Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Rowan Summer Tweed Striped Sweater

I spent last summer knitting this. I have knitted with Rowan Summer Tweed before, and it is one of my favourite yarns. I planned to knit a striped sweater from the odd balls that I bought from charity shops.

I started with a top down sweater, but it didn't work out. I got muddled with the striping because I had not worked out a design in advance. And the tension was wrong so it was too large.  It reminded me of the awkwardness of doing stripes in a seamless garment, because of the bulk where you carry yarns along.

I didn't give up. I started again with a plain seamed design in my usual 3 row stripes. No pattern, just back and front with 3 needle cast off joining the shoulders, and then picking up stitches for the sleeves, knitting downwards. So the only seams were the side and sleeve seams. Very simple. This time I had planned the stripe pattern.  The colours on the body and the sleeves didn't match deliberately - because there wasn't enough yarn.
The knitting was easy. Finished I tried it on, and decided it was no good. The sleeves were too narrow – I had thought so when I was knitting, but I hadn't got a tape measure out to check. The rib pattern at the bottom made it flare over the hips, just where it was not needed. This was at the beginning of September. I couldn't decide what to do with it – I didn't have the heart to start again, and I didn't want to give it away either. So I put it away for the winter.
This spring I got it out again, and tried it on. It wasn't that bad. The sleeves grew comfortable with wearing, and I could ignore the extra fabric over the hips. So now I wear it, and I rather like it. I like the texture of the yarn, and I like the stripe pattern. It goes to show that knitting adapts to your body, given a chance.
Rowan Summer Tweed striped sweater
Pattern: my own
Yarn: Rowan Summer Tweed silk cotton
Needles: 4.5 mm
Size: Small
Weight: 380 gr
7 June to 3 September 2016

Monday, 22 May 2017

Thr nrxt blanket

The next blanket, #185, was going to be pink, but when it came to it there was not so much pink yarn any more. I added blues and the usual background colours of grey, beige and light brown. The blanket looks subdued with no strong contrasts. The strong pinks blend in nicely. There is angora for softness and some alpaca.

I decided not to unravel any knitted items this time, because there is so much yarn set aside for the standard blankets. In theory the store should go down with every blanket, because one knitted item is on average one third of the weight of a blanket. What actually happens is that I add to it by buying yarn for the blankets. Any yarn, as long as it a natural fibre and the right weight. I have trained myself now to consider the colour as well, and to reject colours that won't look good in the blankets. I enjoy trying out odd balls of yarn this way. But the store just increases...

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Willow crochet blanket


I like the colourful blankets made from crochet blocks that have become popular in recent years. This one bought in a charity shop was a favourite, especially because of the white surround. I did granny squares myself many years ago, and I was looking for a different pattern now.

The yarn I had in mind was Rowan's Siena 4 ply, a cotton yarn. I like cotton for crochet because of its crispness, and it is easy to unravel. The yarn comes in several guises, Jaeger, Rowan Classic and plain Rowan. I bought the main lot ten years ago when the Jaeger version was discontinued, and then I had in mind to knit cotton fair isle. I tried, and it didn't work out. Since then I have bought more in charity shops. The ones without a label may well be a different brand. Some are thicker, and I wonder it they are Cotton Glace. Some are not mercerised, and they are probably something else. In the end I had a large number of shades. I excluded the darker and the white ones. I had 13 balls of the Clover shade, and I set it aside for surrounds.

My book of crochet blocks is Jan Eaton's 200 crochet blocks. There are other books, but I think this one is comprehensive enough. I briefly thought about doing a number of different blocks, to try out patterns. But there were so many shades that I thought it would be too confusing for the eye, and I looked for one block. My criteria were that it would have no more than three shades, that it would be crocheted in the round, and that it would appeal to me. There were just a few candidates in the end, and I decided on the Willow pattern.

The pattern was easy to memorise and enjoyable to crochet. Somebody on Ravelry had found problems with round 5, and I did too. The sample block seemed fine, but with the rest I was uneasy – it didn't seem right. I ignored it though, because it looked OK at a quick glance.

I worked out an elaborate system to choose shades for the blocks, to achieve as many combinations as possible. I really do not like having to select things at random by myself. I didn't set out to eliminate duplicates, but I may have, because so far I haven't come across any.

I had decided to do the last two rounds in the Clover shade, and to use the final round to crochet the blocks together. So I did all the blocks first and arranged them trying to avoid putting similar blocks together. This is a stage that I should have spent more time on. It would be restful for the eye if it could discern some kind of order, but here it can't. It might have worked better with fewer shades.

When I calculated the number of blocks needed I was under the impression that the last two rounds would be trebles. They were in fact double crochet, so the blocks, and the whole blanket, ended up smaller than I wanted. I would have had enough yarn for more blocks, but possibly not for the Clover surrounds, so I left it small. I had had enough of the crochet, and I wanted it finished. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't knitting.

I devised the last round with spaces for attaching to the next block, and it worked well. I liked the ridge between the blocks that appeared naturally. I did an edging of several rounds of double crochet, with one cyclamen round, and ended with a round of crab stitch

I like looking at the finished blanket. It is heavy for a blanket. I doubt I will ever do anything similar again. I will do crochet, but in rows so that it is quicker. Each block seemed to take such a long time, and then joining them. It all took ages, and I had to set myself a target, to finish it in a reasonable time. So that I can go back to knitting.

Willow crochet blanket

Pattern: Jan Eaton 200 crochet blocks – 189 Willow
Yarn: Jaeger/Rowan Classic/Rowan Siena 4 ply cotton
Hook: 2.5mm
Size: 130cm wide 165 cm long
Weight: 1630gr

30 November 2016 to 31 March 2017