Saturday, August 25, 2007

Hipknits project club

I've signed up for the new Hipknits projects club. The idea is that you get a different project each quarter, learning or refining a different skill each time. I really like the concept, and it was the fair isle cardigan that sold me. The first project is a lace shawl. Unfortunately, the last thing I need at the moment is another lace project, but that's just the way the schedule works.

The first thing to say is that the cashmere yarn supplied is really fine. Much finer than any of the laceweight I have used before. It's 1500 yards to 100g - so that's really cobweb weight isn't it? No wonder it feels fine.

Then I struggled to find suitable needles. My standard Addis were just too blunt and kept snagging the yarn. My lovely KnitPicks don't go down to a small enough size. In the end, I bought some new Addi lace weight 3mm, and these work the best. I was a little disappointed as they had a burr on them, smelt brassy and have a pretty stiff cord, but they're still the best thing I have right now. At some point, I think I'll buy the KnitPicks fixed circulars in the small sizes.

The third thing is the charts. I like to work from charts, but I'm really struggling with this one. The notation is non standard, only a small part of the chart is shown, and the pattern repeat is not marked. All of this has given me a headache. I've tried to simplify the pattern by ignoring the partial patterns at the edge, but don't yet know if this is going to help. In all honesty, I'm not feeling the love on this one, but I will persevere.

So I strayed...onto yet another lace project. I started the Clementine Shawlette, which I've been planning for a while. I had some trouble getting hold of the Blue Skys Alpaca Silk, but having cast on, I love this yarn. I can't stop knitting this project, and it's all about the yarn. Yes, the chart is very clear too, but the yarn is gloriously tactile, and well worth the expense. I'm already starting the straight section of the shawl, having worked the increase section at one end.

Finally, I've updated the blog to use the layout feature in blogger. Not all the data converted properly, so bear with me while I fix it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Serial swatching

Ready to start another easy project, I've been making lots of swatches.

This swatch is more of the Stella I bought in the John Lewis sale, destined to become Evie.

I bought yet more Stella to make the Origami Cardigan in the summer IK, but the bobbles really don't work with the yarn. My pattern gauge is way off, and I think this pattern really needs to be made in a springy wool. I played with an number of other patterns that I thought might be a replacement for the bobbles, but ended up conceding that the bobbles were the main feature in the design, and that the yarn would have to be stowed for another day.
Here's a swatch for some simple socks. This will be first pair using magic loop, so I practised by swatching in the round.
Finally, a lace swatch for Della. More on that in another post, including an answer on why I'm thinking of another lace project while still wrestling manfully with MS3.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Know your nostepinne

I've been winding my skeins recently using a medicine bottle, a tip I learnt on the MS3 group. It works really well, but maybe isn't best suited to thousands of yards of laceweight...

So I ordered a nostepinne. It's a lovely handturned yew article, but comes with no instructions at all. I just decided to have a go anyway, and here's the first result.

The ball ended up a bit messy, so I googled and found these helpful instructions at the Woolery.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Let's hear it for LYS

Two good tales to tell of local yarn stores this week:

Stash and burn podcast had described using Misti Alpaca Bulky to make a cropped cardigan in a previous estimate, and I was keen to try the yarn. Stash is the only UK supplier I've found of this yarn, and when I read that they had got new stock in, I called to order some. It was difficult to figure out the colours over the phone, and finally the assistant said, " I think you really ought to come in". I agreed, but explained that the hours the shop was open would make it difficult. She then volunteered to provide an after hours opening just for me! I felt a bit like film star when I went over there, and not under any pressure. Of course, I ended up spending twice as much as planned!

Secondly, I needed the pattern, and tracked it down at Loop. I called them yesterday, and the pattern was here today. As it was just a single sheet of paper, they even waived the postage!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Variation on SP11 questionnaire

I'm not a secret pal, but thought I'd give the questionnaire a go anyway:

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
My favourite is soft wool. I like most natural fibres. Hate eyelash yarns, and don't generally care for synthetics.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
I have a felted needle roll for my circs and a small wicker basket for my straights and dpns.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
18 months. Intermediate.

4. What's your favorite scent?
Lavender, cinnamon, cardamom

5. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
I like brights, not so keen on sludgy browns

6. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
Yes, except for ponchos!

7. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Hmm, difficult one, anything I can knit in the round

8. What are you knitting right now?
A stole, BSJ, Lutea shell and big bag

9. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

10. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
Addi circs

11. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
Swift only

12. How old is your oldest UFO?
18 months

13. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on?
Yes, I'd like the latest Noni patterns, the Norah Gaughan leaflet from Berroco and a cropped cardigan pattern from Blue Sky Alpacas

14. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
I'd like to improve my fair isle and cabling skills

15. Are you a sock knitter?
An occasional one

16. Ravelry?

Of course! Smugsheep on Ravelry.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Starting my first BSJ

I cast on for my first EZ Baby Surprise Jacket today - I say first, because everyone in blogland seems to knit this pattern repeatedly. My first yarn choice went the way of the petal bib - too thick and hence way too big. I settled on a thin sock yarn which is giving me a much better size.

I've worked through the decreasing section and have reached the bind offs on the increasing section. I can't see which parts of the knitting will form which parts of the garment yet, but I have faith. If anyone is thinking of knitting this, I highly recommend Dawn Adcock's row by row notes to supplement the original pattern.

I'm plugging away on MS3 clue 4, and am now knitting it in cars and in other situations where my concentration is less than 100%. I figured I would still make more progress even allowing for frogging rows where concentration lapses. Clue 6 or 7 has now been published, so I'm falling well behind the pace again.

The Lutea shell continues to knit up quickly. I am now knitting the front and back separately. When I tried on the first half, the decreases made it too revealing, so I decided this would be the back, and have tried to maintain more stitches on the front. Not sure if it will work or whether I will have to frog back to the armhole.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Innocents Village Fete

Yesterday we headed up to Regent's Park for the Innocents Village Fete. This year differed from the previous Fruitstocks; it was less of a music festival and more of a well, village fete. The weather always seems to be fantastic, and true to form, despite the most dismal summer we've seen for decades, the fete has coincided with a 2 day heatwave.

London is a pretty big village, and the place was packed.

Knitting wise, there was the usual campaign to knit woolly hats for Innocents, with a knitting tent run by Rowan.

Other entertainment we enjoyed included duck herding,

London Swing Dancing society demonstrations and lesson

the Yorkshire tea tent

and of course

My brother was particularly keen to see the ferret racing, but everywhere we asked, no-one could tell us where the ferrets were! Apparently they had been moved. Finally, a kind person from Innocents personally escorted us to the ferrets, where we arrived in time for the last races of the day!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Cast on, frogged, cast on again

Keen for a small and simple project, I cast on the petal bib from One Skein, using some Rowan All Seasons Cotton. I worked through the petal edges quite quickly and started the short rows, but eventually had to admit that the bib was adult sized not baby sized! Not being that messy an eater, I gave up and frogged.

I enjoyed working with the yarn, as it's soft and squooshy, so immediately looked for another pattern, and settled on a simple hat, modelled here by Shaun.

Reviewing July's knitting goals:

1) Finish spree bag - no progress

2) Finish the knitting of the adventure bag. I think the finishing will take longer, but I'd like to get the actual knitting done - very little progress

3) Finish Sahara - still hoping to complete by end of June - no, lost the mojo on this

4) Make the icords for large tote bag - no

5) 3 pattern repeats of Charlotte's Web shawl - yes I managed this before getting sucked into MS3

6) New summer top - yes, I did start this, although I didn't pick any of the 4 designs I was considering. The Lutea lace shell is work in progress.

For August, I'll roll forward goals 1, 3, 4 and add some new ones.

That is:

1) Finish spree bag

2) Finish Sahara

3) Make icords for tote bag

4) Finish Lutea lace shell

5) Make a BSJ

6) Clues 4 and 5 of MS3

7) Start Hipknits project shawl

Far too much as usual, but 1-6 are all UFOs or WIPs that need work.