What beautiful autumnal weather we have been having here! Sure, we have had a few gusty days, and a few wet ones as well, but in between times, how beautiful that sunshine has been!
I hope that you will share my joy in having completed my Summer Halo jumper that I wrote about the last time! I am going to christen it my Golden Halo – for obvious reasons.
I still can’t believe that I managed to get a whole jumper out of just 300g! What I did was, because it was worked from the top down, knit the sleeves before completing the body. That way I knew for certain that I could have long sleeves. I was truly surprised that I was able to get a hip-length jumper out of the remains! I had only a few grams leftover. The yoke is a very simple lace pattern, but very effective.
The yarn worked out to be a fairly hefty sport weight. I got gauge for the pattern using 4mm needles. You might be able to see from the photo above that I included some short rows to raise the back neckline a bit. Other than that, I knit the pattern as it’s written – it is extremely straight forward. I would go so far as to say that if you’ve never knit a yoked jumper from the top down before, and you wanted to try out a lace pattern, this is a great place to start. Actually, just going back to the pattern page there, I realised that I made my sleeves full-length, whereas in the pattern, you just knit a cuff. So if you wanted to do that, you’d have to work out the rate of decreases (unlike me, my first sleeve does not bear scrutiny…). Here’s the link to the pattern if you’re curious.
I was going through photos that I had taken on my phone recently (by the way, how incredible are phone cameras these days?), and I noticed an amusing trend amongst the things that I have taken in the last two months. Bear in mind that I am an avid walker and love to get outdoors at least once a day.
As we re-enter lockdown here in Ireland, I thought that I might share with you some of the fun things that I have been working on! Autumn is definitely in full swing here and I have been really inspired by the beautiful colours changing around me. I might not be able to do anything about our 5km radius restriction, but there’s nothing to stop me enjoying the lovely things within it. I hope that you are able to find something similar. The last lockdown got me thinking about my gigantic bountiful stash and since then, I have been thoroughly enjoying diving into it and putting it to use. This is one such example:
I have always been drawn to this golden mustard colour! This yarn has been in my stash ten years now (!!!). I started knitting Hélene, a design by Veronik Avery for Quince and Co, but the yarn was a bit too dense for the design. (I subsequently did make that pattern, but in a thinner linen – you can read it here. It’s a great pattern! I still have the top and it is one of my most favourite warm weather makes. I still have the skirt in the photo, actually, I love it too and wear it all year round!) Anyway, this yarn is a DK weight, hand-dyed by the lovely Laura of Ellie and Ada. Because I had gotten the yarn to make the Hélene top, I only had 300g of it, so I was reluctant to start anything else in it, in case I ran out. I realise how silly that is! When I was organising things, I pulled it out and decided to just make something from it. I went on to Ravelry, had a search for a top-down sweater, so that I could maximise every last centimetre of this lovely stuff, and I found Summer Halo, a free pattern by Drops. Perfect! The lace yoke is simple enough not to detract from the amazing colour, but interesting enough to want to keep knitting.
Isn’t it nice? And that’s it unblocked! I love the stitch definition in the yarn, and the subtle variegation in the colour. I have been ploughing through this. Figuring that I would just make a short sleeved tunic, I decided to just keep knitting until most of the yarn had run out, and then add little cuffs to the sleeve edges at the yoke. But… I think that I might actually have enough yarn for sleeves if I don’t make the body too long!
You can see how far I am already on the body, and I’m knitting from the biggest ball on the right. The other two balls are 50g balls – one for each sleeve. I might just squeeze it! I think that, since I am already at the waist on the body, I will pause on that and knit the two sleeves. That way, I’ll be able to see how much longer I can make the body. It’s all so exciting – who knows what will happen!!
In other news, I have been reassessing my collection of jumpers. I love all of the jumpers that I have knit. Some of the very old ones now live at home in my parents’ house. Some that are now far too big, or whose colour no longer encourages me to reach for them, I have given to friends (that’s a super thing to do, by the way, if you have some forgotten knits – it is so lovely to see them wearing an old hand knit and being snug!). I have two jumpers lined up to be ripped out and reknit – more on that another day, because that is an interesting process in itself. Following a short conversation with the aforementioned Laura about the length of jumpers and making them as snuggly as physically possible, I was reminded about just how fantastic the tunic length jumper is. I have only one in my wardrobe, the Altheda that I knitted last Christmas. The fact that you can wear it over leggings and be super-snug is very compelling indeed. I considered adapting my other two Plotulopi knits (I knit two plain round yoke sweaters in dark purple and light blue last winter, just as basics for knocking about in), but decided that I have enough leftover to eke out another Altheda.
In the meantime, however, I decided to cut the hem off another old knit and adapt it into a tunic.
I knit this quite some time ago. I recall stalking the colour for perhaps a year before finally deciding on this yarn, Cushendale’s Mohair Bouclé. What a colour palette! As yarns go, it is a little on the expensive side, on the face of it. However, I would point out that its yardage is excellent, at 200m per 100g, and its bouclé nature means that you can knit it at practically any gauge. You could probably get a cardigan out of two balls, if you used something like 8mm needles and an open lacy pattern, such as Old Shale. If memory serves me correctly, I bought 5 balls of this to make the jumper and had two and a bit left over. I knit it using 4mm and 4.5mm needles as well. So it does go far!
In taking these photos, I realised just how much I have worn this cosy, cosy make and how the colour always makes me happy! So, after trying in vain to unravel the rib (not sure why I even bothered to try to unravel mohair bouclé…!), I just cut it off and picked up my stitches. That took a little time, because it is easy to miss a stitch in such a fluffy dense fabric. I am now half a ball through a ‘tunic extension’ and I am very much looking forward to having this back in my jumper drawer! I will definitely have enough wool left over to add a turtleneck to the collar if I want to. I’m not convinced about that. My Altheda is very warm and I think this mohair is even warmer than the Plotulopi, so it’s possible that a turtleneck would end being overkill. I could always knit a separate cowl to wear with it? That way I could take it off when necessary. Hmm. I’ll let you know.
Before I sign off, you might be wondering about the little label that I sewed in. I am quite lazy when it comes to these things, but my annoyance at repeatedly putting my jumper on back to front won out over my sloth. I made the label using one of Katie Green’s beautiful rubber stamps. You can find the full selection here. I used fabric ink and stamped it onto a cotton grosgrain, then sealed it with heat. I’m not sure just how wash-resistant the ink is, because the labels I have used on clothes have faded, but I may not have set the iron hot enough.
Anyway, I wish you a bon weekend! I will be back soon with a catch up on a very special knitting project that I was beavering away on all the last month that has now been delivered, as well as with an update on what I’ve been sewing lately. See you soon!
It is surprisingly difficult to write an update on my works in progress, after not having written one in so very long. As one project ends, another is begun; invariably I have two or three projects in various stages of completion at any one time and it can be difficult to know when a good time to dip in and share progress is. It is curious how such small things can create resistance, and curiouser still how the rumination on such curiosity creates a self-perpetuating procrastination. Even that sentence is a procrastination. And this one!
How about some progress on Lucy? I got the body finished!
I cannot remember if I mentioned that my wooden needles were slowly doing me. The wool is still very oily from the fleece (deliciously so! It smells amazing! And not in a bad way either) and it was sticking to the needles. I took myself along to This is Knit, got myself a pair of metal tips and I haven’t looked back. (It was so nice to visit there again! You can make an appointment so you don’t have to queue or anything to have all those lovely wool fumes to yourself). I have since started…
..and finished a sleeve. There is a lot of knitting in a sleeve but thankfully, from the top down, they get smaller as you go so it’s a bit like going down the hill on your bike. I also tried the jumper on when I finished off the body and how glad was I that it fit so snugly! I expect that when I wash it in some wool soap that it will loosen out a bit and fluff up, so a bit of snugness is no bad thing. It is incredibly warm. I cannot wait to finish it!
As I near the completion of one thing, I think forward to the next. I have been mulling over Kate Davies’ Seavaiger since May. A drapey batwing sweater with two colours of stripes, I think the design was published in the Spring of 2019. It is interesting to consider the role that colour plays in the portrayal of a design – it can really make or break an otherwise excellent pattern. Case in point with Seavaiger, I think, as the original colourway was so disinteresting to me that I passed over it completely. She updated the pattern this Spring in a different colourway: two shades of teal and worn with a orange red skirt (more on that in a minute!). I was instantly hooked. Sometimes I am drawn in by the quirk of an item but on further consideration, conclude that it is not really my thing or not something that I would ever realistically wear. Testament to this design is the fact that I am still obsessing over it nearly three months later.
So, what of the orange red skirt? The colour has been another preoccupation of mine this Spring. It is one that I fall in and out of love with regularly. Being such a strong colour, I think that I struggle with what to pair it with, but seeing it with teal (a colour I wear a lot) really clicked for me. And let’s face it: there comes a time in your life when you have to accept that not only do you want an orange and pink jumper, but that you want the orangiest and pinkiest jumper – in the world – ever – since the dawn of woolkind!
I have spent the last three months searching for the perfect orange, which is in fact neither orange nor red. Does anybody know the name of that colour? Tomato red? Killer Flamingo? Let me know. Anyway, I finally found the colours in a new-to-me 4-ply at The Constant Knitter. It’s from a brand called Rial Filati. This 4-ply, Baby Supremo, comes in a fab range of colours, and you can’t really go wrong with 200m for €3.99. My only criticism, if you could call it that, is that it is extremely soft yarn. Great for a drapey batwing jumper, and for baby knits, but maybe not so great for a jumper that you’d be knocking around in. Really looking forward to starting this and it will be the perfect antidote to the oatmealiness of my Lucy jumper.
Yet more colour to finish up for today: a pair of colourwork socks. Despite my longstanding love for knitting colourwork mittens, I had not to date tried a pair of socks in the same fashion. About two years ago, I happened upon a book on Ravelry called SoxxBookby Kersin Balke. It is in German and published by a company called Topp. As you’ll see from the Ravelry link there, it is full of vibrant colourwork designs with a warm, retro aesthetic. It has since been published in English but seeing that it was quite expensive, as a hardcover edition, I forgot about it. Imagine my delight then, when I happened upon the paperback edition quite by accident in the Liber bookshop in Sligo when I was last there! Obviously it had to come home with me and obviously I had to cast on immediately.
The red is a Drops Fabel, the turquoise is West Yorkshire Spinners 4-ply in Bubblegum and the purple is Schoppel Admiral. All very affordable and the latter two come in big 100g balls so I will have enough for probably two more pairs! I must admit that I was concerned about my gauge and how the colourwork might make them unwearably tight. But no, they fit great and I have half of the second one knit already. More soon!
I adore this time of year! It is a time for fresh beginnings, new leaves, revised strategies and revitalised plans! The summer was a busy one for me – lots of playing and not much else. In June, I competed in another competition outside Milan. Amusingly, many people there knew each other from other competitions, and I met a few who had been in Taranto with me. I had mutual acquaintances meet at later competitions. The music world is very small, even on an international level. Again, I was eliminated but had the opportunity to speak with most of the jury. This was quite revealing. I learned that juries, by and large, want to hear standard competition repertoire – you know, the big, heavy, flashy stuff – and absolutely do not want to hear a piece that they do not know. I was told by one jury member that a piece I played – which is ferociously difficult, by the way – was not competition repertoire. I told her that I didn’t pick it for her, I picked it for me. This had an amusing reaction and our conversation did not last much longer.
I learned two other things. Firstly, it is a deeply chauvinistic world. As a woman, I cannot see how it would be possible to please a jury. If you play in a masculine style, it just doesn’t have the same effect as a man playing. If you play in a feminine style, it’s too ‘weak’ (big repertoire etc.). It would seem that you would need the magical combination of a good repertoire choice, a pleasing style, and the jury on your side to progress in any way. Secondly, it is an ageist world. They will always give the younger musician a prize in order to help a career. So, in both competitions, I saw young Italian men win quite a few awards when there were umpteen other pianists more worthy. I quickly saw that as an older woman, my chances of even progressing to the next round were practically nil! But I also saw that this had nothing to do with how I played! I think that if I were younger, this would infuriate me, but I have done enough competitions to really not care anymore. It was a fantastic experience and it gave me a huge confidence boost, funnily enough.
The rest of the summer was busy, but fun! I went back to Switzerland and played a Mozart concerto with the orchestra there (it’s a music course where you can play with orchestra). And then, when I returned, I played ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ with the Irish Youth Wind Ensemble in the University of Limerick concert hall. This was an incredible experience – such an overwhelming level of talent in the ensemble! – and I look forward to sharing the recording with you. I was really very pleased with how it came off.
I have even more news! I got a new job in a university. I used to work there a few years ago so I am delighted to be returning on a full-time basis now. I have a contract but I am hopeful that it will develop into a more permanent position. There are two aspects of this that I am thrilled about: working daytime hours and a short train commute. I have worked vampire hours for the last few years and let me tell you, it wears thin. You never get to go to concerts or socialise at normal times. As for the commute, I have the perfect combination of a little daily exercise getting to the station and KNITTING TIME!
This brings me to the most important part: actual knitting! I have a completed cardigan that I will show you shortly, but today I have a WIP and future plans to share.
First up is a round yoked sweater in Fyberspates Cumulus. I adore the shades of this yarn. One of my most-worn tops is a similar colour to this, so I thought a cropped pullover version would be useful.
The pattern is the Basic Unisex Pullover from Hannah Fettig’s Knitbot Yoked. This collection of five yoked sweaters (with a bonus hat and mitts) sat in my shopping cart on Ravelry for about a year. I finally broke down and bought it. I want to knit them all! In fact, I have a lovely dark teal yarn that would be perfect for Kaye’s cardigan. Would those little dots be perfect in angora or alpaca? Something sort of fluffy?!
I am almost finished the second sleeve (sleeves! Ugh!) and I have my sights on the next item. Are you susceptible to bizarre, but unmoveable desires like me? I bought a short sleeved ribbed sweater from Gap about three years ago. It has diagonal shaping on the body and I love it. I have searched high and low on Ravelry for a pattern for something similar to no avail. Until I found Newsom! I have this Donegal tweed 4ply/sport in my stash for over a year now (maybe two years?) and I am dying to use it. This will be the perfect pattern to show off its tweedy goodness.
Don’t you love when you knit a good-sized swatch, lay it down, steal the needles for another project, assure yourself you will totally remember what size you used, then totally forget, thus rendering the swatch useless? I love that!
Lastly, I have a deep need for cream cardigan. I have a fair few dark dresses and skirts and this would fill a considerable wardrobe gap. This is the Cushendale Mohair Boucle. Isn’t it awesome? I love how loopy it is. It isn’t at all annoying to knit, either. I don’t really have a plan for this one. I changed needles quite a few times on this swatch just to see how the textures would change. It could take quite a large needle. I think perhaps just a simple round-necked cardigan would do it, with garter borders.
The other publication I have been sorely tempted by is a new offering by Elizabeth Doherty, called Top Down: Re-imagining Set-in Sleeve Design. It’s about $25, which isn’t cheap, considering there are only 6 patterns, but by all accounts there is a wealth of information contained therein. I am a long-term fan of the top-down set-in sleeve but there are issues with matching the look of picked-up stitches. I’m not convinced, either, by the look of the contiguous shoulder. I will think about it and get back to you.
I realised after publishing my last post that I had, in fact, never shared with you my new kit bag!
I sometimes have a piano lesson on a Thursday evening in Rathmines. One day I was early so I decided to avail of the opportunity and pay a visit to Sew. It was my first time visiting so I wasn’t expecting what lay in store – a wonderful little nook bursting with fabric, notions, ideas and inspiration! They have a classroom, too, where they teach a full range of classes.
I fell in love with the sewing-themed fabric and bought a fat quarter and a matching solid to make this bag. I used the Open Wide Zipper Pouch tutorial by Noodlehead. It’s excellent! I wanted a bag big enough to tote a fairly substantial project, such as a shawl or a sleeve, and it fits the bill perfectly.
Another FO I forgot to show you is a very simple black skirt.
As you can see, I had to brighten the photo up considerably but you get the idea! I used a black scuba fabric from Michael H fabric basement (about €8 I think) and I have quite a bit left. The pattern I used was the Shadi skirt from the recent Named collection. I tapered between sizes 38-40 I think, because it’s very close fitting. I think it was originally designed as a type of slip. I have been wearing the heck out it and I think I’m going to add at least one more pencil skirt to my wardrobe – you can wear them with anything and you immediately look dressed up.
Lastly, I have for you my ‘nearly’ FO. I had to leave this to one side to work on something else that I hope to share with you very soon. On the same day I bought the black scuba above, I also bought some houndstooth wool check for a simple winter dress.
There is a lot of dart detail so it turned out to be slower going than anticipated. I just tacked the sides together and threw it on to see if it fitted. It was my first time sewing from a Japanese pattern book so I was unsure. My doubts were misplaced, though, as the finished measurements were spot on, and the fit is perfect. I simply have to sew the sides so that the pattern matches and sew in the lining.