Monday, March 24, 2008

easter woolliness

I bet nobody else in the UK thought of taking this Easter daffodils-in-snow shot... pretty original hey?!

Well, as you can see, where I was this weekend it was pretty damn parky. Brrrr. Good job then that I had just finished the butterfly
Seaming Procrastination Project - a nice warm stripy scarf for my fella.

I love wearing scarves, but I've always had a bit of a phobia of making them - I just find the endless linearity a little tiresome. But this was the perfect antidote to all that finger-chafing white 4 ply acrylic in the butterfly cardigan - a big soft colourful lapwarming thing of lovely posh yarn, and I didn't get bored at all making it.

It's made of 4 balls of grey Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk Aran that Santa was kind enough to bring me, striped with the obligatory Noro Silk Garden - 2 balls worth. Just a plain 1x1 rib, 35 stitches, with a slip stitch edge to cunningly hide the yarn being carried up the side. Idea stolen from here. I also discovered the delights of spit-splicing with these yarns - a bit minging, but no ends to weave in - hurrah! Definitely a good thing for a scarf, where there is no wrong side to hide my woeful weaving efforts.

I also made a small pilgrimage on Friday to the Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop. What an awesome place... so many nice things to stroke! Piles of soft lustrous curly fleeces! I obviously couldn't leave without a small haul of some lovely wensleydale aran. 2 balls of natural undyed (from a black sheep), which is already a rubbishknitter hatmaking favourite from christmas present time. And some of a nice calming grey-green-blue colour ('fennel').
It was snowing outside, how could I not?! I'm afraid in a rather unknitterly moment, I also succumbed to a pair of woolly lined baby booties. But I defy anyone else not to, having stuck a finger inside on a cold day. If only my feet were about 5cm long! (Although actually, this might make me look a bit silly, and make walking somewhat problematic. If any genies are listening - scratch that wish please - cheers)


Sunday, March 09, 2008

seamfest 2k8: the good, the bad and the ugly

Is now over! *small fanfare*

So I tackled this fairly uninspiring looking baby cardie as a kind of learn-how-to-seam project. I've always been the top down raglan type up till now, but I thought a small seamed project might help me lose some of my trepidation in this area.

In the interests of experimentation I did each seam in a different way. Look, this is for a newborn baby, it's not going to be too bothered about consistency of finishing techniques is it?!. And if it is... well, it's going to be a few years before it can sue me. So here is my appraisal of various seaming techniques, each executed with my customary mixture of brute force and ignorance. Hopefully I and other blog readers can apply these lessons learned to other garments. More important ones, like ones for ourselves :)

rubbish neck seam
So first of all, here is The Bad. The button bands were, rather weirdly, knitted at the same time as the front pieces. Then there was a stepped cast-off at the shoulder, then you are supposed to keep knitting the button band on its own until it is long enough to go halfway round the back. When you've done the other side, and seamed the shoulders, these two halves of the button band should meet magically exactly in the centre, where you somehow invisibly join them.

Mine didn't. One side was longer than the other, and I had a slight surplus of fabric where they overlapped. I thought I'd cunningly sew this down flat but it didn't work terribly well. Hmm. Should probably have frogged back a bit, but I was nervous about stretching the ends of the neckband across a gap and distorting the way the back hung. I think I prefer picking up stitches for button bands...

The Ugly... Well I attempted to crochet the seam at the shoulder, just for a bit of a laugh. And because it looked pretty awesome when Yan Tan Tethera did it. I think this would have worked fine if it weren't for the stepped edging. There was just enough of a verrrry gentle slope to make this shoulder kind of unseamable really. There was a good article in the Spring issue of Interweave Knits about finishing that suggests that stepped cast offs should be generally avoided like the plague for this reason. It suggests doing short rows and a three needle cast off instead. Maybe I'll try that next time. Ho hum!

On a more positive note, I think the other slanty seams on the sleeves, where I went for a good old fashioned backstitch, worked a bit better. This was a bit of an easier angle to attempt I think. I did a slip stitch edge and backstitching under this was pretty easy and possibly the swiftest line of attack.

And to end on a more upbeat note, to leave you with a nice warm fuzzy feeling inside, The Good: I think possible candidates are the backstitched seam where the sleeve meets the body, and the mattress-stitched side edge.

Mine looks nothing like the pattern of course. It looked a bit boring to make with all that plain stocking stitch and purl ridges, so I went for a basic butterfly stitch lace pattern. The baby is due in July so it only needs lightweight clothes. Also I don't like the mawkish cutesieness of a lot of baby knits, so the hearts on that bottom cardie made me feel a bit queasy. I'm glad I don't have to look at them any more!