WIP: Aug 2018

I’ve started a new job and it’s been quite exhausting. I’ve started a few jobs over the years but I’m struggling this time to have the energy to unwind with knitting in the evening.

You know what it’s like, new people, new processes and tools and at the end of the day I just need some trash TV and cannot concentrate.

None of my current WIPs are mindless enough to warrant knitting at the same time.

The main new project that has jumped onto my needles is the Ingrid Sweater by Helga Isager from Room 606. This is a beautiful publication with great photos.

I found the instructions quite hard initially so started with the back piece of the jumper to get used to the writing style and I finally understand the shaping of the front and back piece. The tricky bit will be the awesome wedge of the sleeves.

This is also the first time I’m knitting with Mohair. The original is quite modern and plain but I decided to mix it up by using Qing fibre kidsilk dyed in Monsoon colour-way to create a nice colour flow. Right now I love this match. Will see how things go for the sleeves.

I also started Paper Birch Socks. These are a fun colourwork sock that looks more complicated than it is due to the clever use-age of a colour fading yarn. I am using leftovers from my Boxy and a Zauberball as contrast.

In the meantime I’ve messed up my askews me. I didn’t take it as a travel project this weekend because I have no idea how to fix my mistake. But I did get a bit further with it. The mistake is not on this image yet. It was a section further in. Sigh. I’ll fix it somehow before the bank holiday weekend during which I’ll have lots of travel knitting time. 🙂

Hopefully you are all having a more productive knitting time than me. I just seem to start more and more things. Ha!

WIP: July 2018

It has been such a hot few weeks here that it has been hard to keep knitting. Sweaty hands keep making me fear that I will felt the yarn and also it just does interrupt my knitting flow if the yarn gets a bit sticky. :/

Nevertheless after I finished my test knit for Narwhal, I felt rejuvenated and wanted to cast on all the things just for me. 😀

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One of those was the Lotta dress from Laine magazine, which I decided to use a linen blend yarn from Purl soho for. I am holding it double to get gauge.I am liking how it knits up so far but as you can see I have barely done 10 rows, if that. This is because I was also taken by the Askews me shawl by Stephen West.

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I think Askews me has haunted me for ages, not knowing what yarn to use but then I suddenly felt super inspired and found some stuff in my stash to use. Both yarns I wanted to keep for something special but actually this will be special. The yarns I am using are an optic fade set from Madelinetosh in DK and Brooklyn Tweed Arbor set from Stephen and Penelope which included a limited edition dyed skein from House of a la Mode. I am loving knitting this. It is only my second brioche project ever and possibly much easier than my first. I am still a bit scared of using lighter weight yarns for brioche projects but I will get there. This DK combo is nice and easy to get into a rhythm with without the yarn slipping all over the place.

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My idea is to fade the Optic colours from light to dark on top and do the opposite on the underside, but throw in a splash of colour once in a while as an ode to Stephen West. 😀

Other projects still in progress are my Timely Cardigan which recently had an update to include a wider range of sizes! You should check it out. It is a lovely knit but I just keep getting distracted.

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And as part of my local yarn shop’s shawl along I picked up my abandoned Starting Point wrap. I had even marked it frogged on Ravelry but I revived it and finished the first section and am now on the second. An amazing observation from starting this one again is that my gauge is a lot loser a year later! Will see how that will affect the finished product.

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What have you been knitting in July?

FO: Narwhal by Sari Nordlund

If anyone took part in Fringe Association’s knit along in 2016 they would have already seen this beautiful design by Sari Nordlund. She designed a beautiful top down jumper with a cabled front and reverse stockinette body. The body shape itself is straight without any shaping opening it up for being as designed with 2-5cm positive ease or you could push the boat out and go really oversized. I think that would be awesome!

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As I was a test knitter I kept to the instructions and chose a size with 2-5cm positive ease based on my upper bust measurement. The only modification I made was aim for slightly longer sleeves, simply because I have really long arms.

If you search #narwhalsweater on instagram you will also be able to see the other test knitter versions. The cable pattern is super clever and you will be able to remember it, don’t worry! And once you do it will make you feel amazing. It is a joy to watch this sweater grow.

The trickiest part of the design is reading the charts of the left and right hand side of the yoke and getting the increases right, but Sari has been really good at providing hints and tips throughout the pattern.

I especially love her tip about knitting the sleeves inside out, which really sped up my knitting. By knitting them inside out you can knit in stockinette and are creating the reverse stockinette effect. Be conscious of potential gauge issues doing this though.

This jumper is made using light sport weight (always swatch to get gauge) and hence will be a great transitional piece or even for colder summer evenings. In the pictures I was on the windy south coast one summer’s eve, when the wind chill picked up.

Speaking of yarn, I used Julie Esselin Fino. It’s content is the following:

  • 75% Wool – Merino
  • 15% Goat – Cashmere goat
  • 10% Silk

It was a buttery soft yarn to knit with and the colour is stunning in the light. It will look sort of mustard yellow and go into gold tones as well. Just my perfect colour palette at the moment. 😀 All in all I had a blast knitting this and can’t wait to see more versions of this beautiful jumper appear now that it will be released tomorrow! I will update my ravelry project to link to it as soon as I can.

 

 

 

FO: The Uncommon Boxy

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This title is a bit funny, as this pattern is anything but uncommon! There are nearly 4000 versions of this on Ravelry already!

I finished this a while ago and have worn it as much as I could before the weather got to warm. I am talking about the infamous Boxy which I knitted in a gorgeous green colour way by “The Uncommon Thread”, which I talk about here.

This pattern is a sea of stockinette which made it a perfect travel project. I cast this on on new year’s day if I remember correctly and it did take me a while to finish, but that was mostly because until you get to the upper body where some clever detail is hidden it is just  stockinette for hours.

It is a great pattern to try a fade on or use a variegated yarn. You basically make a rectangle and the some magic happens that I don’t really remember and suddenly you add the neckline ribbing and sleeves and you are done.

The bit I am sort of annoyed about is not thinking about the fact that the yarn was hand-dyed and I should have knitted with alternate balls throughout to blend the colour but I have a subtle colour blocked version of this now, which is also fine.

My favourites bits are the detail at the top of the shoulders and along the back. It is a nice touch and makes the pattern more exciting to knit right at the end. I feel like Joji is very clever like that. She makes beautiful addictive to knit patterns that are accessible and fun to make. You still feel like you are learning something.

The only amendment I made was make the sleeves full length. I felt like for my wardrobe this was a better choice, but since I made the jumper I want to make more versions of it so I may also try the recommended sleeve length on those. 🙂

This was a major success and it goes so well in my wardrobe. I can’t believe it has taken me two years to start this knit. If you are thinking about it, knit it now. You won’t regret it. 😀

 

Friday Favourites: The colour Orange!

I was looking through my yarn stash for some inspiration this week and discovered that a new colour has crept into my stash on several different yarn bases and with different projects in mind. All of these were of some sort of orange!

I wondered where this new like for this colour has come from as my two new notebooks are also orange and googled what Pantone’s colour of the year was but according to them I am very 2012! 2018’s colour of the year is in fact Ultra Violet.

Where was this obsession coming from? I have no idea, according to Vogue I am also missing the point in this year’s trendy colours! haha!

Oh well. According to y buying habit I shall be making something orange in the very near future.

The yarns below are from variety of independent makers with different projects in mind.

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The only one I am still certain about, is the solid orange in the middle which is Malabrigo sock yarn. This will become  pair of cabled socks at some point. The Zauberball at the end most likely as well. Maybe not cabled but I mean a pair of socks.

Qing fibre is a singles yarn so this is likely to become part of a shawl I think. I need to unwind the skein to have a look at the other colours properly.

Do you ever look through your stash and notice a new theme in your buying habit?

EDIT: I had prepped this post and then just this orange and beautiful pattern was released! Wool and Honey by Andrea Mowry!

Isn’t it fun!? I am raiding my stash at the moment to see if I can make it from the stash!

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© Andrea Mowry

WIP: June 2018

It has been a while since I posted a WIP for the month post. Oh in fact it was in January! :O

At least my Finished Object posts are almost up to date! I need better pictures of my Boxy for then which is mentioned in January and was finally completed a month ago. Some pics are here.

So what am I actively working on at the moment? I am test knitting a wonderful design by Sari Nordlund who designed this jumper as part of the 2016 top down jumper along for Karen Templer. It is called Narwhal and features exquisite cables. I am using a silk blend yarn called Fino by Julie Asselin and it is define to knit with. So soft and in this awesome yellow gold colour.

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Apart from that I am adding to my scarp blanket here and there and just had an idea to add swatches to it as well so you may see some knit stitches randomly pop up in it.

The orange notebook signifies me working on my first jumper pattern. I am super excited about this and learned a lot making it. My main takeaway is to take better notes as I go!

And some eagle eyed may have noticed the start of a Starting point half in this picture. As part of my local yarn shops summer knit along I picked up with WIP. I had actually in my mind frogged it already but then decided to make it. I am intrigued about the construction and actually the pattern is a lot easier than I remember. I must have learned a bit in the last year since I last knitted this pattern. 🙂

The main goal I have is to complete the golden cabled Narwhal by the end of the month and finish my pattern. I may need to re-test knit it before grading. I want to make something special and I’d like to test myself on my own instructions. 🙂

How is your June knitting looking?

 

Review: The Uncommon Thread – BFL Fingering

I am new to yarn reviews and have previously only reviewed the yarn Spaced Cadet by Countess Ablaze. I very much fell in love with that super chunky yarn and this is a similar love story.

Having previously mostly been buying grey and mustard colour ways and maybe the odd orange, I kept eyeing up this lovely green yarn in my local yarn store. I had knitted with The uncommon thread before and loved it, so I knew the yarn would be good quality but I felt like I couldn’t buy it without a project in mind. Then suddenly a potential match made in heaven occurred to me using the BFL Fingering for the Boxy by Joji.

I cast on the second size and slowly but surely fell in love with this yarn. The colour is great and it is sort of semi solid with very dark spots and almost lime green speckles. The twist gives it structure and supports the lovely stitch definition. It has a certain hardiness to it while being soft enough to wear against the skin.

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The Uncommon Thread is a small indie company in Brighton, England which at its heart wants to be eco friendly and sources from small mills, resulting in some limited edition bases. From their about page:

I aim to source a few unusual, British breed yarns that are often limited editions. These are spun in small mills from small flocks and are very special. But here you’ll also find luxury fibres, such as cashmere, silk, alpaca and merino for your knitting pleasure.

I am very passionate about the environment and aim to minimise the impact I have on it. I simmer the yarns for a long time so that as much dye as possible can bond with the fibres, rather than going down the drain. Our mailing bags are 100% biodegradable and our tags made from 100% post consumer waste – not only that, they are beautiful too! Our British breeds yarns are spun locally, so have few ‘wool miles’ and some are even spun in a mill partly powered by water.

This particular yarn has been a joy to knit. It has body to it while not being stiff and it also has movement while not being flimsy. It really is a great all round yarn and I cannot wait to wear my boxy in the colder weather!

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Designing: What comes first for you?

I was wondering the other day about my own design process and other peoples. I am currently attending a “Design Masterclass” at my local yarn store and the format means we meet once a month for 4 months and explore designing our own garment or accessory based on some sort of inspiration.

During the process I got very blocked for the first 6 weeks. I was swatching and blocking swatch after swatch but never settling on anything to actually make. This got me thinking about other items I have made in the past and how I made them.

 

Fringe and Friends Knitalong 2016

This was a knit along hosted by Karen Templer of Fringe Association and she even provided a pattern for calculating your own raglan design. I kinda of knew what yarn I wanted to use, as I had just fallen in love with Brooklyn tweed shelter and wanted a marled jumper but with some black accents.

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So I knew it was going to be a top down raglan jumper and I wanted it to be simple to let the yarn sing. Hence you could say my main inspiration came from the yarn.

Wingit Top Down jumper

My Wingit top down jumper was started in a class with Anna Maltz at the lovely Wild and Wooly shop. I loved this class. I feel so free. For me this was mostly about designing something and getting good at 2 colour work. I grabbed a stitch dictionary for simple 2 colour charts and some yarn that was roughly the same weight and played with colours and shapes. It was such a freeing experience.

After each section was done I would think about what colours to use next and which sort of shape they should use. I used a variegated yarn I may not have used otherwise and it really pulls the whole design together.

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So this one was more of a process inspiration.

 

Cosmonaut Hat

My first ever design that I then wrote down as a pattern was my Cosmonaut Hat. This was purely inspired by Countess Ablaze’s amazing Space Cadet yarn. It sparkles! I wanted something simple to let her dye work be really shown off and ideally a massive pom pom.

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So inspired by the yarn I can up with a really simple chunky hat.

 

Current design

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My current design I am working on as part of a class started with a yarn again. I knew that I wanted to use Foxen meets merino to make a jumper or cardigan that has some lovely texture in it. When I started swatching the yarn though I felt it was a bit thin in terms of weight for my liking. It is kind of sport weight maybe even a light sport weight.

So I then went through my stash and found some Madelintosh merino light that I had a similar amount of. In an attempt to not buy anything extra and make use of my stash I started swatching.

Now I dislike purling but I really did like the purl side of my swatches. But I was determined to find a different textured stitch that I liked. But I couldn’t. I did think i’d be happy with the effect of stockinette and started making my jumper. However when I turned it inside out I really liked it. So I continuing to knit this in stockinette but the end result will be turned inside out.

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This one started with yarn and I got creative by just using my stash and my knitting preferences. 🙂

I guess I like winging it and experimenting as I go. This alongside some creative chaos provides me my happy place. 🙂

 

 

FO: Ankle Socks – No sweaty feet!

A good friend of mine is an avid spinner and has been dabbling in dyeing yarn as well. For either my birthday or Christmas last year she gave me a very generous gift of some hand spun sock yarn that she also hand dyed.

The sock yarn is a unique blend of Southdown/Corriedale/yak/silk. This means it is all natural fibres and no nylon in sight. By also adding a high ply to it the yarn is super strong and not felting with the first wears. And no nylon means no sweaty feet. 😉

I used Kate Atherley’s trusty custom socks book to make a plain ankle sock top down. I have used the book for all the socks I have made so far, here and here.

Thinking about it though, I should have done toe up as I wasn’t sure how much yarn I would have. So top tip, if you are unsure of how much yarn you do have – just use a toe up method and you can then wing an ankle sock. 🙂

The sock yarns were dyed slightly differently so the pair is more of a sibling pair than a twin pair but they are so comfy and nice to wear. And they are wearing really well. Hardly any piling or felting! I have worn them on long walks and in the house and no issues so far. When my friend spins up more of this blend and opens her shop I’ll be sure to be there!

 

Other nice details were, that I tried a reinforced heel pattern that I hadn’t done before that makes these ridges. I think it looks nice. I think I am ready to try more patterns now. Do you have a favourite sock pattern?

 

Adventures and learnings from drop spindle spinning

At Edinburgh yarn festival I was lucky enough to attend a class on using a drop spindle. I had never tried spinning before but liked the idea of making my own yarn and the portability of a drop spindle. We live in a small flat with not a lot of storage space, so a wheel is not likely to fit anytime soon and also a drop spindle is a lot cheaper to start with.

During the lesson we used a bottom whorl spindle and had a variety of shetland fibre to use creating a marled look.

My spinning was all over the place but I seem to have been bitten by the bug and bought myself a started kit at the festival. The starter kit included a basic top loading whorl spindle ( I didn’t know I wasn’t buying what I used in the lesson) and some fibre. I think it was a merino fibre. I also got myself some lovely fibre from John Arbon to practice with.

My Spinning tools

As I mentioned I bought a drop spindle from Edinburgh Yarn festival and it was from the threshing barn store. My spindle didn’t have a notch in the whorl making it quite hard to not have the yarn slip and I would definitely recommend to check that you do have a notch when buying your drop spindle. We cut a small notch into mine now and it is so much better to use. I have just been spinning and spinning over the easter holiday. 🙂

As it is only the second ever spindle I have used I cannot say much more about it. Sometimes it spins really well but other times it is a bit wobbly. I think it is quite heavy ~60g or so, causing some of my spinning attempts to fall apart as I am getting quite thin singles now.

I have my eye on a turkish spindle from Enid Ashcroft to try out. In terms of tools that is it so far.

My Spinning

My spinning is basically what I learned in the class. I will pull out bits from the fibre and make rolls using my hands. This is meant to created woolen yarn instead of worsted. A lighter and warmer yarn apparently. I think spring my spindle and do a park and draft method. I have attempted spinning with the spindle just going for it freely but I am not a good enough drafter yet.

I have also come across this challenge of spinning 15 minutes a day.

The blog is super interesting and I like the idea of learning something in small increments as that fits my current lifestyle and leaves room for knitting and crochet.

The types of fibre I have tried to spin with so far are Shetland, Exmoor Blueface and I think Merino. So far the Exmoor Blueface is the easiest but also quite easy to mess up. I liked the longer staple of the shetland making it a bit more predictable in my own hands. I can really see how this spinning different types of yarn and breeds can be really addictive. Waiting I have some more shetland slightly overdid by my friend and some John Arbon Devonia Wool Top.

After spinning 2 singles, I wind each one into its one ball and then wind them together into a ball from which I then ply. I find this helps with tangles a bit makes for a more even ply. But I have read all sorts of ways you can do this and gadgets to use to keep your singles under control, from actual gadgets to flower pots. So far I have kept things simple.

My hand spun yarn has been incorporated into a crochet blanket which I talk about a bit here. I currently have about 50grams of yarn drying and would like to knit that into something. We shall see what it becomes.

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All hand spun bits crochet together