Another ending, another beginning

It’s the end of the year. How did that happen? Same as every year, in a flurry of frantic activity and good eating, spent with lovely friends (though not family this year!)

A strange thing has occurred. I have found myself at the end of the year with not a thing on the needles. Oh sure i’ve got some hibernating projects back in Aus, and I have a swatch of a cardi I’m about to start soon, but I finished up 3 projects this month and have not yet cast anything on!

Forgive the shocking photos, but I finished the most beautiful jumper that I’ve been wanting to knit for absolutely ages two days ago.

Emily by Kim Hargreaves, knit in the recommended Kid Classic

After this photo was taken I did actually lengthen it by 2 inches. I wore it with the dress and it was fine, but i knew it would feel too short with some skirts and all my trousers (not that I wear jeans very often any more!) so I popped in a knitting needle just above the texturing on the hem, snipped away and added in all the extra yarn i had in the stocking stitch section before reworking the hem. Worked very well thank you very much!

I also finished (having knit almost TWICE) my Stellaria shawl. I had to frog it when I was almost finished the first time as I was going to run out of yarn! I frogged it and reworked it with one less repeat and it is now complete and beautiful! Again forgive the crappy blocking photo, but there’s very little space and even less light here at the moment!

Stellaria in a beautiful hand dyed silk and wool from Edinburgh. The colour is actually pretty accurate, it’s a very very soft green

The other project was my one solitary knitted christmas gift, a pair of mitts for darling Kylie. I don’t have a photo as I finished them christmas eve and they went straight into wrapping paper, but I’ll ask her nicely and maybe she’ll oblige…

I will aim to get nicer photos of everything and do a collage early in the new year of 2013’s knits, but some nice things happened – I did a Mystery KAL, I got asked by Twist Collective if they could use my photo of my Mary Jane in their newsletter and I knit quite a few jumpers that I’ve been meaning to knit for a while. My crafting resolutions back in January were to take better photos (true during summer!) and to knit more around my friends. Well despite not really doing much of the latter, I’ve managed to get some pretty hefty projects done!

2013 Round up:

  • hats and headbands – 3 of each.
  • shawls, scarves and cowls – 6, including a half-swapsies cowl with Katie!
  • jumpers and tops – 5! one crocheted, and two short sleeved, but one lace weight!
  • mitts – 2 pairs, both gifts
  • small people things – just the 2 vests for Mat and Gemma’s daughters
  • socks – NONE! but I did knit a pair of spats – which i LOVE! And I made my first pair of felted slippers

So not my most productive year volume wise, but a lot of big projects in there! I also was pretty light on the yarn buying! excluding yarn for gifts and commissions, I bought 24 skeins of yarn (7 of which are felted tweed which was mostly covered by a gift card for my birthday) and swapped one for a skien of madtosh. I also received a beautiful hand dyed skein from Ursula for my birthday. I knit a hell of a lot more than that! (around 40?). So yay me!

I hope your crafting year was fun and productive, and may your new year be filled with yarn, thread, ribbons, pins, fabric and all other things that make you happy!

Mysterious!

I’m taking part in my first mystery knit along! It’s from Boo Knits and I’ve always liked her patterns. It’s Halloween themed, so I was considering using the blood red lace weight I picked up in Bath, but decided to go with a beautiful inky midnight blue that I had just bought in Edinburgh.
I was still umming and ahhing about it when I found out that my friend Christine was also taking part. She did the last little bit of talking me into it and told me about a great bead store in covent garden to pick up some appropriate bling.

I’ve only made a few things with beads but I’m a bit funny about it. I either like a highlight colour (so picking up a fleck in a tweed) , a really bold contrast or a very subtle complementary colour. I went with some slightly iridescent bluey purple beads. They blend in but add a shimmer, like dragonfly wings.

The first clue went up on Tuesday last week and I flew through it. I’ve now almost finished the second clue. Here’s a WIP photo…
*SPOILERS*

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It’s knit from charts, so there are some visual clues for how it’s supposed to look, but it is still weird not having photos to refer to, especially give the nature of unblocked lace! I’m liking it so far, hopefully I’ll love it once we get on to the dramatic edging I’m expecting

Swatching

It appears one cannot have a knitting blog without posting at least once about the joys and perils of swatching.

I am not a swatcher. BUT, I am completely ok with pulling out a ball’s worth of project on the discovery that it is going to be too big (it’s never too small).

You would think that, by now, I would have just learnt to go down a needle size, but it’s not every project! and, to be honest, if i do swatch, I almost always get gauge. SWATCHES LIE!. I think when i knit a swatch, I’m so keen to get it done that i knit furiously and therefore my tension is tighter. Also, I tend to knit on circs, and when i swatch, the stitches stay mostly on the needles and i am SURE this affects the overall tension. So instead I tend to just start knitting, wait until i’m a decent way in (1/2 – 1 ball usually) and then measure. If it’s way off, I’ll start again. If it’s slightly off, I’ll persevere, maybe try it on if i can to see how it’s going.

Then of course there’s the garment that’s perfect as one knits it, but too big once blocked. But generally i find after a wear or two they spring back, not to mention the fact that again, if i knit and wash a swatch, it’s usually fine, but doesn’t take into account the weight of the garment as a whole. Then there’s patterns and knit flat/ knit in the round considerations and i just can’t be doing with it all!! There’s always lovely friends of all shapes and sizes to gift to if worse comes to worst. Also? Knitting can be pulled out and started again. Not ideal with a cardi or jumper, but eh, life rarely gives you do-overs, so look at it in the best light (after swearing a lot)!

This is a tale of a swatch though.

Yes, I swatched! but not so much for gauge, as for colour!

I’m planning on doing little birds by Ysolda Teague. I bought the pattern ages ago when she was donating funds to help Haiti. Since I’m in the UK and my local LYS has Jamieson and Smith shetland, I thought I’d pick out some colours and if not start it while i’m here, at least have it ready to go. I bought a few colours to play with about a year ago (whoops) and finally got around to the onerous task of swatching.

Ignoring the fact that my birdies are completely screwed up (this was more about tension and colour than getting the pattern right) I’m really happy with this.

First tension – I’m getting 14 stitches over 2″ in colour work – the required amount is 28″ over 10cm. Booyah! Also, if anything my tension is a bit tight on this, so it will be a nice change to be able to knit the size i think i am for once!

secondly, colour. I bought a couple of different colours to play with, with the intention of doing the colour scheme I did above, but if it didn’t work, to pick the two or three colours I liked. I honestly thought I would be doing the 2 different colour birdies with just the one colour ‘leaves’. I wanted a bluey green for the leaves (those who know me will not be surprised by that) so thought I’d go a nice contrasty purple for the birds. The middle colour is much more in keeping with the tone of the purple that it shows in the photo. It’s less red and the purple is not quite so blue. So the effect is a row of birdies and leave in a rich, dark colour, then a row of birdies and leaves in a slightly less saturated colour. I really like the effect in real life. In this photo it’s a more stark contrast.

Here’s another photo…

Everyone i’ve showed it to in person thinks that it looks great with the four colours. In the photos i’m not so sure it works. Which is a pity, because i really wanted your opinions on it!! So if you want to give an opinion, just take my word that the raspberry colour is not as rusty as it looks here, but a pinker, slightly less saturated colour.

when I first knit the row of teal, I wasn’t sure against the neutral background, but actually it looks great.

Oh why is this so hard!

help!

A Cross- Continental Cowl

This is Katie

I hope she doesn’t mind me using a rav photo!!

She is my knitting bestie and one of the most awesome housemates I’ve ever had. We had a lot of fun together and I know that whenever we are together we will still have a lot of fun together.

So when Ysolda Teague and Stephanie Dosen (of Tiny Owl Knits) released a BFF friendship cowl pattern on Knitty last year Katie immediately nudged me (remotely) and said, hey now that you are oh so far away, we should totally do this!
So we did!
I have access to all the fun English yarns at the moment, and we had a convenient makeshift-postie in the form of the travelling Ursula who was visiting her family, so I sent Katie two skeins of Old Maiden Aunt in Midnight and kept 2 for myself in Dreicht (a horrible sounding but truly BEAUTIFUL colour)
we worked away making the sport/DK weight yarn look good in what is technically a worsted weight pattern and sent photos of our efforts to each other
experimentation with extra stitches and pattern repeats!

experimentation with extra stitches and pattern repeats!

When at last we had completed our ‘seed pod’ links, we posted them to the other side of the world, complete with little goodies and helloes (I send Katie the most horrendously bad postcard of all time and some british noms)

Then came the task of grafting the links

grafting the first...

grafting the first…

grafting the second!

…grafting the second!

Final step? WEAR! though of course it’s too hot now! but it will get cold again soon and for oh so long. meanwhile, Katie’s link is protecting her from the dreary Melbourne winter!

I did use the inconvenient sunshine to take some awesome pics though!

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How gorgeous is that yarn! such a dream to knit with too. I can’t wait to wear this… well, I can, because i love London in the summer, but it will be a little bit of bliss come the Autumn rains!

Summer is here!

At last, at last, the gloomy spring became a freaking awesome summer, which makes the fact that I’m coming up to 18 months here (thus 6 months to go) that much harder! I LOVE London in the summer. It just becomes a magical place!

The warm weather doesn’t carry the blazing heat of home (although it is humid at times, yuck) but in honour of the season I finished a little cotton project I started last year.

And it was my first crocheted garment for me! I was super worried about it, because despite doing a tension square, the tension was smaller than I expected and I had to do a WHOLE lot of extra pattern repeats to get it to a decent length (the fact I started it *last* summer might have contributed. oops). On the plus side, looks like my crochet  chains are finally getting away from the loosey goosey end of the spectrum!

A sweet summer top!

A sweet summer top!

The pattern is Petal* from Interweaves crotchet Spring 2011 and the yarn was Rowan cotton glace which i managed to get on sale at Liberty when Sharon visited me last year!

I’m really pleased with how it turned out, since the thing about crochet, is that I don’t have the experience to know how to alter shaping or anything like that. So the fact that the sleeves matched the armholes is a bit of a miracle! It’s a little tight under the arms and the neckline is a bit wonky, but i still love it!

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This colour isn’t quite right, it’s a very soft blue

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The lovely shell stitch pattern :D

I’m so super pleased with this, i feel like it’s an amazing accomplishment!

Looking through the remainder of things to work on, it looks like the rest of my time might be spent on heavier garments – jumpers and cardigans and shawls. I’m thinking i have to do another self-imposed sock club next year though! not a pair since i moved!!

Luckily winter is ALWAYS just around the corner here in the UK ,so I’m sure I’ll be luxuriating under piles of wool and mohair and alpaca soon!

So…. It’s now June.

And I have been a very slack blogger indeed.

Here are some things that i made while I was not blogging.

First Up, I mentioned knitting things for little people. well, little people get bigger and grow out of the little things I make for them, and a dear friend recently requested not one, but two new items for her daughters.

Evelyn was given an elephant intarsia vest* when she was a new person, and her little sister Lillian got owls* (because everyone is fond of owls). Of course they are both much bigger now, and mum requested a vest for Evelyn and one for Lillian too. we picked out a selection of cabled vests, and Evelyn picked hers and Lillian picked a different one (of course), we decided on colours, and then i came back to London and made it happen!

The Twisty River Vest for Evelyn

The Street Vest for Lillian

I used Cascade 220 for both since it’s hard wearing, warm and available in great colours. They were both quick and easy patterns and after sending them back to Aus, I got the best thank you I could – a photo with in a week of the vests being worn!

Ok! next up…

For christmas/my birthday, the lovely Mel at Recipe for a Yarn gave me some hand carded fibre. I spun the lovely duck egg blue up before i even left Aus and it became a lovely smooshy bulky 2 ply. It was screaming at me that it wanted to be a cowl, and so, a cowl it is! I wish i’d had a smidgeon more so it could be a little wider, but I love it and it’s very warm and snuggly!

just a simple moss stitch worked in the round til it could be worked no more.

Thank you Mel, I love it!

and, we continue on to…. another long story!

I took up swing dancing last year when i got to London. I absolutely love it, but it’s not exactly something I can do in my winter boots. So this winter I was faced with a problem… either I wear shoes I can dance in and my calves/legs get cold (jeans are also not condusive to dancing) or I wear my boots and have to lug a pair of shoes around, which is just annoying. Until I decided to finally knit myself a piece of nostalgia.

Spats*!

Don’t you just love the buttons? so steampunky!

I finished them in february and thanks to the cold spring, have worn them a few times. they are indeed perfect for wearing with little flats over tights or leggings with my swing dancey type dresses and they are surprisingly effective! I’m very pleased!

And I have apparently developed a thrifty side when it comes to yarn since living in London (which is pricey and has a very small stash available to me), as I used the left over dark grey to whip up a nice chunky tweedy, go with everything, keep me toasty, hat!

Jane*, by Jane Richmond, It shows the Brooklyn Tweed nicely and is really long – not a style I usually go for, but I seem to rock it!

That’s not the only yarn to do me double duty! Late last year I picked up two skeins of the omg-so-soft Juno Alice sock. It’s not really suitable for socks, but it is suitable for lovely shawls. Especially when you have put on said shawl in yarn store and not wanted to take it off, thus leading you to buy the exact same colours in the exact same yarn to do said shawl. Which is what happened.

stripes and lace – so satisfying!

And so I present Selena*. Pretty isn’t it. Sadly it did warm up just as I finished this, so i really haven’t worn it yet!

And the other project? well, I’ve only ever managed to lose one thing on the tube, and it was my beautiful ishbel beret that I made last year from the angora blend I picked up in Gothenburg. *sob* I was gutted. Not only was it a hand knit, but it was made from souvenir yarn that would be a bitch to replace. So when I realised I’d have enough of the contrast colour from this shawl to whip up a replacement, I figured it would fill some of the void my carelessness had left.

My second ishbel beret – a little tight in the band, but soft and delicate!

And one other thing to show you before i disappear off into internet silence again.

I picked up some jitterbug on sale (thanks Loop!) and not being able to decide which colour i prefered I got both Florentina and Velvet Olive, a perfect combo for stripes. At first I was talked into doing the Tempest cardigan, but i’ve never really been in love with it, despite seeing some amazing finished products (Sonia and Sharon come to mind) and I’ve certainly never really liked it with a strongly variegated yarn. So I found this pattern instead – Elfe* – a very simple, elegant tee, that works quite well with a semi-solid picking up a tone in the variegated yarn! It was bloody easy too and done in a month! this i HAVE worn a few times, perfect for London ‘summer’!

Such pretty colours! great with shorts or jeans.

It was also my first time doing the contiguous sleeve method, which i really liked and would totally do again. Top down seamless is the way to go!

Well, there’s my post that proves I have been productive in other ways, if not in the blogging sense. I’m currently working on the BFF cowl with Katie (more to come) and my first crocheted garment for me! exciting times.

*ravelry link

And this is why i knit (for other people)

Since I got to the UK and have been able to show off my skill with needles and hook to a whole new batch of friends, I’ve heard the following comment a lot…

“oooh, you could sell those”

or a variation on the theme…

“Have you ever thought about selling things?”

To which I sometimes smile and just say no, or sometimes explain i tried that and it was hard, or for my closer, more patient, actually want a response friends, I explain that actually, what people would pay versus the time and money I invest would make it a pointless exercise.

But the real reason is this.

I am a selfish knitter. I knit for pleasure, so I can take pride in showing off something I created with my own hands, so I can have something that is exactly how I want it (most of the time) and to pass hours that I would otherwise feel are wasted (or my excuse to watch television).

And because of this, when I do knit for other people, it is for one reason and one reason only. Because I care.

The wonderful Yarn Harlot posted today about the love that goes into a knitted present and how it stays with it. How wrapping oneself up in a handknitted gift really is like a woolly hug. And this is exactly how I think about knitting for other people. For both family and friends, and for new little people who don’t even realise that the thing that is keeping them warm is doing so in more ways than one. Even when I take requests, I accept them because I know that the finished object will not only be valued, but will be a reminder of my love and affection. (seriously, my most recent request I argued against receiving any kind of payment, but the recipient objected!)

I have only been in England a year, but I have made 3 gifts for people here and a few for little people back home. You’ve seen Kylie’s hat and I told you about John’s winter set and now here’s the third…

Fade Fingerless Gloves
or “Proper Thug Mitts” as Sam put it

After knitting Kylie’s hat, I offered to knit something for Sam for his christmas/birthday present (as the two events bookend the coldest part of the year). He asked for some mitts in purple and black and I immediately thought of this pattern* (as I have done it before for another male friend* of mine with great success)

It took me a while to find the right shade of purple in the right kind of yarn, but i finally did just after christmas and in less than a week I whipped up a pair of mitts for my dearest, dearest Sam.

I was worried they might be a bit snug, but he loves them!

And I love him.

See how this works?

<3

 

 

*ravelry link

The Winter of the Jumper

It’s been cold. I’m sure it’s not overly cold by a lot of the world’s standards. Definitely not by Canadian Standards, or Scandanavian standards, or Russian standards, but by little old Aussie standards? cold. there’s been SNOW. I mean come on!

Mid last year i finished my lettuce pullover with a few mods. It looked a little like this:

I love this jumper. completely and utterly. It’s lightweight, warm and flattering.

So I decided to knit another one.

I can hear you all now. what? are you crazy? that took you 6 whole months. It’s a jumper done in freaking LACEWEIGHT you fool!

I said the same things, believe me, but when i saw that Loop had gotten in some new wollmeise lace in my favourite colour, it was only a matter of time before i managed to talk myself into it. About 30 minutes, to be precise. There was the knowledge that great colours go quickly in the WM lace, the love for this beautiful object i’d created, excitement about perfecting it even more with a few more mods, and the knowledge that I would be flying to and from Australia at christmas.

That was the cincher. After all, I’d started my first lettuce on the plane to the UK, seemed only fitting that I take one solitary stocking stitch project back with me.

And now, less than two months after casting on, I have my second, even more perfect, lettuce pullover

forgive the fuzziness, my camera never knows where to focus in the mirror!

But this was not the only jumper knitted for myself these past cold months. Late last year I finally got to knit with the delight that is Rowan Lima. I’d been wanting to knit Briar by Kim Hargreaves in this yarn for a while, and when the colour i wanted was discontinued i thought it was time to buy it, and after knitting a jumper in laceweight, one in a gauge of 20 or so stitches over 4″ seemed very appealing.

It was damn speedy too!

It’s a deep boatneck, and sadly the alpaca is stretching out, so it’s sort of slouchy and sloppy, but SO warm and cuddly!

And super soft too! very touchable.

So my body has been nice and warm, but lets not forget about my hands and head! while i came prepared with many mittens and gloves, fingerless and otherwise, I used the lovely shetland yarn purchased in Edinburgh to create some finger warming beauties. I’m highly aware that mittens are overkill for aussie winters, so i’ve been getting the most out of them!

I love them! Anemoi by Eunny Jang! I haven’t blocked them, because i started wearing them, but they’ve been settling with wear, so the stitches look nice and even, if i do say so myself!

I also used some of the left overs from Briar to create a super warm squishy (if not completely suited for my head/face) hat – Kat, another Kim pattern!

I’m working on some spats so I can wear them over stockings and little flats when on my way to swing dancing, and two vests for a dear friend’s daughters back in Aus. Then it’s time for another jumper!

2012 round up

lettuce jumper * meret * petit artichaut * original cowl * louise as dress * aeolian shawl * offset raglan * miss moreland’s neck warmer * waffle mitts * sylvi * poppy gloves * hydrangea cowl * veyla mitts *sherilyn shawl * original hat * anemoi mitts * original mask * chevalier * poppy hat

2012:

25 projects finished

  • 5 presents for new people
  • 3 presents for not-so-new people
  • 3 cowls
  • 3 adult jumpers/coats
  • 4 adult hats (one lost!!! *cry*)
  • 2 shawls (one handspun)
  • 5 sets mitts/mittens
  • one crochet mask

This year has been a bit of a selfish knitting year – or at least it would have been if all my friends didn’t keep reproducing! This year i got to knit for some little girls so I went a bit crazy on the pink, dresses and general femininity. Living in London, I also went a bit crazy on the WARM, which was fun. I’ve made two jumpers which i love, including the laceweight lettuce, which i love so much i’m knitting another. Given it took 6 months all up, that shows how much i love it, though i’m steaming ahead on my second one, thanks to 2 25+ hour flights to aus and back.

I feel like i wasn’t very productive this year, which i think comes down to a few things: fewer regular knitting nights  (I miss you richmond girls!), fewer knitting friends in general, more non-knitting conducive socialising and a few really long-term projects (lettuce and aeolian took up a good 2-3 months of almost bygamous knitting)

I’ve barely been spinning as it turns out i do love spinning on the wheel SO much more than the spindle. I did spin a little when i was back in Australia which reminded me how much fun it is to watch this fluff become this useful thing. I will try to spindle a bit more!

I’ve also discovered that I’m even worse at taking photos of FOs when it gets dark at 4pm! I finished 2 Rowan Lima projects – briar and kat – months ago and am yet to take a photo of either, even bad ones!

So, my 2013 crafting resolutions are to photograph my FOs properly, get my london friends more used to my knitting in public and knit (mostly) from the stash under my bed – i don’t want to have to take it back to Aus when they kick me out in 2014!