Another One For The Knitting Win

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Fresh from the victory of the wavy mittens, I have also managed to finish the last sleeve of my big red jumper. This was a bit of a slog (48 stitches to 125 rows in rib) but I decided to make it my only choice for TV knitting and I have powered through this week. I am now feeling particularly smug.

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I am particularly happy with the way the garter/picot trim has worked (indeed I liked it so much that I picked up the stitches at the bottom and did a matching base trim).

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I also like the extra wide neck opening, which looks really good with a lacy vest top on underneath.

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All in all a good win! In fact I liked it so much that I broke my “no yarn buying between Ally Pally and Christmas” rule (well, more of a guideline) to get another big ball of the yarn. My logic is that the shop I bought it from is basically a curtain/sheet shop with extras, so it might not renew its contract post-Christmas (everything seems to be constantly on sale). Plus it is a good jumper yarn! A mix of acrylic and wool (so easy to care for and nice and soft). This time I bought it in a tweedy green.

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I am tempted to have a leafy lace panel up the front and down the back to break up the rib (possibly the one I didn’t use on my green cardigan) . I may even go crazy and break into a bit of a Gansey cable action.

But first, I must keep on cracking the WIP.

LouBug

Nothing New Under The Knitting Sun

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So, this was to be my big blog about how I had finished my wonderful and fabulous, and of course totally unique, waving mittens. As you know, part of the knitting joy is that I have something that no-one else on the planet has (usually because I have worked it all out myself) and I have thus shown my genius and mighty skills.

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Sadly, I am an accidental ideas thief! While I was finishing up my epic magazine sort out (started in the summer to finally file the patterns from my hoarders worthy Magazine Mountain) I came across a very familiar looking mitten in my “gloves and mittens” file.

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The worst of it is, I think the designer (many years ago) used to go to my knit night and I do have a vague memory of her test knitting the colour-work part. This could (of course) be false memory syndrome, but I cannot deny that it is a foxy little pattern and we must have referenced the same pattern directory (although to be fair it is a classic colourwork pattern). I have used two colours (opposed to the three she has used) but I cannot deny that they are the same pattern. Pity I didn’t find it before I sweated and cursed my way through designing these!

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With baited breath I “fulled” them in a little bath. I was a little worried as I noticed that the dark blue transferred dye onto my fingers when I wound up the left overs, so I will admit that I did put a “colour catcher” sheet in the sink. The water did go a bit blue, but thank fully not enough to affect the light blue parts (and barely any on the sheet).

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Here is a close up of my mighty fine thumb gusset. Please ignore the subtle tension switch from main body to thumb, it should fade over time and I think it was just where I pulled a bit tight on the body and relaxed when I switched to the round of the thumb. There is also a bit of a learning curve to be climbed on how to control which colour pushes itself forward (not that noticeable in the photo, but there are patches where the light is pushed slightly forward and patches where the dark is). I shall hit the books on that, but I suspect it is down to which yarn was being held in which finger.

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Next time, I think I will check the folders first…

LouBug

Fashion And Textile Museum

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A couple of things struck me about this knitting exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London – how truly awful some knitted items really are and I’m glad the world invented Lycra®!

The displayed items at this “Knitwear, Chanel to Westwood” extravaganza were taken largely from the private collection of Mark and Cleo Butterfield and knitted items were grouped by era. Painstakingly knitted under garments from the early decades of the 20th century led onto the grey and depressing jumpers of the second world war era. It carried on through to the crazy giant mohair jumpers of the 1980s and the weird and wonderful creations of the 1990s.

Looking at the knitted pre- and post-war swimwear and imagining the inevitable wet wool droop, I had visions of my poor dad suffering the double indignity of having to wear a saggy wool hand-me-down girls’ swimsuit. Childhood seaside trips out in a girls’ woolly swimsuit – the late 1940s were clearly tough times. Never mind rationing, bombed houses and no TV – think of the outfits!

In fact, it was only the 1950s that seemed to produce anything that you wouldn’t gladly toss onto a bonfire. Beautiful ‘cocktail sweaters’ with big skirts looked exactly as you’d imagine – fitted, glamorous, sparkly and like you should only wear one if you’re poised drinking a cocktail, perhaps with James Bond. You can keep your giant jumpers from the 1980s, your scratchy re-hashed dreary jumpers from the 1940s and definitely the weird jumpers knitted from plastic bags from the 1990s. We want glamour! Cocktails!

Moving seamlessly on from ‘glamour’ to ‘giant, knitted, pink pom pom woolly hat’ – here is a sneak preview of my latest knit. Well I actually have two latest knits, both unfinished of course. I can firstly proudly present … Santa’s leg! Ta dah!

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Taken from a Let’s Knit pattern:

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Pathetic effort I know, but I will soldier on. It does, after all, have quite an obvious Christmassy deadline…

Next up, again pathetic effort, is my latest woolly hat. Bright colours of course, dark can be sooo draining on the face daaarhling!

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I’m attempting a pattern I received for free from the Ally Pally knitting show, that is basically knitting 2 rows, purling 2 rows (opposite shades):

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Fingers crossed I complete these two items before summer…

KnitWit

Waving On – The Knitted Mitten

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To increase the chances of finishing things I have been limiting my scope to two main projects, wavy mittens and big red jumper. This has actually helped to motivate me to knit on as both have large areas of knitting and by focussing on just them I have started to get some real traction on them.

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So first up on the progress report is my waving mittens. Made with incredibly soft alpaca yarn (foolishly with 4 ply) they are shaping up rather well. One box-set marathon later and I have now finished mitten number 1.

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Do not be fooled by their good looks, these suckers fought every inch. 60 stitches (increased to 90 on the thumb gusset) by a mind-boggling 90 rows and all in a six stitch pattern repeat. I have never been so grateful that I have the hand size of a child (seriously, I teach year 7 students with the same sized hands as me).

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Thankfully I have got better at carrying the yarn (which helped stop my nesting ball of yarn from tangling), so I did get quicker as I went on. I now have a finished one to admire and pet, a good motivator for finishing up. Many people talk of second sock/mitten syndrome (when you lose all will to knit the second in a pair), but I have always found the reverse to be true. The first one is always an epic struggle of motivation, errors, re-dos and problems, but (provided I took good quality notes) the second one is always quicker and easier to knit. I even find this when I am knitting old favourite patterns (like my candy cane ribbed socks) when all problems have long been dealt with. Perhaps it is the simple magic of turning string into clothes that still gets me every time; perhaps, I get so caught up in knitting that I “forget” that the knitting leads to products.

Either way, these are going to be some mighty toasty mittens!

LouBug

Knitting For Fun

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So many things it seems, in life, are a means to an end. Part of a bigger picture. An arduous and tedious path to get to where you want to go – the glorious finishing line! Most goals in life are worth this battle – the destination, rather than the journey. Knitting cannot be one of these things! This pursuit has to be exempt from this way, otherwise I shall be throwing my needles from the nearest roof top! If the journey and the destination are not equally as fun, then I’m just going to toss whatever knitted horror I have landed myself with and not glance back. This knitting lark is not for the greater good, or ‘character improving’. It is sacred and shall be preserved as purely fun, fun, fun! There are no rewards, promotions, exams or marks! With this revelation in mind, and having abandoned the lengthways scarf soul-sucker, I have been busy knitting things that have brought me great joy (and a few compliments thanks to the lumio green scarf).

First up is the Christmas pudding. Literally a pointless knitted item, but look at its great beauty!

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It can join all of my other pointless knits, which shall eventually make a Christmas pointless knits break-away unit.

Next up is the compliment gathering lumio green scarf, twin to the bright orange lumio scarf. In fact, they are identical except the colour. This is less pointless, as it has been keeping my neck rather warm, but was a joy to knit (which is a direct example of what I was withering on about above!).

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The knitted poppy (as shown in the first photo) was also great fun to knit, so ticks both the fun and reasonably pointless boxes. It will only be worn on my coat for a few days to commemorate allied losses in the First World War, then will be stored and probably forgotten about.

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Good luck with all of your random, but fun, projects. Be brutal and ditch all of the soul-sapping, boring or hard-slog WIPs. Do it!

KnitWit

Knitting All The Things…

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Autumn is in full blaze and it won’t be long before winter starts thinking dark thoughts. And so, I now find myself in need of all the things I started to knit in the hazy summer days. Now, you might have gathered that I have a bit of a strained relationship with my WIPs, some of whom I have barely spoken to or looked at in months. Others get doted on for months and then suddenly forgotten and others never leave my side until they are finished (I think they make the other WIPs jealous). There are even the strange few that I adore so much that I immediately cast on a twin (which invariably then gets forgotten).

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Ally Pally is a good motivator, as I often see things that inspire me and I want to make (and then invariably realise that I actually saw them – and started them – last year). This then leads to an all points search for it and I start going through the WIP box and bag check everything. For me this is usually a bit of a reality check (up there with a full stash search, pack and sort) as I find things that are quite cool and I want to work on them.

A lot of my projects manage to stay near the top of my project box (and so stand a chance of ever being finished) but far too many seem to have slipped through the gaps in my attention. And I am resolved to power through them and try to add at least an inch to every project. It may not sound much, but it just might be enough to start a completion frenzy for that lonely little project.

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So, to help shame me into finishing things, here is the list of bagged and started projects for the world to see:

*deep breath*

1. Four pairs of socks.

2. Two shawls.

3. Two cardis.

4. One jumper.

5. Two blankets.

6. One pair of mittens.

7. One brioche scarf.

8. One mitre square pillow.

9. One sock weight scarf (scrap down).

10. Two TMNT hats.

11. Two hello kitty hats.

12. Three pairs of Christmas socks, a dinosaur, a penguin, an angel, a small teddy, a reindeer and snowflakes for an already crocheted wreath.

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Some of these are Christmas knits (and on the schedule for half-term), some are small silly things (I do love the Let’s Knit kits) and some are serious projects that will need a hefty chunk of time.

Time to start knitting!

LouBug

Baby, It’s Cold Outside…The WIP Box

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I really want to start playing with my new Ally Pally kits (teddy, Coast blanket and Latvian mittens). Two things are stopping me at the moment – First the need to wind the yarn into yarn cakes (I love my ball winder); second the sheer number of WIPs. As mentioned, things have got a little out of control in my WIP box and I am committed to having a bit of a knit down to try to finish things, while it is still cold enough to wear them! I am resolved; I will re-boot some stalled projects, inject new life into the forgotten and just plain peck at the hulking heap of WIPs.

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In my last post I publicly admitted all of the projects in my WIP box, and now I would like to show you my first finished. This isn’t too much of a surprise, as I love the fluromania colours, pattern and (let’s face it) socks. Also (to be fair) they were pretty much done! But here I am, one less to go and not auto-casting on another (like a chain smoker in a 1960s action movie). I am also edging closer to finishing the red jumper (one sleeve done, next one picked up and 120 rows to go) and the green cardi (no new progress, but only the trim to go).

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But, let’s face it, these projects were already surviving near the top of the to-do pile and don’t really count amongst the legion of stalled projects. To help edge the poor forgotten knits along, I am also committed to knitting at least an inch on every stalled project (which might help re-boot my interest). First up in the re-boot is my wave pair of colour-work mittens (hey, I want to knit mittens, let’s go with that vibe). I even wound the yarn in the same way they did in the book (inside each other) as this apparently stops it tangling (after some snarl ups, I am not convinced and I plan to rewind them into separate balls when the first mitten is finished).

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These came bouncing, puppy like, into the WIP box earlier this year after finishing my lovely green and purple pair. These won my heart as I successfully did a complex stranded pattern without messing it up or leaving it to quietly decompose in the corner. Flush with success, I decided to make another pair, but when I bought the yarn I made a rookie error and chose the colours without considering the weight. The lovely purple pair was DK (4mm DPN), the wave pair is 4ply (2mm DPN). Which is great for the pattern, as it allows more wave repeats, but is twice the number of stitches per row and easily twice the number of rows.

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Snails have moved faster than this knits up. Not since the glacial slowness of the double knitting star scarf (shortened to a snood) has progress felt this painful. It does look epic, it will be super snug, and it even has a foxy little thumb gusset, but I need to seriously re-set my knit-expectations. It will also be good practice, as the lovely Latvian mittens will be on a wincingly small 1.5 DPN (so small, I will have to buy the needles, as even my mammoth hoard doesn’t have them) and will be equally slow progressing.

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There is also the small matter of the other three socks. The colour-work sheep socks I think might be better after the mittens, the CookieA heart socks are a tinsey bit involved, which leaves me the long forgotten Ruby Slipper socks. These will look excellent (basically they will look like I am wearing ruby slippers with white ankle socks on) but they have been re-started so many times, due to changes in ankle pattern, approach and frustration. The new plan is to now follow the EZ moccasin sock pattern and hopefully they will actually happen. If not, they will be formally frogged and the yarn re-purposed to make tiny Christmas decorations.
As long as the siren call of the sock stash can be quelled….

LouBug

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