A Simpler Sweater

When I finished knitting Franziska I knew that my next knitting project had to be something much simpler and quicker. I had patterns and I had yarn in hand, but new things caught my eye

The pattern:

kazahana_medium

Kazahana by Eri

I liked the mix of simplicity with enough to hold the attention; and I liked that it was a yoked sweater. That was something I had never knitted before.

I particularly liked one knitter’s version, knitted in a yarn that she praised highly and the like of which I had never used before.

The yarn:

10_1_32

Garnstudio DROPS Air

‘Drops Air Mix is an exciting “blown yarn” made of soft baby alpaca and warm merino wool. The structure of Air Mix is unique because the fibers are blown through a tube with air. This technique makes clothes made from Air Drops particularly light and airy.’

I was curious, the price was very reasonable, and so I placed an order with the ever reliable Wool Warehouse.

The yarn that arrived looked lovely and I was very pleased with the colour I chose. Fog (#10) is a lovely mix of blue and grey.

I started to knit. The pattern was simply but clearly written, and the few modifications I made were to suit me and the kind of sweater I wanted.

  • I added an extra repeat of the pattern to the yoke.
  • I changed the body from straight to A-line by adding four sets of increases.
  • I changed the hem to moss stich because I wanted a simple, narrow band. The pattern that the designer chose was lovely but it needed several pattern repeats to be effective and that made it too wide and too much of a focus for me
  • I added decreases to the sleeves so that they would taper. I liked the wide sleeves so I didn’t decrease too much, but I wanted a little shaping and the pattern had none.

The yarn was lovely to work with, though it wasn’t easy to undo, and the stitches weren’t easy to read. That was fine for this pattern but I wouldn’t want to knit anything too complex with it.

The yoke stitch pattern

It wasn’t too long until I had a finished sweater. It was warm and light, and quite different from anything else I had made.

There was just one problem.

The neckline was wide, and I liked that but it was a little bit too wide and it slipped off my shoulders. I don’t think its the fault of the design; I think that it was the combination of my narrow shoulders and my yarn choice.

I knew that there was a way of fixing that but I hadn’t ever tried it. I found a tutorial, I looked at it carefully, and then I added slip crochet just below the edge to limit the stretching of the neck band. It wasn’t easy, because the yarn is fuzzy and the pattern there had increases and decreases, but it is as even as I could make it – and it works!

It’s not an ideal solution but it works and it had taught me something. Next time I knit a wide neckline from the top down I’ll think more carefully about how it will sit and whether it will stretch and plan accordingly.

The Finished Object

I’m happy that I found a way to make a sweater that I might wear once in a while into a sweater I could wear whenever it was right for the weather.

Next up: I join the masses who have knit Carbeth!

The Story of Knitting Franziska

When Rowan 56  landed, a few years ago now, I saw lots of lovely knitted garments; and when I’d eliminated the unwearable and impractical, and the ones that would require more work or more finance than I felt was justified I was left with two.

2015-07-18

The sweater on the left – Heike – came first – because I knew it would be a quick knit, because I needed some simple knitting to follow a garment with unusual cabling, and because I knew I could use yarn I had already for two of the three colours.

I love the version I knitted, I’ve worn it lots, and it has worn very well.

I knew that Franziska – the garment on the right – would be a much bigger undertaking but I loved it and began to accumulate Felted Tweed DK.

I had to tweak the colour scheme a little, because the main colour – Mineral – is much too yellow for me. I chose Gilt – a lovely light, warm brown shade instead.

I waited patiently until I could pick up a pack in a sales.

There was a knock-on effect on the contrast colours.

I kept Bilberry – the purple shade

Jaffa – the orange shade – had to go, because it was too close to Gilt. I chose Rage – a lovely, rich red that would give me the contrast that I needed instead.

Those were easy decisions; but the decision about the third colour was trickier.

The original Watery – a sea blue – might have worked, but I wasn’t convinced that it was the best choice. I had a darker shade of blue – Maritime – left over from another project, and I thought it might work better. And I saw a shade of green – Pine – that I thought might work rather well.

Unable to make a decision, I put the three possibilities in front of  The Man of the House. He voted for green, and now that I have seen the results I can say that he made the right decision for me.

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I made a few small changes to the pattern.

  • I wanted my Fransiska to be not quite so oversized, so that it wouldn’t swamp me. Usually I knit the second size in Rowan patterns, but this time I deducted two pattern repeats from the smallest size.
  • Like most of those who knitted this pattern before me, I decided to knit in the round and pick up stitches to work the sleeves top down.
  • I planned a smaller neck-band. I love the cowl in the picture, but I don’t really have the neck to carry it off and I thought that something smaller and simpler would allow me to wear my finished Fransiska much more.
  • I tweaked the colour-work a little, to avoid working with three colours at the same time. I don’t rule out doing that one day, but I really didn’t think that the effect justified the complication in this pattern.

I had yarn, I had a plan, I just needed to start knitting.

The rounds were long and the bottom band was dull, but once I got into the colour-work I was happy. I hadn’t done any proper, colour-swapping, colour-work for years and I wanted to get back into it.

I tried the fashionable technique of holding one colour in each had but I didn’t like it, so I reverted back to holding the background colour over the index finger of my right hand and the dominant colour over the middle finger. It worked beautifully and I loved watching the pattern emerge.

I thought that progress would be quicker when I hit the simpler top half of the body, but it wasn’t because I didn’t have the same interest in seeing the pattern emerge.

I was anxious for a while about when I should split for the sleeves, but something that I read somewhere made me realise that it was just a question of mathematics.

  • There were 90 stitches at the top of the sleeves – 45 at the front and 45 at the back.
  • My gauge was 25 stitches and 30 rows = 10 cm, and so I needed to pick up five stitches for every 6 rows.
  • The meant that I needed to knit 54 rows after the split, and that made 18cm.

I pressed on, but I forgot something. I didn’t adjust the shoulders to take into account the fact the I had taken out two pattern repeats.It was lucky that the gap for my head to go through was big enough, and as I had been planning a smaller neck it actually worked rather well!

I really do not like knitting 2 x 2 rib, but I got through the sleeves and the neck.

And then I had to acknowledge that the hem was flipping up. I couldn’t leave it, and so I put in a lifeline, I cut the hem off, and I knitted it downwards, using the same size needles but reducing the stitch-count by 20%. Much better.

I did some steaming, paying particular attention to the colour-work band, and then I was finished.

(The colours are warmer than they look; but I got tired of waiting for good light to take a picture.)

I must confess that when I first tried my Fransiska on I wasn’t quite sure that it was me. But as I wore it more it really grew on me, and I came to love the way the heavier colour-work section at the bottom made it hang.

Maybe I could have made the sleeves a size smaller, but they are comfortable; and now I see a picture I realise that the shoulder seam needs a little more pressing

There’s always something!.

I’m calling this a success.

I’m pleased to have got back into knitting colour-work again, and I see more of it in my future.

But I’m knitting something on a rather simpler, smaller scale now.

 

 

Knitting Sedgemoor; or, It’s Not Over ’til It’s Over

This is the story of a piece of knitting that began nearly eight years ago, that hung around as a finished but unloved garment for six years, and that I picked up again and reworked into something that I really would wear last weekend.

It began when I fell in love with the garment on the front cover of an early issue of ‘The Knitter.’

It was the kind of knitting I am at home with – a garment knitted flat in pieces and rich with cables – and it was the kind of garment that would fit very well into my wardrobe.

It wasn’t long before I ordered the yarn and began to knit. The yarn – Fez by Debbie Bliss – worked beautifully knitted with needles rather smaller that those recommended on the ball band, It took time to knot so many cables and columns of twisted stitches but I was sure it would be worth it.

There was only one hitch.

It was only when I had knitted the back, one whole front and a good bit of another front that I realised I had worked one pattern repeat less that I should have before the armhole decreases. I put the pieces to one side for a while, but it wasn’t long before I went back, to rip out a great deal of hard work and re-knit.

It had to be done.

The sleeves were easy.

Luckily I saw the errata which said that the decreases at each end of the collar should be worked every row, not every other row as the magazine said.

I found some nice buttons, I did a little sewing and there it was.

It looked lovely, but after I’d worn it a few times I decided that the proportions were wrong. Maybe the sleeves should be narrower … Maybe the collar should be bigger …

My Sedgemoor lay in a chest until earlier this year, when I decided it was time to do some serious clearing out. I picked it up, I tried it on, and I saw it with fresh eyes.

The sleeves were generously cut, but they weren’t the problem. The collar was wrong!

At first I thought it was the cast-off that was the problem, It was very tight and it was pulling the collar in. I had more yarn, and so I unpicked it and did it again with a bigger needle. That was better, but I saw something else.

I didn’t like the look that the decreases that the designer chose for the collar –  decreasing a few stitches in from the edge – made those edges look a a little lumpy. I saw it on the pattern, and I saw it on Ravelry projects.

When I knitted the collar first time around I hadn’t learned about short rows, but with them in my knitting armory I realised that they were exactly what my collar needed.

The pattern is a 2 x 2 twisted rib, and so I decided that I would use yarn-over short rows, turning two stitches further in on every turn until the number of stitches between the turning points was the same as the number of stitches that pattern said I should have left at the end of the decreases.

I unripped the collar, I picked up the stitches again, and I did just that.

The difference is amazing.

The fabric is just a little more relaxed and the collar sits so much better now.

I’m not 100% happy, but I know that’s because I’ve learned a lot more about knitting in the years since I knitted this garment. And because fashions in knitwear and my tastes have evolved.

So I shouldn’t be thinking that it would have looked more polished with a tubular cast-on, that I could have mattress stitched the seams, that the collar could have been done completely differently …

I should be thinking that I have a useful addition to my working wardrobe, that the cables are gorgeous, that the wool is warm and soft, and that it seems to be developing a nice halo with hardly any piling.

You have to draw the line somewhere!

And I have a big project that is 90% finished that I must pick up again!

I should mention that the colour is a richer, darker shade than the photographs suggest, that the yarn is discontinued, and I’m not sure about the pattern. It’s not available individually but I’m sure that there are back issues of the magazine out there and the pattern was included in a special supplement with the Issue 100 more recently.

And, while I’m not going to change anything else,  I am thinking that if I come to a point when I know I’m unlikely to wear it much the body could make a lovely cushion ….

The Diary of a Completed Knitting Project

Scilly by Gemma Atkinson was my favourite pattern from Rowan 58. I loved the mixture of colour and texture. I waited for a while, because I knew it would be an expensive undertaking, I continued to love it, and so I began to accumulate the yarn I would need.

Scilly_2_medium2 (1)

The Magazine Picture

11-08-2016

First thoughts:

The pattern is simple but effective.

Thank you to those who suggested that the first stitch of every row should be slipped. With half the stitched slipped on each row of course the edge would frill if I followed the pattern and worked that stitch on every row.

I’ve changed the order of the stripes, because there was too little contrast between the first two colours used in the pattern – Bilberry and Tawny.

There was much I loved about this when I saw it in the magazine, but I don’t like the way two colours stand out and others blur.

And I prefer a five-colour repeat to the-in-to-a point-then out-to-a-point look. There is probably a better way of expressing that but I can’t think of it right now.

The last jumper I knitted with mohair has survived for three decades with a few wears a year, so my thinking for this one is that I don’t want this one to speak too loudly of a particular time or trend.

Felted Tweed was essential but I substituted Drops Kid Silk for Kidsilk Haze, because my budget is not unlimited and what I read about it was quite positive.

So far so good ….

Added Fuzziness Throughout

14-08-2016

Next thoughts:

It was all going swimmingly until I reached the Jaffa colourway. Much too yellow! I ditched that and tried a dark brown shade that was left over from my House Martin Hap. It was better but too dark, and so I thought again. Gilt felt right – not too many miles from the Jaffa but that bit darker and that bit less yellow. Currently waiting for the yarn to arrive and knitting a hat for my Woolly Dozen.

Other Colours Considered

22-08-2016

Well, the designer was right and I was wrong. Gilt is much lighter than I remembered, it didn’t look right and so I gave Jaffa a second chance. When I had knitted a whole stripe it looked much better, and so I’m going with it.

Original Colours / My Sequence 

14-09-2016

The colours make much more sense now that I’ve knitted my 15th stripe, and my perception of their effect has changed.

The pattern is lovely and logical, but it’s taken me more time to learn to read it than many other patterns.

This_One_medium2

14-10-2016

The back is done and the front is underway. I love the effect, but the fuzziness means I had to peer a lot at my knitting to see where to slip and where to work the stitch every time I picked my knitting up.

03-12-2016

Curses! I’d nearly finished the front when I realised I’d picked up the wrong needle and my gauge had changed from a few rows after the armhole shaping began. I will unrip but I can’t face all of the clinging fuzziness and colour changes right now. I’m going to knit something else for a while.

09-04-2017

Time to start again. I’ll put the front to one side and knit the sleeves, then I’ll have the momentum to get this thing done.

02-06-2017

I have sleeves! And I’ve taken the front back to the point where it went wrong.

23-06-2017

I’ve redone the front and it looks so much better now. This weekend I sew it up and knit the neckband; and then it’s done.

25-06-2017

Done! I am so, so glad that I wove in all the ends as I was going.

My Finished Object!

26-06-2017

Final thoughts:

I love the look of it and the fit is perfect. Well, the arms are a little tight, but not to the point that it’s a problem.

It’s incredibly warm.

One day I will master the art of finishing projects in the right season!

It shouldn’t have taken so long from start to finish, but there were times when I needed a break from the endless rows of the slip-stitch pattern, and my mistake with the front set me back for a while.

I made the second size and I found that I needed a little bit of an extra ball of Bilberry and that I used less than half of the last ball of the other four colours. I suspect that I needed the extra because I rearranged the stripes, but I would say that if you plan to knit this you should also plan for leftovers.

(The picture of the five colours further up the page is what I had left over.)

I stuck with the original colourway because I particularly liked it. I wouldn’t have been confident changing the whole colour scheme, but I’ve seen a couple of projects that have used shades of blue and grey and they look lovely.

The knitting wasn’t difficult, but have to say that you do need to be careful to keep gauge while you are slipping pairs of stitches, and you need to look quite carefully when you need to read your knitting.

I’m glad I knitted this sweater – and now I’m glad that it’s done and I can knit something completely different.

The Story of a Literary Knit

It began with the perfect skein of yarn.

It had wonderful provenance – it was Daisy Sock by Posh Yarn – 80% merino and 20% bamboo; it was named ‘Promenade’ – and I live on The Promenade; and because I saw a colour in the mix that was the best colour match I had ever seen for my collection of Virago Modern Classics.

I placed my order, and when it arrived it was just as lovely as I hoped. I had to rest it on that bookcase, and there it sat for a very log time. Partly because it has become part of the scenery and partly because I was never quite sure what I should do with it.

second-one

A month or so ago I was inspired by a knit-along. Picture This invited knitters to draw inspiration, in any for they chose, from a painting or a photograph or of any kind of image at all.

I’d been thinking along those sort of lines ever since I made my Nut Hap, and I have some big plans, but, because I have a sweater in progress that I really want to wear soon, I knew that this was time to keep things simple.

That skein caught my eye, and so I decided that the Virago bookcase would be my image, and that as I was in the middle of reading Dorothy Richardson’s ‘Pilgrimage’ I would knit her a shawl!

The pattern that I thought would suit her – and me – was Simmer Dim by Gudrun Johnson. It’s interesting without being obvious, feminine without being girly, and just a little bit different to the norm.

I love the traditional Shetland construction – the pattern begins with a garter stitch triangle, with yarn-overs at the end of each row to make the triangle grow and to create loops that you pick up after casting off your triangle, to knit the rest of your shawl outwards.

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It was lovely, mindless knitting, and my triangle was wonderfully stretchy. There really is something about garter stitch!

The next phase had bands of garter stitch and bands of stocking stitch, with lots of increases along the way, and changes of needle size that make the knitting look like rather more that it actually was.

The pattern was very well written. I don’t do this kind of knitting often, and I did find that  had the wrong number of stitches at one point, but it was easy to out things right and all was well at the end of the section.

The phase that came next was zig-zag lace. It was so simple, but I forgot what I was doing when the increases changed direction and went horrible wrong. It was my fault entirely – lack of concentration – so I went back and did it again and it came out perfectly.

All I had left was a picot bind-off. It was simple, it was effective, but it took ages.

Then I had a crumpled heap of knitting!

crumpled-heap

I wasn’t worried – I know that’s what you get when you knit on needles that are a little too big for it.

When I draped the shawl over the bookcase I was very pleased with it, and I was sure that it would grow beautifully when I blocked it.

unblocked

I am so glad that I bought some blocking wires, and that I just had to run them through, measure and pin them in place. I can’t say that it was quick, but it was definitely quicker than pinning out each picot.

Here’s the finished shawl, draped over the inspirational bookcase.

this-one

I can say that I like it, but I can’t quite say that I love it.

I think that the pattern and the yarn are mismatched. My yarn was very smooth, and I think a yarn with a little halo would help the increases to blend into the knitting a little more. And, because the yarn is very unforgiving, I can see a few little mistakes. Not things that many people would spot, but another knitter might, and I know they’re there.

(I knitted this same pattern years ago, in a yarn with a little mohair, and I love that version.)

More worryingly, the yarn snapped in a couple of places after blocking. It wasn’t that I over-stretched it. I was carfeul but it was my fault.

I really should have known better than to keep yarn in a room with an Aga for a long period of time, and, though there was nothing obviously amiss when I knitted, it wasn’t as lovely as I had thought it might be, and I think that it must have dried out rather more than was good for it.

I was able to repair the damage, but I realised that this probably wasn’t going to be a shawl for wearing.

Lesson learned!

I’m going to drape my new shawl over the bookcase.

I’ll think that I could unravel and re-knit it one day. But I probably won’t.

I’m glad that I finally knitted that skein; and, though it wasn’t quite what I planned, I rather like that it still adorns the Virago bookcase.

My sweater is progressing nicely.

And I have another literary knit in mind, but that’a another story for another day.

Happiness is Hap Shaped: I have been knitting!

You may recall that in my last A to Z post I said:

“I’m not really a shawl knitter but I am so taken with the history and the patterns in The Book of Haps.”

Since then I have become a shawl knitter, I’ve knitted my first hap, and I’m considering which pattern from the book I should knit next.

I should say that a shawl and a hap are not one and the same; the question of just what the distinction is is complex, but the general consensus seems to be that a hap is a more practical, everyday kind of wrap.

The book mixes knitting history with a wonderful range of hap patterns, and if that has you curious I’ll point you towards Ravelry and towards Hayley’s review of the book rather than ramble for too much longer.

Jen6_copy_medium2Many patterns called to me, but the pattern that called me loudest  was Nut-Hap by Jen Arnall-Culliford .

I loved that it was inspired by birds; the shaping resembling a wing, the tucks lying over one another like feathers, and the colours inspired by the nuthatch. I was pleased that it was a wonderfully wearable piece, knitted with Rowan Felted Tweed – a yarn I love. I was interested that it made use of techniques I kind of knew but could do with practicing – a tubular cast-on, short rows and tucks. But it was the prospect of finding my own bird and colour scheme – and a knitalong – that made it a must-start-right- now kind of project.

I knew what kind of bird I wanted. I wanted a one that would allow me to make my main colour a strong one. I didn’t want anything too exotic; I wanted a bird a might see one day on the beach or in the country. A few possibilities slipped away because the colours were too neutral or I couldn’t match them to the yarn, but it didn’t take too long for me to find my bird.

house-martin-18_medium2

The house martin was perfect. The lovely blue on the crown of this head and his back could be my main colour, and the tucks in creamy white, black and two shades of brown would complete the picture. I ordered yarn, I located two very long cables and the right sized tips, and when the yarn arrived I put aside my work in progress and stated straight away.

This wasn’t the largest thing I’ve knitted but it is definitely the longest, and I’ve never made a wrap from a sweater’s worth of yarn before. That was the only difficult thing, manoeuvring such long needles, particularly when stitches were being divided between the two or coming together again on one. The pattern suggested doing those things and working the stitches at the same time, but I found that very awkward and after a few incidents I decided to do one thing at a time. Arrange the stitches and then work them. That might have been a little slower, but it was so much easier.

The provisional cast-on gave a lovely edge, but it was a struggle with so many stitches. I hadn’t used the technique for a long time and, with the benefit of hindsight, I think I should have practiced on a smaller piece – a hat maybe – first. There are quicker methods – an alternate cable cast-on gives a quite similar result – but I do think that this one is worth the extra effort.

20160807_183222After that I was off, knitting miles and miles of rib with short-row shaping. The pattern suggested wrap and turn but I went for Japanese short rows. I’d been wary of them when a read about using strands of yarn as markers, but I learned a while ago that I could use lockable stitch markers of safety-pins instead, and that they were much simpler that I thought. I tried them and I loved them; particularly that because they were marked I knew exactly where that were.

That stage took ages; I liked that look of it, I enjoyed seeing that shape emerge, but I was so happy when it was over.

The tucks were so simple – separate the knits and the purls, work stocking stich on the knits, bring them back together to create the tuck, then work a few rows of rib and start the process again with a new colour. This phase was so much quicker!

The piece is completed by grafting the knits and purls together. Again the process took time, but it was definitely worth it. The sequence of moves had never quite lodged in my head but after bringing so many stitches together I think it’s fixed now.

20160807_183121The finished hap? I’ve never knitted anything else quite like it, I love it, and I appreciate what I’ve learned from it.

I took it out to the Morrab Gardens to photograph a day before the end of the knit-along. And since then the weather has either been too warm to wear it or too damp and grey to take decent pictures.

I’ve thought of knitting another one in different colours, but if I do that won’t be for quite some time.

Because I realised that what I really wanted was to take more colour schemes from nature. I don’t have a good eye for that sort of thing, and I am so pleased that this project taught me that I can look at the world around me and put colours together that way. A few days ago, when I was out with Briar, I took a picture of the beach at low tide: blue sea, brown and grey rocks, yellowy-green seaweed …. I can match the colours and I have a pattern in mind ….

There has been knitting ….

…. but there hasn’t been a knitting post for quite some time.

I’ve knitted half a dozen hats that I really must round up and photograph, I’ve knitted half of a complex garment that I had second thoughts about and put on hold, but now – finally – I have a finished and photographed project to show off a little.

Shot_01_0133_flat_300_medium2I’ve always liked the look of PomPom Quarterly, but it wasn’t until last autumn that I saw enough that I really wanted to knit to justify ordering a copy. The magazine the arrived was beautifully wrapped and presented, the extra content – over and above patterns – was lovely, though not quite enough to justify a purchase without at least one pattern I had to have.

The pattern that I had to have in last autumn’s issue was Jean by Nadia Crétin-Léchenne; a classic sweater with just enough interesting touches to make it modern and distinctive.

The recommended yarn looked lovely, but I was aware that I had several sweaters worth of double knitting stashed away, and so I pulled a pack of Rowan Purelife Organic Wool out of the airing cupboard. It’s not a favourite yarn – it’s not at all soft and strands resist clinging together – but I thought it would suit the pattern.

DetailThe pattern was clearly written and easy to follow. The cable was simple and once I saw how it worked I hardly had to look at the pattern. I was happier with my second attempt at top-down circular sleeves than the first. I knitted them flat and blanket-stitched the seam, which I find much easier than knitting sleeves attached to a body in the round.

I changed just one thing.

I loved the vertical garter stitch bands, at the bottom and at the cuffs, but the instructions for attaching them were different. The first required picked up stitches and then knitting up the body; the second required knitting in live stiches as you knitted the band. Both valid methods but they looked different, and so when I made my cuffs I knitted the garter stich bands separately, picked up stitches along the edge and grafted those stitches to the live stitches.

It might sound cumbersome, but it was worth doing for the effect.

(I should say that I may have misinterpreted the instructions at some points, because none of the Ravelry project notes I’ve read mention this.)

mainI thought about changing the neck – I’ve seen some lovely versions of this sweater with a simpler, shorter neckband – but I like a cowl, I had just enough yarn, and so I went for it.

(It helped my decision when I realised that the cowl would cover the join and so I could knit in the live stitches around the neck rather than picking up and grafting.)

I have just one more thing to say about the pattern. My gauge was spot-on, and so I can’t quite understand why it took me a pattern repeat more than the picture in the pattern to reach the required length before starting the armhole shaping. That bothered me for a while, but when I looked at projects on Ravelry and counted repeats I saw that I was in line with other knitters. It does seem strange though.

But I’m rambling.

I just have to say that I am pleased with the finished sweater. I wasn’t entirely pleased when it came off the needles, but a wash and a gentle blocking gave it a little more softness and drape and that made all the difference.

It’s going to be a useful addition to my wardrobe for early spring and late autumn.

I drifted away from the project to do other things, but I’m glad I came back and got this done.

(I know why I drifted away. This is the project that made me realise that I’m happier knitting in pieces and seaming than working on a big piece of knitting in the round on circular needles. The novelty of not having to sew has worn off!)

I can justify starting another sweater now.

DogI must find those hats and photograph them.

One day I’ll invest in a decent camera.

But, for now, I’ll leave you with a picture of Briar. Because she followed me out into the garden to see what I was doing, and she was puzzled ….

Cables + Decorative Darning = I Love It + I don’t Want to do It Again

It’s been a while since I had a new piece of knitting to present, but I have one now.

The knitting was straightforward, and I finished that a few weeks ago. The seaming was easy. It was the decorative darning that slowed me down. It wasn’t difficult at all but it was dull, and I had to focus and not look up in a way that I don’t with knitting to keep it correct and reasonably neat.

It was worth it – and I love the finished effect – but never again!

I should recap.

I had three balls of Rowan Felted Tweed Aran in a lovely shade of green left over when I finished my Heike. I knew what I wanted to do straight away. I wanted to order some more yarn and knit a lovely pattern that I’d seen on the cover of The Knitter.

(It was written for a different yarn, but when I looked it up on Ravelry I was pretty sure that the substitution should be fine. And it was.)

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Gladioli by Emma Vining

“This sweater was inspired by the beautiful Gladioli that I watched slowly emerge from tiny buds to gorgeous flowers. The sweater has a centre panel of three gladioli ‘stalks’ with different coloured buds. The buds are made using cables and the colour is added after knitting and blocking using a weave darning technique. The base of each bud is then closed by wrapping the cable stitches to pull them together. “

I love the designer’s ethos – and I have several more of her patterns in mind for the future.

This pattern was very cleverly thought out and designed. All I did was follow the pattern exactly as it was written, and my only problem was that I didn’t spot from the start that there were errors in the chart in the magazine and that I needed to check the errata. After that it was plain sailing, and I saw the lovely logic of the pattern.

I used some pink Rowan All Seasons Cotton that was left over from a cardigan I knitted years and years ago for the buds. It took more yarn than I thought it would, and so did the wrapping at the base of the buds.

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I used some pink Rowan All Seasons Cotton that was left over from a cardigan I knitted years and years ago for the buds. It took more yarn than I thought it would, and so did the wrapping at the base of the buds.

The wrapping pulled in the fabric in those places, so the sweater looks a little odd when it’s laid out, but it works when it’s worn. Mine is quite fitted, and I think it needed to be to smooth out the fabric.

I know I could block it, but I like it being a little 3-d, and I’m worried I’d block the life out of it. I think I’ll see what happens the first time I have to wash it ….

As things stand I’m happy. I like it, the fit is exactly what I hoped it would be, and yesterday it passed the ‘mother’s knitting home test’.

Now I just need the temperature to dip just a little more!

And then there was a cardigan …..

….. a very simple cardigan.

The idea of knitting a simple cardigan really appealed, because a couple of my everyday cardigans had fallen by the wayside, and because I was still in ‘I want easy knitting’ mode after spending so many hours working on an heavily cabled sweater for the man of the house.

It started with the yarn – Rowan Cocoon – which I loved from the first moment we met. I loved it for its lovely colours, for its bulky squishiness, and for its soft fuzziness.

That was a few years ago now, and because the yarn was expensive and I was sensible, I invested in a single ball in the loveliest shade of blue – a shade that was named for the sea and would have spoken to me of the sea even if I didn’t know its name. I knitted into a hat, which I loved then and I still love now.

Last year I spotted a pattern that needed just six balls of this lovely yarn. I searched for the best price, I placed an order, but when it came to time to knit I realised that I didn’t love the pattern quite enough, and I put the yarn to one side until the right pattern arrived. It arrived when I looked back through Rowan 42, in the shape of a simple, wearable cardigan called Neaty. The six balls I had would be the main colour and I just needed to source a couple of balls in a contrasting shade. That was easily done.

And that was how I started another simple garment.

20150812_182955I have to make a few project notes:

I made a size smaller that I would usually, because I knew that the yarn would drape and grow; and I made the sleeves a little narrower because they looked rather too wide in the magazine photograph. I also went for smaller buttons and buttonholes and more of them – eight rather than the four that the pattern suggested. All of that gave me the fit I was looking for.

I knitted the body in one piece. I pondered knitting the sleeved top down to avoid have to set in sleeves for a garment knitted in bulky yarn, but I didn’t. I wish I had, because I found it impossible to get the seams as tidy as I would like, and in the end I gave up.

The yarn is lovely, but it does shed fine hairs. That doesn’t worry me unduly – because I’m used to living with a dog who sheds hair – but I’m waiting to see how it stands up to being worn and handled before I say that I’d work with it again.

The yarn is at its loveliest in the 2 x 2 ribbing, and I think it would make cables. I know the pattern I’d like to knit, I know I could make it seamlessly, but I know that need garments for spring and autumn more that I need garments for the depths of winter, and so on to the ‘maybe one day’ list it goes.

Back to practicalities.

The yarn quantities in the pattern are slightly off. I knew from other knitters’ notes on Ravelry that I would need two not one balls of the contrast colour. I used all of one ball and a little less that a half of the other. What I wasn’t expecting was to have more than a ball of the main colour left.

The pattern is not badly written, but in a few places it is a little ambiguous, and because the stitch count isn’t given too often I had to do some calculations to make sure I was doing the right thing at the top of the sleeves. It wasn’t a problem, but it made me appreciate the extra trouble that many designers go to, to make things crystal clear.

The finished product isn’t what I’d call going-to-work smart, but it is what I’d call round-and-about smart.

That’s partly down to the pattern and the yarn, but it’s also partly down to me. Because it was easy I knitted quickly and I can see one or two stitches that are a little misshapen. And I nearly had a disaster at the very last. When I finished sewing on the buttons I couldn’t find my little scissors and so I picked up the big ones. And I accidentally snipped through a bit of the fabric, just above the bottom ribbing. I panicked, but I caught it before it unravelled too far, and I fixed it. The nature of the yarn and the fabric is such that I can see it when I look closely, but I don’t think anyone else would – unless they were a knitter with a critical eye.

My final verdict is that it isn’t perfect but I like it, and I think I’m going to like wearing it.

And I’m going to put my new cardigan away for the winter, I’m going to wave goodbye to this kind of knitting, and move forward with some more interesting projects.

Cables and colourwork ….