FO: Boko Boko Cowl

 

Back in the summer of 2017 I attended Pomfest. This was a mix of yarn fest and talks and I think there may have also been workshops but I only attended a couple of talks and browsed the beautiful stalls.

One of the talks was by Olga Buraya-Kefelian who talked about her knitting career and her journey through creating 3D textures and shapes with a Japanese influence. I had known of some of Olga’s designs but I wasn’t sure if her designs would be for me. But her talk was THE thing I kept talking about with my knitting friends.

2 knitting friends from the local community also saw her talk and were as fascinated as me by her Boko Boko Cowl and decided to organise a knit along.

Like I tend to do I had some ideas but decided to try and put my own spin on this pattern and see if I can use a lovely gradient of Brooklyn Tweed Arbor that I had in my stash already. This yarn is DK and as it is not too tightly spun I added in the recommended fine laceweight yarn with some steel content to help the spikes keep their shape.

The pattern is relatively simple. The trickiest bit was holding the lace weight steel yarn and not dropping it, as it did not always like to behave like the other yarn.

Once you have the pattern memorised it is a very quick satisfying knit. Not as boring as stockinette but also not too challenging for TV. And you are creating a cool 3D texture.

The yarn:

I used Brooklyn Tweed Arbor for the first time and really enjoyed knitting with it. The colours were great and the yarn never split. The twist seems to help bring out the lovely texture and ridges created by the yarn overs and decreases. It feels soft but not like merino, there is a slight sturdiness to it.

The other yarn I used was the Habu textiles steel wrapped silk yarn. I decided to use a golden colour to match most of the colours throughout and I like the subtle shine it gives the finished piece. Holding it alongside the DK yarn was a bit tricky in places but otherwise it was fine to knit with.

My Mods:

  1. Less repeats of each row and hence smaller spikes due to amount of yarn I had
  2. Multicolour cowl – over 6-8 rows I would alternate colours to fade in the next colour
  3. I didn’t pay attention to how many repeats I should do of the full pattern, just knitted til my yarn ran out
  4. Used DK yarn
  5. Made a size between small and medium

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.

 

 

Friday Favourite: knitting resources

At work in my day job I have a rule of, “if someone asks me about X and it is not documented then I will document it”.

So, the more I have been talking and posting about knitting the more I have been asked about sharing some resources and this is what I want to do here. I do want to add though that you do not need any of these things. I learned most from talking to friends and knitting with them over a coffee and chatting. Knit groups or even knit classes can be really valuable for that too.

And before I start, I just read Anna Maltz’ editorial in the most recent Pom Pom magazine and I was literally just talking at knit night about how we all knit differently and there is no right or wrong way really. There may be an advised way by the pattern you are following but in the end you make it how you you like whether you are a thrower or a picker. The act of creating and the side effect of community is what drives my knitting.

Beginning to knit.

Kate Templer has put together a great guide already. You can find it here with many links.

 

Techniques. Books.

Credit for these first two books goes to Suzanne.

  1. The Knowledgable Knitter. With lots of actual photos.
  2.  Knitter’s Handbook. This book can generally be found on eBay or amazon cheap if you look around a bit. It contains drawings rather than photos.
  3. Fresh Brioche. This book was instrumental in teaching me brioche knitting. It shows you every technique in English and continental style using many pictures. It then includes several patterns and stitch patterns to try.
  4. The Principles of Knitting. My close knitter friend recommended this and wow it is a bible of everything. I was not expecting such a hefty book. The hardback is sturdy and a great thing to dip in and out of.

 

Techniques. Blogs and websites.

  1. Purl soho website. Lots of posts and tutorials. I save these in my notes app for easy on the go access.
  2. Kelbourne woollens website. Again lots of easy tutorials.
  3. Ysolda’s blog – tutorials. Nice visuals on different increases and decreases as well as an interesting post on colour dominance.

 

Interesting posts.

This lists some of my favourite posts that are more specifically about a certain subject.

  1. Why you should swatch.
  2. Increases. Ever wonder what different increases look like? Ysolda shows you here.
  3. Creating a colour story for a yoke perhaps.
  4. Swatching in the round by Ysolda.
  5. Make your own sock blockers.

 

Stitch dictionaries.

  1. Alterknit – it contains great graphical patterns but also a pooping pig. 🙂
  2. Norah Gaughan’s Knitted Cable sourcebook. OMG cables so beautiful!
  3. 150 Scandinavian Knitting Designs. I used a lot of the stitch patterns in this make from this book.

There are many more stitch dictionaries that I would like to have a nosey in but these are the ones I have actually seen and own.

WIPs: December edition

December’s works in progress looks rather full. Not much room for Christmas knitting, not that I have ever been much of an unselfish knitter.

Pair of socks

We start December with an almost finished pair of ribbed socks being made in Countess Ablaze sock yarn. These are being finished as part of the YAK Extremeties KAL. This is actually going to be a present, mostly because I initially misread the pattern and didn’t adjust for my massive feet. But luckily I know someone with tiny feet who just moved to colder climate. Win for us both.

Christmas Jumper along – Galloway Cardigan

I am actually making the Galloway cardigan in Stone Wool Cormo (which is lovely) and some Brooklyn Tweed Shelter because I ran out of said Stone Wool Cormo yarn.

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This is another KAL, but this time with a face to face class. We meet 2 more times in December before having a Christmas party, hopefully wearing finished jumpers/cardigans

Brioche Scarf – Willow

This is referring to the Willow scarf from Nancy Marchant and again was part of a KAL I never finished. There may be a bit of a pattern here…This is 2/3 done and is using DK weight yarn which is part silk from Countess Ablaze. I just need to remember how to knit brioche and this will be finished. My aim is to actually finish this by the end of the year making room for more new cast ons.

 

Timely Cardigan

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Another never finished KAL item. I do love this though but the dropping temperatures have meant that I have put finishing other things first. I am hoping the holidays will give me the space and time to just finish this as well. Although the above mentioned brioche project takes priority.

 

Starting Point Shawl

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The oldest project that is still in progress. I am in two minds about finishing this as it is less than 50% done but in a way I do really like the project and love loads of the finished versions of this. I think I will just need to make some space and time to finish it and not just start loads of new things as soon as December is over.

 

There you have it. December will be busy. Let’s see what I finish and start by the new year. 🙂 Are you itching to cast on new things or knitting Christmas gifts, or just finishing some selfish knitting?