Thursday, October 6, 2016

2016 FO #7: Baable Hat and Bootie Set

This Friday's finished objects are part of one of those projects that are just a delight from start to finish. However, they did have a somewhat inauspicious start. Sam has a friend he has had since childhood, who is quite nice. The friend's wife, however, is rather horrible. She's one of those people who says things like, "I love your pants. I would never be brave enough to wear that style with a figure like yours." It sounds like a compliment, but it's really not and you don't realise it until you've thanked her and walked away. She's not obviously nasty but I when I spend time with her I always feel worse about myself when I leave than I did at the start. Given this, when they announced they are having a baby, I did not want to make them anything. Life is too short to spend time working on projects for terrible people! But then, Sam asked me nicely and said I could make anything I want from any wool in any colour I like. I was honestly going to buy something and say that I made it when I remembered I have had the Baable Hat in my queue for forever and some Heirloom Easy Care 5ply in my stash and I was off.

I obviously had to adapt it so it would fit a baby. For the hat, I used 3.5mm needles and cast on 54 stitches. After knitting 15 rows, I increased by 6 stitches and then followed the pattern as written for two pattern repeats, omitting the snowflakes. 

For the socks, I cast on 30 stitches, knit one repeat then finished as a normal sock. It felt a bit ridiculous to be turning the heel on such a tiny sock! But I think they look pretty cute.

In fact, I think the whole thing looks pretty adorable! 

This was such a pleasurable knit - I had yarn in the perfect colours in the stash, the pattern was both free and fabulous, it took no time at all to finish and I enjoyed every aspect of it, even grafting the teeny tiny toes. As always, my colourwork is a bit rubbish on DPNs but they're going on the foot of a baby who won't care at all. And, if the mum says something awful when she gets the gift ("I love the hat and sock set. It's so thrifty to make your own things! Everyone else got us ridiculously expensive gifts."), I won't care because I love the set and I am certain the baby will look as cute as a button in it.  Baa baa, white sheep :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

WIP Wednesday: The Saving Postage and my Sanity Edition

I had great plans for today. I was going to get up, go for a swim, go to the park and take photos of my knitting, get back home in time for a client meeting then spend all afternoon working. Unfortunately, this happened:

It's been really cold and wet all day. I'm going a bit stir crazy! Tomorrow's supposed to be sunny and  for my sanity and peace of mind I hope it is.

Fortunately, knitting is not a weather-dependent hobby (or else I really would go mad). I think I've mentioned before that my dad and my sister live overseas. It's not that big a deal - it just means that Christmas presents need to be sent by the start of December. However, I spoke to Dad a few days ago and he told me he plans to come to Melbourne at the end of October. Great, because I can see him and save on postage at the same time.

Not so great because I haven't finished his or his wife's socks! 

This is not a huge deal - both of the socks are more than halfway. It's easily doable.

But then my sister rang, and reminded me that she's coming in the first week of November, so her socks need to be done by then.

Again, they're 80% done, so not a big deal.

Except for this. 

The needles arrived and I got gauge on the second attempt. All I want to do is start knitting my Belmont cardigan! Maybe I'll just do the cast on and then get back to the socks...

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

WIP Wednesday: It's All Under Control Edition

About two weeks ago, I posted a somewhat panicked picture on Instagram showing all of the projects I was working on:

From top left clockwise, they were Sam's Christmas socks in Schoppel Wolle flying saucer yarn, Sam's aunt's Christmas socks in Shepherdess Aussie Handmade sock yarn, Theme and Variation from The Book of Haps in Lana Grossa Meilenweit 100 Tweed, Ilga's Socks from Favorite Socks in Knitpicks Stroll, a Baable Hat in Heirloom Easy Care 5 ply and Sam's Anniversary Socks in Red Heart Sports Socks.

Understanding that a lot of people work on many projects at the same time and have a lot of WIPs and things on the go (which absolutely makes me feel better for my project prolificacy), I was literally working on every one of these projects every day, even if it was only a row here and a few stitches there. Working on so many different things at the same time meant that I was making no progress on any one thing, so I decided to change my strategy. I put the hap into hibernation, finished up three pairs of socks and a hat (details to come!) and now am focusing on just two socks at a time. 

First up, the socks I am giving my dad for Christmas. He's a mad Demons fan, so when I saw this yarn for sale in the Ozifarmer's market Etsy shop, I had to have it.

The colours are amazing. It's on Ozifarmer's Eman sock yarn base, which feels a bit like Wollmeise to knit - ie more like cotton that wool. It's really nice to knit with and I am really interested to see how it wears.

Of course, it seemed silly to pay shipping for just one skein of yarn, so I also bought a kettle-dyed semi-solid colourway on the Ozisock base. It reminds me of the smooshy Bendy sock yarn or a slightly thinner Jitterbug. 

Unsurprisingly, working on only two pairs of socks at a time means that I'm getting stuff done! Also, unsurprisingly, I am dreaming of starting new things. In particular, I was thinking of knitting a cardigan with the leftover wool from the circular shawl I just finished. Apparently I have just enough yarn to make a Belmont...

Photograph from the Belmont Ravelry page

The required needles for the cardy are in the mail. Help me...

Thursday, September 8, 2016

2016 FO# 6: Dry July Socks

This is yet another old project I am just writing about now months after finishing.

This year, I signed up for Dry July. I have written before why I do these kind of months - it makes me feel good, it breaks bad habits and it raises money for charity (I raised almost $300, which I thought was pretty darn impressive).

While I spent most of the month knitting on the Big White Baby Blanket, I still had a (surprisingly large) amount of time on my hands that I wanted to fill with knitting rather than sauvignon, so I cast on for a pair of commemorative Dry July socks out of blue and beige leftover sock yarn balls. 

I did them toe-up two-at-a-time so I could use all of the yarn I had and have them perfectly matched. These are pretty much like every other spiralled scrap yarn pair of socks I've made, with one exception. I did something I don't think I have done before - an afterthought calf.

It was pretty easy. Much like an afterthought heel, when I got to where I needed the heel to go I put in some waste yarn. However, instead of continuing to knit a tube, I knitted the heel and grafted it closed.

I then picked up the stitches on either side of the waste yarn ...

.. before very carefully removing the waste yarn ...

.. leaving live stitches on the needles.

I then started to knit the socks as usually, picking up an extra stitch at each side and K2TOG it in the following row so I wouldn't end up with a hole. 

That strategy didn't work too well and so I did end up using some of the ends to close holes there I picked up the stitches. I don't know that happens to me when I use the afterthought technique! I just bought Sock Architecture by Laura Neel this week, so I'm hoping that will help me fix the problem as I have heard only good things about it.

Overall, I am very happy with these socks. They fit well, are pretty cute and used up lots of bits and bobs of the monochrome sock yarn I had lying around that I don't want to use in my sock yarn blanket (at this stage, I'm only using yarns with more than one colour. This may change in the future though). 

A++, would Dry July and knit these socks again.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

FO: Big Bad Bubbles Baby Shawl

Today I am super pleased to share that I finished the big white blanket.

 The pattern is a very old one from Patons. Like the original pattern suggests, I knit the shawl in 3ply, but instead of using Patons I used Bendigo Woollen Mills in Luxury 3ply in Frost (about 180g of a 200g ball). I used 4mm needles. 

There were a few things that I did in this shawl that I would do differently if I did it again. When I cast the shawl on, I had just moved and I didn't know where any of my crochet hooks were (I still don't - I ended up buying a new set). Therefore, I used Tin Can Knits' directions for a circular cast on that uses knitting needles instead of crochet hooks to do Emily Ocker's cast-on. I'm sure the fault is with me and not the instructions but my cast-on is really loose and looks a bit gappy in the middle of the shawl. I wish I'd waited till the crochet hooks arrived and I'd started the way I'm more familiar with.

 The construction of the shawl is quite easy. In the centre panel, you increase eight stitches every second row until you have 220 odd stitches. You then use the principle of the Pi Shawl and double the amount of stitches in one row and then just knit until you get to the edging, so there are no increases in the feather and fan pattern at all. While I was knitting that section, I used four stitch markers, with one marking each quarter of the shawl. That was super useful and allowed me to catch mistakes when they happened. Then, once you have finished knitting the 440-odd stitch rows to the desired length, you knit about an 880ish row knitted on border.

I hated knitting that border. Flipping a giant blanket back and forth every eight stitches almost 900 times was not fun! I powered through most of it in a few marathon podcast sessions (thank you Knitting Go - the first and only video podcast I have ever watched but I wouldn't have been able to finish without it) and ended up three stitches short. I knew I'd started with the correct amount of stitches, so I'd obviously lost three stitches along the way. The thought of undoing the border made me want to cry so I just fudged it and hoped they weren't very important stitches. Once I blocked it, it was pretty easy to see each of the three stitches I dropped (in the middle right and bottom right of the above picture). However, since the recipient is a non-knitter and so they won't know it's a mistake, I've decided to call it a design feature and let it go.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with it. It looks all pretty and shawl-y now it's blocked and stretched but, once it's been washed a few times, it'll be soft and round and more blanket-like, which is perfect for a baby's security blanket. I just hope the mum-to-be (since she's American, really mom-to-be) likes the Bubbles Baby Shawl as much as I do.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Little Sister Baby Dress (2016 FO #4)

As I sat down to write this post, I logged into Ravelry so I could check how many FOs I've posted this year. According to Ravelry, I have only completed four things so far this year... oops! I've made a ton of stuff, big and small, and simply neglected to write about it and, in many cases, even to photograph it!

To begin the catch-up process, I'm starting with a little FO. As I wrote here, before moving I sorted out all of my yarn and projects. In theory, this should make finding yarn and knitting following moving easier. In practice, however, due to how things were packed and the order in which they were moved, in the two weeks after moving where we were sorting through boxes and deciding where to put things, I only had easy access to one of boxes - the box of 4ply. As I wrote here, I wasn't very happy with the baby blanket I knit for a blanket for a friend whose baby is due in September. So, I thought I'd take the opportunity presented to me by pure necessity and whip up a little baby something out of the Cleckheaton Merino Bambino I have had marinating in my stash for about eight years. Sometimes the universe tells you you are onto a good thing, and about 10 minutes after I decided to do this I checked my Feedly and saw a new post from Olivia at Dreaming all the Time where she talks about knitting a variety of patterns for her niece, including the Little Sisters Dress, and I was thusly inspired to cast on for one straightaway. Two weeks later, the dress was done.


Six weeks after that, I finally got around to sewing on the (adorable) buttons and the dress was finally ready to be photographed. 

Ravelry tells me that this pattern has been made over 5,100 times and there is not really very much I can say here that hasn't been said before. It is simple, easy and very cute. I spiralled two colours of the yarn on the body to avoid pooling and instead ended up with a funky flying saucer colour repeat. If I did it again I would omit the buttons, as they are just for effect and I am lazy (although, who doesn't love an opportunity to add itty bitty buzzy bees?). The Cleckheaton Merino Bambino is delightful to work with, as always, and I hope the baby-to-be gets lots of wear out of this adorable little garment.

One down, seven FOs to go!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Blinded by the White Edition

Lace is a good thing to knit. It looks fantastic, it's fun to knit and there's always a bit of magic in the transformation from lumpy spaghetti monster to an elegant, lovely piece of art. However, it's not a great-looking project on the way to the finishing line. You knit, knit, knit and knit and the piece gets bigger but it is basically impossible of its final size or look from the WIP on your needles.

Case in point:

I am halfway through the edging and at this stage it does not look like it is going to end up as a flat circular blanket. You just have to have faith that 1) the designer knew what they were doing and b) you have not massively cocked something up. Fingers crossed!

 I have to admit that I am not particularly enjoying knitting the edging on. Because I am knitting the shawl in the round while the original was knitted flat, I have made some modifications to the pattern. I cast on provisionally, using a cable from my KnitPicks interchangeable set to stand in for waste yarn. I then started knitting...

..but I just wasn't happy with the look. When you turn the knitting after joining the edging to the main yarn and reducing one stitch, the pattern instructs you to slip the first stitch. I had been doing that with the yarn in front.

Here, you can see the difference. On the right of the picture, I had slipped the stitch with the yarn behind. On the left, I had slipped the stitch with the yarn in front, which then formed a visible stitch.

So I ripped it back, started again and am much happier with the new border. But it's still just the same 8-12 stitches, back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth (and so on).

I am also not enjoying knitting with white yarn. It is so boring! Especially when combined with the relentless grey of the Melbourne winter sky and the bleakness of day after day of overcast weather. After two weeks of non-stop white in the middle of winter, I just couldn't take it anymore! So, I cast on a pair of socks in the brightest yarn I could find.

The relief is palpable. Thank God for colour.