Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Geo Modern Throw

I finally got round to tackle finishing this blanket.  I was surprised how quick it was in the end.  I think I had in mind other blankets with some 270 blocks - it is much easier with only 20 blocks.

I lay the blocks out on the bed, trying for a pleasing arrangement, so that similar blocks were not adjacent.  I left them on the bed for several days, moving a couple now and again.  I came to the conclusion that any arrangement had to do, because it was impossible to make it perfect.  The patterns gave two different ways of joining the blocks.  I liked the one where you pick up stitches along one side of block A, with circular needles, turn the work round and pick up stitches along one side of block B, turn it round again and do a three needle cast off.  Then you are in the right place to pick up stitches from block C etc.  It worked well.  I used safety pins to hold the blocks together while I was doing it.  I first joined the blocks horizontally, and then all were in place for joining vertically.  The only thing that I am unhappy about is the ridge that the three needle cast off makes.  I tried putting it on the reverse, but a ridge on the underside of a blanket did  not seem a good idea, although it looked fine from the top.  Now there is a ditch but it is only noticeable if you pull on it.

The second way of joining the blocks involved picking up stitches and purling one row before the three needle cast off.  I rejected this method, because it would have meant cutting the yarn, and fastening it, for every block.

The yarns that I used for the cast off both came from charity shops.  Holywell Textile Mills did a double knitting weight aran type brown wool, and Hermit a standard double knitting, again brown, colour clove.  I can't find pictures of either of them now.  I wondered how much wool the joining would take and using the two doubled it took 65 gr of the first and 57 gr of the second.  When I knitted the rocking chair cover last summer I went out looking for more Lopi wool unsuccessfully.  Since then I have seen it, so I bought some more for the border.  I wanted the border to be similar to the blocks, so the joining wool would not do.  I judged it well that 200 gr would be sufficient, in fact it took 125 gr.  The colour is darker than I wanted as I could not find a lighter brown.  The border was very simple, a few rows of garter stitch.  I did it in two sections, using two circular needles, with rubber bands stopping the stitches from falling off, and knitting with a third.  Well, I did own three pairs the same size.  The corners are not elegant.  It does not matter in the least that the blocks are not precisely the same size.  You just pull it to shape.  The blocks, once blocked and joined, turned out to be around 36 cm square.

I am very pleased with the blanket now that it is finished.  I can't stop looking at the patterns, and the wool feels so nice.  It would be even better if you used three or four shades of the same yarn throughout.   To my mind the randomness of the stripe pattern is the best thing.

Geo Modern Throw C8

Pattern:  Knit Picks website (see link in previous entry)

Yarn:  Various chunky pure wool yarns, total 1795 gr

Size:  185 cm long 150 cm wide
Needles:  6mm

Knitted 30 March 2011 to 11 February 2012

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Noro Cashmere Island jumper

Cashmere Island is one of the Noro yarns in the wool store, and last autumn I decided to cast on for a jumper.  I bought the yarn in the John Lewis sale when it was discontinued, and I bought what was left, 9 skeins of a purplish colour and 2 in less bright shades.  So there was more than enough for a jumper.

The style I aimed for was the one that you see in the shops now, loose with narrow sleeves.  I cast on with a crochet provisional cast on, because I had not decided if I wanted ribbing.  Also, starting a project with several cms of ribbing is soul destroying.  You have no idea what the knitting will look like and how large it is going to be.  And I would be able to do the ribbing in the other shade, if necessary.

I could have knitted in the round, but I chose not to.  This was mainly because I wanted to do the sleeves by picking up stitches around the arm holes and knitting downwards.  When I had finished the back it was obvious there would be enough of the purplish shade.  On the front I did a wide neck opening, so the shoulder seam turned out to be quite narrow.  I joined the shoulders using a three needle bind off for the first time.  It worked well, but I was surprised to see how obvious the join still is, both on the right and reverse sides.  I decided to do the ridge on the reverse side.  I think I expected the seam to look like grafting, and I may try that another time.  I like grafting.  It is fun once you forget the instructions.   By just studying the stitches it is easy to work out how the yarn should go.  But the three needle bind off produces a more durable seam.

It was the sleeves that caused the problem.  I had to reknit them about three times to get the right width, skinny but loose enough to be comfortable.  So this was supposed to be a quick knit, but in the end it took four months.  A lot of the time was spent with me working out what to do next instead of doing the knitting.  I found myself longing for a project where I could just follow the pattern without any thinking.

I went for ribbing in the end, and I did it after I had sewn the side seams.  It was easy to unpick the provisional cast on, and then it was just a matter of knitting downwards.  I did the neckline using short rows.  I have never seen it in any pattern, but it seems to me a natural way to shape the neck, and it makes it very easy to add the neckband.

Now it is finished anyway, and I like it.  It fits.  The yarn is very pleasant.  You do notice the cashmere content - very smooth, in contrast to my Noro Kureyon cardigan.  I went to a lot of trouble to get the shades to agree on all the pieces, so there was a lot of winding and rewinding balls of yarn.  Because the yarn comes in hanks I had to make sure I wound it in the same direction all the time, and the only way to do that was to wind a bit and work out which shade came next.  Except the sleeves and the ribbing were knitted in the opposite direction, and I wanted to start with the same shade so there was more rewinding.  And I wanted to avoid the ribbing and sleeve cuffs ending up pink or turquoise.  There are a lot of small balls left over.  I was pleased with the result anyway.  I managed to get the shades as I wanted.  I am very tempted to knit a cowl with the left over yarn, but if I started now I would not be ready until late spring.  I will leave it for next winter.

I haven't said anything about the colours.  This is again a case of the yarn looking nicer in the hank than knitted.  I would not choose these colours if I went out to buy yarn.  The conclusion - can I stop buying Noro?  I don't think so.  The jumper is comfortable to wear and just right for this weather.

Noro Cashmere Island jumper

Yarn:  Noro Cahmere Island wool 60%, cashmere 30%, nylon 10%, 360 g
Needles: 4 mm
Tension: 22 st

Size: Small
Pattern: own

Knitted:   21 September 2010 to 21 January 2012

Saturday, 4 February 2012

The third hat and Raymond Honeyman's Snowdrop Tapestry

The third hat took me three and a half weeks to finish - that is my normal knitting speed, so it was quite a feat to finish the first two in five days.  The pattern for my own hat came from the same issue of Vogue Knitting as the second hat, Fall 2009.  This time it was Cathy Carron's eyelet hat that caught my eye.  I wanted a slouchy hat with a brim that could be folded double for warmth and with an uncomplicated pattern.

I had already decided on the yarn, Zauberball 4 ply sock yarn in a dark red colour, but the yarn shop did not stock it, so I looked for something else.  I had read a lot about Madeleine Tosh sock yarn, so I chose a dark brown shade, William Morris.  It was expensive.

I omitted the eyelets because I did not want open holes in the hat.  I knew from experience with my previous knitted hat that my head is sensitive to cold winds.  (By the way, now I know that Debbie Bliss was involved in the book Wild Knitting.  I could not guess from her subsequent pattern.)  So it became an eyelet hat without eyelets.  I liked the ridge pattern, just right for a slouch hat.  The pattern was easy, but I had to resort to pen and paper to keep track of knit and purl rows.  I wanted a deeper crown so I added an extra repeat of the pattern.  The ribbing on the other hand I shortened keeping it long enough to be folded double.  I didn't sew it down as per the pattern because I prefer to adjust it according to the weather.

I like the hat.  From the side and the back the shape looks odd, a bit pointed, but from the front it is fine.  I have worn it daily since I finished it.  It stays put - a great advantage for a knitted hat - so I can push it up so that my fringe shows or pull it down.

I am not that taken by the Madeleine Tosh yarn.  Perhaps it works better for socks.  It is warm, and I like the texture.  The shade is my favourite brown, but the lighter sections look like my own failed attempts at dyeing yarn, a dirty grey.  I find it difficult to see that I would buy it again.

I used double pointed needles, and I was lucky to find a fifth needle from a second set to add to my set of 4 needles.  Most of my knitting needles are bought in charity shops and I buy second and third copies, because you never know when they will come in useful.  I find it impossible to divide my circular knitting onto 3 needles because it seems so contrary and unnatural.  It is impossible to fold your knitting in half when you put it away.  If you try to, you end up stretching one third of the knitting.

I will also show the tapestry cushion I finished.  I love stitching these.  It is working with wool and sewing.  The pattern is printed on the canvas, so you don't need to think about the design.  This is an Ehrman kit, bought from a charity shops as are all the others.  Again, I like the serendipity of not having to choose, and it is of course very cheap.  The designer is Raymond Honeyman and this is called Snowdrops.  It is one of my favourite designs, a stylised picture filling the whole of the cushion, in lovely muted colours.