November 29, 2010

When in doubt, knit

Filed under:Cardigans,Shawls,Works In Progress — Aileen @ 10:51

We are paying dearly for our long, beautiful autumn as the weather has suddenly turned and we now find ourselves struggling with snow and skating along on paths. Initially the Met said the cold turn wasn’t unusual but have now revised their opinion to include words like ‘record-breaking’ and ‘extreme’. Temperatures this week are set to plummet to -5 and -10 Celcius with more snow forecast each day. This news alone, my friends, is ample reason to retreat to one’s knitting with force, energy and resolve.

On Friday I hastened myself to This is Knit as I noticed that they were selling Twilley’s Freedom Purity for noticeably less than Hickey’s. Enough was bought for the Heather Hoodie. Swatching was immediate and the back was half-knit by the time the first snow fell.

The only problem with being so cold that all I wanted to do was knit on blindly, as if struggling on in a blizzard towards the oasis of wool that I know lies somewhere before me, was that I totally forgot to cast on the two fronts along with the back. It was only when I had half the back piece knit that I looked at it and thought it was a bit small to go all the way around… ah. Ok. So I am now resigned to knitting the pieces and sewing it up.

The yarn is so… wonderful. Truly that is the only adjective that can come close. It is soft, springy, lofty, warm to touch and sheepy to smell. It softly calls my name at night, beseeching me to come, knit more. I know I want to. However, this got here first.

Hedgehog Fibres, Lace Cashmere. I couldn’t help myself. The process which led me to buy not only cashmere but brown cashmere was a lengthy one. A few weeks ago, I bought myself a brown skirt. To that date, I had never possessed one item of brown clothing. I was never even tempted. But these are the things that happen when you have an 8am job and find yourself in Zara at 10am, already finished for the day. One begins to think crazy thoughts such as, it will match my coat! It will match the saddle of my bike! I can knit a brown scarf to match! Queue a few days of tiresome work and increasingly cold weather and you find yourself stalking the Nutmeg colourway very, very quickly. Anyway, the pattern is Damson. It’s pretty easy to follow and was perfect for the weekend, when all I wanted to do was hibernate.

Warm, woolly wishes to you all – I hope you have something warm, fast and satisfying on your needles to keep you going. Take care on the footpaths. Take care of your nearby elderly. And don’t forget your garden birds. They’ll thank you in the spring with their unrelenting song!

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November 26, 2010

Current events

Filed under:Embroidery,Sewing — Aileen @ 08:00

Things are beginning to even out a bit around here. I have some more days work lined up before Christmas but nothing crazy or very time-consuming so I am getting back to into my usual routine. Unfortunately, my stint of work on Footloose the other week aggravated some underlying tendonitis I am prone to in my left arm so I had to give the knitting a rest for a while. I did some sewing instead.

When I was in Galway for Tom Loves a Lord, the one-man play I played for, I had a little spare time to check out Pippa Blue (formerly Yarn). They have fantastic fabrics and patterns listed on their website and I wanted to see them in person. Unluckily for me, it was the same weekend as the Knitting & Stitching show so it was all out of town. Not to be deterred, I decided to have a look in Hickey’s instead and came up trumps with the Anna tunic pattern. It seems that the Hickey’s chain has now started carrying Amy Butler’s fabric and pattern line.

I had a few days at home shortly after that. Since this is my very first dress pattern, I decided to mock it up using some old curtain fabric. It was suitably ugly but I learned a lot from making a rough example first. There were techniques such as making button loops and sewing gathers that I had never done before. Back in Dublin, I picked up some gorgeous navy herringbone wool/cashmere in Murphy Sheehy’s and slowly, slowly made my way through the pattern.

I am just waiting on some buttons now! I got it all hemmed last night. Let me tell you – all that finishing where you attach the lining and do the hems, that really sucks up time. I will write more about my experience with the pattern and sewing my first dress when I get some modelled shots.

Whilst hunting in a drawer for something or other, I came across some lovely fat quarters I’ve been saving for nothing in particular. I decided to dig out my embroidery box and make up some hankies. It is the weather for it, after all!

The pattern is from a Sublime Stitching kit I’ve had for a few years now. All I did was cut out a 20cm square of fat quarter and of the white. I embroidered the white and then sewed them together, right sides together, leaving a little gap on one side to turn it right side out. To finish, I hand-sewed the gap shut and gave them an iron. I made two in an evening. I just find there is something so nice about pulling one out at a traffic light to blow my nose. I don’t know why. I will definitely be making more of these.

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November 24, 2010

FOs: Super Cupcake hat and Thermis

Filed under:Finished Objects,Hats,Shawls — Aileen @ 08:49

I made these ages and ages ago when all I wanted was a Malabrigo hit.

The hat pattern is from the Super Cupcake set. I actually made the set at the time. I had two skeins of Malabrigo Worsted from This is Knit. I made the hat first and then the cowl. Even though I went back and made the cowl longer, I still couldn’t get it to cover my neck properly.

In the end, I ripped it out and used the yarn to make Thermis (pictured). I got the buttons about two years ago in the fabric and haberdashery in Blackrock, waaay back when I worked for TIK in the Blackrock market! This pattern I have found much more useful as it covers my neck without creating a lot of bulk under my coat.

I ended up with a surplus of yarn even after knitting a much longer Thermis, so I ripped out the end of the hat and used it to make it longer and slouchier (a la Scot Pilgrim).

I wear these guys all the time with my light beige mac and pleather gloves I found in M&S that match exactly :)

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November 22, 2010

FO: Twentyten cardigan

Filed under:Cardigans,Finished Objects — Aileen @ 08:29

I really liked this cardigan when it first came out but decided against making it because I didn’t see much sense in the short sleeves. I reconsidered when, only a few weeks after getting Bertha, I found myself wishing for sweaters with more neck coverage and less sleeves. I get quite warm on the bike, regardless what the weather is doing, but need something covering my bare neck. This ended up as a good solution!

Pattern: Twentyten Cardigan from Veera. Noticing a theme here?!

Needles: 5mm knitpicks circular.

Yarn: Garnstudio Nepal from The Constant Knitter.

I’m not a big fan of moss stitch but this turned out pretty well. You might notice that my button band slants in the opposite direction to the direction in the pattern picture. This may have something to do with me forgetting which side is the right/wrong side! It didn’t make any difference really. Aside from the moss stitch, the slanted band and buttonholes took a bit of concentration. I am amazed my buttons look as evenly spaced as they do!

The only modification I made was to omit the side shaping. It is very A-line and I thought it might not be the most flattering shape. So I cast on the number of stitches specified for after the shaping and just worked straight to the armholes. I was actually a bit worried it wouldn’t fit but it turned out nice and fitted.

It is absolutely perfect for on the bike. I wear a light mac, this and a long sleeved top and I am perfectly comfortable.

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November 19, 2010

FO: Stilwell

Filed under:Finished Objects,Sweaters — Aileen @ 08:14

Remember this?! I got the yarn for Christmas and I knit it up pretty quickly… I just never got around to photographing it. We’re definitely having the weather for it now so I dug it out the other day.

Pattern: Stilwell from Made in Brooklyn by Jared Flood.

Yarn: Rowan Lima, 9.3 balls of the blue and 1.5 of the stone.

Needles: 5mm, 6mm, 7mm. I used the 5mm for the garter edges, 6mm for the majority of it, and 7mm for some rows of the colourwork as specified in the pattern.

Overall this took me about a month to knit between February and March. Some things set me back. For a start, my swatch didn’t (and couldn’t possibly have) accounted for the drape of the yarn. I had to rip out my first six or so inches, reswatch with a much bigger swatch and reknit. That I can handle. What I found unforgiveable was the pattern chart. There are a number of charts for the bottom, yoke and cuffs of the sweater. In the book, they are shrunk down as tiny as physically possible. Instead of having separate charts grouped into bands of sizes, all the sizes are lumped in together. The bottom line is that it was next to impossible to keep track of what size I was supposed to be following. Being left half-blind from squinting at the charts didn’t help either.

It is such a pity because the concept of, photography and garments in the book are all lovely. I believe it is being released as an e-book along with loose patterns for download eventually – if you have the option, go for the digital version so you can at least zoom in when you need to.

That said, the finished product is really snug. If I were to make it again I would probably choose a less drapey yarn. It is already a bit saggy around the armholes from the weight of it. This doesn’t bother me as I use it as a winter-night-in sweater but if you had other plans, I would recommend a more springy yarn like a 100% merino.

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