Catching up

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Over the last year, as you can imagine, I’ve done a hell of a lot of knitting. And for once, the things I was making felt practical and necessary.
I effectively had three winters in a row, leaving for Europe in November last year. Though it was only for five weeks, I knew the cold would be like nothing I’d ever experienced:

I owned but one (short-sleeved) thermal undershirt.
I hadn’t seen snow.
I’d never felt a winter cooler than 5 degrees Celsius.

So I got knitting.

When I first saw the Dimorphous Mittens pattern, months before we left, I knew that I had to make them. And because the mitten flaps are seperable from the inner gloves, I meant that I could still use them during Sydney’s comparatively mild winters.

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I originally chose little adorable cow buttons, but they were too pointy and tricky to get in and out of the button loops using mitten-clad fingers. You can find the Ravelry page here.

I also made two scarves. The crocheted Noro one I didn’t end up taking. The orange one I made to a different pattern, didn’t finish, took it overseas, hated it, frogged it, came back to Australia, and made the one here instead.

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Obligatory Ravelry page links: here and here!

Here’s an awkward photo of this actually quite lovely beanie I made. It is almost impossible to get a good photo of one’s own hat-adorned head!

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Here’s the Ravelry page for the pattern and my project, sans pom-pom.

While I was in Edinburgh, I knew I wanted to visit as many wool shops as possible and get some Shetland wool while I was at it. By far my favourite one was Kathy’s Knits. Kathy was so lovely and helpful, letting me take my own sweet time browsing through her shelves and helping me with anything I needed. I settled on this book and making this lovely tam.

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Apologies for the shocking photography. As aforementioned, it’s is immensely difficult to take a decent photo of such things.

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Through making this tam I learnt a neat little bind-off that is invisible. The tam is worked top-down (first time experience for me, as the holey centre indicates!) and you cast off at the ribbing invisibly using a strange sort of slip-stitch set up and kitchener stitch finish. Tricky at first, but way cool. Definitely using it for my next pair of toe-up socks. I’ll attempt a tutorial one of these days; it’s just that perfect.

I lucked out with this project. Not that I finished it overseas, but I did manage to get it onto my flight from Edinburgh to Amsterdam and knit quite a few rows. Having started it on 2mm dpns I bought from Kathy, I somehow managed to have the matching circs in my luggage and when it got bigger I was able to magic loop it and then work in a full round. Usually with something this fiddly and fair-isle-y I would suffer endlessly, but this tam was surprisingly easygoing. Obligatory Ravelry page link!

Yadda yadda. I’m sure I’ve inundated and overwhelmed you by now.

Until next time! x

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I don’t even ski…

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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.

Just a sporadic mess of everything and anything…

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There are so many things I have to show you! There’s a backlog of photos of new acquisitions, works in progress, finished objects… Should I do this show and tell chronologically? Probably, but I can’t remember the order in which I made them. I’ll just start.

Here’s an earflap hat I concocted for 107, although it’s now been sold.

I knitted the earflaps first, leaving them on stitch holders. Then I cast on the stitches for the front of the brim, knitted the live stitches from one earflap, cast on the stitches for the back, knitted the live stitches from the other earflap and then joined the round.
From there I constructed a basic sort of beanie. A lady at work recommended that when I pull the yarn tail at the top through the last live stitches I should do it twice. I must say it makes the top look a whole lot neater. I can’t believe I’d never considered it before – it seems so obvious now.
I single crocheted around the edge just to even it out a little, hide the holes where I joined in the flaps, and prevent curling. Afterwards I had a look at an earflap hat my grandmother made for me. Turns out she did the same to finish hers off as well. Great minds think alike.

These are some more cotton coasters for 107. The snowflake is loosely based on a motif from a new book I bought called ‘Beyond the Square: Crochet Motifs’ by Edie Eckman. Wisest purchase decision ever.

As a matter of fact, I’ve acquired some really wonderful books lately.

The ‘Simply Crochet’ is incredible. I’ve had problems with Debbie Bliss’s knitting patterns before (right side and wrong side row jumbled, one too many or too few stitches, errata galore…), and I must say that I haven’t actually made anything from this book yet, but I have a feeling that I’m going to have a great time making things from this one. It’s full of really lovely garments, including a stunning white vest, little lacy collars, and a glorious dress (the one on the cover, and the selling point for me because the pattern is called ‘Darcey’ – my name, minus the ‘e’). It’s a shame they are all so summery, but at least I have something to look forward to post-winter.

Then there are these two. Nicky Epstein’s ‘Block by Block’ is just – actually if I try to put this into words I might do it an injustice. It’s one of those books that people tell you is amazing, but you don’t really understand the full wealth of its amazingness until you open it. There’s just so much variety. Every technique you could imagine has been adapted for use in making 6 inch square upon 6 inch square. I can’t wait to make a whole blanket from these blocks. I have made one square square from this book as a present for my godmother. The pattern is called ‘Tree Breeze’ and features cables into the back loop – a tedious but effective process. I used Fibranatura’s sportweight organic cotton.

The book next to ‘Block by Block’ is a gem I found after trawling the shelves of Kinokuniya for hour a few weeks ago. The wonderful thing about Japanese crochet books is if you can read charts you can make anything from them. There are very, very rarely any written pattern instructions, and if there are, fortunately for me, I studied Japanese for a few years and can generally understand them. Anything I don’t understand, I have a mountain of dictionaries to make sense of it. I love the idea of crocheting around the edges of cards and things like that. This book has some really inspiring images of that application of crochet. It’s like an extension of these awesome creations by lutteridyl.

I’m hoping to use the cottons below for this purpose.

Moral: country wool shops are legendary.

Check out my haul! I got these goodies, for ridiculously low prices, from the wool shop in Katoomba. I’ve struggled to find Jigsaw sock yarn for ages. The bonus was finding it so cheap. The Sirdar Escape was an impulse buy. The lovely, vibrant indigo that lurks in the centre of the ball is what caused me to purposefully overlook the high percentage of acrylic. I don’t mean to be a yarn snob, but I know that at heart I am. I’m really sorry. I am however slightly amused by the terminology “Wool Rich”. Is that a subtle way of saying 2% more wool than acrylic? Sorry, sorry, sorry. Yarn snobbery alert. Sorry.

I’ve started a sock with one of the balls of Jigsaw in these rad ’70s colours. I’ll have to take extra precautions against SSS (second sock syndrome). I’ve suffered from SSS and SGS (second glove syndrome) repeatedly in the past. These are working up fairly quickly, so it shouldn’t be too much of problem…

Oh, and I found this little gem lurking in some drawers at work a couple of weeks ago.
A surefire way to use up all those loose scraps of 8ply in our stashes that we all know and love. I now know what I’m making everyone for Christmas this year!

On another note, the back of my Paton’s Classics vest is almost complete. I have a few rows before I start the short row shaping of the neck. I was pretty pleased with how I joined in the second ball. The join is about halfway down the back. It was tricky getting the variegation to match up. Instead of joining at the edges and burying my ends I tried a new method of braiding the end of the old ball around the end of the new one. Sneaky, sneaky. I’ll definitely be using that one again.

Lastly, this is a teacosy I made for Mothers’ Day. I used Noro Kureyon that I got off eBay a year ago before I was seriously into this whole knitting thing and probably before I even understood the awesome power of Noro. I started in the round, divided for the spout and handle, and joined again. I went through four balls to try and find the same part of the colourway to make both sides match. And to no avail. It’s not perfect, but I think it’s charming.

Teacosies are going in the 107 memory bank. Yesiree.

Thanks for looking at all my projects and whatnot. Have a wonderful day friends.