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!

Ravello jumper – (yet) another lesson in checking gauge!

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The ribbing looks a bit messy because I didn’t quite get around to switching down to a smaller needle…..I think I can just about get away with it though!

As you may well have noticed I’m a big fan of Garnstudio DROPS Alpaca. If I had to choose it would be probably be my favourite wool to knit with because a) it’s fairly cheap b) it feels nice c) you get a lot of yardage for a ball and d) it’s splendidly fluffy (and hides your mistakes). My obsession with this particular wool is causing me a couple of problems. Firstly, I have ended up with a fairly vast selection of knitwear in exactly the same wool (sometimes the same shade of the same wool….) which is a little odd and means that if by some freakish turn of fate I don’t want wear alpaca I have very limited options. Secondly, I have ended up with numerous random balls of Garnstudio DROPS Alpaca in various shades. Not quite enough to make anything out of in any particular colour but enough to make me feel guilty when I see them sitting around…..The solution to the first problem is obviously to branch out and force myself to use some different materials and hopefully I’ll be able to share that with you in the next few weeks. The solution to the second problem? a multi coloured ravello by Isabell Kraemer! 

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Thankfully I had a few colours that sort of go together. You might recognise them from previous patterns? The construction was super simple and the pattern very easy to follow. It’s just a top down raglan jumper.  I don’t think I ran into one single problem with the pattern.

I got part way through one of the sleeves before realising that I probably didn’t have enough grey to finish both of the sleeves. This was a bit annoying as I think it would look much better with grey sleeves. However there’s always going to be a bit of compromise when you’re working with odds and ends of wool so I had a go with blocks of green at the bottom of the sleeves. It was looking a bit wrong when I started it but I hoped that it would look better as I got going. It didn’t….I think it’s something about the move from little stripes of green and grey to massive chunks of them that didn’t work. After starring at it for a lot time I decided to switch the green for the purple. That way it matches the block of colour at the bottom of the body and looks a little less random.

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I’ve finally tracked down some wooden 2.75mm needles which has made my old lady hands very happy!

I’ve been making a lot of knitwear with an open weave lately so I thought I’d use 2.75mm needles and have a firmer fabric. Given my many recent gauge based disasters you’d think that I’d make a swatch…….but I didn’t…I don’t know why….. I just started and hoped for the best! Because of that it’s come out a little small. Not so small that I can’t wear it without looking indecent but small enough that I feel a little self conscious about my recent cake intake. It also makes my arms feel rather tubby (I am going to pretend that is yoga based muscle rather than fat arms!) Because of that I haven’t worn it that much. I think it is waiting for a skinny day, or spring or a high waisted skirt……or a flash of inspiration!

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Look at my sad little face! I haven’t helped matters by taking a slightly blurry picture on a dark rainy day!

For some reason I decided to make it a little shorter than the pattern suggests. To be honest I don’t really remember why. Perhaps I was getting bored of the stocking stitch? In retrospect it probably would have been better longer but I’m not bothered enough to undo the ribbing and fix it.

All in all my attitude to this jumper is distinctly ‘meh’. I’m not sure about the sizing (my own fault) or indeed the busyness of all of the colours (inevitable when using up lots of wool). However I quite enjoyed making it and it was basically free so if it ends up at the charity shop or gets given to a friend I haven’t lost anything! Fingers crossed my next project with be more successful!

Summer cardigan (and a new house!)

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Things I like about new house: 1. We don’t have to keep our bikes in the dining room anymore.

If you read this blog regularly you’ll have noticed that I love cardigans. I have an insane amount of cardigans and I wear them virtually all the time. I am not the sort of person to let something like the summer get between me and my cardigans so this year I have made myself a Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fettig so  I can still have a cardy even when its hot… I have had this in my queue for years now and I’m not sure what finally  inspired me to make a start on it but I’m glad I did.

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2. We have sash windows. I really love sash windows.

I used Garnstudio DROPS Lace. I wasn’t overwhelmed with awesome colour choices but in the end I went for purple. When it arrived I realised that it’s pretty similar to the purple of my Relax jumper, I must really like that colour! The Drops wool offered really good value for money; when I bought it, it was about £7 for £100g (although I bought two to be on the safe side) and I used less than one skein! Hand knitting can often work out more expensive than buying from the shop so I’m rather chuffed with making a cardigan for £7! 

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3. We have an even patio so we can have garden furniture.

I love the finished cardigan, I cast off a few weeks ago and I have been wearing it a lot. The wool is super soft and isn’t as itchy as some of the alpaca blends can be and the finished cardigan is so lightweight that I can shove it into my handbag to keep me warm on the way home from the pub (or other more sophisticated evening pursuit..)!

As you can imagine though, with 2.75mm needles and lace weight wool this took forever. I was working on it for months and it got really dull in the end as it was just rows and rows of tiny stocking stitch. It’s weird the way that it is often the projects that are a  little boring to make that I wear the most; I think I have a preference towards fairly plain clothes.

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4. You can get wifi in the garden!

Regular readers may have spotted that my garden has changed, that’s because we’ve moved house. We’ve moved all the way from North London to Cambridge. We’re just renting (until we win the lottery…) but I love the new house and the new garden. I had the best time in London and will be going back on a regular basis but so far I am enjoying Cambridge very much. It’s very pretty, the pubs are awesome, there’s a good selection of beers, the restaurants are varied, the shops are good and the whole place is insanely cycle friendly!  Plus our  front room is big enough for Coco to have her own little run to hang out in!

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Pretend you haven’t spotted the bin bag on the cage…..

Now that I’ve finally unpacked my sewing machine and my wool I plan to do a lot of crafting here (and never move again- it was ridiculously stressful and expensive)!

Orange is the new black (or grey in my case)

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Even though we took quite a few photos this is the only one I can use because I am pulling weird faces in literally all of the others! I am not good at having my picture taken…..I’m not 100% sure it shows the cardigan off to it’s full awesomeness but it  saves you looking at pictures of me gurning strangely…

It would be fair to say that I am usually  a little bit safe with my colour choices… I like brown and beige and grey…indeed I love grey so much that I could make several whole outfits out out of my grey clobber and still have some extra grey clothes left lying around….This year I decided to add some more colour to my wardrobe.  I have been very brave and made an awesome burnt orange cardigan! It couldn’t be further away from grey! I am rather proud of myself for my daring.

I wanted a baggy boyfriend style cardigan that I could throw on over other layers. I used the Funky Grandpa pattern by La Maison Rililie but I ignored the colour work. I think the colour pattern looks nice but I don’t really like to wear cardigans which are that busy. I used Du Store Alpakka Mirasol in 519 which I got from Knit with attitude. It’s an amazing colour! You can’t see it on the photos but the orange is flecked with yellow which really shows up in the sunlight. The wool is a treat to work with too and knits up to be soft and warm.

It hasn’t been the most fun project to knit……For a start the pattern was a tad confusing and I went so wrong the first time that I tried it that I had to start all over again which was pretty annoying given that I’d knitted down to the bottom ribbing!

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Here it is blocking out, the colour clashes quite a bit with the bed cover!

As well as ignoring the colour work I also ignored various other bits of the pattern:

  • I did a wrap and turn for the sleeve shaping as the method being described seemed unnecessarily complicated.
  • I used 2.75mm needles for the ribbing and pick ups because I don’t have any 2mm needles and didn’t want to buy any!
  • I made the button holes as I was going along rather than trying out the ‘after thought’ button holes as suggested. I just didn’t see the point!
  • I ignored the i-cord bind off for the button band. I tried it a couple of times and it just didn’t look right. I think a standard cast off looks fine.
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It looked awful before I blocked it out! All twisty and curled in and horrible.

I’m really pleased with this cardigan! It’s really warm and cozy and I love the colour! The buttons are a particular joy.  It’s not quite perfect though; the neck is a little wide and it threatens to fall off my shoulders quite often and the sleeves are very long. They are only minor issues though and they haven’t stopped me from wearing it every day since I finished it!

Is it lazy to make the same hat twice?

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Sorry for the dark photo…..It’s super rainy and dark today so it was practically impossible to take a good picture…

Some how I have managed to keep the same hat for a couple of years without loosing it – a Vernalis by Woolly Wormhead. This is a minor miracle as hats normally disappear in weeks on tubes, trains and buses…. After surviving so admirably (and keeping my head warm for two winters) the  hat is finally starting to look a bit sad and stretched out so its time for a new one.

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Here’s the old hat when it was shiny and new.

I probably should have scoured Ravelry for hours to try and find a new hat patten that I like. But I’m lazy and I couldn’t be bothered so I just dug out the same Vernalis pattern and made another one! I’m quite fussy about hats. I think it’s quite hard to find hats that look nice on curly hair…. if it’s too much of a beanie then you get a tight hat keeping your hair in and then at the bottom of the hat big hair tying to escape which looks weird……

I used Garnstudio DROPS Alpaca in the same colour as the hand warmers I just made. Mainly because I had some left over  but also because I quite like the idea of being matchy. This isn’t the ideal wool for this pattern as the fluffy texture and variegated wool distract from the pattern. I suspected that would be the case so I don’t mind too much. I think it’s come out really well. It looks much better in real life than it does in the photo at the top.

For some reason this version of the hat has come out quite a bit smaller than the last one.  I’m not entirely sure why. It could be any of the following:

  • I might not have stretched it out enough when I blocked it. I was in a bit of a hurry so I think I just dunked it and then left it on the bed to dry before rushing off somewhere.
  • I might have missed out one of the pattern repeats before the decreases. I was in a hurry to get it finished.
  • It might only look bigger than the old one because the old one has stretched.

I think it would have looked a little bit better if it was a tiny bit bigger. However on the plus side it is less likely to fall of my head when I’m running for the bus (which happened quite a bit with the old one)!

I’m quite looking forward to it getting colder so that I can wear it!

lace and cable hand warmers for my tiny wrists

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It’s almost impossible to take an attractive picture of hand warmers….They just aren’t very pretty!

Autumn can be a bit rubbish for me as I hate being cold (mainly because it makes my arthritis worse but also because I’m a wimp!).  There are upsides to everything though and for Autumn one of the main ones is that it is knitting season! It’s all about the hats, scarves and gloves! I’m starting with hand warmers. The hand warmers I made last year have felted quite badly and also left bits of rusty fluff all over me (and my poor boyfriend) so I decided to make a new pair for this year.

I opted for Merletto Mitts by Jody McKinley. I liked the lace and the cables plus I preferred the fact that it was 4ply so wouldn’t be too bulky. I used trusty Garnstudio DROPS Alpaca. I spotted an oilve/yellowy mix that I hadn’t seen before.  It’s a bit less bright in the flesh than it is in the pictures. I don’t normally like variegated wool but the shades in this one look great with each other and was too multicoloured and weid.

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Here’s the back

I think that the pattern was a little bit confusing, well, either that or I was being a bit dim….. Once I got going though the lace and cable pattern was easy to remember.

I finished one whole hand warmer before actually trying it on. Once I did I realised that it was HUGE! I think it was a combination of my loose tension and big knitting and my tiny little wrists.

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The HUGE hand warmer before I undid it

I unwound the whole thing and started again with a smaller version. I made the following modifications:

  • I cast on 48 stitches in total, kept the front the same size and reduced the plain bit at the back.
  • I also decided to ignore the ribbing suggested and just do 1×1. It doesn’t look quite as polished but I think it’s fine.
  • When I got to the thumb increases I stopped when I had 16 stitches.
  • As I’d cast on fewer stitches I didn’t need to decrease at the top of the hand warmers.

I’m really pleased with them. They look much better on than in the pictures and the colour is lovely. Hopefully these won’t felt quite as quickly as the last pair! My next knitting task is a new hat……