Friday, 10 July 2015

July WIPs

Here are the things I am currently working on:

"Wee Melia" by Ysolda Teague in RipplesCrafts Merino DK "Gunther's Seat"

I bought the wool for this at the Highland Wool Festival in Dingwall in May. Helen pulled out the colour to show me as soon as I walked into her booth, then clinched the deal by having a shop sample knit up in warm gold for Little Djinn to try on. It's like she knows me or something. I cast it on as soon as we got home, but Little Djinn spotted the then-latest issue of Knit Now magazine that arrived that morning with a kit to knit a little doggy and she insisted I knit that post haste. Wee Melia was ignored for the Hapalong and MKAL but I have a few days before the Scollay-along starts so maybe I can finish the hood.

"Brainless Socks" by Yarnissima in Opal Cotton Premium "Ozean"

I started these back before Easter time. They're 30% cotton which will make them better for warm spring days although it's July and I'm either wearing my wool socks or going barefoot with a lot more of the former. This is my walking around project and I am almost done with the gusset increases on the second sock. Let's all please take a moment to admire the fact that my stripes line up. Mad skills, yo. Obviously this could all go to pot when I turn the heel.

In the languishing pile we have "Harringbone Rib Socks" by Kristi Schueler in RipplesCrafts BFL Sock "Ola"

These are for Chris and, yes, he picked the colour. The pattern is a two row repeat and I keep forgetting which row I'm on, usually mid row. The yarn is also really skinny, making progress almost as slow when I work on them as when I don't. They're not watching Telly knitting, which is currently as much attention as I can spare a knitting project. I'm on the second sock so I really don't want to frog them and start over with a different pattern :-/

"Terry's Pullover" by Carol Feller in Jamieson & Smith Aran "Olive"

This one keeps losing out to shinier projects. I knit to the armholes and started on the sleeves before admitting my fabric would stop bullets and it would never fit. I frogged it, went up on both the needles and pattern, and started again. I started with the sleeves, two at a time, to check my gauge, and then couldn't find them when it was time to join them to the body so I figured I'd graft them on at the end, which is where I am now. The first sleeve went on easy enough, but the second on wasn't lining up for the 2x2 rib racing stripes. After two days of trying I put it in time out and there it sits. 

Meanwhile I am swatching for the Scollay-along. I usually have to go down on the needles so I started with 3.75mm needles and my unblocked swatch is 20x28 with a blocked target of 22x30 so I'm close. I'm swatching on the recommended 4.0mm needles as well and I'll block them at the same time to see what I get. CO is Sunday, which is a work day for me.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

KAL Fever

I am a sucker for a Knit-Along, when someone organizes a group of people to all knit the same thing, which is probably why I'm doing two right now with another prepped to start when they're completed.

Back in April Louise Scollay (of the Knit British podcast - confession, I don't actually listen as podcasts don't work for me, but I read her blog and follow her on Twitter) organized a Hapalong in appreciation of traditional Shetland shawls/blankets. I actually knit one before, for Little Djinn, before I knew the history or design. I wasn't sure I even wanted to knit another hap or which one I would knit - a traditional work-a-day one like Gundrun Johnson (Shetland Trader)'s Hansel or a modern interpretation like Kate Davies Hap for Harriet (though I knew I don't have the bandwidth for a stunning lacy christening shawl in single ply and dripping with lace). But by the time the KAL kicked off I'd seen so many beautiful patterns and colour combinations that I simply couldn't resist. Gundrun's craftsy class and pattern for Hansel were on sale at the time, so I pulled some two-ply odds and ends from my stash left over from a fair-isle hat kit and cast on a mini hap. Except I didn't have enough for the main colour so I bought a 100g skein from Judith Glue, which is a lot of wool for a little project. I'm not a huge fan of video tutorials in the same way that podcasts don't work for me, but I found Gundrun's to be very soothing and I'd watch it again just to have her gently nattering on in the background whilst I knit. (I'm really really bad at paying attention to the content of what people are saying; invariably I try to open a book to read at the same time which works with music but not so much spoken word).  My little shawl was a delight to knit so I bought some more coordinating colours and started a full-size version, which is still in progress because I put it down to cast on Gundrun's Mystery KAL, a knit-along where you know what kind and how much wool to buy and, in this case, that it would be a shawl, but not what the finished object would look like. 

A new clue was released each week in June with four clues in total and while I was about a week behind for the whole thing, I now have a stunning shawl to show for it. I used Old Maiden Aunt's sparkle sock yarn in Twu Wuv, Berry Good, and Bramble for an ombré effect. I was betting that the MKAL would count as a hap for the Hapalong and fortunately I was right so it counts for both. I've picked up my Hansel again and was only a few rows from the edge so I'm on the (slow) home stretch. Amusingly, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (Yarn Harlot, a woman who is about as famous as a knitter can be) is currently knitting a hap - though I don't believe she's used the word - for a niece or nephew who is minutes from meeting the world and she's blogging the frustration of committing to a knit on edging (mine is 9-18 stitches per row, two rows bind off one stitch around the border. Hers looks wider, and we won't know until she blocks it but I'm guessing hers hap will be at least two feet wider, corner to corner, than mine) on a deadline.

For our anniversary, Chris gave me the wool for my next KAL, the Scollay cardigan designed by Karie Westermann (Karie Bookish) for Louise Scollay, co-hosted by her at Knit British and Isla of the British Yarn Shop. This one starts when the Hapalong ends, and I started swatching last weekend.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Sheep Carousel: St-eek!

Another photo tutorial of me trying new things, this time it's steeking!

The competition for the Highland Wool Festival in Dingwall weekend before last was a knit or crochet tea/coffee cosy and as I've been meaning to knit Kate Davies' Sheep Carousel I went for it. I used some stash leftover from knitting her Sheep Heid back in 2011 (there's now a kit so you don't have to buy a full skein of every colour). Sheep Carousel involves Fair Isle stranded colourwork, which obviously I'd done before, and two techniques new to me: Latvian Braids and steeking.

It knit up really quickly; the braids made perfect sense and are really cute, and steeking turned out to only be a little bit eek-y:

Unsteeked teapot:

Steek panel:
Crochet reinforcement:
Cutting! Eek!
Neatly bound edges:
Repeat on the other side, then I whip stitched the steek panels to the inside. I didn't bother with ribbon edging as I figured it wouldn't get a lot of use. It didn't fit our tea pots - they have a lip like a jug, not a spout like the pattern assumes, and after a cursory search in local charity shops didn't lead to an appropriate tea pot, I decided to donate it to the silent auction. Chris gave me an automatic teapot for Christmas so I really don't need another one just to model my cosy. And no, I didn't win anything in the contest.
I did see a model a great deal cuter than any teapot whilst there, though: Little Djinn in the RipplesCrafts booth sample of Ysolda's Wee Melia. She didn't want to take it off and give it back, so of course I had to buy enough to make one she can keep in a rich orange (sample is Warm Gold).

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Pompoms! DIY Centerpeice

We had a little tea party for two of Little Djinn's friends and their parents Easter weekend and I wanted something for a center-piece on the table so I grabbed some green acrylic yarn that I picked up in my brief crochet period (after I tried to cut off my middle finger and couldn't hold knitting needles) and my trusty (never used) pompom maker and some little Easter-themed figures from the grocery store:

Pompom maker, expanded:

Pompom maker, assuming the position:
Start wrapping yarn around one side:
then wrap around other side:
make sure both sides are wrapped really full:
cut around the side, following the groove:
cut all the strings:
tie a string around the middle:
release the arms:
all four of them:
pop the centers, Pompom!:
Arrange in a pleasing manner:
Pictured in a glass bowl with a small vase of flowers in the middle, on a green washcloth. I made medium and large pompoms until I ran out of yarn, placed them around the inner vase like hills, and placed sheep and bunnies on the pompoms.

Friday, 29 May 2015

A Hat, a Headband, and Another Hat

At the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, one of my only yarn purchases was a skein of Old Maiden Aunt's beautiful Superwash BFL DK in the colour Midnight, which is a lovely tonal dark purple with hints of violet and navy. It's the recommended yarn for Karie Bookish's Baskerville which I've admired since it was released in the OMA accessories yarn club in 2012. I've ordered OMA yarn online (sock yarn back in March of that year and while the colours are lovely they're perhaps not ones I would have picked out in person. Taking pictures of colours is an art, not a science (for example, looking at the website, I would have thought Midnight was a dark blue with purple undertones - it's very much a purple), so I put OMA on the list of "squish in person". I'm so glad I finally got a chance! I cannot say enough nice things about the wool or the colour.
I'm really happy with the hat, too. Tams/berets frame my face and suit me more than beanies, and it was a pleasure to knit. I particularly like how neatly the crown decreases fit with the lace pattern. Little Djinn really likes my hat, too.
Too much. Every time I turn around she's pulling it out of the pram and wandered off with it. This from a child who won't otherwise wear a hat. I should probably accept the inevitable and just knit a second one. The colour on her is the accurate one.
My Baskerville only used about half of the skein so I knit another pattern I had queued for years, Knitted Bliss' Strada Headband. I made mine a little shorter, used a provisional CO, and grafted the ends together to make a loop rather than a button closure. It is perfect for keeping my ears warm around the house or a little bit of warmth (and hair control!) on a warmish spring day. We had a bunch of those back in March when I knit it and not so many since. I still have around 10g of wool left so I added it to my DK toys stash.
Continuing my Karie Bookish love-fest, she released a free hat pattern around Easter, Seaforth. I knit it with some mystery yarn I was given when a friend of a friend decided knitting wasn't the hobby for her and destashed everything. I used just under half the wool and I'm thinking of maybe doing a cowl in the same stitch pattern with the remainders. The hat itself was a fun knit, the ribbing in particularly reminding me of dancing a zweifacher. Alas it's slightly too big for me (a risk when doing a yarn sub, particularly with mystery wool) but I figured if it didn't fit me I would pass it on to someone else,, in this case, Chris who appreciates a warm hat that covers his ears and likes bright colours and patterns.
Little Djinn likes this one, too.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2015!

When last we blogged, I had just finished my Byatt in time to show it off at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. In fact I was weaving in ends (only four, thankfully) on the train ride down on Friday. The train ride was...long. It's usually only 3.5 hrs to Edinburgh, but we were sharing a car with both hen and stag parties, which quickly merged into one big cacophony. Then the doors wouldn't lock so we sat there for a good span of time before they decided to continue straight to Perth with the conductor running up and down the train begging people to stay away from the doors. When we got to Perth, they said we could wait for the next train in about an hour (two cars to our four) and take our chances, or go outside and coaches would take us to Edinburgh. Coaches, right? Only after we'd all been standing outside for about 10 minutes did they admit that the coaches would arrive at the same time as the train and we couldn't go back and wait for it because it was already full. We almost missed the coaches arriving as they'd parked around the corner and we'd go inside to get out of the wind, which made us just about the last people on. The good news is that our coach was less than half full, the bad news is that it had the drunk hen and stag parties and now they were playing music on someone's phone and singing along without knowing the words. By the time we got to Edinburgh I was...twitchy.

Fortunately the rest of our trip passed smoothly, including the first class train ride back (our first Virgin train in Scotland, the big service from London with all the free food and drinks). Amy came up from London that evening and we had dinner at the hotel (we'd talked about going for Mexican but, despite taking a nap, Little Djinn was manic and liable to fall apart which eventually she did, so we opted to stay close. Highlight from dinner, Little Djinn got the waiter to do Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes with her.

I caught a taxi over early to get to my Professional Finishing class. Towards the end, the woman on my right asked if I'd actually learned anything as I seemed to be familiar with most of the things the instructor mentioned. I hadn't really, but being largely self-taught as a knitter I've discovered some, uh, interesting stylistic techniques in knitting that were making things a lot more difficult than they need to be and, as she herself had said at the beginning, one doesn't know where the holes in one's knowledge are. I do read a lot of knitting blogs (if you wonder if anyone reads blogs: yes, yes I do. I just, as a general rule, never respond) and have picked up a lot of "expert" tips, I just may not have actually tried them myself. So I didn't learn anything new, but I did have a really really fun time being in the class. I wish all of those knitters were regulars at my local knit night. Then I snapped my seat-mates brand new knit pro interchangeable tip when showing her how to tighten them properly. Gah. I was mortified. I gave her my extra fixed length circs (pony, and I never use them). It was only the knowledge that knit pro are guaranteed against things like that and there'd be a dozen retailers in the marketplace who could exchange them for new kept me from dying on the spot. It was a close thing. 

After the class, I walked with another lady over to the market place (yay for someone who knew where we were going - I'd left my phone at home and couldn't even google for directions). I was a little early for meeting Amy (I'd picked a stall near the entrance and named a time by which I should be done with my class) so I went to the Old Maiden Aunt stall for a quick look-see as two patterns on my "wool to acquire for projects on the short list" called for her yarn. I'd ordered wool from her in the past and, while it was nice, the colours weren't quite what I was expected and I really wanted to see them in person before buying anything else. Lilith's colours are as lovely in person as I'd hoped. I settled on one skein of superwash BFL DK in "midnight", a dark mottled purple (which I see as grey on her website). It is deliciously soft and I've already used it.

Amy and I wandered around the market place together, doing a quick flyby to see what there was, and then we caught up with Chris and Little Djinn, who had decided to join us at the convention rather than do their own thing and risk not meeting up in time for the train. LD elected to go with me while Daddy got coffee and then as soon as he'd walked off, started in with wanting food. Gah. We finished our circuit (I bought one more skein of yarn, a silk alpaca lace weight that changes from pale pink to dark purple for a pi shawl; a pair of 2.75 chiaogoo circs; and some soak Flatter spray for freshening wool between washes), found Chris again, and got lunch for LD and me and then it was time to go so Amy could catch her train.

It's not really surprising, given how briefly I was at the market place, that I didn't run into many people I know. I saw Hellen of Ripplescrafts long enough to exchange a moment of significant eye contact (her booth was hopping and I only had time to squish her two new bases - I'll see her and her yarns at the Highland Wool Festival in Dingwall in May). I also saw Karie, designer of my Byatt shawl, just barely long enough for a quick hug as we rushed in opposite directions. (Her partner, the famous Dave, snapped this quick picture - I think I was halfway through taking my hat off when I saw them!) that's it. Those are the only people I know to say hello to who I saw at EYF - and one of them I didn't even get to say hello to! 

My Byatt did receive admiration, both for the beautiful wool and lovely design. A woman in my class recognized it as the "infamous Byatt" and Lilith of OMA said she had hoped it was her yarn so she'd have been responsible for such beautiful colours. The woman at Baa Ram Ewe asked for permission to stroke the shawl on my shoulder, wanting to touch such loveliness. Later, another knitter walked up and ran her finger down the shawl - down my cleavage - and said "very nice." Those two interactions are pretty much a masterclass in the difference between "good touch" and "bad touch".

Next year we are not traveling on EYF day, it's just too stressful. Dates have been announced, the 18th and 19th of March (a Friday and Saturday), with classes starting Thursday. Life willing, we will be there!

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

A Byatt for EYF

In the build up to The Edinburgh Yarn Festival, one of my favourite designers, Karie Westermann, released a new shawl pattern, Byatt. I used to be a shawl knitter, back when things like not having to match gauge or select a similar yarn and it not really mattering how big or small the finished item came out were my primary considerations in deciding what to knit. But a few years ago I decided that I really want to be a garment knitter, socks and sweaters, with a selection of head- and hand-coverings to get me through the winter. But as my Twitter timeline filled with people's (judiciously retweeted) plans to make and wear Byatts to EYF, my No More Shawls resolve melted and, I reasoned, I had appropriate wool (two skeins or Ripples Crafts 100% BFL superwash in a natural cream and teal blue) -already wound into cakes. Kismet!

I cast-on in plenty of time and worked away on the garter stitch section and had just reached the two colour stripy section when I looked in my project and realized...I was almost out of my main colour! It hadn't been a mistake when I listed them as 50g balls, they really were half the length I needed! I searched Helen's site for the same colours on the same base to no avail, and settled on a skein of blue with a hint of teal and a complimentary silver, hoping I could switch to a similar colour-way on the stripes without having a jarring change and having to start over.

Readers, I had to start over. The blue did have hints of teal but nothing like the colour I'd started with. That's the bad new; the good news is that the new shade was a million billion times better (and it's not like I disliked the teal, I'd bought it after all) than the first one. The blue and silver took my Byatt from a project I'd planned to knit, wear to EYF, and give away if I found it didn't suit (after all, I have a cupboard full of shawls I never wear) to something I reach for every day. 

I spent every waking moment, the week before EYF knitting. I ran out of my main colour, the blue, with exactly one row left to knit so I skipped it and started on the other side with the silver. I finished the picot bind-off (is there anything worse when you're down to the wire?) with just enough time to soak and block it Thursday night before our Friday morning train to Edinburgh. I didn't find a shawl pin I liked at EYF, so I ordered one from Nicholas And Felic off etsy.

I could not be happier with my Byatt. My ravelry queue may have suddenly acquired a bunch of two-colour shawls.