Thursday, 30 December 2010

Tailored Cardigan

December 2010

This feels like the first thing I've made for myself for months and months - I think I might have gotten a bit carried away with all the Christmas knitting.

DROPS Alpaca is a beautiful yarn, ridiculously warm and brilliant value for money. The DROPS website offers great free pattern support too - I'd definitely use it a lot more if it was easier to get hold of DROPS yarns in the UK. As it is, I only happened upon this pattern because the yarn was bought for me in New York.

I modified this pattern a little - adding short row shaping at the bust and leaving off the buttonholes because I wanted to use a brooch I already owned as the fastening. Now this cardigan reminds me of a song by They Might Be Giants which mentions a 'blue canary in the attic by the light-switch, who watches over you' whenever I wear it, which is a nice feeling.

This was very simple very straightforward knitting, but it's going to be a very useful piece. It's not one of those "look at all the funky crap I can do" projects, but I am going to wear it a lot. And to my mind, that makes it a definite winner.

Pattern: 97-18 Tailored Cardigan by DROPS Design
Yarn: Garnstudio DROPS Alpaca
Amount: 5.5 skeins
Colourway: 4305
Needles: 3.25mm
Size: Small
On ravelry: here

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Techniques: what to do if you cut through a stitch

Today, whilst trying to remove a button so that I could reattach it more neatly, I snipped through a stitch of a cardigan that is my Mother in Law's Christmas present. She is coming to collect it tomorrow.

Aside from throwing the offending cardigan onto the floor and jumping up and down on it until I felt better, and then desperately trudging around overcrowded shops in order to find some mass produced nonsense to give her instead what, I asked myself, can be done about this?

If you find yourself in a remotely similar position then welcome, and sympathies. For what it's worth, here's how I dealt with the problem (this article from Knitty is tremendously helpful too).

First off, if it makes you feel any better, swear. A lot. As knitting hiccoughs go, this is always going to feel like a big deal, and the most obvious solution (ripping back and re-knitting the affected area) involves a lot of work.

One of the biggest challenges here is that you have two loose ends which are going to unravel and make a hole. But they are too short to be safely woven into the knitted fabric, unless we make them longer. This is going to involve a little bit of unravelling, and that's always a bit of a stomach churning thing to do, but don't worry, it's only a very little bit, and we're totally in control of this.

Thread a blunt tapestry needle with a yarn which is smooth, won't snag and which stands out against the yarn from which the project in question is made. One at a time, use the tip of the needle to slowly pull the two loose ends of the snipped stitch through the loops of the adjoining stitches and at the same time thread the contrasting yarn through these loops so that they can't unravel any further than you want them to.

Keep going until the two ends of the snipped stitch are long enough to weave in. You will have a bit of a hole, but all the loose stitches are safely waiting on the scrap yarn. Like this:

We'll weave in the loose ends later. For the time being we're going to use the original yarn (dark blue in my case) and duplicate stitch to close up that hole. The stitches that we unravelled to lengthen our loose ends are the same ones we are going to duplicate.

Start by threading the blunt tapestry needle with the original yarn and pulling it through the loop where the bottom of the 'v' of the first missing stitch would have been. Like this:

Then pull it across the stitch above (pictured below) and then back down into the same place you started from. And repeat for each of the stitches which have been unravelled, pulling out the scrap yarn as you go.

There are now four loose ends to weave in - the two ends of the stitch which was cut, and the two ends of the thread which was used to darn up the hole. At this point my work looked like this:

For obvious reasons, some of these might be shorter than ideal and only just long enough to weave in. If so, it might be helpful to try pushing the 'eye' end of the tapestry needle through the stitch you've chosen to weave into rather than the pointy end. If the thread is too short to allow you to pull the needle all the way through, pull the thread out of the needle and re-thread it again for next time.

I was lucky in one respect - my repaired section is going to have a button on top of it, and so it won't be visible. After weaving in all the loose ends, the end result isn't perfect, but it'll do:

Now get yourself a large drink. Or a biscuit. Or a nice cup of tea. Or whatever other little treat tickles your fancy. You've earned it.

Joy mark II

December 2010

I really don't have very much to say about this one, because I've made it once before not too long ago, and I only made it again because mine was coveted by my mother in law. Making her one for Christmas seemed the decent thing to do.

I did have a struggle getting the sleeve caps to fit properly, and ended up ripping them back and making them a lot shallower, which seemed to help. I vaguely recall having a similar problem the first time around, but maybe it's just me.

I really liked this yarn - Wendy Supreme Luxury Cotton dk. It was much less splitty and more forgiving than a lot of the Rowan cottons I've used, despite being better value for money. It has great yardage too.

My husband's contribution was to choose the buttons. I didn't want to completely take over his mother's Christmas present!

Pattern: Joy by Kim Hargreaves from Nectar
Yarn: Wendy Supreme Luxury Cotton dk
Amount: 5 skeins
Colourway: 1828
Needles: 3.25mm and 4.00mm
Size: 36"
On ravelry: here

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Selbu Modern

December 2010

This hat was born of a desire to make something a bit special for a lady who was supposed to be getting Kate Davies' Owls for Christmas, but then got pregnant and thus rather more difficult to knit for.

I'm still a bit of a colourwork novice, but this pattern was lovely and straightforward to follow. I used the Elizabeth Zimmermann technique of holding the main colour yarn in one hand and the contrast colour yarn in the other. My left handed tension still needs a lot of work, but somehow it seems to have come out alright.

The hat was wet blocked around a 10" table mat and then steamed using an iron and a damp tea towel, to get rid of the crinkles.

My cast on edge (using long-tail) was much too snug, so I'm afraid I bullied my husband into wearing it for a couple of hours which stretched it out nicely.

I'd definitely make this again - it's such a pretty motif, and I love the tiny stripe of contrast colour around the brim, which really frames the face beautifully.

Pattern: Selbu Modern by Kate Gagnon Osbourne
Yarn: King Cole Merino Blend 4-ply / Cygnet Truly Wool Rich 4-ply
Amount: Less than one skein of each
Colourway: 49 Clerical / 2066 Black
Needles: 2.75mm
Size: about One size
On ravelry: here