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.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

A Commission of sorts.....

Months ago, DD2 asked me to make her a cardigan.  Well, I was happy to go along with this and the next time we went to Colchester, I took her into Franklins (the haberdashery/fabric/yarn shop) and went upstairs with her to the yarn department.  I'd already decided that I'd use Stylecraft Special DK, simply because I knew that, the cardigan being for DD2, it would get put through the washing machine on a regular basis.

So.... we stood in front of the display of Stylecraft (according to the Wool Warehouse website, there are 82 colours in the range including the tweedy/mottled shades) and I waited for her to choose the colour she wanted, expecting on the pink or purple shades to be chosen.

Boy was I wrong!

She went for Mocha, which - as the name suggests - is a coffee colour.

I double checked that was the colour she wanted.  It was.  I triple checked because, well, it's DD2.  Yes, she definitely wanted "dark beige".

Four 100g balls were duly bought and brought home, plus some beige buttons.

Next came the task of choosing a pattern.  Again, she knew what she wanted.  V-neck.  Long sleeves.  Plain; no pattern, just stocking stitch.  Then she threw in the mix that she wanted a ruffle at the bottom (her navy blue school cardigans have a slight ruffle on the bottom).  Hmmmm.  I looked on Ravelry and found the Striped (Or Not) cardigan by Amy Herzog, which was a Rowan knitalong.  I then turned my thoughts to a ruffle and then remembered the Simple City Shawlette by Mimi Codd that I'd made a few years ago.  That has a foxglove-type ruffle edging.  Hurrah!

I read the pattern notes and watched the first video that Amy Herzog made to accompany the knitalong and got some tips on choosing which size to knit (I'd recommend that video as it was very useful), then I cast on.  I did change the pattern a bit, knitting the back and fronts in one piece up to the armholes.  I also knit the sleeves in the round up to the armholes as well.

I knitted and knitted and knitted, putting it down for a few days at a time before deciding that I really did need to just get on and get it done.  This was made much easier by DD2 handing me my knitting almost every time I sat down and telling me to "knit dark beige cardigan"!!!

Last week, it was finished.  The ruffle was a bit of a slog as I ended up with approx 580 stitches on my needles for the last couple of rows and then, of course, had to cast them all off.

A few days before I started the ruffle, DD2 then announced she didn't want beige buttons on it any more - she wanted red, so I nipped into Dunelm last Monday and was able to get some the right size.

Here it is:

The V-neck:

The ruffle and one of the red buttons:

What's especially nice is that she's actually worn it.  Twice!

I've got some other things on the go (of course!), plus another FO, which I'll show you tomorrow.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Two Down......

......but several more WIPs still on the needles/hook/wheel.

I sat down at my loom the other day and wove and wove and wove, until I'd finished the tea towels I started in June.

I had one long warp on the loom and did the first two-thirds(ish) of the weaving using white cotton for the weft.  Once I'd finished the ball of white I'd got on my shuttle stick, I had a decision to make.  I didn't really want to break into a new ball of white and I had a part ball of the yellow I'd used in the warp, and a part-ball of the turquoise.  So..... the last third (or just over) is part yellow and part turquoise.

Once I'd cut the woven fabric off the loom (after hem-stitching the last end), I measured it and decided to make it into three tea towels; two white and one yellow/blue.  First I zigzagged, using my sewing machine) across the fabric where each end of each towel would be and then I cut between the two lines of zigzg stitching.  After that, I hemmed each end by folding over twice and pinning and stitching first one line of straight stitching close to the inner edge of the hem and then a second line of straight stitching closer to the end of the tea towel, just to make sure the hems were secure.

And here they are, washed and dried.  They shrank a bit during washing, but they'll probably shrink a bit more over the next couple of washes as I usually put tea towels and dish/wash-cloths on a 60C cycle in my machine and dry them in the tumble dryer on the high heat setting.

I also finished a hat the other day.  It's the third time I've made The Boyfriend Hat  by Purl Soho and the third time I've cast on fewer stitches, on a bigger needle (I've made a note of my modifications on my Ravelry projects page for each hat).  I'd bought a skein of Caron Simply Soft Paints a while back as an impulse buy and, to be honest, I wasn't that enthusiastic about it when it turned up as it wasn't as bright as I thought it would be.  I started off thinking I could crochet a scarf, but that didn't work out, so got frogged and I decided to make another ribbed hat.

I thought that working a worsted weight yarn on 3.5mm needles, in K1, P1 ribbing would take ages as it felt quite hard on the hands, but in fact it turned out to be a quick knit, once I'd got going (especially whilst watching the Olympics) and I finished it on Wednesday evening, having cast on last Saturday.

DD2 has said she'd like it and, as it's difficult to get her to wear a hat in the winter, I'm going to let her have it.

In the meantime, I've started something new.  It's a crochet baby blanket and the yarn was a bargain (yes, I bought more yarn) and it was looking at me from the bag and I'm weak-willed when it comes to crafting!

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

A Few Finished Items

I think I've caught Startitis as the number of WIPs I've got at the moment seems to have increased rather than decreased:

- Hap for Harriet (been in hibernation for over a year; must remedy that);
- Ribbed hat (started because I was going to use the yarn for something else which didn't work out, so decided to make a hat from it instead);
- Crocheted blanket (another one where the yarn had started being something else it didn't want to be, so as it was out, got made into something else instead);
- Socks (one finished, need to cast on the second one);
- Woven tea towels (haven't touched these since before the school holidays started);
- Spinning (yarn for a sweater; two skeins done, halfway through the next and another 400g to go after that).

Listing them all like that makes it look so much worse than it really is, but helps to get my focus back and not cast on anything else.

I have finished a few things though:

Socks - two pairs.

This pair were made from a Regia Creativ sock blank that I bought in a sale a few years ago.  I'd never knitted from a sock blank before and it was an interesting experience.  I've got another two blanks, in different colours, which I might make into scarves instead of socks.

This pair were made from Drops Fabel (another sale purchase - from Wool Warehouse).  Fabel isn't the softest of yarn, but at less than £2 a 50g ball, I don't expect a silky-sock feel to it and it's a perfectly acceptable, workaday yarn.

Crocheted baby blanket.  One of the knitting ladies was making a blanket in the same Sirdar pattern  and she'd got a finished one in her bag and I liked it, so got the pattern, pulled out some Stylecraft Special DK from stash and off I went.  It was a quick crochet and rather satisfying to make.  The pattern doesn't specify a border, but I added a round of crab stitch/reverse DC - SC US) which I think finishes it off.

Here's a close-up of the mesh pattern:

Nice, isn't it.  So nice, in fact, that I started another one, that's very nearly finished.

I'm trying to keep DD2 occupied over the summer holidays.  She's had three days at the holiday club they run at her school, but that's finished now, so it's a case of trying to think of things to do when, in truth, all she really wants to do is go shopping so I can buy her more beads and lip glosses!  It's a bit of a struggle, but at least I've got DD1 home now.......

......  DD1 plays in two youth orchestras and each year, at least one of them goes abroad on a tour (as well as having a couple of workshops during the Christmas and Easter school holidays).  This year, they went on tour to Hungary, so last weekend her case was packed, clarinet cleaned, snacks added to her hand luggage, passport, currencies and European Health Card put in her handbag and I went to work and hubby and DD2 took her to the drop-off point and that was the last I saw of her until they got back yesterday afternoon.  She seems to have had a good time (she usually does; she blossoms when shes in the company of like-minded young people as she's not particularly girly - unlike her sister), although travelling 24 hrs each way on a coach meant she didn't get much sleep on either journey and was in bed early last night, sleeping for 12 hours.  I've just got to start saving for next year's tour now as it's Essex Music Services 60th anniversary next year, I believe, and there are rumours they're going to be "doing something a bit special".

DD1 has another music workshop next week.  It's a residential one, but at a school that's only about six miles away, but it's also GCSE exam results day next Thursday, so I'll pick her up after breakfast, whizz up to her school so she can get her results and then whizz her back to the music thing.

Just noticed out of the window that my mother's arrived to visit, so I'd better go!

Tuesday, 2 August 2016


I'm not a natural seamstress.  I find it quite bitty and fiddly and I wonder if it's because I'm left-handed and sewing machines seem to be designed for right-handed people.

Anyway, I can sew, but don't do it very often, but am determined to rectify this and make more things.  I buy fabric with the intention of sewing it into something wearable, but then it gets put with the rest of the fabric I've bought and I get out some yarn and needles or hook instead.

Last week, I traced off the pattern for the pyjama bottoms from the Tilly and the Buttons book, cut out the pieces and got to it.  I was fairly pleased with the results and DD1 has worn them a few times since.  DD1 doesn't really like traditional pyjama tops and prefers a simple vest-type t-shirt to wear with pyjama bottoms, so I don't have to fiddle about with making any tops!

I know the legs don't look even, but I promise they are (well, within a millimetre or two).  The fabric was a remnant I bought from a local shop.  I didn't have enough fabric to cut out the full length of the pattern, but DD1 isn't overly tall (at 16, she's 5' 3" and doesn't think she's going to grow much taller, if at all) and it turned out that these were the perfect length for her.

Of course, having made the PJ pants for her sister, DD2 wanted me to make something for her.  Every time we go shopping, she tries to get me to buy new hairbands and hair accessories and recently I've been resisting her efforts to get me to buy hair scrunchies as, at around £4 each (and she needs two because she puts her hair in bunches most days) I resent spending that much money on what amounts to a rectangle of fabric and a few inches of elastic.

So..... upstairs we went, to choose some fabric.  That done, a tutorial was found on YouTube, two rectangles cut out and a couple of lengths of thin elastic snipped off.  Then I started sewing.  The first two seams were fine, then I did some clever folding, as per the video's instructions, and started sewing the fabric into a tube along the long edge.  The first half was fine and I felt rather pleased with myself.  I pulled the fabric round to do the second half and disaster struck...........

............  I took my foot off the pedal of my sewing machine and.... nothing happened.  It didn't stop!  In fact, it started racing along, so I switched the machine to off and unplugged it.  Then I unpicked the runaway sewing it had done on the scrunchie.  I got a piece of scrap fabric and switched the machine on again...... and off it went again.  It was like it had been possessed by a demon (actually, it was the suppressors/capacitors --- or something like that --- but I like the possession theory better!).

I did what every 21st Century home crafter would do.  I Googled "sewing machine won't stop running".  Several sites suggested the food controller had malfunctioned.  It looked as though a new controller would be required, so I phoned the local sewing machine stockist, found out they had one and went in the next day and bought one (bye bye £35).

What happened to the second scrunchie?  I sewed it by hand!

At least she's pleased with them.  I can see more scrunchies being made as I have various bits of fabric I can use.  Next time, I might make the rectangle of fabric a bit longer, for more scrunch.

I haven't tried the new foot controller for my machine; I'm working my way up to that.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016


I've been finishing up some things that just needed ends sewing in then a wash and dry.

Blankets for the premature baby unit at a local hospital (they're small; 13-15 inches wide):

Left: Attic24 Neat Ripple, modified to add a treble/double crochet either side of the increases/decreases.

Centre:  Treble/double crochet, worked through the back loop only.

Right: Knitted.  Row 1 is knit all stitches, Row 2 is purl 5, knit 4 (with a garter stitch border of 5 stitches, the first stitch of each row being slipped).

All three blankets are made using King Cole CandyStripe yarn which is a DK variegated acrylic.

I finished a blanket I crocheted using the Vintage Vertical Stripe pattern, crocheting stripes of varying width, using up part-balls of DK acrylic I'd got left over from other projects.

I finished the Neat Ripple blanket I started back in the spring.  Two-thirds of this had to be re-done after I'd finished the main part and DD2 decided to 'help' me by snipping off all the yarn ends close to the work........ before I'd had a chance to darn them in.  She wasn't my most favourite person that day as I'm sure you can imagine!

Today, I finished the yarn I've been spinning on my wheel for the last four or so months.  I've been very unproductive over the last 18 months when it comes to spinning, so I've taken the opportunity of the Tour de Fleece (a brief explanation if you need one is here).  I haven't joined any TdF groups on Ravelry but am doing it my own way, spinning Mon-Fri as I work on Sat and Sun, which means my time before work is limited and I'm too tired to spin after I've done my shift.

This was earlier today and I've now finished plying this bobbin, so it can be wound off, skeined and measured.  It's destined to be one of the colours in a Keith Moon sweater (a Kate Davies design).  My other colour will be an emerald green and the main colour will be natural/cream.

I need to get on and card the green so I can spin it.  The cream (500g of it - eek!) I'll spin from the big 'bump' of fibre I bought from World of Wool (all three colours are merino).

I've also got another few bits on the needle, hook and loom, plus one 13-year-old daughter badgering me to start knitting the cardigan she wants (I'll tell you about that one another time).

Off to make dinner now, although as I've been chopping back prickly things in the garden today, everyone's getting something easy.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Lethargy has set in

I promised myself I'd be more diligent when it came to blogging, but I've been feeling very lethargic and a bit 'bleurgh' in recent weeks.  There's been a lot going on here with getting DD2 getting prepared and her things ready and packed for her school's annual camp last week (they had to come back a day early because the heavy rain meant they got flooded last Wednesday night), plus DD1 has been sitting her GCSE and other exams (last one was this Monday) so maybe that's why.  In any case, I've been flitting between crafting projects and not really seeing much progress on any of them.

I have finished a couple of things.

A pair of plain socks in Drops Fabel:

I've noticed in recent weeks that some of my socks are looking worn and/or faded, so I'm trying to replenish my stock.  As I usually do with self-striping and self-patterning yarn, I've knitted a plain pair of socks.  This pair, however, are made from two 50g balls of Drops Fabel sock yarn, starting a new ball for each sock.  I noticed when I was about halfway up the leg of the second sock though, that the balls had been wound in different directions, so the striping goes in opposite ways to the first one.  Not that I mind as I never try to match the colours of socks.

I've also crocheted a new cover for my big round cushion.  I made an African Violet cover for the cushion a few years ago, but it was starting to get a bit bobbly and look a bit tired (and DH was never overly keen on it anyway):

I'd bought some Drops Muskat cotton yarn with the intention of weaving it into tea towels, but when it arrived I realised I'd made a mistake as it's mercerised, which means it's not absorbent.  So.... as I'd bought beige and burgundy and the walls in our lounge are beige and the curtains are burgundy, I decided to update the cushion, so ordered some more.  I'd liked the Spiral Cushion pattern by Matt Farci since I'd seen it on his blog (According to Matt, although he's moved over to Boys & Bunting with his partner Dennis now), so decided to make that.  It's an interesting construction.  A circular spiral is crocheted in half-treble (half-DC US) and then a contrast colour is used to slip stitch around the first circle, which is very effective.  

One half I crocheted in burgundy, with a beige contrast.....

... and then I reversed the colours for the second side:

I thought about putting a zip in it, but decided that as the cushion pad is feather-filled and so machine washable and can be dried in the tumble dryer, I'd just crochet it together all around.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

A Happy Scarf

I did a semi-organisation of my stash last week, partly to try and get it a bit more ordered but also to remind myself of the yarn I've got.

Whilst going through it, I found one of my early hand-spun yarns and also the leftover part balls of King Cole Merino DK that I'd used to make Lucy hats for my Mum and older sister.  I got the yarns out and put the King Cole next to the hand-spun to see which colours went best as I had in mind a woven scarf.

Yesterday I got out my loom for the first time since last November or early December and used the King Cole yarn to make a striped warp:

I ran out of the warp yarn before I could finish the last stripe of the olive green, so put in an extra bottle green one, because I decided it wasn't the end of the world if it wasn't completely symmetrical.

Then I got weaving.  And I wove and I wove and I wove, using the handspun for the weft:

By the time the girls went to bed, I'd got to the end of the warp, so hem-stitched it and cut the scarf off the loom.

After dinner, I settled down to watch an (old) episode of Midsomer Murders and decided to do a twisted fringe.  It was a bit fiddly (there are machines you can buy that make the job a bit quicker and easier) but wasn't too bad to do once I'd got into a rhythm and then I snipped the ends off so it was all even and then dunked it in a basin of warm water to soak while I had a cup of tea.

After squishing it in a towel to take out the excess water, I folded the scarf and put it in my airing cupboard overnight and mid-morning today, I took it out, smoothed it and snapped a photo:


It could do with a press to smooth it out, but I wasn't going to get out my ironing board and iron just for one scarf, so that can wait.

I'm rather pleased with it.  Can you tell?

I've got another of my earlier hand-spun yarns, plus two 50g balls of a blue DK yarn (Sirdar Balmoral, I think) which will probably get similar treatment, although I might use my bigger (8 threads per inch) heddle to make a drapier fabric.

I've also made two more hedgehogs and am being badgered to make another one (my orders are to knit a gold one next, with a white face and feet):

I feel like I'm on a production line with these!  After the gold one, I've only got one ball of tinsel yarn left, so hopefully I'll get a break (although they don't take that long to make).

Wednesday, 6 April 2016


I have plans to organise my yarn stash once the girls are back at school next week, following the two-week Easter break as it's in a bit of a mess, with various bags of yarn dotted around the house.

Having had a look in the box that houses all my acrylic DK yarn, I saw that there were quite a lot of part-balls in various colours, left over from other projects.  Some of these balls were 20g; others 50-60g.  I'm also finding that my shoulder's more comfortable with me crocheting than knitting at the moment (and an extremely busy Easter Sunday at work -- it's the busiest day of the year for the Tesco Express where I work because all the big supermarkets are closed for the day -- took its toll on my shoulder as well) so I put all of the pastel, lighter colours of yarn into a bag, along with three balls of cream DK that I'd got, pulled out a 4mm hook and started rippling.

This is what I've come up with:

It still needs an edge, but I'm rather pleased with it.  It's ten 14-stitch ripples wide (using the Attic 24 Neat Ripple pattern) and there are six rows of colour, followed by four rows alternating cream with colour and, as you can see, every other 'block' is cream.  It's a bit lighter than the photo shows; the yellow and green aren't as dark as they seem on screen.  I've now run out of the cream though (it's Hayfield/Sirdar Bonus Baby DK), so will either have to buy another ball or two, which rather defeats the object of stashbusting, or I'll use some cream Stylecraft Special DK that I've got to do a narrow border, which will neaten everything up.

So, having finished the main part of that blanket, I still had light colour yarn left over, so I got out a 4.5mm hook and have started making a version of the Vintage Vertical Stripe blanket (except my stripes will be horizontal!).  This is completely mindless crocheting -- just row after row of treble (double US terms) stitches, going into the space between the stitches of the previous row, rather than going into the V at the top of the previous stitches.   As it's so easy to do while watching television and can be picked up and put down very easily,  it's working up fairly fast.  

Again, the photo looks darker than the blanket is (it's a very dreary day today).  

I'm just crocheting backwards and forwards until the yarn of the part-balls runs out, giving stripes of differing heights.  I had a couple of whole balls and one or two where I'd only used a bit of yarn, so I've wound those into smaller balls which will give more stripes.  I'll put a border around this one as well.  A border makes everything look much neater, don't you think?

I did start a new knitting project, a second Relax sweater, but having done a few rows of the bottom ribbing, I decided I didn't like the cast on I'd used as it was too loose and looked sloppy, so I'm going to frog and start over...... but that can wait until next week when DD2 is back at school.  She had a very good first week of the school holiday, but this week..... well; I'm not sure what's going on with her, to be honest.  Her behaviour has been challenging and she seems to be getting very easily upset by all sorts of noises.  Hopefully once she's back into the routine of school she'll settle down again.  Fingers crossed.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

FO - Berenice

Blocked and dried, I remembered to take some finished photos of my Berenice sweater before wearing it (I've worn it at least three times since I finished it last week).

Overall, I'm very pleased with the way it's come out.  An inch or two longer would be nice, but, as I mentioned, I only had 500g of aran-weight yarn, so had to be careful.

The lace and cable panel on the front and back is very pleasing:

It also looks more complicated than it is (I think the one-stitch garter band at either side of the cable really sets it off, giving a frame for the cable).

I'm now a convert to using a tubular cast-off as well.  It's a bit fiddly and time-consuming, but worth it.  There are two set-up rows to knit, then rearranging the stitches onto two needles, then kitchener stitching to be done, which means a very long length of yarn (3 times the length or width of the piece that's being sewn) when doing the hem of a sweater or cardigan.  Definitely worth it; look at the sleeve cuff:

And the hem:

Since finishing this, I've also made a third hedgehog:

The yarn for this one is pink and silver, with a pink face, feet and ears.  The red and purple ones I made for DD2 a few weeks ago don't have ears as - for reasons known only to her - she doesn't like ears at the moment.  In fact, she got a pair of scissors and cut the ears off the crocheted Hello Kitty I made her.

This hedgehog has been given to the four-year-old daughter (L) of a couple hubby and I are friendly with.  Hubby knows them better than I do and this little girl has taken a shine to him, when she's usually very shy with people who aren't family members.  I asked hubby if he thought she'd like a hedgehog and he said he thought she would, so as he worked at home on Tuesday, early evening he popped down to the bar at the train station where the little girl's mother works and dropped it off (which is why the photo's not very good; it was taken in artificial light).  L often goes with her father to see mummy (and have a drink and snack) before she gets taken home to bed, so hubby was able to give the hedgehog to her and she loves it and has named her Daisy!  She's also told her parents that she needs to come into the shop where I work when I'm there so she can say thank you to me.  So sweet!

I started a ripple blanket a few days ago and that's going well.  What I haven't mentioned is that I've been having shoulder problems over the last few months.  It's my right shoulder (rotator cuff) and I think I've worn it through knitting and crocheting, so I'm trying to be good and not get stuck in a rut of doing just one thing for an extended period of time as that (according to my sister, whose profession is sports injury management, massage, personal training, etc) will only aggravate it.  Sis has also given me exercises to do to help it (but I don't always remember to do them; naughty me).  I did start a new sweater on Monday, but knitting seems to be making my shoulder worse, so I've put that to one side for now.

Happy Easter.  Don't eat too much chocolate :)  I'll be working my usual hours this weekend as, being a small Tesco Express store, we don't close (Christmas Day is the only day of the year our shop isn't open) and it's going to be busy, busy, busy on Sunday.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Sparkly, Shiny Hedgehogs

Well, my Berenice sweater was finished a couple of days ago and has been washed and is now blocking.  Once it's dry, I'll take some photos and show it off.

As mentioned in a previous post, a while back I bought a couple of balls of King Cole Tinsel yarn with a view to making each of the girls a knitted hedgehog (you can see the pattern at the bottom of the page I've linked to).

The pattern said to use a 5mm needle for the tinsel part, and a 3.25mm needle for the head, but I decided to go with a 4.5mm for the body and 3mm for the head to get a firmer fabric so the stuffing wouldn't show through.

I also decided to knit it in the round rather than flat and then seaming.

The knitting was quick.  I started a purple, large-sized, hedgehog on Friday afternoon and finished it by lunchtime on Saturday.

The red one (medium) was started on Tuesday and finished on Wednesday.

I also bought a ball of pink Tinsel yarn, which will be made into another large-sized hedgehog.  I think I prefer the head/face on that one.  Because there are more stitches, the decrease rate towards the nose is different, which gives a bit more interest and pointiness to the nose.

Not that DD1 is going to be getting one; DD2 has decided they're all for her and, in fact, took both completed hedghogs (or hedgepigs as they're known in our house) to school with her today.

I used the leftovers from my Berenice sweater to sew the eyes and nose, which I think works well as pure black might have looked a bit too stark.

I've now got four more balls of King Cole Tinsel on order from Wool Warehouse as I've had a request from Pat, the lady who keeps order on DD2's taxi to and from school and hubby has asked if I'd knit one for the four-year-old daughter of friends of his as he thinks she'd like one.

In the meantime, I succumbed to Wool Warehouse's sale of Drops sock yarn in the plain colours.  I'm planning on knitting another Relax sweater as I've got (I think) eight balls of variegated sock yarn I bought at Lidl a good while back and can use some of the beige I bought from WW to put in some stripes to make it a bit longer than the last one I made (that ended up with shorter-than-I'd have liked sleeves).

I've not actually got a great deal on the needles at the moment.  The beginnings of a hat and a blanket that I'll show you another time as I think I've gone on enough for now.

I might cast on the pink hedgehog later, although knitting at a much smaller tension than usual is a bit hard on the hands.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Wasted time well spent.

I waited until I was three rounds into the ribbing on the neckline of my Berenice sweater before I had a look to see how the front looked.  It was tempting to look before that, but I knew that I needed a few rounds so I could see how picking up from the back to form a decorative ridge would look.

It looked a bit pants, to be honest.

Lumpy, messy, not nice to look at at all.

I ignored my knitting all yesterday evening and decided to start afresh this morning.

Once the girls had gone off to school and Jess had been walked and fed, I made a cup of tea, sat down and pulled out the needles, then re-wound the yarn into a ball.

Then I picked up the stitches again (fortunately I'd kept my scribbles on how I was going to pick up the stitches), did one round of purl, then seven rounds of k2 p2 rib.

See?  Much neater.  So yes, some wasted time, but well worth it for the much better and more pleasing result.

I also chose to do the tubular cast-off the pattern recommended, but more about that another time.

Now I'm off to tackle the sleeve cuffs.  I need to do some maths.

Maybe I'll do that after I've taken Jess for her afternoon walk.  Some fresh air might help!

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Upsizing --- Berenice

When, in June 2014, Brooklyn Tweed released their Kids collection of patterns, Berenice immediately caught my eye.  I wasn't the only grown-up girl on Ravelry who thought it would be nice if it came in adult sizing as well as child's, but (I think) in the Brooklyn Tweed Look-Book that appears on the website, there was a note about making it with thicker yarn and bigger needles, to size it up for an adult.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I was thinking about future projects to knit and the yarn I've got in my stash and before I knew it, I'd bought, downloaded and printed the Berenice pattern and had got out my ten-ball pack of Jaeger merino aran, which is a not-quite-black colour (I think the shade's called Derby).  I also looked at the examples on Ravelry where people had upsized it to fit an adult and read the available project notes.

The Thursday before last, I cast on.

At this point in time, I've got one shoulder seam to sew.

It's a pretty quick knit.

 That photo shows the colour fairly well, but you can't really see the detail, so here's one with the flash on.

Nice, isn't it!

The construction of this short-sleeved sweater is a bit different to usual because the body of the sweater's knitted first and then stitches are picked up around the neckline, the sleeve cuffs and the hem and the ribbing's then knitted.  Those stitches are also supposed to be picked up with the wrong side of the knitting facing you, so a decorative 'ridge' shows on the right side.  I'm not sure about doing this on the neckline though, as I'm not it will look particularly neat.  I shall have a go and see and if I don't like it, I might pick the stitches up on the right side and then do one round of purl stitches to give a ridge before starting the ribbing.  I'll probably knit the bottom ribbing longer than in the original, to give me a bit more length to the sweater (I could have knitted it longer before I started the under-arm increases, but I wasn't sure how much yarn I had to play with.

Upsizing this from a child's size has been easier than I thought it would be.  Using the pattern's gauge/tension directions and comparing them to my own with this yarn and the needles I'm using £4.5mm KnitPro), I was able to do a bit of maths and work out how many rows I needed to knit.

It's the first time in ages that I've knitted a sweater that needed to be sewn up as most I've knitted recently have been bottom-up or top-down, knitting in one piece sweaters.  It's not easy to see in the photos, but either side of the cable and lace centre panel, the sweater is reverse stocking stitch, so I've taken my time, doing mattress stitch, being careful to make sure I'm picking up the little purl bumps in a straight line up the knitting and I think it looks neat enough.

What you can probably see from the next photo, though, is that I've pulled the stitching a bit too tight under the arm.  Fortunately, I didn't tie off the yarn when I finished that seam, so I'll be able to loosen the stitches.  I've got one shoulder seam to sew and lots of ends to darn in before starting the ribbing.  I'll be looking on the Internet for ways of darning in yarn ends in reverse stocking stitch, especially as there are two ends that are mid-row, because there was a knot in the yarn (grrrrr; a particular bug-bear of mine).

I'm hoping it won't take me more than another couple of days to finish this off as I think it's going to be a sweater I wear a lot as I've got several long-sleeved t-shirts I can wear it with.

Mind you, with this current dreary wet weather, I think blocking and drying it will take longer than I'd like.

I seem to have a lot of yarn downstairs at the moment.  Not my fault; DD2 keeps bringing down balls from my stash and asking me to make things from it and I haven't got round to taking it back upstairs again.  She's particularly keen on me making her some tinsel Hedgehogs.  I've got yarn and I've got the pattern, so I might indulge her.  Expect a sparkly post before too long!