Taking Stock

Taking stock of my WIPs (works in progress), that is. Taking stock of my life, or of life on earth, or of the crazy sauce that is politics these days, would take too long. And be rather depressing. Knitting is better.

I only have three projects in progress right now. I was going to say “on the needles” but one of them is in the finishing stage, so already off the needles.

TREIT

I finished knitting this little lace tee-shirt at least a month ago, I think. It is knitted with a lovely wool and linen blend yarn called Kalinka 21, in a gorgeous, sunny, grassy green.

I have only three things that have still to be done with this one. First, I need to graft the sleeve stitches at the underarms:

Second, I have a few ends to weave in:

And third, it needs a good blocking.

If that is all that remains to be done, why haven’t I done it? First, I hate grafting and insist that it can only be done in full morning light. I have been working on the weekends again, and the weather has been often cloudy and rainy, so there has been no opportunity to take advantage of clear, morning light. Second, I finished knitting it just as the summer ended and the autumn weather set in. What motivation do I have to finish a summery linen tee at the beginning of autumn? I can’t even use the winter holiday in sunny locale excuse, because well…Covid. I’m clearly stuck in England for the foreseeable future. Third, I am lazy. Enough said.

URSULA

In my last post, I talked about having swatched for a vest for Doug, using the Ursula pattern (Ravelry link) by Kate Davies. This is a women’s cardigan pattern but I am trying to be creative and transform it into a men’s waistcoat. It will be my first steeked garment, so I am imagining all sorts of anxiety to come as I take up the scissors to cut my knitting. But, for now, it is a rather straightforward project. Here is exactly two weeks worth of knitting progress:

Today, I had Doug try it on for the first time, and it fits. Whew! I am terribly slow at stranded knitting, however. At the moment it is taking me 18 minutes per row, which amounts to 3 hours per colour pattern. I am hoping to improve on my speed a bit, but the days of my super fast knitting have gone. This will clearly not be a quick knit. But see how pretty it is?

By the way, Treit is a Kate Davies pattern, too, so I seem to be on a bit of a Kate thing at the moment. I have also joined her latest club so I am currently waking up to a new design by her every Friday morning. Chances are this will result in another Kate project on the needles before long. (Anyone else enjoying the new club?)

KOKO

Remember this?

It is an ingenious three-dimensional knitting pattern designed by Olga Buraya-Kefelian, which I am knitting in three luscious shades of Northiam by Kettle Yarn Co. This is what it looks like unblocked, but rest assured, when it is blocked it will undergo a transformation and knock your socks off.

I have only knitted about 4inches/10cm since the last time I showed it on the blog, some months ago now, so this is clearly going to be one of those very-long-in-the-making shawl projects which I sometimes undertake. They take forever to knit because I can’t stay monogamous to them, but the end project is worth it (like this or this).

I am looking around for a new project to cast on, so that I have enough variety in my WIPs to keep me interested. What’s next? Well, Doug and I have been walking a lot and it is getting colder outside, so mittens and hats are appealing at the moment. How are your WIPs going? Does this autumn air make you want to cast on? (And for those in the Southern Hemisphere, soak up some sun for me. If I was there with you, I’d be wearing my Treit right now!)

Pop!

Today is a holiday here, and the sun is shining.  In my experience these two events don’t occur at the same time as often as they should.  I am about to venture out for a walk in the woods.  Before I do, however, a very quick post to show you a pop of colour from my newest project:

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This is the Koko shawl, designed by Olga Buraya-Kefelian.  The pattern photo has it knitted up in pastels, but as soon as I saw this luscious green at the Unravel festival, I imagined it in this shawl. The yarn is Northiam by Kettle Yarn Co, a fingering weight 100% wool in Samphire (green), Canvas (cream), and Blackthorn (a very dark navy). The yarn is lovely and feels great.

The fabric naturally curls quite a bit, a you can see from the above photo, and it is also pulled in – it will all relax out in the final blocking, although I will try to keep as much of the 3-D structure as I can.  Here I am stretching it out a bit side-to-side so you can have a glimpse of what the pattern will actually look like post-blocking:

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And here I am stretching it out end-to-end so that you can see how much I’ve knitted up so far – about 15″/38cm:

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I’m off for that walk!

Experiments with colour and texture

I am trying to do a bit of experimenting with my knitting while in lockdown – exploring colour and texture. I am working on three projects now – that might be a record for me in recent years. Each of them is very different from the others and explores either texture, colour, or both in interesting ways. To support getting these projects off the ground, I’ve been knitting swatches.

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When I look at this photo, I have the song from Sesame Street running through my head (“One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong; can you guess which thing is not like the others, before I finish my song?”)  Depending on how your brain works, you probably would pick either the top right swatch (no colourwork) or the bottom middle swatch (sharp, bright colours instead of muted neutrals).  But each project is exploring texture or colour or both.  The swatch on the top right might look as if it doesn’t belong to this set, but the project – a pullover, Hatcher – has a strong cabled detail running up front and back.  Here is a photo of it in progress:

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I think these cables look fabulous in this yarn – very precise and architectural but also with a beautiful flow to them. This pattern needs a uniform colour – if it was made with a variegated yarn the cables would lose their strength and integrity.

The swatch for the shawl, Koko, really stands out in the swatch photo; not only does it have a 3D texture but I am using a very bright, sharp, nautical colour scheme. If you are going to knit this, you must resign yourself to the fact that the knitting is going to roll. The very nature of the stitch pattern which creates the 3D fabric, is going to roll in on itself, until it gets blocked. Here is a photo when I was just a few inches into the project; you can see that it is basically rolled into a tube.

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I’ve knit on this some more since this photo was taken, and the rolling is still happening. I don’t see it stopping, although I imagine it will get better as the sheer weight of the knitted fabric pulls it down a bit.

The third project is really pushing me, for my plan is to adopt a colourwork pattern from a cowl pattern (this one) and create a button-down fair isle vest for Doug. As I have never knitted a garment entirely in colourwork (and have only steeked once, for Leah’s Lord of the Rings pillow), this will push both my knitting skills and my pattern maths skills, as I wing it without a pattern. But before I can get going with it, I have to decide on which colours to use.

This is really an intellectual exercise, as the stitch pattern as written utilises 5 colours and I have 8 colours which I am fooling around with. This makes for seemingly endless options, but I am also constrained by various aspects of the pattern, such as using colours which have enough contrast in each of the “bands” of colourwork. It is quite interesting to try to work within this set of yarns. This is the first swatch I knitted, where I was more concerned with the gauge for knitting in the round; I used bits of the pattern in various colour combinations but didn’t follow the full pattern repeat.

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I then knitted up this swatch, where I used a bit more contrast, and also brought in the light brown shade (to contrast with the charcoal):

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But this one didn’t really grab me.  And Doug commented: “Hmm, I need to get a pipe.” So, I ended up with this swatch which includes a full repeat of the pattern:

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Here I used the medium grey for the two stockinette rows which separate the pattern rows. It makes the whole thing seem quite a bit darker, but I kind of like it. I knitted the ribbing in the dark brown, but am not really happy with that. So, I am now thinking of using the colours from this last swatch but knitting the ribbing in the medium grey.

However, when I sent these photos to Emma, she suggested three other combinations for me to swatch.  Sigh….

For those of you experiencing lockdowns of various intensities, I hope that you are all surviving the experience and trying to keep your spirits up.  Keep well!