Baa-ble hat

After making Mr Donk  I had some yarn left over. I’ve admired Donna Smith’s Baa-ble Hat pattern for some time, so stocked up on extra colours of Rowan felted tweed DK and set to work. 

I adjusted the pattern for the thinner yarn by casting on 120 stitches in the first place, thereby neatly avoiding the increase at the top of the ribbing. 

I’m obsessed with these colours. My mum wants one too, but I’ll have to find new colour combinations. I think I’ll have a flock of these hats soon enough. 

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Sockcess

To get me through the summer I’ve had a sort of project plan, or rather two: one for sewing and one for knitting. The sewing plan is so horribly behind schedule that I now need to abandon it, to make way for winter sewing and Christmas production. But even so, I’ve completed a couple of things on it that I’m really proud of and it’s helped to focus my mind and prioritise a bit. 

The knitting plan however, I have completed! Woohoo! On 30 August, one day early, I cast off and blocked my final piece. This was despite a major setback, namely, being distracted by other pretties… 

In Toronto in July I bought some gorgeous Koigu yarn at Ewe Knit with a voucher from my aunt. It was just too tempting to throw myself in, so I threw caution to the wind, sidestepped my carefully planned schedule, and cast on a pair of Thornfield Socks

I was initially worried that the yarn variegation and the cables wouldn’t get on very well, but I think these have turned out beautifully, particularly after blocking (with new sock blockers from the Wool Croft!). 

Probably everyone but me already knew about Rachel Coopey’s incredible sock patterns, but when I discovered her stall at Wonderwool this winter I was smitten. This is the first design of hers I’ve made, and I love them. 

So anyway, back to the project plan. The socks I completed on 30 August were these Arrow Socks by Makiho Negishi. 

I still don’t think my stranded knitting is perfect, and I wish I’d used the yellow as the top colour rather than the white when carrying floats, but all in all I’m pretty pleased with myself! Two Japanese patterns with no English help completed in one summer. Not bad. 

Two for joy

I first blogged about this poor single sock in February 2015. I’m pleased to finally announce that it has a friend, its life is complete, it can fulfil its purpose in life. Two socks! At last! And they both more or less go over my foot.

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Sadly I finished the second sock just in time for summer, so I haven’t had an opportunity to wear them both together yet. But come autumn, I predict I shall be living in these. They’re so warm! So thick! So dense!

The pattern is from Georgina Parks’s excellent book for Rowan, Sock Knitting Workshop. It was a great pattern for learning fairisle techniques – easy to remember but great to look at.

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The yarns I used for these are potentially awkward bedfellows – the purple-blue is scrumptious Rowan Fine Art sock wool. The pink stuff was dirt cheap – only £1 at Tiger – and is fluffy and rough. But I think the combination looks good at least.

I chose the colours based on a really vivid dream I had when I was about four years old, about a beautiful pink and purple fish I saw walking (in my dream) with my dad through Toronto’s Chinatown. Twenty-two years later, here I am knitting a sock in its memory.

I think the afterthought heel is a bit of a problem in this pattern, because the fairisle just doesn’t have enough stretch to take it. Hence my difficulties with getting these socks on (and off). I have already lined up my next pair of socks to knit, using this Japanese pattern. They have a gusset, so I’m hopeful that the heel shaping will be marginally better.

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Myth and legend and the tumble dryer

Narwhals are really the best (at least; the best in the sea. Sloths remain the kings of the earth.). So naturally I made some narwhal mittens from Ysolda’s Teague’s inspired design for my aunt for Christmas.

narwhal mittens

Disastrously, in my care to ensure the floats weren’t too tight (as happened in my still single fairisle sock), the first mitten turned out completely ginormous. I made the second one tighter, telling myself that I’d find a way of shrinking the first. I didn’t let myself think, hang on a minute – these are knitted out of super-wash wool and WILL NOT SHRINK. So the first mitten, on completion of the pair, was nearly and inch and a half longer than the second, and noticeably wider.

Step one of mitten sorcery was to pour a kettle-full of boiling water onto the offending mitten. I let it soak for about 10 minutes, then panicked because the water was beginning to turn pale purple, and pulled it out. At this point the mitten stretched out to become around the same size as a chihuahua. Panicking some more, I pressed out the water and left it on a towel on a radiator to dry. This phase lasted about 10 minutes, after which I thought, screw it! And threw the mitten into the dryer inside a pillowcase, on the hot cycle. For the first while I was checking every few minutes in case it suddenly got the idea and started to shrink. After about half an hour I just left it alone,  putting a new drying cycle on until it was dry.

Three hours later, the mitten emerged: a bit fluffier, a bit paler, a bit blowsier. But most importantly, the same length as its pair! Christmas present disaster averted.

narwhal mittens

narwhal mitten

But I think I still need to practice my stranded knitting before I try anything too ambitious.

Bundled up

After the intense crafting leading up to and over Christmas, making has had to take a back seat for the past month or so while I concentrate on work and study. But come April – term will be over, a new job will be underway; and I picture a paradise of endless craft time.

I also just went to Istanbul for my birthday with my mum (amazing! amazing! amazing!) and we checked out lots of textiles in the Bazaar and lots of wonderful Byzantine mosaics in the churches and museums. I am filled with wonderful quilt and embroidery ideas now – although I don’t think I’ll ever have the patience to embroider a whole suzani! Also there were millions of cats and it snowed and I was in heaven.

Suzani 1 Suzani 2Haghia Sophia mosaic detailIstanbul cats

So in the past month I’ve been doing portable and quick projects. I finished my first ever fair isle sock, using Georgina Parks’s Spots & Stripes pattern from her book Rowan Sock Knitting Workshop. I have to say that it’s a bit tight – I don’t think I got the tension of the floats quite right – but oh my goodness it is gorgeous. I used some Rowan Fine Art sock wool (the dark purple) and cheap sock yarn from Tiger (the pink/brown). I love the overall effect. When I was 4 years old I would have been completely transfixed (and even now at 25 I still am!). The very first dream I can remember was about an exotic fish in exactly these colours that was being sold in a pet shop in Toronto’s Chinatown.

fairisle sock fairisle sock floats

Not sure when I’ll have the appetite to start this sock’s mate. It might join my growing collection of single socks, especially given how tight it is. Although this would be unfortunate given how beautiful it is.

Next up is a Grainline Studio Linden sweatshirt which I made when I was ill a couple of weeks ago. I’ve made my own self-drafted sweatshirts before, and I think I actually might prefer them to the Linden. I don’t like raglan sleeves that much, and the fit on the Linden is a bit odd – a bit too avant-garde for my sweatshirt needs! It has surprisingly narrow sleeves, a wide body, and I think the ribbing for the cuffs and waist isn’t tight/small enough to lend the finished garment a good shape. In short, it’s a bit sack-like (…apart from the sleeves).

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However, the instructions were fantastic and yielded a great finish, the pattern was easy to follow, satisfying to make, and despite my reservations I love my Linden, especially with its Liberty print additions. The Liberty fabric is a design called Pinky, and it was made of drawings by children from a local primary school. I want to make so much more in this fabric! I’m thinking of maybe a Republique du Chiffon Maeva blouse, or another Emery dress…

Finally, I’ve started on an epic knitting challenge: a 60th birthday present for my mum. I’ve got until September to finish it, but given the rate I’m going I think I’ll need all the time I can get!

The pattern is Jared Flood’s Girasole. It is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

girasole

I’m using Malabrigo Sock in ochre to knit it – wonderful yarn. And it came fabulously packaged too, from LoveKnitting.com, which I’d never used before but seemed to be the only vendor with the colour I wanted. They posted me my three skeins of wool in a sparkly blue gauze bag.