Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year

Well. It has been my worst year for knitting since I started this blog. I had a year of trauma, turmoil and overwork and result was that I knit nothing at all apart from a super easy ribbed scarf in some aran weight Noro yarn, this being a travelling project that is easy to transport around with me.

At one point this year I even thought I was going to have to put all of my knitting stuff into storage and I'm so glad I escaped that fate, because my yarn means a lot to me.

If I manage to do any knitting at all this coming year then it means that I am having a better time than I have had this year.

I am going to at least mark the new year by trying to get my knitting projects organised, because they've been stuffed in boxes and dragged around the house a dozen times this year, with the result that I hardly know where anything is.

I had to buy a sofa this year because it was sort of an emergency and that means I've lost the space where I used to keep my knitting things but I shall try to be creative and come up with something.

Please wish me luck for 2016, because 2015 was pretty awful.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

End of January update.

A quick update since it is the end of the month.

I am determined to get some projects completed this year because there are so many WIPs. Despite this, I recklessly started crocheting a chevron scarf out of some Rowan Alpaca Colour in hot pink. In so doing, I raised the number of projects that I am trying to reduce to zero by the end of 2015 to eighteen. Let's see how we are doing on knocking that tower of unfinished projects down. I need to complete 1.5 projects per month if we are going to achieve zero by the end of the year.

I am starting with the ones that are nearest completion because some of them have been hanging around for so ridiculously long. I have realised that I neglect them because I don't enjoy seaming and setting in sleeves, in short, finishing. This is partly because I am not confident about my finishing skills and regularly screw things up. On the Colourful Top, which is now fully sewn up and just awaits a final blocking, I set in sleeves properly, using back stitch, for probably the first time. I can see that if I stick with this programme of tackling the nearly-completed projects first, my finishing skills should improve. This will be a good outcome.

Completing 1.5 projects per month, if I can keep up that pace and stick with it, will get progressively more difficult as the year rolls on, because we will eventually reach projects that are barely even started. November and December could see me attempt to knit large shawls and intricate lace scarves from scratch. But we will worry about that when it happens. Let's look at the scores so far, at the end of the first month.

  • Fully completed projects: 1. The New Year Hat & Scarf are wearable and in use.
  • Awaiting blocking: 2. Margot's Rainbow Blanket and the Colourful Top.
  • Awaiting sewing: 2. Kitsch sweater, Maria yellow sweater.
  • In-progress knitting or crochet: 13. Miscellaneous, including the alpaca chevron scarf, which is a new entry.

What this list represents is the achievement of having moved both the Rainbow Blanket and the Colourful Top past the stage where there was seaming and 19,000 ends to weave in. These things can be very time consuming. I've just spent well over two hours weaving in ends on the Colourful Top and it wasn't my first session of doing that.

Looking down the list for the next thing I can work on that doesn't mean getting the iron out right now, I see there's a choice of Maria or Kitsch. I bought the yarn for Kitsch in 2005, so that settles it. I needs to stop being an idea and become a reality. It's nearly 10 years old.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

First completed project of 2015.

The New Year Hat & Scarf are complete. I weaved in the ends on the scarf. Of a choice of two hats, moss stitch and cable, I decided to go with the moss stitch one because it was a better fit. I unravelled and reknit the band of ribbing at the bottom, remembered to cast off loosely, and we are good to go. I am happy that I finished this before my Xmas holiday ended.

One project down, 16 to go. Because there are such a lot of outstanding projects, I'm going to tackle them in order of how close they are to completion. That's why we've now got this far with Margot's Rainbow Blanket.

All the squares are stitched together. The border is done. I wish I had made it wider, but fuck it, it will do. I'm not going to attach a second border, the recipients won't care. What remains: firstly, there are a lot of ends to weave in at the back. Secondly, I need to wash it and try to block it, even though it is acrylic, because the tension on all those crochet squares was a bit uneven, as was my sewing, so this thing is not going to lie down flat and look tidy without help. I am hoping that wet blocking it and/or pressing it will solve the problem.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Annual Knitting & Crochet Review, New Year 2015

I can't believe it's a whole year since I blogged. It definitely is time to review what, if anything, we've achieved this year and which projects are being carried forward in the hope of completing them this year.

A completed project this year was a large crocheted baby blanket for my brother Ed, who became a dad. I've never crocheted anything that large before. It was an easy and therefore portable project. The yarn is a very soft acrylic, for easy laundering.

Good to know that we achieved at least one complete project this year. A good start.

This is the New Year Hat and Scarf in King Cole Glitz Chunky. A project that I started in December 2014 and almost-completed within a few days. The scarf pattern is the famous Irish Hiking Scarf. The moss stitch hat is the Mari pattern from the book Hip Knit Hats. The cabled hat, which is still on the needles, is an experiment. I should try and finish this, it is so close to being complete. It just slightly missed reaching completion ahead of Blog Round-Up Day.

Best knitting accessories of 2014: these nice stitch markers and floral tape measure that I had for Christmas, both from Amazon vendors. 

The purple Eddard socks that were completed in the early days of January 2014 were dispatched to my friend, he loves them and wears them all the time. Totally appreciates that they are hand knit. Some people are a pleasure to knit for.

This Mesh scarf was crocheted mainly while I was in South America in the spring of 2014, and that's also where the yarn came from.

The pink Ocean Sweater departed the finishing basket and actually gets worn, it is in wardrobe circulation. I didn't do the greatest job of sewing the sleeves in and this is something I need to improve on, fortunately the ribbon yarn somewhat hides it, especially when it is on the body.

A cardigan that was started this year, the Fake Fair Isle Cardigan, in Sirdar Crofter DK. I have made the back and two front pieces and I have just started the sleeves.

I have ambitions to make an Academic Afghan (pattern by Nicky Epstein) with handspun yarn that I bought from Chile, but I haven't yet worked out the correct needle size to make the pattern yield squares. When it does, then I will be up and running. I am not really counting this as a live project because all I'm doing is swatching.

Another project started this year, Like A Leaf On The Wind by Sharon Jane. A very pretty garter stitch triangle with eyelets and picots along all three edges. The yarn is Rico Design Creative Reflection.

Another new project from spring 2014, this Granny Square Throw is crocheted and will become a blanket for a single bed, that's about the size I'm envisaging. Is using up some Stylecraft acrylic.

The Lush Hoodie is going to be a nice jacket, it was started in January 2014. I've done the back, two front pieces and I'm working on the sleeves. The yarn is Cascade 220 and the pattern is from the book Greetings from Knit Cafe.

The Merlot shrug was last blogged about in 2013, in June, and I don't think it's seen any progress in 2014. Other projects that didn't get any further in 2014: the Kitsch sweater; the Persephone sweater; the Baby Surprise Jacket in Patons Flower Garden yarn that I've been trying to use up for years - I have decided to frog this project as the yarn still hasn't found its purpose; the pink Rosa sweater; the Jalapeno summer top. Rosa and Jalapeno are the oldest Works in Progress; I cast on in 2010. Persephone has the oldest yarn, dating back to about 2005.

The Flock of Geese shawl made a small amount of progress.

A long-running 2013 project that has made some progress is Margot's Rainbow Blanket. I am sewing all the squares together. It is taking a long time.

The yellow Maria sweater is still in the finishing basket. It is ready to be sewn up and I had started doing that. However, I'm not happy with the way I've sewn up the shoulders, so I am going to unpick them. Also I made such a mess of unpicking the seam on one of the sleeves that I may have to reknit the whole sleeve. So some work remains to be done there. The Colourful Top is in a similar condition, I don't like the way I sewed up the shoulders and they need to be done again. Maria was started in 2013 and the Colourful Top was started in 2012.

A 2013 project that's seen a tiny amount of work this year is the Edith shawl, in Debbie Bliss cream silk. As you can see, I've knitted just a few rows. It's going to be pretty but the yarn is slippery and it is fiddly. A 2013 project that saw a bit more progress was the Louisa Harding Victoria cardigan in green Mila yarn; this is coming along pretty well because I worked on it on holiday last May, the body is knitted all in one piece and I've divided for the arm holes.

The Beauty Bolero was started in 2012. This made some progress during the last year: I overcame the tricky task of picking up stitches along the side of that band you see there. I seem to be knitting the back.

Things I aspire to make: Ripple Cardigan by Coralie Meslin. Waterfall Jacket by Sian Brown, 2013. Knitted Ruana by Cheryl Oberle.

What all that tells me: 2014 was quite a slow year for knitting. I completed 4 projects, of which two (purple Eddard socks; pink boat-neck Ocean sweater) were already in the finishing basket. The other two (Ed's baby blanket, the yellow Mesh scarf, both crochet projects) were started and finished within 2014. For contrast, in 2013 I completed 8 items.

When we did last year's review, there were 15 projects in progress. Of those 15 projects, two were completed (Eddard socks, Ocean sweater) and one was abandoned and frogged (Baby Surprise Sweater in Flower Garden), That leaves 12 still ongoing in hope of completion this coming year, 2015.

Additionally, in 2014 I started 5 new projects that didn't reach completion, these being the New Year Hat & Scarf, the Lush Hoodie, the Granny Square Throw, Like a Leaf on the Wind and the Fake Fair Isle Cardigan.  That means we are starting 2015 with 17 live projects, which is two up from last year.

The new year's resolution has to be to finish some of these projects that have been hanging around on hold. Hopefully 2015 will be a good year with the right amount of time and head space for knitting. If I were consistently able to complete 1.5 projects each month, I would have all these projects complete and a blank slate to work with by the start of 2016.

Friday, January 03, 2014

First completed project of 2014.

I have just sewed up the toes of the Eddard socks, rather incompetently as I forgot how to do Kitchener stitch. Then weaved in the ends. And that means they are out of the finishing basket and ready to go to my friend Klaus.

In other news, I've crocheted all 35 squares of the Rainbow Blanket and now I'm trying to sew them together in a way that looks like it was intentional.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

New Year Sparkles

Well, Christmas is over and we are almost into 2014 so it certainly is time to take stock of the massive pile of works in progress that are lurking under my dining table.

  • Margot's Rainbow Blanket. This is a crochet project. I am gradually improving at crochet, getting faster and with more even tension. I've made 19 squares and I think I need another 16 so we are doing OK. I did a lot of work on this while visiting relatives over Xmas.

  • Victoria Cardigan in my favourite Louisa Harding Mila yarn in green.

  • The yellow Maria sweater with the orange frills is still in the finishing basket and needs to be sewn up.
  • The blue Flock of Geese shawl remains an early-stage work in progress. I hoped to wear this shawl this winter but I think I've missed the boat. Maybe can complete this for next winter.
  • The red Merlot shrug is still a work in progress and is another Christmassy garment that can be worn in 2014. I am just starting to realise how much I like sparkly yarn, I use it in nearly everything apparently. It's only the baby blanket that doesn't have added bling.
  • Oh look, even more sparkles, quelle surprise. Apparently I have started making a Persephone sweater using Rowan Glimmer Print.

  • The purple Eddard socks are still in the finishing basket, they just need the toes sewing up.
  • The blue Beauty bolero hasn't made any progress since last time.
  • Ha ha, this is getting beyond a joke now. It seems that I have started making a Baby Surprise Jacket in Patons Flower Garden, a yarn that is widely reviled for its synthetic and sparkly qualities.

  • The pink Ocean Sweater is in the finishing basket, waiting to be sewn together.
  • The Edith lace scarf is going to be beautiful but has barely got off the ground and needs more attention than I have time.
  • The heavy cotton Kitsch sweater is still in the finishing basket, if I complete it, it will be great for spring. It looks like I am half way through attaching the neck band.
  • The pink Rosa sweater is still in progress.
  • The Wollemeise Colourful Top looks like it is still in the finishing basket.

I think that's it. Finishing basket: 5 items. Works in progress: 9 items.

Remind me not to start anything new until we have those 14 projects dealt with.

... wait. There's a 15th project. The Jalapeno cotton summer top that I've been making since 2010. Maybe if I can get this done I could wear it this summer (laughs hysterically).

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Crochet Rainbow Blanket

I am attempting to crochet a version of this rather beautiful Rainbow Blanket for a friend's baby. I'm using DK weight yarn so the squares are a little larger than in the original. I'm going to make 35 squares at first, arrange them in a 5 x 7 format and see how it looks. I can always add more squares as needed.

55 Christmas Balls To Knit by Arne & Carlos

For a while now I've been interested in knitted Xmas decorations. Not that I am particularly crazy for Xmas but once in a while I enjoy making handcrafted gifts in a large batch. As you'll recall, one year I did hats for everyone, another year I did those washcloth & soap sets. So I was thinking that maybe one of these years I will knit a bunch of Xmas decs and everyone can have two or three. That being the case, I've been looking out for nice patterns and this book has by far the nicest and most tasteful ones I've ever seen. The photography is also lovely and the authors seem adorable.


I am not supposed to be buying yarn. At all. Nonetheless, I had a slight accident in John Lewis the other day.

Louisa Harding Sari Ribbon. I adore this stuff. I've never figured out exactly what to do with it but I just love it for existing. So pretty. 90% polyamide, 10% metal. Pink sparkly ribbon, what's not to like. 8mm needles, 120m, 100g.

Noro Cyochin. 86% wool, 7% mohair, 7% silk. Thick and soft. I love the colours. I wish I had bought two skeins. I will have to make a skinny scarf. It needs 5 to 5.5mm needles and I have 180m, 100g.