Monday, November 25, 2013

Northmavine Hoody - Photography by Alex

Here it is, photography by Alex (aged 5)* hence the naive** quality of the pictures. It's really warm, this Shetland wool, which is lucky since it's just become freezing here. Maybe I should light that fire.

Lovely cardigan, lovely woodburner
From the side...
Hood up
 Especially warm with the hood up - not sure what I'm doing in this one!:

From the back, at a crazy angle. I must replace those curtains...:

*but he did OK I think.

**blurryness, lack of top of head

Friday, November 08, 2013

Knit on the Train Wrist Warmers

I don't go on the train very much these days, but when I do I like to have something to do while inhaling the scent of other peoples' Burger King purchases and waiting for my infernally hot tea to cool down.

The other week we went to see 'Bright Phoebus Revisted' - a celebration of the songs of Lal and Mike Waterson (if you don't know who the Watersons are, there is a great article here at Proper Music). It was at the Barbican in London, and it was amazing. After I had sorted out a nearly night scuppering babysitting situation - you can't get from here to the City of London in 2 hours - I grabbed a skein of something and a set of dpns, threw them in my bag and we set off for the station.

I knew I had enough with one skein of Mirasol K'acha (which I think may be discontinued) to make a pair of wrist warmers on my 4mm dpns,  probably. What I didn't have was a pattern, so I decided to just see what popped into my head as I went along.

Mirasol K'acha is Merino/Suri Alpaca/Silk blend, so it's really shiny, with a little bit of halo hairyness:

I cast on 36 stitches at Didcot and carried on until I had 9 rounds of 2x 2 rib. I did some stocking stitch for a bit and decided it needed a bit of variety, so did a round of yarn overs for eyelets. I did them again a few rows up after a bit of un-knitting and re-knitting, because didn't like the proportions.

A few more rows of stocking stitch I thought why not some more ribbing next? And then do the sequence all over again until I get to the rib at the hand end (having started at the wrist end).  That's how far I got by the time we arrived back home very much later that night.

When not on the train any more I cast off in rib (12 rounds this time) with a bit of increasing in the thumb area to make room for the wrist warmer to sit comfortably round the widest part of the hand, and made the other one - at this stage I realised I should have written down what I'd done as I went - but in this chunky yarn it's pretty easy to count rows so it wasn't a complete nightmare. I've ended up with a pair of snuggly teal wrist warmers, and I'm really happy with them

The combination of ribbing and eyelets have given these a nice texture I think:

They look quite good on too:

Yes, I am hiding behind a book
The beautiful book I'm hiding behind is called 'teach me to be a summer's morning' and is a collection of Lal Watersons songs, paintings, drawings and knitting patterns put together by her daughter Marry.  It's as amazing as the gig was, and comes with a CD of previously unreleased recordings.

These wrist warmers are not itchy at all and really warm (the green jumper you see pictured here is itchy, but I like it so much I put up with it, even though it's a shop one):

Warm all over
So there you are, my extremely complex design process which basically consists of 'winging it'. These are not a highly original or innovative piece of knitwear, and I've have been influenced by all the patterns I've knit in the past; most definitely by Mary Heather Cogar's Simple Things shawlette, which I made a few years ago.  However I'm pleased to find I can wing it - on something other than a plain sock, or scarf like thing - without the safety net of a pattern.

You can get 'teach me to be a summer's morning' from Fledg'ling Records

Friday, November 01, 2013

Wovember Wool Along

A Blue Faced Leicester looking inscrutable. They have a plan...

Way back in the mists of time BB (Before Boy) I bought half a kilo of BFL roving:

Not quite half a kilo (see below)

I started spinning it up in summer 2012 and then put it away again (I think the wheel was moved out of the room when we had a some kind of party, and I never got it out again!). The Wovember WAL seems an ideal opportunity to get this very delicious fibre finally spun up - especially since you're permitted in the rules of this 'Along' to finish something previously started and stopped on.

So the other day night I got out the wheel, gave it a good dust, became very confused about which way round the bobbin goes and how to put the drive band back on (in my defence I was in the throes of a supremely bad cold) and began again.

Off we go, but not with the anti-small finger breakage lock on (a bit of old belt)

I was also reminded I’d already spun and plied about 150g of this fibre already, as I had to skein it up to reclaim some bobbins - that was a nice surprise:

150g of sheepy goodness

The stuff I’m spinning is coming out at a pretty fine weight at 2 ply (I haven't wrapped it round a ruler yet as it's not been washed) I have no idea what it might eventually become, but I hope I don't faff about until next November to knit it up*

*I probably will

Monday, October 28, 2013

Northmavine Blocking

Where were we? ah yes.

The Northmavine hoody has had a bath and is now blocking:

I did draw a face to put on here but it looked a bit too spooky...
I did one pocket, looked at the  pocket, wasn’t sure about pocket. I tried it on (in its admittedly unblocked state) and disliked the pocket intensely. So I undid the pocket and sewed up both pocket holes. On the upside, I don’t have to do another pocket!:

I have nothing against pockets usually, but on this they made my hips look gigantic, which is not allowed.
So, since I didn't do the pockets I decided I would do the hood, why not. I find these increases very pleasing:
 I got so carried away with the hood I decided to start grafting it at about 10.15 one night, after wine. A BIG MISTAKE. It all went so much better at 1pm the next day, though I did muck up the last three stitches, otherwise I'm really pleased with the stripe continuity over the hood.

Three rogue reverse stocking stitches, I am going to have to live with it
I started the long long slog of interfacings and applied I cord straight away, to avoid the danger of putting it away for a 'rest'. The interfacings were a bit fiddly mainly because my interchangeable needles kept unscrewing themselves.

Then I started the Icord, which I measured in episodes of Battlestar Galactica. I have arrived at the equation that 1 episode of BG = 15cm of Icord , unless the episode is particuilarly thrilling (like the one when the Pegasus turns up with the alarming hard line Admiral on board) in which case it's more like 7.5cm of Icord (or, a 50% drop off in productivity due to gawping at the TV) - the interfaces and Icord alone on this garment is equal to about half of Season 2.

Some interfacing and Icord. It is worth it.
Now all I need is a zip (ordered from the interwebz) to sew in, sew it in, and I am good to go.

Quite a lot of this knitting has been done through the great upheaval of 'having the roof done'. It turns out the roof was full of shredded wheat, air and bees nest (is it a nest when not in a hive?) so it's not surprising we've been so very cold every winter:

You never know what's living feet away from you.
They finished it just in time for "The Great Storm That Wasn't That Great Really of 2013" but we do at least have a giant birch tree down in next door's back garden to show for it.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Cover Me

(Ha, yes, apparently still not over the Springsteen thing...).

Anyway, I have had this old jumper knocking about for a few years now, I bought it in a charity shop  for about £3.00, probably with the idea of un-ravelling it and using the yarn for something. However, as so often with manufactured knitwear, it was cut out of yards of knit cloth rather than being knitted as a piece, so the unravelling - it just doesn't work.

Charity shop jumper basking in the autumn sun, with little idea of what lies ahead...
I decided it was good cushion cover fodder, with a bit of wrangling.  I also needed to make a quick thing as a respite from the Northmavine Hoody (however lovely big projects are, it's nice to have a break and do something you can finish in an hour!).

I didn't like the 'worms' much, nor the Roman-numeralesque thing on the border, however it's a a lovely soft knit - I think in some kind of angora mix yarn (the label is gone). I removed the worms, but they left their imprint on the main fabric:

So I chucked the thing into the washer at 60degrees and gave it a bit of a felting. Even though I have now steeked I am still not that blase about cutting up knitting, even £3 charity shop knitting, in it's raw state. The felting kept it together nicely, and also of course made the fabric firmer and easier to machine sew. I did totally fail to 'dry flat' so it gained a slightly drunken border (as you will see later, I did it on purpose of course....).

I bought a couple of cushions in the sale in one of those bargain shops a bit ago - it's usually cheaper than going out and buying cushion pads (crazy eh?).  I used one for the Sashiko Cushion a while ago, the other had been hanging about annoyingly in its vile polyester cover. The vile cover did come in useful though:
It also means it'll be the right size for the cushion pad.
This is my usual cushion cover pattern, the front is in one piece...
Note the on-purpose slopey blue block....
...the back in two with an overlap - I used the ribbed edging for one of the edge which will show, the other I had to hem:
The most nail biting bit. Though if I'm honest there wasn't much nail biting in this one really

Then I sewed the whole thing together (I tell you, once I learnt to pin like this, life got massively easier machine sewing wise!):
Then you can just sew (carefully) along them you see...dead easy!

I did leave a gigantic seam allowance to deal with any unravelling-despite-felting while this thing was in progress. But of course you can't leave the gigantic seam allowance there because you'll have a bumpy edged cushion (not a good look). I zigzagged round and trimmed it down to avoid that problem:

Finished item. I am not sure if it's an abstract tree or sunset or what, but it's certainly cosy, cost about £5 altogether and took about an hour to make, all in:


Friday, October 04, 2013

Northmavine Hoody - quite a lot of progress

I started this Northmavine back in April. Then we had the hottest summer we've had for years and really, Shetland wool in 28 degree heat is a bit unmanageable (by the way if anyone is reading this in a farenheit type of country that's 82 degrees, which we like to revert to in the UK when it gets really hot, as it sounds so much more impressive). So I put it away and went to see Bruce Springsteen and to several festivals. All the time though, in the gaps between events, I could see it lurking in knitting corner...

I fear if we were to remove all the yarn and Lego from the house it would collapse

Come September and we had a bit of a cold snap, so the Shetland wool suddenly seemed quite attractive again. We also bought a new TV, which came equipped with Netflix and other such wonders of the modern age. There's nothing like immersing yourself in a TV series to help the stockinette along, but it has to be the right kind; not too challenging, and easy enough to follow if you decide you actually should check you have 196 stitches now. I do like a silly cop show (CSI NY is pretty much a grown ups version of Scooby Doo after all) - so 'Castle' seemed to fit the bill - all 34 episodes of Season 1 and Season 2.

This is how it's been going:

18Sep2013 - first sleeve done to joining stage, second sleeve begun. Speed of knitting can only be explained by recent subscription to Netflix and availability of easy to watch while knitting fairly funny/cute/silly/unresolved sexual tension filled murder mystery cop show ‘Castle’ starring Nathan Fillion out of Firefly.

Even the wrong side is lovely.
25Sep2013 - Sleeves and body joined in perfect harmony. I feel I am on the home straight. Nice reference to ‘Firefly’ in S2 Ep6 of Castle.

Clever hem bits. Also on sleeves. Ends.
28Sep2013 - Raglan shaping almost done (well 19 out of 29 repeats which is more than halfway). Meanwhile in Castle S2 - Beckett’s flat was blown up by a crackers serial killer. Later, in my favourite  episode to date, Castle though he was cursed by a Mayan mummy (I love it when they have crazy archaeology story lines, real archaeology is so much more humdrum).

Raglan, my favourite kind of shoulder. Must find out more about Lord of same name.

Then I ran out of Castle (though Season 3 is now on Channel 5, so I have set the magical recorder box to record it). And started on 'Battlestar Galactica'. Because there's nothing better than a silly cop show than some Sci-Fi...

03Oct2013 -Finished all the raglan decreases, and got to the bit where the hood is started. However I am not yet decided on the whole hood thing. So I have started the pockets instead (in J&S again but some natural white I had left over from Sheepheid). I have moved on from ‘Castle’ while some episodes accumulate on the magical recorder and started on ‘Battlestar Galactica’. This was slow at first but then really delivers (oh, the revelations and major plot points!)  in Episode 2. There was almost too much delivering as I actually had to put the knitting down and watch what was going on. Also, really very good space battles...I quite like the look of those Cylon spaceships, even though I know them to be (probably, but who knows really?) evil.

It looks like its on the wrong way but I believe you tuck it in after. I trust Kate.
 I will continue pocketing, and then decide if I'm doing a hood or not.

So almost finished I can *feel* it...apart from the massive i-cord edging thing.

Friday, September 13, 2013

I finished something! It's a scarf, though not your normal type of scarf...

It's been very hot this summer. Too hot to knit (and I don't give in that easily). So my major project - Northmavine Hoody - was put on hold. Really, Shetland wool and 28 degrees C don't mix. I do have  a couple of things that are burbling along for what sometimes seems like forever; a pair of socks I've been knitting since August 2012 have gained a couple of extra rows, and the highly kitsch crocheted blanket got a bit of  a hooking.

After I had got over my many distractions (see previous post) I decided I needed to Actually Finish A Thing. So went back to the Windward Scarf. Or, as my husband calls it, The Really Wierd Scarf Thing.

It's a bit wierd, in a good way:

Just hangin' about

And there are only so many rectangular shaped scarves a person needs aren't there? (little voice in my head  says "No, no for do you not have your eye on this truly wondrous Alice Starmore item, eh?").

This one is not rectangular:
Not a rectangle
It's a series of triangles you make as you go along (its not sewn together after as may appear to the casual observer):

How anyone designs such a thing is beyond me, my head hurt a bit trying not to get lost in the pattern. This is by Canadian designer Heidi Kirrmaier,  she says:
 "The multiple changes in knitting direction of this piece are akin to the manoeuvring required when sailing into the wind, or windward".
I'm not a sailor, so can't really comment. However the reference to the sea led me to choose a sea green yarn - Handmaiden Casbah Sock - which I happened to have in my stash (I believe it's 'Hemlock'), and the variegated dye suits the pattern beautifully:

Altogether now: "We are sailing..."
The only problem I have is I can't fit it in my scarf cupboard...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Distracted (or, why I have not been knitting)

I spent all of last summer claiming I wanted to live in a yurt in Spain, where it would be hot all the time and I wouldn't get rained on AT ALL. I have pretty much changed my mind about that after these weeks of enormously high temperatures (for the UK) which have pretty much made me hide in the curtained house (if I haven't had to go to work, where it is, at least nominally, air conditioned) from the great fire ball in the sky. I'm just not cut out for it, with my northern genes and fair skin.

So that's stopped me knitting, certainly on  the Very Warm Shetland Wool cardigan. I did a few desultory chains on the Totally Kitsch Crochet Blanket the other day, but I could tell my heart wasn't in it.

And it turns you do have to concentrate on the very involved language and excellent swearing in Deadwood (my current DVD of choice) to have any idea of what's going on - usually some throat cutting, drinking, whoring and laudanum/guilt induced angst. It's very distracting. That and the need to join in with the on-screen whisky drinking.

I even got out the strange but lovely scarf, as despite it's strangeness it is a) smallish b) quite easy once you get going. But then I also found a good online bass guitar course (like teachers of same, like hens teeth!) and I've had this Ibanez since February, so I really need to get going (isn't it lovely?):

Drum kit, I must point out, belongs to small boy

So far I've discovered my left hand isn't as large as I thought, but I have a pretty good sense of rhythm (even if I find it hard to spell). It's hard, but is anything worth doing that isn't a bit hard...? As I am at the - let's be honest - slightly dull stage of learning to play a thing with strings, I've also been melodeoning a bit more than usual, to help it along.

I'm also blaming Bruce Springsteen, who we went to see on June 20th in Coventry (we like a glamourous venue).

My ticket. I don't usually keep them.
 It's been very distracting,  buying loads of CDs...

Some way to go... I know
...reading reviews of every gig and looking at YouTube (did find the BBC 4 Seeger Sessions Concert there, in full, marvellous!); spending more hours than necessary to wondering if there was any chance of getting to Hard Rock Calling (no), Cardiff? (no, again) or Leeds - where my brother lives, possible free overnight accomodation - £1,400 a ticket they were going for, so, no no no; researching how in the hell you get to the front if when we ever go again (answer: there's a very involved queueing and check in system, which I thought sounded a bit crackers at first but I Might Be Coming Around To) .

I don't know why I get a bit obsessed like this about things *eyes giant dune of yarn and fleece,  2 bass guitars, 4 melodeons, huge CD collection* but I suppose it's better than being disinterested. Which is why this initially reluctant cycle commuter is now facing the prospect of an 80+ mile bike ride to Glastonbury on August Bank Holiday...I should probably train a bit.

And when the temperature drops, I'll start back on the knitting. I hope I've written stuff down...

Friday, May 24, 2013

(Sort of) copy of People Tree Skirt - Pt 2, the curse of the buttonholes.

By the end of part one I had cut out my four skirt panels and was just about to embark on an epic weekend of belated birthday cake making, sandwich and things on sticks construction, and a party for 10 (count 'em) five year olds on the Sunday.  I took the Monday off which meant I had time to sew some of the skirt together (and fall asleep in the chair at 4pm).

I dug out the pieces from where I'd hidden them from sticky fingers - pressed them again, there is a lot of pressing - then started the sewing.

I did one side seam of each fabric first, carefully making sure I had the equivalent panels matched up for when it's all sewn together (I have terrible trouble with 'seeing' things laid out, in my head!):

Then did a check to make sure it was matching, it did!, so I decided I'd sew the other two side seams, and that I could sew the whole thing along the bottom edge to make a sort of 'bag' to turn inside out, and leave no hem seams showing.


That REALLY REALLY didn't work. I think I need more sewing-engineering experience - what I got was something ever so slightly 'puff-bally', and I knew it would never hang well. So out came that seam quick sharp. I then sewed together the waistband edge, and did a hem on each of the different fabrics, hopefully deep enough for it not to matter if you get a flash of the 'underskirt' from time to time, I zig-zagged round the raw edges, and then hemmed them:


Hem hem!
They came out the same length, I felt quite pleased about that.

The next job was to make the waistband. I made two strips - one of each fabric - sewed along the long edge, pressed it flat, pressed it over, made a small hem and sewed it to the skirt.

waist band innards
Then I did some button holes, I love doing buttonholes with the magic buttonhole mechanism on the machine:
Add caption
Unfortunately, despite the fun had in doing them, the buttonholes were all entirely wrong:

Wrong, wrong, wrong.
By now I was quite tired. What I should have done if I was a proper seamstress is take off the whole waistband, make a new one and done the buttonholes again. But since I am not (nor shall I ever be) on the Sewing Bee, I decided to fudge it instead. I found some matching ribbon in my tin:

It's a good job I am a slave to haberdashery
And sewed it over the offending buttonholes, using that as a tie instead of making the long tapes I'd originally intended. It's come out alright:

A fudge, but a pretty one!
I wore it at a festival last week, and it's comfortable and fits me. Which is pretty good going for a first attempt. But now the UK is plunged once more beneath the jet stream of doom, summer already apparently over, I'm going back to my knitting for a bit.