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different yarns

Have you ever had unexpected results when knitting? Sometimes a yarn that looks pretty knits up to something quite ho-hum. I’ve had that experience recently with Lincraft Big Wool, a soft, fifty-fifty wool and acrylic yarn. It’s a thick/thin yarn described as roving style and I bought dye lot 18308, a denim mix. It knitted up in blobs of colour and texture that looked clumsy; and it didn’t matter how I tried, that flat seam was never going to be invisible. The hat is OK – it even looks all right on Dr B; and YoungB rightly said it’s nice and warm – but perhaps not for gifting to anyone. Dang. There went that bit of birthday knitting!

Quite an obliging hat model, don't you think! However, colour and texture in the hat itself are best described as lumpy.

Quite an obliging hat model, don’t you think! However, colour and texture in the hat itself are best described as lumpy.

And then sometimes, a yarn that looks all right if not spectacular knits up to something impressive. I have what is probably a love-hate relationship with Moda Vera Bouvardia yarn. It’s soft and there’s a lovely range of colours but most of them also have bits of utterly unrelated and not flattering colour within the skein and in the past, I’ve found the skeins to have significant amounts of knots. I think you’d agree, that’s frustrating at best, particularly if you don’t notice the knot till you’re halfway through a long row. This one proved a lovely exception. There were no knots and it has knitted up to an overall look that’s dark but not dull. The resulting hat/beanie is so nice I almost don’t want to give it away to anyone!

Soft yarn and a pretty colour mix.

Soft yarn, smooth texture and a pretty colour mix. Nice hat!

These are a couple of my recent concurrent-with-mitts projects that I can knit at the table, listening to vigorous discussion as to what movie we might watch, and not fear I’ll make a mistake. The first is made using my Villawool Inca hat pattern, the second pretty much of my own reckoning with some assistance from the Yarn Harlot’s Knitting Rules as to decreasing. You need plain projects but the results don’t have to be plain.

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Posted by on April 16, 2013 in Knitting

 

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FO and a sort of plan for next year

I hope you’ve all enjoyed your Christmas celebrations, whatever form they took.

An FO? Yes, just one: the White Caps Cowl, which I was knitting till almost 9 o’clock on Boxing Day morning (luckily for me, it wasn’t needed until lunchtime; but, yes, it was somewhat necessarily, therefore, gifted unblocked). Sewing? A few lavender bags. Other knitting? None. Surviving the end-of-year busy-ness was sufficient achievement. And, as I’ve yet to send cards, I’m not too sure if we have survived. I’m going to call them New Year cards, though. But, you know, we made it through a festival of feasts and visits by friends and family, a birthday, a wedding anniversary, exam results, exploding champagne, a concert or two and lots of everyday stuff that included inordinate amounts of time dedicated to fitness pursuits (no, not me; that was everyone else while I was playing laundry lady).

What can I say about the White Caps Cowl? I adapted it slightly in terms of number of repeats. I think it’s probably a make that would knit to a nicer finish in its recommended yarn but I’m quite taken by the weight of the Patons Sorrento, the hint of glamour it provides with the slightly shimmering aspect of its mixed fibre and the smooth contrast of the Cleckheaton Bamboo. As far as knitting went, the bamboo was much easier on the hands and I was able to make reasonable progress. The variable thickness of the Sorrento slowed me down quite a lot. It hasn’t put me off by any means, as I’ve stocked up my cupboard with enough yarn to make a couple more of the White Caps Cowls throughout the year (it really is good on-the-bus knitting and I love the look of it). I might not use a faux seam with another make; it doesn’t really ring my bells. The photo was taken hurriedly with my phone, prior to wrapping; excuse background (bedcover) and less than ideal lighting.

Flat cowl

Not exciting but looks better in action

One of our visiting friends has put in a couple of knitting requests and I’ll be happy to oblige her with a Villawool Inca L574 hat in a colour scheme to her liking (that will be a reasonably fast knit, even at my pace). I’ve yet to decide on the yarn for that (the Villawool Inca being no longer available) but am fairly sure I could manage it from stash, which you’d have to consider a win. Hardly surprisingly, the really thick winter yarns are somewhat thin on the shelves at this time of year. There will also be a three-colour linen stitch scarf though I have absolutely no intention of making it as long as its predecessor. I understand about long scarves and cold climes, truly I do; but there is a point beyond which the extra length simply gets in the way. I bought yarn for that yesterday at Spotlight. I would like to make one for myself but will wait and see how other things pan out before I make that a firm promise/plan.

I started something akin to a prayer shawl – perhaps a care shawl – for a colleague who has had a rotten year by anyone’s standards. I won’t finish it quickly (the needle size is just on the edge of my comfort zone and I struggle to find a rhythm even with the very easy pattern) but it might be ready for her April birthday. In any case, she’s not expecting it so in some respects I have as much leeway as I need on that one.

The yarn bombing coordinator rang the other day to ask for more contributions: red hearts and lots of roses, not necessarily red, for another yarn bombing project, the previous one in Victoria Square having been hailed as such a success. I’ve already crocheted up a few test roses which will be perfectly acceptable contributions and am looking around for a heart pattern that looks sufficiently heart-like and sufficiently large. I think this one fits the bill. I know where the drop-off point is and I have my dark glasses at the ready so I can ensure my hearts and flowers are there before the due date. You might not be surprised to hear that Dr B and YoungB have somewhat taken this yarn bombing idea and run with it, referring to secret language, pack leaders and cell members as if it were an underground movement. I humour them. At least they’re not objecting!

In sewing news, I’ve repaired YoungB’s Draggins (kevlar-reinforced motorcycling jeans) again, having previously taken up the hem by the amount he requested. Anyone who knows about jeans will understand that much use had seen them sag to a point where the hems were in shreds. This time I cut off the original and new hems and turned them up twice. They might look a shade short were he to wear them with loafers but as that’s unlikely – his motorcycling gear has been carefully chosen to enable him to wear it all day, boots included (though I’d accept that leathers in winter are for on the bike and not much else) – then we reckon that this time they won’t catch on his boots nor drag on the ground. That’s not the sort of drag the brand intends although I’ll be very happy if it’s the only sort this pair of jeans ever encounters.

I still haven’t managed to make a new top for myself or tinkered with my rescued skirt and stripey trousers to create the jacket I’d half-imagined could be made from them, using Portia’s kimono-tee pattern as inspiration (it’s a winner; I’ve already used it to make five tops of varying degrees of respectability). They will happen at some point, I suppose. However, I have received my Pattern Pyramid winnings from Meg and will undoubtedly have something to show you from that; but not just yet. So if you’ve been eagerly awaiting the announcement, take this as advance warning. I’m still rather run off my feet and although – o frabjous day! – I have managed to clear the sewing table (nearly, anyway), I have a couple of other urgent tasks that simply have to be done before I can allow myself to be frivolous.

All in all, I think 2013 is going to be just like 2012: full of good intentions, lots of things made that I didn’t really intend to make, other people’s things coming ahead of mine on a regular basis and anything made for myself done terribly last-minute and not terribly well! I do hope that you have a better year in terms of your crafty endeavours, whatever form they take. Cheers, everyone, and happy new year.

 
 

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yarning about yarn

I’m doing well with the beanie I’m making for Middle Aunt but it occurs to me that I’d be in strife if I were trying to crochet it. I’d have run out of yarn a long time ago.

In the absence of the Villawool Inca, I’m this time using Lincraft Australia‘s Phoebe yarn. It’s another product of China, being a 55% acrylic and 45% wool mix. In a 50 g ball there’s said to be an average of 33 metres of yarn. That might be so, but there are lots of knots in it. I’ve so far managed to catch them before knitting any into the beanie but the drama will arise if I now don’t have enough yarn to finish. I only bought three balls. Luckily, I have ways of dealing with a shortage of yarn. I can choose to do the decreasing slightly differently, omitting two rows. I can make a small turn-up or perhaps not have one at all.

You can tell I’ve done all this before, can’t you? Those capers, however, would have occurred when I was working with a yarn I hadn’t bought expressly for the purpose of making an Inca beanie and which might, not unreasonably, have needed stretching or cajoling at least a little to go the distance. This shouldn’t require such shenanigans. I think that if it had fewer flaws, I’d be fine with the three balls I purchased. Perhaps it’s a yarn I won’t buy again, though the article under construction is looking good.

Oh, and what about the blue beanie? Done. Looks good. Photos at some point in the not too distant future when the digital pix are entirely online again. I’ve had the opportunity of sharing a few pix in recent posts but I was celebrating too soon.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2012 in Knitting

 

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last gasp

Today’s regatta was the Masters and Second Grade State Championships, hosted by Torrens Rowing Club. There were few schools competing and those that were were certainly not at full complement, but all the clubs had a presence. With such reduced numbers came a very relaxed atmosphere. We didn’t have a marquee because they’d all been packed after the last regatta and returned to the city boatshed. It didn’t matter. We found a tree, put down a couple of picnic rugs and set up some chairs. We were fine.

Dr B went off on a 50-K cycle while the junior rowers were doing their stuff but he was back in plenty of time to watch Boy in his last race as a high school rower. Boy will row in one more school race but it will be in Melbourne later in the year and we won’t be there to watch. And he won’t stop rowing, though the question next season will be whether he returns to the same club he rowed with last year or whether he joins a uni club. That depends on many outcomes, so there’s little point speculating.

Very grown-up rowers!

Very grown-up rowers in the kids' playground.

The only pity was that nobody was selling food today. Usually the schools have a wide variety of food available for sale because rowers are a hungry lot and their supporters are, too; plus, it’s a good fundraising opportunity. The Boatshed Cafe sells food but we find it too expensive for much but the occasional treat; and the food sometimes isn’t as fortifying as necessary for the level of hunger evinced by your average rower. We went there with Nonna after Head of the River and had coffee and that was wonderful but we’d already eaten a hearty lunch. Today the school’s involvement was over by lunchtime, with the afternoon’s racing scheduled mostly as Masters events so lunch at home sounded like the best plan.

I packed up my knitting and our chairs and we went back to the city boatshed to help unload. For once, I simply sat and knitted and didn’t involve myself in the work. I’ve done it in the past but there is an extent to which extra hands just get in the way. Plus, it’s the rowers’ responsibility. Also, I had a beanie to finish for a birthday present. I have done so. I’m using my trusty old Villawool Inca L574 pattern again (it’s dated 10/77, so I really have had it for a long time) and knitting a mostly grey beanie. Because I’m not able to find the right yarn or a yarn of the correct ply, I tend to eyeball the results a bit and knit with two balls held together. That allows me to be a bit clever with a plain colour and a shaded/variegated one that complement each other.

This grey yarn is dark and the shaded/variegated one I’m using with it has a similar tonality plus flecks of pink. Sounds awful and it’s not what I would choose for myself but the intended recipient wears grey quite a lot and the pink gives it a lift without looking too weird. I finished it after lunch and ran a seam down the back. I have to sew in the ends and that’s all. But just in case the IR really can’t cope with it, I’m now making a pinkish one. I’m not sure that pink is really her colour either, she’s much keener on peach and ochre shades; but I simply could not find that palette in either of my LYSs.

If she hates it and just wants to wear it in the garden, that’s fine by me. She’s a keen gardener so keeping her head warm while she does the weeding could be a bonus, wouldn’t you reckon? You wouldn’t want to spoil a really pretty beanie by getting bits of vegetation stuck in it. Would you? You can tell, can’t you, that I’m not entirely convinced about it myself. It’s nicely made. I can be honest about that. It’s very soft (the yarn is 100% wool from China though I’m not sure of the variety) and warm and, having myself tried on the finished beanie, I know it will fit. (The IR and I have similar sized heads.) It’s not pretty but is it just pretty awful?

grey beanie

Is it just pretty awful?

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2012 in Knitting, Rowing

 

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ever knitted the same item multiple times? have I ever!

Vogue Knitting asked:

Do you have a favorite pattern you have knit more than once? I think many of us do. Have you knit one pattern more than 5 times??? Mine is this one skein NORO hat. What is yours?

Of course I have. I wasn’t surprised that their one pattern is a hat. My go-to items tend to be balaclavas and beanies and it’s easy to see why they are. In cold climes, people need warm head covering. A basic beanie pattern is open to a lot of imaginative reinterpretation.

I have a broken-rib pattern that knits up quickly and can be made to look very different depending on how you choose to do it: do you have a turn-up or not? If no, how do you treat the ribbed edge? Do you vary it simply by being smart with changing colours? Or knit it at a firmer tension than the patterns asks for? At last rough count, I’d made about 10 of those. The pattern came from what I believe to be a now defunct women’s magazine way, way back in the early 1970s.

Another of my hat recipes is a chunky, garter-stitch one that’s even quicker to make. I think I made four of those last winter, one or two the winter before and at least one for myself many years ago. I call that a useful pattern too. Like the broken rib pattern, it’s from the early 1970s, in this case for a Villawool Inca jacket and cap.

Then there are the half a dozen or so balaclavas I’ve knitted for various friends and family members, often at their request because they’re out in the cold and need the wind-blocking properties that a good balaclava provides. Boy was happy to receive one for use under his motorbike helmet. That doesn’t qualify as a quick knit, not for me anyway, but it’s a good, basic pattern from an old Patons book; and it’s one that you can play with.

I’ve also made and given away five or six pairs of fingerless mitts, using a free pattern from Twinset Ellen on Ravelry. They’re quick, they’re warm, they’re easy, they’re small and portable during construction (which means I can knit them on the bus) and they’re funky enough that Boy and Dr B both use theirs in public. Gasp.

Otherwise, feather-and-fan baby singlets (three that I can remember making from a Patons pattern), blackberry stitch booties (three pairs I can remember, and I think it’s sometimes called bramble stitch; again, a Patons pattern) and plain jumpers would head my list of things of which I’ve made multiples and would make again. What about you?

Edited 12/4/12: You can also find the pattern for the fingerless mitts at Twin Set. Just scroll down to Handed Yes, Fingered No, Mitts that Fit for a PDF download.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2012 in Knitting

 

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