That Knitting Time Again

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Finish up February is kicking into the final gear, with a good crop of results for this year. For those not familiar with this, it is the annual WIP trawl that aims to finish or frog projects that have lurked in the project box for too long. Life is too short to waste good yarn on bad projects!

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I personally like it as it forces me to re-look at projects that have hibernated for so long that I have forgotten they exist. They are often things with an evening’s worth of knitting done but then forgotten. Projects like this already blogged-about owl, who languished for some time before rising from the depths of the project box, like a blue sparkly phoenix.

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Projects can end at the bottom of the box for a range of reasons; sometimes they have mis-behaved (for example the gauge has been madly off prediction), sometimes they have proven too difficult for my brain at the time (lace, I am talking to you right now) and sometimes for no reason other than a newer, shinier project caught my eye. This scarf is a prime example (Lumio light reflecting yarn for the curious), less than an evening was all that was needed to finish it.

This year there hasn’t been much project pruning (as the up side to regular sort outs is that it does make you more ruthless about keeping casting on doomed projects). This was a definite high point as I made the happy realisation that everything in the project box was wanted and viable, just slipped out of sight.

Now, what else can I finish?

LouBug

Finally…A Finished Item!

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Finally…my first finished knitted item this year, and it’s only the middle of February! Who thought I could knit any slower?! Here it is though, my master-piece union of alpaca and knitting needles. Those of you with excellent vision will no doubt have noticed the outstanding ‘ends’ of the scarf. A totally different pattern done on different sized needles. Oh yes, you are right to be amazed!

Details of the Rowan pattern and yarn can be found in my previous blog post Knitted Alpaca.

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It does need some sort of blocking, but it has an outing tomorrow (I’m going too…), so I will have to make do with wearing it and stretching it as I walk. This does result in slightly less blood to my brain than I would ordinarily like, what with the pulling constricting the bit round my neck in an unpleasant way, but surely everyone knows one must suffer for fashion…

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Apologies for the dreadful photos – the colours, both different in each photo and of varying quality, look like I actually knitted this scarf some time in the 1970s and just dug it out from under  pair of old flares just to fake some knitting activity on the blog. I can assure you that this is not the case – perhaps next time I shall photograph my wares next to a copy of today’s newspaper.

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My next attempt at knitting glory is the same scarf, but this time in Riot DK. So far it’s shaping up nicely so hold on to your hats, it’ll be ready for posting in about 2030…

KnitWit

Going to need a bigger blocking matt….

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Finish-up February has started with a bang! Last week I finished my mittens and socks, today I have finished another blanket. Well, I say blanket but is more of a shawl with blanketity ideas (Slanket? Skanket? Blawl?). When I think of a shawl I think of a whisper of silk with delicate frost patterns drawn on it. This is made from Aran and more rugged than a rugby team’s away kit.

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The yarn is more of the James Brett’s Marble Chunky (I used the orange colour-way earlier last year on the “Game of Throws” for Mr LouBug) and I do like the purple/blue colour stripes it creates. The pattern is loosely based on Elizabeth Zimmerman’s “Pie R squared” shawl, but I have made changes to mark the differences between 4ply and chunky. The basic pattern is a garter stitch shawl with placed increase rows (rather than increasing every odd row).

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I will freely admit that it is an odd shape, but the shape is all about function. Basically, the room I do most of my marking in is dang cold in the winter and I frequently find myself wrapped in a blanket marking (all together now “ahh…..” *as the violin music plays*). But, the annoying thing is as soon as I need to move I lose my little pocket of warmth (*more violin music*). However, this clever little shawl is designed to wrap around the body without bunching up, thus allowing me to wear it rather than inhabit it. No annoying point to sit on (and pull the shawl off at the slightest movement), no mass of fabric knotting in my back and the ability to double wrap by front (rather than only keep my belly warm). Gotta love EZ, that lady knew how to knit!

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Wrapped around the chair it does look a bit more normal. Mr LouBug does deserve special man points for not making snarky comments about Pride and Prejudice or Lark Rise to Candleford when first confronted with the unblocked and definitely cape-tastic view. He has since admitted to a ton of relief when I told him that it was a snuggle blanket not a thing to be worn in public.

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But I think I might need to buy a bigger mat! This one was a fantastic bargain, especially considering “proper” mats are about £20 odd, and was bought for £5 in Tescos end of season sale. Each square can be jig sawed together (which is great for the long scarves) but I will keep an eye out and see if I can get another set to connect together for these bigger projects.

LouBug

Let’s Knit Olive Owl Knit

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Well, this was going to be a blog about starting the owl kit, but I seem to have finished it already! I am pleased that I managed to find some excellently co-ordinated needles (also Let’s Knit for the curious) and I have decided to call her Hooty.

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The main change I made (be honest, you knew I would change something) was to crochet the eyes as I wanted the feather effect of lines fanning out from the centre. I also decided to use a piece of felt for the beak, as I know that my beak-based embroidery skills can produce some “varied” results. I am a little unsure about the buttons (a bit tiny psycho killer) but overall I am pleased.

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Hooty wants to know which kit I will do next, and I am torn between doing the Angel (before Christmas completely fades from memory) and Kevin the penguin. Any thoughts KnitWit?

LouBug

Just In (Knitting) Time

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Snow seems ever closer (ok granted, the Highlands of Scotland isn’t that close), and I am pleased that the super speedy mittens have leaped across the finish line.

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Started last week and on my hands today, I could get used to this crazy knit speed! They should be suitably wind-proof (as they are so thick they feel like iron) but the merino should soften over time.

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I like the contrast palm chart (definitely something to do again) but I need to tweak the thumb, as nature has put thumbs on the side and not growing out of our palms! I either need to include more stitches (possibly decreasing up the thumb) or place the thumb half on the front and half on the back. Instinct tells me that afterthought thumbs have been around a while (so it is unlikely that they are all a bit odd), so it might be time to hit the books and research the technique some more.

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This seems to be the week for finishing things, so say hello to my “Weasley” socks (carefully modelled by Cat). These were started just before the mad Christmas finish up with the orange chosen in self defence against the dark winter.

Perhaps I should use the left over yarn to knit Cat some matching booties….

LouBug

 

Knitted Alpaca

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Knitting in 2015 is back on track, after what seemed like a lengthy break. I’ve started a chunky scarf to fulfil the dual need of keeping me warm in the frozen February tundra, and being a relatively quick knit to sustain interest. It’s made from 200g of Rowan tumble 90% alpaca and 10% cotton and has the easy k1, *yfwd, slip purlwise, k2, lift slipped stitch over last 2 stitches* k1 pattern once the initial cuff bit had been done. The ‘Sandra‘ pattern (by Gemma Atkinson) came free with the yarn (bought at the Knitting & Stitching show at Alexandra Palace). With just a 20 cast on the pattern is easy to remeber.

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As ever, LouBug furnished me with some knitting delights for Christmas. Plenty of chunky to keep me busy on my 10mm needles and a much coveted Faux Taxidermy Knits book by Louise Walker.

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It’s been slooow progress so far this year, but hopefully I can churn out some chunky knit accessories before spring arrives. LouBug. as ever, has been a busy production line, churning out acres of knits (where does she find the time? We just don’t know…in lieu of housework perhaps…meoww!). Can’t complain though, as not only has a LouBug product kept my feet warm (see pink print socks), but also the LouBug knit factory produced amazing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle hats to keep my sons’ heads warm as well. I shall let her dusty skirting boards off the hook just this once…

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KnitWit

 

Knitted Mittens – Latvian Mittens

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The kits have been started, but I am currently distracted by colour-work mittens. The cold weather is making mittens less of a fashion statement and more of a necessity and I am loving the wonderful thickness that colour-work gives.

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Ok, so folk may have made this discovery a few thousand years ago, but I never really thought about it before and I am very impressed by the happy mix of pretty with functional. The ones I made earlier this year I made from a technical challenge angle (and the wave mittens were definitely a challenge to my attention span), but now I am all about the warmth.

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At Ally Pally I treated myself to a Latvian mitten kit (to be given to Santa until Christmas). Ok, so the instructions are Google translate at its very “best”, but the yarn and chart make it still a good buy. Having never worked on 1.5mm needles before I have discovered a whole new world of pain, not in the fact that 1cm of knitting is almost 10 rows (although that is quite painful), but the kind of pain that needs a thimble. I am not a big fan of thimbles, as my child-size hands find them clumsy and a bit sweaty, but apparently I use my left index finger to push the needle back. I have never realised this before (I don’t really think about how I knit, I just knit) but I reflexively do this to the point that I fall over my fingers if I try to stop and do it differently. Pain first drew my attention to this (1.5mm is roughly the size of a darning needle) and even wearing a thimble I cannot knit them for too long before the jabbing of the needle and the tightness of the yarn make hurty hands.

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I think you will agree that the pain is worth it, as already they look amazing but they will take an age to complete. Perhaps they will be ready for winter 2047? Here’s hoping!

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While knitting on tiny needles create a jewel like charm, knitting on thicker needles/yarn has a charm of its own. Humble DK feels like rope after the delicate-less-than-4ply yarn and gloriously (it is knitting up a heck of a lot quicker)! For Christmas I wrote to Santa (also known as the Amazon wish-list) and popped a few Scandi-knit pattern books on there. Well, Santa was kind to me and I have been carefully reading and choosing motifs for my new mittens.

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I decided to pair olive with dark green and make a pair of spring flower mittens. Going all of the way, I decided to do a proper palm chart (which will make a denser, harder wearing fabric) but wimped out of a complex thumb and opted for an after-thought one instead. I did briefly dabble in the idea of using left-over purple yarn to make the flower pretty, but after only five rows of tangled hell I decided that the two-tone mittens looked much better and frogged back.

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One mitten down and it is looking good. It is still a bit of a wing and a prayer if I will get it all out of the two 50g balls (which is why I haven’t done the thumbs yet). The downside to having a long-term stash is that my chances of buying another ball in the correct dye lot on both colours is zero to nothing (the plus side is that I started these late in the evening after a quick rummage). Still, all being well I should have enough yarn to do a stranded thumb. Plan B is an alternative row stripe thumb. Plan OMG (if I run out of yarn for thumbs) is to unravel some of the cuffs and see what I can do. Absolutely Plan Z (if there isn’t enough yarn for the main mitten) is to unravel both cuffs and knit them in a contrast colour and then knit the thumbs to match.

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And people say knitting isn’t an adrenaline kicker….

LouBug

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