a very belated jumper write up…..

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Approximately a million years ago I started to make a Carpino by Carol Feller. I’d had my eye on the pattern for ages but was putting off making it because I was trying to have a little break from alpaca ( I realised that most of my jumpers were made of Drops alpaca and it was all looking a bit samey…). After my success in unravelling Funky Grandpa to make an awesome Natsumi (which I love and wear all of the time) I decided to unravel an unsuccessful Snowbird in the hope of turning it into a lovely Carpino.

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You can see the pattern better in this picture.

As I was unravelling an older project the fabric was a bit more felted and not so keen to come apart. Because of that I ended up with smaller lengths of felty wool to work with. I wound it all up into large balls and it was easy to work with. The pattern was super easy to follow and came together really quickly.

Annoyingly I finished the jumper just as the weather got warmer so I haven’t got around to wearing it yet. I’m also not quite sure about the neckline which sticks up a bit….  Now that the autumn is making a reappearance I’m looking forward to digging this jumper back out. I think it’s going to be a great autumn jumper but an even better layering top when the winter comes in.

Free jumper!

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This is the first time I’ve tried to unravel a whole project and reknit it from scratch and I’m pleased to say that it has been a total success! I’ve turned a disappointing Funky Grandpa into an awesome Natsumi.

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The construction was pretty interesting. The jumper is worked across the body sideways with a provisional cast on. There’s lots of stocking stitch but the cable keeps things interesting. It is a really easy cable to remember so no need to lug the pattern about. Once you’ve finished the body you pick up the stitches from the provisional cast on for the sleeves and then knit them flat. It was pretty quick and easy to make and a much better pattern for this wool than the original one.

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I really like the finished jumper, it’s really flattering and warm. The only thing I’d change about it is the sleeves. The pattern suggests a cast off at the end of the sleeve without any ribbing to stop it curling. I was a bit suspicious but thought I’d go with it and see how it turned out. You’ll be unsurprised to hear that the ends do indeed curl up in a rather annoying way. If I’d worked the sleeves in the round I could have just undone the cast off and added in some rib but as I worked them flat I’d have had to undo the seams on both sides and to be honest I couldn’t be bothered! I’m sure I’ll get used to it and have decided to embrace it as a feature of the jumper.

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Things were not looking promising before blocking….

As I was in the process of knitting the I was a bit concerned that it would look really rustic and crappy because it was re-used wool but after blocking it has come out really well. I was super conscientious and blocked it out properly with pins and everything! I don’t think that you can tell at all that it used to be something else.

The hem of the jumper dips at the back which I really like. My trousers have a tendency to fall down at the back (especially when I’m on my bike) and this jumper is good for preserving my modesty!

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I’ve worn this jumper pretty much constantly since I finished it and I like it even more because it was basically free! It has inspired me to sort through my huge knitwear collection and see what else I don’t really wear. I dug out a slightly too small Snowbird I made a few years ago and I’ve unravelled it ready to make myself another free jumper. As I was going through my knitwear drawer I also found quite a few little cardigans I loved a couple of years ago them but don’t wear much any more and I’ve put them on one side for a clothes swap at the weekend. Initially I had mixed feelings about giving away things I’ve made myself but now that my wool drawer is looking ordered and calm I’m very pleased with my decision. I can actually see what I have  and I don’t need to feel guilty about making new things!

Thief!

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It’s always upsetting when something gets nicked but it’s particularly horrible when it’s something you’ve made yourself. On Friday I was in the pub and another customer apparently decided that they were a bit cold and would like to warm themselves up by wearing my beloved Autumn Leaves scarf home! I should add that it’s quite a nice pub where the beer is fairly expensive and the customers can afford to buy their own accessories. It’s a bit silly to get overly attached to an inanimate object but I loved that scarf! :( I get very cold and pretty much hate winter but it’s so reassuringly big and cozy and colourful that it brought me much needed cheer. It took me a little while to make but I’ve worn it pretty constantly through this winter and last winter.

Now, I like a drink now and again (ahem…) and if I’d had one too many and forgotten it I would only have myself to be cross with. But I really can’t fathom what sort of person steals something that is so obviously handmade and irreplaceable and really of no value to anyone but me. I’ve had wallets stolen before of course (I lived in London for seven years) but I understand that as it’s skint people who are after money. It’s crappy and upsetting but it makes sense. This is something totally different……It’s not like there’s any chance that whoever took it thought it was theirs either! I’m really very confident that no-one else has made themselves the exact same pattern of scarf in the same wool….

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So, should you happen to be walking about in Cambridge and spot someone snugged up in my beautiful (and frankly rather distinctive) toasty scarf you will know they are a thief! I haven’t got the heart to make myself a new one at the moment so for the moment I will be looking very grumpy and a bit cold…….

A cardigan for a very tall and incredibly thin person…..

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It’s taken me years to get around to making an Aidez by Cirilia Rose. It’s a free pattern with a really lovely cable. There are tones of them on Ravelry complete with super happy pictures. I did my research in advance and it looked like the biggest problem would be small arm holes. I was a bit worried about that as I am rather generously proportioned in the arm area (I have no idea why as I am lacking in any accompanying strength). Luckily for me that didn’t happen. I ran into a different problem entirely. I managed to make a cardigan which is super duper long and at the same time impossibly narrow and thus totally unwearable. :(

While this is not the first virtually unwearable item I’ve made it is by far the most beautiful! It’s so cruel. It looks so lovely sitting there and then as soon as I put it on it on, ugh! I couldn’t bear to take a picture as it looks so dreadful so I will try and describe it instead. Picture a long thin sheet of knitted fabric hanging limply down my back, so narrow that you can barely see it from the front. It manages to make me look both shorter and rounder which is not exactly the look I’m going for.

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Look how pretty the pattern is! I wish I could wear it!

I suspect that the problem is with the wool. It’s a lovely sort of grey/purple shade of Garnstudio DROPS Big Merino which was an absolute pleasure to knit with (It is super soft and has the loveliest stitch definition). Unfortunatly it is on the thin side for an aran which is less than ideal considering the pattern actually calls for super bulky wool. My gauge was a little off but I thought I could get away with going up a couple of sizes. Clearly that was an optimistic plan!

As I was making the front pieces I was concerned that they seemed rather small but had hatched a plan to pick up stitches around the outside to form a fairly thick button band. Once I’d finished the (long and rather tedious) process of seaming I realised that the approach just wouldn’t work as the button band would need to be 4 or 5 inches which would look weird and use up a hell of a lot of wool. It also wouldn’t solve the problem of the cardigan being insanely long.

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Look closely, can you see where I went wrong?

To make matters more frustrating with this project I actually had to make the back twice. I’d finished the whole thing off and started on the front before I spotted the sneaky knit stitches hiding in with the purls. I thought maybe I could get away with leaving them but the longer I looked at it the more I could see the mistake! As I was using pretty big needles (6.5mm) the second version came together quite quickly but I was still less than thrilled.

On a more positive note the cables look quite complex but are super simple and easy to remember. If you’re familiar with the pattern you might have noticed that I’ve made a slight change to the outer cables on the back. I could pretend it’s because I preferred the more classic cable I went with in the end but that would be a lie. In truth I couldn’t work out what the instructions were asking me to do and rather than be patient with it I just substituted the cable for something easy! I’m sure that if I had read it properly and spent some time on it I would have worked it out in the end.

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So, what am I going to do about this knitting disaster? I haven’t quite made up my mind yet. An optimist might say that I could improve things with a really firm block to try and widen the cardigan and take up some of the length (so far it’s only had a pretty half hearted blocking). Or, I could just admit defeat and unravel it? Perhaps this cardigan just isn’t meant to be!

How easy is it to re-use old wool?

A year or so ago I made a Funky Grandpa by La Maison Rililie in Du Store Alpakka Mirasol. I loved the wool and I hoped that it would be an awesome boxy cardigan that I would wear to death. Unfortunately it didn’t work out quite the way I wanted it to. The weight was a bit wrong for the style of cardigan plus it was a bit too big for my shoulders and kept falling off.  I wore it a few times last winter but other than that it has stayed resolutely in the cupboard.

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Here’s the cardigan before I unravelled it!

So, when I ran out of wool between Christmas and New Year (very poor planning on my part) and decided to have a go at unravelling and re-using some old wool, this cardigan was first on the list. As I’d finished this over a year ago I didn’t find it too painful to unravel. I still love the buttons so I was pleased to have them to use for another project (maybe Bellows ). The wool is alpaca and had started to try and felt in places so it took a little persuasion to unravel at times but I made fairly swift progress and rather enjoyed it.

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This is how curly it was!

Initially I’d planned to try and re-knit the unravelled wool without washing it properly first. This turned out to be a very unrealistic idea as the the wool came out insanely kinky. It would have been a nightmare to work with (and I suspected would have looked awful when knitted up). So I decided to do things properly. I wound the wool into skeins (using the back of a chair), soaked it in some lovely hand wash detergent and hung it out in the garden to drip dry.

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It looks a lot less kinky after I’d washed it.

The skeins of wool haven’t come out totally straight but they are looking much better! I think the final little kinks will come out over time as they are wound into balls.

The process has been a little more time consuming that I’d originally thought, and the front room is now covered in bits of orange fluff,  but I’ve found it very relaxing. Lots of winding things and unwinding things!

I’ve already started a new project with the wool. It’s going to be Natsumi by Kazekobo (from Wool People Vol. 7). I’ve had my eye on this project for a while and think the wool will suit it very well. I’m hopeful that the fluffiness of the alpaca combined with the side-on stitches and the interest of the cable pattern will distract the eye from any imperfections in the re-used wool.

I would definitely recommend having a look through your knitting drawer and seeing what you can find to unravel! It’s much slower than going to the shop but the process is relaxing and nothing beats the smug feeling of getting something for nothing!

A massive blanket I can actually wear in public

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For a couple of winters now I’ve been craving a massive aran cardigan to keep me warm when the weather gets chilly. A big baggy one, to wrap myself up in, that would easily go over a jumper, basically like blanket that I can wear in public without fear of embarrassment.  This winter I actually got around to doing something about it! I opted for Maude by Carrie Bostick Hoge as it looked super cosy. I was also tempted by Rosemont Cardigan . I might make that one for next year.

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If you look closely you can see the line from where my cardigan was drying on the airer. I was too lazy to block it out properly!

I used Garnstudio DROPS Nepal in cream. It’s a slightly itchy wool but it’s super warm and it’s for the winter so is unlikely to be right next to my skin. It was slightly off gauge, to be honest, but as it was going to baggy I wasn’t too concerned. Indeed, I was so confident that the gauge issue wouldn’t increase the size too much that I went up a size to make sure that it was suitably baggy. In the end that was overkill; I had forgotten that I am only 5’2” and that my knitting is almost always too big….  It’s a HUGE cardigan! At first I was a bit disappointed as it wasn’t what I’d had in mind. I was aiming for big rather than massive. However, as it has been cold I’ve been wearing it anyway and it has really grown on me. Now I’m thinking that it looks kind of cool in a 90s sort of way.

This is what it should look like. I think this model is quite a lot taller than me!

This is what it should look like. I think this model is quite a lot taller than me!

I’m so used to working with 4-ply that it was a bit weird to be knitting in aran. It came together so quickly and my progress was so visible!

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The sleeves are so long I’ve had to turn them up

The pattern was super easy to follow and I ran into no problems at all. It’s a nice construction with the body worked in once piece until you reach the sleeves and then both the sleeves worked before bringing everything together onto a circular needle. No seaming! The button band is picked up at the end and worked in garter stitch. I wasn’t sure about that at the time as I like the stretch of a ribbed button band and thought a garter rib might pull it out of shape. It has grow on me now but I think that if I was doing it again I would go for a rib to pull it all in.

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The buttons look like they are hideously uneven at the bottom but they are fine I promise!

I got the buttons from the lovely Raystitch in Islington last time I was in London. I have a thing for wooden buttons and I think these are perfect for the shade of cream. I normally avoid cream wool for fear of staining it, by chucking tea all over it or something, but I surprised myself by keeping it clean, even while drinking mulled wine! I had planned to put the pockets in as I am a huge fan of pockets but I ran out of wool and was too cheep to order another ball.

Although its turned out differently to the cardigan I had in my head at the start it has really grown on me and has been worn in heavy rotation since I finished it. I work at home and it’s particularly good for chucking on as an extra layer if it’s not quite cold enough to put the heating on but distractingly chilly. It was also AMAZING when I ventured into the icy cold for ice-skating. My toes were freezing but the rest of me was toasty! All in all I would call it a success!

Making presents

Hello, Happy New Year! As you might have guessed I am a big fan of knitting and sewing in general so it follows that I would also be a big fan of knitting and sewing my own Christmas presents. Here are a few that I made this year:

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These are some lavender pillows for keeping drawers smelling nice. I saw something similar at a craft fair before Christmas and I thought they looked pretty easy to replicate. I used bits of left over fabric that I had and got a big bag of lavender from the awesome vegetarian shop down the road for just a pound! I’m very pleased with the way these have turned out and I really enjoyed making them. I was quite tempted to make a set for myself actually!

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This is a pair of oven gloves I made for my mum. Sorry for the rubbish photo. They were a bit too long to fit in. You’ll just have to trust me that they look good! I used a pattern from a Cath Kidston book and some fabric I already had. These were my first experiment with wadding but it was much simpler than I feared. Getting the bias binding to look neat was surprisingly tricky but I could solve that another time by not taking the wadding all the way up to the edge. My walking foot came in very handy for these. I’m not quite sure how you’d manage otherwise!

I also made a little pair of hand warmers for my sister.

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These are a pair of Sherwood Mitts by Pam Allen. I made them in Garnstudio DROPS Nepal. I’ve made these hand warmers before, also as a Christmas present, and I really enjoyed knitting them both times. The pattern is pretty easy to remember and as the wool is nice and chunky they come together quickly. I need to get around to making a pair for myself at some point!

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Coco also got into the spirit of Christmas and let me decorate her cage. She loves Christmas because she is a massive fan of brussel sprouts and also cardboard boxes. She doesn’t like it so much when we try and dress her up in a Christmas hat though….