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

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.

Some stuff and some things

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Today I finished the first of the gloves I was making for work! Hurrah! I’m so happy with it. It is so warm and toasty – such a shame about the non-glove-friendly, hot and humid weather we’re having at the moment.

(Please excuse the awkward angle; it’s very difficult to take a photo of your own hand.)

Tomorrow I’ll definitely scrounge around for some 4ply in my stash that I can use to make a pair for 107 (and possibly a pair for myself…) Perhaps some Crazy Zauberball, or some other sock yarn. I’m sure I have some lying around waiting to be put to good use.

In other news, the Noro ripple stitch blanket is growing steadily.

It’s rather thick and getting to the stage where it’s a bit too unmanageable to crochet during the bus ride to work each morning. It’s a good night time project because it’s quite an easy, mindless pattern. In the photo you can see the last little mangled bit of the first ball of Taiyo. The Taiyo is like the limiting reagent (ugh, Chemistry analogy). The size of the blanket only really depends on how much Taiyo I have left because it’s discontinued, where as I have abundant access to the gray and black. Yadda, yadda, yadda, therefore as I have three balls, the blanket will come out about three times the size of what you see here.

Noro-wise, I’ve decided to make a crochet chevron lace cardigan. My cousin’s wedding is coming up and the dress I want to wear is too… how should I put it…? Funeral-ly. So I spent (a bit less than) the money I would have spent on a new dress on some Noro Silk Garden to make a colourful, autumnal cardigan to brighten it up. The wedding is also somewhere quite cold so it will be good to have an extra layer, though I’ll probably only make the cardigan cap-sleeved.

Here is what I’ve done of the yoke so far:

I like that it’s asymmetrical. It’s just that bit more interesting. And practical. You’ve got to love a project with no seams!

It’s a different cousin’s birthday coming up and I was having trouble thinking of a gift to make her. Trying the yoke on for size, I had a sudden burst of brainspiration; crochet collars! I’ve been doing a little research into some patterns and found heaps of ideas. Ideally, I’d want it to be a peter-pan collar, but although many patterns I’ve seen are completely gorgeous, none are quite right for her. My favourite so far is by Mel P Designs. I’ll do some experimenting tomorrow. And who knows? If I come up with a pattern myself it could be yet another item for 107.

Guh, so many ideas, so little time.

Surprise delivery!

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This morning I was hoping for a decent sleep in, but to no avail. I was raised from my slumber by an irritatingly loud knock at my front door, and the subsequent over-enthusiastic barking of my dog. I prepared myself to unleash my wrath upon the perpetrator, but there was no one there. Then I looked at the front step. Yes, friends. I couldn’t believe it, but there lay the most beautiful cardboard box I’ve ever had the privilege to lay eyes upon.

I couldn’t believe it had arrived so quickly, but there it was; my order from Abundant Yarn. Dare I open it? Today was my last full day to finish off my little bits and bobs for the 107 opening and I knew that if I did open it I would succumb to the temptation of starting a new project and thus forget about what I was supposed to be doing.

So I opened it.

And there lay a handwritten note and the sweetest little stitch markers I ever did saw! Oh gosh! How my heart sang. That was just to kind of the nice people at Abundant Yarn. And how did they know that I was running low on stitch markers, hmm? It must be some kind of crafty telepathy…

Underneath that lovely surprise was this:

Noro Retro. I must admit, this was an impulse buy. I was going through their stash sale yarn and I couldn’t resist. It’s an angora, wool and silk blend, and the colours were just so dazzling! I’m not sure what I’ll make with it, but I just knew that I had to have it.

Then, underneath that was this:

Another two balls of Noro Retro, and a couple of balls of Cascade 220. Less visually exciting, I know, but that was just preparing me for what I knew was coming…

Because underneath that was this:

Ahhhhhhh!! So much colour! Oh, Cascade 220, you do not disappoint! I was unsure as I’ve heard mixed reviews about you, but I don’t care anymore! Why? Because you’re mine!

I’d planning to make a granny square jumper not dissimilar to Olivia’s from the ABC1 TV show ‘Woodley’. The only thing stopping me was not having the wool for it.

(The gorgeous images above belong to the ABC, and no harm is meant by my using them here. If anything, I’m just singing the praises of the costume department!)

I was taken by this jumper a few weeks ago when I first saw the episode. Promptly afterward, a number of people asked me if I’d a. seen the episode, and b. was planning on making something similar. As you can guess, my answers were both resounding yeses.

Determined not to be swept away with the joyful prospect of making a jumper like dear little Olivia’s, I forced myself to finish the granny handbag I’ve mentioned before. It was a struggle to stay focused (granny square jumper, ahhh!!!), but I somehow managed it.

And the reverse side…

I’ve also finished the crocheted scarf. It’s not the 16 squares I had planned, but after blocking it at 12 squares long it gained a fair bit of length so I decided to stop. It’s long enough to wrap around twice with plenty of scarf left, which is probably the most you’d need from a scarf. I couldn’t find anywhere appropriate to drape it, so I artfully shaped it into an ‘m’ to photograph it. (Subtle, shameless self-promotion.) I’ll have to find someone to model it for me because it looks ten-fold better when it’s on.

And that’s about all I have to show for today’s efforts. I’ll admit, I did procrastinate finishing the bag and scarf. I wouldn’t be a true crazy yarn-lady if I didn’t as least frolick a little with my new additions to my stash…

Plumage, blankets and cats

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I work for a wool company. I flit between two stores; one large city store, and a small boutique-y store in the suburbs. This may seem an ideal situation, but honestly, I think I spend more there than I earn. The temptation is far too great when you’re faced with this sort of thing at every turn…

So, yesterday at the smaller store I was tasked with making a pair of finger-tipless gloves for display in our store. Hooray! Gloves! I do gloves. No problem. So I went over to the 8ply merino to pick out a colour but the owner already had a wool in mind. I was a little disappointed that she’d picked out a 4ply, because I knew for certain that I wouldn’t finish the gloves, let alone the first one, during my shift. But what disappointed me more was the colour she’d chosen.

This colour is known fondly as Plumage (or as Plum-AHHge, when you awkwardly think that the name is some French derivative and embarrass yourself in front of the owner’s daughter.) To be brutally and unnecessarily honest, I found this colour to be repulsive. Whenever customers have bought it and extolled the virtues of its transcendent beauty I’ve just politely nodded or replied with something probably quite unconvincing like ‘oh, rather!’ or ‘indeed, it is gorgeous!’

But no longer! For after a few false starts, gauge issues, needle tip changes etc. etc. I began knitting. And with every row and every new bit of variegated patterning, Plumage began to grow on me. Now, I’m not sure if it’s because I’m unbearably attached to any sample I make. This is often the case when I have to knit a one ball sample of any new yarns for the store as I become obsessed with that particular yarn and making sure the sample is always neatly visible on the shelf. But somehow, by some kind of bonding ritual, I realised I’m no longer repulsed by Plumage. Hooray!

This is my little work station behind the counter. I don’t think one could ask for a better view, particularly not at work. I don’t have this kind of luxury so much at the city store which is just as busy and bustling with people as the world outside it. We don’t have time to knit or even sit down there, so yesterday was a kind of lovely respite. Don’t get me wrong, I love the dynamic of the city store. It’s just that this is a nice way to cap off the working week. It was unusually busy at the smaller store yesterday though, so I didn’t get a huge amount of the glove done. However, I did take a few happy snaps of the glove in progress to show you.

For some reason, even looking back at these photos the Plumage doesn’t look nearly as gaudy to me as it did yesterday. I’d always found it a little too variegated. A little too overwhelming. Maybe it’s just that I’m making a smaller garment so it’s less of a sea of splotches.
Anyway, the whole exercise has got me thinking about making some supersoft merino gloves for 107. I made the pattern up as I went so I have yet to see if the gloves are well-designed enough to sell. But yesterday was useful as it means that I don’t have to go and do all the research again to make a glove pattern for 107. There are plenty of colours to choose from in that particular 4ply, and I believe we’re getting some new greens in that range very soon as well. I’ll put this on the to do list.

I seized the opportunity during my break to take some photos of a crochet ripple blanket I started for 107 a few days ago.

I found the last three balls of a discontinued Noro Taiyo yarn at the city store and had to snap them up. Despite the balls being 100g, there was still not quite enough for the blanket I has in mind, so I supplemented it with some grey and black wool. I wanted to let the Taiyo’s unusual combination of salmony pinks, lime greens and a kind of kelly green colour stand out so I decided not to introduce any other colours.

I estimate that I have enough to make it fairly blanket-y. The width is about 1m and I’m hoping I have enough for a length of 2m. If all else fails, I can go around the edge in black a few times. Or just call it a rug rather than a blanket.

I know that Noro isn’t the most economical yarn to work with, but the results are always gorgeous. And how is one supposed to resist displays like this?

I have a couple of balls of Noro Kureyon I bought online last year somewhere, so maybe I should use that up before I buy any more. I’m not sure I have enough for a blanket though, so I’ll have to find a particularly special and worthy pattern to make with it. I love how the ripple stitch shows off the Noro, so perhaps a scarf is in order…?

Speaking of indecision, I’m also trying to decide what to do with this…

It’s a really awkward ply to work with. It’s marketed as an 8ply at work but it’s really a 6, or rather, marketed as a DK but more like a sport weight. Awkward. But in all honesty, I can’t decide for the life of me what to make with it! I was thinking of a scarf because there’s enough for it in a single ball, but then actually knitting it would be very time consuming. So crochet would be another option (ripple stitch anyone?), but that eats up so much more yarn than knitting. The current plan is to knit a man’s tie with it, but I’ll have to come up with a pattern first. I really want to do this wool justice because it is just so wonderful. Ideas, anyone?

Now, I would be correctly making my debut into craft blogging unless I posted a picture of a cat or dog and told you a pointless yet adorable anecdote about it. So, meet Puska, the wool store’s resident cat. As you can probably tell by the photo, Puska likes grazing her head against things. I was told it’s because she has a toothache and it relieves the pain.

So anyway, I’d assembled the two pairs of circular needles I thought I’d need for the gloves I was making. I placed the the ones for later underneath the ripple blanket so they wouldn’t go missing. I knitted the ribbing and went on to change needles for the hand but couldn’t find the other pair. I searched high and low all around the desk, in the blanket, on the floor. Several customers had come and gone in that time, but one stuck in my mind as being a bit, well, dodgy. She’d rifled through the things on the desk inspecting them all, and there was one point where I’d bent down to get a bag in which time she’d probably had the chance to nick the needles.

Great. I felt violated and a little defeated. I’d been so nice and helpful to her and she stolen my knitting needles! I desperately didn’t want to believe a customer was capable of doing something like that. I mean, I’ve always been told by the other people at work that shrinkage is a part of the business and that things get taken all the time. But I never thought that it could happen almost right in front of my eyes.

So I decided to assemble a new pair, the last pair, of 3mm needle tips onto a new cable. As soon as I was ready to transfer the ribbing onto them Puska came up to me, meowing for attention. She proceeded to do her usual thing of grazing her head against everything in sight. She moved from slightly pointy object to slightly pointy object until she found the holy grail of face massagers. When the dodgy customer was rifling through the stuff on the counter she must have knocked the needles off, because here was Puska rubbing her head against them as they were tangled in the computer cords near my feet.

Thanks Puska, my helpful feline friend. You go girl.

Last of all, I just wanted to share with you a photo of the splendid old bench we have in the store. It must be from an old cinema as the row number is marked on the wooden base and the chairs flip upwards if not weighted down. Many a disgruntled boyfriend/husband has sat on it waiting for is girlfriend/wife to finish choosing her wool.

Don’t you just think the smiling dolphin cushion is the greatest cushion in existence?