The original pattern calls for Hjertegarn Alpaca Silk but I made a substitution for something I had in my stash.
The yarn I used, is Shilasdair Luxury 4ply Highland Inspirations. A cashmere, baby camel, angora and merino blend. Lovely to work with and when you wash and block it the characteristics of the fibre blend comes out and the fabric blooms gently.
At first I wasn’t sure about the reverse stocking stitch of the body (reverse stocking stitch not being one of my favourites) but I really didn’t want to loose that effect of the lines coming down from the yoke and continuing into the body. The yoke pattern would have been disjointed from the body which ever way I thought of working it.
Once knitted however, I am pleased that I just trusted the pattern and knitted it as written. Lene’s designs are well thought out and the flow between the yoke and body work perfectly.
I find Lene’s patterns engaging and enjoyable to knit. The designs in this book are all pretty timeless. Let’s face it after putting a great deal of effort into knitting something, it’s a little disappointing for it to loose its appeal and look dated.
The book contains a good mix of warmer weather knitting such as this design and heavier weight cable and garter stitch garments for colder weather along with a few accessories.
Given the time, I would love to knit almost all the designs from Lene’s book, something that you can’t always say about knitting books. I find it unusual to want to knit more than a few patterns from most books, some less – but perhaps I’m picky.
The designs use yarns from companies such as the Hjertegarn, Sandnes Garn, BC Garn, Rowan and Marianne Isager. If you cannot get hold of these where you are, the weight and yardage information is at the back of the book so you can substitute if you want to.
I recently had a bit of a sort out of my knitting books and sold off some that I have never used or couldn’t see myself knitting anything else from. Essentially Feminine Knits is one book that I will be using again.
This short-sleeve vest will be winging its way to someone soon.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
My very soul is wedded to it and if I were a bird I would fly around the earth seeking successive autumns.
Is autumn not a beautiful season? My favourite time of the year – until spring!
Recently though we have slipped from the bright, crisp, colourful days of autumn where the light has such a beautiful hue, to those dark, damp, dreary days that are so common on this island.
It has been so dreary here the last few days that it is near impossible to take a decent photo. Our cottage can be quite dark at this time of year when the light outside is so bad, much too dark for decent photographs anyway and outside it is raining so even with the best intentions it’s just not going well.
Time then for warm soups, and knitting!
Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup
Serves 4 – 6
Gluten and Dairy Free
1 Brown Onion – diced
2 Sweet Potatoes approx. 400g – diced
1 Large White Potato – diced
1 Litre Vegetable Stock, your favourite, I use Kallo.
1 400 ml Tinned Coconut Milk – not carton. Keep back a few tablespoons for garnish.
Salt and Pepper
Coconut oil for frying
Melt a walnut sized piece of coconut oil in a heavy based saucepan and add the onion. Fry gently until soft but not coloured then add the sweet and white potatoes and leave to sweat for a couple of minutes.
Add the stock and tinned coconut milk and bring slowly to a simmer. Continue to simmer for about 30 minutes until the potatoes are soft then take off the heat and allow to cool down before pureeing with a stick blender or blender.
Return to the heat and season, adding salt and pepper to taste.
When serving, swirl a little of the coconut milk on top.
A little different from my usual knitting so far as the yarn is concerned. On a recent holiday in Wales I somehow came across the Colinette factory, funny that!
The yarn knitted up beautifully and has a good hand, not too soft but not at all itchy either.
As I said, I am afraid that it’s near impossible to get a decent shot at the moment and these photos don’t do the cardigan justice at all.
The pattern is a top down seamless knit, raglan style. The shawl type collar is added afterward by picking up stitches around the front and working back and forth in garter stitch. The pockets are integral to the collar and are sewn back to the sides at the end. You can’t see it here as my pictures are so bad but my pockets hang down quite a bit at the front of the garment. Not a pattern error, I just think that I should have picked up less stitches around the fronts as my yarn has given a little with the weight. I may put it right if it annoys me that much but at the moment nobody seems to notice except me.
I do have another F.O. but that really needs some decent photography before showing you and being sent off to the recipient. No sign of doing that over the next couple of days though.
It’s been too long. I’ve been trying to get a post together for weeks but I just haven’t got here until now. I started the month off sort of unwell – again. I have a very tiny lump on my temple, had it for ages, and it was so small that the only time I knew it was there was if I ran a finger across my temple and I could just feel it under the skin. Some time last month it decided to flare up, as apparently they do, and it became very large and angry. To cut a long and rather gruesome story short, after a few weeks of trying to deal with it myself (don’t say anything!) I woke up one Sunday morning to find the whole of one side of my face rather larger than the other. It’s quite interesting being able to see two different people in the mirror at the same time; but perhaps not quite as much fun as you would think! It was another 24 hours before I could see a doctor, (our local drop in centre is to be avoided unless you are in immediate danger of death as far as I’m concerned) who put me straight onto a heavy course of penicillin/antibiotics. We discussed what it may do to my weak digestive system, but in all honesty I had no other choice but to take the course. As my Dr. kindly pointed out, it was either that or be admitted to hospital where they would do the same anyway. I still may have to have the lump removed but at the moment it is all healing nicely and apart from a small mark, has all but disappeared once again. The drugs did make me very ill, as we knew they would, and have upset my system to such an extent that I am now back to where I was six months or more ago as regards to digestive health. I know from tests that I have already lost two types of beneficial bacteria that I should have in my system, ones that aren’t so easy to replace, now I don’t know if I’ve lost any more following this course of treatment. The good thing is that I’m starting from a much stronger point. I heal much better than I did, and at least now I know what I need to do to give everything the best chance of recovery. I’m hoping that, as with a lot of things, experience will make things much easier second time round. It’s frustrating, but it is what it is.
So, that is why I haven’t been around for a bit. Enough of the doom and gloom, since I have recovered some of my energy back I haven’t been sitting around.
Spring has started to, well, spring around here. The blueberry is starting to make moves toward flowering. Last year was a poor year, as far as this plant was concerned, so I fed it well all through the summer and am hoping that it shows its’ appreciation this year by giving us a bumper crop, weather permitting.
I’ve been spinning a little too.
A few years ago now I purchased two of these beautiful Norwegian tops from Wonderwool Wales. A natural humbug mixture. I’ve started with the white and plan to keep the colours separate, hoping to use them in something together, perhaps a pair of socks with different coloured heels, leg and toes.
I love handspun socks and have recently worn out a pair I made about 5 years ago, they lasted well so maybe it’s an ideal time to get back into a bit of spinning and replace them at the same time.
While I was taking the drugs it was all I could do to make it to work and although I wanted to knit, I just couldn’t settle to anything. I started things, ripped and started something else, then ripped again, but over the last week I’ve got back into a couple of projects that I had already on the go but suddenly had no enthusiasm for.
One is a cardigan for myself, started when the weather was very miserable and I felt in need of something big and warm to wrap up in.
Back a month or two ago I started a top down raglan, adding a simple textured pattern to the sleeves. Basically making it up as I went along, I’ve ended up really pleased with how it is turning out. I wanted it oversize so I could put it on over a couple of layers and snuggle up into it. I’ve also knitted it much longer than I normally like my cardigans and have a plan to add big patch pockets to it when I’m done. I wanted to knit it in blue but just couldn’t find a colour that I really liked so I dug out this natural grey from the stash and decided to try it out in this. If I like it enough to knit two, I’ll look for something else next time.
It only has the one, almost finished, sleeve so far. It’s been sitting like this for weeks so I’m hoping if I tell you about it, it will give me the needed push to get it done. While I finish the second sleeve I’ll try to decide whether to put a collar or a simple ribbing around the neck. I think a collar would look best at balancing the chunkiness of it all but, well, I’m not always keen on them as they do add to the bulk around the top. Time to decide yet anyway.
Weather permitting, I’ve been planting seeds. I’ve got some tomato and pepper seeds in and have sewed the first of the carrot seeds up at the allotment along with the onion sets. These little seedlings I’m especially proud of though.
They may not look much but I collected these seeds from plants I grew myself……………… wait for it……….. Five years ago! I picked off the seed heads and put them into an envelope at the end of the season, threw them into an old shoe box in the cupboard where I keep my seed packets and just really never got around to sewing them. This year I went through to box turfing out all the old out of date seed packets to see what I needed to buy this year and came across the collection of envelopes with seeds I have collected myself. On a whim I decided I had nothing to lose and, well here they are. Who says seeds don’t keep well for more that a year or two. I don’t know what the final germination rate of these will be of course, they’ve only just started to pop up, but if I get half I’ll be more than happy.
I have also spent some time cooking, as usual, and have a great recipe that I adapted for a gluten and dairy free Manchester Tart. A Manchester tart is a pastry case spread with jam and covered with a custard filling topped with toasted coconut.
This one also has a little something extra inside!
If you don’t know how to pronounce a word, say it loud! … Why compound ignorance with inaudibility.
However you pronounce the word, scone means different things to different people depending where you live. There are scones that are served with jam and clotted cream; drop scones that are more like pancakes; potato scones that you can have with your breakfast; scones made from oats and scones that you have with gravy. Some are fried and some are baked, some are sweet and some are savoury, some are large and cut into triangles and some individual and round, (fluted for sweet, plain for savoury) – the list is endless.
In our house, no particular pronunciation is correct. If someone pronounces it one way, you can be sure that somebody else will pronounce it another – just because. The other week I decided to try to make some allergy friendly scones, also – just because. I’m not a huge fan of scones, the baked with jam variety anyway, never was, but gluten and dairy free ones are particularly difficult to master so ever up for a challenge I decided to give it a go. I found this book,
which used to be my Mothers. I haven’t really cooked anything from it to be honest as most of the recipes are for savoury dishes and I long ago (mostly) mastered gluten and dairy free mains. In it Phil Vickery has a recipe for scones (the English jam and cream variety) using polenta which I thought worth a try. As a comparison, I also found a recipe online for scones which had very good reviews and decided to give that one a go as well.
Firstly I made these,
You will find the recipe, from the head chef at the Whitehall Hotel here. The hotel is pleased to cater for special diets, a great idea, and if the scones are anything to go by, well I think you would be in for a treat.
Then I made the ones from the book.
They look quite different but are both very scone like in taste and texture. I made everyone try one of each and then asked for their opinion. The verdict was that they were both equally good – the Whitehall ones being sweeter were nice on their own if you just wanted some with just butter or DF spread, the Phil Vickery ones looked more like traditional English scones and, being less sweet, lent themselves to being smothered with jam. They were all gone within 36 hours anyway, none lasting any longer that the other so I guess that’s a hit for either recipe. Sweet or less sweet, the decisions is yours, as is the pronunciation!
There has been knitting, if you were wondering. After posting about my dilemma with the blanket mistake, my old friend Alison, aka MidlandSpinner on Ravelry, always a mine of information, contacted me about fixing it without ripping back all that work. After a short discussion she advised that perhaps the best way to approach the problem was to snip the yarn at the mistake, unpick and re-do just that section. I admit that I dithered quite a bit before taking the plunge, but, take the plunge I did and after a good deal of swearing (and perhaps wine) I managed to get it all sewn up again and looking not too bad. Thank you Alison, as always you have the best advice and support just when I need it. I still can’t show you the finished article yet, but what I can show you is the blanket I designed after that one.
When I chose the pattern for the baby blanket, I had trouble finding one that was a) pretty enough if the baby was a girl, but b) not too pretty if the baby was a boy, c) was quite quick to knit up but looked as if it wasn’t! and finally d) looked pretty good from both back and front.
So after the hair-raising first blanket, I gave some thought to what I would knit that fulfilled all of the above and came up with this one. Knitted in 4 ply or fingering, it’s light enough that it doesn’t look too heavy on a newborn but if you went up to a DK or light worsted weight yarn it would make a good cot blanket for a bigger baby. This version is just the right size for a basket or small crib or when around and about in a pram or car seat. I made this one in white as I intend for it to be given away with the first, but I think would look great in a semi solid or brighter yarn as the raised pattern catches the light wonderfully. It is so simple to knit, as soon as I get a few hours I plan to write the pattern up as a give away, so stay tuned!
Things have been just mad around here the last few weeks, which is why I haven’t been by, but with the tax out of the way and some ‘must do’s’ under my belt, I hope to be back next week with some more knitting and news of the blanket pattern.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.
This, is how I feel about my gift knitting at the moment. With only two weeks to go, I know that everything on my knitting list is just not going to get done. You can only knit so fast and the amount done in any day is finite.
The Ranger cardigan was always a shot in the dark. I knew in my heart of hearts that it was never a serious contender for finishing before the holidays, but I try and please. Actually, this is never going to be finished much before Easter if the truth be told. Its’ just too big and heavy for my little hands to knit on for any great length of time in one go.
The sleeves are done (thank goodness) but the body, so far, is only at the five inch mark, another nine to go I think before body and sleeves are united. I love seamless knits, but at this point in the proceedings, as the back and fronts are knitted all in one, it’s just so damn big! Luckily I’ve been asked for a quick hat in the meantime and I’m sure I can pull that off instead.
I also must confess a guilty pleasure that I have been knitting on, a little at a time, when I’m too tired to knit anything else. Sprig, by Alana Dakos, fell into my knitting basket a couple of weeks ago. I have had some yarn for a couple of years that, although beautiful, I couldn’t match to a project. It wasn’t a great deal, only eight balls, bought in a moment of weakness; one of those yarns that you must have but have no idea what for. I have been trying to match it to a pattern that a) showed the tweed yarn off in all its’ glory, and b) didn’t take too much yarn. When I saw Sprig I just knew that it was perfect and as I had waited for so long to find this yarn a home, couldn’t resist casting on. In my defence, I have only, as I say, been knitting on it when I was too tired to concentrate on other knitting. Most of it is stocking stitch in the round and completely mindless. It is knitted from the top down with short rows to produce an interesting lower yoke shape, from which the stitches are picked up later and the leaf pattern yoke is knitted and joined at right angles to. Is it just me or does that sound confusing. Anyway, it is easier to knit than it sounds, far easier that writing the pattern for, I’m sure. It’s a great pattern and one that I am enjoying immensely, all be it a little guiltily.
I am putting on the yoke before knitting the sleeves as I am getting short of yarn. I plan to split what I have left and knit the sleeves to whatever length my yarn will allow.
So, with knitting plans crashing and burning, on Monday I decided I would have to put in place some sort of contingency plan and I dashed out to find some fillers to replace the hand knits that will be missing from gifts. It won’t be the same, but I think I may just be able to carry it off. It all started off so well too, having finished the girls’ cardigans in plenty of time. I think that I always underestimate what needs to be done because I can never factor in the unexpected, and believe me, around here there is always the unexpected. Our household consists of three males to one female, when would that not make life interesting!
Another thing that is taking up a great deal of my time lately is the menu for the holidays. Of course, everything must be allergy friendly and completely unprocessed (I’ve had some very nasty reactions to one or two foods recently, that although the ingredients appeared totally natural, the food itself was pre-made. One was a pasta sauce, bought because I was so short on time. I have vowed that I will never touch anything like that again). No short-cuts. Last year I was still quite unwell so the family cut me a lot of slack when it came to food preparations and I did buy in some ready prepared things for those that could eat them; those that couldn’t just went without. It was fine. But I have no real excuse this year, and honestly I don’t want any. What I have in mind is a table laid with all the usual suspects, that looks and tastes, well, normal, but which everyone can eat whatever their limitations without any worry of repercussions afterwards. I don’t want the ‘normal’ eaters feeling that they are being sold short or the one’s with allergies/intolerances to have to ask if something is OK to eat. Over the festive period we will have at least three people with various food limitations at any meal. A tall order, but one that I now feel (almost) able to pull off. It is just taking a lot of organization. The thing I’m really stuck on at the moment is a stuffing. For us, even a gluten free stuffing just won’t cut the mustard as they always contain some sort of gluten free bread which is off our list. I’m getting there with some that substitute rice, but again, I need to please the gluten eaters and I really don’t want to have to have two separate ones. Next I will be trialling some paleo stuffing’s, there’s a great list here on Mark’s Daily Apple. I think I will start with the Paleo Thanksgiving Stuffing as I like the idea of the pork and peppers and it looks the most likely to please all.
It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Recently my knitting has been a lot of trial and error. I’ve been trying to knit three sweaters for the little boys in the family for gifts. I’ve got the girls sorted with Menet cardigans but the boys have been causing me a few problems. It would have been a whole lot easier if I had decided to buy a pattern, but, as usual, I wanted to put one together. I had this idea of a lovely textured sweater in two colours and started to swatch to see which patterns I thought would work well together. After quite a lot of false starts, I came up with these two.
I liked them a lot, but the patterns would not flow into one and other in the way I liked, the symmetry was all off. I spent a couple of days trying to modify them slightly to get the same pattern effects but with more of a flow at the transition point, but could not get anything near as pleasing as they are separately. One of those instances where the whole was not greater than the sum of its’ parts.
So I dropped the textured bit and went for a plain stocking stitch with the same overall design idea. I also had to drop my yarn colours when someone around here didn’t think it suited the intended recipients. I put together a mini ‘quarter’ sweater to try out the idea in some spare yarn I had floating around and came up with this version.
I liked this one almost as much. It’s pretty plain but it meant that I could add a few embellishments that I wanted to use but would have been too much on the textured version. It took me another few days to write-up the pattern as I decided to knit the sweater pieces flat, and then seam them together, not my usual seamless method. It will be much easier to add the extras that I want that way but I’m out of practice writing patterns on the flat. I know it should be much easier, but after thinking three dimensionally for so long it was strange to think on the flat. I also wanted to put in a button opening on the shoulder as two of the boys are quite young, so for this I needed to think very carefully about shoulder width and ultimately the sleeve cap. In the end I have decided to go with a straight drop shoulder. I’ve always stayed away from this design for myself as I am quite small framed and the extra bulk these types of sweaters have just look too big on me, but with children, especially small children, they are so practical. They are easy to get on and off and provide a lot room for movement. So, finally, I think I’ve nailed it. I hope so because I nipped along to my LYS yesterday and bought some yarn and have started knitting.
I’m up to the colour change already so I hope the rest goes as smoothly as I am getting tight for time. One thing about drop shoulder sweaters is there’s no thinking about shaping until you reach the neck so they do go pretty quickly.
I am supposed to have the adult cardigan, Ranger by Jared Flood, ready in time for Christmas but so far all I have done is one and a half sleeves. Another evening on this though and I should have it done and then at least I don’t have to think about sleeves for a bit.
This rib is similar to one of the samples I knitted for the textured pattern.
It’s basically a type of garter slip stitch. There are quite a few different versions, cartridge rib being another. The single version on the cardigan, put together with the wool and alpaca blend yarn makes a very thick and warm fabric. I may have to borrow it from time to time!
Oh, actually it has just occurred to me that on three boys’ sweaters there will be six sleeves to knit. Well, thank goodness two at least will be fairly small.
I think that what you see here is perhaps all the gift knitting I’m going to get done in time this year. I have just been asked to cut back the hedge at the end of my allotment as apparently the council thinks it looks ‘unruly’. I call it a wildlife habitat, but I suppose you win some, you lose some. In all honesty I have been waiting for it to dry up a little before tackling it (my allergies don’t really like the damp at this time of year) but now I have no choice but to get stuck in. Once I get up there though I always enjoy myself so it’s no real hardship. I have also taken on some extra work to help someone out over the next couple of weeks, so I’m going to be pretty busy.
We had visitors at the weekend and one little person found my sample of Menet, the first one that I knitted.
If I have time, I think that another one of these may be on the horizon. At least it has no sleeves!