Review: Yarn Space Cadet – Countess Ablaze

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I am not sure if I will regularly post yarn reviews but I fell hard for this one and just wanted to share my infatuation.

Since I started knitting and building a bit of a yarn stash, I have spent a lot at Countess Ablaze. I love her style and yarn bases. Particular favourites are anything using Blue Faced Leicester. Love it.

Her most recent addition to her yarn bases is this Super Bulky, squishy, soft and above all sparkly Merino yarn named Space Cadet. I kind of knew I was sold on it when it was bulkier weight than DK and named something with Space in it! I have a weird soft spot (or you may call it weakness) for heavy weight yarns. Only recently have I found a love for finer yarns but I still crave a big squishy yarn.

 

Not only is this one Super bulky but it also comes in a massive 200g skein!! It is massive! See this comparison shot with a Fingering yarn skein. My yarn winder could not fit a whole skein on it. I had to cake the rest myself without tools.

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What is it like to knit? Well I abandoned all of my current projects (4 in total) to give this a go. I used 8mm and 9mm needles with a simple hat design in mind.

Above you can see the swatch and a medium to large pompom I made and I still have yarn left after completing the hat. It isn’t plied so you can get into some yarn splitting moments but I used my lykke wooden needles and it was pleasant to knit.

Post blocking I got 10 stitches per 4 inches in stockinette knitted flat using 9 mm needles and 10.5 stitches per 4 inches using 8mm needles.

I hence went forth and made a hat. I started a few times getting guidance from some free hat designs from purls soho such as: Snowy Day hat.

You can find the details on my Ravelry page. It is written in a really basic way as it is a basic hat with ribbing and then stockinette and a pom pom!

When you block your garment or swatch you will feel just how soft the yarn is. It kinda feels like it would dissolve, but don’t worry it is quite strong. It does however really bloom and become rather drapey for a super bulky yarn making it perfect for accessories against the skin in my opinion.

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And how have I not mentioned that it sparkles! It has 10% Manufactured Fibers – Stellina in it which is the sparkle! I love it. It may not be for everyone but it made the yarn for me.

Thanks Countess, this base is genius and I can’t wait to see more colours in it. This yarn takes quite a while to properly dry out after blocking so be patient. 🙂

Note: This is my personal opinion, I bought the yarn last week and loved it so much I wanted to share its awesomeness. 

Friday Favourites: Reversible hats

I hadn’t ever even considered this concept of a reversible hat but how genius is it? I love the combinations that are popping up all over the place.

The first that caught my attention was Femte by Sari Nordlund. I love the idea of the two different textures. It is subtle but really effective.

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© Sari Nordlund

For something involving colour work instead, how about this clever design Hiddenite by Kiyomi Burgin.

Hiddenite is a double layered, and fully reversible hat that can be worn with either side facing outwards. Knit as a sort of tube that is closed on both ends, your ears will essentially be covered by four layers (five layers if you count the colour work stranding) of fingering weight wool, which creates a super snug and cozy hat for the coldest of winter days.

Considering the horrible windy weather we have been having by the coast, this description sounds amazing.

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© Kiyomi Burgin

Review: Knitting Project bags

Note: What follows is my own opinions and I have not received any incentive to review any product.

What do you use as a project bag? Perhaps you have made your own or bought one?

I have bought some and also made some. Initially I invested into project bags because I was going to be commuting by train and wanted something sturdy to carry my knitting in that would last.

Make your own: The Stowe bag

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Enter the Stowebag which was made by collaboration between Fringe Association and Grainline Studio. Having previously been an avid seamstress this seemed to be best starting point for me. I had some canvas fabric and sturdy furnishing fabric that really needed a purpose. 🙂

The pattern comes in 2 sizes. I made both in my first go. The small and the large version. The bias tape finishing is clever if a bit fiddly at first but it is good practice, if you need to practice this technique.

The small one was perfect for on the go and fitted small shawls, and all sorts of hats and would be great for socks and the beginnings of a jumper too. It may even fit a cropped jumper.

The large one will fit anything you could dream of bringing. I actually found it to be a bit overwhelming and could never find anything in it. I also think the handles came out a bit big but maybe I made it wrong. I only made the large size once. It is mostly used for storage inside my wardrobe.

I have however made an adjusted version of the small bag again in a waxed cotton and love it. It is lined with a fun linen fabric and has become my go to bag for socks.

You have the option to sew the bag so it stands up or you can leave that part out.

Buy one: Fringe Field Bag

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The fringe field bag is really popular and more interesting and varied versions keep being added. I am not sure if I am an addict but I currently own three; grey, toffee and black.

I was nervous when I bought this bag as I had never seen one in person and was ordering it from the US. We now have a UK local stockist so no more thoughts of “Will the postman lose mine”. But when I ordered it, I was nervous that it may not be as good as it looked but I certainly wasn’t disappointed. It is well made and super sturdy. The canvas fabric softens up with use and the leather handle ages! I hadn’t noticed this until I put my bags all next to each other.

There are generous pockets and the bag closes nicely with drawstrings. It stands up in its own making it a portable Yarn bowl in a sense.

The grey bag has come with me all over the world in the last 2 years of my knitting adventures and you wouldn’t know it. It is still lovely and a joy to use.

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What is your favourite project bag? Have you made your own or bought one?

What is in your notions pouch?

Since starting to really take up knitting in 2015 I have collected some notions that I carry with me on almost every project. So I thought I’d share what I carry and also ask what do you carry in your notions pouch?

The list for me goes something like this:

  1. measuring tape
  2. tapestry needles
  3. scissors
  4. cable needle(s)
  5. stitch markers
  6. crochet hook for fixing dropped stitches
  7. stitch holders
  8. Pens
  9. Washi tape – a revelation from a knitting class. So good to use for charts!
  10. End caps for interchangeable needles
  11. Tightening tool for interchangeable needles – Must have on the go.

Other things I tend to use are a note in the mobile app Evernote where I collect images or links to tutorials and also tend to have an “on-the-go” project notes note which I tend to transfer into my Ravelry project later on.

Things I cannot be without are scissors. I love having nice scissors. They have to be sharp. I love these bonsai ones especially. They feel sharp and tactile, so nice to use.

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I tend to have a variation of my tools across several notions pouches so I only ever carry the must have things with me but I am debating to just carry it all in one of the bigger ones. Less faffing and having to look in all the different pouches. Below and example of what came out of which bag!

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When I asked the local knitting group they also carried some awesome things such as waste yarn and my favourite, an emergency chocolate bar! I am not sure if mine would ever last but I may try it. 😛

So now over to you. What is in your notions bag?

WIPs: January 2018

Wow so it is already nearly mid January! How did that happen!?

My last post in 2017 detailed my plans for the year. So far I have actually cast on one of the things from the list, namely the Boxy! It is a LOT of knitting stockinette to start with but it is the kind of thing I need right now, having started the year unwell and trying to settle back into work.

The yarn I am using is by The Uncommon Thread in BFL in an amazing green. Last year may have been the year of me knitting with loads of grey, and this year it may be the colour green’s turn.

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Because I also cast on a selfless knit in a lovely Teal of Malabrigo Rios. I do not have pictures of this selfless knit yet. It is a hat for a friend. The pattern is Seathwaite and it is free. It has some lovely cables and a nice simple way of doing a doubled brim.

Apart from this I still have the same two unmoved WIPs from December in my line. The Starting Point shawl and the Timely Cardigan. I do still like the idea of having these as makes in my accessories and clothing wardrobe so I have not given up yet. 🙂

How has your knitting year started?

New year plans

Over the last few years I have learned a lot about what I like to knit and what sort of yarn I like to use and what garments I end up wearing.

With that in mind, I want to reduce my stash a bit and also use the patterns I have accumulated before investing in anything else. A lot of people are doing the #makenine plans.

My Plans:

 

 

 

Top row left to right:

  1. Vanilla and Spice Mitts by Sarah Shepherd
  2. Boxy by Joji Locatelli
  3. Humboldt by Anna Maltz
  4. Mīlēt by Ysolda Teague
  5. Deschain by Leila Raabe
  6. Soirée by Emily Foden
  7. Brackett by Whitney Hayward
  8. Sourcebook Chunky Cardigan by Nora Gaughan
  9. Fern and Feather by Jennifer Steingass

I even have yarn for almost all of these and all but one of the patterns already, so it should be a good stash busting plan. 😀

Happy new year and happy new year cast-ons!

2017 Round up

I love using Ravelry and storing my makes and tracking my stash using it.

2017 saw a productive and technically ambitious knitting year for me. I stopped commuting half way through the year which meant I tackled some bigger more complex projects rather than more portable mindless ones.

I made 4 pairs of socks (1 as a gift), 3 jumpers, 6 hats (2 were gifts) and 3 scarfs/shawls and one steeked cardigan.

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New techniques and skills I tried:

  1. Tubular cast on
  2. Sewn bind off
  3. Three needle bind off
  4. All the cables
  5. Sock knitting – toe up
  6. Steeking
  7. More colour-work
  8. Seaming a sweater
  9. Making up my own hat pattern
  10. Brioche

New to me yarns I fell in love with:

  1. Shetland DK by Blacker Yarns.
  2. Stone Wool Cormo which I posted about here.
  3. West Yorkshire Spinners 4ply
  4. Blacker Yarns Samite silk blend

All in all it was a great year for me, exploring more challenging techniques and realising you can just do it and if it does not work out, unravel and start again. I think I am definitely a process knitter. It is all about learning for me.

I am hoping to share more of my journey in 2018 and it may include some other learnings, such as business related ones, but we shall see, 🙂 Happy New year!

A love affair – Stone Wool Cormo

I wasn’t meant to be buying yarn, but I just happened to be looking at the website of Loop of London this autumn and they had a yarn I did not know much about on sale.

It ticked a few boxes for me:

  1. It is worsted weight
  2. It is a yarn by a sheep breed I had not knit with before
  3. It is sourced and spun in the same country – USA

Stone Wool Cormo comes in an array of different colours. They tend to offer 3 shades/hues of one colour which I thought was nice and clever. I bought a rough amount for a colour work sweater and was super happy when I saw the yarn in person.
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From their ravelry listing:

We worked with our mill to create a special method of fiber preparation, one that marries woolen and worsted processes. The result is a unique yarn with woolen-spun’s airy loft and worsted’s strength. Springy, lofty, and with a substantial hand, Stone Wool Cormo offers crisp stitch definition and elegant texture in knitting.

And I couldn’t agree more. When I swatched for my colour work sweater I noticed straight away how bouncy the yarn is and how lovely my stitches looked.
Then after blocking a certain softness and almost velvet feel to the touch emerged.

This yarn does not transform like some do after blocking, but it was more enhanced as it gained some flexibility and drape and the softness I mention above.

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My Galloway Coatigan was made using this yarn and is wearing nicely. I have worn it every evening around the house so far and it keeps me cosy and warm and isn’t itchy in the slightest.

I really want to try making something cabled liked mittens or a hat in it next to really take advantage of its lovely stitch definition.

Have you fallen in love with a yarn this year?

FO: Galloway Cardigan

In 2017 I wanted to try to knit some different garments such as socks and cardigans and I had my mind set on trying a few new techniques such as a tubular cast on (I love it) and possibly steeking.

Here enters the Galloway Cardigan release in the lead up to winter knitting by Brooklyn Tweed. I fell in love immediately and knew I had to have a version if not two. But the pattern was advanced and after buying and reading it I got a bit worried if I could actually accomplish this. My local yarn shop came to the rescue with their perfectly timed “Christmas Jumper Along”. You get to knit in a group with a teacher of a period of time and it’s a great safe environment to try new things.

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Excuse the wonky button band. It needs re-blocking and maybe fixing! ha!

I started the project with some Stone Wool Cormo that I got in a sale from Loop in London. The yardage should have been perfect and even though more sticky yarn is recommended for steeking, I learned that using a sewn reinforced steek you could technically steek most if not all yarns. So off I go.

Now as I mentioned above this pattern is classed as Advanced and it really was, in terms of how it was layed out. You need to read and re-read the pattern ahead of time, to make sure you do not miss any decreases or increases that are meant to happen at the same time as something else. I completely misread part of the body section and my rows did not match up. After doing the maths several times, I contacted the Brooklyn tweed team on Ravelry and they helped me discover my mistake. Now all it really did was make the body about 36 rows longer and being tall I wanted to add some lengths anyways and had done so unknowingly. Win!

However this win had an annoying side effect. I would run out of grey yarn before reaching the yoke and also would not have any yarn for the button band. I tried to buy some more but there was none left unless I ordered it from the US which for 1 skein did not seem worth it. So into the stash I went and found some Brooklyn tweed shelter in a marled grey called Narwhal. It actually went quite well with the cardigan and I love the outcome. It truly is mine now.

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The scariest part for me was picking up the button band after steeking the cardigan. I had done neither technique before and did loads of research and found some great tips for steeking.

  1. If you have lose ends then tape them to one side with normal cellophane before sewing your lines of stitching
  2. Place a piece of cardboard or thin wood between your cardigan layers to avoid cutting the other side.
  3. Use sharp small scissors
  4. Go slow.

I am so glad I saw the tip about the lose ends. They so would have gotten in the way in my sewing machine when I reinforced the steek.

Steeking itself was actually fine and mesmerising. I want to do it again, as soon as I can. But picking up the stitches, was really difficult and I maybe should have waited for some help. I will definitely get some more advise on this topic. I think I need to improve how to read my knitting.

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I’ve been wearing this with a brown belt cinched at the waist. It makes it less dressing gown like. LOL

Here are my few modifications/ maker’s marks on this project:

  1. I did not size down for the lice pattern but used a 5mm needle throughout the main body which added volume and more positive ease.
  2. I made a slight colour-work error in the yoke.
  3. Substituted background yarn near the yoke.
  4. The button band was doubled in length and then folded to create a thicker edging more in line with the Stone Wool thickness.
  5. I whip stitched the folded button band down to cover the steeked edge.

 

And because we all love lists, my thumbs up on this pattern:

  1. Attention to detail – tubular cast on finishes the edges beautifully (there is a tubular cast off included but I did not try it).
  2. The chart included a dominant colour guide.
  3. Notes on different types of steeks are included. This was really helpful.
  4. The unusual shape makes for a one of a kind item.

 

In terms of criticism, I only have a couple of things:

  1. The layout of the pattern. It used way more pages than you needed to and it was hard to find your place sometimes.
  2. I found the decreases that had to happen at the same time a bit overwhelming and I recommend spending the time to chart this out or make a list or whatever works for you.
  3. And the other part that was new to me was that the section where the underarms join was bound off instead of kept live. I think next time I would keep those stitches live as I like doing the effect of grafting live stitched together mere.

 

Overall I am super happy with this project and my yarn choices worked well and were a dream to knit with.

KnitPro Aqua Sock Blockers review

I recently finished my 4th pair of socks that I have knitted toe up. These were way too small for me but perfect for  friend. So I needed some new sock blockers. (For myself I followed this tutorial on making my own specific to my own feet.)

I purchased the small size of the KnitPro sock blockers in Aqua. These are made from a sturdy plastic and have cut out sections, which helps air circulate for faster drying. Initially as I unpacked the sock blockers I was a bit disappointed, they were scuffed in places and the cut out section had jagged edges.

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You can see the jagged edges in the cut out sections here

 

It looked like the scuffing was from the jagged edges being sand papered a bit but they are certainly not smooth. I want to try and smooth them a bit more, but I did just go ahead and used them and they worked very well.

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My socks fitted the size perfectly and blocked nicely. The stitches are even and they socks actually look like proper socks now. I will definitely always use sock blockers now. I was lazy before and only used my homemade ones once. oops!

I cannot wait to give these to my friend and see if they fit her properly. 🙂

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Regarding the sock blockers, if you see them in a shop try to see how jagged the cut out bits are and pick the best set. Judging by other online reviews this is quite common, but I am sure a bit of sanding with a very light sandpaper will help too if you are worried.

Mine did not catch on my yarn even though they had jagged edges. I can recommend these, as they do the job, just be careful using them initially.

Note: I bought these sock blockers from my own money and have not received any incentive to review these.