pink blue violet, and I keep thinking it has not come out very well.  From a distance I like it better.  Close to I like the look of plain DK yarns.


The first garment I unravelled was this shetland vest, complete with label saying Shetlands from Shetland.  It looks like a traditional fair isle pattern knitted in authentic shetland wool.  Very pleasant it is.  I had to think very hard before I decided to unravel this, because it seemed such a shame.  But then what else would I do with it?  I bought it, very cheaply, in order to unravel it.  I tried it on.  It was the right size but it felt stiff and unpleasant.  So now it is gone, and the wool is very nice.

The second garment is another of my Kaffe Fassett garments.  I decided to unravel them in order to knit a blanket solely of yarn from them.  This pattern is called Big Crosses and it appears in Kaffe's Classics, but in different yarns and colours.  It says there that the pattern also appeared in an early Rowan book, so perhaps this one came from there.  I thought it might have been a kit, but Kaffe does not say anything about a kit - he says it was not initially popular.

I thought it was knitted in a DK and 4 ply yarn combined throughout, but when I unravelled it I found only two DK yarns.  The rest were 2 strands of the same 4 ply combined.  Most were a very nice shetland with a few ordinary wool yarns.  It was very well knitted, good tension and it looks good.  It was enornous - no chance of me wearing it at all.  The ends were just knitted in, so it was easy to unravel.  I like the colours and the yarns are lovely, but I'm having second thoughts about doing a blanket just with them.  Using just short lengths would end up with too many ends.  So perhaps I will use them in the standard blankets.  I will hold off for now.