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Posts Tagged ‘Knitting’

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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One of my work colleagues is a keen knitter who is trying to get to grips with lace knitting. She’s done a Forest Canopy shawl, and has been trying to branch out by doing an Annis shawl, but she’s been struggling, and I’ve been trying to help and advise her (mostly by telling her to use stitch markers between every repeat and count a lot…) So I’ve been looking at the pattern a lot, and last Saturday I, being in need of a restful couple of days, sat myself down in the conservatory in the sunshine and cast on 363 stitches.

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The shawl’s knitted from the bottom up, you do the 18 rows of the lace pattern, decreasing on rows 15 and 17, then start the short row stocking stitch section – so you go from very long rows, to slightly shorter ones, to very short ones, then they get longer again, which is a novel way of knitting a shawl, but it makes a lovely crescent shape!

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By Sunday night I was a fair way through the stocking stitch section, and a session in front of the TV on Monday evening finished it off, leaving me with this messy looking object. But the magic of blocking worked again.

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I didn’t pin the top edge at all, I just let it settle into a curve as I blocked out the points. It’s not easy blocking a crescent, and it’s not completely even, but you can’t tell when it’s on!

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And the finished result! It’s very ethereal – the yarn is KnitPicks Alpaca Cloud laceweight, which is 100% baby alpaca, and I only used about 30g of the 50g skein, or about 240m, using 5mm needles. It didn’t block as wide as the pattern said, but it’s big enough.

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The nupps in the lace were something of a challenge – I though about replacing them with beads, but I’ve done nupps before, on my seasilk Swallowtail, and they were fine then, so I stuck with them. But they were harder in the alpaca! I did them as loose as I could on the knit row, but the p7tog wasn’t exactly fun. I tried slipping the first six loops, purling the last one and passing the other six over, but it looked a bit messy, so I struggled on. I may have to investigate the crochet method next time.

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This gives a better idea of the colour, it’s a petroly blue shade.

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Modelled at Knit Night by my lovely friend Nadine.

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A bit of the other

So, I’ve knitted a jacket and done some spinning, but what else have I been up to? Well, for a start I attended the annual Yarn Yard gathering, which they very conveniently hold at the Bar Convent, here in York, so I just need to hop on a bus each morning to join them. Sadly I had to work on the Friday (we had an Away Day, which slightly bizarrely was held at a Buddhist Centre, so I had the odd experience of spending the day at two different religious centres without any religion being involved) but I joined up with them at five o’clock, so I didn’t miss too much.

I somehow didn’t manage to take any photos at all of the actual event, but much fun was had – apart from the Saturday afternoon event there’s nothing actually organised, just lots of sitting around and knitting and/or spinning, with chat that becomes more risqué in direct proportion to the lateness of the hour and the amount of alcohol consumed. We decided that the Marine in the Radio Times photo definitely wasn’t showing us his finger!

Food played a big part in the weekend as usual, there were fish and chips (with scraps for those who can’t get them in less civilised parts of the country), and Indian food with giant naan breads on Saturday night. It was good to meet up with old friends and make new ones – I particularly enjoyed meeting the Glasgow contingent, who were great fun!

As mentioned, the main event of the weekend is the Saturday afternoon yarn swap/gathering. Everyone brings something to swap, it’s all piled on tables, people wander round and eyeball things they like the look of until they’ve decided on a favourite, then at the signal try and grab it. It was more civilised than it sounds! I wasn’t going to get much, nothing really grabbed me, but somehow I ended up with a bag full after all…

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This was my haul – mostly fibre, with some yarn and a couple of books.

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My first choice was a set of batts from FeltStudio – unfortunately they had a lot of very tinsel-like sparkle in them, but it comes off quite easily, the ones at the top have been desparkled, and look much better!

In knitting news, I felt the need for something simple after the traumas of the moss stitch jacket, so I cast on for the only pattern that grabbed me from the Nature’s Wrapture book I got from the yarn swap – Raspberries.

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I found six balls of Rowan Scottish Tweed Aran in my stash (part of the great Kemps haul from a couple of years ago) and cast on. The body is simple – it’s done top down, with raglan increases, but you don’t split for the arms, just keep knitting straight. Unfortunately I think I tried to cram too many stitches on my KnitPro cables, and I managed to break two of them – the cables came out of the metal holders. Now I need to find some glue to mend them. I thought of superglue, but I think it might set before I could get the cables properly in, they take a bit of twisting to get in. I’ll ask at our local DIY shop unless anyone has any bright ideas – do let me know if you do!

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So anyway, the body was nice and quick, but then I hit the edging, which is in a variation of trinity stitch, on the right side rows you have to do a k1,ktbl,k1 all into the same stitch, then on the wrong side row you’ve got a p3tog to get the stitch count down again, which doesn’t make for speedy knitting! It’s taking well over half an hour to do two rows, and using about 10g per two rows – I think it might be just as well I’ve got an extra ball of yarn! There’s still the front bands and the collar to do.

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It’s not very easy to photograph the purple yarn, but the stitch makes little bobbly bumps. There’s a tiny red fleck in the yarn which is pretty.

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I missed the end of the Yarn Yard weekend due to general exhaustion, but I gathered from Twitter that there had been talk of bargain sock yarn from Kemps, and eventually I gave in and had a look – they’ve got Regia College yarn for £4 per 150g ball, it’s a DK weight yarn, so knits up quickly. Somehow seven balls have found their way to my house. I can’t think how it happened.

Oh, and it snowed. The cats were nearly as fed up as I was about this.

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It does look pretty, but my drive is long and steep, and if I want to have even a chance of getting the car back up it, I have to clear it every time it snows. The novelty soon wears off! Thank goodness it seems to have warmed up now.

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Right, I think that’s me more or less caught up. Phew!

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I finished the Autumn Tam as planned last week, and duly blocked it and took photos, but it’s taken me until today to sit down and write about them. Oops.

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The last bit of the knitting was a bit tedious, as the rows got shorter and the colour changes more frequent, but eventually it was all done, and I sewed in the last of the ends – I’d done them about every inch or so, I knew that otherwise it would be a horrendous task, and I was right – on counting up there are about 50 colour changes, so over 100 ends to sew in!

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Then I blocked it over a plate, tying the brim as usual – I may have overdone it a bit, it’s a bit wavy, but it fits okay.

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And then spent ten minutes in the garden with the camera at arm’s length trying to make sure it was pointing at my head – which is easier said than done!

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I’m very pleased with it, the colours are amazing – there are some that are very close together, but it gives it a great depth.

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There are just four rounds of the lightest green, but they really make the pattern pop.

The fabric is lovely and drapy, and has blocked so well that it almost looks as though it was made my a machine, as several people at my knitting group pointed out. I think this is a good thing…

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And every knitter I showed it to immediately started looking at the inside, so I’ll share it with you too!

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Progress

Sadly real life and the need to make some money has got in the way of crafting a bit this week, hence my silence, but there has been some progress made. Although having started four projects at once, it’s been spread out rather…

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I have finished one of the new projects though, the cosy silk and alpaca socks to wear in the house. Modelled with my pyjamas this morning, which how they’ll mostly be worn :)

When I finished those I cast on for a new pair, this time using the stitch pattern from the hopscotch socks I made a couple of years ago. These were part of a sock club I wasn’t a member of, but a friend was and I saw her pattern and copied the stitch pattern from it – I think they were originally toe up, but I did them top down with a short row heel as usual. I loved them, and wore them lots, but they’ve been darned twice already and now need another bit of TLC. They’ve faded too.

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It’s a very clever stitch pattern, with slipped stitches on the two rows before you cable, then the cables crossing the purl stitches. It’s easier if you can work out how to do it without having to use a cable needle though – the pattern says to use two, which sounds very fiddly!

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As you knit it just looks like rib, but when you stretch it it magically shows the pretty pattern. The colours are a bit bleached here, but it shows the pattern better than the photo that was more colour accurate.

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This is on my hand, hence the funny shape!

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I’ve been getting on with my Autumn Tam too, I’ve spent a couple of afternoons in the conservatory with an audio book, and now I’m up to the decreases for the crown, so it’s nearly there. I’m loving the colour combinations.

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And last night I finally made a start on the chunky jacket I swatched for a couple of weeks ago. It’s double moss stitch, which is fairly tedious, especially on big needles (never my favourite), but it’s going to be a quick knit – this is it after the first ball (I think it’s going to take about nine balls). The cable pattern is much simpler than it looks, largely because it isn’t charted (why?????) but it’s basically a cross, then the two branches going outwards with a moss stitch centre. Very easy.

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I’ve been doing a bit of spinning too – last Sunday my friends Jo and Nadine came round, and we had a lovely afternoon spinning and chatting. I’ve carried on most days since, and now I’ve nearly finished the rainbow roving I started before Christmas.

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This is the last bobbin (of four).

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And this is the first 50g plied up. There’s about 200m. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it, but I’m thinking possible a lengthways scarf, with the two skeins mirrored. Or I might do something similar but woven. Really I just wanted to spin it to see what happened though – I was pleased that the colours matched up quite well on this skein, let’s hope the second one is so well-behaved!

Right, now to see if I can get the spinning and the hat finished this afternoon – it should be doable if I don’t get distracted!

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It’s a new year, so I’ve since Sunday I seem to have cast on for four different projects. Oops.

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Sunday was spent with my parents, catching up on television as it rained pretty much all day, and I cast on for the Autumn Tam I bought from Jamieson’s at Harrogate in November. It’s not going very quickly – it needs a fair bit of concentration – but it’s coming on nicely, and the subtle colour changes are very pretty. It’s also very hard to photograph – I really needed three hands, two to stop it rolling and one to hold the camera!

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On Monday the sun shone and we went out for a drive and a pub lunch, and at the last minute I found that I didn’t have anything on the needles suitable for car knitting. I didn’t have time to wind yarn, so I grabbed a ball of Regia Kaffe Fassett yarn and started a sock. We had lunch at The Feathers in Helmsley, and found this little chap on the shelf next to where we were sitting –

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A mouseman mouse – there were a few round the place. I do love coming across them, and you do from time to time in Yorkshire. Lunch was good too – masses of Yorkshire ham, with chips and eggs.

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Last night I’d had enough of stranded knitting for one day, and had a wander through my Ravelry queue to look for a garment to knit. I came upon the Drop Collar Cabled Jacket by Debbie Bliss, and remembered a pack of Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Chunky I picked up cheaply a few years ago, so I found it and did a swatch. The pattern says 6.5mm needles, I went up to 7mm but I’m still getting 13 sts/4” instead of 12. I’m going to wash the swatch in case it grows, but it doesn’t look as though it will somehow – I can see me swatching again on 8mm. I don’t like using such big needles, but I’ve got the yarn, so I may as well grit my teeth and get on with it!

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After that I picked up the blue sock, but I wasn’t feeling the love, so I found some lovely silk/alpaca sock yarn in my enormous box of sock yarn, and cast on for another pair of cosy house socks – I’ve got a couple of pairs in this blend, and they’re lovely to wear in the evening with my pyjamas.

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I don’t think Mollie approves of all these new projects!

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In other news, I’ve finished the socks I was knitting before Christmas. I’ve used 60g of a 100g ball, so I might make another pair with either shorter cuffs or contrasting heels and toes – I do like the yarn.

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I’ve also been doing a bit of spinning, I bought two lots of lovely rainbow fibre from Hilltopcloud – this is shetland and silk roving – there are four 25g lots, so I’m spinning them all separately to make two matching 2ply yarns (well, that’s the theory!)

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I also bought a set of BFL/silk rainbow batts, largely because I bought some for my secret santa gift at spinning group, but then didn’t want to part with them!

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Right, must go, I’m back at work this afternoon and I need to get dressed! Roll on the weekend :)

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