fadedquiltyarn This yarn has been sitting in my stash for quite some time. I picked up eleven skeins of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in a grey-blue colourway called “Faded Quilt” when I was passing through New York City on the way back from Charleston a couple of years ago.

I may have fallen in love with the name as much as the colour.

It’s been waiting for just the right project – and I think I’ve found it. This is a diamond cable saddle shoulder sweater from the Patons Australia book 1252 Weekend knits, featuring more than a dozen sweater patterns for men and women.

The patterns are written for Patons Zhivago which, at 20 stitches to 10 cm, is a perfect match for Shelter.

fadedquiltAs Steven will know, I started out originally with a different pattern from the same book but had a panic that it might be coming out a little on the small side and if I had to go up a size I was worried that I might not have enough yarn. So I swapped to this pattern instead, and I’m actually quite glad that I did (although I like the other pattern too – for another time).

patons1252a_medium2I appear to be the first person to knit this design and I had to add it to the Ravelry pattern library myself, which is odd because it’s a great pattern and I’m hoping I might encourage some other knitters to join me in knitting it. It’s also pretty straightforward, although I should take heed that I haven’t got to joining the saddle shoulders yet – something I’ve not yet attempted. So far the back is done and I’ve started on the front and it’s all going surprisingly quickly. seascape_medium

I also decided to cast on for a slightly more complicated pattern alongside this one.

Ilam is a design from the Rowan book  Autumn knits in Cocoon. Isn’t this a great colour!? “Seascape” is a beautiful deep blue green that I absolutely fell in love with.

I usually purchase more yarn than recommended but with my last Rowan sweater I had almost four skeins left over at the end so this time I went with the recommended seven skeins. I still had a horrible foreboding feeling that it might not be quite enough, which was borne out by a couple of other knitters on Ravelry so I bought one extra skein to be sure – different dye lots, but in my test swatch I couldn’t spot any difference. My plan was to use the odd dye lot for the ribbing, so that if there was a subtle difference, the break in textures would hide it.

Ilam is a beautiful cabled men’s vee-neck sweater. These cables are way more complicated than anything I’ve done so far, with the front and back featuring panels of 8, 20 and 24 row repeats. I had to borrow Wayne’s coloured pencils to make sense of the it all. wpid-img_20150426_112353.jpg Having started though, I think the beautiful deep blue-green Seascape might not be the best choice. The dark colour makes it difficult to “read” the knitting, and it also makes it difficult to see the cables – which is at least part of the point of tackling a project like this. A lighter colour would show off the complex cables, so I’m thinking that Ilam might get put aside for another yarn, and the Seascape Cocoon might end up being used for another pattern – perhaps Askrigg.

Now that I’ve bought the extra skein, I’ll have enough yarn.

Short ribs

A small diversion from the Christmas decorations to Christmas knitting for Day 7 of the #blog12daysxmas challenge.

There was a very confusing set of instructions at the very end of the pattern for my Marash sweater which I decided I would just ignore, but as I’m now almost at the finish line it seems that I finally must turn my attention to them.

Marash features a ribbed collar, which I’ve done before on other sweaters, but this one is more sophisticated using short rows to add shape to the back of the neck.


My knitting helper, Kuma

It took me ages and I lost count of the number of times I ripped back before I finally figured it out and settled on a method for wrapping and turning.

The trouble, for me anyway, was that all the short row wrap instructions I found referred to the “knit side” and the “purl side” and my short rows are in 1×1 rib. Some of the instructions were a little sparse too on how you should pick up the yarn wraps to hide them, and they all talked about hiding the wraps on the purl side or the wrong side and I didn’t have a purl side. Hmmm.

After experimenting with Japanese short rows I decided to go down the traditional path, wrapping and turning and catching the wrapped yarn on the return row – although I’ll definitely try out Japanese short rows another time.

To adapt the instructions for wrapping and turning to 1×1 ribbing I worked in rib to the point of the turn and worked as if I was on the side for the last stitch before the turn. So if I wrapped on a purl stitch I used the wrapping instructions as for the previous knit stitch which kept my yarn in the right position. Then when I came back  to pick up the wrapped stitch I followed the instructions for that stitch, so if it was a wrapped purl stitch I used the instructions for the purl side.

wpid-img_20141230_054050.jpgIt worked out well – it’s quite magical really how the short rows turn knitting into a three dimensional shape – but I seem to have ended up on the collar’s right side when I should have ended on the wrong side, and I’ve also spotted one stitch that I didn’t “unwrap” correctly. This is something you need to do at a quiet time with no interuptions.

I know that the great Elizabeth Zimmermann said that if you couldn’t spot the mistake while galloping past on a horse, then don’t sweat it (I may have paraphrased) but I know that things this this worry me so I’m going to consider this the practice run and I’ll rip the collar back and do it again properly. On the weekend.

* My knitting helper Kuma has decided that he likes to snuggle his nose into my current knitting project, while I’m knitting it. Not really helping.

Day 6: a kawaii Christmas

Day 6 of twelve days of Christmas decorations for the #blog12daysxmas challenge.

wpid-wp-1419910813004.jpegかわいいですね!Memories of a Japan holiday.

I love Loft in Japan, a lifestyle department store full of quirky, interesting things that you didn’t know you needed, but you do! In 2014 we visited the large new Loft co-located with the Muji flagship store in Yurakucho, Tokyo. It’s great, but I think the Loft store in Shibuya is still my favourite where we got these hanging Christmas decorations in 2007. There’s also a matching set of finger puppets.

Day 5: a Swanky Christmas

Day 5 of twelve days of Christmas decorations for the #blog12daysxmas challenge.

Sally asked about a couple of the other Jonathan Adler ornaments yesterday so I thought I’d add a quick post about those.


wpid-wp-1419911466485.jpegThe elephant, squirrel and lion are hanging on the tree. The dachshund doesn’t have a hanger so he sits at the base of the tree hanging out with some other critters. These were from the Jonathan Adler store in Soho New York in 2010, except the dachshund who came from the Barnes & Noble store on Union Square.

The “New York Christmas Tree” is a small vintage aluminium and I honestly can’t remember where I found it, but it’s just the right size to display the New York baubles.

Day 4: Pee Wee Herman Christmas

Day 4 of twelve days of Christmas decorations for the #blog12daysxmas challenge.

When Wayne and I visited New York City in 2010 we scored tickets to the Pee Wee Herman Show at the Stephen Sondheim Theater on Broadway. Well, just around the corner actually, on West 43rd Street.

It was a very special night and of course we visited the souvenir stand after the show for some trinkets to take home to remember it by. One thing we didn’t buy though, and we regretted it as soon as we left the theatre, was a pack of Pee Wee Herman Christmas baubles. I was thinking they might be difficult to pack… #stupid

Anyway, the next night while walking through Times Square we decided to head back to the theatre to pick up the Christmas baubles but the door security wouldn’t let us in – at first – but we politely explained the situation and they took pity on us. The show was just about to let out so, before the crowds emerged through the doors, we were quickly ushered over to the merchandise stand to make our purchase.

I put the Pee Wee decorations together with the pottery animals from Jonathan Adler on the “New York Christmas Tree”…


Day 3: A Westie for Christmas

Day 3 of twelve days of Christmas decorations for the #blog12daysxmas challenge.

When I went to the Charleston library conference late last year to give a paper about ebooks I managed to wrangle a stopover in New York City on the way home. Life can be tough sometimes.

Before my late afternoon flight home on the last day I headed down to the Soho district, intending to visit Purl Soho on Broome Street – sadly closed the morning I visited, although it was supposed to be open – and then to the Jonathan Adler store around the corner on Greene Street.

wpid-wp-1419740791194.jpegJonathan Adler had just moved from a little way up the street and was covered in scaffolding due to building works, such that I walked past it twice before I finally found the front door.
When Wayne and I visited New York in 2010 we’d picked up some beautiful pottery Christmas decorations and I wanted to buy one more as a special gift.

I took ages trying to decide on a decoration. The shop assistant was gushing over a silver cat, but I thought it was perhaps more her than us, and I decided instead on a white pottery West Highland Terrier with his tongue sticking out.


Day 2: Jingle bell garland

Day 2 of twelve days of Christmas decorations for the #blog12daysxmas challenge.

A simple idea to go with the knitted Christmas balls on my tree, a crocheted tweedy jingle bell garland…


The idea came from DIY Maven’s 12 Days of CRAFTSmas – it’s also on Ravelry – although my garland is a little more petite since I only had 18 jingle bells in my pack from Daiso and DIY Maven’s design is for 50 bells.

Given I had less to work with and no time to get to the shops for more, I spaced them out a bit further with 25 crochet chains between each bell rather than 15. Even with more bells I’d space them out a bit further because my yarn choice was on the lighter side too – Rowan Felted Tweed DK, the same yarn I used for the Christmas balls, and more of a sport weight really rather than the worsted weight yarn called for in the pattern.

It’s a great and easy idea to decorate the tree, so I think I’ll pick up some more jingle bells and make some more for next year’s tree.