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!

Spring jumper

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It’s a coincidence that the flowers behind me are nearly the same colour as my jumper but I think it looks rather lovely.

Most people I know put away their wooly jumpers and cardigans as soon as the first hint spring comes. Not me! I love knitwear and being a knitter I have an exceptionally large collection. Luckily I am one of those people who is always cold so rather than bore my nearest and dearest moaning on about it I just carry on wearing my knitwear almost all year around (obviously it is occasionally too hot for a cardigan, I’m not cold blooded). Also as cold+ arthritis = pain I have an added incentive to keep knitting all year around.

If you read this blog regularly you’ll have noticed that I love Garnstudio DROPS Alpaca. I use it a lot because a) it’s cheap b) I like the colours and c) I like the texture. I’d highly recommend it. So far though I’ve never used it doubled up. I gave that a go with il grande favorito by Isabell Kraemer. 

I’ve had my eye on the pattern for a while. I love slouchy fluffy jumpers so it’s right up my street. It’s a bit of a simple knit though, lots of boring stocking stitch, so I wasn’t super excited about the process of knitting it. Once I got started I realised that it was going to be super fast. With the wool doubled up and 6mm needles the jumper zipped by. It can’t have taken me more than 3 weeks and those were 3 weeks of slack knitting as it was so dull. I got to use my cubic needles which is always a treat and much easier on my hands. I love my cubic needles and I just wish they made them in smaller sizes.

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I was very well behaved and made a tension square. I’m pleased I did it because it meant that the jumper was a fairly good fit. If anything I maybe should have made it a little bit bigger to accommodate my many voluminous tops. As you can tell by my happy little face I love this top. It’s really cozy, it has nice long sleeves and it’s a very pretty colour. I didn’t actually indeed to go for that sort of shade of lilac, I thought it would be more of a dirty pink. I got used to it while I was knitting it and now it’s really grown on me. Sometimes shopping for wool online can be a bit of a magic mystery tour where you don’t always get what you planned but you get something interesting. I’m very pleased and tempted to make myself another one in a bigger size in grey for the winter…..

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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Larch Cardigan by Amy Christoffers

While I’m fiddling around with lace and counting repeats with my Hélène by Veronik Avery I need a simple project when my brain needs a break. The Larch Cardigan by Amy Christoffers fits the bill perfectly.

I”m making it with Garnstudio DROPS Alpaca in grey. I’ve used the exact same wool and in the exact same colour before and I really liked it so I’ve decided to use it again. I’m after a really loose fabric so I’ve used 3.5mm needles.

I’m very please with progress so far and I’m very excited about finishing it!