An accidental foray (back) into 90s grunge

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I hope you’re not getting too sick of shots of my garden…..it’s looking pretty bleak at the moment. Still, a garden in London is a very exciting thing.

Being of a lazy disposition I rarely bother to work out gauges for my knitting or do a tissue fitting for my sewing so I often find that there’s an element of surprise to trying on any finished garment I’ve made. Sometimes it is a pleasant surprise (it looks like it was going to be too small but it fitted or the cut/shaping is super flattering) and otherwise less so…..it’s not necessarily that I don’t like it but that it doesn’t look the way I had seen it in my head. I’m having that problem with my Robin  jumper at the moment. It’s come out waaaaaaaay bigger than expected and is looking very different to what I thought I was making!

You would think that I would have learned by now that as my knitting is so loose and everything I make comes out huge that I need to make the very smallest size and even then go down a few needle sizes. Perhaps you’d even think that I’d finally start checking my gauge properly and trying things on as go. But no…..for some reason I can’t comprehend the making of an extra small, it feels too cold to take off one jumper to try on a half finished one and I’m wedded to be 3.25mm needles  for 4 ply (even when I know that the fabric is looking rather open and distinctly unlike the picture on the pattern).

In my defence I find that working on a loose fabric is much easier on my arthritis. I think that it reduces the strain on my hands. Recently I was working with an aran weight on 4mm needles to get gauge (it was a hat for someone else so I was forced to make an effort) and the stiff fabric was so much tougher on my hands (even with my lovely cubic needles) that I could only work on it for half an hour or so at a time. I fear I am consigned to a life time of over sized garments unless I buck up my ideas and start measuring/trying on/adapting things!

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Here’s my jumper blocking on the spare bed.

Anyway back, to the Robin. I shamelessly copied Kathryn when I saw her making this in the summer. I  like the shape (I am a big fan of bat-wing sleeves) and also the stripes. I decided it would be perfect for the Du Store Alpakka Tynn Alpakka I picked up while we were in Norway. I love the shade of green, it’s muted and subtle but still pretty interesting. As this wool is pretty hard to get in the UK I had to use Garnstudio DROPS Alpaca for the stripe. The two are fairly similar so I wasn’t too worried about them looking odd. I tried out various colours with the green and went with grey in the end. For some reason I thought I would need loads of wool for the stripes and ordered three balls of the grey! In the end I only used one….

The pattern was super duper easy to follow, it’s a top-down raglan with short row shaping at the neckline and at the back and some stripes to keep life interesting. The only problems I had were occasionally getting carried away and forgetting the stripes and doing something odd with my first lot of short row shaping on the back. Other than that it sailed along smoothly and was a very relaxing project to get along with. A perfect TV watching bit of knitting.

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Here’s what it should look like……..

I knew as I was going along that it was looking pretty big. I suspected that it was going to be baggy but I didn’t realise until it was blocked and dried and I had put it on quite how big it would end up! It’s massive! I suspect that it doesn’t help that I’m only 5’2”……

There’s something of the 90s grunge about it that I wasn’t expecting, it’s something to do with the extent of the bagginess and the length I think. I  was decidedly unsure at first. But it’s really growing on me now! It may not be super flattering but it’s very comfy with nice long sleeves to keep my hands warm.  Anyway, I rather liked the 90s first time around so there’s no harm in getting on board with it again! Maybe I should get myself some Doc Martins as well……….

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Knitting with cotton

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I don’t knit with cotton very often. I tend to get into a bit of a habit with the yarns I pick and use the same one over and over again. This means that every now and again I realise that all of my knitwear is made out of the same stuff and have to force myself to use something else! My current obsession is Drops Alpaca which I have a tendency to buy in very similar shades.   So much so that a few weeks ago at the knit night at my friend Maya’s awesome shop (excuse the plug but it is a really lovely shop!) someone pointed out that I was knitting one jumper in exactly the same wool, in exactly the same shade, as the jumper  I was wearing. I rather meekly tried to point out that it was a different dye lot but I don’t think that helped my case…..

I’ve recently had a custom order for my Etsy shop for a nice lady who is allergic to wool which gave me an excellent opportunity  to work with  cotton for a change.  I haven’t knitted in cotton for years and I’d forgotten quite how lovely the stitch definition is and how pleasant it is to work with. Combined with some shiny new bamboo needles it was a total pleasure;  so smooth it practically knits itself!

On top of  how lovely it is to work with it’s also machine washable so I’m wondering why I don’t use it more often! I’m going to start thinking of a lovely summer cardigan that I can make in cotton…..

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Hélène by Veronik Avery- progress so far

I spotted Hélène by Veronik Avery on Ravelry a few weeks ago. I really like the pattern and I think it will make a lovely summer top. I’m very excited about it!

I had a look at the recommended wool which is Quince and Co. Sparrow. It looks lovely but it’s not the cheapest and totally out of my price range. Instead I’m trying it out with Garnstudio DROPS Baby Alpaca Silk. As you’ll know if you read the blog regularly I love Garnstudio; the quality is great and the prices are really reasonable.  I haven’t used this wool before but I’m really impressed so far, it so soft and silky and it feels much more expensive than £3.00 a ball! I love the muted green colour as well.

The project is worked in two pieces from sleeve to sleeve. This is the first time I’ve worked with a project like this. The front and back will need to match up exactly for it to work properly so it’s a little bit of a challenge for me (I can be a tad slapdash). The project gives a lot of the instructions based on measurements,  however, as this is lace project and it’s very stretchy it would be hard to be totally accurate.  To be sure that my front and back will match I’ve had to start counting the pattern repeats and making a note of how far I’ve got at certain points. My notes consist of a lot of 0.5 and 1+0.7 so I hope it all makes sense to me when I get to the back!

The lace pattern for this project is really simple and easy to remember. I haven’t quite got it off by heart yet but I’m sure that I will by the time I’ve finished.

I’m making the smallest size (32) and it is looking very small at the moment! The fabric is really stretchy and quite bunches up at the moment though so I’m confident that it will really grow when I block it out.