Friday, August 30, 2013

In the name of knitting I did maths

I bought some unlabeled merino cashmere at the ACS shop last time I was in Wangaratta, with the thought of a vest for Leon. We picked Delius from Twist collective, a really attractive cabled vest. The yarn is a heavy 8 ply, while the pattern is written for a ten ply. Which is fine, since I need to make it two inches smaller than the smallest size. The gauge is given for stocking stitch. I knit a gauge swatch and really liked the way the fabric looks:

But I really struggled to work out which size I should be making. So, I turned to maths. I worked out that my stocking stitch gauge is 85 percent of the pattern's stated stocking stitch gauge. I then worked out that the size I want to make is 85 percent of the SECOND smallest size. So that's what I've cast on.

This will only work out  if the following things are true: the gauge percentage differences are the same in pattern as in stocking stitch, the gauge swatch doesn't lie and I did the maths right. Can you see why I'm feeling a little nervous about how this is going to work out?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Win some, loose some

I finished the Romi Hill cowl and I love it. The yarn is squishy and has good stitch definition, the pattern was interesting but still simple and the finished cowl is very wearable, either wrapped twice around my neck for warmth, or just hanging down in a single loop like yarn jewellery.

Some of the people on the Romi Hill Ravelry board have been taking pictures of their cowls on their animals. I tried to make the cats wear it, but this was the best I could get. Tarragon didn't really enjoy it, even though I explained that it was all in the name of art.

I had loads of the felted merino left over, so I decided to make a Norrie hat. I've had my eyes on this pattern for a very long time. It echoes the cowls pattern, in that it is stocking stitch with garter ridges and I thought it would look good in this yarn. Now, bear in mind it's meant to be a slouchy hat.
Unfortunately it's a bit reminiscent of Jabba the hat.  I feel like I could store a ball of yarn in the back, all the easier for public knitting.
Right, now I'm going to wrap the cowl around my neck with a smile, stash the hat in the back of the cupboard and get on with swatching a vest for Leon.

Photo credit for these pictures, goes to the talented Skip, who photoblogs here.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A pleasant surprise

I cast off the body of my Lettuce on the plane home from New Zealand. It’s top down and I tried it on for length, but I was really worried it was just a smidge too short. Then I knit the first sleeve. I was confident that it was the right length, because I tried it on and it was fine. On Sunday we went to the pub and drank beer and I finished the second sleeve and knit the collar. After five hours at the pub. I went home and cast off the collar. I tried it on and it was just wrong. The sleeves were three quarter length, which I can live with but don’t love and the body was a tiny bit shorter than before. I guess knitting the collar had pulled everything up a bit. I said to Leon that I would have to pull out the bottom and knit it down, but he suggested I block it first and see how it comes out.

So I did. And it is PERFECT. The length is absolutely spot on. I love the v neck, which is not what the pattern called for, and I knit the ribbing until I decided to cast off, which was not exactly scientific. If I had got the length right preblocking, it would have ended up ridiculously long. I guess I got lucky this time.

I cast this off and Sunday and have already worn it twice. The Stranded in Oz Yarn came out so wonderfully, both in colour and in texture. I’m really glad I revisited this pattern. After all the drama I went through with it last time, this time the knitting was fun, easy and satisfying and the results make me so happy I’m a knitter.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A box full of yarn

On Tuesday I picked up my package of yarn that was mailed from New Zealand.
Here it is, a brown paper wrapped package, containing a whole heap of magical, beautiful yarn.

It’s not so big. Here’s a picture of it with Tarragon for perspective. Not overly big at all. Looks tiny in that pic, and Tarragon isn't such a large cat...

Although, placing it next to my yarn box, it does look like quite a bulky package, compared with the available space in the box. Which is none.

I’m maintaining that it’s not as big as it looks in the this picture, it’s a trick of perspective.

I haven’t opened it yet, because of the whole issue of storage, because there is no way it’s going to fit into the storage box. Maybe one skein of sock yarn would, but that’s it. I might just wait until I have knit 2 jumpers, a vest and two pairs of socks until I open the package and can place all the contents in the yarn storage box.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

It's be all white...

I cast on the Romi Hill Cowl on Sunday. I'm very excited about knitting a cowl, and about playing along with Seven Small Shawls. I'm super excited about the pattern, which uses a stitch I have not used before. I'm pretty excited about the yarn, which is a felted merino singles. In WHITE. I have only knitted in white once before - a baby jumper that was white by request. I have a certain lifestyle, that makes my dentist shudder. I drink coffee, tea and red wine. I eat chocolate, often while I am knitting. I have a large amount of fear for this cowl, both during the knitting process and while wearing it after it's finished.

Still, I'm very much enjoying the process of knitting it, and hopefully I will get a reasonable amount of wear out of it, before the likely collision of scarf with something that isn't white.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Sit up straight

Not much to show on the knitting front. I'm on the second sleeve of my Lettuce jumper now, which is fine, but it feels really slow to take a week to do a sleeve, when it took a week to do the body of it. I guess having to go to work is slowing me down, although I do have one country trip planned for next week, so I'll get some knitting done then. Anyway, one of the good things about coming back from holiday is using the yarnie again. I really love that little tool.

I came back from New Zealand with sore arms. To be honest, I've had sore arms for a month or so. It's not caused by knitting as such, it seems to be caused by years of bad shoulder position, and then triggered by doing weights at Crossfit. I'm seeing an osteo, and one of the things I like about him is he doesn't tell me not to do things. Also, he doesn't think the knitting caused the problem - as such. So he hasn't told me not to knit. He hasn't even suggested I knit less, but he has stressed that I have to maintain really good should position when I knit. So, if you see me knitting when I'm out and about I'll be the one with my shoulders back, chest open and head held high!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

I'm back!

We  had a great time in New Zealand. It's been a long time since I travelled with a bicycle, and having independent transport was glorious. It's also a great country for  knitters. Firstly, while riding round there were sheep and other yarn beasts everywhere. On our ride to Nelson we passed some very friendly alpacas. I blame them for what happened later, in the yarn shop...

Secondly there is significant (compared to Australia) amount of local yarn available. In Nelson I went to a yarn shop called Cruellas.  They has loads of alpaca, possum blends and Knitsch sock yarns. I though I was going to have to control myself, because we were travelling light (for those of you who see my orange panniers that I carry every day, we had the equivalent of six of those between us.) Jess, the wonderfully helpful and knowledgeable shop assistant pointed out that they could mail it back to Australia, and so take of the GST, so I wouldn't even have to pay for postage. 2 jumpers worth, a vest and two pairs of socks later, I was out of there. No photos yet, as the yarn is still on it's way.

Nelson is a lovely place, and there are sheep everywhere. This was taken on a short walk we took to the "Centre of New Zealand". (Nobody thinks it is the actual centre, but there is a monument there and it was a lovely walk. And there were sheep, in sight of the town centre!

 We also rode to a natural coloured sheep farm. the proprietress has a lot of personality, and knowledge and was willing to share it all with us! From here I bought some felted merino singles to make Romi Hill's latest cowl. It's always fun buying from the person who designed the yarn. It's 100 percent merino and still has that wonderful sheepy smell.

Here's a close up, because the texture of the yarn is quite interesting:

We headed back to Wellington and I had pretty much decided that I had enough yarn, but then Kate took me to Holland Road Yarns.  It's a very cute shop, but I was doing fine, just looking at the pretty colours. And then I saw this:

If you can't read it, it says "cashmere, possum silk". They has a sample knit up, and I just walked around the shop holding it, like a security blanket. So I bought a jumper's worth, but it's lace weight, so it barely takes up any space. And then I bought Leon some merino, nylon, alpaca, possum sock yarn, because I thought he might be jealous.

I had a chance to get a reasonably amount of knitting done on my lace weight jumper, and finished the body on the plane on the way back. Now it's just the sleeves to do. 


There were of course other things that happened on the trip, things to do with cruises, and kiwis and riding and beer and eating, but I figured what you really wanted to know about was the yarn, yarn beasts and knitting. I'll give the very condensed version of the other parts of the trip by saying, a good time was has by all.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Planning for a holiday

So, Leon and I are flying out to New Zealand with our bikes. Our plan is to ride, buy yarn and drink beer. An endeavour like that requires only one other thing: a good simple knitting project.
Because we are riding, and carrying all our own gear I need to keep it light. Socks might have been okay, but we are away for a week and a day, and I might run out. So, instead I'm having a second attempt at Lettuce, the lace weight jumper than I had so many problems with a couple of years ago  . This time I'm using a bright blue yarn (seems to me a bit of theme) which is very similar to the yarn base I knit it in last time. This one was dyed by the inimitable Stranded in Oz. It's in 100 gram hanks, so I may be able to knit the whole body without changing skeins. Meaning I won't have to stripe the yarn, which might increase the challenge level. I want to keep this so simple, so I can enjoy the views, and the beer.
So there we are. I've wound the wool, I've swatched, I've got my little knitting bag ready. I've separated my scissors and other sharp things into my packed luggage, and I have spare needles, just on case airport security goes rouge - they never have before, but it pays to be prepared.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

That's better

After ripping my fail socks,    I cast on a more usual for me sock: Shur'tugal. It's a 64 stitch, patterned top down heel flap and gusset. A normal, ordinary sock, but not at all boring. The detailing in the pattern is exquisite. It feeds into the heel and toe, and the heel itself is slightly patterned.
This is just what I needed. Not boring, not too complicated and fits me perfectly. I really love the way the pattern works with the yarn, giving it extra depth and richness. As an aside, this self stripping yarn  by Rainy Days and Wooly Dogs yarn was an absolute joy to knit with.

 I was particularly impressed with how the stripes came out exactly matched on each sock, and I'll be looking out for more of it… after I knit up all the sock yarn I already own ;)

Romi Hill Return

For the last four years, Romi Hill has released pattern subscriptions, made up of seven pattern and some bonuses, released as she finishes them over the year. The first two years I participated. I knit a few of the shawls and loved the patterns. Even those I didn't knit were a ton of fun to dream about.. Last year I took a break from them, as I've got loads of patterns for shawls. But she has a very active group on Ravelry and I always check in with them to find out what's going on. And what's going on in the fourth collection of shawls - called Friends. I still wasn't going to subscribe, but then I found out the first shawl is actually a ten ply cowl. I've been wanting an awesome cowl, and this one is beautiful. So I'm playing along. I'm not committing to making all the shawls, but I do notice that I don't have any shawls at all in my queue, so clearly I need these patterns!
I don't have any suitable yarn in the stash, so I'm going to try to buy some on my upcoming holiday to New Zealand.