Goodbye UK - Last Minute Knitting

Goodbye UK - Last Minute Knitting
Goodbye UK - Last Minute Knitting

I was in need of a bit of quiet this afternoon. Just a couple of hours to sit and knit, drink tea and catch up with a couple of my favourite knitting podcasts. It was rather delicious. 

I'm enjoying another skein of Skein Queen's luscious cashmere, this time in the Sage Teal colourway. The colour is slightly richer in the flesh. It is deep tones of teal greens and is knitting up beautifully with fantastic depth of colour. 

Remember my Loch hat? My dear friend took a fancy to it and so this skein is destined to become a Loch hat for her as a thank you for having us to stay before we leave. To be honest, this is something of a challenge - I'm not too sure that I'll get it done in the next 24 hours ... but hey, it's worth a shot?!

Goodbye UK - Last Minute Knitting
Goodbye UK - Last Minute Knitting

Although I'm following the pattern as written, I'm trying a couple of little tricks for the left-slanting decreases and the yarn-overs to make this as perfect as I can.

Woolly gave us a bunch of different left-slanting decreases to try at her workshop and I rather liked the SK (slip next stitch knitwise then replace it to your left needle, turning it backwards. Then knit two stitches together through their back loops). The result is neat with a twisted back stitch, matches the right-leaning decrease (knit two together) rather nicely and is a little speedier than your standard SSK.

When I knit my previous Loch hat I didn't like that the yarn overs were slightly different sizes depending on whether they followed a knit or purl stitch. So this time I'm trying something different. I'm not doing a yarn over by carrying the yarn at all. Instead, I'm letting it form "naturally",  by knitting or purling the next stitch but not moving the yarn from front to back or back to front after the prior (opposite) stitch. This way, I'm left with a length of yarn over the needle to knit into on the next round, but it isn't too long so the resulting hole is neat and even on each side. It's a bit fiddly on the next row where the yarn over occurs after I have changed from a purl to a knit stitch, but I'm getting the hang of it. 

Does that make sense? I'm not sure how coherent I am at the moment. I'm tired!

100% Pure NZ

Basket Weave Rib Socks

I've had my eye on Sezza's new (free) sock pattern since she released it at the beginning of this year. Her yellow socks are pretty fabulous, but I really fell in love with the classic rib pattern. It reminded me of old-fashioned business socks (in the best possible way!). Anyhow, I resolved to knit some for Mr Myrtle and since I don't have anything particularly portable on my needles right now, I wanted to cast them on quickly.

Choosing the right yarn was tricky. I have a fairly stuffed basket of sock yarn but not much in solid or semi-solid colours. Most of it is variegated. Mr Myrtle initially chose a mottled green colour but it was something I'd picked up at a charity shop and there was only enough for little people socks, not great big man socks. In the end, we settled on boring blue and I didn't cast them on. I had a niggle. I knew the blue would be fine, but I didn't want to start. 

I've recently discovered Annette's video podcast Gentle Ribbing and have been enjoying listening to her talk about knitting, crocheting and yarn dyeing adventures. She is super organised, keeping notes about the results of various combinations of dyes and even arranging samples of her experiments in folders so she can go back and make the same beautiful colours again. As a sucker for stationery, I totally love stuff like that. Then, towards the end of last year Annette announced she was launching her hand-dyed yarn under the name Soft Like Kittens. She has a few different sock & DK weight yarn bases and sells her skeins in her Etsy shop.

As a Kiwi living in England, I get quite a thrill when I find lovely knitting patterns and hand-dyed yarn coming out of lil ol' New Zealand. I knew Sezza was a Kiwi, but guess what? So is Annette. I finally worked out that my niggle was telling me that Mr Myrtle's socks had to be 100% Pure New Zealand. NZ pattern, NZ yarn and of course, knitted by me. And, a couple of weeks ago, after hearing about a particularly lovely update in her shop, I ordered two skeins from Annette. The first was chocolate and black semi-solid DK merino which I just couldn't resist, and the second, the delicious browny-grey sock weight yarn; 80% Blue Faced Leicester and 20% Bamboo, that you can see in my photo above. The colourway is Button Mushroom and it's a perfect description.

A week later I had my pattern and my yarn (and a wee NZ chocolate treat) and I couldn't wait to cast on!

But, wait. I first had to figure something out. Mr Myrtle measures 10.5 - 11 inches around his foot. The largest size in the pattern is an inch or so smaller. I needed to make this pattern larger and thought about adding an extra repeat of the stitch pattern, but it's a ten stitch repeat and ten extra stitches might be a bit more than I need. So instead, I cast on with 2.5mm needles for the cuff and have gone up to 2.75mm for the sock itself. The size seems pretty good so far and the pattern is a breeze to knit, even while I'm chatting. That's important. The yarn? Delicious - sooooo soft.

One last word. Remember last year I told you about combination knitting? Well, I've been doing a bit of that on my sock. I didn't at first and my stitches were all wibbly wobbly. It may block out, but I thought I'd change the way I purled my stitches anyway to tighten up my tension slightly. It's definitely improved my wibbles.

My Ravelry project notes are here.

Coming up Short

Aviatrix 1

Aviatrix 1

Aviatrix 1

My knitting for Outfit 1 is done, so I'm squeezing in a couple of wee hats for two new baby girls before starting Outfit 2. This little bit of rose pink is an Aviatrix hat, a free pattern by Justin Turner of Just Jussi. I think I may be the last person on Ravelry to knit an Aviatrix - there are thousands of projects for this hat and, after finishing one, I can see why. It looks so cute on a tiny head! I am a huge fan of baby bonnets and helmets at the best of times and my four lucky babies had a never-ending supply thanks to my Mum who is also a huge fan :) But, we never had an Aviatrix, because neither of us came across this pattern in time (I'll have to remember it for my grandchildren!).

The pattern is knit flat and begins with the ribbing around the face. It's then shaped with a series of short row wedges and lastly you knit the longer ribbing for the back of the neck. Stitches are picked up along each side to form the earflaps and strap. It's quick, flexible and did I mention ever so cute?

I decided to try some new short rows for the wedges which I found here. They're invented by Socktopus who named them "shadow wraps". In her instructions they look super neat. Disappointingly, mine don't. Well, they do, but only on one side. See the top photo? Terrible. I thought the wee holes would block out, but they didn't. The next two photos are the other side and it's much better.

So my question to you all is - what is your favourite method for short rows? For the second hat I thought I'd try to improve. There's a fabulous free Craftsy tutorial on short rows by Carol Feller which I watched ages ago but I can't remember all the methods and I haven't had time to sit and watch it again. So, I'm counting on you guys to give me a new method to try!

You can find my project notes on Ravelry here, but briefly; 

  • The pattern calls for sport (five ply), DK or worsted weight yarn. I used Rowan Pure Wool 4ply (heavy fingering) with 3mm & 3.25mm needles and knit the 3 month size. It fits a biggish seven week old baby;
  • I picked up my stitches for the earflaps on the right side and then knit an extra row before continuing with the pattern as written. It's much neater that way (for me anyway);
  • After trying this hat on one of the babies I'm knitting for, I'm going to do an extra wedge in the next hat because I think it'll fit slightly more snuggly;
  • I didn't knit the strap quite as long as suggested in the pattern and I think a lovely variation would be two long straps tied in a bow to one side of the chin rather than a single strap and a button.

Finally, I knit this on some straight needles. I just felt like it. But, after using circulars for so long I have obviously adopted some odd habits, like dropping my left needle at the end of the row... it just plummeted to the floor time and time again! 

Don't forget to tell me about your favourite short rows... this hat is getting a button and then I have to get cracking with the next one :)

saturday muses








School's in. I've read a bunch of articles about taking portrait shots and had a shot at it myself today. These are a few of my favourites that include knitwear I've made :) I'm feeling quite excited about my camera, although slightly concerned my muses will tire of it sooner than me!

The Alpaca stripey hat was a Christmas pressie. I made three stripey hats the weekend before Christmas. They were a last minute inspiration, all based on Jared Flood's fabulous free pattern, Turn a Square. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get all three recipients together, in daylight, with their hats - so no photos of the others yet. Hopefully next weekend. For now, my project notes on Ravelry are here.

The pretty red cardigan is this one and the green hat with the orange pom pom and colourwork girls, is this one.

orange candy

candy here & there

candy here & there

My sister-in-law gave me a few skeins of yarn a couple of years ago when she decided that she wasn't a knitter after all. In that pile were one and a half skeins of fuzzy bright orange American yarn called "Lambs Pride" from the Brown Sheep Company, spun and dyed by them in Nebraska. It's an 85% wool and 15% mohair worsted weight yarn, so it's soft with a lovely halo, but I thought the orange was a wee bit intense on its own and have been wondering quite what to do with it. My recent stash-busting revealed nearly a whole ball of white Rowan aran weight yarn and, well, one thing led to another and this pop of colour was born. 

The pattern, Here and Thereby the very clever Veera Valmakii, is brilliant. I've got a thing for garter hats, they have so much body and squoosh. This one is knitted in the round from the bottom up and includes a simple cable on one side. The cable stitches are slipped on the white colour rounds so the cable ends up slightly shorter than the stripes and has the effect of scrunching the hat up a bit on that side. Cool. And, there are only a few decrease points at the crown, so the top is a flat, squared off slouch which is also very groovy.

I noticed in the project pages on Ravelry that other knitters had altered the pattern so that the colour changes happened behind the cable, instead of at the centre back. I thought about doing that, but didn't. You know, if you twist your yarns at the change and pull them nice and tight, you barely see a jog where the colour changes, and you get a neat faux seam - I like it.

But alas, this funky hat isn't for me. It's a birthday gift for my non-knitting sister-in-law who gave me the fuzzy orange. I'm quite excited about giving it back to her as a fantastic hat. Don't despair, I'm going to make myself one too, and you know the best part? The original pattern was designed for Malabrigo worsted weight yarn... I've not used Malabrigo before and from all accounts it's the Queen of yarns. It's expensive, but this pattern uses just two skeins. So, ooooo la la. Guess what I'm making my hat in? 

My Ravelry page for this orange candy hat is here.