Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Keith Moon: A Sweater

I had this idea that the next time I wrote a blog entry, I'd be showing you some cakes of yarn and maybe six or so inches of knitting.  However, in the week since I last posted, this sweater has been flying off my needles.  It's helped that the yarn is an aran weight:

This is the handspun merino which was my big spinning project during 2016 (I didn't do much spinning at all last year).

I cast on 6 January and by last Thursday, I'd got the body done, up to the armholes and I cast on the first sleeve on Friday morning and by Sunday morning, that was finished and joined up to the body:

The pattern is Keith Moon, from the Yokes book by Kate Davies.  It wasn't a design that immediately made me think I wanted to make it, but as I saw more and more examples and interpretations on Ravelry, the more I liked it and decided to spin the yarn for it.  As I'd got some blue and green in a mixed bag of pencil roving I'd bought from World of Wool, I decided to use those colours for the stripes.

In the original, the hem facings are knitted in the same colour, but I decided to be a bit different and used the blue for the body hem and the green for the sleeves.  I've also changed the sleeves.  In the original, the sleeves are three-quarter-to-bracelet length and have a flare at the cuff.  I started off following the pattern, but decided I'd be happier with a narrower cuff, so cast on fewer stitches and just increased at the same rate as the pattern said to.

On Sunday, I cast on the second sleeve and by this morning:

I'm about 17 rounds away from finishing the second sleeve.

Give it another few days and I reckon I'll have a new sweater to wear.

We woke up to a cold, frosty morning today.  We had a bit of snow last Thursday.  It didn't settle, but I had to drive up to DD1's school for her GCSE certificate presentation, which wasn't pleasant as in the places where there are no streetlights, visibility was poor as the snow was coming towards me.  It was clear by the time we came back though, which was much better.  When I took the rubbish bags out for collection, I looked up and saw the sunrise.  My word: I haven't seen one like this for a while, so I grabbed my camera and dashed outside to snap a couple of shots before the opportunity passed:

Lovely colours; quite inspiring.  By the time I took the recycling boxes out 20 minutes later, the sun had risen and the sky just looked light grey, so I'm glad I managed to catch the above shot.  It always surprises me how quickly the sun and moon move around the sky.

I'm off to do some household chores and then I'm going to crack on with that second sleeve.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

2016 - A round-up

I'm going to admit to being a little bit lazy.  I was going to find photos of things I completed during 2016 and make a photo mosaic type 'thing', but then remembered that I put tags on my projects last year, so - ta-da - I'm able to link to my Ravelry projects page instead and if you type 2016 into the search box, it should go to a page with just my 2016 FOs showing.  Well, most of them because there are a few projects that I didn't list.

Anyway - in total, I knitted, crocheted or wove just over 20.4 km of yarn, which is 12.7 miles (that's more or less the distance to my parents' house and back).

There were:

Blankets: 9, including 4 preemie-sized ones (to be donated to the local hospital, I think).  7 were crocheted and 2 were knitted and 3 were from the same pattern.

Cardigans: 2.  One for me and one for DD2.

Cushion covers: 1 (the crocheted spiral one).

Dog bowl mat: 1 (crocheted with yarn leftovers for my mucky dog who drips water after she's finished drinking).

Hats: 8, all knitted.

Sparkly hedgehogs: 6 (and I've got yarn for 2 more).

Scarves: 5 (3 knitted, 2 woven).

Socks: 7 pairs.

Sweaters: 3 (all knitted).

Tea towels: 1 set of 3, woven using the same warp.

I think it was the crocheted blankets that pushed the yarn total up so high and I'll be surprised if I get through that much yarn in 2017.

I didn't get much spinning done last year.  I spun the yarn for a sweater that's currently on the needles and one other skein, but that was all.  Poor Betty (my wheel) must have felt rather neglected, but since the girls went back to school last Thursday I've had her out, spinning some yarn that I plan to knit into some socks.

Here's the link to my project page on Ravelry:


As I said earlier in this post, if you type 2016 into the search box, it will filter so just last year's FOs show up.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Last finished items of 2016

I hope you all had a Happy Christmas and enjoyed the New Year celebrations.  It was a bit full on here (as usual) and I worked my usual shifts on Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.  Don't tell my husband, but I didn't mind that much as it was quite nice to get away from the excitement at home, especially as by the time we'd finished putting up the tree and the decorations, the downstairs of the house was looking a bit like Santa's Grotto!  We had a quiet New Year's Eve and all the decorations except for the outside lights were taken down, packed away and the boxes put back in the loft on 1 January.

I did manage to finish off a few things before the year's end:

Plain socks in Scheepjes Invicta Everest (I think).  A yarn I'd not used before and, whilst it's ok, it's nothing special, to be honest and I'm not sure about the striping sequence.  It would make a good stripy scarf though and it's a reasonably priced yarn.

Thicker socks in Regia Adventure Color 6ply.  Plain socks again (no point in doing anything fancy when the yarn's already patterned).  I used a 2.75mm needle for these and I think they used 100g of the 150g ball, so I've got to think of what to do with the rest of it as it's a shame to throw away one-third of a ball.  I'll have a search on Ravelry for pattern ideas.  These socks are very comfy and will be useful for wearing with my new ankle-length wellies (a Christmas present from my in-laws) when walking Jess in colder weather.

Hitchhiker scarf.  This is the second time I've knitted this pattern and probably not the last.  The yarn's some of my hadspun.  I bought a bag of pencil roving 'waste' from World of Wool and for this 180g skein, I pulled off random lengths and spun two bobbins of singles, then plyed them together to get a colourful yarn.  I wore this to our annual festive season family get-together and my brother-in-law admired it (and wore it), so I've let him keep it!

A Hitchhat (from the same designer as the Hitchhiker scarf).  This was more handspun from the same bag of pencil roving at the Hitchhiker scarf.  For this yarn though, I pulled off shortish lengths of the fibres and put them through my drum carder and made two batts, one blue-dominant and one red-dominant.  I then spun each batt into a single before plying them together, giving a heathery yarn.  I'm really pleased with how the hat came out as it's an interesting construction, knitted on the slant in four sections and then grafted together.  If I made it again, I'd probably go up a needle size as I did have to stretch it a bit when I washed it to get a bit more length.

So, that's it.  I had a fairly productive 2016, craft-wise and will do a round-up in a few days, once the girls are back at school and I'm able to get back into my usual routine.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Agnes : Finished

I finished knitting the second sleeve of my Agnes sweater about ten days ago and then spent the following week doing the finishing bits.

First off, I sewed the shoulder seams, using mattress stitch and then carefully picked up the stitches around the neckline (more on that in a bit).  Then came the side seams (I colour matched the yarn as best I could) and, finally, the sleeve seams.  After that, there were ends to be sewn in, then a wash and block (I steam-blocked the pieces before sewing them up just to make the pieces a bit less curly and bouncy).

So,... ta-da!

Here's the front:

And the back:

See how the placement of the blue and green are reversed on the back?

More on the neckline now:

Oops - it's a bit off-centre!
Can you see those decreases on the slope of the neckline?  Genius!  They're double decreases, but instead of doing SK2PO, K3tog, SSSK or similar, usual ways of decreasing two stitches at the same time, two stitches are slipped onto a cable needle (or a double-pointed needle if you can't remember where you've put your cable needles) then those two stitches are held at either the back or front of the work (depending on which way you want the decreases to lean) and then the first stitch on the left needle is knitted together with the first stitch on the cable needle and then the same is done with the next stitch on the left needle and the second stitch on the cable needle (I hope that makes sense).  It's such a nice little design touch.  In addition - and it might not be so easily visible because of the dark blue - the first few rounds of the neckline after the stitches are picked up are worked in garter stitch before doing five (or in my case, because I mis-counted, six) rounds of stocking stitch so the neckband rolls back onto the garter stitch.

It's the little things like that which is why I like Brooklyn Tweed designs so much, as well as the style of the designs themselves.

There were a couple of minor modifications I made to the pattern.  The first was to knit the sweater with less ease than the pattern called for as I wanted it to be relaxed, but not baggy.  I also added ten rows to the length of the pattern because I prefer sweaters to fall a few inches below my hipbones.

Can you tell I'm really pleased with this sweater?

It wasn't that costly to make either as I used Drops Fabel (sold as sock yarn) which is very reasonably priced anyway, but was on sale at Wool Warehouse.  I still need to weigh the sweater to work out how much yarn it took, but I'm fairly certain the yarn used cost no more than £15 (probably a bit less).

I was going to cast on something new yesterday, but I couldn't find the needles I wanted and then remembered they were in something I started months and months ago and then put to one side when, in truth, there's probably only another couple of hours of knitting left to do on it, so I've retrieved it and will try to get that finished today or tomorrow and then I'll show it to you.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Staying Faithful to Agnes

All I've knitted on over the past week or two is my Agnes sweater.  Very unlike me, but it's quite a lot of knitting and I know that if I put it down and do something else (like cast on the second sock of the current pair I've been knitting) there's a good chance I'll get too sidetracked and won't pick it up again this side of Christmas.

So, I've been faithful (despite the two balls of handspun yarn I've got downstairs which are giving me come hither looks) and it's paying off:

Yes, there are one-and-a-half sleeves there!  60-odd rows of sleeve number to to go, then sewing up, a neckband (garter stitch) to be picked up (in the blue, I think) and knitted and then blocking.  The pattern says to wet block the pieces before seaming, but I'll probably steam-block using my iron and then give it a wash and block afterwards.

I have done some spinning over the last few weeks though, when my wrists and shoulders have told me I need to have a break from knitting, although the spinning's nothing particular exciting at the moment as I'm working my way through 500g of prepared natural/cream coloured merino.  

The yarn I'm making is a 3-ply, so I'm weighing out around 35g of fibre for each bobbin and then, once I've got three, they get plyed together, then I count how much I've got, work out how many metres per gramme that equates to and hope that it's similar to the other skeins I've already made before washing the skein and then drying it before putting it in the bag with the others I've made.  In the picture is the second of the three bobbins I need to make the fourth skein of yarn and, once that's done, I might not have to do that last 80 or so grammes because I think I might have enough yarn to make the sweater.

Sorry for the quality of the photos; our lounge doesn't get a great deal of natural light and it's fairly dreary outside today (typical November weather).  

I'm hoping to get the second sleeve of Agnes finished tomorrow.  I've been catching up on one or two podcasts and have started watching the Welford Purls ones (spinning related) on the recommendation of my friend Irene and am finding that I'm getting lots of sleeve-knitting done whilst I'm watching.

Hopefully, my next post will be of a finished sweater.  In the meantime, thanks for reading.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Agnes: a sweater

I've let my blogging lapse in recent weeks, yet again.  2016 just seems to have flown past.

Anyway, I'm back to share with you the sweater I'm currently knitting.

You may have noticed that, like many others, I have favourite designers; particularly Kate Davies and Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed team.  There's something about the style of their designs that particularly appeals to me.

Ages and ages ago, I spotted Agnes in one of the Brooklyn Tweed collections that was released, and it went into my Ravelry favourites page.  I knew it was doubtful that when I got around to knitting I'd use Brooklyn Tweed Loft yarn because it's flipping expensive to buy in the UK (the only supplier is Loop in London, as far as I'm aware).  When Wool Warehouse had one of their Drops yarn sales, I chose some colours and bought enough (in truth, more than enough; I bought four different colours so I could decide which ones to use once I was ready to start knitting).  Once they'd arrived, I decided to go with the brick reddish brown, the blue and the green:

As usual with Brooklyn Tweed designs (particularly those by Jared Flood), I needed to use different size needles to those stated in the pattern and, although it's suggested to use 4mm needles to get a gauge/tension of 24 sts to 4 inches, I ended up going down to a 3mm, with 2.75mm as the smaller needle.

This sweater involves a lot of knitting --- backwards and forwards; row after row of stocking stitch as it's knitted in pieces and will then need to be sewn up.

It took me a good three weeks to knit the back:

I'm now about halfway up the back:

As you can see, the colour placement is different on the front and back.  I decided to have the green closer to my face on the front (the change in colours does, of course, mean I'll have to be very careful to sew it up neatly).  From memory, the sleeves will be knitted in green and blue -- I think.

You might also spot that the colours of this sweater are very similar to the colours of the Stopover sweater I made earlier this year.  Completely unintentional, I promise; maybe those are colours that are calling to me at the moment.

The weather in October was lovely; fairly warm and sunny, but with a crispness to the early mornings, but that's all changed now and the sky has gone from blue to grey and it's nearly dark by 4pm.  It also feels rather damp and every time I got out to walk Jess I seem to traipse a few damp leaves into the hall as they get stuck to the bottom of my shoes.  I took these photos on 17 October, as the leaves on the trees (they're at the front of our driveway, which we share with two other houses):

Oh well, once November's dreary, damp days are over, maybe we'll get some crisp, dry December and January days.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Pretty Socks

I think I worked out recently that I have enough sock yarn to keep me going for at least two years, and quite possibly three.  Sock yarn is *so* tempting though, isn't it.  It sits there, looking colourful and pretty in yarn shops and then, someone at knitting group or on Ravelry shows off something pretty and new that you haven't tried ago and well, the weak of will succumb.

My latest pair of finished socks though, have been made with some yarn I bought at least five years ago.  I know I bought it on sale from Get Knitted and I also know I haven't bought from that yarn store for quite a while.

The yarn's Koigu Painter's Palette Premium Merino, which is a bit of a mouthful, so it's often referred to as KPPPM (not surprisingly).  The yarn looked pretty in the skein and was pretty once wound into balls (I know it's been around for a while because it was in two 50g skeins and these days skeins of sock yarn are usually a minimum of 100g).

I used the toe-up pattern that I came up with (rounded toe and with an elongated gusset on the bottom of the sole rather than at the sides).  This time, instead of doing a slip stitch heel, I did an Eye of Partridge pattern.  Eye of Partridge is like the slip stitch pattern, but staggered, so instead of doing slip 1, knit 1 on row 1 and purl on row 2, row 1 is slip 1, knit 1, row 3 is slip 1, knit 1 and rows 2 and 4 are plain purl.  I think the idea is that the resulting fabric looks a bit like a bird's eye.  Anyway, it makes a nice, harder-wearing fabric for the heel flap, so it doesn't wear out when it rubs against the back of the shoe.

There's not much else to say about them really.  I didn't block them (I never block socks; they adapt to fit my feet when I wear them), but I'm happy with them as the KPPPM is a higher-quality sock yarn that has a very nice feel to it and is high twist, so gives good stitch definition.

As well as being a sucker for a pretty skein of sock yarn, I also seem to have unwittingly started a collection of shopping-type bags.  I've been trying for several years now to remember to take bags with me when I go to the supermarket, even before the government bag charge came into force last year.  As a result, I do have a tendency to buy a new one when I spot something eye-catching.  Certain types also make good project bags, especially for larger projects.  If I'm going to be walking around the shops (or haven't driven), I do like a bag with longer handles that I can carry on my shoulder and these jute bags from Seasalt fit the bill nicely.  I did have one that DD2 commandeered for her Barbie clothes and accessories and I won't be getting that one back any time soon, so I bought these two a couple of weeks ago:

I find these bags to be good capacity-wise, as well as strong and durable and they're good value (I think) at £5 each or on offer at two bags for £8.  I love daffodils, so that was an easy choice to make, but the one on the left?  That was a no-brainer when I spotted it on the Seasalt website.  POLDARK!!!! (which seems to be pronounced Pol-daark in the new series).  I loved the television adaptation in the mid-1970s and I love the current series.  I've even got the books downloaded onto my Nook e-reader (but don't want to read them until Season 2 has finished airing).  Eleanor Tomlinson (who plays Demelza) had a hand in the design process and 50p of the proceeds from each bag sold gets donated to the Fishermen's Mission.  I'm not going to use that one for shopping though; I don't want to get it mucky, so it'll be a project bag.