Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thanks Brenda...

This post is brought to you courtesy of Brenda Dayne and her podcast, Cast On. Without her, I would never have created this most gorgeous garment.
I remember listening to episode 71 (I really had to search to find the right one!) walking home from the train after work. It was hot, so must have been in late January or sometime in February. Brenda was talking about this pattern, from Rowan 44, and it sounded fantastic. But I'd gotten my copy of Rowan 44 already and I couldn't for the life of me remember it. When I got home, I immediately looked it up and wondered to myself how I could have overlooked it!

Well, there were a couple of reasons - the embroidery (which I'm generally not a fan of, on adult knitwear) and the sleeve length. Of course, someone on Ravelry had already solved both of those issues!

(Special thanks also to Bells who was my yarn mule, collecting the yarn for me from Cassidy's in Canberra, to Margarita, my stylist and photographer and Lee for the lovely location!)

Pattern: Bruegel by Sarah Hatton, from Rowan 44. This is a gorgeous magazine, it's Rowan's 30th anniversary edition, and even if you never knit from it, it's great eye candy! I do plan at least one more garment from it - a 4ply/fingering weight cardigan! Will be waiting a little while for that one! As for the pattern itself, it is excellent. Easy to follow, gorgeous cabling, and a new-to-me technique, smocked ribbing (which is a bit of a pain in the butt to do, but it is SO EFFECTIVE! I love it!).

I also love the collar and the edging on the collar/front pieces - 5 stitches of reverse stocking stitch - which of course curl, to give the appearance of a straight edge - it's hard to describe but is a very neat solution to the stocking stitch curl problem without being clunky like a garter or moss/seed stitch edging can be.

Yarn: Rowan Kid Classic - the called-for yarn for the pattern. I cannot recommend this yarn highly enough. It's a 70/26/4 lambswool/kid mohair/nylon blend, aran/10ply weight, and as light as a feather! Creates a beautiful fabric, warm without being heavy, with a light halo and beautiful stitch definition. Oh, and great yardage for an aran weight - 140m/153yds per 50g. I would absolutely use this yarn again. Oh, and I used just under 10 balls for the cardigan - slightly more than the pattern called for, due to my modifications.

Sticks: 4.5mm for the ribbed smocking, 5mm for everything else. I used KP Options (mostly because I thought metal sticks would be far easier to see with the dark yarn!).

What I learned: Smocked ribbing - basically you knit the ribbing (2x2x2 knit/purl/knit) onto a cable needle or dpn, wrap the yarn around the stitches on the cable needle/dpn twice, then slip the stitches on your right needle. It's fiddly, but very cool! Also, when seaming the smocked ribbing, you can smock the edge ribs from each side edge as you seam, making it appear truly seamless. The pattern doesn't give any instructions on this seaming detail, so I felt pretty darn clever that I worked it out myself!

Oh, and as you already know, I learnt it's important to count correctly when splitting off the collar stitches from the front piece. Sigh...what was that about feeling clever...

Modifications: I omitted the embroidery - for me, the garment has enough lovely features without adding more. And I also omitted the sleeve turn up - in the original pattern, the sleeves end around the elbow, and the smocked ribbing part is turned up. It didn't make sense to me to have an aran weight cardigan with elbow length sleeves, with double thickness around the arm, so I made the stocking stitch portion of the sleeves longer, and I did the smocking on the right side of the sleeve, rather than the wrong side (as you would if you were turning it up).

I'm much happier with this style of sleeve, which is about bracelet length!

Time: As my Tour de France 2009 project - I did all the knitting (well, except the reknitting of the right collar/top of front) during the tour - 4 July - 25 July - but then didn't actually seam it until this week - so finished 25 August 2009.
I just love it! Now if only it would get cold enough again for me to wear it this year!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Three more off the list...

Three more of this month's knitted gifts were presented over the course of last week, so can now make their debut here.

First up:

Pattern: Turn a Square beanie by Jared Flood. Very easy pattern (and free!) and very effective!

Yarn: 1 x 50g ball Noro Silk Garden col 47 and 1 x 50g skein of Naturally Harmony 10ply in col 804. The Naturally Harmony is the perfect yarn to match with the Noro SG - the colour matched well (in fact, it's almost the exact same shade of grey used in the Noro) and the perfect texture. And it's lovely to knit with! The 2 balls of yarn were enough for both hats, if you swap the main colour and contrast colour for the second one.
(see, you can hardly even see the first two Noro stripes because of the matching greys!!)

Sticks: 4mm KP fixed circulars for the ribbing, 4.5mm KP fixed circs and then bamboo dpns for the body of the hat.

What I learned: Jogless stripes! Finally! I've tried the technique which has you pick up the stitch from the row below and knit with the new colour but it's never worked for me. But the summer IK had a nice tutorial article on jogless stripe methods - I used the slip stitch method (you slip the first stitch in the new colour on the next row). It does pull slightly, as you are slipping the same stitch all the way up (but not on every row) but it works out fine for this width of stripes.

Time: I did both hats in 4 days! 6 August 2009 - 9 August 2009. Love an easy, effective, stocking stitch pattern!

The mainly grey hat was given to a friend for his 40th birthday and the mainly Noro hat was for my brother's 50th birthday.

Pattern: No, not a weird octopussy thing, but Jonna by Norah Gaughan, from Norah Gaughan book 1. Any easy ribbed scarf with a modern twist - pointed rather than flat short ends, and balls (or bubbles as NG calls them!) instead of pompoms or fringing. I thought this would be a good option for a just turned 40yo friend (yes, the wife of the grey hat recipient!!)

Yarn: Lovely Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk dk, 4 x 50g balls in colour 0007. I actually meant to buy this yarn but in aran weight but somehow didn't...not that it really made a difference. It's such a lovely yarn to knit with, and (I hope) to wear. A real pleasure to knit. It did grow a lot on blocking (full wet block) - the scarf grew from about 190cm to about 225cm, so it ended up a little longer than I'd anticipated, but I think it works well - with the balls, I don't think you want the scarf to be too short.
(thanks to husby for his excellent modelling!)

Sticks: 4.5mm rosewood straights. I don't bring out the straight sticks very much, but when the yarn is this nice, and it's a narrowish scarf, it was the right time. Lovely sticks. I used 4.5mm bamboo dpns for the balls, which in the pattern are somewhat bizarrely are knit flat and seamed. Pah to that, I say. I knit them in the round. Yes, it was slightly fiddly doing the decreases down to i-cord, but worth it to avoid the seaming!
Time: 15 July - 21 August 2009. I gave myself plenty of time to knit this one!

Three more gift knits down, only a couple more to go, and then my big reward - I have a grand plan, which I'll tell you more about later!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Would you like to see my ... garden?

Something that has been quite exciting about our new house is seeing what appears in the garden as the seasons change. We haven't done too much in the garden yet as we want to wait and see what plants appear, where the sun goes and what other surprises might pop up!

I was very happy to discover we've got a small magnolia tree in the backyard - I love these flowers, even though all too soon they will be gone to be replaced by lots of leaves.
And these violets appeared out of nowhere after we weeded and mulched the side garden bed - the bed I'd destined for a vege patch, but I can't bear to dig up the pretty violets!!
I thought the leaves of this next plant, in the rose "garden" out the front of the house, were freesias!

So clearly I won't be getting a job on Gardening Australia! Snowdrops! Huge patches of them. Love these!

And I don't know what this little pretty is - some sort of small bromeliad I think (although the long strappy leaves probably mean it's something else...) (anyone? anyone?)
And to show off an Australian native for you overseasians, here is (I think - again - anyone please correct me if I'm wrong!) a Geraldton Wax. I'm really glad we've got a few natives, apart from anything else they don't need as much water, which is always a good thing.
And even though it's still officially winter here, the blossoms tell a different story.
Nice! Now if only I actually knew what I had growing here, I'd be better able to you know, look after the plants!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

It's getting hot in hee-yah!

Looky looky...

We finally had the chimbley cleaned today ... so tonight we had our first ever fire! It was tops!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Introducing Oscar Dog!

August is a big month of knitting for others - lots of birthdays to cater for!

First up, our nephew is turning 2 on Saturday. I recently bought The Knitted Odd-Bod Bunch by Donna Wilson - a great book full of quirky fun knitted toys - mostly animals - all with very cool back stories!

This is just the first of what I am sure will be many projects from this book - I'd like you meet Oscar Dog!
"Oscar is a rare, stripy, sausage dog. Because he has been blessed with unusually good hearing, he can hear a person coming up to ten miles away and can sometimes hear what people are saying in the next room" (from the book!)
Oscar Dog - knitted in the round, with only the ears made separately and sewn on afterwards. A very quick and easy knit!

Yarn: The pattern is originally done in worsted weight yarn. I chose 8ply cottons instead - because I had them in stash and for easy washing. 25g of Anchor Magicline (the variegated yarn) and 30g of generic 8ply cotton from Spotlight (the blue yarn). I did one row stripes (rather than two row stripes in the original pattern) as the variegated yarn is a bit "stronger" than I'd like when knit up, so the plain colour breaks it up.
Sticks: 3.5mm KP Harmony Options magic loop, plus a spare 3.5mm addi dpn for the bobble feet.
Time: Two days! 10-11 August 2009

Modifications: I made Oscar a little shorter than the pattern specified, and I made his nose in the round rather than flat - I do love to minimise seaming! I also crocheted around his ears for a neater edge.
A very nicely written pattern, although the bobble feet instructions are slightly misleading, as they suggest making 12 stitches for the bobble but only have you work six stitches. So I just made 6 stitches and worked those, and I think they turned out ok. The instructions for the tail shaping make such a cool shape!
He's a very well-trained littel fellow already - give him a tummy scritch, anyone?

Sunday, August 09, 2009

G'day Ruby Tuesday (and a sigh of relief)

First up, Phew!
Only one day of knitting, as it turns out. And yes, I'm glad GoodRoseRed won out!

While you are waiting for this one to be seamed, here's a cardi I completed earlier (but somehow didn't get around to blogging, although it has been well worn already!)
Pattern: The ubiquitous February Lady Sweater, or as I like to call her, Ruby Tuesday. Pattern by Pamela Wynne, upsizing the classic Elizabeth Zimmerman February Baby Sweater (shown here for scale - sorry it's a bit dark, the white baby cardigan sucked all the light up!!).
I wasn't sure that this pattern would suit me, given that it's got no shaping, but I decided that I didn't care, as it looked to be such a wearable cardigan. And I'm glad, because I love it, and as predicted, wear it all the time!
Yarn: Cascade 220 in colour 9404, 5 x 100g skeins (thanks, Kim!). The perfect yarn and the perfect amount, I had about 2m left! This is my first time using Cascade 220 and it won't be my last. A fabulous, inexpensive yarn in a huge range of colours. Now if only a yarn store in Sydney would stock it!
The buttons (from the Button Shop in The Rocks in Sydney) cost almost as much as the yarn!! But they are a perfect match, colourwise, and I don't regret buying them!

Sticks: KnitPicks Options 5mm.

Time: I started this last year and got the yoke done and then put it aside - I can't remember why, I suppose it turned into summer and a worsted weight cardi was less important. Picked up again in May and finished quite promptly, in a pseudo race with Bells (which she won...just!!). So 22 June 2008 - 10 June 2009.

What I learnt: I do love knitting a seamless garment!! It feels like it takes forever, but once the body is done and you get to the sleeves, it just flies by!

I love the three-quarter sleeves on this (the observant among you will notice this is the third time I've made a three-quarter or shorter sleeve cardigan this year, and Bruegel will make it four!). Your sleeves don't dip in the food. Or the washing up. Or get in the way of whatever you are knitting at the time! And since our winters are so mild anyway, full-length sleeves are rarely needed!
Thanks to my photographer and stylist, the fabulous Ms Margarita!
Love love love!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

SHOESday: I'll get you my pretties!

Fortunately I didn't have to drop my house on the Wicked Witch of the East to do so!
I first saw these on a blog (I think) of someone in the US (I think...I really can't remember who!). Then I saw them again on Gidget's Socks, and she was kind enough to tell me where she bought them - and so of course I was there in a flash! A sparkly red glittery flash! Even my husband said "oh yes, you HAD to have those!" when I showed them to him!
And I've worn them every time I've gone out of the house since I got them! Ruby slippers for the 21st century woman!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Keeping Track - July 2009

I've been putting off this post as I'm hesitant to admit to myself even how much yarn I bought this month ... but I put myself up to keeping track every month, so here we go.

In addition to that I've already flashed from Bendi, there was a bit of this as well:
So for this month:

In: 58 x 50g balls
Out: 21 x 50g balls (thanks to a big knitting month and me being able to help out a couple of ISO-ers on the Australian Knitters board on Rav!)

YTD: 138.5 x 50g balls. Enough to keep me knitting for a whole 'nother year. And that's only 7 months' worth.

Oh well, at least I've knit up some of my Bendi yarn already! Just a little thing, but I felt the need to knit with this yummeh camelbunny from Ixchel last week, so I did!
Yarn: Handspun camelbunny from Ixchel, two small skeins totalling about 50gm together. I got the wooden button from Tink's local fabric shop in Tassie. Nice!

Pattern: Stash, by Donyale Grant (weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!). I made mine narrower given I had a scant amount of yarn, and I striped the two yarns, reversing the order as I got closer to the end to ensure I made the most of the yarn.
Sticks: 5.5mm KnitPicks Harmony Options - tee hee, the sticks matched the yarn really nicely!
Time: A lovely quick knit, as you'd expect - 21-22 July 2009.