Sunday, 1 December 2013

The next blanket


For this dark blanket, #157, I wanted to use up the cyclamen mohair wool.  There is nothing wrong with it, except that it has been around for many years and it would be nice to see the end of it.  The colour is too bright for many things.  In the event, I didn't finish it this time.  It will be around for several more blankets.  So many of my blankets are ruined by me wanting to finish yarns.  And by my compulsion to use up every little scrap of yarn.  It is so difficult, if not impossible, to throw yarn away.

So I felt compelled to include this black blue thick-and-thin yarn that I obviously felt compelled to buy at some stage.  It is so obviously acrylic, but something in me liked it nevertheless.  It didn't work out so badly after all.  The thick blue portions sort of fit in with the rest, and the black bits just blend.  There is plenty more of this, but I don't think it will go into another blanket.

The first garment that I unravelled was this Marion Foale tunic in a mulberry colour.  It was nicely knitted in pure wool DK, and the yarn came out beautifully after washing.  The picture shows the stains on the front very well.  I quite often come across Marion Foale garments.  Some shops ask a lot for them, others are more reasonable.  I am tempted by the ones in 4 ply wool, not so much by the ones in cotton.

The second garment was this handknitted cardigan in a purple 4 ply wool.  It was very easy to unravel, totally unremarkable, and really the kind of yarn I want for my blankets.

Monday, 18 November 2013

The second blanket C10

The second blanket C10 is finished, using up all the remaining rust and yellow blocks.  I joined them using double crochet, the same as for the first blanket.  This time I wanted to do a double crochet stitch edging too, so I did several rows of rust and brown, since there was no more yellow yarn.  I like the way it turned out.

I am not so happy about the shape of the blanket.  I have long wanted to do a medallion arrangement of the blocks, but for that you need odd numbers of blocks both in the rows and the columns.  I was pleased to see that here I had exactly enough blocks for a 9 by 13 arrangements.  I did not stop to think that it would make a long narrow blanket until it was too late to change my mind.  So I had to leave it, and the blanket is 1.55m by 1.05m.  It would have been better shorter and wider.  It used up 720gr of yarn.

So, overall it was extremely inexpensive enjoyable crochet.  The end results were not that good.

Friday, 25 October 2013

My knitting bags

In the absence of much knitting I thought I would show my knitting bags, all but one bought from charity shops.

This is my favourite.  The colours are brown and yellow, and the fabric a 1950s pattern.  It may even be an original piece of 1950s fabric.  The large design has been arranged very attractively so that the front and back are different.  It is lined with a yellow plain cotton, except for one side that has a zig-zag embroidered owl on an off white cotton.  I like the way it is placed inside the bag, and the mischievous look of the owl.  To think that somebody has gone to all the effort of making this and then giving it away.

The same applies to the second bag.  This is much more professionally made, probably from a pattern.  The workmanship is perfect.  I am fairly sure that the fabric is Rowan, all three of them, designed by Kaffe Fassett.  These kind of murky colours appeal to me.

The third is a Gudrun Sjöden tote bag.  There were several of these for sale last summer, so the charity had probably been given them because they were from last year's collection, 2012.  I chose the one I liked best.  I would like to wear Gudrun Sjöden clothes, but not only are they too expensive but they are made for people taller than me.  Occasionally you see them in charity shops.

The fourth is a Cox and Cox toilet bag made in flower patterned green velvet.  I like the design and the velvet makes it nice to the touch.  Also, the lining is in the green cotton and not in plastic.  This is my bus knitting bag.  Fastening the zip makes it very secure.

The last one I have shown before, my felted basket.  It sits on the floor next to the sofa for easy reach.

I have finished my friend's sweater, so I can go back to where I was at the end of June.  The pile of blankets to be finished has reached five by now, and I have cast on for a cardigan for myself.  It is normal for me to take three months to knit a sweater.  It is strange in a way, because I can knit a blanket in six weeks - four is my record.  It takes longer now, because I do less knitting than I used to.  The problem with garments is that the thinking takes time, and I have learnt that a hasty decision is a bad decision.  The books say that you should adjust patterns to your body measurements, and that involves a lot of decisions.  The books also say that you should work out all the measurements before you start, after you have knitted your tension square.  Well, I prefer to start knitting and making decisions as I go along.  So when I hit a problem I may put the knitting away for two, three, five, ten days while I decide what to do next.  This is what takes the time.  With blankets I cast on and knit knit knit until it is long enough.  So simple.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

The next blanket

My idea for blanket #156 was that it should be red and brown.  Most of the red yarns in the store turned out to be thin ones, and there weren't that many darkish brown ones either, so the blanket is not very close to my idea.  I like the way that it has turned out anyway, and I notice now that it is very similar to one of my previous ones - blanket #144 but that one included yellow.  The colours blend quite well.  Some 1960s Warriner teal DK begged to be included and it does not jar at all.  The yarns that stand out are the apricot ones.  I managed to exclude the more yellowish yarns - they will go into another blanket.  I notice now that this blanket is very similar to one of my previous ones - blanket #144 but that one included yellow.

I meant to knit this in aran weight on 4.5 mm needles, but I had so few thicker yarns that it was not a good idea.  Instead I knit on 4 mm needles, but combine DK yarns with a thin 4 ply.  This works well, and I will probably continue doing it.  In a way it frees me from deciding whether a yarn is 4 ply or DK - I can combine any yarns so that the end result is a suitable thickness.

I used to buy a lot of manufactured picture sweaters, and this is one of the last ones to be unravelled.  It is a Planet woman's sweater with aran stitched diamonds.  I bought it because I thought the pattern would provide suitable lengths of yarn.  Not so, there are an awful lot of knots, so the lengths are unpredictably short.  I like the yarn, a thick DK wool, several strands unplied.  I am using two shades in this blanket, and both disappear.

The second to be unravelled was a hand knitted cardigan with a ruffle edge.  It has been competently knitted, down to the ruffle being stitched along the button band.  It looked like a Debbie Bliss pattern - she does tend to recycle her patterns in slightly different versions - and I found it in a Jaeger booklet in a charity shop.  I didn't buy the booklet.  I didn't associate DB with Jaeger.  The yarn is lovely, a wool thin yarn.  In the end I decided that the pink colour was wrong for this blanket, so I did not use it.

I used up several of my red yarns that I have saved as being too good for blankets.  The Peter Gregory is a bright pure wool 4 ply in a one ounce ball; I have about six of these.  The Edina Ronay is a Rowan silk wool blend, the cashmere is Jaeger.   The Polworth wool is a New Zealand shetland type wool.  The colour blends very well and it is nice.  I have about six of these too, so it will last for many blankets.  The rust yarn at the front is unlabelled, but it feels like silk.  At the back is a cone of thin mohair yarn.  According to the hand ticked Uppingham label inside the cone it is a mohair and acrylic/polyester blend.  It is the same thickness as Rowan Kidsilk Haze, and it feels nearly as nice.  It adds softness and a lovely halo to the blanket.  I would be very pleased to come across more of this.  

Saturday, 20 July 2013

The next blanket

 I am still knitting, and blanket #155 is proceeding.  This is in DK weight, in pale colours.  I have managed to restrict them to white, green and blue with some beige and greys.  There are a few darker shades among them, but the truth is that I am running low on lighter yarns.  In earlier blankets I tried to restrict the amount of white yarns, but now I use them for want of anything else.  I don't want to go darker.

The other thing about this blanket - and I noticed this when I did other knitting in pure wool - is that there is not sufficient wool in it.  There is more synthetic than I would like but to compensate there is alpaca, silk and mohair, and some nice cotton.  So the blanket itself feels comfortable, but it does not have a woolly feel.  Also, I am running low on double knitting weight yarns so there is more 4 ply doubled, and some of it is quite thin.  Still, it is a nice blanket.

The first knitted garment that I unravelled is a zipped short sleeved cardigan in Rowan Cotton Glace.  It is nicely knitted, and the zip is sewn in with care.  Personally I find adding zips to knits too dangerous to attempt, too difficult to get right.  The zip and the seams are sewn using sewing cotton.  It was fiddly to cut, but I managed it without cutting the yarn unnecessarily.  Otherwise it was easy to unravel.

I bought the second after I went to the Wool Show at Somerset House, in March I think.  I was impressed watching the spinning, and being offered the chance to attempt using a spindle.  But I am not going to learn to spin.  There were samples of wool from different breeds of sheep, and I realised for the first time that the differences in the handspun wool that I find in charity shops, knitted or not knitted, does not depend on the spinner but on the breed of sheep.  And handspun wool is so lovely that I decided to allow myself to buy garments knitted from handspun wool.  This is the first and only one so far, since March.

The sweater is knitted in a lace twisted rib stitch, presumably to stop the rib from slanting.  The wool is 4 ply weight, spun in 2 ply.  I was disappointed that the kinks did not disappear after washing, but it is still nice.  As it happened, I had it in mind for a different project, so I did not use it for this blanket.

This yarn brought a nice pale green colour to the blanket.  I could not resist the wool because of the name - Cleckheaton - and because it is Australian.  How wool travels.  Without checking I will say that it is 80% wool 20% nylon, and it feels so nice.  It was apparently intended for an adult sweater.  I would say it is perfect for baby clothes.

My knitting is stagnating.  I have just finished fastening the ends on blanket #154 and I have two, nearly three bus blankets to finish.  I am in the middle of one knitted and one crochet cardigan, but if I wait to go back to them until I have finished all the blankets - and they will soon be four when I finish knitting #155 - when will that be?  I also offered to reknit a sweater for a friend, and I have started but I have to put it aside because it is too hot to knit, and I want to start knitting for the winter.  I feel stressed.  I can only do one project at a time.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Another crochet blanket (C10) finished

I seem to have a waiting list of blankets to be finished.  I have finally - nine months after finishing the crochet of all the blocks - made time to join the blocks for blanket C10.  This was very enjoyable bus crochet for over a year.  When I got the blocks out again I realised that I had forgotten that the blocks were different sizes and that I would have to do two smaller blankets.

The first blanket consists of all the brown and the larger rust blocks.  Again I joined them using a crochet slip stitch and I did the edging using one round of double crochet and one of crab stitch.  I think it worked OK.  I could have thought more about the arrangement of the blocks.  The extra rust block might have been better placed in the opposite corner.

The result is a light blanket, 100 by 113 cms, a perfect size for a child.  Personally I like the colours, although I can see that many would not.  They come across as 1970s colours.  I washed it in the machine without problems.

I really like the pattern that the decreases make and the texture that they give.  The slip stitch join makes a ditch on the right side and I don't mind it at all.

Now I am fastening the ends of blanket #154 and I will finish it before going on to continue with the rest of the blocks for blanket C10.

Friday, 26 April 2013

The next blanket

This blanket is in my favourite dark colours - but then they are all my favourites - in aran weight.  It contains a lot of the odd balls I have been buying.  Occasionally you come across bags of these and I find it difficult to resist them.  Partly because of the joy of finding out what is in there and of sorting it out, and partly because I like to think that I rescue wool that nobody else is interested in.  Sometimes it is obvious that the wool originates from the 1950s or even earlier - to think that somebody has held onto it for so long.  Some is in such a bad state that it has to be thrown out.  I avoid synthetics, even the nylon yarn from the 1960s.  I like the idea of putting such wool into my blankets.  But now I have so much dark wool that I wonder how I will do the dark blankets when it comes to an end.  And with my yarn diet I have stopped buying odd balls so it won't be replenished.

I have also added other yarns from the yarn store.  I could not resist buying the Patricia Roberts Shetland fleck yarn, although I could see that I would have problems with the bright green.  I bought the Debenham brown aran because I didn't know they had produced an own brand yarn.  It is pure wool but it is not good quality.  I have stopped buying angora yarns as well, and even Patons Purple Heather - a favourite 4 ply pure wool yarn.

For this blanket I unravelled the last of the 'proper' Kaffe Fassett garments in the yarn store.  (The others aren't in the right yarns, ie as per the patterns.)  This is the Landscape pattern that I wrote about earlier.  It took a long time to unravel.  I had planned exactly what I was going to knit after I finished the chevron blanket, but instead it took me a month or so to do this one.  The only way to do it is to relax and enjoy doing it.  The reason I like the Kaffe Fassett garments is because they use lengths of yarn that are just right for my blankets.  Kaffe himself advises you to take a length of about three feet.  This knitter had followed his advice to excess, using lengths of one foot.  All tightly knotted together, totally unnecessarily.  Well, it is done now.  The yarn is nice of course, lots of the KF kidsilk mohair yarn and the tweedy 4 ply.  The yellow squares annoy me - the yarn being just too short to be reused.

The second sweater was an oversized Jigsaw ribbed poloneck in dark brown from the 1990s.  Over the years I have unravelled several of these for my blankets, and they produce very nice wool and, as the sweaters are heavy, lots of it.  Again, this is the last one in the yarn store and I have promised myself not to buy any more.  There are still plenty of them available in charity shops.

To continue about Kaffe Fassett - I went to his talk at the Victoria and Albert Museum last December.  I have heard him talk before, so I have heard a lot of it before, but it was still interesting.  Two things struck me.  About his mosaic work he said that he used to go to bootsales to buy china so that he could smash it for his mosaics and he wondered what the sellers would have said had they known.  Similarly I wonder what he would say if he knew what I am doing.  Admittedly he did not himself knit any of the ones I unravel.

The second thing he said, in reply to a question, was that he does not design the shape of the garments in his patterns now.  He does the design of the pattern, and hands it over to the company to do the rest.  This is what I have suspected.  It seems unlikely that he would bother to follow the changes in fashion.

This week I also went to his exhibition at the Textiles and Fashion Museum that accompanies his autobiography - I will buy the book when I see it in a charity shop, at a reasonable price.  I had seen a lot of the things on show in his books before.  I liked the tapestry cushions and the quilts.  I came away with an Ehrman catalogue but less tempted to buy any of his kits.  There are some very nice recent ones at10 holes to the inch when I have found that I like smaller stitches better.  The rugs are attractive, but would I dare walk on it if I did one?

Monday, 15 April 2013

More Kaffe Fassett's Outlined Star plus Patricia Roberts

In some ways my yarn diet is working well.  I stick to my permitted items, and it is easy - something is tempting, but it is not on my list, so I don't buy.  Not to buy knitted items is much more difficult, and I can't help succumbing.  I have thought about removing these from the yarn store altogether but I have not decided, yet.

In February I found a Patricia Roberts child's sweater.  The pattern is called Chesil, and I have it in her Knitting book no 11 from 1988, but then her patterns are found in several publications.  I really like the pattern.  It comes in adult sizes as well.  I did not realise it when I bought it, but the picture on the front is sewed on.  The pattern says that it is available from the Patricia Roberts shop.  If the right yarn has been used it is Patricia Roberts Pure Wool.

My purchase in March was another Kaffe Fassett Outlined Star pattern.  If the previous one was oversized this one is tiny.  It would fit a very small child.  I think it is charming.  It is knitted in pastel shades of 4 ply in quite tight tension.  The knitter obviously thought that the sleeves were too short, so she picked up stitches to lengthen them, in the same pattern.  The only thing wrong with it - that does not come across in the picture - is that the yarn is nearly all acrylic.

And a more complete picture of Susan Duckworth's Indian Weave:

I did not finish any projects in March.  I had great plans, but the whole month was taken up with unpicking the next Kaffe Fassett sweater.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The next blanket

Blanket #153 is in one of my favourite colour combinations, pink/blue/lavender.  It is in DK weight, and a pleasure to knit.  I'm so behind with this blog that I have in fact finished knitting it, and started on #154, but that belongs to another entry.

For this blanket I unravelled an unremarkable Marks and Spencer wool angora blend striped sweater.  I bought it cheaply in a sale quite a few years ago, with the intention of ultimately umpicking it, although I did wear it several times.  It was comfortable and I liked the buttoned poloneck.  It was easy to unravel and the different colours are useful.  The yarn is soft and a bit too thick to be treated as 4 ply.

The second garment came from a charity shop.  The pattern came from Rowan Magazine 39 - Martin Storey's Crinkle.  It did have the ribbon along the front edges when I bought it, but I thought it silly so I removed it.  I wore this several summers, and it was comfortable, without the ribbon.  The knitting was not so expertly done; one front was longer than the other, and the edging a bit awkward.  But then I have never been fond of Martin's patterns.  They don't look as if they would fit me, so I was surprised that to find that this was one of his.  I thought the cyclamen colour of Rowan's Cotton Glace a bit garish, but unravelled it comes to its own, and it looks very nice in the blanket.

My yarn diet is going fine, or was going fine.  I manage not to buy yarn not on my list of allowed yarn.  The total in the yarn store went down in February, because I finished the chevron blanket then.  I did buy yarn, my favourite Rowan Summer Tweed, for a project I have been promising myself for several years.  March was more difficult.  Not only did I spend the month unpicking the next garment for blanket #154, instead of finishing the blanket I had planned, but I won wool in a prize draw in Knitting magazine, one whole kilo!  The parcel arrived unexpectedly, and I was very pleased, but it did not help my yarn diet.  And I bought something else too, an impulse addition to my list of allowed yarn.

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Thursday, 14 March 2013

Knitted chevron blanket C14

I had been saving cotton yarns for this blanket for quite some time.  When I got the yarn out I realised two things.  Firstly, although the yarns were all DK weight the colours did not look good together.  I had to omit the darker shades.  Secondly, even with the darker shades there was not enough yarn for a full sized blanket.  So I had to buy some more.

I started with the yarns intended for my Di Gilpin top.  Over the past few years I have bought the occasional additonal ball with this blanket in mind.  I was pleased to find a bag of unravelled beige Rowan Cashcotton DK which fitted perfectly.  In the Rowan sale I added some darker beige Rowan Purelife Organic Cotton (Oakapple shade).  Once I realised I needed more yarn I went out and got four balls of Wendy Supreme Cotton - luckily at half price.

Last September I finally cast on.   I wanted to knit a chevron pattern.  There are of course a number of ways that you can do chevrons.  I liked a solid fabric rather than the holes created by yarn overs so I did the increases by making one, and the columns created by knitting stitches inbetween decreases appealed to me too, so I took the pattern from a skirt pattern in a recent copy of Vogue Knitting.  I used the Rowan Purelife Cotton for the border and for two regular garterstitch rows.

There is a regularity to the striping pattern although it is perhaps not obvious.  I calculated it so that the shades would be distributed equally throughout, and so that I would not have to make decisions about which to use next.  I also planned it so that three yarns at most would be in use at any one time - plus two strands of the border yarn - with one carried on each side.  Both the garter stitch border and attaching the yarn intarsia style worked beautifully, I am pleased to say.  Unfortunately my colour scheme broke down half way through, as two very similar yarns ended up next to one another, and after that I resorted to deciding as I went along.

The knitting took a long time.  I had to take time from my standard blanket in order to see a finish to it.  I did enjoy it a lot though.  It was very pleasant working solely with cotton yarns, some more than others.  My favourite was a Katia Eco Cotton yarn, in grey and blue.  I am very pleased with the result.  I wouldn't mind doing another chevron blanket - perhaps with yarn overs in a chunky yarn.  But there are so many other patterns to try.

I did learn from this that it is no good attempting a blanket if I only have a third of the yarn needed.  I must take all, or nearly all, from the yarn store, otherwise it is self defeating.  And putting shades together from different brands is tricky.

Knitted chevron blanket C14
Yarn:  DK weight cotton yarns, total 1330 gr
Needles:  3.75 mm
Pattern: own
Size: 172 by 126 cms
Knitted: 9 September 2012 to 18 February 2013

And finally a picture of chevrons by a master - my Missoni cardigan from a charity shop.  It is the right size for me but very long and very skinny.  The colours are just right for me, but I don't like the low v-neck very much.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Tapestry cushion Avriculas by Jill Gordon


This is another Ehrman tapestry cushion kit bought from a charity shop.  I finished stitching it last summer but because it was for a Christmas present I have not been able to write about before.  The design by Jill Gordon is called Avriculas.  The kit looked complete, but one shade provided did not appear in the design and there was very little supplied for several shades - in the event there was just enough.

The yarn was Paterna yarn.  It is the first time I have used it.  Somehow I liked it less than the Anchor yarn.  The instructions said to use it doubled, but it did not seem to cover completely.  The yarn provided for the background was dark red, but I did not use it.  There was no picture provided, and I need to see a red background before I am going to do it.  The flowers would surely not have looked good against dark red?  I used some green Paterna yarn that I had found in a charity shop earlier.  The stitch count was 10 stitches to the inch.  Now that I have done 12 stitches I know I prefer smaller stitches.

Nevertheless I did enjoy the stitching.  The colourful flowers were fun to do, and I like large areas in a single colour.  The cushion looks OK, but I was pleased to give it away.

The tapestry I am working on now is much more pleasant.  It is a Beth Russell William Morris kit - Orange Border, and also from a charity shop.  It is a large design and with small stitches, 14 to the inch, so it will take me a year or more.  This is done in Appleton crewel wool - the nicest tapestry yarn I have come across.

And, my proud purchase this week was a large bagful of Appleton crewel wool skeins.  Tapestry yarn does not count against the yarn store, so there was no problem buying it.  I have no idea what I will do with it yet.  I have thought about doing a design from one of Kaffe Fassett's books or Alice Starmore book 'Celtic needlepoint'.  I really like Alice Starmore's book.  She gives you a lot of useful information, and I like her designs using shaded colours - ie with two or more shades together.

Finally I added up the yarn store figures for January:  I bought two balls of yarn - 100 gr - and the Susan Duckworth cardigan, 565 gr, and finished blanket #152 - 1625 gr, so overall the yarn store went down by 960 gr.  A good start to the year.  I found the cardigan in the book 'Floral knitting' but done with a cream background instead of the red one here.