Thursday, 31 March 2011

Day 4: Where are they now? - 2KCBWDAY4

Years ago (as in 20+ years ago) I made an aran sweater.  It wasn't the first aran sweater I'd made as prior to that I'd made an aran waistcoat and an aran sweater for my Dad.  This aran sweater though, was for me.  Or so I thought.  I bought the yarn locally - cream with a just-visible tan fleck.  The yarn was, apparently, shower-proof.  I don't think I made any mistakes when making that sweater.  Even the sewing up was done neatly.

And then, one day my Mum asked if she could borrow it, so I got it out of the drawer so she could wear it.  Somehow, it ended up going back into her drawer and there it's stayed ever since.  It's even moved house with her - twice.

I asked her about the sweater when we had the snowy weather late last year, expecting to say that it had gone to sweater heaven.  "Oh, yes dear" she said.  "I don't wear it very often as it's so warm, but when it's very cold like this I'll wear it when I'm walking the dog".

So, well-made and looks good (if I do say so myself) and still going strong after 20-odd years.  It's just a shame it's not me who gets to wear it!  On the bright side, it does give me the excuse to make one of the sweaters from the re-printed Alice Starmore Aran Knitting.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Tidy Mind, Tidy Stitches – 2KCBWDAY3

Day Three: 30th March. Tidy mind, tidy stitches.

How do I organise my stash?  Not very well really.  It's in various containers and bags.  I did buy two big bags from Lidl last week. They're those under-bed storage bags that are designed for putting winter duvets in when you swap to a summer-weight one, etc.  As someone who hates being cold and has a winter duvet on in summer and a winter duvet + patchwork quilt made with thermal wadding in winter, I don't need duvet storage.  So, I've half-heartedly organised my yarn stash so that all of my acrylic and cotton yarns are in one of these storage bags.  The rest of my stash is in a few baskets and I've also got a couple of sweater's worth of yarns on the shelf in my wardrobe.  Oh, and my 'best' sock yarn is in a flowery bag (so I can grab it in an emergency!). 

One day, I  will have a room that's just for me, in which I will arrange my yarn-stash on shelves, my fabric (although I haven't got a great deal of that) will be neatly folded and my books, both fiction and non-fiction, will be on shelves rather than in boxes.  I don't think it's going to be this decade though!

Some of my yarn is documented on my Ravelry page, but I go through stages of listing it as soon as I buy it and not getting round to it, so it's not up to date and, if I'm honest, I'm not sure I want to see exactly how much I've got.  Maybe once I've knitted my stash down a bit I'll be more up-front about how much I've actually got!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Skill + 1UP – 2KCBWDAY2

Day 2's brief:

Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet (can you crochet cable stitches now where you didn’t even know such things existed last year? Have you recently put a foot in the tiled world of entrelac? Had you even picked up a pair of needles or crochet hook this time last year?

I've looked over my last year of projects and I think the thing that stands out the most is that my confidence in my ability to crochet has grown.  My grandmother taught me how to crochet when I was a child (Nanny Tankard died in Nov 1981 when I was 16 and I'm now 45, so that was a few years ago!).  However, other than being able to make treble and double stitches, I never really progressed beyond the 'how to' stage.  In the last year, however - and mostly thanks to Lucy@Attic24 - I've completed three crochet blankets (Summer Garden - no photo - an Easy Ripple and a Granny Stripe using up various balls of DK I had in my stash).  I also used the Granny Stripe  pattern to make a bathmat and now have a Granny Stripe blanket on the hook. Sorry the photos aren't very good - I can't find where I put them on my computer so have linked to my Ravelry pics.

Knitting-wise, I think the main thing I've learned skill-wise is one of tension.  Not in terms of doing test-swatches, but rather using tension to adapt patterns.  I have two daughters and have made each of them a cardigan using the February Lady Sweater pattern, but working out which size of the pattern to knit to fit each of them using DK yarn and 4mm needles instead of the Worsted/Aran-weight yarn the original pattern was knitted in and I did the same for my recently completed purple cardigan, which I made for myself.

A Tale of Two Yarns – 2KCBWDAY1

Ooh, two yarns to choose from the many I've used in the last 30 years.  A bit of a tall order.

I've been thinking about this all day and it's now 11.43pm.

I think I've decided!

The first yarn I've chosen is Rowan's Designer DK, which (for reasons I'm still unable to fathom) Rowan discontinued several years ago.  This was the yarn that got me into knitting.  That and (I think) reading a magazine article about Kaffe Fassett opened a door to knitting that was previously closed to me.  My yarn-shop experience was, prior to that, limited to what was available to me locally, and locally meant Dovercourt/Harwich.  A seaside town approx eight miles from the village where we lived and where I went to school.  I can't even remember which yarns it stocked, but I'm pretty sure it was of the Sirdar Country Style variety and the patterns I knitted from were those from Woman/Woman's Own/Woman's Weekly.  The magazines my mother and grandmother bought every week.  I remember that at college I knitted a tunic-style jumper that had a beige background, with intarsia roses on the front (I think I did the roses in a terracotta shade).  Rowan DDK changed my perspective on knitting.  The colours and just the feel of the yarn.  It was so different from anything I'd used before and just going into Liberty or John Lewis in the West End of London, or Ries Wools of Holborn and seeing the vast array of colours available (the display of Rowan's lighter-weight DK  which came in 25g skeins --- yumtastic!).

I made a couple of sweaters from Glorious Knitting.  The Toothed Stripe sweater, in which I used DDK, the lighter-weight DK (I can't remember what it was called now - shame on me) plus other yarns, including some mohair, all in shades of blue, purple and pink - plum through to candy-floss.  The other was the Peplum cardigan which I made for my Mum.  Background stripes of burgundy-ish shades, with the burgundy DK Rowan Chenille for the flowers.  I'm not sure if Mum wore the cardigan a great deal, but I know that she like it and appreciated the knitting that went into it.


The second yarn is another I love, but for different reasons.  This one is Unicorn yarn.  Fingering weight.  A mixture of baby llama, cashmere and silk.  As well as being a divine yarn, it was part of a club and in a way gave me a real sense of the knitting community.  Unicorn was a yarn from the Natural Dye Studio and Fyberspates and ran for 10 (or was it 9?) months in 2009.  Each month, NDS and Fyberspates dyed up several colours each in Unicorn.  Each month a purchase was made, the yarn was sent with an accompanying question for that month.  At the end of the 'quest', answers to each question were sent back (the initial letters of each answer were an anagram of the fibre content of the yarn which was a mystery) and the prize for the winner was 1kg of Unicorn dyed in the colour/s the winner asked for.  I didn't win (the questions were pretty hard), but, as I said before, there was a real sense of community as well as adding to stash a beautiful yarn and I don't think anyone begrudged the winner (it wasn't me!).  I still have some Unicorn in stash, which I will use up in time, either for socks, a shawl or a scarf. 

So, that's it.  Two yarns I love/have loved.

I shall try to keep up with this blogathon... wish me luck!  I'm off to remind myself what day 2 entails!

Friday, 18 March 2011

It seems ages since I last finished something...

... but I have.

Yesterday, in fact, my 'February Lady Sweater' became wearable.  I finished the knitting last week, but had to find buttons.  The yarn is a magenta pucey purpley pink, mauve and light pink variegated, so finding buttons was not necessarily going to be an easy task.  I took to ebay and found some 28mm plastic buttons which said they were 'pink'.  I clicked to make the picture bigger and decided that the pink was too light; too baby-pinkish.  I carried on looking and a page or so further on, saw the same buttons, but this time flagged as 'purple'.  I clicked to make the picture bigger and decided that although they didn't look what I'd call a proper purple, they were quite a nice lilac and might do, so ordered them.  At £1.94 for 10, including P&P, if they looked awful, it wasn't too much of a loss.

Anyhow, they arrived yesterday in the post and I opened the envelope wondering if they'd be a suitable colour and hoping that they would be.

I think the buttons work.

 I'm pleased with the way this turned out and it's very comfortable to wear (naughty me - I haven't wet blocked it at all; I gave it a once-over with the iron this morning before I wore it to knitting group!).


Pattern: February Lady Sweater.  Large size knitted on 4mm needles, omitting the lace pattern below the yoke.

Yarn: Fyberspates - heavy sock yarn really as the package said 350m per 100g.  Bought on sale - 10 x 50g balls for £15 I think; a bargain!  Eight balls used, so 100g left to make some socks.

In other knitterly news, the Burridge Lake Afghan is coming along, but still quite slowly.  I'm nearly halfway through the third panel, so another 12 and a bit 16-row repeats.  After that, it'll be time to sew the three panels together and knit the top and bottom border bits... but I'll talk about that another day.

Have a lovely weekend :)