Fractious Fair Isle Friday #6


Wowzers, we’re up to 6 weeks already! And I feel as if I really haven’t done quite as much as I should have. I am a little miffed by the fact that winter is almost over. It’s been sunny, and dare I say even humid here the last two days. Somewhat pleasant. But life’s also been very kerazy. I feel the misspelling of ‘crazy’ is necessary to convey just how crazy it has been this last week.

I know today is Saturday, not Friday, but if you could have witness the saga I experienced yesterday then you would most certainly understand why this post is belated. I won’t bore you with the finer details, but the general tale involved almost 6 hours of walking, a presumed pickpocketed wallet, accidentally joining a birthday party at an exclusive underground cocktail bar, and ice cream for dinner. At the time when I would have been sitting quietly at my desk at night, typing away to you dear reader, I was waiting for a train with my lovely friend who accompanied me on this wild adventure, overlooking the Sydney Harbour Bridge in all its brightly-lit glory. I’m not big on the whole touristy, iconic building thing, but it was quite a spectacle to behold. I tried my best to get a photo, but all I had on me was my phone and my laptop, neither of which did a satisfactory job.
And now this post has been more about why it’s not about what it should be about rather than about what it should have.

So anyway, in lieu of a post demonstrating any progress on the fair isle sweater (of which there is quite little) here is a photo of a couple of the hexipuffs made from all those lovely yarns I showed you last time, and also one of my finished cashmere cowl.

So what if my Fractious Fair Isle Friday posts aren’t actually always about the sweater? It’s just nice to have something compelling me to post more regularly!


Fractious Fair-Isle Friday #5 (or ‘Why do bad things happen to good knitters?’)


I am becoming increasingly disillusioned by my increasing use of the search tag ‘mistakes’.
And this post will provide no exception.

After finishing the back, and churning through the ribbing and first chart of the front like some kind of knitting goddess, my crafting self-esteem was at an all time high. Until I realised that the front was a slightly more vibrant than the back.

I swore it would never happen to me, particularly after seeing customer after customer mixing up dyelots at work and witnessing the anxiety-fraught quest to locate that one last ball in the same dyelot in order to finish a project. But it did. One ball of dyelot 9005 snuck its way into my suitcase full of 1063. Not only that, it snuck its way onto my needles. I swear this is the first time I haven’t checked my dyelots. And it will be the last.
Of course, it had to be that the ball to start the front that I would pluck from the nine my suitcase would be the one in the odd dyelot.

Refusing to let it dent my knitting self-esteem, I decided I would leave it as is, and cleverly conceal it by changing to the normal dyelot at an appropriately sneaky point. To procrastinate facing the reality of having to actually rectify such a stupid mistake, I made this handy diagram to explain my method of concealing my blunder:

Over-dramatise, what?
But in all seriousness, I’m very happy with my progress. Sorry the photo quality doesn’t convey that feeling of love, care and respect for my work this week!

On another topic, I love interchangeable needles! Has anyone else used them? It’s wonderful not having to buy stitch holders. Instead I just remove the tips, pop on the stoppers that come with the cable, and that’s that.

I can’t wait for the miracle of blocking to even out all those stitches. I just can’t wait to be finished. I know I’m less than halfway, and I know that my hobby is knitting, not owning finished knitted garments, but I can’t help but dream of the day when I can wear this jumper. The good thing is that I’m confident I’ll finish. Too many times, and I know I’m definitely not the only one, I start projects and never finish them, only to rediscover them months later and become overwhelmed with a lack of achievement. But I know I’m going to finish this jumper. I’ve already forked out too much money on the wool to quit now.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for this Friday. Maybe next week we can have a game of spot the difference where we can see if you can all tell that there’s an odd dyelot…?

Fractious Fair Isle Friday #4


So here’s the deal. Not only have I not made any progress since last week, I’ve actually regressed. I had to rip back 14 rows of love hearts and tiny dots to three rows before where I was last Friday. I have been one to cry real salty tears on occasion of this happening, but today I am just paralysed with annoyance.

The problem arose when I started reading within the confines of the sleeve pattern, not the body pattern on the chart. (They’re on the same graph and use the exact same motif, just beginning at different parts – an easy but costly mistake). Shame I realised 13 rows too late.

This was the most fractious Friday yet. I can’t even bear to show you pictures.
I promise I’ll have something far better and far jollier to show you soon.

I don’t even ski…


This is just a brief post just to show you my attempt at what is one of the most awesome free patterns around the craft-blogosphere. I present to you, dear reader, Volkstricken Industries’ Neon Ski Bonnet:

After another bout of colour-choice indecision from which I so frequently suffer, I decided on this lovely blue Cashmerino Aran from the wonderful Debbie Bliss.
The first step was to make this cabled tube, which took me ages, simply because I misread the chart due to post-work exhaustion. I can’t work out which was more painful – ripping back 30 rows of incorrect cabling, or re-knitting them.

Lacey Volk, the designer of this super hat, was really helpful when I shot her an email regarding how to go about picking up the stitches for the main part of the bonnet. (You can and will visit her superb blog here!)
It was then that I went about working the decorative wraps for the main part of the hat. Many bad puns about being a ‘hardcore wrapper’ ensued. To anyone that had to actually witness that, I publicly apologise.

The bonnet went through an uncomfortable stage of looking uncannily like a large blue breast. I wasn’t going to say it, but it only feels right to share the truth…

After completing the final garter edging, the bonnet looked significantly better…

… but even more so once I added the oh-so necessary pompom and tassels…

… but even, even more so once it was being worn. Alas, I have no photo of this. You’ll just have to trust me!

This was my first time using decorative wraps, and believe it or not, my first time picking up and knitting an edging of any kind. It was also a refreshing change from the numerous grey hats, gloves and scarves I’ve made for myself. The only downside is that the Cashmerino Aran is pilling already.

No matter. This pattern is ace, and I’m certainly making another one of these soon. Like, really soon.

Fractious Fair Isle Friday #3


The back is on the home stretch! Hooray! Although I’ve been distracted by heaps of new possible projects (*cough* POP Blanket *cough*), I’ve made a fair bit of progress.

The suitcase has had a little bit of a battering at the corners, but it’s still holding up under the pressure of being protector and guardian of my most prized project.

I’ve finally reached the white snowflakes and the armhole shaping. Annoyingly, they both coincide. Casting off the right number of stitches at the beginning of each row and keeping track of when to do it I find fiddly enough. Throw in some stranded colour work and you’ve got a disaster waiting to happen.
Well, at least, that’s what I anticipated it would be like.

It was actually not too bad. I got heaps done, and surprisingly so, most of it was on the train. Normally, I’ll get knocked around, lose focus, and sit there quietly fuming as the perpetrator shrugs at the several dropped stitches. (This is why I’m a staunch advocate of “magic loop” and knitting straight using circulars.)
How I didn’t get bumped or riled by fellow passengers this week I will never truly know.
But people seem to be more considerate to their fellow knitting commuter when the other has a colour in each hand and a complicated, seemingly undecipherable chart on their lap. I’ve even received smiles from several businessmen. BUSINESSMEN ON THE PEAK HOUR CITY TRAINS DO NOT OFTEN SMILE.

Moral: Fair Isle is the path to peace, patience and good manners.

Are any of you public transport knitters? Or have bad experiences warded you away from taking your knitting on the bus or train?

Unlike Debbie Bliss, I decide to do the snowflakes a different colour to the rest of the Fair Isle in order to break it up a bit. I chose a cream colour, which at the time of choosing I was a little uncertain about, but I’m glad I persevered. I think it actually looks pretty great next to the grey. There’s several more rows of Fair Isle to be done (think hearts and tiny dots) before I can shape the shoulders and start on the front piece.
Slowly but surely, it’s getting there!

Fractious Fair Isle Friday #2


I publicly apologise for posting this on a Saturday. I’m sure it’s still Friday somewhere in the world, so I suppose it’s not the biggest faux pas. I was nowhere near a computer for the better part of yesterday but the following photos of my Fair Isle progress were taken yesterday, so I hope that makes up for this slightly belated post.

The suitcase is still going strong. It’s made it so easy to work on the sweater while I’m out, which is a huge plus for me. If I can’t take a project out of the house, it usually dosen’t get finished because my most productive moments are on the bus or train.

The sweater is also going strong, although now as strongly as I would have hoped. I’ve done the waist-shaping for the back, started my second ball of green, and am a few rows shy of starting the major band of colourwork that sits around the upper back and chest. The crummy thing about working 60-plus rows of tiny polka dots is the all the floats. The battle to keep them even, tidy and secure is far from won. I must say though, that the back of my work is impeccably neat. I’m hyper-critical about that sort of thing in my own work, and so to be able to say that is actually quite gratifying.

On the downside, I’ve been questioning whether I really am okay with how loose the ribbing is. I may pick it up and re-knit it on a 2.5mm or something. The thought of having to go back and do that is more than a little defeating. We’ll see what happens.

Over the last few days the sweater has been a little neglected due to the recent discovery of Emily Wessel’s POP Blanket. I swear I’ve lost all focus.
Oh, POP Blanket! How I adore thee. (You know, that sort of thing.)

I mentioned last time that I’d started a circle but didn’t have any white wool for the border. I ended up using the Cascade 220 that I had in storage instead of buying any Morris Norway. It was too buttery in colour – I think a cooler white was needed for this project, or at least for a blanket in this particular colourway of Kureyon…
After fudging the first few attempts at the border and bind-off, I finally came up with a square that was passable! I’m so glad I made those toe up socks because my short row skills really needed to be up to scratch for this one. Like most people on Ravelry, I worked an extra row before casting off to pick up the stray wraps and keep the square tidy.

Here is the first square (attempt #4) being blocked.

(Note to self: Invest in some decent T-pins.)

I wasn’t game enough to photograph and post the first few fails. I’m sure it would have made for good entertainment; I was certainly amused at the completely non-square, hole-ridden messes that my needles produced. What on earth? How is this not working?! Why are there so many goshdarn holes? I’ve done exactly every single thing that the pattern has said! What am I doing wrong? Isn’t this supposed to be a square?
Okay, so maybe ‘amused’ isn’t the right word. Perhaps, ‘curious’, ‘intrigued’, ‘baffled’, or ‘mildly infuriated’.

I later found out that it was perfectly normal for the squares to not actually be squares as soon as they come off the needles. But that didn’t explain why I had so many holes. I think I was wrapping in the wrong direction around the stitch or something silly. Whatever it was, I think I’ve sorted it out.

So as you can see that even though this post is meant to be about my Fair Isle sweater I’ve totally gone on a tangent about my POP Blanket.
Like I said, I’m not at all focused.

Fractious Fair Isle Friday #1


In the hope of getting some more regularity and structure into my posting, I’ve had the genius idea of coining this Friday, and every subsequent Friday until I goshdarn finish this goshdarn sweater, as ‘Fractious Fair Isle Friday’.

‘What sweater?’ you might ask.

‘This sweater!’ I will respond.

‘But why would you even subject yourself to making that?’ you might ask.

‘I don’t even know.’ I will respond.

Actually, it’s ’cause a friend at work and I are making “matching twinsy sweaters” using this pattern from the Debbie Bliss F/W 2011 magazine. There were many weeks of very important deliberation before I could begin; 4 ply or 8 ply? And which colours? And I can’t get any Rialto! Will I use Empire instead? Oh, the life-changing decisions! What ever will I do?! (You know, solving problems like that.) I finally decided on dark green in Empire 4ply for the body, defying DB’s whole theme of “ebony, ivory, and all notes in between”. Rebellious, I know.
Also, I mixed it up a little for the contrast colour. I’m using two colours instead of just white. The bulk of the contrast will be in “seascape twist”, which is a kind of soft grey with a single strand of baby blue spun in. The snowflakes across the bust will be in off-white, just to break up the really dense band of hearts above it.
I’m not sure if my colleague’s decided on her colours yet. It is a hard decision.

I completed my gauge swatch three days ago, with much difficulty. The first two balls of dark green I started to use were overspun and too thin. Fortunately I’d bought all the wool beforehand and the third ball I unraveled was the charm. So I did get the swatch done. My tension was spot on too, so things were looking up.

The next day I was hoping to exchange the faulty wool after work, but the first customer of the day bought every last ball. I nearly cried.
Fortunately she came back later in the day and returned it as she decided she’d prefer something else. I nearly cried again, only this time it was from sheer jubilation.

Here’s the progress I’ve made over the last two days.

I swear that DB has some weird sizing Juju going on. I’m making the smallest size, but the ribbing is about an inch and a half bigger than what I would expect for a small hip size. My tension is right, so I suppose it’s just how it’s meant to be. I can’t find a Ravelry page for it to double check so I’m hoping at all works out. I don’t really mind it being a little loose.

I won’t go into how many times I’ve had to rip back and fix mistakes. I keep reading the chart in the wrong direction. It’s so difficult to refrain from ragequitting.

Aside from that, isn’t this suitcase perfect for holding this project?! A little sleeve for my pattern, a perfect size for all the wool. It’s really light too, which means I can carry it around with me. I bought it today from a super nice couple I met through eBay. I bought two luggage trunks from them yesterday. I walked to their place to collect them, and not only did they drop both me and the trunks home, but they offered to come around to my place today and let me have first pick of all the new suitcases they’d acquired before they photographed and listed them. Result!

We laid them all out on the kerb, with the husband remarking how much it must’ve looked like we were doing some kind of dodgy deal, and I went through all of them. I ended up with 8 suitcases of various sizes. Some were old Globite school cases – exactly what I need for transporting and storing all my projects on the go. The others were more trunk-sized – perfect for storing my ever-expanding stash.

I’m really curious as to how other people store their stash. How do you go about it? If you’ve any photos, I’d love to see them.

Here’s the lining in my favourite case. It’s a big ol’ blue trunk with gorgeous plaid linen on the inside. Ahh, it makes my insides sing with happiness. It seems a shame to keep it closed!

Most of the others have the original name tags, novelty stickers and wrapping paper lining just as they had been when they were probably used as school cases decades ago. The light faded too soon afterwards for me to get any decent pictures of those. I’ll try and take a couple of photos in the coming weeks. There’s so much history in those little suitcases and I’d love to share it with you.

Until next time!