Mystery knits from the freezer

Okay, so I had kind of forgotten about this one…  I was having a bit of a tidyup in the freezer (because I store all the woollen hats and scarves and gloves in the freezer during the summer to keep the moth-demons away) and found this lurking at the bottom underneath some pizzas.

A quick try-on reveals that it is, miraculously, still just about big enough for the child it was originally intended for (though the shirt it was supposed to go over has been outgrown), so I think I’d better pick it back up.

This one has had a troubled history… it was first knitted by a kind grandmother for Boy 1, but then he outgrew it and rather than wait for Boy 2 to grow into it, I thought I’d reknit it as something else for Boy 1. It had been heavily cabled with a pocket on the front, so I was pretty sure that I’d have enough for a plain pattern. I picked Julien by Drops and planned to make it a sleeveless pullover. So I frogged the cabled sweater.

The next problem was that I had no idea what yarn it was, thought it was a 4ply and used needles accordingly. Friends, it was not 4ply. I knitted the whole thing without bothering to check my gauge, and realised extremely belatedly it was far too dense a fabric, and had come up far too small. (It did look nice, though.)

So I sighed, and frogged the sweater – again- and figured out that in fact it was more like a sportweight and would function perfectly adequately with 3.25 needles, so here we are again. Just need to do sleeveless sleeves now.

(you can’t tell, but it’s bigger)

I’m calling it Colin

This sweater is called – by the good folk at Sublime – Boris.SONY DSC

But it doesn’t look like a Boris. Boris conjures images of enormous blond eastern-European men in tight black polo-necks (leaving aside for a moment the shudder-inducing vision of Boris Johnson in a tight black polo-neck). This sweater is much geekier than that – with its ribbed stand-up collar and its big buttons there is more of librarian than KGB killer about it.

It’s also, frankly, doing my head in this morning. Descending from the high-flown world of pattern names and getting down to brass tacks, it asks me to pick up 31 stitches up and down each side of the neck. Where’s the problem? Well, that ‘each side of the neck’ represents only about two inches of knitting – five stitches across and ten rows up, to be precise.SONY DSC

Getting 31 stitches out of that has proven to be more than my temper and will-to-get-it-right will bear. So I’m eight stitches short each side and count myself lucky to have got that many. I am prepared to rip it back if it becomes clear I’ve got it wrong, but so far it looks fine.

Colin is coming along nicely.SONY DSC

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).

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…

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!

Giving something up for Lent

I’m feeling guilty about the projects languishing half-finished, marked as ‘hibernating’ in my Ravelry list. It’s a dangerous thing, that category – having projects hibernating makes it sound as though at a perfect time of their choosing they’ll emerge yawning and blinking and finish themselves off. Which is clearly not the case, as I’ve had a sampler aran blanket hibernating for about two and a half years now (since I restarted knitting, pretty much). Along with various other projects, some of which are official (ie have a pattern, enough yarn and I know what I’m doing with them) and some of which are a bit random (don’t really have a pattern, possibly not enough yarn, or not the right sort of yarn, or I’ve forgotten where I was going with it). An example of the latter would be 12 inches of i-cord, which doubtless had a purpose at some point but now I have no idea what I thought I was going to use it for.

All of which is a preamble to a Lenten resolution. Not that I’m a Catholic, but I was brought up as one and having 40 days of doing something seems like a respectable amount of time without being endless. During Lent I Will Not Start Any New Projects and I will try VERY hard to finish up some of the ones on the go. Regardless of whether they’re flagged as Works In Progress or Hibernating. Starting with the blanket. These are some of the squares – let’s see where we get to.

Hello, finish line

Well, the socks are done – ironically (as I’d busted a move to finish them) their recipients won’t be here to get them, but at least they’re ready! 

They’ll look a lot prettier when modelled by their owners, though that might not be for a few weeks. All of which means I can go back to the Bear’s Debbie Bliss hoodie – currently in this state:

I’m altering Debbie’s pattern slightly on the sleeve as I don’t like the look of an additional cable coming in halfway up the sleeve, so I’m just moss-stitching it. I’ve been faithfully following Sharon’s instructions for the shoulder seam, and I’m very pleased with how it looks:

No bump, no bulky seam, just a nice smooth join.

Pink twist

This is such a cute knit, like so many Debbie Bliss patterns.

I adapted it only slightly – I don’t like neck seams so I joined both shoulders and knitted the neck in the round.  I was panicking quietly as I approached the end because I was down to a couple of metres of the main colour yarn, but I had just enough left to sew it up. The pattern is indeed correct – three balls of the main colour yarn are enough. Just!

And I’m also now a complete convert to mattress stitch. I hadn’t realised previously when I’d tried it that you need a garter stitch edging to make a neat mattress-stitch join. Last time I did it the seam was horrible so I’ve stuck to oversewing, but I read an article about it recently and thought I’d give it another go with a garter stitch selvedge. Very nice indeed!

If I didn’t know where it was I wouldn’t be able to spot it, I don’t think. So thank you to Grumperina for her fantastic tutorial! I can’t find it on her blog now or I’d link to it.

Finally an FO!

I can’t remember the last time I actually finished something – I think it was the baby berets. Maybe making baby knits has accustomed me to finishing things every week! But after  the trial that was the alphabet blanket, it was nice to finish off a little cardigan for The Bear this week. Needs blocking, of course.

Little Cable and Cable

It’s for her to wear to a wedding we’re going to in a couple of weeks (I have no idea at this point what I’m going to wear, but given that The Bump seems to be increasing by the day at the moment, I may have to decide simply on the basis of whatever still fits!)

I stuffed up the pattern very slightly, skipping a pattern repeat, but that was no bad thing as otherwise I’d have run out of yarn, and the repeats vary depending on the sizing anyway. It’s pretty though – I might knit her another in a different yarn a couple of sizes up.

The pattern was a freebie from Prima (originally from the Sublime Organic Cotton book). Not brilliantly clearly explained, but not too bad. I used Rowan Organic DK Cotton, which does actually knit to a dk tension, unlike some (stand up Debbie Bliss, whose cotton dk knits up to an aran tension). And now I get to ask again, what’s next?  Hello mojo!

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