Sunday, 21 August 2016

The result..............

In my last post I showed the start of a little cardigan with a very pretty stranded colourwork border of hearts:

I was struggling with the purl rows of the design, and wondering whether I would be able to complete it to a reasonable standard.  Well, it took a while, but I'm pleased to say that I have now finished this project.  Sadly I don't have access to a cute toddler to model it, but here it is laid on the carpet instead:

It looks a bit of a funny shape without a child inside it because it is a jacket design, rather than a cardigan.  You can see the knitted darts on the fronts, above the hearts, and there are matching ones on the back.  I will be blocking it under a damp cloth before it goes into my Loving Hands box to be donated to a suitable charity.

The row of hearts took for ever, with me trying every which way of holding the yarn. At least I didn't pull the trailing yarn too tight.  In September I am going to a Knit for Peace knitting class in London with my niece to learn how to do this technique properly.  I can't wait!

This was knitted with 2 strands of 3 ply held together to make double knit, on size 4.00 needles.  When I use this yarn again, I think I will drop at least one needle size to get a tighter fabric.

Monday, 8 August 2016

More than I can chew?

Colourwork.  Now, I very much enjoy learning new techniques and trying new challenges, and I have been making half-hearted attempts to crack stranded knitting with 2 colours for a couple of years now, but I have never really felt confident in knitting with one strand of yarn in each hand. I have done some hats with a colourwork band such as this one, although you can see that there is some tightness in the band of arrowheads - the tension isn't quite right.

But onwards and upwards, and while looking on Ravelry I found a pattern for a little girl's jacket with a stranded border of interlaced hearts.  Although this picture doesn't really show it, this is a 'swing' jacket which is wider at the bottom and then gradually tapered towards the armholes.

I fell in love with it, and knew exactly which yarn I was going to use.  Among the cones were a couple of 3 ply Shamal in Ivory and Old Rose.  As this is a double knit pattern, I could just double these two colours and I would have the right thickness of yarn.  A couple of goes with the wool winder later, and I had the yarn ready.  Isn't the old rose a beautiful colour?

I like that you cast on with one colour, then immediately change to the other for the rib.  It gives a lovely continuity to the jacket.  The fronts and back are knitted in one (less sewing up - I'm all for that!), so there were 200 stitches.  No problem, the rib was knitted while watching England bowl out Pakistan in the final afternoon of the test match -  I am a bit of a cricket fanatic, by the way.  Then came the stranded part.  Aware that I needed to watch my tension and not let it get too tight, I started the first row of the pattern with rose in right hand and ivory in left.  So far, so good, I have developed a technique for making knit stitches with the yarn in my left hand.  

But then I came to the second row, where I needed to make purl stitches with each hand.  I suddenly realised that I have never done this before, because the hats on which I have done the stranded knitting have been made in the round (knit stitches all the way).  Oh boy, what a mess I got in!  Despite watching the best you-tube videos, I still couldn't (and can't) get the hang of this.  Much frogging took place.  The front side looks OK, but the back of the fabric, where the unused yarn is carried along, is , shall we say, less than tidy!  But at least the tension on the back is not too tight, if anything it is too loose.  

Have I bitten off more than I can chew here?  This is taking such a long time to knit, but I keep telling myself that there are only 14 rows of pattern to do.  I will persevere, and update you in my next post!

Sunday, 31 July 2016

How many strands?

I've been enjoying a bit of experimentation this week.  The garments that I'm knitting and crocheting now will be passed on to charities for distribution in the autumn and winter months.  In their latest newsletter,  Knit for Peace were asking for hat and scarf sets, particularly for older children and teenagers.

Time to start combining yarns, then, to make thicker and warmer garments.  When I was sorting out the cones, I noticed some smaller ones (250g or less).  There were a couple of sparkly yarns, and also some multicoloured ones.  I chose two, and teamed them with a navy blue 4 ply.

Using my new toy (the wool winder) I wound them together to make them easier to crochet with.

Somehow I managed to produce a ball that weighed almost exactly 100g.  First I crocheted a simple beanie hat, then I used the Spring petals scarf pattern on Ravelry to crochet a scarf with the rest of the ball.  I like this pattern because it is light and lacy-looking and is a single row repeat.  Using a size 6.00mm hook I got a lovely drape to it, and as the combined yarns were more than aran thickness, the hat and scarf will be quite warm to wear.  

Flushed with success with a 3 strand combo, I went for broke.  I picked 3 strands of 2 ply and wound them together, then paired them with a 2 strand ball of 50% wool 4ply.  Effectively, aran plus dk, so overall chunky weight.

I tried my luck with knitting this time.  I used a simple broken rib pattern (knit 3, purl 1) and made a scarf and hat.  I was really pleased with the outcome, although using a rib stitch meant that the scarf was narrower than I at first planned.  I will knit a wider one that will be more suitable for a teenager.

I probably knitted a little slower than usual, and kept checking that I had all the strands in each stitch.  But using the winder meant that the multiple strands were quite easy to control.  I think it was a good investment!

Monday, 25 July 2016

Rainbow cardigan and another donation

I'm so delighted that the little green cardigan I wrote about in my last post was voted as one of the favourites in Linda's latest stash buster party.  A couple of years ago, Linda, who is a fellow Loving Hands member, had the brilliant idea of holding on-line stash reducing parties to showcase the items we make to reduce our stash.  Lots of crafters from all over the world share their projects on her website and vote for their favourites.  There are some amazing items featured in these showcases and it's a real pleasure to have had one of mine voted as a favourite.  Thank you Linda for all your hard work in hosting the link-up.

Last week I was put in touch with a lady who, very generously, had a lot of yarn to donate to Loving Hands.  It was all coned yarn, and I filled my car with around 100 cones.  Coned yarn is normally sold for use with knitting machines and is often very fine.  Most of this, however, was 4 ply, which is great for hand knitting too.  I advertised the yarn on our Loving Hands forum, and I have been busy this week sending out boxes of it to groups and individual members.

I have kept some cones for me to use too, and I couldn't resist knitting a garment this week.  I chose 2 cones, one in grey and one in a grey / multicolour mix, to put together to make worsted or aran weight.  As it happens, a couple of weeks ago, before I knew about this donation, I bought myself a wool winder.  Boy, has it been useful this week!

When I started knitting a cardigan, my intention had been that, with plenty of grey in the yarn, it would be for a boy.  By the time I came to knitting the button bands, I was not so sure.

I consulted my colleagues on the Loving Hands forum, and they almost unanimously confirmed that this should be a girl's cardigan.  So I put the buttonholes on the girl's side, and, sure enough, when it was all sewn up and finished, it could only be destined for a little girl.  

It is 26 inches across the chest, so should fit a five to six year old.  Although the photo doesn't pick them up well, I found some sparkly oval buttons which I acquired from the Scrapstore, and they finish it off perfectly.  A big thank you is due to Nicola, who made the yarn donation; it will keep lots of LH members busy for many months to come!

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Green cardigan with a leaf pattern

In the 1980s, when my children were very small, there was a Phildar wool shop in Weston-super-Mare where I used to buy lots of yarn and patterns for their knits.  This was long before the days of the Internet, Ravelry and free patterns.  Phildar used to produce lovely books of patterns, and I have several in my pattern box upstairs.

When I received the package of pale green 4 ply from my friend Pat, I remembered a pattern in one of the Phildar books that I had always liked but never made (it was too 'girly' for my boys).  It was most enjoyable to knit a pattern with lacy panels, and I am very happy with the result.  It will fit a 22 inch chest, and I finished it off with some pale grey buttons which I had in my button box.

Thank you Pat!

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Finishing someone else's WIPs

In with the yarn that I collected recently were several projects that had been started but not finished.  One was a pile of lilac double crochet squares, a couple of which had a darker lavender border.  Another was a granny square approximately 26 inches across.  Seeing these unfinished objects or UFOs really gave me pause for thought; how many have I got of my own?  At least half a dozen, I should think!  I really must finish them off before I start any more new items.  But then a friend sent me some beautiful 4 ply yarn in pale green which was crying out to be made into baby cardigans with a lacy leaf design, so guess what I cast on at the weekend...........

But I digress - back to the blankets.  There were 23 lilac squares in total, 3 with a border.  I tried to reproduce the border on one of the plain squares, but without success.  So the 20 plain lilac ones were joined with darker lavender yarn using a slip stitch join, which gives the illusion of a border.  I then made a broad border of half trebles and v stitches, before finishing with a shell edging in the darker colour.

At 30 inches by 36 it's a practical size for a baby blanket.  However, I am rather tempted to crochet some motifs (flowers?) and sew them on some of the squares to make it a bit prettier.

The other blanket was crocheted in 3 or 4 ply yarn in cream, brown and fawn.  I found additional balls of cream and brown in among the stash, but I couldn't find the fawn.  So I added in some apricot 3 ply from my own stash which seemed to go well with the other colours.  By trial and error I decided a size 3.5 hook would best match my tension to the previous crocheter's, and carried on until the blanket was approximately 38 inches across.  A simple shell border finished it off.

I'm not sure that the colours are ideal for a baby blanket, but perhaps this one could be used to wrap around an elderly person's shoulders or legs.

It is very strange, completing work started by someone else, not really knowing what their intentions were.  There is another pile of crochet squares, 18 of them this time, that I need to plan to use.  But I have a green cardigan with a leaf pattern on to finish first!

Monday, 6 June 2016

Is there any hope of reducing my stash?

Since the donation of yarn that I received in April, I really don't know how much stash I have.  But two facts I am aware of:

  1.  I have used up almost 7 kilos of yarn since January 1st this year
  2.  I have bought a further 600g of yarn this month
In Weston we have a lovely old-fashioned 'bit of everything' shop near the sea front called McKee's which stocks King Cole yarn.  I try not to go in there too often because not only do they sell a good range of regular yarn, they also normally have what King Cole sells as 'Bin ends' for only £1 for a 100g ball.  The yarn comes in packs of 6 balls, but the shop owner is quite happy if you only want to buy one or two balls.  Well, I was wandering around that part of town with no specific goal in mind when I found myself in the shop and rooting through the Bin ends.  There was a pack of 6 grey fleck balls which looked and felt like aran (a challenge of bin ends is that there is no indication on the ball band of what weight it is - you have to use your own judgement).  I thought about my self-set challenge to knit 12 boy's jumpers this year, and I'm afraid the yarn fairy did the rest.  

So having a further 6 balls in my stash, I chose to start to use it up by making a Henley sweater using one of my old favourite patterns from Ravelry.  I used size 4.5 needles for the rib and 5.5 for the body, and this is the result:

I find that it knits up really quickly because it is done in the round, and I did it in 3 days, finishing it sitting in the garden in the sunshine yesterday.  It took less than 2 balls, though, so I shall probably make a larger one to use up more of this lovely quality yarn, which was a real bargain.  I do have some grey 4 ply in my stash, and I might just see whether the aran and 4 ply knitted together will make a chunky weight.....