I feel like a broken record, but it’s been another busy week at work. Aside from that, I was mainly working on my Sinister Catdigan again. I forgot to take a photo of the wrong side last week. So pleased with those floats! I don’t trap them because it ruins the look of the design when you’re using high contrast colours.
I finished the yoke and grafted it to the body and sleeves. The grafting took 3-4 hours and used a lot of yarn. I thought I’d left a long enough section of wool (about three armspans) but I had to splice on some more.
I couldn’t wait to try it on. I’m pretty happy with the fit. I never button my cardigans so the width is fine. I’m a little surprised at how long it’s looking, but the neckline may bring it up a bit.
I spent over an hour picking up the stitches from the provisional cast on, and an evening researching knitting patterns for my neck decreases. I really can’t be bothered to try and calculate the decreases myself. I’m happy to pay someone who has already done it!
On Tuesday I made vegan cannelloni. It didn’t look that stunning but it tasted amazing- even if it took well over an hour longer than suggested in the recipe.
I also made a cake using some cheap rhubarb I got in Waitrose. It was delicious!
And I made french toast using my sourdough bread from last week. The bread was actually very tasty even if it looked a bit flat and the french toast livened it up perfectly.
Finally, I made some vegan mozzarella using School Night Vegan’s recipe. Yes I am obsessed with him. At first I was put off by all the speciality ingredients required for a lot of his recipes, but they really do make a difference to the texture. I now own psyllium husks, agar powder, potato and tapioca starch. Just as well I am not spending any money eating out at the moment!
If the sense of relief I felt on Monday was anything to go by, I made the correct decision in moving out of my place in London. I had two busy weekends of sorting and packing things, but all that work should make it fairly straightforward for me to move in once I find my next place, which I’m hoping to buy rather than rent.
I did have a little break from packing to darn one of my dishcloths before putting it into storage.
I also marked my compost bin in the hope that a new tenant will keep using it.
A lot of craft time has been dedicated to my Oran do Chaora/Sinister Catdigan again this week. I’ve finished both sleeves and joined them into the body, which has now been set aside.
I mentioned last week that I’d started doing the maths for the colourwork yoke. Well, unfortunately I made a really stupid error with that calculation that resulted in me spending about four hours reducing the body section by one stitch.
Fortunately I re-checked my sums before I did anything too major and realised my mistake. I’ve now picked that stitch back up and the numbers on my Oran do Chaora body and sleeves should match the numbers on the finished Sinister Catdigan yoke.
I’ve done the crochet provisional cast on for the yoke and the first row of cats has emerged! It’s quite hard work managing the tension with long floats and a slippery yarn but I think it’s going okay so far.
It’s funny that I was looking forward to knitting the cats and it’s only now that I’m recalling how laborious this kind of knitting can be. Working the fair isle requires quite a lot of attention. It’s very easy to make errors and I’ve had to do more than my share of undoing. But it is fun to see the cats emerge row by row- in fact it’s pretty addictive.
I’m already starting to think about how I will do the decreases for the shoulder section. I’m not that fond of the neckline of SC and I think it will look odd to do a saddle shoulder above the fair isle section. Some more planning and maths is in order next week I think.
I fed my sourdough starter again in preparation for making my first loaf. I looked at some recipes and started to get a bit stressed because of all the equipment needed. I don’t have a banneton, baking stone or a dutch oven.
The loaf is a little disappointing. I used a pan as a lid following some advice online and I think it actually restricted her growth. Now I’m contemplating investing in a Dutch oven.
This was another week of not really staying inside. I had to go to hospital for my plastic surgery follow-up, to another hospital for some work appointments, and I moved the majority of my possessions into storage.
Giving up my room wasn’t an easy decision to make, even though it makes sense. I’ve had assurance from work that it’s very unlikely that I’ll have to have to do any face-to-face work for the foreseeable future, but everything still feels uncertain. I wish it was possible for there to be more clarity around what’s likely to happen in the coming weeks and months, but I know it isn’t.
In craft-related packing, I took my sweaters out of the freezer and put them back in. I discovered some moth damage on my Better Breton sweater so I iced all the woollen items that I had stored in the same drawer. I’ll have to do some mending once my stuff is out of storage.
As the restrictions eased, Virtual Yarns starter operating again. I jumped on the opportunity to invest in a kit. I’ve been inspired by @cleocmc on Instagram, who makes a lot of Alice Starmore garments. No photos as yet but I’m sure I’ll be writing about the kit and projects soon.
This week I finished sewing in the ends on my Somewhere socks. Can’t see myself wearing hand knitted socks any time soon!
I also got a lot of work done on the second sleeve of my Oran do Chaora/Sinister catdigan. I have used one whole skein of yarn. It’s pretty exciting that soon it will be time for me to start work on that sweet sweet cat yoke! I started thinking about some of the maths and calculations since I’m moving from one pattern to the other 🤓
All in all I can’t wait for this packing to be over. Moving is such a pain. BUT I’m very exciting news, I’m hoping to buy a flat this year. Honestly if I’m able to do it that will level my life up so much. So fingers crossed all of this annoyance will be worth it in the end.
My mind is blown that this has been going on for twelve weeks now. This week I finally cast on the second sleeve for my Sinister Catdigan, I’ve been reminded that I need to take much better notes. I always assume that I will remember everything and that is simply not the way my brain works. I can’t remember whether I knit the ribbing on a smaller needle to the stocking portions of the other sleeve and body. Not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things but I’d rather the two sleeves be identical if possible. This will be the project I work on during calls.
Inspired by last week’s crafternoon rainbows, I made a birthday card for one of the girls.
I sent it with Joy mitts I’d made for her. Double rainbow FTW. I blocked them using my sock blockers since I don’t have my matts here. I tried to shrink the larger glove using some boiling water but that didn’t seem to have any impact. It was easier to block the smaller glove fairly aggressively. They’re still not exactly the same size but hey ho. Predictably I failed to take a photo before wrapping them up (in reused paper of course!) and sending them off.
I’ve sewn in all the ends on one of my Somewhere socks and a few on the second. This is a task I’m trying to do while listening to an audiobook (currently The Hate U Give, which is incredibly emotional to listen to at the moment).
Work was bananas this week so I’m relieved that I was able to have a quieter day on Friday. I bought everything to have a go at School Night Vegan’s sausage rolls but didn’t have a chance to make them until Friday. They were so good! And didn’t contain too many obscure ingredients. I’ll definitely make these again.
My sourdough starter has stalled big time. Apparently this is not uncommon if the comments on a post about troubleshooting are anything to go by.
I think I may have accidentally over-fed the starter at times (feeding 100g+100g rather than 50g+50g) because the weight was way off. This may have been part of the problem since I wasn’t feeding it enough- and indeed it started smelling of acetone, which is apparently a sign that it’s hungry. I felt weird discarding so much of it so I compromised and now discard and feed 150g total. I’ve been eating some of the discard in the mornings because I hate throwing away all that flour. I make a kind of freeform pikelet, which is ok if a little gummy, like the crumpets I attempted last week.
I need to call it something other than ‘discard’ because that makes it sound gross. I just read someone calling it excess unfed starter so I’m going to try that.
I’m also keeping the jar in a different room because the kitchen is quite cold. I actually put it in my bed during the day. All in all I’m frustrated with the starter. I was led to believe that it was pretty foolproof so I feel like an idiot not being able to mix flour and water properly. I’d actually planned a whole meal around a sourdough focaccia which is far from possible at this point. Oh, the hubris.
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.
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.
Humboldt by Anna Maltz
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
Previous posts in this series
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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
I bought some fibre in Finland with the aim of knitting some replacements for our kitchen sponges. I’m pleased to say that I’ve finished! And I thought I would write up a quick pattern.
When I searched on Ravelry, I couldn’t find many free patterns for simple dishcloths, hence making up my own. I believe the technical term for this stitch pattern is a 3*3 garter rib.
22sts and 38 rows to 10cm in pattern.
I used a 3.5mm needle. I tried a 4mm first but I wasn’t happy with how the work looked.
A characteristic of this yarn is that it varies significantly in width- not really a problem, especially since a dischcloth doesn’t exactly have to be an item of great beauty, but I don’t like uneven knitting.
Cast on 27 stitches. I used long-tail CO.
Rows 1-3: Knit
4 (WS). K3 P3
5 (RS). K
Repeat rows 4-5 until work reaches desired length (I went for 12cm).
Knit two more rows.
I used the yarn tail to crochet a hanging loop in the corner.
I managed to see another inspirational exhibition in Helsinki. My flatmate and I were visiting our Finish friend and I read that we were just in time to catch the Grayson Perry show at the Kiasma gallery. I went to see his exhibition when I was in Bristol for a conference less than a year ago but was still keen to see more.
Folk Wisdom contained some different pieces to the last Perry exhibition I visited. Again, I was impressed by how prolific he is as an artist and how he brings methods that might be traditionally regarded as craft into the realm of high art.
I love Perry as a cultural commentator. The image below is just part of one of his huge tapestries, itself part of a series. However, it really captures an issue that comes up a lot in my work as a psychologist.
I’ve been noticing how artists that inspire me have included my current interests in their work. For example, the textiles on show at the Frida Kahlo exhibition I visited. Similarly, I was taken by the garments Perry had made.
I have been getting more interested in beading since doing some work on the vintage jacket I picked up. I’m hoping to do an embroidery and/or beading class at the Royal School of Needlework soon. I noticed that part of one of Perry’s tapestries was beaded.
While in Helsinki we were staying near an adorable LYS called Snurre. Of course I coudn’t resist possing in and my flatmate was very patient while I looked at every single skein in the shop. I had hoped to get yarn that was linked to Finland in some way but they were a little low on stock. I ended up getting this, which I plan to use for some new fingerless gloves/mittens to match my planned Kelly anorak, if I ever get around to making it. I impulse-bought the buttons, which are made from coconut husk and would be perfect for a cardigan.
I also picked up this hemp yarn at the local craft store in my friend’s hometown. I’m planning to use it to make some plastic-free kitchen scourers.
Finally, we managed a visit to the national craft museum in Jyvaskyla. I highly recommend it. It’s got lots of interactive exhibits, which are always a plus for me. I resent not being allowed to touch stuff in museums. I tried my hand at the loom pictured and I’m even more sure that I want to have a proper go at weaving.
Not long after writing my last blog post, I tried on my Humboldt sweater and realised that I wasn’t happy with how the gradient was looking. When I calculated how long I wanted each section of colour to be, I didn’t know that I had made a mistake when measuring my Port Charlotte sweater and therefore the dimensions were out. Also, the ribbing section is much more navy than turquoise, meaning that the turquoise section looked way too narrow.
The only viable solution was to rip back to where I finished the turquoise part.
This marl is pretty difficult to photograph! When I was looking yesterday, I couldn’t see much of a difference but now I can. I spent quite a bit of time examining the pattern schematic to try and think about the look of the gradient rather than just calculating it and I’m hoping this way will work out nicely. I will also have to think about how to do the sleeves, which will be much longer than the body.
I’ve managed to finish knitting the body and I think the length is looking as I want it. It feels so weird to be deliberately making a jumper too short!
I managed to cast on my first sleeve so that I could work on it on a flight. Despite the current heatwave in London, I’ve been making decent progress.
Now having a bit of a dilemma about how I want the gradient to look on the sleeves! Maybe it’s time for another lifeline…
Pattern: Humboldt by Anna Maltz