Day 18 of #blogjune
I try to learn one new thing every year and I decided at the start of 2013 that this would be the year to learn fair isle knitting. The fates arranged for me to connect with a lovely knitter, knitting teacher and blogger Knittingsarah who, on New Year’s Day, posted an idea for a year long knitalong to knit one Christmas ball a month from Arne and Carlos’s 55 Christmas balls to knit. I’d got the book as a Christmas present a year earlier but had never got around to starting so this was my chance! It would be so much more fun with other people knitting along, the more the merrier, and so the Merry Knitalong was born.
A little while later Martine of the wonderful iMake podcast mentioned on her blog that she too wanted to learn fair isle knitting so I suggested that she might like to join Sarah’s Merry Knitalong too. Even better, Martine offered to co-host the knitalong via her iMake Ravelry forum and so the Merry Knitalong became even bigger and better. It has been the greatest pleasure to be involved and to get to know Sarah and Martine through the year.
The June challenge in the Merry Knitalong is the Heart and here it is, just finished today. I really enjoyed making this one.
We’re only half way through 2013 and I already have quite a collection of Christmas balls — they’re going to look very special on the Christmas tree at the end of the year.
The Merry Knitalong is also featured in episode 52 of Martine’s iMake podcast ”Crafty pals”. Pop over and have a listen.
Oh, and sometimes you even get to hear from Arne and Carlos…
Day 16 of #blogjune
I have been meaning to learn how to crochet for the longest time but I just couldn’t seem to get the hang of it until I got hold of Crochet step by step by Sally Harding. It’s one of a series of beginners’ craft books by Dorling Kindersley and I have to say that the explanations and photos are brilliant. Reading this book, it all suddenly made sense.
Once I’d practised the basics for a bit I decided to try a project, something simple for practice, so I chose the “Simple dishcloth” from Erika Knight’s Crochet workshop.
It’s just a square of double crochet (using the British terminology) but it helped me to learn the basic stitch and structure. For a while there I was adding and losing stitches all over the place but this actually came out square.
The green stripe is a nice 50s touch too, added in slip stitch once you’ve finished. Now to think about what to do next.
Day 10 of #blogjune
Some people think you’d have to be mad to try to match up the colours on Noro socks, but after I managed to get the colour repeats to line up the first time I knitted socks with Silk Garden I wrote down the formula and I’ve been following it ever since. That is, except when I make a stupid mistake as I did with the second sock of my current project.
I use a basic top down pattern and the formula is to knit 56 rows of the cuff before starting on the heel flap, then from picking up stitches for the gusset knit 70 rows before beginning the toe decreases. Sadly for my second sock I accidentally reversed those numbers so I ended up with a long cuff and a very short foot, which of course I didn’t notice until I’d nearly finished. After ripping back to row 56, I’m back on track again which is a good thing because I have to get these finished soon — I need the needles for the Merry Knitalong Christmas ball for June!
I’m a man but I don’t have very big feet so I think these socks would fit the proverbial “average size foot” that you see in some patterns. You can get two matching socks out of one ball of Silk Garden with a bit left over, so you could lengthen the foot a bit if you need to.
Of course, your plans for matching socks will be thwarted if the Noro Gods throw in a knot and an abrupt colour change, as once happened to me. I now wind the skein into two balls so I can see the colour repeats and check for knots. I also noticed in the colourway (289) I’m using for the current socks that the colour repeat is slightly shorter than usual so I had to improvise an oddment of colour at the toe to get the cuffs to match.
Another tip: if you aren’t crazy about one of the colours you can arrange things so that the colour you don’t like ends up in your foot and covered up by shoes most of the time. I did this with a pink/purple section of the socks I knit with colour 321.
Day 9 of #blogjune
Apparently yesterday was Worldwide Knit in Public Day and nobody told me!
Well, actually, the Prime Minister did, but it was too late as we had already headed into town on the tram sans knitting. I did do some knitting and even a bit of crochet later in the garden, if that counts.
We are heading out later today for a crafternoon so it will have been quite a crafty weekend. I’m taking my Noro socks, which should have been finished by now, except I made a rather stupendous mistake on the second one and had to unravel most of it. I might post on that tomorrow…
Day 8 of #blogjune, in which we segue neatly from yesterday’s discussion of Welsh names to yarn.
A few weeks back I was listening to a Cast-on podcast in which Brenda Dayne and Amy Singer were talking about the P3 knitting retreat they recently hosted in Wales. During the retreat they put on a “Tiny Perfect Marketplace” which featured “two utterly amazing Welsh dyers” one of whom was Caerthen (another great Welsh name!) who produces hand dyed yarns in Carmathen, Wales.
They have also come up with a wonderful Welsh name for future knitting retreats, Gwlana which means “wool gathering” but also means to “day dream”. I think I might day dream about going to a knitting retreat in Wales some day.
When I popped over to the Triskelion Yarn web site I spotted some lovely yarn called Rhiannon, which just happens to be my mother’s name, so I thought it would make a special present for Christmas. (It’s ok to write about it here, she doesn’t know that the Internet exists.)
At first I thought I’d buy the yarn to knit her something, but then I thought it might be nicer to give her a couple of beautiful skeins and she can come up with an idea to knit something for herself.
I’d normally go for the blues and greens, but buying yarn for someone else allows you to branch out it into colours you wouldn’t normally consider, and I decided on this terracotta colour, the colour of a fox really, and appropriately called ”My Foxy Darling”. Two skeins has almost 500 metres so plenty for a scarf and hat.
A double challenge for May and the second Christmas ball finished on the very last day of the Merry Knitalong.
The red and green look quite Christmassy together don’t they!?
These are number 14 and 15 from Arne and Carlos’s 55 Christmas balls to knit, two versions of X’s and O’s, a traditional Scandinavian pattern.
“The cross is an Andrew’s cross and the circles are the wheel of life or the sun.”
I would have finished sooner but I was having problems with the increases on the green and white one so there were a couple of false starts. I had been using the single raised increase in all my Christmas balls in the knitalong so far but, as there are colour changes in the increase stitches of this one, some of the stitches were stretched and spoiled the colour pattern. It was ok but I wondered if I could find something neater so I turned to June Hemmons Hiatt’s epic tome The Principles of knitting for some ideas.
I tried a running stitch increase, where you lift the running stitch onto the left needle and knit it, and the colour changes were certainly neater but the increase left a noticeable hole, so then I tried the twisted version where you then knit through the back of the stitch to twist it. This turned out really quite nicely, so that’s what I did.
Unfortunately my decreases at the top didn’t turn out quite so well, but after all the false starts, and it being the evening of the very last day in May as I got to the top, I decided to plow on and finish it regardless. Notice how I have artfully arranged my photo so you can’t see the top? I’ll just drape some tinsel over it when it’s hanging on the Christmas tree.
ps: Con at Flexnib is hosting the annual Blog every day in June challenge for a lovely bunch of Australian and New Zealand librarians. I might ask her to consider this for day 1 of the challenge and we’ll see if I’m up for it.
I finished the knitting part of my cable tweed sweater two or three weeks ago but it’s taken me the past couple of weekends to get all the seaming done. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from past projects it’s that I need good light and to take my time with finishing, otherwise I know I’ll just get impatient and end up making a stupid mistake. But after a couple of weekends of steady seaming here it is done, just needs to be washed and blocked.
It was a sunny autumn day yesterday with good light, perfect for sitting on the back step with the seaming needle, but just as I finished towards evening it suddenly turned very chilly so I put my newly finished sweater on as soon as it was done. Good news! It fits perfectly and it’s super cosy and warm.
I’m also working on the second of my “Last of Noro” socks and on the home stretch. I think these are my fifth pair of Silk Garden socks from when I went on a crazed Noro buying spree, so I think it’s now time to look around for another sock yarn to try out. I was going to head out to the the first day of the Morris & Sons sale yesterday to do just that, and also to check out their Saturday stitch’n bitch which David told me about, but I’ve come down with a head cold so decided to visit later in the week — the first day of the sale can get a bit crazy!
I need to finish these so I can get started on the second Christmas ball for May in the Merry Knitalong. I’ve knit all the balls in red and white so far but I’ve got some Christmassy green yarn ready for the next one.
And in other exciting news I think I have finally figured out the basics of crochet with the excellent Crochet step by step by Sally Harding that I picked up with a book voucher at Readers Feast in Collins Street. I had a couple of attempts at swatching while watching the Eurovision finals last weekend and then started on a simple project, the aptly named “Simple washcloth” by Erika Knight from her Crochet workshop. I’m still adding or losing a stitch at the edges sometimes, but otherwise it’s going quite well for a first attempt I think.
I got out a couple of books yesterday and that ball of orange cotton yarn that I bought on sale ages ago and settled down to teach myself crochet. It took a while to understand what I was supposed to be doing and I had to cross check several times between the books which sometimes told me to do different things — I don’t think there is ever one book that tells you everything you need to know, which is why it’s ok to buy lots of craft books.
Anyway… I was finally sort of getting the hang of it, although my little swatch was quite ropey really and I kept adding and losing stitches at the edges, but I was quite chuffed that at least the middle was actually looking pretty ok! I put a picture up on Instagram and several people took the time to offer encouraging words. Thank you!
Last night I decided to start a second swatch and this one turned out much better. The movements with yarn and hook are starting to feel more natural too, although it is probably not a good idea to learn crochet while live tweeting a Eurovision semi final, and I did add an extra stitch at one point so I just removed it when I noticed it a row or two later.
The yarn is quite soft so I might use this for cleaning my glasses.
The green yarn has arrived for the second of my Christmas balls for May in the Merry Knitalong, so I made sure to finish off the first one. It’s the second version of the Xs and Os design from Arne and Carlos’s 55 Christmas balls to knit, and I’ll be using the green yarn for the first version. I think they’ll look quite nice together.
The cable tweed jumper is almost finished, just in time for Winter I would have said, but we’re having a bit of an Indian Summer in Melbourne. I had a day off work yesterday and was pottering around the garden in a T-shirt and shorts.
The neckline is now finished so there’s just some seaming to go. There was a bit of mathematics involved, so I got out pen and paper to calculate out how many stitches and where to pick up at the neckline edges, allowing for a couple of extra stitches at the left shoulder which is yet to be seamed together.
Unfortunately my careful calculations didn’t save me from a stupid mistake in using the wrong size needles to knit the neckband but at least I noticed just before I cast off so it could have been worse, and I was able to rip back to the row where I had picked up and start over.
The Digger’s Club Winter Gardening catalogue arrived in the post this week, which is always inspiring, so with the ground still warm and a little rain expected tomorrow I planted some more seeds in the kitchen garden… two varieties of carrot, Early Chantenay and All Seasons, and some swede turnips, plus a pot of chives in a sunny spot by the back door. I’m also planning to put down seeds in seed trays for silverbeet, spinach, lettuce and spring onion.
It’s amazing how much you can get done just with one day off work. I also finished the first of the “last of Noro” socks.
I usually cast on for the second sock right away but I need the needles for the Merry Knitalong Christmas balls so the second sock will have to wait! There are two Christmas balls in the knitalong this month and I’ve decided to knit the first one in green and white, but my green yarn hasn’t arrived in the post box yet, so I’ve cast on for the second one which I’ll do in red and white. This is ”X’s and “O’s”, number 15 from Arne and Carlos’s 55 Christmas balls to knit.
KnittingSarah has just posted the May challenge for the Merry Knitalong, along with a beautiful story to keep in mind as we knit on May’s project. Of course I should say “projects” actually since there are two balls for this month. I’ve knit all my Christmas balls in red and white so far but I think I might take this month’s challenge as a chance to branch out a bit so, inspired by Martine’s example, I’m going to order some green yarn for at least one of the May balls.
Just as well I’ll have to wait a bit to get started as I realise I’m already using the DPNs I need for the Christmas balls on a sock. This is the last skein of Silk Garden sock yarn from my Noro stash, colourway 289, a mix of blues, greens and brick red.
Hopefully by the time I’ve finished the socks my green yarn for the Christmas ball will have arrived.
The title of this post reminded me of The Last of Sheila which we must watch it again soon. Have you seen it? I did a little review a while back, highly recommended!