Sunday, 19 October 2014

Patchwork blanket C17

The name is misleading.  The pattern is called Patchwork shawl, so that is why I chose the name, but my selection of yarn does not make it look like patchwork.

It started with the yarn.  After the baby blanket in King Cole Mirage I could not resist buying the four balls of orange King Cole Riot.  I presume the name is because of the bright shades.  Later I found two more balls of the same dye lot in a small yarn shop so I bought those too.  That would be enough for a child's blanket.  Riot is 70% acrylic and 30% wool, but it still feels nice, and it is the same single ply as Mirage.

I intended this for bus knitting.  The garterstitch bias blocks are pleasant to knit, but joining them takes time, so I thought that knitting strips would require less joining, and would still be portable enough for the bus.  So I came across this book - The Beatrix Potter Needlepoint Book by Pat Menchini published in 1990.  Among the embroidery patterns are a couple of knitting patterns, and I liked this one, for the Patchwork shawl, knitted in wavy strips.  It is actually hexagons - first you increase each side and then decrease.  The pattern calls for change of yarn at the narrow points, and that created the patchwork effect.  There were yarn overs at each end every two rows to create a lighter piece.  I relied on the striping effect of the yarn to create a more uneven patchwork.

The pattern uses double knitting wool on size 4.5mm needles.  I used 3.75mm on Riot which is a thin DK yarn, so I calculated the number of stitches needed to do one strip per ball, and get a blanket of the right proportions.  I underestimated - I could have done broader strips and still got a good sized blanket.  Because of my tighter tension I did increases/decreases every four rows instead of every two.  Later on I found another ball of Riot, in a different yarn lot, and it shows that the middle strip is lighter than the others.

The knitting was fine and relaxing.  The pattern joins the strips using an oversewing stitch.  I wanted to see if I could crochet them together, and after some experimention I found a method that works and does not look too bad.  I finished the blanket with one row of crab stitch.  The joining was made easier because of the yarn overs.

Overall I am quite pleased with this blanket, although I do think it looks clumsy.  This must be the end of my knitting with King Cole synthetic yarns, although I must say that I am impressed with their premium acrylic.  It feels nice, if you must do synthetic.  A lot of blanket patterns use synthetic yarns, and this would be my choice.

I am not a fan of Beatrix Potter.  Anthromorphism did not appeal to me as a child nor does it now.  The book is based on BP's paintings, and few of the patterns uses the familiar figures from her children's books.  There are a number of very attractive needle point projects.  Recently I have seen Pat Menchini's patterns in knitting magazines.  Unexciting I thought, until I saw her pattern for a peplum sweater.

Patchwork child's blanket C17
King Cole Riot, acrylic 70% wool 30%, DK weight
size 3.75mm needles
125 cm by 95 cm, 680 gr
Knitted 7 July 2013 to 20 August 2014

Sunday, 5 October 2014

The nexf blanket

The next blanket, #163, is a dark one.  I always enjoy these, particularly if, like this one, I manage to avoid bright colours.  There are plenty of dark yarns in the yarn store, and because they are dark it is unlikely that the shades will clash.  The lighter grey yarn that does show up is the angora yarn that I'm trying to finish.  It adds softness, but the unevenness disturbs a little.

The first sweater that I unravelled was this one with a hunting scene.  This is the second from the same pattern that I found, and I knew it was a Rowan design because the first one had a Rowan label inside the collar.  This one is exactly the same pattern as the first one, the same yarns, the same colours, but it is knitted with the yarn doubled so it is larger, and because it is knitted to a tighter tension it feels less nice.

I like using yarn from picture patterns because it will come in unequal lengths, and that is good for a blanket using random lengths of wool.  I have done it so many times now, so that when I wind yarn into smaller balls they tend to end up the same length.  But this sweater - the larger one in doubled yarn - has not been knitted intarsia style.  The background yarn has been carried along behind the motives.  I didn't notice that when I bought it.  Well, there is plenty of lovely Rowan double knitting wool in it anyway.  The smaller one is in intarsia.  I am postponing unravelling it because it fits me perfectly.

I distinctly remember finding this pattern in an old Rowan magazine as a Kim Hargreaves design, but now I can't find it, so I may be wrong.  The design is attractive, similar to Joseph designs at the time.

The second sweater was a navy Jigsaw mohair nylon blend, 4 ply weight, knitted in a lace aran pattern design as a tunic.  This is from the 1990s, and it is the third I have unravelled.  The yarn is nice, easier to handle than blends with a higher mohair content.  The tunic is nice too.  I considered, briefly, keeping it when I tried it on.

I did find other things when I was looking for the hunting scene pattern.  This sweater is in fact by Kim Hargreaves, Chelsea style from her 1991 book, Kim Hargreaves Collection.  The pattern used Rowan Grainy Silk, Silkstones and Fine Cotton Chenille doubled while mine was knitted in ordinary double knitting wool with some mohair in different colours, but the design was the same.

And this waistcoat is a Louisa Harding pattern, Flamingo, from Rowan Magazine 19.  I was surprised, because the lurex yarn didn't point to Rowan for me, but at the time they did a Lurex yarn.  Also the pattern uses Rowan Cotton Glace, while the yarn used struck me more as Handknit Cotton rather than Cotton Glace.  But Cotton Glace has evolved over the years, I found, when comparing balls of different vintages.  The earlier ones seem thicker because they were less tightly plied.

My collection of Rowan magazines is still incomplete, and I look for the missing ones in charity shops.  A few months ago I came across a pile of half a dozen, so I picked out the ones I wanted.  It was when I came home and looked at them more thoroughly that I noticed Kate Moss's face on the cover of one, number 10.  I never thought I would be able to get hold of that one as you read of it being a collector's item with a hefty price tag.  Well, I did it.  It is not in very good condition, dog eared and worn, but I'm pleased.