A Small Matter of Casting On #knitting


Oh dear, I might have gone a little nuts. Even Cat is face-palming at the horror. I have now accidentally cast on all my spare row counters (even I am not sure how many I have) and I also broke the rules and solved the problem of running out of knit pro 3mm tips by buying more. Basically a large casting off bomb went off last week and I am still dazed and confused as to what happened.


It all started off innocently enough. Knit-knit-knitting at my log cabin blanket. Cro-cro-crocheting at my big red granny. And generally picking at other projects. Then I started strolling though some yarn books and accidentally started another Calmer cardi (to join the purple and green one). Lovely shade of pale teal and will look lovely with a wavy border, reliable yarn and the self-designed pattern for the body already a proven success (it will even be made with the same needles). Logically it does make sense to make a start on an autumn weight cardi now so that it is going to be ready in time. So far, so reasonable.


The pair of socks was also an accident, I wanted a simple pattern but also some lace, and I have been meaning to use the yarn for a while. Just ignore the other four pairs shall we. Between them they cover plain, lace, colour work and simple rib. The moody grey/teal is nice with the mock cables though!


As previously mentioned I have been chain knitting shawls recently and looking through my brand new Sock yarn Shawls II book it would have been rude not to try one. The first book has already proven to be a firm favourite and I will admit to a loud squeak when I spotted number two in the Amazon pre-order list of temptations. The second book builds on the first and has a good mix of classic triangle shawls and long and skinny sideways ones. It has also included larger two skein shawls (some in contrasting colours, some in the same), which are based on 70g balls.


The yarn doesn’t photo well, but it is basically a pale mushroom grey with a sparkle thread running through it. And it will look awesome next to my big white dress (dum dum di dum), or alternatively on exotic location for the honeymoon. The yarn was bought from Olympia a few years ago (it was apparently dyed to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee) and I have been saving it for something worthy. And people, this pattern is gorgeous! Luckily I have 150g of it, so I should be able to make one long enough to wear as a proper shawl (opposed to the triangle forward style) and I might dip into my bead collection when I cast off to give it a bit of extra bling.


I also accidentally cast on this blue shawl (I was comparing book 1 and 2 and fell in love with it) which basically means I am now making both cover photo shawls. I absolutely love this Tardis blue yarn (and had to put my foot down when Mr LouBug tried to claim it for socks). I need to come up with a suitable Dr Who name for it, (perhaps River’s Song, or Timey Wimey). I regret nothing on this one and I am impatiently getting to the lace section, to the point where I will start it 12 rows early (to allow an extra repeat). Wearing my Blue Yonder shawl, I have found that the large triangle does make it bunch up a bit under the chin, lace tends to sit better (as seen on my Purple Happenstance) so there are practical as well as impatient reasons behind this.

Blimey, I had better get knitting.





Spring Knitting Clear Up


More catching up from Easter – I have definitely been busy this Easter! I have finished (and I have started) a hefty chunk of things and I am definitely feeling a bit smug. Ok, some of the planned things didn’t happen (paging the log cabin blanket) but all in all a good haul.


First up, the mighty green cardi. This has been resting in the WIP box due to uncertainty over the trim, but on closer inspection I decided that the trim was a go-to-launch and then finished-it-off. The lace is called “Vandyke lace” and it is reasonably reversible (the difference is only really noticeable on close inspection). It is close to the original plan of a leafy style lace, but without the mirroring/reversible problems that I found.


The buttons are actually coconut shell (from John Lewis) and I like the way the cream-brown sets off the green. I still have some more Rowan Calmer (but in bright teal) so I might make a third one to the same base recipe, but perhaps I will do a wavy theme trim this time. I will definitely keep my eye out at this year’s Ally Pally to see if there is anymore (perhaps in grey/silver or navy blue?) as there is nothing as nice as good yarn on a discount. Each cardi has about 3-4 balls left over, so a striped bonus one is also going to be in the offing!


I have also dusted off a lace-weight shawl (as I seem to be all about the shawls this month). Made from baby camel and silk “Eat to the Beat” by “I knit or dye” it is really soft and has a fantastic sheen to it. At an eye watering 100g to 800m it is literally sewing thread weight and I have already had a little frog/argument about tension. Yep, I had to pull back the first two repeats TWICE to get a sensible tension (it was too open and the pattern looked wrong), but third time is the charm and I have moved past the fatal second repeat, stretched it out and everything seems to be on-track.

But definitely a no TV, this is a quiet pattern!


Toys In A Million, All Under One Roof


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.


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.


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).


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).


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!


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.


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….


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.


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.


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…


Spring Green Knitted Cardigan


Well, the dreaded lergy has finally let me out of its snotty embrace and now I am bouncing back with the energy of a chilli fuelled supernova. As you might have gathered, my attention span on my knitting is either caffeinated kitten or laser ninja. The has resulted in an on-going battle to find free needles and row counters, as even my mighty collection of both groans under the number of WIPs. I sort of solved this over the summer by buying a new storage box (solved is a loose term; solved as in “I no longer have them stacked in a heap” but not solved as in “reduced the number of”).


The latest laser focus has been on my big green cardi. This is based on the same basic recipe as my purple cardi and is looking to be a good wardrobe staple. Although I am stuck on what buttons to use (the ones pictured are the current contenders) it is chugging along nicely. Annoyingly, I cannot actually show you the cardigan, as it is in a bunched up heap – the trim stitches are held on a circular needle. The suspense will just have to be held until it is finished!

I think I have now cracked a good basic cardigan recipe for my supermodel like frame (stop sniggering KnitWit!). It fits well over my ample frame and I am pleased to report that the yarn has previously proven itself over a number of 30 degree wool washes (Rowan Calmer for the curious). This is made from the same yarn and plan as my purple cardi, which I adore, and was very happy to discover (after a deep sea dive into the stash, safety lines were both used and needed) that I had a packet of Calmer in a nice spring green (also Ally Pally – Blacksheep yarns we love you!). The added bonus is that my basic cardi pattern uses about six-seven of the ten balls, which opens up the idea of a nice stripy bonus cardigan. All I need is a couple of balls of a complementing colour (I’m thinking grey) to soften the two bright colours. Fingers crossed that this year’s Ally Pally supplies me with it!

The basic body and arms are now built, but I am in a bit of a quandary about the trim. I like the wide rib trim on the purple one but I am reluctant to make an exact twin as there is something nice about each one being unique. Originally I wanted a leaf theme, but the closer I get to knitting it the more problems I can see. First and foremost is my issue about getting the trim to be symmetrical, and I cannot find a mirror twin pattern I like with leaves. By mirror twin I mean that the left-hand-side has leaves that leans down and it is mirrored with the right also having leaves pointing down. This sounds obvious, but most patterns would end up with right side down and left side up, which is okay but not what I want.


While plotting and planning this, I tripped over a nice mirror pair of lace mesh in my Barbara Walker pattern directory, which I have applied to the sleeves. But (admit it, you saw a “but” coming) it would fail on the trim because the reverse side is obviously different from the front. This will make the back of the collar (which would be seen as it flops over) look badly finished which would annoy me.

So the search is still on. I want a mesh lace panel that looks similar on the front and back and either has an identical left/right bias or is central. Desperate times have led to actual planning, and I am currently test-knitting mesh panels to see how they look (because even I cannot face knitting at least ten rows of a pattern which may or may not work on an edge with well over 200 stitches in it).

Unless, of course I get distracted…


Purple Hug


Drum roll please, I have now finished my purple cardigan!

It is made from Rowan Calmer (cotton and microfiber) and adapted from my first ever self-designed cardigan.  It has now successfully emerged from the washing machine without any dodgy shrinking/growing.  I can now breathe a sigh of relief and let the glory wash over me.


You might remember the mis-adventure of the bust darts (which looked fine on, but all kinds of freaky when the front was opened). I will admit that it did result in the project being left in the naughty corner to Think About What It Had Done.  But I am ever the optimist, so I bit the bullet and frogged back a good 3 inches of side and back and ploughed on.


And here it is (the other arm is there, but fell out of shot).  The shaping went well and is rather flattering when on and I do like the way that the trim gives it a slightly jackety look.  The sleeves work well – the trim makes them easy to flip over (as I am always needing to roll sleeves back at work), without altering the look of the arms.


I especially love the large heart buttons (which I think came free with a magazine about 5 years ago) and the way that the mother of pearl grey works with the lilac purple.  This is actually the first time I have done a proper button band (as opposed to zips or buttons over pop studs) and I was annoyed with the way that the weight of the button made the button holes sag.


Thankfully, the hive mind of my stitch group came up with a plan of sewing a strip of ribbon to re-enforce and stabilise the edge.  Happily I found some organza ribbon (pale pink and slightly sparkly) which doesn’t look too odd when the cardigan flaps open.


Even better, I have been left with four balls left over and, as I have another bag of green, I should have enough from the two yarn bags to make three cardigans.  Nothing like a free jumper’s worth of yarn to make the day more shiny!


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