General ramblings

Hartland

Playing catch up as usual.

I think I mentioned some time ago that seamless was no longer my favourite type of construction. There was a time that I loved knitting seamless garments and they were pretty much all I worked on. In fact the three cardigans patterns that I published are all seamless construction.

Seamless v.s. seamed is a contentious subject amongst many knitters. It can evoke strong opinions in even the most chilled of knitters and I’ve seen a few fairly heated arguments erupt through the years.  You know though, I’m not sure why really. Each method has its’ merits and pitfalls. Some methods work well for some types of garments, other methods for others.

My move away from seamless construction, and I am talking mainly garments here, came about very slowly and as with anything there is more than one reason why.

I love yoke sweaters, always will, and the best way to knit them is seamlessly, especially if they have any colour work, so if I want to knit any more this will certainly be the way I will do it. But at the moment I prefer a set in sleeve, they just seem to suit me better in terms of fit and look. But..wait for it… I can’t find a seamless method of knitting them that  gives me results that I am happy with.

Perhaps it is my body shape, I think it certainly has something to do with my shoulder width being slightly wide for my (now) body size. For me, a seamless set in sleeve does not fit as well as a seamed one, no matter what method I use to knit one. On some garments, the fit is all about the shoulders. If you get the shoulder width right, the rest of the garment can be as large and ill fitting as you like and it will still hang right and look a good fit.

I have tried a contiguous set in sleeve where everything is knitted as you go but it didn’t work for my shoulder shape and didn’t sit right. The top of the sleeve appeared far too angular on me.  I have tried picking up stitches around the armhole and working short rows for the sleeve cap but it still didn’t really work for me either and I just don’t like the look that you get. I know it works for a lot of people but I have also seen a great deal of examples where the sleeve ‘seam’ pulls down the arm and doesn’t sit on the shoulder like it should. The garments look too small although they clearly fit well elsewhere.

The other reason is simply to do with the sleeves themselves. I found that I really don’t like knitting sleeves in the round. I knit a lot of socks and don’t have a problem with them so it has nothing to do with small circumferences in the round or anything like that. I’m not sure I can put my finger on it at the moment but I had several WIP’s that sat languishing in my knitting basket and when I sorted through them every one had stalled on the sleeves. Top down, bottom up made no difference, all had been brought to a point where the seamless sleeves needed to be worked and then the project had stalled.

So, at the moment, seamed garments are what I am knitting and perhaps it is time to move away from that subject for a while and show you one of the things I have finished recently.

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This is Hartland by Sarah Hatton. It was re-published in The Knitter issue 103. The yarn is from stash, a Sirdar wool blend.

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The pattern is a seamed one and was easy to follow but I did have a few issues with it. I knitted the jumper as per pattern without any adjustments but had a few issues with the neck width being too wide for my taste. It wasn’t apparent that it was that wide in the photos and there were no figures in the schematic for the neck width. In the end I ripped back and re-knitted the neck edging three times, each time decreasing the number of stitches that I picked up and again decreasing on the first round to pull it in even more. I am glad to say that it now fits nicely around the neck and shoulders although the body is a little boxy. If I were to knit it again I would probably put in a little waist shaping.

Until next time x

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General ramblings

Diet Experiment

I have been keeping busy as usual, especially over the last …. almost three months since my last post apparently.

I wanted to spend some time just thinking, weighing up and sorting out. Sometimes it helps to shake things up a bit and see what falls out. Like that cupboard that you just keep throwing things into until one day you open the door and it all comes tumbling out at you. How much better is it once you’ve faced up to all the mess and given the whole thing a tidy up. And, what better time to do it than the summer when the weather and long days seem to spur you along.

I started out by taking another look at my diet. As you may know from some of my posts, I do not eat gluten, dairy or processed foods. I had been very strict over what I ate for somewhere between four and five years and this had basically taken me from being pretty unwell to being well again, better than I had been before I even became recognisably ‘ill’.

Over time though, I had come to feel a little fed up about what I was and was not eating. Following such a restrictive diet is fine if you are very organised, but our life lacked a certain amount of spontaneity and frankly sometimes I just didn’t want to have to think about food.

I decided that I would experiment and try all the things that previously bothered me, just see what happened. I don’t want to write a virtual book about it all, far too long and boring, but I did learn a great deal and feel that it was well worth the effort. I found that I still have problems eating all the foods that I had previously cut out but reactions to some of them have decreased in severity over time. On the whole though, my body will not tolerate these foods and I was left at the end of the summer feeling tired, uncomfortable, in pain and weighing half a stone more than when I began!

After feeling so annoyed about how I needed to eat, taking this time to re-evaluate things has been freeing for me and reminded me why I started out on my ‘food journey’ in the beginning.  Although eating this way takes a great deal of effort, I feel much, much better and my quality of life is vastly improved when I do take the time to eat carefully. I also found out that my family now far prefer gluten and dairy free cakes to ‘normal’ ones!

Pictures from early autumn. This little lot moved into the fields behind our house.

 

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And these are always about.

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General ramblings

July & August

When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky. ~Buddha

The weather here has been pretty good these past few weeks, dry and warm, and it has been good to take some time out and just contemplate things, taking the time just to be.

I spent the summer before last madly working away to cover holidays and maternity leave, not getting a break until the autumn, and last summer was spent indoors completely immobile after suffering a slipped disc. So, one way or another this summer has felt like my first real, able to enjoy, summer in some time. I  spent a good deal of the winter dreaming of afternoons spent in the garden with a glass of wine chatting with loved ones or on my own with an audiobook and some knitting and I have at last managed that. Small pleasures but no less enjoyable for that.

I started the month finishing up the Sprössling cardigan by Anne Hanson.

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The details on this are just lovely and I’m going to enjoy wearing it when the weather gets a little cooler. The only slight change to the original pattern I made was to lower the neck line a little, maybe an inch or so, apart from that it is pretty much as written.

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The yarn, Blacker Yarns pure Shetland, is a pleasure to knit with and has that unmistakeable beauty of a good wool with a firm-ish hand and good stitch definition. It will soften and bloom with age and look just as good in 5 years time.

I had a funeral to go to the week after I finished the cardigan, never a happy event, but the human sprit never fails to amaze me, we are at our best, I think, when times are hard. The woman, a relation by marriage was only a few years older than me, and it was a pointent reminder of how fragile life is. Her children are only a couple of years older than mine and my mothers words rang in my ears throughout.  When my mother  found out she was dying she turned to me and said, ‘but what will you all do without me?’ She never, for one reason or another, spoke to me again. I could not help but think all the way through, what was a beautiful woodland burial, ‘but what will the children do without her? ‘ Survive is the answer, and find joy in the smallest of things, as we all do, or should do. I have a friend who thought that going through one bad event in life meant that she had done her ‘penance’ and that everything would be good from then on. She is constantly surprised and disappointed now when life throws her a curve ball. One thousand joys and one thousand sorrows I tell her, you’ve a little way to go yet! Make blueberry waffles is what I say.

I had been wanting to try the new yarn from Drops called Puna, a pure Alpaca yarn in a DK weight. I ordered myself a few balls just to try a while ago and it had been sitting waiting for me to finish up the cardigan, so when that was done I knitted up a few swatches and was pretty pleased with the results.  I put some figures together and came up with a design for a waistcoat.

This was the first draft of the pattern. I wanted to make the front and back slightly different as they would be in a traditional waistcoat so the back has a simplified version of the front pattern. Different but still echoing the stripes of the pattern.

For the second draft, I dropped the front a little and changed the way the decreases worked. It makes the v-neck sweep a little better and has no fully fashioned decreases so the lines look smoother.

You can see the front patterning better in this picture. The back has the same columns without the garter stitch horizontal lines.

It works well with a shirt for a bit of a formal look but also goes pretty well with just a t-shirt.

 

The Alpaca gives a lovely drape and weight to the fabric which means it moves and flows as you wear it although a wool or wool mix yarn would look as good I think.

The waistcoat is knitted flat and seamed, with garter stitch bands and lots of buttons which I think finishes it off. I am working on writing up the pattern, slowly though, it won’t be ready for a couple of weeks or so. As usual if you would like to have a go at a test knit, just drop me a line and as soon as the patten is ready to go I’ll forward you a copy.

Here are some other things that have been taking my attention over the last few weeks.

The tortoises have been enjoying the warm, humid weather,(which is more than can be said for the cats) it suits them perfectly and they have been keeping us entertained with their antics.

The cup cakes are a new recipe that I have converted from a gluten and dairy containing one to gluten and dairy free. I want to try it a couple of more times before I write it up but it seems pretty much bomb proof and only takes a couple of minutes to throw together.

Some of the roses are on their second flowering, I’ve found that it really does make a difference to keep dead-heading them all through the summer. I had been told but had never been on the ball with it before! Live and learn.

I hope the summer is treating you well.

 

General ramblings

June..

It was June, and the world smelt of roses…….

Yes, I know it’s not June any more but please humour me, I’m a little behind !

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June, the beginning of summer. Not that you would know it. As usual our weather has been a little typical, muggy, wet, chilly, windy and occasionally sunny.

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The roses have taken a bit of a bashing in the recent winds and have some blackspot on them, but they have still managed to put on a pretty good show. I have several more and are adding to my collection slowly. I find myself drawn to roses more and more recently and are secretly planning a small rose garden, I just haven’t told anyone around here yet!

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A recent day out in Cornwall looked disappointingly like this…

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But it was a lovely drive out anyway and blew out some cobwebs.

We did however, have better weather later in the month for a trip to Buckfast Abbey. I love the Abbey grounds and gardens but the main joy for me is the architecture.

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I have a deep fascination for that period in history, the architecture and the people.

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Buckfast Abbey has been beautifully restored and the grounds and Abbey Church are free to visitors. The Monastery was founded in 1018 and is still today home to a group of Benedictine monks.

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On the knitting front in June, I found some alpaca silk mix yarn from Drops in the stash, a ball or two each of a few colours, and searched around for something small to knit. I eventually decided upon Cameo by Paulina Popiolek. The pattern, as it stood, was a little large for both my taste and available yarn so I modified it a little, cutting down on all the sections to make a shawl/scarf.

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I am really please with how this turned out. Even my modified cut down version is about 2 meters from tip to tip, more than enough to wrap around comfortably but not too deep. The alpaca silk yarn is soft and drapey with a weight from the alpaca that makes the edges of the shawl hang beautifully without any curl.

I also published another blanket pattern in June. Babies abound in our family at the moment for some reason and it has sort of become habit that I design a new blanket.

Trillium Folded Main

I called this one Trillium because of the three petal design I used for the body of the blanket.

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This one was knitted in a 4ply yarn but I also wrote the pattern up for a DK weight version as well. An easy relaxing knit, all details are on the pattern page.

I have been interested in getting back to garments that are knitted flat and then seamed. Back in the history of my knitting adventures, I began by knitting garments this way but moved over to seamless knitting some, maybe, 10 years or so ago now. I have enjoyed knitting this way, but there have always been some aspects of it that I have not been completely happy with.

I’m not about to get into the long debate amongst knitters as regard to seamed vs seamless knitting, that’s just dangerous! There are advantages and disadvantages in both methods and I do really like both methods. My renewed interest in knitting seamed garments coincides partly with my recent interest in a more tailored garment and the type of design that also seems to be particularly suited to it. And before you say it, yes you can knit tailored garments seamlessly but there is something to be said for the structure that seams give. I have much more to say on the subject but will save that for a later post.

For my first seamed garment for a while I decided on a design called Sprössling by the lovely Anne Hanson. In the stash I found some pure Shetland yarn from Blacker Yarns, which had been overdyed a sort of turquoise colour. I bought this a year or two back intending it for something completely different but some yarns and patterns just don’t work together for me. However this pattern and yarn just seemed to love each other and in a few weeks all the pieces were ready for seaming.

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Here the pieces are all steam blocked and ready to put together which is what I will be working on over the next few evenings. You can see the pattern and colour slightly better in this photo.

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So, that has taken us up to the end of June. I have another completed project to show you as well as this cardigan all seamed and finished and another large project started for July.

Hoping to make it back here soon!

 

General ramblings

Spring is the time…

of plans and projects.     Leo Tolstoy

I’ve been out enjoying the increasingly warm and sunny days we have had lately. Spring is truly here, all be it dipping in and out as it often does. The birds and insects certainly feel it and I have been making plans and starting projects all over the place, so I guess deep down, I must feel it too.

I saw a deer in the field behind our house this morning. They often appear but strangely only one or two at a time. You have to forgive the quality of the photo, I’ve had to blow it up a fair bit.

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The deer wander quite far as the main herd is about half a mile or so away. This one has come to the end of its roaming though.The corridor of land that it has travelled along runs out a few hundred meters from here where it is intersected by a road and some houses. After a day or so they usually find their way back.

The garden is bursting into life.

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This is an ornamental cherry tree. We moved it last spring and kept our fingers crossed that it wouldn’t mind too much. At first I thought that we had killed it as it was pretty well established where it was, I had initially planted it about ten years ago, but it rallied round after a while and produced some leaves. This year it seems it has come back with gusto, perhaps even better than before.

As I was out with my camera, I noticed that the Pieris that we also moved had settled into its’ new position and putting on a good show.

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The bees love this as it flowers early, after the daffodils and before other more tender plants.

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And just to prove the point, this one turned up as I was taking the last shot. I had to chase her about a bit though, she was moving from flower to flower like, well, like a busy bee (sorry!).

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The blueberry is getting ready to burst into flower. Looks like it might be a good crop this year.

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Unfortunately even the weeds are celebrating. Pretty though.

One of the projects I have started is to renovate some old chairs. When we moved here, we put some old chairs up into the attic and, as often happens, they stayed for much longer than we ever anticipated. I thought it was time we brought them down and re-covered them to match the kitchen, the chairs we have been using are so uncomfortable I don’t know why we’ve put up with them for so long. What I didn’t realise was that in the intervening years they had been so badly damaged, probably by rodents. This house is over 100 years old and from time to time we have undesirable visitors!

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I have no idea where the chairs originally came from. I inherited them from my mother but they weren’t the set that went with her dining table so I imagine she got them from her mother at some point.

This one pretty quickly became this,

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then this,

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I am working my way through all of them but it is a slow process, each one taking four coats of paint. I have managed to get some re-cycled wool stuffing for the seats and found some plastic covered material, the type used for table cloths, which I think will be ideal to make a durable seat covering.

I have also started three new knitting projects, each time reminding myself that if I just worked on one, I may have a chance of actually finishing something. It didn’t help that this morning I saw that Lene has written up the pattern for her beautiful new socks. I may just have to find time to knit myself a pair. Following a post by Jem Arrowsmith, I got hold of a copy of 2 at a time socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes, the top down version, as that is how I prefer to knit my socks. Having been a dedicated dpn user up until now, I thought perhaps I would give this method a go and Lene’s socks are a perfect excuse. Now all I need are more hours and perhaps a few less projects and I may make some progress on something.

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General ramblings

Floe

I have now managed to finally publish Floe.

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As with most of my patterns, Floe is knitted seamlessly in the round but this time from the bottom up.

The yarn I used for the sample here is actually two yarns held together. The first a 4ply pure wool yarn from Elann called Soft Embrace, which really is soft, and a mohair and silk blend lace weight yarn called Silken Kydd.

These yarns together knit to a standard DK gauge of 22 sts x 32 rows per 4 inches. So you can substitute any DK weight yarn you like.

Full details are on the pattern page.

Hope you have a good weekend!

 

General ramblings

Ship Ahoy!

We’ve had a couple of new additions to the family recently. Our Birthday list is getting longer by the year, which is lovely, but I am seriously thinking about buying cards in bulk.

As a knitter, I always feel that a new little one should have something hand knitted, but as we all know not everyone is, let us say, sensitive, to the value of hand knits. I have found though that a blanket usually goes down well and gets a good amount of use. A couple of years ago I knitted up Gracie as a gift for a friend and I thought of knitting up another two for the latest arrivals. It’s a quick and easy pattern and good for TV knitting but I do find knitting the same things more than twice a little repetitive. So I searched around for another good stitch pattern for a blanket and after a little modifying with a good dose of garter stitch, came up with one that I thought would be ideal.

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I could not resist the little sail boats, and as both the babies turned out to be boys, it was ideal, although there is nothing to say us girls don’t enjoy a sail boat as well!

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This one was given away several weeks ago now and I am glad to report that it was well received and is getting good use.

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I knitted this one up in a wool/acrylic blend that is fully wash and dry-able, a must really, but any DK weight yarn would be suitable.

When writing up the pattern, I was aware that Gracie was a little small, although I only knitted it up meaning it to be a stroller blanket. Something that I will rectify when updating the pattern soon.  I have made this blanket larger and the pattern is written for two sizes, a smaller size of 71 x 78 cm / 28 x 32 inches and a larger size of 86 x 96.5 cm / 34 x 38 inches, more of a crib or cot size. Each size takes 800m/875yds and 1155m/1263yds of yarn respectively.

Although the pattern is a little more involved than Gracie, once set, it is easily memorised and suitable for most abilities. Full details on the pattern page.

I think that there may be a little break for a while between additions to the family, but perhaps I might knit up another just in case!

 

 

General ramblings

Frost

Winter has come at last, if only for a day or two until the rain returns.

It was pretty frozen this morning.frozen stones

This was taken at about lunch time and as you can just about see, my bird bath is still completely frozen, in fact everything that the sun hasn’t touched is still well and truly frozen. At least with a cold clear morning we have sun.  Something we see little of when we have days of heavy cloud and rain.

I have finally managed to take some near decent photos of the new sweater.  I’m glad, as I didn’t want to wear it until I had and was itching to give it a test drive.

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It is a bottom up seamless yoke sweater with a slightly scooped neck made with short rows.  I’m not so keen on too high a neck line that you can often get with yoke sweaters worked entirely in the round from the bottom up. This yoke has two sets of short rows which brings the front down enough not to do that.

I found that with the light, airy yarn, I needed to use Japanese short rows to hide them. Ordinary wrap and turn short rows left a visible strand of yarn at the back which is usually hidden by heavier yarns.  They give a great finish and are very easy to do, no wrapping but you do need a few coil-less safety pins or removable markers. If you have never worked this type of short row before you can find information on Japanese short rows on the Craftsy blog here. There is also a very good class available on the platform which shows several different types of short rows.

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The yarn is actually two held together, a light 4 ply or fingering weight pure wool and a lace weight silk and mohair, both from Elann. They go together well and I had no trouble knitting with both together as the mohair holds onto the fingering weight yarn as if they were one.  Together, thanks to the halo of the mohair, they make up a yarn which knits beautifully to a DK gauge, 22 sts by 32 rows per 4 inches or in other words 5.5 x 8 sts to one inch.

The advantage of working with two fine yarns together like this is that they make the sweater very light but the mohair adds warmth as if it were a much heavier gauge.

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It also had a beautiful halo.  The Elann mohair is extremely soft, not itchy or prickly at all. And I can say that it stood up to some pretty rough ripping out and re-knitting a few times. The last time I worked with a mohair yarn it was murder to rip back as it tends to cling and knot itself together but this was very well behaved. Something to do with the two yarns together perhaps.

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You can see how the light comes through the fabric. Whilst knitting this I really wasn’t sure how warm it would be but now I have been able to give it a test run, it really is quite surprisingly so, I’ve had to take it off a couple of times in the evening as I’ve been too warm.

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I am tempted to knit it again in an ordinary DK weight yarn, something with a bit of texture perhaps.  I think that you could get a completely different feel from this depending on what it was knitted in.  Here it looks very feminine but perhaps in a darker shade of something tweedy or hand-dyed it could look maybe smarter and less ‘pretty’.  This is my favourite sweater to date, there is something about yoke sweaters that make them so wearable and I can see myself living in it while the weather is still so cold.

Believe it or not, I didn’t have anything else on the needles to knit on after I finished this (well nothing I wanted to get back to anyway !) so until I get grabbed by another idea I have been knitting a EZ saddle shoulder aran sweater.  I’ve knitted one of her seamless saddle shoulder sweaters before and they are such fun to do, but never an aran one.  I tell you though, it’s not going smoothly.  I just can’t get happy with the design choices I’ve made so I will be ripping and re-starting that tonight, well, if I can finally decide on how I want it to look!

I am working on writing up the pattern for the yoke sweater but it won’t be ready for a short while.  I will then be looking for some test knitters, so if the idea grabs you, please drop me a line and I will get back to you as soon as I have everything ready.

 

General ramblings

Racing around

I hate racing around at this time of year, trying to get everything ready for the holidays. Mainly because I hate traffic.  The traffic here is appalling. It never used to be. There was never really even much of a rush hour, more like a rush twenty minutes, and then it was all over and you could get pretty much wherever you wanted to go easily. Not now though. I realise times have moved on somewhat, I’m not that old, but even so, the South West of England is now heaving. Some friends of ours that moved away only a couple of years ago came back recently for a visit and the first thing out of their mouths when they burst through the door was ‘isn’t the traffic awful’ – and it wasn’t even near Christmas then.

So, needless to say, I do the majority of my shopping on the internet.  I like to support small businesses though so I ease my conscience by buying  from artisan sellers on the net and small independent shops that have websites.  It makes me feel a little better about not actually getting out there and joining the throng.

There are times though when the internet just won’t do and I have to bite the bullet. Yesterday we ventured into town to look at the Christmas Market at Exeter Cathedral. Seriously, it took longer to get there and park than we actually spent shopping. (Partly because it poured down with rain and being such novices about actually shopping we were neither dressed appropriately or had an umbrella. We did laugh though, a lot.) I realised looking at all the new shops that it had been a long, long time since I was last there. It was enjoyable. Well, not the getting there and parking bit, (or the getting soaked to the skin bit) but the wandering about bit was good and I realised I sort of miss that. Internet shopping is great and I’m not about to stop any time soon, but you just can’t underestimate the tactile experience of being in a shop and touching things.  A bit like a digital book verses an physical book. There are books that I am quite happy to have in digital format, fiction books mainly, but then reference books I almost always buy the actual book. Digital just doesn’t cut it for me when reading say, a cookery book. Following this debacle shopping trip, I have decided that actually going shopping is an experience that I should perhaps have more often. Just not at this time of year and perhaps next time I’ll take an umbrella!

I have been knitting a few more gifts. I try to limit the amount of knitted gifts that I give as I find the pressure to get them all done takes the edge off the enjoyment somehow.  That’s just me though as I know people who give a lot of knitting and the pressure is part of the enjoyment of it all. I could just start earlier in the year I know, but I’m never that organised however much I think I am.

After making the Legato mittens and boot toppers for a couple of girl friends, I decided that they went together so quickly I would knit a couple more and add a cowl to the mix.  I have a friend who would prefer a cowl to mittens so I put one together with the same pattern and yarn.

Legato Cowl
Legato Cowl

I realised when knitting the leg-warmers that this stitch pattern in almost as pretty on the reverse as it is on the front.

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Reverse side of knitting

Guiltily, this one is mine.  I have knitted one which is now wrapped up and ready to give but really liked it so made one for myself.  It came in handy when caught in the deluge of rain yesterday as it stopped the rain that was pouring off my face from going down my front! I will forever have fond memories of it if just for that reason alone.

The yarn is the Elann Pippilongcolors that I used for the others but this time in the colour-way Storm in a Tea Cup.

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Legato Mittens – Storm in a Tea Cup

Couldn’t help whipping up a pair of fingerless mittens in this colour as well. I think it is my favourite so far. They knit up so quickly that the pair only took me a few hours to do.

I have added the cowl to the pattern so now it contains all the accessories together in one pattern: Cowl, mittens, boot toppers and leg warmers.

I have stepped away from the accessory knitting now and have started work on a new project, a yoke sweater.  I’ve had an design in mind for one for some time now and did start to knit a small baby one as a sample, either earlier this year or the end of the last, I forget exactly now (it’s an age thing again), but have re-started the project in adult size. I hope to have enough of it done to show you next time along with a biscuit recipe that I am working on.

Try not to get stuck in traffic this season.

 

FO's · General ramblings · Knitting · Own designs · Patterns

Legato

Smooth and connected without breaks in the tones.

 

We all need something to whip up quickly when we need a gift for someone (especially this time of year), but as a hand knitter I always hesitate when considering my knitting for a gift if I don’t really know how it will be received. It isn’t just whether the item will be liked, I find most people like knitted items, but how it will be looked after.  Mention hand-wash to most people and it is enough to make them turn to stone. Mention throwing a beloved hand knitted item into the washing machine to a hand knitter and they will do the same! If knitting for children I usually make an exception and knit with something fairly bomb proof, although to be honest, it’s never completely enjoyable as it could be. I just don’t bond with the yarn in the same way and there’s no getting away from the fact that something knitted in natural fibres just looks and wears so much better.

A good yarn makes your knitting look better.  In my experience the majority of natural fibres are very forgiving of slight changes in tension between your knit rows and purl rows and other odd idiosyncrasies of pattern. Once blocked, they even out and bloom.  Often something lovely turns into something beautiful in the wash. You can’t say that about any pure acrylic yarn (in my opinion). The only exception to this is very fine Merino yarn, but perhaps that’s a discussion for another day. And yes, I know that there is a misconception that all wool yarns are scratchy and difficult to look after, especially here in the U.K for some reason, but that’s just a lack of experience I think. An unwillingness to try anything that isn’t cloud soft. Sometimes you need something with a bit of grip to it to get the best from your knitting. Try knitting fairisle with something silky and you will see what I mean.

So, when I was recently introduced to Elann’s  Pippilongcolors yarn, I was delighted to find that not only is it super wash treated wool but soft – very soft in fact.

The ball band states it is a mix of 24 and 26 micron wool.  This information means far more to you if you are a hand spinner, but I love the fact that they put this information on the ball band along with the nm 1.8 (the size, aran weight) and the fact that it is z-spun (the direction of twist).  Finally a yarn company that actually gives you some real information about the yarn you are knitting with and not just assumes that you couldn’t possibly be interested.

Just to bore you with the finer detail if you don’t handspin. A micron is one millionth of a meter. In this case 24 microns represents a wool fibre of the type from Merino or a very fine Corridale or Shetland sheep. A good Bluefaced Leicester sheep will have a fleece of around the 26 micron count. All these are classed as next to the skin soft. Just as an interesting piece of information, anything below 3 or 4 microns and you couldn’t see it as our eyesight just is not that good.  Emperors new clothes springs to mind!

Anyway, where was I? Yes. Gift knitting. So, over the last week I’ve managed to knit up a couple of quick gifts for some girlfriends of mine. None of them are knitters and really can’t understand at all my love of wool, so this yarn is perfect for us all.

Legato Pair 1

Leg warmers / boot toppers and a matching pair of fingerless mittens. They knit up pretty quickly and the rib pattern is interesting enough to stop me from getting bored but makes pretty good T.V. knitting too.

Legato Mittens 1

Taking really good photos is difficult with our gloomy weather at the moment.

I love this colour-way.  It is called ‘pleased as punch’ but there are several equally lovely colours in the range all with interesting names such as ‘Blaze a trail’ and ‘chasing rainbows’.  I have bought some more in a lovely colour-way called ‘Storm in a tea cup’ for my more reserved friends!

Legato Leggins 1

This pair of leg-warmers is for my friend who wears leggings and skinny jeans a lot. I have actually colour matched them by reeling off some yarn from the ball until I got to the same place in the sequence that I started with for the first one – but stupidly here one is upside down – if you see what I mean! Of course you don’t need to colour match them at all because they look good anyway.

You can get a pair of leg-warmers and a pair of small or medium fingerless mittens from just two balls of the yarn. The larger mittens paired with the shorter boot toppers also take the same amount.

I tried out the pattern as boot toppers in a plain yarn while waiting for some more to arrive.

legato cream 1.12

These are only 15 cm or 6″ long and will be great for stopping a draught down my boots but I admit that I prefer the Elann yarn.

I have written up the pattern and more information about yarn, yardage etc. is on the pattern page. It is now available to buy from here or through Ravelry and Etsy if you would like to have a go.

If you are in the U.K. the good new is that Elann now sell through Amazon so you can get the yarn (along with their other yarns)  here.

The weather here is about to turn much colder so perhaps a little brighter too? Good knitting weather whatever it will be.