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

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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

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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…

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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.

Fractious Fair Isle Friday #2

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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.

Practically perfect in every way!

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But not really. I did fudge this project a little, but these newly made alpaca gloves are perfect in a practical sense.

I’ve had two balls of Eki Riva Casual alpaca 8ply lurking in my stash for… oh, quite a while now. Let’s make it… five months? Yeah, so I forgot about making myself some gloves. We had an unusually cold summer this year. And by unusually cold summer, I mean it’s just about been autumn since January. At least that’s how it feels to me. I get cold so easily!

Obviously five months ago my need for gloves wasn’t imperative because I put the project off for so long. But now as I can barely feel my fingers as I type, despite having the gas heater on and periodically warming my hands using the steaming mug of tea before me, my need for gloves has become oh-so-great. Which is useful, because I’ve made the gloves now. And I have the option of going to find them and put them on. An option which I wouldn’t’ve had if I hadn’t made them last week. So there you go.

Behold, a glove!

Here’s why they are so practical:
They are ribbed the whole way over the fingers and left open, cast off with Jeny’s suprisingly stretchy bind-off.
Which is rad, because then you can do this:

Hello! I spy me some fingers ready to type, knit, or just generally demonstrate their dexterity! Perfect! Actually, again, not really. In this photo I just did a loose knitted bind off, but I changed it afterwards. And feeling a little defeated, I couldn’t be bothered to take another photo. Sorry for letting you believe until now that I had boundless enthusiasm for my craft!

The reason I say I fudged these is because the thumb gusset on the second glove is a little (read: very) skewy. And it’s my fault entirely.
Settle into your chair, dear reader, for I will tell you why.

I went to see ‘The Woman in Black’, and I, thinking that I’m some kind of knitting deity, decided it would be a good, even great, idea to knit in the darkness of the cinema. Hollllllly moly! Boy, was constructing that thumb gusset hard! Not just hard: stupid. There was one really startling jump (it was a film of the horror/thriller variety) where I dropped a stitch. Not just any stitch, but one that originated from a m1 about five rows earlier. I guess it was a good thing because that meant it didn’t unravel past the point of the stitch’s creation. The infuriating thing about it was that even though I knew exactly how to re-m1 and fix the stitch, I couldn’t. Because it was almost pitch black. Damn.

My main issue with the film was that it was archetypical of the Gothic genre. Not because I dislike the Gothic genre, but because almost every scene was dingy or grey, or raining, or night time, or in a swampy marsh, or anywhere that its inhabitants don’t receive their proper daily dose of Vitamin D. I waited impatiently for scenes where the characters finally ventured into daylight where the brief glow of the cinema screen would aid me in picking up my dropped stitch. But to no avail. And I had to just stop, put the glove down very carefully, and relax.

I managed to fix it on the train on the way home, in proper light, in less than a minute.

Like I said, it was my own silly fault. I’ll probably do it again anyway.

In other news, I started my first square for Emily Wessel’s POP Blanket today. I was off work and sick in bed and wanted something exciting to do. I had heaps of Noro Kureyon left over from the Mothers’ Day tea cosy and wanted to use it up. Unfortunately, just as I got up to making the white border around my circle, I realised that the white Cascade 220 I’d planned to use wasn’t there. I’d moved it to my studio space for storage in anticipation of the fact I wouldn’t start a POP blanket for another few weeks. (I’d been trying to retrain myself from startingyet another blanket.) It did give me time to properly think about the border though, and now I’m considering using Morris Norway 10ply in white instead because it’s super cost effective and works well for homewares. So now all I’ve got is a derpy kind of circle waiting for a border until I’m well enough to go out and buy wool. I didn’t take a photo because it really does look a little bit pathetic on its lonesome.

As soon as I can, I will venture out, buy the wool, finish the border, and show you a photo.

Fractious Fair Isle Friday #1

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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!

There’s a party in my shoe…

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So, I had this genius idea to try and make some toe-up socks. I’ve only ever made cuff-down and I always had this fear that to do it the other way would be confusing, difficult, tedious, messy, you get the picture… And despite my manager at work telling me that she could teach me the cast on, and that it’s not really that hard, I’ve just had it stuck in my head that it was always going to be tricky, and frankly a bit traumatic. And I wasn’t kidding myself. It was hard. But I think if I’d taken her up on her offer for help it would have been a lot smoother sailing.

The advantage of toe up socks is because you’re knitting the foot first you don’t have to worry about running out of yarn because you can adjust the leg length last of all. I always fudge the ribbing and have to pick up and re-knit the leg after finishing the foot. I never learn. For example, the Jigsaw socks I started (and have now finished one) feature the same corner-cutting, awkwardly slightly loose ribbing that seems to plague a lot of my socks.

You can’t tell from the photo, so I guess if I’d just not told you about it you wouldn’t have known or cared. Damn. Oh well, I’ll just pick up and re-knit the cuffs. I’ll have to match the part of the colourway though so both socks match.

I also really like the heel of a toe-up sock. No nasty heel-flap or holes to darn around the instep – that’s my kind of sock. My genius plan was to make socks of 107 in a medium grey with fluorescent, neon or just brightly coloured contrast toes and heels. Ever since I got this idea in my head I couldn’t get it out. All I could think about was when I would have the time to sit down and just give it a go. I leave home in the mornings only an hour after it becomes light and I don’t leave work until it’s dark again. That’s just the nature of winter I suppose, but I guess it also explains why I post so infrequently. There’s just very little light to take photos. (I apologise for the crummy use of flash in the one of the photos. Grrr, daylight savings, grumble, grrr, whinge, grumble, sob, complain.)

I found time the other night after work. This is roughly what happened…

17:45 – Leaving work. Gonna make some socks. Gonna make some socks. Gonna make some socks. Gonna make some…

17:50 – … socks. Gonna make some socks. Gonna make some socks. Gonna make some socks. Gonna make some socks.

18:00 – Train is slow, train is slow. Oh CityRail have mercy, why is the train so slow?

18:15 – My leg hurts from so much impatient foot tapping.

19:00 – HOME! YEAH! PUMPED! YEAH! GO TEAM GO! Let’s do this! Gonna make some socks, gonna make some socks!

20:00 – So I’ve watched every video I can find on toe-up socks, read, re-read, and re-re-read the section on toe-up socks in my Vogue Ultimate Sock Book, and I have all my necessary bit and bobs. GO TEAM GO! Let’s really do this! Let’s make some socks!

20:15 – I’ve done my provisional cast-on. Now what?

20:45 – There’s an asterix! What the hell does the asterix mean?!

20:46 – It says to ‘WT’! What the hell does ‘WT’ mean?!

20:47 – Oh… okay. ‘WT’ is creating a wrapped stitch. I think I can do that…

20:48 – I wrapped a stitch!

20:49 – I wrapped another stitch! Go me! Yea-ohhhh no! No, no, no! I dropped it.

20:49:30 –  Wrapped it again! Hail me! Queen of the wraps!

20:55 – Now to work my wraps. I think I can do that…

21:05 – This looks wrong. Very, very wrong.

21:05:30 – I don’t think I’m wrapping the wrong side row properly. That must be it. I’ll look online.

21:20 – It’s all the book’s fault. They’ve only shown how to wrap and work on the right side rows. No wonder it looks funky. Hmm.

21:20:03 – Wait… Nooooooooooooo! That means I have to start again!!!!

22:00 – First toe done. Well, that was the most disheartening knitting experience of my life.

And so, I fell asleep marred by the fact it took me so long to ‘get’ working the short row toe. Really I should have just used Judy’s magic cast-on, but I knew that I was going to have to work a short row heel, so I figured I better get some practice in on the toes before I tried that.

The second toe was much easier and faster. I shouldn’t’ve been so hard on myself about it the first time. I know it’s cliched to say that you learn from your mistakes, but I really think that after messing up my toe the first time I understood it a lot better the second time I did it. I’m knitting a little bit of both of the socks so they get finished together. It also means that I’m really consolidating the action of wrapping and working wraps.
Here’s where I’m up to…

I must say, it’s a nice change making socks in 8ply instead of 4ply.

Once I’ve made these, I’m thinking about mixing it up a bit and making some with the heel and toe different colours from one another, or even coloured cuffs. I’m already planning the next few colour combinations using little bits of Estate 8ply from my stash. Here’s what I’ve got to choose from!

The main foot colour will be Greystone…

The premise, I suppose, is that you can wear socks that look plain and normal to others, but you secretly know that inside your shoe is a sensational colour party for your feet.

I’d love to make different contrast coloured ones for each day of the week and instarsia M, T, W, Th, F, Sa, S (or alternatively 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) onto the soles.
Ambitious, I know. We’ll see how this fares for the moment.

Have you ever made, or wanted to make socks? Are you a toe-up or a cuff-down kinda person?