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!

Happy New Year!

It’s 2012. but you knew that, because you are on the interwebs, which means you are looking at some kind of electronic equipment that knows the date and time. But i digress

Happy New Year my lovely crafterly friends, from near and far – WordPress tells me that i have readers all over the world, but particularly from the UK (see you there soon!) and US! so Hi! I also had 47 SF cable car’s worth of people traipse across my site. which is lovely! i also just realised that may well be the first time i have ever written or perhaps even read the word traipse. I had absolutely no idea how to spell it, but i guessed and I think i’m right, so yay!

My year of being a Notorious sock knitter with the Rockin’ Sock club has come to a close. My last installment for the year has been my favourite – which is good. It’s a bit of a pity, because i found the experience to be a little underwhelming. I didn’t LOVE any of the colourways this year, though i had a lot of respect for the dyeing, especially with aubergenius and pinky swear (Jan) which were such a perfect match. The patterns were a bit hit and miss for me. The ones i liked i felt I had seen similar things before and the ones i felt were really original didn’t grab me at all. And while the community were lovely and welcoming, i wasn’t as involved as i could have been. But still, I have done it and i can cross it off my knitting bucket list!

Comfort and Joy - the November (and final) instalment of RSC 2011

I finally finished my wallflower socks`, and before the end of the year too! They took up the last 3 months of my ‘sock a month’ year, so i ended up 1 pair behind (i finished an extra pair in january, though i started them in december ’10). I have the remaining two ‘parcels’ of yarn+pattern there, and one i will definitely take with me to the land of the engers when i head to the UK in late Feb.

I should also add that these were only my second stranded sock and my first time using wollmeise!

FINALLY! Wallflower, but Stephanie van der Linden, in Wollmeise (Stella Polaris) and an undyed merino cashmere from Wired for Fibre

Yes, I have my UK Visa and i’m heading off and it is STUPID the amount of time i spend planning what yarn is coming with me, what will go happily to storage and what will go to mum so she can post it to me along with mail, summer clothes and other goodies. With all the other planning i should be doing, this is taking up a disproportionate amount of my brain time^. I am going to be taking a lot/getting a lot sent because with my VAST stash (256 yarns stashed on rav and that’s not all, though take into account there are double ups due to multiple colours being grouped together for the one project) it seems stupid that precious money that will absolutely be needed for expensive London rent and food and WARM CLOTHES should get spend on yarn to replace what i already have. SO! my plan is to arrange for yarn that has maximum time to weight ratio attached to find its way to me in London. this means a lot of my sock yarn and laceweight. I have been using my rav queue to whittle down pattern to  yarn matches and have about 94756924569276924753* shawls and socks ready to be knitted. This is good too because it means some of my handspun and souvenir yarn will finally see the light of day as a FO.

amongst all this crafting and planning christmas and a bunch of birthdays happened. I didn’t really do the crafting presents for everyone that i’ve done the last few years. a couple of reasons for this but the big one was ALL THE BABIES! i spent the time i would normally be making xmas presents doing things for small people instead. (there are more baby knits on the way too!)

I did however get some gift spinning done and had a few presents already made for people – mum got some of my handdyed yarn and helen got a hat` i made for her back in march.

Here are the spins, in order, for nett, katie and mel:

Super Angorino from Ixchel (50% angora, 50% superfine merino), spun 2 ply, 130m, 50g, around a fingering weight.

Merino and Carbonized bamboo from Ewe Give Me the Knits, n-plied, 135m, 100g, around a DK weight.

Wensleydale from Ixchel, 2ply, 85m and 100g around a DK weight.

The wensleydale i’m particlarly proud of – i think it’s one of my most even and beautiful spins yet!

^TBH I think a lot of my brain power has gone on this plan because in the looming face of moving to a whole new country, this is a manageable problem

*figure may be an exaggeration.

` ravelry link

sOctober Disaster!!

So, I cheated a little on my pre-packaged self-imposed Sock a month thinger that i’ve been doing this year and swapped out a random pre-matched pattern and yarn (only 3 left) for my first wollmeise socks, beautiful colourwork Wallflowers (rav link here) in Stella Polaris and an undyed cashmere blend from Wired 4 Fibre.

My Hubris has been my downfall.

I never do tension for socks. I pretty much look at the needle in the pattern, the needle on the sock band and decide between (usually) a 2.25 or a 2.5. I’ve never had a problem (ok, my skews could probably afford to be on a 2.5, but honestly they’re never going to be easy for me to put on just because of my heel/bridge shape)

Until now.

So, i started, enjoying the complexity of the pattern, the softness of the cashmere, the colour of the wm and  my new way of tensioning. i’ve abandonned 2 handed – it looks cool but doesn’t really make me happy. I’m holding both yarns in my right hand as i normally do and using my forefingers to switch between the two. It’s a little bit quicker for me too and my floats are tight, but not too tight and very even.

I happily knit away on the recommended 2mms, working the heel – my first point of concern – the point at which i should have maybe at least tried the sock ON, especially given i’m looking at that heel and looking at my pointy heeled, high arched foot and thinking, hmmm – doing short rows (MAGIC!) and getting a whole nother repeat of the pattern done.

I am 1/2 an inch from starting the toe. so like maybe 6 more rounds… and i finally try it on.

and i CAN NOT GET IT OVER MY HEEL.

at all.

on either foot.

*facepalm*

I thought i would cry, but interestingly enough i didn’t I think shock set in instead. I calmly decided that yes i would frog and reknit, since the people i love enough in this world to give a colourwork sock to do not have tiny skinny feet, or low insteps. and also, I totally want to wear these in the UK next year what with their double layer warmth, cashmere and general prettiness

So I took the needles out and prepared to frog. Before i completely frogged i did a little tension measure, just to see.

Well, blow me down if i wasn’t getting 40 stitches (and this is after i’ve stretched the sock significantly trying to get it over my heel) instead of the 36 i’m meant to be getting.

WHOOOOOOPS!

So I ummed and ahhed about whether to try 2.25s or 2.5s, but the answer was given me by a weird spillage of needles in another room which meant when i went to grab my 2.25s there were only 2.5s to be had. I saw it as a sign and started knitting.

An episode of Law and Order UK and one of QI Uncut later and i have

And it fits 🙂 i’m getting the tension given when i smooth out the slight colourwork puckering (it’s the sort that will block out no trouble at all but just makes the unblocked thing look a bit bumpy) and while it is still a bit of a squish over the heel i did get it on.

Now though, I’m wondering what to do about this heel. I feel I should start it earlier and make it deeper? ie spread out the increases over more rows? thoughts? has anyone done this pattern?

So. my socks are back on track, but for anyone good at maths they will see that a sock i cast on on the 1st of october had not yet been finished and is now being reknitted and socks, in general, do like to come in pairs. This means that unless i completely abandon ALL other projects i’m working on at the moment (ha, like that’s going to happen, especially when one of them is Sylvi which is like, whe-hey instant results!) these will not be finished in time for november

The lovely K at Knitting Pretty suggested I make a pair of socks for lilah (which i amended to a pair of baby socks, since lilah does not like to wear socks and also has 4 feet) before oct is over to stay with my ‘socks each month’ challenge. I had been thinking of using some of my NEVER ENDING BALL Of Wanda (sknitches cinema sock club yarn used in the fish socks) to make some baby socks for ALL THE BABIES i know. So, my dear knitters? tell me, does this preserve my sock – a- month (and i have indeed completed a pair of socks every month this year – one was 4 days late, but otherwise on time) or is it just a token effort?

I also have to bear in mind that during November i will have to get cracking on a super special secret project for some very special people as i now have a date i intend to present them with this… well, present!

Please contribute your 2 cents (or dollars?) worth. would love advice and also, comments are nice!

Next post will have LOTS more pictures, of yarn and FOs, i promise!

 

ETA: I have been SO SO SO busy in recent weeks between travelling, getting new jobs, working old jobs and directing for the first time ever in a short play festival i’m also performing in. If you’re in melbourne come along to the Short and Sweet festival on Sat 5th Nov to see my directorial debut!

The best laid plans… are made at 3am.

A little while ago, one of my absolute besties, vintagenettles and i were chatting on ichat in the wee hours, when she had a brainwave.

“Let’s do a swap where we make each other squares and send them to each other.”

I agreed that this was indeed and awesome idea, and we laid out a few groundrule: Each square is to be approximately 20x20cm, all forms of fibre craftiness are game (sewn, woven, crocheted or knitted), we would send them each month and eventually sew them together and back them with something pretty. They may only end up being pillows or lapblankets, but they will be made of love 🙂

the final piece of the puzzle was asking miss penelope-waits to be an unbiased theme setter 🙂 And obligingly she agreed and has so far given us two themes…

The squares:

Theme #1 Ring-ring-a-rosies

I used the intarsia pattern from a Rowan pattern – it’s designed to sit across the bust with a rose either side – and I worked it in Heirloom Easy care because, let’s face it, it’s cheap and this took 8 colours! That being said, it’s a really nice yarn to work with and i will probably use it for children’s clothes or similar at some point! softened up a lot! I blocked it out and it’s slightly larger than 20×20 but that’s what seams are for! It also appeared on The Circle!!! you can watch our knitting group on TV here (see how i just slipped that in?)

Theme #2 “Don’t be afraid of the light that shines within you” – Luka Bloom

This theme was to use the lyrics of the luka bloom song as inspiration. this an absolutely beautiful song and the imagery is full of dark purples and midnight colours and the idea of the soul shining through it. I found this adorable crochet motif and used some slightly shiny white yarn, the grey mohair with a strand of metallic embroidery thread and edged it in inca lite 8ply which is a marled grey, blue and purple!

so this is the best friend square swap so far… watch this space as the adventure continues!

Ravelympics Round Up

So The Winter Olympics ended at around 2 or 3 in the afternoon on the 1st of March here in Aus, but just to keep things neat, I aimed to finish all my projects by the evening of the 28th, ready to cast on anew in March.

And I did!

I ended up creating four knitted projects, and despite toying with the idea, and even spinning for a few hours, I decided that spinning and weaving were not going to enter into the competition this year.

And so I present, my medal winning items…

Silver Swirls (previously mentioned)

The first of these i completed in a day, the second took me about three days (but i was knitting other things as well!)Knit in Carmen from Bremont, which I picked up in Austria. I have about half of each ball left, which leaves me with 1.5 balls or blue and .5 of silver… what to do with them? The pattern is from Knitting New Mittens and Gloves. Pretty no?

Events: Nordic Colourwork Combined and Mitten Moguls

Falling Berries Scarf (previously mentioned)

This is only the third project I have knit with handspun, and whilst it was the second thing cast on for Ravelympics 2010, it was the second to last thing finished. (you’ll see why in a moment). It was my ‘constant’ travelling project and took me from day 2 to day 17 of the olympics! Knitting with this handspun – cashmere, alpaca and silk – was the most luxurious and indulgent thing I’ve ever done. It was heaven from first stitch to last. and I cannot WAIT til it is cool enough to snuggle my face up in this! (I had to watch everyone at the knitters group on monday to make sure it wasn’t secretly stowed in a bag!)

Events: Scarf Super-G, Single Skein Speed Skate, Lace Luge

Knitting the Blues Origami Bolero

First let me apologise for a crappy (and from behind!) picture. Unfortunately i can’t check the focus on timed photos! Maybe I’ll get a better shot of this when i take it into work tomorrow? It is Jo Sharp’s Origami bolero, one of the most interesting pieces of knitting i’ve seen and also one of the most frustrating patterns to help people with as a LYS worker! Having now KNIT it, it will be much easier to help people decide on a size and on colours. I am REALLY REALLY happy with my colour combination 🙂 It took 7 days TOTAL knitting, including sewing up. I’m REALLY proud of that achievement, and it looks lovely. BOTH ways up! (I will honestly try to get more/better photos)

Events: Sweaterboard Cross and Nordic Colourwork Combined (a bit of a push, but for all that knitting it deserved 2 categories)

and last (and least, to be honest)

A trivet for a special swapper…

Having finished the scarf on Sunday afternoon, I took advantage of my need to make something for a swap i’m participating in to create something in the last few hours of the 28th. This adorable little pattern takes one ball of 10ply/aran/worsted and about 2 hours (if you don’t keep screwing up the last row like i did, in which case it takes 3). I’ve knit it twice now (see Marmie’s xmas present!) and it pretty much takes the same time as a feature film. convenient!

Events: Platter Lift, Single Skein Speed Skate (and if i’d had my head in the game I could have put it in Lace Luge too, but i can’t be bothered now)

So what now for our intrepid crafter?

well, I have a skein of sock yarn to finish spinning now that i’ve started it  – though to be honest, I might just finish the single i’m working on for now, so I can spin some of the delicious BATTS I’ve got from Ixchel and Corgi Hill Farms as part of the spin-along at Spinner Central.

I also want to do some more weaving – it’s been about 3 weeks now.

I have cast on a pair of socks (Leyburn in Socks That Rock Lightweight!) and a shrug/bolero (Gossamer from Kidsilk Dream in Kidsilk Spray.

And of course I have to MOVE IN TO MY NEW APARTMENT in just under three weeks! squeee.

I GET MY STASH BACK AT LAST!

*maniacal laughter*