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.

 

A Nua project on my needles

Last August, I bought seven skeins of Carol Feller’s new yarn, Nua.  I didn’t have a project in mind, but was curious about the yarn, mostly because of its interesting composition: it is 60% merino wool, 20% yak, and 20% linen.  It is also sportweight, a weight which I really enjoy knitting with.  This is the shade called Unexpected Macaw:

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The wool, yak, and linen fibres take up the dye differently, which gives an interesting richness to the yarn.  This particular shade reminds me of well-worn denim.  There is a very natural, rough kind of look to it, likely from the linen, but it is incredibly soft, which I imagine is from the yak fibre.

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I have been keeping my eye out for a pattern to use with this yarn.  And then, last week, this one popped up in my pattern feed:

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© Interweave / George Boe

This is the Sunbird Top by Quenna Lee, published by Interweave Press.  (A note to Ravellers: you can’t buy this pattern from Ravelry; you need to go to the Interweave site, set up an account and purchase a download. This means that you can’t store it in your Ravelry library.)  I thought it would be lovely in the Nua.  Here you can see the top back of the tee:

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I was a bit worried about whether the knit-purl stitch pattern would show up in the Nua; it would certainly be crisper in a plump cotton yarn.  However, I find the resulting fabric very pretty and subtle.  The Nua feels lovely and I think it will result in a very breathable, soft fabric that feels great on the skin.  Here is my progress as of this morning:

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For the first week of spring, it is feeling decidedly un-springlike here.  Having a sweet little tee on my needles is a good antidote and, hopefully, a precursor of beautiful weather to come.

Multi-strand knitting: One for the cost of two?

One of the knitting trends which I have noticed recently is using two (or more) strands of different yarns held together.  The yarn company Shibui Knits is in fact built on the idea that yarns can be “mixed” to achieve particular effects.  On their website they say:

“Mixing or multi-strand knitting, gives you the freedom to fashion your own bespoke fabrics by combining two strands or more of any Shibui Knits yarn. Choose similar hues for subtle tonality or contrasting colors for bolder statements. All of our yarns are carefully chosen and dyed to work together, giving you infinite possibilities.”

I have been admiring Shibui patterns for some time now.  They have gorgeous designs and a recognisable style with a Japanese feel to it – spare with simple lines and lovely drape.  It all feels organic and fluid.  However, whenever I see these sweaters, the cynical me starts clamoring in my head.  Cynical Me says something like this:

Knitters spend a lot of money on yarn.  Knitters who love luxury yarns can spend an awful lot of money on yarns.  But we can only knit so many sweaters, right?  So how can we spend even more?  I know, let’s knit each sweater with two strands of yarn held together! One for the cost of two!

Here is an example. Today I was admiring the lovely sweater design Calyx by Elizabeth Doherty:

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© Elizabeth Doherty

I think this is beautiful.  It is knit with two strands held together: one strand of Shibui Twig and one of Shibui Reed. To knit it in my size with the recommended ease I would need to use 6 skeins of Twig and 5 skeins of Reed. In the UK, the Twig retails for £17.25/skein and the Reed for £17.95/skein.  This means a cost of £193.25 for this sweater. At today’s exchange rate that is US$273.  (Note that this is the cost of the yarn alone and does not include labour.)  This is an awful lot of cake.

But wait, I hear you regular readers of this blog proclaim: didn’t you just knit a sweater with two yarns held together?  Isn’t Cynical Me being a bit hypocritical?

As it turns out, knitting two strands together doesn’t always make for a more expensive knit.  I knit the pattern form by Lori Versaci (blogged here). The pattern calls for Woolfolk Far, a worsted weight luxury yarn.  For my size I would need 11 skeins, at £17.25/skein, or £189.75 (US$268).  I doubled up on my yarn using 4 skeins of Isager Spinni at £8/skein and 4 skeins of Shibui Silk Cloud at £18.99/skein for a total cost of £108 (US$152).  Thus, I “saved” money by doubling up.

In the interests of full disclosure, let me say that I never bothered to run the maths until I started writing this post; before that, I was convinced that I had fallen into the “one for the price of two” rabbit hole.  (In other words, Hypocritical Me was in the driver’s seat, and Cynical Me was riding shotgun.) I had the Spinni in stash because I loved the rich red colour, and I also had a tiny bit of the Silk Cloud in stash – enough to do some swatching.  I fell in love with the resulting fabric first and then picked a pattern to knit it with (not my usual progression).  I ordered enough Silk Cloud to pair with my stashed Spinni and never considered price.  Here is where Hypocritical Me gave way to Deluded Me: since I already had the Spinni in stash, in my head it counts as “free” and so only the extra yarn cost counts.

I am willing to bet that much of the time, however, using two strands of yarn together is going to make your garment more costly.  The pattern Cirrus by Nancy O’Connell is knit with Shibui Pebble and Shibui Silk Cloud:

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© Shibui Knits

In the second size, it would cost just under £200 (US$283) in the Shibui yarns, but could be knit with a single strand of a very luxurious sport or DK weight blended yarn knit at a looser than normal gauge for 50 – 75% of the price of the multi-stranded Shibui.  One could knit it with a far more economical yarn, of course, to save even more money, but the lightness of the fabric is hard to achieve.  The truth is that the multi-stranded Shibui mixes are fantastic on the hand and to the eye.

While these are examples of mixing the same shades of different yarns to achieve a particular type of finished fabric, yarn mixing is often more about colour.  The huge popularity of marl (in which you hold two different shades of the same yarn together to produce colour effects) exemplifies this.  I love the Mélange scarf by Jared Flood, which achieves its colour effects by knitting with five strands of yarn together.

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© Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood

The pattern calls for six skeins of BT Vale, a laceweight yarn.  Let’s look at a cost per yard comparison with a comparable chunky yarn that would knit up at the same gauge.  Using the US$ prices from Brooklyn Tweed’s website, I can buy chunky aran weight BT Quarry for $0.09/yard or BT Vale for $0.03/yard.  If I hold 5 strands of Vale together, then it costs $0.15/yard, a significant increase on the Quarry.  However, knitting with the Quarry is never going to get you those beautiful marled colour gradations as knitting multi-stranded with the Vale is.

I love the idea of combining different base yarns and getting a unique and interesting fabric.  It is a bit like alchemy, or maybe just experimenting to find the very best chocolate chip cookie recipe.  But it is hard to completely silence Cynical Me.

What do you think? Is the proliferation of pattern designs using multi-strand knitting a cynical ploy to get us to spend more money on yarn, or is it a fun new way to indulge our creative streak and create new fabrics?

To Carbeth, or not to Carbeth?

Recently a lot of knitters have been making Kate Davies’ design, Carbeth:

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© Kate Davies

It is a kind of funky, nicely-shaped, bulky, cropped pullover which knits up really fast.  Mason-Dixon Knitting started a Bang Out a Carbeth KAL and it seems as if everyone is knitting one.  I spent a lot of time considering it, and finally decided against it, mainly because there is no way I could wear a bulky pullover more than maybe two days a year, if that.  Especially a cropped one.  I know that it would get put away in a drawer and never worn.  (I am either hot or cold; mostly hot.  If I am hot, I won’t wear this, and if I am cold, I don’t want it cropped.)

And then Kate came out with a Carbeth Cardigan, and I started considering all over again.

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© Kate Davies Designs

I think this looks fantastic on Kate.   But, to tell the truth, I am not sure that it would be fantastic on me.  Yes? No?  I have moved back and forth on this many times.  And then, in a moment of weakness, I bought the yarn to make it: 14 skeins of Buachaille, in the beautiful dark grey natural shade she calls Squall (the one on the bottom in the below photo).

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So now I have the yarn to knit up a quick, bulky cardigan, and I am hesitating.  Do I really want a Carbeth cardigan?   Yes.  It’s adorable.   But will I wear it?  That is the million dollar question.  I am trying really hard to knit things that I will actually wear.

If I don’t knit it, the yarn will definitely be used to knit something else; it is gorgeous yarn.  The Carbeth sweaters are knit with two strands of yarn held together so I have plenty to knit a sweater with a single strand (it is a DK weight). For example, I have enough of it to knit either one of these patterns that I have my eye on;  Kirigami by Gudrun Johnston:

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© Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood

Or Cahal by Linda Marveng:

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© Eivind Røhne

What do you think?  Should I Bang Out a Carbeth?

In the meantime, I am still sick.  It has been well over 3 weeks now.  I have just started my second round of antibiotics.  I am unhappy, and grumpy, and not able to concentrate on knitting or reading, and probably a bear to live with right now.  But I have yarn…..