Monday, 30 April 2018

Northdale


February 2017

I took an awfully long time over this sweater, primarily because when I first cast it off it was too small and too tight, with a neckline that wouldn’t lie flat and all in all it made me very cross.

After a good few months of neglect, I managed to motivate myself to tackle its flaws one at a time. First I unpicked the neckline and re-cast it off knitwise rather than in rib, which tightened it up immensely. Next I blocked the heck out of it to add some width, and finally I unpicked the hem of the now wide enough but still too short sweater and added two extra stripes’ worth of length.


There may also have been a bit of dieting involved which helped with the fit.

None of the issues I had are due to errors in the pattern - I was just unfortunate and didn't think enough about sizing before I started.

Ultimately the additional work was very much justified by the end result, which I absolutely love. It just took me a while to get there!


This is my second knit from the Shetland Trader Book 1, if you count my heavily modified version of Nikka Vord.

Pattern: Northdale by Gudrun Johnston from the Shetland Trader Book 1
Size: 34"
Yarn: Baa Ram Ewe Titus
Colours: Coal, Filey, Crucible
Needle 3.25mm
On ravelry: here




Sunday, 29 April 2018

Rainbow Dress

April 2017

I had loads of Sparkleduck rainbow miniskeins left over from making George’s fabulous vest, and so I thought I’d improvise a little tunic dress for Lucy.

The end result is very bright and cheerful, but with hindsight I wish I had made the shaping much more a-line so it didn’t cling so much around her tummy.


Visiting the Sparkleduck stand was very much the highlight for me of an otherwise rather overwhelming Yarndale 2016. I had my little boy with me, and the nice man running the stall gave him a little toy duck. Its funny how the random acts of kindness like that can stay with you.

This is such a beautiful yarn that I’ll most likely frog this dress once Lucy grows out of it and recycle it into another project. It’s worn very well so it would be a shame not to.

Pattern: improvised
Yarn: Sparkleduck Galaxy rainbow mini skeins.
Size: 12 months
On ravelry: here


Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Saffran

April 2017

A worsted weight stranded pure wool cardigan is not the most clever of projects to be knitting in April, particularly if you don’t factor in enough growing room, which I didn’t.

Consequently this didn’t get quite the wear it deserved, although with a bit of determined stretching it did see us out until the end of the winter.


I really rate Rowan’s pure wool worsted. It’s cosy, knits up quickly and washes very well. It’s not the cheapest, admittedly, but in baby cardigan sized amounts it’s manageable.

Saffran is supposed to be steeked, but since I was using a superwash wool, I was worried that any steeking I did might not have held properly. I just knitted my version back and forth instead, and was pretty pleased with the result.


The pattern for this little cardigan is very well written and I don’t remember spotting any issues with it at all. Plus you’ve got to love a pattern which includes a recipe for saffron buns at the end just because.

Pattern: Saffran by Nicolina Lindsten
Yarn: Rowan Pure Wool Worsted in mustard (mc) and ivory (cc).
Size: 12 months
On ravelry: here

Monday, 26 February 2018

DROPS 157-2 Silver Dream

February 2017

DROPS is an amazing yarn company. They make fabulously good value yarns, and the pattern support is absolutely overwhelming, and entirely free.

Around Christmas 2016 I took my son ice skating, and had a sudden and uncontrollable urge to possess a proper nordic looking cosy sweater. Just the right sort of thing to wear for next year's trip.


Luckily I had an enormous skein of mid-blue Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop dk stashed, after spotting it in the seconds bin at their stall at Yarndale 2014. I never did work out what was wrong with it, even after knitting it into a sweater. And quite frankly it had been festering in my stash for so long that it was a relief to finally use it.

Pattern-wise I have nothing helpful to say about this project. It worked perfectly as written and I didn't feel compelled to modify it at all. The top-down construction made it great for trying-on-as-you-go. It's worth noting in passing that I have a special fondness for colour work with raglan sleeves rather than round yokes. The increasing/decreasing required to make the raglan seams is more disruptive to the flow of the colour work but the fit is so much more flattering in my experience that I really do feel it's worth it.


Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop dk is a beautiful yarn, so warm and lustrous. Not "next to the skin" soft but fine for a sweater if you're happy to wear a layer underneath. Knowing that I was supporting a local business and not having to pay extra to have yarn shipped halfway around the world just made this project all the more enjoyable.

Pattern: 157-2 Silver Dream by DROPS garnstudio
Yarn: Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop dk in blue (mc) and white (cc).
Size: 36"
On ravelry: here

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Balfour Skirt

February 2017

I love this pattern! I've never knitted a skirt before, partly because I'd previously not been sure whether they would hang properly or stay up. With Balfour, I thought it was worth taking a risk and it totally paid off. I love the fit - it’s pretty snug, but I think it’s flattering that way and holds a good shape. It's great to find a new way to wear hand knitting. 


Balfour is knitted using rowan felted tweed dk. Although labelled a dk, in my opinion this yarn knits up more like a sport weight, and so in terms of yarn substitutions, a 4-ply would probably just about work (I've seen Drops Alpaca subbed for felted tweed a couple of times very successfully). The skirt is knitted bottom up, with a folded hem at the bottom and a section of ribbing and elastic to hold it up at the top. It's seamless and intended to be worn with a little positive ease. On ravelry it's described as "a-line" but I would say "pencil skirt" would be the more accurate way to describe its shape. It sits quite high - on the waist rather than the hips, which makes for a warm tummy, but I can live with that if it's the price I have to pay for it not falling down.

I did tweak the pattern to some extent. As written, it has you increase and decrease in such a way that the chart repeats don’t always line up at the two side seam stitches. This is liveable-with for some of the simpler chart but when it came to the with stripe with the double diamonds I thought it would look rubbish, and so I adjusted by stitch count so that there would be no partial repeats. I figured I could always block it aggressively if it ended up a funny shape - I've used felted tweed a lot before and it does grow a bit when you block it.


There's a matching cardigan in Rowan 60 which uses some of the same fairisle motifs. The skirt doubles as a snood in that you can pull it over your head and stick your face out of the waist opening but I while I love it as a skirt, I'm not sure I'm really a snood sort of person.

I came up with my own colour combination rather than following the pattern, because I already had a lot of felted tweed stashed, and thought it would be best to try to use that up. Also, I love turquoise.

I chopped a bit of length off too, as I’m not very tall (5’5”) and I wanted it to fall just above the knee.



Pattern: Balfour Skirt by Lisa Richardson
Yarn: Rowan Felted Tweed dk in Avocado (light green), Camel (beige), Watery (blue/green), Carbon (grey), Seafarer (navy) and Clay (white).
Size: smallest
On ravelry: here

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Bláklukka

December 2016

This was a very enjoyable knit, when I needed a quick and easy Christmas present for a little girl. Although I originally bought Védís Jónsdóttir's Knitting with Icelandic Wool collection intending to make myself this dress, it's full of little gems like this one, and I expect I will return to it again and again.

The pattern was very well written and I didn't feel inclined to modify it at all. There was an option to include some vertical lace stripes on the plain part of the body but I was in a bit too much of a hurry for that. Most of the knitting I do is with 4-ply and so this being worsted it seemed to knit up very quickly. Just as well, though - I only managed to post it off a couple of days before Christmas.


I don't normally use acrylic yarns for colour work, due to the fact that they're not as easy to block into a nice neat, flat fabric as wool is. This yarn, Pacific, is an acrylic/merino blend by Cascade, and I was really pleasantly surprised by how tidy it looked after blocking. It was also great to be able to combine solids, like the white, and heathered shades, like the green, from within the same palate, as I love the way they look alongside each other.

Pattern: Bláklukka by Vedis Jonsdottir
Yarn: Cascade Pacific in Spring Green, Blue, Red and White
Size: 6 years
On ravelry: here

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Freddie

December 2016

Marie Wallin’s designs for Rowan have been amongst my favourites for some time, and there are several sweet ones in the vintage inspired “Once Upon a Time Collection” for children. Freddie grabbed me straight away, as I love all-over fairisle projects and this is such a pretty one.

I did modify the pattern in several respects - it was written to be knitted flat, as seems to be the house style at Rowan - but I worked it in the round as far as the armholes as it tends to give better results with stranded colour work and even if it didn’t it saves a bit of sewing up to do it that way.

Secondly I played around with the colour palate quite a lot. This is about the fifth or sixth fairisle I’ve knitted using felted tweed, so I have a big bag of leftovers to plunder but not necessarily all of the recommended colours. I’m firmly of the view that all shades of felted tweed go with all other shades - it’s such a beautiful yarn - but as ever with fairisle you do need to think about what degree of contrast you want. I tend to favour medium or high contrast and Freddie was a bit subtle for me at times. The one stripe which I did use the suggested palate is the broadest one featuring beige/green/orange and to my eye the pattern gets a little bit lost there.

The third modification was that I added about 2” length. If you study the pattern pictures closely you can see Freddie is designed to be fairly short, which is fine as long it’s worn over a shirt that stays tucked in. Having a son myself, though, I couldn’t overlook the potential for a longer top worn underneath it to come untucked hang down below the hem of the vest and spoil the look completely. It was easy enough to add some length though. Just a matter of unpicking the ribbing, putting the live stitches back on the needles and knitting downwards for a little while until it felt right.

I was really pleased with the end result - virtually all of my most beautiful projects have been knitted in felted tweed and this is definitely one of them!

Pattern: Freddie by Marie Wallin
Yarn: Rowan Felted Tweed dk in Pine (dark green), Avocado (light green), Clay (white), Camel (beige), Bilberry (purple), Ginger (orange), Watery (blue/green), Mineral (yellow) and Treacle (brown).
Size: 7-8 years
On ravelry: here