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Posts Tagged ‘Habu’

Kusha-esque

I’m always fascinated by the Habu Textiles stand when I see it at knitting shows, and their yarn with a very thin stainless steel core had intrigued me for ages before I bought a cone of it at the Ally Pally show, back in 2010. There was a pattern with it, for a scarf, but I only did a few rows before I decided that it was just too thin to enjoy working with it on its own, plus I didn’t like the fabric it was producing.

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I looked on Ravelry, and found that there was another pattern for a similar scarf, but worked with another strand, of merino. So I pulled it out, and at the Harrogate show later that year, I bought the required merino, and another cone of the wool and stainless steel. Then put it all in a cupboard and forgot all about it. Which isn’t like me at all, obviously.

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But then a couple of months ago there was a thread on one of the Ravelry forums about the stainless steel yarn, and it prompted me to pull it out and have another go with it. The pattern most people use is Kusha Kusha, which starts with a decrease section with both yarns held together, then carries on with both yarns for a while before switching to just the stainless steel one and decreasing needle size. All of which sounded a bit unnecessary to me, so I used both yarns all the way, and increased at the end to match the beginning.

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The fabric was still a bit coarse (someone at Knit Night said it looked like chain mail, which almost put me off the whole thing!) but the pattern said to felt it slightly when you were done. I really should have done a swatch and felted that, if only to reassure myself, but whilst I’m a firm believer in swatches for garments, I pretty much always just wing it with everything else, so I didn’t.

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When I started this I envisaged it as a reasonably long term simple project, that I could take along to Knit Night or do in front of the tv, but once I’d started I somehow couldn’t stop, and it was finished in no time. Not knowing how much it would shrink when felted, I guessed at a bit taller than me (very scientific!) and this is what it looked like when I cast off.

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And this is it after felting! I did it by hand, with a bowl of water as hot as I could get it from the tap, and a bowl of cold. I’d dip it in the hot (with rubber gloves), then into the cold where I’d rub it about a bit, then repeated that a few times till the edges started to felt. To dry it I laid it out flat, then pulled the edges into soft points all the way along.

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And this is the finished product! It’s rather different from anything else I’ve made, but I do like it. The stainless steel in the yarn is fun, in that you can shape it a bit – if you crease it it stays creased, and it has a bit of body to it.

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The felting process has softened up the fabric considerably too – it looks much less like chain mail now!

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One problem I did have was with knitting from cones – I mostly knit on the sofa, with my ball of yarn to my right, between me and the back of the sofa (and my legs up on the sofa in front of me), but that didn’t work with cones, they just kept rolling around and I was afraid of snapping the yarn if I pulled. So I used an old pair of straight needles and a basket to rig up a sort of lazy kate for cones (they were about half an inch too big for the kate I use for plying when spinning!)

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I’ve been in a bit of a lull, craft-wise, for the last few weeks – I became strangely addicted to making crochet throws and couldn’t summon up the energy to do anything more challenging than go round and round the outside of a square.

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But my second one is now finished, and I’m not starting any more for a while!

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This one’s in RYC Luxury Cotton dk (long discontinued, unfortunately). I had two balls of blue left over from a cardigan, and the other ten balls came from Kemps in their great Rowan bargain bags a couple of years ago. Whoever put them together chose the colours well, and they’ve made a lovely throw. There were five balls of the pink, and two of each of the others apart from the dark blue, and I thought I’d worked out a stripe sequence to use them evenly, but I failed miserably and had two and a half balls of pink left at the end. So I used them to do a border – four rows of triples with one chain between, then a row of doubles round the edge to finish it off. I’m pleased with it, and it’s used some yarn up. It’s a bit of a drop in the ocean, but I suppose it’s a start!

My next project is a very old WIP – I started this Coraline cardigan nearly two years ago, I know I knitted the body up to the armholes during Wimbledon that year. Then it was abandoned until last April, when I did the sleeves, and the yoke up to the start of the smocking, when it languished again. This time I’m going to finish it!

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But the smocking was nearly the project’s downfall – the pattern says to slip the first knit stitch onto a cable needle and hold at the front, slip the next four purl stitches onto the right needle, slip the next knit stitch onto the cable needle, slip the purl stitches back to the left needle, wrap the two knit stitches on the cable needle with the working yarn, knit the first one, purl the four purl stitches, then knit the other knit stitch from the cable needle. Which makes sense if it is rather long winded, but I hate cable needles at the best of times, and having one dangling at the front of my work with one stitch on it was just horrible. I did about six wraps, then turned to Ravelry for an alternative. Thankfully it didn’t let me down, and I found Interknitty’s very helpful notes, which basically say to wrap the first knit stitch before working it, purl the next four, pick up the wrap, knit the next stitch, then slip the wrap over it. Which is tricky in the multi-stranded Bamboo Soft yarn I’m using, but much easier than messing about with a cable needle!

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The wraps round the smocked stitches are stretching out a bit more than some others I’ve seen, but I think it’s because the bamboo yarn is very slippy and isn’t gripping the stitches. It’ll do! I just want it finished now, and I’m not too far off. I’m doing another repeat (six rows) of the smocking pattern as my row gauge is off, but I’m nearly there, thank goodness.

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And now for something completely different! I bought two cones of Habu merino/stainless steel yarn (in lilac) and one of the merino (in grey) at the Knitting and Stitching Show a year or two ago, and seeing a reference to stainless steel yarns on Ravelry prompted me to get it out and have a go at using it. I’m sort of following the Kusha Kusha scarf pattern, but I’m not going to change to a single yarn for the second half, I’ll just keep going in the two held together and see how long it turns out.

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It’s looking quite wiry and open at the moment, but you hand felt the finished scarf, and apparently it makes it more fabric-like. I really should have done a swatch first to see how it works, but I’m living dangerously on this one!

So those are the projects I’m taking to Anglesey with me this week, with maybe a sock as well (there’s a couple of half-finished ones lurking in my WIP box). I’ll let you know how I got on when I get home!

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