The thing in the wardrobe

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, lace, sewing on July 23rd, 2015

Looking back through the blog it seems to be six years since I cleared out the front bedroom so I shouldn’t be surprised that it took me so long to get down to floor level this time. It’s done now (hopefully for another six years), I can get in there to sew and I even dug some yarn out to make a warp. I’ve now got a queue of things to quilt – there is the tree skirt I made recently, the cabin in the woods wall hanging, the tree skirt I found in the wardrobe last week and a quilt made of trees. There is a certain tree theme here, it’s not intentional but just the way it worked out.

I knew this was in the wardrobe, it’s been in there for decades. I won the tree blocks back in the early days of the internet, they were paper pieced so I had hopes of them all being the same size but it was not to be. They were supposed to be 8″ finished but there were multiple makers and slightly different sizes and they were not going to play well together. I framed the trees with the light brown fabrics and squared it up as I went along making it less noticeable that some of the trees are significantly larger than others. Phase one of quilting was along the blue lines of the sashing, I had a long repeating leaf and vine motif running from one side of the quilt to the other and a shorter repeat in between. It’s more visible on the back, you can see the way that the leaves are currently framing a square of empty space. At that point my bright ideas stopped and the whole thing went into the wardrobe for a decade or so. When it came out of hiding for phase two of quilting I used some of the leaves to fill in all the triangles around the outside of the quilt and I bound the edges. That left me with the trees themselves and I was stumped. I tried a few things such as echo quilting the tree shape and a circular wreath of leaves but I couldn’t come up with anything I liked the look of so it went back into the wardrobe again.

Inspiration struck last week while I was making the bed, it’s been warm and we’re sleeping under a quilt that I finished in 1996. I looked at the quilting design in the corner block which has no resemblance to the tree quilt other than it is square but instantly I could see how I could fill those empty tree blocks. I drafted the pattern and then later that day I moved the sewing machine cabinet and found the pattern I’d used for quilting the sashing back in the 1990′s. I’m tracing the pattern, sewing through it and adding the wandering vine around the outside as I go depending on how much empty space I have. It’s going well so far, one block takes me about ten minutes but I’ve had enough after three of them. I’m hoping that by the time I’m done I will have recovered my machine quilting skills or at least clawed some of them back.

This has been my take along knitting project for a while, it’s been to music lessons, Saturday morning music centre, anywhere where I need to sit about. It started out as a skein of white yak/silk that I spun sometime in the past, the label said that there were 420 yards but it didn’t give a clue as to the date. I think it’s probably this one from 2012 that I spun as an attempt to forget all about junior’s audition. I dyed it a while ago but then couldn’t find the right project. In the end I grew tired of looking at it and decided that what it really wanted to be was finished. It is now a cowl, it comes to waist depth on me and will make a soft and warm Christmas present for someone. I will block it properly before I wrap it, it will get wires and steam to make the points pointy, I just soaked it and laid it flat to dry in an attempt to move it from the coffee table into the present cupboard.

My evening job this week is making more hankies for Christmas, he’ll get half now and half wrapped up later. The blue elephants were considerably cheaper than the yellow ones for reasons that are not at all clear to me. I would expect yellow to be discounted because it’s never a popular colour but the blue was less than half the price of the yellow. I bought a metre and it will make a dozen hankies. Sewing them is very relaxing, right up until the moment when the thread gets tangled after which it’s not relaxing at all. My other evening project has been, as always, socks but that has been derailed as I’ve reached the toe and despite counting, checking and counting again they don’t look long enough. I tried them on and they’re too big for me but not enough “too big” for me to be happy about knitting a second toe. The feet don’t return home until Saturday so until then the socks are on hold.

If I manage to quilt four blocks a day then there should be a finished quilt to show next time, I’m confident now that its future is on a bed rather than in a wardrobe and that it will be finished this time rather than stuffed away for another ten years.

 

 



Roarbark

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, socks on July 14th, 2015

I’m popping in while I have a cup of tea, this is my break between phases three and four of tidying up in the spare bedroom. It’s needed doing for months but I really want to be able to get to the sewing cabinet so now is the right time. It’s coming up to the time of year when I have a week with no cooking and where the house stays tidy, where I’m nearly home alone all week. It would be a shame to have so much free time and not be able to use it to best advantage. The dog is happy with my progress, when I pulled the cabinet away from the wall to pick up all the many things that had fallen behind it I found what I remember as a puffalasauraus. It was one of my son’s toys some fourteen years ago. The dog is exactly the right age to enjoy it, it took him a while to find out how to make it roar but since then there has been nonstop roaring and barking. The lolling tongue indicates that he’s been working hard on subduing the dinosaur, at some point this afternoon I’ll confiscate it and he’ll collapse from exhaustion.

What have I been up to since I posted last? I drove Master WFB to an audition and out of desperation pulled off my best parking performance in years. It’s amazing what you can do when time and parking spaces are short, needs must when the devil drives (and parks). The results of the audition are not until mid December which is too long to be distracted with a diverting project (like last time) so I’m aiming to go with plan B which is to ignore it altogether. We also had a surprise! invitation which means he’s missing the last four days of school to go on a residential music course next week. The camera card reports that I have finished a pair of socks and made another bow tie. This one matched my son’s purple jacket, it’s a perfect match because I made it out of the trousers that I dyed at the same time as the jacket (really, it does match even though the two set of photos would say otherwise). It’s like the other one I made in that it’s hand tied (rather than folded and sewn) but opens at the back with a hook and eye and there’s a slider to make it adjustable. The socks are made from leftover sock yarn, there were still a lot of leftovers leftover so I immediately cast on for another pair. They will also be having an orange stripe because why not? He complained that he ended the day with striped feet but seeing as I didn’t dye any of the yarns in these I didn’t feel in the slightest bit guilty.

Duty calls, my next job is to sweep the floor now that I’ve uncovered it then there will be some packing away of wool, folding of fabric and admiring of progress. Next time I’ll probably be looking at What I Found In The Wardrobe (circa 1994)

 

 



Sixteen years of waiting and a week to finish

Posted by Caroline in sewing on June 30th, 2015

I find it easier to start something when there is a constraint. Give me total freedom and I’ll be stalled by too many possibilities. Once upon a time (or to put it another way “in 1998″) I joined in a round robin quilt exchange. We each made a centre block, explained our theme then boxed up the block and a selection of fabric and posted it to the next member of the exchange. When the box came home from its tour of the United States and Australia I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my cabin in the woods so I packed it away. It came out briefly in 2009 when I looked to see what I had in storage and then went back in the cupboard again.

Last week I looked at the space at the top of the stairs that has a small quilted wallhanging on it and I knew that’s what the cabin in the woods wanted to be.  I now had a constraint, the maximum size that would fit on the wall was 38″ by 40″. All the blocks we made in the exchange were multiples of 4″ so I simplified the maths by working in 4″ units. I worked out that I only needed twelve more 4″ units to make a 32″ square quilt and as that was the size of the quilt that was there I thought that would do well enough.

The first eight units were easy, they echo trees that are in the feature block and I made them longer to add a bit of variety to the shapes as the majority of the blocks were 4″ square.  That it was also faster was nothing at all to do with my choice. The top corner of the panel was the challenge so I ignored it and worked on the remainder of the blocks. I fiddled around until I had something that I liked and then I stopped. I could spend weeks rearranging these blocks to make them “better” but good enough will do. Back in the day I would have needed to write down descriptions of the blocks in a grid pattern if I wanted to be sure that I ended up sewing them in the order that I’d set them out – now life is much easier thanks to digital photography.

I wanted to use the yellow signature panel as the sun in the top left corner but because I didn’t plan for this sixteen years ago it was the wrong size for everything that I thought of. It wouldn’t fit into a circle to go in the middle of a mariner’s compass block. I thought that it would fit into an oval but after several attempts I had to admit defeat with that too, it was destined to remain a four by six rectangle. I then had an afternoon drafting all sorts of pointy sun ray edgings to make the rectangle into the eight inch square that I needed. I had the rectangle in the middle of the block, at the edge, at the top corner but I wasn’t really sold on any of them. In the end I threw all the paper in the bin (I ran to three sheets) chalked up the wasted hours to experience and added a strip of flying geese and a bit of sashing.

I thought it needed a picture frame, not a window frame because of course my cabin would not be overlooked. The whole point of having a fantasy cabin in the woods is that there are no neighbours. (As an aside, I wouldn’t be having the bears either but the beaver, deer and rabbit can stay) I had nowhere near enough of the cedar fabric that I sent out with the block but I had the same print in a lighter colour and although there wasn’t much I was happy that I could make it do. The constraint to the width of the border was not the size of the wall but the shape of the fabric I had. I didn’t even have enough to mitre the corners, two of the strips were only half an inch bigger than the panel. I do have enough left to bind it, there may be more joins than I’d like but that’s just how it is. It needs pressing but it will need pressing again before I come to quilt it so I opted for the time saving measure of not bothering. I think I’ll be quilting it with something that looks like wind, it will have to wait until I’ve cleared a path to the sewing machine cabinet.

As an aside, I made a bow tie this week. You have to tie it once (which obviously I did) but after that it unhooks at the back. I bought the hardware for three so there will be another two coming along in due course.

 



Good from a distance

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, socks on June 23rd, 2015

I decided that the time was right for making that tree skirt that I never get around to making. One of the reasons that I’ve been putting it off for so long was that I needed to enlarge the pattern which is easy with squares and more of a challenge with diamonds. I suspected that it might need the use of GCSE trigonometry and I was right. Fortunately I have an occasional GCSE maths revision session when I have to attempt to explain the trickier questions of junior’s homework so it wasn’t as challenging as it would otherwise have been. I scaled up the pattern, dredged out the scrap boxes and then lurgy struck. All I wanted to do was to cough, sneeze and moan about my sore throat but when the dining table looks like the photo on the left then stopping is not really an option. I made some really stupid mistakes when I was feeling rough, including cutting off the piece I’d just sewn on, sewing wrong sides together and not making an allowance for a seam. It took far longer than it should have done and there was much unpicking and muttering.

The wrapping on the presents is made from leftovers from the scrap box pieced onto a foundation of paper, I mostly used the offcuts from the Pokemon quilt I made in 2006 (there’s a photo at the bottom of this post) with a few other random bits as the mood took me. I pulled out two possible whites for the background but when I looked at them I didn’t think that I had enough of either to make eight blocks so I decided not to risk it but to make four blocks from each of the white fabrics. I am not at home to Mr CloseUp today because I absentmindedly took the paper off the first set of boxes before I’d sewn the background fabric to the sides. Without the paper to stabilise them the bias edges run amuck and the first four boxes are bigger than they should have been. The second four boxes are smaller than they should have been as I managed to allow for a seam allowance on only two sides rather than four. I think I’ll get away with it because of the sashing, in addition anyone wanting to have a closer look is going to have to get on their hands and knees and do battle with the lowest branches of the Christmas tree. It needs quilting but for that I need the sewing machine to be in the cabinet which means I need to tidy up. It’s only June, there’s plenty of time yet.

This is the second pair of child socks, it wasn’t until I came to take the photo that I realised that I’d managed a perfect match without trying. I was going to keep them for when I needed a bribe but he smiled and asked nicely so I handed them over and off they went to school. Note to self – do not leave potential gift socks in plain sight. The leftovers have gone straight into another pair, they are the third stripe from the cast on in this weirdly coloured photo. These are a pair of scrap striped socks, I’m knitting both at once because I’m expecting to run out of yarn multiple times. When a ball gets really small I’ll rewind it into a centre pull ball and knit from both ends  so it will end in the same place in both socks. There may be a random orange stripe once I’m past the heel, I haven’t quite decided yet. What usually happens when I’m using scraps in a project like this is that I pull out lots of little balls of sock yarn and then when I’ve finished I find that there are enough leftover leftovers to make another. In my dreams it makes a big dint in the pile, the reality is a different thing.

These trees don’t look all that significant but they are to me (in case anyone is wondering, yes, they do have a seam allowance on all four sides). Back in 1998 I joined in a round robin swap and when the box of blocks and fabric came back from its world tour I didn’t really know how to tackle it. I could add as many blocks as I wanted and make it whatever size I wanted, seeing as I didn’t have a clue what it was that I wanted I packed it away for another day. I now know exactly what I want, I’ve worked out that I need to make five blocks and these are four of them.

(Elizabeth – if you’re reading this, brace yourself for the sight of your sixteen year old blocks)



Zipping along

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, socks, sweaters on June 7th, 2015

I finished the cardi before I got my hands on the zip. I didn’t remember that the local shop doesn’t sell long open ended zips until I was standing there and I had a flashback to my previous attempted cardigan zip purchase. They didn’t sell 25″ zips then and they don’t sell them now. I tried to buy one on line from a sewing shop and came away with a pattern for pajamas because they had long open ended zips but only in neutral colours. Had I been knitting a cardigan in white, grey, brown, navy or black I would have been laughing but I was rather committed to seafoam green at that stage. I sat with a cup of tea and went hunting on the internet to find a zip that was the right length or longer and something resembling the right colour. There were plenty in the right colour which turns out to be “mint” but only in dress zips and that is no good for a cardigan as it’s a basic requirement that it open at the bottom. I know I’m a bit of a perfectionist but I quickly ditched “picky” in favour of “desperate”. The answer turned out to be an Ebay vendor in Hong Kong, by the time I reached that listing I was quite prepared to wait for it to be shipped from Mars. The zip is the perfect colour, arrived in eight days and cost £1.35 including shipping. The alternative in the wrong colour from the UK retailer would have been £1.85 plus £1.50 postage. There’s something wrong somewhere. The zip was a few inches too long but seeing as the internet is full of pages showing you how to shorten a zip I didn’t anticipate this being a problem for long. I pulled off an inch of surplus teeth, moved the metal stopper from the previous top to the new top and cut off the spare bit.

This is Highlander knitted in whichever variant of Ethical Twist featured at Kemps a couple of years ago. I think it’s the 70/30 wool/alpaca rather than the 85/15 but I took all the labels off to dye it so I can’t be totally certain. I added some more shaping in the body, changed the collar to roll over rather than stand up, added afterthought pockets and ditched the buttons for the difficult to source zip. I bought a kilo of the yarn when it was on sale (it was cheap then, oh so cheap) and I now have 500g left. I was knitting with three balls at a time to even out any colour changes but I could have easily got away with not bothering, the whole ten skeins were very uniform. It’s light enough to overdye and that’s what I think I’ll be doing with the leftovers. I’ve been calling the colour seafoam so I was mildly amused to see that the name of the matching thread I pulled out of the suitcase  was “Lagoon Blue”. It still needs blocking, I steamed all the bits that I needed to sit flat to be able to stitch it together because we’ve not had what would be described as good drying weather. At some point it will be washed and blocking will follow.

I’m sure it’s perfectly normal to go looking for a zip and come away with a pattern for pajamas, I was trying to feel better about the fixed postage cost on the zip and added the pattern to the cart before realising that I’d chosen a dress zip. In hindsight the clue should have been that the zip was the right colour but that was early in my search when I still thought that buying a zip was simple. These are test pajamas to check that they fit the son and heir. They need an inch or two on the length and the legs are ridiculously wide but other than that they are good. He likes his pajamas thicker, it would need a heatwave to get him into these. I made a pair for me as well but they’re not finished until I’ve made the top to go with them so the blog will have to wait for photos.

This is sock three of four, the first pair were finished last week and are now hopefully in the pile to be washed. I can but dream. They look like these, uniform compliant at the top and Opal something or other in the shoe. I weighed the bright yarn after the first sock so now I know that the coloured section takes 20g of yarn. I knew that I got two pairs from a ball with a bit left over but I’d never bothered to see how big a bit it was. I think the transition on this one may be my favourite yet, this may become the new standard boysock. At some point I will need to knit more socks for me, I’ve gone through the toes of another pair recently. When I checked I found that they were seven years old so really I can’t complain. I certainly wouldn’t expect to get more than twelve months out of a shop bought pair and my seven year olds may reach ten after a retoe.

 

 



Sew, knit, spin

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, Spinning, sweaters on May 21st, 2015

This looks to be the last shirt I’ll be making for a while, I’ve used all the shirt fabric I have and the shirt wearer doesn’t seem to have ordered any more. This was another piece that I bought as a three metre length, I cut out a short sleeved shirt first and that made the cutting of the long sleeved one very tricky. Sleeves are bigger than you think and it was a close thing as to whether I could make a long sleeved shirt with what I had left. It does look as if you can get two shirts from three metres of fabric, I’ve done it twice now but it is much easier if you are cutting the short sleeves at the end. This one has hidden buttons (you may need to click on the photo to be able to see that they aren’t there…..). I think that this is worth the effort and that little extra fabric involved in forming the placket because you don’t need to fret about getting the buttonholes perfectly aligned. I got the idea from watching an episode of QI where Mr Davies had a shirt with hidden buttons so we can chalk this one up to their props department.

I was close to running out of thread as well as running out of fabric. The worrying thing is that I knew that I couldn’t go out and buy another spool as this one is most certainly not available in the shops. It’s probably older than me, certainly old enough to be considered vintage, but it was the right colour, perfectly sound and free. I have custody of the family thread collection as I now do more sewing than my mother does which means that a lot of the time I can match thread to my project simply by opening a suitcase and rummaging through the contents. It’s a bit short in the purple range and I use a lot more grey than there ever was in the case but for most colours I can find a close match. Finding two shirt’s worth of close match is another issue.

The cardigan is crawling to a finish. I’m on the bands now, they are “zip bands” rather than “button bands” so there will be two button bands with no holes. I steam blocked the body and the first sleeve before casting on for the second sleeve so that if the first was the wrong length I had the chance to correct it on the second one. I can’t see the point of making two identical wrong things if you have a chance of getting one of them right. I basted the first sleeve in to the body to check the length and the fit of the cap and it looked like a sleeve should look so I made the second one the same. I have to finish the bands, sew in the sleeves and add pockets to the fronts and hopefully by the time I’ve done that I will have got the zip that I haven’t ordered yet. This was supposed to be a stash reduction project but it doesn’t look to have reduced it by very much at all. It’s difficult to see how much yarn you are using when you are knitting with three balls at once because you can knit forever without making any impact on the yarn. I haven’t counted the balls I have left (they are upstairs, I’m not) but I don’t remember going upstairs to fetch more yarn more than once.

It’s been a while since I spun anything other than grey Wensleydale so this was really enjoyable. I have a big plan for this, one of those plans that looks wonderful in my mind but may or may not transfer to the real world. Next time I will have yarn and perhaps more of a clue whether my idea will actually work. I’m pretty sure that when it comes to sewing the fabric made from the yarn I’ll be needing to match the green because I’ll have no chance at all of finding thread to match the purple.

Do you have a collection of vintage thread? Do tell, I’d love to hear about it especially since the sewing machine man told me that “no-one uses thread like that any more”.  He’s wrong – I do and I suspect that I’m not on my own.



What has it got in its pocketses?

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing on April 28th, 2015

I’m sitting here with my cup of tea and the bread rising in the tins; at this time of day it would normally be a cup of coffee but the machine is in pieces for its monthly clean. Today has all the signs of a doing day and my to do list includes “blog”. I’ll get the knitting out of the way to start with seeing as there is so little of it that it’s easily summarized. There are no points for guessing that this is a sleeve. I usually knit both together so I don’t have to think too much about the increases, if I miss one and then catch it up later then I will be consistent if not strictly correct. I thought about doing that, briefly, before dismissing the idea as utter madness. I’m knitting with three balls of wool to even out any colour changes and the thought of untangling six balls on a regular basis was not enticing.

Knitting – tick. Next up – sewing. This was the next shirt that I made, with this one I solved the problems I’d been having with the outer cuff being too short for the inner cuff. This was also the one where I used the last of the buttons, I bought fifty for the first shirt and thought that would be enough to last me forever but it turns out that I had a longer run of shirt making than I ever thought that I would. The fabric is a fine linen and it’s shot through with a silver thread which gives it a bit of sparkle without being over the top blingy. I like it, it would have been good for a dress if I’d not already made a shirt from it. That’s now out of the question because I find the thought of matching his and hers wardrobe items to be too weird for words.

The next shirt was a short sleeved one, this is the first one that I’ve made with a pocket. There are two reasons for this, the main one being that shirt pockets are the devil’s plaything and an affront to all right minded people where the definition of “right minded people” is “people who do the laundry”. Some residents (naming no names to protect the guilty) recklessly use their pockets (no, the horror!) and then fail to remove the contents prior to throwing the shirt in the wash. I have no words to tell you how I feel about that, feel free to read my mind. The second reason for pocket elimination is that the shirts so far have had pleats on the front and that means that a pocket wouldn’t sit flat. This shirt has no pleats because it’s different to all of the others. The pattern assumes that you are a cylinder in that you are the same size at the top as at the bottom but the resident husband is wider at the bottom than at the shoulder. I’m not going to continue the simile by calling him conical unless he leaves tickets in that pocket in which case I’ll be calling him worse than that. I either choose a size that fits at the shoulder and then add a few inches lower down or choose a size that fits in the body and reduce it at the shoulders. The third option is to choose a size that fits in the body, make no alterations at all and see the shoulder seam end way past the shoulder. This is the ready to wear option and is the only choice for people who don’t sew. This shirt is a larger size with an adjustment for narrow shoulders rather than a smaller size with some added pleats. I adjusted the shoulder, the depth of the armhole and the width of the sleeve and was pleasantly surprised to find that the new and amended sleeve still fitted against the new and amended body. I was so pleased that I let him have a pocket – if I have a repeat laundry offence I can always sew it shut. The shirt has a contrast inner yoke, collar stand and under collar just to use up the last of the grey from previous shirts and seeing as I had to buy buttons anyway I bought coloured ones.

I also made the handkerchief, the one in the shirt pocket is a traditional square but the other one I made was a rectangle because it made better use of the fabric. If you’re going to be using it then bigger is better and why be bound to the convention of shape when you’ve taken the elephant option? My son is sneezing his way through tree pollen season and however many tissues I send him to school with it isn’t enough. I checked the school uniform policy and there is nothing in there regarding handkerchiefs with or without elephants. I thought a novelty handkerchief might actually get used and it’s looking like that is the case. I don’t think that I’ve ever sewn a rolled hem before, it was quite relaxing and not the chore that I was expecting it to be.

That’s it from me for today, the bread is creeping towards the top of the tins and it’s time to reassemble the coffee machine and test that it still works. My to do list calls.



Much March haring about

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, sweaters on April 16th, 2015

March was a mad month, we had so much going throughout every week with the weekends providing double helpings of overloaded. The last two weeks of term were the worst with concerts here, there and everywhere. Somehow we got through to the end of it, celebrated a fifteenth birthday and relaxed into the Easter holidays. For anyone wanting to make a massive cake of their own, it’s this one but my advice would be to scale it down to three quarters of the size as you can see that it was just on the verge of being taller than the plate you would eat it from. The recipe says that it serves twelve, I’m not sure any of us could have managed a slice that size and I had a lot more slices out of it than that. Fortunately it stayed nice and moist all the way to the end which was six days rather that the three days they suggest that it is good for.

So much time has passed that the strip of knitting from last time is well on the way to becoming a cardigan. This piece is the back and fronts up to the division for the sleeves and one of the fronts. It’s Highlander in some Ethical Twist that was on sale at Kemps a few years ago. It is 30% alpaca but it is not making my eyes itch for which I am very grateful. The easiest part of the pattern has been the cable, the tartan part kept tripping me up. It is simple enough, little blocks of seed stitch and stockinette. What was throwing me was the vertical line that runs between the blocks, one of them ends at the garter rows at the end of a big block and one carries on through it. Half of the time the first row of the pattern is on the wrong side, so I would turn to the right side only to find that I’d gone wrong on the previous row. When I finally got a grip and worked out what I should have been doing (top tip – if it’s in between STOckinette it STOps) I found several mistakes four inches down. I am hoping that I’ve done all my learning now and that the sleeves will be straightforward.

In the time I’ve been away from the blog I’ve finished two shirts and am on with a third. This is Kwik Sew 3883 again, the last two shirts that I made were white but I thought I was ready for the challenge of stripes. I made the long sleeved one first from a three metre length that I bought via ebay and there was so much fabric left over that I managed to squeeze a short sleeved one out as well. I have sorted out my problems with the collars now, I wasn’t happy with the two on the white shirts because they were a bit floppy but now that I have the right interfacing I have the right collar. My second pair of cuffs had the same issue as the first pair in that the under cuff was too long for the outer cuff despite me paying attention the second time around. It appears that this is something that isn’t going to fix itself and it’s something that I’m going to be looking at fixing with shirt five. I have just enough buttons for shirt five, the fifty I bought when I started didn’t go as far as I thought they would.

 



The Spring clear out

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, sweaters on March 19th, 2015

My days are flying by, I’m so busy that sooner or later I will meet myself coming in the door. I amuse myself whilst racing about by having the “Mission Impossible” soundtrack running in my head and most days it would be impossible to achieve everything that’s on my list. Some things are time sensitive and they are the ones that get done. The more flexible ones (such as “write blog post”) are the ones that keep on rolling over to the next day and then into the next week. I’ve ditched all plans to comb and spin the grey sweater, it is officially sidelined until next winter. That’s not a problem as the weather has started to warm up and we’ve had a few days that could optimistically be described as “Springlike”. Having got that out of the way I made myself find time to dust off the knitting that’s been waiting months for me to get to ten minutes finishing work with the promise that I could then start something new.

This was a September start, it’s been waiting many months for me to unzip the provisional cast on, pick up and knit one row and then cast off. It also needed a collar and the sleeve seams sewing up but as it is a little sweater they were little jobs. The pattern is Ulina, I’ve knitted it before and I’ll no doubt knit it again as it’s entertaining to knit and lends itself well to stripes which is a major consideration for those of us trying to use up sock yarn leftovers. This time I wasn’t using leftovers, I made the yarn with this pattern in mind. I had a braid of superwash wool that had been dyed in a rainbow, I split it lengthways into four to make two matching skeins of two ply yarn. The black stripes were a necessity because I was sure that I wouldn’t have enough rainbow yarn to knit the whole thing, the wider stripes in the body were my insurance in case I had to switch to wider stripes at the end of the sleeves (it’s knitted from the centre back and edges inwards, finishing at the cuffs). The buttons weren’t quite what I’d planned but they were the best that the button tin had to offer.

This has been another lingering project, again it had been waiting months for four rows at the front and a few rows at the neck edge, I’d already joined the sleeve seams and worked in all the ends. This is Drops B14-27 yet again, this pattern fulfils all my requirements for tv knitting (I can even manage to keep up with subtitles while knitting) and it uses leftover sock yarn so there’s no wonder that I keep on knitting it. The only reason that I don’t have a storage issue with the finished item is that I keep selling a couple so they aren’t piling up. I use a provisional cast on for the new sleeve stitches just so I can finish the sleeve with a three needle cast off and avoid sewing it together. I’ve been looking at the bag of leftover sock yarn and I suspect that there may be one or two more of these coming up in the near future.

After I’d finished the final child sock I had no knitting at all so I pulled a few balls of yarn out of the sock yarn scrap bag and went looking for a pattern. This is Drops B13-12 except that I’ve ignored the directions for knitting the stripes. It felt vaguely familiar and that’s because it’s the same shape as the Drops B19-3 that I knitted in 2012, there will be buttons along the raglan of this one in due course. It amazes me to see a whole something emerge from a pile of nothing, I had a bag of small balls of this and that and out of it is coming a sweater. The advantage of using lots of different yarns is that by the time you’ve knitted one stripe from each there is no appreciable reduction in the yarn remaining. That might actually be a disadvantage, I’m not sure about that yet. I suspect that I have enough yarn for two more of these before I have to hunt out more scraps. I’m not sure that I want to knit two more of these, I’ll know when I’ve finished this one. I know that another time I’ll be sticking to a set pattern on the stripes because the freeform six or seven or eight row dark and two or four row light is making my teeth itch. It seemed like a good idea at the time and I’m sure that it’s building character but no, no, no.

That was a holding project while I got to grips with sizing a cardigan pattern for my mother. I had the yarn from the failed cardigan attempt before Christmas but it’s taken me weeks to find the time and needles to knit a swatch. I knitted two, the first one felt right but was twenty two stitches to four inches rather than the twenty stitches the new pattern needed. The second swatch felt wrong, I didn’t even measure that one because it was too loose and floppy to be wearable. I went with the first swatch and decided to rejig the pattern once the swatch was dry and I knew what the tension really was. I was lucky, it’s an alpaca blend and it relaxed to the twenty stitches the pattern needed. There’s a lesson in there for someone, I’ve learned that one the hard way. I’m still not totally convinced about this, by next time I’ll have decided whether it has a future or not. If I leave posting as long as I did last time it might have sleeves by then as well as a future.

 

 

 



Finished, maybe finished and nearly finished

Posted by Caroline in Bohusish, Knitting, socks on February 27th, 2015

I’ve done a little bit of combing and a little bit of spinning but not enough of either to start on the plying-knitting part of the process so the sweater will be waiting another week before it can show some progress. At least I found the bag that had the sweater in it, I was heading towards a crisis when I realised that I didn’t have a clue where I’d stashed it over Christmas. I looked in several likely places before starting on the unlikely ones, fortunately I didn’t get all the way across the spectrum from “concern” to “panic” before I found it.

My new gloves have been out and about at least twice a day on dog walking duty so they are now much more fuzzy than in this photo. They are soft and warm and I like them. I could have done a better job of the fit, I used a glove pattern calculator and I must like my gloves to be a closer fit than the average person. The fingers are right and the thumbs are in the right place but the cuff could have done with a few stitches less. The stripe in the cuff isn’t obvious when I’m wearing my coat but it should make finding a dropped glove easier. If I had to dream up a name for the colourway then  ”lichen on pavement” would just about nail it. The yarn is the soft merino/angora, merino/camel leftover from my Wild Apple hat, the pattern on the gloves is part of the hat pattern. I still have some little balls of yarn left and I’m thinking about getting some more of the merino/camel and making another hat and glove set. (If there is anyone who wants the story of the hat, it’s all under the category of Bohusish)

I rattled off another pair of child socks, these may or may not be finished depending on whether I feel like adding a bit of embellishment with some swiss darning. The yarn was a leftover part ball that was originally light green, as it stood it was not really bold enough for teen feet. I dyed it to be self striping and matching and it would have been if one sock hadn’t had one more stitch in it than the other. I could have ripped it all the way back to the end of the gusset decreases but he’ll not mind that they don’t match and I’m trying hard not to let it bother me. When they are released into the wild they may be worn paired with a red sock or an orange one so there will be nothing to match anyway.

I had hoped to have caught up with the pile of finishing, I’m closer than I was but I’m not there yet. This little cardigan has been on the needles since November. For the last two months it’s been waiting for a whole eight rows on the buttonhole band and four rows on the neck. I was tidying up and found the pattern so it seemed like a good idea to finish the jacket before I threw the pattern away. It’s blocking and needs the buttons sewing on but I’m so close now that I think I might manage that without another two month pause. I still have another little cardigan and that one has been on the go since September. I think all that needs is an edging. It’s clear that I’m missing my Saturday morning finishing session, otherwise known as music school. Dan is now in two groups which would make for a long morning of waiting about so I drop him off and pick him up later. I previously had an hour and a half sitting in a school canteen which was an ideal time for finishing because I had nothing else to do other than work on whatever boring thing I’d taken with me and drink tea. When I’m at home I can usually find something else to do and avoid sewing up and dealing with ends.

I’m not going to promise to show two finished baby cardigans next time, that would only lead to an even longer than normal gap between posts. Finishing is not my one of my strong points.