Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Appersett

November 2009

I haven't done a great deal of knitting for men, but I have noticed that there seems to be something about masculine taste in general which could very easily be completely at odds with the interests of the hand-knitter. The ones I've spoken to about it, at least, seem to have such plain taste that knitting for them can very easily become dull as ditchwater if you let it.

Marie Wallin's Apersett thankfully avoids this problem - mainly by being such a chunky knit that it's basically finished before it ever has time to get boring. The little textural details help enormously too.

I converted this to be worked in the round so that we could try it on as we went - if we had had to wait until it was finished to get an idea about whether there were any sizing issues, I suspect we might have fallen out spectacularly. I also thought seams would just add unnecessary bulk, given how chunky this yarn is.

We also tweaked the design a little to make it what we thought was a flattering as possible. This meant missing out garter-stitch panels on the shoulders and garter-stitch stripes on the inside of the sleeves.

Pattern: Appersett by Marie Wallin from Rowan Purelife - the British Sheep Breeds Collection
Yarn: Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds Chunky
Amount: 9 skeins
Colourway: Dark Grey Welsh
Needles: 6.00mm and 7.00mm
Size: 42"
On ravelry: here

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Shirley

November 2009

There's something lovely about starting a dense, time consuming, gorgeously textured project which you know is going to ask a lot of you. I'd say Shirley was worth every second.

I modified Snowden's pattern in several small ways:

- I left off a series of eyelets above the lace;
- I added a few more rows of short row shaping than the pattern suggested;
- I knit the pieces in the wrong order (scarf, top half, sleeve, sleeve, body) so that I got plenty of practice with the lace; and
- I worked my raglan increases differently so that they would look less airy.

Nevertheless, it's an inspired and beautifully written pattern.

This project also taught me how to a simple thing like threading a tapestry needle with a line of dental floss and passing it through the live stitches every ten rows or so can really do a lot for a person's sanity.

Pattern: Shirley by Snowden Becker
Yarn: Rowan Kidsilk Haze
Amount: 5 skeins
Colourway: 605 Smoke
Needles: 3.25mm
Size: 34"
On ravelry: here

Monday, 28 June 2010

Opulent Raglan

September 2009

This is another project which owes a lot to ravelry.com. I'm a member of a group which in 2009 was called 'National Knit a Sweater a Month Dodecathon 2009', and it's a great way of discovering new patterns which you might not otherwise have come across. This was one of them.

I messed up the shaping a little bit - starting it where the pattern suggested meant the waist was much too high up on me, on account of my larger-than-average bust. However, since this is a top-down seamless project, which I could (and should) have tried on as I went, it's entirely my fault.

I used a locally produced yarn for this - the Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop's Aran. It's slightly scratchy, but looks very pretty and is great value for money if you ever happen to be in Wensleydale...

Pattern: Opulent Raglan by Wendy Bernard from Knitscene Fall 2008
Yarn: Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop Aran
Amount: 5 skeins
Colourway: 154 731
Needles: 4.00mm
Size: 34"
On ravelry: here

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Lucetta

September 2009

I probably would never have made this, if it wasn't for ravelry.

The version in Rowan Studio 4 was knitted up in a very pale coloured yarn, and the lace detail didn't really show up very clearly. It was the darker versions on ravelry, especially those worn with something pale underneath which I was inspired by. Which just goes to show you that sometimes enthusiastic amateurs can do a better job than professional photographers and models...

It was a quick and lovely project. Kidsilk haze is expensive, but goes a long way and feels soft as can be. I like my sweaters closer fitting than this was designed to be, so I made the smallest size available, and even that feels plenty roomy. I think mohair isn't especially great at keeping its shape.
I'd had the yarn I used for this for a long time, originally intending to make something else with it. When I settled for this project I did have to top up my supply, but the difference in dyelots really didn't seem to show up.

Pattern: Lucetta by Sarah Hatton from Rowan Studio 4
Yarn: Rowan Kid Silk Haze
Amount: 6 skeins
Colourway: Liqueur
Needles: 5.00mm and 5.50mm
Size: Smallest
On ravelry: here

Saturday, 26 June 2010

George the Cat

August 2009

Bless him, he's such a cutie and was no trouble at all - only took a couple of days, the pattern was a freebie from Knitting Daily, and he was made from yarn leftover from this project.

The pattern was a bit vague about how to make the face, so I just sort of fudged it pre-stuffing.

The little collar was made from a bead sewn to a pretty ribbon, but then I remembered I had a Lindor Bunny lying about somewhere and pinched its collar too, in case he ever feels like a change of clothes.

Pattern: Cat by Louisa Harding
Yarn: Rowan Classic Pima Cotton
Amount: 1 skein of each
Colourway: 065 Peppercorn / 064 Badger
Needles: 3.75mm
Size: One size
On ravelry: here

Friday, 25 June 2010

Tempting II

September 2009

I haven't worn this at all since I made it, and it's definitely in the frog pile, although it's hard to put a finger on why, exactly.

First there's the yarn. Calmer is tremendously popular, and I don't like to be controversial, but I hate it. It's very soft, but it's also very springy and possibly as a result of this, it just looks messy. I'd never really noticed my knitting looking all inconsistent, loose and uneven before, but it was when I used Calmer, even for something as simple as 1x1 rib.
Then there's the pattern. The neckline just hung off my shoulders, and so I had to put a series of pleats into it to make it lie correctly. I ran out of yarn before the end (I needed 5 skeins even though it called for 4) and when I topped up my supply, the difference between dye-lots really showed up.

It's also a very unfair thing to say because it should have been obvious if I'd thought about it, but that much 1x1 ribbing is time-consuming and dull as heck.

I don't like to end on a downer, so... erm... look at what a lovely day we had to take photographs of this project...

Pattern: Tempting II by Jenna Adorno for Knitty Winter 2005
Yarn: Rowan Calmer
Amount: 5 skeins
Colourway: 479
Needles: 5.00mm
Size: 36"
On ravelry: here

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Baby Bobbi Bear

August 2009

His name is definitely Gavin, regardless of what the pattern might have you believe, and he's an absolute legend.

When I took him to meet his new Mummy we decided to take him dress shopping with us, and his taste is just fabulous. And then he got dropped, which means that he ended up face-down in the street on his first ever outing...

Very easy knit, and a great way to practice using double-pointed needles. He has a bit of a ladder down his front where the DPNs gave me a slight tension issue, and if I were to make him again, I would probably use a long circular needle and magic loop method instead, because I find it easier to get a neat result that way. The scarf covers it up nicely.

I hadn't used an Alpaca yarn before, and this one was just gorgeous. I did have an issue with one of the skeins being frayed in several places, but the others were fine.

Gavin was stuffed twice over - once with a cheap stuffing sold in sheets at a shop called Boyes, and the second time with a slightly more expensive stuffing which came pre-fluffed in a bag from Craft Basics in York. The first attempt had come out horribly lumpy, which might be because I'm no expert at the sort of thing, or it might be that the stuffing just wasn't very good quality. I couldn't stand for him to be lumpy, though.

Pattern: Baby Bobbi Bear by Bobbi Intveld for Blue Sky Alpacas
Yarn: Blue Sky Alpacas 100% Alpaca Sport Weight
Amount: 4 skeins
Colourway: 503 Medium Tan
Needles: 5.50mm
Size: One size
On ravelry: here

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Titania

September 2009

This was a real breakthrough project for me - I spent the whole time I was working on it wondering when the heck I had suddenly developed this ability to work lace.

I love the lacy bits, but I did think this pattern was slightly unimaginative, in that because the lace is around the hip and waistline, the issue of shaping is side-stepped altogether, and there just isn't any. At all. Seems a pity to me, although worn with slightly less positive ease than I wear it, it's not an unflattering sweater.
This yarn has now been discontinued, which means that most yarn stores which have any left in stock are selling it off very cheaply. As a result, this sweater cost a total of £16.92, which is great value for money.

I made this using circular Addi Lace Turbos, which are the absolute rolls-royce of needles. I wanted to give myself the best possible opportunity of getting the lace right, and it worked - no ripping back, tinking or frogging required.

Pattern: Titania from Sublime 609, The Even More Gorgeous Sublime Kid Mohair Book
Yarn: Sublime Kid Mohair
Amount: 8 skeins
Colourway: 070 Loganberry
Needles: 5.00mm
Size: 36/38"
On ravelry: here

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Fish Hat [Dead or Alive]

July 2009

What a cute, quirky pattern this is. God bless knitty.com and the great work they do :)

It may look like a novelty hat, but it's not just a novelty hat, it's also an exercise in short-row shaping and using double pointed needles, both of which are such useful skills to have that they justify making it on their own.

The short-shaping used up much more grey that I was expecting, and so this had to go into hibernation while I tracked down some more. I don't mind that, though - I quite like the idea of a hibernating fish.

The only real modification I made was to slip the first stitch of every second row of a new colour, to make the stripes jogless.

Pattern: Fish Hat [Dead or Alive] by Thelma Egberts from Knitty Winter 2008
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran
Amount: 2 / 1 / 1 / 1 skeins
Colourway: 009 Grey / 028 Black / 005 Blue-green / 202 Blue
Needles: 5.00mm
Size: One size
On ravelry: here

Monday, 21 June 2010

Gwen

August 2009

This is a very pretty little set for new babies of either gender (and so a bit of a lifesaver when the parents decide they don't want to be told what they're having until the big day).

The hat is a modified-to-match version of Erica Knight's Baby Beanie Hat from Simple Knits for Cherished Babies, which I've found to be a great fall-back collection.

I loved the Cashmerino Aran too, although (as you might expect from a Cashmere/Merino blend) it didn't do so well in the washing machine. The care instructions said 30 degrees, so I tried it at 40, and it felted slightly. Gah.

It still got a lot of wear, thankfully. The baby in question turned out to be a boy, by the way. I'm still unclear on what he'll be mostly wearing next winter, but I'm sure it will be fabulous...

Pattern: Gwen by Debbie Bliss from Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Collection / Baby Beanie Hat by Erica Knight from Simple Knits for Cherished Babies
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran
Amount: 1 / 3 skeins
Colourway: 024 Blue-green / 003 Green
Needles: 5.00mm
Size: 3 - 6 months
On ravelry: here

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Devon

August 2009

This was made as a gift for a very dear friend of mine, and converted from a t-shirt into a dress at her request, simply by adding about 6" to the length prior to starting to increase for the sleeves.


My gauge was a bit loose, and this is a very slouchy design, so it has heaps and heaps of positive ease. Just as well really, because by the time I got around to making it for her, she was about 6 months pregnant (and still able to fit into a small...)

Love love love the pima cotton. It makes a gorgeous fabric, and seemed so much more forgiving than the other cottons I've tried.

Pattern: Devon by Kim Hargreaves from Breeze
Yarn: Rowan Classic Pima Cotton
Amount: 5 / 6 skeins
Colourway: 065 Peppercorn / 064 Badger
Needles: 3.75mm and 3.00mm
Size: Small
On ravelry: here

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Simple Knitted Bodice

June 2009

By the time I came to make this, I knew that you're not supposed to mix dye lots. However, when you have three skeins of something but no clear purpose in mind, and find a gorgeous pattern like this that calls for seven, what's a girl to do?

So, with detailed explanations and disclaimers, and informed approval, I set about making B's birthday sweater. The difference in dye-lots did show up a bit (it's difficult to capture these things in a photograph) but given how much I wanted to keep this when it was done, I guess it can't have been that much of a problem...

We had a bit of a try on as you go session with this, and as she's a very tall lady, we decided to add about 2" to the length of the body and 1" to the length of the arms, in each case after all the shaping had been finished off.

I hadn't done much lace knitting before this, and so I did have to cloister myself away a little bit when I came to those sections. I was very proud of the end result though, and as these things so often are, it was easier than I was expecting. And I enjoyed the peace and quiet, to be honest...

One day I'd like to make this again for myself, possibly with some short-row shaping at the bust. I might be being a bit picky, but I think the intention is that the lace section sits a bit lower down the body than it does on me (from the front, at any rate).

Pattern: Simple Knitted Bodice by Stefanie Japel for Stitch Diva Studios
Yarn: Rowan Felted Tweed
Amount: 7 skeins
Colourway: 146 Herb
Needles: 3.5mm and 4.00mm
Size: 36 - 38"
On ravelry: here

Friday, 18 June 2010

Jasmine

June 2009

Because a true fanatic doesn't let a little thing like warm weather get in the way of the knitting...

Knitting with cotton is a bit different from knitting with wool - it's not going to felt, or pile or anything like that, but it will probably split. A lot. It requires a great deal of patience, and being my first cotton project I was unprepared, and lost my tempter with Jasmine pretty badly once or twice.

I couldn't quite get gauge with this yarn, so I went down a size to make up for the fact that I was knitting slightly loosely. Bit of a hit-and-miss approach, fit wise, but it seemed to work out alright.

These pictures were taken on holiday in Tuscany, Italy as that was where I finished this project off.

Pattern: Jasmine by Kim Hargreaves from Nectar
Yarn: Rowan Fine Milk Cotton
Amount: 6 skeins
Colourway: 488 Scented Satin
Needles: 2.25mm and 2.75mm
Size: XS
On ravelry: here

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Gathered Pullover

June 2009 and December 2009

I've made this twice over - the purple one was my sister's Christmas present in 2009, and the blue one is a practice version I made for myself. Well, it's important to get it right when you're knitting for other people...

I want to make it again, though. My little blue one got a lot of wear, but is a bit short, feels slightly felted and a bit too snug now. On ravelry there are some lovely versions in Kid Classic, and I have loads of that stashed, so watch this space.

In both versions I worked a round of 1x1 rib shortly after casting on, to help prevent the bottom hem from rolling up, as stocking stitch likes to do. I also added a lot of length to the purple version, and waist shaping to both.

I should add that the purple one is pinned back to fit me in the pictures, since asking for modelled shots would have spoiled the surprise a bit!

This is a great pattern - the design is ingenious, but it's actually a very straighforward knit, almost mindless at times. Once again, Felted Tweed shows up the cable detail beautifully.

Pattern: Gathered Pullover by Hana Jason from Interweave Knits Winter 2007
Yarn: Rowan Felted Tweed
Amount: 6 / 7 skeins
Colourway: 170 Seafarer (blue) / 151 Bilberry (purple)
Needles: 4.00mm and 4.50mm
Size: 36.5" / 40.5"
On ravelry: here and here

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Annikki

June 2009

So this is Norah Gaughan's gorgeous Annikki, but altered in two important ways:

1. I used Rowan's Kid Classic for a pattern which was written for Berroco's Ultra Alpaca. The recommended gauge for Kid Classic is 18sts to 4" but I've always found it a bit loose like that, and didn't have any problems downsizing to 20sts to 4" in order to sub it. Both yarns are blends - Kid Classic wool and mohair, and Ultra Alpaca wool and alpaca. I figured both probably have a slight halo too, although I expect it's more pronounced with Kid Classic.

2. I wanted a size 36", but the pattern was only writen for 34" and 38", so I went for something halfway between the two and winged it.

I absolutely adore the end result. It's something I would have paid a lot of money for had I seen it in a shop a few years ago. And I made it myself. Yay!

This gets a LOT of use, but luckily Kid Classic really doesn't show its age in the same way other yarns can.

Pattern: Annikki by Norah Gaughan
Yarn: Rowan Kid Classic
Amount: 10 skeins
Colourway: 831 Smoke
Needles: 4.00mm and 4.50mm
Size: 36"
On ravelry: here

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Francis Revisited

April 2009

Another chunky top-down project, although somehow I managed to make this one much too big around the hips, so it doesn't get too much wear.

It's always a tough call choosing what size to go for when your top-half and your bottom half are different sizes. These days I tend to go for the smaller size and add short row shaping around the bust if needs be because I think it gives a much more flattering fit.

It could be that the slightly acrylicy yarn has just stretched, but I hope not because I think it's rather pretty. This project is now earmarked for recycling into a Textured Tunic come the next cold snap. It seems a shame when it's not at all bad looking in its current incarnation, but it really doesn't get half the wear it deserves because the fit is so dodgy (it's pinned back for the pictures).

I've urged this pattern on non-knitting friends as an excellent starter sweater - to no avail as yet, but I shall persevere...

Pattern: Francis Revisited by Beth Silverstein
Yarn: Sirdar Peru Naturals
Amount: 8 skeins
Colourway: Machu Picchu
Needles: 7.00mm
Size: 37"
On ravelry: here

Monday, 14 June 2010

Vine Lace Cardigan

April 2009

This project will always have a special place in my heart, as it was the first seamless top-down pattern I ever tried, and it's a very gratifying technique. Being able to try on as you go, and not having to sew anything up afterwards makes for very relaxing knitting!

On top of that, this is such a chunky yarn that the cardigan seemed done in no time. Thanks to the clever design, and the ribbing around the waist in particular, it's a very fitted, flattering shape too.

Pattern: #77 Vine Lace Top Down Cardigan by SweaterBabe
Yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky
Amount: 7 skeins
Colourway: M-06 Deep Charcoal
Needles: 7.00mm
Size: Medium
On ravelry: here

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Hannah

April 2009

This pattern reminded me a lot of another pattern by Kim Hargreaves which I had attempted previously - Calm. The yarn is the same, and so is the construction, more or less. Being loosely knit on over-large needles, and entirely stocking stitch, this was an extremely quick and easy project. The hardest part was probably all the sewing up, since making all the stripes line up was a bit fiddly.

The thick grey stripe at the top was a modification I copied from someone else on ravelry. In the original pattern the stripe sequence continued all the way to the top, but I thought that tended to make the wearer look a little bit pin-headed, if you can imagine such a thing.

I made a size larger than I needed, because I was worried about all those stripes being a bit unflattering if it was too clingy. This was definitely the wrong thing to do, since mohair (especially when it's this loosely knit) tends to grow and loose shape a bit with wear, so now this sweater is much too big. These days I usually go down a size for a mohair project, if anything.

Pattern: Hannah by Kim Hargreaves from Thrown Together
Yarn: Rowan Kidsilk Aura
Amount: 4 skeins of each
Colourway: 751 Putty (cream) and 758 Steel (grey)
Needles: 6.00mm, 7.00mm and 8.00mm
Size: 38"
On ravelry: here

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Irish Hiking Scarf

March 2009

This was an excellent way of using up the yarn I had left over from making my Central Park Hoodie and luckily for me, a friend of mine was looking for a teal coloured scarf anyway...

The yarn I used for this pattern was so chunky that I thought it would be too wide if I followed the pattern as written and included three cables. I don't usually like scarves to be more than about 5.5" wide, and so with that in mind, I kept it down to two cables instead, which made it about 4.5" wide.

Most the cables were worked without a cable needle, which made it a much quicker project. It's a useful skill to have.

Pattern: Irish Hiking Scarf by Adrian Bizilia
Yarn: Tahki Yarns Donegal Tweed
Amount: 1.5 skeins
Colourway: 809
Needles: 5.00mm
Size: n/a
On ravelry: here

Friday, 11 June 2010

Lacy Stripe Sweater

March 2009

Back in the days when I knitted this I was so committed to the notion of working on one project at a time that I took this pure wool long sleeved sweater on holiday with me to Mexico to work on. Obviously it felt a little bit out of place, but it's great to be able to associate a finished object with a time and place like that, especially since I got engaged on that holiday!

This pattern was simple and straightforward to follow, and the yarn cost less than £25.00, which is something of a bargain. I think there was a slight mistake in the pattern, when it came to dividing the neckline, but it was easily spotted and remedied (details are on my ravelry project page).

This pattern relies on the fact that has vertical ribbing for shaping, which means no increasing or decreasing to worry about until you get to the armholes, making for some joyfully mindless knitting.

Pattern: Lacy Stripe Sweater from Twilleys 454 Freedom Wool Accessories
Yarn: Twilleys of Stamford Freedom Spirit
Amount: 9 skeins
Colourway: Air
Needles: 4.00mm
Size: 36"
On ravelry: here

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Baby Viking Hat

February 2009

There's NOTHING cuter than a baby in a novelty hat. So I found this pattern totally irresistible.

This was based on Sarah's pattern, but very loosely. I had to modify it for gauge and so that the hat was knitted flat rather than in the round (I hadn't got the hang of DPNs at this stage). I also started shaping the crown much sooner than intended, and stuffed the horns so as to bulk them out a bit.

The whole thing took less than two days to make (with a little bit of help from my Mum, who did the horns), and is still one of my favourite finished objects ever.


Pattern: Baby Viking Hat by Sarah Fama
Yarn: Sublime extra fine merino dk
Amount: 1 skein of each
Colourway: 014 Toast (brown), 003 Alabaster (cream), 018 Dusted Grey (grey)
Needles: 3.50mm
Size: Smallest
On ravelry: here