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.

 



Keep it simple, my brain hurts

Posted by Caroline in Family, Knitting, socks on February 16th, 2015

It was half term here last week, I seemed to spend all of it either running around or waiting in for contractors. I spent half a day looking for the part of the hob that had vanished after I took it apart to clean, it turned up eventually stuck to the bottom of a baking sheet that I’d been using for bread. I’d already picked through the kitchen bin and the recycling bin just in case I’d thrown it away even though I knew that I couldn’t possibly have done that. After the baffling episode of the vanishing burner plate I will be glad to be getting back to a nice uneventful life this week. Last week was crying out for mindless garter stitch on big needles but unfortunately I didn’t have time to find the wool, needles or motivation so I settled for simple round and round knitting. These are destined to be birthday socks, they have the added advantage of using leftover yarn that I hadn’t got around to putting away. I was hoping not to have any left that needed putting away but the coloured yarn will live to see a third pair of socks, there’s not a lot left but it will make a stripe. I’m well on with the second sock, apparently I knit really quickly as a means of coping with hammering and brick dust.

This was the cause of the noise and dust, last week the gas fire came out and the dog baker went in complete with new hearth and mantel. We still need a dedicated baking sheet (aka hearth rug) but I’m concerned that sometimes the word “wool” seems to be a substitute for “some sort of textile, it doesn’t matter what”. I want proper wool that started with a sheep because wool doesn’t burn. Yes, I could make one but I’ve got sweaters to make and a never ending tea towel warp on the loom and there are only so many hours in the day. As an aside, you can have a dog baker even if you live in a smokeless zone, you have to have one of the DEFRA exempt ones but there seems to be a large selection of those. It’s an improvement on the hanging gas fire that we had before although the in between stage left a lot to be desired.

I’m hoping that this week I manage to get to some wool combing so that I can get my sweater finished this side of Spring. I’ll be honest and say that I’m not entirely sure where I stashed it over Christmas but I know several places where it isn’t. I know it’s in the house somewhere which is exactly what I said about the missing hob part but at least I can be certain that the sweater hasn’t found its way into the recycling.

I have new gloves – they’ll be in the next post unless of course I comb a pile of wool, spin it, ply it and race away with the sweater. My money is on the gloves.

 

 



Look, more snow

Posted by Caroline in Bohusish, Family, Knitting on February 3rd, 2015

The weather keeps on trying to be seasonally appropriate, school has been closed due to snow twice in the last two weeks. The weather forecast for the week ahead indicates that junior might manage five days this week and the weather can do what it likes next week because it’s half term. Next week I can shovel using child labour and we’ll have a four wheel drive car as well as one with snow tyres. It has been cold and I’ve been feeling the need for a new pair of gloves to go with my dog walking hat. I keep making gloves but they have never come up to the standard of my favourite pair that is now sadly a single. Now that I’ve tried it on for this photo I find that it wasn’t as good a fit as I remember it, either that or my fingers have lengthened which seems unlikely. It is however just as warm and snuggly as I remember, the yarn was handspun merino and camel so was both soft and warm. They were useless for snow shovelling because the snow clumped to the camel but how many days a year do I shovel snow anyway? (answer – too many). The one thing I didn’t like about them was that blue frankenfinger and as luck would have it the glove that I didn’t lose is the one that I didn’t like. I’ve kept the single glove in the hope that the other turns up, I’m pretty sure that it won’t because I’ve cleared out the porch looking for it and we’ve changed both cars since it disappeared but I can still hope.

It may be that I end up with frankenfingers on this pair too. The one on the last pair was due to the random colour changes in the yarn, with this pair it would be the result of plain old running out of yarn. The yarn I’m using is the leftovers from my Wild Apple hat so all that I have is what’s in the bag. I think that there will be enough of the brown to make all of the fingers but that’s down to the stripe on the cuff and the pattern on the palm – without them there wouldn’t have been enough of the main colour. I’ve not got a huge amount of any of the contrast colours either which is why I’m knitting both gloves at the same time. I’ve found the centre of each ball and made a knot in it, then rewound the yarn into a centre pull ball. If I hit the knot then it’s time to back up to the start of the round and make a colour change. So far it’s all going well and I’m not that far from the top of the thumb gusset so it won’t be long before I’m back to one colour knitting. Once I’ve made one finger I’ll have an idea of whether I have enough yarn to knit all the others.

I made a chalkboard door from half of the tin of paint I showed last time, this one happens to be a blackboard but you can get the paint in different colours. Despite sanding the door first there is one place where the paint has pulled off, seeing as this is a kitchen to garage door I suspect that it’s had a drip of oil down it at some time which my inadequate sanding didn’t shift. I’ll leave it for a month or so to see if any more comes off and then I’ll sand the offending spot and repaint it.



Holiday souvenirs

Posted by Caroline in Family, Knitting on January 27th, 2015

A quick look at the camera card reveals that we had a weekend away. The dog was exhausted by Sunday night after he had been faced with a non stop parade of squirrels, moorhens and ducks with the occasional swan thrown in for good measure. If you click on the photo you can see the squirrel with its offensive tufty tail to the left of the central tree, I could probably have pointed the camera at a window at random and had a squirrel in shot. You can see that the new sock went with us and I suppose that it is possible that it was really a pair with the other one worn on another day. I’m doubtful but until I start hanging socks to dry I can’t prove that he’s not been wearing both of them. I’m sure I’d be happier if I started making single socks rather than matched pairs but the last time I suggested this as an option it was shot down as being totally unacceptable.

I finished another Wild Iris (on the left), this one is in Apple Laine Apple Pie sock yarn (65% wool, 20%  mohair, 10% nylon, 5% silk). I left the button off this time because I found that the lack of a button (and therefore no designated “front”) makes it easier to fling on and as this is for me I can guarantee that flinging will be the order of the day. The yarn was not originally this colour, it may possibly have been “Arizona”, but I was planning on using stash beads and the yarn as it stood went with none of the beads I had. I went on to make another mobius with some pale green Kidsilk Aura that I picked up at a church fete last summer. I weighed it carefully and aimed to use up all of the second ball but the ball ran out with inches of beaded picot bind off still to go. Luckily I had four balls to play with so it wasn’t the end of the world. You may detect some proper photography at work here courtesy of my husband who was testing his lighting prior to photographing more interesting subjects.

I’m still failing with big knitting, I’ve swatched for two cardigans for my mother and failed to start either. One was derailed by the pattern of many errors and the second was doomed by me trying to use a bad choice of contrast yarn. I spent three days trying to convince myself that the two yarns made a harmonious pair when it was blindingly obvious to even non-knitters that the union had nothing going for it. My sweater is waiting for me to comb more wool and that’s on hold until I’ve finished the bit of painting in the kitchen because the last thing I want is dust on fresh paint. I’m done with mobius knitting for now (I have another to show that needs the ends sewing in) and everyone seems to have enough socks so I feel rather at a loose end. No doubt the right project will come along, until it does I suppose I could always get on with finishing those two baby jackets that I’ve been resolutely ignoring.

I have had a few days where I’ve been busy but had nothing to show for it when I sit down at the end of the day. I’ve been comparing exam boards for music exams, researching log storage, chalk board options and catching up with the mountain of laundry that we generate on a weekend away. It’s all necessary and time well spent but I’m left with nothing tangible. It means that I berate myself for doing nothing at all before realising that my “nothing” included three hours in the car, filling the freezer with food and the wardrobes with clothes. I decided that today I would spend some time making something visible and permanent. Where we were stopping at the weekend had a chalkboard wall next to the kitchen and we all had fun with that so I thought that we’d have one at home. My hint for the day is to have plenty of cloths because it turns out that this paint is very, very runny as well as being very, very black. Even if you are usually a mess free painter you may find that you’ve dripped it on the floor and flicked it down the kitchen cabinets and the opposing wall. Not that I did that of course, not that anyone can prove anyway.



Well hello 2015

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Family, Knitting, lace, socks on January 11th, 2015

I’ll say that I’ve been away because of Christmas, there were other reasons but let’s blame the season as it’s easier to point the finger at the festive time suck rather than anything else. Everything I was making was finished, although one thing wasn’t done in time to meet a present exchange. It was finished and wrapped for Christmas Eve though so I’m counting it as done. It would be appropriate to do a big reveal at this point except that I don’t have photos of everything I made. The socks I made have been through the wash and are no longer a pair but seeing as they are plain black when in shoes the one remaining sock will match all of the others that are black above the heel. The other is in the house somewhere and sooner or later the two will be reunited.

Earlier this year I dyed a jacket and replaced the buttons, he’s worn this so many times now that I wouldn’t mind if he never wore it again. He’s worn it with a T shirt and trainers, he’s worn it with a shirt and tie. At some point it will no longer fit him because he’s fourteen and still growing. I found another charity shop grey wool jacket, dyed it green and bought it new buttons. This one is a little larger and will last a little longer. I prefer the purple one, it was much lighter to start with which meant that it was a brighter colour after dyeing. Finding a jacket that is the right size, wool and a light colour is not all that easy so I bought the grey even though I knew it wasn’t going to give me the bright green I would have liked.

I liked this cowl so much that I’ve cast on for another for me. This is Wild Iris by Silvia Harding. It’s a moebius cast on followed by evenings of round and round tv knitting and a beaded edging to finish with. The pattern includes mitts as well but I wasn’t convinced that I had enough of the yarn to make those so I didn’t try. I spun the yarn in 2011 from a Juliespins Rambouillet braid (details here), there would have been plenty but I’ve already made a beaded something from it back in May. Fortunately I had some of the beads left over as well, the beaded edging only goes half way around the cowl so it needs fewer beads than you might think. I will confess that this was finished so close to deadline that it had to have a swift steam blocking over the ironing board.

I have had a longstanding love/hate relationship with our coffee machine, there’s something that I don’t do right and whatever it is I’ve been doing it that way for the last eight years. My husband makes espresso and it’s fantastic, whereas mine tastes of failure and despondency. The two variables are the amount of coffee that goes in the holder and how much you tamp it down. I’ve stood and watched him make coffee time and time again and although I think I’m doing exactly the same thing it’s obvious by the results that I’m not. I’ve been looking at domestic beans-to-cup coffee machines every Christmas and each year they are a little smaller and a little cheaper. This was the year when a machine that would fit in the space we have was less than £200 in the January sales so I bought one. Beans go in the top, water goes in the side and then all you do is press a button. There is no skill involved in pressing a button so after eight years of muttering and occasional finger pinching I can now have coffee whenever I want. There has been a lot of button pressing going on, so much so that I’m now buying beans a kilo at a time.

I like to have a fresh start to January, I threw away the to do list but I failed to complete everything that I had on the needles. I’m still looking at two baby jackets that maybe need an hour’s work between them, it feels more like finishing than knitting so it’s just not happening at the moment. I hope to start up the combing-spinning-knitting cycle and get my new grey sweater finished before the end of the season for wearing it. I’m certain that the first thing to be finished this year will be the cowl because little pretty things get my attention every time.

 

 



Seasonal stuff

Posted by Caroline in Knitting on December 13th, 2014

I returned to add the photos to the blog post that I’d written earlier in the week only to find that my words had vanished without trace. I’m not entirely sure what I wrote the first time round but it must have included mittens, slippers and a Christmas tree because those are the photos that I took to go with the text that isn’t here.

The wheel came down, the loom moved to where the wheel was and the tree went in the loom-shaped gap. This year the dog was chanelling his forest-dwelling ancestry before we’d got as far as untangling the lights. The tree skirt is his new favourite place for hiding treats although it makes such a fantastic hiding place that he can’t find them again afterwards. I made that tree skirt as a temporary measure until I got on with making the real one but for some reason I never find the time to make it once the tree has gone up and then once it’s come down I don’t know how big the skirt needs to be to cover the tree stand. This year I am planning ahead and I’ve measured the length of the legs (36″ across) so that I can make a new tree skirt at my leisure.

The mittens are for my mother to give to my aunt. They were straightforward enough to knit with no setbacks or calamities, they are finished, washed, dried and ready for wrapping. The original pattern was Anemoi, it came with a blank template on which you can chart your own design. I’ve made two pairs of these for my aunt for previous Christmas presents so I know that they will fit. This is a pairing of a 50g ball of black sock yarn and the three ply handspun that I made in July. There’s a huge amount of the handspun left because mittens are such small things to knit but I don’t care. It looks lovely with the black and I like the way that the colours drift across the stranded pattern. There was a big chunk of the black left too but that’s already past the heel on a pair of socks, if I get a move on there’s still a chance that I can be wrapping those for this Christmas. That leaves me with three other festive projects which all have to stay under wraps for the moment.

I did have a setback with the new cardigan. I sat with the pattern schematic and a calculator to work out what I needed to do to raise the neckline. When I first saw the pattern I thought that I’d just set off and sort it out when I got up to the neck but I hadn’t realised that it’s worked top down so I have the opportunity to get it wrong right from the start. I came up with a new cast on figure and revised shaping and then set it aside to get on with the important job of finishing the mittens. It was as well that I did because a day or two later I had an email with pattern errata and it turns out that the measurements of the neckline in the schematic were wrong, a whole five inches of wrong. I’m telling myself that it should be much easier to do this for the second time because I know how the shaping works but it feels like a chore. I’m seriously considering option B which is to start at the bottom and work upwards so I can leave the neckline until last. I want to be knitting not to be working out how to extend a yoke without messing up the pattern.

I’ve finally called time on these slippers. I was looking for the slipper lasts to make a pair of wet felted slippers and found them inside the slippers I made five years ago. They were too big then and not surprisingly, they are still too big. I put them through the wash at sixty – still too big. I sliced them to the toe, cut out a wide chunk and then sewed them back together again – still too big. I have now officially given up with these and binned them. I’m still thinking about using the slipper lasts to make a felted pair but again I’m a bit short on time at the moment.

My only knitting is a pair of socks, currently in the plain black stage (we could quibble over whether finishing counts as knitting. My blog, my rules, finishing is not knitting so therefore I have no other knitting). I must be mad, knitting with black yarn in December when it’s dark in the early afternoon and if it’s raining it’s effectively dark all day. If I got on with number crunching I could be knitting in a nice light green yarn, easy to see at any time of year. I’m not convincing myself at all.

 



All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, Non-fibre, socks on November 21st, 2014

In the eight years since I started this blog I’ve never been away from it for a month. You might have guessed that Something Has Been Going On. I have been dealing with something big and dramatic (it’s ok, no-one died) and there were only so many other things I could keep on top of. I managed to keep up with meals, walkies, laundry and breadmaking but talking about wool was so far down my list of things to make and do that it fell off the bottom.

We’re about back to normal now, or at least back to what passes for normal around these parts. I can’t face a mammoth catch up so I’ll skim through the camera card and declare myself to be up to date.

I buy my pumpkins well ahead of time because I know full well that if you leave it until the last minute you get to choose from the ones that everyone else passed over. I buy the treats ahead of time for the same reason and those two things meant that Halloween still happened despite me having a crisis to manage. We would have done better had we had some carving tools, as it was we just about managed with a paring knife.  This is the first time either of use have done anything other than make shaped holes and taking the skin off and leaving the flesh was not that easy. This is the exceptional hat from the game Fallen London, sometime back in July I created a character to see what it was that people were talking about and I’ve played every day since. I already have plans for next year’s pumpkin but I think we’ll need a tool upgrade before then.

I finished knitting a pair of socks, when I reached the second toe I had no more knitting to fall back on. I had about a week with nothing to knit because I couldn’t manage to get my thoughts together to match yarn, pattern and needles.  I know that I have a sweater waiting in a bag but I’m out of yarn now and if I can’t get in gear to knit there’s no hope for combing and spinning. When life settled down enough I took the easy option of knitting something that I’ve knitted before. This is the DROPS sideways short row garter jacket that I’ve knitted so often that it ought to have its own category. This uses three balls of leftover sock yarn that I fished out of the downstairs wool basket. It’s past the centre back now so I know that there will be enough yarn to finish it without resorting to random colour changes. I do not care that I’ve knitted it before, it’s nice soothing pattern-free knitting and I’ve sold all the others so I don’t feel bad about knitting another of them.

Somehow the calendar managed to jump straight from the end of October to nearly the end of November. This is the fruit for the Christmas cake, this year we’re trying something new and soaking the fruit before baking. A quick internet search found a big variation in technique, some recipes use a sugar syrup with a few tablespoons of brandy in it, some just tip the brandy bottle over the fruit. We went for the simpler option. I think this means that the cake will have all the fruit at the bottom but I’m pretty sure that it won’t be dry.

 



Round and round

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, sweaters, Wensleysweater 1 on October 20th, 2014

I’m still knitting round and round and round. As a result I am now bored as a bored thing that’s very, very bored. Cabled or not, this is not proving to be an engaging knit and is bearable only as tv knitting. The rounds are long and I can knit for hours and see no progress. I know that I must be gaining on it but having the back and front together means that now it is growing at half the rate that it was when I was working on the back alone. This is the end of the first ball, I have a part ball that I used for the front and one full ball and I think this means I have at least another week’s knitting before I have to start spinning again. It fits, being a suspicious knitter I tried it on immediately after joining the front and back and again at this point. No doubt I’ll be trying it on every few inches, it would be a shame not to given that the advantage of knitting top down is that you can try it on as you go.

The thing to do when faced with the prospect of weeks of boring knitting is to avoid it altogether and find something else to do. That may not be your solution but it works for me. I don’t have any problems rationalising starting a pair of socks because although the sweater is simple enough for out and about knitting it is now far too big to go into my handbag. We’ve reached the time of year where I need to think ahead with photographs so that I take advantage of natural light when there is some. Today I didn’t so this is a blurry photo of a sock that’s not entirely the right colour.

There is no excuse for starting another sweater before I get as far as the sleeves on this one but my rationalisation is that I’m not actually starting a sweater, I’m just planning one. Looking at wool does not count. This blurry photo has a skein of handspun Portland on the left and a skein of commercial yarn on the right. I have enough of each to make a plain sweater but not enough of either to dye part and make a stranded sweater. If I can make the two yarns work together then there will be plenty to dye one batch (or both) and knit what’s in my mind. The challenge is that the handspun hasn’t been finished, once it sees water it will bloom. If I’m lucky it will fluff up so that it looks like the commercial yarn, if I’m unlucky then it will be super fluffy and significantly chunkier than the other yarn. I’ve spent a day looking at it but there is no alternative – I’m going to have to finish the handspun or at least enough of it to knit a swatch. I always intended  to dye the Portland, I couldn’t see the point of finishing it to store it and then dye it at some point in the future. It’s more efficient to finish the yarn in the dye bath and only have one drying cycle.

I may also be planning a rug but I can’t find any way to present that and say that it doesn’t count so I’ll just pretend that my sketches and calculations are for fun.

 



Swatch, swatch, sweater

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sweaters, Wensleysweater 1 on October 6th, 2014

The bright little jacket is off the needles, it needs the sleeve seams sewing up, a bit of edging, a collar and some buttons. It’s not a big job but not one that I feel like doing just now. The next small knitting is going to be socks, they are not black this time because I think I’m past the time of year where black is a sensible option. The next pair will have a pattern and that is what is holding them back. The first few rows are going to be tricky because I need to establish the pattern and as a result I have made zero progress over the last few nights. I’ve cast on, managed one round and that’s as far as I got. I’m not without knitting though because I’ve started a sweater.

It’s not a big swatch but it’s much bigger than the one on the right, that’s the one that I made before starting Celtic Dreams. The 5mm needle I started with at the bottom was too big, the 4.5mm looked to be what I wanted and the moss stitch at the top is because that’s what the tension for the pattern is measured over. I washed it, dried it overnight and measured it and it’s coming out at nine stitches to two inches. That is good because it happens to be the right tension for the pattern that’s been sitting at number two in my Ravelry queue for months. If I’d gone with the four ply rather than the three ply I might have got it right for the number one pattern, when I find the four ply sample that I made I’ll be able to check that.

My usual backdrop for photos is the settee but I’ll have to change that as the Wensleydale matches it too well. When I started writing this post this little bit of knitting was all I had, I wasn’t sure whether the yarn would be too fuzzy and dark to show cables so this was a saddle-as-swatch. If it didn’t work out then it was no more work than any other cabled swatch and if it did work then I could just carry on knitting. My usual option of sleeves-as-swatch wasn’t a runner this time as the sleeves are knitted down from the shoulder. My verdict was “it will do”, the cables would be better defined if the yarn was lighter and smoother but that’s not the yarn that I have. I could possibly aim for smoother but there’s absolutely nothing at all I can do about making it lighter.

This post has been a week in the writing (it’s been rather like the socks in that a lack of progress at the start held the whole thing up) and that little bit of knitting became first a saddle and then part of the back. This is not going to be a fast knit, I managed to make yarn that’s not wiry which is good, but it’s not springy and it tires my hands in the same way as knitting cotton does. The cable that has been causing me problems is the wide one in the middle, it was the turn on the outside edge that was catching me out. The rest of it is easy tv knitting but I have to pay attention to that section, I seem to want to turn the corner and bring the cable back towards the middle too early. I’ve picked up from the saddles and am working down the back, when it’s long enough I’ll pick up from the saddles and work for an equivalent length down the front and then the front and back are joined and worked in the round.

It’s coming up to the end of GBBO, as in previous years I see things that I’ve never made but would like to try. I made doughnuts the other week (no photos because they were eaten so quickly) and this week I made my first danish pastries. They were not as difficult as I thought they would be, I’ve made croissants before and the laminating steps are the same. There may be more of these in the future because I want to try out different shapes and fillings. I meant to take a baked photo but forgot all about it and now they’ve gone to work with my husband to be eaten. Not all of the tails stayed tucked underneath, some escaped and unwound slightly which is something that I need to work on next time as well as the photography.