Going Knit Large

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The sun is out, the flowers are blooming and nature is definitely choosing to strut its stuff. Ok, so maybe we have also had torrential rain, and ok, the snail population is having its share of the new flowers, but it is still a good time to make and play. Knitting in hot weather is always a tricky one, as working on winter things always feels like you are jinxing the sunshine. With the length of time needed on bigger projects it is smart to knit while the sun is shining, so that things are ready for when it doesn’t.

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As ever I have been flitting between projects like a dizzy kitten, I have even returned to nibble at some of the winter colour-work projects (too fiddley to keep my brain focused!). After pretty much trying at everything in the WIP box, I have settled on working on some of the bigger projects. Admittedly it is because four blanket sized projects do rather swamp my storage, but it is nice to work on large things after a few week of small shawls and socks. So this blog is going to be dedicated to the joy of big projects.

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Yes, I know I am usually about the joy of socks and wisp like shawls (practically made from kitten’s tears) but there is also something very satisfying about a project that you know will take months and the best part of a kilogram of yarn to complete. It is like the difference between hopping on a bus to the next town and planning a four-day road trip. Or the difference between an ice lolly and a full on Knickerbocker glory. It can be nice to knit/crochet a project of an evening that has absolutely no expectation that it will be finished or require anything more than a few more rows added to it. Oddly, I find this type of continuation project perfect for summer knitting (which is why I seem to end up making blankets in the height of summer) as it doesn’t require much brain power or attention. It also helps that the four blankets (which actually surprised me, I certainly never planned to have four on the go – it sort of just happened) have very different personalities.

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The eldest, a log cabin blanket. Started (I think) at the end of summer after falling in love with the look from my (then) new Maison Dixie knitting book. Being on a pre-Ally Pally yarn diet, I was delighted to find the perfect combination and amount of yarn already deep in the stash. It is starting to get a touch large now and I have already up-graded to my 150cm cord (lucky I have a cable connector because I am going to need it to join both long cords before the end). I am currently working on the seventh stripe out. Looking at the remaining yarn (and factoring in that each stripe out is about one inch longer than the previous stripe) I think I will just make it to the originally planned 10 stripes.

A potential issue looming, is that I didn’t consider that the blue stripes use more yarn (because they are all two inches longer than the same row purple ones – which soon stacks up). It will have to be a carefully measured-out final row, or risk frogging back three meter long (20 row) stripes. One thought I had, was to switch the purple and blue around on the last stripe to create a frame effect (and hopefully balance out this difference in the remaining yarn). Or perhaps stripe the last row and alternate between the purple and blue. Whatever way I jump, I am definitely going to end with a dark purple stripe (the same as the centre) to create a good border. The plan was to pick up all of the edge stitches and see how many rows I can get in the purple (I doubt I will manage a full 20) and cast off with the light blue accent yarn. Big blankets can suffer visually if they just seem to stop, and even a simple crochet border in a contrast colour can really lift it (as I found out on my Granny’s Garden blanket). However, I strongly suspect that I have a long while to think on this!

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Next up (age wise) is the Dolly Mix Mitre blanket. This is only about 3 months old, and had a really big kick of action over Easter. Based on a gift baby blanket I once made, it is chugging along with the only purpose purchased yarn being the black background colour. Everything else has been stash bustingly-tastic! The only hold up to it powering through, is that I need to generate more scrap! I have been careful to keep some colours back (mainly to prevent puddles of similar colours) but I think I will have to wait a finger curling amount of time before I can return back to it. Unless I crack and raid the 25g DK stand at my LYS. Which won’t happen. Nope not a chance…..

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As previously mentioned ,I could legitimately get some of this scrap from my kit blanket (Attic24 ripple blanket), but each row is officially as wide as I am tall. Once you factor in the ripple stitch, it is a lot of crochet per row. I haven’t had a head of steam on this yet, but I am picking at it and trusting that it will reach a natural tipping point and get going. It doesn’t help that I need much more attention on crochet than knitting (plain knitting can now be done without looking!). It doesn’t help that it still looks like a strip of ribbon (which makes it flop about while working) and it doesn’t help that I know that I have done a mere 3 stripes out of 84. What does help is that the picture of the finished item looks fantastic and I really want one! I think I will have to deploy standard tricks like one row an evening (or even as much as I can finish during one episode of The Big Bang Theory) to edge it along. Things should pick up as it starts to take shape and look gorgeous, but all I can see at the moment when I look at it is 81 stripes (so 162 rows) with 213 stitches per row. Bleugh!

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And then there is the new kid on the block. My gift yarn busting Giant Granny Square. This is getting done (mainly because I find granny squares relatively easy and quick), and I am getting a bit done by the sea of red. Annoyingly, I am so used to predicting yarn amounts for knitting that I spectacularly messed up my estimating (grey stripe was planned to be six rows and failed to complete three) so my clever plan to use up some long-standing stash yarn has now been vastly simplified.

Just so you know, crochet eats yarn like a man-versus-food challenge.

LouBug

 

 

 

Toys In A Million, All Under One Roof

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Yes, it is that time of year again! The leaves are starting to turn brown, there is a nip in the air and I get up super earlier on a Saturday to brave the crazy-town driving in London and (over)indulge in yarny goodness.

So here it is, my big hoard! Which has two points of note, firstly I managed to spend less this year (sadly, even my yarn budget has had a trim down) and oddly I seem to have come home with more.

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Some of this is because these two (irresistible) skeins of Jitterbug represent all the sock yarn I bought. I know; this is an impressive show of self-restraint, up there with not eating the last biscuit.

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As part of my pre-Ally Pally prep I emptied out all my yarn and inventoried what I had. I then drew up a list of things I wanted, rather than my usual approach (which is a five-year-old in a sweet shop). Part of this yarn sort revealed the full extent that my sock stash has, well, exploded in size. Stress buying over the summer, day trips to places with yarn shops and a general sense of “but it is only one more skein” has made its impact felt. So I had to stay strong as I walked past the sale sock yarn, and keep reminding myself of the yarn mountain I already have. The flip side of this is that I shocked myself at lunch by still having well over half of my cash left (those pesky £15-£20 skeins normally burn through my wallet).

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I am also impressed that I avoided adding to my fat quarter pile (and believe me there was plenty of temptation) and lace weight yarn. Both are so very easy to buy and both are slow to use, and so I shall have to be contented with using up the fabulous things I already have. On the other hand, I did give (and keep to) a cross stitch kit budget. The goldfish is my favourite (I shall try to get a better photo later).

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This Rowan Calmer yarn was my best bargain (£20 down from £80!), and was even on the list! I had to be cruel to myself at Blacksheep Wools, the pile was just as inviting as usual. The temptation to burrow inside and build a yarn fort was there, but my yarn inventory had showed me exactly how many unused packets from previous years I still have. It is all good stuff, but there is a limit to how many jumpers I can finish in a year!

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On the other, I can always use a scarf! Especially one with a light reflecting thread. The original plan was to make the light one into a hat, but I keep looking at them as a pair and thinking some kind of striped scarf situation may need to happen.

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Another plus side to not going mad with the sock yarn is that I could totally justify going nuts on beads. I think I pretty much got something from every bead stall there, and I have got some lovely things (a bit too small for my camera to do justice to). My best surprise buy was from a £3 lucky dip bag of charms, in which I managed to get a pumpkin coach (perfect for my fairy tale stitch marker set). Alas, I also have 6 random rabbits with tennis rackets to find a home for….

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This was also the year of the kits (feeding into my aim of buying with a purpose, not with a giddy child approach). This little cutie was my “show special” gift for renewing my Let’s Knit subscription! I am already planning on knitting him/her a little hat and coat. Paws off diddy Knitwitlets, aunty is keeping this one.

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This next kit was a Stylecraft bargain (£25 for 15 balls) which will make a “Coast” ripple blanket by Attic24. I have already decided to trim it with light blue sparkle yarn and I also got a cute keyring as I managed to impress the stall holder by fashioning a handle out of a second plastic bag to help contain the yarn-splosion.

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Saving the best for last, I got this Latvian mitten kit (£10!) which I fell in love with. I was not alone in this mitten love and believe me, a set of 1.5 DPNs could not be found anywhere in Ally Pally for love nor money. I am a little daunted to knit on that kind of gauge, but I have been dancing around the edges of knitting a pair of these style mittens and seeing the kit made it seem too perfect to pass up.

But first I will need those pesky 1.5 needles…

LouBug

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