My Other Half

I got two beautiful skeins of The Yarn Collective’s Pembroke Worsted in Smoky Quartz and Copper Agate.

It’s gorgeous stuff. I mean gorgeous. Beautiful shifting colour, delightfully squishy, and lovely to knit with.

So, what to make with it?

A pair of Valentine’s boot socks for my husband. And, since Valentine’s Day was fast approaching, they needed LOTS of hearts.

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Oh, and in the spirit of different but similar halves of a whole, I thought they’d be rather beautiful mirroring each other: mismatched but matching.

So here they are in all their glory:

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And, as ever, if you fancy a crack at them yourself, you can find the pattern here.

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(Oh, and because he’s a Wool-Widower and such an obliging sock model, I let him keep them early 🙂 )

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Happy knitting! ❤

One Hat Two Ways

I thought you might like this…

See, in the spirit of waste not, want not, and not having loads of scrappy bits of yarn left over that you can’t bear to throw away but won’t quite make something else…

The Owl and the Pussycat, remember?

owls15

So, I had one ball of Lang Merino Color+ yarns in colour 9 and one ball of Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran in Camel

The Debbie Bliss provided the base colour for the hat, while the Lang Merino produced a beautifully undulating colour up to the crown.

Well!! I had quite a lot left, so I thought “Why the heck not?” and I reversed the colour scheme.

I completely love the result. What do you think?

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Here they are together:

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I should probably stop knitting these now, but I’ve seriously loved them so don’t be surprised if one or two more sneak in…

(You can find the pattern here if you want some owls and pussycats yourself)

The Owl and the Pussycat

I tried.

I really did.

And it really did start off as a hat for ‘Imself:

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And, I am very happy to report, he tells me it is “the hat he always wanted”. So, TICK that one off the list!

But it has, of course, evolved into something a little more delicate, something a bit more feminine, something a bit less…. big and we now have The Owl and the Pussycat mark II

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Or, if you’d like to see it on:

owls15.jpg

And yes, it is actually now, as we speak, beginning its fourth incarnation with the pattern in relief:

owls16.jpg

(I’ll post a pic of the completed relief hat when it’s finished 🙂 )

I used 4mm needles for the rib, 5mm for the body of the hat and two varieties of aran-weight wool: solid colour and graduating.

If you fancy a go yourself, you can find the pattern here. After all, it’s still chilly enough to warrant something woolly on your bonce, n’est-ce pas?

Happy knitting!

 

A dog is for Christmas 

….

No. Wait. Life.

A dog is for life.

But since Christmas is nearly upon us, how about she gets to join in with the festivities?

Juno, our  little 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)

Now… back to the Christmas knitting !

(And yes, I gave her the biscuit 😂)

Yarndale 2016 – lucky me!!

Yesterday, one of my dreams came true.

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:

road-to-yarndale

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.

socks-yeah

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:

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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 😉

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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.

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It’s beyond beautiful.

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Oh, and it was definitely a day for making friends:

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Now, where did I put my knitting?

 

Save

Save

The Google Tunic

Or maybe the Pinterest Dress.

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:

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An example of one of the charts I googled

pinterest-tunic3pinterest-tunic5pinterest-tunic9pinterest-tunic10pinterest-tunic-11pinterest-tunic12pinterest-tunic-2-squarepinterest-tunic4Pinterest-Tunic

Now… Back to the million-and-one other UFOs on my list..!

 

Spring Tulips Sleeveless Sweater

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:

Knitting a swatch for gauge
Knitting a swatch for gauge

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.

Off we go.
Off we go.

Then I rounded the number up to 180 stitches, making four at relatively equidistant intervals around the row.

Then I got knitting.

And knitting.

And knitting.

And knitting.
And 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.

The flowers have emerged
The flowers have emerged

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…)

Amazing - it looks like a v neck tank top!!
Amazing – it looks like a v neck tank top!!

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.

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Same around the armholes and ta-dah! We have a v neck. Blocking (on my new Knitpro blocking squares which I love):

Blocking into shape
Blocking into shape

And the finished result.

Drops Lima 6

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:

Stashbuster blanketAnd 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:

CameraAnd look – it takes lovely pictures!

Cherry blossom
The ornamental cherry in our garden
Teddy and JEm
Teddy and his Daddy

The Sweater of Many Random Stripes

Ooh, I’ve had fun with this one!

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.

Drops Andes  100 sts on 8mm circular needles. Random stripes begun
Drops Andes
100 sts on 8mm circular needles.
Random stripes begun

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.

Body almost done
Body almost done

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!

Sleeve underway
Sleeve underway
Body and sleeve
Body and sleeve
One sleeve complete. The second started.
One sleeve complete. The second started.

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.

All on one needle.
All on one needle.

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!!

The raglan sleeves!
The raglan sleeves!

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!!

The finished article!
The finished article!

I haven’t taken it off yet:

Taken by my son
Taken by my son
Tricky mirror 'selfie'
Tricky mirror ‘selfie’

I must now attend to my severely neglected works in progress children 😉

These two, amongst others, are still on the needles:

Cotton fair-isle for spring / summer
Cotton fair-isle for spring / summer
Wool / alpaca tank top.
Wool / alpaca tank top.

Until the next time.

And if anybody fancies attempting the jumper, and I can help at all, please shout! ❤

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