“Dyemonds” is a girl’s best friend

We have just returned from a short trip to Wales, where it was cool enough for me to wear my newest finished project.

This is the Dyemonds Sweater, designed by Josée Paquin (the link is to Ravelry). It is a very clever design, especially in how the increases on both sides of the raglan shaping are incorporated into the pattern.

I knitted this with Spincycle Dyed in the Wool yarn, in Devilish Grin, purchased from A Yarn Story. I bought five skeins, but only needed four. The background yarn is Quince & Co Chickadee in Crow (black), which I was very happy to use up from stash, having purchased it from Loop in 2017. I had five skeins of the Chickadee as well, and broke into the fifth skein only for the last 6 rows of ribbing on the waist.

I have developed a complicated relationship with the Spincycle yarn. It has produced a striking garment, and it washes and blocks really well. I did have some issues with it, however. First, there is an unsettling degree of difference between skeins (you can see an illustrative photo in this previous post.) Second, Spincycle consists of two different coloured strands plied together, which means that the knitted fabric has sections where two quite distinct colours are plied together, producing a marled effect (as below).

I am not a fan of marls. I would have preferred the yarn to be dyed after plying so that the colour changes moved organically without marling. I realise that this probably puts me at odds with 90% of knitters out there. It also seems very nit-picky since the finished sweater is lovely. Doug can attest, however, that I was continually grumbling while knitting this when I hit a marled section. Many times I thought of cutting out portions of the yarn (as I used to do frequently with Noro), but Doug talked me down from the ledge each time. He was right, but I still found it made the knitting experience uneven.

The diamond pattern is very intuitive and fun to knit, and as there are only two yarns used throughout, there are not so many ends to weave in when the knitting is done. The only tricky part of the pattern is the sleeves, which gave me lots of grief. I blogged about that previously, so if you are knitting this and are having some conceptual problems with the sleeves, I refer you to that post.

I knitted the size 5 with a US4/3.5mm needle. When I finished, there were about 6 inches of negative ease – a lot more than intended. I thought it would take some hard blocking to get it to shape, but in fact the wet fabric eased up quite a bit, so I only had to pin it in place, without needing to stretch. The finished garment has about 1.5 inches of negative ease, which I think looks quite nice. Note that it also grew in length, so if you are in doubt, knit a good size swatch and block first.

The photo above, as well as the second one, were taken at St. David’s Cathedral, which dates to the 12th century. It is a truly gob-smacking cathedral out in the very Western reaches of Wales. It is well worth a trip out there if you find yourself in Wales. The other photos were taken at The Royston, a completely charming and gorgeous B&B, in Llanbrynmair, Powys. We spent a few lovely days there and will definitely be returning.

I really enjoyed this knit (despite the sleeve troubles). Josée Paquin is on a roll lately, designing one great sweater after another. Tomorrow I go back to work after a much needed holiday. But there are still some hours left of my holiday today, so I am off to sit in the garden and pick up my knitting.

My prize arrives!

Last month, I reported that I had won a prize from Linda Marveng – consisting of my choice of four of Linda’s beautiful sweater designs and the yarn to knit it with, supplied by Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk. Today, the package arrived!

Can you tell how much I love it?

Winning the prize led to a massive dilemma over pattern, followed by an even bigger dilemma over colour. (You can see the four patterns on my post here.) I even put up a poll for readers to choose which sweater they thought I should knit. Here are the results (as of a month ago when I took this photo):

I have to tell you honestly that after many, many hours of discussion with Emma, I had already decided to Knit Caravay, shown below, whether or not it came out top of the poll. But it did in any case! (The decision was always between Caravay and Yaelle. I think Yaelle is the more interesting design. But as Emma said “it’s a striking design but it takes more work to style it right. Caravay you can throw on over anything and look gorgeous!”)

© Eivind Røhne

Choosing the colour was harder. We spent many hours looking at the colour tiles on the website. Then, we looked up the yarn on Ravelry. There are 1628 projects loaded on Ravelry which were made with this yarn. Emma and I looked at every single one (!), twice (!!), and ended up picking out four possibilities, before narrowing it down to Burgundy. I should add at this point that I am making this for Emma. If it were for me, I would have picked the Burgundy after 20 minutes thought. But Emma was initially drawn to greys or greens and it took a few weeks for her to decide on the red.

Emma, oh my god, you picked good!!!!!

The yarn is gorgeous and the red is so fantastic – rich, beautiful, colour-saturated, deep burgundy red. It really surpasses all of my expectations. Linda told me it was a good colour! She was right. You can see that the yarn arrived with a printed copy of the pattern, but Linda also gifted me with a digital copy on Ravelry. (As an aside, if you are interested in the hand knitted tank I am wearing in these photos, the pattern is Paid in Full, designed by Deb Hoss; I blogged about it here.)

One of the best parts about receiving yarn in the post is unwrapping it, and getting to feel the yarn. This is a brand new yarn to me, and it feels lovely. I can’t wait to start knitting.

We had a heat wave last week, but it has cooled down today. Not quite enough to model my latest project but I will try to do that later in the week. Keep safe everyone!

Ladybird approval

I planned to show off my Dyemonds sweater this weekend. I have finished knitting and blocking it, and all I needed was to take some modelled photos. It is a lovely, sunny, 30 degrees in my garden today (86F), so…no photos for you. Who wants to wear wool in the heat? But I will give you a teaser:

These photos were snapped after the knitting was done, but before I had woven in the ends or done the blocking. Because it’s fun, a photo of the reverse side:

Blocking did wonders for this project, and the fit is really good, so keep an eye out for the finished photos.

Instead of standing around in the heat wearing wool and trying to smile while Doug snapped photos, I instead spent the day in the garden, sitting in the shade, and knitting my new project, a Summery Myrtle. As you may recall from my last post, I miscalculated terribly on the gauge, so I ripped it out and started again. I’ve made good progress.

While I was knitting, a ladybird came over to investigate. I was very impressed at the wonderful colour coordination involved.

Having gotten off to a rocky start with this project, I was a bit worried about whether to push ahead. But now that I have ladybird approval, I’m good to go.

In which our Heroine Miscalculates

I very carefully knitted and blocked a swatch. Truly; I did:

I measured it very carefully. I cast on and knitted like mad. I was using a 3mm needle, and the only one I had was very short – 60cm/24inches. Thus, I was not able to get a good sense of width. (This is my excuse and I am sticking to it!) Meantime, I ordered a longer needle. It arrived in the post yesterday. I tried on the sweater:

EPIC FAIL! (And pretty damned funny!)

This reminds me of a post I wrote in 2015 called The gauge swatch lies! I ended that post with two morals, which still hold true today. “Moral number one: you are never so expert a knitter that you can’t make spectacular screw-ups.  Moral number two:  the gauge swatch lies!”

Not Scout; Rib

Some months ago, I received a newsletter from Loop, with a photo of the just released pattern, Scout Shawl (Ravelry link) by Florence Spurling. I thought it was so beautiful that I pre-ordered a kit for it right then and there. I am not normally so impulsive with yarn purchases, but this one moved directly from eye to brain to wallet faster than you can say “Yes!”

© Florence Spurling

After I pushed the button, I began to think that this was perhaps not a smart purchase. The shawl is knit back-and-forth with fair isle knitting and intartsia. In other words, no steeking, but lots of balls of yarn tangling together and every other row in stranded purling. I wasn’t sure I was up for the challenge.

Then the yarn arrived and it was beautful:

I really wanted to knit with this yarn, but the more I thought about it, the less I wanted to knit Scout. It is gorgeous, true, and knitters are making some beautiful projects from this pattern. And, yes, I actually think I am up to the challenge. I know I could do it. The question is: do I want to?

I have come to the conclusion that knitting is something I do for enjoyment, for creative energy, for serenity, peace, mental balance, for process as much as product, and after this very complicated, very long year, I should knit what I want, when I want. And right now, that isn’t Scout.

But the yarn kept playing around inside my head, and yesterday while watching the Euro quarter-finals, I fooled around with a swatch:

Now, isn’t this lovely? I have long been interested in knitting Kate Davies’ design, Myrtle, show below, but without the mohair, with short sleeves, and in lighter, more summery-colours. Can you picture it?

© Kate Davies Designs

And this yarn from the Scout kit – Madelinetosh Merino Light in Pink Clay, Sugar Coat, Librarian’s Dreams, Joshua Tree, and Rocinante – makes for a lovely, lacy, summery fabric in this lace pattern.

Now, that I have swatched, I need to knit the ribbing – 300 stitches in k1p1 rib with tiny yarn on tiny needles. If it gets to be too much, I can always switch to my Dyemonds sweater. As you can see, all I have left is the ribbing: 280 stitches of k1p1 rib on slightly less tiny needles:

I think I have plenty of ribbing to keep me occupied!

Poppies again

This morning Doug and I went out for a walk and came upon a field of poppies:

These were blooming wild, and bursting with colour, a lovely pop of red. It reminded me that two years ago yesterday, we came upon a field of gorgeous pale pink poppies, which I blogged about it this post.

Red or pink, wild or cultivated, there’s something magical about a field of poppies.

Death by Sleeve

Remember the Dyemonds tee? The last time I wrote about it was in this post from March 27th, and I had gotten this far:

I had been zipping along on this, and was also writing about how intuitive the pattern was, and how fast it was going. And then… I decided to knit the sleeves. Cue ominous music: Dum-da-dum-dum! This is where things got dicey.

I decided to knit the sleeves at this point for two reasons. First, if one doesn’t save the sleeves for last, one gets all of the messy (or boring) stuff done first, and then sails on to the end of the sweater. Second, I wanted to try to match the colours of the sleeves (more or less) to the body. Due to the nature of the Spincycle yarn (long colour shifts and extreme differences from skein to skein), I wanted to do this early on while I still had enough yarn to do a proper match instead of getting to the end and finding that the only yarn remaining didn’t allow me to match up the sleeves. As an example of the colour matching problem, see here my two remaining skeins of the yarn:

So, I put the sleeve stitches on my trusty DPNs (double pointed needles), picked up the stitches under the arm, and tried to knit the first row. I tried to knit the first row for about 3 hours, pulling it out and starting again, and reading the instructions over and over and over again. I basically hit a conceptual wall. It was a case of Death by Sleeve. I ended up throwing the project into the naughty corner, and proceeded to finish Doug’s beautiful Ursula waistcoat, and knit the Tin Roof tee, before I gave myself a strict talking to, and dragged out the Dyemonds tee for a second attempt at the sleeves. And voila!

Two sleeves! They fit nicely too:

There are two types of problems with the sleeves. The first is conceptual. I had a hard time with the instructions. I am pretty sure this is my fault and not the designer’s, but I really struggled. She utilises two markers: a BOR (beginning of row) and a BOC (beginning of chart), something which I think ended up confusing me. Mostly, however, the problem is that the patterns don’t match at the underarm of the sleeve (which is a natural effect of the pattern and the way that sleeves work), but I couldn’t get my head around it. And, of course, no one ever shows you photos of these things. So, in case you plan to knit one of these, here is a photo of the underpart of the sleeve:

The pattern doesn’t match along the inside seam of the arm, which makes sense because you are decreasing in order to make the sleeve fit. But it also doesn’t match on either side of the underarm, in other words the stitches which you pick up at the underarm, do not flow from the already established pattern of the sweater body. Of course, the pattern does flow from the already established pattern on all of the visible parts of the sleeve, just not at the underarm and inner sleeve. To see this, look at the below photo of the sleeve from the front. The green stitch marker is the same one from the photo above, so it helps you visualise the pattern placing.

See how gorgeous this part of the sleeve is? The pattern integrates beautifully. That’s because all of the messiness is hidden away and never gets seen unless you walk around with your arms above your head, and point to the offending bit saying “Look! It doesn’t match!” For some reason, however, I really had trouble with conceptualising the way the pattern behaved at the underarm. Once I figured it out with the first sleeve, I no longer had this issue on the second sleeve. That, however, brings me to the second problem with the sleeves: doing stranded knitting on double pointed needles is really fiddly and hard to do. This was equally as fiddly on the second sleeve as on the first. So, once I got my head around what I had to do to knit the pattern, I had to get my fingers to sort out what they had to do to actually knit the damn thing! I am telling you, this really was death by sleeve and came close to being frogged. Now, all I have left is easy knitting. So I am hoping that the rest of this tee will move along at a jaunty pace.

The colours in this look very different depending on the light and it’s difficult to capture. Sometimes the oranges and yellows pop and it looks very warm, and sometimes the reds and pinks pop and it is more cool. This photo is pushing the exposure a bit but I like it:

If you are wondering about the results of the poll from earlier in the week, I will report back soon. I think I’ve figured out which sweater kit I will ask for, and am now thinking about colour. I hope you had a lovely weekend!

Prize!

I won a prize!

I entered a prize competition to celebrate Linda Marveng’s 8th year anniversary of her Ravelry group. And I won first prize! I am super excited.

The first prize is a kit for the yarn to make one of four sweater designs by Linda. I get to choose the pattern and the colour of the yarn, which is being supplied by  Hillesvåg Ullvarefabrikk. (If you are interested in the colours available, please check out the links in Linda’s blog post about the competition.) The four patterns are:

Yaelle:

© Eivind Røhne

Bubala:

© Eivind Røhne

Caravay:

© Eivind Røhne

Neva:

© Eivind Røhne

I am about 75% certain which pattern I will choose, but I thought it might be fun to see what you think, so here is a poll:

I am excited about this prize for a number of reasons. First, I won a prize! That is cool! I was having a super bad day yesterday so it was really nice to find this out at the end of the day. Second, I am really interested in trying this new (to me) yarn. Third, these are fantastic patterns and I really look forward to knitting one of these beauties. And last, I have been watching Linda’s design career for a number of years now and continue to be impressed with the quality and originality of her work. I featured one of her designs, Cable Round Sweater, in a Pattern Radar post from August 2014, another design, the gorgeous Kathe Cardigan, in a Pattern Radar post from August 2016, and a third design, Cahal, in my February 2018 Pattern Radar post.

Tin Roof in Linen

A nice summery linen top just in time for summer; how often do I manage that? Usually I suffer from seasonal displacement with my knitting, but this one is timed rather well.

I liked this pattern, Tin Roof by yamagara (Bernice Lim), as soon as I saw it. What I liked most was that it was a pattern that was made to be fooled around with – not enough of one colour? No worries! Want it longer, shorter, wider, narrower? Customisation is easy!

And best of all, it allowed me to use up some yarn in deep stash. I purchased a bunch of skeins of Quince & Co Sparrow years ago when I saw them sitting in a pretty basket in Loop London. The colours appealed to me so much and the linen was really crisp and sharp. I then discovered that I really didn’t like knitting with Sparrow – for various reasons, but mostly because the knitted fabric torques a lot – and it sat in my stash for years. I thought that the mechanics of this pattern would minimise torque, so I dove in and cast on.

The main body of the top is knitted in two pieces – from side-to-side starting at the sleeves and working towards the middle. I cast on 81 stitches for the sleeve caps (as for the size 48), and then cast on 42 stitches each side for the back and front (thus 15 stitches more than called for in the pattern on each side). If you are neither very tiny nor want to show lots of skin, make sure you cast on more than the pattern calls for! I then knit 32 rows for each of the six stripes, thus ending up with a size 46, giving about 3.5″ of ease.

The pattern has some pretty features – I especially like the line of cables that goes across the shoulders. It also has a good drape and a cool, high neckline (nice when the sun is shining if you burn like me). These shapings are integrated in a very easy manner, so there is no finishing required at the neck or sleeves.

I tried knitting the bottom part of the sweater as in the pattern (reverse stockinette, followed by ribbing) but I really didn’t like the way it looked (I blogged about it here, with photos). So, I ripped it out, and re-knit it in stockinette with the right side facing out. I also decided that I didn’t like the ribbing at the hips – so I put in a turned hem. I knitted down to the length I wanted, purled a row (the turn row), knitted 7 more rows and then bound off. I then turned up the hem and sewed it in place. I think it gives it a nice, neat edge, and I am hoping that the weight of it will help keep the torqueing to a minimum.

I also repeated the six colours of the block stripes in this bottom section – two rows of each and off-set so as not to be symmetrical. I like this (although it significantly increased the number of ends I had to weave in last night).

It’s a quiet, grey Sunday here, but yesterday was glorious and has renewed my faith in June. I plan to spend the rest of the day wrestling some very problematic sleeves into shape (more on that next week). Take care!

Inside out

I had a plan for the blog this weekend: I was going to show off my completed Tin Roof tee. All I needed was a few rows of ribbing and a bunch of ends to weave in, and a nice day in which to photograph it. The only problem was: I didn’t like it.

Remember that the Tin Roof pattern [Ravelry link] has two parts to it: the top part is knitted side-to-side with wide stripes made by alternating colours, and the bottom part is then picked up and knitted down. Crucially, in the pattern, this bottom portion is knitted in reverse stockinette stitch, so that the reverse side of the knitted fabric faces front. You can see it here in the pattern photo:

© yamagara

Yesterday, I tried on the nearly-finished top, wanting to see if the length was right before casting off, and found that I really didn’t like it. Don’t get me wrong: I love the top portion with the wide stripes in lovely shades of grey, blue, and green linen. However, I really hated what was happening with the bottom portion of the tee. Here is a photo:

There are two things I really don’t like. First, the reverse stockinette stitch does not look good in the linen. Instead of looking kind of funky and textural, it looks messy. Second, despite having very carefully picked up 3 out of every four rows, the bottom section balloons out a bit and looks even messier. You can see both problems in this close-up below:

What to do? Time to rip! Some people agonise over ripping, but I find this to be one of the miracles of knitting: everything can be ripped out and knitted over again. If only life were that forgiving and resilient!

Each of the wide stripes on the top portion of the top is 32 rows wide; so I initially picked up 288 stitches (12 blocks of colour x 24 stitches each). I ripped back to the pick-up row, and then, while knitting the first row of the bottom portion, I knitted two stitches together in the middle of each stripe, so that I now had a total of 276 stitches. I am hoping that this will be enough to get rid of the ballooning. And of course, I switched to stockinette – so the smooth knitted side is on the outside, instead of inside out. Like this:

Thank you for all of the kind comments on the blog last week; they are much appreciated. It is a Bank Holiday weekend, and miracle of miracles, the sun is shining and the day is warm. Time for a little sunshine therapy!