Better… for now

It’s not that I’m super-picky, but I do like my finished objects to more or less resemble the pattern they were knitted from. (Okay, I am also super-picky…) The Mr Darcy was so far from where it was supposed to be that it bugged me and made me wince every time The Man wore it. (Despite this he insisted he loved it, even though it stretched nearly to thigh-length. Or possibly because of this…) Whether it was the Debbie Bliss Riva, or the seamless construction method, or the stitch pattern, or all of the above, I don’t know. But it was enough to make me take the wretched thing to task and rip it, rip it, rip it. (Not as fun as it sounds, because the Riva is quite ‘sticky’ and likes to stay where it’s been knit).

So after winding it all into large, fuzzy, kinked balls with little felted chunks falling off it everywhere, I started again. This time I stuck with a pattern I knew – the plain and simple chunky sweater from yarnforward.com. This was one of the first things I knitted The Man in 2009 and he still wears the pants off this one:

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There’s also been a purple iteration:

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and a variegated-grey one, of which we shall not speak because I accidentally felted it in the washing machine and it came out with no other future than to be a blanket for my mother’s cats.

So – the pattern seemed like a safe bet. I made it slightly longer than the pattern requires because he will pull his sweaters down all the time, but other than that I knitted the same size I’ve knit him before.

Reader, I f*cked up. For the last two years The Man has been doing weights on a regular basis, and while the older sweaters have stretched with him… this one? This new one, knit from yarn that I’d frogged from the other sweater I knit him?

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It’s too small. There’s every chance that I am going to have to knit this damn thing again.

Exactly the right number of projects

This is a problem I have mentioned before. The How Many Projects Is The Right Number Of Projects Problem. Knitters who are good at project-monogamy won’t recognise this problem. There are, I am told, people who can start a project, knit along on it, finish it and move on to the next project. I have no idea how they do this.

Others, of which (whom?) I am one, have more of a kid-in-a-candy-store approach. “Oooh, new yarn!” *casts on*. “Oooh, I like what SHE’s knitting!” *casts on* “Oh, someone asked me for socks!” *casts on*

So for a start there’s the excitement factor of Beginning a New Thing (I thought about including a joke along the lines of flirting with some light fingering – which is a pun, obv, not just a rude single entendre – but couldn’t really make it work).

There’s also the fact that not all projects can be worked on in all circumstances. You don’t, for example, want to be taking a two-thirds finished sweater on the bus to knit. Too big, too much to lug around, too intrusive. You also can’t follow a complicated lace or Fair Isle chart whilst trying to follow complicated storylines in a film. Trust me, either your knitting or the plot suffers from a lack of attention.

Finally there’s the for-me-undeniable truth that project-monogamy is – frankly – boring. I heard once that Ridley Scott worked on three screenplays simultaneously on three different desks depending on what he was feeling like at the time. Projects are like that for me. BUT (and this is a big BUT) (f’nar etc) – You Can’t Have Too Many Or You Get Knitter’s Guilt. This can come in many forms – some people stress over the size of their stash, others about self-imposed and probably arbitrary deadlines. I get guilt if I have too much stuff on the go. Nothing gets any proper attention or work, nothing makes progress, it all just sits there guilting me out.

So the nub of the problem is this: I need knitting that can be done on the bus or train. I need knitting that requires being spread out over a large area (for those Netflix-and-chill evenings). I need knitting that requires concentration and effort. I need knitting that requires zero concentration and effort. I need long projects. I need short projects.

And, knitters, right now I have the Answer. I have The Perfect Balance. I have three projects on the go:

A sweater for the Husband, frogged from the disastrous Mr Darcy (added bonus here that the yarn was FREE because of being from something else!)

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Socks for me (probably) in a plain-vanilla but still attractive rib pattern

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A cowl, also probably for me, in a pleasingly duochrome (is that a word?) Fair Isle pattern that looks insanely complicated but is actually pleasingly challenging without being tears-of-frustration difficult.

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I Am Happy.

Unsatisfactory. Do it again.

This is to do with a sweater that I knitted last winter for The Husband. The pattern’s from knitty.com; Mr Darcy is a lovely-looking plainish man-sweater.darcyBEAUTY

Husband won’t wear anything too fancy or patterned, so this moss stitch in a variegated yarn is about as much as I can get away with. SONY DSCThe yarn seemed fine too – Debbie Bliss’s Riva is reasonably priced, comes in some man-friendly colourways, and is warm.

However…

This is a very non-constructed sweater – ie it’s knitted in the round, you divide for the yokes to knit up to the neck and then the sleeves are picked-up and knitted down to the wrists. The only seam is the three-needle bound-off shoulders. And therein lies the rub. No seams makes for a seriously sloppy sweater in the Riva and I really wouldn’t use this yarn again for a project of this size. Because it’s knitted in the round there’s nothing to stop it stretching in any direction and it’s not only got rather longer but it looks pretty formless when it’s on. SONY DSCYou can see from the picture that it’s been pulled out into almost a skirt shape. I promise there’s no shaping doing that! The neck is supposed to be a short funnel-neck with a little roll but because the weight of the sweater pulls it all out it ends up as more of a boat-neck. I would use the pattern again but it’s actually pretty displeasing to me the way it is and if Him Indoors didn’t like it so much I’d probably pull it apart and reknit with seams. I’d take some of the length off too.

In a word. Unsatisfactory.

Winter is coming…

The English summer is dicey at best, so I am taking some advice from the Starks (I’m assuming that literally everyone else in the world has also read the Game of Thrones books) and preparing for winter.  So Eriskay is proceeding apace:

SONY DSCIt’s a pleasing dark pink (Frangipani Crushed Raspberry 5ply gansey yarn) and although it’s knit in 5ply on 2.75mm needles and is a big sweater, I’m hoping to have it finished before next winter. There’s a long way to go, though.

So in the meantime I wanted to knit something fast on huge needles and went to the opposite end of the spectrum – chunky yarn (Debbie Bliss Riva) on 7mm needles.  I made up the super-simple pattern – 15 repeats of basketweave stitch (120 stitches), knit in the round. I knit till I had a balance of patterns at top and bottom while still having enough yarn to do an Elizabeth-Zimmerman sewn bindoff  (the stretchiest bindoff there is). This was three balls-worth. It’s long enough to go twice round my neck snugly and deep enough to use as a hood if I want to. The Denim colourway I used doesn’t have as much colour-change as some of the Riva colourways but it’s a nice mix of blues.

SONY DSCHere’s hoping that the English summer isn’t so bad that I end up wearing this immediately.

Knitting and whistling

It became obvious after the last post that there was No Way On Earth that I was going to get the whole remainder of the border out of the teeny, tiny ball of wool that remained, so clearly I knitted some way past that point just to prove it beyond all possibility of doubt. The offending shawl is now in the stash box waiting for me to take a sufficiently deep breath to frog the lot. I’ve decided against frogging it halfway and re-doing – largely because I never enjoyed knitting these patterns and definitely don’t want to do it again, but also because I was never really convinced that such a variegated yarn suited such a variegated pattern. I think something simpler is called for, and it might just be this:  Bethany Kok’s shipwreck shawl. Which I’ve wanted to do for ages. It appears to require 1200m so I should be safe with my 1500m (you can appreciate why I might be slightly nervous about this).

Anyway, with a shawl-to-be-frogged lurking menacingly in the stash the only thing to do, clearly, was knit a load of other stuff while whistling nonchalantly. So there’s this:

and this:

and this:

and this:

The two sweaters are both in Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran, and both Debbie Bliss patterns. The striped one is her Cosy Sweater from Essential Kids and the Fair Isle one is Nell from Junior Knits. I added the patterns because I knew I didn’t have enough of the orange. (Plus I thought the children might object to matching orange sweaters).

The shawl is for a new baby due in the spring (mine) – a traditional cats paw pattern. I’m taking it and the other border patterns that I’ll be doing from Heirloom Knitting, which is my go-to book for Shetland lace.

Finally, Elijah the Elephant – one of Ysolda Teague’s perfect animal knits. This is the third Elijah I’ve done and I’m finally happy. Finding the perfect soft grey chunky merino has made him a lovely cosy elephant in a nice size for a toddler.

Polar Bear, also known as Pooh and Woody

The Bear has a habit of renaming things depending on her current obsession, so my latest FO has been renamed several times already and will answer to any of them. Originally he was Ysolda Teague’s Otto, and a very nice pattern he is too!

I knitted him in Debbie Bliss’s cashmerino chunky on 5mm needles. You can knit Ysolda’s toys in any weight yarn but obviously the fatter the yarn the bigger the toy!

He took three balls plus about a metre. You need needles slightly smaller than you’d normally use for the yarn so that you get a tight fabric that the stuffing doesn’t leak through. He’s about 18 inches tall and is a very quick knit – half a dozen evenings of knitting time. He’s not a knit-in-front-of-a-DVD item though because you need to read the pattern for pretty much every row. If I’d just sat down and hammered through, I think he could be done in a couple of evenings. So Otto/Polar Bear/ Pooh/ Woody is a very welcome addition to the house! I really want to do another Elijah as well but there are too many other things on the needles…

Killing a sweater

Sometimes there are things that just never work out. Three years ago I knitted a sweater for the Husband that he loved – a plain stocking stitch baggy sweater with a roll collar – out of Sirdar Peru. So far so good.

Then I knitted another one out of Paton’s Eco Wool. It didn’t go right from the very beginning – I had a puddle a mile wide in the back that I frogged and reknit using alternate balls of yarn.

Still, it got finished and there it was, another sweater. But it never looked right, and although it got worn very dutifully, it was never what you might call popular. And secretly I must have really hated it, because I washed it yesterday, and although I would have sworn black and blue that it went on a cold wool wash, it came out of the washing machine this morning looking rather different:

Bear in mind that yesterday it was the same size as the red one. It might fit a child if the child didn’t mind not being able to move their arms all that much.

So that solves that one – the Sweater That Never Worked is now defunct. And I can stop feeling guilty about the 10 balls of Sirdar Peru in a lovely purple that I bought on ebay – now it’s going to be a replacement sweater! Anyone know what to do with a few square feet of felted wool? And does anyone want the remaining five balls of Paton’s Eco Wool??