Monday, April 25, 2011

northern skies

front view
I am ridiculously excited this week, because this silly hat I made won the Purl City yarns design competition accessories category and customers' choice award!

It's called Northern Skies, with apologies to I am Kloot, it can't do much for your rock'n'roll street cred to have a song commemorated in knitwear. I designed and made it in January to enter the Purl City 'Inspired by Manchester' design compo. I couldn't think of anything more typically Manc than a row of terraced houses, and I liked the idea of having them go all the way round a hat in a continuous circle. I also liked the idea of having stars in the sky, people always say you can't see them in a city, but it's not truuuuue, I should know I spend a lot of time in the gutter looking up at them.
top view
It was a little daunting to knit, the houses are all done in stranded colourwork so there's not a lot of stretch, but fortunately the fit around the head is pretty spot on. (Fits my head too, the model above has a pretty much adult sized head now!) The bit with the windows was fun, I just went for a random pattern with some lights on and some off. As a rule there aren't more than two windows next to each other in the same lighting state, as this makes for tricky long float/weaving in issues, which I prefer to avoid as much as possible. All my fingers were occupied by coping with three colours at once anyway. Yikes! Turns out it's quite doable, but a pretty immersive task. Good job I managed to get through those few rows without needing to answer the phone / scratch / point at anything.

The sky is Fyberspates Sparklesock in Midnight, which is dark blue with little silver spangles in, so it's just perfect. I embroidered a few extra stars on with this Drops Metallised silver thread, and also backstitched up and down between the houses in grey to outline them a bit. The grey is a slightly heavier weight, it's King Cole baby alpaca dk, and the brickwork is Lang Jawoll sock, but I quite like the way this gives the houses a strong, cartoonish outline. The roofs are purled to make them stand out a bit against the sky.
side view
I might get round to writing up the pattern some time soon, but I am quite bad at finding the time to do this, and tbh I'm not sure anyone else would be daft enough to make such a thing anyway. Rubbishknitterjunior likes it a lot though.

Thanks everyone who voted for my hat, and Purl City for the awesomely generous prize! :)


Saturday, April 16, 2011

lots of tiny socks

row of socks
I made these baby socks for a bring and buy sale today, to raise money for the premature baby unit at the local hospital.
I had a drawerful of tiny scrag-ends of left over sock yarn, so this seemed like a good opportunity to use it up. I quite like doing this sort of thing, you feel uberthrifty, and it gives you a chance to reminisce about Socks of Old.

The yarn line-up, from left to right in the picture above: Cygnet Wool Rich 4 ply (light brown), random nasty acrylic I scored in a bargain bin in Peru for about 1p (navy), Green eyed monsters supersock (pink/green stripy), Opal from the first ever pair of socks I made (green/pink/blue stripy), Violet Green supersock (purple). Apologies if you bought the navy pair, I'll admit you drew the short straw.
Pattern is my own.

I wanted to try and package them as appealingly as possible, using words like 'unique' and 'handcrafted' and not words like 'mindlessly churned out while watching Breaking Bad on the telly'. So I got these cute little handmade paper bags from Fred Aldous and labelled them up nicely.

I think most of them sold, i wasn't around at the end to check. It was fun to make them all, although I must admit it was getting a tad repetitive by the 5th pair - I was going to sleep counting turned heels instead of sheep. I think it's safe to say my next project will be bigger, and not socks :)


Monday, April 04, 2011

cardie win

happy wall standing
I almost forgot to post pictures of my finished cardigan! Probably because I did my usual trick of finishing a winter garment just in time for spring. I need to knit faster, or maybe just plan ahead a tad better. I had to go to Cumbria for the weekend to make sure extra sure I was somewhere cold enough to be able to wear it. Here I am, keeping warm while standing on an old midden. (This would have basically been a toilet for livestock in olden times - I know how to pick a glamorous spot for a picture.)


The pattern is Audrey in Unst from the Twist Collective, and the yarn is Austermann Alpaca silk, that I got from Purl City yarns on opening day. This is, like, megaluxury yarn, i love it! Putting it on is such a comforting treat, it's just so soft and warm, with that slight alpacay hairiness that makes it like a favourite pet.

stands on walls
I also think it's the best fitting thing I've managed to make myself so far, it's loose without being comically baggy, just really comfortable and wearable. Yay!

The only modification I made was to make it a bit longer. In the pattern it's quite cropped, but I like jeans and jumpers to safely overlap. Particularly as I cycle around a lot, I feel it's both more comfortable and more considerate to keep one's arsecrack under wraps. I basically cast on the 36.5" size and lengthened the twisted ribbing by an inch or two. Then carried on decreasing to the waist for the 34.5" size, then followed the pattern for the smaller size.
It was loads of fun to make, and really easy, all knitted seamlessly from the bottom up. The twisted rib / stocking stitch section was mindless enough for tv knitting, and the unst lace panel at the front was an interesting diversion before nice easy short row sleeves. The sleeves were super quick to knit, I've not done a short row sleeve cap before but it really was a lot less faff than a set-in one. (Once I'd worked out how to pick up stitches tidily). Another new thing for me was the i-cord cast off round the neck. I have totally and completely fallen in love with this cast off method. It just looks really solid and pleasing, I really don't mind that it takes loads longer.

The only slight downside is that one side of the lace panel was knitted on my bus commute to work, and the other side in Port Street Beer House. I didn't notice until blocking that this had affected my tension rather noticably - I was considerably more relaxed in the pub! I kind of like that though. One of my favourite things about knitting a big project like this is the way you can look at different bits of it and remember where you were when you were knitting it. I'm in no danger of forgetting with this one ;)
unst lace close up