Dredging through the knitting bag

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, Spinning, sweaters on April 14th, 2014

It’s such a little thing but it feels as if I have been knitting it forever. Guess what, I HAVE been knitting it forever. The blog remembers these things so I don’t have to and it tells me that the first sighting of baby Sirdal was on January 17th. The body knitted up quickly enough but when I got to the start of the second pattern band (about armhole level) I realised I’d made a mistake right at the bottom and that put me off the whole thing. I had a choice between ripping it back and starting again or ignoring it and hoping I could sort it out in the finishing and it spent weeks in the bag while I decided what I was going to do. The thing I like most about this is that it’s finally finished the yarn and the buttons, I liked the buttons so much that I went back and bought the other ten to go with the three that I would have leftover from this. I don’t know what I’ll do with thirteen buttons but there’s a lot more options than with just three.

The pattern is Sirdal, a Dale of Norway pattern available as a download from Patternfish. I wanted the baby size but was surprised to find that the pattern covered all sizes from baby through to adult. This is the first thing I’ve made with steeks, it was knitted as a tube and cut up the front and then the sides sliced to open up for the sleeves. That was straightforward enough and I’d not hesitate to do that again. It was the front steek that tripped me up, when I set off I decided that five stitches sounded narrow and seven would be better so I cast on an extra two. If I’d written that down or remembered it then I would have been fine but I did neither and then when I lost a stitch marker I incorporated them into the pattern.

These are the first buttoned cuffs I’ve ever knitted. As I was knitting them I didn’t like the flare that comes from changing to larger needles and increasing at the same time but now they are blocked it looks right. Knitting cuffs is less messing about than sewing cuffs on a shirt because there’s no raw edge to deal with but it is considerably more messing about than not having buttons at all. The start of the cuff is knitted flat (obviously because if it were joined together it wouldn’t need a button) and that means having single rows of colour before it’s joined in the round. I tried to get fancy to avoid the ends that come from single row colour changes by using a circular needle and working from whichever end had the right colour. To be honest I think I’d have been quicker just cutting the yarn.

I would knit it again, it looks lovely and it wasn’t as much work as you’d think from looking at the time it’s taken me. Most of the time it’s been on the needles I’ve not been knitting it because I couldn’t decide what to do with my two stitch mistake at the front edge. The blue and white is a classic combination and I like the subtle variation in the darker yarn. As I said in another post I don’t like the thickness of the front bands, two layers of double thick ribbing is too much on something this size. It makes for a soft collar though, there’s no hard edge that will rub under a chubby chin. I didn’t like having to change the pattern at the sides, I’d much rather work with a pattern that fitted into the stitch count so that it flowed all the way around. I also couldn’t fathom the concept of the pattern repeating around a central stitch on the sleeves when there was an even number of stitches.

I didn’t say whether I ripped back and fixed my mistake or lived with it. Looking at the first photo I can tell, you knitter-people would probably tell if you could see it closer but the general baby-dressing populace will see blue! white! buttons! and the man on the galloping horse doesn’t stand a chance.

I am ripping these although I’ve not made a mistake in the pattern. My mistake was in the yarn choice, it’s sock yarn and although it’s bang on gauge it’s making a fabric that is too loose for my liking. These are the Etude mitts, or rather that’s what this would become if I kept on knitting. This has been sitting in the bottom of the knitting bag for over a month and the fabric has not improved at all during that time. I’m ready for starting something new so it’s time for the non-starters to move along back to yarn. The socks can stay though, the end is in sight and there’s nothing wrong with them except for the length of the foot. I can’t believe that child socks have become the longest socks that I knit, at fourteen he’s now wearing a size nine and a half shoe (Eur 44, US 10). I add an extra half an inch to the heel flap because he has a high arch and with this pair that meant that I ran out of black yarn before I finished the gusset decreases. Next time I need to shorten the cuff or I risk having colour showing above the shoe which would never do as these are pretending to be plain black socks to be worn with plain black shoes, plain black trousers and a black blazer. The socks are the only thing I have on the needles and as I’m an inch from starting the toe shaping they should be finished very soon. They will be the second thing that I pick up as soon as I press “publish” on this, the first one being a cup of tea.

More of the same

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, Spinning, sweaters on April 10th, 2014

I didn’t fill all my bobbins before I started to ply, I knew I wouldn’t because I can never wait to see the yarn but as it was the weather provided me with a convenient excuse to start plying. The forecast was for a warm sunny day with a bit of a breeze which promised to be ideal wool drying weather and it seemed a shame to not take full advantage of it. I had six bobbins of single at that point which gave me two big skeins and lots left over. I’m aiming to spin a bobbin a day so I’ll be plying again at the weekend. I thought I’d be looking at twelve bobbins full and that looks about right because two bags of wool filled six bobbins with a bit left over. I’m still not sure whether I’ll have enough yardage for a sweater, it will be close and I may have to consider stripes as a necessity design element.

The warm breezy weather made me get on with dyeing the yarn previously known as Rogue. There’s a strand of the original colour on the bottom left, you can see that it’s still grey but darker than it was. I was aiming for more of a brown/grey but the brown dye that I put in seems to have vanished without trace. It’s reasonably even in colour, three of the skeins are a little darker than the majority and two are a little lighter so providing that I alternate knitting from two balls at a time and keep the dark and light away from each other it should work out well enough. I know that it doesn’t look terribly exciting yarn but I’m thinking of knitting something with cables and I don’t want an interesting yarn that’s going to fight with a pattern. In this case plain, even and boring will do me just fine.

No, I am not recycling pictures, if you look closer you will see that this one has the buttons actually sewn on rather than being artfully posed on top of the knitting. I had hoped to be showing you a finished Sirdal, earlier today I thought that this was totally reasonable seeing as I thought I had only had two buttons to sew on. Then there were the two buttons on the cuffs, a cuff facing to sew up, a bit more sewing on the cuffs, some ends to weave in so even without adding blocking to the list it’s never going to be finished today. I’ve got all the buttonholes done despite me not liking the front bands at at all. They are double thickness ribbing like the collar and that may work perfectly well on a bigger garment but I think it’s just too bulky on a garment this size. Ribbing makes a thick fabric anyway and there are four layers there underneath the buttons. If I were to make this again I’d be tempted to make a band and facing combo rather like that on the top of the sleeve with the bands single thickness and backed with ribbon. It’s too late to be fussing with it now, I’m finished with it and thinking about what comes next.

I like to look back through the archives and see what I was doing in this month in previous years. Last spring was all about yeast and bread and my mission to ditch the floppy white sliced loaf much loved by the junior household member. I succeeded with that, over the year I’ve settled to a pattern of baking brown loaves, white breadcakes (baps, rolls or alternate regional word of choice) and sesame topped bagels. It’s plain, even and boring bread and like the plain,even and boring yarn it means that it’s easy to use. The croissants, brioche and chocolate products all fell by the wayside because it’s much easier to bake bread and add chocolate hazelnut and cocoa spread to it if I’m feeling indulgent. I have a drawer in the freezer that just holds frozen bread products, we don’t run out and they are as good as fresh if you microwave them for a few seconds. They come out the same every week because when I finished experimenting with weight of dough, percentage hydration and oven temperature I wrote down what I did so now all I have to do is follow the pattern. There’s a novelty, me following a pattern.


Downhill to the very long weekend

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, Spinning, sweaters on April 6th, 2014

We’re racing towards a two week Easter break. It can’t come too quickly for me, it’s been an interesting few weeks at school and the child has been here, there and everywhere. I have nightmares about not keeping on top of the changes in the school day and not being there to pick him up from wherever at whenever. I need either a return to the normal boring timetable or a break from it altogether. As the school holidays are just around the corner that means that it’s the end of Saturday morning music school for a few weeks. This week I managed to get both sleeves sewn in and the facings sewn down, I would have made a better job of it had I thought to take scissors, the slit I’d cut for the sleeve could have done with being a fraction longer and pins would have helped too. The whole point about music centre knitting is that it avoids procrastination, I have to stick with what I take with me because there is no alternative so I finish it rather than waiting for later when I might be able to do it better (or more likely, not at all). I like the finish of the facing, when you get to the top of the sleeve you end with a few rows of reverse stockinette. You sew the last stockinette row to the body, leaving the purl bit to fall to the inside of the seam. When you’ve finished sewing the sleeve seam you turn to the inside and sew the top of the sleeve over the cut edge of the body. Yes, action shots would have been nice but my camera doesn’t go with me on Saturday mornings.

I still have the buttonhole band to pick up and knit but as that is knitting rather than sewing there’s a chance that it might get done, especially as the second set of buttons look more or less exactly as I’d wanted. I thought that they might be too big but they fit the buttonholes on the sleeve cuff which are the only ones that I have at the moment. I bought them by the simple route of going to Etsy and searching for metal buttons from sellers in the UK. These are old buttons, they are much heavier than anything I’ve bought recently and even including the postage they were about the same price as the rather naff ones that I bought locally. I liked them so much that I went back and bought the second set that the vendor had for sale.

I’m on my fourth bobbin of Shetland, I spent an hour plying up random leftovers to free up all of my bobbins so I have no excuse for not filling them all before I start to ply. (I’m sure I can come up with an excuse if I want one) I replaced the dodgy drivebelt with Pony bead lacing as I couldn’t bring myself to pay £10 for a piece of plastic. I’ll hold off telling the world what I think about it until I’ve made my mind up, the lime green bits are what I’ve cut out of it this week. It’s nice and grippy but at the moment it’s too stretchy, I’m hoping that it will find its happy place and find a length that it’s comfortable at. It’s going to have plenty of time to sort itself out as I think there’s enough wool to fill twelve bobbins (not that I have twelve even now I’ve pulled all of them together)

The shirt is finished, washed, ironed and in the wardrobe. I don’t remember ever making a cuff but it looks like a small waistband and I’ve done those before. The buttonholes were straightforward enough as I did all the learning with the last shirt, this time I marked where the machine foot needed to be rather than where the hole needed to be because the edge of the foot is visible while the fabric under it isn’t. Sleeve plackets were new to me, on this pattern there’s only a placket on one side and the other side is finished with a small hem. The instructions have you reinforce the button with some spare fabric on the back because otherwise you’re sewing it onto a single thickness of fabric. Another time I think I’d make a placket on both sides as this is what all the other shirts in his wardrobe have. According to multiple sewing blogs this is easy enough to do as you start with rectangles of fabric so the lack of a pattern piece isn’t a problem. I have promised another shirt, not white thankfully, so I will have something to experiment with.

What I could do with this week is a good drying day as I’d like to dye this little lot. This is a sweater’s worth of aran wool that’s been lurking in the bottom of my wardrobe for a while. It’s been pretending to be a sweater but as I haven’t worn it since I finished Celtic Dreams it wasn’t so much a sweater as a waste of space. This was previously Rogue, I didn’t wear it as much as I thought I would because of the hood. I couldn’t wear it under a coat which meant a change of sweater when I stepped out of the door. When you know you’ll be out on the end of a lead at least three times in the day then it makes more sense to put on a sweater that works with a coat. The lack of wear means that the yarn is in good condition, no felting at the cuff, very few bobbles, so it would be a shame to waste it. I’m going to dye it a less plain colour and reknit it for my mother as she’s a smaller size and does wear sweaters, unlike my son who sticks them in the wardrobe and ignores them.

It’s seven years since I knitted Rogue, doesn’t time fly?


Spot the spinner

Posted by Caroline in Family, Knitting, Spinning, sweaters on March 23rd, 2014

If you’ve been here a while you’ll know that I’m not a big fan of making up. Once I’m done knitting, I’m done. I’m much better than I used to be, I used to stuff bags of knitting in the bottom of the wardrobe and ignore them for decades and I don’t do that any more. You could look on it as a sign of maturity, it’s partly because I recognise my weakness in this area and look for patterns that don’t have a lot of sewing up. You can’t get away from the finishing though, it just comes around in a different form. That’s ok because it’s sewing seams that I avoid, I can sew facings and pick up stitches with the best of them.

I started with the easy bits of sewing, there’s a facing on the body and on each of the sleeves but there’s nothing that shows on the outside so it doesn’t need to be perfect. After that I ran out of knitting and sewing because to do the button bands you need to do the collar, to do the collar you need to have joined the shoulders and before you can do that you need to cut into the sides. Everything was dependant on me getting out the sewing machine out and stitching down the sides so that’s what I did. The lines of stitching look wobbly because I used a shallow zig zag so that the knitting can stretch without popping the stitching. I’d marked the side seams as I was knitting (you can see the the orange threads on the previous photos) but the unknown was the depth. I measured the sleeve twice, cut once but I was prepared to cut twice if needed. I could make the openings deeper but not shallower so I cut just a smidge shorter than I thought I needed. I then ignored the sleeves altogether, sewed the shoulder seams and knitted the collar. It now looks much more like a sweater than it did before. Next up are the front bands and then finally the sleeves. I can’t kid myself with that, it is genuine sewing but it will be the very last thing I need to do to call it finished (apart from the buttons but they don’t count)

This also looks like a sweater because it is, buttons and all. I’ve knitted this several times before, it’s great fun and forgiving on sizing because garter is stretchy. This is DROPS b14-27 in undyed sock yarn and a two ply handspun superwash bfl and nylon. As before I changed the sleeves to eliminate any sewing up (no surprises there then). Instead of casting on at the start of the sleeve, casting off at the end and sewing it up I started with a provisional cast on and did a three needle cast off with the live stitches at the end of the sleeve. That means there is no sewing up at all, the only thing you need a needle for is to weave in the ends (and a different needle for the buttons).

The stretchy drive band for the wheel is over seven years old now and you can see that it’s yellowed and is full of tiny cracks as well as the big crack at the join. It stopped being stretchy a long time ago but it’s been doing the job. It’s hanging on but only just and when it parts it won’t be worth sticking back together. I’ve spun one bobbin this week (my excuse being that it’s been a busy week on the parenting front) and depending on the arrival of the post, there may be a gap until I get to the second bobbin. This is not the most relaxing fibre to spin, the combination of chaff, hay and second cuts means that it’s all stop-start. I like the colour and I knew that it was full of VM when I bought it (why yes, it was cheap as it happens) so I’m happy to plod along with the remainder.

Saturday was a red letter day, one of those very rare days where I have no responsibilities to small dogs or children. It doesn’t happen often, the son and heir had a two day rehearsal that included an overnight stay and my mother took the dog for the day. The two of us slipped away for a day out at Pemberley Chatsworth, I’ve been around the gardens many times (funnily enough always when there’s been a brass band playing outside) but the last time I was in the house was in the summer of 1976. This was the second set of Fates I found on the ceilings, I looked for them because if you’ve a ceiling bigger than a tennis court to fill with mythological figures then the Fates are likely to creep in somewhere. (as with all the photos, click on it to see it larger) The trio in the Painted Hall were sporting the usual combination of spindle, distaff and shears but this set won hands down in terms of equipment because they had a niddy noddy. I don’t know how many years you get on a two yard niddy noddy (that’s what it looks like) but unless it’s fifty years a turn someone there is about to get cut off in his prime. They’ve clearly worked out how to keep fibre from clinging to their clothes, the rest of us use an apron but I suppose this works as well.



Seamless knitting

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, Spinning, sweaters on March 18th, 2014

Sirdal is showing signs of progress. I sewed down the centre of the body and cut it to open up the tube and I now have something that more closely resembles a cardigan than a sweater. You do need to use your imagination, the continued lack of armholes and shoulder seams is holding it back from being a recognisable garment. The front cut was easy, it runs from top to bottom so it’s hard to get it wrong but I was less confident about cutting for the sleeves. I marked the vertical line as I was knitting, that’s what the two orange threads are doing there, but the thing I wasn’t certain of was the length of the cut. That has to be measured after the sleeves are finished and pressed because, obviously, the slits in the body need to be the same size as the sleeves that are going into them. I could have cut them both based on the sleeve that I’d finished but I was a bit uneasy about that just in case I’d managed to produce two sleeves that were cousins rather than twins. There’s no earthly reason why they should be different sizes, they were knitted with the same yarn, the same needles and only a week or so apart but even so I still wanted to wait for the second sleeve.

I have twin sleeves now but I’m still working up to cutting the body. I have plenty to be getting on with, facings to sew (the one on the left is done), ends to weave in and of course there’s plenty of other knitting that I can be doing while I’m ignoring Sirdal. I’ve nearly worked my way around to the second front of the DROPS cardigan, after the body is finished the neckline is raised with a few rows that are picked up and knitted but even so this is nearly finished. There looks as if there will be a lot of yarn left over, not surprising as I started with 120g, and although there won’t be enough on its own to make a second one there will be enough to go with the pink oddments I already have to make another.

I’ve started my sweater. I’m not thinking about how many bobbins I’ll need to fill, I’ll start with five and then begin plying. I know that I’m supposed to spin all the single before I start to ply but I’m not going to. This isn’t the first sweater I’ve spun the yarn for and I managed to remain consistent throughout the other three so I’m not worried about my first skein being different from my fourth. The fibre contains chaff and a few lumps and bumps so the yarn will too, it’s going to make a yarn with some character (=chaff, lumps and bumps). Making it a four ply should even it out somewhat, you’ve got to be really unlucky to hit a lump on all four plies at the same time. I’m having a rethink on the pattern, maybe by the next post I’ll have made my mind up.

It’s that time of year again, Peregrine Cam is up and running and George and Mildred have been inspecting whether the accommodation is up to scratch. I managed to see a bird today, for the last few weeks I pop over to see an empty box and gravel.



Cast aside rather than cast off

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, Spinning on March 12th, 2014

I packed the wheel away at the start of December to make room for the Christmas tree and it never came back out. That means that I’ve had three months without spinning and that is a first for me. Given the time I’ve spent away from the wheel I thought that it would be a good idea to have a quick and fun spin before embarking on the long slog of the 800g sweater project. That would give me the chance to check that everything was working as it should be and that I’d not forgotten how to spin. This is the result, it’s a two ply with sections of solid pink and gold and longer stretches of marled yarn. It’s 70% superwash blue faced leicester and 30% nylon which means that it will be good for baby items and socks or mittens because it should be hardwearing (if it’s not too softly spun) and machine washable.

I should be knitting Sirdal but I have serious second sleeve syndrome. I’m finding the second sleeve to be tedious beyond belief, I’ve tried telling myself that it’s very small and will be quick to finish but that’s not helping. I’ve tried tempting myself with projects that would use the dpns I’m using for the sleeve, the idea being that it encourages me to finish it so as to free the needles for the next start. That’s not working either. I’ve decided to relegate the sleeve to Saturday morning knitting because if it’s the only thing that I take with me to music centre then I’ll have no choice but to work on it for the hour and a half that I’m there. That is of course a feeble rationalisation to make me feel better about taking my pretty new handspun and casting it on as soon as it was dry (in the interest of full disclosure – I was knitting the first half while the second half was still on the wheel). This is another of the short row DROPS baby jackets that I’ve made endless several times before. I feel no guilt about making it again because it’s ideal tv knitting and I’ve sold all of the others.

It’s a heavy parenting week this week, somehow when I wasn’t looking my toddler reached the age of choosing his options for GCSE. This is another justification for choosing that big slab of garter stitch over something with a chart with increases every four rows. I need something reassuringly simple while we struggle with deciding between subject A or B. Hopefully he’ll have made his choices before I get to the end of the jacket because if not I may be immediately casting on for another.

It works for me

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Knitting, socks, Spinning on March 5th, 2014

Baby Sirdal has been rescued from the bag of abandonment. I’ve finished the first sleeve and started the second although I’m not yet at the point where I can see that I’ve successfully reversed the cuff. I know from mittens, gloves and studying organic chemistry that I have terrible issues with chirality mirrored items but because I know that I can’t see the difference I don’t often get it wrong. I take a lot of care to check that what I think I see is really what is there. In a few rows time there will be much poking and several second opinions and then I’ll leave it overnight and check it again. I know that it shouldn’t need much thinking about, I just need to do what the pattern tells me to do but that assumes that I managed to do that on the first sleeve.

I’ve got as far as setting the wheel up, I put it away for Christmas and never got it back out. I know, it’s shocking, what is the world coming to? In my defence I would like to point out that I’ve not been well. I found the samples I made when I knitted Celtic Dreams back at the end of 2010 (18 stitches, 24 rows per inch) which should serve as a staring point for the yarn for Yoho (16 stitches, 20 rows per inch). I know that some spinners have elaborate systems for storing samples and have purpose made books or cards with attached yarn and ratio notes. I have a system that works for me and it obviously does work seeing as I found the relevant samples in under a minute. My tried and tested system is that I stick things in a bag that lurks near the wheel. I have the unwashed single, the washed plied yarn and the knitted sample. Hopefully I should be able to get the yarn I need on the first attempt.

It’s still sock knitting season here although I am starting to be bored with round and round knitting which is why the last pairs have had patterns. This pair will be going away for birthday/Christmas presents and by the time they reappear I may have forgotten that the toes don’t quite match. The yarn originally had a pink and white section that was right on the very edge of being husband-acceptable but you can’t see that in the finished sock (at least not after its encounter with navy dye). Ordinarily I would have dyed the yarn before knitting it but I had no other knitting so I didn’t want to wait for it to dry. I also wanted the leftovers to be pink and that’s not going to happen if you start with navy. The easiest thing to do was to knit the socks, dye them navy and then dye the leftover yarn pink. I can recommend dyeing the socks rather than the yarn because not only does it avoid having to wait for the yarn to dry, it also avoids the work of turning a ball of yarn into a 420 yard skein to then wind the 420 yards back into a ball. The only skeining and winding that I needed to do was that of the leftovers and that was only a quarter of the work. For anyone wondering why I bought the yarn if I didn’t like the colour – I buy most of my sock yarn very cheaply in Ravelry destashes and the colour is immaterial because I know that I can change it.

The road to recovery

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, Spinning on February 21st, 2014

I’m really stretched for something positive to say although “I am not flooded” seems to be a good start. I’d like to wipe the last few weeks from my memory, I’ve been ill enough to be happy to spend my days flat out on the settee watching whatever drivel pops up on the television. There’s been no end to the sore throat, coughing and crackling chest. I’ve been too sick to knit and I reached a new low of being too sick for tea. All in all it has not been a fun February and I can’t wait to turn the page on the calendar and declare it to be March.

The antibiotics appear to be nailing my chest infection so I’m feeling a lot better. I’m not yet ready for the level of thought required to match yarn to pattern but I can cope with round and round mindless sock knitting. The black and bright pair are for my son as they meet school uniform requirements, they’re shown below non-black trousers as it’s half term here this week. (I’m keeping on looking for the positives, so I’ll say that half term has been a major win as the neighbouring school authorities have half term next week and everywhere is deserted. Cinema for seven please) I ended up knitting four heels because on two of them I managed to drop an edge stitch early in the flap and didn’t discover it until I was a stitch short after turning the heel. After all the ripping it’s a surprise that they managed to make it to the toes. The very bright pair are for my husband who in the last three weeks has not once complained about me coughing in the night time and has been cooking, ironing, shopping and covering all those other jobs that I haven’t been doing. It’s more than likely that the leftovers from these will go into the next pair of child socks because it certainly meets the requirement of “bright”. The flash has changed the colours a little but I’m not sure that it’s making them brighter than they really are. A closer look would show how much better I’m feeling because the broken rib requires me to count to two and I’m managing to keep on top of that. I’m not ready for Sirdal yet, that needs me to follow a pattern and increase every X rows and that’s still too much to even think about.

I bought a sweater’s worth of Shetland this week (another sign that I’m feeling better), it was cheap and my Celtic Dreams won’t last forever especially as I’m wearing it all day, every day. The bags of wool are currently packed away until I get back to being fully functional because there are plenty of ways I can fail in making a fitting sweater from a heap of wool. I need to check that I have enough of it and then find the sample that I made for Celtic Dreams because that will be a good starting point for the yarn that I need. I’m pretty sure that I can put my hand on the sample right away, I’m also fairly sure what I’m going to knit – top down, saddle shoulder, cables but with a higher neckline than Celtic Dreams so I don’t need to work at keeping my neck warm.

The laptop bag is now properly finished because I found the magnetic clasps. They were in my handbag and must have been there for months. I can just about recreate a scenario where I took the clasps out to show someone and dropped them back into my handbag planning to put them away later so it nearly makes sense and I don’t need to fall back on my usual explanation for the inexplicable (alien abduction). I need to make a matching phone case but I only seem to think about this when the phone is out of the house so that might take a while despite only being a ten minute job.


The week where I was mostly restrained

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.


Redefining leftovers

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.