Friday, 29 June 2012


Do you enjoy reading about other people's nutty knitting pursuits (as I do)? About their, ahem, knitting obsessions? If so, read on ...

One of my favourite features on Ravelry is the 'friend activity' tab (where is it? under 'my notebook' click on friends and then it's the second tab along from the left). This feature allows you to peek in at what patterns and projects your ravelry friends have recently chosen as their favourites, what they are adding to their knitting queue, yarns they are purchasing (and a couple more things beside). This is where I am most often apprised of what's new and where I come across projects that I may otherwise have missed and where I first came across the fabulous 'morse code', an elongated cowl version of Laura Chau's Attabi wrap.

I rarely knit something in the yarn that the pattern indicates (it's usually way too expensive). (Except I did knit Kieran Foley's 'Kerchief' in exactly the yarns indicated and was even moved to try stranded knitting for the first time ever so it's an exception in more ways than one.) And I'm not sure that I've ever acually been moved to replicate someone else's project, that is until now.

Another thing I really like about Ravelry is being able to virtually paw through other people's stash and thereby acquire yarn that is not otherwise easily available or at a much better price (or both). That's how I came to own ten balls of Rowan RYC Baby Alpaca DK in Cheviot. Someone was selling nine balls on Ravelry and didn't want to split the lot and as it was the same cost as buying just five balls brand new and I couldn't get hold of any brand new, except for the ball that I had already bought on ebay to check out the colourway ... yes, ten balls. Ah yes, Baby Alpaca DK being the yarn from which 'morse code' is knit ...

There was no way that I could get hold of the other yarn, Viola Silky DK as the independent dyer is on a two-year break on a sheep farm somewhere, so started shopping around for a contrast. I ended up with some madelinetosh tosh DK in Betine, but that wasn't quite right.

Actually, the Cheviot also wasn't quite right - colours in photos online can be deceiving and it's much paler and greyer than I was searching for. Nor were either of the Road to China Light skeins that I bought (moonstone and dusky quartz) quiet the thing either, wrong composition for the main yarn which needs to be a matte, slightly fuzzy alpaca-ish yarn to contrast with the shiny smoothness of a silk blend. (But they are going to make a beautiful subtly striped hat or neckwarmer or something once I decide on it.)

Finally, I realised that what I want to replicate is the look - matte fuzzy alpaca with a contrasting (and lighter) silk blend. So I have settled on:

Classic Elite Yarns Mountaintop Vista, an alpaca blend in natural colourway '6076' and Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend in 3075. I hope it works well.

Along the way I also managed to pick up three skeins of Malabrigo Finito in colourway 'pearl ten'. I'm sure I'll think of something to knit with it.

Thursday, 28 June 2012


This is the current state of my Cladonia:

Yes, I frogged it. That is to say, took it apart, unravelled it, wound it back up into balls of wool. Sad. It's just that the shawl as it was was too small and the half-circle shape (as opposed to crescent shape) just didn't sit well for me. And the Loft is too precious to not be in active use.

So here I am, starting again. The shawl will still have eight sections but with the following modifications:

- knit garter tab as per instructions, which leaves 10 sts on the needles: 3 for the garter stitch edge, 4 for the body of the shawl, 3 for the garter st edge; work kfbf into first and last of the shawl body stitches (instead of just kfb) [eta: kfb into 2 intervening stitches]; 16 stitches (instead of 14)
- make regular increases every sixth row (instead of every fourth to make shawl deeper)
- make extra far edge increases every third row (on purl side thus) to make first and last of the eight sections double the width and the finished shawl thus two lace repeats wider.

I also think that I will transition from Truffle Hunt/Old World (brown/dark blue) striping into Blanket Fort/Old World (light purple/dark blue) striping before doing the edging in Blanket Fort which will obviate the need for that extra row of contrast that I so wrestled with the first time around. Yardage remains a question but at the worst will require a trip to Bainbridge Island to visit Churchmouse Yarns and Tea and the conveniently placed Mora Iced Creamery. Oh, I do hope I run out of yarn ...

Monday, 25 June 2012

oh the expense!

Yeah, didn't make it with that second ball. The first Gioiello contrast section used about 11 grams of my available 20 so there was no way I was going to knit the next, slightly larger section from what I had left over.

So yes, I bought another ball. Different dye-lot (50 instead of 20) which doesn't seem to account for much colourwise but strangely the texture is different - the metallic thread seems to be much raspier in this 50 ball. Thankfully, it will just be for these six rows down near the outer edge so shouldn't affect its wearability. I actually bought a ball of the 50 previously when I made the decision to use this yarn for this shawl and needed a second (and what I thought would be only additional) ball. I took it back and exchanged it for the 20 dye-lo and am glad that I did.

I have 479 stitches on the needle right now and another 80 or so to increase before the shawl is completed. All gathered up like this it reminds me of a sea creature.

Friday, 22 June 2012

oh the suspense!

So much for tomorrow! I never got around to sharing the other couple of knitting projects that I was embarking upon because I got completely engrossed in Whippoorwill (and umm, I've actually forgotten what one of them was). I made it to the very exciting first contrast section:

The contrast yarn is madelinetosh tosh merino light in the colourway 'well water' and it's going to work much better than the Rowan Pure Wool 4ply that I had previously considered. It is a really beautiful blue. I saw the madelinetosh colours described somewhere on the web the other day as 'glazed' and that is such a perfect term.

While this project has also been rather relentless stocking stitch, there have been some increase rows and eyelet rows and the contrast sections to work toward. Now I have two more sections to knit in the Gioiello and only 19.8 grams left. Last night I did some very exciting row count addition and some division and have determined that if the first of these sections takes 9.7 grams or less, then I will have enough yarn. If not, I will have to purchase a whole extra ball. If I manage to knit six rows of 450-odd stitches tonight, then I will know where I stand. Oh the knitting suspense!

Friday, 15 June 2012

return to usual knitting form

That is, in fits and starts. Although it takes me forever to actually complete something, I think that I am, indeed, happier knitting this way - a row here, cast on there, some ribbing here, a seam there.

Currently and variously:

Whippoorwill, which Ravelry so kindly tells me, I first planned about 18 months ago. And now it's finally on the needles, a wispy sort of confection knit from Filatura di Crosa Gioiello, a sort of (hush now) novelty yarn that for some reason just appealed to me.

 I seem to have become a shawl knitter and if you are going to make another one ('another one?', that's my husband's voice interrupting) then really you, that is me, I have to make them a bit varied. I don't have any lighter coloured shawls and as I wouldn't really be one to wear so much white close to my face, this wool/mohair/cotton/nylon/acrylic blend with the little strand of gold through it is a good option. My contrast colour will be the very pretty Madelinetosh Well Water, a lovely light blue, which I will showcase when I get to it. (thank you Di for the present!).

I've also decided that it's time to deal with all that leftover sock yarn. Something practical, like socks. The toe of these is the Fiber Optics Footnotes that I knit the Honey Cowl from, then a couple of rows of Grignasco Strong print, from which I several years ago knit the 'illicit sox'. Then I moved onto some Zitron Trekking XXL (purchased from the thrift store) which I've had in stash for a while, had only used a little in the Babette blanket and am really enjoying watching the self-striping pattern emerge.

I'm using Laura Chau's Delicious Knee socks pattern as originally I had intended these to be for me. But I either measured the circumference of my foot incorrectly or mucked up on gauge or ... whatever, these are now for Tim. When I get to the heel I'll swap over to the dark blue and green Schoppel-Wolle Crazy Zauberball that I used in my Kerchief. Tim is excited about his secret pink stripes (oops, not so secret now).

There's two more - tomorrow.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

sweet honey in the rock

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Honey Cowl by madelinetosh, available for free. 
Size: I attempted to make the larger size, a cowl that could be looped around double. 
Yarn: Fiber Optics Yarns Foot Notes, 80 per cent merino, 20 per cent nylon in colourway 'black coffee no. 9', purchased at Rhinebeck last year. I used almost two whole skeins which is more than 800 yards of knitting. 
Needles: 3mm. 
Start to finish: 14 May to 8 June 2012. A 'quick knit' meaning that I didn't put it aside for six months at any point. I knit this pretty consistently (relentlessly), not starting or finishing anything in the meantime - unusual for me. 
Stash/recycle content: Hmm, well, the yarn was totally arbitrarily sitting in my stash ... 

Comments: This pattern calls for a dk weight yarn and I knit it in a fingering weight yarn so I cast on a third (?) more stitches than suggested, that is, 330 all up. And then I knit. Then I knit 62,000-odd stitches. Knitting your way through two skeins of sock yarn is a very long knit, and a simple pattern didn't actually make it go any faster. I have spent years knitting my way through similar amounts of yarn in complex lace patterns. I prefer that! 
Verdict: Full credit to reader Leonie - the solution for interminable knitting is to finish it.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

three cheers!!

Sewing trifecta - hats, tunique francaise and now this Nani Iro number:

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Dress U from nani IRO by Naomi Itou (isbn 4579111834 / 978457911183).
Size: I can't remember ... needless to say, it no longer fits the intended recipient (miss bear) but has found a wonderful home up the street with a three-year old.

Fabric: Linen/rayon blend salvaged from a White Stag bias-cut skirt (which was great because the fabric was already set on the bias), purchased at the thrift store.
Start to finish: Started sometime after we returned from Savannah in October 2010 and completed on 4 June 2012.
Stash/recycle content: 100 per cent - hooray! Button was from stash.

Comments: Again, it was the bindings that did me in. And the little square patch with some gathers underneath it there on the front. I also couldn't get the opening at the back to lie flat - maybe something to do with the dreaded binding? I also simply made my button loop out of the sewing thread rather than the fabric which i thought would get too bulky and couldn't, um, really be bothered with at this late stage anyway. 

Verdict: Very pleased that I actually finished it. The fabric was a great choice for this dress, the colour, the coin spot, the blend.
The front and back are actually cut from two pieces - in the photo of the back you can see the diagonal seam along the bottom corner of the dress. I think that this is design to make the most of the print on the fabric from which the dress is made in the book. It also serves to make the dress asymmetrical but I don't think is necessary if you are not emphasising a feature of the fabric print; that is, I could have cut the back and front in single pieces. I also wonder what might happen to the hang of the dress is that piece were cut on the grain instead.

I have another bias-cut skirt waiting to be up-cycled ....

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

tunique francaise - finis!

Two years later, I present:

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Tunique froncée from Intemporels pour Bébé: modèles et patrons de 0 à 3 ans by Astrid Le Provost.
Size: Umm, can't quite remember now. I think that I made the largest size (3 years) and lengthened it to use up as much of the fabric as possible.
Start to finish: Hmm, first mentioned on this blog on Thursday, 13 May 2010. I finished it on Monday, 28 May 2012.
Stash/recycle content: All of it - hooray! The paisley was a Goodwill purchase and the brown trim came from a dress that I bought at a yard sale and had previously used for some sewing. The shell button came from stash.

Comments: Not sure if the patterned fabric is really the right thing for dressmaking. I suspect that it is more quilting cotton than dressmaking cotton but hey, it's turned out well. I didn't end up making it as long as I had planned and instead sewed a deep hem on it, thinking that it might need some weight to sit well. And it does. Also, French seams - lovely.

And the amazing delay in getting it done? There must be something about my attention span and the process of sewing. Bindings come towards the end of the project (neck and cuffs in this case, and inserting elastic which I hadn't done before), right when my patience is wearing thin and that is enough to have me set something aside for a while. Turns out that it took two years for my attention to roll back around to this one. I have another girl's dress just waiting on the bindings - the only way that I can date it is that I'm using a linen/rayon blend from a skirt that I bought at a thrift store in Savannah ... (October 2010).

Verdict: Miss bear wore this three days in a row - definite success.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

hooray again!

The Vital Statistics

Pattern: the Oliver + S Bucket hat again!
Size: small this time for baby b.
Fabrics: again fabric that I received in the handprinted fabric swap, this time the lovely Leuca from Ink & Spindle. And the same toile de Jouy for the lining but chose some more, ahem, boyish motifs - the dog, the foliage.
Start to finish: completed on 16 May 2012.
Recycle/stash content: Yes, handmade hat from handprinted and stash fabric.
Comments: Again, lots of fun to make - I used two layers of interfacing for the brim on this one but haven't found that it really makes a lot of difference.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

may reading

Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D.James - unfortunately, clumsy. 

A Life in Stitches: knitting my way through love, loss and laughter by Rachael Herron - long blog posts but good. 

Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo - again, too graphic but a good read.