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!

Thief!

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It’s always upsetting when something gets nicked but it’s particularly horrible when it’s something you’ve made yourself. On Friday I was in the pub and another customer apparently decided that they were a bit cold and would like to warm themselves up by wearing my beloved Autumn Leaves scarf home! I should add that it’s quite a nice pub where the beer is fairly expensive and the customers can afford to buy their own accessories. It’s a bit silly to get overly attached to an inanimate object but I loved that scarf! 😦 I get very cold and pretty much hate winter but it’s so reassuringly big and cozy and colourful that it brought me much needed cheer. It took me a little while to make but I’ve worn it pretty constantly through this winter and last winter.

Now, I like a drink now and again (ahem…) and if I’d had one too many and forgotten it I would only have myself to be cross with. But I really can’t fathom what sort of person steals something that is so obviously handmade and irreplaceable and really of no value to anyone but me. I’ve had wallets stolen before of course (I lived in London for seven years) but I understand that as it’s skint people who are after money. It’s crappy and upsetting but it makes sense. This is something totally different……It’s not like there’s any chance that whoever took it thought it was theirs either! I’m really very confident that no-one else has made themselves the exact same pattern of scarf in the same wool….

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So, should you happen to be walking about in Cambridge and spot someone snugged up in my beautiful (and frankly rather distinctive) toasty scarf you will know they are a thief! I haven’t got the heart to make myself a new one at the moment so for the moment I will be looking very grumpy and a bit cold…….

Christmas Knitting

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Knotty but nice hat

This year I decided to make some little presents for my family for Christmas. I know that some people hate home made presents but my family are a crafty bunch so I don’t feel  too guilty!

For my sister’s boyfriend I made a Knotty but Nice hat by Natalie Larson. I went for an aran weight to make things a bit quicker. My first try came out huuuuuge so I took out a pattern repeat to make it a bit more head sized!  I’m hoping I haven’t gone too far the other way and made it too small…….

The pattern is a free one from Knitty. It’s well written and clear and takes no time at all.  I used Viking of Norway Eco-Ull  which was a treat to knit with. It looks nice and robust but isn’t too scratchy on the hands.

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Turn a square

For my Dad I made Turn A Square by Jared Flood. I’ve tried this pattern before but it came out far too big. I think my gauge is a bit off for Brooklyn Tweed patterns. In the end I took out quite a few stitches to get it to a more reasonable size.

I used Viking of Norway Eco-Ull again. The cream and the brown really compliment each other. I’ve made my Dad a hat before which he’s worn so I’m hopeful that he’ll like this one!

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For my sister I made another pair of  Merletto Mitts . I used the same modifications as I used for mine as I think we probably have similar sized hands. I used drops alpaca which is more or less my favourite wool to work with. The colour hasn’t come out very well in the pictures. In the flesh it’s a very dark purple. My sister loves purple so its perfect for her. It was a bit annoying to work with though because it’s so dark I could hardly see what I was doing.

Hopefully everyone will like their presents!

Autumn leaves stole – just in time for the weather getting colder!

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Ideally I would have used some lovely pictures taken in the park with lots of lovely autumn leaves around but it’s mainly been raining so you’ll have to make do with a self-timer picture and a messy bedroom….

Autumn knitting can often be a race against time to get your toasty new garments ready for the weather to turn. I’m sure that there are organised people out there who start at the end of summer to make sure they have their stuff ready on time but I am not one of them! Luckily for me the autumn has been pretty mild in the UK so far and I have cast off my Autumn Leaves Stole just in time for the winter chill to start creeping in!

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I used Garnstudio DROPS Alaska in 58 Senf. It felt like a bold choice when I ordered it as I often stick to greys and browns but I love it!  I’m really into oranges and yellows at the moment, it must be the change of seasons! The wool was a total bargain £1.60 a ball from The Wool Warehouse. I was slightly concerned that the wool wouldn’t be soft enough when I first started knitting with it but now it’s been washed it’s lovely and soft!

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This is the first project I’ve made on my cubic needles. I’m really pleased with them and I’m sure that they have helped my hands. Luckily you can’t spot where I switched from round needles to the cubics!

The pattern is really simple to follow and the repeats are easy to remember. It looks like it’s going to be quite small until you block it and then it grows massively!  I was really good and did a proper kitchener stitch to joint the two pieces together. I’m glad I made the effort as it looks really good and you can’t see the join at all!

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I wanted to make sure that I didn’t lose the points at the end of the leaves and the width of the stole in blocking so I made more effort that usual. I stretched it right out and fiddled about until I could find an angle that I could fit it across the bed (it’s massive so that was a bit difficult!) and then pinned it down to the duvet. I wasn’t quite sure if it  would work or if the pins would rust but in the end it turned out just fine!

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Here it is blocking out the (slightly messy) spare bed. I’m not sure what I thought that towel would achieve!

I’m super pleased with how it’s turned out. I’ve worn it a couple of times now and it’s really warm and snuggly plus the colour is so cheerful on a dark rainy day.

Cubic needles – easier for arthritic hands?

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Here are my cubic needles in my Autumn Leaves stole. If you look closely you can see that they are square!

A little while ago my friend Maya mentioned that she’d heard  really good things about cubic needles being useful for knitters with arthritis in their hands. I’m always on the hunt for anything that will help me to be able to knit more and for longer so I was super keen to give them a go. Apparently the shape is more ergonomic and according to the makers reduces “hand fatigue”.

As my birthday was coming up I decided to see if any of my family members might treat me to a set of cubic needles. I guess I could have tried out a fixed needle first to see how I go on  but I’ve been wanting an interchangeable set for quite a few years now and it seemed like a good opportunity.  Luckily my Mum and Dad were happy to help me out.

I got the interchangeable Knit Pro Symfonie Rose set from Knit with attitude. They are a lovely dark wood and the packing is lovely. It all fits neatly into one little case with all of the needles and cables tucked away – a far cry from my tangle of individual circular needles! I sometimes feel like my knitting and knitting paraphernalia takes over much of the front room so it’s nice to have at least one thing that packs away nicely!

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It’s not quite as yellow as this in real life

I’ve started using them on my Autumn Leaves Stole. I’ve been a bit naughty and switched over needles part way through the project. It might give me some gauge based issues later on but I didn’t care as I was really excited to use them.

It was a bit weird knitting with square needles to start with. It took a few rows to get into the rhythm (and get used to the risk of being jabbed by a corner). Now that I’m used to them I’m really enjoying working with them. The wood is lovely to the use and the stole is looking great. Wood is so much nicer than metal!

It’s hard to tell at this early stage if they are helping my hands or not. I’m inclined to feel that they are but that could be wishful thinking on my part! I’ve certainly been able to have several evenings in a row knitting with them and not gone to bed with painful joints so it’s looking very promising!

My only problem with them is the sizes; for some reason they only start at a 4mm. Given that the needles I use most often are 2.75mm and 3.25mm that is a bit annoying. The 2.75mm in particular causes me problems with my hands so I would have been super keen to see if a cubic version would have helped. I tried to order them but they don’t actually make them….. I guess that I am fairly unusual in having a preference for 4ply over DK and aran and they just don’t have the demand for the smaller needles so they don’t make them. My problem with the heavier weigh wools is that they are much bulkier and less flattering plus they tend to lack drape. I really want to use my new needles though so I will be searching out decent DK and aran patterns to find something I actually like!

Wedding blanket – Umaro by Jared Flood

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I have a confession to make; I am not massive fan of wedding lists. It’s not that I hate them, or that I think the concept is a bad (who wouldn’t want to go around John Lewis picking out awesome things? I would love that!) it’s just that when it comes to close friends I prefer to give something personal.

This weekend I went to the wedding of two good friends of mine. They are both awesome so I wanted their present to be special. I had a good old think about it and decided that it had to be a handmade present. I opted for a blanket as I thought it would be something that would be pretty and useful.

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I’ve had my eye on Umaro by Jared Flood for quite a while so I decided to go for that one. I really like the pattern plus it’s knitted with super bulky wool and huge needles which makes it a faster project. I used Garnstudio DROPS Andes and 9mm needles. I really like the Garnstudio wools; they are affordable and good quality and there are various internet suppliers now. I needed rather a lot of wool for this and in the end I’d only just ordered enough!

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After a little bit of initial confusion (I always seem to manage to mess up the first row of a lace pattern, I have no idea how!) the pattern was really simple to follow. When you first read the cable rows on the chart the instruction to slip stitches onto two different cable needles seems very odd indeed. However it’s fine once you get going and it isn’t too fiddly at all. I didn’t get around to buying new cable needles so I used the ones I had hanging around which were different sizes and too small but it doesn’t seem to have caused any issues with the finished blanket.

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It’s huge! Here it is blocking out on the spare bed.

I started the project quite a while ago as I (rightly) suspected that I would get bored of it after a while. Because of the needle size it grew really quickly and I had a real sense of satisfaction being able to see what I’d achieved from an evening of knitting. As I mainly use 4 ply it made a change to be able to see progress!

When the project started to get big it got pretty tricky to work on. It was quite heavy and a little bit cumbersome. I had to be really careful how I sat to spread the weight of the project. Even then it was a little too much for the needles which detached themselves from the cable and had to be held on with tape (which kept falling off).

I’m really pleased with the finished blanket and I hope my friends enjoy it!

Scandinavian Sweater with Textured Star Pattern on Yoke by Hjertegarn

The jumper is actually slightly less red than it looks in this picture

Sometimes my Mum spots crafty things in magazines and cuts them out for me. Before Christmas she spotted a jumper pattern in the Radio Times.  The pattern is based on the red jumper that Sarah Lund wears in the second series of The Killing.

I’ve never actually got around to watching The Killing (I can’t knit and watch the subtitles!)  but it looked like quite a nice jumper so I wanted to give it a go. Having looked at a couple of pictures it’s not an exact copy but it does use a similar star pattern in purl stitches.

For once I actually used the recommended wool Hjertegarn Lima. As it was cheap I wanted to give it a go. While I enjoy the really bright red shade the wool is really scratchy and not great fun to knit with. I’m hoping that after blocking it’ll be a bit softer to wear. I’m not sure I’ll use it again though as I’m hurrying to finish so that I don’t have to knit with this wool anymore!

It’s a fairly simple pattern without any waist shaping. The body and sleeves are knitted in the round and then joined into one piece at the bottom of the arm hole (I haven’t described that very well but its similar to the construction of owls by Kate Davies). However while the approach is simple the pattern is confusing:

  • Both the body and the sleeves came up very small when I knitted the suggested 35cm and 45cm so I had to increase the length.
  • The description of the sleeve decreases was very confusing. I opted for alternating a decrease at row 8 and row 6 as my best guess of what they meant.
  • I’m making the smallest size and I’ve gone down half a needle size but it looks quite big. Hopefully it’ll come out comfy baggy rather than unflattering baggy- there’s a fine line!

I’ve been knitting for quite a few years but I still I found some of the description in the pattern hard to follow. I wonder if there might be some translation issues. There are also a few random brackets that have snuck it which means you have to read some sections twice for it to make sense. I’ve been making a lot of Jared Flood patterns recently and they are really clear and very well written so I wonder if I have been spoilt by that a little bit.

I’m at the yoke now and should be finished very soon and I’m hopeful that it will come out well. If it works I will of course forgive all of the confusion of the pattern.