Joy of completion

I have nearly finished a 4-ply jumper I started back in April. The lightweight garment will be very, very much appreciated when I’m back in California.

And I am so excited to show off the buttons. In the fabric shop, I had an absolute “Ah ha!” moment. I simply couldn’t resist.

Just waiting for it to finish blocking!

What I Knit in 2011

Leah from goodenoughknits has posted an entry with her 2011 knitting round-up, and I felt inspired to do the same!


I think I had a very productive year. There is even an additional jumper that is sadly photoless, because I can’t get a halfway decent shot of it. True, my fair isle sweater was mostly knit in 2010 but put together in 2011; I justify adding it because I have a sweater that is half a sleeve from completion, that will be added to my 2012 total!

A few knitting goals for 2012:

1. Colors! I am in awe of any project that incorporates more than two colors. My color sense is seriously lacking, but I think it’s time to challenge myself and try something more complicated.
2. Make an Aran jumper. I have a few different queued and often “favorite” them on Ravelry, but have yet to make one of my own. One peek at Alice Starmore’s Aran Knitting in the bookshop the other day has rekindled my interest in the topic. Her patterns are lovely, but I really enjoyed her detailed and illustrated tutorial on creating different types of cables. She reaches a depth on the topic that is really rare in knitting books. I hope to pick it up at some point.
3. Knit a Jared Flood pattern. There are many I want to make, and I’m curious as to how his patterns are written.
4. Knit a pattern from Rowan 42, which I bought 2 years ago and still re-read for pleasure, but have yet to knit from!
5. My wardrobe is craving a few more pairs of hand-knitted socks.

Happy New (Knitting) Year, everyone!

Twist Collective – Winter 2011

Greetings.

I have been hibernating for quite a long while. University always manages to invade every moment of my life, not just in the hours spent revising, but more importantly in the hours spent thinking I should be revising. I find turning my course “off” to be quite a challenge at times. Although I reckon I deserve to spend my evenings relaxing and knitting after a full day cramming a lot of information in my head, somehow I can’t quite avoid the guilt associated with taking pictures of my knitting and creating a blog post about it. It takes a lot of time that I don’t think I really have.

But here I am. I’m outside the flat and the city, trying to accomplish something at the study room at my University. I just finished a spreadsheet on a terribly dull topic. I need to think about a bit of knitting to elevate my spirits!

The Winter 2011 edition of the Twist Collective was released a few weeks back. Typically, in the annual cycle of knitting publications, late Autumn and Winter editions are my favorite. Woolly knits and cold weather are obvious bedfellows, and designers seem to really dig into heavy cables and double-thickness fairisle patterns with vigor. As an added bonus, winter usually corresponds with Holiday gift-giving, and thus NEW YARN. I have been very good about burning through some of my stash during the past few months, but I wouldn’t say no to something to liven up the collection.

Here are a few of my favorite patterns from the collection:

Zinnia

There are so many options when looking for fairisle mittens, but I think the patterns for these really “pops.” A quirky Selbu/Aztec hybrid.

Eira

Beautifully feminine shape with enough details in the right places. Perhaps the cashmere is what has really caught my eye, but this looks like something that could be easily thrown on throughout the cold months, especially with longer sleeves. If I lived a life that involved holiday events, this would have been nice to make for the Christmas party season.

Caprio

In a DK-weight yarn, this would be heavy enough for winter, and pleasingly open. The lace pattern is sort of art deco, as well.

Bellevue

My initial attraction to this cozy-looking pullover was the neckline. I actually own something very similar, complete with two over-size buttons at the bottom half of the neck, and I wear it most evenings when I’m in my pajamas. I pictured my own version of Bellevue without the textured body; however, the more I look at this, the more I think the texture is actually really flattering. If I chose a busier heather-style yarn, I would consider stocking stitch instead. Otherwise, knit as is 🙂

Also, kudos to Twist on the horse-filled photo shoot! My 12-year-old self is all in a tizzy!

WIP: Veyla

The days are shorter, and thus I can only take pictures of my knitting in the dark that waits to greet me when I come home each evening. Alas.

Still, even with terrible photo quality, it doesn’t take much effort to appreciate how much fun lacy, white, fingerless gloves are to make:

The greatest advantage of knitting with white yarn, is that my button choices feel wide open. I’m fantasizing about an intense purple, but I’m also excited to think I might just change my mind! Perhaps a button in each color?

The downside to knitting in white yarn is, of course, that these fingerless gloves are doomed to a life of discoloration and stains. Totally worth it, if I can feel like a lady from a Regency-era novel.

FO: Warm Feet, Happy Knitter

The strange weather of this Edinburgh autumn means it’s still a bit too warm for woolen socks on most nights, but they are there when I’m ready! And they are both the same length. Whew.

My US Size 10 feet required that I jump up a needle size, but otherwise they were knit straight from the pattern. These socks had a test run at my friend’s chilly Roslin cottage last weekend, and they were cozy and comfy, and I loved that they didn’t twist on my feet while I slept. Good way to stash bust some Aran weight yarn!

Project: Warm Feet, Happy Knitter
Pattern: Toe-Up Cabled Bed Socks by Holly Marie Knits
Yarn: Cascade 220

A tale of two socks

I can be so silly sometimes.

There is an elephant in the room now, but I am happy to introduce it. See the socks above? They are obviously different lengths. In fact, so obvious is this difference in lengths, you would probably be very surprised to learn that I spent a great deal of effort to ensure they would be the very same length. The barista in Starbucks must have thought he’d given caffeine to a crazy woman, as I anxiously compared lengths of socks in every way: laid flat on the table, hung upside down by the toe, stretched longways and wideways, placed side to side and on then top of each other… but not once did I try them on at the same time!

Copyright Sachin Ghodke: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/sachyn

While in Starbucks, I was surprised to find that I had somehow knit too many rows of the cable pattern. In my disbelief I compared the sock lengths again. And again. And after frogging back a little bit, I compared again. And then again. Everything looked good!

The next day, I confidently finished off the 2×2 rib cuff, bound off, and proudly placed my socks side by side, finished. That’s when the elephant lumbered into the room.

Back on the needles

Color capture

I have been working on a jumper for quite some time now, and every attempt to photograph it has ended in failure. The wonderful sleekness of the Malabrigo, which makes the yarn fantastic to knit with, and to wear, has tortured my poor camera. Instead of a rich purple, my jumper appears a dingy, melancholic dark blue.

But, after a lot of fiddling, bitching, tweaking, and tsk-ing, I think I have my purple. The jumper still eludes me, but the wool has been caught!

Purple malabrigo

FO: Bunting!

Yesterday, I held a little birthday party for myself. I wanted something to decorate, and what’s more festive than bunting?

I’ve been working hard to stash-bust lately, with several little projects selected to use up the ends of wool that I love too much to throw away. Two of the colors I used came from wool I had received free in a swap, another color came from a ball of wool I bought for 50p in the PDSA shop, and the final color was found in a bargain bin at John Lewis. Although I want to reduce the amount of yarn I own, I was quite pleased with myself for being able to put together a nice strand of bunting, with colors that I really like, for very little money. A stash really is a handy thing.

Project: Bunting!
Pattern: Garter Stitch Bunting by Alice Best

Twist Collective – Fall 2011

I am terribly late to the fall edition of the Twist Collective, but I thought I’d highlight a few interesting articles and talk about my favorite patterns. The Twist Collective is one of my favorite pattern resources (I love my Mary Jane sweater – The Third Year) and fall is my favorite season, so what a lucky duck am I!

Admittedly, I normally skip the articles in pattern magazines, but the Fall 2011 issue features a really handy tutorial on seams: In Praise of Seams. Although I love patterns that minimize the use of seams (and try at all costs to avoid setting in sleeves) I try not to restrict my choices based on the most comfortable construction. Essentially, if I want to make it, I will! However, I’ve never mastered sewing together knitted pieces, and the PDF looks like a good first resource next time I have to graft or 3-needle bind-off.

Also very interesting is Carol Feller’s overview of the Irish wool industry, “The Last Mills Standing.” A lot of points can be extrapolated to the Scottish wool industry, especially regarding climate and fiber production:

The outfitting of Irish houses in wool sweaters gives some insight into the country’s damp climate—another factor that impacts the wool industry. Thanks to the Gulf Stream, temperatures in Ireland are mild, but its northern location leaves it lacking in sunshine. This contributes to the famously fair skin of not only the Irish people, but also Irish sheep. Pale sheep, it turns out, grow darker fleece. The wool takes on a yellowish tinge, which is why traditional Irish yarn is much closer to cream (know as báinín in Gaelic) than white. Combine the damp climate with breeding methods that are little concerned with the fineness of the animal’s coat and you get a thicker, coarser fleece. Irish sheep are a hardy lot!

I love Scottish wool, and try to knit with it as much as possible, but my experience with Irish yarn – in the form of Donegal Tweed – has been equally pleasing. I’m looking forward to investigating the mills mentioned. (By the way, the author’s newest book, Contemporary Irish Knits, has some beautiful patterns as well!)

As for the patterns, I am in love with the coats and cardigans.

Dylan

I want very, very much to knit a full jacket. This mammoth undertaking raises two concerns (1) I will likely become bored before finishing, and thus only ever have a partial jacket and (2) In the very wet climate of Scotland, a full wool jacket, while warm in theory would not be practical. The first issue is between me and my own sense of motivation, but the second concern does actually put me off the idea of knitting a full jacket. Should I change my mind, this pattern is really smart, and would suit a more tweed-y yarn, like my beloved New Lanark, very well. Hmm.

Kent

The back reminds me of Deco but the military-style front is what I love most. Also what a fantastic neck line! The torso looks shaped and the sleeves comfortable. I really love this.

Petronia

Oh dear, I’m afraid that this would be a very expensive cardigan for me to undertake. Firstly, the only yarn suitable for something so lacy and clean would be very luxurious and fine. Secondly, to wear this, I would have to invest in some pearls and redecorate the flat with Laura Ashley’s new fall line. Still, I might someday come into a windfall.

Roseling

The view of the Gold Gate Bridge in the background may make me a bit homesick and nostalgic, but the jacket is cheerful and bright. The white seams at the shoulder and along the sides are really clever, as well. This would easily become a much-used part of my wardrobe.

Crane Creek

Like the pattern above, this one has an ‘all-weather’ appeal to it. Oh, and I’m a sucker for pockets. I’ve actually queued this one, and I can’t wait to see other finished versions of it!

WIP: Bed socks

Edinburgh had a little cold snap recently. A thick layer of unrelenting gray cloud overstayed its welcome last week, and while I did celebrate the lack of rain during that period, my icy cold feet in the evenings meant I shivered as I tried to fall asleep each night. I always wear socks to bed (“cold feet, warm heart” I say) but I thought it was time to bring wool into the equation.

I wanted something in aran weight (I had some brown Cascade 220 kicking about), and with cables for extra warmth. I typed in those parameters, and came up with… a pattern called “toe-up cable bed socks“! I’ve never heard of actual “bed socks” before, but I think the idea of socks without heels (so they can twist at night, without being uncomfortable) sounds great. Also, This is also the first time I’ve committed to knitting cables without a cable needle. Perhaps because of the size of cables I’ve knit, or the slipperiness of the yarn I used, I have always felt that using a cable needle was actually easier than not. However, the smallness of the C4Fs combined with the Cascade 220 means this is the perfect pattern for leaving out that cable needle.

 I’m halfway up one sock; hopefully by the start of next week, I can sleep cozily!