Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Trying but failing: how not to knit a hat

I predicted a few weeks ago that if I were to order from Bendigo Woollen Mills, the order would arrive before my Knit Picks order made at Christmas time. I was correct - I am still waiting for the Hawthorne Bare I need for my Japan Sleeves but four balls of Luxury 10 ply arrived on my doorstep five days after ordering them. My desire to get started on knitting some clothes can finally begin!

Unfortunately, to knit clothes that fit, one must knit gauge swatches. I hate knitting gauge swatches (which is probably why I knit so many socks and do not have a single hat that fits me properly). However, I have a lot more yarn that I need to finish the jumper, so I decided to follow the advice of the great Elizabeth Zimmermann and knit a hat as a gauge swatch. Even better, there is a hat pattern in the Home and Away pattern book: the Knitbot Simple Hat.



Perfect! I grabbed the recommended needle sizes for the jumper, cast on the number of stitches for my head size, and started knitting. I knit to the hat length recommended before doing the decreases and looked at what I had produced. It seemed a little big...



.. so I pulled out the cables and blocked it.



It's huge! I didn't check the needle size recommended in the hat pattern and it (unsurprisingly) is different for the jumper - 3.75mm and 4.5mm for the hat instead of 5.5mm and 6mm for the jumper. I had effectively knit the first 7 inches of the jumper. Grrr! So much for saving me time on knitting a gauge swatch! 

I have now cast on both the hat and the jumper with the correct size needles and learned my lesson: read the pattern properly to save both time and my sanity. Never again...





Friday, January 13, 2017

2017 FO #1: Jitterbug Rise Socks (or, In Memory of Socks Past)

When I first discovered sock knitting, my favourite sock yarn was Colinette Jitterbug. These were the days right at the start of Ravelry, before I know that sock knitting was a huge thing and before everyone and their mother became an indie dyer and gorgeously dyed sock yarn became easy to find (not having a go! I love indie dyers and more power to anyone who can make money in a creative industry.). I loved Jitterbug's tonal and variegated colours and style. You could only buy Jitterbug two places I knew of - Sarah Durrant's online store and Sunspun in Canterbury, so I stalked destashes looking for colours. My biggest demonstration of love was to knit someone a pair of socks from my precious stash of Jitterbug.

Over time, other favourites emerged. I discovered the indestructible Opal yarn and began to stalk that in destashes instead. The ease of being able to buy Patonyle everywhere made that a staple yarn for me. However, despite the many yarns that followed, I never forgot my first true sock yarn. I've kept all of my leftover Jitterbug yarn in a ziploc, waiting for the right project to come along. Finally, a few things came together that meant the time was nigh.

Firstly, I noticed that the Ozifarmer's Market Ozisock yarn I was using in my Outback Socks had a very similar feel to Jitterbug's bouncy high twist and I had a lot of it left over after finishing the socks.  Then, I was watching the Hey Sister podcast (if you don't watch it, you should give it a go - they're adorable) and Tabi was making a pair of Pixel Rise Socks out of a set of minis. I don't have any minis but I did have a baggie of mini sized Jitterbug scraps, so the idea took place...

Two months later, voila!


A gorgeous pair of Jitterbug ish socks.


I'm not going to lie - you will have a lot of ends to weave in after finishing these socks!


But it's worth it - they look really pretty and are a worthy memorial of great socks past.


From cuff to toe, the yarns are:
Ozifarmer's Ozisock in Outback (from 2015)
Colinette Jitterbug in Jay (from 2012)
Colinette Jitterbug in Vincent's Apron (from 2011)
Knit Picks Hawthorne in Conifer (from my Japan Sleeves pullover)
Colinette Jitterbug in Castagna (from 2009)
Colinette Jitterbug in Fruit Coulis (from 2012)



I really love them and I hope the recipient does too.


After this photo was taken, we drank two margaritas each and I discovered what I am sure is the incredibly authentically Mexican dish of chocolate tortillas. They were delicious!


And a fitting end to a very enjoyable pair of socks.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Resolutions and looking ahead

Football champion Kevin Bartlett says that the start of each footy season is the best time of the year for every single footy fan because no-one's lost a game yet. All dreams are uncrushed and hope is eternal. This time of year for me is exactly the same. I'm going to finish all my WIPs! I'm going to knit down my stash! Everything I knit will fit perfectly, wear like a dream and draw compliments from everyone who sees me! All deadlines will be met, with days or even weeks to spare!

Actually, I'm pretty good at deadlines (an incredibly focused attention on due dates and planning is really the reason I'm so busy all the time), but I'm also really good at casting on and buying yarn, so the chances of me finishing the year with a smaller stash and fewer projects on the needles is not good. That said, a girl can dream and, who knows, maybe this will be the year? 

One thing I really do want to do this year is knit more clothes. Sam and I both have drawers full of socks and I have lots of lovely scarves and shawls that I wear all the time. Clothes, particular jumpers, are useful wardrobe items that I could get a lot of wear out of.  In order to meet this aim, I cast on Joji Locatelli's Japan Sleeves on New Year's Eve with some Knit Pick's kettle-dyed Hawthorne I got in their big sale last year.


However, I'm a bit stuck on that project. I'm slowly working through the lace while I wait for the rest of the yarn to arrive because I only have one of the three balls required to knit the jumper. Although I placed the order before Christmas, it looks like it's still sitting in the Knit Picks warehouse, which means it still needs to travel across the sea and through Australian customs before it can be part of my jumper. 

Also in that same order is some black yarn for the heels and toes of this pair of socks, made in Knit Picks Felici Dark Side.


I love Felici! I swear I knit faster when the yarn is striping all by itself. It's like cheap yarny magic. I'm waiting to see how it wears though - I am suspicious of sock yarn that is very soft to knit with. Again, though, not much more I can do until the yarn arrives.

So, since I'm stymied with my current projects until my package arrives, then surely it is time to start more? Like socks made with the first instalment off my Little Yellow Cat yarn club yarn?


I also ordered a copy of Hannah Fettig's Home and Away book. This might have been a bad idea, because as soon as I pressed "confirm" I started thinking about how Bendigo Woollen Mills have really speedy service and how I could order a jumper's worth of wool from there for about $50 which would arrive at about the same time as the book, both of which will probably arrive before the Knit Picks order. Surely it makes sense to get a headstart on this year's winter, so I have a jumper ready to be worn when the cold weather starts?

So soon in to the new year, so little ability to stick to my goals.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!

Feliz año nuevo, everyone! (I went to a Mexican restaurant for new year's. It was fun and tequila is delicious.).

I know that echnically yesterday was the first day of the new year, but instead of posting I decided to start the year with a digital detox. There was no email, Instagram, Twitter...it was great! I watched the delightful The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, the incredibly disturbing Super and three episodes of Ladies of London. It was a lovely day!

It seemed appropriate to start 2017 by switching off because 2016 as a year was just on the entire time. I'm not referring here to international events (where would I even start?). 2016 for me personally was a huge year - I finished my master's degree, moved house, got offered a scholarship to do a PhD, started my PhD while still working full time (bad idea! Would not recommend), had a minibreak in Daylesford, went on a driving holiday of Western Australia and, somehow around all of that, still managed to do quite a lot of knitting. 

We visited a berry farm that gives its leftover cream and jam to the local birds. They were all plump but looked very happy.

I knitted a lot of socks. Many many many socks! I made socks for me...






..socks for babies...



 and socks for Christmas presents.



I also made many things for babies, none of them mine.




 






  

I discovered Etsy and bought a lot of yarn from Ozifarmer's Market (she does custom colours for no extra cost! I wish I did not know that...) as well as lovely project bags and jewellery.


 If I had to sum up my year, it would be this picture: me, with unbrushed hair working on my computer with knitting next to me while being used as furniture by my cat.


2016 was a good year, but this year I'm ready to work a little bit less hard and relax a little bit more. To give me a push in the right direction, I have signed up to  watch 52 films by women . I am really looking forward to it! I am very pro woman in every aspect of life and I love watching movies, so it's a challenge that is personally aligned with my interests. I also want to make at least three tops for me - two pullovers and a cardigan. I am halfway through a lopayesa, so there are no excuses for me not finishing at least one. I have had a lot of fun on Instagram over the last year, so I'd like to keep working on making nice photographs of my knitting, food and cat. I can see only good things ahead and cannot wait for 2017 to really begin.

Cheers to 2017!




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...