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.