June 21, 2012

Mostly about knitting

Spurred on by our chilly weather, I finished up my Bedford sweater at long last.

Such is today’s gloom, modelled photos are unfortunately out of the question :( I can’t really complain though as I know other parts of the country have seen torrential rain whereas we have only had clouds. Grey, suffocating clouds but dry ones nonetheless.

I was pottering about with the camera when I realised that I had never shown this shawl properly. I don’t really remember when I knit this, though it must have been after Christmas. I knit a cream version for my teacher and liked it so much that I made one for myself afterwards.

I used 1 skein of the delicious Studio Donegal Soft Merino (which you can peruse here) and something like 4.5mm needles. They were a bit small. I think 5.5mm would have resulted in a loftier fabric and a bigger shawl. That said, I love it dearly, wear it often and have another skein in the light blue for another on the bigger needles. You might spy the silver shawl pin there – it was a souvenir from Cafayate in Argentina, locally made by a lady silversmith. It was about €10. We were very picky about what we bought to put in our suitcases as we were travelling for nearly 5 weeks but this, I regret not one jot. Every time I use it, I think of the woman who made it, of our wonderful holiday and am reminded that here, we have absolutely no concept of what the middle of nowhere is.

What else? Oh, I really wanted to try out the Jamieson and Smith Jumper Weight yarn that This is Knit has started carrying so I knit up a beret using my own pattern (Beret Easy… I’m feeling a bit old right now). Quick and easy, it was perfect for watching basketball during the week. All that remains is for the inner band to be sewn down.

It’s a very nice yarn. A bit scratchy perhaps but I expect it will soften up a lot when I wash it. It is lovely and sticky, making it perfect for colourwork. Have you seen Kate Davies’ Sheep Carousel yet? I believe the digital pattern will go for sale in a few days. This is the point where I think we abandon all other notions and cast on for it immediately!

I should probably explain why I haven’t been knitting in the last year or so – I have had tension problems with my left arm and shoulder. I am pretty much cured for now, which explains the recent surge in production! It was a combination of a number of things, such as sitting more for teaching, being stressed and playing a LOT from February to April. I had a number of days where I was sitting and playing for more than five hours (for competitions or rehearsals). Days where I sight-read a lot tend to leave me very stiff. Anyway, I started taking more breaks, stretching more, doing some yoga and just stopped working so much, and it’s healed by itself. I knit and spun very little because it aggravated it a lot: I am happy to be back to my old self. I really missed it and oddly, found myself not wanting to be interested because I wasn’t able to pursue it. Sewing is great but really, it’s not knitting!

Speaking of which – you may have already heard about the big debacle concerning the Ravelympics? (If you don’t know about the Ravelympics, it’s basically a big worldwide knit/crochet/spin-a-long to the Olympics, with most communication going through Ravelry) Well, the commission for the US sent a cease and desist letter to Ravelry because the Ravelympics use the Olympics brand or logo or something. I don’t think they do exactly, but it’s enough to cause rancour. Not just that – by running such a harmless event, we are disrespecting what it stands for and the athletes that participate. I’m sure you can find out all the details on Ravelry. Whilst they probably do have some sort of legal point, I don’t really understand their point generally. It’s free, it doesn’t generate profit… mostly, it just stinks of one group of people saying, this other minor, insignificant group of hobbyists is not taking this seriously enough! they’re having FUN! you can’t have FUN at the Olympics! Also, isn’t the whole point of the Olympics to be inclusive, international and for-the-fun-of-participation?

Well, whatever the outcome, I’ll be knitting along to the Olympics like I always do. I haven’t joined a team yet but I think I will participate in two events regardless: the frogging trampoline and the sweater triathlon. I’m going to rip out my Pole sweater and the sweater I want to knit is Amy Christoffer’s Larch cardigan. I have the yarn, I want the cardigan, I have marathons that need watching. And those races where they’re not outside the stadium but they go round and round and eventually they ring a bell and they all run faster? I love those. Regarding the Pole, I love it and adored knitting it, but I never wear it. I think it will live a happier life reincarnated as Heidi Kirrmaier’s Nanook.

I will probably get sucked into the Sock Put and quite possibly the Hat Dash – and the Mitten Medley is far too tempting! What will I do! A month is not nearly long enough to decide!

PS: Have also been sewing but too dark for modelled photos – the Lisette Market skirt (here), yet another pair of shorts but longer this time (here) and working on an Amy Butler top and a pencil skirt for my mum (here). I have been practising, too, I swear – there’s always time for the fun stuff.

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February 22, 2010

FO: Handspun Hat

Filed under:Finished Objects,Hats,Knitting Olympics — Aileen @ 09:57

This kind of doesn’t count as an FO in my book (even though it is) because it knit up really quickly. We stuck on Barfly and it was finished by the end of the movie. Anyway, I was just excited to see how my handspun knit up.

Pattern: Basic top down beanie from Knitting from the Top (Barbara Walker).

Needles: 4.5mm all the way.

Yarn: This and some left over Brown Sheep Nature Spun worsted from this.

The bumpy bits you see are actually not the cause of the handspun alone – I threw in some purled rounds to show up the texture of the yarn a bit better. I will be really interested to see how the other yarn I spun (the pink/purple stuff) will knit up in comparison to this.

Oh and hey! In case anyone has the Monday blues out there, remember there’s knitting at the Tea Garden from 630 this Friday and there’s a spin-in on the balcony of the Powerscourt Centre on Sunday afternoon from about lunchtime. This double-whammy will definitely be helping me get through my week!

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February 21, 2010

FO: Balaclava

Filed under:Finished Objects,Hats,Knitting Olympics — Aileen @ 10:00

Pattern: From Russia with Love via Craftzine.

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, 3 balls (almost exactly – I had about 5m left over).

Needles: 4.5mm 40cm circular and a 4mm crochet hook for the opening.

Verdict: Very snug. Very!

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February 20, 2010

Ravelympics: Day 10

Filed under:Finished Objects,Knitting Olympics,Spinning — Aileen @ 16:13

So. This Flying Camel event. It seems to have started something quite unstoppable. This is the first of my Ashford merino-silk batches. Remember how I was telling you that I spun the second bobbin in contrary motion to the first? And how I only realised when I was plying them together? This is what I ended up with.

The really small skein at the front there seems to have responded well to being washed and stretched out. The other skein was maybe a bit too big; some parts in the middle seems to have been unaffected. I am considering re-washing and re-skeining it to see if it can be redeemed. Kind of a rookie mistake, though, that I was determined to avoid with the next batch!

Now this stuff turned out well. It’s a fairly consistent 2-ply double knit. To be honest, it really didn’t look very good but when I washed it, it fluffed out and settled nicely. I have about 100g of this. For both batches, I spun them worsted-style with a forward short-draw (well, I think I did!).

And do you remember the batt I showed you mid-spin? Since it was only a 40g batt, I only filled half a bobbin. I figured I should challenge myself to learn something new so instead of andean-plying it back on itself as I would normally do, I decided to chain or navajo ply it. It’s a little funny but it works really well, even though I ended up over-twisting some parts. I don’t mind too much though, it was just for a bit of fun.

I got a massive kick out of spinning this, as little as there is in it. It was my first time spinning from the fold and using a long backwards draw. There will definitely be more mixed batts in my future! This one was called Clara and (I found the wee composition tag under my mountain of handspun…) it’s made up of merino, bluefaced leicester, angelina, tencel and bamboo. Mmmm.

When I ordered that batt from Laura, I also got two plaits of roving with this in mind. Altogether I had 240g of bluefaced leicester. It’s the first time I have ever spun alot of something with a sweater in mind and I figured it would take me ages. In fact, it only took me a few days.

The biggest drawback was that, when I was plying, my bobbins kept filling up very quickly. This also explains why my skeins are pretty small! This is the first batch that I spun, plied and washed. The second batch – three more skeins – is on the line. Like the Ashford stuff, I spun it using a short forwards draw. I ought to have enough for the sweater but I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

My problem now is that… I don’t have any more fibre to spin. I found a wee ball of roving that I bought in Chicago two years ago and have gotten a bobbin of lace weight out of it that I am going to have to ply back on itself. I am trying to eke it out, though, and frankly am feeling a bit bereft at the thought of no spinning next week. Of course, I am drowning in handspun… it never rains but it pours!

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February 16, 2010

Ravelympics: Day 5

Filed under:Hats,Knitting Olympics,Spinning,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 10:21

…Or Knitting Olympics, or just plain knitting-while-you-watch-the-olympics… whatever you want to call it, I’m doing it! The whole idea is to set yourself a challenge and try to complete it within the olympic window (17 days). As I said before, I set myself the challenge to finish off my Minimalist Cardigan. Needless to say, I haven’t even touched and instead, have launched myself with full gusto into the Flying Camel spinning event.

Remember the red stuff I posted at the weekend? It’s all plied up now and drying on the line. It turned out lovely and I can’t wait to knit with it. Yesterday was a bit of a struggle for me because I wasn’t feeling very well. Luckily for me, I remembered that I had a mixed batt from Laura Hogan sitting in my stash. I promised myself that if I did all my work and got through my lesson in the evening, I could start spinning this up when I got home.

You can’t see it very well on the bobbin but it is a mixed batt of regular merino dyed green, white and bright pink with blue silk mixed through it and some creamy, fluffy, silky bits through… AND some blue sparkly bits too! The sparkly bits tend to show up out of the blue (I’m so funny!), which delights me no end. Of course, the whole point of the Knitting Olympics is to challenge yourself. I’m using this batt to teach myself some new things: I’m spinning ‘from the fold’, I’m using a long draw drafting technique and I’m planning on Navajo or chain plying the bobbin when I’m finished. If you’re not into spinning, all this means is that I’m hoping to end up with a fluffy, light yarn as opposed to a smooth, dense yarn (which was the way I spun the red stuff).

Of course, I couldn’t just procrastinate on the Minimalist on one front. I cast on for a balaclava on Saturday, too, for the Hat Halfpipe event.

It’s From Russia With Love. Doesn’t it look snug? I’m using Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran and so far, have already used nearly two balls for just the neck part. Just as well my head isn’t very big. I hope everyone elses’ projects for the Olympics are going smoothly!

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