Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Currently on the needles

This is the first post after returning from our Romanian vacation. It was great (as usual) spending time with family and friends.
It was equally nice to visit my home again and clean and dust and get the sun and some fresh air in.
And of course I had a chance to browse my old knitting magazines and bring a few old Rebecca numbers back here.
So my 'wish list' is rapidly growing.
Now this is the update on the projects currently on the needles.

Kinsale - Alice Starmore design from Fishermen Sweaters.

The yarn is Karabella Aurora 8 ( lovely yarn ), in a horrible electric colour which I simply hate. Why did I bought this colour? God knows.
I am obviosly cheating here, as the original pattern is calling for a much thinner yarn and smaller needles - but it's more and more often I get this feeling that life is much shorter than I thought is going to be - (and this feeling is entirely based on the number of sweaters I can knit per year :)).

Right, the second one is a no name sweater, from a Dale of Norway magazine.

The yarn is a nice brown shade of Bluefaced Leicester Aran - my Canon camera is not very accurate lately, don't know why.
The original pattern was all in white, I've decided to add another color to the fair isle bit, which is a nice oatmeal. The pic doesn't do justice to the colours.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Violet cardigan

Right, I've decided to update this post and finish the story.
I was trying to duplicate this fabulous cardigan :

which, by the way can be seen here, She has great designs, I simply love them all.

And, of course, mine just did not look the same :(.

The yarn is back in the ball (Karabella Aurora 8 ), but I think I know what I'm doing wrong here. It's a cotton yarn not a wool yarn I need, in order to get the bubbles lines to look the same. And to get the same drape effect.
The idea is on hold and I am might be considering Rowan Calmer for this job, not sure yet.
End of story and end of frustration.

Monday, July 03, 2006

FO Flower Basket Shawl

Quote of the Post:
"It's all about mind over matter, if you don't mind it doesn't matter !"

Last UFO finished last week.

For a few days afterwards I managed to stay 'clean' and got myself focused on all sorts of other tasks. First I finished ironing (the mountain of clothes I had piled up for weeks) and this was a great achievment. Did some washing and gardening, re-organized the stash - even did weekend walks :).
Just enjoying independence and pretending to be a normal person.
It didn't last long though.
Everything went downhill last night, when I could not resist anymore and started my Aurora 8 sweater.
But that's another story altogether :).

Now back to the FB shawl.
Loved the pattern, loved the yarn.
I've used Blue Sky Alpaca Silk in red brick (4 skeins), and 4.5 mm needles.

The photo is not very clear - but there was no way to convince my model to repeat the shouting session in the day light.
If you have teenagers you'll know precisely what I mean.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Intermezzo Jo Sharp sweater

That's what I've been doing last weekend - re-shaping the neck line for the Jo Sharp aran sweater, by decreasing 1/4 of the total stitches. AGAIN !

Just to remaind you (and me) the whole story - this sweater went huge and lifeless after HAND washing and carefully blocking and I've already had to reknit the ribbing and to cut off a part of it.
The yarn is DB casmerino aran - and it's a final no-no on my list. Not even for shawls or afgans - simply because it's peeling like hell as well as relaxing way too much - don't even want to think about it any more...

FO - Lace Dream Shawl

I finished this one a few weeks ago - just waited for the blocking wires to arrive.
I wasn't very impressed with the wires - too thick to be inserted right at the edge and difficult to handle... but using millions of pins instead would have been worst I guess.

Back to the shawl. It is designed by Eugen Beugler, very easy (and boring) pattern - drives you crazy after a while :)). (I know now how Penelope must have been felt doing the same thing over and over again)

Yarn: I've used 5 balls of Rowan Kidsilk Haze - in Pearl.
It is a great lace weight silk/mohair yarn - it was a real pleasure to knit with.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Stitch markers

Basically I had enough of the improvised stitch markers I am using at the moment. I bought some thin rubber hair bands from Claire's last year and they are sort of ok-ish when knitting wool or cotton but it's a total nightmare using them when knitting mohair yarn as they get totally tangled.
After a lot of frustration I thought I deserve more, so I've started doing some googling in order to buy some proper ones.
The conclusion is there is no way I am going to pay 14 pounds for a set of four, when I need at least three sets for my doillies.
So what's left if not the old Back to DIY.
Research phase : I've asked Angel yarns forum and got all the advice I needed, thank you all.

Here is me, two hours later, in Leeds, in Corn Exchange getting the components.

Prior to this was the trip to Hobby Craft - there is where I bought the tools and the pins from.

And here is the result, this morning.

One single remark for who ever wants to try it: my sticth markers will be ok for thin needles, but the ring is too small for normal knitting (on 4-5 mm needles or bigger).
I've used 7 mm jump rings, 10 mm would have been much better.

And was it cheaper doing then buying them? No way! But it was definitely FUNNIER :) .

Thursday, May 25, 2006

FO - Entrelac sweater

This is my first entrelac achievement: Debbie Bliss Entrelac sweater.

It took me almost two months to finish it and I've really enjoyed it. Entrelac is fun and addictive.
Noro yarns are great, I've used Kureyon, which is quite thick - my hands and wrists were hurting for days after finishing the sweater.
It's all the turning in entrelac which makes it very difficult to handle.
Knowing this now, I would probably use Silk Garden for any next Noro project.
The picture is taken in Scotland in Stonehaven - during a two days kiosk installation session in Aberdeen - and I was really glad I had this sweater ready - I definitely did not expect 1 grade Celsius temperature in the middle of May.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Flower Basket Shawl

Quote of The Post

"It is our choices Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. "
- Albus Dumbledore

That's next on my list - Flower Basket shawl.

I think I finally found the right yarn for it : it's Blue Sky Alpaca Silk in brick red.

I've started the shawl a few weeks ago with Jamieson's Ultra and I didn't like the way it turn out - the yarn is too thin, so it went back on the ball.

I ordered the new alpaca from US, from and stronly hope I am not going to be disappointed by the color - buying online is tricky, specially with my laptop monitor.
And I've also received a color chart yesterday from Artesano Alpaca - so I know exactly what I'm buying next :) for a short sleeve blouse.
But I need a financial recovery first.
No, I'm not broken due to 4 skeins of silk Alpaca, it's because I've been greedy and ordered 900 grams of Aurora 8 violet as well, in the same order ... well, just could not resist. And to save on shipment, of course.

I start to wonder what's more addictive : the knitting itself or buying yarns...
Please feel free to vote on this thought :).

Monday, May 08, 2006

Joining Entrelac shoulders seamlessly

Thanks God, finally finished both parts of my Noro entrelac sweater.
My hands and wrists are hurting - the parts are quite heavy and it's too much 'turning' in this entrelac technique. I need to learn to knit backwards.
Anyway, it's Joining Time !
All other problems I had seam to fade away as, at this stage, the pattern only says : join the parts together :).
I am not going to complain again about the pattern, as it definitely has a good part as well: it does force you into thinking a lot.
I've rejected the idea of closing triangles from the start, so I needed to come up with something else, more intelligent eventually.
And this something else needs to be a seamlessly method!

I started with a few hours of staring at both parts lying flat on the table, trying to fit them together in different ways. Finally enlightenment struck.

You want to find out the result, don't you?
Well, in this case send me an email to enroll in my knitting class or simply pay a fee for written instructions.

Sorry, just joking :).

Right, stay tuned. Here it is what I've noticed:

- If you end up both parts on the same side ( WS or RS ), you'll be able to get them together perfectly like this, the open stitches facing each other and the edges being parallel with each other. Well - it looks OK but actually it isn't: as the blocks are suppose to be oriented against each other and not parallel with each other!

- But, if you knit one more row for the front part, which was good anyway as it's going to push the back a bit down, then you get the blocks facing in the right direction: against each other.
Now, try to get the parts together again and you'll notice, (sh..t), they don't fit anymore!
Don't despair - what you can do to get them to interlace is to shift one of the parts slightly to the right or to the left - your choice. Just make sure you are shifting the other side symmetrically. I've decided to shift the front in a kind of inner position, the back part end triangles covering the edge of the front on both sides.
You will need to work an extra triangle at one of the edges - but this is easy to figure out.
See image.

So, now it's a case that the blocks are against each other, as in normal entrelac, and you have to join four live stitches with a block edge.
My method is quite simple and worked very well - it might be that there are other better ways.
What I did was to pick up four stitches from the edge of the block and get them alternatively on one single needle, together with the live stitches : one live stitch, one picked-up, one live stitch, one picked-up etc. You'll end up with 8 stitches and all you have to do is work them on the WS , 4 times (k2tog). The result is 4 stitches.
Just continue like this for each block. You might need to 'k2tog through the back' on some blocks - decide this by checking on the RS that the picked up stitches don't get twisted after k2tog.
Turn at the end of the row and cast-off all stitches. All this is happening on the WS, right?
Done,that's all.
You will end up with a kind of zig-zag seam on the WS, but it's just making the shoulders to look a bit higher.
I am really proud about the result - there is no way you can see any difference between the knitted rows and the joined ones.
...Sleeves next !

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Shaping the neck in entrelac

Quote of the Post

"Every fighter has one fight that makes or breaks him."
Elia Kazan

I run into a problem shaping the neck.
How do I continue from here ???

The problem is that the pattern does not say how to achive the same decrease ( as the one in the red circle) on the other side of neck. Should I say again how poorly decribed this pattern is?
I am just going to try to mirror the description for the left side.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Noro Entrelac sweater

Quote of the Post:

"I hope you realize nobody likes smart women."
- My Partner

A few months ago I became quite keen on trying the Forest Path shawl.
I've seen so many shawls I like but they are just nice or very nice. This one has the X-Factor.
I did a bit of googling about it and some blogs say it's not a good idea to think you can learn entrelac on this project.
RIGHT. Next step was to start looking for another (easier) entrelac project.
Back to Google search again ( in images as usually) and voila: I got the perfect combination : entrelac and Noro.
I was having some fantasies about Noro yarns and colors for a while now.
So, to cut a long story short, this is why I am knitting thick wool sweaters in the spring AND in 2006 (which is suppose to be the Year of the Lace).

That's the pattern I chose - now, isn't it AG (Absolutely Gorgeous) ?

I am going with the same yarn and same colours as well.
I am tired of modifying patterns.
That's my stage after three days of doing nothing but knitting :).

A few thoughts about entrelac

Great technique and very, very easy to learn. After finishing one line of squares you'll not need the instructions again. A bit slower than traditional knitting, a lot of 'turning', but highly rewarding. And highly addictive as well.
I really can not see entrelac adding difficulty to any project.
You will make a swatch anyway and it will take you a maximum of 30 minutes doing 2 or 3 lines in order to get the idea.
Now be aware, there might a trap: the Entrelac how-to instructions.
The instructions in my book are weird. I did not get anywhere with them.
I found a few sources on the net, read them in parallel and finally got the point.
Soon I will write down my own tutorial :), so stay tuned.

Things I don't like about the pattern

No schematics, diagrams, etc. , I hate this.
Another thing: my gauge was correct, even so the (L) size I've chose is smaller then the (M) one from the book. So my advice would be : swatch, measure and decide for yourself.
And bear in mind the entrelac grows a lot after the plain knitted ribbing.

Noro yarns

Kureyon is 100% wool - quite thick, difficult to handle and uneven. A few times I had to take out parts which were very very thin in the overall context.
I've decided next time I will try a softer type - maybe Silk Garden.
The colours are great though. I simply love this yarn.
You will see the world differently after knitting these colours.
I went out this morning - had a look in the garden and really felt like I was knitting my pansies.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Lace Dream shawl

Quote of the Post:

"Having children is like having a bowling alley installed in your brain." - Alan Bleasdale

Last Saturday I've started my first shawl - the pattern is from Shawls and Scarves : The Best of Knitter's Magazine.
It is called Lace Dream, designed by Eugen Beugler.
That's the first shot:

Very easy pattern - I can't see the need to be classed as 'intermediate' level, unless you attempt to use markers between repeats (which is more than advisable anyway). This was what got me into a bit of trouble.
The pattern does not say to move the markers one stitch forward in front of every repeat for the first 4 pattern rows of the chart - but you have to figure this out when realizing you've got an extra stitch left before starting every chart repeat segment.
That's why I prefer German magazines - no space for any confusion in patterns.
No offence :).
The yarn is Rowan KidSilk Haze: I love the yarn but I am not very keen on this particular colour - it's called 'Pearl' and in my opinion it lacks a little bit more brightness - it is too grey-beige ( kind of 'dirty' appearance). But at least it's neutral enough :).
Keep saying I will get colour charts before getting the yarn from the internet - it never happens though.
I am today at the point where I finished the first ball ( out of 4 ) - so I've got a quarter done - and I am already bored with it. I am measuring and measuring after each new line hoping it's going to grow faster - looks now like a sexual experience :).
Having sais this, somehow I guess I am not going to be into square shawls very soon...

Monday, March 06, 2006

Wash your swatch

This should be added as a new rule in the 10 Principles of knitting.
(Of course ) I did not wash my swatch so I had to face a nasty surprise after washing the aran sweater: the marvelous (and highly overpriced) cashmerino aran looked like a drowned cat !
No life left in the cables PLUS that the sweater went longer.
I had to choices : to give it away - which I can't do from obvious emotional reasons - or to cut the bottom parts.
Right: Here is the sweater undertaking surgery :

It took me an entire weekend to knit the ribs again. Somehow I have the feeling I will have to repeat this in the future, after any few washes...
Very poor choice of yarn - this is a new 'never again' on my list with 'never again' things.

At least I had a nice winter weather as a 'background' for the sweater re-engineering.
This was the Friday (English) snow in Halifax:

Thursday, March 02, 2006

My first Olympic gold medal for the 'Dahlie'

I received an email this morning from 'Kat with a K', inviting me to pick up my Knitting Olympic Gold medal.
The best part of this is that I didn't even think I was in the competition at all - as I never got a confirmation to my 'joining' application :). How good is this?

Here it is:

Am I proud of it or what?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Niebling knitted lace, the Dahlie

I managed to get over the first failure with the lace knitting and bought some proper cotton in order to have another go at it.
Valentine Day was the casting-on date (worked well as therapy against weird relationship).
The pattern is called 'Dahlie', it's from a German Burda magazine - E908 and it was designed by Herbert Niebling, according to a few Internet references.
It's absolutly great to work.
I've used DMC Cebelia 20 (light beige) and 2.5 mm needles.

This is the stage after a week: it's just an ugly mass of stitches. I can't say I had much enthusiasm in knitting it - if you've never done lace it's difficult to imagine how much different and nicer it's going to be after it is getting blocked.

Had a few problems with the blocking - mainly due to my own stupidity.
I draw the circle on a present wrapping paper and after placing the wet doily on it, the colors started to appear from the other side of the paper - so I needed to lift the doily FAST, removed the paper - but kept the needles in place.
This is the doily, with the cat assisting all the time - she even slept on the towel all night long.

Next morning 'beauty shot':

While doing the 'Dahlie' I found out about the Knitting Olympics, but it was too late for me to join.
I spent a lot to find the Great Britain team leader - had no luck though.
Obviously I had no choice but to start my own team :) , joined it and finished on time, a few hours before the Olympics closing ceremonies.
So I declare this as my Olympic project in my own Knitting Olympics competition :).

And now the conclusions:
A great pattern will produce a great doily.
A high quality yarn is essential - DMC Cebelia was a very good choice indeed.
And last but not the least : Don't even think of starting a lace pattern without joining a forum first :).
Many thanks to the Teddys ( my german friends from the Teddys forum ) and to the Knitter's Review forum.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Hunting for yarns around Halifax

  • For Debbie Bliss I would go in John Lewis. They stock lots of colors and types. The store in Sheffield is pretty good.
  • For anything else than designer wool, I would go in Bradford : Texere Yarns Mill. Visiting the Mill is in itself a great experience - three huge floors packed with all sort of yarns. They stock alpaca, mohair, wool, cotton, basically anything you might imagine. And the people are very nice and helpful.
Texere Yarns Mill

    <>For posh designer yarns visit Attica in Hebden Bridge. We bought two skeins of gorgeous Colinette in order to get Georgia to take up knitting. They stock Noro as well. It is a small shop - but very nice and friendly atmosphere.
Colinnete from Attica
  • I guess ColdSpring Mill is OK for bargains - Ioana found some nice colorful wool for a scarf and here is her progress.

2005 - Year of cable

The story:
At some point last year David went visible annoyed that I am demanding too much of his time, so he suggested I should take up a hobby of my own : Why can't you do knitting for a change, he said :).
I highly appreciated his point of view - as obviously a man needs to have more space and time to keep the remote, the TV and the sofa hot.
So I thought - knitting would not be such a bad idea afterall.
I went through a phase of searching for yarns and designer magazines and this was quite exciting - I remembered my old good times in the knitting arena :).
Finally I found a nice pattern for me, unfortunately the most important part was crochet and I had to cancel the idea.
BUT, as it happens, we've seen a nice sweater pattern for men and I said to myself: let's reward him and make him a sweater. He got me into knitting again after all :).
Here is the original pattern, it's a Jo Sharp design - Book no. 2.

and here is the result, after 4 months. I made a few change to the original design, as I did not like the sleeves :)) .
It took aprox. 1 kg Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran.

My first doily experience

...And how (and why) I failed.
Well, as a start, I chose the wrong yarn, the wrong needles and the wrong pattern :). Did I forget anything :) ?
The pattern is called 'Konigin' and it's from a German publication : Kunststricken. In German, Kunststricken means lace knitting.

Right, here is the beginning.
First I failed a few times to put 8 stiches on 4 needles - don't assume it's easy coz it ain't.
In all knitting magazines you will see nice diagrams depicting this stage - well nothing beats the real life.
Sitting at the table helps a lot, do not do it on the sofa and don't imagine you will watch TV in the same time.
This is my doily after 4 hours of struggle.

The cotton is Twilley's no. 5, with a 3 mm needle.
The yarn label asked for a 3.25 mm needle, so I thought it's going to be ok. Well, it wasn't !
After another 3 days, I started to have big doubts about my doily being 2D :).
Went on a forum and got the obvious advice : try to block it : and I did !

If you want it flat then look at the effect this has for the next sector - it ruffles.
Now about the pattern. Here is the original photo.

Can you see the red circle? That area is suppose to be 8 stiches of plain knit. And there is a dark line right in the middle : that's a shadow - the original does not lie flat either.

And here is a bit of the pattern.

It grows quite fast in row 23 to 35 : more than 8 stiches per round, as it would suppose to do, at least according to this article:

My conclusions :

Analyze the pattern before starting. Go with the 'pattern recommended' thread/needle or equivalent. Do not assume any yarn would do with the 'yarn label recommended' needle size.

I would start again probably, with a size 30 or 40 cotton on a 3 mm needle, but I haven't got much enthusiasm left at the moment.

Friday, February 03, 2006

10 Principles of Knitting

10 Principles of Knitting

1. It's all about the awesome yarn choices. Simple stitches & patterns create gorgeous pieces.
2. Strive to relax and have fun. Do not strive for perfection.
3. Be clever & daring. Take a risk!
4. Every mistake can be fixed.
5. Swatch, swatch, swatch.
6. Set goals, not deadlines.
7. Never stop learning.
8. Share the legacy, teach someone to knit.
9. Put your signature on each gift.
10. Knit with love.