Posted by Caroline in Knitting on December 6th, 2013
I thought that I was going to be so short of something to write about this week that I would have to resort to photos of cute dogs. It was going to be that or showing you under my sink but I knuckled down last night and worked out the yoke decreases so that I could start (or finish) the cream baby jacket that’s been on the needles for weeks. I’m overlaying the lace part on another pattern and the original decreases wouldn’t have worked with an eight row pattern repeat. It took me less than two minutes to work out and I’ve been putting it off for weeks. Knitting came to a crashing stop last night when I realised that it was time to start the buttonholes and I hadn’t so I have to drop a couple of stitches down to make a hole in the button band level with the holes in the body. This should race along now, I’m decreasing every eight rows and the neckline is in sight. It’s also the only knitting that I have so the lack of competition should ensure a fast finish.
I’ve looked around and that’s all I have to show for my week, the time I’ve spent on threading the loom has produced remarkably uninteresting results and I’m still not half way across. I’m hoping that I manage to hit the halfway mark later today and then I can convince myself that it’s all downhill from there. I’ve lost two days from this week, Monday was given over to unpacking and laundry after a weekend away and Tuesday saw the return of the plumber. I had to clear out the cupboard under the sink and then put it all back again and I’m left wondering why it is that I have two tins of Brasso and two tins of silver polish when I don’t have anything to polish. You might think that you could be able to infer something about a life from the cleaning products under my sink but I’m not sure whose life that would be, not mine at any rate.
Seriously – I have nothing this week, so have this morning’s dog shot. The blue is surplus PE kit, today’s lesson is inside so he didn’t need the hoodie but the dog apparently did.
Posted by Caroline in Knitting, Weaving on November 28th, 2013
I was trying to work out how it is that I’ve been knitting these gloves for a week without them being finished yet and then I realised that although I’ve been knitting gloves for all of that time they’ve not all been these particular gloves. Last week I needed some round and round knitting to take my mind off things, I decided on gloves because my hands are cold in the mornings, found some suitable yarn (Apple Laine Apple Pie in Godiva) and needles and cast on. That is of course where it all went wrong because scarves and dish clothes are more suited to thoughtless knitting than gloves are. Scarves can be just about any size but gloves need to be sized to fit the hand that wears them. I knitted 3″ of cuff before accepting that the glove was going to be way too big and I ripped it back. I cast on again with fewer stitches but still no consideration as to tension and hand size so it wasn’t that surprising that when I tried on version two it was still somewhat generous in size. Some knitters may have concluded that it was too big but I convinced myself that it was nothing that a bowl of hot water wouldn’t cure so I could keep on knitting. The next morning I started the second glove because again I needed a distraction although I didn’t get very far because I was sitting in the car and my hands were so cold that I couldn’t hold the needles. When I came to start the fingers I was passed the stage of needing soothing knitting and I had plenty of time to think so I took a note of what my stitches per inch actually was, measured my hand, ripped both gloves out and started for the third time. I regret nothing.
These are the keepers, I’ve lost track of how many fingers I’ve knitted but it’s several more than there are now, I’ve shortened some, narrowed others and generally fiddled with them in an attempt to create the perfect dog walking glove. I am currently short of a pinkie and two thumbs so they should be finished for tomorrow morning’s walk. They never will be perfect – dog walking gloves should not be leaf coloured so that you have a fighting chance of finding one if you drop it. I’ve been knitting these now for long enough that I’ll settle for them being finished rather than perfect. It is time to move on.
I had a few hiccups with this warp. I wound it back in October and fortunately made a full page of notes that told me how many ends I needed, how many I’d wound in each bout and what I intended to do with it. I’ve had too much on my mind to think about weaving so the wound warp has been sitting in a bag until the magic time of “after Thursday”. When I came to get it out I found that somehow I had only half of the number of ends that I needed. That’s a big mistake, even for me, and I couldn’t work out what was wrong. It came to me eventually that I’d wound the warp with a cross at both ends intending to cut it in half but I’d packed it away without cutting it. By the time I’d worked this out I’d come up with plan B which was a different design altogether and worked better with the narrower fabric that I thought I’d be making. I’m quite sad to see plan B go so that might be coming up next. This is a four yard warp, it should fly once I get moving on it but at the moment it is having to compete with the backlog of other things that also have been waiting until “after Thursday”. It’s time will come but at my current rate of threading that won’t be much before this time next week. I will confess that this is the prettiest shot I could find, the other side is a mess of masking tape that’s keeping all the ends in order.
Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks on November 20th, 2013
This is the end of my current round and round knitting, it’s all I’ve been good for this week because I’ve been too busy fretting about real life to have any time left over for thinking about anything else. These are husband socks, I had thought to aim them at my son but it seems that his feet are now too big for my standard 72 stitch sock. He either needs a heel worked over more than half of the stitches or simply more stitches because when he came to try it on it was straining over the instep and as I was already at the toe it was easier to give them to someone with smaller feet. The baby jacket is sidelined because it is at the point where I should be uniting the sleeves with the body and starting on the yoke. This needs me to calculate the yoke decreases so that they work with the pattern I’m using and that won’t be happening until next week. There’s a lot of things on hold until the magic time of “after Thursday” and all knitting that needs any thought will be happening after then. My Christmas shopping also starts after Thursday as does preparing for a weekend away and threading the loom.
I’ll leave you with a quick trip down memory lane as that needs one photo and no thinking. I believe this to be the oldest thing that I’ve knitted that is still being worn. You can see that it is a product of my early knitting because it’s in the same colour as the pattern and more than likely I made it in the recommended yarn too. I remember that it took a lot of balls of yarn and that’s because it was sold in 20g balls. Looking back, that seems very strange, it was just a plain old double knit so anything smaller than a 50g ball would be very odd now. I suppose the fact that there is a pattern and I stuck to it also marks it as being not that recent. I knitted this bed jacket for my mother somewhere around 1980, it might have been slightly earlier but it can’t have been much later. Even though I made it thirty years ago I still remember the horror that I felt when I came to wrap it up and saw that I’d made a mistake in the pattern, before I got it out to take this photo I knew that it would be on the collar on the right as I looked at it. I could see myself frozen in the act of wrapping, poking at the unwanted yarnover and trying to convince myself that it would be fine to just leave it. It wasn’t as if I had any other option, it was a Christmas gift and I didn’t have the time to fix it properly or the experience to fix it quickly so I left it and needless to say it has bugged me to this day. The yarnover is still in the wrong place but the more mature me thinks that it’s not all that noticeable and it is certainly not the glaring mistake that I remembered it to be. It’s taken me a while to reach acceptance but here it is at last.
There seems to be some sort of lesson there about avoiding perfectionism, not getting hung up on small things and living with “good enough will do” but no, it’s just slipped away from me.
Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, Spinning on November 13th, 2013
I’m feeling virtuous because there is no new Christmas stocking on the needles. This would be a totally frivolous knit as I’ve already got two spare stockings but I’ve still needed a lot of talking out of it. If I can hold my resolve for long enough then the fancy will pass and I’ll have seen something else that I must knit right now this minute so it’s just a case of keeping on holding on. As you can see I did finish Faberge, the ends aren’t sewn in because I don’t think that it’s going to be a keeper (I can’t wear things with ends hanging out and that’s how I can be sure that I have never worn them when it comes to getting rid of them). It turned out exactly as I wanted, a small something to fill in at the top of my two sweaters that have a big gaping neckline and it does do that I suppose but it’s not what I’m after. When tucked in it’s just plain odd looking and if I leave it floating about there’s too much of it. The textured eyelets turned out to be the same ones as in the baby jacket which came as a surprise seeing as I’d not read ahead in the pattern or knitted the recommended swatch. I can see why people get caught out with it being small, the cast on is some 480 stitches which sound like a decent sized shawl but a lot of those stitches are eliminated at the top of the rib to make it form pleats. Suddenly it becomes a much smaller triangle than you might have been expecting.
I have another finished thing, this is a real, actual finished shirt, this time complete with buttons and buttonholes, made out of fabric that I paid money for. The thing that I have been most worried about was making the buttonholes but that turned out to be a relatively straightforward process (yes, the top one is in the wrong place but thankfully it will be invisible behind a tie). The worst part of the whole project turned out to be sewing the buttons on, they are half inch buttons and small buttonholes and there is very little margin for error in placement. With my perfectionist trait fully enabled I took two buttons off and put them back on again before I decided to leave the others until the shirt has been through the wash and I’ve forgotten which ones I considered to be wrong by millimetres. This is the short sleeve version of Kwik Sew 3883. I’ll make the next one with long sleeves and when cutting out I’ll increase the seam allowance so I can make a flat fell seam, as written the pattern is assembled with 0.25″ seams and the raw edges are overcast together. That works well enough but all the rest of the shirts in his wardrobe have flat fell seams and I’m sure that I can do that even though I’ve only ever sewed a small sample and that was thirty mumble years ago at school. Other people manage it so I should be able to do it too providing of course that I have a wide enough seam allowance to start with.
This is where my self restraint went right out of the window. The postman brought me these mega rolags this morning (shown with an apple for scale). I’ve never seen anything quite like them so (purely for research purposes you understand) I had to have them. Don’t they look like fun? If I make a two ply yarn then there will be six rolags in each ply and five and two half colour changes in the length. I keep being unconvinced by that so I wrote it down to check it, it might have been less amusing had I chosen other letters but at least ABBAABBAABBA is memorable. My dog walk today was spent working out how long a piece of fabric I’d get out of each colour change if I used the hypothetical yarn with the dark brown warp that is waiting to go on the loom. I got back home with the solution but without the answer to the supplementary question of “what would that look like made into a bag?”. I’ve checked the weather report and it will be fine tomorrow morning so a longer walk may provide the answer. If the the colour changes don’t work well in the fabric lengths needed to make sock project bags then I’d like to know this before I commit myself to making the yarn.
Posted by Caroline in Knitting, lace, sweaters on November 7th, 2013
I don’t know where this week has gone, somehow it has managed to be Thursday again. It was only just Monday, I suppose I should be glad that I didn’t blink and miss more of November. Earlier this week I finished cutting out a shirt so before I vanish into a black hole of sewing machine wrangling (tension – yes I have it, sometimes more than the machine does) I thought I’d pop in and show you the result of my bead purchase before another week runs away from me.
As Carolyn already knows (see, there are benefits to being a commenter) the beads I bought for Faberge were a total failure. I managed to match the colour so well that they would have been invisible even if they had been the right size. Don’t ask me why I bought 8/0 when I knew that I wanted 6/0, I can only think that I was distracted by the shopping software offering me other choices which were (too) perfectly coloured and in the wrong size. All was not lost, I still have bags and bags of gold beads left from the ripped Iris and gold works with so many colours including dark brown. You will have to take my word for that, if there had been some actual light this afternoon you might have been able to see them but if you click the photo you can just make them out on the larger version. This is the end of the beaded section, it changes next to something with holes. I will confess to not having read that far ahead in the pattern but there are certainly holes in all the photographs.
I’ve also started what can only be called a baby mash up. The original pattern is fifty years old and at 8 stitches to the inch on 2.75mm needles is a project for the committed knitter. I’m aiming for 7 stitches per inch on 3.25mm needles by overlaying its key features on a more modern pattern of similar construction. If it works (and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t) then this will change it from being a single size pattern in a discontinued yarn to being a multi sized pattern in sock yarn. At the moment the yarn looks nasty and stringy but I’ve used it before and it does look better once it’s been washed. I’m hoping that when I’ve done it will look the same as the original, it’s difficult to judge whether it’s looking the same when all you have to go on is the sleeves.
I’ve also been snared by a pattern for a Christmas stocking. I’m telling myself that I don’t really have the time for that especially as I have to dye and dry the yarn and adapt the pattern but I’m not listening. I compromised with a negotiated settlement – I won’t start it until something else is finished. I then immediately redefined the word “start” to suit my own ends with the rationalisation that it would be silly to cast off and not have the yarn for the next project ready to go so printing the pattern and dyeing the yarn don’t count, nor does making a swatch. No doubt by the end of next week I’ll have managed to rationalise dumping one of the current projects in favour of the new one with the actual deadline.
Posted by Caroline in Knitting, lace, sweaters on October 29th, 2013
Never have I ever managed to stick with it and finish something that I disliked so much. Usually when I’m not feeling the love for a project I rip it and start over because knitting is supposed to be fun and not a chore. Those scraps that I picked out because they worked so well together turned out not to make a good team after all. I decided to overdye the finished item with brown which would mute the white and tone down the bright green but that was before I needed something to do at 3am when I sewed the seams up out of boredom. Now I’ve got those two tubes I think I have less chance of dyeing it to my satisfaction than I had when the sleeves were all open and floppy. I’ll pack it away and see if six months apart makes me dislike it any less, otherwise it may have a swish in a dye bath after all. There are no buttons and it’s not been blocked because if I’m going to dye it then doing either is a waste of time
Never have I ever finished a shawl knitted from the bottom up. I started one once, a Maplewing, but I wasn’t convinced that it was going to finish to the size I wanted and I ripped that after a few inches. With top down designs it’s easy to get the size exactly right, you just stop knitting when it’s big enough but by knitting bottom up the final size is determined with that first row. I’m not worried with the sizing on this one (Faberge) because many of the finished items I looked at seemed to have a theme of “smaller than I expected” and that’s good for me. What I want is something that will fill in the neck of sweaters that have a low neck so smallish would suit me nicely. At the moment my rows are 440+ stitches long and mindless beyond belief so it’s going to take me a few evenings to get through this part. That’s good because the beads for the next section are still in the post, I could even have time to buy a second bag of beads when the first ones turn out to be exactly the wrong shade of brown. My previous bead buying experiences tell me that I’m successful in matching beads to yarn through the computer screen only about half of the time. It’s possible to go wrong in either direction by buying beads that match so well that there’s no point using them or getting ones that fail to work with the yarn at all. Only time will tell.
Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, socks, Spinning on October 20th, 2013
It’s not been a week where I’ve flown along but I did accomplish a few things. The striped baby jacket is finished including buttons. When I’ve made this before I’ve used sock scraps for the contrast colours and although it’s not hard to make the two sides match it does need a bit of effort. The sleeves were hard work last time, even putting the yarn for the second sleeve in a bag marked “sleeve” wasn’t enough to make it plain sailing and so I seized the opportunity to do something differently this time. I can rationalise with the best of them and I managed to convince myself that it made no difference to the order in which I knitted them providing that I ended up with a pair of socks and a baby jacket out of a ball of sock yarn. It didn’t really matter whether the jacket used leftovers from the socks or the socks used the leftovers from the jacket. This idea came to me because I was looking at a ball of sock yarn that was the same colour as the scraps that I’d dyed, that they matched should be no surprise given that they came out of the same dye bath. The result is that the body of the jacket uses overdyed sock yarn leftovers but the sleeves are knitted from a full ball of sock yarn.
When I finished the jacket I had just under 70g of the sock yarn left, not quite enough for a pair of socks but that didn’t matter because I had some of the other colours left from the jacket. These socks have the cuff and heel flap knitted from the true leftovers from the jacket and that was enough for the main yarn to see me to the toe. You’ll notice that the blue stripe isn’t prominent in the sleeves of the jacket, that’s because there wasn’t a stripe in the yarn then. I originally thought I’d add stripes as a way of making the 70g of yarn stretch to the toe, then I thought about all the ends that would generate and decided instead to make the cuff, flap (and toe if necessary) from other yarns. I still liked the idea of stripes though so I added a wide stripe of navy to the yarn.
I do still spin, last week I spun up a bag of merino/angora that I found as part of my tidying up, there are no photos of that because it’s gone away. It looks just like every other skein of white yarn you’ve ever seen so you didn’t miss a deal by me not taking its photo. I looked out a bag of coloured Shetland and a bag of coloured Corriedale and carded several sets of colour changing wool. When spun end to end you end up with a monochromatic gradient yarn, I’ve spun it many times before so I know exactly what it will come out like but it’s still fun to watch the colours gradually change as I spin and ply. It was so much fun that I might make another (and another).
My big plans for the loom were sidelined, I wound the warp and then read the directions for using the sectional beam. I need a metal rod and that didn’t come with the rakes so the warp is in a bag waiting for two foot of something that’s rigid but thin enough to pass through the eyes on the rakes. Thinking about it, there might be a work around – I see some research in my future.
I’m down to one knitting project now, the ugly duckling baby jacket. Glowering at it doesn’t seem to be getting it finished so it does look like I have to pick up the needles to get it done. If I don’t start anything else then there’s more chance of that happening.
Posted by Caroline in Knitting, Non-fibre, sewing on October 12th, 2013
I think this is the end for the sheet. I have this piece and one of the original pillowcases left after making the shirt and two U shaped pillowcases for two U shaped pillows. I’m sure that I could find a use for the scraps if I waited long enough but what’s the point of keeping them when I can easily pick up another nearly new sheet from a charity shop should I ever need one. It was too thin to make a shirt to wear but for a shirt making lesson it was good enough being big, easy to find and cheap.
The pretend shirt came out rather well. This is Kwik Sew 3883, the reason that I chose this pattern rather than any other was that a single pattern covers sizes small to XXL and I wasn’t sure which size I wanted. The thing that sold it to me was that I could see that various sewing bloggers had made it up, multiple times in some cases, without complaint. In the olden days I would have lost an afternoon to driving into town, pouring over pattern books and making my choice only to be told that they didn’t have that pattern in stock and then I’d wait a week for it to be ordered for me. I’ve learned that I can save half a gallon of petrol, the cost of the car park and several hours of my life by going straight to ordering it from a virtual shop on the internet so that’s what I did. I know now that there are a few things I would do differently with the next shirt and that’s one of the reasons to make a muslin, the other one being to check the fit. The first thing I’ll be doing is to not use that nasty poly thread because my machine doesn’t like it except in the bobbin. You can see the interesting pin fastening – I couldn’t see the point of making the buttonholes because the combination of thread and fabric will be different next time so what I learned on this pseudoshirt would not be transferable to the next one. I’m now waiting for my six metres of white fabric to arrive, again I skipped the part about driving into town for something that might not be in stock and did my shopping from the settee.
The blog remembers everything so it knows that back in March I tried to bake acceptable breakfast items so that we could stop buying sliced white bread for toasting. I can report that since then not one floppy sliced white loaf has crossed the threshold. I only made croissants once because they need a lot of rolling space that I don’t have but I’ve continued to make an endless stream of breadcakes, brioche and bagels. The breadcakes and bagels have been consistently good, once I found the optimum size and baking times I wrote it down and repeated it every week. Brioche is still a work in progress because although I use the same ingredients every time the results are wildly variable. This week’s variation was practically unworkable, it was so soft that I resorted to cooking it in muffin tins. I know what the issue is, the majority of the liquid comes from the eggs. I know that egg sizes are standardised but I don’t think that they are standardised quite enough for this recipe. I think next time I’ll be looking for a recipe that uses less eggs and more milk because milk comes out the same size every time.
I’ll finish with some actual knitting content. The end is in sight with this little jacket. This is the centre back where I’ve grafted the two pieces together and I’m now knitting on the fronts. Having thought about it I’ve decided that this sort of thing is better knitted from the body outwards because then you finish with the short rows on the sleeves. If you’re using scraps then it’s better to start with the long rows when you know you’ve got plenty of yarn. It’s not my favourite thing ever but I think I know how it can be improved but more on that next time. As a total non-sequitur, the blog turned seven this week. Yet again I missed its birthday but it never seems to mind. At least it wasn’t expecting a cake.
Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, Weaving on October 7th, 2013
My brain hurts. It’s been decades since I last sewed a garment so this is more of a challenge than it should be. I’m of an age to have been taught sewing at school, proper sewing involving tailor tacks and darts rather than “textiles” which from a display I saw recently seems to focus more on creativity than skills. My school projects included a nightdress with a yoke and ruffles and a trouser suit that was so successful that I wore it as school uniform. That was a long time ago and it’s fair to say that I’ve forgotten everything that I ever knew. That’s not quite true, attaching the yoke did seem vaguely familiar, I couldn’t work out what should be pinned to what until I’d done it and then I knew I’d done it before. I’m starting with the assumption that I’m going to make a mess of this shirt so this is officially the learning piece, made from a sheet to test the fit and my ability to make a stand collar. I’m being easy on myself and making it short sleeved so I can avoid making cuffs because I think I’ve got enough challenges to start with. I have a post it note on the pattern with a list of the things I should do differently next time although I didn’t write “avoid fusing interfacing to the iron” because that is a lesson I will have no trouble remembering for years to come. The thing that worries me most is the buttonholes, I may have to get my fancy pants (but touchy) machine from the bottom of the wardrobe and beg it to stay on task for long enough to sew the buttonholes.
I have some other learning to do, I recently turned Poppy the wheel into a sectional beam for my loom. It was the right thing to do, her new owner spun more on her in the first week than I did in the six years that I owned her. This is why the loom has been sitting idle, it’s been waiting for this enlarged toast rack to go on the back beam. I’ve been dithering over this purchase for months and what made my mind up was falling across a cheap tension box. I bought the tension box, sold the wheel and bought the sectional rakes and then looked at them for a month. They are now on the loom so I have to give some thought to what I want to make next and then leap in with a new way of warping. It also means that I can get rid of the pile of paper that slithers all over the floor whenever I so much as look at it, I don’t need it for packing the warp so it is officially a mess and can all go in the recycling.
After putting it off for two weeks I sat down with a pen and paper and worked out what I should be doing with the neck of this baby jacket and then wrote it down. Having been bitten by this several times recently I didn’t write it on the back of an envelope or a shopping list but on the bottom of the knitting pattern that I’m adapting. Hopefully when I come to do the second side I won’t have to work it out all over again after an extensive search for the scrap of paper that I’ve thrown away as rubbish. I had no option but to buckle down and work it out because the more interesting knit has now reached the final few rows. After tonight this will be my only knitting project so it has to be in a ready to knit state.
Please excuse the short post, I have to go and hammer the rest of that shirt together.
Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, sweaters, Weaving on September 29th, 2013
The blog has graciously consented to reverting to photos that enlarge when you click them so feel free to enbiggen to your heart’s content. Today’s post is brought to you by way of a bunch of seemingly random numbers.
Three is the number of bags I got out of the length of fabric (it was a four yard warp). There is a bit of fabric left over that will come in for something at some time but for now it’s going back in the box. I couldn’t bring myself to make two bags the same so I added a contrast trim and some buttons to the third which had the same lining as the second. They are intended to be bags for socks in progress and they are a nice size for that. I like them, they aren’t perfect but I’m still learning. I tried to improve on the first handle which finished beautifully but was a pig to turn and got two handles that turned easily but the seam allowances fought with the pressing of the edges and as a result the contrast edging isn’t as even as I would have liked.
I have released two more socks into the wild. I have no idea where the pokey end has come from, that will be sorted with scissors as soon as I reclaim them for the wash. This is a 50g ball of black sock yarn and the leftovers from a skein of Lorna’s Laces Jungle Stripe, it also made a pair of Fiesta Feet in preblog times, a pair of stashbuster spiral socks for my husband and a phone cosy. I had to finish the second of the pair by missing out one of the plain rounds in the toe shaping because otherwise there wouldn’t have been enough to graft the toes closed. That’s one ball of yarn that won’t be going back into the scrap bag.
The baby jacket that I was knitting last time reached the neck just as I needed something to take with me for my Saturday morning tea-drinking music school attendance. I’m making the pattern up and I hadn’t worked out exactly what should happen when I divided for the neck so I needed something else to knit. That means I now have one more baby jacket on the needles and yes, it’s the side to side DROPS one again. This is the third one of these I’ve knitted, I am unrepentant because they are fun and use up sock scraps and anyway, I sold the other two so they don’t count. Needless to say the project that only needs a few minutes thought and a calculator to sort it out is now stuck in a bag and will probably stay there until the newness fades from this.
The number series could also read 3-2-1-28 because although there are seven buttons on this cardigan there are an extra twenty one in the button tin. I bought two sets of buttons and decided both were unsuitable then my mother bought two sets as well. We could discuss whether this is still the same cardigan as the original Sirdar one, I think that it is even though it’s knitted at a different tension with different yarn and I changed the length, the neck, blended two sizes and added waist shaping. It still looks the same because of the lace panels running up the fronts. I knitted it in JC Rennie supersoft lambswool, I bought it for weaving but it’s lovely to knit as well. It is very fine for knitting and for adult garments it makes for a lot of work. Had this been long sleeved I might have stuck it in a bag and denied its existence rather than face yet more plain stockinette. I think I’ll stick with using it for weaving in future.