But since Christmas is nearly upon us, how about she gets to join in with the festivities?
Juno, ourlittle Jack Russell princess, remember? The one who pokes her nose out of the door as a barometer? Then swivels on her heel (so to speak) and hides behind the sofa if conditions are less than perfect?
Well, in an effort to drag her from her grump and into the great outdoors…
… she has a new Christmas jumper.
If you have a petite pooch of your own, who feels the cold and needs some festive cheer, you can find the pattern on the Loveknitting.com blog over here (and it’s free till 18th December)
And, my life the way it is, it really was a stretch that I might actually make it. But the stars aligned 😉 and the world rolled out the red carpet. I mean, hey! Look at my journey:
To top it all off, I met up with the loveliest friend – a friend for a couple of years now, but geographical distance has made meeting up in person an impossibility until yesterday. Perfection.
Now, keeping that in mind – you know, the meeting-friend-for-first-time-in-real-life – AND bearing in mind the fact that I was quite seriously and completely surrounded by scrumptious squishy wool of pretty much every conceivable blend, variety, hue and weight, you’ll understand that I didn’t get too many pictures. When I wasn’t fondling skeins and oohing at colourways, I was catching up on real, proper conversation with the lovely.
I did manage to get a shot of CoopKnits’ beautiful Socks Yeah! range and managed to meet Rachel in person for the first time.
I was recently asked to review this very yarn, and her book of sock patterns, which you can find here and which looked like this:
And I WISH I had jotted down who it was displaying this beautiful miniature clothes line, including mermaid’s tail (if any of you recognise it, please do let me know in the comments) :
And boy, but it flew. A day was not enough. Since returning, I have discovered that there were at least a couple of stalls there that I would have loved to have visited but somehow managed not to see at all (though I did manage to catch up with old friends The Knitting Gift Shop and their new and silkily beautiful yarn range). Mind you, it was heaving. Predominantly ladies, a small number of whom trailed husbands (I’m thinking – possibly stereotyping and horrendously sexist – probably in the guise of packhorse: you can not go to such a place and return empty-handed), many of whom sported the most beautifully assembled handmade garments of the ‘Ooh-do-you-mind-if-I-just-touch-it’ variety. Where else can you go where someone knows the precise yarn from which you knitted your tunic?
Fairly early on I visited the Midwinter Yarns stall. Well, it would be more accurate to say I was pretty much engrossed in conversation when a basket (I love baskets. Don’t you love baskets? I would HOARD baskets if I had the space) of pure loveliness caught my eye. Pure in every sense. Pure wool. From Greenland. In… *gasp*… greys. Man, I love greys.
“Too rich for my blood. I mean, there isn’t even a price on it. It must be beyond my purse” I sighed, already defeated.
“Do you think?” my lovely companion challenged. “It’s in a basket after all, is there not a price?”
Lo and behold, there was! And these fabulous, gorgeous, hulking great 100g hanks of scratchy grey wool (the very BEST kind) were only a fiver apiece.
Six skeins and a plastic bag later, I had my fix for the rest of the day, every so often caught in the act of burying my face in the bag and inhaling the fabulous, authentic sheepy smell, only to be met with a conspiratorial wink, or a knowing look, from people who knew what it was about. Oh, the joy of being amongst your own kind 😉
Needless to say, in spite of the million and one WIPs I already need to finish, I had to cast on, just, you know, to see? You know? I know you know.
It’s beyond beautiful.
Oh, and it was definitely a day for making friends:
Call it what you will, it is essentially a sampler. A top-down, in-the-round, seamless yoke fair isle sampler. A project for me to learn about colourwork and fair isle.
As is so often the case in my life knitting, I didn’t really have a set idea about what I was making before I began. Much of what I do is intuitive, experimental and heart-in-mouth-will-it-fit? It is also a smaller gauge and therefore longer knit than I am used to. I like to use Aran or chunky because I get impatient and want to move onto the next thing, as evidenced by the fact that many of my previous posts showcase items I began after this tunic and finished well before it was complete.
This dress began with the optimistic working title “Spring Tunic”. We’re now well on the way through summer. See? 🙂
It began as it usually does: with a clearance section on a wool website. I trawl them too often, looking for the bargains. I have one stipulation: natural fibres. And I usually stick to it 😉
I found Sublime baby cotton kapok dk. I don’t usually knit with cotton. But I was working on the premise that knitting (and crochet) being something I love, I don’t want to only do it in the autumn and winter, and there must be pretty knitwear for the rest of the year.
Rather than babbling on about it any more, here is the sampler tunic, finished with crochet around the hem and sleeves: a progression in pictures:
Now… Back to the million-and-one other UFOs on my list..!
Or tank top. Or vest. It’s difficult to know what people call them these days, as searching for any of those terms can bring up such a variety of garments, including waistcoats and cardigans…. I thought a vest was a sleeveless t-shirt you wore under your top when the weather turned chilly.
To me, it’s a tank top. Although I do accept that it isn’t a very delicate or romantic term.
Anyway, here’s the story:
I’m a mum. I have five children. I run my own business. I don’t often need to dress particularly formally. But occasionally, just occasionally, I do. I wanted a slipover – there’s another word for it! – an extra layer to go over a shirt when I wear smart trousers.
I chose a beautiful yarn – Drops Lima, which is a wool/alpaca blend – in grey. It may have been dark grey, or charcoal. Here it is:
I didn’t have a pattern. I figured, how hard can it be? *cough* and in my usual rather-too-gungho fashion, I embarked.
On 4mm circular needles, I cast on 176 stitches. Not sure why. I’d like to say it’s because I had worked out my gauge, measured my size and done the calculations, but it isn’t. I suspect it is because a similar jumper in a similar yarn on similar needles required the same number of stitches. And I knitted 5 rows of rib.
Then I rounded the number up to 180 stitches, making four at relatively equidistant intervals around the row.
Then I got knitting.
And, after all the fair isle I’ve been doing lately, I got really bored.
So I googled fair isle patterns and came up with a google image of a flower. And guess what! It had 9 stitches across, which meant I could do exactly 20 repeats without altering anything. So I ordered a couple of balls of the same yarn in contrasting colours – an off-white and an ice blue – and put a fair isle strip in there.
Then, I was faced with the shaping. I found a wonderful resource on YouTube. She is far more organised, methodical and scientific than I, and I watched her like a good little student and then forgot it all and did it my way, incorporating some of the lessons she had managed to make stick in my memory. You can find her here with her lesson on shoulder shaping. I also watched her v-neck shaping videos, did my own rather slapdash workings out, and got cracking. One of the most useful things I picked up was the tip to knit both sides at once, using two separate balls of wool. Genius! Then you can’t go wrong 🙂 (in theory…)
When I had done front and back keeping all the stitches live on waste yarn, knitted my short rows (for the very first time!) to shape the shoulders, and front and back had reached the same height, I turned the top inside out and fused them using the three needle bind-off.
I hadn’t made the v neck quite deep enough for my liking, so ribbing the neck was going to be a problem. I decided on a row of crochet in the grey followed by a row in the contrasting off-white which rather neatly echoed the edges of the colour join I had chosen before the tulips.
Same around the armholes and ta-dah! We have a v neck. Blocking (on my new Knitpro blocking squares which I love):
And the finished result.
I am wearing it as we speak 🙂
In other news, I have picked up an old WIP and am determined to finish it. My stashbuster crochet blanket:
And finally, I’ve been given a rather fabulous camera, so the very first finished object I ever made – a crochet camera strap – has had new life breathed into it:
Having done a couple of top-down, seamless yoke jumpers and been thrilled with the results, I was in danger of creating an entire wardrobe of very similar jumpers for myself – I tend to knit for myself until I have mastered it, at which point I feel more comfortable about giving things away or selling them.
So I embarked on a bottom-up jumper instead.
I used Drops Andes in a beige and a brown. It is the same as I used for this jumper, which until now was my stand-out favourite. And, clearly, I massively over-ordered on the yarn (*blush* “Hello, my name’s Alice. I am a yarn-addict”) I believe this jumper took around 6 x 100g balls.
I cast on 100 stitches to an 8mm circular needle and knitted stripes willy-nilly until I reached a length long enough to reach my armpit from mid-hip. I purposely didn’t knit rib around the bottom as I had a vague notion to crochet a border around the bottom and cuffs.
I then embarked on the sleeves: 26sts on double pointed needles, increasing gradually to 34 by the time I reached the armpit. For example, I made a stitch at rows 11 and 13, then a couple more at around elbow level, and four more gradually on the way up to the top. I kept a note of where I increased so that I could recreate it for the second sleeve. I made the sleeve around 14 rows longer than the jumper body: I have long arms and hate when my wrists are bare in the winter!
I then put 6 sts at each side of the jumper body onto waste yarn, and 6 stitches of each sleeve onto waste yarn, too. They will be knitted together using the 3 needle bind-off at the end.
Then comes knitting across the body to the waste yarn, (place a marker), knitting the live stitches from the first sleeve onto the circular needle up to the sleeve’s waste yarn, (place a marker) knitting across the back of the jumper and repeating with the second sleeve. At the end of the second sleeve, you have your new row beginning.
I then knitted two rows before beginning the raglan decreases which, when you have the hang of them, are really quite simple. Two things to remember: Every other row is just a knit around, and use markers!
Every decrease row involves slipping the two stitches before the marker onto the right needle and knitting through them with the left needle. Then, after the marker, knit two together. So much easier in practice than it sounds!!
Then, basically, knit till you have the size neck you require. You can stop decreasing and switch to rib for a big chunky roll neck, or end up with something more boat-neck like mine.
Once finished, and all ends woven in, I crocheted three rows around the bottom, using a *single crochet, chain 1* pattern, crocheting into the spaces on subsequent rounds, and just a single row of the same around the cuffs. And ta-dah! No curling!!
I haven’t taken it off yet:
I must now attend to my severely neglected works in progress children 😉
These two, amongst others, are still on the needles:
Until the next time.
And if anybody fancies attempting the jumper, and I can help at all, please shout! ❤