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Tuesday, 11 April 2017

2017 Boo Challenge: Kindred Spirit

Well knock me down with a feather I've only gone and finished shawl number six of my Boo shawl challenge!

Just to mix things up a little I set aside the beads, took a break from lace and chose Kindred Spirit for my 6th shawl.
As soon as I saw this pattern I knew it would be a perfect showcase for some of my handspun yarn as well as using up some of the mohair in my stash.  This yarn is particularly special as it was actually years in the making so I'm very glad to use it!
The fibre was a sparkly BFL blend that I bought years ago and began spinning on a drop spindle, long before I even thought of buying a wheel.  The fibre had lovely long chunks of colour so when I finshed spinning it I decided to try my hand at chain plying to preserve the colour changes.  Long story short, that did not go well and my next 'logical' move was to pre-chain the singles before adding the twist separately once it had all been chained.  Yep.  Unsurprisingly any enthusiasm I had for that task wore off quickly and the whole thing got set aside for a very long time.  Eventually I mastered chain plying on the wheel, plyed up the section of prechained singles and the chain plyed the rest as I went.  Happily it turned out really nicely, the colours are perfect and the yarn has a really lovely shimmer to it.  I chose some black mohair from the stash to complement it for this shawl.
Because this was handspun I didn't want to waste a single yard which led to me carelessly not leaving enough to complete the border properly.  Whoops!  I considered switching to the contrast yarn and continuing but in the end I just decided to go with a shortened border and I think it looks fine.  I was beginning to lose interest by that point any way - obviously missing my lace and beads!  This is a lovely shawl anyhow, perfect for when I need something a bit snugglier than lace but still slightly sheer and delicate looking.  I'd like to make this again with less contrast between the main and contrast yarn for a very different look.  All in all I'm very happy, but excuse my while I go break out the beads for the next one!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Miss Daisy

More tiny knitting today! With a new baby brother cramping her style I figure my niece Alice deserved some new knitwear too. I've had Miss Daisy by Lisa Chemery on my to knit list for an age so I thought this was the perfect time to go for it.

I used DROPS Loves You 5 again for this, in a very memorable shade of green. Nothing like eye searing acid green to chase away all memories of rainbows!

I'll admit that knitting this did seem like a bit of a slog. The raglan section was really fast but then you pick up stitches all around and knit the shawl collar and lower back all together in the round. The rows seem pretty long at this point and then you double your stitches and they get even longer. It was pretty inevitable that whatever I knitted after doing a bunch of tiny baby clothes it was going to seem epic, but this probably wasn't the best choice. Once that bit was done the sleeves went super quickly and all in all this only took 5 days of fairly leisurely knitting, so I'm aware that it seemed to take longer than it did in reality.

With the ends all woven in, it was time to choose a button which is always a fun task for me. I was very surprised by how many colours look really good with acid green! I toyed with bright pink, turquoise, purple and white but in the end I picked one that matched perfectly instead. I felt that all the other colours looked fab but drew the eye too much and rather stole the show. I'd love to make a plainer cardigan in a similar shade and let the buttons be the stars but on this occasion it didn't feel right. The button I picked does have a nice little pattern on it, so it's not completely plain. It's also nice to use one of the random single buttons that I have in the stash because I so often need a whole set and the ones with no friends always get overlooked.

Overall I'm happy with this, I think it will be a while before I knit another because it felt like a whole lot of never-ending ribbing but it's a pretty cardigan and I would love to knit one for Felicity before she gets too much bigger. She'll want purple though, always purple!

Friday, 7 April 2017

Rainbows, rainbows, everywhere

After I'd finished the rainbow blanket for my nephew I was left with rather a lot of rainbow yarn and rather than let it sit and wonder what to do with it I wanted to just cover this baby with rainbows.  I'm a massive fan of Mothercare's Little Bird collection and I know my SIL is too so I was really aiming for that sort of vibe when I was planning these projects.

A short flick through my Ravelry faves served up Short Notice and Bug Warmer by Taiga Hilliard.  These patterns are the perfect blank canvas for stripes and looked quick and simple.  I wanted to use neutralish background colours with a single rainbow splashed across the chest and I think it's worked really well.
My first project was a Short Notice in Grey.  I actually started it while I was waiting for the extra yarn for the border of Alfred's blanket but as I had some grey DROPS Paris in the stash I decided to get going on this in the meantime.  I only had one ball of the grey and I wasn't sure how far it would go, but I set out by knitting a 2 row stripe of each of the rainbow colours to see where I'd end up.  As I was nearing the end of the body it became quite clear that I wasn't quite going to have enough so I ripped back and switched to 3 row stripes instead.  I still only had enough for short sleeves but I was glad to have used the yarn up as it had been in the stash for a while!  I did much prefer the look of the smaller stripes, but this still turned out cute and it meant that I didn't end up with all of the ends on one side.
I chose little rainbow buttons because you can never have enough rainbows!
Next up, Bug Warmer.  I'd chosen this turquoise for a sort of sky effect and I was tempted to add some white clouds around the hem and cuffs, but ultimately I couldn't be bothered, so I didn't!  I used DROPS Loves You 5 for this, along with the rainbow Paris scraps.  This was an even quicker knit than Short Notice due to the open front and is a perfect pattern if you need an near instant baby gift.  I had plenty of yarn this time so I did full length sleeves.  Cute huh?
After that I had a quick break from cardis and rainbows and knit a little Julian vest in yellow DROPS Paris.  I'd knit one of these in grey for Alice and it had been very well received.  I knew that one was all washed and ready for the new baby to wear so I made this one in 3 month size for when he grows out of the grey one.  I love this pattern, I've knitted it three times and I'll probably keep knitting them for any babies that cross my path, it's just adorable.
And last but not least, another Short Notice in white to match the blanket.  I actually cast on for this one as soon as I'd heard that Alfred had arrived.  At just under the 10lb mark I figured that he might be needing bigger clothes sooner rather than later so I thought I'd quickly whip up one of these in the 3 month size too.
This one has slightly different rainbow buttons, but still rainbows because apparently I can't help myself (and I seem to have loads in my button tin) and I think they look super.
So all in all I have made a great big pile of rainbows and I couldn't be happier with it all.  I will admit that the sheer number of ends I have had to weave in has been a flaming nightmare a little overwhelming but it's totally been worth it.  I still have a fair bit of rainbow yarn left but I'm going to put it aside for the time being and concentrate on solid colours for a bit because I just can't weave in any more ends for a while!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Rainbow Blanket

Exciting news, I'm an auntie again!  And now that my NEPHEW Alfred has arrived and has received his blanket I can finally share it with you.
It felt like I'd barely finished knitting a blanket for my niece Alice when my brother and SIL announced that they were expecting number 2.  Alfred arrived exactly 1 year and 2 months after his sister so I'm only barely exaggerating!  Despite feeling like I needed a bigger rest than that between blankets I went ahead and started looking at patterns to give myself lots of time pick just the right one.  This is a lengthy process for me, a blanket is a big project so it has to be something I will enjoy knitting, with a finished object that will bring me joy whenever I see it.  In this case it also had to be unisex without using colours which would bore me to death.  Alice's blanket had been very well received, to the point where my SIL has stated quite clearly that Alice will not be taking it away with her when she leaves home!  The temptation to just knit a second version of that blanket was strong but I decided to look for something similar instead.
Alice's Mosaic blanket as modelled by Cassie
In the end I plumped for Tickled Pink from 60 Quick Baby Blankets.  There are loads of cute patterns in this book so I didn't really mind buying a book for just one pattern.  Obviously I wasn't actually going to use pink, plumping instead for all of the colours of the rainbow.
I used DROPS Paris again because I really liked it for Alice's blanket.  It's really snuggly, washes well and cotton is perfect for my brother's flat which gets very hot all year round.  I had to guess how much yarn I would need as I was using more colours than the blanket in the book.  I ordered 2 balls of each colour and 6 of the white and hoped that would do the trick.  As it turns out, I could have stopped knitting after I reached the end of the coloured balls and I ran out of white half way through the border so unfortunately my estimates were way off!  I did do one stripe of each colour from the 2nd balls just to justify having bought them but I so much left that I've made a whole heap of rainbow baby clothes to show off soon.
Unfortunately the pattern for this blanket is shocking awful, there are loads of errata and the border instructions defy logic.  However this is a really simple blanket and it's easy to get the gist of the stitch pattern and then do your own thing. I basically cast on until it looked wide enough and then knit until the length looked proportionally right and I'd finished a complete rainbow.  I then  picked up 2 in every 3 stitches along the sides and knit on each border separately.  I'm really pleased with how it turned out, so much so that I was very sorely tempted to keep it for myself!  Nevertheless I handed it over, a very special blanket for a very special boy.  I hope he loves it as much as I do.
Lissy for size reference

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Moneta

I love a good jersey dress, so comfortable and simple and easy to wear.  Up until now all of my jersey dress needs have pretty much been filled by the Lady Skater pattern, why fiddle with other patterns when I've got that just the way I like it and can make one with my yes pretty much shut?  Good question and the only answer I have is that Colette have recently started to accept Seamwork credits for their main patterns and I had a few credits to spend so I figured I'd give Moneta a go.
When I'd glanced at the pattern before it didn't really seem all that different, but now having made one I can see that the two patterns are distinct enough to make it worthwhile having, and using, both.  The most noticeable difference is the gathered skirt, which ordinarily is not my favourite but I quite like it here.  The gathering is achieved by super stretched sewing clear elastic on to the seam allowance of the skirt and then letting it ping back, far more satisfying than gathering by pulling threads!
The neckline on Moneta is also very different.  With no neckband in sight I was a little sceptical (I love the nice finish of a neckband) and was certainly tempted to add one of the free collar options, but I decided to keep it simple for my first go at this pattern.  The neckline on this dress is very wide on me and I wasn't sure that I liked it at first, but it's definitely grown on me and isn't so wide that it falls off my shoulders. I'll definitely be giving the collars a go in future though, just to add a bit of variety to my wardrobe.
I also like that this pattern has a sleeveless option, another reason I'm glad I have it in my collection.  It's still kinda chilly though so I used the mid length sleeves on this dress, I probably won't go for the again though, they hit me mid elbow and roll up all the time which is a bit annoying.  I am kinda short though so they obviously weren't designed that way.
I used a bright green jersey that is quite lightweight and slinky which works nicely with the gathers I think.  The colour is amazing and I love how good it looks with my Dare to Dream shawl.
I'm also quite taken with the way the green peeps through the lace of my Disco Hetty too.
All in all I'm pretty happy with this dress and I'll definitely be giving different sleeve lengths and neckline options a go in the future.  I won't be persuaded to give up my Lady Skater pattern any time soon, but this is definitely a welcome addition to my jersey dress repertoire!

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

2017 Boo Challenge: Rainshine

With a new niece or nephew predicted to arrive around the end of March I should really be focusing all of my efforts on knitting teeny tiny baby things, but after completing a good percentage of their blanket I decided I could afford to take a quick shawl break.  Now that it's finished I promise that I will be hitting the baby knitting hard until the little lad/lass makes an appearance.
Rainshine was the first Boo Knits pattern that I completed and it seemed to me that it was time to revisit it.  The first one was not quite all it was cracked up to be, it was just a little too small, I wasn't mad about the colour and the yarn didn't really hold the shape as well as it needed to with those dramatic points.
This time I was a bit more savvy with my yarn choice, Fyberspates scrumptious lace has 50% silk and will hold on to those lovely points much better and the magenta colour is fabulous.  It is quite a fine yarn so I completed 6 repeats of the main pattern to make sure I ended up with a good sized shawl.
After casting off I was a little concerned that it was still on the small side but I really shouldn't have worried because the lace opened right out as soon as the shawl hit the water and it's turned out to be the perfect size.  Using such a fine yarn has meant that my points are not quite as long and dangly as last time but they are still pretty pointy points nonetheless.
It took me a really long time to choose beads for this project, I couldn't quite find any that seemed to match nicely and I wasn't sure I wanted anything too contrasty.  In the end I went for magenta lined grey Tohos which don't quite match but look pleasingly like tiny berries nestled in my knitting.  I still have well over half of the yarn left however so I'll probably try something a bit more bold when I use that up.  I'm really pleased with how it's all come together into a very beautiful shawl.
The only problem I have now is deciding whether to keep it for myself or whether to put it aside for a Christmas gift like I'd intended when I cast on!


Wednesday, 1 March 2017

My Coat! Simplicity 1254

Making a coat is something I'd had on my to do list for ages, but I'd not really got round to it because it seemed like a really big project to take on.  Of course when I finally got on with it I found that it was not as big of a project as I feared and banged out a coat in just a few days!
I'd had Simplicity 1254 in my stash for aaaages and enchanted by the great big collar I dived into coat making for the first time.  I picked some coating that had been in the stash for a while as my main fabric and chose some shiny grey stuff for the lining which has honestly been in the stash since before I even had a stash.  I think I thought it would make a lovely dress back in 2007 or so but thankfully that plan never saw the light of day!  I also decided to use some yellow tartan flannel as interlining to give my coat a bit more warmth and body.  The most time consuming part of the entire project was cutting out all of those bits, but I'm glad I did, my coat is lovely and warm and the structure is just right.
I opted not to include the pockets on this coat, which did mean I had a few less pieces to cut although I'm not entirely convinced in was the right thing to do.  I felt that the pocket area looked a little sloppy on the pattern envelope, like they sort of compromised the structure somehow so I decided to leave them off.  I can't tell you how many time I've tried to stick my hands in those non existent pockets though so I probably should have included them.
On the whole, the making of this coat was fairly straightforward.  The main body and lining were very simple to construct until it came to sticking the two together.  This pattern has some seriously mixed up priorities as far as I'm concerned, dedicating barely a sentence to the lining of the entire coat and yet taking an entire paragraph to explain understitching.  Seriously just say 'understitch collar' and use the rest of the space to explain lining the damn coat properly! I'm still not convinced I did it right, but my coat is lined and that is all I can ask for.  Things did not seem much clearer when it came to sticking the collar on, but again it's on so job's a good'un as they say.
So, it may have been a bumpy ride but I achieved coat and wearable coat at that.  It has a couple of issues, the most obvious being that the zip shows and because I thought it would be hidden I used a blue one so it is even more obvious that it would have been if I'd matched it better.  I'm assuming this is my fault, but again I was confused about exactly where I was supposed to place it so I'm not taking full responsibility for that.
Also, it doesn't show on the outside but despite knowing that the lining needed to be bigger than the outer fabric I followed the pattern and cut them the same size so of course I've now popped a seam in the lining.  This was almost inevitable given that I wear Felicity in a sling on my back nearly every day and the action of getting her up there will put a lot of stress on a none too flexible seam.  This was really a lesson in giving myself some credit and trusting that sometime I do know better than the pattern.
All in all though, I'm very proud of my coat, even though I'll be giving this pattern a miss for my next foray into coat making.  I love the overall look of it, but I don't need another like it and I'll pick something with slightly clearer directions next time.  Oh and lastly, that hood that the model is so enticingly holding up on the envelope?  Don't do that.
That is all.