“Off to the Knitting Project Naughty Corner with you!”

In my last post, I talked about the problems I was having with my current project which boiled down to a mis-match between pattern and yarn.  I am pursuing a devious plan with respect to that project, but will instead here reveal another project misadventure.  A few weeks ago, Doug was away on a business trip to China.  I thought it was a perfect opportunity to try to get started on a secret project for him.  I had seen some lovely mini-skeins of 4-ply Hampshire yarn from The Little Grey Sheep, at Loop in London (or, rather, on their website).  I bought one in virtually every colour they had in stock for some experimenting:

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I had decided to make a striped button-down vest.  I did the requisite swatching for tension, worked out the math, spent a very long time doing 1×1 ribbing for the waistband, and then began striping.  What I failed to do was to actually swatch some striping sequences to see if these colours worked together, and if so, how they would work best.  I blame this on the fact that I wanted to get a start on actually knitting the garment while Doug was away.

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Here is where I got to when I had the unfortunate image of a 1970s kitchen pop into my mind.  Those of you who are old enough may remember these avocado, burnt orange and mustard colour schemes that dominated every kitchen of the era?  It gave me a shudder and I just couldn’t knit anymore without seeing those kitchens.  Among the mini-skeins there were also a number of pinks and purples, but these didn’t seem to work with the other colours either:

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What to do?  I mentioned it on Ravelry and most people said (rather sensibly) “Why don’t you ask Doug?”  So I did.  Doug actually has no problem with the colour schemes, or including the pinks and purples.   His criticism: “Stripes are boring: couldn’t I do something to liven them up?”  You know all those women knitters who complain that their husbands only want boring garments?  Clearly, I do not have that problem.

I worked out an interesting way to liven it up, which would involve my needing more of some of the colours, and then went on-line and discovered that those colours were all sold out.  Grrr…..

So, what to do?  “Off to the Knitting Project Naughty Corner with you!”  We will see if you look better after a prolonged period of time-out.  (Most likely I will rip and re-purpose this very lovely yarn.)

While I am on the topic of bad news, I am half-way through a two-week business trip to Johannesburg.  I got sick the moment I arrived.  It is cold here and overcast.  I have a heavy teaching load and am feverish.  I am in a hotel room by myself.  I am too tired at night to knit.  Boo hoo.

Not wanting to drown in self-pity, however, I will end this post by showing you some pretty new yarn.

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This is a fingering weight 75% wool and 25% silk blend hand-dyed by Dye for Yarn, in the gorgeous colour Fading Stormy Night.  Beautiful, no?

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It is for a special new project which I intended to knit here in Jo’burg.  So far, not happening, but tomorrow is Saturday and maybe the knitting gods will smile on me.

Hitting some snags

It is a beautiful weekend and I plan to enjoy it and not think too much about all of the stalled knitting projects needing a fix.  But, I will do a quick post to show why I’m stalled.  I have hit a few problems with my Sunbird Top.  I decided to knit this with Carol Feller’s new yarn, Nua, which is a blend of wool, yak and linen.  Although I hit the gauge pretty much smack on, I am not convinced that it is the right yarn for this pattern.  I thought that the linen content would make it a breezy, spring-like fabric, but in fact it knits up warmer than I had anticipated.  It is a lovely yarn, but maybe not the best for this project.  (Although, I will withhold judgement until it’s done.)

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There are some additional problems, however.  First, as you can see above, there is some significant curling on the bottom edge.  This is really not making me happy or confident.  Although blocking should help to fix it, some other aspects of the construction may exacerbate the problem.  The pattern has a bit of lace on the side:

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The funny little shape at the end of the lace will not stay that way; the edges are sewn back against the lace to form a neat curved edging that is supposed to look like this:

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© Interweave / George Boe

I think it will take some significant blocking effort to get mine to look like this, and I worry that sewing up the edges to produce this curve will make the curling even worse by pulling the cast-off edge tighter.  And, as I think you can see in the photos, the yarn that I am using isn’t drapey enough for this pattern, at least not while knit at this gauge.

The second issue has to do with size. I started knitting it in a size 46 to give plenty of ease, and then after putting the front and back together to knit the body in the round (this is knit top-down) I decided it had too much ease, and cut back the number of stitches cast on under the arms.  Thus, it is really knit in two sizes – one above the chest and a different one below, and I am not convinced this was the right move.  The back and shoulders seem to fit reasonably well:

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However, I don’t feel as if I have the ease and drape it needs over the body of the garment.  (By the way, for those who notice such things: this is me.  I have had a rather major hair cut!)

Third, I am having “tear-out-my-hair” issues with the sleeves.  The pattern calls for stitches to be picked up all the way around the sleeve cap, and then to use short rows to knit down.  This is done using DPNs.  I cannot even begin to tell you how much I am hating this and how awkward it feels to me.  Not only that, but now that I am most of the way done with one sleeve cap, I can see that I have too many stitches and the cap is puckered!

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It took me three evenings of lackluster knitting to knit this portion of this sleeve!  I hate doing it and it looks crappy.  So, my next move will be to rip this out, and then to knit the sleeves flat and sew them in.  I know that I could do both sleeves, and the setting in, in no time that way, so why should I struggle with knitting it this way?

As you can see, I am unhappy with this.  I am hoping that if I knit the sleeves flat, and then give this a good soak and a block, all of these issues will disappear, but in the meantime, I have lost all of my mojo for this project.  And there is a little voice in the back of my head saying “Go ahead and rip the whole thing and re-purpose the yarn into a pattern which will suit it better!”  What do you think?  Rip or persevere?

In the interest of full disclosure, here is a shot of my new hair:

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I was prepared to write about another project – one which I switched to in order to cheer me up, only to have it kill my mojo even further – but I think instead I will go enjoy the sunshine!  I hope that your adventures this weekend are lovely ones!

Knit-diving

Kelly:  “I am in a knitting rut.  It seems boring to me now.  I think it’s because I’m not doing enough creative work in my knitting.  I’m finding nice patterns, and knitting some nice things, but I’m not experimenting.  I’m not indulging my creativity.  My knitting used to be innovative and fun.  It’s not innovative and fun right now.”

Doug: “Skydiving is fun.”

Kelly: “Maybe, but it’s not innovative.”

Doug: “It is if you’re knitting.”

Ribbing: defined

Ribbing.  A definition:

ribbing  (rɪbɪŋ )

1. uncountable noun
Ribbing is friendly teasing.   [informal]
I got quite a lot of ribbing from my team-mates.

2. uncountable noun
Ribbing is a method of knitting that makes a raised pattern of parallel lines. You use ribbing, for example, round the edge of sweaters so that the material can stretch without losing its shape.

Definition from COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary. Copyright © HarperCollins Publishers

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Ribbing.  A knitter’s definition:

ribbing  (rɪbɪŋ )

1. uncountable (and never-ending) noun
Ribbing is the bit at the beginning of your knitting that is designed to suck all of the joy out of starting a new project.

Definition from Kelly’s Dictionary of Knitting Terms

It’s not a teasing matter, informal or otherwise.

New yarn for spring

I have no knitting to report this week, but do have some lovely new yarn.  So here is a drive-by post with pretty yarn photos.

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Above is Eden Cottage Titus Lace, a silk and merino blend in the colour Black Magic Rose. This is intended to be knit up into a birthday gift for Emma, but I am not sure about the colour.  Since I haven’t been able to get into the shop, I ordered it online, and now think it may have a bit too much of a brown-ish tone and not enough purple.  It also has a bit more variation than I had hoped for.   I love the yarn, however, so will likely try again with a different colour.  Emma, what do you think?

Below are mini-skeins of fingering weight British Hampshire yarn from The Little Grey Sheep, in 15 gorgeous shades:

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These are intended for another gift, about which my lips are sealed.  I am so in love with these.  I can’t wait to start swatching.

I hope that your weekend was sunny and full of yarn!

Pattern Radar April 2018

Today seems like a good day for another Pattern Radar post.  The sun is shining here in my little corner of England, and everyone is smiling.  I had planned to head into London today to go yarn shopping, but the sunshine changed my mind and instead I am sitting in my back garden soaking up the sun.  Writing this post is my alternative to buying yarn.  (Much cheaper, too!)

Here are six new-ish patterns that have caught my eye.

Twill and Plain by Marzena Kołaczek

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© Marzena Kołaczek

Marzena writes a beautiful blog.  It is in Polish, but never let a little language problem stop you from enjoying an excellent knitting blog!  You can be content with the photos, or use Google translate, or even try to learn a new language through knitting. Her photos are gorgeous, she has a great sense of style, and is a talented knitter.  I just love this sweater.  It is so subtle, and the juxtaposition of the twill and the stockinette is very classic and chic.  I also love the neckline; it has just the right proportions.

Mint Leaves by Joji Locatelli

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© Joji Locatelli

This one made me do a double take.  It really deseves a second and a third look.  I love my Neon cardigan, blogged here, designed by Joji, and I have long wanted to try another of her patterns.  I love the geometry of this one.  It manages to look both casual and tailored.  You can’t see it in this photo, but the patterning is on front and back and it cascades to the sides in a very beautiful and organic way.  I usually don’t like bobbles or reverse stockinette very much, but this sweater may make me re-think.

Rocket’s Cardigan of the Galaxy by Mary Annarella

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© Mary Annarella

First of all, how can you not like a cardigan named after Rocket, my favorite of the Guardians of the Galaxy?  In fact, the whole idea of this series is genius: Cardigans of the Galaxy, each design inspired by one of the characters.  And she calls them Guardigans!  I am so there.  Why is this one Rocket?  Mary says: “He gets a top-down cardi that’s the color of money (golden green!) with a diamond lace-and-cable motif that weaves in and out of a broken rib pattern. And hey, who isn’t a little broken?”  Of course no cute gimmik will get me to like a cardigan that doesn’t have good design.  This one does, and I trust Mary to deliver on all of the details and fit that make up a great cardigan.

Kilim by Vithard Villumsen

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© The Knitter

Love!  I love this design which has fantastic, chunky colourwork, and strikes both traditional and modern notes.  To me, it combines the colours of Turkish pottery with the fabrics and motifs of Kilim tapestries.  This design was published last year but has only recently come to my attention.  I have never heard of this designer before but he has definitely caught my eye with this piece, and I will be watching him to see what he comes up with next.

Hawley by Julie Hoover

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© Julie Hoover

Julie Hoover is the queen of simple, understated, but absolutely chic design.  I drool over all of her patterns, which manage to look both fashionable and totally comfortable.  This one, with its beautiful rippling cables and great proportions, is very appealing indeed.  It is a grown-up and luxurious version of the standard cabled pullover. I love the line of the shoulder and armscythe, the long ribbing at the hips, and the fantastic way the ribbing transitions into the cables.

Yoshino Cherry Blossom Hat by Susan Rainey

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© Susan Rainey

Today is the first day that feels like spring, and all of the cherry trees in our neighbourhood have just burst into bloom.  Cherry blossoms are such a short-lived luxury; what could be better than a cherry blossom hat?  This hat has delicate pink beads for the blossoms and looks just like the branches of a cherry tree against the brilliant blue sky.  It is designed by Susan Rainey, one half of the fabulous blog-writing duo, The Rainey Sisters!  I have been reading their knitting blog for over ten years, since before I even heard of Ravelry.

I hope that you enjoy these patterns.  I am going to stop writing now and start being lazy!

Knitting the blues

I’ve got three projects on my needles; all of them blue!

1 – Sunbird Top, designed by Quenna Lee:

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I blogged about this top last week and have made good progress, especially since I had to do some frogging.  I was trying to decide between two sizes – one which would give me 1.5″ of ease and the other would give me 5″ of ease.  I went for the larger size and got about this much knitted before trying it on and deciding it had too much ease.  Instead of pulling the whole thing out and starting over with the smaller size, I frogged back to where the pieces were joined in the round.  Here, instead of adding 18 stitches under each arm (12 for the lace panel and 3 stitches each side), I added 14 stitches (12 for the lace and 1 stitch each side).  This means I was able to cut out 8 stitches which made for a much better fit.  I’ve now caught back up and am zipping along with the body; it is a pleasing, intuitive knit.

2 – Sofi, a jacket designed by Hanne Flakenberg:

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I haven’t posted about this one in a while; regular readers are commended for their restraint in not asking me about its disappearance.  The truth is that I have been slowly working on it, and have made some progress.  I love this to pieces but am content to have it be background knitting for now.

3 –  The one that shall remain nameless for the moment, designed by me:

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This one is an experiment, and is mostly me fooling around with a bunch of ideas, and frogging a lot.  I will post all about it sometime soon.  I don’t know if it will work out, but the colours are beautiful.

Three projects; many shades of blue.  Maybe I am channeling Picasso and have entered my Blue Period.