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……

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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Is it a jumper or is it a dress….

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As you can tell it’s snowing in London today!

If you’ve read my blog before you might have have noticed that there tends to me a certain theme with my hand knits: they always turn out bigger than they should do. You would think that I would have taken on board my incredibly loose tension and started to make gauge swatches and changing my wool and needle size accordingly like a good knitter should…… But no,  a combination of laziness and excitement to start means that never ever happens. Instead, what I do is go down a needle size or so (depending on the needles I can find lingering around the front room that haven’t yet been chewed up by our bunny) then have a guess and sort of see how it turns out.  Because I have arthritis in my hands I try to keep the weave pretty open anyway as tight knitting is much tougher on my hands (and leads to have to stop knitting for a few days which is no fun at all). This slap-dash approach, combined with the fact that I’m pretty short, can sometimes yield questionable results and enormous clothing…..

Luckily for me I tend to go for baggy stuff and so it doesn’t cause too much of a problem but every now and again things come out too big even for me…….This jumper is a case in point. It is enormous! It’s almost more of a dress that a jumper and given the width it could certainly double as maternity wear…..

I decided to make it on a bit of a whim. I was waiting for a wool delivery before I could start my Beatnik and I had a couple of balls of Garnstudio DROPS Alpaca left over from my awesome Boxy jumper. I had various other bits of Drops in other colours for the neckband and the sleeves and I was impatient to be knitting something (I really don’t like not having anything to knit). I thought the simplicity would be a good antidote to the cables in Beatnik.

I encountered my first problem while I was trying to buy the pattern. For a start it was $7.00 (I thought it would be too depressing to convert it to sterling)…. For that money you’d expect a pretty detail pattern which downloads straight away, right?  Wrong….. I had to wait a full 24 hours for the pattern to be available for download and then when I finally got it I was 2 pages. I one page of which was a picture! So, $7.00 for one page of pretty vague instructions! I am still a little annoyed about this as you can tell….

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Luckily the odds and ends of Drops I had lying around go together pretty well.

It’s a really easy jumper to make. You knit the yoke first from the bottom up on smaller needles and then pick up the stitches along the bottom. It’s a weird kind of raglan as you do all of the increases straight away at the top. That gives you the drapey pleats but also it gives you loads of stitches…… I imagine if you actually had the right gauge it would look pretty nice.

I’m not entirely sure if I like this top yet. As well as being massive there’s a pretty noticeable colour change where I switch dye lots about a quarter of the way down the top. Also I’m not really keen on the kind of empire line style and it feels like there’s too much fabric at the bottom. The neckline is also pretty wide…

On the plus side it’s really warm and I still love the colour (which is lucky as I now have two jumper in this shade). It’s also going to be awesome for days when I feel a bit tubby or intend to do a lot of eating. I’m really hoping it will grow on me!

I love my boxy jumper!

I pull the most stupid faces in pictures…..I have not missed my calling as a model…

For the past few days I’ve been anxiously checking my boxy jumper as it lay drying out on the bed. It’s one of those projects that was destined to be either awesome or awful. Now it’s finally dry I can confirm that it is an amazing jumper and I love it! I love the wool, the colour and the design.

My main concern as the jumper was blocking was that the bottom was going to curl up which would have looked a little bit rubbish. Even as it was laid out on the bed it was still rebelliously trying to  curl up. As I have never got around to buying blocking pins I had to improvise and weigh it down with some of the candles that were lying around the spare room. This appears to have worked so I think I’ll try the candle trick again!

It’s taken me a little bit longer than normal as I had to keep stopping because of my hands hurting. However, the pattern was really easy to follow and it was so simple that I barely had to engage my brain at all. When I buy clothes I tend to go for simple and block colours however when I’m knitting it’s so tempting to do something fancy with loads of patterns and exciting colours. However I’ve finally figured out that these more lively creations don’t go with my stuff and don’t get worn. It’s lucky for me that I don’t mind knitting simple stuff. Maybe I’ll start making fancier stuff for other people so I don’t get too bored…

I really need to tidy our bedroom….

I’ve used Garnstudio DROPS Alpaca again as I really like it. It’s much cheaper than other brands and it knits up really nicely. The only down side is that it looks a little messy before it’s blocked out and it absolutely has to be hand washed in cold water or it will go all weird (and I’m lazy and I’ll often shove my knitted things in the washing machine on a cold cycle and hope for the best).

Drape is really important for this jumper to work well and luckily the drops drapes really well. It’s a nice open weave with on 3.25mm needles and it falls really well.

It’s slightly worrying when you are working in the round as it looks HUGE! I didn’t realise until I’d cast off the arm holes that the outer edge of the tube is part of the sleeve. For me it goes almost up to my elbow. I should really have tried it on when I was knitting the arms as ideally I’d like them a little bit longer. The length is a bit ‘meh’ on me. Neither cropped or full length. I should have thought about this before as I am a massive fan of huge long sleeves. I think that’s the only think I’d change if I make another one.

Sometimes it’s great to have a simple project to knit!

The purl stitches are actually the same on both sides it’s just a slightly dodgy picture…..

It’s been a little while since my last post. I have been recovering from having my wisdom teeth out reeeeeeeeeeeeally sloooooooooowly! It’s been very frustrating and I can confirm that wishing yourself well and getting all upset about it isn’t an effective way of making yourself better. Indeed I think it make things take longer….. However I am once again able to eat actual food and off pain killers and antibiotics and I am very pleased about that.

While I have been feeling rubbish I have been very pleased to have my Boxy by Joji Locatelli to work on. I have made lots of progress as you can see. It was perfect for feeling grim (and dreaming of solid food) as it didn’t require me to use my brain in anyway; just knit around and around!

As you can see it is huge! I’ve made the smallest size.  While it was on the needles it looked stupidly big!  Once I’d bound off the shoulder though and  tried it on I realised that the outside edges actually form part of the sleeves. They go up to my elbows at the moment. My only concern now is how well it is going to drape. It’s a really light open fabric so I hope it will work nicely but there is a risk that it’ll be bulky under the arms.

At the moment the bottom is curling under. This is a little bit worrying as a curled-under bottom will look a bit odd in such baggy jumper. However when I made Larch it curled under at the bottom but came out after blocking so I’m hopeful that the same thing will happen again.

I’m really loving the colour that I have chosen. It’s a sort of oaty/biscuity brown tone (drops alpaca 0618 if you’re interested). When you’re ordering onlineIt can be pretty hit and miss in terms of exact shade ( I once thought I was ordering grey and ended up with purple) so its pleasing to guess right this time.

All I need to do now is pick up the stitches along the neckline and the sleeves and then I’m done. I’ve had to stop for a little while as my arthritis is playing up. It’s very annoying as I’m itching to get it finished as see how it looks!

Larch cardigan- finished!

It look a bit like the hem is uneven in this picture but it isn’t really I promise!

I’ve finished my Larch Cardigan by Amy Christoffers. I am very pleased with it indeed. So pleased in fact that I was happy to wear it for pictures on a day that is far too hot to need a cardy (I took it off straight afterwards).

I used Garnstudio DROPS Alpaca for this pattern and once again I loved it. It’s cheaper than most other alpaca, lovely to knit with and really soft to wear. I used some of the wool I had left over from making my Bridgewater Blanket which felt like another money saving. I really like the colour and think it’s great for a summer cardigan.

I used 3.5mm needles for a lovely open fabric.  I really like the way this has turned out in the final cardigan. It was a little tricky with the bind-offs as I had to make them really loose to stop the fabric from puckering around a really tight bind-off. Before blocking it looked a bit dodgy where I’d cast off around the neckline (before picking up the stitches) but now it looks fine.

If I was making it again I would add on little pockets like annabear2005 has done here. I think it looks really cool and I love pockets. However, it’s too late for that now so my only option is patch pockets. I have a little bit off wool left so I might give it a go.

As you can see I haven’t put any buttons on yet and I’m not sure if I will.  I tend to think that buttons just at the top emphasise your tummy and highlight any sign of a gut (this would particularly bad after lots of cake and I am very partial to cake).

The pattern was really well written and easy to follow and over all this was a very simple knit. Picking up the stitches for the collar was a bit annoying but I got into the rhythm of it in the end. It took me a little while to figure out that I needed to stop picking up stitches at the end of the curve before the straight cast off stitches. The twisted rib became very tedious in the end but it looks nice so it was worth it.

All in all I am very pleased!