Finished Shepherd

And here it is, a finished Shepherd.SONY DSC

I love the buttons, which I got at totallybuttons – they’ve got a pretty slighty-Celtic-feeling leaf design carved out of black wood, and I was really pleased to find them. Though somehow I managed to fit in an extra buttonhole – Kate specifies a buttonhole every three inches but for me that resulted in seven, not six!SONY DSC

I was pleased by how much lateral stretch there was in the blocking – it had seemed pretty tight when I was trying it on as I knitted, but I had no problem blocking it out to the measurements Kate gives.SONY DSC

I was also very pleased with how the yarn (West Yorkshire Spinners aran-weight bluefaced Leicester) responded to blocking – and for all those who think blocking is a waste of time, check out the difference in the yarn before and after blocking. It’s nearly doubled in volume, which means that the fabric of your garment will fill in nicely and soften up too.SONY DSC

HOWEVER. I really am not a fan of the sleeves. For a start, as I mentioned earlier, I don’t like knitting decreases in seed stitch as knit stitches (Kate gives a k2tog and a skpo) because I think too many knit stitches show up in seed stitch far more than too many purl stitches (example below). So it didn’t take me long to decide to purl all the seed stitch decreases.SONY DSC

What is also clear, though, is that Kate must have very skinny arms! I knitted the third size up, which has a 38″ chest. Now that’s got a couple of inches of positive ease, so it’s broadly aimed at a 12-14 size (UK sizes – 8-10 in the US) person. I knitted that size because I have broad shoulders and long arms – the rest of me is a size 10 – so I would have expected the sleeves to be comfortable. But they’re more or less skintight. I mean, really snug. Not so I actually can’t get my arm through or anything, but really noticeably close-fitting.  I knew the first one was tight but wanted to give the pattern the benefit of the doubt and also see what happened in the blocking, so I knitted the second one as per instructions too. I’m very tempted to frog the sleeves back up past the elbow or higher and do fewer decreases, especially as I have plenty of yarn left.

It’s cosy and warm, and on me skims my hips nicely, but in the wearing, the heaviness of the hood tends to pull the whole garment backwards and puts quite a lot of strain on the top button, so I might see how it goes and frog some of the hood. Hopefully I can take some of the weight off without losing the pixie shape.SONY DSC

For anyone interested, for me this size used about 1450 metres (the pattern is fairly unspecific about what different sizes might require in the way of yarn).

No self control

Over the years it has been borne in upon me that when it comes to starting new projects I have no self control at all. New yarn? Cast it on! New idea? Cast it on! Knit on it obsessively for a week! Then do something else new! I have the attention span of a gnat.

Which is why the baby blanket for the baby (who has now arrived and is having to use Other Blankets) is languishing on the needles, with three sides of edging still to go. (I have run out of yarn for this one and on my currently zero income am not buying any more for a bit. It’ll be done before he leaves home.)

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The jacket for the Bear is half done (I have Mary Poppins shouting “Well Begun Is Half Done!” in my head. Not that it’s terribly obvious to me what that actually means, other than Finish The Job.)

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The linen stitch scarf, while proceeding beautifully, is necessarily a lengthy project (pun half-intended).

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The gansey for me remains a four-inch wonder (though in mitigation I plead that I have lent the circular needle for this to my mother and therefore CAN’T make any progress on it.) When done it will look like this:

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And which is why the most obvious thing to do was therefore to cast on another two pairs of socks. (Sockyarn as always from Violet Green – Emerald City – top – and Rushen Coatie.)

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I roll my eyes at myself, I really do.

Blanketed

The Blanket is finally Done. If I thought the beaded cardigan had a long gestation, this has had a longer one! Started November 2007 and finished TODAY!

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The border was a lift from this afghan from the Rainey Sisters‘ blog and really makes the edges look neat.

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The finished blanket is 6ft x 5ft (183cm x 152cm) – about double-bed size. It could really do with blocking en masse (I did block the squares individually too) but that’ll have to wait for summer weather and a nice hot day to dry on the grass. I’m really pleased – it took a while but I finally got the blanket I wanted!

Right – next blanket…

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.

Enough squares now

This is the last block I’ve got yarn for – then it’s on to another project. I haven’t got a blocking board so blocking things square is tricky, but I realised a blue blanket I have is divided into squares, so I blocked a couple of blocks (including the new one) to see how it went. Nice and easy!

(That is actually square.) Got seventeen blocks now – another seven and that’s a queen-sized blanket!

Take a deep breath, and pull

Having looked highly critically at the blocks for the blanket that I’d knitted so far, it became painfully clear that back when I was first knitting them I totally failed to take into account little things like gauge/tension. Or the fact that when you have massive cables in a thing, the thing may get pulled towards the middle. Some of the blocks are radically different sizes from each other, both heightwise and widthwise, and there’s only so much you can fix with blocking.

The other thing was that I clearly forgot quite what I was doing and changed how many rows and stitches of garter stitch I used as a border each time. However, I think I can get away with that – what’s one stitch more or less between friends?

However this one:

And this one:

have had to be frogged. The first one because those enormous cables basically made the block a figure-8 shape (should have cast on extra stitches if I wanted it square) and the second one because it was about an inch wider than the widest of any of the others and there’s a limit to what can be shrunk. I’d rather start again! Sadly though it turns out that bobbles are impossible to frog. I have no idea why, but I ended up with aran spaghetti. Bin!

A glow of righteousness!

Is it cheating on your ‘no new projects’ resolution if the project that you’re dutifully finishing actually consists solely of short new projects? Anyway, it works for me. Twenty days of diligently knitting on my sampler aran afghan and I have the following:

and about two inches of a sixth block. They’re all knit/purl pattern blocks, as I’ve already got lots of cable ones. Now I have sixteen blocks (out of 25) which feels like most of a blanket. I’m about to run out of yarn, though, and as I’m on a strict yarn diet (the stash is far too big and I’ve got at least three sweaters to knit for summer) this puppy’s going to have to go back into hibernation for now. Bring on the next hibernatee!