Colour me happy

I am so pleased with how my newest project turned out.

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I knit this tee using the pattern Knit Me Baby One More Time, designed by Mary Annarella.  This is a fantastic basic tee pattern, which has lovely features, and a beautiful fit.  Here is Mary’s pattern photo:

© Mary Annarella

I did my own interpretation of the colours, using some bold contrasts for the ribbing and not striping the body, but otherwise followed her pattern exactly.  I just love the way that the pattern lends itself to experimentation.

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I re-purposed the yarn from an old knitting kit to make this tee (see my last post for more details).  This turned into a fun intellectual exercise in colour.   The kit uses the yarn Titus, a fingering weight wool from baa ram ewe, which comes in 100 gram hanks with 320 metres/350 yards.  The kit had one skein of the Aire (the light blue-grey) and three skeins of the Endeavour (the rich blue), and a bunch of tiny mini-hanks for the contrasts.  The mini-hanks were 5 grams each, and there were two each of three colours, and one each of another four colours.  This meant that I had seven colours to fool around with in determining the ribbing, with the additional condition that the bottom ribbing needed 10 grams, so that constrained further the choice.  It was like putting together a puzzle, and was very entertaining.

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I’ve heard some people complain about the Titus.  My impression is that it wouldn’t work as well for stranded knitting, and I think the fact that I didn’t strand this (as in the original kit) but instead used bold blocks of colour, meant that the yarn was much more suited for purpose.  I loved knitting with it.  It is a mix of  50% Wensleydale Wool, 20% Bluefaced Leicester Wool, and 30% British Alpaca, from Yorkshire.  It comes in very rich, vibrant shades, and was fun to knit with.  It washed and blocked well, dried very quickly, and has a nice feel to it – wooly, yes, but not overly itchy.  I don’t know whether it will tend to felt or pull and will have to report back on that.

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This is intended to be a tee that I can wear casually or to the office.  I styled it above as I might wear it to work.  Since we are self-isolating and the university has switched to remote working for at least the next 12 weeks, I am unlikely to get a chance to wear it anywhere but on my sofa for quite some time!

One of the things that I really like about having the green ribbing at the hip, is that I can then wear this with a variety of blues and not worry about a blue/blue mismatch. I find that blues are notoriously hard to match, but with the green to break up the blues, it doesn’t really matter.

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This was my first time using a pattern by Mary Annarella, and I was very impressed.  You know how some patterns just work for you and others don’t?  Sometimes you don’t even know why.  But, I have to tell you that this one worked for me in a big way.  It was very comprehensive, but not in an annoying way.  She provided photos of the difficult stages right at the beginning, which made such a difference!  (The very beginning of the pattern is a bit tricky – it takes some concentration – but then it is smooth sailing.)  She gave advice about shaping and customizing.  It may sound strange to say that a pattern – I mean here the writing of it, not the result – can be charming, but this was definitely written in a very charming manner. Also, the details are amazing.  Just look at the line of this shoulder and armscythe!  It’s practically swoon-worthy!

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I particularly like this little stripe from the colour blocking under the arms.  (Note that I exaggerated it just a bit by casting on the underarm stitches using the light yarn, and then switching to the blue, so that it has two rows of the light blue, instead of one, under the arm.)

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I highly recommend this pattern.  Mary designs some beautiful things and this won’t be my last of her patterns.  (And wow!  All of her designs are on sale right now on Ravelry – until March 24th – to help out those who are social distancing and could use a bit of calm; just put them in the cart and you’ll get 40% off when you check out.)

Keep safe everyone!  And remember that knitting is good for your mental health!

Creative stash diving: re-purposing a knitting kit

A few weeks ago, I found myself between projects.  It was just a few days before I planned to head to Unravel and hopefully buy yarn.  But I wanted something on my needles right away, so went digging through my stash.

For an avid knitter, I have a fairly small stash.  And it has very few SQs of yarn.  (An SQ is a “sweater quantity”; obviously it is much easier to knit accessories from stash than sweaters, as you can easily use a single skein to make a hat or a pair of socks.)  I did, however, have a kit to knit this sweater:

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© Marie Wallin

This sweater is called Wren and was designed by Marie Wallin.  I bought the kit for myself as a birthday present in 2016 (blogged here) and spent some time in 2017 contemplating whether to knit the yoke bottom up from a provisional cast on (blogged here).  I eventually became dis-enamored of this pattern and put it away to languish in the stash.  I can’t fully remember my reasons for this, but do remember spending hours, and more hours, trying to make sense of the directions.  I really didn’t like the way they were written, which seemed very counter-intuitive.  (I find this in general with Marie’s patterns, though I think her designs are gorgeous.)  I wanted to knit a between size and couldn’t calculate it, despite lots of math-fu.  And I decided, in the end, that I didn’t like the way the sweater fit.  So into the stash it went.

Upon finding this in my stash a few weeks ago, I decided to re-purpose it into something else; the question is: what?   I have for a long time wanted to knit something designed by Mary Annarella.  I remember falling in love with her very first published design: the Inaugural Sweater, designed at the time of Obama’s first inauguration.   I’ve been following her designs ever since, but have never knit one of them.  I did some swatching with the kit yarn – Titus, a fingering weight wool from baa ram ewe here in the UK.  And then I poked around Mary’s patterns for designs knit with the same gauge, and decided on Knit me Baby One More Time:

© Mary Annarella

This pattern had the right gauge, and allowed me to fool around with the lovely shades of the Titus from the Wren kit.  I cast on with the blue-grey and then switched to the lovely rich blue for the main colour:

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The knitting just flew off my needles, in part due to the fantastic pattern.  (I love the pattern.  I plan to gush about it in my next post.)

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I decided at the very start to do some cool colour blocking with the small mini-skeins of Titus from the kit.  I chose one of the greens for the bottom ribbing and the rust shade for the sleeve ribbing.

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I am totally loving this detail of the colour blocking at the sleeve (ignore the terrible photo of me, taken late at night with bad lighting):

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I exaggerated this detail by picking up the sleeve stitches with the light blue and knitting a row before switching to the main colour.  I think it looks super cool.  One of the things that is so great about this pattern is that it is so beautifully written and fitted, that you can use it as a canvas for all sorts of lovely colourwork.  I am very much enjoying picking and choosing the colours from the original kit and deciding how to use them in this tee.  Stay tuned for the neckline ribbing!

On a more somber note, we are staying at home, trying to be responsible and stay safe in the face of the rapid spread of Covid-19 through Europe.  I was in Copenhagen early in the week, and returned home just three days before they closed their borders.  The UK is so far following a different strategy than the rest of Europe, and this means that we are still open for business.  Doug and I are working from home as much as possible, though I have teaching scheduled all week.  I imagine that things will continue to change on a daily basis.  We are prepared, however, for some period of isolation. We have knitting, books, and guitars to keep us occupied.  This is a very scary time, but we know that knitting and other creative hobbies can help to allay anxiety.  Please stay safe!