Knitters, check your dye lots!

I had planned to write a Pattern Radar post this week, but I realise that those posts rely heavily on using Ravelry links. Given the situation with Ravelry at the moment, I’ve decided to postpone the post for awhile. (For those who are wondering what this is about, there are serious accessibility issues for some users on Ravelry following an upgrade; I find it very sad and hope they resolve the problem soon.)

Pattern Radar posts take a very long time to write (you can find them by clicking on the Pattern Radar tag on the right margin). Ditching my plans to write one this weekend means lots of extra time for knitting! I am working exclusively on the Vodka Lemonade cardigan now, as it is a gift for Leah and I want to be able to pop it in the post this week. I am getting close:

This design is by Thea Colman, and is the first of her designs I’ve knit. I thought it would be super fast since it is in DK weight yarn, but for some reason it seems to be taking forever. I only need a few more days to get it done, but my mind is wandering to other projects, and I’m finding it hard to be monogamous. The yarn is from John Arbon Textiles, also a first, and it seems lovely and soft. However, I have a major beef. I ordered 5 skeins of the yarn for this project, and one of them was not from the same dye lot as the others.

I am furious at myself for not checking the ball bands, and pretty mad at the yarn store for sending me odd dye lots. Its hard for me to get a photo today to show this because of the light, but to me the odd skein is very apparent – I started it about 5 inches down from the collar and it finishes just at the sleeve separation.

I am trying to overcome my perfectionist tendencies and to remember that a hand-knitted sweater is supposed to have character. We all believe that, right? (There is another, very small, mistake in this sweater which stands out like a strobe light to me, but I figure if I don’t mention it, maybe it’s not there.)

I thought you might like this photo which Emma sent me of a tree near her apartment:

The back garden beckons! Have a good weekend, and don’t forget to check your dye lots!

Lost and found

Not too long ago, I reported that I had lost a half-finished project – the Match and Move Shawl by Martina Behm [Ravelry link]. Here is a progress photo of my shawl:

And here is the pattern photo:

© Martina Behm

This project has been a bit of a disaster from the start (no fault to Martina). The pattern has a unique shape, formed by having an initial section with increases on both sides, and a second section with increases on one side only. The pattern has a formula for weighing the yarn so that you know when to switch to Section 2. As I detailed in this post, I was on a business trip with no scale available and I kept blindly knitting along even when I suspected it was time to change. It was also apparent that if I had switched at the correct point, the shawl would have been too short.

So, I determined to buy another skein of yarn that would work with these three shades. I ordered one on-line, in the hopes that it would work, as detailed in this post, but then couldn’t find the shawl at all. I tore apart the house looking for it, to no avail. Well, I’m happy to say that I’ve found it! Where, you may ask, was it hiding? Why, right in with my stash yarn where I had searched multiple times! (Head thunk!) I’m also happy to report that I think the new yarn looks fantastic with the other three:

Now I just have to decide how much to rip back and how to incorporate the new colour. Before I decided to buy a new skein, I was trying to use up every available bit of the yarn I had, and I did a bunch of calculations on how many rows I could knit with each of the three shades before running out.

It was an interesting exercise, in which I tried to keep the ordering of green-pink-grey but vary the thickness of the stripes, in order to squeeze every possible bit of length out of the yarn I had. This led to me breaking the pattern up and knitting shorter blocks of colour, as you can see below:

One of the things I really like about this pattern is the big, bold stripes, however, so I think these narrower stripes will end up getting ripped out. And I will probably have to rip back a stripe or two (or three) in order to add in the new shade in a way that looks a bit more organic and less like I ran out of yarn.

I am so happy to have found the project, and also that the new yarn works so well with the others! Now, it’s back to my Vodka Lemonade (the cardi, not the drink!) which I am determined to finish before moving on to something else.

Hatcher

I finished knitting Hatcher a few weeks ago, and given the cold and overcast weather we have been experiencing, I’ve had lots of opportunities to wear it.

Hatcher (Ravelry link) was designed by Julie Hoover. I have long wanted to knit one of her patterns; this one has been in my queue since the pattern was released nearly four years ago. It is a very wearable, comfortable, and smart pullover.

I like her easy-going style and I like her attention to small details. Take for example, the double decreases (using a technique I had not seen before), used at the armscythes and sleeves, which provide for an excellent fit and beautiful full-fashioned tailoring.

The folded over neckline is also brilliant; it really makes a difference to the finished tee:

I knitted this using Kettle Yarn Beyul DK, a blend of Baby Yak, SIlk and Merino. It is luxurious, with a brilliant sheen and a soft feel reminiscent of cashmere. I enjoyed knitting with this yarn immensely. However, I am very worried about the potential to pill. A Raveler alerted me to her experience with the yarn (“very pilly”), and having worn this a few times, I am afraid it might be true. I will withhold judgement until it gets more wear and report back to you.

The real draw of the pullover is the cabling, which has perfect dimensions and really sets off both front and back:

I highly recommend this pattern; it is a quick knit, and very well-designed. I had some troubles getting the neckline to hit at the right spot of the cable pattern (detailed in this post), but I think the problems were more a result of my slightly-off row gauge, than any problems with the pattern.

I look at these photos and all I can think is “Yikes! Covid hair”! Here is the Covid mask to go with it:

I am really struggling with this new WordPress editor. This and being in a bit of a funk means I have been posting less. But never fear, I am knitting away as always.

Linen and tractors

Today, Doug and I drove out to the farm to pick up fresh produce. We shop weekly at Blue Tin Produce, a fantastic farm with a small farm shop and cafe, a short drive away from our home through lovely countryside. Before Covid, we used to sit outside of the shop on a sunny Sunday and have a coffee; now, it is a lifeline to the freshest produce and specialty foods, safely acquired. As we pulled up today, on a drizzly, chilly day in July, I realised three things: (1) I was wearing one of my hand-knitted sweaters, (2) it was Wednesday, and (3) it had been some time since I wrote a Wearability Wednesday post. And, ta-da!, a post is born.

In Wearability Wednesday posts, I re-visit a knitted garment and comment on its wearability and also its durability, paying attention to how I style it and wear it, and how it has aged. You can find all of these posts (in reverse chronological order) by following this tag.

This is a linen pullover which I knitted in 2015. You can see the newly-finished sweater, and read about some small modifications, in this blog post. The design is called Sel Gris [Ravelry link], and is by Claudia Eisenkolb. Here is one of the photos from that post:

The design incorporates some really nice details at the neckline, and ribbed sleeves which are picked up and knit down. It is a nice twist on a basic summer tee. I wear this one with jeans (as here) or shorts, depending on the weather. As it is 100% linen, it is perfect for steamy hot summer days, but it also works well on a drizzly day like today. I had lots of fun posing with the collection of old tractors at the Blue Tin.

I knit this with Shibui Knits Linen, a chainette style fingering-weight linen yarn, which has since been discontinued. However, Shibui Reed, also a 100% linen with a chainette structure, substitutes for this yarn. I have seen the Reed, and I think they are pretty much identical in feel. If you plan to use this yarn yourself, you may wish to read my post, The gauge swatch lies! , describing my first attempt at this pullover, before you cast on. Linen is hard to knit with; this one in particular I found to be a bit hard on the hands, as the texture adds some scratchiness. Once washed, however, the fabric becomes softer, and is quite comfortable to wear. I have washed this one many times, and it hasn’t warped like linen often does; you can see here that it still drapes really well:

I think for a 5 year-old sweater that has been washed and worn, thrown into suitcases, dressed up and down, and survived blasts of sand and salt water on beach walks, it still looks pretty good.

I have knitted a number of summery tees and tanks over the years, and this one has lasted a bit better than most. I have also tried a number of different linens and I find that I am usually unhappy with the linen pulling out of shape. This linen tee has kept its shape (better than I have!). I should note that, unlike many knitters, I don’t throw linen knits into the dryer; I’ve always dried this flat.

Wishing you all some fresh air and countryside, and maybe some linen and tractors thrown in for good measure!

Making progress

I have been working away at the Vodka Lemonade cardigan; you can see it is starting to take shape:

It is such a lovely pattern and has a cute vintage feel to it. The details are beautiful and it is fun to knit. I am now getting close to where I can separate the sleeves and the rows are very long – nearly 400 stitches on the needles. It makes good TV knitting.

I am also very nearly finished with Hatcher. I sewed in the sleeves and they are perfect. All that remains is to add the ribbing at the neckline and to give it a bath and a light block. Here is a teaser photo, but next week I hope to bring you some modelled shots.

Doesn’t it look great? I really love this one.

That’s all for now. I’m headed back to my book, some knitting, and a pile of freshly baked blueberry scones! Keep well!

Complications

I am having complications in multiple spheres.

Frozen shoulder. I have been diagnosed with a frozen shoulder. Working from home has not been easy on my back, neck, and shoulders. I spend way too many hours in on-line meetings, classrooms, and conversations. I don’t get up and move as much as I do at the office and often hours will have passed before I notice. Doug bought me a stand-up desk with hydraulics so that I can alternate between standing and sitting while working at my desk. This has helped, but the damage to the shoulder was already done. My physio was closed for 3 months and has just re-opened so I hope that a solution is on the way. (I know what you want to ask: can I still knit? Yes, but in a limited way.)

Wifi and WordPress. We have been having issues with our broadband, and in particular have extremely slow upload speed, so I can’t really load any photos. I am also struggling with some WordPress issues – trying to get used to their new editor, and also having a bug of some sort which doesn’t allow me to edit photos (WordPress has tried to help me, but there is something weird going on). There may be some font issues happening too, so let me know if things don’t look right on your end.

Whichever knitting needle I need at any one time, is the only one I don’t seem to have. Doug claims that this is a law of physics.

The world is going to hell in a hand basket. The arctic is melting, the pandemic is spreading, the economy is in serious trouble, I am worried about job security, and I can’t stop reading the news from the US, which is like watching a train crash in slow motion. Even Ravelry has exploded this past week. (I will say it now, and you can all hate me: I like the new Ravelry. I have used it exclusively since roll-out and it is getting better every day. It is clear and sharp and has great functionality. Do they need to make sure that it is accessible? Absolutely. Did they screw up their roll-out? Without a doubt. Do they need a course in change management? I think they’re getting one right now the hard way.)

Happy place. With all of the bad stuff going on right now, I have to say that knitting is still a happy place for me. I hope it is for you too. This blog is still a happy place for me, and as long as it stays that way, I will keep writing. Sometimes I think it is crazy to write posts about knitting when the world is going mad, but everyone needs a happy place, no? Wherever it is, even if its in your head, I hope you spend some time in a happy place today.

New stuff and some cool projects

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a cooperative effort between seven small independent yarn shops – iKnit7.  I made purchases at three of the shops during their week-long extravaganza and now have some new stuff to show you.  Here it is:

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I decided to try two new-to-me yarns.  The yellow yarn is John Arbon Knit by numbers, a DK wool, in the shade KBN53.  There are 5 of these skeins, the rest are wrapped up in the polka-dot wrapping.  I plan to use this to knit a cute little cardi to wear with summer dresses.  The pattern, Vodka Lemonade, is designed by Thea Colman:

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© 2012 Caro Sheridan

The yarn is totally lovely – very soft and plump and cushy with great definition.  Here is my swatch:

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I bought the John Arbon yarn and three sets of KnitPro Zing DPNs from A Yarn Story in Bath.  They also sent me a cute project bag.

The green yarn is Kalinka 21, a blend of 55% linen, 45% wool, produced in Sweden, and purchased from Ginger Twist Studio, a small yarn shop in Edinburgh.  I was intrigued by the idea of a wool-linen blend, and loved this spring-y green.  I plan to use it to knit Tulpe, a pullover designed by Lisa Hannes:

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by maliha

I was also sent some lovely gifts by Ginger Twist – a project bag, two balls of yarn (the brown and beige), and some cool ceramic buttons.

From the third shop, Knit with Attitude, a bought three sets of Knit Pro Zing circulars, and a fantastic project bag from Kelly Connor designs.  The bag is big; large enough to accomodate a big project.  Here it is with the whole kit and kaboodle from the first photo stashed inside, and room to boot:

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I’m really happy with my new stuff, and particularly pleased to support small shops during this difficult time.  It is also fun to have new yarns to work with and a few new projects on my needles.

How many times can you re-knit a neckline?

Question: How many times can you re-knit a neckline?

Knitter: Is that a rhetorical question?

I had been chugging along on my Hatcher pullover when I hit some neckline issues.  Here is the pattern photo:

hatcher pattern photo

© Julie Hoover

You can see that, in order to get the best visual appeal to the cable pattern, you need to bind off for the neckline at the proper point, preferably halfway through the diamond motif that occurs where the cables cross.

The sweater is knit from the bottom up in the round, and then stitches are bound off for the armholes and the back and front are finished separately, knitting back and forth.  I completed the back and was working on the front.  For my size, I was supposed to bind off for the neckline 5.5 inches above the armhole bind-off row.  That would mean that there was sufficient slope for the front of the neck.

Unfortunately, when I reach 5.5 inches, I had only made the first cross of the pattern.  In other  words, the pattern going up the middle looked like columns of ribbing at that point, with the centre two columns just barely crossing.  Nonetheless, I bound off there, and continued up the sides of the neck, and let me tell you, it looked stupid! (Unfortunately, no photographic evidence remains of this attempt.)  It was clear to me that I had two approaches I could take.

  1. Rip out both back and front down to before the separation at the armhole, knit another 6-8 rows so that I can be at the right point in the pattern when it is time to bind off the neck line.  (Smart knitters will note that this approach would have been facilitated by doing the appropriate measuring before I separated the front and back.)  This would also make the sweater longer, and it is already fairly long.
  2. Rip out the few rows on the front down to just before the bind-off for the neck, and then knit a few more rows in pattern.  This will mean significantly less ripping, but will also mean that the neckline will be raised by however many rows I need to add.  I was worried about the front neckline being raised far too high.  I also didn’t want to then compensate by raising the back, as that would make the armscythe too deep.

I went for the second method (surprise, surprise!) and knitted more rows of the pattern, enough so that there was another set of crossed cables, but the outside cable columns had still not crossed.  I took a photo this time:

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You can see that it still looks too early.  If I had put the neckline ribbing in there, the pattern wouldn’t look finished: it would lose the strong architecture and symmetry that makes this pullover so striking.  So, I ripped it out and put in four more rows, enough so that the outside set of cables had crossed.

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I think that this is a pretty good position for the cable pattern at the neckline. However, it now means that the neckline is considerably higher, which means that I had to re-think all of the shapings at the side of the neck, because the slope of that curve is now significantly shorter.  I will not tell you how many rows I ended up pulling out and re-knitting in order to get something that looks as if it might work.  (Hint: it was a lot.) Here is where it stands now:

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It still looks to me as if there is not enough depth to the front neckline (especially once the ribbing gets added).  I won’t truly know if it will look right until I get it blocked and put the neckline ribbing in and try it on.

Yesterday I whipped out a sleeve:

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I knitted this sleeve while watching Groundhog Day on TV for the umpteenth time.  This film seems to have taken on new meaning since the pandemic and self-isolation.  I regret that I have not learned to play jazz piano in this interim (nor made myself into a nicer person, although hopefully I had a head start on Phil).

Keep safe everyone, in this topsy-turvy world.

Black Lives Matter

I was sitting this afternoon, writing a post.  It went like this:

I don’t feel comfortable writing here about knitting without acknowledging that there is something hugely important going on.  The world has been shocked and appalled by the murder of George Floyd and many have been galvanised into action, even at a time when pandemic makes this protest doubly dangerous.  George’s face is now known all over the world, and his death is sparking protest and internal debate.  But George is just one of millions who have been affected by racist and violent policing, by inequalities in health and housing and education, and more generally by being black in a racist world. Systemic bias and racism affect every aspect of life.  Black lives matter.

As someone who lives outside of America, I know that these images of a highly militarised police force attacking citizens involved in mostly peaceful protest have been shocking.  In Europe, where fascism has shaped the collective memory, these images are especially chilling. These are not the images of a free and democratic country. These are images of authoritarian regimes, of fascism, and of war.

The power and determination of the protesters gives me hope that maybe this time we will get things right.  But it should not have taken people risking their lives by protesting during a global pandemic, one which unequivocally effects black and poor people worse than it does any other group, for white people to decide that things needed to change. Real radical reform needs to happen and it is overdue by more than three centuries. We created the system, we can dismantle it.

And, then, just as I had gotten that far, I heard Trump say this:

 “Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying, ‘This is a great thing that’s happening for our country.’ This is a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This a great, great day in terms of equality.”

My blood is boiling over, I am so mad.  Trump is so tone deaf, and so utterly venal, that I am more appalled than I thought possible. And it’s not just Trump – he speaks for a large contingency of Americans, and is supported and enabled by Republicans in the Senate and House.  When the President of the United States uses hateful rhetoric, he legitimises it.  

For all of us, we must open our eyes and really see. It isn’t that we did not know there were injustices – we just looked the other way and assumed that it would get fixed. It didn’t. It is time to move out of our comfort zones. We must listen to and amplify voices of colour and acknowledge their experiences as truth. We must educate ourselves and confront bias, including our own. And we must step up.

Lost or stolen or strayed!

Do you remember this?

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I started this shawl in March 2019 while in South Africa on a business trip.  It is the Match & Move shawl by Martina Behm.  It took me only a few weeks to realise that I had sadly miscalculated the yarn weights (due in part to having no scale with me on the trip and in part to being delusional – documented in the aptly titled post Numbers don’t lie).

I ended that post by noting that it was time to start ripping.  In fact, I put the project in a bag and tucked it away.  The yarn is from The Plucky Knitter, repurposed from a kit I purchased eons ago to make the Colour Affection shawl.  This same yarn is carried by Loop in London, but they had a limited selection and it was near impossible to determine from the computer screen whether any of the shades might fit.  The best approach, I determined, was to take the project with me to Loop and try out combinations in person.  This never happened.

Eventually, I noticed that Loop had gotten more stock, and there was one colour which I thought might be interesting with the others.  I decided that I was never going to get into town (this was well before Covid-19, so was very prescient).  I purchased it on-line with the thought that I would make a pair of mitts with it if it didn’t work for the shawl.

Here is the yarn:

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Does it work?

I don’t know.  I can’t find the project.

It is GONE.  LOST.  NOT TO BE FOUND ANYWHERE.

One of the things about being in lockdown is that I have actually sort-of organised my stash.  (Stash organisation does not count as housecleaning and is therefore still an acceptable behaviour.)  Here it is:

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In the process of stacking it all here, I looked in every box.  The shawl is not there.  I have decided that the only thing which might make the project show up will be the act of posting that I have lost it.  Wish me luck!

(Extra points for getting the reference in the title.)