Monday, December 31, 2007

Final FO of 2007...

Final FO of 2007! Two whole evenings of diligent seaming!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Anise jacket

After finishing the Christmas gifts, I had a craving to cast on a jumper or jacket for myself. This month's Simply Knitting provided the answer in the Rowan Anise jacket, originally published in the Newshapes booklet. The magazine claimed you could knit this in a weekend, it's very fashionable, and I had the perfect yarn marinating in the stash. I pulled out a bag of Rowan's Ribbon Twist and cast on last weekend. I've been knitting furiously over the holiday week, and have managed to complete the separate pieces.

I'm determined to join the pieces and not leave them languishing as I usually do. My mother's friend Jean kindly provided me with matching yarn to seam, as the Ribbon Twist is too bulky and loosely spun to use, so I have no excuse.

I'm trying hard to choose a colour for my next hipknits project. I'm torn between candy shop, tandem, choc cherries or bingo, although the first two are shading it. Candy shop might look good with biscuit, and tandem with navy or biscuit.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The reveal

As Christmas presents have been safely delivered and unwrapped, here are the finished gifts.

My sister's beret and scarf:

My mother's scarf:

My brother received an ipod for Christmas, which was clearly going to get scratched quickly. I felt obliged to whip up an ipod cosy for him using the leftovers from my sister's hat, conveniently also trying a new technique of knitting in the round on 2 straight needles. This was quite strange as it involved knitting inside out and slipping alternate stitches. I found I needed to check regularly that I had not accidentally missed a slipped stitch and knitted the two sides together.

We decided a felted cosy would protect better, so I gave the finished item a five minute hand felting under the tap last night. To my shock, the wool felted so quickly and completely that I could barely get the cosy on the ipod! Fortunately, my brother thought that the tighter the fit the less likely the ipod was to fall out, so it's all good!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Countdown - 5 days to go

Five days to go, and the Christmas knitting is still going. My stock take:

1) Stripy throw - finished, although there are still a few ends to darn in

2) MD garter scarf - finished

3) matching beret - increase section done, just starting decreases

4) montego bay scarf - knitting finished, fringe needed

5) crocheted stripy scarf - rashly promised to be made with leftovers from the throw, but not critical for Christmas

My sister is the one who is most concerned about her woolly gifts, so the beret is my knitting priority.

My blog was disabled this week because blogger identified it as a spam blog. Now I make no literary claims, but calling it spam is a bit harsh. I responded to the email they sent, and they did unblock it in two days, but still a bit irritating.

For those who liked the Christmas stocking, I got in touch with Debbie Abrahams, the designer. She confirmed that she is still planning to sell the kit on her website, but is very busy right now, so not sure when she will be able to do it. Just to clarify, this is not a free design, but Debbie is planning to sell the kit.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Gift knitting

I've been seriously working on my Christmas gift knitting. The multidirectional scarf is done, and I'm about 2/3 of the way through my mother's sea silk fishnet scarf. I had a false start with this, as I tried to choose a needle size based on a fairly firm fabric in the swatch, which meant that I went from the pattern 5mm to 3.5mm. After about six inches, I realised that I wouldn't have anything like enough yarn. I rummaged through Ravelry, and no-one seemed to have changed the needle size to less than 4.5mm, so I tried again with that. It looked loose and ragged to start with, but was easier on the hands, and soon started to take shape. With some length on the needles it looks a lot better, and starts to drape and twist.

Another black and white shot to avoid disclosing too much:

I've started the plaited fringe on the cast on edge. Other people have commented that the fringe takes ages (as well as loads of yarn), so I've pulled out the yarn from the centre of the ball and starting cutting fringe. I got this great fringe maker in the US for a few dollars, and it makes measuring and cutting the yarn easier and more accurate.

However the inevitable has happened, and the silk is in a horrendous tangle. I spent THREE HOURS untangling it yesterday, and there's still a mess to sort through now. Just what I don't need with limited knitting hours before Christmas!

Monday, December 03, 2007

A Christmas stocking

I attended a Rowan workshop last week, the latest in a series. I haven't blogged about these, but will try to do a retrospective over the holidays. The subject for this one was a mini Christmas stocking, and the USP was that it would include lots of techniques, including fair isle, intarsia, beading and of course making a sock.

The tutor was Debbie Abrahams, who is a very energetic teacher. She has taught this class for two years, and is planning to put the kit of the project up on her website (not there yet).

Although the finished object is a sock, it is knitted flat, then sewn up at the end. As it's not designed for wearing, it's not really a problem to have a seam.

The stocking starts with some ribbing, followed by fairisle snowflakes. My problems started here. I managed to keep the floats nice and loose, but was very slow knitting this section. I was the only continental knitter there, and struggled to get a suitable hold. I tried to knit with two hands, but found having the dominant yarn in my right hand difficult to knit quickly and evenly. If I switched yarns, I couldn't easily weave the yarns. I think I need to do some internet reasearch to work out how to do this.

The next section was intarsia, which I had never tried. This was an ordeal of bobbins and ends, but everyone seemed to be in the same boat. Again, I couldn't really work out a standard way to hold the needles but just consciously twisted the yarns together at the edges. I'd recommend darning in and tidying ends as you go, and not making them too long. I'm fairly happy with the back of mine.

After that, it got easier. Beading is easy and fast, and I had done this at a previous workshop. The stripes and heel turn were easy, although it seemed a bit odd to do it in two sections.

I Swiss darned the tree trunks and decorations before I drew up the toe, just so I was working on a flat surface. It was tricky to secure all the ends without them showing through, but is worth the faff.

The class was six hours long, and I had to work on it at home to finish it, but I estimate that it took me no more than ten hours to complete. I think it's really cute, and would make another. I certainly wouldn't have tackled the pattern unaided, and that's the real value of the class.

Stripy throw

The stripy crochet throw is finished! I enjoyed this project, although it did seem to last forever. The yarn is a delight to work with, and the pattern was easy once I got the hang of the increases and decreases. I managed to straighten up the first wonky corner a bit with careful working of the edging. It's now going to be wrapped up until Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas knitting, I've made a good start in the last week. I've been travelling again, and used the time to start my sister's scarf. A week later, and it's nearly finished. The yarn estimate is really tight though, and I'm going to break into an extra ball. As she reads this blog occasionally, I will just say that it is multidirectional garter stitch, and show a greyed out swatch for now.