Wednesday, July 27, 2016

WIP Wednesday: The Welcome Back Edition

Hello! It's been a while since I posted. The last two months have been busy! I moved house, which is always insane. Even now, five weeks after moving in, I still don't know where all of my stuff is. The funniest thing was as soon as we moved, people wanted to just drop in. The day after I moved in, I had a guest pop over uninvited who wanted to stay for a chat. This is what I looked like that day (in the mirror on the middle left):

It was not a good day to visit and I was not a gracious hostess! Now, though, everyone's welcome - the more the merrier.

In the last five weeks, I also found out I am going to be a step aunt. It's an odd situation - my dad, who lives in France, married a woman who also lived in France but whose children live in America. I have met my dad's wife, but not either of her children, who are my step sisters. One of them is up the duff (do they use that expression in America?), so I thought the step sisterly thing to do would be to make her a baby blanket.

Because the blanket needs to be mailed, I wanted something lightish but still pretty. I settled on the Baby Bubble Shawl, which I think is both pretty enough to be ornamental but not so lacy that it is only good for special occasions. 

I am using Bendigo Woollen Mills Luxury 3ply in Frost. As always, it's lovely to work with. Plus, it's machine washable, which is super important for babies.

Because it is so very white, I wanted a really strong, protective project bag to hold it, so I popped an old rice bag in the washing machine, dried it thoroughly and Bob's your uncle (do they use that expression in America? I clearly need to do some research).

I have now done 14 of the 18 repeats of the lace panel, then I just need to do the 900 rows of the edging I'm done. I need to get it in the mail by 1 September, which I should be able to do without problem but it is so relentlessly white I might need to do something with a bit of colour just to take the edge off.

Lucy kind of hates it, but she hates everything at the moment because it's winter and she's not allowed outside. Poor little thing :)

Friday, June 3, 2016

2016 FO #4: Dreams of Granada Baby Blanket

A while ago, I wrote about a baby blanket that I'd finished but wasn't happy with. This is a picture of it unblocked:

Here it is blocked:

I was originally concerned about how raised the centre section is. It definitely deflated a bit after blocking but is still clearly raised:

I considered ripping it back but in the end decided to leave it as is. I figured that a) a non-knitter will probably think it's supposed to be like that and b) it's going to have a baby spew and wee on it, so                                         
it's not worth getting too het up about.

The other problem I have with this blanket is the yarn. I bought the same yarn in the same colour used in the pattern, KnitPicks Brava Worsted in Tide Pool. It was cheap! Like $20 for all the yarn needed to make this quite big blanket (I made the smallest size and it is over a metre wide). It was nice to knit with - soft and with good definition. But after only two gentle washes, it is already looking a bit worn. I have enough of the yarn left to make a hat and scarf set, which I want to because the colour is lovely, but is it worth going to all that effort if it is going to wear out halfway through the season? I really wish I'd gone with my first instinct and made the blanket in BWM Luxury.    

What we have here is a mediocre result for a lot of knitting. Next time I make this blanket - and I will be making it again - I will only knit the outside cabled border, not the inside one, and I will knit it out of wool or a wool blend. 2 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

WIP Wednesday: The Big Grey Edition

Last week I shared my directions of how not to start a lopayesa. This week, the knitting process has gone much more smoothly. I may not like the finishing on this pattern, but I cannot fault the shaping directions for the body at all. They are very clear and therefore really easy to follow. I am now about halfway through the third ball on the body. I love working on this - it's just like a giant sock, which is my favourite type on knitting.

I didn't take a good photo of just the sleeves but you can kind of see them here. I decided I really hated the look of the garter stitch cuff (on the left) so for the second sock I used a provisional cast on (on the right). I just started knitting the part after cuff. After I've finished the jumper, I'm going to pick up those stitches and knit down in 2x2 rib. That way I can measure the sleeve and end up with the perfect length for my sleeves. I am happy with how this project is tracking - if I keep up this pace, the jumper will be done in a month.

Because I like to always have something in my handbag to work on, I cast on a simple pair of men's  socks for Sam's brother for Christmas.

For Christmas!! I am going to be so organised this year...

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

WIP Wednesday: How Not to Knit a Lopayesa Edition

Right after I submitted my thesis, I received a very generous gift in congratulations for getting the whole thing finally done. Of course, I wanted to spend the gift on yarn! Inspired by Mason-Dixon Knitting's Bang Out A Sweater knit-a-long, I decided to make a lopayesa. The Stopover they used is not really my style so I decided to go for a more traditional looking Strokkur by Ysolda, whose patterns are always very reliable. I ordered the yarn from Shop Icelandic and in a really quick time, like eight days, the yarn arrived. I made the important first step straightaway (that is, taking a photo and posting it on Instagram) and then things, well, kind of slowed down.  

I bought the pattern and then started knitting a sleeve for the swatch. I decided on magic loop and, after I'd done about 10cm, I gave the swatch-sleeve a decent bath. Then, I waited.

And waited. And waited. And then waited some more. It took about three days for the swatch to dry, by which time I'd moved on to the Big Purple Fluffly Blanket then the Sock Yarn Blanket. There was no room in my knitting enthusiasm for jumpers - it was all blanket all the time.

Last week, the weather (finally) began to act more seasonally appropriate, so I pulled out the swatch again. I got stitch gauge, so I was ready to continue. BUT I had not written down anywhere what size I had cast on. I counted the stitches and compared them to the pattern and it *looked* like I'd cast on for the 38.25 inch size, which seems odd because I am sure my bust is bigger than that. So, without doing anything so silly as remeasuring myself to find out why I made that decision, I cast on for the body in the 41 inch size.

Five centimetres of 1x1 ribbing later, I knew I'd made a mistake. For starters, the jumper was GIANT.   Like, at least 10cm too big but likely closer to 20. Secondly, I hate 1x1 ribbing. I hate doing it, I hate how it looks - why did I think I would like it better just because the designer said to use it? 

So, I went back to the drawing board. 

I ripped the ribbing (sob) and remeasured the swatch. I also remeasured myself. Discovering (as I'm sure I did last time) that I have a 39 inch bust, I decided (as I'm sure I did last time) that I'd rather have a jumper with negative than positive ease, I cast on the number of stitches for the 38.25 inch size. I also did the ribbing in 2x2, ie the type of ribbing I actually like. A few hours of hard graft later, and voila:

A lopayesa of the appropriate size that looks like I want it to.

This whole thing is proof that I am just not a sweater knitter! Kids, don't be like me.

In Other News

Both of the pairs of socks from last week's WIP Wednesday are done. Photos coming as soon as I have the right weather and model to get the job done.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Everyone's a Winner Edition

Over Christmas, I read the delightful but rather batty decluttering guide The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Maria Kondo. This book is massively popular and has inspired the much-maligned but completely fantastic practice of KonMari. Basically, with KonMari you gather all of one type of item (clothes, kitchen stuff, books, etc) and go through it item by item, deciding what brings you joy and what has irreplaceable use. If the item does not do either of these things, get rid of it. I realised after reading that book that I have wool and needles and projects squirrelled all over my house that are in desperate need of a sort and declutter. I really had no idea how much yarn I even had! It just seemed to be too big a job to even get started on. However, last Tuesday I woke up with an unexpectedly clean slate and thought, well, let's go. 30 minutes later, my bed looked like this:

It's hard to tell from this photo but that pile of knitting, yarn and needles was about 1 metre high. It includes every piece of knitting and knitting paraphernalia that I own.  I found some crazy stuff - half balls of wool left over from projects I knitted *twelve* years ago. I unravelled a ton of never-to-be-finished projects and tossed everything that looked tired and done.

Three hours later, my stash is neatly sealed and sorted and fits into these three boxes:

Excellent! The KonMari process was dusty and time-consuming but also very rewarding.  I now know what wool I have, how much of it I have and what needles I own. I'm excited about using it all up and my house is just unbelievably neater. (I also discovered a huge pile of UFOs that just need like an hour of work to be completely finished, but that's a story for another day.

In Other News

One thing that is giving me immense joy is my sock yarn blanket.

It's so big now that it's hard for me to get all of it in one photo unless I stand on something (this is not as exciting as it sounds - I am only five foot tall). Unfortunately, I have had to put it aside briefly because of boring deadline knitting. Boo!!!

First up, a pair of the world's most boring brown socks. They were requested by Sam for his birthday, which is next week, so I am Getting Them Done. But seriously, how boring?

Because I could only handle so much brown, I also cast on a pair of socks for my dad's birthday, which is coming up soon.

They are kind of based on the Cable Rib Socks from my favourite sock book Favorite Socks but I increased the stitch count and didn't read the instructions properly so it's really more of an "inspired by". I think it'll look good, though, and it's not made out of brown, which is really what I'm look for at this moment. 

The best thing is, once I get these socks done, more yarn scraps for my blankets. Everyone's a winner in this week's WIP Wednesday :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

WIP Wednesday: The All Blanket All The Time Edition

It has been all blanket all the time over here Chez HereIKnit. Over the weekend I was happily working on my purple fluffy blanket, patting myself on the back for my stick-to-it-ive-ness, when this happened: 

With half of one side to go on the cast off, I ran out of yarn! I was so cross I put the blanket in the naughty corner so it could spend some time thinking about what it has done. Stupid purple fluffy blanket.

With the PFB taking a time out, I have had a glorious guilt-free time working on my sock yarn blanket. I love it so much!

I love using up all the odds and ends of sock yarn that I have had lying around in jars for years (what - jars are great storage containers. No danger of moths, you can see your lovely leftovers all the time and, when you do use them, the wool smells faintly of salsa or pasta sauce). This blanket is a tribute to and memory of all of the socks I have made and loved in the past. I adore it! The only problem is that I don't have enough yarn to finish an entire blanket. To get a decent sized blanket, I need about 300 squares (15x20 rows). Even after I pulled out some baby yarn and cracked open an entire new ball of sock yarn from the stash, I estimate I only have enough wool for about 100 squares. I feel like buying more wool to work on a leftover sock yarn blanket is kind of missing the point, but it probably is the most sensible option. Or, I can work on it until I've used up all of the yarn I have, then leave it on the couch as is, adding a square or two whenever I finish a pair of socks. There's no hurry to make a decision - I have another 70 or so squares to go first :)

In other news, the weather has been very rainy and windy lately, which Lucy absolutely hates. To punish me (because the weather is my fault, of course) she has started lying down in front of my, blocking my path to where I want to go.

This strategy is ineffective because lying down she is about 10cm high, but it's very cute! Never change, Lucy, never change.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

2016 FO #3: Baby Sophisticate

Last week, I spent a bit of time patting myself on the back for changing the way I do things and work ing on projects one at a time, thereby getting them done faster. It has since been pointed out to me that the self-congratulation was a little bit premature, which is true - I did in fact knit an entire project while also working on the purple blanket. I'm not exactly sure how I forgot about it so completely but, since it has been brought to my attention, I wanted to share one of the cutest things I have ever made: a Baby Sophisticate.

The story behind this jacket is pretty simple. I had been invited to a wedding where the couple wanted cash as a gift. I don't like giving cash, so I was ecstatic the day before the wedding when I found out the bride was up the duff. Being knocked up = baby knitting.

I immediately - like literally four minutes afterward - went and bought some wool and cast on in the car on the way to the ceremony. I was going to get 10ply, as recommended in the pattern, but for some reason Cleckheaton Country 10-ply was ridiculously priced at Spotlight - $9 for a 50g ball, which I was simply not going to pay. I went for the 8ply instead (a much more reasonable $6 a ball, even though it did feel wrong to pay full price at Spotlight).

To adapt the pattern to the difference yarn thickness, I just used the larger size numbers and the smaller size measurements. It seems to work okay, although the arms look kind of long.  

Solve the problem of long arms by pretending the baby jacket is being held up by a bushranger. Works every time.

The pattern is very simple, the knitting of it is quick (so quick I don't even remember doing it, apparently) and the results incredibly gorgeous. I highly recommend this pattern (and having a gift registry at your wedding). Five out of five itty bitty baby stars.