It turns out colour work is not for me!

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I’m very into boxy shaped jumpers and cardigans at the moment so when I spied the Peace and Love sweater  I was super keen. I was slightly concerned that not many people had made it but I put that down to a limited selection of sizes and maybe the challenging colour work.

I decided that this jumper would give me a good opportunity to try out Garnstudio DROPS Merino Extra Fine which I’ve had my eye on for a while. There’s only so much alpaca a girl can knit and sometimes I need a rest from it!  I’m not normally one for copying the exact colour of the sample but this time I couldn’t resist the lovely dark grey. I love grey.  The merino was a treat to work with and is nice and soft against my skin. It’s also a bargain at £3.10 a ball! 

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I made the small and it’s come out a bit bigger than it should have done. This was no massive surprise as my gauge was totally off. I think the pattern was made for a smaller DK wool. Because of the arthritis in my hands I have to be careful of working with too stiff a fabric. My 3.5mm needle tension square was already pushing it a bit so I couldn’t really go any smaller. I think the final size is pretty good actually and any smaller would have been too small. For me it’s more important to enjoy the process than have perfect tension.

In case you haven’t seen it the jumper should look like this:

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The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed that the original version (above) has a lovely bit of colour work going on and mine…. ummmmm…..doesn’t. I tried, I really did. I wound some little bobbins with wool and a had a valiant go but whatever I did it turned out rubbish, the tension was all wrong, the edges looked weird and all in all it just wasn’t quite good enough. It was so disastrously bad I couldn’t bring myself to take a picture of any of the attempts.

Proof I tried to do the colour work!

Proof I tried to do the colour work! I cut out some little bobbins and everything!

After I admitted defeat with the colour work I thought I would be all clever and replace the colour stitches with a purl. This was looking great and I’d completed almost all of the pattern before I realised that I’d managed to do it off centre. Ahhhhhhhhhhh! It was about the 5th time I’d had to start again and I can’t bring myself to rub out the marking on my pattern and start  yet another time so I decided that fate wanted me to have a plain jumper. I prefer plain jumpers anyway.

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This is the first jumper I’ve made for ages that needs to be seamed. I’d forgotten how tedious it can be! It took hours and was very dull. I’m not 100% sure that the sleeves are set in as well as they could be  (I’d prefer them to sit a little bit flatter) but otherwise I’m pleased.

The sleeve length indicated that the pattern was a little shorter than I prefer. I planned to make them just a little bit longer but accidentally made them huuuuuuuge. As I was sewing them up I was very worried indeed. However, now that it’s finished I am loving the long sleeves. They are ideal for the winter and keep my poor hands warm, like built in hand warmers!

I’m very happy with the jumper and have been wearing it loads now that the weather has turned cold. I love the colour and the fabric and the shape is great, perfect!

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Hey Girl cardigan

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Before Christmas I went along to a craft show with my mum and I found some Rowan Purelife in DK on sale. I haven’t used a DK in ages and I was taken with the colours.

It took me a while to find the right pattern for it. I wanted it to be a fairly classic cardigan with a V neck. Because the wool is variegated I needed a simple design that wouldn’t fight with the grey and white but wouldn’t be too boring. I hunted around for a bit and came up with the Hey Girl pattern by Bonne Marie Burns.

It’s taken me a quite a long time to finish the cardigan. The combination of 3.5mm needles and DK wool made for a very stiff fabric which was pretty tough on my hands. I couldn’t work on it for very long and when I did it wasn’t very comfortable. That probably would’ve have been too much of a problem if I’d been more excited about the project however as useful as plain raglan cardigans are they are super boring to work on!

The pattern was well written and easy to follow. I went with the plain version because there was already enough going on with the wool to need to bother with a textured stitch. I ignored the waist shaping because I wanted it a bit less fitted and more boxy. I also ignored the instructions for sewing up the neckband. I tried the whip stitch the pattern suggested but it looked really crappy and the seam was very obvious do I undid it and sewed it up with a mattress stitch which looked much better. It left things a little bulky but once blocked looked much better.

When I was making the body of the cardigan I put the sleeve on some orange scrap wool. After a while I got really attached to the combination of the orange with the grey/cream. I decided to see how it would look it I finished off the edges in orange. I wasn’t 100% sure at first but now I love it!

Because there were so many colours I wasn’t quite sure what to do about the buttons. I tried various combinations of grey and wooden buttons but it just didn’t look right. I thought orange would look pretty awesome but it turns out that orange buttons are virtually impossible to get hold of. I was having one last look in Dalston Mill and I spotted some lovely cream ones. I bought them on a whim and turned out that they were perfect.

Despite the fact that I hated this cardigan for most of the time I was knitting it I love it now that it is finished! It’s cozy, warm and comforting and the colours work really well. I’m so taken with it that I might make myself another one in a different colour.

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Toasty warm hands

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Last year I made myself a new pair of hand warmers and then promptly left them at a friend’s house. I couldn’t be doing with making a replacement pair straight away so I went back to a tatty old pair and kept them for the rest of the winter. They have now started to unravel rather a lot and are making me look a bit like Fagin so I finally gave in and started making a new pair.

I treated myself to some lovely Mirasol Tuhn which is a blend of baby llama, merino and angora. It’s super soft and I love the rich red. It came from my lovely friend Maya’s wool shop Knit with Attitude. Maya has just moved into a new shop on Stoke Newington High Street and it’s lovely! If you live in North London you should go along and check it out!

I was feeling a bit lazy so I made up the pattern. It’s a really simple cable with increases for the thumb. I thought I’d be really careful in writing down what I did for the first hand warmer ….. however when I went back to my notes to make the second it turned out that I’d just scribbled down some random numbers which didn’t make much sense…. I tried to guess what I’d done which more or less worked except for the thumb. I’m not entirely sure how I managed it but the second thumb is considerably bigger than the first. Really I should have gone back and re-done it but I was so keen to get them finished and have toasty warm hands that I decided to just ignore it! I don’t think anyone will notice when I have them on!

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!

One and a half leg warmers…..

One and a half legwarmers

In the winter my feet get cold at the start of a yoga session. I’ve been meaning to get myself some leg warmers to help with extra warmth for a while. I haven’t wanted to buy any as it seems silly to buy an expensive acrylic pair when I can knit a pair myself.

Now that it’s getting chilly I really want warm feet so I finally got going. I found some Rowan Baby Alpaca that a friend had given me when she moved back to the US and made a start. I started with a bit of ribbing and put in a cable pattern.  For extra foot warmth I decided on stirrup leg warmers. I tend to pull my leggings down over my feet for yoga anyway so that would give me super toasty ankles.

For the stirrup I cast off stitches on one round and then cast on the same number on the next round. I finished off with ribbing and then picked up the stitches along the cast off and cast on edges and added in some ribbing. The wool is really soft, a pleasure to knit with, and so cozy.

It was all going really well. I finished the first leg warmer I was really pleased with the way it looked and I started on the second. I was congratulating myself on my free leg warmers. Then, less than half way through the second one I realised that I was going through wool much faster than I needed to be and didn’t have anywhere near enough left to finish it off! It looks like quite a bit in the picture but I promise it’s no where near enough!

My first plan was to get some extra wool.That was until I realised that Rowan don’t make that colour any more…….I didn’t have any luck on ebay either so I’ve had to accept that I’ll be struck with one and a half leg warmers and I’ll have to start again…. When I am feeling less annoyed about it I’ll get myself down to the shops for some new wool.  I’ll have myself a nice new pair of leg warmers eventually!

Olive green cable jumper

I’ve finally got around to making a jumper for my boyfriend. He picked the pattern himself and I think he’s made a very good choice! He’s opted for 135-36 Jumper for men with textured pattern in Karisma by DROPS design. It’s a free pattern and although it hasn’t been that popular on Ravelry I think it’s really nice.

I’ve used Garnstudio DROPS Karisma Superwash as the pattern suggests. This is the first time I’ve used this wool and I really like it. It’s reasonably cheap, feels very and nice and will go in the washing machine so it’s perfect. I think I’ll use it again. I wasn’t sure about the colour at first but it’s growing on me.

 

I’m always a little nervous when making things for other people so I’ve been putting it off a little bit. I love knitting things for people but I really worry when I’m knitting about getting everything perfect. It’s one thing for me to wear a jumper or cardy with a few accidental modifications but I wouldn’t want to force that on someone else. After all if someone has taken the time to hand knit you something you’re going to have to wear it at least a little bit…

So, because I want it to be as near perfect as I can get I’m finding myself taking much more care not to go wrong and when I do go wrong I’ve actually been going back and fixing it rather than just leaving it or sort of bodging it like I normally do. The pattern is repetitive with a few knit and purl stitches and a couple of cables every 12 rows or so. For some reason the more simple a pattern is the more likely I am to go wrong. I guess that as it’s so simple I’m not concentrating that much and so making little errors here and there. There’s been more ripping out than I’d like with this pattern!

Cozy red jumper

My Scandinavian Sweater with Textured Star Pattern on Yoke by Hjertegarn is finished!

As you can see it’s huge!  If it was a couple of inches longer it could be a dress. When I was knitting it I was sure that the body was coming up small so I adding on about 10cm. Clearly I could have trusted the pattern! Even though its not what I had in mind when I started I really like the extra length. It feels big and warm and cozy and it’s perfect for a frosty day like today. As it doesn’t have any shaping it’s slouchy while I really like. Lots of room for winter comfort eating!

Compared to what I usually wear it's very bright. I'm getting used to it and it's quite cheering on a grey day.

As you can see from the picture the pattern is very subtle. It’s a star pattern in purl stitches. The subtle pattern was a little annoying to knit as it was difficult to see the pattern forming and I had to pay much more attention to the chart than I normally would. On the plus side in a subtle pattern it’s easy to hide mistakes.  I like the finished effect although if I was doing it again I would work the star pattern in a different colour.

I'm not sure what that white thing is on my sleeve....I think it might be a blob of moisturizer on my mirror

The wool was scratchy when I was knitting with it but actually it’s fine to wear. Less itchy than some of the other wool jumpers I’ve made. I was a bit naughty and put it through the washing machine on a cold wash and it’s come out just fine.

Overall I made the following modifications:

  • increased the body to 47cm (up to arm hole)
  • increased sleeves to 50 cm (I like my sleeves long)
  • final 4 decreases along raglan rather than on body
  • I stopped decreasing at 108 stitches and started the rib (I don’t like necklines too high).

I’ve always been a little bit slapdash about weaving in my ends in the past but on this project I knew that it would really show up so I decided to do it properly. I found an article in Knitty which explained it really clearly and it’s given me a lovely clean finish and you can’t see it at all at the front.

All in all I’m very pleased. In fact I’m wearing it right now!