Taking account of dye lots

My knitting time is usually in the evenings, mostly in the hour or so before I go to bed. It’s a winding down thing to do. Of course, it’s been dark and, unfortunately, I didn’t notice that my new ball of hand dyed yarn didn’t match the first one. I’d been knitting under artificial light and it wasn’t noticeable; it was only in natural light that the difference was quite obvious.

I had nearly knitted the whole ball before I realised that the shades are very different. The first is more of a petrol blue with yellow tints whereas the second ball was much whiter. In the picture, you can see what I mean.

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I was gutted!!

I figured that there wasn’t much I could do – aside from the fact that I had almost finished the shawl and could not contemplate re-knitting a whole ball – it would be impossible to get a matching ball anyway as the problem was that the original skeins were not from the same dye lot.

Originally, I had bought 1 skein to make socks but then it was chilly and I fancied knitting a shawl to snuggle up with in the house. I bought an additional skein a few week’s later and assumed they were the same. I didn’t think about checking the dye lot – but I will in future. Another lesson learned.

Despite all this, the shawl is warm and pretty.

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Shrink To Fit

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Neglectfully, my too large new socks found their way into the washing basket instead of being put aside in the hand wash pile. Their bagginess disappointed and irritated me so I couldn’t be bothered to care for them. Then I forgot about them.

A few days later, I found them in a pile of washing on my bed (The Laundry Manager a.k.a. my husband has put them there) and when I put them on I noticed that they were a bit smaller and better fitting – this was good! I allowed more neglect and the next time they were washed, they would only just fit. There will be no more neglect.

 

They do look at bit “fuzzy” and their texture is thicker and less stretchy. Looking at them alongside each other now, I don’t feel quite as gleeful as they are damaged. But on the other hand, I wear them comfortably now without the feeling that they are sliding off my feet. Has anyone else deliberately shrunk a garment?

This week, I’ve become focused on my shawl.

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The yarn is called Stormy Seas from Ripplescrafts – the colour is so rich and it has a lovely sheen. As the rows get longer, it’s starting to feel like slow progress even though I’ve got the hang of the repeats so I no longer have to check the pattern.  The difficult thing about lacy patterns is that it’s so easy to make a mistake – to miss a yarn over or to misplace a stitch in the pattern. I’m not sure why I find it harder with lace rather than anything else?  It’s also harder to correct the mistakes – I’m reluctant to frog back a few rows as it’s so hard to pick the stitches back up again. I correct what I can but I’ve left one or two errors – such as this one where I put the CCD in the wrong place

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In the middle you can just about see the twist in the CCD

Fortunately, I think this pattern will be forgiving. When I’m wearing it, I don’t think anyone will notice my little mistakes.

 

What to knit next!

I’ve been flitting between projects since the New Year. After resolving to reknit my husband’s jumper, I’ve made a start – the fit seems much better. There is a lot more tension within the panels and it’s smaller so far. A good sign.

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Nonetheless, it’s hard to feel inspired to reknit a jumper. I know the pattern quite well and  I miss the novelty of figuring out something new. On the other hand, it’s become easy TV knitting. And of course, it’s nice to knit something for someone who wants what you will make.

But I have been distracted. It’s been chilly in our house -at last it’s been wintery and actually snowed!

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I’ve got some lovely hand-painted yarn that I’ve been looking forward to knitting. I don’t normally wear shawls but I really fancy the idea of one to snuggle up in. I’ve chosen to make Fantoosh -I like the way the pattern runs throughout so it will maintain my interest. Also, its not too ‘lacy’ so I’m more likely to wear it.

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Socks have not been forgotten, I’ve been fiddling around with swatches and found that my tension is too lose so I need to drop a needle size or two. I ordered the needles but when the size2.00 came, one was snapped. I’m still waiting for a replacement so sock knitting has stalled.

Up until now, I’ve been very focused on one project at a time. Once I’ve started something, it’s been about getting it finished so I can wear it and move on. At the moment, I quite like the idea of following my mood and having a few projects to match.

Foci for 2016

I like the idea of having foci rather than resolutions. Mainly because I tend to break resolutions and feel disappointed. With foci, there is a sense of  purpose and direction – but you don’t feel quite so pinned down.

Last year, I didn’t actually to commit to any resolutions until February – looking back, I did OK with them although time got in the way. I definitely improved my work-life balance. The turning point was taking my work email off my phone so I don’t here the constant ping of work nagging at me when I try to relax. As I’ve got more comfortable in my role, I’m more relaxed about it; when things don’t go as I wish them to, I work on making them better but overall, I’ve got better at accepting that somethings are outside my control and my goal is to manage this rather than feel anxious about it.

Walking to work was fun – I found that it slowed the pace of life down and I enjoy listening to books, podcasts etc as I walk. My daughter has joined me (she has started at my school now) and the company is fun. However, too much walking to work proved tiring. Over the course of the year, I’ve realised it’s good to balance the walking with cycling depending on my energy levels.

Knitting wasn’t on the list but that has been a focus- over the year, I’ve learnt lots of new techniques  and become confident and fluent; I’ve completed projects I feel proud of.  However, this brings me to my foci for this year:

1. Make clothes that fit better. Last year, I focused on learning skills and techniques; it wasn’t until towards the end of the year that I started to think about FIT.  But now FIT is starting to become a source of frustration. There’s no point knitting lovely garments that sit in a box because they don’t fit. I’ve finished my pair of sock and yes, I was mindful of fit- I restarted the socks twice, once to knit a smaller size and secondly because the sock was too long when I turned the heel. I still didn’t get it quite right as I didn’t take enough off the heel and this is the result:

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A baggy heel- OK for round the house but annoying when you want to     put shoes on. I have been knitting tension squares for jumpers and this has helped but obviously I need to look more carefully at sock sizing and tension.

I’m also going to reknit a jumper I made for my husband earlier in the year – lovely but too big. It’s sat in the wardrobe all winter. The wool was expensive so there’s no point just leaving it sitting there. As you can see, I’ve started  unravelling it. I’m going to go down a needle size this time and check the fit by comparing it against the original.

2. Play the Guitar. There’s been a guitar craze in my family this Christmas. My husband (who plays well) has got his guitar out and started to play again, inspiring my children. Now I’m inspired too. I used to play chords as a teenager and I’m very rusty but if I practice most days, I’m sure I’ll get better. It’s a cheerful activity – good for hygge.

3. Go on more cycling adventures. The highlight of 2015 was cycling the Coast to Coast with my husband. When we came back, I was buzzing with ideas for mini-trips and weekends away. I love cycle touring – seeing little villages and roads you wouldn’t notice in the car and seeing changing landscapes.  I also love camping – either caravan or tent! The appeal is waking up in the landscape. This autumn, my daughter has started to join me on regular bike rides at weekends which has been a great chance to chat as we ride along’ I’m looking forward to more adventures with her. The challenge is to convince my son – he’s younger and gets bored – he prefers sprinting and skidding. Hopefully, we’ll manage an overnight camping trip with the children – a bit ambitious but doable in the summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Joy of Sox

Excuse the title – bit corny. Blame my husband, he suggested it and I couldn’t think of anything better.

The slow pace of jumper knitting made me long for something a bit quicker – like socks…

Not that I wasn’t distracted by a bit of Christmas jumper knitting for my son’s much loved teddies.

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These are so cute, I couldn’t resist posting them.

I saw the Fearlas Mor pattern last Spring but wasn’t skilled enough at the time to knit it but now I am ready to have a go.

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The toes are worked in short rows with a helpful tutorial on the website and were easy but interesting to knit. I did find that the pattern was sized a bit generously so I had to restart as the pattern was knitting up too widely for my foot. I also had to rip it back when I’d finished the heel because I’d made the sock too long. Before you ask, I didn’t check the tension gauge – I figured that by the time I’d knitted the swatch I would be a good way on with the sock so it wouldn’t save me time. Also, with magic loop knitting, it’s pretty easy to try your socks on as your go so you can keep a close eye on the fit.

Sock 1 is done; I do like  socks to fit snugly otherwise they bunch up in your shoes which is not comfortable.

Then, for Christmas I was given a sock-knitting book by my daughter (aged 11), this was sweet; she’d gone off in the shops on her own to pick something special out. It was a struggle to keep the secret as she was so excited by this present but she managed, despite dropping a few unsubtle hints.

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Not sure which ones to knit yet!

I’ve also bought some lovely hand dyed yarns to knit them with.

Finished….

School is finished and so is my Epistrophy cardigan. It feels like the end of a work/ knitting marathon. I’m feeling happy!!!

I must confess that all that stocking stitch got a bit tedious; I found myself racing along to get to the colour work section.

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The steeking stakes were high. After 5 weeks of knitting, the moment came to cut the opening. As I crocheted the re-enforcement I became aware that it did matter whether or not it worked… all those weeks of knitting could not unravel. Full stop.

It started promisingly. After the cut, all the yarn edges seemed to neatly disappear into the crocheted edge.

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So far, so good.

But not for long…   I started to pick up the stitches for the button band and realised I wasn’t picking up enough; I needed to start again. As I pulled the stitches out and started to pick up the new ones, disaster! The steek  was starting to unravel and the re-enforcing stitches hung loosely.

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5 weeks of knitting were unravelling before my eyes!

I managed to rescue the situation – carefully I tied any loose ends I could find together and eventually it seemed reasonably stable. If the jumper failed, I was never going to do a steek again.  Then the second side – fortunately this was OK – so steeks are still on the agenda. I think I’ve learnt that you’ve got to pick up the stitches correctly first time – meddling with a steek edge is a bad idea.

Now I’ve tidied it up and  finished it with  ribbon, it looks like this:

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The ribbon seems to add even more stability and the cardigan has been saved.I’ve worn it a few times and it isn’t about to fall apart or develop a gaping hole.

It’s cosy and I like the finished effect. The only bit I’m not happy with is the neck – it stands up and looks like a 1980s ruff. I’m guessing that’s a tension issue.

So that’s two cardigans in a row and I’m ready for a break from long projects. I’m going to knit socks!

A Christmassy Diversion

Knittingwise, my last few weeks have been a mass of stockinette.

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I’ve been working my way up the body and the sleeves of my cardigan. It’s a bit tedious – I can’t wait to get to the yoke pattern section but this bit just has to be done. One more sleeve to go; I’m aiming to get this done by next weekend.

I chose to knit the sleeves using DPNs and now I wish I’d done magic loop. It’s hard to keep the tension tight when I change needles; even though I’m shifting the stitches across, it’s creating unevenness.

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Maybe I’m being too fussy, expecting it to look as neat as a shop bought. Hopefully, it will improve with blocking too. I’ve not had this problem before  – maybe it’s something to do with the qualities of the yarn I’m using.

I thought it would be fun to make some fairisle Christmas baubles to either keep or give as stocking fillers, partly depending on how they turned out. This first one was a tester – hence the icord which needs sewing back more tightly.

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This was a quick but interesting knit – something to think about in every row (so the perfect antidote to the stockinette). I’m planning to make some in the reverse colours too. The pattern was free from Mary Stephens’ two strand blog.

Now, back to that final sleeve…

Steeking – what happened when I took the scissors to my knitting

To me, steeking has been one of the Dark Arts. A mysterious process, only to be attempted by knitting experts. .

However, I like cardigans and I want to make Fair-Isle patterns so steeking is a pre-requisite. Many of the cardigans in Yokes are steeked so maybe this is something I need to learn?

I’ve started Epistrophy and the interest in the pattern is around the steek and the stranded yoke. It’s coming along and I’m in the middle of the stockinette section:

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This is OK in front of the TV but it’s a loooong section.

I decided to practice cutting a steek to see whether or not it worked. I’d planned to do before I started so my tension swatch doubled up as a sample:

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I used the contrast yarn to show the steek stitches – there are 7.

Most of the knitting blogs that cover steeking seem to do this. OK, when you are knitting through a pattern but for a plain section, you need to be careful as they could show through from the underside.

This is not going to be a “how to” guide – I looked at Elinor Brown Knits and Kate Davies’ tutorials and the obligatory You Tube tutorials. The blogs were the most useful. This blog is going to look at what happens on a first attempt – and yes, it’s do-able.

Crocheting the reinforcement was straightforward. The thing to consider is that the yarn for the crocheting would ideally be a contrast to make it easier to see where you are cutting in the next step. But you have weight that up against the possibility of the yarn showing through from underneath. My yarn is pale and fine so it’s a bit of an issue.

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Cutting was the trickiest part. I think I caught some the the reinforcement stitches which you are not supposed to do. It was hard to stretch the stitches enough to see the ladders clearly as my yarn is fine. I followed You Tube guidance with the crochet stitches which weren’t as thorough as the double crochet stitches suggested in the blogs and this might have made my reinforcement a bit less secure.

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You can see a few threads that haven’t been caught into the reinforcement. However, the knitting didn’t fray and was stable and you can see it’s holding. Not likely to pull apart.

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At this point, I followed Kate’s tutorials and made a steek sandwich. That was very straightforward and  creates a neat finish. My problem here was that my steek was made with 7 stitches and Kate had made hers with 5. I followed the pattern slavishly, not taking account of this – I realise I should have added more row to the “sandwich’ The consequence was that I had to cram my steek filling into the “bread” and it bulges. I will know better next time.

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The finish is neat – as you can see. But notice the hint of blue coming through from the underside.

At this point, I realised that my pattern called for a button band finish so a steek sandwich isn’t needed. The final button band  will look something like this – I got the beaded rib a bit mixed up as I forgot to take account of the fact that I wasn’t working in the round. But this didn’t matter for my sample as you can see the general effect.

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It’s neat and secure. Underneath, you can see the edge:

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It’s a bit rough but it’s not going to fall apart. Kate’s advice is to cover this with a ribbon – I will do this for my finished cardigan.

Overall, I enjoyed making this. My knitting survived the scissors and a steek was fun to make.

Hygge – my style!

The clocks have gone back. I’m not a fan of winter as I don’t like the long dark evenings. I don’t like going and coming home from work in the dark.

Last week, I finished reading “My year of Living Danishly” – I found it on Amazon as one of those daily download deals. I’m not sure what made me want to read it but now I’m quite converted to many of the ideas about living Danishly – hygge is the way to go for winter.

So what does hygge mean to me?

Knitting – Plenty of cosy, relaxing time. The thing I like about knitting is that mostly, unless I’m doing something tricky, is that I can chat whilst I do it. Reading has to be done on your own…

This week, I’ve finished my acer cardigan and I can’t wait to wear it. It’s blocking now and I’m waiting for it to dry. That would be frustrating except it’s warm here, too hot for winter woolies. I’m pleased with the fit – I made the arms and body a bit longer partly because of my shape and partly because I don’t like jumpers that ride up over the belt of my jeans. I also like that its fitted and not sloppy – that’s a result because I got my tension just right.

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I wanted some quirky buttons to individualise it and just to look a bit different. These wooden ones were a good find. I made a button band for the first time and refined my “pick up and knit” technique – I looked up how to do it properly and got a much more even result. So all good!

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I also treated myself to Yokes by Kate Davies. For my next project, I wanted to get back to stranded colour work and I wanted another winter woolly. I’ve admired her patterns for a while -but not really had the skill to tackle them. Now my knitting is better, I’m definitely ready for the colour work, however the steeking is going to be more of a challenge – watch this space to see my progress.

I’m going to make her  Epistrophy cardigan. The recommended wool and colours look beautiful but expensive. I calculated about £80 which I didn’t want to spend. So I found this Wesleydale Longwool at Brityarn which is going to be great.

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It smells of sheep – Which is good as I like that smell. It’s also very soft.

Family time at home -It’s been half-term this week so we’ve had a week off. We thought going to the Lake District in the caravan would be fun but in reality, it was wet and life in a small white box was not conducive to Hygge – it was cooped up rather than cosy. So we came home and have had fun here.

Christmas cake making is an important family ritual for us:

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The children got Halloweentastic..

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and we had some bike rides. Not being Danish, I’m not 100% certain about whether or not it would qualify for Hygge as it’s outdoors. Definitely not warm and cosy. However, when the sun has shone, the leaves have been so pretty- all the reds, yellows and oranges seem to be hygge colours to me.

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We also went to the Lego show – not sure that it’s very hygge but it’s definitely Danish!

Racing along.

This week, my cardigan has grown quickly which is good because I can’t wait to wear it. The pattern looks fantastic and the wool is warm and soft so this project is going to be a winner!

I don’t get a huge amount of time to knit during the week – this is a bit of a record-breaker.

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The lace/ cable pattern is interesting but not too tricky so I can work through it quickly and the yarn weight is thick enough to help the project go quickly.

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Having read a blog post from My Life in Knitwear, about the price of low price of British wool made me decide to buy British wool only from now on – now I’ve put it on my blog, I’ve committed to it. I’ve been following in KnitBritish for a while, listening the podcast and so on – but my interest has been because I like finding out about the small brands and hearing about the different breeds and types of yarn. However, to sustain the British wool industry, we need to be more consciously buying British. After reading the blog, I noticed that the Rowan yarn I’m using was made in Romania – even though they are based in Holmfirth; I’m left wondering, why don’t they use local wools? Coming from the area, I know there’s a strong textile industry heritage up there. Oh, and plenty of sheep.