Accidental sweater

Well, I had to babysit for a friend, and I didn’t know what size feet the current sock-recipient has, so obvs I had to start something new. And, rather handily, it turned out that the box I thought had Christmas decorations in it ACTUALLY HAD YARN STASH IN IT. So that was exciting, and far better than Christmas decorations. So I had to cast on a sweater.

This is the third time I’ve knit this pattern. Some patterns you just… make friends with. I knit the first one for Eldest Daughter when she was about six, and now the current six year old is wearing it.

Then I knit this one when another pattern didn’t work out that well and I needed something else to do with the yarn.

And now I’m knitting the biggest size. It’s in some Rowan Pure Wool DK that was frogged from a sweater that my mother knitted for Eldest Boy, plus some other Rowan DK that I have no recollection of buying but presumably did because stash fairies AREN’T REAL.

Happily I have discovered that GarnStudio have heaps more sweaters and accessories in this pattern, so I more or less plan to be knitting it until she goes to university or rebels, whichever is sooner.

Knitting weather!

The weather has recently done a temperature step – going from about 22ish most days to 14ish in a matter of 24 hours. This is particularly good because I want to pick up a couple of blankets I’ve been working on and frankly you can’t knit blankets in the summer (or at least I can’t. Too Hot.) This has also coincided with a slackening off of work, to my joy. When I want to knit in the evenings but have to spend them answering emails and catching up on the things I didn’t get done during the day (because I was answering emails) then the pleasure of just sitting in front of Brooklyn 99 with a sock can’t be overstated.

I’ve just finished a pair that are a leaving present for a friend. These are from Opal’s Hundertwasser range. I’d never heard of Hundertwasser before – he was an Austrian-born architect and artist who worked in New Zealand and was also an environmental activist (very much in my wheelhouse these days) – this is his Rainy Day on the Regentag:

Image result for hundertwasser regentag

And these are the socks thereof:Which I think is a pretty good interpretation of his picture. And the current pair on the needles are for Eldest Daughter, who is very much about rainbows and unicorns at the moment. Not sure how Eldest Son will feel about them when she grows out of them and he inherits them in about half a year (knitting socks for children is very much a keep’em coming exercise), but she’s going to love them. Yarn is West Yorkshire Spinners’ Signature 4ply in Rum Paradise

I also bought a new ball when I was in York a couple of weeks ago (because it’s SO RUDE to browse a yarn store in a new city without buying anything…) This is King Cole Zig-Zag, which I haven’t knitted with before, in Holly Berry – looks like a nice Christmassy colourway. These are going to be for a friend who has pretty big feet (as in, a size I didn’t actually know existed) so I’m not sure that one ball is going to cut it, but I’ll see.

Done-duh-duh-done-done-done

Behold, the Crazed Scandinavian Cowl:

This has taken a long time. Partly just because it’s a really long pattern (18 charts! Chart A to chart R!) but also because I was knitting other stuff and also kept running out of money to buy yarn. Happily Debbie Bliss didn’t abruptly decide to stop making Baby Cashmerino in the colours I was using (Ecru and Slate, for the curious).

The finished (unblocked) item is 82 inches long by 11 inches wide which is pretty much exactly the dimensions specified in the pattern – the baby cashmerino is ideal because it’s really soft to go around the neck and also a nice fingering weight. You need very similar amounts of the light and dark colour. I got through seven-and-some balls of the grey and six-and-some balls of the white – a bit more than is specified in the pattern, which suggests 822 metres (seven balls of each).

The only thing left to do is graft the ends together to turn it into a cowl, which – actually – I’m a bit hesitant about.

I unpicked the temporary cast-on at the bottom and put the stitches on a needle, ready to go, but I’m not convinced. You can also keep it as a scarf and I think I’m going to do that – just because it offers more options about how to wear it. I love that you can see all the patterns, and also the length and weight of it. Soooooo soft and cosy! (It’s basically four scarves in one, because the double-sided Fair Isle construction means you have four layers of yarn.)

Crazed Scandinavian Cowl in all its glory

Pretty sure it’s my new best friend.

Sooooooooocks!!

It’s been Too Long since I was able to knit any socks – largely because of the afore-complained-about yarn diet. But also because it felt as though the number of pairs of socks I had was about the right number – or possibly even too many – for one person. But I’m now going to take a stand and say There Is No Such Thing As Too Many Socks.

I’m completely and joyously selfish when it comes to socks – they’re the only thing I knit that I absolutely love wearing and I have done a splurge on not one, not two, but four balls of sockyarn. I don’t even have enough needles to knit them all at once…

I have some Rico Superba Poems in lovely foresty greens and shadows;

(this is already on the needles…

I have some West Yorkshire Spinners in chirpy turquoises and orange, which I’m hoping will knit into one of those clever Fair-Isle-y patterns,

and I have two balls of Scheepjes Our Tribe – one in passionate reds

and another in candyfloss bubblegummy pink.

This is very happy to me.

Too Many WIPS

A WIP is a Work In Progress, for any non-habitual knitters reading this, and at the moment I am in the stressful condition of having too many on the go.

This is partly to do with finances – although I am no longer a broke student, working half-time does mean that the yarn diet continues (this is seemingly going to be a perpetual state of affairs) – and partly to do with my mother’s endearing habit of knitting sweaters for the boys and their less endearing habit of growing. So I frog them to re-knit them bigger. But then, obviously, I run out of yarn. This means that this:

Julien sweater

and this:

Water Stripes sweater

are currently awaiting an infusion of cash and yarn.

There’s no real excuse for the Scandy cowl. I love this knit and the utter bonkers-ness of it, and a ball each of the Debbie Bliss Slate and Ecru would probably see me through to the end. I have knitted my way through charts A to Q and only have 41 rows of chart R left, so I just need to bite the bullet and get on with it.

This one, though…

This has been heartbreaking. It’s destined to be a colour-striped-with-grey blanket. It’s in 4ply and stocking stitch and there are about 600 stitches per row if not more. I dug it out after a hiatus and … it’s had moth. There were a couple of small holes that I could mend, but I had to grit my teeth and rip back about a foot of it because they’d eaten through a whole stripe of six rows. That represents at least a week’s worth of knitting. So I’ve done the hard part and ripped out all the holey section – now I ‘just’ need to re-do what had already been done before I can get into new colours, but it needs to go into the freezer for a bit to kill any pestiferous eggs, too.

Let’s not talk about the sampler squares that are destined for a blanket sitting in a bag under the desk.

Dreaming of being a blanket…

Oh, and the Eldest has just outgrown her Starshine, so it’s been handed down, so now she needs a new sweater…

Second verse, same as the first

Or more like fourth verse, actually. When I like a thing, I generally like it a lot.

Rowan Jack sweater

And I love this pattern: it’s great for boys and girls; it’s got exactly enough complexity to keep you interested so it feels quick to knit and that you’re not banging on and on forever in stocking-stitch – but not so much difficulty that you have to read the pattern every five minutes. The yarn washes well and can take the sort of temperatures you need to get out chocolate, ketchup etc; the shape is comfortable; it looks good on.

You wouldn’t believe the amount of direction it took to get this pose

World’s most reluctant knitwear model

So now I am in the embarrassing position (for them) of having matching sweaters for all the children. If you’re wondering why it’s four verses (same as the first), there was another one that got frogged because it was too small as soon as it was finished…

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.

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

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