Farewell, Sneezy et al

The sneezy sweater is done, and was received with gratifying delight by its new owner.

I LOVE colour change yarns – there’s something about watching the changes pass through your fingers as you knit that I find endlessly delightful – and Noro is great for this. It looks like quite abrupt stripes when viewed from a distance

but up close the shadings are more subtle over a few rows and it’s lovely watching it come together.

The best way of making stocking stitch interesting that I can think of. Yarn is Noro Cyochin in shade 6, and the pattern is Debbie Bliss’s Nell sweater from the Junior Knits book. The only change I made was to drop the front-neck slightly as she doesn’t like having it up under her chin.

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Traps for the unwary

I am allergic to cats. I get a Seven Dwarfs set of symptoms – Itchy, Sneezy, Teary, Wheezy, Scratchy and the even more unpleasant Snotty and Swell-y. Normally this is not a problem. I have no cats, and if I’m around someone else’s cat I wash my hands after stroking it and don’t touch my face, which pretty much keeps it under control.

However, when ripping back and reknitting yarn that comes from quite a cat-y house, I had not taken account of the fact that the yarn might be cat-y too. All the yarn for this new sweater comes from a house with two Siamese. As an unforseen (by me) consequence, there is cat hair visibly scrambled into the yarn. Of course what I should have done was wash the yarn before knitting with it, but that would have involved Effort. I’d have had to wind it all into skeins, soak it carefully, wash it and rinse it out, dry it in skeins and then wind it into balls again. Doesn’t that sound incredibly tedious? So the net result is that – not having done any of that – after knitting on the sweater for 25 minutes I am sneezing approximately every thirty seconds. Sigh. Only a sleeve and a half to go.

Pieces of Nell sweater knitted in Noro Cyochin
Cat-y Noro Nell sweater

(In other news, there’s a strong possibility that I’m going to run out of yarn, but I’m carefully avoiding thinking about that just now. If anyone has a spare skein of Noro Cyochin shade 6 they don’t want…)

Recycling… again

As any regular readers will know, I am a huge fan of re-using yarn. I have projects that have been knitted from yarn that’s on its third go-round. Like this one:

Sweater 1
Sweater 2
Sweater 3

And also this one:

Sweater 1
Bathrobe 2
Sweater 3

If there’s plenty of wear left in it, but you don’t like it any more or it’s been outgrown, or it never quite looked the way you wanted it to… Take it apart and do it again. So a sweater of my mother’s, knitted in Noro Cyochin but that never really quite landed with her, got frogged, and here I am turning it into something else.

It’s going to be a sweater for Oldest Child, who is soon to be 9. The Noro isn’t the softest yarn to have next to your skin, so it’s got to be big enough to wear over a shirt or polo neck. Also unisex enough that it can be passed down to two younger brothers. Some of it has also been this:

 

in the interim, but I’ll rip that back later…

As an addendum to this post, I was talking to my mother about this habit, and apparently my father’s mother used to do exactly the same thing. And she had ten children so I have no idea where she found the time to knit…

A long time coming

I don’t normally spend a lot of money on yarn, at least in a ‘per-ball’ way (partly because I’m tight but also because I’m perpetually broke) but I fell in love with the Isadora Cowl a while back and have desperately wanted to make it for about a year. Major downside – expensive yarn.

Picture of Louisa Harding Isadora cowl pattern
Isadora Cowl

It’s knit using Louisa Harding’s Trenzar and Amitola Grande which both retail for around £13 a ball and that’s probably double what I normally budget for yarn. However, I decided to treat myself last month, as I hadn’t bought any yarn for a new project for a-a-a-a-a-ges (what with being jobless for a chunk of 2017 but now gainfully employed). I went for Hook in the Amitola Grande and Lake in the Trenzar. (After I-can’t-tell-you-how-much fiddling around with various colour combinations in my shopping basket).

Louisa Harding Amitola Grande in Hook and Trenzar in Lake

It is a very pleasingly quick knit, especially by contrast with the Crazed Scandinavian Cowl, which is still plugging along.

This is the finished cowl:

The colours in the Amitola Grande are gorgeous and this was such a quick knit that I’m inclined to do another in a different colour pairing. It is lo-o-o-o-g  – plenty of length to wrap twice around the neck and not feel throttled. The yarns are soft enough that it doesn’t feel itchy on the neck. Guess it’s back to the Crazed Scandinavian Cowl now

Don’t like it? Break it and make it better.

I’m a great believer in not just leaving things alone – if something’s broken I like to fix it. In this case, this:

Original Silje jacket

The Silje jacket really never worked – whether the tension was just too tight, I don’t know, but the yoke was definitely uncomfortable for the recipient across the shoulders. Which meant it rarely got worn. So after it sitting in the to-be-frogged pile for a while I finally got around to ripping it to pieces a month or so ago. I already knew what I wanted to do with it. One of the most popular sweaters I’ve knitted her was the Starshine from the same company (GarnStudio) – this one:

 

So I thought the best thing I could do with the yarn was make another one, using some of the same colours from the Silje jacket. Completed today. As usual I have a scadload of ‘ends’ floating around inside the sweater, but what the eye doesn’t see the heart doesn’t grieve over…

Blue Starshine sweater

 

She likes it because she says it looks like the big collars the ancient Egyptians used to wear. Whatever works.

Making a sweater bigger

This sweater has a story. A saga, almost. The Too Long:Didn’t Read version: I began it, ran out of yarn, pursued a stranger over the internet until she agreed to sell me some yarn, but by the time all this had happened and I’d finished it, it was too small for its recipient. That brings us up to date.

I hate wasting yarn (plus I have no money for yarn just now), and in my view, yarn that hasn’t literally worn to rags still has plenty of life left in it. So the obvious solution is to

  1. rip this sweater back to its component pieces
  2. frog those back to balls
  3. begin again
  4. deal with ugly-head-rearing of exactly the same not-enough-yarn problem later…

Step one and two have been achieved, mostly.

Step three is in progress (former-front included for scale and to reassure myself that the new sweater will, in fact, be bigger)

Little sweater-front, bigger sweater-front

Step four. I have a plan…

An ex-sweater…

What a difference a finish makes

Exactly when you call something ‘finished’ can be a matter for debate. Some artists are unable to stop themselves poking at their work, tweaking here and there. Of course, if you’re George RR Martin then you simply assume that it’s never going to be ‘finished’ and carry on more or less forever.

But hypothetically, work shouldn’t be finished until it’s Finished. Which in the case of woodwork usually involves a great deal of sandpaper. I am not one of life’s Completer-Finishers (Google Belbin’s Team Roles if that’s not a phrase that’s familiar), I am a Plant. Which means I have lots of ideas and am dreadful with follow-through. But occasionally I do have the discipline to come back to something and get it properly signed off. Which means that the two stools I recently finished  (small ‘f’) have now been sanded, sealed, sanded again, oiled and generally anointed with a variety of unguents and solvents. Which brings out the grain something lovely.

As a reminder, this is how they looked before – much paler and more uniform. You can see how they look almost naked by comparison – the tulipwood of the taller stool really liked the oil. The wood is also completely unprotected like this and will show dirt, sweat, grease etc.

The legs are all ash, but some of them are the beautiful dark ash, which comes up almost like olivewood. I love seeing the grain patterns, in particular the ‘bullseyes’ on the rounded sections.