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I’ve finally managed to get some pictures of my mermaid Humboldt sweater! I finished knitting it months ago, but it was far too warm to wear it for some modelled pictures. I took the sweater up to Edinburgh, where I was competing with my quidditch team in Highlander Cup VII (we won by the way) and managed to get some pictures.

All in all, I spent over a year working on this project. I consider that to be time very well spent. I was able to transform two garments that weren’t getting any love into a new sweater that I hope will bring me joy for many years to come.

Sweaters taken from Ravelry

When I first learnt to knit ten years ago, I was definitely more of an ‘item’ knitter than a ‘process’ knitter. I was desperate to finish projects, sometimes staying up all night to get them done. As the years have gone on, I’ve become aware of how important it is to plan a project. To swatch, to measure, to research yarn. As I’ve spent time on these preparatory stages, I’ve started to enjoy them for their own sake. I feel confident that all the work will pay dividends. And there is pleasure to be taken from the planning itself- from being meticulous, from experimenting and thinking deeply about what I am creating.

Fortunately, this fits in perfectly with my burgeoning anti-consumerist values. Just because you’re a maker doesn’t make you immune from the pernicious influence of fast fashion. It’s easy to feel like you need to churn out a certain number of projects each month, or that you need to compulsively buy yarn or fabric for your stash. I don’t want to become a Smaug enviously guarding a big pile of fibre. I want a carefully curated wardrobe full of items that I enjoy making and wearing.

This is probably the most alterations I have made to a pattern:

  • Very different gauge
  • Worked pattern with less ease than recommended
  • Held yarn triple to incorporate ombre effect
  • Provisional cast-on and tubular cast-off used throughout
  • Altered neckline

I also did so much ripping that I have probably knit this sweater 1.5 times:

  • Unravelled a load of the body because I wasn’t happy with the ombre
  • Unravelled most of a sleeve to incorporate all of my remaining turquoise yarn
  • Unravelled the neckline twice to get it to look the way I wanted

I’m glad that I am much more at peace with ripping and re-knitting these days. Again, it is part of the process.

Pattern

Humboldt by Anna Maltz

Yarn

3 skeins Malabrigo sock

4 balls Rowan Kidsilk Haze*

2 balls Rowan Kidsilk Haze Glamour*

I have nearly one ball of the lightest blue Kidsilk and a couple of small balls of the sock yarn remaining

*I held the Rowan yarn double, which is why I used so much

Original cost of materials

Sock yarn: £39

Kidsilk: £50-60 (six balls @8.95 = £53.70 but I can’t remember what I actually paid)

Cost of additional materials

Two balls of KidSilk haze @ 8.95 each = £17.90

Ravelry project page

Previous posts in this series

Planning

Ripping out a cardigan

Frogging a sweater

WiP Weds 1

WiP Weds 2

WiP Weds 3

WiP Weds 4


For some reason, I’ve been more prone to shopping over the past month or so. I’m not sure if it’s just because I’ve been a bit stressed out and feel the need to buy myself presents to give myself the illusion that life is worth living. When I received a Kate Davies newsletter saying that her dyed shades of buachaille were on sale, I knew that my credit card was likely to take a hit. I love to support small female-led businesses when I can.

Oran do Chaora

Copyright Kate Davies

I ended up buying a kit to make the Oran do Chaora cardigan.

I got the blue colourway, which is called between weathers. I love the way Kate’s work is inspired by the natural world around her. Luckily the pattern was included because I thought that it was included in Inspired by Islay, of which I have a copy, but I was wrong.

Sinister catdigan

Copyright Marna Gilligan

When I was clicking through Ravelry looking for inspiration pictures, I remembered the Sinister Catdigan that I’ve had saved in my favourites for a while. I just love the way the kitties look.

I’d seen that someone had knitted a plain Oran do Chaora. My initial (mean) thought was that it was silly since the cables are the main feature of the pattern. But then I started to wonder whether I could incorporate a colourwork yoke into the cardigan. I wear a lot of blue and have a RTW navy blue cardi that I wear a lot already. I feel like a cute cat cardigan could add a lot to my life.

I dug through my stash to see what I could use for the contrast colours and I’m thinking about the leftovers from my She Loves Wool sweater.

I like the way the colours look together, but I am a little apprehensive about using two such different yarns in the same garment. Buachaille is a relatively rustic and sheepy yarn (for me), while sugar baby alpaca is super soft and feels a bit more processed. There is also a slight difference in my gauge. However, I am drawn to the idea of using the yarn that I already have rather than buying something new.

I think I’m going to steam ahead regardless. Oran do Chaora is knit from the bottom up, so I can always unravel and re-knit the yoke if I find that the alpaca really doesn’t work. I haven’t quite decided yet whether to buy the sinister catdigan pattern. I’m pretty sure that I could recreate the yoke without needing to purchase the pattern, but I also feel that the designer has created something very cool and unique and should be remunerated for that. I prefer the cardigan style of ODC so the fair isle will most likely be the only design element I use from the other pattern.

As always, I’d forgotten how boring it is to knit flat stocking stitch- though not quite as bad as the long stretch of ribbing. As usual, I used a tubular cast on (Ysolda method) because I love the way it looks. I’m sure no one else will ever notice this little detail, but it’s still worth the extra time to me. As I also often do, I forgot that you’re meant to knit the ribbing on a slightly smaller needle. That’s something that I don’t think makes a big enough difference to re-do, so I will be leaving it.

Yarn: Buachaille by Kate Davies

Pattern: Oran do Chaora x The Sinister Catdigan

Ravelry project page


Without tempting fate, this should be my last WiP Wednesday about this project. I did quite a lot more work on this sweater after my most recent post about it, which I think is worthy of some blog space.

Finishing the sleeves was quite straightforward and I joined the sleeves and body for the yoke. It was quite fun to work the marlisle pattern again, which was just as well because the first few rounds of the yoke feel incredibly long after the relative speed of the sleeves.

Checking the finished projects on Ravelry, I saw that there was a lot of variability in the necklines. Some knitters (including me) write quite detailed notes on their projects, while others don’t add anything. It was hard to tell how my project was going to turn out. I added a lifeline before working the neck shaping and I’m glad that I did.

A few rows into the neck shaping as written, it became obvious that the pattern is for a boat neck. Boat is one of my least favourite necklines- I just don’t think it suits me. I ripped back to my lifeline before going on holiday.

In the end I decided to tackle changing the neckline in two ways. I added more increases (every other row rather than once every three rows) along the raglan seams in the body on both the front and back. Since I have quite broad shoulders, I don’t like excess fabric  to accentuate that part of my body. I also changed the short-row shaping on the front neckline.

I had to do some more ripping when I accidentally knit the additional raglan decreases before I had calculated the changes to the neckline shaping. I used a combination of eyeballing and maths to work out how I wanted it to look. I think I’ve mentioned before that one of my pet peeves is having a t-shirt showing when I am wearing a sweater. I just think it looks messy. So my aim was a close neck that should cover the layer beneath.

I visually estimated the number of stitches I wanted left and then calculated which rate of decreases would get me closest

I took some pictures of the notebook pages where I did my quick maths. Kate Davies wrote a recent blog post about knitting and creativity. It discusses the idea that knitting is ‘relaxing’ at the expense of allowing knitting to be creative, engaging and absorbing. This relates to the idea that ‘women’s work’ is something straightforward and mindless, or even frivolous.

Even when following a pattern, knitting can involve a lot of processes that are not remotely relaxing. Undoing work can be frustrating. Figuring out how to change a design is a highly creative problem-solving endeavour, bringing to bear all the knowledge one gains through years of practice. It is an engineering project. Part of the reason I write all of these WiP posts is to give an impression of the work that goes on behind the scenes. When you say, “I made it,” most people have no idea of what that actually means.

In the end, I didn’t have quite enough of the light blue kidsilk to finish the sweater, so I had to buy one more ball. Somehow I hadn’t noticed that the balls are £8.95 each last time I went to John Lewis! I will have most of a ball left over.

The neck ribbing is virtually done now, so the final stage will be the finishing. I am using I-cord edging throughout, which I hope will give a very clean finish. It’s currently a bit warm for a sweater, but knowing English weather I imagine I will find an opportunity to get some pics once this garment is ready to wear.

Previous posts in this series

Planning

Ripping out a cardigan

Frogging a sweater

WiP Weds 1

WiP Weds 2

WiP Weds 3

Ravelry project page


Decided to make a little post about this toy clanger, that I never finished knitting, in case it helps anyone else considering using this pattern. Overall I think the pattern is good and would produce a lovely finished item. Here is the Ravelry project page if you would like more information about the pattern etc.

I got quite a way into making this toy a good few years ago. I think I originally started it because my boyfriend at the time liked the Clangers. We split up about ten years ago now so I’m not sure that’s right. But I do know that I’ve been carrying this WiP around for a long time.

I think I got stuck on the pattern because I was a relatively inexperienced knitter at the time. I always thought I would finish it one day, hence bringing it with me on several house moves.

I had a moth problem in one of my previous houses and I’m sure that I froze this project to kill the larvae. However, when I picked it up again recently, I realised that both the yarn and the knitting had quite bad damage and evidence of infestation. I initially planned to keep what yarn I could salvage before realising- if I haven’t finished a project in a decade, when am I going to get to it? Even if I did finish it, do I actually have any need or want for the finished item?

I finally threw poor half-finished clanger the bin. I will now need to freeze the basket it was stored in as well as my mermaid Humboldt sweater, both of which were in the vicinity of the infestation.

Discarding the clanger is part of a wider attempt I’m making to de-clutter. My mother and aunt, probably the biggest female influences in my family, are enormous hoarders. While I felt that I have done my best to avoid following in their footsteps, I can’t deny that I own a lot of stuff (edit: I have denied this many times but I have now accepted the fact). Way more stuff, in fact, than it is reasonable for someone who does not own property to have. Moving the stuff between rental properties every couple years (an unfortunate but necessary part of living in London without familial wealth) is an enormous burden, both literally and metaphorically.

I have set myself a target of getting rid of half my stuff. Basically I am the Thanos of my own possessions. I’m not quite sure how I will actually quantify whether it was actually half, but I will know in myself if I have met my target. I will probably write a separate blog post about the de-clutter, but I will say that the project reflects an attempt in my life to get rid of things that no longer serve me. My relaxed hair, my burdensome possessions, and hopefully some psychological habits too. To the left, to the left.


This sweater has been in my WiP basket for several months now. Shortly after my last blog post (and taking this photo), I ran out of turquoise yarn.

I was also a bit uncertain about how to do the ombre on the sleeves. All in all, I was not feeling so inspired by this project, but fortunately that gave me the impetus to finish my She Loves Wool sweater that had been similarly languishing.

Looking at this photo with fresh eyes, I felt that it probably was time to start changing colours soon. I think it will make sense visually to have the colour change over my elbow.

Another complicating factor was the yarn. I had hoped that I had salvaged enough from my Bay sweater for this whole project but, alas, that was not the case. Even worse, I wasn’t sure which colourways of Kidsilk Haze I was working with.

I’m sure Stitch’n’Bitch, my bible in my early years as a knitter, recommends that you never throw ball bands away and thus avoid these problems. I know I followed that advice for quite some time, but old ball bands are a super annoying thing to have lying around the house. I’ve discarded them all in various house moves.

img_6209

What would make sense in the modern world would be to record this information on Ravelry. Now-me generally does that (I would like to be more fastidious about including all info, including dye lots), but unfortunately the Monique of 2013 did not. I have the colour recorded as ‘blue-green.’ I was fairly sure that the colour was ‘peacock’ but when I checked the Rowan website, there are two other shades that fit the bill. I had hoped to buy the extra yarn on eBay, but in the end I made the pilgrimage to John Lewis, praying that they had the right colours in stock. I took my swatch with me to compare.

img_6210

Not an exact match, but perhaps it is unreasonable to expect the colours to be a super close match when you buy extra yarn over six years later.

I wasn’t sure whether I would have enough of the lighter colour either, but I decided not to buy more at this stage. What I will do to try and circumvent that problem is make the section with the sequins longer than originally planned. I also wanted to use up the Kidsilk Haze Glamour.

I spent quite a bit of time knitting over the May bank holiday weekend. I was coming off an incredibly stressful week, and I needed the time to myself.

I finished the second sleeve and realised it made more sense to use up all of the turquoise yarn in the sleeves. Hopefully this will mean I have enough of the pale blue to finish the yoke without having to purchase any additional yarn.

I tried my best to make the sleeves match by weighing the yarn as I went along. Unfortunately I only have digital food scales that measure to the closest gram. Not especially helpful with mohair, which is incredibly light. Hopefully a local drug dealer will donate a more precise scale to one of the charity shops I frequent.

I have now ripped the first sleeve back to the turquoise area to insert the remaining yarn. The sleeves are lovely and quick to work so should be on to the yoke soon.

Before unravelling the first sleeve

I really really hope I am going to come out with a sweater that I am happy with. I have put a lot of work into recycling two old garments into this piece so I will be quite heartbroken if I don’t like the way it turns out. That being said, I am having a cropped sweater moment so it should slide seamlessly into my wardrobe as long as all goes to plan.

Previous posts in this series

Planning

Ripping out a cardigan

Frogging a sweater

WiP Weds 1

Ravelry project page


I finished knitting the modified spindrift shawl I’m making for my aunt with the yarn I picked up at Countess Ablaze when I was in Manchester last year. I decided to omit the eyelet rows because I didn’t want the shawl to look busy. I think the yarn speaks for itself. However, it did mean that knitting it was unbelievably boring. I just don’t like knitting stocking stitch flat, but I do really like the way that it looks.

I took these pictures when I was at Hampton Court Palace for my embroidery workshop.

I ended up doing quite a few rows of garter stitch for the border since I had quite a bit of yarn left. I didn’t want to risk running out of yarn but I needn’t have worried. I actually finished the knitting and cut the yarn in Finland, before realising that I didn’t have a darning needle with me for the sewn bind-off.

I have no recollection of how I did it the last time. I’m fairly sure I used this technique on my Bad Day shawl, since I got the idea from looking back at the boneyard shawl pattern. I used this technique. It took HOURS.

Anyway, I hope that my aunt will appreciate this gift and get a lot of use out of it.

Pattern: Spindrift shawl (modified)

Yarn: Viscount of Spark by Countess Ablaze in Bienvenue

Ravelry project page

Cost: £20


I am coming to the end of knitting my galaxy shawl, for which I am grateful. The endless stocking stitch has been deeply uninspiring to work on. I had a holiday coming up and felt that I might be able to finish the shawl on one of the plane journeys. My mind turned to new projects.

Since I was going back to Finland, it seemed appropriate to use the yarn I bought when I visited in the summer. The beautiful ice blue also seemed appropriate to the freezing weather conditions.

I had planned all along for this skein to become a third pair of convertible fingerless gloves/mittens (striped pair, rainbow pair). These are intended to go with the Kelly anorak I am working on.

I found an hour to wind the skein before my trip and packed my 2.5mm DPNs and a spare for any casting on/off that might be required.

I am trying to recreate the most recent (rainbow) pair of these mitts that I made. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have taken any notes beyond mentioning that I improvised a size in between medium and large. I wonder if I maybe took notes in Adobe reader (as you would take notes on a physical copy of a pattern) and they have been lost. I am trying to recreate the same process I followed.

I used a 3.25mm needle for the tubular cast on. It looks a little bit loose so I will try to dig out a 3mm or even 2.75mm DPN for the second glove. It’s not bad enough that it’s worth redoing.

At the moment, I am working on the fingers of the first glove. Things are going well so far. I’m enjoying working on something smaller, and with more thought required than my last project.

Pattern: Modified version of Smartphone Friendly Mitts

Yarn: Hedgehog Fibres

Ravelry project page