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

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Wee Chickadee

April 2016

This little cardigan is one of the cutest partrns I have seen in ages, and Ysolda Teague’s patterns are always really well written, so I couldn’t resist it. This was made for my baby daughter Lucy as an extra layer to throw on on those cooler summer days, though admittedly my choice of colours meant that it seemed to coordinate with fewer outfits than I would have hoped.


My one gripe was that although I thought I had followed the pattern to the letter, the top buttonhole of the cardigan was much to low down, which meant that the collar appeared to come up very high on Lucy. I’m not sure if it’s a problem others have had too, or just one of those things, but it’s definitely something I would keep an eye on if I was to make this again.


This yarn proved a little disappointing too. It’s cheap, it makes colour work look very good, and it’s machine washable and soft, so it had great potential. Sadly though, I found it didn’t wash very well, and had to do a little repair job on a couple of snapped stitches after a few washes.

With the suggested needle size - 3.25mm - my gauge was 26.5st to 10cm blocked, so I went down to 3mm.

Pattern: Wee Chickadee by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: King Cole Merino Blend 4-ply in Stone (blue), Emperor (purple) and Aran (white)
Size: Smallest
On ravelry: here

Monday, 31 October 2016

A pair of Traktorgensers in Yarn Stories Fine Merino dk

August 2016

Some time ago I was sent a big bag of Yarn Stories Fine Merino dk to try. It took me a long time to settle on what to make with it, but this summer I decided that this Norwegian tractor pattern was just about gorgeous enough to do it justice. Only just, mind you.

Fine Merino dk is so beautiful knitted up that everyone in my knitting group wanted to know what I had used. It's incredibly soft and, as these sweaters would suggest, the colour palate is very pretty. I'm always on the look out for yarns which take colour work well - I tend to use yarns heavy in natural fibres for most of my colour work, and they can sometimes be a bit coarse and itchy. Not this one. It is incredibly soft and also machine washable, which makes it ideal for children's clothes. Let's face it, they get dirty.

The yarn does have some fantastic pattern support on the Yarn Stories website. Amelia is just one example, and originally I was sorely tempted to make one for myself. One day I probably will, but this tractor pattern had been on my wish list for over a year, and as my son is increasingly fussy about me not dressing him in scratchy wool, I thought I had better whip up a couple of these first.


The pattern itself is by Sadnes Design, and only available in Norwegian, but once again, I ran it thought google translate, applied a little bit of common sense et voila. I had great fun playing around with the fairisle motifs and colours, as I didn't feel that both sweaters needed to be identical. 

It's worth noting that not all of that yoke is made by stranding however. By the time you get to the exhaust pipes, your floats would be unmanageably long, and so the bits of contrast colour are added using swiss darning/duplicate stitch. More loose ends to sew in, but it is the only way to prevent the finished object from being terribly wrinkly - I can see why the pattern was written that way


Profuse apologies for the lack of any modelled photos of the small one. It's going to fit my little girl next winter, I think, not this one. I really hope I can come back and add some in due course. There needs to be a photograph of them both wearing their matching sweaters and one day there will be, so watch this space.

Thankfully George's is also a bit on the large side too at the moment, and so here it is modelled with great panache by his friend Albie.

In conclusion, this was a fun project in which a fabulous yarn met a handsome pattern and produced a pair of practical, warm and appealing garments. Happy days!

Pattern: 1308-14 Traktorgenser by Sadnes Design
Yarn: Yarn Stories Fine Merino dk in French Navy, Taupe, Thistle and Mulberry
Size: 6 years (taupe), 12 months (purple)
On ravelry: here

Friday, 30 September 2016

Stjerneshorts/Starryshorts

June 2016

I spotted these little shorts on ravelry a few years ago, and thought that were so cute, I was determined to have a go at them. Lucy is just learning to crawl, and so we're mostly going to be giving dresses a miss over the winter, as they're not the most practical at this age. Shorts make a lovely alternative, particularly as she's less prone to nappy leakage now she's on solids - probably too much information, that, but given the work that went into these, I would rather they didn't get poo on them. I don't think that's unreasonable really...


This is a pattern which is only available in Norwegian, but with the help of google translate and a little bit of common sense I managed to make it out. In this day and age, when there are so many supportive people out there in cyberspace, it's nice to think that the lack of an English version of a pattern is no reason not to have a go anyway. The Excuse Me? group on ravelry is especially helpful when it comes to translating the tricky bits, but for the most part, google translate is more than adequate.

These shorts have a drawstring waist to hold them up. The pattern suggests threading the cord drawstring through at the end after you have sewn the waistband hem down already. I thought it might be easier to add it as I went.

As these have folded over and sewn down hems at the waist and legs, I think that if I was to make them again I might work the inside part of the hems in a contrast colour, as it's a very cute look.


These are a little on the snug side, but should see Lucy through winter ok - I wanted to stick with a stitch count which would make sure the chart ended in the right spot. I also moved the start of round to the back of the shorts, as I there was bound to be a slight jpg in the olourwork where one round ended and the next began, and I felt I would rather have that happen there than at the front (although there’s something to be said for doing it the other way around when you’re knitting for someone who spends so much time with their bum in the air).



I did pick up some stitches inside the shorts and knit a reenforced gusset, as they felt a little bit loose there. I am a little bit envious of Lucy's knitted hot pants, and toying with the idea of improvising an adult pair, but if I do, I'll probably skip that bit, as I don't fancy the woollen double gusset much.

These were knitted from stash using a 4-ply sock yarn which long since lost it's label. I think it might well have been King Cole zigzag but I wouldn't swear to it.

Pattern: Stjerneshorts by Tina Hauglund
Yarn: Grey/cream wool blend 4-ply of unknown origin
Size: 6-12 months
On ravelry: here

Monday, 29 February 2016

A pair of Colorblocks

December 2015

Every year I knit a little something for the children of my husband's cousin, Daniel and Emily, and this year just for a change I thought it would be cute to make his and hers matching jumpers. I needed a fairly quick knit though - with a baby due on December 22nd I was loath to commit to any Christmas projects which might prove too labour intensive. A worsted weight top down in the round jumper fitted the bill perfectly.

I'd spotted this pattern on ravelry a while ago. Garter stitch always makes very attractive looking stripes in my opinion, and the construction of that pocket intrigued me whilst the rest of the garnet promised just the right amount of fairly mindless knitting.

This pattern has some very pleasing little design details - the hem being slightly lower in the back than the front through short row shaping for example, and as I knitted it I couldn't help but wish more of my sweaters were shaped like that. Plus it's a truly unisex design, and so perfect for a brother and sister. (Emily has apparently got her eyes on Daniel's version - the red and grey - once he gets too big for it).


The Rowan Pure Wool Worsted I used for this is a fabulous yarn. It's not cheap (especially when you don't need to use very much of the contrast colour, as with this pattern), but it comes in every colour you could ever want, washes beautifully, is properly warm and cosy and not itchy in the slightest. It knits up into a very handsome looking and pleasingly squishy fabric.

I love the fact that it's a proper worsted since the UK market doesn't seem to be particularly spoiled for choice when it comes to that particular weight, and yet there are vast swathes of patterns (particularly from the USA) which call for it. Knitting with this makes me understand how a petrolhead would feel driving a ferrari, if you see what I mean. And besides, these were Christmas presents, so I could justify the cost.


I can see myself coming back to this pattern at some point, as it was such a fun, quick knit and these little sweaters are the sort of wardrobe staple that could see any child through a long, British winter or two. And thanks to Rowan, there are many colour combinations left to try.  

Pattern: Colorblock by Oomieknits
Size: 4 years and 6 years
Yarn: Rowan pure wool worsted in Mustard, Damson, Charcoal and Rich Red
Needle: 4.5mm
On ravelry: here