Friday, January 19, 2007

News update

Hi folks

Well - I am still without a camera, which means I have no colourful pics to show you. I might have to go and buy one, because a knitting blog without photos barely merits the title. In the meantime, here's the post-Christmas knitting news.

WIP 1: Stripy Baby Blanket
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran (just about every colour). Pattern: from the Vogue Knitting on the Go Series, one of their Baby Blankets books (I think it's Blankets II). I am making this for my colleague Miles, and have been for months! His baby is 3 months old now but it's a complicated pattern (lots of intarsia) and I am at work for approximately 25 hours a day so progress has been slow. However, the blanket is gradually reaching completion and I am going to do some more work on it this evening. This weekend won't be good for knitting, though, as once again I have to bring tons of work home.

WIP 2: Tammy top
Yarn: Rowan Cotton Tape (blue & brown). Pattern: Tammy, from the Rowan book 'Cotton Tape Collection'. This is really quick to knit. I have so far made the back and the front but I am going to frog both back to where I started the armholes as the edges of the rows are a bit loose and messy. On the left hand edge (where you turn the work) the row edges are nice and neat, won't have any problem fitting the sleeves. But on the right hand edge (where you carry the yarn you're not using, for the stripes), I seem to have left the whole thing much too loose. Attaching the sleeves might be a bit of a mare if I leave it as is, so it has to be frogged. There's a picture of this top below, in a post about planned knitting for 2007.

WIP 3: Noro scarf
Yarn: Noro Kureyon and Noro Silk Garden. Pattern: there isn't one, I'm making it up as I go along. It is basically a long strip of 3x3 rib, with the Kureyon and Silk Garden in stripes. I didn't know I was going to make this scarf. It wasn't planned, it just happened to me. I wanted to have a play with some Noro yarn so I bought a couple of balls. Started knitting a scarf - didn't think I needed a pattern as what could be easier than making a strip of knitting. My boyfriend likes and wants the scarf (they're quite dark, masculine colours) so now I have to finish it, which entailed buying another ball of each yarn. Now - the scarf is nearly done and only now am I realising that maybe there is a place for knitting patterns in the world of scarves. In my confidence, I just knit away, disdaining patterns, and - didn't think to put a border on. So now I have a long strip of ribbing with edges that look messy and are curling inwards because there is no border to hold them flat. Grr. I have resigned myself to the idea that when I finish knitting I'm going to have to sew those edges down, on both sides. It's going to take a long time as it's a long scarf. My fault entirely. Next time I will consult a pattern.

WIP 4: New, blue socks.
Yarn: Angel Yarns hand-dyed sock yarn in sky blue, dark blue and emerald green. Pattern: right now I'm following the standard Opal pattern but I might consult the excellent 'Sensational Knitted Socks' for a different type of heel as I don't think the Opal pattern heel looks very sturdy once knitted up. The yarn is interesting. On the hank and in the ball it looks like all three colours are about evenly distributed. In fact, on the ball the impression you get is that it might come out very dark, with the darker blue dominant. I was expecting the knitted fabric to look rich but also fairly sombre, with either continuous short stripes or a sort of Fair Isle effect. In fact, now I am half way through the first sock, I see that the fabric I'm turning out is 75% vivid, sky blue, with the two darker shades making very short stripes that are forming a sort of long spiral around the sky blue sock. I wish I had a photo I could show you - I will have one soon. Anyway, the effect is very bright and very pleasing. I actually like the yarn more now I can see the fabric it makes. If any yarn retailers are reading this - PLEASE PLEASE would you think about putting pictures of knitted swatches on your website, along with the pics of what it looks like on the ball? We all know which is more important. I am buying this stuff to knit, not just to gaze at. As it happens, this yarn yielded a nice surprise in the appearance of its knitted fabric, but yarn shopping online would be a lot better without the surprises.

When not working on the WIPs I'm also playing at making a gauge swatch in Rowan Cotton Glace for a short-sleeved button cardigan that I like the look of. The cardigan/top is long and the yarn is the same thickness as 4ply so it will take a long time to make. The garment in the photo looks lovely, though, and I think I have enough patience for it. If I start quite soon, it might be ready to wear in the summer. I'm also sort-of-swatching, sort-of-starting-a-sleeve in some lime green acrylic that I have in mind for a deliberately tasteless cardigan. I haven't quite found a pattern I like yet though. It is such an eye-hurting colour that it really needs a slightly OTT, frou-frou pattern to emphasise that this is IRONIC knitting. If I knit from a basic, sensible pattern all I will end up with is a basic, sensible cardigan in a vile colour. So I am looking for a frivolous pattern, perhaps something with a furry eyelash collar, to match the yarn.

Yes, I have been stash enhancing. It would be a crime not to in the January sales, right? Recent acquisitions from John Lewis in Oxford Street, London (brilliant sale) and House of Fraser in Birmingham (rubbish sale) yielded:
- Some Jaeger yarn, a cashmere blend, in fawn & brown. Good quality yarn, slightly boring colours but will do perfectly as the 'base' yarn for some item, livened up with details in another colour or something.
- Some Rowan All Seasons Cotton in pink - I am potentially thinking summer top, or maybe a bag as the pink'n'white printed yarn is more girly than I'd normally wear. Although perhaps I just haven't thought of the right pattern for it yet.
- Some Rowan Ribbon Twist. I love this stuff and just can't get enough of it. The shade I bought this time is burgundy, with red ribbon in it.
- Some Sirdar Wow in burgundy and some Jaeger Fur eyelash yarn in red. One or both of these will be nice for trimming the above Ribbon Twist. I am thinking about making another Willow jacket (see pics of the green version in earlier posts, below).
- Some Rowan Lux in soft blue with silver metallic thread. This is lovely yarn. Baby blue is, again, a more girly colour than I'd normally wear but I am convinced it just needs the right pattern. I am thinking that what it needs is something very urban. Maybe a hoodie with a massive silver zipper and silver lining. Something to emphasise the metallic silver part and offset the baby blue. I can sort of see this top in my imagination, maybe I'll have a look at zippers and fastenings for more inspiration.

Other news
I am almost ready to buy a sewing machine and learn to sew. While reading a Vogue book on sewing the other day, I was informed that, in tailoring, the purpose of the lining in a jacket is not just to cover up seams but also to help hold the outer fabric in its intended shape. This was a revelation! What a brilliant idea, I thought. So now I am seriously considering taking apart my beloved green Willow jacket (which is going a leetle bit stretchy with wear), blocking the pieces and then machine-sewing in some sky-blue lining, then stitching the garment back together. I also can't help thinking that sewing down the edges on my Noro scarf would be about 100 times quicker by machine. I have barely ever used a sewing machine before so I WILL be practising on knitted swatches first!

That's all, folks. Hopefully there'll be photos soon.

Friday, January 05, 2007

I'm going to New York!

I'm so excited because I'm going to NY for a few days in February! I'm a huge art fan so can't wait to drag my beloved round MOMA, the Met, etc. What adds even more to the joy of this particular trip is now I'm a serious knitter. Yes, I have been online, consulting books and carefully selecting NY yarn stores that I must visit. I think I shouldn't make Sven visit more than two, and I already have my heart set on Purl and Seaport Yarn Yippee!!!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

At last, some pics of Xmas hats.

Happy New Year. Well, I finally got all the hats done in time for Christmas. My camera broke quite early into the final countdown to Xmas day, then my PDA broke the day after - so most of my Xmas photos are lost. Happily, I managed to upload a few early (hence a bit crappy) snaps to my PC before things started breaking. So - here are some Xmas hats. The patterns for some of these hats came from the book Hip Knit Hats, and a few from Rowan pattern books for Big Wool.

This one is for Cal. Like the tassel? The pink yarn is Sirdar Bigga and the black is Rowan Big Wool.

This one went to Sven. The blue is really vibrant, and looks great on him. The yarn is Rowan Spray.

This one went to Lizzie. It is soooo soft. The yarn is Debbie Bliss Cashmerino, and on the cuff the yarn is knitted together with baby pink Sirdar Zanzibar, an eyelash yarn with random bursts of gold tinsel. This picture isn't the best, the hat isn't so pointy in real life, but it's modelled over a too-small pyrex dish! Take it from me though, it's a lovely hat and soft as a bunny.

This one went to David. Everyone laughed when he put it on: he makes it look very exotic! Like the wise old man of some ancient fairy tale. The yarn is Rowan Spray.

This one went to Robert. It's a nice hat but the gauge is a little bit too tight for the yarn, and frankly it is much too big. I will make him another one that fits. The yarn is Sirdar Bigga and Wendy Pampas.

This one went to my mum. She looks gorgeous in it, and although I feared the hat had turned out too small, it fit her perfectly. The main yarn is Bliss Cashmerino in beige. On the purl rows the Cashmerino is knitted together with some Louisa Harding sari ribbon in gold.

This hat went to Ann. It fits her, and it looks great on her - I'm glad I chose a strong colour. The yarn is Rowan Spray.

I gave it to Ann when Sven & I were over for dinner before Xmas, and she gave me a lovely scarf she'd knit, you can see me modelling it below. When you knit yourself, you really appreciate other people's knitting and the work they put into it, so it's a treasured possession. It's made with the ladder yarn 'Melody' by SWTC. It's very decorative, lots of small flashes of bright colour. Lovely. I have some Melody in my stash in a red/gold/purple colourway, so now I'm excited about making something with it.

This one went to Andrea. I made another happy guess with colour: this pink hat went perfectly with the lilac top she was wearing. I love it when a plan works out. The yarn is Rowan Spray.

This is a terrible photo of what was actually a rather lovely hat for Joe, knit in three shades of Bliss Cashmerino. Again, the hat suffers slightly from being modelled on a pyrex dish instead of a head - it really isn't pointy in real life and fits softly to the shape of the head. I'm not sure how much Joe likes it actually, but hey, they can't all be popular. Edward said his made him look like an old lady (he had a point).

This, the last of the non-pointy hats, went to Thomas. It actually fits him fine. He wasn't too excited about it at first, but he liked it more when he knew I'd made it myself, which is sweet. The yarn is Wendy Pampas.

... And that's all the photos of the Xmas hats. Bet you're really glad my camera broke now, otherwise there'd be another 10 or so to sit through!

At last, I have officially begun with the Spring Knitting of 2007. I've resumed progress on a stripy baby blanket for Miles, and I've started the blue and brown Tammy top in Cotton Tape. Ah, the joy of creating things that aren't hats.