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!

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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Super cute jumper for a super cute little person

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Some excellent layering going on here. A very stylish baby!

I really enjoy knitting baby clothes. They are so small and cute, they don’t need any shaping and they come together super fast. What’s not to enjoy!

This jumper is for baby Frances who is a particularly adorable little person. Well, really it’s for her lovely mum Kerry but you know what I mean! I’ve been a bit tardy with my ‘welcome to the world’ present as she’s nearly 6 months old now…..still at least it’s jumper wearing season now!

As Kerry is a knitter I decided to go through her Ravelry queue. This was a very fruitful approach but also made me feel like some kind of crazed stalker……I was feeling very clever when I came up with this approach but as I started work on the jumper I realised that I might be depriving a fellow knitter of a project that she actually wanted to make not just own…then I remembered that new mums don’t have much time for knitting and carried on!

I picked Livingston by Nadia Crétin-Léchenne in the end. It’s cute, it features buttons and the little seagulls are very sweet. I also liked the fact that the sizes went up quite a bit to allow for some growing room (If I’m making someone a jumper I want them to be able to wear it for more than 5 minutes!).  I used Rowan Cashsoft 4 Ply which I had left over from Emelie. I have no idea why this wool was discontinued! It’s lovely and soft and it goes in the washing machine!

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The pattern itself was a little random. This is the first time I’ve come across a bottom up raglan….. and to be honest I couldn’t quite figure out why that approach was taken. I was feeling far too lazy to adapt it to be top down though so I just knitted it as it was suggested.

The seagull repeat was really easy to follow. After a couple of rounds I didn’t even need to look at the pattern. Once I got the part where the sleeves and body where joined together it got a bit confusing (the original pattern is in French so I suspect meaning may have been lost in translation)  so I just ignored the instructions and had a guess and it worked out fine!

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Both mum and baby like the jumper and it looks super duper cute on. It’s nice and baggy so there’s growing room and room for layers underneath. I’m told that the style is good for little people too as the opening at the top makes it nice easier to get on. All in all I’m very pleased!

Aarrrrrrrrgggghhh!!! (or how annoying it is to have to unravel your knitting and start again…)

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I did lots of knitting on the doomed cardigan on holiday in Norway

I was making a Funky Grandpa by La Maison Rililie. I had been making it for a little while. It was in a splendid shade of orange  from Du Store Alpakka Mirasol (I ignored the stripes as I wanted a block colour). I was very very very excited about it. All was going very well. I was speeding along and had finished the body. I cast off. I tried it on. Disaster! Instead of the boxy baggy cardigan I was aiming for I’d made a sort of half fitted effort which was tight around the hips yet loose around the bust with oddly massive arm holes! Urgh! Plus I had a weirdly large amount of wool left.

Somewhere along the way I’d deviated from the pattern with hideous results. The magic of blocking wasn’t going to help me as the shape was all wrong and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t think of a way to fix it. I was very disappointed indeed. I put the cardigan away for a few days hoping to feel more positive towards it later (sometimes that works). I tried it on again. It was still awful. I repeated this process. Still nothing.

There was only one option……. Undo it all and start again! AAaaaaaarrrrggggh!

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I really love this colour! Look how much I’d done though 😦

A little while ago I encouraged sew much choice to figure out a way she could avoid undoing loads of beautiful colour work in her nearly finished paper dolls jumper to fix a problem with the sleeves. My suggestion worked and she was able to fix it which is super exciting (she even wrote me a nice blog post about it *blushes*). You would have thought that this good deed would have earned me some good knitting karma but sadly not. Instead I have learned an important lesson; stop being lazy and bother to try things on as I go!

I’ve since restarted the cardigan (feeling slightly resentful) and I think I’ve found where it all went wrong…. I have my fingers crossed. This had better be the most awesome cardigan in the world once its finished!

Relax by Ririko (and some strawberries)

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I am looking very happy because I have a hand full of strawberries from our strawberry patch

I would like to personally take the credit for the heatwave we are currently having in the UK. The moment I finished my Relax jumper by Ririko it got too hot to wear it. Given the poor effort at a summer we had been having I’m very pleased to see some sunshine but I’m still a little sad that I can’t wear my lovely new top!

This jumper is a Japanese pattern from a designer who I haven’t tried before. I love loose boxy jumper with fitted sleeves so the pattern looked like it would be right up my street. This one also has a bit of a bat-wing. I started a love affair with bat-wing jumpers in the 80s and frankly I still think they are awesome. The pattern was really easy to follow and the jumper was super simple to make. Lots of mindless stocking stitch which gave me a good opportunity to turn off my brain.

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I used Du Store Alpakka Fin which I got from Knit with Attitude in Stoke Newington. It cost a little more than the wool I usually use but it was definitely worth it. It’s a silk and alpaca mix and was lovely to knit with, the colour is really vivid without being garish (they have lots of great shades in this one) and the drape of the finished jumper is just what I wanted. I’m thinking about making another Boxy our of it.

The wool is a 4 ply and I used 3.25mm needles which gave a really nice open weave. I made the sleeves a little longer than the pattern suggested as I prefer long sleeves, I’m a but suspicious of jumpers with cropped sleeves. Cropped sleeves look good but I get cold arms and wrists and I hate being cold!

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Check out how well our strawberries are doing!

I’m really pleased with the way it has turned out. Although if I made it again I would change a few things:

  • I’d knit it in the round. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before. I could have saved myself loads of time seaming.
  • I’d take out the little pattern with the holes up the side. I’m not sure that it looks great.
  • I’d make it a little bit smaller and possibly a bit shorter.
  • I’d make the neck a bit wider.

I think this jumper will get a lot of wear!

Knitting in hospital

Another project in Drops Alpaca. I love Drops Alpaca!

If you follow me on Twitter you might have noticed that I have been going on about my wisdom teeth a lot… Yesterday I had the horrible painful things taken out! Hurrah!

As one of the wisdom teeth was impacted (growing grimly in the wrong direction- vertical into the next tooth rather than up- urgh!) I had to go to the hospital and have a general anaesthetic. I have a bit of a fear of hospitals and dentists so I was dreading the whole thing!

I was very lucky with the hospital ( a rather nice one in Barnet) and the nurses were super nice; really sweet and calming.  However, this being the NHS there was of course hours of waiting around.  Luckily I had been pre-warned about all the waiting and had brought my knitting along to keep me busy. I find knitting really relaxing so it was the perfect way to distract myself from:

a) Worrying about the operation and the potential of nerve damage (along with other implausible risks my brain was unhelpfully coming up with).

b)How hungry/thirsty I was (I had to fast beforehand and I get very grumpy when I am thirsty or hungry!).

It was a brilliant conversation starter with the lovely nurses. It made me feel much more relaxed to be able to chat away about my knitting and distract myself from what was coming.

I took along the Boxy by Joji Locatelli that I have been working on. It was the perfect project to take as all I need to do is go around and around with a knit stitch. I’m really excited about this project as I think it is going to be awesome when it’s finished. It’s very simple, so it will be a bit boring to knit, but it should be a lovely big drapey jumper.

The operation itself was a little bit grim. It turns out I have slightly rubbish veins and they had problems getting the little plastic tube in for the anaesthetic. They were all super nice but it REALLY hurt and my hands are bruised. In the end they had to give me gas to get me to sleep before putting the tube in.

I’m always really conscious when I moan about doctor/hospital based pain that as a woman who has never given birth I probably have a big shock coming in terms of pain! So I hope no mums reading this are bothered by my relative wimpishness!

I’m back home today and still feeling pretty weird and spacey from the general anaesthetic*. I’ve got lots of painkillers from the hospital and a fridge full of soup so today shouldn’t be too awful. I plan to spend the day having a nice rest and knitting.   Boxy will be perfect again as I won’t need to try and persuade my poor little brain to think!

*I am hoping that this post actually makes sense! 

My little Etsy shop

After much procrastination I have finally decided to dip my toe in the Etsy waters. I’ve been reluctant because a) I’m worried that no-one will want to buy anything and b)everyone else is doing it so I feel a bit like a cliché. As I’m probably already a huge crafty cliché I’ve decided to ignore the potential humiliation of not selling anything and have a go!

I don’t have a master plan to make mega bucks (which is good as it’s unlikely to happen- the profit margins would be terrible!) it’s just something lovely to do when I have less work booked in. I love being freelance but it can be a bit feast or famine sometimes and  making some things to sell will be a lovely  distraction from trying to bring in new clients via wishful thinking (incidentally that doesn’t work).

To make it super low risk I’ve started off with using wool that I already have. I’ve also chosen to make things that I will be able to use myself or give to friends as presents if it doesn’t work out. That way I’m hardly spending any money and get something back if it doesn’t work.

A little while ago I made myself some stirrup leg/ankle/foot warmers for yoga to keep my feet warm in the winter. I enjoyed making them and I’ve had quite a bit of interest in the free pattern I put up so I decided to start with making some of those. I really wanted to make something that I think is good quality and that I think looks pretty rather than fiddling about working out what would be the quickest and cheapest and running the risk of coming out with something rubbish. It’s a bit of a luxury to take that approach I guess as I’m not counting on the money to pay my rent. I’ve changed the pattern slightly to include more cables and made a DK and 4ply version. I’ve also made a really simple ribbed version for a super snug fit.

There are only three things in the shop at the moment so it’s very small. The way that Etsy is set up it looks a bit weird with only three things as it’s in columns of four and the images don’t resize so I have rather a lot of white space…… I’d planned to have quite a bit more done by now but I’ve had a few problems with my arthritis so I’m a slightly behind.

Anyway, if you’ve got 5 minutes have a quick look and see what you think. I’d appreciate any feedback about what I’ve made, how the photos look or pricing www.etsy.com/shop/lizzylikescake Cheers!