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.

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