Tuesday, May 26, 2009

ode to Noro

knitters crack
Oh, your twig content is high
And your knots are many
Buggering up many a carefully planned stripe sequence
Some say you are scratchy
Although my peasanty skin doesn't mind
You have hidden unexpected colours
Which jump out alarmingly from the middle of the ball
In short, i have some issues with you
But will keep buying you
(As an occasional treat,
because you cost a bomb and I am brassic)
Basically I can't resist you
Because your colours are Soooooo Preeeeetty.

The End.

This is Turn a Square from brooklyntweed, a present for a friend of mine who enjoys a woolly hat. Noro Silk Garden colour 236, striped with Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in Anthracite. Nice quick easy knit, but not at all boring with those pretty colour changes going on... sometimes we all need a bit of Noroey goodness.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

crafty balls up of the day

alcohol and knitting, together at last
Heaven forbid you may, one day, find yourself in a situation where the last few projects you have done have all had Tension Issues. This sorry state of affairs may lead you to rethink your devil-may-care knitting attitude and actually, like, do a proper swatch for something.

Should this unfortunate set of circumstances ever arise, you might decide that you really are going to do what you're told this time, and wash and block the swatch.

If you do go to all this effort, it would be somewhat foolish to render it all useless by not actually bothering to wait till the swatch is dry before you measure it. This will lead you to panic, wonder why your gauge is so loose, and cast on a couple of sizes too small. It's only a day later while a stroke of incredible good fortune leads you to casually repurpose your swatch as a beer holder, that you may notice it has shrunk considerably. Wet things are bigger than dry things.

Ah well, back to the original size that I was going to cast on for anyway before I had this foolhardy swatching idea....

I suppose this whole sorry misadventure has at least given me this attractive beerholder though.

It may, or may not ever evolve into Eunny Jang's Deep V Argyle Vest. Maybe with a slightly shallower V. Having breastfed a baby for nearly a year now, I'm looking forward to putting my boobs away for a bit. Under some nice Rowan RYC Cashsoft DK.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

wobbly but finished

finiiiiiished! phew
The lace scarf is done. No, it doesn't look like the picture in the magazine. Where others have successfully crocheted a border, I seem to have accidentally attached a hyperbolic plane to the outside of the scarf. The border was supposed to be straight, but mine ended up slightly ridiculously frilly. I think partly because I chose to use more laceweight to edge it, rather than 4 ply as the pattern suggested. A thicker yarn here may have provided more structural integrity. (I was too short on time to go shopping, and that was the best co-ordinating colour I could find in the yarn cupboard!). Also, fairly obviously, I put in far too many crochet stitches round the long sides of the scarf. Gah. I love crochet edgings but feel like I am standing at the bottom of a precipitous Learning Cliff, which I am inching up one crumbling fingerhold at a time.

Still, I don't really have time to redo it, so it'll have to remain in its current state of non-Euclidean geometry. I totally enjoyed doing this project - it was at all times engaging and absorbing and the lace pattern is lovely. With it being a fairly narrow scarf, it grows pretty quickly too. I even had time to make mine slightly longer than the pattern suggested, by about 10 cm. This makes it a nice wearable length I think, it's possible to wear it doubled and looped through with the crochet end bits showing. I may even make another one some time as I have enough of this laceweight left to knit a cosy for my house...


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

speed lace

lacey scarf
I think five days before a wedding is an ideal time to start a handknitted gift for the bride.

There's nothing particularly impetuous or foolish about casting on a project from a magazine the day it arrives in the post, before you've even finished reading it. (Lace Scarf from the Summer Interweave Knits, if you're wondering)

Not if you have the perfect yarn, that's been sitting in the cupboard for ages, a big cone of lovely laceweight alpaca that you got from a dodgy back street Peruvian yarn shop. And it's alright, look! Someone on ravelry has made it in two days, so it's totally doable. I bet she also had a small grumpy baby to look after. And it was probably also her first attempt at a proper lace thing. She probably paused to blog about it in those two days too. So it's all perfectly reasonable. No need to panic, or wonder why on earth you have such a lack of forward planning ability, leaving you with such crazy self-imposed deadlines...

Er.. might just put down this brew and get back to that knitting then...

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Trotting to Avalon

Hooray for rain. Sun, begone! Because the recent chilly murky windy weather makes it ok to wear my new hoodie. All the time. Indoors. With the hood up. I seriously may never take this off.

This is definitely my favourite thing that I've made so far for comfort value. The yarn, Sublime Extra Fine Merino, feels really, really nice next to the skin - light and soft like cotton, but warm like wool. When I die I want to fall into a big pile of this yarn, maybe with some puppies mixed in.

The pattern is Riding to Avalon, although for me it was accomplished at something of a trotting pace. I set off on the journey last autumn and dismounted several times along the way. On some occasions the horse went backwards and it only really managed to break into a gentle canter in the last couple of weeks. This final burst of speed only happened really because it was getting quite embarrassing pulling out the same jumper again and again at knitting group - the hood had only grown by about an inch during the time it took a friend to make an entire wrap cardigan out of 4 ply. So essentially the hood is knitted from Shame and sewn up with Rubbishness. And it shows! The hood is a bit wonky. Unfortunately I think this happened at the point where I picked up stitches around the neckband - I must have picked up more on one side than the other, because the centre line is a little off-kilter. So to fix it I would need to unravel a good couple of months worth of telly knitting, and now Mad Men has finished I'm not sure I have the inclination to redo it. So for now, it will remain wonky. It doesn't bother me that much - if I have to have the hood up, I'm probably out in extreme weather conditions, in which case I am not too worried about my appearance. Or doing a drive-by, and I wouldn't be too worried about it then either.

buttony sleevegood jumper for dog-ticklingwonky hood

Cock-eyed hood aside, the most remarkable thing about the making of this jumper for me has been the incredible series of strokes of luck when making it. It's almost impossible to even believe the first thing. I accidentally knitted the sleeve cap the wrong way round on the first sleeve, making the buttons on the outside cuff instead of on the inside as the pattern dictated. This is not a particularly obvious mistake, and happened because I mixed up the start-of-row and middle-of-row stitch markers. I looked at it and thought about frogging but then, on reflection, decided that I actually preferred the buttons there. Later when I looked at the pattern page on Ravelry, I noticed with horror that there was an errata. (Erratum?!). But in a stroke of unbelievably good fortune, the errata suggests doing exactly what I had accidentally done. Unfreakingbelievable! And I hadn't seen the errata before so I couldn't have subliminally absorbed and processed this information. I think the gods of knitting were smiling upon me.

As if that wasn't enough, another mindbogglingly fortuitous event occurred. When I got to the hood, I was on my last ball of wool, and starting to panic. There clearly wasn't enough left to finish the thing, and I had bought a load on spesh that was probably cheap because it was discontinued or something. I was too scared to even think about what I was going to do. I mentioned the problem to, like, one person - my friend Britt, who said, Oh I happen to have a couple of spare balls of that exact yarn in that exact shade that I don't need for anything and you are welcome to have. I mean, really... how awesome is that?!? I couldn't actually bring myself to believe it was true until I had seen the evidence with my own eyes... and it was *exactly* the amount I needed to finish the jumper. Britt, you are a superstar... thankyou very very much!

The only thing that I modified (intentionally!) about the jumper was the button loops. The pattern suggested crocheting 16 button loops separately and then attaching them. The idea of this was a bit hair-raising, so I was relieved to discover this method for crocheted button loops (about halfway down the page). I basically slipstitched along the edge, at intervals doing a short chain, slipstitching it down and double crocheting back along. I really like this finish: as well as being much easier to do, it neatens off the slightly raggedy edge and gives a bit of extra sturdiness. My loops are a little twisty as I think I may have been crocheting into the wrong bit of the chain. Yes, I really am that much of a crochet numpty. But I did them all wrong in the same way so at least it's consistent! I quite like the overall effect.

Also probably worth mentioning for anyone else who attempts this is that there was a bit of a roll at the bottom of the jumper despite the few rows of garter stitch - I don't think there were quite enough there to weight down the natural curl of the stocking stitch section. Following Katie's wise advice I gave it a stern blocking and it obediently lay down. I dunno though, if I end up having to do this every time I wash it, it may end up being quicker to add a crochet edging. I am crochet edging queen now! I'm going to edge everything in the world with crochet! Really.

The fit is a little baggy. I don't know whether this is because of my inability to swatch properly, or because I measured myself for this quite soon after giving birth, or more probably a little bit of both. I don't mind though, I think with a casual jumper of this nature you need a bit of positive ease. Well, a lot in my case. *Puts trayful of pies in oven gleefully*.