Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The next blanket

 The next blanket, #162, is in one of my favourite colour combinations, pink brown grey blue.  When I'm knitting it appears more pink than when I look at it from a distance.  The yarns I use now are nicer than earlier, because I allow myself to refrain from unravelling less appealing items.  Here I use the dark grey angora and pink mohair to give softness, and the Marimekko pink for colour.  There is in fact quite a lot of pink in the yarn store.  I try to avoid, or use up, the bright pink, but it will take a long time.

The next sweater to be unravelled was a Scotch House labelled fair isle sweater.  I don't think it was handknitted because the knitting was too regular and the floats equal lengths.  The shoulders were joined using three needle bind off and the ribbing knitted downwards from picked up stitches.  The pattern consists of three identical bands in four shades, so it is not exciting.  The yarn is a nice shetland, but there remained kinks in the yarn after washing, so it will have been pressed or severely blocked.

The second sweater is a Marks and Spencer man's cashmere in a cable pattern.  The yarn is a bit thicker, nearly 4 ply weight, and very nice to knit with.  The colour is just right.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Crochet blanket C15 using King Cole Mirage wool

I found the yarn for this in a charity shop, very reasonably priced.  I had previously knitted a blanket with it, so I knew I liked it, because of the self striping colour and the single ply construction  and despite its acrylic content - half wool half acrylic.  There were 11 balls, 9 burgundy, one blue and one apricot.  And it was suitable for bus crochet again.
In the previous crochet blanket I had decided that it was a good idea to do the last row in a block in double crochet stitch because it made it easier when joining.  So in Jan Eaton's book 200 crochet squares - my book for crochet block patterns - I found #37 with treble and dc rounds, ending with two dc rounds.  The pattern is for rounds in two colours, but with the self striping yarn I did it in one colour.

The crochet was fine, nice and relaxing.  The disadvantage with doing trebles in a self striping yarn is the abrupt change when you start a new round, so the blocks look slightly lopsided.  This took me by surprise, but I was not inclined to do anything about it.

When all the blocks are done I enjoy arranging them in a pleasing pattern for joining.  The options are numerous, and I don't spend too much time on it.  You can always find better ways when it is finished.  I didn't have enough yarn left to do the joining, so I bought Drops Delight sock wool in similar colours.  To my mind it looks all right.  The Drops is a sock yarn with wool 75% and nylon 25%, so it washes as well as the Mirage.  I joined the blocks by double crochet, and did a border with one round DC one round crab stitch.

It looks OK from the reverse too.

The picture of the finished blanket is not very good, but I am pleased with it, the blanket.  It is nearly large enough for a single bed, or it can be used as a throw.  It is washable.  Doing the crochet was nice, but I think I have done enough with Mirage now.  It is nice to get back to non-synthetic yarns.  This is the last in my back log of blankets to be finished, and that is a relief.

Blanket C15
Pattern:  Jan Eaton 200 Crochet Blocks, Block 37
Yarn:  King Cole Mirage DK weight wool 50% acrylic 50%
Weight: 1100 gr
Measurements: 156 cm by 123 cm
Crocheted:  7 April to 7 July 2013; finished 18 June 2014

Saturday, 5 July 2014

A new cardigan

In the July sales in 2010 - four years already - I bought 10 balls of Rowan Alpaca Cotton  at half price.  I bought it because it was brown, my favourite colour, and the wool was nice and soft.  Two years later I thought I wanted to knit a sweater with it, and I found a good pattern - Mari Muinonen's Maija paita.  I like Mari's patterns, and the winding cables on the front attracted me.  But I didn't want the neck opening, so I tried to knit it round.  I had to give up - there was a diagram in the pattern, but it didn't give the number of stitches at the end of each row, so I got lost.  I unravelled the knitting, and put the yarn away.

The next time I got it out I had decided I wanted a cardigan.  I planned to knit it using the method that I had learnt at Julie Weisenberger's class at the Vogue Knitting Show in Chicago the previous year.  The class was about adjusting a standard cardigan pattern with set in sleeves to be knitted seamlessly (except that the top of the sleeves do need seaming) with shoulders done in English tailoring.  For the standard pattern I used Kim Hargreaves's Fayer from Heartless, luckily designed for Rowan Alpaca Cotton.

The beginning was easy - up to the armholes.  The ribbing and the button band I took from another pattern in the same book, and I am pleased with them.  I am proud of the pockets that I devised myself.  It was putting the sleeves together with the body that caused my problems.  According to the method you work out the numbers of stitches yourself, and I had to redo them several times.  It didn't help that I put the knitting away several times between attempts, so I had forgotten what I did before and my scanty notes did not help.  And I had amended the pattern as well.  The shoulders were tricky, too, and the fussiness of the yarn made it impossible to keep count of stitches.  So in the end I just stuck to what I had, and didn't mind that it was less than perfect.

After all of that I was pleased to find that I had a cardigan that I could actually wear.  It feels nice and warm and comfortable.  The buttons came from a charity shop, and they look too shiny on.

I did not get on with the yarn.  I do know that I prefer smooth yarns, but this felt as if it was coated with some sticky substance.  It was unpleasant to touch.  I wish I had washed it before I started knitting.  Was it reduced because it was seconds?  If so, it should have said so.  I wonder how long I can wear the cardigan before I have to wash it. 

This method, knitting seamless sweaters with set in sleeves, is interesting, and I may try it again.  If I do it will have to be with a smooth yarn, and the key thing is to knit the top part - armholes and shoulders - within a few days so that you don't lose track.

Rowan Alpaca Cotton cardigan
300 gr  5 mm needles 16 sts per 10cm

22 October 2013 to 28 April 2014