Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Dark, dark

The new blanket #139 is dark.  I like dark colours, but they don't come out well in pictures.  I have knitted more than 30 cm now, but the picture is very similar to the one I posted last week.  The texture gives me pleasure every time I pick it up.  You can just about see the thick brown chenille cotton yarn, not the mohair.

The sweater I unpicked is hand knitted, in a 1980s picture sweater style, or from the early 1990s.  It is hand knitted, quite loosely, and it is large.  When I bought it I thought it was a man's sweater, but the flowery pattern made me rethink, and the smell of perfume.  It is large - 128 cm chest circumference.  It has not been washed - that is ideal for unpicking, because the yarn comes out nice and smooth after washing, as it did here.  I wondered afterwards if I really need black yarn for the blankets.  I preferred the way this blanket looked before I added the black.  It is a shame that the green and pink chenille yarns are acrylic, but I will use them anyway.  It was a pleasure unpicking it, despite having to unpick thorough fastening of ends and impossible side seams.  Sometimes it was done loosely, sometimes thoroughly.  The flowers are done in moss stitch, and the yellow middles are knitted, doubled in places.  The shoulders have been joined using three needle bind off and it was cast on using cable cast on, so it has been knitted by an experienced knitter.

My basket is progressing, but much more slowly than I expected.  It is just knitting round and round, and you don't notice any progress.  Now it resembles a large floppy hat.  The joins are hardly noticeable, and the reverse has come out very neatly, without trying.  I worry if the moss stitch sides will be solid enough to stand up.  In the pattern the sides were knitted in garter stitch and in doubled yarn.  I wanted to see what the three colour moss stitch would look like.  Now I have run out of the blue yarn, so I will have to work out when and how I add the burgundy yarn.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The basket

I did cast on for the Lamb's Pride Bulky basket last week.  With the green skein the bottom turned out a few cms shorter than the width, and that is fine.  I thought it was small, though.  Using all the yarn would mean a tall narrow basket, so I picked up stitches around the edges, increasing at each corner, to make a basket with rounded bottom.  I knitted this in plain blue garter stitch.  How do you knit garter stitch in the round?  You purl every other row.  The sides will have moss stitch stripes that create a nice dotted effect, even nicer when felted, I hope.

This morning I put the stitches on a second circular needle, to see how it looks.  I'm sure it will be too large, a low wide basket.  I did two rows with increases, so I have decided that I will unpick to the second increase.  This will make it smaller.  A good decision to take now, rather than several inches later, I think.

I started on blanket #139 too, and this is what it looks like.  I often wonder why I continue to put effort into these blankets, and then I look at this and I really like it.  I was going to say dark is my favourite, but they are all my favourites.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Starting something new

From reading knitting blogs I gather that quite a few knitters suffer from startitis - the tendency to start new projects before finishing current ones.  I seem to suffer from the opposite - a reluctance to start something new.  I have mountains of yarn in my yarn store, there are hundreds of patterns I'd like to knit, but I find it difficult to get the yarn out, do the calculations and cast on.

There is quite a bit of chunky yarn in the store, and it is too thick for my regular blankets.  To my delight I found the first Mason-Dixon book in a charity shop (in Belgravia of all places and the male assistant started telling me about the Herne Hill wool shop that I already knew about), and it has a pattern for three nested boxes.  I have read the Mason-Dixon blog ever since I first saw their column in the Knitter magazine.  Their fascination for miles of simple garter stitch mirrors mine for stocking stitch blankets, and it makes me want to knit log cabin blankets.  And I will, once I have finished the chunky yarns.  Their box pattern uses Lamb's Pride Bulky yarn, and luckily I had already found five skeins of it in another charity shop.  A box seemed to me excellent use of this yarn.  I only wanted one, slightly larger than the largest in the pattern.  This uses three skeins, so my five should be enough.

The skeins have been sitting on my coffee table for several weeks, and it was not until yesterday that I found the needles, 6.5 mm as per the band.  I see mine as a basket rather than a box, and the sides will be striped, so I wanted to do the bottom in the darkest colour.  True to my thorough nature I weighed the skeins first, and there is only half the weight in burgundy, the darkest.  I cast on anyway, but it turned out too small, so I put it away.  That is what I should have done in the first place.  When I hit a problem I should give myself time to think about it before I decide what to do.  That would save me a lot of effort.

Thinking about it overnight I decided to do the bottom in a different colour, green, my least favourite, and I cast on again with more stitches, and now it looks OK.  I have knitted 10 cms, and with my calculations there will be enough green yarn for a nearly square bottom, just what I wanted.  The corners will be rounded so I did two increases either side.  I call this a basket because I see it as a knitting basket. 

Now, this should of course be felted, my first venture into felting.  Naturally I abhor felting, for the obvious reason that once something is felted you can't unpick it and knit it into something else.  Because my reason for knitting chunky yarn is to get rid of it finally it does not matter that it can't be reused.  I am still apprehensive that it will turn out a failure and totally useless.

I have been knitting blanket #138 while I've been looking at the Lamb's Pride yarn, and enjoying it.  It is nearly done, but the last week I've been unravelling the sweater to go into the next one, and it is taking a lot longer than I thought.  This is what the sweater looks like.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

It is finished












Noro Transitions jacket

Yarn:  Noro Transitions, wool 55% silk 10% cashmere 7% alpaca 7% angora 7% camel 7% kidmohair 7%, colour no 5, 720 gr
Needles: 6.5 mm
Tension: 14 st per 10 cm
Size: small
Pattern: Own, from Wendy Barnard's Lettuce coat (Custom knits)
Knitted: 8 October 2010 to 12 January 2011
The jacket is finished, and it has taken me several weeks to find the time to write about it.
When I last wrote about it I was about to start the ribbing at the bottom.  Only I decided against ribbing because I thought it would pull it together too much.  Instead I found this seeded rib in a pattern in the Falll issue of Interweave Knits, and it worked fine.  The same ribbing was perfect for the button bands too and the collar.  I thought I would try the one row button holes from the same issue.  Once I stopped doing what I thought the instructions should say and actually followed them it worked fine, and the method produced sturdy good looking button holes.  I found the buttons in my button store.  The shape and size is fine but the colour is solemn.
I started by picking up stitches for the collar and knitting it straight.  I didn't like it at all.  I had wanted to knit short rows to give it shaping at the back, but I couldn't find a suitable pattern quickly.  So I looked a bit further and found something, with a different shape and tension, but I used it as a guide anyway.  I redid it with short rows, and now it sits much better.  It worked first time round, too.
So now the jacket is ready.  I am happy with it.  The size is fine, it is not too big.  It is not at all small either.  It is the yarn and the stripes that bother me.  The first is that the colours are not arranged symmetrically, so you have to make sure that you start from the same end of each hank.  Otherwise the colours appear in the opposite sequence.  I got it wrong at the back before I worked it out.  Then I spent a lot of time rewinding balls so that I could get it right.
The other thing is that the fibres seem to go with the colours, ie the cream is angora and the green silk.  I do prefer yarn that is the same fibre, or mix of fibres, throughout.
And a picture of blanket #138 which is progressing very nicely.  I haven't started any other projects so I'm spending a lot of time on it.