July 17, 2010

Hap-py days

Filed under:Cardigans,Lace,Shawls,Sweaters,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 17:29

Obsessed? Moi?

The hap shawl continues to grow. Amazingly, I have used only half of my Malabrigo sock so I am thinking about adding a big squishy border at the appropriate time. I followed the instructions (mostly) but my increases have gone a little awry so this will probably end up being bigger than the pattern intended. I don’t really mind: our weather is really bizarre right now. It is very hot in the sun (this is where the hap can be used to lie out on) but then a hurricane of wind and rain can come out of nowhere (and this is where it can be used to cover head and upper-body whilst fleeing for cover). And all other times, it can be used to shield against Evil Air Conditioning.

In a few weeks, I’m going to travel to Finland with the violinist that I play with. She’s Finnish, you see, so she has arranged a concert in her home town as well as some masterclasses with her old teacher. (A masterclass is a public lesson with a teacher that you don’t normally study with. People can come in and listen to the lesson. It’s a good way to get to know a teacher that you might like to study with or, at the very least, get a another opinion on what you’re playing. I had a masterclass once about ten years ago with a very famous French teacher who despaired of my Beethoven playing. She completely destroyed my score with her small, charcoal pencil. There is something uniquely excruciating about an old French woman’s despair. All the same, everyone later agreed she was insane. My best masterclass was when the teacher pulled a chair right up beside at the keyboard and we worked through three Debussy pieces and I got to ask all the questions I wanted, and he completely ignored the audience. Which was awful if you paid in – but great for me.)

Errr, I digress. The bottom line about going away to Finland is that they actually have a season called summer there. Insensible though it may seem, I have cast on for a short sleeved cotton top.

The pattern is Arielle from Kim Hargreaves’ latest book, Misty. I’m knitting it in a white 100% cotton called Safran from Drops. It’s not a mercerised cotton so it’s quite nice in the hand to knit with. I picked white mostly because it will match lots of my clothes. I think the top is a style that I can wear with jeans or with a posh skirt for playing in. I tend to wear very light things to play in all year round because I get very, very hot when I play.

The pattern leaves a few things to be desired, unfortunately. The border is stupid. I don’t like using that word but here, I think I am right. It’s a border that you knit lengthwise and then pick up the stitches along the edge of the strip for the body. Getting that border to sit just right is a fine art. In my mind, it’s like the nightmare of buttonbands grown to take over a quarter of the garment. Add to this situation the Rowan requisite that everything is knit flat. Both of these things were quickly discarded and replaced with a simple baby cable rib knit in the round.

I went hunting for buttons today for my Audrey cardigan but alas, to no avail. I also have no pictures of my green alpaca cardigan even though I have been wearing it since yesterday. My resident photographer has been feeling a bit sleepy. Take my word, though, it is perfect for this gusty, changeable weather. I think I will knit another in charcoal for autumn.

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July 12, 2010

Conveyor belt

I can’t seem to stop knitting. I have been a bit under the weather over the last week – I think it’s weather related. Our weather has gone from hot to cold and wet and now back to sunny-but-cool. It has been a bit of a struggle to get back into the swing of practice so it’s nice to have been productive on at least one front.

I finished my Drops alpaca cardigan. This was my world cup knitting and, even though I thought it would be an unachievable goal, I completed it easily. Got the sleeves set in before half time and now all it needs is a good blocking.

I am still a bit mad about forgetting the buttonholes but the garment fits so nicely and the yarn was so lovely to work with that I can’t really stay mad at it for very long.

I finished up Audrey as well. I was sort of putting off finishing it because I was certain it was going to be too big and floppy. But when I got the button bands and neckband on, I realised that it fit really well.

All I need now are buttons. I am thinking about putting a hook and eye at the very top since I forgot to put in a buttonhole. I will post more detailed, modelled shots when these two are blocked and finished completely. I made a few mods in both which I’d like to document for others to use.

I have been trying to work my way through my backlog of almost-FOs. I did finish off the Minimalist cardigan but really, it’s been a disaster from start to finish. It is the most ill-fitting sweater I have made in a long time and even with my mods for the sleeves, they turned out enormous. But you can’t win ‘em all so I have put it away in the hopes that someone will appear on my horizon that I can give it to. In the meantime, I have dug out my only other languishing sweater – ole Henley Perfected.

All this needs is a sleeve and a half. It got put away because winter came in rather quickly last year and I wanted to move on to woollier things. The yarn is Calmer a stretchy cotton blend from Rowan. It’s usually quite expensive – about €8 a ball – but I picked up a bag of 10 for about €40 last summer in Galway. It’s a beautiful colour and is really lovely to work with.

But really, my tricot du jour has to be Veera’s new pattern, the 3/4 hap shawl. True, when I saw the pattern the weather had just broken and true, when I cast on, it was pouring rain outside. But now that I have started, wild angry crocheters couldn’t get me to put this down.

The green is Malabrigo Sock in Lettuce and I bought it originally to join in on the Annis knitalong at This is Knit. I kind of put off casting on because of the huge amount of stitches to start with and the rumours of nupps. In the meantime, this little gem appeared and I knew what I had to do.

The purple is Brown Sheep Nature Spun Fingering which has been patiently waiting in the wings. It’s a pretty stark contrast but really, purple and green belong together, don’t they?

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July 6, 2010

Mystery fluff

Le Tour de France kicked off on July 2nd and, in what has become an annual event for spinners across the world, so did the Tour de Fleece. Much like the Knitting World Cup, Knitting Olympics and the Knitting Winter Olympics, you set yourself a goal and try to complete it by the end of the event. So not only do you have something to pass the time while you tune in, you have something to talk about at the end of the day when you’re too knackered out to do any more knitting/crocheting/spinning!

On my last spinning kick, I managed to spin up what I thought was my entire fibre stash. When I returned from Italy and got stuck into spring cleaning (past tense? I sprung cleaned? let me know), I found a truly gigantic bag of undyed mystery fibre at the back of my wardrobe. It is 575g of dark cream deliciously soft roving with an average staple length of about two inches. I don’t know anything worth mentioning about sheep breeds so answers on a postcard, I guess!

I filled up a bobbin between last night and this morning. I suppose I might as well confess that I wasn’t watching the Tour but I don’t think it really affected my output. But who knows? The only way to find out is to do the same again today while watching. TG4 has untiring and often amusing coverage go h-iomlán BEO – those guys really know their stuff and use wonderful language like ‘rothar galánta’.

But I digress. My plan is to try and extract a 2-ply double knit weight, hopefully enough for a short cardigan. To aid in the eking-out process, I have this:

‘Marvellous’ doesn’t come close, people. It is May’s installment from Laura Hogan‘s batt club (psst! she’s got a 15% discount sale on for the Tour!). There is about 100g altogether which, if spun similarly, should help me if I use it for a colourwork yoke. See? I have a plan.

I also have a plan B. Yeah, I haven’t been practising so much recently.

I have no idea what it is because I lost the label. I know it too came from Laura and that it contains soya and probably merino. I am also unsure how I can make it my plan B but I think I will figure that out if and when I need to.

Now, definitely time for a mug of tea. Thanks so much everyone for all your warm wishes and congratulations! It is turning out to be a lot more fun than we expected it to be :)

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July 5, 2010

Greensleeves

Last week was a busy one but in the nicest way possible – Alb and I got engaged! Yay! He actually popped the question Friday before last, when we were in Kinsale for the day. Much of last week was spent looking for a ring; now I just have to wait a few weeks for some tweaks and we’ll be good to go. Although, I must say I have been enjoying telling people and then showing them my left hand. (Sorry, guys).

My knitting on our road trip was this alpaca cardigan from Drops. It’s a really straight forward knit – lots of mindless stockinette with a few bits of shaping thrown in to keep your attention. The only problem for me was that my mind was elsewhere most of the weekend and I totally forgot to work in the buttonholes. It was a bit of a slog until I divided for the armholes and then it really started motoring along. I got most of a sleeve worked up yesterday.

The instructions include a nice bell shaping for the cuffs. I like the shape but it’s not very practical for me. I end up dipping it in everything or it gets caught in every door handle I pass. So I skipped that bit and cast on the number of stitches it specifies directly after the shaping.

I have also been ploughing away at Audrey. I got both sleeves done and am on the button bands. It was pretty cumbersome to bring along with me in the car so I am only really getting back to it today.

I really love the texture of the ‘bib’. The yarn, Debbie Bliss’s Amalfi, helps that a lot too.

The only thing that concerns me is that it is working up to be a bit floppy. I suppose I expected that but perhaps I should have anticipated it better and knit a size smaller. I think I will try throwing it in the tumble dryer to tighten up the fabric when I’m finished.

I got a bit bored with knitting at the weekend so I started a project I’ve been meaning to get stuck into for a while – a linen hexagon bathmat. I found the pattern via Ravelry to Pierrot, a Japanese craft site. Here’s a direct link to the pdf. The written instructions are in Japanese but the diagrams are very clear.

The yarn is Lin from Drops, their 100% linen yarn. It is just like the other linen I used before. Maybe a bit shinier. I hope it fluffs up like the other stuff, too. That’s all my World Cup knitting for now. I hope to finish off both cardigans by the finals!

I haven’t even started on my Tour de Fleece spinning yet but I know Eimear and Laura have. I have a crazy idea but I don’t know if it will work. I am going to practice and see about it later. Will keep you posted.

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