Tag Archives: Crafts

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.

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…

My knitting – one year on!

It’s about a year since I got ‘hooked’ on knitting and it’s good to look back and see how much better I’ve become.

Speed is quicker, tension is even. I’m starting to think about things like ‘fit’ now and how to make my creations look better.

There’s been a bit of a lag on my blog lately. Shortage of time and an apple update caused this. I couldn’t drag and drop my photos onto wordpress anymore and didn’t have time to work out why. I blamed broadband but I needed to find a work around – a quiet Sunday morning has given me the chance to do this.

I’ve been finishing a lot of projects…

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My son is wearing his mini-me cable knit jumper – identical to the one I knit his Dad. He loves it and it looks very cute. The fit is good. It came up slightly small when I took it off the needles but blocking helped me stretch it out. Now, it fits perfectly (and will probably grow some more with him.)

The West Yorkshire spinners BFL yarn has become my favourite. It’s very soft – lovely against the skin.

I was enjoying the cables and the rich finish of the thicker yarns so I made this hat for my friend. It’s for playground duty; my friend is a warm blooded Italian who wears woolies in the Summer – playground duty can be cold at the best of times!

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This was made from West Yorkshire Spinners BFL in aubergine. The photo has come up a bit bright. In reality, its a lovely rich purple. Knitting this was fun, the complex cables meant that there was always something to be thinking about and, as ever, it was interesting to see the pattern developing.

Having made snuggly cable knits for others, and with cooler mornings approaching, I decided to make a cable cardy for myself.  The pattern I chose was the Acer cardigan by Amy Christoffers. The combination of lace knitting and cables appealed – I thought it was feminine yet warm and cosy. The colour is Hawthorn – it was a bit darker than I had hoped for but will look good with jeans.  Getting American yarns over here can be very expensive to I hunted around for a substitute. Rowan Pure Wool Worsted was recommended as being similar. When, for the first time I bothered to knit a swatch, I averted disaster by finding that I needed bigger needles – this yarn knits at a different tension. Needles were ordered straight away but after a few delivery mishaps it took over a week for them to come. Frustration!!! 1 company sent the wrong size and then another just left them sitting in the warehouse and didn’t post them! Love Knitting came to my rescue and 10 days later they arrived – that company is good.

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In the meantime, my children asked me to knit a pug for a birthday present for their friend so here it is:

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Hmmm. To me, it looks like a peanut with legs.

You might laugh but it is a good representation of the pattern that they chose. Toy knitting isn’t for me at the moment. Knitting the tail, legs and ears was so fiddly. It made me practice a few knitting techniques like a horizontal pleat and knitting with DPNs and small numbers of stitches – supremely fiddly!

Since my last blog post….

I finished the Sea to Sea. I loved that trip – the scenery was stunning and remote at times. Definitely a last blast for the Summer holidays

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Camping wild on the Pennines was a highlight.

The garden finally came good – Sunflowers in October – something’s wrong with the seasons here!

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We’ve also had good veggies – beetroot, tomatoes and courgettes

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I decided to carry on…

I decided not to rip my knitting out. After a lot of umming and arrhing, I thought I would carry on making sure my strands were extra long to see if this would make a difference to the puckering. It didn’t seem to – my knitting looked the same. Also, when I stretch it slightly it does go flat so I’m going to assume that it will block flat (failing that I’ll have a go with the iron!)

So 2 weeks later, my knitting looks like this..

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Progress is slow – at the moment work is very busy so I’m working a lot in the evenings. By the time I finish work, I’ve only time for a few rows before my concentration goes and I start to make as many mistakes as I do stitches. I’ve done 5 repeats out of 14 so quite a way to go.

Of course, I’ve been distracted by new project ideas and so my summer knitting has been mapped out. My 8 year old son is completely DADTASTIC and wants a jumper like this one – exactly the same style and colour so that he can be a mini me.

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I’m also going to knit this hat for a friend – I think the cable pattern will present a few challenges.

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My knitting highlight was a knitting party! Actually there were only 3 of us. I’ve discovered that two of my longstanding teacher English colleagues knit – one of them is a lapsed knitter but we convinced her to cast-on and join us. Last weekend, it was warm and sunny so we spent the evening in Sandie’s garden, knitting and chatting. Sandie’s garden is the loveliest I know. She’s got a lean-to at the bottom of the garden with cosy chairs and tables; it’s  pretty, sheltered and relaxing. Work is always so busy and my role in the school means I don’t see as much of them as I would like to. Now that we’ve discovered we all knit, we have another excuse for a catch-up which is good.

Tackling Tension!

The most tricky aspect of knitting seems to be tension – more tricky than counting.

Counting was tricky at first as I was learning the pattern, thinking I knew what was coming next and then realising that I didn’t. I did a bit of knitting backwards, fixed the error and that was fine.

However, as my knitting has started to grow, I’ve become irritated by tension issues. With stranded colour work, I know that the issue is about making the floats loose enough so that there isn’t any puckering on the front as the floats pull the knitting in. I’ve been aware of this and consciously tried to make sure the floats are loose but not so loose that you get ‘big’ stitches where the colour changes. I’ve also been trying to stretch the stitches out a bit on the right needle to make sure I’m not bunching them together and then picking up the yarn, making a too short float.

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But having looked at a few blog posts about stranded knitting, I can see that these are classic issues around the floats being too tight.

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This is the back – do the floats look too tight?

Also, where there is an odd stitch in the contrast colour, it can seem to dive in and get lost. You can see this in the picture below (which is the worst example) I can pull it back out with a cable needle but I don’t think that’s quite what’s intended!

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Will this block out?

I’m one week into the project and I’ve done about 2 repeats of the 14 repeat pattern. I’ve got a long way to go. Obviously, I will make the rest of this looser so that puckering improves. However, it’s a beautiful pattern and I want to make this a beautiful piece of knitting – rather than something that’s good enough.

So, I’m in a quandary – should or I rip it back and start again? Or carry on?

Teddy’s New Clothes.

This time of year is my favourite. Lots of daylight and new leaves on trees. This week, it’s half-term and we’ve had a few days at home which has given me time to do the things that I’ve been short of time to do – hence 2 blog posts in a week!

Next month, my son is going on his first overnight trip away, with school. The teacher has told them that there will be a “best dressed teddy” competition. The great idea gives licence for all the children to bring their “secret teddies” that they would be a bit embarrassed to show to each other. William came home from school full of excitement about this and I was commissioned to make something for Paddington (named after the film) who I made at Christmas. Paddington (our bear) has been a big hit and has joined the ranks of favourite teddies rather than the ones that just sit on the bed!

My first attempt at “pattern design” – can I call it this? – resulted in this:

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I’ve been practising with stranded knitting so I wanted to personalise the T shirt to make it a bit fancier. The orange button on the jacket is a finishing touch that I’m pleased with too.

William loved the outfit  and I’m feeling like a Tiger Mum, determined that Teddy will be the best dressed!

Cabling and Colourwork

Three projects in one week!

Only two of them are mine – the other is my daughter’s.  She’s shown no interest in knitting until her friend took it up. All of a sudden, it was the latest craze! My stash was being pulled apart for suitable yarn. So she learnt to knit. I’ve also shown her how to purl but now the holidays have come, she’s not seeing her friend everyday and the enthusiasm is waning. In fact, the last time she picked up her needles was Friday.

Of course, the more I ‘encourage’, the less she will want to do it. This project might become a DNF (Did Not Finish).

A few early rows
A few early rows

I also began a jumper for my husband. He wasn’t too impressed with the socks I knitted him, they have never been worn. He did say that he wanted an aran jumper though. This jumper has been a long-term goal. Firstly, I needed the knitting stamina to be bothered to complete such a large piece of work and secondly, I needed to be confident enough to have a go at the cabling. Feeling good after my shawl project, i decided it was time.

When we visited my mother-in-law a few months ago, she dug out her old knitting patterns, including one for an aran jumper for my husband that had never been made. Despite the fact that the model looks like Prince William, I thought the pattern had potential.

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The yarn I bought has sentimental origins – it’s from WYS in Keighley. This was where my dad worked and not far from Cleckheaton in West Yorkshire where I grew up.

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Cabling was easier than I expected, The first row of the cable pattern took three attempts – my counting skills aren’t great. But gradually, as the pattern established, I started to pick up speed and didn’t have to concentrate so hard.

The first pattern repeat
The first pattern repeat
In close-up
In close-up

I’m enjoying knitting this. But…..

I wanted some knitting to do in front of the TV and this does need concentration.  My mind went back to the other colour work cushion I wanted to do. The back is stripes – ideal TV knitting.  So the idea of another work in project started to take hold… the yarn was ordered.

Then my husband admitted that he wasn’t sure that he would wear the jumper.  I was OK with that – I knew I would wear it but I would have to start again in a smaller size. The wool is soft and cosy. The pattern looked good. But I didn’t want to knit anymore of his jumper  if I was going to rip it back. So I took a pause to give him chance to decide.

Thus, I began my next WIP. A Fair Isle cushion from Easy Fair Isle knits by Martin Storey.

My technique has improved so much – I’ve managed to hold the yarns in two hands and it’s a much smoother knitting process than the paper dolls cushion I made in December.

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Half-term visit ‘Up North’

Holidays!!

For half-term, I’ve taken the children to stay with my in-laws in Newcastle. My husband is away for 4 weeks photographing a car rally  so it’s great to have some family company and be looked after. We’ve been to Seaham Harbour where my father-in-law grew up; it was a sunny day- a reminder that Sping is on its way…

The Marina
The Marina
Tommy - WW1 memorial
Tommy – WW1 memorial
The lighthouse in the distance
The lighthouse in the distance

My thoughts are already turning to my next project – my hut 8 cardy is coming along well now that I’ve finished the yoke and am down to the waist shaping.

Next, I’ve decided to have a go at some lace-knitting. As a distraction during a sleepless night a week ago, I found myself on Ravelry, browsing. I’m not sure how but I ended up looking at shawls. Normally, I don’t wear shawls however I had my hair cut short at Christmas so my neck feels the cold and I’ve been wearing more scarves. As Sping comes, maybe I will wear some shawls. I enjoy knitting patterns and like the idea of learning to do some “fancy” knitting with some interesting stitches. The pattern is Tornved by Karie Westermann

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/tornved

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My mother-in-law is a master knitter (or should I say Mistress Knitter?) and she was telling me about a wool shop nearby in Whitley Bay so we decided to take a trip. I wanted to find some yarn to make the shawl with.

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This is a fabulous shop. It’s a small business that oozes its owner’s knitting passion. The shop is devoted to knitting and the range of yarns is huge. All around the shop are displays of knitting projects. The usual baby jackets (so cute though!), to intricate scarves, soft cowls, textured jumpers and colourful blankets. All beautifully knitted and inspiring! The owner, Barbara, was winding her hand painted yarn at the counter- the colours were just what I was wanted  for my shawl! Lots of blues blended with other colours which will make the yarn as much a feature as well as the pattern of the shawl. It wasn’t due to go on sale until Saturday but Barbara let me buy it early. A unique souvenir of my visit.

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I can’t wait to start knitting this but I will make myself wait. I try to finish one project before I start the next. I could easily be an “unfinisher” and I’ve resolved not to be a “finisher”!