Sunday, 28 March 2010

Black and White neckline top

This is another top (I do seem to make them in batches oddly enough), and it is quite funny that I am blogging about this just after my quickest project, the electric purple mohair shawlette.  This one took the longest.

It is a 4 ply cotton top-down tee type top with raglan lines from the corners of the neckline down to the underarm grafting lines.

I had started this top something like ten, or maybe even fifteen years ago? It's been so long that I can't even remember.  I do know that after happily knitting away I put it down one day, and just never came back to it.  Up until a few weeks ago.  At first I thought this was something for frogging, I couldn't even remember what it was supposed to be. The black and white detail around the square neck brought it back to me and all thought of ripping this down for the yarn was forgotten.  I now also remember why I stopped: I got stuck on how to continue into the sleeves when I was only going to increase further at the raglan lines - if I had carried on I would have made a two-dimensional, unwearable piece.  It would have pinched in a really nasty way!

I was aware that I needed to do something to shape the armholes but I was completely flummoxed as to what. Last December I knitted the Elizaber Zimmerman 'Hurry up Last Minute Sweater', which could also be called The Wishbone Sweater (to be blogged about later, I want to dye it first), and the mystery of the underarm shaping was revealed to me: you need to cast on a number of stitches that will make about three inches (7.5 cm) to shape the area under the arms.  A temporary cast-on can work terrifically because you can pick up those stitches and just knit them off when it comes to working the body from them in the other direction, down to the hem.

At the stage of dividing the piece for the sleeves, I just left all the stitches on my 80 cm long circular needle (I love circulars, I don't use anything else except for DPNs for sock knitting or a doily until it gets large enough) - cast on those under arm stitches, then just knitted off the sleeve stitches as designated by the raglan lines followed by the cast on stitches, in the round. The circular needle is too long for a sleeve, but just pull it through whenever you get to the "beginning" of the round and keep knitting as normal.  If there is not enough stretch in the material then you may have to use DPNs but this may be a pointer to the fact that the sleeve is too narrow.  I made sure to feed a thinner circular through half the body every so often so I could try it on and see how I was doing, size-wise.

I was extremely lucky that, making it up as I went along, my choice of how deep I made the neckline meant that the sleeves are not too narrow.  That's just sheer luck though in this case.  Next time I do a top like this I would work out a rough sketch from the gauge and not wing it like I did here, blythely.

Another lucky thing was my choice of yarn.  This is a 4 ply 100% cotton yarn and of course I ran out of yarn within eight inches of the hem.  I thought that the yarn looked quite similar so I tried Patons 100% 4 ply cotton and I couldn't see a difference between them.  Generic cotton or not, that's extremely lucky I think!  Any other yarn and I would have to come up with something creative: picking a totally different yarn and probably colour to do the bottom of the body.  I did make sure to knit both the sleeves first, just in case!

Quite looking forward to the weather getting warmer so I can wear this and the other short-sleeved tops!

Monday, 22 March 2010

My quickest project

I can't quite believe this but I knitted a shawlette in a day. This is the very quickest project I managed to do. I even finished sewing in the ends on the same day and now I am wearing it the following day.

Very satisfying!

The yarn is off ebay, I really like the colour (the purple is a little more 'electric' blue looking in real life, very striking). I hadn't knitted anything in mohair in a long time (a lemon yellow lace patterned jumper with butterfly wings comes to mind. It was my first major project and I think I even finished it at some point. Didn't wear it all that much though - that put me right off mohair).

The pattern is lovely: Storm Cloud Shawlette off Ravelry, designed by a lady named Hanna Breetz.

I meant to knit a bigger ruffle all round, the pattern calls for 12 rows - running out of yarn I only managed three rows. I think that has its own charm. Those three rows make for a distinct edge even though a ruffle is nowhere in sight.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Blue short-sleeved raglan top

I seriously need to diminish my yarn stash by quite a bit. It gets to the point where I don't know any more what I've got. That makes for lovely re-discoveries but it's terrible on the wallet.

Having started a third shawl in the last four months, I felt that it would be nice to do a very simple, plain knitted top with short sleeves.

This yarn is called Lido by German company Buttinette. It is very similar to Patons Smoothie DK in texture. Shame that there are only six Lido shades but I prefer the blue and grape shades to most of the Smoothie shades which seem a little insipid.

The pattern is adapted from the Raglan Tee on the Lion Wool website. I needed to change the decreases from every forth row to every third, second and then even every row from the shoulder point onwards to make the sloping shallow enough on top of the shoulders.

I am pretty happy with this even though I ran out of yarn before I could knit any sleeve and neck facings. A thinner yarn for this might not be a bad idea though.

PS: Imagine my chagrin when I discovered a forlorn single ball of this wool at the back of my stash. I've no idea how I managed to lose track of it. But I am pretty sure that there is no more anywhere else. I wouldn't mind knitting something else in this yarn (maybe in the grape colour), but I need to use up some of my stash before buying any more.

Haruni shawl in navy blue

I enjoyed finishing and wearing the pink shawlette so much, I thought I'd like another one in blue. Found some suitable yarn in my stash, retrieved this free Ravelry pattern that I've had my eye on for a while, and off I went!

I had ordered some yarn off ebay that was advertised as just 'navy wool', no band, no other information - and I am very pleased to find that it is lovely! Incredibly thin, so I knitted it double. Shame that I don't know what it is, I might get more. It was very affordable too so I am even more pleased that it gives a lovely finished texture and very slight colour variation. Because it has a slightly crepe-like feel to it I would think that it might a blend.

I love the detail of the pattern:


Friday, 5 March 2010

Candle Light Kerchief

The first time I checked out Loop Knitting, the yarn shop in Cross Street, Islington, London – I marvelled at the lovely yarns but also found them a touch expensive.  Then I spied some completely gorgeous wool hanging in long hanks over what looked like a broomstick above the stairs down into the stockroom.  This turned out to be a 100% merino wool called Colinette Jitterbug. Colinette being the company, and Jitterbug the name of the merino sock yarn.
I’d fallen into immediate adoration of the shade Rio – this is a bright fuchsia, slightly variegated in mainly bright pink, some streaks a bit lighter and other slightly darker or more violetty, and then there are short bits of an orangey red in there but only one stitch at a time.

It is gorgeous! I wanted it, I had to have it.

Having gotten the one skein home I wasn’t really sure what to do with it (as you do). In the end a pattern for a Candle Light shawl won the day and I started to knit this triangular shawlette. I was inspired after seeing a merino kerchief worn by a friend time and time again, with me getting more jealous each time I saw her in it! Also in a lace pattern, a touch smaller and in a gorgeously vibrant shade of violet.

I loved knitting this. The yarn feels really good when winding it, knitting with it and lovely for wearing it too! I managed to do a fair bit of it pretty quickly, then I got a little stuck when I realised I was running out of yarn. I thought I might want to get a second skein but resisted because the shading between skeins can be wildly different. You either buy the whole lot at the same time, making sure to compare them thoroughly!, or you you’ll get a very different shade or distribution of colours. So I did the border repeat and cast off. A very simple bog standard chain cast off. Which didn’t do the shawlette any favours and made it look a bit bland. Not as special as it should look!
I was going to unpick the cast-off row and try something different (I hadn’t cut the 'cord' yet) but then some experimenting with a crochet hook resulted in a picot edge that used up most of my remaining yarn (though not all, crikey!) and left me highly satisfied with the outcome. Result!

I probably wouldn't have finished the edge now in early March if it hadn’t been for the fact that I was suddenly desperate to wear it and show off to a friend what I’d made. I didn’t fancy carrying the still attached ball of wool around with me and I wasn’t going to cut it off either – weaving in three ends instead of the one was not something I fancied*. So it was off to meet the friend kerchief-less and then after that the sudden spurt of energy to finish.

I’ve been wearing it every second day since. I love it a lot because it looks so good! I wear a lot of black so my favourite colour brightens me up considerably! In fact, I like the whole shawlette thing so much that I fancy something similar in blue.
I’ve even cast on already, ahem, I’ve even done about a third of this by now! I might have another finished object to list soon.

This is educational (borrowing the words of Vinnie Jones in Lock, Stock…): if you want to get inspired then finish something. The pleasure you get from completing something might suddenly spur you on to bigger and better things: more joy, more knitting happiness!
I am very pleased with this.

* - I do a lot of weaving in of ends on my wave crest patterned cardie. I am getting plenty of practice on this project but I didn't want to waste even a few inches of this lovely Jitterbug yarn!